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Bailey bridge

The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, prefabricated, truss bridge. It was developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by both British and the American military engineering units. A Bailey bridge had the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to construct. The wood and steel bridge elements were small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without requiring the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks. Bailey bridges continue to be extensively used in civil engineering construction projects and to provide temporary crossings for foot and vehicle traffic.

Donald Bailey was a civil servant in the British War Office who tinkered with model bridges as a hobby.[1][2] He presented one such model to his chiefs, who saw some merit in the design. A team of Royal Engineer (RE) officers was assembled at the Military Engineering Experimental Establishment (MEXE), in Barrack Road Christchurch, Dorset, in 1941 and 1942; among them were Robin Foulkes, Darrell Herbert, John de Waele, and Bill Buckle, all R.E. subalterns at the time. In the course of development, the bridge was tested in several formats, e.g., as a suspension bridge, and as a "stepped arch" bridge, as well as the flat truss bridge which became the standard. The prototype of this was used to span Mother Siller's Channel which cuts through the nearby Stanpit Marshes, an area of marshland at the confluence of the River Avon (Hampshire) and the River Stour, Dorset. It remains there as a functioning bridge.[3] Bridges in the other formats were built, temporarily, to cross the Avon and Stour in the meadows nearby. After successful

development and testing, the bridge was taken into service by the Corps of Royal Engineers and first used in North Africa in 1942. A number of bridges were available by 1944 for D-Day, when production was accelerated. 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 patent on the Callender-Hamilton bridge. The designer of that bridge, A. M. Hamilton successfully applied to the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors.[4] The Bailey bridge however had several advantages over Hamilton's design. For example, damaged parts could not be replaced quickly on the Callender-Hamilton bridge, an essential requirement for military use. Hamilton was awarded 4,000 pounds in 1936 by the War Office for the use of his early bridges, the Commission gave him 10,000 pounds in 1954 for the use (mainly in Asia) of his later bridges. Lt. Gen. Sir Gifford Le Quesne Martel was awarded 500 pounds for his bridge used before 1941. 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 matriel advancing

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 19-footwide transoms (5.8 m) that run across the bridge, with 10-foot-long stringers (3.0 m) running between them on the bottom, forming a square. The bridge's strength is provided by the panels on the sides. The panels are 10foot-long (3.0 m), 5-foot-high (1.5 m), cross-braced rectangles that each weigh 570 pounds (260 kg), and can be lifted by six men.[5] Transoms rest on the lower chord of the panels, and clamps hold them together. Stringers are placed on top of the completed structural frame, and wood planking is placed on top of the stringers to provide a roadbed. Ribands bolt the planking to the stringers. Later in the war, the wooden planking was covered by steel plates, which were more resistant to the damage caused by tank tracks. Each unit constructed in this fashion creates a single 10-foot-long (3.0 m) section of bridge, with a 12foot-wide (3.7 m) 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-foot span (61 m). Footways can be installed on the outside of the sidepanels, the sidepanels form an effective barrier between foot and vehicle traffic and allow pedestrians to safely use the bridge.[6]

A useful feature of the Bailey bridge is its ability to be "launched" from one side of a gap.[7] 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. During World War II, Baily bridge parts were made by companies with little previous experience of this kind of engineering. Although the parts were simple, they had to be precisely manufactured if they were fit each other correctly, so they were assembled into a testbridge at the factory to make sure of this. To do this efficiently, newly manufactured parts would be continuously added to the testbridge, while at the same time the far end of the testbridge was continuously dismantled and the parts dispatched to the endusers.