- Title: USE OF PREFABRICATED BITUMINOUS SURFACING IN AIRFIELD CONSTRUCTION [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: ABY 59
- Other titles: ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: Instructional film showing the advantages and employment of Prefabricated Bituminous Surfacing or 'bithess' for use in airfield construction.
- Description: This instructional film demonstrates both the time-consuming and labour-intensive process behind traditional airfield construction, and the relative speed and efficiency of using Prefabricated Bituminous Surfacing (PBS) or 'bithess' (from bitumen-hessian). Barrels of tar unloaded from a train by local labourers. Shot of stones unloaded from a lorry, panning to local women carrying away baskets of these stones. Stones spread on the ground and sorted using a mechanical riddle. Bullock carts transporting material. Cement poured out from a mixer. Shovelling sand. Two tar engines. Tar poured over broken stones, then smaller stones spread over the layer of tar. A steam roller. Piles of bricks, and bricks being laid in an alternating diagonal 'herringbone' pattern. Footage contrasting correct and incorrect methods. Ground being tamped flat with logs (correct). Ground flattened with a roller (incorrect). Close-up demonstrates the looseness of the surface after being rolled flat. More tamping. Rolls of bitumen-hessian material unloaded from a lorry, showing first the incorrect method and the results of poor unloading on the rolls. Close-up showing a British airman measuring the length of handle on a roll. The correct method is demonstrated. Close-up shows how rolls should be arranged for transport on a lorry. The correctly loaded lorry drives away. Petrol is poured from a drum into a metal can. Close-up shot. The petrol is mixed with a solvent. The mixed petrol solution is poured into a tank fitted to a cylindrical roller on a trailer. A British airman inspects the roller equipment and demonstrates that the cylinder is now moist. The trailer is attached to a lorry. A roll of bithess is carefully lowered onto the trailer and laced through it. The strip being laid. Men walk on the bithess strip as the lorry slowly drives forward. Two lorries laying simultaneously. View from the lorry of strip being paid out behind. When the end of the roll is reached, adjustments are made to ensure the strip overlaps with the adjacent strip. The roller is removed from the trailer showing the tank beneath. A steamroller driven over the laid strip. Three Chevrolet 3-ton lorries seen from the front. Close-up on wheels. Another shot of petrol being poured into a metal can. A mop being used to apply petrol solution to the surface. Close-up on a tear in the surface. A bithess strip is rolled out and a length is cut to size. The tear is mopped with solvent, the cut length placed over it and mopped before being stamped down. The mops are returned. An area where the surface has been rucked due to soft soil is corrected by removing and replacing the earth and tamping flat. A trench is dug and lined with bithess before being filled with broken bricks to form a French drain. Lorries reversing. A road roller. Parked RAF Hawker Hurricane IIC fighters shown tethered to weights rather than the usual stakes, to avoid damaging the surface. A flight of Hurricanes at dispersal with tarpaulins covering their cockpit canopies. Wheels held in place by chocks. An RAF Douglas Dakota transport aircraft named 'Bookoo Kalo' taxis towards camera. Its port engine is named 'Angie'. Dakota airborne and flying into the distance.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1945-02-03
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Air Ministry, Directorate of Public Relations (Production sponsor) Royal Air Force Film Production Unit (Production company)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Royal Air Force (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Royal Air Force 1939-1945 (theme) Far East 1939-1945 (theme) India 1939-1945 (theme)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 1 Footage: 1157 ft; Running time: 12 minutes
- Notes: See also ABY 20 and JFU 47. See below for related photographs. No slates, date from dopesheet. Actual date of filming likely to be earlier than that shown above.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
ABY 20 (AIRFIELD CONSTRUCTION AT COMILLA AND DUM DUM, INDIA, ON THE BURMA FRONT [Allocated Title]) CF 1164 (THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE FAR EAST 1945-1946) CF 1165 (THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE FAR EAST 1945-1946) CL 468 (ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945.)