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

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Glider - - Again! III. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

Allied and German forces both during World War Two [WW2] extensively employed gliders for their airborne operations. Glider-borne troops, following an initial parachute assault would bring reinforcement, supplies, heavier weapons, etc. right to the target consolidated in a unit, intact! A big advantage over parachute drops, which had a bad habit of dispersing paratroopers over a wide area, sometimes far from the intended drop zone. Airborne troops, that when landing and dispersed, had a much more difficult time of accomplishing their mission.

The German did have a well thought out protocol for parachute assault and further landings of airborne troops by glider. A lot of emphasis was placed on selection of suitable landing fields for gliders, and improvement where necessary.

Here thanks to the LoneSentry web site. Reprints of intelligence bulletins from World War Two [WW2] as published by American G2:

"'How Paratroops Clear Fields for Gliders from Intelligence Bulletin"

"The Germans are well aware that troops dropped by parachute must be supplied rapidly with sufficient reinforcements, equipment, ammunition, and rations . . . the Germans stipulate that the first mission of certain designated paratroopers, on landing in the jump area, is to improvise a landing field for gliders."

Subsequent to an initial assault by paratroopers, glider landings are prioritized as follows:

* "Reinforcement by air-landing troops [glider-borne] is the first use to which an improvised field is put."
* "Supplies which cannot be dropped are landed next"


An ideal field, the Germans specify, is one which:

* "permits gliders to land regardless of the direction in which the wind is blowing."

The German preference is for:

* "a field near a road or path leading to the fighting troops."
* "It is regarded as essential that the surrounding obstacles permit a glide of at least '1 in 15.'"

[This means that the length of the landing field must be at least 15 times the height of the trees or other obstacles which fringe the field.]

* "provide each regiment with one glider landing field having at least two landing strips."

[American Special Operations troops employing gliders for long-range missions would not be landing in regimental force, perhaps only in company grade strength at the most.]

* "allow a number of gliders to land simultaneously."

The Germans regard the following as unfavorable features:

* "very rocky, uneven ground"
* "stony ground where the stones go deeper than 2 feet"
* "swampy or wooded ground"
* "ground with thick vegetation, ditches, stone walls, hedges, wire fences, etc."

The following . . are described as favorable features:

* "moderately soft ground with grass"
* "ground with tall grass and even a little vegetation"
* "farm land, even if furrowed"
* "corn fields (which are fairly easy to clear)"
* "sandy ground, even if it is somewhat pebbly"

Besides the above [preferences]:

* "the prevailing wind direction also influences the German choice of a field."


* "All obstacles are removed, not only from the landing strip, but from a zone 65 feet wide on each side of the strip."
* "Uneven ground is leveled."

" Although normally every precaution is taken to lessen the danger of crash landings, the Germans follow an interesting procedure"

Under these circumstances [unfavorable], if time is very short or if the terrain presents great difficulties:

* "the Germans clear at least one-third of the landing strip"
* "Just off the landing strips, parking areas are prepared for the gliders already landed."
* "These parking areas are so arranged as not to hinder further development of the landing strip"
* "Vegetation stripped from the landing field is saved, and is used in camouflaging the parked gliders."


* "The center of the landing strip is marked with identification panels for air recognition"
* "the wind direction is shown by a large T made with panels and, indicated when necessary, by smoke as well."

NO! A thousand times NO! DO NOT mark the landing strip with identification panels made of cloth or similar substance. Mark with paint if possible. Use smoke to indicate wind direction - - YES!

With regard to marking a landing field for gliders with cloth identification panels or similar markers that might get thrown up into the air, again - - see too this previous blog entry of mine.

If and when the decision was ever made by the U.S. military to again employ military gliders, the experience, lessons-learned, doctrinal considerations are already on the books and ready-to-go! Re-inventing the wheel is not necessary.




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