Russian Airborne....

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by blonde_guy, Feb 3, 2009.

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  1. I heard a rumour that early Soviet paras (for the Finland War etc) involved not actual paras, but a low flying plane over a deep snow drift and guys jumping out without a parachute into the deep drift.....any truth in this or is it utter bollovks as I fear?
  2. I heared that Gurhkas were tougher, they jumped out of planes with no parachute, in to dense jungle.

    Tis true!

  3. Read the came thing myself in a number of books, I think it was seen by a German staff officer pre war ww2 when both sides were friendly.
  4. What I read was of low flying USSR planes (pre WW2 too) with chaps jumping out parachute-less into the snow drifts!!!!!!

  5. Exactley what I read too.
  6. The Soviet Airborne Experience (LTC David Glantz)

    Fill 'yer boots.
  7. The first army to field a para unit was the Italians, I kid you not
  8. I've heard the story, but I think I've also read an article debunking it as a myth. The soviets did of course use a bizarre parachuting technique early on - climbing along the wing of the aircraft and then slithering off over the flaps. Film footage of this may have fuelled the stories.

    Grounds for debunking it are that its difficult to conceive of any snow conditions that would allow the deceleration without injury of a human body in free-fall, or even in a zero-altitude jump. For it to have any chance of success, you'd need soft powder snow about thirty? feet deep. Snow on DZ-suitable plateaux tends to compact once it gets to a certain depth, and where deep powder snow exists - eg in the lee of steep mountain slopes - it is interspersed with hazards such as big rocks.

    I've lived & travelled in Russia; even in the deepest winter snow cover there is nothing you could survive being free-falled into. Even a low jump at -say - 100 knot airspeed would leave you with multiple fractures or worse.
  9. The main reason I have always assumed it was a myth is that there seems no obvious reason why the Soviets should have tried it. In the thirties they had more paratroopers than the rest of the world put together. When Barbarossa hit, they had something like four or five airborne corps (which then got chewed up in conventional combat). OK, each one would only count as a weak division by western standards, and quite a few elements had not received planned jump-training but even so, the one thing they did not apparently lack was a means of delivery. Plenty of old TB-3s and no reason to think a massive lack of parachutes. What screwed Sov airborne ops seems to have been poor/unrealistic planning, dodgy doctrine, massive dispersal in drops, and an inability of the ground forces to break through in time. All of which could happen on occasion even in the west... And it can't all be blamed on Tukhachevsky getting topped.
  10. The reason was that the paranoid Stalin had specifically ordered his coomanders NOT to prepare for offensive ops of any kind. In any event all the Sov paras at that stage of the war would have added to was the KIA, MIA and prisoner lists of the Sovs.
  11. Absolutely. And they were needed as infantry - at least one airborne corps was rebadged as Guards Rifle for its performance during the dark days of 41-42. And sadly adding to the casualty lists was all that was achieved usually even when they were used later in the war to support Sov offensive ops. My point was merely that they still had enough of a capability not to have to resort to jumping sans parachute.
  12. Two Soviet parachute companies jumped into the snow outside Kharkov in 1943 from a height of around five metres. The projected casualties were deemed acceptable given the mission in question, whose details I can't recall offhand. But it really did happen. Regarding the lack of parachutes, this was down to simple supply problems. Airborne units in the field do not tend to cart parachutes around with them. They need what little transport resources they have to move munitions and rations around! Several German airborne ops were called off during WW2 because of the difficulty of getting sufficient parachutes and related kit to the right place at the right time, the combined SS-Fallschirmjäger/Brandenburg jump of Aaland and the SS-FJ jump on Budapest in 1944 being two such cases. In the latter case, it was fortunate for the SS paras because Skorzeny, who was in charge of the operation, proposed that they jump over the citadel, which would have resulted in guys landing on roofs and spiked railings.


  13. Actually it was the Greeks. The first OC was Colonel Con Descending.
  14. "Tree Jumpers" springs to mind!