Mabey’s panel bridge systems have proud and historic roots in one of the major inventions of World War II. The Mabey Universal® and the Mabey Compact 200® are modern, heavy-duty versions of the old Bailey bridge.
During the months preceding World War II, new tanks often weighing up to 35 tons, such as the M3 Grant and M4 Sherman, were developed. This heavy equipment posed problems for an engineer force that had just replaced its Civil War-era 7 ½ ton pontoon bridges with 10 and 20 ton-capacity bridges. Sir Donald Bailey, of Britain’s Royal Engineers, designed the Bailey bridge in 1940 to meet this new requirement. Production began in July 1941, and by December 1941, the Bailey bridge was implemented by soldiers. The production figures are staggering; a total of over 490,000 tons of Bailey bridge was manufactured, representing 200 miles (320 Km) of fixed bridges and 40 miles (64 Km) of floating bridges.
Both American and British generals have sung its praises as one of the key factors in the Allied victory. Indeed, Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery wrote in 1947, “Bailey bridging made an immense contribution towards ending World War II. As far as my own operations were concerned, with the Eighth Army in Italy and with the 21 Army Group in Northwest Europe, I could never have maintained the speed and tempo of forward movement without large supplies of Bailey bridging.” Likewise, General Dwight D. Eisenhower considered the Bailey bridge one of the three most important developments of the war effort, on a par with radar and the heavy bomber.
Today, Mabey’s modern panel bridge systems are used in both military and civilian functions. The Mabey Compact 200® is deployed in hot spots around the world as Line of Communication (LOC) and emergency relief bridging, while DOT’s across the United States turn to the Mabey Universal® to keep traffic moving during bridge rehabilitation and repair. Mabey’s commitment to continuous improvement has resulted in bridge systems that carry heavier loads, while delivering increased stability and faster erection times.