I am opening this thread as so little information is known about this very important WWII system. Air Ministry supplied lighting was of little use to the Eighth Air Force who operated principally in daylight. British weather was a serious problem to the USAAF squadrons who needed to take off safely and quickly in order that the formations could assemble easily. Landing was the other obvious problem. An answer came from aviator Jack 'Red' Bartow who had designed and produced a new system which had been successfully tested at a 'problem' airfield in Newfoundland. From mid 1944 seventy sets of the equipment arrived and were installed in the UK. Audit thread here .
The official name was HILV (High-Intensity, Low-Visibility) which was usually abbreviated to 'High Lighting'. The Americans often referred to it as 'Bartow'. It was an elevated high-intensity system, with complex lighting units spaced at 60 metre intervals and 5 metres out from the runway edge. More units then extended on poles for further 800 metres at each end of the runway to form an approach avenue. The 200 watt fittings were installed on the main runway only, and being elevated ,were damaged at a much higher rate than anticipated.
I recently purchased a Bartow unit (Ebay) which is in the process of restoration. It had been converted to 240 volt operation and unfortunately several items are missing - the internal lens assembly, the shorting switch, film cut-out and the (anti-condensation) fan and transformer. It was a physically large and ambitious piece of kit for its time, with an external spirit level, plus a level adjusting tool which was stored inside the case.
A fine bottle of 1998 Arco del Castillo Yelca, with an August 1944 Bartow unit for scale
Below: The unit with the top removed. The reflector has its back to the runway. Elevation and Coning adjustment scales are shown in black.
This produces a beam pattern as below. Two units, as shown, produce curtains of light with very little falling on the runway itself.
The units were made by The Line Manufacturing Company of Pennsylvania , under license from Bartow Beacons Inc. There is no information in TNA or on the web. I would like to discover which 70 airfields were equipped. What happened to the system post war? Currently Ridgewell, Honington are the only confirmed USAAF bases. It is known that 'some' RAF stations (including Hemswell and Leuchars) were equipped. The only other light unit I have seen was in the museum at Woodhall Spa.
The system can be seen operating in 'Night Bombers' here. At 32:20 a Hemswell Lanc can be seen passing the twin threshold markers by the side of the runway. A few seconds later on take-off (32:42) the units can be seen at the edge of the runway. A night landing is shown at 44:29.