Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Military landmarks vol.1: Ouvrage Hackenberg

Subject: Ouvrage Hackenberg
Location: Ligne Maginot, France
Comments: This is a new series of posts on my blog. As modeling is all about history, i fell the need to post here some pictures of various military landmarks. I started with this particular site for no specific reason except the fact that it was well documented in pictures in a recent trip to France. The fort is quite well preserved and the tour to visit it is really nice, lasting more then two hours.
Ouvrage Hackenberg, one of the largest (a gros ouvrage) of the Maginot Line fortifications, is part of the Fortified Sector of Boulay. It is situated twenty kilometers east of Thionville, in the Moselle département, near the village of Veckring, on the Hackenberg (343 meters). It is located between gros ouvrage Billig and petit ouvrage Coucou, facing Germany. The fort occupies the wooded Hackenberg ridge. Before World War II it was considered a showpiece of French fortification technology, and was visited by British King George VI. In 1940 Hackenberg was never directly attacked, providing covering fire to neighboring positions and harassing nearby German forces. Its garrison was one of the last French units to surrender after the June 1940 armistice. In 1944, under German occupation, it was in action against American forces advancing along the Maginot Line. It resisted for three days before artillery bombardment from the rear forced the Germans to evacuate. Following World War II it became part of a strongpoint meant to delay a potential advance by Soviet forces into northeastern France. Hackenberg has been preserved and operates as a museum.The site was approved in stages by CORF (Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées), the Maginot Line's design and construction agency, between 1929 and 1932. Work by the contractor Enterprise de Travaille de Fortification began in 1929 at a cost of 172 million francs. A planned second phase was to add two 81mm mortar turrets and three more casemates on the back side of the ridge. Original plans called for a turret block with 155mm guns and another with long-range 145mm guns. More than 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) of underground galleries connect the entries to the farthest blocks 4 and 5, at an average depth of 30 metres (98 ft). An "M1" magazine, arranged with a horseshoe-shaped perimeter gallery connected by cross galleries between the legs, is located close to the ammunition entrance, while the large underground barracks and utility areas are just inside the personnel entry. The ouvrage is Y-shaped in plan, with the main gallery splitting in two almost 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) in from the ammunition entry. A 500-metre (1,600 ft) gallery runs to the principal combat blocks of the west wing, while the other passage runs another approximately 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) to the combat blocks of the east wing. The gallery system was served by a narrow-gauge (60 cm) electrified railway that continued out the ammunition entry and connected to a regional military railway system for the movement of materiel along the front a few kilometers to the rear.

Main gate to Ouvrage Hakenberg 
First fortified door with reinforced defences and a rail cart

Layout of the fort with several indicated batteries.

First of several tunnels. Not the moisture on the floor. These tunnels were very humid and cold. 

A picture showing the tunnel construction and a train cart.

There were different sizes of tunnels all around.

Entrance to an ammunition magazine. 
The ammunition magazine layout. This form was intended to protect the magazine in case of fire and make easier the transit.

A reinforced door that was blown out by the allies when they reoccupied the fort.

One of the smallest tunnels.

Cooking facilities.

Medium size tunnel. Note the supports for cables and pipes.

Electrical station

One of several original diesel generators

A gallery transformed in a weapons museum

Communication center

Medical and surgical room

Transport was provided by a rail system 

All equipment is in quite original status. Here, an elevator

Like in a battleship. ammunition is transported to the gun by a underground system

Looking through a gun breach.
Grenade launcher

Gun turrets overlooking Germany.

Fortified wall facing Germany

Well protected gun with retracting system.

Mortar and machine gun turret

Welded turrets facing Germany

Porthole with several artillery markings 

Heavily damaged reinforced wall. This place was attacked by American forces when the fort was recaptured.

Another dameged porthole

A rail wagon used to transport goods and weapons to the fort

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