To be honest I thought I'd seen just about every picture of Horsa gliders there is but now and then a new one turns up!
Afraid I can't help with an airfield and I've looked at the period aerials I have of just about every glider related airfield I have and can't spot that immediate field pattern on (though I may spot it later).
At a glance though:
- Thats a very common way to park gliders just off the edge of the tarmac at UK airfields.
- There isn't much detail but they appear to be MkI Horsas.
- Pre-1946 roundels/markings.
- Not apparent invasion stripes or evidence of them being removed prior to Varsity.
- No evidence of chalk numbers of aircraft ID numbers.
So based on the above I'd say that the picture is *probably* in the UK, pre D-Day and from an operational squadron and not a training unit.
I agree with the pre D Day theory but not sure we can rule out HGCU locations like Brize Norton, North Luffenham and Shrewton? Twenty two Bomber Command airfields were used for storing Horsas. The list was Balderton, Bottesford, Cottesmore,Downham Market, Feltwell, Foulsham, Fulbeck, Great Massingham, Lakenheath, Langar, Little Snoring, Marham, Methwold, Mildenhall, Oulton, Saltby, Sculthorpe, Stradishall, Swanton Morley, Syerston, Wollfox Lodge and Wratting Common. Each place held 32 gliders. Picture looks more like storage than operational readiness.
Just to clarify, it could well be Brize, etc. and I did take a quick scan of the fields around the edges to see if I could recognise the layout (the field with the gap is a good reference point). My original point was that the gliders themselves are not marked up as they would be if they were a HGCU's own aircraft. It if was the Brize unit they would have a number on the front of the fuselage behind the cockpit. If it was the training unit from Sleap it would have a number next to the rear roundel. The complete lack of any marking apart from the roundels makes it highliy likely they are from a operation Horsa squadron which *may* help narrow it down a bit
Aerial view of planners.
These are British Horsa Airspeed no markings other than badges of nationality. This suggests that they have just been assembled and are parked in a field bordering airfield awaiting delivery unit.
To go further:
Got it. It's RAF Broadwell just off the end of runway 13.
The field has changed a lot now and has even changed in the 1955 Google Earth images. I had to pull up this segment of a 1944 image to match it.
The road in the background is the A361 on the western edge of the airfield and as it just passes runway 13 that is consistent with the trees having been felled within the approach funnel. The line across the top of the field in the original is a red herring as it's a scratch on the negative/print and not a path/track. I've marked the pertinent reference points.
So that would make the gliders the from F Squadron. I claim my five pounds!
I think more than fyve (that is not a spelling mistake) go out and buy yourself a drink on Richard Flagg (he's generous). Well done could they be the same gliders??I only have 1945 on my Google earth and it does not show the gliders but there seems to be a lack of trees on the road. I expect that was cleared for the run up to D-day.
Well the problem with Google Earth is that the 1945 image is actually about 1955 and a lot changed in that 10 year difference! The hedge at point "B" seemed to of vanished pretty quick. The photo I cropped from was dating 14th April 1944.
Interestingly I did actual wonder if the aerial shows the same gliders. Looking carefully they do seem to be in the same position and orientation except that a few are missing from the left hand column.
Was fun finding it though. Still kicking myself for not taking my careers advisor's advice and joining the RAF as a photographic interpreter.
Sadly the aircraft now sits in a corner at RAF Cosford minus its wings and is unavailable for public access.
The aircraft has many original parts and instruments fitted and by all accounts could take to the air - (won't happen though).
If anyone can find a hangar that will accept an aircraft with a 88 foot wingspan get in touch with the Trust.
A friend of mine visited Shawbury during the build taking along a Dutch friend as well several times. Paul owns a small private museum near Wolfheze in Arnhem and has many Horsa artefacts on display there. His family lived through Operation Market Garden. But I'm digressing here.
A home is badly need for the Horsa built at Shawbury. If anyone has some thoughts on this and is prepared to do some letter writing then please get involved. This Horsa is probably the nearest thing to the original as is likely to be.