German parachute troops use at least three types of parachutes: marked RZ1, RZ16, and 36DS28. The RZ16, which was invented and first constructed at Cologne, has been in service since the beginning of 1941, and, because it opens without shock, is fast becoming the preferred type.
Parachute equipment is divided into four main parts: the parachute proper (or canopy and rigging lines), the containing bag and pack, the harness, and the accessories.
The parachute itself consists of a silken (or substitute material) canopy made up of a certain number of panels, each panel cut in the shape of a thin isosceles triangle with the apex removed. (See fig. 9.) Each of the three types has 28 panels. Each panel has 4 gores (tapered sections), cut from a single piece of material in such manner that warp and weft are both at an angle of 45 degrees to the long axis of the panel. Panels are numbered serially in the lower corner, number 1 carrying in addition the special markings of the parachute. These are the manufacturer's stamp or trademark, which includes type, mark number, weight, date of manufacture, and identification number; the manufacturer's inspection mark, giving the date of the last factory inspection; and the Air Ministry stamp which gives the date of the Air Ministry inspection.
In a German parachute with 28 panels there are 14 rigging lines which pass through the top vent. The lines are continued down through the seams on opposite sides of the canopy and then run as free lines to the lift webs. Each line is 21 meters (69 feet) long, so that with a canopy 62 square meters (648 square feet) in area, there are some 5 to 6 meters (16 to 20 feet) of free rigging line on each side, between the periphery of the canopy and the lift webs.
When packed, the canopy and rigging lines fold inside the bag, which is fastened by means of a ring to the static line. The bag is then contained within the pack, which consists of a base (next to the man's back) and four flaps which close over the bag. A further bag, in which the whole parachute is kept during shipment, is included among the accessories, and is removed when the person enters the plane.
The harness is made of webbing and consists of a belt with a large buckle in front, two braces, two thigh straps, and a strap across the top of the chest. It is connected to the rigging lines by hemp lift webs. Each web is so made that its lower end forms an eye which fits into the appropriate "D" ring of the harness, where it is secured by a screw, the free upper ends being joined to form two eyes. To each of the four eyes so formed, seven rigging-line ends are attached.
The parachutes are automatically opened by a static cord, 6 meters (20 feet) long, fastened to the inside of the plane. which pulls the bag away from the pack, releasing the canopy. The cord then becomes detached, taking the bag with it. After a drop of some 80 feet the parachute has become completely operative and the subsequent falling speed of a man and parachute is about 16 feet per second. The shock felt by the parachutist when he reaches the ground is comparable to that transmitted by a jump without parachute of from 16 to 18 feet.
|Figure 9. German parachute construction|