WW II-Glider Pilot Wings TB04
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Sunday, January 11, 2015
Texas, United States
This is not collectible.
Use TB6BH09 to reference this item.
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About This Item
Keychain Pendant. This item was purchased at the Silent Wings Museum, Lubbock, TX. The museum preserves and promotes the history of the World War II military glider program. The facility is located on the site of the World War II South Plains Army Air Field, where about 80% of the glider pilots were trained between 1942 and 1945. Among many exhibits, the museum houses a faithfully restored example of the nearly the nearly 15,000 WACO gliders built during the war effort.
The CG-4A was constructed of fabric-covered wood and metal and was crewed by a pilot and copilot. It had two fixed mainwheels and a tailwheel. The CG-4A could carry 13 troops and their equipment. Cargo loads could be a jeep, a 75 mm howitzer, or a ¼ ton trailer; they were loaded through the upward-hinged nose section. C-47s were usually used as tow aircraft. CG-4As went into operation in July 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily. They participated in the American airborne landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and in other important airborne operations in Europe and in the China-Burma-India Theater.
The WACOs were conceived and built to be retrieved and reused. On the battlefield a tow cable was elevated to be available for a low-flying tow plane equipped with a tail hook. However, gliders were generally considered expendable by high-ranking European theater officers and combat personnel and were usually abandoned, or destroyed, after the initial landing. Despite this general lack of support for the recovery system, several gliders were recovered from Normandy and even more from the Operation Market-Garden in the Netherlands and Wesel, Germany.
In the original concept, glider pilots would be existing power pilots. However, the shortage of such personnel in 1942 called for a drastic revision of policy, especially after the requirement for glider pilots was increased from an initial 1,000 to 6,000 earlier that year. Offers were made to enlisted men with no flying experience at all, with the promise that they would graduate as staff sergeants. Those with previous flying experience were also sought, and this policy brought in a lot of washouts from power pilot training.
Also, an early decision was made to train students for soaring flights. It was not long, however, before the military woke up to the fact that troop gliders were not simply bigger sailplanes that made long straight glides into enemy territory. They were, rather, low-performance trailers that had to be towed to a point almost directly over the landing area, and once over the designated spot, the real piloting skills necessary to get the Waco CG-4A to the ground quickly in one piece took over, if one wanted to survive. In the U.S. services the glider pilots, whether the view was unwarranted or not, were considered a notable cut below power pilots. They had a separate rating of Glider Pilot, with appropriate "G" wings.
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