The time which individual fighter aircraft could spend over the beaches was severely limited, due to the need to return to base for refuelling. It was therefore essential that temporary landing strips were constructed in Normandy at an early stage.
There were three types of landing strip:
- Emergency Landing Strip (ELS) -This called for flat ground, roughly graded, with a minimum length of 1,800 ft
- Refuelling and Rearming Strip (RRS) - A minimum length of 3,600 ft, with two marshalling areas.
- Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) - A minimum length of 3,600 ft, for fighters and 5,000 ft, for fighter-bombers with dispersal facilities for 54 aircraft.
British Air Strips
Locations and full completion date
B.1 — Asnelles — 10 June.
B.2 — Bazenville — 11 June.
B.3 — St. Croix-sur-Mer — 10 June.
B.4 — Beny-sur-Mer - 15 June.
B.5 — Le Fresne-Camilly — 15 June.
B.6 — Coulombs — 15 June.
B.7 — Rucqueville
B.8 — Sommervieu — 22 June.
B.9 — Lantheuil — 22 June.
B.10 — Plumetot — 10 June.
B.11 — Longues-sur-Mer — 21 June.
B.12 — Ellon — 18 July.
B.14 — Amblie — 7 July.
B.15 — Ryes — 5 July.
B.16 — Villons-les-Buissons — 7 August.
B.17 — Carpiquet — 8 August.
B.18 — Cristot — 25 July.
B.19 — Lingevres — 6 August.
B.21 — Ste-Honorine-de-Ducy — 8 August.
Each group comprised two Road Construction Companies and two Pioneer Companies. The plant available included crawler tractors, motor graders, scrapers, rollers, tipper trucks and transporters. Square Mesh Track (SMT) was used as ground surfacing material.
The initial plan called for one Emergency Landing Strip to be available by the end of D-Day, the first Refuelling and Rearming Strip by D+3 (9 June) with five Advanced Landing Grounds by D+8.
Advance parties from these Airfield Construction Groups landed on D-Day, with the main bodies of each unit plus their plant, equipment and stores following during the next 2 - 3 days. In some cases, the start of the actual construction was delayed, as the site was still in enemy hands.
Despite these delays, the first Emergency Landing Strip was constructed at Asnelles by 16 Airfield Construction Group and was operational by D+1 (7 June), the first Refuelling and Rearming Strip by D+3, and the first two Advanced Landing Grounds by D+7 (13 June), one day ahead of schedule.
In all, ten of the planned total of fifteen airfields were operational by D+25 (1 July).
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