The glider used by the Germans in Crete was a high-wing 10-seater monoplane. It is known as the DFS-230 freight-carrying glider (Lastensegler or Lastensegelflugzeug, abbreviated L.S.). It has probably been in production since the spring of 1940, and in quantity production since autumn of that year. In the spring of 1942, a minimum estimate of the number on hand was 700.
It is believed that the fuselage is of tubular steel construction, and that the wings are made entirely of wood. Usually the glider's wheels have been jettisoned after take-off, the glider landing on its skid.
b. Seating Arrangements
The interior arrangements are not spacious. The seats are in a single line, six facing forward and four backward. The four rear seats can be taken out to provide more space for freight. The DFS-230 is designed to carry a pilot and 9 men, with equipment. For rapid exit from the glider, each end is fitted with a door.
The approximate dimensions of the DFS-230 are given as follows: span, 72 feet; length, 36 feet.
d. Weight and Load Statistics
Various weights, according to various uses made of the glider, are as follows (in pounds):
|Weight empty, including fixed equipment||1,818||1,818||1,818|
Instruments are phosphorescent, and include air speed indicator, altimeter, rate-of-climb indicator, turn-and-bank indicator, and compass. A 24-volt storage battery is fitted in the nose to operate navigation lights, cabin lights, and a landing light, which is under the port wing. A fixed light machine gun (LMG 34) is said to be attached externally to the starboard side, and is fired by the man in No. 2 seat (sitting behind the pilot), through a slit in the fuselage, as the glider is landing. Aiming of the machine gun is not possible.
f. Towing Planes
Under combat conditions, the Ju-52 aircraft, which is ordinarily used to tow the DFS-230 glider, normally flies empty. This is because the towing plane does not fly over the objective, but releases the gliders, each of which is attached to it directly, in V-formation: glider "trains" are not used. In operations, normally one glider is towed: three Ju-52's with their gliders, fly in formation. Types such as the Me-110 or He-111 are quite suitable for use as towing aircraft. In training, and probably also for freight-carrying in rear areas, other aircraft are used for towing, including the He-45 and He-46 (training aircraft) and the Henschel-126 (army cooperation aircraft). Fighter planes have also been used to tow gliders in training. A table of tug and glider performances is given in figure 5.
g. Length of Tow-Rope
Tow-ropes are of varying length, 40, 60, 100, or 120 yards, according to the airfield space available. The glider handles better with a longer rope. Runways are ideal for the take-off, but are not essential.
h. Towing Distances
The distances for which the glider can be towed depend upon the range of the aircraft and the weather conditions. With extra fuel, a Ju-52 can tow a DFS-230 more than 1,000 miles.
i. Gliding Distances
The distances which the glider can cover after release from the towing plane are variable, and depend upon such factors as windspeed, altitude of release, direction of wind relative to line of flight, navigation errors, and evasive action. In the attack on Crete gliders are thought to have been released at no more than 2 to 5 miles from shore, and at heights of not more than 5,000 feet.
j. Table of Glider Speeds
|Towing speed||105 mph|
|Optimum gliding speed||71.4 mph|
|Holding-off speed||55 mph|
|Landing speed||35—40 mph|
k. Landing Area
The DFS-230 glider requires only a small landing area. It has been noted that
flaps may be used to steepen the angle of glide. If the skid is wound with
barbed wire, or fitted with arresting hooks, landing in an even smaller
area is practicable.