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Category Archives: Military History
Many years ago, at the start of my career, I worked with an excellent safety engineer who had served in WW2 as a fighter pilot in Europe with the US Army Air Corps (USAAC). You could tell that flying was the love of his life. Though we were working on naval weapons systems, our lunchtime talks often focused on his experiences flying aircraft during the war. His war service began in a P-47 (Figure 1) and his unit later transitioned to the P‑51 (Figure 2). Continue reading
During the routine demolition of an old de Havilland Aircraft building in 2017, a treasure trove of 20K aperture cards (a microfilmed archive) was uncovered that contained plans for the Mosquito fighter-bomber (Figure 1). These plans have been lost since Mosquito production ended in 1950. Continue reading
I recently read a book called Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War that documents the life of John Boyd, a fighter pilot who was critical to putting fighter aircraft design on a firm mathematical footing now called Energy-Maneuvering Theory. He was a key member of the Fighter Mafia, a group of military and industry experts in the 1970s that advocated for a lightweight fighter alternative to the large, heavy fighters like the F-111 and MiG-25. Their concepts played a significant role in the final designs of the F-16 and F-18. Continue reading
I recently needed to generate a graph in Excel that combined a column chart with a timeline. The graph turned out well and I decided to share my work here. As my original work is proprietary, I will share the technique here using some US Navy (USN) air operations data from WW2. Continue reading
I just finished reading The Battle of Surigao Strait by Anthony Tully, a battle that saw the final clash of battleships. For a battleship aficionado, the climax of the fight was the contest between two Japanese battleships and six US battleships, where five of the six US battleships had been sunk or heavily damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack – only the USS Mississippi had escaped the carnage of Pearl Harbor. These were old battleships (Table 1) with two having been commissioned during WW1 and the rest shortly after the WW1 ended. Continue reading
I have been working on improving my web scraping abilities by analyzing WW2 data. I have focused on topics related to how the US took the 14th largest military in the world and in roughly 18 months turned it into a military that could fight anywhere in the world. In this post, I want to look in detail at how war materials were delivered to beaches around the world using a vessel called a Landing Ship Tank (LST). I have wanted to write about the LST for a while, but the web data was distributed on about 1200 separate pages – one for each ship. While a Python script would have worked nicely, I wanted to try gathering the data without doing any programming. I found some software that did a good job automating this task, which I will discuss later in this post. Continue reading
When I was a boy, I read the memoir To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy and was very impressed with his accomplishments as an infantry soldier during WW2 (Figure 1). It is a very American tale – a dirt poor teenager from family with a dead mother and missing father accomplishes amazing feats through sheer determination and force of will. He later starred in a movie version of his book that is well worth watching. I should mention that the book tells a better tale than the movie. Continue reading
I have been pulling together some WW2 data for an article that I want to publish in the next year or two. During my research, I have noticed that the British specified the caliber of their artillery by the nominal mass of the projectile (lbm or pound mass) and not by the bore diameter. I was curious as to how the British came to this particular system and decided to investigate further. As with many military standards, it traces its history back hundreds of years. Continue reading
I was watched a particularly interesting lecture by Victor Davis Hanson on his new book The Second World Wars. While Hanson is generally thought of as an ancient Greek scholar, he does an excellent job of analyzing WW2 from a novel set of viewpoints: ideas, air, water, earth, fire, and people. Continue reading
I just read a news article about an old moored training mine washing up on a North Carolina beach (Figure 1). I am amazed at the number of mines that still wash up on beaches around the world. Figure 1 shows the mine that washed up on a North Carolina beach recently. Stories like this seem to happen frequently after severe storms. Fortunately, this training unit (i.e. inert) did not pose a hazard to the people who came upon it, but some explosive-laden mines still wash up on beaches (example). Continue reading