Bunkers are hardened shelters, either buried or partially underground. They are designed specifically to protect their inhabitants from disasters and can withstand several hundred pounds per square inch (psi). This decreases the chances of the structure being damaged by bombs or other attacks. Bunkers are very strong in physical compression and are usually made of steel-reinforced concrete. Does this Spark an idea?
Bunkers were used extensively in World Wars I and II and the Cold War. In 1939, the construction of the Maginot Line Bunker was completed on the eastern French border. The Fuhrerbunker, installed between 1936 and 1945 in Berlin, Germany, was where Adolph Hitler and his wife committed suicide during World War II. During the Cold War, bunkers were constructed in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
The main function of bunkers is to protect people and goods from bombs, radiation, explosions and even severe weather. They are designed to deflect blast waves, preventing injury to people sheltering inside. Some bunkers are created as a place to perform military experiments or as storage units for radioactive and explosive items. Bunkers can house soldiers, weapons and ammunition, protecting them from counter-battery fire.
There are many different types of bunkers in use today; including trench, pillbox, artillery, industrial and personal. Trench bunkers are small structures made of concrete and partially underground. They are usually part of a larger trench system and provide enhanced shelter to soldiers against enemy fire and aerial attack. Pillbox bunkers are dug in guard posts, usually camoflauged and made of concrete. They are designed to protect against enemy fire and grenades. Artillery bunkers are some of the largest bunkers in existence. They are used to house guns and soldiers and to protect ammunition. Industrial bunkers have many uses such as mining, storage and even living quarters. They were built mainly to protect important industries from aerial attack during wars. Personal bunkers are usually built into or beneath homes. They are most commonly designed to protect against radiation.
A bunker’s door must be at least as strong as its walls. Many bunkers incorporate a trap door to minimize the cost. The door is usually constructed of steel but very thick wood is sometimes used. Bunkers often have two doors that may double as ventilation shafts. Bunkers are normally underground facilities but may only be partially underground, as in trench bunkers.
Very powerful explosives, such as air-to-surface missiles, can damage or even destroy bunkers. Although they are built to withstand extremes, they cannot protect against all explosions or attacks. Flamethrowers can also be a danger to bunkers and their inhabitants. Crews in pillbox bunkers are especially susceptible to these weapons.
In modern times, functional bunkers can still be found, although their uses have changed since the days of the World Wars. In Switzerland, many houses still have thick, concrete doors deep within the basements. They are now used as safes or storage facilities more than the protective shelters they once were. In Israel, all buildings are required by the state to have bunkers or bomb shelters that meet strict safety requirements. In the United States, personal bunkers are becoming more popular as the fear of terrorism increases. Abandoned and unused bunkers are prevalent in Europe where wars once ravaged the land. Many of these bunkers are open to the public to be toured. However, some secret bunkers are still being discovered today. Many are unfit for human habitation.