Bronco 1/35 Horsa Glider Wings and Tail Unit
|Scott Van Aken
The Airspeed AS.51 Horsa was a British World War II troop-carrying glider built by Airspeed Limited and subcontractors and used for air assault by British and Allied armed forces. It was named after Horsa, the legendary 5th-century conqueror of southern Britain.
With up to 30 troop seats, the Horsa was much bigger than the 13-troop American Waco CG-4A (known as the Hadrian by the British), and the 8-troop General Aircraft Hotspur glider which was intended for training duties only. Instead of troops, the AS 51 could carry a jeep or a 6 pounder anti tank gun.
The Horsa was first used operationally on the night of 19/20 November 1942 in the unsuccessful attack on the German Heavy Water Plant at Rjukan in Norway (Operation Freshman). The two Horsa gliders, each carrying 15 sappers, and one of the Halifax tug aircraft, crashed in Norway due to bad weather. All 23 survivors from the glider crashes were executed on the orders of Hitler, in a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention which protects POWs from summary execution.
The aircraft was subsequently used during the invasion of Sicily, the Normandy invasion, in Southern France, during operation Market Garden and in the crossings of the Rhine. Post war, the type was evaluated by several nations, but the day of the troop carrying glider was over and all extant examples were scrapped or converted to other uses.
On 5 June 2004, as part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of D-Day, Prince Charles unveiled a replica Horsa on the site of the first landing at Pegasus Bridge, and talked with Jim Wallwork, the first pilot to land the aircraft on French soil during D-Day.
Ten replicas were built for use in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far, mainly for static display and set-dressing, although one Horsa was modified to make a brief "hop" towed behind a Dakota at Deelen, the Netherlands. During the production, seven of the replicas were damaged in a wind storm; the contingent were repaired in time for use in the film. Five of the Horsa "film models" were destroyed during filming with the survivors sold as a lot to John Hawke, aircraft collector in the UK. Another mock-up for close-up work came into the possession of the Ridgeway Military & Aviation Research Group and is stored at Welford, Berkshire.
Those who like to do WWII dioramas will find this to be a very useful kit as it is easy to see it being used in many mid-late war European projects. Aircraft modelers will want to go for the full aircraft.
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Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local retailer.
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