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ptrjong
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Normandy Grasshoppers

Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:04 pm

When watching a documentary with colourized WW footage,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse:_The_Second_World_War
I came across something which struck me as rather odd in the D-Day episode.

http://www.horizonten.nl/ruw/Normandy.jpg

A light aircraft being unloaded from a transport ship on one of the Normandy beaches?
Why didn't they fly it across, and save valuable shipping volume? If you don't have airstrips to land on yet, you can't take off either, right?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Peter 
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:24 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Thread starter):
A light aircraft being unloaded from a transport ship on one of the Normandy beaches?
Why didn't they fly it across, and save valuable shipping volume? If you don't have airstrips to land on yet, you can't take off either, right?

I'll see if I can research this a little more later today, but if I remember correctly some of these aircraft were directly assigned to artillery units. It is possible that they landed with their battalions on the beaches of Normandy for front line deployment. As they don't need much of a runway to take off perhaps it wasn't seen necessary to fly them across the Channel at the time. But, again that's just a guess at this point.
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ptrjong
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:21 pm

Thanks. But I'd say if you can fly them it's not necessary to ship them.
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rfields5421
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:31 pm

I saw an article on those planes years ago, so this is my best memory.

1) The planes were completely minimally manual - no navigation instruments except a compass.

2) Very little fuel capacity - just a few gallons for a couple hours flight.

3) The distance from England to the Normandy beaches was 95 nm - it was not VMC weather, and probably beyond the range of the aircraft.

4) The aircraft could take off from the beach in a couple hundred feet and be ditched if necessary. If they had survived flying across, they would need fuel, and could not expect a clear landing zone and refuel capability to be availalbe.
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:50 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 2):
Thanks. But I'd say if you can fly them it's not necessary to ship them.

It appears that during Operation Torch some L-4s were flown off converted LSTs with a temporary deck and that during Overlord a number did fly from England over to Normandy. Not sure if this link will work but page 33 has some discussion about them:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/43813068/U...iason-Aircraft-From-www-jgokey-com

There's a photo on Page 40 here of another disassembled L-4 being loaded on a LST in England prior to the invasion, the caption says that it was landed on the beach, reassembled and used to spot gunfire for the invasion fleet.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/44476792/W...-Landing-Craft-From-www-jgokey-com

As Fields mentioned range appears to be the major reason for this. From the US Army Aviation Museum, "During the Normandy invasion, some L-4s were dismantled and shipped across the English Channel to Normandy on LSTs (landing, ship, tanks); others were flown across with auxiliary fuel tanks in the rear seats......

In the Pacific campaigns, L-4s had to be disassembled and transported by sea; they then took off from the decks of LSTs and other type ships and flew to the islands being invaded to adjust fire and perform other missions. When carriers were not involved in an invasion force, the L-4s usually had to land on the beaches. In some instances, wooden floats were attached to L-4s so they could land and take off from water.

http://www.armyavnmuseum.org/history/war/ww2/overview6.html
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ptrjong
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:13 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 3):

Thanks. A Piper Cub should have almost twice the necessary range I think, but the weather and poor equipment are good answers I suppose.
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ptrjong
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:58 pm

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 4):
others were flown across with auxiliary fuel tanks in the rear seats......

So I was wrong, they didn't have the range. Thank you too.  
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kanban
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:38 pm

Went to a fund raiser this AM in the Air Museum outside Port Townsend WA, and there sat a fully restored Grasshopper 30 feet from my table. Amazing.
 
atct
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RE: Normandy Grasshoppers

Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:21 pm

I have a few hundred hours in a J-3 (L4) and 95 miles is within range. The header tank is 11 gallons burning 4.5 gallons an hour so roughly 100 mile range with reserve. "VMC" to a cub is also kinda miseleading as most of our flights are below 1000agl! As said above its not really a big deal to land or takeoff in short distances in a cub (I went into 600ft one-way in / out strips frequently) but not having a prepared landing site would make it an interesting flight over!

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