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  1. #1
    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Armoured panel ID.

    Here's a tricky one guys.

    One of the club's I am a member of, just reopened our outdoor range (thank god), it's an old RAF airfield and the butts have just been dug out, lead recovered and refilled for the first time since WW2.

    The original steel target gear was recovered, having been buried in soil for decades along with some steel panels.

    One panel was still half buried, so I spent 30 mins digging it out and cutting the roots that had grown through the bullet holes.

    Clearly hammered by .50 cal and and .303, inpacted 9mm is still stuck to the surface... It's 6 mm thick, 8 inches wide, 16 inches long (ish) and clearly been riveted to something along both sides...

    I would think it's been blasted by aircraft machine guns, as I can't see .50 cal being used in any other way on a wartime RAF airfield.

    So, were these part of standard WW2 range equipment, or armoured panels from aircraft?

    Any thoughts guys ....

    It's being cleaned and mounted!
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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    That matrix lying there should have been up front of the sloping backstop to hold target frames originally. The steel plate I can't imagine, there shouldn't be anything in there but sand to catch bullets. Anything hard negated the absorbing quality of sand and causes ricochets. If it were armor, it would definitely do that...maybe it was just disposed there at wars end because no one cared? Then someone resurrected the SA 25 yd range...

    First cleaning in 75 years...range control will be doing fits... The salvage must have been enormous.
    Regards, Jim

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    Senior Member bombdoc's Avatar
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    The turning target frames look like they are from a standard 4/5 lane 25 yard range. All airfields would have had one of these, some even had doubles built back to back...!
    Fighter airfields also had aircraft test firing pits that would allow a fighter to be pushed in and the function and alignment of the guns tested. Bomber airfields did not have these as the aircraft were not fitted with co-axially mounted guns. Initially all UKicon fighters used .303 guns.. the theory was that having a lot of shots was more important than the effect of a single shot, and early aircraft were very weight limitied. Latterly .50 machine guns and 20mm cannon were fitted.

    I cannot see that your steel plate was ever part of an official range practice. Steel plate targets are used for research and proof firings, but they are always used in a specially designed proof range that is designed to cope with ricochets... The guns are usually fired remotely from behind cover. This looks like the results of an unofficial "fun shoot" with .50 and 20mm Hispano cannon...!

    It could be the steel plate from the back of a pilots seat.. this was the only armouring on a lot of RAF aircraft!
    Last edited by bombdoc; 05-21-2020 at 04:28 AM.

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    That matrix lying there should have been up front of the sloping backstop to hold target frames originally. The steel plate I can't imagine, there shouldn't be anything in there but sand to catch bullets. Anything hard negated the absorbing quality of sand and causes ricochets. If it were armor, it would definitely do that...maybe it was just disposed there at wars end because no one cared? Then someone resurrected the SA 25 yd range...

    First cleaning in 75 years...range control will be doing fits... The salvage must have been enormous.
    Hi Jim, the range was abandoned for years following WW2 and came back into use by my local club in the late 1960's.

    My Father-in-law organised Home Office approval at the time and the way the system works, providing it remains in use, or no complaints are recorded, it just carries on without inspection.

    It's up to the range occupies to keep it safe.

    Even today, it's only occasionally used, so not 'masses' of lead.

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bombdoc View Post
    The turning target frames look like they are from a standard 4/5 lane 25 yard range. All airfields would have had one of these, some even had doubles built back to back...!
    Fighter airfields also had aircraft test firing pits that would allow a fighter to be pushed in and the function and alignment of the guns tested. Bomber airfields did not have these as the aircraft were not fitted with co-axially mounted guns. Initially all UKicon fighters used .303 guns.. the theory was that having a lot of shots was more important than the effect of a single shot, and early aircraft were very weight limitied. Latterly .50 machine guns and 20mm cannon were fitted.

    I cannot see that your steel plate was ever part of an official range practice. Steel plate targets are used for research and proof firings, but they are always used in a specially designed proof range that is designed to cope with ricochets... The guns are usually fired remotely from behind cover. This looks like the results of an unofficial "fun shoot" with .50 and 20mm Hispano cannon...!

    It could be the steel plate from the back of a pilots seat.. this was the only armouring on a lot of RAF aircraft!
    Yep, standard RAF 25 yrd range, with a facility to go back to 50 and 80 on one lane, if you're there by yourself.

    I think it was originally also used for aircraft machine gun synchronization etc.

    I couldn't think why there would steel plates as part of the set up. It seems like a bloody dangerous passtime!

    The .50, 20mm? will clearly punch through, the 9mm/.38 is splattered all over it, but .303, well, steel helmet on and duck!
    Last edited by mrclark303; 05-21-2020 at 05:28 AM.

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Does anybody have any links to pics of Steel targets or aircraft seat armour?

    It would be great to I'd it...
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    It could be a variation of this short range target frame



    But steel targets were out of style by the early 1900's, the last on my range was replaced in 1902.

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Interesting Muffet, thanks for digging that out mate.



    The surviving apparatus does seem like standard spec though....

    Very little out there on the web (with regards to pics) about target steel or aircraft armour, real anorak stuff this!

    I will have to have a dig about up there to see what else I can find !
    .303, helping Englishmen express their feelings since 1889

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    John,
    Better on here rather than texting. Some facts not commonly known. My dad was RAF based at Gransden Lodge Airfield which was a Lancaser Pathfinder field about three miles from where I live currently in Cambridgeshire.

    It quickly became a test and development airfield as such things as the ground mist/smog clearing device called FIDO was developed there as well as the Rose Turret/rear guns of the Lancaster.

    The issues in those wartime days, was Germanicon night fighters creeping up behind Pathfinder Squadrons and causing mayhem and large losses.

    Dad and others ripped all the perspex out of the rear cockpits so the tail gunner had a better view at night and could quickly see silouhette's coming at them. They initially trialled twin .303's which proved next to useless and moved quickly onto four. They also trialled 30 and 50 calibre in the tail but Rose Brothers of Gainsborough, who ironically went on to make 4T brackets too with their specialism's, and named the hydraulic ring in the tail as the Rose Cockpit, but the whole mountings shook to a point where the gunner could not hold the weapon on target..................so they went back to four .303's and believe this or not, the Lanc was shackled down at the back end and the aim was to fire as many rounds to see if those were the right guns for the job, which they were.

    They shackled down Mosquitos and other aircraft which I forget now that he told me about as they trialled lots under a caviat of TOP SECRET on the airfield. So in short, many ranges were open plan at the firers point so aircraft could be backed up and fire into the sand.
    Clearly the bigger guns which I suspect there are a few 50 cal holes in your images also let lose.
    Now you know where I got my design head from!!

    Meant to say, that I have loads of WW2 airfield plans showing the MMG Ranges. I cn photograph them if interested, but I can see if your airfield John had those aircraft on site that needed their weapons sorting this way.
    Last edited by Gil Boyd; 05-21-2020 at 11:15 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by muffett.2008 View Post
    It could be a variation of this short range target frame
    That's what I remember from our outdoor 25 yd...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gil Boyd View Post
    many ranges were open plan at the firing point so aircraft could be backed up and fire into the sand.
    Many would have the wall and bullet catch VERY close to the flight line, open as suggested. The one in Bordon Ontario had a tunnel affair dug that sloped down at about 30 degrees for the 20mm cannon of the later aircraft to function. Looked like a mine shaft. It supplanted the old surface "25 yd".
    Regards, Jim

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