The German Army attaches great importance to the use of infantry
weapons against parachutists. A German document acquired by United
Nations forces in Sicily discussed the technique of employing
rifles and machine guns for this purpose. The following extracts
from this document should be regarded as supplementary to a
more general article,
"Principles of Defense against Airborne Troops,"
which appeared in Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 3.
2. THE DOCUMENT
German infantry units must at all times be prepared to meet
surprise attacks by parachutists.
Hostile parachute troops jump from an altitude of 3,000 feet or
more, drop about 1,000 feet, and then open their parachutes; or
they may jump at an altitude of about 400 feet, and open their
parachutes after a drop of about 100 feet. One must reckon with
a speed of fall of from 16 to 20 feet per second. When the first
of these procedures is followed, the parachutists, in landing, are
dispersed over a large area. When a platoon of parachutists follows
the second procedure, it attains in the air a lateral dispersion
of from 425 to 750 yards, a depth of about 325 yards, and a difference
of altitude of 50 to 65 feet between jumpers.
In employing infantry weapons against hostile parachute
troops, German soldiers will fire only on the order of a responsible
commander, such as a platoon commander or squad leader. The
individual parachutists—not their parachutes—constitute the
While a parachutist is landing, he may be attacked with every
likelihood of success. At this time he must free himself from his
parachute, and is helpless. If his weapons are dropped separately, he
must recover them. This, too, will occupy him for a few moments.
All arms must participate in the task of crushing a parachute
attack. Moreover, the employment of every form of ground
defense for this purpose has the definite effect of breaking down
the morale of the hostile force.
b. Use of the Rifle
Riflemen will fire on hostile parachutists as soon as the latter
are within a range of about 425 yards. In a moderate wind, a
rifleman will aim at the center of his target. In a strong
wind, he will lead the moving target according to firing rules. The
rear sight will not be changed while fire is in progress. Riflemen
will also fire on ammunition and weapon containers.
Standing or kneeling firing positions should be assumed. However, the
situation may justify a prone position. Each rifleman will
fire at the parachutist nearest him. When the parachutist
jumps from an altitude of about 400 feet, the rifleman
will not have time to fire more than five aimed rounds.
c. Use of the Machine Gun
Machine gunners will use ordinary ball ammunition against
parachutists. It is advantageous to include armor-piercing
tracer bullets in ammunition belts, in a proportion of 1 to 3. Fire
will be opened with the rear sight set according to the
actual distance of the target. With reference to wind velocity, the
rules for aiming are the same as those in subparagraph b. The
rear sight will not be changed while fire is in progress.
The machine gun may be fired from a bipod, as a light gun, or
from a tripod, as a heavy machine gun; however, surprise
parachute attacks will generally compel a machine gunner to
fire from the shoulder of another man,
If parachutists are dropped in front of a position, they are
to be met with concentrated machine-gun fire. If they are
dropped beyond the fire position on the flank, they are to be
fired upon successively; that is, a machine gunner will fire on
the nearest parachutist, and will then fire on any who remain
in the line of sight. A volley of sweeping fire on scattered
parachutists is a waste of ammunition, and is strictly forbidden.