Idaho Army National Guard reacquaints with mine plow fitted tanks

Out of Nampa, Idaho, the members of B Company, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion (CAB), from the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team (CBCT), bridged a 20-year gap in their units training history this November. For the first time in about 20 years, the company reacquainted themselves with the use of tank mine plows and mine rollers.
Follow Army Recognition on Google News at this link

Army Recognition Global Defense and Security news

M1A2 Abrams fitted with a mine plow device (Picture source: Thomas Alvarez, Idaho Army National Guard)

A mine plow is a tank-mounted device designed to clear a lane through a minefield, allowing other vehicles to follow. Buried land mines are plowed up and pushed outside the tank's track path or tipped over. Since modern anti-tank mines rely on a focused explosion to destroy a tank, they are useless when turned upside-down. As the tank runs over the mine, it will expend its blast down instead of upwards, causing insignificant damage, if any.

Mine rollers are companion devices working in tandem with tank mine plows or in some instances armored personnel carriers. Rollers are designed to detonate anti-tank mines. The mine roller allows engineers to clear a lane through a minefield which is protected by enemy fire.

The roller devices are usually composed of a fork or two push arm assemblies fitted to the front of a tank hull, with two banks of rollers that can be lowered in front of the tank's tracks. Each roller bank has several heavy wheels studded with short projecting steel girders. They apply a higher ground pressure than the tank's tracks. This ensures the explosion of pressure-fused anti-tank mines, which would otherwise explode under the track itself.

Formerly designated as a reconnaissance troop, B Company was reorganized to a Combined Arms Battalion in 2016. It has been in Nampa, Idaho since 2007. Nampa is approximately a 30 minute drive west from the main gate of the Idaho Army National Guards Brigade Headquarters on Gowen Field in Boise.

The U.S. Army started to test various types of mine plow on tanks during World War 2. Among the first attempts, let us mention the T1 device mounted in February 1943 at the front of an M3 Lee Medium tank. A much more successful - and impressive variant - was the T1E3 mounted on M4 Sherman medium tank which saw action on the European Theater of Operations, along with one of te "Hobard Funnies", the Sherman Crab fitted with a flail system. Much crazier variants were tested but without any follow-on.

Army Recognition Global Defense and Security news

T1 mine plow mounted on an M3 Lee/Grant tank (Picture source: U.S. National Archives) 

Army Recognition Global Defense and Security news

M4 Sherman of the 6th Armored Division fitted with a T1A3 mine plow device near Nacy, France (Picture source: U.S. National Archives)