[Lone Sentry: www.LoneSentry.com] [Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
"How Paratroops Clear Fields for Gliders" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on German paratrooper techniques for clearing landing fields, from the Intelligence Bulletin, June 1944.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



The Germans are well aware that troops dropped by parachute must be supplied rapidly with sufficient reinforcements, equipment, ammunition, and rations if the average paratroop operation is to have a fighting chance of success. To achieve this, the Germans stipulate that the first mission of certain designated paratroopers, on landing in the jump area, is to improvise a landing field for gliders. Reinforcement by air-landing troops is the first use to which an improvised field is put. Supplies which cannot be dropped are landed next. After this, the Germans try to establish an organized supply system, which will include full protection of the supplies arriving and an orderly distribution to the troops.


If German paratroops are forced to engage in combat immediately upon hitting the ground or shortly afterward, the designated soldiers attempt to reconnoiter for suitable landing fields not too far from the area in which fighting is in progress, and yet, wherever possible, out of range of hostile fire. The German preference is for a field near a road or path leading to the fighting troops. It is regarded as essential that the surrounding obstacles permit a glide of at least "1 in 15."[1] An effort is made to provide each regiment with one glider landing field having at least two landing strips. The object is to allow a number of gliders to land simultaneously. An ideal field, the Germans specify, is one which permits gliders to land regardless of the direction in which the wind is blowing.

The Germans regard the following as unfavorable features: very rocky, uneven ground; stony ground where the stones go deeper than 2 feet and consequently are hard to remove; swampy or wooded ground; ground with thick vegetation, ditches, stone walls, hedges, wire fences, and so on.

The following, on the other hand, are described as favorable features: moderately soft ground with grass; ground with tall grass and even a little vegetation; farm land, even if furrowed; corn fields (which are fairly easy to clear); and sandy ground, even if it is somewhat pebbly.

Besides the above, the prevailing wind direction also influences the German choice of a field.


All obstacles are removed, not only from the landing strip, but from a zone 65 feet wide on each side of the strip. Uneven ground is leveled. Although normally every precaution is taken to lessen the danger of crash landings, the Germans follow an interesting procedure if time is very short or if the terrain presents great difficulties. Under these circumstances, the Germans clear at least one-third of the landing strip, on the principle that this much of a strip will at least decrease the speed of a glider somewhat after it touches the ground, and that crash landings will consequently be eased to some extent.

Just off the landing strips, parking areas are prepared for the gliders already landed. These parking areas are so arranged as not to hinder further development of the landing strip, in case this is ordered later. Vegetation stripped from the landing field is saved, and is used in camouflaging the parked gliders.

The center of the landing strip is marked with identification panels for air recognition, and the wind direction is shown by a large T made with panels and, indicated when necessary, by smoke as well.

1. This means that the length of the landing field must be at least 15 times the height of the trees or other obstacles which fringe the field.

[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Copyright 2003-2005, LoneSentry.com. All Rights Reserved. Contact: info@lonesentry.com.  

Web LoneSentry.com