Friday, May 8, 2009

"Woof! Woof! Woof!" KABLAM!


Anti-tank dogs, or Hundminen as they were known by the Germans, were dogs taught to carry explosives under tanks and armoured vehicles where they would detonate and inflict the most damage upon the vehicle.

The most concerted effort to use dogs as anti-tank weapons came during World War II when the Soviet Union used them against German tanks. When training the dogs, the Soviets kept them hungry in order to teach them to find food beneath tanks. On the battlefield a dog was fitted with an explosives-packed box and then released before oncoming German tanks. When the dog dove under a tank, a wooden lever sticking up from the top of the box was tripped which detonated the charge. Because the chassis was the most vulnerable area of these vehicles, it was hoped the explosion would gut the vehicle.

Among the plan's failings was the Soviet use of their own diesel tanks to train the dogs rather than German tanks, which had petrol engines. On the battlefield this resulted in the dogs tending to seek food under and thus destroying the Russian tanks with which they were familiar instead of the strange German tanks. This was not always an issue, however, as the dogs were sometimes spooked by the noise and vibration of the tank engines and fled the field immediately upon release.

Despite these problems the anti-tank dogs were said to have been successful at the Battle of Kursk, the Soviets claiming 12 German tanks destroyed by 16 dogs. As such the Germans were compelled to take measures against them. An armored vehicle's top-mounted machine gun proved ineffective due to the relatively small size of the attackers, the fact that they were low to the ground, their speed and the difficulty in spotting them. Consequently orders were dispatched that commanded every German soldier to shoot any dogs seen on sight as they might be rabid. Eventually the Germans found tank-mounted flame-throwers to be much more successful in warding off the attacks

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