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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 10:00 pm 
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Hi:

This is intended to be a brief overview of Airborne concepts and operations, so, I beg you pardon in advance for omitting anything, becasue I hope we get a fairly decent overview of the subject.

Sadly, it has been my practice to put forth a general overview and my impressions as to a certain subject in order to establish a broad base for discussion.

Even as it stands, this post will be quite long enough.

So, be clear that I hope this is not the 'be all end all' on the matter, nor should any of my posts be considered as such, especially opening ones.

Parachutes came into use during World War I.

Crew of observation balloons and some Zeppelins had them, and heavier than air crew did not.

Robert Hughe's infamous (black.white no sound---black white with sound------and finally color and sound) "Hell's Angels" about aviators in the Great War remains a fairly good look a the war in the Air in the Great War
some sixty plus years after its inception.

In that film, Zeppelin Aviators were depicted as not having parachutes available them on long missions, and the point was driven home when several of the crew were -ah--'urged to jump to lighten ship after some damage had been sustained.

In the between war period many countries, including but not limited to the USSR and Germany; pressed forward in developing independent parachute infantry units.

By the start of the War the US, Japan, Britain, France, and Italy at the least had independant parachute infantry units.

The concept of the use of Air and Glider borne infantry first saw its major implementation by the Wermacht in the operation against the Dutch fortess of Eben-Email.

As was the case in the First War, specific Fortresses near the converging frontiers of Holland, Belgium and France had to be neutralized by the German Army in order for it to meet its goals.

In the First war a major obstacle to the implementation of the "Von Schiffen" (right hook) plan required the speedy reduction of the Belgian fortresses centering on Liege, the home of (Fabrique Nationale de Armes de Guerre Liege; Belgique")FN.

The answer to the tactical question saw the deployment of massive vertical fire capable mortars and howitzers by the German Imperial Army.

The forts were literally crushed.

An entire thread could be spent on the various fortresses which contributed greatly, such as Douamont at Verdun, to the incrediblr bloodiness whih characterized the struggle, but that is not the intial thrust of the thread.

At the onset of the Second part of the Great War, in 1939 the Polish fort at Westerplatte had to be reduced and, at the end of the "phony war' in the West, the Dutch forts at Eben Email had to be taken quickly as part of the Blitzkreig in the West.

The elderly German Battleship :Schleswig Holstien, a predreadougt Battleship was pulled into Gdansk (Danzig) to help reduce Westerplatte.

However, when that campaign was concluded, the Wermacht turned its attention to the West and sought to introduce the concept of 'air assault' as an integral part of "Lightning War".

I hope to discuss many of the various campaigns in detail.

Eben Email was captured by a daring glider borne assault which landed Fallschirjager troopers with shaped charges on the surface of the Fort istelf.

The success of the operation (1940) helped the fledgling Fallschirmjager force, developed and led by Gen. Karl Student, to a great gain in confidence as to the use of the new weapon.

There seems to have been no attempt to translate "paratrooper' into German for the Wermacht's Parachute Assault troops (Luft Strurmtruppen?") and the troopers became known as "Fallschirmjager"--falling hunters from the sky.

Recall please that this is an introductory overview as I jump to the next major airborne operation, the German Assault against Crete.

This operation was carried out by glider borne infantry and parachute infantry.

The British had good intelligence as to the time, places and strengths of units to hit the DZ's on Crete, but the Luftwaffe put heavy pressure on the Royal Navy, keeping them largely out of the fray.

As are most parachute infantry drops, the Jaegers were lightly armed and the British and Austalian defenders had good preset positions and heavy weapons.

Despite this, the Jaegers eventually overran, by force of will and elan, the defenders.

However, the Airborne units were given such a 'bloody nose' that Hitler swore he would not use them again.

To some extent, at least in the West, this carried true for most of the War.

That being said, I will go on to say that the next major operations involving parachute infantry may next be seen in North Africa, Siclily and thereafter in operations Overlord ,Market Garden and the crossing of the Rhine.

The operations, in this case by the Allies, seemed to prove out the notion that Parachute Infantry must needs be supported and relieved on time or heavy forces in and around the DZ (Delta Zed in Brit speak)s would grind the more lightly armed units up.

Of cousre this is a generalization, as some heavy weapons most certainly were employed and deployed by Glider or separate drop.

To me, I must say, that the most daring operaton of the War came when US parachustists dropped directly onto the island fortress in Manilla Harbor.

The fortess, Corregidor, was well fortified and was an exteremely hazardous drop.

Water and barbed wire hazards went by the wayside and US forces retook Corregidor, from which MacArthur had fled and which Gen, Wainright surrendered to the Japanese after a respectably lengthy siege.

Speraking in generalities again, the US 82nd Airborne remained , post war, was the sole dedicated parachute infantry division in the West.

Deployment is/was conceived to be made by direct drops from the massive stretched hull C-140 Starlifters or C-17 Globemasters stationed near Fort Bragg.

The division is undrgoing reoganization into Brigade Based Units (BCT's)to deal with present threats. 101st and Ranger Troopers remain parachute capable although the 101st is perhaps best described as an "Air Mobile" Division as opposed to a 'parachute" division.

If my recollections are correct, both the 82nd "All American" and 101st Screaming Eagles" were disbanded at the end of WWII, but reconstituted during the Cold War when it became clear that the Cold War was 'here to stay' and the retention of Airborne forces, a regular miitary establishment and the "Military Industrial Complex" (phrase coined by "Ike") were going to be required. All these concepts could easily be seen as 'against' the general antipathy of Americans towards 'standing armies' and 'conscription'.

American troopers did enjoy the extra safety of a reserve chute.

Some major delivery aircraft:C-17, C-47, C-54, C-119, C-121, C-130 Hercules, the Horsa and Waco gliders, C-140 Starlifters.

Can't wait to see how this one plays out.

(Movies: "A Bridge Too Far' and "The Longest Day" for a start and for books "Those Devils in Baggy Pants" by Ross S. Carter.)

J

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Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Mon Oct 08, 2007 6:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:48 am 
Hi John , brings back memorys of my trip through Normandy , we followed a path to various sights following the different battles .

One of the places I recall was pegasus bridge , British airbourne arriving in gliders , and capturing the bridge to prevent German armour reaching the beachead
Image

was amazing how much the airbourne managed to accomplish , how far from the beach head they infiltrated without support , and the emplacements they managed to remove . And the distances they managed to cover when drops very much seemed to go wrong .

In awe of there courage .

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:02 am 
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Thank you John for this thread. All my life I have had nothing but utmost admiration and respect for airborne [air assault troops]_ the Screaming Eagles and the 82nd_

As an Infantry soldier, once _ my dreams were to 'drop from the sky' with my M-1 rifle and bandoleers strapped to my back.

Quote:
"The WW2 101st Airborne produced many officers whose names will long be remembered: Generals Maxwell Taylor, Tony McAuliffe, West Point-trained tacticians like LTC Ewell and Kinnard, who have risen to the top echelons of the military.

But you will not find one among them that knew or was expected to know the art of killing, perfecting it to the degree achieved by some of the enlisted men.

The best and toughest of the paratroopers were cold, fearless killers, who went to great extremes to kill the enemy. Around this hard core of fearless killers, was built the greatest military machine of any war, the 101st Airborne."-


Pfc Melton 'Tex'McMorries' Company 'G' 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:49 pm 
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Not a Problem Sensei Van.

This topic is unlikely to close soon.

I am still researching.

Present research indicates that the 101st was first instituted in 1942 and I will re-pen the dedication speach in part.

Basically it intimated that a new type of american soldier had been born, and Had to be born to meet the times.

Hopefully I can get some decent coverage of this elite unit and others of its type.

Image

A above is a pic of the end of the drop onto "The Rock" carried out by 503rd Parachute Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division.

I will try and repost this in a larger pic.

This is not a unit with which i (and perhaps any of us are) am familiar.

Obviously my education has been lacking.

Part of the caption reads: "Corregidor, under allied bombardment since January 23 (1945) was invaded feb. 16 (1945).

Two long Skytrains of C-47 transports brought the veteran 503rd Parachute Regiment to the "Rock". (amazing how that nickname is used at present)"

This was probably the last major action in the Battle for Manilla in which 150,000 Filipino civilians were killed.

My recollection tells me that General Yamashita "Tiger of Malaya" had withdrawn his forces to points in the nearest high country and, in effect, declared Manilla an "Open City" under the Geneva Convention.

This tactical and humanitarion decision fared no better than the American declaration to that effect in 1941.

The City was defended by elements of Japanese forces attached to the Imperial Navy (more research) who defended the city, if not the populace, bitterly.

The Filipino civilians, reportedly often used by IJN forces as shields, were purposely caught in the middle and suffered greatly.

I will say again, that although culturally acceptable to Japanese forces at the time, their behaviour in regards to civlians and prisoners in the fighting for the Phillipines was less than respectable by our standards.

We have discussed the reasons for the zero regard for IJ forces towards civilians and prisoners, starting in the Sino Japanese War in 1937 on other threads.

J

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 Post subject: Thank you John
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:17 pm 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v7e5mKh708

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:24 pm 
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Quote:
"Who carried which weapons and why didn't all paratroopers carry the folding stock carbines, which were especially designed for them?"

Most members of a rifle squad were armed with 30-06 caliber M-1 Garand rifles, which were a much more potent weapon than the carbine, which lacked range and knockdown power.

The M1-A1 carbine with a folding stock, was issued to officers, also to some members of crew-served weapons (i.e. 60mm mortar squad), while non coms(sergeants) carried the M1-A1 or M1928A1 Thompson submachine-gun.

This included Staff Sgts (platoon Sgts) and 3 stripe Buck Sgts (squad leaders). These weapons were prescribed by the TO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment), but individuals frequently opted for-and usually got, whatever they wanted.


This switching was done on the battlefield, if not accomplished prior to a mission. Since the M-1 Garand was the best all-around weapon, many officers also used it, instead of the carbine, and some noncoms swapped their TSMG for an M-1.


Some members of crew-served weapons also preferred the M-1 over the carbine, despite it's extra weight, when they were also carrying such items as MG ammo, tripods, baseplates, mortar tubes, 40lb A-4 machineguns, etc.


If all the paratroopers had been equipped with carbines instead of M-1 rifles, it would have been a lot more difficult for the 101st Airborne to win any battles.

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 Post subject: John...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:42 pm 
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Very interesting thread...

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:43 pm 
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Quote:
note: The Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) was not issued to WW2 paratroopers because it was considered too awkward to jump with. It was not listed on the TO&E for Parachute Infantry rifle companies.


The weapon weighs about 20 lb and is four feet long and cannot be broken down for jumping purposes. This is why squad tactics centered around the LMG (dropped in bundles) instead.

The B.A.R. was an effective and devastating weapon and immediately after WW2, the 82nd and 11th Airborne


Divisions incorporated them into their TO&Es and devised a method of jumping with them fully-assembled, and strapped alongside the parachutist's leg, muzzle down.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:32 pm 
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One or two minor grumbles, John. MacArthur did not flee from Corregidor, he was ordered out by FDR who realized that, all of Mac's problems considered, he was still the best commander to organize a ragtag war against the Japanese while the "real" war was fought against the Germans. At least that was how the strategists in Washington saw the need.

I have long ago concluded that Eisenhower could never have held such a ragtag coalition together with force of personality in the manner that MacArthur did but, on the other hand, Mac could no more have commanded SHAEF than Patton could have. Both of them had egos to great to allow for that. Can you imagine MacArthur, Patton, and Montgomery in the same command?

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:42 pm 
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Also, a now deceased friend of mine in the Foreign Service at the time of the Yom Kippur (1973) War, told me why Nixon put the American forces on DEFCON 2 at that time. He said that, after Arik Sharon had crossed the Suez Canal and surrounded an Egyptian Army, the Soviets had put two airborne divisions into the air on the way to relieve the Egyptians. Rather than have the Israelis shoot them down, Nixon ordered the US Navy in the Mediterranean to do this if they crossed over a certain point. This is what brought the US forces worldwide to DEFCON 2. Whether the Soviets were bluffing or not, they got what they wanted, great power intervention to end the war in time to save that Egyptian Army from destruction.

And we all thought that Nixon was saber-rattling because of Watergate!

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 Post subject: Not Since I went----
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:58 pm 
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Hi:

The M-1 and M2 Carbines are not particulary powerful. I will try to find out the mix of weapons in a 'Leg" unit versus an Airborne unit.

I have an Idea, but should verify it.

Not since I went huntiing rabbit in another lifetime (for some reason it was legal at the time with a five round mag) an wounded a rabbit, but did not kill it have it felt the ,30 Carbine cartritde adequate.

Howvever, when it was designed, it was intended only to equip officer's sidearms, and when pressed beyond "pistol duty" and asked to act as a "Sub machine gun or assault rifle" did the rifle show its true qualities.

When the Korean war came, the US found itself a bit short of serviceable weapons as ,at the close of WWII, all weapons issued were turned in (or sometimes 'taken home'.

Inadequate thought had been given to what might happen should another 'intense' conflict arose.

I cannot say how many weapons in other categories were 'preserved' although I can speak for the many "jeep" carriers in mothballs in Boston when I was young.

In any event, nearly every M-1 Garand and M-1 Carbine at hand not already in acceptable shape, was sent for reconditioning.

That is the reason why it is so dern difficult to find a, for example, M-1 made at a particular arsenal in original condition. WWII stocks were 'cartouched' at the time of original manufacture. No though was given (quite rightly) to preserving the origanl stock on an original rifle.

(Although I have managed to find a few-or 'build' one)

More to follow.

J

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:02 pm 
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Image

Yes Hugh:
I understand what you are saying about McArthur and I believe he was ordered to flee.

There does remain some controversy about "Dugout Doug's" willingness to remain in any event.

("bugout Doug was another less complimentary nickname)

As I said I believe what you say, and as well as in McArthur's courage.

He certainly showed he had courage when he personally led a squad to retake his old Hotel Suite in Manilla (this story is anecdotal) from the Japanese.

Apparently he shot one Japanese soldier (or Marine) dead during the melee and an enlisted man cried "nice going Boss!!" I am assuming that he was hoping some of his personal belongings were still in the Suite.

I think, from that anecdotal evidence, ie; that he had not 'packed up' (there were literally no ships of size availble anyway) to bug out shows an intent to remain.

A good topic for another thread.


In answer to a prior question the following was found with respect to an "American Parachute Company"

1. headquarters
2. 3 Rifle platoons

Headquarters 2X.30 cal. (m1919) LMG

3 Rifle Squads w/

1x BAR
9 x M-1 Rifle
2x .30 cal Carbine or .45 cal. smg

Mortar section

1X 60mm Mortar

This seems to me to have ben a bit on the anemic side and a typical variation introduced by 1944 1945 would have been:

Any Squad:

1XBAR (yes yes I know too big and heavy, perhaps dropped in equipment containers or the like)so this particular toe differs from certain prior statements

3 x .45 SMG (this would be my choice although the weapon 'appears' light it is NOT. This creates one problem (the weight even with the 11.5" bbl) and ameriorates another (heavy recoil and muzzle climb. I had two big uglies, as I call them, still made in Worcester , Ma. They were heavy, but this was offset by the 16.5 minimum bbl length for civilian use. If you want one, get em now as the 30 round stick and 20 round stick mags amde before 1998 will dry up soon. Forget about finding a true 100 round drum. The weapon comes in many configurations, most of which may have been used in action (saving the 16.5 bbl not one of those.)

2 x .30 Caliber Carbine or .45 cal smg (officers?)
6 x M1 Rifle

I think both the BAR and more especially the Thompson M1929 SMG would have become early favorites for 'chute squads.

"Put the lead to 'em boys"

I am sure they must have found a need for the BAR's firepower in actual practice and found a way to get them on the ground.

Typically, the forward bipod was removed from the BAR in service, esspecially in situations where the same could become entangled.

A BAR gunner we all know well (JV Summers) indicated this was his practice ie: to remove the bipod when the situation demanded it.

Even for airborne this toe appears anemic in the anti tank area, but I assume the listed arrangement was varied on the battlefield, I don't think paratroopers are foolish

I will post the toe of a normal 'leg' unit later.

It is unclear to me whether of not there existed in the 'chute company a "weapons platoon".

There also existed separate 'parachute aritillery units". WWe'll talk about them later.

J


(PS-Hugh, it's your job to 'grumble' here!!!!

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Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Wed Oct 10, 2007 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:46 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:50 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:56 pm 
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Jump School - Fort Benning, GA

Quote:
At Jump School, you'll be introduced to your best friend - your parachute. You'll get to know everything about it. How to wear it, adjust it, use it, the works.

You'll also learn all the techniques needed to accomplish your mission with absolute confidence. How to stay loose; get ready for impact; let your legs absorb the shock; roll and collapse your chute quickly; release your harness; unsling your weapon; and deploy into position.

Airborne officers are considered to be among the Army's most valuable combat officers. (Every member of the Rangers and Special Forces - two of the Army's most elite corps - is airborne-qualified.)

And not only Infantry officers can benefit from "going Airborne." Being airborne-qualified will enhance an officer's value to the Army and enhance his or her own chances for a valuable career.

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