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The General Aircraft Hamilcar Glider

The prototype GAL 49 Hamilcar first flew in 1942. Although designed by General Aircraft Ltd of Feltham, Middlesex the gliders were actually built by various woodworking firms in Britain since it was almost entirely of wood construction.

Tank Museum photo No. 3752/A/5
Tank Museum photo No. 3752/A/5

The Hamilcar was designed to handle an 8-ton payload, which in practice, worked out at one Tetrarch Light Tank, two Universal Carriers or a self-propelled Bofors gun. The load was strapped down in the fuselage and the crew travelled with it; the aircrew, two men of the Glider Pilot Regiment, sat in tandem in a cockpit above the fuselage.

Tank Museum photo No. 3752/A/1

Towing aircraft could be the Stirling, Lancaster or Halifax bombers but on D-Day the Handley-Page Halifax III was used. Towing speed for the Hamilcar was 240 kmh and the maximum diving speed 300 km/h. The glider could be lowered onto its belly to load or unload and had skids beneath the fuselage for landing without the undercarriage.





On D-Day the Hamilcars were towed by Halifaxes of 298 and 644 Squadrons, Royal Air Force lifting off from the Dorset airfield of Tarrant Rushton. Designated Operation Mallard it involved 30 Halifax-Hamilcar combinations taking off at 2100 hour, bound for Normandy.


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