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Big Bertha, Germany's World War I top secret mobile artillery piece, easily destroyed French and Belgian forts, helping set the stage for trench warfare.In the first days of World War I, Germany unveiled a new weapon - the mobile 42cm (16.5 inch) M-Gerät howitzer. At the time, it was the largest artillery piece of its kind in the world and a closely guarded secret. When war broke out, two of the howitzers were rushed directly from the factory to Liege where they quickly destroyed two forts and compelled the fortress to surrender. After repeat performances at Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, German soldiers christened the howitzers 'Grosse' or 'Dicke Berta' (Fat or Big Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, owner of the Krupp armament works that built the howitzers. The nickname was soon picked up by German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of Big Bertha was born. To the Allies, the existence of the howitzers came as a complete surprise and the sudden fall of the Belgian fortresses spawned rumors and misinformation, adding to the 42cm howitzer's mythology.In reality, 'Big Bertha" was but the last in a series of large-caliber siege guns designed by the German Army for the purpose of destroying concrete fortifications. It was also only one of two types of 42cm calibre howitzers built for the army by Krupp and only a small part of the siege artillery available to the German Army at the outset of the war. Such were the successes of the German siege guns that both the French and British Armies decided to field their own heavy siege guns and, after the German guns handily destroyed Russian forts during the German offensives in the east in 1915, the French Army abandoned their forts. However, by 1916, as the war settled into a stalemate, the effectiveness of the siege guns diminished until, by war's end, 'Big Bertha' and the other siege guns were themselves outmoded. This book details the design and development of German siege guns before and during World War I, to include four models of 30.5cm mortars, two versions of 28cm howitzers, and two types of 42cm howitzers (including 'Big Bertha'); in total, eight different types of siege guns. Accompanying the text are many rare, never before published, photographs of 'Big Bertha' and the other German siege guns. Colour illustrations depict the most important aspects of the German siege artillery.
No project combined radical innovation and political furore quite like the F-111 program. It was intended as the world's biggest, most expensive defence procurement plan when it began in 1962. The aim was 'commonality'; the equipment of the USAF, US Navy and several foreign customers with a single type of fighter. It produced a superb strike aircraft which played a crucial role in three conflicts and was the only aircraft specifically mentioned by Moscow in the SALT disarmament talks that preceded the end of the Cold War. Its successors, the F-15E Eagle, B-1B Lancer and Panavia Tornado owe much to the experience gained on the F-111 Aardvark.The variable-sweep wing and the turbofan jet engine enabled a large, heavily armed, two-seat fighter-bomber to operate from aircraft carriers and 3,000 ft unpaved runways with sufficient fuel economy to fly very long-range nuclear interdiction or combat patrol missions at speeds up to Mach 2.5. Contract negotiations always favoured the USAF's priorities. The weight of the Navy version, the F-111B soon made it impossible to operate it from aircraft carriers and it was abandoned. The USAF, meanwhile persisted with its F-111A version to replace the F-105 Thunderchief. Massive cost increases and design issues delayed and disrupted their use for a decade.The F-111A's return to Vietnam in September 1972 showed the aircraft to be extremely successful in pin-point attacks on targets in all weathers, mainly at night, using its terrain following radar and heavy loads of external ordnance. It was used in 1986 for a long-range punitive attack on Libya, and in Operation Desert Storm both F-111 wings were the principal strikers against Saddam Hussein's planes and tanks. With ECM and pioneering digital avionics versions, the sheer variety of F-111 sub-types, all built in comparatively small numbers that partly caused its eventual withdrawal from USAF use in the late 1990s for cost reasons. The Aardvark's career ended in 2010.Despite its uncertain start the F-111 proved to be one of the most successful and influential designs of the 1960s. Its radical 'swing wing' was adopted by the F-14 Tomcat, Panavia Tornado and Rockwell B-1B Lancer while its turbofan-type engines became standard in many combat aircraft. F-111 crews pioneered tactics using terrain-following and laser targeting devices that made the F-15E Eagle's missions possible. Its 4,000 low-altitude penetration missions during Operation Linebacker in Vietnam proved that solo aircraft deliver crippling blows to enemy capability with impunity.The F-111's retirement appears to have created a surge of interest in the type. Visually dramatic in appearance, the F-111 versions have appeared in a variety of colour schemes. Some had striking nose art and some of my unique collection of these images could appear in colour for the first time.
The iconic vehicle of the British Army's Reconnaissance Corps during World War II, the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car (LRC) saw service in several theatres of war between 1941 and 1945. The Humber LRC gave excellent service to the Reconnaissance Corps with its agility, speed and height proving to be invaluable assets to the units that operated it. Using numerous photographs, and newly commissioned artwork, this book looks at the development of the LRC, its use by the Reconnaissance Corps and its importance to British infantry divisions in the theater in which it served.
The Light Armored Vehicle -25 (LAV-25) has played a significant role in transforming Marine Corps doctrine since its introduction in the early-1980s. The Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle program was based on the proven Swiss MOWAG Piranha series of 4x4, 6x6, and 8x8 wheeled vehicles. However, developing organizational units, tactics, and employment of the weapon system within the force structure of the Marine Corps proved to be more of a challenge than fielding the weapon system. This resulted in multiple re-designations for LAV units within the Corps. The LAV first saw combat action in Panama during Operation Just Cause (1989); LAV-25s have fought in every major conflict since - to include the current conflicts during Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq. During Operation Desert Storm the vehicle's record shows mixed results due to a string of friendly fire incidents; however one LAV-25 Commander earned the Navy Cross (one of only two Navy Crosses awarded to Marines during the Gulf War). The success of the LAV program has translated to several operators such as Canada, Australia, and the Saudi Arabian National Guard employing the weapon system for their own forces. This in-depth, highly-illustrated title will shed new light on this popular subject.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Although to the casual eye all British tanks of World War I look much the same, the Mark V is quite outstanding and has a strong claim to be the tank that won World War I for the Allies. In this title, renowned tank expert David Fletcher examines the technological developments that made this tank excel where others had failed, and the reasons why it gave the British the upperhand over the Germans on the battlefield and why it was adopted by the US Tank Corps. Accompanied by detailed artwork showing the design changes that allowed the Mark V to breach the widest German trenches, this title is an excellent resource for the study of the armor of World War I.
The first Rolls-Royce armoured car was a privately owned vehicle fitted with a machine-gun and a limited amount of armour plate at a dockyard in France. It was used by a squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service in Flanders in 1914. Backed by First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill more and better versions followed until, by 1915 there were about 100 of them which were then handed over to the Army. "They searched the world for War" as Sir Albert Stern said of them and before long there were Rolls-Royce armoured cars operating as far apart as German South West Africa, the Western Desert, Gallipoli, all over the Middle East and the north west frontier of India.All of them used the classic 40/50hp Silver Ghost chassis. They were fast, silent and reliable but above all strong. "A Rolls in the desert is above rubies" said Lawrence of Arabia and the Duke of Westminster would have agreed with him following his famous raid to rescue the kidnapped crew of the steamship HMS Tara. At least one car accompanied the adventurous MP Oliver Locker-Lampson on his adventures in Russia.After the war, unable to find a better model the War Office simply copied the original Admiralty design with minor improvements. If that was not enough the Royal Air Force also acquired some to support their operations in the Middle East. A new design with a larger body and dome shaped turret also appeared for service in India. They also served in Ireland and even, briefly in Shanghai.The 11th Hussars still had Rolls-Royces in Egypt when the war against Italy began and the youngest of these was over fifteen years old when they went into action, but after that their numbers dwindled as newer vehicles came along. But then history repeated itself. Britain was threatened with invasion and a new army of veterans was raised to assist with defence. Some battalions built home made armoured cars, on private chassis and at least three of these were based on Rolls-Royces.
The titanic armor battles of the Russian Front are widely known, but the role of Germany's eastern allies is not as well known. Two of these countries, Romania and Hungary, manufactured their own tanks as well as purchasing tanks from Germany. These ranged from older, obsolete types such as the PzKpfw 35(t) all the way up to the latest and best German vehicles including the Tiger I and Hetzer. These tanks played a frequent role in the battles in southern Russia and Ukraine and were especially prominent in the disaster at Stalingrad where the Red Army specifically chose the weaker Romanian and Hungarian salients for their critical envelopment operation. This New Vanguard will provide a broad survey of the various and colorful tanks used. Besides covering the largest of these Axis tank forces, this book will cover the many smaller and lesser known forces including the Italian contingent in Russia, the Finnish armored force, and the small but interesting armored forces of the Russian Vlasov (RONA), Croatian, Bulgarian and Slovakian armies. This subject is seeing increasing interest in the modeling world; for example Tamiya recently announced a PzKpfw 35 (t) (suitable for Romanian, Slovak armies) a Finnish StuG III, and a Finnish BT-42.
The advent of combined arms operations in World War II created the need for specialized armored vehicles. In the case of amphibious attacks, the issue arose of how best to land tanks on a beach. Although a variety of specialized landing craft were developed, the Dieppe raid in 1942 encouraged the development of tanks that could be deployed from further off-shore to limit the vulnerability of the LCT craft. The deep-wading equipment that they developed was first used during Operation Husky on Sicily in July 1943, and subsequently for Operations Avalanche (Salerno, September 1943), Shingle (Anzio, January 1944) and Overlord (Normandy, June 1944). The US-manufactured DD tanks were used during Overlord by both US and British forces, and again in 1945 during the Rhine crossings. Initially, developments in the Pacific Theater were separate from those in Europe. The Marines learned from the Tarawa landings in 1943 that unprepared tanks could not be safely landed even in shallow water. DD tanks were never seriously considered for the Pacific, so other solutions were sought. A detailed study of specialized US amphibious tanks, this is a title that will appeal to those interested in both Pacific and European Theaters, modellers and collectors.
Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, the newest land warfare system in the United States Army and Marine Corps, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle has undeniably proved its value. Designed to meet the challenges of operating in a counterinsurgency environment, the MRAP has taken survivability to a new level. MRAPs are currently manufactured by three companies: BAE Systems, Navistar International Military Group, and Force Protection Inc. Each company manufactures an MRAP according to one of three classifications set by the US Department of Defense: Category I, Category II, or Category III. The Category I MRAPs are designed for urban combat. Category II covers the MRAPs designed for convoy security, medical evacuation, and explosive ordnance disposal. The Category III MRAP performs the same function as Category II but is designed to carry more personnel.Since their introduction in 2007, MRAPs have performed remarkably in the asymmetric warfare environment. Their unique design and survivability characteristics have saved the lives hundreds of soldiers who otherwise would have been lost to landmines or IED attacks. As with any combat system, however, the MRAP is not without its drawbacks.
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