That Old Crate
From Minnesota cratemakers, a new CG-4 glider like the ones they built in World War II.
- By Lynn Keillor
- Air & Space magazine, July 2011
NASM (SI NEG. #83-310~PM)
(Page 2 of 2)
Johns and Holm collected vintage glider parts from military salvage yards, including frame pieces, instrument panels, and an original long, narrow box for barf-bag storage (troops seated aft of the center of gravity frequently succumbed to airsickness). They’ve found a roll of the original fabric used to cover wings and fuselage. They’ve fabricated the remaining parts based on original blueprints, some with print so tiny that Holm needs a magnifying glass to read it.
Of the volunteers, most of whom learned of the project through the World War II Roundtable network, some are retired military; one flies modern gliders. Dale Johnson is a master woodworker who can create exact replicas of wooden parts. Joe Messacar is a former aeronautical engineer who keeps the construction to perfect spec. Marilyn Curski is especially talented at intricate detail work.
When completed, the glider’s wing will stretch nearly 84 feet. Its interior structure looks like wooden lace. To save weight, most wooden parts of the original gliders were glued together, including the honeycombed floor of the passenger space, so the team is doing the same. Where the originals used screws, however, the team is in some cases substituting cotter pins.
While the group is trying to produce as authentic a re-creation as possible, they’re not making it airworthy—although they have a bit of insight into what it would be like to fly one. Newsman Walter Cronkite, who landed in a CG-4A in the Netherlands in September 1944, later described the experience as “like attending a rock concert while locked in the bass drum.”
When the re-creation is complete, the brand-new glider will likely be on public display somewhere near its Villaume home.
Minneapolis-based writer Lynn Keillor has a new respect for glider pilots, passengers, and Walter Cronkite.