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Rising Sun*
12-14-2008, 08:01 PM
The Nazi Blitzkrieg was a revolution in warfare that forced the rest of the world into a wild scramble to figure out how to dam the onslaught. The German tanks were fast and powerful, and very difficult for the conventional weapons of 1939 to repel. They rolled over Poland with nary a problem, and soon overran most all of Europe.

But the USSR had been contemplating the issue of warring with tanks for some time, and they had a plan: they were going to sic dogs on them.

So far as the wars of men go, dogs have always been tossed the short end of the stick. Nary does a modern movie depict the way the Romans used mastiffs with razored collars in battle, nor the fully armored Death Hounds (I didn’t make up the name) that the medieval knights would loose on a field to snap at the legs of opponents and dispatch the wounded that littered the ground. In fact, dogs have fought alongside their masters through most of history. At the eve of World War II, the Soviets had a fully operational four-legged fighter division, and a dog with a bomb is a potent foe.

The Soviets were unable to address the looming tank problem with any new technologies right away, thus they were forced to contemplate tackling the issue with the means at hand. Landmines were a viable option, but because one couldn’t count on the Nazis seeking out the mines, they had to figure a way to make the mines seek the tanks.

The answer laid in the dog division. The trainers would starve the dogs, then train them to find food under a tank. The dogs quickly learned that being released from their pens meant to run out to where the training tank was parked and find some vittles. Once trained, the dogs would be fitted with a bomb attached to the back, and loosed into a field of oncoming German Panzers. When the dog climbed underneath the tank–where there was no armor–the bomb would detonate and gut the enemy vehicle.

Realization of that plan was a little less successful. The dogs had been trained to look under a Soviet tank for food, and would sometimes be loosed into a battle just to turn around and find a friendly tank to climb under. Sometimes the dogs would spook at the rumble of a running diesel engine and run away from the battle. Sometimes the dogs just decided they didn’t want to go.

Despite the problems, the Anti-tank dogs were successful at disabling a reported 300 Nazi tanks. It was enough of a problem to the Nazi advance that the Germans were compelled to attempt measures at stopping them. The top mounted machine gun proved ineffective due to the relatively small size of the attackers, the fact that there were low to the ground and hard to spot, and that dogs just don’t want to die when they think they’re close to food. Orders were dispatched that commanded every German soldier to shoot any dogs on sight for fear they might be rabid. Eventually the Germans began using flame-throwers on the tanks to ward the dogs away, and they were much more successful at dissuading the attacks–but some dogs would stop for neither fear of the fire nor actually being burned.

However, in 1942 one use of the Anti-tank dogs went seriously awry when a large contingent of anti-tank dogs ran amok, thus endangered everyone in the battle and forced the retreat of the entire Soviet division. Soon afterward the Anti-tank dogs were pulled from service.

The animals weren’t altogether out of the war, however. By the end, various canine soldiers were credited with having 61,000 fighting at the front lines, the delivery of 2,000 dispatches, the laying of 7,883 kilometers of telephone cable, and the rescue of 680 wounded soldiers.
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=504

flamethrowerguy
12-15-2008, 06:06 AM
3043

According to my sources the number of 300 german tanks destroyed by the so-called minedogs is more than exaggerated. Minedogs were encountered by german 1st, 3rd, 7th and 18th Panzer-Division around September/October 1941. The only reported casualties came from 9th Company/Panzer-Regiment 18 of General Nehring's 18th Panzer-Division in the Karachev area.
Indeed the main problem was the fact that the dogs were too sensitive to noise and didn't make a difference between german and soviet tanks.
The project "minedogs" -never officially mentioned by the Red Army- was therefore cancleled. It is written that for the rest of the war on soviet soil only partisan units kept using this disputed "weapon" from time to time.

Rising Sun*
12-15-2008, 06:37 AM
According to my sources the number of 300 german tanks destroyed by the so-called minedogs is more than exaggerated. Minedogs were encountered by german 1st, 3rd, 7th and 18th Panzer-Division around September/October 1941. The only reported casualties came from 9th Company/Panzer-Regiment 18 of General Nehring's 18th Panzer-Division in the Karachev area.
Indeed the main problem was the fact that the dogs were too sensitive to noise and didn't make a difference between german and soviet tanks.
The project "minedogs" -never officially mentioned by the Red Army- was therefore cancleled. It is written that for the rest of the war on soviet soil only partisan units kept using this disputed "weapon" from time to time.

I suppose it's too much to hope for that the Soviets included Dachshunds in their mine dogs and that they loyally attacked only the Soviet tanks? :D

Do you have any info on how the weapon worked?

Given dogs' propensity to rub their backs on posts and roll over to scratch their backs, I figure there must have been a safety catch or removable arming mechanism between the wooden trigger and the charge, which safety catch or arming mechanism was respectively deactivated or activated at the last moment.

You'd hope that the dogs were trained to run away from their masters, or they might experience The Loaded Dog: http://www.dropbears.com/l/loaded_dog/index.html :D

If training dogs to mine tanks seems a bit odd, how about using bees to detect mines? http://www.sandia.gov/LabNews/LN04-23-99/bee_story.htm

Rising Sun*
12-15-2008, 06:49 AM
Is that a toe peeking out of the dog handler's right foot, or is it a type of boot used by the Soviets which seems to separate the upper from the sole over an inner upper?

flamethrowerguy
12-15-2008, 07:16 AM
Is that a toe peeking out of the dog handler's right foot, or is it a type of boot used by the Soviets which seems to separate the upper from the sole over an inner upper?

Never heard of the infamous soviet trigger-toe?:mrgreen:

flamethrowerguy
12-15-2008, 07:34 AM
I suppose it's too much to hope for that the Soviets included Dachshunds in their mine dogs and that they loyally attacked only the Soviet tanks? :D
Hmmm, it's reported the soviets used amongst others (german?) shepherds and Doberman dogs..."He who pays the piper, calls the tune."


Do you have any info on how the weapon worked?

"...The dogs were carrying two linen saddlebags on their backs filled with either explosives or anti-tank mines. A 4-inch long wooden bar served as a mechanical detonator. The dogs were trained to creep under the tanks. When the wooden bar bent or broke the charge detonated...."
"...interrogations of captured dog handlers of a special mine dog company from Moscow (issued with 108 dogs) added up that the animals were trained by starving them and only they got fed below tractors with engine running..."

from "Unternehmen Barbarossa" by Paul Carell

Rising Sun*
12-15-2008, 07:40 AM
Hmmm, it's reported the soviets used amongst others (german?) shepherds and Doberman dogs

I thought they might be too tall to run under tanks.

Although I suppose for food they'd easily crawl under them.