In the movie Children of Glory (Szabadság, Szerelem), there's a scene in which one of the female protagonists took a few pans, broke off their handle, and placed them on the ground to fool a tank into thinking that those pans were mines. The tank gets scared and moves into a dead end, where, after its support is killed, it gets flooded with love and Molotov cocktails, ending its career in a particularly amusing campfire.

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The aforementioned scene, link in the picture.

How reliable would tactics like these be?

  • Best I could find on a quickie search was an inference that the Viet Cong sometimes laid fake minefields, on the theory that it still drastically slowed down the Americans who had to laboriously "clear" said minefields. Of course one imagines there have to be real minefields too for this trick to work. – T.E.D. May 15 '17 at 18:34
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    In Naval warfare it is an axiom that perceived minefields are treated as rock. The question is what is the visibility of the T-34? What is the doctrine about risk & options? – Mark C. Wallace May 15 '17 at 18:41
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    Looks like we should create a SE site for warfare. – Santiago May 15 '17 at 18:48
  • Visibility is a major issue for any tank of that era (not only t34). Put it simply, they hardly could see another tank from inside, so you tanks always needed infantry to support them especially in city warfare. As an improvised weapon it may have existed (Hungarian fighter had hardly any anti tank weaponry, so molotov cocktails and such were their standard), but chances that the tank driver couldt even see it, especially if you navigate in front line – Greg May 20 '17 at 16:29
  • One thing inaccurate about that scene, they throw their Molotov Cocktails on the front of the tank where they wouldn't do much good. They should be throwing them on the back, on the flat engine deck, where the gasoline can leak through intakes and vents onto the engine. They do accurately show the tank crew escaping via their belly escape hatch. – Schwern May 21 '17 at 2:13

T-34 was evaluated at Aberdeen, by the Germans, Finns, &c, and one of the common major complaints was poor visibility:

Individual tank commanders lacked situational awareness due to the poor provision of vision devices and preoccupation with gunnery duties.

This improved with T-34-85 (added observation cupola in the roof of the turret, tank commander relieved of gunnery duties).

I would expect that the T-34 crew would not notice the "mines", but if they did, they would probably not ignore them.

However, the correct tactical use of a tank requires infantry support which should both notice the fake mines and might even be able to identify them properly.

Finally, war is war and anything can happen. Crew training, smoke, morale - there are so many factors.

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  • The T34-85 introduced from 1944 corrected those defects. Not that that would necessarily enable them to "notice" the pseudo-mines – Conrad Turner May 17 '17 at 10:06
  • In the scene the tank had infantry support, but it's moving behind the tank and cut down by fire from upper story windows. – Schwern May 21 '17 at 2:14

Dummy anti-tank mines, consisting of ordinary china plates placed upside-down on a road were apparently used by a British Army unit during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940. This improvisation later featured in an SOE training course, and the British Military Training Pamphlet No.42.

Like any anti-tank mine, you'd want to put them somewhere that tanks couldn't easily bypass them, and where infantry trying to remove them can be shot at from range.

Source: Dale Clarke Britain's Final Defence The History Press, 2016, p100, quoting Hugh Slater's Home Guard for Victory!, Victor Gollancz, 1941, p59.

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