CG-4A Haig Glider
The WACO CG-4A (Cargo Glider Model 4) Haig glider was designed by the Weaver Aircraft Company (WACO) in Troy, Ohio in the early 1940s. The WACO design beat out three other American designs and was eventually produced by sixteen different companies, including WACO itself. Although an American design, the CG-4A was also used by the British, who named it the Hadrian
The CG-4A featured a steel tube and wood construction covered with canvas. The nose of the glider was designed to fold out and up in order to allow the loading of men and materials. The glider could carry either a jeep, a 75mm howitzer, a specially-designed bulldozer, or 13 men with their supplies and equipment. The gliders, which were normally towed by C-46 and C-47 aircraft, were crewed by a pilot and a co-pilot.
The CG-4A entered production in late 1942, with most of the gliders being delivered in significant numbers by early 1943. The glider was first used in combat during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July of 1943. They were next used in March of 1944 in Burma during a British commando operation.
Thousands of CG-4As were used on June 6, 1944 for Operation Overlord. Many of the gliders were heavily damaged when they landed in French fields covered with obstacles known as Rommel's Asparagus. Regardless of the damage suffered by the gliders during landing, most were destroyed or abandoned in place, having served their intended purpose. The WACO design was used in other operations during the war, and after the conflict most were sold as surplus and the glider's shipping boxes used for a variety of purposes.
While searching for Private Ryan, Captain Miller's squad encounters a field in which a number of CG-4As have landed in, including one piloted by Lieutenant DeWindt of the 99th Trooper Carrier Squadron.
The gliders seen in Saving Private Ryan were constructed from scratch using measurements taken from a CG-4A glider at the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop in Hampshire, England.
Although not seen or mentioned in the film, British Horsa gliders were used to land American forces behind Utah Beach late on D-Day.