A new type pill box, called the "Armored Crab" by the Germans, is now
in action on many sectors of the Eastern front. These pill boxes are of steel
construction, painted grey and are dome-shaped. They are mounted on wheels
(see accompanying figures 1 and 2), in an inverted position, and may be quickly
moved from one position to another, usually by tractor. They carry a crew of
|Overall height|| ||6 ft|
|Height of upper part above ground|| ||3 ft|
|Width|| ||5.6 ft|
|Weight|| ||3 tons|
b. Thickness of Armor
|Level with embrasure|| ||5.46 in|
|Below embrasure|| ||3.51 in|
|Sides, rear and top|| ||1.56 in|
|Lower section and floor || || .39 in|
The pill box has a small embrasure with an observation peep hole above
it. When necessary the embrasure may be covered by a large triangular armored
slide which can be moved either to the right or left of the embrasure and is operated
by a handle on the inside. On the top of the pill box are two collapsible periscopes
also regulated from the inside. The entrance to the pill box is through a small
trap door in the rear which has two levers for closing it from the inside.
The armament is an MG-42 or MG-34 machine gun mounted on a special
type stand. The machine gun is elevated or depressed by an elevating hand wheel.
It moves horizontally along a frame which is attached to the inside walls of the
pill box - the field of fire through the embrasure being 60 degrees.
These pillboxes are usually situated in the second defense zone. It takes
fifteen men to change one from traveling to firing position. When it is emplaced,
the usual procedure is to dig a hole and sink in the entire lower section and part
of the upper section (see figure 3). The upper part does not rotate so that only the
machine gun aperture in front and the opening in the rear with the two periscopes
and the pipe on top must be exposed.
Under combat conditions the observer looks through one of the periscopes
to observe and direct the gunner's fire. The gunner observes through the forward
slit. Protection from the front against rifle, grenade and artillery fire is by means
of the iron slit cover which is manipulated to cover or open slit from the inside.
Inside the pillbox there is sufficient room for both members of the crew to sit
comfortably and move around to a limited extent. There is a small heating stove
and a ventilating apparatus, operated by a foot pedal, which provides sufficient
changes of air when all vents are closed. There is enough ammunition for 5 to 10
hours of fire.
g. Methods of Combatting
As only about one yard of this pill box shows above the ground, it is very
difficult to detect. Thorough reconnaissance is imperative. It can best be detected
by the outline of its embrasure, by its periscopes, flue pipe, and flash and powder
smoke from the machine gun when fired.
Riflemen or mortar squads should demolish the periscopes, thus leaving
the crew without means of observation. Rifle shots should be aimed at the embrasure.
In a number of captured pill boxes, armor-piercing rifle bullets had made holes in
the lower part (the walls of the base). Such fire is effective only if this portion has
been uncovered by artillery fire or if it was not completely covered with earth
when the pill box was emplaced. Antitank guns should aim at the sides of the pill
box about 20 to 24 inches from the top, since the thickness of the armor there is
only one inch. The most practical method of destroying these pill boxes is
point-blank fire by antitank or artillery guns.
Since the field of fire is only 60 degrees, separate pill boxes may be
destroyed by assault troops moving in on the vulnerable and unprotected sides and
rear. As a rule these pill boxes are used in groups, but by neutralizing the
supporting pill boxes it is possible to isolate any particular one.
When assault troops come up to these pill boxes, they should first cover
the embrasure with earth and throw hand grenades at the trap door in rear. If
the crew refuses to surrender, the pill box should be blown up. In attacking these
pill boxes Molotov cocktails may be used against the periscope openings. If no
explosives or gasoline bottles are available, in addition to covering the embrasures
with earth, the trap door should be wedged with stones or logs to put the pill box
out of action.