A mine plow (plough in British English) is a tank-mounted device designed to clear a lane through a minefield, allowing other vehicles to follow. Buried land mines are plowed up and pushed outside the tank's track path or tipped over. Since modern anti-tank mines rely on a focused explosion to destroy a tank, they are useless when turned upside-down; as the tank runs over the mine, it will expend its blast down instead of upwards, causing insignificant damage, if any.
The British started work on plow designs in 1937, and a successful design was introduced for the Matilda Mk I tank though it was not used.
The first recorded combat use is by a "Bullshorn" plow on a Churchill tank of the British 79th Armoured Division, on Sword Beach during the Allied invasion of Normandy (this was one of "Hobart's Funnies" specialized vehicles). The "Bullshorn" was just one of various designs of plow that were tested and used by the British.
The mine plow is still in use by many Combat Engineer units. The Royal Engineers have deployed the Trojan to Afghanistan where it is usually fitted with a plow on the front, which enables it to clear mines, either detonating them on contact, or pushing them out of the way to clear a safe channel for following vehicles.
- Chamberlain & Ellis British and American Tanks of World War II (1969) Arco Publishing. p55
- "Trojan used for IED clearance"