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WWII US Inert Booby Trap and Firing Devices, My Updated Collection


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For quite a while I have had a pretty complete collection of mint booby trap/firing devices, but missing only one example. Well, I finally bought the last hold out for my collection, that being a mint Release Fire Device M1. So now it is time to post a topic containing the entire collection so there will be a one stop shopping place for the information concerning these devices. This post may also be worthy of pinning as a reference topic on the subject.

 

All of these Booby Trap/Firing devices are designed to screw into a grenade, mine, or other explosive devices that have a screw receptacle on them. Also, after a non-electric blasting cap was crimped on the end of the firing devices standard base, the blasting cap could be inserted into TNT, dynamite and other explosive blocks.

 

The first example is an M1A1 Pressure Firing Device attached to a grenade. This M1A1 is mint and still has the two safeties attached to it. One is a split pin toward the end that keeps the firing pin from striking the primer. The other safety is a sheet metal clip that keeps the pressure plate from being depressed. Note that there are two strings attached to both safeties for easy removal. The assembly with the prongs is very versatile and can be shortened by removing the interconnecting rod and screwing it directly to the pressure plate.

 

 

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An interesting note is the primer/detonator that screws onto the end of this device. These are always missing when you buy the device, because they are the things the go boom, when the device triggers. These detonators are double threaded things with a smaller fine thread on one end and a course, larger thread on the other end that is the same thread as a grenade.

 

The reason I bring up the subject of the detonator is that I was at the OGCA gun show a long while back and stopped at a table that had a junk box with three black cans that were priced $3.00 each and were marked REPLACEMENT PARTS FOR ANTI PERSONNEL PRACTICE MINE T4 10- IGNITOR ASSEMBLIES. I was intrigued and bought one of the cans and opened it up to look inside and then immediately bought the last two cans. What was inside is shown below and were practice igniters that will not only work for all of the various firing devices, but also the rebounding type, anti-personnel, mines. The detonator section is made up of a small powder charge inside a black enameled paper tube. When triggered, the igniter times for about 4 seconds and the paper end explodes with about the same power as a couple of firecrackers. Not enough to detonate high explosives, but enough to act as a noise maker/attention getter that the booby trap/mine had been activated, during practice. But the important thing is that live, or not, the metal part still acts as an essential, coupler for the various firing devices to grenades/mines, etc. These couplers seem to be in short supply, compared to the Firing Devices.

 

 

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Next, I have an M5 Pressure Release Firing Device that is designed to be used on the underside of a mine to make it more difficult to remove from the ground. When the mine is lifted, this mousetrap type device detonates it. The M5 comes with a primer called a “Standard base” which is not powerful enough, by itself, to detonate a mine. It is screwed into a second assembly called an Activator which has enough bang to blow up the mine. The M5 can also be used to explode a grenade, but the “Standard base” would still need to have a blasting cap, or an Activator added. This M5 is also mint and complete with the safety locking pin and string to remove it. I got this M5 off of Ebay and was really pleasantly surprised that when it arrived, the detonator was still live on it, with the protective cap.

 

 

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The last hold out of my collection, that I recently filled, is the M1 Release Fire Device which I am showing here along with the instructions. It is again designed to be used under a land mine to keep the mine from being removed from the ground. But instead of it being screwed into the mine like the M5 device, it looks like the device was designed to be used with a block of TNT as shown in the instructions. Of course the device could also be used in many other roles, with other explosives, depending on the need. FYI. I have one of the T4 Ignitor Assemblies, described above, screwed into the Firing Device.

 

 

 

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Here is a group photo of the last 2 firing devices and 1 fuze that I will be describing here. This example is the M1 Pull Firing Device which is used to easily set up a trip wire. If the trip wire , connected to the ring is pulled with a force of more than 3 to 5 pounds, the device will trigger and ignite whatever explosive it is connected to.

 

 

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This example is the M3 Tension & Release Firing Device which is also used to set up a trip wire, but with an important difference. Unlike the M1 device shown earlier, the M3 is designed to trigger if the trip wire is pulled or if it is cut. This unique design is accomplished by using the ratchet reel on the device to make the trip wire very taut and after set, if the wire is pulled OR released, the firing device will trigger.

 

 

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Lastly, here is a M6/M7 Combination Fuze that can be used on anti-personnel mines, along with other explosives as a booby trap. This fuze is triggered either via the pull of a trip wire connected to its ring or pressure being applied to the 3 prong head of the fuze. I believe that for the pressure trigger to be effective, the fuze would need placed low to the ground and the explosive charge buried in the ground. This way if someone steps on the fuze or puts pressure on it, the fuze will trigger. BTW. I have the fuze screwed into a WW2 Mk 2 hand grenade for display.

 

Bob

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awesome collection and information!! neat little items/surprizes except if you stepped on one :(

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TheGrayGhost

Very nice collection and rundown of the different firing devices. Thanks for sharing!

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Charlie Flick

An excellent dissertation, Rambob. You reminded me of just how little I knew about these devices. Great stuff. Thanks for the post.

 

Regards,

Charlie

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Thanks everyone for the kind words. Here is an image of a few things I pulled from my demolition bag which may have been used with these firing devices. There are two spools of painted trip wire and a pair of M-2 crimpers for crimping on the blasting cap to the standard base. I believe the trip wire on the left is WW2 era, but I am not sure of the wire spool on the right. Comments anyone?

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Well it was a beautiful day so I decided to go out and see how easy I could set a WW2 booby trap in my yard. I took the Pull Firing Device M1 from my collection and screwed it into a grenade body. I then attached a thin wire to the ring on the device and I found a nice pine tree that was perfectly placed across a clearing in my woods. Now using the provided string on the firing device, I tied the grenade/device onto a tree branch and strung the wire across the clearing to another tree. The provided photo shows the fruits of my labors. I made it sound easy, but it really wasn't. There was not nearly enough string provided on the device to securely attach the device and grenade to the branch. You would need considerable more string or wire to also wrap around the grenade to secure it to the branch, since it is pretty heavy. I ended up delicately balancing the grenade on the branch so I could take the photo, but I would want to secure the combination much better if I was doing this for real. I am sure that there are many other more clever ways to place this combination in a real booby trap and they are probably spelled out in a WW2 TM somewhere.

 

Bob

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Hey Svensson, Thanks for the nice comments. I was super lucky to find those practice detonators for basically pennies. BTW.They are selling for about $50 apiece up on gun auction. I may decide to sell off a whole can or open one and sell the detonators individually. Stay tuned.

 

Bob

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Government Issue

Rambob, you've amassed an excellent and comprehensive collection of some rare demo gear, and thanks for enlightening me about each individual explosive piece. You don't hear much about these. Oh, and watch where you step... ;) or things might go BOOM :P

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Backtheattack

Great collection, very interesting to see the devices with their description. A friend of mine build some booby traps as training for our german soldiers during a 6 day training at Hof years ago. Was shocking.

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Rakkasan187

An excellent topic and some great devices..

 

A well thought out and concentrated collection and display

 

Thank you for sharing and describing each device

 

Leigh

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