The Death of the Spanish Blue Division
On the frigid morning of Feb. 10, 1943, the 5,900 soldiers of the 250th “Blue” Infantry Division — Spanish volunteers fighting for the Axis on the Eastern Front of World War II — were sitting in their trenches and dugouts when the high-explosive shells fired from hundreds of Soviet... Read more
The PPsH-41 Submachine Gun Makes Me Want to Shout ‘Uraah!’
The PPsH-41 submachine gun undoubtedly reigns as an icon of the Soviet war machine in World War II, immortalized in combat photographs and in films such as Cross of Iron and The Tin Drum.  Like the T-34 tank and the Il-2 Shturmovik attack plane, the “Pepsha” or “Papasha” (“Daddy”) was not only a... Read more
A Spanish Chicken Farmer, a Peruvian Gambler and Serbian Playboy Fooled Adolf Hitler
No one really expects spies to live glamorous James Bond-lifestyles full of tailored suits, tight dresses, sex and gambling. So, one of the pleasures of reading Ben Macintyre’s Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies is learning about a half-dozen outrageous secret agents who really did lead... Read more
‘Call of Duty: WWII’ Turns Your Grandparent’s Achievements Into a Lousy Theme-Park Ride
Call of Duty: WWII, the latest entry in the long-running first-person-shooter franchise, is monumentally terrible. Publisher Activision Blizzard insults gamers by failing to deliver a decent product, disparages history buffs by half-assing one of the darkest periods in recent world history and mocks those who endured the war by... Read more
What If Japan Had Never Bombed Pearl Harbor?
Suppose Robert E. Lee had laid hands on a shipment of AK-47s in 1864. How would American history have unfolded? Differently than it did, one imagines. Historians frown on alt-history, and oftentimes for good reason. Change too many variables, and you veer speedily into fiction. The chain connecting cause to effect gets... Read more
The Really Big Tank That Helped to Break the Nazis
In the first six months of Operation Barbarossa, the brutal Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, German tanks overran hundreds of miles of Soviet territory and reached the outskirts of Moscow before winter weather and reinforcements from Siberia brought a halt to their advance. In a period when the... 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
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
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
Japan Dreamed of Supercarrier-Size Battleships
In January 1936 Japan announced its intention to withdraw from the London Naval Treaty, accusing both the United States and the United Kingdom of negotiating in bad faith. The Japanese sought formal equality in naval construction limits, something that the Western powers would not give. In the wake of... Read more