An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

100th Anniversary Logo with the 100 in large letters and the museum logo
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
FREE Admission & Parking

WWII Pierced Steel Planking

The PSP landing mats under the Type F-1A heater and the Bell P-39Q aircraft represent the most commonly used form of World War II prefabricated runway material. They could be joined together with hand tools and provided a hard runway surface even suitable for bombers, where lack of time, materials or equipment prevented the use of normal runway construction methods. Each 10-foot section weighs 64 pounds and the average laying speed was 125 square feet per manhour.

This style of mat was originally known as Marston mat, named for a small town in North Carolina where it was tested operationally during Army maneuvers in November 1941. It was replaced by planking of an improved design after WWII, but the concept is still used by the USAF.

The sand used is from Shemya, one of the Aleutian Islands.

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.


Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Bell P-39Q Airacobra