The year that Hitler invaded Poland, the Italians were reported to have
had 2 battalions of trained parachutists in Libya with a total strength
of 504 men. In April 1940 a battalion of 280 native parachutists was
said to be stationed at Castel Benito; it operated in 8-man sections led by a
noncommissioned or a commissioned officer, and each section was transported
in modified S-81 aircraft. However, up to the spring of 1941 the Italians
were still counting their parachutists in terms of hundreds instead of thousands.