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.