Glider accident 73rd Troop Carrier Squadron/434th TCG  21 February 1944

Fulbeck Airfield


The 434th Troop Carrier Group arrived in the European Theatre of Operations on October 7th, 1943. She was the first Troop Carrier Group to arrive in England.

The Group was made out of four squadrons. The 71st, 72nd, 73rd and 74th Troop Carrier Squadron.

The group continued training for the day of the invasion of Western Europe.


The evening of February 21st called for another training flight. Eight C-47s with gliders were ready for take off. The 434th TCG would fly mainly glider missions to Normandy some months later.

Glider 42-77432 was flown by F/O Leon C. Doelger and F/O George F. Heath flew as co-pilot. They were flying in the end of the formation, the No. 8 position. Take off was normal and the flight proceeded as planned.

F/O Doelger stated: I cut loose from tow plane a few seconds after No. 7 released. Made a normal turn to the left, speed of 105 MPH. Slowed glider speed with use of spoilers and also to avoid getting to close to No. 7 glider.

On the final approach I stayed to the right and to the rear of No. 7. It was then I came into the prop-wash causing a loss of 150’. Believing I was still making the proper approach I began holding the glider off the ground as long as possible to make up for the lost altitude. Looking to the ground I could see nothing, it was then we hit C-47 # 42-100507 causing damage to the left wing tip, left wing, left de-icer boot and aileron. Then our right wing hit the other C-47 # 2-24039 damaging the left wing and wing tip, the left propeller and aileron and accessory cowling section, that swung the glider around the front of the plane causing damage to the right wing leading edge and de-icer boot.


The glider damage was: right wing smashed and loose in it’s connection to the fuselage, left wing badly torn and also loose from the fuselage. Fuselage at the wing boots was bent and torn and the pilots greenhouse was damaged slightly. The right hand door didn’t open.

The fuselage was slightly bent.


The accident investigation officers concluded that:

The pilot of the glider failed to release at the proper time and landed short of his objective. Prop-wash may have contributed to loss of altitude but was only indirectly responsible for the accident.


F/O Doelger had at the time of the accident 60:25 hours flight experience with gliders. 2:05 hours were night flights and those were flown in the previous 30 days.

The investigation officers recommended that the pilot was given more night training.


Eventually, F/O Doelger flew a glider to Normandy during the ‘Keokuk” mission on the evening of June 6th 1944. F/O  Michael A. Treichak flew as co-pilot on that mission.







C-47 # 42-24039 flew another day. It seems that the plane was transferred to the 436th Troop Carrier Group later in the war. The picture of the damaged tail comes from the collection of a 436th TCG navigator. The damage visible in the circles is caused during the Market Garden operation.


C-47 # 42-100507 was at the end of the war involved in an accident. The plane was then in service of the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron. The pilot at the time of that accident was Herman R. Fonseca.

Information on this accident will follow later.


Photo left shows the tail section of 42-24039. This photo shows damage suffered during the Market Garden operation. The plane was in service with the 436th Troop Carrier Group at that moment.

Visible on the tail is the old radio call sign when the plane was in service with the 434th Troop Carrier Group. The V is painted over the roughly overpainted H.

Photo courtesy T. Vail.

On the webmasters previous website, following was posted by Mr. Litke, 71st Troop Carrier Squadron veteran:


Fonseca was leading a small formation into an abandoned grass airstrip He peeled off into a 180 turn and approached the center line of the rather short field. I was #2 ship and followed at about a 5 second interval. Fonseca touched down and his a/c immediately stopped and went tail up ending on it’s nose. I immediately pulled up and led formation in a circle of the field and attempted to locate a drier spot to land on. In less then a minute Fonseca came up on the radio stating he was OK and pointing out a less muddy part of the field to land on. Mission completed, no injuries, damaged a/c abandoned. Capt Marvin Litke 71st TcSq,


Airborne Troop Carrier - Miscellaneous