Sunday, April 5, 2015

A bit of minecraft

No!! Not that kind!! This kind:
As a follow-on to my two recent posts about engineers (March 8 & 28, 2015), I've added some minelaying and removal capability for my East German pioneers. 

As with most modern military forces, WarPac doctrine assigned the responsibility for sowing and removing landmines to the engineers. Though this capability was actually a divisional asset, it was often parceled out to the division's various regiments. As such, in 1981, an East German pioneer company assigned to an armored regiment would have had two GMZ-2 tracked minelayers:
As well as a couple of UR-67 mine clearing line charge vehicles:
The more modern UR-77:
had entered service only in 1979, and so, in 1981, would have been in Soviet units only. 

If you're not familiar with removing mines via line charge, the short explanation is that a small rocket is attached to a long cloth tube filled with explosives and it is then fired out over a minefield:
It lands on the far side (hopefully - tubes come in lengths up to 200 meters/approx 650 feet) leaving the cloth tube lying in and across the field. The explosives in the tube are then detonated:
and the sudden massive over-pressure causes sympathetic detonation of any mines within approx. 4 meters (13 feet) on each side of the tube (It's pretty much the identical method used during WWII, except then it was with Bangalore torpedoes). Of course, there are types of mines that are over-pressure-proof for just this reason, but that's another story. 

Pioneers assigned to a motor rifle regiment would have been equipped with the UR-67s, as well as two PMR-3 towed minelayers:
which could be towed behind any medium or heavy truck in the WarPac inventory. As you see in the above photo, racks of mines were loaded into the truck and a crew had to hand-feed them into the minelayer's chute:
Many armored units had only the PMRs, as there were never enough GMZs to go around.

Both the GMZ and the PMR were primarily for sowing antitank mines, specifically the TM-62:
which could be laid on the surface for snowy conditions or sub-surface using the layer's integral plow, which then replaced the sod after depositing the mines. Both the GMZ and the PMR sowed mines at a pre-set distance of 5.5 meters (18 feet) apart. 

And here are my GMZ-2 and UR-67 stands:
As well as a PMR-2 stand:
I had a few ZIL-157 trucks handy:
and with no other burning need for them, they were nominated.

That's the end of the long holiday weekend, but more painting is on the way for the next post.

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