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Thread: Cowden

  1. #11
    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden



    PNK Cowden during WWII was a tank range, later combined tank and air range. Those three triangles me and CDP now believe are trackways for tanks that are heading towards a firing point located at the eastern apex or curve of the triangle. The firing points have a shallow but obvious camber to increase elevation, once the tank crew have fired on the target, it makes its way around the track to fire again or leaves the range area. The targets are located between 200, 400 and 650 yards further towards the coast - the triangles therefore point to their targets. The targets being a Wickhams trolley with 'tank' running along a sunken trackway - one of these sunken beds still runs to a length of around 200 yards. There are three or four service areas for the trolleys that are extant of brick and concrete construction plus another one that used to stand very close to the range tower in post#5 but which is now laying on the beach. The range is still known as RAF Cowden.

  2. #12
    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    The 'Old Maps' site shows a 1978 OS 2500 scale map with an obvious Directional Arrow and 'Control Tower' on the edge of the coast and almost directly in-line with the most northerly tank triangle.

    The target railtracks are shown as 'drains'

  3. #13
    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    It was a tank range and those triangles feature in ranges all over the country but I have yet to find out how they worked. Below is a 1963 vertical that shows some of the features but by then I suspect the tanks had gone.
    RCAHMS have good coverage of the Kircudbright ranges so I may have a look at those and compare.


  4. #14
    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    Not Cowden bt this photo shows the layout of the triangle and the target area.


  5. #15
    Senior Member smiler16's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    whats at cowden now like as i hear its a small place
    thanks rich

  6. #16
    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    The Post 14 image shows the target railway in front of the apex of each triangle which direction is the safety area out to sea. An 'attacking' tank would drive up one of the legs of the triangle at the same time as a target (an enemy tank silhouette) was sent down the track at tank speed. With both attack tank and target moving and the gun to target range and angle constantly changing, the crew of the attack tank would have to make a deflection shot in order to hit the target.

    WW2 and up to the '60s with no gun stabilisation and direct sights being the norm the attack tank would have to stop allowing the gunner to aim for range and deflection before firing.

    With modern tanks the gun is stabilised on the move, a laser finds the range and a computer calculates the aim-off from many variables permitting shooting on the move and high accuracy. Perhaps modern technology made the Cowden tank range redundant.

  7. #17
    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    Since most of my tank warfare knowledge comes from Kelly's Heroes I seem to recall they stopped and fired.

    The were numerous examples of these triangles around the country so I assume Cowden lost out to more superior locations and facilities that were not falling into the sea at an alarming rate. I will did out my Cowden file and see if it adds anything further.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Cowden

    Quote Originally Posted by smiler16 View Post
    whats at cowden now like as i hear its a small place
    thanks rich
    What you can see in the aerial photos - in other words, not much. What makes this so intriguing is the function of the triangular tracks and their relationship to the targets.

    As norwichpaul has already said, we spent a long time pondering these and came to the conclusion that tanks would have worked on a 'cab rank' sort of system, drawing up to the apex directed at the targets and firing at moving targets at set distances, before moving off to presumable let the next vehicle into position. The measurements we made from Google Earth (and digital 1:25 thou OS maps) reveals the distances in NP's earlier post. Peter has pretty much confirmed what we suspected but to be honest, exactly HOW they functioned is still unclear. The firing range at Midhope Moors near Sheffield for instance, doesn't have such a layout. It comprises two sets of targets with, only having what could be described as revetments for tank/artillery to fire from linked by a network of concrete tracks.

    Cowden has been used as a range since the late 1920s when the TA first rented and eventually acquired the land. In WWII the Home Guard also used the range. At the moment, as a bit of a 'side project' I'm trying to find avenues of research to determine who used the place (apart from the RAF post-War of course!). As a result the time-line of the site is apparently quite long if its use has been uninterrupted, which looks to be the case.

    Chris

  9. #19
    SuperMod Peter Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cowden

    There was an Air to air range called Aldbrough in existance during the war, probably from about 1941. Part of this covered the later Cowden Air Weapons Range.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Cowden

    Breaking news here today is that a large area of cliff face has collapsed onto the beach this weekend in the Mappleton/Cowden area.
    Apparently thousands of rounds of ordinanace has been uncovered and is littering the beach area, which has been closed to the public while the EOD teams make it safe or remove it.

    Gregg
    Last edited by ojays; 23-07-2012 at 13:03. Reason: spelling

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