Being a Paratrooper is a pretty tough task. You’re put straight into difficult combat situations with limited resources and you’re expected to perform miracles with the scant kit you jumped out of the plane, or the glider you landed in.  It was certainly true in 1944 when the Allies dropped thousands of troops into France to try and take strategic positions so that the beach landings could go ahead smoothly. If the beach landings had failed then those paratroopers would have had no chance of surviving without being captured. Wouldn’t it have been handy to have like a little tank or something to help boost their chances? Enter the M22 Locust a tank designed to be delivered by glider to the front line. It’s a tiny tank as the name suggests and while you can’t take one out on a Tank Driving day you can drive something a little similar at www.armourgeddon.co.uk/tank-driving-experience.html so you get the idea.

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After Normandy the Allies like Eisenhower and Montgomery were very pleased at how the whole paratrooper scenario had played out. It had been a great success with certain inland  French towns captured along with vital river crossings like Pegasus bridge. However they realised that if the troopers had some armour to back them up then they would be in an even stronger position. Operation Market Garden had been a failure and the Rhine river was still a natural obstacle and it was hoped this highly mobile attack would speed up the end of the war. Paratroopers would be paramount.

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The next stage of the offensive was to get the troopers over the Rhine and into Germany. This would be a symbolic victory for the Allies and a demoralising blow to the Germans because if this natural border was crossed then the end of the war was sure to follow. The plan for the locust was simple. It was a light and very fast tank that although it did not have heavy armour it could zip around the battlefield and provide decent cover for the troops whilst they waited for the main force to advance.

The Locust was designed to be brought in silently in a glider, although the element of surprise was soon lost when they came to start it up. By that point the position was hopefully secured and the Locust was ready for defence. However, the US army never used them as they were deemed out of date and surplus to requirements. The British Army ended up with them in the end, another example of the “special relationship” presumably namely being given redundant tanks.

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