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"German Tellermines" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on the major types of German antitank Tellermines from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 28, July 1, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Land mines are not a new development, but their use in astronomical numbers, as in recent campaigns, is new to this war. The mine is normally associated with war at sea. But the pre-eminence of the tank, or "land battleship," in battles on land has emphasized the importance of the land mine and made its use mandatory around any well-defended position. Among the most widely used antitank mines is the German Tellermine. The four known models of this mine are described below.

a. Tellermine No. 1

The 1935 model or Tellermine No. 1 is circular in plan with a diameter of 12 3/4 inches. It has a convex top, a flat bottom, and a maximum height of 3 1/4 inches. The total weight of the mine is 19 1/4 pounds. In a fully armed condition the mine is equipped with a main pressure igniter in the center of the top cover, and one or two standard pull igniters in its base as secondary firing devices. The principal features of this mine are shown in the accompanying sketches (figure 1). The body of the mine is a circular metal box (1) with a dome-shaped top surface containing 11 pounds of high-grade pressed TNT. A "floating" cover (2) is held down by a heavy metal ring (3) attached to the body and is supported in the center by a heavy spring (4). The spring fits into and bears on a metal fitting (5) which fits into the top of the body. The fitting also acts as a receiver for the detonator (6). Directly above the detonator are the two metal collars (7) and (8) (which screw into a recess in the fitting), a compressible rubber ring (9), and the igniter (10). The lower collar (7) is a retaining collar for the detonator; the upper collar (8) is an adjusting or positioning collar for the igniter. The compressible rubber ring serves as a cushioned seat for the bottom of the igniter. The upper collar is screwed into the proper position in the fitting by means of a special tool. The small, headless set-screw (11) holds the collar (8) in position. The igniter is screwed into the mine cover (2) until it bears firmly on the rubber washer (12) and the rubber ring (9). The body of the mine has two receptacles (13) and (14), threaded to receive secondary firing devices. One receptacle is usually located in the side of the body opposite the handle, and the other in the bottom between the handle and the center of the mine. The mine has a metal carrying handle (15). A rubber strip (16) seals the junction between the cover and the body of the mine against the entry of water and dirt. The washer (12) seals the joint between the igniter and the cover.

[German Antitank Tellermine No. 1]
FIG. 1

b. Tellermine No. 2

This mine thought to be the 1942 model, is similar in size to the 1935 model or Tellermine No. 1. Its main dimensions are:

Maximum diameter (at base)       12.75 in
Maximum height4.1 in
Diameter of pressure plate5.7 in
Total weight of mine (filled)19.3 lb
Weight of filling (TNT plus three penthrite detonating charges)12.0 lb

The mine consists of a body (1) (see figure 2) fitted to a circular base plate (2). The base plate is turned over along its edge to make a press fit over the flange of the body as indicated at (3). A carrying handle (5) is attached by means of a T-strip (4) which is welded to the body.

[German Antitank Tellermine No. 2]
FIG. 2

The mine is fitted to take two additional igniters. One is located in the side of the mine 4 inches from the handle at (6), and the other is in the base of the mine at (7). The pocket or receptacle (8) for the main detonator protrudes into the mine filling, and is surrounded by a cylindrical penthrite detonating charge (9). Cylindrical penthrite detonating charges (10) and (11) also surround the screwed-in pockets for the additional igniters. The details of these detonating charges are as follows:

Charge at
( 9)1.6 in2.38 in0.36 lbs
(10)2.3 in1.6  in0.25 lbs
(11)1.6 in1.6  in0.11 lbs

The pocket or receptacle for the base igniter (7) is fastened to the circular base plate (2), its center being 2 1/4 inches from the center of the base plate. The base plate is pressed on and crimped to the circular body (1) without regard to maintaining a fixed position for the base igniter relative to the main igniter-detonator assembly. As a result, the base igniter may lie with its center at any point on the perimeter of a circle with a radius of 2 1/4 inches from the center of the base plate (i.e., also from the center of the main igniter-detonator assembly). This should always be borne in mind in searching for the position of the base igniter. The pressure plate (12) is held in the body by means of the collar (13), which is a spring fitted into the recess. The pressure plate has a rubber skirt (14) which fits into the depression (15), so that when assembled the operating mechanism under the pressure plate is protected from the entrance of dust and moisture. The rubber is held between the rim of the pressure plate (12) and the flat ring (16) spot-welded in several places to the ring (17); the latter is in turn spot-welded to the pressure plate.

The pressure plate is shaped to prevent local collapse and is closed at the center by the screwed plug (18) with a rubber seal (19). The igniter tube (20) is spot-welded into the center of the recess in the mine body, and around it is placed the loose collar (21) which holds in position the pressure spring (22). The screwed collar (23) secures the detonator (24) to the base plug (25) of the igniter body (26). The igniter mechanism consists of a spring-loaded striker (27) held by a shear pin (28). Pressure on the pressure plate, acting on the head of the striker, causes the shearing of the pin (28) and the release of the striker. This fires the cap (29) which in turn fires the detonator (24).

Before attempting to lift the mine, a search should be made around the edge of the mine and in the base to discover the presence of additional igniters. If any are found they should be neutralized and the attached wires cut. The screwed plug (18), when unscrewed, can be removed, thus revealing the igniter below. When the igniter is lifted out, the mine is disarmed since the detonator is attached to the igniter. The additional igniters should then be unscrewed, and the detonators below them removed.

c. Tellermine No. 3

A third type of German Tellermine has been reported (see figure 3). This mine is 12 1/2 inches in diameter, with a maximum height of 3 3/8 inches. It has a total weight of 21 pounds and is painted a matte gray. It has the following markings:

On the top, in white paint       T. Mi S31 Tvii. 2.42
On the top, in black paintS 88 12 42A.
Stamped on the topWO 42

[German Antitank Tellermine No. 3]
FIG. 3

In this model, the pressure plate extends over the entire top of the mine, and is fluted or grooved, probably to prevent sand being blown off when the mine is buried. In the center of the pressure plate is a threaded socket, closed by a screwed plug with, a milled head. This socket will take the standard brass igniter assembly as used with Tellermine No. 1 but the mine can also be used with igniter assembly of Tellermine No. 2, the igniter being inserted through the central socket and the screwed plug then replaced. Both types of igniters have been found in the field. The subsidiary igniter sockets are located on the bottom and side of the mine in the same places as in Tellermine No. 1.

d. Tellermine No. 4

The details of a fourth type of German Tellermine have recently become available. Tellermine No. 4 is circular in plan (see figure 4) with a diameter of 12.25 inches and over-all height of 3.4 inches. The base is flat and the cover slightly dome-shaped. The total weight of the mine is approximately 18 pounds. The mine is painted field gray, and the pressure plate black. Stencilled on the top of the mine in white is: "T. - Mi. - Pilz 43/T. - Mi. - Z42 13A"

There are two screwed holes for additional igniters, one in the side of the mine 4 inches from the carrying handle, and the other in the base, offset from the center--as in Tellermine No. 2. It has been reported that this mine has also been found with the holes for additional igniters located in the side of the mine opposite the handle and in the base between the handle and the center--as in Teller mines Nos. 1 and 3.

[German Antitank Tellermine No. 4]
FIG. 4

The pressure plate is a flat metal plate 7 1/2 inches in diameter, which screws complete into the central socket over the normal Tellermine No. 2 igniter. Neither the pressure plate nor the body of the mine is fluted.

The mine functions when pressure on the pressure plate causes the latter to descend and shear the igniter shear pin, thus releasing the spring-loaded striker.

To neutralize this mine the sides and bottom of the mine should first be examined. If additional igniters are found, they should be neutralized. The pressure plate should then be unscrewed and the igniter removed.

e. Comparison

The pressure plates on Tellermines No. 1 and No. 3 extend over the entire top of the mines, but the pressure plates on Tellermines No. 2 and No. 4 cover only the center portion of the mine. Accordingly a tank might pass over the edge or rim of Tellermines No. 2 and No. 4 without detonating the mines, whereas the same load passing over the edge or rim of Tellermines No. 1 and No. 3 would detonate the mine. It is possible for a spread-out load of fairly low intensity covering the whole top of Tellermines No. 1 and No. 3 to detonate them, while a more heavy, concentrated load is necessary to detonate Tellermines No. 2 and No. 4.

[Tellermine Comparison]
Fig. X

The pressure plates on Tellermines No. 2 and No. 3 are fluted or grooved, but the pressure plates on Tellermines No. 1 and No. 4 are smooth.

In Tellermine No. 4, by adopting a simpler form of pressure plate and utilizing the simple igniter found in Tellermines No. 2 and No. 3, the considerable production difficulties, which were entailed in the manufacture of Tellermine No. 1, particularly its T. Mi. Z35 igniter, have now been largely overcome.


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