How effective do you think airborne forces were in the war?

Were airborne forces effective?

  • Very effective

    Votes: 3 17.6%
  • Effective

    Votes: 9 52.9%
  • Comparitively effective

    Votes: 5 29.4%
  • Not at all effective

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

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Jul 19, 2006
Just wondering how effective people think airborne forces were in the war.

I happen to feel that they were to some degree a waste of manpower and resources. This is not to take way from there achievements. I just think that much of what was doen by them could have been achieved in another way.

Looking at British airborne forces, especially in the 44 - 45 campaign, I feel they were a drain on much needed manpower. You have to remember that the airborne units had a higher proportion of NCO's and took longer to train and then you have the support units both from the army and the RAF. For what they achieved I personally do not think it was worth all the expenditure.

Also the Soviets, who had pioneered airborne force, got on well without them to a large degree. Despite the fact that they had a large amount of airborne troops they were mostly used in an elite infantry role.


I feel that in some cases they were very effective and other times they were not so effective. Depends on what they were used for.

In the beginning of the war the Germans used airborne troops with great success in the invasion of Norway and Denmark in Operation Weserübung.
Airborne troops from the Brandenburg Regiment were succesfully dropped into France to secure bridges.

In Belgium a small group of German Airborne troops landed on top of the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael on the morning of May 10, 1940 and it was captured in a matter of hours. This attack was led by only NCOs and was a complete success with minimal casualties to the German side.

Perhaps the German airborne forces greatest victory was Crete. This also was there worst time for losses as well.

Casulties were so high, that Hitler forbade there use on large scale operations.

The British and the US used airborne effective only small commando raids throughout the war.

With heavy casualties the US 101st and 82nd Airborne were very pivital in the D-Day victory, Operation Giant II, and Operation Husky.

There were large scale failures as well:

Operation Market Garden
509th Parachute Regiments drop during Operation Torch
DerAdlerIstGelandet said:
With heavy casualties the US 101st and 82nd Airborne were very pivital in the D-Day victory

I would have to debate that. As to playing a vital role in D-Day I would argue that the American divisions especially were not that vital considering that they never achieved ther D-Day objectives. Many people have argued that dispersal of American Para's helped the invasion but I do not think that is true. It would have been more effective if they had achieved the objectives set to them. Yes of course there is the historiographical arguements surrounding Monty's intentions for D-Day but the soldiers landing on the day were not to know that. I would even argue that the British landing was not a success because they were, in conjunction with 3 Div and the Commandos, unable to secure Caen. I still think without airborne units D-Day would have succeded and with not much change in casualties. I tend to think, especially with the British and Americas, that time and energy had been exoended forming these new units that they had to be used to save face but objectives probably could have been achieved with other troops.

Mahross, good points, but I dissagree.
I believe even though the 101st and 82nd airborne ultimately failed their mission they did a great job in taking out artillery placements and just plain keeping the germans at bay behind the lines. Although, your right there would be a chance for D-day to have succeeded without the airbourne, however you need to remember that when the invasion occured the germans didn't have all their men at the coastline. The 101st and 82nd was an important part in keeping the germans focused in the center of Normandy rather than at the coastline. Without them the boys on the beech would of face a much harder fortification to take and they already were facing a jerk to take.
Yep, the airborne divisions achieved their main objectives on D-day (with help from the 'Ruperts'). I would say the airborne divisions where effective in causing disruption but less effective at taking on heavily armoured positions (tank etc) because of the lack of anti-tank weaponary (bazooka's, PIAT's etc).
That is the way I see it. The airborne divisions behind the lines caused confusion and chaos among the German forces in Normandy. The higher ups were confused as to what was going on (and that is fact from reading memos and documents) and it kept the Germans forces at lenght because they needed forces to fight the threat that was allready beyond the beaches.
Yes, I am with the rest of you. Look at the battle of Brecourt Manor. That battle, well executed and featured in "Band of Brothers" is still taught today at West Point.

You want successful airborne operations, read about Operation Varsity, the largest and most successful airborne operation in history. It opened the northern crossing of the Rhine toward final victory.
evangilder said:
Yes, I am with the rest of you. Look at the battle of Brecourt Manor. That battle, well executed and featured in "Band of Brothers" is still taught today at West Point.

Little known or sited fact is that the battle of Brecourt Manor shown on "Band of Brothers" (very good TV) was actually the second attack on that position. The 101 had attacked it earlier on the day and been repulsed with losses. Details escape me at present.

But that does not detract from the effectiveness of Airborne troops. The record of airborne, from Belguim (German, 1940) to Crossing the Rhine (Allied, 1945) was excellent. Their failures tended to be failures of planning (logistics of resupply or too much with too little). The accomplishments are exemplery.

Which brings me to one of the digs against Airborne. They formation and staffing of Airborne units tended to strip straight leg infantry of their most effective (and probably most crazy) troops. It was argued that doing so reduced the effectiveness of the line infantry.
My opinion is that although undoubtedly some successes where achieved with airborne troops the inherent scatter that occurs with paratroop drops means too much time is wasted regrouping hence the modern use of helicopters, also even with the extremely low altitudes that where used (on Crete a number of paratroops hit the ground before fully deployment) there is a dead time in mid air (Crete St Mare Eglise) so apart from a few instances I think the loss of life and lack of heavy equipment was too high a price for the amount of gain.
The airborne forces in World War II were very effective in my opinion. From the start of the war until the end, they secured many objectives that would have been difficult or even impossible to come by conventionally.

In 1940, the Blitzkrieg through Holland and Belgium was led by the Wehrmacht's Fallschirmjager who dropped in hours before to capture key strongholds and bridges. These operations were completely successful and allowed the German Panzers to move much quicker across what would have otherwise been an extensive delay, or halt.

In 1941, the famous Crete invasion was a complete tactical blunder. The German High Command used the troops as the invading force rather than the supporting force. This is why their losses were so high, and the tactical gains so few. The island was taken however, which proves some success even when the High Command orders the wrong troops in.

The invasion of Italy was marked by the dropping of U.S and British airborne on to the mainland. These units did become scattered but achieved objectives behind enemy lines, and prepared the path for the landing forces.

The invasion of Normandy, well known, was opened up by the airborne. Dropping behind enemy lines, the British 6th Airborne secured the left flank of the invasion forces by destroying several bridges and capturing a few more. As well as halting artillery fire that would have come from the Merville Battery.
The U.S troops, as we know, became scattered all around Normandy. But they still achieved some goals, and the confusion of the drop zones played havoc with German planning. These units also secured vital road links off the beaches, one such place was Carentan which was secured by 101st Airborne to allow V Corps tanks off the beaches and on to the grassland.

Operation Market Garden, while a failure in the end, was a good example of effective airborne troops. The 101st and 82nd managed to secure objectives in Eindhoven, Son and Nijmegan. While 1st Airborne managed to capture most of their objectives in Arnhem. The plan itself was fine, had it been done in August. The timing of the operation was wrong, not the usage of airborne.

And finally the drop on the Rhine. Which carried the offensive across the Rhine and into the German homeland. Probably not possible without the 17th and 6th Airborne divisions landing over the east bank.
P38 Pilot said:
That deserves a Hooah and a salute! :salute:

If you knew how much soldiers actually hate saying Hooah and that we only say it because we are basically expected to do it, you would not use that word all the time.
You base your opinion of the military off of what an officer tells you. Did you know P38 they are clueless!


They polled officers in Iraq and asked them what they think the moral of the soldiers in the unit was and 72% said thad the moral was excellent.

They asked the same question to the soldiers themselves and 72% said that moral was extremely low!

This was an Army poll too!

Officers are clueless P38 when it comes to how the military is. They live in there own little world.

You are not going to know how the military really is from being in JROTC. JROTC is not the military. You are not really in the reserves and it is completely different.

JROTC=Kids playing soldiers.

I know I have been in both JROTC and I am in the Army now.

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