I’ve been MIA for awhile because life got too busy once again. I’m currently visiting family in Catatonia, so I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to produce facts regularly, but I will do my best! While I’m here, I’ll be using some books from my Dad’s collection as sources, so expect a lot of World War II tidbits!
Today’s Not-Very-Friendly Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
In common with many other European armies, the Soviet Red Army maintained a number of ‘war dogs’ for various military purposes such as sniffing out explosives or even delivering messages and medical supplies in front-line areas, but there can have been few roles more bizarre for dogs to play than the Soviet dog mines that were used for a short period during World War II. Exactly how the idea of using dogs as mobile anti-tank mines came about has yet to be determined, but the idea was simple and seemed to offer great things for the hard-pressed Soviet forces during 1942.
The basic idea of the dog mine was that the dogs were trained to dive under enemy tanks whenever they appeared. Each dog carried on its back a wooden box (or packets secured to its body by a harness) and from the top of the box (or packets) protruded a vertical wooden post. When this post was pushed backwards as the dog moved under the tank it detonated the explosives contained in the box (or packets) to the detriment of the tank and the unfortunate dog. Some accounts talk of wire sensors in place of the wooden post.
For all its simplicity the idea of the dog mines did not last very long. The Red Army soon discovered that there were two main disadvantages to the idea. One was that in order to train the dogs to dive under tanks they were always given food under a tank. This was all very well, but to most dogs the familiar smells and sights under a Soviet tank were very different to those under German tanks. Thus in a battlefield situation once they were released with the explosives attached the dogs often tended to make for the familiar smells and sounds of Soviet tanks rather than the intended German tanks, with obvious results. The second snag was that the Germans soon learned of the Soviet Hundminen and spread the word through the efficient German military media machinery that all Soviet dogs likely to be encountered were rabid and were to be shot as soon as they were spotted. This alone caused the virtual disappearance of dogs all along the Eastern Front within a matter of days, making the further use of dog mines that much more unlikely. One other factor that now seems obvious was that on any battlefield the noise and general chaos in progress would unhinge any normal dogs’ behavior, making them run amok in any direction other than towards tanks of any kind, and so hazardous to anyone in their vicinity.
The Soviet dog mines did have a few successes, but their period of ‘action’ was short once their two-edged nature became apparent. The idea was not used after 1942, but there were some reports of the Viet Minh attempting to use dog mines during the fighting in Indo-China during the late 1940s. Some reports on the Red Army after 1945 still contained references to the dog mines, no doubt just in case they were used again.
Culled from: Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II
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