Find a Security Clearance Job!


This chapter implements STANAG 2990.

Chapter 5

Conventional Mines

Conventional mines are hand-emplaced mines that require manual arming. This type of mine laying is labor-, resource-, and transport-intensive. Soldiers emplace conventional mines within a defined, marked boundary and lay them individually or in clusters. They record each mine location so that the mines can be recovered. Soldiers can surface lay or bury conventional mines and may place AHDs on AT mines.


The M15, M19, and M21 AT mines are used by US forces. They are shown in Figure 5-1, and their characteristics are listed in Table 5-1.

Figure 5-1. AT mines

Table 5-1. Characteristics of AT mines

Mines per
M15 w/M603 fuse K180 Pressure Blast Yes 9.9 kg 13.5 kg 1
M15 w/M624 fuse K180 (mine)
K068 (fuse)
Tilt rod Blast Yes 9.9 kg 13.5 kg 1
M19 K250 Pressure Blast Yes 9.45 kg 12.6 kg 4
M21 K181 Tilt rod or pressure SFF Yes* 4.95 kg 7.6 kg 4
*Conventional AHDs will not couple with this mine; however, the M142 multipurpose FD can be emplaced under this mine.


The M15 AT mine is 337 millimeters in diameter and 125 millimeters high. It weighs 13.5 kilograms and contains 9.9 kilograms of Composition B explosive. The primary fuse well is on the top center of the mine; secondary fuse wells are on the side and bottom. The M15 can contain the following fuses:

  • M603 fuse. When the M603 fuse is employed on the primary fuse well, the M15 is a track-width mine that is activated by 158 to 338 kilograms on the pressure plate. This produces an M-Kill.
  • M624 fuse. When the M624 fuse (with tilt rod) is employed on the primary fuse well, the M15 is a full-width mine that is activated by a deflection of 20 degrees or 1.7 kilograms of pressure to the tilt rod. Depending on the armor, this produces an M-Kill or a K-Kill.


The M19 AT mine is a low-metallic, square-shaped mine that measures 332 by 332 millimeters and is 94 millimeters high. It weighs 12.6 kilograms and contains 9.45 kilograms of Composition B explosive, a tetryl booster pellet, and an M606 integral fuse. When the setting knob on the pressure plate is in the S (safe) position, the mine cannot function by action of the main fuse. After the safety clip has been removed and the setting knob turned to the A (armed) position, a force of 157.5 to 225 kilograms on the pressure plate depresses the Belleville spring and begins the firing chain. A standard FD may be used with the M2 activator in any of the secondary fuse wells on the sides or the bottom of the mine. When the M19 is employed, it is difficult to detect because of its plastic construction. It produces an M-Kill with a blast effect.


The M21 AT mine is 230 millimeters in diameter and 206 millimeters high. It weighs 7.6 kilograms and has 4.95 kilograms of Composition H6 explosive. The mine is activated by 1.7 kilograms of pressure against a 61-centimeter-long rod on the end of the M607 fuse. It uses an M-S plate to produce a K-Kill. The M21 with tilt rod must be buried or staked (use three stakes at the 12, 4, and 8 o'clock positions) so that enemy vehicles will not tip the mine over. Without the tilt rod, the mine is activated by 130.5 kilograms of pressure on the M607 fuse and produces an M-Kill by blast effect.


The M14 and M16 AP mines are used by US forces on the Korean peninsula only. They are shown in Figure 5-2, and their characteristics are listed in Table 5-2.

Figure 5-2. AP mines

Table 5-2. Characteristics of AP mines

Explosive Weight
Mine Weight
Mines per Container
M14 K121 Pressure Blast No 28.4 g 99.4 g 90
M16-series K092 Pressure
or trip wire
Bounding frag No 450 g 3.5 kg 4


The M14 AP mine is a low-metallic blast mine consisting of a main charge (28.4 grams of tetryl) and a plastic fuse with a steel firing pin. It is cylindrical in shape (56 millimeters in diameter and 40 millimeters high) and weighs 99.4 grams. The pressure plate has an indented, yellow arrow that points to the A or S position on top of the fuse body. A force of 11.5 to 13.5 kilograms depresses the pressure plate and causes the Belleville spring to drive the firing pin into the detonator. The M14 is not designed to kill, but to incapacitate. The M14 AP mine has been modified by gluing a metal washer to the bottom of the mine. The modification was directed to improve the detectability of the mine. Unmodified mines are not authorized for use by US forces.


The M16 AP mine is a bounding fragmentation mine that consists of a mine fuse ( M605), trinitrotoluene (TNT) explosive, a propelling charge, and a projectile that are contained in a sheet-steel case. The mine is 103 millimeters in diameter, 199 millimeters high (including the fuse), and weighs 3.5 kilograms. The principal difference between the M16, M16A1, and M16A2 versions are in the construction of the detonators and boosters. The casualty radius is 27 meters for the M16 and M16A1 and 30 meters for the M16A2. A pressure of 3.6 to 9 kilograms applied on one or more of the three prongs of the M605 fuse or a pull of 1.4 to 4.5 kilograms on the trip wire will activate the mine.


The method used to lay and conceal each type of mine depends on the method of mine operations, the type of ground in which the mine is to be laid, and the type of ground cover available for camouflage.

Standard-pattern mine laying is laborious and time-consuming, but it is more effective and flexible than row mine laying and allows better mine concealment. Standard-pattern mine laying is well suited for protective minefields, and it can be used in terrain where the nature of the ground makes row mine laying impractical.

To achieve the maximum effect, mines must be laid where they cannot be seen and where a vehicle or a person exerts enough pressure to detonate them. The following rules should be applied to achieve the maximum effects of mines:


Korea Only: If the mine is activated by its prongs, it should be buried flush with the ground so that only the tips of the mechanism are exposed (Figure 5-3). A mine buried in this manner is held firmly upright. The target exerts a direct, downward pressure rather than a sideways thrust. The mine is protected from damage and is difficult to see. If it is buried more deeply, it becomes unreliable because the layer of spoil may prevent the mine mechanism from operating.

If the mine is activated by a trip wire, it should be buried so that the trip wire is at least 2 to 3 centimeters above the ground Figure 5-4).

Figure 5-3. Prong-activated AP mine

Figure 5-4. Trip-wire-activated AP mine


Mines with pressure plates will function when completely buried as long as the cushion of earth above them is not too thick. AT mines are normally buried with the top of the mine approximately 5 centimeters below ground level.

Korea Only: AP mines are usually placed in a hole and covered with camouflage material. If the hole is only slightly larger than the mine, the weight of the target may be supported by the shoulder of the hole, and the mine will fail to activate. Such bridging action can be avoided if the hole is dug much wider than the mine (Figure 5-5).

Figure 5-5. Buried mine with pressure plate


Tilt-rod fuses normally require the body of the mine to be buried and the tilt-rod assembly to be clear of the ground (Figure 5-6). A tilt-rod fuse is preferred in areas where vegetation is sufficient to conceal the extension rod. Camouflage materials are carefully used to prevent premature detonation or interference with the normal functioning of the fuse. Extension rods are camouflaged before the mine is armed. If tilt rod mines are surface-laid, they must be staked.

Figure 5-6. Buried mine with tilt rod


High pressure is required to activate AT mines. When burying a mine in soil that has a low bearing pressure (such as soft sand or clayey soil), it may be necessary to place a board or another bearing plate under the mine. Otherwise, the mine may not detonate when it is forced down.


After digging the hole for a mine, place the spoil in a sandbag to reduce the evidence of mining. If a sandbag is not available, heap the spoil. Camouflage all traces of digging after the mine is laid. If the ground cover is turf or other matted, root material, remove spoil that cannot be hidden. Cut the sod in an X, I, or U shape in the area where the mine is to be placed; lay the mine; and then roll the sod back in place to camouflage the mine. Loose earth over a mine will eventually consolidate, so the mine location should have a small mound immediately after laying (Figure 5-7). Ensure that the mound is inconspicuous and that it blends with the surrounding area. It is very important that you make a final check after concealing each mine so that you can correct faults progressively, because they cannot be corrected later.

Figure 5-7. Buried and concealed mines

AT mines in standard-pattern minefields should be buried. However if conditions dictate, mines with a single-impulse fuse may be laid on the surface. Mines with double-impulse fuses should always be buried, because if they are surface-laid, they may be physically damaged when pressure is exerted by a tracked vehicle. Buried mines also have some resistance to countermeasures, but surface-laid mines have none. Consideration must also be given to sympathetic detonation of AT mines (Table 5-3). US conventional mines do not have integral AHDs, so allow extra time to lay mines with AHDs.

Table 5-3. Sympathetic detonation chart

Surface-laid NA 4.2 m 7.6 m
Buried flush 1.5 m 2.4 m 5.5 m
Buried 5 cm NA 1.5 m 4.8 m

The difficulty of burying mines in very rocky ground and the necessity for surface laying will have a bearing on which mines are suitable. For example, small, blast-type AP mines are hard to detect and easy to camouflage. They are much easier to camouflage than larger fragmentation mines. The type of AT mine used will make little difference, because the mine's size will always make camouflage very difficult.


During large mine-laying operations, engineers seldom have sufficient manpower to carry out all minefield tasks. Other combat arms units must often provide work parties. Engineers must be capable of organizing, controlling, and supervising combined arms work parties. They must also instruct them in new equipment and techniques. Work parties may be integrated with engineers or given certain tasks that are within their capabilities.

When laying a standard-pattern minefield, consider supplementing work parties with other combat arms soldiers to perform the following:

  • Executing Class IV/V supply point or mine dump missions. Soldiers uncrate and prepare mines and remove empty boxes and residue.
  • Laying. Soldiers position mines within strips and dig holes.
  • Marking. Soldiers construct the perimeter fence and emplace mine signs.

Unpacking, preparing, and loading mines are the most time-consuming tasks when laying a row minefield; and they are ideal tasks for other combat arms soldiers.

Join the mailing list