History The more you know

When and how was military parachuting born?

Parachuting has had a different development in the various countries of the world. In the United States, it was born from the need to save pilots and crews, as well as from the desire to put on a show in air shows, since the 1920s. But it was in the Soviet Union that, in the 1930s, military parachuting got a big boost, drawing recruits from a vast number of junior courses. There were no special transport aircraft, but we launched from bombers adapted for the purpose. The paratroopers came out of different openings, often also sliding on the wing.

Command opening parachutes allowed similar stunts, but there were still numerous accidents. The Soviet army could boast the largest number of paratroopers, but it wasn’t clear on how to use them. The Germans began developing the sector in 1937, both with the Army and with the Luftwaffe, which eventually appropriated the specialty. Departments of paratroopers were also present in France and the United Kingdom. After the German successes in Norway, Holland and Belgium, various countries engaged in the development of the sector, such as Yugoslavia and Japan.

The biggest problem was having aircraft suitable for aviation and often had to be satisfied with bombers adapted to the best. The Germans used the slow but reliable Junkers Ju.52, capable of carrying up to 19 paratroopers. The Italians, after the Ca.133 and the SM.81, made use of the excellent SM.82. The British initially jumped from twin-engine Wintley bombers (from a ventral hatch), before they could count on an exceptional aircraft like the US-built C-47 Dakota.

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