How the sinking of Germany's greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation - We Are The Mighty
Articles

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation


At the time of its launch, the German battleship Bismarck, the namesake of the 19th century German chancellor responsible for German unification, was easily the most powerful warship in World War II Europe, displacing over 50,000 tons when fully loaded and crewed by over 2,200 men. She had a fearsome armament of 8 15-inch guns alongside 56 smaller cannons, and her main armor belt was over a foot of rolled steel. Her top speed of over 30 knots made her one of the fastest battleships afloat.

The German Kriegsmarine was never going to have the numbers to confront Great Britain’s vast surface fleet, but the German strategy of attacking merchant shipping using U-boats, fast attack cruisers and light battleships had been bearing fruit. A ship as fast and powerful as the Bismarck raiding convoys could do horrendous damage and make a bad supply situation for Great Britain even worse.

The Bismarck was launched with great fanfare on on March 14, 1939, with Otto von Bismarck’s granddaughter in attendance and Adolf Hitler himself giving the christening speech. Extensive trials confirmed that the Bismarck was fast and an excellent gunnery platform, but that it’s ability to turn using only it’s propellers was minimal at best. This design flaw was to have disastrous consequences later.

The German plan was to team the Bismarck with its sister ship Tirpitz alongside the two light battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. This fast attack force would be able to outgun anything it could not outrun, and outrun anything it could not outgun. Pursuing convoys across the North Atlantic, the task force might finally push the beleaguered merchant marine traffic to Great Britain over the edge.

But as usually happens in war, events put a crimp in plans. Construction of the Tirpitz faced serious delays, while the Scharnhorst was torpedoed and bombed in port and the Gneisenau needed serious boiler overhauls. The heavy cruisers Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper that might have served in their place also needed extensive repairs that were continually delayed by British bombing. In the end, the Bismarck sortied with only the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and a few destroyers and minesweepers on May 19, 1941, with the mission termed Operation Rheinübung.

Great Britain had ample intelligence on the Bismark through its contacts in the supposedly neutral Swedish Navy, and Swedish aerial reconnaissance quickly spotted the sortie and passed on the news. The British swiftly put together a task force to confront the threat. After docking in Norway, the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen headed towards towards the North Atlantic and the convoy traffic between North America and Great Britain.

They swiftly found themselves shadowed by British cruisers, and in the Denmark Strait were confronted by the famed battle cruiser Hood and the heavy battleship Prince of Wales. After a short, furious exchange of fire a round from the Bismarck hit one of Hood’s main powder magazines, blowing the ship in half and sinking it in a matter of moments. Only three of 1,419 crew members survived. This was followed by a direct hit to the bridge of the Prince of Wales that left only the captain and one other of the command crew alive, and after further damage it was forced to withdrawal.

The handy defeat of two of its most prized warships stunned the British navy, but the Bismarck did not emerge unscathed. A hit from the Prince of Wales had blown a large hole in one of it’s fuel bunkers, contaminating much of its fuel with seawater and rendering it useless. The British scrambled every ship it had in the area in pursuit, and the Bismarck continued to be shadowed by cruisers and aircraft. The Prinz Eugen was detached for commerce raiding while the Bismarck headed to port in occupied France for repairs, trading distant fire with British cruisers.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Royal Navy Kingfisher Torpedo Bomber

Even damaged, the Bismarck was faster than any heavy British ship, and it took bombers from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal to bring it to heel. A torpedo hit on the Bismarck’s stern left her port rudder jammed, leaving the Bismarck to loop helplessly, and a large British surface task force closed in. Adm. Günther Lütjens, the Bismarck’s senior officer, sent a radio message to headquarters stating that they would fight to the last shell.

Unable to maneuver for accurate targeting, the Bismarck’s guns were largely useless, and British ships pounded it mercilessly, inflicting hundreds of hits and killing Lütjens alongside most of the command staff. After the Bismarck was left a shattered wreck, it’s senior surviving officer ordered it’s scuttling charges detonated to avoid its capture, but damaged communications meant much of the crew did not get the word. When it finally capsized and slipped beneath the waves, only 114 of a crew of more than 2,200 made it off alive.

The Bismarck was one of the most powerful machines of war produced in World War II, and it generated real panic in a Great Britain that possessed a far more powerful surface fleet than Germany. But in the end, the Bismarck fell prey to the same weapon that doomed the concept of battleships: Aircraft.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Bismark’s final resting place at the bottom of the sea.

 

Articles

The complete hater’s guide to the Warthog

So, we are back with another complete hater’s guide to one of the Air Force’s aircraft. Last time, we discussed the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


This time, we will go to the plane that everyone in the Air Force loves…and yet, it keeps ending up on the chopping block. That’s right, it’s time for us to discuss the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 10, 2016, during the first combat training mission of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

Why it is easy to make fun of the A-10

Let’s see, it’s slow. It doesn’t fly high, if anything, the plane is best flying very low.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
As any of its pilots will tell you, it’s ugly — but well hung. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It’s not going to win any airplane beauty pageants any time soon due to being quite aesthetically-challenged. Also, when it was first designed, it was a daylight-only plane with none of the sensors to drop precision-guided weapons.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook

Why you should hate the A-10

Because it has this cult following that seems to think it can do just about anything and take out any one. Because its pilots think the GAU-8 cannon in the nose is all that — never mind that a number of other planes took bigger guns into the fight — including 75mm guns.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

Because that low, slow, flight profile means it is a big target. Because you’d rather claim that a relative died in a motorcycle accident than admit they fly that ugly plane.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner had a major role in the air power strategy of the Gulf War of 1990-1991. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Because that plane always seems to stick around when the Air Force wants to retire it. Because it is useless in a dogfight.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Representative Martha McSally, pictured in her office during her Air Force career, preparing to distribute BRRRRRT. Helps explain why the A-10 will be around indefinitely. (Photo credit unknown)

Why you should love the A-10

Because this plane can bring its pilot home when the bad guys hit it — just ask “Killer Chick.” Because it also has a proven combat record in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and the War on Terror.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Kim Campbell looks at her damaged hog, which she landed at her base after a mission over Baghdad in 2003. (Photo via National Air and Space Museum)

Because it not only has a powerful tank-killing gun, it can carry lots of bombs and missiles to put the hurt on the bad guys.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft takes part in a mission during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and Mark 82 500-pound bombs. (Air Force Photo)

Because while it is designed for close-air support, it also proved to be very good at covering the combat search-and-rescue choppers.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., for refueling Sept. 12, 2013, over southern Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin)

Because, when it comes right down to it, the A-10, for all its faults, has saved a lot of grunts over the years.

Articles

This footage superimposes an epic World War I battle on the modern world

The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest engagements in human history with over 1.5 million people wounded and killed from Jul. 1 to Nov. 18, 1916.


The British Army suffered its worst losses in a single day with over 57,000 casualties on Jul. 1.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Screenshot: YouTube/MC C

The Allied Powers received little in exchange for all this blood, taking bits of German-held territory but falling short of their main objectives. The British were forced to rethink their tactics because of their stunning losses during the fight.

Now, 100 years after the battle ended, YouTube user MC C has released a video with classic Somme footage superimposed on the modern spots where the footage was originally filmed.

Check out the full video below. It’s all gripping footage, but our favorite moments are at 18:02, one of the most massive explosions of the war; 27:12, a group of fusileers preparing for what would end up being their final attack; 31:05, artillery crews pounding German lines; and 36:30, a group of cheering soldiers marching together.

(h/t Reddit user KibboKift)
MIGHTY MOVIES

8 life lessons from ‘Forrest Gump’ legend Lt. Dan

Gary Sinise has had a very successful film and television career spanning over four decades.


Sinise starred on the long-running TV series “CSI: NY” and worked on major motion pictures such as “Apollo 13” and “Ransom.” Sinise is a big supporter of the men and women who serve our nation in uniform. He frequently tours across military bases all around the world entertaining troops with his cover band “The Lt. Dan Band.”

Of course, the actor is most remembered for his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 Academy Award winning film “Forrest Gump.”

In the movie, Lt. Dan is a straight-forward Army officer who comes from a long line of military tradition. In the film, it was said that every one of his relatives had served and died in every American war.

Throughout the picture, we see the character evolve into various stages showing anger, depression, acceptance and redemption.

The character is an important part of Forrest Gump’s life and his own development throughout the film. The role earned Sinise his only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Here are eight valuable life lessons from our favorite Lieutenant:

1. Take care of your feet

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
(YouTube Screen Grab)

The first time we see Lt. Dan is in Vietnam when Gump, played by the legendary Tom Hanks, and his best friend Bubba report to their new unit.

Lieutenant Dan comes out of his quarters and introduces himself to the duo. After some small talk, the officer tells them that there is one item of GI gear that can be the “difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt.” He then say “socks” and he stresses the importance of keeping their feet dry when out on patrol.

Clearly Lt. Dan was a student of history. In World War I, many Soldiers suffered from trench foot, a serious problem when feet are damp and unsanitary. If left untreated trench foot can lead to gangrene and amputation.

Our feet are so vital in our everyday life. Listen to Lt. Dan! Change your socks and keep your feet dry.

2. Knowing your destiny

Lt. Dan knew he wanted to be a Soldier.

It was Lt. Dan’s destiny to die in combat for his country. As morbid as it may sound, this is what the character envisioned as his life’s purpose.

Many people do not know what they were put on this earth to do. Many people give up on their dreams never achieving them. Say what you want about Lt. Dan’s destiny, but it was clear what he wanted to achieve in his life.

3. Overcoming self-doubt

After Forrest Gump saved Lt. Dan’s life, Sinise’s character felt cheated out of his purpose. Laying in a hospital bed after his legs were amputated, Lt. Dan holds a lot of self-doubt asking Gump “what am I going to do now?”

His feeling of hopelessness is something many of us experience in life for various circumstances and situations. His doubts remain throughout the movie as the character goes through changes in his life and gathers new perspectives along the way.

Eventually Lt. Dan recognizes that he cannot let his insecurities hinder him. As you will see later on, Lt. Dan sets out new goals to accomplish and eventually stops his self-loathing.

4. Sticking up for your friends

While it seemed Lt. Dan always gave Gump a hard time, deep down he valued the friendship of his former Soldier.

This is clear in a scene where Lt. Dan sticks up for Gump during a New Year’s Eve after party in a New York hotel room. The character backs up his friend after two women start to mock Gump by calling him “stupid.”

Lieutenant Dan kicks them out of the room and tells them to never call him stupid. That is a true friend!

5. Keeping your word

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Just remember to pull into the dock before you jump off the boat.

During their time in New York, Gump told Lt. Dan he was going to become a shrimp boat captain in order to keep a promise to his friend and fallen comrade Bubba.

Lieutenant Dan vowed if Gump became a shrimp boat captain the wounded warrior would become his first mate. As the movie progress, we find Gump on board his very own shrimp boat.

The new captain sees his longtime friend on the pier one day while on his boat. In one of the most iconic and hilarious scenes in the Academy Award winning picture, Gump jumps from his boat while it’s still steaming forward to greet Lt. Dan.

When Hanks’ character asked Lt. Dan what he was doing there, he said he wanted to try out his “sea legs” and would keep his word to become Gump’s first mate. It is important to keep your promises!

6. Making peace with himself

The Lt. Dan character lived in a world of bitterness and hatred for so many years. But serving as Gump’s first mate made him appreciate his life. Although the Lt. Dan character always seemed to be a bit rough around the edges, he showed his heartfelt side when he finally thanked Gump for saving his life during the war.

After thanking him, Sinise’s character jumps into the water and begins to swim while looking up to the sky. The symbolism in the scene is clear here as he washing away all of those years of hate and accepted a new path.

7. Invest your money

Lieutenant Dan invested the money from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Corporation in a “fruit” company. That company of course was Apple. This life lesson is pretty simple. If you can invest some money wisely go for it! You just might become a “gazillionaire.”

8. The joys of life

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
And that’s all we got to say about that!

At the end of the film, we see a clean shaven Lt. Dan walking with his prosthetic legs, which Gump referred to as “magic legs.” With his fiancé by his side, Lt. Dan has a new lease on life.

Much like Lt. Dan, we all encounter ups and downs throughout our lives in one form or another. However, all of those experiences are part of the journey that can make life joyful in the end.

This is clear when Sinise’s character looks at Gump and gives him a big smile.

And that’s all we got to say about that!

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

Articles

This must-read essay explains the military’s discomfort with ‘Thank you for your service’

When a stranger says “Thank you for your service” to a veteran, it’s often an awkward — and short — conversation. For some veterans, being thanked for their job seems odd: I didn’t really do much, some may think. You’re thanking me for something you don’t even understand is another thought that may come to mind.


When I hear it, I cordially say thank you back. In my opinion, it takes some guts for a random stranger to approach and express that appreciation. But I sometimes think it may be the wrong sentiment. Sadly, “Thank you for your service” has become the end of the conversation, not the beginning. It’s a phrase that has become a punchline in military circles — thought as empty and overused — and takes away from what could be a chance for civilians to ask questions and really understand what troops have done.

Air Force veteran Elizabeth O’Herrin responds in a similar way, saying “my pleasure” in response. But was it really? As she explains in a wonderful essay at the website Medium, the exchange of pleasantries can take a quick turn:

Upon returning home, being thanked for my service became something I found awkward. My experience was not that traumatic. It was not that dangerous. It didn’t truly feel like a sacrifice. Other people certainly deserved a thank you, but not me. Not when I remembered leaning over a guy who had just lost his leg, scrubbing blood from his hands, attempting a conversation to soothe him when he was incoherent, doped up on morphine. Digging through his bag to find his Purple Heart because he became panicked when he couldn’t remember where they put it. I dug through the normal shit he packed in his bag earlier that day, back when he had two legs, like bubble gum. “Thank you for your service.”
I didn’t deserve much thanks for anything.

O’Herrin, who helped fuse bombs on jets that were later dropped on the bad guys, is and should be proud of her service. Like many of the post-9/11 military generation, she volunteered at a time of war and performed an essential job that most certainly resulted in saved lives on the ground.

In her essay, she recalls seeing a wounded veteran on the D.C. metro, and making eye contact with his mother. She struggles in that moment with wanting to tell the mother — who has no idea she is a veteran — that she understands at least some of what she’s going through. She wants to empathize with her, and tell her that she feels her pain.

“But I knew I couldn’t say something without sounding vapid and empty, swiping at some semblance of shared experience and missing entirely,” O’Herrin writes.

In this experience, she learns an important point, and one that perhaps all veterans should take to heart. While “thank you for your service” can sometimes sound like an empty phrase, just remember in that time before you heard it, that person had to work up the courage to approach when they were not obligated in any way. Far from the awful homecoming of our Vietnam veterans who were sometimes cursed by those who never served, this generation of veterans should accept that phrase and embrace it.

“They wanted me to know they felt something, and chose to say it,” O’Herrin writes in her closing. “And I feel grateful for their words.”

Now read the entire thing over at Medium

Articles

Fallen soldiers returned to US after nearly 200 years

Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is well known as the place where Americans killed in action abroad return home on their journey to a final resting place. Whether it was the Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or any conflict or incident in between, most of America’s fallen heroes have been honored with a Dignified Transfer Ceremony when they arrive.


How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Aviators from the Army Reserve Aviation Command assisted in the transfer of remains of U.S. Soldiers from the Mexican-American War. The multi-day mission required the aviators to fly into Monterrey, Mexico to retrieve the remains and then transport them to Dover Air Force Base for a Dignified Transfer Ceremony led by the U.S. Army’s Old Guard, Sept. 28. (U.S. Army Photo by Capt. Matthew Roman, Army Reserve Aviation Command Public Affairs Officer)

Now, some 170 years after having made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States, the remains of 11 soldiers killed during the Mexican-American war finally received their due honors at Dover Sept. 28.

According to a report by Fox News Latino, these American troops fell during the Mexican War at the Battle of Monterrey, which raged for three days in September 1846. American forces under Gen. (and future President) Zachary Taylor — a mix of regular troops and militia — decisively defeated a larger Mexican army under Pedro de Ampudia, Jose Garcia-Conde, and Francisco Mejia.

American casualties in the battle were somewhat light, with 120 dead, 43 missing, and 368 wounded. The fight ended when Ampuida surrendered the city of Monterrey, but Taylor’s decision to sign a two-month armistice and to allow the Mexican forces to fall back drew criticism.

Mexican casualties totaled 367.

The American troops whose remains have been recovered are believed to have been from the 1st Tennessee Regiment, a militia unit that served as part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Volunteer Division under Taylor’s command, dubbed the Army of Occupation. At least 30,000 volunteers came from Tennessee, and 35 were killed during the war.

The United States not only secured Texas after a lengthy border dispute with Mexico, but it also received parts of New Mexico; Arizona; Colorado; Utah; Wyoming; Nevada and California in the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo.

The first of the skeletal remains were discovered in 1995, and other remains were found over the next 16 years. The return of the remains was negotiated by the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department. Middle Tennessee State University professor Hugh Berryman is slated to lead a team of scientists to try to identify the remains.

“After working for several years with the State Department and our U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico, I was pleased to learn that the remains of these U.S. soldiers will finally be returned to American soil,” said Tennessee Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais in a statement. “This joint effort embodies the longstanding commitment to our men and women in uniform that the United States does not leave our fallen soldiers behind,” .

Articles

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: Youtube/Boeing


Boeing’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) fires a beam of concentrated light that can disable anything from drones in flight to incoming mortar shells.

Lasers are already in use on military trucks and Navy ships, but Boeing premiered a new version that can fit inside a suitcase earlier last week in New Mexico, Wired reports.

HEL MD works by shooting a 10 kilowatt beam of focused light at light speed towards airborne targets.

The beam will then quickly heat the surface of the target until it bursts into flames. Boeing claims the laser works with “pinpoint precision within seconds of [target] acquisition, then acquires the next target and keeps firing.”

Potentially these lasers could serve to defend against hypersonic missiles, which fly too fast for conventional missile defense.

Wired reports that the laser is accurate within a few inches, and it can disable or destroy the flying foe depending on what the situation calls for. So an incoming mortar can be detonated from a safe distance.

The laser also has the benefit of being totally electronic, so no dangerous projectiles will be fired, and as long as the electricity flows, the machine can fire indefinitely. For that reason, the HEL MD system is a rare instance of a high tech defense product having a low operational cost.

Boeing hopes to have the system available for purchase within a year or two, according to Wired, who also report that Boeing will add sound effects to the silent machine.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

16 photos that show how the US military responds to natural disasters

When natural disaster strikes at home or abroad, America usually sends its military to aid in rescue and recovery. Engineers, search and rescue, and logistics specialists pour into the area to save as many people as quickly as possible.


Here are 17 photos that show what that’s like.

1. Troops are rushed to the area, usually via cargo aircraft.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Harris

2. In the crucial first hours, disaster survivors can be rescued from collapsed or flooded structures. Engineers carefully shore up crumbling buildings and cut through obstacles.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Tania Reid

3. During hurricanes and tsunamis, there’s a good chance some survivors will have been swept to sea. Trained swimmers work to extract them.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Krystal Ardrey

4. Survivors are transported to safe areas in military aircraft and vehicles.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Blackwell

5. When possible, the Navy sends its hospital ships to the disaster zone. The USNS Mercy and USNS comfort are floating hospitals with capacity for 1,000 patients each.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Blackwell

6. Field hospitals are set up to receive and treat the injured or sick after the disaster.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Justyn M. Freeman

7. As survivors are being evacuated to care facilities, equipment, food, and other necessities surge in.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Roy A. Santana

8. If the local transportation network has been damaged, the U.S. military finds workarounds. Here, a group of Air Force combat controllers direct air traffic at Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there knocked out the control tower.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios

9. As supplies come in, they are moved overland to shelters and distribution centers.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago

10. Sometimes, engineers have to prevent additional damage from aftershocks or continuing flooding.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago

11. The engineers can operate 24-hours-a-day to get ahead of rising water.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago

12. Sandbags and materials can be dropped into place by helicopters, vehicles, or carried in by troops.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago

13. When helicopters are used, the crew chief directs the pilots in order to get the materials in the right spot.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air National Guard Airman Megan Floyd

14. Clearing roads allows for more vehicles to move supplies and evacuees.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Clayton Cupit

15. If invited by local government officials, troops will help patrol disaster areas.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Army National Guard Sgt. Brian Calhoun

16. As the situation begins to stabilize, the military will assist with clean up as well. Eventually, they’ll be released back to their normal missions.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Stefanie Pupkiewicz

Articles

The Tuskegee Airmen’s trial by fire in ‘Operation Corkscrew’

Pantelleria and Lampedusa, two islands located about 50 miles off the Tunisian coast, were strategically located in the middle of the intended path of the Allied fleet for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Pantelleria was garrisoned by an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Axis troops, mostly Italian, and was home to radar stations that tracked Allied ship and air traffic. Its defenses included 15 battalions of coastal guns, pillboxes, and other defensive works.


Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had long been an advocate of seizing the two islands, stating that if “left in the enemy hands, they would be a serious menace; secure in our hands they would be a most valuable asset.” The “asset” was Pantelleria’s airfield, the only one close enough and large enough to accommodate the five squadrons of short-range Allied fighters needed for close air support for the invasion.

Eisenhower initially encountered resistance from his British senior subordinate commanders, who felt that defenses on Pantelleria were so strong that assaulting forces ran a serious risk of failure. But Eisenhower insisted, assigning Lt. Gen. Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, commander of Northwest African Air Forces, “with the mission to reduce the island’s defenses to such a point that a landing would be uncontested,” making Pantelleria “a sort of laboratory to determine the effect of concentrated heavy bombing on a defended coastline.”

Codenamed “Operation Corkscrew,” the air offensive kicked off on May 18, 1943. From then until the invasion date of June 11, the island came under constant air attack from heavy and medium bombers and fighter-bombers.

One of the squadrons flying missions to Pantelleria was the 99th Fighter Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the son of the nation’s first African-American general, the first squadron of African-American pilots of the “Tuskegee Experiment” program to see action in the war. The squadron arrived in Morocco on May 1, 1943.

As this was a time of Jim Crow in the United States, the pilots and ground crew encountered the indignities and slights of segregation and racism they had experienced back home. But one pleasant surprise was Col. Philip “Flip” Cochran, the inspiration for cartoonist Milton Caniff’s hero Flip Corkin in the syndicated newspaper strip Terry and the Pirates and later co-commander of the 1st Air Commando Group, who enthusiastically went out of his way to give the pilots combat training.

Lt. Spann Watson remembered Cochran as “a great guy” and said, “Cochran helped the 99th learn how to fight.” Davis added his praise, noting, “We all caught [Cochran’s] remarkable fighting spirit and learned a great deal from him about the fine points of aerial combat.”

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

Pantelleria would be the 99th’s baptism of fire. The squadron averaged two missions a day. In addition to escorting bombers, the pilots also conducted dive-bombing and strafing missions. Though the pilots did not shoot down any enemy planes, they did damage several and were successful in driving away air attacks on the bombers – which suffered minimal or no losses, a foretaste of defensive tactics that would define the Tuskegee Airmen’s reputation in the war.

In the three-week air campaign, 6,400 tons of bombs were dropped on targets on Pantelleria. On June 11, assault craft carrying troops from the British 1st Division headed toward Pantelleria’s beaches. But, contrary to British predictions of beaches bathed in blood, before the troops could land, the Italian governor capitulated. The garrison on Lampedusa surrendered the next day. The only casualty was a soldier bitten by a mule.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Eight Tuskegee Airmen in front of a P-40 fighter aircraft | U.S. Air Force photo

The swift fall of the islands went straight to the heads of some senior strategic air commanders, who now believed airpower alone could change the course of the war. Spaatz went so far as to claim “the application of air [power] available to us can reduce to the point of surrender any first-class nation now in existence, within six months from the time that pressure is applied.”

For the 99th, Corkin’s training assistance had a payoff beyond the battlefield. Following the surrender of Pantelleria, Davis received a message from area commander Col. J. R. Watkins: “I wish to extend to you and the members of the squadron my heartiest congratulations for the splendid part you played in the Pantelleria show. You have met the challenge of the enemy and have come out of your initial christening into battle stronger qualified than ever. Your people have borne up well under battle conditions and there is every reason to believe that with more experience you will take your place in the battle line along with the best of them.”

Davis would have a long and distinguished career in the Air Force, retiring in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant general. In 1998, he was advanced to the rank of general (retired list). He died in 2002.

Articles

This simple exercise will help determine if you really want to be a sniper

Quora is the ultimate resource for crowdsourcing knowledge. If you’re unfamiliar, you ask the Quora world a question and anyone with expertise (and some without it) will respond. One user asked the world what service he should join if he wanted to be a sniper. One Marine veteran gave him some necessary information.

Choosing what branch to join can be tough for anyone. Different branches have different lifestyles, they come with different job opportunities, and they each have their own difficulties. If you’re 100-percent sure you want to be a sniper, that doesn’t narrow your selection. At all.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Yes, the Air Force has snipers.

To be fair, the asker asked, “Which branch is better?” Many users thoughtfully answered his question with answers ranging from the Coast Guard’s HITRON precision marksmen to arguing the finer points about why Army snipers are superior to SEALs and Marine Scout Snipers (go ahead and debate that amongst yourselves).


Many answering users wondered if the original asker really wanted to be a sniper. Some answers were condescending, some were went as far as accusing him of simply wanting to kill people (this is still the internet, after all). But one Marine veteran gave the young asker an exercise. One that would help him see if it was something he really wanted to do.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Gunny Hathcock approves.
(Hathcock Family photo)

That Marine was a trucker, an artilleryman, and a Desert Storm veteran. He “wasn’t a sniper, but I served with them, and listened in awe to how they train.” He then gave the asker a 15-step exercise to see if sniper training was something he really wanted to do:

  1. Wait until the middle of summer.
  2. Get a wool blanket and three quart-size ziplock bags.
  3. Fill the bags with small meals.
  4. Get two one-quart canteens and plenty of water purification tablets.
  5. Locate a swamp that is adjacent to a field of tall grass
  6. Before the sun comes up on day one, wrap yourself in the wool blanket.
  7. Crawl through the swamp, never raising any part of your body above the one-foot level.
  8. Lay all day in the field with the sun bearing down on you.
  9. Eat your food while never moving faster than a sloth.
  10. If you need water, crawl back to the swamp, fill the canteens, and use your water purification tablets to hopefully not get sick.
  11. Put any bodily waste in the zip-lock bags as you empty them of food. This includes any vomit if you didn’t decontaminate your water well enough.
  12. Bees, fire ants, and any predatory animals are not a reason to move faster than a sloth or move any part of your body above the one-foot level.
  13. Sleep there through the night.
  14. When the sun rises crawl back through the swamp.
  15. Just before you stand up and go home, ask yourself if you want to be a sniper.

Always remember: If you use the Quora world for advice, be sure to consider your source.

Articles

A Navy carrier just broke the record for dropping bombs on ISIS

The USS Harry S. Truman is celebrating the work of its crew after setting the record for ordnance dropped on ISIS. The Truman launched over 1,118 ordinance pieces against terrorist targets over the past five months, surpassing the 1,085 dropped by the USS Theodore Roosevelt‘s pilots in 2015.


How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The USS Harry S. Truman launches a jet during training operations. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class K.H. Anderson/USN

The Truman’s Carrier Air Wing 7  flew 1,407 combat sorties and dropped over 580 tons of ordnance on the Islamic State.

“Since our arrival in the Arabian Gulf, the Truman Strike Group has been conducting operations around the clock,” Capt. Ryan B. Scholl, Truman’s commanding officer, told a Navy journalist. “This deployment is busier than any other I’ve seen. Every Sailor is doing great work individually and executing as a combat team to reach this milestone. It is due to this dedication as a combined force that Truman is making a significant difference fighting for our country.”

The bombing missions by the Navy and Air Force, in addition to raids by the Army’s Delta Force and artillery strikes by the U.S. Marine Corps, have weakened ISIS and helped allied ground forces push them back. The strikes have been moving so quickly that the Pentagon has warned of shortages of bombs.

Meanwhile, the Navy has also hit ISIS targets with cruise missiles when necessary.

All these blows have left ISIS weak, but it has failed to dislodge them entirely. While the predictions continue that ISIS will soon collapse, the fact that the organization is largely self-funded by taxing economic activity and collecting money from black market trade has made it hard to starve the group out. Recent airstrikes targeting ISIS cash and financial leaders — as well as the capturing and killing of ISIS accountants — have hurt the group’s ability to pay its fighters.

And strikes alone can not wipe out the terrorist organization. A January piece from the Council on Foreign Relations pointed out that ISIS had about 30,000 fighters when airstrikes began and had lost 20,000 fighters to strikes by Jan. 2016. Still, their total number of fighters hovered somewhere around 30,000 due to the presence of new recruits.

The recent financial troubles of the so-called caliphate have finally triggered a downtick in fighter numbers, but it’s likely that Navy air wings will be busy dropping bombs on the terrorists for a long time to come.

Articles

How the “Little Groups of Paratroopers” became airborne legends

When paratroopers assaulted Sicily during the night of Jul. 9-10, 1943, they suffered some of the worst weather that could affect that kind of a mission.


The men were supposed to conduct two airborne assaults and form a buffer zone ahead of the 7th Army’s amphibious assault on the island, but winds of up to 40 knots blew them far off course.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Paratroopers board a Douglas C-47 Skytrain for Operation Husky. Photo: US Army

The 3,400 paratrooper assault took heavy losses before a single pair of boots even touched the ground. But what happened next would become airborne legend, the story of the “Little Groups Of Paratroopers” or “LGOPs.”

The LGOPs didn’t find cover or spend hours trying to regroup. They just rucked up wherever they were at and immediately began attacking everything nearby that happened to look like it belonged to the German or Italian militaries.

They tore down communications lines, demolished enemy infrastructure, set up both random and planned roadblocks, ambushed Axis forces, and killed everything in their path. A group of 16 German pillboxes that controlled key roads was even taken out despite the fact that the attacking force had a fraction of their planned strength.

This mischief had a profound effect on the defenders. The Axis assumed that the paratroopers were attacking in strength at each spot where a paratrooper assault was reported. So, while many LGOPs had only a few men, German estimates reported much stronger formations. The worst reports stated that there were 10 times as many attackers as were actually present.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Troops and equipment come ashore on the first day of the invasion of Sicily. Photo: Royal Navy C. H. Parnall

German commanders were hard-pressed to rally against what seemed to be an overwhelming attack. Some conducted limited counterattacks at what turned out to be ghosts while others remained in defensive positions or, thinking they were overrun, surrendered to American forces a that were a fraction of their size.

The Axis soldiers’ problems were made worse by a lack of supplies and experience. Fierce resistance came from only a handful of units, most notably the Hermann Goering Division which conducted counter-attacks with motorized infantry, armored artillery, and Tiger I heavy tanks.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
World War II paratroopers jump into combat. Photo: US Army

The Allied soldiers used naval gunfire to break up these counter-attacking columns whenever possible and fought tooth and nail with mortars and artillery to delay the tanks when naval gunfire was unavailable.

The American campaign was not without tragedy though. On Jul. 11, paratroopers from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were sent in to reinforce the American center which had struggled to gain much ground. Some naval and shore anti-aircraft batteries, weary from constant German bombing missions, had not been told that American planes would be coming in that night.

The gunners downed 23 of the transport planes packed with paratroopers and damaged 37 more. Of the 2,200 paratroopers scheduled to drop onto Sicily that night, 318 were killed or wounded by friendly fire.

Still, the operation was a success, thanks in large part to the actions of little groups of paratroopers wreaking havoc across the island until they could find a unit to form up with. Italian forces began withdrawing from the island on July 25 and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton took Mesina, the last major city on Sicily, on Aug. 17 only to find that the rest of the Axis forces there had withdrawn as well.

Articles

The Army dropped the Chevy Colorado-based ISV from the sky

In June 2020, the Army selected the GM submission for the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The $214 million contract calls for 649 to be delivered to the Army over a five-year period. Based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the ISV is designed to provide rapid and organic transportation to light infantry units. Naturally, the best unit to test the ISV is America’s Airborne.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
A full infantry squad of nine soldiers and all their gear aboard the ISV (U.S. Army)

The 82nd Airborne Division is tasked with being the nation’s Immediate Response Force. Along with an airlift from the Air Force, the IRF is designed around rapidly deploying a Brigade Combat Team anywhere around the world within 18 hours of notification. The lightweight ISV is ideally suited for this role. In order to test this capability, the 82nd had to drop it from a plane.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Paratroopers of 2-325 IN de-rig the ISV on Holland Drop Zone (U.S. Army)

2-325 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team worked with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate to conduct the ISV’s airdrop certification. The ISV was delivered by standard low-velocity from a C-130 and C-17 as well as by a standard dual-row airdrop system from a C-17. Upon landing, paratroopers de-rigged the ISV, loaded their rucks on its roof, and drove it over smooth and rough terrain. “Operational testing is an opportunity for test units to train hard while having the opportunity to offer their feedback to improve Army equipment,” Maj. Cam Jordan, executive officer at ABNSOTD, said. Testing was conducted on the Holland and Sicily Drop Zones at Fort Bragg from March through June 2021.

The ISV will enhance the mobility and lethality of the light infantry. “The ISV will be a game changer for a rifle squad,” Jordan said. “The ability to drop this in with the soldiers will give them much greater reach and endurance to complete their mission.” The Colorado-based vehicle can carry all nine soldiers in a squad and their individual combat loads.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The ISV aboard a C-17 right before it is extracted by parachute (U.S. Army)

Moreover, the ISV utilizes 70% off-the-shelf components from its commercial variant. This makes it easier for an infantry squad to operate and maintain.

“This vehicle will work well as a means of rapid insertions for an Infantry squad into all types of terrain, including urban environment,” Spc. Brice T. Dunahue, after testing the ISV, said. “The similarities to civilian vehicles will ensure training is fluid and in emergency situations can be operated by any solider.”

The 5,000-pound ISV is also designed to be sling loaded under a UH-60 Blackhawk or flown inside a CH-47 Chinook. As testing continues and the Army takes delivery of more vehicles, the ISV will roll its way into the motor pools of infantry units across the force.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The ISV is dropped from a C-17 (U.S. Army)
Do Not Sell My Personal Information