The Bucharest Fortress
The fortifications of
studies regarding the defence of
construction of the forts began in October 1884, and was officially finished
in 1895, but supplementary works were carried out inside and outside the
Therefore the original scheme prepared by general Brialmont was adapted and improved in order to make the forts able to stand against so powerful shells. The improvements, introduced by Brialmont himself and by Romanian specialists, were the substitution of the open emplacements initially planned for some batteries with armoured cupolas, the diminution of the number of the artillery pieces, the increase of the thickness of the domes, the replacement of the old forts in bricks with plain concrete ones. In addition for economy reasons, many annex buildings (administrative, warehouses) were supressed, and the the rooms intended for the garrison were cut down from 18 to 10.
In 1888 the
Parliament, after a heated debate, decided to reduce the expenses for the
facilitate movements and transport of ammunitions and war materiél between
forts and intermediate batteries in 1885-
The forts were situated as follows :
- on the left bank of the Dambovita river: 1 Chitila, 2 Mogosoaia, 3 Otopeni, 4 Tunari, 5 Stefanesti, 6 Afumati, 7 Pantelimon, 8 Cernica and 9 Catelu.
- on the right bank of the Dambovita river: 10 Leordeni, 11 Popesti, 12 Berceni, 13 Jilava, 14 Broscarie, 15 Magurele, 16 Bragadiru, 17 Domnesti and 18 Chiajna.
The works were of six different types, and their armament varies accordingly :
- type 1 - Chitila, Otopeni;
- type 2 - Mogosoaia, Jilava;
- type 3 - Cernica, Leordeni, Catelu, Popesti, Berceni, Broscarie, Chiajna, Magurele, Bragadiru, Pantelimon, Domnesti, Tunari;
- type 4 or wet type - Stefanesti;
- Unic type - Afumati.
The batteries also were of several types:
- type 1 - 1/2, 4/5, 5/6, 6/7, 7/8;
- type 2 - 13/14, 14/15;
- type 3 - 2/3, 8/9, 9/10, 15/16, 16/17, 17/18, 18/1;
- type 4 - 3/4;
- hybrid type - 10/11, 11/12, 12/13.
The works were
constructed to resist high explosives, and armour has been largely used. The
majority have dry ditches. Their armament consisted of 150mm guns, 210mm
howitzers and 57mm QF guns. The initial plans forecast that part of the
artillery batteries would be placed in uncovered platforms inside the
fortifications, but, after the test carried in 1885-
The first 10 armoured cupolas for 210mm howitzers were ordered in 1888 to the German firm Grusonwerk of Buckau-Magdeburg, along with an oscillating cupola for 2 – 150mm guns, ordered to the French firm St. Chamond. At the same time a contract with Krupp was signed for the weapons to arm them. In June 1890 the Defence Commission decided to purchase of two types of rotative cupolas along with disappearing turrets ans embrasure carriage for close combat and for covering intervals, ditches and entrances. On 29 July 1891 the Ministry of War signed contracts with the three different French firms Schneider (14 cupolas for two 150mm guns, 126 turrets and 398 armoured carriages for 57mm guns), St.Chamond (17 cupolas for one and 10 cupolas for two 150mm guns) and Chatillon & Commentry (26 cupolas for 210mm howitzers and 10 cupolas for two 150mm guns).
In 1891 to arm the works 26 – 210mm howitzers and 80 – 150mm guns were ordered to German firm Krupp of Essen, while 126 – 57mm, followed by 145 more in 1896, to the French firm Hotchkiss of St. Denis. The cupolas and the guns were mounted in 1893-1895, but orders of war materials were placed even after that time. For the mobile artillery of the intervals, emplacements were arranged on platforms for 60 – 105mm L/35 Krupp heavy guns, and in the depots of the II Army Corps a lot of old 78.5 Krupp guns M. 1868 were stored, and could be moved to the fortification line if necessary.
plan of general Brialmont estimated that the Bucharest Fortress needed a
garrison of 33,000 men. This task was assigned to II Army Corps, that was
quartered in the area of the capital. At first the works was manned by 1st
battalion of the Siege Regiment, that on 1 April 1893 was expanded,
becoming 2nd Fortress
regiment (renamed 1st Fortress regiment in 1913, after the
dissolution of the 1st Siege regiment on 1 April 1913) with
headquarters at fort Chitila. In
According with a Romanian document titled Raport Asupra Lucrarilor de Fortificatie a Cetatei Bucuresci (Report on the Fortification Work of the Bucharest Stronghold) dating from 1900 the total armament of the forts was :
- 210mm howitzers (Gruson M. 1888, Montluçon M. 1891) : in place 36, missing 32 (two each in forts 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 and batteries 8/9, 11/12, 14/15, 17/18);
- 150mm guns
(St.Chamond M. 1891 and M. 1890, Montluçon M. 1891, Schneider M.
- 57mm in Schneider disappearing turrets M. 1891 : in place 127, missing 5 (all the guns in forts 3, 6);
- 57mm flanking guns : in place 114, missing 250 (all the guns in 8 – 16 and two to four guns in batteries ½, 11/12, 14/15, 18/1).
Total: in place 365, missing 291.
A further handwritten note dated 12 May 1916 confirmed that no further 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 propellants more than doubled the range, and the introduction of melinite as a high explosive tripled the power of the shells) the Bukarest stronghold was lacking around 45% of its weapons.
1914, at the outbreak of the World War, the Belgian fortifications of
In 1915 guns
and howitzers were mounted on wheeled carriages made at the Army Arsenal and
the Romanian Railway Works, and used to arm the newly raised heavy artillery
regiments. Part of the equipment of the 1st Fortress Regiment was
sent to strengthen the defences of Cernavoda and Tutrakan. On 15 August 1916,