Archive for July, 2008

31
Jul
08

Early American Bomber: Martin MB-2

The Martin MB-2 is essentially a Martin MB-1 except for an increase in wing size and the engines have been moved to the lower wing.  The Martin MB-2 shown in these pictures is a reproduction as no Martin MB-2 bombers have survived.  The plane could carry three thousand pounds of bombs, had a crew of three or four, carried five 30 caliber machine guns and cruised at just under 100 miles per hour at about eight thousand feet.

100_0707[1]

World War I started with a rudimentary understanding of air power.  At the end of World War I aircraft design and tactics had changed from an observational role to both offensive and defensive planes and tactics.  Fighter aircraft design developed to stop enemy planes from observing over friendly lines, then other fighter designs developed to stop the fighters.  Aircraft had also been developed to take the war to the enemy with bombers. 

100_0708[1]

World War I bombers initially were fighter or observation aircraft pilots dropped small hand-held bombs from.  As the war progressed production of large aircraft designs made it possible to carry heavier and heavier bomb loads.  By the end of World War I planes carrying two thousand pounds of bombs and more had developed. 

100_0709[1]

The MB-2 plane design is most famous for sinking the German dreadnaught Ostfriesland after World War I.  Germany had been forced to give up its navy at the end of the war.  Maverick General William “Billy” Mitchell had argued for the importance of bombers in the military of the future.  He argued that the power of a strong air force would be more important to future warfare than any other weapon of the time.  To prove his point he used Martin MB-2 bombers to sink surrendered German ships during demonstration bombings after World War I.  He successfully completed the demonstration and an argument began within the American military as to how air power would be used in the future, eventually leading to Billy Mitchell’s court-martial because of his criticism of military leadership.

For more information about this plane: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2415

For more information about Billy Mitchell: http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2008/June%202008/0608mitchell.aspx

31
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-31-08: Jimmy Hoffa

July 31, 1975

Jimmy Hoffa disappears

On July 31, 1975, James Riddle Hoffa, one of the most influential American labor leaders of the 20th century, disappears in Detroit, Michigan, never to be heard from again. Though he is popularly believed to have been the victim of a Mafia hit, conclusive evidence was never found, and Hoffa’s death remains shrouded in mystery to this day.

“Jimmy Hoffa disappears.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Jul 2008, 01:17 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52741.

 

On This Day

1498 – Christopher Columbus, on his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, arrived at the island of Trinidad.

1919 – Germany’s Weimar Constitution was adopted.

1945 – Pierre Laval of France surrendered to Americans in Austria.

1964 – The American space probe Ranger 7 transmitted pictures of the moon’s surface.

1971 – Men rode in a vehicle on the moon for the first time in a lunar rover vehicle (LRV).

1991 – U.S. President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

1998 – More than 50 people died in Kashmir due to crossfire between India and Pakistan.

1999 – The spacecraft Lunar Prospect crashed into the moon. It was a mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface. The craft had been launched on January 6, 1998.

 

July 31, 1941

Goering orders Heydrich to prepare for the Final Solution

On this day in 1941, Herman Goering, writing under instructions from Hitler, ordered Reinhard Heydrich, SS general and Heinrich Himmler’s number-two man, “to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.”

Goering recounted briefly the outline for that “final solution” that had been drawn up on January 24, 1939: “emigration and evacuation in the best possible way.” This program of what would become mass, systematic extermination was to encompass “all the territories of Europe under German occupation.”

Heydrich already had some experience with organizing such a plan, having reintroduced the cruel medieval concept of the ghetto in Warsaw after the German occupation of Poland. Jews were crammed into cramped walled areas of major cities and held as prisoners, as their property was confiscated and given to either local Germans or non-Jewish Polish peasants.

Behind this horrendous scheme, carried out month by month, country by country, was Hitler, whose “greatest weakness was found in the vast numbers of oppressed peoples who hated [him] and the immoral ways of his government.” This assessment was Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s, given at a Kremlin meeting that same day, July 31, with American adviser to the president Harry Hopkins.

“Goering orders Heydrich to prepare for the Final Solution.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Jul 2008, 01:15 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6536.

30
Jul
08

World War I French Fighters: SPAD VII and Nieuport 28

SPAD VII

Spad VII

The SPAD VII entered service for the French in 1916 and was the primary French fighter during 1916-1917.  Designed by Louis Bechereau and Marc Birkigt, this fighter aircraft was fast, maneuverable and able to absorb a considerable amount of damage.  However, it only carried one machine gun which left it somewhat under-gunned when dealing with the two gun designs flown by the Germans.  The American volunteer squadron Lafayette Escadrille flew SPAD VII until the end of World War I.

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=268

Nieuport 28

Nieuport 28

The Nieuport 28 was less sturdy and less favored by French pilots, and was the first plane flown by American Expeditionary Force pilots.  The upper wing had a tendency to shred in steep dives and the design was generally considered obsolete by the spring of 1918, causing the American military to understand that if it didn’t have it’s own up-to-date designs, then American pilots would be stuck in the cast-off obsolete designs of its allies.

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=273

For more information about these planes and others see: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/exhibits/

30
Jul
08

On this Day, 7-30-08: Jamestown

First legislative assembly in America

In Jamestown, Virginia, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World–the House of Burgesses–convenes in the choir of the town’s church.

Earlier that year, the London Company, which had established the Jamestown settlement 12 years before, directed Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley to summon a “General Assembly” elected by the settlers, with every free adult male voting. Twenty-two representatives from the 11 Jamestown boroughs were chosen, and Master John Pory was appointed the assembly’s speaker. On July 30, the House of Burgesses (an English word for “citizens”) convened for the first time. Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

The creation of the House of Burgesses, along with other progressive measures, made Sir George Yeardley exceptionally popular among the colonists, and he served two terms as Virginia governor.

“First legislative assembly in America.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Jul 2008, 12:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5219.

 

On This Day

1502 – Christopher Columbus landed at Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras during his fourth voyage.

1733 – The first Freemasons lodge opened in what would later become the United States.

1889 – Vladimir Zworykin, called the “Father of Television” was born in Russia. He invented the iconoscope.

1942 – The WAVES were created by legislation signed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The members of the Women’s Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service were a part of the U.S. Navy.

1945 – The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian. Only 316 out of 1,196 men aboard survived the attack.

1956 – The phrase “In God We Trust” was adopted as the U.S. national motto.

1965 – U.S. President Johnson signed into law Social Security Act that established Medicare and Medicaid. It went into effect the following year.

1974 – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Nixon for blocking the Watergate investigation and for abuse of power.

1975 – Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters union president, disappeared in Michigan. His remains were never found.

1990 – The first Saturn automobile rolled off the assembly line.

1996 – A federal law enforcement source said that security guard Richard Jewell had become the focus of the investigation into the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park. Jewell was later cleared as a suspect.

 

 

Battle of Hooge

In Flanders, Belgium, on July 30, 1915, the Germans put their new weapon, the flammenwerfer, or flamethrower, to devastating use against the Allies at the Battle of Hooge.

The Battle of Hooge represented one of the first major employments of the flamethrower, one of the most feared weapons introduced during World War I. Eleven days before the battle, British infantry had captured the German-occupied village of Hooge, located near Ypres in Belgium, by detonating a large mine. Using the flamethrowers to great effect, along with machine guns, trench mortars and hand grenades, the Germans reclaimed their positions on July 30, 1915, penetrating enemy front lines with ease and pushing the British forces back to their second trench. Though few men were lost to actual burns, a British officer reported later, the weapons had a great demoralizing effect, and when added to the assault of the other powerful weapons, they proved mercilessly efficient at Hooge.

“Battle of Hooge.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Jul 2008, 12:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=830.

South Vietnamese boats raid islands in the Tonkin Gulf

At about midnight, six “Swifts,” special torpedo boats used by the South Vietnamese for covert raids, attack the islands of Hon Me and Hon Ngu in the Tonkin Gulf. Although unable to land any commandos, the boats fired on island installations. Radar and radio transmissions were monitored by an American destroyer, the USS Maddox, which was stationed about 120 miles away.

The South Vietnamese attacks were part of a covert operation called Oplan 34A, which involved raids by South Vietnamese commandos operating under American orders against North Vietnamese coastal and island installations. Although American forces were not directly involved in the actual raids, U.S. Navy ships were on station to conduct electronic surveillance and monitor North Vietnamese defense responses under another program, Operation De Soto. The Oplan 34A attacks played a major role in events that led to what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the Maddox, which had been conducting a De Soto mission in the area. Two days after the first attack, there was another incident that still remains unclear. The Maddox, joined by destroyer USS C. Turner Joy, engaged what were thought at the time to be more attacking North Vietnamese patrol boats. Although it was questionable whether the second attack actually happened or not, the incident provided the rationale for retaliatory air attacks against the North Vietnamese and the subsequent Tonkin Gulf Resolution. The resolution became the basis for the initial escalation of the war in Vietnam and ultimately the insertion of U.S. combat troops into the area.

“South Vietnamese boats raid islands in the Tonkin Gulf.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Jul 2008, 12:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1997.

29
Jul
08

World War I German Fighters: Fokker D.VII

Fokker D.VII

Fokker D.VII

The Fokker D. VII is considered the best fighter aircraft of World War I.

“First entering combat in May 1918, the Fokker D. VII quickly showed its superior performance over Allied fighters. With its high rate of climb, higher ceiling and excellent handling characteristics, German pilots scored a remarkable 565 victories over Allied aircraft during the month of August.” http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=319

This aircraft has the distinction of being the “only aircraft mentioned in the Armistice demands of November, 1918.” http://www.aerofile.info/fokkerd7/d7html/index.html 

This aircraft can be found at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/

29
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-29-08: NASA

NASA created

On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital information about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.

“NASA created.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Jul 2008, 12:32 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52738.

 

On This Day

1588 – The English defeated the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines.

1773 – The first schoolhouse to be located west of the Allegheny Mountains was built in Schoenbrunn, OH.

1890 – Artist Vincent van Gogh died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Auvers, France.

1914 – The first transcontinental telephone service was inaugurated when two people held a conversation between New York, NY and San Francisco, CA.

1957 – The International Atomic Energy Agency was established.

1967 – Fire swept the USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin. 134 U.S. servicemen were killed.

1968 – Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s stance against artificial methods of birth control.

1975 – OAS (Organization of American States) members voted to lift collective sanctions against Cuba. The U.S. government welcomed the action and announced its intention to open serious discussions with Cuba on normalization.

1981 – England’s Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married.

1985 – General Motors announced that Spring Hill, TN, would be the home of the Saturn automobile assembly plant.

1993 – The Israeli Supreme Court acquitted retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk of being Nazi death camp guard “Ivan the Terrible.” His death sentence was thrown out and he was set free.

2005 – Astronomers announced that they had discovered a new planet larger than Pluto in orbit around the sun.

 

Spanish Armada defeated

Off the coast of Gravelines, France, Spain’s so-called “Invincible Armada” is defeated by an English naval force under the command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake. After eight hours of furious fighting, a change in wind direction prompted the Spanish to break off from the battle and retreat toward the North Sea. Its hopes of invasion crushed, the remnants of the Spanish Armada began a long and difficult journey back to Spain.

“Spanish Armada defeated.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Jul 2008, 12:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6973.

Belle Boyd is captured

Confederate spy Marie Isabella “Belle” Boyd is arrested by Union troops and detained at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. It was the first of three arrests for this skilled spy who provided crucial information to the Confederates during the war.

“Belle Boyd is captured.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Jul 2008, 12:22 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2266.

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia exchange telegrams

In the early hours of July 29, 1914, Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his first cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, begin a frantic exchange of telegrams regarding the newly erupted war in the Balkan region and the possibility of its escalation into a general European war.

“Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia exchange telegrams.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Jul 2008, 12:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=829.

Washington wages war on the Bonus Army

The Great Depression sent poverty-stricken Americans scrambling for any available source of income. Veterans of World War I certainly felt pinched, and cast about for ways to haul in cash, but, unlike Americans who hadn’t fought in the war, the veterans seemingly had a solution: in the wake of the war, the government had promised to hand out handsome cash bonuses to all servicemen. The catch was the bonuses were to be paid out in 1945. In dire need of money, veterans called on legislators during the spring and summer of 1932 to speed up payment of the bonuses. In May, a group of veterans from Portland, Oregon, staged the “Bonus March” and headed to Washington, D.C., to plead their case. The March fast became a mini-movement, and by June a “Bonus Army” of 20,000 vets had set up shop in Washington. At first all seemed to go well for the veterans, as the House of Representatives passed the Patman Bonus Bill, which called for the early payment of bonuses. The Senate, however, put the kibosh on the movement and killed the Patman legislation. Though chunks of the Bonus Army fled Washington after the bill’s defeat, a hefty handful of veterans stayed on through late July. President Herbert Hoover ordered the ousting of the vets who had decamped in government quarters. When the eviction proceedings turned ugly, and two veterans were killed, Hoover called on the army to disperse the remaining Bonus protesters. General Douglas MacArthur, and his young assistant Dwight Eisenhower, marshaled troops, tanks and tear gas in their war to send the stragglers home. Duly persuaded by this gross show of force, the remaining members of the Bonus Army headed home on July 29, 1932.

“Washington wages war on the Bonus Army.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Jul 2008, 12:26 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5941.

Japanese sink the USS Indianapolis

On this day in 1945, Japanese warships sink the American cruiser Indianapolis, killing 883 seamen in the worst loss in the history of the U.S. navy.

“Japanese sink the USS Indianapolis.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Jul 2008, 12:28 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6534.

 

I could have gone on flying through space forever.
Yuri Gagarin

28
Jul
08

World War I Aircraft: Fokker Dr I and the Sopwith Camel

Fokker Dr.I

Fokker Dr.I

With the advent of manned powered flight the phrase one if by land, two if by sea of the Old North Church days needed the addition of three if by air.  Initially during World War I airplanes were used for spying over the enemies trenches, until someone got the idea that they could take a gun with them and shoot at the guys spying from the other side.  Eventually someone mounted a machine gun on an airplane and attempted to shoot at his foes.  The best place to mount a machine gun on early aircraft was directly in front of the pilot like in the picture of the Fokker Dr.I above.  Of course that led to the problem of destroying your own propeller with your own bullets while trying to destroy your enemy.  Anthony Fokker solved the problem by introducing an interrupter gear that interrupted the machine gun when the propeller was directly in front of the gun.

Fokker Dr Ib

Anthony Fokker also created the legendary Fokker Dr.I dreidecker.  The three winged configuration was made most famous when Manfred von Richthoven painted his Dr.I crimson red and became known as the Red Baron.  With eighty kills to his credit — the last nineteen he got in Dr.Is, the Red Baron had more kills than any other pilot of World War I.  For more information on this warplane follow this link: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=278

 

Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel

The British proved worthy adversaries for control of the skies over the Western Front during World War I.  The British mass produced the legendary Sopwith Camel, creating an impressive 5,490 of these aircraft.  The Sopwith Camel was nimble, fast and climbed well, but was tricky to handle and more men died learning to fly it than were shot down by enemy aircraft.  In the hands of a veteran pilot this plane was a formidable weapon and could dogfight with the Dr.I.  For more information on this airplane follow this link: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=276

To learn more about these planes and other planes like them follow this link: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/




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