The Mystery Airplane
May 1, 2019
The Army was impressed by the Luftwaffe's use DFS 230 assault gliders on 10 May 1940, in the surprise capture of Belgium's Fort Eben-Emael and a bridge over the Albert Canal. As a result, it ordered the Frankfort TG-1, Schweizer TG-2 and TG-3, and the Laister-Kauffmann TG-4 training gliders in April 1941. While these civilian designs were suitable for training, they did not replicate the flight characteristics of the large WACO CG-4A combat gliders. The surviving trainers were declared surplus before the end of the war.
The Army's TG-4A trainer was based on the Laister-Kauffmann LK-10 Yankee Doodle two-seat soaring glider. The prototype XTG-4 was delivered in December 1941 and production of 150 as the TG-4A began in July 1942. All were delivered by June 1943. With a wing span of 50 feet, a length of 21 feet 4 inches, and a loaded weight of 875 pounds, the TG-4A was capable of a 22 to 1 glide ratio. Potential glider pilots received about six hours dual in the TG-4A. While the TG-4A had good soaring and flight characteristics, it did not prepare pilots for the heavily loaded CG-4A cargo glider which, once released from its tow plane, descended with little margin for error. Laister-Kauffmann itself developed the 23,000-pound wooden CG-10A assault glider with a 105 foot wing span that required a B-17 or C-54 tow plane. At the end of the war, production of the CG-10A was cancelled.
The TG-4A in this Oshkosh 2019 photo is from the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum in Hood River, Oregon. Delivered to the AAF as 42-53060, it was restored to flying condition by 2018, and is registered N54632. During Oshkosh, it was parked with Piper TG-8 and a Taylorcraft TG-6 training gliders in the Warbird area. Other examples of the TG-4A are displayed at the AFM in Dayton, OH and with Fagen Fighters in Granite Falls, MN.
Ed Wells of Austin, MN, is this month's winner. Bob Heavirland, Dave Lundgren, Graydon Carlson, and Joe Connell all knew the TG-4A. Best wishes for spring flying. Blue skies!