The bridge design that helped win World War II

12-Mar, 2021
924 787 Ko‘rishlar soni

It’s a simple innovation that helped win a war.
The Bailey bridge was Donald Bailey’s innovative solution to a number of wartime obstacles. The allies needed a way to cross bodies of water quickly, but bombed-out bridges - or an absence of crossings entirely - made that incredibly difficult. That was only compounded by new, heavy tanks that needed incredibly strong support.
Bailey’s innovation - a modular, moveable panel bridge - solved those problems and gave the allies a huge advantage. The 570-pound steel panel could be lifted by just six men, and the supplies could fit inside small service trucks. Using those manageable materials, soldiers could build crossings sufficient for heavy tanks and other vehicles.
As impressive, the Bailey bridge could be rolled across a gap from one side to the other, making it possible to build covertly or with little access to the other side. Together, all the Bailey bridge’s advantages changed bridge construction and may have helped win the war.
Further reading:
John A. Thierry’s contemporaneous history of the Bailey Bridge provides a great overview:
This Army Manual is a great look at how the Bailey Bridge worked:
A number of good papers about the Bailey Bridge are also available, though they sit behind a paywall. You can read Bailey’s account of his bridge:
Denys Begbie and Gwilym Roberts’ paper is a great summary of the Bailey Bridge’s achievements.
The same goes for CJH Joiner’s history:
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  • The Bailey Bridge is one of many creative designs used in war - check out our earlier video about the dazzle ships of World War I. -Phil

    VoxVoxOy oldin
    • Do a video on churchill's toy shop.

      Curtis CarpenterCurtis Carpenter23 kun oldin
    • Meccano for big boys.

      hognoxioushognoxious25 kun oldin
    • I want to know more about the dangerous fish! Why were they important to know about during the war?

      trshxgod *trshxgod *26 kun oldin
    • I grew up in a small town in Canada where one of the two main bridges was a Bailey, and always referred to as such. It lasted about 40 years and it was probably assembled in a day.

      Doug VinkleDoug Vinkle29 kun oldin
    • @Sigmund Lisiza The Bridge is the Hohenzollernbrücke in Cologne. To up the confusion, there is a place in Southern Germany called Hohenzollern, where the family that wound up kings of Prussia and emperors of Germany, originated.

      David Von FakenameDavid Von Fakename29 kun oldin
  • my grandfather helped build many of these in Italy during WW2... still see the design used as temporary bridges on highways while road crews replace older ones.

    devondevonSoat oldin
  • German war on Eastern front is often overlooked as one of the major factors in allied winning the war.

    ee3 kun oldin
  • to remember whe drinking Baileys Irish Cream

    marc amantmarc amant4 kun oldin
  • Engineer at the Experimental Bridging Establishment is a wild job title lol

    hydroxide87hydroxide874 kun oldin
  • Wow, My Grandfather built these Bailey Bridges in Europe during WW2. First in Africa, then Italy to France and Belgium and finally Germany! He was building a bridge for General Patton over the Rhine River and was taking strafing Fire from the Luftwaffe while they built it.

    Marty MooseMarty Moose5 kun oldin
  • Erm, surely the Imperial ton was/is heavier than a metric tonne!

    Marcus GaultMarcus Gault5 kun oldin
  • Those women weren't working on it, they were only posing with it.

    zkemo 04zkemo 045 kun oldin
  • Biggest ikea furniture ever

    Creative 8DCreative 8D5 kun oldin
  • I stoped the gernade that blew up American generals You didn’t hear if it? That’s why

    Creative 8DCreative 8D5 kun oldin
  • Eisenhower must have been havering when he said 'along with radar and the heavy bomber, the Bailey bridge was one of the most important technical advances of WW2' .What about German rocketry and the nuclear bomb? Or maybe he was just being nice to the Brits, because both of the others were, at least initially, British developments as well.... and Eisenhower was the supreme military diplomat.

    graham laitgraham lait7 kun oldin
  • Actually Bailey designed the bridge before Ingliss's failed - because he knew it would fail. He did that without official sanction. We lived next door to MEXI where Bailey worked and the bridges were developed.

    Simon HumbySimon Humby10 kun oldin
  • I believe that the bridge had some assistance in winning the war.

    inyobillinyobill10 kun oldin
  • I love your videos! I've learned so much. Do you think you could make a video about why multi-storey apartment heating is poorly designed and results in swelteringly hot apartments all winter?

    Katie StottKatie Stott12 kun oldin
  • My Dad was in the Royal Engineers during WW2. His unit built many of these bridges including a Bailey pontoon bridge over the Rhine.

    Robert LangfordRobert Langford12 kun oldin
  • At Fort Leonard Wood Missouri in 1970 I helped build a Bailey bridge along with 250 other men across an 80 foot gap and they drove a 5 ton truck a crossed it 28 minutes later

    joemc111joemc11112 kun oldin
  • There's a Bailey in daily use less than a mile from where I live- they're all over Ontario, some that are three layers high on road projects.

    Lawrence LewisLawrence Lewis12 kun oldin
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    Olga ArellanoOlga Arellano12 kun oldin
  • We used to drive across one of these temporary bridges over the River Mole near Dorking, Surrey, England in the 1960s. I wonder if it is still there?

    as400techmanas400techman14 kun oldin
  • 4 man lift parts, Not 6.

    kelsey palaniukkelsey palaniuk14 kun oldin
  • In the 1970's I lived in a small town in UK. At that time a war time Bailey bridge was still the main access route to the town.

    Bob JacksonBob Jackson15 kun oldin
  • NY Times must have not known about the Soviet T-34

    Michael WallbrownMichael Wallbrown15 kun oldin
  • Nice video but 29seconds n you show 40 tons as 36 metric tonnes, not correct! British or Imperial ton is 2,240 pounds, Metric Tonne is 1000Kg or 2,200 pounds so 40 tons is about 40.6 metric tonnes. With the U.S. or 'Short Ton' being exactly 2000 pounds.

    Stephen RoseStephen Rose15 kun oldin
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    Michele CarrollMichele Carroll15 kun oldin
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    Mike ToppsMike Topps17 kun oldin
  • Or it could have been the fact that the allies had broken the axis code in the wars early stages

    Peter WilliamsonPeter Williamson17 kun oldin
  • These are still used today for temporary replacement in disasters, and for temp use while new construction is being done.

    Dark StormyDark Stormy17 kun oldin
  • MEXE was in Christchurch, Dorset. Opened in 1919 all that is left now is the guardhouse, there is a small section of the Bailey Bridge on the roundabout outside. It should not be forgotten that this establishment also designed many of the most extraordinary pieces of equipment for the army and also systems for the armed forces to follow to give them a tactical advantage.

    vulgivaguvulgivagu17 kun oldin
  • Excuse me! The American Army put up with the under gunned, under armored Sherman for two reasons: It was fast and it would cross over the existing bridges which allowed them to chase the German retreating forces. Patton specified that the only acceptable tank would be fast, light enough to use existing roads, fit through the town streets , cross the present bridges and could be built by the hundreds. Otherwise we would have used our Heavy tanks and saved lives........simple.

    My favorite MartianMy favorite Martian18 kun oldin
  • i actually used to go over a Bailey bridge. In 1947 the Shardlow bridge in Derbyshire was washed away and replaced by a Bailey bridge. we had relatives in Derby and used to cross the bridge on the way to visit them. the traffic flow was limited and so was the speed . i used to both love traveling over the bridge and was scared it would collapse. it was replaced in 1957 when i was 10 and i was most disgruntled.

    john howittjohn howitt18 kun oldin
  • Did anyone else notice that the diagram about 2:24 has eight lifting the section? Excellent bridge, video and content.

    Paul BorkPaul Bork18 kun oldin
  • In Deventer, Holland, over the river the ijssel stands a Bayley 1945-1982 , 33 years, one track railway , for the most havy trains , thanks Donald! Since ,82 a new bridge was build and placed! I

    Rinus de BoerRinus de Boer19 kun oldin
  • You conversion rate is faulty. A ton is 2240 lbs, whereas a metric tonne is 1000 x 2,2 = 2200 lbs.

    BrightstarlivesteamBrightstarlivesteam19 kun oldin
  • They're still in use today, not just in the military but where a bridge gets washed out they allow a short term replacement to be built in a few days.

    jwboatdesignsjwboatdesigns19 kun oldin
  • Impressive functional design!

    Cor GravelandCor Graveland19 kun oldin
  • The 1986 edition of FM 5-277 Bailey Bridge, still gives the history of the bridge and Donald Bailey

    Mark DavisMark Davis19 kun oldin
  • When I was a child there was a Bailey bridge across a river near my home. I think it was a replacement for a bridge that had been destroyed by the Germans and it made a loud noise as vehicles drove across its wooden planl decking. It was a local landmark but the thing that just surprised me was discovering that its name was the name of the its inventor.70 years ago I just thought it was a place name like Waterloo Bridge or London Bridge.

    John KingJohn King19 kun oldin
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    Hugh TranHugh Tran19 kun oldin
  • Succinct, well presented and informative, thank you.

    russell eganrussell egan19 kun oldin
  • When the bridge (The Tasman Bridge) linking the eastern and western parts of the city I live in (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) was partially demolished by a ship collision in the 1970s, a Bailey Bridge was constructed up river. It spanned a significant distance. I remember as a child driving over the bridge, and how it used to rattle. It served the city well for a number of years, until the bridge could be repaired, and was eventually replaced by a permanent bridge.

    Van Der Lay IndustriesVan Der Lay Industries19 kun oldin
  • My fathers unit assembled those Bailey bridges during WW2 - ROYAL ENGINEERS 20th FIELD SQUADRON great informative video thank you ! Would build pontoon bridges too !

    Stephen BirksStephen Birks19 kun oldin
  • Aluminium not Alumium lol

    burb burb VETAvso1214burb burb VETAvso121420 kun oldin
  • We use some of these as permanent road bridges in New Zealand’s west coast 😄

    Kiwi MakerKiwi Maker20 kun oldin
  • Spent several weeks learning to deploy the Bailey Bridge at Fort Belvoir, VA. Took quite a bit of engineering to launch successfully.

    skunkhomeskunkhome20 kun oldin
  • Six men, three round pieces of wood, the wood sits on the inside of your elbow, lift and trot. Line up the bottom pin then lift and insert the top one. Done it, if you are in the middle over rough ground you can end up with 200 pounds each. Thank heavens for the heavy version that needed a crane. Still a brilliant design even if the British army declared it obsolete 50 years ago.

    Martin PookMartin Pook20 kun oldin
  • During hurricane Hazel, Toronto lost a number of bridges. And the Bailey bridge was used in a number of locations. In fact I drove over one last week. 60 years and still strong.

    M JM J20 kun oldin
  • Watch "A Bridge Too Far" to see a Bailey Bridge constructed. Many Bailey Bridges later found their way to other third world countries, many are still in use today.

    Bad Kitty No Milk TonightBad Kitty No Milk Tonight20 kun oldin
  • "Is the baliey's bridge one of the most important things in WW2? Its hard to say". Me: *clicks out of the video*

    Iyoow AbukarIyoow Abukar21 kun oldin
  • A great British design

    Hoa TattisHoa Tattis21 kun oldin
  • The fact is people were still being trained no how to use a Bailey Bridge in the US military in the 1980's

    John McMickleJohn McMickle21 kun oldin
  • I think - just from reading the comments - that this bridge still has a place serving as an emergency bridge all over the world. And there is no doubt it is in every country's military playbook as a tool when needed. A design that has proven useful for the ages - like the arch.

    Julie EnslowJulie Enslow21 kun oldin
  • There's a Bailey bridgestill in use along Kenon road at Bued canyon on your away to Baguio city.

    Ernie LaraErnie Lara21 kun oldin
  • i built a few of them in my day in the army

    Stuart FarrellStuart Farrell21 kun oldin
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    Frankn HamFrankn Ham21 kun oldin
  • 6 people or 6 men could lift it?

    mdesm2005mdesm200522 kun oldin
  • Thanks so much

    John AugsburgerJohn Augsburger22 kun oldin
  • You never know who the hero will be.

    Eric HurstEric Hurst22 kun oldin
  • Bailey Bridges are genius design. I have carried out a condition assessment on a Bailey bridge built by British Garrison in Hong Kong using War Time surplus material few years ago. The Bridge was approx 30m span with 30 ton vehicle loading capacity (actually tank load according to the design manual). The local authority worries the bridge was too old and unable to cope with local development (too many heavy traffic now). The bridge was in good condition with proper maintenence works at the time of inspection, which looks exactly the same type shown in this video. According to the design manual, the rectangular steel frame can be configured in various version. 1. LHS/RHS - single side frame. 2. LHS/RHS - double side frame 3. LHS/RHS - double side x double deck frame The more the frames, the longer the span of the bridge or the higher load capacity of the bridge. Very handy structural engineering application during war-time.

    Brian HoBrian Ho22 kun oldin
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    Claudio RodriguezClaudio Rodriguez22 kun oldin
  • Those bridges are a mainstay in the provinces here in the Philippines!

    Gilbert SantosGilbert Santos23 kun oldin
  • I'm sure someone is offended by the term "man-power." This video will be canceled soon! 🙄

    Jesse KJesse K23 kun oldin
    • Nah

      EAMEAM13 kun oldin
  • Please tell me that he got a medal or a knighthood .

    big bob 169big bob 16923 kun oldin
  • Churchill toy shop was full of ideas about bombs, gadgets etc. The baily bridge, churchill tank, I salute you.🧠🤯

    Curtis CarpenterCurtis Carpenter23 kun oldin
  • Do you know a "metric ton" has a name? It's a "tonne" . Simple.

    Gribbo9999Gribbo999923 kun oldin
  • Good old British engineering...the factory is in Christchurch, Dorset

    Andy CAndy C23 kun oldin
  • tons = tonnes

    manxmanmanxman23 kun oldin
  • Neat

    David HaynesDavid Haynes23 kun oldin
  • As a former combat engineer officer, I came to appreciate the hard work it takes to assemble these by joining in and assembling a couple bridges. This video touches lightly on how you extend span length and load carrying by going single double (side-by -side panels) or double-double (two, side-by-side panels stacked) for which you need a crane. I wonder where they all went. Are they sitting in some depot like Sierra Army Depot? I has been said Donald Bailey breached the patent on the Callender-Hamilton bridge. The only similarity is the pin system to which we best get rid of all threaded bolts. The structural designs are totally different.

    Richard KrollRichard Kroll23 kun oldin
  • What a great history lesson! I really enjoyed that. I had heard of the Bailey Bridge but didn't know anything about it. Now I do. Thanks. Great video!

    Bill LittlejohnBill Littlejohn24 kun oldin
  • Brilliant design and still used routinely all around the world.

    Wal SakalukWal Sakaluk24 kun oldin
  • Britain's main weapon to win the war was the US.

    Gus LandyGus Landy24 kun oldin
  • The world's deadliest tank? Perhaps for its own crew, while engaging a German tank.

    Gus LandyGus Landy24 kun oldin
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    David JarrahDavid Jarrah24 kun oldin
  • Very interesting! They used this type of bridge for temporary rerouting of traffic a few years ago while working on the huge "Turcot" interchange rebuilding/modernizing project in Montréal, Canada. I did not know about the Bailey Bridge concept back then, but I thought it looked like a very sturdy bridge and just loved the concept.

    Dominic BazinetDominic Bazinet24 kun oldin
  • well im glad this person was given a job by vox. We should always help the mentally differently abled.

    TimTim24 kun oldin
  • This brings back memories! When I did my military service here in Sweden 1997-98 I did it as an engineer. Our company was a specialist bridge building company. We soldiers really appreciated this design as it was easy and fast to build. And even though we had some modern equipment at our disposal (like Volvo tractors) we usually used only hand power. Pushing out one of these bridges by hand over whatever obstacle we were facing was a mighty feeling. In Sweden the bridge is known as "balk-bro 2" ("girder bridge 2") which was a constructed name to fit the stamped parts that said "B B m.2". Fatta! Säkra! Lyft! Those were the commands when lifting one of the bridge panels. 3 people on each side holding onto the wooden lifting bars going through the panel. You really had to think about where you placed the people and match up their lengths so that the load was distributed evenly. And don't have your foot under the panel when you set it down, as one of my comrades did...

    Marcus RobertssonMarcus Robertsson24 kun oldin
  • The proximity fuse..and penicillan were also crucial developments

    Barry DavisBarry Davis24 kun oldin
  • I built those during army service as a combat engineer. The transoms weighed 450 lbs. And the panels weighed 400 lbs. It was a lot of work and we spent the night working on one just to dismantle it in the morning.

    DSS1998DSS199824 kun oldin
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  • 'You're welcome America', we invent stuff and build it too.

    David MalcolmDavid Malcolm24 kun oldin
  • 570 pounds divided by six people is still 95 pounds. Most people can’t lift 95 pounds. It seems wild to think especially that skinny World War II soldiers could lift 95 pounds. Is there something I’m missing here?

    Jedi TresJedi Tres24 kun oldin
    • Also he definitely got some info wrong with the stuff he's showing, it shows more than 6 sometimes

      The Bombblows12The Bombblows1224 kun oldin
    • They were building bridges not running across a field to shoot at someone. Usually these bridges would be at safe places. Also would you rather work on a bridge where you don't get shot at or on the battlefield where you have a chance at dying?

      The Bombblows12The Bombblows1224 kun oldin
  • Engineers lead the way!!!

    Luis CurielLuis Curiel24 kun oldin
  • I read an eyewitness account from a Black Watch officer in Holland in 1945. Thet Black Watch advanced and by evening reached were a bridge across the canal which was blown, saw the germans on the other bank. Called the Royal Engineers who started building a Bailey Bridge, at 0430 it was ready , by 0500 all across the bridge and on to the next village were they found the German troops having breakfast.

    Ben WilsonBen Wilson25 kun oldin
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  • We have a fly bridge providing a detour around a bridge being rebuilt. Low and behold it’s a good old Bailey design.

    Kansas City ShuffleKansas City Shuffle25 kun oldin
  • A Mk IV Churchill weighed 39,600 kg ≈ 39 tons (UK) ≈ 43.7 tons (US). While referring to it as a ‘metric ton’ isn’t incorrect, it’s more commonly referred to as a ‘tonne’. Also, the US ton is the Short Ton (2000 lbs) as opposed to the [correct] Long Ton of 2240 lbs.

    John SmithJohn Smith25 kun oldin
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  • Song at 5:10?

    Dr PickleDr Pickle25 kun oldin
  • 0:51 For clarification, This is in Köln (Cologne) The Bridge is called Hohenzollern and it was bombed by germans to hinder allied advances

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  • While here we wait for ages and never live to see a bridge built for pupils and students who walk every day to school in harsh terrains and for long distances with a heavy backpack

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  • The churchill the worlds deadliest tank Tiger: am i joke to you?

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