Greenville’s Fighting Falcon Military Museum

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-17 19:47:44-05

GREENVILLE, MI -- If you think Greenville's Fighting Falcon Museum is just another place to see military artifacts, think again! I was amazed to learn that hang gliders were built in Greenville for the D-Day Normandy, France invasion in June 1944. In fact, Gibson Refrigerators was contracted by the government to build more than one thousand of these gliders. There is an exact replica of the original Fighting Falcon CG4 glider that crashed over enemy lines in France during the D-Day invasion. You've got to see it! It was completely restored in 2004 with parts located and found all over the world including Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and a farm in Germany.

These gliders were typically towed by C47 cargo planes...then the tow rope would be released and the gliders would fly in quietly deep in to enemy territory. The other advantage? Instead of paratroopers ending up scattered about an area, the glider could land with a platoon of 12 or 13 soldiers together and in tact. In some cases, these CG4 gliders could carry two tons of fire power or equipment like a jeep. 75 millimeter guns could break fortified bunkers and do some serious tank damage to the German enemy which they could fly in.

The CG4 glider had more than 70,000 parts, was more than 12 feet high, and had a wingspan of more than 83 feet. While the glider is clearly the gem of the museum, there are many other items and artifacts to see and enjoy. German knives and daggers, standard issue handguns for Nazi soldiers like the Lugar and Walther, rifles, rocket launchers, old uniforms, vintage banner newspaper headlines, and some of the helmets that were the first ever made and worn.

While Gibson made the gliders, they also made things like a bomb shackle that would hold chemical bombs in place. They made 165 gallon fuel drop tanks for the purpose of extending the range of the fighter escorts of the bombers that flew the bombing missions over Germany. They made incendiary bombs that held phosphorus and magnesium which burns very hot and bright. They would be dropped on Japanese cities because buildings were in very close proximity to each other and were made of bamboo and paper, so fire would ravage the city the incendiary bomb was dropped on. Even Federal Mogul was contracted by the government during the war effort to make propellers.

A trip to the Fighting Falcon Military Museum is free, but donations are certainly accepted. Click here for their website and more information on hours and background. Click here for their Facebook page.