Booby Traps - Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas employed various booby traps against American and Allied forces. These traps were cunningly designed to inflict harm, slow down enemy troops, and create psychological distress. The illustrations below show some of the most utilised traps.

Primitive booby trap making factory

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.

An Arrow 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.

Bamboo whip booby 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.

Cartridge booby trap

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.

Side-closing 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

Venus Fly 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.

spike board booby trap

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.

Grenade booby 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.

door booby trap

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.

Panji-stake booby 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.

Mace booby trap

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.

Trigger device created from a rodent trap

A simple battery operated triggering device created with a rodent trap

Panji stakes

Panji Stakes: A very common and easy trap to make and can be applied almost anywhere

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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