Saturday, March 31, 2007
We finish this week with five articles on the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the most important American fighter aircraft of the Pacific War. The Hellcat was responsible for 75% of all victories claimed by US Navy and Marine Corps pilots, making it the aircraft that was most responsible for winning air supremacy over the Pacific during 1944.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The EMBRAER T-25 is was a two person military trainer produced in Brazil. The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior was a carrier based strategic attack bomber that had a longer career as a in-flight refueling tanker, and was famous for the lack of ejector seats. The Sukhoi Su-15/ 21 ‘Flagon’ was the most important Soviet fighter during the 1970s.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The B-25 Mitchell was one of the most successful medium bombers of the Second World War, serving in most theatres of the war, but especially in the Pacific. The basic design was also modified to produce a powerful ground attack aircraft, ideally suited to attack Japanese jungle strongholds.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the only modern single engined fighter in Luftwaffe service at the start of the Second World War. In the first year of the war it swept aside all opposition, and it was only when the Bf 109 came up against the Spitfire that it met a true equal. The Bf 109 probably reached its peak in 1941, with the Bf 109F, but lack of a suitable replacement meant that the aircraft had to fight on against ever increasing odds to the end of the war.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
We finish the second week of our air war theme with a look at the air show as propaganda. During the Cold War the air show became another field of battle in the contest between East and West, with each new aircraft used in an attempt to prove the superiority of one bloc or the other.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Three main French-built fighter aircraft faced the Luftwaffe in 1940. The Bloch MB-152 was probably the least successful of them, ordered into production largely because of delays to more promising aircraft. The MB-152 was the third and main version of the aircraft, after the original MB-150 was found to be unsuited to mass production and the MB-151 underpowered. A variety of attempts were made to improve the aircraft. The MB-153 and MB-154 were designs that used more powerful engines. The MB-155 was a lighter, better armed aircraft that had entered production before the French collapse. The MB-156 was a similar aircraft using a more powerful engine. Finally, the MB-157 was designed specifically to use that engine, the Gnome & Rhone 14R radial, and was by far the fastest French fighter of its time, with a potential top speed of over 440mph. Sadly work on the MB-157 had only reached a very early stage when it was captured by the Germans.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Handley Page Hampden was one of the trio of twin engined long range bombers available to Bomber Command at the start of the Second World War. A perfectly acceptable night bomber by the standards of 1940, the Hampden was withdrawn in favour of bigger and better aircraft. The Handley Page Hereford was a failed attempt to provide an alternative source of engines for the Hampden, using Napier Dagger which proved to be unreliable in use.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Gloster Gauntlet was a typical example of the type of biplane fighter that was designed in the 1920s. It was the predecessor of the Gloster Gladiator, the final biplane fighter to see R.A.F. service, and an aircraft that made a valiant contribution in the early years of the Second World War.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Our first two biographies today, with two First World War aces. Robert A. Little was Australia's leading ace, scoring 47 victories before his death in 1918. L. G. Hawker, L. G., VC, DSO. was the first British ace of the First World War, winning the Victoria Cross. He was eventually killed by Baron von Richthofen in 1916.
Monday, March 19, 2007
We start another series, on the fighters of the US Navy and Marine Corp, with the Grumman F4F Wildcat. This was the most modern fighter aircraft available to the US Navy when it entered the Second World War, and remained the most important fighter for eighteen months, fighting at Midway and on Guadalcanal. In eleven articles we cover the development and service record of this fighter. We also add four pictures of the Martlet and side, top and front plans of the Wildcat.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
We begin a look at the aircraft of RAF Bomber Command with the Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley, the heaviest bomber available to the RAF at the start of the Second World War. We also take a look at the same company's Albemarle, originally developed as a bomber, but actually used as a glider tug.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Seven articles on the main variants of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 today. The Bf 110 began life as a "destroyer" or Zerstörer, a heavy fighter that was expected to sweep the skies clear of enemy fighters. It performed this role successfully in Poland, Norway and for most of the battle of France. However, once the Bf 110 encountered the Spitfire and Hurricane in numbers over Dunkirk it quickly became clear that it was outclassed by the nimble single engine fighters. Despite failing in its initial role, the Bf 110 was forced to fight on until the end of the war, becoming a reasonably successful night fighter.
One reason the Bf 110 had to fight on for so long was the failure of the Messerschmitt Me 210, the aircraft designed to replace it. After a brief service career this aircraft had to be withdrawn. A first attempt to salvage the project resulted in the Me 310, a proposed high altitude fighter/ bomber, but it was not until the appearance of the Me 410 in 1943 that this type entered service in any significant numbers.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Two early jets today - the De Havilland Vampire, a British jet that was conceived and first flew during the Second World War, although entered service just too late to take part in the fighting, and the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, the longest lived of the "Century" series of fighters, serving from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Monday, March 12, 2007
We begin our air war theme with a series of seventeen articles on the Supermarine Spitfire, probably the most famous aircraft of the Second World War. The Spitfire appeared just in time to play a crucial part in the Battle of Britain, and remained a top quality front line fighter for the rest of the war. Our coverage includes articles on each of the main versions, a look at the standardised wings used on the aircraft and a timeline for the Spitfire.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Back to the Boer War with a look at the Great Flank March of February-March 1900. This was Field Marshal Lord Roberts's first campaign in South Africa. Within five days it led to the relief of Kimberley (11-15 February 1900) and then to the capture of the main Boer army in the Orange Free State at Paardeberg (18-27 February 1900). From there Roberts was able to advance towards Bloemfontein. Two further attempts were made to stop him, at Poplar Grove (7 March 1900) where no meaningful resistance was offered, and at Driefontein (10 March 1900) where a small force of Boers managed to hold up Roberts for an entire day, but on 13 March the British captured the capital of the Orange Free State. The battlefield stage of the Boer War was coming to an end.