Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Glider Retrieval.

This is coolbert:

In a previous blog entry, I had discussed the use of gliders as a transport for ranger/commando troops employed in a very-long-range special operations type mission. A mission where the use of helicopters would NOT be possible, for a variety of reasons [range, stealth, etc.].

In the modern military, the glider has been rendered obsolete by the use of the helicopter? The latter has the ADVANTAGE of being able to retrieve troops! This a glider CANNOT DO?

For the most part, during World War Two [WW2], gliders were considered to be expendable items. Towed to the landing zone, glide to earth, land, disembark troops, and abandoned. But NOT TOTALLY SO!

Efforts were made to retrieve gliders from a landing zone. This was especially true in the China-Burma-India [CBI] theatre? And there were successes? This was called "The Snatch"!

Click on the photo to see a larger view!

Tow plane, trailing a tow hook, swoops done, engages a loop of rope suspended from two posts. That loop of rope in turn attached to the tow rope of the glider. "Whoosh" - - you and the glider are airborne and retrieved!!

There is also something incorrect and very dangerous here! NOT appreciated at the time or even now.

"Marker strip of white cloth as guide for tow plane"


The use of engineering tape or similar to act as a guide for the tow plane would place the occupants of the glider in great danger. The prop wash from a low-flying transport has the ability to kick that tape up into the air, where it might get tangled in the controls of the glider, causing a crash perhaps of even both aircraft [tow plane and glider].

Strangely enough, back in my day [not that long ago even], the U.S. Army manual suggested that landing zones for helicopters be marked with white engineering tape. Each and every helicopter pilot - - upon hearing this - - would tell you - - instantaneously - - in no uncertain terms - - NO!!

[even approaching a helicopter on the ground wearing a soft cap on your head can be dangerous to all involved. The prop wash from the "chopper" can knock that hat off your head, to be sucked up into the engine - - causing a subsequent crash!! It HAS happened!!]




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