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Category Archives: History Through Spreadsheets
I recently watched a series of videos on WW2TV about the escape of 76 prisoners of war from Stalag Luft III in Germany (now Poland) — an event now known as The Great Escape. The story was immortalized in a large-budget Hollywood movie called The Great Escape. Continue reading
I recently noticed that combinedfleet.com has excellent summaries of the WW2 US submarine patrol reports that are very easy to scrape for data. These patrol reports are interesting because they provide accurate data as to the rate of torpedo firings by US submarines and some indications as to the mix of torpedoes being fired. Like all WW2 records, not every patrol recorded the weapons used and it is difficult to know how accurate the hit count is. Continue reading
Most of my naval history reading has been about the Pacific War. This means I have not read much about the Battle of the Mediterranean. I recently heard a historian (Drach) say that the UK lost 135 major warships in the Mediterranean Theater during WW2. I must admit that I was surprised at the high losses and decided to investigate further. This theater saw numerous major battles (examples like Taranto, Cape Matapan) and some real technology innovations (example in Figure 1). Continue reading
This post uses a combination of data from a Github repo by Jeffery Arnold that contains a fantastic amount of Civil War battle data and some Wikipedia scraping to generate similar tables. I should note that my casualty results are significantly different than Bonekemper's because there are large differences between sources of Civil War casualty data. The reasons behind these differences are complex, but the Arnold repo has data from a number of sources. I chose his Wikipedia file because it is easy to check where the data came from. Continue reading
I am a huge fan of Drachinifel's naval history channel. The other day, Drach was participating in the Armchair Admiral's program, during which he presented two charts on the Battle of the Atlantic that I have never seen before: (1) A chart of tonnage sunk by U-boats versus time and (2) a chart of U-boats sunk versus time. The unique aspect of the charts was that the data points were colored based on whether the Enigma cipher was broken at the time and whether centimetric (microwave) radar was deployed. These charts really got me thinking about the impact of technology on the struggle against U-boats. Continue reading
I just finished watching a series of videos on the Guadalcanal Campaign by Drachinifel, whose work is superb (Figure 2). The marines derisively referred to this campaign as Operation Shoestring because of the resource limitations. Things were no better for the sailors. Unlike many WW2 island campaigns, more sailors died in the battles than ground troops (link). The Allies, and in particular the US Navy (USN), had to learn the hard way that the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was a force that deserved respect. Many Allied ships were sunk while learning this lesson. Continue reading
I was watching a documentary on the Battle Off Samar on my favorite Youtube naval channel called Drachinifel. During this show, Drachinifel stated that the battleship Yamato displaced more tonnage than the entire Task Group 77.4.3 (call sign Taffy 3) defense force. I found this a remarkable statement and one that I could verify using a little bit of web scraping. Because one of the students I tutor use R, I thought this would be a good exercise to implement using R and Rmarkdown (a great report generation tool). Continue reading
In this post, I will examine the fuel consumption of the three most modern battleship classes that the US deployed during WW2: South Dakota, North Carolina, and Iowa classes. The data is scraped from the Hyperwar website, which is one of my favorite targets for data extraction. In this case, the Hyperwar page contains a set of tables from the US Navy document FTP 218: War Service Fuel Consumption of US Navy Surface Vessels. Continue reading
This post is going to look at the Destroyers for Bases deal between the US and UK. The bargain was an executive agreement announced on 2-Sep-1940 to trade 50 WW1-era US destroyers to the UK for US basing rights in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Newfoundland. I have seen the destroyers described as obsolete, which seemed odd for ~20-year-old destroyers that nominally have 30 year lifetime (typical for most US Navy ships). Continue reading
During my readings on the Pacific War, I often see the chart shown in Figure 1. I decided to do a bit of digging and find the source data for this chart in the hope of making a version of this chart that is a bit clearer and easier to use. Continue reading