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WWII Bunkers
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In order to consolidate their occupation and to prevent or hinder an allied invasion, the German forces built a large number of bunkers. Meanwhile, the German propaganda machine attempted to create the myth of the Atlantic Wall, supposedly consisting of massive bunkers bristling with heavy guns forming one continuous fortification from the Norwegian North Cape to the Spanish frontier, forming an impenetrable defence for the 'Festung Europa'.

Whilst there were areas where such massive defences existed - including the Channel Islands, ports and the Pas de Calais, the bulk of the coast was far more lightly defended. Artillery batteries (often using captured guns) were sited to cover likely landing places and the first line of defence was provided by anti-tank and infantry bunkers, together with beach obstacles designed to trap and destroy landing craft.

Along the Eastern Front, North Africa and in the Mediterranean, thousands of bunkers were constructed by the 'Organisation Todt', an auxiliary force of the 'Bautruppen' (construction troops). Constructed of steel-reinforced concrete, many bunkers had uniform measurements, function and internal layout. Fashioned in pre-fabricated sections, the walls and ceilings were a minimum of two metres thick, although larger bunkers had much greater protection. The number of any given type could stretch well into four figures. and many can still be seen today on the Atlantic coastline.

Construction was normally achieved by pouring concrete around open frameworks formed from steel rods set into wooden forms. After the concrete had set, the wooden shuttering was removed. To speed up the process, and to prevent Allied bombing dislodging the shuttering, pre-cast concrete blocks were stacked around the reinforcing rods and the voids filled with concrete. Many bunkers were built upon a large foundation shelf or platform, ensuring that a near miss from an aerial bombardment wouldn't overturn the structure or unseat any equipment within.

Bunkers were designed around a number of basic design features, in the following order:

  • Fire effect (field of view of the weapons they contained).
  • Cover (protection for troops and equipment).
  • Concealment (preventing an enemy determining the type and strength of weapons or number of troops deployed).

Good fields of fire were given priority, and a number of bunkers were usually sited together to provide overlapping or mutually supporting fields of fire. Additional bunkers were also provided to give flanking fire. The firing embrasures ('gun slits') were usually stepped to minimise bullets ricocheting into the gun opening. In addition, steel shields were sometimes fitted to close the gun opening when not in use.

Concealment was used whenever possible, blending the positions into surrounding terrain by banking earth over the sides and top of the bunker. The additional covering of earth also acted as extra ballistic shielding. Some bunkers were also disguised as houses or other structures, with guns firing through false doors or windows.

Review by Mark Wheeler published in the SOCTW Journal, Issue Twenty:

"...All are to a medium 20mm in size and hence FAA/Drews/Platoon 20 types do not look out of place with them. Whilst 20-03 looks large in the illustration, the usable room within the emplacement is only about four square inches so Flak guns of only 20/37mm can be comfortably set up. All have removable roofs and are hollow, revealing divided rooms inside and, on 20-04, a spiral stairwell. Embrasures and doorways are open which, combined with the models hollow construction, gives a good impression of depth.

The detail implied by the illustrations is delivered on the models. Slab concrete construction for the wall with rough poured concrete cast roofs has been convincingly depicted, as has the occasional shell impact crater. The Tobruk Pit, Flak Emplacement and HMG Bunker all have circular roof recesses on which light tank turrets (not supplied) could be mounted, or these can be left clear to accommodate machine guns or spotters.

I was impressed by the pieces, which have been manufactured to a high standard with no air holes or warpage, and was inspired to send for sets of the 'SB' range of 20mm field emplacements and the 'TSA' 20/25 Trench System."

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WWII Bunkers Painting Guide
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Bunkers came in a variety of colours, depending on the colour of the sand and gravel used in the cement or concrete of their construction. For grey coloured bunkers, prime the model with white primer and allow to thoroughly dry. Cover the white with Paynes grey, then, while still wet, wipe off with a sponge. The white primer will be stained pale grey by the paint, with undercuts and crevices accentuated by darker areas of paint. Repeat until the desired colour is obtained.

For sandier looking bunkers, proceed as above, but using raw sienna paint instead of Paynes grey. Darken the gun port interiors with stippled Paynes grey to exaggerate the shadows.After the paint has dried, add rust streaks and lichen patches with burnt umber / raw sienna and sap green or olive green. Ventilator covers and steel reinforcing studs may be painted dark grey or dark green, then rust stains added after they have dried.

Finally, if the paint appears a little too bright, dry-brush with a little white or yellow ochre to mute the colours. Freshly-exposed, chipped or worn concrete can be brightened by lightly stippling with white.

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