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Airspeed Horsa

The most successful British glider of World War Two was the Airspeed Horsa, which first flew in September 1941. Approximately 3660 were built; they could carry two pilots and up to 25 troops, or two pilots and a Jeep or 6-Pounder anti-tank gun. Upon landing, the pilots fought alongside the ground troops.

Horsas were first used in November 1942 to attack a German heavy-water plant in Norway. Both gliders and one Halifax tug aircraft crashed upon landing due to the bad weather, and all 23 survivors were executed on the orders of Hitler; this was in breach of the Geneva Convention. Subsequently, Horsas were used in Sicily, in June 1943, followed by the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944 and the assault on Arnhem in September 1944. Their final use was in the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.

There are no complete original Horsas left, though complete replicas have been built. Our Horsa is a large section of original fuselage, found in a very sad condition on a farm in Wales having been converted after the war into a caravan. At first it was moved to the Colchester Barracks of the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment under the care of Sergeant Jim Kilbride. In 2004 it was moved to the museum where it underwent a five year restoration. It has since taken part in the 65th Anniversary of the Arnhem Landings, being displayed in the centre of Oosterbeek, Holland. In 2019, it travelled to Duxford to take part in the 75th anniversary of D-Day celebration.

The Horsa can be found displayed in the Airborne Forces Collection building.

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The museum shop (only) will be open December the 9th and 16th from 10am to 4pm, so come and pick up some fantastic gifts for the aviation or 1940’s nut in your life!

AFTEr these dates we will be closed until We will re-open the Last weekend of MArch 2024 – we look forward to seeing you then


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