Gliders at War

Large gliders, carrying troops and equipment, were used by the Germans, British, and Americans during WWII.  They were towed toward battlefields by airplanes (such as the Dakota, aka the DC-3) where the gliders would release and very quickly land in whatever open field they could find.  The advantage over paratroop assaults was that the equipment and troops could be landed without much dispersion, whereas paratroopers would often find themselves miles from their fellow troops.  The disadvantage of gliders was that the damage rate was VERY high.

DFS_230I have a good friend, Barbara Harding (nee Ziller), who now lives in Austria, but lived here in the US for decades.  She grew up in Stuttgart during the war, with her brother Helmut.  Her father, Erwin Ziller, was one of the German pilots who landed one of the DFS-230 troop carrying gliders on the roof of the Belgian fort Eben Emael in May of 1940.   That very successful assault on what had been considered an impregnable fort caught the attention of the Allies, who promptly developed military gliders of their own. (Ziller later died as a test pilot in one of the Horten flying wing fighters.)


The British developed a large glider, the Horsa, which was used in several assaults, usually as part of a combined US-UK venture. 

The glider produced in largest quantities was the American CG-4.  As a child, i often watched CG-4them being towed in training missions out of an Army airfield, Donaldson Field, in Greenville, SC.  Years later, I was privileged to meet a fellow soaring pilot, Bill Lattin, who had successfully landed one on D-Day. Much later, when the Soaring Society of America held a convention in Oregon, we visited a big aircraftJim Flies CG-4 restoration facility where they had painstakingly restored a CG-4 which was later put on display at a military museum in the midwest.  So I got to sit in the command pilot's seat of this historic machine!