The M8A1 steel plates, developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, were primarily used for the quick construction of temporary runways. These plates were extensively used during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly in army aviation for basing helicopters, light attack aircraft, and surveillance aircraft. They frequently appear in photographs from the period.
Each slab, measuring 3660 x 560 mm, featured a hard-corrugated surface that facilitated effective rainwater drainage. The US Army engineering units were responsible for their installation. The slabs could be connected in a staggered pattern or in a row, allowing for the construction of both small sites and large airfields.