Thursday, June 20, 2019

Maginot Line (summary)

The Maginot Line was a French defensive system which consisted of concrete fortifications fitted with artillery pieces of all calibers and machine guns and observation posts. It stretched all along the border between France and Germany. It was built by the French government between 1930 and 1939, right before World War I. The main rationale for the construction of this defensive line was to stop a German invasion, giving France time to mobilize its army in the event of war against Germany.

The Maginot Line was named after the French war minister Andre Maginot. . The French politicians and Generals were convinced that this heavily defended line would effectively stop the German armies and, when the French Army were ready, then France would launch a counterattack.

The French commanders thought that the Maginot Line and the Ardennes were impregnable; however, WW2 would prove otherwise. In 1940, when Adolf Hitler ordered the Western Offensive (Case Yellow), the German forces invaded France through the heavily wooded and mountainous area of the Ardennes, an area, north of the Maginot Line. Seven panzer divisions led by Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian plowed through it and poured over the French border, thus avoiding this fortified defensive system.

Characteristics

The Maginot Line was made up of three interdependent fortified belts with anti-tank obstacles and machine gun pillboxes which stood in front of bombproof concrete artillery fortifications. There were more than 500 separate fortifications, which were built about nine miles apart. Each concrete fortification housed 1000 soldiers with artillery. Between each fortification there were smaller forts which housed between 200 to 500 men depending on their size.

Maginot Line Historical Footage


Monday, June 17, 2019

Aircraft Carriers in the Falklands War

The Royal Navy used two aircraft carriers during the Falklands War; the HMS Hermes R12 and the HMS Invincible R05. The former was a Centaur-Class carrier, which had been commissioned in 1959; while the latter was a light carrier and the lead ship of the Invincible class as it had been launched in 1977.

These British carriers were fitted with 3-D radars, steam catapults, and a 45º sky ramp on the fore end of their flight decks. The HMS Hermes and the HMS Invincible were equipped with 18 and 12 Sea Harrier aircraft, respectively, as well as with 10 Sea King helicopters. During the Falklands War, they successfully conducted interception missions, shooting down Argentinean US-made A4 Skyhawk planes. Their Harriers also carried out ground attack raids against enemy troops, bunkers, and artillery positions.

However, they could not avoid the sinking of the HMS Sheffield D80, hit and sunk by French-made Exocet missiles launched from Argentinean Air Force's Super Etandard aircraft. While on their way to the South Atlantic, they also carried onboard Royal Marine Commando units.

Meanwhile, the Argentinean Navy's ARA 25 de Mayo aircraft carrier remained moored at the base dock in the continent for fear of being sunk by the British submarines. This carrier belonged to the Colossus-class of British-made carriers, which had been launched during WWII. It could carry up to 21 attack aircraft.

The launch of HMS Invincible (video)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Batalla de Hopton Heath (Resumen)

La batalla de Hopton Heath fue una enfrentamiento militar de la Guerra Civil Inglesa (1642-1651). La misma fue librada entre las fuerzas del Parlamento, comandadas por Sir John Gell, y las tropas realistas, bajo el mando de Spencer Compton, 2do Conde de Northampton, en Staffordshire, Inglaterra.

Resumen

Luego de tomar exitosamente el pueblo de Lichfield, en Staffordshire, el comandante del ejército del Parlamento, Sir John Gell, reforzó sus fuerzas y reanudó la ofensiva, dirigiéndose con 1.500 hombres para atacar el pueblo Stafford. Sin embargo al llegar a Hopton Heath, fueron atacados por las fuerzas realistas, compuestas de unos 1.300 hombres. Aunque la caballería del Parlamento fue desbandada, los mosqueteros de Gell lograron repeler una segunda carga. En este último ataque, el Conde de Northampton cayó de su caballo y muerto en batalla.

Resultado

No hubo claros ganadores.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Wild Weasel Aircraft

In the US military, a Wild Weasel is a fighter aircraft that has been upgraded and adapted to attack and destroy enemy air defense systems, which include their surface-to-air missile launching sites and their radars. To fulfill this type of mission, the fighter is armed with anti-radiation missiles and fitted with a passive radar to guide them to the targets to be hit. The first anti-radation missile used to equip this type of aircraft was the AGM-45 Shrike, which entered service in 1965. To sum up, the mission of the Wild Weasel is to search out and knock out SAM sites, requiring a reliable aircraft that can survive, with a big bombload capacity.

The first Wild Weasel aircraft was the US Navy's A-6 Skyhawk. However, the most reknown aircraft to carry out the mission of wiping out enemy anti-aircraft defenses were the F-105G and the F-4G, which were special versions of the F-105 Thunderchief and the F-4 Phantom II respectively. The former was first used in combat in the Vietnam War, in the late 1960, to secure an air path for the bombers to fly in and drop their bombs. The F-4G would successfully take part in Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 Gulf War, destroying the Iraqi SAM launching sites and blinding their air defense systems. The single-seat F-16C version was also adapted to perform the Wild Weasel role.

McDonnel Douglas F-4G Wild Weasel video

Friday, June 14, 2019

US Entry into WW1

United States of America's long standing policy of isolationism left America reluctant to get involved with what was popularly perceived among the American people as a European war. In 1915, however, 128 American citizens died when a German U-boat sank the British liner Lusitania. As a result, President Woodrow Wilson energetically demanded an ends to attacks on passenger ships. But in January 1917 Germany resumed its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.

Early in February 1917, the British secret Royal Navy cryptanalytic group, Room 40, broke the German diplomatic code. They intercepted a proposal from Berlin to Mexico to join the war as Germany's ally against the United States, should the US of America join. The proposal suggested, if the U.S. were to enter the war, Mexico should declare war on the United States and enlist Japan as an ally.

The American press published it on March 1, 1917, and stirred up public indignation. This German secret message, known as the Zimmermann Telegram, plus the unrestricted submarine warfare led to a final break of relations with the Central Powers. After further U-boat attacks on American merchant ships, President Woodrow Wilson finally requested that Congress declare war on Germany. The American Congress declared war on April 6, 1917. In early July, 1917, the US government sent an American Expeditionary Force, under the command general John J Pershing, to France. Initially, this fighting force was composed of 22,000 soldiers.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Polytheism vs Monotheism in History

From the time man became a sedentary creature who organized himself around a complex society, the different cultures that arose in history have revolved around religions, which monopolized laws and social convention as they channeled man's fear, fear of the unknown. Since the dawn of human civilization, there have been two kinds of religions; polytheistic and monotheistic. We are erroneously taught and we generally think that the former is a rudimentary religion and the people who profess them are simply and derogatorily referred to as "pagans", whereas the latter one is thought of as the "right one" and represents the "real omnipresent deity", making us "righteous human beings". But, does it?

Manipulative and extortive characteristics of monotheism

The three monotheistic religions that we know today, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, originated in the Middle East; regions of patriarchal societies, ruled by tyrannic kings in ancient times. And these monotheistic, "more civilized", religions portray in their religious books a tyrannic, intolerant and only god, who punishes human beings with floods, earthquakes, and diseases, when man dares to assert himself ontologically as a self-confident, rational being. Monotheistic teachings have always implied that, to avoid the after-death, excruciating, endless suffering in the ovens of inferno, man has to give up his freedom of thoughts and of making decisions and submit to doctrines. From this point of view, the extortive characteristics of monotheism has been used by psychopaths, called messiahs, and governments world-wide as an instrument of thoughts control.

Monotheism crushes man's self-esteem by stirring up inner fears and overpowering feeling of guilt. This is instilled in human beings since childhood, giving rise to an elephantiasic superego that operates from the subconsciousness, diverting mental energies through destructive channels and jamming man's creative capacity.

Judaism: People are born imperfect (bad) with the "original sin", but can be reconciled to God by making sacrifices for their sin, and they can only gain an eternal dwelling with God by following the laws of Moses.

Christianity: man is sinful (bad) by nature and can only be saved and gain eternal life through faith in Jesus; if you don't have faith that 'he is your savior and son of God' you are sent to a concentration camp called Hell. Since you are born imperfect, you must obtain forgiveness, and for that you have to give up your self, and you also must learn to forgive and turn the other cheek when you are attacked. Christian values are still deep-rooted nowadays, even in the mind of the intellectual agnostic; imagine the meek Christians standing in the line that led to the lions maws of the Roman Circus.

Islam: people are saved by virtue of their deeds, a small deed is lying to conceal one's intention, but the greatest deed that brings man straight to heaven is to "kill the infidel", that is to say to kill the Jew, the Christian, the agnostic, and the atheist. At the beginning, long before the first crusade, Islam waged great wars of territorial expansion to kill the infidels; nowadays fundamentalists immolate themselves to kill tens, hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of human beings if they ever get radioactive materials.

The advantage of Ancient polytheism

In contrast to the monotheistic doctrines, Jupiter was not the only god in the pantheon of classical mythology; there were others, and none of them restricted man's thinking and actions. Thus, polytheism was not coercive and let human beings fully express themselves. His behavior was only regulated by his circumstances and the man-created laws that established order and synchronized individual activities. In the Roman, Greek, as well as in the Scandinavian polytheistic religions, there was one god for every activity man performed, inspiring and helping man in every human action and enterprise he undertook. Not only there was a god of war, but also a god or goddess of science, trade, finance, love, pleasure, wisdom, etc. In Ancient Times, great civilizations arose under the aegis of polytheism, whereas monotheism arose in nomadic societies where men lapidated women to death. The Roman Civilization arose as a polytheistic society, but it fell and crumbled as a monotheistic society, after emperor Constantine decreed that Christianity was the new official religion of Rome.

By Carlos Benito Camacho, anthropologist, Tucuman, Argentina

Battle of Cambrai (WW1)

The Battle of Cambrai was a fierce military engagement of the Great War, taking place from November 20 to December 4, 1917, at Cambrai, France. This British assault on the Hindenburg line saw the first successful use of tanks in a combined arms operation in military history, while the German counter attack showed the value of new infantry tactics developed by the Germans. The Battle of Cambrai was launched after the main British autumn offensive of 1917, the Third Battle of Ypres, had failed and which was famous for the Passchendaele mud. Cambrai was a French town in the north and, in 1917, was a key supply point of the German Hindenburg Line.

The idea for an assault at Cambrai had been conceived by Lieutenant-Colonel John Fuller, who was the Tank Corps Chief of Staff. He wanted to launch a mass attack with his tanks across the dry chalky ground at Cambrai, where his tanks would not run the risk of getting bogged down in the mud as it had already happened at Ypres. The attack at Cambrai was scheduled for November, despite worsening weather conditions, and was to be launched by just over 400 Mark IV tanks spread out along a 10-km front and supported by eight infantry divisions that were to advance close behind the tanks to provide close support. The artillery bombardment would start on the day of the attack, giving no warning of the upcoming assault.

Summary of the battle

The assault began at dawn at 6.00 am on November 20, 1917, preceded by 1,000-gun fire barrage and followed by smoke and a creeping barrage at 350 yards ahead to cover the first advances. Along most of the line the British tanks crawled their way through barbed wire, across trenches, with close infantry support, reaching as far as four miles into the German lines. However, the position was not so promising in the center of the British line; 51st Highland Division was too far behind the tanks, leaving them vulnerable. Eleven British tanks were destroyed in front of the advancing Highlanders by German anti-tank tactics based on the use of concentrated artillery against moving targets. Nevertheless, at the end of the first day the British had created a six-mile wide gap in the German lines.

On the first day there was considerable success in most areas, and it seemed as if a great victory was within reach. However, the advance slowed down the following days. The tanks of 1917 were still not mechanically reliable and many had broken down under the stresses of the advance. In the center the 51st Highland Division got stalled at its first objective, which was Flesquieres, and left the advances around it exposed. Flesquieres was one of the strongest points in the German line and was flanked by other strongholds. Its defenders under Major Krebs also fought well against the tanks, engaging them aggressively. Almost forty British tanks were knocked out by the Flesquieres artillery, including sixteen by a single gun manned by a lone gunner.

On the left the British 62nd Division swept all the way through Havrincourt and Graincourt to within reach of the woods on Bourlon Ridge and the 36th Division on their right reached the Bapaume-Cambrai road. However, reinforced with fresh units, the German 2nd Army commander Georg von der Marwitz quickly deployed 20 devisions and, on November 30, ordered repeated counter-attacks, using infiltration tactics. Wave after wave of German counter-attacks recovered all ground that had been lost to the British. Thus, On December 4, British General Douglas Haig ordered a withdrawal from much of the remaining salient to shorten the lines. The battle which had started with such a dramatic breakthrough ended with the restoration of the status quo.

Casualties

The British lost 43,000 men, many during the German counterattack. The Germans losses were similar, between 40,000 and 50,000 men. The main achievement of the British Tank Corps at Cambrai was to show all too clearly the potential of the tank.