Static line parachute system comprising a tan-coloured canvas pack with fitted harness, containing the parachute canopy fitted within its own inner bag.
Britain adopted the 'X' type parachute following the various experiments of other nations, particularly after the spectacular use of German paratroopers during the early part of the Blitzkrieg era in Norway, Holland and Belgium. Churchill was insistent that the British Army should form its own specialist parachute arm, and in 1940 training began. Whilst the German RZ series of parachute used static line opening (connected to the airplane, as opposed to manual activation by ripcord), there was little ability for the man to steer his descent, him being connected to the canopy by a single web attachment. The X type, also activated by static line, however featured four lift webs (risers), two to each side, thus enabling him to steer and control his flight. When he landed the parachutist would activate the quick-release box and the harness webbing would fall away, thus enabling him to jettison the pack with speed.
So effective and reliable was the X type parachute that a second reserve chute was not necessary and it earned the accolade of being the best ever produced during the Second World War. The 28ft round canopy was initially made of white silk but this soon changed when a cotton weave fabric was adopted, known as Ramex, and this later appeared in a more practical brown, and also a speckled camouflage pattern. A 32ft canopy was developed for dropping agents in occupied Europe in 1941.