There were considerable differences in parachutes and planes; I will try and explain the difference as I saw (and felt) them.
The speed of the plane was not as critical With the T-10 parachute because you were under the prop blast when your chute opened, with the older T-7 model your chute opened in the prop blast, and if you have heard the term "hitting the blast", well with the old T-7 you really hit the blast !
The T-10 was packed in a sleeve, which allowed you to fall below the prop blast before your chute opened. The older T-7 parachute's canopy was not in a bag , when you left the plane and reached the end of your static line the canopy was right in the blast and you felt it's full force.
Riser burns across your shoulders, especially if you were jumping with a fifty pound GP bag, were common. When your chute opened , it looked as if someone grabbed a rag doll and snapped it.
My favorite Plane was the old C-46. It had wide doors and the pilots could slow them down to around 85 knots. The C-47 was essentially the same as the C-46. It just didn't have very big doors. You couldn't stand up in them.
The C-82 (boxcar) was our mainstay. It was a very good plane, except, it was like a bumble bee it was not supposed to fly ; but it didn't know the difference; and flew anyway.
The pilots could slow the C82 down to around 100 to 110 knots still not to bad for the old T-7. The C82 had very wide doors , in fact , the jump master had to watch the men very closely as they exited the aircraft. They would be in such a hurry, they would go out two at a time; causing injuries and an occasionally fatality.
Back then on mass jumps it was not uncommon to have one or two fatalities and lots of injuries, still the C82 was a very good plane.
Then came the C-119 a very good plane. It was just ahead of the T-10 and the pilots could only slow them down to around 135 knots. With the old T-7 parachute this made a lot of difference. The opening shock was magnified greatly! I can remember a lot of times when jumping a GP bag I would see stars!
That was the difference in planes, now they jump prop jets with no ill effects. I don't know what kind of chutes they use now, but the last time I was at Bragg , about two years ago they still opened like the T-10.
When we jump at night, the pilots would run the engines rich on fuel. Sitting in the plane waiting to jump you could see a long streak of fire going down both sides of the plane . It looked kind of eerie and made you wonder if you were going to get in it, but we never did.
That was the old airborne now with all the modern equipment they have, it must really be a pleasure to be in the AIRBORNE !
A Curtise Commando C-46. It carried 30 troopers.
Picture courtesy of R. A. Lucas
The Curtiss C-46 Commando served a similar
role as it's contemporary
the Douglas C-47 Skytrain , but was not quite as famous or as
The C-47 Skytrain was the most commonly
used transport in the Allied Air Forces and has operated in every
theater of war. It was also known under different names (Skytrain/Skytrooper/Dakota/"Gooney Bird")
Conceived in mid World War II for heavy-lift
and troop-carrying, the early version C-82 was introduced too
late to see active service. The improved C-119 made its first
flight in November, 1947. Its cargo space was the same as a railroad
boxcar, 2,870 cubic feet, so, naturally,
it was called the Flying Boxcar.
The Fairchild C-123 Provider was a versatile
aircraft able to be converted in a short time to a troop transport
carrying 61 Troopers, a medevac transport with 50 litters, or
to a freighter carrying 15,000 lbs. of cargo.
Or as my British Friends would say:
Parachuting Aircraft Of Her Britannic Majesty's Royal Air Force
in the 50's & 60's
we have some excellent pictures of British Jump Planes of the 50's - 60's era.
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