From the album: "WWII Photos by Lt Jay L Powell" by Charleen Powell-Hill . If you have Facebook, you can view more photos. Photo used with permission.
Hardstand at Horham. Photo by Richard Flagg. Copyright Richard Flagg 2009 and used with permission.
B-17s at air bases in Europe each parked on a hardstand, for the most part. I'm sure there were exceptions. A hardstand was a circular parking area that allowed the B-17 to turn around as needed. The individual hardstands were dispersed around the edges of the perimeter taxi strip, which in turn was connected to the main runways. Often, the aircraft ground crews would erect a tent or other structure so that they could have a warm or dry place to go while working on the aircraft. Sometimes, these crews even slept in them because it was easier than going to their distant barracks.
What got me thinking about hardstands was an excellent aerial photo from British aviation/military photographer Richard Flagg. Richard took this photo of one of the only remaining hardstands at the 95th Bomb Group's base at Horham, Suffolk. I'd been intrigued by them since I walked across one (perhaps the same one?) when I was at Horham in 2008. I tried to imagine a B-17 Flying Fortress towering over me, to hear its engines, and watch as the pilot saluted the ground crewmen as he began his taxi to the runway and another dangerous mission. The hardstand was cracked, and weeds sprouted up betwen the panels. Vibrant red poppies danced in the light breeze, and a steady drizzle fell on the quiet English countryside.
The top photo was sent to me by Charleen Powell-Hill, whose dad was a B-17 pilot in the 100th Bomb Group, stationed at Thorpe Abbotts, Suffolk. The bottom photo is Richard Flagg's photo of the 95th hardstand.