Military Review

From the sky - into battle! Soviet airborne gliders А-7 and Г-11


The idea of ​​creating and using heavy multi-seat airborne gliders belongs to domestic designers and pilots. In 1932, the young novice aircraft designer Boris Dmitrievich Urlapov, according to the idea of ​​the pilot-inventor Pavel Ignatievich Grokhovsky, under his leadership, calculated, designed and with the small group of young specialists created the world's first cargo landing glider G-63. No one has built such large gliders designed to transport people and cargo through the air. Sixteen compartments in which it was possible to carry military equipment or soldiers in the supine position were located in long wide-profile wings. The load per square meter of the wing exceeded the maximum load of all the sports non-powered aircraft, which were known at that time, by two and a half times. Estimated payload (1700 kg) was generally unheard of, especially when you consider that the glider was towed with a single-engine P-5.

After several test flights, in which the pilots P.I. Grokhovsky and V.A. Stepanchenko, the commission of the staff of the Red Army Air Force came to a unanimous conclusion: the tests carried out on an experimental towing airliner confirm the possibility and expediency of using special gliders in airborne operations. It was proved that amphibious gliders can land on unsuitable field sites, and this is their indisputable advantage over aircraft.

So glider business began to develop. Many original designs were created. It is safe to say that our country has taken a leading place in the work on the creation of transport gliders. On January 23, 1940, the Directorate for the Production of Airborne Transport Gliders was established in the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry. He was headed by the chief V.N. Kulikov and chief engineer P.V. Tsybin. In the research work on the aerodynamics of gliders joined Central aviation state institute.

In the autumn of the same year, chaired by I.V. Stalin held a meeting in the Central Committee of the VKP (b) on the development of glider technology in the country, to which the leaders of the Air Force and Osoaviahima were invited. Apparently, the convocation of this meeting was due to two factors: first, the very logic of the development of the Red Army Airborne Forces required the creation of landing gliders, and secondly, the reports of the immense success in their use by the Germans played a role in of the Belgian fort Eben-Emael 11 in May 1940. As a result, it was decided to hold a competition of relevant projects in order to identify the best designs for further transfer to mass production. However, after the competition, the demands of the military increased, and they put forward the task of developing devices of greater capacity. OK. Antonov was instructed to develop a seven-seater glider A-7, V.K. Gribovsky - 11-local G-11, D.N. Kolesnikov and P.V. Tsybin - 20-local machine KC-20, G.N. Kurbale - heavy glider KG. The basis of the glider park during the war years was А-7 and Г-11. On them and dwell.

Glider A-7

Initially, a small design bureau of Oleg Antonov worked in Kaunas, in the Lithuanian SSR, which had just joined the Soviet Union, but soon he was transferred to Moscow, providing space for a glider plant in the town of Tushino. There, under the leadership of Tupolev, a prototype of a seven-seat (including the pilot) glider was built, called the RF-8 (Rot-Front-8). Flight tests were conducted near Moscow in the autumn of 1941, 28 in August, 1941, the RF-8 glider was delivered to the airfield, and on September 2, the test pilot V.L. Rastorguev performed on his first flight. During one of the test flights when landing from a high leveling followed by a strong blow. At the same time, the fuselage trim at the pilot's cabin cracked. It turned out that the gluing area of ​​the skin with the fuselage side members is too small. When repairing this defect corrected. However, the breakdown somewhat delayed the completion of the tests that ended on September 18.

Among the shortcomings, testers noted a heavy load on the control stick and a too strong reaction to the movement of the rudder. The chassis at full load "sags", and the glider touched the ski ground. The large distance from the glazing to the pilot's eyes worsened the view, especially in the dark. It was recommended to remove the partition between the pilot and cargo cabins and move the landing gear to the pilot. However, in general, the car was rated positively, and the RF-8 was recommended for mass production. At the same time, besides the elimination of the revealed defects, there was a demand to increase the airframe capacity to 8 people (pilot and seven paratroopers) or 700 kilograms of cargo (in overload - to 1000 kg).

The lantern was redone: the glazing area was reduced, and the windshields were installed according to the classical scheme - “with a ledge”. Partially changed the design of the tail, and also installed on the wing spoilers. The modified glider was assigned the new designation A-7, and it was recommended for adoption. The A-7 glider, compared to the prototype of the RF-8, became 17 kilograms lighter, while its take-off weight increased from 1760 kilograms to 1547 kilograms compared to 8 kilograms of the RF-XNUMX due to an increase in payload from six to seven. The design of the airframe was wooden, as simplified as possible, for the possibility of production at non-core enterprises using unskilled labor. Metal parts were only in the heavily loaded parts, as well as in the chassis. They decided to organize mass production at the plant in Tushino, as well as at the former Civil Aircraft Repair Plant fleet in Bykovo. But due to the approach of the front to Moscow, these plants had to be evacuated to Eastern Siberia, to the city of Tyumen. In addition to Tyumen, the production of A-7 was established at a cooperage plant in the city of Alapaevsk, Sverdlovsk Region. It is worth noting that subsequently the troops noted the poor quality of manufacturing machines at this plant.

From the sky - into battle! Soviet airborne gliders А-7 and Г-11

The first production vehicles were sent for tests to the Airborne Test Division of the Airborne Forces deployed in Saratov. Mastering A-7 passed without any special incidents. He took off on skis, which were mounted instead of wheels. Glider could pull aircraft P-5, P-6, SB, DB-ZF (IL-4), PS-84 (Li-2) and TB-3. The twin-engine IL-4 could be hitched with two gliders, and the four-engine TB-3 pulled three.

At the end of 1942, the A-7 was discontinued in Tyumen and Alapaevsk. It can be assumed that the production area was given to other evacuated enterprises. And KB O.K. Antonov with a glider production was transferred to the village Zavodoukovsk of the Tyumen region. The OKB-31 designer Moskalev, who merged with the Antonov team and took part in the construction of the A-7 gliders, was already evacuated there. Next came the farm designer Grokhovsky. Evacuated aircraft manufacturers located on the areas of the largest in Western Siberia, MTS and a wooden mill. It was difficult, the production and living quarters were sorely lacking. There were problems with electricity, water and food. Nevertheless, the aircraft factory number 499 (he received such a designation) began to work: they produced landing equipment, landing cabins DK-12 and gliders A-7. From 1942, the gliders A-7 began to arrive in the army. Soon on the serial machines two accidents happened in a row. The reason in both cases was the same: when landing, the glider suddenly “pecked” aside, touched the ground with the wing and collapsed. The famous test pilot S.N. Anokhin was ordered to carry out special tests of the glider at low speeds. Anokhin in many ways forced the glider to fall into a tailspin. It was found that the A-7 is really predisposed at low speeds to firing on the wing. Antonov, who specially arrived in Saratov, got acquainted with the results of the tests. As a result, the tail fin of the airframe was modified, and later interceptors were introduced on the upper surface of the wing.

In January 1943, Antonov was transferred by the head of the branch office of the Design Bureau A.S. Yakovlev at the Novosibirsk aircraft plant number 153, and all work on the glider took over Moskalev, who later led the series. A total of about 400 A-7 gliders were manufactured.

The remaining out of work RF-8 began to be used for experiments on the towing of gliders with a shortened cable and a rigid burden. The flights took place from September 24 to October 1 1941, the SB bomber served as a tug. RF-8 piloted by S.N. Anokhin. The length of the cable was successively reduced from 60 to 5 m, and then they began to use rigid traction with a length of 3 m. In total, 16 flights were made. Deviations from the usual practice began with 20 m. Piloting the airframe became much more complicated and now required much attention. Due to the airflow from the propeller towing and aileron propellers, their efficiency increased. The run of the glider on a shortened cable looked zigzag. It was even harder to fly in a rigid coupling. From the use of shortened cables and rigid traction refused.

At the end of 1942, the design bureau in the village of Zavodoukovsk was given the task of upgrading the airframe, for the delivery of 11-14 fighters. Since by this time Oleg Konstantinovich had already moved to the Yakovlev Design Bureau, Antonov wrote a receipt to Moskalev, which allowed him to carry out any work with the glider, however, limiting the number of paratroopers to 11. Apparently, he was afraid that the airframe was overweight. The military asked to bring the number of paratroopers to 14.

According to preliminary calculations, it turned out that the capacity of the airframe in case of a corresponding refinement can be increased to 12-14 people, which was more than allowed by Antonov, and almost met the requirements of the military. In a short time, the designers under the leadership of Moskalev developed the A-7M project and produced its prototype. It has been increased by 5,3 sq. m area of ​​the wing, due to the expansion of the chord of the root part, while maintaining the scope. The interceptors were installed on its leading edge. Guards equipped with a screw mechanism, actuated by a cable from the steering wheel. This decision eliminated the defect inherent in the glider A-7. His guards were removed sharply, using a rubber band, which caused a glider subsidence and a sharp cotton. The length of the fuselage increased to 20 meters. To accommodate the maximum number of paratroopers in the cargo compartment, they were placed on two narrow (20 cm) longitudinal benches with their backs to each other. The normal load was 12 people, and the maximum - 14 (in this case, two additional paratroopers were sitting on the right, elongated bench, partially entering the pilot's cabin). The place of the pilot on А-7М had to be shifted to the left. The shop could be folded on the floor when shipping goods. For the entrance and exit served two doors - right rear and front left. The increase in the size of the airframe forced to increase the area of ​​the tail.

During the first flights at the factory tests, the glider showed a predisposition for holding up. To eliminate the defect, the angle of the stabilizer was changed, however, this decision caused a deterioration of the lateral stability. In the fall of 1943, another prototype A-7M was manufactured. According to the demands of the military, the right door on it was replaced by a cargo hatch having a size of 1600 x1060 mm. In the design made some more minor changes. Normal take-off weight reached 2430 kg, and maximum 2664 kg. Owing to the increased speed of separation during takeoff and landing. The glider passed factory and state tests until the end of 1943 of the year, and since January X-NUMX-A-1944M was sent for military trials. It was found that the characteristics of stability and controllability of the second prototype remained at the level of the serial eight-seat A-7. There is also a predisposition to stall into a corkscrew at low speeds. The tightness of the cargo compartment was also noted. Despite this, А-7М was launched into 7 in the year of serial production, under the name AM-1944 (Antonov - Moskalev, fourteen).

In addition to standard A-7, several copies of A-7U training, with dual controls and A-7UM, equipped with a navigator’s seat, were released. In the 1942, the A-7B, the “flying tank,” was actually manufactured; in fact, it was an additional towed fuel tank designed for the IL-4. Thus it was planned to increase the range of the bomber. After the aircraft had developed fuel from the airframe, the A-7B was to be disengaged.

IL-4 was accordingly finalized. He mounted a towing lock and a receiving device for pumping fuel. In the cargo compartment of the airframe, they installed two tanks of 500 each of liters and a pumping fuel pump powered by a battery. Fuel hose laid along the towing cable. A “flying cistern” was tested from the end of December 1942 of the year to the 6 of January 1943. It was noted that the technique of piloting the airframe practically did not change, the only thing that was required to keep higher during takeoff, in order not to rub the hose on the runway. Pumping was performed at speeds of the order of 220 km / h. The system of uncoupling the airframe and discharge hose worked reliably. However, A-7B did not find application in ADD operations, and so remained air-exotic.

Glider G-11

History The creation of the landing glider G-11 started on 7 on July 1941, when the OKB-28, led by V.К. Gribovskim, was given the task of creating a transport glider capable of carrying 11 soldiers with full weapons. By that time, the team of Gribovsky had created a number of successful designs of airframes and airplanes, so issuing this order was quite a reasonable step. Other design bureaus also received similar tasks. The Soviet leadership assumed a massive use of gliders, and the paratroopers were to disembark from them, not only by landing, but also by parachuting in the air.

Gribovsky's glider received the cipher G-29, according to the number of constructions created by OKB-28, but was later replaced with G-11, according to the number of fighters transported. The terms Gr-11 and Gr-29 are sometimes used. The first drawings of the airframe were transferred to the shop on July 11. And on August 2 the prototype of the G-11 was basically built. 1 September 1941 carried out the first flights, and a couple of weeks later the decision was made to transfer the airframe for mass production to two woodworking enterprises in Shumerlya (plant number 471) and Kozlovka (plant number 494). Both plants were located in the Chuvash ASSR.

During the tests, the G-11 was raised into the air by various pilots, but most of all V.Romanov flew it. During its flight, the only catastrophe of the G-11 occurred. After determining the centering and weighing, Romanov flew on a glider having the task to overtake him to another airfield. In flight, the glider detached from its towing vehicle under unexplained circumstances and fell. The pilot and the mechanic who was with him in the cockpit died. According to the commission, the disaster occurred due to the insufficient rigidity of the wing, which caused the ailerons to reverse. The accident was triggered by windy weather and a strong bumpiness during the flight. During the passage of factory tests, these phenomena were not observed. The wing was finalized, and the subsequent tests were conducted by B. Godovikov. According to the pilots, the G-11 was easy to operate and reliable apparatus, which is nice to fly.

Flight tests conducted at the end of September confirmed quite acceptable characteristics of the G-11. Only representatives of the Air Force demanded that the centering of the empty vehicle be shifted forward for a stable glider flight after the parachutists were dropped. To this end, the designers moved the wing back. Now, however, with the release of flaps at the landing appeared shaking tail. To eliminate this defect, holes were drilled in the inner plates. Later, the perforation was abandoned, solving the problem by adjusting the relative position of the wing, fuselage and stabilizer.

Immediately after completing the tests, at the end of September, Gribovsky arrived at plant number 471, and his deputy Landyshev went to plant number 494. In October, the main team of the evacuated OKB-28 arrived in Shumerlu, and the first serial landing glider was assembled here on November 7, and by the end of the year the company produced ten serial G-11.

The release of the X-NUMX increased until June of the 11 year, when it became clear that the military simply did not need such a large number of landing gliders. The war did not proceed as it was seen in the pre-war years, and the Red Army was not in the mood for glider landing operations. As a result, wooden gliders, designed, in fact, for one sortie, often wintered under the open sky, which made them unusable. There was also a shortage of tugboats and glider pilots. The decision to discontinue the G-1942 was made in 11, after the 1942 G-138 was built at the Shumerle plant and 11 gliders at the Kozlovka plant. By the end of the summer, 170 G-1942 gliders were released. The plants were redeveloped to produce the Yak-308 and U-11 aircraft.

In 1943, the situation on the fronts improved and the supply of partisans was adjusted with the help of gliders, so they decided to restore the production of the G-11 at the Ryazan plant. One of the factories was transferred there from Tyumen, where Gribovsky became the chief designer.

The first G-11 was manufactured in Ryazan in March 1944, and by the end of April more than a dozen had been released. In May, one of the cars was flown around the station. Lieutenant V. Chubukov from the Airborne Pilot Test Range. The glider showed good stability and excellent handling in flight. It was possible to perform a corkscrew, a coup and a barrel. It should be noted that piloting the G-11 turned out to be easier than A-7.

Starting from the twenty-first instance, a double cargo cargo hatch on the starboard appeared on the glider. The wing was provided with interceptors. Somewhat later, the landing skis began to supply rubber lamellar shock absorbers and mounted a small fork.

From October 1944 began to produce gliders, equipped with dual controls and a reinforced structure. The first dual-control training glider was manufactured in Shumerle back in 1942, but was not mass-produced. Training G-11U, in addition to the presence of dual controls, differed from the original amphibious assault by the presence of a forquille, landing skis absorbers, the presence of a second cadet seat and dual controls. The training machine was produced with a short break up to the year 1948. The total number of G-11 gliders released is estimated to be approximately 500 units.

It should be said that in 1942, Gribovsky based on the G-11 was developed a motor glider with an M-11 aircraft engine with a power 110 hp. The use of the engine promised to facilitate the take-off of a laden glider, increase the payload, and after completing the mission, there appeared a chance to independently return the empty glider to the departure aerodrome. The engine was placed on the pylon above the wing, behind it in the fairing there was a gas tank and the units necessary for the motor variant. Such an arrangement made it possible to convert serial gliders, including those in parts, into a motor glider without much expense. The calculated take-off weight was determined in 2400 kg, and the payload is at least 900 kg. An empty motor glider should have a maximum speed of 150 km / h, a practical ceiling of at least 3000 meters. With the load characteristics were more modest: speed - 130 km / h, and the ceiling is not more than 500 m. When testing the power plant on the prototype G-11М, as a result of an error made during the installation of the oil line, the engine failed. Gribovsky was not provided with another motor, therefore the moto mount with the G-1M was dismantled and handed over to the military as an ordinary glider. Further work was stopped, and soon G-11 itself was removed from production. The appearance of the Szhe-2 light cargo aircraft, equipped with two M-11 engines, removed the relevance of the production of motor gliders. So far, of course, not a single glider, G-11, made of wood and linen has been preserved, but in Shumerlya a monument to this glider and the people who created it were erected. Of course, this is a remake, only outwardly resembling its glorious ancestor.

In the system of airborne vehicles, the transport glider has become a reliable means of silently transferring airborne units and bulky cargo to the enemy’s rear, ensuring their relatively compact disembarkation and quick readiness of the paratroopers for immediate action. It is also very important that low landing speeds, special skis and low two-wheeled chassis allowed gliders to land on limited and poorly adapted for landing aircraft ground areas in the forest, mountain and lake areas.

From the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War, individual aero-couplings (glider-plane) carried out flights with the aim of transporting various cargoes and equipment over their territory and through the front line. For example, flamethrowers and other weapons were transported to Stalingrad. Glider pilots V. Donkov and S. Anokhin flew into the Bryansk forests, where paratroopers of General N. Kazankin operated. They received non-motorized transport aircraft and partisans from the Orlov region.

The first group flight was carried out in November 1942. In preparation for the offensive near Stalingrad, severe frosts unexpectedly hit. Tank formations ready for a counter-offensive were partially unfit because water froze in the engines of armored vehicles. It was urgent to deliver antifreeze to the tankers - an antifreeze liquid. By order of the command, towing pilots and gliders immediately began to prepare for departure. Air trains formed quickly. Having loaded the A-7 and G-11 gliders with barrels of antifreeze, airplanes and gliders under the command of Lieutenant Colonel D. Kosits, secretly landed in a given area. Here, having enlarged the group at the expense of airplanes and personnel of the military aircraft school, having loaded, the air trains left along the planned route. A group of air links along the entire route were covered by air defense fighters, then by the planes of the Kachin fighter aviation school.

At the beginning of the 1943 of the year, after our troops captured the Great Bows, there was a relative lull in this sector of the front. The fascists took advantage of this and, having redeployed several units, threw them along with the gendarmerie and policemen to fight the Belarusian partisans in the Nevel, Polotsk, Gorodachi and Vitebsk regions. The Germans sought by all means to disperse the connections of the partisan region, and then destroy them. The guerrillas experienced an acute shortage of ammunition, weapons, food. In the current situation, only the aircraft that delivered the cargo could help them. Then came the order of the Soviet command to prepare for intensive actions by the glider group under Major General A. Shcherbakov and engineer Lieutenant Colonel P. Tsybin.

The operation began on the night of 7 March 1943 of the year and continued uninterrupted until the 20 of March. X-NUMX gliders A-65 and G-7 participated in it. The guerrillas were transferred 11 tons of combat cargo, five printing presses and ten radio stations, delivered more than a hundred command personnel and more than a hundred and fifty fighters. In addition, separate sabotage groups were delivered to the rear of the enemy.

Great help by glider paratroopers was provided to the partisans of the Polotsk-Lepel zone. The flights began in April 1943 and lasted almost a year. In addition to the A-7 and G-11 gliders, the heavier paratroopers of the KC-20 gliders, which could hold up to 20, were also used. Secretly hundreds of gliders relocated first to the airfields jump. To the partisans flew in groups. Usually they took off at sunset. Above the front line were already in the dark, in the specified area came at night. Towing vehicles, having detached the gliders, turned around and approached their base before dawn.

138 gliders were towed to the sites in enemy rear areas, which delivered the most necessary combat equipment. They threw commanders, sabotage groups, medical equipment, food. Flights were quite complicated. At night, when crossing the front line, sometimes they ran into fire on enemy anti-aircraft batteries or on patrols of fighter jets. On the ground, the gliders could also wait for traps: the Germans laid out fires, arranging false platforms, similar to partisan ones.

Once a glider driven by sergeant Yuri Sobolev spontaneously disengaged from the towing vehicle for more than fifty kilometers from the partisan site. The height was small, and under the wings of the forest. In the thick darkness, they could barely see the bright spots of the lake. Sobolev did not lose his head. Realizing that on the shores of the lakes of large trees almost never happens, the pilot sent his glider to the water. The light of the landing light snatched from the darkness of the night a shallow bank overgrown with low bushes. Crackle, thud, and the glider stopped. Motorless machine landed on enemy territory. Fortunately, the Germans did not detect the silent glider.

The glider unloaded the glider, hiding the delivered military cargo in a deep hole, which he dug overnight. After a rest, Sobolev oriented himself and went in search of partisans. He managed to get to the guards of the partisan brigade of Vladimir Lobanka. After a night the guerrillas on horseback transported to their camp the entire cargo hidden by the glider pilot. For this flight, Yuri Sobolev was awarded a military order.

Many gliders were involved in fierce battles with punishers as warriors of partisan groups and detachments. In the autumn of 1943 of the year, a landing force as part of the 3 and 5 units was deployed on the Voronezh Front with the task of assisting the troops of the front to seize the bridgehead on the right bank of the Dnieper. Marines landed on a large area, which greatly hampered the collection. In the area from Rzhishchev to Cherkasy there were more than 40 separate groups of paratroopers. Caught in an exceptionally difficult situation, they acted boldly, striking at the nearest German communications, enemy garrisons, headquarters and reserves. But day by day they were getting smaller.

Thinning units, having made several night marches, moved to the forest that went to the waters of the Dnieper. Food fought off the enemy. Ammunition ran out. There was a shortage of medicine. The paratroopers on the radio asked for help. Soon, transport planes began to arrive at the new camp of the paratroopers, dropping bags of ammunition and other required cargo. Silently crossed the Dnieper gliders loaded with equipment, weapons and medicines.

After the war, a stela was erected on one of the airfields. It stands on the metal layout of the glider A-7. This is the memory of the feat of glider pilots who died during the war.

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Kazakov V. "A-7" go into the night. M .: Publishing house DOSAAF USSR, 1981. C. 32-48, 72-96.
Kazakov V. Gliders in the skies of war // VIZH. 1982. No.3. C. 43-46.
Kazakov V. Combat aero-clutches. Moscow: DOSAAF, 1988. C.3-8.
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  1. CheByrashka
    CheByrashka 22 September 2016 16: 08
    Very interesting article. Thanks to the author for an excursion into history.
  2. michajlo
    michajlo 22 September 2016 22: 17
    Good evening everyone!
    Many thanks to the author of the article for an extensive and detailed article !!!

    In the 70s, a lot was written about combat gliders in the magazine "Modelist-Constructor".
  3. AUL
    AUL 23 September 2016 21: 46
    I used to read about airborne gliders, but did not think that they were used on a large enough scale. Thanks to the author!
  4. UnclePasha
    UnclePasha 24 September 2016 09: 34
    One of the unknown pages of the Second World War, at least for me! I knew about gliders, but I learned about their use during the war only now, to my shame. Thanks to the author !!!
  5. Dekabrev
    Dekabrev 27 September 2016 22: 04
    Thanks to the author!
    As always, a quality article written with an understanding of the subject.
    He knew more about the use of airborne gliders by the Germans and the British, but practically nothing about the domestic ones.
  6. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 16 October 2016 17: 45
    Thank. Very informative and voluminous article. I learned a lot about the use of gliders ...