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  1. #11
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    RAF Babdown Farm 1939-1948 situated just South of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.

    RAF Babdown was built in 1939/ 40 as a satellite station for RAF Hullavington and was in the main originally a grass runway. It was used for night flying tasks, and then in 1942 was redeveloped into 3 full cross Sommerfield track runways by John Laing & Son to accept heavier aircraft.
    The full station infrastructure was built as an RAF station as per War Office guidance.
    RAF Hullavington its sister station became the major Parachute packing station for all issued parachutes, througout the war and right into the late 1970's, a roll performed by WRAf staff.

    As I mentioned earlier and going by the facts that we can see after your digs in the butts there, that Babdown Farm was no different to many stations experiencing zeroing problems on aircraft front and rear turrets. I am trying to find some WW2 footage which shows this practice going on, but by the middle of the war, other purpose built ranges were also built on the RAF stations.
    'Tonight my men and I have been through hell and back again, but the look on your faces when we let you out of the hall - we'd do it all again tomorrow.' Major Chris Keeble's words to Goose Green villagers on 29th May 1982 - 2 PARA

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Cheers Gil, many thanks for your research mate....
    .303, helping Englishmen express their feelings since 1889

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    Contributing Member 30Three's Avatar
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    I dont think your steel panel would be armour plating. I wouldn't expect a .303 to go through armour plate steel.
    A neighbour of mine recovered the armour plate from the pilots canopy of a shot down FW190. The canopy broke of the plane and landed in their field, about 100 yards from the farmhouse. The pilot parachuted out but was apparently dead when found. The remainder of the plane came down on the otherside of the village.
    He told me that some of the shell cases were dropping onto the barn roof. it was American planes that shot it down, it was 1944.
    He still has the armour, they have had it on the farm workbench and still use it when they need beat anything with a hammer. In 75 years they've not managed to put a dent in it!

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    I believe they moved over to tracer at the same time as armour piercing rounds when they were having a real job hitting the night fighter targets at night from the rear of the Lancs. This was the same time they trialled taking all the perspex out to give the gunner the very best night vision possible to seek out the silouhettes coming at them to then relay to the Skipper to deviate his course left or right.
    There were also lots of technical gizmos in the tails of the Lancs which worked fine for a while I remember my dad telling me, but towards the end of the war the Germans used the radar beacons to locate the bombers. Can't remember its name I'm afraid, hands sore from clapping for the NHS and one too many beers I'm afraid
    'Tonight my men and I have been through hell and back again, but the look on your faces when we let you out of the hall - we'd do it all again tomorrow.' Major Chris Keeble's words to Goose Green villagers on 29th May 1982 - 2 PARA

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    Some pilots may have added their own additional armour to their aircraft, i.e. behind their seat.




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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    Here's a few more pics,after shooting the AR today, I had a mooch about in the undergrowth and pulled out two similar panels, with traces of white paint and a bracket hung piece of inch thick steel.

    Clearly armour piecing .303 has been fired at at it, looking at the penetrations into the steel, plus some stomping with .50 AP too, I should imagine.

    Located with them is some sort of hanging arm, see pics.
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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Without hands on I would think the dents in the small plate are normal ball. The other holes might be any similar size bullet. Possibly testing penetration on armour?
    Last edited by Daan Kemp; 05-25-2020 at 03:55 AM. Reason: grammar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daan Kemp View Post
    Without hands on I would think the dents in the small plate are normal ball. The other holes might be any similar size bullet. Possibly testing penetration on armour?
    That's interesting, it's the only inch thick plate I've found, I can't say I've ever fired ball ammunition against steel, but I am surprised it will penetrate approximately half way through one inch thick steel?

    I assumed standard ball would simply put a small dish into thick steel plate.



    The rectangular building that once stood in front (only the foundations left now) must have had some sort of protection built in. Either that, or sandbagged very well indeed!

    Just the armourers hut left standing today.

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    Certainly armour piercing rounds used in the thicker plate there John, which as I said earlier was not uncommon as they stepped up their weaponry from the .303 to .50 and others in the rear turrets solely for the Pathfinder Squadrons against attack by night fighters.
    The Lancasters only had what they had in and around the cockpit, enough for a few sustained bursts, not like the Wellingtons and others who had a large rack system to feed the rounds to the guns.
    'Tonight my men and I have been through hell and back again, but the look on your faces when we let you out of the hall - we'd do it all again tomorrow.' Major Chris Keeble's words to Goose Green villagers on 29th May 1982 - 2 PARA

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    Contributing Member mrclark303's Avatar
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    I think I've found our culprits guys, No 52 OTU operating Spitfires were active at Babdown, it would explain the use of the 25 yard rifle range for calibres
    "slightly" above it's designed use!

    Then it would have been small arms, .303/.30-06/9mm/.45acp/.38 (perhaps 7.92 Besa) I think that covers it?

    I would assume that local home guard units used the range too.

    Wartime pressure would allow a certain relaxing of rules I am sure, but all the same, I wouldn't want to be driving down the A46 in direct line with 20mm being fired!

    These days, my M1icon Carbine is at the top end of the ranges muzzle energy restrictions.

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