The successful use of airborne forces by the Germans in 1940 prompted Winston Churchill to order the establishment of an equivalent British unit consisting of parachute and glider-borne troops.
Volunteer pilots from the Army started to train on borrowed civilian gliders from September 1940. At the same time, a series of British gliders were designed. They were made mainly from wood and manufactured using mass production techniques in civilian workshops. The first of the gliders to fly was the General Aircraft Hotspur in November 1940. Although it never saw any operational service, the Hotspur was to be used extensively as a training aircraft.
The Airspeed Horsa was the workhorse of the British glider fleet. It could carry 28 fully-equipped troops or 2000 lbs of freight. Horsas were used operationally for the first time during Operation ‘Freshman’ on 19 November 1942. The Operation’s mission was to disable the heavy water plant at Vemork in Norway. Both gliders crashed and none of the soldiers survived the mission.Previous Next
Together with the American WACO CG-4A (Hadrian) glider and the larger, tank-carrying Hamilcar, the Horsa was used for operations in Sicily, Normandy, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing. A number of gliders were shipped to Burma in preparation for an airborne assault against Japanese forces. This plan never came to fruition and March 1945 was the last time British gliders were used operationally.
After the war Glider Pilots that decided to stay in the Regiment were re-trained in ‘Light Liaison’ courses where they learned to fly the Auster aircraft. The Regiment was formally disbanded in 1957 when it was amalgamated with the Air Observation Post Squadrons to form the Army Air Corps of today.Next Previous