No 5 Anti Personnel Mine

The No 5 Anti-Personnel Mine was a cardboard mine used by the British Army during World War Two. It consisted of a cardboard cylinder holding an explosive core and set off by a pressure plate on the top. It was buried in the ground and the cardboard tube made it very difficult to detect with conventional mine detectors as there was so little metal within the design. Of course it is not possible to own real examples of these mines, however some very convincing replicas have been offered on eBay of all places for under Β£10 each and it is one of these we are using as a stand in for a real mine today. The mine itself is made of a plain cardboard tube, varnished or lacquered to protect it from damp:

A pressure plate made of metal was fitted to the top, when this was depressed the explosives were set off and killed or maimed whoever was unfortunate enough to have trodden on it:

The outside of the mine is marked with its designation, batch numbers and details of its contents:

The period manual on British and enemy mines has quite extensive details of the actual mines and the period photographs show how accurate this replica is:

The USA also included details of the mine in its guidance on mine clearance in case any of its troops came across one:

Description: The mine consists of two principal components: the loaded mine body and the fuze mechanism.
The mine body consists of a cardboard cylinder and ends, containing the explosive main charge. A central well is provided for the insertion of the fuze. A 5-dram perforated C.E. pellet booster is placed around the lower portion of the central well.
The special fuze uses w waterproof igniter unit, the Detonator No. 89 Mk I, which consists of a 1.7-grain igniter cap spun into the open end of a Detonator No. 8 or No. 27. A hollow ebonite rod containing a spring-loaded striker comprises the striker unit. The striker is retained by two retaining balls, which are held engaged in a groove in the striker by a collar fitting over the outside of the rod. The fuze functions when sufficient pressure is exerted on top of the igniter to force the rod down through the collar and re-lease the retaining balls. This fuze unit is packed separately from – but in the same crate as – the mines in which it is to be used. During normal shipment and storage the mines have a wooden plug in the fuze well.
Functioning: Sufficient pressure on the fuze forces the rod down through the collar and releases the retaining balls. The spring-loaded striker is freed to initiate the explosive train.
Use: This mine is a non-metallic anti-personnel mine, designed to prevent detection by means of mine detectors. The only metallic parts used in its construction are the de-tonator, spring, balls, and striker.
Assembly and Arming: Place the mine in the ground. Remove the wooden plug from the fuze well and insert the Detonator No. 89 provided. Check the striker unit to make certain that it is properly assembled, and insert the striker unit in the fuze well above the igniter unit. Be careful to exert no pressure on the striker unit once it has been inserted in the mine.
Neutralization: To neutralize this mine, carefully remove the striker unit, lift mine, and remove detonator-igniter unit.
Remark: Due to the non-metallic construction of this mine and the small area, it will be very difficult to detect this mine either with detector or by probing.
Because of the small effective pressure area of the striker unit, it is recommended that this area be increased by placing a small piece of wood, etc., above the striker after laying. A circular steel pressure plate is provided with the later issues of this mine. The pressure plate has a small bush on its under surface, which fits over the top of the ebonite striker housing. The use of this pressure plate will eliminate the non-detectable feature of the mine, but will increase the operating efficiency by increasing the pressure area.

3 comments

  1. Mines are in general nasty to deal with, especially if you have to find them first.
    This one would make a handy demolition charge as well, just slide a det into the well and there’s room for a fuze or firing wires instead of a striker.
    On one of my courses we did a fairly large (as in dumptruck load of munitions) shot and it had mixed in with the aircraft bombs and naval shells some of the large round AT mines everyone thinks of when they hear ‘mines’ if I remember correctly they were MK15’s but may not have been. They make for great boosters, just pack the fuze wells and det up πŸ™‚

  2. That particular mine was designed by Stuart Macrae of MD1 (“Winston Churchill’s Toyshop”), and the cardboard case was a win on several fronts: it saved using metal for the casing, made the mine virtually undetectable, and annoyed the Hell out of the Ordnance Board. (It was originally designated the ‘M’ mine in 1942.)

    (I can recommend a read of “Winston Churchill’s Toyshop” by R.S. Macrae Roundwood Press 1971.)

    See also http://www.millsgrenades.co.uk/box.htm for other MD1 ‘products’.

    • Nice set, limited only by your own imagination πŸ™‚

      We used the F1 ‘five-way’ firing device, I think it was an Australian design, a couple of the setups were tricky but it worked as advertised and you could come up with more than five if you worked at it πŸ˜‰

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