Posted: 19 January 2008 23:04

I've been playing with Google Sketchup again and recreated the Z1 anti-tank scaffolding that was erected along hundreds of miles of beach in 1940-41.

Z1 was basically a standard steel tubing framework designed to impede tanks and at first glance, the idea seems to be idiotic. However, Z1 was actually deemed to be the most efficient anti-tank barrier as long as tanks could not charge it at speed.

The soft sand on a beach made it hard for a tank to gain enough momentum to break through, and Z1 was also used inland, the manuals recommending it be erected behind anti-tank ditches, again preventing it being rammed. It appears from the documents that there was also an anti-boat variant of the scaffolding.

The scaffolding was about 9-10 feet high, with about 5 feet between each vertical upright; it seems that 4 or 5 of these sections were bolted together and then carried down onto the beach and fixed to the end of the line with extra crosspieces.

Below is the 3-bay section I constructed as seen from behind (the defenders' side); the tube protruding at left would be bolted to the neighbouring section.

Z1 Scaffolding

The image below shows an extended line placed in Google Earth.

Z1 Scaffolding

It was acknowledged that Z1 used an enormous amount of steel, but I didn't really consider just how much until I constructed a section and began extending it. The image below shows a section of about 50m in length! When you consider that a double row of Z1 was erected along some stretches of the coast, you have an idea of the effort and material that went into it.

Z1 Scaffolding

My reconstruction is actually too uniform and neat because I constructed one short length and copied it numerous times to produce a long line. Photographs of Z1 being constructed show all sorts of irregularities and extra members employed to reinforce a joint or to negotiate bends in the coastline.

The images below show the Z1 from different angles.

Z1 Scaffolding

Z1 Scaffolding

Z1 Scaffolding

- Pete

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Anti-tank ditch

Ditch designed to hinder movement of tanks and AFVs. Ditches could be entirely artificial or existing ditches or natural features such as rivers, might be dredged, shaped and revetted to improve their effectiveness.


Scaffolding

Two designs of obstacle were constructed from scaffolding; Z0 anti-boat and Z1 anti-tank scaffolding. The framework was deemed the best anti-tank obstacle for beaches, providing a tank didn't have a good run up. Erected from about 1941, scaffolding was very labour-intensive and used an enormous amount of steel.



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Hibbs, Peter Getting some Zs (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216539/ Accessed: 23 September 2017

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