Escuadron de Combate 111

Kfir C-10 of the FAC.

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC – Colombian Air Force)/Escuadron de Combate 111 IAI Kfir C10 FAC-3041,which was lost in a crash on approach to Palanquero on December 31 2017. The pilot ejected safely. This aircraft wore a special paint scheme, which included a black lion silhouette on the nose and external underwing fuel tanks. After a routine training flight, the aircraft had a technical failure and crashed on approach to Base Aérea Militar 2 Palanquero, Puerto Salgar Cundinamarca, at 0935hrs.  The pilot ejected and was recovered safely, without injury.  This was the fifth Kfir to have been lost by the FAC in the last five years.

FAC 3008 is a two-seat Kfir COD. The jet retains full combat capability, evidenced by this load of Derby and Python AAMs. The latest I-Derby ER missile incorporates an innovative radio- frequency seeker and a range of up to 100km.

Escuadron de Combate 111 K? rs top up from the FAC’s sole KC-767 multi-role tanker transport. Nearest the camera is K? r COA serial FAC 3048, carrying an air-to-air load-out of Derby and (outboard) Python 5 AAMs, plus a Litening pod on the shoulder pylon.

Colombian Air Force or FAC (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Colombiana)

Deep in the heart of Colombia, on the banks of the Magdalena River, the pride of the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC, Colombian Air Force) is found at Palanquero air base. This is home to Comando Aéreo de Combate No 1 (Combat Air Command No 1) and named after aviator Captain German Olano Moreno. Situated among the Cordillera Mountain ranges, the airfield’s rich aviation history dates back to the 1930s when seaplanes used to operate from the Magdalena. Today, the FAC’s Escuadron de Combate 111 is the base’s most significant resident with its Kfir (lion cub) fighters. It’s also home to the AC-47T Fantasma gunships as well as T-37B Tweet trainers.

Over the years, access to the base has been extremely limited, due to Colombia’s security situation and ongoing war with both guerrillas and the various infamous drug cartels. Today, the country has made significant inroads to tackle drug-related crime, thanks to a prolonged and determined battle. In 2017, a second peace agreement was reached with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerillas and other Marxist groups to disarm. Although these measures have had a positive effect on violence within the nation’s borders, there are many hurdles to overcome before its citizens can feel like the longstanding conflict is truly behind them. Adding to the country’s challenges is the ongoing unrest along its long border with Venezuela. Colombia has absorbed almost two million refugees from its neighbour. Many thousands of refugees have arrived there from the lawless country to the east, increasing the strain on the government in Bogota.

Along with the significant improvement in national security, the FAC has become more open to showcasing its combat assets. Its premier fighter is the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir C10, with around 21 aircraft currently assigned to Escuadron de Combate 111.

Founded in 1989 by Major General (ret’d) Forero Gonzalo, Escuadron de Combate 111 has been at the front line of the Colombian Air Force for almost three decades, with the Kfirs now bristling with advanced technology. Kfir force Colombia’s Kfir pilots are typically very experienced and spend most of their careers associated in some way with this squadron.

They are the Colombian military’s first line of defence and therefore held in high regard. Once pilots are selected to serve on the Kfir squadron, they are likely to spend close to a decade on that assignment. It’s a prize that’s hard won, as the path to the Kfir cockpit is a long and arduous one. Thousands apply to join the FAC academy and applicants must complete various aptitude tests as well as a psychological evaluation and rigorous background checks, in an effort to gain as much knowledge on the potential cadet’s environment and his family history. From close to 4,000 applicants, only 100 will be selected for the academy.

Only the top percentage of students make the grade to enter Kfir training. Even then, they must first prove their mettle and excel in basic flying training and in the follow-on EMB-314 Super Tucano. Having accumulated four years of service and 350 flight hours, they are eligible for a further evaluation for advancing to the Kfir.

Palanquero operates like a small town, with all families and related facilities located on base. While progression to the Kfir is long, once here the personnel enjoy a stable family environment, thanks to the FAC.

Maj Sanchez is the current Kfir squadron operations officer. He told AFM his father was an armament officer on the Mirage 5 and that he was brought up at Palanquero. Today, he walks to the jets along the same shelters as his father did before him. Like all Kfir aviators, Sanchez built considerable flying experience before he arrived at the Kfir, indeed he flew the AC-47T as a co-pilot, and eventually became an instructor pilot (IP) on the Super Tucano – before strapping on the Kfir C10.

Modern Kfirs

The Kfir was an iconic fighter in the Israeli Air Force, loosely modelled on the Dassault Mirage 5. It featured the powerful General Electric J79 engine and canards to enhance manoeuvrability and stability.

The Kfir C1 and C2 variants served in Israel, and this was the standard of aircraft that was initially sold to Colombia from 1989. Israel sold 12 C2 models to the FAC, with all the airframes having seen combat operations over Lebanon. In 1990, 11 were upgraded from C2 to C7 standard by the Comando Aéreo de Mantenimiento (CAMAN) in Madrid, just north of Bogota. This provided the aircraft with the ability to employ Rafael’s Python 3 air-to-air missile (AAM) and added an in-flight refuelling probe to extend combat radius, initially for working with the FAC’s sole Boeing KC-137 tanker, Zeus.

In 2009, following two decades of service, ten survivors were upgraded again under what IAI dubbed the `Kfir 2000′, more commonly known as the C10. A new nose profile accommodated the Elta EL/M-2032 advanced multi-mode radar, plus the DASH (Display and Sight Helmet), two new multifunction cockpit displays, Python 5 missiles and a new beyond visual range (BVR) capability via the Rafael Derby AAM. It also added Link 16 data link, the Rafael Litening targeting pod and the RecceLite reconnaissance pod.

In addition to the ten upgrades, the FAC also purchased ten additional single-seaters that were mothballed in the Negev desert, plus three upgraded two-seaters, which became TC12s. Some upgraded single-seaters lack only the new radar and are known as C12s.

With one Kfir TC12 having crashed in July 2009 prior to acceptance (and subsequently replaced by IAI) the FAC was ultimately in possession of 20 Kfir C10/C12s and three TC12 two-seaters (another two TC12 attrition losses in 2010 and 2014 were similarly replaced from Israeli stocks). The jets are now referred to locally as Kfir COA (single-seat) and Kfir COD (dual-seat).

Industry support

Israeli industry has played a significant role in supporting and advancing Colombia’s Kfir force. There is a very noticeable Rafael presence at Palanquero, with the C10s toting the company’s long-range Derby and Python 5 missiles. Rafael markets both these weapons as a cost- effective package for lightweight fighters.

In addition to increased air-to-air weapons, Rafael also integrated its Spice 1000 GPS- guided munition. This can be added to a Mk83 bomb and effectively works like a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kit. Spice has the added advantage that if it encounters GPS jamming, it can be guided by either image matching or by electro-optical targeting, which ultimately provides excellent mission flexibility.

Most of the Kfirs are able to carry the Rafael Litening targeting pod and, for more complex strike missions, the two-seaters can be used and crewed with a `combat navigator’ in the back, often to gain proficiency with the similar RecceLite pod.

Future force

Despite their age, Colombia’s Kfirs are at the top of their game and the Colombian military holds a lofty reputation in Latin America. The FAC foresees the Kfir in its current state as a viable platform until at least 2025. While Venezuela to the east holds little real threat in terms of current capabilities, an increasing Russian relationship is troubling. Indeed, in recent years this has actively tested Colombia’s air defences. Back in 2013, Russian Tu-160 Blackjacks were intercepted by FAC Kfirs near Colombian airspace. It means the FAC must not only tackle domestic uncertainly, but also international threats to its borders.

Maj Freddy `Stuka’ Figueroa is the current Kfir squadron commanding officer. He told AFM that the FAC is well aware of its neighbour’s troop mobilisations, as well as high-speed flights in the vicinity of the border, but he stressed that such incidents are handled via diplomatic channels, not military ones.

Figueroa speaks highly of the 2018 Red Flag detachment, which took six jets to America for 38 days, starting at Barranquilla on July 2, with the last aircraft landing back at Palanquero on August 9, all supported by the FAC’s KC-767 Jupiter multi- role tanker transport and 130 personnel.

Their first stop was Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, for Relampago, a work-up exercise for Red Flag. Summing up, the squadron’s CO felt that Red Flag in the blistering heat of July provided the Kfirs with not only a first-class tactical training exercise for the pilots, but also a unique logistical experience for the squadron deploying en masse. It encompassed everything from maintaining the jets to managing public relations messaging, all the time working hand-in-hand with the USAF.

However, the main purpose was to really challenge the new Kfir equipment and capabilities in a realistic combat environment on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). It was also about interoperability, following NATO rules and standards alongside partner nations and allies, all the while strengthening Colombia’s partnership with the US.

Previous exercises such as this have led directly to the FAC modifying its practices and procedures and there is no doubt that Red Flag 18-3 will be no exception.

As the Kfir enters its fourth decade of service in Colombia, it’s safe to assume the FAC will maintain its stature in the region, maintained in part by flying one of the most technologically advanced fighters on the continent.

Campanian Cavalry

These men are excellent heavy cavalry, skillful at skirmishing tactics, fast enough to outrun cavalry, good at flanking charges and quite capable in melee thanks to their heavy armor, armor-piercing Kopis sword and their good shields.

Samnite, Campanian and Lucanian warriors. In a number of hard-fought battles, the Romans defeated the Latin League, taking away the sovereignty of their states, who subsequently assimilated into Latium. The consul, Lucius Furius Camillus, asked the Senate: “Do you wish to adopt ruthless measures against a people that have surrendered and been defeated? … Or do you wish to follow the example of your ancestors and make Rome greater by conferring her citizenship on those whom she has defeated.

The Campanians were reckoned amongst the best cavalry in Italy – probably second only in reputation to the famous horsemen of Taras. Italian and Roman cavalry fought with little armour during the 4th and 3rd Centuries, preferring mobility and to use javelins (where-as the Macedonian tradition favoured the lance and ‘contact’). Polybius goes so far as to say that Roman Cavalry equipment was inferior to Greek equipment, and was changed to be more Hellenic following contact with the likes of Pyrrhus and the Successor Kingdoms (as well as the Hellenized Carthaginians). This change probably took place towards the end of the 2nd Punic War, as the roman and Italian Cavalry had been badly mauled by the Carthaginians.

From the 8th century BC, when Greeks settlers established trading posts along Italy’s eastern seaboard in the vicinity of modern-day Naples, the region of Campania was part of Magna Graecia. It remained so, a stalwart of Hellenistic civilisation, until its aggressive Samnite neighbours began to migrate from their mountainous homelands, displacing the Greek culture and language prevalent there. In a land famed for its sweeping landscapes – ideal for the breeding of strong horses – the emergent Campanian nobility developed their renowned cavalry. Carrying heavy javelins for skirmishing and swords for melee, they used speed, agility and flexibility of tactics to inflict damage on more heavily armed, and therefore slower moving, opponents. Following the Samnite Wars with Rome, around the beginning of the 3rd century BC, Campanians provided the basis of the Socii cavalry attached to Roman Legions. Well-trained in their people’s equestrian traditions, they were highly valued horsemen and greatly respected warriors.

Livy wrote of two Roman cavalrymen during these years who defeated Campanian opponents in single combat . These accounts are important because they preserve the Roman need for moral victories at this time and are emphasized precisely because they ran counter to the general pattern of Campanian victories. The Roman heroes proved that the enemy cavalry would not alway be victorious. In the first duel Cerrinus Vibellius Aurea. the finest of all the Campanian horsemen, challenged Claudius Asellus, his former comrade and the finest of all the Roman horsemen. The two riders wheeled and dodged one another for a time without landing a blow. At last, Taurea challenged his opponent to jump into a narrow ditch nearby where there would be no room for evasion. Claudius accepted the challenge without hesitation, but Taurea balked and returned to his ranks. The second duel happened several years later. A recently successful sortie by Campanian and Carthaginian cavalry had damaged Roman morale T. Quinctius Crispinus restored Roman morale by defeating the Campanian Badius in a cavalry duel. The two had been guest friends, but Badius renounced his ties and challenged Crispinus to battle. Crispinus transfixed his spear in Badius shoulder, but Badius fled and avoided his deathblow. Crispinus returned to the Roman camp with the arms and horse of his foe and received praise and

The year 211 seems to have been the beginning of a turning point for the Roman cavalry as Livy’s account of the creation of ne velites in 211 suggests. According to Livy, the quickest of the light infantry armed themselves with small shields and seven javelins. Each cavalry trooper transported one of these soldiers to within missile range of the enemy. The light infantry dismounted and charged while casting their javelins in quick succession against the enemy soldiers and horses. The cavalry followed up with a charge and pursued the fleeing Capuans to the city gates against the enemy soldiers and horses.

Livy incorrectly believed that the Romans first used velites at this time; actually, light infantry had accompanied the legions well before 211. Nevertheless, there is no compelling reason to doubt that the Romans were combining light infantry and cavalry in this manner at this time. This passage suggests the Romans were attempting to develop innovative tactics to help their cavalry overcome the opposing cavalry. Livy asserted this tactic ended the dominance of the Campanian cavalry. Certainly, the Romans had reduced Capua by 211, and the Campanian horse no longer posed a problem.

Socii infantry and cavalry Soldiers of roman army in early era of Republic.

Equites Campanici (Campanian Cavalry)

Equites Campanici are renowned as the finest horsemen in Italy, with the Samnites their only true rivals. They ride stout, if small, war horses and are well trained. They are famed for their skirmishing tactics, charging, retreating, and charging home again, engaging in melee only when they fight small groups of isolated enemies. These men wear bronze armor, have stout greaves, and carry javelins and the Greek Kopis sword with which to perform their deadly efficient work.

Historically, Campania was ever a rich region in Italy. Blessed with a fair amount of flat terrain, the horse farms of the nobility provided a steady stream of cavalry with which to protect the capital, Capua. Their final demise happened during the Second Punic War, when Rome took the city after it had gone over to the Carthaginians. Its male population were put to the sword or sold into slavery, ending the great tradition of cavalry.

The Samnites

When the Carthaginian had spoken thus, Kaiso replied: `This is what we Romans are like . . . [W]ith those who make war on us we agree to fight on their terms, and when it comes to foreign practices we surpass those who have long been used to them. For the Tyrrhenians used to make war on us with bronze shields and fighting in phalanx formation, not in maniples; and we, changing our armament and replacing it with theirs, organised our forces against them, and contending thus against men who had long been accustomed to phalanx battles we were victorious. Similarly the Samnite shield was not part of our national equipment, nor did we have javelins, but fought with rounds shields and spears; nor were we strong in cavalry, but all or nearly all of Rome’s strength lay in infantry. But when we found ourselves at war with the Samnites we armed ourselves with their oblong shields and javelins, and fought against them on horseback, and by copying foreign arms we became masters of those who thought so highly of themselves. Ineditum Vaticanum, ed. H. von Arnim, “Ineditum Vaticanum,” Hermes 27 (1892): 118-30 (= Jacoby FGrHist 839 F. 1), 3, in Cornell’s translation, Beginnings of Rome (n. 1), 170. Cf. Diod., 23.2.1; Ath. 6.273 e-f; Sall. Cat. 51.37-38.

Map showing expansion of Roman sphere of influence from the Latin War (340–338 BC) to the defeat of the Insubres (222 BC).

The Samnites were the archetypal warriors of the ver sacrum (Sacred Spring). Claiming descent from the Sabines (hence the Samnites and other Oscan speakers were known as Sabelli or Sabellians) they believed that a bull sent by Mamers guided them to their homeland in the southern central Apennines. They divided into four tribes, the Pentri, Caudini, Caraceni and Hirpini. The latter took their name from Mamers’ hirpus (wolf), which they followed in a subsequent ver sacrum. The four tribes cooperated in a military alliance.

They fought long and hard against the Romans in a series of wars from 343 BC to 272 BC, and were the only Italian nation whose military qualities the Romans feared. According to Livy they were warlike, brave and resolute even in adversity. Their main strength was in swift moving javelin-armed infantry, organised in cohorts and legions. Many of them being armoured. Their preferred tactic was to surround an enemy and pelt him with javelins while avoiding hand-to-hand contact. If possible they would ambush the enemy rather than risk a pitched battle. The wooded hills of their home territory were ideally suited to such tactics. However, they were prepared to fight it out in the open if necessary.

In 354 BC the Samnite League sent an embassy to Rome, requesting friendship and alliance between their peoples. According to Livy, the Samnites were prompted to do so because they were impressed by a Roman victory over Tarquinii, but Rome’s reduction of the Hernici in 358 BC would have been of more interest to the Samnites; the victory over Tarquinii merely reinforced the growing reputation of Roman military prowess. However, the allies fell out in 343 BC when the Samnites attempted to expand west into northern Campania and the territory of the Sidicini, and Capua, the leading Campanian city-state, appealed to Rome for help against the invaders. The Romans scented an opportunity to massively expand their little empire and renounced the treaty with the Samnite League.

The Romans sent priests called fetiales to the border of Samnium, perhaps in the vicinity of Sora, where the chief fetial declared war by symbolically casting a spear into the territory of the enemy. The consul Valerius the Raven (Corvus) was assigned the war in Campania, while his colleague Cornelius the Greasy (Arvina) invaded Samnium. The Raven pushed south to Mount Gaurus, in the hills above Puteoli, drawing the Samnite army away from Capua. The Samnites were defeated after a long struggle, requiring the heroic Valerius to dismount from his horse and lead a counter-attack on foot, and they withdrew from Campania.

Meanwhile, Cornelius the Greasy had advanced into the territory of the Caudini located immediately east of Capua. In the vicinity of Saticula his army was trapped in a heavily wooded defile; this was a favourite tactic of the Samnite mountain men. However, Cornelius’ army was extricated by a military tribune, Publius Decius Mus. Tradition asserted that before the Samnites completed the encirclement and closed in, the military tribune led the hastati and principes of the consular legion (2,400 legionaries) through the woodland to a hill above the enemy; distracted by Mus’ sudden appearance on the hill, the rest of the consul’s army was able to escape. The dauntless Decius was now surrounded by the full Samnite army (apparently numbering in excess of 30,000 warriors), but during the night the tribune led his legionaries down the hill, broke through the encirclement and reunited with the consul’s army. In the morning the Samnites, still disorganized from the confusion resulting from Decius’ escape, were surprised by the Romans and soundly defeated. Decius was where the fighting was thickest, claiming that he had been inspired by a dream in which he achieved immortal fame by dying gloriously in battle. It has been suggested that Decius’ peculiar cognomen, Mus, meaning ‘rat’, derived from his exploits at Saticula, perhaps because he dared to fight at night, a most unusual enterprise for a Roman commander.

Despite these two heavy defeats the Samnite League was not ready to throw in the towel. A new army of 40,000 men (another exaggeration of the later Roman sources) was raised from the populous tribes of Samnium, and it established a camp by Suessula, a city on the eastern edge of the Campanian plain. The army of Cornelius Arvina had evidently withdrawn from the territory of the Caudini, and it fell to the Raven to fight this last battle of the campaign. He marched from his camp at Mount Gaurus and overcame this new Samnite army as well. Suessula was located at the mouth of a valley that led to the Caudine Forks, an important pass into western Samnium. The defeated Samnites presumably retreated by way of the Forks into the country of the Caudini and Hirpini and thence to their homes, but the Raven did not follow. He was sensible not to. The Suessulans may have informed him that the pass was the perfect spot to trap an army and he had no desire to repeat the error of his colleague.

The consuls returned to Rome to celebrate triumphs (21 and 22 September 343 BC) and news of their victories spread quickly across Italy. The Faliscans were prompted to seek a formal treaty of friendship and alliance (foedus) with their old enemy, perhaps fearing that if they simply maintained the forty years’ truce imposed on them in 351 BC, the bellicose Romans would find an excuse to declare war and seize their territory. The news also travelled overseas. Ambassadors from Carthage arrived in Rome, keen to bolster the alliance of 348 BC, full of congratulations for the victories over the Samnites and bearing the not inconsiderable gift of a gold crown weighing 25 pounds. However, the war was not over and substantial Roman garrisons were installed in Capua and Suessula to protect them from Samnite incursions.

In 342 BC the Samnites nursed their wounds. The scale of their defeats could not have been as great as Livy’s account suggests, but the Romans had administered a serious blow to their military prestige and confidence. Samnite manpower in 225 BC (by which time their territory was very much reduced) is reported by the reliable Polybius as 70,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry. Afzelius and Cornell have estimated the population of Samnium in the middle of the fourth century BC at around 450,000 persons, and the report of the geographer Strabo that the Samnites had 80,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry may belong to this period. Strabo’s manpower figures would represent somewhat less than 20 per cent of the estimated population. The total number of adult males, including seniores, would have been well in excess of 100,000, but these figures are misleading and should be regarded as potential reserves of manpower rather than the number of warriors the Samnite League could mobilize at one time. If the Samnites had lost 30,000 men at Saticula and suffered similarly enormous casualties at Mount Gaurus and Suessula, as Livy’s accounts suggest, then their military power would have been utterly broken and their rural economies, which required men to tend crops and herds, would have collapsed.

The strengths of the consuls’ armies are not attested. It is uncertain if the practice of enrolling two legions per consular army was yet in effect. It is generally believed that the regular strength of a consular army was raised from one to two legions in 311 BC. However, because the Romans could not draw on any substantial Latin manpower in the 340s BC, it may be that extra consular legions were raised. Campanian levies would have bolstered the Roman legions, and the aristocratic cavalrymen of Capua and the other cities were famed for their martial prowess. The number of soldiers in a consular army may be estimated at 9,000 – 18,000, that is one or two legions of c. 4,500 (4,200 infantry plus 300 cavalry) and an equal number of Campanians. The Samnite armies were probably of similar size.

An introduction to Samnite Warfare

Lockheed Hudson Series

The introduction of the small Lockheed airliners in the mid-1930s pulled the company back from the brink of penury, and set the Burbank-based manufacturer on the road to recovery. When war came, the shortage of patrol bombers and fast transports immediately became apparent and Lockheed grasped the opportunity with both hands.

By 1932 the Lockheed company was on the brink of financial disaster, with the federal receiver valuing the company’s assets at a mere $129,961 and putting it up for sale. While founder Allan Loughead sought cash to buy his old concern, broker and banker Robert Ellsworth Gross snapped up the almost defunct aviation company for a fabled $40,000. Like many other entrepreneurs, Gross knew little of the intimate aspects of aeronautical engineering, but possessed a sound business mind and a growing fascination with the new wave of commercial air transports that daily plied the US domestic air space. With well measured consideration Gross predicted that the company’s future lay not in the production of mail- planes, or even in the military field, but in the development of fast and relatively small commuter and feederliner aircraft with an eventual eye to challenging the dominance of the new Boeing and Douglas aircraft. Gross brought with him Hall Hibbard, a young Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautical engineer, who, with Lloyd Stearman, started to work on various designs that might be able to gain an entry into a difficult and demanding market, but it was Gross who steered the project on to the lines of a small, all-metal, twin- engine commercial transport. The design team was joined by George Prudden and James Gerschler, and later by C. L. ‘Kelly’ Johnson, who gave an early display of his brilliance by solving the wind-tunnel asymmetry problems of the new Lockheed design, now known as the Model L-10.

Roll-out for the Lockheed Model L-10 Electra took place on 23 February 1934. It was a beautiful little twin-engine aircraft, resplendent in glistening polished natural aluminium. Power came from two 336-kW (450-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB radials, cabin and crew seats numbered 12, empty weight was 2928 kg (6,454 lb), and the gross weight was 4672 kg (10,300 lb). Tests gave a maximum speed of 325 km/h (202 mph), and a spanking maximum continuous cruising speed of 306 km/h (190 mph). After exhaustive tests the prototype L-10 Electra was flown by Marshall Headle to Mines Field, Los Angeles, for FAA certification which was granted a few weeks later. On the return to Burbank a heart-stopping incident took place. Up to the time of the L-10’s first flight Lockheed had gone into debt for $139,404 for its development, and as its priceless prototype, newly certificated, made its approach all attempts by the crew to lower one of the main wheels ended in stubborn failure: only a skilfully-handled one-wheel landing at nearby Union Air Terminal by pilot Headle, with minimal damage to the Electra, prevented a major lay-off of the work force and the renewal of financial straits. There the matter rested. Sales of the Model L-10 Electra rocketed, with examples going to Mid-Continent Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Northeast Airlines, Cia Nacional Cubana, Pan American Airways, Panairdo Brasil, Braniff Airways, National Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, Chicago and Southern, LAV (Venezuela), LOT (Poland), LARES (Romania), AEROPUT (Yugoslavia), LAN-Chile, and to a host of private buyers including Amelia Earhart. An L-10 Electra was the seventh Lockheed aircraft successfully to fly the Atlantic Ocean when Dick Merill and John Lambie flew NR16055 on a round-trip to London to collect photos of King George VI’s coronation in 1937. Also that year, somewhere in the Pacific ocean wastes between Lae, New Guinea and Howland Island, aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator disappeared for ever during a record attempt in their L-10 Electra. A total of 149 L-10s was built and delivered between 29June 1934 and 18 July 1941, and many saw military service in the RCAF and Argentine navy, and with the US Army, US Navy and US Coast Guard designated as C-36, C-37, R20 and R30 sub-types.

Bigger and better

The interim Model L-12 Electra Junior was taken into the air for the first time by Marshall Headle at 1212 on 27June 1936, exactly on the scheduled time. By now business was booming, with Lockheed getting $2 million worth of orders in the previous year. Price-tagged at $40,000 the Model L-12, with six-seat capacity, was aimed squarely at the business and commuter markets, and in fact was a scaled-down version of its predecessor with two Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB radials. Grossing 3924 kg (8,650 lb), the Electra Junior’s top speed was 362 km/h (225 mph) and service ceiling 6800 m (22,300 ft). Its performance and handling qualities exceeded those of the majority of contemporary fighters, and it became another good seller. Several records fell to the Model L-12, including a new route average of 388 km/h (210 mph) by test pilot E. C. McLead, despite four fuel stops, from Amsterdam to India on a delivery flight of a L-12 for the Maharaja of Jodhpur. A total of 130 Model L-12s was built before work stopped in mid-1942.

Incorporating many of the latest aviation developments, the larger and more powerful Lockheed Model L-14 Super Electra took to the air for the first time on 29 June 1937. New features on this 14-seat aircraft included use of 24SRT duralumin, high-speed aerofoil (NACA 23018 and 23009 at root and tip respectively), single main spar, and high wing loading, massive Lockheed-Fowler flaps, and two of the latest Wright Cyclone engines, the GR-1820-G3B. With an empty weight of4854 kg (10,700 lb) and a gross of 7938 kg (17,500lb), the new L-14 had a top speed of 414 km/h (257 mph): its cruising speed was some 48 km/h (30 mph) faster than that of any other commercial transport in the United States and, at a cruise speed of 381 km/h (237 mph), the Super Electra cut the West Coast-New York flight time of the Douglas DC-3 by four hours. Such was the reputation of the company that even before roll-out over 30 L-14s were on the order book, and the aircraft itself was soon to justify all expectations. Millionaire Howard Hughes purchased a Model L-14, and increased tankage from the normal 3438 to 6980 litres (644 to 1,844 US gal) for a round-the-world record attempt. Departing from New York on 10 July 1938, Hughes and his crew flew via Paris, Moscow, Yakutsk, Fairbanks and Minneapolis to land at Floyd Bennett Field after a 23670-km (14,709-mile) flight achieved within the time of three days, 17 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds. The 112 Model L-14s are remembered today as the progenitors of what was to be one of Lockheed’s most successful warplanes. Licence production of the L-14 in Japan amounted to 64 by Tachikawa and 55 by Kawasaki.

Enter the Hudson

To the United States in April 1938 came the British Purchasing Commission in search of good-quality American aircraft to bolster the strength of the Royal Air Force in its preparation for an inevitable war: the mission had $25 million with which to acquire its finds. At that time Lockheed engaged only 2,000 workers, and had eschewed the design of military types in favour of the commercial market. But in 10 days of frantic labour the concern had cobbled together some- thing that might whet the appetites of the commission: this was nothing other than a mockup of a Model L-14 provided with bomb- bay, bomb-aimer’s panel and nose glazing, and provision for various armaments. The British, with a need for a medium-range maritime patrol bomber for North Sea operations with RAF Coastal Command, were impressed. At the invitation of Sir Henry Self, the contracts director at the Air Ministry in London, Courtlandt Gross (brother of Robert Gross) travelled to the UK with Carl Squier, C. L. Johnson, Robert Proctor and R. A. van Hake for consultations. The initial order for 175 Model B14s, now known as the Hudson, was signed on 23June 1938, with provision of up to a maximum of 250 by December 1939: it was the largest military order gained by a US company to date. The first Hudson Mk I bomber took to the air on 10 December 1938, with the company, now numbering a work force of 7,000, hard at work to fill the orders which rose in value with additional orders for P-38s and B-34s to an impressive $65 million. Arriving by sea, the first Hudson Mk Is reached the UK on 15 February 1939. The type was powered by two 820-kW (1,100-hp) Wright GR-1820-G102A Cyclones with two-speed Hamilton propellers. For reconnaissance duties the Hudson Mk I carried an F. 24 camera, assorted flares and a bombload of up to 499 kg (1,100 lb) comprising either four 114-kg (250-lb) GP, SAP or AS, or 10 50-kg (110-lb) anti-submarine bombs; an overload of 12 51-kg (112-lb) Mk VIIc AS bombs could be carried, but in this event the bomb doors could not be fully closed. Modified with extra items at the Lockheed- Vega subsidiary at Speke (Liverpool), the first Hudson Mk Is and Mk IIs (the latter differing in the installation of Hamilton Standard Type 611A-12/3E50-253 constant-speed propellers) were delivered to Wing Commander E. A. Hodgson’s No. 224 Squadron at Leuchars, Scotland, in August 1939. Although less manoeuvrable than the lighter Avro Anson, the Hudson was considered by the squadron to be eminently suitable for its patrols over the North Sea as far as Norway, the Skaggerak and the German Bight. Cruising at 610 m(2,000 ft) at 306 km/h (190 mph), a fuel consumption of 323 litres (71 Imp Gal) per hour gave the Hudson an endurance of over six hours with 20 per cent reserves and a 917-km (570-mile) radius of action. Armament was light initially, and the twin 7.7-mm (0.303-in) nose guns, beam guns and the Boulton Paul Type ‘C Mk II turret were retrofitted during the autumn of 1939 and the spring of 1940.

With the outbreak of war the Hudsons of RAF Coastal Command were among the first RAF aircraft to go into action, and the first combat with a German aircraft was recorded on 4 September 1939, when No. 224 Squadron’s T-Tommy (N7214), captained by Flying Officer H. D. Green, engaged a Dornier Do 18 over the Dogger Bank. In addition to No. 224 Squadron, Nos 206, 269, 233, 320 and 220 Squadrons were equipped with Hudsons during 1939-40. Much action was seen off Norway during the Altmark incident and the sub- sequent German invasion of Scandinavia, and over the Channel during the Dunkirk evacuations, in addition to patrol work over the western approaches and the North Sea. During 1941 RAF and RCAF Hudsons, operating from the UK, Iceland and Newfoundland, con- ducted a difficult war against the U-Boat menace: on 27 August 1941 a Hudson of No. 269 Squadron from Kaldadarnes forced the crew of the U-570 to surrender after repeated attacks. Use of the Hudson was not limited to the RAF and RCAF, and in early 1942 US Army A-28s and A-29s, and US Navy PBO-1s did much work along the eastern seaboard of the United States, while in the Far East those of Nos 1 and 8 Squadrons, RAAF fought well against great odds during the Japanese invasions of Malaya, Java and Burma. Six primary marks of Hudson, engaged in maritime and transport work, emanated from Lockheed’s 2,941 examples made up to June 1943 when production ceased, seeing service on all Anglo-American war fronts.

The Model 18 progeny

A direct development of the LT4 series, the Lockheed L-18 Lode- star first flew on 21 September 1939: the fuselage had been stretched by 1.68 m(5 ft 6 in), and to minimise tail flutter the elevator was raised slightly. By the end of 1940 some 54 of the 17-seat Model 18s had been sold to such varied customers as Mid Continent (first to buy the $90,000 aircraft), Regie Air Afrique and the Netherlands East Indies, BOAC and South African Airways. During World War II the Model 18 series was adopted by the US Army and the US Navy as a transport: US Army versions included the C-56 (in models up to C-56E), C-57 and C-57B, C-59, C-60 and C-60A, C-66 and C-lll, all of which featured differences either in engines, seating or ancillary equipment. Naval versions included the R50 (in models up to R50-6), while the RAF used Lodestar Mks I, IA and II models.

In response to a request from the British, Vega Aircraft Corporation developed a military version of the Model L-18 series which was employed by the RAF as the Ventura, by the US Army Air Force as the B-34 and B-37, and by the US Navy as the FV-1 patrol bomber. All were powered by two 1492-kW (2,000-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 radials, with the exception of the RAF’s Ventura Mk I which had Pratt & Whitney R-2800-S1A4G engines, and the few B-37s which featured Wright R-26(X)-13s. The first Ventura Mk I flew on 31July 1941 and, together with the up-rated Mk II and Mk IIA versions, entered service with No. 2 (Bomber) Group in November 1942. On daylight missions over France and the Low Countries the Ventura fared badly against the dangerous Focke-Wulf Fw 190As of the Luftwaffe, and losses to flak and enemy fighters were consistently high. During the summer of 1943 the type was withdrawn from No. 2 Group, its place being taken by North American Mitchells and Douglas Boston Mk IIIA bombers. The B-34s of the USAAF saw little action, while the B-37 (Ventura Mk III) saw none at all. In the Solomons and South Pacific area Ventura Mk IVs and GR. Mk Vs of the RNZAF saw considerable action against the Japanese bastions at Kavieng and Rabaul, and proved their worth. The last-mentioned marks were known in the US Navy as PV-ls, of which 1,800 were built. Carrying a crew of four or five, the PV-1 weighed in at 9161 kg (20,197 lb) empty and 14097 kg (31,077 lb) gross, and was capable of a maximum speed of 502 km/h (312 mph) at 4205 m (13,800 ft). Armament consisted of two forward-firing 12.7-mm (0.5-in) guns, two more guns of the same calibre in a Martin CE250 dorsal turret, and two 7.62-mm (0.3-in) guns in the ventral position; up to four 454-kg (1,000-lb) bombs could be stowed internally, with another two under the wings, while an alternative was a single Model 13 Mk II torpedo. US Navy PV-ls operated from Aleutian bases during 1943-45 in all weathers on anti-shipping strikes and attacks on the Japanese bases at Paramushiro and Shimushu, and fought off frequent aggressive attacks by the Mitsubishi A6M3 Reisens of the 13th Koku Kantai (Air Fleet) which defended the area. The PV-1 more than compensated for the relatively poor showing by the Ventura in Europe, and performed useful service in all sectors of the Pacific.

The final version of this long and successful series of the Lockheed twins that had started the little Model L-10 in 1934 was the PV-2 Har- poon maritime patrol bomber. In this model the fuselage and tail unit were redesigned, and the wing span increased from 19.96 m (65 ft 6 in) to 22.86 m (75 ft). The first flight of the PV-2 took place on 3 December 1943, the first aircraft being delivered to US Navy squadrons in March 1944 for action from Aleutian bases. Wing flexing problems added to production difficulties, but the PV-2 saw out the war and continued to serve in naval reserve wings for many years afterwards.

Lockheed twin-engine variants

Lockheed Model L 10 Electra: all-metal, twin-engine 10-seat L-10 introduced into commercial service in 1934, 149 aircraft built. Lockheed Model L-10A had two 298-kW(400-hpl Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Juniors, Lockheed Model L-10B two 313 kW (420 hp) Wright Whirlwinds, Model L-10C two 336-kW (450-hpl Wasp SCIs, and Model L-10E two 336-kW (450-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engines, in service with US Army, US Navy and US Coast Guard as the C-36/C-37, R20 and R30 respectively

Lockheed Model L-12 Electra Junior: introduced in 1936 with six-seat capacity for business use, with two Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB Wasp Juniors as the Model L-12A, 130 built, service with the US Navy as JO-1 and JJO-2 sub-types, and with the US Army as the C-40, C-40A and ex-civil UC-40D; military nose-wheel trainers (one each) as the XJO-3 (US Navy) and C-40B (US Army), eight out of 13 Model 212 military trainers delivered to Royal Netherlands Indies Air Division in Java in 1942. other variants were the Model L-12B with 328-kW 1440-hp) Wright R-975-E3d radials, and the Model 12-25 with 336-kW (450-hp) Wasp Junior SB3 radials

Lockheed Model L-14 Super Electra: introduced in 1937 with 12-seat capacity for commercial duties, with two 559-kW (750-hp) Pratt & Whitney Hornets (Model L-14H) or various models of Wright Cyclones (Model L-14W and Model L-14N. the latter only for private owners), typical late-production L-14 had 14-seat configuration with two Wright GR-1820-G3B engines, became the progenitor of the military Hudson, A-28. A-29 and PBO-1 series, impressed Model L-14Ws were designated C-111. while Japanese production produced the Army Type LO Transport

Lockheed Model 14B Hudson Mk I: general-purpose patrol bomber with two 745-kW (1.000-hp) Wright GR-1820-G102A engines with two-speed Hamilton-Standard propellers, in service with RAF Coastal Command in mid-1939

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk II: as Mk I but with Hamilton Standard 611A-12/3 constant-speed propellers, standard armament included twin 7 7-mm (0 303-in) forward-firing machine-guns, two beam guns and twin- gunned Boulton Paul Type C Mk II dorsal turret, pilot and fuel tank armour

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk III: two Wright GR-1820-G205A Cyclones each rated at 895-kW (1.200-hp) and Hamilton-Standard hydromatic propellers defined this prolific version which introduced a ventral gun position Hudson Mk IIIA (US Army designation A-29) powered by two 895-kW (1,200-hpl Wright R-1820-87 Cyclones, and designated the PBO-1 by US Navy, the A-29A had a convertible troop-transport interior, and the A-29B was a photographic- survey version, the AT-18 and AT-18A were gunnery and navigation trainers respectively

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk IV: two Pratt & Whitney R-1820-SC3G Twin Wasp engines, primarily for RAAF service, but a few to the RAF, no ventral gun position. US Army designation was A-28 (two R-1830-45S), becoming Hudson Mk IVA in RAAF service

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk V: two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC34G engines with Hamilton Type 6227A-0 propellers, and the ventral gun position Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk VI: two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-67s. US Army designation A-28A

Lockheed Model L-18 Lodestar: direct development of the Model L-14, with crew of three and 14 passengers, powerplant comprised Pratt & Whitney S1E-3G Hornets, or Pratt & Whitney SC-3G Twin Wasps, or S4C-4G Twin Wasps, or Wright GR-1820- G102As, or GR-1820-202AS or GR-1820- G205As, naval transport versions designated R50-1, RSO-4, R50-5 and R50-6. US Army versions were the C-56, C-57. C-59, C-60 and C-66, RAF versions were the Lodestar Mks I, IA and II

Kawasaki Ki-56 (Army Type 1 Transport): the Japanese produced the Lockheed L-14WG3 under licence, and with refinements, two 708-kW (950-hpl Army 99 (Nakajima Ha-25) engines, in service with the JAAF in 1940. 121 built

Lockheed B-34 (Model 37): military patrol bomber developed from the Model 18 series to RAF specification, and designated the Ventura Mk I in RAF service (Model 37- 21); two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-S1A4G engines rated at 1379 kW (1.850-hp), the Ventura Mk II (Model 37 27) was powered by two R 2800-31 engines. RAF also used the Ventura Mk IIA (Model 37-127) and Ventura GR. Mk V, US Army designations were B-34 and B-37. with definitive maritime version, the PV-1 (Model 237) (alias Ventura GR Mk V). serving in the US Navy

Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon (Model 15): development of US Navy’s PV-1, with completely redesigned airframe, two 1492-kW (2,000-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 engines, produced or converted in additional PV-2C, PV-2D and PV-2T sub-types Lockheed PV-3 Harpoon: designation of 27 Ventura Mk IIs retained by US Navy

Hellenistic/Diadochi/Greek Wars 322–146 BCE


A battle in Media during the War of the Successors between the Macedonian forces of Eumenes of Cardia and Antigonus Monopthlamus. Eumenes anticipated Antigonus’s river crossing, inflicting casualties, but failing to stop his rival’s advance.


Final battle in Media between Eumenes of Cardia and Antigonus Monopthalmus. After Antigonus captured Eumenes’ supplies, Macedonian elite forces, the Argyraspids, betrayed Eumenes to Antigonus, who rid himself of a formidable rival by executing him.

■ GAZA, 312 BCE

Decisive strategic defeat for Antigonus Monopthalmus by the combined armies of Ptolemy and Seleucus. Antigonus’s son, Demetrius, lost a large-scale battle near the city, costing his father control of Syria and hope of conquering Egypt.


Demetrius Poliorcetes with 118 warships held 60 ships of Ptolemy blockaded at their Cyprian base with just 10 vessels, defeating 140 relieving Egyptian galleys at sea with the remainder. Demetrius’s victorious left rolled up the Egyptian centre.


Successful Antigonid storming of Ptolemy’s Cyprian naval base by Demetrius Poliorcetes. Demetrius employed sea-borne catapults and a moving multi-storey siege tower against the Egyptian defenders. The capture of Salamis much improved the Antigonid position in the Mediterranean.


An epic siege in which Demetrius Poliorcetes and his siege train failed to reduce the island democracy’s capital. Demetrius’s monster terrestrial and naval siege engines met equivalent responses from the defenders, supplied by the Antigonids’ rivals.

■ IPSOS, 304 BCE

Catastrophic defeat of the Antigonid Empire in Asia, leading to the death of Antigonus Monophthalmus and Demetrius Poliorcetes’ retreat to the islands and port cities of the eastern Mediterranean. The battle took place in eastern Central Asia Minor near where Lysimachus, ruler of Thrace, successfully eluded Antigonus’s army in a southward march. Lysimachus rendezvoused with Seleucus, who had ceded Alexander’s conquest in India to obtain 480 elephants, which he had transported at tremendous expense across Persia. The two allies combined 64,000 foot, 10,500 cavalry and 120 chariots to move against Antigonus’s 70,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 75 elephants. Demetrius’s initial charge with the cavalry succeeded, but Demetrius was unable to prevent the allied infantry and elephants from crushing his father’s infantry and body in the resulting disaster. Their success in this battle prompted the popularity of elephants in Hellenistic warfare.


A Greek confederation failed to hold the pass against the Gauls under Brennus seeking to move into and plunder the cities of Greece. After a repulse, the Gauls bypassed the defenders, who evacuated by sea.


Decisive defeat in late summer of Lysimachus, 80, by Seleucus, 77, invading Thrace from Asia Minor. In this final battle between Alexander’s former generals, the armies fought in western Asia Minor. Lysimachus perished in the fighting.


Naval victory off the Greek coast by the Macedonian fleet of Antigonus Gonatus over the Egyptian squadron of Ptolemy II. Antigonus, 73, employed some of the largest vessels ever in combat in the ancient world.


Two battles lost by the Aetolians under Pyrrhias attempting to defend their capital against Philip V of Macedon’s advance southwards. Support from Attalus of Pergamon and a thousand Roman marines did not prevent the defeats.


The battle of Mantinea was caused by an attack by Machanidas, the tyrant of Sparta, against Philopoemen and the Achaean League, mustering in the nearby city. Machinadas’s catapults scattered the Achaean mercenaries, but Philopoemen, rallying his forces on better ground, defeated and killed Machanidas.

■ CHIOS, 201 BCE

Large fleet action between the navies of Philip V of Macedon and the Rhodians and Attalus of Pergamon. The Macedonians recovered from initial reverses, but Philip had to abandon his effort to capture neighbouring Samos.

■ LADE, 201 BCE

Naval defeat by Philip V of Macedon of the Rhodian fleet as it sought to prevent his conquest of Rhodian possessions on the mainland opposite the island. The Rhodians afterwards appealed to Rome for aid.


Unsuccessful siege of Philip V’s southernmost fortress in Greece by the younger Flamininus and the fleets of Attalus of Pergamon and Rhodes. A naval bombardment breached the Macedonian defences, but a phalanx in the breach held.

■ AOUS, 198 BCE

Philip V’s fortified position preventing a juncture of Flamininus’s army with Rome’s Aetolian allies to the south. Flamininus found a local guide to take the Romans behind and above Philip’s lines, successfully routing the Macedonians.


Cynescephalae was the decisive battle of the Second Macedonian War, the set-piece clash of the Macedonian phalanx with the Roman manipular legion. Reinforced by veterans returning from Carthage, Flamininus took two legions in pursuit of Philip V’s full strength, consolidated in Thessaly for battle. Roman skirmishers and allied cavalry moving up one side of a ridge encountered their Macedonian counterparts, prompting Flamininus to launch an all-out assault before the Macedonian formations were fully ready for battle. Philip’s consolidated forces on the right formed a deep phalanx. This formation crested the ridge and drove down upon the legionaries, the long pikes of the Macedonians still proving effective in pushing the legionaries back. Flamininus took his elephants and unengaged right, rolling up the disorganized Macedonians opposite while the last line of the retreating legion took the Macedonians in flank, completing the rout with heavy casualties.


City of the Achaean League besieged by Nabis, tyrant of Sparta. Philopoemen and the League moved before the Romans could effectively intervene, striking against Nabis by land and sea. The Achaeans lost at sea to Nabis’s blockading squadron when a recommissioned war memorial foundered, and Gytheum fell. The Achaeans then destroyed Nabis’s disorganized forces in a night attack and besieged Sparta, while Roman marines captured Gytheum and imposed a peace.


Antiochus III, with 14,000 infantry and 500 cavalry, held the historic pass against Roman forces seeking to evict the Seleucids from Greece. Cato the Censor led a detachment around an unguarded trail, causing a disastrous rout.


Philip V’s heir Perseus’s efforts to restore Macedonian prestige in Greece led to friction and conflict with the Achaean League and Eumenes of Pergamon, both of whom were successful in drawing Rome’s attention back to the tense situation in the Balkans. Upon Rome’s declaration of hostilities, Perseus retreated behind the safety of his borders and prolonged the war with defensive campaigning. The strategy was a sensible one, which strained Rome’s alliances and supply streams. Perseus moved his forces into a strong position near his capital at Pydna and awaited Aemelius Paulus’s attack.

Two rivers protected the Macedonian flanks on the ridge where the phalanx awaited; Paulus accordingly was reluctant to engage. For unknown reasons Perseus’s phalanx charged down the hill into the Roman line, unsupported by their cavalry. A sacrificial stand by the Achaeans apparently created enough disorder for the Roman legionaries to cut their way in and utterly destroy the Macedonian army and empire.


Opening engagement of the Third Macedonian War. Perseus had 39,000 infantry and 4000 cavalry, while the Roman army of Licinius consisted of two legions containing 12,000 largely inexperienced Italian troops. Perseus forced the Romans to retreat.

■ PYDNA, 148 BCE

One Andriscus, claiming Perseus as his father, seized control of Macedonia in 149. After defeating a legion under Juventius Thalna, two legions under Caecilius Metellus crushed Andriscus near the capital of Pydna. Rome then annexed Macedonia.


Site of the Achaean League’s last effort against Roman domination of Greece; the army of Consul L. Mummius obliterated the League’s final levy and levelled the ancient and prosperous city, selling its inhabitants into slavery.

With morale restored, Pyrrhus deployed his war elephants, which the Romans had never before encountered. The Roman cavalry was routed and the infantry severely disordered by this assault. The Roman force was saved from complete disaster by the tendency of wounded elephants to run amok, disrupting their own side’s formations.

The Roman force disengaged and the Greeks were able to advance almost as far as Rome itself. However, both sides had taken very heavy losses and Pyrrhus was not confident of victory if he assaulted the city. His force pulled back and wintered in Tarentum.


After first encountering Greek war elephants at Heraclea, the Romans had developed anti-elephant tactics. On the first day of the battle of Asculum, the wooded and hilly terrain impeded the elephants and cavalry, resulting in a bloody but inconclusive clash between infantry forces. An aggressive redeployment by the Greeks forced the Romans to fight in terrain better suited to the use of elephants and the dense phalanx of the Greeks. A flank attack by the Greek elephants broke the Roman cavalry and caused a hurried withdrawal, giving the Greeks possession of the battlefield. Heavy losses on the winning side led to the concept of the ‘Pyrrhic Victory’.


To prevent King Pyrrhus from using Syracuse as a base for operations on Sicily, Carthaginian forces allied to Rome besieged the city. Pyrrhus landed Eryx and Panormus, then marched to break the siege of Syracuse.


After two years of indecisive campaigning, the Greek coalition against Macedon had made some minor progress. The coalition suffered a severe defeat at Corinth, after which the war went very much against them.


The Greek coalition against Macedonia collapsed with the fall of Athens to Macedonian troops and a peace treaty with Sparta. This cemented Macedonian control over Greece, though Egypt continued to interfere in Greek affairs.


Entering into alliance with Seleucid Persia, Macedonian troops campaigned into Syria with the intention of driving Egyptian forces out of the Aegean region. Macedonian interest in the region waned as troubles grew on the northern borders.

■ COS, 258 BCE

The Egyptian and Macedonian fleets met off Cos in a clash that decisively weakened Egyptian naval power. Details are sketchy, and the date has been disputed by several historians. An alternate date of 255 BCE has been suggested.


Continued naval clashes between Egypt and Macedon led to a battle off Andros in 245 or 246 BCE. Egyptian power in the Cyclades island group was broken as a result of this defeat.


Having been installed as regent in Asia Minor, Antiochus Hierax rebelled against his brother Seleucus II of Persia. Seleucus was decisively defeated in a clash at Ancyra, making a hasty retreat across the River Taurus.


After a period of skirmishing, the Egyptian and Seleucid armies clashed, with the Egyptian flanks soon broken. The phalangites of both armies fought on for some time, with the Egyptians finally emerging victorious.


After the failure of a first expedition by Seleucus II to retake Parthia from the Parni, a second campaign under Antiochus III brought the region under Seleucid control as a vassal state.

■ ARIUS, 209 BCE

A force of Parthian cavalry attempted to halt the Seleucid advance at the river Arius. The Seleucid advance guard, composed mainly of elite troops, crossed the river at night and surprised the Parthians in their camp.


After securing his northern frontier by reducing Parthia to a vassal state, Antiochus III marched eastward, forcing a peace settlement upon the rebellious province of Bactria. He then forayed into India where he was gifted with war elephants.


Having seized Syria and Palestine, the Seleucids held it for a short time before they were driven out by additional forces from Egypt. Antiochus launched a new campaign to regain control of the province, culminating in the battle of Panium. The Seleucids’ chief advantage was their use of cataphract cavalry, which defeated and drove off the Egyptian cavalry on the flanks, then attacked the rear of the enemy’s main infantry body.


With the Seleucid intervention in Greece defeated by a Roman army at Thermopylae, Antiochus III was forced to abandon the campaign. Roman forces then went on the offensive, making control of the Aegean vital to both sides. The Seleucid fleet was commanded by the Carthaginian Hannibal, who was in exile at the Seleucid court. Hannibal’s fleet suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of a combined Roman–Rhodian force.


Soon after the battle at Eurymedon, the Seleucid fleet was again defeated by a roughly equal-sized force of Roman and Rhodian ships. The superior experience of the Rhodians, and their use of fire-ships, were critical factors.


With the Roman army on the offensive and keen to seek a decisive battle before winter set in, Antiochus set up a fortified camp and awaited their arrival. The Roman formation was conventional, in three lines with the Roman legions in the centre and allied forces holding the flanks. The Roman force had some war elephants but these were African beasts, outmatched by the Indian elephants of the Seleucid force in both numbers and physical power.

The Seleucid cavalry broke its opposite numbers on the Roman left flank, but pursued them rather than turning on the Roman centre. The Seleucid left flank was broken soon afterwards. In the centre, the two infantry forces were evenly matched until a force of elephants mixed into the Seleucid formation were routed and the pike-armed infantry became disordered. The Seleucid force was then driven from the field.


Rising in revolt against Seleucid rule, Jewish forces under Judas Maccabeus established themselves in the mountains near Samaria, from where a force was sent against them. This was ambushed and overwhelmingly defeated.


A Seleucid force under the command of the general Seron was sent to locate and destroy the Maccabean rebels. This force was surprised at the Pass of Beth Horon and resoundingly defeated.


While Seleucid troops were in the field searching for his camp, Judas Maccabeus led an audacious attack against the Seleucids’ base at Emmaus. His force then harassed the Seleucids during their subsequent retreat.


Facing a Seleucid army under Lysias, governor of Syria, the Maccabean forces resorted to guerrilla tactics to wear down the enemy. Once the Seleucids were weakened, they were attacked and defeated at Beth Zur.


After capturing and ritually cleansing the temple at Jerusalem, the Maccabees were faced with a new army under Lysias. The Jews attempted to fight a set-piece field battle and were defeated by the better-equipped Seleucids.

■ ADASA, 161 BCE

The newly appointed governor of Judah, Nicanor, led a renewed attempt to crush the Maccabean revolt. Encountering the Jews at Adasa, near Beth-Horon, the Seleucids attacked but were defeated. This bought the revolt a brief respite.

■ ELASA, 160 BCE

Facing a vastly larger Seleucid force, Judas Maccabeus launched an attack against the bodyguard of their commander, routing it. His force was then overwhelmed by the remainder of the Seleucid army, and Judas was killed.


The diminished Seleucid kingdom in Syria was attacked by forces backed by the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. The Seleucids were defeated, though Pharaoh Ptolemy VI was killed in the fighting.


Antiochus VII led a campaign into Parthia to revive the fortunes of the declining Seleucid Empire. His force was overwhelmingly defeated at Ecbatana, bringing Seleucid ambitions in Parthia to an end.

Swedish Invasions and the Army of Peter the Great Part I

As early as the autumn of 1708, Whitworth’s cogent summary of the situation anticipated many subsequent criticisms. He praised the qualities of the Swedish armies, but suggested that Charles ‘seems to undervalue all subordinate means of proceeding with success and to rely wholly on the goodness of his army and justice of his cause, by which he has hitherto carried on a prosperous war, contrary to all ordinary rules of acting’. He concluded that if Charles had invaded Russia after Narva, Peter would probably have been forced to make peace on any terms; once that opportunity was missed, however, Peter was given the chance to train and discipline his new forces and, ‘by acting with whole armies against small detachments the soldiers became inured to fire, and easily begun to taste the sweets of conquest’. In their accounts of the campaign, several Swedish officers, in particular Gyllenkrook and Lewenhaupt, stressed that they had disagreed with Charles over many of his strategic decisions: Gyllenkrook, who had prepared the plan for a strike through Livonia at Pskov, claimed that he ‘never advised’ an attack on Moscow, but always sought to hinder it. Lewenhaupt criticised Charles for failing to wait for the supply train when it was only a day’s ride away by courier; over the siege of Poltava; and for the decision not to deploy artillery during the battle. James Jeffreyes, an English agent attached to Charles’s army, wrote immediately after Poltava:

Thus … you see a victorious and numerous army destroy’d in less than two years time, much because of the little regard they had for their enemy; but chiefly because the King would not hearken to any advice that was given him by his Councillors, who I can assure you were for carrying on this war after another method.

When Peter asked the captured Swedish generals after Poltava to explain certain of Charles’s decisions which he found hard to comprehend, Lewenhaupt remarked that the only reply they could make was that they did not know.

While it would be foolish to deny that the headstrong, intense Charles made mistakes, or bore a great deal of responsibility for what happened at Poltava, hindsight has overly coloured judgments of his strategic abilities. Concentration on the ill-fated Russian campaign unbalances many accounts,35 while contemporary assessments cannot be regarded as objective: the desire of Gyllenkrook and Lewenhaupt to clear themselves of responsibility for Poltava and the shameful surrender at Perevolochna casts more than a shadow of doubt over their accounts. One need not adopt the fervid hyperbole of the Swedish General Staff to acknowledge that the Charles who lost Poltava was also the Charles whose strategic grasp at the age of eighteen was sure enough for him to play a significant role in planning the spectacular victory over three powerful enemies in 1700. The brilliant campaigns of 1702–6 and the marshalling of exiguous forces in defence of Sweden against the most powerful coalition it ever faced between 1714 and 1718 suggest that those who dismiss his strategic abilities as negligible are the ones whose judgment is clouded.

The invasion of Russia was undoubtedly a gamble, yet the fact that it ended in disaster should not blind the historian to the reasons for adopting it, nor to the misfortunes which played a part in its failure. Russian historians frequently condemn Charles for his aggression, comparing him to Napoleon and Hitler, whose presumption also brought their downfall. It was the Russians, however, not the Swedes, who were the aggressors in the Great Northern War, which Peter launched on the flimsiest of pretexts. Moreover, Charles had good reason for rejecting Peter’s peace overtures. In 1706–8, Peter’s reforms were by no means secure, the regular core of his army was still small, and the Swedes were aware of the great upsurge in opposition to Peter which had begun with the Astrakhan rising in 1705, and the widespread Cossack discontent, which was to see Bulavin’s rising in 1707–8 and the defection of Mazepa and significant numbers of Zaporozhians in late 1708. As Whitworth remarked:

should this army come to any considerable miscarriage, it would probably draw after it the ruin of the whole empire, since I do not know where the Czar would be able to get another; for the new raised regiments in Ingria and much more those, who are now mustering up here and in the several garrisons on the frontiers, cannot deserve the name of regular forces, not to mention the usual despondency of the russians after any misfortunes, and their general discontent and inclinations to a revolt.

Thus Charles is criticised for not invading Russia in 1700–1, and for invading in 1708–9. Yet conditions were far more favourable in 1708. Following the pleasant interlude in Saxony, the Swedish field army was larger, more experienced and better-equipped than at any point since 1700. The political situation in Poland-Lithuania was more favourable, and Saxony was out of the war. Even if the Russian army had improved substantially since Narva, the Swedes had good reason to believe that they were capable of defeating it if they could force it to battle. Why should Charles make peace, and permit the continued existence of a Russian bridgehead on the Gulf of Finland, thus giving Peter time to stifle dissent at home and build up his navy and army? Charles would have been naive to believe that Peter would be content with the cession of St Petersburg alone; it was the Russians who would benefit most from a suspension of hostilities. The only way to secure a lasting peace and long-term security for the Baltic provinces was to destroy the Russian army and force Peter to settle on Swedish terms. An invasion of Russia was the only way to achieve that end.

Charles’s reign demonstrated once more the harsh realities of Sweden’s strategic position, for all that it was better in 1700 than in 1655 or 1675. Sweden had a large, well-trained army which could be mobilised rapidly and effectively; it had to be supplemented by further recruitment, but the costs involved were not crippling. Although government income was largely static in the years before the war, it had been possible to build up a small reserve fund, amounting to roughly 1 million silver dalers in 1696, while regimental cash reserves were nearly as great, at 900,000 silver dalers. Yet although Sweden was better prepared for war than ever before, and was able to raise new funds from extraordinary taxes, such as the tenth penny levied between November 1699 and February 1700, and various expedients, the harsh realities of its chronic shortage of specie soon became apparent: the costs of mobilisation were reckoned in January 1700 at 6,374,141 silver dalers, while extraordinary sources were estimated to be capable of producing only 1,514,001. Hopes of raising loans in Holland and England at a maximum of 5 per cent interest, were dashed, since Sweden could offer little as security apart from customs tolls at Riga, Narva, Reval and Nyen. With Saxon and Russian armies heading for Livonia, the Dutch and English were understandably reluctant to risk their money, although a Dutch loan of 300,000 riksdalers was secured at 5 per cent in 1702. Sweden’s reserves underpinned the mobilisation of 1700, and made possible Travendal and Narva, but they were rapidly exhausted, and were utterly incapable of sustaining a long war: government credit was poor, and loans from private individuals were difficult to raise, while the outbreak of war brought a serious liquidity crisis for the new Bank of Sweden.

Thus Sweden, for all that Charles XI’s reforms had transformed its military capacity, faced a familiar set of problems. It could not long fight a defensive war. As had been the case in 1655, once it mobilised its army, it was forced to carry the war into enemy territory, and the war could only be sustained by fighting abroad. The indelningsverk performed well in filling gaps in the ranks, but for all the meticulous preparations of the excellent commissariat, once the troops were detached from the farms which supported them in peacetime, the problems multiplied. They were already evident when the army gathered in Scania, Sweden’s richest province; once it reached Livonia, they only worsened. In the winter of 1700–1 it rapidly became clear that if the army were to stay together it would have to leave the Baltic provinces. One of the most important arguments against an attack on Pskov was that even without taking into account the political problems following the reduktion, Livonia, devastated by famine in the 1690s, was exhausted: to strike at Pskov the army would have to retrace its steps northward across territories which had already paid substantial contributions. The move south into Courland in July 1701 was thus partly motivated by supply considerations. Courland was small, however; by early 1702 it was exhausted, and the army was suffering: after it entered Poland one observer noted the contrast between the half-naked Swedish soldiers and the regiment of Sapieha foot which accompanied them, smartly clad in green uniforms. Merely to support itself, the army had to move. It was difficult to imagine that an invasion of Russia could be sustained from an exhausted and politically unreliable supply-base, while the area round Pskov was not known to flow with milk and honey.

The decision to move south was eminently sensible. For the next six years, the Swedes supplied themselves without major difficulty. Charles did not face the concerted resistance that had frustrated his grandfather, he enjoyed substantial political support, and his army was manifestly superior to all its opponents. Small Swedish detachments were still vulnejable to attack, but the fact that they had significant support from Augustus’s enemies meant that they could deploy Polish light cavalry of their own to counter the threat and provide reconnaissance; Charles placed great store on the recruitment of these Vallacker units, and there was an entire regiment in the army which left Saxony in 1707. Swedish military dominance ensured that Magnus Stenbock, director of the General War Commissariat, could raise contributions from a wide area in a way which had not been possible in the 1650s: when the palatinates of Ruthenia and Volhynia were the object of a special expedition in the winter of 1702–3, he returned with six barrels of gold and a considerable haul of supplies in kind at a cost of 68 killed or missing and 36 horses. After the fall of Thorn in October 1703 there were for the moment no Saxon troops in the Commonwealth. With the army stationed in Warmia and Polish Prussia in the first half of 1704, the supply situation was remarkably good. It remained so when the Swedes moved their headquarters to Rawicz after the 1704 campaign, or when Volhynia was placed under contribution in 1705.

There was a price to be paid, however, for the very efficiency of the Swedish operation. Although marauding and looting were punished severely by the military authorities, who made conspicuous efforts to investigate Polish complaints against Swedish soldiers, there is reason to doubt Hatton’s indulgent assessment of their behaviour.44 Even in pro-Swedish areas, the very efficiency with which they collected contributions provoked hostile reactions from those subject to constant requisitions. Given that this was a civil war, and that Swedish control was never absolute, communities could be faced by successive demands from Swedish, Saxon and Polish forces: in December 1705 the villagers of Ilewo wrote to Thorn Council, their landlords, that, having been forced to pay contributions in cash and kind to support the Saxon garrison in 1703, they had then been placed under contributions by the Swedes, and had since faced Sapieha exactions. In such circumstances, the demands of even the best-behaved troops were resented, and local officials were deluged with requests for the waiving of rent payments to take account of the demands of the military, which were often heavy: of 217 rams inventoried in the village of Gremboczyn in 1703, the Swedes took 100; by the end of the year, after deaths, other exactions and wastage, there were only 44 left.

Such demands did little for Leszczyński’s hopes of winning support; furthermore, if they had the advantage over Gustav Adolf and Charles X that they were not bottled up in one corner of the Commonwealth, but could occupy new areas when their supply-base became exhausted, this meant that they spread their unpopularity over a steadily widening area. Their exactions inevitably provoked resistance; where they met it, they behaved with striking ruthlessness. Hatton’s picture of the Swedish soldier ‘of peasant stock and a smallholder himself in peacetime’ cheerfully chopping wood and helping round the farms on which he was billeted is not a complete fantasy, but it scarcely characterises the normal relationship between the Swedes and the local population. Charles believed it was good practice to deal ‘harshly and brusquely’ with Poles. When Wojnicz failed to pay its allotted contributions in October 1702, he ordered its division into quarters, each of which was plundered by a detachment of 100 men, before the town was burnt. The properties of Augustus’s supporters were treated with startling ruthlessness: Charles ordered Stenbock to ruin the estates of general Brandt, one of Augustus’s commanders, ‘as best thou can’. On Charles’s direct orders villages were burned, fields were laid waste, cattle were driven off to feed the army and any who objected were put to the sword. The harsh behaviour of the Swedes towards the local population during the Russian campaign of 1707–9 had its clear antecedents in Poland. At the very least, it ensured that potential supporters would think twice before abandoning the Sandomierz Confederation.

Swedish strategy was not entirely driven by considerations of supply. There were good military reasons for Charles’s desire for a war of movement. Confident of the superiority of his army, he sought battle, as had Chodkiewicz or Żółkiewski before him. Charles’s forces were too small to scatter around in garrisons, and he pursued Batory’s policy of demolishing fortifications instead of manning them. After the fall of Thorn in 1703, Charles ordered the razing of its walls, behind which a Saxon garrison of 6,000 had mouldered away. Charles could not afford to be so profligate with his army or waste too much time on irrelevant siege operations: when the Swedes captured Lwów in 1704, they spent five days on Charles’s orders blowing up the best of the 160 ‘fine large guns’ which had fallen into their hands. Charles had no use for them; Swedish military dominance was not dependent upon control of fortresses.

Between 1700 and 1708, success bred success. The defeats inflicted on Schlippenbach in the Baltic provinces could be dismissed as of minor significance so long as the main army was victorious; once it could be turned against the Russians, Sweden’s losses could be recovered. Yet the very confidence which flowed from the long run of victories could itself be a source of danger. For the threat from the Russian army was growing. Buoyed by their victories in the Baltic, Peter and his commanders were becoming more confident, while intensive drill was improving the quality of the ordinary soldiers. Despite the continuing shortage of talented officers, even foreign observers were beginning to recognise the good effects of Peter’s work. In July 1705, the Austrian ambassador Otto Pleyer remarked after the mustering of the army in Moscow that ‘the newly-arrived officers avowed they had seen no German army that was better clad, exercised or armed.’ In reporting Sheremetev’s defeat at Gemauerthof (July 1705), Whitworth noted approvingly how firmly the Russians had stood their ground. For all his reports on Russian problems over desertion and the quality of officers, he described in 1708 how the army was ‘composed of leesty, well made fellows’ and recognised that ‘the exercise [is] good, their air quite altered since their campaigns in Poland, and many of their regiments will doubtless fight well.’ The Russians themselves were increasingly confident of the quality of their troops: Peter, the harshest of critics, wrote in March 1707 that the army was ‘in good shape’; in April 1708, Sheremetev wrote of the ‘good state’ of his infantry. Most tellingly, if Charles is often accused of underestimating the fighting qualities of the Russians, there is much evidence to suggest that his army did not. After Holowczyn, Jeffreyes remarked that:

The Svedes must now own the Muscovites have learnt their lesson much better than they had either at the battles of Narva or Fraustadt, and that they equal if not exceed the Saxons both in discipline and valour, ’tis true their cavalry is not able to cope with owrs, but their infantry stand their ground obstinately, and ’tis a difficult matter to separate them or bring them in a confusion if they be not attacked sword in hand.

Posse claimed that ‘all those who saw and heard that action, must confess that they had never seen or heard such great fire from salvos, which we had to endure’. Lyth acknowledged the proficiency of Russian musketry and commented on the skill with which the Russians had chosen their positions. In the past, Swedes had felt that although the Russians had always fought sturdily enough they tended to take flight if the battle began to turn against them, but Lewenhaupt’s grudging praise of their fighting qualities at Lesnaia included a recognition that they were now capable of rallying after being forced back.

Most significantly, the Russian army was developing its own style of fighting, as Peter and his commanders gained experience of Swedish methods of waging war and realised that for all the technical help brought by westerners, western methods were not always effective. There were already signs of this at Narva, when it was Boris Sheremetev who suggested that the army should emerge from the protection of the countervallation to confront the Swedes in the open field, where its superior numbers could be made to tell.56 As the Saxon army went down to defeat after defeat, the spell of western competence was broken, and Peter’s reliance on western officers at the top level of service diminished steadily. The frequent military councils – twenty-two were held in 1708 alone – at which high-ranking officers, foreign and Russian, discussed strategy and tactics with government ministers were important for developing the fusion of western and eastern principles which increasingly characterised Petrine warfare. Papers were submitted by participants, debate was strongly encouraged, and decisions were only taken after full consideration of the situation.

Swedish Invasions and the Army of Peter the Great Part II

As Russian confidence grew, so arguments over strategy with western commanders became more frequent. The most significant such dispute came at Grodno in early 1706, where Peter had deputed Menshikov to keep an eye on the Scottish field-marshal Ogilvy who, following the departure of Augustus, was in sole command of forty-five infantry battalions and six dragoon regiments, some 35,000 men.58 All correspondance with Ogilvy was conducted via Repnin, the senior Russian officer present, who received a copy of every order Peter sent Ogilvy. As Charles advanced on Grodno, Peter, fearing the loss of much of his precious army, ordered Ogilvy to abandon the city and withdraw towards the Russian frontier. Ogilvy, despite the fact that supplies were running short, and against the advice of Repnin, Menshikov, Hallart and Wenediger, argued that it was impossible to evacuate Grodno, expressing his wish that Charles would attack, adding that: ‘do not doubt that it will bring complete victory in a few hours.’ He objected that he would be forced to destroy the heavy artillery because he did not have enough horses to transport it. Peter’s reply, sent after he received news of the disaster at Fraustadt, was sharp: he ordered Ogilvy to abandon Grodno forthwith, to take only regimental artillery with him, and to destroy the heavy guns. Once he had left the city, Ogilvy was to divide his forces and send them eastwards by separate routes. This might expose individual sections to destruction, but Peter wished at all costs to avoid a general battle which might wipe out the whole army. Ogilvy finally began the evacuation on 11/22 March, but not before he had once more risked Peter’s wrath by bluntly contesting his order, stating that it would be better to stay in Grodno until the summer, despite the shortage of provisions; as he admitted, the Swedish light cavalry was picking off foraging parties sent out from the city. Even when he was on the point of abandoning Grodno, he urged Peter to retake it.

The dispute with Ogilvy demonstrated the extent to which Peter and his Russian commanders had begun to liberate themselves from the assumptions of their western advisers. Defence must be based on mobility, not fortresses, which could be death-traps for armies, something which Peter could not risk. The different philosophies were revealed in a further argument over the composition of the army, when Peter rejected Ogilvy’s recommendation of a force of thirty regiments of foot and only sixteen of horse, deciding on a ratio of forty-seven infantry to thirty-three cavalry regiments; as Sheremetev recognised, cavalry was vitally important even in siege warfare in the east. The parting of the ways was not long delayed. In April, Ogilvy requested his release from Russian service; in September, he was finally allowed to leave. Henceforth, the Russian army was largely commanded by Russians. The long apprenticeship was over, and the new maturity of Russian strategic thinking was apparent in the council which met in Żółkiew in April 1707. Here the decision was taken not to join battle in Poland-Lithuania, despite Polish pressure, or to garrison fortresses in the Commonweath, but to withdraw through Lithuania into Russia itself, and organise a flexible defence against possible Swedish lines of attack.64 Although Peter is often credited as the creator of this plan, it is clear that Russian commanders, especially Sheremetev, played an important part in its formulation. It was dangerous, since it risked alienating the Sandomierz confederates, who wished to adopt an offensive strategy and force Charles to a decisive battle in the Commonwealth.

As the Swedes marched east, the Russians melted away before them, destroying everything in their path. The Swedes faced similar problems to those experienced by Batory 130 years earlier. Lyth’s description of marching through deep forest in the autumn of 1708 could have been lifted from Piotrowski’s diary:

we lost many men and many horses, which died of hunger, so that our misery grew ever greater; we had to watch as both men and horses alike, exhausted by hunger, dropped to the ground and died there miserably; so it remained for us doubly worse.

A month later the army emerged into a wilderness of deserted and smoking villages, whence everything had been carried away, in which they were constantly harried by enemy raids, so that they were not safe from attack ‘for a single hour’, as the great cry went up from the army ‘what shall we eat?’ Like Batory’s army at Pskov, units had to forage for miles in all directions to obtain supplies. There was one major difference, however. When Batory laid siege to Pskov he was facing an exhausted and disorganised enemy, and his cavalry dominated the theatre of operations. Charles, for all the formidable qualities of his army, was facing a very different opponent. Peter might be cautious about exposing his precious new army in open battle, but his forces, augmented by large numbers of Cossack and Kalmuk irregulars, were more than capable of subjecting the Swedes to the high-level harrassment Charles X’s armies had experienced in Poland in the 1650s. This ensured that Swedish supply problems steadily increased: forage parties were easy targets for roaming Russian units, and the constant skirmishes hit morale badly. The Swedish cavalry may have been superior on the battlefield, but the Russians were numerically stronger and well-suited to a campaign of harassment.

For all the sense of tragic inevitability which pervades accounts of Charles’s Russian campaign, he had little choice but to attempt what he recognised was a risky operation, and his conduct of it was by no means as strategically inept as it is often portrayed. There were good reasons for the decision to turn south in the autumn of 1708. The move into the Ukraine would open easier lines of communication through Volhynia, Podolia and Ruthenia to Leszczyński, and bring the Swedes closer to the Turks and Tatars, whom Charles had good reason to believe might be persuaded to join the war against Russia. Whether or not Charles wished to force Peter to a decisive battle after crossing the Dnieper, or, as Stille believes, he was attempting an ambitious flanking move, he had failed by mid-September. The Swedes did catch the Russian cavalry at Tatarsk (10/21 September), but the ground was unfavourable and Charles was unwilling to risk an attack. A march north was now impossible. The Russians were laying waste the countryside – the Swedes counted the flames of twenty-four burning villages from their encampment – while Lewenhaupt and Rehnskióld agreed that the roads from Smolensk to Moscow would be impassible. The supply situation was becoming serious, morale was suffering, and the army greeted the decision to turn south with relief:

we have been in a very desolate country … half a mile from the boarders of Muscovy, where we found nothing but what was burnt and destroyd, and of large villages little left but the bare names, we had allso news of the like destruction as farr as Smolensko, which has had this happy effect on His Maj:ty that he has desisted from pursuing the ennemy, and turnd his march to the right, with intention as is supposd to make an incursion into Ukrain, this is a country … wery plentifull of all necessaryes and where no army as yet has been.

It was undoubtedly an error to turn south without waiting for Lewenhaupt, or turning back towards the Dnieper to meet him, as Piper urged; it is clear that Charles, despite optimistic reports that Lewenhaupt was across the Dnieper, was aware that he was not. Charles was confident that Lewenhaupt would be capable of beating off any attack, but underestimated the Russian ability to seize the opportunity. Peter sent Sheremetev to shadow the main Swedish army, while detaching a force of 6,795 dragoons and 4,830 infantry, mounted on horses to ensure rapidity of movement. This korvolant (corps volant) moved swiftly on Lewenhaupt’s force, whose speed was reduced by the need to maintain full battle order on the march to protect the cumbersome wagon train. The Swedes gave a good account of themselves at Lesnaia, but although they slightly outnumbered the Russians, they were unable to save the vital supply-train, losing nearly half their strength into the bargain. The Russian horse might be inferior to the Swedish cavalry, but Lesnaia underlined the usefulness of dragoons in the eastern theatre of war.

Charles had paid the price of not waiting for Lewenhaupt, and it is unlikely that Peter would have risked an attack if the main Swedish army had not turned south. Nevertheless, if the loss of the supply train was a blow, it was by no means fatal. Initially it seemed that the move south was justified. On crossing into the Ukraine in early November, Lyth reported that it was rich in grain, fruit, tobacco and cattle, with few forests and extensive fields. There was an abundance of honey, flax and hemp, which could be bought very cheaply; although the Russians had made some effort at destruction, the Swedes were able to excavate buried supplies, and bread, beer, spirits, wines, mead, honey, cattle and fodder for the horses were plentiful. By December, however, the situation had deteriorated sharply; although the Swedes found ample supplies of tobacco, food and fodder began to be a problem, while the growing shortages were exacerbated by a sudden and vicious turn in the weather in what was to prove one of the fiercest winters of the century. In the coldest snap, in late December, men froze to death in the saddle overnight; on Christmas Eve, 25–26 men from Lyth’s company succumbed and Lewenhaupt calculated that 4,000 men fell victim to the cold. This seriously weakened the army and had a severe effect on morale, but Charles cannot be blamed for the exceptional severity of the winter. The period of extreme cold was relatively brief, and although conditions thereafter were far from comfortable, they were bearable, and if the Swedes suffered, so did the Russians. The Russians were far better able to replace their losses, however, and it remains true that the Swedish losses helped shift the balance of advantage towards Peter.

If Charles’s strategy was undoubtedly risky, it was not the work of a madman or an aggressive psychopath. Nevertheless, the Swedes were always fighting at a disadvantage in country familiar to their enemies. Further reverses were to follow. After the loss of Lewenhaupt’s baggage train it was essential that an alternative store of supplies be secured, but the Swedes lost by a whisker the race for Baturyn, Mazepa’s headquarters. After the Cossack hetman had finally declared for Charles, on 24 October (OS), Menshikov sacked Baturyn (2/13 November), cruelly massacring the population and destroying or carrying off the precious reserves of arms, ammunition and food with which Charles had hoped to augment his rapidly-diminishing supplies.

Although Mazepa’s defection was a considerable boost for Charles, especially when it was followed in March 1709 by that of the Zaporozhians, it was not to prove decisive. The 1650s, when the Cossacks had briefly promised to emerge as a significant political force in the southeast, were long gone. The Ukrainian Ruina had shattered Cossack unity. By looking to the Swedes Mazepa and the Zaporozhian hetman Kost’ Hordiienko were merely continuing the politics of the last half century, in which Cossack leaders had manoeuvred between Poland, Russia and the Ottomans, seeking a basis for the autonomy they had enjoyed under Khmelnytsky. The Cossacks, although still extremely useful as sharpshooters and irregular troops, were not the military force they had once been. Indeed, the heavy casualties which Mazepa’s Cossacks had incurred when forced by Peter to fight in the north against the Swedes, where they had proved no match for regular troops, had played a significant role in alienating them. Moreover, the Zaporozhians were strongly hostile to the Poles, and Charles’s ill-disguised scheming with Mazepa to eliminate the Commonwealth once and for all from the Ukraine not only ensured the continuing hostility of the Sandomierz confederates, it also threatened his relations with Leszczyński, the Ottomans and the Tatars. In March 1709, Wiśniowiecki, who had extensive Ukrainian estates, abandoned Leszczyński and rejoined the Sandomierz Confederation. The destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich by a Russian force in May 1709 merely demonstrated that Charles’s hopes for a widespread Ukrainian rebellion against Russia were ill-founded, and that the mobile and much larger Russian forces were in control of the wider theatre of campaign.

Thus when Charles’s diminishing army finally launched the general battle he had sought for so long at Poltava on 27 June 1709 (OS) it was not under the favourable circumstances for which he had hoped. Indeed, although it was characteristically the Swedes who took the initiative with an ambitious plan to assault the Russian camp, it was the Russians who had issued the challenge by crossing the Vorskla to the north of Poltava on 20 June (OS), three days after Charles’s luck ran out when he received a bad wound in his foot from a stray bullet while observing the Russian positions. Two days later, he received final confirmation that neither Leszczyński nor Krassau would be joining him. Although he accompanied his army into battle borne on a litter, Rehnskióld took operational command. Unable to provide the inspirational leadership for which he was famous, Charles was condemned to follow the battle from a distance, while the morale of his troops was undoubtedly affected. Nevertheless, a battle was necessary. A Swedish victory, while it might not destroy the Russian army, would relieve the pressing supply problems, would help Leszczyński, and might tempt the Ottomans and Tatars to commit themselves. The only viable alternatives were to withdraw across the Dnieper, southwards to the Crimea or back towards Poland; both would be hazardous with the Russians across the Vorskla

The Macedonian Monarchy and the Roman Republic

First Macedonian War, (215-205 B. C. E.)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Macedonians vs. Romans

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Northern frontiers of Macedon


MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Philip V of Macedon wanted to expand his empire.

OUTCOME: Indecisive, except to spawn further warfare.



TREATIES: Peace of Phoenice, 205 B. C. E.

King Philip V (238-179 B. C. E.) of Macedon was a warlike and restless monarch ambitious to extend his empire at any cost. He exploited the Second PUNIC WAR, in which the forces of Rome were preoccupied with fighting Carthage, to attack the diminished Roman forces in the east, the region known as Illyria. However, the Romans could not decisively defeat the Macedonians, nor could Philip wear down the Romans, and the result was warfare that consumed a decade, producing little result.

Philip took a new tack. Allying himself with Hannibal of Carthage (247-c. 183-181 B. C. E.), he invaded the Greek city-states. Rome, characteristically neutral in the affairs of these states, saw Philip’s incursions as an opportunity to expand the Roman sphere of influence. Rome concluded the Peace of Phoenice, which was generous to Philip. However, within five years of the end of the First Macedonian War, the Second MACEDONIAN WAR began.

Second Macedonian War, (200-196 B. C. E.)



DECLARATION: Rome against Macedon, 200 B. C. E.

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Philip V of Macedon wanted to extend his empire into the Greek states. OUTCOME: Rome defeated Macedon, which agreed to an indemnity.

APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS: Each side fielded about 20,000 men.

CASUALTIES: At Cynoscephalae, the decisive battle of the war, Macedonian losses were 10,000 killed; Roman losses were much lower.

TREATIES: Indemnity agreement

The First MACEDONIAN WAR ended at the northern frontiers of Macedon. Although the Peace of Phoenice offered many favorable terms to Macedon, much was left unsettled, and, in 200 B. C. E., Philip V (238-179 B. C. E.) of Macedon turned southward, intending to make inroads into the Greek city-states. He menaced Rhodes and Pergamum first, then attacked other city-states. Rome demanded Philip’s pledge to make no further hostile moves. He refused and, seeing gains to be made in defeating Philip in Greece, Rome engaged him. The climactic battle of the Second Macedonian War came in 197 B. C. E., when Rome’s legions soundly beat Philip at Cynoscephalae. Titus Quintius Flaminius (c. 227-174 B. C. E.) led 20,000 Roman legionaries and met the Macedonian force on the heights of Cynoscephalae, in southwestern Thessaly. It was a hard-fought battle, but Philip took by far the worst of it. Half his 20,000 men were killed. Rome’s losses, while substantial, did not approach this magnitude. As a result of his defeat, Philip withdrew from Greece and further agreed to render a large indemnity to Rome, which then proclaimed itself the liberator and protector of the Greek states, asserting a benevolent dominance over them.

Philip’s son Perseus (c. 212-166 B. C. E.) succeeded him as Macedon’s king in 179. Instead of invading Greece, he made alliances among the Greek states. Fearing this kind of influence as well, Rome initiated the Third MACEDONIAN WAR.

Third Macedonian War, (172-167 B. C. E.)


PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Southeastern Macedonia


MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Rome wanted to stop Macedon’s meddling in Greek politics.

OUTCOME: Macedon was defeated; Rome divided Macedonia into republics.


CASUALTIES: Macedonian losses at Pydna (168 B. C. E.) were 20,000 killed and 11,000 made prisoner; in contrast, Rome lost about 100 killed.


After Perseus (c. 212-166 B. C. E.), who had inherited the Macedonian throne from his father Philip V in 179 B. C. E., began to meddle in Greek affairs by making alliances with various Greek city-states, Rome sent an army to attack his forces at Pydna in southeastern Macedonia. Fought on June 22, 168 B. C. E., this battle proved decisive, the Macedonians lost 20,000 killed and 11,000 taken as prisoners; Roman losses amounted to no more than 100 killed. The following year, Perseus was dethroned and made captive. To ensure that Macedon would never again threaten the stability of the Roman world, the victors divided it into four republics. However, this only succeeded in causing internal conflict, as the republics soon fell to disputing with one another. In a climate of discontent and confusion, a pretender to the throne attempted to reestablish the Macedonian monarchy in 152 B. C. E., an action that ignited the Fourth MACEDONIAN WAR.

Fourth Macedonian War, (151-146 B. C. E.)




MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: When a pretender to the throne vowed to reunify Macedon, the Romans decided to subjugate it fully.

OUTCOME: The Macedonian army was no match for the Romans, who conquered Macedon and annexed it.




Following the Roman partition of Macedon into four republics, a pretender to the throne arose, calling for the reunification of the nation under his leadership. This provoked Rome to dispatch forces to fight the Macedonians for a fourth time, and, once again, Rome easily triumphed over the Macedonian army. The war included no battles of military significance; the Macedonians were simply de- moralized by the Roman Legions and melted away before them. Having tried and failed to render Macedon docile by dividing it into four republics, Rome now annexed the country to itself. This was the first major step in the long expansion of the Roman Empire.

Further reading: M. Cary, A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B. C. (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1963); N. G. L. Hammond, The Macedonian State (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Victor Davis Hanson, The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (New York: Sterling, 2002); J. F. Lazenby, Hannibal’s War: A Military History of the Second Punic War (Warminster, England: Aris and Phillips, 1978); Colin Wells, The Roman Empire, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995).

Philip V

In 219 BC Philip V had been king of Macedon for a matter of months, but he would have known from the outset that, even without the Romans complicating his life, that his was no easy job. Though ranked as one of the great Hellenistic powers, for more than a century Macedon had been ‘punching above its weight’ as modern military parlance puts it. A relatively small and partly mountainous country, with limited resources of manpower, Macedon had an abundance of barbarian enemies to occupy its armies; as if holding down the fractious statelets of the Greek peninsula was not effort enough. As pointed out earlier, Macedon compensated for its weakness in manpower and military overstretch by having both a superbly organized army and an efficient administration.

Since the king of Macedon was the linchpin of that administration, it was natural that Macedon’s enemies would test the mettle of that linchpin, who was, after all, a 17-year-old boy. As Polybius remarks:

The Aetolians had for long been dissatisfied with peace and with a way of life limited to their own resources, as they had been accustomed to live on the wealth of their neighbours … Nevertheless whilst Antigonus was alive, they kept their peace through fear of Macedonia, but when the king died leaving as his successor Philip, who was almost a child, they thought this new king could be safely ignored.

More or less the same thought had occurred to the Dardanians, the warlike people to the north of Illyria against whom Antigonus Doson had probably been campaigning at the time of his death. Assuming a state of confusion whilst Philip picked up the reins of power, the Dardanians lost no time in launching a quick raid on Macedonia. Philip had been expecting this and had prepared his response with the speed and flair that was to become his trademark.

The Dardanians were driven back in confusion to their mountains, but before Philip could follow up this early success word reached him of trouble to the south. The Aetolians had started a war with the small city-state of Messenia. Since the Hellenic League created by Antigonus Doson to deal with Cleomenes of Sparta had never been dissolved, the Messanians called for aid from their former allies, above all the Achaeans and Macedon.

Aratus, leader of the Achaeans at this time, responded promptly to the Messanian plea without waiting for Philip, whom he knew to be busy with the Dardanians. However, the Achaeans were out-manouvered and soundly beaten by the Aetolians, which is why it became essential for Philip to hurry to Corinth to take matters in hand. The contingencies of the international situation meant that rather than seeking an immediate military solution, the king was initially inclined towards negotiations.

Trouble was brewing to the east where a war had broken out between Rhodes and Byzantium, enthusiastically encouraged by the Ptolemaic Egyptians. Also with Egyptian encouragement, Athens had revolted from Macedon, and Sparta was becoming restless once more. The outlook to the west was ominous. Relations between Rome and Carthage were deteriorating rapidly as a result of Hannibal’s unchecked expansion in Spain, and the two Illyrian leaders, Demetrius and Sacerdilaidas were becoming increasingly assertive. Sacerdilaidas had vigorously joined in the Aetolian aggression, and not to be outdone, Demetrius had embarked on the expansionist policy on the borders of the Roman protectorate which was to bring the legions down on his head. In short, Philip was emphatically not looking for trouble if he could talk his way out of it instead.

Leaving Demetrius to be dealt with by the Romans, Philip bribed Sacerdilaidas to his side and thus secured his western frontier. However, the Aetolians had already shown how little they feared Macedon’s intervention. Aetolia’s privateers had captured a ship of the Macedonian royal navy, and taking it to Aetolia, sold the ship and enslaved its captain and crew. Now convinced that Philip had come south to fight, the Aetolians pre-empted negotiations by resuming hostilities. The war which followed is known as the Social War, since it involved the allies of Macedon. It was basically another spat between the Greek confederations. However this spat was more important than most because it established the military and political situation which prevailed at the time of the coming of Rome.

In response to Aetolian attacks Philip arrived in Epirus via Thessaly. He ignored an Aetolian attempt to distract him by a very substantial raid into Macedonia and took the city of Ambracus. Then, with a combined army of Macedonians, Epirots and Achaeans he pushed deep into the Aetolian heartland. However, his hopes of finishing the war that year were dashed by news that the Dardanians were preparing a larger and more organized assault on his kingdom. Philip was desperately needed in the north once more. It was while en route to deal with the latest crisis that Philip added to his entourage, Demetrius of Pharos fresh from his drubbing by the Romans. It was unlikely that Philip would look kindly on Roman intervention in Illyria, which he perceived as part of his bailiwick, and his kindly reception of Demetrius was probably a reflection of his pique.

Hearing of Philip’s immanent return, the Dardanians abandoned their plans for invasion. It was now late in the campaigning season, and everyone assumed that hostilities were now concluded for the year. Consequently it came as a shock to the Aetolians and their allies when Philip suddenly reappeared in Corinth with a picked force of some 6,000 men and advanced through the winter snows into Arcadia in the eastern Peloponnese.

A highly profitable and successful campaign followed in which Philip’s conduct and generalship aroused near-universal admiration in Greece. The end of the year 219 BC saw Philip back at the city of Argos with the Aetolians packed out of the Peloponnese and the peninsula largely subdued apart from Sparta, soon to be under the rule of King Nabis, a ruler in the tradition of the late Cleomenes. At about this time, word reached Philip that Rome was on the brink of war with Carthage, as Hannibal had attacked Rome’s ally in Spain (the city of Saguntum) and Carthage had failed to respond appropriately to this outrage by one of its generals. This news, with its momentous implications for the future of Greece and Macedon, was considered of little note at the time.

Summer 218 BC saw Hannibal and his elephants set out for the Alps, and a Roman army head off in the opposite direction to Spain. In the east, the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Ptolemies and the Seleucids began a serious war over possession of an area called Coele-Syria. Between the two, the states of Greece resumed where they had left off the previous winter. Philip had obtained supplies of corn from the Achaeans to compensate for the effects of the Aetolian raid on Macedonia the previous year. Perhaps feeling the Aetolians owed him yet more corn, he suddenly switched his attack from land to sea and, with ships partly supplied by Sacerdilaidas, pillaged the island of Cephallenia, a valuable ally which supplied Aetolia with both corn and ships.

On hearing that the Aetolians had attacked Thessaly, Philip made another lightning change of direction. Taking advantage of the absence of Aetilia’s army he attacked the country once more with a force which included Macedonian regulars, Illyrian tribesmen, Thracian irregulars and Cretan bowmen. These made their way through the narrow mountain passes before the remaining Aetolians had time to mount an effective defence, and took and sacked Thermus, the principal city of the Aetolian confederacy.

The Macedonian army then razed much of the town, in contravention of the laws of war as the Greeks perceived them, and so earned Philip the undying enmity of the Aetolians. On hearing of the attack on Aetolia, the Spartans declared against Macedon, and were stunned to find that within days the Macedonian king had departed Aetolia and was plundering their lands.

Philip might have done more, but his commanders were suffering from divided loyalties. There were those who endorsed the operations in Greece, and those who were aware that Thessaly and Macedonia were lightly defended in consequence. Chief among those with the latter view was Philip’s counsellor, Apelles. Polybius (who, as an Achaean, was all in favour of Philip beating up the Aetolians) claims that Apelles had expected his seniority to impress the young king to the point where Apelles might have been the de facto ruler of Macedon. When Philip showed himself both highly competent and very much his own man, Apelles became bitter and treacherous. The Macedonian kings traditionally allowed their followers considerable freedom of speech and action, but when they overstepped the mark (as Apelles proceeded to do by interfering with the efficiency of the army) these same kings could also be remarkably abrupt. Apelles and the generals who supported him were promptly executed and their followers purged from the royal court.

By way of appeasing the remainder of Apelles’ faction in the army, Philip switched operations the following year to Boeotia, intending to secure this area and so prevent Aetolian raids on Macedon and Thessaly. It was after another substantial victory in this new theatre of operations that news reached Philip that Hannibal had thrashed the Romans at the Battle of Lake Trasimene in Italy.

This was of particular interest to Philip as Sacerdilaidas now felt that his efforts for the Macedonian cause had been insufficiently rewarded and he had turned openly hostile. With Hannibal keeping the Romans out of the game, the Illyrians had returned whole-heartedly to state-sponsored piracy and regional trade was suffering. Urged on by Demetrius of Pharos, Philip began to contemplate patching up a peace with the Aetolians, and subduing the Illyrians once and for all. Then using Illyria as a springboard, Philip might establish a Macedonian presence in war-weakened Italy. Perhaps after all, the master plan of Pyrrhus could be realized.

This was, as Polybius remarks, the moment when the separate threads of Greek and Roman history became intertwined, and events in the west directly affected Greece. It was a moment not only of great opportunity, but of great danger. In the peace conference with the Aetolians which was part one of Philip’s ambitious new plan, Polybius has one speaker remark:

Whether the Carthaginians beat the Romans or the Romans beat the Carthaginians, it is highly unlikely that the winners will be content to rule Italy and Sicily. They are sure to come here. …if you wait for these clouds gathering in the west to cover Greece, I very much fear these truces and wars and games at which we now play are going to be rudely interrupted.

After their mauling at Macedonian hands over the previous few years the Aetolians were keen to retire and lick their wounds under the mantle of Greek unity. This left Philip free to move his plan to part two and attack Illyria, where he made considerable progress before the winter closed in.

During the winter was all sides in the converging regional conflict mustered their forces for a hectic campaigning season to come. The Romans had elected as consul Aemilius Paulus, the conqueror of Illyria in 219 BC, and were gathering the largest army they had ever put into the field in an effort to push Hannibal from Italy. Philip was busily building a fleet (mostly fast light ships of the Illyrian type) for operations in the Adriatic, and the Achaeans and Aetolians were quietly preparing for another bout of mutual hostilities. Sacerdilaidas was industriously building ships to counter Philip’s fleet, and had sent to the Romans for aid. The Romans had problems of their own at this point, but dispatched a small fleet of some dozen ships from Lilybaeum in Sicily with instructions to familiarize themselves with the situation in the Balkans and Adriatic coast.

Philip’s fleet, pushing northward, encountered these ships, the first military encounter between Macedonians and Romans. The Macedonians did not engage the newcomers, for Philip had not yet decided on war with Rome. Philip thought he had encountered the full Roman fleet, and was uncertain whether this presaged another major Roman incursion into the region. So perturbed was he by this extension of Roman power that he pulled back his forces which had reached as far as Apollonia and awaited developments.

Though he had not lost any men, this retreat was a blow to Philip’s prestige. The setback soured the young king who had heretofore enjoyed little but outright success. He would have further cursed when he realized that he had retreated from Illyria, not before the full Roman fleet, but merely a strong reconnaissance force. None of this would have disposed him favourably to Rome. Later in the year, news reached Macedonia that even as Philip was pulling back from Illyria, in expectation of the arrival of a Roman army, Hannibal was busily wiping out that same army at Cannae, killing, among tens of thousand of others, the consul Aemilius Paulus.

This development appears to have tipped the balance. However, Philip did not immediately declare war on Rome. It is possible that Philip may even have considered that he had left it too late to do so, and that Rome must now surely sue for peace. However, as 215 BC began, and the Romans fought grimly on, Philip could offer assistance to Carthage without appearing simply to climb on to the bandwagon of Hannibal’s success. Led by an Athenian, Xenophanes, ambassadors were sent to make an agreement for an offensive alliance against the Romans.

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