Lord Dunmore’s War

The fearsome warriors of the Shawnee people and other Ohio tribes sought to prevent British expansion of its Virginia colony west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Scottish-born John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore, joined the British army at 20 and became Virginia’s colonial governor at age 41.

Frontiersmen came to dominate the West in the 1760s and early 1770s by sheer weight of numbers – and an unrestrained appetite for land. Because of the expense of garrisoning the frontier, the British Army withdrew from the West and left only small forces at Fort Gage (where the Kaskaskia River empties into the Mississippi River), Fort Michilimackinac, Detroit, Niagara, and Fort Pitt (until 1772) following Pontiac’s War. Moreover, the King and his servants at Whitehall assumed that their American subjects would abide by the Proclamation of 1763 and refrain from settling west of the crest of the Appalachian Mountains. The crown designed the proclamation as the first step in an orderly and limited expansion of the West, one intended to put to rest Indians’ fear that Americans would soon overrun their homelands. By the early 1770s, however, few in the colonies paid any attention to the Proclamation of 1763. As John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore (royal governor of Virginia and a speculator with a voracious appetite for western lands), noted, no policy conceived in Great Britain could “restrain the Americans; their avidity and restlessness incite them.”

Lord Dunmore’s War stood as the first major test of American military prowess since Pontiac’s War. In early 1774, the Shawnees responded to Dunmore’s provocations and continued encroachments on their hunting grounds in Kentucky with raids on settlers and land surveyors across the Upper Ohio Valley. The frontiersmen proved themselves more than eager to retaliate. At the first word of the Indian attacks, Dunmore raised 150 Virginia rangers and ordered them to fall on Shawnee towns. Meanwhile, he mobilized the Virginia militia for a large-scale invasion of the Ohio country. His orders to his subordinate commanders focused directly on his intentions for the Shawnees. “Proceed directly to their Towns,” he instructed Colonel Andrew Lewis, a veteran ranger of the Seven Years’ War, “and if possible destroy their Towns & magazines and distress them in every other way that is possible.”

For the Shawnees, it soon became apparent that the “Long Knives” – the western Indians’ name for the Virginians – threatened their entire nation’s existence. After the Delawares refused to join them, the Shawnees knew that short of besting the Long Knives in a pitched battle, there was little they could do to defend their homes. In October, the outmanned and outgunned Indians therefore offered Lewis battle at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. At the battle of Point Pleasant, they subjected the frontiersmen to what in the Indians’ minds should have been a crushing defeat: at a cost of 30 Indians killed and “some wounded,” they made nearly 40 percent (49 killed and 80 wounded) of Lewis’s men casualties. Yet the Long Knife army, unlike that of Major General Edward Braddock, upon whom the Indians inflicted a battlefield defeat of similar scale a generation earlier, remained determined to continue its campaign. The frontiersmen were bent on avenging past wounds and seizing the rich lands of the Ohio Valley. They therefore closed ranks, regrouped, and prepared to cross the Ohio.

Failure to halt the American advance at Point Pleasant opened the Shawnees’ homelands to almost certain destruction and led the accommodationist-inclined faction within the Shawnees to accept a humiliating peace on the Long Knives’ terms. A decade earlier, the Shawnees had made a similar decision for peace when Henry Bouquet had marched west from Fort Pitt and threatened their settlements. In 1774, however, with British officials like Dunmore as hungry for Indian land as the Americans, they found it much harder to placate the Long Knives, who wanted more than a return to the status quo ante bellum. The land speculators and settlers wanted the Shawnees gone. In a crushing blow to their autonomy, Dunmore therefore demanded that the Shawnees give up hostages for their nation’s future good behavior and, most damagingly, abandon all claims to their hunting lands in Kentucky. The Battle of Point Pleasant proved an important victory in the impulse toward westward American expansion. As Dunmore explained, “The Event of this Action, proving very different from what the Indians had promised themselves, they at once resolved to make no further efforts against a Power they saw so far Superior to theirs.”

Victory in Dunmore’s War secured peace along the western frontier for three years. Given the choice between seeing their villages burned and their women and children killed or remaining aloof from the British, the Shawnees chose the latter. “The Virginians are hauty Violent and bloody,” British Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton noted in 1775, and “the savages have a high opinion of them as Warriors.” Indeed, rather than face the onslaught of armies of the Long Knives, all the major tribes of the West agreed to peace when the Patriot government of Virginia approached them. The Americans, meanwhile, held up their end of the bargain and did their best to prevent war on the Ohio frontier, even in the face of sporadic Indian attacks. When in 1777 the “renegade” Indians of Pluggy’s Town, for instance, raised their hatchets against Virginia, its assembly responded by authorizing a force of 300 men to march against the town and burn it. Cooler heads quickly prevailed. Congress understood that in striking Pluggy’s Town, the Virginians might shatter the fragile peace between the Americans and all the Indians of the Upper Ohio Valley. Congress therefore ordered the expedition halted.



The Eighth Air Force 1942-3

Certainly the most celebrated B-17, the Memphis Belle, B-17F-10-BO 41- 24485, fought through 25 grueling missions over Europe. Hollywood director William Wyler documented one of the plane’s last missions in a color film that, together with the crew’s subsequent cross-country war bond tour, made Memphis Belle a household name. Today, the fabled aircraft resides at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

They say it gets darkest before it becomes light, and that’s a good way to describe World War II for the Allies in 1942. Pearl Harbor had been attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, drawing the United States into the conflict. Stunned by the attack, Americans began mobilizing for war. On Jan. 28, 1942, the Eighth Air Force was formed at Savannah, Georgia.

While mobilization was gaining momentum, the Axis were expanding their territory. In North Africa, the Germans and Italians forced the British out of Benghazi (January 21). On February 15, the Japanese captured Singapore, and two months afterward on April 9, the U.S. and Filipino armies on the Bataan Peninsula surrendered. Forces on Corregidor held out until May 6 when they, too, surrendered. It looked like the Axis were unstoppable. The outlook for the Allies was indeed dark.

But one victory led to another for the Allies, beginning with the May 4–8 Battle of the Coral Sea when the American aircraft carriers USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Lexington (CV-2) faced off in the first naval battle in which surface ships never fired at each other. All of the action took place between ship-launched American and Japanese aircraft. Although many consider the action a draw, the Battle of the Coral Sea put an end to Japanese plans for an invasion of Australia. The United States lost the carrier Lexington, the destroyer USS Sims (DD-409), and the oiler USS Neosho (AO-23), and the Japanese saw the light carrier Shoho, one transport, two destroyers, and a light cruiser sent to the bottom during the engagement. This battle was followed one month later on June 4 with the American victory over the Japanese during the Battle of Midway. The Japanese lost four aircraft carriers (Akagi , Hiryu, Kaga, and Soryu) and the cruiser Mikuma, while the United States lost only the USS Yorktown and the destroyer USS Hammann (DD-412).

On July 2, the first B-17 arrived in England, flown across the Atlantic Ocean under Operation Bolero. In this first stage of the American buildup of air groups, 119 B-17s (92nd, 97th, and 301st Bomb Groups), 164 P-38s (1st and 14th Fighter Groups), and 103 C-47s (60th and 64th Troop Carrier Groups) were flown across the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands more would follow. On August 17, 12 B-17s of the 97th Bomb Group, led by Gen. Ira C. Eaker in B-17E 41-9023 Yankee Doodle, attacked the railroad marshaling yards at Rouen-Sotteville, France. By October 9, the Eighth Air Force was able to muster more than 100 heavy bombers for a raid on the industrial areas of Lille, France. The first P-47 Thunderbolts arrived in England on Christmas Eve 1942, ready to escort bombers across the channel and into Nazi-occupied territory.

The first Eighth Air Force raid inside Germany took place on Jan. 27, 1943, when fifty-five B-17s attacked the naval base at Wilhelmshaven. A combination of sixty-four B-17s and twenty-seven B-24s were launched on the raid, but the B-24s were unable to find the target because of weather, and only fifty-five of the B-17s were able to drop in the target area, with two of the B-17s dropping on Emden. Two Liberators and one Flying Fortress were lost on the raid.

On May 14, 1943, the Allies had driven Axis forces out of North Africa with the surrender of the Afrika Korps in Tunisia the day before. Also on May 14, the Eighth Air Force sent 198 bombers to attack the port city of Kiel. Three days later, the crew of the Memphis Belle were credited as having finished their combat tour of twenty-five missions. Simultaneously, on the night of May 16–17, British Bomber Command Lancasters from 617 Squadron carried out Operation Chastise, breaching Germany’s Möhne and Eder dams and flooding parts of the heavily industrialized Ruhr Valley.

In June, the 100th, 381st, and 384th Bomb Groups, all equipped with B-17s, joined the Eighth Air Force, flying their first mission on June 22. While three B-17 groups stood up, three groups of B-24s (44th Bomb Group, 93rd Bomb Group, and 389th Bomb Group) were sent to North Africa for the August 1 attack on the oil fields at Ploesti, Romania. The three bomb groups would return to England and the Eighth Air Force on Sept. 8, 1943.

August 1943 saw the Luftwaffe take a heavy toll on Eighth Air Force aircraft. On August 17, 315 bombers flew across Germany to attack the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt (230 B-17s from the 1st Combat Wing) and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 factory at Regensburg (4th Combat Wing). Losses amounted to 36 aircraft for the 1st Combat Wing and 24 for the 4th Combat Wing: a total of 60 bombers and more than 600 men on a single mission. The 1st and 4th Combat Wings also flew the Eighth Air Force’s first mission against V-weapon targets when 224 bombers were dispatched to hit Watten, France. More than 360 general-purpose 2,000-pound bombs were dropped on the site with a loss of 4 B-17s.

In September 1943, the first of many thousands of P-51 Mustangs arrived to escort Eighth Air Force bombers on missions. Later that month, the first blind bombing mission for the Eighth was flown on September 27, when 308 B-17s were dispatched to attack the port city of Emden. Two H2S radar-equipped pathfinder Flying Fortresses led the way, with 246 planes dropping their bombs on target.

The Eighth Air Force returned to attack the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt on October 14, losing sixty bombers in the process. Known as the “Second Battle of Schweinfurt,” the raids on the area’s ball bearing factories reduced output by 66 percent of prewar production levels and forced the Germans to distribute production sites. The following day, the Eighth’s first P-38 fighter group, the 55th Fighter Group, achieved operational status.

Three major raids in November saw the Eighth Air Force attack Wilhelmshaven and the heavy-water production plants and airfields in Norway. The raid on Wilhelmshaven on November 3 marked the Eighth’s first raid of more than five hundred bombers dispatched to attack the U-boat facilities in this port town. It was also the first time the Eighth’s Pathfinder Force used H2X radar to bomb a target.

In the final month of 1943, the Eighth Air Force’s strength grew, culminating in the December 13 attack on the port cities of Bremen, Hamburg, and Kiel. And on Christmas Eve, 670 bombers were dispatched to attack 23 V-weapons sites along the English Channel.

By the end of 1943, enough men and aircraft had arrived at Eighth Air Force bases to demonstrate that the principles of sustained strategic bombardment could be used to cripple the warfight capabilities of an antagonist nation.


I n 1942 and 1943, as the Army Air Forces took the fight deeper and deeper into Axis territory, German Bf 109s and Fw 190s were extracting a heavy price in men and aircraft on every raid. The Army Air Forces needed a fighter that could escort bombers to and from the target.

At this point in the war, the only Army Air Force fighters escorting the bombers were P-38 Lightnings and P-47 Thunderbolts. Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfires had been flying escort for the American daylight bombers while the American force was assembled, trained, and shipped to the United Kingdom; however, Spitfires had an extremely short range and were not suitable for escorting bombers to targets deep in Germany.

When the Thunderbolts joined the fray in May 1943, they were capable of escorting the bomber formations to most coastal targets in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and back—about 175 miles from base to target and return. In July 1943, Thunderbolts received 75-gallon drop tanks, which extended their escort radius to 230 miles. It was not until February 1944, when two 150-gallon wing tanks were added, that the P-47’s escort range was extended to 475 miles, enabling them to escort bomber formations as deep as the synthetic oil factories at Magdeburg, Germany. When not having to shepherd the bombers, P-47s could fly greater distances on fighter sweeps and were able to destroy a large number of aircraft as well as targets on the ground. North American P-51 Mustangs began flying escort duties beginning in January 1944. In March 1944, P-51s were equipped with two 108-gallon wing tanks, enabling them to escort bombers on 850-mile missions.

While the single-engine bomber escort was being sorted out in 1942–43, the Army Air Forces decided to experiment with upgunned B-17s and B-24s. The idea was to remove the bomb load, increase the number of guns and the amount of ammunition carried, and add additional armor plate. To the Germans, the bomber escorts would look like regular Flying Fortresses and Liberators, but as the Fw 190s and Bf 109s got closer, they’d be in for a surprise. The bomber escort B-17s and B-24s would, in theory, be flown at the front, sides, and rear of the formation, in the most vulnerable positions. These bombers could increase the firepower of the formation and reduce the effectiveness of the enemy’s fighters.

The first of the modified bomber escorts was Boeing–built Flying Fortress B-17F 41-24341. It was modified by Lockheed Aircraft at Burbank, California, with two power-operated twin 0.50-cal. waist gun mounts manufactured by United Shoe Machinery Corp., a twin 0.50-cal. machine-gun Bendix chin turret, and a Martin 250CE (two 0.50-cal. machine guns, cylindrical, electric) top turret added in the radio room to supplement the bomber’s existing Sperry top turret. Dubbed the XB-40, for a standard mission it was to carry eleven thousand rounds of ammunition with the capability to carry an additional six thousand-round overload if needed.

The XB-40 underwent tactical trials at the Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command, Eglin Army Air Field, Florida. In the final report, dated Dec. 5, 1942, the Proving Ground Command recommended the bomber for further development with the proviso that the waist positions be staggered and that additional armor plate be provided to protect the crew during frontal attacks. Flight testing showed that the fully loaded XB-40 cruised at the same speed as a fully loaded B-17F, although the XB-40’s rate of climb was 10 percent less. If the ball turret was retracted, the XB-40 was 4 miles per hour faster in cruise.

The recommendations from the Proving Ground Command led to a prototype program, designated the YB-40, with twenty Vega–built B-17Fs transferred to Douglas Aircraft’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, facility for modification. An additional four B-17s were converted to TB-40 trainer configuration. After modification, thirteen YB-40s departed the United States between May 8 and 18, 1943, for operations with the 92nd Bomb Group at Alconbury, England. Following local familiarization flights and more training, the YB-40s flew their first combat mission on May 29, 1943, to bomb the submarine base at Saint-Nazaire, France. Bombers on that mission dropped 277 bombs, each weighing 2,000 pounds, and covered 1,000 miles during six hours of flying time. Of the eight YB-40s dispatched, one aborted the mission because of mechanical failure, and only four were able to return to Alconbury; the remaining three ran short of fuel and landed at alternate fields. After this mission, a number of deficiencies in the YB-40’s armament were discovered, including the need to re-rig the ammunition feed chutes and to change the location of the ammunition feed booster motors and connections to make the guns more reliable. After these changes were incorporated, the YB-40s flew thirteen more missions.

Only one YB-40 was lost during combat trials with the 92nd Bomb Group. On the June 22 mission to bomb the synthetic rubber plants at Huls, Germany, YB-40 42-5737 Wango Wango was hit by antiaircraft, starting fires in the number one and four engines. The bomber lagged behind the formation and was finished off by Fw 190s near the Dutch border. Five of the crew bailed out shortly after the engine fires started, and the other men parachuted to safety before the plane went down. All ten crewmembers were taken prisoner.

After flying combat missions, it was determined that the heavily armed YB-40s were only 10 percent more effective than standard B-17s at combating enemy fighters, and that once the B-17 formation dropped its bombs and became lighter, the heavier YB-40s lagged behind. From the YB-40 program, the Bendix chin turret was recommended for installation on all future Flying Fortresses.

The last of the fourteen YB-40 missions was flown on July 28, 1943, to Kassel, Germany; the program was subsequently terminated and the bombers sent stateside. (Three YB-40s, including 42-5736 Tampa Tornado and 42-5741 Guardian Angel, were transferred to the 91st Bomb Group, and 42-5739 Lufkin Ruffian saw service with the 303rd, 379th, and the 384th Bomb Groups.)


While the XB-40 and YB-40 program was underway, a San Diego–built Consolidated B-24D Liberator, 41-11822, was converted to XB-41 bomber escort configuration. The modification included the addition of a Bendix chin turret, Motor Products tail turret, additional Martin upper turret, and power-operated United Shoe Machinery Corp. M5 waist gun mounts. The bomber had the capacity to carry fifteen thousand rounds of 0.50-cal. ammunition.

Once tested at the Proving Ground Command at Eglin Field, it was determined that the XB-41 was 15 miles per hour slower than a B-24D, had a greatly decreased rate of climb, a service ceiling of only 22,000 feet, and would not fly above 25,000 feet with the new ammunition load. Flying in formation with other B-24s, the XB-41 required 4 to 5 more inches of manifold pressure and an additional 150 propeller rpms to maintain position. The increased power settings consumed fuel at a greater rate, thus limiting the XB-41’s range. In addition, the XB-41’s center of gravity was dangerously aft—more than 37 percent of the mean aerodynamic chord—with anything greater than 35 percent considered extremely dangerous; this impacted the bomber’s flying characteristics and placed high negative loads on the tail surfaces. After concluding the tests, the Proving Ground Command recommended that development of the XB-41 be canceled.

With both the YB-40 and the XB-41 canceled, bomber crews would have to wait until the P-51 Mustang arrived in large numbers for long-range escorts capable of flying deep into the heart of Germany.

The Assault Rifle

Six comparative views (left to right) of the 7.92×33mm MKb.42(W), MKb.42(H), and the MP.44.

Polte Company drawing of the 7.92mmx33mm kurz Sturmgewehr cartridge (all dimensions in millimeters). The Sturmgewehr and its intermediate cartridge, the 7.92x33mm Kurz (Short), gave the individual soldier vastly increased firepower by two attributes that neither the rifle nor the submachine gun could combine: controllable burst fire and good ballistic performance. It inaugurated a new concept in small arms: a short, handy shoulder weapon having a reduced recoil impulse that allowed accurate full-automatic fire, yet powerful enough to serve as a conventional rifle out to 400 yards- the range within which most infantry engagements occurred. This combination was achieved by utilizing a cartridge midway in size and energy between the relatively weak pistol round used in submachine guns and the full-power infantry ammunition common to then-standard rifles and machine guns. The smaller intermediate cartridge allowed the Sturmgewehr’s mechanism to be more compact, lighter, and less expensive, while the reduced weight of both gun and cartridge meant that the soldier could carry more ammunition into battle. Today virtually all infantry rifles embody the Sturmgewehr concept.

The universal application of the automatic principle to the individual weapon has made it necessary and convenient to give that weapon a new name, thus indicating its enlarged capabilities — the assault rifle.

Widespread use of assault rifles, particularly during the past five decades, has shown this individual weapon used by all adversaries involved in past and present conflicts; whether guerrilla wars, civil wars, “wars of liberation” and certainly by major combatants in larger wars. The increase in firepower for the individual has literally provided small groups of determined men armed with selective-fire assault rifles the force that here-to-fore was reserved for battalions and regiments.

When hand-held fully automatic weapons fed by detachable magazines first came on the scene, they were made in existing infantry rifle calibers. Some, such as the FN/FAL and U.S. M14 rifles, continued in such calibers until the advantages of an intermediate round — such as controllability on full automatic fire — were irrefutably demonstrated by the Kalashnikov AK-47. The early iterations of the assault rifle concept, such as the Federov, the BAR, the Simonov AVS-36 and others served to illustrate how advantageous such a design might be, but it was not until the German Sturmgewehr 44 (assault rifle 44) with its intermediate round proved just how advantageous such a design really was, that the concept was validated. Interestingly, the StG.44 was first called a submachine gun by the Germans (Machine Pistol 44), and the AK-47 was first called a submachine gun by the Soviets and by NATO in the early years. It was during WW II that the German designation of “assault rifle” was coined, and it was such a captivating term it has come to nearly universal usage, referring to a hand-held weapon capable of semi-automatic or fully automatic (selective) fire, fed from a detachable box magazine, which fires an intermediate rifle cartridge. Earlier designs firing a full-size infantry round, such as the Fedorov, BAR or AVS-36, however, were still assault rifles as well — just as a Model T, although an early design, was still an automobile.

The weapons of mass destruction held by national powers today exist primarily to checkmate similar hostile weapons. We must continue to discourage their use. But if future wars involve the employment of tactical atomic weapons against military forces, a modern field army would see much of its sophisticated equipment reduced to shambles in a matter of minutes. When the dust settles on an atomic battlefield, to a great extent the outcome will still depend on small groups of desperate men, the assault riflemen.

Today’s emerging threats include antagonists with a suicide mentality so base it does not care if all parties lose, and they are more likely to employ asymmetrical warfare and individual terrorist operatives, or work for their goals within “low-intensity” conflicts. When such faceless combatants can be engaged, however, the fighters on both sides mostly comprise small units of individual riflemen, armed with what has become known as an assault rifle.

In addition to the military context, modern police fighting organized crime find their new adversary so well funded and equipped that police elements are increasingly forced to train and operate as paramilitary forces to combat “traditional” crime, in addition to their role in responding to terrorist threats at street level, with an assault rifle in their hands.

Assault rifle performance and technical characteristics are largely determined by the ammunition used. Designers have been aware of this fact for many years, but prior to the appearance of the German Sturmgewehr in the early 1940s, all standard military automatic and semiautomatic rifles were chambered to fire cartridges that previously had been used in older weapons. (One exception was the U.S. carbine’s .30 caliber, 7.62×33mm cartridge, which was not a true assault rifle cartridge.)

Design limitations imposed by older “full power” rifle cartridges made it impossible to develop truly lightweight rifles that would shoot effectively during full-automatic fire. Not only was mechanical functioning violent with such cartridges, but projectile dispersion was very great. Muzzle climb during burst fire was the usual result. After the first shot of the burst, subsequent ones generally passed harmlessly over the target, or in compensation, lateral dispersion increased.

As a first step in changing Western thinking about infantry ammunition, French armament engineer Marcel Devouges offered the following observations about ammunition for automatic weapons in 1924: “The cartridges for automatic arms (except pistols) were originally designed for non-automatic weapons, and for tactical concepts which have been greatly modified since the experiences of the last war.” He noted that during World War I, each army designed its machine guns for the same cartridge used in their service rifles.

Devouges commented that there was a growing opinion favoring separate cartridges for each class of weapon, because of the contrasting needs in today’s terms of the general-purpose machine gun, those of the squad automatic weapon, and those of the automatic rifle (self-loading rifles). General purpose machine guns were expected at the time to kill out to as far as 3,500 meters. Squad automatic weapons and automatic rifles would be employed against targets up to 800 meters. Devouges suggested that 7mm would be the optimum caliber for lightweight automatics, and that 7.5mm would be suitable for GPMGs. His ideas and suggestions were far ahead of contemporary thinking.

In actual practice, those nations that employed a single cartridge (7.62mm or larger) for rifles and machine guns retained that type ammunition through the end of World War II. Those countries that had calibers smaller than 7.62mm (generally those in the 6.5mm class) adopted a larger, more powerful caliber cartridge during the 1939-1945 conflict. Most notable in this latter group were the Dutch, Greeks, Italians, Japanese, Norwegians, Portuguese, and Swedes. Adoption of a second cartridge was usually related to the needs of the machine gun. In some instances — such as the Italian 8×59mmRB Breda cartridge and the 7.9×57R M.v.M. Dutch — the new ammunition was provided exclusively for machine guns.

As with the American decision to keep its Model 1906 .30 caliber (7.62×63mm) cartridge, and not adopt the proposed .276 Pedersen (7×53mm) ammunition, other industrialized nations opted to retain their older munitions because of the enormous expense involved in fielding a new round — even if they agreed to the reduction in power and range of the service rifle ammunition. In addition to research, development and tooling costs, huge quantities of ammunition must be stockpiled in peacetime in anticipation of wartime usage. For nations such as the United States and the former Soviet Union, which have large territories and global commitments of troops, ammunition also must be prepositioned worldwide. Allied and enemy experience with the unanticipated magnitude of cartridge expenditures during the World War led to cautious behavior in the post-1918 period. Nearly all belligerents had artillery shells and small arms ammunition shortages. For some, for example the Russians, these shortfalls were chronic and fatal.

During the final years of World War II, and in the immediate post-war period, all major armed forces examined the tactical advantages of switching to less bulky and lower power infantry ammunition types. The decade 1943-1953 was a period of much experimentation with new rifle cartridges. Many competing designs appeared, with a few key ones surviving testing and evaluation through to adoption,

Within alliance groupings, “interoperability” has become a priority. Standardization of ammunition and weapon types simplifies logistics involved in the field supply of large armies. It also requires more stringent attention to common standards and quality control. The Warsaw Pact armies were all very successful in standardizing both guns and cartridges, NATO allies have settled for a few standard types of interoperable ammunition that will work in a wide variety of weapons of the same caliber. In theory, all 7.62×51 mm NATO cartridges will function equally well in the Fabrique Nationale FAL, Heckler & Koch Gewehr 3 (G3), U.S. M14 rifles, and FN MAG, Rheinmetall MG3, Manufacture Nationale d’Armes de Saint Etienne (MAS) AAT 52, and U.S. M60 GPMGs, without concern about the country in which the weapon or ammunition was manufactured. As we shall see in subsequent discussion, this interoperable ideal is sometimes elusive. Weapons types respond differently to differnt cartridge case materials (e.g., brass vs. steel, material hardness) or to variations in chamber pressures or gas port pressures. Projectiles can respond significantly differently to even slight changes of barrel twist. The basic goal of interoperability is often difficult to attain.

Assault Rifle Operating Systems

Significant confusion and misunderstanding exists concerning the various operating systems of the world’s assault rifles (and other firearms). First it must be understood that all self-loading firearms are operated by expanding gases when the cartridge is fired, and are thus gas operated. It is how these gases are harnessed that more precisely defines the operating system. Although new operating and locking systems have continued to evolve over the years, the definitions of operating systems described below are based on those established by the late Colonel George M. Chinn, USMC (Retired). These systems are listed in Col. Chinn’s book, The Machine Gun, Volume IV, Parts X and XI, published by the Bureau of Ordnance, U.S. Navy.

  1. Blowback: An unlocked bolt opening by the opposite reaction of a cartridge case when the projectile travels forward. Blowback bolts depend on being relatively heavy to delay opening until pressure has dropped to a safe level, and thus are sometimes called an “inertially locked breech.” Although a blowback action can sometimes assist another operating system, the only assault rifle to use the simple blowback operating system was the Burton.
  2. Delayed Blowback: An operating system beginning with a fully locked breech being unlocked shortly after the cartridge is fired through a recoiling part, the movement of a primer, or another means of unlocking. No assault rifle using this system was ever mass-produced. Often confused with retarded blowback operation.
  3. Retarded Blowback: A system of operation beginning with a semi-locked breech that is opened by the opposite reaction of a cartridge case being fired, but only after overcoming a retardation caused by a mechanical means, usually a combination of leverage and spring tension. Examples of retarded blowback assault rifles include the German G3 and the French FAMAS. Often confused with delayed blowback operation.
  4. Long Stroke Gas Piston: A locked breech mechanism operated by a gas piston that travels a distance at least equal to the length of the cartridge being fired. Examples include the WWII German FG42, MP44, and Stoner 63.
  5. Short Stroke Gas Piston: A locked breech mechanism operated by a gas piston that travels a distance less than the length of the cartridge being fired. Examples include the U.S. M1 Carbine, M14 rifle, and the Steyr AUG.
  6. Long Stroke Piston and Cylinder Via Direct Gas: A locked breech mechanism operated by a gas, piston and cylinder that travel a distance at least equal to the length of the cartridge. Examples of this system include the AR-10 and M16 rifles where the bolt (piston) and the carrier (cylinder) are actuated by direct gas fed through a tube from the gas block.
  7. Short Recoil: A locked breech mechanism where the barrel and bolt recoil together for a distance shorter than the length of the cartridge before being mechanically unlocked, allowing the bolt to continue rearward while the barrel returns forward under spring pressure. An example is the Johnson assault rifle.

Assault Rifle Locking Systems

  1. Rotating Bolt: A locking system where the bolt rotates to bring two or more locking lugs into engagement with counterparts in the receiver or extension of the barrel. Examples include the AK-47, M14, and M16 assault rifles.
  2. Tilting, or Propped Bolt: A locking system where one end of the bolt is tilted to lock into a recess in the receiver of the rifle (usually the rear of the bolt). Examples include the MP44, and FN-FAL assault rifles.
  3. Toggle Lock: A locking system where an arm attached to the bolt is cammed into a recess in the receiver to lock the bolt. An example of this system was used in the U.S. Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).
  4. Locking Tabs: A locking system where two locking tabs (or lugs) are forced out from the bolt into locking recesses in the receiver. An example of this system was used in the British EM-2 assault rifle and was also used in the WWII German G43 rifle.
  5. Locking Block: A locking system where a block or wedge is forced into a recess or recesses in the bolt to lock it to the receiver. An example of this system is found in the Czech VZ58 assault rifle.
  6. Roller-Delay: A semi-locking system where roller-like lugs are forced out into rounded recesses in the receiver or barrel extension, and held there by a combination of leverage in the form of a wedge-shaped mass and spring pressure. Examples are the German G3 and the Swiss SG510 assault rifle series.
  7. Roller Lock: A locking system similar to Roller-Delay, except that the rollers are mechanically locked into their recesses and are unlocked when an operating rod moves the mechanical lock. An example is the SIG 530 assault rifle.
  8. Rocking-Lever: In this locking system a lever connects and bolt and bolt carrier and forces them into battery with leverage under pressure of the recoil spring while pivoting against a shoulder in the receiver. When fired, the cartridge case exerts pressure on the bolt, which in turn pushes against the carrier. This in turn forces the rocking lever out of engagement with the receiver to unlock the breech. This system is found in the retarded blow-back operated French FAMAS assault rifle, where the delay lever also acts an accelerator to add velocity to the bolt group.
  9. Rising Chamber: In this system the chamber is a separate cylinder that moves up and down into and out of battery within the receiver. This system is found in the Stoner and Steyr Advanced Combat Rifles (ACR).
  10. Rotating Chamber: In this system the chamber rotates into and out of alignment with the bore. The rotating chamber system is used in the German G11 assault rifle.
  11. Lockless Chamber: In this system the chamber and breech are integral with the barrel and neither move during operation. Instead, the cartridge is inserted through a side port, and the solid end of the barrel acts as the breech block with a separate means of sealing off escaping gas. The McDonald Douglas Advanced Combat Rifle uses the lockless system.

Cold War Warships: Krivak Class Frigate

In 1970, as construction continued on the final units of the Kashin class, the Soviet Union completed the first of its Krivak-class guided missile frigates. These were the largest of the frigates produced in this age. The hull of one of these vessels measures 405 feet, 3 inches by 46 feet, 3 inches by 15 feet, 1 inch and displaces 3,300 tons. Designed for ASW duty, the armament consists in part of one SS-N-14 ASW box launcher mounted in the bow that holds four missiles. Entering service in 1969, this missile measures 25 feet long and has a range of 30 nautical miles. It can also be used against surface ships. In addition, the ship also possesses two RBU- 6000 ASW rocket launchers and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes. A Krivak-class warship also carries two SA-N-4 SAM launchers with 20 reloads each and four 3-inch guns mounted in dual-piece gun houses located in the stern. A subsequent version of the type, Krivak II, mounts two 4-inch guns in single-mount gun houses in place of the original gun armament. The top speed is 32 knots. Crew complement consists of 200 officers and men. The Soviet Union completed 33 Krivak-class warships between 1970 and 1982.

The production program of the Soviet Union did not approach that of the United States. This was due to both the struggling Soviet economy by the 1980s and the coming to power in March 1985 of Mikhail Gorbachev. The new Soviet leader greatly curtailed the construction of new warships and began to lessen the extent of seaborne operations for existing units to ease some of the burden on the Soviet economy. As a result, Soviet production was a far cry from that of the first decades of the Cold War. The Soviet Union constructed nine more Krivak-class frigates to counter the production of the United States and its NATO allies.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, financial difficulties have rendered the former Soviet Navy a shadow of its former self, as there is not a great deal of money to provide for new construction. Production has not ended, and in 1993 the Russians commissioned one frigate of an improved Krivak design. This vessel, however, represents the only new unit in service (as of 2004) and certainly cannot make up for the losses of the fleet through financial cutbacks. Of the enormous number of destroyers and frigates produced by the Soviet Union, only 1 of the 18-ship Kashin class remains, and that unit is not fully operational. In addition, 15 of the 42 Krivak-class frigates are in service and 22 of the 43-unit Grisha-class frigates are operational. The frigate fleet also includes the 11 vessels of the Parchim class. However, the frigates are largely coastal defense vessels ill-suited to bluewater operations. In 2004, Russia operated 61 frigates of oceangoing capability and 33 smaller frigates.

Units: This class comprised 42 units.

Type and significance: This design was a large frigate that was unusual for the Soviet Union, which constructed mostly small frigates for coastal defense.

Dates of construction: All units were laid down and completed between 1970 and 1991.

Hull dimensions: 405’3″ x 46’3″ x 15’1″

Displacement: 3,300 tons

Armor: None

Armament: One SS-N-14 SAM launcher located on the bow, two SAN-4 SAM launchers, four 3″ guns, two RBU-6000 ASW launchers, eight 21″ torpedo tubes, and 20 mines. Some of these ships, known as Krivak II, have 4″ guns in place of the 3″ weapons. In 2004, most of the surviving units carried eight SS-N-25 SSM in two quadruple-cell launchers, two SA-N-4 SAM systems, four 3″ guns, eight 21″ torpedo tubes, and two RBU-6000 ASW launchers.

Machinery: Diesel and gas plant capable of 48,600 shaft horsepower.

Speed: 32 knots

Complement: 200

Notes: On 8 November 1975, a portion of the crew of one of these vessels, Storozhevoy, staged a mutiny in an effort to seize the ship and defect from the Soviet Union. Their endeavor ultimately failed. Today, 15 of these units remain in service. Of the others, three were transferred to Ukraine in 1997, and many of the others have been scrapped.

This very large class of anti-submarine escorts was in continuous production from 1968 until 1990. Some 39 were built in three distinct subgroups and the original Krivak I was the world’s first major class of warship to be powered entirely by gas turbines, the uptakes venting through a single squat funnel set well aft The Krivak I disposed the missile armament mostly forward, quadruple torpedo tubes amidships and two twin 3in (76mm) gun mountings right aft This arrangement was repeated in the Krivak II, but the gun armament was altered to two single 3.9in (100mm) guns.

Neither of these versions had any provision for operating a helicopter, but the Krivak III, of which eight were completed between 1983 and 1993, incorporated some substantial changes including the provision of a hangar and flightdeck on the stem. A single Kamov Ka-27 Helix is carried. This alteration necessitated the deletion of the after SA-N-4 launcher and also the two gun mountings. Instead, a single 3.9in (100mm) automatic was mounted on the foredeck in place of the quadruple launcher for the SS-N-14 ASW missiles, which were no longer carried. Interestingly, the Krivak Ills were not originally built for the Soviet Navy but for the USSR Border Guard, which was run by the KGB. However, all are now in regular naval service with the exception of the last to be completed, which was ceded to the Ukraine after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

In 1997 India ordered six frigates based on the Krivak III hull and machinery, but armament and equipment installation is yet to be decided and may well differ from that of the Russian ships. The first ship of this order is being built at St Petersburg and is due for completion in 2002.

A total of 20 Krivak Is were completed between 1970 and 1982, and these were followed by 11 Krivak lis, which commissioned between 1975 and 1982. Many of these two groups have been retired and three ships were transferred to the Ukraine Navy in 1997, although none appear to be currently operational.

Woldemar Voigt and a Swing-Wing

Skyraider’s 3D Aviation Art!

Who invented variable wing-sweep? Barnes Wallis? Maybe not, for Voigt’s Messerschmitt Me. P. 1101 prototype must be the basis, not just of a swept and variable wing idea, but also of a sharply swept, ducted engine, single-seat fighter design. The fact the American `copy’ that was the Bell X-5 seemed identical was of no accident, for the Me P. 1101 was also seized and shipped back to America. Intriguingly, much of Voigt’s Messerschmitt P. 1101 research fell into French hands, who, unlike the British, had no need, nor compunction, to hand it to the Americans, and refused to do so. The Me P. 1101 was not without problems, it was far too heavy for a glider designer like Willi Messerschmitt to countenance and the 40° wing sweep, with proposed variable or `swing-wing’ mechanism, defied solution in the ill-funded dog days of a war about to end. Yet, with its internally- mounted wing geometry gearing design, the P. 1101 would signal the successful 1960s use of such. So, the P. 1101 would be no last-ditch wonder weapon, and was not suited to rough-and-ready construction and short airframe life. Yet within the Me P. 1101 lay many future design trends; the P. 1101 still looks like a 1980s airframe.

Strangely, yet somewhat unsurprisingly, the Bell Aircraft Corporation’s chief designer, Robert Woods, just happened to find himself standing in a barn in Oberammergau, in early 1946, staring at the Me P. 1101. It was, of course, an expensive and difficult journey from the USA to the hills of southern Germany, but someone had to do it. The consequent Bell X-5 was, even to the most pro- American observer, an alleged blatant copy. Other 1950s American swept-wing fighters look like crosses between the Me P. 1101 and the Multhopp Ta 183. In doing so they would take on the MiG-15s that were also blatant copies of German design.

Although ultimately unsuccessful in terms of being directly copied, the effect of the Me P. 1101 would also lead to its designer, W. Voigt, finding himself at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, in 1946 – thence to a career in the US aerospace industry. And the P. 1101 was not to be Messerschmitt’s final fling in design terms either, because the ultimate route that Messerschmitt advanced design was to take, followed the all-wing path. From the P. 1101 came the P. 1102 as a tailless all-wing idea (with vertical fin) and a series of jet-powered all-wing airframe proposals designed to meet the Reich’s last final struggles for a weapon to strike fear into American hearts.

Messerschmitt had not been an avid follower of the all-wing and his thoughts on tailless design included a vertical fin or `tail’, but not a drag inducing horizontal stabiliser tail unit. Yet, as a glider designer prior to his powered-designs, Messerschmitt had kept a close eye on the Hortens and Lippisch. Ultimately, the P. 1111/12 design proposals of early 1945 were advanced all-wing ideas and again, looks like an early iteration of a later British idea, the DH 108, and the American Northrop X-4. Of significance, here too, in the P. 1112, we saw the annular, wing root/leading edge/engine air intake concept for the first time – later seen in the de Havilland Comet, Vickers V. 1000 and Valiant, and in production in the Handley Page Victor – as well as a host of American machines.

Of the world’s first swept-winged jet fighter Me 262 (and the even more aerodynamic Me 262 HG), we can say that this airframe taught others more about wings and high-speed flight than can be easily grasped. The Me 262s stepping stone was a monumental moment of learning for the Allies that seized it and its technology. Overnight, straight-winged jets from de Havilland, Gloster, Lockheed and others, were utterly redundant, thrown upon the dustbin of design. The Vampire might not have been rendered useless, but we can say it was of restricted ability no matter how much it was loved. De Havilland soon designed the DH 101 and the key DH 108 and then the DH 110 Vixen. Glosters, Lockheed, North American et al, all went swept-winged `overnight’. For the British, the Hawker P. 1067 Hunter became their swept-winged dream machine, despite its `borrowed’ technology.

Crescent-Shaped Planforms – The Often-Forgotten Advance

The idea of a swept-back, crescent-shaped wing was seen in the works of early pioneers, not least Weiss and Handley Page, but a reverse crescent- shaped planform wing – one where the sweep reduced towards the wingtips – was shaped in Germany and applied by the Arado company and its chief designer, Walter Blume, deputy Hans Rebeski, and the aerodynamicist Rudiger Kosin. Kosin had studied forward-sweep and varying back-sweep. Arado proposed a crescent- winged two, and then four-engined bomber with a sweepback angle of 37° on the inboard wing and two cranks to 29° and 25° towards the outboard wing section.

The benefits of the compromise of a crescent wing was the reduction in wing sweep near the wingtips and that it moved the load on the wingtips forwards of the axis of the wing and improved airflow near the tips, rather than degrading it. This also reduced unfavourable behaviour near the stall and at high Mach numbers, yet retained the advantages of sweep more generally. Tip-stalling and spinning risks at low speed were thus reduced and a better-handling machine created. The wing might have to be a bit stronger and the wingtips thinner to ensure good airflow, but the crescent wing would be lighter in construction than a delta-wing and did provide another solution to how long, thin, highly swept-wings could be made to work and to do so safely across the speed graph – not just at high velocity and high-altitude cruise. Of interest, the `kinks’ in the varying sweep of the crescent wing do not seem to produce significant localised airflow disturbances.

There is little surprise to be found in the claims by the British Handley Page company who built the superb Victor bomber with its crescent wing, that it says it started investigating the crescent wing in 1946. Yet it omits to mention that just a few months earlier, in April 1945, the British had scooped up many drawings and research data on crescent wing design from the Arado company and its aerodynamicist Kosin, in Berlin – when the Arado factory was seized by British troops and accompanying experts. By 1946, Handley Page were looking at that data, and by 1951 were proposing a crescent-winged bomber – which became the `Victor’ – also using a T-tail and wing-root buried engines.What of straighter, less swept, or even unswept-wings, surely they could not offer the aerodynamic advantages of the swept-wing? Science soon revealed that after the benefits of a swept-wing at supersonic speed, an (almost) unswept, short, low aspect ratio wing planform could, with very thin aerofoil (as thin as 3 or 4 per cent thickness/chord ratio), also offer lower supersonic drag. Such `stub’ wings stemmed in part from the short stub wing learning as applied to von Braun’s rockets. At Mach 1.5, the lowest drag came from a highly swept-wing, but the next lowest drag, could, said the experts, come from a small, unswept-wing that, instead of delaying compressibility, just `fought’ through it into the supersonic airflow advantage.

It was at approach and landing speeds that such highly swept and, also unswept but thin aerofoil section wings, became problematic – unless dangerously high, thrust and fuel-hungry landing speeds were to be used. All sorts of lift generating – yet ultimately drag and weight inducing – flaps and slats might be used. But surely the advantages of a moderately swept all-wing could solve all these conflicting themes?

In terms of the powerplant revolution, the likes of Flight, and Mr Keith-Lucas, also postulated on two themes of great note, given the date of 1952. The first was Keith-Lucas’ suggestion that swivelling engine thrust/exhaust might be used to assist landing and the second was what type of airframe might be able to house an atomic reactor powerplant? An atomic-powered aircraft would require a large deep receptacle to house the reactor – was the answer the deep-hulled flying boat with all its internal room for a massive atomic engine? Or was the more likely receptacle for an atomic powerplant the deep wing box of a massive all-wing machine?

Battleship Potemkin

By 1905 the Imperial Russian Navy was a relatively potent force, possessing a powerful battle fleet and with auxiliary squadrons disposed in the farthest dominions of the Tsar. In February 1904 the Japanese attacked the Russians in the Liaotung Peninsula where, in ports leased from the Chinese, they over-wintered their Pacific Fleet. This the Japanese swiftly defeated, and gained the ascendancy, besieging Port Arthur and compelling the Russian High Command to dispatch Admiral Rozhdestvensky’s Baltic Fleet half-way round the world to recover the initiative. Unfortunately Rozhdestvensky was annihilated off the island of Tsu Shima by Admiral Togo in May, and the resulting national humiliation further inflamed an already simmering social unrest in Russia itself.

The defeat of Rozhdestvensky’s fleet was attributed to inefficiency inherent in the privileged system over which the Tsar presided. Because of the war Russia’s finances were in a mess, and hundreds of thousands of lives had been squandered. The civil disturbances occurring throughout the country attracted a severe backlash from the representatives of autocracy, and encouraged those in Russia who sought an overthrow of the traditional and outmoded system of government, any opposition to which was pitilessly crushed. Significantly, the ranks of the navy included a large number of political activists mostly belonging to the Social Democratic Party. A substantial proportion of these were in ships belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, which had taken no part in the Russo-Japanese War and whose morale was already low in consequence of the monotony of their duties and the long periods they lay inactive at their base at Sebastopol. At the end of June the news of Tsu Shima cast a further gloom over this squadron, which was then ordered to sea for gunnery exercises.

The first ship to leave, ahead of the others though escorted by the torpedo boat N267, was the Kniaz Potemkin Tavritchesky, better known to history as the `Battleship Potemkin’. Kapitan II Ranga Evgeny Golikov headed from Sebastopol for Tendra Bay, close to the Romanian border and not far from Odessa, where he anchored his ship. On Tuesday 27 June Golikov was enjoying his lunch when he received a report from his executive officer, Kapitan III Ranga Ippolit Giliarovsky, that the men were in a mutinous mood. The political activists had been seeking a pretext to foment trouble, and it had come to hand in the form of stinking, maggot-infested meat which the men refused to eat. This had been taken on board shortly before the battleship sailed in circumstances which bred a swift-travelling rumour that the contractors were corrupt and the captain and officers had profited from the swindle.

Golikov cleared the lower deck and, having learned that the meat was certified fit for the consumption of the sailors and stokers by Surgeon Smirnov, addressed the crew. Smirnov apparently agreed that the meat had attracted the eggs of some flies, he told them but there were only on the surface and after proper cooking the meat was edible. Golikov concluded by recalling his ship’s company to their duty to the Tsar, and then dismissed them. All might have passed off peaceably, for the majority of the Potemkin’s crew were long-service men who if not docile were certainly not radicals, had not Giliarovsky recalled the muster. Golikov meanwhile had retired to his cabin, unaware that his younger second-in-command had decided to take a harsher line with the mutineers.

Giliarovsky now paraded the ship’s marines under arms, and it is alleged that he ordered a tarpaulin to be spread on the sacred planking of the quarterdeck. Neither the purpose of the tarpaulin nor indeed its actual presence is clear; the horrors of this insurrection were much embellished by the later effects of Sergei Eisenstein’s film, purporting to be documentary in intent but in fact perverse and propagandist. Whether the tarpaulin was there or not, the presence of the marines suggested to the returning seamen that bloodshed might ensue; certainly coercion seemed to be intended. Seeing only Giliarovsky and the armed marines, with no sign of their captain, the men drew the conclusion that some among their number were to be taught a lesson in the prescribed Tsarist manner.

Among them was Afanasy Matushenko, a revolutionary who had been working on a plot to suborn the entire squadron when it arrived at the anchorage. The present situation was clearly too good to waste, and Matushenko called out to the marines not to fire on their shipmates. Others, thought to have been members of Matushenko’s revolutionary cell, tried to disarm the gunners. As they surged forward, Giliarovsky allegedly compounded his high-handed stupidity by firing at one of them, Gunner Grigory Vakulenchuk, who fell mortally wounded. There followed a confused struggle in which a midshipman beside Giliarovsky was also mortally wounded, and an attempt by the gunnery officer, Lieutenant Tonn, to mediate and avert the frightful carnage that seemed about to ensue resulted in his death. With the men’s blood-lust provoked, all sense of reason vanished; revolt against generations of acquiescence, fawning and victimization spread through the Potemkin like fire. As other officers appeared they were shot at; Some who attempted to escape by jumping overboard where exposed to opportunist rifle fire. A handful was picked up by the N267 but most were massacred. Captain Golikov was apprehended and executed; Smirnov was caught in his cabin trying to kill himself. After being brutalized he was killed and thrown overboard. Lieutenant Alexeyev, the navigating officer, was found attempting to reach one of the magazines. Pleading that he was only obeying Golikov’s last orders, he begged for quarter and threw in his lot with the mutineers. He was granted his life on condition that he handle the Potemkin according to the instructions he would receive.

As Kapitan III Ranga Baron von Jurgensburg attempted to steam the N267 out of the Bay and out of range, his vessel received a shot from the Potemkin’s secondary armament. Intimidated, he brought his torpedo boat back alongside the battleship where he, his own officers and those he had rescued were secured in custody aboard the Potemkin.

The vast majority of the Potemkin’s crew had taken no part in the mutiny, though many were mute and astonished witnesses. As the situation gained momentum they stood stupefied by Matushenko’s oratory. From atop the capstan so recently vacated by Golikov, the revolutionary harangued them: they were heroes; they had lit the torch of revolution and were the first to throw off the chains of slavery. Soon they would carry the whole squadron with them, and then join their comrades ashore. It was heady and inspiriting stuff.

Matushenko was now in command, with Alexeyev ready to navigate the ship towards Odessa, a few miles along the coast, and Engineering Lieutenant Kovalenko, a Marxist sympathizer, keen to provide the motive power. At Odessa it was planned to make contact with revolutionary elements which were fomenting daily confrontations between strikers and the Tsarist forces. In addition to the police, the latter included Cossacks under General Kokhanov, the local military commander.

The arrival of the Kniaz Potemkin Tavritchesky off Odessa that evening flying the red flag encouraged the forces of reform and revolution. A student leader named Constantin Feldmann came aboard at the head of a group of ardent socialists. Learning of the death of Gunner Vakulenchuck in the night and of the desire of his shipmates to give him a suitable funeral, Feldman suggested that his body be landed as a symbolic act about which the revolution might coalesce. Most of the Potemkin’s bewildered crew merely wanted Vakulenchuk properly buried. As happened in most mutinies, once the heat of the insurrectionary moment had passed, there was a sense of rudderless impotence. If not exactly a political reaction, it was enough to persuade a disappointed Feldmann and his colleagues not to expect much from the Potemkin. The battleship’s presence offshore was stimulating enough, however, and when Vakulenchuk’s body was landed next day at the foot of the Richelieu steps it attracted sufficient popular attention to provoke Kokhanov into ordering the Cossacks to clear the crowds. Eisenstein is believed to have grossly exaggerated what followed; nevertheless few authorities entirely write off the event as anything other than `a massacre’. (In the so-called `Boston massacre’ of March 1770, be it recalled, British infantry actually killed only three and wounded two people.) Dismounting from their ponies, the Cossacks descended the wide steps firing over the heads of the assembly and then, as the populace appeared defiant, into the body of the crowd. Kokhanov claimed the dead to number 500, while the total number killed in Odessa over several days is put ten times higher.

Throughout the 28th Matushenko received demands from the shore that the revolutionaries aboard should assist the townspeople by opening fire with their guns, but he demurred. All would be well when the rest of the squadron arrived, he assured them though what exactly he meant by this he did not say. In the meantime the Potemkin had been taking coal aboard; that done, her crew had been subjected to further haranguing by Feldmann. As time passed, none of the rest of the Black Sea squadron arrived – only the solitary auxiliary Vekhia, bearing Golikov’s widow and heir. In a hiatus that day, Vakulenchuk’s body was buried by a dozen unarmed seamen, who were fired at by the Cossacks as they made their way back to the Potemkin’s boats; three of them were killed.

Matushenko’s confidence in his fellows aboard the other ships of the squadron was misplaced. At Sebastopol, in the temporary absence of the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Chukhnin, Vitse Admiral Krieger had learned of the defection of the Potemkin and ascertained the loyalty of the rest of the squadron. Ordering one ship to remain at her moorings, Kontr Admiral Vishnevetsky was to take three battleships, one cruiser and four torpedo boats to Odessa to overwhelm the mutineers, Krieger prepared to follow in his flagship, the Rostislav. Off Odessa the loss of some of the burial party focused the attention of the Potemkin’s crew on the shore. Feldmann’s blandishments were one thing, the death of their own comrades quite another. Informed that a meeting of the Tsarist military was to take place in the theatre at 19.30 that evening, the Potemkin’s secondary armament fired two blank warning shots and two live rounds. The latter landed wide and killed only more citizens; it was bathetic. Word had also arrived that the Black Sea Fleet was on its way.

Next morning Matushenko and his committee, along with Feldmann, saw the smoke of the approaching squadron. The hands were piped to their stations and the anchor was weighed. Alexeyev was ordered to head towards Vishnevetsky and the Potemkin’s guns were manned. Whether the Russian admiral doubted the temper of his men or feared the potency of Matushenko’s gunners is unclear. What is certain is that he turned away and headed for Tendra Bay `to await reinforcements’, presumably Admiral Krieger and his flagship. He earned himself a severe reprimand, but he met Krieger, who had brought another man-of-war with him in addition to the Rostislav. Forming two divisions, the Black Sea squadron next headed back towards Odessa. Here its approaching smoke signalled the end of a performance by the ship’s band on the quarterdeck of the Potemkin which, having seen off Vishnevetsky, had re-anchored off Odessa.

Once again the mutineers weighed anchor, manned their guns and steamed towards the advancing columns. Receiving a radioed demand to surrender, Matushenko told Alexeyev to maintain course and speed, sweeping aside the cruiser Kazarsky which was acting as advanced picket. What happened next was worthy of Eisenstein’s drama; the men on most of the opposing ships poured out of their gun turrets and abandoned their battle stations to cheer the Potemkin as she passed between them. Krieger, Vishnevetsky and the other captains and officers could only wring their hands in frustration. When the Potemkin had passed through the lines, Alexeyev turned her about and overtook the squadron, heading back towards Odessa. As Krieger ordered the squadron to turn away, the battleship Georgi Pobjedonosets (George the Conqueror) followed in Potemkin’s wake, anchoring in company off Odessa a little later.

Matushenko and Feldmann went aboard her only to find that the mutiny aboard the second battleship was incomplete: parts of the ship were in loyalist hands and the petty officers were resisting the demands of the revolutionaries. Feldmann talked himself hoarse convincing the waverers, and by the following dawn the revolutionary `fleet’ appeared to consist of the two battleships, the N267, the storeship Vekhia and a collier from which the Potemkin had bunkered.

This was an illusion. The following morning the Georgi Pobjedonosets was in fact uncommitted, and further attempts to suborn her failed. In the end her anchor was weighed and she headed for the inner harbour of Odessa, only to ground on a shoal, and afterwards to beg forgiveness from the Tsar. By now General Kokhanov had called up artillery and the heights above the town were invested with heavy guns. Taking the city was impossible, and with every hour that passed the men aboard the Potemkin became increasingly disillusioned. They knew what the regime would do to them if they submitted. For those in any doubt there was the example of the fate of the protesters of Bloody Sunday, who in the previous January had gone peacefully to present a petition to the Tsar at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. They had been shot down for their pains, and 130 of their number killed. While unwilling to prosecute the revolution so fervently called for by Matushenko and Feldmann, the majority knew that surrender meant death, or exile in Siberia. Not even rotten meat could persuade them to martyr themselves; instead they would head for the Romanian port of Constanza.

Hearing of Krieger’s humiliation on his return to Sebastopol, Admiral Chukhnin complained that `the sea is full of rebels’ and sanctioned Lieutenant Yanovitch’s wish to lead an attack by volunteer officers in the destroyer Stremitelny to avenge the deaths of their colleagues. Filled with zealous young bloods, the Stremitelny left after dark on 1 July but arrived off Odessa to find that the Potemkin and the N267 had slipped away some hours earlier.

On their arrival off Constanza the mutineers aboard the Potemkin appealed to the Romanian authorities for water, fuel and stores, but King Carol’s government repudiated any notion of offering them sanctuary. Disappointed, the Potemkin and the N267 put to sea again, avoiding the approaching Stremitelny and the battleships Sinop and Tri Sviatitelia, whose officers had persuaded their crews to remain loyal and do their duty.

Enclosed in a land-locked sea as she was, the Potemkin’s fate was now sealed, but Matushenko and his men were not yet ready to give up. Short of water they headed out to sea, bypassing Sebastopol and their hunters. In company with the little torpedo boat N267 they headed for Feodosia, on the far side of the Crimean peninsula from the Russian naval base. On board the daily routines went on, supervised by the petty officers, while Feldmann dreamed up revised plans for taking the revolution to the Chechens of Caucasia. When the battleship arrived off Feodosia, the ship’s ruling committee was welcomed, but only fresh water was offered them. Matushenko responded by demanding coal and food as well, or the battleship’s guns would blow the small town off the face of the globe. As the townsfolk fled to the hills Matushenko and Feldmann took a party of men to seize a coal hulk, and were fired upon by an infantry foot patrol. Three seamen were killed as the rest leapt back into the Potemkin’s picket boat and headed for their ship. Rifle-fire followed and another man was hit and fell into the water with a cry; courageously Feldmann dived after him. The picket boat steamed on, and a few minutes later a boat was pulled out from the shore to capture Feldmann and the wounded sailor.

For Matushenko and the others hell-bent on revolution the game was all but up, for now the Stremitelny arrived: failure, exile and death confronted them. Their vision of social justice was extinguished, and the Black Sea was `watered by our tears’. Only a breakdown in the Stremitelny’s steam-turbines prevented the affair ending then and there, but once again an element of farce prevailed. The Potemkin and her consort again escaped, weighing anchor and steaming away, to arrive off Constanza again on 8 July. Here the committee decided to scuttle the ship, and those of her crew who wished to do so were allowed to land, and gave themselves up to the Romanians. About five hundred were suffered to stay, and the Romanian government eventually rejected Russian attempts at extradition, on the grounds that the seamen’s act had been political, not criminal.

Some of these men found themselves caught up in a Romanian peasant revolt in 1906 and were subsequently deported to Russia, where the authorities promptly sent them into exile; some returned to Russia under an amnesty, only to find themselves tried, condemned and exiled like the others; a few emigrated to Britain and Argentina. But not all the Potemkin’s crew had followed Matushenko: about three hundred surrendered to the Russians, who almost within hours finally caught up with the Potemkin. Courts-martial condemned seven of those remaining to death; nineteen others received life sentences in Siberia, a further thirty-five long penal sentences. Incredibly, Alexeyev and the handful of surviving officers, pleading that they had been obliged to do as they were bid to save their lives, were exonerated. Feldmann later escaped from prison to Austria, and is today remembered in Odessa, where after the successful Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the Nikolaevsy Boulevard was renamed in his honour.

As for Matushenko, he evaded the Ochrana’s agents in Romania and headed for New York where he worked for some time, associating with Russian emigre radicals and caught up in revolutionary fervour. In 1907 he foolishly returned to Russia using false papers, only to be recognized, tried and hanged at Sebastopol. As for the ship whose name is better remembered than those of any of the human participants, except perhaps the `martyred’ Vakulenchuk in Russia, the tragi-farcical nature of the mutiny aboard the Kniaz Potemkin Tavritchevsky was not at an end with her scuttling. Even this was botched. By 11 July the water had been pumped out of her, she had been re-floated, and the Imperial Russian naval ensign of St Andrew’s cross was re-hoisted. Taken in tow by the Tri Sviatitelia (the Holy Trinity) she was taken back to Sebastopol, where in October she was renamed Pantelymon – meaning a peasant of the most humble stock – and remained inactive throughout the First World War. Then, in 1919, as the tide of revolution closed on the Crimea, Tsarist officers scuttled her a second time, to prevent her falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks. Her final and lasting resurrection was in 1925, when to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of what Soviet historians came to call the First Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution Sergei Eisenstein made his celebrated film of the incident, dramatizing the events in five sequences that have, like his storming of the Winter Palace, come to be regarded as reality itself.

In reality there was no stirring climax, only the end common to most mutinies – failure. Such is the power of the moving visual image, however, that the mutiny aboard the `Battleship Potemkin’ is as well-established a myth as that aboard the Bounty. Perhaps the most interesting fact about the mutiny aboard the Kniaz Potemkin Tavritchesky is that it established itself as a key event solely because it coincided with the civil unrest in Odessa, circumstantially linking mutiny with social change. What had its genesis in a specific, traditional ship-board complaint about bad food has become a defining moment in the great move for social change and the advancement of the less well-off. The first mutinies, those against Magellan and Drake, were about command, fomented among those vying for high office. Later, exemplified by the masterly revolt at Spithead, they concerned genuine grievances, only to be followed by a degenerate series of cathartic expressions of discontent, envy and malice on the path of minorities challenging an inadequate command structure backed by law and usage, neither of which proved of the slightest use when mutiny actually occurred. With the possible exception – which if anything proves the general rule – of some evidence of political agitation at the Nore, the mutiny aboard the Potemkin marks another shift in gear; it is the first mutiny to become indissolubly linked with a greater social movement and a more general aspiration for real change, as opposed to a redress of complaints.

Had not the ship anchored off Odessa, and had not the indefatigable Feldmann and his associates clambered on board full of revolutionary zeal, it is unlikely that the Potemkin mutiny would have acquired this iconic status. As was so often the case in earlier mutinies, it is clear that Matushenko and his colleagues had little idea what to do once they had seized the ship, committed murder and placed themselves outside the law. Any ray of hope that might have been kindled by the ambiguous conduct of the Black Sea squadron under Kontr Admiral Vishnevetsky soon evaporated. The indifference or confusion of the majority of the Potemkin’s crew as to what was going on suggests that in due course the affair would have fizzled out, as it did on the Georgi Pobjedonosets.

RAF Aerial Bombing and Policing the Colonies

1920s: This Bristol F2b aircraft is pictured returning from a raid on the Jelal Khel during ‘Pink’s War’ on the north-west frontier of India in 1925. The conflict was given its name after Wing Commander Richard Pink, who commanded the Royal Air Force’s air-to-ground bombardment and strafing campaign.

Aerial bombing, the dropping of bombs on ground targets by military aircraft, was one of the most significant military innovations of the 20th century and one that Britain used against both external enemies and internal rebellion within the empire. It can be used to directly support troops on the battlefield (tactical) or to destroy enemy industrial, military, and economic resources at great distances (strategic). Aerial bombing can be used to directly attack an actual enemy or to deter a potential enemy by raising the possibility of bringing destruction, as was the case during the Cold War.

The first instance of aerial bombing occurred in North Africa in 1911 when Italy fought the Ottoman Empire and attacked Ottoman strongholds in Libya. Three years later the onset of World War I created opportunities for aircraft to support military actions. By September 1914, Britain’s air arms, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, had expanded their activities from observation duties to attacking ground targets using bombs dropped from aircraft.

Bombing played an increasing part in the war effort through 1918. Tactical bombing was part of the support given to ground troops in the battles of the Somme (1916), Messines, Ypres, and Cambrai (1917), and in the final offensive beginning with the battle of Amiens (1918). In addition to tactical air support, the British worked to develop a strategic bombing program against German cities, partly as retaliation for the German zeppelin raids on London earlier in the war.

At the conclusion of the war the Royal Air Force (RAF, formed in April 1918 from the old Royal Flying Corps) justified its continued existence by developing the practice of air policing in parts of the empire. Air policing was devised as a means of keeping order in colonies and mandatory territories without deploying large ground forces. If a native tribe refused to pay its taxes or other wise defied British authority, a message would be dropped by air advising them to comply with British demands. If they did not comply, an RAF unit would fly to the area and drop bombs until they agreed to terms. Although the method was cheap and did enforce obedience, it was not effective in creating deep affection for British rule. Air policing-sometimes through bombing and sometimes merely threatening to bomb-was first employed in Mesopotamia (Iraq) after the 1920 revolt, and it was subsequently employed in Somalia, Palestine, and India. There was even a suggestion by Winston Churchill (1874-1965) that it be used against the rebels in Ireland.

Perhaps the most significant effect of the bombing component of air policing was that it shaped the thinking of what became a highly influential group of RAF officers. These men believed in the effectiveness of bombing, and their views came to dominate Britain’s defense thinking in the years between the world wars. “The bomber will always get through,” a phrase used by Britain’s prime minister, Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), in 1932 became an accepted truth. That idea, in addition to Britain’s desire to keep defense appropriations low and to be able to hit an enemy strategically from a great distance, shaped what would become Britain’s bombing offensive in World War II.

Britain’s bombing offensive in World War II was planned and conducted by the RAF’s Bomber Command, which planned and executed the bombing campaign as well as determined its objectives. Bomber Command decided upon nighttime area raids with the goal of destroying Germany’s industrial capabilities and demoralizing the civilian population. The main targets were the industrial centers in the Ruhr Valley as well as cities such as Hamburg, Dresden, and Berlin. Bomber Command was also used in early 1944 to provide tactical support prior to the Normandy invasion. The aerial bombing campaign was a major component of Britain’s offensive in Eu rope, but it was not without controversy. Bomber Command aircrews suffered nearly 60 percent casualties (killed, wounded, and captured). At the same time, although the campaign did demonstrably hurt the German industrial effort, the extent to which it did so has never been agreed upon. Similarly, despite hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths the bombing of Germany failed to destroy civilian morale, just as the German bombing of Britain had failed to break civilian resolve earlier in the war.

Aerial bombing continued to be a British military practice after World War II, but there were some changes. The RAF, while no longer relying on fleets of bombers, maintained the ability to drop nuclear bombs in the event of a major war with the Soviet Union. That role was eventually taken from the RAF when, in 1968, Royal Navy missile submarines were designated to deliver nuclear weapons in the event of a war. However, the RAF and planes from the Royal Navy continued to use tactical bombing throughout the postwar period and into the 21st century. RAF and Royal Navy units dropped bombs in support of ground troops during the Korean War (1950-1953), the Falklands War (1982), the Persian Gulf Wars (1991 and 2003 to present), and in Afghanistan (2002-2014). Bombing was also used (though on a limited scale) to keep order in Malaya against communist rebels and against the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya.

Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force is the air arm of the British military. Founded during World War I, it played an important role in policing colonies and suppressing in de pendence movements in the 20th- century British Empire.

Heavier- than- air flight was only 11 years old when, in 1914, World War I began. At first aircraft were used to observe enemy troops and find targets. These aircraft needed protection, so fighter planes were developed to protect them. As the war progressed bombers were introduced to strike at both military and civilian targets. At the height of the war, in 1917, a commission made recommendations about the best way to use Britain’s aerial force. As a result of those recommendations, a separate armed force, in de pen dent of both Navy and Army, was created: the Royal Naval Air Ser vice was separated from the Royal Navy and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) from the Army to form the Royal Air Force (RAF).

With the end of World War I there was concern within the RAF that its existence could come to an end by its being drawn back into the older ser vices. At this point a new military mission was created that, along with an accompanying civil administration role, guaranteed that the RAF would survive.

Britain’s empire in 1919 included both outright possessions and League of Nations Mandates. The empire was at its greatest extent, and Britain, burdened with war debt, was seeking a cheap way to maintain order in its possessions. The RAF carved out a role for itself by offering an inexpensive regime of air policing and territorial administration- first in Mesopotamia (Iraq), now a League of Nations Mandate, and subsequently in Somalia, Afghanistan, India’s Northwest Frontier, and Palestine. There was also a proposal, ultimately discarded, to employ the same means to keep the peace in Ireland.

The RAF, in common with the other British armed forces, faced serious budget cuts in the 1920s and 1930s. But as military planners began preparing for another European war they came to see aerial bombing as not only a potentially decisive strategic weapon but also one that would be cost effective. Thus, the RAF could be a significant strategic force that would not require the huge outlay in funds required by the army or navy. Such calculations helped to secure the RAF’s existence.

Fortunately for the RAF, and for Britain, peacetime bud get constraints did not prevent the development of aircraft that would eventually have a significant impact on the war. When World War II broke out in September 1939, the RAF expanded quickly. A large part of its successful expansion was its incorporation of segments of Commonwealth air forces such as the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. Additional pi lots and support personnel came from the nations conquered by the Germans, including members of the French, Belgian, Norwegian, Polish, and Czechoslovak air forces.

After the German conquest of France, the RAF was the only means of defense against the German aerial offensive of 1940, known as the Battle of Britain. Simultaneously, the RAF began to launch a bombing campaign that eventually grew to missions with 1,000 aircraft. In the later stages of the war the RAF pursued a campaign of area bombing at night. Although the destruction inflicted by these raids was significant, especially those on Hamburg and Dresden, the effort has been criticized since the end of the war as not having been a critical factor in damaging German war production. Elsewhere RAF units were deployed in North Africa, Italy, and Asia (principally Burma).

With the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, the RAF’s objectives changed to the Pacific. The RAF organized what was known the Tiger Force, to be based on the island of Okinawa, which would have conducted massive air raids against Japanese cities. The Japanese surrender brought an end to that plan, however.

The RAF now reduced its numbers, but it continued to have a major role in the defense of Britain and its now shrinking empire. From 1947 to 1968 the RAF had the responsibility of delivering Britain’s nuclear capability in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. After 1968 the strategic nuclear role shifted to the Royal Navy’s missile submarines, although the RAF continued its tactical nuclear capability to support NATO ground troops.

Within the empire, the RAF played a significant role in suppressing the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya from 1952 to 1960 and combating Communist guerrillas in Malaya from 1947 to 1960. Elsewhere, the RAF participated in the Korean War under the auspices of the United Nations and supported French and British ground forces during the 1956 Suez Crisis. From 1945 to 1967 the RAF maintained an air base in Aden on the Arabian Peninsula and supported British Army operations in that area. In 1982 the RAF was among the British forces that recaptured the Falkland Islands from Argentina. The RAF participated in NATO exercises in the 1950s through the 1990s and was deployed to the Persian Gulf in the first and second Gulf Wars and in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Imperial Policing in the Interwar Era I

Imperial Policing in the Interwar Era II

Federation of Malayan Police officers question a civilian during the Malayan Emergency.

Imperial Policing

Imperial policing had little to do with policing as it is now generally understood in the Western world. The task assigned to colonial policemen was essentially to impose and maintain foreign rule over the peoples of the empire, with the aim of protecting the metropole’s interests at home and abroad. This generally involved, potentially or actually, a great deal of forcible compulsion. Colonial constables were “civil soldiers,” state agents of socioracial control who enforced Western modes of behavior and belief on imperial subjects.

Policemen were distinguished from other state servants by their authorized capacity to coerce civilians. But in England, from 1829 onward, they increasingly sought acceptance from the populace. Under this “new police” ethos- policing by consent- constables in England were supposed to protect rather than oppress the public. Focusing on suppressing behavior deemed to be antisocial, and basing their methods on intensely scrutinizing society, they sought primarily to prevent crimes, with detection of offenders as a backup. When it was necessary to detain or coerce, they were expected to use minimal force. The aim was to attain a society in which most people policed themselves, at least most of the time; state discipline would need to be applied only to recalcitrant individuals rather than to collectivities.

This desired state of affairs, consent- based state policing coupled with mass self- policing, was also an ultimate aim in colonies. But it was predicated on a high degree of acceptance of authority, which was not forthcoming. Since colonial authorities sought to exploit indigenous human and natural resources, popular resistance to them was endemic (although aspects of Western culture were welcomed by indigenes able to access them). Colonized peoples were in turn subject to suppression, repression, and often violent mass disciplining. In such circumstances, the precepts of the “new police” that had been put in place in Britain could generally only remain a distant aspiration in the colonies.

In most colonies, most of the time, the policing function was akin to military control (and indeed sometimes carried out by or with soldiers). The main exception was in colonies of settlement where English policing precepts were increasingly adopted as the frontier retreated. Even here, however, police forces retained a highly coercive capacity in case further “pacification” of indigenes or others was needed. And although public order had generally improved by the early 20th century, this was both relative and uneven between (and often within) colonies. Improvement could also turn out to be temporary. Indeed, after World War II, conflict- based policing often intensified amid escalating challenges to the state from movements demanding decolonization.

The ethos of colonial policing was, therefore, by the very nature of imperial occupation, different from the consent- based aims first developed in the London Metropolitan Police. Rather, it reflected (and was often guided by) policing in the closest “colony” to Britain, Ireland. Although all policemen had the power to compel and coerce, those of the (Royal) Irish Constabulary (RIC) were far more overtly coercive than their English counter parts, tasked as they were with controlling a people generally hostile to British occupation. Colonial practices not only reflected the Irish system, but often exceeded it in their violence- a product of the magnitude of the task of occupying territories and containing their peoples.

There were, however, many characteristics shared by the English and Irish/colonial policing models (including the ultimate aim of securing a society characterized by peace and good order), and the boundaries between them were porous. In particular, both systems were based on patrols conducting in- depth surveillance of the population and, when necessary, compelling obedience. The rank- and- file constables in both models were, moreover, of humble origin- not only cheaper and easier to train, but also steeped in knowledge of the behaviors and beliefs of those sections of society upon which the police most focused.

But there were major differences in operational principle between the models. The organization, ethos, and operations of the Irish/colonial police were paramilitary (sometimes military) in nature. By contrast, the English system increasingly adopted a “like policing like” approach, with constables operating within, and with the general support of, their communities. Although most higher-ranking colonial policemen were British, the great majority of rank- and- file policemen were indigenous, and in that sense might be said to fit the “like policing like” category. But essentially, colonial patrolmen were instead characterized by the “stranger policing stranger” principle. They were recruited from outside the communities they policed, a policy based on outsiders being generally far more prepared than insiders to exercise harsh discipline on those around them. Stranger- constables generally lived in fortified barracks, patrolled in heavily armed groups, and were highly disciplined, ready to obey orders and inflict violence without hesitation. Colonial patrols would commonly descend on tribes defying the authorities, laying waste to their villages and maiming and killing. Drawn from other communities, tribes, peoples, or colonies, they might well be unable to speak the language of those they disciplined.

Colonial policing was a blunt instrument of social and racial control, often paying little regard to the law, let alone to ” human rights.” Insofar as it was involved in crime control, this was crime as defined by colonial authorities and systems. These were generally flexible in allowing police (and judiciary) to suppress any activity deemed to be against the interests of state security and colonial order. Many of the colonial state’s disciplinary actions, in any case, were conducted with little or no reference to the formal laws, of which the (sometimes illiterate) constables knew little. They had a job to do, one which by its very nature was often performed with force and brutality; violence was endemic in colonial policing.