Airborne Landing Gliders
Transportnye Desantno Planery
|G-31 (G-63)||"Yakov Alksnis"||P.I. Grokhovsky|
|G-4||civil transport glider||G.F. Groshev|
|KAI-5 "Sokol"||transport glider||G.N. Vorobyov|
|BDP-2||landing glider||N.N. Polikarpov|
|KG / KG-Etalon||landing glider||L.P.Flounder|
|A-40 (CT, LT)||"Flying Tank"||O.K.Antonov|
|G-11 (Gr-29)||airborne glider||V.K.Gribovsky|
|C-25||landing & transport||P.V.Tsybin|
The idea of creating and using heavy multi-seat airframe airborne gliders belongs to domestic designers and pilots. In 1932, a young novice aircraft designer Boris Dmitrievich Urlapov, based on the idea of the pilot-inventor Pavel Ignatyevich Grokhovsky and under his leadership, calculated and constructed and, with a small group of young specialists, created the world's first cargo landing airframe G-63.
Such large gliders designed to transport people and cargo through the air, no one had yet built. Sixteen compartments, in which it was possible to transport military equipment or fighters in a lying position, were located in long wide-profile wings. The load per square meter of the wing exceeded the largest load of all known non-motorized flying vehicles at that time by a factor of two and a half. Estimated carrying capacity (1,700 kg) was generally unheard of, especially considering that the glider was towed by a single-engine P-5 aircraft.
After several test flights, in which Pilots PI Grokhovsky and V.A. Stepankonok participated, the commission of the Staff of the Air Force of the Red Army, came to the unanimous conclusion: the tests of the experimental towed air train confirm the possibility and expediency of using special gliders in airborne operations. It was proved that landing gliders can land on unsuitable field grounds, and this is their undisputed advantage over aircraft.
So began to develop a glider business. Many original designs were created. It is safe to say that the country had taken a leading place in the work on the creation of transport gliders.
The starting point in the history of Soviet multi-seat landing gliders should be considered January 23, 1940 - it was then in the People's Commissariat of Aircraft Industry was created the Office for the production of landing and transport gliders. It was headed by the head of V.N. Kulikov and chief engineer PV Tsybin. The Central Aviation State Institute was involved in the research work on aerodynamics of gliders. In the autumn of the same year, at a special meeting attended by Stalin, a decision is taken to hold a tender to identify the most successful examples of such aircraft with a view to their subsequent launch into mass production. As a result, the gliders of O. Antonov, V.K. Gribovski, PV Tsybin, N.Kurbaly were created. The most successful - A-7 and G-11 - were built serially and successfully used during the Great Patriotic War.
An additional impetus to the development of military gliding was the phenomenal success of the German paratroopers during the storming of the fort Eben-Emael on 11 May 1940 and the seizure of the island of Crete a year later.
In the autumn of 1940, under the chairmanship of I.V. Stalin in the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) held a meeting on the development of glider technology in the country, to which the leaders of the Air Force and Osoaviakhima were invited. Apparently, the convocation of this meeting was conditioned by two factors: firstly, the very logic of the development of the Airborne Troops of the Red Army required the creation of landing gliders, and secondly, a message about the great success in their application by the Germans. As a result, it was decided to hold a competition of relevant projects in order to identify the best designs for further transferring them to mass production.
However, after the competition, the requests of the military increased, and they put forward a task to develop larger capacity vehicles. OK. Antonov was instructed to develop a seven-seater glider project A-7, V.K. Gribovsky - 11-seat G-11, D.N. Kolesnikov and P.V. Tsybin - 20-seat machine KC-20, G.N. Kurbale - a heavy glider KG. The basis of the glider fleet during the war was A-7 and G-11.
In the system of airborne technology, a transport glider became a reliable means of quietly transferring the landing units and cargoes to the rear of the enemy, ensuring their relatively compact landing and the quick readiness of the paratroopers for immediate action. It is also very important that small landing speeds, special skis and low two-wheeled chassis, allowed the gliders to land on limited and little-adapted ground landing sites in the forest, mountain and lake areas.
From the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War, separate airplanes (airplane-glider) carried out flights with the aim of transferring various cargo and equipment over its territory and through the front line. For example, flamethrowers and other weapons were transported to Stalingrad. S.V.Donkov and S. Anokhin flew gliders to the Bryansk forests, where the paratroopers of General N. Kazankin acted. Orlovschiny's partisans hosted non-motorized transport aircraft.
And the Soviet aviation and glider regiments, which were subordinate to the command of the Airborne Forces, received baptism of fire in 1942, having distinguished themselves when they were sent to the enemy rear of reconnaissance and subversive groups, delivery of antifreeze for the tank units of the Stalingrad Front and the supply of partisan detachments with weapons, ammunition, and explosives.
But by June 1942 it became clear that the military just did not need a large number of landing gliders. The war did not proceed as it had been seen in the pre-war years, and the Red Army was not up to the glider landing operations. As a result, wooden gliders, calculated, in fact, for one combat sortie, often wintered in the open, which made them unfit for use. There was also a lack of airplane-tugs.
The first group flight was carried out in November 1942. In the preparation of the offensive near Stalingrad, severe frosts were unexpectedly encountered. The tank formations, ready for the counteroffensive, were partially incapacitated, as water was frozen in the engines of armored vehicles. It was necessary to urgently deliver the tankers antifreeze - non-freezing liquid. By order of the command, the pilots-tugs and gliders immediately began to prepare for the take-off. Air train formed quickly. Having loaded gliders A-7 and G-11 with barrels of antifreeze, airplanes and gliders under the command of Lieutenant Colonel D. Kosice, secretly landed in the specified area. Here, by increasing the group at the expense of aircraft and personnel of the military airplane school, after loading, the air trains departed along the planned route. The group of aerosets along the whole route was covered by air defense fighters.
In the beginning of 1943, a relative calm ensued on this sector of the front. The Fascists took advantage of this and, having relocated several units, threw them along with the gendarmerie and the police to fight the Belarusian partisans in the districts of Nevel, Polotsk, Gorodachi, Vitebsk. The Germans were eager to divide the partisan units all ways, and then destroy them. Partisans experimental an acute shortage of ammunition, weapons, food. In the current situation, only the aviation that delivered the goods could help them. Then the command of the Soviet command was ordered to prepare for the intensive action of the planetary group for Major-General A. Scherbakov and engineer Lt. Col. P. Tsybin.
The operation began on the night of March 7, 1943 and was conducted continuously until March 20. It involved 65 gliders A-7 and G-11. Partisans were transported 60 tons of combat cargo, five printing houses and ten radio stations, more than a hundred command personnel and more than one and a half hundred soldiers were delivered. In addition, separate subversive groups were delivered to the rear of the enemy.
In 1943, the situation on the fronts improved and the supply of partisans was improved with the help of gliders, so the production of the G-11 was decided to be restored at the Ryazan plant.
A great deal of help was given to the partisans of the Polotsk-Lepel zone by the parachute-paratroopers. The flights began in April 1943 and lasted almost a year. In addition to gliders A-7 and G-11, heavier ones, accommodating up to 20 paratroopers, were used for gliders KC-20. Hidden hundreds of gliders were relocated first to the airfields of the jump. To the partisans flew in groups. They usually took off at sunset. Above the front line we passed already in the dark, came to the assigned area at night. The tugboats, having unhooked the gliders, turned around and approached their base before dawn.
On platforms in the enemy rear, 138 gliders were towed, which delivered the most necessary military equipment. Throw commanders, sabotage groups, medical supplies, food. The flights were rather complicated. At night, when crossing the front line, they sometimes burst into the fire of enemy anti-aircraft batteries or to patrolling pairs of fighters. On the ground gliders also could wait for the trap: the Germans were laying out bonfires, setting up false platforms, similar to guerrilla ones.
Many gliders participated in fierce battles with punitive forces like soldiers of partisan groups and detachments. In the fall of 1943, troops were sent out on the Voronezh Front section in the 3rd and 5th together with the task of assisting the front troops in seizing a bridgehead on the right bank of the Dnieper. The paratroopers landed on a large area, which greatly hampered the collection. In the area from Rzhishchev to Cherkassy there were more than 40 separate groups of paratroopers. Caught in an extremely difficult situation, they acted boldly, striking at the nearest communications of the Germans, enemy garrisons, headquarters and reserves.
At the same time, the task was considered completed, if one glider of three reached the target! No less severe losses gliders suffered during the unsuccessful Dnieper airborne operation in September 1943. And although the Red Army no longer conducted major assaults comparable to Allied operations, the Market Garden or Varsity, our gliders performed more nightly sorties than all foreign gliders combined, such was the specificity of the Soviet- German front. And two secret glider expeditions to the North Pole in 1950 and 1954 became the "swan song" of "Stalin's Falcons" (so dangerous that they were selected for pilots who did not have children).
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