For a long while now I have dreamt of building a 1:400 scale diaroma based on London's Heathrow Airport as it would have appeared during the period of the mid-late 1970s, to the early 1980s. Whilst the actuality of this dream is still a very long way off, I have been spending some time during the lockdown researching the various structures that make up the maintenance base at LHR, namely the former BEA & BOAC Hangars & the Technical Blocks of British Airways. Some have since been demolished, the Viscount House block being one. Airport Designs have produced some excellent card kits of some of these period landmarks, and I thought I'd have a go at complimenting these kits with designs of my own for the rest of the complex which has not yet been represented. I decided to start with the BEA Servicing Hangar, a.k.a the "Cathedral" hangar now used by British Airways. It was designed by architects Murray Ward & Partners, the structural engineers were Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners, and the steelwork contractors were Braithwaite & Co. Structural Ltd. The hangar is a very distinct landmark at Heathrow, and is an impressive latticed girder design which provides a very extensive clear floor area and considerable clear headroom of 70ft throughout the interior. It was designed to accommodate four of the then new Trident 3B aircraft or two Tridents plus two "airbus-size" aircraft, and was completed in 1972. The roof structure itself, which forms a truncated pyramid, has a total combined weight of 3,200 tons and incorporates enormous diagonal steel trusses which support two 11-ton travelling suspension cranes. The hangar originally had double-skin insulated PVC coated steel sheeting with large areas of the roof covered with translucent sheeting and vertical strips of translucent sheet in the walls and doors to maximise the use of natural light. It has since been re-clad in recent years.
Using various historical photographs and Google Earth to acquire critical information for all the 1:1 dimensions as closely as possible, I have produced a set of graphic designs for a 1:400 scale model of the hangar, replicating the exact detail as closely as possible. It is intended to produce a folding card kit from the designs, very much like those of Airport Designs, thus complimenting their range of kits. Of course I could try and apply the design to 3D printing methods in the future, taking it to the next level of detail, but for the moment I have to be content with the card kit approach. This is still a work in progress but the last 3 weeks of designing have been productive. Once all the drawing work has been completed, I will print a mock-up and test the design to see if it actually works as intended. Tweaks will be made where necessary. If successful I will go on to model Technical Block C, the Brutalist concrete structure elevated on a multi-story carpark situated at Hatton Cross.
I have represented the hangar during the Negus era. Photo records show the rebranding of the hangar took place during July 1975, with work on installing the new corporate identity signage underway on 11.7.1975. I intend to replicate the detail of the signage by printing the logos onto decal paper, applying the printed decals onto plasticard cut-outs, then applying the finished articles onto the hangar itself, lending a genuine 3D texture to the signage. I will do a version with the original "BEA" device applied, to represent that era, and possibly the later Landor & Chatham Dockyard eras.
Here are some screenshots of the work so far. Still lots of interior design detail work to do, but if successful I will consider making these available for download at some point. The only issue is that the length of the shutter housing, at scale, exceed the length of an A4 sheet, thus requiring the use of A3 card stock in order to print those sections as one entire part. I would prefer to have the single whole part but might have to spilt it into two parts to accomodate A4 size.
The final step will be to design the base/footprint for the hangar on a section of apron.