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Booby Traps of the Vietnam War

VC Panji Manufacturing village

Manufacturing Panji Traps: Long nails or lengths of thin steel rods, hammered flat at the ends, filed into a barbed shape, then hammered through blocks of wood.

side-closing panji trap spike board trap

Side-Closing Panji Trap: The most basic trap. Very cheap to make and very common. Basically a small hole covered with leaf litter, the victim's foot is impaled when stood on.

Spike Board: The spike board is used with a pit and consists of a treadle board, one end of which is spiked. When a man steps on the treadle, the spiked end flies up striking him in the face or chest.

side closing booby trap door booby trap

Side Closing Trap: The side closing trap consists of two wooden slats, each studded with spikes, sliding along a pair of guide rods, and controlled by heavy rubber bands. When the prop holding the slats apart is dislodged, the slats spring together impaling the portion of the body passing between them

Door Trap: Two lengths of bamboo with the cross section heavily spiked and is suspended above the door or opening via a trip wire. When the wire is tripped the trap swings down impaling the victim.

arrow booby trap Mace booby trap

Arrow Trap: The arrow trap is constructed of a length of bamboo fastened to a board. An arrow, powered by a strong rubber band passes through it. The rubber band is held in the extended position by a catch device triggered by a trip wire.

Mace Trap: Mace traps take various forms, and may consist of a spiked concrete ball, drum, box or log suspended in a tree on the end of a rope, or cable. When the trip wire is pulled, the mace swings down along the path striking anyone in its way.

tiger booby trap whip booby trap

Tiger Trap:  The tiger trap or deadfall consists of a weighted, spike-studded board. The actuation is usually by means of a trip wire stretched across the path or track underneath the trap.

Whip Trap: Bamboo whips are constructed of a length of green bamboo with spikes (normally bamboo) attached to one end. The bamboo pole is bent and held in an arched position by a catch device triggered by a trip wire stretched across the track. When released, the bamboo pole whips back into the straight position impaling the person triggering the trap.

Venus fly booby trap Grenade booby trap

Venus Fly Trap: Consists of a rectangular frame work with overlapping barbs emplaced in a pit, on trails or a rice padi. Can be made from a metal container which is sunk into the ground until the top is flush and then covered with grass or leaf camouflage. The barbs inflict injury especially when the victim attempts to withdraw his leg out of the trap.

Grenade Trap: These are placed along likely paths of travel with a two stakes embedded on both sides of the creek or stream with the grenade tied to one and the safety pin partially removed from the striker lever and tied by trip wire to the other stake.

Grenade booby trap (2) Ammunition cartridge booby trap

Grenade Trap: Two cans are tied to trees either side of the track with the delay train and safety pins are removed and slide into the cans holding the striker levers in position. A trip wire is tied to both grenades. when the victim's foot pulls the trip wire the grenades are pulled from the cans causing instant detonation.

Cartridge Trap: A section of pipe, bamboo barrel or hole in timber with a tack nailed through the base upon which sits the cartridge with the round slightly above ground level.

Booby trap markers

Booby Trap Markers: Types of markers indicating the location of a booby trap. Often used as pointers by the VC, indicating direction and distance to booby trap.


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To see the weapons and specifications used by the Australian army during the Vietnam war, as well as weapons used by the VC and NVA along with a video of the Battle of Binh Ba and a range of articles written by the soldiers themselves in 'Once We Were Soldiers', Click on the 5RAR Association Logo.