Gliders were not a part of the US production capability at the beginning of World War 2. However, needs drove the production of 15,697 units supporting such activities as D-Day and Operation Market Garden. The Waco CG-4 was the most produced at 13,903 units. Like many other US WWII production end items, the Waco CG-4 was manufactured at fifteen locations by multiple manufacturers using licensed plans from the Waco Aircraft Company. The Ford Motor Company of Kingsford, Michigan was the largest producer at 4,190 units at $14,891 each.
The above graph can be downloaded as an image.
Table of Contents
Capture of Fort Eben-Emael, Belgium
Due to the Versailles Treaty, Germany was limited to non-powered aircraft and therefore, developed a familiarity with gliders and glider combat capabilities. On May 10, 1940, German forces utilizing the glider capabilities developed during the interwar years, initiated the invasion of Belgium by landing troops atop Fort Ében-Émael and near three nearby bridges. At that time a state of war did not exist between Germany and Belgium and with the silent approach via gliders, German forces were quickly able to disable key artillery pieces and capture two of the three bridges. These initial actions allowed the German 18th army to bypass Fort Eben-Emael and entry into Belgium proper.
Germany’s deployment of gliders at the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael marked the first time gliders were used in warfare. This German success at Fort Ében-Émael prompted both the US and Great Britain to initiate glider programs. Chief of the US Army Air Corps, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold ordered the development of an assault glider to carry 15 troops. British glider development began shortly after the assault on Eben-Emael. Among the types developed were the 28-trooper Airspeed Horsa and the 7-ton capacity General Aircraft Hamilcar cargo glider. The Hamilcar could carry vehicles, anti-tank guns, and light tanks into action.
Other Significant Glider Operations
Crete – May 20, 1941, 500 German transport aircraft carrying paratroopers and 74 DFS 230 gliders took off from the Greek mainland. During the capture of the island, 5,140 German airborne troops were either killed or wounded out of the 13,000 sent. Among the 350 German planes destroyed in the operation, half had been Ju 52s, which seriously depleted the force needed for the invasion of the Soviet Union shortly after. As a result, Hitler vowed never to use his airborne force in such large numbers again
D-Day – The capture of the Caen Canal and Orne River bridges in Operation Coup de Main was an operation by airborne forces of the British Army that took place in the early hours of 6 June 1944 as part of the Normandy landings of the Second World War.
Operation Market Garden – The landing at Arnhem Bridge to try and seize a bridgehead over the lower Rhine. Out of the 2,596 gliders dispatched for Operation Market Garden, 2,239 were effective in delivering men and equipment to their designated landing zones.
Predawn reinforcements arrived by glider for the 101st Airborne via Operation Chicago and the 82ndAirborne via Operation Detroit. Operation Chicago landed 50 out of an initial 52 gliders into Normandy although much like the 101st paratroopers the landings were scattered with only six units landing in the landing zone and another fifteen within a half-mile.
Operation Detroit carried 220 personnel, 27 light vehicles including 22 Jeeps, 16 57mm anti-tank guns, and 10 tons of various equipment and ammunition. The 82 suffered three killed and 23 wounded. However, half the jeeps and the anti-tank guns are either destroyed or damaged.
Mission Elmira was the third and final assault of the 82nd Airborne Division on June 6, 1944, on Normandy. 36 Waco CG-4A gliders and 140 Horsa gliders towed by 176 Douglas C-47 carrying in total; 1,190 personnel, 24 guns of 105 mm and 75 mm, 13 guns of 57 mm, and 67 Jeeps.
To download the data shown below from which the graph was developed click on the icon below corresponding to you desired format. Note: to ensure all data is downloaded choose the ‘All’ selection in the Show Entries dropdown list. Otherwise only the data visible on the screen will download.
Gliders Accepted by USAAF and US Navy Data
Abstracted from Table PR-15, Crawford and Cook, Statistics: Procurement, p. 77. Source: Holley , Irving Brinton, Jr. “United States Army In World War II Special Studies Buying Aircraft: Materiel Procurement For The Army Air Forces.” 1964, Page 552, Center of Military History United States Army, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 64-60000, https://history.army.mil/html/books/011/11-2/index.html, Data accessed on July 12, 2022
Other Production and Availability Data Links
This website, ww2data.com, has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third party internet websites referenced. Nor does ww2data.com guarantee that any content on such websites are accurate or will remain accurate.