First use of radio-controlled “glider bomb” by the Germans on Allies ships


On Aug. 27, 1943 first radio-controlled bomb hit the His Majesty Canadian Ship (HMCS) ‘Athabaskan’ in the Bay of Biscay (France), while this Destroyer was sub hunting. See footnote 1, 2 and 6.

Eyewitness account from captain of the Destroyer, Lt.Commander G. R. Miles, who seen German Dornier 217 bombers, numbering 19 in total, heading in there direct and “‘… the three leading aircraft dropped their rocket bombs almost simultaneously; two were failures and the third, never deviating from its course for an instant, came straight for (HMCS) Athabaskan’s bridge. It was a magnificent shot and no dodging it. Striking the port side at the junction of B gun deck and the wheelhouse, it passed through chief petty officer’s mess and out the starboard side where it exploded when twenty or thirty feet clear of the ship.’”1

Another book suggests another “glider bomb” hit one of the another accompanying ship, the Sloop HMS ‘Egret’. Other ship with two above ships was the Destroyer HMS Grenville. Sloop sank, but with few injuries and the HMCS Athabaskan was able to get to port for lengthy repairs (being active again and sent out around Nov. 43 to Scapa Flow, U.K.).1

“Glider bombs” had a speed of 300-400 knots and 1,100 pounds of explosives and, was radio control, could be directed to the target.2

Also, Canadians and their National Research Council (NRC) developed some ways to stop or try to stop these radio controlled glider bombs. See footnote #3 for web article that talks a little about the attack on HMCS ‘Athabaskan’ and regarding developments efforts by Canada to stop such attacks and other info.3

Another time that I could find regarding a glider bombs attacks was early Sep. 1943 during the Salerno landings in Italy, from German bombers: “… glider bombs were directed against Allied ships, …”.5

  1. See Kindle book page 64 (location 1400-1413 or so) “The Naval Service Of Canada, 1910-2010: The Centennial Story” Edited by Richard H. Gimblett, published in 2009, for more details.

  2. Page 97 “Out Of The Shadows: Canada In The Second World War.” Revised Edition, by W.A.B. Douglas and Brereton Greenhous, published in 1995.

  3. CBC web article regarding Canadian counter measures/developments for German radio control glider bombs and the attack of these bombs on the Athabaskan (RCN) ship:

  4. Veterans Affairs Canada web site has interview with man from the Ship (HMCS) ‘Haida’. In this interview he mentions the occasion when enemy glider bombs were used against the Canadian ship ‘Athabaskan’ and other testimony of action, i.e. an escort of mines laying ships and the engagement of German T boats (T boats I believe are German Destroyers). Note: you can watch the clip of the interview or read the transcript to the right of the clip. And the first clip is the only one where Glider bomb is mentioned. I posted all five clips to make it easier for anyone who wants to see them as they where not in the same spot on the web site and where hard to find.
(Part 1 of 5)
(Part 2 of 5)
(Part 3 of 5)
(Part 4 of 5)
(Part 5 of 5)

  1. Page 176 of “Mapping The Second World War: The History Of The War Through Maps From 1939 To 1945.” By Peter Chasseaud. Published 2015.

  2. Wikipedia web page the history of ship and does mention the German glider bomb that hit the ship on Aug. 27, 1943 and say it happen in the Bay Of Biscay, see link: