Is the Hollywood cliche about landmines true?

The cliche goes like that:

  1. Hero realizes he just stepped on a landmine
  2. Hero keeps his foot on the mine so it won’t go off
  3. Hero (while keeping his foot on the landmine the whole time) manages to defuse landmine
  4. Hero continues his quest

Is this how real landmines work or just a Hollywood fabrication? IMO it would be simpler and more effective if the mine exploded imidiately after being stepped on.

Usually, landmines go off when you step on them. You wouldn’t know anything until they blew up.

However, there were reports starting in the Vietnam war of landmines that did work they way Hollywood shows them – they go off when you lift your foot. It makes them more of a terror weapon.

I’ve seen reports about them out of Vietnam reporting long before there was a movie. Perhaps it’s a legend, but someone was reporting that such things existed.

And they’re buried. Be kinda easy to avoid them if you could just look across a field and see them all.

I believe there are (or were) mines that fire an explosive charge vertically which explodes at head height, sending shrapnel in a horizontal direction (designed to take out groups of people) and that these devices go off when a person steps off them.

In the US colloquial, Bouncing Betties.

It depends on the fuze you put in the mine, typically. You can fuse mines with a variety of pressure, pressure release, pressure/release or command detonated fuzes which will detonate a mine under various conditions.
Bouncing betties can certainly be fused these ways.
There are anti-handling devices on mines that do rely on the release of pressure to detonate, usually when a mine is lifted out of position.
The scenario you mention in the OP is unlikely in my experience. It would require putting pressure on the fuze, then releasing it to detonate. I don’t recall any 2-stage fuzes in my training. I’ll go to the books tomorrow and see if there’s such an animal. I doubt it though.

Correction: make that waist height

They are designed to make the soliders that did not get wounded go :eek:

I have not been to EOD (Bomb Squad) School yet. . .

. . . but when I was deployed this year, I got a crash course from the Mine Action Center guys at Bagram, and it was kind of an eye opener.

Not all Soviet mines were fused to detonate the moment pressure was completely released from the fuse. Some were meant only to be “toe poppers” that immediately went off when you stepped on them, but were so small of a charge, that they would only take off your foot–necessitating two of your buddies to remove you from the field of battle. There were plenty more set on tripwires which you wouldn’t even know of until it was too late.

The Soviet bastards were even ‘kind’ enough to paint some of the toe popper submunitions in playful colors, knowing that children (which are not fully grown, know the danger, and are not heavy enough to set off the weapon) would pick them up as toys and bring them home. I know of two children that got hit uncovering old mines, damn near 25 years later.

Back to the OP: No man, it’s all Hollywood.

At least one non-Hollywood cite for a device working that way, from a July 1998 article called “Catching Flak: Nellis bomb squad defuses danger in explosive situations”, which has the following:

It’s from an official U.S. Department of Defense publication, Airman magazine, though that probably doesn’t guarantee it’s not BS. A couple of points: This is in the context of a terrorist bombing, so that might heighten the likelihood that the person emplacing the device might want to play mind games (in order to inflict more terror) rather than just going for maximum effect and making the bomb go boom as soon as someone steps on it.

Also, reading a bit further on, after being wrapped in Kevlar body army, the lucky sergeant finally steps off the mine…and it goes “click” again and nothing happens. It misfired. Which raises the possibility that the infernal thing was supposed to blow up as soon as it was stepped on, and just misfired to begin with. After all, these are Air Force guys, what do they know about land mines? :smiley: Seriously, when the mine didn’t go off when stepped on, the experienced bomb disposal experts may have decided they’d better play it safe and assume that this mine is that one-in-a-million Hollywood-style mine that goes off when you step off rather than when you step on. You probably wouldn’t want to step on a mine, hear it go “click”, and say “Oh, obviously a dud…I’ll just casually stroll away now.” Even if that’s really what happened. (The military journalist writing the article might also have misunderstood somewhat what happened, the same civilian journalists sometimes do.)

Bouncing betties - some of them (like this Czech one) use a wire tether to control the height of the detonation. A NATO squaddie on patrol in the former yugoslavia triggered one that fired the charge up into his rucksack harness, where it jammed with a few cm of slack still in the tether wire. He stood very very still while his mates snipped the wire, then carefully took his rucksack off and they all tiptoed back to base watching very carefully where they put their feet.

I should imagine that led to a few sleepless nights for all concerned :eek:

Tripler, don’t have the cite (sorry) but I recall an article on landmines in the Economist, c.1990, showing some very pretty ones called “butterflies” - Italian make.

Just pointing out that when it comes to being bastards, there doesn’t seem to be any group on Earth where every single person knows who Daddy was…

A film where this is a major plot point: No Man’s Land (2001).

A good point. Many small mines/bomblets are painted in bright colours, either to aid clearing after the conflict or to maximise the traditional ‘this is a minefield, you really don’t want to walk through here’ psychological aspect.
For instance check out these lovely little beauties being stacked for disposal - scattered only a few short months ago, quite probably US-made. Similarly there were problems in Afghanistan because many of the bomblets were painted a bright yellow colour similar to that used on airdropped humanitarian supplies, so people were picking up bomblets thinking they were rations.

What a thoroughly depressing thread.

Humans, eh?

Nothing to add to the OP, but an anecdote about the Bouncing Betties. My father was leading a group of men up a hill in Korea during that war. He tripped a Bouncing Betty mine, sending the charge up in the air next to him. He knew he was dead and said a quick prayer, but the mine dropped harmlessly to the ground. It was a dud! He was rotated out shortly thereafter and the man who replaced him managed to trip one on his first excursion. Unfortunately, this one was not a dud. :frowning:

I know the thread is way old, but since the incident described in the article happened to my brother (Ernest Lorelli) I thought a little more information might prove interesting. It should be noted that the device was basically an IED, not a manufactured landmine and the detonator was bench tested several times after the device was rendered safe. The detonator fired 10 out of 10 times, which means that my brother’s luck account had a major withdrawal that day. Anyway, the detonator was set up to fire when weight was removed, which means it would have detonated between two people walking along the path (not that it would have made that much of a difference with that much explosive). Unfortunately the link to the article no longer works.

I’m not sure how much this’ll add but here’s a short article on its use in fiction:

I have on occasion asked a FOAF, whose job it is to disarm mines, about this once and he said that there has never been such a thing.

The terrific 1979 Australian Vietnam war film The Odd Angry Shot used this trope: after (IIRC) about 8 hours, the guy standing on the mine can’t take it any longer and just steps off.

BTW someone who has editing rights needs to add that film to the list on the TV tropes site, I don’t want to sign up to yet another site just to make one edit.

Yikes! I’m glad your brother was OK.
Askance: Actually, editing TV Tropes is like editing Wikipedia; you can edit without being logged in or even having an account. (It will ask you for the password, but it tells you what the password is–that password is just to keep out the slower-witted 'bots.)