Reading up on the history of airborne infantry, the concept was apparently brought up in the latter years of World War 1, with Churchill (who loved wacky ideas no matter who practical they were) proposing that men should be dropped behind German lines in 1917, the Americans also planned to drop elements of the Big Red 1 near Metz in 1919, but the war ended first.

Given what we know about the technology and training available at the time, if the Allies had attempted a combat drop behind the German trench lines what would be the most likely outcome? Are we talking an absolute bloodbath we were fortunate to avoid, or a breakthrough strategy?

Besides Air Mail planes that held one guy and a sack, did any cargo planes even exist during WW1 that could carry paratroopers?

I imagine you could make up for a lack of cargo planes by just using a bunch of those little single engine bi-planes they had back then. A few hundred planes + one paratrooper each would be just as effective as one cargo plane carrying a few hundred soldiers.

It probably would have been a bloodbath at first, as they worked out the kinks, but airborne troops ended up being a good resource in later wars, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t have helped greatly had they been utilized in WWI. Could have shaken up the trench warfare stalemate at the very least.

England had the Handley Page V/1500 bomber which carried 7500lbs of bombs. Substitute 10 crazy men with parachutes riding on the wings of each plane and, viola, airborne troops!

Ten 750 pound men?

Parachutes were used in WWI (video of observation balloonist bailing out).

I could see the Italians being the early-adapters for this one. Or Billy Mitchell (although I suspect the Harlem Hellfighters would be chosen as the experimental stick).

Early Army flyers were not given parachutes on the grounds that they might be inclined to bail out instead of saving their precious machines; were too bulky; or the high command simply didn’t believe that they were needed, depending on which account you read.

Many of them.