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Book Review
WWII Glider Assault Tactics
World War II Glider Assault Tactics, Elite 200
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

World War II Glider Assault Tactics by Gordon L. Rottman is the 200th title in Osprey's ELITE series. Illustrated by Peter Dennis, this paperback is 64 pages in length. It is also available in PDF and eBook formats.
    This book explains the development and organization of glider troops, their mounts, and the air squadrons formed to tow them, the steep and costly learning-curve and the tactics that such troops learned to employ once they arrived on the battlefield. - Osprey

Parachute and air-landing forces were another revolutionary aspect of warfare used in WWII. America, Britain, Germany, Japan, and Russia used gliders in the war although Japan and the Soviets were very limited, and not covered in this book.

Germany demonstrated the value of gliders in a spectacular fashion by capturing Belgium's mighty Fort Eben Emael with a handful of assault engineers in 1940 (See link in summary box, below.). Britain used gliders in a coup de main upon a strategic bridge during D-Day. Handfuls of gliders were used to supply special operations in Burma, rescue Mussolini from a mountain top prison, and supply medical teams and provisions into Bastogne. They also darkened the sky to quickly land troops on Crete, Sicily, Normandy, Holland, and across the Rhine. The aircraft ranged in size from carriers of a squad to giants carrying artillery and armored vehicles.

Mr. Rottman presents the history of "glider-riders" through 10 chapters and sections in 64 pages:
    • Introduction: background
    • Gliders, construction and characteristics: the US Waco CG-4A, British Horsa and Hamilcar, German DFS 230, and minor types
    • Techniques: take-off, towing, release, landing procedures
    • Tug aircraft, types and employment: the US C-47 and German Ju 52. Glider and tug training; the fate of glider pilots after landing
    • Strengths and allocation of glider and tug flying units
    • Glider-delivered units, their organization, weapons, and equipment: infantry, artillery, engineers, and support units
    • Operations: tactical concepts; capabilities and limitations; early difficulties, and lessons learned; key operations examined
    • Select bibliography
    • Plate commentaries
    • Index

Mr. Rottman starts with a four-page introduction. An inset presents the song "Glider Rider". Twenty-two pages address the vehicles. In all chapters he details the basic subject with many aspects beyond what the aircraft look like and how they were used. He discusses seating arraignments (seating facing forwards or rearwards, or side to side), restraints, internal supplies and tools. He mentions the general sounds and motions of flying and landing in gliders. Also discussed in varying detail are airframe structural compositions, armament, loading and unloading peculiarities, particular roles, recycling of aircraft, release practices, structural peculiarities (‘red’, ’blue’, and ‘white’ Horsas), to name a few topics.

Glider pilots and glider-delivered soldiers of the three countries are not ignored and are detailed through 17 pages. Topics discussed include training, pay (Including a 1940 agreement setting dollar to Sterling exchange rates and pay comparisons.), cross-use, combat expectations, uniform kit and development, insignia, weapons, combat unit composition, equipment, and special weapons.

Finally, 12 pages are devoted to a brief history of gliders at war for the three militaries examined. These include summaries of Allied and German operations, spanning from Belgium 1940 through hopping the Rhine in March, 1945. The book closes with five pages of assessment, bibliography, and an index. Gliders were valid as they afforded air-assault with heavy weapons beyond the capacity of parachutes. Technical and performance problems were many but lessons-learned helped refine the glider assault.

The author writes in an easily followed manner with clear presentation. He does not discuss or profile individual commanders or famous glidermen. I did not find any typos and enjoyed reading the book.

photos, artwork, graphics
I counted 46 black-and-white photographs within the book. Only a couple are less than studio quality - even the aerial and action shots. Many have been reproduced countless times over the decades. Many more are brand new to me. Several are very detailed images of gliders with good views into their interiors from the outside. Remarkable ones include German Fallschirmjager practicing disembarking from the cockpit and side doors during training; Stukas towing Gotha 242s; a trio of Go 242s in formation displaying a trio of different camouflage patterns; glidermen prepping a Waco with thermite grenades for demolition; a Hamilcar disgorging a Bren Gun carrier; glider hulks following successful landings and crashes. Modelers and artists, excellent diorama and subject scenes here! There is not an image within that I consider 'filler' and all support the text.

Even those who couldn't care less about glider operations can find interesting images within, such as clear images of D-Day invasion stripes rudely brushed on airframes.

Osprey artwork is provided by Mr. Peter Dennis. The book includes plenty of original color artwork:

A. US Waco CG-4A Cargo Glider:
    1. Left side with cutaway
    2. Split plan view (top & underside of left wing)
    3. Interior: pilot and front right-hand passenger
    4. Ludington-Griswold nose modification
    5. US glider pilot's wings

B. British Airspeed Horsa Mk I Assault Glider:
    1. Left side with cutaway
    2. Split plan view (top & underside of left wing)
    3. Interior, troop seating
    4. Beret badge, Glider Pilot Regiment
    5. Army Flying Badge
    6. Second Glider Pilot Brevet
    7. Badge for glider-trained infantry

C. German DFS 230 Assault Glider:
    1. Left side (with forward door removed)
    2. Split plan view (top & underside of left wing)
    3. Front view
    4. Nose detail with machine guns
    5. Luftwaffe glider pilot badge

D. Hazards of Glider Landings; Normandy, June 1944: glider GIs disembark from a glider damaged by "Rommel's asparagus" on D-Day.
E. British Hamilcar Mk I Heavy Glider; Normandy, June 6, 1944: a Tetrarch airborne light tank rolls from the nose of a big Hamilcar.
F. Unconventional Glider Loads; Burma, March 1944: 1st Air Commando Waco delivering supplies and mules behind the lines. Details are a US glider pilot, a locally produced CBI glider pilot's wings, and US Flight Officer's rank bar.
G. The Glider Assault; Netherlands, September 1944: aerial depiction of a glider assault.
H. Glider Retrieval; Operation Thursday, Burma, 1944: "snatching" a glider by a flying tug.

To condense and clarify the text, several tables are provided:

Abbreviations used in this text (inside title page).

I. Glider characteristics (Model, Empty weight, Cargo weight, Passengers, Wingspan, Length)
    Waco CG-4A
    Waco CG-13A
    Airspeed Horsa I
    Airspeed Horsa II
    GAL Hamilcar
    DFS 230
    Gotha Go 242
    Me 321

II. Most common tug aircraft: United States Army Air Forces; Royal Air Force; Luftwaffe; Soviet Air Forces (The only mention of the Soviets.)
III. British Glider Pilot Regt, September 1944: composition including Wings and Squadrons.
IV. US Army Glider Infantry & Artillery units: composition including Glider Infantry Regiments; parent Airborne Divisions; Period active.
V. British Airlanding Brigade units: composition of the 1st, 6th, and 14th Airlanding Brigades; dates active; attached and organic units.

There was only a single dedicated German glider unit; its constitution, identity and subsequent renaming are recounted in the text.

Modelers, historians, gamers, and students of air-assault should find this a fascinating and must-have for their book collection. I learned valuable facts which enhance my ability to consider and discuss the glider's role in the air-assault strategy. It includes interesting insights to the pilot's role - tug and towed - in harnessing these beasts. It is interesting to discover the usage of gliders on the Eastern Front.

The wealth of photographs and wonderful artwork greatly enhances the book.

I did not find anything worth criticizing and I recommend this book.

We thank Osprey Publishing for sending this book for preview here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: The wealth of photographs and wonderful artwork
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: Modelers, historians, gamers, and students of air-assault should find this a fascinating and must-have for their book collection.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781782007739
  Suggested Retail: $18.95, £11.99
  Related Link: Eben Emael, Belgium 1940 * Raid 38
  PUBLISHED: Jul 06, 2014

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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