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RNAS Glencruitten - Relocating Lenabo

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Hi Northroader,

 

The gas produced was Hydrogen, and a considerable quantity at that. Helium was not used until the 30's and then the USA had total control of it.

 

Two different plants were used.

The smaller stations used Silicol Plants (I found a photo!), In these caustic soda was mixed with ferrosilicon in a pressure vessel which produced hydrogen and sodium silicate as a by product.

 

The larger sites used a water gas process, I've yet to investigate these but the plant were very large so I am going to focus on modelling the Silicol plant.

 

From the silicol plant the gas would be cooled and scrubbed then stored in a small 10 or 20,000 cubic ft gas holder and a series of 8,000 cubic ft pressure vessels.

 

The gas was piped directly into the airship sheds where the airships could be kept inflated and ready to be scrambled (in the event of U-boat sighting) whilst safe out of the wind.

 

I believe the source of ferrosilicon was a waste product from blast furnaces producing steel, so presumably would have been brought to site in open wagon.

 

The Caustic Soda is a bit more difficult. On the modern railway this is shifted in large tankers. I've yet to find how it would be transported in 1917.

I'm guessing the rec tanks would have been used, similar to what tar was shipped in.

 

Any ideas?

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Reading and researching a bit further apparently the ferrosilicon was brought to the airship bases in wooden tubs (chips of wood from the tubs got into the process and blocked the gas jets) and the caustic soda was transported in barrels.

Presumably both would have been transported in open wagons.

Some stations also used electrolysis to produce the hydrogen, although this was costly and energy intensive so the base required its own large power station (and resultant coal traffic). 

 

After the initial build of the bases in 1916 not all the bases had their gas plants operational. In order to gas the airships Hydrogen was imported in cylinders.

This method was also used to supply the mooring post (most airship bases had a few mooring post well away from the base, to either expand capacity or provide alternate landing sites in the event of fog, these were normally clearings in woodland with a small tented village). There is reference made to the mooring posts being located, where possible, near to rail lines as the cylinders were heavy and difficult to manoeuvre.

 

It doesn't appear that dedicated sidings were laid for the mooring posts so presumably the train was unloaded whilst on the mainline.

I have not located a picture of a wagon loaded with hydrogen cylinders but, given the unusual nature of this load, I would be surprised if one didn't exist.

 

Has anyone else seen such a picture?

 

Thanks

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As promised I'll list the rail connected airship bases, construction sites and other sites below.

I'll add and correct the information as I find out more so it'll stand for anyone interested.

If anyone out there has more information or spots an error please let me know and I'll update.
 
Farnborough - Built in 1911 it had an internal tramway running in the base to move supplies and hydrogen cylinders about the base - the gauge is not known.
Cavendish dock (Barrow-in-Furness) - On the Vickers site and used form 1910 for the construction of airships - Standard gauge connected to the Furness Railway.
Kingsnorth (5 miles north of Rochester) - Sidings laid near the base connecting to the SECR at Rochester.
Bude Mooring Out Station - Located near the LSWR branch to Bude, the line was used to bring in supplies to the mooring out station.
Moreton - Planned base construction started August 1917 - Adjacent to the GWR Bridport to Maiden Newton branch. The intention appears to have been to bring sidings into the base.
Pulham St. Mary - operated by the GER
Howden - operated by the NER
Cramlington -  Planned base construction stated in 1918 sidings brought on to the site from the NER
East Fortune - operated by the NBR
Longside - Operated by the GNoSR 
Caldale (Orkney) - an Admiralty standard WD narrow gauge line laid from the jetty to assist with the construction and movement of supplies to the base.

Bedford - Airship assembly site connected the Midland Railway

Flockborough (Barrow)  - Another Vickers assembly site with very extensive sidings connected to the Furness Railway

Kingsnorth (Hoo peninsular, Kent) - Standard gauge branch connecting to the SECR at Hoo, a narrow gauge line also ran form the airship sheds to a jetty on the Medway river. Additionally a 10' gauge (Brunnel eat your heart out!) line was installed in one of the sheds to enable the airships to be moved in and out the sheds on bogies.

Machrihanish aerodrome - a mooring out station however there is little evidence it was ever used. Some portable airship sheds were proposed but the armistice meant they were not required. The Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway narrow gauge line ran by but never connected. 
 
It should be noted that the bases without direct rail connection still received supplies by rail. 
Deflated airships and gondolas were frequently transported by rail, although I've yet to find out how this done, I would presume these would be a sizeable load.
 
Apart from the usual supplies of food to keep a base running (typically a base would house 300-500 men (and later WRENs also) the following items would be brought in:-
 
Hydrogen cylinders - (transported how?)
Ferro-silicon - for hydrogen gas productions in wooden tubs presumably in open wagons
Caustic soda - also for hydrogen production in barrels in open wagons
Bombs and armaments - Gunpowder vans?
Machinery - as the load dictated
Petrol an oil - Cans and barrels in open wagons
Steam and petrol lorries - CCTs? Many of the bases were very remote, the easiest access was by rail and not road
Aircraft - Most bases had some fixed wing aircraft support at some point, either to assist with anti U-boat missions or to protect against possible Zeppelin attack. There is reference to some of these being brought in by rail.
Construction materials (timber, sand, aggregates,cement, corrugated sheet and lots of paint as the bases were all painted in camouflage colours) - various
Coal for power and heating - open wagons

 

The railway would also be used to transport the men and women staffing the base.

The CO at one base requested the Railway company run "recreational" specials for the ratings to the nearest town on Saturdays, the railway company refused!

 

 

Edit 22/04/16 - I managed to miss one of the main bases Kingsnorth of the list above! this has now been corrected.

Edit 23/04 17 - I also missed off the Machrihanish Aerodrome. Thanks to Kevin Walsh for pointing out the omission.

Edited by Argos

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Well I have finally had chance to dig through my other books. The only one of any use I have found is the Autobiography of Henry Allingham, a very interesting book (on another note Henry was a vice nice guy, I met him a couple of times when we both lived in Eastbourne).

 

He served in the RNAS during WW1 and was stationed in Great Yarmouth. He doesn't mention a lot of details about the base itself however he does say that both Avro 504's and Sopwith Schneider's were both stationed there for defending against Zeppelin raids, meaning you can get away with a couple of different fixed wing types.

 

He also mentions how informal the RNAS was with very few of the "ranks" ever saluting officers and most officers supporting this, he does have some stories about new officers getting very upset about this though. So keep formal poses to a minimum amongst and people you include.

 

He also mentions how easy it was to get past the guards and climb the walls to exit the base for evenings out so again don't include to many guards, or maybe have them sleeping.

 

I will be having a further read of the book when I get time so I will update if I find any more information that will be of use.

 

Gary

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Hi Bluelighting,

 

Actually during the first world war the only bases that were guarded were those in Ireland, and that was to protect against the independence movement rather than the German threat.

I had originally planned to have a sentry point outside the base that the train would be required to stop at before the gates were open to access the base.

This seemed a logical part of operation however turned out not to be required.

The track layout at Lenabo and, I suspect, some other bases meant the gates had to be left open to shunt the base.

There doesn't seem to have been any sort of sentry point by the railway gates and I have found no reference to any sentry patrols.

I suspect the guards were show only.

most of the staff at the bases were deemed not suitable for active service so I suspect any resource capable of providing a realist deterrent were packed off to the front.

 

All in all it seems very lax given there was a war on! It would be a field day for any spy intent on getting inside!

 

by 1918 most of the bases had fixed wing support, DH4s and DH6s being brought in to support the anti U-boat patrols and various ex-front line fighters (stutters, pups, avro 504s. BE2s) to protect against potential Zeppelin attack.

 

Any information you can find would be greatly appreciated.

 

Incidental I've just found details of the training undertaken to become an airship pilot:-

  • Trainee sits in the observers seat in front of the pilot in a two seater airship. The Trainee has no access to the controls but has to "watch" the pilot behind him.
  • The airship flies twice around the base with two landings.
  • The trainee and the pilot swap places.
  • One more trip around the airship base with one successful landing.
  • "Congratulations you are now an airship pilot"!
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Hi argos,

 

all very interesting especially the part about pilot 'training' just wondering where you got the info about guards as in Henry's book he says about the guards and even talks about his relationship with the person in charge of them. He also left Great Yarmouth in May 1916 so it would seem the bases were guarded even in the run up to the battles of jutland and the somme. After all he was there.

 

Gary

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Hi BlueLightning,

 

The information is cobbled together form various sources, the gates being open for shunting comes from "Tales form the Buchan Line". Reference to the guarding is mentioned in various sections of "Airship bases of the 20th Century".

 

I think there was a nominal guard on the front gates but have yet to find any reference to the Railway entrances being guarded.

Some of the bases had small holdings within the perimeter which were still in use by the owners whilst the base was operational.

There is also reference to livestock being allowed to roam around the bases.

In one instance a sheep wandered onto a U-boat mock up whilst an airship was practising bomb dropping.

The airship dropped a 16lb bomb which exploded blowing the sheep into the air, it landed, got up and carried on eating grass.

Shortly after this the airships were given bigger bombs!

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Thanks for that really interesting think I might go and get copies of those.

 

Really like the story about the sheep

 

Gary

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I remember firing on the tank range at Warcop.  The range was covered in gently grazing sheep.  I thought "this'll be a slaughter".  The range flag went up, I turned to answer a crew member, and by the time I'd turned back to the sights, all the sheep had disappeared. 

 

I never worked out how they knew to get out of the way before firing commenced!

 

Fascinating information the pair of you have dug up.  I have the Osprey volume on RNAS aircrew, I will have a read through once I have finished the novel I'm on and let you know of anything of potential interest.

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I have some interest in WW1 aviation, though mainly on the Western Front, and I do have an Osprey volume on the Royal Naval Air Service Pilot, 1914-18.  Now I didn't anticipate this would be much use to you; it doesn't deal with aircraft or aerodromes or ground crew, and at 2mm scale you will probably not be concerned with the number of rings on a pilot's sleeve!

 

I said I'd read through it to see if there was anything useful. 

 

I can report that on the home front, pilots continued to wear 'Working Rig', i.e. blue trousers and double-breasted 'monkey jacket', peaked cap and black shoes.  If your layout is set in the summer months, your officers should sport a white cap cover. 

 

Variations existed, however, and from June 1916 grey flannel trousers were authorised for wear by officers on airfield duties.  There are a couple of interesting photographs that show pilots wearing dark, presumably blue, breeches, with puttees and ankle boots.  Some of those breeches are the flared riding type.

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Thanks Edwardian,

 

It doesn't surprise me you haven't found much as not many of the airships found their way to the front.

There slow speed and large size would have rendered them an easy target.

 

One airship was painted black to perform night time clandestine mission behind enemy lines. However, the black absorbed the heat too quickly in direct sunlight and the craft proved difficult to handle in daylight so was repainted with aluminium dope after a few months.

 

I have been re-thinking the North Connel location.

In 1915 the Vickers airship production site at Walney Island near Barrow was shelled by a U-boat.

Whilst little damage was done the Admiralty decide all future airship bases should be located away form the coast to avoid the U-boat threat.

North Connel is directly against the coast.

 

Looking at the map of the locale, there is an area of flat land near Ardconnel, a few kilometres east of Glen Cruitten summit on the mainline to Oban.

 

So I've a new location for the Caley served base. 

I might us the Glen Cruitten name as this is synonymous with the Caley's line to Oban.

Edited by Argos
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I'm currently wading through a book titled "Sky Sailors" which focuses on the airship men.

It makes you appreciate what they went through, 8 hour plus patrols in an open cab, in the slipstream of a propeller pulling them along at 50mph.

The only means of communication via a written note, or climbing out of your seat, clambering along the skids (no safety line) and shouting to your compatriot's ear!

They couldn't take any sustenance with them as it weighed to much so took sugar tablets for longer trips!

After winter patrols crew frequently had to be lifted out of the gondolas as the cold and restricted seating position had left them unable to move!

 

Thinking some more about the layout I'm going to take on board Northroader's advice in the post after the track plan.

The focus was originally the railway but it would be a shame not include some of the RNAS equipment.

 

The smallest airships were the SS class (Submarine Scout, Sea Scout or Submarine Searcher dependent upon which source you read). These were just under 150 feet long and 27 feet wide (300mm x 54mm in 2mm scale) so if I increased the baseboard width by 6" I could include one.

 

The original SS class were the first successfully deridgable airship used by the RNAS. The prototype was developed in a few weeks by simply taking an old airship envelope that was lying around one of the sheds and stringing a BE2 aeroplane fuselage and engine under it!

 

The concept was successful so was put in production, some were later sold to France and Italy, the ultimate development of this model was the SSZ or Submarine Scout Zero in 1918.

As well as serving with the RNAS the Zeros were sold to the USA and after the war, in the early 20's to the Japanese.

 

 I love the garden shed engineering of the original and being such an iconic airship should be modelled.

 

I've included a revised track plan below, actually I think I prefer the original track layout, but by removing the wind breaks (not all sheds had wind breaks on both sides, it depended on the prevailing wind) and extending the width I can have a ship being prepped for take off (or just landed).

 

post-13616-0-27939700-1461186503_thumb.jpg

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I'm currently wading through a book titled "Sky Sailors" which focuses on the airship men.

It makes you appreciate what they went through, 8 hour plus patrols in an open cab, in the slipstream of a propeller pulling them along at 50mph.

The only means of communication via a written note, or climbing out of your seat, clambering along the skids (no safety line) and shouting to your compatriot's ear!

They couldn't take any sustenance with them as it weighed to much so took sugar tablets for longer trips!

After winter patrols crew frequently had to be lifted out of the gondolas as the cold and restricted seating position had left them unable to move!

 

Thinking some more about the layout I'm going to take on board Northroader's advice in the post after the track plan.

The focus was originally the railway but it would be a shame not include some of the RNAS equipment.

 

The smallest airships were the SS class (Submarine Scout, Sea Scout or Submarine Searcher dependent upon which source you read). These were just under 150 feet long and 27 feet wide (300mm x 54mm in 2mm scale) so if I increased the baseboard width by 6" I could include one.

 

The original SS class were the first successfully deridgable airship used by the RNAS. The prototype was developed in a few weeks by simply taking an old airship envelope that was lying around one of the sheds and stringing a BE2 aeroplane fuselage and engine under it!

 

The concept was successful so was put in production, some were later sold to France and Italy, the ultimate development of this model was the SSZ or Submarine Scout Zero in 1918.

As well as serving with the RNAS the Zeros were sold to the USA and after the war, in the early 20's to the Japanese.

 

 I love the garden shed engineering of the original and being such an iconic airship should be modelled.

 

I've included a revised track plan below, actually I think I prefer the original track layout, but by removing the wind breaks (not all sheds had wind breaks on both sides, it depended on the prevailing wind) and extending the width I can have a ship being prepped for take off (or just landed).

 

attachicon.gifLenabo V2.jpg

can you curve the lead in / sidings /hanger either left or right  it would make a more interesting visual effect ?

 

 

only a idea 

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Have you considered using the hanger to hide the fiddleyard? It would mean a bit of rejigging, but it would mean that you could scenic the entire length of the layout.

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Have you considered using the hanger to hide the fiddleyard? It would mean a bit of rejigging, but it would mean that you could scenic the entire length of the layout.

 

 Clever idea, and 'verbing' "scenic" is also inventive!

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Thanks gentlemen,

 

Nick, I should have explained the trackplan is indicative only roughed out in Anyrail.

 

I have a grave dislike of straight track, particularly sidings and especially when parallel to the base board edge. To my eyes they always scream model even if prototypical.

To compound this the buildings then follow the same grid pattern so are perpendicular and parallel to the board edges.

 

The plan would be to gently curve the track in the sidings (unless serving the building) and the airship shed would be angled slightly out from the back scene to avoid the parallel building trap.

For quick roughing out in the planning software it is easier just to keep everything parallel.

I appreciate none of this can be gleaned for the plan above, sorry!

 

Clachnaharry, I did consider this.

some of the rigid sheds constructed at some bases were over 900ft long so would be over 6' in 2mm! 

The entire layout could fit in a scale airship shed!

 

I like the idea of the shed framing the backscene, I also like the idea of an open approach.

For the most part the bases were built in open country (well apart, from Wormwood scrubs in London!) so this should help capture the scene.

Nice idea though.

 

Edwardian, I do believe you've just verbed the word verb..........

Edited by Argos
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Edwardian, I do believe you've just verbed the word verb..........

 

Oh, b*gger!

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back while doing my industrial placement year from university I was walking round the site with the Foreman when he stopped and pointed at a backactor in the distance,

 

"Oh not a F##king gen!"

 

"What's up?" I ask

 

"Wey, the F##king F##ker's F##ked!"

 

A great introduction to the construction industry and the pleasure of the English language in one!

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As I'm approaching the 50th post and third page with no modelling at all, I thought I post a photo of one the locomotives planned for the layout when operating in Caledonian guise.

The picture was taken for another post so appears elsewhere,

 

The engine is a CR 498 tank first built in 1911, the final batch in 1921.

I've always liked the bulked up appearance of these little tanks.

Chassis build and detail required next.

 

 

post-13616-0-28152400-1461614345.jpg

 

The Class 27 is posed to give a indication of size.

Hopefully an ideal sized engine should one be permanently out-stationed at the airship base.

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It is a nice little loco.  Small locos like that are what attracted me to narrow gauge.

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It is approaching a year since I update this topic, but the idea has been sat festering in my mind.
I was starting to feel quite guilty as I felt this was something I should build.
 Apart from that I still need an outlet for my 2mm modelling, all focus at present has been on the 7mm stuff for Taddington.
 
The spur to do something has come from the good Mr Rice's Cameo Layouts book, that and the recently announced competition (details in MRJ 254 and on the Titfield Thunderbolt web site :- http://www.titfield.co.uk)
 
Initially I was reluctant as the completion date was May 2018, not enough time to build the layout and complete stock (I have bits started but nothing complete).

However the end date now seems to have been put back to May 2019 which seems a reasonable time frame.

 

Revisiting the original idea I have decided to set the airbase firmly in Scotland, served by the Caledonian Railway and so is fictitious.

I have chosen Glencruitten as this is a name familiar to fans of the Scottish railways, it being the summit prior to the drop down into Oban on the old Callandar and Oban line. The name should help set the scene and location.

 

Whilst no airship bases were built on that far north on the West Coast, the combined impact of the airship patrols out of Anglesey and Luce Bay (SW Scotland near Port Patrick) forced the U Boats to change tactics to attack allied shipping on the approach to Liverpool from America. 

Knowing the Ariships were limited to relatively calm conditions the U Boats hung back out of patrol range, normally to the North until condition were right (i.e. wrong for the Airships) before coming in to attack the convoys on the approach to Liverpool.

 

It is reasonable to suppose the admiralty built this new base to drive the U Boats out further.

 

The Layout will be design to sit on a bookcase with a 6' by 1' 3" top surface 52" high so suits the Cameo Layout criteria perfectly.

The original plan was to be 7' x 1' so the approach has shrunk slightly, the compensation is an extra 3" of width enable half a 150' span airship shed to be built in half relief.

 

Current thinking is shown below:-

 

post-13616-0-58111400-1492529797_thumb.png

Edited by Argos
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During WWII Short Sunderland flying boats flew patrols from a base, RAF Oban, at the north end of Kerrerra island, off Oban, with a maintainance base at Ganavan,just to the north of the town. Throwing airships into the mix is not such big stretch of the imagination!

 

Jim

Edited for typo

Edited by Caley Jim
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Thanks Jim,

 

I was aware of the Coastal Command ( the natural successors to the RNAS) bases there.

We've spent a few holidays around Oban (good Caley country  :yes: ) and I've walked the dog along the beach at Ganavan on a couple of occasions.

It's strange to think of those huge flying boats being anchored there.

 

Getting back to plan, May 2019 may seem a long way off but it is only 24 months.

To put this into context, I not only have to build the layout, track, buildings, scenery etc. but also the stock.

 

I current have 3 engines in various states of stalled build but little else apart from one of Jim's Buchanan kits wagons almost built.

I reckon I need at least 2 engines completed, one carriage and around 20 wagons.

So that's an output of one around completed wagon a month (painted, decaled and weathered).

 

That's on top of the layout build...... :paint:  I'd best get busy!

 

Boards will be purchased tomorrow, I'm going for 6mm ply for the carcass with a 6mm MDF for the fascia.

 

Still debating the dimensions of the fascia, currently thinking of a 3" surround with a 12" opening, although Mr Rice suggest different proportions.

I might have to ponder this some more...... :scratchhead:

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And we're off...... :locomotive:

 

Boards have been purchased and cutting commenced.

 

The fascia is taking shape, only the opening for the Fiddle yard to cut:-

 

post-13616-0-33562600-1492712106.jpg

 

The edges still need to tidied up, with the odd smidge of filler needed.

 

The remainder of the cutting will be done next week.

So wood has been cut (well MDF, I couldn't find any decent 6mm ply) which I guess make project real!

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