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Paratrooper wearing windproof battledress (Jump smock) type 42 with jump equipment

The French airborne had the greatest number of combat operations during the Indochina war. During the seven years of this conflict, 198 combat jumps were executed; these jumps were for the most part: raids, reinforcing besieged and isolated garrisons, cut-off enemy retreat or give battle to infiltrating enemy Divisions.

But the most outstanding jumps were those of the volunteers for Dien Bien Phu.

In the beginning, the lack of means does not permit anything bigger than company size jumps. With time, an infrastructure is set up that enables Battalion and then Group (several Battalions) size airborne operations with its accompanying medical, combat support and service units.

Jump equipment

The Paratrooper on this drawing is typical of the Indochina period. He wears the British camouflaged type 42 battledress (hooded jump smock) with four pockets and trousers with a map pocket on the left thigh.

Designed to be worn over the battledress, it was seldom worn by the British Army Units during WW2 except in the Far East. France bought up these Type 42 uniforms for its paratroopers.

The steel helmet, jump boots semi-automatic M1 A1 Carbine for Airborne Troops are of US manufacture.

The parachute is French and replaces the US T-7.

With regards to the Type 42 uniform during the Algerian War Colonel Bigeard will have it re-tailored into an elegant jacket. The hood became a camouflaged cap called “Casquette Bigeard” by the French; the trousers will have a closer fit and hug the legs.

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