The German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 S-mine (Schrapnellmine , Springmine or Splittermine in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

), also known as the "Bouncing Betty," is the best-known version of a class of mines known as bounding mine
Bounding mine
A bounding mine is an anti-personnel mine designed to be used in open areas. When tripped, a small propelling charge launches the body of the mine 3-4 feet into the air, where the main charge detonates and sprays fragmentation at roughly waist height....

s. When triggered, these mines launch into the air and then detonate at about 0.9 metres (3 ft). The explosion projects a lethal spray of steel balls and fragments in all directions. The S-mine was an anti-personnel
Anti-personnel weapon
An anti-personnel weapon is one primarily used to incapacitate people, as opposed to attacking structures or vehicles.The development of defensive fortification and combat vehicles gave rise to weapons designed specifically to attack them, and thus a need to distinguish between those systems and...

Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

 developed by Germany in the 1930s and used extensively by German forces during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It was designed to be used in open areas against unshielded infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

. Two versions were produced, designated by the year of their first production: the SMi-35 and SMi-44. There are only minor differences between the two models.

The S-mine entered production in 1935 and served as a key part of the defensive strategy of the Third Reich. Until production ceased in 1945, Germany produced over 1.93 million S-mines. These mines inflicted heavy casualties and slowed, or even repelled, drives into German-held territory throughout the war. The design was lethal, successful and much imitated. The S-mine remains one of the definitive weapons of World War II.


French soldiers
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 encountered the S-mine during minor probes into the coal-rich German Saar
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 region in September 7–11, 1939, during the so-called Phoney War. The S-mine contributed to the withdrawal of these French incursions. The mine's performance in the Saar region affirmed its effectiveness in the eyes of the German leadership and prompted the United States and other countries to copy its design. After their experience, the French nicknamed the mine "the silent soldier".

The Third Reich used the S-mine heavily during the defense of its occupied territories and the German homeland during the Allied invasions of Europe
European Theatre of World War II
The European Theatre of World War II was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe from Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 until the end of the war with the German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945...

 and North Africa
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

. The mines were produced in large numbers and planted liberally by defending German units. For example, the German Tenth Army deployed over 23,000 of them as part of their defense preparation during the Allied invasion
Allied invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group during the Second World War. The operation followed the successful invasion of Sicily during the Italian Campaign...

 of Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...


S-mines were deployed on the beaches of Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 in preparation for the anticipated invasion as part of a general program of heavy mining and fortification. On the Ils-St.-Marcouf, just off Utah Beach, where the Allied planners feared the Germans had established heavy gun batteries, Rommel had ordered S-mines to be "sown like grass seed." To build the Atlantic Wall, Germans deployed millions of land mines of various types, anti-personnel mines (such as the S-mine), dug hundreds of kilometers of trenches, laid barbed wire, and constructed thousands of beach obstacles. The mines were subsequently used to defend German positions during the Battle of Normandy
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 and in the defense of Northern France and the German border. S-mines were typically used in combination with anti-tank mines to resist the advances of both armor
Armoured warfare
Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

 and infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

. The Allies removed an estimated 15,000 unexploded mines from dunes by Pouppeville, after the initial invasion.

The S-mine acquired its cynical nickname "Bouncing Betty" from American infantrymen. The S-mine had a great psychological effect on Allied forces because of its tendency to seriously maim, rather than kill, the infantryman. The German habit of laying the mines around anti-tank and anti-vehicle mines contributed to the reputation. If a vehicle was disabled by a mine, the soldiers would be trapped in it until someone came to rescue them. In particular, limbs or genitalia were the most vulnerable. In his book Mine Warfare on Land, Lt. Col. Sloan described the S-mine as "probably the most feared device encountered by Allied troops in the war." Exact death tolls inflicted by the S-mine are not known. The Allies did not record whether a death was caused by a particular type of weapon, only whether or not the death occurred in the course of battle. Regardless, some unofficial assessments credit the S-mine with significant casualties. The 4th Division 12th Regiment at Utah Beach
Utah Beach
Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank, or westernmost, of the Allied landing beaches during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as part of Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944...

 suffered what it termed as "light" casualties in the landing, most of which were caused by S-mines. Civilian casualties are even more a matter of speculation.

S-mine production ceased after the end of World War II. No information has been discovered as to the exact fate of the remaining stockpiles of the S-mine, but it can be assumed a majority were destroyed as part of the disarmament of Germany after its surrender, although possibly some were preserved for study and reverse engineering
Reverse engineering
Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation...

 by the Allies. Many direct imitations of the S-mine appeared in the years following World War II.

During the military occupation of Germany and the postwar rebuilding of Europe, the American Army Corps of Engineers, the newly established French government, and the British Ministry of Defense
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 engaged in one of the most prolonged and successful mine-clearing operations throughout Western Europe. France deployed a variety of personnel to undertake this task, including 49,000 German prisoners of war. This joint operation eliminated a majority of the remaining fields of landmines on the war-torn western half of the continent and was greatly assisted by the German policy of clearly marking and accurately recording the locations of minefields.

However, incidents involving accidental explosions of landmines in North Africa, the former Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 countries, France, and Germany still occur sporadically. North Africa and Eastern Europe have a particularly large amount of uncleared World War II-era minefields, lost in the desert sands or forgotten by authorities. In Libya, for example, the Red Cross estimates over 27% of farmland is unusable due to World War II minefields. While German documentation says the S-mine had an effective lifespan of two to seven years once planted, the explosive charge could still operate in mines to this day.


The German S-mine was a steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 cylinder less than 13 centimetres (5.1 in) tall without its sensor and only 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in diameter. A steel rod protruding from the mine's top held the main fuse
Fuze Beverage, commercially referred to as just Fuze , is a manufacturer of teas and non-carbonated fruit drinks enriched with vitamins. Currently the brand consists of five vitamin-infused lines: Slenderize, Refresh, Tea, Defensify, and Vitalize...

, where its trigger or sensor was attached. The SMi-35 had a central fuse, while the SMi-44 had an offset fuse. It weighed approximately 4 kilograms (8.8 lb), with the weight depending on whether it was loaded with the lighter powdered or the heavier poured TNT.

The main charge of the mine used TNT as its explosive; the propelling charge was black powder. The standard pressure sensor used a percussion cap
Percussion cap
The percussion cap, introduced around 1830, was the crucial invention that enabled muzzleloading firearms to fire reliably in any weather.Before this development, firearms used flintlock ignition systems which produced flint-on-steel sparks to ignite a pan of priming powder and thereby fire the...

 to ignite it.

The main fuse was designed to delay the firing of the propelling charge for approximately four seconds after the mine was triggered. The explosion of the propelling charge sent the mine upwards into the air and activated three short-delay pellets between the propellant charge and the three detonators. These short-delay pellets delayed the mine's detonation long enough for it to reach an appropriate height before exploding.

The standard pressure sensor was designed to activate if depressed by a weight of roughly 7 kilograms (15.4 lb) or greater. This ensured the mine was not detonated by wildlife or natural impact of blowing leaves, branches, or other normally occurring phenomena.


The S-mine was normally triggered by a three-pronged pressure fuse. It could also be modified to be triggered by a tripwire
A tripwire is a passive triggering mechanism. Typically, a wire or cord is attached to some device for detecting or reacting to physical movement...

. A special tripwire adapter was provided by the German army. The steel tube that held the fuse was threaded to accept any standard German ignition or trigger, allowing the sensor to be removed and the mine to be deliberately triggered by a human operator. When triggered, the mine functioned in two stages (see diagram).
  1. First, the mine was fired 0.9 metre up into the air by a small propellant charge.
  2. Approximately a half-second later, the main charge detonated at the optimum height to kill or severely injure anyone in the immediate area.
  3. The main charge of the mine was surrounded by roughly 360 steel balls, short steel rods, or scrap metal pieces. These became metal shrapnel
    Fragmentation (weaponry)
    Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of an artillery shell, bomb, grenade, etc. is shattered by the detonating high explosive filling. The correct technical terminology for these casing pieces is fragments , although shards or splinters can be used for non-preformed fragments...

     that sprayed horizontally from the mine at high velocity.

The time between triggering and ignition of the propelling charge varied between 3.9 and 4.5 seconds, depending on the age and condition of the mine. According to German documentation, the S-mine was lethal within 20 metres (65.6 ft) and could inflict casualties
Casualty (person)
A casualty is a person who is the victim of an accident, injury, or trauma. The word casualties is most often used by the news media to describe deaths and injuries resulting from wars or disasters...

 within 100 metres (328.1 ft). American training manuals warned of casualties at up to 140 metres (459.3 ft).

A common misconception prevailed that the S-mine would not detonate until its victim stepped off the trigger. This fallacy was propagated by incorrect United States propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 during World War II. The mine would detonate whether the trigger was released or not. Standing still or attempting to run from the S-mine would be equally dangerous. The most effective way to survive the mine's detonation would not be to flee but to fall to the ground lying face down as quickly as possible.

S-mine dischargers, in the form of angled tubes attached via brackets to the hull, were also used for anti-infantry defense by Wehrmacht armored vehicles. Early versions of the Tiger I
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

 were equipped with five such devices.

Detection and disarming

The S-mine was constructed mostly of metal, so it could be easily detected by metal detector
Metal detector
A metal detector is a device which responds to metal that may not be readily apparent.The simplest form of a metal detector consists of an oscillator producing an alternating current that passes through a coil producing an alternating magnetic field...

s. However, such expensive and bulky equipment was rarely available to infantry units and was prone to malfunction. The mine could also be detected through careful manual probing, a time-consuming process. Using a knife or a bayonet, an infantryman would probe at a low angle through the soil. It was important to probe at an angle that would not accidentally depress the pressure sensor.

Once an S-mine was discovered, disarming it was fairly simple. To prevent triggering while the mine was being planted, the German pressure sensor featured a hole where a safety pin kept the sensor from being depressed. This pin was removed once the mine was planted. If the discovered mine was fitted with the pressure sensor, the disarming personnel would slip a pin (such as a sewing pin) into this hole. If the device was armed with a tripwire or electrical trigger, this could simply be cut. Germans were known to use booby trap
Booby trap
A booby trap is a device designed to harm or surprise a person, unknowingly triggered by the presence or actions of the victim. As the word trap implies, they often have some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. However, in other cases the device is placed on busy roads or is...

s to discourage this, so caution was suggested. The mine could then be removed carefully from the ground and the sensor easily unscrewed. If it was deemed necessary to render the mine completely inert, three plugs on the top granted access to the three detonators inside the mine. These could be unscrewed and the detonators removed.

Internal components

The following diagrams show the SMi-35 landmine's internal mechanism, together with the three-pronged pressure fuse. The safety pin for the fuse and the three removable plugs for the detonators are clearly visible. These diagrams were issued as part of a US Army field manual on landmines in 1943.


The S-mine was an extremely successful design. Bounding mines based on its design were introduced by other countries.

The Finnish
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 army began purchasing the SMi-35 model S-mine from Germany following the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

. This was part of a larger military assistance agreement between the two nations. Finnish forces experienced great success with the S-mine, but its monetary cost was considerable. During the Continuation War
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...

, the Finns unsuccessfully attempted to produce their own version of the mine. The Finnish nickname for the mine was Hyppy-Heikki ("Hopping Henry").

The French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Mle 1939 mine was inspired by the success of the S-mine. In 1940, Major Pierre Delalande of the French Corps of Engineers managed to escape the German conquest of his country and reached the United States with the Mle-1939 plans. These plans led to the development of the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 M2 mine
M2 mine
The M2 is a US bounding anti-personnel mine used during the Second World War. A number of variants of the mine were produced and although the mine is no longer in US service, it can be found in Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Laos, Oman, Rwanda, Tunisia and the Western Sahara...

, which was fielded in 1942 but proved deficient in combat. The American army was impressed by the S-mine's role in thwarting the French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 offensive in the German Saar
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 region at the beginning of World War II and continued further work on bounding mines. After the war, the American army developed their M16 mine
M16 mine
The M16 mine is a U.S. made bounding anti-personnel mine. It was based on captured plans of the World War II era German S-mine and has similar performance. The mine consists of a cast iron body in a thin steel sleeve. A central fuze well on the top of the mine is normally fitted with a pronged M605...

 directly from captured S-mine designs.

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 also based the design of its OZM
The OZM-3, OZM-4 and OZM-72 are Russian manufactured bounding mine type anti-personnel mines.They are normally painted olive green, and issued with a spool of tripwires and two green painted wooden or metal stakes for affixing the tripwires...

 series of landmines on the German S-mine. Soviet mines tended to be far simpler internally; instead of being filled with steel balls or scrap metal, the OZM-4 mine was given a solid cast-iron body that would fragment on its own. Later, the OZM-72 bounding mine was filled with steel rods, returning to the original concept of the S-mine. Both of these mines are still being produced by Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


Other nations that have produced S-mine-inspired designs include the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 (called Truppmina 11) and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. The use of landmines remains a controversial issue to this day. Antipersonnel mines like the S-mine have been the subject of repeated treaties and human-rights objections and are the subject of extensive international debate.

Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.