‘Graf Zeppelin’ Was Nazi Germany’s Big, Dumb Aircraft Carrier
From the first days of his ascension to power, Adolf Hitler planned to rebuild the Kriegsmarine into a world-class navy. Most of the world’s other major fleets included aircraft carriers, and so German naval authorities soon determined that the Reich would also require carriers. Germany laid down its first... Read more
The Worst U.S. Special Operations Disasters
Since World War II, the U.S. military has experimented with special operations forces, small groups of warriors with the equipment and training to undertake extremely difficult missions. In effect, special forces exist to leverage human capital in unusual tactical situations. Soldiers selected for high physical and mental capabilities, then... Read more
The U.S. Military Can Learn a Lot From the Red Army
What do you do when your army is destroyed, over and over again? For Russia in the mid-20th century, the best answer was “build a new army.” Between 1918 and 1942, Russia’s army was torn down and rebuilt four times: once at the end of World War I, once... Read more
The Third Reich Squandered the Well-Armed ‘Scharnhorst’
The Treaty of Versailles drastically limited the size of the postwar Kriegsmarine, precluding Germany from owning any dreadnought battleships. The Germans could keep (and replace) pre-dreadnought vessels of 10,000 tons or less, roughly the size of a heavy cruiser in most navies. Presented with this problem, German engineers developed... Read more
The Russian Battleship ‘Imperator Aleksandr III’ Traded Hands Six Times
Imperator Aleksandr III was the third ship of the Imperatritsa Mariya class, a group of dreadnoughts built in the Black Sea and designed to fight the Ottoman Navy. The warship was initially named for Emperor Alexander III, who had succeeded to the throne of Russia upon the assassination of... Read more
‘Iron Duke’ Was the United Kingdom’s Super-Dreadnought
HMS Iron Duke was the second battleship named after the Duke of Wellington. The first, scrapped in 1906, had the distinction of ramming and sinking HMS Vanguard, another Royal Navy battleship. The second Iron Duke was the name ship of the last class of dreadnoughts to enter Royal Navy... Read more
HMS ‘Dreadnought’ Changed Naval Warfare Forever
State-of-the-art battleship armament in the late 19th century involved a mix of large- and small-caliber weapons. Naval architects believed that most engagements would take place within the range of the smaller guns, and that a variety of guns would combine penetrating power with volume. Indeed, some argued that large armored... Read more
Everything That Could Have Gone Wrong Had Japan Built Its Own Atomic Bomb
During the Cold War, the United States supported selective nuclear proliferation as a means of deterring a Soviet invasion of Europe. The Russians might not believe that the United States would trade Berlin for New York, but they might find a British or French threat more credible. Washington did... Read more
America’s Super Battleships That Never Were
In the early 1940s, the U.S. Navy still expected to need huge, first rate battleships to fight the best that Japan and Germany had to offer. The North Carolina, South Dakota, and Iowa-class battleships all involved design compromises. The Montanas, the last battleships designed by the U.S. Navy, would... Read more
The Russo-Japanese War Brought Rapid-Fire Weapons to the World
The Russo-Japanese War commenced 112 years ago this February, lasting 18 months before a U.S.-brokered truce mercifully put it to rest. The war killed upwards of 125,000 people, and sharply limited Russian influence in Northeast Asia. Japan gained control of Korea and a long-term foothold for influencing events in Manchuria and... Read more
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