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"Miscellaneous (German)" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Miscellaneous section from the March 1943 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin, covering "Light Assault Bridge" and "Use of Smoke Against Tanks."

[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.]



a. Version 1

The Germans make use of a portable light assault bridge (Kradschützensteg), which can accommodate manhandled antitank and infantry guns, light cars, motorcycles with and without sidecars, and infantry in file.

This light assault bridge (see fig. 1) consists of prepared wooden sections which, when assembled and laid across small, inflatable boats, become the superstructure of the bridge. A single boat with its superstructure is known as a "bay." The work of assembling is carried out on land, preferably under cover, and the finished bridge is then carried to a desired site and launched.

The bridge is constructed in lengths of approximately 80 feet, each length consisting of 5 bays. A strong individual timber frame is lashed to each inflatable boat. Track supports are then laid down and secured by screw clamps, and finally the tracks themselves are screwed, nailed, or lashed into place. The tracks consist of planks which are 16 feet 5 inches long, 8 inches

Water obstacles less than 10 feet wide can be spanned by a single unit without floating support. Such a unit can be carried and assembled by two men.

[Figure 1. German Light Assault Bridge (Version 1).]
Figure 1.—German Light Assault Bridge (Version 1).

b. Version 2

The tracked light assault bridge also comes in a heavier version, which will carry light motor transport with a maximum load of 1 ton, provided that the track width does not exceed 4 feet 6 inches.

Although the two bridges resemble each other, the heavier version is decked, rather than tracked, and affords a track 5 feet 1 inch wide. There are two boats per bay, so that the bridge can be separated into independent rafts, unlike the tracked bridge, in which the joints of the superstructure meet in the center of each boat (see fig. 1a).[1]


The Germans have been conducting experiments to test the effect of smoke weapons used at close quarters against tanks. No information is available as to the type of tank and the type of grenade employed in these tests. However, it is known that the results convinced the Germans that smoke can be an important factor in combatting tanks. Four experiments under varying conditions yielded the following data:

a. Experiment 1

A smoke hand grenade was set off beside a stationary tank; the tank's hatches were closed, and its engine was running. Not only the suction of the engine fans, but leaks in the forward entrance hatch, the mantlet of the hull machine gun, the turret ring, and the turret ventilators, filled the tank with a thick accumulation of smoke. Opening the hatches did not ventilate the tank sufficiently.

The Germans decided that a tank crew, fighting under these conditions, would be forced out of the tank after a short period, and that the driver and hull machine-gunner would suffer most from the effects of the smoke.

b. Experiment 2

In a second experiment the conditions were duplicated, except that the engine was turned off. It was discovered that although smoke entered the tank, evacuation would have become necessary only after several minutes—and, even then, probably for no one but the driver.

c. Experiment 3

A third test was held, this time with the tank moving and its hatches closed. Smoke grenades were thrown at the tank, and failed to lodge on it. The crew lost almost none of their capacity to fight, and were affected more by limitation of their vision than by the actual penetration of smoke into the tank.

d. Experiment 4

In the fourth experiment, a moving tank with closed hatches was used; but this time a cable 6 1/2 feet long, with a smoke grenade tied to each end, was thrown across the barrel of the gun. (After a little practice, the thrower became quite adept at this.) It was found that evacuation of the tank was necessary after 30 seconds. Observation from the tank was, of course, out of the question. The Germans felt that if members of a crew were to show enough presence of mind to put on their respirators instantly, and rotate the turret through 180 degrees, it would be possible for them to avoid the effect sufficiently to bring the tank to safety. However, it was clear that in any case the fighting capacity of the crew would be seriously affected.

[1] U.S. troops should not use these bridges unless they have been inspected and approved by Engineers.

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