PARATROOPER! by Gerard Devlin


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The Saga of Parachute and Glider Combat Troops 1914 to 1945. . . . As it must, this begins with a snappy history of the parachute, which was first designed by Leonardo da Vinci, but not turned into a working model until some balloonists in 1785 made a crude chute and tried it successfully on a dog in a harness. After a flawless landing, the dog raced away, never to be seen again. Fifty years later a new design (shaped like an upsidedown umbrella) proved fatal to its designer. By the end of World War I, the parachute was introduced to the German Air Force, luckily for some aces, but the war ended before the new device could be widely tested. The U.S. Army Air Corps soon got into the act (one that demanded daredevil skill) by forming its Parachute Test Platoon at Lawson Field. It was 6'8"" Aubrey Eberliardt who determined to yell ""Geronimo"" when he jumped, just to show he was fearless, and that became the byword of U.S. paratroopers and part of the permanent lingo of jumpers. But it was the Germans who developed the paratroop attack which had such resounding success during their invasion of Greece, a success they never duplicated to the same degree. The present account also takes up the development of paratroop and glider forces by the Japanese, Italians, and French. Along with its successes, the parachute contributed to some of the great debacles of the war, including the invasion of Holland. Author Devlin is himself a much-decorated paratrooper, an amusing and lively historian, and herein is publishing over 100 photographs from his memorabilia.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1979
Publisher: St. Martin's