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Updates January-June 2007

30 June

The Junkers Ju 88 was one of the most versatile aircraft of the Second World War, serving as a bomber, night fighter and reconnaissance aircraft as well as in a minor role as a ground attack aircraft and anti tank weapon. It had just entered service at the outbreak of war in 1939 and remained in service until the end of the war.

28 June

The Junkers Ju 188 was an improved version of the Ju 88, one of the mainstays of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War

The Junkers Ju 288 was one entry in the “Bomber B” competition of 1939, designed to provide the Luftwaffe with a long range high performance medium bomber

The Junkers Ju 388 was developed as a high speed altitude bomber based on similar aircraft in the Ju 188 series.

The Junkers Ju 488 was a four engined heavy bomber based on earlier Junkers designs. It reached the prototype stage but no further

27 June

The Shenyang JJ-5 is a Chinese produced advanced fighter trainer produced from parts of the MiG-15 and MiG-17

The Avro Manchester was one of the least successful British aircraft of the Second World War. However, it was also the parent of probably the best British bomber of the war, the Avro Lancaster.

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first monoplane fighter used by the US Navy, and has the rare distinction of being an aircraft that got worse as it was developed

The Brewster Buffalo had an undistinguished career in British (and American) service.

The Stormovik was one of the most important aircraft of World War Two, its appearance over the battlefield struck fear into German troops and helped turn the tide of the war for the Soviets.

The Shin Meiwa SS-2 (PS-1/ US-1) is one of the few flying boats to see extensive use in the 1960s and beyond.

The F & W C 3605 Schlepp target-tug began life as a fighter bomber during the Second World War and ended it as a target tug in 1987

The Morane Saulnier M.S. 406 was the most numerous fighter aircraft in French service in 1940, but was not equal to the role.

The Morane Saulnier M.S. 405 was the development version of the most numerous French fighter of the Second World War.

The Morane Saulnier M.S. 410 was an attempt to improve the firepower of the M.S. 406

26 June

The Bristol Blenheim was a light bomber, that when first designed was one of the fastest military aircraft in the world. Sadly, by the time war broke out in 1939 it had been leapfrogged by more modern aircraft, and the Blenheim would turn out to be slow and vulnerable to modern fighters.

The Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke was the Canadian version of the Blenheim

25 June

The Dornier Do 17 was one of the main German bombers in the first year of the Second World War, but was soon replaced by more modern aircraft

The Dornier Do 215 was a version of the Do 17 originally intended for the export market, but taken over by the Luftwaffe at the start of the Second World War

The Dornier Do 217 was a German bomber that saw most of its service in western Europe during the middle years of the Second World War

The Dornier Do 317 was a failed attempt to produce a long range medium bomber based on the Do 217.

24 June

The Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffon) was the only long range heavy bomber to enter Luftwaffe service during the Second World War. It arrived too late, in too small numbers and was too unreliable to have any impact on the war.

The Heinkel He 274 was a four engined high-altitude version of the He 177 that did not fly until after the end of the war.

The Heinkel He 277 was a four engined version of the He 177 that was developed too late to enter service.

23 June

Today we look at the Heinkel He 111 , one of the most important German bombers during the first half of the Second World War and a familiar sight in the skies over Britain during 1940.

Less well known are the Arado Ar 80 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 159, two fighters designed to the same specification as the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

20 June

Four American Civil War army lists and one navy list today - Williamsburg, 5 May 1862 , First battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862 , Shiloh, 6-7 April 1862 , Perryville, 8 October 1862 and Navies at the battle of Memphis, 6 June 1862

19 June

The First Diadoch War, 322-320 BC saw the first open fighting between the former generals of Alexander the Great.

The Settlement at Triparadisus, 320 BC was an attempt to set up a structure to rule Alexander the Great's empire after the First Diadoch War.

The Second Diadoch War, 319-316 BC was triggered by the death of Antipater, regent of Macedonia.

The Battle of Gabiene, 316 BC, ended the Second Diadoch War in Asia

18 June

We look at the career of the Seleucid emperor Antiochus III the Great, beginning with his defeat of a rebellion under the satrap Molon in a battle near Apollonia in Media (220 BC)

The Battle of the Plane Tree Pass, 218 BC was a Seleucid victory during the Fourth Syrian War.

The Battle of Raphia, 22 June 217, was the decisive battle of the Fourth Syrian War, and an Egyptian victory over Antiochus III

Returning to the Wars of the Diadochi, we look at the Settlement of Babylon of 323 BC, a short lived attempt to divide up power within the empire of Alexander the Great.

17 June

The Fourth Syrian War, 221-217 BC was a generally inconclusive war between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt

The War of the Brothers, c.241-236 BC was a civil war in the Seleucid Empire that followed the Third Syrian War

The Battle of Ancyra, 240 or 239 B.C. was the main battle of the War of the Brothers, a civil war in the Seleucid Empire

The Battle of Andros, 246 or 245 B.C. was a Macedonian victory over an Egyptian fleet, of uncertain date. It probably took place at the same time as the Third Syrian War, but was not actually part of that conflict.

The Third Syrian War, 246-241 BC (Laodicean War) was one of a series of conflicts between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt, ending in a minor Egyptian victory

16 June

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was the main US Navy dive bomber during the last two years of the Second World War despite a poor reputation and prolonged development process.

Our 100th aircraft is the Curtiss A-25 Shrike, a USAAF diver bomber based on the Navy's SB2C Helldiver

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was the most important American naval dive bomber of the Second World War, responsible for the sinking of four Japanese fleet carriers at the battle of Midway.

15 June

The Douglas A-24 Banshee was a US dive bomber based on the Navy SBD Dauntless with a short front line career

The Northrop BT-1 was an early version of the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber

A return to the American Civil War with:

The Battle of Newtonia, 30 September 1862, was a minor battle in southern Missouri during the American Civil War

The Capture of New Orleans, 18-29 April 1862, saw a Union fleet capture the largest city in the Confederacy

The Battle of New Madrid, 13 March 1862, was part of the Union advance down the Mississippi that slowly split the Confederacy in half

14 June

The Douglas TBD Devastator was the main American torpedo bomber in 1941, but it had to be withdrawn after suffering from heavy loses at the battle of Midway

The Handley Page Heyford was the last biplane heavy bomber used by the RAF.

The Handley Page Harrow was a short lived bomber aircraft that saw service as a transport aircraft during the Second World War

12 June

We finish our look at the major American fighter aircraft of the Second World War with a series of articles on the P-40 Warhawk. This was the main Army fighter when America entered the war, and although it was never in the front rank of fighters, the P-40 was never entirely outclassed. In British service, as the Tomahawk and later Kittyhawk it played an important role in North Africa. We also look at the P-40's precursor, the XP-37, and three attempts to improve the aircraft - the XP-46, XP-53 and XP-60. Despite their best efforts, Curtiss were never able to produce an replacement worth disrupting production to bring into service.

7 June

Today we add a series of twenty one articles on the North American P-51 Mustang, one of the best fighter aircraft to see service during the Second World War.

6 June

The Second Syrian War, 260-255 BC, was a badly documented war that saw Egypt loose much of the lands gained in the First Syrian War. The Battle of Cos, 258 BC was the main battle of that war, and saw the Egyptian fleet defeated by Macedonia.

5 June

The Battle of Crannon, August 322 B.C., was a Macedonia victory that ended serious Greek resistance during the Lamian War

The battle of Amorgos, July 322 B.C. was a naval defeat during the Lamian War than ended Athenian naval power.

The Battle of Abydos, 322 B.C., was the first of two naval defeats during the Lamian War than ended Athenian naval power.

Biography of Cleitus, d.318, a Macedonian Admiral important in the early years of the War of the Diadochi

4 June

Today we look at the The Diadochi, the successors to Alexander the Great, giving a brief summary of their lives.

The Lamian or Hellenic War, 323-321 BC was a Greek revolt against Macedonian control. The siege of Lamia (322 B.C.) saw the Greek rebels trap Antipater in the town of Lamia

3 June

We return to the ancient world with a look at the wars of the Hellenistic kingdoms that appeared after the death of Alexander the Great, starting with Eumenes’ War, 263-261 BC, a conflict that established the independence of Pergamum, the First Syrian War, 276-272 BC in which Ptolemy II of Egypt defeated Antiochus, ruler of the Seleucid Empire and a biography of Ptolemy Keraunos, son of Ptolemy I of Egypt and briefly king of Macedonia. We also add a list of the members of the Seleucid Dynasty

1 June

We start June with twelve articles on the Vickers Wellington, the most important British bomber during the first half of the Second World War. Included in these articles is an account of the battle of Heligoland Bight (18 December 1939), a disaster that helped to end daylight bombing for nearly five years, and four items of equipment used on the Wellington - Browning 0.303in Mark II Machine Gun (R.A.F.), Frazer-Nash (Parnall) FN5 Bomber Gun Turret, Frazer-Nash (Parnall) FN25 Bomber Gun Turret and the Leigh Light

31 May

Two American Civil War battles today - the Battle of Wilson’s Creek - an early Union defeat in Missouri that saw the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the Union commander in the state and the Second battle of Winchester, an early battle in the Gettysburg campaign.

30 May

Today we add a series of 23 articles on the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, one of the most distinctive fighter aircraft of the Second World War.

27 May

Four American Civil War battles today: The naval battle of Memphis, 6 June 1862, a Union fleet defeats the Confederate defenders of the city on the Mississippi and seizes control of Memphis; Mill Springs or Logan Cross Roads, 19 January 1862, a Union victory in eastern Tennessee that had little long term impact; Battle of Milliken’s Bend, 7 June 1863, a failed Confederate attempt to relieve the siege of Vicksburg and the Battle of Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864, a Union victory that closed the port of Mobile to Confederate blockade runners

25 May

The Short Stirling was the first of the four engined "heavies" to enter RAF service, but was also the first to be withdrawn.

16 May

Three American Civil War battles to start today: The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, 15 May 1862, was a succesful Confederate defence of Richmond against an attack by the Union fleet on the James River. The Battle of Groveton, 28 August 1862, was a preliminary battle in the campaign of Second Bull Run. Finally, the Siege of Harper’s Ferry, 13-15 September 1862 fatally distracted Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North

The Handley Page Halifax was the second of Britain's four engined heavy bombers of the Second World War. Second to enter service after the Short Stirling, it was also second in terms of bombed dropped, after the Avro Lancaster, dropping more bombs than every other type of Bomber Command aircraft combined. Today we add a series of fourteen articles on this important aircraft.

15 May

The Battle of the Aegates Islands, 241 BC, was a decisive Roman naval victory that ended the First Punic War.

14 May

The sack of Agrigentum, 254 B.C., saw Carthage recapture and sack her former ally, lost to Rome in 262 B.C.

The Siege of Panormus, 254 B.C., saw the Romans capture an important Carthaginian base in northern Sicily

The Battle of Panormus, 251 B.C. was a Roman victory over a Carthaginian army attempting to recapture Panormus, on the north coast of Sicily

The Siege of Lilybaeum, 250-241 B.C., was a long running Roman attempt to capture the main Carthaginian base left on Sicily.

The Battle of Drepanum, 249 B.C. was the only serious Roman naval defeat of the First Punic War.

The Siege of Drepanum, 242-241 B.C. saw the Romans threaten one of two remaining Punic bases on Sicily.

Velites were Roman light infantry, equipped with a small round shield, a bundle of light javelins and a gladius

13 May

Six American fighter aircraft today, starting with the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the most famous fighter aircraft of the Second World War.

It had four precursors, starting with the Seversky P-35, the first fighter produced by the Seversky company. The Seversky XP-41 was a project that never entered production, being replaced by the Republic P-43 Lancer, an undistinguished fighter that saw limited service in 1940 (In 1939 Seversky was renamed Republic). The Republic XP-44 Rocket was the final stepping stone on the road to the P-47 Thunderbolt. It never progressed beyond the prototype stage and was cancelled in favour of the Thunderbolt.

Finally, the Republic XP-72 was a development of the P-47 Thunderbolt that did not enter production.

11 May

A biography of Earl van Dorn today. Van Dorn commanded for the Confederacy at two battles, both of which he lost. He was an able cavalry commander but his career was cut short by his murder in 1863

10 May

A return to the First Punic War today, starting with the Siege of Messana of 264 B.C., the first fighting between Rome and Carthage. The following year saw a Roman campaign on Sicily that resulted in an alliance between Syracuse and Rome, allowing the Romans to concentrate on defeating Carthage. The main event of 262 was the siege and battle of Agrigentum, a major Roman victory but one with disappointing results.

The first years of the First Punic War saw the fighting concentrated around Sicily. However, in 256 the Romans launched an invasion of Punic North Africa. They landed near the town of Aspis, capturing it after a siege. From there they moved on to besiege Adys. While they were engaged in that siege the Carthaginians advanced to offer battle, suffering a heavy defeat at the battle of Adys, a victory that came close to ending the war.

9 May

The Avro Lancaster was the most famous RAF bomber of the Second World War, dominating Bomber Command's strategic bombing campaign against Germany. We add a series of nine articles on this aircraft.

2 May

For a period in the 1930s the Royal Air Force was dominated by Hawker aircraft.

The Hawker Hart was a fast light bomber that could outpace any RAF fighter when it first appeared in 1928. It was also the start of a series of seven aircraft that appeared at regular intervals during the 1930s.

The Hawker Demon was a two seat fighter produced from the Hawker Hart. The Hawker Hind was a replacement for the Hawker Hart light bomber designed to fill a gap before the arrival of more modern aircraft. The Hawker Audax was the first of a series of army co-operation aircraft based on the Hawker Hart. The Hawker Hardy was a further development of the Hawker Audax army co-operation aircraft, designed specifically for service in the Middle East. The Hawker Hector was designed to replace the Hawker Audax as an army co-operation aircraft. The Hawker Hartebeeste was a version of the Audax produced for the SAAF. The Hawker Osprey was a naval version of the Hawker Hart light bomber, converted to act as a Fleet Spotter/ Reconnaissance aircraft

The Hawker Nimrod was a naval version of the Hawker Fury single seat fighter

The Hawker Henley was designed as a light bomber closely related to the Hawker Hurricane although it only saw service as a target tug

1 May

We return to the American Civil War with the Battle of Hampton Roads. This was the first battle between ironclad warships, making it one of the most significant battles in naval history. The battle itself was tactically a draw - neither of the two ironclads involved could sink the other - and a strategic victory for the Union, who retained command of the James River.

30 April

The Hawker Tornado was a variant of the Typhoon powered by the failed Rolls Royce Vulture engine.

The Hawker Typhoon was originally designed as an interceptor. Despite failing in that role, it later became a very potent ground attack aircraft.

The Hawker Tempest was the final development of the Typhoon and was an excellent fighter aircraft capable of taking on the German jets

27 April

The Reggiane Re.2001 Falco II was a much improved development of the Re.2001 using a German engine produced under license in Italy.

The Reggiane Re.2002 Ariete (Ram) was a fighter bomber developed from the Re.2001

The Reggiane Re.2003 was a reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Re.2002. It did not enter production.

The Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario (Archer) was the last and best of the Reggiane fighter, but appeared too late to help the Italian cause.

26 April

Five First World War aircraft today - the Fokker DR.I and Fokker E.I/E.III for Germany, the Spad VII and XIII for France and the Bristol F-2 Fighter and Sopwith Snipe for Britain.

The Reggiane Re.2000 Falco (Falcon) was one of the best Italian fighters developed before the Second World War, but was not adopted by the Italian Air Force

The MÁVAG Héja II was a more advanced version of the Reggiane Re.2000, produced under license in Hungary

25 April

Edward “Butch” O’Hare was the U.S. Navy's first fighter ace of the Second World War, and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honour.

The GAF Nomad was an Australian aircraft of the 1970s, which it was hoped would revitalise the Australian aircraft industry. Although it did not achieve that, it did see service with a number of regional air forces.

The Fairey Swordfish was the main Fleet Air Arm torpedo bomber used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Despite its outdated appearance it was a very effective aircraft, and remaining in front line service until 1945.

24 April

A return to the Pacific war today with a series of eleven articles on the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, probably the best American naval fighter of the Second World War, and the standard Marine Corps fighter from the middle of 1943. We also look at the Goodyear F2G "Super Corsair", which would have started to replace the Corsair if the war had continued into 1946.

23 April

Two very different Soviet aircraft to start the week. The Tupolev Tu-126 ‘Moss’ was the first AWACS aircraft to enter Soviet service, and was developed from the Tu-114 civilian airliner. As such it was a proven design, if not ideally suited to the AWACS role. In contrast the Yakavlev Yak-38 Forger was a VTOL aircraft, similar to the Harrier. It was a ground breaking design, but an unsuccessful one, and was unpopular with its pilots.

The Bristol Beaufighter was the first dedicated night fighter to enter RAF service. As well as a solid career as a night fighter, it was developed into an excellent anti-shipping weapons and even a torpedo bomber. As well as our main article, we also add an article on the main variants of the Beaufighter, and another on the squadrons that used the Beaufighter.

The Bristol Buckingham was a light bomber that had already been superceded by the time it entered production in 1944. More successful was the closely related Bristol Buckmaster trainer, the most powerful advanced trainer to enter RAF service during the Second World War. Finally, the Bristol Brigand was designed as a torpedo bomber version of the Buckingham, but eventually entered service as a light bomber and ground attack aircraft, seeing service in Malaya during the Emergency.

20 April

The Dewoitine D.520 was the best fighter aircraft available to the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) in 1940. Sadly, it was not available in sufficient numbers to pose a serious threat to the Luftwaffe. It was the first of a series of proposed fighters. The D.521, D.522, D.523 and D.524 each used a different engine, none entered production. The D.551 was a much more advanced aircraft, with a top speed of over 400mph. However, none of the prototypes were complete at the time of the French collapse. Finally, the SE.520z was a version of the fighter developed in Vichy France. It did reach the prototype stage, but only after the German occupation of Vichy, and never took to the air.

19 April

The Hawker Hurricane was the first monoplane fighter to enter RAF service, and was still the most important RAF fighter during the Battle of Britain. After that it gained another lease of life as an excellent ground attack aircraft. Today we add a major article on the combat record of the Hurricane, six articles on its major variants and look at the Hawker Fury Monoplane, an earlier project from the same company.

The Boulton Paul Defiant was a rather less successful British fighter, based around a four gun powered turret. After a spectacular debut in May 1940 its weaknesses were soon exposed, and it was quickly withdrawn as a day fighter. It had a second, more successful career as a night fighter, serving in that role until 1942.

The Bristol Beaufort was the RAF's main land based torpedo bomber from 1940 to 1943. It was also the basis for the Bristol Beaufighter, a powerful night fighter that eventually replaced the Beaufort as a torpedo bomber.

18 April

Today we add the Saab Draken, an impressive product of the Swedish aircraft industry and the Fairey Battle, a British light bomber notorious for the heavy loses it suffered in 1940.

17 April

We return after Easter with a major series of articles on the de Havilland Mosquito. The most versatile aircraft of the Second World War, the Mosquito served as a bomber, fighter bomber, night fighter and photo reconnaissance aircraft, relying on its speed to avoid enemy aircraft. Our coverage of the Mosquito runs to forty articles, including twenty nine on the major variants of the aircraft and eight on its combat record.

31 March

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.

30 March

Three background articles today: A brief history of war in the air from the earliest experiments with lighter than air craft, a timeline of war in the air and a glossary of common abbreviations.

29 March

Three post-war aircraft today. 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.

28 March

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.

26 March

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.

24 March

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.

23 March

Three main French-built fighter aircraft faced the Luftwaffe in 1940. The Bloch MB-152 was probably the least successful of them, ordered in to production largely because of delays to more promising aircraft. The MB-152 was the third 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.

22 March

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.

21 March

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.

20 March

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.

19 March 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.

17 March 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.

16 March 2007

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.

14 March 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.

13 March 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.

12 March 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.

2 March

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.

1 March

A look at the Taliban, currently resurgent in southern Afghanistan.

26 February

Four more American Civil War biographies today: Edward Moody McCook, one of many members of his family to fight in the Civil War, and a good leader of Union cavalry; Irvin McDowell, the defeated Union commander at First Bull Run, and unfortunate scapegoat after Second Bull Run; Ambrose Powell Hill, one of Lee's lieutenants in Virginia, who died on the last day of the siege of Petersburg and Stirling Price, one of many conditional Unionists who ended up fighting for the Confederacy.

24 February

A look at the eastern front during the Second World War today, with articles on Fyodor I. Tolbukhin(1894 – 1949), one of the finest Soviet generals of the war, and on the battle around Kharkov in February-March 1943: Manstein's Counterblow, one of the finest examples of a victory won with inferior numbers.

23 February

Into the 'Fs' today, with three Civil War battles that involved forts. The siege of Fort Pulaski, 10-11 April 1862, saw Union forces seize the key fort defending the approaches to the port of Savannah, denying it to Confederate blockade runners. The Battle of Fort Pillow, 10 May 1862, was a minor Confederate victory on the Mississippi, won by their fleet. Finally, the siege of Fort Fisher, 13-15 January 1865 saw the Union block Wilmington, the last port providing supplies to General Lee's armies around Richmond.

20 February

Black Week saw the British in South Africa suffer three defeats in six days at the hands of the Boers. Magersfontein we have already added, and today we complete the set with the battle of Stormberg (10 December 1899), the first of the three defeats, inflicted on a British army that had got badly lost during a night march, and the battle of Colenso (15 December 1899) at which the British commander in chief in South Africa, Sir Redvers Buller, revealed how little suited he was to battlefield command.

13 February

A return to our alphabetic American Civil War updates today with the battles of Cedar Mountain, Chantilly and Crampton's Gap, all battles of the late summer and early autumn of 1862.

12 February

The first year of the Boer war was dominated by sieges. Today we look at the first attempt to relieve the siege of Kimberley. After two hard fought but uncomplicated victories at Belmont (23 November 1899) and Rooilaagte (25 November 1899), Lord Methuen's expedition came close to disaster at the Modder River (28 November 1899), before being stopped in its tracks at Magersfontein, one of three defeats that made up "Black Week".

10 February

For our last update of the week we add four American Civil War biographies. For the Confederacy we add Richard H. Anderson, a general who was present at just about every major battle in Virginia, Nathan George Evans, a general whose early achievements results in promotion beyond his abilities, and Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, one of the victors of First Bull Run. For the Union we add Joseph Hooker, one of the more controversial general of the war. Despite a very high profile failure at Chancellorsville, and a resignation only days before Gettysburg, Hooker's career continued until he resigned for a second time, just outside Atlanta.

9 February

The raid on Zeebrugge of 22-23 April 1918 is a lesser known British success of the First World War. The raid blocked one port used by the U-Boats, and provided a great boost to British and allied morale during a period of great German success.

5 February

A look at the Siege of Ladysmith (2 November 1899-27 February 1900) today. The siege started with two British defeats on 30 October 1899 ("Mournful Monday"), at Nicholson's Nek and Lombard Kop. However, the Boers did not conduct the siege vigorously. Their only major attack on the British lines was the Battle of the Platrand (6 January 1900), an assault that was beaten back with comparatively heavy loses on both sides.

3 February

We turn to an earlier American war, with a look at the capture of Fort Ticonderoga (11 May 1775). This is seen as the first offensive action take by the American rebels. The guns captured at Ticonderoga would soon be put to use around Boston.

1 February

We return to the Boer War with the battle of Rietfontein or Modderspruit (24 October 1899), an inconclusive battle that helped the British pull back from exposed positions in Natal into Ladysmith.

30 January

Today we add a pair of American Civil War biographies. George Meade was the victor of Gettysburg, a career soldier never commanded a unit smaller than a brigade! His performance at Gettysburg, in a defensive battle, was masterly, but his offensive skills were not so impressive. The same might be said of James Longstreet, one of Robert E. Lee's most important lieutenants. In his case it was the speed of his attacks that had come in for some criticism, although in most cases, such as at Chickamauga, when they went in those attacks were effective.

28 January

We expand our interactive section with a set of word search puzzles with a military history theme.

27 January

Today we add the Battle of Fair Oaks or Seven Pines (31 May-1 June). This was the first major Confederate attempt to push McClellan's Union army away from Richmond. The Confederate commander, Joseph Johnston, hoped to take advantage of a split in the Union army, but the attack was badly handled. The most significant result of the battle was that Johnston was seriously wounded, allowing Robert E. Lee to take command of the Confederate armies around Richmond. We also add the army lists for the battle of Fair Oaks. These lists, complete with the commanding officers of each unit (where known), were originally published in the Battles and Leaders of the Civil War volumes, and were based on the official records. The original format is not very easy to use, so we hope our clearer versions will be of use.

25 January

We start today with the Second Battle of Bull Run or Manassas, one of the most important Confederate victories of the war, and one that made it clear that Union efforts to win the war in 1862 had failed. We also begin a new series of army lists with the armies at Second Bull Run.

Continuing with an alphabetic theme, we also add the battle of Baton Rouge (5 August 1862), a failed Confederate counterattack on the Mississippi (with army list), the battle of Bayou Forche (10 September 1863), a Union victory during the invasion of Arkansas, the battle of Brandy Station (9 June 1863), the largest cavalry battle of the civil war and the battle of Bristoe Station (14 October 1863), an incident in the indecisive fighting that followed the Gettysburg campaign.

23 January

We continue our major series of articles on Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of Japan in 1945. Today we add the third article in the series, looking at the Allied intelligence about the Japanese plans for the defence of the home islands.

20 January

The battle of Wake Island (8-23 December 1941) was one of several Japanese attacks launched on the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their first attack (11 December) was a rare early failure, but a second assault captured the island, which remained in Japanese hands until the end of the war.

17 January

As the rest of Virginia moved to leave the Union at the start of the American Civil War, West Virginia moved to leave Virginia. Today we add articles on six of the battles that followed in 1861, as the south attempted to force West Virginia into secession - Philippi (3 June), Rich Mountain (12 July), Corrick's Ford (13 July), Gauley Bridge (3 September), Cheat Mountain (10-15 September) and Carnifex Ferry (10 September). The Confederacy lost all six battles, and with them West Virginia. The fighting in West Virginia saw George McClellan win prominence after commanding at Rich Mountain, and saw Robert E. Lee's first battlefield command, at Cheat Mountain. We also include a timeline of events in West Virginia.

15 January

The Battle of Elandslaagte (21 October 1899) was a minor British victory early in the Boer War. It helped keep open the railway between Ladysmith and Dundee, but the British soon retreated into Ladysmith, where they would be besieged until the end of February 1900.

12 January

Edward S. Bragg is an example of a civilian who made a successful transition to military service during the American Civil War. A pre-war lawyer, Bragg started the war as a captain. During a military career that included Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Grant's Overland campaign against Richmond and the battle of Petersburg he was repeated promoted, reached the rank of Brigadier General in June 1864. His final command was the "Iron Brigade", the unit that suffered the highest proportion of casualties in the Union army. Bragg was not a political general. He had no pre-war contacts to ease his rise, instead earned each promotion by merit.

8 January 2007

Our first article for 2007 looks at the battle of the Somme (June-November 1916), one of the most controversial battles of the First World War. The first day of the battle of the Somme saw the British army lose 19,240 dead, the worst single day in British military history. Over the next five months Haig kept attacking, suffering huge casualties, although also inflicting massive loses on the German army, including crucial loses amongst the highly skilled German junior officers.

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