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Novodobe fortifikace Vol. 9 (2002)

Fortress Torun at the end of the 19th century
Wojciech Szymañski, Mariusz Wojciechowski (Poland)

Torun (Thorn in German language) used to be one of the most important fortresses of the German empire in the East. In issue 6 we brought an article about the polygonal fortifications of this fortress. This article deals with the following stage, when Torun had been surrounded by a wreath of brick forts and batteries according to the projects of the Engineering Committee. The author does not only deal with this fortress but he also puts its construction into a wider framework of the organisation of German fortifications construction after 1870. All standard and non-standard forts of the fortress are thoroughly described in the article and the chronology of their construction and modernisation is taken down in easy to survey charts. The basic types of forts are pictured in the plans and most importantly in the form of full-page axonometric drawings. Then follows a chapter on the artillery armament of the forts, illustrated with quality drafts of some weapons, particularly the revolver cannon used in caponieres. To help one orientates inside the fortress the article includes a detailed map of the whole wreath of forts, according to the situation in 1896. The next part of the article will probably be published in the eleventh issue of the magazine and it will deal with the armour elements of the fortress, armour batteries and the construction of the shelters in between the forts.

tha caponier of main fort
Left side caponier of the main fort VII "Hermann von Salza". You can see the roof reinforced by concrete and reconstructed loopholes.
Foto D. Krzysztasowski.
All photos by this author are downloaded from WWW with author's permission - http://www.fortykrakow.prv.pl/.

 

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Czechoslovakian armour machine gun posts after WWII, part 1
Martin Dubanek (Czech)

One of the very interesting and practically unknown chapters of the post-war history of the Czechoslovakian fortifications is the development of the revolving retractable MG posts and other armour elements, designed to strengthen the field fortifications and the re-activated lines of the pre-war fortifications. These combat objects were, like the Soviet types, to strike against the infantry and the accompanying armoured vehicles and therefore they were to withstand being run over by a medium tank. The article describes the development of the first revolving posts SOA and SOB which were to be used as a part of post-war heavy objects too, but their development was finished after the construction of wooden models. The construction of the B1 and especially the B2 posts, which originated the mass production of the OVKS (this will be the topic of the instalment of the article) is also described. In addition to that the author deals with the development of the armoured gunner's shield that was to be used as a protection of the post of a machine gun or a light anti-tank weapon. As well as the technical solution of the particular posts the article also explains to the reader the organisation of the development and tests of the new weapons in the 50's of the 20th century and the specialists who took part in it. The article is illustrated with plans of all the types of the armour elements.

crosscut through the MG post
Řez vysunutým kulometným stanovistěm typu SOA ve vysunuté poloze.
Kresba M. Dubánek 2001.

 

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Adjustments of the light object Mk. 36 for the purpose of additional camouflage
Martin Marek (Czech)

This shorter article deals with an interesting detail, found in terrain by our colleagues from Western Bohemia. In the VIIa - Stribro - Jih sector they had examined and documented the post-war adjustments of the light object Mk.36 that were most probably to improve their ability of concealment. This means steel hooks, embedded to the walls of the objects, so that they allowed good attachment of camouflaged nets and branches. The author also deals with more interesting details of the adjustments - changes of the embrasures of the objects to observation slits and strengthening their ceilings with placed stones. The article is supplemented with a map of the sector and a draft of the image of the objects before the adjustment and after it.

pillbox type 36, No. 30
The photo of the pillbox No. 30. You can see the reconstruction details which were realized in order to improve a camouflage after W.W.II - angustate embrassures, roof reinforced by stones...
Photo by T. Kamensky 2001.

 

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Czechoslovakian test object with the PzKpfw IV tank turret
Martin Dubanek (Czech)

It might be a surprise for most of the readers that the Czechoslovakian army had been using a large amount of German Pzkpfw tanks after the war. The author of the article has found materials about the preparations to use these tanks' turrets to strengthen the Czechoslovakian borders, during his search in the military archive. The turrets were to be installed on small objects, which in contrast to the prefab objects for the T-34 tank turrets (described in the last issue) were built from reinforced concrete. Very surprising is the fact that one of these objects had been built in 1955 in Brdy training grounds and the turret was fitted onto it. No more of these objects had been built after all and most of the tanks were sold to Syria, however the object is a rare curiosity in the history of the Czechoslovakian fortifications. In the article the construction of the test object is described in detail and so are its technical solution and the adjustments of the turret, needed in order to fit it onto the object. The article is illustrated with plans of the object and the adjusted turret and also with a photograph of a model of the object, made by the author himself.

a bunker for tunk turret
A model of the scratch bunker for use with tank turret PzKpfw IV Ausf G. At the rear side there is a wooden ditch (made by M. Dubanek).
Photo by M. Dubanek 2001.

 

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Emergency exits of the Swiss fortifications
Oldrich Gregar (Czech)

This article deals mainly with the question of the solution of the emergency exits from independent objects and fortresses built in Switzerland before the end of WWII. After the opening, dealing mainly with the importance of the emergency exits for the combat in fotresses and for the morale of their garrisons generally, the author deals with the description of the emergency exits of artillery fortresses Füringen, Reuenthal, Mühlefluh and Heldsberg. With every fortress there is a brief description of its history, objects and armament, so that the reader gets a good concept of these huge objects. At the end there is a mention about almost 5 km long gallery connecting the well known fort Airolo with the Saintgodhard tunnel, with which it created an almost 20 km long underground access to the fort from the Swiss hinterland. The article is supplemented with quality plans by the author, who has illustrated many Czech books.

a bunker of fortress Reuenthal
A casemate B1 of fortress Reuenthal.
Photo by O. Gregar 1998.

 

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Fortress Thiaumont
Marcus Massing (Germany)


Articles deals with a small part of the history of Verdun fortress - Thiaumont fortress - a small infantry fort in the most exposed place of the fortification ring between the Froideterre fortress and fort Douaumont. Although Thiaumont had been just a small object with barracs, an artillery object "de Bourges" and one revolving MG turret, it became the place of probably the most dramatical fights of the all fortification objects. Since the beginning of the battle, Thiaumont was intensively shelled and almost constantly fought for until the October 1916. In the article the author describes the construction of the fortress and deals with the individual phases of the fight, during which Thiaumont had been alternately in hands of French and German units, until the battle of Verdun ended. Today nobody could count, how many men had fallen there and although the objects had been built from reinforced concrete, only unidentifiable ruins remain of them.

the destroyed dome of type Digoin

An observatory dome type Digoin, destroyed by German shell (calibre 420 mm).
Photo by J. Pavel 1998.