History of mine shells

That type of “mining” warfare was already used by the Turks during the siege of Vienna in 1683.

Another variant, also referred to as a “mine” IIRC, used no explosives. A tunnel was dug underneath the wall to be attacked, supported with lots of wooden pit-props. Then fill it with brushwood, set light to it and wait for the wall to collapse. Hence “undermined”.


Tunnel warfare goes back to ancient times. However the name mine was probably taken from the american civil war.

1 Like

Found these in an old Norwegian dictionary. They are german howitzer ammunition from 1911.
The left one is obviously a mine shell and the right one is a high explosive shell (spränggranat = norwegian/swedish for HE).

The left one is for a mortar, the right one is for a navy gun. Both German.

This is the mortar, called a mine thrower in the source.

“Minenwerfer” is the old German term for mortar.
In WW2 then named “Granatwerfer” = grenade launcher.
And since 1955 “Mörser” = mortar.

1 Like

Yes, but I was making reference specifically to the name coming from: "… (probably the American civil war due to the english term),”

So reading through the french stuff again about the P-shells and their use, i wonder if mine shells has had a historical use as underwater detonation shells, sort of like common sea mines.

Dont forget the luftmine, or blockbuster bomb or cookie, the RAF’s HC (high capacity) bomb. These bombs were designed for their blast effect, to cause damage to buildings, specifically to blow roof tiles off, so that the small 4 lb (1.8 kg) incendiary bombs could reach the building interiors.

Large Blockbusters were made later in the war, from the original 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) version, up to 12,000 lb (5,400 kg), the last one as a combination of a 8000 and 4000 lb bomb

The huge H.C. 12,000-lb, has an explosive charge of 3646,88 kg Amatex 9 to 3973,47 kilogram Torpex 2.

Above: 57 Squadron Avro Lancaster with the “Usual” area bombing load of 1 x 4,000 impact-fused HC bomb, and 12 SBC’s each loaded with either 24 x 30 lb or 236 x 4 lb No. 15 or 15x incendiary bombs. Codename for such a load was USUAL

Another load with a cookie was the load with te Codeword: “No-BALL” (for V1 sites)
witch was: 1 x 4,000 lb HC, impact fused bomb (Cookie) and up to 18 x 500 lb MC or GP bombs, short-finned with mixed instantaneous and delay fusing.

1 Like

According to a Swedish source i have it seems the modern historical english term for mine ordnance is high capacity. However i am not sure if the english term has the same roots as the international “mine shell”, such as requiring a delayed fuse.

So i was looking into the name mine again and i stumbled across this: The Origins of Military Mines: Part I

So it is nothing conclusive but it seems the name “mine” was in use for underground explosives already by the 1500’s. A German engineer made a land mine called fladdermine (flapping mine) in 1573. What is interesting however is that the German name for mine’s (the tunnel type) is bergwerk (mountain work). So it seems the name “mine” might have been picked for this type of weapon way earlier than the 1800’s.

So after some further research it seems the word “mine” has been used in the german language for mines (the tunnel type) prior to modern times.

As always i find the best answers in Swedish sources. So the word “mine” is originally the Celtic word for “mines”. This word has since the medieval times spread to both the French and German languages and thus became the name for the original land mines. This later gave the munition effect of “internal explosion” the name “mine” and thus we got the name “mine shell”. Interestingly the french also called some of their mine shells “obus fougasse”, which is interesting as the above link i posted says that the french called land mines close to the surface “fougasse”, were land mines deeper into the earth were called “mine”. So it is possible that the french had several types of mine shells, were one type was called “obus fougasse”, and another one was called “obus a mine”.

I’m gonna update the OP soon with new info but for those who wants the best full picture now i recomend the swedish wikipedia page on mine shells: Mingranat – Wikipedia

(Still missing naval mine shells though)