Airspeed Horsa Mk I
Airspeed Horsa Mk I PF800 Glider 91
‘Operation Deadstick’, Pegasus Bridge, D-Day 6th June 1944.
The allied invasion of Europe on D-Day the 6th of June 1944 was codenamed ‘Operation Overlord’ and was carefully co-ordinated to include many sub-operations, one of these was ‘Operation Tonga’ the British airborne assault. ‘Operation Deadstick’ was the mission to capture intact stategic bridges over the Caen Canal.
‘Operation Deadstick’ began on D-Day minus 1 with six Airspeed Horsa Mk I gliders wearing the chalked identities 91 to 96 towed out of Tarrant Rushton by Halifaxes of 298 and 644 Squadrons. They were to land at two landing zones by the side of the Caen Canal and capture the Benouville bridge (better known as Pegasus Bridge) LZ ‘X’, and to capture the Orne bridge LZ ‘Y’.
The gliders crossed the French coast at 00:07 hrs on the morning of D-Day, cast off over Cabourg and when at 1,500 ft, on descent the glider doors were opened to enable a rapid exit. Horsas 95 and 96 headed west then almost due south, which course took them to the Orne bridge whereas 94 landed in error to the south-east of Cabourg near two Dives bridges
By then gliders 91, 92 and 93 had quietly passed their landing zone, and then turned to return on to a reciprocal track having made sure of their landing zone. It was PF800 (91) flown by Staff Sgt J. Wallwork that touched down first at 00:16 hrs, conveying the first fighting troops to land on D-Day. In swerving to avoid 91, Horsa 92 skidded to a halt and broke its back by a pond in which the nose of 93 came to rest. Six of those aboard were trapped in this Horsa and most tragically the only casualty at LZ ‘X’ was brought about by one man drowning in the pond. The German sentry on the canal bridge was uncertain of what had happened, but not for long. Lt Brotheridge gathered his platoon and they rushed across the bridge, guns firing. As they reached the far side the enemy was opening up too, and Brotheridge, hit in the neck by machine-gun fire, died an hour later. With both bridges captured intact the objective of Operation Deadstick had been acheived and ‘Pegasus Bridge’, and the small cafe alongside it had become great names in military history and even today the site of the glider landings can be visited. The cafe -‘Cafe Gondree’ was the first building to be liberated in Normandy.
Scale 1:144 Wingspan 7.33″ (186 mm)
Base size 6.37″ (162 mm) square (No. 5)
Weight not including base 8.75 ozs (248 grams)
Price £86.00 plus delivery