Monday, December 12, 2011

Firepower Breakdown - AC-130U Spectre

The AC-130U model Spectre. This particular aircraft is in operation with the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

The primary mission of the AC-130U Spectre is to deliver precision firepower in support of Close Air Support (CAS) for special operations and conventional ground forces. CAS is defined as air action against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces and that require detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces. The Spectre can provide accurate fire support with limited collateral damage and can remain on station for extended periods of time. These activities are normally carried out under cover of darkness.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bomber Breakdown - Petlyakov Pe-8

The Petlyakov Pe-8 was a Soviet heavy bomber designed before World War II, and the only four-engine bomber the USSR built during the war. Originally designated the TB-7, the aircraft was renamed the Pe-8 after its primary designer, Vladimir Petlyakov, died in a plane crash in 1942. Supply problems, inexperienced pilots and crews (compared to the pilots of the Luftwaffe), and persistent engine problems heavily hindered the bomber's effectiveness throughout the war. Image and specs excerpted from Allied Bombers 1939-1945 by Chris Chant. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From the Pages - The USS Dale at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

By Michael Keith Olson, author of Tales from a Tin Can: The USS Dale from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay.
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Pilots aboard Nagumo’s six carriers awoke very early from what surely must have been a nervous sleep. Yet, despite all of the anxiety, Flight Commander Fuchida found Lieutenant Commander Shigeharu Murata, leader of the torpedo bombers who would soon strike Pearl Harbor’s battleship row, hungrily wolfing down a hearty breakfast. Murata called out, “Good morning, Commander Fuchida. Honolulu sleeps!”

“How do you know?” Fuchida asked.

“The Honolulu radio plays soft music,” Murata responded. “Everything is fine!”    

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

From the Pages - Misdiagnosing the Threat to Pearl Harbor

By William Hopkins, from The Pacific War: The Strategy, Politics, and Players That Won the War
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The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came as a tremendous shock to the American public. Most believed that if war came it would be against Germany and Italy, and most Americans failed to recognize that the United States was unprepared to fight an aggressive war. Most believed the nation was much stronger militarily than was the case and that no nation would dare attack. War became inevitable with the change of command in Tokyo on 16 October 1941. With Emperor Hirohito’s blessing, Gen. Hideki Tojo, the Japanese army’s strongest advocate of war and the main opponent of withdrawal from China, became the prime minister. He relieved Prince Fuminaro Konoe. In his letter of resignation, Konoe pointed out that on four separate occasions he had sought to withdraw troops in order to preserve peace with the United States, while Tojo had opposed both the action and its purpose. “With the China incident unresolved, he, as a loyal subject of the emperor, could not take on the responsibilities of entering into a huge new war whose outcome could not be foreseen.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Military Snapshot - USS Missouri Celebrating Anniversary of Japanese Surrender

The last battleship built by the United States, the USS Missouri was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II. In this photo, the Missouri's crew celebrates the fourth anniversary of the Japanese surrender on her decks. Turret two is trained as it was on September 2, 1945. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy, from USS Missouri at War by Kit & Carolyn Bonner.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Warbird Breakdown - Lavochkin La-7

The Lavochkin La-7 was a piston-engined Soviet fighter developed during World War II by the Lavochkin Design Bureau (OKB). It was the final development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5, and the last in a family of aircraft that had begun with the LaGG-1 in 1938. The La-7 was felt by its pilots to be at least the equal of any German piston-engined fighter and played a significant role as both a bomber and fighter in the Soviet Union’s push west in mid-1944. Image and specs excerpted from Allied Fighter 1939-1945 by Chris Chant.