Why weren’t there any Allied parachute operations in the Pacific on the same scale as in Europe?

The US had the 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific and conducted the successful Raid on Los Baños with 300 American paratroopers. Sure there were raids and commando operations, but why were there never larger scale operations similar to those in Europe such as Husky, Overlord, and Market Garden? Was it because in the Pacific paratroopers were not necessary in jungle warfare?


My first thought was that there weren’t in the Far East specifically because there were in the West. There’s not an infinite amount of resources and Europe was the primary theatre so received the parachute divisions, along with the armour and the air force and so on. There (probably) weren’t enough planes for Market Garden to work, and that’s in the primary theatre with the bulk of the RAF from home bases, so necessarily operations in the Far East would be smaller in comparison.

Interesting question though, and of further interest would be the plans in the Far East after victory in Europe, where (hypothetically) resources were less of a concern.


Couple of reasons: The distance between a launch base and a landing base was often huge. Flying to and from a landing target would mean a much lower payload (for instance, the distance from Palau to Mindanao is over 600 miles - a C-47 could do it… probably.)

A division-sized landing on contested ground, except on major land-masses (basically the Philippines) are insane. Even relatively large islands like Okinawa have defenses pretty much every inch. The Japanese could counter-attack the paratroopers almost instantly, not giving them time to organize a defense. Unless supported by an immediate sea landing, which would have to attack right away to save the paratroopers… so, I’d suggest its just a way to lose men and not gain much.

The Japanese could probably contest the air landings with fighters. Japanese fighters had exceptional range, and could take off from fields out of range of US support forces.

… ok, that’s three reasons. :-). The Germans had their bad experience with airborne operations at Crete. The Allies had theirs at Arnhem. After that, nobody was willing to risk essentially unsupported airborne landings.


Yes the whole Europe first policy was happening. Also I believe that for Operation Downfall the Allies planned a parachute drop in Japan (just based on my limited research and the last episode of Band of Brothers :wink:)


Those were some of the reasons I figured. Thanks for elaborating in better detail.

The 503 Parachute Infantry Regiment (Separate) is finishing up the last of their airborne exercises in Queensland, Australia and is doing final exercises before their deployment to Port Moseby, Papua New Guinea on August 18, 1943.

There will be 5 regimentall sized airborne assaults and two cancelled regimental airborne assaults in SWPA in World War 2 with one dramatic assault that will be covered in full detail by Indy and the Timeghost Army in the weekly episodes. Do not look this up cause it will ruin your weekly viewing of the episodes. General Churchill Kenney was never given sufficient transport aircraft for a divisional sized assault while commanding 5th US Army Air Force and US Far East Army Air Force (merger of 5th and 13th Army Air Forces).

What you will see is that General Douglas MacArthur (SWPA Theatre Commander), General Walter Krueger (6th Army Commander), and General Kenney were far more audacious in the employment of airborne operations than any Allied Commander in Europe and the Mediterranean Theatres. Their airborne operations are more in line with what the Germans did in 1940 and 1941.


This I will be watching with interest. My Great Uncle was a paratrooper in the Pacific. And I know very little about it, as he would never talk about it. The only thing I know was that he was affected by malaria he got while serving for a very long time.


Well, the whole concept for the US marine Corps is a kind of “Paratrooper by boat” Swift in, own logistic and transport, hit hard, do the landings and then let the Army do the rest. airborne troops can not sustain themselves for long, and that’s why it make no sense to drop them on an island where they can not easily be connected to regular army troops


The 503d dropped on New Guinea, and Corregidor, but near as I can tell, they were delivered by naval landing more often, and spent most of their time in combat as very expensive infantry. After the war, the 503d will be assigned to the 11th Airborne Division.

The 11th dropped its parachute (as opposed to its two glider) regiment in the Philippines; a couple of companies dropped for the Los Baños operation. The 11th in WWII was commanded by General Joe Swing, which leads me toward a joke that ends in “look at the General, he’s Swing dancing!”

What are the other two regimental drops? I can only find the three.


My first thought was environmental. Look at where the Pacific battles were.
Coral atolls, not practical for parachutes as most would end up in the sea; think of the dispersion experienced during drops in Europe.
Volcanic islands, small with jagged rocks and hilly. Limited viable LZs, well covered by the enemy.
On the larger islands you have jungles, the casualty rate of dropping into forests would be horrendous.
In reality only the plains of the Philippines and Okinawa offered viable targets. The Army used paratroopers in the Philippines and the Navy had no experience with paratroopers so didn’t include them in plans for Okinawa.


Here are the airborne operations in SWPA:

503rd Parachute Regiment (Separate)
September 5, 1943 - Nadzab Airfield, Nadzab, New Guinea (full regimental drop)
July 3, 1944 - Kamiri Airfield, Noemfoor Ishand - ( regimental drop ended after parachuting of 2 battalions due to injuries from landing on coral)
December, 1944 - Mindoro Island, Philippines (operation cancelled due to bad weather, regiment landed by amphibious assault)
February 16, 1945 - Corregidor (regimental drop done in 2 lifts combined with an amphibious assault)
March 1945 - Negros Island (airborne operation cancelled, replaced with amphibious assault)

511th Parachute Regiment, 11th Airborne Division
February 3, 1945 - Tagaytay Ridge, Luzon, Philippines (full regimental drop)
June 23, 1945 - Camalaniugan Airport, Aparri, Philippines - Task Force Gypsy (equivalent of 2 reinforced battalions drawn primarily from 511th Parachute Regiment)


USMC doctrine at this timeframe is combined airborne/amphibious assault. The USMC does have the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment (Para-Marines) which is built up to 4 parachute battalions. The doctrine is that one or two battalions will be assigned for airborne landings during an amphibious operation. They will land at the same time as the landing craft to take out field artillery and enemy headquartes. The Marine Parachute Battalions are heavily equipped with submachine guns, BARs, and light machine guns so they are the equivalent of a submachine gun battalion. The reason why no Para-Marines were never dropped in combat was due to the lack of transport aircraft in both the USMC and 13th Army Air Force so they were never dropped into combat.

The Paramarines are present and fought throughout the entire Solomon Islands campaign from beginning to end. The regiment will eventually be dispanded along with the 1st and 2nd Provisional Marine Raider regiments. The Marine Raiders would be used to form the 4th Marines and the Paramarines and Raiders Training Battalion would form the cadre for the 26th, 27th, and 28th Marines in the 5th Marine Division.