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F/O JIM RIKE'S CG-4A RESTORATION PROJECT

Restoration and rebuild projects in the Low Countries

WACO CG-4A, serial unknown, 436 Troop Carrier Group, 81th Squadron, forced landed at Serskamp (Belgium).

During Operation Market (September 1944), the 101 Airborne Division had to capture the bridges arround the Dutch town of Eindhoven. This formation flew the Southern Route, which was over liberated Belgium. Due to adverse weather on September 19, several glider tugs had to abandon their glider before reaching the Dutch border. Most of these made a safe landing in a field. The crew and their glider soldiers were picked up whilst the aircraft was abandoned. In many cases the were recovered by the forces to be used again, but sometimes the gliders were destroyed by local souvenir hunters.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered at a farm at Serskamp-Wetteren (west of Ghent) a steel tube frame which turned out to be the centersection of a WACO GC-4A. I contacted the owner, Mr. Temmerman, and he told me the troops went out via the nose and left after a few hours the area. The glider was left alone and during the night the locals just took everything they could use of it. The farmer on whose land it came down took the tube frame of the center-section home and made a shed of it in which he stored his coals for heating.



Serskamp, 1987. The frame of a Waco found at the farm locally known
as "Kadol".

When Mr. Temmerman realised it would be a nice project to restore this center-section, I could take it home. In March 1997 we did so and after more than half a century standing outside in the Belgian weather, it is now well protected in our hangar in Erembodegem. The section - the one in which 13 troops were sitting - is for 85 % complete and is about 12 feet long and six feet high. Some tubes are missing but these will be replaced. Most of the pieces at the end of the tubes which lead to the plywood floor were rotten away.

We are currently restoring this glider with original parts. We received the formidable help from a Dutch Airborne Collector, Herman Wijnhoven. He lives in Groesbeek, where the 82nd AB landed. Once he visited our project, he thought some pieces of his collection could be useful for our WACO. A few weeks later, thanks to his help, we now have the almost complete landing gear.

 

 

Herman Wijnhoven from Groesbeek, near the Gavin-
monument. He plays an important role in the
restoration process.

This is how we discovered a wooden floor in a
farm near Groesbeek.

Battered, but in good condition, with inspection stamps from Winter Inc. -NYC !

 


On top of that, Herman was able to locate in an old farm a wooden floor for us. This was picked up in October 1999.

 

Other parts were donated by Harrie Dijkhuizen from Best and the Van Leeuwen brothers from Mariekerke. In Asse, with the help of Jef Vermeiren, we located tubes from the tail section from a glider of the same unit as the one from Serskamp, with the serialnumber still on it.

In the very near future, more important elements will arrive in Erembodegem.
The fact that all the parts are orginal and survived the war, makes this project so particular.

 

 

CG-4A 43-19872 of the same 436 TCG, which landed on September 19, 1944, at Asse (Belgium). Parts of this aircraft were recovered recently and will be used for the restoration. The serial number is stamped in the tubes. (Ascania, via Jef Vermeiren)

The floor being picked up near Groesbeek.

Frame, floor and landing gear united, 1999.

 


In 2002, Dany Saey from Puurs worked on the reconstruction of a cockpit which fits on the fuselage. Original elements are incorporated in it.

 

 

 
 

 

 



Jim Rike in the cockpit of a CG-4A
(Jim Rike).

Meanwhile, we were eager to know who was the pilot of this glider. The help of Father Gerard Thuring from Groesbeek, a specialist on Market Garden, was elementary to find out that it was F/O James C. Rike of the 436 Troop Carrier Group, 81th Squadron. He took of on the 19th of September to deliver a "load" of Glidermen of 327 Glider Infantry, 1st Bn, flying a/c "8B" in serial 76.

We were also able to find Mr. James Rike, now a retired Army Colonel. His co-pilot was Tony Kolka. The night before the crew was locked up at the base of Membury with the airborne troops. They had breakfast, and it was allready light when they took off. The crew was forced to land near Wetteren, in an area which was only a few days before was liberated by the Allies. A young boy arrived at the scene and saw the American glider troops lying on the ground, aiming their guns towards everybody who came near. The boy, who spoke english, shouted "Hi Yank", and a bit later the Americans realised they were safe. They were brought by the British troops to Wetteren. James Rike returned late that afternoon, and saw that his glider was allready gone !
Jim took part in operation Varsity with his glider.
After the war, Jim Rike spent a combat tour in Korea, peace time tours in occupied Japan and Germany and two more combat tours in Vient Nam, flying helicopters. He spent many years working in aviation research and development. Jim Rike retired in 1970 as a Colonel with over 300 combat missions.

Unfortunately, Jim has since passed away, but his wife, children and grandchildren visited the BAHA Collection Erembodegem and the place where he made his forced landing back in 1944.

 

Since 2003, the BAHA Archaeology Team has worked on adding the wing struts and main spars with parts of original wing plywood. It looks very much like a glider now. BAHAAT member Dany Saey constructed a cockpit, and original parts were given to us by our good Dutch friend Herman Wijnhoven.

Our project received attention of the UK-based Assault Glider Project and Major Cunningham and his associate Mr. Loudon visited the project. As they are also planning on building a CG-4A, we agreed to change parts. We hope to see this concluded in 2004.

It would be great to find out who actually were the glider troops on board.
If you have any additional information on WACO's, or parts - please contact me at cynrik@pandora.be