General Aircraft GAL 49/50 Hamilcar-The Other WWII British Assault Glider Although the WWII Airspeed AS 51 Horsa assault glider was the most prolific of the allied glider aircraft which augmented the parachute elements of the British 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions it remained for another glider, the General Aircraft GAL 49/50 Hamilcar, to deliver the heavier loads which would provide extra muscle to the lightly armed paratroops and airlanding forces. It was the heaviest of allied gliders and the only one capable of carrying a tank. More importantly for the airborne forces it was capable of carrying the Ordnance QF 17 Pdr Anti-tank Gun, its Morris C8 30cwt Quad Field Artillery Tractor (FAT), basic ammunition load, and complete gun crew from an Airlanding Anti-tank Battery, Royal Artillery, all in a single load. This capability provided a rather nasty surprise to the most heavily armored German tanks, even the Tiger I (max. frontal armor, 100 mm). The gun was capable of penetrating 118 mm of armor plate at 1000 yd, and with the introduction in July 1944 of an Armor Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS) round, 231 mm (9.1 in.) of armor plate at 1000 yd. (more than enough to 'put paid' to even the Tiger II#. The first prototype #GAL 49# flew on 27 March 1942. A total of either 344 or 410 #depending on sources# Hamilcars had been built when production ended in 1946, at a cost of £50,000 per glider. As was the case with the design of the Horsa, construction of the Hamilcar was almost entirely of wood, taking full advantage of Britain's 'cottage industry', aluminum being in short supply. #Most of the images can be enlarged by clicking on them.# A contemporary detailed cut-away drawing of the prototype General Aircraft GAL 49 Hamilcar I Glider with acknowledgment to Creative Cutaways and The Aeroplane Spotter A later equally detailed cut-away drawing of the GAL 50 Hamilcar Glider showing a Tetrarch Mk VII ICS Tank as carried with acknowledgment to Flight Magazine Annotated detailed cut-away drawing of the cargo box of the General Aircraft GAL 50 Hamilcar Glider The relatively clean aerodynamic shape of this WWII assault glider seen at a distance belies the size of this leviathan. With a wingspan of 110 ft #33.53 m# and length of 68 ft #20.73 m# it was only slightly larger than the Horsa, but its cargo box was significantly more voluminous, accommodating over twice the payload. The Hamilcar glider’s empty weight was 18,400 lb #8,346 kg# with a maximum takeoff weight of 36,000 lb #16,329 kg# #7 tons of cargo#, as compared with the Horsa’s weight of 8,370 lb #3,804 kg# and maximum takeoff weight of 15,500 lb #7,045 kg#. The General Aircraft GAL 50 Hamilcar Heavy Assault Glider, at a distance very deceptive in size The Hamilcar was cleared and capable of carrying any one of the following payloads: 1 Tetrarch Mk VII ICS #infantry close support# light tank #15,680 lb# 1 US Locust M22 light tank #16,400 lb# 2 Universal #Bren# Carriers #17,000 lb# 3 Rota Tank trailers with 4 Airborne supply panniers 1 Mortar carrier #9,280 lb# with 8 motorcycles #2,880 lb# 1 17 Pdr Anti-tank gun #4,624 lb# with modified Morris C8 30cwt Quad Tractor #empty weight 7,496 lb #3,400 kg#, prime mover# 1 25 Pdr Field gun with modified tractor 2 Daimler Armored Scout cars 1 D4 Small Bulldozer #15,920 lb# 1 Universal #Slave b

johnbr, Nov 21, 2011
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