Britain's 'finest hour' started 75 years ago - We Are The Mighty
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Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
RAF pilots scramble to their fighters during the Battle of Britain.


The British knew the attack was coming, they just weren’t sure when. For months Hitler had made his intentions clear: He was going to invade the United Kingdom, and that invasion would start with an air assault.

And on July 10, 1940 that assault began. Phase One — known as Kanalkampf, German for “channel war” — focused on taking out shipping in the English Channel. The Royal Air Force was there to meet the Luftwaffe, and after the first day the box score was 13 to 7 in favor of the British — a surprising result for the outnumbered RAF. That day set the tone for the eventual outcome.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Spitfire makes a run on a German bomber.

The Germans had more qualified fighter pilots than the British, and their front line fighter, the Bf-109 Messerschmidt, was superior to the RAF’s Hurricane (which outnumbered the Spitfire in the inventory at the time) in speed and climb performance. However, the Hurricane had a superior turn rate and better firepower, and the British pilots used those elements to their advantage.

The air war wore on for several months, working it’s way over land as German bombers attacked both military and civilian targets. When it was finally over the RAF had lost 544 aircrew to the Luftwaffe’s 2,500. The damage to population centers like London took decades to repair, and the British repaid the favor by bombing civilian centers when the war moved east over Germany.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Damage to London after German bombing raid during Battle of Britain.

Overall, by preventing Germany from gaining air superiority, the British forced Hitler cancel Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Britain.

After a ceremonial “flypast” today over London, Squadron Leader Duncan Mason who participated in the flight told the BBC: “When you think of the Battle of Britain it was one of those pivotal moments of history, it ranks up there with Trafalgar, Waterloo.

“It’s actually not just about the RAF but the resilience of the nation showed in the face of enormous adversity.”

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Old and new mix during ceremonial ‘fly past’ over London marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously summed up the Battle of Britain with this quote: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In the same speech to the House of Commons he also said, “”… if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

Now: This Vietnam-era wounder warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’ 

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US destroyer fires flares at Iranian attack boat

A U.S. Navy destroyer had a close encounter with an Iranian vessel Monday, just two days before a crucial Iranian presidential election.


An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessel came within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan, forcing it to fire flares toward the IRGC vessel after attempting to turn away from it, according to the Associated Press. The encounter is the latest of the Navy’s close encounters with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, coming two days before Iran’s radical conservative faction attempts to retake the presidency.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

“[The] Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a 5th Fleet spokesman, told the AP in a statement Wednesday.

Iran’s leading conservative candidate, Ebrahim Raisi, is the supposed favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority over the IRGC. It is unclear if the two events are related, but the timing of the event is telling. The IRGC’s provocation could be an attempt to exhibit the hardline faction’s strength against the U.S.

The Mahan had a previous encounter with Iranian vessels in January, at which time it was forced to fire warning shots at two patrol boats.

The IRGC has drastically increased its encounters with U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf. Many of the encounters occur near the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel through which 33 percent of the world’s oil passes. The U.S. Navy recorded 35 “unsafe and/or unprofessional” encounters with the IRGC in 2016, up from 23 in 2015. Seven such instances have been recorded in 2017, including Monday’s incident.

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This movie taught 16,000 Soviet Army extras 150-year-old infantry moves

The 1970 movie “Waterloo” was one of the most intricately filmed war movies of all time. A story about Napoleon’s famous last stand could not be told accurately without battle scenes on a grand scale. But these were the days before CGI and other computer wizardry, so Dino De Laurentiis had to get the extras — lots of them.


To save on production costs, necessary to build everything seen in the movies – from palaces to artillery – De Laurentiis decided to film the movie in the Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War. The USSR agreed to allow the filming of the movie in Ukraine and also gave access to Soviet men and equipment.
The Red Army offered up some 16,000 men to the filmmakers, along with honest-to-Lenin cavalry and civil engineers.  The civil engineers recreated the entire Waterloo battlefield, including roads, thousands of trees, and Belgian farmhouses. They even bulldozed a few hills, cultivated rye, barley, and wildflower fields, and piped in water via an irrigation system to recreate the mud of the battlefield.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

Russian director Sergei Bondarchuk housed the troops in tents near the battlefield and trained them in the infantry tactics and weapons of the time, 1815. The men were able to grow their facial hair and live like Napoleonic-era troops. They were more than just glorified battle re-enactors, they became bona fide Napoleonic Warriors, learning drills as well as saber and bayonet tactics.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

The total price tag of the film came to a whopping $40 million – $247 million adjusted for inflation. The resulting battle scenes are worth every penny. Aside from a few anachronisms, the battles are epic depictions of the French Empereur’s last 100 days.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

Take that, Peter Jackson.

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Here’s why the battle for Mosul could ‘mark the beginning of the end’ for ISIS

The battle for ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq has kicked off this week.


But if it’s not handled well, the long-term consequences could be severe.

“If handled successfully, Mosul could mark the beginning of the end of the Islamic State; if handled poorly, it could be yet another pause before an inevitable resurgence of terror,” said an online intelligence briefing from The Soufan Group, a strategic security firm.

Also read: Everything ISIS has lost at Mosul . . . so far

The Iraqi Security Forces don’t have enough troops to retake and hold Mosul and the surrounding area without help. So other factions — including Kurdish forces and Shia militias (known as Popular Mobilization Units) backed by Iran. If left unchecked, these other factions could use the battle for Mosul to further their own agendas.

Shia militias have been accused of reprisal killings, torture, and kidnappings when they have assisted in liberating other areas from ISIS. And Kurdish forces have been known to displace Sunni Arabs from their homes as they take control of areas they help liberate from ISIS. Turkey is also participating in Mosul operations.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
ISIS fighters in Iraq | Photo via Flickr

“The military challenges of removing an entrenched foe in an urban warfare environment, while simultaneously protecting as many as one million civilians caught in the cross fire would be daunting in the best of circumstances,” said The Soufan Group intelligence briefing. “But lacking unified combatants and commands, Iraqi military considerations must always include every level of sectarian and ethnic concerns that could turn a military victory into a strategic defeat.”

In short, even if Iraqi forces manage to win the battle against ISIS in Mosul, they’re in danger of losing the war if there isn’t a solid plan in place to govern effectively and inclusively after ISIS leaves.

“Given the sheer size of Mosul — and its experience of savage rule at the hands of the Islamic State—revenge killing will likely be an issue in the days and months ahead,” said The Soufan Group intelligence briefing.

“The level of atrocities and outrages perpetrated against minority communities such as the Yazidi and Christians, as well as to the population at large, rank among the worst war crimes in recent history. A massive effort will be required to begin to heal what is a truly fractured city and society.”

A local Mosul historian who blogs about life in the city under the pseudonym Mosul Eye explained the stakes of the ongoing battle in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday.

“The people of Mosul cannot trust what will happen during and after the liberation, and our concerns grow bigger every day,” the historian wrote. “The upcoming dangers are no less than ISIL. There are many factions who are trying to divide and to tear down our city, and turning it into parts where each part would be given to an ethnicity group, separating it from the rest.”

He continued: “History tells [us] that Mosul has always built its civilization upon an ethnically and religiously diversified population. It is impossible to imagine Mosul without its rich and diversified heritage, culture, history, and ethnicity.”

Mosul Eye recommended that the city be placed under international trusteeship with joint supervision from the Iraqi government and the US.

“We, the civilized people of Mosul, don’t want to hand our city over, after liberation, to the tribes or to the Kurds, or the Popular Mobilization Units, or any other faction that is out of the Iraqi government,” he wrote on Twitter. “We also believe that the Iraqi government alone is not capable of managing Mosul after liberation.”

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Pearl Jam’s guitarist Stone Gossard pays tribute to military members in new single

When the global COVID-19 pandemic prevented Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard from touring with the band in 2020, Gossard didn’t just sit at home and wait for the virus to pass him by. Like any musical great, he began to explore new sounds with new collaborators.

The result of that exploration is his side project, Painted Shield. The electronic rock collab includes singer-songwriter Mason Jennings, drummer Matt Chamberlain and keyboardist Brittany Davis.

Painted Shield is releasing its first new single since November 2020 with a new song, “4th of July” — a tribute to those who served in the armed forces of the United States and what it takes to come home.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

“The lyrics to this song were inspired by the stories of friends of mine who have served in the military,” the band told WATM. “It touches on the recovery work needed to integrate back into civilian life after being in conflict.”

Painted Shield’s 2020 self-titled debut album was an entirely new collaboration for Gossard and the band, an electronic departure from Pearl Jam’s distinctive sound. The mix resonated with fans of Pearl Jam and electronic music, as the debut saw 1.5 million streams and a complete sellout of its initial LP pressing. 

The band’s latest comes not only on Independence Day, but at a time when much of the U.S. military is looking back at 20 years of war in Afghanistan. As the war winds down, the single comes at a time when the United States is taking a critical look at the effect of the Global War on Terrorism.

“4th of July” is about these struggles and more.

“The music reflects that inner and outer struggle, the acoustic guitar and melancholic folk melody mirror the simplicity of the child world while the electric guitar, organ and drums slash, defend, and erupt and mirror the complexity of the adult world,” the band said. “There is a tension represented that I hope encapsulates and reflects the human struggle, the struggle for peace and love in the face of violence and fear.”

“4th of July” is especially relevant in that it’s also about why people join the military in the first place — where they come from and how that affects their world view.

Painted Shield’s new single, available now, is another kind of departure from Gossard’s previous work, even with Painted Shield’s previous album. 

It’s unlike anything the band has done in the past, but it feels familiar; a recognizable mix of Gossard’s 90’s grunge roots with the war protest songs of the Vietnam era with hints of Giorgio Moroder. It all comes together into a song that is at once edgy and nostalgic. 

“4th of July” is a fitting tribute to the men and women who served in the Armed Forces, looking back on how their service started and has evolved through decades of war and conflict, at home and abroad. 

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Patton once sent 300 men to rescue his son-in-law from a Nazi prison

In March 1945, Capt. Abraham Baum, a 23-year-old Army officer fighting in Europe, was summoned to the tent of Gen. George S. Patton for a special assignment.


“What the hell am I doing here?” Baum remembered thinking to himself.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Abraham Baum, thinking the same things many have thought during their service.

Ostensibly, Patton was worried that once Americans invaded greater Germany from the West, the fleeing Nazis would massacre Allied POWs in prison camps. It just so happened that one of those prisoners was Lt. Col. John K. Waters, the general’s son-in-law. With Patton’s army just 60 miles from the camp, the threat must have weighed heavily on his mind.

Waters was captured by the Nazis near Sidi Bou Zid, Tunisia in 1943. He would remain in Nazi hands for much of the duration of World War II, until his legendary father-in-law’s Third Army entered Germany – but he would not be rescued by Baum’s task force.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Gen. John Waters in 1966

Baum’s orders were to take 300 men 50 miles behind enemy lines to liberate the prison camp near Hammelburg. No one knew the exact location of the camp or how many prisoners were held there.

But the rescue mission turned into a disaster.

The sight of 303 men, 16 tanks, 28 half-tracks, and 13 other vehicles rumbling through western Germany probably came as quite a shock to the locals. Historian John Toland, in an interview with Baum for World War II Magazine, said the hysteria caused by the Task Force caused the Wehrmacht to “throw a huge number of troops at a pint-sized threat.”

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Map by Gene Thorp)

Task Force Baum met more and more resistance as it drove deeper into Germany. When the column reached Hammelburg, they were ambushed and lost the initiative. By the time Baum reached the gates of the camp, the defenders were ready, despite being outnumbered.

For two hours, the camp commander tried to hold off Baum’s forces. When he finally issued the surrender order, Waters was shot in the stomach by a German soldier who didn’t get the memo. Worse still, Baum was slowly being surrounded as the Germans moved in on his force.

As the column moved back toward allied lines, it was attacked and harried in force by elements of the Wehrmacht they defeated on the way in. Baum’s men fought alongside liberated POWs and on damaged vehicles as they struggled to fight their way out of German territory. Baum himself was injured (shot in the groin), captured, and hospitalized.

Task Force Baum was almost completely annihilated. According to historian Charles Whiting, only 20 of Baum’s original men made it back to the Allied lines and 100 were captured by the Germans. 130 are completely missing in action.

In the end, Baum did catch up with Waters. Abe Baum’s POW hospital bed was just a few down the row from Waters’. They both remained there until the 14th Armored Division captured Hammelburg. Waters would stay in the Army, eventually becoming a four-star general.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
The 14th Armored, crashing through the gates of the POW camp near Hammelburg.

Patton, heavily criticized by his superiors for the risky move, was unwavering. He denied knowing that Waters was at the camp and maintained that he was worried the POWs would be executed. Patton awarded Baum the Distinguished Service Cross, which the General pinned on Baum personally. Patton would be dead within a year.

Baum and Waters became close friends, even though Baum’s Army days were numbered. Baum advised the Israelis during their 1948 War of Independence but ultimately returned to his family’s business. He died in 2013, buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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The famed Gurkha warriors have taken Everest

For the first time in history, currently serving Gurkha soldiers have summitted the tallest peak in the world, Mount Everest.


The team reached the summit on May 16 and received congratulations from the British Army on their achievement.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
The Gurkha climbing team poses during the 2015 attempt that was eventually abandoned after a massive earthquake struck the Gurkhas’ homeland and destroyed the Everest base camp. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence)

The Gurkhas had previously attempted the climb the mountain in 2015 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Gurkha Brigade, but the climb was abandoned when a massive earthquake struck the area around the mountain, triggering an avalanche that destroyed the base camp.

The 2015 team abandoned the climb and rushed to aid those affected by the quake. Gurkhas are recruited out of a small region of Nepal that sits in the same mountain range as Everest, and many of the team members had immediate family affected by the quake.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Gurkha soldiers celebrate their successful climb of Mount Everest after they reached the summit on May 15,2017. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence)

They returned in 2017 thanks to a decision by the Nepal Ministry of Tourism to honor all 2015 Everest permits for an additional two years.

The climb is a grueling challenge under even the best of conditions. The base camp sits over three miles above sea level and each camp above that is more than half a mile above the previous camp.

The summit sits 5.5 miles above sea level, where the air is so thin that most climbers rely on bottled oxygen for much of the climb.

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The A-10 is getting a new mission in Europe: Countering Russia

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Photo: US Air force Chief Master Sgt. David L. Stuppy


PARIS — U.S. allies are happy to have the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft back in Europe to counter a resurgent Russia, airmen here at the Paris Air Show said.

The Defense Department brought the Cold War-era tank busters stateside in 2013 as part of a consolidation of bases and equipment in Europe. But it sent them back to the continent as part of a theater security package earlier this year — including countries in the former Soviet bloc — in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for pro-Russian separatists.

The planes have been a welcome sight during training exercises involving NATO forces in the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia and Romania, among other countries, according to crew members.

“It’s pretty amazing because that’s what this jet was designed for — Russian tanks — so it’s pretty wild that we’re helping them out for the original cause,” Air Force Staff Sgt. Marcus Nugent, a crew member who works on the aircraft’s avionics systems, said on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show, held at the historic Le Bourget airfield outside the city.

“They’re small countries, they’re small forces, so seeing us out there with them,” he added. “They love it just as much as we love it — maybe a little more — so it’s pretty awesome. The way Russia’s been acting — it keeps people at ease on both sides.”

Tech. Sgt. Teddy McCollough, an A-10 weapons maintainer with the 355th Air Force Maintenance Squadron, agreed. “They absolutely love our presence there,” he said. “You can feel how gracious they are for us being there.”

About 300 airmen and 12 A-10s with the 355th Fighter Wing in February departedDavis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany as part of a security theater package. The Air Force also deployed 12 F-15Es in March in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The units have traveled across Europe taking part in a wide range of exercises and working with NATO partners. U.S Air Forces in Europe Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc said Monday at the Paris Air Show that the additional airmen and aircraft have helped reassure our NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression.

NATO EXPERIENCE

A-10 pilots Capts. Joseph Morrin and Paul Wruck with the 354th Fighter Squadron said they have benefited from the time training with joint terminal air controllers from across NATO on calling in airstrikes.

“We get to do close air support training with our allies and get to see how they do business and show them how we do business, and all of us together as an overall CAS team get better,” Morrin said.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James this week at the show said the U.S. may also deploy a squadron of F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Europe in response to Russia’s actions.

“I would say the biggest threat on my mind is what’s happening with Russia and the activities of Russia, and indeed that’s a big part of why I’m here in Europe and having those discussions,” she said. “It’s extremely worrisome on what’s going on in the Ukraine. We’ve seen the type of warfare, which someone dubbed it hybrid warfare, which is somewhat new. So I would put that at the top of my list.”

The A-10 is known as the pre-eminent close air support aircraft in the U.S. fleet with its low, slow-flying gunship’s snub-nose packed with a seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun that fires 30mm rounds designed to shred the armor on tanks, combat vehicles and other targets.

As a weapons maintainer, McCollough is responsible for maintaining all weapons on the aircraft, including the gun, air-to-air AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and air-to-ground AGM-65 Maverick missiles.

“I love this aircraft,” he said. “I love the gun system. It’s reliable. It has few hiccups. When it does, it’s usually minor. It holds a lot of rounds, 1,150 rounds — that’s a lot. It’s a beast.” He added, “When they go and fly day-to-day missions, they usually do shoot, do some target practice. I just make sure it’s clean, lubed up and ready to go.”

A-10 RETIREMENT

The Air Force has proposed retiring its fleet of almost 300 Warthogs by 2019 to save an estimated $4.2 billion a year and free up maintainers for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a stealthy multi-role fighter jet and the Pentagon’s most expensive acquisition program.

Congress rejected the service’s request to begin the process of divesting the A-10 this year and approved $337 million in funding to keep them in the inventory. While lawmakers did allow the Air Force to move up to three dozen of the planes to back-up status, they blocked the service from sending any to the bone yard in Arizona.

Morrin said his unit tries not to get caught up in the debate and the politics surrounding the issue.

“We let them do the debating and we keep flying,” he said.

Morrin explained that the A-10 pilot community is still not sure what the potential retirement of the A-10 would mean for their careers. A-10 pilots have not been told what aircraft they would fly next, but there is hope that many would fly the F-35, Morrin said.

“We might have to go back to flight training for a while. We just really don’t know,” Morrin said. “They haven’t told us because it’s not official yet. It’s sort of the expectation though that since the F-35 is the future that we’d go there and then take our CAS knowledge to the table and make sure that community is well versed in it.”

BONE YARD

As the Air Force pushes to retire its fleet of A-10 attack aircraft, Boeing Co. doesn’t want the planes to waste away in the Arizona bone yard — it wants to sell them abroad.

The company has begun discussions with the service about potentially selling the Cold War-era gunship to U.S. allies, according to Chris Raymond, a vice president at the company.

“We need to see what they want to do first, and then we’d certainly want to try to help market some of those around the world, if they choose to want to do that,” he said.

More from Military.com

This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

NOW: The most important guy in military aviation history you’ve never heard of

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Here’s why a US attack on North Korea could be catastrophic

As North Korea draws ever closer to possessing a nuclear weapon that could hit the US mainland, President Donald Trump and his top military advisers must weigh whether or not they’d launch a preemptive strike on North Korea and risk potentially millions of lives in the process.


But even though a US military strike on North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale,” according to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, that doesn’t mean it’s off the table.

At a National Committee on US-China Relations event in New York City, Samuel J. Locklear, the former head of the US military’s Pacific Command made it clear: “Just because it’s tragic doesn’t mean he won’t do it.”

“If the national interests are high enough, and I think this is the mistake that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un needs really to think about, if you start pressing on an issue that has to do with the survival of the United States against a nuclear attack, the tragic becomes conceivable to stop it,” said Locklear. “It could be tragic.”

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, another former commander of Pacific Command, echoed Locklear’s statement.

Related: This is where North Korea would strike if it had a nuclear missile

“There are a wide range of options” that are “readily available to the president and the secretary of defense resident in the planning warrens at Pacific command,” Keating said at the event.

The discussion between two former top military commanders shows what a difficult situation the US is in with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang may wield up to 15 or so nuclear weapons, and they repeatedly threaten to use them against US forces, South Koreans, and Japanese.

Though the US has in place the world’s most advanced missile defenses, there are no guarantees when it comes to stopping ballistic missiles. Even a single nuclear warhead touching down near Seoul could kill millions of innocent South Koreans in an instant.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

Additionally, South Korea’s new, progressive government would likely not approve of a military strike.

But the US has its own citizens to worry about. Experts contacted by Business Insider have spoken with near unanimity saying North Korea wants a thermonuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile to hold the US at risk.

What exactly the US military planners discuss behind closed doors rightly remains classified, but if they calculate that a relatively small tragedy today could avert a massive tragedy tomorrow, then the US may see war with North Korea at some point.

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33 insane photos from the battle for Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa, known as Operation Iceberg by the Allies, eventually consisted of 306,000 service members assaulting fierce defenses manned by 130,000 Japanese troops and an unknown number of local civilians, including children, drafted into the defenses.


The island was critical for the planned invasion of Japan, but the losses were enormous.

Here are 33 photos that give a look inside of one of America’s most costly battles of World War II:

1. For days before the invasion, Navy ships bombarded the island with naval artillery and rockets. This photo was taken five days before the amphibious assault.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

2. A Navy Corsair fires a salvo of rockets during Operation Iceberg, the Allied effort to capture Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

3. The USS Idaho shells the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

4. Marines land on the beachhead already secured on the island. These infantrymen will continue pressing the attack against approximately 130,000 defenders.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

5. U.S. landing ships sit beached and burning on May 4 near the mouth of the Bishi River after a Japanese air attack.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

6. Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle speaks with U.S. Marines a short time before his death on the island.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

7. A long exposure photograph shows the crisscrossing lines of Marine anti-aircraft fire over the U.S. airfield established on Okinawa.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

8. A May 11, 1945, morning artillery barrage kicks off an all-out offensive.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

9. Japanese rockets rain down on and near U.S. positions during heavy fighting on Okinawa.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

10. The infamous battleship Yamato, sent to Okinawa to attempt to beach itself and act as a shore battery until destroyed, is sank at sea on April 7 before it can reach the island.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

11. Army Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., at right, surveys fighting just a few hours before Japanese artillery killed him.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

12. A Sherman tank drives past a burning home. The structure was set on fire to prevent its use by snipers.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

13. Marines attempt to extinguish the flames on an overturned Sherman tank. The ammo later exploded before the Army crew could be rescued.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

14. Engineers construct a causeway from the island to the sea to allow supplies to be trucked from ships to shore.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

15. American service members move supplies by horse in areas where the mud was impassable for vehicles.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

16. Okinawan civilians hired to carry supplies line up to receive their loads.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

17. A flamethrowing tank attacks Hill 60 during the Marine assault on the mound.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

18. A Japanese plane goes down in flames over the ocean.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

19. The HMS Formidable of the Royal Navy burns after a May 4 Kamikaze attack. Eight crew members were lost and 55 injured, but the Formidable survived the war.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: Royal Navy)

20. Marine Corps infantrymen ride a tank to the town of Ghuta on April 1 to occupy it before Japanese defenders can.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

21. A Marine sprints across the “Valley of Death,” a draw covered by Japanese machine guns that caused 125 casualties in eight hours.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

22. Marines explode dynamite charges to destroy a Japanese cave on the island.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

23. The USS Bunker Hill burns after two Kamikaze strikes in less than a minute. At least 346 sailors were killed and 43 went missing.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

24. The Bunker Hill survived and returned to the U.S. for repairs. It served as a troop transport after the war before it was sent to the fleet reserve.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

25. Wounded sailors are moved from the Bunker Hill to the USS Wilkes Barre.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

26. Army soldiers move forward during the 82-day battle.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

27. A private cuts a sergeant’s hair in the Japanese city of Shuri on the island. A medieval castle in the city survived the battle.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

28. Marines rest on the side of a hill as Japanese fire prevents their further advance.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

29. A tank crewmember is relocated after suffering injuries.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

30. Wounded troops await transport to a ship hospital.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

31. Marine Lt. Col. R.P. Ross, Jr. places an American flag on Shuri castle on May 29, 1945. Ross was under sniper fire at the time.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
(Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

32. The American flag is raised over the island June 22 in a ceremony marking the end of organized Japanese resistance.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

33. A U.S. servicemember visits an American cemetery. The U.S. suffered over 12,000 killed and 50,000 wounded during the battle. Japan suffered over 150,000 soldiers and civilians killed or committed suicide.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago

Articles

This ‘Magic Carpet’ will help Navy pilots land on carriers

Landing on an aircraft carrier is one of the most difficult tasks any aviator can face. A 1991 Los Angeles Times article quoted one Desert Storm veteran as saying that the stress really came “when I got back to the ship and started landing on the carrier in the dark,” rather than when he was being shot at by Iraqi SAMs.


How can that stress be eased? This is an eternal question – mostly because there are lots of variables. One carrier landing could be in daylight with clear skies and a calm sea. The next could be in the middle of a thunderstorm in pitch black darkness. A pilot has to keep all of that in mind, not to mention the fact that the carrier itself is moving.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

Boeing, though, has been working on some new software for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and the EA-18G Growlers to make this most difficult and stressful of tasks a little less so. It’s called the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. The acronym appropriately spells “MAGIC CARPET.”

This system handles calculating the many variables pilots making a carrier landing have to deal with, allowing the pilot to make simpler adjustments as the plane heads in for a landing.

Boeing put out a video about MAGIC CARPET. Take a look at the future of carrier landings!

Articles

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

The war in Syria is now five years old. In that time, there have been so many factions vying for power and battlefield superiority, some under-equipped group was bound to have to get creative with their weapons tech. Enter the Hell Cannon.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JEQnHw6HMI

First rigged up in the rural areas near Idlib, the Hell Cannon is an improvised, muzzle-loaded cannon, built by the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, then a member force of the Free Syrian Army. The homegrown howitzer caught on and was soon produced in and around Aleppo. The cannon’s popularity is responsible for a grassroots weapons industry in the area.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdGDIegH1S8

The weapon is essentially a barrel mounted to wheels and towed to where it needs to go. It’s entirely muzzle-loaded like an old timey powder smoothbore cannon. The powder is an explosive, usually ammonium nitrate (the explosive used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1996 Oklahoma City Bombing), which is ramrodded with a wooden stick. The round is a gas cylinder (commonly used in the region for cooking stoves) filled with explosives and shrapnel, and welded to a pipe with some stabilizing fins.The cylinder forms a tight seal in the cannon.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
Improvised Hell Cannon rounds made of cooking gas canisters and mortar ammo seized by Syrian government forces (SAA) in Latakia (Twitter Photo)

Each round weighs roughly 88 pounds and will fly 1.5 kilometers (just under a mile). Some variants of the weapon will have multiple barrels, from two to seven. Others are welded to vehicles like cars and bulldozers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnXZ8LtbvEE

Newer developments in the weapon feature a 100mm shell used by Russian T-55 tanks attached to the tubes instead of the improvised gas tank. Others use real mortar rounds or compressed air cannons. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls the cannons “wildly inaccurate,” because it causes a lot of collateral damage and civilian casualties.

Articles

The US may restart production of the world’s most lethal combat plane

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh made comments at an Air Force Association event on Thursday that were uncharacteristically bullish on the prospect of restarting the F-22 program.


Lockheed Martin shuttered the F-22 program almost five years ago. Since then, the top Air Force brass has been focused on the troubled F-35 program as well as looking decades forward to the Next Generation Air Dominance program.

In April, however, Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio said in Congress: “In light of growing threats from a resurgent Russia and an aggressive China, further exploration into restarting the F-22 line is deserved.”

Welsh’s comments on Thursday represented a shift in the Air Force’s official attitude toward reviving the F-22; it had previously said doing so would not be cost effective.

“I don’t think it’s a wild idea,”Welsh said, as Defensenews.com notes. “I mean the success of the F-22 and the capability of the airplane and the crews that fly it are pretty exceptional. I think it’s proven that the airplane is exactly what everybody hoped it would be.”

“We’re using it in new and different ways and it’s been spectacularly successful and its potential is really, really remarkable,” Welsh continued. “And so going back and looking and certainly raising the idea well, could you build more? It’s not a crazy idea.”

The Air Force could not only reboot the F-22, but improve on it as well. The jet’s thrust vectoring could stand to be revisited, which would give the plane an edge in engagements that occur within visual range, as The Aviationist’s Dario Leone notes.

Britain’s ‘finest hour’ started 75 years ago
John Dibbs / Code One

Also, a helmet-mounted display, similar to the kind found in the F-35, could increase the fighter’s abilities.

As Jamie Hunter, editor of Combat Aircraft Monthly, wrote in 2015: “How about a risk-reduced approach for NGAD? Take the almost perfect Raptor and put it back into production, albeit this time with the tweaks that make it truly the best fighter ever it can be. That approach may just help mitigate against the early cost overruns and delays and provide capability faster and when it’s needed.”

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