Sunday, May 31, 2009

Churchill AVRE and other specials

The Churchill AVRE (Assault Vehicle, Royal Engineers) was developed after the Dieppe raid in an attempt to make combat engineers less vulnerable while they were attempting to destroy enemy defences.
The 'Carrot' Explosive Device was a light framework that could be attached to the front of a Churchill tank and that was designed to allow small explosive charges to be dropped into place
The 'Onion' Explosive Device was the first of two frames designed to allow explosive charges to be moved into place using a Churchill tank.
The Churchill AVRE with 'Goat' Explosive Device was the only one of a series of British attempts to use a tank to place an explosive charge in place to enter production during the Second World War
The Churchill Ark was an expendable bridging tank produced by fitting folding ramps at both ends of a turretless Churchill tank
The Churchill 'Jumbo' Bridging Tank carried a 30ft long bridge which it could lower into place in 1 minute 35 seconds

Geyr von Schweppenburg, Dollman, Hausser

General Friedrich Dollman (1876-1944) was the commander of the German 7th Army at the time of the D-Day landings, with direct responsibility for the defence of the Normandy coastline

General Leo Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg (1886-1974) was an acknowledged expect in armoured warfare who had a successful career on the eastern front before being posted to the west, where he clashed with Rommel over the correct tactics to use against the expected Allied invasion

Paul Hausser (1880-1972) was the most capable general to serve in the Waffen-SS, after playing an important role in the creation of the armed wing of the SS.

J Lawton Collins and Leonard Gerow

Joseph Lawton Collins (1896-1987) was one of the most capable American Corps commanders of the Second World War, and one of a small number of senior officers to serve in both the Pacific and European fronts, commanding the 25th Division on Guadalcanal and the 7th Corps from D-Day to the end of the war.

Leonard Gerow (1888-1972) was the commander of the US 5th Corps from July 1943 until the start of 1945, and led it from Omaha Beach into Germany

D-Day, 6 June 1944

The D-Day landings of 6 June 1944 were one of the most significant moments of the Second World War, and marked the point when the combined military force of the Western allies were finally brought to bear fully against Germany.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Overlord and D-Day Picture Gallery

This week we open our biggest picture gallery yet, devoted to Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings, starting with 32 pictures and 12 maps and with many more to come

Major General Dietrich Kraiss

As the commander of the 352nd Infantry Division Major General Dietrich Kraiss was responsible for the defence of the section of the Normandy Coast that included Omaha Beach and part of Gold Beach, and his deployments and actions on D-Day would play a part in the Allied victory.

British and US Airborne Operations on D-Day

British Airborne Operations on D-Day, 6 June 1944: The eastern flank of the Allied beachhead on D-Day was formed by the troops of the British 6th Airborne Division, who had the job of destroying the bridges across the River Dives and capturing intact those across the River Orne and the Orne (or Caen in some sources) Canal
US Airborne Operations on D-Day, 6 June 1944: One of the most daring elements of the D-Day landings was the insertion of two full US airborne divisions in the Cotentin peninsula, on the western flank of the Allied beachhead, where they played a vital part in the success of the landing on Utah Beach and helped to cause so much confusion that the Germans were unable to launch a coherent counterattack against either American beach

Gold Beach, 6 June 1944

The landing on Gold Beach was one of the more successful of the D-Day landings, and by the end of 6 June the British had penetrated the German's coastal defences and were on the verge of liberating Bayeux, which on 7 June became the first French town to be liberated

Juno Beach, 6 June 1944

The landing on Juno Beach was the main Canadian contribution on D-Day, and saw the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade overcome some of the strongest German defences and a late arrival to achieve the deepest penetration into France of any Allied troops on 6 June

Sword Beach, 6 June 1944

The troops landing on Sword Beach on 6 June had the most important task on D-Day – to protect the eastern flank of the entire landing area against the possibility of a major German armoured counterattack from the east, while at the same time taking part in the attack on Caen
The landing on Omaha Beach was the hardest fought and most costly of the D-Day landings, and the one that came closest to failure. A combination of a strong defensive position, rough seas, the loss of most of the supporting tanks and artillery, a too-short naval bombardment and an ineffective aerial bombardment saw the first wave of American troops pinned down on the water's edge, and although by the end of the day the landing was secure the Omaha beachhead was still less than a mile deep.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Utah Beach, 6 June 1944

The landings on Utah Beach (6 June 1944) were the most westerly and perhaps the easiest of the D-Day landings, due in part to the actions of the American airborne divisions operating inland from the beach and partly to a strong tide which swept the landing craft a kilometre to the south of their intended landing point

Operation Gambit (2-6 June 1944)

Operation Gambit (2-6 June 1944) was one of the smaller operations that made up the D-Day landings and saw ten men in two British mini-submarines spend three days on the sea-floor off the Normandy beaches so that they could transmit a sonar signal to guide the DD tanks onto the right part of the beach

LCP(L), LCP(R) and LCVP Landing Craft

The Landing Craft, Personnel (Large) (LCP(L)) was the first purpose-build landing craft to be acquired by the US Marine Corps, and was the first in a series of designs that culminated in the LCVP, one of the most important Allied weapons of the Second World War
The Landing Craft, Personnel (Ramp) (LCP(R)) was developed during 1941 by Andrew Higgins to solve the biggest problem with the basic LCP(L) – the difficulties encountered in disembarking over the sides of the craft, and was the first version of the Higgins Boat to feature a bow ramp.
The sight of a row of Landing Craft, Vehicle Personnels (LCVP) coming in to land on a hostile beach is one of the most familiar images of the Second World War.

Martin B-26 Marauder Combat Record

The Martin B-26 Marauder had a short combat career in the Pacific. After playing a part in the early fighting on New Guinea, at Guadalcanal and even at Midway the type was withdraw from the Pacific during 1943, but this early combat experience did help overcome the aircraft's early poor reputation
The Martin B-26 Marauder played an important part in the fighting in North Africa and Italy, first arriving in the theatre at the end of 1942 and remaining in service in large numbers until the start of 1945.
Although the RAF received a sizable number of B-26 Marauders, only two squadrons were ever equipped with the type, both in the Desert Air Force, and only one Marauder squadron was ever active at any one time
The controversial Martin B-26 Marauder saw most service with the Ninth Air Force, operating with eight Bombardment Groups. After a terrible introduction into the European Theatre as a low-level bomber the B-26 found its niche as a medium bomber, and ended the war with the best loss ratio of any bomber in the Ninth Air Force
The Martin B-26 Marauder was used in large numbers by the revived French Armée de l'Air from 1943, and was used during the fighting in Italy and southern France. The South Africa Air Force received 100 Marauders IIs, using them to equip five squadrons of the Desert Air Force, although by the time the Marauders began to arrive all five squadrons had moved to Italy, where they remained until the end of the war

Martin B-26 Marauder Development and Variants

The Martin B-26 Marauder was one of the more controversial American aircraft of the Second World War, earning an early reputation as a killer aircraft before going on to suffer the lowest loss rate of any American bomber in the European theatre

The Martin B-26 Marauder was the designation given to the first 201 Marauders, ordered straight off the drawing board in 1940 and delivered during 1941.

The Martin B-26A Marauder was the second production version of the aircraft. It differed from the B-26 in having the 0.30in nose and tail guns replaced with more powerful 0.50in guns, and by having the fittings for an auxiliary fuel tank in the aft bomb bay.

The Martin B-26B was the most numerous version of the Marauder. At first it differed from earlier versions in having more powerful engines and increased armament, but starting with the 642nd aircraft it was also given longer wings and larger tail fin in an attempt to make it easier for inexperienced pilots to fly

The Martin B-26C Marauder was the designation given to those B-26s built at Martin's factory in Omaha, Nebraska

The Martin XB-26D Marauder was the designation given to a single B-26 that was modified to test a wing de-icing system that used ducts to direct hot air from the engines onto the wings

The designation Martin B-26E Marauder was associated with two different projects, involved either an adjustment of the angle of incidence of the wings or the movement of the aircraft's dorsal turret.

The Martin B-26F saw the last major change to the design of the Marauder medium bomber, a 3.5 degrees increase in the angle of incidence of the wing, which was introduced to improve the aircraft's poor take-off performance

The Martin B-26G was the final production version of the Marauder bomber and was part of an effort to increase the number of parts that Army and Navy aircraft had in common.

The Martin XB-26H Marauder was the designation given to a single TB-26G trainer that was modified to test out a new arrangement of landing gear that was being designed for the new generation of jet bombers.

The Martin AT-23 was the first designation given to a number of Marauder bombers converted to act as target tugs.

Harmon. Brett and Andrews

Millard F. Harmon (1888-1945) was a senior American airman of the Second World War who spent most of the war serving in the Pacific, taking part in the fighting in the Solomon Islands before holding a number of overlapping and sometimes contradictory positions under Nimitz in the central Pacific.

George Howard Brett (1886-1963) was a senior USAAF officer who was on a tour of the Middle East and China at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, and in the aftermath took command of all American forces in Australia in December 1941, holding that post through some of the disastrous early fighting in the Pacific.

Frank Maxwell Andrews (1884-1943) was a pioneer of strategic air power and a senior USAAF officer who served in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and briefly as commander of the European Theatre of Operations, US Army (ETOUSA) while Eisenhower was in North Africa

Hap Arnold, Frederick Anderson, John K. Cannon

General Henry Harley 'Hap' Arnold (1886-1950) was the most senior American airman of the Second World War, and a dedicated believer in the power of strategic bombing.

Major General Frederick Anderson (1905-1969) was an American pioneer of strategic air warfare. First as commander of VIII Bomber Command and then as deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe he played a major role in the American bombing campaign against Germany

General John K. Cannon (1895-1955) was a senior USAAF officer who by the end of the Second World War had risen to command the Mediterranean Allied Air Force, having spent most of the war in that theatre.