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All right, in this fiction there are airships, they're not like blimps or zeppelins, they're much more like the fantasy-esque "age of sail ship that floats", cool and dandy. With their creation, some people in the air admiralty of a nation thought of creating airborne troops, with parachutes (which I was surprised to learn to have been first imagined long ago, 2000 B.C. in China, first drawn in renaissance Europe, and first tested in the 18th century) so here comes the question, would it be feasible?

Before answering, consider the following:

  1. The airship's average altitude is 820 feet (250 meters), and it tops on about 900 feet (275 meters), for... reasons. Also, note that this is altitude relative to the ground directly below the ship, not sea-level or anything.

  2. Airships travel averagely at speeds of 20 knots (37 km/h or 23 miles/h).

  3. Parachutes here are made of silk, similar to those seen on early-WW2, before being replaced by nylon.

Please warn me if there's any missing essential detail, and feel free to drop a (much needed) advice.

Also, here's a little bonus question, in this fiction, armor has enjoyed an extended longevity, it can still be effective against musket shots and projectiles, and because of that, many soldiers wear metal armor. Would it be possible for a paratrooper to wear armor, maybe not a full plate knight armor, but at least one that covers the essentials? Or would it be too heavy for the parachute or simply too unpractical on the situation?

I think I found another possible obstacle: The altitude. If they deploy their 'chutes at, say 650 feet (200 meters), would it be too low?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 18 '18 at 4:32

11 Answers 11

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Leonardo da Vinci's parachute was conceived in the late 1400's, and modern reproductions (made of linen BTW) work just fine.

enter image description here

Reproduction of Leonardo's parachute

The difficulty with early parachutes is they are simple devices for deceleration. There is no capability for steering the parachute, and control is going to rise in difficulty as the amount of weight increases (i.e. jumping in armour). The result will likely be the jumpers augering in and suffering injuries to the legs, backs and joints, immobilizing a large fraction of the jumping force. Non steerable parachutes also ensure the stick gets scattered across the countryside, reducing the effectiveness of the jumping force. Unless you can muster an overwhelming number of jumpers, or otherwise draw the enemy away, they will be rapidly set upon by the Cavalry, who do not suffer from many of these issues.

The other issue is how the parachute force is to be deployed. Jumpers, despite a lot of romantic nonsense, are a supporting or auxiliary force, meant to arrive unexpectedly on the flanks or rear to pin or disrupt enemy forces in support of the main body of troops, who are advancing in a conventional manner across country. Jumpers have limited supplies and are totally reliant on resupply from the air, or the rapid linkup with ground troops. If this does not happen, then you could end up in the position of the British Airborne in Operation Market Garden ("A Bridge Too Far"), or the French Foreign Legion paratroopers in Dien Bien Phu (For a terrifying recount of the disaster, read Bernard Fall's book "Hell in a very small place").

However, given the parameters of the airship, you could bypass the paratrooper phase altogether and go for "Air Assault" instead. The ships approach the LZ, fire canister, grapeshot or similar rounds to clear the area and then simply land and disembark the troops. Troops can run off the airships fully armoured, and with more supplies (even horses, if desired). They will land as complete units and be much more capable and effective than scattered paratroopers (this is particularly important with the muskets available in that era). They can even have effective "gunship" support in the form of airships overhead using cannons or sharpshooters firing down on targets on the ground as the dismounted troops advance. However, much like paratroopers, airmobile troops still are adjuncts to the main force, and are still limited by logistics, size and mobility once disembarked.

enter image description here

A platoon of air mobile infantry deployed by Mi-17

enter image description here

In the 1700's, you would be disembarking Cavalry or Horse Artillery

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer, as you have shown, paratroopers here aren't very feasible, and probably wouldn't be very effective, I'm thinking that perhaps Willk suggestion of using paragliders might be better than using parachutes. I did love your suggestion of using air assault, but I'm afraid it might not be possible, because the reason for airships to be built like sail ships is that they're extremely heavy, and if they landed on ground the hull wouldn't be able to hold the weight and the ship would be destroyed, not to mention that once landed, they're stranded till they fly again... $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ ...because of that, the airships land on water and sail to a nearby port. This is why only countries with a coast or large river can build airships. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ Instead of landing, what if the airship hovered about 20m above ground, and then your air marines rappelled off the side with ropes? It's still a very one way trip, but as they are more easily able to control their descent they can bring heavier gear. $\endgroup$ – Kyyshak Mar 12 '18 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ Paratroopers would be very effective, but not as an attacking force. They would be great for small-scale special forces or covert incursions. Fly over your enemy by night so they don't see you (I'm assuming no radar and your aircraft sound like they would be naturally quiet), and drop a small number of individuals with specific missions like sabotage or infiltration. $\endgroup$ – Simba Mar 12 '18 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Nitpick: The French soldiers at Dien-Bien-Phu were paratroopers, but they were not acting like paratroopers. They dug in, had artillery, had tanks. Their equipment could have been "lighter" than that of other French units, but they were fighting a guerrilla force that was similarly lightly equiped (and without tanks at all). $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Mar 12 '18 at 15:15
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Your troopers do not have much vertical distance to work with. But they have a lot of forward momentum to work with. Your soldiers might be better off with gliders.

military paragliders https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/modern-military-gliders.537943/

You could have them be paragliders or something like hang-gliders. The cool thing about gliders you can steer is that you can translate some of your forward momentum into opposing your fall. You can pull up and turn forward momentum into upward momentum. Your soldiers would drop out of the ship and open their gliders, tracking along below the ship for a while. They could pull up right before they land.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I thought of paragliders too at first (at first I also wanted a "raiding" team made of paragliders that would invade other airships and take control of them), but paragliders are much more difficult to land, and they're also much bigger and harder to storage, not to mention that even hitting your target with them would be difficult, but I suppose it's possible. If parachutes don't work, then I'll move on to gliders, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, after being shown the failures of using parachutes on this time period, I'm starting to think that paragliders would be more reasonable. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Jedboo As a hang-glider pilot who's shared a hill with paragliders, I think you don't really know much about either! :) Paraglider bags are only bigger than a freefall chute bag because you can just stuff the paraglider canopy in - there's no need to fold it tidily to save space and ensure it deploys cleanly. They certainly can be packed down small. However you need nylon to make them practical. Hang-gliders were invented much earlier though (by von Lilienthal) and don't need exotic materials. They're a bit more bulky, but they fold down to a long thin tube which can be easily stored. $\endgroup$ – Graham Mar 12 '18 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Graham Nice! Paragliders are becoming a better idea by the moment, and thanks for pointing out my inaccuracies, as you have said, I really know nothing about either (which is why I'm here lol) $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jedboo The thing with paragliders though is the ram-air concept. They stay inflated because forward movement forces air into those holes at the front of the canopy and pressurises it into the shape of an aerofoil, with carefully-set-up lines keeping the right washout. This is very advanced 3D design. You need high-quality ripstop nylon, lots of previous knowledge of parachutes, and lots of previous knowledge of aerofoil sections. Early paragliding was characterised by many pilots killed or paralysed - it's spectacularly easy to go wrong. I'm not really sure this works in your context. $\endgroup$ – Graham Mar 13 '18 at 10:40
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Yes, for the reasons you mentioned, parachutes would be technically feasible in the 1700s, because of silk cords and chutes. The problem is that it would requires a lot of silk, and silk was #1 expensive, and #2 quite possibly made by your enemy.

Thus, while rich young nobles could jump out of balloons for fun, outfitting a battalion (bigger than a company, but smaller than a brigade) would be practically impossible. Of course... if you've got flying sailboats, you could handwave an adequate supply of silk, too.

Regarding whether you can wear armor... the heavier the thing falling out of the sky, the bigger the parachute needs to be. At some point, though, they'd become too big and bulky to wear, and the deployed diameter would be too great for lots of troopers jumping at once. Thus, I'd stick with padded leather.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer, and about the silk thing, I believe you're right, it would be very expensive to outfit the army indeed, because of that I made the paratroopers a "elite" or "special" unit, only 2.75% of the armed forces will be airborne. You're also probably right about the armor, though I think real life paratroopers had some fairly heavy equipment with them, so maybe having some limited armor, like a cuirass and other small pieces, wouldn't hurt. I hope, at least. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 11 '18 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Well, in modern times, you can engineer special nylons with ripstop cords, etc. IOW, lighter, thinner, stronger for a single person. Not so when all you have is silk. But... if you've got flying ships, lightly armored paratroopers won't break SoD either. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Mar 11 '18 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Mentioning something like "you can't have too much armor, or the chute will rip" is all that's needed to clue the reader that you're trying to be reasonable. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Mar 11 '18 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, thanks for the advice, I'll keep that in mind. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Modern paratroopers have their heavy equipment in a "jump ruck" which is lowered by a cord prior to landing. The jumper is carrying the minimum needed to survive and fight when they land, but needs to get to their jump rucks right away to access more or heavier gear. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Mar 12 '18 at 17:20
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I hold my breath for a second, looking to the endless, calm waves below. The sound of the raging wind was almost entirely deafened by that vast blue expanse that rolled over all the way past the horizon, fusing itself with the sky on the distance. There wasn't land to go for if we missed the target. Or was it a perfect landing, or it was death.

Checking my gear one last time, I did what I did before several other times. The thing I was trained to do and the thing I lived to do. It wasn't only my military duty, nor the needs of my people that gave my legs the motivation they needed to disobey my instincts every single time I jumped. It wasn't my captain yelling orders nearby, or the loyalty to my comrades. All of those things mattered, of course, but not there. Not now. They were irrelevant.

The only thing that mattered was how much I loved to fly.

I pushed myself forward, jumping with all my strength out of the launching board. My arms folded to the sides of my body, holding on the metal rings near my hips with a iron grasp. I twisted my body midair, using my legs and my spine to direct myself to the enemy ship several feet down below. An easy target, I told myself. I knew it was a lie, but it was a lie that I needed right now.

When my downward speed was good enough, I pushed my arms forward, bringing the rings with me, breaking the fragile glass seals that held my glider in its closed form. I heard the leather unfurling and the several small bronze cogs turning fast as my arms moved into position. A satisfying click made itself audible when the wooden segments that made the attack side of my glider locked themselves in position. I felt the small bump in my movement as the steering tail unfurled itself behind me, giving me the control I would need in my descent.

I pushed my right leg forward, pulling a set of ropes that made my tail twist to the side. That movement was mirrored by my left arm, retracting the wing attached to it somewhat and enabling me to enter into a wide spiral, changing my downwards movement into a dash forward.

I was approaching my target fast. I could see the individual enemy soldiers running around on deck, shooting towards me and the rest of the small swarm of the Crown's Wings. It was in vain - we were too fast for their clumsy firearms and lousy aim.

I could already discern the white of their eyes. It was time.

I pulled my arms back. Hard. An audible pop of wood breaking later, and my glider was unfurling itself once more - the leather of the wings unfolded itself a couple times, changing its original wedge shape into a more open, wider and longer form, opening itself behind me as a long blue cloak with my team's sigil emblazoned over it. It them jumped upwards, pushed away from my body by the wind. Strong silk ropes made sure it remained attached to my boarding harness, giving me limited but enough mobility for the final landing.

My right hand went for my cutlass, while my left one held tight on the unlocking switch in the middle of my chest. I held my breath.

As I got closer, still going fast forward, I raised my leg somewhat, making sure to kick one of the enemy soldiers right into the temple before releasing my gliding suit. It kept moving away, right into the sea, its job done and its task finished with perfection. With my cutlass in my hand, I turned myself to find my comrades landing beside me, already ready for battle. A few of us were grinning in anticipation, with our hearts already pumping hard and our minds lusting for blood. The blue below would mean death for anyone that fell from the ship, sure. But We were the Crown's Wings.

We were death from the sky.


(Sorry for the broken english!)

Why you don't use gliders instead of parachutes?

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    $\begingroup$ My god, did you write that? It's fantastic! And I've been considering using gliders, a fellow Willk even has dedicated an answer to it, and seeing the situation, it might be more prudent than parachuting. Also, your English is not broken at all, it's good to find someone else here that uses English as second language too, specially someone that can use it as masterfully as you! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 13 '18 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Jedboo Thank you! When I read your question, this idea popped up in my head. I had to use it! XD I'm glad that you liked it! $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Mar 13 '18 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ My God, I clicked on your profile by accident and I realized that you're Brazilian too! Como é bom saber que tem gente boa assim aqui. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 13 '18 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Jedboo Obrigado xD Acho que foram anos mestrando RPG que acabaram me ajudando com um pouco de experiência pra escrever. Eu não sou o único no WB, também. Seja bem vindo! $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Mar 13 '18 at 1:17
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At only 250 meters off the ground, troops being "airborne" is not necessary to get them to the ground safely.

Have the troops abseil down from the ship to the ground.

Abseiling from helicopter

The limiting factor of how far down a solider can abseil is the specific stength of the rope - the maximum length of the rope could be before its own weight would exceed its tensile strength. So, would 18th centurary rope be strong enough to support a solider and the weight of the rope itself?

Yes. Using tensile strength data of hemp rope, a 250-meter long section of 1-inch (25mm) thick rope would weigh about 95kg, but its breaking strength is about 3675kg.

Allowing 120kg for soldier and equipment and a 17th century (soldiers' lives were cheap even up to WW1) safety factor of 2x (assume half actual strength), the maximum abseiling height would be about 4.5 Km (2.8 miles), easily enough.

However the usual modern safety factor is 10x (assume 1/10 actual strength), which gives a maximum abseiling height of about 650m (2132 feet), which is still enough.

The vessel would need to slow its ground speed to a safe value, either by cutting power in still air, or by manoeuvring to fly into the wind (similar to a technique used by aircraft carriers to maximize takeoff and landing airspeed).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the calculation and idea friend! I was going to mention that 18th century ropes were not as powerful as today's and might not be useful, but it seems you were (thankfully) a step ahead of me :) $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ 2 factors to keep in mind: a safe working load should be about a 10:1 ratio - if a rope can hold 2000kg, you shouldn't put more than 200kg on it, though dynamic loads (a potential for a hard jerk on the rope) should be closer to a 20:1 ratio (so only 100kg on that 2000kg rated rope). Additionally, ropes of natural fibers can stretch out over time (especially if put under load while wet) and suffer from rot, making these ratings potentially unreliable, so people would want to err on the cautious side - that said, war is inherently risky anyway. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Mar 13 '18 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ Just to echo @pluckedkiwi, you can't use a safety factor of 2x, that'll be pretty guaranteed to break just from abseiling. But that rope would be fine for Jedboo's 250m high airships. $\endgroup$ – Dan W Mar 15 '18 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ @DanW calculcation for 10x safety factor (650m) added. $\endgroup$ – Bohemian Mar 15 '18 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @plucked calculcation for 10x safety factor (650m) added. $\endgroup$ – Bohemian Mar 15 '18 at 17:39
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As @Graham mentioned Lilienthal gliders could work. They are used (well, one is used so far in my reading) to good effect in the web serial Airship Flying Cloud R-505.

In the story, it is used for scouting and for a single person away mission.

It wouldn't be a stretch to have an entire company trained in their use. Heck, if the lift tech/magic you use can enhance those gliders, you can remove most of their short comings.

The main issue with long distance travel in a glider are the reliance of thermals to gain altitude. This would make gliders more useful for common troops in known territory. You would want highly trained people to lead long distance formations over new territory.

You could have a troop glider similar to what they used in WWII. They were wooden gliders towed across the English Channel and released to glide the onboard troops into position. There are good articles about them on wiki and ASME.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice info, and lovely story too (I love seeing different outcomes of historical wars and their impact on the world), and you're absolutely correct, many problems can be fixed with a glider and some magic, and while there is magic here, I'm afraid it'll be a little lackluster for our purposes, but thank you! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 13 '18 at 0:08
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You might check for some sources in the Napoleonic Wars.

Though probably always disregarded because of technological feasibility and risks there were "plans" (crazy ideas) flying around to invade England with the first airborne drop in history via balloons.

The surprise element alone could have assured the English not expecting this kind of insane operation.

That said, you are entirely dependent on wind conditions and each balloon can only hold a small squad of soldiers and little equipment.

I'm not sure how far those ideas ever got but I heard that someone at that time at least pondered if one can make it work.

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    $\begingroup$ The British were certainly aware of the 'possibility' of a French invasion via balloon, they just regarded it as a practical impossibility. As Lord St Vincent (the then First Lord of the Admiralty) reputedly told the House of Lords; "I do not say the French cannot come, I only say they cannot come by sea" $\endgroup$ – walrus Mar 12 '18 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ The element of surprise is vital indeed! Thanks for historical info, I really didn't think that mass military parachuting could be an idea in Napoleonic times! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 13 '18 at 0:00
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Mobility would be an important factor in this type of fight. The armored paratroopers look good and all but their mobility wold be severely reduced. Also i want to know if there is any magical abilities in your story, this could really change the way the soldiers fight using said parachutes.

You should check out the anime Youjo Senki and its take on airborne troops even if your story doesn't have magic abilities.

http://youjo-senki.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Mages

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, it has magical abilities, but I mostly keep it out of the question, mostly because the mods aren't really fans of soft magic, but if you have anything related to magic to say, please do! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 12 '18 at 23:59
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Slightly tangential, but this has impact on the weight your troops would be carrying:

The majority of armour was not effective against muskets. Only very heavy armour was, and even then only some sections would be (e.g. breastplate). This is partly why the sword enjoyed a renaissance after the arrival of the musket, because heavily armoured soldiers were very slow targets vulnerable to muskets. See eg https://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13876

Heavy armour was also relatively rare, and very tiring to move in.

So armour was probably lighter in your setting than you might imagine.

In terms of the accuracy of dropping unguided parachutes – if your airships are typically at 250m, and likely traveling extremely slow compared to planes, I think the concerns about the accuracy of unguided drops may be largely mitigated.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh I know, the reason armor is still used is mostly because, while black powder is somewhat similar to real world's, armor has had a huge advance, dwarves, and later humans, have made blast furnaces that can mix iron with, for example, manganese, to produce very strong steel alloys, mangalloy for instance, is both stronger and lighter than steel, and armorers have been using golems, manufactories and slaves to mass produce these, allowing for soldiers to wear armor that can be effective at stopping musket shots, among other minor reasons. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 13 '18 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ Mangalloy has higher impact hardness, which makes it useful in e.g. mining, but I've not seen a source to say it's used in armour – perhaps due to the cost. It's extremely difficult to work – virtually impossible to machine, though your dwarven forges may resolve that. However, it's still going to be pretty heavy armour, from what I can tell. You might have better luck for a light armour with layered silk & cotton – this was used even in WWII to protect e.g. pilots. $\endgroup$ – Dan W Mar 15 '18 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I believe the main reason it wasn't used for armor is because it came around the early 19th centuries, by now only French cavalry wore armor, and that was a simple cuirass, but I do plan on using silk and cotton too, under the metal, to dissipate and stop impact $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Mar 16 '18 at 0:07
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I don't think anyone's addressed your question about parachutes working at that height.

For a HALO jump, the chute opens at about 600m, according to wikipedia.

According to answers here: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-minimum-altitude-to-deploy-your-parachute The minimum opening height for a main chute is 600m; the chute takes about 200m to open, before it starts slowing you down.

Your guys jumping from 250m are much more akin to a BASE jump, which can be completed 'safely' from that height – bear in mind BASE jumps have a significantly higher risk than parachuting, and require a lot more skill.

This is all with modern materials. Whilst Leonardo's parachute worked, it isn't going to perform anywhere near this level, and it's probably safe to assume that you couldn't drop from 250m with an 18th-century-tech parachute.

So I think you're going to be better off with abseiling from the airships.

Abseiling will have many benefits in your scenario:

  • a LOT cheaper than parachutes – ropes are reusable, whereas parachutes less so in a battle situation. This is always a plus in wars!
  • You can probably probably drop individuals faster (as in less time for each soldier from airship to ground), as the drop is more controlled, and the soldier can control the breaking much more precisely.
  • You can certainly drop more people at a time – each rope can probably have several people on it at a time, but even if not, you can drop ropes with a much higher density than parachutes, as you don't have to worry about the canopies colliding
  • your soldiers can stop and shoot etc. just before landing
  • your soldiers can abort landing and stay on the rope if the landing looks bad – too contested to be safe, too congested, missing the enemy ship / castle walls etc.
  • assuming the airship slows a bit as they drop, your soldiers can be much more precise where they drop, by waiting near the end of their ropes until they're right on the castle walls etc.
  • you can also exfiltrate via ropes, by the airship dropping ropes to the men and lifting them up. Without much creativity, you could probably work out some way to do this fast and reliably.
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While i also love hangliders (they were covered in another answer - they never got the action film love they deserved, the Escape from New York sequel has laughably unrealistic models where they could have gone with the real deal - google hang gliders made from bamboo) i would like to add an heretofore unmentioned way of aero-braking: gyrocopters! Hang gliders work by having an airspeed over the foil (and usually also a commensurate ground speed, if the wind is slow) and then, shortly before impact, heightening the angle of attack (nose up), thereby burning speed and gaining lift - if ideally executed, you swoop in hard, and touch down light as a feather. The problem here being the groundspeed in the moments before - you need long stretches of land to execute that maneuver safely. gyrocopters also have airspeed over a foil, but in this case, the foil rotates , so the airspeed does not come with groundspeed. You can go straight down (don't need to, though!) enter image description here

While the real deal has an internal combustion engine to push the gyrocopter forward against an inclined, but unpowered, main rotor, your use case does not entail gaining of height, and could thereby dispense with the motor. All you need is a big rotor (these can be made from good wood, no need for carbon fibres or magic), an axle, and something that conencts axle and jumper, ideally as part of the armor, possibly somewhere in the back. The rotor could be foldable, so you only need to carry the axle and the two rotor blades (for a 150kg armored warrior, 5 metre (~15ft) blade should do) - They walk around like knights before a joust. The rotor gets fitted shortly before the jump, making the warrior extrmely immobile for the moments before the plunge (also quite joust-like), then they jump, and start gaining velocity - at the same time, the rotor is starting to spin in the updraft. Depending on the blades angle of attack, and several variables having to do with the weight of the blades and the goodnes of the blades profile, the vertical velocity the warrior will end up with may vary. If you allow for handwaving or magic, the angle of attack is even variable - in that case, the jumper could exchange airspeed (=rotation) for lift in the last moments of the flight by suddenly altering the angle of attack of the blades (have the wood torque for some reason, or detach the lower part of the nose-edge,...) - that could be automated (long stick jutting down, triggering the mechanism when the jumper is still in the air) and thereby allow even airdrops of horses or materiel.

I like the visual of armored knights with huge blades on their backs dropping down - you could have some smoke-producing stuff on the blade-tips, maybe even something sound producing like an aeolian. - Ride of the Valkyries, anyone?

To reduce the lenght of the rotor needed, you could also opt for rotors with broader blades (the total area of blade needs to stay constant (actually the broader the blade, the more area you will need for aerodynamic reasons, but lets keep it simple) - if you go for the minimum achievable rotor-lenght, the rotor will look like the old windmills made from cloth and sticks - makes the angle-of-attack change trivial (not needed, though, keep in mind), might ruin the epic visual a bit... enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ That's actually awesome, more than awesome to be honest. If i were to complain, I'd just mention that gyrocopters are a little big and take up too much space on storage, but aside from that, this is a genius answer, thanks a lot! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Apr 7 '18 at 23:30

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