Marston (Marsden) matting or more correctly perforated steel planking (PSP) was a rugged heavy and reliable system that made it possible to turn beaches, muddy plains and the most unlikely places into serviceable airstrips for military aircraft—it helped win the war.
PSP was invented by GG Gruelich, a steel expert with no experience of aviation. It consisted of sheets of corrosion resistant steel 2 m long and .38 m wide. One of the long edges had a series of hooks and the other a series of slots into which these hooks fitted. A feature of the sheets were the eighty-seven holes punched out of them to reduce weight. Each sheet had three rows of twenty-nine holes and weighed 30 kg.
The name Marston matting comes from the town in North Carolina in which they were first produced. This name was often mispronounced Marsden. Developed through the 1930s PSP were proven effective by the US Air Force by 1942 and later became a feature of the many airstrips built in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific region during the Second World War.
After the war strips made of Marston matting continued in use for many years. It found other uses too, roads and bridges were made of them and, bent lengthwise into a shape triangular in cross section, they made excellent fence posts—more durable than timber ones. Cattle yards made with PSP posts and rails in the 1950s and 60s probably still exist in parts of PNG.