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Flying Horsa Glider in the UK?

#1
Is there one ? As it is going to be flying over Ludlow on the 30th June.

Two WW 2 aircraft will take part so Im guessing the other will be a DC 3.
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#3
Not far from where I'm typing this, are two former WW2 airfields that were used as launching pads for OVERLORD, MARKET GARDEN and VARSITY. The locals still talk of seeing Horsas and their tugs, filling the sky on those 3 operations. Rumours were that a local farmer used a Horsa fuselage for box storage, for many years after the war.

Others tell stories of plundering the gliders that came down on training exercises, for the dingies and other interesting stuff!

Be great to see a Horsa flying again - but would it be a bit of nightmare to get CAA certification?
 
#4
There are no original Horsa Gliders intact and even parts of are relevantly rare due their construction and use (or should that be abuse?). There are two being built, one at Shawbury in Shropshire (Home) and the other at the 'Silent Wings Museum' Lubbock Texas in the US. Neither of which are or were ever intended to be airworthy. So I don't know where this story originated or to which Horsa it applies.

I did on occasion help my dear old dad at Shawbury when he was a volunteer for the Assault Glider trust. They did (and are probably still) doing a grand job on building a 1:1 replica, but I would run a mile in the opposite direction as soon as anyone suggested getting it airborne, much as I'd love to see one flying one day. These two replicas are never going to fly.
 
#5
I have to ask this, in the spirit of being a nosy bugger who likes to know the answers.
What was the policy regarding the recovery/reuse of gliders during WWII? Given that the aim of them was to be landed roughly behind enemy lines, on rough-ish ground (often rendering them un-airworthy) and then be abandoned was there a unit whoes sole job it was to come along later on and dismatle/scrap them? Or was there no plan and they were just to be left in situ for the locals to loot/pillage/strip/dispose of?
 
#6
The Horsa was more or less a single use disposable hairyplane, built as you would imagine from plywood and balsa. Some that didn't get used were sold off and turned into prefab houses (it's on Youtube somewhere.)
 
#7
There is an interesting page here containing some great facts, if you can excuse the poor spelling and layout that is: http://www.fiddlersgreen.net/models/aircraft/Airspeed-Horsa.html

Operation Varsity was more costly to Allied airborne than the invasion of Normandy. By early evening of March 24, in eight short hours, our airborne forces had suffered 819 killed, 1,794 wounded and 580 missing in action. Over six dozen glider-towing planes were shot down. Seventy glider pilots were killed and 114 wounded or injured. British and American glider-recovery teams found later that less than 25 percent of the gliders landed unscathed.
About 6,000 American glider pilots were trained. Almost 14,000 CG-4A's were built; about 3,600 were used in combat overseas.

Glider-rider and glider-pilot casualties were estimated at 40 percent for some missions. Specially trained glider-assault regiments were part of the U.S. 11th, 13th, 17th, 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. (British glider-assault teams were assigned to Air Landing Brigades, each equivalent in strength to a U.S. regiment.)

The 11th Airborne spearheaded Operation Gypsy Task Force, a glider-para drop attack on Japanese installations on Luzon, the Philippines. In the China-Burma-India Theater were glider units-assigned to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Air Commando Groups - which flew British troops into battle behind the Japanese lines.
So there were dedicated glider recovery units then. Thats a lot of dismantling and shipping!
 
#8
Horsa gliders were more or less a 'once only use' item, on ops at least. During training where the landing zones were more than likely airfields, they would be expected to be reused. In fact, the pilot could, if he thought the landing area could have wire fences or other obstructions likely to cause his landing to be a little 'ropy', jettison the undercarriage and rely on a spring loaded skid in the center of the fuselage to reduce the chance of flipping over. This could have proved interesting for the 'rear gunner' who was laid prone in the tail section, facing aft. At least they were supposed to be, I wouldn't have liked to have been there for any landing, with wheels or skid.

Being built of wood with plywood skin, any hard landing would have rendered the airframe u/s so recovery after an operation was not deemed practical. Locals would have stripped them of anything useful and there was a Dutch woman who was living in one up to the 1970s. There are photos of her 'house' on display in the Assault Glider Project hanger.
 
#10
The Horsa was more or less a single use disposable hairyplane, built as you would imagine from plywood and balsa. Some that didn't get used were sold off and turned into prefab houses (it's on Youtube somewhere.)
There was an eccentric old woman in our village who lived in such a fuselage when I was a child.
 
#11
A very good point Speedy, and if you watch any videos of Horsas coming in to land you'd think even more so. Flaps the size of barn doors and descending at very near vertical pulling up at the last moment..... just plain scary!
 
#12
I have somewhere a book on glider pilots, the training was somewhere to the hard side of commando training and kiddy stuff like that (comparatively) I believe the underlying philosophy was UK pilots, landed and fought with the troops, whereas the US landed and were recovered ASAP, if the situation allowed. It has been awhile since I read it so any mistakes are mine.

The author described a set of staging flights across the Med prior to the invasion of Sicily, so I would guess that they were designed to be re-used when possible.

It mentions in Band of Brothers, or one of Ambrose's other books that US glider troops were not volunteers and received no extra pay until after D-Day. Certainly the US paras who had a cabby in a glider thought the whole thing to be thoroughly dangerous.
 
#15
Soldiers of the Glider Pilot Regiment did fight with the units they delivered as they were normally surrounded, and anything else would be pointless. They were however issued with special passes, and as soon as the relief forces broke through, used these passes to make their way back to the rear as soon as practicable. They were highly trained and highly valued and not kept at the front for any more time than necessary, even if some of them wanted to stay.
 
#17
We used to play in the front section of a Horsa as kids. It was used as a chicken coop but still had an intact cockpit; Despite my attempts to rip the instruments out of it :). Apparently it was taken away by some museum bods, this was about 25 years ago.
 
#20
There are no original Horsa Gliders intact and even parts of are relevantly rare due their construction and use (or should that be abuse?). There are two being built, one at Shawbury in Shropshire (Home) and the other at the 'Silent Wings Museum' Lubbock Texas in the US. Neither of which are or were ever intended to be airworthy. So I don't know where this story originated or to which Horsa it applies.

I did on occasion help my dear old dad at Shawbury when he was a volunteer for the Assault Glider trust. They did (and are probably still) doing a grand job on building a 1:1 replica, but I would run a mile in the opposite direction as soon as anyone suggested getting it airborne, much as I'd love to see one flying one day. These two replicas are never going to fly.
I am not an expert on this subject matter, but Plant-Pilot has caused me to bring in my two'pennorth.

Way back when I was a young REME tech (2007!) I was sent on detachment for a few months to Shawbury. A mate of mine and I were sent there to help the old boys rebuild a Horsa Glider. Obviously, it was a very long project and a labour of love, and we spent most of the time enjoying the laid-back RAF environment, getting pissed. We even managed to get marched in front of the Station WO as my mate had decided to scrawl a few choice remarks about the RAF REGIMENT on an (interior) wall of the permanent staff accommodation.

The old boys had been gifted an entire hangar to be cracking on with their fun. The people involved were brilliant. Absolute fanatics, many of them quality tradesmen, with an unbelievable historic knowledge. I can only hope one of them was your old man, Plant-Pilot!

Seriously though, absolutely humbled by these people who were devoting every spare moment to keep alive a piece of history that many are unaware of. they had many other completed projects holed up there too, all 1:1 scale, including a Huwey and an old US jeep that we begged them daily to allow us to rag around the place.

I really hope they're still going, but that Horsa MUST be finished by now?
 

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