[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
CHAPTER VIII. EQUIPMENT
Section V. ENGINEER EQUIPMENT
8. Bridging Equipment
a. GENERAL. (1) Development. Apart from the introduction of
(2) Bridging operations. The initial stage of an assault crossing is carried out by storm boats. These may be supplemented by pneumatic boats supplied in three sizes. Once a bridgehead has been established, pneumatic boats play an important part, either in ferrying personnel and stores, or in construction of rafts and light bridges. The superstructure for these light bridges consists of standard timber members carried ready for construction. Ready made timber bridges for crossing dry gaps also are carried, and some engineer units carry a light box girder and ponton equipment known as bridging equipment "D". In the third stage of a river crossing, when the bridge is required for normal traffic of approximately 24 tons, bridges from the divisional bridging column are used. Of these, there are two types: bridging equipment "B", a ponton trestle bridge; and bridging equipment "K", a box girder bridge supported on pontons and trestles. A third type, bridging equipment "J", designed to accommodate the heavier German tanks, replaces the "K" equipment in armored divisions.
(3) Heavy bridges. Heavier semi-permanent bridges includes the L.Z. bridge, a sectionalized, through-girder type which is launched from a roller bed; the Herbert, with a girder superstructure supported on large sectionalized pontons, and the "S" equipment, used for heavy traffic over wide rivers and consisting of a double-way super-structure on sectionalized pontons similar to those of the Herbert. Railway bridges are represented by the Roth-Wagner, Krupp, and Ungaw bridges.
b. BOATS USED IN RAFTING AND BRIDGING.
(1) Small pneumatic boat.
(2) Pneumatic boat assault bridge. This bridge can be built in any lengths
in a current up to
Weight of superstructure—12.8 pounds per foot.
Total weight of bridge—23.7 pounds per foot.
(3) Medium pneumatic boat. (a) Description. These pneumatic boats
can be used as supports for the standard German
(4) Motor boat. (a) Description. This craft is used primarily for pushing and towing rafts and bridge sections in bridging operations. It also can be used for river reconnaissance and barge towing. It is transported on a special two-wheel trailer, which is provided with gear so the boat can be launched and recovered direct from the trailer. The motor boat is a broad-beamed craft constructed of steel plates with copper-nickel rivets.
(c) Engine. The boat is driven by a six-cylinder, Maybach-type, S5, water-cooled, gasoline engine.
(d) Trailer. The two-wheel trailer includes chassis, extensible tipping slipway, traveling cradles, winch, and hoisting cable. It has the following characteristics:
(5) Storm boat. (a) Description. This boat, when in operation, is carried and launched by eight men, while four men are required to carry and install the motor. The boat is steered by pivoting the motor on the bracket which attaches it to the stern. The helmsman stands in the stern gripping two handles at the front of the motor.
(c) Engine. This is a "mechanical oar" propulsion unit: a propeller attached to a long shaft running through a casing bolted to the engine. The propeller revolves several feet behind the boat.
(6) Large pneumatic boat. This is the largest of the three standard pneumatic boats and is generally used singly.
c. PONTON AND TRESTLE BRIDGES. (1) Training ponton
bridge. (a) Description. There is little evidence of this equipment being used
operationally; it is thought to be kept for training. There are two types of light ponton
and trestle bridges: one with half pontons having a load capacity of 4 tons, and the other
with double-ponton piers having a load capacity of
(2) Ponton and trestle bridge (Czech). This equipment consists of steel half pontons and center sections. Two types of bridges are built.
(a) Roadways built on piers of one half ponton and one center section, with a capacity of 8.2 tons and the following characteristics.
(b) Roadway built on piers of two half pontons and one center section, with a capacity 16.5 tons and the following characteristics:
(3) Light ponton and trestle equipment (Brückengerät C). The three following types of bridges can be built with this equipment.
(4) Medium ponton and trestle equipment (Brückengerät T).
(5) Heavy ponton and trestle equipment (Brückengerät B). This is the standard combat equipment of the German Army.
(6) Light timber bridges on fixed supports. (a) Folding single
span foot bridges. This equipment is made up of two single members, hinged
together, and consisting each of two
(b) Light tracked bridge. This is a light tracked timber bridge, constructed in two load ratings: 6 tons and 9.5 tons. It generally is supported by simple framed trestles, but if floating supports are needed the large pneumatic boat is used. The following tables give the cross sections of the roadbearers for varying spans and loads:
(7) 27-Ton heavy tracked bridge. (a) Description. This bridge is a variation of the light tracked bridge, with a capacity of 27 tons, it consists of two bays and a span of 29 feet 6 inches. A single bent framed trestle is used as a central support.
d. FIXED BRIDGEs. (1) Small box girder (Brückengerät K). This equipment is capable of carrying heavy vehicles and light tanks over short gaps. It is essentially an assault bridge and can span gaps of 31 feet 6 inches, 47 feet 3 inches, or 63 feet with box girders alone. The bridge always is built with three girders and has a carrying capacity of 27 tons. Trestles and pontons are supplied to span wet or dry gaps with a series of bridges.
(2) Light sectional bridge (Leichte Z Brücke). This is a through bridge with a timber roadway, approximately 12 feet wide, slung between two main girders of braced steel panels 8 feet 2 inches long and 7 feet 10 inches high. The normal bridge cannot span a gap greater than 147 feet 6 inches, and is rated over this and all lesser spans at 33 tons for tanks. With special underslung bracing the span may be increased to 172 feet without altering its rating.
(3) Herbert Bridge. This bridge is sometimes called the "Italian Meccano
Bridge". It is through-girder type with a 10-foot clear roadway. Each girder is
constructed of steel lattice pyramids, made of angle iron and channel struts. The
decking is of
c. HEAVY BRIDGING EQUIPMENT. J 42 and J 43 Bridging Equipment (Brückengerät J 42 and J 43). The J 42 equipment consists of steel box-girder sections, of which any number up to four can be bolted together to form a maximum span of 64 feet. Each section is about 16 feet 6 inches long. A decking of stout chesses is laid on these main bearers and held down by two similar box girders used as vibrants. The girders are launched over rollers. Trestles and four-section pontons are used as supports. The single track width of the bridge is believed to be 13 feet 9 inches, but it also can be constructed in double track width. The J 43 bridge is a strengthened version of the J 42.
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