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For other uses, see Blockhouse (disambiguation). Blockhouse_sentence_0

A blockhouse in military science is a small fortification, usually consisting of one or more rooms with loopholes, allowing its defenders to fire in various directions. Blockhouse_sentence_1

It usually refers to an isolated fort in the form of a single building, serving as a defensive strong point against any enemy that does not possess siege equipment or, in modern times, artillery, air force and cruise missiles. Blockhouse_sentence_2

A fortification intended to resist these weapons is more likely to qualify as a fortress or a redoubt, or in modern times, be an underground bunker. Blockhouse_sentence_3

However, a blockhouse may also refer to a room within a larger fortification, usually a battery or redoubt. Blockhouse_sentence_4

Etymology Blockhouse_section_0

The term is of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Middle Dutch and 18th-century French (blockade). Blockhouse_sentence_5

In ancient Greece Blockhouse_section_1

Blockhouses existed in ancient Greece, for example the one near Mycenae. Blockhouse_sentence_6

Early blockhouses in England Blockhouse_section_2

Early blockhouses were designed solely to protect a particular area by the use of artillery, and they had accommodation only for the short-term use of the garrison. Blockhouse_sentence_7

The first known example is the Cow Tower, Norwich, built in 1398, which was of brick and had three storeys with the upper storeys pierced for six guns each. Blockhouse_sentence_8

The major period of construction was in the maritime defence programmes of Henry VIII between 1539 and 1545. Blockhouse_sentence_9

They were built to protect important maritime approaches such as the Thames Estuary, the Solent, and Plymouth. Blockhouse_sentence_10

Often sited in pairs, the blockhouses were not built to a common design, but usually consisted of a stone tower and bastion or gun platform, which could be semi-circular, rectangular or irregular in shape. Blockhouse_sentence_11

The last blockhouse of this type was Cromwell's Castle, built in Scilly in 1651. Blockhouse_sentence_12

Coastal fortifications in Malta Blockhouse_section_3

Blockhouses were an ubiquitous feature in Malta's coastal fortifications built in the 18th century by the Order of St. John. Blockhouse_sentence_13

Between 1714 and 1716, dozens of batteries and redoubts were built around the coasts of the Maltese Islands, while a few others were built in the subsequent decades. Blockhouse_sentence_14

Almost every battery and redoubt had a blockhouse, which served as gun crew accommodation and a place to store munitions. Blockhouse_sentence_15

Many of the batteries consisted of a semi-circular or polygonal gun platform, with one or two blockhouses at the rear. Blockhouse_sentence_16

The blockhouses usually had musketry loopholes, and in some cases were linked together by redans. Blockhouse_sentence_17

Surviving batteries include Mistra Battery and Ferretti Battery, which both have two blockhouses, and Saint Mary's Battery and Saint Anthony's Battery, which have a single blockhouse. Blockhouse_sentence_18

Many of the redoubts consisted of a pentagonal platform with a rectangular blockhouse at the rear, although a few had semi-circular or rectangular platforms. Blockhouse_sentence_19

Surviving redoubts with blockhouses include Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq Redoubt and Briconet Redoubt, both of which have a pentagonal plan. Blockhouse_sentence_20

A few of the redoubts consisted of a single tower-like blockhouse without a platform, and were known as tour-reduits. Blockhouse_sentence_21

Of the four tour-reduits that were built, only the Vendôme Tower survives today. Blockhouse_sentence_22

Age of exploration Blockhouse_section_4

Originally blockhouses were often constructed as part of a large plan, to "block" access to vital points in the scheme. Blockhouse_sentence_23

But from the Age of Exploration to the nineteenth century standard patterns of blockhouses were constructed for defence in frontier areas, particularly South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Blockhouse_sentence_24

Blockhouses may be made of masonry where available, but were commonly made from very heavy timbers, sometimes even logs arranged in the manner of a log cabin. Blockhouse_sentence_25

They were usually two or even three floors, with all storeys being provided with embrasures or loopholes, and the uppermost storey would be roofed. Blockhouse_sentence_26

If the structure was of timber, usually the upper storey would project outward from the lower so the upper storey defenders could fire on enemies attacking the lower storey, or perhaps pour water on any fires. Blockhouse_sentence_27

When the structure had only one storey, its loopholes were often placed close to the ceiling, with a bench lining the walls inside for defenders to stand on, so that attackers could not easily reach the loopholes. Blockhouse_sentence_28

Blockhouses were normally entered via a sturdy, barred door at ground level. Blockhouse_sentence_29

Most blockhouses were roughly square in plan, but some of the more elaborate ones were hexagonal or octagonal, to provide better all-around fire. Blockhouse_sentence_30

In some cases, blockhouses became the basis for complete forts, by building a palisade with the blockhouse at one corner, and possibly a second tower at the opposite corner. Blockhouse_sentence_31

Many historical stone blockhouses have survived, and a few timber ones have been restored at historical sites. Blockhouse_sentence_32

In New Zealand, the Cameron Blockhouse, near Whanganui, is one of the few blockhouses to survive from the New Zealand Wars. Blockhouse_sentence_33

Second Boer War Blockhouse_section_5

See also: British response to Guerrilla warfare during the Second Boer War Blockhouse_sentence_34

During the Second Boer War the British forces built a large number of fortifications in South Africa. Blockhouse_sentence_35

Around 441 were solid masonry blockhouses, many of which stand today. Blockhouse_sentence_36

Different designs were used in the construction of these blockhouses, but most were either two or three story structures built using locally quarried stone. Blockhouse_sentence_37

However the vast scale of British strategy led the British to develop cheaper, double-skinned corrugated iron structures. Blockhouse_sentence_38

These could be prefabricated, delivered to site by armoured train, and then have locally sourced rocks or rubble packed inside the double skin to provide improved protection. Blockhouse_sentence_39

A circular design developed by Major Rice in February 1901 had good all round visibility, and the lack of corners did away with the need for a substructure. Blockhouse_sentence_40

Failure due to wood rot and splintering when hit by bullets or shrapnel were eliminated. Blockhouse_sentence_41

The steel door to the blockhouse was sheltered by another piece of corrugated iron. Blockhouse_sentence_42

The Major Rice blockhouse could be erected in six hours by six trained men. Blockhouse_sentence_43

With the change from square gabled roofs to a circular design, they were given the nickname "Pepperpot blockhouse". Blockhouse_sentence_44

With mass production the cost to build a blockhouse dropped down to £16, compared to several hundred pounds for masonry ones. Blockhouse_sentence_45

These blockhouses played a vital role in the protection of the railway lines and bridges that were key to the British military supply lines. Blockhouse_sentence_46

Concrete blockhouses Blockhouse_section_6

During World War I and World War II, many types of blockhouses were built, when time allowed usually constructed of reinforced concrete. Blockhouse_sentence_47

The major difference between a modern blockhouse and a bunker is that a bunker is constructed mostly below ground level while a blockhouse is constructed mostly above ground level. Blockhouse_sentence_48

Some blockhouses like those constructed in England in 1940 were built in anticipation of a German invasion, they were often hexagonal in shape and were called "pillboxes". Blockhouse_sentence_49

About 28,000 pillboxes and other hardened field fortifications were constructed of which about 6,500 still survive. Blockhouse_sentence_50

In London the Admiralty Citadel is one of the sturdiest above-ground structures built during World War II. Blockhouse_sentence_51

It was constructed in 1940–1941 as a bomb-proof operations centre for the Admiralty, with foundations nine metres deep and a concrete roof six metres thick. Blockhouse_sentence_52

It too was intended to serve as a strongpoint in defending against the feared invasion. Blockhouse_sentence_53

In Berlin and other cities during World War II some massive blockhouses were built as air-raid shelters and anti-aircraft artillery platforms. Blockhouse_sentence_54

They were called Hochbunker (literally, "high bunkers"; better translated as "above ground bunkers", to distinguish them from the usual deep i.e. underground air raid shelters) and those that functioned as anti-aircraft artillery platforms were also called Flak towers. Blockhouse_sentence_55

Some were over six stories high; several survive to this day because of the high cost of demolition. Blockhouse_sentence_56

The Hochbunker Pallasstraße [] in Berlin-Schöneberg has a post-war block of flats built over it. Blockhouse_sentence_57

During the Cold War the shelter was in use as a NATO foodstore. Blockhouse_sentence_58

In the Guerrilla phase of the Irish Civil War (1922–1923), a network of blockhouses was constructed to protect the railways from guerrilla attacks. Blockhouse_sentence_59

See also Blockhouse_section_7


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