Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Operation Cygnet

Last few weeks have been a bit unpleasant for me, due to repeated bouts of illness, the last one, putting my back out, has prevented me from sitting at my desk, and so I was unable to write. Hence why I've been cheating with documentation. This week is no different, although in this case, we do get a story. Usually I'd use the following report as a basis for an article, with other research mixed in. However, that's not been an option. So you'll just have to put up with the raw Op Cygnet Report. 

Kangaroo's of hte 4th Hussars, depicting their use at the River Senio.
 

Op Cygnet was the crossing of the River Senio in Italy. This report follows the exploits of the armoured component, focusing on the use of Kangaroo APC's.






Sunday, June 13, 2021

360 or 20?

Here's another file from the archives. As you can see, from the introduction page, its a comparison between the differences of putting a turret on a tank, and having a casemate mounted weapon.



There's an interesting entry there, the SU-249, which I think is the ISU-122? Any Russian tank experts want to confirm or deny?


Also for something a bit longer, here's the link to the Bombard lie stream I did last week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRTMa-nj6Ww&t=1s

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Centuion!

Yesterday we had our first live stream, with several questions asked. It went better than I had anticipated, and I didn't run too much over the time limit. However, with that, combined to a short spell in hospital at the end of the week it's not left any time to get anything ready for you lot. So all I can offer are these very detailed plans of the Centurion Mk.I tank.

 

Hull


Engine deck Louvres

Turret


Cross sections of the turret

Shell ejection port

Access door at rear of the turret 














  

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Discount codes!

 Remember: Saturday the 5th of June, free presentation and Q&A

It is finally here. Release date for Defeating the Panzer-Stuka Menace. Although it depends on whom you buy it from Amazon says it is today, Pen & Sword say it is tomorrow. If you use the Pen & Sword link to buy your copy, then I can give you a code:

'AUTHOR25'

Gets you 25% off the entirety of Pen & Swords catalogue of books, so feel free to splash out (of course I would like it if you got my work).

Thought this would be a good time to talk about how accidentally it all started. Back in 2013 I'd just started writing for here. I was on a trip down to the National Archives at Kew. I was looking for stuff on tank guns to put in game when I pulled a file that started it was for a '23-pounder'. Eventually I realised it meant the Blacker Bombard, of course I was really confused as the file was talking about oil based recoil recuperators. I was about to return the file, when I turned the page and discovered some photographs of test firings with the Bombard, and that's when this book happened. I suddenly realised that instead of the joke weapon it is seen as today the Bombard was actually a deadly weapon. What followed was seven years of work. Covering all corners of the world, Documents arrived from Canada, the US, Germany and Australia from my friends. When they found something relating to the Bombard they'd send it to me. I even paid a few researchers.

As I put it all together I found a very interesting, and miss-represented weapon. Annoyingly no matter how hard I tried I could not get into Indian Documents. The Indian Army seems to have been one of the great users of the Bombard, and absolutely loved it. But political problems have prevented me from doing work on the subject there. Equally, for obvious reasons I was not able to find out the fate of the handful of Bombards sent to Russia.

Just some of the plethora of British Spigot weapons.
 

At this point I was on a roll, so started looking at other British spigot weapons. I quickly realised most were interlinked with their design feeding off each other. I turned up some amusing stories (like the time a Canadian literally stole a tank, by means that James Bond would approve. He seduced a lady in the Ministry of Supply). But even more interestingly I found what should have been a massive scandal.

Imagine, if you will, a Second World War where there was no serious U-boat threat in the Atlantic past the first half of 1942. Think of the huge numbers of lives, ships and material that could be saved. In the Hedgehog Anti-Submarine projector we had a weapon that would have swept the German U-boats from the sea. We were producing so much ammunition for it the Germans would have thought it was raining bombs. From a German point of view, what would be more terrifying was the nature of the weapon. boats would not know of the weapon, and would just vanish as if a Hedgehog salvo misses, no one in the attacking boat will ever know about it. If it hits, no-one ashore would find out what happened. 

 


What went wrong? Why did history take the path that it did? Well that was down to one major mistake (and a few minor ones) on behalf of the British, and that should have been the scandal. Yet it was locked in the documents until they were unsealed, and no-one had looked at them until I stumbled upon them.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Mistake in North Africa

Remember: Saturday the 5th of June, free presentation and Q&A.

 

Logistics is never sexy or exciting, but it is always vital to an army. It is even more important to an army operating in the deserts of North Africa. In this sun scorched wasteland there are no water supplies to fall back on, no large amounts of locally grown food and just as importantly no cover for what logistics you do have.

During the North African campaign in the Second World War both sides had a struggle with their logistical supplies. As your forces advanced across Libya you were in effect lengthening your supply lines, whilst the enemies’ lines shortened. This meant that your troops became worse supplied, while the defender was rolling in logistical support. This was in a large part what led to the early forward and back nature of the first years of the war in North Africa. One way to alleviate the problem to a degree was to capture the enemies supply bases. Petrol, food and water does not care who consumes it, it works either way. The Germans would have had the added advantage that they used quite a lot of British trucks to supply their lines, so the massive amount of spares they could capture would keep their logistics flowing.

Captured British trucks, re-captured towards the end of the African Campaign.
 

On the 24th of November 1941 during the German counterattack to Operation Crusader, Rommel launched his ‘Dash to the Wire’. A headlong drive straight to the Libyan border, ignoring Commonwealth units on their flanks. The following day the German attacks turned north-east and famously ran into the 1st Field Artillery Regiment, which cranked its 25-pounders down to zero elevation and held fire until the panzers were on them at short range. Salvo after salvo forced the Germans to retreat. A second attempt by the German tanks later that day met the same fate, the battered and decimated Royal Artillery 25-pounders threw them back.

 

However, when the majority of the Germans changed direction, some elements continued on their original course, into Egypt. Just three miles from the wire of the Libyan border was 50 Field Maintenance Centre (FMC), which contained a large portion of the supplies for 13th Corps. It also contained the Corps workshops, NAAFI and all the other myriad of supplies and functions that an army needs. There was also a POW camp with some 900 Axis prisoners, manpower the Afrika Korps could dearly use. To give an idea of scale, 50 FMC covered some 35 square miles! A massive store that would enable the Afrika Korps to drive even deeper into Egypt, slicing the forces involved in Operation Crusader off at the knees and giving the Germans a stunning victory.

Defending 50 FMC were the men of the RASC and a New Zealand HQ. Armed with nothing heavier than personal weapons, they had no defensive positions, indeed such a dispersed dump was impossible to fortify. Thus, at 0815 on the 25th, when the Germans arrived, after a brief firefight it was all over. The Allies were scattered or captured, and the Germans were in one corner of 50 FMC, and they quickly started refuelling and watering themselves from the stockpiles they came across.

Remember earlier when I said there was no cover in the desert? That meant that all of 50 FMC was heavily camouflaged to prevent it attracting hostile attention. Thus, when the Germans scanned the horizon, they saw no signs of the treasure that was in effect theirs. Not realising what lay around them, they thought they had captured a small supply cache. While the majority of the German column were refuelling, a scouting party was sent towards a local hill, nicknamed Beer Bottle Hill by the British.

The Germans ran headlong into the Commonwealth reinforcements. These consisted of the Central India Horse (a cavalry regiment), that was possibly still under strength after a mutiny in one of its squadrons the previous year. The CIH was mounted in carriers, although the sources do not mention if these mean Indian Pattern Carriers or the more well-known Universal Carrier. With them they had A Battery of the South African’s 2nd Anti-tank. This consisted of three troops of 2-pounders, and one troop of 18-pounders. All were carried Portee style on the back of trucks. Warned of the German approach the 2nd Anti-tank scattered into hull down positions and set up an impromptu firing line. Then a single Portee was ordered forward. The lone gun worked its way forward, hopping from dead ground to dead ground. Eventually it had a bead on a German halftrack, which it quickly destroyed. Believing a that contact had been made with an enemy force, and that the area had no significant features or reason to remain, the Germans remounted, and left 50 FMC. The Indians and South Africans followed, and were later reinforced by eleven Matilda’s from 42nd RTR to ensure security of 50 FMC.

 

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Thank you for reading. If you like what I do, and think it is worthy of a tiny donation, you can do so via Paypal (historylisty-general@yahoo.co.uk) or through Patreon. For which I can only offer my thanks. Or alternatively you can buy one of my books.

 

Credits & Sources:

 nam.ac.uk and www.insidegmt.com

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Talk Time

Those of you who have been paying attention will know that my next book is out in a couple of weeks. 'Defeating the Panzer-Stuka Menace' covers the entire story of Britain's love of Spigot Weapons, and covers what I could find of other countries Spigots.

Book cover, out at the end of May

Of the top of my head, the following weapons at least get a brief mention:

UK:

  • AEB bomb thrower, Arbalest, Bombard Experimental Gun, Bombard, Hedgehog, Hedgerow, Water Hammer, Mustard Plaster, Baby Bombard, Jefferis Gun, Stewblack Projector, PIAT, Petard, Denny Gun. Buffalo, Clarke Family (Tree, Ground, and Gun).

US:

  • US Tree Spigot, Bigot, T30 57mm

German:

  • Schwere & Leichter Ladungswerfer

Japanese:

  • Type 98

Obviously, the book focuses o the British use, as we developed the technology the most and used it for the most things. I hope to challenge several of the myths about the subject as well. Originally, I had been invited to give a couple of presentations at the War & Peace show this year. However, Covid 19 caused it to be cancelled, and my presentations went with it.

I do have a talk on the PIAT lined up for later this year through the Royal Armouries, but nothing close to release date. 

My desk set up, ready to stream.


 So on Saturday 5th of June, at 1900 BST, I will be live streaming via Youtube, and giving a presentation. This will be followed by a Q&A session where we can chat, or you can ask obscure questions about spigot weapons. This week I've been sorting out the tech for it, getting a second monitor and all the software sorted. I have never done anything like this before, so at the very least me fouling up should provide some amusement.

Slide from the presentation... Answers in Youtube chat on the day? Or below if you want to see what you can get out of me.

To repeat:

1900 BST, Saturday, 5th of June.

On my Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNssB7al6ty0OUU2YvT7AGQ 

 

I hope to see you all there!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Tank That Never Was

In the early 1960's the UK was looking at doing a joint reconnaissance vehicle with the French, as both our requirements matched closely in many respects. In the end the differences were too great, the main point of contention being the firepower, and the two nations went our separate ways. In the UK this lead to the British developing the CVR(T) family.

However, this brief foray into co-operative AFV design laid the seeds of co-operation had been sowed. At the time the British were just bringing the Chieftain into service. An unspoken rule of British weapon and tank design of the period was: when something enters service, you start working on its replacement. This is because tanks generally take about 10-15 years from start of the project to the vehicle entering service. Thus, with the recent near success of the reconnaissance project it was decided to approach the French with the idea to develop a new joint MBT. This would of course have the benefit of cutting costs.

After initial contact was made the French agreed that there might be something in the idea, and a working committee was established to take the next steps, and establish the ground work. As the committee meetings progressed the two sides became disillusioned with each other over a few matters, such as levels of armour protection, as the French thought the German idea of almost no armour and high speed was desirable, while the British wanted a robust tank to keep their men alive and survive the furnace of battle and trading shots with the Soviets, not running away from them at high speed! The latter comment obviously made the situation worse between the two sides.

UK delegation briefing notes on the subject of protection

 

Anyway, the ill will continued. The project was still unnamed after a three weeks of grumpy negotiations. The British, for example needed a name beginning with a 'C' as tradition demanded. Meanwhile French pride would not allow them to drive a tank named after a random British word. At every meeting of the committee the minutes of the meeting kept on coming back to this subject. Eventually, The British saw a path to a compromise. They offered to name the MBT project after a French town.The French discussed this, and at the next meeting agreed that this was acceptable. Finding it amusing that the Perfidious British would soon have an AFV named after a French town! The British delegation departed to draw up a short list and pick the town.

At  meeting number 13, on the 26th of August, the very last item in the minutes (item 46) was the name. The British spokesman, one Capitan G. Hunt, had been given the job of revealing the selected town's name. He stood, the French officers leaned forward to hear which of their towns was going to be used by the British. Cpt Hunt gazed around the assembled French officers and said simply 'Crécy'

 

Some of the above may not be entirely true, and I bet you could get the last half hour back as well... It should be noted when I told that story where a Frenchman could hear, the response was that he had heard the same thing, only the town named was 'Castillon', but I don't trust his sources!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Bionic Man

If there’s been one common theme for the second half of the last century, it is of the US armed forces spending eye-watering sums of money on advanced research ideas, which seem aimed solely at transferring the dreams of Sci-Fi writers to the modern military. Invariably these projects worked, but the useful effect was so slight it meant the project failed.

Pedipulator concept sketch
 

The first cropped up in the early 1960s from General Electric ltd. The idea was to build a sort of exoskeleton, that could serve as a truck for bad terrain. Named a ‘pedipulator’, and coming from the fertile mind of an engineer called Ralph Mosher. It consisted of a box body, containing a human strapped into the machine. There were direct mechanical links to the arms and the legs, allowing the machine to walk and work by mirroring the movements of the arms.

The pedipulator test rig. The legs seem to be on rails, so one assumes this was just to test the concept of leg movement.

 


A rough demonstrator idea was completed, which tested some of the functions, however, in 1964 the idea was scrapped. This was because the same technology had been switched to a much more promising idea, which was funded by the US Army. The vehicle had many names, such as ‘Quadruped’, ‘the walking truck’ and the official name ‘Cybernetic Anthropomorphous Machine’, which was abbreviated to CAM.

The CAM on a climbing test. There is footage of this test and one can see that the front legs are vastly more controllable, as they are linked to the humans arms.
 

CAM was a four-legged vehicle, which had a limb controlled by each driver’s limb. Thus, the drivers two arms controlled the front two legs, and the rear were controlled by the driver’s legs. There was force feedback supplied to the controls so the driver could feel the surface he was touching, and how much pressure he was exerting. These controls were linked to a hydraulic system that ran to the legs. The problem with the system was the constant mental load of working out what limb to move next, and how to move it to cause the machine to move in the desired way, caused the operator to rapidly become exhausted. The maximum a human could manage was about 15 minutes. Getting it wrong would lead to the machine toppling over. This led to the cancellation of the program.

The Project Hardiman exoskeleton that was built.
 

Ralph Mosher also worked on Project Hardiman. This was a much more conventional exoskeleton idea, not too dissimilar in concept and implementation to the Powerlifter from Aliens. It started life as Project Handyman, which was a control unit that allowed two manipulator arms to be remotely controlled. It developed into a full wearable exoskeleton. It was even suggested that up to a 50ft tall version of the exoskeleton could be built. It is stated that it could lift 750lbs with just one arm, however, it weighed in at 1500lb, and more importantly had to be connected to an external power source to provide the hydraulic pressure needed.


There are of course literally hundreds, if not thousands of designs and projects, sometimes created by amateur inventors. However, I wanted to take a look at one more, simply because it worked… albeit, like all the others it failed because it didn’t provide a useful benefit.

The ASV. you can see the sheer number of primitive computers involved here.
 

In 1981 the US Army asked the Ohio State University to develop a program called the Adaptive Suspension Vehicle (ASV). This was similar to the earlier CAM, in that it was a walking truck. Interestingly, the pilot did not drive the vehicle. Instead, he told it the destination, and it used onboard sensors to read the ground in front of it and do all the rest of the calculations. This meant that the driver did not get as exhausted as he had in the CAM. The machine was controlled by a massive number of computers. There were seventeen in total, and six were assigned to controlling the six legs. These computers were Intel 86/30 128k, 8-bit machines. The top speed was 8mph, which it is reported led to a jarringly painful ride. Equally, although the ASV weighed nearly 3 tons its carrying capacity was just 485lbs.


But, consider this. People have kept chipping away at the idea of walking vehicles, and each generation they have tried and failed as the technology has not been mature enough. But eventually, someone succeeds, like Boston Dynamic’s robotic quadruped, which is still trying to find its exact niche but does actually work and offer a workable solution.

 

Would you like to know more? Well there's a fantastic website out there called CyberneticZoo.com, it has a great many such projects, and even footage of several of the designs talked about here, and more images. Just use the sites search bar.

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Thank you for reading. If you like what I do, and think it is worthy of a tiny donation, you can do so via Paypal (historylisty-general@yahoo.co.uk) or through Patreon. For which I can only offer my thanks. Or alternatively you can buy one of my books.

 

Credits & Sources:

cyberneticzoo.com and www.ge.com,

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Radar Gunsights

I've had this report sitting on my hard drive for some years. No idea what to do with it, so might as well use it here.

Centurion Mk.II
 

Essentially, the British strapped the radar dish from one of these, to the top of a Centurion Mk.II, and opened fire to see what would happen.

Page 1

Page 2

Final Paragraph, plus date.

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Thank you for reading. If you like what I do, and think it is worthy of a tiny donation, you can do so via Paypal (historylisty-general@yahoo.co.uk) or through Patreon. For which I can only offer my thanks. Or alternatively you can buy one of my books.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Attack Boat

 In both World Wars the Germans very quickly, if they ever had it, lost control of the English Channel. This led to a rather unique situation where the Allies controlled the sea and could utterly batter the German forces on land with little worry of reprisals. As the Germans could not match the naval might of the Royal Navy, they had to resort to some unique technology to try and tackle the problem. A few weeks ago, we looked at one of these attempts in the Second World War, so now it is time to see what happened in the First World War.

 

HMS Earl of Peterborough, a Lord Clive Class monitor. Laid down January 1915, and commissioned in September of the same year!

In the First World War the Royal Navy had a series of bombardment monitors which would sail up and down the coast bombarding targets at will. A prime target was Zeebrugge. Thus, the Germans deployed a unit to the area equipped with Fernlenkboot’s, (FL-boat). These were small boats, with a 1,500lb explosive warhead and two fuses, although a third fuse would be fitted later to cause the craft to self-destruct if it missed its target. The FL-boat could reach some 30 knots, powered by a powerful petrol engine of advanced design. This engine was based on the 400hp engine designed by Victor Despujols before the war. In 1914 he would use a similar craft to set the world speed record on the Seine river. However, before that the boat was used for racing, and doing extremely well. Then one day at a race in Monaco the French boat did not show up, leaving a German, named Schmidt to easily win. An investigation was held, and it was found that the French boat had been sold to the Germans, with the backing of the Bosch representatives at the port. These were acting on behalf of Siemens, and very shortly the boat was at the Siemens works being analysed and reverse engineered.
Controls for the boat were done via a cable, this was about 12 miles in length, and signals to turn to port or starboard were transmitted down the cable. The drum with the cable on it weighed some 1,800lbs! Guidance for the craft was done by a plane shadowing it. It would relay directions back to base using morse code. The base unit would then steer the boat.

A FL-boat being unloaded from a railway car.
 

Late in December 1916 a British monitor was spotted sailing along the coast, so a FL-boat was prepared, the engines started, and the boat sent on its way. After about 10 miles the boat entered a circle and remained in that hard turn. It soon became clear that it was not responding to signals. A German destroyer had crossed the path of the boat and severed the wire. To prevent the boat falling into enemy hands it was destroyed by a German warship.
Over the next few months, the extra fuse was added to self-destruct the craft should the cable be cut. In February 1917 there was another attempt, however the fuse failed and self-destructed the craft before it reached the target. 

A FL-boat and its concrete hangar built at Zeebrugge to protect them.
 

In March 1917 the Germans tried something a bit different. A FL-boat was launched, but the cable drum and control unit were loaded onto a trawler. This allowed much more range. The target of this FL-boat was the Belgium town of Nieuwpoort. The FL-boat functioned perfectly and struck the concrete mole at the harbour. It is not recorded if the warhead exploded or not, however, the British stated that it did no damage, and at least some of the wreckage was recovered, which gave the British sufficient information to understand the weapon. 

 

Thus, when on the 6th of September the British monitor M.24 saw a speed boat heading towards her, the crew had a good idea of what was heading towards them and opened fire. On the sixth salvo from the assorted weapons on board, and at a range of 300 yards, the FL-boat was obliterated. However, on the 28th of October HMS Erebus and nine destroyers were steaming off the Belgium coast when they were attacked by a FL-boat. There are no details of what occurred in the run up to the attack, but none of the escorts or the monitor were able to sink the boat, and it struck the side of the ship. The resulting explosion killed two sailors and wounded fifteen more. The damage was limited to ripping some 50ft of the torpedo bulge off the side, but otherwise left the ship undamaged. A final attack in November was foiled when the boat was seen approaching, and then destroyed by HMS North Star. 

HMS M.15, sister ship to HMS M.24
 

The idea of the FL-boat would re-appear with added technology in the Second World War with the Linsen craft. These were a pair of high-speed motorboats. One was crewed by two sailors, while the other was an explosive boat. One sailor would steer their own boat, while the other controlled the explosive boat by radio. There are conflicting sources that state some of the FL-boats had radio control fitted, which adds to the confusion if they were or not. 


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Thank you for reading. If you like what I do, and think it is worthy of a tiny donation, you can do so via Paypal (historylisty-general@yahoo.co.uk) or through Patreon. For which I can only offer my thanks. Or alternatively you can buy one of my books.

 

Credits & Sources:

www.standingwellback.com