Flying Horsa Glider in the UK?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by old_bloke, May 4, 2012.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  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.
  2. dockers

    dockers Old-Salt Book Reviewer

  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?
    • Like Like x 1
  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:

    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.
  9. Cheers. I don't know how I'd feel about being trained up in a large unpowered disposable aircraft!
  10. 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.
  13. Horsa's into homes :)

    Last edited: May 10, 2016
  14. What a great video Speedy, warry sheds, how ally is that?
  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.