General discussion

Villaume Industries in Minnesota are building a Waco glider

as used in World War 2. Villaume were the only company in Minnesota to build the glider and completed 1500 of them. A local museum wanted an example and searched Europe only to find that there was nothing remaining because gliders were a one-way item. Launch them and abandon them.

Not a great article, and almost a year out of date, but the build was covered on CTV Canadian National News. As a WW2 nut and an aircraft nut as well, this is great news. They were a crucial element of Airborne operations, not least because they could carry Jeeps and some artillery, as well as well equipped troops and extra weapons and mortar teams.


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Flying coffins, I'm told.

No reflection on the maker, just a consequence of the tactic.

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Not quite that bad, and the Waco was generally better than

most. Still I have seen real war footage of Waco's folding a wing about 50 feet from touchdown, killing everyone on board. The pilots only had a few orientation flights, sometimes as few as two, and limited understanding of aeronautics. A steep approach and too sharp a pull out could snap the main spar. I don't know if the story in Saving Private Ryan about a Colonel over-armouring his Waco and snapping everybody's neck because of excessively high approach speed and then too abrupt a deceleration, but it wouldn't surprise me.

The Germans landed about 3 or 4 DFS gliders on top of the Belgian fort Eben Emael, and disabled the gun barbettes with shaped charges in 1940.

Tearing the wings off conventional aircraft flown by experienced pilots sometimes happened during the Second World War when pulling out of steep dives. Fortunately American aircraft were more sturdily built than British. It was mostly caused by an excessively rearward Centre of Gravity. Spitfires, as they were re-engined and had more fuel tanks installed behind the pilot suffered from this problem as described in Jeffrey Quill's book Spitfire. Quill was one of a few test pilots who flew each and every Spitfire on check out flights after manufacture. He popped all the rivets on the wings of a Spitfire suffering from this CG problem while on active service. Fortunately he saved the aircraft and himself.


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If you don't mind, I thought some visuals would help
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(NT) Nice site; TUVM.
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Thanks Steve. I looked for video on the rebuild but

didn't find anything.


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More history

It seems that the Waco Glider had its beginning is Ohio. Just thought I mention that as I didn't know. I did see a tribute movie, I believed called, "Silent Pilots" featuring the exploits of gliders during WWII and the mishaps as well.

In that movie, the pride of the co. and its local govt. citizens took-off on a maiden flight of a recent build either last or 1.000 build glider. It failed in mid-flight and only the bravery of even then a famous pilot brought it back from doom as it was going to be cancelled. -----Willy Happy

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Absolutely correct, Willy. The Waco Aircraft Company was

based in Ohio, and over 1000 Waco gliders were made there. Waco biplanes during the 20's and 30's had that same back staggered wing arrangement that was more common in the Beech Staggerwing from down in Kansas. I believe they were well thought of as stable durable aircraft with nice sturdy radial engines, almost identical to the Beech a/c.

The Brits had their own gliders, but also used the Waco to increase the numbers of troops they could put in place. One of the most spectacular successes was the placement of Airspeed Horsa (a Saxon warrior in Britain) right on top of the German position next to what is now called Pegasus Bridge. The part of the Longest Day that covers that operation is quite correct. Then again Richard Todd who plays Johnnie Frost in the movie was a paratrooper on D-Day. The British equivalent of the Waco was the Hamilcar (named after Hannibal's brother), and could carry jeeps and light artillery.

Captain, then Major, and finally Col. Johnnie Frost was in the middle of most of the prominent Commando and Combined Operations, beginning with the Bruneval Raid to steal German Radar, then Pegasus Bridge, and finally the drop on Arnhem where he was wounded and eventually taken prisoner. He was played by Anthony Hopkins in A Bridge Too Far.


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Another interesting note from another movie

I just re-saw the movie, The Great Escape, based on real events. Some of the actors were in facts WWII veterans and could bear some real experience to the movie. However, the director wanted it done this way or that. The actor, Donald Pleasence was actually a downed flyer and imprisoned, released after the war was over. His suggestions fell on deaf ears and maybe disdained ones. But, he thought it rather unique that the portrayed Americans were so "mouthy" to their German capturers, just wasn't the case in real life. Of course, its a movie but heck to realize some actors were from the real thing in this regard is awesome when you think about it.

I've gathered some interesting notes of famous actors that had past military experience and went on to become big stars. Yet, most were from simple stock and did thier duties as they saw the need to enlist. -----Willy Happy

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It did crash

I reread my post and some may get the idea that the pilot saved that maiden flight, no. It was a later flight to prove the glider was worthy. It a foggy day, the pilot landed the glider near a grand stand wear big wigs had gathered and only after fog lifted did they realize a glider had landed. Shocked -----Willy Happy

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