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Col Gibbon

WWI canvas Hangar find?

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On ‎21‎/‎04‎/‎2017 at 23:44, Col Gibbon said:

better copy of the picture posted above, and look at the building in the background. Is it the same shape as the trusses?


a black and white photo of six RFC pilots with arms interlinked in front of hangars


The hangar in the background is in fact of the transportable canvas Bessonneau type with wooden trusses and of a totally different construction to hangar in question.  I'm not convinced that the Essex hangar is one that was manufactured for the use of aeroplanes - not during war-time at any rate.  The fact that the roof supports curve down almost to floor level, therefore intruding into storage space  - and at wing level - just doesn't seem right to me. 

I would of course love to be proved wrong; perhaps it did indeed come from Stow Maries.  You could always pop along there and quiz the volunteers as to whether they have any original plans of the airfield, and see if this structure can be identified.

Edited by pete-c

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The photo at Stow Maries shows a Bessonneau hangar in the background - timber framed. The roof trusses shown in the present day photographs are unlike any used in RFC/RNAS/RAF aeroplane sheds, the majority of which used timber trusses. Exceptions were the variations on the 1918 pattern brick GS shed, single examples of which were erected at Martlesham Heath and Henlow; those has steel trusses of 170ft span to support pitched roofs. The surviving 1915 pattern flight sheds at Catterick now have steel roof trusses of 65ft span, but I suspect the buildings were re-vamped during the inter-war years - all similar structures used timber.

The Type A aeroplane shed referred to by the RAFM was the 1920s type, when a new system of designations was introduced. This sort of Type A can still be seen at North Weald. The original 1915 Type A aeroplane shed was 52ft x 42ft and erected on depots in France, but only in small numbers; it was superseded by the Type B, 60 x 75ft. Both of those had steel trusses. The smallest RFC  sheds I know of in the UK were at Sedgeford, where 42 x 50ft sheds were erected as coupled units.

With regard to Burnham-on-Crouch: the 1930s aerodrome was to the south of Wick Road and had a maximum run of 570 yards. The WWI site extended to 102 acres and had maximum dimensions of 750 x 600 yards. It was to the ENE of Burnham Wick farm. Its location in RFC lists was tied to the quarter inch OS map and was given as being 'at the top of the R in Burnham'. What was probably the original RNAS site comprised a pair of fields which were amalgamated to create the landing ground (such amalgamation would have been un-necessary for farming in those pre-mechanised days). That can be easily seen by looking at the 1897 and 1924 OS 25" maps available online at www.old-maps.co.uk. It would appear that a field to the north and another to the west were added to create the final 102 acre 1918 site.

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