- Title: OPERATION PLUTO [Main Title]
- Film Number: WOY 314
- Other titles:
- Summary: An RAF film of Operation PLUTO (Pipeline Under the Ocean), with detailed coverage of the network of pipes and pumping stations on the English coast, the manufacturing process of the main types of undersea pipeline used and coverage of various sea trials of pipeline laying equipment.
- Description: (Reel 1) Explanatory titles and animated diagrams show how Pluto, the underwater pipeline, is used to convey fuel from the English to French shore to supply the allied forces. The number of pipelines necessary to deliver a certain tonnage of fuel and the time taken for a floating drum known as a 'Conundrum' (which carries 70 miles of cable) to lay the pipeline is calculated. Further animated diagrams show the pumping stations required to move the fuel and the network of stations built. Various sequences follow showing the construction of a 2,000 ton petrol storage tank camouflaged behind a screen of trees, probably at Dungeness. A number of Home Shore pumping stations are shown disguised as an old fort, a golf club, 'Browns Ice Cream' factory, and a three storey hotel. Nearby is a heavily fortified coastal pumping station, protected with pillboxes and barbed wire. British army personnel are seen on guard. The pumping station is concealed beneath camouflage netting. Closer views show pipes and valves. A pumping station located in a bomb damaged holiday camp is shown from above. Close ups shows how the entrances to the station have been built into existing damaged buildings. Two other pumping stations one disguised as a 1930's residential home and the other a fisherman's cottage are also shown. Interior views of the fisherman's cottage, Pumphouse 31, show details of the pump itself, followed by shots of 'Auxiliary Transporter' in Pumphouse 32. Men are seen operating one of the belt driven pumps. Various sequences show the pump working and the oil flowing. (Reel 2) shows how the HAIS underwater cable is made and laid. Scenes inside a works show lead ingots being smelted down and the finished lead pipeline snaking out of the forge. The process of armouring the pipeline with protective bitumen, cloth tape, steel tape, jute and steel wire is followed in detail. The pipe is then shown being coiled into the hold of a cable ship. MS of HMS Latimer a merchant ship converted for cable laying. MS of HMS Algerian also a merchant ship now used for cable laying. Pan down from the midships of HMS Holdfast to show the HAIS cable being coiled into the hold of the ship via a barge. Merchant sailors oversee the operation. MS of HMS Holdfast at sea. CU of men joining two pipe ends together with nuts and bolts. MS of men passing the cable out of the end of the cable ship and running it into the sea. MS of the coiled cable inside the ships hold running out on to the deck. CU of a dynamometer, a cable tension gauge. British soldiers of Combined Operations and merchant seaman are shown joining two cable ends together. The join is shown passing into the sea. MS of the cable on the beach feeding up into the stern of a barge called Oceanic. Men release the cable stays and lift the cable over the side of the barge. CU of men sawing through the cable. The end of the HAIS cable is pulled ashore by a small tractor. Pan across sandbags and the beach to where the cable runs into a large junction of pipes. (Reel 3) This reel demonstrates the production process for the underwater pipeline made of steel pipe of two or three inch diameter and a quarter inch thickness. Pan of factory buildings with a lorry mounted crane and steam roller in the foreground. Men are shown manoeuvring a bundle of steel pipes from a railway wagon which is then transferred by an overhead crane. CU of men moving steel pipe into a shed. Men are shown preparing the pipe ends. Individual sections are then welded into three quarter mile lengths, by an automatic welding tool, the pipe sections moving along a conveyor from the welder to a smoothing tool. Women are seen examining the joins at the end of the conveyor. The pipe is shown passing along the conveyor out of the factory buildings onto a stack of finished pipeline. A man pulls a pipe section down and the camera pans along the length of the pipe following the kink as it snakes along. A sequence of shots reviews the manufacturing process as the pipe passes from the automatic welder, along the concrete guttering out of the factory and to a dock where the pipe feeds onto a tug boat (W24) loaded amidships with a large drum of piping. The pipe is seen feeding into the ship's bows. MS of the steel drum revolving slowly as the pipe is fed from an overhead gantry. CUs show the pipe winding onto the drum. Shots of HMS Persephone in the Solent with a pipe-laden drum revolving. CUs of the drum and winding gear. Pan along the length of HMS Persephone out to the bows with the coastline in the distance. A buoy to mark the location of the cable is released into the sea. (Reel 4) A sequence of shots shows the construction of a floating steel drum. MS of a tug towing the completed drum. It is brought to shore to a jetty for loading the pipe. CUs show the toothed edge of the drum and the rope and chain used to wind the pipe into place. CU of the the top quadrant of the drum revolving and winding in the rope with the first section of the steel pipe attached. CUs of the steel pipe being wound neatly onto the drum. MS of the drum in position below the gantry and attached to the jetty. Pan from the drum to a tug called Marauder (W98) of the Brigand class. LS of the pipe laden drum being towed by Marauder away from the jetty and into the Thames Estuary on 21 August 1943. MS of the drum rolling along through choppy waters. Next the drum is shown being towed at sea off the South Coast on 21 March 1944 for an experimental cable lay. A shot of a line running along a beach connected to a buoy. A steam tractor on a ridge above a beach winds the line attached to the pipe ashore. A Douglas Boston aircraft flies over the beach. The Boston provides an aerial shot of the drum flotilla and the winding gear on the beach. The camera plane follows the pipeline as it runs ashore and goes underground. Various shots of the tugs drawing along the drum. LS of a fully laden drum being towed by two tugs, in this state it is half submerged. The titles announce that this experimental lay had been completely successful. The reel ends with a aerial shot of two tugs towing a drum with one astern.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1944
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: RAF Film Production Unit (Production company)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations:
- Keywords: GB (geography)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent Soundtrack language: English Title language: English
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 4 Footage: 2862 ft; Running time: 29 mins
- HD Media:Yes
- Notes: Remarks: the HAIS cable was jokingly referred to by the factory workers who made is as "Heinz" because of the 57 strands of cable wound around it. (Referring to the Heinz food group advertisements for 57 varieties of tinned food.) Summary: "HMS Persephone" was converted from a hopper barge to carry and lay the pipe. The floating drums called HMS Conundrums or 'Conuns' weighed 1600 tons and could carry 70 miles of pipeline when fully laden. Remarks: the code name HAIS derived taken from the initial letters of Mr A C Hartley, one of the three pipeline engineers, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the British company Siemens.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
NMV 833 (BRITISH MOVIETONE NEWS ISSUE 833 (21 MAY 1945) [Main Title]) WOY 316 (PLUTO (PIPE LINE UNDER THE OCEAN) : Hamel pipe, experimental loading and laying [Main Title]) MGH 4514 (PLUTO - the development and production of the 'Hamel' pipelines by Stewarts and Lloyds Ltd [Main Title])