- Feb 1, 2021
- Reaction score
What if this problem was anticipated pre-war and the Luftwaffe had the FG-42 available en masse for Crete? ITTL the FG-42 would enter production pre-war, be issued in limited numbers in 1940, but be the primary service arm for the paratroops on Crete.The German RZ parachute harness, with one single riser and two straps attached to the body, making the paratrooper land on his hands and knees in a forward roll, did not allow heavier equipment such as rifles and machine guns to be safely carried during jumps. At Crete, long-range rifle and machine gun fire from dug-in Commonwealth defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the outgunned German paratroopers in the early stages of battle as they attempted to retrieve their support weapons from containers scattered all over the battlefield. These combat experiences demonstrated the need for a rifle that could be carried by the paratrooper during a drop.
The lack of fire arms easily available was pretty huge on Crete and the cause of major casualties:
How might things have played out differently if the paras could fight back with a battle rifle equivalent from the moment they hit the ground?At 08:00 on 20 May 1941, German paratroopers, jumping out of dozens of Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, landed near Maleme Airfield and the town of Chania. The 21st, 22nd and 23rd New Zealand battalions held Maleme Airfield and the vicinity. The Germans suffered many casualties in the first hours of the invasion: a company of III Battalion, 1st Assault Regiment lost 112 killed out of 126 men, and 400 of 600 men in III Battalion were killed on the first day. Most of the parachutists were engaged by New Zealanders defending the airfield and by Greek forces near Chania. Many gliders following the paratroops were hit by mortar fire seconds after landing, and the New Zealand and Greek defenders almost annihilated the glider troops who landed safely.
Contrary to common perception the first day's drop actually saw few aircraft downed by AAA fire, so it wasn't an issue of being shot down before they reached the ground:
Assuming the invasion goes better and losses are much more manageable do you think there would have been more airborne operations and where?As night fell, none of the German objectives had been secured. Of 493 German transport aircraft used during the airdrop, seven were lost to anti-aircraft fire.