by Herbert Holeman, Colonel, USA(Ret)
When available, the C47 (Dakota) was pressed into service with the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War.
But actually, the JU-52, a trimotor aircraft, served as the main jump aircraft. Among the fallschirmjagers,
the Junkers Ju 52 was known as "Tante Ju," ("Aunt Ju") and also as "Iron Annie."
Click here for specs.
Compared to the C-47, which had a speed of 237 mph and a range of 1,025 miles, the speed of the Ju-52
was 165 mph with a range of 541 miles.
here for a detailed comparison between the aircraft.
German paratroopers were
equipped much the same as the infantryman. But paratroopers had to carry all of their supplies with on the jump
them. After the combat jump on Crete, all paratroopers jumped with their weapons with them to enable direct fire
on landing. Ammo was kept in a bandoleer worn around the neck. In combat, jumps were known to have been made from
the JU-52 at an altitude of 330 feet and an aircraft speed of 120 mph. The lowest recorded jump of 250 ft was at
Crete. Most chute models used had quick release buckles which enabled the paratrooper to be quickly free of the
chute in ground wind or when landing under fire.
In a nighttime jump on May 10th. 1940, the first airborne drop of paratroopers by any nation in the Second World
War was made when the Netherlands was invaded by a German paratroop assault. the German paratroops played a key role
in their jump at Arnhem to kick-off the invasion of Holland early in the war.
At the outbreak of
hostilities in September 1939, the Netherlands had intended to remain neutral but was forced into the war on the
night of May 10th. 1940, when the country was invaded by paratroop assault. 400 JU-52 aircraft were involved, and
although paratroopers consisted of the bulk of the force, the first landings were made by 42 gliders. Importantly,
as a matter of strategy, among other targets captured in the early hours of that day, were the airfields near the Hague
and the bridges between Holland and Germany.
Click here for a video
of the German paratroopers jump into the Netherlands
The German paratroop force was
roughly the size of a reinforced light infantry regiment. In a link-up tactic that the Allies would later take in
Operation Market-Garden, in conception, if not in execution, the Germans paratroopers seized the key
bridges into Holland from Germany and opened a link up the way for the armored Panzer Division to drive into Holland.
And again, in 1944, it was the success of the Fallschirm-Armee (The German 1st Parachute Army) that defeated
the Allies in the largest airborne attack in history, the famous Battle of Arnhem late in the war.
Rare video of German paratroopers in action 1942-45
here for a video of the German Airborne Invasion of Crete | 1941 | World War 2 OSS Documentary
here for a video of German Paratrooper - Fallschirmjäger (Grüne Teufel) Training in WWII
here for a video of German Paratroopers in World War II
Note jumper exit from aircraft