Intended as a twin-engine reconnaissance bomber, the Albemarle eventually became a paratroop transport and glider tug. First flown in March 1940, the aircraft was constructed of steel and wood to allow sub-contracting to less important war factories.
Initial attempts to use the aircraft in its intended role failed and a decision was made to modify subsequent aircraft to allow for the towing of gliders. In its new role, Albemarles saw operational service in North Africa towing Horsa and Hadrian gliders and dropped paratroops during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. On D-day, the aircraft dropped pathfinding troops for the 6 th Airborne Division within minutes of commencement of Operation Overlord. Later in the day, four squadrons of Albemarles towed Horsas containing more ground troops over to Normandy. Shortly after taking part in the Arnhem landings in September 1944, the aircraft was retired from front-line squadrons and transferred to training units.
Manufacturers: A. W. Hawkesley Ltd, Brockworth, Gloucester.
Type: British twin-engined military transport or glider tug.
Accommodation: Up to 10 paratroops; crew of three to four.
Engines: Two Bristol Hercules XI of 1,590h.p.
Speed: Maximum, 265mph at 10,500 feet; cruising, 170mph
Range: 1,300 miles.
Dimensions: Span 77ft., length 59ft. 11in., height 15ft. 7in., wing area 803 sq ft.
Construction: Composite wood and metal, plywood covered.