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CG-4 Glider Description and Cargo

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Waco CG-4 Most Widely Used Allied Glider

Waco CG4 with nose raised

USAAF photo shows open nose of Waco CG4 glider on display. Upon landing, the pilots hastily exited their seats (in the nose) in order to open the nose for unloading as soon as possible.

The Waco CG-4 was the most widely used Allied glider of WWII and with a wingspan of 83 feet and an overall length 48 feet, it was the smallest of the Allied gliders.

A high-wing monoplane, the CG-4 was built with a steel tubular frame which was covered with fabric. Its two pilots sat in the Plexiglas nose which was hinged at the top and could be swung upwards for loading and unloading cargo through the front.

Cargo and the CG-4

Amazingly, the American made CG-4 glider could carry a load of over 4,000 pounds, which was more than its own empty weight.

Loads could include 13 troops, or various combinations of troops with a Jeep, or 75mm howitzer (with gun crew), or 1/4 ton truck, or a small bulldozer (originally built for the Army by Clark Equipment Company), and/or a variety of equipment and supplies. These loads provided supplies, equipment, and backup for the paratroopers who had arrived earlier.

Loading weapon through nose of Waco CG4 glider

U.S. Army photo shows the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment loading an artillery piece which appears to be a 75 mm pack howitzer.
This artillery piece could be loaded fully assembled into the Waco CG-4 glider.

Loading and Unloading Glider Cargo

In action, the unloading of a vehicle was practiced well ahead of the event. The driver of a jeep would start the vehicle engine shortly before the landing took place. Once the vehicle had landed, two designated soldiers assisted the pilots in a hasty exit out of the glider nose.

Once the pilots were in the body of the glider, the vehicle would drive forward, pushing unloading ramps, and pulling a cable which lifted the glider's nose. At a certain point, the nose locked open, and the cable fell from from its position on the vehicle. The vehicle continued forward, out of the nose and down the ramps.

Damage to the glider upon landing, did not necessarily equate to unusable cargo. In many instances, a jeep was able to drive out of a substantially damaged glider.

CG-4 tow aircraft (glider tugs)