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"Airplane Grappling Iron" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following military report on a grappling iron for destruction of telephone and telegraph wires was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 42, January 13, 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


As a result of Soviet experiments with a number of different devices for destroying telephone and telegraph wire lines, the grappling iron was found to be most effective. The plane used for the experiments was an IL-2 (Stormovik). It was found that the breaking of wire in one span resulted in the destruction of several adjacent spans.

Grappling irons, if not available, can be easily constructed in any field workshop. If steel or iron rods are not obtainable, a grappling iron can be made of four insulator knob supports (insulator hooks), .71 inch in diameter (figure 1). Four hooks are welded together and formed into a grappling iron (figure 2). A ring is made in the base. A .16- to .24-inch cable is then put through the ring and spliced to form a strong loop. The other end of the cable is attached to the bomb release lock of the airplane. This enables the pilot to drop the grappling iron on the landing field when the mission is accomplished.

[Details for Airplane Grappling Iron]

The mounting of the grappling iron on the plane is also very simple. The cable is wound on a wooden block, from five to seven inches in diameter, and about 12 inches long (figure 3). The block is tied to the fuselage; it is released first, and then the pilot throws out the grappling iron. At 155 miles an hour, the unwound cable forms an angle of 30° to 40° with the longitudinal axis of the plane (figure 4) which is quite sufficient for the destruction of overhead wires.


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