D-DAY. JUNE 6, 1944.
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This project was started after some thought about the famous T-5 Parachute of the U.S Paratroopers of WW2.
As a Historical Interpreter/Re-enactor for a number of years, it had been an ambition to obtain a parachute to go alongside my other original equipment. It occured to me that it would be far greater to able to wear a parachute as a D-Day, pre-jump demonstration.
After many months of looking at T-5 Parachutes, it was obvious that buying an original would not only be too costly, but also impracticle to wear such a delicate piece of WW2 history. So, it was then a case of finding and purchasing an exact reproduction of the T-5. This turned out to be just as difficult, so I decided not to bother, and continue as before.
Approximately a year later I was visiting a military shop in the Greater Manchester area of the UK, looking for original items, when I spotted what I thought to be a T-5 parachute. When I asked the shop owner if it was a WW2 parachute, he told me it was a modern parachute pack and not for sale. However, he then told me that he had a reproduction U.S parachute for sale, if I was interested?
I was very interested!
From the top of a high shelf he brought down an old looking parachute pack, explaining that it was a film prop, possibly from Band of Brothers. In amazement I looked carefully at the tattered T-5 parachute pack and noticed, on the harness written in black, the name RANDLEMAN.
This was enough confirmation for me!
Asking about the price, expected a rather large number, and was pleasantly surprised. I bought it!
Since then it has been confirmed that it is a BOB film prop, and I have worn it ocassionally at events. However because of wearing the pack, signs of light wear began to show. Not wanting to cause anymore damage, decided to find a new reproduction T-5, so I didn't have to worry about causing wear and tear.
Searching the internet and online shops proved to be quite a task, as most reproductions are not accurate. I eventually found a manufacturer of museum quality T-5 parachutes. However, they are in the U.S.
I contacted the Rigger Depot and ordered a pack lacing kit for my BOB T-5 and found them to be exceptionally professional. Their parachute packs are perfect, using original parts and materials, but unfortunately out of my price range, due to shipping and customs duty from the West USA, but is still worth every penny. Who knows, perhaps in the future?
Now knowing that purchasing an exact copy of the WW2 T-5 Parachute was something that was going to prove expensive, for me personally, it occured to me, perhaps I could make my own? Not as well made, but still look the part.
Wanting a copy of the Reliance Manufacturing T-5, but also one similar to the BOB parachute I owned, worked out that I could build the two parachute packs using genuine materials for less than the price of one cheap reproduction. A Reliance Mfg, T-5 & N.A.F.I. (National Automotive Fibres Inc) T-5.
Since then I have made three T-5 parachute packs including one with a quick-release harness, as well as a reserve parachute, plus added original silk canopys to the N.A.F.I, main pack and reserve. I have no intention of selling them or making parachutes to order, as the enjoyment of the challenge has been enough.