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Mine warfare: Mines, Minelayers, Minesweepers

Part 1: Mines

Catalogue number 81

Early mines

The presentation case shows models of a variety of pre-World War One mines. Far left is a mine barrier, center to right are contact mines and far right is a coastal mine barrier, covered at high water.

Verso: "Marine Militaire. No. 16 Different types of torpedoes, anchored or seabed mines" in black ink and from a wooden-boxed collection of 29 glass plate positives dated 25 January 1910

Credit: E. Mazo Paris

7.1cm x 7cm Glass plate positive


Catalogue number 27031

Spanish "torpedo" mine, 1898

Sea mines were initially called torpedoes after the fish of that name(torpedo ray) which can deliver a strong electric shock. This is a contact mine with metal arms that trigger the firing mechanism. The plate at the base of the mine turns in the water and slows down payout of the mooring line as the sinker drops to the seabed.

Recto: “Spanish torpedo taken from Harbor of Santiago”

Verso: "In modern warfare explosives are coming more and more into use. Streets and thoroughfares as well as rivers, straits and harbors over which it is though the enemy may pass, are mined with deadly explosives sufficiently powerful to wreck the mightiest battleship or overwhelm a large land force. Torpedoes are usually made in forms similar to a cigar, so that they may be projected under the water, the sharp end going forward. As is well known, they can be arranged to explode by contact, a time fuse, or an electric wire. The sample death dealing instrument shown in this view provided with contact arms which when struck, thrust a spike into the interior as shown, causing explosion by percussion. Doubtless it was some such contrivance as one of those described above, which, on Feb. 15th, 1898, tore into shreds and sent to the bottom of Havana Harbor, our proud battleship "Maine" together with nearly her entire crew."

Credit: B.L. Singley

15.3cm x 8.3cm Stereo gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108028

Controlled mines, U.S.S. New Hampshire, Guantanamo

Preparing American controlled mines on board the U.S.S. New Hampshire. Note how the gun barrel in the foreground is buffed up.

Verso: "Mine drill on U.S.S. New Hampshire. At Guantanamo, Cuba" in black ink. Stamp box model of 1904 to 1918

13.7cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 44249

Rigging for a controlled minefield, U.S.S. Vermont, Guantanamo, 1912

The explosive charge is fixed and then the two hemispheres are bolted together.

Verso: "Rigging the mines and aired bedding. U.S.S. Vermont. These are the boxes inwhich the explosive mines powders are placed. When anchored with their round balls a little below the surface of the water they are a terrible destruction to the ships whose side touches them. Once a week, usually on Friday, the crew's hammocks are aired on the lines from reville in the morning till noon, hammock inspection sometimes follows. Jan 1912 Guantanamo Cuba" in black ink

12.8cm x 7.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 44248

Loading mines on a ship's boat, U.S.S. Vermont, Guantanamo, 1912

The mines and sinkers will be taken out to the minefield, note the lengths of electric wire.

Verso: "Ready for placing the mines U.S.S. Vermont. A sailing launch is in front with a manned dinghy behind. A framework is placed on the launch and six mines are ready for lowering. The mushroom anchors that hold them down are below the water. The cylindrical boxes at the water's edge are the battery boxes. The uncharged mine globes are on the raft. In this drill the little floats are used as markers to find the mines again. Of course these are only used in drill. Jan 1912 Guantanamo Bay Cuba" in black ink

7.6cm x 12.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 122071

German mine of the type laid by submarine

These American sailors stand by a German mine laid by a submarine. The mine is in a four-post frame to protect the horns (removed in this photograph) whilst the mine was held in the submarine mine tube. The British designation was "Type II", 322 kg and a explosive charge of 131kg wet guncotton.

7.5cm x 12.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 122043

Mine from German mnelaying submarine

In this photograph of a submarine-laid mine, two of the frames are folded back, the Herz horns are still in place and we can see the hydrostatic depth gear in the lower part of the support.

Recto: "Military Museum. German sea mine brought up by the Trouville in the North Sea, 21st May 1918" in French

9.1cm x 12.6cm Printed image


Catalogue number 135070

British bottom influence mines from World War 1

The Sinker mk IM was the world's first magnetic mine and was in use from July 1918. A minefield was laid off the Belgian coast but the mines performed badly with premature explosions as well as detonations shortly after being laid.

Recto: "The ruins of Zeebrugge 1914-18 English submarine mines"

13.6cm x 8.5cm Printed image


Catalogue number 70082

Stock of Spanish moored mines

Spanish mines of the Spanish Society for Naval Construction (S.E. de C.N.), they may be controlled mines as no horns are evident. British shipbuilders were predominantely present in the S.E. de C.N. at the beginning of the 20th century with Vickers taking 40% of contracts.

Verso: "S.E. de C.N. (Sociedad Espanola de Construccion Naval), Ferrol. A group of underwater mines."

Credit: Hauser y Menet - Madrid

14.1cm x 9.3cm Printed image


Catalogue number 92089

British mines on a fast minelayer

Over 60 contact mines can be seen on the rails of this World War Two Royal Navy fast minelayer.

Verso: "Protecting the English coast. British minelayers lay minefields along the English coast and in the North Sea to protect from enemy attack. These mines are being prepared to be released. 2.1.40" in French

17.1cm x 12.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 96058

A mine goes over the stern ramp

A standard British World War Two mine going off the ramp.

Verso: "To defend the English coast. To protect the English coast from the enemy, British minelayers have laid minefields all around the coast. Releasing a mine in the North Sea, photographed on board a minelayer. 1.2.40" in French

18.3cm x 11.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 29010

Russian mine opened up on deck, S.M.S. Ausburg

S.M.S. Augsburg laid a minefield off the Russian port of Libau in the Baltic Sea at the beginning of World War One. However, it is said that the minefield was poorly marked and was a hindrance to German naval operations in the area. The two mines shown here are Russian M1912 inertial mines. We can see the hydrostatic gripping device for locking the mooring rope on the deck left and the inertia pistol, mooring rope and drum to the right.

13.9cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 35169

Italian "J' type mines - spherical, no top but a bottom cover plate, two brackets on lower hemisphere - on a German warship.

"Rabotti you will be slaughtered". Who was Rabotti?

11cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 137091

A lay of mines on Eugenio di Savoia, 1941

The crew prepare to push a lay of mines over the stern of the Italian cruiser Eugenio di Savoia, she laid a large minefield off the coast of Tripoli in 1941.

Verso: "Eugenio di Savoie foto 4/1941" in light pencil

14.3cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 110016

Fairey Barracuda with bottom mines

This aircraft, RK 328, was operational in May 1945 and went on to the Torpedo Development Unit at Gosport, June 1945. This photograph shows the Barracuda loaded with aircraft-layed ground mines.

Verso: "Barracuda II with one Mk VII and two Mk VIII mines 23 Jul 1945" in black ink

Credit: Temple Press Ltd.

20.7cm x 15.1cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 110017

Fairey Barracuda with bottom mines

Sturtivant states that in September 1945, this aircraft was used at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) for handling trial with 370lb and 570lb "SCI" (?). These mines were also layed by motor launches, being smaller and lighter than convention ground mines. Initially, the firing mechanism was magnetic then by combinations of magnetic, acoustic and pressure

Verso: "Barracuda II fitted with 1 x Mk VII mine 23 Jul 1945" in black ink

Credit: Temple Press Ltd.

20.7cm x 15.8cm Gelatin silver print

Part 2: Minelayers. In Preparation
Part 3: Minesweepers. In Preparation