World War II CG-4A Glider Exhibit

Although most people immediately conjure up images of paratroopers descending to earth under silken canopies when they think of airborne operations during World War II, the fact remains that half of the soldiers of an airborne Division, like the 82nd , 101st or 17th, arrived on the battlefield in gliders. The CG (meaning cargo glider) 4A was a work horse for the U.S. Air Force troop carrier units, delivering soldiers, artillery, jeeps, trailers, bulldozers, medical equipment and all classes of supply to the battlefield.

Cargo Glider
Cargo Glider

Without doubt, the CG-4 is the favorite artifact of the curatorial staff. Carefully and lovingly restored during the late 1990s by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, the CG-4A illustrates an important part of airborne history. Without the gliders, the airborne divisions would not have been able to fulfill their difficult missions in Normandy, Holland and across the Rhine in March 1945. Thousands of infantry, artillery, engineer, medical, ordnance and headquarters troops landed just where they were needed and often went straight into combat.

Being a glider trooper was no picnic. Paratroopers got a parachute badge, extra pay, wore a distinctive uniform and had highly prized jump boots. Glider troops enjoyed none of these distinctions. Their duty was simple: ride an aircraft made of plywood, cloth and steel tubing into the teeth of the enemy air defenses, land and attack. One veteran paratrooper officer of the 82nd who was ordered to go into Normandy by glider on D-Day said upon landing, “These people don’t get paid enough.” The ride, he exclaimed, was far worse than a parachute jump. After Normandy, glider troops received hazardous duty pay, wore the same uniform as the paratroopers, had their own silver qualification badge and, best of all, got to wear jump boots.

Courtesy of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation