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Great Britain's General Aircraft Hamilcar glider

Photos

  • General Aircraft Hamilcar glider
  • General Aircraft Hamilcar glider
  • General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk I glider
  • General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk I glider
  • General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk I glider
  • General Aircraft Hamilcar glider

Design

The General Aircraft Hamilcar was designed to carry heavy payloads to landing zones. It could carry a Tetrarch, Locust, two Bren carriers, a 17 pdr gun, a mobile Bofors gun, or other equipment.

The Hamilcar was made from wood.

Cargo Bay

The cargo bay was 25' 6" / 7.77 m long, 8' / 2.44 m wide, and 7' 6" / 2.29 m high. The nose of the Hamilcar was hinged for easy loading and unloading.

Undercarriage

There were wheels for takeoff which were jettisoned allowing for the Hamilcar to land on skids.

Tugs

The usual tug for the Hamilcar were Halifaxes, Lancasters, and sometimes Stirlings.

Prototype

A half scale prototype first flew on March 27, 1942.

Production

General Aircraft built the first 22, and the rest by subcontractors under the guidance of Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company.

  • Prototypes: 2
  • Hamilcar Mk I: 410, 412
  • Hamilcar Mk X: ~20 converted, 22 converted
  • Total: 412
    • Manufacturer: General Aircraft Ltd.

Variants

  • Hamilcar Mk I: Main production version.
  • Hamilcar Mk X: Conversion of Mk I. Was to be used against Japan. With two engines it could take off under its own power. 100 were originally ordered but on 22 were completed by the end of World War II. None saw action.

Usage

Normandy

70 Hamilcars took part in the landings on June 6, 1944, at Normandy with the 6th Airborne Division. They were towed by Halifaxes.

Arnhem

In September 1944, at Arnhem, 28 Hamilcars were used.

Rhine Crossing

The Hamilcar was used during the Rhine crossings.

Specifications

  General Aircraft Hamilcar
Type Glider, Transport Glider
Crew 2
Passengers / Cargo 15,500 lb, 17,500 lb
7,950 kg
Engine (Type) None
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.53 m
Length 68'
20.7 m, 20.73 m
Height 20' 3"
6.17 m, 6.2 m
Wing area 1,657.5 sq ft
154 sq m
Weight  
Empty 18,400 l
8,350 kg
Loaded 36,000 lb, 37,000 lb
16,330 kg
Performance  
Maximum towing speed 150 mph
240 kph
Maximum diving speed 187 mph
300 kph
Stall speed 65 mph
105 kph
Speed 150 mph
  General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk I
Type Transport glider
Crew 2
Passengers / Cargo 17,500 lb
7,938 kg
Engine (Type) None
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.53 m
Length 68'
20.73 m
Height 20' 3"
6.17 m
Wing Area 1,658 sq ft
154.03 sq m
Weight  
Empty 19,500 lb
8,845 kg
Loaded 37,000 lb
16,783 kg
Performance  
Maximum towing speed 150 mph
241 kph
Maximum diving speed 187 mph
301 kph
Stall speed 65 mph
105 kph
  General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk X
Type  
Passengers / Cargo 17,500 lb, 21,400 lb
7,950 kg, 9,707 kg
Engine (Type) 2: Bristol Mercury
2: Bristol Mercury 31
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
HP 965 each
Propeller blades 2 each, Fixed pitch wooden
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.5 m
Length 68'
20.7 m
Height 20' 3"
6.2 m
Wing area 1,657.5 sq ft
154 sq m
Weight  
Empty 25,510 lb
11,571 kg, 11580 kg
Loaded 32,500 lb, 45,500 lb
14,742 kg, 14,760 kg, 20,660 kg
Maximum load for towing 47,000 lb
21,319 kg, 21,340 kg
Performance  
Maximum towing speed 150 mph
240 kph
Speed 145 mph, 150 mph
232 kph, 233 kph
Speed - Cruising 120 mph
192 kph
Climb 435' - 730' per minute
133 m - 224 m per minute
Service ceiling 13,000'
3,070 m
Range 705 miles
1,135 km
Maximum ferry range with no payload 1,675 miles
2,695 km

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site