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Zc 250 at Brest - Guipavas, the story of the restoration


C6_Claymore
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C6_Claymore

Hello Everybody,

 

I would like to present my work on the restoration of a German concrete training bomb that had been lying dormant in a bunker for about 80 years.

 

Working at "Brest-Brittany" airport after my military career in the Navy, since I was a kid I'm very, very, very interested in the second world war and particularly its aviation, it is quite naturally that I looked into the history of the infrastructures of my work place where I worked at the runway assistance for a good ten years before landing at the Technical Operations Department and more precisely at the green spaces, grassy strips, fences, gates etc... following health concerns.

 

With this new feature I can now go anywhere on the ground and touch what I could only do with aerial photos until now.

 

A little history to set the scene.

 

"Camp Lanrus" as it was called during the First World War, located north of the town of Guipavas, was a Marine Air Station consisting of two huge airship hangars, 200 meters long and 20 meters high, which could house up to three Chalais-type airships, housing, various barracks and technical facilities such as a hydrogen production plant. When the United States entered the war in 1917 and tens of thousands of men landed in the port of Brest, the American Navy and some of its airships moved to Lanrus, a little further north of the French installations.

 

A part of the French installations:
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The French hangars on the right and the American camp on the left:
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After the First World War, the Navy lost interest in Guipavas, preferring the site of Lanvéoc-Poulmic. The French hangars were abandoned, the American installations were dismantled and all the land of Lanrus returned to the moor.

 

In 1927, the first plane landed on the Guipavas site, still a military site and owned by the state. From that date on, under the impetus of the vice-president of the Brest Chamber of Commerce who actively campaigned for the creation of a large airfield in Brest, in 1935 the site was finally opened to civilians, because until then it was located in an area forbidden to civilian aircraft, as was the rule around strategic points, of which Brest's military harbour was, and still is, no exception.

 

In 1936, the State, while keeping the ownership of the land, gave the use of it to the Chamber of Commerce which could start the works, a 30 meters hangar, the Estiot hangar which still exists (but not in the same place) was built as well as a club house, with bar, bathrooms and rooms for visiting airmen.

 

In 1937, the Guipavas airfield was definitively opened to public air traffic.

 

Then came the Second World War, the German offensive of May-June 1940 and the consequences that we know with the beginning of a long occupation, the German troops arrived in the region of Brest around the 18th of June pushing back in front of them what was left of the English expeditionary corps which reembarked in a hurry in Brest while most of the port installations were sabotaged and mainly the fuel depot of Maison Blanche which was going to burn for several days.
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The occupying forces moved in and took over the Guipavas airfield, which became the "Flugplatz Brest-Nord".

 

Here is a picture taken on board an Hs-126 on July 14, 1940 (sic) by Lt Wolter of the 4 (H) 22 Aufklärungsgruppe
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We can see the only airship hangar still standing and the adjoining facilities, a storm having brought down the second one in 1928, to the south the hydrogen production plant, and to the right in the delimited area the Estiot hangar and the club house.

 

In July-August 1940 the Stab/Kg40 took up residence and regularly left to bomb England.
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On this last photo we can see the Festung Pionniers who started the construction of the infrastructures which were to be delivered to the Luftwaffe and which consisted of a concrete runway 600m long by 30m wide (beginning of March 41, end of spring 42) of various taxiways, hangars and shelters for planes of various sizes, defence bunkers, ammunition bunkers, Command Post, infirmary, barracks etc.. ... the surface of the land was extended and to do this the hamlets of Penfrat, Lanrus, Kereller and Baralan were destroyed, sometimes the occupants were given only 48 hours to pack their bags as was the case at Lanrus... the land was leveled once again and all drained.

 

Here a remnant of a drainage system, a square concrete pit with the same steps found in all German bunker escape routes, leaves little doubt as to its origin:
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During discussions with other aviation enthusiasts, I had heard that somewhere on the ground, in a bunker, a German concrete training bomb remained. But for that, I had to know which bunker it was and, above all, where it was located.

 

After the landing of June 6, 1944 in Normandy, the fighters present in Brest-Guipavas evacuated the area to go to Angers in order to get closer to the new front. Brest-Guipavas was then used by the logistics of the Kriegsmarine, when the Allied advance became unstoppable, an order was given on August 1st 1944 to evacuate and destroy all the installations in Vannes, Lorient, Brest-sud and Brest-nord. Everything was sabotaged once, and then a second time after the war by the mine-clearers, who used the bunkers to blow up everything without risk.

 

That was the case for this R622 which probably used as command post of Brest-nord.
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And it was on the first visit inside that I located the bunker, it was on that day, April 5, 2016, I saw the concrete bomb for the first time unfortunately drowned in 60cm of water, but the bunker was located !
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The bunker having been emptied of its water I went back there, the bomb became much more accessible and it is at this moment that I decided to take it out and to restore it as the Aviatroglo association did at the "Luftwaffe Front Reparatür", in Cravant near the city of Auxerre.
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And after long efforts I finally managed to get the Zc-250 out of its bunker.
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Safe after a first cleaning.
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While waiting for the continuation here is what is a Zc-250.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/15LlHr8CzP16y8tDccLis6LLczxVQb7z8/view?usp=sharing


The restoration can now begin:

 

We see here that the body is damaged, a smoke cell having almost disappeared, as well as a part of the ogive, the empennage is completely folded and attacked by corrosion.
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For the reconstitution of the damaged smoke cells I had to make a wooden form which will be used as mould, I used silicone of bathroom for the catch of form and it is her who gave me the dimensions to make two forms out of wooden.
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For the tail I had to cut it to free space to extract the metal parts embedded in the concrete.

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from the original empennage I had steel sheets cut to the same dimensions, drill the fourty 20mm holes, make the shrouds out of 16mm tube and attach them to the fins to reproduce and reinstall them identically.
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Reconstruction of the damaged smoke housings and the ogive, plugging and smoothing in various places.
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Inserting pieces of wood in the notches of the concrete to reattach the closing plates.
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I took care of the detonator well to extract the remaining locking ring and rethread it, while my son who is a milliner remade new locking rings from the originals.
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Homemade tap to restore the thread

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New locking rings.

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When it was done sealing of the empennage and reconstruction of the tail cone.
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Making a model of a smoke cartridge with plaster, glass tube and kraft paper.
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Multi-support anti-corrosion primer and paint.
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Making a transport cart and loading.
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During the restoration a friend who counts the bunkers at the airfield of Vannes gave me a part of his finds made on the ground of which this detonator type El-Az (55) (instant or 14s delay)
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And some time later it is in place in its housing.
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It is currently in my garage waiting to be exposed to the public during the European Heritage Days, if the covid episode leaves us in peace until then.
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Thank you to the courageous ones who read to the end, hoping that this restoration pleases you ;)

Edited by C6_Claymore
Photos link corrected
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