Military Review

Lessons of serf war

Not so long ago, TOPWAR passed a series of articles about the battle of Verdun, and before that there were also materials about the First World War of Serfdom and the guns used against the forts of that time. And here the question arises: how was the experience of the First World War analyzed in relation to the struggle against the fortresses during the interwar period? What formed the basis of the various "lines" and "theories", how best to overcome them? That is, what did they write about this in the 20s, and what information was communicated to the same general public? Let's take a look at Science and Technology Magazine No. 34 for 1929 for the year, there was an article entitled “Modern Fortresses”, which dealt with the vision of a serf war that existed at that time and which formed the basis for the creation of many fortified bands on the borders of European countries on the eve of World War II.

“The appearance of rifled artillery in the second half of the XIX century was strongly reflected in the design and construction of the fortifications. By this time, the external forms of the fortress received their final development, expressed in the fact that the stone in the parapet gave way to the earth, and the fortress wall moved, so to speak, from the fortress core protected by it - the city, railway junction or an important ferry, and broke up into a number of individual items called "forts". Forts surrounded the core of the fortress ring, the radius of which reached 6-8 km. The removal of the forts from the city was necessary to prevent the destruction of the fortifications from enemy artillery fire. For a stronger cover between the forts, the second belt of forts was sometimes advanced. The gaps between the forts of the first and second lines were left in 4-6 km, subject to the presence of cross artillery fire between the forts. It was carried out by intermediate caponiers or polukaponirami proposed by the Russian military specialist, Ing. K.I. Velichko. These gunners were in forts.

Rifled artillery is distinguished by its long-range, firing accuracy and strong shells. Therefore, the forts, which took the main blow of the enemy, and especially the solid stone buildings with very thick walls and arches sprinkled with large strata of the earth, became the main means of protection. Iron beams were used for greater strength, and concrete began to appear. Concrete reinforce the old stone walls.

The further evolution of the fortress buildings is caused by the appearance of high-explosive bombs, i.e. shells charged with a strong explosive (pyroxylin, melinite, trotyl). Possessing tremendous destructive power, they do not explode immediately when the projectile hits the target, but after the projectile uses all its penetrating power (percussion action). As a result of this property, the projectile pierces the ground covering of the fortified building and then breaks, like a mine, on the roof or close to the wall of the room, causing destruction by its high-explosive action.

Now stone, as a building material, disappears and is replaced only by the most durable materials: concrete, reinforced concrete and steel armor. The vaults and walls at the same time reach the thickness of 2-2,5 m, with additional sprinkling of ground thickness around 1 m. All the buildings try to deepen the ground as much as possible. The belt of the forts is doubled and carried forward 8-10 km. Forts are transformed into fort groups. Along with the forts, a separate defense of the gaps between the forts by field defensive structures (“redoubts”) is organized. The system of mutual flank fire from caponiers and polukaponir is especially developed. Fortresses are supplied with huge reserves and numerous artillery. For safe communication in the forts arrange concrete underground passages - "lost." Extensive mechanization is carried out: guns stand under armored domes moving through electricity, heavy shells supply and charging are also electrified, narrow-gauge railroads are carried out from the fortress core to the forts, powerful searchlights are installed, the core of the fortress is equipped with workshops where electric power is also used, etc. . etc.

The garrison of such a fortress numbers tens of thousands of soldiers in its ranks and is supplied, to a large extent, with special military-technical units: engineering, automobile, aviation, railway, armored, communications and so on. The entire command is concentrated in the hands of one person - the commandant of the fortress.

Such fortresses bar important operational directions and, at the same time, usually connect the cover of railway bridges across wide water boundaries. Hence their name - “Tet-de-pont” (the word French, literally - “head of the bridge”). If bridges are protected by a fortress from both banks, as is often the case, then this is a “double Tet de Pont”. A single Tet de Pon covers the bridge from one (located at the side of the enemy) coast.

In those cases when it is necessary to lock the passage through some narrowness (“defile”), for example, a pass in the mountains or a railroad in a swampy-lake area, they arrange a small fortress from 2-3, and sometimes one fort. But these forts receive very solid concrete, concrete-iron and armor closures, strong artillery and an adequate garrison. Such a fort or combination of forts is called the “fort-outpost”. This is the same fortress, but more modest in size, since in the direction it covers it is impossible to expect the appearance of large enemy forces with a powerful siege artillery.

On the contrary, if it is necessary to protect a large area of ​​strategic value 50-60 width and depth to 100 km with long-term fortifications, this task is carried out by combining a fortress (or fortresses) with forts- outposts by field fortifications. It turns out a fortified area for a long time. He is supplied with a garrison of such a size that would not only allow him to defend the serf positions, but also give the district commandant the opportunity to withdraw part of the troops to the field and, relying on the forces and means of the area, attack the enemy. Therefore, the garrison of the fortified area is close in size and organization to an independent army.

Before the World War we had such fortified areas (the triangle of Warsaw-Zgerj-Novogeorgievsk fortresses), the Germans on the Russian border Thorn-Kulm-Graudents and the French border Metz-Thionville and the French Verdun and fortifications of Maas heights. Now only the French create vast fortified areas in their own and Belgian territory against the Germans.

The parapet of the forts is proposed to be made from a concrete massif. On Valanga fort install heavy guns, the fort receives a system of underground (counter-mine) galleries to counteract the mine attack the enemy. Serious protection against open attack should serve as a water ditch.

The attack of such a fort, as shown by the Russian-Japanese and World Wars (Verdun, Osovets, Przemysl), will be carried out according to the Voban method by a system of trenches and connecting them, zigzag in terms of moves, messages. The first trench (first parallel) is laid at a distance 200-1000 m from the fort. The infantry is fixed here, and the artillery is trying to suppress the fire of the fort and the fort gates. When this succeeds, the sappers lay the 2 parallel (trench) meters in 400 from the fort at night. It is occupied by infantry, and the sappers, with workers from infantry, connect the two parallels with the message moves, arranged in a zigzag manner and so that every subsequent zigzag ends at the previous knee of the message, protecting it from longitudinal fire damage. With a passage of the message, the workers of the head of the knee cover themselves with a parapet of earthen bags. For the 2 th parallel, the 3 parallel is arranged in the same way, meters in 100-150 from the fort. And already from here, if the defense of the latter is not broken, it is sympathetic and energetic, they go down under the ground and go by mine galleries. The size of these galleries is 1,4 m high and 1 m wide. They dress with frames.

The defender is not limited to one fire and the reflection of the assault. Trying to wrest the initiative from the hands of the enemy, he arranges parallels ahead of his fortifications. These “counter aproshes” can greatly damage the attacker and prolong the siege. They helped the Russians in defending Sevastopol (1856 / 54) and the French in defending the Belfort in 1870 / 71.

Thus, concrete and steel are struggling with a gun and are struggling with full hope of success, as world war has shown. Of course, this is possible only under the condition that the fortifications are not completely outdated.

It should be noted, however, that they will never or almost never be completely modern, because fortresses are built slowly and are expensive (150-200 million rubles). And since military budgets are limited, every state is more willing to spend money on new artillery, on Tanks, airplanes, etc., than to replace an outdated fort with a modern one.

But it is not so scary. And the somewhat outdated fortress also keeps great defense capabilities. The case of the commandant to deploy them. " The last conclusion, as is known, through 12 years was fully confirmed only by the Brest Fortress!
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 24 March 2016 08: 01
    Here is an article from 1929 revered .. Thank you for a walk in the past ..
  2. Amurets
    Amurets 24 March 2016 08: 08
    In fact, there are several books on fortification that analyze the serf war in World War I. Do not be surprised, but these are books of the 30s of the last twentieth century. These are mainly books published by the Military Engineering Academy of the Red Army. Khmelkov, S. AND. "Struggle for Osovets", "Concrete and reinforced concrete forts." Yakovlev V.V. "History of Fortresses" and a number of his other books. In these books, a complete analysis and analysis of the stability of forts and the effect of sizes on the effectiveness of shooting, as well as the nature of the destruction of these structures, is made.
  3. Kenneth
    Kenneth 24 March 2016 08: 16
    It seems to me that building fortresses is a very good way to get rich in contracts.
    1. RustamRS
      RustamRS 24 March 2016 09: 44
      in this country . Does anyone think about business, except about the fact that someone is snatching something?
      1. Kenneth
        Kenneth 24 March 2016 12: 53
        Yeah. No wonder Nicholas 2 spoke about the fact that the fortress is made of golden bricks. I wish there was a sense. And the lazy one doesn’t really know about the theft in the construction of fortifications in the Far East before the REV. Although under the Soviet regime, it was even wiser to act by halving the budget of the Stalin line. That's already in Russian and spent the money and did not build anything worthwhile.
        1. Alexey RA
          Alexey RA 24 March 2016 15: 41
          Quote: Kenneth
          Yeah. No wonder Nicholas 2 spoke about the fact that the fortress is made of golden bricks. I wish there was a sense.

          Say thanks to the State Duma and the Minister of War. The first cut the budget in black, and the second was forced to cut a trishkin caftan from the allocated funds.

          The same defense of Port Arthur could go on much more advantageous positions if they didn’t decide to appoint a garrison of the fortress that defended the main base of the Pacific Fleet in 1 (later - 2) division in order to save budget funds. So I had to plan the lines of defense on the basis of a microscopic garrison, moving them to the base almost right next to it.

          And the most devastating blow to the fortresses and the entire defense of the Empire was dealt 5 years before the start of the WWII. Prior to this, the construction of new forts and defense units was constantly either postponed, or canceled, or adjusted in the direction of reducing defensive structures (first because of the need for Port Arthur equipment, then because of the revolution and lack of money in the treasury). But the construction was still underway. And in 1910 a decision was made to abolish the Warsaw UR and destroy the Warsaw forts. The reason for this ambiguous decision was that, due to the poor development of the road network, the Russian army did not manage to mobilize settlement and concentrate in the UR before the Germans came to it - and there was a great danger of seizing the UR at the very beginning of the war. Alas, no money was allocated for the expansion of the railway network - and from Warsaw UR, the creation of which took tens of years and many millions, there was only one fortress Novogeorgievsk. It’s good that the army didn’t have the money to blow up all the forts and fortifications, so some of the fortifications survived the war (the same fortress Ivangorod).
          Quote: Kenneth
          Although under the Soviet regime, it was even wiser to act by halving the budget of the Stalin line. That's already in Russian and spent the money and did not build anything worthwhile.

          Duc ... The Stalin line was built against a completely different enemy. She was supposed to cover the USSR from the armies of Poland and Romania (which even in the mid-30s surpassed the Red Army). In principle, this line fulfilled its task - there were no regular campaigns to Kiev and Minsk, despite the weakness of the Red Army (25 divisions from Vladivostok to Leningrad).
          And, judging by the results of the assault by the Finns of KaUR, against the armies of the early to mid-30s, the Stalin Line was quite effective.
          And against the armies of the late 30s it was easier to build new SDs. than remodel old ones. Because the defense had to be built according to completely different principles outlined in the 1938 UR System: flank and cross-aim fire as the basis of defense, all-round defense of the UR as a whole and individual defense units, rear positions, depth up to 10 km, saturation of DOS defense units with artillery and anti-tank vehicles, etc.
          1. Cap.Morgan
            Cap.Morgan 24 March 2016 16: 27
            I do not know.
            Fortresses were no longer needed in World War I, with the advent of large calibers, and with the development of bomber aircraft - generally meaningless construction.
            1. Alexey RA
              Alexey RA 24 March 2016 18: 25
              Quote: Cap.Morgan
              I do not know.
              Fortresses were no longer needed in World War I, with the advent of large calibers, and with the development of bomber aircraft - generally meaningless construction.

              So near Warsaw was not an isolated fortress, which really lost its meaning by the time of Franco-Prussian.
              Near Warsaw, a full-fledged fortified area was slowly created, in which fortresses, forts-outposts and individual forts were included in the general line of defense.

              Moreover, according to the plan, this area was supposed to be closed from the rear, and on the flanks - to join with the common line of defense, leaning on other fortresses (from the north - Osovets, Grodno and Kovno, from the south - Ivangorod and Dubno, from the rear a large line of defense was to close the first-class fortress Brest with its outer belt under construction from the latest forts).
              And as a result of the refusal to expand the transport network, UR was abolished and fell into separate isolated fortresses (also unfinished ones), which were knocked out separately.
      2. The comment was deleted.
  4. Gorinich
    Gorinich 24 March 2016 09: 16
    In today's conditions, any city of modern development is a fortified area (at minimal cost). And the methods of struggle described at the beginning of the century are still used in Syria in battles in urban conditions. Everything new is well forgotten old :)
    1. Amurets
      Amurets 24 March 2016 09: 39
      Quote: Gorinich
      In today's conditions, any city of modern development is a fortified area (at minimal cost).

      Yes! I agree! And if you still use the weapon that Bongo wrote about in the third part about anti-tank grenade launchers, then it’s really so. The experience of the Chechen war confirms when they stormed Grozny. And about the experience of the Second World War, the books, though not all are true, bloody battles are well described. for Koenigsberg, Budapest and other cities. Berlin was the hardest hit.
    2. Pig
      Pig 24 March 2016 10: 03
      in Soviet times, in general, large objects (factories, airports, etc.) were built so that if something happened they would quickly turn them into a single defense system;)
    3. Kenneth
      Kenneth 24 March 2016 13: 05
      Just today, cities with wide streets and avenues are less adapted to defense than old cities. For example, I propose to compare the center of St. Petersburg with the outskirts
    4. The comment was deleted.
  5. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 24 March 2016 11: 14
    informative! Thanks for the article ..... although the legends of antiquity are interesting, but in general Engineering defense is a strong thing.
  6. AK64
    AK64 24 March 2016 22: 27
  7. Dal arya
    Dal arya 24 March 2016 23: 10
    In the modern world, any city can become a fortress, and in fact it is. Everyone already understood that hiding behind concrete and steel is useless, razed to the ground, but hiding in a city where there are peaceful people, where there are many cultural monuments (yes I'm talking about Palmyra now ), this is much more effective. The war has become somewhat more cynical.
    1. The stranger
      The stranger 4 January 2017 00: 07
      It depends on what the goals of the war are, and what kind of bitterness. But at a very early stage, the fate of the civilian population worries only propagandists of the village flight of thought.
      But the city ruins are another fortified area. The first to prove it was the Americans, in the 44th. They were stupid enough to bomb Monte Cassino to ruins in two days, and then it was not enough for five months to knock out a German parachute (!) Division from there. They also laid down two of their own, two English, and two Polish divisions, and in the end the Germans simply ended, and the living organized left.
  8. karakuin
    karakuin 25 March 2016 04: 04
    Dear Sirs! I read your strange comments and decided to answer you. I am engaged in the Vladivostok fortress for 15 years. This is more than five hundred objects excluding earthworks on an area of ​​400 square meters. km And when smart people like you begin to chew obscene about something about which they even have no real idea, only on the basis of articles and books, it becomes ridiculous. I will say one thing. We have nowhere to retreat, there is no Moscow behind. And in the event that relations with China, for example, Ukraine, change for the worse, let them try. Royal forts, gentlemen, this is not Stalin’s line. On this nonsense about the fact that fortification in modern conditions is atavism - complete nonsense. Do not be disgraced gentlemen. And later. About theft and embezzlement. The best engineering personnel of the Admiralty arrived to build these defenses. These people understood the word HONOR in its true sense. For this reason, during the construction of fort No. 5 with the saved money, the thickness of the reinforced concrete floors of the under-chest gallery was increased from 2.5 m to 4.5 m. The recoilless mentality of the Russian officers, gentlemen, are wise guys. Therefore, the famous forts of Koenigsberg compared to the Vladivostok fortress are miserable brick sheds.