- Bailey bridge
The Bailey bridge is a portable pre-fabricated
truss bridge, designed for use by military engineering units to bridge up to 60 m (200 ft) gaps. It requires no special tools or heavy equipment for construction, the bridge elements are small enough to be carried in trucks, and the bridge is strong enough to carry tanks. It is considered a great example of military engineering.
Donald Baileywas a civil servantin the British War Officewho tinkered with model bridges as a hobby. He presented one such model to his chiefs, who saw some merit in the design and had construction started at a slow rate. The bridge was taken into service by the Corps of Royal Engineersand first used in Italy in 1943. A number of bridges were available by 1944 for D-Day, when production was ramped up. The US also licensed the design and started rapid construction for their own use. Bailey was later knighted for his invention, which continues to be widely produced and used today.
The original design however, violated a
patenton the Hamilton-Callender bridge. The designer of that bridge, A. M. Hamiltonsuccessfully applied to the Royal Commission for Awards to Inventors. The Bailey bridge however had several advantages over Hamilton's design.
A large part of what made Bailey bridges as successful and unique as they were is the modular design, and the fact that it could be assembled with minimal aid from
heavy equipment. Most, if not all, previous designs for military bridges required cranes to lift up the preassembled bridge and lower it into place. The Bailey parts were made of standard steel alloys, and were simple enough that parts made at a number of different factories could be completely interchangeable. Each individual part could be carried by a small number of men, enabling army engineers to move more easily and more quickly than before, in preparing the way for troops and matérieladvancing behind them. Finally, the modular design allowed engineers to build each bridge to be as long and as strong as needed, doubling or tripling up on the supportive side panels, or on the roadbed sections.
The basic bridge consists of three main parts. The "floor" of the bridge consists of a number of convert|19|ft|m|abbr=on wide "
transoms" that run across the bridge, with 10 ft long "stringers" running between them on the bottom, forming a square. The bridge's strength is provided by the "panels" on the sides, which are 10 ft (3 m) long cross-braced rectangles. These are placed standing upright above the stringers, and clamps run from the stringers to the panels to hold them together. "Ribands" are placed on top of the completed structural frame, and wood planking is placed on top of the ribands to provide a roadbed. Later in the war, these wooden panels were replaced by steel, which was more resistant to the damage caused by tank treads.
Each unit constructed in this fashion creates a single 10 ft (3 m) long section of bridge, with a 12 ft (4 m) wide roadbed. After one section is complete it is typically pushed forward over rollers on the bridgehead, and another section built behind it. The two are then connected together with pins pounded into holes in the corners of the panels.
For added strength several panels (and transoms) can be bolted on either side of the bridge, up to three. Another solution is to stack the panels vertically. With three panels across and two high, the Bailey Bridge can support tanks over a 200 ft (60 m) span.
A useful feature of the Bailey bridge is its ability to be "launched" from one side of a gap. In this system the frontmost portion of the bridge is angled up with wedges into a "launching nose" and most of the bridge is left without the roadbed and ribands. The bridge is placed on rollers and simply pushed across the gap, using manpower or a truck or tracked vehicle, at which point the roller is removed (with the help of jacks) and the ribands and roadbed installed, along with any additional panels and transoms that might be needed.
Stories of Bailey bridges being built and erected during the Second World War are legendary. The very first instance of a Bailey being erected under fire was at
Leonforteby members of the 3rd Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers. [ [http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/mediawiki-1.5.5/index.php?title=Leonforte canadiansoldiers.com article on Leonforte] ] In one instance a bridge was pushed over the Saar Riverwhile under artillery and tank fire. When the enemy was finally cleared out the panels had holes in them and would not carry the weight of a tank. Replacing the panels would require the bridge to be "broken" in the middle. Instead they simply bolted an entirely new set of panels onto the bridge on top of the original set, a technique that later became a standard feature.
The Bailey provided an excellent solution to the problem of German and Italian armies destroying bridges as they retreated. By the end of the war, the
US Fifth Armyand British 8th Armyhad built over 3,000 Bailey bridges in Sicilyand Italyalone, totaling over 55 miles (90 km) of bridge, at an average length of 100 ft (30 m). One Bailey, built to replace the Sangro Riverbridge in Italy, spanned 1,126 ft (343 m). Another on the Chindwin Riverin Burma, spanned 1,154 feet (351 m). Field Marshal Bernard Montgomerywrote in 1947::Bailey Bridging made an immense contribution towards ending World War II. As far as my own operations were concerned, with the eighth Army in Italy and with the 21 Army Group in North West Europe, I could never have maintained the speed and tempo of forward movement without large supplies of Bailey Bridging. [ [http://www.mabey.com/bailey.html Mabey Bridge and Shore, Inc.: Bailey Bridge] ] [ [http://www.btinternet.com/~ian.a.paterson/equipotheritems.htm Other Equipment Used By The 7th Armoured Division] ]
Modern Bailey bridges
One of the original steel and concrete bridges on the
Hana Highwayin Maui, Hawaii,damaged by erosion, has been paralleled by a Bailey bridge erected by the Army Corps of Engineers.
A Bailey bridge was built on the grounds of the
Royal Military College of Canadain 2004 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the EngineeringBranch and close ties between Branch and the college. Bnot Ya'akov Bridgeis a Bailey bridge across the Jordan Riveron Highway 91 in northern Israel.
The Westbound bridge of the I-10 Twin Spans has prefabricated Bailey Bridge segmets.
Skylark launch towerat Woomerawas built up of Bailey bridges.
In the years immediately following WWII, the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission purchased huge amounts of war-surplus Bailey bridging, and established a small design group to promote its use in novel applications. For example, the trestles required for an extensive gravel-classification set-up for the power plants then being built on the Ottawa River.
In the mid-1950's, auto racing circuit
Lime Rock Parkin Lakeville, Connecticutpurchased a war-surplus Bailey Bridge so vehicles could enter/exit the infield and paddock sections of the track while races were taking place. The bridge has been in continuous service since, and was relocated to new, raised pilings in spring, 2008. The track believes this may be the sole-remaining WWII-era Bailey Bridge in regular daily public service in the USA.
Mabey Logistic Support Bridge- the modern day Bailey Bridge used by NATO countries
Medium Girder Bridge- a modern functional equivalent of the Bailey bridge
Pontoon bridgefor another bridge type with mobile military application.
* [http://www.baileybridge.com Bailey Bridges, Inc. (photos)]
* [http://www.mabey.co.uk Mabey & Johnson Ltd (photos)]
* [http://www.mabey.com/Products/Bridging/BaileyBridge/default.aspx Mabey Bridge & Shore (US Division) and the Bailey Bridge in WW2]
* [http://www.remuseum.org.uk/corpshistory/rem_corps_part16.htm#bailey Royal Engineers Museum] Bailey Bridge in the Second World War
* [http://www.remuseum.org.uk/articles/rem_article_bridges.htm Royal Engineers Museum] Royal Engineers and Military Bridging
* [http://www.bailey-bridge.net Bailey-Bridge, Band]
* [http://www.baileybrug.info Homepage about Bailey bridges (photos, information, links, ...)]
* [http://www.enghis.org/bailey/bailey.htm Bailey Bridge at Engineering Structures History]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/CzechJoker/BaileyBridgeNVarov Bailey Bridge at Navarov, Czech republic]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/CzechJoker/BaileyBridgeBulhary Bailey Bridge at Bulhary, Czech republic]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/CzechJoker/BaileyBridgeDolnLouKy Bailey Bridge at Dolni Loucky, Czech republic]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/CzechJoker/BaileyBridgeTiNov Bailey Bridge at Tisnov, Czech republic]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/CzechJoker/BaileyBridgeHavlovice Bailey Bridge at Havlovice, Czech republic]
* [http://picasaweb.google.com/CzechJoker/BaileyBridgeWalim Bailey Bridge at Walim, Poland]
*McLaughlin, Mike (May 2005). "The practical and portable British Bailey Bridge helped Allied troops remain on the march." "Military Heritage Presents: WWII History", pp. 10-15, 76.
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