A WWII pipe mine has been destroyed in a controlled explosion after being found at Solent Airport, the former HMS Daedalus airfield on the Hampshire coast. An exclusion zone was put in place whilst an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team assessed the device overnight.
The find, given the airfield’s history, is not a huge surprise.
At the beginning of WWII, HMS Daedalus (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 (4″) 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.
In 2006, 20No. mines were found at the airfield (at least 265No. are known to have been originally laid). This was in spite of several previous operations to remove the remaining devices. It remains to be seen whether this latest discovery is the last, although contractors at the site are likely to be on high alert from now on.