HMS ‘Vanguard’ in 1947. Royal Navy photo HMS ‘Vanguard’ was the only ship of her kind by ROBERT FARLEY In an effort to take advantage of the superiority of the Royal Navy in World War I, First Sea Lord John “Jackie” Fisher developed a scheme to land British troops in Pomerania, thus... Read more
A Somua S35 in Bovington, England. Jonathan Cardy photo via Wikimedia Somua S35s and their crews were poorly served in World War II by ROBERT BECKHUSEN The fall of France in 1940, one of the 20th century’s most consequential disasters, wasn’t supposed to have happened. The French military was larger — on... Read more
Colt 1911 with Monarch Arms stock. Photos via the author Monarch Arms sold a handy, detachable stock by MATTHEW MOSS In the 1920s and ’30s. the Monarch Arms & Manufacturing Sales Company, based in Los Angeles, produced a range of detachable stocks for pistols including the Colt 1911 and Colt Woodsman.... Read more
53M. Source The 53M armed Hungarian government agents by MATTHEW MOSS In the late 1930s, József Kucher worked under Pál D. Király’s at Hungarian firearms-maker Danuvia, developing Király’s lever-delayed, blowback-action submachine guns for the Hungarian army. Toward the end of World War II, they simplified some earlier designs to produce... Read more
A reenactor portraying a Roman cavalry soldier. Codrin.B photo via Wikimedia Sickle-shaped swords and guerrilla tactics bloodied Rome by ROBERT BECKHUSEN Before the rise of the Roman Empire, the Celts were the preeminent warriors of a stretch of Europe from present-day Portugal to the Balkans. They didn’t accept defeat and... Read more
B-17 Flying Fortress bombers in 1944. U.S. Air Force photo A B-17 pilot wrote home about gutsy attacks from Italian fighters by ROBERT BECKHUSEN The Italian campaign was the bloodiest conflict — in terms of soldiers who lost their lives — in the West during World War II. More soldiers died there than in North... Read more
OG-43. All photos via the author The OG-43 was an innovative failure by MATTHEW MOSS In 1943, Giuseppe Oliani developed the OG-43, an innovative stamped submachine gun for the Repubblica Sociale Italiana — the German puppet state that controlled northern Italy after the Kingdom of Italy surrendered in September 1943. Oiliani’s design was... Read more
Blame the factories by MATTHEW MOSS Widely — and wrongly — vilified as one of the worst machine guns ever made, the Modele 1915 CSRG “Chauchat” entered French army service in 1915. It was the first mass-produced automatic rifle to see military service anywhere in the world. But the poor quality of the gun’s manufacture... Read more
An A-12 Avenger concept. U.S. Navy illustration Some were pretty awesome— but others failed for good reason by ROBERT FARLEY Weapons die for all kinds of different reasons. Sometimes they happen at the wrong time, either in the midst of defense austerity, or with the wrong constellation of personnel. Sometimes they... Read more
Colt Junior. Source This vest-pocket pistol overcame economic and legal obstacles by MATTHEW MOSS In the early 20th century, Colt peddled a line of vest-pocket pistols developed by John Browning. The Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket Hammerless proved extremely popular, moving 400,000 units between 1908 and 1941. After World War II, Colt... Read more
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