Ok…I’m gonna need some WWII vets or military folks to answer this one. I have been watching a lot of documentaries on WWII and WWI. I’ve noticed in a lot of the actual footage that there are these “zeppelin” or balloon-looking things (but much smaller) floating around in the air seemingly attached to strings/ropes of some kind all over the place. What are these? For what were they used? Anyone know?
Barrage balloons. They flew them to discourage attacks by aircraft at low altitude, for fear of running afoul of the tethers and either causing structural damage (particularly to the tail) or fouling the propeller. For general purpose, low altitude attacks are the most accurate and thus deadly; thus, the interest in discouraging it.
We used to float test old gear on ship. If it floated, it didn’t need replacement yet. If it sank, well, it had to be replaced.
How many of your XOs got replaced, JS?
Discouraging strafing (Me-109s, FW-190s, etc.) and dive-bombing attacks (by Ju-87s) would have been particularly valuable for D-Day landing craft. Keeping enemy aircraft higher up also made finding and attacking them less difficult for defending Allied aircraft.
While we’re on the subject, I think this was one of the coolest aircraft in WWII: the British horsa glider.
They used them for the D-Day invasion, but as near as I understand, the Luftwaffe never got near them; I believe we pretty much owned the air. Dive bombers in general and Ju-87s in particular were obsolescent by then, too.
The U.S. had the Waco CG-4 Haig for the same type of mission. The British also had a quite larger glider called the Hamilcar, designed for larger vehicles (the CG-4 could carry a jeep).
I didn’t know this. Thanks.
Funny you should mention that…
Only one. For complete lack of leadership ability, and inability to plan, or follow a plan… He was a Capt, O-3. Funny enough, he was sent “back to supply” ala Heartbreak Ridge.
Thing I like about the Horsa was that it was all-wood when war demands placed a premium on metal, whereas the CG-4 had at least a steel tube fuselage (fabric covered; not sure about the wings and tail off the top of my head; not sure about the Hamilcar either; my impression was that it was wood or largely wood).