We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…

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7½-TON PONTON BRIDGE OVER THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER near
Ft. Benning,  Ga.,  July  1939.

From the United States Army in World War II-Technical Services- Engineers- Troops and Equipment

Other than the relatively modern field piece (Craig? a 75mm?), the scene above could have been taken from Grants Army of the Potomac in 1865. The ponton bridge in use was a direct descendent of the types of assault bridges in use in the Civil War. At the time the picture was taken, this was the standard assault bridge in the Army. Great efforts were being expended to develop similar ponton bridges with capacities of up to 30 tons to support the armor the Army would use in the war. Primarily, larger pontons (the boat thingies) would be used. Later, pneumatic floats, similar to rubber rafts, would be used to float assault bridges.

Similar floating bridges would remain in use throughout World War II and well into the post-war era until the US adopted the floating ribbon bridge, itself almost a direct copy of a Soviet design.

2 thoughts on “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…”

  1. Yes, that is a M1897 75mm, but with the later pneumatic tires and what looks like the split trail – also known as the M1.

    The Army of the Potomac made several great river crossing, but few after the summer of 1864. I did a piece on military bridging from the Civil War era in reference to the Potomac River crossings in June 1863 (going to that place called Gettysburg). http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/edwards-ferry-physics-of-crossing/

    Notice in the photo that the caissons and gun teams are spaced out across the bridge. There’s a planning factor for traffic flow on those bridges. Click the link…I did the arithmetic in case you ever need to cross a pontoon bridge with a battery of 3-inch Ordnance Rifles…

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