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Thread: Bombing Ranges

  1. #31
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    Replies to recent posts:

    Pete : The Graveny post on that forum was one I started. The air to ground round was marked on a map but little mention has been found so far. I suspect it was for 2TAF units in 1943/4.
    Eastchurch was the home of the original Armament Practice Camp (in my view) with its Leysdown range.

    Thorne83: I have little on Chetton apart from a rough location at SO649908. I had it as FTC (Flying Training Command) so thanks for the Bobbington reference.

    Geoff L: I suspect the camera obscura building was at RAF Aldergrove. I have plans of the Lough Neagh ranges for 1929 and 1948 but not, sadly for the period in question. Post war the range extended over the northen parts of Langford Lodge airfield but pre-war it was quite compact.
    The camera obscura itself came in a portable version with a special tent to keep it dark inside. The reference to film is probably incorrect as the camaera obscura was a projected image onto a large piece of paper which an airman would mark the progress of the aircraft with a pencil using a metronome to time the marks for speed calculation.
    The flash would have been a Sashalite photographic type bulb which gave a bright flash for 1/75ths of a second. With some mathematics it was possible to calculate the location of the "bomb" when it would have hit the ground - hopefully right in the middle of the camera obscura. By their nature camaera obscura could not be used for night practice.
    Hope this helps

    Peter

  2. #32
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    Crikey was it 8 years ago I started this thread? Just thought I would correct a statement I made on the camera obscura in the previous post. They were used at night and downward navigation lights were kept on so the plotter could follow the progress of the aircraft. I am not sure if this was only at permanent airfields or not as a lit target was required at the camera obscura location. Most expansion period and older airfields had camera obscura buildings or in the case of the expansion period it was generally a hole in the roof of the station armoury. For daylight use it is thought that a chequer board pattern was painted on the roof of the armoury to identify the target building and I have seen feint remains on the roof at Driffield (Google Earth older layers). For night time practice a triangular pattern of lights was laid out on the roof to aid identification. Before it was demolished the armoury at Oakington still had this on the roof (also visible on some layers in Google Earth). A number of pre-war and wartime photos show the triangle at various airfields.

    Since 2011 I have doubled the number of ranges of various types so that I now have over 600 locations listed, some used for only a short period. Some interesting information has also come to light by trawling through squadron ORBs and although the vast majority contain no information on named ranges the little I have found has been invaluable.

  3. #33
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    Hi Peter - to add to this thread (tho' you may already be aware of the sites?)

    Semi-local to me is/was the Bassingham range in Lincolnshire, located to the SW of the city of Lincoln by about 5-10 miles "ish"

    There are memorials to two crews lost whilst operating on this range; 1654 HCU Stirling LJ450 UG-F on 12/04/44 (crashed at Caythorpe Heath) and also 1660 HCU Stirling EH 977 "Z" on 05/11/44 (crashed close to the range site) In both instances they were victims of Luftwaffe Intruder's

    Further north and mentioned frequently in the 78 Sqn F540/ORB is the range at Spaldington, East Yorkshire. One reference states it was "two miles from the airfield" - roughly between Breighton and "HOSM" (Holme on Spalding Moor)

    There is recorded evidence of at least one aircraft crash here; 78 Sqn Halifax MZ810 EY-F crashed here on the night of 21-22/11/44 on return from Ops Sterkrade with the total loss of a highly experienced crew who were on the verge of completing their second tour of Ops.

    Hope this is of use?

    Tony H

  4. #34
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    Thanks Tony. I am familiar with both ranges although I haven't got much information on either. Bassingham was requisitioned in 1940 and featured a pre war type circular target at SK 94175 60327 and was controlled by Waddington for at least part of its life. It was still in use in the early fifties but was being cleared by RAF Bomb Disposal teams in 1956. It was a smaller range with a danger radius of 500 yards which expanded to 550 yards by 1945.

    Spaldington was located on the old airship station at Howden and the target was not far from where the southern large shed would have been at SE 74996 32445. The range was in use by 1942 and the target was a wartime triangular type. I have not located the quadrant shelter sites or the direction arrow. The range seemed to have stopped being used during 1945 and was due to be disposed of but it was kept "on the books" for political reasons. It was controlled by HOSM and was finally disposed of in 1951 after flooding delayed bomb clearance earlier in that year.

    I did start recording range related crashes and incidents but it proved difficult to know if the incident was related to the use of the range or merely occurred near the range.

    Some ranges were recognised jettison areas but it seems that in some cases multiple aircraft would dump their loads on these approved ranges e.g. Rushford. This must have been a headache for the controlling station's armaments officer as although they would be dropped "safe" some did explode from shock and this could then cause sympathetic detonations. The range would be closed whilst it was cleared but the next op might cause more to be dumped. I haven't come across a policy on jettisoning overland, including ranges but a lot of records refer to dumping into the sea and in some cases a recognisable target although again I haven't seen any policy on the latter.

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