View Full Version : Airfield Arrester Gear

19-05-2008, 11:01
Just remembered a thread over on Key from a short while ago which was quite healthy and very relevant to AIX.

http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showth ... d+arrestor (http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showthread.php?t=75441&highlight=airfield+arrestor)

Might be worth having a look over it and carry on the discussion here as well? It's quite a fascinating subject and one I know very little about! I'm sure others may want questions answered as well!

Arrester trials were certainly carried out at RAF Grimsby (Waltham) and we're sure that this slot, along with a corresponding one at the other side of the runway, are part of it. It's situated towards the northern end of the main north-south (18/36) runway.


There is also, on display at East Kirkby, a cable drum and arrester gear but like a numptie, despite the number of times I've been, never photographed it :oops:

Any takers?


19-05-2008, 21:52
Not sure I can add much to this, but here goes.

Airfield arrester gear, or Rotary Hydraulic Arrester Gear (RHAG, usually referred to as RHAG sites) are normally situated 1500ft from each threshold. The wire is tensioned across the runway and at each end terminates into a strong nylon webbing which is wound around a pulley.
The cable across the runway is usually left resting in contact with the surface. Just before an emergency landing, the airfield arrester party or fire section will go to the RHAG site nearest the approch threshold and pull out a series of nylon discs which are bunched up at each end of the cable, these when pulled out are spaced about 5ft from each other and cause the cable to be raised a few inches of the tramac.
The basics of the working system is that the aforemention pulley sits above a chamber full of fluid, as the cable is pulled out by an emergency engagement the pulley spins fairly fast, paddles below if have to move through the fluid, which as they spin cause a viscosity change in the fluid. This in turn slows down the pulley and brings the aircraft to a stop.
The cables' position on the runway is maked by large yellow discs painted on the tarmac, and by a marker board at each end of the cable, again with yellow discs on it.

The whole lot is regularly serviced by the arrester crews, including pulling out and changing the cables, and everynow and then, the lifting out and servicing of the main drum assemblies.

It is more gentle in operation that the old aircraft carrier arrester cables.

Will post some related pics sometime.

19-05-2008, 22:18
Unfortunately I don't know much of their wartime use, but alot of NATO and most RAF tarmac runway airfields have or had them fitted. St Mawgan and St Athan have just had theirs removed due to no more military fast jet activity.
Some airfields also have a mk.11 barrier system, indeed St Athan has just lost them aswel.

David Thompson
23-05-2008, 23:15
I too have seen the arrestor gear at East Kirkby but I was a Thorpe Camp , Woodhall Spa on Thursday and they have a superb complete example under cover . It is displayed in the old NAAFI building which is now used as a workshop and carries the makers plate ; Brake Drum Arrestor Gear , AM Service No. A9 , Type Mark 1 (RAE) , 1942 , Mather & Platt , Manchester . It was recovered from Woodhall Spa and is complete with two of the mushroom shaped rope guides . This small museum is situated on part of what was No. 1 Communal Site , RAF Woodhall Spa and is well worth a visit .

25-05-2008, 21:17
The 20 WWII sites equipped with arrester gear were:

Bottesford, Breighton, Croft, Dalton, Elsham Wolds, Grimsby, Lakenheath, Leconfield,
Leeming, Linton-on-Ouse, Marston Moor, Middleton St George, Ossington, Snaith,
Stradishall, Swinderby, Syerston, Topcliffe, Waterbeach, Woodhall Spa.

Cost c.21,000 per station. All stations had six sets, except Linton which had four.

Project was abandoned in July 1943 and all equipment was mothballed.

Source: AIR20/4065, AIR14/1074, AIR14/1625, AVIA6/24515-6

Good article in 'Airfields of Lincolnshire'

29-05-2008, 00:21
I was fortunate enough to restore the example at thorpe camp.
I stripped it down to the last nut and bolt then wire brushed it by hand and painted it all.
I even managed to get the control panel lit up again.
They were powered by a ford engine but cant remember which one exactly.
I met the original desighner of the equipment and he wrote a interesting booklet on its design and operation .Will see if i can dig it out .
There is still two examples left underground at woodhall spa.
One on the main runway on the left as you drive down to the quarry and the other is on one of the other runways.
They are mostly stripped though and full of water.
You can only just see the one on the main runway .
They are covered over by thick plated steel and it still has its cables protruding through the cover.

29-05-2008, 08:23

Do you have pictures of the WWII arrester systems ?
Would be nice to share them as I wonder how it looks like ?

04-06-2008, 17:35
Just a quick update on the engine side of the arrestor gear at woodhall.
Its prime mover was a Ford pilot v8 engine which was fitted behind the armoured plate with all the controls on.
This was connected by a series of gears which also connected to a hydraulic pump which was submerged in a tank.
Also used in the system was if i can remember was some kind of compressed gas held in two big bottles attached to the unit.
The complete arrestor gear unit was all mounted on a steel frame which was firmly bolted in the pit.
The cable drums which were bolted onto some cast legs were slowed down by a pair of ferodo brake shoes which were pivoted by some hydraulic arms which had springs wrapped around them.
The load on the brakes were indicated by marker boards attached to these arms and indicated by a pointer which had various heavy bomber aircraft names enscribed on them for example Lancaster,Stirling and halifax to name a few.
The load was adjusted by a wheel on the main panel which was attached to the sprung arms by how i could describe a bike chain.
Quite simple to look at nowadays but during the war would have been a remarkable piece of machinery.
Out of 6 installed at Raf Woodhall spa only one was used once .
The big problem being with them being installed below ground level they always filled with water so were constantly pumped out.
There was one story of how some officials came to view it in use one day and the previous night they had bad rain and the pit filled with water.
The pit crews rushed to empty the pit and get the engine running but forgot to check the brakes were not stuck.
As the aircraft came in to land in front of the officials it catched the hook and with the brakes seized on the drum the aircraft violently yawed across the runway snapping the cale which whipped across narrowely missing the officials.
Thats all i can remember at the moment ,But if any one has any questions i will try and help.

04-06-2008, 21:18
Swinderby definitely had the arrester gear fitted.

However, I've spent many hours there and found no trace of the pits, or the gear, even with a metal detector. Conversely, although the equipment's installation is mentioned in the ORB, there's no mention of its removal.

I'd have thought it was easier to just cover the gear/pits over rather than extract and dispose of it all - it's huge stuff. So how come I can't find it? Mysterious.


04-06-2008, 22:02
I would have thought it would be extracted, arrester gear is quite valuable for reuse else where, and if not for that reason, it would have been worth a bit in scrap. Also a lot of effort went into keeping airfields clean (or safe way), ie few obstructions in the grass, no pitting etc

David Thompson
04-06-2008, 23:41
I'm pretty sure the brake loadings on the arrestor gear removed from Woodhall Spa had settings for Lancaster , Stirling and strangely Warwick .

07-06-2008, 18:27
How come Woodhall Spa kept it's arrester gear, when it would seem most other airfields lost theirs?


07-06-2008, 20:19
If i remember there was two differrent plates made for the arrestor gears.
The only thing i can think off is they were forgotten about.
All 6 were still in place at one point.
One went to east kirkby
One went to tattershall thorpe
One was removed for spares and scrapped
Two are definately still in position there.
Cant exactly remember what happened to the other one.
The one at thorpe camp was situated on the runway side which was still held by the mod and in use as a golf course.That is why it was so complete when removed.

13-06-2008, 17:30
Has somebody a diagram/pictures of how WWII arrester cables looked like for land based aircraft ?
I suppose that the concerned aircarft didn't have a hook as on aircraft carriers ?

Richard Flagg
29-07-2008, 18:34
Some pictures of the Arrestor gear at Thorpe Camp Museum, Woodhall Spa.


Not sure if this switch unit is part of it but it was on the wall next to it.

This has "A Fairlead for the arrestor gear cable" on the label on it.

I guess this was a runway light fitting but I'm not sure

29-07-2008, 19:34
This gear was at the A15 end of the runway during the 2008 airshow, not sure if it's a permanent fitting or was put in place for the show.





29-07-2008, 19:46
Not sure where it is, but believe me it's permanant! there are large and deep voids in the ground where the fluid filled resistance drums are placed.

29-07-2008, 19:57
Is that Waddington? Only ask given that the A15 is mentioned!


29-07-2008, 20:00
Indeed it is Waddo, take it you missed post subject!

29-07-2008, 21:15
REF said earlier, re his bottom photo:

I guess this was a runway light fitting but I'm not sure
It is indeed a Drem Mk.2 C6 flarepath fitting. Bi-directional - only one side would be lit at any time.
Around 100 used per airfield, now becoming quite rare.

29-07-2008, 22:02
The switch unit is indeed part of the system.
It was mounted on the pit wall .
Behind the last pic which has the two fairleads in it you will see the cable support behind it on the floor.
These were sunk into the runway and were retracted when not in use.
There is a couple still left at raf woodhall spa amongst some pieces of brick rubble .
I dont know if the other two arrestor systems are still in place at woohall as the last google earth pic i saw they were excavating the area they were placed.
I stripped that old arrestor gear which is at thorpe down to the last nut and bolt by hand which i can say wasnt a easy task but to see the finished product it was well worth it.

29-07-2008, 23:52
B74: You have done a fantastic job on the ex-WHS arrester gear. I remember seeing it in its flooded hole on the airfield about thirty years ago.

10-08-2008, 18:21
A long shot of a question, I know. Does anyone know what the plans are for the arrestor gear at EK?

To be honest, I wished I'd taken a closer look at it. That data plate with the aircraft types is very interesting. Can anyone expand upon it and its operation for different types?


11-08-2008, 12:55
Olympusman asked a while ago

Has somebody a diagram/pictures of how WWII arrester cables looked like for land based aircraft ?
I suppose that the concerned aircarft didn't have a hook as on aircraft carriers ?A wire rope was stretched across the runway approx 210m from its end

The rope was 120m in length and was supported 15cm above the surface of the runway via six 'upturned leaf springs' at 10m intervals. The wire was heavy and there would be some sag present between the springs.

A second rope was also installed 180m from the end, ie 30m downwind from the first. This was supported by seven springs.

These springs were arranged midway between the previous set, such that if the aircraft missed the first wire owing to the wire sagging too close to the runway surface, it would certainly pick up a high point on the second rope.

In practise a single rope was used, running round sets of pulleys before disappearing into the underground equipment pit. The actual distance of the ropes from the end of the runway was dependent on local constraints, including intersections with other runways and proximity of peri-tracks. The pulleys and pits were located 45m from the edge of the runway.

Each aircraft carried a very heavy assembly in its tail which lowered a sunstantial hook to engage with the ropes. By late 1941 runways had lengthened, pilot training had improved, and one station commander reported that, in the nine months following the installation of the gear, not one aircraft had been involved in an overshoot.

The aircraft equipment was therefore deemed to be a waste and could be replaced by essentials such as fuel / bombs / radar equipment. I believe that the Stirling was unsuitable for arrester fitting.

12-08-2008, 17:57
Were the mentioned aircraft equipped with a arrester hook then ?
Never heard about before... brand new info for me !

12-08-2008, 19:25
Here is a shot of one of the two Arrestor sheds still in-situ at Bentwaters. The yellow circle is double sided and would be illuminated to show any approaching aircraft where the Arrestor system is situated.


This shot shows where the cable exits the ground and also the position of the large pulley wheel.


I tried to photograph the inside, you can just make out where the gear was bolted down


About 25ft away was a huge concrete block, this is 20ft deep and is anchored underground to the shed so as to stop the aircraft ripping the shed out of the ground.

13-08-2008, 09:02
I must admit I am surprised at the extent of the WWII arrestor systems, I thought it was only ever trialled at Farnborough etc and that only a handful of bombers were modified with a hook.
Nice shots of the old systems.

The board with the yellow disc is a NATO wide arrestor runway position marker.

13-08-2008, 16:01
So the arrester systems were developed during WWII and not during the 50ties... As said earlier, I never heard before.

The pictures of the restored arrester unit looks close to the NATO BAK-9 Unit... and still used on a civil Belgian Airfield EBCI/CRL/Charleroi. But have F-16 landing on a regular basis for maintenance, reason we have this equipment here !

Strange that most of the NATO countries don't use the standard denominations for the different arrester cable & barrier systems ?

05-10-2008, 23:57
Hi just some close up pics of the load plate from the restored pic of the arrestor gear at woodhall spa.
You can virtually see the difference between the restored example at thorpe camp to east kirkbys example.
It took some cleaning i can say .
First pic the load plate ..


2nd pic the rope support which lifted the cable proud of the runway ..


26-10-2008, 11:56
A photo for Binbrook74 ! I assume this is an example of the 'recieving' end of an arrester cable, on a lightning. Keith.


27-10-2008, 05:56
That is correct. The arrester hook is shown in the almost fully down position but restrained by a cable for safety reasons in this particular static case.

Normally the hook was up and held by a release unit. Prior to landing - if an arrest was to be made - the pilot would pull a handle which operated the release unit. The hook then slammed down under the tension of the flat leaf spring which attaches it to the aircraft strong point. The spring is strong enough to keep the base of the hook in contact with the runway pavement so that it engages the arrester pendant cable which was suspended a few inches above the pavement.

28-10-2008, 05:59
According to the National Archives, there are numerous documents held relating to arrester gear, the titles of some are as follows:-

Air Ministry: Bomber Command: Registered Files AIR 14/1625
Arrester gear control aerodromes . Arrester gear control aerodromes Air Ministry: Bomber Command: Registered Files Date: 1943.
Source: The Catalogue of The National Archives

Air Ministry, and Ministry of Defence: Papers accumulated by the Air Historical ...
Arrester gear for bomber airfields . Arrester gear for bomber airfields Air Ministry, and Ministry of Defence: Papers accumulated by the Air Historical Branch DIRECTORATE OF BOMBER OPERATIONS Date range: 1941 - 1943.
Source: The Catalogue of The National Archives

Air Ministry: Bomber Command: Registered Files AIR 14/1074
Arrester gear on runways . Arrester gear on runways Air Ministry: Bomber Command: Registered Files Date range: 1941 - 1945.
Source: The Catalogue of The National Archives

28-10-2008, 08:40
...AIR 14/1625, AIR 14/1074
These were the source of my info on page 1 of this thread. I also find that AIR 2 and AIR20 (Unregistered papers)are valuable categories, being Air Ministry related, rather than at RAF Command level.

07-12-2008, 17:34
Just to clear something up. The RHAG is normally in what is called the up position. This means that it rests on what are called grommets and is approx three inches clesr of the runway so aircraft can engage it. If the grommits are removed it is in the down position, and if the cable is not connected to the mechanism it is what is termed de-rigged. These terms did used to cause confusion amongst aircrew.

As for the barriers, a lot of airfields started to get rid of them. At Leuchars they went through a spate of incidents when the barrier was raising itself without anyone in the tower touching the switches. It was noticed after a while that this only happened if you stood in a certian part of the tower. Investigation were done and they found that some of the electrical cablig for the barrier had actually melted togetehr and thats what was causng it. Eventually it was decided to get rid of the barrier at Leuchars and I believe a lot of other airfields did as well.

02-01-2009, 17:37
hi all

RAf Abingdon had them was looking at some of the old B centres and the power supply caninets still there but no arrestor gear.


02-01-2009, 18:17
The Phantom had a small light on the end of the hook, very useful on night cable engagements!

03-01-2009, 02:23
Dont suppose you managed to get any pics of the b centres did you ?
Binbrook still has some of the airfield lighting supply regulators in the building but most of the stuff in there has been pretty well smashed up which is a shame.
Some of the stuff in there is dated 1957 so pretty old .
Would love to rescue one of the units to go with my collection of lights from there.

Richard Flagg
03-01-2009, 08:10
What is a B centre?

03-01-2009, 15:49
What is a B centre?

hi there

air traffic controlled runway lighting from the A center and at each end of the runways were b centers power transformers sites etc for the lighting


Richard Flagg
03-01-2009, 15:53
What is a B centre?

hi there

air traffic controlled runway lighting from the A center and at each end of the runways were b centers power transformers sites etc for the lighting


Thanks alot, makes sense now!!

03-01-2009, 19:30
So the b centres were purely for just transformers/regulators and the a centres were just lighting controllers.
Very interesting really as you dont hear much about these buildings.
Can you tell us any more about these ? ie the kind of equipment installed .

03-01-2009, 20:27
So the b centres were purely for just transformers/regulators and the a centres were just lighting controllers.
Very interesting really as you dont hear much about these buildings.
Can you tell us any more about these ? ie the kind of equipment installed .


They are the forgotten parts of airfields and not visited very often by the public if at all.

There is some public info available such as atg airports site with pictures of regulators for both civil and mod stuff. in reality they are only like local substations power etc. with switching and current regulators for the lighting brilliance traffic lights etc.



i am sure there are people on here who know this stuff that as much as i know from the website etc.


02-02-2009, 23:30
There was a barrier at Gutersloh in the 1950s. The last time I saw it used was when a Swift famously carried the lot into the canal which skirted the airfield.
There was also probably one at Jever.

11-04-2009, 09:59
Can somebody make a quick summary of the arrester cable and barriers (types and constructor) used on RAF airfields since 1945 ?

Many thanks

18-04-2009, 10:34
Basically a rotary arrester system with an 'elastic type' rope that would tension upon air traffic control selecting the system. A hook from the aircraft would connect with the rope to arrest the aircraft. Would be located 1000ft or so after the threshold and marked by yellow circles painted on the runway. These days an illuminated board in the runway sidelight circuit is the standard for marking where the RHAG is.

21-04-2009, 11:08
Runways usually have two cables stretched across them around 1300 feet from each threshold, raised from the runway surface by rubber grommets. These were connected to a Rotary Hydraulic Arrestor Gear (RHAG) operating in a similar way to systems found on Aircraft Carriers. With a change in wind direction and runway, the Fire Service would go out to the cables and use a tool (bit like a sweeping brush) to spread the grommets out at the 'non landing end' so that the cable was raised. They would then go to the 'touchdown' end and 'sweep' the grommets to one side so that the cable was resting on the runway surface.

Some airfields with shorter runways (Culdrose, Chivenor and Yeovilton) were / are still equipped with arrestor barriers at the extreme end of the runway. Back in the 1990s this was the Befab Mk12A or 12B...made of elastic material raised by two arms, it was designed to stop a slow moving fighter. At Culdrose I have noticed that they are generally raised for Hawk take offs, particularly at the Western end; at all other times they are lowered.

21-04-2009, 15:42
Of course you have to make sure that your RHAG is firmly fixed in the ground! The RE's did a magnificent job installing the RHAGs at RAF Stanley in what was - to all extents - a near freezing marsh. And, of course, you have to leave sufficient time for whatever Magic Concrete to actually set! If you don't then the first Phantom Jock that comes along and snatches the cable then proceeds to pull the RHAGs out of the ground which go trundling down the runway behind said Phantom in the general direction of the Lady Elizabeth in Stanley Harbour!! Air Tragic were discomfited - Met fell about!!
I doubt if this will help, but there is, I think, a certain Wg Cdr still in the Mob who was there as a v junior Air Tragic Officer at the time and who will confirm.

21-04-2009, 18:54
raised from the runway surface by 'rubber grommets'

Also known as 'donnuts' !

21-04-2009, 19:49
A little tale of donuts. When I was a young lad at Honington some 40 years ago it was common practice for the last landing of day flying to include a practice RHAG engagement. This would allow crews to train in RHAG procedures without disrupting the flying programme.

On the said day this was done and after the aircraft was recovered the fire and ground equipment crews re-rigged the RHAG. In those days the donuts were respaced by lifting the cable onto axle stands placed at each endge of the runway. Once the donuts were repositioned the cable was tensioned and ready for flying to resume. By this time it was dark and the first wave of night flying was taxying as the crews cleared the runway.

The first Buccaneer taxied out, ran up his engines and after the take-off checks thundered off down the runway with both its Speys at full chat, only to suddenly come to a halt, with both engines still at full power, much to the befuddlement of the pilot. The aircraft was shut down and the crash crews rushed out, only to find that the aircraft had engaged the RHAG cable, about a foot up the noseleg!

Obviously, in the rush to clear the runway and in the dark, the axle stands were left under the cable at the runway edge. The result, a take-off RHAG engagement with the noseleg. I suspect that if the first aircraft onto the runway had been landing rather than taking off then the noseleg would have been torn o0ff. The Bucc was made like a brick-built dunny, but it was not that strong.

21-04-2009, 23:05
Harking back to Olympusman's first post at the start of this thread, there have been a variety of arrester systems used at RAF airfields. Airfield Review has carried a number of articles, in particular Vol 7 No 1, where Carnaby wrote about wartime arrester systems, and Vol 8 No 3, where Aldon Ferguson wrote about post-war systems. There was a major article on arrester systems in Air Clues, the RAF flight safety magazine, in May 1975. Things group into two basic categories:

Arrester Barriers:

Comprising the RAF Mk 5 and RAF Mk 6, which were replaced by the RAF Type A.

RAF Mk 12 and RAF Mk 12A, replaced by the RAF Type B.

These systems are known by other names such as Safeland Barrier, Befab Type 4 etc . The design origin of the majority of these systems lies with Befab.

[b]Arrester Cables:

The key types here are:

RHAG - Rotary Hydraulic Arrester Gear

PUAG - Purpose Use Arrester Gear

SPRAG - Spray Arrester Gear (linear hydraulic or 'water squeezer')

PAAG - Portable Aircraft Arresting Gear

CHAG - Chain Arresting Gear (linear friction - anchor chain)

The design origins of the hydraulic systems lie mainly with the All Amercian Engineering Co or Gulf & Western (formerly E W Bliss Co).

There is huge scope in this topic and it will fit in well with any new category on the Forum covering airfield facilities.

22-04-2009, 06:19
During my working life as an aircraft engineering manager I was responsible for airfield arrester sytems. We had French systems (Aerazur Barricade Nets)and conjoined retractable RHAG and American BAK 14 RHAG by ADEC (Advanced Development Engineering Corporation) formerly Gulf and Western.

The Aerazur retractable RHAG is interesting in that it is mechanical. The arrester cable (pendant) lies is a lined trough installed 90 degrees to the runway line and is supported by a number of arms which rest on a sliding wedge. The arms are sprung 'down' but when the wedges are operated through a dedicated cable operated by a servo motor (controlled from ATC) pop up within a second. So, the runway surface is 'clean' when it is not required.

The problem with the raised pendant system (supported on doughnuts) is that the different aircraft types have to be 'cleared' to trample the cable safely otherwise there is a danger than the cable will foul the landing gear particularly nose oleos. Many foreign airfields are shared by military and civil operators so the varied types must be taken into account.

When raised pendant systems were installed by the Military at one famous Middle East airfield without consultation with the Civil Aviation Dept, two Boeing 737 aircraft were badly damaged by pendants fouling the nose legs. The aircraft had been formally modified from usual standard with a different nose wheel door hanging lower down.

The Civil answer to the arguement which ensued between the two parties was to take an axe and cut through the power/control cable for the system rendering it inoperative!

22-04-2009, 18:02
Thanks WJT & Peter !

Becomes a bit more clearer...

24-04-2009, 09:58
'Portarrest' system, in use earlier this month at Gibraltar. This must be fixed very firmly to the ground, does anyone know anything about this piece of equipment?


Photos from my mate Bob Franklin, cheers!

24-04-2009, 10:01
That's what is shown as PAAG in WJT's post.

24-04-2009, 21:41
Safeland wasn't selected in Belgium and we went for ESCO/Bliss and Rolba/Aerazur since the end of the 50ties.

24-04-2009, 21:50
Yes, the pics look like a PAAG. It is capable of being deployed in two C-130 aircraft. Designed for a maximum engagement speed of 160 knots giving an aircraft runout of 990 ft.

25-04-2009, 07:30
I'm a little out of touch since arrester equipment companies seem to change names or link up with other makers to share the market.

A certain Middle East AF for whom I worked used Portarrest equipment for expeditionary missions within their own borders.

There was a ADEC (Advanced Development Engineering Corp) formerly Gulf and Western version called Portarrest
which appears in your pics.

And the Atlas system by Aerazur (France) now sold under Zodiac

http://aerosafety.zodiac.com/aerazur/?p ... ting#atlas (http://aerosafety.zodiac.com/aerazur/?p=sub_arresting#atlas)

Also shows the BAK 14 retractable pendant hook system I mentioned in an earlier post.


I was severely taken to task by an indigenous air force officer the morning after the USAF raid on Libya because the British Government had permitted the use of Gibraltar as a return leg landoff field and Portarrest equipment had been installed to catch errant F111s launched from UK bases. Please sir, I'm an engineer not a bloody politician!

26-04-2009, 22:22
Following the removal of the RHAG installations at RAF St Mawgan last year, the cables were chopped into small lengths for disposal. I managed to secure a length for preservation. It is now on display in the garden of our very own "spitfireman" under the nose of his Spitfire. He kindly agreed to these photo's.....................thanks Baz!



27-04-2009, 18:56
Took these on Coltishall of the arrester area.


The anchor points of the arrester gear


The marker circles were showing the signs of the cable


29-03-2010, 10:40
Poor quality shot of Phantom on the RHAG,

01-05-2010, 17:05
Hi all
whilst taking the images of the RWY lighting i had wonder over to where the arrestor barrier was situated so here goes

teather points?


anchor points




last remaining unit left on site all the other have been removed


02-05-2010, 08:49
Looks like an old BEFAB installation.

02-05-2010, 15:50
iirc we had 2 types of RHAG at stanley yank and british,the yank ones were more powerful and could pull the f4 back with out having to brake on brake off the a/c,also saw a f4 drop the hook on full reheat takeoff once snapped the cable like cotton!

30-05-2010, 17:33
We ahd a Tornado pilot at Leuchars in 2000 who kept his brakes on during the arrest, he had hydraulic failure. He actually welded his brakes on, wouldnt be so bad but we had almost 50 aircraft airborne!

30-05-2010, 17:45
Would'nt be so bad but we had almost 50 aircraft airborne!

The avantage having a parallel RWY as on all Belgian AF fields in case of...

01-06-2010, 10:19
We ahd a Tornado pilot at Leuchars in 2000 who kept his brakes on during the arrest, he had hydraulic failure. He actually welded his brakes on, wouldnt be so bad but we had almost 50 aircraft airborne!

Come on now! How do you think Martin Baker make their money:)

ted angus
01-06-2010, 11:00
We ahd a Tornado pilot at Leuchars in 2000 who kept his brakes on during the arrest, he had hydraulic failure. He actually welded his brakes on, wouldnt be so bad but we had almost 50 aircraft airborne!

THey are no better now, a couple of weeks ago the young gentlemen of one one one sqn returned from bolthole; The spotters on the fence at the end of the runway all noticed he did a circuit with his hook down Mnn crash combine are slow in turning out ?? Mnn aircraft lands very fast and takes the RHAG lots of rubber smoke and brown stuff in flying suits then out turns the crash combine yes you guessed he didn't have a clue his hook was down !! the other jets with him had to beat a hasty retreat back to Lossie with only just enough fuel, they couldn't go to Edin due to the load they were carrying. Nothing changes mate they are still a bunch of arrogant young gentlemen thank christ we have a navy

01-06-2010, 17:34
So why didnt they land on the short then?????????

And fighter pilots have to be arrogant other wise they lose the fight, Bader wasnt a shrinking violet was he????

ted angus
01-06-2010, 19:18
They were all live armed returning from Q bolthole ar Lossie they must have full runway & cable


01-06-2010, 22:15
Audit of aircraft arresting systems in the RAF - (Air Clues Vol 29 No5 May 1975)

File too large to attach - (6MB .pdf) - so here's a link (http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/barriers.pdf). (takes a while to load in a browser so suggest right click "save target as")

09-06-2010, 08:36
I was stationed at RAF Coltishall from Sept 1964 to July 1967 - First in Station Workshops then in the Ground Equipment Hangar which housed the then Battle of Britain Flight. Part of our job as a General Mechanic/Fitter Trade Group 5 was to carry out a daily inspection on the Mk6 Safeland Airfield Arrester Barrier at both ends of the runway, we called them after the pubs at each end of the runway. Can anyone remember the names of the two pubs as I recollect one was called "THE HORSE SHOES"

09-06-2010, 08:55
During my service in the RAF as General Mechanic/Fitter Trade Group 5 ground Equipment I helped maintain, service The Mk5 and Mk6 Safeland Airfield Arrester Barrier I was stationed at RAF Coltishall between 1964 and 1967 were the Mk6 was installed for the Lightning Aircraft and RAF Syerston 1968 to 1970 and RAF Linton-On-Ouse 1971 to 1971 were the Mk5 was used for the Jet Provost Aircraft, so here goes my best explanation and appologise for any errors in my presentaion

Aircraft Arrester Barrier
General Fitters/Mechanics where responsible for servicing and maintenance of the Safeland Aircraft Arrestor Barrier and Net which was used to stop aircraft from over-running the end of the runway. The Arrestor Net is suspended by two electrically driven stanchions and raised or lowered by remote control from the Air Traffic Control tower. Energy Absorption Units are located on either side of the runway over-run and assist in the retardation of the aircraft when the aircraft engages into the raised net and helps it to stop.

The Stanchions, from which was suspended the British Arrestor Net, are raised and lowered by remote control, during normal operations, from the Air Traffic Control tower.

They can also be operated by local control from the runway site during maintenance. In the event of a power failure the equipment can be raised and lowered manually from the runway site. The net could be raised in the stand-by position mean the stanchions being raised in a 30 to 45 degree angle but the net itself would remain on the ground. In the fully raised position the stanchions being between 87 to 89 degrees to the vertical, the net height in the middle set to a predetermined height for the aircraft. For the Jet Provost this was 10ft 3in from the top rope to the floor, therefore if the JP engaged into the, the top rope would clear the aircraft cockpit.

The barrier would be checked daily each morning before flying permission being granted by air traffic control the verticals nylon ropes being checked for damaged. The barrier being raised manually, via remote controls attached to the energy absorption unit and then the procedure repeated by the control tower.

The top of the rope was connected to each of the stanchions on either side of the runway by a shear pin, where upon and aircraft entering the net the shear pin would snap and the net wrapping around the aircraft. The lower rope would be attached to each energy absorption unit comprising of a wire rope on a stainless steel drum a set of 32 disc pads inside the drum connected to 1400psi air cylinder

The wire rope on the drum would start to unwind when the aircraft engaged the net, as the drum rotated a lever actuate and release air from the cylinder to the centre of the drum acting on the disc brakes. This action would bring the aircraft to a stop.
Part of the daily inspection was to check the pressure in the cylinders and charge the cylinder later in the day. The shear pins connected to the stanchions are changed every 14 days

The net is deployed across the end of the runway landing path in association with energy absorption apparatus on either side thereof, the net comprising of a one inch diameter wire firbre covered rope, a top edge member a bottom edge. Both top and bottom edge rope connected by several strands nylon vertical ropes. The vertical ropes being widely spaced apart. Each vertical nylon rope being spliced into the top and bottom edges, each nylon vertical rope having a breaking strain of over 2.200 lbs. Attached to eight vertical ropes evenly spaced along the net where small pieces of nylon ropes, known as test pieces. Test pieces would be removed periodically and sent British Ropes in Cleckheaton to be tested for the braking strain. Should the test piece fail then the vertical nylon ropes would be removed and replaced by new ones there were approximately 400 vertical ropes per nets?

A spare net would be stored on 8 ft wooden drum taken out to the airfield and unwound and fitted to the electrical operated stanchions at either side of the runway. The damaged net would be wound on to the wooden drum returned to a stores hanger and unwound usually the length of the hangar. A team of airman and airwomen about ten would have been shown how to splice would change the nylon ropes. In the summer in decent weather the net would be laid outside onto a grass area and the team would sit on stools renewing the ropes and acquiring a suntan at the same time. It would take about a week to renew the net.

ted angus
09-06-2010, 10:45
Mick, a real tradesman, greetings I did RHAGS & barriers at bruggen chivenor Laarbruch and leuchars. All the systems I worked on were nylon nets, no splicing. i learned splicing on my gen mech course but thankfully never served where wire rope verticals were employed. At chivenor the lads went out one morning to do the DIs and selected up the stanchions drove into the ground ! the works mob had been doing some major work in a sub station and left the circuit with the phases ars* about face ! That was the MK which wmployed a csolid arm stanchion attached directly to a gearbox as opposed to the more common lattice type. Great work in the summer but a pig at stupid o clock in the morning after a Germany blizzard trying to dig out the lot and stop the black top drivers going over the net with a blade or sicard. If snow forecast a good ATC controller would raise and lower the net every few minutes. Did any of the nylon net systems you worked ojn use the becket block ??

TED Tg 5 oct 66 to feb 2004

09-06-2010, 11:02
Ted many thanks for your remarks answer to your question No, we use to have trouble with the electrical limit switches on the Mk5 at Linton-On-Ouse back in 1971.

Also I remember we had to de-ice the nylon net with wood alcohol (it smelt like cider) we use to spray it on from a wheeled bin with a hand pump and lance, but it was easier to use a watering can. The top and bottom rope were wire fibre covered about 1" circumference, the verticals were all nylon (made good tow ropes for cars still got one 38 years after leaving the RAF). We used to send the test pieces to British Ropes at Cleckheaton West Yorkshire not far from where I live now for testing the breaking strain

10-06-2010, 18:45
In my 7 years working in towers I never saw a barrier engagement, saw lots of cable engagements though.

22-07-2010, 22:40
In my 7 years working in towers I never saw a barrier engagement, saw lots of cable engagements though.

Heres 2 from RAF Valley said Barrier



and a barrier engagement at Llanbedr


08-09-2010, 20:31
Nothing changes mate they are still a bunch of arrogant young gentlemen thank christ we have a navy

So your application got rejected, then.

18-12-2010, 20:24
I found this from pathe on gravel arrester system showing a Lightning, ??? was this ever used at any stations after the trials in 1968


18-12-2010, 22:48
I wonder if this resulted in the escape lanes for lorries on steep hills or was it the other way round?

19-12-2010, 12:46
After the Learjet overshot the runway at Northolt gravel arrester beds were put in there. I believe some more have been put in at other airfields.

P Bellamy
03-04-2011, 19:51
The 20 WWII sites equipped with arrester gear were:

Bottesford, Breighton, Croft, Dalton, Elsham Wolds, Grimsby, Lakenheath, Leconfield,
Leeming, Linton-on-Ouse, Marston Moor, Middleton St George, Ossington, Snaith,
Stradishall, Swinderby, Syerston, Topcliffe, Waterbeach, Woodhall Spa.

Cost c.21,000 per station. All stations had six sets, except Linton which had four.

Project was abandoned in July 1943 and all equipment was mothballed.

Source: AIR20/4065, AIR14/1074, AIR14/1625, AVIA6/24515-6

Good article in 'Airfields of Lincolnshire'

GE plot of visible remains from the twenty WWII installations.
Linton-on-Ouse has six visible positions, not four. However, not all may have been fitted out.
Stradishall plotted from 1945 air photos, adjusted where possible using more recent coverage.
Bottesford seems to have the best surviving examples, anyone visited them?

All the best,

03-04-2011, 20:20
Excellent, Paul. Snaith?

P Bellamy
03-04-2011, 21:16
No visible traces at either Snaith or Lakenheath I'm afraid.

03-04-2011, 22:31
Thanks - I hadn't noticed that Lakenheath was missing. Guess the VHB upgrade wiped everything.

04-04-2011, 20:32
Nothing to see at Ossington either, in fact, I don't think it was ever fitted there.

P Bellamy
04-04-2011, 21:00
Considering how little of the airfield survives, the 2007 GE coverage of Ossington shows quite a lot of the arrestor installation remaining; Five set house footings and six of the fairlead bases (mostly as cropmarks).
Looking at their positions, there may have only been five sets installed.
The single set at the eastern end of the main runway is so close to the runway intersection, and at a slight angle, it may have done for both.

All the best,

04-04-2011, 21:22
Nothing to see at Ossington either, in fact, I don't think it was ever fitted there.

Just found my AR article from June 1985 which states that all 118 installations were completed almost on schedule - plans were than made to equip ALL Bomber Command stations! (except Stirling airfields which had proved to be a problem).

In the following issue Guy Jefferson confirms that only four sets were installed at Linton where he was based.

Re Guy, see also Post #126 (http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/community/showthread.php?813-RAF-Linton-on-Ouse&p=72191#post72191)

02-06-2011, 18:22
is it normal for only 1 runway to have the arrester nets or was it more

02-06-2011, 19:13
I take it by arrester nets your referring to the barrier? And AFAIK they were only on whats known as the main instrument runway.

02-06-2011, 20:48
Having seen this thread pop up I have just spent the last few minutes enjoying reading through it. It brought back a few memories of when I was a lad. My dad was in the Royal Engineers (39 (Airfields) Regiment as it was then known) stationed at Waterbeach and he used to lead the installation of RHAG around the various airfields in this country and abroad. We were there in the late 60's early 70's. Dad's last posting was to Brompton Barracks in Chatham where he taught RHAG installation to the various engineers passing through the school. I can't remember all the stations he installed the system at, but I do remember him having been in Malta and telling stories of being buzzed by the Red Arrows at zero feet!

02-06-2011, 23:07
well from what i was doing today i found that linton had to runways equiped with them. and got it on a old map too

02-06-2011, 23:15
well from what i was doing today i found that linton had to runways equiped with them. and got it on a old map too
WWII arrester gear - yes. RHAG however as mentioned above was limited to one runway.

02-06-2011, 23:29
ok fair enough. bot strange as the electrical boxes at the sides alll dated mid 70`s but people will have more info than me

03-06-2011, 07:06
Sorry I was confused by the question about "nets", barriers IE nets are just on main instrument runways. And at Leuchars as Ted and I know they were got rid of. The cables IE RHAG and various other systems can and are on more than one runway.

ted angus
03-06-2011, 11:08
Spot on mate. When I arrived RHAG plus Barrier on main plus a PUAG on the NE end of short. That was a PURPOSE USE ARRESTOR GEAR; it was purely a left over from Leuchars being the disembarked base for Ark Royal's air wing. It was to enable crews to do repetitive hook landings without affecting the main. It was removed just after I arrived in 1990. When resurfacing took place we had an ERHAG on the short then the next bolthole we had a PAAG. The Barriers were removed because one of the resurfacing projects cocked up the alignments and any rain caused flooding at the runway ends. So with the barrier down the net trebled in weight. On command UP its subsequent weight was too great on the ties on the upper suspensioin cable and the net would fall to the floor. The strength of the ties is such that they give a cascade failure as the aircraft engages the net so the upper suspension cable breaks away and doesn't cut into the cockpit, So the changing the strength of the ties was not an option ; The solution was to force the contractor to return and sort out the alignment; NO
another unsatis job lets forget the contractor and remove the Barriers !!!!


03-06-2011, 17:59
The SATCO at the time(Sqn Ldr Day) wanted the barriers got rid of Ted, and he was prepared to use any excuse he could to do it!

Can someone whos still serving please confirm if barriers are still in use?

04-06-2011, 19:06
Barry jameson from lindholme doncaster here, on thursday this week i was visiting a friend he lives in the old squash court ( now converted to a house ) at snaith, ( pollington ) as i left i went onto part of the old runway and i saw the same thing as u have here in this pic, ther was 2 of them both at the same eng of the runway but perhaps 100yds apart and the second one was not in line with the first on, anyone seen them b4 ? i had no idea what they were

04-06-2011, 19:55
apparently temporary arrester gear has just been installed at both ends of Fairford runway presumably for the RIAT...

04-06-2011, 20:59
ther was 2 of them both at the same eng of the runway but perhaps 100yds apart and the second one was not in line with the first one

This is a diagram of the WWII gear. There would be six sets of these per airfield (except Linton).


20-06-2012, 14:55
Qty 22 sets of BAK 14 arrester gear for sale:


Not sure from the pics quite what is for sale.

21-06-2012, 05:31
i can remember reading an article in the monthly Bentwaters/Woodbridge base newsletter called "the forum " about the men who worked in the arrestor huts . Apparently the machinery made a very scarey noise when the cable was pulled out

28-08-2012, 22:34
The SATCO at the time(Sqn Ldr Day) wanted the barriers got rid of Ted, and he was prepared to use any excuse he could to do it!

Can someone whos still serving please confirm if barriers are still in use?

hi sac smith, serving at raf lossiemouth.

i can confirm that the barrier is still in use i was servicing it today. if u wish any info on the RHAG or barrier just ask ill be happy to help

28-08-2012, 22:48
They were all live armed returning from Q bolthole ar Lossie they must have full runway & cable


we have main and a short main has RHAG and barrier short has RHAG each end with all RHAG's

29-08-2012, 18:32
Reading this thread I am confused some are talking about Barriers when they mean Cables and Cables when they mean Barrier.

Can we resolve the problem by referring the cable as arrestor cable and Barrier as Barriers please. BTW nothing like hearing a jockey call "Barrier, Barrier, Barrier"

29-08-2012, 20:02
BTW nothing like hearing a jockey call "Barrier, Barrier, Barrier"
Presumably without the usual air of nonchalance?

30-08-2012, 07:04
No. In my experience it sounds more like:

'BARRIER, BARRIER, BARRIER" in which case they are going to fast for a safe capture:)