Go-ahead for erection of “Bolt of Lightning” sculpture


PLANNING chiefs at Warrington have given the go-ahead for the erection of a striking memorial sculpture to the role played by the Burtonwood Air Base during and after World War 2.

The 22m high “Bolt of Lightning” sculpture can be placed on a roundabout on Skyline Drive, Burtonwood, members of the borough council’s development management committee have decided.
On the top of the memorial will be a representation of the iconic Lockheed P-38F Lightning fighter, rising to the sky after a dive, leaving trails behind it.
The trails will supported by four independent columns on a large plinth, forming the base of the sculpture. The aircraft will be sculpted in stainless steel and there will be lighting designed to keep the base of the memorial in darkness, giving the impression the aircraft is floating above it.
More than 600 homes are being built, together with shops, a pub and a hotel and the planning consent included an obligation to provide a piece of public art recognising the history of the Burtonwood Air Base.

It is proposed that the lighting will be controlled solely by the astronomical timeclock function which will operate automatically, based on the time of day , such as sunset and sunrise, geographic location and calendar date. It will operate one hour before sunset until midnight.
Location of the sculpture was chosen because it can be seen from the M62 – part of which follows the line of Burtonwood’s main runway.
There will be a viewing area, with information boards and benches.
It is believed the sculpture will create a local landmark, paying homage to the area’s history without any harm to highway safety or visual amenity.
It is hoped the sculpture can be erected in the autumn.
Burtonwood Air Base, officially known as RAF Burtonwood, opened in January 1940 as a storage and servicing centre for the RAF. It was transferred to the US Army Air Force in 1942 and became the largest airfield in Europe. At one time, some 18,000 servicemen were stationed there.
In 1948-49, it played a major role in the Berlin Airlift to support the city’s population after the Soviet Union imposed a blockade. The USAF finally quit Burtonwood in 1965
although the US Army continued to use it into the 1970s.
*The Lockheed P38 Lightning was the only US fighter in large-scale production throughout the whole time of America’s involvement in World War 2.


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