PLUTO and the Secret Pipeline Network
By Tim Whittle
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This hardback book is a fascinating insight into something entirely unknown to many, the UK's network of petroleum pipelines transport fuel from refineries and terminals to major airports, airfields, and distribution depots. The largest of which has its origins as far back as the Second World War and is one of the few remnants, still operational, of the vast infrastructure that was built to fight that war.
In 1936 the RAF had total fuel reserves that amounted to just 8,000 tons. With a potential war in sight a programme for the construction of protected storage depots was started with the first of these coming on-line in 1939. In total the Air Ministry constructed 78 new storage depots with a total capacity of over 1.6 million tons. Possibly the best-known part of the network are the PLUTO cross channel pipelines. However, they were not as successful as popularly imagined, and the battle of Normandy was won without a drop of fuel being delivered by the pipeline. Immediately after the war most of the government system was decommissioned, but the 'Cold War' led to its reuse. In the 1950s new import facilities, civil storage depots (including large scale fuel reserves located in salt cavities) and pipelines were constructed. Increasing amounts of commercial fuel was also carried, with the system supplying fuel to both Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Following the end of Cold War, many more depots and some pipelines were closed. The use of the network for commercial aviation fuel, increased so new aviation fuel import facilities were connected to the system.
This pipeline network and storage system has constantly adapted, evolved and transformed itself. Fuelling the Wars sets out to chart how the system came to be built, its history and its continuing importance today.
Size: 250x250mm, 270 pages. ISBN: 9780 9928 5546 8