"Silent Wings at War - Combat Gliders in World War II" by John L Lowden

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by vikingBerserker, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    "Silent Wings at War - Combat Gliders in World War II"
    by John L Lowden
    Smithsonian Institution Press - 1992
    ISBN: 1-58834-034-1

    book20.jpg


    I came across this book when it was on sale, and having never read any serious book on Allied use of combat gliders I went ahead and purchased it. After having read it I can only say one thing, Combat Glider pilots without a doubt have the biggest set of <bleep> of any pilot in WW2 period (and I include suicide pilots in this).

    The forward is written by Walter Cronkite whom had actually flown on such a mission during Operation Market-Garden. The book itself is well written and consists of about 40 stories from the Allies and only briefly touches upon the German use of them. It covers the early use of them through the blunders made by upper command to the end of the war in the ETO, MTO and CBI/PTO areas.

    I had no idea they had been used as often as this book illustrates or exactly how dangerous they really were. It talks about operations where the gliders were released over the ocean with a number of them not making it to land. Gliders being towed above 150 mph that shed their wings in flight, air to air collisions and of course the landings which the pilots had to intentionally wreck them in order to stop when they ran out of landing space. Missions with 70% casualty rates, gliders equipped with axes so you can hack your way out of it – truly amazing reading.

    There were a few humorous stories, such as when gliders were being used to bring supplies into Bastogne during the 2nd resupply run. A glider carrying artillery shells cut loose and landed as soon as he could which turned out to be downhill on a snowy hill. He locks his brakes and keeps going as a sled. He soon soars off of a 15ft drop lands and keeps sliding, eventually stopping 10 yards away from one of the guns the shells were intended for. Within 5 minutes these shells were being used.

    IMO Gliders Pilots have not gotten the recognition they so deservedly deserve. This book is a great way to learn about them.
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good review David. I saw this bool advertised recently, and thought about getting it - think I will now.
     
  3. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    #3 Glider, Jan 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
    We used to have a member of the Gliding CLub who flew the Horsa on ops. When he had a few drinks with a gleam in his eye he would swear blind that he rode a thermal in one when he saw an MG where he was due to land. Unfortunately he passed away a number of years ago.

    When not on ops he used to fly P2 in C47's without any additional training, the idea of being left in control used to scare him to death until he got used to it.

    A special kind of person. What he didn't know about gliding wasn't worth knowing.

    His instructor used to be a pre war glider pilot who just before the BOB was towed out over the Channel and released gliding back to the UK. At the time know one knew why, but later it was discovered that they wanted to check that the UK Radar net could pick up gliders.
     
  4. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to read that book myself, thanks for the heads up Dave!

    Was researching German use of the DFS Kranich recently, apparently the rear cockpit was gutted to allow tansportation of fuel or ammo to beleagured troops in Russia. Plan to make my model in this configuration.

    Interesting info Glider, he must have had some stories to tell!
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Bought the book on your say-so, Viking ... :) and just finished it.

    A great read and a great story teller. Thanks.

    MM
     
  6. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Always glad to help spread the word.
     
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