SU1913 : (4a) A tour of the WWII Ashley Walk Bombing Range - A & B Fragmentation Target

taken 3 years ago, near to Godshill, Hampshire, Great Britain

(4a) A tour of the WWII Ashley Walk Bombing Range - A & B Fragmentation Target
(4a) A tour of the WWII Ashley Walk Bombing Range - A & B Fragmentation Target
Two sites on the range were specifically for testing fragmentation bombs, and designated A & B, and C & D respectively. The A&B site is located here close to the Line Target near Alderhill Bottom. All I could find of it was this site marked with what is the presumed letter "B" designed to be seen from the air. A number of aircraft pens were built here to test dispersal areas and their protection from fragmentation bombs, half of them built to designs used by the Luftwaffe.

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SU1914 : (5a) A tour of the WWII Ashley Walk Bombing Range - Tallboy bomb crater

OVERVIEW: this tranquil area within today's New Forest National Park was a very different place in 1940 when this 5000 acre bombing range built here at the outbreak of war, was brought into use for the first time. It came under the control of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at RAF Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, whose operating personnel were billeted in huts opposite the Fighting Cocks pub in Godshill. Whilst there were many other ranges established throughout the UK during this time, the range at Ashley Walk was unique in that it existed predominantly to test weapons, rather than for the training of bomber crews.

The range was divided into two separate parts. The first consisted of a 2000 yard diameter practice range used exclusively for dropping inert bombs that was controlled from a tower at Hampton Ridge, that was known as the Main Practice Tower. The second was the High Explosive Range that was controlled from the North Tower located close to the Fordingbridge - Cadnam road, and was much larger at 4000 yards diameter for obvious reasons. Both these locations contained a multitude of different targets, including several different air to ground targets, at least three wall targets, fragmentation targets, a ship target, and a so called submarine pen that was in reality a huge public air raid shelter, built by the Ministry of Home Security (responsible for civil defence) in order to test its performance against that of laboratory models.

Between 1940 and 1946 every type of air dropped ordnance used by the RAF (with the exception of incendiary weapons) was tested here, ranging from the small anti-personnel type bombs, to the ultimate in air dropped ordnance - the Barnes-Wallis designed 12,000 lb Tallboy bomb, and the 10 ton (22,000 lbs) earthquake bomb, the Grand Slam. Also nicknamed "Ten Ton Tess", only one live Grand Slam bomb was ever tested on UK soil, and this took place over the Ashley Walk range on 13 March 1945 when a specially modified Lancaster flying at 16,000 feet, released the Grand Slam over Godshill. Travelling close to the speed of sound it impacted about 80 yards from the Ministry of Home Security target, burying itself into the ground. After a delay of nine seconds, it exploded, creating a crater 130 feet across, and 70 feet deep, and to this day it remains the largest live bomb ever dropped on UK soil.

Today, very little remains apart from the many bomb craters, a number of chalk target markings, and the concrete foundations of various structures, as the majority of targets and facilities were removed after the war. Interestingly, because of the alkaline nature of chalk on acidic soil, the natural vegetation that would normally occur has been inhibited, thus helping to preserve some of the chalk target markings. In this tour of the range I have attempted to document most if not all of these and other remains, that may be viewed together with this Google Earth map created by the Real New Forest Guide:

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1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
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SU1913, 38 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 12 May, 2015   (more nearby)
Saturday, 16 May, 2015
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Air transport  Woodland, Forest  Heath, Scrub  Defence, Military  Moorland 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 1991 1398 [10m precision]
WGS84: 50:55.4961N 1:43.0857W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 1991 1398
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World War II Bombing Range 

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