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The German Use of Glider Bombs Against Warships in The Second World War

By 1943 the tide of war was turning against the Germans, and they began to explore means of reducing Allied material and military superiority.

However the Luftwaffe had developed a new secret weapon to reduce the naval superiority of the Americans and the British. Ironically the glider bomb was first used against the Italian battle fleet after it surrendered to the Allies.

Glider bombs were remote controlled from the plane that launched it towards enemy ships. Before the Italian fleet sailed to Malta the Luftwaffe sank the battleship Roma with heavy loss of life. They also caused considerable damage to the battleship Italia.

The next victim of the glider bombs was the veteran battleship HMS Warspite providing fire support for Allied troops at Salerno. Amazingly only six of her crew were killed. Warspite had to limp back to Rosyth to be repaired.

Over 200 US sailors were killed when the cruiser USS Savannah was attacked, and 18 British sailors died when HMS Uganda was attacked. Glider bombs could be shot down by fighters but not by anti – aircraft guns.

In the end they stopped been a threat to Allied ships because the Germans lost control of coastal areas, and the Luftwaffe ran out of aircraft.


Ballentyne I (2001) Warships of the Royal Navy Warspite

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