The development of fast-moving reliable tanks led to many ideas of how to slow or disable them.
One of those ideas was to design obstacles to immobilize tanks by lifting their treads off the ground from below. These traps were first used during World War Two, predominantly in Europe, and were called Dragon’s Teeth.
They are square pyramidal fortifications of reinforced concrete, arranged in irregular rows, and the idea was to slow down and channel tanks into killing zones where they could easily be disposed of by anti-tank weapons.
Dragon’s teeth tank traps were also known as Höcker in German (“humps” or “pimples” in English) because of the way they were shaped.
The Germans made extensive use of them, and hundreds of kilometers of dragon’s teeth and other obstacles have been constructed in the Siegfried Line and the Atlantic Wall, but these anti-tank obstacles were not developed by just one country. They were used more by some countries than others.
For example, France used large numbers of Dragon’s Teeth in the construction of the Maginot Line and many Dragon’s Teeth were deployed by the British in preparation for a German invasion.
This type of obstacle often consists of three or four (sometimes up to five) staggered rows with the distance between the teeth in each row being six to eight feet.
The rails project about four feet above ground level and are embedded in concrete. Typically, each “tooth” was 90 to 120 cm (3 to 4 ft) tall depending on the precise model.
To make things more difficult for the enemy, land mines were often laid between the individual “teeth”, and further obstacles were constructed along the lines. Behind these obstacles were pillboxes – a guard post with holes in it through which to fire weapons.
However, in combat, Dragon’s Teeth proved to be far less effective than originally expected and were easily destroyed or removed by army engineers and specialized clearance vehicles.
Still, if deployed in the right quantities, (thousands for example) they could stall enemy forces for quite some time.
Due to the huge numbers laid and their durable construction, many thousands of dragon’s teeth can still be seen today.