Medium Mark A Whippet – Review

OSPV207I have always been drawn to the more esoteric tanks when it comes to AFV. While most tread heads and rivet counters prefer Tigers, Panthers and Shermans, I on the other hand is more interested in Italian CV33, French FT17 and the Israeli M51 (Isherman).

For The Great War I find every tank interesting. There is the early FT17 with a young officer at the wheel by the name of Patton for one. The use of British Mark V used not only in The Great War but by both sides in the Russian Civil War is also worth studying. The Germans also made an appearance on the battlefield with their A7V, a true land cruiser with a crew of 18 moving across the battlefield at a stately 4 mph.

Yet the most interesting for me is a tank that in many ways a dead end, the Medium Mark A Whippet. With a crew of three and moving along at 8+mph (twice as fast as most other contemporary tanks) this was the tank that would exploit the breakout brought about by the artillery and British Heavy Tanks, or that was the plan for the 1919 Offensive.

This book, Medium Mark A Whippet, by David Fletcher from Osprey Publishing covers the history of this interesting and unique vehicle. The book covers design and use of this tank in great detail as these tanks were used in very few operations. We also see in this book the follow on Medium B, Medium C, Medium D and the experimental American Studebaker tank.

In this story we also see how the Medium Tank was designed to be used, along side cavalry. We also see the difficulties in having horse soldiers working along side mechanized units.

The information for the Studebaker tank is also a nice start for anyone interested in this possible and little known Medium Tank.

The only fault that I can report is the lack of a bibliography.  This is a book worth adding to your library if you are interested in The Great War, tanks or new technology. As it is also available as an eBook it is easy to add to your library.

Poland’s Overlooked Enigma Code-Breakers

_76055092_007886536_624alamyThis is the un-taught story of World War II. We know of the great generals that won battles and of Bletchley Park and the Enigma, but try to tell somebody of the success of Poland in WWII and they look at you fun. I grew up at a time were Archie Bunker would verbally abuse Meathead. Polish jokes were the norm and pied in your nationality was in the future.

Yet this is a story that I knew of but others would discount. At least the BBC has reported on it.

Nationalism in The Great War

Often we hear how the shot that killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the cause of The Great War, but I am not certain that it was the cause. More likely it was the final part of a long process. More gifted academics than myself have argued this point since the opening shots of the war in books and thesis. These arguments have been ever changing. The textbooks that I used in the 1980s are way out of date pertaining to this discussion.

What I find stranger still is the similarities to two early participents in the conflict and how they helped bring about this World War. You see, it can be argued that the war could have been contained to the region of the Balkans or even Eastern Europe if one of these two countries had remained neutral.

The countries, or more accurate, governments were of the Kingdom of Serbia and the Ottoman Empire. While Serbia was unable to escape the war, they were very much part of the tensions in the region. Fighting in two Balkan Wars and covert operations in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Bosnia, the Serbian operations read like a bad spy novel set in the more modern Cold War. They were looking to expand into a greater Serbia taking over were ever the ethnic Serbs lived. The Kingdom and government were both counting on nationalism to aid them as well as support from Russia.

1913_Balkans_map-smallWhile a protector of all Slavs, Russia could have easily sided more with Bulgaria than Serbia. Bulgaria having a border with the Ottomans is an easier ally to use against the Ottomans. The straits are within striking distance of the Bulgarian forces and access to the straits was what Russia was after.

The Ottomans also were looking to expand the empire, which is strange to modern day westerns as we are taught this was “the sick man of Europe”. But the Young Turk Revolution was to bring to power those that were willing to use nationalism and support for the Muslim religion to expand as far afield as western India, Afghanistan and back into North Africa.

Was this possible, probably not, Britain was not going to allow for an expansion into Egypt or Afghanistan. The two colonial adversaries of Russia and Britain were united in keeping the Turks out of Persia. Persian is another fascinating chapter in The Great War.

Yet by getting involved in the July Crises the Ottomans and the Committee of Union and Progress were to help expand the war. Germany and the Ottoman representatives were in negotiations during the lead up to the war. While the seizer of the battleships by Britain makes good press, they were white elephants unusable by the contemporary Ottoman Navy.  Without crews or support, they would have remained in port. While Germany would have preferred to obtain them, it is hard to see how the Royal Navy would stand aside as the two ships would have headed to the Baltic instead of the Mediterranean.

The Ottoman did try to expand the war and paid for it with their empire. They added a new part to the conflict that was not planed for by either the British government or the government in India. Participation by all sides was done quickly and without the correct forces and forethought needed.

So what brings these two nations to mind as important to the conflict. The Serbs are needed no matter what. The Ottomans hurt British prestige in the Middle East by capturing the largest army until the fall of Singapore in 1942. This was to effect nationalistic movements into the 1950s. Forces needed on the Western Front were tied down fighting the Ottomans. Troops were needed in Egypt, the Dardanelles and Mesopotamia.

So it is nationalism, both were trying to create “greater” versions of themselves that brought defeat to one and the formation of a mini empire with subject races that had little in common. And the people paying for it were the soldiers and citizens trying to live up to these grandiose boosts.

Q2 Results

This quarter ended much to fast for me and I need this exercise to help keep me honest. Here is a review of the status of my two main blogs. My gaming, painting and blog were acceptable. My biggest advance in painting was with my fleets increasing the size by 37% and 34 ships. I will be doing more as my painting table is a mess with WWI, Falklands and Interwar ships and airships cluttering the work area, all in different states of completion.

As for the blogs, well I could have done better.

Green Fields Beyond
Posts – Q2 20 Increase quarter over quarter of 53%
Total for the Year 31 Posts
Views – Q2 49,363 Increase quarter over quarter of 3.6%

Basement Games
Q2 35 Posts Down 20%
Total for the Year 77 Posts
End of Q1 Friends are at 67 with 62,648 visits.
End of Q2 Friends are at 79 and 67,048 visits.

So what does this mean, well getting to 100K is still a long way off for either blog. I am seeing more comments and the feedback is positive so that is good. Unfortunately the feedback is often on other social media site. I need to work on that.

My new goal is a combined 40 posts per month for Q3. That is doable as I have a lot to say about both history and gaming. Funny how that happens.

Sarajevo – Riots 28-29 June

800px-1914-06-29_-_Aftermath_of_attacks_against_Serbs_in_SarajevoRiots soon started first in Sarajevo on the 28th and latter spreading throughout the empire wherever Serb nationals could be found. While loss of life was minimal damage was extensive to Serbian businesses, schools and cultural centers.

Riots continued the next day with the Croats and Muslims joining with the general population of the anti-Serbian rioters.

It is hard to see their being so much support amongst the people for the Archduke or if the other minorities did not want to appear to be seen supporting the Serbs. Looting and destruction was allowed for the first two days. The riots ended with Governor Potiorek declaring a state of siege in Sarajevo and marshal law in the province.  The removal of the body of the Archduke that evening also aided in reducing the strife on the streets of Sarajevo.

800px-1914-06-29_-_Aftermath_of_attacks_against_Serbs_in_Sarajevo_-_Street_photo_1This was a reactionary riot led by the Catholic Church under Archbishop Štadler and the government under Governor Potiorek. Rioters were directed and the police and army stood back for two days.

While the proof for the blame of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was limited both than and now the path was clear for Austria to lay the blame on Serbia.

By the end of the 29th, the Austria-Hungary Secretary of the Legation at Belgrade sent a dispatch to Vienna suggesting Serbian complicity in the crime of Sarajevo.

It Now Begins – 28th June 1914

1024px-Franzferdinand40hel1917It was only hundred years ago, well within many family collective memories when Gavrilo Princip shot the heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife in Sarajevo.

Today is the start of commemoration for one of the greatest events in the annals of history. Do you disagree? Can you think of any other more pivotal shot in the history of man? This is arguably more important than “The Shot Heard Around the World” or the shot that killed Presidents Lincoln or Kennedy.

We have seen this week reports from around the world covering, debating or reporting from the street in Sarajevo.  These reports come from the BBC, NPR and the WSJ.

While the deaths of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were not preordained, their Europe was a powder keg. The arms race both at sea and on land made Europe more heavily armed than at any point in recent history. This was due to the industrialization of both great and small powers in Europe. Arms manufactures were more than willing to sell to all before the start of the war. What was needed was a spark and it happened on 28 June 1914.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you disagree ask what caused the boundaries for the Balkans, Middle East, Central Asia or Africa? What caused the nationalist movements in North Africa and the Middle East today (or in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s)?

What of a Communist Russia or the dark writers of the 1920s and 30s? They are related to The Great War, which started today back a hundred years.

What can you do? You have well over a four years to follow along. Look up a good book on the subject of your choice. There are battles, woman issues, technology and human-interest pieces. Need a choice, start with Max Hastings, Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914. Check out your local museum and historical society, I am certain their will on going exhibits for The Great War. While not local, I hope to visit the Museum of Military History, Vienna as it has an extensive set of exhibits for The Great War. The picture in this blog post is from one of their exhibits. When it reopens next month the Imperial War Museum is a must.

Lastly, follow this blog; I will be covering the period for at least another year. I will also be offer reviews on books, movies YouTube videos, blogs and podcasts. Check in often and let me know what interests you.

Nieuport 11/16 Bébé vs Fokker Eindecker

OS8559-2In his latest release, Jon Guttman has written another impressive story and one little told in the history of aviation. His Nieuport 11/16 Bébé vs Fokker Eindecker looks at two very important aircraft at the earliest stages of fighter combat. While many other works look at the Eindecker as the Scourge, Guttman looks at its latter history when it was to be eclipsed by the more modern fighters.

This work is similar to other Osprey Duel titles as it reviews the development of these weapons. It looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the aircraft and the tactics used. While both aircraft were designed based on earlier models, we find the Eindecker was unable to improve significantly over the faults in the earlier models. These included underpowered engines and the use of wing-warping.

A good book for the modeler, wargamer or just aircraft enthusiast.  I purchased a hard copy of this book, but it is available as an ePub through both Amazon and Osprey Publishing. My purchase was done in part to help support a hobby shop that I found while on vacation in Arizona.

The New Phone Books Are Here !!!!

1Hopefully some of you out there will get that line from the Steve Martin classic. For others, well the Lardy Summer Special is out and it is bigger than ever. I think the only thing holding Richard and Company back is the bandwidth most people have for email systems.

Mine is down loaded and I will be getting to it shortly. Enjoy.

From the TOOFATLardies website.

“Hot off the press, the latest Summer Special is here and its a real Special Special:  our Tenth Anniversary Special to be precise.  Packed with great stuff, we will post more details tomorrow.  For now, those brave enough to trust us on the quality of the content can get it here. We’re off to get some sleep…”

HMS Polyphemus

HMS PolyphemusThe HMS Polyphemus a Royal Navy torpedo ram, serving from 1881 until 1903. A perfect addition for any Space 1889 or Victorian Science Fiction fleet. Shallow-draft, fast, low profile vessel, she was designed to penetrate enemy harbors at speed and sink anchored ships with both the ram and torpedoes.

With 6 Nordenfelt guns and five 14” torpedo tubes, this is a vessel that was dangerous to any fleet caught unaware. The guns to be used on patrol craft and the torpedoes against capital ships.

At almost 18 knots she was fast for the period, almost as fast as the torpedoes she carried.

P-BowThere were issues, as her main forward torpedo tube was in the ram bow and it was difficult to open the bow cap.

As shown in the picture, she also varied a forward set of rudders for operating in reverse.

She was not copied. Shortly after her joining the fleet, quick firing guns shortened the life of torpedo craft like the HMS Polyphemus.

She was to be superseded by both Torpedo Boats and Destroyers.

Got to love those Victorians.

USS Akron – February 1931 – Video

USS Akron Moors To USS Patoka, Chesapeake Bay, February 1931

Here is a video of the USS Akron. A majestic ship (airship) flying
gracefully across the sky. My initial interest was in the USS Patoka.


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