Mine-clearing line charge

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Detonation of a MICLIC to destroy a 1km in depth blast resistant minefield in Iraq.

A mine-clearing line charge (abbreviated MCLC and pronounced "mick lick") is used to create a breach in minefields under combat conditions. While there are many types, the basic design is for many explosive charges connected on a line to be projected onto the minefield. The charges explode, detonating any buried mines, thus clearing a path for infantrymen to cross. The system may either be man-portable, or vehicle-mounted. The systems do not guarantee clearance of all types of mines.[1]

History[edit]

Japanese MCLC launch
Line charges deploying in air
Laid out line charge being used to destroy surplus ammunition.

The British and Commonwealth developed their systems during the Second World War. The Canadians developed "Snake", an oversized application of the Bangalore Torpedo in 1941 to 1942.[2] A more flexible development was "Conger", developed in 1944, a tube that could be fired across the minefield and then filled with explosive before detonation.[3]

Conger was a 2-inch woven pipe launched by a five-inch rocket. The tube and rocket were mounted in a Universal Carrier which had been stripped out to reduce it down to an armoured tracked trailer that could be towed by a tank, often a Churchill AVRE. The rocket was fired, trailing the hose across the area to be cleared. Compressed air was then used to pump the high explosive - just over a ton of 822C - into the hose before it was detonated. Conger was used in Normandy where there were instances of premature detonation.[4]

In the postwar period the British introduced Giant Viper.

Current use[edit]

Systems in current use include the British Python, which can clear a 7.3 m wide by 180–200 m long path, and the American M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge, which can clear an 8 m wide by 100 m long path.[5] Both are large, heavy systems that are deployed in a vehicle–towed trailer. The US Army also uses the Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching System, which clears a path 0.6 to 1.0 meters by 45 meters, and is light enough to be carried by two soldiers.

Some modern mines, such as the Italian SB-33 mine, have a fuze mechanism that detonates the mine if subject to gradual, steady pressure, but locks the fuze if subject to a sudden shock. This can defeat the use of mine-clearing line charges to clear such mines.

Examples[edit]

  • Charge Line Mine Clearing (Vehicle)-Indian
  • UR-77 (УР-77) Meteorit Mineclearing System (rocket launched explosive hose),[6] replacement of the UR-67 system based on the BTR-50PK chassis.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
Bibliography
  • Swettenham, John (1968). McNaughton. Volume 2 (1939-1943). Ryerson Press. ISBN 978-0770002381. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Mine-clearing line charges at Wikimedia Commons