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Thread: Practising attack on glider???

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    Default Practising attack on glider???

    Hi all,

    I would like to ask for your opinion:

    F/O Zaoral of 310 Sq got killed on 19.11.1941 as ORB stated:" crashed when flying a Spitfire IIA while practising attack on the Glider".

    It was normal at the time that fighter pilots were practising attack on a glider? For what this kind of training was? As an attack on slowly flying target? And how the gliders were operating?

    I will be glad for any background info about this training.

    TIA

    Pavel

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    Pavel,

    I'm surprised you should find that entry. Gliders, as a means of transporting troops, were a still a very new concept for the British Army in November 1941. No 1 Glider Training School was only formed at Thame in July 1941, and the gliders were nothing like the sleek, modern machines one sees today, and certainly would not be engaged in cross-country flying (except at the end of a tug-rope).

    A glider would be released in the vicinity of an airfield or landing zone and a pilot's main task was to ensure it landed in one piece.

    Without knowing the facts, it seems as though it was a foolhardy thing to do; not only would the Spitfire be moving at the speed of light compared with the glider, the fighter's turbulence as it overshot would have created control problems for the glider's pilot - especially as the chances were that he was inexperienced.

    I'd be interested to hear what others have to say.

    I have not given any source to the above comments as it is information I have put together whilst writing the biography of Sqn Ldr C Crichton-Miller, the first S Met O of 38 Wing - he was involved in setting up the met requirements of No 1 GTS.

    Brian

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    Brian,

    many thanks for your opinion and infortion about gliders.
    To be honest I have the same opinion and this practising seem s to me a little bit strange...
    But the word in the ORB is reallyGLIDER - it is there twice.

    Pavel

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    Think much smaller gents. Same size as a large flying scale model.

    Glider targets were one of the towed type of unmanned gunnery targets of the sleeve and drogue type.

    In the form of a minature aircraft they were towed by Martinet, Queen Bee etc to form a realistic shape for gunnery predition/aim.

    Glider targets survived in use until the late 50s and also came in free flight rocket versions.

    Regards
    Ross

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    Feeling stupid Ross - it is so easy! Many thanks! But to be honest never heard about such a type of target.

    Pavel

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    Point taken Ross. Like Pavel I hadn't heard of the term in that context, I would have assumed 'target drogue' would have been more appropriate. However, I think we can be forgiven; a glider is something that has wings and can remain airborne and under control once released, totally different to a released drogue.

    That said the NA holds 194 files dealing with gliders, and all refer to gliders with wings. Two of the files are particularly interesting since they seem to shoot down my remarks;

    1. AIR16/637 'Techniques for attacking Gliders with Fighter aircraft' dated Nov 1940-Jan 1942

    2. AIR39/24 'Fighter versus glider trials' dated Jan 1941 - May 1942

    (2) suggests trials were in progress in Nov (contrary to my ill-informed comments) which means Zaoral could have been one of those involved. Mind you, I'd be interested to know what the trials consisted of pre-July 1941.

    So, Pavel, your answer seems to lie in AIR39/24.

    Brian

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    Many thanks Brian! Your post persuade me that something like this was possible at the time.

    pavel

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    "Mind you, I'd be interested to know what the trials consisted of pre-July 1941."

    I haven't seen the files, but almost everything that happenned in 1940 was about anti-invasion precautions. Even as late as November (AIR16/637 'Techniques for attacking Gliders with Fighter aircraft' dated Nov 1940-Jan 1942) this would be a priority for defensive planning.

    Bruce

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    Target gliders featured in AP1492 (AIR 10/2051) as part of the Towed Target Manual. They were dumb gliders with an 18ft span and fitted with a gyroscope. They were launched from an aircraft (A Fairey IIIF is shown).
    It was designed for use at sea and was able to float on landing.
    It is not present in later manuals but I suspect its main customer would have beed FAA sqns and thus removed when the Navy got their aircraft back. I have seen no evidence of use in WW2 but suspect it may have been used "while stocks last". I don't know if this is what was referred to originally but it would make sense and is of great interest to me if true.
    Post-war the FAA did use a powered version of similar design but there my information stops!

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    very interesting reading, thx!
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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