The Nuclear-War Tank Came at Exactly the Wrong Time
This story originally appeared on Oct. 9, 2016. In a war that never happened, formations of heavy and rather odd-looking Soviet tanks would have powered through atomic explosions in breakthrough attacks into West Germany. Enter the Object 279 tank, a curious oddity from the late 1950s which was obsolete — despite its... Read more
The Nazis Exploited Sherman’s March to the Sea
This story originally appeared on June 30, 2016. In the months before the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, the Wehrmacht’s propagandists warned those living under German occupation that America’s armies would not be as forgiving. In the pages of Signal, a bi-weekly magazine funded by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht... Read more
The Trucial Oman Scouts Was the British Army’s Last Desert Romance
This story originally appeared on Aug. 30, 2015. For most people, the United Arab Emirates conjures up images of lavish, oil-funded lifestyles, luxury cars and oddly shaped skyscrapers. But fewer than 50 years ago, the country — then known as the Trucial States — was a harsh, undeveloped desert outpost of the British... Read more
The Mysterious Last Battle of Soviet Tank General Alexander Lizyukov
On Sept. 17, 1942, Gen. Mikhail Katukov was sitting in a meeting with other Soviet generals — and dictator Joseph Stalin. The situation at the front was grim, coming months after the devastating Soviet defeat at the Second Battle of Kharkov, and as German armies pushed into urban Stalingrad... Read more
Syria’s Nuclear Program Was Always a Doomed Idea
On Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed a mysterious installation near the Euphrates River in the Deir-ez-Zor region. The strike incurred curiously little response from Damascus. A cyber-attack reportedly pre-empted a defensive Syrian military mobilization, and even the diplomatic outcry was muted. No other Arab governments commented on the... Read more
Foxbats Versus Tomcats
The Iraqi air force received its first Foxbats – 12 MiG-25P interceptors, 12 MiG-25R reconnaissance aircraft and six MiG-25PU conversion trainers – in 1980. However, the Soviets delivered variants that fell below the technical standards demanded by the Iraqis, so Baghdad refused to accept the aircraft. Moscow eventually agreed... Read more
How the War in Iraq Helped to Stabilize Bosnia
In March 2003, George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” launched an invasion of Iraq, the consequences of which reverberate to this day. The now-ubiquitous U.S. military presence in the Middle East began in earnest following the invasion, and it could be argued that much of the current instability... Read more
Fitzroy Maclean Fought the Nazis, Blew Up Forts and Met a King
Fitzroy Maclean, a Scottish aristocrat and adventurer, was born into a military family in Cairo in 1911, and was educated at Eton and then Cambridge – playgrounds of the British elite. He lived a long and remarkable life. “To some people, my life might seem one long adventure holiday,... Read more
The Dynamite Cruiser Was Nearly as Dangerous to Her Crew as She Was to the Enemy
On June 13, 1898, the cruiser USS Vesuvius crept within one mile of the Cuban coastline and began launching explosives from her monstrous compressed-air cannons — quietly, as far as the Spanish soldiers ashore in their fort knew until the shells landed. The nighttime shore bombardment targeting Santiago was... Read more
The Red Army’s Moscow Airborne Operation Turned Into a Debacle
This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one. On Feb. 22, 1942, Soviet Maj. Gen. A.F. Levashev was sitting inside a TB-3 bomber as it carried the Fourth Airborne Corps’ senior officers to their landing zone — part of a major operation to relieve the Eighth... Read more
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