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Posted: 11/12/2007 7:01:13 PM EDT
This is cute. The US Army's first TO&E for a "Air-Borne" (note spelling) Infantry Battalion adopted 15 Sept, 1941. You know in a lot of ways this first attempt is actually BETTER than the organizations we actually used in battle in WWII!









Healthy sized rifle platoons, a heavy weapons company, and really decent firepower (if the 37mm hadn't been obsolete as a AT gun that is). Heck its even better than the line US infantry battalion. Two MGs per plt instead of two per COMPANY.

And the motor company is a neat idea. The reason they used Air-Borne instead of calling it a Parachute battalion is that the Motor Company was glider landed. Actually the material was glider landed, the men parachuted.

Glider Infantry was really a mistake. Givin the limitations of the available aircraft, gliders had to be used to land heavy weapons and light vehicles. Trying to land infantrymen as well was a missuse of the available load carrying capability. Gliders should have been used only to land vheicles and guns, like here. Then the airborne troops could have had the same weapons as a regular line unit. Or had nice little things like a Airmobile cavalry troop with Jeeps for everyone and extra LMGs and bazookas that could act as a fire brigade for the rest of the battalion.
Link Posted: 11/13/2007 9:38:19 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/13/2007 9:41:37 AM EDT by SD307]
glider infantry was an ineffective solution to a very real problem

The biggest problem with an Airborne attack is in the first 2 hours, The troops have to be able to assemble it goes like this...

step 1: SGP- small groups of paratroopers

step 2: NCO or Officer join the group and get them moving to an assemablly point

step 3: You now have a mess, several companies, different platoons, and grunts, sappers, antitank, medics, and commo guys, all together with misc. equipment each brought with them.

Thats the first 2-12 hours of a combat jump depending on how scattered the drop was...from there you assembal into what you see above it may take a full 24 hours to account for everyone in a combat situation, as for equipment who knows???

Glider Infantry was an attempt to aviod this and put organized immediate force on the objective with little to no warning:

look at where glider infantry was used, cross roads, bridges, ect...they were not paratroopers think of them as the equal to todays air assualt from choppers.

The difference is you are not trying to put an entire division on the ground behind enemy lines, just a company or two to take a hardened objective quickly and intacted.

BTW that is almost exactly how a modern regiment in the 82nd looks today the motor company is now called Delta's and there is a platoon of MP's and Engineers in each regiment
Link Posted: 11/26/2007 2:55:55 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SD307:
glider infantry was an ineffective solution to a very real problem

The biggest problem with an Airborne attack is in the first 2 hours, The troops have to be able to assemble it goes like this...

step 1: SGP- small groups of paratroopers

step 2: NCO or Officer join the group and get them moving to an assemablly point

step 3: You now have a mess, several companies, different platoons, and grunts, sappers, antitank, medics, and commo guys, all together with misc. equipment each brought with them.

Thats the first 2-12 hours of a combat jump depending on how scattered the drop was...from there you assembal into what you see above it may take a full 24 hours to account for everyone in a combat situation, as for equipment who knows???

Glider Infantry was an attempt to aviod this and put organized immediate force on the objective with little to no warning:

look at where glider infantry was used, cross roads, bridges, ect...they were not paratroopers think of them as the equal to todays air assualt from choppers.

The difference is you are not trying to put an entire division on the ground behind enemy lines, just a company or two to take a hardened objective quickly and intacted.

BTW that is almost exactly how a modern regiment in the 82nd looks today the motor company is now called Delta's and there is a platoon of MP's and Engineers in each regiment


Be careful about overstating the scattering issue. Yes it was a big problem in the ETO with the exception of Market Garden. But the 11th Airborne Division did not have such issues in their jumps, possibly because of their insistance on making very low altitide (500ft) jumps. And their Division commander took the inititive and retrained his glider regiments as paratroopers, to make better use of available equipment, so only the equipment glider landed- a revision to the pre-war way of doing things like these battalions practiced.
Link Posted: 11/27/2007 6:11:50 PM EDT
Since WWII parachute units didn't have helicopters assigned to them, the gliders did fill a role. As previously mentioned, they could potentially put a more concentrated group of soldiers on the ground. The British attack on the Pegasus bridge near Normandy has got to rank as the best use of the combat glider. About one company of Brits attacked and held the most critical bridge approach to the beach-head.
In Burma, the U.S. forces could reinforce the ground troops from the air. The ground pounders(legs?) had succesfully infiltrated far behind Japanese lines. Additional troops and supplies of bulky equipment were landed by glider. The reinforcements required no airborne training, only the guts to ride a canvas covered aircraft into the ground. There was even a way to have a C-47 'pick-up' a glider from the ground and fly it home.
If you really want to see a fantasy T.O. that was actually fielded, look up the Herman Goering Parachute Panzer Division. It had a parachute panzer regiment, and two parachute panzer grenadier battalions. Of course, it never would have or could have deployed by parachute.
And just when you were thinking about those wacky Germans, the U.S. Army fielded a Airborne Mechanized Infantry Battalion(complete with air-droppable M-59 armored personel carriers) in the early 1960's! Refueling would have been a bitch!
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 6:36:10 AM EDT
I agree gliders were good for concentrating force at a point for a coup de main. But the problem is that there were only ever so many gliders at one time. If you didn't have a point target like that, it would have been more efficient to use the gliders for guns and vehicles.

With regards to the airborne mech battalion, I doubt that the M59's used too much more gas that the battalion of M551's the 82nd had untill 1993!

Refueling could be easier than you think. During Vietnam we ran a battalion sized mechanized task force for forty days supplied entirely by helicopter, during Operation Remagen www.army.mil/cmh/books/Vietnam/tactical/chapter5.htm
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 6:51:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/10/2007 6:34:04 PM EDT by CAV637]
Airborne resupply of airborne forces has had a checkered history. It didn't work for the French at Dien Bien Phu: it didn't work for the Germans at Stalingrad. Gliders and helicopters worked for the U.S. because we had air-superiority(likewise the 11th Airborne in the Pacific after 1942). That means it will probably work for us in Iraq and Afganistan. God forbid that some disaster befall us and we lose air-superiority.
The Soviet Army actually planned to deploy massive amounts of BMD armored infantry fighting vehicles with their Airborne divisions. Refueling an Airborne Mechanized Division would have probably challenged the Red Armies logistics. If they had deployed against NATO, western airforces would have made resupply difficult. Come to think of it, resupply was a problem for the BMDs in Afganistan in the early '80s. But that had other factors in play.
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