Wartime Fallschirmjagers

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. Click 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

Lean more in Wikipedia

Click here for a video of the German Airborne Invasion of Crete | 1941 | World War 2 OSS Documentary

Click here for a video of German Paratrooper - Fallschirmjäger (Grüne Teufel) Training in WWII

Click here for a video of German Paratroopers in World War II

Note jumper exit from aircraft

Paratroop Wartime Ops

First Paratroop Army

Paratroop Ground Tactics


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