Monday, October 31, 2016

Afrikakorps MG 34 Crew in the Desert Nest

Afrikakorps Panzergrenadiere from Schützen-Regiment 115 / 15.Panzer-Division with an MG34 in the desert nest during Operation Scorpion. They were part of Kampfgruppe von Herff, commanded by Oberst Maximilian von Herff. Operation Scorpion or Unternehmen Skorpion, from 26–27 May 1941, was a military operation during the North African Campaign of World War II, fought between Axis forces under Oberst Herff and British forces under Lieutenant-General William "Strafer" Gott. A counter-attack was made on British positions at Halfaya Pass in north-western Egypt, which had been captured during Operation Brevity (15–16 May 1941). Skorpion was the second offensive operation commanded by Rommel in Africa (apart from the Siege of Tobruk) and pushed the British out of Halfaya Pass, back to the area from Buq Buq to Sofafi. The Germans and Italians fortified the pass and built other strong points back towards Sidi Azeiz as tank killing zones, ready to meet another British attack. The British continued preparations for Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June 1941). Battleaxe was another costly British failure that led to the sacking of General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief Middle East and other senior officers.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Maintenance on U-Boat Deck Gun

Maintenance work on the 37mm quick-firing deck gun above the U-boat in the rough sea, with the man wearing both lifejacket and safety harness.  The German U-boats of types I, VII, IX and X had a very powerful secondary weapon which was the deck gun. Each boat had one in front of the conning tower and with a good crew they could fire 15-18 rounds a minute. Often used to finish off damaged vessels or sink smaller ships the gun normally had a crew of 3 to 5 and was usually commanded by the second watch officer (IIWO). In order to use the weapon, the U-boat had to be on the surface naturally and it was normally not used when aircraft were suspected to be around. It required a line of men (3 which on the deck) to transport the ammunition from the main locker below the control room to the gun. The used rounds were taken back into the boat. The U-boats had a small water-proof ammunition locker for the gun on the deck in order to be able to start firing almost immediately when the order was given. The smaller Type II coastal U-boats had no deck gun. In 1937 plans were drawn up for type XI U-boat cruisers. Those huge boats would have had 4 pieces of 12,7cm guns in two separate towers. They were not built.

Source :
Book "Wolfpacks At War: The U-Boat Experience In WWII" by Jak Mallmann Showell

River Crossing in Russia Using a Ferry Made of Brückengerät B

Operation Barbarossa, summer 1941. A coloured picture of a ferry made out of 8-tonne Brückengerät B (Bridge Equipment B). The vehicle is a turretless Beute Russian BA 10 armored car used as gun tractor. Bruckengerat B was one of the most commonly used German pontoon. A motorized Bridge Column B was equipped with trucks and halftrack prime-movers for towing trailers with pontoons, decking, ramps, wooden planks, and motorboats. 16 steel half-pontoons used either paired or singly allowed the assembly of a bridge either of 8 tons capacity and 83m (274ft) long, or bearing 16 tons and 54m (178ft) long. The deck sections had steel stringers, and curb guards with 26 wooden planks. There were eight trestle sections consisting of roadway decking supported by adjustable steel posts, each with three bracing legs. These allowed ramps to connect to the floating bridge when the bank was higher than the bridge’s roadway, or when the water near the banks was too shallow to float pontoons; they also allowed ramp-angle adjustment as the river rose and fell. Several types of ferries could also be constructed, and a trailer was provided with cable reels which could pull these back and forth. A halfpontoon was 12ft long and 5ft wide, and a ferry capable of carrying 4 tons required two half-pontoons and one bridge deck section. An 8-ton double ferry used four half-pontoons and two deck sections, and 16-ton ferries used two full pontoons and two deck sections. The full-pontoon bridge and the 16-ton ferry could in fact support any vehicle and equipment found in the infantry or early-war armored infantry division, to include a Panzer IV tank or a 15cm howitzer and its halftrack prime-mover. This picture was first published in the book "Das Heer im Grossdeutschen Freiheitskampf" (The Army in the Greater German Battle for Liberty) as issued for the German youth by the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) in Berlin, printed by Förster und Borries in Zwickau, Germany in about 1942.

Source :
Book "World War II River Assault Tactics" by Gordon L. Rottman

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sd.Kfz.7 Towing Artillery Crossing the K-Gerät Bridge

The halftrack prime mover shown in this picture (towing a 15cm sFH18 heavy howitzer battery) is the Sd.Kfz.7 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen (8-ton). It was the most widely used prime mover type of which 10,257 units were built. The K-Gerät  (Kastenträger-Gerät) moveable bridge and simple broad leaf camouflage is interesting too. K-Gerät is a light self-supporting 16-ton bridge on three part pontoons or blocks with length 78,8m. Its design was copied from the British Small Box Girder bridge in the mid-1930s. The K-Gerät used the same panel length as the SBG, but slightly amended the bracing details. A 1943 article in the German military magazine describes the bridge being used on the Russian Front in conjunction with pontoons and goes on to say that 'the bridge has given good service and is similar to bridges used in enemy armies'

Source :
Book "One More River To Cross" by J.H. Joiner