Posted: 2 December 2007 15:55

I've been playing with geometric drawings with Google Earth to produce 3D pillboxes.

I spent about 15 minutes concocting the image below, which is of five pillboxes at Cuckmere Haven.

Google Earth screenshot

A useful tool in Google Earth is to be able to draw areas such as arcs of fire onto the landscape. The two red arcs seen below are described based on the angle of the embrasures of the Vickers Gun pillboxes.

This sort of exercise is very useful in unlocking the reasons behind the siting of some defences; note how the small rectangular pillbox in the centre is sited to cover the gap in between the arcs. The Type 23 (extreme left) and Type 25 (centre foreground, meant to be circular!) are also able to cover parts of this gap; you only start to really see things like this when you look closely at the evidence before you.

Google Earth screenshot

This lead me to investigate drawing 3D structures with Google SketchUp, which is also compatible with Google Earth. I only started yesterday, but I've grasped the basics and managed to draw a scale model of a Type 22 pillbox, seen below.

It's not complete (hence the missing embrasures), but you get the idea.

3D Type 22 Pillbox

I think there is enormous potential for this technology; I told you I was going to have fun with all this!

- Pete



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A loophole or slit that permits observation and/or weapons to be fired through a wall or similar solid construction.


Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.

Type 22 pillbox

A small hexagonal pillbox for six men not commonly seen in East Sussex, though a few still survive along the Royal Military Canal stop line.

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