The Glider Pilot Regiment 1942-1945

 

 

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The Airborne Jeep

 

The Jeep, despite looking like a car, was always classified by the US Army as a light truck. In British Army parlance it was referred to as a 'Car, 5cwt, 4x4'. Bantam BRC, Ford GP and Willys MA versions went via Lend-Lease to Britain.

The basic Jeep underwent little change during the War. In addition to personnel carriers they were also used to tow trailers and artillery and could be adapted to carry stretchers - the record standing at seven stretchers (two behind the driver, three on a platform above and two transversely across the bonnet).

The Airborne Jeep had some twenty-eight modifications to allow it a) to fit better into a glider and b) to carry extra fuel, weapons, ammunition and other equipment. Also, unlike the standard Jeep, the Airborne variant had its War Department number painted in an eggshell shade of blue.

 

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QF 6pdr anti-tank gun Mk 2

 

MAF

 

The standard Mk 2 was too wide for the Horsa, so the Carriage Mk 3 was developed to overcome this problem. The gun fired both HE (High Explosive) and AP (Anti Personnel) rounds. Effective at 5,000 yds (4500 m) it had a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute. Its towing vehicle was the Jeep.

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75mm Pack Howitzer M8

  MAF

This artillery piece derives its name from the fact that it could be broken down into its constituent parts and carried by horse or mules. The American Airborne Forces saw the potential of the Pack Howitzer and developed the M8 variant.  It was effective at 10,000 yds (8800 m) and fired HE and Armour Piercing rounds at a rate of 3-6 rounds per minute. Its towing vehicle was also the Jeep.

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Polsten 20mm

The Polsten originated in Poland and was that country’s answer to the Swiss Oerlikon. At the start of World War II, the plans for the new gun were taken to the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield and handed over to R V Shepperd and H J Turpin (creators of the Sten gun). The two designers added some refinements to the plans and the result was a 20mm gun with a rate of fire of 450 rounds per minute.

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Clarkair Crawler

The Clark Equipment Company, of Battle Creek Michigan, developed the ‘Crawler’ for the American Army during World War II. Its small size allowed the bulldozer to be airlifted by large aircraft or glider. Under the Lend-Lease agreement, several Crawlers were shipped to Britain for use with Airborne Forces. In all, some 1100 Crawlers were built.

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QF 17 pdr anti-tank gun

This was a 3 in calibre gun which could penetrate 130 mm of armour at 1,000 yds (900 m). It was generally towed by a Morris Commercial C8/AT Mk3.

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Universal Carrier

  MAF

The British Universal Carrier, to give this vehicle its proper name, was the most widely used of all AFVs during the war. Popularly known as the Bren Carrier, it came in several versions. The airborne version was the Bren Mk1. It mounted a .303 Bren LMG and had a crew of 3.

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Morris Commercial C8/AT Mk3

The Airborne version of the Morris Commercial C8/AT Mk3 was to all intents and purposes the same as its anti-aircraft version.  Reducing the weight allowed it to be used in conjunction with the 17 pounder.

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Vickers "Tetrarch" Light Tank Mk VII

Vickers built 177 of this private venture tank. It was used by 6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regiment on Operation Mallard.  It had a top speed of 40 mph (65 kph). Its usual armament was a 2 pdr (40mm) main gun and co-axial BESA machine-gun. The close support variant was fitted with a 3 in (80mm) howitzer.

M22 Light Tank – “Locust”

 

The American M22 was built by the Marmon-Herrington Corporation. It had a top speed of 35 mph (60 kph). Its turret mounted M3 33mm Anti-Tank gun could penetrate up to 45mm of armour plate at 1000 yards. Eight of these tanks were carried on Operation Varsity. Seven made it to the landing area. Only four of these eventually went into action.

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Photos courtesy of: MAF-Museum of Army Flying