Home Forums Air and Sea Air How Do Aircraft "Mine Sweepers" Work or Is There Such a Thing?

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    Avatar photoMr. Average

    I believe that during the War, the Germans outfitted Ju-52 transports with big magnetic rings to skim the North Sea and trigger the proximity detonators on British sea mines.  They had a large metal coil strung between the wings and an electric generator on board to turn the coil into an electromagnet, which would mimic the metal hull of a ship passing above, trigger the mines and make them explode under the surface.  If I recall correctly they got the idea from the British so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was what the Wellington was being used for.  I can’t find any info on that directly, though.  To the book depository!

    Raytheon is also developing a cheap seeking torpedo to be dropped from Sea King helicopters that will find and detonate against sleeper mines, probably in the South China Sea, where they think the Chinese have been laying them against future need in case they end up in a war with Vietnam, the Philippines or the USA over the Paracel Islands.

    For landmines, I’d imagine that dropping things like heavy metal pellets in large numbers across a suspected minefield could detonate them, but it’d be a pretty risky proposition and I’m not sure it was ever done.

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    The Army Air Force in WW2 had B-17’s fitted with the large ring electro-magnets as well. Modern aircraft don’t need the ring to detect mines.

    Avatar photoEtranger

    Yes, magnetic mines could be destroyed by aircraft https://medium.com/war-is-boring/how-britain-beat-germanys-wwii-magnetic-sea-mines-bfec5558704c Some additional photos here. http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/minesweeping-aircraft-29707.html



    Avatar photoRogerBW

    It’s worth noting that the induction loop approach only works well in very shallow water: it was used in the Suez Canal, and the harbour at Alexandria, but it’s not much good for coastal approaches. The version mounted on the Wellington was called the Directional Wireless Installation, to confuse the innocent.

    Avatar photogrizzlymc

    A current moving through a conductor creates a magnetic field.  Enough current in a large enough conductor creates a magnetic field comparable to that of a steel ship.   The wellingtons had a massive circular coil carried under the plane and a petrol generator which created fumes which made the crews sick.

    After the war these aircraft pioneered the work of electromagnetic prospecting which is now carried out by helicopters and the coil is looped, commonly between the aircraft and a towed bird.

    I am surprised that the coil couldn’t generate a magnetic field to the same depth that a ship does or, to put it differently, I would have thought at any depth that the mine would detonate from the presence of a ship, it would detonate from the coil.

    I don’t know whether such devices are in the modern inventory, but I would have thought that it is not a labour of Hercules to get a mine to discriminate against fast moving magnetic fields and to wait for a slower one.

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