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  • This used to be RAF Graveley, a Royal Air Force base near Cambridge.

  • Now, it's a farm and some wind turbines, but in the 1940s

  • aircraft would set off from here to fight in Europe.

  • And, they hoped, they'd be able to safely land back here as well.

  • The problem with that was the fog.

  • Or, rather, smog: all the soot and air pollution from domestic coal fires

  • combined with fog to make an incredibly thick "pea soup".

  • It's never seen in modern Britain

  • because we don't burn smoke-producing coal in every house any more.

  • But back then, if that smog came in,

  • even runway lights wouldn't get through it

  • and there were no modern instruments to guide the air crews home.

  • No way to take off, no way to land.

  • How do you solve that?

  • By setting enormous amounts of petrol on fire.

  • This incredible photo shows a Lancaster bomber taking off from just behind me,

  • more than 70 years ago.

  • It looks like a movie stunt,

  • but this was how wartime airfields boiled off fog.

  • Set up enormous lines of petrol burners to heat up the air,

  • vaporise all the liquid water droplets to make steam,

  • which will rise out of the way and clear the air.

  • The system was called FIDO.

  • Fog, Intensive, Dispersal Of.”

  • There are demonstration films taken by the RAF on clear days,

  • showing just how big and how visible this was.

  • There's a report in The War Illustrated,

  • published just after victory in Europe,

  • that says that the glow from the fires was visible for miles.

  • There was a bit of smoke when they started the system up,

  • but once it got hot, the air could be so clear

  • that people on the ground could see the stars.

  • The catch was how expensive it was.

  • A small Fido system burne 70,000 gallons of fuel an hour.

  • One estimate says that in one foggy night over England,

  • all the Fido systems in use would burn 20 million gallons of fuel.

  • There's even a report all the extra heat pumped into the atmosphere triggered a thunderstorm.

  • At the current price of jet fuel, as I record this,

  • running a Fido system would cost about $200,000 per hour per runway.

  • It was never used in peacetime:

  • aircraft could just not take off instead and wait for the fog to clear,

  • or divert to another airport if they were trying to land.

  • But for the war effort,

  • to let planes take off for battle in any weather

  • and to save thousands of air crew lives

  • who needed to land right now:

  • it was worth it.

This used to be RAF Graveley, a Royal Air Force base near Cambridge.


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B1 中級

WW2の飛行機を霧の中に着陸させる火の滑走路FIDO (The Runways of Fire That Let WW2 Planes Land In Fog: FIDO)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日