Monday, January 26, 2015

Wolverton Works and WWII Aircraft

Just as had happened in the 1914-1918 War. Wolverton Works was requisitioned for more important work than building railway carriages. Technology and engineering had moved on over 20 years and greater skills were required of Wolverton workers. Carpenters shaped and framed the wings for Horsa gliders and repaired the wings of Hawker Typhoons. Machinists built gun sights and parts or tanks, including the large tank wheels, something the works could easily adapt to. Woodworkers shaped rifle butts.

Larger projects included the building of Bailey Bridges. These bridges, named after their designer, came in component parts which could be transported and assemble quickly over streams and rivers. Wolverton also built over 8,000 assault landing craft for the D Day invasion.

The Horsa gliders, shown in this photograph, were built for D Day to carry  men and equipment across the Channel. They were substantial aircraft with a wing span of 67 feet, Some concept of the scale is shown here. They were towed into the air by airplanes. The craft was named after the 5th century Saxon invader Horsa.

This last photograph show men and women who worked on the repair of a Whitley bomber. The wings have been cut (presumably to be reassembled later) to allow the huge aircraft into the narrow workshop designed only for railway carriage manufacture. A number of women in the photograph are in overalls, presumably doing mechanical work. Such an idea may not have been imagined in pre-war years.

These photographs are on display at the Milton Keynes Museum. They were probably taken circa 1943-4, prior to the D-Day invasion of France.

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