An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team is in place at the former Manston Airport for the second time in as many weeks after reports that a pipe mine has been found. Works are taking place in the area as part of ‘Operation Stack’, an overflow lorry park to hold lorries caught in tailbacks at Dover anticipated in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
At the beginning of WWII, RAF Manston (amongst several other airfields) was equipped with pipe mines, which could be detonated in the event of an enemy invasion to prevent their use of the airfield facilities.
Often crudely made devices, the pipes were approximately 100mm (4in) in diameter and up to 55m (180ft) long, bored roughly horizontal beneath critical infrastructure such as airfield runways, or angled between ten and thirty degrees into river banks in places were invasion forces may land.
Pipe mines were not usually installed individually. The preferred method was to overlap them, usually in a grid pattern at intervals.
The pipes were filled with explosives and usually a sensitive fuzing mechanism. With nitro-glycerine or Polar Blasting Gelignite (PBG) being the primary component, over time, these devices can become increasingly unstable.
It is understood that the previous visit of the EOD team to the former airport was to remove practice shells.