Color us surprised! We knew that there were loads of methods of creating air strips quickly during WWII but we had no idea that one of them was basically rolling one out like a carpet! The video below shows a crew of guys from the Canadian Royal Air Force converting a wheat field in France into a functional runway in like 14 hours. How was it done? With what amounts to a carpet of Bitumen infused paper or batting that was laid down with a machine nicknamed a “stamp licker” and then with the use of weighted rollers, squashed down and evened out as much as possible.
Was it the best thing? Probably not but it was the fastest thing and as the Allies advanced across Europe they needed more and more of these little strips for the purposes of moving supplies, refueling airplanes, and keeping the pressure on Germany as they collapsed the fronts of the war all the way back to Berlin.
Someone out there reading this may know what the base material is. Maybe like a Muslin or some other type of strong fabric that they then somehow infused the Bitumen into? The way the stuff is rolled it does not seem too thick and boy does it lay down nice.
Obviously the engineers needed to base this operation on ground that was already good to use. It defeats the purpose if you need to do weeks of site work. The flatness of the wheat field was god enough and then the engineers went to work.
It is crazy that we can continue to learn stuff about WWII on a daily basis.