The Flying Tanks of World War 2

Dropping supplies including combat vehicles to troops on the ground was one of the biggest achievements of the military during World War 2. It allowed soldiers behind enemy lines to capture and hold important objectives until more heavily equipped friendly troops could arrive. Some tanks like the M22 Locust and later the American M551 Sheridan and the Russian BMD-3 were developed specifically for dropping by parachute from an airplane.

The biggest problem with air-dropping vehicles was that their crews got dropped separately, so the vehicles or the dropped artillery couldn’t be brought into action immediately. There was also the risk that enemy troops might get hold of the dropped supplies before the crew arrived. One way to prevent this was to attach gliders to combat vehicles and gently steer them into the battlefield along with the crews. Once on the ground, the tank would shed its wings and get into action in a very short time.

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Image credit: Fiddlers Green Paper Models


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