In April 1941, the Waco Aircraft Company was awarded the US Government
contract to build nine- and fifteen-place gliders. The XCG-3 was an experimental
glider with a wingspan of 73 feet, to carry eight men. After the succeful
trials the Commonwealth Aircraft Company produced 100 gliders which were
named now CG-3A, with a capicity of 9 men. All were used only at glider
pilot training bases.
CG stood for Cargo Glider.
Waco developed a larger version of the CG-3A, the XCG-4. What made this
glider so special, was the fact that the entire nose section including
the cockpit, hinged upwards, thus enabling a large cargo to be unloaded
fast and easy.
The trials of the XCG-4 being satisfactory, on 29 June 1942 the glider
was designated CG-4A.
By the end of July 1942, the Army had given 16 companies contracts to
build the CG-4A. At the end of the war, 23 companies were involved in
the production. Each company build its "own" GC-4A, with a two
CG-4A FO : Ford Motor Company Kingsford, Michigan - 4 190 gliders
build At 15 400 USD each, they were most successful in producing the
glider. At Kingsford Ford manufactured station wagons. 4500 people
were working around the clock in eight-hours shifts. At their peak,
the workers turned out 8 G-4A’s a day.
CG-4A NW : Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation, Minneapolis, Minnesota
– 1509 gliders built
CG-4A CM : Rearwin Aircraft and Engines, Inc. (later Commonwealth
Aircraft, Inc.), Kansas City, Kansas – 1470 built
CG-4A GE : General Aircraft Corporatoin, Astoria, New York –
1112 gliders built
CG-4A GN : Gibson Refrigeration Company, Greenville, Michigan –
1078 gliders built
GC-4A WO : Waco Aircraft Company, Troy Ohio – 1074 gliders
CG-4A PR : Pratt-Read and Company (soaring plane manufacturer),
Deep River, Connecticut – 956 gliders built
CG-4A CE : Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, Kansas – 750
CG-4A G&A : AGA Aviation Corporation (later G&A Aircraft),
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania – 627 gliders built
CG-4A TI Timm Aircraft Company, Los Angeles, California –
433 gliders built
CG-4A LK : Laister-Kauffman (soaring plane manufacturer), St. Louis
, Missouri – 310 gliders built
CG-4A RO : Robertson Aircraft Corporation, St. Louis, Missouri –
170 gliders built
CG-4A RI : Jenter Corporation (former Rigdefield Manufacturing Corporation),
Ridgefield, New Jersey – 162 glmiders built
CG-4A BB :Babcock Aircraft Corporation, Deland, Florida - 60 build. Six
were damaged beyond repair in wind storm but they were
given credit for building them and were paid for them. So in fact, 54
gliders were ordered. Production facilities were housed in a circus tent.
The average price was 51 000 USD each, whilst a P-51 Mustang cost about
58 000 USD !
CG-4A WA : Porterfield Aircraft Company (former Ward Furniture Manufacturing
Company), Fort Smith, Arkansas – 7 gliders built
CG-4A NA : National Aircraft Corporation, Elwood, Indiana –
1 glider built
A CG-4A had about 70 000 parts, most of which were produced by subcontractors.
To name a few:
Steinway & sons piano manufacturing : wings and tail surfaces
for General Aircraft.
H.J. Heinz Pickle Company : wings for General Aircraft, sparcap
strips for Ford
Anheuser-Busch Brewery : inboard wing panels for Laister-Kaufmann
Gardner Metal Products Company (producer of coffins): steel fittings
for Robertson Aircraft Company.
At end of war only 16 companies were prime contractors for the CG-4A.
All others were sub-contractors. Actually, by 1945, National, Timm, Ward
and Babcock had been pretty much eliminated by 1945, leaving only 12 prime
The Royal Air Force received 1095 GC-4A’s – designated by
the British as "Hadrian".
With a production number of 13 903, the CG-4A was by far the most produced
glider in aviation history. The United Kingdom build 5 935 gliders (including
the Horsa, Hamilcar and other types), Germany 3 995 (all types, including
DFS 230, Gotha 242 …). Also in comparison to powered planes, the
CG-4A production number is unique: more CG-4A’s were build than,
for example, B-17 Flying Fortresses or P-38 Lightnings.
(many thanks to Charles Day, who contacted us and gave some updates from
his own research. Charles is the author of Silent Ones, WWII Invasion
Glider Test & Experiment, CCAAF, Wilmington, Ohio.