Purpose of this blog

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

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Tank: The Next Generation

Some weeks ago I ran the design a tank competition. The number of entries was rather low, as in, only two designs. One design came in, on the last day, and is part of the reason for the results delay, as the winner isn't answering his email! This, I suppose makes my life easier as judging is pretty simple.

So the only winner I have to show to you is Bob Mackenzie's winning design:

Step forward Mr Mackenzie, and give your tank a cool name!

The FMBT 2040 is a “light” MBT. Although protected against 155mm shell splinters exploding 5m away, 20mm APDS and AT mines, it is not heavily armoured, relying on superior situational awareness, mobility and advanced APS for survivability

1)    1750bhp diesel electric drive. The engine powers electric motors on the sprockets, giving exceptional acceleration and mobility. The cooling fans for the engine are double the “traditional” size to reduce ambient engine temperature and this reduce IR signature.

2)    Micro drone hanger. Carries 10 micro drones each equipped with a high-res zoomable camera and a multi frequency (jam resistant) data link plus a GPS receiver. The drone increases situational awareness and allows the tank to conduct its own indirect fires.

3)    TV cameras with overlapping (for redundancy) 360 deg coverage horizontally and 180 deg vertically

4)    Active Protection System. Each point around the tank is overlapped by at least three tubes allowing for redundancy and combat sustainability. System will deal with both slow (missile) and fast (APFSDS) threats

5)    Millimetre Wave radar targeting sensor of APS, with a supporting IR system.

6)    Main commanders’ optical sight, wide angle and zoom optics plus a thermal imager and a laser rangefinder

7)    GPS receiver. Should this be jammed / non-functional then the tanks combat information system may receive position updates from other thanks in its company. There is an auxiliary inertial system.

8)    Datalink antenna for drones, has 20 different frequency settings allowing the tank to “watch” multiple drones and to watch drones for other vehicles plus larger drones supporting the formation.

9)    Bustle autoloader, able to deal with 3 types of ammo. There are blow off safety panels on the roof.

a.    HE with a programmable airburst fuse (burst position for direct fires determined by laser rangefinder, for indirect fires based on the GPS co-ordinates of the directing drone). This round has a very much reduced propellant charge compared to other rounds.

b.    Monolithic Heavy APFSDS. Long rod penetrator for dealing frontally with heavily armoured legacy threats

c.    Triform APFSDS. Contains three penetrators each sufficient to deal will all but the heaviest frontal armour. Once out of the barrel the penetrators diverge laterally then resume a converging course. Flight path is determined by the tank’s fire control computer in conjunction with the laser rangefinder. Penetrators have a MMW radar absorbent coating. The coating, plus the number and differing approach vectors to the target is designed to confuse and overwhelm enemy APS.

10)    Gantry to allow loading of cassettes for the autoloader rapidly and under fire

11)    Sensor mast which telescopes up to 15m high. For transport (and fitting under bridges) it may hydraulically pivot backwards

12)    120mm main gun. With the change to APS as the primary method of protection, rather than armour, the 120mm is sufficient for all armoured threats in 2040. As legacy heavy armour systems are retired the tank is able to be down gunned to 105mm to allow for more ammunition to be carried.

13)    Main gunner’s sight. Dual channel TV and thermal imaging, plus a laser rangefinder

14)    Crew module. Turret is unmanned and the three crew members sit in the hull. Crew sit reclined and low down in the hull to reduce their exposure to fire. The Module has an automatic fire extinguisher plus an NBC system. Escape doors to either side and in the vehicle floor

15)    Now noise APU to power the electronic systems. Allows operation with the main engine turned off. For truly silent operation in sunny climes optionally an 10m x 10m rolled solar panel mat is provided (to be laid on the ground)

16)    Multi-spectrum smoke dischargers (opaque to laser, thermal imagers and MMW radar)

17)    Main exhaust. Exhaust is mixed with ambient air to reduce the IR signature

18)    Multipurpose, tuneable, jammer and radar warning. The jammer can be tuned to known threat frequencies for IEDs and enemy drones. A separate antenna is designed to operate against enemy MMW radar for APS. APS radars and drone links are too low power to be reliably detected by a simple threat receiver, however enemy jammers can be easily detected.

19)    Commanders’ auxiliary position (unmanned except in emergency). It is cramped but has direct view periscopes, auxiliary firing controls and auxiliary driving controls. These are routed on the opposite side of the tank to the primary controls. In the event of damage to various electronic components (for example the vehicle’s camera system) the tank can be fought from this position and moved to safety.


Now interestingly Mr Mackenzie has gone the same direction as Rheinmetall's designers in the new KF51 Panther, which they put on show earlier this year.

The concept is that by using other systems you can lighten the amount of armour you put on the tank, producing a lighter chassis and the massive cost benefits this creates.Why do I suggest the Panther is light on armour? Well by looking at the weight. The tanks weight range is 50-60 tons, hence the designation of KF51. Into that weight you've stuck a 130mm gun, autoloader and four crew, which is more stuff than current modern western tanks have, and yet they weigh around 70 tons. In addition the Panther is stated to have defences against top attack weapons, although it is obviously secret at this time. So unless the scientists at Rheinmetall have worked out how to break the laws of physics (which admittedly may have happened), the only way to achieve the specified weight is by stripping off huge slabs of armour.

Whilst modern anti-missile systems can, and likely, will destroy any incoming missiles, they can only intercept the first few launched at you. Most anti-missile systems these days will not shoot down more than about four missiles, and many will only be able to intercept two... then what? At that point your tank will be hit. We've seen in Ukraine some examples of Russian tanks surviving the first hit, at which point the Ukrainian defenders fire off another missile. There are other factors at play as well, anti-missile systems which shoot down incoming missiles all need targeting data, and there is no passive way of obtaining that information with enough accuracy to achieve interception. Thus you need a radar system emitting, which will give away your position. What if you're in a hidden position with anti-missile system switched off, and the enemy see you and launch on you? Equally, if you are fighting as part of a combined arms group (which you should be, again See Russian activities in Ukraine for an example of why you should do it), the infantry are at risk from the tanks anti-missile system, so it may well be switched off. That's the good thing about huge slabs of armour, it's always working and available as protection.

Of course, that's my own view. Obviously not everyone agrees with me, including those who do this for a living. So Thank you to Mr Mackenzie for submitting his design, and allowing me to start a discussion on the subject. I'd also point to feature number 10 on Mr Mackenzie's design, which is something a lot of people utterly neglect to think about, so a bonus point, if not several, for that!

Sunday, July 3, 2022

A Tanks Future [competition]

Last week I asked if the tank is dead, which it is not. However, I suggested the shape of the tank may well change. But change to what?

Well we can all take our guesses as to what a tank will look like, so why don't we? Lets have a competition.


I have sitting on my book shelf, five brand new copies of the second edition of Forgotten Tanks & Guns. This is the paper back version of my first book. As it is the second edition it has some corrections in it, and I've gotten new artwork done to harmonise a lot of the drawings. In the first edition the artwork didn't get done on time, so I was sitting there drawing stuff, which led to the rather terrible plan drawings in some chapters. Well these have been replaced by the cracking 3d drawings from Andrei Kirushkin.

I can of course sign the books before dispatch, or include a message. Just be aware my hand writing is terrible, so you have been warned on that score.


To win one of these I want you to design a tank (or other AFV to do the role of a tank). For this I am defining a tanks role as to move weapons about the battlefield in a protected manner, and to close with and destroy the enemy with firepower, manoeuvre and shock effect.

A note on technology: I'm going to limit it to an in-service date of 2040 (when the current crop of MBT's are due to out of service). So ideally the technology will be roughly the same as now, with maybe limited advancements, of course where you think technology will be in a decade is entirely up to you.

How to Enter:

Entering is easy!

Get your designs together and email them into: historylisty-general@yahoo.co.uk (I hope I've set up that email account correct! If not, yell down in the comments, and I'll set it up again).

Now, don't worry if you can't draw. I can't either so I'm not judging anyone on their art standards. But a very rough plan allows me to understand what you are thinking. I'm also used to finding terrible sketches in documents as designers try to sell their ideas. Equally, with the abundance of modern graphics programs you should be able to get a basic outline done, which is all you need.

You'll want to include some text to describe what you're thinking as well, but this could be notation of the drawings, or some paragraphs. As long as its legible I'm not fussed by English ability (also something I'm terrible at!). Remember, previous competitions I've run for writing a whole article have been won by non-native speakers. 

Deadline for this will be 1st August. After this date I'll pick the top five designs which I think are best, and contact you on the email address the entry was submitted from. I'll then post the books to the address you give.

I look forward to seeing your designs.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Tank is Dead

Events in the Nagorno-Karabakh war back in September 2020 hinted at the new reality of warfare. These truths were thrown into sharp relief during the Ukrainian war, where light forces equipped with modern tank-killing weapons have annihilated Russian armoured columns. Swarms of cheap drones have given precision data allowing the modern anti-tank weapons to find and spectacularly destroy the lumbering dinosaur from the last century.
These lighter forces are more mobile, a cheaper platform and more agile with better ability to punch above their weight. They are a transformative option that signals the end of the century of the tank. Interconnectivity allows information dominance in the battlespace blah blah obsolete blah blah blah Cyber! Blah blah blah…


Knocked out T-90 in Ukraine.

How many times recently have you read an article about the ‘Death of the Tank!111!’ from any number of media sites? They cite the ability of modern anti-tank weapons that have rendered the tank too vulnerable and have thus made them a liability on the modern battlefield. Well the pass-time of predicting the tanks demise is a long and proud one, and it has always been proved wrong. For the rest of this article we shall be looking at some of the previous claims of the end of the tank, from the first days when the tank crawled from the primordial mud of the Somme.

The Pioneers:
As we all know the Mk.I tank lurched its way across a muddy Somme swamp in September 1916. They had been born from the need to break the superiority of the machine gun. Throughout the war they had a chequered effect, and it has long been argued if they were a war winning weapon (for a more detailed argument see Tavers, 1992).
While historians are debating the effect of the tank during the First World War, there were similar contemporary debates after the war. In December 1919 Major-General Sir Louis Jackson gave a speech to the Royal United Service Institution. In it he stated:

‘The tank proper was a freak, the circumstances which called it into existence were exceptional and not likely to recur. If they do, they can be dealt with by other means.'

(Quoted in Harris, 2015)

While this may have been the opinion of a single such officer, there were other voices that cautioned not to become too enthralled by the tank, including one that was instrumental in designing the tank:

‘By the adoption of springs and other mechanical devices a speed of 20 miles an hour, which is a great deal faster than a fox hound, can be attained across country over hedges and ditches and so forth, and one thousand miles have been run without any appreciable wear and tear in the gear. This tank weighing 30 tons is able to pass over a brick lying on the road without crushing the brick, so delicate is the mechanism.
On the other hand the methods of anti-tank warfare have also made a profoundly significant advance. A new-form of grenade has been devised which can be discharged from the ordinary rifle capable of inflicting mortal injury on the wonderful little instrument which I have just described.
And the same thing applies to the growth of the tank as to the dual system of gun and armour. Whether the tank by increased speed, by the use of smoke, by increased protection, and by some other devices can maintain its ascendency cannot yet be foreseen. Of course its value against all enemies unprovided with these special means of offence will remain. The whole subject, however, is highly experimental and we should be most unwise to commit ourselves to any large programme of tank construction, involving heavy expense, until much more definite results can be reached and the whole practical aspect of this new war weapon has been further examined.’

(Churchill, 1920)

The argument being put forward here is that while the mechanical faults and inside conditions that plagued the tanks during the First World War were largely corrected, and that great developments had been taken in refining the vehicle, anti-tank methods had also advanced. Anti-tank guns had for the first time appeared and were more than capable of killing contemporary tanks quickly and effectively. But despite these concerns the tank did not die out, indeed it could be said to enter a golden age where everyone was experimenting with weird tank ideas.

No Really, It Is Dead Now!

For this episode of the Tank is Dead, one would like to show you a newspaper article from a very well known name. It was published in 1940 of all dates:

(Thanks to Andrew Hills for supplying this)

Later in the decade chemical energy rounds such as HEAT and HESH were developed, or came into common use. These could knock holes through huge thicknesses of armour, and they became smaller and lighter, allowing a humble infantryman to carry a weapon that could kill a tank. Indeed, by the end of the War in Europe around 35 percent of British tank losses were knocked out by shaped charge warheads.

It’s Dead Jim!

After the war, the chemical energy anti-tank rounds were quickly combined with guided rockets, and suddenly there were statements of the tank being obsolete, these seemed to come to a peak during the Yom Kippur War, where Israeli armoured columns were smashed by man-ported Sagger anti-tank guided missiles.

But like all claims of the tank's demise, it missed one important thing. The new development that renders tanks obsolete gets countered. In the Yom Kippur the crews quickly learned how to deal with Saggers. The simple trick of waiting until the missile was about halfway through its flight, and then spraying the launch position with a burst of machine gun fire, and moving the tank a few feet forward would usually cause the missile to miss as the operator ducks to avoid the bullets, meaning the missile goes off guidance.
In the case of chemical energy warheads from the 1940s, composite and spaced armours were developed, with the first appearing on Wasp flamethrowers in 1945. Even against anti-tank guns there was a counter response from the tank. In the British case they developed the Close Support tank that was designed to blind anti-tank guns with smoke. While this turned out to be less successful than hoped, the simple expedient of combined arms being adopted enabled tanks to survive.

Even today there are questions about the new technologies such as drones. First off I would challenge the claim that drones are ‘cheap’. They are not:

Source: NaCTSO

 As you can see to be carrying any sort of payload, with the range to use it, you need to spend large sums of money. In addition, laser and directed energy weapons are just getting to the point when they can be used to destroy drones. A defence which may be adapted to deal with anti-tank missiles. The US currently seems to be going with a slightly different approach to the problem, adopting the main armament of its next generation of IFV to have the ability to engage drones and such threats, thus every IFV in the battle group would have an anti-drone capability. Whether this approach will work, or could be used to provide ATGM protection remains to be seen, as the choice of 50mm cannon raises serious questions in AFV design. But either approach could easily create a massive no fun zone for drones and ATGM’s around the tank.

In the latest war, where we apparently have seen the ‘death of the tank’, the Russian forces were, at the time of writing, still advancing slowly. Equally, on a number of occasions the Ukrainians have asked for large numbers of tanks to be supplied. This alone indicates that the tank is still a vital part of the modern military.
The fact remains, if you want to destroy the enemy with firepower, manoeuvre and shock effect you need a big cannon that can move around the battlefield, and is protected from enemy fire.
There is only one technological solution to this requirement, and that is the tank. Tanks will almost certainly change and gain new defensive systems, or need the support of new vehicles or capabilities from combined arms warfare, but they will remain.


    Churchill W (1920): Mr Churchill's Statement: Hansard: Volume 125, col 1356: debated on Monday 23 February 1920. Available at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/1920-02-23/debates/260327d5-9b51-4ab3-9e4b-116dde81c6e8/MrChurchillSStatement?highlight=tank#contribution-b1cff7f9-56d1-496d-8a23-77ebb9cc8fca

        Harris, J (2015): Men, Ideas, and Tanks: British Military Thought and Armoured Forces, 1903-1939, Manchester University Press.
    Tavers, T  (1992): Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jul., 1992), pp. 389-406 (18 pages). Available at:  https://www.jstor.org/stable/260897  


Next week, I think we'll have a little competition about tanks.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

With a Bit of Guts Behind them!

Hello Historians, I am still alive and doing history stuff. As you may have gathered, it has not left me much time to do full articles. I do still provide history related content on my social media, with most of it going up on Facebook, but I do put some of it on Twitter (@History_Listy) as well (all dependent on word counts and the like).

Today as I have nothing planned, I thought we could have a look at part of my collection. Over the last few years I have been slowly collecting British Bayonets, and as I now have a decent quantity of them I figured a quick post is in order. So let me take you through my collection of stabby sticks.

The 'complete' collection


First up we have what I am pretty certain is a Brown Bess musket socket bayonet. I got it second hand so its exact details are not stated. I am also daily certain it is a modern reproduction, but as the price was low even for a repo, it seemed silly not to get it. 


Next we have our first real bayonet. In 1871 the British army introduced their new rifle, the Martini–Henry.  Made famous today by its use and appearance in the film Zulu. This was similar to the Brown Bess bayonet, however the triangular cross-section is the same width on all of the sides. This particular one is quite badly battered, with the tip of the blade being quite beaten up. Which is a shame as at the time casting bayonets was tricky, and it was not possible with the technology of the time to get an equal sided point at the tip. So the outer edge had a slight curve to it.This particular one is missing part of the locking system, and has a cracked base, which leads us nicely on to:

This is a 1887 Mk.4 bayonet. After experience of the Martini–Henry bayonet, and its use in Africa, it was determined that the bayonet was in need of improvement. Specifically the old socket bayonets tended to break, and had troubles in their mounting system. So work began on sword bayonets, like this one. The term ‘sword’ is entirely appropriate as the blade is absolutely massive. In length it is about 18 inches (nearly 46cm)! This particular blade was forged in 1886 as part of the trials and development of the bayonet, then in 1891 it was converted to a 1887 pattern. The trials bayonets converted to the 1887 pattern became the Mk.4 of the weapon.


The next bayonet seems to be a much more conventional length to us, and is an 1888 pattern. This particular one was forged in 1896. You can instantly see the similarities in the cross-guard and the bayonet socket on the hilt to the 1887. These were often converted to fighting knives during the First and Second World Wars. There is an interesting variant, which I don’t yet have an example of. It is the 1903 bayonet, the main visual difference is that the rivets holding the grip on are changed to screws, which then becomes the standard way of fitting the handles onto the bayonets.

The new screw style of attachment is amply shown on our next subject, a 1907 sword bayonet. This particular weapon was forged in 1916, at the height of the First World War. These bayonets were fitted to the SMLE Mk.III and would serve all the way up until the early part of the Second World War. Like hte 1887 it is a sword bayonet, and is only a bit shorter in blade length than the 1887. However, the 1887 has a longer grip.

Our next bayonet is a bit of a special case, and unfortunately a bit of an example of a cowboy at work. The bayonet itself is a US made 1913 pattern, with a maker's date of 1917. This particular one then got sent to the British (as it is War Office marked) and is fitted with the leather UK style scabbard, this means it was highly likely it would have been issued to the Home Guard.

The down side is of course the grip. It seems that at some point in its past someone attempted to repair the grip by gluing a pair of wooden handles that they had crafted in place of the originals. The originals should look a lot like the 1907 handles, fixed in place by screws. Both the 1907 and the 1913 patterns look almost identical. So to distinguish the two types two vertical grooves were cut in the wooden handles. This one obviously lacks them, and so would need some restoration.

Our last Bayonet is a No4 Mk.II* spike bayonet. This was pretty much the standard bayonet for the British for the later half of the Second World War. This particular one lacks any markings at all, when combined with the finish makes me believe it may be one of the Post war Belgium production

Anyway, I hope you found this brief look into my collection interesting. There’s still oodles of Bayonets out there to add, however, this is a work in progress.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Bridge

Over the years (soon to be decades!) I have been writing these articles I have focused on a great many items to bridge elements of the story, be it a tank, warship, location or even weapon system. But today, to span the passage of time, I am going to focus on a bridge. Waterloo Bridge to be exact. 


Waterloo Bridge is actually the second bridge over the Thames to stand at this location. The first bridge, made of stone, was opened in June 1817. It was called the Strand Bridge. Over the years the flow of water around the piers caused the mud of the riverbed to be worn away. This caused the Strand Bridge to become undermined, and by the 1923 the middle of the bridge had settled and warped the structure. In 1925 a temporary metal bridge was constructed to take southerly traffic and ease the strain on the main bridge.  As the Strand Bridge was considered a work of art, an argument broke out on what to do with it. Some were for maintaining it like you would any other culturally and historically important fine house or building. Others, headed by the London Country Council (LCC) wanted to tear it down and build a new modern structure. In 1934 the LCC was taken over by the Labour Party, and had a new leader, Herbert Morrison. This is the same Morrison that would design the Morrison Air Raid Shelter of which some half a million would be made during the Second World War. The new LCC decided to knock the Strand Bridge down and build a new structure. Morrison broke the first stone signalling start of the work that same year. 

Morrison Shelter showing what it can do.

By the outbreak of the Second World War the bridge was not completed. As more men enlisted the work of construction moved to female workers, and it gave Waterloo Bridge it’s nickname, ‘Ladies Bridge’. A late modification to the bridge was to include recesses for explosives in the pillars, this was to enable it to be demolished should the Germans approach.

The Germans did approach on the 19th of April 1941, when during the Blitz a German bomb hit the nearly complete Waterloo Bridge. There were only two London bridges hit during the Second World War, Waterloo and Kew Bridge. The latter occurred when a German bomber was attacked by RAF fighters, and it dumped its bombs. A bomb hit the centre of Kew Bridge, but was only a small bomb, as the Germans were want to drop, resulting in a small hole in the road way and some shrapnel damage to the massive stone blocks, which is still visible today. 

Splinter damage on Kew Bridge

The Germans came close again in 1944 when a V-2 impacted into the Thames just to the east of Waterloo Bridge, but again with no effect.

On 7th of September 1978 Georgi Markov was waiting at a bus stop when he felt a sharp pain on the back of his thigh. Spinning around he saw a man who had just dropped an umbrella. The man picked up his umbrella and hurriedly crossed the road and got into a taxi.  Markov was a Bulgarian dissident and would die four days later from an unknown poison that many suspect to be Ricin. This was the infamous Bulgarian Umbrella assassination.

As you can see Waterloo Bridge has seen its own share of events over the years. 


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.

 Image credits:


Sunday, February 13, 2022

First and Last

On the 24th of February, 1815, two days before Napoleon escaped from Elba, and four months before the Battle of Waterloo, a huge ship of the line rumbled down the slipway at Bombay. She was named HMS Wellesley in honour of Arthur Wellesley, who at that time had had a distinguished career, albeit was shortly to fight the battle he became famous for. She weighed in at 1745 tons, and was armed with seventy-four guns, in a variety of sizes ranging from 12-pounders all the way up to banks of 32-pounders. 

Now I know what you’re thinking, hang on David, this is a bit outside the date range for your usual fare? Yes, she is, but the HMS Wellesley had a service career that lasts 125 years, at which point she picked up several unique events.

The birth of the HMS Wellesley was somewhat difficult. She was ordered in September 1812 from the East India Company by the Royal Navy. The plans for her construction were dispatched to India aboard the ship HMS Java. But what else was going on in 1812? Yes, the war against the United States. HMS Java was captured en-route by the USS Constitution. To keep on schedule the shipyards in Bombay used the plans they already had on hand for a Vengeur class, and built the ship to those specifications. HMS Wellesley’s hull was laid down in May 1813. When she was completed, she cost a little over £55,000. 

Her first taste of warfare was at Karachi in 1839. Here the local rulers had refused to sign a treaty with the East India Company. The EIC accused the locals of conducting piracy out of the port. Thus, on the first of February 1839 HMS Wellesley arrived and anchored under the fort that guarded the entrance to the harbour. Two days later she opened fire on the fort that had first been erected in 1797 and deployed her boats carrying the men of the 40th Royal Marines. HMS Wellesley fired upon the fort, in return the fort fired a single shot back. Due to the number of ratings needed to crew the boats, the remaining Royal Marines were kept aboard to help man the guns. Landing to the west the marines stormed the fort. They found just four or five men, without any guns to defend themselves, so they quickly took control of the fort, and Karachi surrendered.

However, a new crisis was brewing in the Persian Gulf around Aden. The British Residency at Bushire was under siege from Persian troops. Arriving in March, HMS Wellesley once again deployed the Royal Marines while she stood off. There was a brief firefight during the landing when the British took three injuries, and the Persian troops fled. The Marines were then able to relieve the Residency and evacuate the staff. The Marines stayed in position until the 30th when all were evacuated. Later that year the Anglo-Persian treaty was signed.

HMS Wellesley took part in the first Opium War in later that year. During the capture of Chusan HMS Wellesley became engaged in a firefight with shore batteries. Upon returning from this action 27 cannon balls were dug out of her sides. The following year she took part in the second battle of Chuenpi, which is vastly more famous for the ironclad paddle steamer Nemesis slaughtering the entire Chinese fleet. Then she took part in silencing the forts and shore batteries during the Battle of the Bogue and Battle of First Bar. Finally, this rampage ended with a battle against the Chinese Flagship, weirdly called ‘Cambridge’. She was involved in several other actions during the course of the war.

After the Opium War she returned to the UK, where she became a guard ship at Chatham. HMS Wellesley was even mentioned in The Times at this point, and not in a flattering way:

‘It is reported here that Her Majesty has graciously signified her pleasure that the name of the leviathan line-of-battle ship Windsor Castle, 140, shall be changed to that of "The Duke of Wellington," in token of Her Majesty's high esteem for the memory of that lamented hero. This resolve on the part of the Queen will be universally applauded, as we have nothing bearing the name of the deceased but two wretched old 74's (the Wellington and Wellesley).’

Then in 1859 Sir George Henry Chambers approached the Royal Navy. In the mid-late 1800’s social philanthropy was quite common and seen as a moral duty. Sir Chambers had an idea to rescue young boys who might otherwise fall between the cracks and descend into crime. Sir Chambers idea was to set up training ships to instruct young boys in how to be sailors while keeping them out of trouble and installing some discipline. The Royal Navy agreed, providing that Sir Chambers would raise some £2,000 in capital first. He promptly did so, and the Royal Navy handed over HMS Cornwall to become the training ship (prefix was changed from ‘HMS’ to ‘TS’). Two more ships would follow, and eventually HMS Wellesley was handed over. This is where things become a little complicated. TS Cornwall was renamed TS Wellesley and sent to South Shields where she was used as an industrial school. Meanwhile, HMS Wellesley became TS Cornwall. All this happened in 1868, although for clarity I will keep calling her HMS Wellesley. 

Ships company aboard TS Cornwall/HMS Wellesley

Main cabin of the head master of TS Cornwall/HMS Wellesley. They also had a bedroom and dinning room.

HMS Wellesley remained in this role as a training ship for decades to come, although her location changed. In 1928 she was moved to Denton, and she remained there until the 24th of September 1940.
On that day the Germans had launched an air raid with some 200 bombers aimed at the heart of London. Setting off at around 0830, it was fought off by Fighter Command. About 1130 another 200 bombers formed up and headed for London. Fighter Command scrambled eighteen squadrons to intercept the formation. Only two made contact and the raid made it through. Wellesley was hit by a bomb. Lord Haw Haw is reported to have claimed the Luftwaffe sunk a battleship. Although that was put out, she later settled onto the riverbed, and was officially classed as ‘sunk’. This means she was the last ship of the line to be sunk by enemy action in the world, and the first to be sunk by air attack! 

HMS Wellesley sunk by the Germans.


HMS Wellesley was raised in 1948, and beached at Tilbury Ness, where she was broken up. Much to everyone’s surprise a great many of her timbers were found to still be sound. These were used in repairs to the London Law Courts. 

HMS Wellesley during salvage and breaking up.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Intelegence Files 2: everything you wanted to know about the M1967

 Hello Historians, and happy new year! I realise I've been very lacking in content of late, and once again I can only apologise. As I am acutely aware of not posting anything for a while, I've grabbed some off the shelf stuff.

A few months ago I posted about some intelligence files where the British sent someone to assess Soviet and Chinese equipment captured in Vietnam. In that the inspectors looked at several common tanks such as the T-55 and the Type 59. 

Well, today I've extracted the pages for what the British called the M1967 APC. The more common name is the Type 63 APC. This is even more detailed than the tanks with nearly 100 pages of technical inspection, it even includes a large section on vulnerability.

As the file is so large, I'll once again upload it to dropbox. I caution if you want this data to download it sooner rather than later as this is a large file and may need to be deleted. It can be found here as a ZIP file.

Thanks for your forbearance on article production. There will be some article in a week or two, and I'll try to post random stuff up on both Twitter and Facebook. I may even start an Instagram. Equally, there may be some far reaching news later this year, but we'll see.