Bessonneau Hangars at Kenley

In January 1987, one of Britain’s last surviving Bessonneau hangars collapsed under the weight of heavy snow at Kenley. It was used by 615 VGS to store their gliders.

The Bessonneau hangar was originally devised by the French Company, Etablissements Bessonneau around 1910, as a portable canvas and wood tent for aircraft storage. By the beginning of the Great War they were widely used by the French Aeronautique Militaire and were subsequently adopted by both the RFC and RNAS, often as temporary storage while permanent hangars were under construction, which is exactly how they were used at Kenley during the early days of the Air Acceptance Park in 1918.

Although the easily-assembled steel Bellman hangar came into use in the late 1930’s, Bessonneau hangars continued to be used by the RAF during WW2 and post-war a few survived as glider storage for the Air Training Corps, like the one at Kenley. The last surviving examples were at Odiham, Halton and Weston-Super-Mare. There are now thought to be no original complete Bessonneau hangars in existence in Britain.

Information from our friends at Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust.

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