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> Bucharest defence.
Wings_of_wrath
Posted: June 24, 2006 07:08 am
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C-2, I was planning my own expedition at roughly the same time*. Maybe we could join forces?

In the last few days I was investigating a number of possible targets to the North of Bucharest, and came up with a pretty accurate list of the available fortifications and their current state-

(Starting from the railway line leading to Constanta, going north)

Fort7 -Pantelimon- the military facility around it seems to be in good shape, and the site is still guarded. Unless we can get some official documents, entry will be impossible.

6-7 Battery - It's in the middle of a dense patch of vegetation. Although there are some signs of habitation nearby (recently built houses to the north) I haven't seen any fences or guards, so I'd nominate this as one of the "must see" sites.

Fort 6 - Afumati - Although there seems to be some human activity concentrated along the ring road, just in front of the fort, the fortification itself seeems to be deserted and readily acesible. It is sorrounded by a chainlink fence, but much of that is in desrepair.
If anything, we can ask the people there to allow us to see the fort. Otherwise, e just go in unopposed, from the other side.

5-6 Battery- Like it's mentioned elswhere on this thread, there is a modern construction on top the 5-6 Battery. My guess as an aspiring architect is that they turned the fort into a warehouse, but one thing is clear. After it's transformation, the structure was stripped of much of it's historical value, so visiting it might be a waste of time, even if they allow us to get in.

Fort 5 -Stefanesti- The Aquatic fort is probably one of the prime targets, since it's one of a kind, yet I was unable to learn much about it's current state. It lies surrounded by vegetation, but it's enclosed in a fence. The whole site looks like an operational military unit, yet the guard towers are deserted. Maybe we should just go there and ask permission to go in? From the look of it, they aren't using the fort, just some of the ground in front of it.

4-5 Battery. As far as I can tell, this site is completely deserted. Some of the battery's wall is visible from the ring road, and there are no fences or guards barring the acess. I'd say this is another definite target.

Fort 4- Tunari- There is civilian activity going on on the site, so I'm pretty sure the guard is light, but it's better to ask permission first instead of breaking and entering.

3-4- Battery- Clearly the most controversial of all. Despite the owerwhelming density of "Private Property, Do not Enter" signs, there is absolutely no guard, so acess is readily available. Maybe the placcards are there to deterr people from entering the fort and getting injured? Somehow, I doubt it. Also, there are strong signs of innundation near the battery's wall, so I'd reckon the inside is flooded right now. Lower levels might be totally unaccesible.

Fort 3- Otopeni- As far as I know, this site is active as the home of the 48th Transmission Group commanded by Colonel Ceraceanu, so I'd rather wait and ask his permission instead of sneaking in... Not to mention the fact that a guided tour from somebody with an interest and knowledge in the buildings is clearly an advantage.

2-3 Battery. This building was demolished in the 1930's and nothing remains.

Fort 2 Mogosoaia - Also a bit of a mistery. I got a good look from two sides at the site (from the ring road and from a train that was inching it's way into Bucharest at a hairrasing 20km/h around the outside of the fort) and the fortification does not apear to be guarded, despite the existence of some old rusted guard towers. However, there are signs of recent acctivity in the vicinity, but I think those might be from nearby houses, and be unrelated to the fort. This is also one of the "must see" sites.

1-2 Battery. No point in wasting any time with it, since public acess will be permitted on September 2 during the reenactment.

Fort 1 -Chitila- I never seen this site, so I must rely on second-hand information from a friend that went there recently. It appears the site has a fence around it but it's in a state of disrepair, so acess is not hard. Also, there are no sign of guards, although human activity is present.

This concludes my samall asessment, and I would like to point out that, judging by the sattelite imagery, there might be more suitable targets to the south-east of Bucharest, since the fortifications there seem incased in a lot more vegetation then those on the north side, and also there is less evidence of buildings on the sites.

Another thing would be to backtrack on an earlier affirmation I made about the Catelu fort. At the time I assumed it to be in place despite reading about it's distruction in Colonel Vasiliu's book, but now I realise I was looking in the wrong place, and the ruins I was seeing belong to the 7-8 Battery instead.

*I'll be leaving Bucharest for Sibiu on the 9th, so anything we attempt should happen in the short 4 day period between the two dates. Hope the weather holds.

This post has been edited by Wings_of_wrath on June 24, 2006 07:15 am
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C-2
Posted: June 24, 2006 09:32 am
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You are welcome to join.
From what I heard ,the underground galeries are filled with water.
It is possible that it has been made by porpossed in order "to put them on the market".
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Wings_of_wrath
Posted: June 25, 2006 09:06 am
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Things have started to pick up again on the forts - I've spent a lot of time searching in vain for a book called "Istoricul lucrarilor de fortificatie a cetatii Bucuresti" (The history of fortification works on the Bucharest fortress) published in 1900, and now not only I found out the MMN has a copy, but they've also agreed to let me make some copies... And not to confuse you, but this is the definitive work relating to the forts. It has all the information one would ever need (from lists detailing each individual weapon purchase to relatively useless items like cost estimates for brickwork in a particular month) and not only that, but it comes with a detailed map of the whole fortification ring, as well as copies of some of the original architectural blueprints for each type of fort. (the same Vasiliu used in his book, only far, far, larger and a lot more detailed)

C-2, Thank you.
That was indeed my impression when I visited the site, that most of the fort is flooded.
I would suggest we keep other possible targets as "backup plans" in case the 3-4 Battery is unaccesible, namely the 6-7 and 4-5 Batteries and the Stefanesti or the Afumati Forts. Other suitable (and suitably unguarded) sites are the Leurdeni and Popesti Forts and the 10-11 Battery (the last one is possibly the best of them all, since it's totally deserted) on the eastern side and the Bragadiru and Chiajna forts as well as the 17-18 battery on the south-western side of Bucharest. Also possibly the 13-14 battery, since in the satellite photos the site apears to be overgrown with vegetation, thus devoid of any human activity.

I don't know about the signs. Maybe somebody allready purchased it like they did with the 5-6 Battery but they don't have enough money to do antyhing with it at this time?

By the way, we should also stay in touch by phone, in order to smooth up the details of the "expedition". Pease check your PM, I've sent you my number.

This post has been edited by Wings_of_wrath on June 25, 2006 09:08 am
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valicaddy
Posted: July 02, 2006 02:55 pm
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1 hour ago 3-4 battery was FULL with water, probably it still is.. :lol: you can see the upper level, (I hope)
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Wings_of_wrath
Posted: July 02, 2006 04:34 pm
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Alas, I was suspecting that following yesterday's storm... I guess that must be also true for the 1-2 battery we are supposed to be visiting on Saturday. Let's hope, it will be EXREMELY hot until then so that at least some of the water can evaporate.
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Dan Po
Posted: July 06, 2006 10:16 pm
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" The 'Waffenfabrik der Skodawerke AG' received the contract for the first batch of guns for the 'improved TEGETTHOFFs' 24 July 1914: 10 guns plus one spare barrel for the first unit. 22 November 1914 a 35 cm trials barrel was tested at the Skoda gunnery proving ground at Bolewetz. [...] 30 May 1916 gun No 1 returned to Skoda to be changed against gun No 2, but this never happened because No 2 had been sent to the Bulgarian front. It's goal was to destroy Romanian fortifications on the Danube when Marshal Mackensen's Army crossed that river attempting to encircle the retreating and defeated Romanian army near Bucharest. So on 23 and 24 November 1916 gun No 2 was in action near Svistov, but only a few rounds were fired."

fr more informations and to see the context, check here

Probably this gun was send here to fire against bucharest's fortifications ...
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Wings_of_wrath
Posted: July 06, 2006 11:29 pm
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Thanks to Mr. Ichim from the MMN, I got to make copies of very interesting report titled "Raport Asupra Lucrarilor de Fortificatie a Cetatei Bucuresci" (Report on the Fortification Work of the Bucharest Stronghold) dating from 1900. It is written on a typewriter and the pages were torn using a ruler rather than cut... Most of the titles are handwrittren, and the first page bears the stamp "Foarte Confidential" ("Very Confidential"- Top secret) as well as "exemplarul 3/5" (copy 3 out of 5)
Anyway, aside from the very interesting plans (including a fold-out color map of the entire ring of fortreses) I stumbled upon a list detailing the state of armament for each of the forts, and it paints a grim picture of the readiness of the Bucharest "Stronghold":

(IMG:http://www.geocities.com/~brialmont/gun2.jpg)

15cm guns (M 1891 St.Chamond, M 1891 Montlucon, M1891 Creusot, in single or twin mounts):
In place: 88 Missing: 4

(IMG:http://www.geocities.com/~brialmont/gun1.jpg)

21cm howitzers (M. 1888 Gruson, M. 1891 Montlucon- am unsure of the actual destination of these guns- despite the fact they are consistently reffered to as "obusiere" [howitzers] in belgian forts they are called mortars)
In place: 36 Missing: 32

(IMG:http://www.geocities.com/~brialmont/gun3.jpg)

57mm retractible cuppolas M. 1891
In place: 126 Missing: 3

Flanking guns (various types, mainly 53mm quick-firing)
In place:114 Missing: 250

Total:
In place: 256 Misssing:295

A further handwritten note dated "May 12 1916" confirms that no furter weapon purchases took place from the moment the list was drawn up to the disarming of the forts....

So besides being totally outdated by the advances in the field of artillery (in 1896 the advent of astralite and later cordite as a propellant more than doubled the range and the introduction of melinite as a high explosive tripled the power of the shells) the "mighty stronghold" was lacking more than 60% it's weapons!
Seen this light, the decision to disarm the fortress and redeploy the guns as field artillery is self-evident, despite the cries of "treason!" in Colonel Vasiliu's book.

That, in turn, brings up the question- why is there no mention of the poor state of the forts in mr. Vasiliu's book? I'm sure he read it, since most of the drawings are exact copies of those present in the report, yet not only does he not take it into account, but he insists that the forts would have held the enemy for at least 12 days, giving the batred Romanian army enough time to re-group. He bases that assumption on the lenght of time the forts around Liege forts held, WITHOUT taking into account the following factors:
1) Despite being designed by the same man (Alexis Brialmont), the belgian forts were constructed after those of Bucharest, thus taking into account the aforementioned advances in artillery.
2) The belgian forts were fully armed, and yet thay fell with relative ease.
3) The disposition of weapons in the Bucharest stronghold was asymetrical. The first forts build had almost all of their armament in place (the 12-13 battery was the only one to be fully operational) but newer ones were almost unarmed. And, by a cruel twist of fate, most of the weaker forts were facing in the direction of the german advance...
4) Some of the belgian forts surrendered without fighting, because of the low morale of the defending troops. In Romania, the morale would have been equally low.
5) The german guns were heavier and had a longer range than the artillery mounted in the forts. Two belgian forts exploded after taking just a few hits each from heavy siege guns, because their munition stores were ineficiently protected. The same would have been expected with those around Bucharest.
6)The main cause of surrender for the belgian forts was poor ventilation, that caused asphyxiation with gas from explosions, gunfire and latrines. The ventilation and sanitary systems were virtually identical in the romanian strongholds.
7) Finally, I'm not at all sure how he came up with the 12 day figure in the first place, since the belgian redoubts fist came under attack on the 4th of August 1914, and thew last fortress fell on the 16th (Fort Loncin, blowing up with the loss of 350 men, that are still burried in the ruins of the fort).Granted that is a 12 day interval, but after the fall of Fort Barchon on the 8th, the germans had been able to bypass the defense line and enter the town of Liege unoposed. Although the rest of the forts held out for a few more days, they were totally isolated, and the main body of the german army had moved on on the 9th, leaving only the second echelons to continue the bombardment of the forts... Surely, the same would have happened in Romania, denying the romanian army the restbite it so desperatedly needed. On the contrary, by ignoring Bucharest as a strategic point altogheter, we were able to re-organise a line of defence further north, on the Focsani-Namoloasa-Galati Front, with the added benefit of preserving all those guns and men that would otherwise have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

EDIT: Pictures come from here

This post has been edited by Wings_of_wrath on July 07, 2006 01:02 am
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Carol I
Posted: July 07, 2006 07:18 am
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QUOTE (Dan Po @ Jul 6 2006, 11:16 PM)
It's goal was to destroy Romanian fortifications on the Danube when Marshal Mackensen's Army crossed that river..."

Probably  this gun was send here to fire against bucharest's  fortifications ...

The fragment states clearly that the gun was to be used against fortifications on the Danube when Mackensen crossed it in the end of November 1916. Were there any fortifications around Zimnicea at that time?
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dragos03
Posted: July 07, 2006 10:18 am
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I think it was used against the forts in the Turtucaia bridgehead.
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Carol I
Posted: July 07, 2006 10:54 am
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QUOTE (dragos03 @ Jul 7 2006, 11:18 AM)
I think it was used against the forts in the Turtucaia bridgehead.

It could be, but on the other hand the fragment mentions the crossing of the Danube in the end of November (Turtucaia fell almost two months earlier).
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Dan Po
Posted: July 07, 2006 03:47 pm
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I dont thing for the Turtucaia was needed 350 mm guns ;) . But for the Bucharest the aswer is afirmative.

This post has been edited by Dan Po on July 07, 2006 03:48 pm
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dragos03
Posted: July 07, 2006 07:44 pm
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I couldn't find any details about what guns were used against the Turtucaia fortress. However, the Bulgarians used 24 heavy guns and mortars of over 150mm calibre (possible the 305 mm pieces too). The concentrated fire of these guns was one of the main reasons for the fall of the fortress. What is certain is that the Bulgarians had some 350mm guns in WW1, and even some 420mm pieces.

305 mm pieces were later used by the Central Powers in Dobrogea (probably by the Germans) and fired against both land and naval targets.

Also, in 1919, the Hungarian Red Army had several 305mm guns in the Battle of Tisa. I think some of these might have been captured by the Romanian Army.
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Jeff_S
Posted: July 07, 2006 08:04 pm
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QUOTE (Wings_of_wrath @ Jul 6 2006, 06:29 PM)
21cm howitzers (M. 1888 Gruson, M. 1891 Montlucon- am unsure of the actual destination of these guns- despite the fact they are consistently reffered to as "obusiere" [howitzers] in belgian forts they are called mortars)

Are these breech-loading howitzers? The picture suggests "yes" but it's not definitive, at least not to my in-expert eye. I know there are breech-loading mortars but it's not what the term usually implies.

Very interesting work as always, Wings-of-Wrath.
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Carol I
Posted: July 08, 2006 09:37 pm
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I have found an interesting description of the WWI Romanian fortifications and artillery on a Bulgarian military history forum: see posts #64-73 in the thread on the Bulgarian artillery in WWI.
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mihnea
Posted: July 16, 2006 04:57 pm
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Bateria 1-2
(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/6066/01cs5.jpg)

(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/7752/02hp5.jpg)
The road leading to the front of the fort. This road is defended by a 57mm gun placed in the small port under the window.

(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/6619/03gn3.jpg)
The right side of the facade, notice the height of the ground, probably earth from the
shooting range trench.

(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/5470/04zl5.jpg)
The 57mm emplacement in the left tower.

(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/2848/05rn3.jpg)
The grate is not original.

(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/8430/06ut7.jpg)
I'm not tall neither on a ladder, but the ground level is about 40 cm higher than it should be.

(IMG:http://img103.imageshack.us/img103/6525/07qi3.jpg)
From the entrance, the steers lead to the top floor and the 150mm cupola that is missing.

(IMG:http://img211.imageshack.us/img211/7490/08zm1.jpg)
One of 3 close-defense slits on each side of the entrance.

(IMG:http://img211.imageshack.us/img211/9719/09qh8.jpg)
Left tunnel leading to the 57mm turret and 210mm cupola. In foreground on the right is the tunnel leading to the front 57mm turret and the underground floor.

(IMG:http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/9526/10wc2.jpg)
The right tunnel leading to the 57mm turret and 210mm cupola.
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