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Prinz Eugen – Heavy Cruiser


Norway 1941.





In the sheltered anchorage of Bergen in Norway, the newly commissioned Bismarck was now readying itself for action. A plan had originally been made for a combined sortie into the North Atlantic with the two battlecruisers. This plan was now not possible. The damage to the Brest ships resulted in their being confined to the dockyard for between three and six months whilst repairs were completed. Even then their seaworthiness would depend on not suffering further damage by the RAF. The Kriegsmarine leadership was, however, still anxious that the Bismarck should be used as soon as possible against Britain’s merchant fleet. The original plan would now have to be changed. It was decided that the Bismarck would still make its sortie into the Atlantic, but would be escorted by just the heavy cruiser, the Prinz Eugen.

The two warships set sail on 20 May 1941. Their departure was quickly detected by the British, and the Admiralty despatched ships of the Home Fleet from Scapa Flow to intercept them near the Denmark Straits off Iceland. On 24 May the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Hood engaged the Bismarck and its escort in an action that demonstrated the great power of the German warship. HMS Hood was sunk and the Prince of Wales badly damaged. The Bismarck then made to escape into the open waters of the Atlantic, but was continually tracked by British cruisers and destroyers.

Try as they might, the two German warships could not shake off the shadowing force. British radar was so effective that each time they disappeared into the mist and rain, they remained visible on radar screens. With the German ships’ exact location in the Atlantic known, other Royal Navy capital ships were sent from Gibraltar to intercept. In the meantime, the carrier Victorious was diverted to attack the Bismarck. Swordfish aircraft from 825 Squadron, led by Lieutenant-Commander Eugene Esmonde, made a night attack. They came at the battleship at low level, flying just above the wave tops, and were able to release their torpedoes at a range of less than 1,100yds. Bismarck was hit amidships. The explosion was not enough to sink it, but it was severe enough to slow it down considerably.

The heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen slipped away from the net that was closing around the German ships and disappeared into the wide Atlantic Ocean. The fate of the Bismarck had by then been sealed, and the heavy cruiser’s presence could do little to avert the inevitable. Nothing more was heard of Prinz Eugen for several days, for it maintained radio silence to avoid detection by the British. A search was made for the cruiser by ships and reconnaissance aircraft, but it could not be found. Then, on 1 June, Prinz Eugen appeared out of an early morning mist at the harbour entrance to Brest – it had made its escape and had reached the safety of a German-held port. The Prinz Eugen was quickly brought into the dockyard and secured alongside one of the quays that lined the Rade Abri, joining the battlecruisers. Germany now had a complete battlefleet holed up in Brest.


The Prinz Eugen had one of the most c1ctive careers of any unit of the Kriegsmarine. After being damaged by a magnetic mine in April 1941 she was repaired in time to accompany Bismarck on her sortie into the Atlantic. On May 24 she joined in the action against the British battlecruiser Hood in the Denmark Strait. She scored hits on the British ship, and it was proossible her 8-in (203- mm) shells, rather than 15-in (381-mm) shells from Bismarck which caused the fatal fire and explosion. As she was running low on fuel Prinz Eugen was ordered to breakaway to Brest ­and so she escaped the fate of Bismarck three days later. In February Prinz Eugen accompanied Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Opercltion Cerebus, the daylight dash through the Channel from Brest to the North Sea, but in 1943 she was relegated to training duties in the Baltic.

After a period in the Baltic Fleet Training Squadron was in action in 1944 against the Russians advancing through Poland and East Prussia. The fire of her eight 20.3-cm (8-in) guns proved most effective against Russian tanks though by 1944 the barrels were heavily worn.

On October 15, 1944, while helping to evacuate German troops from the eastern Baltic she rammed the cruiser Leipzig amid- ships, badly damaging her. Prinz Eugen was surrendered at Copenhagen in May 1945 and handed over to the US as a prize. She was subjected to the Bikini atomic-bomb tests in 1946 and was sunk as a target on November 15, 1947, off Kwajalein Island in the western Pacific.

The German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen which surrendered to the Allies in Copenhagen in 1945.

Units: Admiral Hipper, Blücher, Prinz Eugen

Type and Significance: These vessels were among the largest heavy cruisers in the service of the German Navy in World War II.

Dates of Construction: Laid down between 1935 and 1936 and completed between 1939 and 1940.

Hull Dimensions: 665′ 8″ x 69′ 10.5″ x 19′ (Admiral Hipper, Blücher); 679′ 1.5″ x 70′ 6″ x 21′ 8″ (Prinz Eugen)

Displacement: 14,050 tons (Admiral Hipper, Blücher); 16,974 tons (Prinz Eugen)

Armor: A belt between 1.5 inches and 3.25 inches thick, a deck up to 1.25 inches deep, and a maximum of 6.25 inches of protection for the main turrets.

Armament: Eight 8-inch guns in four dual-gunned turrets, two each being located fore and aft. Also 12 4.1-inch pieces, 12 1.5-inch antiaircraft guns, eight .8-inch antiaircraft weapons, 12 20.8-inch torpedo tubes, and three aircraft.

Machinery: Turbines that produced 132,000 horsepower.

Speed: 32.5 knots

Complement: 1,600

Summary: Two of these units did not survive World War II. The Blücher was sunk on 9 April 1940 by land-based gun and torpedo installations during the German invasion of Norway. The Admiral Hipper was scuttled on 2 May 1945 after sustaining heavy damage from Allied bombing raids. The Prinz Eugen has the distinction of being the only large German warship to survive World War II. It was used as an experimental ship in the atomic bomb blasts at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It sank on 22 December 1946 as a result of damage sustained in the experiments. Two other units were never completed. In 1942, construction on one of these, Seydlitz, was nearing completion when the decision was made to convert it to an aircraft carrier. This plan was soon cancelled, and the hull remained unused for most of the war. On 10 April 1945, the vessel was scuttled to prevent its capture by the Russians. It was refloated by the Russians and scrapped. The other incomplete ship, Lutzow, was sold to the Soviet Union in early 1940. It served as an accommodation ship from 1945 to 1956, when it was scrapped.

Guadalajara 1937


Republican forces with a captured CV33 at the battle of Guadalajara, March 1937.

Die grosse Winterschlacht um Guadalajara Anfang März begann die grosse Offensive der nationalen Truppen auf Gudalajara, deren Hauptstoss auf der Strasse Madrid - Saragossa (Carretera de Aragon) geführt wurde. Die ausserordentlich schweren Kämpfe nahmen einen wechselnden Verlauf; das Kriegsglück, das sich im Anfang den Nationalen zuneigte, wandte sich später den Roten zu. Kälte, Hagelsturm, aufgeweichter Boden und scharfe Winde erwiesen sich oft als schlimmere Gegner als das feindliche Feuer. Die Soldaten der ersten beiden freiwilligen Divisionen lagen fünf Tage lang in Schlamm und Dreck, ohne warmes Essen. Zum ersten Male im spanischen Bürgerkrieg wurden ausschließlich motorisierte Einheiten eingesetzt. Motorisierte Ablösungsmannschaften gehen auf der Strasse Madrid - Saragossa vor. Bei Abdruck nennen: H.G. von Studnitz - Scherl Bilderdienst 29.3.1937

Nationalist forces at Guadalajara.


On 5 February, Italian detachments took part in operations around the city of Malaga, part of a new Nationalist offensive along the entire front. Malaga was taken on the 8th, and Italian units occupied the nearby towns of Nerja and Motril. As a result of their success here, the Italians overestimated the chances for a quick, decisive victory, and launched a major offensive on 8 March. Two infantry divisions, each supported by two tank companies, took the field to find that the terrain had become a vast expanse of thick sticky mud because of heavy rains that fell the night before. This considerably limited the mobility of the Italian armor.

On the following day, two Italian tank units advanced to a point about 30 kilometers outside Guadalajara. In various skirmishes, the Republicans lost nine of the 22 tanks they employed. Both sides consumed enormous amounts of fuel because of the difficult terrain, and fuel supplies were often delayed because of congestion along the supply routes.

In an attempt to slow the Italian advance, the Republicans placed two BT-5s along their withdrawal route as part of their rear guard, but one of these was destroyed. By 9 March, the Italians had occupied Brihuega, but on the same evening, six BT-5s set up an ambush in the outlying forest. No sooner had the Third Italian Division, supported by two tank companies and the armored car company, begun its movement at dawn the next day, but they fell into the trap. The Soviet tanks fired their cannon and machine guns at nearly point-blank range. They destroyed two tanks and inflicted many casualties. The Lancia armored car company, functioning as a reconnaissance unit, also suffered heavy losses – at least three of its vehicles were captured and used by the enemy.

On the next day, 11 March, three flamethrower tanks rushed to assist an infantry column that had run into a series of enemy machine gun nests near Trijueque. One tank was hit after having suppressed some of the positions, another overturned when it rolled off the roadbed, and a third was destroyed by an antitank round. A second lieutenant moved up in his own tank in an attempt to extract any survivors. Hit by a round from a BT-5, which severed his arm, he managed to bring his vehicle safely back to friendly lines before he died. Another tank conducting reconnaissance operations in the direction of Torjia was also hit, but it too was brought back into operation. Two other tanks were destroyed by 45-mm rounds from the BT-5s. Obviously, the Italian tanks with their 8-mm machine guns were no match for the BT-5s once they got within range.

The Italians then launched a combined attack of armor and infantry, but this was stopped by Republican heavy artillery and air forces. By 12 March, Palacio Ybarra was the point of maximum penetration towards Guadalajara. It was here that the pro-Republican “Garibaldi” Battalion, made up of anti-Fascist Italian volunteers, routed the Nationalists with the help of two BT-5s. Not far away, at Los Yebenes, the 4th Italian Division (Littorio) relieved the 3d. On 13 March, two BT-5s again ambushed the Italians, although they were eventually destroyed.

On 18 March, the Republicans began a counteroffensive. In preparation, they had drawn men and materiel from other units to amass at least 60,000 troops and 60 tanks. The Italians facing them totaled about 30,000 men. The Republicans immediately moved their tanks up front, placing about 40 of them in the Brihuega area. Well-supported by artillery and about 80 aircraft, they began their attack that afternoon. That night, the Republicans reoccupied Brihuega and forced the Italians to fall back several kilometers. Meanwhile, the Italian tanks stood idle for lack of fuel. The fighting stopped in a stalemate on 21 March, even though the Italians had advanced about 20 kilometers from their original positions of 8 March.

After reorganizing at Villasante, the Italians also participated in operations along the Bay of Biscay, an area stubbornly controlled by pro-Republican Basque forces. The Basques had established a strong defense around the city of Bilbao. The Italians attacked on 28 April, beginning a long battle around the city. On 15 June, Italian tanks attacked the Basque defensive positions at a weak point that had been revealed by a deserter. On 19 June, they entered and occupied Bilbao, which had already been evacuated by its defenders.

Armor Limitations

In general, Italian combat vehicles used in the Spanish Civil War were handicapped by the inferiority of their armament. They were no match for the heavier enemy tanks, armed with rapid-fire 37- mm and 45-mm weapons on rotating turrets. There were other equipment problems as well; for example, the air intake systems on the tanks and armored cars were not equipped with appropriate filters to protect crewmen from the fine dust so prevalent in the Spanish countryside. In an attempt to protect their faces and mouths from the dust, the Italians adapted their gas masks to serve as dust protectors, but to little avail.

Italian tankers in Spain faced conditions radically different from those of the Ethiopian War of 1935- 36, in which the poorly-equipped Ethiopians were overwhelmed by a relatively modern Italian Army. The Italians found the tables turned against them in Spain, and this was reflected in the relatively high level of their casualties. Even more significant, however, was that the Italian General Staff failed to draw any useful lessons in tank warfare from the Spanish experience. Accordingly, when Italy entered WWII in 1940, her armored units -still comprised mainly of CV 3/35, although they were renamed L3s – would face tanks even more formidable than the BT-5 or the T-26B, and the results on the battlefield were to be disastrous.

Pyrrhus and His Army


Rome’s war against that infamous Hellenistic condottiere king Pyrrhus of Epirus in 280 to 275 that finally brought Rome fully into the purview of Hellenistic international relations. Pyrrhus at the battle of Ausculum.


Army of Pyrrhus by Johnny Shumate

The Greeks of south Italy and the Adriatic now looked to Rome as their protector rather than to the Spartan colony of Tarentum. The Tarentines believed that Rome had usurped the position that was rightfully theirs and, in 281, they attacked a small Roman fleet en route to the Adriatic to suppress piracy. Roman ambassadors sent to Tarentum to demand redress arrived during a festival when the Tarentines were drunk. A large crowd gathered and mocked the Romans. One drunk flung his own feces at the Roman ambassador. The Roman ambassador departed but left in the air the ominous remark, “You will wash my garment clean with your blood.”

When the Tarentines sobered up, they realized that they had made a bad mistake, but they then made a worse one. They appealed to Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, to protect them. Pyrrhus knew little of the Romans, but he was an experienced general who was confident in his own abilities and in his phalanx, cavalry, and elephants. He came west not to champion the Tarentines, but to fulfill an old ambition, to unite the Greeks of Italy and Sicily in a league with himself as hegemon (as Philip and Alexander had been hegemons of the Hellenic League). Pyrrhus had been told 300,000 Italic natives stood ready to serve him. To prevent this fiction from becoming reality, the Romans garrisoned south Italy and sent a consular army to winter in Samnium.

In the beginning of the campaigning season of 280 B. C. the Roman consul forced an engagement on Pyrrhus at Heraclea. On the eve of the battle Pyrrhus observed the Romans pitching camp. When he saw the fortified camp they built, he exclaimed, “These are not barbarians.” In the morning he stationed his elephants on his flanks to frighten off the Roman cavalry and used his phalanx to break the legions. The Romans lost 7,000 men; Pyrrhus lost 4,000. The master tactician, upon being congratulated for his victory, said, “Yes, one more like it and we are done.” Pyrrhus marched on Rome, but he found few allies, and forty miles from Rome he turned back. He offered the Romans what he thought were generous terms: the Romans would guarantee Greek autonomy, and they would withdraw from the territory of the Samnites, Lucanians, and Bruttians. The Senate rejected the terms.

In the spring of 279 a double consular army met Pyrrhus at Asculum near the Aufidus River. The battlefield was rugged and unsuited to a phalanx, but Pyrrhus had created a flexible phalanx by putting maniples of Samnites and Lucanians between units of his phalanx. The two armies fought all day without a decision, but early the next morning the king seized favorable ground and broke the legions. The Romans retreated to their camp and defended it successfully. One consul and 6,000 Romans had been killed. Pyrrhus lost 3,500 men and was himself wounded. He had won a battle, but his next step was not clear.

At this point he was invited by Sicilian envoys to come put Sicily in order. Sicily was in turmoil because of the death of the Syracusan tyrant Agathocles -Pyrrhus was the son-in-law of Agathocles-and because the Carthaginians had launched an invasion. Pyrrhus offered the Romans a truce with but one demand-that the Romans recognize the territorial integrity of Tarentum. The Senate might have agreed, had a Carthaginian admiral (with his whole fleet of 120 ships) not appeared and offered to subsidize the war against Pyrrhus, to use his fleet to blockade Pyrrhus in Tarentum, and to transport Roman troops to Sicily, if they wished, to carry on the war against Pyrrhus there. The Romans accepted the Carthaginian treaty, and the two consuls with their armies advanced on Tarentum. Pyrrhus sailed for Sicily and left the Romans with a free hand to regain control of southern Italy.

After some initial successes in Sicily Pyrrhus’s schemes collapsed, and in the spring of 275 he gave up and returned to Tarentum with a much-reduced force. The two Roman consuls were operating separately against Pyrrhus’s former allies-none of them would help him now-and Pyrrhus tried to defeat one consul before the other could come to his aid. At Beneventum he fought his third grim battle against the Romans; the day ended without victory for either side, but that night the other consul reached the battlefield, and Pyrrhus withdrew. Pyrrhus left a garrison in Tarentum and returned to Epirus with but a third of the forces he had brought to Italy. The Romans won this war without ever having defeated Pyrrhus in battle.

The Roman victory brought them to the attention of the eastern courts. The court poet of Ptolemy, king of Egypt, identified the Romans with the Trojans who escaped from the sack of Troy under the leadership of Aeneas, and Ptolemy made a pact of friendship with them. The victory also gave the Romans a free hand in south Italy. They subjugated the native peoples, confiscated territory, and settled colonies to further divide these people from each other and from themselves. In 272-Pyrrhus was killed in a skirmish in Argos: an old woman threw a roof tile which stunned him, and a Gallic mercenary cut off his head-the Romans laid siege to Tarentum. The consul in command made a private deal with the Epirote garrison by which they handed over the citadel to him and were allowed to leave unharmed. The Romans treated the city with decency, accepted it as a naval ally, and permanently garrisoned the citadel with a legion, both to watch Tarentum and to protect southern Italy. The Romans were now masters of the greatest resource of military citizen manpower in the western world: a quarter of a million citizen-soldiers.

Pyrrhus at Heraclea

Pyrrhus invaded Italy after “invitation” made by Tarentines, who called for help against Romans. Pyrrhus in preparation for invasion asked Ptolemy Ceraunus for help, which Ptolemy found this as good way how to get rid of Pyrrhus for time being, and to have open options in Macedonia, against Antigonus Gonatas. He sent 3000 cavalry and 20 elephants to Pyrrhus. Together Pyrrhus managed to muster 20000 heavy infantry (majority Epirote Pikemen, but also Macedonian and also a lot of Mercenaries from Greek states), 3000 horse, 2000 archers and 500 slingers. Transporting this force over sea to Italy was feat of its own, as so far, nobody was able to transport elephants over open sea. yet, Pyrrhus fleet even got into a storm, which scattered whole fleet, so Pyrrhus landed with just 2000 men and 2 elephants, all 20 elephants survived transport which was an unprecedented accomplishment of their handlers, he marched to Tarrentum with this small force, and practically did nothing, until remaining of fleet landed. At that point he set up a garrison, and started to forcibly recruit Tarentines into his army. Some tried to escape, but garrison managed to catch a lot of them. He was afraid of their loyalty, therefore he mixed them into his Epirote Pikemen formations.

Romans, after they discovered Pyrrhus landed with force, started to prepare for war. They sent garrison to Rhegium, another to Locri, while they kept strong force in Rome as well. One army under consul Aemilius was sent to territory of Samnites another army under Tiberius Coruscanius was sent to north to block Etruscans, new consul, Publius Valerius Laevinus, was given command of largest army, 4 legions, and marched directly to Tarrentum. His goal was to force Pyrrhus into battle, so he would be not able to rise more troops from local allies. Roman plan succeeded, Pyrrhus learned that Roman army is threatening Greek city of Heraclea, before he could join the force with Italian allies, numbers for both sides are not precisely recorded anyway they can be estimated from known sources, Laevinus had 4 legions with him, plus allies, which should represent strength of 40000 men and 2400 cavalry.

Pyrrhus embarked with 25500 infantry, 3000 cavalry and 20 elephants, anyway he had to leave some as garrison in Tarrentum, and also he lost some men in the storm. Anyway he had about 20000 Tarrentine Levies and another 2000 Tarentine cavalry, anyway some cavalry and infantry had deserted.

Weaponry of Tarentines is still a matter of speculation, prior to Pyrrhus arrival they were fighting in standard hoplite phalanx, anyway it is mentioned that Pyrrhus imposed a rigorous training and incorporated them in small numbers into his Epirote Pike units. Therefore it is likely but not certain that his Tarentine levy was armed as pikemen as well, otherwise they would be not able to be added to Epirote units. (anyway later at Asculum, Frontinus report them standing separate in the center)

Pyrrhus initial plan was to delay battle as far as he could, while preventing Romans to raid the country, so his Italian allies could come to him. Romans on the contrary, wanted to bring the battle as soon as possible.

The most likely site of the battle is a river plain, about 6km from Heraclea. Pyrrhus learned Romans have a camp on the other side of the river, and he came to observe the enemy. Romans immediately called to arms, and their infantry force marched forward through the fords, while cavalry force at the same time used different crossings. Epirote skirmish formation threatened by infantry and cavalry became withdrawing. Pyrrhus ordered his infantry to form a battle line, while keeping all his elephants and some cavalry in reserve, while infantry was forming up, Pyrrhus himself led his cavalry, 3000 horsemen in attempt to catch Romans scattered as they moved through the crossings. Anyway part of Roman Cavalry force already crossed, and were formed into formation. Pyrrhus formed up his cavalry and attacked, he fought in front line, and his ornamented armor was clearly visible to his men but also to enemy. At some point of this combat, some Roman cavalrymen, who wanted to prove himself tried to engage Pyrrhus in single combat. Kings bodyguards managed to kill his horse, anyway Roman managed to get through and killed Pyrrhus horse with his spear, with Pyrrhus falling off the horse. He was saved in last moment by his bodyguards, while Roman cavalrymen was killed, anyway he was alarmed by close call, he decided to give his cloak and armor to his best and bravest companion – Megacles. Pyrrhus dressed in simple cloak and armor to not be so easily distinguishable in battle. Due to Roman infantry getting closer in support of their cavalry, Pyrrhus called off his cavalry and retreated to his positions. At that point he ordered his Infantry to march forward, and he again personally joined the combat. Initial combat was started by light infantry throwing their javelins and stoned at each other. Pyrrhus ordered his Phalanx to march forward hoping to trap the Roman Infantry with their back against river. When heavy infantry came into range, they charged against Epirotes, throwing their Pila. Some of them were deflected by pikes of the rear ranks, anyway some caused casualties, yet these were immediately replaced by men in rear ranks, per Plutarch, battle was for long time in balance and neither side gained upper hands, which means Romans found the way how to cause casualties to Epirotes, which calls the claims of some Greek historians of Phalanx being unstoppable into question. Possibly, supposed invincibility of phalanx was overstated to magnify the later Roman victories against Macedonians, as ancients believed, that “greater challenge provides greater glory to the victor”.

At some point Pyrrhus decision to dress Megacles in his armor proved to be almost a disaster, as he was slain by Romans, which caused huge morale drop in Epirote ranks who thought their king is dead. Pyrrhus was forced to ride along the battle line to prove he is still alive.

As a bad luck, battle was decided by Laevinus, when his detachment of cavalry who managed to get to the Epirote rear, forced Pyrrhus to use his elephants. Sight of these animals, Romans seen for the first time caused the panic in Roman cavalry who routed and left the field. Pyrrhus used his Tarentine cavalry to charge into Roman infantry while it was disordered and he completed the rout. With one wing of Roman cavalry routed, flank of Roman infantry position was exposed. Pyrrhus ordered his elephants to attack that flank. Roman infantry started to give ground, anyway during withdrawal some Roman soldier managed to wound one of elephants that started to wreak havoc in own ranks, due to confusion Pyrrhus rather called of the pursuit and let the Romans withdraw through the river.

by his own words:

“never to press relentlessly on the heels of an enemy in flight, not merely in order to prevent enemy from resisting too furiously in consequence of necessity, but also to make him more inclined to withdraw another time, knowing the victor would not strive to destroy them in flight”

With battle over, Plutarch reported 7000 dead Romans and 4000 dead Epirotes. Dionysius claimed 15000 dead Romans and 13000 Epirotes, yet, most historians consider Plutarch’s numbers to be more accurate. Pyrrhus loses were particularly heavy amongst Epirote commanders. Pyrrhus himself commented this:

“If we ever conquer again in like fashion, it will be our ruin”

First Operational Jet Fighter




The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first operational jet fighter in the world. Its Jumo 004 turbojet powerplants and swept wing made it one of the most extraordinary designs of World War II. The Me 262A-1a achieved an incredible top speed for its time of 870 km/h (497 mph) at an altitude of 6000 meters (19,685 feet), nearly 200 km/h faster than the North American P-51 Mustang. The Me 262 also employed the deathly firepower of four nose- mounted MK-1 08 30 mm cannon. Its operational service, however, was hampered by the unreliability of its engines and its weak undercarriage.

The first serial-produced Me 262A-1a (Werknummer 1300061VI+AF) took off on its maiden flight on 28 March 1944. The first Me 262s were allocated to Erprobungskommando 262, a special fighter evaluation unit of the Luftwaffe under the command of Hauptmann (Captain) Werner Thierfelder, on 19 April 1944 at Lechfeld airfield in Bavaria.

Leutnant (Lieutenant) Alfred Schreiber scored the first victory with the Me 262, and the first victory ever of a jet-powered fighter, when he shot down a Mosquito on 26 July 1944. The Blitzbomber (literally “lightning bomber”) version received the designation Me 262A-2a. The Me 262A-2a had the upper two MK-108 cannons removed and a pair of ETC 503 Wikingerschijf (“Viking ship”) bomb racks mounted on the nose undersurface. The Me 262A-2a could carry either two SC-250 blast bombs or two SD-250 fragmentation bombs.

A total of 1,433 Me 262s were built, assembled at Leipheim (Kuno I and Kuno IT), Schwabisch Hall-Hessental, Obertraubling near Regensburg, Neuburg/Donau-Bruck, Eger, Kahla, and Brandenburg-Bliest. Messerschrnitt AG made wide use of concentration camp prisoners and forced labor supplied by the Waffen SS-owned Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH (German Earth and Stone Works Company) to keep Me 262 production at a rapid pace. Nearly 53,000 prisoners and forced laborers were employed in the manufacture of parts, components, and final assembly.

Czechoslovakia became the only other country in the world to use the Messerschmitt jet fighter operationally. The Avia company at Cakovice began building the Me 262 from components left behind in the country after the end of World War II. The type received the designation S-92. A total of seven S-92 and three CS-92 trainers were built, the last S- 92 being accepted on 24 September 1948. The S-92 became a training aircraft in 1949. Most S-92s and CS-92s were phased out of service after 1951 and subsequently scrapped.


The jet propelled Me 262 introduced in the last year of the war was 100 mph faster than contemporary piston-engine fighters and well armed with four 30mm cannons. [1] In a head-on attack, its 350 yards per second closing rate was too fast to allow accurate aiming or to allow optimum use of its short-ranged armament. To overcome this, German Jet pilots used the “roller coaster” attack. Approaching from astern at about 6000 ft above the bombers, the jets pushed over into a shallow dive starting about 3 miles away. They quickly built up speed such that the escorts could not follow them. Diving down until they were about a mile behind and 1500 ft below, they pulled up sharply to bleed off speed, leveling off at 1000 yds astern in position to deliver an attack.

[1]Later in the war, the Germans introduced the Mk 108 30mm heavy cannon capable of firing 600 11-ounce high explosive rounds per minute. Three hits with this weapon were usually sufficient to bring down a Flying Fortress. On the other hand it was a low velocity weapon and its effective range was shorter than the 20-mm cannon forcing German pilots to fly even closer to get hits.


“I passed one that looked as if it was hanging motionless in the air (I am too fast!). The one above me went into a steep right-hand turn, his pale blue underside standing out against the purple sky. Another banked right in front of the Me’s nose. Violent jolt as I flew through his airscrew eddies. Maybe a wing’s length away. That one in the gentle left-hand curve! Swing her round. I was coming from underneath, eye glued to the sight (pull her tighter!). A throbbing in the wings as my cannon pounded briefly. Missed him. Way behind his tail. It was exasperating. I would never be able to shoot one down like this. They were like a sack of fleas. A prick of doubt: is this really such a good fighter? Could one in fact, successfully attack a group of erratically banking fighters with the Me 262?”

Johannes Steinhoff, Luftwaffe fighter ace.

The Junkers Jumo 004 was the world’s first turbojet engine in production and operational use, and the first successful axial compressor jet engine ever built. Some 8,000 units were manufactured by Junkers in Germany during late World War II, powering the operational Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter jet and the Arado Ar 234 reconnaissance / bomber jet, along with prototypes including the Horten Ho 229 aircraft. Variants of the engine were produced in Eastern Europe for years following the war.

The first prototype 004A, which was constructed to run on diesel fuel, was first tested in October 1940, though without an exhaust nozzle. It was benchtested at the end of January 1941 to a top thrust of 430 kgf (4,200 N; 950 lbf), and work continued to increase the output, the RLM contract having set a minimum of 600 kgf (5,900 N; 1,300 lbf) thrust.

Vibration problems with the compressor stators, originally cantileverd from the outside, delayed the program at this point. Max Bentele, as an Air Ministry consulting engineer with a background in turbocharger vibrations, assisted in solving the problem. The original aluminium stators were replaced with steel ones in which configuration the engine developed 5.9 kN (1,300 lbf) in August, and passed a 10-hour endurance run at 9.8 kN (2,200 lbf) in December. The first flight test took place on March 15, 1942, when a 004A was carried aloft by a Messerschmitt Bf 110 to run up the engine in flight. The 004 used an eight-stage axial-flow compressor, with a number of axial combustion chambers (made from sheet steel), and a one-stage turbine with hollow blades.

On July 18, one of the prototype Messerschmitt Me 262s flew for the first time under jet power from its 004 engines, and the 004 was ordered into production by the RLM to the extent of 80 engines.

The initial 004A engines built to power the Me 262 prototypes had been built without restrictions on materials, and they used scarce raw materials such as nickel, cobalt, and molybdenum in quantities which were unacceptable in production. Franz realized that the Jumo 004 would have to be redesigned to incorporate a minimum of these strategic materials, and this was accomplished. All the hot metal parts, including the combustion chamber, were changed to mild steel protected by an aluminum coating, and the hollow turbine blades were produced from folded and welded Cromadur alloy (12% chromium, 18% manganese, and 70% iron) developed by Krupp, and cooled by compressed air “bled” from the compressor. The engine’s operational lifespan was shortened, but on the plus side it became easier to construct. Production engines had a cast magnesium casing in two halves, one with half-sections of stator assemblies bolted to it. The four front stators were constructed from steel alloy blades welded to the mount; the rear five were pressed steel sheet bent over the mount and welded on. Steel alloy compressor blades dovetailled into slots in the compressor disk and were fixed by small screws. The compressor itself was mounted to a steel shaft with twelve set screws. Jumo tried a variety of attach compressor blades, beginning with solid steel, later hollow sheet metal ones, welded on the taper, with their roots fitted over rhomboidal studs on the turbine wheel, to which they were pinned and brazed.

The first production model of the 004B weighed 100 kg (220 lb) less than the 004A, and in 1943 had passed several 100 hour tests, with a time between overhauls of 50 hours being achieved.

Later in 1943 the 004B version suffered turbine blade failures which were not understood by the Junkers team. They focused on areas such as material defects, grain size and surface roughness. Eventually, in December, blade-vibration specialist Max Bentele was once again brought in during a meeting at the RLM headquarters. He identified that the failures were caused by one of the blades` natural fraquencies being in the engine running range. His solution was to raise the frequency, by increasing the blade taper and shortening them by 1 millimeter, and to reduce the operating speed of the engine[6] from 9,000 to 8,700 rpm.

It was not until early 1944 that full production could finally begin. These setbacks were the principal factor delaying the Luftwaffe’s introduction of the Me 262 into squadron service.

Given the lower-quality steels used in the 004B, these engines typically only had a service life of some 10–25 hours, perhaps twice this in the hands of a skilled pilot.[citation needed] Another shortcoming of the engine, common to all early turbojets, was its sluggish throttle response. Worse, it was fairly easy to inject too much fuel into the engine by throttling up too quickly, allowing heat to build up before the cooling air could remove it. This led to softening of the turbine blades, and was a major cause for engine failures. Nevertheless, it made jet power for combat aircraft a reality for the first time.

The exhaust area of the 004 featured a variable geometry nozzle, which had a special restrictive body nicknamed the Zwiebel (German for onion, due to its shape when seen from the side) which had roughly 40 cm (16 inch) of fore-and-aft travel to vary the jet exhaust’s cross-sectional area for thrust control, as the active part of a pioneering “divergent-convergent” nozzle format.

One interesting feature of the 004 was the starter system, which consisted of a Riedel 10 hp (7.5 kW) 2-stroke motorcycle engine hidden in the intake, and essentially functioned as a pioneering example of an APU for starting a jet engine. A hole in the extreme nose of the intake diverter body contained a pull-handle for the cable which “turned-over” the piston engine, which in turn spun up the turbine. Two small gasoline/oil mix tanks were fitted within the upper perimeter of the annular intake’s sheet metal housing for fueling the Riedel two-stroke mechanical APU unit.

The Jumo 004 could run on three types of fuel:

J-2, its standard fuel, a synthetic fuel produced from coal.

Diesel oil.

Aviation gasoline; not considered desirable due to its high rate of consumption.

Costing RM10,000 for materials, the Jumo 004 also proved somewhat cheaper than the competing BMW 003, which was RM12,000, and cheaper than the Junkers 213 piston engine, which was RM35,000. Moreover, the jets used lower-skill labor and needed only 375 hours to complete (including manufacture, assembly, and shipping), compared to 1,400 for the BMW 801.

Production and maintenance of the 004 was done at the Junkers works at Magdeburg, under the supervision of Otto Hartkopf.[11] Completed engines earned a reputation for unreliability; the time between major overhauls (not technically a TBO) was thirty to fifty hours, and may have been as low as ten, though a skilled flyer could double the interval.[12] (The competing BMW 003’s was about fifty.) The process involved replacing turbine blades (which suffered the most damage, usually from ingesting stones and such, later known as fodding) and rebalancing the rotors; the starter and governor would also be examined and replaced as needed. Combustors required maintenance every twenty hours, and replacement at 200.

Between 5,000 and 8,000 004s were built; at the end of the Second World War, production stood at 1,500 per month. The Fedden Mission, led by Sir Roy Fedden, postwar estimated total jet engine production by mid-1946 could have reached 100,000 units a year, or more.

War in the Fourteenth Century


Battle of Crécy between the English and French in the Hundred Years’ War.


Battle of Sluys.



The fourteenth century opened with a series of wars of succession and of territorial aggrandizement. In Scandinavia, the worst situation was in Sweden, where King Birger II (1290–1318) executed two princeling rivals to his throne, thus propelling the kingdom into a civil war that lasted almost throughout the second decade of the century. Contemporaneously, Danes and Poles joined together in 1316 to invade the Brandenburg lands in order to contain German expansionism into their own spheres of influence in the eastern Baltic. A double election, that of Ludwig of Bavaria and Frederick of Austria, to the German imperial throne in 1314 resulted in a decade of destructive war in that already war-weary kingdom. Ultimately, Ludwig emerged the victor, but at the price of arrested economic development, political repression and other forms of civic regression in Germany.

The period was also one of border wars: Anglo-Scottish, Franco-Flemish and Anglo-French. For years the English had claimed a vague overlordship over Scotland, and the Scots at various times resisted. As English interference became more insistent and more brutal, the Scots reacted with ever greater violence and brutality themselves. They were not successful against King Edward I and he was not entirely effective against them, but they delivered what seemed to be a crushing blow to his successor Edward II (1307–27) at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Because the English were unwilling to withdraw their claims or concede territory the Scots believed was rightfully theirs, the aftermath of Bannockburn developed into a prolonged period of guerrilla warfare in the borderlands of the two kingdoms. This, in turn, precipitated an almost total collapse of economic production in the war-ravaged regions during the Great Famine.

The Scots under Robert Bruce and his brother Edward Bruce opened a major second front in the savage war by using the small northern islands as a jumping-off point and invading Ireland. They expected an Irish rebellion against that people’s English overlords, but like Scotland, if not more so, Ireland was suffering from famine, and no great national uprising took place. The English and Scots, besides inflicting harm on each other, harried the Irish, living off the land by plunder and disciplining enemies of their cause by peremptory and barbaric punishments. The situation, though precarious for the invading Scots, still held promise because the native population of southern Wales rebelled against their English overlords at about the same time, in the wake, that is, of the death of the region’s principal English marcher lord at Bannockburn. The power vacuum created by this death and by English commitments against Scotland and in Ireland furnished the Welsh with a unique opportunity. Yet, in the event, the English put down the Welsh rebellion and, helped by a Scottish withdrawal from Ireland, re-established a modicum of control there by 1320. Nevertheless, border raiding and guerrilla warfare, much to English disadvantage, continued in the main theatre of confrontation, the Anglo-Scottish frontier.

The Franco-Flemish situation was just as messy from 1315 until the early 1320s. The issue was the extent of French sovereignty in Flanders: what precisely did it mean to have a tie to the kingdom? How much authority did the feudal dependence of French Flanders give to the royal overlord? What demands, fiscal and otherwise, could the French king legitimately make on the Flemings? Most Flemings thought French pretensions were overweening. The upper class in Flanders was divided as to how much and in what way it should resist, and some elements wanted to reach a compromise settlement. Many nobles, however, were loath to capitulate, and the burghers stubbornly refused to be cowed by the French.

Thus, it was on the battlefields of Flanders that issues were resolved. The French nobility found itself engaged against determined burgher militias and knights of Flanders in a particularly ferocious series of battles, which went very badly for the French in the early phase. The battle of Courtrai, also known as the battle of the Golden Spurs, took place on 11 July 1302. The huge but somewhat ragtag Flemish army, mostly foot soldiers, met and humiliated the cream of French chivalry, taking no prisoners, but slaughtering at least sixty-eight great nobles and, according to one count, 1,100 knights. Their golden spurs, 700 in number, were retrieved from the battlefield corpses and displayed as trophies in a church in Courtrai.

Such savagery (far from the only example on either side) provoked a grim determination among the combatants. The fighting went on intermittently, but always with brutality, for years. The French seemed to achieve the upper hand by 1312 and went so far as to incorporate a territorial swathe of French-speaking Flanders, including Lille and Douai, into the kingdom. But the attempt met vigorous opposition, and more fighting ensued, at least whenever the weather permitted. Some of the more dramatic descriptions of later campaigns describe the contending armies mired in mud while the rains of the famine period incessantly pelted northern Europe. The rains were more helpful to the Flemings precisely because they undermined the French advantage in cavalry. In the end, however, the rain stopped, and though it took considerable time, the vastly superior resources of the French kingdom allowed it to prevail over the burghers and their Flemish baronial supporters. Lille and Douai are still French.

While the English were engaged with the Scots and while the French slaughtered Flemings or got slaughtered by them, the two great kingdoms went to war against each other in 1294. Again, this Anglo-French war was ostensibly a border conflict, since the clash arose out of disputes about jurisdiction in the English-controlled part of south-western France, Gascony. Fortunately for the local population, the warfare was, on the whole, less intense than elsewhere. Although the formal peace treaty was not ratified until 1313, the period of hot war lasted only from 1294 to 1297. In the uneasy truce that followed, each side fought the other indirectly with surrogates, the French by showing amity to the Scots, the English by doing the same with the Flemings, the purchasers of so much of their raw wool in peaceful times.

The war of 1294–7, though of little interest in its military aspects, had two enormous repercussions. First, it caused a dreadful rift in relations between the papacy and the kings of England and France. English anger with the pope, Boniface VIII, who denounced Edward’s taxation of the Church without the pontiff’s prior consent as an infringement on the liberty of the Church, was relatively short-lived. Eventually, following an enormous amount of diplomatic manoeuvring, the pope conceded that in evident necessity or in an emergency the king did not have to seek papal permission before he levied the tax. Kings protected their subjects – in just wars, they alleged – and they protected the Church. It was inane, perhaps insane, Edward’s diplomats argued, to limit their king’s prerogatives and his capacity to safeguard the Church in England when the defence of the realm required swift and decisive military action.

Philip the Fair had done the same thing, taxing the clergy without prior papal permission, and Boniface rebuked him in the same way. The outcome was the same – papal capitulation to the royal arguments – but the French king, never particularly solicitous of papal policies since the days of the crusade against Aragon, looked upon the papacy’s diplomatic counter-attacks in the course of the dispute, and the theory of superiority that the pontiff’s men articulated early in the struggle, as a calculated attempt to humiliate the Crown of France. Even Philip’s victory in the dispute and the pope’s generous gesture of canonizing Philip’s grandfather, Louis IX, were insufficient to erase the bad memory which the conflict left in the consciousness of the French ruler.

A second consequence of the little war of 1294–7 arose out of attempts to cement the truce. In the period immediately following the cessation of active hostilities a move was made towards permanent peace by arranging a marriage between King Edward I’s son and King Philip the Fair’s daughter. As it turned out, the marriage of Isabelle, the daughter, to the future Edward II was a disaster. Isabelle did her part and produced potential heirs, but afterwards the royal couple went their own ways, she to a liaison with one Roger Mortimer, a great marcher lord, her husband to the bed of his male lovers or perhaps to some sort of intense but chaste male friendship that has been misconstrued by contemporaries and scholars alike.

Edward II’s reign (1307–27), like his marriage, was a catastrophe. Because he rewarded his favourites, was arbitrary and rather limited in his largesse to his ‘natural allies’ in the high nobility, and was a colossal failure in war (recall the disaster at Bannockburn), he was periodically confronted with baronial conspiracies designed either to wrest control of the government from him, retaining him solely as a figurehead, or to displace him entirely in favour of his eldest son.

Edward II was not a fool, and at times he showed his mettle. Drawing on the deep well of popular respect for their kings that the English of all classes manifested, he articulated a powerful theory of traditional royal authority in the Statute of York issued in Parliament in 1322. Coming at a time when the political nation at large was disgusted by in-fighting among the barons, who had seized power in 1311, Edward’s bid for political ascendancy was successful; the circumstances also allowed him the opportunity to execute retribution on those barons who had had the temerity to execute his male lover/dear friend, Piers Gaveston. But the king did not maintain close and effective control of the government thereafter and came again to depend heavily on favourites, who failed to create a strong royal party to sustain their position. That his queen joined one of the factions and plotted to overthrow her husband is indicative of the state of affairs in England. The king’s reputation was not helped by being a cuckold or by the awful visitation of the Great Famine of 1315–22.

In 1327, the queen, with her paramour, Roger Mortimer, seized power and forced Edward II to abdicate. He was dispatched in a gruesome murder late in the year. Roger and Isabelle technically ruled in the name of her adolescent son by Edward II, Edward III. The boy, however, despised Roger Mortimer for defiling his father’s bed with his mother, for laying violent hands on an anointed king, and for creating the circumstances for his father’s murder. In his own coup d’état of 1330 the young Edward seized power. Roger Mortimer was executed; Isabelle was eventually shunted off to a convent of Poor Clares.

With hindsight, then, the marriage of Edward and Isabelle, which had been intended to seal a truce, instead created innumerable problems in England while Edward was alive. Isabelle’s father, Philip the Fair, lived until 1314. When he died, he was survived by three sons and Isabelle, by then queen of England. One after the other the sons ruled and died prematurely: Louis X (1314–16), Philip V (1316–22), Charles IV (1322–8). None of them left legitimate heirs except Louis X, but his son, born posthumously, died uncrowned after a few weeks.

The French High Court of Parlement chose the son of Philip the Fair’s brother to be king in 1328 as Philip VI. There was no formal protest from Isabelle at the time. She counted on support from France to consolidate her own and Roger Mortimer’s position in England after their coup d’état against Edward II. In fact, the right to the throne of France should have passed to her and through her to her son. It is true that the French had never been ruled by a queen regnant, though queens or queen dowagers had sometimes exercised temporary regencies during a minority or in the absence of a ruler, say, on crusade. And it is certainly true, too, that male aristocrats had no desire to be ruled by a woman. But it was only ex post facto that jurists concocted the notion that it was part of the fundamental or constitutional law of France, inherited from the Salian Franks of the early Middle Ages, that no woman could rule in France or even transmit her rights to rule. To enforce this argument the jurists had to extrapolate from inheritance practices prescribed in the completely obsolete laws of the Salian Franks.

After Edward III came into his own, it became clear that the matter of the French succession was still regarded as an open question in England, and in the absence of real amity between the two countries, it was probable that Edward would some day use his claim as a weapon in disputes with France. Indeed, in 1337 he publicly declared his right to succeed in France. The attempt to enforce his claim was the opening act of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). No attempt can be made here to go into the details of that long war. In a struggle intended to unite the Crowns of France and England, one sees paradoxically the strong stirrings of nationalism. The truces especially contributed to the emerging national hatred between the French and English. The truces were more injurious than the most famous pitched battles, because unpaid or partly paid troops recently discharged took out their frustration and remunerated themselves materially and psychically by oppressing villagers and townsfolk in France, where the war was fought. Some of the English troops were criminals allowed to substitute military service in France for their judicial sentences; they had little chivalry in their ideology. When peasants grew weary of the maltreatment they received, they took savage revenge on the English, but also on their militarily pressured native oppressors, who were also stealing their goods and humiliating their persons.

Still, the worst consequences of the seemingly interminable war did not manifest themselves before the mid-fourteenth century. It was heavy, almost incessant taxation that weighed both countries down in a period that was already showing signs of a severe economic recession. To be sure, the differential impact of the war on the two countries needs to be stressed. Taxation inhibited some aspects of economic growth in England, even if the expenditure of taxes was a stimulus to specifically military industries and military suppliers. But in France, even stimulation of the war-focused industries paled before the destruction wrought by the contending armies and the wandering demobilized troops of the periods of truce. Yet those who mandated that the war be fought thought the price in human and material loss was worth it. Both sides believed their cause to be just.

Safavid Empire – Expansion And Military Organization


Wall painting of Taher-Abad battle scene from Safavid empire period, Chehel Sotun Palace, Esfahan, Iran

Wall painting of Taher-Abad battle scene from Safavid empire period, Chehel Sotun Palace, Esfahan, Iran

The Safavid Empire was not a conquest state: Safavid conquest did not imply a change in the form of administration. During the expansion of the empire, the Safavid regime closely resembled the Aqquyunlu and Timurid regimes that it supplanted. It also came to terms with the Tajik aristocracy, which included the established ulama. Their religious prestige, status as landholders, and role in the transmission of land revenue to recipients designated by the regime made them indispensable. In many areas, the notables made the regime real by connecting it to the peasants. Safavid conquest meant continuity, not change, except for the establishment of Shiism. The mode of expansion did not define the regime, as it did for the Ottomans and Mughals. Substantial parts of the Aqquyunlu confederation, including some components of the paramount Bayandur clan and of the Timurid confederation, joined the Qizilbash confederation.

Safavid military organization inevitably resembled that of the Aqquyunlu and Timurids. The Safavid army had two main components before the time of Shah Abbas, the confederate uymaqs and the qurchis. The qurchis were the Safavid war band but differed from the pattern of earlier tribal confederations. They were recruited as individuals and paid from the central treasury but came from the Qizilbash tribes and retained tribal affiliations. Some 1,500 in number under Ismail I, they served as the retinue of the shah in battle, as palace guards, and as royal couriers and occasionally went on independent expeditions. Positions in the corps were frequently hereditary, and officers were promoted from within. Before the reign of Abbas I, the chief of the qurchis, or qurchibashi, normally came from the dominant uymaq and had little political power. The qurchis were part of the tribal power rather than a means of counterbalancing it. They did, apparently, begin to use firearms during the reign of Shah Tahmasp, who increased their number to 5,000.

Under Abbas, the political and military significance of the qurchis changed. He expanded the corps to 10,000. The qurchibashi became one of the most prominent officials of the state. Abbas appointed qurchis to provincial governorships in place of Qizilbash chiefs. The expansion of the size and role of the qurchis was a central aspect of Abbas’s military reforms. The qurchis were a different mechanism for drawing upon the same pool of manpower that provided the Qizilbash tribal forces. Though becoming a qurchi did not extinguish tribal loyalty, it diluted tribal ties and reinforced fidelity to the ruler.

The early Safavid rulers drew on other sources of soldiers and military technology to strengthen their positions. Ismail sought artillery and technicians from Venice in 1502 and 1509. The defeat at Chaldiran gave further impetus to the acquisition of firearms. A small corps of artillerymen (tupchis) and infantry (tufangchis) had firearms by 1516. Descriptions of the Safavid order of battle at Jam in 1528 and of a military review in 1530 show that the Safavid forces then included both battlefield artillery-several hundred light guns at Jam-and several thousand infantrymen armed with guns. At Jam, the forces with firearms served in the center of the formation, as the Janissaries and sipahis of the Porte did in the Ottoman army. In the first phase of the battle, the Uzbek tribal cavalry engaged and defeated the Qizilbash tribal cavalry on both wings of the Safavid formation. The Uzbeks did not, however, engage the Safavid center, which was deployed in the Ottoman tabur jangi formation. The Uzbek forces reached the rear of the Safavid army, but this success did not affect the outcome of the battle. When the Uzbek forces were disorganized by victory, the Safavid center, under Tahmasp’s personal command, charged the Uzbek center. The Uzbek forces scattered. At Jam, the Safavids fielded a typical gunpowder- empire army and won a typical gunpowder-empire victory, even though the Qizilbash continued to dominate internal politics.

Under Abbas and afterwards, the tupchis and tufangchis remained important components of the Safavid army. One historian asserts that each corps had 12,000 men. The Safavids apparently recruited new cavalry units from tribal groups, Iranian and Turkic, outside the Qizilbash, in addition to expanding the tupchis and the tufangchis. Infantry units became a substantial part of the army by the time of Abbas’s wars with the Ottomans in Iraq. According to Willem Floor, the tufangchis were local peasant levies, organized for local defense but also liable for service on imperial campaigns far from home. Tufangchis from Khurasan fought in Anatolia. At least some, probably most, tufangchis were Tajiks; some must have been peasants. But they never became a potent force in Safavid politics. Since the Safavid Empire had a far weaker agrarian base than the Ottoman Empire, it is not surprising that the peasants carried less political weight.

Military slaves (qullar) frequently commanded the tupchis and tufangchis. Tahmasp apparently began development of a military slave corps. The prisoners from his Caucasian campaigns, converted to Islam and made military slaves, probably became the nucleus of the corps of ghulaman- i khassay-i sharifa (slaves of the royal household; also called the qullar), which is first mentioned under Abbas. The ethnic origin of the ghulams did not matter; the extraordinary loyalty and reliability of military slaves in general, coupled, apparently, with same high level of military training as the Janissaries, did. Because all of the new corps apparently served in the center of the battle formation, the precise tactical role of the ghulams is unclear. They were mounted but used firearms; presumably they fought as dragoons (mounted infantry). There may have been separate cavalry and infantry components, on the Ottoman model. Contemporary historiography on the Safavids pays little attention to military history; Martin Dickson’s description of Jam is the only battle history. For this reason, assessment of the precise military roles and effectiveness of the new army units is difficult. As the next two sections explain, ghulams frequently served in high positions in the central and provincial administrations during and after the reign of Abbas I. Abbas created the office of sipahsalar (commander-in-chief ) for the commander of the central army, supplanting the Qizilbash amir al-umara, mentioned below.

Abbas’s reforms created an army capable of meeting the Ottoman army in the field. The Safavids no longer needed the Fabian strategy of Tahmasp’s time. Though they were recruited directly, these forces were not always paid directly from the central treasury. They actually constituted a new provincial army because many of them, especially the qullar, held land-revenue assignments (tiyul, a Turkic word comparable to the Arabic iqta) in the provinces. In fact, these corps constituted a new provincial army, drawing revenue from the khassa provinces rather than the mamalik provinces. (I discuss these terms in the section on provincial administration.) Because they held, apparently, individual tiyuls assigned by the central government, these corps, or some components of them, resembled the Ottoman sipahi army. Abbas’s reforms thus created a new provincial army, supported by a new form of provincial administration.

The original provincial army, of course, was the Qizilbash confederation. It first materialized as an army when Ismail summoned his followers to Erzincan in 1500, uniting his distant tribal followers with the men who had been his entourage in hiding in Lahijan. At that time, rivalry between Ismail’s personal followers and the chiefs of the Qizilbash tribes began. Within a decade, the original Sufis of Lahijan, to use Masashi Haneda’s phrase, had lost most of their influence. Turkmen chieftains occupied most high offices. Like other tribal confederations of the period, the traditional battle formation of the Qizilbash reflected the hierarchy of tribes within a confederation. The battle formations reflected the dominance of the Shamlu and Ustajlu tribes.

At the time of the 1530 military review, the Qizilbash tribes provided 84,900 of 105,800 troops. The tribal proportion of actual fighters was probably greater. The chief of the most powerful Qizilbash uymaq normally held the posts of vakil (royal deputy and chief minister) and amir alumara (commander in chief) as long as the Qizilbash dominance lasted. The Qizilbash tribes were not, however, taut hierarchies with a single leader. Each normally had two major leaders, one at court and one in the provinces. Tahmasp increased his leverage against the Qizilbash by cultivating lesser chieftains within the tribes.

In the Qizilbash army, the individual soldiers had no direct ties to the ruler at all. Their loyalties were to their relatives and, ultimately, to their tribal leaders. Aside from occasional reviews like that of 1530, the central administration had little or no control over the size, equipment, or composition of the Qizilbash forces. Before the Abbasi transformation, Qizilbash chiefs were provincial governors and the commanders of the troops supported by their provinces. The central regime had minimal control over the provincial forces and governments. From the perspective of military administration, the weakness of the Safavid regime between 1514 and 1594 consisted of the lack of central control over the provincial army or of loyalty on the part of the provincial army to the ruler. One aspect of Abbas’s reforms addressed this issue.

Abbas used the principle of shahisivani to rally Qizilbash to his cause, beginning early in his reign, to gain support against the dominance of Murshid Quli Khan Ustajlu. Abbas organized the Qizilbash who responded to such calls for action into new military units. Like the expansion of the qurchis, the creation of the shahsivin units drew on Qizilbash manpower but bypassed the tribal leadership. The new pattern of provincial administration, with Tajiks, qurchis, and ghulams supplanting Qizilbash chiefs, did not end the role of the Qizilbash tribesmen in the provincial army. They continued to serve under the new governors and were paid either by land-revenue assignments or in cash from provincial treasuries.

The institutional structure of the Safavid army changed little after the time of Abbas I, but its fighting power degenerated considerably. External threats did not disappear entirely, but the Uzbeks remained weak and divided; the Treaty of Qasr-i Shirin marked the end of the Ottoman threat, and the Mughal threat to Qandahar ended in 1653. The Safavids did not attempt expansion, perhaps because of the enormous cost of their Qandahar expedition. Financial pressure led to significant reductions in military expenditure, including the abolition of the posts of sipahsalar in 1653-1654 and tupchibashi in 1658.

Aid to Arab Forces – Yom Kippur


Iraqi Hunter-fleet took part in the war against Israel, in 1973, as well. This time the No.1 Sqn was deployed to Egypt, while No.702 OCU was deployed to Syria. Both units suffered considerable losses: the No.1 Sqn should have lost all of its aircraft by the second week of the fighting.


In total, Arab countries added up to 100,000 troops to Egypt and Syria’s frontline ranks. Besides Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, several other Arab states were also involved in this war, providing additional weapons and financing.

However, nearly all Arab reinforcements came with no logistical plan or support, expecting their hosts to supply them, and in several cases causing logistical problems. On the Syrian front, a lack of coordination between Arab forces led to several instances of friendly fire.

Algeria sent a squadron each of MiG-21s and Su-7s to Egypt, which arrived at the front between October 9 and October 11. It also sent an armored brigade of 150 tanks, the advance elements of which began to arrive on October 17, but reached the front only on October 24, too late to participate in the fighting. After the war, during the first days of November, Algeria deposited around US$200 million with the Soviet Union to finance arms purchases for Egypt and Syria.

Libya, which had forces stationed in Egypt before the outbreak of the war, provided one armored brigade and two squadrons of Mirage V fighters, of which one squadron was to be piloted by the Egyptian Air Force and the other by Libyan pilots. Libya also sent financial aid. Morocco sent one infantry brigade to Egypt and one armored regiment to Syria. An infantry brigade composed of Palestinians was in Egypt before the outbreak of the war. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each sent 3,000 soldiers to Syria. These arrived with additional Jordanian and Iraqi reinforcements in time for a new Syrian offensive scheduled for October 23, which was later cancelled. Kuwaiti troops were also sent to Egypt. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also provided financial aid. Tunisia sent 1,000–2,000 soldiers to Egypt, where they were stationed in the Nile Delta and some of them were stationed to defend Port Said. Lebanon sent radar units to Syria for air defense. Sudan deployed a 3,500-strong infantry brigade to Egypt. It arrived on October 28, too late to participate in the war.

In addition to its forces in Syria, Iraq sent a single Hawker Hunter squadron to Egypt. The squadron quickly gained a reputation amongst Egyptian field commanders for its skill in air support, particularly in anti-armor strikes.

Cuba sent approximately 4,000 troops, including tank and helicopter crews to Syria, and they reportedly engaged in combat operations against the IDF. North Korea sent 20 pilots and 19 non-combat personnel to Egypt. The unit had four to six encounters with the Israelis from August through the end of the war. According to Shlomo Aloni, the last aerial engagement on the Egyptian front, which took place on December 6, saw Israeli F-4s engage North Korean-piloted MiG-21s. The Israelis shot down one MiG, and another was mistakenly shot down by Egyptian air defenses. Egyptian sources said that the North Koreans suffered no losses but claimed no aerial victories in their engagements.

Pakistan Air Force pilots flew combat missions in Syrian aircraft, and shot down one Israeli fighter.

During the Yom Kippur War, the Algerian Air Force participated in the conflict under the unified Egyptian military commandement. Mikoyan Guryevich MiG-21F-13s and newer MiG-21PFs were mainly used to protect the Cairo region. Mikoyan Guryevich MiG-17F and Sukhoi Su-7BMK aircraft also participated in the war, mostly in strafing and bombing missions. In October 1973 two Su-7BMK, one MiG-21 and a number of MiG-17Fs were lost.

Iraqi participation in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 took the part of a 60,000 strong Iraqi Army expeditionary force which operated on the Syrian front. However, the force did not perform very well, and the Iraqi Air Force did not do well either, losing 26 of the 101 fighter aircraft sent to Syria without shooting down any Israeli aircraft.

The October War influenced the evolution of aerial warfare. It was the first post-Vietnam conflict that relied heavily upon electronic warfare, especially SAM suppression. It led to a critical diplomatic confrontation between the United States and Soviet Union, linking regional tactical warfare with global strategic dynamics. It created the mistaken image of the importance of global aerial resupply, as the vaunted U. S. airlift to Israel did not even begin until 14 October, the day after the Israelis had reversed the tide of battle. The war ultimately damaged the reputation of the IAF as invincible, which contributed to Syria’s willingness to fight Israel again in 1982.


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