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Emergency Aerodromes

Discussion in 'Allied Aviation Of WWII' started by brianw, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. brianw

    brianw Member

    Sep 6, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Bridgend, Mid Glam.
    via War44
    As we all know, many aircraft returning from operations over enemy territory were damaged, either by flak, enemy fighters or even plain old mechanical failure (snafu); operational flying was a dangerous business in those days, and is still just as risky.

    Of those aircraft fortunate to make it back to “Dear Old Blighty” the next problem was where, or rather how to land, some not being able to control the direction in which they were flying to any great extent. To aid in the recovery of the aircrews, the aircraft being expendable, the Air Ministry decided to build some emergency aerodromes to a special specification.

    One of the criteria was that unlike normal aerodromes where the main runway is built taking into account the prevailing winds at that site, these emergency ‘dromes were aligned with the track of returning aircraft so that they could land “straight in” with virtually no course correction during the approach.

    The second criteria was a massive heavy-duty wartime runway, outlined in red, it was 3000 yards long and at 250 yards wide, 5 times the standard width and constructed specifically as an emergency landing area. Only 3 such aerodromes in the UK, the other two being located at Manston in Kent and Carnaby in north Yorkshire were built to this specification. A 500 yard grassed “run-off area” was provided at each end of the main runway to allow for aircraft overshooting.


    Woodbridge Emergency Aerodrome

    The current runway is visible as a standard width concrete/tarmac installation.

    Woodbridge was located in the Rendlesham forest, site of a famous UFO incident (The Rendlesham Forest Incident of 27 December 1980), over a million trees were felled to provide the necessary space.

    The runway was fitted with FIDO, the fog dispersal system that used burning petrol vapour from pipes installed either side of the runway to heat the surrounding air and therefore raise the fog to a “low cloud” level.

    Woodbridge is a “sister” site to Bentwaters, both of which were used by the USAF after the war and during the Cold War, and was reputed to have housed the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in Europe.

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