The effectiveness of U.S. tanks in operations against the
Japanese has led the Japanese Army to devise an extraordinary
series of hand-carried antitank demolitions. Specially
designed to pierce armor plate or to damage vital tank parts, these
weapons may well replace the familiar Model 99 (magnetic)
armor-piercing mine as the primary weapon of Close-quarter
Combat Units—the Japanese suicide tank fighters.
The Japanese are known to have been experimenting with
such antitank charges, and, during recent operations, attempts
to use weapons of this type have been reported.
Perhaps the oddest of these antitank charges is the so-called
"Lunge Mine" encountered on Leyte Island. This weapon—an
armor-piercing charge on the end of a pole—derives its name
from the way in which it must be thrust against the side of a
tank in order to detonate.
The mine is an explosive-filled, sheet-steel cone, about 12
inches long and 8 inches in diameter at the base. As in all
hollow charges, the cavity in the bottom of the cone tends to guide
the force of the explosion out from the bottom of the cone and
against the armor plate of the target. A metal sleeve extends
from the top, or point end, of the cone and houses the simple
firing device—a nail on the end of the broomstick-like handle
which fits into the sleeve. The detonator is little more than an
ordinary blasting cap set into the top of the cone, where the
nail will strike the cap if the handle is jammed down in the
sleeve. During transport, however, the handle is held immobile
in the sleeve by a simple safety pin inserted through the
sleeve and handle. A further safety feature is a thin holding
pin, or shear wire, similarly installed through sleeve and handle.
Three legs, 5 1/4 inches long, are attached to the bottom of the
cone; the Japanese claim that these legs increase the penetrating
power of the weapon. The penetrating effect of the charge
is greater when the explosion occurs a few inches away from the armor.
|The Japanese suicide soldier will use the Lunge Mine as he would a rifle
and bayonet, thrusting the three legs of the mine base against the
side of the tank. The mine explodes on contact.|
The Japanese suicide soldier has been taught to wield this
weapon as he would a rifle and bayonet. The prescribed method
of operation is for the soldier to remove the safety pin as he
approaches the tank to be attacked, and to grasp the center of
the handle with his left hand, and the butt end with his right.
Then, holding the stick level, with the mine to the front, he
lunges forward as in a bayonet attack, thrusting the three legs
on the mine base against the side of the tank. The shock of
contact will break the shear wire and the striker nail will be
shoved into the detonator cap, thus exploding the mine as it is
held against the armor. At this point the Jap soldier's mission
ends for all time.
From experiments conducted in Manila, the Japanese claim
that the 6 1/2 pounds of explosive in the mine is capable of
penetrating 6 inches of armor, provided that the mine contacts
the plate squarely. However, if contact is made at an angle of
60 degrees, the mine is reputed to penetrate 4 inches of armor.
To date all attempts by the enemy to use the Lunge Mine against
our tanks have met with failure.
One Japanese division has advocated the use of a similar,
although simpler, device designed primarily to damage the guns
on a tank being attacked by ground troops. It consists of a
heavy demolition charge of explosive blocks to which a short
stick has been wired. One end of this stick then is inserted in
the hollow end of a bamboo pole, thus forming an easily removable
handle. Two heavy wires, bent like fishhooks, are
fastened to the other end of the charge.
A short length of fuze rigged with a pull-type fuze lighter is
installed in a demolition block near the handle, and a cord or
rope about as long as the handle is tied to the fuze lighter.
When attacking a tank with this pole charge, presumably
from ambush, the Japanese soldier is supposed to pull the cord
and ignite the fuze as he approaches his target. On reaching
the tank, he is supposed to hook the wire hooks of the charge
over the tank cannon or machine gun. As he retreats he pulls
the bamboo pole loose from the charge, and the demolition
hangs freely in position on the gun until the charge explodes.
|The Hook Charge, used to destroy tank guns, is
fastened to the gun barrel by two wire hooks. The charge is detonated
by a fuze and blasting cap lighted by an ordinary pull-type fuze lighter.|
A variation of this pole charge is a similar demolition on the
end of a 4-foot rope. The soldier armed with such a weapon
is supposed to sling the rope and explosive over the top of the
tank gun barrel and then pull the rope back towards him until
the wire hooks catch and hang on the barrel. Lacking opportunity
to attack the tank weapons, the Japanese of this division
were instructed to hang the explosives on the tank's camouflage
net, or some other likely place.
Besides the Model 99 magnetic mine, which already has been
used on a wide scale, two other hand-thrown antitank demolitions
are known to have been developed and experimented with
by the Japanese Army. They are the Conical Hand Mine and
the Experimental Hand-thrown Mine.
|The Conical Hand Mine (right) and the Experimental
Hand-thrown Mine (left, quarter-section view) are antitank grenades that
detonate on impact. They can penetrate 3/4 inch of armor.|
The Model 3 Conical Hand Mine actually is an antitank bomb
or hand grenade. This grenade has been found in captured
ammunition dumps in the Philippines, although there have been
no reported attempts by the enemy to use it. Of Japanese
naval manufacture, it comes in two sizes—one weighing
2 pounds, and the larger weighing 3 pounds. Like the Lunge
Mine, the Conical Hand Mine is a cone shaped, hollow charge
designed to direct the force of explosion against tank armor. The
large end of the grenade cone is covered by a bowl-shaped
wooden base. The whole body of the grenade is encased in a
silk bag sewn to fit tightly around the explosive unit and the
The fuze, which functions on impact, is located in the narrow
end of the bomb, and is designed to detonate regardless of
the angle at which the grenade strikes the target. To ensure
detonation, the grenade must be thrown with force. To be safe
from the effect of the explosion, the soldier who throws the
grenade must be at least 35 feet from the target. The grenade
reputedly can penetrate 3/4 inch of armor.
Approximately 20 inches of hemp-palm fibers resembling a
grass skirt are attached to the narrow end of the grenade, and
serve as a tail or stabilizer when the grenade is thrown. This
permits the grenade to strike base-first on the target.
The Experimental Hand-thrown Mine is a spherical bomb 4.7
inches in diameter. It is composed of 3 pounds of explosive
encased in a black aluminum shell. Like the Conical Hand
Mine, it is reported as capable of penetrating 3/4 inch armor,
and must be thrown from a distance of at least 30 feet
from the target.
A carrying handle and a fuze cover are attached to the outside
of the mine. During shipment the fuzes are packed separately,
and must be inserted in the mine by unscrewing the fuze
cover and inserting the fuze in the recess provided. The fuze
is similar to that on the Conical Hand Mine, and is kept
unarmed by a safety pin. Since the fuze will detonate the bomb
upon impact with the target, the mine requires careful handling
after the safety pin has been removed.