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Airborne Operations

DAYTON, Ohio -- Airborne Operations exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Airborne Operations exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airborne Operations was one of the tactical innovations introduced during World War II, although the use of parachute troops had been considered during World War I. In the 1930s, most of the world's major armies were experimenting with the idea of airborne operations as a rapid means of delivering assault troops by parachute or glider. Germany first used paratroopers in combat in campaigns against Denmark and Norway in 1940. The first large-scale U.S. use of airborne troops came in June 1943 during the invasion of Sicily.

American paratroopers were volunteers and underwent strenuous training to earn their extra "jump pay." Glider-borne infantrymen also received special training, but no extra pay until 1944. The AAF's troop carrier units were responsible for the movement of airborne forces and their equipment and between December 1942 and August 1945, the AAF trained more than 4,500 C-47 and C-46 troop carrier crews and some 5,000 glider pilots.

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Curtiss C-46D Commando
Douglas C-47D Skytrain
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Other Resources
USAF Historical Study No. 97: Airborne Operations in WWII (Provided by AFHRA)
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