Bunkers of the Heer
- Published: 12 February 2011 12 February 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
The bunkers of the Heer is the absolutely largest cathegory of bunkers.
One must remember that the KM and LW started their own programmes at a later stage than the heer.
In many occations, the Heer bunkers were widely used by LW and KM. This could be explained by the fact that The Festungspionieer's of the heer, which built most of the fortifications, probably were most happy with "their own" designs.
To make an better overwiev, I have divided them into the following categories.
-static defence bunkers
Coastal batteriesThis is a listing of the bunkers used strictly for weapons or aiming,
as the rest is covered in the other sections.
There were only a few standarized open emplacements for artillery.
The Heer had so many different types of artillery, that it was simply impossible to standarise a design.
Most of these constructions are SK(special construction) and varies from the most simple pile of rocks,
to emplacements with massive flankingwalls, connected with trenches, tunnels and bunkers.
The heer only used field artillery in their batteries. Each type of artillery had its own design of a "wheelbase"
which the gun was mounted on. When mounted, it was possible to turn the guns roughly on tracking systems, and then
use the traverse for correct aiming.
Later in the war the use of casemates became more frequent, especially in France.
The gunfloor inside a casemate is too small for a regular artillery piece, so the guns used inside were converted.
The gun was mounted on a pivot and bolted to the floor. large shields were added to cover the opening infront.
These casemates were much more difficult to camouflage, so many different patterns were made in the concrete to
break up the surface. In a few occations, the casemates even got bricks on the roof to look like a house!
Fire control posts
The most common firecontrol of the heer is the R-636. This bunker is easily recognized by its round front.
The purpose was the same as the Kriegsmarine control posts, and used most the same equipment inside.
The heer also used a lot of special constructions for the smaller batteries. This could be a result of the
huge amount of steel used in the R bunkers.
The heer had both land and coast observation bunkers. These are often found with massive armoured copulars, often conneted
directly to the fire controlpost. These copulars were much used in the "Westwall" but as the lack of steel became higher,
many observation posts were built in concrete only, then as a SK (Special construction)
Static defence bunkerThese bunkers were the main cathegory and rages from emplacements for 1 man with K-98, to a 88mm Pak bunker.
1/3 of the built bunkers comes under this cathegory.
I have divided them into the following categories:
-Small emplacements for infantry.
-Bunkers with tank turrets
Small emplacements for infantry
These small emplacements called "Ringstand" are probably the most common construction in the Atlantikwall.
The Germans gave them the nickname "Tobruk" after the Africa campaign. At first look, a ringstand seems like a
waste of concrete due to the low protection it gave(Compared to other bunkers). One must remember that it
surely gave a lot more protection than the enemy on the beach would have! Another important role was that
this is actually the only bunker where a handgrenade could be thrown from inside.
Mg bunkers are found in all kinds of variations. The few standarized ones used so much armoured plates
or copulars, that these were only placed near strategic important places like airfields and large batteries.
A typical Mg bunker would have many small openings for weapons pointing in many directions. Usually a Mg bunker
would have 1 or 2 mg's inside.
The anti-tank cannon bunker played an important role in the beach defence. It was able to fire on apporaching
landingcrafts (When they were to close for the main guns) as well as tanks on the beach. A typical Pak bunker
would house everything from a 37mm to a 88mm. A very much used gun was the 4,7cm Festungspak (t). The barrel of this gun
went truogh a gas-tight metal frame which was added in the bunker. In some occations, the 4,7cm is found with
an Mg mounted in the same plate, giving it defece agaist infantry too.In addion to Pak, the 5 CM KWK (Kampfwagenkanone)
were much used along the beaches. Thise guns wer mounted both in open emplacements and bunkers.
Bunkers with Tank turrets
Many turrets from captured and scrapped tanks were placed on ringstands. For some reason, these turrets were only
parts of airport defences. They are not found among the coastal batteries. Some indicatios says that this is
becouse the turrets were easy to operate, and could be used by the Luftwaffe. This still needs research, so
if anyone out there has a LW Wehrpass with tank turret entries, I would be glad to hear from you!
The most common turrets are:
During 1944, some Pantherturrets were deployed on the R-687 bunker in Poland.
Very little is known about their existence, and how many there were.
Recently a turret was recovered in Poland, and this is the only known existing.....
Bunker for Mortars
These were usually placed in open emplacements behind the front line. In some places they are found in a
ringstand which is similar to the "Tobruk", but it has a much bigger opening on top.
Bunker for M19 Granatenwerfer
This incredible weapon was developed strictly for fortifications.
It was a huge 5cm grenadelauncher with a tremendous rate of fire.(The Germans often called them "Sperrfeüerbatterie")
It had it's own bunkertype called R-633, but there M-19 integrated in allmost every submarinebunker as well.
Not more than 100 of these were built, so they were only placed at the most critical places in the Atlantikwall.
A few remaining examples of this weapon are still around.
More info on the M19 Granatenwerfer
Bunker for RAG-38
This was a anti-submarine project started late in the war. A 38cm Raketen-Tauch-Geschoss(same as Sturm Tiger)
was mounted in a emplacement similar to the Coastal artillery. The idea was to attack submerged vessels near the coast.
The test trials were not good, so the project wasn't taken furter.
A similar weapon called RAG-38 were in a few occations used during air attacks to fire a parachute carrying a long steelwire attached to shore (or ship)
Support bunkersThe support bunkers include everything which was not permanently equipped with weapons.
Most personell bunkers were built for 10 to 20 men. It was used as living quarters for the troops on guard.
(The rest of the battallions would stay in barracks behind the frontline) In smaller strongpoints and batteries,
one of these bunkers are often combined with a radio/signals unit. Most of the standarized personell bunkers were built like the gas-tight defence bunkers, including all the entrance defences.
Most of the personell bunkers also have their own "Tobruk" near the entrance (As a part of the construction)
There were used to protect equipment like moveable Pak guns, cars and even tanks!
These were infact a massive garage with a small personell room and a "Tobruk"
The communication bunkers were similar to the personell bunkers, but communicated with all the surrounding
bunkers. The Radio bunker would have contact with the Hq, surounding batteries and even the possobillity to call
in air support.
The higher command and HQ's were placed behind the front. They were in direct contact with the front, and
controled the forces from a safe place. There were several standarized bunkers but also a lot of huge
special constructions. A typical command post (Gefechtstand) could be the R-608, which seems to have been
popular within the Lufwaffe figher commands.
There were bunkers for allmost every purpose, including Kitchens, water wells, latrines and so on.
These often had a "Tobruk" attached, but had no actual combat value.