Bunker optics in general

Contrary to German military culture of aggresive and forward war fighting, from the 19th century there was a big emphasis on fortifications as well. And with the rise of heavy steel industries in the Ruhr area from the mid 19th century the development of armoured parts for fortifications became a specialty. Solutions were found to do observations from within the heavily protected armoured ‘cages’ the soldiers were in. The final culmination of the development of armoured parts and fine optics were the 1930s, in which time frame fortress engineers got the opportunity to work on new a new fortress defence of Hitler’s Germany. It resulted in a series of specific bunker optics designated Panzer Fernrohre for different purposes.



Also noted as Fg.Pz.B.F. Festungs Panzerbeobachtungsfernrohr. These periscopes were used in the armoured cupolas for artillery observation in fortifications. They were placed in bunkers that were built in the perimeter of the defence. This could be either at sea- or landside. The observations were made for guiding the artillery that was placed some distance from the line of defence. These batteries had no direct view at the battlefield and depended on these firecontrols.


Or Fg.Pz.Rbl.F. Panzerrundblickfernrohr. These periscopes were used for infantry observation. They can be found in the cupolas for MG and special infantry observer turrets and mounted in the central opening in the roof. In this way the commander could oversee the environment and place his MG gunners at the proper hole.


Panzerbeobachtungswinkelfernrohr. The word “Winkel” means “angle”. These “broken” periscopes were used by observers in cupolas which had one or more side optics, both artillery and infantry observers and in gun turrets like armoured cupolas for MG.


Sehrohr. A long thin periscope which was stuck through the roof of a bunker. Some bunker types have a special room for it, but it was also placed in other types. Lesser known is that certain types of SR were used as an emergency replacement for the larger periscopes as the Pz.B.F. series.



Also noted as Fg.Pz.Z.F. Festungs Panzerzielfernrohr. These were the main aiming optics lined up with a specific fortress weapon ranging from the MG-34 in it’s bullet-shaped mounting (Kugellafette) to the 10 cm Kasematt Kanone. They could be found in armoured cupolas or behind armoured plates.


Also noted as Fg.Pz.Rbl.Z.F. Festungs Panzerrundblickzielfernrohr. These specific type of optics fills a double function both as general observation and aiming from the low level cupolas of the special German fortress automatic mortar M19 and fortress howitzer 10,5 cm leichte Turmhaubitze L/14 M100.


In this section we present the extra equipment that could be used on all sorts of optics or that was needed for mounting.


The word “Panzer” in all these designations has nothing to do with the German tank, it just means armour(ed), for the use in armoured parts in German bunkers.