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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.1 It could carry a Tetrarch, Locust, two Bren carriers, a 17 pdr gun, a mobile Bofors gun, or other equipment.1,3

The Hamilcar was made from wood.1

Cargo Bay

The cargo bay was 25' 6" / 7.77 m long, 8' / 2.44 m wide, and 7' 6" / 2.29 m high.1,4 The nose of the Hamilcar was hinged for easy loading and unloading.1,2,4

Undercarriage

There were wheels for takeoff which were jettisoned allowing for the Hamilcar to land on skids.1

Tugs

The usual tug for the Hamilcar were Halifaxes, Lancasters, and sometimes Stirlings.1,2,3

Prototype

A half scale prototype first flew on March 27, 1942.1,2,4

Production

General Aircraft built the first 22, and the rest by subcontractors under the guidance of Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company.1

  • Prototypes: 21
  • Hamilcar Mk I: 4101, 4124
  • Hamilcar Mk X: ~20 converted2, 22 converted1
  • Total: 4121,2
    • Manufacturer: General Aircraft Ltd.2

Variants

  • Hamilcar Mk I: Main production version.1
  • Hamilcar Mk X: Conversion of Mk I.1,4 Was to be used against Japan.1,4 With two engines it could take off under its own power.1,2,4 100 were originally ordered but on 22 were completed by the end of World War II.1 None saw action.1

Usage

Normandy

70 Hamilcars took part in the landings on June 6, 1944, at Normandy with the 6th Airborne Division.1,2,4 They were towed by Halifaxes.4

Arnhem

In September 1944, at Arnhem, 28 Hamilcars were used.1

Rhine Crossing

The Hamilcar was used during the Rhine crossings.1

Specifications

  General Aircraft Hamilcar
Type Glider1,3, Transport Glider2
Crew 22
Passengers / Cargo 15,500 lb2, 17,500 lb3
7,950 kg3
Engine (Type) None2
Dimensions  
Span 110'1,2,3
33.53 m1,3
Length 68'1,2,3
20.7 m3, 20.73 m1
Height 20' 3"1,2,3
6.17 m1, 6.2 m3
Wing area 1,657.5 sq ft3
154 sq m3
Weight  
Empty 18,400 l3
8,350 kg3
Loaded 36,000 lb3, 37,000 lb2
16,330 kg3
Performance  
Maximum towing speed 150 mph3
240 kph3
Maximum diving speed 187 mph3
300 kph3
Stall speed 65 mph3
105 kph3
Speed 150 mph2
  General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk I
Type Transport glider4
Crew 21
Passengers / Cargo 17,500 lb1
7,938 kg1
Engine (Type) None1
Dimensions  
Span 110'4
33.53 m4
Length 68'4
20.73 m4
Height 20' 3"4
6.17 m4
Wing Area 1,658 sq ft4
154.03 sq m4
Weight  
Empty 19,500 lb1,4
8,845 kg1,4
Loaded 37,000 lb1,4
16,783 kg1,4
Performance  
Maximum towing speed 150 mph1,4
241 kph1,4
Maximum diving speed 187 mph1
301 kph1
Stall speed 65 mph1
105 kph1
  General Aircraft Hamilcar Mk X
Type  
Passengers / Cargo 17,500 lb3, 21,400 lb1
7,950 kg3, 9,707 kg1
Engine (Type) 2: Bristol Mercury2
2: Bristol Mercury 311,3,4
Cylinders Radial2,4, Radial 91
HP 965 each1,4
Propeller blades 2 each1, Fixed pitch wooden4
Dimensions  
Span 110'3
33.5 m3
Length 68'3
20.7 m3
Height 20' 3"3
6.2 m3
Wing area 1,657.5 sq ft3
154 sq m3
Weight  
Empty 25,510 lb1,3
11,571 kg1, 11580 kg3
Loaded 32,500 lb3,4, 45,500 lb3
14,742 kg4, 14,760 kg3, 20,660 kg3
Maximum load for towing 47,000 lb1,3
21,319 kg1, 21,340 kg3
Performance  
Maximum towing speed 150 mph3
240 kph3
Speed 145 mph1,3,4, 150 mph2
232 kph3, 233 kph1,4
Speed - Cruising 120 mph3
192 kph3
Climb 435' - 730' per minute3
133 m - 224 m per minute3
Service ceiling 13,000'3
3,070 m3
Range 705 miles1,4
1,135 km1,4
Maximum ferry range with no payload 1,675 miles1
2,695 km1

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