×
Military Pay Military Ranks Aircraft / Aviation Land Systems Small Arms Naval Warfare
HOME
AVIATION
MODERN AIR FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE
WORLD WAR 2

General Aircraft Hamilcar


Towed Heavy-class Combat Glider


Aviation / Aerospace

The General Aircraft Hamilcar heavy glider was used to ferry troops, vehicles and supplies during large-scale airborne-minded operations.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 1/21/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
It soon dawned on warplanners as World War 2 (1939-1945) ramped up that the far-reaching campaigns of the conflict would ultimately require equally-far-reaching aircraft in achieving total victory. This led to development of many powered and unpowered forms to help move man, machines and supplies from Point A to Point B. The General Aircraft "Hamilcar" was one of the unpowered contributors to the war effort (albeit on a limited scale), developed by the British and able to carry heavier-than-normal loads such as light-class combat tanks and similar vehicles.

The development of the Hamilcar coincided with the growth of the British airborne forces. Airborne elements, at their core, were forced to enter battle zones rather lightly-armed and with no armored vehicles in support. Lightweight artillery pieces became a traditional part of the inventory but these fighting forces really lacked the advantage of fighting alongside mechanized armor carrying powerful guns.

The British Air Ministry devised several specifications for its glider formations ranging from an 8-passenger form all the way up to the vehicle-carrying Hamilcar (Specification X.27/40). General Aircraft Limited was pushed to develop the aircraft for the latter role and, with that in mind, company engineers went to work and developed a large aircraft with a boat-hull and elevated flight deck. The wing mainplanes were high-mounted along the fuselage sides and a traditional single-finned tail unit was fitted. The fuselage was made purposely deep to accept the oversized loads intended. A wheeled undercarriage was used for ground running.

As completed, the Hamilcar featured a flight crew of two and could haul weight loads of up to seven tons. Its length was 68 feet with a wingspan measuring 110 feet and a total height of 20.2 feet. Empty weight was 18,400lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 36,000lb. As the aircraft remained unpowered during its descent, its performance was limited by design and gravity. The listed "never exceed speed" was 187 miles per hour and descent was usually around the 150 mile per hour range. Stalling speed was 65 miles per hour.

The series received its designation of GAL.49 "Hamilcar" in 1941 and the prototype went airborne for the first time on March 27th, 1942. A smaller-scale version of the aircraft was earlier used for testing the design sound and this was known as the GAL.50. Before the end of 1942, some 10 pre-series aircraft were completed. The Hamilcar was then cleared for service that same year but problems (with both British military leadership and production logistics) meant that the series did not begin serious manufacture until the middle of 1943. Before the end of production in 1946 (the war ended in 1945), just 344 of the type were completed in all.

First-actions involving British forces and the Hamilcar were in Operation Tonga, the airborne and amphibious landings at Normandy (France). The Americans had become interesting the oversized gliders but the USAAF demand was such that General Aircraft could not fulfill it and the partnership came to naught. Future operations involving the glider were Operation Market Garden (A Bridge Too Far) and Operation Varsity (as part of Operation Plunder). Varsity marked the last combat use of the Hamilcar though the fleet continued in peace-time service with the British for a little time longer though, by the mid-1950s, all were out of circulation.

Variants of the line were non-existent though some were planned beyond the original Mark I form. This included the Hamilcar Mark X which was intended as a tropicalized combat glider, namely for the Pacific island-hopping campaigns against the Japanese. Modifications to the Hamilcar in this form included the addition of 2 x Bristol Mercury air-cooled radial piston engines to the wings to provide the aircraft (and its mothership) additional pull power. At least two prototypes were converted in this way and were found to be sufficient haulers. Despite some ten aircraft added to the stock, the war ended before these could be of any use to anyone.

Throughout its operational history, the Hamilcar glider remained solely in British service, this with the Army and Royal Air Force branches.


Specifications



Year:
1942
Status
Retired, Out-of-Service
Crew
2
[ 344 Units ] :
General Aircraft Ltd - UK
National flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom (retired)
- Transport
- Special Forces
Length:
68.01 ft (20.73 m)
Width:
110.01 ft (33.53 m)
Height:
20.24 ft (6.17 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the General Aircraft Hamilcar production model)
Empty Weight:
18,400 lb (8,346 kg)
MTOW:
35,999 lb (16,329 kg)
(Diff: +17,600lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the General Aircraft Hamilcar production model)
None. This was a towed glider transport.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the General Aircraft Hamilcar production model)
Max Speed:
149 mph (240 kph; 130 kts)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the General Aircraft Hamilcar production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
None.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the General Aircraft Hamilcar production model)
GAL. 49 "Hamilcar" - Company Designation
GAL. 50 - Company Half-Scale Model Designation
Hamilcar Mk I - Base Series Designation
Hamilcar Mk X - Power Late-War Variant; intended for use in Pacific Campaign; never produced.
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies
Military Ranks | Military Pay | Aviation | Land Systems | Infantry | Navy Warfare | American War Deaths | 5-Star Generals | Military Alphabet Code | DoD Terms | Convert Knots to Miles-per-Hour



The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world and WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-