By James E. Mrazek
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Extra info for Airborne Combat: The Glider War/Fighting Gliders of WWII
The Air Ministry went on with the development of the Gigant, despite loud outcries from many industrialists and from the military forces involved with other war production. Messerschmitt quickly produced the first developmental model. Because the pressure to get the glider into production was so great, much testing had to be improvised, often with tragic consequences. Except for the Ju 290—incidentally, powered by American engines—the Luftwaffe had no aircraft that could tow the Gigant into flight on its own.
It was turned over to the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (German Research Institute for Sail Flight, or DFS), an affiliate of the Rhön-Rositten-Gesellschaft. An aircraft engineer, Hans Jacobs, assisted by glider pilots on the staff of the company, masterminded the project. The glider that grew out of this effort was designated the DFS 230. The project got under way despite serious disagreements between the technical staff and the airborne proponents. The controversy was caused, in part, by the varying viewpoints on the tactical doctrine for glider operations.
On the other hand, the British had developed a rich background of experience with sports gliders in the prewar years. During the early 1920s, soaring had taken hold in England, and a gliding association had been formed by 1929. Three years later, there were enough enthusiasts flying gliders for the association to sponsor a national championship. By 1937, British gliding techniques and glider construction had progressed enough to earn respect in international circles and to draw a group of young German glider enthusiasts to England, ostensibly to obtain instruction from British experts.
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