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Barrage Balloons

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by Jim, Jan 11, 2010.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The balloon factories were now to supply the new demand of the balloon barrages that had been set up to protect such vulnerable points as the Firth of Forth and the Thames Estuary. The Thames balloon barrage, one of the units of which is seen below was worked from mobile barges. The men of the R.A.F. who manned the balloon sections had arduous work to do, for they had to face the bitter winds and rough water that winter brought to the North Sea area. Normally the crews did turns of 48 hours straight off, but in case it should be impossible to relieve them within that time the barrage barges were provisioned for six days. Each vessel carried a balloon crew of four men in addition to the crew of the barge. On each vessel were a balloon platform, winch, and a stack of hydrogen tubes.

    This was one of the first photographs taken of the new balloon barrage over the Thames Estuary which helped upset the nerves of the German airmen who were attempting to lay "murder mines" in the way of British and neutral shipping. In this case the anchorage of the balloon was a motor barge.

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  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    These balloons were manned by personnel of the Auxiliary Air Force, these volunteers are seen here man-handling a fully
    inflated balloon. These balloons had a capacity of 20.000 cubic feet of hydrogen...

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  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The work of manufacturing barrage balloons needed the finest workmanship and special training which was given to the "hands." Below left, girls are attending a course in which a small model of a balloon is being used to show the general construction. Below right, air is being pumped into the stabiliser during a final test of a balloon.

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    The girl workers take great pride in their work, and in the photograph below they form an admiring group at what is practically the launching of the balloon, for it is being fully inflated for the first time.

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    In the photograph below, Air Vice-Marshal Owen Tudor Boyd, the officer who was in charge of the Balloon Command, is Inspecting some of the R.A.F. men who were working the balloon barrage in the Thames Estuary. They are clothed against the bitter weather that they must encounter, and are seen wearing the lifebelts, oilskins, and sou'westers essential for all whose duties were performed afloat.

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  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Hardly had the German mine-laying planes made their appearance off the British coasts when a most effective method of countering their despicable activity was devised and brought into being, the barrage balloon attached to a barge. Here in this photograph we see a unit of the "balloon navy" a heavy motor barge aboard which is a six-wheeled lorry, to which is attached by cable a barrage balloon. The barges drawing the balloons can move under their own power to any part of the coast, and so the German raiders would never know where it would turn up next.

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  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    So effective had the balloon barrage proved to be as a deterrent that a large number of new balloons are now being commissioned, with a consequent big increase in the demand for men to man the units. This is a work which the older men can often do. The balloons are not intended to bring aeroplanes down themselves, as is often thought, but rather to force enemy planes to fly at such a height that accurate bombing would be impossible and also to give anti-aircraft guns a better chance of scoring hits. It is because the bombardment of troop concentrations, docks, and harbour works must be carried out at low altitudes that two crews of the Balloon Barrage were recently sent to France to operate at the ports of disembarkation for men of the B.E.F.

    Men of a barrage balloon unit watch the progress of their charge towards the clouds from the lorry which carries a winch worked by the lorry engine. The winch driver (left) in his steel cage is regulating the speed of the balloon's ascent with the throttle pedal.

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    Looking like an enormous elephant, a balloon in Hyde Park, London, is ready to go up at a truly surprising speed at a moment's notice.

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    This is what it is like to be inside a balloon (circle). These girls and men are checking over the seams of a balloon in a factory before it is finally passed as ready for its job. Of course, the balloon is not filled with gas; it has been inflated with air.

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    Hydrogen gas was used to inflate a barrage balloon, and the gas was brought to the stations In long steel cylinders. The gas pressure had to be tested about every forty-eight hours in case of leakages. The men here (above) are filling up a balloon to full pressure.
     
  6. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    A Messerschmitt Achieves A Bloodless Victory

    This remarkable photograph was taken off the south-east coast of England on August 14th 1940 when a German fighter plane had succeeded in bringing down one of the barrage balloons on which the German planes had been making concerted attacks during the week. The “victorious” Messerschmitt is scurrying away, while the balloon comes down in a mass of smoke and flame. From the head of the balloon are hanging the cables and guy ropes that menace the dive bomber. The destroyed balloon is quickly replaced by a new one.

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  7. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Barage Balloons were being mass produced in America. This was the balloon room at the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company plant at Akron, Ohio. This room was large enough to accommodate twelve inflated balloons at a time.

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  8. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Operation of the LZ Barrage Balloon

    The LZ (Low Zone) barrage balloon, 62ft long and 25ft in diameter, held 19,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas and had a normal maximum flying altitude of 5,000ft. To protect a vulnerable point from attack by low-flying aircraft or dive-bombers, the balloons were distributed randomly across the area of the potential target.

    When an aircraft hit the balloon cable, a cutting link at each end severed the cable. The aircraft thus carried away the main portion of the cable, about a mile long. Attached to each end of the cable was an 8ft diameter canvas drogue parachute. When fully open, the parachutes generated a combined drag of about six times the bomber's engine thrust. That stopped the plane almost in its tracks, causing it to stall and fall out of the sky.

    As the cable was pulled away from the balloon, a wire connected to the balloon tore off a large ripping patch. That allowed the hydrogen to escape, and the balloon descended slowly to the ground.

    The purpose of the balloons was to protect targets by preventing accurate attacks by low-flying aircraft or dive-bombers. In this, they were brilliantly successful. Although they brought down few German aircraft, less than 30 during the entire war, there is no recorded instance of low-flying aircraft or dive-bombers making a deliberate attack on a target protected by balloons.


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    Drawing by Darko Pavlovic
     
  9. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    Great thread Jim, my grandma used to help make these during the war, she also helped with the making of parachutes to. :thumb:
     
  10. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Woman workers inspect a partly inflated barrage balloon in New Bedford, Massachusetts on May 11, 1943. Each part of the balloon must be stamped by the worker who does the particular job, also by the work inspector of the division, and finally by the "G" inspector, who gives final approval.

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  11. Kevin Heath

    Kevin Heath New Member

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    Barrage Balloon buoy

    Hi I have seen that several Barrage Balloons were anchored in Scapa Flow, Orkney to ''balloon buoy's'' and hope someone may have information of balloon buoys ? were they just a buoy or a form of raft ?

    Thanks in advance

    Kevin
     
  12. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Hi Kevin, i do believe that there were some kind of sailing boat as they had to be put into place when needed ..
     
  13. Kevin Heath

    Kevin Heath New Member

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    OK thanks Jim
     

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