Nice to see you over here Charles. Discussion with you has always been a pleasure.
The drag chute was NOT a braking chute to be used on the ground.
Yes and no. We have to take care to avoid overinterpretations in that case.
During the night mission using the tail chute in the air only would be very dangerous due to tendency for the nose to drop. If you do not see the ground clearly enough you cannot risk collision with ground after releasing the chute in approaching phase.
Researching and describing the US Army's American Glider Program (AGP) we cannot change today world's history of aeronautics and general rules of flying. And -- as I can see unfortunately -- last 65 years there is an overpowering tendency in the USA to present the AGP as something that does not subordinate the rules of physics and something separated from aviation practice to show American military in as positive light as possible. First of all, first of glider-related USAAF documents that survived up to this time, must be the science -- science in the form of aerodynamics, flight mechanics and flight safety standards. Also aviation practice where 1944 Pegasus Bridge case study showed distinctly how to use in practice the tail chute in a cargo glider.
Not the Americans invented tail chute for the gliders and we cannot add today an ideology to the facts related to AGP. The tail chutes for the gliders were applied in the world since 1936 up to 1970s -- they were in use for both military and sport high-performance gliders. Those chutes have never been restricted to the applications "in the air only" or "on the ground only". Whatever they were called -- braking chute, drag chute, tail chute (USAAF terminology), arrester parachute (British terminology) etc. -- they were an integral part of braking system in the glider and pilot only decided how to use it and when according to situation.
The CG-4A has never been an exception to that rule and the proofs you do have in historic photographs. Underdeveloped CG-4A was deadly dangerous in the rough-field landing and tail chute (if installed) released on the ground was the last chance for the pilot to protect glider against turnover ("capotage" for international forumers). Statistically, between 70 and 100 percent of the people on board of aerial craft is killed due to turnover. With its very short nose section and CoG very close to nose the CG-4A was the worst possible cargo glider of WWII era for off-field landings. That glider ought to be certified for training only, never for combat operations.
Did anybody see turnovered German, Soviet, British or Japanese military glider? I emphasize "turnovered" after classic turnover during landing, not crashed upside down after high impact hitting the ground as known one USAAF's Horsa in Normandy.
The chute was only for losing air speed and altitude on landing. It was not to be deployed below 80 mph air speed and was to be cut loose form the glider well before touch down so as to not drag it across trees, etc.
Yes and no.
The USAAF glider pilots had good enough background in the fields of aerodynamics and flight mechanics to apply CG-4A tail chutes without orthodoxy but according to the needs and situations. And it can be see it in the period images. The US Army has always wanted to have open-minded servicemen with their big personal initiative and the USAAF glider pilots showed very well what does it mean in practice.
Above you quoted correctly what was written in the USAAF papers but general rules of aviation are the first. Your words are the truth of course but this is only a part of that truth, let's say fifty percent. The proofs are in the historical photographs and I am sure you have them in your archive. We cannot look at the AGP history through the prism of papers only because it would be simple way to nowhere. We cannot look at it also through the prism of a few general sentences written in flying manuals -- no such pilot's manuals in the world that tell all about pilotage techniques. The USAAF GPs have ever applied their tail chutes (when installed of course) according to science, as aerodynamics and flight mechanics, and according to their best knowledge, experience, aerial situation and common sense -- not necessarily according to 12 very general sentences about tail chute published in the CG-4A pilot manual.
"One picture is worth a thousand words" and this well-known saying shows very well what really happened to the CG-4A tail chutes in practice. What is more, the "AAF Manual No. 50-17, Pilot Training Manual for the CG-4A Glider" never constrained glider pilot's initiative when it comes to tail chute. In the section "Tail Parachute" of that Manual we will not find the sentences like "Cut your chute off before touching the ground" or "Never use the chute on ground." What you wrote above is a truth of course but it does not finish the history of applying those chutes by the CG-4A pilots. They were too wise to throw off a device that could be the last chance to save their and GIR troops lives in the first phase of turnover.
The CG-4A tail chute was not other device than the DFS 230, BDP or Horsa tail chute. The Germans, Soviets and British knew very well how to use it according to aerial and tactical situation and we cannot create today the USA and WWII era AGP as something separated of general rules of flying. Let's look at the fact how ideally the British landed in their Horsas at the Pegasus Bridge, Normandy. It was an act of perfectionism and they applied arrester parachutes on ground, not in the air. Famous British glider pilot Jim Wallwork described it good enough.
When it comes to tail chute -- aka arrester parachute as known in UK -- the Horsa Pilot's Notes is even more general than CG-4A Pilot Training Manual. That British document contains only five general sentences related to chute-assisted landing and in any word using the arrester parachute on ground is forbidden.
Try Charles to find the report after Soviet presentation of the BDP cargo glider prepared for the Western Allies. It was very interesting glider which was total reverse of the CG-4A. The BDPs were made of primitive materials and in the same technological lines but they were aerodynamically sophisticated aerial crafts with very smooth, elegant aerodynamic line. From aerodynamics point of view it was state-of-the-art cargo glider. The CG-4A was made of very good and modern materials but from aerodynamics point of view it was the most primitive cargo glider ever built. The BDP was a glider designed by the Soviets especially for both daylight and night operations whereas CG-4A has never been designed for such extreme night landings as the US glider pilots were forced to. The BDP was equipped with braking chute of course. Try to find what the American delegation noted down about braking chute of that Soviet cargo glider. I assure you that you will not find any information that a chute is to use it in the air only during approaching phase.
To sum up -- the CG-4A tail chute has never been unique, one of a kind device in the world's aeronautics history that had to be released in the air only. It was an ordinary device as known in the German DFS 230 cargo glider, Soviet BDP cargo glider and British Horsa cargo glider. And the CG-4A tail chute could operate in the same manner as in the other gliders mentioned -- both during approaching and after the touch down phase up to the landing run.
Let's look below at a photograph. Without a coroner or medic's report it is hard to say how many people survived in that crashed CG-4A but it is impossible that nobody had broken leg, hand or backbone. The pilot behaved very professionally however and he wanted to rescue the glider against turnover. He released tail chute on ground, after touch down, and he wanted to use it as anti-turnover system. It was successful partially only due to CG-4A overpowering tendency to turnover. That was fundamental fault of CG-4A that ought to eliminate this model of cargo glider of combat operations where rough-field landings were needed.
EDIT: Picture is lost
All the chutes were field installed from Normandy until late 1944 and early 1945 production when some of the manufactures began installing them on production gliders. Same was true for the bolt-on Griswold nose protection device. Both of these items were in short supply for Normandy--somewhere around 400 each. For Normandy a rule was made that both devices were not to be installed on the same glider. Mike Murphy chose a BOGNPD when in fact he probably should have insisted on a drag chute and left it deployed on the glider after touch down in hopes it would catch on something. (but then that is my opinion, not historical fact).
That's right. I absolutely agree with you that Murphy would have much greater chances to avoid crash landing with tail chute applied after touch down.
Murphy's case study clearly shows what had to be done in the AGP long before the US gliderborne forces entered the war. The US fleet of cargo gliders was the only one in the world then that operated unprepared for off-field/rough-field landings without tail chutes. Since early MTO campaigns the USA researched indepthly the German DFS 230 cargo glider but the conclusions for the AGP were drawn too late.
The AGP-related decision process was so slow and so ineffective that -- sad to say -- many people on boards of the CG-4As were killed by the US military bureaucracy, not by enemy. There is a documental movie of the Market Garden operation. The CG-4A landing can be seen there among others. The glider lands on flat terrain without any bushes or trees. And that CG-4A turnovers very easy. Sad to say but if somebody was killed in that glider due to turnover he was killed by American decision makers only, not by the Germans. Of WWII era cargo glider operators nobody landed off-field in such a manner as the USAAF did it.
CG-4A dual steering was an after thought that resulted from bad experiences during training. There was a kit for field installation and factory installation began as soon as the parts became available. The co-pilot never had brake pedals.
Lack of those pedals is one more proof how much the CG-4A was not fitted for combat missions. This model of glider ought to stay home for training only although also this role is problematic -- how to teach co-pilot his future on-board duties when he does not have brake pedals?!
As Gregory says, the original CG-4A plans had tactical gear and training gear.
During engineering tests on hard but smooth fields the floors were ripped out of the CG-4A landing on skids without the gear. One day Col Dent took two airborne generals for a CG-4A ride with tactical gear which he did not drop on takeoff. When he was landing, a twin engine powered aircraft moved onto the runway in front of the glider. Because he feared hitting the bomber, Dent ordered the generals to jump which they did. Dent was able to fly the glider around the bomber without problem. On a couple tests at Wright Field when the tactical gear was dropped on takeoff, even with a chute, they bounced down the runway and through the roofs of private homes off the field. Apparently, this lack of control of the tactical wheels on dropping and lack of braking and some steering control reached the point that the USAAF engineers at Wright Field did not care how the Germans or Russians did it, they changed the CG-4A so that the training wheels with hydraulic brakes became the production wheel assembly of the CG-4A.
Frankly speaking the history of tactical landing gears of the CG-4As and why the USAAF did not apply that correct landing system associates me with infamous US Army's Pointe du Hoc case study of Normandy 1944. It is well described in the "Spearheading D-Day" book. To be brief -- the US soldiers died but not necessarily due to enemy's action but due to US military system and its Generals. And there was no guilty Generals -- contrariwise, they decorated themselves.
I am afraid the same goes for tactical landing gears of the CG-4As for their gliderborne assaults in real combat conditions. This is impossible that the USA -- the USA with its top level of aviation science -- suddenly forgot what physics, flight mechanics and flight safety rules are. Simply impossible in the country where educational system for the pilots and aviation engineers was leading in the world. Why USAAF fighter pilots landed off-field with their landing gears up deeply in nacelles? And why USAAF glider pilots were sentenced to suicide when they were forced by incompetent officials to land off-field on the wheels? During off-field landing no difference between fighter and cargo glider. The same rules of flight mechanics operate in case of both these aerial crafts.
It is totally impossible that one private house hit by wheeled cart from the air could halt manufacturing and deliveries tactical landing gears for the CG-4As. The reasons must be totally other but this affair is hushed up as I guess -- like in every Allied armed forces of WWII era (also in our ones) to allow to write nice stories about war and its heroes. Since the beginning of aviation every year or two the airplanes, including big airliners, are hitting highways, houses, farms, and nobody halts development of aviation due to such tragedies. Descending Concorde hit a hotel and killed people over there but nobody in the world thinks about stopping R&D at supersonic airliners -- on the contrary, new ones are coming. Etc., etc., etc. That is totally impossible that one cart hit somebody's house and that "historical" fact was "so fundamental" that eliminated professional rough-field landing procedures from the US cargo gliders.
The part of the British Hotspur Mk Is and all Hotspur Mk II gliders had jettisonable (metal) tail skid and nobody of the British authorities paid regard if it may hit somebody's house or not. Let's remember as well that all Hotspurs had jettisonable main undercarriage and also nobody of the RAF, Glider Pilot Regiment, Air Ministry or War Cabinet asked domestic public opinion "Can we drop the elements of our military gliders over your heads?". That was a cost of war although it may sound brutally. The same goes for Horsa where main undercarriage could be (optionally) jettisonable and nobody asked UK's community "Can we drop that heavy elements over your heads?" because good training of glider pilots was more important than possible civil casualties on ground.
As I mentioned above -- try Charles to find the report after Soviet presentation of the BDP cargo glider prepared for the Western Allies and what the American delegation noted down about landing system of that Soviet cargo glider. I assure you that you will not find any negative information against skid-type landing gear and rough-field landing procedure on the skids
Lack of tactical landing gears for the CG-4As was only one small element in very, very long chain of similar facts directed against the USAAF glidermen. It was nothing new in America because it was a continuation of interwar policy against American soaring and gliding when all wise initiatives were killed by various level authorities. During WWII the Soaring Society of America set up a PR campaign to show the Army's lack of strategic vision related to military gliding and lack of the Army's understanding what gliding in fact is. More than 20 years long US Armed Forces were "logical arguments-proof" when it comes to gliding and nothing changed during WWII. Even such noted VIPs of aviation as Edward V. Rickenbacker and Charles Lindbergh, among others, could do nothing against anti-gliding bureaucratic barriers in the USA although they did their best to promote in the USA the German manner of youth education at the gliders controls. It has come to nothing.
The USAAF GPs were the victims of brutal system. Lack of tactical landing gears for the CG-4As; lack of aerodynamic Griswold nose for the CG-4As; lack of BOGNPDs for the CG-4As; lack of compasses in instrument panels of the CG-4As; lack of Army's understanding what gliding in fact is; lack of Army's understanding for glider pilot work; lack of top experienced, charismatic airman and gliderman as a Director of the AGP after Barringer and du Pont's death -- that was a logical sequence the same as other logical sequence of interwar period that pushed down American soaring/gliding before WWII on far margin of the world's gliding.
What happened to the CG-4As tactical landing gears was logical sequence the same as known in the USA in interwar period and it was a continuation of the same unfriendly, or even aggressive policy against development of American soaring and gliding. Why before WWII American glidermen lost their lives in unregistered gliders? Wasn't it a shame for America? It was a curiosity in the world scale. One American house hit by jettisonable wheeled cart of one CG-4A cannot be today an argument in serious discussion about the AGP the more so that the CG-4As started to their assaults not from the USA. The USAAF glider pilots confronted themselves not against "one cart case study" but against very unfriendly military system -- the system that never understood the glidermen.
The US WWII era military officials, never court-martialed for it, took away the USAAF glider pilots their last chance for relatively normal off-field landing in combat conditions. This is unique fact in entire aeronautics history and somebody must tell it frankly today in the USA because it is big warning for both present and future generations, not in America only. The mentality of military decision makers has always been the same all over the world and the communities ought to know how military treats the people.
Both the US FAA and European EASA promote very intensively today for flight safety the term "Just Culture" as well as famous James T. Reason's theory and his so-called Swiss Cheese Model. The aviation professionals know what am I writing about and no place here to explain it all in a wider form. The Just Culture is an open project that concerns entire aeronautics history, not only today's activities in the military and civil aviation. The AGP history, as well as American interwar soaring and gliding, is big warning in global scale.
The historical facts are the following:
● The Germans during WWII era glider assault operations (I emphasize "assault operations", not flights with supplies to hardened airstrips or conventional airfields) landed on the skids;
● The Soviets during all possible WWII era glider operations landed on the skids because all models of their cargo gliders were designed to perform skid-type landing;
● The British Horsa pilot had jettisonable wheeled landing gear at his disposal and -- according to situation -- he could decide how to land, on the wheels or skid;
● In all the countries mentioned above flight mechanics was at the same high level as in the USA;
● The 3rd Reich and USSR were top experienced countries in the field of gliding and it is not a random that both of them decided to equip their cargo gliders with skid-type landing gears;
● The only one country of WWII era that used cargo gliders in mass quantities and that did not give the glider pilots possibility to land safely on the skids was the USA;
● When it comes to emergency or the other off-field landings nothing changed up to this time since the beginning of aeronautics. If the pilot has a possibility to belly-landing off-field then he does it without opening retractable landing gear because wheeled gear is deadly dangerous for off-field landings. These are fundamental rules of flying the USA broke during WWII against own GPs and GIRs because somebody did not order on time sufficient number of simple jettisonable wheeled carts for the CG-4As.
To sum up -- we cannot create today the USA as a "pioneer" of "newly-invented" during WWII rough-field landings on the wheels because it would be untruth, what is more it would be injurious for the American scholars, R&D centers, all US airmen and aviation industry. Whatever the USAAF documents tell today about lack of deliveries of tactical landing gears for the CG-4As, and how much that scandalous affair has been hushed up, the USA was not an inventor of "new" and "ambitious" technique of rough-field landing on the wheels. Every US citizen who lost his life during turnover on board of CG-4A was killed by American hands only, never enemy ones. He was killed by the officials who did not order tactical landing gears for all CG-4As. The German, Soviet and British cargo gliders did not turnover during rough-field landings. Incorrectly designed and balanced for rough-field landing the CG-4A, additionally being on the wheels, turnovered very easy and killed American soldiers in nonsensical manner. The people responsible for lack of tactical landing gears for the CG-4As ought to be court-martialed because they did unique thing against own nation in entire aeronautics history. We have to remember about it looking at the AGP from today's perspective.
For the Market mission, after selecting the person to ride in the co-pilot seat, the GP gave that man basic instruction and information for flying and landing in case the GP was killed. There were several instances where that glider-rider co-pilot had to land the glider. A glider rider in Wisconsin says his glider pilot and rider-co-pilot were killed. He was sitting behind the pilot who he pulled out of the seat, then climbed into the seat and landed the glider. When he landed, the glider stopped when it went into a drainage ditch. For this and other action to save his fellow glider riders within minutes after landing, he received the Bronze Star.
It could be lucky coincidence that non-pilot landed successfully. He had to be very close to ground line when pilot did as much as he could to land safely before he died at the controls.
Believe me -- nobody would be able to land (relatively) safely without glider pilotage course. Landing is the most difficult phase of flight and no wonder that more than 80 percent of accidents in aeronautics history takes place during landing. That Wisconsin man is a great hero but simultaneously he is a lucky man as well.
The Bronze Star for him is very modest decoration. Too modest. The Army/USAAF did so many things against its own GPs and GIR troops that a man mentioned by you ought to be top decorated. But that was this Pentagon's arrogance towards GPs and GIRs as mentioned after WWII by glider pilot F/O George Brennan. It is not only my opinion that the USAAF GPs were treated like last category airmen and soldiers.
He never had a co-pilot something I used to think was unusual. I wish he had been one of the few guys who broke regulations and kept a journal.
It would be hard to say that he broke American aviation law -- first of all American military system broke the law against him and his colleagues glider pilots as well as GIR troops. The USAAF glider pilots were very well educated and well trained and they had the right to expect from their politicians and military decision makers that they will be treated professionally as all the other pilots of the US Armed Forces then. But they were not.
Sad to say but the Paragraphs 20.616 and 20.64, as I mentioned earlier, were not the only ones broken during WWII by the US Army and USAAF against their own citizens and servicemen -- the glider pilots and GIR troops. The same goes for the Paragraph 04.511 called then "Visual-Contact Day Flying" ("Day VFR" according to modern terminology) and Paragraph 04.512 called "Visual-Contact Night Flying" ("Night VFR" as called today). Look at historical images and check how many times the CG-4As flew with incomplete instrument panels in the place where compass had to be installed. According to today's terminology such Paragraphs as 04.511 and 04.512 are called MEL (Minimum Equipment List). It means that there is minimum acceptable set of instruments in aerial craft and below this number you do not have the right to fly. The Paragraphs 04.511 and 04.512 defined the same parameters. Magnetic compass belonged to MEL as we would tell today.
The Army and USAAF broke against own glider pilots and GIR troops so many Paragraphs of the American aviation law and they did it so many times that the first and main institution researching the AGP ought be the JAG. But WWII era JAG chose ostrich policy and they closed their eyes to do not see how the glider pilots and GIR troops were treated from law point of view. For the JAG more important was famous deserter Eddie Slovik than investigation to check how many glider pilots and GIR troops were killed by the American hands -- by military officials. Hard to believe but American law halted itself then in front of the USAAF TCC air bases and the glider pilots lived under glass cloche -- totally isolated of objective independent flight safety inspectors. Censorship caused that they were isolated of everybody who would be able to intervene against treating them like gladiators. Even such a tyrant and criminal as Joseph Stalin, who murdered more than 20 million of his own citizens, has never treated his military glider pilots as the US Army and USAAF did it.
Imagine the following situation: There is the D-Day, June 6th, 1944. You fly at night, you are the pilot of CG-4A. You do not have your co-pilot -- with pilotage you can count on yourself only. The Air Classics Magazine described many years ago how much lonely glider pilot at the CG-4A controls was overtired and how much he broke down due to pilotage of that non-aerodynamical and pilot-unfriendly glider. You are overtired and your nerves are on edge. You are in the last phase before approaching after tow rope release. Weather conditions are very hard during passing Type I Cold Front with its big catalog of clouds -- from bottom to top: Stratocumulus, Cumulus, Nimbostratus, Cumulonimbus, Altostratus and Cirrostratus. You see cloudy sky typical more for IFR conditions -- the US glider pilots have never been trained for -- than Night VFR as trained by the USAAF glider pilots in insufficient flying hours. Due to stormy weather and clouds you do not see the Moon. You fly in radio silence restriction -- you cannot ask anybody via radio where is upwind direction (correct and safe for landing) and where is downwind direction (deadly dangerous during landing for both planes and gliders). You cannot ask via radio if the last weather report as known from pre-mission briefing changed or not and how may be wind direction now over your LZ. The last "friend" in your cockpit could be a compass (you do not see the Moon) to direct your CG-4A upwind. You remember expected wind direction over LZ as it was presented in pre-mission briefing. Remembering it you would like to place your glider upwind according to all rules of flying. But you do not have a compass in your instrument panel! You know absolutely nothing where you fly and how you fly -- upwind, downwind or cross-wind? You are like sentenced to death by your own military authorities because somebody decided that in the USAAF structure you are last category pilot although your education and training are not worse that the other, non-glider, USAAF pilots. The Germans need not to shoot at your glider -- you are officially sentenced to suicide by your own military decision makers. Did anybody hear that US fighter, bomber or transport pilots flew then without compasses? You are over Normandy in the darkness and you see nothing to decide about correct direction of landing. You know that in a moment you will have to open the spoilers but you do not know if they will operate like the brakes or like "sails" pushing your glider ahead to catastrophe. You do not know it because you do not have a compass and any other tactical-navigational information related to your position in the airspace.
That is why the USAAF glider pilots are unknown type of WWII heroes. There were no other GPs of WWII era who were forced by their government to fly combat missions being unprepared for. They were the greatest heroes unknown in entire aeronautics history because they had two enemies -- own incompetent, arrogant and soulless military bureaucracy at the rears and the Germans in front of them. I would build huge monuments of the USAAF GPs in every State of the USA. The question is when American public opinion will know entire truth about the US Army's American Glider Program?
Edited by cutiger83, 31 July 2014 - 10:03 AM.
update dead photo link