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They May Come In Gliders

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by Jim, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    In the much threatened invasion of Britain Hitler may be expected to use every means fair or foul, orthodox and altogether novel which may seem to serve his purpose. Among them may well be the employment of troop carrying gliders such as are described in the article given below.

    IF and when Hitler's men come to Britain they will do so by sea in surface vessels, submarines, or amphibious craft and/or by air, when the means employed will include troop-carrying planes and perhaps gliders. The use of the latter opens out interesting possibilities.
    It is suggested that gliders, or even trains of gliders, consisting of two or more linked together, will be drawn in the wake of high-powered troop-carrying aeroplanes. The outstanding advantage of transporting troops by towed glider (as well as in the troop-carrier itself), says a writer in a recent issue of “Flight," is that the number is increased merely by a small reduction of speed. With twenty in the troop-carrier and ten in the glider, the increase in number is 50 per cent, a worthwhile figure. The gliders would be of light construction, wood and canvas chiefly, and of their total weight 37 per cent might represent that of the structure, and 63 per cent that of the men carried. It is suggested that a glider would be able to carry as many as ten fully armed soldiers, each weighing about 160 pounds carrying equipment amounting to another 90, or 250 pounds in all.

    Even if only four or five men were carried by each glider, they would constitute a military unit as compared with the individual parachutist who has to wait for his fellows to join him before he can make an attack in force. Moreover, as the gliders are capable of being guided; several might be made to land in the same field or open space, whereas parachutists are dropped in extended order.
    One great advantage the glider has over the troop-carrying aeroplane is that, whereas the latter requires a large open space free from all obstacles, the glider, landing at as low a speed as 30 M.P.H., can make use of quite small fields or open spaces dotted here and there with trees, ditches, and obstacles of one kind or another. It does not matter in the least if the glider is wrecked, provided its passengers are not hurt or too badly shaken.
    Yet another advantage of this method of troop transport may be mentioned. The glider is not only silent, and so its approach is very difficult to detect particularly at night when, we may assume, it would be most generally if not always used but its pilot can pick up sounds from the ground which in the case of an aeroplane would be completely drowned by the roar of the engine. Gliding noiselessly above the darkened earth, he can hear the sound of marching feet, the rumble of tanks, the clanking of guns, even the shouted orders of direction. With the information thus gained he can come to earth in a spot most vitally dangerous to the defence.

    This picture of German Parachutist jumping into Belgium was one of the first of this method of air invasion to reach Britain.


    "Dead Meat" for the Fighters

    On the other hand, the glider has certain disadvantages. In the first place the cruising speed of the towing aeroplane is reduced from say 140 m.p.h. to 120 m.p.h. This perhaps is not a very serious matter, but the glider itself, when it is cast off by the towing machine somewhere over the coast, is reduced to a speed which may be almost no speed at all, although, if its pilot knows how to take advantage of every favourable current of air, it may succeed in keeping up until it has covered a distance of some 15 or 20 miles. But while in the air it is, of course, the easiest of targets, being both unarmed and unarmoured. It might be shot down by anti-aircraft fire, or if its control cables remained intact and its tail were not shot off', it might at length glide to the ground, when (it is more than likely) it would disclose to the rapidly assembled L.D.V.s a little collection of bullet riddled corpses.

    Such trifling catastrophes would, however, count little with the Nazi air chiefs; what are young Germans for but to be slaughtered for the Fatherland? If the glider method of transporting troops gives promise of being effective, even in only a small way, then it may well be that it will be tried.
    It is not without interest to the defenders of Britain, then, that (if report speaks true) the Germans for some weeks past have been assembling a fleet of gliders at Vaernes, the aerodrome near Trondheim on the Norwegian coast; and maybe they are busy on this project at other points much more reasonably situated on the opposite coast to ours.

    July 1940

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