Second World War - Updates 2008

Updates from: 20142013201220112010200920082007

Articles from 2008

6 August 2008

The Sturmgeschütz IV or StuG IV was an assault gun developed at the end of 1943 to make up for lost StuG III production in the aftermath of an air raid which badly damaged the Alkett factory.

The Sturmhaubitze or StuH was a version of the StuG assault gun, armed with a 105mm light field howitzer

The Hornisse (hornet) or Nashorn (Rhino) was a lightly armoured self-propelled mount for the 8.8cm Pak43 anti-tank gun using the same hybrid gun carriage based on elements of the Panzer III and Panzer IV as the Hummel, and differed from that vehicle mainly in the choice of its gun.

The Jagdtiger, or Jagdpanzer VI, was a tank destroyer based on the Tiger II, and was a good example of the gigantism so common in Germany towards the end of the Second World War.

The Tiger-Mörser or Sturmmörser was a self propelled armoured mount for the breach loading rocket firing 38cm Raketenwerfer 61 L/54.

5 August

The Möbelwagen (furniture wagon) was the first attempt to mount an anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of a Panzer IV tank.

The Wirbelwind (Whirlwind) was the second production vehicle to mount an anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of the Panzer IV tank.

The Zerstörer 45 was a more powerful version of the Wirbelwind Flakpanzer, designed to compensate for the relatively low power of the quadruple 2cm guns used in the earlier vehicle.

The Ostwind I (East Wind) was the last of a series of Flakpanzers (anti-aircraft tanks) based on the Panzer IV chassis to enter production, albeit in very small numbers

The Ostwind II was a further development of the Ostwind I Flakpanzer, which would have carried twice the firepower, but that never progressed beyond the prototype stage.

The “Kugelblitz” (Ball lightning) Flakpanzer would have been the most advanced anti-aircraft tank produced by Germany during the Second World War if it had ever entered production, but the first prototypes did not appear until 1945, and it never entered combat

4 August

The Jagdpanzer IV was the first of a series of highly effective tank destroyers developed in Germany from 1943, each of which carried a powerful gun in a low chassis protected by well sloped armour.

The Panzer IV/70 (A) was intended to be an interim design, designed to speed up the introduction of a version of the Jagdpanzer armed with a 7.5cm PaK42 L/70 main gun.

The Panzer IV/70 (V) was an improved version of the Jagdpanzer IV, armed with a Pak42 L/70 gun in place of the shorter gun used on the earlier vehicle.

The Hummel was a fully tracked lightly armoured mount for the 15cm heavy field howitzer, and was designed to provide artillery support for the Panzer divisions.

29 July

When it first appeared the Sturmgeschütz, or as it is more commonly known the StuG III, was a unique weapon – a powerful artillery gun mounted on a fully armoured, tracked, low slung chassis based on the Panzer III medium tank, and designed to provide close support for the German infantry

The Sturmgeschütz Ausf.A was the first production version of the StuG III assault gun, designed to provide the German infantry with a fully armoured mobile artillery gun.

The Sturmgeschütz Ausf.B was the second version of the StuG assault gun, and saw the introduction of all of the improvements that had been made to the tracks of the Panzer III between the Ausf F and the Ausf H.

The Sturmgeschütz Ausf.C was the third version of the StuG III assault gun, and saw only minor modifications from the Ausf B.

The Sturmgeschütz Ausf D was very similar to the previous StuG III Ausf C.

The Sturmgeschütz Ausf.E was the final version of the StuG III assault gun to carry the short 7.5cm gun and to be designed as a close support vehicle for the infantry.

The Sturmgeschütz III Ausf F saw a major change to the design of the StuG III with the adoption of the long barrelled 7.5cm Stu.K.40 L/43.

The Sturmgeschütz III Ausf F/8 was the second version of the StuG III to carry the longer 7.5cm StuK40 L/48 gun, and differed from the Ausf F in the use of the hull from the Panzer III Ausf J

The Sturmgeschütz III Ausf G was the final version of the StuG III and was produced in vast numbers, with a total of 7,720 produced from new between December 1942 and the end of the Second World War

25 July

The Panzer IV is normally described as having been the mainstay of the German tank forces during the Second World War, but that is actually somewhat misleading. While it is true that the Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in production for the entire duration of the war, for the first three of those years it was a close support weapon produced in relatively small numbers, before being turned into a potent tank killer

The Panzerbeobachtungswagen IV was an artillery observation vehicle based on the Panzer IV.

The Panzerbefehlswagen IV was a command vehicle based on the Panzer IV medium tank.

24 July

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H was produced in larger numbers than any other version of the Panzer IV, and at first was very similar to late production Ausf Gs.

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf J was the last version of the Panzer IV medium tank to enter production before the end of the Second World War

The Tauchpanzer IV (literally 'dipping tank') was a version of the Panzer IV designed to be driven underwater.

The Brummbär ('Grizzly Bear') or Sturmpanzer IV was a heavy armoured assault vehicle based on the Panzer IV and armed with a short 15cm howitzer

23 July

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf A was the first production version of the Panzer IV medium support tank, and shared many features with all of the over 8,000 tanks that followed.

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf B was the second production model of the Panzer IV medium support tank, and saw an increase in frontal armour and in engine power

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf C was the third version of the Panzer IV medium support tank, and saw a significant increase in the scale of production

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf D was the fourth production version of the Panzer IV medium support tank, and saw the first increase in the thickness of the side and rear armour

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf E was the fifth production model of the Panzer IV medium support tank and saw a significant increase in the armour carried by the tank

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf F was the final version of the Panzer IV medium support tank to be produced with the short 7.5cm gun.

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf F2 saw the biggest change in the design of the Panzer IV with the installation of the long barrelled 7.5cm KwK40 L/43 main gun

The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf G was the first version of the Panzer IV to be produced in really large numbers, with a total of 1,687 being completed as gun-armed tanks between May 1942 and June 1943

21 July

Admiral Philip Vian made his name as one of the most daring British naval commanders of the Second World War early in 1940 as the captain of the destroyer Cossack during the Altmark incident, before going on to hold high rank in the Mediterranean, during Operation Overlord and in the Far East

The first battle of Sirte of 17 December 1941 was the result of an accidental clash between British and Italian naval forces each escorting a convoy through the Mediterranean

Operation “MG1” of March 1942 was a costly attempt to run a small supply convoy from Alexandria to the besieged island of Malta

The second battle of Sirte of 22 March 1942 saw a British force of light cruisers and destroyers prevent a powerful Italian fleet led by the battleship Littorio from attacking a convoy heading for Malta with vitally important supplies

17 July

Admiral Sir James Somerville (1882-1949) was one of the most able British admirals of the Second World War, serving at Dunkirk, as the commander of Force H at Gibraltar and as Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Fleet, despite having only been declared fit for light duties at the start of the war.

Operation Hurry (1-4 August 1940) was a Royal Navy operation whose main purpose was to ferry twelve Hawker Hurricane aircraft to Malta, where they were desperately needed to reinforce the beleaguered garrison

Operation Hats (30 August-5 September 1940) was one of a series of complex operations carried out by the Royal Navy after the entry of Italy into the Second World War effectively split the British Mediterranean fleet in two.

Operation Squawk (31 August-1 September 1940) was a deception operation carried out as part of Operation Hats, a major fleet movement in the Mediterranean, and was designed to convince the Italians that Admiral Somerville’s Force H from Gibraltar was heading for Genoa

Operation Coat (15-20 November 1940) was the second attempt to ferry Hurricane fighters to the beleaguered island of Malta by aircraft carrier, but unlike the first attempt the operation ended in failure

16 July

The 21st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was one of a small number of USAAF units to take part in the fighting on the Aleutian Islands, becoming one of the first squadrons to make a land-based attack on the Japanese home islands.

The 27th Bombardment Squadron spent 1942 and 1943 flying anti-submarine warfare patrols and training replacement crews before moving to the Central Pacific in November 1943 to take part in the island hopping campaign.

15 July

The 494th Bombardment Group (Heavy) operated the B-24 Liberator with the Seventh Air Force in the Pacific from late in 1944 to the end of the Second World War.

The 864th Bombardment Squadron, 865th Bombardment Squadron and 866th Bombardment Squadron were all formed as part of the 494th Bombardment Group, the last B-24 Liberator group to be deployed from the United States during the Second World War.

Despite its eventual high number the 867th Bombardment Squadron was in action almost from the start of the American involvement in the Second World War, flying anti-submarine warfare patrols for eighteen months before joining the Seventh Air Force as a heavy bomber squadron with the 494th Bombardment Group.

14 July

Sir Dudley Pound was the First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy from early in 1939 until just before his death in October 1943.

Sir John Cunningham was a British admiral who rose to become Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean from 1943 until the end of the Second World War.

William Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork and Orrery was a British admiral who was appointed to command the Allied forces involved in the attack on Narvik in April-May 1940

Operation Collar (24-30 November 1940) was a British naval operation launched from both ends of the Mediterranean, with the intention of combining the movement of two small convoys with the redistribution of British naval forces.

The action off Cape Spartiavento (Sardinia) of 27 November 1940 was an inconclusive clash between elements of the British and Italian fleets which came about because of Italian efforts to interfere with Operation Collar.

11 July

We complete our series of articles on the Bell P-39 Airacobra

Bell P-39 Airacobra in American Service: The Bell P-39 Airacobra was the least well regarded fighter aircraft to serve in large numbers with the USAAF during the Second World War, but despite this it did perform some useful services on New Guinea and Guadalcanal early in the war in the Pacific

Bell P-39 Airacobra in Soviet Service: The Bell P-39 Airacobra had a terrible reputation amongst British and American pilots, but it rapidly became one of the favourite fighters in the Soviet Union. Of the top six Soviet air aces, four scored the majority of their victories in the Kobra.

9 July

The Bell P-400/ Airacobra I was the export version of the P-39 Airacobra, originally developed in response to a French order of 30 March 1940 for 170 aircraft.

The Bell P-39Q was the last version of the Airacobra, and was produced in greater numbers than any earlier version, with the 4,905 built representing just over half of the total production run of 9,529 aircraft.

The Bell Airacobra first entered service with the RAF, in October 1941, but only flew a handful of sorties before it was withdrawn from the front line.

The Bell P-59A Airacomet was the first American jet fighter to take to the air, making its maiden flight on 1 October 1942.

The Bell XP-83 was developed in an attempt to produce a long range jet powered escort fighter.

8 July

We start with a look at the development of the P-39 Airacobra

The Bell P-39K Airacobra designation was given to the first 210 aircraft that had originally been ordered as the P-39G.

The Bell P-39L Airacobra designation was given to 250 aircraft produced with the Allison V-1710-63 engine and a 10ft 4in Curtiss Electric propeller

The Bell P-39M Airacobra designation was given to 240 aircraft powered by the Allison V-1710-67 (E8) engine, a lowered powered model than was then standard in the Airacobra, but one that gave more power at 15,000ft than the -63 used in the P-39K and P-39L.

The Bell P-39N Airacobra was the first version of the Airacobra to be produced in truly large numbers, with a total of production run of 2,095 aircraft in three main sub-series.

The Bell XFL-1 Airabonita was a variant of the Airacobra that was produced for the US Navy as a possible replacement for its fleet of aging biplanes.

7 July

The Bell P-39C Airacobra was the first production version of the Airacobra, although only twenty aircraft were produced before production moved on to the P-39D.

The Bell P-39D Airacobra was the first version of the Airacobra to be produced in large numbers, and the first to reach the Soviet Union, where the aircraft would achieve its main successes.

The Bell XP-39E Airacobra was an experimental version of the Airacobra originally produced as a test bed for the Continental V-1430 engine.

The Bell P-39F Airacobra was produced in order to cope with a shortage of Curtiss Electric propellers and used the 10ft 4in Aeroproducts propeller.

The Bell P-39G Airacobra was to have been similar to the earlier P-39D-2 lend lease aircraft, but using a different propeller to replace the Curtiss Electric. None were produced.

The Bell P-39J Airacobra designation was given to the last twenty-five aircraft ordered as P-39F Airacobras.

4 July

The Bell XP-52 (Model 16) twin-boomed pusher aircraft was one of a number of unusual designs for fighter aircraft produced in the United States during the Second World War.

The Bell XP-59 (Model 16) was the designation given to a short-lived project to produce a twin-boom pusher fighter powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine.

The Bell XP-77 was a lightweight wooden fighter aircraft produced to solve a problem that never materialised.

25 May

The Lockheed Hudson was one of the most important American produced aircraft during the early years of the Second World War, serving as the backbone of RAF Coastal Command well into 1942.

The RAAF was the second service to order the Lockheed Hudson, and the most important operator of the aircraft after the RAF.

23 May

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.I was one of a number of American military aircraft developed and produced to satisfy overseas orders, in this case from the RAF.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.II was the designation given to twenty aircraft equipped with constant-speed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propellers in place of the two-position Hamilton Standard propeller used on the Hudson Mk.I.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.III was a significant improvement on the earlier versions of the aircraft with three extra .303in machine guns, one in a retractable ventral position and two in beam positions, removing a blind spot below the aircraft

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.IV was the eventual designation given to 100 aircraft ordered for the RAAF and originally given the Australian designations Hudson Mk.I and Mk.II.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.V was the final version of the aircraft produced under direct RAF contracts before the start of the lend-lease scheme.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.VI was the lend-lease version of the Hudson Mk.V

The Lockheed A-28 was the USAAF designation for Pratt & Whitney powered Lockheed Hudsons, introduced under the terms of the lend-lease act.

The Lockheed A-29 was the USAAF designation given to Lockheed Hudsons powered by Wright R-1820 engines and produced under the lend-lease agreement.

The Lockheed AT-18 was an advanced trainer based on the Lockheed Hudson.

The Lockheed PBO-1 was the designation given to twenty A-29 Hudson maritime patrol aircraft that served with the US Navy.

The Lockheed Hudson served with 39 RAF Squadrons and a large number of Commonwealth squadrons between 1939 and 1945

The RCAF was the second most important operator of the Lockheed Hudson by numbers, receiving a total of 248 aircraft

The Lockheed Hudson served with the RNZAF from 1941 until the end of the Second World War, first in the general reconnaissance and bomber role and later as a transport aircraft.

22 May

No.48 Squadron served with Coastal Command from 1939-1942, before moving to Gibraltar to support Operation Torch. On its return to Britain at the start of 1944 it joined Transport Command and took part in D-Day, the battle of Arnhem and the crossing of the Rhine.

20 May

No.518 Squadron was a meteorological unit of Coastal Command, formed in July 1943 at Stornoway to fly weather recording flights over the mid-Atlantic.

No.520 Squadron was a meteorological squadron which formed at Gibraltar in September 1943, operated a mix of long and short range aircraft for flights over the Atlantic.

No. 578 Squadron was formed from C Flight of No.51 Squadron on 14 January 1944 as a Halifax bomber squadron in No.4 Group, and was part of the main bomber force to the end of the war.

No.614 'County of Glamorgan' Squadron spent the first three years of the Second World War training with the army, before moving to North Africa to take part in the fighting in Tunisia before being disbanded in July 1944. It was then reformed from No.462 Squadron RAAF, and operated as a bomber and special duties squadron to the end of the war.

No.624 Squadron was formed in Algeria in September 1943 from No.1575 (Special Duties) Flight, and flew supply drop missions over southern Europe until disbanded in September 1944. It reformed in December 1944 and flew mine-spotting missions over the Mediterranean until November 1945.

No. 640 Squadron was formed from C Flight of No. 158 Squadron in January 1944 as part of No.4 Group and took part in the main bombing offensive against Germany as part of Bomber Command's main bomber force.

No.644 Squadron was formed in February 1944 in preparation for the invasion of Europe, and towed gliders to D-Day, Arnhem and across the Rhine.

5 May

Raymond Spruance was one of the most important American naval commanders of the Second World War, taking command of the American carriers part of the way through the battle of Midway and then going on to command the Fifth Fleet for the campaigns in the Gilberts, Marshalls and Marianas as well as planning and implementing the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Vice-Admiral Robert Ghormley is most famous for having been the overall American commander at the start of the Guadalcanal campaign, a role he is considered to have performed quite poorly.

No.151 Squadron began the Second World War as a Hurricane squadron, participating the Battle of Britain, before becoming a night fighter squadron in November 1940, operating first in the defensive role and later as an intruder squadron.

No.157 Squadron was the first squadron to operation the Mosquito as a night fighter, after reforming in December 1941 for that purpose.

No.158 Squadron was formed during the great wartime expansion of Bomber Command, from the home echelon of No.104 Squadron and spent the entire war operationg with the main bomber force.

No.161 Squadron was a special duties squadron, formed in February 1942 from the King's Flight and part of No.138 Squadron to carry out a mix of supply drops and agent transportation missions

No. 166 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a training unit and later as a bomber squadron operationg the Wellington and then Lancaster

3 May

William "Bull" Halsey was a hard-hitting American Admiral who played a major part in developing the strategy of "island skipping" in the Pacific in 1943-45 which saw the United States bypass a series of Japanese held islands during their advance across the southern and central Pacific.

25 April

The Panzer III Medium Tank was the main German battle tank for the first two and a half years of the Second World War, only beginning to lose that status after the appearance of the Panzer IV Ausf F2 in March 1942. Until then the Panzer III had been the only German designed tank armed with a gun designed to penetrate enemy armour.

The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf D1 was the first of a series of command tanks based on the Panzer III, produced when it became clear that the kleine Panzerbefehlswagen was not large enough for the role.

The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf E was the second command tank to be based on the Panzer III. It was based on the standard Panzer III Ausf E but with the same modifications as on the earlier Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf D1

The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf H was the third version of command tank based on the Panzer III, and was based on the standard Panzer III Ausf H.

The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf J or Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK L/42 was the first in the series of command tanks based on the Panzer III to retain the tank’s main gun.

The Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf K/ Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK39 L/60 was the last in the series of command tanks based on the Panzer III, and the only one to be custom built with its 5cm main gun intact.

24 April

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J (5cm KwK L/42) saw the frontal armour of the Panzer III increased in thickness from 30mm to 50mm, and was produced with the 5cm KwK L/42 from the start.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J (5cm KwK39 L/60) was produced after Hitler insisted on the use of a longer gun in the Panzer III.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf L was the first of two interim versions of the Panzer III produced while attempts to fit a larger gun to the tank were under way.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf M was the second of two interim versions of the tank produced while attempts to fit a larger gun to the tank were under way and was virtually identical to the Ausf L, but with the addition of fording equipment, which allowed it to wade through four or five feet of water

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf N was the final production version of the standard Panzer III, and the only version to be armed with the 7.5cm KwK L/24 gun.

The Panzerkampfwagen III (Fl) was a flamethrower equipped tank based on the Panzer III Ausf M, produced early in 1943.

The Panzerkampfwagen III als Tauchpanzer (diving tank), or Tauchpanzer III, was a version of the Panzer III modified to operate underwater for up to twenty minutes.

23 April

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf A was the first developmental version of the Panzer III, but even though only ten were produced the type still saw active service in Poland in 1939.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf B was the second development version of the Panzer III, produced during 1937 with a different suspension system.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf C was the third development version of the Panzer III, and featured another attempt to improve the suspension, the main weak point in the earlier designs.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf D was the fourth and final development version of the Panzer III, and saw a final attempt to improve the suspension system first adopted on the Ausf B.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf E was the first mass produced version of the Panzer III, after four pre-production series.

The Panzerhampfwagen III Ausf F was the second mass-production version of the Panzer III and the first to be built in significant numbers.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf G was very similar to the previous Ausf F, although most of the production run received the larger 5cm KwK L/42 gun.

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf H had been intended to be the first version of the Panzer III to use the 5cm KwK gun when 759 were ordered in January 1939, but the use of that gun on the majority of Ausf Gs and the imminent arrival of the improved Ausf J meant that only 308 would be produced.

18 April

No.142 Squadron began the Second World War as a Fairey Battle squadron, suffering heavily during the invasion of France. It then converted to the Wellington, operating from Britain and then in the Mediterranean, before ending the war as a Mosquito equipped pathfinder squadron.

No.144 Squadron spent the first half of the Second World War as a bomber squadron equipped with the Handley Page Hampden, and the second half with Coastal Command, for most of that time serving as a torpedo bomber squadron using the Beaufighter.

No.148 Squadron went through three very different incarnations during the Second World War, first as a training unit, then as a bomber unit based on Malta and finally as a Special Duties squadron based in Libya and finally Italy.

No.149 "East India" Squadron was a mainstay of Bomber Command, taking part on the Strategic Bombing campaign from its beginnings in May 1940 until the very end of the war.

No.150 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, starting as a Fairey Battle Squadron, which later converted to the Wellington and was posted to the Mediterranean, before being reformed late in 1944 as a Lancaster bomber squadron.

15 April

No. 106 Squadron began the Second World War as an operational training squadron, only starting combat operations in September 1940. After a brief spell with the Avro Manchester, it received the Lancaster in May 1942 and operated with that aircraft until the end of the war.

No.107 Squadron began the Second World War by taking part in the first British air raid against a German target, before taking part in the battle of France, the defence of Malta and Coastal COmmand's anti-submarine campaign. The squardon ended the war as a night intruder squadron equipped with the Mosquito

No. 108 Squadron went through three very different incarnations during the Second World War, starting as a training squadron in Britain, before becoming a night bomber squadron in the Mediterranean and finally a night fighter squadron, operating in Libya, Malta, Egypt and finally Greece.

No. 109 Squadron was formed from the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit in December 1940, and spent the next three years involved in scientific development, before joining the Pathfinders at the end of 1943.

No. 110 "Hyderbad" Squadron served in two very different roles during the Second World War, spending 1939-1942 operating as a Blenheim bomber squadron from Britain and the rest of the war as a ground attack squadron operating over Burma.

No. 114 "Hong Kong" Squadron began the Second World War as a Blenheim squadron, soon joining the RAF contingent in France. The squadron fought during the German invasion of the west, then took part in the attack on the invasion ports, before moving to North Africa in 1942, fighting on Sicily and in Italy.

No.115 Squadron was as near as any a typical Bomber Command squadron, operating with the main bomber from bases in East Anglia for the entire war.

No. 138 Squadron was a Special Duties squadron which spent most of the Second World War carrying out supply drops to resistance movements in Occupied Europe.

No. 139 Squadron was unfortunate enought to be caught up in two military disasters in the early days of the Second World War, first in France in 1940 and then in Burma in 1942. It ended the war as a Pathfinder squadron, equipped with the Mosquito.

14 April

No. 102 "Ceylon" Squadron was a heavy bomber command squadron that served with Bomber Command for most of the Second World War, equipped first with the Whitley and then with the Handley Page Halifax.

No. 103 Squadron began the war as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force, suffering very heavy loses while equipped with the Fairey Battle. By the end of 1940 it had joined Bomber Command, and took part in the night bombing campaign for the rest of the war.

No. 104 Squadron began the war as a Group Training Squadron, spend most of 1941 operating as a night bomber squadron from Driffield, before moving to the Mediterranean, where it remained for the rest of the war.

No. 105 Squadron began the Second World War equipped with the Fairey Battle, suffering heavily during the Battle of France. After a short spell with the Blenheim, it converted to the De Havilland Mosquito, first as a low-level daylight bomber and later as a pathfinder.

10 April

The Vickers Archer tank destroyer came about because of a need to make the 17 pounder anti tank gun more mobile. Designed as a stop gap measure, the Archer proved to be a hard hitting and effective vehicle.

8 April

Lieutenant General Hatazo Adachi commanded the Japanese forces on New Guinea from November 1942 until the end of the Second World War.

Field Marshal Harold Alexander was one of the most successful senior British generals of the Second World War, and proved to be an able commander of coalition armies.

General Korechika Anami was a Japanese general and polititian who played a part in the rise of General Tojo, but whose loyalty to the Emperor helped to foil the coup attempt of 14-15 August 1945.

General Wladyslaw Anders was a Polish general who commanded the Polish II Corps during the fighting in the Western Desert and in Italy, taking part in the final capture of Monte Cassino in May 1944.

General Aleksei I. Antonov was a Soviet general who rose to be Head of Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Red Army from 1942 to 1945.

Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima was a Japanese army officer famous for being one of the earliest "kamikaze" pilots, flying his own suicide mission just before the official start of kamikaze missions.

Colonel General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim was a Prussian general who is best known for having commanded the German forces in Tunisia towards the end of the fighting in North Africa in 1943.

23 February

The Panzer II Light Tank was the second German tank to enter mass production during the period of German rearmament in the 1930s and was the most common tank during 1939 and 1940

The 15cm slG33 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf) was the second attempt to mount the 15cm sIG 33 infantry howitzer on a tank chassis.

The Marder II was a self propelled anti-tank gun produced by mounting a 7.5cm PaK40/2 anti tank gun on the chassis of a Panzer II Ausf F

22 February

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf F was the last standard version of the Panzer II light tank.

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf L “Luchs” (Lynx) was the only one of a series of reconnaissance tanks based on the Panzer II to be produced in significant numbers.

The Wespe (wasp) was the last, and most numerous, of a series of self propelled guns based on the Panzer II fuselage and carried the German army’s standard 10.5cm howitzer (the Leichte Feldhaubitze 18M or leFH18M).

The Flammpanzer II was an unsuccessful attempt to produce mount flame-throwers on an armoured vehicle, for use against enemy bunkers.

The 7.62cm PaK36(t) auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf D was an early and successful attempt to mount an anti-tank gun on a tank chassis.

21 February

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf a/1. a/2 and a/3 were the three earliest experimental development versions of the Panzer II.

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf b was the second major development version of the Panzer II light tank.

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf c was the final development version of the Panzer II light tank.

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf A, Ausf B and Ausf C were the most common production versions of the Panzer II light tank.

The Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf D and Ausf E were virtually indistinguishable fast tanks, only very slightly related to the standard Panzer II light tank.

20 February

Sir Bertram Ramsay was a British admiral best known for his role in organising the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 and for planning the naval part of the D-Day landings in 1944.

Sir William Wake-Walker was a British admiral best know for his role in the hunt for the Bismarck in May 1941.

19 February

The siege of Calais of 23-26 May 1940 saw some of the most desperate fighting during the German campaign in the west in 1940. A combined French and British force was able to hold off heavy German attacks for three critical days, allowing the Allies to consolidate their hold on Dunkirk, but at the cost of the virtual destruction of the garrison.

Operation Cycle was the code name for the evacuation of British and Allied troops from Havre on 10-13 June 1940

Operation Aerial was the code name given to the evacuation of British and Allied troops from the ports of north west France between 15 and 25 June 1940.

John Vereker, sixth Viscount Gort, was a British soldier best known for his period in command of the B.E.F. in 1939-1940, which ended with the evacuation from Dunkirk.

18 February

The battle of Boulogne of 22-25 May 1940 saw a British and French garrison hold off a determined German attack, before the British were evacuated by sea.

16 February

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk of 27 May-4 June 1940, is one of the most celebrated military events in British history, and yet it was the direct result of one of the most crushing defeats suffered by the British army. Over nine days nearly 300,000 men from the BEF were evacuated from Dunkirk, an action that allowed Britain to stay in the war.

13 February

The Gloster E.28/39 was the first British aircraft to be powered by a jet engine, making its maiden flight in 1941.

We begin a series of articles on the Gloster Meteor with a look at the development of the aircraft.

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.I was the first Allied jet aircraft to enter service during the Second World War, and the first production version of an aircraft that would remain in front line RAF service until 1961

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.II was the designation for a version of the Meteor powered by de Havilland H.1 engines. Only one was built.

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.III was the first version of the Meteor to be produced in large numbers, and the first truly satisfactory version of the aircraft.

 

The Gloster E.5/42 was a design for a single engined jet fighter that saw some development work in 1943 as an alternative in case the Meteor project was delayed by problems with the Whittle W2.B jet engine.

A list of the Gloster Meteor Squadrons of the RAF

The Gloster Meteor was the only Allied jet aircraft to see combat during the Second World War, making its debut a few days after the Me 262

7 February

Today we complete our series of articles on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator

A look at the development of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, the US military aircraft produced in the largest numbers

We look at the service record of the B-24 Liberator with the Eighth Air Force in England, the B-24 in the Mediterranean and the B-24 in the Pacific.

We add a list of Consolidated B-24 Liberator Groups of the USAAF

6 February

More Eighth Air Force B-24 units today:

The 466th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force, based at Attlebridge, Norfolk, from March 1944 to the end of the war in Europe.

The 467th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit within the Eighth Air Force that was based at Rackheath, Norfolk, from March 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 482nd Bombardment Group provided a pathfinder force for the heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force.

The 486th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force, entering combat with the B-24 in May 1944 but converting to the B-17 two months later.

The 487th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force, based at Lavenham, Suffolk, from August 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 489th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit within the Eighth Air Force, noteworthy for containing the only man to be awarded the Medal of Honor while flying an Eighth Air Force B-24 from Britain

The 490th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force that entered combat just before the D-Day landings, attacking German airfields.

The 491st Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator group of the Eighth Air Force that entered combat early in June 1944, just before the D-Day landings.

The 492nd Bombardment Group was a unit of the Eighth Air Force, but despite being a heavy bombardment group it actually spent most of its time in Europe flying Carpetbagger missions, transporting agents and supplies to resistance movements in Occupied Europe

The 493rd Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force, that entered combat in May 1944, just in time to take part in the operations to support the D-Day landings.

5 February

The Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express was produced in response to a USAAF request for long range transport aircraft.

The Consolidated RY Liberator was the US Navy designation for transport aircraft based on the B-24 Liberator, known as the C-87 in the USAAF.

Operation Tidalwave, 1 August 1943, was a low level attack on the oil refineries at Ploesti, carried out by B-24 Liberators from bases in North Africa.

The Consolidated XB-41 Liberator was a prototype for a heavily armed escort fighter based on the B-24

4 February

The 34th Bombardment Group spent the first few months of the Second World War protecting the American coast, before becoming a training squadron. Finally from April 1944 the group joined the Eighth Air Force, operating the B-24 and then B-17 over Europe.

The 44th Bombardment Group was one of those Eighth Air Force units that flew the B-24 for the entire war, spending an unusually large amount of its time on tactical missions, as well as contributing detachments to the fighting in Italy.

The 93rd Bombardment Group was one of those Eighth Air Force units that operated the B-24 Liberator through the Second World War, taking part in the Strategic bombing campaign as well as sending three detachments to the Mediterranean and taking part in the attack on Ploesti

The 389th Bombardment Group was a B-24 unit of the Eighth Air Force that gained its first combat experience on detachment to North Africa between July and October 1943

The 392nd Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator group of the Eighth Air Force which operated from Wendling from July 1943 until June 1945.

The 445th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force which operated from Tibenham from November 1943 to the end of the war in Europe.

The 446th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force which operated from Flixton, England from November 1943 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 448th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force that operated from Seething from December 1943 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 453rd Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit that was active from Old Buckenham in England from February 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.

1 February

The Consolidated Liberator III was the British designation for the B-24D, serving with thirteen squadrons, seven of them performing maritime patrol duties.

The Consolidated Liberator IV was apparently the designation given to the B-24E for RAF service, but no squadrons appear to have used that aircraft.

The Consolidated Liberator VI was the RAF designation for the B-24H and early B-24Js, the first production versions of the aircraft to be built with a nose turret and was the most numerous RAF version of the Liberator

The Consolidated Liberator VII was the British designation for the C-87 Liberator Express long range transport plane.

The Consolidated Liberator VIII was the RAF designation for late production B-24Js. The type equipped twenty three squadrons, although ten of those were post-war transport squadrons, leaving thirteen wartime operators of the aircraft

The Consolidated Liberator IX was the RAF designation given to 27 RY-3 transport aircraft. This was a transport aircraft based on the PB4Y-2 Privateer, a specifically naval version of the B-24 Liberator.

The Consolidated LB-30 was the USAAF designation for 75 Liberator IIs taken from an RAF order in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor

The Consolidated B-24G Liberator was the designation given to B-24 Liberators built by North American at Dallas. It would become the third version of the aircraft to be built with a nose turret

The Consolidated B-24J Liberator was built in larger numbers than any version of the aircraft, with a total of 6,678 aircraft being built by all five factories involved in the Liberator Production Pool.

The single Consolidated XB-24K Liberator saw the first attempt to fit a single vertical tail to the B-24 with the aim of improving the stability of the aircraft

The Consolidated B-24L Liberator was an attempt to improve the performance of the aircraft by reducing its weight.

The Consolidated B-24M Liberator was the final production version of the aircraft, and was produced by the two remaining Liberator factories – Consolidated at San Diego and Ford at Willow Run.

The Consolidated XB-24N Liberator was a second attempt to fit the B-24 with a single fin and would have been the standard version of the aircraft if the war had continued into 1946

The Consolidated F-7 was a photographic reconnaissance version of the B-24 Liberator, produced at the Army Modification Centres.

The Consolidated C-109 Tanker was a fuel transport aircraft based on the B-24.

The Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator was the US Navy’s designation for the B-24, used to fly long range anti-submarine patrols

31 January 2008

No. 88 Squadron served as a medium bomber squadron throughout the Second World War, beginning and ending the war supporting the Army as it fought in Europe, although in very different circumstances.

No. 90 Squadron was the first RAF squadron to operate the Flying Fortress, but in an early ineffective version. It was later reformed as a Stirling and then Lancaster bomber squadron.

No. 96 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a night fighter unit (1940-1944) and then as a transport unit in India.

No. 97 Squadron was one of the small number of squadrons to use the Avro Manchester, before converting to the Lancaster at the start of 1942.

No. 98 Squadron began the war as a training unit operating the Fairey Battle, before being reformed as a Mitchell bomber squadron late in 1942.

No. 99 Squadron (Madras Presidency) spent most of the Second World War operating the Vickers Wellington, first from Britain and later from India, where it eventually converted to the Liberator.

The six Consolidated LB-30As were the first production version of the Liberator bomber to be produced, entering RAF Service in 1941.

The Consolidated Liberator I was the first version of the aircraft to see active service with the RAF, carrying out anti-submarine patrols with No.120 Squadron.

The Consolidated Liberator II was the final version of the aircraft to be build as part of the original French order for the LB-30 and the first to feature the long nose that became a standard feature of all later versions.

The Consolidated Liberator GR V was a version of the Liberator III/ B-24D modified for service with Coastal Command.

Updates from: 20142013201220112010200920082007


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