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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.]


It has been mentioned above that no long training period is necessary to prepare a normal German division for use in an air-infantry operation. The preparation is more a problem of organization than one of training. The German 22d Infantry Regiment was reorganized as an Air-Borne Infantry Division in 1940, and, as such, it took part in the campaign in Holland. It should be noted that this division is particularly strong in staff organization, which, of course, is desirable for supervision and to compensate for probable loss among the staff during transport by air and during early ground action. The approximate power of this division was estimated in late 1940 as follows:

Officers   241
Noncommissioned officers   1,105
Enlisted men   5,334
Mountain cannon, 75-mm   24
Antitank cannon, 37-mm   30
Heavy machine guns   60
Light machine guns   125
Antiaircraft guns, 20-mm   16
Light infantry cannon   3
Light grenade throwers   54
Heavy grenade throwers   36
Antitank rifles (Panzerbüchsen)   112
Machine pistols   375
Rifles    4,371

Any discrepancy between heavy machine guns and antitank weapons shown in the above tabulation and those listed in an organization chart may be due to extra weapons carried in reserve. On the way to combat, troops of this division had in their packs 2 days' rations in addition to the "iron" ration. No field kitchens were carried. It was intended to use the kitchens in hotels and inns, and, after the first 3 days, to requisition food and all vehicles from the civil population, if necessary.

a. Operational Experience in Holland

A loading unit (Ladeeinheit) is a load of men and equipment or both together, sufficient for one Ju-52. In the operation at The Hague, the total number of loading units was not less than 866, and the number of men in the "division" transported has been calculated as 7,400. This works out at between 8 and 9 men (with proportional share of divisional equipment) per Ju-52. Of the planes transporting the divisional staff, none carried more than 9 men. Infantry traveled at 12 or even 14 men per plane; engineers at about 10 per plane; motorcycle units, with solo machines, at 6 or 7 per plane. A light infantry gun probably was accompanied by about 6 men in the same plane, while probably 2 more planes would carry the ammunition and additional personnel.

b. Operational Experience in the Conquest of Crete

For the attack on Crete, the Germans are thought to have carried fewer men and more equipment per Ju-52. The ordinary infantry battalion may have traveled at only about 10 men, with equipment, per Ju-52. The number of aircraft which the Germans used in the operation is conservatively estimated at nearly 800 bombers and fighters, 500 transport planes, and 75 gliders. In any case it is not thought that more than 650 Ju-52's were employed. To get something like 35,000 men to Crete in a period of 10 days, it is estimated that each Ju-52 must have made on the average about 6 sorties.

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