Parachuting is one of the most dangerous activities British military personnel can take part in, with the potential for something going wrong always there. With this being the case parachutes themselves are carefully regulated and only used for a certain number of jumps before being discarded as time expired. Once parachutes have passed the point of being safe to jump with, they are deliberately damaged to make it clear that they are no longer useable and so when they get on the collector’s market they have cut marks and damage to ensure they are never accidentally used again. Today we are looking at one such British Army parachute pack. The parachute itself has long gone, but for the purposes of the blog post, I have packed it out with some pillows to give it the correct shape. The parachute pack is a large green pack with heavy duty straps to secure it to the jumper:
The parachute is carried in the main body of the pack which is divided into two compartments, a lower:
And an upper which has white stencilled markings:
From these markings we can determine that the parachute was made by GQ and has a 360 square foot canopy. SLL indicates that it was used for static line jumping. The initials PSU are for the Parachute Support Unit, which is a civilian parachute packing company based at Letchworth in Hertfordshire. A military stores label is sewn to one of the straps, but it has worn very badly making it difficult to read much beyond the NSN number:
Turning to the back of the parachute we can see the straps used to secure the parachute:
Note the large cut panel on the rear making it very clear that this pack is no longer useable. The bottom straps are designed to wrap around the thighs, the upper straps go over the shoulders and both are very heavy duty to ensure there is no danger of them breaking with the forces of a parachute jump. The metal tubes and yellow handle are used to cut a tangled canopy away. Pulling the handle pulls Teflon cables that run through the tubes and cuts the parachute halyards. With the main chute cut away the secondary chute can be deployed:
The leg straps have a piece of blue tape applied:
This tape is used to indicate that the pack has been used for a jump over water. Wet and dry drops stress the kit in different ways and the number of jumps before they are unsafe differs so the chutes need to be clearly marked accordingly. A very heavy duty metal buckle is provided at the waist band to secure the whole harness together:
Whilst this parachute pack will never see service again, as a collectible and display piece it is a fantastic addition to the collection and if I can find a reserve chute pack to go with it, I will make good use of the pack in an impression at some future point.
There is no separate reserve pack with a GQ360, as the reserve parachute is mounted above the main canopy carried in the back container. This parachute used to be UKSF”s main free fall HALO/HAHO chute with a static line capability, but has been replaced by a more modern parachute in recent years.
Parachute canopies have some uses after their service life ends too…
We used to use TX’d or damaged A/C drag chutes for strafing targets at the A-G range, with an acoustic scorer underneath the suspended canopy, it was a pain running them up and down each day and even more of a one repairing shot away suspension lines or replacing them entirely. At least we had a bucket boom mounted on the back of a ‘deuce-and-a-half’ pole truck to help that. They also made good ceiling decorations for unofficial section bars.
The ones attached to torpedoes for airdrop were one time only use and subject only to time expiry, I have no idea why I didn’t end up with one in my basement like a lot of other people, too lazy to pack it up I suppose.
We did have one enterprising individual who attached one to the rear of his car and ran a cable up to the dashboard…the first time he ‘deployed’ it, he ended up deploying the entire bumper onto the pavement at a high rate of speed 😉