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British Industrial History

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General Aircraft: Hamilcar

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1944. Hamilcar
1944. Halifax bomber towing Hamilcar glider.
August 1945.
Sept. 1946.

Note: This is a sub-section of General Aircraft.

The General Aircraft GAL. 49 Hamilcar or Hamilcar Mark I was a large British military glider produced during the Second World War, which was designed to carry heavy cargo, such as the Tetrarch or M22 Locust light tank.

Hamilcars were only used on three occasions, and only in support of British airborne forces. They first saw action in June 1944, when approximately thirty were used to carry 17-pounder anti-tank guns, transport vehicles and Tetrarch light tanks into Normandy in support of British airborne forces during Operation Tonga. In September 1944 a similar number of Hamilcars were used to transport anti-tank guns, transport vehicles and supplies for airborne troops as part of Operation Market Garden. They were used a third and final time in March 1945 during Operation Varsity, when they transported M22 Locust light tanks and other supplies.

Several variants on the Hamilcar Mark I were planned, although only one was actually produced. The Hamilcar Mark X, also known as the GAL. 58, was designed to specification X 4/44 in an attempt to allow Hamilcars to be used in the tropical climate of the Pacific, where high temperatures and the high altitudes of many airfields reduced the efficiency of piston-engined aircraft.

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