Bombproof Plane Factories ROLL INTO MOUNTAIN SIDE (May, 1941)

Wouldn’t it be easier to just build the factory in the mountain and leave it there?

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Bombproof Plane Factories ROLL INTO MOUNTAIN SIDE

Raid Shelters for Assembly Plants: A Swiss Inventor’s Solution to the Problem of Protecting Production AIRPLANE FACTORIES that literally run to shelter from raiding bombers have been invented by Antoine Gazda, noted Swiss armament designer, and erected at undisclosed places in Switzerland by the Pilatus aircraft concern as a national-defense precaution. A typical installation consists of a pair of twin assembly plants, normally standing in the open where their total of 360 workers enjoy natural sunshine and fresh air. At an air-raid alarm signal, however, a “motorman” enters a control cabin at the rear center of each plant’s upper floor. He swings a switch handle, and the entire 1,600-ton factory rolls ponderously on electric-powered wheels into a cavern in a mountain side, completing its strange journey in about twenty minutes. Only its front remains exposed, and steel armor covers this end.

Meanwhile, workers reconnect quick-change electric and plumbing fittings to mains within the cavern, and attach a ventilating tube whose intake is hidden. Then the plant resumes full operation under artificial-daylight lamps. In case of a poison-gas attack, the front portal can be hermetically sealed, and fresh air drawn in through the ventilator is filtered and purified. When danger has passed, an “all clear” signal from observers brings the factory out into the open again.

17 comments
  1. Charlene says: April 28, 20118:21 am

    Which is exactly what the Germans did at Gusen. Why spend money o provide fresh air and sunshine to concentration camp inmates?

  2. mburdoo says: April 28, 201110:10 am

    I wonder how they rolled the runway into the mountain. Otherwise it might be hard to get assembled airplanes to the end user.

  3. Jari says: April 28, 201110:12 am

    That’s just the thing for James Bond villain / evil scientist on tight budget, who can’t afford a hideout in tropical inactive volcano island.

  4. jayessell says: April 28, 201111:20 am

    Jari… What cartoon villian had an extinct volcano lair with a bunny head?
    His second in command looked like The Fearless Leader from Rocky & Bullwinkle?

    PS: On YouTube… The Adventures of James Bond (jr.)

  5. Airmon says: April 28, 201112:39 pm

    Also, once the enemy bombed the tracks they’re stuck in the mountain.

  6. John says: April 28, 201112:47 pm

    Airmon: Well if the enemy is able to bomb the tracks they would do well to stay in the mountain.

  7. rick s. says: April 28, 201112:48 pm

    Why bother camouflaging the front of the building when the raiders can see that there are tracks leading right to it. Of course remembering that the Swiss haven’t been at war for some hundreds of years it’s not surprising that they might be a bit out of touch along those lines. Makes you wonder about their Swiss Army Knives, come to think of it.

    Rick

  8. Jari says: April 28, 20113:00 pm

    jayessell: Although it looked fun, I’m not going to watch all 65 episodes to find out who that villain might be :-) Flying Aston Martin DB5 with propeller on front was a nice touch. Okay, maybe I’ll watch them all in better time, but not now. Thanks for the hint.

  9. jayessell says: April 28, 20114:26 pm

    Jari…. I didn’t say they were going to be good.
    They mashed up Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and Moonraker in
    the asteroid episode.

    PS:
    Bunny Island is the secret lair of Hector from the series Evil con Carne. Oops… WAS.

  10. Hirudinea says: April 28, 20115:22 pm

    Personally I think the designer had some Freudian issues.

  11. Mcubstead says: April 28, 20117:09 pm

    A better question:
    Given its size, at what speed did it travel??? I wonder what kind of breaks it had. I was thinking I could eye ball the speed with the statement it was 250ft long, but looking at the size of the two plans inside, and the fact it is only 85ft wide, it is not draw to scale.

  12. John says: April 28, 20118:55 pm

    Mcubstead: You’re assuming it was actually built.
    In WW2 the Germans just built underground factories and didn’t feel the need to put them on rollers.

    In 1940 with WW2 already started, we just located our new Naval Ammunition Storage near Crane, Indiana out of the range of aerial attack from the Atlantic Ocean.

  13. Mcubstead says: April 29, 20113:09 pm

    No I wasn’t assuming it was built, the problems of shutting down the assembly of an airplane in the few minutes required are almost ludicrous when you consider it. I was actually being slightly sarcastic about the drawing presentation.

    also it would be easier to bomb them than an underground factory, just hit the rails and the factory is stuck inside ….

  14. John says: April 29, 20114:02 pm

    Mcubstead: For future reference when you write things like “what speed did it travel???” and “I wonder what kind of breaks [brakes, actually] it had” that presupposes something that actually existed. But you knew that.

  15. lwatcdr says: May 2, 20115:32 pm

    People keep talking about hitting the rails. This is WWII people. A short section of train tracks near a mountian would be a hard target to hit. Plus they are steel rails. It is a lot easier to build new rails than a factory or to replace the workers. Plus they could put many fake set or rails for very little money. Of course just putting the factory into the mountain does seem like a simpler solution.

  16. Mcubstead says: May 2, 20116:03 pm

    Well my detractors; the article presupposes it existed with statements like “…..have been invented by Antoine Gazda, noted Swiss armament designer, and erected at …..”

    I do concede that we are all a bit obsessed with bombing the rails. The mountain based logistics of the Germans had Rail and road service in various forms. They didn’t carry supplies and product around the country side by hand, well maybe in the last year of the war.

    I guess we (or at least myself) are just amazed the expectation people would believe that kind and size operation could be moved around so easy.
    Plus it kind of fun to image the ways it might have been done.

  17. Anne says: May 8, 20118:30 pm

    Rick S: IIRC, even though the Swiss haven’t been at war for a long time, they are (or were, until recently) VERY prepared to defend themselves. On Scientific American Frontiers, I believe it was (it might’ve been another TV show), they showed how the Swiss camouflaged big guns and other armament inside regular looking barns.

    Until quite recently, this was a national secret.

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