German assault glider. The major contribu-tion of the Deutsches Forschungsinstitut for Segelflug (German Research Institute for Gliding) to Germany's Second World War armoury was the DFS 230 assault glider of 1937. With a rectangular-section fabric-covered steel-tube fuselage, and a long tapering wing covered in plywood and fabric and braced by metal struts to the fuselage, the glider could carry some 272 kg (600 lb) of freight in addition to the pilot plus nine troops and their equipment. Three prototypes were built and tested by the DFS, and further DFS 230s were produced by Gothaer Waggonfabrik, a series of A-0 pre-production models being followed by production A-1s and dual-control A-2s. Deliveries began in October 1939. Some modifications were incorporated in the B-1 and B-2 production series, notably a parachute pack for braking, a stronger landing skid and a mounting for a single MG 15 machine-gun.
The DFS 230 made its operational debut in the attack on Fort Eben Ernael and Albert Canal bridges in Belgium and Holland in May 1940. It went on to take part in attacks on the Corinth Canal, and in the airborne invasion of Crete in May 1941. However, such heavy losses were suffered during the later operation that thereafter DFS 230s were largely confined to transport duties in the Mediterranean and on the Eastern Front. One other spectacular operation involved DFS 230s, however, when DFS 230c-1s - B-1s fitted with forward-firing braking rockets in a special nose cone - were used to land German commandos on the Matto Grosso as part of the rescue of Italian leader Benito Mussolini. A total between reported figures of 1022 and 1500 DFS 230s were produced, and the glider soldiered on in the supply role almost until the end of the war.
DFS230 glider with Argus AS014 pulsejets
Wingspan: 68 ft 5.5 in / 20.87 m
Length; 36 ft 10.5 in / 11.24m
Height; 9 ft / 2.74 m
Wing area; 444.55 sq.ft / 41.3 sq.m
Empty weight; 1896 lb / 860 kg
MAUW: 4630 lb / 2100 kg
Max towed speed: 130 mph / 210 kph
Span: 21.98 m (72 ft 11 in)
Length: 11.24 m (36 ft 10.5 in)
Gross weight: 2100 kg (4630 lb)
Maximum speed: 290 km/h (180 mph)