In the 1940s, the U.S. Navy Launched Planes From Trapezes
This story originally appeared on Jan. 25, 2015. Today’s small drones launch off catapults and land in big nets. Large drones require runways, whether on land or at sea. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way, as a wacky—and successful—World War II technique proved. During the Pacific... Read more
A Gigantic T-35 Tank Rolls Out of a Factory, 80 Years After Production Ended
In April 2018, a very large and interesting machine rolled out of a military museum in Verkhnyaya Pyshma, a town in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region. It was a T-35 — one of the most bizarre tanks of the interwar period and known in particular for its five turrets, huge size... 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
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 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
Soviet Paratroopers Fought for a Month Behind the Lines in Freezing Temperatures
This article is part one of a two-part series. The Soviet Union was a pioneer in airborne warfare in the years before World War II — the first conflict to see widespread use of paratroopers. And in the USSR, this development was part of an intense period of post-revolutionary... Read more
The French Cruiser ‘Emile Bertin’ Escaped Halifax With a Belly Full of Gold
In June 1940, the 581-foot-long French light cruiser Émile Bertin sat docked in Halifax, when back in Europe, French officers gathered in the late Ferdinand Foch’s railway car at Compiègne to sign the humiliating armistice with Nazi Germany — sealing continental France’s subordination to German hegemony for a following... Read more
Europe’s Last World War II Battle
The small town of Odžak is nestled between the Bosna and Sava rivers, in the north of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. To the north and east, a handful of villages spread over the plains, while to the south and west a few shallow inclines lead into the foothills of... Read more
The Ecclesiastically-Named Howitzers of the British Army
In 1940, the United Kingdom went to war with the Axis in North Africa and quickly encountered an unnerving tactical problem. The nature of warfare in the flat, open desert inevitably favored tanks, which could easily outrun the range of supporting artillery that could not move unless towed. Limbering... Read more
Marcel Mitzakis’ Giant Tank-Mounted Lamp Blinded German Troops
In March 1945, the rapidly advancing U.S. Army’s 9th Armored Division — to its surprise — found itself at Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine at Remagan; one of the two surviving bridges into the heart of Germany. The bridge was a considerable prize and its capture would shorten the... Read more

Robert Beckhusen

Managing Editor

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