No. 9968. Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Royal Air Force
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 2012

Airspeed AS.51 Horsa

08/31/2010. The AS.51 Horsa was designed to Specification X.26/40 and was the RAF's first operational troop-carrying glider. The prototype (s/n DG597) was first flown in 1941 and was followed by 3,655 production aircraft, 695 of which were built by the parent firm at Christchurch and the rest by various sub-contractors, mainly wood-working firms who were well able to manufacture such a simple all-wooden structure.

The Horsa had a crew of two pilots and could carry 20-25 troops. Its first use in operational service was on November 19, 1942, when two Horsas were towed by Halifaxes from a base in Scotland to attack a German heavy-water plant in southern Norway. Each Horsa carried 15 sappers. Horsa gliders were next used in action during the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943, 27 having reached North Africa on July 7, 1943 after having been towed all the way from England by Halifaxes. Horsas again figured prominently in the airborne landings in Normandy in June 1944, when over 250 were in action.

At Arnhem, in September 1944, 320 Horsas were used in the first lift on the 17th and 296 in the second lift the following day. Their final operation was in March 1945, when 440 British gliders carried men of the 6th Airborne Division across the Rhine.

Created August 31, 2010