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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, May 04, 1944, Image 9

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1944-05-04/ed-1/seq-9/

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Wyler's
O K WV D It AT CD
MIXED
VEGETABLE
FLAKES
Glider Is Developed
From Class of Rookie
To Full Soldier Status
By THOMAS R. HENRY,
Star Wsr Corespondent.
UNITED STATES 9th AIR
FORCE STATION, England (By
Mail).—The glider has been changed
from a rookie into a soldier.
As an infantry carrier it may play
a big part in the invasion of Europe.
Close-order glid
er tactics, akin
to c 1 o s e-order
infantry drill,
have been de
veloped to a
high efficiency
and are being
practiced in al
most daily trial
sorties by pilots
of Brig. Gen.
Paul L. Williams’
Troop Carrier
Command.
Ever since the
German capture
of Crete, largely Tk*“M *• H,Br7
by gldier-carried troops, this type
of carrier has intrigued the popular
imagination but there has been little
appreciation of the practical difficul
ties which military men had to over
come to make it fit into battle plans.
It wouldn’t “march in step.” It
was clumsy to handle in formations.
This was true in its use by the
Germans, who were masters of glider
tactics at the start of the war due
to long experinece. Anything like
a close-order formation seemed im
possible. Attached to tow planes
with cables, with little capacity for
independent movement of their own,
and entirely defenseless, gliders
would become hopelessly tangled up.
Lack of formation perhaps-made
little difference where a landing was
to be made over a relatively large
stretch of country without opposi
tion, but it greatly limited the use
of glider-carried troops in the face
of the enemy. Hie glider would
have to depend on fighter planes
to cut and hold a channel for it
free of opposition througlt hostile
territory. Such a channel must be
wide Enough to protect the craft
from long-range shots and at the
same time long enough to cover the
whole strung-out formation. Thus,
it is easy to see, the more “ranks
can be closed" the better. It con
serves fighters and makes their job
easier. At the same time it makes
possible the more expeditious dis
charge of air-carried infantry in a
relatively small area where they can
assemble in fighting units almost
immediately.
The problem has been solved step
by step, partly at training centers
in the United States, partly by
unhappy experience in the Sicilian
landings and partly at fields here.
Probably the chief factor in reducing
to less than half the length of a
glider-tow plane formation, thus
cutting the time required to reach
an objective and for landing in a
selected area, has been the increased
skill of the glider pilots.
As the picture was presented by
one glider officer: "Imagine a com
pany of infantry at a sort of
simplified close-order drill. Then
imagine the complications In carry
ing out the maneuvers if each
soldier was pulling a child’s wagon.
That’s about the difference between
regular air corps tactics and glider
formation tactics, but the closer the
approach to the former the better.”
The tow-plane glider combination
has the disadvantage of not being
able to take any evasive action. At
the altitudes usually flown, it is
safe from heavy flak, which does
not become effective under altitudes
of from 3,000 to 4,000 feet. But,
without effective fighter protection,
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it is subject to all the withering
intensity of light flak and small
arms fire from the ground and it
can do nothing against the close
approach of an enemy fighter. All
these dangers are minimized by
"making the glider a soldier.” It
must still, of course, depend al
together on fighters for protection
in the air.
Extreme skill is being acquired by
glider pilots here in landing their
craft in small fields with the phy
sical characteristics of which they
have no previous knowledge. All
they know is that there is a relative
ly open area in an approximate
location. Often the only guidance
is a photo taken from high in the
air. The space may be only a patch
of rough pasture.
The pilot often does not know
whether or not it is covered with
-• • -—. -
rocks or brush, or just what low
fences he Is likely to encounter.
Regardless of the terrain, he must
bring his craft to earth without too
much of a shock to his passengers,
who must be in condition to fight
immediately.
This requires the development of
individual intuitiver.ess, rather than
any special technique and this
intuitiveness is being cultivated in
daily training.
Lee and Miller Head
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Frank W. Lee, chairman of the
Board of Trustees of the Central
Labor Union, and Paul J. Miller,
president of the Washington Guest
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