Troop Carrier formation for paratrooper airdrop and resupply mission


Like the US bombers in world war two, the Troop Carriers also used formations. Using formation provided the posibility to  drop the paratroopers close together.

This was of great importance and the Troop Carrier pilots were trained to fly close to each other, providing the airborne the best possible start of their campaign.


Formation flying required some skill and nerve. The planes used to fly that close to each other that they almost would touch each other, resulting in a fatal collision.


The Troop Carrier formation on parachute missions were named V-in-V’s. The photos tell the tail.

Three planes would make a formation with one plane leading, and two others flying a little beside and behind the leader, one plane on each side. This was a V.

Three of the above descibed elements would for a V as well. Now we have nine planes flying in a V formation, while every three plane formation also fomrs a V.

In this way one can build a formation of a number of planes.


A not so tight formation of three planes. The numbers correspond with their position in the formation or with chalk number.

A nine plane formation. V-of-Vs.  These are 61st Troop Carrier Group planes heading for Holland, September 1944.



To prevent to drop too many airborne troopers at once, missions were flown with serials. Every serial would be built with a number of planes. A serial could be 45 planes strong. Most Groups had two Squadrons in one serial.

The serials would arrive over the drop zone with a time interval of four minutes from head to head.

A 316th Troop Carrier Group formation. Twenty-four airplanes are visible in this photo.

This, and the other photos, show the way of numbering. Number 2 is on the right of number 1 and number 3 to the left. And so on. (L. Drake collection)

A fine shot of a serial flying over. Thirty-six airplanes. Such serials flew in the Normandy invasion and the Holland operation.

(Lunday collection)