Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stirling and Halifax Bombers towing Horsa and Hamilcar Gliders at Operation “Market” – Arnhem 1944

The Australian War Memorial (Museum), Canberra, has recently placed some vintage WWII film footage on their web site which at least this author has never seen before (except bits and pieces). The film chronicles Stirling and Halifax glider tugs towing both Horsa and Hamilcar gliders carrying the men of the 1st Airlanding Brigade, British 1st Airborne Division to Holland during Operation Market-Garden; the Battle of Arnhem, commencing 17 September 1944. Troop embarkation, takeoff, and flight are shown for both types of gliders.






Short Stirling Specifications
Heavy Bomber
Focus Model: Short Stirling Mk III
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Short Brothers / Belfast Austin Motor Company - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1941
Production Total: 2,383
Crew: 7
Length: 86.94 ft (26.5 m)
Width: 99.08 ft (30.20 m)
Height: 22.74ft (6.93 m)
Weight (Empty): 43,202 lb (19,596 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 70,085 lb (31,790 kg)
Powerplant: 4 x Bristol Hercules XVI radial piston engines developing 1,650 horsepower each.
Maximum Speed: 270 mph (435 kmh; 235 kts)
Maximum Range: 590 miles (949 km)
Service Ceiling: 16,995 ft (5,180 m; 3.2 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)
Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
STANDARD:
2 x 7.7mm machine guns in powered nose turret
2 x 7.7mm machine guns in powered dorsal turret
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in powered tail turret
OPTIONAL:
Maximum internal bombload of 14,000lbs.
MAXIMUM TOWED WEIGHT (Glider and payload):
Hamilcar: 36,000 lb (16,329 kg) (7 tons of cargo)
Horsa: 15,500 lb (7,045 kg)



Unique photographic evidence shows a wide variety of the infantry weapons and equipment of the division's air landing brigade. The Short Stirling aircraft are identified as from 295 Squadron, Which with Horsas in tow took off from RAF Harwell. The Hadley Page Halifax tugs however, which towed the Hamilcars, were from 901 and 903 Squadrons, and took off from RAF Tarrant Rushton.

To the best of the author's available references the Stirlings only towed Horsa gliders. The employed RAF Squadrons included; 190, 196, 295, 299, 570, and 620 Squadrons. The Halifax towed both the Hamilcar and Horsa gliders. The RAF Squadrons included; 298 and 644 Squadrons.  




Handley Page Halifax Specifications
Heavy Night Bomber
Focus Model: Handley Page Halifax B.Mk VI
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Handley Page - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1940
Production Total: 6,177
Crew: 7
Length: 71.59 ft (21.82 m)
Width: 104.17 ft (31.75 m)
Height: 20.73ft (6.32 m)
Weight (Empty): 39,000 lb (17,690 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 68,002 lb (30,845 kg)
Powerplant: 4 x Bristol Hercules 100 radial piston engines developing 1,800 horsepower each.
Maximum Speed: 312 mph (502 kmh; 271 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,260 miles (2,028 km)
Service Ceiling: 23,999 ft (7,315 m; 4.5 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 400 feet-per-minute (122 m/min)
Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm machine gun in nose
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in dorsal turret
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in tail turret
OPTIONAL:
Internal bomb load of up to 13,000 lb (5,897 kg).
MAXIMUM TOWED WEIGHT (Glider and payload):
Hamilcar: 36,000 lb (16,329 kg) (7 tons of cargo)
Horsa: 15,500 lb (7,045 kg)


It is 11 minutes of some rather remarkable historical footage; and can be seen at; https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/F02614/. The very first increment of film shows troops embarking through the side door of a Hamilcar glider. Historians of the Battle of Arnhem, are certainly indebted to the museum's staff for the discovery and publication of these archival films.

The following drawing specifically shows Short S.29 Stirling 'V8 -F ' of 570 Squadron. The squadron  performed both glider-tow and subsequent resupply missions during the duration of Operation Market-Garden.



             

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