During the 20th century and into the 21st, mines have sunk more surface ships than any other weapon. In World War II, there were efforts to detect mines from aircraft, as well as attempts to detonate influence mines by aircraft fitted with magnetic devices.
The United States and Great Britain employed fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters for mine-spotting during the Korean War (1950–53). The fixed-wing aircraft were Martin PBM Mariner and Short Sunderland flying boats, but more useful were Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopters. Normally assigned to utility work on board battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers, in the mine-spotting role these whirlybirds flew from land bases and ships, including tank landing ships (LSTs), and from the British light carrier Theseus. They mainly sighted surface or near-surface mines, with a few airmen taking “pot shots” at mines with rifles.1
1. During the Korean War mines sank three U.S. minesweepers and a fleet tug and damaged several other ships.
2. The Soviet missile cruiser–helicopter carrier Leningrad participated in the Suez Canal mine clearance at the southern entrance in 1973–74, with two Mi-8 Hip helicopters; in addition, the ship carried four Ka-25 Hormone utility helicopters.