The only time gliders were used in combat was during the Second World War. The aircraft were used by both the Allied and German forces and transported men and equipment.
The most widely used glider was the British Airspeed Horsa. Thousands of examples of this highly versatile aircraft were built by the Allies and were used in North Africa, Italy Normandy, Holland and Germany.
In Normandy, 6th Airborne Division used more than three hundred Horsa gliders to transport the infantry and equipment. Each aircraft could carry 28 soldiers or a jeep and trailer or a Jeep and 6 pounder anti gun. Fully loaded a Horsa glider weighed almost 7 tons.
Towed from England by bombers, the aircraft were released over the landing zones, hundreds landing within a few square kilometres. Six gliders were used to transport the infantry which seized the River Orne and Canal bridges now known as Horsa Bridge and Pegasus Bridge respectively.
Only one example of an original Horsa glider exists today, at the museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop, England. After the war, the remaining gliders lying in the fields in Normandy were broken up by the French civilians for firewood.
A full size copy of a Horsa glider displayed in the park of the museum was constructed for 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004.