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  • Archive for the 'History' Category

    D-Day plus 75 Years

    Posted by David Foster on 6th June 2019 (All posts by )

    Neptunus Lex:  The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.]

    American Digest:  A walk across a beach in Normandy

    Don Sensing points out that success was by no means assured:  The pivot day of history

    A collection of D-day color photos from Life Magazine

    See Bookworm’s post from 2012, and Michael Kennedy’s photos from 2007

    The Battle of Midway took place from June 4 through June 7, 1942. Bookworm attended a Battle of Midway commemoration event in 2010 and also in 2011: Our Navy–a sentimental service in a cynical society.

    See also  Sgt Mom’s History Friday post from 2014.

    General Electric remembers the factory workers at home who made victory possible.  Also, women building airplanes during WWII, in color and the story of the Willow Run bomber plant.

    A very interesting piece on  the radio news coverage of the invasion

    Posted in Europe, France, History, USA, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    6 June 1944

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th June 2019 (All posts by )

    (a reprise post from The Daily Brief – and re-posted here, now and again)

    So this is one of those historic dates that seems to be slipping faster and faster out of sight, receding into a past at such a rate that we who were born afterwards, or long afterwards, can just barely see. But it was such an enormous, monumental enterprise – so longed looked for, so carefully planned and involved so many soldiers, sailors and airmen – of course the memory would linger long afterwards.

    Think of looking down from the air, at that great metal armada, spilling out from every harbor, every estuary along England’s coast. Think of the sound of marching footsteps in a thousand encampments, and the silence left as the men marched away, counted out by squad, company and battalion, think of those great parks of tanks and vehicles, slowly emptying out, loaded into the holds of ships and onto the open decks of LSTs. Think of the roar of a thousand airplane engines, the sound of it rattling the china on the shelf, of white contrails scratching straight furrows across the moonless sky.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Deep Thoughts, Europe, History, Military Affairs, Reruns | 2 Comments »

    How Allied Planes Got Their D-Day Invasion Stripes and other “Retro-High Tech” Secrets of the Normandy Invasion

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 6th June 2019 (All posts by )

    There have been literally hundreds of books and thousands of articles on the June 6th 1944 invasion of Normandy.  Almost every facet of the invasion has been examined in the last 75 years.  Yet for all that, there are simply some subjects related to the Normandy invasion that professional military historians won’t deal with.

    There are a lot of reasons for this, but at it’s heart, it is simply the case many, if not most, academic military historians got into history because they didn’t want to do math.  When you start talking about bandwidth, frequency, wavelength, quartz crystal radio control, atmospheric transmissiblity, radio ducting, and how all this related to the command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) systems of the Normandy Invasion.  When  you bring up all this “Retro-High Technology,” the vast majority run screaming from the subject.

    This is a real shame as it has left out the story of how the Allies created a C3I system to control all it’s air and sea forces. Projected this C3I system across the English Channel while destroying/stunning/jamming the German C3I system. And then implanted that C3I system in France.  All the while making sure thousands of Allied fighters and anti-aircraft gunners didn’t shoot at each other or down dozens of troop laden transport planes filled with paratroopers or towing gliders, as happened in Operation Husky, the Invasion of Sicily.  It simply hasn’t been addressed.

    This post is my attempt to fill this gap in the historical record by explaining the problems the Western Allies faced. The Operation’s Neptune and Overlord planning process they used to overcome them with cunning yet simple ideas like invasion stripes, and a broad brush outline of how they executed those plans.

    Figure 1. The Allied Operation Neptune Radar Jamming Plan for D-Day Invasion in Normandy. Source: Radar No. 6, page 10, 15 Nov 1944, Office of the Air Communications Officer, Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington.

     

    RETRO-HIGH TECH BACKGROUND

    World War 2’s “Retro-High Tech” warfare was defined on the ground, in the air and on the sea by the use of electronic signals intelligence (SIGINT) with the addition of RADAR for land or sea based airpower.   Both SIGINT and RADAR had to be tied together to an effective radio and wire telecommunications network in order to provide both intelligence services the necessary data for evaluation and the military commanders the processed intelligence to act upon in order to be effective.

    The effective use of RADAR required a very rapid gathering, processing, decision making and dissemination of those decisions over a vast geographic area by radio, telegraph and telephone.   During World War 2 (WW2)  RADAR networks had the addition of first radio direction finding and then “low level” signals intercepts of voice and Morse code in the clear, simple, easy to use, but quickly breakable codes — Organizations doing this were called “Y-Service” by the British — followed eventually by higher level cryptographic code breaking (or “ULTRA”) being added into this network.

    This four legged stool of military sensors, communications, intelligence, and decision making by military commanders is normally referred to as Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence or “C3I”.   In particular, RADAR played the role of “Keystone Military Technology.”   And by “Keystone” I mean an analogy to the biological concept of a “Keystone species” in an ecosystem, not unlike the role of algae in the ocean ecosystem or grass for a prairie ecosystem. This military C3I ecosystem model is far more developed in the 21st century – especially with the arrival of digital electronic computers — but it is simply a conceptual embellishment of this 1940’s “Revolution in Military Affairs.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, War and Peace | 45 Comments »

    Before D-Day, There Was Dieppe

    Posted by David Foster on 1st June 2019 (All posts by )

    June 6 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.  Most Americans surely have at least some knowledge of this event…but relatively few are aware that there was an earlier amphibious assault on occupied Europe. The attack on the French port of Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The objectives were twofold. First, the attack was intended as kind of a “feasibility test” for the large-scale invasion which was to take place later. As stated by General Sir Alan Brooke, “If it was ever intended to invade France it was essential to launch a preliminary offensive on a divisional scale.” Second, the attack was intended to convince Hitler that an invasion was more imminent than it in fact was, thereby leading to the diversion of German forces from other areas.

    The troops assigned to Dieppe were mostly Canadians–5000 of them. There were also British commandos and a small number of American Rangers. Eight destroyers were assigned to the operation, along with 74 Allied air squadrons.

    The attack was a disastrous failure. In the words of military historian John Keegan: “When the badly shocked survivors of that terrible morning were got home and heads counted, only 2,110 of the 4,963 Canadians who had set sail the day before could be found. It became known later that 1,874 were prisoners, but of these 568 were wounded and 72 were to die of their wounds, while 378 of those returning were also wounded. Sixty-five percent of the Canadians engaged had therefore become casualties, almost all of them from the six assaulting infantry battalions, a toll which compared with that of July 1st, 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme and blackest in the British army’s history. The 2nd Canadian Division had, for practical purposes, been destroyed…Strategic as well as human criteria applied in measuring the scale of the disaster. All the tanks which had been landed had been lost…lost also were 5 of the 10 precious Landing Craft Tank. And, auguring worst of all for the future, the damage had been done not by hastily summoned reinforcements, but by the forces already present; the 3 Canadian battalions which had stormed the central beach had been opposed by a single German company–at odds, that is, of 12 to 1…” If one defending unit could stop an attacking force with 12 times the numbers, a successful invasion would be impossible. Keegan: “(the disparity between the power of the attack and the defense) clearly could not be overcome merely by increasing the numbers of those embarked for the assault. that would be to repeat the mistakes of the First World War, when the solution of greater numbers resulted arithmetically in greater casualties for no territorial gains.”

    Captain (later Vice-Admiral) John Hughes-Hallett summarized the lessons of the failure in a report written shortly after the fact. To quote Keegan once again: “‘The lesson of Greatest Importance,’ his report capitalized and italicized, “Is the need for overwhelming fire support, including close support, during the initial stages of the attack,’ It should be provided by ‘heavy and medium Naval bombardment, by air action, by special vessels or craft’ (which would have to be developed) ‘working close inshore, and by using the firepower of the assaulting troops while still seaborne.’”

    The lessons of Dieppe were taken seriously. Keegan goes on to describe the naval firepower assigned to the actual D-day landings carried out by Canadians at Juno Beach: “Heaviest and furthest out were the two battleships Ramillies and Warspite…They both mounted four 15-inch guns and there were two more in Roberts, their accompanying monitor. Their chief task was to engage the large-calibre shore batteries between the Orne and the mouth of the Seine, but so great was their range–over eighteen miles–that they could in emergency be talked in on any target in the British bridgeheads…Immediately port and starboard of the lowering position was disposed a line of twelve cruisers, the smallest, like Diadem, mounting eight 5.25 inch guns, the largest, like Belfast, twelve 6-inch. Both were covering the Canadian beaches…In front of the Canadian lowering position manoeuvred the supporting destroyers, eleven for the Juno sector…And immediately in ahead of the assault-wave infantry was deployed a small fleet of support landing-craft: eight Landing Craft Gun, a sort of small monitor mounting two 4.7 inch guns; four Landing Craft Support, bristling with automatic cannon; eight Landing Craft tank (Rocket), on each of which were racked the tubes of 1,100 5-inch rockets, to be discharged in a single salvo; and eighteen Landing Craft Assault (Hedgerow), which were to fire their loads of twenty-four 60-lb bombs into the beach obstacles and so explode as many as possible of the mines attached to them.”

    In addition to the need for very heavy naval firepower, the D-day planners learned another lesson from Dieppe: rather than immediately seizing a port, or landing in close proximity to one, they avoided ports altogether, landing supplies initially over an open beach and leaving the capture of a port for a later phase in the operation.

    Keegan quotes are from his book, Six Armies in Normandy.

    There is much talk in management and consulting circles these days about the need for organizations to “embrace failure”…much of this talk is fairly glib and does not always consider that certain kinds of failures are truly catastrophic from a human/strategic/economic point of view and are indeed worthy of stringent efforts to prevent their occurrence.  When failures–catastrophic or otherwise–do occur, it is incumbent on responsible leadership to seriously analyze the lessons to be learned and to apply that knowledge diligently.  In the case of Dieppe, that work does indeed appear to have been done.

    Posted in Britain, France, Germany, History, Management, Military Affairs, USA | 53 Comments »

    Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 29th May 2019 (All posts by )

    Andrew_Johnson_photo_portrait_head_and_shoulders,_c1870-1880-Edit1

    I think I see some similarities between the Democrats’ apparent efforts to try to impeach President Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868.

    Andrew Johnson was a “war Democrat,” meaning that he was a Democrat who supported the Union. He was Governor of the border state of Tennessee. Lincoln considered the border states critical in saving the Union.


    “I hope to have God on my side,” Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said early in the war, “but I must have Kentucky.” Unlike most of his contemporaries, Lincoln hesitated to invoke divine sanction of human causes, but his wry comment unerringly acknowledged the critical importance of the border states to the Union cause. Following the attack on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for troops in April 1861, public opinion in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri was sharply divided and these states’ ultimate allegiance uncertain. The residents of the border were torn between their close cultural ties with the South, on the one hand, and their long tradition of Unionism and political moderation on the other.

    In 1864, after Atlanta was taken by Sherman, Lincoln began to think about the situation after the war. He met with Sherman and Grant on March 28, 1865. He had two weeks to live. He talked to them about his plans for after the war ended. Sherman later described the conversation. Lincoln was ready for the post-war period and he told Sherman to assure the Confederate Governor of North Carolina that as soon as the army laid down its arms, all citizens would have their rights restored and the state government would resume civil measures de facto until Congress could make permanent arrangement.

    In choosing Johnson as his VP in 1964, Lincoln was doing two things, he was supporting his argument that no state could secede from the Union. The radical Republicans like Stevens and Sumner had taken the position that states had “committed suicide” by seceding. There was even a movement at the Baltimore Convention to nominate someone else, like Fremont who had been the nominee in 1856. The other was allowing the Convention to choose the VP nominee. It did seat some delegations from states, like Tennessee, that were still the scene of fighting. Only South Carolina was excluded.

    The Convention was actually assumed to be safe for a Hannibal Hamlin renomination. Instead it voted for Johnson by a large margin. The final ballot results were 494 for Johnson, 9 for Hamlin. Noah Brooks, a Lincoln intimate, later recounted a conversation in which Lincoln told him that there might be an advantage in having a War Democrat as VP. Others, including Ward Hill Lamon, later agreed that Lincoln preferred a border state nominee for VP.

    And so, Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat, was elected to an office that no one ever considered as likely to become President. No one anticipated Lincoln’s assassination. However there was a significant segment of radical Republicans that wanted to punish the states that had seceded and those who had joined the Confederacy, contrary to Lincoln’s plans. He had intended to restore the local governments, pending Congressional action to restructure the state governments. The Convention was well before Atlanta fell to Sherman’s army and Lincoln was not convinced he would be re-elected. The War Democrat VP nominee would help with border states.

    Johnson humiliated himself with his inauguration speech, at which he was suspected to be drunk. He may have been ill; Castel cited typhoid fever,[95] though Gordon-Reed notes that there is no independent evidence for that diagnosis

    Six weeks later, Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson was not well prepared to assume the Presidency.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Elections, History, Politics | 21 Comments »

    The Guadalcanal Air Campaign’s “Horseshoe Nail of Victory”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 19th May 2019 (All posts by )

    It’s damned rare, when you read the histories of the Second World War, that you can definitively find a place where one man, with the right skills, at the right place, at the right time, provided a make or break/victory or defeat  level of difference in a military campaign with his contributions.  Let alone one so central to the identities of the US Navy and US Marine Corps as the Guadalcanal campaign. Yet, for the period of September 1942 and March 1943, there was one US Marine non-commissioned officer who did just that.

    He was Master Technical Sargent Dermott H. MacDonnell.  His performance as chief radar operator for Marine Air Group 23’s (MAG-23) SCR-270 radar made the difference between keeping and losing daylight air superiority over Henderson Field in the darkest days of the Guadalcanal campaign.  He was the Guadalcanal Air Campaign’s “Horseshoe Nail of Victory.”

    MTSgt Dermott H. MacDonnell at base of SCR-270 radar on Guadalcanal

    MTSgt Dermott H. MacDonnell at base of SCR-270 radar on Guadalcanal.  His performance with this radar won and kept air superiority in the darkest days of the Guadalcanal campaign Source:  Marine Corps Historical Archives, courtesy of MACCS History

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 39 Comments »

    Book Review: The Caine Mutiny

    Posted by David Foster on 18th May 2019 (All posts by )

    The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

    —-

    (reposted in honor of Herman Wouk, who died yesterday at the age of 103)

    Just about everyone has seen the movie based on this book, featuring Humphrey Bogart’s famous performance as Captain Queeg.  The movie is indeed excellent–the book is even better, and contains a lot that is absent from the film.  And while the film ends basically after the court-martial scene, the book continues to follow the USS Caine and  key characters for the duration of the war.  In this review, I won’t worry about spoilers re plot elements that were included in the movie, but will try to minimize them as far as other aspects of the book are concerned. After summarizing the story, I’ll comment on some of the issue raised by the book. (A 2005 article, referencing The Caine Mutiny, refers to Wouk as “the first neoconservative.”)

    Lieutenant Commander Philip Queeg, a rigid and insecure man, is appointed during WWII to the command of Caine, a decrepit old destroyer-minesweeper…the ship and its slovenly-appearing crew are described as being part of the  “hoodlum navy.”  This is Queeg’s first command, and he is desperately concerned to make it a success, deeply afraid of making a mistake which will lead to his failure.  Ironically, it is specifically this fear of failure and perceived need for perfection which is responsible for many, perhaps most, of his troubles. When Caine runs aground the first time Queeg takes her out, he fails to submit the required grounding report for fear of higher authority’s reaction. When the ship cuts her own towline while assigned to target-towing duty, Queeg cannot make up him mind whether or not to attempt recovery of the drifting target–and radios in for instructions.  Incidents like these do not inspire confidence in Queeg on the part of his superiors.

    The officers and crew of Caine also lose confidence in the captain as his obsessive-compulsive behavior becomes increasingly problematic.  As a result of several incidents during combat, there are also concerns about Queeg’s personal courage. While no one aboard Caine likes Queeg once they get to know him, the captain’s most vocal critic is an officer named Thomas Keefer, an intellectual who is an aspiring novelist. Keefer has a cynical attitude toward the Navy, which he refers to as “a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots,” and advises Willie Keith, a young officer who is his subordinate,  that “If you’re not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you can only operate well by pretending to be one.”

    The ship’s executive officer is Steve Maryk. In civilian life a commercial fisherman, Maryk now hopes to make the Navy his career. Maryk is a fine seaman and a good leader, but not a highly-educated man–he is somewhat in awe of Tom Keefer’s intellectual attainments.

    In repeated conversations, Keefer tells Maryk that the captain must be mentally ill, using psychological jargon and concepts that Maryk does not pretend to understand. Maryk is concerned enough about Queeg’s behavior that he begins keeping a “medical log” on Queeg, with the idea of presenting this to higher authority if necessary and possible. The time seems right when Caine shares an anchorage with the battleship carrying Admiral Halsey:  Maryk takes his log, takes Keefer in tow, and heads over to the New Jersey to see if they can speak with the Admiral.  But Keefer, at the last moment, chickens out, asserting that Halsey, with his experience aboard large well-managed ships, would never be able to understand the state of things aboard a hoodlum-navy ship like Caine, and that raising the issue with him would only get the two of them in trouble.  Feeling unable to make the case without support, Maryk gives up on talking to Halsey and the two officers return to Caine.

    But soon thereafter, the old ship encounters a typhooon. Fleet course is 180 degrees, due south–away from the wind–and Queeg refuses to adopt the safer course of heading into the wind even though communication with other ships, as well as radar contact, has been lost.

    An unbelievably big gray wave loomed on the port side, high over the bridge. It came smashing down. Water spouted into the wheelhouse from the open wing, flooding to Willie’s knees. The water felt surprisingly warm and sticky, like blood. “Sir, we’re shipping water on the goddamn bridge!” said Maryk shrilly. “We’ve got to come around into the wind!”

    “Heading 245, sir.” Stilwell’s voice was sobbing. “She ain’t answering to the engines at all, sir!”

    The Caine rolled almost completely over on its port side.  Everybody in the wheelhouse except Stilwell went sliding across the streaming deck and piled up against the windows.  The sea was under their noses, dashing up against the glass.  “Mr Maryk, the light on this gyro just went out!” screamed Stilwell, clinging desperately to the wheel.  The wind howled and shrieked in Willie’s ears.  He lay on his face on the deck, tumbling around in salt water, flailing for a grip at something solid.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, History, Human Behavior, Management, Military Affairs, Nautical Book Project, Reruns, Transportation | 9 Comments »

    An Unexpected Defeat

    Posted by David Foster on 11th May 2019 (All posts by )

    ‘When the crocus blossoms,’ hiss the women in Berlin,
    ‘He will press the button, and the battle will begin.
    When the crocus blossoms, up the German knights will go,
    And flame and fume and filthiness will terminate the foe…
    When the crocus blossoms, not a neutral will remain.’

    (A P Herbert, Spring Song, quoted in To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne)

    On May 10, 1940, German forces launched an attack against Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Few people among the Allies imagined that France would collapse in only six weeks: Churchill, for example, had a high opinion of the fighting qualities of the French army. But collapse is what happened, of course, and we are still all living with the consequences. General Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain on the French staff, wrote in 1967:

    The collapse of the French Army is the most important event of the twentieth century.

    If it’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. If France had held up to the German assault as effectively as it was expected to do, World War II would probably have never reached the nightmare levels that it in fact did reach. The Hitler regime might well have fallen. The Holocaust would never have happened. Most likely, there would have been no Communist takeover of Eastern Europe.

    This campaign has never received much attention in America; it tends to be regarded as something that happened before the “real” war started. Indeed, many denizens of the Anglosphere seem to believe that the French basically gave up without a fight–which is a considerable exaggeration given the French casualties of around 90,000 killed and 200,000 wounded. But I think the fall of France deserves serious study, and that some of the root causes of the defeat are scarily relevant to today’s world.

    First, I will very briefly summarize the campaign from a military standpoint, and will then shift focus to the social and political factors involved in the defeat.

    France’s border can be thought of in terms of three sectors. In the north, the border with with Belgium. Early French military planning had been based on the idea of a strong cooperative relationship with Belgium: however, in the years immediately prior to 1940, that country had adopted a position of neutrality and had refused to do any joint military planning with France. In the south, the border was protected by the forts of the Maginot Line (the southern flank of which was anchored by mountainous territory bordering on Switzerland and Italy.) In between these regions was the country of the Ardennes. It was heavily wooded and with few roads, and the French high command did not believe it was a feasible attack route for strong forces–hence, the Maginot Line had not been extended to cover it, and the border here was protected only with field fortifications.

    The French plan was based on the assumption that the main German attack would come through Belgium. Following the expected request from the Belgian government for assistance, strong French forces were to advance into that country and counterattack the Germans. In the Maginot and Ardennes sectors, holding actions only were envisaged. While the troops manning the Maginot were of high quality, the Ardennes forces included a large proportion of middle-aged reservists, and had been designated as lower-class units.

    The opening moves seemed to fit expectations. The Germans launched a powerful attack through Belgium, and the Belgian government made the expected requests for help. Andre Beaufre:

    Doumenc sent me at once to Vincennes to report to General Gamelin (the French supreme commander). I arrived at 6.30 AM at the moment when the order had just been given for the huge machine to go into operation: the advance into Belgium. Gamelin was striding up and down the corridor in his fort, humming, with a pleased and martial air which I had never seen before. It has been said since that he expected defeat, but I could see no evidence of it at the time.

    There was heavy fighting in Belgium…but the German attack on this country had served to mask their real point of maximum effort. Early in the morning of the 13th, it became clear that massive German forces were moving through the Ardennes, which had turned out to not be so impassable after all. A massive German air attack paved the way for a crossing of the Meuse river and the capture of the town of Sedan. French officers were stunned by the speed of the German advance–they had expected delays while the Germans brought up heavy artillery, not understanding that dive bombers could play a role similar to that traditionally played by artillery. And the bombing was psychologically-shattering, especially for inexperienced troops. The famous historian Marc Bloch had been exposed to many artillery barrages while fighting in the First World War: in reflecting on his service in 1940, he observed that he found aerial bombing much more frightening even though it was, objectively, probably less dangerous. (Bloch later joined the Resistance and was captured by the Germans and shot.)

    The French command never really recovered from the unexpected thrust through the Ardennes and the fall of Sedan. Beginning on May 27, the British evacuated their troops at Dunkirk. On June 14, Prime Minister Paul Reynaud resigned. He was succeeded by Philippe Petain, a hero of the First World War, who immediately sought terms with the Germans. The “armistice”–basically a surrender–was signed on June 20. By Hitler’s order, it was signed in the same railway car where the armistice of 1918 had been signed. Hitler was present in person for the ceremony: William Shirer was fifty yards away, and was studying his expression through binoculars: It is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph.

    Many military factors were involved in the defeat–obsolete doctrine on armored forces, inadequate use of radio communications, a strange and cumbersome military organization structure. But the roots of the 1940 debacle are not to be found only–or perhaps even primarily–in strictly military matters. A major role was played by certain characteristics of French society and politics of the time–and some of these factors are spookily similar to some of the things that are going on in America today.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, War and Peace | 38 Comments »

    The Transcontinental Railroad is 150

    Posted by David Foster on 9th May 2019 (All posts by )

    This month marks the 150th anniversary of the US Transcontinental Railroad… surely one of the most important ‘infrastructure’ projects of all time. Railway Age reprints the contemporary coverage from their predecessor publication, Railway Times.

    Union Pacific has completed the restoration of their ‘Big Boy’ steam locomotive, #4014, and will be running it, together with Living Legend #844, from Ogden, Utah to Cheyenne, Wyoming, as part of the transcontinental commemoration.

    Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy is, as the title suggests, about the Canadian transcontinental railroad rather than the American, but is a fitting song for the occasion nonetheless. Also, the Smithsonian website Folklife has a playlist of 20 songs that are in some way related to the transcontinental, with some information about each.  (only short samples available unless you have Spotify)

    It seems likely that, absent the transcontinental railroad, the United States would not have been able to stay together as a nation on a continental basis–certainly, long-distance transportation technology acts as a centripetal force to counterbalance the many centrifugal forces that tend to separate geographies politically.  I’ve previously cited the thoughts of Edward Porter Alexander, a Confederate general turned railroad president, on this topic, while raising the question as to how far this effect can and should extend.

    Posted in History, Tech, Transportation, USA | 31 Comments »

    Technology, War, and Education

    Posted by David Foster on 6th May 2019 (All posts by )

    From NBCLearn, here’s a series of short videos focused on WWII aircraft, technology, and people and intended for K-12 classroom use.  Each video is accompanied by two lesson plans, one focused on relevant STEM topics and the other with “social studies” topics.

    For example, the STEM lesson plan that goes with the Pearl Harbor video is mainly about the attributes of the Zero Fighter .  The “social studies” lesson starts with the teacher asking students “Who wants to tell the class what has been happening in Europe since World War I” and “Who wants to tell the class what has been happening in the eastern hemisphere?”  (it would be interesting to hear some of the answers) and then progresses to other related topics, including a comparison of FDR’s speech after Pearl Harbor with the speech of GWB after 9/11.

    I thought it was an interesting and worthwhile approach.  I would have preferred the videos to be a little longer (they’re about 5 minutes each), and thought there were some missed opportunities, misguided emphases, and a few apparent actual errors in some of the lesson plans.  For example, the “social studies” piece on the Night Witches (female Russian night bomber pilots) could have included something about the situation in the Soviet Union at the time, and the Eastern Front War in general…same point for The Flying Tank, the video about the Sturmovik ground attack plane.  The lesson on the B-17 Ball Turret could have usefully included a link the Randall Jarrell’s brutal poem, Death of the Ball Turret Gunner.  The STEM lesson plan on the ME-262 jet fighter talks about the benefits of the swept wing for “balance on its nosewheel”…”it also made the ME-262 faster”–but didn’t really get across the reasons why a swept wing is important as airspeeds get near the speed of sound.  The discussion of the Po-2 biplane used by the Night Witches implies that the plane had good gliding capabilities:  I seriously doubt this, given the low wing aspect ratio (as noted in the lesson plan) and the high drag generally characteristic of the biplane types. It would glide fine, but not for far…which was appropriate given its mission.

    I thought that, overall, this was a very worthwhile effort.  The videos were co-produced with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions.  NBCLearn also has a whole lot of other educational videos.

    Posted in Aviation, Education, History, Tech, War and Peace | 10 Comments »

    America, the Land of the Free Lunch and the Home of the Brave Easily Traumatized

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 3rd May 2019 (All posts by )

    As a Boston area baby boomer, I belted out the National Anthem in my youth with conviction at sporting events. Massachusetts educators emphasized its role as the birthplace of the American Revolution from distant unaccountable politicians (leaving out the crucial role of fake news written and published by the infamous brewer’s son Sam Adams) and the motivating principles, summed up by Virginian Patrick Henry’s immortal phrase: “give me liberty or give me death.”

    In the 1970s Boston’s U.S. Congressman Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill quipped “all politics is local.” Now the progressive daily prayer on Twitter begins “Our father, who art in Washington D.C. give us money – a guaranteed minimum income, reparations, welfare, entitlements, etc. and other free stuff – food, housing, medical care, a college education.”

    Bostonian President Kennedy’s appeal to voters’ patriotism in the 1960’s to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country” is reversed today. Patriotism is as out of favor with many millenials (who proudly display their participatory soccer trophies) as are the Boston (now New England) Patriots for hogging the Super Bowl Trophy this century, stigmatizing other teams as “losers.”

    Competing Foreign Ideologies

    Traumatized by competing ideas, many millenials would trade U.S. competitive capitalism and individual freedom for a free lunch. “History doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes” according to Mark Twain. The core contemporary national political issue is whether America’s popular progressive ”social democracy” ideology rhymes with its founding principles and historical values or foreign ideologies that threaten the body politic?

    The Communism Threat

    The Bolshevik Revolution ended an anachronistic Imperial dynasty in a country with no prior democratic traditions. Communist intellectual Leon Trotsky promised a utopian Marxist socialism, international brotherhood and the end of nation-state competition for resources as the state would wither away. Communist atrocities under Stalin, murders and deaths measured in the tens and hundreds of millions, predated the WW II Western Alliance in a desperate attempt to industrialize a backward agrarian society.

    Stalin promoted opaque Russian Imperialism under the banner of brotherhood. Soviet skullduggery in post War elections in Europe and around the globe – and CIA involvement to counter it (or visa-versa) – was widespread. The post WW I & II “Red Scare” of communist infiltration of state institutions in the U.S. was somewhat over-blown, but the belief that communists could be elected in a democracy based on false promises then turn dictatorial and refuse to relinquish power as has occurred most recently in Venezuela, was well founded. Fearing such a cancer on the body politic, the Communist Control Act of 1954 outlawing the Communist Party in the United States suppressing free speech passed with the full support of progressive Democrats who wanted to distance themselves from ”Uncle Joe” Stalin (and later, many others, including Mao).

    Fascism, Communism’s Cousin and Bitter Political Rival

    Hitler came to power in democratic Germany promising economic prosperity, understandably as wartime consumer deprivation far exceeded that of France and Britain (where communist sympathies were widespread), and post war reparations inhibited a consumer recovery. Although Mussolini, the founder of European fascism, once headed the Communist Party in Italy, and Hitler founded the National Socialist Party, neither implemented socialism domestically. By national, they meant a return to Germany’s pre-War greatness: consumers initially benefitted from a massive boom in defense spending before once again suffering wartime deprivations.

    The nationalist agenda was less imperial than traditional. European history since 1453 is largely related to border wars as Germany is caught in the middle between the British and French empires to the west and Russian empire to the east: only the scale of Nazi eastward border expansion represented a radical departure. In Hitler’s view this rhymed with American westward expansion and genocide of the indigenous populations. He persecuted the Jews, even ethnic Germans, based on Nazi perception of Jewish financing of German enemies on the WW I battlefield and in the labor movement fomenting unrest on the home front and their perceived outsized influence in the Bolshevik communist movement (Trotsky was Jewish).

    Hitler inherited a failing German economy. He was aware that the economic potential of the western capitalist powers were orders of magnitude greater and growing faster, causing him to knowingly take enormous risks to address what he believed was an existential threat. Even as he acquired new territories he was playing catch up. Unlike Stalin, he was not driven by an anti-capitalist economic ideology, but intervention in the German economy increased as the Wehrmacht consumed an ever increasing share of GDP – over half at the peak – relying on private enterprise and the profit and price mechanism to the extent feasible (and arguably more than FDR) relative to the size of the war effort. Dictatorial power and crony capitalist corruption – favoritism of the political elite – was an inevitable result of a rising government share of the economy.

    Racist ideology contributed to his miscalculation of the military industrial ability of the Soviet Union, where his early luck inevitably ran out, after which a war of attrition would exploit Germany’s relative economic weakness. Economic desperation determined the magnitude of Nazi atrocities, less in scope and subsequent to those of the communists in the Soviet Union, but driven by racism.

    In 1977 the U.S. Supreme Court extended freedom of speech protection to the National Socialist Party of America, a racist fringe rather than socialist party.

    European Social Democracy

    In the wake of WW II deprivation and devastation in Europe, “social democracy” – a greater role of the state in providing household necessities – was viewed as a more benign alternative to communism. Britain, particularly Scotland, experimented primarily with socialized housing and medical care until the late 1970s when, as British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher put it, they were running out of “other peoples’ money.”It was also tried in the small relatively homogeneous Nordic countries, running out of money in Sweden in the 1990s and Finland more recently. These experiments were not democratic socialism or the fascist prone democratic capitalism, as all were financed by taxing capitalist-created income and resulted in retrenchment rather than socio-political collapse when they went to far.

    American Progressivism Rhymes with Fascism and Communism, not European Social Democracy

    But for democrat skullduggery, Socialist Bernie Sanders might well have been the 2016 Democratic candidate and also won the election. Most of his younger Democrat competitors for 2020 support the Green New Deal, the latest utopian vision. Their success hinges on rhyming this vision with small-state European social democracy, but the American progressive movement has always focused on the entire nation. When a failed ideology is adopted by a large too-big-to-fail nation-state like Germany or the Soviet Union in the past or the U.S. at present, unaccountable politicians cover-up and double down on failure until it is systemic and seismic like the 2008 financial crisis.

    Progressivism’s historical nationalism and racism and current methods of intervention in a capitalist market economy rhyme with fascism: its premise that economic progress is attributable to politics and its utopian goal of social justice without regard to national borders both rhyme with communism: the inherent dictatorial lack of political or fiscal accountability rhymes with both.

    American Nationalism

    Federal power ballooned during the wars of progressive presidents TR, Wilson, FDR and LBJ. That American patriotism is excessively nationalistic has been an issue since the Monroe Doctrine and subsequent Manifest Destiny. America’s support of free trade post WW II supported by American hegemony over trade routes worked well, as it did under British hegemony leading up to WW I. But the post WW II order is once again breaking down as a consequence of increasing nation-state rivalry over resources and trade routes. President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is daily attacked not as patriotism but Nazi racist nationalism. The future of American Hegemony should be the central issue in the next presidential election.

    Racism and Sexism

    In a competitive free market economy those who would inappropriately discriminate by race or sex always lose out, always: racism requires political protection from competition. Socialism is inherently discriminatory; the state determines who gets what and who pays. The Democratic Party was the party of slavery, Jim Crow and voter discrimination; it remains the party of restrictive working laws and regulations (with a “disparate impact” on black youth employment) e.g., with well above market “living” minimum wages, credentialing and anti-immigrant worker prohibitions, and admission quotas. Winners beget losers: progressives once again discriminate against Asians.

    The progressive party founded the eugenics movement targeted to limit the black population from which Hitler borrowed ideology. Roe versus Wade represents a eugenic success story, as abortion for the white population at the time required no more than a bus ticket to the next state. Now about half of black pregnancies are terminated.

    The Road to Serfdom

    The promise of “free stuff” to those mostly not yet paying taxes and of cancelling their debt likely explains college students’ preference for socialism over capitalism, and the myth of socialist environmentalism the Green New Deal environmental goals.

    Income inequality and Social Justice in a Democracy

    America’s social welfare system while not as generous as the Nordic countries generally provides a standard of living sufficient by international comparison and luxurious compared to the deprivations suffered when fascism and communism incubated. Competitive market capitalism produces unequal incomes, the source of its ability to raise the living standards of all through increased productivity. Progressive policies that cross the constitutional threshold of equality of opportunity to demand equality of economic outcomes by broadening the base of the politically favored are a subset of crony capitalism that favors the political elite at the expense of society generally, a failed ideology. Socialism fails every time because incentives matter.

    The Green New Deal: a Fentanyl induced Utopian High

    Concern for the environment and the human impact on it is warranted, but what to do about it is a difficult question primarily for foreign diplomats. The Green New Deal adopted by only the U.S. would provide negligible environmental benefit. But as virtually all past environmental initiatives, it would be a bonanza for the crony capitalists and their political patrons. Whether or not the Green New Deal cost $100 trillion or only $10 trillion, it is a road to serfdom for millenials, with no exit provided by the archaic modern monetary theory.

    Democrats Cross the Rubicon

    “The founders of the Roman Republic, like the American founding fathers, placed checks and balances on the power of their leaders. The Romans, however, came up with a way to sidestep these checks and balances when strong leadership was needed, such as a time of crisis.” 

    Communism, fascism, the New Deal and social democracy were all implemented in response to an existential crisis. It is no accident that progressives exploited the “environmental crisis” to push their social justice agenda: these faux crises don’t justify national socialism, an existential threat to the body politic.

    The majority of American voters – positively correlated to age – still properly associate socialism with the totalitarian communist and Nazi regimes rather than European democratic socialism as socialist Sanders’ argues, undercut by his Moscow honeymoon. The two big progressive myths are that European social democracies never run out of money and that “other peoples’ money” i.e., the other party’s voters, will somehow finance the socialist agenda. Green New Deal proponents refused to vote for it to avoid voter accountability for the costs. National socialism and the virtual one party rule necessary to achieve it provides the best explanation for the rest of the 2020 “democratic” agenda.

    Progressive Social Democracy isn’t Nordic

    The population of California is four times that of the largest Nordic country Sweden. It, like all the progressive states is over taxed and over indebted. Obamacare impregnated promiscuous states with these twin fiscal burdens with a whispered promise of a subsequent opaque federal bailout when they matured, making states subservient to D.C. like Soviet Oblasts to Moscow.

    Suppression of Free Speech

    The free speech amendment is listed first as the foremost safeguard against infringement of individual freedom and equality under the law. The Communist Party remains illegal in U.S. due to its meretricious promises, now virtually indistinguishable from those of progressives. Conservative speech to expose the fallacies of progressive ideology and the threat to the Republic is suppressed by the democratic state apparatus. Free speech invites propaganda, including Russian translations, think tank and academic “research” but should be protected, even for communists and neo-Nazis.

    From Republicanism to Democratic Totalitarianism and One Party Rule

    The American experiment with a limited government republic has been undergoing constant change since the “peoples” candidate Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party and seventh President, while winning the popular vote in the post-universal male suffrage election of 1824 lost in the Electoral College, which he then proposed to abolish. Subsequent progressive constitutional amendments extended voting rights to former slaves and their decedents (15th), women (19th) and the direct election of Senators (17th).

    Even with control of the House, Senate and Presidency, this wasn’t enough to pass Obamacare, arguably the stealth stepping stone to single payer Medicare for all. Unprecedented political maneuvering and prosecutorial and administrative abuse by then FBI Director Robert Mueller was employed. Then a lone opinion of Chief Justice Roberts relied on another progressive amendment, the 16th enabling unlimited power to tax, to save it.

    Socialism in a large diverse nation like the U.S. requires permanent dictatorial powers of enforcement, as highlighted by the requirements of Obamacare and the controversy over the individual mandate. This explains the progressive platform on: voting rights; opposing voter registration, supporting immigration of dependents with voting rights rather than working rights, eliminating the Electoral College, reducing the voting age to 16 years old, registering prisoners, and drive-by voter registration: the Supreme Court; nominating liberal (i.e., anti-Constitutional) Supreme Court Justices, packing the Supreme Court (again), and: the apparent attempt by the Obama Administration to implement PRI style hereditary presidential selection. This rhymes with Mao’s “people’s democratic dictatorship” not the individual liberty of the American Lion.

    To quote America’s greatest economist Milton Friedman:  “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

    Kevin Villani

     
     
    —-

    Kevin Villani, chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985, is a principal of University Financial Associates. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Culture, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Leftism, Libertarianism, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Public Finance, Taxes, Tea Party, Tradeoffs, Trump, USA | 6 Comments »

    General MacArthur’s Bataan Gang Radio Man

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 19th April 2019 (All posts by )

    One of the minor mysteries of World War II is why President Franklin Roosevelt not only ordered General Douglas MacArthur to abandon his troops in the Philippines, but went out of his way to cover up the $500,000 payment from Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon to MacArthur.

    See:

    MacArthur Given $500,000
    By Jim Warren and
    KnightRidder; Copyright (c) 1980 Lexington Herald
    January 29, 1980
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1980/01/29/macarthur-given-500000/3ad863a3-8caa-4792-b038-d91bb3f804b4/?utm_term=.241d49fd22bd

     

    The Secret Payment
    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/macarthur-secret-payment/

    The best place for a man as difficult, politically powerful and utterly troublesome as General MacArthur is as far away from Washington, DC as possible.  What is farther away than the inside of an Imperial Japanese prison cell in Manchuria?  Yet President Roosevelt went out of his way to give the order to General MacArthur to run to Australia.

    Why?

    The general answer from historians like Ian Toll and Geoffrey Perret is that MacArthur became an immensely popular heroic figure during the fall of the Philippines.  And that fact combined with the fallout from Pearl Harbor made MacArthur’s loss a political danger to the Roosevelt Administration.  This deus ex machina explanation has always been very unsatisfying to me as it’s just assumed with no underlying “why did that happen.”

    It turns out there is in fact an easy explanation which the likes of Toll and Perret missed because there has never been a book-length biography of MacArthur’s chief signal officer, General Spencer Ball Akin, who was MacArthur’s “Bataan Gang Radio Man.”  

    General Spencer Ball Akin

    It turns out that between the beginning of the war and MacArthur’s evacuation from Corregidor, then-Colonel Akin’s radio program, “The Voice of Freedom,” was broadcast to the world, three times daily.  The Corregidor based broadcast facilities could and did reach San Francisco, California.  These radio programs were then picked up by the Hearst papers on the West Coast and later by the American radio broadcast networks.  These messages also reached Australia,  when the radio atmospherics were good, either directly or rebroadcast from America.

    In the utter desert of good war news in the first months of WW2, then-Colonel Akin’s stirring propaganda broadcasts of American and Filipino resistance to the Japanese onslaught — when compared to the fall of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, plus the German Operation Drumbeat U-boat attacks off the US East Coast — was drunken down in the English speaking world like artesian spring water.

    It was this turn of events shaping the publics of America and Australia that made General MacArthur’s loss to the Japanese a danger to President Roosevelt’s power as a wartime leader, thus forcing his hand to save the general he would have liked to do without.

    While MacArthur’s quietest and most spectacularly talented member of his “Bataan Gang,**General Spencer Ball Akin, went on to become Chief Signal Officer of the US Army from 1947 – 1951.  Akin never got the wider public recognition his wartime accomplishments warranted…but that was pretty much as both Generals Akin and MacArthur preferred it.

    -End-

     

    ** The “Bataan Gang” refers to the 18 military personnel including General Douglas MacArthur, who were rescued from Corregidor by four PT Boats in March 1942 and eventually traveled to Australia by B-17 Flying Fortresses and then by train to Melbourne, Australia.

     

    Posted in History, War and Peace | 63 Comments »

    An Archive Post: Obamania & Spike Lee

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th April 2019 (All posts by )

    (Another one of my archive posts – this one from … urp… 2008, on my original military blog.

    An age ago when I had to keep closer track of what currently bubbled up to the top of popular culture and remained there as a sort of curdled froth, suitable for generating one-liners for whatever radio show I was doing for Armed Forces Radio, I read a long interview with Spike Lee. This would have been about the time that he floated into everyone’s cultural consciousness as a specifically black filmmaker, with She’s Gotta Have It and Do The Right Thing; a new fresh voice with a quirky and nuanced take on being black in America. It was a revealing interview which left me shaking my head, because it seemed to me that Mr. Lee was animated by a deeply held conviction that the American establishment and white people everywhere were coldly, malevolently and persistently dedicated with every fiber of their being and every hour of every day, to the sole objective of “keeping the black man down.” It was the top item on the agenda at every business meeting, every political gathering, and the topic of fevered discussion at every dinner table and whispered in every cloakroom, yea verily, wherever were white Americans gathered – there was the grand conspiracy to ruin the black American community. Or at least make them have a crappy day.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Deep Thoughts, History, Urban Issues | 6 Comments »

    A Thumbnail History of the American Fighter Drop Tank 1923-2000

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 7th April 2019 (All posts by )

    The flying services of the American military pioneered the use of fighter drop tanks, but there is no one place where you can go to get a historical ‘thumbnail sketch’ of their introduction and history of use.  This blog post is my attempt to answer that need.

    Drop tanks have been around over 90 years in American aviation, but their history prior to the 1942–1945 Combined Bomber Offensive is very obscure for a lot of reasons. The biggest historically American manufacturer of drop tanks Sargent Fletcher only reaches back to its 1940 founding. (It was bought by a British company in 1994.) So the recorded American aircraft drop tank history looks as follows:

    Sargent Fletcher drop tank history from 1940 to 2000

    Sargent Fletcher drop tank history from 1940 to 2000

    The problem with the history above is that the first operational use of drop tanks pre-dated the founding of Sargent Fletcher by almost 18 years.

    On March 5, 1923 the 1st Pursuit Group of the US Army Air Service flew their Boeing MB-3As Pursuit planes with 37 gallon centerline drop tanks and achieved a radius of action of 400 miles!

    Boeing built and Thomas-Morse designed MB-3 assigned to Billy Mitchell, at Selfridge Field, Michigan, Source: Wikipedia.

    Boeing built and Thomas-Morse designed MB-3 assigned to Billy Mitchell, at Selfridge Field, Michigan, Source: Wikipedia.

     

    See article link and text:

    Selfridge ANGB: Home of the Drop Tank

    https://www.127wg.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/865880/selfridge-angb-home-of-the-drop-tank/

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, War and Peace | 33 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Brexit: Crisis or Success?

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th March 2019 (All posts by )

    What you are witnessing in the UK is not a crisis. It is a success. When most geographical units secede from a larger entity, they do so unilaterally, and sometimes violently. They do it through war or, if lucky, soft power. The UK is doing everything in accord with publci int’l law, EU law, and its domestic legal system. No armies involved. No violence. No threats of violence. Just elections. It is democracy and it is messy. It compares well to our war dead in 1776 and 1861. The world should be taking lessons–not mourning Brexit.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Elections, Europe, History, Political Philosophy, Politics | 13 Comments »

    Book Review: The Year of the French (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 17th March 2019 (All posts by )

    The Year of the French, by Thomas Flanagan

    (This being St Patrick’s day, I’m again taking advantage of the hook to re-post this review, in the hope of inspiring a few more people to read this incredibly fine historical novel)

    Ralph Peters calls this book “the finest historical novel written in English, at least in the twentieth century,” going on to say “except for ‘The Leopard,’ I know of no historical novel that so richly and convincingly captures the ambience of a bygone world.”

    In August of 1798, the French revolutionary government landed 1000 troops in County Mayo to support indigenous Irish rebels, with the objective of overthrowing British rule in Ireland.  The Year of the French tells the (fictionalized but fact-based) story of these events from the viewpoint of several characters, representing different groups in the complex and strife-ridden Irish social structure of the time.

    Owen MacCarthy is a schoolmaster and poet who writes in the Gaelic tradition.  He is pressed by illiterate locals to write a threatening letter to a landlord who has evicted tenants while switching land from farming to cattle-raising.  With his dark vision of how an attempt at rebellion must end–“In Castlebar.  They will load you in carts with your wrists tied behind you and take you down to Castlebar and try you there and hang you there”–MacCarthy is reluctant to get involved, but he writes the letter.

    Sam Cooper, the recipient of the letter, is a small-scale landlord, and captain of the local militia.  Indigenously Irish, his family converted to Protestantism several generations ago to avoid the crippling social and economic disabilities imposed on Catholics. Cooper’s wife, Kate, herself still Catholic, is a beautiful and utterly ruthless woman…she advises Cooper to respond to the letter by rounding up “a few of the likeliest rogues,”  jailing and flogging them, without any concern for actual guilt or innocence. “My God, what a creature you are for a woman,”  Cooper responds. “It is a man you should have been born.”  “A strange creature that would make me in your bed,” Kate fires back, “It is a woman I am, and fine cause you have to know it…What matters now is who has the land and who will keep it.”

    Ferdy O’Donnell  is a young hillside farmer on Cooper’s land.  Far back in the past, the land was owned by the O’Donnell family…Ferdy had once shown Cooper  “a valueless curiosity, a parchment that recorded the fact in faded ink the colour of old, dried blood.”

    Arthur Vincent Broome is a Protestant clergyman who is not thrilled by the “wild and dismal region” to which he has been assigned, but who performs his duties as best he can. Broome is resolved to eschew religious bigotry, but…”I affirm most sincerely that distinctions which rest upon creed mean little to me, and yet I confess that my compassion for their misery is mingled with an abhorrence of their alien ways…they live and thrive in mud and squalour…their music, for all that antiquarians and fanatics can find to say in its flavor, is wild and savage…they combine a grave and gentle courtesy with a murderous violence that erupts without warning…”‘

    Malcolm Elliott is a Protestant landlord and solicitor, and a member of the Society of United Irishmen.  This was a revolutionary group with Enlightenment ideals, dedicated to bringing Catholics and Protestants together in the cause of overthrowing British rule and establishing an Irish Republic.  His wife, Judith, is an Englishwoman with romantic ideas about Ireland.

    John Moore, also a United Irishman, is a member of one of the few Catholic families that have managed to hold on to their land.  He is in love with Ellen Treacy, daughter of another prominent Catholic family: she returns his love, but believes that he is caught in a web of words that can only lead to disaster.  “One of these days you will say a loose word to some fellow and he will get on his horse and ride off to Westport to lay an information with Dennis Browne, and that will be the last seen of you”

    Dennis Browne is High Sheriff of Mayo…smooth, manipulative, and devoted to the interests of the very largest landowners in the county, such as his brother Lord Altamont and the mysterious Lord Glenthorne, the “Big Lord” who owns vast landholdings and an immense house which he has never visited.

    Randall MacDonnell is a Catholic landowner with a decrepit farm and house, devoted primarily to his horses.  His motivations for joining the rebellion are quite different from those of the idealistic United Irishmen…”For a hundred years of more, those Protestant bastards have been the cocks of the walk, strutting around on acres that belong by rights to the Irish…there are men still living who remember when a son could grab his father’s land by turning Protestant.”

    Jean Joseph Humbert is the commander of the French forces.  A former dealer in animal skins, he owes his position in life to the revolution.  He is a talented commander, but  the battle he is most concerned about is the battle for status and supremacy between himself and  Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Charles Cornwallis, the general who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, is now in charge of defeating the French and the rebels and pacifying the rebellious areas of Ireland.   Seen through the eyes of  a young aide who admires him greatly, Cornwallis is portrayed as a basically kindly man who can be hard when he thinks it necessary, but takes no pleasure in it.  “The color of war had long since bleached from his thoughts, and it remained for him only a duty to be scrupulously performed.”

    This book is largely about the way in which the past lives on in the present, both in the world of physical objects and the world of social relationships.  Two characters who make a brief appearance are Richard Manning, proprietor of a decrepit and debt-laden castle, and his companion Ellen Kirwan:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Britain, France, History, Ireland | 2 Comments »

    The June 1944 Normandy Invasion and the Bane of Technologically Illiterate Military Leaders in the Luftwaffe

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 10th March 2019 (All posts by )

    This blog post on “The June 1944 Normandy Invasion and the Bane of Technologically Illiterate Officers in the Luftwaffe” marks the second in a series of posts departing from past history columns I’ve written for Chicagoboyz in that it is exploring a theme I refer to as “The Bane of Technologically Illiterate Military Leaders.”[1] .

    The issue with ‘Technologically Illiterate Military Leaders‘ I’ll be exploring in this and future articles is that such leaders tend to make the same classes of mistakes over and over again.  And when those military leaders reach flag rank on the bones of theories and doctrines that fail the test of combat through their technological illiteracy.  They then bury the real reasons why those doctrines failed behind walls of jargon and classification to avoid accountability for those failures.

    In this particular case, the mistake is how the otherwise technically competent Luftwaffe Funkaufklärungsdienst  (Roughly translated — Electronic Intelligence Early Warning Service)  managed to miss a completely unambiguous invasion warning for the Normandy  Invasion — D-Day, June 6th 1944 — the night before the invasion.

    This happened because the German officers over the Luftwaffe technicians were technologically illiterate regards both the Allied identification friend or foe (IFF) and Allied radio navigation systems they were monitoring, as well as the radar techniques their own Luftnachrichten Dienat (Air Surveillance Service) were using to track RAF Bomber Command night bomber streams through chaff.

    RAF 100 Group Electronic Warfare Techniques 1944-45, showing a combination of radar reflecting chaff and several forms of active jamming. The Funkaufklärungsdienst was created by the Luftwaffe in the spring of 1944 to deal with these techniques.  Source: Steve Blank’s “Hidden in Plain Sight:The Secret History of Silicon Valley,” http://steveblank.com/secret-history

    .

    Electronic warfare is much like mine sweeping/hunting at sea, or combat engineers breaching a minefield on land, in that it is a thankless job when it is done right and “hard” on military officers careers in exercises/planning.  Thus it tends to be avoided, even when it is central to recorded military history.  Case in point — When Stephen L. McFarland wrote “Conquering the Night: Army Air Forces Night Fighters at War” in the late 1990’s (pub date 1998) as a part of “AIR FORCE HISTORY AND MUSEUMS PROGRAM.”  He completely left out the fact that German bomber tail warning radars were picking up Allied night fighter IFF challenges.    This was a fact that Alfred Price had published fourteen years earlier in 1984!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Germany, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Some thoughts about Churchill, who is under attack these days.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th March 2019 (All posts by )

    I am currently reading Andrew Roberts’ excellent biography of Churchill.

    It does a better job with his early life than the other biographies I have read. I am 2/3 through it and have not yet reached Pearl Harbor so the emphasis is clear. I have reflected on a couple of items, not necessarily about Churchill but about his times.

    Churchill was an observer in the Boer War but had some adventures, which included being captured and escaping from a POW camp.

    For example, had Cecil Rhodes and the British gold miners not invaded the Transvaal would the Boer War have occurred and, if it had not occurred, would Germany have built its High Seas Fleet?

    Now the Transvaal Republic might, like the Orange Free State, have simply remained as a small shut-in self-governing state without creating any disturbance. But the Transvaalers were the sons of the stalwarts who fifty years before had sought to escape from all British control. They looked upon South Africa as a Dutch not a British inheritance; they resented the limitations imposed on them by the British, and their experience had not taught them any respect for the British Empire. Their president, Paul Kruger, had himself gone on the great trek in his boyhood. It is not possible to doubt that President Kruger dreamed his own dreams of a United South Africa, but a South Africa under a Dutch flag, not under the Union Jack; though how far those dreams were shared by others is not equally clear. But whatever his ambitions outside the Transvaal, within the borders of the republic he intended to go his own way.

    But then gold was discovered in Transvaal.

    In 1885, however, the discovery was made of valuable goldfields within the territories of the republic; aliens, Uitlanders as they were called, for the most part British subjects, whatever their actual nationality might be, poured into the Transvaal to exploit the mines. The Boer government had no objection to the exploitation of the mines on its own terms, which did not include the concession of citizenship to the Uitlanders till after a very prolonged residence. All the burdens of citizenship were laid on the Uitlanders without its privileges. The Uitlanders began to feel that they had no security for justice, and to demand approximately the opportunities for acquiring citizenship in the Transvaal which were readily accorded to the Transvaaler who migrated into British territory.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Britain, Germany, History, Military Affairs | 18 Comments »

    The “After Big Week” Assessment, plus 75 years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 26th February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the completion of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  The strategic goals of the operation were to destroy German fighter production and inflict a “wastage” rate of the German fighter force such that it was losing fighter planes faster than it was producing them. In  measurements of this objective.  In the initial assessments of the BIG WEEK bombing, 8th Air Force thought they had done that.   Actually, this was as wildly optimistic as the claims of air to air kills by the heavy bomber crew machine gunners.

    .

    Despite destroying 70% of the German fighter aircraft assembly buildings targeted. The USAAF high command had grossly underestimated damage done to electric motor powered machine tools within those buildings and the UK’s Ministry of Economic Warfare that the USAAF relied upon for intelligence of German industry had underestimated German fighter production by a factor of 2 & 1/2 times.

    See my Jan 1, 2019 Chicagoboyz post “Industrial Electrification and the Technological Illiteracy of the US Army Air Corps Tactical School 1920-1940” for many of the  reasons why this was so.

    Assessment of American “Big Week” Combat Results (Slide 1) from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    The 8th Air Force lost 565 heavy bombers shot down or scrapped from combat damage so bad it was not worth the effort to repair them.  8th and 9th Air Force fighters escorting the bombers suffered 28 planes shot down.  The over all loss rate per raid averaged 6%…but the American total force losses were 2,600 air crew killed, wounded or captured.  This was 1/5th of 8th Air Force.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Big Week Day 6, Feb 25, 1944, Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 25th February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the sixth and final day of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  On Friday, February 25, 1944 the 8th Air Force returns to Messerschmitt factories in Regensburg preceded by 15th Air Force there.  Other Messerschmitt fighter plants at Augsberg and Furth are also hit by 8th Air Force.  These raids mark the conclusion of the first major operation in the final battle for air superiority before the Normandy invasion scheduled for June 1944.

    Day Six of “Big Week” Combat Results (Slide 1) from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    Day Six of “Big Week” Combat Results (Slide 2) from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    ETO Strategic Operations

    Mission 235: In the final “Big Week” mission, 4 targets in Germany are hit; 31 bombers and 3 fighters are lost.

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    1. 268 B-17s are dispatched to aviation industry targets at Augsburg and the industrial area at Stuttgart; 196 hit Augsburg and targets of opportunity and 50 hit Stuttgart; they claim 8-4-4 Luftwaffe aircraft; 13 B-17s are lost and 172 damaged; casualties are 12 WIA and 130 MIA.
    2. 267 of 290 B-17s hit aviation industry targets at Regensburg and targets of opportunity; they claim 13-1-7 Luftwaffe aircraft; 12 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 82 damaged; casualties are 4 KIA, 12 WIA and 110 MIA.
    3. 172 of 196 B-24s hit aviation industry targets at Furth and targets of opportunity; they claim 2-2-2 Luftwaffe aircraft; 6 B-24s are lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 44 damaged; casualties are 2 WIA and 61 MIA.

    .

    Escort is provided by 73 P-38s, 687 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47s and 139 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; the P-38s claim 1-2-0 Luftwaffe aircraft, 1 P-38 is damaged beyond repair; the P-47s claim 13-2-10 Luftwaffe aircraft, 1 P-47 is lost and 6 damaged, 1 pilot is MIA; the P-51s claim 12-0-3 Luftwaffe aircraft, 2 P-51s are lost and 1 damaged beyond repair, 2 pilots are MIA.

    .

    Mission 236: 5 of 5 B-17s drop 250 bundles of leaflets on Grenoble, Toulouse, Chartres, Caen and Raismes, France at 2129–2335 hours without loss

     

    MTO Strategic Operations

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    Continuing coordinated attacks with the Eighth Air Force on European targets, B-17s with fighter escorts pound Regensburg aircraft factory; enemy fighter opposition is heavy. Other B-17s hit the air depot at Klagenfurt, Austria and the dock area at Pola, Italy. B-24s attack Fiume, Italy marshaling yard and port and hit Zell-am-See, Austria railroad and Graz airfield and the port area at Zara, Yugoslavia; 30+ US aircraft are lost; they claim 90+ fighters shot down.

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    For extensive background, see this Wikipedia article, where the passage above came from:

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Week

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    From Pickle Barrel’s to Radar Pattern Bombing of Cities

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    In evaluating the WW2 Combined Bomber Campaign in Europe there is far more propaganda about “precision bombing” than actual accurate and precise bombing.  When using the Norden bombsite in test conditions, on a clear and still day, with an absolutely distinct against back ground target, with a picked high skill aircrew, from less than 10,000 feet altitude,  you could get within a few hundred feet of the target.

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    Things were far less then perfect in combat over Europe.  Bombing altitudes exceeded 20,000 feet and the number of days where cloud cover measured less than 4/10ths were few and concentrated in the summer.

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    “Big Week” was fought in European winter.  Too fight then, the USAAF had to resort to the use of both British provided “H2S” 10 cm and hand built American “H2X” 3 cm wavelength radars carried on pathfinder bombers leading the USAAF bomber streams.

    B-17 Pathfinder in Big Week with a hand built “H2X” Radar provided by the British Branch of MIT’s Radiation Laboratory Source:  http://www.482nd.org/h2x-mickey

    . Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, Waiting Rooms | 3 Comments »

    “Governments behaving badly: The battle of our time is being waged right now”

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th February 2019 (All posts by )

    From a characteristically astute column by J.E. Dyer:

    The point of the Treaty of Westphalia was not that religion is ugly and divisive, or that it must be subordinated to the political. The point was that the armed force of the nation-state, which is useful and does good service for the right purposes, must not be used to enforce universalist philosophies or settle their irreconcilable disputes.
     
    The Westphalian commitment is that universalism will not take precedence over national sovereignty. Instead, national sovereignty will protect nations from movements for overweening universalism.
     
    In 1648, the conscious commitment to this principle helped end the wars of Catholic and Protestant monarchs on the European continent (although the effect was not immediate). In the Napoleonic era, it was instrumental in beating back Bonaparte’s encroaching supranational vision: a hybrid of Roman imperial concepts and French revolutionary declarations.
     
    The Westphalian commitment to respect for national sovereignty was also a key enabling factor for the success of the United States, once we established the “national” and “sovereignty” conditions. America is not possible without Westphalianism.
     
    And in the 20th century, it was the continued commitment to the Westphalian nation-state that allowed the free West to face down ruthless, radical, universalist Communism, even though the latter expanded with each decade into more and more territory, and became equipped with vast conventional armies, nuclear weapons, and seats in the United Nations. The UN was useless for defeating state-armed Communist aggression. It was a specific group of nations acting in their own right, led by the United States, that achieved that goal.
     
    In 2019, the confrontation is in some ways harder to discern than in earlier centuries. It isn’t between nations; it’s within them. Urban “elites” align with each other across borders, the leaders of the biggest cities consciously identifying not with their compatriots from the hinterlands but with the leaders of foreign megalopolises. Conversely, many of the people outside the “elite” circles, wherever in the world they are, take to the streets cheering America’s Donald Trump. His brand of politics cares about them.
     
    The nation-state is what makes the protection of liberty and rights possible. Undermining the nation-state is the project of today’s universalist collectivism, and the government crises in the U.S., UK, and France are visible signs of that battle being waged. This is not a battle over theory or mere programmatic choices. It’s a battle for the future of mankind.

    In a way that seems psychologically analogous to price trends in financial markets, the civil war is what’s happening now while people focus on lurid predictions that don’t materialize.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in History, Politics, Trump | 44 Comments »

    Peak Stupid

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th February 2019 (All posts by )

    No, I don’t think will ever reach Peak Stupid; just as we will probably never reach Peak Oil, either – since there appears to be an inexhaustible supply of the former, and more of the latter than the gloom’n’doom crowd apparently thought. But Deity on a Trisket, the farrago of Stupid on display just this past week is just plain mind-blowing. And I read a lot of history, so it’s not a total surprise to me that individually and en masse, humans are capable of the spectacularly moronic; things like Tulip Mania in 17th century Holland, pursuance of the Flat Earth theory after trips into space, and the Billy Jack movie series, not to mention the whole disco era in general.
    So the Jussie Smallett supposed hate-crime on the below-freezing streets of Chicago on the coldest day of the year thus far (hey, it’s only February, I am confident that the remaining ten months of 2019 will bring us ever more bountiful levels of stupidity) has fallen completely apart – much as the intelligent and logical portion of the blogosphere had predicted upon being made aware of the specifics. Yes, a planned – with an astounding level of stupidity even for an actor – hate crime, intended to leverage a pay raise, and garner oodles of that sweet, sweet milk of sympathy for a victim. And the National Establishment Mainstream fell for it, hook, line, sinker and whatever else in an appealing sob story, not to mention quantities of gullible media celebrities, and gullible political celebrities. Oopsie. The most decent of them appear to have the nous to be resoundingly pissed with Mr. Smolett over how their sympathies were exploited. The indecent are lying low and doubtless waiting for the next shiny, flashy supposed hate crime to bubble up to the top of that pond of scum which appears to be our national thought leaders. Live and learn, people – there exists a long, long, long history of faked hate crimes. The most recent of which happened not two weeks previously, with the Covington Catholic students. Memories are short in the National Establishment Media gene pool; measured in hours, I would guess. Possibly this is a variety of genetic defect. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Architecture, Business, Chicagoania, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, History, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Media, Military Affairs, The Press | 6 Comments »

    Big Week, Day 5, Feb 24, 1944, Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 24th February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the fifth day of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  On Thursday, February 24, 1944 the 8th Air Force returned to major operations in the battle for air superiority before the Normandy invasion scheduled for June 1944.  The 8th Air Force’s emphasis includes revisiting Schweinfurt.
    .
    The 15th Air Force attacks Steyer again this day.
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    The RAF Bomber Command flies an area bombing raid on Schweinfurt with indifferent results.
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    Day Five of “Big Week” Combat Results (Slide 1) from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    Day Five of “Big Week” Combat Results (Slide 2) from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    Other ETO Strategic Operations
    Missions 237, 238 and 239 are flown against targets in France; 7 B-17s are lost. Heavy clouds cause over half the bombers dispatched to return without bombing.
     .
    Mission 237: 49 of 81 B-24s hit the Ecalles sur Buchy V-weapon sites; 1 B-24 is damaged. Escort is provided by 61 P-47s
    .
    Mission 238: 258 B-17s are dispatched against V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais; 109 hit the primary target, 10 hit a road junction E of Yerville, 7 hit a rail siding SW of Abbeville and 6 hit targets of opportunity; 7 B-17s are lost and 75 damaged; casualties are 5 WIA and 63 MIA. Escort is provided by 81 P-38s, 94 P-47s and 22 P-51s; 1 P-38 is damaged beyond repair; the P-51s claim a single German aircraft on the ground.
    .
    Mission 239: 5 of 5 B-17s drop 250 bundles of leaflets[clarification needed] on Amiens, Rennes, Paris, Rouen and Le Mans, France at 2023–2055 hours without loss.
    RAF Bomber Command in Operation Argument
    .
    Bomber Command directly contributed to the attacks on the aircraft industry in Schweinfurt. Some 734 bombers were dispatched on the night of 24/25 February, and 695 struck the target.[1] Of the bombs dropped, 298 hit within three miles and 22 hit inside the target area. Little damage was done.

    .

    For extensive background, see this Wikipedia article, where the passage above came from:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Week

    The 56th Fighter Group’s Private War with the USAAF Bomber Generals
    The highest scoring 8th Air Force Fighter Group in World War 2,  in terms of strictly air-to-air kills, was the P-47 armed 56th Fighter Group.  Led by Colonel Hubert “Hub” Zemke (March 14, 1914 – August 30, 1994)  it fought a war with the Bomber Generals running 8th Air Force as well as the the Luftwaffe.
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    See:
    .

    In July, when a bomber group took over Horsham Saint Faith, Zemke’s men relocated to a half-built base at Halesworth Suffolk. Upset with the second-rate treatment his command seemed to be experiencing, Zemke joined a group of Eighth Air Force bomber commanders in a gripe session. The 4th Bomb Wing’s Colonel Curtis LeMay (chief of the postwar Strategic Air Command) complained that the only fighters he had seen so far ‘all had black and white crosses on them,’ but declared his bombers would carry on ‘with or without fighter escort.’

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    Later, in the officers’ club, another bomber general stated he ‘wouldn’t pay a dime a dozen for any fighter pilots.’ Zemke hurled his pocket change at the man’s feet:

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    ‘Here, General, this is all I have handy at the moment,’ he responded. ‘Any time you have a couple dozen fighter pilots handy send them my way. We can sure use them.’ Then he jumped in his Jug and buzzed the place.

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Big Week, Day 4 Feb 23, 1944, Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 23rd February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the fourth day of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  On Wednesday, February 23, 1944 the 15th Air Force went after the Luftwaffe in the skies over Germany — with the 8th Air Force operations grounded by fog — in the battle for air superiority before the Normandy invasion scheduled for June 1944.

    Like the previous day, the 15th Air Force lacked fighter escorts.

     

    Day Four of “Big Week” Combat Results from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    ETO Strategic Operations

    Mission 232: 5 of 5 B-17s drop 250 bundles of leaflets on Rennes, Le Mans, Chartres, Lille and Orleans, France at 21:36–22:32 hours without loss.

    MTO Strategic Operations

    B-24s bomb the industrial complex at Steyr, Austria. Other heavy bombers are forced to abort because of bad weather; the bombers and escorting fighters claim 30+ aircraft shot down.

    For extensive background, see this Wikipedia article, where the passage above came from:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Week

     

    From the Pre-War “Conveyor-Protector” to Long Range Escort Fighters

    One of the most troubling parts of the US Army Air Force “P-51 Narrative” that the “Bomber Generals” pushed  after “Big Week” was that the USAAF had learned nothing from the 1940 “Battle of Britain” about the need for fighter escorts.

    It turns out that the US Army Air Corps had not missed that obvious point at all.  They utterly got that point.  In fact, tab #4 for the AAF’s first Air War Plan (AWPD-1) written in August 1941 called for specialized escort fighters.   See this link from Ryan Crierie’s  web site —

    http://alternatewars.com/WW2/VictoryPlan/Air_Force_Requirements.htm

    What they did with that insight was utterly squandered by the factional politics of the “Bomber Mafia” between 1940 and the failure of the second Schweinfurt raid  on 14 October 1943.

    The need to avoid accountability for that failure — like hiding the real range of the P-47D with 150 gallon drop tanks after “Big Week” — was why this institutional lie was told.  The motive being to preserve the reputations of General H. H, “Hap” Arnold and a lot of Bomber Generals who founded the independent US Air Force.

    And like any other claims of conspiracy in high places, great claims require great big heaping piles of evidence that they are true. In July 2017 my research partner found the official memorandum chain that constitutes that great big heaping piles of evidence. (See appendices one thru four at the end of this post)

    This is how Ryan described this official memorandum chain to me:

     I found a memorandum chain in a folder today at NARA titled unconventional escort fighters“, which was full of stuff like the XP-85 Goblin parasite, and a few gems like early consideration of the Northrop XP-79 as a parasite fighter, but at the end of the folder was some stuff circa September 1941 on Long Range Bomber Escort.

    .
    Basically, blah blah, European war experience shows the need for longer range fighters; and it suggested a bunch of studies be done on various heavy bombardment aircraft to turn them into convoy escorts — the beginning of the XB-40/XB-41 program — and they suggested that the B-29 and B-32 be studied as convoy escorts.
    .
    They also suggested studying aircraft like the XP-67, XP-58, and XA-26 with an interest towards making a fighter with extreme range.

    You all can go read the memo chain below, but a short form is as follows —

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Big Week Day 3, Feb 22, 1944, Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 22nd February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the third day of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  On Tuesday, February 22, 1944 the 15th Air Force went after the Luftwaffe in the skies over Germany — with the 8th Air Force operations being heavily disrupted by fog — in the battle for air superiority before the Normandy invasion scheduled for June 1944.

    The idea for Operation Argument was to force the Luftwaffe fighter force to fight by attacking targets they had to defend — the German aircraft industry — with fighter escorted bombers.

    The 15th Air Force attacked without fighter escorts.

    Oops.

    These were the results of the 3rd day of combat —

     

    Day Three of “Big Week” combat results from “Coming of Aerial Armageddon” by Dr. John Curatola

    ETO Strategic Operations

    Mission 230: “Big Week” continues with 799 aircraft dispatched against German aviation and Luftwaffe airfields; 41 bombers and 11 fighters are lost.

     

    1. 289 B-17s are dispatched against aviation industry targets at Aschersleben (34 bomb), Bernburg (47 bomb) and Halberstadt (18 bomb) in conjunction with a Fifteenth Air Force raid on Regensburg, Germany; 32 hit Bünde, 19 hit Wernigerode, 15 hit Magdeburg, 9 hit Marburg and 7 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 32-18-17 Luftwaffe aircraft; 38 B-17s are lost, 4 damaged beyond repair and 141 damaged; casualties are 35 KIA, 30 WIA and 367 MIA.
    2. 333 B-17s are dispatched to Schweinfurt but severe weather prevents aircraft from forming properly and they are forced to abandon the mission prior to crossing the enemy coast; 2 B-17s are damaged.
    3. 177 B-24s are dispatched but they are recalled when 100 miles (160 km) inland; since they were over Germany, they sought targets of opportunity but strong winds drove the bombers over The Netherlands and their bombs hit Enschede, Arnhem, Nijmegen and Deventer; they claim 2-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-24s are lost and 3 damaged; casualties are 30 MIA. About 900 civilians were killed, mainly in the bombing of Nijmegen. In 1984, the book De Fatale Aanval (“The Fatal Attack”), was written about this by eyewitness Alphons Brinkhuis, who was a 10-year-old boy at Enschede when it happened.

     

    These missions are escorted by 67 P-38s, 535 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47s, and 57 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; the P-38s claim 1 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed, 1 P-38 is damaged beyond repair and 6 are damaged; the P-47s claim 39-6-15[clarification needed] Luftwaffe aircraft, 8 P-47s are lost and 12 damaged, 8 pilots are MIA; the P-51s claim 19-1-10 Luftwaffe aircraft, 3 P-51s are lost and 3 damaged, 3 pilots are MIA.

     

    MTO Strategic Operations

     

    B-17s attack Petershausen marshaling yard and Regensburg aircraft factory in Germany and the air depot at Zagreb, Yugoslavia; a large force of B-24s hits Regensburg aircraft plants about the same time as the B-17 attack; other B-24s pound the town of Sibenik and the harbor at Zara, Yugoslavia; they claim 40 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed; 13 bombers are lost.

    For extensive background, see this Wikipedia article, where the passage above came from:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Week

    Exposing the Bomber General Lies in the “P-51 Narrative”

    For all the good that the P-47 Thunderbolt did in Europe’s strategic bombing offensive,  it has been written out of the victory narrative for a lot of political reasons.  Political reasons starting with answering for the 26,000 men who died in the 8th Air Force in WW2 because of the flawed doctrines of the the USAAF Bomber Generals.  A number of combat deaths that is larger than the entire US Marine Corps in World War 2 from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima.

    I’ve written expansively on how these flawed doctrines affected the development of  auxiliary drop tank technology, the escort fighters that used them and the bomber escort doctrine that knit them together over the years on Chicagoboyz,  See these posts:

    History Friday — MacArthur’s Fighter Drop Tanks
    Posted by Trent Telenko on July 12th, 2013
    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/37362.html

     

    History Friday: Deconstructing the P-51 Mustang Historical Narrative
    Posted by Trent Telenko on September 27th, 2013
    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/38801.html

     

    History Friday — Revisiting the P-51 Mustang Historical Narrative
    Posted by Trent Telenko on December 16th, 2016
    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/54434.html

    Right now I’m going to show you how Generals Arnold, Spaatz, Anderson and the rest of the “Bomber General Mafia” put the bad mouth on the P-47’s role in obtaining air superiority over Europe.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 9 Comments »