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"Mine Detector of the Red Army" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on WWII Russian mine detectors is taken from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 6, August 27, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


In tank warfare the Russians have discovered that the Germans attached particular importance to the use of mines. During the winter campaign, when the Russians were moving ahead slowly in some sectors, the work of the mine-detecting crews and the sappers was highly important. Some mines could be located by the small mounds of earth left after planting them, but in clearing a suspected area a "mine detector" was generally used.

The detecting instrument is a light tubular bamboo or plastic rod at one end of which is a metal ring about 1' 10" in diameter, bound with tape. At the other end is a small wooden box containing a 3-tube amplifier, batteries, a terminal board, and earphones. The box is carried in a haversack. The total weight of the box and rod is 18 3/4 lbs. (see sketch A).

The operation of the detector depends on the change in capacity which takes place when a mass of metal enters the magnetic field set up by the instrument. This change in capacity upsets the frequency ratio which is established between the circuit in the detector ring and the circuit in the amplifier when the instrument is tuned, and thus alters the tone emitted by the earphones (see sketch B).

[Russian Mine Detector]

When the sappers are called upon to locate mines they usually form a line with individuals 3 to 5 yards apart. Each man carries his "mine locator" puts on his earphones, and adjusts the tuning dials until a steady low buzz is heard. He then advances over the area to be searched with the rod in front of him so that the ring is only a few inches above the ground. When the ring passes over, or near, a mass of metal concealed in the ground or snow, the buzz rises in intensity of tone or fades out altogether. The exact position of the mass can be found by passing the rod backward and forward over the suspected area until the point of maximum interference with the magnetic field is found.

The sapper marks the location of the mine and moves forward. The follow-up crews, which are usually 40 to 60 yards to the rear, excavate the mine and remove the detonator. Although mines have been found planted in rows and checkerboard pattern, generally they are placed at irregular intervals. The Germans endeavor by their ingenuity to dull the alertness of the Red Army sappers. To counteract their deception, it is necessary to refrain from doing the obvious and guard against well-prepared traps.

For instance, mines sometimes are wired in series and, if the sapper does not investigate after disarming the first mine, he will be blown to bits by the second. Another trick common with the Germans is to plant tin cans, so that the Soviet sappers will either become careless or have their attention diverted from the live mines. The enemy also suspends mines from trees or sticks, particularly at night, for use against tanks or personnel.


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