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"WW2 Soviet Parachutes ..." Topic

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Yesthatphil10 May 2013 6:27 a.m. PST

Looking at, say, (B&W) archive film of Soviet paratroops dropping in Finland, amongst all the pale coloured parachutes, some are stripey/parti-coloured.

Three questions …

What colour are WW2 Red Army parachutes?
What colours are the stripey ones?
What do the stripey ones signify?

Apologies if this one has been up before and I have missed it …




advocate10 May 2013 7:15 a.m. PST

I presume the striped parachutes have equipment attached (rather than men). But that's a guess and I've no idea about colours.

French Wargame Holidays10 May 2013 4:08 p.m. PST

as a ex para, I just love this pic


and some pre jump pics

Soviet airborne brigade organisation 1940
strength 300 men
11 tanks
4 guns

Parachute group
2 parachute batns (546 men each)
3 parachute rifle coys (141 men each)
1 mortar platoon (50mm mortar)
1 commd sqaud (12 men)
1 signals platoon
1 recon platoon (37 men)
1 sapper platoon
1 supply platoon
1 motorcycle/recon platoon
1 medical sqaud
1 signal company

Glider group (same Organisation as parachute group)

Air landed group (same Organisation as parachute group)
1 mortar company (9 x 82mm)
1 air defence coy (12 x HMG)
1 tank coy (11 T38 or T40)
1 Artillery btn
1 bty 4 x 45mm
1 bty 4 x 76mm
(source Lisov, Desantniki)

chutes were either white or tan, I could not find any information about stripped chutes I will keep looking.


Rudi the german10 May 2013 5:30 p.m. PST

Hi, i waited untill i post a answer as i am no expert at all on russian chutes.

I was a fallschirmjaeger in my time and jumped also with people from the former NVA. So i can only talk abot post wwIi equpiment of warsaw pact troops.

I was told from my free fall instructor that red and white striped chutes indicate material or rescue equipment. Meaning material dropped or non- airborne ranger who will not continue fighting on the ground and therefore should not been fired apon in mid-air. Article 42 of the convention of genevra.

I know that stiped chutes were also very popular for tournements after the war. The idea of the stipes in that you find the dropped person or equipment back with areial recon.

But this is all post ww2. Combat units in ww2 have normally white or offwhite chutes.

I am not aware of dying chutes in ww2 not even for special missions.
It would help if you sent a like with the russian film inorder to check if it is a training jump or real paras in combat mission?
Greetings and have fun

Kaoschallenged10 May 2013 7:29 p.m. PST

Since we are on the subject of Soviet paratroopers I thought some of you might find this interesting,

"Geronimo! and the Red Army" from Intelligence Bulletin
Article describing Soviet airborne forces and their use in WWII, from the Intelligence Bulletin


(Stolen Name)12 May 2013 2:56 p.m. PST

one my favourite articles on Soviet paras
I have searched through 3 or 4 other articles but cannot find a reference to chute colours

Yesthatphil13 May 2013 4:00 a.m. PST

Thanks everyone. I have seen the footage on a number of documentaries, but could not find any stills on image searches. But I thought others might know it. It is about 2 minutes in, on this part of 'World War II the Complete History' … YouTube link

(no idea whether, when I 'submit' that will end up a link or an embed)

Either way, here is a paste together of some caps from the sequence:


(Winter War Red Para Drop)

Obviously the original is an edit together of different pieces of film, and as ever, without seeing original documentation, I have no means of knowing if the pieces originally went together (pundits may have different views on that) …

It does look like the stripey chutes have people not canisters on them …



Archeopteryx13 May 2013 5:49 a.m. PST

Looks like the stripey chutes are those odd twin chutes used by the Soviets, whereas the plain silk ones are singles. Not sure if that has anything to do with it.

Archeopteryx13 May 2013 5:58 a.m. PST

BTW there is a photo of the twin canopy chutes and a reference to them in Zaloga & Ness's Red Army Handbook. But can't find out much else on the internet.

Yesthatphil13 May 2013 8:32 a.m. PST

Glad you said that, Archeopteryx, looking at them while I was pasting the captures, I did think (a) the stripey ones have men attached, not materiel, and (b) it looks like 2 chutes per man (either type of chute).

I don't have my own copy of the highly useful Red Army Handbook, so wasn't aware from other sources that the Red Army used (or trialed?) a twin chute arrangement.

With any archive film, it might not be authentic (it might be a contemporary Soviet drop, but is unlikely, if it was a real assault, that there would be a film crew on the ground to film them land): so it is more likely from a training school or a reconstruction.

Even so, a guess would suggest that the parachutes might be authentic. I'm already tempted to use monochrome for the parachutes … also the second opinion re the twin chutes I thought I was seeing is a great help …

If anyone has any more thoughts, please add them …


Archeopteryx13 May 2013 8:52 a.m. PST


I'm not at home, but I'll dig out the relevant passage this eve. From memory, I think they actually used them, but early in the war – so would fit your Winter War period. Anyway, I'll get the exact text for you later today.


Murvihill13 May 2013 10:22 a.m. PST

Exercise referees?

Panfilov Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2013 8:15 p.m. PST

Actually. hunt up a coply of the Dave Glantz book on Soviet Airborne Operations in WW II. The 4th Airborne Corps did conduct an operational Insertion during the Moscow Counter Offensive. Too lazy to hunt my copy down this evening, maybe later tonight. A Brigade (minus) dropped over multiple nights. Ended up linging up with the Cavalry and exfiltrating, IIRC.

Kaoschallenged13 May 2013 9:16 p.m. PST

"The Soviet Airborne Experience" by David Glantz PDF.
"This study examines the experiences of the Red Army in World War II and traces Soviet airborne theory and practice both before and since the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. Airborne warfare emerges as an essential part of the high-speed offensive operations planned by Soviet commanders. In demonstrating the ability of Russian airborne and partisan forces to survive and fight behind German lines for months at a time, it provides us with an instructive example of how Soviet special operations troops probably plan to operate in future wars."

PDF link

Archeopteryx14 May 2013 2:33 a.m. PST


Here is the Zaloga and Ness quote – "the red army of the 1930s was at the forefront of tactical innovations and one of the pioneers of airborne forces. Some of their eqipment was unique as well, including these double canaopy parachutes." The picture shows both plain silk and striped double capnopy parachutes. However, I wonder if the stipes might be produced by the deeper shadows between the sections of the smaller twin canopy chutes. I say this becuase in one image there appears to be a twin canopy with one plain and one striped chute? Unfortunately i can't reporduce the miage, but is a full page image and the double canopy chutes are very clear – incldunig as close-up of the harness.

Yesthatphil14 May 2013 3:28 a.m. PST

Great contributions. Thanks for the update Archeopteryx.

Re the Glantz book, I was aware of most of the operations (though so much more detail is a bonus) but what becomes obvious scrolling through is how many of the missions are winter/ Dec.-March.

Maybe a Russian winter kills mobility, but less so for airborne troops … so the risk/gain equation looks more beneficial to the planners (i.e. maybe in Winter, no other option offers the same degree of deep penetration)? I will have to look more closely at that.

Thanks for all the information


Yesthatphil23 May 2013 3:47 a.m. PST

Just thought I would add a link to P.B.Eye-Candy/Parachute Assault – a trial game where some of the above help has informed the design …

There is a note on making the parachute markers on the blog's Modelling page. I have done a varied group so the owning player can allocate various squads or weapons to each marker without the enemy knowing which is which.

As I gather more information I can improve the detail (although I suspect I will leave the game end relatively abstract, and give the added value more in refined briefings, orbats and narrative) …

Thanks for the help



Yesthatphil08 Jun 2013 9:48 a.m. PST

Thanks to the various contributors here … I'm hoping I might revive this thread a couple of weeks down the line:

In a documentary Red Wings, there is a parachute sequence like the others but which shows another coloured chute (b&w archive footage but you know what I mean …)


I'd like to add it to the 'any ideas?/any clues for colours' appeal …



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