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windrider
01-12-2010, 02:15 PM
Hi all,
here's a stupid question :
with all the grass airfield during WW2, what did they used to cut the grass ?
I never saw any picture of a giant lawnmower or heard anything about it.

any clue ?

thanks

windrider
01-18-2010, 08:02 AM
tough one isnt it ?

Rising Sun*
01-18-2010, 08:17 AM
tough one isnt it ?

Yeah, but interesting.

One of those things I don't think about until someone points it out and then I wonder.

I'm guessing it'll be a slasher or sickle bar on a tractor, unless they had a huge reel mower which is possible if the fields were very flat.

Nickdfresh
01-18-2010, 09:06 AM
Yeah, but interesting.

One of those things I don't think about until someone points it out and then I wonder.

I'm guessing it'll be a slasher or sickle bar on a tractor, unless they had a huge reel mower which is possible if the fields were very flat.

I'm thinking it was a tractor towing a reel mower rig...

http://www.stens.ro/old/images/golfturf/trm7192.jpg

windrider
01-18-2010, 09:59 AM
I've been looking for a picture of something like it... with no succes so far.
amazing, considering the quantity of ww2 era airfields pictures.
There must have been a quantity of people doing that work, as a plane like a spitfire can't takeoff or land in grass fore than 12 inch or so ?

herman2
01-18-2010, 12:41 PM
I would assume that after the air strip is cut that the army engineers would put some chemical down to negate any further grass or vegetation from growing, followed by tar?

Nickdfresh
01-18-2010, 01:02 PM
I would assume that after the air strip is cut that the army engineers would put some chemical down to negate any further grass or vegetation from growing, followed by tar?

Never! You WANT some grass and weeds on an open field to reduce mud and erosion and to soak up rainfall. Grass is often replanted in construction projects using "contractors mix," which is low quality, but tough grass and weed plants you wouldn't want on your lawn...

pdf27
01-18-2010, 01:03 PM
I would assume that after the air strip is cut that the army engineers would put some chemical down to negate any further grass or vegetation from growing, followed by tar?
Not on a grass airfield - with those, the aircraft would use the grass surface as the runway. If they were to make a hard runway that would require deep(ish) foundations, which in turn require digging.

Uyraell
01-30-2010, 01:42 AM
There is also the "engineer's groundskeeper", a mixture of diesel fuel, and sundry chemicals, sprayed onto the grass at regular intervals, the idea being that the grass growth should be retarded to a manageable level, but not prevented entirely.

It is also of note that for the majority of WW2 grass runways were a necessity as part of braking the aircraft as it landed, it being that most main-wheel brakes were of the drum type, wherein an abrasive shoe either expands into or contracts upon a metal drum that is part of the wheel hub.
This was by no means as efficient a method of slowing the aircraft as the later (and nowadays common) disk-brake.
Wherefore, the grass surface was to a large degree relied upon as part of slowing the landing aircraft.
Thus the need to regulate the growth of the grass, but not prevent it entirely.

Regards, Uyraell.

forager
02-05-2010, 10:03 AM
Actual grass airfields are pretty limited in use.

Bigger planes are really heavy and require hard packed or paved strips.

Even light aircraft have problems in rain softened conditions.

Grass alongside strips can be left unmowed in reality.

windrider
02-06-2010, 07:04 AM
Yes, but in ww2 ?

Wizard
02-07-2010, 12:39 AM
Hi all,
here's a stupid question :
with all the grass airfield during WW2, what did they used to cut the grass ?
I never saw any picture of a giant lawnmower or heard anything about it.

any clue ?

thanks

Well, I understand that US Army Aviation Engineer battalions during WW II were normally equipped with two tractors which had mowers mounted on them like the roadside mowers some highway maintenance departments operate today. These were specifically to be used to maintain grass airfields.

Wizard
02-07-2010, 01:09 AM
Well, I understand that US Army Aviation Engineer battalions during WW II were normally equipped with two tractors which had mowers mounted on them like the roadside mowers some highway maintenance departments operate today. These were specifically to be used to maintain grass airfields.

My mistake; the TO&E of a WW II Engineer Aviation Battalion had only one tractor driven mower listed.

See; http://www.skydozer.com/Reference/TO.html

windrider
02-08-2010, 09:35 AM
Thanks on this information! I have yet to see a picture of this...
I guess It wasn't considered picture-worthy at the time...

What did you do during the war ?
I worked on an airfield
Did you loaded ammo or bombs, repaired damaged aircrafts ?
euh no, I just mowed the lawn !

Wizard
02-08-2010, 04:51 PM
Thanks on this information! I have yet to see a picture of this...
I guess It wasn't considered picture-worthy at the time...

What did you do during the war ?
I worked on an airfield
Did you loaded ammo or bombs, repaired damaged aircrafts ?
euh no, I just mowed the lawn !

You're welcome!

I know I've seen a WW II picture of an airfield tractor-mower, but damned if I can find it now. They are not exactly as photogenic as a tank or a B-17, but I'll keep looking, and if I get lucky and find a picture I'll post it.

R Mark Davies
02-10-2010, 06:59 AM
I've seen a lot of ex-WD lawnmowers over the years - many of them were still going strong on grass airfields in the UK in the 80s. They were usually a single row of rotary mowers (not overlapped that the photo above) - 5 or 6 if memory serves - towed by a tractor or light vehicle.

Most grass airfields have the usual two- or three-runway pattern mowed in. The rest of the grass is also kept reasonably short - mainly to keep bird numbers down.

Long grass can cause a remarkably large amount of braking on an aircraft and this is often a BAD thing. I've seen a glider catch long grass on one wing-tip and then spin around in mid-air and land sideways! Not good and the aircraft was a write-off...

Grass airfields are often a lot less stressful on airframes than concrete. There are still a great many grass airfields in the UK and many have closely-mown landing strips running parallel to the hardened runways, so that older aircraft can have a softer landing.

Hardening an airfield was more about preserving the surface than making it easier for the aircraft - hence why 'heavy' airfields hardened their strips. Fighter stations often just stuck with grass unless they were in a wet & muddy region, while virtually all tactical airfields in Europe were also grass or packed earth. If it got soggy, they'd cover them with XPM mesh, but that was quite slippery when wet and deeply disliked.

windrider
02-10-2010, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the info,
Weather in england being what it is...:mrgreen:
How often would they have to do this to keep the grass at correct lenght?
Did every airfield had this equipment ?

Nickdfresh
02-10-2010, 02:09 PM
Thanks for the info,
Weather in england being what it is...:mrgreen:
How often would they have to do this to keep the grass at correct lenght?
Did every airfield had this equipment ?

I don't know the weather in England beyond the stereotypical "London fog," but I suppose the climate could be ideal as the best time to plant grass in the Northeastern US is in late April/early may and late September/early October as grass likes moderate temps and not too much sunlight...

pdf27
02-10-2010, 04:00 PM
I don't know the weather in England beyond the stereotypical "London fog," but I suppose the climate could be ideal as the best time to plant grass in the Northeastern US is in late April/early may and late September/early October as grass likes moderate temps and not too much sunlight...
Having spent several years flying off an ex-WW2 grass airfield (although admittedly one that was concrete during WW2 - Gransden Lodge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gransden_Lodge_Airfield)), I can with some degree of safety say that it isn't exactly perfect. We had resident ducks on the runway in wintertime (with parts being 6 inches underwater) and landing across a runway in summertime was painful - the ruts that built up over the winter bake hard in summer. A well-built and maintained prewar grass airfield (such as the one at Bicester (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicester_Airfield)) is however a joy to fly off.

dicco
08-07-2012, 08:05 AM
was there any hardcore under grass runways or is it just grass as we know it

leccy
08-07-2012, 09:57 AM
The grass strips I have worked on (including RAF Conningsby's present operational grass strip) were just grass but usually on firm drained existing soil.

Advanced airfields were initially grass during WW2, if they were going to be used for any length of time drainage and an all weather surface (Pierced Steel Plank 'PSP', Sommerfield Trackway, etc) would be used.

Using purely grass strips limits the all weather capability of aircraft, even those with hard surfaces and drainage put in were still subject to periodic flooding as they were purely temporary.

dicco
08-07-2012, 04:27 PM
thanks for that just what i wanted to know