PK-14 Directional Mines In Ukraine

Recently another interesting anti-tank mine was spotted in use in Ukraine. The Estonian PK-14 or M14 directional mine appeared in photographs which were shared online around 9 September. The PK-14 is a directional mine capable of penetrating about 50mm of armour at a distance of 50 meters.

Photos of the PK-14 in the field were shared for the first time on 9 September (via Social Media)

Unlike the German DM22, which is also in service with Ukrainian forces, the PK-14 utilises the Misznay–Schardin effect with 1.5kg charge of PBX used to create an explosively formed penetrator. The PK-14 is capable of damaging most light IFVs and AFVs. It can be set up on a small tripod or even mounted to a tree, telephone poll or post – useful for attacking targets from above.   

The Estonian defence company who manufactures the mine list it as both the PK-14 and M14.  The mine is produced by Terramil under license from another Estonian defence company, Eesti Arsenal, who also offer several training systems.

The PK-14 assembled (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the tall configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the low configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)

The PK-14 has a diopter sight which attaches to the top of the mine and allows it to be laid across the expected path of a target. The sight itself is a inexpensive moulded plastic tube with a narrow aperture which was described to us by an American serving with the Ukrainian armed forces as looking “like a scope you would find on a cheap toy gun at the corner store”. The mine’s casing is cleverly designed with a series of grooves that allow the sight to be slid into place and for the mine itself to be mounted on its tripod.

The PK-14’s sight tube (nucking_futs_yuri)

This instructional video from the manufacturers shows how the mine can be set up. The mine is command-initiated using a shock tube integrated system (STIS). This means that the mine isn’t tripped by a wire like the German DM-22 or by movement as in the Russian PTKM-1R, but in person by an operator. In practice the operator would set up the mine at a location the enemy is expected to pass, unspool the shock cord back to a concealed position and wait for the enemy vehicle to move within range of the mine.

In theory it is possible to rig the mines up with a makeshift pressure plate detonation system you could take the pressure plate from a conventional anti-tank mine like a TM-46 or TM-57 and wrap some detcord with a blasting cap at the end around it so when a vehicle rolls over it detonates the mine. The mine can be set up to strike from above so it hits the tank’s weak top armour or buried in the middle of the road so it can strike up through the vehicle’s belly armour.

The PK-14’s basic components (nucking_futs_yuri)

Special thanks to nucking_futs_yuri, who is best known as the turret gunner who ran an M2 Browning and was handed some AT4s by his vehicle crew when he called for more ammunition in a recent viral video. Yuri has provided photos and video of a PK-14 in his units inventory. Check out his video showing the components of the mine here.

It’s a small, affordable mine but it is currently unknown how many PK-14 mines have been sent to Ukraine but Estonia, along with the other Baltic states, has been a significant supporter of Ukraine since before Russia’s invasion in February. Estonia began procuring the mines for the Estonian Defence Force in 2015.

nucking_futs_yuri’s video showing the components and set up of the PK-14

In terms of how they may be deployed in Ukraine, the small size and light weight of the PK-14 may be useful for small Ukrainian reconnaissance and special forces teams operating behind Russian lines. Yuri explained that they’re preferred over convention Soviet TM mines as they’re lighter, he stated that:

“normally we each take 2 or more with us, set up our ambush and wait. We could mount them high if need be and get the top of the turret or even bury them in the middle of the road… so it explodes under the center of the tank.”

Check out Yuri’s YouTube channel and Instagram page.


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Bibliography:

PK-14 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

‘The “smart” mines produced by an Estonian company will receive their first combat missions in Ukraine’, Forte, (source)

Anti-armor mine PK-14, Terramil, (source)

PK-14 Side Mines, Eesti Arsenal, (source)

German DM22 Directional Anti-Tank Mines In Ukraine

While there has been much discussion of Germany’s transfer of RGW90 (Matador) anti-armour weapons, MANPADS and Gepard anti-air systems one weapon which has been overlooked is the DM-22 PARM.

The initial version of the mine, the DM12 PARM 1 or Panzerabwehrrichtmine was developed in the late 1980s and it entered Bundeswehr service in the early 1990s. An improved mine the DM22 PARM 2 entered production in the late 1990s. The weapons are directional anti-tank mines. These are sometimes described as off-route mines – a concept we have looked at before in our video on the British L14A1 off-route mine. The mines are deployed with a 40 meter long fiber optic trigger cable, which is laid over the area to be blocked. If there is contact with the cable, such as a vehicle driving over it, the directional mine is triggered. The mines can also be remote detonated. 

sPiBtl 901 training with a drill DM22 (Bundeswher)

The mine fires fin stabilised HEAT warhead which can accurately strike targets up 40 meters (for the DM12 PARM 1) and up to 100 meters away (for the DM22 PARM 2). Data on what the mine’s shaped charge can penetrate varies but it is capable of penetrating more than 100mm of rolled homogenous armour. The mine is made up of a warhead and a firing unit – these are mounted on a tripod which is manually sighted using a set of iron sights on the top of the mine.

Bundeswehr video showing the DM-22 in action

Once aimed across the expected area of enemy movement the trigger cable can be deployed. The fibre optic cable can be replaced with a passive infrared sensor which extends the mine’s triggering range out to 60m. The DM22 PARM 2 is said to have a more complex sensor, an effective range of 100 metres and enhanced penetration. 

A photograph of a DM-22 said to be in Ukraine which surfaced in late April 2022 (via social media)

Both mines are still in German service but only DM22s have been sighted on the ground in Ukraine so far. The first examples were photographed around the 25 April and the example was said to have been captured by Russian forces in the Izyum region. Since then further captured examples have been photographed during May 2022. The mines appear to have manufacture dates ranging from October 1997 to September 1998.

A photograph of a DM-22 said to be in Ukraine which surfaced in May 2022 (via social media)

According to a Spiegel report, from 17 May, Germany transferred 1,600 DM-22 off-route anti-tank mines and 3,000 DM-31 conventional anti-tank mines. It is unclear if there are further shipments planned.
At this time there’s no data on if they’ve been used in the field and if they have how effective they’ve proven. The current nature of the fighting would certainly appear to suit the intended purpose of the mines for use denying axis of advance and ambushing enemy vehicles.

Update 2/06/2022:

Further images of the DM22 with Ukrainian forces have been shared.


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Bibliography:

Report on German Transfers of Mines to Ukraine, Spiegel, (source)

Germany sent anti-tank grenade launchers and mines to Ukraine, Mil.In.UA, (source)

German Landmines – An Inventory, BITS, (source)

Improvised Bazooka Mine

I recently came across an interesting segment in a January 1945 US Army Combat Bulletin newsreel. It showed men of B Company of the 238th Combat Engineers setting up improvised anti-tank mines in Belgium. The mines were fashioned from Bazooka rockets!

A still from Combat Bulletin #39 showing an engineer from the 238th Combat Engineer Battalion setting up an improvised off route rocket mine on a fence post (US Army)

This is a relatively little-known application for the Bazooka’s rockets but a really interesting field expediency. The footage shows engineers cutting the cardboard tubes the Bazooka’s rockets were carried in, down and attaching them to a fence post. Essentially setting up an off-route mine or IED. The engineers run a wire back to cover for remote detonation with some batteries. 

Diagram showing how the rocket could be buried (1944 US Army field manual)

While these seems quite ad hoc it was a secondary use for the Rocket Launcher’s ammunition which was laid down in the Bazooka’s 1944 basic field manual. It doesn’t appear in the 1943 technical manual for the M1A1 launcher at all but the 1944 manual explains that 

“In addition to its use as a projectile when fired from the launcher, the rocket may be prepared for firing electrically and used as an improvised anti-tank mine.”

Diagram showing the transport packing and transit cannister tube for the M6 Rocket, the tube could be used as a makeshift launch tube (US Army)

This improvised method of use was also demonstrated in a training film for the Rocket Launcher, a Bazooka team are seen digging a pit in a road and burying a rocket in its makeshift launcher just as laid down in the manual. The training film explains it best…

A still from the 1943 US Army training film for the Bazooka, demonstrating the setting up of an improvised rocket mine (US Army)

The 238th Combat Engineer battalion fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received a commendation from Major General Matthew B. Ridgeway, commander of XVIII Corps, for helping to establish a line of defence against the German offensive. The commendation read: 

“The work of the 238th Engineer Combat Battalion in the construction of the initial barrier in the vicinity of Manhay was outstanding and materially assisted the Corps in holding off the attack of the enemy in that area.”

Illustration from a 238th Combat Engineer Battalion Association book showing knocked out German tanks around Grandmenil (238th Combat Engineer Battalion Association)

Whether this technique of improvising a mine from the rockets was used during the battle is unclear but I found the footage of the engineers demonstrating the set up fascinating. Its always interesting to see suggestions from manuals and training films put into action in the field so I was excited to come across this footage. 


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Bibliography:

238th Combat Engineer Battalion Association (source)

The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, H.C. Cole, 1965, (source)

Footage:

The Anti-Tank Rocket M6” 1943 US Army Training Film; M1 & M1A1 Bazookas, War Department

Combat Bulletin No.39, War Department

Cold War Weapons: The Off-Route Mine

During the Cold War NATO was understandably interested in capable anti-armour weapons. In this video/article we will examine the Off-Route Mine which features in footage from several British Army training films. They show a team of Royal Engineers setting up an L14A1 off-route mine ready to ambush attacking Soviet tanks.

Unlike a conventional mine which detonated vertically when a vehicle drove over it, the Off-Route Mine would be tripped by a breakwire set across a vehicles likely path. When the wire was tripped or broken the mine’s charge would be electrically detonated and the blast would project horizontally.

An Off-Route Mine in position (IWM)

What the British termed the L14A1 was developed in the early 1970s by France’s state arsenals. In French service it was known as the ‘Mine Anti char à action horizontale Modèle F1′ (or MI AC AH F1). It was manufactured throughout the 1970s and 80s by GIAT Industries.

The mine was essentially an electrically fired shape charge, it used the Misznay-Schardin effect rather than the Monroe effect. The former relies on a shallower, concave shape charge, which has a copper cone that is super heated by the explosion and fired out towards the target. This gave it the ability to project its cone further and removed the need for it to detonate in contact with the target vehicle. 

An illustration of how the Off-Route Mine works from a British Army manual

The mine had an effective range of between 70 to 80 metres and according to the 1977 French manual the projectile created by the detonation could travel up to 6km. In terms of the mine’s effectiveness the same manual states that 40m was the optimal range but no closer than 2m.

The manual also notes that “the slightest obstacle in the trajectory of the projectile (such as earth or shrubs) considerably reduces performance.” The diagram below from a 1977 French Army manual shows the effect of the mine on 70mm of armour at 40m, with 0-degrees of angle.

Effect diagram from 1977 French Army manual

When detonated the mine could throw fragments in a radius of 100m and could throw armour shards from a successful strike up to 200m from the target. The British mines came in the L27A1 kit which included a pair of the L14A1 off-route mines as well as instructions, the break wires, a night sighting tool, and an adjustable stand for mounting.

The mine’s electorally-powered detonator was powered by D cell batteries, which Sappers complained had to be frequently changed. The mine itself weighed 12kg and was packed with just over 6kg of Hexolite explosive. There was also a training version, the L28A1, which fired a paint-filled sponge to mark the side of the vehicle and confirm a hit. 

A Sapper setting up an Off-Route Mine (IWM)

The Miacah F1 was removed from French service in 2001. An improved version, the F2, was manufactured in 1996 and used by the French until the mines were withdrawn in 2004 due to corrosion. While some mines may have remained in stores, as some have been seen as late as 2016, they contravened the 1997 Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines because the break wire could in theory be tripped by a human rather than a vehicle.

It was replaced in British service by the ARGES off-round Anti-Tank Mine which fired a modified 94mm rocket with a tandem HEAT warhead. In 1997 it was reported that 4870 Off-Route mines were held by British Army stores, in line with the Ottawa Treaty this had been reduced to 0 by 1999.


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Bibliography:

Landmine Monitor Report, 2004, Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor, (source)
Landmine Monitor Report, 2000, Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor, (source)
CNEMA Report, 2000 (source)
British Army User Handbook, Mine Anti-Tank Kit L27A1 (Off Route Mine), 1980
French Army MIACAH F1 Manual, 1977

Footage:

Fighting In Woods, British Army training film, 1982, (held by the IWM, DRA 1472)
Fighting In Villages, British Army training film, 1979, (held by the IWM, DRA 1401)