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Report - Salisbury Plain Training Area - Larkhill Artillery Range, Wiltshire - April 2015

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Bertrina Bollockbrains, Apr 26, 2015.

?

Is Bertie a tit?

  1. Yes - He's a tit

    14 vote(s)
    66.7%
  2. No - He's a twat

    7 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. Bertrina Bollockbrains

    Bertrina Bollockbrains 28DL Full Member
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    Salisbury Plain is a UK Military Training Area, it has been since about 1897 and now covers 38,000 hectares (250 sq miles). It is also criss-crossed by by-ways and an old road. Because these remain public rights of way the MOD is obliged to keep them open to the public unless training is going on.

    Salisbury plain is bisected into two by the north to south Devizes to Salisbury road. Some tit called Bertie has recently reported on the sites in the western half. See here. So my report is on the eastern half.


    HISTORY


    Larkhill Artillery Range is located in the east of Salisbury Plain and occupies some 92km² manoeuvre area and airspace up to 16,764m. It has a controlled ground impact area of 29km² and a dedicated aerial delivery dropping zone of 1400m x 800m. The varied terrain includes wet and dry aerial drop zones and a grass landing strip. The range provides a controlled safe environment for the release of land- and air-launched missile firings as well as instrumentation verification and a controlled ground impact area.

    A battery of 4.5-inch Howitzers at Larkhill harnessed to full teams of six horses
    [​IMG]

    FH70 (field 155mm calibre howitzer for the 1970s) is a towed howitzer still in service today
    [​IMG]

    The impact area is a no-go zone and for obvious reasons, live fire training is conducted here most days of the year. Warning signs on the perimeter of the range warn of the dangers of touching unexploded ordnance and they are not joking. The landscape is peppered with craters.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Surrounding the impact zones are many observation posts which housed kinetheodolite high speed tracking cameras. The kinetheodolite is a photographic instrument for collection of trajectory data. It can be used to acquire data in the testing of missiles, rockets, projectiles, aircraft, and fire control systems; in the ripple firing of rockets, graze action tests, air burst fuze tests, and similar operations. Kinetheodolites provide angular measurements of the line of sight to the vehicle. This permits acquiring accurate position data. Together with timing systems, velocity and acceleration data can be developed from the position measurements.

    I agree that stepping into the live fire impact zone was a daft thing to do, but understand that I have been living with Bertie for 9 years now. My sanity and all sense of reasoning went a long time ago. How would you be after sharing a home for 9 years with that tit? (and don’t hold that awful thought in your head for too long)

    Before visiting Salisbury Plain it’s best to check beforehand the access and if any live firing is occurring on 01980 674763. An answer phone recording gives up to date information on areas open for public access. And don’t pass any flying red flags. This explore was done on a day when I was absolutely sure no live firing was occurring. Such days are few and far in-between.

    The Explore:

    An impromptu unplanned visit mainly due to waking up one morning with the Mother-of-all-Hangovers and needing a long walk in the countryside to clear my head. Do not be alarmed at my alcoholism. Years of living with Bertie and this is the only way I can now cope with the horror. My Mum was right. It was a mistake to marry into the Bollockbrains family.

    And this was a long walk – about 7 miles return. The Plain is popular with off-road motorbikes and cars but be warned vehicles still have to be road legal and insured. A recent clampdown has led to dozens of motorbikes and vehicles being seized and crushed.

    The biggest Observation Post is marked as Bombard OP on maps. Until recently a public right of way took you right up to it. A recent change in bylaws extended the no-go zone for the public and access to the Bombard OP is now not allowed. Be aware that the OS map is not up to-date and is still showing public rights of way on the Plain that are no more. The OS map also doesn’t show every clump of trees or dirt track. It’s possible to get lost walking on the Plain. Yes Hubby that was a dig at you – don’t go thinking I have forgotten that day. Just another point to raise when we do eventually get onto the Jeremy Kyle Show.

    [​IMG]

    From here observers would observe the fall of live fire into the impact area. Notice the fortified little windows.

    [​IMG]

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    All over the ground were these black cases. Wisely I did not touch any. Only on getting home did I discover them to be 30mm rounds most likely fired from an attack helicopter.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The view from the OP to the target area.

    [​IMG]

    I did ask Bertie what these were. With years of military service under his belt he was actually useful for once in his life and told me that they were “tanks”. Thanks Hubby! A bit of homework and I assume that there could be Centurion tanks amongst this lot – introduced in 1945, the Centurion was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. Still in use in South Africa today!

    Some actually look like Soviet T55 tanks, again dating from just after World War II. And possibly British FV432 armoured personnel carriers. I assume that dumping these relics as targets was a lot cheaper than putting them out with the bins.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    @Ordnance we need expert help please as I’m just speculating on the ID, and not from that useless man called my husband. A burning question I have is: If these are the targets how come they are still there and not blown up into little pieces? Surely after all these years of trying with several hundred days of trying each year, somebody would had scored a direct hit by now?

    The turret on this one was completely off.

    [​IMG]

    On my return from the target area, I visited two historic OPs - numbers 11 and 12

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Inside was a swallow’s nest (not in use). The Plain is a fantastic wildlife reserve and was alive this day with skylarks, corn buntings and pipits. Near to Larkhill is an ongoing reintroduction project of the Great Bustard – a bird that was hunted to extinction in the UK. The Plain is host to many rare species of butterfly such as the Adonis Blue (17% of the UK population), Duke of Burgundy, Marsh Fritillary and the migrant Clouded Yellow. Super rare orchids are found here as well as a species of freshwater Fairy Shrimp that is endemic (meaning found nowhere else) to muddy puddles on the Plain. It is precisely because of tanks regularly churning up the land that allows this shrimp to survive. The MOD works with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and other groups to manage the Plain for nature. Awww that’s nice.

    [​IMG]

    This pulley system must had been used to close the metal blast shutters.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And finally the council did a fantastic fireworks display this year. I was well impressed.

    [​IMG]

    Just one thing, the OS map shows this in the Impact Area at a place called Enford Down west of Netheravon…

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Looks like a zig-zag railway with a few buildings. Anyone knows what it is? Google Earth doesn’t really reveal anything and no photos seem to exist of it. The nearest legal public access is to within 400m but it’s over the hill and nothing can be seen.


    Thanks to all for reading apart from Bertie – I still have that divorce lawyer number on a piece of paper in my handbag. I swear it wont just be the fridge I’m taking, but the whole bloody house. You can keep the goldfish.
     

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  2. Miss Mayhem

    Miss Mayhem 28DL Regular User
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    Very nice and really interesting, cheers for sharing :thumb
     
  3. KM_Punk

    KM_Punk Muppet
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    Love it :thumb
     
  4. The_Raw

    The_Raw 28DL Regular User
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    Why divorce him when you could just poison him instead? I hear lily of the valley can be quite effective. Great report, loving dem old tanks :D
     
  5. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    HUH? Is my murder being discussed here?
     
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  6. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Hey who voted to say I was a twat?
     
  7. Bertrina Bollockbrains

    Bertrina Bollockbrains 28DL Full Member
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    Thanks guys and girls.. it was an interesting day.
     
  8. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    I will need to dig out my Boys Own Book on Tanks to ID that lot LoL ~ One reason that the Tanks (known as hard targets) do not get "blown up into little pieces" is a lot of the Anti-Tank Projectiles are in fact inert (i.e, not explosive) other than for tracers in the tail, and the 30mm cases shown are indeed from an Apache Attack Helicopter from the chin mounted 30 mm M230 Chain Gun, and are the cases for the M788 Practice Shell ('without tracer' to minimise brush fires) it can of course also fire Hellfire Missiles & CRV7 Anti-Tank Rockets which would make a mess of the targets if the were fully armed! Having said that some Anti-Tank Rounds are solid shot and pierce the hull and make a hell of a mess inside.....

    The Hulks (Tanks) do get moved to a different area over time and are given the full power of a Live Missile or Rocket!!
     
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  9. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Having seen Bertrina's unpublished photos as well as these, I agree that's there are British post-war Centurion tanks here as well as APVs.

    I'm no expert and making calculated guesses but with the main drive sprocket being a 13-point star shape I suspect there is also Sherman M4 dating from World War II here - which was the most numerous battle tank used by the allies in the war.

    The turret lying on the ground is unidentified but its rounded half-dome shape is also making me think Soviet post-WW2 T55

    What is clear is there are all sorts here!
     
  10. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    This is I think a American M41 Walker Bulldog as used in Vietnam
    [​IMG]

    Last time I was on the plain I think there were at least 30 M4 Shermans as well


    There are a few Chieftain's as well as at least one Challenger 1 I am informed as well as a few Soviet Tanks
     
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  11. 8 Ball

    8 Ball 28DL Member
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    The hulks that you've snapped there are still relatively intact as they're in an area used primarily for artillery practice so will 'only' be catching frag and HE rather than dedicated anti-armour munitions. That being said they still get smashed up pretty nicely by any HE that gets close... Bombard OP is still in use for firepower demos, with those windows allowing those inside to see up close the effects of our artillery as well.
    The tracks on the map are from a moving target range used by our armour to practice on.

    Hope that adds something! On a final note, the FH70 is out of service now - 105mm light gun or 155mm AS90 are the in service guns now.
     
  12. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Certainly does when looking at the turret but the wheels are all wrong and the drive socket all wrong - that's actually one of the ones I thought Sherman M4 and I'm going by the distinctive 13-spiked star shaped front drive socket. But theres so many variants of these things I think we are driving ourselves nuts trying to ID rusting hulks! Let's just agree there's all sorts here from many different armies!

    Wikipedia needs updating then!

    And thanks for explaining the zigzag railway - its a moving target range. That has mystified me for about a year now. Worth jumping over the fence and looking at on a no-firing day?
     
  13. WhoDaresWins

    WhoDaresWins Let's do this
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    Interesting reporting. Those 30mm cases are fine to pick up and take home. It's just an empty aluminium case now.
     
  14. illegalalien

    illegalalien 28DL Full Member
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    The one with the "Sherman style" drive sprocket labelled an M41 Walker Bulldog is an M47 Patton.
     
  15. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    As Bollockbrains says, we are driving ourselves nuts trying to ID rusting hulks! Let's just agree there's all sorts here from many different armies!
     
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