The disadvantage of classic towed mortars is that they are mechanical and human power has to be pulled somewhere, unpack all the dishes there and start firing. If an immediate change of position is necessary, it will take some time for the soldiers to move the entire set.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

The model 85 self-propelled mortar was developed in Dubnica nad Váhom.

Czechoslovak engineers were aware of this, which is why in the 1980s in Dubnice nad Váhom, they developed the model 85 self-propelled mortar, which was built on a modified chassis of the first-generation infantry fighting vehicle and therefore eliminated the potential disadvantages of towed mortars. Since it is unique, we went to Přáslavice to see it at the 72nd Mechanized Battalion of the 7th “Dukelská” Mechanized Brigade, where this car serves.

The official description of the use of this vehicle will at least amuse you – it is used for silencing and destroying the enemy’s manpower, equipment and firepower deployed freely in the terrain, in shelters and shelters. It is also used for demolishing trenches, light wooden structures and creating passages in wire barriers.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

To silence and destroy manpower, the mortar has a number of tools.

We were amused by the silencing, but we are not surprised, because the mortar cannon has a caliber of 120 mm, unique automatic loading for its time, a cadence of 18 to 20 rounds per minute and firing in the range of 40° to 85° at a distance of 504 to 8,036 m. And when this mortar rain starts raining down on you, you have practically no chance to escape and you’re not into talking/singing at all.

And if you do, and you get close to this highly mobile four-seat mortar (driver, gunner, commander, loader), its integrated 12.7 mm machine gun with a capacity of 720 rounds will make emmental cheese out of any living force and lighter combat equipment. However, you may be surprised to see the 9K113 Konkurz anti-tank set, RPG-75 armored personnel carrier, hand grenades or modern BREN 2 assault rifles.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

The large caliber machine gun will also offer devastating power.

In addition, the vehicle can swim, carries its own supply of mines (up to 80 pcs), has an automatic fire extinguishing system, its own radio station with a range of up to 5 km and an efficient air filter device. For that reason, ShM vz. 85 to operate even in infested areas.

Powering the vehicle is a water-cooled, direct-injected, water-cooled flat-six diesel engine, while shifting is handled by a five-speed manual with one reverse gear. The maximum on the road is 63 km/h and the operational range is up to 550 km, mainly thanks to two fuel stations with a total volume of 500 l. The off-road consumption is also sympathetic, which is one hundred per hundred.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

The vehicle is controlled by handlebars and pedals.

The model is controlled by handlebars and pedals like in a car. The tracked vehicle can also turn on the spot. When traveling, the mortar can be lit with two halogen lamps, and it also has a night vision light for movement at night.

The vehicle has never been in combat action, however, according to its driver Michal Doseděl from the 72nd Mechanized Battalion from Přáslavice, it is ready for battle at virtually any time. According to him, the only specific feature of this technique is the control of the rear tension wheel of the belt, otherwise the machine pedals like clockwork.

In addition, it is a rarity, as only twelve pieces of this self-propelled mortar were produced, one of which is only a trainer located in the military museum in Lešany. However, the remaining eleven pieces work and are in active service, of which eight are here and three are in Slovakia.

The machine is really nice, but we still kind of hope that it will never have to go out into sharp action. But if so, it’s good to have such a capable partner on your side.

Specifications ShM vz. 85
The crew 4 people
Mass 16 000 kg
total length 7 470 mm
Overall width 2 940 mm
Total height 2940 mm
light height 370 mm
Motor UTD-20 diesel fork six cylinder
Tree permanent
Transmission manual, 5+1
Road speed 63 km/h
Driving range by road 550 km
Rate of fire 18 to 20 rounds/min.