View Full Version : Runway Markings

22-11-2008, 16:20
Im sorry if this has been covered elsewhere but couldnt find it on search...

Im would be interested to find out when the trend of using runway and airfield markings came in. I.e piano keys at the threshold, the 'numbers' and centreline etc?

I don think i have ever seen them on a WW2 airfield.


Peter Kirk
22-11-2008, 17:15
I am sure I have seen centre line markings in early post war aerial photo's

22-11-2008, 17:53
There seems to be a distinct lack of any solid info on how the markings evolved into today's (almost) standard worldwide practice.

Googling does not seem to produce anything definitive ...there is an opening here for someone to produce a history.

(thinks...will this produce a rash of articles on the subject or am I being optimistic?)


Peter Kirk
22-11-2008, 18:31
I have had a quick look at some of the aerial photo's I have from the 1940's and found the following :

Ayr and Lee on Solent both had grid type markings near the runway ends

Croydon, Hendon, Kenley, Market Harborough, Merryfield and Pershore all exhibited some form of centre line markings.

Although the dates are probably in the late 40's some may be early fifties but in any event none were wartime. I suspect markings would not have been good for camouflage.

22-11-2008, 18:54
Perhaps it was an american way of doing things? Alot of the US airbases seemed to have alot of these markings only im not sure when they started using this system.

I take your point about camoflage though.

Looking at ossingtons ecellent pics of Goxhill i cannot see any signs of markings however, and that was USAAF...

22-11-2008, 21:54
Looking back through some US fields - it looks like the late 40s /early 50s saw the start of organised markings at civil airports...there is a photo of Miami Master Field in the mid 50s with Runway heading IDs and what looks like Threshold markings - nothing else - no centerlines etc.

07-12-2008, 17:09
I am ex RAF ATC branch, and I have absolutely no idea!!

However from the plans I have seen of WWII airfields the RAF numbered runways in order of precedence, ie the main runway was number 1 and its reciprocal was number 2. When they started using the runway heading I have no idea, I suspect it may have been an American thing like a lot of stuff in aviation. However it could have been introduced by ICAO(international civil aviation organisation part of the UN)when it was set up in 1947.

As for the markings, well a centre line would be pure common sense.

Peter Kirk
07-12-2008, 17:12
1947 would certainly fit with most of the aerial photo's

07-12-2008, 19:16
As far as I'm aware the problem with all centre markings - both painted and flarepath, is that if the pilot lands on the centre of the runway (which seems the best place!) he can't see the centre-line markings as he is on top of them. In poor visibility the edge markings are much more useful. The VHB stations had their 'edge' lights installed 25 yards in from the edge and was found to be a very good compromise.


07-12-2008, 19:41
Well that expalins things as regards Marham. We thought it strange that the runway was 200 feet wide(although in fact 300 feet) with the lights set in from the edge.

Paul Francis
23-01-2009, 12:51
However from the plans I have seen of WWII airfields the RAF numbered runways in order of precedence, ie the main runway was number 1 and its reciprocal was number 2.
Just found a record in TNA which states, 'Runways are numbered in a clockwise direction, starting with the main runway'.
This would make its reciprocal No.4. I remember Thornaby was like this in the fifties.

Source: AP3384 - RAF Layout Specifications for Permanent Airfields. AIR10/9223


23-01-2009, 12:55
Hmm - seems I have just become NorwichPaul. :shock: (I'm using his PC)
The above entry was sent by me!


P Bellamy
23-01-2009, 19:15
I've just had a look at two aerial photos of RAF Deenethorpe while in USAAF use.

April 1944: No runway markings whatsoever.
Early 1945: Short-form runway heading numbers only.

All the best,