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Enemy Air-Borne Forces, Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 7, December 2, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the wartime U.S. War Department publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Taking the lead in the development of the parachute, the United States gave the world a superior type. After the war, the Air Service continued the development of the parachute at Wright Field until definite models were established as standard. A few U.S. soldiers were instructed in the parachute and some desultory jumps were made at Kelly Field about 1920-1921. Other countries, notably the U.S.S.R., followed the American lead; and, for a time, foreign armies took the fore in air-borne development. Parachuting, as a tactical method, was first actually tried out by the Russians, who dropped their men from comparatively high altitudes with a clockwork device to open the parachutes. By 1929, newspapers and newsreels reflected the parachute-consciousness of the Soviet Army. The Germans saw the possibilities of parachuting and developed the idea of dropping men at low heights, the parachute pack being attached to the plane so that the parachute opens as the weight of the falling man pulls it out of the pack. The first military parachute troop in Germany was formed in the autumn of 1935. In 1936, 5 years before the Germans were to undertake their spectacular air invasion of Crete, Soviet maneuvers demonstrated that masses of troops could be transported by air and landed by parachute. The Italians staged mass jumps in North Africa in 1937.

In 1933 in American maneuvers in the Panama Canal Zone three batteries of 75-mm pack howitzers were flown on an emergency defensive mission, setting a major precedent for air-landing artillery. Today, as befits its tremendously expanded role as a builder of airplanes and gliders, the United States has an Air-Borne Command and is intensively training all types of air-borne troops.

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