Merlin 81mm smart mortar round

Another piece of history we’ve come across in amongst a load of other stuff in a lot. Having bought a lot of demi-johns last week I spotted the ammo tin which was bundled with them. These tins can be useful for storage and are worth a few pounds each. This one, however, had an interesting label on the side, proclaiming it to be from the Experimental Stores and contain 3 inert Merlin warheads for trials on a range near Glasgow.

The Merlin 81mm smart mortar round was a weapon developed a little too late. It was a fire and forget homing round which would seek out tanks at the end of its trajectory and guide itself in for the kill. Teams could fire the projectile from 4 miles away and at the top of its flight it would start scanning for targets- moving tanks for preference, what might be stationary ones as second choice. It was intended to be fired at the masses of Soviet tanks expected to roll across Western Europe should the Cold War go hot, and be more accurate and effective than just lobbing bombs and hoping.

The Merlin was considered superior to other guided or “smart” mortar bombs being developed at the same time if only because it would have been fired from a standard piece of kit rather than requiring its own dedicated launcher. Apart from the fall of the Berlin Wall rendering unlikely the conflict for which it was developed there were also issues with getting the electronics small and reliable enough. It only ever got to the testing stage, which is where this case is from.

You can own this piece of military history, because the case is for sale in the Spinneyworld eBay shop.

Information on the Merlin from here and here.