218 : Pontoon Bridge over the Danube

The French requisitioned rowing boats and military bateaux they found at Vienna to use as transports and for building pontoon bridges across the Danube. The Austrian pontoons were punt-like, flat-bottomed and square at both ends.My Essling project included designing a bridge of boats to span the Stadtler Arm of the Danube. I took a short diversion from modelling my Essling village to have a quick shot at seeing what one might look like.

Austrian pontoon boat.

The width of the Stadtler Arm from Lobau Island over to the Mühlau salient and the Marchfeld was 150m (see Post 03 and Post 25). With my ground scale, this measured 60mm – not far off the 50mm standard width of the rivers of my terrain tiles. The French used 15 Austrian bateaux for their bridge. For my model, designing my boats to the same scale as the figures rather than the ground scale would mean only needing a couple.

Importantly, I wanted my model to be wide enough and strong enough for my 25mm-wide troop bases to be able to cross the bridge safely. I considered designing boats with cardboard detail and sloped sides but opted for a simple solid-wood design that would safely support troops passing over the bridge.

My pontoon bridge over the Stadtler Arm steadied with anchors.

To steady a bridge of boats, it really required an anchor to be attached at both ends of each boat. Anchors, however, were in short supply. The Emperor’s stepson, Eugène de Beauharnais, was given strict instructions to bring as many as he could find with him to the Danube from his campaigning in Italy and Hungary.

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