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TOPIC: Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information?

Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 28 Jun 2011 22:44 #1

  • jamesinnewcastle
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Hi All

I am still researching the Runway Lighting at Oakington in May 1941!

I have a copy of AP129 (1938 Reprint), it is full of information about runway lighting.

I have also been talking to a W/O who flew on Stirlings in 1940 but sadly not at Oakington.

The connection between the two pieces of information is that he tells of an airfield Identification searchlight that shone straight upward and flashed the Morse Lettering associated with the airfield.

In AP129 it talks of 'Aerodrome Beacons' which were portable and flashed a red neon 'characteristic' to indicates the position of the airfield. It was always positioned at the same point on the airfield.

AP129 also talks of Aerial Lighthouses These flash a white characteristic visible at up to 60 miles. These are situated in various parts of the country and they are intended as an additional aid to navigation at night.

Neither is quite a vertical searchlight though! Does anyone have any information on these lights? They are not Chance lights - these are talked about later in AP129.

Photos of the lights in operation would be great as I am fiddling about with various 3D simulations. Search 'You Tube' for chickenduckquack for all the current and latest of these - they will be going up slowly as time goes by!

If you guys can come up with the goods - I'll simulate it and you can tell me what you think!

Cheers

James

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Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 28 Jun 2011 23:44 #2

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The map cannot be displayed, you haven't specified a location yet.
Ah

By Googling around I got back to this site via Pundit Lights

www.airfieldresearchgroup.org.uk/forum/a...rk-beacon-site#45429

Looking like a searchlight pointing upwards may be a red herring!

Interested in the 'neon' though - I'd have thought that neon light was a little feeble for a powerful light. Xenon is used in strobe lights but the flash is very short and you would be hard pressed to set up dots and dashes!.

And now I need to research that just top satisfy my curiosity......

James

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Last Edit: by Carnaby. Reason: Link fixed

Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 29 Jun 2011 07:57 #3

  • Peter Kirk
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Searchlights were used on airfields but I think it was later than 1941. Can't recall the name but probably a girl's name.
There are a few people on the forum that will no doubt fill in all the gaps for you.

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Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 29 Jun 2011 08:48 #4

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That would be SANDRA a system using three searchlights in a prescribed procedure to indicate the direction of an airfield to 'lost' aircraft.

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Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 29 Jun 2011 09:21 #5

  • Carnaby
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I've never come across a searchlight that flashed the station ID vertically upwards. Although many stations adopted their own unconventional navigation and landing aids I wouldn't have thought that this was a particularly good idea.

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Plan A is always more effective when the problem you are working on understands that Plan B will involve the use of dynamite :twisted:.

Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 29 Jun 2011 13:58 #6

  • jamesinnewcastle
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Found lots of information about Neon Beacons - around since 1929 (And when it was also proposed to use tiny neon lights to make up TV pictures becasue they could flash so quickly - so many advanced ideas that were just awaiting the technology to catch up!)

But no pictures of these things in operation! Anyone know of any still around and working?

James

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Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 30 Jun 2011 11:47 #7

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As a background to my various questions on here I should explain that I'm doing some animations to try to help determine the fate of Stirling N6012 in May 1941 as he tried to land at 02:30 at Oakington and to back that up I'm looking at the likely airfield lighting in a bid to determine what the Pilot may have been seeing on his final flight.

The following preliminary animations on You Tube are part of the investigation to determine the shape and size of the flight path around the airfield - so hard to describe well on paper. The following animation shows the approach and a ‘square’ circuit around the airfield at a ‘radius’ of 3 miles. Three miles was chosen as this puts him over his crash point where it appears he was then on his final approach. There is the mysterious ‘searchlight’ and my first stab at a neon beacon (no real Morse code yet either!) The Stirling isn’t to scale, nor is the speed - you would get too bored, also it takes a while to load!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODA_TGV3Tlc

This next link shows the view from the Pilots seat on the same circuit. The animation looks dark but it has to be really. The best way to view it is to set the playback to full screen, completely darken your room and sit in the dark for a while –then play. This is an earlier animation without the search light or the beacon or landing lights. The crash site is lit by a bright light and Oakington by a bigger but dimmer light. The land you can see is a 1941 aerial photo of the actual land around Oakington.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR4YjcbpO-U&NR=1

You can see that on this flight path the Pilot would repeatedly lose sight of the runway and be flying into darkness. After a 4 to 6 hour flight and being shot at I don’t suppose he would want to fly this way, my W/O tells me that the Pilot would literally ‘circle’ and keep the strip in sight all the time. Much more sensible!

In light of the following I now suspect that he would have flown directly onto his final approach and not bothered to circle at all:

1. He would have had a TR9 radio with a radius of 50 miles in the air – he could have gotten permission to land miles before he could see the field
2. Only 3 aircraft were in the air that night from Oakington, one returned early – there was no reason to ‘stack’ the aircraft, indeed, land quickly and be safe was probably the most practical consideration
3. The second plane in the flight was about 15 minutes behind him
4. My previous concerns had been centred around his navigation to the field but the beacon would have solved all of these – indeed a witness has said ‘Oh there was always a light on’. (I now need to get more information on this ‘light’)
5. I suspect that a 3 mile ‘circuit was far too big a distance from the field

The animations are preliminary until I get the ‘facts’ right as I know them – I’ll then concentrate of the accuracy and getting a little more dramatic in the presentation.

Hopefully you will see why I would like to get some images of all the runway lighting ‘in action’ so to speak. If anyone has photos of beacons, Chance lights, goosenecks, etc from around the 1940s or even working exmples today, these would be much appreciated, even if you had seen these lights and could critique my presentation that would be great too!

Finally a gooseneck, which you may have seen before!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMUT7CWrP1I&feature=related

James

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Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 30 Jun 2011 15:24 #8

  • Carnaby
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jamesinnewcastle;78027 wrote: A...and my first stab at a neon beacon
4. My previous concerns had been centred around his navigation to the field but the beacon would have solved all of these – indeed a witness has said ‘Oh there was always a light on’. (I now need to get more information on this ‘light’)
5. I suspect that a 3 mile ‘circuit was far too big a distance from the field

Haven't seen the videos yet James, but a few things spring to mind.

Bear in mind that according to SD264, the beacon was not to be sited on the airfield in wartime (changed by 1944).

It seems to be unknown exactly what permanent lighting was availabe at Oakington in May 1941. All I know is that Mk.II lighting was 'under construction' at the end of 1942.

The radius of the Mk.1 circle was 2,000 yards. Mk.II was developed when the four-engined aircraft became the norm and had a radius of roughly 3.400 yards

There should have been a floodlight at the end of the active runway, pointing down the runway. There may have been the portable Drem Mk.1 approach floodlight (which is not mentioned in AP3236, but shown on the diagram) which would be sited about 500 yards outside the circle, pointing along the line of orbit, and towards, (but not into) the approach funnel.

Aircraft would orbit typically 3-400 yards outside the outer circle. Hence an orbit of around 2.2 miles radius would be the norm.

In the abscence of an illuminated outer circle, I guess the pilot would have to orbit using the flarepath goosenecks as an aid. I believe the runway floodlight would be switched on only when he was on finals.

Hope this helps, rather than hinders.

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Plan A is always more effective when the problem you are working on understands that Plan B will involve the use of dynamite :twisted:.

Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 30 Jun 2011 18:11 #9

  • Paul Francis
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Oakington did have an illuminated outer circle, we have a drawing of it BUT dont ask me to locate it as its buried and its a days work to find it and copy it!!

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Aerodrome Beacons - Any Pictures? Any Information? 30 Jun 2011 21:45 #10

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norwichpaul;78048 wrote: Oakington did have an illuminated outer circle...

My guess is that it would be the Mk.II version.
Back to my 'All I know is that Mk.II lighting was 'under construction' at the end of 1942'. I don't know how long it took to install the full monty, but from what I've read priority would be on the flarepath, with the outer circle being last. Some airfields never had the O/C.
I think there's a good chance there was no circle in May 1941.

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Plan A is always more effective when the problem you are working on understands that Plan B will involve the use of dynamite :twisted:.
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