FRANÇOIS DARLAN, (1881-1942), French admiral.


Jean-François Darlan, Admiral of the Fleet, a title he had ordered put back into use for himself and which has never been used since, remains a very controversial figure. Different historians have attributed contradictory and dubious intentions to him, so one must turn to the facts instead. As a member of a navy family that had dabbled in politics (his father had been a deputy for Lot-et-Garonne and minister of justice from 1896 to 1897), he joined the navy as well but saw little action, at least at sea. During World War I he almost always fought on land, and in the years that followed was often a state minister. He had a reputation for leaning toward the Left, which was rare in the navy, and it was Léon Blum who appointed him Admiral Chief of Staff in 1937. He is a bit excessively glorified as the creator of the large fleet France possessed at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The ill winds of the day worked against anything more than its limited use in combat, however. A portion of the fleet was destroyed in the raid on Mers El-Kebir in July 1940 by the British, who were afraid it would fall into the hands of the Germans. The majority of the fleet, however, was scuttled in the port of Toulon in November 1942, when the Germans invaded the “Free Zone.”

Admiral Darlan was a high-profile figure under the collaborationist Vichy government. He had been tapped as minister of the navy by Marshal Philippe Pétain on 16 June 1940, during the last government of the Third Republic. But it was only after the 1940 defeat that he acceded to the highest ranks. An Anglophobe, as French sailors traditionally were, especially after the events at Mers El- Kebir, he quickly became convinced of the need to collaborate with Germany, whose victory appeared certain. His position was in fact very close to that of Pierre Laval, and when a plot was hatched in December 1940 to supplant Pétain’s second-in-command, who held the real reins of power, Darlan replaced him as deputy prime minister and designated successor. Although some said Darlan privately had reservations about the National Revolution, in practice he was a fervent supporter, and it was during his government that a whole series of its measures were taken, including the creation of the General Committee on the Jewish Question, the passage of the second set of anti-Semitic laws, the special tribunals for judging members of the Resistance, and the Work Charter. Above all, it was during Darlan’s tenure that a marked increase in collaboration with the Germans occurred. In the hope of forging a political accord, to which the Germans had no intention of agreeing, Darlan offered military cooperation, which included giving the Germans access to airfields in Syria and the ports of Bizerte and Dakar. As events unfolded after the Soviet Union and the United States entered the war, however, these attempts failed to gain concessions from the Germans, who feared Admiral Darlan would change sides and whom they felt was not the man they needed. They reinstated Laval to his position of power in April 1942, though Darlan remained commander of the army.

His fate was determined somewhat by chance, since he happened to find himself in Algiers during the Anglo-American landing in North Africa in November 1942. It was an opportunity for him to switch sides-he intended to maintain a Vichy-style regime while at the same time rallying the leaders of the colonial territories, as well as other exiled French forces to the Allied cause, even though he had recently ordered those forces to fire on the Allies. He was engaged in a highly complex and ambiguous game, virulently opposed by the Gaullists, when he was assassinated by Bonnier de la Chapelle, a young member of the Resistance with monarchist tendencies. Was this an isolated act or the result of a conspiracy? The truth will never be known, given the local authorities’ evident haste to execute the admiral’s murderer by firing squad. In continental France, the public was not fooled-Darlan, too visible to be able to switch sides at the necessary moment as others managed to do, was a Vichyist and a collaborator who had been executed for his acts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Couteau-Be’garie, Herve’, et C. Huan. Darlan. Paris, 1989. Paxton, Robert. “Un amiral entre deux blocs.” Vingtie`me sie`cle, revue d’Histoire (October-December 1992): 3-19. Sirinelli, Jean-Franc, ois, ed. Dictionnaire historique de la vie politique franc, aise au XXe sie`cle. Paris, 1995.

Hô Chí Minh Campaign (April 1975)




On 25 March the Politburo in Hà Nôi revised its timetable for ending the war, deciding that Sài Gòn should be taken before the beginning of the mid-May rainy season. Dung asked permission to call this the Hô Chí Minh Campaign, in the hope of achieving victory before Hô’s 19 May birthday anniversary, and the Politburo agreed.

In early April 200,000 Communist troops in 173 regiments had overrun two-thirds of South Vietnam. Communist forces now greatly outnumbered those of ARVN, and by mid-month nine Communist divisions converged on Sài Gòn. To defend the capital, Thiêu had only the three divisions assigned to III Corps (the 5th, 18th and 25th), a reconstituted division from Military Region II (the 22nd), and what remained of the armour brigade, the Marine division, the Airborne division, and a few Ranger groups.

The only major ARVN stand during the Communist offensive occurred at Xuân Lôc, capital of Long Khánh Province. Located on Route 1 just east of the junction with Route 20 and some 40 miles northeast of Sài Gòn, Xuân Lôc was strategically important to the RVN capital’s defence. The city was defended by Brigadier General Lê Minh Ðao’s 18th Division. On 9 April, following a 4,000-round artillery and rocket barrage, three PAVN divisions (the 6th, 7th and 341st) attacked Xuân Lôc, now isolated because the Communists had cut Route 1.

VNAF A-1 Skyraiders and F-5 fighter-bombers struck the PAVN attackers and ARVN armoured columns attempted to push through PAVN roadblocks on Route 1. A brigade of the 1st Airborne Division arrived by helicopter, but PAVN troops pinned it down at its landing zone east of the city. Meanwhile the PAVN force continued to grow. On 14 April PAVN 130mm heavy guns pounded Biên Hòa Air Base for the first time in the war. On the 15th Communist sappers blew up the base’s ammunition dump. The next day PAVN 130mm shells damaged 20 aircraft on the ground, which effectively ended air support for Xuân Lôc. Although they were heavily outnumbered and the outcome of the battle was certain, Ðao’s troops fought on courageously in what was probably the most heroic stand of any ARVN division of the war. They destroyed 37 PAVN tanks and killed over 5,000 PAVN troops.

At Xuân Lôc the VNAF employed 750-pound CBU-55 cluster bombs and 15,000-pound “Daisy Cutter” bombs. On the 21st a VNAF C-130 dropped a CBU-55 “fuel bomb”, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. This was the first time the weapon had ever been employed. It consumed the oxygen over a two-acre area and killed more than 250 PAVN troops.

In the battle more than 7,500 ARVN soldiers died or were wounded. On the 23rd the remaining ARVN defenders and PF and RF elements conducted a well-executed retreat south from Xuân Lôc.

Sài Gòn, meanwhile, was in turmoil. US evacuation flights began removing key Vietnamese officials and dependents. On 8 April VNAF pilot Lieutenant Nguyên Thành Trung dropped two bombs from his F-5 on the presidential palace and then defected. President Thiêu was unhurt, but General Dung immediately ordered Trung sent to Ðà Nang to help train North Vietnamese MiG pilots to fly captured VNAF A-37 and F-5 jets.

The US evacuation of Cambodia on 12 April reinforced Hà Nôi’s assessment that Washington would not intervene to prevent the collapse of the RVN, although some Sài Gòn officials refused to believe they would be abandoned. Even the loss of Military Regions I and II did not dissuade many US officials in South Vietnam from acting as if the Sài Gòn government could at least bring off a negotiated settlement.

On 21 April President Thiêu resigned in favour of Vice President Trân Van Húóng. In a televised farewell address he lied when he stated, “What happened in the highlands was the decision of leaders in Military Region II”. He blamed Washington for forcing Sài Gòn to sign the Paris Accords, for failing to replace military equipment lost after the US withdrawal and for its refusal to honour its pledges to come to the aid of South Vietnam. Despite Thiêu’s speech on the 21st, or perhaps because of it, he lingered on in the capital until flying out on the 26th.

Dung did not halt the PAVN offensive. He assembled 130,000 troops in 18 divisions for the final assault on Sài Gòn, which began on the 26th. Early the next morning four rockets hit the city, killing ten people, injuring 200 and leaving 5,000 homeless. In a fierce tank battle PAVN forces took Long Thành, which was located on Route 15 to Vung Tau on the coast. On 28 April President Húóng resigned in favour of Dúóng Van Minh, who had helped overthrow President Diêm in 1963. Minh called for an immediate cease-fire and the opening of peace negotiations, but the PRG rejected this. That same day five captured A-37 jets led by Lieutenant Trung flew from Phan Rang to attack Tân Són Nhút. The raid destroyed seven planes. It was the only Communist air strike in South Vietnam during the entire war, but it helped bring about the final surrender of Sài Gòn.

At the end of March 7,500 Americans remained in the RVN. On 16 April President Ford had ordered all “unneeded” Americans to leave. The PRG announced it would impose no obstacles to this. A greater issue was some 50,000 “high risk” Vietnamese who had co-operated with the Americans. Many of them now began to depart. On the 27th the RVN stopped issuing exit visas, although this did not prevent many high-ranking RVN officials from departing the next day.

The air attack of the 28th and a rocket barrage on Tân Són Nhút the next day finally convinced US Ambassador Graham Martin to order a full evacuation. Fearing its negative impact on morale, he waited until the 29th. The operation (Frequent Wind) took place in chaotic circumstances as 81 helicopters and a thousand US Marines evacuated 395 Americans and 4,475 Vietnamese. Only a minority of Vietnamese thought to be at risk were evacuated by helicopter or managed to escape by other means. Forty US Navy ships off shore did rescue a large number of refugees fleeing by boat from Vung Tàu under artillery fire.

ARVN units around the Sài Gòn perimeter came under heavy PAVN attack on 29 April and ceased their resistance the next day when elements of General Dung’s force walked unopposed into the centre of the city. At noon on 30 April a PAVN tank crashed through the gate of the presidential palace. The Republic of Vietnam had come to an end. Some ARVN forces held out in the Central Highlands and Mekong Delta for a time, but for all intents and purposes the Third Vietnam War was over.

Although the United States had extracted its own personnel, it left behind in South Vietnam a vast military stockpile. The PAVN now seized from the RVNAF 467 aircraft, 466 helicopters, 80 self-propelled guns, 1,250 105mm and 155mm howitzers, 3,300 armoured personnel carriers, 400 tanks, 42,000 trucks, 47,000 grenade launchers, 63,000 light anti-tank weapons, 15,000 machine guns, 12,000 mortars, 791,000 M16 rifles and 857 other small arms, 90,000 pistols, 940 ships (mostly landing craft) and 130,000 tons of ammunition. In the years to come the Vietnamese government sold much of this abroad to gain hard currency.

The Bolsheviks’ new army


The Bolsheviks’ new army, which they called the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (Raboche Krest’ianskaia Krasnaia Armiia, RKKA) did, surprisingly enough, start out nearly as Lenin had envisioned. Based on Red Guard detachments the Bolsheviks’ first military force was completely voluntary, drawn from the working class, and determined to defend the revolution. It soon became apparent to even the most idealistic of revolutionaries, however, that groupings of Red Guards did not constitute an army. The civilian leadership also quickly realized that the tasks at hand, such as preserving an empire threatened by independence movements and defending their fledgling Bolshevik government from a counterrevolutionary civil war and foreign intervention, required a real army and all it entailed. In March 1918 Lenin assigned Leon Trotsky the task of creating a true army.

Trotsky wisely dropped most of his Marxist utopian preconceptions of what an army ought to look like and immediately began forming an army along traditional lines. This included creation of a hierarchy of officers and enlisted men and provisions for military discipline and organization. Initially recruitment was limited to the working class, but this soon proved to be inadequate and the gates were flung open to all comers except rich peasants, the clergy, bourgeoisie and, with exceptions, the nobility. Manning the army on a voluntary basis also went by the wayside rather quickly; the regime instituted conscription early in 1918. The most controversial aspect of Trotsky’s new army was his reliance on former tsarist officers to train and even lead units of the Red Army. Such dependence on the avowed class enemy was anathema to the average Bolshevik and caused considerable turmoil in the party. This army, which swelled to nearly five million men at its peak, successfully fought a civil war preserving Bolshevik dominance, though it failed to restore Russia’s pre-1914 borders.

Demobilization of the Red Army began in late 1920 and the debate resumed on the form the peacetime armed force would take. Once again Marxist idealists resurrected the idea of a citizens’ army but were now challenged by those Bolsheviks desiring a professional standing army. A compromise resulted. In 1921, the party accepted the need for a standing army but insisted that the bulk of the country’s military force would be its reserve, the citizen army. The compromise was viewed differently by the two opposing camps: the socialist idealists accepted the standing army as a temporary but necessary evil, expecting that once the conditions for true socialism were achieved the standing army would be done away with. Those in favor of a large and permanent standing army accepted the small active army and large territorial militia as a temporary expedient that would eventually result in a large standing army and small reserve once the economy became strong enough to support it.

The Communist Party still insisted that the standing army reflect the revolutionary ideals that guided the party’s transformation of civilian society. It would not be a replica of the old tsarist army. The political and military leadership, despite their abandonment of a fundamental tenet of socialist philosophy, honestly attempted to create an army of a new type in officer-enlisted relations, discipline, war-making doctrine, and quality of life in contrast to the Imperial Russian Army. The regime believed their army could be a tool of social transformation for the masses. Some military theorists even believed that socialism would be the basis of a new method of warfare. Ultimately the idealism waned, and by 1941 the Red Army in many ways, both intentionally and unintentionally, resembled the reviled and much maligned imperial army. Between 1945 and 1991 the Red Army completely fell away in practice from its founding revolutionary vision and resembled the tsarist army of the nineteenth century more than it did the Soviet Army of the 1920s. The process of this transition and the attendant ramifications are major themes of this book.

The early history of the Red Army is the story of the Soviet regime’s attempts to create an army that not only treated its soldiers well, but also tried to elevate their consciousness. It is the story of perhaps the world’s first political army in the sense that the military leadership of the Red Army shared decision-making responsibility with a political party. The Communist Party’s values became so intertwined with those of the military that the two became virtually indistinguishable. This union of party and army seemed logical and necessary to the party and was never seriously challenged by the army, yet proved to be the source of some of the weakness of the armed forces.

The Second World War shows the Red Army at both its nadir and pinnacle of effectiveness. The war began with the catastrophe of German invasion and ended with the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe. In between, the army reverted to many Civil War practices that proved costly in lives but also developed new methods of manning that promoted cohesion and morale. The leadership of the army matured under fire ultimately rising to the occasion. Soviet society temporarily became wedded to the army in the way Lenin envisioned in 1917, and the army temporarily became a trusted and respected institution by most.

Panavia Tornado





The Tornado is possibly the most flexible multimission aircraft in history. Designed as a strike aircraft, it can also perform air-defense, antishipping, and reconnaissance missions with ease.

In the late 1960s Germany, Italy, and Great Britain joined hands to design a basic ground-attack aircraft that would be built and deployed by all three nations. The new machine would have to operate from short runways, deliver ordnance with pinpoint accuracy, and operate in any weather conditions. It would also be optimized for high-speed/low-level operations that are highly taxing to both crew and airframe alike. After extensive studies, the prototype Panavia Tornado IDS was flown in 1974. It was a compact yet highly complicated aircraft, the first European production design to employ variable-geometry wings. The wings are extremely complicated and designed around a number of high-lift technologies that enable it to become airborne quickly. The craft is characterized by a somewhat short, pointed nose, a long canopy seating two crew members, and a very tall stabilizer. Internally, the Tornado utilizes advanced fly-by-wire technology, as well as highly sophisticated navigation/attack radar that combines search, ground-mapping, and terrain-following capabilities. Around 900 Tornados have been built and acquired by the manufacturing nations since 1980. Several dozen have also been exported to Saudi Arabia.

In 1976 Great Britain wanted to develop an airdefense version on its own accord to replace the aging inventory of English Electric Lightnings and McDonnell-Douglas Phantoms. It desired a fast, flexible interceptor to protect NATO’s northern and western approaches. The new Tornado ADV rolled out in 1976 and is distinguished from the IDS variant by a lengthened nose. It houses the advanced Foxhound radar system, which can track up to 20 targets simultaneously at ranges up to 100 miles. The Royal Air Force currently operates 144 Tornado ADVs, and several have been exported to Saudi Arabia. Both versions saw active duty in the 1991 Gulf War and sustained the heaviest losses of any Allied type. They will continue to serve well into the twenty-first century.



Panavia Tornado GR4

The Tornado GR4 is the latest version of the RAF’s primary attack aircraft. Capable of supersonic speeds and flight at low-level, the aircraft is one of the most potent in the world today.

First deliveries to the RAF of the original GR1 version were made in 1980 where it replaced a number of older RAF aircraft including the Buccaneer and Vulcan as low-level attack aircraft. A major feature is the Tornado’s ‘swing wings’ (or ‘variable geometry’ to give it its correct title). With the wings swept fully forward, the aircraft can fly very slowly – ideal for landing on short, unprepared runways. With the wings swept to their full 68°, the aircraft can fly supersonically, whilst at the intermediate position the manoeuvrability is greatly increased – useful should the aircraft need to undertake rapid action during an attack. Another innovative feature of the Tornado is the ability to use thrust-reverse to shorten landings.

A programme to update many of the Tornado’s weapons and navigation systems was completed in 2003 and these updated aircraft are known as Tornado GR4s. As well as the existing weapons carried by Tornados (such as the Paveway family of laser- and GPS-guided bombs and the ALARM anti-radar missile) a number of new weapons can now be used. These include the Storm Shadow stand-off (or ‘cruise’) missile and the RAPTOR reconnaissance pod – both of which were used for the first time during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and the forthcoming Brimstone anti-tank missile. Other improvements include GPS navigation and changes to the cockpit to allow the use of night-vision goggles.

A reconnaissance version of the Tornado GR4, the GR4A, is in service with the RAF.


Air Interdiction (AI). Low- or medium-level attacks using precision-guided, freefall or retarded bombs.

Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD – pronounced ‘see-add’). Attacks on enemy air defence systems such as surface-to-air missile positions with ALARM missiles.

Reconnaissance (using an externally mounted pod).


One Mauser 27mm cannon and up to 18,000lb of ordnance. Available weapons include Paveway 2 or 3 laser-guided bombs, ballistic or retarded “dumb” 1000lb bombs, Cluster Bomb Units (CBU), Storm Shadow cruise missiles, Brimstone anti-tank missiles, Air Launched Anti-Radiation Missile (ALARM) anti-radar missiles. For self-defence, Sidewinder missiles are carried.

GR4 Specifications


Two Turbo-Union RB199s


54ft 10in (16.70m)


45ft 7in (13.90m) at 17° sweep; 28ft 2in (8.60m) at 68° sweep

Top Speed:

1,452mph (2,336km/h, Mach 2.2) at 36,000ft (11,000m); 710mph (1,140km/h) at sea-level


Pilot and Weapons Systems Operator

Operation ‘Steinbock’


This aviation art print by Mark Postlethwaite depicts Heinkel He 177s of KG40 preparing for an operation over England during Operation Steinbock in early 1944.

The highly optimistic aim of ‘Steinbock’ was to avenge the so-called RAF terror attacks on German cities. As the Baedeker raids had failed to do this, the reasoning was that more force was needed. This was of course to completely ignore the fact that whatever the Luftwaffe could do, the combined bomber forces of the RAF and USAAF could pay them back one hundredfold. It also presupposed that the effete citizenry of England could sustain far less bombardment than the sturdy National Socialists of the Third Reich without revolting against the government.

Actually, Goering had a point. A ruthless and authoritarian dictatorship, backed by the Gestapo with its pervasive network of informers, was far better equipped to hold its citizens in subjugation than was any democratic government, even with the constraints of war. In more recent times, this was underlined by the Gulf War of 1991, when Saddam Hussein retained control of Iraq despite a massive military defeat. However, friend Hermann reckoned without the British national trait which is at once their greatest strength and their greatest weakness-they are stubborn!

For ‘Steinbock’, the offensive strength of Luftflotte 3 was more than doubled. Gruppen were transferred from other theatres in conditions of great secrecy, while units already in place flew little. In consequence, serviceability was exceptionally high at the start of the campaign, whereas the norm was little more than 50 per cent.

In order to maximise the damage, the largest bombs available to the Luftwaffe, of 2,500kg, were to be used while stocks lasted, and smaller bombs used only to bring the bomb load up to the maximum. These were to be filled with the extremely powerful, if sensitive, ‘England Mixture’, consisting of Hexogen and Trialen. For fire-raising, the new AB 1000 container was used. This held up to 620 1kg incendiary bombs, dispensing them at intervals to spread them evenly over a large area.

The lack of navigational and bombing accuracy demonstrated in many of the Baedeker Raids was unaffordable. To improve matters, the Pathfinder Gruppe I/KG 66 was equipped with Egon, a new system similar in concept to the British Oboe. The bomber, tracked by ground radar, flew a curving course at high altitude a constant distance to it. A second ground radar measured the range to the bomber and signalled the bomb release point. The maximum range of this system was about 275km, and the maximum obtainable accuracy about 200m, although this last was difficult to attain under operational conditions. A second gadget was Truhe, which aided navigation by monitoring signals from the British Gee navigational system. Knickebein and Y-Gerät were also used, in a hopeful attempt to conceal the new systems.

The first ‘Steinbock’ raid took place on 21 January 1944, with 227 bombers. No longer was the ‘Crocodile’ used: the main force assembled into compact gaggles, crossing the coast of England between Hastings and Folkestone, and set course for London. As the bombers came within range of British radar they started to drop clouds of Düppel. Ahead of them were the Pathfinders of I/KG 66, which, as they approached the city, dropped a string of white flares to indicate the correct course for the main force. The target area, with Waterloo Station at its centre, was then marked with green and white flares. The main force bombed, then escaped eastwards towards the North Sea. Returning to base, they refuelled and rearmed, then, minus seven of their original number, set out once more for the capital.

A raid of 447 sorties on the same night sounds impressive, but in fact little damage was done. Most bombs fell well outside the London area, with Kent getting more than its fair share, presumably on the approach. This appears to indicate poorly trained bomber crews and inadequate target-marking.

Despite the extensive use of Düppel, losses were heavy. British fighters and anti-aircraft guns accounted for 25 bombers, while another eighteen were lost for operational reasons, amounting to nearly 19 per cent of the aircraft taking part. At this rate, the ‘Steinbock’ force would quickly have bled to death. Never again was a double raid mounted.

A raid by 285 bombers on 29 January caused considerably more damage, starting many fires, for fourteen losses-a more acceptable attrition rate. By then, however, the Allied landing at Anzio in Italy had caused four Gruppen of bombers, three of Ju 88s and one of He 177s to be transferred to the Mediterranean. This was a serious loss of strength.

Nine raids were made on London during February. The first four were largely ineffective but the remainder were fairly concentrated. A change in tactics became apparent. No longer did the bombers head straight for the target area; instead they flew past London, on at least one occasion as far as High Wycombe. This may have been an attempt to mislead the defenders as to the real target. The turning point was marked by red and white flares and the main force then headed back for London at full throttle in a shallow dive.

High above the capital, at 9,000m, a Ju 88S of I/KG 66 released eighteen red marker bombs on Westminster. The main force bombers swept in at high speed, bombed, then headed towards the coast while continuing to descend. This high-speed escape made life very difficult for the RAF night fighters, but they still managed to inflict a high toll. In all, 72 bombers were lost during the month.

The pattern was broken during March when four raids on London were followed by attacks on Bristol, Hull and Portsmouth. Then, on 18/19 April, came the last manned raid of the war on London. In a terribly unfortunate incident, North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton was hit by five high explosive bombs. The nurse’s quarters were hit, the ward above the children’s ward was set on fire and the x-ray rooms were destroyed. Nineteen people were killed, including several nurses, and 86 were injured. Many of the victims were trapped in the rubble for several hours.

The next attack came on 30 April, when 101 aircraft raided Plymouth. They included a dozen Do 217s of III/KG 100, carrying the Fritz X guided bomb. Their main target was the battleship King George V, but this was obscured by the harbour smokescreen. Little damage was caused, for the loss of three bombers, two of them missile-carrying Dorniers. ‘Steinbock’ finally fizzled out in May. On 14 May 91 bombers raided Bristol but only succeeded in landing three tonnes of bombs on the city, losing six bombers in the process. A few attacks were made on the invasion ports, but to little effect. The campaign had, like the Baedeker Raids, been an almost total failure, with more than 300 bombers lost for little result, apart from tying down a considerable amount of defensive resources.


Serious attempts to streamline production and to adapt it to Germany’s deteriorating war situation were made in the production plans prepared under the impression of increased strategic bombing on 8 August 1943 (no. 223/1) and 1 October 1943 (no. 224/1). In these plans the focal point shifted heavily towards increased fighter production, while bomber production rate was kept at its current level. This shift was advocated by Milch, who was well aware of the status of Germany’s battered air defenses and of the need to regain air superiority in order to avert military defeat. At that time Hitler also pressed for type reduction. In September 1943, probably following the aforementioned meeting with Messerschmitt, he asked Speer to convince Göring and Milch that fewer aircraft types should be produced. Production plan 224/1, submitted after Hitler’s meeting with Speer, projected a monthly output of 3,327 single-engine fighters and 577 twin-engine fighters by July 1944. This plan set the goals for the 1944 production rate, but production plan 225/1, published in December 1943, was less ambitious and more balanced. Upon Hitler’s request the production figures of fighters were somewhat reduced in order to enable production of the massive He 177 bomber. Göring also pressed for increased bomber production in order to strengthen his bomber arm for the expected resumption of the night bombing campaign against England. This campaign started on the night of 21-22 January 1944 under the codename “Steinbock,” when 447 bombers attacked London. The attacks continued with an ever-decreasing force until May. Not much was achieved, because the attacks were not concentrated and the attackers suffered grave losses. This so-called Little Blitz practically finished off the Luftwaffe’s long-range bomber force and thus wasted most of the increased bomber output demanded by Hitler.

Since production plan 225/1 (December 1943) was the last formal production program published until July 1944, it was supposed to represent aircraft production for most of 1944, including a fairly large number of bombers, which proved to be completely ineffective during the “Little Blitz.” However, events unfolding in the following months dictated a sharp deviation from this plan towards vastly increased fighter production. This shift of policy happened in spite of Hitler’s repeated demands to continue bomber production. Yielding somewhat to this pressure, the Jägerstab approved in early March 1944 reduced bomber production regardless of the decision to concentrate all efforts on fighter production. It also decided to equip 30 percent of the He 177 bombers with modern guided bombs and aerial torpedoes in order to improve their operational capabilities. Even in April 1944, when Saur submitted a revised production plan that included no bombers, Hitler demanded to continue production of the same troubled He 177. The German navy also expressed interest in the aircraft as a long-range maritime reconnaissance platform to support the new submarine offensive it hoped to start in 1944-45 with its revolutionary new submarines. In late May and early June, plans were made to produce the aircraft in a new forest factory in Eger, Czechoslovakia, in order to free German capacity for fighter production. All these meddling explains why quite large numbers of this costly and ineffective aircraft were produced in 1944. Hitler finally declared the He 177 “vollkommen uninteressant” (completely uninteresting) in mid-June 1944, but its production continued at a low rate for several more weeks, mainly for the maritime reconnaissance role. The ax finally fall on this bomber at the beginning of July 1944 after a key discussion chaired by Göring, aimed at terminating or limiting the production of less important aircraft types. It was decided, among other matters, to terminate all conventional bomber production. Even afterwards it took a couple of months until the production lines came to a complete stop. After the He 177 was finally terminated in autumn 1944, the only strategic offensive weapon left to the Luftwaffe was the V-1 (which was never included in the aircraft production programs).

Hittite-Hurrian Wars (c. 1620-c. 1325 B. C. E.)


The Hittite Empire at its greatest extent under Suppiluliuma I (ca. 1350–1322 BC) and Mursili II (ca. 1321–1295 BC)


The approximate area of Hurrian settlement in the Middle Bronze Age is shown in purple.

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Hittites vs. Hurrian Mitanni (later with Assyrian allies); separately, Egypt vs. Hurrian Mitanni

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Anatolia (Turkey) and the region of modern Palestine and modern Syria

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: The Hittites and Hurrians struggled to dominate Anatolia.

OUTCOME: Dominance seesawed between the Hittites and Hurrian Mitanni but ultimately fell to Assyria, which became the dominant force in the region by the end of these wars.

The Hittite-Hurrian Wars are especially significant for having included the earliest battle of which a record- however incomplete-exists: the Battle of MEGIDDO, 1469 or 1479 B. C. E.

The Hurrians and Hittites vied for centuries to control Anatolia, the territory of modern Turkey. The long series of wars between them began about 1620 B. C. E. when the Hittites fought the Arzawa, a kingdom on their southwest border. Because the Hittites devoted most of their military resources to this struggle, they left south and southeast Anatolia undefended, and the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni invaded and seized this region. In response, Hittite forces were rushed to the area and succeeded in ejecting the Hurrian Mitanni but, about 1600 B. C. E., were again involved in a pitched struggle for the city of Aleppo. After approximately five years of fighting, the Mitanni finally withdrew.

Some time after this victory, internal struggles within the Hittite kingdom weakened its military position, and the Hurrian Mitanni wrested Cilicia from the Hittites, establishing a kingdom called Kizzuwada about 1590 B. C. E. In a bold strategic move, the Mitanni also created the Hanigabat kingdom in the southeast, which effectively cut the Hittites off from northern Syria. This led to the Battle of Megiddo in 1469 or 1479 B. C. E., not between the Hurrian Mitanni and the Hittites, but between the forces of Egypt, under Pharaoh Thutmose III (fl. c. 1500-1447 B. C. E.), and Saustater (fl. 1500-1450 B. C. E.), the Mitanni king of the Syrian city of Kadesh. With the failure of the Hittites to contain Mitanni expansion, Thutmose feared losing influence in Syria and Palestine. He therefore led an army around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea to extinguish what he interpreted as a revolt in northern Palestine led by the king of Kadesh. The king’s rebel army marched south to Megiddo, which overlooked the pass leading to the Plain of Esdraelon and was thus a strategically placed high-ground position, the gateway to all Mesopotamia. Deploying his army in three groups, Thutmose made a surprise attack on the Mitanni position at dawn and routed the opposing force, which withdrew behind Megiddo’s walls. Had Thutmose proceeded against Megiddo immediately, the city would have quickly fallen. But his troops paused to loot the abandoned Mitanni camp, giving the defenders time to prepare strong defenses. As a result, Megiddo fell only after a seven month siege. The Battle of Megiddo must have involved very large forces, for it was probably the site of the Armageddon battle described in the New Testament.

The Egyptian victory at Megiddo stopped the Mitanni expansion. The Hittite “Old Kingdom” still languished in decline, however, until the advent of a new leader, Suppiluliumas (c. 1375-c. 1335 B. C. E.), who founded the “New Kingdom” and brought the Hittites to renewed power and influence. He resolved to end the Hurrian presence in Syria altogether by mounting a massive invasion into Syria. With strategic aplomb, he invaded via an unexpected route, through the eastern valley of the Euphrates, which caught the Mitanni entirely unawares. They offered only feeble resistance and, by about 1370, yielded all territory north of Damascus and all of present-day Lebanon.

Seeking to halt the Hittite advance, the Mitanni struck an alliance with Assyria, a rival of the Hittites, but the Hittites checked this move by conquering the Mitanni city of Carchemish on the Euphrates in about 1340. This gave the Hittites a buffer state between them and Assyria. It would be years before the Mitanni-Assyrian alliance retook the region in 1325. After the area around Carchemish had been retaken, the Hurrian Mitanni also reestablished Hanigabat as a subkingdom. By this time, however, both the Hurrians and the Hittites had greatly receded in importance relative to the Assyrians, who were rapidly becoming the dominant people in the region and were destined to possess all of Anatolia.

Further reading: Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); O. R. Gurney, The Hittites (New York: Penguin Books, 1990); J. G. Macqueen, The Hittites and Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor (London: Thames and Hudson, 1986).

Battle of Warsaw, (July 28-30, 1656)


Swedish King Charles X Gustav in skirmish with Polish Tatars near Warsaw 1656.


Siege of Warsaw (1656) second day.

By the numbers involved, this was a colossal, three-day fight during the second campaign of the Second Northern War (1655-1660). Measured by casualties, it was a much smaller affair: Polish losses were about 1,000 cavalry and 600 infantry, while the Allies lost about 700 killed and wounded, though these numbers are often greatly swollen in various nationalist retellings of the battle.

The Polish Army under John II Casimir numbered 25,000 regulars, from 10,000-13,000 noble levies, and 2,000 Tatar allies. Of these troops, barely 4,500 were infantry. Many of the peasants who rallied to Casimir were half trained at best, while his noble levies were as they always had been: ill-disciplined and haughty. The Poles were also under-gunned. Nevertheless, Casimir ferried some troops across the Vistula to attack along the right bank of the river, while others were ordered to advance against the Swedes along the left bank. Karl X commanded an allied force of 18,000 men, about equally divided between Swedes and Brandenburgers. These troops were well-trained and well-armed professionals, and they had far more big guns. Interestingly, this army also was predominantly cavalry and dragoons: some 12,000 horse soldiers were divided into 60 squadrons, supported by only 5,500 infantry divided among 15 brigades.

On the first day, Karl took the offensive by attacking Polish infantry entrenched along a narrow neck of land on the right bank. The attack failed to dislodge the Poles. On the 29th, he used cavalry to screen a risky maneuver by his own infantry, which he wheeled left through wooded terrain. He was established in a new position before the Poles could attack, but they did anyway, sending in 800 hussars while the weaker but more numerous Pancerna cavalry held back. The charge was brave but unsuccessful, as Karl deployed his Swedish- Brandenburg horse in three lines. The hussars broke through the first two Allied lines, but were counter charged by the third. Casimir withdrew his forces, admitting defeat and abandoning Warsaw for the second time in 12 months. The Allies entered Warsaw the next day. The Battle of Warsaw was notable for a Swedish emphasis on deploying cavalry when fighting in Poland, something the Swedes had learned from earlier defeats at Polish hands. But it was not close to being a decisive battle and did not determine the outcome of the war.


Karl X of Sweden (1622-1660).

King of Sweden, 1654-1660. He trained for war under the great Swedish artillery master Lennart Torstensson (1603-1651) and saw action at several battles of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), ending as commandant of all Swedish forces in Germany. Worried about the Russian invasion of Poland-Lithuania that began the Thirteen Years’ War (1654-1667), he tried to conquer large, new territory in Poland during the “Little” or Second Northern War (1655-1660), in a serious overreach of Swedish power. He captured Warsaw in 1655 but could not overcome Polish defense of the fortress-monastery of Czestochowa from 1655-1656. The next year he campaigned against Denmark, performing several virtuoso field maneuvers that brought him to the suburbs of Copenhagen. His success in the field forced Denmark to cede large swaths of territory to Sweden in the Treaty of Roskilde (February 26/March 8, 1658). But he fundamentally failed to improve Sweden’s geostrategic position in the Baltic. He startled all Europe by sailing away from Kiel only to turn around and attack Copenhagen a second time, in an effort to repress Denmark permanently and establish Sweden as the dominant Baltic and Scandinavian power. His attempt to exclude all foreign fleets from the Baltic provoked Dutch intervention, which forced him away from Denmark.

He died unexpectedly on February 23, 1660, opening the door to a negotiated settlement with Denmark and its allies, and an end to the Second Northern War. His death at age 37 also left a four-year-old son, Karl XI, on the throne.

Nuclear Carrier Enterprise



060206-N-7748K-002 Atlantic Ocean (Feb. 6, 2006) - The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) prepares to conduct a refueling at sea with the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74). Enterprise is currently underway conducting routine carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Josh Kinter (RELEASED)


Operational experience with the Forrestal class prompted modifications to the design for the follow-on ships of the Kitty Hawk class. The most significant was a rearrangement of the flight deck layout. The island and the middle starboard side elevator changed places, creating an enlarged deck park ahead of the island that was served by two elevators and fed aircraft directly to the two forward catapults. The single port side elevator moved aft toward the after end of the flight deck, clearing the forward end of the angled deck and also enhancing the utility of the two waist catapults. The large forward 5-inch gun sponsons were deleted because they limited speed and were vulnerable to damage in heavy North Atlantic weather. This amended general configuration proved so successful that it has served as a pattern for all subsequent United States Navy carriers.

The ultimate alteration to the design of large American attack carriers was the installation of a nuclear power plant. There was considerable debate about the wisdom of the nuclear power option for aircraft carriers, since the ships themselves were so large and capacious that it was not at all clear that there would be substantial benefits in terms of higher sustained speeds or extended operational range commensurate with the very appreciable additional costs of construction. The very large power plant initially required was not in itself substantially bigger than a conventional installation, though it was much more expensive. The liquid loading required for underwater protection that usually would have comprised the necessary fuel oil for a conventional plant was translated into additional aviation fuel, 2,720,000 gallons versus 1,186,000 gallons in the earlier classes. Consequently, the nuclear carrier Enterprise could operate a larger air group than usual for a longer period and was enlarged to take advantage of this fact, increasing the ship’s aviation ordnance capacity to 2,520 tons instead of the 2,000 tons of its conventionally- powered precursors. The Enterprise also carried a much smaller island, since there was no need for a stack. The island’s faces mounted the flat panel arrays for advanced electronically scanning radars. The combination of greater size, a larger air group, advanced electronics, and nuclear power made the Enterprise very expensive, costing some 40 percent more than the earlier carriers, and leading to the decision to omit all defensive armament in a cost cutting endeavor. In reaction, instead of a new carrier ordered every fiscal year from 1952 to 1958, for two years not one carrier was included in the naval appropriations and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara imposed a schedule of one carrier every two years from 1961.

Furthermore, the next two carriers ordered, the America and the John F. Kennedy, both were conventionally powered, and largely repeated the Kitty Hawk design, although the John F. Kennedy introduced a new narrower side protection scheme designed for use in future nuclear powered carriers in an attempt to reduce the space it consumed and thus prevent the escalation in size that occurred with the Enterprise. Reflecting the increased threat that Soviet submarines posed to American carrier task forces, both ships also received large forefoot domes for sonar apparatus, although only the America actually carried its SQS-23 set since the John F. Kennedy’s was omitted to save money.

The final design to date is that of the Nimitz class. The main changes from the Enterprise design flowed from the availability of much more powerful individual reactors that allowed the use of only two units rather than the eight of the first nuclear powered carrier. Internally, this also allowed concentrating the ordnance magazines and reducing their number from three to two. Unlike the earlier ship, this class also reverted to dividing the hangar into three bays with fire curtains, as in the conventionally powered ships, rather than the two bays of the Enterprise, thus improving fire protection and providing additional support for the flight deck. Flight deck arrangements were modified slightly by decreasing the angle of the landing area to improve air flow abaft the ship and fitting four very long C-13 catapults to cope with ever heavier aircraft (the power of a steam catapult is directly proportional to its length). The use of the narrow side protection system first applied in the John F. Kennedy allowed aviation fuel capacity to rise to 2,600,000 gallons.

Secretary McNamara, as a result of the navy’s demonstration of the effectiveness of carrier strikes in Vietnam, in February 1966 determined that the fleet should maintain a force of fifteen carriers: three of the Midway class, eight of the Forrestal type, the Enterprise, and three new nuclear powered ships to be built to a common design at two years intervals starting with the Nimitz in fiscal year 1967 with the goal of completing all three by 1975.

Laid down: February 4, 1958. Launched: September 24, 1960. Commissioned: November 25, 1961

Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News, VA

Displacement: 75,700 tons (standard), 89,600 tons (full load)

Dimensions: 1,123’0″ (oa) x 133’0″ x 36’0″ (full load)

Flight deck: 1,100’0″ x 252’0″

Machinery: 4 Westinghouse geared turbines, 8 Westinghouse A2W reactors, 4 shafts, 280,000 shp = 35 knots

Endurance: 90 days

Aircraft: 99

Complement: 5,500

Design: Although the weight of the Enterprise’s nuclear power plant was not very much greater than that of a fossil-fueled installation, the carrier was much larger than its conventionally powered contemporaries because of the space required for the large liquid loads needed for underwater protection. Since most of the liquid load was aviation fuel, the Enterprise was capable of embarking a larger than usual air group and of operating it continuously for longer. The ship’s arrangement was generally similar to the earlier Kitty Hawk, but the island was much smaller (because it did not have to accommodate the stack) and no defensive armament was fitted to cut costs. The Enterprise received flat panel electronically scanning radars installed on the four faces of the island structure: SPS-32 search and SPS-33 three dimensional search.

Modifications: In 1967 two 8-tube Sea Sparrow launchers were fitted, controlled by modified APQ-72 aircraft fire control radar sets. The following year an SPS-12 air search set was added to its suite. A refueling and refit process began in 1991 and lasted until 1994, during which three Mk. 15 Phalanx 20mm mounts were added, the bridge reconstructed, and SPS-48C air search, SPS-49 long range two-dimensional air search, and SPS-65 Sea Sparrow search radars replaced the original outfit. Mk. 23 target acquisition radar, SPN-41 landing aid, and two SPN- 46 air traffic control radars were added.

Service: The Enterprise was in the Atlantic Fleet from commissioning until 1965, participating in the blockade of Cuba during the missile crisis, and then deploying to the Mediterranean. In 1965 it transferred to the Pacific Fleet and began operations on Yankee Station, flying strikes against North Vietnam until 1973. It remained in the Pacific until 1990, during which time it deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1988 in support of the tanker war. The Enterprise returned to the Atlantic Fleet after its refit and was engaged during Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the “no-fly” zone over southern Iraq, until 2000. In 2001 the Enterprise formed part of the strike force for Operation Enduring Freedom, the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.