Risk Taking Gone Wrong – Tank vs Bridge Edition


Tanks are one of the most formidable forces on the battlefield. They are designed to be resistant against small arms fire, powerful anti-tank weapons and other tanks. Without specialist equipment, they are virtually unstoppable. One thing tanks are not immune to however, is mother nature. A tank may be able to shrug a hit off a high velocity anti-tank round, but if they stumble upon a river, swamp, lake or ravine they are out of luck.

Conventionally, vehicles cross these natural barriers with the use of bridges. However, bridges, especially ones built prior to WW2, weren’t expected to need to support the weight of much more than a fully laden cargo vehicle. A tank takes up slightly more space than a large truck, but can weigh up to ten times more due to the amount of armor required to stop the aforementioned threats a tank may encounter.

This large amount of weight in a relatively small area can produce disastrous consequences for tanks attempting to cross bridges designed for civilian purposes. The heavier German big cats were particularly troublesome to transport, due to their width and weight. Engineers had accounted for this, incorporating the ability to wade through rivers into their designs. This took time to prepare though, and during the chaos of war, risks are taken. Here are some examples of when those risks didn’t pay off.

This British Mark V “Flying Fox”  collapsed a canal bridge at Masnieres.  All of the crew survived. The wreckage of the tank was later used as the foundations of a new bridge erected by the Germans.
This British Mark V “Flying Fox”  collapsed a canal bridge at Masnieres.  All of the crew survived. The wreckage of the tank was later used as the foundations of a new bridge erected by the Germans.

 

M3 Lee tank falls through a bridge in Monroe, NC 1941.
M3 Lee tank falls through a bridge in Monroe, NC 1941.

 

A Tiger I from Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 506 after falling through a bridge, 1945.
A Tiger I from Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 506 after falling through a bridge, 1945.

 

Men of the 8th Eng Bn, 1st Cav Div put logs under weakened support of a bridge near Yangzi, Korea, to prevent its collapse until a tank retriever can arrive and remove the M-4 tank. 28 Jan 1951
Men of the 8th Eng Bn, 1st Cav Div put logs under weakened support of a bridge near Yangzi, Korea, to prevent its collapse until a tank retriever can arrive and remove the M-4 tank. 28 Jan 1951

 

 

Officers investigate a KV-1 that was on a bridge when it collapsed
Officers investigate a KV-1 that was on a bridge when it collapsed

 

This Panther from the 1st Panzer Division crashed through this bridge on the Eastern Front, fall 1944.
This Panther from the 1st Panzer Division crashed through this bridge on the Eastern Front, fall 1944.

 

On 23 November 1943, Tiger 133 crashed through this wooden bridge near Putoschka, killing the tank commander
On 23 November 1943, Tiger 133 crashed through this wooden bridge near Putoschka, killing the tank commander

 

This Panzer III lays where it fell, after the wooden bridge it was crossing collapsed near Dnieper, Soviet Union, August 1941.
This Panzer III lays where it fell, after the wooden bridge it was crossing collapsed near Dnieper, Soviet Union, August 1941.

 

A captured KV1 tank proved to heavy for the bridge
A captured KV1 tank proved to heavy for the bridge

 

Same tank, different angle
Same tank, different angle

 

This wooden bridge had no chance against this 70 ton Panzerjäger Tiger (P).
This wooden bridge had no chance against this 70 ton Panzerjäger Tiger (P).

 

Recovery vehicles prepare to tow a Sherman tank of the Irish Guards out of a stream where it landed after collapsing a bridge on the slip road leading to the Bremen-Hamburg autobahn, 20 April 1945.
Recovery vehicles prepare to tow a Sherman tank of the Irish Guards out of a stream where it landed after collapsing a bridge on the slip road leading to the Bremen-Hamburg autobahn, 20 April 1945.

 

German engineers build a bridge over the collapse of the Soviet tank KV-1. Initially, this tank in May 1941, was sent to Kharkov armored school,. According to the ‘Report on the motion of the material part of the 27th TP 14th TD’ July 15, 1941 ‘tank KV-M first tank battalion, going from repair in the area of ​​Vitebsk Vitebsk on the highway, the bridge collapsed.
German engineers build a bridge over the collapse of the Soviet tank KV-1. Initially, this tank in May 1941, was sent to Kharkov armored school,. According to the ‘Report on the motion of the material part of the 27th TP 14th TD’ July 15, 1941 ‘tank KV-M first tank battalion, going from repair in the area of ​​Vitebsk Vitebsk on the highway, the bridge collapsed.

Another Article From Us: Tiger I and Tiger II – The Most Feared Tanks of the War

 

M4A3E8 tank on a bridge that collapsed with weight of vehicle during operation Grosblieberstroff on the Saar. Tank is from 749th Tank Battalion. Dated February 18, 1945.
M4A3E8 tank on a bridge that collapsed with weight of vehicle during operation Grosblieberstroff on the Saar. Tank is from 749th Tank Battalion. Dated February 18, 1945.