Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From the Pages - Bloody Nose Ridge (Part 2 of 2)

The following is the second of a two-part excerpt (see Part 1 here) from Dick Camp's Last Man Standing in which men from the legendary 1st Marine Regiment detail their desperate -- and deadly -- struggle to take the now-infamous "Bloody Nose Ridge" on Peleliu Island on D + 2, September 17, 1944. 

In this excerpt, the 1st Marine Regiment's movement up the West Road is brought to a abrupt halt between Hills 200 and 210, a Japanese defensive point that relied heavily upon withering machine gun crossfire that would result in staggering casualties for American forces. For "Chesty" Puller's Marines, this engagement would represent some of the hairiest combat they would see throughout the entire war in the Pacific.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the Pages - Bloody Nose Ridge (Part 1 of 2)

The Battle of Peleliu, codenamed Operation Stalemate II, remains one of the most iconic, and controversial, battles in U.S. Marine Corps history. For the Marines of the 1st Marine Regiment, Peleliu would prove especially harrowing. Led into battle by the legendary Col. "Chesty" Puller, the 1st Marine Regiment would suffer unimaginable losses throughout the earliest days of the battle -- losses that would occur on the coral beaches and heavily fortified ridges of an island that resembled Hell on Earth.

The following account from Last Man Standing is the first of a two-part excerpt detailing the 1st Marine Regiment's desperate -- and deadly -- struggle to take the now-infamous "Bloody Nose Ridge" on D + 2, September 17, 1944. It was here that Puller would lead his men in numerous bloody assaults, with every attack quickly neutralized by strategically placed Japanese ridge fortifications supporting one another with deadly crossfire.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bomber Breakdown - Douglas A-20G Havoc

The Douglas A-20G Havoc served as a widely used medium bomber in the U.S. Ninth Army Air Force from 1943-45. The Havoc played a significant role in support of U.S. ground forces during and after the Overlord invasion of Normandy. The bomber would also play a role on the Eastern Front (as many A-20Gs were delivered to the Soviet Union through Lend-Lease) and the Pacific Theater of Operations (used on low-level sorties in the New Guinea campaign). Image and specs excerpted from Allied Bombers 1939-1945 by Chris Chant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nine Principal Missions of Special Operations

Current percentage chart of SOCOM service forces.
In the post-9/11 world, the need for special operations forces dramatically increased. With the creation of the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) in 2006, Marines officially became a part of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Initially drawn from the ranks of Force Recon companies, these highly skilled and combat-proven Leathernecks joined their spec ops brethren in taking the war to al-Qaeda and the Taliban in American's global war on terrorism. The following is a list of the principal missions assigned to MARSOC and the other special ops forces.

Monday, November 21, 2011

From the Pages - The German Aces Speak

Generalleutnant Walter Krupinski was one of those men destined to always tempt fate. His fatherly approach and genuine concern for the welfare of his pilots, as well as his respect for captured enemy pilots, illustrated his humanity in a world where savagery was the order of the day. He became a teacher to many pilots, the most notable being the future “Ace of Aces” Erich Hartmann, who learned well from “Krupi” and other experts in JG.52.

By the time Krupinski was awarded the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross) on October 29, 1942, he had been credited with shooting down 53 Allied aircraft. His final score of 197 could have been much higher, but he never claimed a probable victory or argued over a disputed claim, always giving the victory to the other man. Krupinski probably gave away more than 30 potential victories in that manner.

In the following excerpt from The German Aces SpeakKrupinski recalls meeting, and eventually taking to the skies with, Hartmann.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Warbird Breakdown - Bell P-39L Airacobra

The Bell P-39 Airacobra was one of the principal American fighter aircraft in service when the United States entered World War II. It was the first fighter in history with a tricycle undercarriage and the first to have the engine installed in the center fuselage, behind the pilot. As a key fighter aircraft in the US Twelfth Air Force, the P-39 played an instrumental role in the skies above North Africa in 1942-43. Image and specs excerpted from Allied Fighter 1939-1945 by Chris Chant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SpaceShipOne - The Ten Phases of Flight

In April of 2003, a company called Scaled Composites lifted the veil of secrecy from a longtime research program and introduced SpaceShipOne—the world’s first commercially manned spacecraft. The program included an airborne launcher (the White Knight), a space ship (SpaceShipOne), rocket propulsion, avionics, simulator, and full ground support. SpaceShipOne's suborbital spaceflight could be broken down into ten different phases:

1. Liftoff of SpaceShipOne mated to White Knight
2. Captive-carry to launch altitude
3. SpaceShipOne separation from White Knight
4. Supersonic boost to space
5. Coast to apogee
6. Freefall from apogee
7. Supersonic reentry into the atmosphere
8. Descent with feather still up
9. Gliding descent back to runway
10. Horizontal landing

Diagram courtesy of Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC and SpaceShipOne, a Paul G. Allen Project, from Burt Rutan's Race to Space by Dan Linehan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bomber Breakdown - Fairey Barracuda Mk II

The Fairey Barracuda was a British carrier-borne torpedo- and dive bomber used during World War II, the first of its type used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm to be fabricated entirely from metal. It was introduced as a replacement for the Fairey Swordfish, although the Swordfish remained largely preferred by many pilots. Image and specs excerpted from Allied Bombers 1939-1945 by Chris Chant.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Military Snapshot - Crossing the Ourthe River One Half-track at a Time

During the Battle of the Bulge, Houffalize, Belgium proved to be a strategic location. Specifically, Generals Montgomery and Patton met up there, Montgomery coming from the north and Patton from the south, in their counter-attack against the German forces remaining in the area. In this photo, a U.S. Army half-track crosses a temporary bridge over the Ourthe in the war-torn Belgian city of Houffalize, January 1945. Photo courtesy of Associated Press, from Voices of the Bulge: Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge by Martin King and Michael Collins.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beyond the Book - Q & A with Colin D. Heaton, author of "The German Aces Speak"

During World War II, the Third Reich’s fighter pilots destroyed some 70,000 enemy aircraft during the war, with approximately 45,000 destroyed on the Eastern Front.

In his riveting new book The German Aces Speak, author and historian Colin D. Heaton sheds a fascinating, long-overdue light on four of Germany’s most honorable and skilled fighter pilots from World War II. It is a refreshingly in-depth look at the oft-misunderstood German legends who took to the skies, not for their F├╝hrer, but for their country.

Heaton recently took a moment to sit down with Zenith Press to discuss his new book, the larger-than-life German aces he was able to interview, and the wealth of first-hand stories that fill his new book's pages.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bomber Breakdown - Short Sunderland GR. Mk III

The Short Sunderland GR. Mk III was a British flying boat patrol bomber developed for the Royal Air Force (RAF) by Short Brothers. It was one of the most powerful and widely used flying boats throughout World War II, and was involved in countering the threat posed by German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. Image and specs excerpted from Allied Bombers 1939-1945 by Chris Chant.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Military Snapshot - Two Brave Souls, a Bed Sheet and a .30-cal

During the Battle of the Bulge, details such as personal camouflage and foxhole cover could mean the different between life and death. In this photo, two GIs use bed sheets as camouflage for themselves and their water-cooled .30-caliber machine gun. While Hitler belittled the fighting abilities of the American soldier, the German soldier soon found how tough they could be during the Battle of the Bulge. Photo courtesy of the National Archives, from War Stories of the Battle of the Bulge by Michael Green & James D. Brown.