Welcome to the home of the 1/6th scale model Bailey bridge.
This web page is a simple place holder to gauge if there is sufficient interest for a more complete website which may, in time, become a dedicated resource to all things Bailey. In the main we are mostly interested in the 1/6th scale model Bailey Bridge Sets manufactured by Messrs Bassett-Lowke of Northampton, under contract to the British Ministry of Supply, as a training aide for the Royal Engineers. However, we would also like to create a dedicated resource to the design, derivative designs, and uses of Bailey Bridge equipment throughout the last 80 years or so, and utilising the Model Bailey Sets in an instructional role.
These model sets, which initially were designed as an exact replica of the WWII British Army’s Divisional Bailey Bridge equipment, were made for use by the Schools of Military Engineering and the various training battalions of the Royal Engineers. The idea behind the training aids was to reduce the time needed to train Officers and NCO's in the principles of Bailey Bridge construction before letting them loose on the 'big stuff'. Prior to the introduction of these models the only way to familiarise the men with the new bridging equipment was in Bridge training camps which were both difficult and costly to organise, and absorbed a lot of manpower which was urgently needed elsewhere. The use of models as training aids was not a new innovation in WWII and had always been a cornerstone of Royal Engineer practice throughout its history. Indeed the 1942 edition of ‘Regulations for the Equipment of the Army, Part I, General Regulations’ lists Model Sets for S.B.G (Small Box Girder); F.B.E. (Folding Boat Equipment) and ‘Pontoon Equipment’, with both Inglis Bridge Model Sets and Bailey Bridge Model Sets listed but, not yet available. The Pontoon Equipment was available pre-War and the IWM (Imperial War Museum) holds a few photographs showing some exhibits from an ‘Army Exhibition’ which was held at the Science Museum in November 1939. From this, and other photographs in the series, we can estimate that the both the models for the Pontoon Equipment, and the Inglis Bridge, were approximately 1/6th scale, that is to say 2 inches to 1 foot. The F.B.E. Model set was closer to 1/10th scale (1.2 inches to the foot). We can only presume that the S.B.G model was also 1/10th scale, to make it compatible with the F.B.E Model sets. The 1/6th scale Pontoon Set was later upgraded, with re-designed parts, to make it more compatible with the 1/6th Scale Bailey Bridge Model set when it became available. The IWM catalogue numbers for the relevant photographs are: ARMY TRAINING 13/26 and H 20745.
The various Model Bailey Bridge Sets were manufactured between 1944 and 1957 and are mostly constructed from a semi-hardwood, with brass fittings at various stress points, and includes various other brassware accessories, such as panel pins and sway braces etc. The first 70 sets of the Basic ‘Type A’ set were ordered towards the end of 1943 but the models were not actually delivered to the RE until late in 1945. Thereafter the Directorate of Engineers Equipment continued to order more, as the need arose, between 1944 and the late 1950's when the Royal Engineers began to replace Bailey Bridging equipment with Heavy Girder Bridge, and thereafter with Medium Girder Bridge. It should be noted that Bassett-Lowke also made 1/6th scale training aids for the HGB and, in the late 1960’s, a firm called Miltra made training aids, in 1/12th scale, for the MGB.
Following on from the Basic ‘Type A’ set, for the Bailey bridge, which was designed to replicate the 80 ft Divisional Bridging equipment, Bassett-Lowke were then tasked, in 1947, with manufacturing a ‘Type B’ SWBB (Standard Widened Bailey Bridge) Conversion Set. This was followed-up with a ‘Type C’ Pontoon Set and a ‘Type D’ Crib Set. In total there were seven different sets made and these ranged from the Basic Bailey Bridge Sets, with a SWBB conversion element, and labelled A- D. These initial four sets were followed, in 1951, with the manufacture of Model Sets for EWBB (Extra Wide Bailey Bridge) Conversion sets labelled E - G. These were the basic EWBB Conversion set, 'Type E'; followed by the EWBB Pontoon Set, 'Type F'; and the EWBB Crib Set, 'Type G'.In addition to the ‘official EWBB Conversion Sets’ there were also at least two unofficial EWBB conversions sets made by Bassett-Lowke. It would seem that initially Bassett-Lowke, who were receiving enquiries from overseas for EWBB conversion sets, were frustrated by the prolonged absence of any official guidance from the Ministry of Supply on just what these new conversions sets should contain. Lacking any formal guidance, Bassett-Lowke formulated their own 'unofficial' sets of EWBB models and based the contents on what they considered to be the most likely specifications.
The existence of these sets has only recently become known to us and we are still trying to track down a full schedule of contents for them. However, what is apparent is that the existence of these sets was short-lived, possibly from 1952 - 1957. Confusingly these sets share a somewhat similar designation to the official sets in that they are labelled Sets G & H (Bassett-Lowke skipped E & F, possibly because they suspected the Ministry of Supply might bring out some sets of their own). The Unofficial 'G' Set was designed as a standard EWBB Conversion set (contents for this set was based on some ad-hoc model EWBB parts the Ministry of Supply had previously ordered), whilst the 'H' Set was designed as an EWBB Crib set, and made to Bassett-Lowke's own specification. The absence of an unofficial EWBB Pontoon set would seem to indicate that Bassett-Lowke presumed that the existing Pontoon Set, 'Type C', would work perfectly well with the EWBB sets. This of course was wrong as the 'Type C' Pontoon Set was predicated on basic Bailey and SWBB, which meant that some parts, especially those parts for Class 70 bridge construction, would not work with EWBB. In fact a certain amount of confusion about the essential differences between SWBB and EWBB can be detected in some of the official histories of Bassett-Lowke.
When the Ministry of Supply finally published official schedules of contents for the EWBB model sets, in 1955, they were unaware of Bassett-Lowke's unofficial sets and, following on from the original A - D sets, they designated three new, official, EWBB sets as E - G, with the 'Type G' set being the official EWBB Crib Set. For a while there was a communications black-spot between Bassett-Lowke and the MOS. Bassett-Lowke remained unaware of the newly specified schedules and continued to offer their own unofficial EWBB sets labelled G & H, advertising these sets in their own catalogues. This caused quite a bit of confusion when Bassett-Lowke's unofficial sets failed to tally (both in nomenclature and contents) with the official schedules that had been published in ACI's (Army Council Instructions) and in the relevant Vocabulary of Royal Engineer Stores. Eventually this problem was sorted out and Bassett-Lowke withdrew their own unofficial sets and sold only those sets officially sanctioned by the Ministry of Supply.
We would very much like to track down the relevant documentation for these various 'unofficial' EWBB sets and we are especially keen to have sight of a specific Bassett-Lowke publication called "The Bailey Bridge Model Set Catalogue" which was in circulation circa 1955, and supplied to various customers such as the Royal Australian Engineers and the Royal New Zealand Engineers. At present we have not yet turned up a copy of this catalogue but the search continues. Obviously, if you have a copy of this catalogue we would very much like to have sight of its contents. Whilst we would, eventually, like to obtain a copy of this document we are happy to accept photocopies or images of the pages of this catalogue.
We are also keen to obtain sight of the relevant VAOS, which will hopefully provide a full schedule of the sets. The VAOS we need to see is "Vocabulary of Army ordnance stores, section E2 : bridging equipment, 1945" which includes "amendment no. 1 dated 1947, no. 2 dated 1949, no. 3 dated 1949 and no. 4 dated 1950". Sometime after 1950 the VAOS was replaced with the "Royal Engineers Vocabulary of Stores". This was split into seven significant parts and "REVoS ,Group 4, Section 5, Sub-Section 4: Bridging" would seem to be the section that contains the information we require. This subsection was possibly published in 1955 and carried the War Office Registry code WO 6386. Alternatively, it is possible that "Section V: Special Warlike Stores" may be the publication that contains some information on the models. If you have copies of either of these particular sections then we would dearly like to have sight of any relevant information from them.
Like all British Army equipment during this period these model sets came with their own CES (Complete Equipment Schedule) booklets. Again, we would very much like to see any and all copies of CES documentation related to these wonderful Engineering Models.Over the years we have acquired an extensive collection of the model Bailey bridge sets and we are always interested to obtain more, or simply to know of the existence, and location, of other sets. So, if you have one of these sets, or just the parts of one of these model sets, then please do let us know via the email address at the bottom of this page.
At present we are engaged in ongoing research, into the manufacture and supply of these models, with the view to producing a book which will describe the model in detail. It is also our intention to showcase these wonderful models, utilizing our own collection, by adding a section to the book that will clearly demonstrate how a Bailey Bridge is constructed and also re-construct some of the bridges, and other structures, built by Allied forces throughout the Second World War.
If you have any information that you feel will enhance our research and understanding of these great British engineering models, or simply know where any of these models are located, then please do contact us as we are always keen to hear from anyone who can increase our knowledge of these wonderful models. All contributors will be acknowledged, with thanks, in the forthcoming book .
Finally, at one stage we did plan to manufacture modern sets of these 1/6th scale Bailey bridge models, however this been on hold whilst we awaited the recovery of the world economy . In the meantime a UK company, involved in the RC model tank business, has recently offered for sale a Bailey Bridge engineering kit and this can be obtained direct from them. It is not as detailed as the original Bassett-Lowke model, nor as big a set, but it is 'fairly' representative of the Standard Widened Bailey Bridge. Armortek can be contacted through their website http:\\www.armortek.co.uk
Questions and information for the Model Bailey Bridge team can be sent to: