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About This Club

If you're looking for a club about guys walking around with drive-by historical knowledge, look no further. We offer a full selection of drive-by historical knowledge (gluten free options now available). Also, it's a history club guys...talk things of the past. Cover Photo: Fate/Apocrypha, Icon Photo: Operation Tomodachi (Japan Tsunami Relief Effort, 2011)

  1. What's new in this club
  2. Note: History posts by me are now abridged due to a number of different reasons, feel free to join in the conversation to let me know you want more of these posts in the future. Rising to power during World War II, Josip Tito was the communist dictator that held a small territory in the Balkan States together for many years. He would come to the aid of the Allies during the final days of World War II, would stand up against Stalin and his successors, and even periodically provide diplomatic support to the United States. For all intents and purposes, he was a unique individual amongst members of the Soviet Bloc. Yugoslavia, under Titoism, therefore was a modestly flourishing nation. However, under the rosy exterior lay a brooding turmoil that had far outlived any one man. Religious tensions and racism were rampant in the Balkans at the time, and Tito's rule simply squashed it with an iron first. His death on 4 May 1980, therefore, signaled a paradigm shift that would sent Southeastern Europe into chaos. The formal breakup of the former Yugoslavia began in June of 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from their national oversight. Coupled with ongoing fighting in Croatia, pressure was increasing amongst the Yugoslav military and federal ranks. Between June 1991 and March of 1992, three more states would declare their own independence, further weakening the central governments control and effectively abolishing it. Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina were these other three territories. Large amounts of Albanians were stranded in each of these territories as well, with many simply being stuck there. This laid the foundation for future conflicts with war in Kosovo in 1998. By 27 April 1992, SRF Yugoslavia, the last remaining functional component of the Yugoslav government was essentially disintegrated and assimilated into the now individual new nations. The last nail in the coffin for Yugoslavia came in February of 2008, when Kosovo broke off from Serbia formally.
  3. The state of the world on the eve of World War I was a culmination of events that had spiraled out of control over the previous several centuries. The most important components begin during the age of revolution from the late 1770s through the 1850s. From this point, much of the world's boundaries had been re-established. The creation of numerous new nations marked the collapse of old world kingdoms, empires, and colonial assets the world over. With the establishment of new nations that were previously under the thumb of political and military oversight from larger superpowers, a new set of agreements and treaties were established between nations to reinforce their own national security from outside threats. Such alliances and treaties included the Triple Alliance (among the Germans, Austrians, and Italians), the Triple Entente (among the British, French, and the Russians), and the Slavic Alliance (among the Serbians and Russians). Agreements were also in place in the Pacific and the Americas where the Americans and the Japanese co-policed the Pacific against existential threats. Lastly, the collapse of the Roman Empire in the previous generations had left the old Ottoman Empire largely unopposed, but inner turmoil resulted in a fragmented and shaky relationship with its own citizenry. Instability was not limited to the Ottoman Empire, however. Further west, in the Balkans, the region had been destabilized due to conflict similar to the uprisings in the Middle East. Minoritized sects, mostly religious, were being suppressed and silenced in favor of ruling majority - a trend that would continue until the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1992. Austria-Hungary had annexed portions of the Balkans previously in the late nineteenth century, and was recognized as a foreign power. The presence of this power led to an increase in terrorist activity against western and central European entities in the Balkan states. In particular, Serbia took great issue with the Austro-Hungarian presence in Bosnia. The Balkans marked a location where the east met the west. The Austro-Hungarians aided Ottoman resistance within Bosnia during the war of 1878. However, by the early 1900s, the Slavic states of the Balkan territories had established an alliance with its Slavic parent, Russia - who was also angered by the annexing of Bosnia. On a June day in 1914, the presumptive heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Ferdinand, was in the former Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Six assassins from the Black Hand terrorist cell gathered in Sarajevo in a conspiracy to assassinate the Archduke with the intention of reuniting all of the Slavic states. The assassins were all Serbian nationals. The first attempt failed, but by coincidence a second opening presented itself. Gavrilo Princip was the assassin that killed both Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Despite weak public outcry in Austria-Hungary at his assassination, the Emperor was outraged at this violent outburst. By July, it was determined that Serbia was officially behind the attacks and that diplomatic communication and apologies were necessary. When Serbia refused, Germany's agreement with Austria-Hungary was activated. This in turn activated a partial mobilization of Russian forces to support the Serbs. By August, Germany had decried both the Russians and the French to stand down to prevent escalation of the war. However, Germany itself was not drawing down any of its own forces and deploying them on national borders with both countries. When the requests were denied and responded to with continued mobilization, Germany subsequently declared war on both nations. This in turn activated the Triple Entente agreement with Britain by September. By the middle of the war, and the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram, the United States entered the war after a perceived German threat from Mexico and continued unrestricted submarine warfare. This in turn activated the agreement with Japan in the Pacific. Little did the United States know at the time that this would play into the hands of the Japanese later in World War II. Two modifiers to the treaties occurred during the war: the first was the withdrawal of Italy from the Triple Alliance, the second was the withdrawal of Russia from the Triple Entente. Truly, World War I is a clusterpluck of treaties that sat upon a pedestal built on an unstable world full of outrage.
  4. To continue from the header..."and it worked." A couple of weeks ago, I ran a history blurb on the A-10A Thunderbolt II and it's impressive GAU-8 Avenger gun system. The system was wildly successful, and provided a massive amount of damage to an enemy element with little cost (bullets are substantially cheaper than missiles and bombs). Both the A-10 and the F-16 entered design during the Vietnam War, with both aircraft taking to the skies on the tail end of American involvement in Southeast Asia. The United States had taken what it had learned in the war and applied it to its Research, Development, and Engineering (RDE) processes. The A-10 first flew in 1972, and the F-16 followed two years later in 1974. The A-10 was designed to be a close-air-support (CAS) aircraft that directly aided ground forces. The F-16, however, was designed to replace many of the smaller century (100) series aircraft as an air superiority fighter. The A-10 entered service in 1977, with the F-16 following the year after. The success and appreciation of the weapon system of the A-10 was so popular, that the Air Force and the Army wanted to employ it on a larger assortment of aircraft. The F-16, by nature, was originally only fitted with a smaller M61A1 20 mm Vulcan gun system. It was too light to carry a full scale GAU-8, and any attempt to modify the airframe to carry such a weapon ruined it's maneuverability. The demand and mission seeking a smaller system that was able to be fitted to the external hardpoints on the F-16 initiated the same year it was introduced. General Electric was the one who ultimately won the bit for the prototype "Pod, Lightweight, 30 mm, Airborne, Cannon" (Standard Nomenclature). The system was contracted through Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and saw subsequent testing from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The F-16 was the primary aircraft, but other aircraft, such as the F-15 Eagle, were also candidates to carry the weapon system. The development of the 30 mm pod, as well as the main GAU-8 was merged after Fiscal Year (FY) 1975. The pod version of the weapon was to be called the GAU-13, as part of the Improved Aircraft Gun Systems (IAGS) program. The GE pod was officially unveiled to Air Force officials in September of 1977, weighing only 1,500 lbs and capable of firing up to 2,400 rounds per minute. It was not nearly as rapid firing or heavy as the native GAU-8 system, but it did provide a complementary barrage to the F-16's onboard M61A1. The gun was seen as satisfactory, and it did serve on the F-16 through the early 1990s. Poor accuracy was its demise, since the pod had to be carried in such a way that the Heads-up Display (HUD) in the plane's cockpit could not compensate for the correction. As a result, in 1991 - after only a day in combat during Operation Desert Storm (ODS), the pods were removed from all F-16's. They only remained on exported F-5 Tiger II's until about 2005 when they were removed from foreign service as well. The F-16's of today retain the M61A1 20 mm gun system. The GAU-13 was an example of attempting to downsize the GAU-8, but as history has shown, that is difficult if not impossible.
  5. Disclaimer As a historian, I am tasked with the duty of reporting facts. But sometimes stories come along that just hit you in a certain way, it may not be logical, but they just give you a certain vibe. The incident at Dyatlov Pass is one of those stories for me. Fewer tales have given me the creeps quite like this. I found it appropriate to post this story for October, however, it's taking a lot out of me to do so. I've been relying on some fellow members to help me stay light hearted in this posting. Hopefully we complete this tale with some kind of cohesion. The Story Deep in the northern Ural mountains in Russia lies a mountain known as Kholat Syakhl. The name literally translates to the phrase "Dead Mountain." For nine members of the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Ekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk in February of 1959, that would prove to be absolutely true. Taking place during an era of Cold War tension, the team embarked on a skiing expedition across the Northern Ural's. The objective for many of the people was to acquired Level III skiing certifications, with the final destination being Otorten Mountain. Their journey, however, was destined to end approximately six miles north of their intended destination mountain at Kholat Syakhl, a level III difficulty mountain. The leader of the group, who was working on his Level III certification was twenty-three year old Igor Dyatlov. Prior to his disembarkation with his group in January of 1959, he had informed family and friends that he would telegram when they had returned to the populated village at Vizhai. Estimations suggested that this would be on 12 February to as late as 17 February. He departed on 27 January with a group of ten, but one of the members had to turn back due to health complications. The nine remaining members continued on their way towards Otorten. Records were made by the group from 31 January, and weather, tracking, and other data was made available to coordinate the events that happened on 1 February. It seemed as though the group had intended to make their way opposite the pass, but poor weather conditions forced them to camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl - west of their intended destination for the night. The group opted to camp in the open, rather than in a forested area further downhill. This choice was supposedly made to compensate for the altitude gained. However, had the group moved further downhill, they would have been better sheltered from the elements. By 20 February, family and friends had launched a search party for the missing expedition. It was not until 26 February that their campsite was located, however. Remains were found within a day to a few weeks, but the last remains were not uncovered until 4 May. An Unknown and Compelling Force "The tent was half torn down and covered with snow. It was empty, and all the group's belongings and shoes had been left behind." Eight or nine sets of tracks that indicated that people had run either in stockings or a single shoe were seen flowing away from the campsite down the mountain. However, at certain points it seemed that the tracks were deliberately covered. All of the tracks made a run towards the woods. Under a tree, there were remains of what appeared to be a small campfire. Two bodies were found, both in their underwear. Branches were broken relatively high up in the tree suggesting that the duo were looking for something. Three other bodies were located between the camp and this tree, all in such a way that suggested they were returning to the camp. The last four were found in a nearby ravine, all dressed slightly better than the previous group. Of the members of the group, the following causes of death were determined: six by Hypothermia, two from severe chest injury, and one from a fatal skull injury. One of the individuals with a chest injury also had their eyes removed. Another had their eyes, tongue and nose removed. The chest injuries were of such a magnitude that they could only be compared to a car crash, but no other adjacent injuries were visible. One of the hikers was wearing clothing that was determined to be radioactive. It had been initially speculated that native peoples in the region may have killed the members of the expedition, but two factors contribute to this theory being dismissed: no other footprints were found at the site, and the force required to impale the individuals was not of human capacity. In May of 1959, the documents of the case were classified, and the official cause of the incident marked as "death by an unknown compelling force." The case was reopened in 2019 by the Russian government, with the only "acceptable" causes being an avalanche, snow storm, or hurricane force winds. Various theories circulate still on the cause of the strange events that unfolded early in February of 1959, ranging from an Avalanche, to Infrasound, to Military Testing, and even pseudoscientific explanations. Nevertheless, Dyatlov Pass remains one of the unsolved mysteries in the immense space known as Russia.
  6. Yeah, the threads are getting locked up on what I believe is a JS feature in mobile. I alerted Seshi to the issue, but it's impacting more IPS sites than just AF - so a fix will have to get pushed for that by them later. I meant to get some of these ported over to MH today, but that didn't happen...will plan on doing that tomorrow and this weekend in the event that people are looking for the stuff but can't access for some reason. Here's a screenshot in the meantime of the post -
  7. This is unacceotable. Your post is just cut off right here!?!? Also couldn't find it on Moldichavoc <.<
  8. Biographies of the emperor's of Rome were few and far between. Most of them found themselves in the employ of the court, thus making the rules of their masters much more extravagant than they really were. By about 90 CE, Rome had acquired someone who would become the authority on the rules and rankings of the "Twelve Great Caesar's." That man is known as Suetonius, and for many of the emperors he wrote on, he serves as the only contemporary historian that is able to link with the emperors in this age. Rome was a complicated issue in addition to being the primordial center of the world. He writes ad nauseum on the decline of the emperors, marking one in particular as the peak of the downfall: Nero Claudius. Apart from Suetonius' writing, historical documents that were dated to Nero's time alive show his ruthlessness. He was particularly brutal towards the Christians and other non-conforming Roman citizens. The historian Tacitus writes: "Besides being put to death, they were made to serve as objects for amusement; they were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed." Suetonius further wrote: "many abuses were severely punished and repressed, and judgement was passed upon the Christians." Indeed, Rome was anything but holy in it's first and second incarnation. However, Nero's exploits are far from limited to the ruthlessness against Christians. He was "no less cruel to members of his family than he was to strangers", conspirators were subject to being hung by chains, where their children were exiled from Rome and poisoned or forced to starve to death. A classic example of authoritarian dictatorship, Nero was Rome minded - rarely leaving his palace. Only twice did he tour the empire, and these were generally limited to the visiting of Alexandria. Showmanship was a major component of Nero Claudius' rule as well, with near constant extravagant festivals and games. He was fascinated with architecture, but often times made demands that were beyond the means of his skilled craftsmen. Nero was also fascinated with horses and chariots, often appearing in public with a chariot of his own. He was known to race chariots as well, having participated in several races in his youth. Prior to his ascending to the role of emperor, it was not immediately clear the path that he would take. Upon his father's death, Nero had held a rather illustrious funeral. It was supposed that Nero would continue his father's missions, but soon thereafter, Nero began to embark down a path of extravagance over empirical growth. The Roman Empire did not grow or expand beyond its boundaries during Nero's reign, and outlying territories came under excessive economic burden to fund his desires in the capitol. Cited as being a womanizer, a pedophile, a ruthless dictator, and many other choice colorful terms, Suetonius reports that Nero's erratic lifestyle and personality could only be rivaled by Caligula. Nero's death at the age of thirty-two signified the end of the reign of the Caesar's. Rome rejoiced at his death as it signified the end of the oppressive rule that had spanned more than a century. It also signified the birth of a new age, with Galba ascending the throne after Nero's death. Parades, parties, and other festivals were thrown to celebrate both Nero's death and Galba's ascension. So goes the short, and "PG" version of Nero Claudius' tale. Further Reading Suetonius. The Twelve Caesars. 105 CE. Bettenson, Henry; Maunder, Chris. ed. Documents of the Christian Church. Fourth Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 2011.
  9. Hail the Demon King Nobunaga! Interesting that Nobunaga was inspired by Western influence at that time. I know the West has an influence on Japan in modern day, but I never imagined it went as far back as Oda Nobunaga. Cool read!
  10. Introduction Atomic warfare, nuclear doctrine, mutually assured destruction, a dead man's switch, Star Wars, these all are punchlines which highlight the crux of the era we now know as the Cold War. Both of the world's greatest superpowers clashed with one another in a different war that was fought with science and technological advancement. It was a war of the minds, imaginations, and dreams. However, it would be foolish to think that only the sane amongst those imaginations and dreams were the ones to make it to the drawing board. In some cases, this meant that nightmares would become reality. No one can explain such the realization of such horrors better than the people who were suffocating by being alive during thirteen days in October of 1962. Even though these were some of the most tense days in the common era, with being one of the closest moments to a nuclear holocaust, they are not the pinnacle of what truly devilish design arose from the Cold War. That had started in 1957, and would continue until President Lyndon Johnson entered office in 1963. Even so, the thought of such a weapon entered the defense community - a harrowing tale ensues as we examine Project Pluto; "the Devil's dirty secret." The Military Doctrine of the 1950s After the successful deployment of the atomic bomb in Japan in 1945, the doctrine of the U.S. military forces adapted to include atomic weapon systems in their plans and practices. The Truman Doctrine, the foreign policy which highlighted the need for communist containment, added the dimension of defense into American military policy as well. As such, many military weapon systems were deployed for defensive purposes as well. This included atomic weapon systems and later nuclear devices. The first short and medium range devices for use as atomic defensive weapons were the Honest John and Little John rocket systems. The concept was to deploy the weapon systems in areas at risk for Soviet invasion. Should the Soviets break through, these weapons would be used to contain the Soviet forces behind a wall of radiation. Likewise, fallout shielded infantry and cavalry could then be deployed to fight off the invaders. By the mid 1950's, the U.S. Army maintained most of these weapon systems, including the two John systems, and the M65 280 mm Atomic Cannon. Subsequent field artillery systems were designed with the requirement that they fire an atomic shell. This included the retrofitted M101, the M114, and M115. But still, a natural deterrent would be one that could strike with little notice, have a one up against the enemy, and do so with speed while remaining virtually invisible. Applications of Nuclear Devices & Power As early as the 1940s, it was already apparent that nuclear power was capable of more than just sheer destructive force. It was also capable of providing a means of clean and sustainable energy if stabilized. This signified the beginning of research for nuclear power plants, both on a small and a massive scale. The modern design for nuclear power plants comes from this era. In addition, all branches of military were looking for ways to harness this power within dynamic weapon systems, such as aircraft carriers, submarines, ships, planes, and even tanks. If an engine had previously functioned using fossil fuel, the military wanted to know if it was possible to transition it to nuclear power. The issue with any nuclear reactor was stability, however. Turbulence and weight posed a problem in larger aircraft, such as the NB-36. However, smaller designs were still considered plausible. Unconventional Propulsion By the end of World War I, alternative propulsion systems were in the process of examination. The first *jet design (not to be confused with rocket designs) was conceived in the seventeenth century. It was not until 1906, however, that the first of these was designed; the pulsejet. By the time World War II had ended, however, the highest performing engine was arguably the ramjet. The ramjet, however, required a booster phase for the engine to function properly. When boosted to its minimal operating speed of Mach 3, it was capable of achieving speeds that achieved hypersonic thresholds of Mach 5. Some were designed to perform as high as Mach 7. By 1950, the most successful deployment of a ramjet engine remained the German Luftwaffe's Komet aircraft, even with a loss that exceeded 75%. Enter: SLAM The Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile (SLAM) design was conceived by the demand of the United States Air Force's (USAF) demand for a cruise missile weapon system capable of utilizing both nuclear power and ramjet technology to deliver a payload over enemy territory. The order was made on 1 January 1957 for feasibility studies to begin, and research to be funded with the intent to procure materiel and produce such a weapon. The cruise missile would ensure a relatively cheap means to deploy weapons to virtually anywhere in the world with little to no notice, and it would be able to be launched and guided at an elevation that would make it virtually invisible to radar. The missile was designed to launch Multiple Independently Targeted Vehicle warheads (MIRV), enabling the missile to strike multiple targets at the same time. However, the problem was still the need for the ramjet. Testing at Jackass Flatts provided some limited success, with ramjet deployments lasting anywhere between sixteen seconds and five minutes. Reducing a nuclear reactor to the size that was required was a challenge, especially considering the power required by the drivetrain from the powerplant. The short-lived testing of the nuclear powered ramjets suggested that the project would have taken much longer to reach production, however, the Pentagon cancelled the project in 1964 prior to the completion of testing. They cited the reason as the weapon was "too provocative", especially in light of events in Cuba. But what exactly made the SLAM so provocative? The Capabilities of the Flying Crowbar A weapon of brutality, that's what earned SLAM and Project Pluto it's modern moniker of the Flying Crowbar. The weapon was designed with various states of deployment means, however, it's specifications, design, and the time which it was conceived point to a heinous and ethical concern. Let's first talk about the weapon's intent. It's nuclear powerplant meant that it was capable of flying virtually without any range restrictions. That is, the weapon could stay in a state of perpetual flight after it was launched as long as the reactor or payload did not explode or shut down. In a state of heightened tensions, this weapon could be launched and left in a state of flight, say over an ocean, ready to strike at the behest of its operator. Due to the nature of its powerplant and its payload, however, the only way for it to land again - even if there was no need for it to strike - would result in massive nuclear fallout and destruction. It's nuclear powerplant also was not just a powerplant. The use of a nuclear reactor meant that it was capable of melting down and going critical. While in critical mass, the missile would be able to continue its flight, as the reactor would not simply cease to power the powertrain. Meanwhile, the only means of exit of waste and radiation would be through the exhaust of the missile, falling over whatever areas the missile was traversing. In theory, the weapon would be able to jettison it's payload and force a critical mass, thereby causing nuclear explosions but spreading fallout radiation to virtually anywhere. The multiple payload system ensured that multiple targets could be struck with the weapon. Some designs included that up to ten separate MIRV warheads be deployed. By this time, thermonuclear devices had been employed, and multiple Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) had been designed as well. The largest test carried out by the Americans at the time was roughly 15 MT, totally an output of over 150 MT of explosives, three times that of the Russian Tsar Bomba. A "Heart Condition" While SLAM would undoubtedly be a game changer in the Cold War era, it was felt that it was too much of a game changer. Multiple other means of atomic and nuclear deployment were readily available, including the fresh B-52 Stratofortress. The weapon presented a moral and ethical dilemma to those who were examining it in the Department of Defense. Tensions of the Cuban Missile Crisis had brought a stark realization of the dangers of an atomic battle. The weapon was conceivably capable of destroying all life on Earth on it's own. In addition, the risk of it's malfunction en route to its target presented difficulties that the military was unable to reconcile. Later ICBM designs also were deploying MIRV concepts in large quantities. These concepts proved to be just as destructive as the SLAM payload concept, without the risk of runaway vehicles and the chance of single-impact strikes. It did not require the eventual critical mass of a weapons system or long-term nuclear fallout risk. Long-range, deep-penetration bombers were also being deployed, such as the B-58 Hustler which reduced the risk for out-of-control deployment. Conclusion The technology and dangers of SLAM have not totally been removed, despite the projects cancellation and termination in the 1960s. SLAM's concept of MIRV deployment continued in many weapon systems and continues with most cruise missile and ballistic missile designs. Further, nuclear reactors were eventually incorporated into larger naval vessels, such as destroyers and aircraft carriers. Perhaps most significantly, however, is that recently the notion of a nuclear powered missile has returned. The Russian SSC-X-9 Skyfall missile was announced by Vladimir Putin in March of 2018, with a reported failed launch in 2019. It remains unclear, however, what exactly is the tactical use for such a weapon with unlimited range and what potential payload may be on board. However, the original risk of Pluto seems to have been curbed for now, but for how long - only time will tell. Further Readings Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. Penguin Publishing, New York. 2005. Publications for this system are available in limited quantities from the Defense Technology Information Center (DTIC).
  11. Context Japan's history is by no means mysterious to the modern scholar. It's a colorful one, but there's certainly little when it comes to applicable facts that a historian finds himself at odds with. What Japan does provide, however, is an example of how fragmented and warring states can become a unified sovereign entity. Few other examples in history can claim such a distinguished achievement. After all, the modern day examples of the Balkan states and the Middle East are the closest incarnation that we have examples of. These locations are centers of terrorism, military action, and ruthless dictatorships that have enthralled these regions in conflict since the early twentieth century and prior. Japan, however, rose above all of these tensions and conflicts. Not unlike temporal unifications in the past in these aforementioned regions, Japan was unified largely under the single warring path of a single individual. Throughout the empire's vibrant history, entities known as Emperor's (duh) and Shogun's were the focal point of most government in the territory. However, the fragmentation of Japan in the 1400's and subsequent decades, led to many seats of power taking rise in the empire. The focal point of warring in Japan comes to a head in the Sengoku period post-dating the Onin War. By the time the idea of unification had come to a head once again in Japan, virtually every regional authority began to seek a means to be the one to unite Japan. In addition, the late 1400's also brought the advent of gunpowder - a major technological breakthrough that would forever change the face of warfare, not just in Asia, but the rest of the world. Oda Nobunaga Nobunaga is credited as the initial catalyst in the realization of a united (southern) Japan (Honshu). Born in Owari in 1534 (23 June), Nobunaga's early life included immediate exposure to Western culture and constant feuding within the nations borders. Different analysis of historical documents provide a diverse range of opinion for Nobunaga in his early years. All of these culminate in the assessment that he was wildly eccentric, owing to his nicknamed as the "Great Fool of Owari." A better analysis of these claims points to the notion that rather than being eccentric, he was likely less attentive to the rank of an individual in the social hierarchy. As such, one can also appreciate the purported notion of this later leadership being "of the people." Upon the death of his father, and the seppuku of his mentor, Nobunaga ascended to the rank as the ruler of Owari in 1551 at the age of 17. Perhaps more startled at the actions of his mentor, Nobunaga's demeanor saw a notable shift. No sooner had he ascended to the status of a ruler, he then amassed an army of men to put down several revolts within his own territory - including the killing of several of his own family members. This comprised of an eight year period of inter-familial and inter-territorial warring that effectively stripped the Oda clan down to only Nobunaga himself. In 1559, Nobunaga was successfully able to claim total rule over Owari province. Brash in character, Nobunaga then proceeded to concentrate on the border states with Owari. Multiple territories were traversing Owari territory in an attempt to seize Kyoto, the capitol of Japan. Nobunaga's policy, however, disallowed such a trespass. Beginning with the repelling of an army amassed from Suruga, Nobunaga also began to establish himself as a brilliant tactician. By June of 1560, the remaining soldiers in the opposing force had joined the Oda clan, and the Suruga province had effectively come under Nobunaga's control. Over the proceeding twenty-two years, the Oda clan annexed a majority of Honshu, bringing it under a unified and centralized government. Never accepting the title of Shogun himself, Nobunaga continued his campaign. This respect and power, however, came with a hefty price that would eventually have to be paid. A betrayal within his own ranks would lead to his downfall in 1582 at Honno-ji. On 21 June, Nobunaga was forced to commit suicide by his right hand General, Akechi Mitsuhide. Policy Nobunaga's policies in war were unique in Japan for the era. His armies consisted largely of infantry and cavalry armed with matchlock rifles. This was a stark departure from the traditional warring method used in Japan which included a multitude of cavalry and archers. The rule and authority exerted under the Oda clan, including Nobunaga, was generally light handed. Nobunaga is credited with endorsing the building of fields for crops, gardens, and roads. He is credited with many Western law policies being integrated into Japan. In addition to construction efforts, Nobunaga is cited with establishing economic growth policies, a standardization of infrastructure, an increase in domestic and foreign trade, open ports, and basic human rights practices. Legacy By order of the Emperor of Japan, Taisho, on 17 November 1917 - Oda Nobunaga was posthumously assigned the rank of Senior First Rank in the Imperial Japanese Court. He shares this rank with eleven other individuals. As of 19 July 2017, no proven direct descendants from the Oda clan could be verified. The last validated lineage to the Oda clan disappeared sometime in the 1960s, with the last documented trace sometime in the 1880s.
  12. Cursory View Many Soldiers that have returned from the front lines will tell you of the importance of close-air-support (CAS). The A-1 Skyraider fulfilled this role in the Korean War, entering service a year too late for World War II. By the Vietnam War, the F-4 Phantom II had adopted this role with its heavier payload and faster speeds. By the time the Vietnam War ended, the Air Force was looking for a better solution to provide CAS to ground forces while allowing an aircraft to break deep into enemy territory to attack a target. The Air Force was also concerned about the Phantom's inability to stay near ground forces, as jet engines meant the aircraft had poor staying power. Attack helicopters were considered as well, but the poor armoring and limited payload made them insufficient. The result was the A-X Program, ordered on 8 September 1966. By 1972, two prototypes were ready to fly, both of which were built around the GAU-8 30 mm cannon. The first of these was the Northrop YA-9A. The second was what would become the A-10 Thunderbolt II - the "Warthog." The plane first flew against the YA-9 in May of 1972, and with various testing and revisions to the fire control systems, was introduced finally in October of 1977. Designed to withstand a beating, the Warthog is capable of surviving direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles. It is even capable of withstanding a direct hit from surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). The hydraulic system is redundant, enabling manual override of the hydraulics if the system fails. The pilot is protected in the cockpit by heavy duty armor. Called "the tub", the cockpit has been tested against rounds up to 57 mm. The GAU-8 cannon, and the sound of the two GE TF-34 turbofans are signature sounds that any Soldier who has been at the front will tell you "sounds like an angel." With the ability to attack deep into enemy territory, protect forces on the front line, and return with only half of its airframe intact, it is no wonder that the Warthog has remained in service by demand of all military services. The "Brrrrrrt" The signature sound of the GAU-8 30 mm cannon is the calling card of the A-10. Designed to be specifically fitted to the winner of the A-X Program, the GAU-8 gun was designed to be an aerial ordnance system. The idea and concept of the aerial ordnance and artillery platform originated from a U.S. Army Weapons Command (WECOM) concept generated in the 1950s which called for both a fixed wing, variable wing, and rotary wing artillery weapons platform. These evolved into the A-10 Thunderbolt, the V-22 Osprey and AC-130 Gunship, and the AH-64 Apache designs - respectively. The GAU-8 Avenger was longer than a Volkswagen Beatle automobile and was about as tall. The GAU-8 composes the majority of the total weight of the A-10, and is the anchor for the planes center of gravity. When the A-10 was in it's prototype phase, the Avenger was not yet available. As a result of this, Fairchild engineers substituted the 30 mm Avenger with the 20 mm Vulcan. When the plane entered production, all planes were fitted with the Avenger we know of today. The next largest weapons system, the Vulcan, appears on the F-16 Falcon. To date, no other aircraft use a full-sized GAU-8 system. Even the AC-130 only uses a partial system, saving weight for larger artillery pieces on-board. The A-10 is the only aircraft to deploy the original GAU-8 in it's fully functional size.
  13. Introduction The original colony of Roanoke remains one of the most intriguing mysteries in the history of North America. A number of theories have been presented to explain the disappearance of the Roanoke colony. Some of these theories include the integration of the colony into Native American tribes, a northern migration, cannibalism, alien abduction, or Native American attack. The following research paper has been reposted from an academic review that was submitted in May of 2017. The Colony The colony of Roanoke is the older brother of the colony established by Sir Walter Raleigh. There were at least two settlement attempts at Roanoke before it was totally abandoned. The first was in 1585. The colony was abandoned sometime between 1588 and 1590. It was found completely abandoned with no real evidence as to what happened to the inhabitants in 1590. Today, the area that was known as Roanoke Village is in Dare County, North Carolina situated on the northeast coast of the state. Dare County is named for the Dare family, prominent in the colony of Roanoke. The Dare family claimed provenance in the New World with the birth of Virginia Dare - the first English child to be born in the New World. The Research When considering the nature of colonial times in the America’s, we are often presented with stories of interactions with the natives, and warring with other European nations. We frequently forget the mystery that shrouds this world that was entirely unknown to the Europeans. The terrain, climate, inhabitants, wildlife, and the isolation provided by the wilderness all were enough to raise hairs for the new explorer. Within these mysteries, however, are tales and stories for which we have yet to provide a solid answer. One of these stories that garners the interest of many is the lost Roanoke Colony. Before one looks at the potential causes of the disappearance of those in the Roanoke Colony, it’s important to understand a brief history of that colony. Roanoke was situated within the barrier islands of North Carolina in the late sixteenth century. This was done to not only guard the colony from pirates, but to also to remain hidden from them. The barrier islands also provided a wealth of protection from the dangers of the seas. Roanoke largely resembled many other colonies such as Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts. [1] Because of this, it’s important for us to examine these similar colonies. Some of them survived but did so at the cost of their identities. Others were absorbed later by other surrounding villages or destroyed in battles between other nations or the natives. Roanoke, however, remains the colony that has no true sense of closure as to what happened to it. An example of this is the transformation of a town called Dedham, Massachusetts in the 1630s. Dedham was described to have a flourishing Puritan population for the first years of its existence. However, an increase in native populations – some of which practiced general Christianity – led to the decline of the Puritan commune. Conflict arose as a result, but ultimately instead of self-destructing, Dedham transformed into a different kind of community. [2] While it is unlikely that any native population was practicing Christianity in the vicinity of Roanoke, it is possible that conflict with native tribes and failed integration led to the abandonment of the colony. Other colonies, such as Jamestown. were brought to the brink of destruction, narrowly escaping the same fate as Roanoke. The first accounts we have of the Jamestown expedition depict a dangerous place, and while it may not have initially been hostile, such hostilities did blossom there. Famine swept through Jamestown, and the ill-prepared colonists did not plan for the environment nor the climate that was present in Virginia. Because of this, many of them perished. [3] We do know that tensions with the natives arose at Roanoke as well, and while Jamestown survived, this was by an arguably marginal scale. Besides the potential of being sacked by native tribes or competing countries, the matter of harsh or unforgiving climates remains a widely-accepted explanation. The North American continent is home to one of the most diverse climates in the world, something for which early European settlers may have been ill prepared. With a fair amount of analysis, we have been able to determine that there may have been not only a dry and cold winter, but a dry summer as well. [4] uch dry conditions would have made growing crops difficult and could have also shifted wildlife away from the area. Such decline in the availability of food could have led to a widespread famine that either caused settlers to perish, or for them to flee elsewhere in search of food. [5] Famine is mentioned in other colonial records along with harsh or abnormal climate, such as Jamestown, Massachusetts, and Plymouth. Likewise, large quantities of rainfall could account for a decline in food and health as well. An increase in rain could lead to the destruction of crops, the fleeting of wildlife, and the increase in insect activity. While evidence tends to point towards a drought in this region during the time of the Roanoke Colony, [6] it is certainly worth considering climate as a major player in the decline and destruction of the colony. With the risks of high rainfall immediately following such a staggering drought in the 1580s, the risk of flooding on a dangerous scale increased. As Roanoke was an island, it was considerably more susceptible to heavy rains, tides, and even storm surge. Such impacts could have caused settlers to flee or be swept away by the currents. Erosion of the island itself may also be a cause for the decline in Roanoke. This erosion may have impacted potential farm lands and hunting grounds. The widespread nature of flooding and erosion may also explain why the barrier islands and the mainland were not deemed suitable for the immediate resettlement by anyone who may have fled Roanoke. [7] It remains a mystery what truly caused Roanoke’s abandonment, and today we are still searching for these answers. The most comprehensive account for the events that happened at Roanoke is the narrative provided by Ralph Lane. However, scholars are quick to point out that while Lane’s account is the most detailed, it’s also the one that suffers from the greatest problems when it comes to organization. Thus, studying this source creates challenges for understanding the nature of Roanoke. [8] Lane’s role in Roanoke is described as that of overseeing the colony, putting him in a position of power to provide insight on what happened there. He was tasked with establishing the colony as a point of reprieve for English mercenaries moving to steal assets from the Spanish in the Caribbean and Florida. [9] The fact that this was intended to be a post for the smuggling of Spanish goods away from Spain could also lead to a reason for the abandonment of the colony. A pirate attack from the Spanish either due to being pursued to Roanoke, or perhaps even the leaking of Roanoke’s location and purpose could have spelled the end of the colony at the hands of the Spanish. This would have also fit in with the “no peace beyond the line” policy that Europe had adopted after the discovery of the New World. The other account of Roanoke’s activity comes from the governor John White, who described the establishment of the colony and subsequently the report that the colony was missing. White was not present during Roanoke’s demise, however, and therefore conclusive information in his reports regarding the whereabouts of the inhabitants of the failed lost colony never existed. [10] However, White’s reports seem to provide additional context and validation to some claims that are made in Robert Lane’s report. Both seem to describe certain issues in Roanoke regarding native populations [11] and the emphasis on the security of the colony from being sacked by the Spanish. Both Lane and White were commissioned to establish this colony at the request of Sir Walter Raleigh as the first English colony. [12] As such, the understanding that the English had of this world was miniscule to none. Raleigh himself knew little of the dangers that went along with this, hearing only the accounts handed down to him by those from other nations. Likewise, due to the nature of the New World, any reports that may have reached him may not necessarily be accurate for the location that Raleigh was focused on. Ultimately, the fate of the inhabitants of the colony is unknown. White’s return to the colony to restock it led him to discover that it was abandoned and no true evidence to the location of the people was discovered. Haywood Pearce described a quartz stone that was discovered in the 1930s which may provide some minor thoughts about the fate of Roanoke, but the validity of this find is too ambiguous. It is also recognized that the stone that was found may have instead been a tombstone originally. The assumption that is reached by reading the inscription of the stone leads to several potential reasons: famine, sickness, and warfare. [13] All of these seem reasonable, and any one of these things could destroy a colony that had not yet established itself. With the stone being taken lightly, and all other evidence [14] with any value being merely text, it makes truly understanding the fate of Roanoke difficult to comprehend. We can look to analog colonies such as Jamestown for possible scenarios, but these are far from fool proof means of investigation. Colonies such as Dedham give us thought as to what might happen in the event of assimilating the two ethnicities of people, but this does not explain what might happen if the situation in Dedham were reversed. One can only use these analogs as plausible scenarios instead of absolute truths. William Bradford’s description of small pox in Plymouth could have provided some insight as to the chance of sickness befalling Roanoke, but it still does not explain the nature of which the colony was abandoned. [15] Lane’s account leads one to believe that there is a chance the colony could have been sacked by pirates from Spain that followed English pirates from the Caribbean, but this is speculation from a disorganized source. White’s description of conflict with the native population lends evidence to a war with the native Roanoke tribe, this, much like Bradford’s report, does not account for the nature of the abandonment of the colony. This mystery that has spanned more than 300 years remains today, although we are making progress in better understanding of what may have caused the desertion of Roanoke. The climate and terrain of the colony may have been such that it created devastating conditions for the first settlers, and as a result they had to flee to save themselves. Their paths may have had them cross native populations that could have either welcomed them into their communities or executed them. It is still too early to determine for sure if what happened in Roanoke was natural or man caused, but the evidence continues to grow. One thing remains certain, however: the first colonists at Roanoke have never been accounted for, and it remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the New World. FOOTNOTES [1] Albeit at different places in time. [2] Lockridge, Kenneth A. A New England Town: The First Hundred Years. Norton, New York. 1970. [3] Partial detail of this account can be found in Rushforth, Brett; Mapp, Paul W. Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in Documents. New York. 2009. Pp87-90. [4] Stahle, Davie W. “The Lost Colony and Jamestown Droughts.” Science. Issue 5363. 1998. pp564-567. [5] This is also supported by NCEP/NASA data and documents citing the Megadrought of 1580. NASA constructed an article only recently claiming the 1934 drought was worse than the 1580 drought. (https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20141014/) [6] Stahle references drought in the Roanoke and Jamestown regions and flooding in the inter-continental regions at this time. However, it is worth pointing this out for the sake of emphasizing the impact of climate in the region. [7] Dolan and Bosserman explore this potential (and only this potential) in their analysis in Dolan, Robert; Bosserman, Kenton. “Shoreline Erosion and the Lost Colony.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers.1972. pp424-426. [8] Described in Donegan, Kathleen. “What Happened in Roanoke: Ralph Lane’s Narrative Incursion.” Early American Literature. Volume 48, Issue 2. June 2013. p285. [9] Ibid. p286. [10] Described as context in Pearce, Haywood J. “New Light on the Roanoke Colony: A Preliminary Examination of a Stone Found in Chowan County, North Carolina.” The Journal of Southern History. May 1938. pp151-152. [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. pp152-154. [13] Ibid. pp149-150. [14] It is unclear as to whether or not any clues were actually left for the White resupply expedition or if these were fabricated after the fact. [15] Rushforth, Brett; Mapp, Paul W. “William Bradford Describes an Outbreak of Small Pox.” Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in Documents. New York. 2009. p30.
  14. 45 remain in tact. Far fewer are operational, with that number fluctuating wildly over the course of the years.
  15. Preface Originally I was going to compose a subject that would take us into the spooky month of Halloween with some mystery content. It would have been dealing with Roanoke. Unfortunately, for people in the aeronautical community, historical community, and Collings Heritage Foundation, today was a horror in a different way. Earlier today, a B-17G "909" crashed on takeoff at an airport in Connecticut. There were two confirmed deaths with several others injured. It has been a tough year for warbirds, with the loss of other aircraft earlier this year, including one that was the last surviving design of its kind. With this in mind, I decided to run a Quick Fact story on the king of the skies in Europe: the B-17 Flying Fortress. The Boeing Model 299 - that was the moniker that was the center of Boeing's manufacturing and development centers in the early and mid 1930s. The United States Army was beginning to see an increased need for the coverage of the skies and airpower. Rallied by a court-martialed officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps, air power up to this point was not taken seriously by the U.S. military as a significant need in the future. By the mid 1930s, however, that was seen to be simply untrue. The U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) had in it's arsenal, the Martin B-10 bomber, a dual engine medium range bomber. However, the advancement in anti-aircraft defense mechanisms and the need for increased range meant that the B-10 would be far too heavy and cumbersome for a future conflict. Thus, in 1934, the USAAC outlined the need for a replacement of this heavy monster. Much like in today's world, the USAAC decided that it would be best to select the future aircraft by way of a fly-off between two models. This contest took place on 28 July 1935 against the Martin Model 146, and a Douglas entry. The USAAC decided that the Model 299 was the best candidate for the requirements outlined: top speed of at least 200 mph, a range of around 2,000 miles, and a service ceiling of at least 10,000 feet. The Model 299 would surpass all of these requirements. After a rocky start, with the first prototype crashing on it's second flight on 30 October 1935, the USAAC opted to give the Model 299 a green light in January of 1936 - and thus the B-17 Flying Fortress was born. Boasting a top speed of just under 300 mph, a range of 2,000 miles, and a service ceiling of 35,000 feet, the B-17 was an impressive design that the USAAC could simply not ignore. Little did they know at the time of what was in store for this aircraft in the future. The B-17 Flying Fortress was one of two primary American bombers to be deployed in Europe during World War II. Over 12,000 of the aircraft were produced by the time the war ended, and some national Air Forces retained the bomber in operational status up through the 1960s. The B-17 was the primary executing bomber tasked with the mission within the scope of the Combined Bomber Offensive. In addition, dozens of surviving B-17's continued service in the USAF as drones in the form of the QB-17 through the 1950s. Today, the majority of surviving B-17's are the G variant. Many perform at air shows around the United States. Several participated in heritage flights in France during the World War II commemoration ceremonies this past year. Of the 12,000 aircraft produced, only 45 remain today.
  16. Introduction & Disclaimer This coming August (2020) will mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. These two weapons of incredible and mass destruction are credited with forcing the closure of hostilities in the Pacific Theater, and thus ending World War II. It is without a doubt one of the most horrifying tales of human nature that exists to many. However, history tells us of many more gruesome tales during World War I, II, and the years that followed. The atomic bombings have remained a cornerstone of ethical debates in many academic circles since they were used in 1945. One would assume that such a massive loss of life could never be justified. But could it? Was it? Was the decision to use such a weapon made as lightly as so many people seem to think it was? It certainly wasn't, and many historians agree that rather than being an ethical hairball, the decision to use the atomic bomb was actually one that saved more lives than it took. Certainly, Robert Oppenheimer may not have agreed when he described himself as someone akin to Vishnu, becoming death "the destroyer of worlds." While ethical debates on the lasting effects of the bomb are certainly valid, casualty and injury relations to the bomb have never surpassed the estimated numbers for invasion. We could certainly sit here all day and chat on this, but the facts remain that the casualty rates in the Pacific Theater were capped by the use of the weapon, not inflated. The Targets Prior to the dropping of the bombs, the Army had specified a list of targets to deploy the weapon. This was reinforced when B-29 Stratofortresses were forward deployed to Tinian Island in the Pacific. Tinian operated as the main forward deployment base for all B-29 operations in the Pacific, and subsequently accounted for more than sixty percent of all Allied Bombing Operations from 1944 onward. The targets selected were to be strictly military based, according to President Truman. However, in the case of Japan, one may argue that any citizen was considered a military target. This was particularly true in states where the Bushido Code was practiced (virtually all of the home island villages and cities). As was customary, the Americans dropped leaflets encouraging citizens to flee the city ahead of the bombing run. The Weapon The aptly named "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" were very large atomic bombs that had very large chases. These bombs weighed a hefty 10,000 pounds. Each bomb was designed to yield around 21 kilotons of TNT equivalent. By comparison, the largest nuclear device to ever be used, the Tsar Bomba yielded 50 megatons of TNT equivalent - over 2,000 times more powerful than the Japanese atomic bombings. The Fat Man bombs were the product of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico. About 120 total bombs were made. In August of 1945, however, only two bombs were available. In a letter between forward deployed elements and the War Department, however, up to five bombs would be available by the middle of September. Some sources indicated a third bomb would have been ready to deploy as early as 20 August. Truman had hinted to Stalin earlier at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, that the U.S. was in possession of a "terrifying new weapon." He was to ask Stalin for Soviet aid to bring hostilities to a close in the Pacific Theater. However, by this time, Stalin was well aware of the development occurring at Los Alamos - he just wasn't sure how to bring all of the pieces together - and wouldn't until 1949. The Aircraft The aircraft charged with delivering the weapons were two heavily modified B-29 Stratofortress aircraft. The Enola Gay was the most notorious of the two, tail number 44-86292. She and her crew would deliver the payload over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. The second, and lesser known B-29 was the Bockscar, tail number 44-27297. Bockscar was the aircraft that would deliver the payload to Nagasaki on 9 August. Both aircraft had almost all of their instruments stripped, and the bomb bay doors were left open to straddle the weapon in place. Several other B-29's were operating in the vicinity of the two targets on the day of the attack. These other aircraft provided the remote instrumentation, weather check, and spot checking for the loaded B-29's. Both of these B-29's are on display in museums today. The Bombings Prior to the bombings, parts of the weapon were shipped to Tinian Island where they were assembled. This was to reduce the risk of espionage and sabotage from spies operating in the region. From there, the aircraft were loaded with the weapon and set out to strike their targets. Hiroshima was selected as a target due to its military and industrial importance to the Japanese. Multiple Imperial Army divisional headquarters were situated at Hiroshima, as well as many naval facilities - including the submarine production facility. Other industry included parts for guns, field artillery, aircraft, and personal items for the Imperial Japanese Forces. As such, Hiroshima was a high value target. On 6 August 1945, B-29's set out for Hiroshima with orders to deliver their payload on clear weather. If weather was not clear, they were to strike Kokura or Nagasaki instead. At about 0700 hours, the B-29 Straight Flush reported to Enola Gay that cloud cover was partial, this triggered an air raid warning for Hiroshima, but that warning was lifted after Straight Flush cleared the area at 0709. The bombing run started at 0809, and at 0815 - Little Boy was released from the Enola Gay. The bomb fell for 44 seconds descending from 31,000 to just below 2,000 before detonating. Crosswind caused the bomb to drift 800 feet off target from a bridgehead and caused the weapon to detonate over a surgical center instead. Nagasaki had been selected due to it's status as a large seaport city. The ports allowed for numerous resupply operations throughout the Pacific Theater for both the Imperial Army and Navy. Likewise, it also was a prepositioned area for war materiel. Industry and manufacturing were plentiful in Nagasaki as well, and for this reason made the city a valuable target for an air raid. On 9 August 1945, Bockscar along with her sister B-29's set out from Tinian on what would be the second and last atomic bombing run on Japan. Their destination was the city of Kokura, with Nagasaki being the backup plan. Various delays in the spotting and bombing raids on other targets made the attack run on Kokura impossible. Heavy anti-aircraft fire around Kokura also proved to be perilous, resulting in the target acquisition phase of the mission to be aborted. The bombers then proceeded towards Nagasaki. Air raid sirens went off at 0750, but all clears were sounded by 0830. The Japanese spotted two B-29's at 1053, but assumed them to be recon planes, thus ignoring them. However, one of these B-29's was Bockscar. A last minute break in the clouds just moments before the mission was aborted allowed the crew to manually site the target, and the bomb - Fat Man - was dropped at 1101. Due to the rushed nature of deployment, the weapon detonated well away from the intended target area - over a tennis court. The Stance of the United States The United States wanted an unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese forces. This was due to the nature of the Japanese fighting on the home islands and on the occupied islands in the Pacific. Unless the surrender was unconditional, it was feared with reason that the Japanese would continue fighting - including civilians - to the last man. In an address to the public on 7 August, Truman addressed the nation and indicated that the U.S. was prepared to rain fire down on the Japanese with the likes of fury never seen before. That the U.S. had taken a $2 BN gamble on the atomic project, and won. In the Japanese surrender notice, Emperor Hirohito stated that the Japanese faced a grim reality: surrender, or faced the total annihilation of the Japanese and perhaps the entire world. Subsequently, just days after the bombing of Nagasaki, the Japanese accepted the terms of unconditional surrender - closing hostilities formally in the Pacific Theater and ending World War II. Tactical Reasons The United States had previously rallied to the Soviet Union for aid in the Pacific at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. However, Truman did not fully trust Stalin. Likewise, occupation issues were already beginning to arise in Europe, and Truman feared that if the Soviets were allowed to aid in the invasion, they would seek to annex any territory they claimed. As a result, Truman wanted to close hostilities before Stalin could get fully involved in the war and deploy a landing force. This did not stop the Soviets from declaring war on the Japanese in August of 1945, however, and the war declaration should be cited as another reason for the closing of Japanese hostilities. Casualty Reasons Military analysts from Japan, the United States, and Russia have all concluded and confirmed what the mode of battle would have looked like had the bombs not been used. The casualties mounted from the bombings ranged from between 130,000 to 275,000. However, the casualty numbers for Operation Downfall - the invasion of the Japanese home islands - and the subsequent operations in Japan dwarfed these. Downfall was projected to include almost fifty million combatants - thirty-one million of them were civilians. The casualty rate was projected to be between 60-75% by the close of operations. To put this in another way, about half a million purple hearts were manufactured in anticipation of the operation - that's more than all American casualties from war in the years spanning from 1945 to present. Truman was charged with the concern for American lives, first and foremost. The use of the atomic bomb allowed few Allied losses. In total, there were twelve Allied casualties in exchange for the surrender of the Japanese forces. Twelve men was a more palatable number than the estimations he was receiving from his closest war planners. Likewise, the lives of many more Japanese civilians were also at stake, had the operation continued. To this date, historians are in agreement that in the grand scope of the wartime operations: the deployment of the atomic bombs was, comparatively speaking, the more humane route of action in the decisions presented to Truman in August of 1945.
  17. Introduction At the request of @brycec - this topic was brought up in my queue. Over the course of the Cold War, world powers found themselves constantly at odds with each other. Nuclear testing was rampant. Atomic research was unchecked. Safety procedures were limited. The name of the game was espionage, spying, and various other forms of information gathering. After all, this was the definition of the Cold War: a war in which we spent countless time, money, manpower, and resources to one up the other. While certainly not the only definition, this defines one of several key components of the Cold War. The Space Race added another dimension to this, but despite the fact that satellites in theory could be launched, the most reliable form of intel gathering was using aircraft. The United States, CIA, Air Force, and DARPA, flew countless missions over the Soviet Bloc. Unfortunately, one of them didn't go quite as planned. DISCLAIMER The contents of this post do not reflect any official commentary from the United States government. Documents referenced include security identifiers. All documents are now either marked as (U) Unclassified or (P) Public, for public use and release. The Plane The aircraft in question in the incident was a U-2C Spy Plane, aptly named the Dragon Lady, tail number 56-6693. The U-2 is a large aircraft with an absolutely incredible and distinguished wing profile. Capable of flying at extreme altitudes of over 75,000 feet and over 6,000 miles in distance, many aspects of the aircraft remain classified. The aircraft was designed based on a glider design. In many cases, the aircraft required precision handling, as the wings were prone to snapping off. In addition, at cruising altitude, the aircrafts stall speed and maximum speed were anywhere from 1 to 6 miles per hour apart. This meant that the pilot had very little room for error when he was at altitude. On landing, the resistance generated by the wings would sometimes cause the plane to hover at the end of the runway. A single wheel was on the underbelly of the plane, meaning the plane had to teeter and balance itself on its belly on landing. On takeoff, the wheels on the wings broke away, as any modifications to the wings could cause them to snap off. The Incident On 1 May 1960, Captain Francis Gary Powers was in his routine flight pattern above Soviet airspace in his U-2C, tail number 56-6693. This U-2 was under ownership of the CIA. His route was to take him through the Eastern Soviet Union, overflying numerous Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) sites, Surface-to-air Missile (SAM) sites, and enrichment sites for atomic weapons. These were routine flyovers that were designed to observe the movement of war materiel, and examine Soviet capabilities. The same practices were used to determine action later during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But on 1 May 1960, no such event had transpired. It was business as usual. The U-2's were designed to fly higher than SAM sites could reach, leaving them generally undisturbed. However, the Soviets had other thoughts in mind with new and improved anti-air defense technology. Soviet officers were ordered into the skies in MiG-19 aircraft, and given the command to ram the aircraft if necessary. However, due to the operating altitude of the aircraft, this proved to be impossible. All things seemed to be going according to plan aboard Powers' craft, until he entered the region covered by new SA-2 SAM sites. One of the three SAM sites successfully launched a volley that connected with Powers' plane, forcing him to eject and trash the plane. In the process, however, the Soviets intercepted at least one of their own MiG-19's in the volley. The MiG-19 was destroyed, and the pilot was killed. Powers landed in Soviet territory and was immediately captured. Despite this, the Soviets continued to believe the aircraft was still airborne for over a half hour after the plane had hit the ground. Powers would eventually be released back to the United States. He served 19 months of jail time in the Soviet Union before he was traded by Americans in exchange for a Soviet spy. The incident highlighted the need for higher flying and faster aircraft, eventually leading to the demand for the program that would birth the SR-71 Blackbird. The U-2 continues to fly various missions in different capacities for the USAF and NASA today.
  18. Yes, it very much could have been. This was not the only incident with B-52's and their payload either. Palomares drew more attention to the deterring operations. It's been my stance that incidents of misplaced/lost nuclear arms were the larger reasoning behind the SALT treaties rather than international outcries against atomic testing. After all, losing the weapons and military assets are extremely expensive and risk major international ramifications. But that's a thought for a different day, I suppose.
  19. Thanks for the short history lesson.. I had no idea we had such a blunder overseas. I’m glad it wasn’t catastrophic- as you’ve said only loss was to the pilots and a few livestock. Could have been much worse.
  20. Introduction One would certainly hope that we have always had a lock down on nuclear weapons, right? After all, the most powerful nations in the world wield these destructive weapons. However, the nature of these weapons wasn't exactly well understood on the birth of the technology. That's evident enough in the use of tactical arms on the front lines, and the idea of keeping enemies at bay behind walls of radioactive fallout. Meanwhile, we were selling tickets to atomic bomb tests in the middle of the Nevada desert. Sound reasoning, no? Unfortunately, it didn't stop there. There were a number of incidents in the 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1970s that involved damage or even loss of atomic weapons. The most notorious of these incidents is the Palomares Incident. The Plane The aircraft involved was a B-52G Stratofortress, tail number 58-0256 on a flight route that was typical for the nuclear deterrent mission that was ongoing in the Mediterranean region. Refueling of the aircraft was to take place near the coast of Spain en-route and on departure from the area. As was typical of the mission, the B-52 crew was carrying four hydrogen bombs in the weapons bay. The B-52 was set to refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker. Both aircraft are substantially large, and both remain in service today. The B-52 was built specifically for the purpose of carrying heavy payloads long distances. Payloads, such as hydrogen bombs, were particularly heavy and required a much larger weapons bay than could be offered by smaller aircraft. The aircraft had the ability to travel large distance, but required multiple in-air refuelings in order to successfully complete a mission, thus the need for the KC-135. The KC-135 was also a very large aircraft, with the dedicated mission of refueling aircraft in the air and eliminating the need for an aircraft to land to resupply. Unfortunately, on the morning of 17 January 1966, these two planes would collide in mid-air during what should have been a routine refueling mission. The Incident On the morning of 17 January 1966, the B-52G carrying tail-number 58-0256 overshot its approach to the KC-135 tanker. A typical call to break away was not received by the B-52 crew, resulting in an impact. The KC-135 was almost immediately engulfed in flames after fire ignited the fuel reserves in the aircraft. The B-52 was damaged severely with it's left wing having been ripped off in an explosion, and control of the aircraft was lost, forcing the crew to eject. Meanwhile, the four hydrogen bombs were still on board the aircraft. The wreckage fell near the town of Palomares, Spain where three of the bombs also fell to earth. In two of the three multi-stage bombs, the conventional warhead detonated. This caused an explosion which spread radioactive material in the region. All three of these were recovered shortly after the impact. The fourth bomb was not immediately located, as it's parachute had deployed in freefall. The wind currents that day suggested the bomb had drifted out to sea. It was not until 2 April 1966 that the bomb was identified at a depth of about 3,000 feet that it was recovered. All of the crew on board the KC-135 died moments after impact. Three crew aboard the B-52 also died, while the other four were severely injured. The accident was reported immediately by a second B-52 that was in the area, and the resulting response time was relatively short for this reason. However, despite the rapid response, as of 2006, traces of contamination remain in the region of Palomares. The incident remains one of the greatest operational blunders of the U.S. Air Force.
  21. Quetzalcoatl has several pronunciations, but the accepted one is Kwetz-al-co-at. You can either pronounce the l at the end or leave it silent. Different dialects use the L differently.
  22. An awesome read! Only one question... How do you even pronounce Quetzalcoatl? I've always said kwets-ah-cote-uhl, but I have no idea if that's actually right.
  23. Introduction Most recently, the tale of Quetzalcoatl was brought to my attention in a setting where I was not expecting. Far detached from the legends, Quetzalcoatl has fallen into a legacy of mismatched history. This is an unsettling trend that seems to be rampant in the history of Mesoamerica. From the destruction of Tenochtitlan by the construction of Mexico City, to the incorporation of sacred lands of Teotihuacan, Mesoamerica faces a grim future in the realm of history. The destruction of history, sadly, is not limited to just the physical manifestations, but also to the legends and the tales that stem from a culture long lost. In this take on Mesoamerica, we will be focusing on the chief deity of Nahua: The Winged Feathered Serpent Himself, Quetzalcoatl. Geographic Origins Quetzalcoatl's origin traces to the ancient city of Teotihuacan (Tay-oh-tee-wa-kahn) around the first century BCE. It is situated north-northeast of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan (Ten-o-chu-teet-lahn) - the modern day Mexico City. The modern geographic association with the city of Teotihuacan is approximately near San Juan, about half way between Meixco Highway 132 and 132D in the greater Mexico City metropolitan area. Teotihuacan's ancient geography, however, was dominated by the presence of a dormant volcano situated at the rear of the town. There were a series of chief pyramids and temples that were constructed along a main-roadway that curved in multiple dimensions (X & Y). This road was called the Avenue of the Dead, and it was the central way of commerce through the main square of the city. Two chief pyramids were located on this highway, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon. The third temple, was the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, later to be known as Quetzalcoatl. Placement The Feathered Serpent has no fewer than twenty different annotations and depictions across all of the Mesoamerican region and culture. This includes murals, sculptures, and scripture (to include codex, almanacs, and pottery). The Feathered Serpent varies in rank within the pantheon of Mesoamerican deities, depending on the era and culture that is being examined. In some instances, he is interchangeable between two other gods within the polytheistic pantheon. In other's - as Quetzalcoatl - he is the sole divine entity, above all other spirits in a monotheistic structure. In every case of the Feathered Serpent, or Quetzalcoatl's depiction, he has divine status that he often holds on his own. The Feathered Serpent appears in several name definitions: Quetzalcoatl (as most associated with the Mexican (Meh-she-cah) Aztecs), Kukulkan, and Tohil. The Serpent The serpent was a legendary creature to the Nahua people. It was a manifestation of the ups and downs in life in all of it's forms: happiness and sadness; grief and triumph; nourishment and depravity; flourishing and depletion. As such, the serpent was seen as the life cycle of life, and the Feathered Serpent was the chief deity to guide souls along this path from birth to the grave and beyond. The Nature of Quetzalcoatl For the purposes of this topic, we will focus on Quetzalcoatl specifically. Depending on which legend is referenced, Quetzalcoatl was born between a union of the God of Hunting, and the Goddess of Fertility. He had at least one sibling, who was the God of Death - for this reason, Quetzalcoatl is often attributed as the God of Life. In the astrological study, Quetzalcoatl aligns with the Planet Venus. By nature, he is seen as an even tempered deity that commands the wind, and also provides knowledge. The implications of Quetzalcoatl's status as the distributor of knowledge, suggests that he is the deity to appear to shaman's during ceremonies. Most often in these ceremonies, shaman would communicate with the souls of the dead or a liaison thereof that took the form of a feathered serpent. Quetzalcoatl appears both as a feathered serpent, but also has a humanoid form. He is often seen with a large headdress, fully decked out in jade - a highly sought after rock found in the region. His full regalia would have closely resembled what tribal leaders would wear. He carries a spear, similar to an atlatl throwing device. In all zoomorphic depictions, Quetzalcoatl and his similar cousins all are depicted as feathered serpents that share a rainbow coloration. Most of these depictions retain the headdress on the serpent to establish legitimacy of Quetzalcoatl's status as a deity. Worshiping Methods As with many Mesoamerican religions, the worship of Quetzalcoatl involved some physical attributes. This varied in ways from purpose to purpose and tribe to tribe. The most frequent form of worship was through the means of mutilation (sorry readers, but it was usually genital mutilation). Sacrifices were uncommon, but sometimes practice, largely varying on the ailment and tribe. Typical interactions utilized various herbs and beverages to push a shaman into a psychedelic state. The most common was smoke inhalation. Other methods included the ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms. Attributes In Aztec culture, Quetzalcoatl is the boundary between the Earth and the heavens. As such, he has direct control over anything that rides on the wind, including the position of the Sun, Moon, and stars; heat and cold; rain and drought. This coincides with the depiction of him serving as the God of Wind. However, in other depictions, Quetzalcoatl may direct rain, but it is up to another God or Goddess to provide whatever is on the wind. For example, in Mayan culture, the Moon Goddess (also referred to as Goddess O) was the one who brought rains. In none of the depictions of Quetzalcoatl is he depicted as particularly vengeful or wrathful, excluding the militant depictions of him. However, it is still not confirmed if these depictions are of Quetzalcoatl or another feathered serpent deity, such as Xolotl. Conclusions This essay was not designed to make claims to the validity of Quetzalcoatl, but rather to put emphasis on the associated legend attached to Quetzalcoatl and the ancient expectation or association with him. Likewise, no two sources seem to agree on the true interpretation of the Feathered Serpent, just as no two tribes agreed on the significance of this entity. Quetzalcoatl remains chiefly an Aztec deity, despite his appearances elsewhere up through 1450 CE. Research continues into the nature and legacy of Quetzalcoatl - however, due to the destruction of Tenochtitlan, this legend is all but lost. The legend of the Feathered Serpent from the era predating the Mexican Aztecs, on the other hand, remains to be seen as to whether it will ever be solved, as the cities of Teotihuacan, Tikal, and others continue modernization. Priority Bibliography Berdan, Frances. Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society. Second Edition. Cenegage Learning, New York. 2004. Coe, Michael D. Breaking the Maya Code. Third Edition. Thames & Hudson. 2012. Coe, Michael D. The Maya. Ninth Edition. Thames & Hudson. 2015. Miller, Mary Ellen. The Art of Mesoamerica. Fifth Edition. Thames & Hudson. 2012. Schele, Linda; Miller, Mary Ellen; et al. The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art. George Braziller, Inc. 1992. Tedlock, Dennis (ed.) Popol Vuh. Definitive Edition. Touchstone. 1996.
  24. The Quick Fact ones are difficult to do the categorization simply because it's almost word vomit. lol I've had to do this lately simply because there has been a steady stream of "SHTF" at work lately. This particular one ended up being a bit longer than I was kind of hoping for. I'll take a look at some of the others though. Some of these are old enough that there's no real good photo use. I've considered using the mapping software I use at work for these writeups, but I'd have to reduce their frequency - and right now, I really just wanted to get the group back to life again. Noted though, and when I revisit these Quick Facts later for full posts, I'll look into all of these suggestions. Will make sure on the future main-line topics to include a few of these though.
  25. Hey @The History Kid, just caught up on the entries since my arrival. I enjoyed reading them! Just a few suggestions, though. Include pictures, especially of the geographical areas. When I know where an event had taken place, it makes it easier to associate and grasp it as something that had actually happened. Having pictures of weaponry or people may not be possible, but would definitely be helpful, too. It would be nice if you listed some sources. I have no doubts you're an expert, but citing references is never a bad thing. Just saw this post, so scratch that, I guess. Categorizing your information makes it more digestible. You're already doing this by separating your paragraph, but maybe having something such as title headers for each chunks of information would take it a step higher. For example: ...Or perhaps something similar like that. Hope I wasn't too nitpicky! Looking forward to your next entries.

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