Tank turrets as Bunkers – Wargaming fantasy?

Hello everyone,

recently, it was announced – or rather leaked – that the Stronkhold mode will – with one of its iterations – bring defensive turrets, controlled by bots. These turrets are made of tank turrets on concrete rectangle and look something like this:


Some players started claiming that such a setup is nonsense, because it’s Wargaming fantasy. Well, is it?

No, it is not. Using tank turrets as fixed emplacements is nothing new – it was actively done in the war and after the war with various turrets. The Germans actually used this kind of setup heavily, turning obsolete tank turrets into defensive emplacements. Such a setup in German was called “Turmstellung” was used for example in Scandinavia, but also in France, when the Atlantic Wall was being fortified. One of the earliest examples is the Panzer II Turmstellung:



These setups sometimes used the original tank armament, sometimes they did not, some of the Panzer II turrets were for example converted to use flamethrowers. Same thing happened to the obsolete Panzer 38t turrets. These were no ad-hoc buildings by the way, the use of turrets in this way was actually planned, along with their specific concrete foundations. Here, you can see a setup of the 38t turret foundations.


These 38t turret setups were used in Norway, in France (the Atlantic Wall), in Greece, but also later on river Odra during the final days of the Third Reich. Their remnants can occasionally be found in the countryside.


As funny or strange as these bunkers look, they were actually quite effective. The turret provided only a small target, it could turn around and was difficult to knock out – and even if you did damage it, it did usually not kill the soldiers inside the bunker, unless the turret was obliterated by an artillery shot or engineers, so you still had the bunker itself to deal with. Of course, not only obsolete turrets were eventually planned for fixed positions. Turrets of knocked out heavier tanks were used as well. Here for example a Panther turret fixed installation in Berlin, 1945:


Some suggested that Wargaming is making stuff up with that E-100 turret emplacement shown above – after all, E-100 turret as a bunker? That has to be a nonsense, right?

It is not actually, although it was the Maus turret, that was planned this way.


On the conference with Albert Speer and Hitler in late September/early October 1943, it was proposed that modified Maus turrets were to be used as fortification turrets, since the original fortress turret variants were extremely steel requiring. In November 1943, Krupp prepared the plan above for a fixed Maus turret installation, but nothing ever came of it.

The praxis of using obsolete tank turrets continued well after the war. Some regions of Europe were practically infested with them. One of the best known cases is the Bulgaria-Turkey border, where many armored vehicles were dug in this way.


These fortifications “survived” (of course in disrepair) practically to this day, some of the dug in tanks were recovered (mostly German stuff – a StuG, a Panzer IV). The last active use of tank turrets as fortifications took probably place in Golan Heights during the 1973 war, when Syrian forces employed obsolete tanks (even Panzer IV’s) as fixed fortifications. These did actually fire apparently and some were knocked out by the Israeli forces.

47 thoughts on “Tank turrets as Bunkers – Wargaming fantasy?

  1. Very cool photos! I also heard IS3 were “dug in” like that on russian-chinese border?

    Anyway, I would NOT want to sit in pzIV turret in 1973 lol

  2. Very interesting. Thanks for the article.
    IS7 Turret as a Bunker in Stronkhold mode would cause some serious RNG rage because of that turret slope.

  3. Maybe we will have AVRE and SturmX vehicule with howitzer finally? That would be perfect timing for concrete fortification breach.

    Oh wait!

      • And may I know where from did you get the impression that I was implying that every Panther turret laying on the ground is a dug in whole tank? :)

        I was writing only about that one photo in the article that looks like it is a dug in hull. Nothing more…

        • Because on this photo is classical Panthertum and not turret made for tank? And it is so easy to recognize… (no commander cupola)

        • Don’t know where you got the impression that’s a dug-in tank, especially since it’s in the middle of a paved street.

          • Strangely enough you would still need to dig a hole even for a bunker…and imagine that – in a paved road, impossibru!

            And because you surely need spare track holders and an angle on a dug in concrete bunker and most importantly an “engine cover”.

            Some photos here are questionable, but here it is:

            Anyway, I might be wrong, but that doesn’t change it was possible and viable thing to do with a disabled/unfinished tank.

          • TBH for such a position a dug-in tank (quite possibly a damaged one no good for mobile duty) converted into an expedient bunker seems a *lot* more likely than a purpose-built Turmstellung – if nothing else the last I read about the latter they had fairly substantial associated underground structures, and spending that much effort on such a fairly quick-and-dirty local defense would seem a mite strange. AFAIK the “Turms” tended to be more a feature of true well-prepared fortification works.

            On a little different note, I understand a lot of trophy French tanks (R-35s in particular) ended up ‘donating’ their turrets for the Atlantic Wall. The Shermans and whatnots presumably weren’t too intimidated by the short 37mm’s but it’s probably safe to assume the disembarking infantry did not appreciate the blighters.

  4. Good info SS, thank you!
    It was mentioned that the E100 turret will have 10000 HP – I can see clans simply running our of shells trying to get those.

      • The ammorack of E-100 turret is under the bunker. There’s no ammo rack on the E-100 turret.

      • Yup. This is actually a good way to make people bring more arty and light tanks into this – put turrets -> enemy uses artillery -> use light tanks / top mediums to take out the artillery in the beginning of the battle.

  5. IS-7 / IS-4 turrets would be insanely OP…
    Also, shouldn’t such a bunker have better ROF than a regular tank? There is more room for the loader/gunner… And it can hold much more ammo….

    What are their disadvantages ?

      • Even when static it’s not the easiest thing to penetrate the turret of an IS7…How many times you shot an is7 in the turret when you had it’s hull available?…
        Perhaps shooting the concrete part of the bunker will deal damage too….This could provide some balance…

    • Ship turret is much more harder to knockout than Tank turret. Ship turret is OP

    • The Swedes apparently did something similar with the turrets of their old coastal battleships postwar – the turrets of at least one got integrated into that three-layer “mini-Maginot” they built in the north of the country to dissuade potential Soviet adventurism (very sensibly assuming us Finns would focus on defending our “core regions” in the south and not even bother contesting any thrust through the virtually uninhabited Lappland).

    • You try hitting a tank-sized target at 500m with a gun and optics system meant to engage something 10km away.

      The traverse rate could be outpaced by everything except the Maus and T-95.

      • If the target is but half a kilometer away something is horribly wrong already. Anyways, the last I read about it warship turrets had internal fire-control solely as backup – normally the data came from dedicated direction stations kitted out with much larger rangefinders and junk, via the fire direction center in the bowels of the ship where all those fancy mechanical and electromechanical ballistic computers and suchlike were.

        Counterpoint: try taking out *that* artillery position with counterbattery fire…

  6. Btw, OP turrets CAN be balanced with less HP.

    In example:

    The weakest-armored turret could have like 10.000 HP and the strongest-armored turret something like 9500 HP, just for balancing reasons. IS-7 turret IE has similar armor (in numbers) to the E-100, but the sloping is much better, making it’s effective armor much stronger. Such turrets can be balanced with less HP. The British FV 215b turret, the Chinese 113 turret and the American T110E5 turret are also cases of too well armored. The turrets could all be balanced in a range of HP between 9500 HP and 10.000 HP.

    Another case will be for a French turret, wouldn’t a turret of an AMX 50B be OP with that autoloading gun?
    Such turrets can also be balanced with less HP, even though the turrets are weakly armored, they can be imbalanced with that auto-loading gun.

    • E5 – shoot the tumor all day long, as long it cant move :) but otherwise i agree, balancing turrets with different hp pool is definitely a way to go, but i would go for like 10 000 vs 6 000 hp or so :)

  7. I live in Norway, and there are no Pz 38t turrets near here that was used that I know of . Tho instead they used Ft17 turrets to guard a small airfield near here back then. One of the turrets was removed not long ago and the rest scrapped. The one that was removed was restored and is now at one of the war museums near here. I got pics of it around here somewhere. They where painted black with the German tank insignia on it.

  8. And why not use dug-in tanks??? soviets use more this option… in war and after war using old IS-3 as bunkers in chinese frontier.

    For me the point is have a defensive work over base… even i dont see bad bot-tanks as defensive squads, they defend certain area.

  9. Years ago, 80′s? I think, a friend of mine was visiting relatives in Israel, they knew he liked tanks and asked if he wanted to see a Panzer IV that was being used as a bunker. He obviously agreed. They let him crawl around in it, sat in the gunners seat, etc. Said, would you like to shoot it? He obviously agreed even faster. After shooting it he had a thought and asked where the round went. Response? – “Oh, that’s just Syria”.

  10. Enplaced Panther Turrets were used in large numbers by the Germans in Italy in WWII.

    In the Book The Churchill by Bryan Perrett there’s an account of a number of Churchills being lost to Emplaced Panther Turrets whilst assaulting the Hilter Line in May 1944.

    There is even a photo of one of the emplaced Panther Turrets with it’s well-cleared killing ground.

  11. Among turrets used for fortifications was at last one of PzKpfw V “Panther”. It was discovered in 2001 in Szczecin, Poland (till 1945 – Stettin, Germany). It was mounted as a part of the wooden and ground bunker at a railway bridge over Oder river, and was blown up by retreating German troops.
    Now it is exposed in Świnoujście, Poland.
    Some pictures and text (in Polish):