The M14 mine is a United States small anti-personnel mine first fielded in the late 1950s. The M14 mechanism uses a belleville spring to flip a firing pin downwards into a stab detonator when pressure is applied. Once deployed, the M14 is very difficult to detect because it is a minimum metal mine, i.e. most of its components are plastic. Because of this, the design was later modified to ease mine clearance via the addition of a steel washer, glued onto the base of the mine.
In order to activate the M14, the base plug is removed and discarded and a stab detonator is screwed into the base of the mine. Then the mine is placed into a shallow hole in the ground and the pressure plate is carefully rotated from its safety position to the armed position using the special arming spanner supplied in each crate of mines. Finally, the U-shaped safety clip is removed from the pressure plate and discarded. At this point, the mine is fully armed.
The top of an M14 has a simple arming indicator (an arrow embossed on the pressure plate) which can point to either A(rmed) or S(afe), giving a clear indication of its status. When the arrow points to "A", the M14 will detonate if stepped on. Disarming the M14 requires the arming steps to be performed in reverse. However, due to the possibility of a booby trap or some other type of anti-handling device being fitted underneath, it is often standard demining practice to destroy land mines in situ, without attempting to remove and disarm them.
The M14 has not been in active US service since 1974. However, the United States retains a stockpile of 1.5 million mines held in reserve for emergency use in Korea. This mine has been widely used by various countries, so uncleared minefields containing M14s do exist. Additionally, several copies of the design have been manufactured locally by countries such as India and Vietnam. There are indications that as of 2008, an unlicensed copy of the M14 landmine was being manufactured in Burma by Tatmadaw at Ngyaung Chay Dauk, in Bago Division. The mine is extensively used by the local Myanmar Army.
The amount of explosive in the M14 mine is comparatively small in relation to other anti-personnel mines. As a result, whilst the blast wound from an M14 is unlikely to be fatal (assuming that prompt emergency medical care is provided) it usually destroys a significant part of the victim's foot, thereby leading to some form of permanent disability regarding their gait. However, in situations where the victims are barefoot or wearing sandals (e.g. in Burma) the wound inflicted by an M14 mine is much more severe.
Due to the relative simplicity of the firing mechanism, the M14 mine is not resistant to blast-clearing methods, unlike more modern antipersonnel mine designs such as the VS-MK2 mine.
- Weight: 100 g
- Explosive content: 29 g of Tetryl
- Diameter: 56 mm
- Height: 40 mm
- Operating pressure: 9 to 16 kg
- FM 20-32 APPENDIX A at GlobalSecurity.org—Additional details about the M14 mine
- Color diagram of M14 components
- Photo of an M14 held in the hand to illustrate its small size