Κυριακή, 13 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The Russian land battleship - KV-VI Behemoth tank



Read this fascinating tale of state power over commonsense military design. Stalin wanted a land battleship, and he was going to get one no matter how impractical it was.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, new facts have surfaced about the secret weapons developed by the Red Army during WWII.

Σάββατο, 12 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Wars of Religion

Detail of a Hadith referring to the succession of the Twelve Imams, at the shrine of Sayyida Ruqayya, Damascus; from People of the Prophet’s House edited by Fahmida Suleman (275pp. Azimuth. £35. 978 1 898592 32 7)

This piece forms part of a TLS Special Feature, our primer on the complex politics and religions of the Middle East
A hadith (or saying of the Prophet Muhammad) considered sound by all major authorities and widely circulated among Sunni Islamists states that the history of the umma will go through five phases: first, the Prophet himself will rule over it and teach it the right way to live; then will come the time of caliphate, when caliphs will rule according to the Prophet’s teachings; then the time of benign kingship obtained by force, followed by the time of oppressive kingship; finally, the time of caliphate will rise again, where a caliph will rule once more in accordance with the Prophet’s teachings, and usher in the end of the world.
From this eschatological perspective, Ataturk’s abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1923 marked the end of the third of those five phases, the phase of benign kingship. Since then, the Islamic world has been suffering the injustice of oppressive kingship, whether at the hands of brutal dictators or morally bankrupt monarchs. And though jihadist groups differ over the best way to achieve it, they are united by an ultimate aim, which they share, broadly speaking, with all forms of Islamism: the restoration of the Caliphate as a necessary step along the way to the Last Judgement.

Παρασκευή, 11 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Struggling with reality | On reading Mein Kampf



ANSON RABINBACH

On October 29, 1945, the Allied Control Council in Germany issued a decree dissolving the organizations of the National Socialist Party including its leading press agency and publishing house, the Franz Eher Nachfolger GmbH. Since the headquarters of the firm was in Munich, the property of the Eher Verlag was transferred to the Free State of Bavaria, which also assumed legal succession and trusteeship of its assets. A provisional court in Munich (Spruchkammer) initiated criminal proceedings against Max Amann, who had amassed a considerable fortune as the head of Nazi Germany’s largest publishing enterprise, sentencing him to ten years imprisonment. In 1948, all copyrights were transferred to the Bavarian State Ministry of Finance, including the copyright to Mein Kampf, which belonged to the literary estate of Adolf Hitler. Since German copyright law stipulates that all rights revert to the public domain seventy years after the death of the author, the copyright to Mein Kampf expired on December 31, 2015. Mein Kampf was never actually banned in the Federal Republic of Germany; it was sold in second-hand bookshops, was obtain­able in libraries, and in recent years has been readily available on the internet. Only the publication of the book was proscribed.

Πέμπτη, 10 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Graf Zeppelin: Diving at the unique WW2 German aircraft carrier (photos and videos)


 


Underwater photos by Tomasz “Tomek” Stachura
Graf Zeppelin (Flugzeugträger A, Aircraft Carrier A) was the only aircraft carrier launched by Germany during World War II. It represented part of the Kriegsmarine’s attempt to create a well-balanced oceangoing fleet, capable of projecting German naval power far beyond the narrow confines of the Baltic and North Seas.
A diving team from Poland, including experienced scuba divers Dimitris “Dima” Stavrakakis and acclaimed underwater photographer Tomasz “Tomek” Stachura share with pierrekosmidis.blogspot.com their experience and stunning underwater photos of a unique WW2 Wreck, the only German aircraft carrier that was never meant to see active duty.
Stavrakakis says:
“The diving expedition was well prepared and planned, since we were the first scuba divers to visit the shipwreck, with special permission from the authorities.
“We had two doctors and a hyberbaric chamber on board, because of the demanding nature of those dives at depths ranging from 75 to 95 metres.
By Pierre Kosmidis / pierrekosmidis.blogspot.gr

Τετάρτη, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2016

WWII Super Submarine discovered off the coast of Hawaii




A Second World War mega-submarine of Imperial Japanese Army had been successfully mapped and filmed, a year and half after it was first discovered off the coast of Hawaii.
Decades ahead of its time, the I-400 submarine was among the largest and technologically most advanced submarines of its era. The aircraft hangar of the submarine was large enough to facilitate the launch of at least three float-plane bombers.

Τρίτη, 8 Νοεμβρίου 2016

China's Race To Space Domination

 


To gain an edge here on Earth, China is pushing ahead in space

Before this decade is out, humanity will go where it’s never gone before: the far side of the moon. This dark side—forever facing away from us—has long been a mystery. No human-made object has ever touched its surface. The mission will be a marvel of engineering. It will involve a rocket that weighs hundreds of tons (traveling almost 250,000 miles), a robot lander, and an unmanned lunar rover that will use sensors, cameras, and an infrared spectrometer to uncover billion-year-old secrets from the soil. The mission also might scout the moon’s supply of helium-3—a promising material for fusion energy. And the nation planting its starry flag on this historic trip will be the People’s Republic of China.
After years of investment and strategy, China is well on its way to becoming a space superpower—and maybe even a dominant one. The Chang’e 4 lunar mission is just one example of its scope and ambition for turning space into an important civilian and military domain. Now, satellites guide Chinese aircraft, missiles, and drones, while watching over crop yields and foreign military bases. The growing number of missions involving Chinese rockets and taikonauts are a source of immense national pride.
“China sees space capability as an indication of global-leadership status,” says John ­Logsdon, founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. “It gives China legitimacy in an area that is associated with great power.”

Δευτέρα, 7 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The cutting edge U-boat that sunk in 1945 was raised in 1957 & returned to service – today you can go aboard yourself




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Here she is in all her glory. Type XII introduced streamlining in U-Boat design, resulting in a quantum leap in underwater performance. All submarines before this one were basically designed to submerge and stay under the surface in one place (sans minor pedestrian manoeuvres using electric power). Type XXI could easily steam in circles around any Allied convoy - all under water. source
Here she is in all her glory. Type XII introduced streamlining in U-Boat design, resulting in a quantum leap in underwater performance. All submarines before this one were basically designed to submerge and stay under the surface in one place (sans minor pedestrian manoeuvres using electric power). Type XXI could easily steam in circles around any Allied convoy – all under water. source
U-2540 was an advanced submarine which entered service on 24th February 1945. Less than 3 months later, on 4th May, she was scuttled by her own crew.
In 1957, she was raised and returned to service on 1st September 1960 as the research submarine Wilhelm Bauer. She served in a civilian role under various research projects before decommissioning on 15th March 1982. On 24th April 1984, she was transferred to the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum (German Maritime Museum) as the Technikmuseum Wilhelm Bauer.


The entrance to the museum is adorned by two propellers, one of which is shown here. I'm quite certain that these are the original propellers of this U-boat. source
The entrance to the museum is adorned by two propellers, one of which is shown here. I’m quite certain that these are the original propellers of this U-boat. source
In the spring of 1943, Germany was clearly losing the battle of the Atlantic. Improvements in Allied escort material and tactics, combined with cracking the German military code dramatically increased the U-Boats´ losses, rendering them near useless. The German high command saw its best reaction in the speedy development of improved submarines.

Κυριακή, 6 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The History of Armored Trains And Why They Are Now A Thing Of The Past


by Nikola Budanovic

Autro-Hungarian armored train, 1915. Wikipedia, Public Domain,


Armored trains are a relic of the past by today’s standards but in the late 19th and early 20th century, these big steel-plated locomotives besieged cities, pierced frontlines and supported infantry attacks all over the world.
The beasts of the railroads began their epic service in the American Civil War when a single car was built to defend the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Then war trains saw action in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the First and the Second Boer Wars which led the machines into the 20th century.

A 1861 "Railroad battery" used to protect workers during the American Civil War. By Sketch by William C. Russell, engraver unknown, for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper - Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Page 9, May 18, 1861, No. 287--Vol. XII. From digital scan at http://archive.org/details/franklesliesilluv1112lesl, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20572199
An 1861″Railroad battery” used to protect workers during the American Civil War. By Sketch by William C. Russell, engraver unknown, for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper – Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Page 9, May 18, 1861, No. 287–Vol. XII. From digital scan at http://archive.org/details/franklesliesilluv1112lesl, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20572199
In 1905, these trains were used in the Far East as part of the Russo-Japanese War, where the advantage of a large armored vehicle on rails during harsh winters proved to be irreplaceable. Russia later saw the even more extensive use of armored trains during the First World War and the Civil War which commenced immediately after the October Revolution.
Trains were seen as transport mainly at the time, as they were capable of carrying a large number of people and equipment in a short period of time. Its transport use revolutionized the way battlefield logistics were executed at the time. The fact that the machine was tied to the tracks didn’t represent such a disadvantage, for this was the only dawn of the automobile age and the four-wheelers were still lagging behind the locomotive.
Needless to say, tanks were only in development during the First World War, so flawed designs often lost sympathy in the military, and trains proved to be more reliable. Mounted with cannons and encased with thick armor, the trains were fearsome fighting machines.

A typical Polish artillery car from 1939. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89125
A typical Polish artillery car from 1939. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89125
But trains are perceived as transport mainly today, so this appendix of history takes place in a time before the rapid development of armored vehicles in the interwar period. During the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Second World War armored trains were actively used by all parties included in the conflicts.
In Poland, trains were active in the defense effort of the September campaign against the invading Germans. The Germans, on the other hand, developed super cannons on a train chassis, most famous being the Schwerer Gustav, which saw limited service, but had a devastating effect during the siege of Sevastopol.
Apart from official military use, trains often served as support for partisan groups which staged massive offensives during the last years of the Second World War. Such was the case in Slovakia, where three armored trains ―  The Hurban, Štefánik, and Masaryk ― delivered a decisive blow to the weakened German units in September of 1944.





A Russian WW II-era armoured train with antiaircraft gunners. By Unknown - http://mechcorps.rkka.ru/files/bepo/media/bepo_094.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5150971
A Russian WW II-era armored train with antiaircraft gunners. By Unknown – http://mechcorps.rkka.ru/files/bepo/media/bepo_094.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5150971
The reason for its abandonment was clearly the change within the methods of warfare, as tanks and motorized infantry dictated military doctrines that slowly pushed out the armored train. Since trains were limited to railroads, they were more vulnerable to bombers and artillery.
In addition to that, the railways were more and more subjected to acts of sabotage by commando or partisan units, which slowed the advance of the trains significantly. The mere fact that it relied on the use of tracks turned these war machines into vulnerable giants.
Nevertheless, trains continued to serve in battle even after WWII (but far less actively), most notably in Indochina.
But in the countries of the Eastern Bloc, the use of trains as means of battle was nurtured as a tradition. Even though it was old-fashioned in a way,  it was still suitable for serving as a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launching ramp. In the late stages of the Cold War, the RT-23 Molodets, an intercontinental ballistic missile,  entered service in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Rt 23 complex "Molodets" as a cargo train with a sensor for orientation on the lighting mast. By Vitold Muratov - Сопствено дело, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27780149
Rt 23 complex “Molodets” as a cargo train with a sensor for orientation on the lighting mast. By Vitold Muratov – Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27780149
It was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. One of the options for transporting and launching the missile was from a specially designed train across the Trans-Siberian Railway. The strategic importance of this railway was emphasized during the 1970s after the split between the Soviet and the Chinese government. According to different accounts, four or five armored trains were built in order to protect the southeastern borders of USSR.
Every train included ten main battle tanks, two light amphibious tanks, several AA guns, as well as several armored personnel carriers, supply vehicles and equipment for railway repairs. They were all mounted on open platforms or in special rail cars. Different parts of the train were protected with 5–20mm-thick armor.
So it is not surprising that some of the last known uses of armored trains happened during the conflicts following the collapse of the Soviet Union 1990s, most notably in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, between today’s Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Also, during the Yugoslav Wars from 1991 to 2001, some improvised armored trains were used by paramilitaries in the conflict in Croatia and Bosnia. These were regular passenger trains transformed into terrible land cruisers, capable of laying siege to towns and villages across the war-torn Bosnia.
The most infamous train that was in service during those years was the Krajina Ekspres, employed by the members of a Serbian paramilitary in Bosnia. The train took part in a three-year-long siege of the town of Bihac, which lasted from 1992 to 1995.
Even then the technology was considered to be obsolete, but in a conflict between various paramilitary and guerilla groups, such hardware proved to be intimidating. In late 2015, Pro-Russian militants in the Donbass region of Ukraine were pictured operating a homemade armored train.
One armored train that remains in regular use is that of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which the former received as a gift from the Soviet Union and the latter used heavily for state visits to China and Russia as he had a fear of flying.

Σάββατο, 5 Νοεμβρίου 2016

STUNNING Pics of Allied Planes Pressed Into Nazi Service


The Luftwaffe P-38 Lightning & Other





Ever wondered what happened with the airplanes that made an emergency landing in occupied territory? When captured (relatively) intact they were tested by the Germans and sometimes put into service!
Enjoy these amazing pictures of familiar Allied airplanes in very unfamiliar colors and markings!

Παρασκευή, 4 Νοεμβρίου 2016

2,000-year-old skeleton salvaged from Antikythera shipwreck may hint at earliest evidence of human DNA


antikythera-shipwreck-evidence-human-dna_1
The waters off the coast of Antikythera in Greece hold many mysteries of the ancient world that are yet to be uncovered. Site of the largest shipwreck from antiquity, the region boasts a treasure trove of invaluable artifacts as well as the famous Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old astronomical calculator that is widely considered the world’s oldest computer. Recently, researchers working at the site have discovered a well-preserved skeleton of a young man, which they believe could provide the earliest DNA evidence ever retrieved from a sunken vessel.

Πέμπτη, 3 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Much More Than Code Talking – The Native Americans’ Role in World War II



 Lincoln Riddle




Native Americans made an enormous contribution to the World War II effort. Sadly, their involvement in the conflict is widely overlooked. Sometimes, they are portrayed as codebreakers and nothing more. This is not the case. Native Americans played a huge role in the war from its beginning to its end.
From the time the Europeans began settling in the New World, the population of the Native Americans began decreasing at an alarmingly rapid rate. The group’s population was seeing a little bit of a rise during the beginning of the 21st century. However, another large chunk of this growing population would fall prey to another harsh crime of the Western world – World War II. In fact, 44,000 Native American individuals participated in the war.

Τετάρτη, 2 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The Tortoise, An Unknown WW2 Heavy Tank – Video from The Tank Museum





The Heavy Assault Tank or Assault Gun, Tortoise, was a British tank design developed in World War II but never put into mass production. It was developed for the task of clearing heavily fortified areas and as a result favoured armour protection over mobility.
In the early part of 1943, the Allied forces anticipated considerable resistance in the projected future invasion of Europe, with the enemy fighting from heavily fortified positions such as the Siegfried Line. As a result, a new class of vehicles emerged, in the shape of Assault tanks, which placed maximum armour protection at a higher priority than mobility.