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The Origins of Military Mines: Part I

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Jul 2011 21:38    Onderwerp: The Origins of Military Mines: Part I Reageer met quote

The Origins of Military Mines: Part I

By Major William C. Schneck

Innovations in mine warfare have come from a variety of sources throughout history, and it is often engineers on the ground who gain the critical insights required for the next leap forward. Mine and countermine technologies and techniques have evolved over the past 3,000 years and continue to evolve in the typical measure/countermeasure/counter-countermeasure cycle seen for other weapons. Part I of this article traces that evolution from the first underground mines through the antipersonnel mines and boobytraps used during World War II.

Early Mining

Commercial underground mining first began in the Bronze Age when surface deposits of minerals and gems were exhausted, forcing miners to follow ore veins deeper into the earth by digging vertical shafts and horizontal drifts. The earliest identified underground mines, dating from 7000 B.C., were copper mines in Anatolia, now part of Turkey. Egyptians began to mine copper and turquoise in Sinai around 3400 B.C. The following Iron Age began among the Hittites, who mined iron ore between 1900 and 1400 B.C. They used this revolutionary material to make superior weapons that greatly facilitated the conquest of their neighbors.

Early in the Bronze Age, walled cities began to appear in the Middle East to protect against raiders and other attackers. Jericho, on the west bank of the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea, is the oldest known walled city (dating from approximately 8000 B.C.). The walls at Jericho were about 7 meters high and 4 meters thick and were surrounded by a moat 9 meters wide and 3 meters deep.1 Later, protective walls developed into huge affairs. Under Nebuchadrezzar II (around 600 B.C.) the walls at Babylon increased to a thickness of about 26 meters.2

Early military mining techniques were developed in response to these walled cities and probably were devised by impressed civilian miners at the behest of conquerors. Before military mining, attackers' options were limited to blockading a city (starving them out), scaling the walls, breaching the walls with a battering ram (which began in Egypt about 2000 B.C.), or by stratagem (such as the Trojan Horse). Although the stone-throwing engine of war was first developed by the Phoenicians, the catapult was one of the first effective missile engines. It was developed for battering down town walls during the reign of Phillip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great.3 In the third century B.C., the great military engineer Archimedes built a missile engine that could hurl a 173-pound stone about 200 meters. Engineers took their name from these "ingenious" devices.4 Mechanical stone-throwing engines remained in action as late as the Siege of Rhodes in 14805 and Cortez' conquest of Mexico (around 1520). In fact, improvised grenade-throwing catapults were used in close combat situations during both world wars.

Lees verder:
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/docs/980700-schneck.htm
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Yvonne
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Geregistreerd op: 2-2-2005
Berichten: 45652

BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Jul 2011 21:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Origins of Military Mines: Part II

By Major William C. Schneck


Part II of this series traces the origins of antivehicle mines and countermine equipment. Though it may seem odd, the explosive antivehicle mine predates the appearance of the tank by more than 50 years! The continuous evolution of these weapons is driven by the defender's need to economize his forces while protecting them from attack. This, in turn, drives the development of the countermine equipment that attackers must have to successfully retain their mobility.

Antivehicle Mines

One of the earliest antivehicle "mines" was described by military engineer Philo of Byzantium around 120 B.C., when he recommended that "in front of the advanced walls (of a city) empty earthenware jars should be buried. These are placed in an upright position with their mouths upward, stopped up with seaweed or imperishable grass, and covered with earth. Troops may then pass over the jars with impunity, (but) the engines and timber towers brought up by the enemy will sink into them."1 Another early example occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., when Jewish Zealots dug a tunnel mine under one of the besieger's four massive siege engines (powerful battering rams on wheels), resulting in its destruction and a three-day delay in the battle.2 During the American Civil War, Confederate soldiers developed and employed pressure-fuzed railroad mines that destroyed at least two heavily loaded trains in Tennessee.3 To counteract the railroad mines, the Union Army improvised the first mine-clearing roller, a flatcar pushed slowly in front of a locomotive to detonate any mines ahead of it.

Lees verder:
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/docs/981100-schneck.htm
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