In 1980, Friendly Fire Was One of the Biggest Killers of Iranian Fighter Pilots
This story originally appeared on Oct. 4, 2016. September 2016 marked the 36th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq War, which killed hundreds of thousands of people between 1980 and 1988. Most people don’t know that this brutal conflict also saw a great number of friendly-fire incidents on the... Read more
In the Iran-Iraq War, F-5s and MiG-21s Fought to a Standstill
This story originally appeared on Sept. 19, 2016. There have been countless discussions over which is the better fighter jet— the U.S.-made Northrop F-5E Tiger II or the Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed. That can be a hard argument to settle. The Iran-Iraq war was probably a draw for the two types. More... Read more
In 1918, British and German Tanks Clashed at Villers-Bretonneux
One hundred years ago, on the evening of April 23, 1918, a thousand German artillery pieces unleashed high-explosive shells and mustard gas around the French town of Villers-Bretonneux. Imperial Germany had launching a last-ditch Spring Offensive in the sector around Amiens in an attempt to defeat French and British... Read more
A German Tank Battalion Fought to the End in the Icy Hell of Stalingrad
The Panzer-Abteilung 129, a tank battalion serving with the German 6th Army, fought its way into the Soviet city of Stalingrad in late 1942 only to find itself pinned down during winter. A a million-man Red Army counter offensive, attacking in two giant pincers, surrounded the Germans that November.... Read more
Why Can’t the World’s Best Military Win Its Wars?
“This time, they think they have it right.” So declared an Associated Press story reporting an upbeat assessment by this country’s top military officer at the end of a five-day visit to Afghanistan earlier this spring. Marine general Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was... Read more
In 1971, the U.S. Navy Almost Fought the Soviets Over Bangladesh
This story originally appeared on July 19, 2016. In 2016, the United States backed India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group — but didn’t support Pakistan’s. This marked an extraordinary turning point in the United States’ relationship with these historical adversaries. In 1971, the United States sent part of its... Read more
In 1982, Four U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers Gathered Near Lebanon
As tensions escalated in the Middle East over the civil war in Syria, in April 2018 the United States deployed one of the largest naval forces to the region since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The carrier strike group, centered on Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Harry S. Truman, seven... Read more
A German General Said a Soviet Attack Was Like ‘the Middle Ages’
On Jan. 11, 1942, the few surviving tanks of the Panzer-Abteilungen 103, a tank battalion, sat in the snow alongside soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division west of Stalingrad as the Soviet forces closed in. After the German 6th Army won the fight for the city, a Soviet counterattack... Read more
History’s Greatest Gay General
This story originally appeared on March 9, 2014. Frederick the Great is one of history’s most famous and adept military commanders. He’s not Napoleon, but pretty damn close. The 18th-century Prussian king is credited with transforming a backwater patchwork of Baltic lands into a modern state—all while fending off... Read more
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
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