Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up - We Are The Mighty
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Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

On Dec. 8, 2018, cadets from the Military Academy will take to the field to defend its current winning streak against the Naval Academy midshipmen in the 119th annual Army-Navy football game.

“America’s game” is no typical rivalry. Cadets and midshipmen, including the players on the field, endure rigorous challenges that extend far beyond the classroom.


Which of these prestigious institutions outperforms the other is an enduring debate. To settle the question, we compared the academies in terms of academics, the “plebe” experience, location, career options and football statistics — read through to find out which of these rivals has the edge.

Full disclosure: The author of this post graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2010. This comparison is based on totally objective analysis, but you can weigh in with your perspective at the links on her author bio.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

The US Naval Academy’s sprawling campus, known to midshipmen as ‘the yard,’ is located in Annapolis, Maryland.

(US Naval Academy Flickr photo)

LOCATION: The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland is nestled in an idyllic location on the Chesapeake Bay.

Annapolis, the “sailing capital of the world,” is just outside the Naval Academy gates. Midshipmen are part of life in the picturesque town.

The correct term for students at the Naval Academy is “midshipmen,” not cadets like their counterparts at West Point.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

The US Military Academy in West Point, New York.

(US Military Academy Flickr photo)

Army’s West Point is a bit more isolated, and located on the western bank of the Hudson River.

Cadets have to travel much farther to experience the joys of time-off in a city.

On the rare occasion they get to experience extracurricular activities, midshipmen have an abundance of options in closer proximity.

In terms of location, the Naval Academy takes the trophy.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Midshipmen toss their midshipmen covers at the end of their class graduation in May 2018.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kaitlin Rowell)

ACADEMICS: US News ranks the Naval Academy as the #2 Public School for an undergraduate degree.

The student-faculty ratio is 8:1 at Annapolis, and about 75% of classes there have fewer than 20 students, according to US News.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Cadets enter Michie Stadium for their graduation ceremony at West Point. 936 cadets walked across the stage in May 2017 to join the Long Gray Line, as West Point’s graduates are known.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

West Point is ranked at #1

At West Point, the student-faculty ratio is 7:1, and about 97% of classes have fewer than 20 students. West Point also offers 37 majors, compared to the 26 offered at the Naval Academy.

Based on self-reported data compiled by US News, West Point has an edge over Navy in academics.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A new cadet reports for ‘Reception Day’ in summer 2016. Cadets must endure a difficult 7-week training regimen before being accepted into the Corps of Cadets at the beginning of the academic year.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Vito Bryant)

MILITARY TRAINING: Academics are only part of the curriculum at these federally-funded academies. Students begin with tough summer training to kick off their military careers.

These training regimens are generally comparable to basic training for officers and enlisted, and provoke a lot of debate about whether they’re easier than what other officers must go through.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Plebes must endure difficult challenges during their first summer at the Naval Academy.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Danian Douglas)

At the Naval Academy, “plebe summer” involves rigorous physical activities, including PT in the surf.

At both academies, freshmen are referred to as “plebes” to indicate their lesser status. These students are also known as midshipmen fourth-class; first classes are seniors.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Cadets from the class of 2022 ‘ring the bell’ at the end of their March Back, marking the culmination of Cadet Basic Training.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

At the end of their first summer, cadets conduct a 12-mile ‘March Back’ to West Point from Camp Buckner before being formally accepted into the Corps of Cadets.

The initial summer training at both institutions are physically and mentally challenging. In terms of difficulty, the two stand on even ground.

But Naval Academy midshipmen have to endure one more week than their cadet brothers and sisters, so we have to give the edge to Navy’s plebe summer.

(When the last real plebe summer took place remains an open debate among graduates).

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

30 cadets ended up injured during the pillow fight in 2015.

(CBS / Screenshot from Youtube)

At West Point, plebes celebrate the end of their difficult summer with a giant pillow fight.

In 2015, cadets took the fight to the next level, and The New York Times reported 24 freshmen got concussions from the bloody brawl.

Navy doesn’t have a pillow fight, and it’s unclear whether that should count as a win or a loss.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Midshipmen run across the Naval Academy bridge during the Sea Trials event at the U.S. Naval Academy.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan L. Correa)

CULMINATION OF TRAINING: Midshipmen must endure a rigorous 14-hour set of physical and mental challenges known as “Sea Trials” at the end of their freshman year.

Cadets do not have a “Sea Trials” equivalent.

Overall, the Naval Academy’s plebes face more hurdles than plebes at West Point — the scales therefore tip towards Annapolis for a more challenging regimen that they can, and will, brag about.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Naval Academy plebes climb Herndon monument.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brianna Jones)

The plebes then climb a monument called Herndon, which their upperclassmen have greased with tubs of lard, to replace the iconic ‘plebe’ dixie hat with an upper class cover.

The tradition is also a competition among classes — bragging rights belong to the class that can replace the cover in the shortest period of time.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Plebes climbing Herndon.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brianna Jones)

The tradition has seen various iterations throughout Naval Academy history, but can sometimes get ugly — and even bloody.

The Herndon climb is considered the final rite of passage for ‘plebes’ at the Naval Academy.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the USS George H.W. Bush on November 2, 2018 during a routine training exercise. Every year roughly 1,000 Navy and Marine officers are commissioned from the Naval Academy to join units like these around the world.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Kaleb Sarten)

CAREERS: Upon graduation, newly commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers ‘join the fleet.’

Marines will be selected for either an air or ground option. Once they graduate from a common officer training course, the officers will go on to receive specialized training in their fields, which include infantry, artillery, intelligence, aviation, and several more.

Navy officers are commissioned for roles in surface, subsurface, aviation and special operations communities. A handful will be selected as Navy SEALs. A select few may be accepted into medical school.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A new cadet shoots an M203 grenade launcher for the first time at West Point on July 31, 2018 during cadet basic training.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

West Point commissions its cadets into one of over 17 branches of the Army when they graduate, sending them into careers ranging from artillery and infantry to intelligence and engineering.

While West Point has an impressive selection of career options, when considering both Navy and Marine Corps communities, Annapolis offers more options and therefore has an edge.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Stephenson)

ATHLETICS: On Dec. 8, 2018, the cadets and midshipmen will face off in the 119th Army-Navy football game.

In terms of their football team’s 2018 statistics, Army has the edge to beat Navy for the third year in a row.

West Point’s current record stands at 9-2, and holds a current 7-game winning streak this season.

Navy’s record is bleak: 3-9 this season overall.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A player from the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen football team is stopped inches from the goal line by a University of Virginia Cavaliers player at the 2017 Military Bowl.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges)

Overall, midshipmen have won the majority of Army-Navy games, in football and most other sports.

Historically, Navy is the better team. In football, and most other sports as well.

Navy holds 60 wins over Army, who has won only 51 games. (Seven games have ended in a tie).

Midshipmen also hold the longest streak — 14 wins between 2002 and 2015. The Army will have to defend its 2-year streak.

Though other sports are largely overlooked by the public, the Army-Navy rivalry extends well beyond the gridiron. The all-time Army-Navy competition record holds Navy as the better athletic program, with a 1071-812-43 win-loss-tie ratio.

Some of the teams that have boosted the Naval Academy’s record are listed below:

Navy Women’s swimming and diving crushes Army with a 34-4 W-L record.

Navy Men’s basketball has defeated Army 78 times, with only 50 losses against their rival.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A U.S. Naval Academy fan cheers on the sidelines at Lincoln Financial Field during the Army-Navy football game.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Brenton Poyser)

WINNER: Naval Academy

Overall, the Naval Academy takes the trophy as the better service academy.

Although Army’s current athletic season and academics are impressive, the Naval Academy’s prime location, rigorous training, career options and overall athletic program give it an edge over its rival.

Go Navy!

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

3 questions of unconventional warfare according to a top officer

Unconventional warfare is necessarily a messy business. It entails finding the enemies of our enemies and convincing them to fight our mutual foes, even if we’re not necessarily friends. It reduces America’s risk in blood, but it also means our national security rests on the shoulders of foreign fighters. In the confusing situations this creates, one top officer in the Afghanistan invasion had three simple questions to cut through the chaos.


Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

U.S. special operators pose with Hamid Karzai during the invasion of Afghanistan. Karzai would go on to be president of Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army)

During the invasion, then-Lt. Col. Mark Rosengard was in command of Task Force Dagger, and he had to greatly expand the unconventional warfare program in the country. So he couldn’t spend days or weeks of time and reams of paper figuring out whether he would trust one potential guerrilla leader or another.

So, according to reporter Sean Naylor in his book Not a Good Day to Die, Rosengard just asked three questions.

First, “Do we have a common goal today, recognizing tomorrow may be different?” Basically, do the militiamen or guerillas want the same outcome as the American forces? Including, do they want to see the same people die?

Next, “Do you have a secure backyard?” Simply, do the local forces have somewhere safe-ish to train? If the forces have to constantly quit training in order to fight off attacks, then they won’t be able to actually train. But if there’s any sort of safe compound in which to get to work, then it’s time to ask the third question.

“Are you willing to kill people?”

Yeah, that’s not a very complicated one.

Taken together, these three questions would let Rosengard know whether he could get to work with a new commander. Of course, there were additional concerns that he had to keep track of.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Afghan forces in a discussion with a senior weapons sergeant of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

(U.S. Army)

For instance, on the first question, you would need to keep track of whether the militias might really turn on you tomorrow. It’s a bad idea to spend too much time training foreign fighters who only have a few days or weeks of loyalty to America left.

But, overall, these three questions match up with American choices in other wars.

Gen. John “BlackJack” Pershing made alliances with Moro tribesmen in the Philippines and hired them as law enforcement officers even though he knew their long-term goals would be different. And President Franklin D. Roosevelt allied America with Russia to destroy Germany, adding the Soviet Union to the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 despite it being clear that the U.S. and Soviet Union would eventually be at loggerheads.

Rosengard’s gambles in Afghanistan largely worked out for the invasion, and U.S. special operators and unconventional forces took large sections of the country in the Winter of 2001, a period in which they had planned to take just a small foothold in the north. The operators and their guerrilla allies also were able to bring Hamid Karzai back to the country to take power, helping cement American control of the country.

But, of course, the issues with Afghan forces in the invasion were quickly felt. Pashtun tribesmen were extremely helpful in taking the country from the Taliban, but their half-hearted attacks at Tora Bora are thought to have been a major contributor to Osama Bin Laden’s escape from that mountain stronghold into Pakistan where he would successfully hide until his death in 2011.

MIGHTY HISTORY

What the crew of this German warship did after 9/11 will give you chills

The immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States left the country in great fear and sorrow. The surprise of such an offensive onslaught and the immense loss of civilian life shook America to its core, as well as its allies and military partners in North America and abroad.


America, however, was never alone in its time of need, and numerous heartwarming displays of support from foreign countries made American citizens and members of the military well aware of that.

One such display came from the Bundesmarine – the German navy – days after the attacks.

Ensign Megan Hallinan recounted the incident while serving aboard the USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, in a now-famous email to her father.

At the time of the attacks, the Churchill was the US Navy’s newest destroyer, having just been commissioned into service in May of 2001. On a visit to England for the 2001 International Festival of the Sea, the Churchill made a port call in Plymouth, along with the USS Gonzalez — another Arleigh Burke warship — and the German naval vessel Lutjens, a former West German navy destroyer.

Royal Navy personnel and crews from all three vessels were involved in friendly activities, from exploring Plymouth together while on liberty to playing sports and cookouts. Following the attacks, the Churchill and Gonzalez put out to sea again with their crews on high alert.

Lutjens was recalled as well, steaming out of Portsmouth just around the same time its American counterparts were underway.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up
The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill on patrol in the Persian Gulf (Photo US Navy)

According to Hallinan, the Churchill constantly maintained high alert levels, conducting drills to keep the crew sharp and ready for action should the need arise. Among the drills planned was a man-overboard exercise which would test and train the crew on its ability to respond quickly and effectively to rescue or recover any shipmates who might fall overboard.

The drill was delayed when the Lutjens, transiting nearby, hailed the Churchill and made a special request. Its crew wished to pass the American destroyer on its port (left) side to bid its US Navy partners farewell. The commanding officer of the Churchill readily agreed to the maneuver.

As is tradition, the Churchill’s crew began manning its rails and the port bridge wing to wish its foreign comrades well on their voyage home. As the Lutjens pulled in closer, a unique sight met the eyes of the sailors aboard the American vessel.

The Star Spangled Banner was flying with the German flag at half-mast on the Lutjens, its crew manning their ship’s rails in their blue dress uniforms. As both vessels steamed alongside each other with sailors from both navies rendering honors with crisp salutes, a banner came into view on the German warship.

Its message was simple, but spoke to the hearts of each and every American on the Churchill that day.

“We Stand by You.”

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up
German destroyer Lutjens alongside the USS Winston Churchill with the banner flying on its starboard side (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

As Hallinan recalls in her email, many sailors on the Churchill fought to retain their composure, especially given the horror of the events which had befallen their countrymen and women. The Churchill would go on to support the Global War on Terrorism with numerous deployments overseas, along with the Gonzalez.

The actions of the Lutjens crew will forever be remembered by the crew aboard the Churchill that dark day in September, as well as the rest of the U.S. Navy, grateful for the unwavering support from its allies following 9/11.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Unique new veterans memorial installed 40 feet under the sea

As soon as Shawn Campbell saw his name on a plaque next to a statue sunken 40 feet on the seafloor, the memories of soldiers he had once served with flooded his mind.

The life-size statue, one of a dozen concrete figures that make up the nation’s only underwater veterans memorial, depicted a soldier wearing combat gear from the Iraq War — a war he had fought in three separate times.

“It really took my breath away,” said the former staff sergeant, now a master diver at a Florida dive shop. “It was a huge honor.”

His company made a donation to place his name at the base of the statue before the figures were recently installed about 10 miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida.


The memorial, called Circle of Heroes, honors the entire military with statues portraying a variety of service members in what organizers hope will serve as a therapeutic dive for veterans and a unique diving experience for all.

Plans call for an additional 12 statues to be added to the memorial next year.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Circle of Heroes is the nation’s only memorial of its kind and will eventually have 24 life-size statues depicting troops from all services.

(Circle of Heroes)

For Campbell, who served about a decade in the Army as a combat medic, he said the memorial helped him remember those who never returned home and those who struggled once they did.

“I had a lot of friends who didn’t make it back,” he said Aug.12, 2019, a week after the memorial officially opened. “And even more who did make it back, but then couldn’t win the battle with themselves after the war.”

One such friend was Staff Sgt. Victor Cota. He and Campbell had been in the same 4th Infantry Division unit that provided security for senior leaders traveling in and around Baghdad.

On May 14, 2008, Cota’s vehicle hit a roadside bomb, killing the 33-year-old Tucson, Arizona, native.

“He was a really good friend of mine,” Campbell said. “We lost him during [my] second deployment.”

In 2013, Campbell left the Army to finish his associate’s degree and then worked as a commercial deep sea diver. He now teaches courses at a dive shop in the Tampa area, where he grew up.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Shawn Campbell, a former staff sergeant and now a master diver, looks at his name on a plaque next to one of the statues at the Circle of Heroes underwater veterans memorial off the coast of Clearwater, Fla.

(Video still by Bill Mills)

“I was like, well, if I survived the war, I’m going to start doing everything I want to do now,” he said.

Campbell said scuba diving is a relaxing activity that calms his post-traumatic stress and gives him time to analyze his thoughts in peace.

“It helps me deal with things,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to have a bad day when you’re underwater and you get to reflect upon yourself.”

Former Staff Sgt. Jace Badia, also a diving instructor, agreed, saying the sport gives him more freedom of movement.

Badia, an infantryman who lost his left leg above the knee to a roadside bomb in Iraq, said he and others who have had amputated limbs can move however they like while floating below the surface.

He even knows a blind veteran who enjoys scuba diving.

“If you don’t have the ability to run because of prosthetics, you can get in the water with a tank and you can swim as fast as you want,” he said. “Nothing is stopping you.”

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Shawn Campbell, a former staff sergeant and now a master diver, had a statue dedicated to him at the Circle of Heroes underwater veterans memorial off the coast of Clearwater, Fla.

(Shawn Campbell)

Badia, who manned a boat so other wounded veterans could dive around the memorial last week, said he is looking forward to seeing it soon in an upcoming dive.

“I can’t believe that they finally made an underwater memorial for [service members],” he said. “That’s amazing, I never even thought that was possible.”

While memorials are typically above ground, this one can allow visitors to connect to it on a deeper level. There is even a nonprofit that specifically takes wounded veterans to the site as an alternative form of therapy.

“The one thing about scuba diving is when you’re down there, even if you’re in a group, you’re still by yourself,” Campbell said. “You have no choice but to reflect on what you’re looking at.

“It’s more of a serene experience that you never get an opportunity to experience above the water.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These were the daring WWII female pilots known as the ‘Night Witches’

Throughout the 1930s pilots around the world were continually trying to push the limits of anything that had been done before in the air. While the likes of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart are more familiar names in the Western World, the Soviets had their own equivalents such as Mikhail Gromov who, in 1937 along with his two man crew, managed to break the world distance record for non-stop flight, flying 6,306 miles from Moscow to California via a rather dangerous North Pole route. Hailed as heroes upon their return, Premier Joseph Stalin decided the Soviet Union should follow this up in 1938 by having a group of women pilots attempt to set the distance record for non-stop flight for a female crew. The selected trio, who each already held one or more world records for female aviators, were Polina Osipenko, Valentina Grizodubova, and Marina Raskova.


And so it was that on Sept. 24, 1938 the three ladies took off from an airfield in Shchcyolkovo near Moscow, in a Tupolev ANT-37, which normally had a range of about 5,000 km or 3,100 miles. Their destination was Komsomolsk-on-Amur over 3600 miles away. Unfortunately for them almost immediately upon departing they encountered a number of issues including a thick layer of clouds and icing conditions which forced them to climb above said clouds, in the process losing all sight of the ground for the duration. Not long after this, their radio stopped working. Without a clear view of the ground for almost the entire flight, Raskova used the stars, a compass, and their airspeed to roughly determine their position as they flew. When the clouds finally broke, they found themselves flying over Tugur Bay in the Sea of Okhotsk, about 500 km or 300 miles directly north of their intended destination.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

1938 photo of Marina Raskova.

(Public Domain)

Low on fuel, they desperately attempted to find an alternate place to land, but the engines died first. With some form of a crash landing inevitable and a navigator no longer having anything to do, Grizodubova ordered Raskova to parachute out of the plane from about 6,500 feet with the hope that it would increase her odds of survival. Of course, decreasing her odds slightly, she chose to leave her emergency survival kit for the other two women, reportedly only taking two chocolate bars with her for rations to trek through Siberia with. When Raskova safely hit the ground, she noted the direction the plane was gliding and began hiking after it.

As for the pilot and co-pilot still aboard, they were forced to make a gear up, dead-stick landing in a frozen swamp near the upper part of the Amgun River, in the end successfully executing what is termed in pilot-speak as a “good landing”- in that all occupants survived and were able to walk away from the wreckage.

As for Raskova, she hiked for a full ten days before finally locating the downed aircraft and her comrades. Not long before she arrived, a search crew located the plane. While this was a good thing for the women, unfortunately two of the search planes collided overhead and killed all 15 aboard as the horrified pilots watched from below. A few days later, the women were picked up via boat.

When they arrived back in Moscow, their harrowing journey, which managed 3,671.44 miles in 26 hours and 29 minutes (though in truth they had flown some 6,450 km or 4,007 miles total), had indeed set the distance record for a straight line, non-stop all-woman crew. That, along with how they handled themselves in such adverse conditions saw them lauded as heroes across the Union, including quite literally being given the “Hero of the Soviet Union” award, among other honors.

Fast-forwarding about three years later in June of 1941, Germany decided to invade. During Operation Barbarossa, almost 4 million troops were thrown at the Soviet Union, and in one fell swoop the Axis managed to destroy approximately 66 airfields and about 80% of the military aircraft in the Soviet Union at the time.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

German troops at the Soviet state border marker, June 22, 1941.

(Public Domain)

With an abundance of pilots and few planes, you might think this was not exactly an ideal environment for female pilots of the era to be given a job- especially not in combat- but two factors saw Stalin convinced establishing all female squadrons was something they should do. First, Raskova wouldn’t stop berating Stalin about it, noting both in the air and on the ground that forgoing using half your populace when the enemy was almost at the doorsteps of Moscow was foolish. Another factor was that among the planes still available were a large number of Polikarpov Po-2’s- an open cockpit two seat 1928 biplane made of wood and fabric, mostly meant for flight training and crop dusting.

Slow and plodding, the Polikarpov cruised along at a breakneck pace of about 68 mph (109 km/hr) and a never exceed if you don’t want your wings to fall off speed of 94 mph (151 km/hr). Combine that with a maximum climb rate of a mere 500 feet per minute (152 meters) while traveling at a speed not that much faster than Usian Bolt while ascending, and these weren’t exactly planes male pilots were itching to fly to the front in…

For reference here, the Luftwaffe were flying such planes as the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger, which had an engine possessing about 25 times the horsepower as the Polikarpov, cruised along at 280 mph (450 km/hr), with maximum speeds of 426 mph (685 km/hr), and could climb in excess of 3,000 ft/min. That’s not to mention this plane came equipped with dual 13 mm MG 131 machine guns. The pilots of the Polikarpov Po-2’s, on the other hand, were given hand pistols as their air to air combat weapon… No doubt when in a dog fight, they also were instructed to make “pew pew pew” sounds to increase the effectiveness of their arsenal.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, should one get shot down or the fabric of the aircraft catch fire, which occasionally happened when tracer bullets ripped through them, as weight was at a premium, the pilots weren’t given parachutes… On top of that, the planes themselves did not come equipped with radios or any other such equipment. A map, a compass, a pistol, and their wits were what the stick and rudder Po-2 pilots brought with them on their combat missions.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A damaged and abandoned Po-2 forced to land in Ukraine, and subsequently captured by German troops, 1941.

(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Now, you might at this point be wondering what possible use these pilots could serve flying these planes into combat other than reducing the Soviet population by a couple hundred pilots. Well, the one marginally potent weapon the planes did come equipped with was bombs- up to six of them, weighing approximately 110 lbs each (50 kg).

Planes few wanted to fly sitting on the ground and Raskova refusing to shut up about it, Stalin ordered her to form three all female squadrons, though the 588th Bomber Regiment, who would come to use the Polikarpov Po-2’s, was the only one to remain exclusively staffed by women throughout the war.

As for the young ladies who volunteered to fly in these death traps, they ranged from about 17 years old to their early 20s. And while you might think the name they’d soon be given would be something along the lines of “Target Practice”, their incredible effectiveness and near non-stop bombardment of the Germans at the front starting on June 8, 1942 and continuing all the way to Berlin, earned them another nickname — The Night Witches.

So just how effective were they? For the approximately four years they were active, they flew close to an astounding 30,000 missions, with an average of about 250 missions each. To put this in perspective, airmen aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress in 1944 had a 1 in 4 chance of surviving to the 25 mission mark for their rotation. But in the case of the Night Witch bombers, some flew near or greater that number in under a week. One, who we’ll discuss shortly, almost managed that number of missions in a single night. Despite the incredible number of missions they flew, over the course of the war, of the 261 women that flew in the 588th, only 32 died, and a handful of those not from combat, but tuberculosis.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A Polikarpov Po-2, the aircraft type used by the regiment.

(CC BY-SA 3.0)

This bring us to Nadezhda Popova, who managed the record of 18 missions in a single night when she helped chase the Axis as they retreated from Poland. Popova, who started flying at aged 15, was a flight instructor by 18, and decided to join up not long after her brother, Leonid, was killed in the early stages of the conflict. She states, “I saw the German aircraft flying along our roads filled with people who were leaving their homes, firing at them with their machine guns. Seeing this gave me feelings inside that made me want to fight them.”

The Nazis would soon come to regret making an enemy of Popova, who shortly was about to go all John Wick on them for killing her brother. But before that, unfortunately for her, when she tried to enlist, she was turned away, with Popova later stating of this, “No one in the armed services wanted to give women the freedom to die.”

Nevertheless, given her credentials, when the 588th was formed when she was 19 years old, they had a place for her. She would go on to fly an incredible 852 missions during the war, despite, as she stated in an interview in 2009, “Almost every time, we had to sail through a wall of enemy fire. In winter, when you’d look out to see your target better, you got frostbite, our feet froze in our boots, but we carried on flying…. It was a miracle we didn’t lose more aircraft. Our planes were the slowest in the air force. They often came back riddled with bullets…”

On that note, after returning from one mission where she was tasked with dropping supplies to ground troops who were bottled up in Malaya Zemlya, she found 42 bullet holes in her plane, one in her helmet, and a couple in her map. It was then that she joked with her navigator, “Katya, my dear, we will live long!”

In truth, Popova, who became a squadron commander, survived the war, among other honors receiving the Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin, and was a three time Order of the Red Banner recipient (awarded for extreme heroism and courage demonstrated in battle), twice awarded the Order of the Patriotic War 1st class… and the list goes on and on- badass. She was a badass basically.

As for her life after, she married an airmen, Semyon Kharlamov, who she met after the two had separately been shot down on Aug. 2, 1942. While she couldn’t see his face as it was covered in bandages, they hit it off as they joked around together during their trek back to safety. They got hitched almost immediately on war’s end. For work after, she continued her pre-war career as a flight instructor, ultimately living to the ripe old age of 91 years old, dying on July 8, 2013.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Nadezhda Popova.

(Public Domain)

Going back to the squadron as a whole, given their extreme vulnerability in the air, you might at this point be wondering how these women not only almost all survived, but proved to be so incredibly effective?

Well, given their slow speed, the fact that in a dogfight they’d quickly be made into Swiss cheese by enemy planes, and the fact that they needed to deploy their paltry payloads at extremely low altitudes to actually accurately hit a target, meaning ground based crew could likewise easily turn the pilots of these craft into wreckage riders, flying missions in daylight with any regularity wasn’t really an option if one liked to keep breathing.

Thus, in an era before incredibly accurate terrain mapping and GPS systems to help avoid said terrain, these women voluntarily hopped inside their antiquated pieces of equipment and ascended to the heavens in darkness- the darker the better.

Stealth was their only way of surviving, and they used it to their advantage at every opportunity. Navigating in darkness towards their assigned enemy targets, usually hugging the ground as much as possible until getting close to their targets to avoid being spotted by enemy aircraft, once they located their targets, the women would employ a number of strategies to actually get close enough to deliver their deadly payloads. These included doing things like flying in groups and intentionally having one or two of the planes up high attract the attention and fire from those on the ground, while others would idle their engine and try to slip in closely undetected. Another strategy was to do what is generally considered in aviation 101 as a great way to die, especially in the often frigid environments these women were flying in- cut their engines completely in flight and at relatively low altitudes.

They’d then silently descend onto their targets until almost literally right over the heads of the enemy and finally drop their bombs, kick the engine back to life (hopefully) and get back to base as fast as possible to be loaded back up and sent out again and again to the front line.

Describing this, the chief of staff for the 588th, Irina Rakobolskaya, noted, “One girl managed to fly seven times to the front line and back in her plane. She would return, shaking, and they would hang new bombs, refuel her plane, and she’d go off to bomb the target again.”

Popova would state of this strategy, “We flew in sequence, one after another, and during the night, we never let them rest… the Germans made up stories. They spread the rumor that we had been injected with some unknown chemicals that enabled us to see so clearly at night…. This was nonsense, of course. What we did have were clever, educated, very talented girls…”

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Popova with Russian president Medvedev in 2009.

(President of the Russian Federation, CC BY 4.0)

Effective, one German soldier would later state in an interview after the war of the Night Witches, they were “precise, merciless and came from nowhere.”

Dedicated to delivering their payloads no matter what, one former 588th member stated that occasionally the bombs would get stuck when trying to drop them just over the target. The solution was simply to have one of the two women in the plane scramble out on the wing and kick it loose, often while under heavy enemy fire- all leading author Kate Quin to note, “You women are crazy. You’re incredibly brave, but my god you’re crazy.”

A sentiment Popova would later echo in her waning years, stating, “I sometimes stare into the blackness and close my eyes. I can still imagine myself as a young girl up there in my little bomber and I ask myself, Nadia, how did you do it?”

Moving on to the nickname the Germans gave them and which they would so proudly embrace once they learned of it, it is widely speculated that this was because of the wooshing sound the planes made as they glided down through the air, like the sound a witch flying on her broomstick. However, there is no primary documentation backing this speculation up at all, despite it being almost universally repeated. And, for our part, we’re just guessing not a single German soldier ever actually had heard the wooshing sound of a witch flying on a broomstick to compare. So allow us to suggest our own alternate hypothesis- that it wasn’t so much the sound that was the inspiration, but, instead, the name “The Night Witches” was actually because these were women, flying at night, on aircraft made of wood, not unlike a witch flying on a broomstick.

Whatever the case, in the end, for their heroism, almost 1 in 10 of the women of the 588th were honored with the Hero of the Soviet Union award. For reference here, while that award was given out almost 13,000 times over the entire life of the Soviet Union, the badass ladies of the 588th accounted for approximately 1/4 of all women who ever received it.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army rebuilds Myrtle Beach after Hurricane Florence

South Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes and each one takes its toll on shorelines and beach communities located across the Atlantic coastal region.

After each significant storm, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel assess erosion impacts, work hand-in-hand with state and local partners to determine mitigation measures for erosion damage to shoreline projects and take authorized measures to rehabilitate effected areas.


According to USACE Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, these efforts are extremely beneficial to both local communities and nationwide efforts to protect the environment and foster economic growth.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment operations underway along Myrtle Beach, S.C., following Hurricane Florence, Sept. 22, 2018.

(Photo by Edward Johnson)

“Our scientists venture out and measure where shoreline erosion has occurred,” said Spellmon. “At Myrtle Beach, it appears the impacts of Hurricane Florence were enough that we’re adding additional quantities of sand to an existing contract underway to address damages from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.”

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, Maj. Gen. Scott Spellmon (left), discusses beach renourishment operations with Chris Promfret, a USACE contractor with the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock LLC, following Hurricane Florence, Sept. 22, 2018.

(Photo by Edward Johnson)

Work was paused because dredging craft were moved to safe harbor during the storm, but has since resumed.

“We’re deploying high-tech equipment to quantify the losses and then utilizing dredging vessels and ship-to-shore pipelines to rehabilitate the federal project, thus ensuring beaches and dunes are ready to provide their full benefits whenever the next storm may impact the area,” added Spellmon.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment operations underway along Myrtle Beach, S.C. (lower left), following Hurricane Florence, Sept. 22, 2018.

(Photo by Edward Johnson)

Great Lakes Dredge Dock LLC, contracted to complete this project, utilizes hopper dredges to vacuum sand from the sea floor through drag arms from a location approximately three miles from the impacted shoreline.

Chris Promfret, a USACE contractor with the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock LLC, says the sand being pumped to the beach comes from an underwater area about 30 feet below the Atlantic ocean’s surface.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, Maj. Gen. Scott Spellmon, points out beach renourishment operations to local government officials, USACE personnel and contractors along Myrtle Beach, S.C., following Hurricane Florence, Sept. 22, 2018.

(Photo by Edward Johnson)

The renourished shoreline beaches and dunes serve to reduce the impacts of future hurricanes and other coastal storms to communities and infrastructure. With that in mind, USACE partners with state and municipal officials on shoreline restoration initiatives.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

A hopper dredge vessel uses a ship-to-shore pipeline to transfer sand from the ocean flood to the shoreline as part of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment operations underway along Myrtle Beach, S.C., following Hurricane Florence, Sept. 27, 2018.

(Photo by Edward Johnson)

Chief of Programs and Civil Project Management for USACE, Charleston District, Brian Williams, says this project covers more than 25 miles of beach shoreline.

“Under normal conditions, we cost-share 65 percent of this work at the federal level,” said Williams. “But in emergency situations like the one following Hurricane Florence, we fully fund all rehabilitation operations, subject to Congressional appropriations, in support of our state and municipal partners.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of January 10th

There hasn’t been a more shining example of how great the military meme community can be than when its faced with a possible WWIII. The media is reporting every last detail, the civilians are clutching their pearls, and the vets? We’re completely unphased at the prospect of another multi-decade war.

All geopolitics and possible danger aside, at least gearing up for war is a hell of a lot better than just sitting around doing CQ, motor pool Mondays, and online correspondence courses…


Actual war may be benched – but the meme war will continue!

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Jenna Boom)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Roller Vader)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

​(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Call for Fire)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Not CID)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Victor Alpha Clothing)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

​(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

MIGHTY TRENDING

What veterans can expect when running for office for the first time

Ohio is home for Hillary O’Connor Mueri. She was born in Parma and moved to Painesville at three years old. She’s a graduate of Ohio State University and entered the Navy as a Buckeye ROTC midshipman in 1996.


To her, it made perfect sense to run for Congress at home, in Ohio’s 14th Congressional District. And she believes she has the perfect resume for it.

“This is where I’m from,” she told Military.com. “This is where I call home. My parents still live in the house I grew up in.”

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Hillary O’Connor Mueri

But running in her home district also opens her up to intense media scrutiny in front of her lifelong friends and family. With the election still nine months away, she’s already seen her opponent and his allies come out hard against her in local media. Like many veterans, she presses on, confident in her abilities. She never thought this would be easy, she says.

“Growing up, I always thought that politics was something wealthy people did. So it was never, you know, an ambition of mine,” she explains. “And I think we really need to change that narrative. We need to make the House for the people again, to make this something that everyone can aspire to.”

That aspiration is just one reason Mueri, a lawyer and former naval flight officer, decided to run for Congress. She felt a desire to serve early in her adult life, while studying aviation engineering. She wanted to use her love for all things aircraft to serve her country, especially after realizing she’d rather be flying planes than building them, she says.

Her grandfathers were both in the Navy, but they died before she was born. Still, the tradition of service, and the Navy in particular, resonated with Mueri. For her, landing on aircraft carriers meant she could always fly on the cutting edge of aviation technology.

As a naval flight officer, she was the backseater in the F-14D Tomcat, F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-16B Fighting Falcon. In the Tomcat, her role was radar intercept officer, but was called weapons systems officer in the other three airframes.

“Tomcats forever. First love,” she says. “All the other aircraft have amazing characteristics, but there’s something about the F-14 that’s just gonna stick with me.”

Her career took her to train in Pensacola and to the carrier Theodore Roosevelt. In 2003, she flew Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance missions supporting ground troops in northern Iraq from the Roosevelt. She later became an instructor at what was then the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center’s (now known as Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center) Strike school at Nevada’s Naval Air Station Fallon.

She left the Navy in 2007 with the rank of Lieutenant after getting engaged to her future husband, Simon Mueri. When he was transferred to San Diego, she went too. While there, she struggled with finding meaningful work as a civilian and decided to go to law school. Graduating in 2010, she was hired by the prestigious firm of Perkins Coie in Los Angeles.

Eventually, it was time to move home to be near her family in Ohio. But running for office wasn’t her first thought. She saw an ad for Emily’s List, a reproductive rights organization that supports women running for office. There was something about the idea of running that stuck with Mueri the same way the Tomcat did.

“Watching how chaotic our government has gotten, how it turned from service and lawmaking into partisan bickering, I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” she said. “In the military, we talk about the Constitution and how service is so valuable. I want to bring that back to the House. The House of Representatives is the people’s house, and I want to be able to affect real change for everyday people.”

Part of that dedication to service is why she thinks more veterans should run for office. She believes veterans have a “country first, mission first” outlook that drives them from day to day, regardless of political party.

“It’s about identifying what needs to get done and getting it done,” she said. “So you learn how to work as a team and ignore the distinctions between you. I think having more veterans with that perspective focused on the greater good, instead of about the petty day-to-day things, we’re going to be able to really accomplish a lot that is solely for the benefit of the country.”

But it isn’t easy. Running for office is almost a 24/7 job, with nearly limitless pulls on the candidate’s attention. Being a veteran is also good preparation for those problems, she says. The 24/7 mentality is strong with most military members, and the demands of military life are great practice for balancing priorities. What most veterans probably aren’t prepared for is suddenly being in the spotlight.

“Suddenly, you have to realize that there will be a larger amount of attention paid to what you do, as opposed to going about your everyday life,” Mueri said. “That takes some getting used to.”

In her situation, allegations were made by the Ohio Republican Party that, while she was transitioning to civilian life and moving from Nevada to California in 2008, she requested an absentee ballot from the state of Ohio and voted in two primary elections.

The allegations were debunked in a statement from Ohio’s Lake County Board of Elections, clarifying that, while it mailed her a ballot, she never sent it in. The incident received media coverage in newspapers and television stations from Cleveland to Akron, no small thing when running for office in your hometown.

“You’re very exposed,” she said. “It’s shocking to see that sort of thing sprung on you. In the end, you have to let it roll off your back and keep moving forward as long as you have the truth on your side. And I do, so I just have to carry on being myself.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

The Back Squat: The full-body exercise king

The back squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises, especially by those who frequently squat — and those who like a nice booty. But does it live up to the hype? And, more importantly, should you be squatting to get you closer to your fitness goals?


Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

That’s what I call full-body stimulation. Even the face gets a workout…

(Photo by Senior Airman Alyssa Van Hook)

Muscle recruitment

The squat is touted as that exercise which recruits the most muscle mass with the most weight possible.

You may immediately think of thrusters as an exercise that proves this previous statement false. The problem there is that, strength-wise, the upper body lags behind the lower body. So, a weight that may be difficult for you to press overhead will likely be very easy to squat to depth with.

The back squat, on the other hand, isometrically engages the upper body without impacting the work of the lower body.

The barbell back squat actively works just about every muscle from the ribs down if performed correctly, and it also works the shoulders and upper back isometrically.

If you’re one of my clients, you are familiar with the cue, bend the bar over your back. This cue engages the pulling muscles of your back and arms even more, since you are literally trying to bend the bar over your back with your hands. This cue also has the benefit of locking your core into a tighter contraction, so that you can transfer more force from your legs into the weight.

How To Squat: Low Bar

youtu.be

This is the same concept as trying to push a button with a noodle vs a rod. If it’s a really light button, you may be able to do it with a noodle, but it’ll be a lot harder because much of the force is being lost. The rod directly transfers all your energy straight into the button efficiently.

There isn’t another exercise that allows you to move as much weight as the back squat with so many muscles. It can be considered a true test of total strength. Not only that, but it can save you time.

If you only have 45 minutes for a workout, you will be able to hit more muscle groups faster by chunking them into compound exercises like the back squat. Five sets of squats will always be faster than 5 sets of leg extension, 5 sets of leg curl, 5 sets of calf raises, and 5 sets of glute bridges.

For the average trainee, this efficiency approach is more than sufficient for satisfying your need for muscular stimulation. If you are a bodybuilder, a different more isolative approach may be required. Remember, everything is dependent on your goals.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

More muscle mass equals more testosterone. The squat is highly effective at building lower-body mass.

(Photo by Sgt. Roger Jackson)

Hormonal response

The typical bro-scientist states that the back squat is superior in raising anabolic hormones, like testosterone and growth hormone, which then act like a systemic steroid that boosts your muscle-gaining ability throughout your whole body. This is true to an extent, specifically when you are training at 90% intensity with heavy weights. The boost lasts for about 15-30 minutes.

A 15-30 minute spike of testosterone is enough to make you feel awesome, boost your mood (it has been shown to positively affect both anxiety and depression), and help you keep on gettin’ after it in the gym. 15-30 minutes isn’t enough to boost whole body muscle growth to any considerable degree though. Don’t worry, though — it still helps.

I’ll let that sink in…

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

You don’t need growth hormone to get huge. You do need it to keep those muscles on the bone though.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo)

Growth hormone, despite its name, doesn’t help grow your muscles at all. Its name is super misleading and will probably continue to confuse people — at least until we start communicating via telepathy and no longer have a use for words.

Growth hormone actually grows connective tissue, like tendons and ligaments. It’s still super important, because without it, your huge muscles would tear right off the bone when you flex.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

350+ lbs on your back will stimulate growth and your desire to be strong.

(Photo by Airman BrieAnna Stillman)

The real benefit

This spike in testosterone that you experience from heavy squats is enough to make you hungry for more weight, more reps, and more gains, which will result in higher motivation to continue getting in the gym.

The more consistent you are with your lifting sessions, the more muscle mass you will put on. That increase in muscle mass directly correlates to an increase in overall testosterone throughout the entire day, not just during your workout. It raises your testosterone baseline. That means you will have more energy, feel stronger in general, and have a higher capacity to burn fat in general.

We discussed the fat burning effects of resistance training here.

Staying consistent with the barbell back squat will have a huge effect on your overall progression towards being a better, stronger, and sexier human.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Game of Thrones’ season 8 premiere watched by record 17.4 million viewers

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” had its biggest night ever on April 14, 2019.

The epic fantasy series was watched by 17.4 million viewers across all HBO platforms (linear TV, HBO Go, and HBO Now) during its final season premiere, breaking the show’s previous viewership record of 16.9 million for the season seven finale in 2017. The season seven premiere was watched by 16.1 million viewers.

HBO said on April 15, 2019, that viewership for its standalone streaming platform, HBO Now, grew by 50% from the season seven finale, and by 97% from the season seven premiere. It’s the biggest streaming night for HBO of all time.


The 9 p.m. airing on the premium cable network reeled in 11.8 million viewers, but failed to break the record set by the season seven finale’s 12.1 million viewers. But HBO said this could have been affected by the Dish dispute. HBO became unavailable for Dish subscribers in November 2018, after the two sides failed to land on a deal. Dish urged its subscribers to sign up for HBO Now ahead of the “Game of Thrones” premiere.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up
(HBO)


“Even though HBO is not available on Dish, you can still watch their content with the HBO NOW app,” a video on Dish’s website explained on April 14, 2019.

Just how big a night did “Game of Thrones” have compared to TV’s top shows?

For comparison, the highest-rated shows of 2018, according to Nielsen, included “Roseanne” (20 million average viewers), “Big Bang Theory” (18.3 million average viewers), “NCIS” (16.3 million average viewers), and “This Is Us” (16.6 million viewers). Nielsen’s “Game of Thrones” ratings, which don’t include streaming data, will be released on April 16, 2019.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

popular

These soldiers are the Army’s FBI and Secret Service

The Army has its own criminal investigation service filled with special agents that investigate major crimes, protect VIPs, and maintain criminal records.


The Criminal Investigation Command is often known as CID and its special agents carry CID badges. This is a tie to the unit’s history as the command was originally formed as the Criminal Investigation Division in 1918 by the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing.

 

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

Agents from the CID go in anytime the Army is — or might have been — a party to a major crime. This includes violent crimes like murder and rape as well as white-collar infractions like computer fraud.

Approximately 2,000 soldiers are assigned to CID, 900 of which are special agents. These soldiers investigate the crime on their own or in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies. Agents can build cases, request arrest warrants, and detain suspects the same as other federal law enforcement officers.

The Army CID gives commanders an option for investigating major crimes on their installations or at deployed locations, but the agents do not fall under their installation’s chain of command. The CID units report up the chain to the CIC commanding general who, in turn, reports directly to the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army.

This allows CID agents to conduct their investigations with less fear of repercussions from senior leaders on base.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up
A U.S. Army reserve agent practices clearing a corner as part of responding to an active shooter training during Guardian Shield, Aug. 1, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Audrey Hayes)

 

During times of war, CID can be called upon to investigate war crimes. Massacres, the use of illegal weapons like chemical and biological agents, and many crimes against humanity would fall within their purview.

But CID agents do more than just investigate crimes. The 701st Military Police Group (CID) contains the U.S. Army Protective Services Battalion. The Protective Services Battalion is tasked with guarding key Army leaders, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Staff.

They also provide security for other leaders when tasked, including the senior leaders of allied militaries.

Agents for all CID positions are recruited largely from within the Army, though there is a direct accessions program that allows civilian college graduates to join.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how vertical take-off planes actually work

Know what’s a great tool in combat? Planes. They were the ultimate high ground until the Space Race began; they can carry heavy weapons like large machine guns, bombs, and missiles; and they’re fast, allowing them to cross the battlefield quickly. But they also have big infrastructure needs like entire airstrips. Unless they’re vertical take-off, a technology that took decades to make work.


The Real Life Sci-Fi of Vertical Take-Off Planes

www.youtube.com

Vertical take-off aircraft like the Harrier and F-35B use vertical take-off to achieve one strategic goal: allowing pilots to support Marines from ships or forward landing areas that cannot support planes conducting conventional takeoffs and landings.

Planes need quite a bit of runway, and even carrier catapults have limits when it comes to rapidly accelerating an aircraft. So when Marines are fighting to take a beachhead or press inland or just doing patrols in the desert, there’s always the chance that they might press ahead into an area that a carrier can’t get to, and that doesn’t have a suitable airport or enemy airbase which they can capture to ensure they get timely air support.

But Harriers, and now the F-35B, can operate from certain amphibious assault ships and many forward positions on land. All they need is a large open area, preferably without much dust and debris, that Marines on the ground can secure and carry fuel and ammo to.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan Hess)

But it’s hard to make planes fly when they aren’t moving horizontally. Most planes only achieve lift by moving forward through the air. The air flowing over the wings generates the lift, and if the plane starts moving too slowly, it will stall and, potentially, fall out of the sky.

The Harrier got around this by creating four columns of air that supported the plane when it needed to takeoff and land. These columns overcame the weight of the Harrier and allowed it to fly. But the columns were unstable, and it took a lot of computer power to make all the fine adjustments necessary to prevent crashes.

The new F-35B is more stable and has much more computer power, allowing it to create its columns of air more safely. And, the F-35B uses its vectored thrust to create one of these columns, allowing it to transition to forward flight by simply re-vectoring that thrust after takeoff.

Check out the video above to learn more about how this whole process works.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s military has been rocked by a string of explosions and fires

The past few weeks have been rough for the Russian military, as a string of serious accidents have led to dozens of deaths and injuries.

Accidents are certainly not uncommon for the Russian military, which lost its only aircraft carrier last fall when a heavy crane punched a hole in it as the only dry dock suitable for carrying out repairs and maintenance on a ship that size sank due to a power failure, but the last few weeks have certainly been a challenge.

Over the past month and a half, the Russian military has seen a fire claim the lives of sailors aboard a secret nuclear submarine, an explosion at a ammunition depot, and, as of Aug. 8, 2019, an explosion during the testing of a rocket engine at a military test facility.


A deadly fire aboard a top-secret submarine in early July 2019.

Russia’s latest string of bad luck began with a fire aboard a secret deep-diving nuclear-powered submarine and resulted in 14 deaths.

Russian media reports that the submarine was the Losharik, a vessel designed for “intelligence gathering and, probably, the destruction of or tapping into of undersea communications cables,” A.D. Baker, a former naval intelligence officer, previously told INSIDER.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Russian Ministry of Defence)

A suspected fire that ultimately triggered an explosion in the battery compartment killed 14 Russian sailors, a number of which were higher-ranking and distinguished officers. While the incident remains classified at the highest levels, a Russian Navy official said the crew’s actions had stopped a “planetary catastrophe,” a possible reference to an accident with the sub’s nuclear reactor.

A huge explosion at an ammo depot at a military base on Aug. 5, 2019.

On Aug. 5, 2019, an ammo depot at a Russian military base in Siberia said to house around 40,000 artillery shells and other weapons suddenly exploded, igniting fires that killed one and injured over a dozen other people.

The explosion created a massive fireball, and led local authorities to evacuate thousands of people from surrounding communities within 20 kilometers of the blast.

Russia has experienced ammunition depot explosions before. For example, an ammunition storage site in Chapaevsk that housed around 13 million shells exploded in 2013, injuring around 30 people.

A deadly explosion of a missile engine at a military test site on Aug. 8, 2019.

On Aug. 8, 2019, a missile engine exploded at a Russian naval base, leaving two dead and eight others injured. Among the dead and wounded were military and civilian personnel.

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

(Russian Ministry of Defence)

The engine, according to Russian state media, exploded while specialists at the base in the rural village of Nyonoksa, a town in northern Russia, were testing the rocket engine’s “liquid propulsion system.”

The Nyonoksa range is a critical test site for Russian missile systems, everything from intercontinental ballistic missiles to cruise missiles. Thursday’s explosion, the state-run TASS News Agency reported, triggered a spike in radiation in a nearby city.

Authorities insist everything is under control.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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