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"Types of Concrete Antitank Obstacles" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on German concrete antitank obstacles used for coastal defense in the Atlantic Wall, from the Intelligence Bulletin, September 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]


This section deals with the principal types of concrete antitank obstacles erected by the Germans in the coastal defense zones of France, Belgium, and The Netherlands.


a. General

The Germans make a practice of constructing concrete antitank walls in all coastal areas where a strong defense is planned. Walls of this type are used to block streets and roads in coastal towns, at the approaches to strategic points, and on the outskirts of towns, generally. Often the Germans prepare a continuous obstacle along the entire sea front of a town by constructing concrete walls in line with the front elevation of existing buildings. First, rough timber shuttering is erected along the site proposed for a new wall, and then the concrete is poured. Light steel reinforcement is sometimes used, but often there is no reinforcement at all. Often metal hooks project from the top of a wall, to serve as anchors for barbed wire.

To improve the effectiveness of a concrete antitank wall, the Germans often dig a ditch in front of the obstacle or prepare a tank trap in the form of a pit covered with planks and gravel, or garnished netting.

In areas where there are quarries which can supply large quantities of stone, road blocks are often constructed of the native stone, instead of concrete.

b. Continuous Walls

When a continuous wall is erected along the sea front of a coastal town, a minimum thickness of 6 feet is the general rule. It is reported that the average thickness is from 8 to 11 feet. The height of such a wall is usually from 6 to 8 1/2 feet.

c. V-shaped Walls

The Germans frequently erect V-shaped walls across the roads or tracks leading inland (through defiles between cliffs and dunes) from beaches. The point of a V-shaped wall is always toward the sea. These walls are especially common in open coastal stretches between towns. The dimensions of walls of this type are similar to the dimensions of continuous walls. It must be expected that the apex of the V will contain gun emplacements, or that the entire V will have been built to serve as a pillbox.

d. Walls with Gaps

When the Germans build a concrete wall with a gap, the gap is usually wide enough to allow only one vehicle to pass through at a time. The gap can be closed by means of girders, rails, or gates fitted into sockets imbedded in the wall.

It has been reported that in certain European coastal areas the Germans use an interesting type of staggered double road block. These obstacles consist essentially of a pair of walls or barricades, sited one behind the other, but projecting from opposite sides of a road. Each wall projects across 1/2 or 2/3 of the width of the road. These walls, which are never less than 6 feet thick, may be of masonry or concrete, or may simply consist of log barricades filled with earth or sand. The horizontal and vertical logs are about 1 foot in diameter. The vertical logs are driven deep into the ground, and additional resistance is provided by diagonal bracing. Obviously, such obstacles are intended to slow down advancing vehicles, and thereby render them much more susceptible to attack.


a. Dragons' Teeth

Concrete obstacles known as "dragons' teeth" are used by the Germans to block streets, exits from quays, and well-defined beach exits where the level of the beach is approximately the same as that of the roads leading inland. A typical arrangement consists of four to eight staggered rows of tapered dragons' teeth, with 6 to 8 feet between the teeth in each row and 6 to 8 feet between rows. Often the bases of the teeth are connected by concrete beams, in lines parallel with the road; this is a means of reinforcing the obstacles against possible overturning. The total height of these obstacles may be from 3 to 6 feet.

b. Plain Blocks

Plain concrete blocks are used in the same way as dragons' teeth, but are also found in defiles between sand dunes, which might afford an entrance inland for vehicles even though no well-defined road exists. These blocks are arranged in from one to three rows, and are not always staggered. In dune country they are also found on forward slopes, near the crests. The blocks may be rectangular (3 feet wide on each side and 4 feet high) or cylindrical (3 to 4 feet in diameter and 4 feet high).


In coastal towns the Germans often use straight or curved steel rails embedded in concrete to block ramps, promenades, streets, and all other exits leading from beaches. Sometimes three or four lengths of straight rail are combined to form a skeleton pyramid, with their bases embedded in concrete and the tops bolted together. Rail-and-concrete obstacles are generally from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet high.

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