Early Soviet VTOL




In 1960 Yakovlev watched the Short SC.l cavorting at Farnborough and became captivated by the concept of SWP (Russian for VTOL, vertical take-off and landing). Though he received funding for various impressive Yak-33 studies in which batteries of lift jets would have been installed in a supersonic attack aircraft, he quickly decided to build a simple test-bed in the class of the Hawker P.1127, with vectored nozzles. No turbofan existed which could readily be fitted with four nozzles, as in the British aircraft, but, after funding was provided by the MAP and the propulsion institute CIAM, K Khachaturov in the Tumanskii engine bureau developed the R-27 fighter turbojet into the R-27V-300 with a nozzle able to be vectored through a total angle of 100°. Rated initially at 6,350kg (14,0001b), this engine had a diameter of 1,060mm (3ft 5 1/2in) and so it was a practical proposition to fit two close side-by-side in a small fuselage. Of course, the engines had to be handed, because the rotating final nozzle had to be on the outboard side. This was the basis for the Yak-36 research aircraft, intended to explore what could be done to perfect the handling of a jet-lift aeroplane able to hover. To minimise weight, the rest of the aircraft was kept as small as possible. The engines were installed in the bottom of the fuselage with nozzles at the centre of gravity, fed directly by nose inlets. The single-seat cockpit, with side-hinged canopy and later fitted with a seat which was arranged to eject automatically in any life-threatening situation, was directly above the engines. The small wing, tapered on the leading edge and with -5° anhedral, was fitted with slotted flaps and powered ailerons. Behind the engines the fuselage quickly tapered to a tailcone, and carried a vertical tail swept sharply back to place the swept horizontal tail, mounted near the top, as far back as possible. The tailplane was fixed, and the elevators and rudder were fully powered. For control at low airspeeds air bled from the engines was blasted through downward-pointing reaction-control nozzles on the wingtips and under the tailcone and on the tip of a long tubular boom projecting ahead of the nose. The nose and tail jets had twin inclined nozzles which were controllable individually to give authority in yaw as well as in pitch. The landing gear was a simple four-point arrangement, with wingtip stabilizing wheels, of the kind seen on many earlier Yak aircraft. The OKB factory built a static-test airframe and three flight articles, Numbered 36, 37 and 38. Tunnel testing at CAHI (TsAGI) began in autumn 1962, LII pilot Yu A Garnayev made the first outdoor tethered flight on 9th January 1963 and Valentin Mukhin began free hovering on 27th September 1964. On 7th February 1966 No 38 took off vertically, accelerated to wingborne flight and then made a fast landing with nozzles at 0°. On 24th March 1966 a complete transition was accomplished, with a VTO followed by a high-speed pass followed by a VL. The LII stated that maximum speed was about 1000km/h, while the OKB claimed 1100km/h (683mph). Both Nos 37 and 38 were flown to Domodedovo for Aviation Day on 9th July 1967. Later brief trials were flown from the helicopter cruiser Moskva.

From the Yak-36 were derived the Yak-36M, Yak-38, Yak-38U and Yak-38M, all of which saw service with the A-VMF (Soviet naval aviation).


Island-Hopping and Leap-frogging, U.S. Strategies Part I




After the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval facility at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941, the United States and its allies found themselves in a desperate strategic situation in the Pacific. In May 1942, elements of the U.S. Pacific Fleet turned back the Japanese threat to Australia in a strategic victory at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Even with another decisive victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, however, going on the offensive in the Pacific placed almost impossible demands on the limited resources of the United States and its allies, especially when Allied grand strategy emphasized the European theater of operations.

The U.S. leaders, General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz, dominated the Allies’ planning and operations in the Pacific war. Together with the joint chiefs of staff (JCS) in Washington, they adopted a two-pronged strategy divided between their respective areas of authority. MacArthur commanded the southwest Pacific theater and directed the southern prong of the Allied states, Australia and New Zealand. As the Pacific war progressed, MacArthur used Australia as a base of operations to drive through New Guinea and the Bismarck Islands in preparation for retaking the Philippines and eventually seizing Okinawa. From late 1942 through 1943, the Allied forces went on a slow, bloody offensive through the Solomon Islands and on New Guinea. Admiral Nimitz commanded the Pacific theater, which included the central, south, and north Pacific subdivisions. The northern prong of the Allied counteroffensive came under his control and struck westward across the central Pacific from the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor toward the Japanese home islands. Nimitz’s forces were made up almost exclusively of Americans. Little offensive activity occurred in his command until late 1943, when the U.S. Navy mustered a sufficient number of aircraft carriers to ensure U.S. air superiority.

Advancing in either the southwest Pacific or the central Pacific after the Battle of Midway in June 1942 required the Allies to attain several objectives. First, the U.S. Pacific Fleet needed to keep the Japanese Combined Fleet in check, if not totally destroy it. Second, Allied air superiority had to be established and maintained with both land- and carrier-based aircraft. Third, Allied forces needed to carry out repeated large-scale amphibious assaults. Finally, rolling back the Japanese forces meant attacking a strategic defense-in-depth in the Pacific, where island chains potentially served as mutually supporting bases of operations. To reach all these overlapping objectives, the Allies employed “island-hopping” and “leap-frogging” strategies to maximize limited resources, shorten time, and reduce casualties.

In theory, island-hopping made sense as a solution to cracking an island-based defense-in-depth. This strategy can be understood in the following example.

U.S. amphibious and naval forces successfully subdue a Japanese island base, X. In the following month or two, fresh troops replace the exhausted assault forces and crush any stubborn Japanese resistance. Then this island is used as a staging point for assaulting the next enemy-held island, Y. Seabees and army engineers speedily repair or construct airfields and dredge harbors as Allied forces mass for the next leg of the campaign.

Island X serves as air base, safe anchorage, and supply depot for the men and materiel being ferried from Australia or Hawaii. Fresh marine and army divisions receive their last-minute training before their amphibious assault on island Y with support from naval forces and aircraft based on island X. This strategy was employed during the Solomons campaign and later at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Island-hopping proved to be a strategic necessity early in the Pacific war. As 1942 drew to a close and 1943 began, the Allies could muster only limited carrier strength because of losses around Guadalcanal. At one point in October 1942, USS Enterprise was the only operational aircraft carrier in the theater, and it desperately needed an overhaul. Until the new Essex-class carriers became operational, amphibious attacks could not be supported beyond the range of land-based aircraft. Consequently, hopping from island to island under cover of aircraft from nearby bases was the only practical option.

As more carriers became available, U.S. leaders also used a leapfrogging strategy which entailed isolating, bypassing, or circumventing Japanese bases. In theory, leapfrogging was most practical when U.S. forces had achieved air and naval superiority. Without air or naval offensive capabilities, the leapfrogged Japanese forces became impotent because they could not attack U.S. forces or receive supplies or reinforcements. An example helps show how leapfrogging worked.

Three Japanese-held islands, A, B, and C, are situated roughly in a row; all have formidable defenses and some naval and airborne offensive capabilities. Allied air and amphibious forces begin by successfully subduing island A. Then this island becomes a staging point for supplies, men, and materiel for the next leg of the Allies’ campaign. Seabees and army engineers prepare an airfield and harbor for the forces massing on island A. Meanwhile, Allied land- and carrier-based aircraft attack and destroy the Japanese air and naval forces on island B, thus isolating the base and depriving its garrison of any offensive capability. Finally, when sufficient forces are available on island A, Allied forces leapfrog island B and strike at island C.

For Pacific commanders, leapfrogging was best explained with a baseball analogy: it was like “hitting ‘em where they ain’t.” The leapfrogged Japanese base was isolated in the rear area and left to “wither on the vine.” This strategy had two strategic benefits: U.S. forces could advance more quickly, and U.S. commanders could conserve their men and materiel. The leapfrogging strategy was employed at Rabaul, Truk, Mindanao, and the Caroline Islands.

Allied campaigns in the southwest and central Pacific alternated between hopping from island to island and leapfrogging an island. After the naval victories in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway earlier in 1942, the island-hopping strategy was used in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands from late 1942 into 1943. These islands were close to one another and thus easily lent themselves to island-hopping as well as base-hopping. Located near the southeastern tip of the Solomons, Guadalcanal was targeted as a primary strategic objective in Operation Watchtower, the Allies’ first offensive in the Pacific. For six months, the fighting on Guadalcanal raged as both the U.S. and Japan reinforced their land forces in a battle of attrition. On the island, the 1st Marine Division stubbornly held a defensive position around Henderson Field, the all-important air base for success in island-hopping.

Meanwhile, ongoing battles occurred in the air above and in the seas around Guadalcanal. Allied air-power and sea power gradually cut the Japanese supply lines and denied support to the enemy forces remaining on this island. Guadalcanal was under Allied control by the end of 1942. Allied forces then progressed to the northwest through the Solomon chain in a campaign to take the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul on the island of New Britain. To the southwest, MacArthur’s troops simultaneously moved over the Papuan peninsula of New Guinea. Together, operations on Guadalcanal and New Guinea served as preludes to a planned attack on Rabaul.

Located on New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago, off the northern coast of New Guinea, Rabaul possessed powerful naval, air, and land forces which included more than 100,000 Japanese combatants. This base also controlled surrounding area and consequently blocked the Allied advance through the Solomons.

Initially, Rabaul was to be captured under Operation Cartwheel. However, at the Quebec Conference in August 1943, it became apparent that such an action would be much too costly in time, manpower, and materiel. The obvious solution was a modified Operation Cartwheel which called for leapfrogging or isolating Rabaul. In the battles that followed, Allied forces successfully encircled Rabaul by taking Bougainville, the Admiralty Islands, and other islands in the Bismarcks. Allied bombers and their fighter escorts traveled only 170 miles from Bougainville and pulverized the Japanese forces at Rabaul. After losing air and naval superiority, this base’s offensive capabilities and its threat to the continued Allied advance were negligible. In addition, Allied prizes such as the Admiralties served as important staging points for future operations. Although ultimately a strategic success, leapfrogging Rabaul took more than seven months of hard fighting.

As 1943 drew to a close, deployment of Essex-class aircraft carriers irreversibly tipped the scales of air power in favor of the United States and enabled Admiral Nimitz’s central Pacific offensive, code-named Granite, to progress in earnest. Carrier-based air superiority conveyed two fringe benefits: strategic mobility and relative naval supremacy. With carrier-based aircraft, Nimitz therefore had much greater strategic mobility. Conversely, without adequate air cover, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s effectiveness was greatly decreased because its transportation and communications were severely limited.

Island-Hopping and Leap-frogging, U.S. Strategies Part II


As 1943 drew to a close, deployment of Essex-class aircraft carriers irreversibly tipped the scales of air power in favor of the United States and enabled Admiral Nimitz’s central Pacific offensive, code-named Granite, to progress in earnest. Carrier-based air superiority conveyed two fringe benefits: strategic mobility and relative naval supremacy. With carrier-based aircraft, Nimitz therefore had much greater strategic mobility. Conversely, without adequate air cover, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s effectiveness was greatly decreased because its transportation and communications were severely limited.

Nimitz utilized the basic form of the War Plan Orange from the interwar years. Having appeared in various versions, this plan essentially called for the U.S. Pacific Fleet to fight its way across the central Pacific to relieve or recapture the Philippines. En route, the plan anticipated that the Orange (the color designation for Japan) fleet would be defeated in a decisive sea battle. Simultaneously, War Plan Orange anticipated that marine units would seize and defend “advanced bases” in Micronesia, more than a thousand islands stretching across the western Pacific approximately two thousand miles southwest of Hawaii.

Micronesia included the Gilbert, Marshall, Caroline, and the Mariana chains of islands and atolls. They rose out of coral or volcanic reefs and often amounted to no more than a few square miles. After being taken by U.S. forces, advanced bases in Micronesia were used to support subsequent operations. Consequently, the central Pacific strategy included not only island-hopping in a given island chain but also hopping from chain to chain.

Beginning in November 1943, U.S. carrier-based aircraft reduced Japanese air power in the Gilberts and screened the amphibious assault forces in case the Japanese navy contested U.S. landings. Anticipated counterattacks from Japanese bombers based in the Marshalls did not occur. More than 108,000 men in the U.S. Fifth Fleet and 5th Amphibious Corps focused on strong points in the Gilberts, such as Makin and Tarawa. Makin was relatively easy to subdue. Tarawa, however, proved to be more difficult; marines met its fanatical Japanese defenders on the beach. Taking this island was necessary because it provided needed practice in the complex combined arms operations of amphibious warfare: air and sea bombardments had to coordinate with amphibious landings. Tarawa’s airfield was also needed to a lesser extent for bombing operations against the Marshalls, a larger island chain 600 miles to the northwest.

The Marshalls stood next in line, and capturing them had several strategic benefits. The most important islands were Kwajalein and Eniwetok, both of which had airfields and naval anchorages. Japanese forces used Kwajalein as a logistics and communications hub for the rest of the Marshalls as well as the Gilberts. Eniwetok was an atoll which formed a natural harbor and could provide protection for major surface vessels. Neither island was defended by significant numbers of Japanese troops. Although the fighting was bloody, the Marshalls were quickly subdued by February 1944, within three months of the start of the central Pacific drive. After the Marshalls were taken, they formed the base of operations for the planned conquest of the Carolines. The navy refurbished and expanded the base at Eniwetok, which functioned as an advanced fleet anchorage for U.S. major combat vessels. Having such a base more than two thousand miles from Pearl Harbor proved invaluable to the next step in the central Pacific campaign. Aircraft from Eniwetok flew sorties against Wake Island and Truk in the Carolines.

Rather than continuing to hop from Marshalls to the Carolines to the Marianas, Nimitz decided on a two-stage maneuver in Operation Forager: first, leapfrog the Carolines, then seize the Marianas. The Micronesian island chains are not in a straight line, and the Carolines represented a formidable obstacle flanking the Marianas to the northwest and New Guinea to the south. Japanese naval and air forces at Truk in the Carolines presented the most significant threat to the Allied campaign; this base potentially blocked advances in both the central Pacific and the southwest Pacific. Dubbed the “Gibraltar of the Pacific,” Truk’s main island served as a major headquarters and base for the Japanese Combined Fleet where vessels like the super battleship Musashi were stationed. The U.S. Pacific Fleet leapfrogged the Carolines when U.S. air attacks from carriers and Eniwetok devastated the Japanese forces at Truk. The Japanese Combined Fleet fled, and U.S. aircraft destroyed most of Truk’s aircraft on the ground.

With Truk’s threat effectively neutralized, the second stage of Operation Forager went forward. It rivaled Allied operations in Europe and the Mediterranean Sea in vastness and complexity. The U.S. Fifth Fleet included 535 combat and auxiliary vessels which carried more than 127,500 troops, two-thirds of whom were marines. This armada was a self-sufficient expeditionary force. The logistical challenges of Operation Forager appeared almost insurmountable; the Fifth Fleet sailed more than a thousand miles from Eniwetok to the Marianas, where it conducted an amphibious assault against several Japanese-held islands. If that was not enough, U.S. planners fully expected that attacking the Marianas would draw a counterattack by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Nevertheless, Operation Forager was a success in part because of good planning and effective leadership.

In the Mariana Islands, amphibious assaults on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam occurred during the summer of 1944. Desperate Japanese defenders did not yield the Marianas without inflicting heavy casualties on U.S. forces. However, despite the cost in lives at the tactical level, leapfrogging the Carolines and securing the Marianas paid off handsomely at the strategic level. First, much time and many lives were saved overall. In addition, Allied occupation of these islands cracked Japan’s inner defensive perimeter and thus opened a way for Nimitz’s forces to converge on the Philippines and link up with MacArthur. Likewise, the strongly defended island of Iwo Jima was a short hop from the Marianas.

In 1944, another benefit became clear as the B-29 Superfortresses were deployed in the Pacific. With this aircraft’s exceptionally long range and with less then 1,300 miles between the Marianas and the Japan home islands, B-29s could bombard the heart of the shrinking Empire of the Rising Sun. Last, the Japanese regarded Saipan as part of their home territory, and thus losing the island was not only a strategic but also a morale blow.

As the central Pacific drive moved through Micronesia and secured the Marianas, MacArthur’s forces had been moving quickly along the northern coast of New Guinea during mid-1944. The Japanese base at Wewak was leapfrogged, and Hollandia was subsequently attacked. The once formidable Hollandia fell quickly after a heavy air bombardment, and its airfields in turn supported base-hopping operations against Wakde, Biak, Noemfoor, and Sansapor. By July 1944, three months after the initial isolation of Wewak, MacArthur and his forces controlled New Guinea and began preparing for an invasion of Mindanao and other islands of the Philippines.

In mid-1944, a debate raged among MacArthur, Nimitz, and the JCS. The Allies had to choose between two strategic options: leapfrog the Philippines as a whole and capture Formosa (now Taiwan), off the coast of China, or invade and subdue the Philippines. Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J. King and the JCS favored the first option. To them, it offered grand strategic benefits because the Philippines could be bypassed, and because Formosa could be used as the final stepping-stone for an invasion of Okinawa and the Japanese home islands. Conversely, the second option entailed a potentially lengthy operation to subdue the 7,000-island archipelago. MacArthur insisted on making good on his promise to return to the Philippines, and in the end he would not be denied. Nimitz also argued for an invasion of the Philippines to establish bases for operations against Japan itself. President Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened and ended the debate by mandating an invasion of the Philippines.

It should be noted that logistics and timetables played critical roles in the decision to capture the Philippines instead of Formosa. Planners expected that the assault on Formosa would require nine divisions. Such an operation was possible only in early 1945, when sufficient manpower became available. So, in the case of the Philippines, the leapfrogging strategy was rejected for the same reasons usually cited as benefits.

Once the invasion of the Philippines commenced in October 1944, both island-hopping and leapfrogging were employed in the campaign. Airfields were constructed after advances had been consolidated, and they supported the next phases of the operations. U.S. naval forces fought a series of battles with the remains of the Japanese Combined Fleet to retain air and naval superiority, despite some potentially disastrous mishaps and repeated kamikaze raids. The best example of leapfrogging in the Philippines was bypassing of the large island of Mindanao in the south part of the archipelago; instead, MacArthur’s forces attacked Leyte. After securing Mindoro as a base for aircraft, MacArthur then used an island hopping strategy by invading Luzon, which was brought under practical Allied control early in 1945.

With the most important Philippines islands as staging areas, the largest Allied armada in World War II made the hop from the Philippines to Okinawa in April 1945. After two months of some of the war’s bloodiest fighting, Okinawa fell. Not even a suicide mission by Yamato, Japan’s remaining superbattleship, could change the outcome. By the late summer of 1945, the invasion of southern Japanese home islands was expected to be launched from Okinawa—the last and most dreaded island-hopping operation.

Because of the “Europe-First” grand strategy in World War II, limited resources were available to the Allies in the Pacific. Only enough men and materiel were available for relatively small operations. Islandhopping and leapfrogging constituted a means to build several small steps into a large advance. This can be seen in the New Guinea, Philippines, and central Pacific campaigns. Moreover, using both island-hopping and leapfrogging in the two-pronged (southwest and central Pacific campaigns) strategy consistently kept the Japanese off balance. Also, hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops were tied down in the China-Burma-India theater. As a result, the Japanese were never able to take full advantage of their interior lines of communication and transportation because they had lost air, and consequently naval, superiority. They never concentrated their forces sufficiently to deal a deadly blow to either Allied advance, thus making their defeat all but inevitable.

FURTHER READINGS Isely, Jeter A., and Philip A.Crowl. The U.S. Marines and Amphibious Warfare: Its Theory and Practice in the Pacific (1951). MacArthur, Douglas. Reminiscences (1964). Miller, Edward S. War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945 (1991). Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Two-Ocean War: A Short His-tory of the United States Navy in the Second World War (1963). Nimitz, Chester, and E.B.Potter. The Great Sea War (1960). Spector, Ronald H. Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan (1985). U.S. Army. The War in the Pacific, 11 vols. In the series The United States Army in World War II (1948–1962). U.S. Marine Corps. History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, 5 vols. (1958–1968). Weinberg, Gerhard L. “Grand Strategy in the Pacific War.” Air Power History (Spring 1996).

Homma Masaharu (1887–1946)



Officer in command of the Japanese army that conquered the Philippines. Homma was born at Sado Island on November 27, 1889, into a family of privileged landowners. He graduated with high marks from the Japanese military academy and from the staff college. During World War I he was sent to France as an observer on assignment to the British command along the western front. In the 1920s he served as Japan’s resident army officer in India and later as military attaché in Great Britain. As head of the Japanese War Ministry’s press section, Homma defended the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931 and eventually commanded troops in northern China. After the capture of Nanking (Nanjing) in 1937, he openly urged the need for a prompt peace in order to avert a calamity. He also doubted the ability of Tojo Hideki as a prospective war minister. Homma was commandant of the Formosa (now Taiwan) Army before his return to Japan in preparation for the outbreak of war.

Homma, whose avocations extended to the composition of plays and poetry, expressed an independent mind almost unheard of within the inflexible Japanese command structure. For example, in a fiery manner he questioned the particulars of his new assignment and had been audacious enough to declare publicly that hostilities with England and the United States would be an act of insanity. By December 1941 Homma, with the rank of lieutenant general, was the supreme commander of all Japanese army units scheduled to invade the Philippines. The Fourteenth Army, headquartered in Formosa, contained only two divisions, the 16th and the 48th, supported by service and logistical elements. Furthermore, the government’s timetable permitted use of the 48th Division for only fifty days, the period allotted for the Philippine campaign, because the unit was destined for employment in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Japanese strategy directed Homma to seize Manila, the capital; no preparation was made for a U.S. withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula. On December 22, Homma put ashore the 48th Division at Lingayen Gulf and landed the 16th Division at Lamon Bay as wings meant to envelop Manila. Brushing aside resistance, his army raced for Manila but was delayed, despite its control of the air, at the Calumpit bridges while General Douglas MacArthur’s forces hastened to Bataan. Homma’s units eventually entered the city on January 2, 1942. However, to his disappointment, its capture failed to effect the archipelago’s surrender.

Behind schedule and deprived of the seasoned 48th Division, Homma engaged the Fil-American army in Bataan with the green 65th Division, newly arrived from Formosa. He felt a repeated sense of urgency to step up his attack, notwithstanding inferior numbers and stubborn resistance, because of General Yamashita Tomoyuki’s successful offensive in Malaya (now Malaysia). With the Fourteenth Army exhausted and the campaign stalled, Homma halted the offensive in early February and requested reinforcements. His soldiers were tired, diseased, and debilitated by wounds. By April his reinforced army, backed by airpower and artillery, renewed the attack and quickly forced the U.S. capitulation on Bataan. But head-quarters had underestimated the number of prisoners to be handled and to be encamped at sites on Luzon; consequently, Japanese logistics collapsed and the Bataan death march resulted. Homma, already off schedule, moved next against Corregidor. Becoming more jumpy and agitated because of demands from general headquarters, he waited anxiously for the assault on the island fortress. He visited the debarkation point of Lamao to see off the attackers, knowing that an operational failure would lead to his dishonor. His anger boiled on May 5 when General Jonathan Wainwright, commander of FilAmerican forces, declined to surrender all units in the islands—striking his clenched hands on a table, he threatened to keep fighting on Corregidor. Although Wainwright reconsidered and decided to surrender, Homma, greatly offended, told him to go back to Corregidor in order to capitulate to the Japanese officer at the scene.

Despite his victory, Homma was out of favor with the army general staff. His Philippines campaign had been too lengthy and expensive. Besides, there was displeasure with his forbearance toward the Filipino populace and his refusal to circulate anti-American propaganda. In late August he was ordered to Japan and placed on reserve. Following Tojo’s downfall in December 1943, Homma was selected as minister of information by the incoming Prime Minister, Kiso Kuniaki. In September 1945, to his astonishment as well as that of the Japanese public, he was arrested and indicted for war crimes by the Allies, charged with accountability for the Bataan death march in particular. He was found guilty on February 11, 1946, and sentenced to the by firing squad. Despite an eleventh-hour plea by his wife to General MacArthur, he was executed on April 3, 1946, in Manila.


Fujiko, wife of General Masaharu Homma who was on trial for war crimes in Manila, Philippines. The High Commissioner’s residence is in the background.

For a World War II Japanese general, Homma was an attractive personality, and his execution disturbed a number of Americans in the occupation forces. Many informed observers, at the time and since, have felt that he was executed primarily because he had defeated General MacArthur.

FURTHER READINGS Morton, Louis. The Fall of the Philippines (1953). Taylor, Lawrence. A Trial of Generals: Homma, Yamashita, MacArthur (1981). Toland, John. But Not in Shame: The Six Months After Pearl Harbor (1961). Whitman, John W. Bataan: Our Last Ditch (1990).



Battle of Plevna, in 1877, was a major battle of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), fought by the joint army of Russia and Romania against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman defense held up the main Russian advance southwards into Bulgaria, encouraging other great powers of the time to actively support the Ottoman cause. Eventually, superior Russian and Romanian numbers forced the garrison to capitulate.

Alexander II’s era of the Great Reforms marked an important watershed for both services. In a series of reforms between 1861 and 1874, War Minister Dmitry Alexeyevich Milyutin created the foundations for a genuine cadre- and reserve-based ground force. He facilitated introduction of a universal service obligation, and he rearmed, reequipped, and redeployed the army to contend with the gradually emerging German and Austro-Hungarian threat along the Empire’s western frontier. In 1863–1864 the army once again suppressed a Polish rebellion, while in the 1860s and 1870s small mobile forces figured in extensive military conquests in Central Asia. War also flared with Turkey in 1877–1878, during which the army, despite a ragged beginning, inconsistent field leadership, and inadequacies in logistics and medical support, acquitted itself well, especially in a decisive campaign in the European theater south of the Balkan ridge. Similar circumstances governed in the Transcausus theater, where the army overcame initial setbacks to seize Kars and carry the campaign into Asia Minor.

Following the war of 1877–1878, planning and deployment priorities wedded the army more closely to the western military frontier and especially to peacetime deployments in Russian Poland. With considerable difficulty, Alexander III presided over a limited force modernization that witnessed the adoption of smokeless powder weaponry and changes in size and force structure that kept the army on nearly equal terms with its two more significant potential adversaries, Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary. At the same time, the end of the century brought extensive new military commitments to the Far East, both to protect expanding imperial interests and to participate in suppression of the Boxer Rebellion (1900).


First Russian torpedo vessel Vzryv (1877). She was armed with a bow underwater torpedo tube.


The same challenges of force modernization and diverse responsibilities bedeviled the navy, perhaps more so than the army. During the 1860s and 1870s, the navy made the difficult transition from sail to steam, but thereafter had to deal with increasingly diverse geostrategic requirements that mandated retention of naval forces in at least four theaters (Baltic, Northern, Black Sea, and Pacific), none of which were mutually supporting. Simultaneously, the Russian Admiralty grappled with issues of role and identity, pondering whether the navy’s primary mission in war lay either with coastal defense and commerce raiding or with attainment of true “blue water” supremacy in the tradition of Alfred Thayer Mahan and his Russian navalist disciples. Rationale notwithstanding, by 1898 Russia possessed Europe’s third largest navy (nineteen capital ships and more than fifty cruisers), thanks primarily to the ship-building programs of Alexander III.



The Russian Army: Greanadier, summer dress (1808), Carabinier NCO, Jägers (1812), Grenadier (1812), Musketeer, winter dress 1809 (down)


Uniforms of Lejb-Guard Konnyj regiment of Russian Empire army in 1848.

At the outset of the century, Alexander I inherited a sizeable and unaffordable army, many of whose commanders were seasoned veterans. After instituting a series of modest administrative reforms for efficiency and economy, including the creation of a true War Ministry, the Tsar in 1805 plunged into the wars of the Third Coalition. For all their experience and flexibility, the Russians with or without the benefit of allies against Napoleon suffered a series of reverses or stalemates, including Austerlitz (1805), Eylau (1807), and Friedland (1807). After the ensuing Tilsit Peace granted five years’ respite, Napoleon’s Grand Armée invaded Russia in 1812. Following a fighting Russian withdrawal into the interior, Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov in September gave indecisive battle at Borodino, followed by another withdrawal to the southeast that uncovered Moscow. When the French quit Moscow in October, Kutuzov pursued, reinforced by swarms of partisans and Cossacks, who, together with starvation and severe cold, harassed the Grand Armée to destruction. In 1813, the Russian army fought in Germany, and in 1814 participated in the coalition victory at Leipzig, followed by a fighting entry into France and the occupation of Paris.

The successful termination of the Napoleonic wars still left Alexander I with an outsized and unaffordable military establishment, but now with the addition of disaffected elements within the officer corps. While some gentry officers formed secret societies to espouse revolutionary causes, the tsar experimented with the establishment of settled troops, or military colonies, to reduce maintenance costs. Although these colonies were in many ways only an extension of the previous century’s experience with military settlers on the frontier, their widespread application spawned much discontent. After Alexander I’s death, unrest and conspiracy led to an attempted military coup in December 1825.

Tsar Nicholas I energetically suppressed the socalled Decembrist rebellion, then imposed parade ground order. His standing army grew to number one million troops, but its outdated recruitment system and traditional support infrastructure eventually proved incapable of meeting the challenges of military modernization. Superficially, the army was a model of predictable routine and harsh discipline, but its inherent shortcomings, including outmoded weaponry, incapacity for rapid expansion, and lack of strategic mobility, led inexorably to Crimean defeat. The army was able to subdue Polish military insurrectionists (1830–1831) and Hungarian revolutionaries (1848), and successfully fight Persians and Turks (1826–1828, 1828–1829), but in the field it lagged behind its more modern European counterparts. Fighting from 1854 to 1856 against an allied coalition in the Crimea, the Russians suffered defeat at Alma, heavy losses at Balaklava and Inkerman, and the humiliation of surrender at Sevastopol. Only the experience of extended warfare in the Caucasus (1801–1864) afforded unconventional antidote to the conventional “paradomania” of St. Petersburg that had so thoroughly inspired Crimean defeat. Thus, the mountains replaced the steppe as the southern pole in an updated version of the previous century’s north-south dialectic.


During the first half of the nineteenth century, the navy, too, experienced its own version of the same dialectic. For a brief period, the Russian navy under Admiral Dmity Nikolayevich Senyavin harassed Turkish forces in the Aegean, but following Tilsit, the British Royal Navy ruled in both the Baltic and the Mediterranean. In 1827, the Russians joined with the British and French to pound the Turks at Navarino, but in the north, the Baltic Fleet, like the St. Petersburg military establishment, soon degenerated into an imperial parading force. Only on the Black Sea, where units regularly supported Russian ground forces in the Caucasus, did the Navy reveal any sustained tactical and operational acumen. However, this attainment soon proved counterproductive, for Russian naval victory in 1853 over the Turks at Sinope drew the British and French to the Turkish cause, thus setting the stage for allied intervention in the Crimea. During the Crimean War, steam and screw-driven allied vessels attacked at will in both the north and south, thereby revealing the essentially backwardness of Russia’s sailing navy.

Field Marshal Johann Josef Wenzel, Count Radetzky von Radec


Despite the mental weakness of Franz’s son Ferdinand, Metternich supported his accession, perhaps also convinced that this young man, perceived by the Archduke John as ‘wholly incapable of decisive action’, would allow Metternich to run the affairs of state with the minimum of interference. Indeed, Metternich proceeded to personify the system that now governed most of Central and Eastern Europe far more than the Emperor.

Ferdinand’s reign witnessed huge encroachments by the ‘apparatus of the state’, with police informers and surveillance reaching levels that would be achieved in Central Europe only in totalitarian states a century later. It was a tribute to the popularity of the half-wit Emperor’s predecessor that this unhappy state of affairs lasted thirteen years before there was an explosion. As the Archduke Albert wrote of Ferdinand’s reign, ‘It could not have lasted a year had not his predecessor enjoyed an unimpeachable position.’

The ‘tyranny’ that was reported to have descended on the Empire was much exaggerated by liberal opinion, especially in England. The remarkable memoirs of The Times correspondent of the day, Charles Pridham, describe vividly how the machinery of a police state was mobilised to watch and monitor his every move as he attempted to get to Hungary to cover events there. From Vienna to Trieste he was treated to every conceivable measure of surveillance and official delay, worthy indeed of the wiles of the Eastern European communists in their dealings with correspondents a hundred and forty years later. But for the help of the British Consul in Trieste, who certainly defied the instructions of his Ambassador in Vienna, the supine and ‘pragmatic’ Ponsonby, he would almost certainly never have made it into Hungary at all.

But though a price was eventually placed on his head by the infamously severe General Haynau, Pridham suffered no physical violence and it was somehow typical of the Metternich era that, despite the furious cries of journalists and writers against the reign of censorship and confiscation, none was ever imprisoned or physically attacked for attempting to subvert the rules. There were no ‘show trials’. No records of torture during the Metternich period, of individuals disappearing or of incarceration without due process of law, exist.

Because the revolutionary events of 1848 affected the structure of the army directly, they also threatened the existence of the dynasty. Conditions in Vienna and Budapest suggested strongly that the fiction of the Emperor Ferdinand’s reign be abandoned. The generals who were loyal to the dynasty awaited orders from Vienna but from the Emperor there came nothing. When Ferdinand went for a carriage ride, against the advice of his courtiers, and saw the angry Viennese crowd jeering, he mistook it for innocent emotional excess. ‘Ma Liebe Wärner! Schauens die oan! So a Stuam!’ (‘My darling Viennese! Just look at them. How excited they get’), he observed in broad Viennese dialect, utterly unperturbed. On another occasion when following a riot a stray cow found its way into the Hofburg courtyards, he looked down from a window languidly commenting to his horrified aides: ‘That must be the first stupid cow to get into this palace without the help of any nepotism’ (‘ohne Protection’).

Fortunately for the dynasty, the moment brought forth the men. Three distinguished soldiers emerged who, keeping their nerve, would ensure the survival of the House of Austria. When the Emperor said Wir (We), cynics joked that each letter stood for one of his generals. Chief among these was a man in his 83rd year whom we have already encountered on the battlefields of Europe a generation earlier: Field Marshal Johann Josef Wenzel, Count Radetzky von Radec. As we have observed, there was nothing in Radetzky’s career to suggest that he would for a moment either surrender or give up the struggle for the Habsburgs. His greatest support was his popularity among his soldiers but also – and this is rarely referred to – among the Italian peasantry. These saw him as a guardian against the pretensions of their Italian aristocratic landlords and the intellectual musings of the Milanese middle classes whose ambitions carried no weight among the simple ‘contadini’; a class division repeated throughout the monarchy.

Documents found recently in the USA indicate that Radetzky was not the simple reactionary that he is sometimes painted. As a young man he had embraced the Enlightenment ideals of the Josephinian era and had been one of the first young officers of the Imperial army to join a Masonic lodge.

A strong conviction that progress was to be welcomed never left Radetzky. His support for those less fortunate than himself assisted many military careers, notably Benedek’s. At the same time his human frailties endeared him to his Italian soldiers who knew the rumours (perfectly true) of his many illegitimate children and of his long, passionate and affectionate affair with his Italian housekeeper, Giudita Meregalli, who was equally devoted to him. Such a lifestyle was expensive and it was Radetzky’s tragedy to be married to a wife who sought refuge from her husband’s many infidelities in the relentless pursuit of material and costly luxuries. In 1798, he had married the rather stiff Friulan Countess Strassoldo. In eighteen years she had dutifully borne him eight children and, from 1805, two-thirds of every florin Radetzky earned were sent straight to Gorizia for his wife and family’s needs, 4,000 out of 6,000 florins, according to one letter from Radetzky to his favourite daughter, Friederike Wenckheim. In 1816, the General only staved off bankruptcy by pledging his debtors half of his future income. Even when he was made a Field Marshal in 1836, the financial worries did not cease.

In addition to his eight children with Countess Strassoldo, only two of whom would outlive him, the general had commitments with his Italian Signora Meregalli. She was a voluptuous, capable woman whose simplicity, warmth and charm were all any soldier could wish for. Milanese history has embroidered her character with many details but all the contemporary sources are agreed that she was a formidable cook. She had ‘conquered’ the old general with, among other gifts, her ravishing culinary skills, not least her gnocchi di zucca and cotoletta alla Milanese, a dish later exported to Vienna where it became the ubiquitous Wiener Schnitzel.

She too bore him eight children, five sons and three daughters, all of whom Radetzky recognised as his own and whom he supported financially. Nor was the soldier’s relationship with Signora Meregalli limited to domestic issues. When he was away from Lombardy he wrote regularly about the political situation in Europe generally. These letters show that he did not for a moment underestimate his Italian cook’s intelligence. In one, he noted that it would be just his luck to be posted to Bohemia when it was his real wish ‘with all his heart’ to return to Italy. He deplored London’s continual support for Italian revolution, writing to his daughter Friederike: ‘As long as England does not stop to lead the campaign to destroy Europe, there will not be any peace.’

For Radetzky, Signora Meregalli was also a vital source of information on what the Italians were thinking. Her connections with the leaders of the Lombard rebels have never been proven, though they are alluded to in Italian texts. In any event, as Radetzky’s letters of March 1848 show, he knew the explosion was coming; that Piedmont was rearming and that all the warning signs were there. These warnings he conscientiously passed on to Vienna but his superiors filed them unread, being distracted by events nearer to home.

The Italians needed little encouragement to rise up. The Milanese intellectuals, excited by Piedmontese and British propaganda, seized weapons and began to menace the garrison. Confronted by an armed uprising, Radetzky knew he had to move swiftly. After five days of attacks he brought his forces out of Milan. The Imperial troops marched out of the city on a wet and windy night. The cannons roared and the clatter of rifle fire filled the night, illuminated as it was by the flames of the burning buildings. As Radetzky’s advance guard punched a hole through the thin revolutionary forces holding the Porta Romana, the troops marched along the Lodi road past the motionless figure of their commander, who was watching with his small staff on horseback in the torrential rain of a thunderstorm. The rain poured off his hat and coat and, though drenched to the skin, the Field Marshal, motionless and calm, watched his men. Finally when almost the last soldiers had passed, Radetzky was heard to say ‘Wir kehren wieder’ (‘We’ll be back’) before riding off into the rainy night.

As Radetzky retired into the formidable ‘Quadrilateral’ of fortresses: Verona, Mantua, Legnano and Peschiera, the only good news seemed to come from Tyrol, where the aged priest and veteran of 1809 Haspinger and the grandsons of Andreas Hofer had marched towards Mantua to avenge their grandfather’s death. Haspinger’s beard was now no longer red but silver white.

The fortifications Radetzky found on regaining the Quadrilateral were in a parlous state. In Verona some outworks were held only by three or four men. In Peschiera there was a garrison of fewer than 41 men, of whom 17 were officially classed as invalids. But the old Marshal was undeterred. From here he tore up the Italian peace overtures and made preparations to destroy his opponents. He had trained his troops over the previous years and he knew their quality. As early as 1833, he had written a paper for the Archduke John on the possibilities of defensive campaigning with Verona rather than the Mincio river as the key to his strategy. The experienced soldier knew every inch of the territory and he had fought many campaigns against far more deadly foes.

Essex-class aircraft carriers


USS Intrepid (CV-11) in the Philippine Sea, November 1944.


As 1943 drew to a close, deployment of Essex-class aircraft carriers irreversibly tipped the scales of air power in favor of the United States and enabled Admiral Nimitz’s central Pacific offensive, code-named Granite, to progress in earnest. Carrier-based air superiority conveyed two fringe benefits: strategic mobility and relative naval supremacy. With carrier-based aircraft, Nimitz therefore had much greater strategic mobility. Conversely, without adequate air cover, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s effectiveness was greatly decreased because its transportation and communications were severely limited.


The end of treaty restrictions on the individual size and overall numbers of carriers presented the United States Navy with the opportunity to construct a carrier force incorporating all the lessons and experience from the fleet’s experiments and operations since the 1920s. The new Essex class design, derived from the earlier successful Yorktown class, featured a 25 percent larger air group, a 50 percent increase in defensive armament, machinery rearranged for better survivability, and substantially improved armor protection, most notably the addition of a 3-inch armored hangar deck. All these improvements came at a price. Overall dimensions increased by some 10 percent to meet requirements for more accommodation space, stowage for bunker and aviation fuel and munitions, and 25 percent more powerful machinery to maintain speed, while displacement rose by 37 percent.

The Essex class was a highly successful design. Improved passive protection demonstrated its value, especially in the face of kamikaze strikes that caused very serious damage to four of the class, all of which survived. The larger flight deck and deck-edge elevator greatly facilitated large-scale rapid aircraft operations. The design was large enough to accommodate bigger air groups of larger machines than envisaged originally (late war examples operated as many as 103 aircraft rather than the 91 as designed). As the war progressed, the light antiaircraft battery of Essex class carriers more than doubled in size and there was a major expansion of the radar suite. Nevertheless, by war’s end the class was very crowded, since complements had grown by 50 percent to serve the larger air groups and enhanced batteries and equipment suites.

Design: The design for this class, the largest single group of fleet carriers ever constructed, was envisaged as an improved Yorktown, incorporating a 10 percent enlargement of the air group, improved protection, subdivision, and machinery arrangements, better flight deck layout, and an increase in the antiaircraft battery. All this was achieved, but the final design was almost 30 percent larger. The midship elevator was located at the port deck edge, while installing the starboard 5-inch guns in twin mounts fore and aft of the island not only enlarged the flight deck but also increased the heavy antiaircraft battery by 50 percent. The design called for three catapults: two on the flight deck forward and the third (a transverse unit) on the hangar deck. Production shortages meant most early units of the class completed with only one catapult, either on the flight deck or in the hangar, but eventually all carried the two flight deck catapults alone. Protection was enhanced by better subdivision, arranging the machinery on the unit system, and adding armor, principally in the form of 3-inch protection on the hangar deck. Two units, the Reprisal and the Iwo Jima, were laid down but never completed, while an additional six units were authorized but never commenced construction.

Modifications: All ships received greatly enhanced light antiaircraft batteries as World War II progressed. The final arrangement included seventeen or eighteen quadruple 40mm mounts (the longer bow of the Group II vessels was a design change to allow fitting two mounts with enhanced sky arcs beneath the forward end on the flight deck instead of the single mount on the earlier vessels), and up to sixty 20mm weapons in single or twin mounts. These carriers also received updated and expanded radar suites and replaced some or all of their rigid antenna masts with whip antennae. The stowage for aviation gasoline was revised for greater protection and internal subdivision improved by extending unpierced bulkheads one deck higher. Air groups expanded to as many as 103 heavier aircraft by the end of World War II, requiring additional fuel, munitions, and crew accommodations, plus stronger arresting gear. By the end of World War II the complements of the class reached 3,385 officers and men.

Most of the class received major reconstructions, described separately. Those not reconstructed were stripped of most of their light antiaircraft battery to reduce weight and crew size. The Boxer, the Leyte, the Princeton, the Tarawa, the Valley Forge, and the Philippine Sea were converted to antisubmarine carriers between 1953 and 1956. The Boxer, the Princeton, and the Valley Forge converted to amphibious assault ships between 1959 and 1961.

Displacement: 27,200 tons (standard), 34,880 tons (full load) Dimensions: Group I 872’0” (oa), Group II 888’0” (oa) x 93’0” x 23’0” (mean), 27’6” (full load) Flight deck: 860’0” x 96’0” Machinery: Westinghouse geared turbines, 8 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 4 shafts, 150,000 shp = 32.7 knots Bunkerage & range: 6,330 tons = 15,000 nm @ 15 knots. Aircraft: 91 Armament: 4 x twin 5” DP, 4 x single 5” DP, 8 x quadruple 40mm AA, 46 x 20mm AA Complement: 2,682