Sunday, August 28, 2011

From Christie to T-72: T-34/76

The A-32 was scheduled for production in early 1940. At that time the Soviet army was in turmoil, searching for reasons why their victory over Finland took so long to materialize, and why so many lives were lost. Out of this tumult came the KV-1 and the A-32, now renamed T-34. Unfortunately for the Kharkov design team, Koshkin, T-34's designer, fell ill and soon died. The T-34 was produced in moderate numbers until June 22, 1941. On that day, Nazi Germany invaded Russia. Almost immediately, it was deemed imperative that major factories in the USSR, including those in Kharkov, had to be transported across the country to prevent them from falling into Nazi hands. So the Soviets set about the task of moving the factories all the way to the Urals. Once this was complete, they almost immediately went into high gear producing tanks, especially KVs and T-34s, aircraft, and all the components of modern warfare. Almost from their first day in combat, T-34s proved themselves better in combat than all German tanks of the day. The Germans were stunned by the new vehicles, Field Marshal Von Kleist called them the best tanks in the world. They were just what the Soviet Union needed. They were actively involved in the Winter offensive of 1941/42, rolling over the snow while the German tanks and artillery pieces were too frozen even to shoot back. They were produced not in thousands, like most German vehicles, but in tens of thousands, becoming the very symbol of Soviet resistance to the foe.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Christie to T-72: A-20, A-32 and the origins of T-34

Now I shall return to a subject which I have examined before, the T-34. But first, I shall give some background on its development history.This revolutionary design sprang out of projects to replace the BT-7, most of which used that tank as a basis. But two designs in particular stood out from the rest, and the competition soon narrowed down to these two, the A-20 and the A-32. Both used the christie suspension; and both used sloped armor. This was a relatively bold move for the mid 1930s, as while most tanks used sloping only in the front of the vehicle, these designs would have sloped armor covering the entire upper hull. While both vehicles were revolutionary in concept, the A-20 had thin armor and used the BT-7's 45mm gun. The A-32, however, was a different story. It had very well-sloped armor, which was also quite thick, and it also used a 76mm gun capable of penetrating every tank of its day with almost no exceptions. The importance of this in my view requires a bit of explanation. During the Spanish Civil War (it would drag on until 1939), countries such as France and Germany started to design tanks to deal with the Krupp 37mm anti-tank gun, but in Russia, Stalin's purges had decimated the main tank design team, and new members were hired. One of these, a man named Michail Koshkin, decided that what his country needed was a tank that would not only defeat the 37mm threat, but would also defeat whatever new AT gun was made to deal with the new generation of tanks. And thus the A-32 was born. As a consequence of its revolutionary design, the tank was accepted for service as the T-34.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chr-T72: BT-7

The BT-7 was the ultimate evolution of its series. It was in many ways an upgraded BT-5, with a new turret and better armor ( Although in the first tanks produced the old model turret was used). It was utilized throughout the Great Patriotic War, as World War II was termed by the Soviets. The tank's main fault was the fact that it had a petrol engine, which burned very easily. This problem was rectified by the BT-7M, which went into production from 1940 onwards. The infantry support version mounted a 76mm howitzer in a modified turret. The BT-7 was phased out of production after Operation Barbarossa(the German invasion of Russia) decimated stocks of the tanks, although as previously noted they did not go out of service until almost the end of the war.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From Christie to T-72, part 2

J. Walter Christie was just one of many US tank designers vying to get their vehicles accepted by the War Department. But Christie turned out to be the most outstanding of them all, with his designs almost immediately accepted for service ( although none of them went into full production). Perhaps the very best of these was the M1931. Part of what made this vehicle such a winner was its revolutionary new suspension, which allowed for better mobility and speed than any other type at that time. It also allowed for the tracks to be taken off for ease of transport. But perhaps the most interesting quality of these tanks was the interest other countries, particularly Russia, took in them. Very soon that nation had bought a number of them, albeit turretless. These were accepted by the Red Army and designated BT-1 or "fast tank" in russian (although their crews took to calling them "betkas" or beetles). And those are the subject of the next post.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

From Christie to T-72: the evolution of the M1931

In this series, I shall explore the evolution of the Christie suspension tank from the M1931 to the T-72 and beyond.( Note: although all Soviet tanks after T34 were not equipped with the Christie suspension, most were descended from the T34 design, which did.) I will examine some tanks outside of the Soviet family tree, but mostly I shall focus on the Russian machines. But before examining these and other vehicles, I shall explain the background for these inventions. The military world of the 1920s was a strange place. The First World War had only just ended, and Military theorists were still trying to get some meaning out of that war's battles. How to break through an enemy's trenches, for instance, was still up in the air for most people. The proper use of, even definition of, the tank was not clearly defined, especially in countries with little or no wartime experience in their use such as the United States. In that time, there were two main theories on how to use tanks: the British one and the French one. The French treated them as mobile artillery platforms for use in support of the infantry, while the British treated them as the next level of cavalry, with heavy and light vehicles. But a universal concept of both theories was the idea of multiple turrets. In the United States, however, these theories had almost no meaning, namely because the US had little or no tanks! Even the Russians had a more solid program for the type. Many inventors, like J. Walter Christie, thought up their respective designs, most of them failures. But one of them was a triumph, if not in the US, then in foreign countries. This brings us to the subject of my next post.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus

In this, the last installment of my "the Panzers" series I shall tell of the Super heavy projects of the late war era, specifically the Maus. This was a Porsche designed vehicle of gigantic proportions, carrying a 128mm gun as main and the Panther's 75mm gun as primary and secondary armaments, respectively. It was the heaviest tank ever built, weighing in at 188000 kg. It was the only super heavy vehicle to enter service (albeit as a prototype). It shared the Kingtiger's  slowness due to to an under-powered engine or excessive weight. However, it was an even better moving pillbox than the Kingtiger, being much more heavily armored. Only two prototypes were finished by the time the Soviets reached their factory, although there were more in various stages of construction. Both vehicles were destroyed by their owners, although it is said that for a time they played an active role in defending the premises. One of the turrets was put on the other's hull and the completed tank was moved to Russia for evaluation purposes, and can be seen on display in the Kubinka tank museum outside Moscow. While it was the only one built, the Maus was not the only super heavy model to be designed. Germany had designs out for the Panzer VII Lowe, the E-100, the Panzers IX and X, and the P-1000 Ratte. the last tank was envisioned as a so-called Landcruiser, being armed with multiple Flak mounts, a 128mm gun, and a two gun turret similar to those on the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Power would come via two U-boat diesels. These monster tanks were the last fantasies of the German high command, and reflected the ever-decreasing hopes for victory. The fact the the Maus was even built is a testimony to the utter lunacy of the desperate German army, and to that of Ferdinand Porsche. EPILOGUE. On May 9, 1945, the war in the west ended. Germany lay in ruins and was divvied up between the victorious Allies. Neither side accepted her great tank designs, preferring their own vehicles. So it was that the tale of Germany's WWII tanks ended, and although some, mainly Pz. IVs, soldiered on into the 1960s, most of the remaining vehicles were sold to museums. However, one of Germany's vehicles kept going and going. The Hetzer, descended from the Pz. 38t, was kept in production by the Czechs into the '50s, and was used by some countries for a time afterwards. However, the countries that operated them gradually phazed them out of service, and by the '70s they too were just another chapter in Tank history.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Panzerkampfwagen VI Kingtiger

While the Tiger I was a fearsome weapon, it had many problems. So, the Germans decided to make an even bigger and better armored tank. This Led to the Kingtiger, or Royal Tiger. This tank used sloped armor and an even more powerful version of the 88mm gun. However, its terrible mobility and fuel consumption rate made it almost useless. It was first used in the 1944 Ardennes offensive ( Battle of the Bulge)and at first seemed a total success, but they were soon stopped by Allied resistance and a lack of fuel. Overall, the Kingtiger was most effective for propaganda purposes, as it terrified the enemy. Like the huge super heavy models that followed it, Kingtiger was almost more of a moving pillbox than an actual tank.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Panzers: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I

The Tiger was built, like the Panther, in response to the Soviet T-34. But, unlike the Panther, it did not have sloped armour, making up for the defect in strength and thickness rather than sloping. Its armament of one 88mm gun in a revolving turret made it one of the most feared tanks of all time. Soviet Tankers, however, figured out that a Tiger could be killed in a ramming attack, as the T-34 was also very fast. In action, the tiger was a formidable defensive weapon, as its gun could kill any tank that the allies could bring up, the only Allied tank with superior firepower and armour being the Soviet IS-3 Pike, which arrived on the battlefield too late to have any noticeable effect. After 1945, the Tiger was, to my knowledge, never used again, and some Tigers can be seen in various museums around the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Panzers: Panzerkampfwagen V Panther

The Panzer V was designed in 1942 to counter the Russian T-34. The winning proposal, by  MAN, had a turret centered relatively far back in the hull and sloped armor on the front, sides and turret sides. its main armament was a long 75mm gun. Its main problems laid in the unreliable and complicated engine and suspension, meaning the tank was prone to breakdowns. THE PANTHER IN SERVICE. The Pzkpfw V saw its first major action at the battle of Kursk, where most of the tanks broke down. Many of the problems of the early -D models were corrected in the most common model, the Ausf. G. This model gave excellent service, and was in many ways at least marginally better than its closest competitor, the up-gunned T-34/85. In 1945, a new Panther using the new small turret was planned, but never went into service. However, the Patton museum of Cavalry and Armor in Ft. Knox, KY, has one Panther II fitted with an Ausf. G turret.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Panzers: Jagdpanzer 38t Hetzer

The Panzerkampfwagen 38t had so many variants that I shall not be able to concentrate on them all. So, I have decided to write about one of the last variants, the Jagdpanzer 38t. This was a small, low tank destroyer armed with a 75mm gun and a radio operated machine gun. Originally designated as an artillery vehicle, the Jagdpanzer (tank hunter) branch of the German army took over the project, the first vehicles rolling out of the factory in spring 1944. They were well protected with all sides being sloped above the tracks, although the front plate was thicker than the rear and sides. They were probably the most effective German tank destroyer of the war. Thankfully, they arrived too little and too late to do any real damage to the Allied war effort. After the war, many more were produced for the Swiss, Czechoslovak and Swedish armies, some of which were used into the 1960s.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Panzer IV (part 2)

The first model of Panzer IV to have the new long 75mm gun was the ausf. F2. Besides the new addition of the long gun, the F2 differed from all previous models except the F1 by having a front plate that extended the full width of the hull front. Next came the G and H models which were fitted with the Side skirting armor was added for the protection of the chassis and turret. The last model, the H, last saw service as an anti-tank weapon. Overall, the 'IV was the best tank built for the Germans during World War II, as it was reliable, powerful, and easy to produce. The Panzerkampfwagen IV was in service from the beginning of the war until its end, serving wherever the German army went.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Panzers: Panzer IV pt. I

In 1934, Germany ordered some of its most prominent vehicle designers to make their prototypes for a medium support tank armed with a 75mm howitzer. The winner of this competition was Krupp, whose vehicle after a few experimental models was put into production as the Panzer IV ausf. B. These were to serve with distinction in the Polish, French and Desert campaigns, along with the Ausf. C and other short barreled models. The short-barreled models seemed just the thing for combat, and yet when they were put into action in the western desert, and particularly Russia, it was discovered that their armament was to small. So, Germany was forced to start work on a new Panzer IV with a longer gun. 


TO BE CONTINUED.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts

The The Ancient and Honorable Artillery co. of Massachusetts are a military fraternity society formed in 1638. One of the first colonial Militias, they were first referred to as "Artillery" in 1690, and were called "Ancient and Honorable" in 1737. In 1746, they transferred from Province house to Faneuil Hall, their headquarters ever since, with a few exceptions for when the Hall was being enlarged or restored. A member of the Company read out the Declaration of Independence for the first time from the balcony of the Old State House, and the Ancients served valiantly in the Revolution. Unfortunately, when the militia system was effectively abolished, the Company was not included in the newly formed National Guard. In more recent history, the Ancients (of which John F. Kennedy was a member) bought two bombers in the Second World War to serve in Europe. The Ancients are still around and have a lovely museum in Boston's Faneuil Hall( no, there are not two Faneuil halls, at least to my knowledge), which is highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Panzers: Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) and 35(t)

The story of these panzers begins in 1930s Czechoslovakia. The Czech army needed a new tank for its arsenal, so designers went to work on the tank that would eventually become the LT-35. It was apparently an unreliable vehicle, and it was to be replaced by another vehicle, the LT-38, which was armed with one 37mm antitank gun and two machine guns. However, Germany intervened by taking over Czechoslovakia. Instead of discarding the vehicles the Germans kept them and even continued the production of LT-38s( now Panzer 38t) until 1942! Both vehicles saw extensive service in the Polish, French and early Russian campaigns. Both were phased out in 1942-43 due to inadequate armor and firepower.

NOTE: Although the Panzer 38t was phased out of service, the Jagdpanzer version went on to serve after world war two, and the Swiss only stopped using them in 1970! That vehicle will be described in a later post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dunkirk and Strasbourg

Today I am going to write about the French battleships Dunkirk and Strasbourg (sorry, no panzers). They were built in the early 1930s to counter the German Scheer class, being armed with eight 13 inch guns, as opposed to the German's six 11 inch. They had a strange design as battleships (or rather battlecruisers) go, with their guns being concentrated in the forward part of the vessel in two turrets, with four guns each. They served in the chase for the Graf Spee, where if they had managed to catch her their superior armament would have probably meant a French victory (as it was, the Spee sunk herself outside Montevideo). Interned by the Vichy government after the German conquest, both participated in the battle of Mers-el-Kebir, Strasbourg being the only ship to escape the British that day. After Dunkirk was repaired, the French sank both ships at Toulon to prevent the Germans from getting their hands on them. Both were scrapped after the war.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011 special

On this day in 1861, at 4:30 in the morning, rebel batteries opened fire on the federal stronghold of Fort Sumter, kicking off the American Civil War. This long and bloody conflict, which would lead to the liberation of the long-oppressed African slaves, would be the the most bloody war in American history. Over 600,000 people died as a result of the war, and places like Shiloh and Gettysburg were forever etched into the American conscience.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Panzers: Panzerkampfwagen III

In 1935, the Wermacht issued a specification for a medium tank that would serve as the main combat vehicle of that army. In  1937, a proposal by Daimler-Benz was accepted as the Panzer III ausf. A. The panzer III was a versatile tank that was one of the German army's best vehicles until it was eclipsed by the Tiger, Panther and  Panzer IV ausf F2 At first armed with a 37mm gun, its armament was eventually upgraded to 50mm. Some examples were also converted to the so-called U-panzers to be used in operation Sealion. As that operation was never really put into motion, they were used in the crossing of the river Bug in the invasion of Russia.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Panzers: part 3: NBFZ

The NBFZ was the first German foray into the world of heavy tanks since WWI( with the exception of the Grosstraktor experimental series of vehicles).  They were, like their British and Russian counterparts,  multi-turreted vehicles. They had one 75 mm gun and two machine guns in separate turrets, the Krupp version also mounting a coaxial 37 mm. Only the prototypes were built, but all were used in the Norwegian campaign.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Panzerkampfwagen II (The panzers)

The first real German combat tank was actually intended to be a reconnaissance tank armed with a 20mm cannon. The Panzer II was a relatively good tank by early 1930s standards, but by 1939 it was outdated. Nevertheless, just like the Panzer I it was forced into a frontline role. After more suitable tanks appeared in quantity, the Panzer II went over to being a reconnaissance vehicle. By the latter half of WWII, it had been increasingly shown that the light tank was obsolete and that armored cars could do the job better, and thus it was removed from service as a gun tank. However, some successful variants were kept in service up until the end of the war.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Panzers: part 1

I am going to write a series of posts about the German Panzers of World War Two, from the lowly Panzer I to the mammoth Panzer VIII Maus.  Our story begins in 1919, in the Palace of Versailles. One of the terms to the treaty that ended the Great War was that Germany could not have tanks. So, in the 1920s, the German Army came up with a loophole in the law. They used cars with cardboard armor, training for a time when they would be able to use real tanks. So, when the Nazis first came to power, one of their first acts after they declared the treaty of Versailles extinct was to send out a proposal for a new tank. The accepted proposal was a light tank armed with two machine-guns. The Panzerkampfwagen( armored vehicle) I had a two man crew and pitifully light armor. As shown by its weak armament, this tank was really only meant to be a training vehicle, but in the Spanish Civil War and the first stages of the Second World War it was forced to serve combat duty. The British and French armor used in the 1940 campaign far outclassed it, and once enough medium tanks were available, it was quickly phazed out of frontline service, although it was retained until about 1943 as a training tank. ( actually, the date is a guess. Also, some variants of Panzer I were used as infantry assault tanks until 1944!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

SMS Frithjof

Today, I will report on the history of the SMS Frithjof, a coast defense ship of the Siegfried class built for the Kaiserlichmarine( a bit unexpected, isn't it?). She was built in 1891-2 and was one of the first modern battleships built for the German Navy, along with her sister ships and the Brandenburg class. She served in the Baltic as a relatively short-ranged vessel. Decommisioned in the fall of 1919, she had served through the First World War seeing no major action. After the war, she was bought by a Hamburg shipowner along with the ships of the Odin class and wass converted to a cargo ship. She was sold for scrap in 1930. Follow the link to see an excellent model of Frithjof's sister ship, Beowulf:http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=4332225 .Press up to see some more pictures.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The naval arms race of the 1930s

In 1932, the French Navy built two battlecruisers, Dunkirk and Strasbourg, to counter the German pocket battleship class, the Admiral Scheers, and the arms race had been initiated. The French ships were quickly trumped by an Italian class, the Littorios, to which the French responded with a class of improved and larger Dunkirks, the Richelieu class. While all this was happening, the British struggled to keep up, and while the KGVs( King George the Fifth class) were scheduled to be built with 16 inch guns, to speed up build-time they were only armed with 14-inch. The Germans, meanwhile, had been doing quite well, and had built the Scharnhorst class of 11 inch gunned battlecruisers.  They had also started the Bismark class of true-blue battleships. Obviously, an attentive observer should have seen that this build-up was a direct prelude to war. 







P.S. There was one class that I did not mention that finished off the arms-race. I'll leave you to figure out what it is...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Flying tank

And now for something completely different. Over the past day(Feb. 23,2011), I have fixed plastic target bags to some small Lego tanks and have dropped them from a ledge. At first, the tests were unsuccessful. But test 3 was (almost) successful, and I have high hopes for tests 4 and 5. The tank I am using is a Renault FT 17, the first tank ever built with a revolving turret( actually, the first tank to be used in action with a revolving turret, as the No. 1 Lincoln had a dummy turret fitted, but as the first tank ever built it never went into action). all modern tanks stem from this French design and from the T-34.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Game!

Most of you will probably believe that I am insane after reading this post. The reason will probably be the fact that I like to set up little green army men and knock them down. Usually, this is done with friends who make little fortresses of their own, each one trying to destroy the other's army, but this has its problems. One of these is the lack of formalized rules. Another is that it is up to the player to decide what their fortress looks like and to choose the troops in their army. But, I thought to myself, what would happen if the scenarios and troop formations were taken from a historical context? So, I have envisioned something of the sort involving 12 battles, including two test battles( this would involve formalized rules, of course). They would be: Test campaigns: Lexington and Concord. Regular campaigns: Boyne, Blenheim, Saratoga, Jena, Auerstedt, Quatre-Bras( a lead-up battle to waterloo between the French and the Anglo-Dutch), Shiloh, Antietam,Chicamauga, and the seige of Port Arthur. Note that none of these battles involve tanks or air units. I am exited about trying out the test scenarios, and have high hopes for it working. Signing out, Christopher.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

RANDOM SUBMARINE TIME!

It's random submarine time! Today, our sub is a United States O- class boat named O-12. She was one of the later o-boats, made by the Lake Torpedo boat co. in Bridgeport CT. She was commissioned in October of 1918, less than a month before the end of the First World War, and saw no action. Her military career was largely uneventful, although she did win a medal for accurate gunnery. In 1931, she was sold to a research company for an arctic expedition. The specially modified sub tried to reach its destination but was caught in a storm. But, after another failed attempt she finally reached her destination, filing the Woods Hole Oceanographic society's first report.After the expedition, she was scuttled in a Norwegian fjord outside Bergen, where her wreck lies today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Versailles and the end of the beginning

In the late summer of 1919, the peoples of Europe (with the exception of the Russians, whose country was undergoing civil war) rejoiced. Although for some the joy was only temporary, like the Germans and former Austro-Hungarians who also suffered various insurgencies, the First World War was over. Europe was devastated, but survived, and people expected to go  on with their lives as they had before the war. And only twenty years after peace was attained, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. What had gone wrong? What follows is my point of view. In 1918, Europe had suffered through 4 years of horrible war. People were desperate for peace, as were their governments. Although to their citizens it did not look like it, the central powers had been beaten into the dust. But, after the treaty was signed, the German army marched through their country's streets like a victorious force. The German people did not think that the war was really over. To them, they had been tortured by the Allies and betrayed by anti German forces at home, but not beaten. So, I would like to argue that the terms were not to hard on the Germans, rather they were too weak. The Germans were convinced they weren't beaten, but that minorities inside Germany had betrayed their country! This obviously left a spot for anti-minority groups like the Nazis to gain power, and thus in my opinion led to the Second World War. As Marshal Foch said, his was not peace, this was only an armistice of twenty years.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Airplane

 I have made a new airplane! She is a fighter, and appears in photos 2 and 3. The entryway is a trap door like mechanism, as can (sort of ) be seen in the third picture. The first photo is of my bomber, Old Faithful. It can carry twelve small bombs and various defensive guns. The new aircraft has one missile and four heavy machine guns. It is based on a canceled 1950s design, the XF 103. This bizarre craft looked like a rocket right out of a '50s serial, and unfortunately only got to the metal-wood dummy phase. Signing out, Christopher. (PS, if you want to see the trap door arrangement, I believe you can zoom in on the picture.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Number thirteen class and The Hoods that never were

In this the third episode of my series, I will talk about the Number thirteen class, the first Japanese warship with a planned 18 inch armament, and the Admiral class of British battlecruisers. First, the Japanese ships. The #13s were to have a planned armament of eight 18-inch guns in four twin turrets, the first Japanese battleships to be so powerfully armed. They were the counter to the planned British N3 class battleships. They would have been heavily armored, but they probably would have been quite fast as well. The Admiral class of British battlecruisers were planned before Jutland, and thus were not armored heavily enough. There were to have been four ships of the class, each armed with eight 15-inch guns in the same layout as the #13s. Their names were to be Anson, Howe, Rodney and the famous(and infamous) Hood, the only one of the lot to be completed. The Hood was fast but very lightly armored, a fact that would have disastrous consequences. But I'll save that for next time... 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gallipoli

In early 1915, the Allies were in a very bad way. The Russians were being routed back to their own country because of the battle of Tannenburg, and on the western front things had settled down into the trench warfare that has come to define the First World War. The Entente desperately needed a diversion, and that came with the entry of the war by Ottoman Turkey. The Turks, who were clinging to a crumbling empire, could hardly afford the war. But, because of a shared interest to smash the Russians, and the stealing by the British of her two new battleships then fitting out, the nation was forced into the Great War. The Allies were elated. Very quickly a plan to sail a fleet up the Dardanelles to capture Constantinople was devised by the then-first lord Winston Churchill and promptly put into use. However, owing to Turkish defenses and Naval incompetence, the plan failed.The Naval captains could not bear to lose a single ship, and out of fear and stupidity, the plan was a complete failure. So, a new plan was dreamed up that entailed troops being landed on the Gallipoli peninsula. This was to take place on 25 of April, 1915. From the start, the plan was prone to mishaps. First, the ANZAC forces were landed in the wrong place. Then, strong tukish resistance to the invaders, particularly the troops commanded by Mustafa Kemal, future leader and founder of modern Turkey resisting the Helles beachhead, stalled the Allied offensive. And, to top it all off, the commanders employed by the Entente were extremely incapable. Eventually, the campaign slowed to a halt and degenerated into trench warfare, leading to the evacuation of Allied troops. In an ironic twist of fate, the evacuation, in contrast to the landings, was one of the most efficiently carried out operations in military history.  PS. Those of you who are aficionados of the German battlecruiser fleet will note that I have left out one very important piece of the puzzle. Well, the SMS Goeben and Breslau ( if you don't know what they are, look them up on Wikipedia) and their escapades are interesting, but I have chosen to write about them in a later post. More on that some other time...

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Tosas and Amagis

Continuing on with the canceled battleships of the Wash. Treaty, we find ourselves looking over the hulks of the Tosa and Amagi classes. These Japanese ships were of a similar design but of a slightly different layout, and the first class I will deal with are the Amagis. They were actually battlecruisers, and thus had the lighter armor and greater speed that that status implies. The Navy was going to arm them with ten 16 inch guns in five twin turrets.But, on their canceling, the Navy was allowed to convert them to carriers. So, the Akagi and her sister Amagi were slated to be carriers instead of battlecruisers. Which brings us to the Tosas. These ships had a similar layout to the Amagis, the primary exterior differences being that the Tosas were battleships,and thus had all the presteige associated with that type, and that their Q turrets were a deck or two lower than that of the other class. They were slated to be destroyed when a peculiar thing happened. During a huge earthquake, the Amagi was destroyed beyond repair and the navy had to find something else to be a carrier. So, with nothing else to really chose from, the Kaga was saved from proposed destruction, and completed as a carrier. But that's another story and another post.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The South Dakotas and the German navy

I am going to embark on a special post centered on two topics: The US South Dakota class of battleships and the Reichsmarine, the navy of Germany from the year 1919 to 1935. First up are the South Dakotas, a class of battleships that with the Colorados would form a modern new fleet of super battleships. Their planned armament was to be twelve 16 inch guns, a total that would have made them the most powerful battleships in the world!(atually, the Tosa class and Kii class of japanese ships would have had a similar armament, but with a less efficient layout.) These guns would be mounted in four triple turrets.And, you guessed it, were scrapped while still building as a result of the 1922 treaty. But before the treaty, the USN had clearly planned to be THE superlative force as far as battleships were concerned. Which brings us to our second subject, the navy which had tried to do the same thing ten years earlier and failed so disastrously, the navy of Germany. After 1919, the Germans were only allowed to keep two classes(with the exception of one ship of an older class that was allowed to sit and rot in port) what was left of their Pre-Dreadnought fleet, the Braunschweig class and the remains of the Deutschland class, Pommern having been sunk at Jutland. In the early twenties, the Germans were allowed to build new ships, but only if they were twenty or more years newer than an existing ship. And as it happened all of the battleships would turn twenty in the 1920s. So, the Germans theorized and procrastinated util in 1928 they finally laid down their first new ships, the new Deutschland class,  which would be a paradox in naval terminology, being something in between a heavy cruiser and a battleship, the Germans rating them as "Panzershiff"( armored ships) and the British calling them by the name that is usually used to describe them: "Pocket Battleships".  After the completion of these ships, the German navy, now under the control of the Nazis,was renamed again; it was now the Kreigsmarine. (PS. the Tosas and Kiis would have had ten guns, not twelve, thus nullifying my statement about them earlier in the post)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lost Designs of 1922

In 1922, the Washington treaty was signed by all the great powers, resulting in the scrapping of many existing ships. But another result of this treaty was to destroy many ships that were then building. This series of posts will endeavor to deal with those designs, particularly battleships and battlecruisers, with maybe a hint of other types mixed in as well. First up is the unlucky Battleship USS Washington. The Washington was one of the Colorado class of 16 inch armed ships, one of which was the West Virginia, or "Wee Vee" for short,one of the most badly mauled of the Pearl Harbor ships to be raised. Washington was unlucky enough to fall afoul of the treaty so the poor ship was scrapped.