Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Palestine MKIII

During April 1936 the British mandate in Palestine was rocked by an armed revolt and insurgency by the Arabs living in the area. The violence was targeted at the Jews and the British forces stationed there. To give you some idea of how bad the situation became British forces were forbidden from leaving their bases unless on operations and before departing outside the wire all weapons were to be loaded, although not charged. So for small arms such as a revolver this meant five rounds loaded, or for machine guns the ammunition belts being loaded into the feed. So all the soldier needed to do was cock the weapon twice and he'd be ready to defend himself.
Equally traffic all but disappeared from the road as Arab attacks were so common, along with roadblocks. To that end the British instigated a convoy system. For example from Tel-Aviv a convoy would run north via Tulkarm, Nablus to Haifa in the morning, and then make the return journey in the afternoon. Any vehicle was free to join these convoys, and the British presence was limited to mostly armoured cars and lorries. In later fighting the Rolls Royce armoured cars would often push a flatbed railway car in front of them to protect against mines and IEDs.
Despite this the situation continued to get worse with attacks on Jewish settlements and utter breakdown of law and order in the cities. So the British started to deploy further forces. One of the units selected to deploy was the "C" company, 6th Battalion, Royal Tank Corps. Consisting of about twelve Light Tanks MKIII the company arrived in May 1936. This was the first time in British experience that light tanks had been employed in this sort of role, so naturally a very close eye was kept on the performance of the tanks. Despite fighting ten engagements during their tour it’s the eleventh and final battle I'll be covering, this happened in the area of Kafr Sur and Wad At Tin on the 8th of October 1936.
A section of three tanks commanded by Lieutenant W. M. Hutton was carrying out a patrol, possibly to test the performance on poor terrain. The area was criss crossed by wadi’s, and the broken and rocky ground pushed the tanks to their limits. Some had thought the area impassable to tracked vehicles, however, due to perseverance Lt Hutton's section had reached Kafr Sur by about 1500. Having reached the objective the section began to withdraw and that is when the trouble started. Almost instantly the terrible terrain caused one tank to throw a tread, possibly due to a broken wheel. At the same time Arabs began to snipe at the tanks. The tracks were repaired under fire, and the section moved off again. Then after travelling about 100 yards further a second track was thrown, again it was repaired but instantly another one was broken.
The track breaking terrain had been anticipated and every tank had a spare wheel, and one of the tanks was also carrying a complete bogie as spares. However the multiple breaks had used up the units entire supply.
At this point a large gang of Arabs appeared and charged the the tanks. They clambered over the rocky sides of the wadi and snipping from its edge. Lt Hutton immediately put an "XX" call out on the radio. "XX" calls were used by the British forces in the theatre in a way similar to using an "SOS" today. The advantage of that is that the RAF could pick up and understand the call as well.
As the Arabs approached the stranded tank platoon the British opened fire with the Vickers machine guns in the turret. Again the terrain came into play, the jolting as the tanks crossed the uneven terrain had rattled the guns around to an unprecedented level. This caused a round to work its way loose and fall down behind the feed block on the gun causing it to jam. Of the three machine guns only one functioned. Even with only one functioning gun they managed to deter the Arabs from charging, then about 1700 the RAF arrived and began strafing the Arabs.
The combined fire meant that they managed to hold the Arabs at bay, however at dusk the plane from the RAF had to return to base. Lt Hutton sent out a distress call, then shortly afterwards the message "Hurry". After that no one could make contact with him. As the plane left the scene in the failing light it could make out that the three tanks were utterly surrounded and signs of heavy fighting could be detected, and passed that information onto the army.

This caused an immediate reaction, the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment's 1st Battalion was based at Tulkarm, only about seven miles away. At 1800 its "B" Company was dispatched in lorries, however due to the darkness and the awful terrain they had to halt nearby on the road until early the next morning when they were joined by the Quick Reaction Forces of about five other battalions.

Closer to the action was Captain B. Carey's five tank section. It had a similar mission only its destination had been Wad At Tin. When they reached the settlement they found a group of Arabs digging in near a mosque. They then had come under heavy sniper fire, one of the rounds hit a driver’s vision port and the bullet splash injured him in the arm. Despite this he continued to drive his tank as they extracted from the area, however, after a short period both the tracks came off his tank. Upon receiving news of the plight of Lt Hutton's section Cpt Carey had made best possible speed to find Lt Hutton. However as he entered the wadi the broken ground reaped its usual tally of destroyed running gear, with four of the tanks being immobilised. Despite being lost in the network of wadi's Cpt Carey was only about 1000 yards from Lt Hutton, however the darkness and terrain prevented him from linking up.
In the darkness Lt Hutton was worried. The sniping had caused several issues. The two big ones were all the containers with water had been punctured and so the crews had nothing to drink. The bullet impacts had also severed all the exposed electrical cables on the tank, meaning none of the lights were working. Normally one of the tanks headlamps was removed and mounted above the gun to provide a primitive searchlight for this sort of situation. The design flaws of the Light Tank MKIII turret were also starkly clear as it lacked vision ports to provide a good enough all round vision. The tank commanders were also sorely missing the ability to fire smoke, high explosive or flares.

After a tense night waiting for the final assault from the Arab gang morning brought with it the relief forces. After action reviews determined the Arabs had withdrawn at some point around 2030. After sweeping the area they found out how close it had been. One Arab body was found no more than 25 yards from the tanks. Due to the terrible terrain it wasn't possible to recover the body, especially as more Arabs might return. They did take his rifle, a Turkish one in good condition and the 45 rounds of ammunition he had been carrying. All the tanks in both sections were repaired by spares brought up and the last of them had returned to base by 1800 the next day

Image credits:
wikipedia.org, wwiivehicles.com, hmvf.co.uk and arcaneafvs.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Japanese Monster?

A couple of weeks ago I was flicking through an Archive here in the UK. I was mostly after light tank related information. I then saw a file simply called "light tanks". So a file in a UK archive titled "light tanks"... want to guess what it held? Well it did have a few pages on Japanese light tanks,  but it was mostly a file built up by MI10 (the intelligence department for foreign equipment) during the war about what we now know as the Type 97 Chi-Ha.

Inside it gave an interesting look at what an Intelligence Officer has to work with to produce a viable assessment. Including information from a Japanese POW. Now I don't know if this POW, or the later one, was deliberately providing false information, or if they genuinely believed what they were saying.

The first POW was a Lieutenant in the 1st Independent Mixed Regiment on Saipan, he was captured in July 1944. However half his interrogation file seems to be missing, and only the bits relating to the tank survive. He stated that the Type 97 Chi-Ha had 15 mm of armour and a twelve cylinder diesel engine. His unit had trained on them in August 1941.

Equally he claimed all tanks had radio's, air conditioning and twin 47mm guns, with one mounted in the standard turret and another in the hull. He also claimed that they could fit 30 ammunition boxes in the tank, each box being 2 feet long, 1 foot tall and 1.5 feet wide.
The POW's were asked to draw sketches of the tanks.
Finally and most bizarrely he claimed as well as one drive wheel at the front, it had two smaller drive wheels at the back, both 14 inches across. The intelligence officer indicates that this might signify an earlier model.
The POW also gave a rundown of crew numbers. Three men for this particular medium tank, two for a light tank and an unknown number for a heavy tank.
"Heavy tanks?" I thought, so more searching ensued, and another POW report was found.

This one is from a private captured in the Manus Islands. He was wounded and sought help from natives. Unsurprisingly they promised to help and simply turned him over to the US forces some time around the 6th of August 1944. In civilian life he'd been a foreman at the Hitachi's forging plant at Kameari, where he'd been working up until at least November 1943. Whilst there he'd seen several of Japan's heavy tanks; the Type 97.

More guns needed I think...
The Type 97 Heavy was 22 feet long, 8 feet 6" tall and 9 feet wide, weighing in at 27 tons. Protected by 30mm of armour its 300 horsepower engine could move it at 15mph, it could climb a 35 degree slope and had a crew of six.

Then this story takes a bizarre turn. In one of the files I was reading there was a page of French. When translated it was further stats for the Type 97 Heavy Tank. In a final odd twist some original captured Japanese documents appear, again detailing the Type 97, with plans which look somewhat like the above sketch.
Further searching finds even more of what appear to be original Japanese plans for several models of heavy tanks.

Finally, I'll leave you with a report that is a bit of a mystery. What were the Japanese firing? Any of you want to take a swing at it?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Foiled Again

Bit of a short one this week, so apologies. My originally planned article proved to be much harder to research than I thought. An article normally takes me about four hours. After that period of time I'd only completed half the research. Who'd have guessed that Palestine would be difficult... Anyway that'll later. Today you'll have to settle for a short look at something I found in an archive, namely Project Foil.

The project was to design a multiple rocket launch system for the British Army. This had become possible with recent advancements in rockets that had made them more accurate than the area weapons of the Second World War. So with this in mind the British started looking at large calibre unguided rockets. Phase one of the project was finished in 1969, with talks about a joint German and Italian collaboration the following year. It seems that the rocket chosen was the same one as used in Project JAWL, which ran from 1963 until 1968. Foil in turn lead to the RS-80 project of 1974, which got killed off by the United States MLRS system, which had a massively faster reload due to the rockets being loaded in pods.

RS-80 system
Each of the Foil rockets was 7" diameter, 9.5 feet long and weighed about 350 lbs. 8", 9" and 10" rockets were also considered for the system. The rockets were fired from a 12 ft beam that weighed another 350 lbs. There were two main warheads looked at, an anti-light armour warhead which blasted 1120 dense metal spheres across an area, and a anti-personnel warhead which scattered  22,250 spheres. Finally a cluster warhead with 220 bomblets was also built.
Consideration was also given to warheads with fuel-air explosive, explosively formed penetrators, minelets and flechettes.
Phase one of the project looked at mounting on vehicles, and studied the logistics requirements. All these systems were designed and plans made. The first question was what vehicle to mount the rockets on? Well the consideration of shoot and scoot made a tracked vehicle ideal, although some wheeled vehicles were considered. So plans were drawn up for mounting a very similar turret on each type of tracked chassis the Army was using. The turrets mounted between 1-10 rockets (depending on type) in lightly armoured boxes. The exact arrangements and weights meant that the traverse to either side ranged from 66 degrees down to 30 degrees. Elevation arc for all mounts was 0-55 degree's.
The soft skin launchers were planned for 4 ton Bedford MK and a 10 ton AEC Militant MK3. They also looked at towed versions, portee versions and strapping them to Land Rovers. Tracked chassis considered were Abbott, Chieftain, MICV, CVRT, M107.
The MICV, if you're wondering is the embryonic stage of the Warrior, and was planned as a family of vehicles weighing about 20-28 tons and came in two versions, one with five road wheels, the other with six.
Of all vehicles the Abbott was judged to be the best chassis, carrying six rounds of 7" rockets. That was the most common amount of rounds carried, although some of the M107 builds could carry ten rockets. The CVRT could however only carry one, but was the only vehicle to carry a re-load, which interestingly enough was just strapped to the top of the turret and not protected.
Re-loading was carried out by having a truck parked next to the launcher and a second truck equipped with a crane near by. The rounds would then be pulled tail first from racks on the ammo truck by the crane and then swung out and slid into the launcher box from the rear. This slow labour intensive process was ultimately why the project failed.

Image credits:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Corporal Seyit

Here’s the last of the Competition articles. This was originally written by bigmantr from the EU server. With his permission I’ve gone through and tweaked some of the English for a better flow, and added some bits I found on the subject.

After the Ottoman Empire entered the Great War new fronts were opened, and the war was prolonged. The Ottoman entry into the war also closed the Dardanelles straits to the Allied ships. The allies planned an offensive to open the straits as this would both eliminate Ottoman Empire by taking their capital city Istanbul and aid Russia, allowing a better flow of supplies.

At the age of twenty Seyit Ali enlisted into the Ottoman army and fought in the Balkan Wars. After the war he was not discharged but assigned to the Dardanelles straits as a gunner of the famous artillery battery in Mecidiye Forts located in the European side of Dardanelles. Their mission was to stand guard over the waterway. Their 240mm Krupp guns were old but there was no time or resources to replace obsolete weapons.
However the Ottoman forces had time to prepare the battlefield. After a probing attack on 19th February 1915 the Ottomans started to lay more mines. On the night of March the 8th the tiny minelayer Nusret left port. It offensive armament consisted of a pair of 47mm guns, and just over 20 mines in a bay on the south side of the strait.

Later that month on the 18th, a combined force of British and French ships approached the strait. At 1100 the first line of British ships began to bombard the fort, including the one where Seyit Ali was stationed. With the forts under heavy fire the French contingent of four ships was ordered forward, to pass through the British lines. Although the French ships took some severe hits their point blank fire combined with the British pounding destroyed every gun but one in Seyit Ali’s battery and disabled nearly all of the crew.
British battleship firing on the Turkish positions.
By early afternoon the task force commander judged it was safe to force the strait as the return fire was almost nil. He ordered the French to retreat, and pushed the majority of his force forward. The bombardment had destroyed the artilleries loading crane and each round weighed around 275 kilograms. When they got within firing range of Seyit Ali’s battery he was furious that enemy was in range and a broken crane was in between him and his target.

He prayed to God and tried lifting the artillery round. Unbelievably he managed to lift the round and carry it to the gun, his bones were creaking but he didn't give up until he loaded the gun. Now it was time to shoot back. He aimed at one of the ships in front of him, HMS Ocean which was a Pre-dreadnought battle ship.
After being bombarded for hours the Ottoman army was shaken. Titanic battleships were pounding everything on the ground but the Turks could not reach them let alone harm them. At this grim hour for the Ottoman army a miracle happened. While the allied ships were crossing the strait one artillery piece roared behind them which took everyone by surprise.

The first shot missed but Seyit Ali was determined and he loaded another heavy artillery round into the gun again and fired the second shell. It landed closer to the dreadnought but still didn't do any damage. He lifted one last round and loaded the gun, and fired again.

At around this time the British began to withdraw. Earlier when the French contingent had withdrawn one of their ships had been blown to pieces by one of the mines. In the confusion the British had thought the ships magazine had been hit. Thinking their route clear the British followed the same line of retreat. First one, then a second battleship struck a mine. The first ship sunk immediately, the second began to drift. HMS Ocean was dispatched to assist with recovery of the second ship. After being unable to help and taking off the last of the drifting battleships crew, HMS Ocean suffered the same fate of striking a mine. She too began to drift; damaged beyond repair and with incoming fire she was abandoned and both ships later sank.
The French battleship Bouvet withdrawing, moments before hitting the mine
The Ottoman Empire lacked weapons superiority but her soldiers accomplished heroic deeds and held their ground. Seyit Ali was promoted to the rank of corporal after the war and he lived the remainder of his life as a coal-miner and forester in his village. For a photo shoot they invited him to his former battery, but he failed to lift the artillery rounds again.

Image credits:
commons.wikimedia.org, www.naval-history.net, www.anzacsite.gov.au and www.davidpride.com

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Witnessing the Ferdinand

Here’s another of the Competition articles. This was originally written by haeschn from the EU server. With his permission I’ve gone through and tweaked some of the English for a better flow, and added some bits I found on the subject.
In November 1943, the 20 year old German common soldier and so-called “Landser” G√ľnter K. Koschorrek was part of the 24. Panzerdivision at the eastern front. He operated a machine gun on a sustained fire mount. This account is from when he was stationed to the south of the city of Dnjeprowka in the today’s Ukraine.

The front line was only a few kilometers away and Koschorrek spent days of waiting, always in expectation of being thrown into a counterattack against a Soviet penetration of the German lines. The Soviet troops on the other side were well armed and had slowly decimated the German troops on the flanks over the last few months. An attack was only a question of time and Koschorrek’s unit was held in reserve to face the threat as soon as news of the breakthrough was reported. Throughout the days and even in the night he could hear the thunder of bombs and artillery shells rumbling across the front.

Then on the 22nd of November the order for a counterattack was given. Koschorrek joined his troops as well as some lighter tanks and artillery. But soon after the attack they were told to return to their positions they had just left. As a common soldier in the trenches of the war, nobody tells you what is going on and so he continued waiting for new orders until the next day.
In the early morning a huge barrage started pouring down on the right flank at the tired troops of the 258. Infanteriedivision. Koschorrek was wondering, what was going on and if they could hold the line as suddenly a huge rumbling sound rose from behind him. He states that he had never heard such a loud humming noise before which made the walls of his earth hole tremble and shake like in an earthquake. He looked out of his hole and saw five huge monsters rolling towards him. The other Landsers around him stood up and stared at these tanks in astonishment. Some of the more experienced soldiers and officers shared their knowledge: these beasts were the Ferdinand, a heavy tank destroyer with the infamous 8,8cm Panzerjagdkanone L/71 mounted in a heavily armoured casemate. The incredible power enabled it to fight tanks at longer distances than usual, later in the war one Ferdinand scored a hit on a T-34 at a range of 4500m. The following engagement of the Ferdinands and some T-34s in the next days gave an indication of the power and range of the gun.
Four Ferdinands and four assault guns covered an attack of the infantry which Koschorrek was part of. After taking positions, the Soviets launched a counterattack with twenty two T-34s. The tank destroyers stayed in cover behind a small ridge and waited for the tanks to close the distance just a bit more. Then they showed their true colors and opened fire at the surprised tanks. After the first smoke slowly disappeared, six T-34s were already burning. The Soviets fired back at the Ferdinands, but hull down on a ridge line they were only exposing their thick armoured casemate.
Koschorrek couldn’t see any damage on the Ferdinands or the assault guns. The Ferdinands roared again, flinging a second salvo at the Soviet tanks. Immediately three turrets were flung into the air, after the ammo stored in the tanks got hit and exploded in a huge fireball. Two more tanks were also smoking and rendered useless for the rest of the battle.

The remaining eleven T-34s turned around and retreated back to their lines at full speed. At a safe distance they stopped, forming a wide line facing the Germans and observed the situation. Koschorrek could only clearly see the T-34s through the optics of his machine gun, even as he looked the four Ferdinands fired nearly at the same time. Some of the red-hot shells slammed into the tanks, others kicked up dirt where they hit the ground. Unbelievably, despite the long range, the Ferdinands managed to hit two tanks which were standing still, almost in a parade formation. After learning their lessons, the Soviet tankers retreated behind a hill as fast as they could and the engagement was obviously counted as a success for these big tank destroyers.
In the following days, the Ferdinands were part of many more operations in the nearby area and were able to destroy about forty tanks and fifteen guns. But despite its formidable gun, optics and armour, it soon turned out that it was indeed good at fighting tanks in a static warfare but not in a dynamic operation because of its poor manoeuvrability and heavy weight in the muddy ground. This is why these fortresses were blown up by German engineers after abandoning the bridgeheads and retreating from the overwhelming Soviet forces.

Image Credits:
http://www.warlordgames.com and http://www.worldwarphotos.info

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Chocolate War

Today's article is another contest entry. This one came from Azaz129 on the NA server.

There are three things universal to all wars: soldiers, weapons, and food - though not many tend to focus on the latter.

The US military generally issued five different rations during World War Two: A-rations, B-rations. C-rations, K-rations, and D-rations. A-rations are fresh, refrigerated, or frozen food that is served to troops after being prepared by a field kitchen or transported from fixed facilities. B-rations are foods that come canned, preserved or pre-packaged and do not require the use of refrigeration. C-rations were individually issued rations that were pre-cooked and canned for soldiers out in the field where A-rations and B-rations were impractical, they were replaced in 1958 by the Meal Combat Individual (MCI), which was later replaced by the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) in 1981. K-rations were meant to be issued to mobile forces, such as paratroopers and the tank corps, for short durations, contained three boxed meals, the military declared it obsolete in 1948 due to inadequate caloric content. Finally, D-rations were meant for emergency situations and consisted of concentrated chocolate bars designed to provide maximum calories for soldiers in need.

Even before the start of World War Two, the United States was looking for a way to supplement soldiers' rations with a nutritious, lightweight food. In 1937, Captain Paul Logan of the U.S. Army Quartermaster General's office went to Hershey Chocolate Company President, William Murrie, about creating a chocolate bar to be included in military rations. The requirements presented to Hershey were simple, lightweight, high energy, and (in order to ensure consumption only in emergencies) tasting slightly better than a boiled potato.
D-Ration... Looks tasty? So palatable you need to eat it over the course of 30 minutes.
The result was a viscous paste that had to be hand packed into molds. Called D-rations, the bar had to have pieces shaved off for consumption and possessed an extremely bitter taste. Soldiers called it “Hitler's Secret Weapon” and would often times throw them away as soon as they received them. Later, in 1943, the government would ask Hershey to design a new bar that could hold its shape for an hour in 120 degree heat and would have a somewhat improved taste, eventually resulting in the Tropical Chocolate bar.
Around the same time as this, Forrest Mars, son of the creator of the rival Milky Way bar, was working on developing a sugar-coated chocolate candy designed to resist heat, after having seen a similar sugar coated chocolate being eaten by soldiers in the Spanish Civil War. Unlike Hershey, Mars was trying to create a commercially available product in addition to a snack for servicemen. With this in mind, Mars approached William Murrie's son, Bruce, about a partnership. For a 20% stake in the product, Murrie secured a steady supply of chocolate from Hershey, which was in charge of U.S. sugar and chocolate rationing at the time. The product was named M&M's after Mars and Murrie. Though Mars would buy out Murries's share shortly after the war ended, the name would remain.
Shortly after release, the U.S. military became the exclusive customer for Mars' new product and would remain so for the duration of the war. Unlike the modified Hershey bar, M&M's were included in soldiers C rations in cardboard tubes and were intended for regular consumption, which allowed for a taste that didn't cause the troops to want to immediately throw them away. After the end of the war, as well as rationing, the newly returned soldiers continued buying M&M's and by 1954 M&M's were the number one candy in the United States. To this day, various chocolates are still included in soldiers' regular rations.

Image credits:
www.schaakstukkenmuseum.nl, www.historicreproductions.com and amhistory.si.edu/

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The only Tank in the Village

Here’s the first of the Competition articles. This was originally written by NAKKE_FIN from the EU server. With his permission I’ve gone through and tweaked some of the English for a better flow, and added some bits I found on the subject.

During the Continuation War approximately 500 000 Finnish soldiers and 200 000 Axis soldiers fought against 1 500 000 Soviet soldiers. The Finnish side had only one armoured division (Finnish Armoured Division) at the beginning of the Continuation War, consisting of obsolete T-26 and Vickers 6 ton tanks. Meanwhile the Soviet Union had approximately 4900 tanks on the Finnish front. The Finns also lacked the modern anti-tank weapons needed to deal with the Soviet tanks. Instead the Finns had to rely on the bravery of their troops armed with improvised weapons such as packs of explosive and smoke grenades to obscure the vision of the tanks. To encourage the soldiers even further, rewards such as extra leave, were offered for destroying enemy tanks.

 The Finnish military began an offensive in July 1941 at Ladoga Karelia.  Later in July the offensive at East Karelia was started.  On the northern front at the village of Salla (often called Alakurtti, which appears to be the region, not the village) the Finnish JR 33 1st battalion meet with a lonely KV-2. The KV-2 had been born out of the trouble the Soviets had encountered when facing the Finnish defences during the Winter war.
The first sign of the battle was when the lone KV-2 appeared to the front of the Finnish trenches. The monstrous heavy tank rolled out of the woods and down the road towards the Finnish lines.

 The first shot of the 152mm cannon started to spread fear amongst the Finnish soldiers. The KV-2 found a gap in the Finnish mine fields and started to push through the lines, defensive fire ricocheting off the tanks armour. Even the few dedicated anti-tank weapons the Finns possessed had no effect. As the behemoth loomed over them with the ground trembling under the roar of its engines and the monstrous turret blocking out the light, the Finns threw grenades at the tank but they seemed to do no harm. The Finnish line bent under the pressure.

For some reason after few hours the KV-2 stopped the assault and fell back. Finns started to place mines in the gap in their minefield which the KV-2 had found. Just as they were finishing the task in the distance they heard the squeak of the tanks tracks as it roamed out of its forest lair once more.
 The KV-2 reappeared and drove directly towards the Finnish lines again. The sound of mines exploding filled the air, but the mighty fortress of a tank was impervious to the anti-personnel mines the Finns had placed. The horror filled the minds of the Finnish soldiers. Finally when the KV-2 drove over eight mines it lost its tracks and had to stop. Still the tank was capable of firing towards the Finnish lines. No gun the Finns had could penetrate the hide of the KV-2, so the Finns had to wait for the night to close with and destroy this beast.
 When the darkness came the Finns formed a group to destroy the immobilized tank. The Finns were armed with iron bars, Molotov cocktails, smoke caskets and explosives. The assault party sneaked through the still night, if the KV-2 saw them it would open fire with that devastating cannon. Finally they were close to the tank, and leapt onto it. First the machine gun barrels of the KV-2 were smashed with iron bars to prevent the crew from shooting at the close targets. They then tried to set it on fire with Molotov cocktails but the tank was not lit regardless of several attempts. The smoke caskets were triggered to drive the crew out of the tank but the persistent crew remained inside the tank. Finally the explosives were set on the ground next to the tank and the tank tilted towards the ground by the impact but still the crew remained alive inside the tank.
The Finns were afraid that KV-2 would soon receive help; therefore the attempts to wreck the tank were hastened. The tilted tank was unable to defend itself against Finnish combat engineers who placed 30kg of explosives on the turret. The tank was lit up by the explosion and moments later blew up. 
The actual remains of the KV-2 after the explosion.
The battle against the steel monster was over. Several Finns were wounded in the battle but only one combat engineer was killed when placing the mines.This was the only time the KV-2 saw action in Finland.

Image credits:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Competition Aftermath

Two weeks ago I ran a little competition with the prizes supplied by the Wargaming EU office. Now its my first time doing something like that, and I made a few mistakes. So  for the answers and to find out if you're a winner, to see some of the odd answers, or to see where I dropped a clanger read on!

World of Warships closed Alpha test access.The question I asked you to answer was:

"Name the only capital ship that has directly sunk a Submarine."

I got a mind blowing 171 entries, and most of you said HMS Dreadnought, which was of course the answer I was after.
However a few of you said other ships which I went and had a look at, and in a couple of cases they had rammed and sunk friendly submarines. Obviously it was my fault as I had missed out the word "Enemy" from the question; the only fair way around the problem was to count the alternative answers as correct.

The two alternative answers where the French battleship Saint Louis, which had an unfortunate habit of bumping into allied ships and on June 8th 1912 she rammed the submarine Vendémiaire. That one was submitted by farmpunk from the NA server.
The second alternative answer was the USS New York, which hit something, judged to be a submarine, however it wasn't actually confirmed. But I was willing to give it possible credit. However I didn't need to, as when I randomly rolled up which number entry was the winner both had said HMS Dreadnought.

Congratulations to Nabusco, (NA) and Ghanschje, (EU). You were both selected by random drawing to get the prize from the list of people who answered the question.

But lesson learned, I will make sure I write the wording in the questions more carefully in future!

Quite a number of you misread the question and listed ships that had been sunk by submarines. Of which the most common were the Japanese ship Kongo, HMS Royal Oak and HMS Barham. A few answered HMS Warspite (which was my answer when I first heard the question), but she didn't sink the Submarine, it was one of her aircraft.

A couple of you named craft that sunk a submarine, such as PC-566. But that's a patrol craft, not a capital ship. Equally one person named a Q-ship (HMS Farnborough). Again even with the best will in the world a Q-ship isn't a capital unit.

We had 44 entries for this, of which three of you got all five questions right, and eleven got four questions right.

I) Name the World War Two German armoured fighting vehicle that had the knocked out the most enemy tanks

Answer is of course, the humble Stug III.

II) Name the most produced armoured vehicle in history.

A lot of you answered T54 series, which is most produced tank, but is still about 10-25 thousand (depending on which source you use) units behind the correct answer, which is the Universal Carrier, racking up an impressive 113000 units produced.

III) By the end of World War Two almost every country in the world that had a tank arm had used a single model of tank, or a derivative. Name that tank.

This one got your brains going! It was also the one most people got wrong. There's some very good guesses, such as the Vickers 6 ton. Sherman's, Stuarts and T-34's were all also suggested.
The correct answer was the FT-17, or a derivative of it, such as the Ford 6 ton or the Fiat 3000. If you look into almost every army in the world it's likely their first tank was the FT-17. Even Germany used FT17's that they'd captured during WWII.

IV) during April 1943 a British officer's body was washed up on the coast of Spain. On his body were top secret documents about the upcoming invasion of Greece. What was the bodies real name.

I asked for the bodies name, not the officers name. The answer is of course (To quote one of you who got it right) "The unpronounceable Glyndwr Michael."

V) Name the highest scoring British Empire ace from World War One.

This one caught me out as well. When I first thought it up I went and checked scores. An old book I had listed the person as Major Edward "Mick" Mannock. However recent research shows that it wasn't Maj Mannock but William "Billy" Bishop who was the top scoring Empire ace.

I got the dates on question VI wrong. The question originally read:

"From the End of World War Two until the start of Operation Desert Storm how many tank on tank engagements had American forces fought in?"

And I utterly forgot about the Korean War. Whoops. It should have had "World War Two" replaced with "Korean War", and the answer was two.

So T-127's to the following people:
GrumpyStranger (EU), perdi (EU), Invictus97 (NA), ZdeSpi (EU), Dominatus (NA), Iceclouds (EU), Rossignal (NA), jerze75 (EU), nekojima (NA) and The_MythMaker (EU).

Write an Article
Again forty entries, ranging in subject from chocolate to gun stabilization. It was harder than I expected to pick four winners. However you'll be seeing the results of that over the next few weeks.

I am sorry to say that four people tried to plagiarize, and win with entries copied from other peoples work. All were caught out, and had their entries for all the other competitions removed. One particularly bad cheater failed on three points. First he ripped off someone else's work. Second he only copied 300 odd words and finally he picked a subject that very little is known about. Unfortunately for him I was a consultant on that subject for another company a few years ago so I know rather a lot about it...

Over all however thanks for the entertaining answers, the great articles, and for giving me a bit more experience in this kind of thing. Hopefully next years will run smoother.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Oncoming Tempest

Two weeks ago we looked at the events of the morning of  7th of January 1949. Here's the Afternoon of that ill fated day.

Back at Fayid Airfield the leisurely pace of operations continued unaware of the crisis they were hurtling towards. The two Tempest squadrons based at the airfield had returned from their morning flights, and the pilots had retired to the mess for the afternoon.
However normal operations were disturbed during lunch when it was realised that the four Spitfires on reconnaissance were overdue, and all four pilots were missing. The Squadron Commander for the missing planes immediately started preparations for another flight of four Spitfires to look for their colleagues.
However understandably he wanted to bring along as much fire-power along as he could, so he started phoning around the messes of the Tempest squadrons looking for pilots still fit to fly.
Unsurprisingly the search mission soon had fifteen Tempest pilots volunteering to join in, along with the four Spitfires. The formation rendezvoused above the airfield and set off to look for the lost Spitfires at 1500. The formation flew with the Spitfires at 500 feet, followed by a flight of Tempests, with seven at 6,000 ft and eight at 10,000 ft, each formation was staggered back from the previous one to cover the rear of the previous flight.

As they neared the area where the missing flight had seen the convoy, the middle flight of Tempests were bounced by four Israeli Spitfires diving out of the sun. One of the pilots spotted the attack and yelled a warning. However the tail end Charlie of the Tempests was a a very new and inexperienced pilot. The lead Israeli Spitfire riddled his plane with gunfire killing the pilot before he could react, his plane was seen to flip onto its back and crash into the ground.

The Tempests suddenly found a new problem, none of their guns were working. So even when they had a Spitfire in their sights they were unable to fire. The reason for this seems to have been the drop tanks. For some reason the ground crews had over tightened the locking pins on the drop tanks to keep them secure, this prevented the tanks from being released. In turn the added weight and drag from the tanks during high G manoeuvres meant that it stressed the wings more than normal, preventing the guns from firing.
Upon hearing the shouted warning the high cover Tempests dove into the fight, and the Spitfires clawed their way up to altitude as well. In the ensuing short brawl the IAF Spitfires got hits on one Tempest, causing light damage. However one IAF Spitfire dove on a Tempest, but the Israeli pilot was carrying too much speed. The IAF Spitfire flashed underneath the Tempest and then pulled up in front of the RAF plane allowing the British pilot to put several bursts into the passing IAF Spitfire.

In the dogfight that followed the RAF Spitfires realised they were in as much danger from their fellows in the Tempests as they were from the Israelis. In a dogfight you only have seconds to react, and so the Tempest pilots would see a Spitfire's silhouette and treat it as hostile, and attempt to shoot it down. Upon realising this the order went out over the RAF radio for the four RAF Spitfires to waggle their wings so they could be identified.

At this moment the IAF Spitfires disengaged and broke for home. Once over the nearby border they were safe from pursuit. We don't know if they ran because they realised their enemy were getting organised, or if they spotted the RAF roundels and realised their mistake.

The remaining RAF planes all made it back to base safely. With the news of five missing pilots, presumably dead, tensions at the RAF base were running high. Everyone on the base stood too and prepared to throw everything they had at the fledgling IAF, to wipe it out of existence. Needless to say if the British forces had gotten involved the balance of power would have been changed and its likely the Arab nations would have attempted to wipe Israel out of existence.
That night the four IAF pilots involved in the incident stood down and agreed in the face of an RAF retaliation strike they would not offer resistance. Although these feelings were not shared throughout the IAF, and preparations were made for the upcoming strike. The IAF pilots also sent a message, intended as a conciliatory gesture. It read:

"Sorry about yesterday, but you were on the wrong side of the fence. Come over here and have a drink sometime. You will see many familiar faces."

However as you can imagine this just served as a goad and seemed like a taunt to the RAF. Luckily for everyone involved the RAF command refused flat out to authorize the strike, and history took the course we're all familiar with.

Image credits:
spyflight.co.uk, 213squadronassociation.homestead.com and wwiiaircraftperformance.org

Sunday, December 28, 2014


This week we have something a bit special. Wargaming have supplied a number of Prizes, and asked me to run some competitions to get the prize out to you.

We have three groups of prizes up for grabs. The first group of prizes consist of one of the following:
  • 4000 gold+15 days premium time,
  • 1 fury tank and garage, 
  • 1 RAM II and garage, 
  • 1 Matilda BP and Garage,
To win one of these all you need to do is write a short military history article, then of the entries I'll pick the best four and allocate prizes.

Next, because writing isn't for everyone, we'll be holding a short quiz. From the right answers I'll randomly select ten people, each will win a T127 tank and garage slot.

Finally I have two World of Warships closed alpha test keys to give out. Just answer that tricky question and you'll go into a draw for the keys.

So what do you need to do to win?

Write an article:
Write a short military history article, it can be about anything you like, as long as its related to military history. The sort of stuff I've been doing for the last 18 months. It should conform to these requirements:
The date range for the article should be 1900-1969.
The word count should be about a minimum of 500 words, and not much longer than 750 words (remember I have to read all of these!). Now that much might sound like a lot, but trust me you can dash of 500 words without even trying. I suspect you'll find it easier than you think.

Place the written article in a email, along with your WOT account name and which server you play on and email it to:

Do not send it as an attachment.
Do not send it as a link to a cloud drive.
I will not download files or click links. If the article is not part of your Email then it will not be seen and your Email will be deleted.

Finally, I may want to use your article and post it on Overlords blog. Or failing that I might want to use the idea contained in your article at a later date. you have to be ok with that to submit. Don't worry I always credit people who help out.

WOWS Alpha test key:
1: Answer this question:

"Name the only capital ship that has directly sunk a Submarine."

Place the answer in a email, along with your WOT account name and which server you play on and email it to:


Answer the following Questions:
  • I) Name the World War Two German armoured fighting vehicle that had the knocked out the most enemy tanks
  • II) Name the most produced armoured vehicle in history.
  • III) By the end of World War Two almost every country in the world that had a tank arm had used a single model of tank, or a derivative. Name that tank.
  • IV) during April 1943 a British officer's body was washed up on the coast of Spain. On his body were to secret documents about the upcoming invasion of Greece. What was the bodies real name.
  • V) Name the highest scoring British Empire ace from World War One.
  • VI) Edit: Question removed. I dropped a clanger on this question stating the wrong dates. For that reason, and to be fair to people who have already submitted answers, I'll not be counting this one for scores.
Place the answers in a email, along with your WOT account name and which server you play on and email it to:

Closing date is 1900 (7pm) GMT on Friday 2nd January, so you've got about a week! Do not Post Answers here! The only way to get into the Competition is via the Email address above!

Good luck.