Help support TMP


"Did 1st airborne have glider born tanks at Arnheim?" Topic


18 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board



1,055 hits since 3 Apr 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2018 2:24 p.m. PST

Or didn't they bother as they expected real tanks soon anyway.
If they didn't have. Would it have made a difference if they had?

foxweasel03 Apr 2018 2:31 p.m. PST

No they didn't. We could argue all day about would they have made a difference, might have got to the bridge quickly enough to take both ends, might not. It's impossible to say now.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2018 2:42 p.m. PST

Yes, but not impossible to game.

Vince

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2018 3:42 p.m. PST

What glider born tanks would have been available?

Wherethestreetshavnoname03 Apr 2018 4:06 p.m. PST

Tetrarch/MkVIII?

thomalley03 Apr 2018 4:24 p.m. PST

The C87 (cargo version of the B24) could carry 6 tons, so what tank did you have in mind.

Wherethestreetshavnoname03 Apr 2018 4:32 p.m. PST

The C87 wasn't a glider…

The British Hamilcar gliders that were used to land troops and equipment at Arnhem had a payload that was capable of landing Tetrarch and Locust tanks.

They carried Locusts during Operation Varsity in 1945.

Starfury Rider03 Apr 2018 5:00 p.m. PST

The Hamilcar glider was used to transport Tetrarch tanks of 6th Abn Armd Recce Regt into Normandy in Jun44. From memory none of the Tetrarch taken in were in any state of repair for another flight after three months in Normandy (the war diary is available on pegasusarchive.org). I'm not sure whether there were any other stocks in the UK that could have been used, and the Regt only got back to the UK about 10 days before Arnhem.

1st Abn Div had 28 Hamilcars for Arnhem; 16 for 17-pdrs, 9 each with a pair of Universal carrier (based on two per Para and A/L Bn)and 3 for supplies. More were allocated to the Polish Bde.

Gary

Martin Rapier03 Apr 2018 7:34 p.m. PST

The armoured vehicles they brought with them were carriers and the armoured jeeps of the recce squadron.

The 6pdr and 17pdr AT guns were rather more useful against German armour than Tretrachs would have been.

uglyfatbloke04 Apr 2018 3:52 a.m. PST

The carriers were for ferrying supplies rather than for use as per infantry battalions. The jeeps were not armoured beyond mounting the spare wheel on the front to protect the engine. Tetrarchs would n't have been any use at all against German tanks, but might have held their own against armoured cars and FlaK vehicles and probably would not have been stopped in their tracks by small arms fire as the jeeps were on the track alongside the railway line.
Tetrarchs make for good 'what if' wargame scenarios though, but not (IMO) as interesting as just using the recce squadron as a recce squadron instead of a 'coup-de-main' force. OTH we've had some excellent games where the recce squadron is assumed to have reached their objective and then has to hold off a German counter-attack.

thomalley04 Apr 2018 7:10 a.m. PST

I know the C87 was powered. That was the point, it had the largest cargo load and still couldn't carry a tank. I now see that my idea of a tank isn't the same as others.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2018 1:03 p.m. PST

Gaming with the glider tanks is always worth it!

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2018 2:51 p.m. PST

The British 1st Airborne Division did receive some Tetrarch tanks. But they never used them during any airborne operations.

The only British Airborne formation to take tanks in to action by air during WW2 was 6th Airborne Division, which operated light tanks as part of their integral 6th Airborne Armored Recon Regiment. As mentioned they used a few Tetrarchs during their D-Day landings. By mid-summer 1944 all Tetrarchs were retired from British Airborne formations.

The general view was that the Tetrarch was unsuccessful in the airborne role. There were two reasons:
1 ) It was not safe to transport and land it in the Hamilcar glider. This was known before the Normandy landings. Oddly, the Hamilcar was specified and designed to carry the Tetrarch, but once both were in hand it became clear the Tetrarch was just a bit too heavy for safe operation.

2 ) Tanks as light as the Tetrarch were not useful as combat tanks. They drew too much fire and were too fragile.

After the Normandy campaign the 6th Airborne's armored recon transitioned to the US-made M22 Locust. This tank was developed to meet the safe operating limits of the Hamilcar glider. The 6th Airborne used these US-provided "pocket tanks" during the Operation Varsity crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.

They found the same 2nd lesson, from above, still applied. The 1st lesson was still kind of true as well. It was very hard to fly and land a glider on unknown fields with a load as heavy as a mini-tank. Several were lost in transit and landing. The rest, when they did get them moving, drew so much fire that no one wanted to take them along for combat tasks.

Paratrooper operations often take highly visible places in the annals of military history. Perhaps this is because of their very rarity, or perhaps it is because of the sense of adventure that historians and students of history attach to the aggressive spirit of the warrior who uses vertical envelopment to fall upon his unprepared enemies. Regardless of the cause, it seems that Operation Varsity bucks that trend, being perhaps the most under-examined and under-appreciated airborne operation in military history.

It was the largest combat airlift and air drop ever conducted in a single day. It involved the use of glider-borne tanks. It was hotly contested, and yet one of the most successful airborne operations – General Eisenhower described it as "the most successful airborne operation carried out to date." But who knows the story? It appears only as a footnote beside other great airborne operations.

Most students of WW2 history know the stories of Fort Eben-Emael, the church in St Mère Église, Pegasus Bridge, or "a bridge too far" at Arnhem, but have you ever heard of "Burp Gun Corner" in Wesel? Brits revere their 1st Airborne Division, and Americans know of the storied 82nd and 101st Divisions. But who knows of the British 6th Airborne or US 17th Airborne?

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 405 Apr 2018 5:48 a.m. PST

but have you ever heard of "Burp Gun Corner" in Wesel? Brits revere their 1st Airborne Division, and Americans know of the storied 82nd and 101st Divisions. But who knows of the British 6th Airborne or US 17th Airborne?
I do … but history of the Airborne/Paras is one of my favorite areas of study. And don't forget about the 11th ABN Div and 503d in the PTO … evil grin

HANS GRUBER05 Apr 2018 6:33 a.m. PST

As I recall the 9th & 10th SS panzer divisions were rather weak in tanks, but reasonably well supplied with artillery and flak. I doubt if a few British light tanks would have made much of a difference.

Thomas Thomas Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 8:47 a.m. PST

Varsity also featured the first use of Recoiless Rifles (by US 17th). Another odd feature was the para landing occurred after the river assault to insure rapid link up.

Not sure the size and abilities of the German defenders but there were certainly some local battles worth trying to recreate on the table top.

TomT

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 9:10 a.m. PST

A Tetrarch does hold the distinction of being the fastest tank ever after the glider carrying it crashed, it broke loose and catapulted forward. Sadly the crew were not in any condition to fight and neither was the tank.

Fred Cartwright05 Apr 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

It was the largest combat airlift and air drop ever conducted in a single day. It involved the use of glider-borne tanks. It was hotly contested, and yet one of the most successful airborne operations – General Eisenhower described it as "the most successful airborne operation carried out to date." But who knows the story? It appears only as a footnote beside other great airborne operations.

The thing that always strikes me about Varsity was that is was a regimental drop conducted in multidivisional strength. It is hardly surprising it was successful the dice were loaded heavily in favour of the airborne contingent in advance. For example the drop started after several crossings had already been established. The whole of the drop area was within range of allied artillery ensuring rapid and massive artillery support if needed. There had been a heavy preceding air softening up of the defences. Varsity was not an operation of the likes of Crete or Market Garden or a coup de main like Eben Emael, it was essentially massive overkill.
Crete for the Germans and Market Garden for the allies were the end of the use of airborne forces as a gran tactical/strategic force. After those ops airborne were relegated to the roll of supporting players.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.