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Imperial Stormtroopers and Japanese Airborne Operations ? Dutch East Indies 1941-1942

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Japanese military parachutists
Contrary to popular believe the Japanese military entered WW2 with an aircrew safety parachute and harness derived and copied from the A-type Leslie Irvin pattern, an American that emigrated to England who developed a chute to deploy with a rip cord to replace the static line used by most pilots and balloonists up to the 1920?s. The first specifically designed Japanese military parachute was the Type 01 of 1941, similar to the German RZ version, which has more in common with the Italian D-30 series chute, having a canopy diameter of 28feet (8.5metre) in a pronounced hemispherical shape with skirting and vent hole for stable flight. The Italians used the Salvatore parachute that opened by hand grip rip cord and in the beginning were ardent users of paratroopers although by 1941 there were two understrength lightly equipped divisions. The parachute lines were connected by a single point length to the paratroopers belt and had the effect that the man hung slightly face downwards hunched in an ideal position for a face first landing. The harness was modified in the later Type 03 leaving out the lift webs, and the rigging lines were brought to a single point connected to a large steel ?D? ring behind the paratroopers neck for a more upright controlled landing. Standard German teaching was to dive head first out the door and to take the landing in a forward roll, the British and Americans jumped feet first, although the particular Japanese method of opening of the folded and packed chute by static line was for safety sake dangerous and liable to failure. Each paratrooper also carried a 24feet (7.3metres) reserve chest-pack, and it should be noted that basic Japanese naval parachutists training program required jumps between 300-500feet (90-150m), which would not give much time to deploy the emergency chute, let alone hesitate in deploying the main canopy. Japanese paratrooper training also required a jump from as low as 100ft, and were taught by the German instruction teams who were probably horrified by the sight of their teachings being taken to extreme. The Russian military used a square shaped canopy static line deployed chute and a ripcord reserve parachute in 1942.

The Japanese Navy and Army developed, trained and experimented with their own raised airborne troops knowing quite clearly on how utilise them in military operations. The Imperial Navy opted for the creating of an aerial landed diversion inland from the beaches where the main amphibious assault by sea would be. The Japanese Navy had the concept of intending to disable the airfields preventing interference by enemy warplanes on an amphibious landing by co-ordinating the timing of their sea-borne assault and parachute drop to create maximum surprise at the point of contact. German airborne troops were employed as the spearhead of the remarkable and daring invasion of Denmark and Norway. The Scandanavian experience had France & Britain plus the neutral nations see themselves as next in line. The Dutch in Holland had deployed to meet such an airborne assault to bridge the water-obstacle defences, fought with skill and determination, yet a lucky chance at Waalhaven was exploited by the Germans air-landing reinforcements, although it had been a near run thing until German ground troops linked with the paratroopers. The lightly armed Japanese paratroopers of 1942 would have the tactical task of attacking the air base defenses, once successful then the Japanese would quickly use the airfield for their own warplanes to support the invasion. Small groups were sent out to secure crossroads and block-off reinforcements or actually secure other objectives of importance to direct the defense away from the beachheads. Japanese coordinated combined island amphibious invasions were swift and devastating, orchastrating and intergrating elements of superior firepower which resulted in overwhelming force. The surprise element in the military sense does not necessarily mean open-mouth astonishment, it does explain that doing the unexpected which is not planned for by the enemy. The surprise element was available to the Japanese for they had the incentive, initiative and mobility to strike anywhere with their main forces, having control of the sea and air superiority. Where airborne formations would land to create havoc could only be guessed at by ABDA Command. An opportunity for the Japanese military to exploit manuouvre warfare and achive victories by the skill of their mission commanders creating the advantage by applying strength against the enemy weakspots while attempting to use surprise to avoid attrition.

Imperial Navy marines
The 1st Yokosuka SNLF (Special Naval Landing Force) was formed 20 September 1941, at Yokosuka Naval District, round a battalion of 520 paratroopers, this force had taken Menado as part of the Sasebo Raiding Force. The 2nd Yokosuka also formed at the Yokosuka port area, 15 October 1941, with 746 men and trained as such, took no part in any airborne operations and became an island defensive base unit. The 3rd Yokosuka, again formed at the Naval facility consisting of 849 men on 20 November 1942, was used as marine infantry through the Philipines and two months later was involved in the Dutch West Timor invasion as airborne inserted infantry originating
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