Land Mine
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Basic Information

A land mine is a passive weapon concealed by burial in the ground. The mine is target activated, either by direct pressure, the tripping of a sensor or some other triggering device and then detonates, generally by exploding.

Some command fired devices are also included in the definition by certain authorities (such as the M8 Claymore) but these are not mines in the strict sense of the word. They are, however, closely related to the fougasse - a command fired gunpowder based device that was the ancestor of the modern mine.

Landmines are generally divided between the smaller varieties designed to target enemy personnel - many of them very small indeed and tending to cripple rather than kill - and immense anti-vehicle mines designed to kill main battle tanks1, although intermediate designs for attacking softskin vehicles are produced by some nations as well. Anti-tank mines are often fired by magnetic influence rather than pressure to make them harder to remove with explosive clearance or flailing techniques, other designs have been known to use remote triggers placed beyond the mine to disable flailing vehicles.

Besides simple explosive mines there are also those - especially anti-personnel mines - that bound into the air before exploding and "off route mines" that are designed to be positioned next to a road to attack armoured vehicles with a shaped charge.

Land mines are also relatively easy to improvise - where professionally made devices are not available a skilled explosives user can rig most forms of charge up to be target detonated. Imperial Japanese forces showed considerable ingenuity in re-tasking all kinds of munitions for mine use and a similar degree of inventiveness is displayed by Afghan insurgents against Allied Forces in the contested areas of that country. Probably the simplest design is the improvised anti-personnel device created by burying a standard small arms cartridge with its primer resting on the tip of a nail. The pressure of a target standing on the buried round will - sometimes - cause the primer to fire and shoot the bullet into the targets foot.

Tactically, mines suffer from being indiscriminate attackers - if you lose track of where they are, they will attack your forces or wandering neutrals and non-combatants just as easily as enemy units. The Falkland Islands are still plagued by poorly laid Argentinian mines from the 1982 war - either those in poorly marked minefields or those that have floated about in the wet soil. Where mines are laid promiscuously - either by area dispersal systems or as a deliberate act of terrorism - the problem is much worse. Also, like any passive weapon, they are very little use on their own and require some kind of active back up if they are to do anything but delay an enemy force.

Depending on circumstances a minefield may be composed of anti-vehicle mines, anti-personnel mines or a combination of the two. Responsible military units fence and mark their minefields (or, from time to time, fence and mark empty soil as minefields) - although not always as well as might be hoped. Depending on the circumstances, the minefield may well be fitted with anti-clearance devices of one kind or another. Used properly mines will be incorporated into a mixed defence network - often to protect other obstacles from clearance2 and backed up with active measures (normally meaning infantrymen).


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A protective minefield is usually a sign of a highly important installation. Negotiating it will be a useful challenge for the players non-combat skills.
  • Relic minefields from a previous war make amusing terrain hazards.
    • Whereas terror mines, or even just rogues, make for alarming wandering monsters - or dei ex mechanicae as required.
  • Minefield maps are a good thing for special ops PCs to be trying to steal.
  • Mines can also be a good supply of general purpose explosives - either from ones guerrilla PCs dig up or from the engineer stores of those in a professional army. British forces have recently taken to using stocks of aging bar mines as breaching charges for breaking into fortified compounds in Helmand and for collapsing underground bunkers and tunnels.
  • A classic bit of trouble is setting up a minefield, and then realizing you have to go through it.
    • Whilst this may sound wacky races, it was common in the North African campaign of WW2 where extensive minefields were used to cover under-manned flanks, but warfare had a tendency to swing from static , near siege conditions to highly mobile operations and both sides minefields could prove unexpected nuisances…
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