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Waco CG-4A Hadrian / LRW-1 / XLRN-1
General Aircraft Corp CG-4A



During 1942 the U.S. Navy let contracts for the development of several amphibious transport gliders. At the same lime as the requirement for a twelve-seat glider was issued, the US Navy ordered a small number of Waco CG-4A (Hadrian) gliders under the designation LRW-1. At least thirteen Waco LRW-1s were delivered (BuAer Nos. 37639-481 44319, and 69990-1), and the Naval Aircraft Factory modified two further CG-4As under the designation XLRN-1 (BuAer Nos. 36431-2).

Because military planners did not want to divert scarce strategic resources and aircraft workers from powered aircraft production to build gliders, the CG-4A was built by hundreds of subcontractors with experience in woodworking, including employees of furniture companies. The only large production facility was Ford Motor Company’s wooden station wagon plant. The CG-4A was a front-loading glider designed to carry a pilot, co-pilot and 13 fully equipped glider infantrymen or an equivalent load of equipment or munitions.


On the Sunday afternoon of August 1, 1943, St. Louis aircraft manufacturer William B. Robertson was hosting the first public demonstration of a new Waco CG-4 glider, built under sub-contract by his company. As a crowd of spectators watched at the Lambert St. Louis Airport, Mayor William Becker, Robertson, and other St. Louis luminaries boarded the glider that was towed along by a transport plane for a flight over the city. Immediately after the release of the towing cable, the right wing of the glider broke off, and it plummeted from an altitude of 1,500 feet, killing all ten persons on board.
August 1, 1943 demonstration for a new aircraft. As soon as it took off, its right wing broke,
and all ten passengers were killed. This is the group pictured before takeoff.


Including the two pilots in the hinged nose, it could carry 15 fully armed troops or a jeep with its crew, or an Army 75 mm howitzer with crew and ammunition. It could carry a total military load of around 3,500 lb and could land in a field 660 feet by 200 feet surrounded by 50 feet obstacles at a loaded stalling speed of 50-60 mph.

The fuselage of the Hadrian was 6 feet 5 inches wide and made of a steel tubular framework covered with fabric on wooden formers with a wooden floor. The wingspan was 83 feet 8 inches and the wings and tail unit were made of wood with a plywood and fabric covering. The training undercarriage consisted of independent wheels, with shock absorbers and hydraulic brakes. The operational undercarriage could be jettisoned by parachute and was a simple cross axle with brake-less wheels. The glider then landed on skids.

Several hundred CG-4A gliders were built in 1945 with a paper composition floor rather than the reinforced plywood box floor.  The glider could carry 13 infantrymen or a Jeep.  Because of the floor, a trailer or howitzer could not be carried. The floor was reinforced at the Jeep wheel locations but not reinforced where the trailer or howitzer wheels would normally be positioned.




It was named Hadrian when in service with the British forces, and was the only American built troop-carrying glider to be used by the allied forces in the airborne invasions of Sicily and France.

Ford produced the CG-4A. Approximately 14,000 were built.


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