The Google Earth historical imagery of Silverstone has puzzled me for some time. The date given is 1945, written as 12/1945 on the toolbar perhaps indicating it was December. However, I believe on closer inspection that this is not the case. I think it's later.
The aerial photo in question, listed as 1945.
From what I have read, RAF Silverstone remained operational until 1947 and was used by No.17 Operational Training Unit with Wellington bombers. After this time, the RAF stopped using it.
The first racing to take place at the site was by a group of locals in late 1947 and the first sanctioned races in late 1948 by the Royal Automobile Club, who took out a lease on the circuit, and were organised by James Wilson Brown.
In the imagery, the absence of any planes in the dispersal bays seems to suggest that it was not in use by the RAF and therefore post 1945. Furthermore, there are tyre marks on the runway surfaces on the route of the first Silverstone layouts to suggest it has been in use for racing.
Original circuit layout at Silverstone
Copse corner, showing clear tyre marks following a racing line
Runway crossover, showing signs of use at the Seaman and Seagrave corners.
The Maggots Beckets Chapel section, again showing clear tyre marks and also a possible temporary grandstand on the outer edge of the peri-track.
The link between Abbey and Woodcote, the original start line, showing signs of a footbridge and grandstand, as well as a faint line on the inside edge which could be temporary pit structures which I believe would have been scaffold.
Basically, there seems to be significant evidence of use as a racing venue, which did not happen until 1947.
Also, this image from 1949 gives us further information.
This is very clearly showing marks of the revised layout used in 1949. This shows the Google Earth imagery must be before this time.
I therefore think that the image listed as 1945 was actually taken sometime between 1947 and 1948. I have emailed Google about this a couple of times but never received any response, so I thought I would share it here. I hope it is interesting and if anyone has any other information on the matter, then great!
Edited by Ben1445, 19 December 2013 - 15:50.