There have been a number of reports concerning a German railway track
destroyer and the devastating damage caused by it in Italy. According to one report, the
equipment consists of a locomotive, a flat car, a freight car for explosives, a freight
car for personnel and a hook or claw as shown in the accompanying photograph. The
crew is reported to consist of one noncommissioned officer and 12 men.
a. Use on Ties
Two or three ties are first removed and a hole dug deep enough to accommodate
the hook or claw. The hook is lowered and placed in position underneath the first
tie and the first two or three ties loosened. The hook is then drawn forward by the
locomotive, dragging up the ties and breaking them in the middle. The road bed is
damaged considerably in the process. When not in operation, the hook is kept clear
by means of a distance block.
b. Use on Rails
There is a box arrangement forward of the hook providing room for six men
and a number of cases of explosive charges.* Each 2.2 pound charge is initiated by
an 8-inch length of safety fuze. There is a 20-second delay
after ignition of the fuze.
The men are divided into two teams of three each. The first man hands the
charges to the next who passes them to the third man who initiates the charges
and drops them into guide chutes which rest on the rails. The charges automatically
attach to the inside of the rail by means of metal clips fixed to them by grubscrews.
c. Speed of Operation
As the rear wheels on which the hook is based lack firm support, the apparatus
is subjected to a pronounced swaying movement which necessarily slows the
operation. The speed of the destroyer has been reported as about 9.4 miles per hour.
*These charges damage the rails and new rails are required to restore the
track, (see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 43, p. 26 for
a reference to the subject of rail destruction and restoration).