Thursday, June 28, 2018

M113 mine roller Armored Personnel Carrier 'Bukoo Boom-Boom'

HMAPC George 'Bukoo Boom-Boom' used by the Engineers to clear mines in the Dat Do area. Photo by Noel Keen [1970]

They'd drive behind one another with those rollers. A vast majority of mines in Vietnam were AP mines. Even ones used to stop vehicles (NVA and VC used what was available and they did not have a nearly significant amount of AT mines)
HMAPC Flint was fully restored after the war and is in the RAE Museum.

Three APC's were used in mine clearance 'Flint', 'George' and 'Steele'. They had a blast shield fitted to the rear and a boom was hung from the right hand side with tyres on it.

Flint and Steel were named in honour of  former engineering luminaries
George was named for Captain George who was in charge of mine clearing operations.

In June 1966 the Australian government sent the 1st Australian Task Force to support the American war in Vietnam. They were located in a rubber plantation at Nui Dat in the middle of Phuoc Tuy province (approximately 60 kilometres South - East of Saigon). 1 ATF was instructed by the Americans to “pacify” the province.

Six months later the newly appointed Task Force commander, Brigadier Stuart Graham decided to lay a barrier fence and minefield from Dat Do village (next to Nui Dat plantation) southwards to the coast 11 kilometres away. Graham believed that the minefield would separate the people in the heavily populated South - West from the enemy in the North and East. It would also release more troops to conduct Search and Destroy missions that was the American strategy at the time. Graham chose to lay the minefield against the advice of his senior advisers, including his Combat Engineering Specialist.

The minefield was 11 kilometres long, 100 metres wide and consisted of over 20,000 M16 “Jumping Jack” mines, with approximately 12,000 of these fitted with anti lift devices (hand grenades). Either side of the minefield was a barbed wire fence. While laying the minefield several Australian soldiers were killed and more were wounded as the mines detonated during the laying process. One of the basic tenets of military mine laying is to ensure the minefield is covered by observation and covering fire in the event of enemy incursion. Neither of these rules was followed, nor were there any plans for the removal of the mines at a later date.

After an initial period of several months exploring the minefield at night, and losing over 30 soldiers the Viet Cong eventually devised a method of safely lifting the mines and defeating the anti lift device. It has been estimated that over 3000 mines were removed and later used against Australian patrols with devastating and fatal effect. In fact the stolen mines were the source of most of the Australian casualties from that time.

Brigadier Graham returned to Australia and was promoted!!!!!!!!!!!

After much procrastination and a rising death toll from the mines it was decided to remove the mines. The Australians had had virtually no experience of clearing mines

The 1st Field Squadron of the Royal Australian Engineers was given the task.

They then modified three M113’s and called them HMAPC FLINT, STEEL and GEORGE. The procedure was to roll the tires over the mines at a set speed where the exploding mines would detonate at the rear of the vehicles with the add on armor plate absorbing only minor shrapnel damage.

A huge number of M113 Armored Personnel Carrier variants have been created, ranging from infantry carriers to nuclear missile carriers. The M113 armored personnel carrier has become one of the most prolific armored vehicles of the second half of the 20th century

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Thanks, good story hadn't read that one before. I'm sure everyone was lining up to drive am M113 through a minefield! I'd heard of the VC re-purposing unexploded aerial bombs, but not anti-personnel mines. The M16 APM and the Soviet OZM family are a particularly nasty piece of kit, as they spring up about 3 feet in the air, and explode, scattering shrapnel everywhere, most significantly in the soldier's groin, and femoral artery. So its a lovely prospect, either get your balls blown off, or bleed to death in the middle of nowhere.