This site is designed to give a unique insight into the British Army's application of a heavy glider into the combat theatre of World War Two. The site began after browsing a pilot's log book of an early entrant into what was then the nascent Glider Pilot Regiment. On the surface logbook was a simple chronological record of a pilot's activity, but it soon became apparent that behind the data, was a story.
Whilst this site mainly focuses upon the experiences of one Hamilcar pilot, it is really a tribute to all the airmen of the British Glider Pilot Regiment and especially 'C' Squadron, the heavy glider squadron, flying the huge GAL Hamilcar Glider. The squadron landed everything from Jeeps, 17pdr anti-tank guns through to tanks, all landed aboard an aircraft without power. "Wot! No engines?"
The General Aircraft Limited GAL.49 Hamilcar or Hamilcar Mark I, was a large British military glider produced during the Second World War, which was designed to carry heavy cargo, such as the Tetrarch or M22 Locust light tank. When the British airborne establishment was formed in 1940 by the order of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, it was decided to develop a large glider which would be able to transport heavy equipment in support of airborne troops. General Aircraft Limited were chosen in January 1941 to develop this glider, which they designated the GAL.49 'Hamilcar'.
The plane was designed to transport a single light tank or two Universal Carriers. A number of problems, which included vacillation by the War Office on the number of gliders that it wanted and poor management by GAL, led to delays in the production of the Hamilcar, and the first production glider was only assembled in mid-1943. These problems were only partially solved, and production of the glider continued to be slow, hampered by difficulties in finding suitable locations to store and construct the Hamilcars once their parts were produced. A total of 344 Hamilcars had been built when production ended in 1946.
We will forge the regiment as a weapon of attack…Not only will we be trained as pilots, but in all we do…I shall be quite ruthless…only the best will be tolerated. Lieutenant Colonel George Chatterton. October 1942