pink plans for Colditz glider

Catalogue number
  • EPH 637
Department
Exhibits
Production date
1945
Dimensions
  • whole: L: 34cm W: 52cm
Alternative names
  • full name: pink plans for Colditz glider
  • simple name: POW
Category
souvenirs and ephemera

© IWM (EPH 637)

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Label

Plans for the construction of an escape glider (the 'Colditz Cock') based on the designs of Flight-Lieutenant L J E Goldfinch produced during the Second World War whilst he was a prisoner of war in Oflag IVC, Colditz Camp (Saxony, Germany). At the beginning of 1944, three prisoners, Flight-Lieutenant Bill Goldfinch, Lieutenant Tony Rolt and Flight-Lieutenant Jack Best, came up with an ingenious plan to build a glider. The idea of an aerial escape from Colditz Castle was thought up by Bill Goldfinch when in the winter of 1943 he noticed that the snowflakes were taking an upward course over the prison roof. The idea was to build a glider that could sit on the sloping roof and be launched in a strong wind. Bill Goldfinch became the designer of the project, which resulted in the manufacture of the 'Colditz Cock'. The full-size, two man glider was constructed secretly in an attic from pieces of wood (floor and bed boards) and mattress covers. Essential construction tools were improvised by Flight Lieutenant Jack Best. The finished glider had a wingspan of 32 feet and an all-up weight with two occupants of around 560lb. The design was original except for the rudder shape, which was based on the pre-war 'Luton Buzzard'. The craft was intended to be launched from the roof on a trolley attached to a bath full of concrete weights. When the bath was dropped, the resulting thrust was calculated as sufficient to propel the glider some 450 metres so as to land it in a small flat field across the River Mulde. The glider was completed by the end of 1944 but no escape was attempted in light of the War Office's warnings of Hitler's orders that all recaptured prisoners would now be shot. Although only four men at a time could fit into the attic, in all 52 prisoners helped in various ways either as look-outs ('stooges'), or assisting with the construction. When Colditz was liberated in April 1945, the assembled glider was revealed, to the astonishment of those who saw it. Sadly it was destroyed just after the war before it could be put to the test. See also C. H. Latimer-Needham, 'The Colditz Cock' in FLIGHT International, 26 September 1968.

Physical description

Plans for a glider that was built by prisoners on war held at Colditz Castle (L 34 cm x W 52 cm). The plans are hand drawn at 1 cm to 1 foot scale on pink paper and show three views of the glider – front, plan and side. The plan view shows construction details in one wing and one horizontal stabiliser. The plan is annotated with various measurements and calculations. The plan is currently mounted with a white card mount and framed inside a rectangular glazed pale wood frame. The backboard is secured with framer’s points and framing tape.

History note

Plans for the construction of an escape glider (the 'Colditz Cock') based on the designs of Flight-Lieutenant L J E Goldfinch produced during the Second World War whilst he was a prisoner of war in Oflag IVC, Colditz Camp (Saxony, Germany). At the beginning of 1944, three prisoners, Flight-Lieutenant Bill Goldfinch, Lieutenant Tony Rolt and Flight-Lieutenant Jack Best, came up with an ingenious plan to build a glider. The idea of an aerial escape from Colditz Castle was thought up by Bill Goldfinch when in the winter of 1943 he noticed that the snowflakes were taking an upward course over the prison roof. The idea was to build a glider that could sit on the sloping roof and be launched in a strong wind. Bill Goldfinch became the designer of the project, which resulted in the manufacture of the 'Colditz Cock'. The full-size, two man glider was constructed secretly in an attic from pieces of wood (floor and bed boards) and mattress covers. Essential construction tools were improvised by Flight Lieutenant Jack Best. The finished glider had a wingspan of 32 feet and an all-up weight with two occupants of around 560lb. The design was original except for the rudder shape, which was based on the pre-war 'Luton Buzzard'. The craft was intended to be launched from the roof on a trolley attached to a bath full of concrete weights. When the bath was dropped, the resulting thrust was calculated as sufficient to propel the glider some 450 metres so as to land it in a small flat field across the River Mulde. The glider was completed by the end of 1944 but no escape was attempted in light of the War Office's warnings of Hitler's orders that all recaptured prisoners would now be shot. Although only four men at a time could fit into the attic, in all 52 prisoners helped in various ways either as look-outs ('stooges'), or assisting with the construction. When Colditz was liberated in April 1945, the assembled glider was revealed, to the astonishment of those who saw it. Sadly it was destroyed just after the war before it could be put to the test. The designer Flight Lieutenant L J E Goldfinch gave these plans for 'The Colditz Cock' to the donor. See also C. H. Latimer-Needham, 'The Colditz Cock' in FLIGHT International, 26 September 1968. The so-called 'pink' plans Marked

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