Horsa Glider with Airborne Jeep

During my visit of the Normandy Beaches and Museums I got to see a replica of a Horsa glider that was utilised during the fights around Pagasus Bridge. Later on I found a 1/35th scale model of the Horsa in the Victory Museum and that was, ofcourse, sold instantly. A very nice model of this glider from Bronco. As I left the Pegasus Bridge Museum I allready had the idea of a big diorama in my head that took shape after I got home and saw some pictures of this glider. Either before liftoff as a loading diorama or after the landing offloading men and equipment. Bronco also has some very good jeeps and figure sets that combine with the Horsa glider.


"The Airspeed AS.51 Horsa was a British troop-carrying glider used during the Second World War. It was developed and manufactured by Airspeed Limited, alongside various subcontractors; the type was named after Horsa, the legendary 5th-century conqueror of southern Britain. Having been greatly impressed by the effective use of airborne operations by Nazi Germany during the early stages of the Second World War, such as during the Battle of France, the Allied powers sought to establish capable counterpart forces of their own. The British War Office, determining that the role of gliders would be an essential component of such airborne forces, proceeded to examine available options. An evaluation of the General Aircraft Hotspur found it to lack the necessary size, thus Specification X.26/40 was issued. It was from this specification that Airspeed Limited designed the Horsa, a large glider capable of accommodating up to 30 fully equipped paratroopers, which was designated as the AS 51. The Horsa was inducted in large numbers by the British Army Air Corps and the Royal Air Force (RAF); both services used it to conduct various air assault operations through the conflict. The type was used to perform an unsuccessful attack on the German Heavy Water Plant at Rjukan in Norway, known as Operation Freshman, and during the invasion of Sicily, known as Operation Husky. Large numbers of Horsa were subsequently used during the opening stages of the Battle of Normandy, being used in the British Operation Tonga and American operations. It was also deployed in quantity during Operation Dragoon, Operation Market Garden, and Operation Varsity. Further use of the Horsa was made by various other armed forces, including the United States Army Air Forces." (from Wikipedia)

Above a Horsa Mk I brought down to its main parts an below a Horsa on tow, just before takeoff.

Below some pictures from Operation Varsity March 1945 in Germany near Hamminkeln.

Paratroopers exiting a Horsa Glider with their Airborne Jeep.

Paratroopers with Airborne Jeep.

British Paratroopers examining the Hamminkeln City Sign.

This picture gives a good view on the loading door. It shows paratroopers leaving a Horsa during Operation Market Garden Landings. Altough not completely clear it gives us a good view of the details of this door/ramp.

The picture above gives a very good view inside the Horsa fuselage through the opened loading ramp.

Besides the Jeep and other usefull equipent that could be loaded on the Horsa, it seems that the bicycle was also a very popular means of transportation in the field. Judging by this picture the BSA bicycle was in high demand. Below some more details of this item. Here the bicycle is shown in ts folded state en worn by a british paratrooper when carring it ready for the jump. And last but not least in action in the field.

Left in eady state. Right in folded state

Left ready for jump. Right in the field in action.

The Models and Materials needed

The real deal, Britsh Paratroopers with Welbikes. Some more information on the Welbikes can be found here.

A small article in the Field Artillery Journal of October 1944 states the following about the welbikes:"A pocket-size motorcycle helps solve one of the parachutists' greatest difficulties, transportation after reaching the ground. These folding "welbikes" are dropped in containers. They are stout enough to be ridden over rough country, develop 40 to 45 m.p.h., and yield 180 miles per gallon. So skeletonized are they that the rider at the extreme left appears to be supported only by the grass!" It provides us with another nice picture of a paratrooper with a welbike.

Where to find information

Publications found
on the Horsa Glider

A.P. 2097A&B - Pilot's Notes for Horsa I Glider - 1942

A.P. 2097A - Pilot's Notes for Horsa I Glider - 1944

RAF Airborne Forces Manual - Volume 8 (reprint)

Tugs and Gliders to Arnhem - A.J. van Hees

S.D. 528D Volume I - Airborne Forces and Supply by Air - Carriage of Equipment - 1944
This manual gives a load of info about the different loading options for the Horsa, complete with loading diagrams for the different equipent.


From RAF AB Forces Manual

"Horsa I Description (see fig. 7 below)

The Horsa I is fully described in A.P.2097A, Vol. 1. It is nominally a twenty-eight seater, high-wing, monoplane glider with a fuselage of circular section constructed in three semi-monocoque portions. Towing is effected from two points underneath the wing, at the outer ends of the centre plane main spar. The principal dimensions are as follows:

Overall length 67 ft. 0 in.
Span 88 ft. 0 in.
Overall height (to top of rudder) 19 ft. 6 in.
Fuselage diameter 7 ft. 6t in.

Controls - The flying controls are in duplicate lor the first and second pilots whose seats are arranged side by side in the nose of the glider. In addition to the flying controls a red lever operating the tow release mechanism is mounted at the top of the control pedestal, and a jettison release control lever for the undercarriage is mounted to starboard of the flap lever.

Tow release mechanism - The tow release mechanism is of the No. 6A plug and socket type. Duplicate fittings are attached to the extremities of the centre plane main spar. The mechanism comprises a retracting hook which is maintained in the closed position by a return spring, lever and link. The hook is controlled by a trigger operated from the lever in the pilots' cockpit. To insert the towing hook plug, attached to the towing cable, it is necessary to open the retracting hook by means of the pilot’s control. When the plug is inserted and the pilot’s control is released, the return spring causes the retracting hook to grip the towing hook plug. To release the glider from the towing cable, the retracting hooks are opened simultaneously by means of the pilot’s control. Full details of the tow release mechanism are given in A.P. 149213, Vol. I, Sect. 2, Chap. 2.

Jettisonable undercarriage - The main undercarriage comprises two separate triangular frames of tubular construction which pivot on brackets attached to the fuselage. The shocks are absorbed by the rubber blocks in two shock struts, one of which is interposed between each tubular structure and a bracket on each centre plane. When the jettison control is operated the shock struts are disengaged at both ends and the tubular wheel-carrying structures disengage at the inner pivoting joints.

Nose wheel - A castoring nose wheel with a rubber shock absorber is fitted to the Horsa and is used for take-off and for landing whether or not the undercarriage has been jettisoned.

Main skid - A wooden, metal-faced skid with a rubber shock-absorber moupting is attached to the underside of the fuselage.

Tail skid - A tail skid is provided anti, in addition, a tail prop for use when the glider is being loaded.

Glider equipment - The normal equipment of the Horsa 1 includes torches, vacuum flasks, a map case, sanitary tubes and one sanitary container, a 12-volt accumulator for lighting services, hatches for the operation of unmounted Bren guns, T.R.9D radio equipment and one parachute flare.

Accommodation for troops (see tig. 8) - The central cabin extends from the pilots’ cockpit to a bulkhead about six feet aft of the
wing. Access to the pilots’ cockpit is obtained from the central cabin through folding doors. The forward end of the cabin is equipped with a large door in the port side. This door is hinged along its lower edge and. when open, forms a ramp by means of which bulky equipment may be loaded or unloaded from the glider. A sliding door in the combined door and ramp is provided for the use of troops, and a second sliding door is provided at the rear of the central cabin just aft of the starboard wing. Seats are provided in the central cabin for twenty-six troops, and. in the pilots' cockpit, for a first and second pilot sitting side by side. An alternative loading of twenty-nine troops in addition to the first and second pilots is permissible in circumstances where the troops are lightly equipped. For this purpose an additional seat for three troops is fitted on the starboard side of the central cabin, opposite the forward entrance door.

Safety harness - The two pilots are provided with Sutton safety harness, Mark V. as described in A.P. 118,2 Yol 1. Part 2, Chap. 2. The troops are provided with quick-release straps which give protection against landing shocks.

Carriage of military equipment - Certain items of military equipment which may he carried in the Horsa will be found listed in the C.G. statement in A.R2097A, Sect. 4. A system of loading for heavy equipment is now being developed which includes the use of steel channels for the stowage of wheeled items. (Note: AB Jeeps and small artillery itrms like the 6-pdr Anti-Tank AirBorne Gun or the 75-mm Pack Howitzer.) Information on this subject will be published by amendment action as soon as it becomes available."

Below the 6-pdr Anti-Tank Airborne Gun

Below 6-pdr Anti-Tank Airborne Gun being loaded on the Horsa.

Publications found on
the WW 2 Jeep

British Airborne Jeeps 1942-1945 - Modifications and Markings by Rob van Meel
Publication dedicated to the Airborne Jeep. Very recommended and available from author here.

Steel Master Les Thematiques No 7 - Jeep Legende

The Military Jeep

Airborne Jeep Modifications by Rob van Meel
Click on image for article

WW II Jeep in Action - Squadron Signal no. 2042 - David Doyle

The U.S. Army Jeep at War - Steven Zaloga - Concord 7058

Publications found on
the Welbike

Excelsior Welbike by Rob van Meel
Publication dedicated to the Welbike. Very recommended and available from author here.

Classic Military Vehicles No. 205 - article "Paratrooper's Scooter"

Some pictures of the British Airborne Jeep. This Jeep had a few modifications. The most visible being the front car bumper which is shorter than on the original jeeps. This modification was made to make it possible to load the vehicle into the Horsa Glider. See this article by Rob van Meel.

Below left an Airborne Jeep with Ammo boxes for the 6 pdr AB AT Gun.

Below a British Airborne Jeep stowed inside a Horsa Glider.

Below some other pictures of an Airborne Jeep off-loading from a Horsa Glider. The left shot gives a good view on the front bumper with the equipment attached. On the right is the same Jeep. This shot gives a lot of detail also like the storage bins in the front above the bumper to hold jerrycans.

An Airborne Jeep with ammo boxes and a 6-pdr Anti-Tank Airborne Gun being loaded into a Horsa Glider.

An example of a restored Airborne Jeep can be found here.

Although this page only shows the British modified Airborne Jeep, I want to show other solutions too. One of these versions developed for glider transport was this U.S. Jeep completely equipped with the SCR-499 radio set. Shown inside a Dakota left, a CG4-A WACO right and deployed in the field. How nice would this set be as a separate building project? This combination was developed for quick deployment in the field. A complete setup would require too much time and a set like this was almost immediately available after landing. For an indepth look see this article.

Above two pictures of what looks like an airborne Jeep used by the Canadians as an ambulance. Taken on 27th of June 1944 in Basly France. This vehicle belonged to the 23rd Field Ambulance, 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

Markings for the British Airborne Jeeps.

Publications found
on the British Paratrooper

Osprey - Warrior 174 - British Paratrooper 1940-45 by Rebecca Skinner

Squadron Signal Combat Troops 3009 - British Paratroopers by Leroy Thompson

Battleground Europe - Operation Plunder - The British and Canadian Rhine Crossing by Tim Saunders





Building The Models


The Final Result