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Icejon

Russian Paratroop Deployment Tactics

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

[snips]

I believe it's in your book, I really do, but how can that possibly pass a reasonability test?

I agree that it would be nice to have better confirmation than I can find of such an extraordinary thing, but I don't think you can exclude the possibility solely on grounds of physical feasibility.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

Even if a pilot got his plane down to say 80 knots, and even if the altitude somehow was right on the deck 20 meters, and even if the snow was two meter deep, a human being jumping from an airplane in those conditions would just die.

I don't think this is right.

Stunt falls are classified as "low falls" from up to 40ft, and "high falls" from above that. High falls over 100ft have been done, and I believe the record is over 200ft. These falls would be onto airbags, box catchers or water; I expect that a deep snow-drift (and there is no particular need to limit the depth to 2m, I'm sure Finland in winter could furnish much deeper) would provide equivalent cushioning. Unlike the stuntman, who has to be in mufti for filming purposes, the non-para para could wear such protective gear as he liked.

I don't know what aircraft were used for these alleged drops, but a Po-2 has a stalling speed of about 40 mph, and I see no reason why it could not get down to tens of feet for a drop.

40mph and (say) 40 feet into deep snow strikes me as a very bad insurance risk, but nothing like certain death or even injury -- at least until you climb back out of the hole you have drilled in the drift to find a toothpick-wielding Finn waiting for you.

{Edited to add: }

While looking for something else entirely, I've just found another reference to this alleged practice, in S. L. A. Marshall's "The Soldier's Load" (Infantry Journal, 1950; Marine Corps Association, 1980). This says that during the winter of 1941-42, the "reds" dropped sabotage crews behind German lines thus: "They were flown over in old double-wing planes. While the planes glided ten feet or so above the snow the troops were pushed from them without anything to cushion the shock. The greater number were cracked-up and subsequently died of freezing. The survivors carried out the order."

Marshall is famously slapdash with his sources, but on this occasion he identifies his source clearly. It is none other than Joachim Peiper. I suspect from reading James Lucas' account of Peiper's activities on the Russian Front that he was not above adding more than a little colour to his accounts.

All the best,

John.

[ June 10, 2005, 02:34 PM: Message edited by: John D Salt ]

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we think of a 160lb man dropping and its relatively incredulous without a parachute. But what happens when u have a kit, like 60lbs of ammo, provisions, equipment. I fully believe my prof's assertion, but still without a parachute thats really crazy to drop fully equipped. Most of the posts I read talk about this rather early war. Thanks for all the great historical research on this, its really interesting to see how desperate the Soviets were. Either desperate or just really really inventive.

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John,

True enough, I wouldn't call Peiper (or his ghost writer) the world's most authoratative source on Soviet airborne ops.

Still, I have done a bit of Internet digging meself, and I must now admit Soviet accounts of at least one case of Red paratroopers without parachutes exist. Among other results I have come up with the following:

1. A woman by the name of Svetlana Nizovsteva recounted the following story reportedly told her by her grandfather, Petr Federovich Nizovtsev.

"He was a member of a Siberian division which marched past Stalin (during November 7 celebrations) on the Red Square and from there directly into the battle near Moscow.

Battalion by battalion marched the Siberians, in order to stop the attack of the Germans. To the northwest of Khimki (a Moscow suburb) already there were moving menacing German tanks. The commander of the Siberian battalion stopped. Guys, it is necessary, he told his troops, to stop the tanks. Right over there is an airfield, who wants to 'fly'? And the entire battalion made a single step forward. The commander was pleased, and led them to the airplanes.

But then there was an unexpected unpleasantness. There were no parachutes. The commanders looked around. No one wanted to send the Siberians to a certain death - to jump without parachutes onto tanks, and to assault them.

Then the commander said 'Behind us is Moscow, and ahead of us, are panzers.We have to stop them. But without parachutes. Winter can help us. Snow. It might be possible to cushion the fall. There is such a chance. We can't give such an order, but are there volunteers?"

Again the entire battalion took a set forward. The Fritzes ("Gansi" in the Russian text) were shocked in their tanks, when from the snowy sky white ghosts fell on them without parachutes, and immediately opened fire. Practically all the Siberians remained alive in the engagement. Twelve per cent died. Not a single German panzer advanced."

2. Military author Oleg Svatalov in a book on the defense of Moscow, chapter "Mozhaisk airborne assault"

The short version of the lead-up to the incident is that there is a regiment of Siberian infantry drawn up near Moscow, and Georgy Zhukov himself asks for volunteers for a jump without parachutes, because panzers are advancing on Moscow and they need to be stopped.

As in the previous account an entire battalion takes one step forward, at which Zhukov says "Fine fellows! No other army in the world, has soldiers like these!" The soldiers then load board "bombers" and fly off in the direction of the Mozhaisk. Svatalov's text on the actual jump is as follows:

"The German column moved efficiently and deliberately along the snowy road. Suddenly ahead of them appeared low-flying Russian airplanes, so low they appeared to be about to land. At an altitude of three or four meters like hail fell humans. Their landings in the snow made white clouds like earth after the explosion of artillery rounds. The men were wearing white camoflage uniforms, and as soon as they landed the white explosions turned into flaming sources of anti-tank grenades and bursts of automatic weapons fire, sowing panic and death in the German column. The ghosts is white coats charged the tanks with grenade bundles and firing anti-tank rifles. The assault was so violent and unexpected, that the Germans for a long time didn't know what to do. The Russians, fearless in their assault, brought death to the Germans. Anti-tank rifles hammered, grenades detonated, and panzer after panzer exploded."

3. The Soviet defector Viktor Suvorov in his anti-Stalin book "Icebreaker" describes Stalin's willingness to force people to jump from airplanes without parachutes as more proof Stalin was an inhuman monster. He makes no reference to the techniques use in combat.

Speaking of which, I am willing to bet an entire hryvna Glantz in his History of Soviet Airborne makes no reference to the "without parachutes" tale. Maybe some one who has read the book (I may have the title a bit wrong) can enlighten me.

I can add that the standard Soviet troop carrying planes in the early days of the war were the TB-1 and TB-3, which were normally bombers. Both had big wing area and relatively low max speeds (178 and 197 kph respectively) so I suppose a stall speed under 100 kph would have been possible, but less than that no way: we're talking about a two and four-engine bomber, respectively.

At least in near-Moscow case snow was not 2 meters deep: that depth is only possible in the far north, and then rarely. One meter on ground in November outside Moscow is not just abnormal, but just about unheard of. I imagine since the winter was so bad a meter snow cover was possible, but two or more is not credible. Moscow is not Antarctica, it's not even Siberia. People do live there year-round, the place has a pretty hot summer, seasns, etc. l.

Which is not to say the snow near Pechenga/Pentsamo wouldn't be deeper. That said, and I'm getting off the subject, the Gulf Stream tends to keep things relatively warm and to moderate weather: Murmansk for practical purposes is an ice-free port. So I am a bit suspiscious of reports of snow drifts two and three meters deep in that vicinity.

I can also say I have some experience with Soviet propaganda, and the story about Siberians jumping w/o parachutes to stop tanks outside Moscow has all the earmarks. Especially suspicious are the images "one step forward", "white ghost", and "German panzer advance turned back". You can take or leave my opinion, of course.

My guess is the whole thing seems invented. But I wasn't there, and I have to admit that Soviet accounts of the incident do in fact exist.

Personally I am about as ready to believe the Soviets dumped infantry out of airplanes even once, as I am willing to believe accounts that a Siberian infantry battalion so landed put to rout a German armored attack outside Moscow in November 1941.

Maybe somewhere, sometime, once. WW2 was a very big thing. But the idea the Soviets actually dropped infantry w/o parachutes as a matter of practice, never mind in combat, to me is just silly.

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Originally posted by Icejon:

we think of a 160lb man dropping and its relatively incredulous without a parachute. But what happens when u have a kit, like 60lbs of ammo, provisions, equipment. [snips]

If one is flying low enough and slow enough for a free drop to be survivable, then I should have thought that it would have been easy enough to drop the equipment in containers at the same time and not have it scatter very far.

Pure speculation, of course.

All the best,

John.

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

[snips]

True enough, I wouldn't call Peiper (or his ghost writer) the world's most authoratative source on Soviet airborne ops.

I would be tempted to disbelieve him talking about his own ops.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

Still, I have done a bit of Internet digging meself, and I must now admit Soviet accounts of at least one case of Red paratroopers without parachutes exist. Among other results I have come up with the following:

[Following snipped]

Excellent stuff!

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

3. The Soviet defector Viktor Suvorov in his anti-Stalin book "Icebreaker" describes Stalin's willingness to force people to jump from airplanes without parachutes as more proof Stalin was an inhuman monster.

I took a peek at "Icebreaker" because I vaguely thought I might have seen a mention of the technique in it, but missed this.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

I can add that the standard Soviet troop carrying planes in the early days of the war were the TB-1 and TB-3, which were normally bombers. Both had big wing area and relatively low max speeds (178 and 197 kph respectively) so I suppose a stall speed under 100 kph would have been possible, but less than that no way: we're talking about a two and four-engine bomber, respectively.

Leroy Thompson (op cit) gives the stalling speed of the TB-3 as 60 miles an hour, which is as near 100 km/h as makes no difference.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

At least in near-Moscow case snow was not 2 meters deep: that depth is only possible in the far north, and then rarely.

Right. The only mention I had seen before this week (a brief one in an old copy of S&T, also by Leroy Thompson and so not a separate source) referred to the Winter War against Finland. A couple of metres of snow does not seem good enough cushioning. I should have thought that the depth of drifts would depend on wind and microterrain rather than the absolute level of snowfall; but then of course the problem arises of how you tell how deep a drift is from the air.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

My guess is the whole thing seems invented. But I wasn't there, and I have to admit that Soviet accounts of the incident do in fact exist.

I'm sure there are plenty of accounts of German paratroopers dressed as Nuns, but I don't think there are any from the German side.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

Maybe somewhere, sometime, once. WW2 was a very big thing. But the idea the Soviets actually dropped infantry w/o parachutes as a matter of practice, never mind in combat, to me is just silly.

I think the silliness is beyond dispute; the only question remaining is whether people were actually this silly on at least one occasion in practice. The fact that there now seem to be similar stories from both the Winter War and the Defence of Moscow, but still lacking any precise details of date, time and place, does, I think, make it look like a "tale that grew in the telling".

For yet another exotic method of airborne deployment, consider the following, again from Thompson's book, pages 10-11:

"Although in general the Soviet paratrooper jumped with his equipment attached to his person, some provision was made for equipment containers. In the older TB-3, equipment containers were slung under either the fuselage or wings and dropped by parachute. Alternatively, a rather odd trolley system was used in which a group of padded containers was lashed to a wheeled trolley slung beneath the fuselage. Then, making use of the TB-3s incredibly low stalling speed, the pilot would fly just above the ground and release the trolley, which, theoretically, would roll along the ground until it stopped. At this point the previously dropped parachutists would rush to the trolley and and unpack their mortars, DP-28 machine guns, or antitank rifles. An even stranger use of this trolley system was to deliver troops who rode in the same padded containers as the equipment. When the trolley stopped, out they would pop like so many Ivans-in-the-boxes. Obviously, the trolley system was dependent on very flat terrain and little use was made of it for delivering supplies during the war. According to German reports, however, the Soviets did drop troops in containers on at least one occasion. Unfortunately, the Germans were in control of the drop zone, and the Red soldiers were slaughterted as they emerged from their capsules."

Unfortunately, Thompson does not cite any source for these "German reports".

All the best,

John.

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John,

I think that cargo container drop system is classic example of how perfectly reasonable if somewhat obscure facts get distorted and launched into general circulation, because the general public will believe any silliness about the supposedly primitive and inhuman Soviets.

That's not a swipe at you, obviously.

You may be aware of a Czech book that came out in English called The History of Soviet Aircraft from 1918 by Vlaclav Nemecek. English version exists. If not, it's probably the most complete and certainly most compact book on the subject, at least as far as I know, any language.

The military transport aircraft chapter quite clearly explains how the Soviets figured out a loading system very close to the one you describe, including specifically a cargo platforms underneath a TB-1 and a TB-3, with pictures, though it looks more like the cargo pallets are bolted onto the plane's underbelly, rather than on some kind of tricky conveyer system. But in any case the idea was you pull a lever and the cargo lands w/o the plane having to.

It certainly would be easy for German intelligence never mind a popular writer to take a look at a fuzzy picture of Soviet bomber rigged out with that cargo system and conclude "For sure the Reds would use that to land infantry, they're Russians after all, human life doesn't matter to them!"

That's just MY speculation, of course.

Anyway the most amazing airborne thingie of the lot is on page 295: of biplane glider glider towed behind a TB-3, with nortmal glider's tail and wings, but the glider's fuselage built on a T-60 tank!

The operation of this contraption is worth quoting in full, I think:

"Test pilot S N Anokhin took a quick course in tank driving and in the spring of 1942 was able to test the KT (heavy glider/tank rig) with a T-60 tank of 5,800 kg in the air near Moscow. The KT was towed behind a TB-3 like a cargo glider and released before landing. Shortly before landing, the pilot had to start up the engine and set the caterpillar track in operation so this unique aircraft could touch down more easily. Although the first landing was by no means flawless it was evident that once necessary improvements had been made there was a future for the idea."

The book makes clear that from an experimental and technical point of view the Soviets were at least at part and well ahead in some areas of airborne ops by the time the war began. There is the famous 1935 (or so) mass drop of about a regiment of paratroopers at exercises in Kiev, the transports (as Pravda reported) all flown by female pilots.

Not a word anywhere about dropping soldiers in coffins, of course. My guess is that when you look at the Soviets not from the inside, but from the point of view of German intelligence, memoires, and popular history, some real whoppers creep into the mix, infantry in air-dropped coffins among them.

From what I can tell the Soviets were very pragmatic in everything they did - and barring the outrageous exception dropping infantry w/o parachutes, or inside virtual coffins, has got to be the realm of fiction and not Soviet military practice.

Man, a glider-dropped T-60. I want one of those in CM2.

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

[snips]

I think that cargo container drop system is classic example of how perfectly reasonable if somewhat obscure facts get distorted and launched into general circulation, because the general public will believe any silliness about the supposedly primitive and inhuman Soviets.

I suspect that this is a topic of sufficient obscurity for most of the general public never to have heard of it. I'm not sure it necessarily indicates any great level of primitive inhumanity in the Soviets, either, given that film stuntmen drop from greater heights (presumably because they are being oppressed by the wicked Pentagon-Wall Street-Hollywood military-industrial-entertainment complex).

Anyhow, Americans are mad enough to practice helocasting -- admittedly only 10 ft/10 kts into water, but I bet you could go higher and faster if you could keep the Health & Safety people off your back.

I haven't heard any SF types suggest troop insertion by LAPES yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time...

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

From what I can tell the Soviets were very pragmatic in everything they did - and barring the outrageous exception dropping infantry w/o parachutes, or inside virtual coffins, has got to be the realm of fiction and not Soviet military practice.

Pragmatically, it might offer a means of accurate and fairly stealthy insertion otherwise denied by the generous altitude requirements of early Soviet parachute rigs.

Don't forget, the whole business of parachuting was in its infancy then, and what passes for "common sense" now might not have been so obvious then. For that matter, the idea of throwing yourself out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft and descending under a silk canopy might not have seemed to pass the "common sense" test for most people in the 1920s and 30s.

Common sense would suggest that nobody ever piloted a V-1, and nobody ever landed a jet aircraft without an undercarriage on a giant rubber sheet. But they did.

Originally posted by Bigduke6:

Man, a glider-dropped T-60. I want one of those in CM2.

Ah, yes, the famous KT. We must have them. Whenever CM returns to the Russian front, I hope we will also get aerosans, 37mm spade-mortars, mine dogs, sub-surface bridges, wheeled prefab pillboxes, fixed flamethrowers, the LMG off-route anti-tank mine and mule-packed Katyushas.

{Edited to add the following}

Another reference, which again frustratingly does not give accurate reference to its own sources:

Robert Jackson's "The Red Falcons" (Tandem, London, 1970) says on page 77 that, during the Finnish War,

"Several new airdrop techniques were carried out experimentally during the campaign, including the dropping of airborne troops without parachutes. The men jumped from low-flying TB-3s, relying on deep snowdrifts to break their fall. Surprisingly, the casualty figures incurred during these dramatic epxeriments were quite low."

All the best,

John.

[ June 11, 2005, 11:59 AM: Message edited by: John D Salt ]

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40 ft drop from a plane moving 60 mph means a landing at 70 mph. That's the equivalent of a drop from 165 feet. Let's say they drop over somewhere with 3 feet of snow, so there are 6 foot drifts. Half the men will miss the 6 foot drifts, and land in under a foot of snow. Ouch. You'd better hope all the snow was recent, because if the snow had accumulated over a month or so, it'd have been compressed, partially melted, refrozed, etc, and it's not going to be very fluffy near the bottom. Ouch.

So, let's say you took 100 people, and had them jump off a 16 story building, half hitting 6 foot snow drifts hopefully without ice, half landing in 1 foot of snow. You have a grand to bet on how many people are fit for combat afterwards (say, have two total limbs functional without any major internal injuries). How are you going to distribute your money?

Yes, the Russians could have done it, and I expect they did experiment with it once or twice, but I imagine the drop itself would amount to 'round 70% casualties. Anything below 30% casualties is almost certainly propoganda.

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Who on this forum will jump from 200 feet,newermind speed..If so, send us a photo(if you can),please... ;)

[ June 11, 2005, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: Ales Dvorak ]

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Gulag prisoners or penal troops might not have had much of a choice in testing out the idea

Thankfully Barnes Wallace thought of bouncing bombs instead of flying frogmen...

Originally posted by Ales Dvorak:

Who on this forum will jup from 200 feet,newrmind speed..If so, send us a photo(if you can),please... ;)

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Originally posted by Wicky:

Gulag prisoners or penal troops might not have had much of a choice in testing out the idea

Thankfully Barnes Wallace thought of bouncing bombs instead of flying frogmen...

Maybe, but these other guys were more famous for this type of stuff :

"Unethical medical experimentation carried out during the Third Reich may be divided into three categories. The first category consists of experiments aimed at facilitating the survival of Axis military personnel. In Dachau, physicians from the German air force and from the German Experimental Institution for Aviation conducted high-altitude experiments, using a low-pressure chamber, to determine the maximum altitude from which crews of damaged aircraft could parachute to safety. Scientists there carried out so-called freezing experiments using prisoners to find an effective treatment for hypothermia. They also used prisoners to test various methods of making seawater potable."

from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005635

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Originally posted by Talk'scheap:

Scientists there carried out so-called freezing experiments using prisoners to find an effective treatment for hypothermia.

And they use opposite sex to warm them up...really...

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Originally posted by Adam_L:

How do you jump out of a plane, even at low altitude, and not get hurt? I'm curious how it is done, even in modernity.

Well, when I went through the training, it went something like this in an oversimplified, blurred-by-forty-years-of-doing-other-things way:

You have a main parachute on your back and a reserve 'chute strapped to your front. The main opens when a fifteen-foot line that is hooked to a wire rope inside the aircraft yanks a "pilot" 'chute out of the bag that the main is packed into. You exit the aircraft from a ramp that is opened and lowered to just below horizontal at the rear of the aircraft. You walk to the end of the ramp and wait until the jump-master tells you to exit at which time you take a few steps and are outside the plane, falling down. You have one hand (right in most cases) wrapped around a D-ring that is a fall-back way to open the main and the other hand on the D-ring that will open the reserve chute if the main fails.

"Combat" level drops - that is to say, ones at the standard altitude developed from WW2 and Korean War experiences - is about 600 feet and the airspeed depends in part on what the stall speed is for the aircraft you're in. Usually, propellor aircraft are best as the drop speed is lower. Practice and training drops are from 1,500 to 1,000 feet. So-called, "HALO" which I think stands for "High altitude low opening" jumps are from higher altitudes and are for specialized highly trained jumpers. Standard paratroop training in the U.S. Army is really aimed at producing World War 2 massed division-sized (or larger) drops, but is equally capable of training troops for battalion and or brigade sized drops.

You are trained to open your reserve if the main doesn't open, and if the reserve fails, to report to the Chief Rigger at the drop zone and complain immediately after landing. Be sure to bring both of your failed 'chutes with you, so he can determine the cause of failure.

As far as Soviet parachute troops regularly or even sometimes jumping without chutes, that is, in my professional military NCO opinion, plain old bull. Once, a few troops, in a desparate attempt to do something then and there viewed as utterly essential to prevent - fill in the blank with their version of the end of civilization as they knew it - maybe; as a program, policy or regular practice? Bull. I don't care what educated source you cite. Produce one - just one - Soviet paratrooper sergeant who says that he and his boys did it and I eat crow. But I doubt that you can find one, even if any are still alive. Nobody's sergeants do that to their troops on a regular basis. Not even Stalin's.

[ June 11, 2005, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: Ike ]

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Originally posted by Talk'scheap:

Oh yeah let's make light of the holocaust! Haha, dumbass.

Sorry, this is not a joke...oh BTW nobody is talking about holocaust...relax..

[ June 11, 2005, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: Ales Dvorak ]

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According to my father, an eyewitness… (2nd battalion)

The British parachute regiment was training some Gurkhas to jump.

Had them in a hall, explained the idea of jumping out of a ‘plane at 1000 feet. “Any questions?”

“Yes sir. You mean, we jump out of the airplane one thousand feet in the air?”

That’s correct.

“Won’t we get hurt?”

No, no. I’ve done it myself, a hundred times.

(They looked at him with new respect)

Some consternation - but they agreed, if the English could do it, so could they.

It was only later, that they understood what a parachute was.

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Gents,

There seems to be a melding of ideas here, resulting in erroneous "information" being passed on.

Soviet EXPERIMENTS in dropping without parachutes involved the following: sledges or other protective enclosures designed to various capacities; very low speed - at aircraft approach speeds ~100 kts or less; very low altitudes ~ 10 feet or less, i.e., landing gear just above touchdown.

The physics involved were simple. Reduce the drop height and you can do without a parachute. The goal would be to reduce unit dispersion on landing.

The problems were the requirement for very specific landing zone criteria (long enough approaches and flat enough terrain to simulate a landing). Plus, the aircraft are MUCH more vulnerable in that situation.

The Soviet operational thought and equipment experimentation were VERY advanced for the time (late '30's). They were not stupid or wasteful. No one was thinking of dropping soldiers from altitude without parachutes.

The U.S. has continued that early Soviet technique, and termed it "LAPES": Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System. The most common footage shows C-130's about 5' or less over a runway, at 130 knots, cargo doors open, making a run. The large cargo gets extracted by its chute and skids along the smooth ground, RIGHT where it's needed. Experiments were done with sledges for people, but abandoned due to safety concerns.

Regards,

Ken

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I have to agree with JasonC on this one. The idea is complete insanity. Falling out of an airplane, at almost any height, is suicidal or, at the very least, a guaranteed lengthy stay in a hospital.

I once saw a young lady panic and pop her reserve chute at about a hundred feet. She claimed she was heading for power lines (although there were none in the area) and tried to escape electrocution by dropping into a swamp. Before anyone could tell her different she released her main chute and dropped straight into a bog. She spent something like two years in the hospital and they still had to wheel her out.

A buddy of mine stood up in the back of a jeep going about 90 km/h and released his pilot chute. He survived, thank god, but his back is still prone to crippling pain.

One of our instructors had made over 2000 safe jumps when his reserve, for some reason, deployed at around 500 feet and got tangled with his main. He hit the ground probably about twice as hard as he would have in a normal military jump, broke both his ankles, and screwed up one of his knees and his back for life.

I once misjudged my height and "flaired" too early. I actually rose up into the air and then crashed moving more laterally than vertically. Let me tell you, I was in no shape for anything aftwerwards and I was using a sport chute about twice the size of a military chute. Any faster and I would have been seriously injured.

I really think, with all due respect, that the idea is ludicrous to the point of insanity. Even at the "low" stalling speeds quoted above, on flat soft ground, your men would be screwed.

Cheers

Paul

[ June 12, 2005, 01:45 PM: Message edited by: jacobs_ladder2 ]

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100knots = 180km/h, or about 110mph. Experiment at your own risk - drive your car at that speed down the highway after heavy rainshowers. Jump out onto the soggy embankment.

Once they have released you from hospital, come and tell us about it. Also make sure to leave your login information in your will, and stipulate for your heirs to let us know before they get any of the inheritance.

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Wow.

I'm not sure what to say. It seems some of you are being deliberately obtuse. That, at least, would be the most charitable description to use.

Let me re-emphasize a key detail: in ALL experiments regarding LOW altitude drops with no parachute, there was some sort of protective sled, roll cage, sledge, or other device used.

Additionally, no one, to my knowledge, experimented from anywhere higher than 20'. (Even that required a great deal of energy absorbing material.)

Finally, a small point of physics: the starting velocity, in the vertical direction, would have a significant, um, impact on the final velocity at landing. If you jump from 50' you accelerate at 32 feet/sec/sec. If you fall at a constant velocity to 50', then free fall, you will land faster than someone who stepped off a stable platform.

(The USAF T-38 ejection seat was capable of survivable ejections from the ground at 100 knots - yeah, you'd be messed up, but you'd live. Yet, that same seat would be unable to save you if you ejected from 1,500 feet, 180 knots, 45 degree bank in a decent to landing. That's the impact of starting velocity.)

Anyone who says that any force experimented with dropping from airplanes with no protective devices is wrong. There _were_ experiments with NO parachutes.

I'll stop contributing to this thread.

Regards,

Ken

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Originally posted by c3k:

Wow.

I'm not sure what to say. It seems some of you are being deliberately obtuse. That, at least, would be the most charitable description to use.

I'll stop contributing to this thread.

Regards,

Ken

No need to get upset. I'm sure experiments were done and that the physics you describe are workable. In fact, I am sure that if the proper equipment were designed, drops could be accomplished given decent ground. Who knows? Not I. Maybe someday we will see.

I was disagreeing with others in this thread who were trying to make the argument that a human being could survive a fall, unassisted, if the plane were slow or low enough.

The idea of using sleds or something similar does seem a bit far-fetched and inefficient, but could have been the subject of experimentation. Why not? People have tried far crazier ideas and sometimes they have worked.

Cheers

Paul

p.s. The snow idea was the best one. I am still laughing at the image of dozens of men splashing into snow and stopping WWII era tanks advancing through the same deep powder.

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Originally posted by jacobs_ladder2:

[snips]

I was disagreeing with others in this thread who were trying to make the argument that a human being could survive a fall, unassisted, if the plane were slow or low enough.

Well, clearly, if the 'plane is low and slow enough, the fall is eminently survivable. Let's say 10 feet and 10 knots, that's what's used for helocasting, and you can read the relevant FM at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/7-93/ch62.htm

Cliff divers regularly jump into water from heights that produce impact speeds of 60 mph; see http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,6903,532990,00.html

This isn't a desperate do-or-die combat improvisation, this is what geeks do for fun. They are jumping into water. Water is incompressible. Snow, you know, snow, that white fluffy stuff you see on Xmas cards, is compressible. Every example I have quoted from written sources stresses that the free drop is into thick snow.

There are three examples I know of people who have fallen free from altitude and survived: Chisov (22,000 ft), Magee (20,000 ft) and Alkemade (18,000 ft). Chisov fell into snow; Alkemade into snow-covered trees; and Magee had his fall broken by glass(!). See http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/ffresearch.html for details of these, and people who have survived long falls in the wreckage of aircraft (Vulovic from 33,000 ft). In these cases, obviously, terminal velocity has been reached, 110-120 mph. According to the site just mentioned, a 140lb person will reach terminal velocity in an 1800 ft fall, so it doesn't much matter if you go any higher, you won't go any faster. As there are two well-attested cases of people surviving falls at terminal velocity into thick snow, the lethality of a 110mph impact must be a little less than 100%. Presumably the lethality of falling at 10mph is a gnat's tadger more than 0%. Now, one can speculate as to what shape the curve joining these two points over the intermediate range of impact speeds is -- I would guess that lethality would be proportional to the square of impact speed -- but to assert that it is all instant death is just silly.

Nobody has ever claimed that free drops were done as a regular thing, so I see no need to address that question. I fully accept the arguments along the lines of "This is barking mad", "You wouldn't get me up in one of those things" and "After you, Claude", but none of these make it a physical impossibility, and in any case they apply equally to cliff-diving (bad craziness) and stunt high falls (utter insanity).

All the best,

John.

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