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History :: Airfield Hangars

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Updated: 3 Mar 08

Hangar design had an extremely significant impact on aircraft design; as an example the Air Ministry restricted the maximum wingspan to 100 feet at the time of design of the Stirling so aircraft could fit inside the then-standard hangar. For details of a comprehensive guide to British airfield buildings :: click here

Hangar types

Bessoneau hangar

A Great War portable wooden and canvas hangar. 4 types of Bessoneau were created by Julien Bessoneau in France from 1910, of which the most common measured 20m x 24m. The RCAF Station High River website has some excellent photographs :: click here. For a history of the original hangars and their designer in French :: click here

Belfast truss hangar

A permanent, timber-trussed hangar with wooden concertina-type doors at each end. These were made in single, double or multiple bay and well-preserved examples are at the Duxford air museum (see website). The single-bay hangar measure 170 ft long x 100 ft wide, with multiples of the width. The early hangars' use of Belfast trusses is closely related to civil dock warehousing from the 1890s.

Type C hangar

The Type C hangar is characteristic of the Expansion Phase. Good example Type C hangars are at RAF Hemswell; photographs are included on this site. They are sometimes refered to as "Austerity hangars" and were the largest 'type' constructed by the RAF.

Type B1 hangar

Photographs of a Type B1 hangar are RAF Grimsby (Waltham) are included on this site :: photo1 and photo2

Type T2 hangar

The austere T2 hangar is chacteristic of the utilitarian design of wartime construction on airfields. Photographs of a Type T2 Hangar at RAF Grimsby (Waltham) and at RAF North Killingholme are included on this site. The hangars at RAF Barkston Heath are now used for warehousing and are visible from the public road.

Type J hangar

The Type J hangar of the later 1940s can be seen at RAF Elsham Wolds.

Blister hangar

The blister hangars were the expedient of wartime. Minimal in design.

Butler combat hangar

The Butler combat hangar was a feature of airfields with an American presence. For example, 6 of these were constructed at RAF North Witham to accommodate engineering works. A picture is included in "Paths in the Wood" :: see RAF North Witham Books.

Books about the Various Airfield Hangar Types

British Airfield Buildings of the Second World War (Graham Buchan Innes)

This pocket paperback guide is designed as a pocket pictorial aid to building recognition with over 200 pictures showing all the architectural detail of the many building and hangar construction types. This volume, the first in the series, covers the war years 1939-1945. 128 pages.
Buy it on Amazon (UK)click to buy on Amazon.co.uk

British Airfield Buildings: The Expansion and Inter War Periods (Graham Buchan Innes)

A companion and second book in the series of British Airfield Buildings pocket guides. This volume, the second in the series, covers the years before the Second World War. 128 pages.
Buy it on Amazon (UK)click to buy on Amazon.co.uk

Paths in the Wood: A complete history of RAF North Witham (Martyn Chorlton)

The story of RAF North Witham, which opened in 1943 as US Army Air Force Station 479. Black & white photographs include the Butler combat hangar used by USAAF.
Buy it on Amazon (UK)click to buy on Amazon.co.uk

Other sources of information

The Control Towers website has many photographs hangars and outbuildings at many of the listed stations around the UK.

The Ministry of Defence's Defence Estates has pubished Adobe PDF versions of guides to hangars still in use on current MOD sites. These include the Bellman, T2, C types and J & K Types :: click here

British Airfield Buildings guide

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