Friday, October 11, 2019

Battle of Friedland (Summary)

The Battle of Friedland was a military engagement of the Napoleonic Wars. It was fought between the French Army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Russian Army, commanded by Levin Bennigsen, who was a German general in the service of the Russian Empire. It took place on June 14, 1807, near and in the town of Friedland, Prussia (now Russia). The result of the Battle of Friedland was a decisive French victory, which forced Russia to sign the first of the Treaties of Tilsit on July 7, 1807, ending the Fourth Coalition against France as these treaties made Russia and Prussia Napoleon's allies to fight against his two remaining enemies, Great Britain and Sweden.

Background

During the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806, Napoleon had moved against Prussia, obtaining a decisive victory at the Battle of Jena. Then, the French had marched into Poland with the goal inflicting a similar defeat on the Russians. Now, opposing the French were Russian forces led by General Count von Bennigsen, who had started to move against the isolated corps of Marshal Jean-Baptiste. To defeat the Russians, Napoleon had ordered Bernadotte to fall back while he marched with the main army to cut off the Russians. Nevertheless a copy of his plan was captured by the Russians, who stopped their march and began to retreat. As Napoleon pursued Bennigsen, the French Grande Armée (Great Army) straggled over the countryside. On February 7, 1807, the Russians had decided to turn around to confront the French at Eylau. The result of the Battle of Eylau had been a draw, with big losses for both armies.

After spending the winter in quarters, the Russian army, under the command of General Bennigsen, had held strong defensive positions in the town of Heilsberg on the Alle River. The French Army, led by Marshals Murat and Lannes, had attacked on June 10, 1807. Although Bennigsen had thrown back several attacks, resulting in huge French casualties, he had to withdraw towards Friedland the next day, arriving there on June 13.

Summary of the Battle of Friedland

The French Army was composed of 81,000 men and 116 cannons, while the Russian Army was made up of 60,000 troops. Napoleon marched on Friedland, but remained dispersed on its various march routes. By 06:00 hours on the morning of June 14, 1804, Bennigsen had his 60,000 men across the river and forming up west of Friedland, with his infantry organized in two lines. Beyond the right of the Russian infantry, cavalry and Cossacks extended the line to the wood northeast of Heinrichsdorf. Napoleon ordered that Ney\'s corps would take the line between Postlienen and the Sortlack Wood, Lannes closing on his left, to form the center, Mortier at Heinrichsdorf the left wing, while I Corps under General Victor and the Imperial Guard were placed in reserve behind Posthenen.

At 17:00 hours, Ney charged at the Sortlack Wood, overcoming the Russian opposition and forcing the enemy back. The attack was pushed on toward the Alle. Marshal Ney's right-hand division under Marchand drove part of the Russian left into the river at Sortlack, while Bisson's division advanced on the left. A furious charge by Russian cavalry into the gap between Marchand and Bisson was repelled by the dragoon division of Latour-Maubourg. As Ney's attack subsided and came to a standstill, the Russian reserve cavalry charged with great effect and drove Ney's men back in disorder. However, other French cavalry divisions drove back the Russian squadrons into the now congested masses of infantry on the Alle river bank, and finally the artillery General Sarmont advanced a mass of guns within close range of the Russians.

Under a heavy artillery fire, the Russian defence soon collapsed. Ney's exhausted infantry succeeded in pursuing the broken regiments of Bennigsen's left into the streets of Friedland. In the meantime Lannes and Mortier had held the Russian center and right on its ground, as their artillery had inflicted severe losses. When the town of Friedland was on fire, the two marshals launched infantry attacks on the Russians as fresh French troops approached the battlefield. Dupont distinguished himself for the second time by fording the mill-stream and launching an assault on the left flank of the Russian center. Although the Russians fought stubbornly with ferocity, the French steadily drove them backwards as the enemy lines soon began to disintegrate. The battle was over.


Below, a painting portraying a French cavalry unit charging against the Russian positions

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Battle of Schleiz (Summary)

The Battle of Schleiz was fought between a unit of the French Army, commanded by Jean-Baptiste Drouet, and Prussian forces, led by Bogislav Tauentzien, near Schleiz, Germany, on October 9, 1806, during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first military engagement of the Fourth Coalition War in which the French came out victorious.

On 15 February, 1806, Napoleon had forced Prussia into agreeing to transfer several of her territories to France and France's allies in return for Hanover, which France had previously taken. On July 25, Napoleon created the Confederation of the Rhine, a French satellite in Germany. In the face of these French aggressions, the pro-war faction at the Prussian court had convinced King Frederick William that he had to go to war against Napoleon.

Summary of the Battle of Schleiz

On October 9, 1806, the first clash occurred between the troops of Drouet and Tauentzien near the Oschitz Wood, a belt of timber which lies south of Schleiz. In the morning Drouet's division advanced on Schleiz and engaged Tauentzien's outposts. When Tauentzien became aware of the strength of the advancing French forces, he ordered a tactical withdrawal of his division. Then, Field Marshall Joachim Murat assumed command of the troops and began an aggressive pursuit. A battalion-sized Prussian force to the west was cut off and suffered heavy losses. The Prussians and Saxons retreated north, reaching Auma that evening.

Battle of Jena (Summary)

The Battle of Jena was a battle contended between the French Army, under Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Prussian forces commanded by the Duke of Brunswick, on October 14, 1806, near Jena and Auerstedt, Germany, during the Napoleonic Wars. Ferociously fought, the battle ended in a French victory. As a result, the following year, on July 9, 1807, the Prussians were forced to sign the Treaty of Tilsit, by which the Prussian Army was downsized to half its original number.

Background

After signing a secret alliance with Russia in July 1806, Frederick William III of Prussia had prepared for a new war against France. By early October, 1806, the Prussian-Saxon Army, under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, had slowly marched westward through Saxony in an attempt to threaten Napoleon's communications to the west. When Napoleon heard that the Prussians were advancing, he moved fast northward, through the eastern end of the Thuringian Forest, to cut the Prussians off from the Elbe River and engage them before their Russian allies could join them. Thus, the Prussians had to turn around to meet the French attack from their rear. Frederick William III deployed 65,000 men under Duke of Brunswick at Auerstedt and about 52,000 under Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen on a 16-mile front between Jena and Weimar.

Summary of the Battle of Jena

This fierce confrontation began on the morning of October 14, 1806, when Napoleon, employing only about 55,000 of his 97,000 troops, launched an attack on Friedrich Ludwig's 38,000 troops at Jena. By 15:00 hours, the French had routed the Prussians and their 13,000 reinforcements from the field. About 13 miles (21 km) to the north, at Auerstedt, a secondary French force composed of 27,000 men, led by Louis-Nicolas Davout, engaged the Duke of Brunswick's main Prussian army. The duke wasted his vastly superior strength in piecemeal attacks, which enabled Davout to hold firmly his ground for six hours. During this ferocious engagement, the Duke of Brunswick was mortally wounded, and Frederick William III took command. When the Prussian attacks slackened, Davout moved up his artillery to rake the entire Prussian line, and by 16:00 hours the Prussian army had disintegrated. For this great victory, Davout was later made Duke of Auerstedt.

At the battle of Jena, the French had suffered 12,000 casualties to about 24,000 Prussian and Saxon casualties and about 20,000 more captured. The victory at Jena and Auerstedt, allowed Napoleon to complete his conquest of Prussia within six weeks, before Russia could move in support of its ally.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Anti-radiation Missiles (ARM)

The anti-radiation missiles (ARM) are guided missiles conceived to wipe out enemy ground radars, which control the enemy air defense system. They were developed in the mid 1960s as they were first used during the Vietnam War to destroy the Soviet-made SAM missiles radar installations of the North Vietnamese Army. These Soviet, surface-to-air missiles were causing a lot of casualties and were responsible for the lost of many US Air Force bombers and US Navy's ground-attack aircraft.

In order to counteract this Soviet threat lurking in the jungle of North Vietnam, the US Navy's engineers designed the first anti-radiation missile. It was the AGM-45 Shrike, which was first launched in combat from the A-4 Skyhawk in 1965; later, the US Navy would employ the F-4G Phantom II and the US Air Force the 105G Thunderchief fighter-bombers as the standard platform for the anti-radiation missiles. These aircraft variants, especially equipped to attack the Soviet-made SAM sites, were called Wild Weasels. The AGM-45 Shrike ARM missile was replaced by the AGM-78 and the AGM-88 HARM.

F-4G Phantom II Weasel launching an ARM missile

Battle for the Reichstag

The Battle for the Reichstag was the vicious and final phase of the Battle of Berlin, in which the Soviet 150th Rifle Division fought against a 1,000-man German unit composed of Waffen-SS units and sailors who had holed up inside the Reichstag. These men fought tenaciously, causing heavy losses to the Soviet forces. It took place between April 29 and May 2, 1945, during World War II.

The Battle of the Reichstag began at 02:30 hours, on April 29, 1945, after the Soviet 3rd Shock Army had crossed the Moltke bridge and started to fan out into the surrounding streets and buildings. The initial assaults on the buildings next to the Reichstag, including the Ministry of the Interior, were hindered by the lack of supporting artillery. It was not until the remainder damaged bridges were repaired that artillery could be moved up in support of the advancing infantry units. At 04:00 hours, in the Führerbunker, Hitler signed his last will and testament and, shortly afterwards, married Eva Braun. At dawn, the Soviets pressed on with their assault in the southeast. After very heavy fighting, they managed to capture Gestapo headquarters on Prinz-Albrechtstrasse, but a Waffen-SS unit counter-attacked, forcing the Soviets to withdraw from the building.

At 06:00 hours, on April 30, when the Russians had finally taken the bridges and were able to bring up artillery support, the 150th Rifle Division, 3rd Shock Army, launched an assault on the Reichstag. Nevertheless, this first attacking wave of red soldiers were thrown back by determined German troops entrenched in the building. The Waffen-SS troops inside had the support from 12.8 cm guns, emplaced two kilometers away on the Berlin Zoo flak tower. Several assaults had been repelled by the Germans, decimating entire companies, when the Soviets were finally able to enter the building. The Reichstag had not been in use since 1933, but now its interior was nothing but a maze of rubble and debris. The German troops inside made excellent use of this and lay heavily entrenched. Fierce room-to-room fighting broke out. At 01:30 hours on May 1, Soviet troops made their way to the roof to hoist up their communist flag.

The close quarter battle for the Reichstag raged on until very late in the evening when the surviving German troops pulled out of the building and headed north. During that same timeframe, about 100 of the last German combatants surrendered. A further 300 defenders were dead and another 350 were already lying wounded in the basement. Finally, on May 2, 1945, the Red Army was able to control the whole building.

Battle of Berlin and assault on the Reichstag (WW2 Footage)

28th SS Volunteer Division Wallonien

The 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien was a World War II Belgian elite unit of the Waffen-SS. It was formed on October 19, 1944, in the Southern Hannover-Braunschweig region from the 5th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien, which was a Belgian Waffen SS volunteer brigade that was composed of volunteers of Walloon background. The highly trained men of this unit fought bravely on the Eastern Front during the war. They were hardened men from Wallonia, a French-speaking region in southern Belgium.

The 28th SS Volunteer Division Wallonien had its origin in the paramilitary arm of the Belgian Rexist Party, which had been founded by the Belgian Leon Degrelle, owner of a newspaper and ardent Catholic. After the invasion of Belgium by the German forces, Leon Degrelle organized a small military unit with men recruited from his won party. This unit was christened Corps Franc Wallonie, or Walloon Free Corps. On August 8, 1941, this Belgian Legion of 860 men, was sent to Meseritz in East Prussia for basic training. In early October, the Walloon Free Corps was incorporated into the German Army as the 373th Wallonien Infantery Battalion. On October 15, the Battalion was ordered to the front, to operate as a part of Army Group South, which was then advancing through Ukraine.

During the winter of 1941-42, the Wallonien Battalion suffered heavy casualties, fighting against the Soviet forces. Then the Germans appointed a new commander, Belgian staff officer Hauptmann B.E.M. Pierre Pauly and attached a German liaison officer. Next, the Battalion was thrown into the line to halt a Soviet breakthrough near Dnepropetrovsk on the Donets river. Fighting alongside the SS Germania regiment from the SS-Division Das Reich, the Walloons defended the village of Gromovayabalka from attacks by large enemy forces. After a second attack on February 28, 1942, the Soviets took most of the village; however, Pauly rallied his men and in ferocious house to house fighting recaptured the position. On March 2, the Battalion was relieved. During this action, the Walloons had lost over a third of their strength, but gained the respect of their Wehrmacht counterparts. Among those who received decorations was Leon Degrelle, who was also promoted to Feldwebel for his bravery in the action.

During Fall Blau offensive into the Caucasus, the Walloons were positioned to guard the supply lines of the assault, seeing little action. In early August, the Walloons were called upon to clear a small village. During this battle, Degrelle was awarded the Iron Cross second class. In late August, the Battalion was pulled out of action and posted to flank security. During this time it came into contact with Felix Steiner\'s SS-Division Wiking. Degrelle and Steiner got along well, and Degrelle was impressed by the ethos of the Waffen-SS. In December, Degrelle was ordered to Berlin to coordinate the formation of a second Walloon Battalion, but Degrelle had already decided to take his Walloons to the Waffen-SS.

In June 1943, Heinrich Himmler authorized the Battalion to be transferred to SS command. Around 1,600 volunteers who had been assembled in Meseritz to form the second Army battalion were also transferred to the SS training area at Wildflecken. Over the next few months, the Army Battalion was transformed into the SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien, commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Lucien Lippert with SS-Hauptsturmführer Leon Degrelle as second-in-command. In October, the Wallonien was redesignated 5th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien, and was equipped as a fully motorized brigade with a complement of 250 vehicles. By November 1943, the Wallonien was deemed fit for combat and was sent to Ukraine to fight alongside the Wiking, now designated 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking.

After the allied invasion of France in June 1944, there was an influx of new volunteers. Together with the Langemarck, the Wallonien Sturmbrigade was upgraded to become the 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien. in October 1944. Despite this upgrade in Status, the actual strength of the Wallonien remained that of a reinforced Brigade, around 8,000 men.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Buccaneer (Aircraft)

The Buccaneer was a two-engined strike jet aircraft used by the British Royal Navy and Royal Air Force during the Cold War. It was developed as the B-103 model by Blackburn Aircraft. The Buccaneer made its first flight in 1958 and entered service in 1962. Designed for deep attack missions, the firm Blackburn, and later Hawker Siddeley, manufactured a total of 210 Buccaneer aircraft with the S.1, S.2, and the S.2B variants being the most widely produced.

The Buccaneer was a carrier-based aircraft fitted with mid-mounted, cropped swept wings, which folded up through 120 degrees from a hinge at half-span, meeting the carrier-deck elevator dimension limits. It had a crew of two men seated in tandem under a sliding canopy. The Buccaneer S.2 version was powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 101 turbofan engines and could reach the maximum speed of 667 miles per hour.

Operational history (summary)

The Buccaneer was introduced in 1962 as a part of the Fleet Air Arm. It saw combat action during the 1991 Gulf War. It proved extremely impressive with its fast low-level attacks, which were highly accurate despite the aircraft's lack of terrain-following radar and other modern avionics. They were able to penetrate adversary defenses, and in fact were credited with kills on defending fighters using Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. During this conflict, it also provided a laser designation capability for other British aircraft. The Buccaneers flew 220 missions, both designating for other aircraft and dropping 65 laser-guided bombs themselves.

Specifications

Type: strike/attack aircraft

Country of origin: Great Britain

Manufacturer: Blackburn/Hawker Siddeley

Engine: two Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 101 turbofans

Maximum speed: 667 mph (1,074 km/h)

Range: 2,300 mi (3,700 km)

Length: 63 ft 5 in (19.33 m)

Wingspan: 44 ft (13.41 m)

Height: 16 ft 3 in (4.97 m)

Crew: two

Weapons: two AIM-9 Sidewinders for self-defence; two AS-37 Martel anti-radiation missiles; two AS30L air-to-ground missiles; up to 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) of bombs




Blackburn Buccaneer Attack Aircraft (footage)