Who knew the President’s mobile command post was an E-4? With all the latest and greatest gear to keep flying in the midst of all-out nuclear war and all its top secret countermeasures, it should come as no surprise that each of the Air Force’s four converted 747s cost $159,529 per hour to fly.
The largest of the USAF cargo haulers, the C-5 can carry two Abrams tanks, ten armored fighting vehicles, a chinook helicopter, an F-16, or an A-10 and only costs $100,941 an hour to get the stuff to the fight.
4. OC-135 Open Skies
This plane was designed to keep tabs on the armed forces belonging to the 2002 signatories of the Open Skies Treaty, which was is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. At $99,722 an hour, it’s one expensive overwatch.
5. E-8C Joint STARS
The airborne battle platform costs $70,780 to keep flying. The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or Joint STARS, is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. Its primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting that contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces.
6. B-52 Stratofortress
Squeaking in just under the JSTARS cost, The B-52 BUFF (look it up) runs $70,388 per flying hour.
7. F-35A Lightning II
A 33rd Fighter Wing F-35A Lightning II powers down on the Duke Field flightline for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sam King)
Despite its ballooning development costs, the F-35 isn’t as expensive to fly as one might think, at only $67,550 an hour. (And that fact is one of the airplane’s selling points.)
8. CV-22 Osprey
The USAF’s special operations tiltrotor will run you $63,792 per hour.
9. B-1B Lancer
The B-1 makes up sixty percent of the Air Force’s bomber fleet and runs $61,027 per flying hour.
The sand invades every crevice and fold in your skin and clothing like a kind of unfinished cement mixture hellbent on rubbing your exposed patches of water-softened skin until they chafe and bleed. Just when the bright southern California sunshine dries you out, and you feel that blessed warmth that you remember so well from before you started Navy SEAL training, the BUD/S instructors once again order you into the surf zone like maniacal dads gleefully throwing their children into a pool for the first time. Learn to swim, or die.
“This will make you hard, gents,” they growl, tongues firmly in cheeks. They know they are making a bad pun while also telling us that all of this, in effect, is for our own good. We do it grim-faced and resigned to another onslaught of sandy wetness because we want to make it through the training. And the training is designed to figure out which of us will not quit, even when our physical selves want nothing more than warmth, blessed dryness, and physical comfort.
Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, San Diego, Calif. (Jan. 31, 2003) – As an instructor monitors a training evolution, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDS) Class 244 receives instructions on their next exercise as they lay in the surf. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class John DeCoursey.)
Some will eventually give in to the effect of this relentless physical tribulation. Those that make it through do so because they find their way to that state of consciousness in which the brain overrides the assault on the body, and that all-powerful and mysterious mass of grey matter residing inside our skulls takes over and drives the machine of blood and bone known as our bodies forward in a state of semi-autonomy. That is the mental state one must achieve to make it through the training; that state in which the primeval mind overcomes the objections and weaknesses of the fragile body.
Three of my blood relatives made it through BUD/S before me. One made it through after me. Five of us in total. Each of us set out not knowing if we had that ability to put mind over body. We hoped we did. We suspected we did, since we had the same genetic make-up as those who had come before us. We each knew that if our father, brother, and cousin could do it, we could do it too. Still, you never really know until you do it. Until you face it.
SEAL candidates for basic underwater demolition cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Russell)
The physical preparation is important — critical, even. You have to reach a certain level of physical preparedness to allow your body to complete that journey. That is a necessary condition to making it through, but not a sufficient condition. The physical preparation alone will not guarantee you success. The mindset is the thing. You have to get your mind to that place in which quitting is an impossibility.
Sure, you might fail or be ejected from the training for some performance inadequacy. That happens even to the most physically prepared of us. I saw it happen in my own class on multiple occasions. But you have to get to the state of mind in which they will have to kill you or fail you to stop you from making it. Never quit. Never contemplate quitting. Never allow that thought to worm its way into your head. Once it does, all is lost.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trevor Welsh/Released)
That is the one piece of advice I give, and have given, to all those who have asked over the years about making it through BUD/S: just tell yourself you will never quit. Tell yourself that you will prepare the best you can by swimming, running in boots and pants in the sand, doing thousands of push-ups and pull-ups and flutter kicks, and practicing all of the breath holding.
Once you reach that threshold of preparedness, you must then fortify your mind. Obsess over making it. Find your inner demon. Harness it, and hold on tight and ride that supernatural force straight through to the end. The human brain and the power it wields is a force of nature. You have to channel that power — all of it — to propel you forward to the end.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anthony W. Walker)
It will end, after all. At some point, you know that about 20 out of 100 of you will be left standing at graduation. They will have thrown everything they have at you to get you to quit. They will make it their mission to break you. It is up to you to stand fast and repel that assault. If I can do it, then you can do it too.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not here to make you sympathize with the Nazis. They were literally a hate group that committed murder on a national scale in addition to helping start and prosecute the deadliest war in human history. They were evil, so don’t let a title like “Underdog” garner them any sympathy. It’s the fault of the fascists that this war ever happened in the first place.
But, while the German military was one of the most feared and successful in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Third Reich had a severe weakness that would hamper the military at any turn: economics.
WW2: The Resource War – Arsenal of Democracy – Extra History – #1
We know, we know. It’s not a very sexy flaw, but industrial warfare relies on an industrial base, and I’m here to tell you that Germany’s industrial base was horrible. Its coal deposits were of mostly low quality and, more importantly, its oil deposits were limited and were much better suited for creating lubricants than fuels.
Not all oil is equal for all purposes, and German crude oil was waxy. It had few of the chemicals necessary for refining fuels, like diesel and gasoline. So while Germany was one of the top producers of iron and steel in the 1930s, often sitting at number two in the world, it relied heavily on imports to fuel its industry.
In 1938, Germany used 44 million barrels of oil. Only 3.8 million barrels of crude had been made in Germany, and the country was able to produce another 9 million barrels of synthetic oil. Imports made up the difference, but many of those imports would dry up when the war started, just as the necessity of increasing war production demanded much more oil.
The Third Reich also needed additional access to cobalt, copper, and some other important minerals.
A British factory produces De Havilland Mosquitoes in 1943.
(Imperial War Museum)
France and Britain, meanwhile, had large networks of colonies around the world that could send important resources back to the motherland. They had the navies necessary to keep those supply lines open everywhere but the Pacific, where Japan would hold sway. And, France and Britain could buy more oil from the U.S., the top producer at the time with up to 1 billion barrels per year.
When Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Great Britain instigated a blockade of Germany. At that point, Germany could no longer buy oil from the U.S. But the Nazis had thought ahead, signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Soviet Russia in August 1939. For the time being, imports to Germany from Russia could keep the Nazi war machine going.
It was partially thanks to this imported oil that Germany was able to invade France and the Low Countries on May 10, 1940, and quickly roll across the country thanks to France’s stubborn belief that that the Ardennes was impassable to armored vehicles. France fell in mid-June.
German tank production duringWorld War II was always limited by the availability of steel and oil.
This was, arguably, the high-water mark for the Third Reich in economic terms. Its industry was strong and undamaged by the war, it had seized vast swaths of Europe including Norway, France, and Austria, and its ally Italy was having some success in seizing resource-rich areas in North Africa.
And, on paper, Germany had ample access to the oil products of the world’s second largest producer, Russia. In theory, this made Germany a powerful force against Britain, its only real adversary at the time. America, the world’s top producer of steel and oil among other industrial and wartime goods, wasn’t officially part of the war. Germany appeared to be top dog.
Hey, here’s an idea: Don’t trust Hitler
(Recuerdos de Pandora, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Except, it wasn’t. Hitler planned to invade Russia, so counting Russian petroleum towards German needs only makes sense in the very short term. And Germany was reliant on Russia for 20 percent of its oil, even after Romania joined the Axis powers.
This was especially true when it came to Destroyers-for-bases, since this resulted in America gaining bases and stationing troops on British territories around the world. Germany couldn’t possibly conquer Britain and consolidate the gains without entering conflict with the U.S.
The Frontier Refining Company built this 100-octane plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming, during World War II to make aviation fuel.
(Wyoming State Archives)
So, if you look at this high-water mark of the Third Reich in 1940, but you place an asterisk next to Germany’s imports from Russia and added U.S. industrial output to the Allies, even with an asterisk, it’s clear that Germany was always underpowered against its enemies.
At its zenith, with its allies doing reasonably well, and with goods flowing into Germany like food from conquered France, aluminum and fish oil from conquered Norway, iron from Sweden, and oil from Romania, Germany still faced constant shortages of key war resources.
None of this is to say that the outcome of the war was determined before it was fought. The fascists brought World War II upon themselves, and it was thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of millions everywhere—from the Polish Resistance to British Royal Air Force to the Soviet Army to the U.S. Navy—that the fascist countries were stopped and defeated.
After all, if the Axis powers had successfully seized all those oil fields in Russia or North Africa, or if Germany had successfully invaded Britain in 1940, they may, may, have been able to win and consolidate their international gains. With the added power from conquered European, African, and Asian nations, the Axis powers might have even swallowed America.
So, we are duly grateful to all the veterans of World War II, but we should also thank our lucky stars for the miners, oil workers, farmers, and factory workers who made sure that the Allies were always better supplied than the Axis.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sought to minimize Wednesday the impact of the failed coup in Turkey and the ensuing purge of military officers on the NATO alliance and the campaign against ISIS.
Despite the recent anti-U.S. rhetoric from the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has demanded the extradition of a Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania, Carter said, “We support the democratically elected government.”
The secretary added, “I don’t have any indication” that the failed coup and Erdogan’s tough response would affect Turkey’s continuing membership in NATO. “The alliance is very strong, our relationship is very strong,” he said of Turkey, a founding member of NATO.
Carter also said he expected commercial power that was cut to the U.S. air base at Incirlik in southeastern Turkey following the coup attempt last Friday to be restored shortly, along with full flight operations that are vital to the air campaign against ISIS in Syria.
In a statement, the Pentagon said that Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford phoned his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, on Wednesday and they “broadly discussed operations in Incirlik and the deep commitment the U.S. has to Turkey.”
Carter spoke at a news conference at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, following the opening session of two days of meetings with the defense and foreign ministers of more than 30 nations in the anti-ISIS coalition on the next steps to eliminate the terror group’s remaining strongholds.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu were no-shows at Andrews. Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kilic, represented his government at the meetings, which will continue at the State Department on Thursday.
After failing to make contact with Isik in the aftermath of the coup, Carter said they spoke by phone Tuesday and he told Isik, “I was glad that he was safe and the ministry was functioning. He assured me very clearly that nothing that happened over the weekend will interrupt their support” for the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
Erdogan responded to the attempted coup with a wide-ranging purge of the ranks of the military, police, judiciary, media and academia.
By some counts, more than 50,000 people have been fired or suspended, and more than 9,000 have been detained on suspicion of supporting the coup that Erdogan has blamed on supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, now living in Pennsylvania.
Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup, but the Turkish government on Tuesday said that paperwork had been filed with the State Department demanding his extradition. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to review the extradition request while adding that the U.S. would adhere strictly to the law.
The purge has devastated the ranks of the Turkish military, with at least 118 generals and admirals now under detention, including the commander of Incirlik air base, which is shared by the U.S. 39th Air Base Wing and the Turkish air force.
Erdogan told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the attempted coup, which left at least 240 dead and more than 1,000 wounded, was carried out by a minority within the armed forces.
“It is clear that they are in the minority,” Erdogan said. “This organization that we called a terrorist organization [Gulen’s] is trying to make the minority dominate the majority. We have taken all the steps necessary to prevent such an event.”
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, analyst Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations said the failed coup and Erdogan’s harsh response had reduced U.S.-Turkey relations to their “lowest point” in recent times.
“It’s hard to refer to Turkey as a democracy,” Cook said. The U.S. “has to start asking questions about the value of Turkey as an ally,” but has been reluctant to do so because of Turkey’s membership in NATO and the importance of Incirlik air base in the fight against ISIS, Cook said.
However, “the Turks have been reluctant to get involved in fight against the Islamic State,” Cook said. “By their own admission, they’re much more concerned about Kurdish nationalism.”
The rise of television has brought epic, cinematic stories to home screens, where episodic series can develop characters and plot steadily over a season and build suspense for the exciting climax in ways only film used to do — especially when it comes to battles.
Not only have the visual effects and sets improved, but filmmakers are telling military stories like never before. Whether the stories are fictional, as in Game of Thrones, or historical, as in Band of Brothers, storytellers are using real battles and tactics as inspiration for their shows.
So, let’s a take look at the 10 most dramatic battles in television history:
(Generation Kill | HBO)
10. Battle of Al Muwaffiqiyah — ‘Generation Kill’ (Episode 5)
Generation Kill tells the true story of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. The seven-part miniseries from HBO realistically depicts the Marines, from the heroic moments to the horrifying mistakes. Rudy Reyes, who plays himself in the show, selected this particular ambush as one of the most impactful of the series.
The battle pitted Marines in Humvees against an insurgent attack force that allowed the viewer to perceive combat, through the characters’ eyes, exactly the kind of asymmetrical warfare our service members experience overseas. Dealing with faulty equipment, communication chaos, confusion, unknown enemy numbers or locations, and treating wounds in the field are all common scenarios for deployed troops.
What’s especially eerie is how accustomed they are to this environment. The characters are just as annoyed about trying to get the caravan to back up as they might have been while stuck in traffic back home in the States.
It’s not until the battle is done that the camera reveals how affecting combat truly is.
Inside Game of Thrones: Battling the Silence (HBO)
9. Battling the Silence — ‘Game of Thrones’ (Season 7, Episode 2)
Battling the Silence was not the first groundbreaking naval battle in Game of Thrones, but even without Wildfire, it managed to be the most epic. Euron Greyjoy’s fleet ambushes his niece, Yara’s, in the night and the attack quickly descends into fire and brutality. For the battle, filmmakers cranked up the frame rate and filled the camera with too many people and fights to follow. They were inspired by riots, where the violence is chaotic and encroaching.
Not only are the heroes of this battle captured, killed, or forced to flee, their ships are sunk to the Narrow Sea’s version of Davy Jones Locker in a sound defeat, reminiscent of World War II’s “Ironbottom Sound,” where the Imperial Japanese fleet dealt a crushing blow to American and Australian forces at Savo Island in the Pacific.
The seven-minute scene took weeks to film and was shot with 40 stuntmen, six cast members, and all of the crew on the set, which was slippery from rain and actually burning with real fire and ember guns, spraying flaming ash through the air. Most importantly, “Silence” left fans of the show with a sharp introduction to the depravity that can be expected from the final season’s newest villain.
Battlestar Galactica | Pegasus & Galactica Vs Cylon Resurrection Ship
8. Destruction of the Resurrection Ship— ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (Season 2, Episode 12)
In Battlestar Galactica, the cylons are able to download their consciousness into a new body aboard Resurrection Ships within range. In other words, they’re extremely difficult to kill because they can just jump into a new body when the old one is defeated.
In Season 2, the Colonial Fleet takes down its first Resurrection Ship — a major victory in their war with the Cylons. The destruction of a Resurrection Ship held the tactical weight of the raid at St. Nazaire by Royal Commandos against German drydocks in World War II. The ambush shifted the logistics of German ship repair in the Atlantic, forcing them to deploy their naval ships more cautiously, as they could only be repaired by sending them to the north coast of Europe (and past Royal Air Force and Royal Navy patrols).
Battlestar Galactica has a distinctly unique “signature style” of camera-work, especially during space battles. Cinematographers employed handheld work and zooms, almost as if the cameras were shooting a documentary, which gives the show a realistic feel.
Battlestar Galactica is also filled with subtle details that further heighten the realism. In this battle, you can see some of the Cylon missiles headed for the Pegasus turn or curve around it. Producers have stated that this was to demonstrate the electronic countermeasures employed by the Pegasus, just as modern aircraft scramble the guidance systems of enemy missiles.
Marvel’s The Punisher (S1 Ep. 3): Kandahar Fight Scene
The first season of The Punisher reveals a flashback to a visceral battle that Frank Castle fought while deployed as a Marine. The action sequence depicts Castle as a terrified warrior, driven by adrenaline, training, and instinct. His actions are violent, but the expression on his face conveys his horror — and his humanity.
Set to The White Buffalo’s “Wish It Was True,” the scene captures the tragic demands on military service members, who experience terror and violence while trying to do the right thing. As the scene nears its end, Castle snaps, succumbing to pure animalistic aggression. This moment would certainly influence the tortured destiny of the man who later becomes The Punisher.
Whenever Daenerys Targaryen gives the command “Dracarus,” she proves just how dramatically airpower changed war. The sheer and immediate destruction wrought on the Lannister army by dragon fire was enthralling and horrifying. The director, Matt Shakman, likened the destruction to that of napalm or an atom bomb; the magnitude and heat of the flame was enough to turn people to ash in an instant.
The scene took 14 months to plan and 18 days to shoot, shifting from multiple characters’ points of view; but it was the perspective on the ground that was so gripping. Jaime and Bronn had become well-loved characters whose humanity was really revealed when they took in the harrowing aerial assault.
The lines of destruction are reminiscent of the Highway of Death during the Persian Gulf War, when aircraft destroyed hundreds of Iraqi vehicles on Highway 80. The photographs of the carnage after the attack — including bodies that were charred from the bombing — were so violent and disturbing that many media outlets refused to publish them.
Fans of the show await the final season — and inevitable undead dragon damage to come — with dread and morbid anticipation.
BTS Okinawa w/ Tom Hanks and WWII Veterans | The Pacific | HBO
Part 9 of The Pacific, HBO’s follow-up to Band of Brothers, portrays an almost post-apocalyptic version of war, where battle-hardened, weary Marines struggle to hold on to their humanity in the face of an enemy willing to fight to the death. Executive Director Steven Spielberg wanted to portray war as the hellacious experience veterans, like his father and uncle, said it was, rather than glorifying it in a traditional Hollywood format — and he succeeded.
In addition to capturing the grim brutality of battle, the Okinawa scenes also push the characters into battles of the soul. When Sledge and Snafu find a crying baby, they react as warfighters: They are suspicious, alert, and nearly desensitized to the child’s pain. The point is driven home by comparison when another Marine walks in and simply picks up the baby, leaving the characters — and the audience — to wonder whether these two young men can ever truly come back from this war.
Vikings: The Siege of Paris (Part 1) [Season 3 Battle Scene] 3×08 (HD 1080p)
4. Siege of Paris — ‘Vikings’ (Season 3, Episode 8)
The Siege of Paris from Vikings expertly depicts the brutality and madness of scaling a wall, a common tactic in ancient or medieval (or Middle-Earthen) warfighting. Trying to overcome an enemy by scaling his walls means attacking from a position of weakness. Defenders would push scaling ladders away from the walls, light them on fire, or pour boiling pitch upon the insurgents. If the attackers did manage to make it to the top of the wall, they would be outnumbered by a well-fortified enemy.
In this episode, Floki straight-up panics at the thought of it and hides, which might not have been such a bad idea, considering what befell heroes like Rollo, Bjorn, and even Ragnar himself.
Lagertha doesn’t fair much better. After her forces are able to successfully break through a door — via reverse battering ram? — they advance into a trap and are torn down by French ballistae.
The vikings were handed a searing defeat, leaving a pile of bodies beneath the walls of Paris.
Everyone knows about the storming of the beach at Normandy, but fewer people know about the paratroopers who jumped behind enemy lines to support the amphibious insertion.
The second episode of Band of Brothers depicts the men of Easy Company jumping into the midst of an air battle. The military is no stranger to waiting around… but waiting as the enemy lights up your fuselage had to have been terrifying.
Band of Brothers captured the details of human nerves and anticipation, military training coming through under duress, and moments of decision-making in the face of terror. Both the pilot and his passengers watch as AAA strike their companions, but neither can do much more than stay the course and try to make it to the drop zone.
Unfortunately for Easy Company, they jumped out of the fire… and into the war.
True Detective – Six minute single take tracking shot – no edits, no cuts – Who Goes There
2. House Raid — ‘True Detective’ (Season 1, Episode 4)
In its first season, True Detective featured a 6-minute, single-take, tracking shot of a shoot-out when a raid goes bad. This scene made the list because, though it doesn’t feature army versus army, neither does most modern warfare that our troops engage in. America is fighting asymmetrical threats, often in urban environments among civilians — which is exactly what we saw in this shot.
Director Cary Fukunaga deliberately trained the camera tightly with Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust, to create a feeling of dread, suspense, and imminent danger.
It is perhaps the greatest long tracking shot on television — and for good reason. According to an interview in The Guardian, the scene involved perfect coordination between the actors, grips, gaffer, cinematographer, operators, multiple rooms with fight choreography, a jumped fence, and a freaking helicopter.
Makeup artists dashed out to add blood and injuries to actors. Special-effects teams fired live rounds. And yeah, the helicopter flew in, right on target. Hell, even Woody Harrelson nailed his driving scene.
It was impressive in every department and cemented the notion that television had become every bit as cinematic as feature films.
Game of Thrones Season 6: Anatomy of A Scene: The Battle of Winterfell (HBO)
1. Battle of the Bastards — ‘Game of Thrones’ (Season 6, Episode 9)
The Battle of the Bastards was not only an intensely satisfying showdown between two pivotal characters, Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton, it was one the most riveting battles depicted on television.
When Ned Stark lost his head in the first season, Game of Thrones made it clear that no character is safe on the series; as a result, the stakes are exponentially higher in Game of Thrones than in other shows.
But even beyond the emotional connection to the characters and their respective military forces, the Battle of the Bastards was loosely based on tactics from the Battle of Cannae in 216 CE, where the Carthaginian leader Hannibal Barca surrounded and defeated his enemy.
The Boltons’ tactic of using Romanesque scutums to surround the Stark forces was unnerving, and filmmakers captured the panic it inspired. Even commanding archers to volley their arrows into the fray of battle demonstrated the lengths Ramsay Bolton was willing to go to for victory.
The psychological effect of being trapped by a mountain of dead bodies is one that no healthy person should linger on for long — nor should we consider the slow and painful deaths that would have befallen our heroes had they not been rescued by the Knights of the Vale.
Did we leave something out? Write us a comment and let us know which dramatic television battles are your favorites.
The history of WWII is brimming with legends of incredible heroism, death-defying bravery and sometimes, stories that are just too ridiculous to be true.
The tale of Jasper Maskelyne, the British magician who joined the Royal Engineers once the King declared war on Germany, dances on the line of the third category.
Many people believe that Maskelyne’s “war contributions” are mostly tall tales that have grown more and more fantastical over time, while others contest that his feats of deception are completely factual and actually happened. We may never know for sure how much of history’s account of Maskelyne’s contributions are folklore because there are very few pictures detailing his accomplishments, which is exactly why so many people are skeptical.
Whether or not the illusionist was the real deal or just smoke and mirrors, the story of his contributions to the Allied war effort are too incredible to ignore.
Maskelyne had magic in his blood — he was a third-generation illusionist, so you could say that being awesome ran in his family. He also really, really hated Hitler. Because of this, rather than enlist as a common foot soldier or sailor when Britain began to gear up for WWII, he wanted to offer a flashier form of service: military magician. For whatever reason, the Allies thought that they could actually benefit from having a magic man amongst their ranks, and promoted Maskelyne to major.
But they didn’t stop there — Maskelyne was allowed to assemble a team of the best artists, tricksters, engineers and illusionists around to help him pull off his stunts. The team’s official title was the A-Force, nicknamed “The Magic Gang,” as if The A-Force wasn’t cool enough.
The one and only objective of the A-Force was simple: take down Hitler and the Axis powers in the coolest way possible. Or, to put it simply, to win the war with magic.
And we’re not talking the lame sleight-of-hand card trick stuff you saw on a cruise that one time with your mom. Though, that is apparently what British command was expecting when they brought him on the team. At first Maskelyne was merely used as a troop entertainer, a cheap way to boost morale between training sessions and military operations.
Maskelyne was not down with this. And here is where the first instance of did-he-or-didn’t-he history comes into play. According to history, Maskelyne convinced the Allies to use him for bigger and better things by creating a fake version of the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee and floating it down the river Thames for everyone to see.
How did he do it? Reportedly with an inflatable model and mirrors situated to enlarge the fake ship, making it appear as if it were really as big as the German watercraft. The Allies were apparently impressed, and decided to actually let Maskelyne do what they had promised him in the first place. This piece of history is particularly questionable because there are no photos of the model, but is one of the more entertaining pieces of Maskelyne’s repertoire.
Once he was formally accepted by his higher-ups, it was time to dazzle them with his first and arguably biggest trick for the Allied war effort: hiding the Suez Canal.
If you think this sounds impossible then you’re pretty much correct — the landmark is so recognizable and large that it wouldn’t be possible to actually hide the canal with tarps or create a faux canal as a decoy.
In order to protect this vital body of water from German bombers, they would need a much flashier strategy — literally. Knowing that the Germans carried out their air raids at night, Maskelyne decided that the best means of distracting the bombers would be to try and blind them, or, more realistically, at least make it more difficult for them to find their target.
The Magic Gang supposedly built a system of rotating searchlights and mirrors that created beams of light that were nearly ten miles across, washing whatever came into its path with blinding white light. However, many still debate whether or not this event was actually carried out, or if Maskelyne was even directly involved with the project itself.
Still, the story is pretty dang awesome, and there are several other accounts of Maskelyne’s hijinks during the war that have been recorded.
There’s an old Yakov Smirnoff joke that goes something like, “in Soviet Russia, it’s freedom of speech. In America, it’s freedom after speech.” And if there was anyone who knew this first-hand, it was Smirnoff himself.
He and all other comedians who used to live under the Soviet regime could have faced jail time or death for any joke deemed “unfit.” In order for this to work, there would be absolutely no improvisation. All comedians would need to run each and every joke they planned on telling in a given year through the Ministry of Culture of the USSR.
Within the Ministry, there was an elaborate department dedicated to jokes and humor. The process of telling a timely joke without angering the committee was exhausting. Any joke that was actually funny against the communist ideology was banned. Even being remotely anti-communist meant the joke was banned.
Smirnoff told The Guardian one of his jokes that didn’t make it through and you can see how “humorous” of a place the Department of Jokes was.
“An ant falls in love and marries an elephant. They have an amazing honeymoon, a night of wild passion that is so passionate, in fact, that the elephant collapses and dies in the middle – the ant, however, is even less lucky. He is forced to spend the rest of his living days digging the elephant’s enormous grave.”
Apparently, that’s anti-communist and needed to be banned.
Because jokes were so generally unfunny, scarce, and hard to get approved, any joke that was both permitted and remotely humorous was immediately borrowed by every other Soviet comedian. Talk show hosts were heavily vetted before being allowed on air, so their works were free game and any joke they told would end up in every comedy club a week later.
This doesn’t mean that rebellious citizens didn’t tell their own jokes. Ukrainians held a deep resentment towards their Russian overlords so their jokes were more common — if not darker.
“A Soviet newspaper reports: Last night the Chernobyl Nuclear Power station fulfilled the Five Year Plan of heat energy generation… in 4 microseconds.”
The B-2 Spirit is the most expensive bomber ever built, with a $500 million fly-away cost that climbs much higher when the RD costs are taken into account. The B-2’s story, though, really starts in World War II – because the B-2 was the culmination of an idea.
Aviation historian Joe Baugher notes that Jack Northrop, the founder of Northrop Aviation, had been pursuing the flying wing since 1923. By 1940, he got a technology demonstrator up.
The next year, the U.S. Army Air Force was looking for a long-range bomber that could hit Europe from bases in the U.S. in the event England were to be knocked out of the war.
Northrop submitted a four-engine propeller-driven design that the Army Air Force designated the B-35. It was to have a range of 8,150 miles, a top speed of 391 miles per hour, and a maximum bomb load of 51,070 pounds. Production versions were to have up to 20 .50-caliber machine guns for defense.
The plane had a difficult development, and fell behind schedule. The Army Air Force, though, saw potential and kept it as a research project. Northrop was asked to develop a jet-powered version known as the YB-49, replacing the propeller-driven engines with eight jet engines. While this increased the top speed to 493 miles per hour, it cut the range down to about 4,000 miles.
The plane had its share of problems. Keeping the plane steady was very difficult in the best of times, and it was missing targets when it dropped bombs. Then, one of the YB-49s crashed on June 5, 1948, killing all four crew, including United States Air Force Capt. Glenn Edwards.
There were also hot disputes over the plane’s manufacturing. Northrop insisted on having his company build the B-49 and its variants, while the Air Force wanted Northrop to work with Convair, which had designed and built the B-36 Peacemaker and B-32 Dominator bombers. Jack Northrop would later claim that the Secretary of the Air Force had demanded that Northrop agree to a merger of his company and Convair.
Northrop would abruptly retire and sell off his interest in the company he founded. However, shortly before his death in 1981, he was returned to Northrop, where Air Force officials took the extraordinary step of showing him a scale model of what would become the B-2 Spirit. The B-2 would be able to reach operational status in 1997, largely because by this time, the technology to address the stability issues had been developed.
Today, 20 B-2s are in service with the Air Force, and the service plans to buy another flying wing, the B-21 Raider.
A decade ago, Russia’s Defense Ministry closed down a military base in Pskov Oblast, leaving hundreds of people unemployed. Without income or investment in infrastructure, the town began to collapse around its residents. (Current Time)
When Europe went to war in 1939, America knew it was only a matter of time before it was dragged into another global conflict. To prepare, the country recruited and drafted hundreds of thousands of men in 1940 and held a series of exercises the next year that helped define how the U.S. would fight the Axis over the next six years.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Regular Army consisted of 190,000 poorly equipped soldiers and 200,000 National Guardsmen who had it even worse. That was simply not enough men to fight the war. So Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall and President Franklin D. Roosevelt recruited and drafted their way to a 1941 active force of 1.4 million soldiers.
To prepare to face the Nazis abroad, the Army’s top trainer, Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, ordered a modern workup plan.
After learning individual and small unit skills, large units were sent to “General Headquarters Maneuvers” in Louisiana and the Carolinas.
It’s in Louisiana that the Army tested new combined arms doctrines established in 1940 and 1941. About 472,000 soldiers participated in the Louisiana training exercises across thousands of square miles of maneuver space.
But many of the Army’s new fighting methods weren’t going to work against the Axis powers, with the Army Air Force retaining control of its planes in Air Support Commands that often ignored requests by ground commanders, for example.
Tanks were also controlled by infantry and cavalry units who often squandered the advantage that the modern machines gave them. Instead of using the tanks to conduct vicious thrusts against enemy formations like Germany had famously done in Poland and France, American commanders used tanks as spearheads for infantry and cavalry assaults.
But while the exercises exposed a lot of what was wrong with Army strategy mere months before Pearl Harbor, it also gave careful and attentive leaders a chance to fix problems with new doctrine and strategies.
First, tank warfare advocates met secretly in a Louisiana high school basement on the final day of the maneuvers in that state. Then-Col. George S. Patton spoke with general officers and tank commanders who agreed on a plan for creating a new Army branch dedicated to developing modern armored strategies.
A member of the group, Brig. Gen. Frank Andrews, took the recommendation to Marshall who agreed and created the brand new “Armored” branch. The infantry and cavalry were ordered to release their tanks to this new branch.
In Africa and Europe, these armored units would prove key to victory on many battlefields. Patton put his tank units at the front of the Third Army for much of the march to Berlin.
The cavalry lost much more than just its tanks. It was in the 1941 maneuvers that Army leaders ordered the end of horse units in the cavalry and ordered them to turn in their animals and move into mechanized units instead.
The air units also went through changes, though markedly fewer than ground commanders asked for. Ground units desperately wanted dive bombers that could conduct operations in close proximity to their own forces, breaking up enemy armor and infantry formations like the Luftwaffe did for Germany.
The Army Air Forces did respond to these requests, finally buying new dive bombers developed by the Navy and practicing how to accurately target ground units. But the AAF still focused on strategic bombing and air interdiction to the detriment of the close air support mission which was a distant third priority.
But the greatest lessons learned in the maneuvers may not have been about doctrine and strategy. Marshall and McNair kept a sharp eye out during the war games for top performers in the officer corps who could be promoted to positions of greater leadership.
A number of young officers were slated for promotions and new commands. Colonels Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower were scheduled for promotion to brigadier general. Lieutenant Col. Omar Bradley held the temporary rank of brigadier general during the maneuvers and proved his worth in the exercise, allowing him to keep his temporary star. He would hold the temporary rank until Sep. 1943 when it was made permanent.
While the 1941 maneuvers were imperfect and the Army still had many tough lessons to learn in World War II, the identification of top talent and outdated or bad strategies allowed the force to prepare for global conflict without risking thousands of lives, reducing the cost they would pay in blood after war was declared at the end of the year.
The Army wrote a comprehensive history of the Maneuvers which was updated and re-released in 1992. The U.S. Army GHQ Maneuvers of 1941 is available here.
A Chinese company that acquired gay-dating app Grindr is reportedly selling it off after the US government labeled it a national security risk.
Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd acquired a 60% stake in Grindr in 2016, before buying the rest in 2018.
But sources told Reuters that the company did not clear its purchase with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a US government agency which assesses the national security risk of foreign investments.
The sale prompted a review, after which CFIUS told Kunlun that its ownership of the California-based app constitutes a security risk, sources told Reuters.
One minute you set your rifle down against a tree to go take a leak, the next minute you realize it’s nowhere to be found. Your rifle — the one thing you cannot lose during this training exercise — is missing. Here is what goes through your head in that moment:
Oh my God. Oh God. Oh no. I’m doomed. My life is over.
Well, maybe my platoon sergeant won’t notice.
If I just pray enough, it will appear and everything will be just fine.
Jones over there isn’t paying attention. Maybe I can steal his.
Crap, that won’t work. My rifle is serialized, so they are going to know it’s a different number.
Ok that’s it. I’ll fake an injury and tell the Lt. I fell down and my rifle was lost in a swamp.
No that’s not going to work. There are no swamps anywhere. Oh my God. Oh God. I’m doomed. My life is over.
From its origins as an alternative to the GI .45-caliber pistol to its role introducing night vision to the American fighting man, this handy firearm remained relevant even during the age of the Kalashnikov.
For more than three decades, the M-1 carbine did more than it was ever expected to do. Long overshadowed by the iconic and heavy-hitting M-1 Garand, the M-1 Carbine began its existence in 1940 when the Secretary of War issued orders for the development of a lightweight and reliable “intermediate rifle.”
Although developed to replace the venerable M1911 pistol, other factors convinced the War Department to develop a carbine. The success of the German blitzkrieg in 1939 also had convinced the Army that rapidly deployed maneuver forces such as airborne soldiers or armored columns could punch through front lines and endanger support troops.
In theory, the M-1 carbine was never intended to replace the Garand as a battle rifle – it was supposed to arm cooks and clerks.
“It was a compromise,” said Doug Wicklund, senior curator at the NRA National Firearms Museum, Fairfax, Virginia. “They called it the ‘war baby,’ the younger sibling of the Garand, and it was for soldiers who were not on the front line, something that they would have a better chance of hitting the enemy and defending themselves with.”
But by 1943, up to 40 percent of some infantry divisions were carrying the.30-caliber M-1 carbine as their primary weapon, according to The M-1 Carbine, Leroy Thompson’s history of the weapon’s development and use.
“It was an easier gun to carry than the Garand,” Wicklund said. “It was shorter, it was lighter, it was reliable, it was easier to shoot and easier to clean, and it had a 15-round magazine. It was easy to tape two magazines together and get 30 rounds to fire. Stopping power was not there with the carbine, but you could fire it more times.”
Once the United States entered into World War II, the Army issued contracts ramping up production of the M-1 Carbine. Eventually, more than six million of the weapons in both semi-automatic and select fire models poured out of factories – two million more than the number of Garands produced during the war.
Winchester was one leading producer, but as American companies turned to war production Inland Manufacturing (a General Motors division and producer of a majority of the weapons), National Postal Meter, IBM and even Underwood Typewriter Co. cranked out hundreds of thousands of the carbines.
During World War II and the Korean War, it was completely possible for the Army to issue a company clerk an Underwood typewriter and an Underwood M-1 Carbine.
In 1944, it was modified to shoot both in semi-automatic and full-auto modes. Called the M-2, it spit out bullets at a rate of 900 rounds per minute.
When German troops received the history-changing MP 44 Sturmgewehr, the Wehrmacht put increased firepower in the hands of small units that could direct fully automatic fire at U.S. troops with an assault rifle. The M-1 Garand, hard-hitting as it was, carried only eight rounds to the MP 44’s 30 rounds contained in a detachable box magazine.
Inland Division produced 570,000 M-2 select fire carbines as a solution. The weapon has a selector switch on the left side of the receiver and it can hold a 30-round box magazine.
It wasn’t a Sturmgewehr, but it was available. “The U.S. military has always used what it has already,” said Wicklund. “We had it in inventory. They were everywhere.”
It was also the ideal platform for a technological development that presaged how the United States would own the night during future wars.
During the same year, a version designed to use the first U.S. night-vision gear (the “Sniperscope”) was used by Marines against the Japanese on Okinawa, leading to one out of three enemy soldiers killed by small arms fire dying because of the carbine’s prowess as a night-fighter’s tool.
The Electronic Laboratories Co. developed active infrared night vision in the form of the Sniperscope, a 20-pound package of telescopic sight, infrared flood light, image tube, cables and powerpack. The scope had a range of about 70 yards and could be mounted on either an M-1 or M-2 carbine.
The system not only saw action in the Pacific Theater during World War II but troops used it widely during the Korean War. For example, Marines using carbines with the Sniperscope would fire tracers down on the positions of North Korean and Chinese troops mounting night attacks so machinegunners could target the enemy with heavier fire.
Once again, the M-1 Carbine so frequently described with words such as “handy” and “reliable” was in the right place at the right time. One of the reasons it was selected as the weapon of choice for the Sniperscope was the technological marvel’s weight and bulk. The lightweight carbine kept the weight penalty on an already heavy weapon system to a minimum, a boon for the GI who had to slog the battlefield with it.
In some ways, the M-1 Carbine was the weapon that refused to say “die.”
In Vietnam, even though thousands of the new M-16s had been issued to U.S. troops including the Special Forces in 1964 many Green Berets preferred the M-1 carbine, the weapon of their fathers’ wars.