ROLL OUT THE: BURLAP! (Jun, 1945)

ROLL OUT THE: BURLAP!

by Gilbert Paust,
Mi’s Aviation Editor

The “stamplicker” rolls out long strips of coated burlap to form the latest in synthetic airstrips, the U.S. Army’s “Hessian Mat.”

A FACTOR in Allied victories on the Western Front has been the availability of airstrips for our fighters directly behind the battle lines.

Thanks to a new type of mat which resembles tar paper, Army engineers have been able to lay these emergency fields in record- breaking time. When a location suitable for an airfield has been rolled and graded, a device known as a “stamplicker,” towed by a truck, rolls over it strips of burlap material called “Hessian Mat.” These rolls are 100 yards long and 36 inches wide. As they pass through the rollers of the stamplicker, which is towed at a speed between 2-1/2 and 4 miles per hour, they are coated with a 50-50 solution of gasoline and asphalt, called “RC-3 cutback.”

The strips are laid with a 50 percent overlap and their seams are sealed with a special tar compound, the resultant surface having about the same non-skid properties as an asphalt highway. If it is desired to make them even more skid-proof, the seams are left unsealed and the surface is treated with a layer of cutback or diesel oil and an application of sand at the rate of 3 pounds per square yard. Wobble-wheeled, pneumatic-tired tractors are used to imbed the sand in the cutback, excess sand being removed with a rotary sweeper.

A 5,000-foot runway of Hessian Mat requires only 16 hours to build compared to 20 hours required for a temporary one of pieced plank. In addition, it is mud and dust free. Puddles are removed by slicing the mat to allow the water to seep through, and then making a patch repair. Two men can make these and other minor repairs; all they have to do is swab the patch, lay it, walk across it and the patch is laid.

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