In 1991, an Iraqi Fighter Pilot Bravely Faced American F-15s
U.S. Air Force captain Steve Tate — call sign “Tater” — scored one of the first aerial victories of Operation Desert Storm, downing an Iraqi air force Mirage F.1 during the night of Jan. 16 and 17, 1991. Few people have heard that story from the Iraqi pilot’s perspective.... Read more
Aboard His Submarine, Jimmy Launders Sank Ralf-Reimar Wolfram’s U-boat
The Hunt for Red October dramatized for the public one of the tensest forms of warfare imaginable: combat between submarines submerged deep under the ocean’s surface, the nerve-wracked crews scouring the fathomless depths for their adversary’s acoustic signature using hydrophones. However, while hunting undersea enemies is one of the primary... Read more
Jean Louis M’pele M’pele Flew Congo’s Hot-Rod French Fighter
Famous Congolese pilot Col. Jean Louis M’pele M’pele, who flew for the Zairian air force, passed away on Nov. 12, 2017. M’pele was one of the first African pilots to fly the French-made Dassault Mirage 5. Zaire, now called Democratic Republic of Congo, was only the second country in... Read more
France’s Monstrous Char B1 Tank Ate German Panzers for Breakfast
At five o’clock in the morning on May 16, 1940 a company of the 8th Panzer Regiment lay in an ambush position along a rubble-strewn street of the French town of Stonne. The day before, the unfortunate village had changed hands several times as French troops attempted to stem... Read more
Puerto Rican Assassins Nearly Caught Pres. Harry Truman in His Underwear
When a pro-Independence insurrection broke out in Puerto Rico on Oct. 30, 1950, only limited news of the uprising filtered back to the United States, an incident characterized as a “disagreement between Puerto Ricans.” However two nationalists living in the Bronx, New York decided they needed to strike their... Read more
When to Shoot a Nuclear Bomb With Your Gun
This story originally appeared on Jan. 30, 2015. The year is 1960 and a congressional delegation is touring military bases in Western Europe to evaluate custody and safety issues associated with U.S. nuclear weapons. With the delegation is a scientist named Harold Agnew—and he’s not just another congressional staffer.... Read more
The Nazis Obsessed Over Beauty
This story originally appeared on Dec. 24, 2014. Frankly, the parade is exquisite. The marchers wear clean, crisp uniforms. They hold their banners high. Enormous sculptures of horses and men loom over the procession. It’s footage from German Arts Day—in 1939. A march in celebration of the Nazi aesthetic.... Read more
What Teddy Roosevelt Taught Mao About Naval Power
Theodore Roosevelt was an avowed Mahanian. He was also a closet Maoist! Or at least, his convictions about strategies for lesser competitors ran parallel to those made popular by Mao Zedong during the Chinese Civil War and Second Sino-Japanese War, as transposed to marine warfare by the Great Helmsman’s... Read more
The Three Strategic Lessons of Guadalcanal
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. The battle is one of seven naval engagements that — together with hard-ground fighting on the part of the U.S. Marines and Army — make up a six-month bloodletting known to history as Guadalcanal. It’s a... Read more
In 1950, the Puerto Rican National Guard Bombarded a Pro-Independence Uprising
In November 2017, more than a month after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, territory residents continue to die due to lack of access to electricity and running water. The troubled recovery effort highlights questions over U.S. sovereignty over the island. Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and indeed a majority... Read more