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  • Archive for the 'History' Category

    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 | 33 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 | 32 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.

    .

    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

    .

    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.

    .

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

    .

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

    .

    From Pickle Barrel’s to Radar Pattern Bombing of Cities

    .

    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.

    .

    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.

    .

    “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.
    .
    The RAF Bomber Command flies an area bombing raid on Schweinfurt with indifferent results.
    .

    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.
    .
    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.’

    .

    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:

    .

    ‘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 »

    BIG WEEK Day Two, February 21, 1944, Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 21st February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the second day of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  On Monday, February 21, 1944 the 8th Air Force went after the Luftwaffe in the skies over Germany for a second day to take air superiority for the Normandy invasion in June 1944.

    These were the results of the 2nd day of combat —

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

     

    Mission 228: 3 areas in Germany are targeted with the loss of 16 bombers and 5 fighters:

    .

    1. 336 B-17s are dispatched to the Gütersloh, Lippstadt and Werl Airfields; because of thick overcast, 285 hit Achmer, Hopsten, Rheine, Diepholz, Quakenbrück and Bramsche Airfields and the marshaling yards at Coevorden and Lingen; they claim 12-5-8 Luftwaffe aircraft; 8 B-17s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 63 damaged; casualties are 4 KIA, 13 WIA and 75 MIA.
    2. 281 B-17s are dispatched to Diepholz Airfield and Brunswick; 175 hit the primaries and 88 hit Ahlhorn and Vörden Airfields and Hannover; they claim 2-5-2 Luftwaffe aircraft; five B-17s are lost, three damaged beyond repair and 36 damaged; casualties are 20 KIA, 4 WIA and 57 MIA.
    3. 244 B-24s are dispatched to Achmer and Handorf Airfields; 11 hit Achmer Airfield and 203 hit Diepholz, Verden and Hesepe Airfields and Lingen; they claim 5-6-4 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-24s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 6 damaged; casualties are three WIA and 31 MIA.

    ,

    Escort for Mission 228 is provided by 69 P-38s, 542 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47s and 68 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; the P-38s claim 0-1-0 Luftwaffe aircraft, 1 P-38 is damaged beyond repair; the P-47s claim 19-3-14 Luftwaffe aircraft, two P-47s are lost, two are damaged beyond repair, three are damaged and two pilots are MIA; the P-51s claim 14-1-4 Luftwaffe aircraft, three P-51s are lost and the pilots are MIA. German losses were 30 Bf 109s and Fw 190s, 24 pilots killed and seven wounded.[12]

    ,

    Mission 229: 5 of 5 B-17s drop 250 bundles of leaflets on Rouen, Caen, Paris and Amiens, France at 2215–2327 hours without loss.

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

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

    The USAAF Strategy of Big Week

    Operation Argument marked a massive strategic change in how the Bomber Generals fought the air war.  Previously the idea was that large formations of self-escorting heavy bomber would strike the key parts of the German “industrial web” with “precision bombing” and collapse it’s economy.  This “win air superiority through industrial collapse” theory quite literally went down in flames on  14 October 1943 when the second Schweinfurt raid lost 60 bombers, while failing to destroy the German ball bearing industry.

    Big Week abandoned this pre-war doctrine.  Generals Carl Spaatz and Fred Anderson, respectively commander and chief of operations of United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe, and William Kepner, Eighth Air Force fighter commander decided to fight a different war, a war of attrition, aimed at the German fighter force.  The heavy bombers were sent against the German aviation industry, not because they could destroy it — it would be great if they did — but because it was a target that the Luftwaffe had to defend.

    Rather than being the single and only war winning super-weapon, the Heavy bomber was demoted to the role of a staked goat.  The bomber streams of B-17 and B-24 were bait for the Luftwaffe fighter force to come up into the guns of  American escort fighters.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    BIG WEEK, Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 20th February 2019 (All posts by )

    Today marks the 75th Anniversary of Operation Argument otherwise known as BIG WEEK.  When on Sunday, February 20, 1944 the 8th Air Force went after the Luftwaffe in the skies over Germany to take air superiority for the Normandy invasion in June 1944.

    These were the results of the 1st day of combat —

     

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

    Mission 226: The Eighth Air Force begins “Big Week” attacks on German aircraft plants and airfields. For the first time, over 1,000 bombers are dispatched; 21 bombers and 4 fighters are lost hitting three areas in Germany:

     

    1. 417 B-17s are dispatched to Leipzig-Mockau Airfield, and aviation industry targets at Heiterblick and Abtnaundorf; 239 hit the primary targets, 37 hit Bernburg (Junkers), 44 hit Oschersleben (AGO, prime Fw 190A subcontractor) and 20 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 14-5-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; seven B-17s are lost, one damaged beyond repair and 161 damaged; casualties are 7 KIA, 17 WIA and 72 MIA.
    2. 314 B-17s are dispatched to the Tutow Airfield; 105 hit the primary and immediate area, 76 hit Rostock (Heinkel) and 115 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 15-15-10 Luftwaffe aircraft; 6 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 37 damaged; casualties are 3 KIA and 60 MIA.
    3. 272 B-24s are dispatched to aviation industry targets at Brunswick, Wilhelmtor and Neupetritor; 76 hit the primary, 87 hit Gotha, 13 hit Oschersleben, 58 hit Helmstedt and 10 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 36-13-13 Luftwaffe aircraft; 8 B-24s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 37 damaged; casualties are 10 KIA, 10 WIA and 77 MIA.

     

    Missions one and three above are escorted by 94 P-38 Lightnings, 668 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolts and 73 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51 Mustangs; they claim 61-7-37 Luftwaffe aircraft; one P-38 Lightning, two P-47 Thunderbolts and one P-51 Mustang are lost, two P-47 Thunderbolts are damaged beyond repair and 4 other aircraft are damaged; casualties are 4 MIA. German losses amount to 10 Messerschmitt Bf 110s destroyed and three damaged with 10 killed and seven wounded. Total losses included 74 Bf 110s, Fw 190s and Bf 109s and a further 29 damaged.[11]

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

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

    For a really engaging lecture on “Big Week”, watch Dr. John Curatola’s video here:

    I’ll be posting more in this series including other lectures and background on how Operation Argument came to pass and its results.

     

    -End-

     

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

    2018 Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 14th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Some books that I read and liked over the last year…

    The Future is History, Masha Gessen.  Russia during the last days of Communism, during the transitional age, and under Putinism, viewed through the personal stories of numerous individuals.

    On Tangled Paths, Theodor Fontane.  The author has been called “The Jane Austen of Germany.”  In this novel,  it is the *male* protagonist who is under pressure to marry into money to save his family from financial disaster.  Good character development and a vivid portrayal of Berlin in the 1870s

    The Bounty:  The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, Caroline Alexander.  The famous mutiny, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath.  A much more favorable interpretation of Captain Bligh’s character than the usual view.

    Red Star Under the Baltic, Victor Korzh.  Memoirs of a Soviet submarine commander who served in a little-known theater of WWII.  The author writes largely from an engineering perspective, and in addition to combat episodes he describes the remarkable efforts that were necessary to keep the submarine in operating condition–including such things as repurposing the bow thruster drives, while at sea, to replace the failed stern thruster drive system.

    A Pocketful of Stars and other books in the Applied Topology series by Margaret Ball, which I reviewed here.  Don’t let the Applied Topology tag scare you off; no math is required to read and enjoy.

    Born Fighting:  How the Scotts-Irish shaped America, James Webb.  Some interesting history and perspectives.  It’s worthwhile to read this book in conjunction with Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals.

    A Vagabond Journey Around the World, Harry Franck.  In 1904, this recent college graduate decided to travel around the world starting with no money at all.  (He modified this plan to carry enough cash to pay for photographic supples.)  Very interesting, though long.  Franck made and wrote about numerous other trips, including a 1930s visit to the Soviet Union which he documented in A Vagabond in Sovietland.

    A World on Edge:  The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age, Daniel Schoenpflug.  The author paints the environment in the immediate aftermath of the War by telling the stories of individuals ranging from Harry Truman, Ferdinand Foch, Crown Prince Willhelm of Prussia, Arnold Schönberg, Kathe Kollwitz, Walter Gropius, and Ho Chi Min to many lesser-known individuals such as a former sailor of the German Navy and a Cossack woman named Marina Yurlova.

    Tragedy & Challenge:  An Inside View of UK Engineering’s Decline, Tom Brown.  The problems and fate of British manufacturing companies, as seen by an individual with extensive experience as an executive and board member.  There’s a review here.

    The Tyrant’s Daughter, J C Carleson.  Fifteen-year-old Laila lived a privileged life in her unnamed Middle Eastern country, where her father was absolute ruler.  Then he was killed in a coup, and she escapes with her mother and brother to a suburb of Washington DC…where she faces both the problems of fitting in at her new school and the haunting question of whether her father was indeed the monster that he is portrayed by the American news media.  This is positioned as a YA (teenager)  book, but is IMO also good reading for adults.  The author is a former CIA agent.

    The Theme is Freedom, John Dos Passos.  A collection of essays by this “Lost Generation” writer.  I quoted his observations about some of his Leftist comrades of the 1920s, here.

    Several more, which I may review individually and/or in a future batch.

    I’m currently reading a novel of the American Revolution called Celia Garth, which I learned about from a discussion at Bookworm.  It was highly recommended by Sgt Mom, among others.  I’m really liking it so far.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Business, Civil Liberties, Europe, History, Management, Russia, War and Peace | 29 Comments »

    Industrial Electrification and the Technological Illiteracy of the US Army Air Corps Tactical School 1920-1940

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st January 2019 (All posts by )

    This blog post on “Industrial Electrification and the Technological Illiteracy of the U.S. Army Air Tactical School 1920-1940” marks the new year with a departure 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] As such, it will not be fully fleshed out with sources and notes.  Consider it a ‘first draft’ of an article I’ll post later.

    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.

    Where you can see this pattern most easily in the historical record is with the US Army Air Corp Tactical School (ACTS) “Industrial Web” theory of strategic bombing  and it’s inability to understand what the changes that industrial electrification caused had meant to this theory.  The “Industrial Web”  theory stated there were “choke points” in an industrial economy which bombing would cause a disproportionate reduction in enemy nation’s weapons production supporting total war.[2]

    Figure 1 — This is an example of early industrial age direct mechanical power transmission that was replaced by small electric motor powered tooling in the 1920 to 1940 time period. The US Army’s Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) early 1930’s era “Industrial Web” theory of strategic bombing was built upon this technological paradigm. Many of the failures of the World War 2 Combined Bomber Offensive can be laid at the feet of Western military leaders illiteracy of what the move to electric motor power, and away from this technology, meant to the vulnerabilities of industrial economies. Source: Wikipedia

    On the surface, this was a logical sounding intellectual construct.  In practice, it failed miserably at places like the 14 October 1943 second Schweinfurt raid on German ball bearing factories and the  Yawata Strike,  the start of the early B-29 campaign on Japanese Coke ovens.

    The unavoidable, in hindsight, issue for USAAF leaders trained in the Air Corps Tactical School in the period between 1920 and 1940 was that it spanned the change in industrial infrastructure from steam engine, line shaft and power belt to electric motor powered mass production.[3]  Thus the ACTS theorists had a fundamentally flawed understanding of industrial economies vulnerability to aerial bombing going into World War 2 (WW2) because they were technologically illiterate regards the radical change industrial electrification caused.

    This flawed understanding was that roof damage in a factory with line shaft and drive belt power transmission — whether steam or electric driven — stops all production until the roof-mounted line shaft is re-seated or replaced.  This was not the case for electric motor delivered power located on the factory floor.  The technological illiteracy here was not seeing the fact that electric motors fundamentally disassociated factory production processes from factory physical structure. [4]

    The basic idea that ACTS theorists had at the time was that their “Industrial Web” was a serial system where every component had to work to produce an effect.  Thus ACTS theorists fundamentally believed in the “weak link” theory of reliability, rather than the need to obliterate all key components that a parallel, or complex serial/parallel system, with redundancy required.   The point failure weakness of line shaft and drive belt industrial infrastructure fit this “serial system with a weak link” belief system of ACTS theorists to a tee. [5]

    So when you read wartime USAAF bomb damage assessment reports from the WW2  Combined Bombing Campaign giving such and such percentages of factory roof’s destroyed being used as a means of determining whether production there was knocked out.  You are seeing a “weak link” short hand based upon line shaft power transmission infrastructure assumptions.

    When you read later post-war bomb damage surveys reading  “…that machines and machine tools were damaged far less severely than factory structures,” you are seeing a USAAF staffer dodging those pre-WW2 “Industrial Web/Weak Link” line shaft infrastructure assumptions by not using the term at all.

    This sort of language shift to hide real world meanings with jargon, thus neatly avoiding accountability for failure in combat, is one of the classic ‘poker tells’ in researching ‘Technologically Illiterate Military Leaders‘.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Germany, History, Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, War and Peace | 75 Comments »

    The Costs of Formalism and Credentialism

    Posted by David Foster on 16th December 2018 (All posts by )

    Via Grim, an interesting post at the Federalist:  Our Culture War Is Between People Who Get Results And Empty Suits With Pristine Credentials.

    Subtitle:  Donald Trump declines the authority of the cultural sectors that most assertively claim it. That’s the real conflict going on.

    I’m reminded of an interchange that took place between Picasso and Monet as the German Army advanced through France in 1940.  Monet was shocked to learn that the enemy had already reached Reims.  “But what about our generals?” asked Monet. “What are they doing.”

    Picasso’s response: “Well, there you have it, my friend. It’s the Ecole des Beaux-Arts”

    …ie, formalists who had learned one set of rules and were not interested in considering deviations from same.

    It was an astute remark, and it fits very well with the observations of Andre Beaufre, who before the invasion had been a young captain on the French General Staff. Although he had initially been thrilled to be placed among this elevated circle…

    I saw very quickly that our seniors were primarily concerned with forms of drafting. Every memorandum had to be perfect, written in a concise, impersonal style, and conforming to a logical and faultless plan–but so abstract that it had to be read several times before one could find out what it was about…”I have the honour to inform you that I have decided…I envisage…I attach some importance to the fact that…” Actually no one decided more than the barest minimum, and what indeed was decided was pretty trivial.

    The consequences of that approach became clear in May 1940.

    In addition to the formalism that Picasso hypothesized (and Beaufre observed) on the French General Staff, the civilian side of the French government was highly credential-oriented.  From the linked article:

    In the first days of July, 1940, the American diplomat Robert Murphy took up his duties as the chargé d’affaires at the new U.S. embassy in Vichy, France. Coming from his recent post in Paris, he was as impressed as he expected to be by the quality of the Vichy mandarinate, a highly credentialed class of sophisticated officials who were “products of the most rigorous education and curricula in any public administration in the world.”

    As the historian Robert Paxton would write, French officials were “the elite of the elite, selected through a daunting series of relentless examinations for which one prepared at expensive private schools.” In July 1940, the elite of the elite governed the remains of their broken nation, a few days after Adolf Hitler toured Paris as its conqueror. Credentials were the key to holding public office, but not the key to success at the country’s business.

    It certainly appears that the current protests and riots in France are at least in part due to long-simmering resentment at that country’s credentialed class, whose performance has not matched their pretensions.  An interesting anecdote about Macron, in the Sunday Express:

    This is a man who chastised a teenager at an official event for calling him “Manu” (the friendly diminutive of Emmanuel), saying that he should not express a view until he has acquired a degree and a job.

    and

    Macron is a graduate of the Ecole Normale d’administration (ENA), an elite Grande Ecole created by General De Gaulle in 1945 to break the upper class control of top Civil Service positions. 

    In reality, only nine percent of ENA the graduates that fill the corridors of power in industry and government have a working class background.  The top 12 or 15 students will move to L’Inspection générale des finances (IGF), and then into a career in politics, or finance, Macron’s chosen route since he became a partner with Rothschild and Cie bank.

    Americans should not feel smug about our relatively-lesser obsession with credentials.  I’ve previously quoted  something Peter Drucker wrote in 1969:

    One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

    and

    It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman.

    We as a country are a lot closer to accepting Grande Ecole status for Harvard Law School and similar institutions than we were when Drucker wrote the above.  We haven’t gone as far as France and other European nations, but the trend has clearly been in the wrong direction.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, China, Deep Thoughts, Education, Europe, France, History, Society, Trump, USA | 15 Comments »

    Dross to Gold and Vice Versa

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th December 2018 (All posts by )

    I was skimming through the various stories about the late President Bush the First this week, especially one about how he and Barbara were so considerate of and beloved by the Security Service agents who guarded them. It was kind of sweet, the account of a peckish agent going through the White House kitchen in the wee hours, looking for the cookies that he knew that the stewards of the kitchen had baked for the next day … and being joined by Bush the First, in ransacking the kitchen in search of the elusive cookies. That Bush the First and Barbara were loved and respected by the agents whose mission I can attest to at second hand. One of the Air Force security service NCOs I served with in Korea had just come off an assignment at the White House protection detachment. He adored Barbara, BTW – to hear him tell it, he was one of her favorite agents. She called him “Timmy”, which was kind of cute, as he was one of these six-foot-something guys and built like a concrete traffic bollard; probably Barbara was the only one aside from his mother who called him by that name. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, History, Holidays, Obama | 6 Comments »

    For the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor: Radio Silence

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th December 2018 (All posts by )

    (I was inspired last year about this time to do a fictional short for the Luna City universe, drawing on certain family memories of that time. The story itself is included in this collection,)

    Adeliza Gonzalez-Gonzales – who was never called anything but ‘Adi’ back then – was just thirteen when her older brother Manuel – Manolo to the family, Manny to his Anglo friends – came to Papi and Mama and said to them, “Papi, I want to see more of the world than Karnes County, an’ at the Navy recruiting office, they say that I’ll get a paycheck nice and regular, and I can work on ship engines that are bigger than this house. Besides, everyone says if America gets into a war, then they’ll be drafting men my age, an’ I don’t wanna be a soldier, marching around in the mud and all that. The Navy lives good, and they say that the food is great. Can I have your permission, Papi?”

    Mama got all pinch-faced and weepy, because Manolo was her favorite and oldest child. Papi sighed and looked solemn and grave, saying, “Manolo – mi hijo – if this is what you truly want, I will sign the papers.” To Mama, he added, “Do not cry, Estella, can you see your boy as a soldier, following orders?”

    “But he still must follow orders – the Navy is as military as the army,” Adeliza piped up, and Manolo jeered and replied, “Nothing like the same at all, Adi!”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Texas | 3 Comments »

    Snowballs, Sleds, and Cultures, with Some Thoughts from Goethe and the Kaiser

    Posted by David Foster on 5th December 2018 (All posts by )

    A 9-year-old boy lobbied successfully to get his town’s ban on snowball fights overturned.

    Reminded me again of some comments by Goethe, circa 1828, which were the subject of a post here several years ago. He observed that when Englishmen came to town, they were invariably a hit with the local women. Indeed, when one of them came to visit, Goethe found it necessary to brace himself for the inevitable female tears upon the visitor’s departure. His friend Eckermann objected that Englishmen were not “more clever, better informed, or more excellent at heart than other people.”

    “The secret does not lie in these things, my good friend,” returned Goethe. ““Neither does it lie in birth and riches; it lies in the courage which they have to be that for which nature has made them. There is nothing vitiated or spoilt about them, there is nothing halfway or crooked; but such as they are, they are thoroughly complete men. That they are also sometimes complete fools, I allow with all my heart; but that is still something, and has still always some weight in the scale of nature.”

    Goethe goes on to contrast the upbringing of English boys with that typical in his own country:

    “In our own dear Weimar, I need only look out of the window to discover how matters stand with us. Lately, when the snow was lying upon the ground, and my neighbour’s children were trying their little sledges in the street, the police was immediately at hand, and I saw the poor little things fly as quickly as they could. Now, when the spring sun tempts them from the houses, and they would like to play with their companions before the door, I see them always constrained, as if they were not safe, and feared the approach of some despot of the police. Not a boy may crack a whip, or sing or shout; the police is immediately at hand to forbid it. This has the effect with us all of taming youth prematurely, and of driving out all originality and all wildness, so that in the end nothing remains but the Philistine.

    It’s not obvious to me why Goethe didn’t take up this issue of excessive policing with his very good friend Karl August, who as Grand Duke was pretty much the absolute ruler of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Still, an interesting remark, given the increasing constraints on childhood in our own present culture.

    What is also very interesting is that almost a century later, former Kaiser Wilhelm II made some rather similar observations in his memoirs:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Civil Society, Education, Germany, History, Human Behavior, USA | 24 Comments »

    A Retrotech Adventure

    Posted by David Foster on 2nd December 2018 (All posts by )

    The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat leases 22 miles of railroad track from the state of Connecticut, and owns several steam and diesel locomotives plus various rolling stock. They operate regular passenger excursions plus seasonal specials.  Essex also offers a training and experience program for people who would like to learn a little bit about operating a steam locomotive.  Being interested in steam power, I signed up.

    The program includes some written material to be reviewed at home, a group classroom session of about an hour, and then an individual hour operating a locomotive under the guidance of an experienced engineer.

    On arriving, I was surprised at the scale of the operation.  Although I was there in the off season (early November), judging by the parking lot and the number of railcars the place must be quite busy during prime months.  First was the class, which covers safety rules and basic steam locomotive principles.  It was taught by the railroad’s machinist, who described himself as the “spare parts department.”  Next was a group visit to the locomotive cab to familiarize ourselves with the layout of controls and indicators.

    For our group, the locomotive was #40, a Mikado type built in 1920.  (The name “Mikado” became popular because an early batch of locomotives of this type was sold to the Japanese Railways.)  #40 started its life hauling logs and lumber in the West, then pulled passenger and freight trains in North Carolina until it was retired circa 1950…purchased by the Essex for restoration in 1977.  The locomotive has a rated boiler pressure of 180 psi and can generate a tractive effort of 35,000 pounds.

    On a steam locomotive, the cutoff point of steam admission to the cylinders can be controlled by the engineer.  Early cutoff lets the steam do more of its work expansively, improving fuel economy at the cost of some reduction in power.  The reverser sets the cutoff point as well as controlling the direction of travel–while the reversers on early locomotives were manually-operated and required considerable strength to operate (and sometimes led to broken arms), the reverser on #40 is a fingertip control, using air pressure to do the hard work.

    It was a drizzly and somewhat chilly day, but very comfortable in the locomotive cab. (The boiler backhead is very hot, do not touch!)  Basic controls and indicators include the throttle, the reverser, the boiler pressure gauge, the injectors, the boiler water glass, and the brakes with their associated pressure gauges.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Energy & Power Generation, History, Tech, USA | 4 Comments »

    The Great War and its Aftermath

    Posted by David Foster on 11th November 2018 (All posts by )

    Did you really believe that this war would end wars
    Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
    The killing and dying it was all done in vain
    Oh willy mcbride it all happened again
    And again, and again, and again, and again

    The Green Fields of France

    This haunting passage certainly expresses well what has become the common view of the First World War–that it was a war for no really valid reason, conducted with unforgivable incompetence. And there is little question that the War had a shattering effect on the societies of the major belligerents.  I’ve written about this in my post The Great War and Western Civilization (linking a thoughtful post by Sarah Hoyt) and also reviewed Erich Maria Remarque’s important and neglected novel The Road Back, which deals with the War’s impact on a group of young German veterans.

    Taking a contrarian viewpoint, historian Benjamin Schwartz suggests that maybe the British decision to enter the war wasn’t really so unreasonable:

    The notion, advanced by the German historian Fritz Fischer and some of his protégés, that there wasn’t much difference between the war aims of Wilhelmine and of Nazi Germany remains controversial. It’s clear, however, that at least after the war began, German plans effectively called for (along with the subjugation of much of Eastern Europe and Russia) the permanent subjugation of France, the transformation of Belgium into a “vassal state,” and the German navy’s taking of French and Belgian Channel ports to use as bases—actions that would certainly threaten Britain’s naval security…

    Gary Sheffield’s book Forgotten Victory makes a similar argument about the necessity of the war, at least from a British standpoint.  The author argues that militarism was very strong in the German ruling circles and that there was no effective check on the Kaiser and the generals; he also describes the treatment of civilians in the German-occupied countries as having been in some cases pretty brutal:

    William Alexander Percy, an American volunteer with Herbert Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium, remembered seeing batches of Belgian workers returning from forced labor in Germany.  “They were creatures imagined by El Greco — skeletons, with blue flesh clinging to their bones, too weak to stand alone, too ill to be hungry any longer.”

    He also mentions, though, that one major difference between German policy in the two world wars was that the deportations during the First World War were halted in the face of international condemnation.  (It also seems unlikely that this kind of forced labor would have continued after the end of the war, had German won.  The Kaiser was unstable, a narcissist, and a militarist, but he was not a Hitler, at least at that point in his life.)

    Sheffield also challenges the claim of British military incompetence throughout the war…indeed, he argues that the British Army became a “learning organization,” and points to technological innovations (such as sound ranging…”the Manhattan Project of the 1914-1918 war”…and the instantaneous fuse) in addition to tactical improvements.  Finally, he suggests that the perception of universal disillusionment and cynicism in the aftermath of the War has been exaggerated by the writings of well-connected, highly-educated and highly-verbal people, and such feelings were less-common among the population as a whole.

    Sheffield has clearly done a lot of research, and makes his arguments well.  Still, it is hard to imagine that given the countries, technologies, and leaders of the time, any likely alternative could have been much worse than what did in fact happen.

    See also Sgt Mom’s Veterans Day post and the new post by Sarah Hoyt.

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Britain, France, Germany, History, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    At the Tomb of Couperin – Thoughts on a Centenary

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th November 2018 (All posts by )

    There is a lovely little classical piece by Maurice Ravel – Le Tombeau de Couperin, composed shortly after the end of the war, five of the six movements dedicated to the memory of an individual, and one for a pair of brothers, all close friends of the composer, every one of them fallen in a war of such ghastliness that it not only put paid to a century of optimistic progress, but barely twenty years later it birthed another and hardly less ghastly war. Maurice Ravel himself was over-age, under-tall and not in the most robust of health, but such was the sense of national emergency that he volunteered for the military anyway, eventually serving as a driver – frequently under fire and in danger. Not the usual place to find one of France’s contemporarily-famous composers, but they did things differently at the end of the 19th Century and heading all wide-eyed and optimistic into the 20th. Citizens of the intellectual and artistic ilk were not ashamed of their country, or feel obliged to apologize for a patriotic attachment, or make a show of sullen ingratitude for having been favored by the public in displaying their talents.
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    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, Military Affairs, Music | 20 Comments »