Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen - We Are The Mighty
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Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen

Colonel Charles Bussey courageously flew P-51 Mustangs as a fighter pilot in World War II.  His training came with the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the all black Army Air Corps unit. Bussey also went on to serve as a decorated Commander of Army engineers during the Korean War. Charles Bussey was a war hero, but his first struggle wasn’t in a combat zone overseas. His first battle was at home in what you might call the fight for the right to fight.  This is his dramatic story, in his own words.

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First Helicopter Combat Rescue Mission

Welcome to the first episode of Season Two of Warriors In Their Own Words. This episode is about the first Combat Helicopters. Today these aircraft carry the firepower of an artillery battery and can strike targets deep behind every lines, flying day or night in any weather. But back in 1944 helicopters were a brand new technology.  Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky supplied the first primitive choppers to the US Army and four pilots were trained to fly the untested aircraft in the jungles of Burma.  Carter Harman was one of those first courageous pilots and he performed the world’s first helicopter combat rescue mission. 

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Vietnam Forward Observers

During the Vietnam War, all too often the chaos of battle found Allied forces trapped and facing annihilation in hostile territory. The situation called for courageous men to rise above their fears and carry out some of the deadliest missions in the history of warfare. Forward Observers, often alone, moved ahead of the Allied forces to secure vital vantage points. They served as the eyes of the artillery gunner in delivering rounds on enemy targets. In this episode, Medal of Honor recipients Barney Barnum and Brian Thacker tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.

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Bob Hoover Legendary Pilot – Part 2

Bob Hoover learned to fly as a teenager in Tennessee, flew over 50 combat missions in World War Two and went on to become a legendary test pilot.  Hoover was Chuck Yeager’s backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program and flew the chase plane when Yeager first broke the sound barrier. In 1950 he joined North American Aviation as an experimental test pilot, an association that would last 36 years.  This Episode is Part 2 of the remarkable story of Bob Hoover, one of the history’s greatest pilots.

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The 5 biggest stories in the military world right now (June 29)

Good morning! Here’s what’s happening around the national security space:


NOW CHECK OUT: 5 mind-blowing facts about the US Military

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The best World War II anime series

This may not be the most popular genre of Japanese animation, but all of these shows are worth checking out if you’re looking for something new to watch.


This poll includes video clips of each show, so if you haven’t seen one, you can watch it right here on this page. Take a trip back to when the world was at war, and get a new perspective on what happened from a different point of view. The shows that are listed may have different sub-genres, but they’re all about World War II in one way or another. List features Zipang, First Squad – The Moment Of Truth and more anime. What is the greatest World War II anime of all time? Scroll down and find out for yourself!

The Best World War II Anime Series

More from Ranker

This article originally appeared at Ranker. Copyright 2015. Like Ranker on Facebook.

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Hack’n’Slash Friday: Who says tomahawks aren’t ‘tactical?’

If you were lucky enough to make it out to Agency Arms’ full auto shindig during SHOT Show 2017, you might’ve seen assorted burly dudes and barrel chested former freedom fighters hurling axes at a target. Why? Because lots of barrel chested freedom fighters still use tomahawks.


Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen
…and you don’t want to see what the Patriot does to the next Redcoat. (GIF: YouTube/Capta1n Krunch)

“But wait, Swingin’ Dick!” we hear you say. “Tomahawks haven’t been used since the days of Rogers’ Rangers and that American Revolution movie with an Australian in it! Isn’t this counterintuitive?”

To which we reply, “False. They’re using tomahawks right now in Africa, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Soldier Enhancement Program has been studying it, the combat development team at the US Army Infantry School has discussed its use — hell a platoon of the 101st were issued ‘hawks at Ft. Campbell just to see if the Joes would use it. And don’t forget all the SOF guys who use Winkler or RMJ ‘hawks — oh, and nice use of the word counterintuitive too.”

Grunts: counterintuitive.

Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen
Nice ‘hawk Joe!

But, we digress. The specific axe we’re talking about was a custom MCUT, Modular Combat Utility Tool, from Jake Hoback Knives (@jakehobackknives). There were just a few of this particular version made. We’re gonna tell you all about it.

You’re welcome, nasties.

Hoback Modular Combat Utility Tool – MCUT

Hack’n’Slash Friday I: Hatchets and smatchets for rescue and hewin’

The Modular Combat Utility Tool looks very similar to the Hoback Knives logo. That’s hardly an accident.

Jake drew that logo a little over a decade ago (’03?) and has been asked may times over the years to build the axe that logo represents. Well, he finally got around to it…sorta.

We’d show you video and pictures of our own but were never able to get close enough to Jake at SHOT to club him unconscious (or roofie him). You’ll have to settle for these.

Hoback says the MCUT had its genesis in a desire to bring his logo to life in steel, but to do something different from what is an already crowded combat/tactical/taticool tomahawk market. He wanted it to be more than an axe, more than a breaching tool, but not one of those it’s-a-great-concept-but-poor-execution tools that’re often less than truly functional.

He wanted it to be a “Jack of All Trades” type implement, but not a jackin’ off exercise in tactarded futility.

With that in mind he designed the Modular Combat Utility Tool, which is a bit of a mouthful but does look to live up to its name. Here’s a quick rundown.

The base is Type III hard-anodized, 6061T6 aluminum handle, assembled from a total of 7 pieces.

  • Haft
  • Modular head
  • Cover plate
  • Two (2) x ¼-20 stainless black button head cap screws
  • Two (2) x 3/16th hardened stainless dowel pins (three of them)

The top of the haft is built with a machine-tooled pocket that holds the dowels, screws, and cover plate. This is the feature that allows you to switch the MCUT between different configurations dependent on mission and needs.

The first run of custom MCUTs will bear the signature Hoback axes head. Later they will offer heads designed for different tasks (breaching, digging, throwing, an evening of relaxing Úlfheðinn berserkergang, etc.).

Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen

Hoback promises new videos on his YouTube channel each time he completes one of the new heads.

HOBACK KNIVES MCUT SPECIFICATIONS

  • Modular Head – .1875 Thick 80CrV2 for the Axe Head
  • Haft – .75 Thick, 6061T6 Aluminum, Type III Hard-Anodized, Fully 3D-Machined for Texture
  • Overall Length: 10 in.
  • Main Blade Length: 5 in.
  • Secondary Blade Length – 2.25 in.
  • Haft color – Dark Grey Anodized
  • Head color – TBD
  • Kydex Sheath

You can find the MCUT online right here.

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Pacific War Diary

During World War II, the United States Marines played a central role in the battle for the islands of the Pacific. Marine Corps veteran Bill Swanson was often in the first wave to hit the beach in many of these brutal campaigns. In this episode, he paints a vivid picture of what it was like to fight in the “living hell” of these steaming jungles and swamps.  He shares his experiences on Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima, battling a hidden and determined enemy.

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Here is why business is booming for private military companies

The services of private security companies have expanded so much over the last 20 years that they are now referred to as private military companies (PMCs) in some circles. PMCs have assumed all the different roles of war, from backend logistics, to training, to consulting, to battlefield operations, and more. The private military industry was a $218 billion industry in 2014 and business is growing, according to the Vice video below.


Related: 20 private security contractors that hire vets with the skills

There are many reasons why hiring a PMC is more attractive than maintaining a military, and companies like ACADEMI (formerly Blackwater), Aegis, and others are redefining what war might look like in the future.

This VICE video explores the origins of the PMC industry and how the war on terror has fueled its growth.

Watch:

VICE, YouTube

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D-Day The First Hours

Hours before the Allied Forces hit the beaches of Normandy, courageous British and American soldiers entered France with parachutes and gliders to secure key bridges and enemy artillery positions.  Their dangerous missions led the way for the D-Day invasion and ultimate victory in Europe.  Wally Parr, Terance Otway and Bill True recount their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.

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Here’s the amazing story of the famed “Flying Tigers”

Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen
R.G. Smith painting of the Flying Tigers’ P-40s in formation over China.


Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek knew he had a problem. The Chinese air force was in terrible shape, beset with a lack of trained pilots and aircraft, and the war brewing with the highly professional military of Imperial Japan in 1937 made reforms a priority. His decision to bring in American experts to help led to the formation of one of the famed air groups of the war, the Flying Tigers.

Captain Claire Chennault had resigned from the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1937 over dissatisfaction with his promotion prospects. A former tactical instructor, he took an offer to help train and survey the Chinese Air Force. When the second Sino-Japanese war broke out later that year, Japanese air superiority let them bomb China with virtual impunity. The massive destruction and loss of life would presage the terrible destruction wreaked on Japan by American bombing years later, with biological weapons taking the place of nuclear ones.

Faced with the utter collapse of an already Chinese inferior air force, Chennault was sent back to the United States with a Chinese delegation in 1941 to arrange for as many planes and as much logistical support as possible. Chennault had conceived of raising a small, elite air force of American personnel to fight the Japanese directly. President Franklin Roosevelt and key members of his administration were sympathetic to the Chinese cause.

As Chennault saw it, war between the United States and Japan was all but inevitable, and unlike many of his former colleagues, believed that China could serve as a base for later offensive operations against the Japanese home islands. Many senior military leaders totally opposed the idea, seeing it as draining experienced and vital personnel during a time of large scale armed buildup.

In the end it took direct presidential intervention to make the idea a reality. Roosevelt authorized Chennault to recruit U.S. pilots and support personnel to work directly for the Chinese government. An executive order was issued allowing members of the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy to resign in order to join the group. The new organization was designated the American Volunteer group.

Despite the small size of the proposed group, consisting of a few squadrons averaging a total of 60 aircraft, getting the planes needed proved difficult. In the end, they had to settle on P40B fighters that had no modern gunsights or bomb racks, necessitating the fabrication of crude substitutes. This made their later successes all the more astonishing.

Fighter Pilot of the Tuskegee Airmen
The Flying Tigers personnel pose around one of their airplanes. (Photo: U.S. Army Air Corps)

The AVG essentially operated as legal mercenaries, in the tradition of privateers operating under Letters of Marque. Recruits would operate under one year contracts and the pay, ranging from $250 to $750 a month depending on the position, was excellent for the time. It included extensive allowances and paid leave, while pilots received an unofficial bonus of $500 for each confirmed kill of a Japanese plane. This served as an excellent motivation for aggressive flying.

The lack of available infrastructure was a serious problem. Chennault arranged for the formation of a large air spotting network across much of China using radios, telephones, and telegraphs, since they had no access to radar. An extensive network of airfields was built using mass Chinese civilian labor. “All over Free China these human ant heaps rose to turn mud, rocks, lime and sweat to build 5000 ft. runways,” Chennault later said.

Chennault instituted an extensive training program for his new recruits, based off everything he had learned about Japanese tactics and aircraft over the last four years of fighting. This included Japanese flight manuals captured by the Chinese and studies of crashed Japanese aircraft. This first hand knowledge would prove to be invaluable

The AVG was first deployed on Dec. 12, 1941. It was split between the vital port city of Rangoon Burma, and the southern Chinese city of Kunming. They faced overwhelming Japanese numbers, but their preparation and experience paid off. In one lopsided example, a large Japanese air raid on Rangoon on Christmas Day led to the AVG downing 29 enemy planes with no losses. After the fall of Burma to a Japanese invasion, the AVG retreated to southern China, where they would continue to score remarkable numbers of kills. In 7 months of ferocious fighting stretching to July of 1942, the small force of often less than 40 pilots shot down nearly 300 enemy aircraft, destroyed dozens more on the ground, and took out hundreds of enemy bridges, trucks, and riverboats. This kill ratio was seldom equaled in the war, and the Chinese air minister T.V. Soong later called the AVG “the soundest investment the Chinese ever made.”

In the face of a string of defeats from the Japanese, the U.S. public and media went wild over the AVG’s exploits. The media dubbed them the Flying Tigers, even though the unit itself did not use the name and actually painted shark mouths on the noses of their planes. Winston Churchill himself stated that the Tigers achievements equaled what the Royal Air Force did in the Battle of Britain against Germany. Even a wartime movie starring John Wayne was made to celebrate their achievements. Eventually the AVG was merged back with the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942, but they had achieved a romantic image of volunteers defending China and Burma against impossible odds.

American volunteer pilots fighting before war was actually declared stretched back to World War I and the Lafayette squadron, but the Tigers amazing performance in combat despite small numbers and extreme logistical difficulties made them a breed apart. They straddled the line between military and mercenary, something like the modern military contractors of today’s wars. Unlike the often unsavory reputation such quasi-mercenaries have today, they became national heroes and showed that such hybrid organizations could fight as well or better than their more formal military counterparts.

 

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1st Air Cavalry Helicopter Pilot

The 1st Air Cavalry Division was the most lethal assault force assembled in Vietnam.  The pilots were the first to fully harness the power of helicopters and their soldier’s combat record was second to none.  Steven E Warren served a year in the infantry in Vietnam, but then returned home to train to fly helicopters at Fort Rucker.  Soon he returned to the conflict, as a Huey helicopter pilot in the 1st Air Cavalry.  We spoke with him about his combat experiences, helping to perfect this new kind of warfare.