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Gliders and Paratroops

"INVASION" headline in The Detroit News. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"INVASION" headline in The Detroit News. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. paratroopers, their faces blackened so they would be more difficult to see in the darkness, en route to their drop zone. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. paratroopers, their faces blackened so they would be more difficult to see in the darkness, en route to their drop zone. (U.S. Air Force photo)

C-47s bank for England after their CG-4A gliders have cut loose from their tow lines. (U.S. Air Force photo)

C-47s bank for England after their CG-4A gliders have cut loose from their tow lines. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The invasion of France on June 6, 1944, began from the air. Huge skytrains of transports and gliders carried more than 17,000 men across the English Channel between midnight and dawn. Low clouds and fog over the Cherbourg Peninsula made aerial navigation difficult, and even trained pathfinders had trouble in locating and marking the desired drop zones.

Despite the adverse weather and heavy, continuous antiaircraft fire, most of the transports and gliders reached their designated landing areas. Although some paratroopers and gliders came down outside their intended drop zones, this scattering of Allied soldiers tended to confuse the enemy, thereby adding to the success of the invasion from the sea.

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