“Flying Fortress” Boeing B-17 Part II

Although it is sometimes introduced as the most famous of all US World War II aircraft, there are many who will argue that Boeing’s B-17 Flying Fortress ranks equally with several other superb machines which became available to the US Army at just the right moment. The North American P-51 Mustang has its ardent advocates for pride of place in the USAAF’s wartime armoury, but it was a child of war, conceived to live, fight and endure in the battle-torn skies of Europe. The origin of the Fortress was very different, its gestation long and troubled.

In the first few years after World War I the US Army Air Corps’ Brigadier General William (‘Billy’) Mitchell began his campaign in favour of strategic bombing, demonstrating (perhaps inconclusively) the ascendancy of bomber over battleship in July 1921 and September 1923 by the destruction of captured or obsolete warships anchored at sea. His burning belief in air power led to a bitter campaign, against the US Navy initially, but later involving also the US Army. In the last month of 1925 ‘Billy’ Mitchell was court-martialled and suspended from the service. He resigned very soon after this verdict, so that he could continue his campaign for the creation of the air force which he believed was needed by the USA. World War II was to prove him right in his ideas for in 1946, 10 years after his death, he was elevated to the rank of the nation’s heroes by the posthumous award of the Congressional Medal of Honour.

Although Mitchell had been discredited in 1925, there were many of his former colleagues who were less outspoken but nevertheless believed in the concept of air power. With Mitchell no longer there to provide support and encouragement, the efforts of this small steering nucleus were necessarily slow. More far sighted, in some ways, were the nation’s aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, for example, began work in 1930 on its Models 214 and 215, twin-engined developments of its revolutionary Model 200 Monomail civil airliner. Built as a private venture these were ordered in small numbers as Y1B-9 and YB-9, but the first significant order for monoplane bombers went to the Glenn L. Martin Company for 48 twin-engined B-10 bombers.

Deliveries of production B-10s began in June 1934, and in a changed climate of opinion the US Army had issued a month earlier its specification for an even more advanced multi-engined bomber, able to haul a bomb load of 2,000 lbs (907 kg) over a range of between 1,020 miles (1640 km) and, optimistically, 2,200 miles (3540 km), at speeds of between 200 – 250 mph (322 – 402 km/h). So far as the US Army was concerned, ‘multi’ meant more than one engine but Boeing, invited to submit its proposal for this requirement, elected to use four engines to power its Model 299, on which design work was initiated in mid-June 1934.

For Boeing the Model 299, built as a private venture, was a make or break gamble. Hitherto the company had built aircraft in only ‘penny packet’ numbers. The failure of the B-9 to win a worthwhile order had forced economies af near desperation upon Boeing, with its work force split in half and working two weeks on and two weeks off. Unless the Model 299 entered production in significant numbers the company faced, at the least, a very bleak prospect. Not surprisingly, every effort was devoted to the success of the project; every employee knew that he or she had an important contribution to make if the company was to survive.

The US Army specification had stipulated that the prototype should be available for test in August 1935, and however impossible this target had seemed in mid-1934, it became reality on 16 July 1935 when the Model 299 was rolled out of its hangar at Boeing Field, Seattle, for its first introduction to the press. Headlines on the following day announced the new’15-ton Flying Fortress’, and seizing upon the name the company had it registered as the official name of its Model 299. Contrary to popular belief, this was not because of its defensive armament, but because it was procured as an aircraft which would be operated as a mobile flying fortress to protect America’s coastline, a concept which needs some explanation.

USAAC protagonists of air power were still compelled to step warily, despite procurement of the B-10 bomber, for the US Navy had the most prestigious support in the corridors of power and was determined to keep the upstart US Army in its place. Even if strategic bombers were required, efforts must be made to prevent the US Army acquiring such machines. The USAAC was, however, quite astute when needs be and so, with tongue in cheek, succeeded in procuring 13 YB-17s, the original service designation of the Fortress, for coastal defence. However, this explanation anticipates the story.

On 28 July 1935 the Model 299 flew for the first time: just over three weeks later it was flown non-stop to Wright Field, Ohio, to be handed over for official test and evaluation. The 2,100-mile (3 380-km) flight had been made at an average speed of 252 mph (406 km/h), a most impressive performance which augured well for the future. The elation of the Boeing company was understandable, especially with confirmation that initial trials were progressing well. On 30 October 1935 hopes were dashed with the news that the prototype had crashed on take-off. Subsequent investigation was to prove that the attempt to take-off had been made with the controls locked, and in view of the satisfactory testing prior to this accident, the USAAC decided on the procurement of 13 YB-17s (later Y1B-17s), plus one example for static testing.

The prototype (X13372) which had crashed at Wright Field was powered by four 750 hp (559 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1690-E Hornet radial engines. The cantilever monoplane wings were in a low-wing configuration, the wing section at the root so thick that it was equal to half the diameter of the circular-section fuselage; and wide-span trailing-edge flaps were provided to help reduce take-off and landing speeds. Landing gear was of the electrically retractable tailwheel type. Armament comprised five machine-guns, and a maximum bomb load of 4,800 lbs (2177 kg) could be carried in the fuselage bomb bay.

The initial Y1B-17 (36-149) flew for the first time on 2 December 1936, and differed from the prototype by having 930-hp (694-kW) Wright GR-1820-39 Cyclone radials, accommodation for a crew of nine, and minor changes in detail. Twelve were delivered between January and August 1937, equipping the USAAC’s 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field, Virginia. The thirteenth aircraft went to Wright Field for further tests and after one of the Y1B-17s survived without damage the turbulence of a violent storm, it was decided that the static test example would, instead, be completed as an operational aircraft. Designated Y1B-17A, this aircraft (37-369) was provided with 1,000 hp (746 kW) GR-1820-51 engines each fitted with a Moss/ General Electric turbocharger (supercharger powered by a turbine driven by exhaust gases). It flew for the first time on 29 April 1938, and subsequent testing by the USAAC gave convincing proof of the superiority of the turbocharged engine over those which were normally aspirated, and such engines were to become standard on all future versions of the Fortress.

The utilisation of the Y1B-17s, designated B-17 in service with the 2nd Bombardment Group, did little to improve relations between the US Army and US Navy. When three of the force were used to stage an ‘interception’ of the Italian liner Rex some 750 miles (1207 km) out in the Atlantic, to demonstrate that the USAAC was more than capable of defending the nation’s coastline, it sparked a row which dispersed the air power disciples from General Headquarters Air Force (GHQAF) to other commands, where they were remote from each other and potential influential supporters. Orders for additional B-17s had to be reduced after it had been underlined by Major General Stanley D. Embrick that . . . “the military superiority of a B-17 over the two or three smaller aircraft which could be procured with the same funds has yet to be established.” This helps explain why, despite the growing war clouds in Europe, the USAAC had less than 30 B-17s when Hitler’s forces invaded Poland on 1 September 1939.

The order for Y1B-17s was followed by a contract for 39 B-17Bs, more or less identical to the Y1B-17A prototype with turbocharged engines. The first of these flew on 27 June 1939, and all had been delivered by March 1940. In 1939 the B-17C was ordered, the first of the 38 on contract making its first flight on 21 July 1940. They differed by having 1,200 hp (895 kW) R-1820-65 engines, and by an increase from five to seven machine guns.

The B-17C was the first version of this bomber to be supplied to the RAF in Great Britain, which designated the 20 examples received in early 1941 as Fortress I. Equipping No. 90 Squadron, they were used operationally for the first time on 8 July 1941 when aircraft launched a high-altitude (30,000 ft / 9145 m) attack on Wilhelmshaven. In the 26 attacks made on German targets during the next two months the Fortress Is proved unsatisfactory, although there was American criticism of the way in which they had been deployed. Nonetheless, their use in daylight over German territory had proved that their operating altitude was an inadequate defence in itself, and so they needed more formidable defensive armament, for Messerschmitt Bf 109E and 109F fighters had little difficulty in intercepting them at heights of up to 32,000 ft (9750 m). Until improvements in the Fortress were made, or means found of deploying them more effectively, they were withdrawn from operations over Europe.

With the end of 1941 drawing near, the USA was soon to become involved in World War 11, initially in the Pacific theatre, but following the containment of the initial explosion of Japanese expansion it was decided that the Allies would first concentrate their efforts on bringing about a speedy conclusion of the war in Europe. Thus, large numbers of B-17s which otherwise would have found employment in the Far East were instead to equip the USAAF’s 5th Air Force in Britain. Those allocated to serve with the Anglo-American Northwest African Air Forces were later to become part of the US 15th Air Force.

In 1940 Boeing received an order for 42 B-17Ds. These differed little from the B-17C, but as a result of early reports of combat conditions in Europe were provided with self-sealing tanks and additional armour for protection of the crew, and these were delivered during 1941. The B-17E which followed was the first version to benefit from the RAF’s operational experience with its Fortress Is. A major redesign provided a much larger tail unit to improve stability at high altitude, and to overcome the criticism of inadequate defence 13 machine-guns were mounted in one manual and two power-operated turrets, radio compartment, waist stations and in the nose. Of the 512 of this version built under two contracts, the first flew on 5 September 1941. B-17Es were the first to serve with the 8th Air Force in Europe, with deliveries beginning in July 1942. They were used operationally for the first time by the 97th Bombardment Group, 12 aircraft being detailed for a daylight attack on Rouen on 17 August, with fighter escort provided by RAF Supermarine Spitfires.

The B-17F, of which the first flew on 30 May 1942, was the first version to be built in large numbers. Boeing produced 2,300 at Seattle, and further construction of 1,105 came from Douglas (605) and Lockheed Vega (500). Major changes included a redesigned nose, and strengthened landing gear to cater for a higher gross weight. Other changes included increased fuel capacity, the introduction of additional armour, provision of external bomb racks beneath the inner wings and, on late production aircraft, the introduction of R-1820-97 engines.

The B-17Es and B-17Fs became used extensively by the 8th Air Force in Europe, but in two major operations against German strategic targets, on 17 August and 14 October 1943, a total of 120 aircraft were lost. Clearly the Fortresses could not mount an adequate defence, no matter how cleverly devised was the box formation in which they flew. The hard truth was that without adequate long-range fighter escort they were very vulnerable to attack during mass daylight operations. Many of the losses were attributed to head-on attack, and the final major production version was planned to offset this shortcoming.

Thus the B-17Gs had a ‘chin’ turret housing two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns mounted beneath the fuselage nose, which meant that this version carried a total of thirteen 12.7 mm (0.50 in) guns. To increase the aircraft’s operational ceiling, later production examples had an improved turbocharger for their R-1820-97 engines. B-17G production totalled 8,680, built by Boeing (4,035), Douglas (2,395), and Lockheed Vega (2,250).

Although used most extensively in Europe and the Middle East, B-17s were operational in every area where US forces were fighting. In the Pacific theatre they offered invaluable service for maritime patrol, reconnaissance, and conventional and close-support bombing. A number of variants were also produced or converted for special purposes and operations, and details of these follow. Although almost 13,000 B-17s were built, only a few hundred B-17Gs were retained in USAAF service after the end of the war, and these were soon made redundant.

Postwar history

Following the end of World War II, the B-17 was quickly phased out of use as a bomber and the Army Air Forces retired most of its fleet. Flight crews ferried the bombers back across the Atlantic to the United States where the majority were sold for scrap and melted down, although significant numbers remained in use in second-line roles such as VIP transports, air-sea rescue and photo-reconnaissance. Strategic Air Command (SAC), established in 1946, used reconnaissance B-17s (at first called F-9 [F for Fotorecon], later RB-17) until 1949. With the disestablishment of the U.S. Army Air Forces and the establishment of an independent U.S. Air Force in 1947, most extant B-17s were transferred to USAF.

The USAF Air Rescue Service of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) operated B-17s as so-called “Dumbo” air-sea rescue aircraft. Work on using B-17s to carry airborne lifeboats had begun in 1943, but they entered service in the European theater only in February 1945. They were also used to provide search and rescue support for B-29 raids against Japan. About 130 B-17s were converted to the air-sea rescue role, at first designated B-17H and later SB-17G. Some SB-17s had their defensive guns removed, while others retained their guns to allow use close to combat areas. The SB-17 served through the Korean War, remaining in service with USAF until the mid-1950s.

In 1946, surplus B-17s were chosen as drone aircraft for atmospheric sampling during the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests, being able to fly close to or even through the mushroom clouds without endangering a crew. This led to more widespread conversion of B-17s as drones and drone control aircraft, both for further use in atomic testing and as targets for testing surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. One hundred and seven B-17s were converted to drones. The last operational mission flown by a USAF Fortress was conducted on 6 August 1959, when a DB-17P, serial 44-83684 , directed a QB-17G, out of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, as a target for an AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missile fired from a McDonnell F-101 Voodoo. A retirement ceremony was held several days later at Holloman AFB, after which 44-83684 was retired. It was subsequently used in various films and in the 1960s television show 12 O’Clock High before being retired to the Planes of Fame aviation museum in Chino, California. Perhaps the most famous B-17, the Memphis Belle, has been restored – with the B-17D The Swoose underway – to its World War II wartime appearance by the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Special operations

B-17s were used by the CIA front companies Civil Air Transport, Air America and Intermountain Aviation for special missions. These included B-17G 44-85531, registered as N809Z. These aircraft were primarily used for agent drop missions over the People’s Republic of China, flying from Taiwan, with Taiwanese crews. Four B-17s were shot down in these operations.

In 1957 the surviving B-17s had been stripped of all weapons and painted black. One of these Taiwan-based B-17s was flown to Clark Air Base in the Philippines in mid-September, assigned for covert missions into Tibet.

On 28 May 1962, N809Z, piloted by Connie Seigrist and Douglas Price, flew Major James Smith, USAF and Lieutenant Leonard A. LeSchack, USNR to the abandoned Soviet arctic ice station NP 8, as Operation Coldfeet. Smith and LeSchack parachuted from the B-17 and searched the station for several days. On 1 June, Seigrist and Price returned and picked up Smith and LeSchack using a Fulton Skyhook system installed on the B-17. N809Z was used to perform a Skyhook pick up in the James Bond movie Thunderball in 1965. This aircraft, now restored to its original B-17G configuration, is on display in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

Specifications (B-17G):

Engines: Four 1,200-hp Wright R-1820-97 Cyclone turbocharged radial piston engines
Weight: Empty 36,135 lbs., Max Takeoff 65,500 lbs.
Wing Span: 103ft. 9in.
Length: 74ft. 4in.
Height: 19ft. 1in.

Maximum Speed at 25,000 ft: 287 mph
Cruising Speed: 182 mph
Ceiling: 35,800 ft.
Range: 2,000 miles with 6,000 lb. bomb load

13 12.7-mm (0.5-inch) machine guns
Up to 17,600 pounds of bombs

Number Built: ~12,800+

  1. Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress variants
  2. B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies
  3. B-17 Flying Fortress units of the United States Army Air Forces

Lockheed Martin F-21

Lockheed Martin unveiled its newest member to the F-16 family – F-21, where 21 stands for 21st century. It is an enhanced version of F-16 Block 70. Though it carries a lot of identical systems that are already available on Block 70, it does have its own unique specifications- that according to Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President-Strategy and Business Development, is only available to Indian Air Force as of now.

Unlike Block 70 that has a digital cockpit with 3 MFD’s (Multi-function display) including one big 6″ x 8″ CPD (Center pedestal display), F-21 has a wide flat panel display like the one found on F-35 Lightning II and a 6″ x 8″ CPD.

F-21 Cockpit with wide flat panel display and CPD

F-21 is more lethal as it can carry more missiles using triple launcher mounted on each wing. It is able to carry up to 6 Air-to-Air missiles on each wing. Another unique feature of F-21 is its capability to carry AN/ALE-50 TDS (Towed Decoy System) on its wing pylon as well as in the tail section, contrary to Block 70 that carries it only on its wing pylon.

Triple launcher on F-21

The dorsal fin on F-21 has also being redesigned, the reason is yet to be known. Apart from these changes everything is pretty much similar to the Block 70. One of the major upgrade to F-16 Block 70/F-21 is the addition of Northrop Gruman AN/APG-83 SABR (Scalable Agile Beam Radar) AESA radar. According to Northrop, capabilities on AN/APG-83 are derived from highly successful APG-77 (F-22) and APG-88 (F-35).


It provides greater detection range, 20+ target tracking, high resolution SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) maps for all-weather, all-environment precision strike. It can track at least 20 targets within ±60 degrees of F-16’s nose while continuing to support a designated scan pattern. The air combat mode on APG-83 automatically acquires and tracks the first target detected within the scan volume selected by the pilot. Another distinctive feature of F-16 Block 70/F-21 is the 6″ x 9″ high resolution CPD (Center Pedestal Display) which provides critical tactical imagery to pilot. The CPD also features color moving maps, zoom functionality, and digital display of Flight Instrument Data. The Block 70 also features Auto GCAC (Ground Collision Avoidance System). At the core of F-16 Block 70/F-21 resides General Electric F-110-GE-132 Engine. It produces 32,500 pounds (14,741 kg) of thrust (142 kN). These were the specifications of F-21 aka F-16 Block 70.

Lockheed Martin had entered the mammoth MMRCA competition in 2008 with its F-16 Block 60 (F-16 IN). The Block 60 was leased from UAE Air Force for demonstration as it was the sole operator of the version. After MMRCA was scrapped, Lockheed Martin entered another MMRCA 2.0 (Unofficial Name) with its latest offering F-16 Block 70. Now at Aero India 2019 it offered their F-16 for the third time, only this time it was called F-21. Lockheed Martin seems to have adopted the Russian marketing gimmick of re-branding their product in a bid to win the contract or maybe they are trying really hard to delink the legacy F-16 carries with India’s arch enemy.

After the incident of MiG 21 shooting down F-16, it would be interesting to see how Indian Air Force reacts to the so called All New F-21.

Did IAF MiG 21 really shot down PAF F16?

Indian air force conducted a surgical air strike on 26 Feb 2019 in Balokot, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. This was the first time the IAF had crossed LoC since 1971. On the very next day PAF responded by sending a strike package consisting of F-16 Falcon, JF-17 Thunder & Mirage 5.

IAF Radars picked up almost 22 PAF fighter jets at around 10:00 AM. Most of the fighter jets from the strike package were used for deception. They quickly turned when intercepted by Sukhoi 30 MKI and Mirage 2000. However 3 F-16’s headed towards Naushera sector of Rajouri district. Two MiG 21 Bison from 51 Squadron that took off from Srinagar Air Force Station intercepted the F-16 over Naushera sector near LoC. The first dogfight between IAF & PAF just started. One of the MiG 21 Bison was flown by Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman.

MiG 21 Bison is highly upgraded version of MiG 21 Bis and the most advanced MiG 21 currently in service.

Indian Air Force MiG 21 Bison

The MiG 21 Bison used by IAF is not an archaic cold war era fighter but is highly upgraded version capable of engaging 4th generation aircrafts. The upgrade was done by HAL in late 90’s and early 2000’s which included Phazotron Kopyo radar, an Israeli ELTA EL/L 8222 ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) pod, capability to fire HOBS R73 (±45) close combat missile and R77 BVR missiles. It also featured bubble canopy for better visibility unlike the framed ones found on older generation MiG 21. The HMTDS (Helmet Mounted Target Designation System) provided pilot to lock on to its target by just looking at it.

When F-16’s entered the Indian air space they could have fired their AIM 120 AMRAAM Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile towards the intercepting MiG 21’s. But violating air space of a sovereign nation and shooting down its fighter aircraft would have been catastrophic as it would be treated as an official act of war by India. This might be the reason why MiG 21 and F-16 ended up in a Within Visual Range (WVR) combat over Naushera.

The MiG 21 Bisons having High Off-Bore sight R73 (±45 deg) heat seaking missile combined with HMTDS (Helmet Mounted Target Designation System) proved to be a deadly combination. Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman having the target in sight went to score his kill by flying into the hostile air space despite being advised by the controller to fall back. As soon as the R73 was fired from MiG 21 another F-16, probably wingman of the targeted F-16 fired 2 AIM 120 AMRAAM radar guided missile. One of the missile hit Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG and the second missile failed to hit its target – another MiG 21 that was in the vicinity, and ended up in Indian territory.

Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman ejected over PoK and was caught by the Pakistani Army.

There are conflicting reports about F-16 being shot down by the IAF. Pakistan completely denied using their F-16’s in the air operations against India. There is no plausible evidence of F-16 being actually shot down by the MiG 21. But two important questions go unanswered.

    PAF inventory of fighter jets consists of F-16, JF-17, Mirage III, Mirage 5 and F-7 (Chinese version of MiG 21). None of these air crafts except F-16 is capable of firing AIM 120. It is not compatible with any other air crafts. Then how did AIM 120 ended up on Indian soil close to the place where dogfight was fought? This proves that F-16 was used in the offensive air operation.

    Pakistani PM Mr Imran Khan did a press conference at about 11:00 AM and said:

    Do Hindustan ke MiGs ne Pakistan ki retaliation mein border cross kiya, unhe shoot down kiya gaya. Aur mein ye bhi aaj kehna chahta hoon ki pilots humare saath hai.

    (Two Indian MiGs crossed the border in retaliation of Pakistan and were shot down. I also want to say that pilots are with us)

The official twitter handle of Pakistan Armed Forces @DGISPR tweeted that one pilot is captured and other two are in the area.

Although there is no concrete evidence there are pieces of information which when put together gives a high probability that F-16 was indeed shot down by and Indian MiG 21 Bison aircraft.

As per Indian claim only one air craft was shot down all other air crafts returned safely to their respective air bases. Only one pilot i.e Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistani army. Then who were the two other pilots that PM and @DGISPR were talking about? This curious case of the two anonymous pilots is still to be answered.

With a credible evidence of the AIM 120 and two other anonymous pilots. It can be logically assumed that the two pilots were indeed Pakistani pilots flying twin seater F16 B/D. There were reports that one of the pilot Wg Cdr Shahzaz Ud Din was lynched by the Pakistani mob who mistook him for an Indian Pilot. He was later rescued by the Pak Army and taken to hospital but succumbed to his injuries.

So if you ask- Can a MiG 21 Bison shoot down an F-16? then the answer would be- MiG 21 Bison can be threatening to an F-22 Raptor as well if engaged in close combat (given than the F-22 had already lost all its Beyond Visual Range advantage)

To answer whether or not MiG 21 shot F-16 in the Dogfight of Naushera we have to factor in a lot of data such as what was the RoE, what was the situational awareness of both the pilots, was communication intact, what offensive and defensive tactics were employed by both the pilots, how effective and experienced both the pilots were in piloting their respective air craft and so on.

The answer cannot be given with certainty, but the probability of MiG 21 shooting down F-16 seems to be high.

Dragoon and Anvil I

At the end of 1943 an Anvil planning group known as Force 163, headed by Brigadier-General Garrison H. Davidson, the US 7th Army Engineer, was established at the école Normal at Bouzareah just outside Algiers. Force 163 included a French component under Colonel Jean L. Petit. Toulon became their focus, along with the coast to the east of the port. The Alps Maritimes presented a challenge, though the valley of the Argens river formed a path through the mountains between the Massif de Maures and the Provence Alps. Allied headquarters sent a message to the US 7th Army’s headquarters at Palermo, which showed that Eisenhower was determined to go through with Anvil. The telegram stated: ‘An estimate is required as a matter of some urgency as to the accommodations which you would require for your planning staffs should you be asked to undertake the planning of an operation of similar size to Husky …’.

Following the Sicilian campaign, the US 7th Army had shrunk from six divisions to little more than the headquarters staff. They were now instructed that landings were to take place in the south of France in conjunction with Overlord, with early objectives of Lyons and Vichy, the location of the French government, and that the assault would be conducted by American and Free French Forces.

Patch takes over

The planning gathered pace in early January 1944 when Lieutenant-General Mark W. Clark replaced General Patton as the 7th Army’s commander. While Overlord continued to slip behind schedule, owing to the enormous shipping requirements, and the fighting dragged on in Italy following Anzio, it became apparent that Clark could not cope with controlling the US 5th Army as well as directing Anvil. On 2 March Lieutenant-General Alexander M. Patch, a veteran of the Pacific campaign and Guadalcanal, took over the 7th Army.

The planning staff moved to Naples to work with the 7th Army and General Lucian Truscott’s US VI Corps. Truscott understandably wanted reassurances that there would be no repeat of Anzio. A daylight attack was agreed upon, as the value of an accurate preliminary bombardment far outweighed the need for surprise. However, Patch could immediately see that conducting Anvil in early June alongside Overlord was a tall order. With Overlord soaking up all the landing craft and the fighting on the Italian front tying down Patch’s assault forces, the proposed date for Anvil began to slip towards late July.

General Wilson, the Allied Supreme Commander in the Mediterranean Theatre, was presented with the outline plans on 29 April. These envisaged a three-battalion parachute drop to support an opening two-division assault, with Commandos and Rangers securing offshore islands and the flanks. Given that Toulon was the immediate goal, a landing area to the east of the port between Cape Cavalaire and the Bay of Agay was selected. To confuse the Germans about the exact location of the landings a preliminary bombing campaign would be conducted along the entire French coast from Spain to Italy.

General de Lattre had initially proposed landing on either side of Toulon, but he did not get his way. Not unreasonably, he also wanted French troops to be the first ashore, but their lack of experience counted against them and de Gaulle refused to commit the French parachute unit. De Lattre later fell out with his deputy, General de Larminat, when the latter refused to relinquish tactical control of his forward units. De Lattre also wanted his II Corps to move swiftly to trap the Germans, whereas Patch saw this as an excuse for French troops not to have to reduce the German garrisons in Toulon and Marseilles.

Two weeks later three other options were drawn up depending on the German response to the invasion; the first foresaw a partial German withdrawal, the second a complete German withdrawal and the third a complete German surrender, bringing a halt to all organised resistance. It was obvious that the most likely was the first option. The planners assessed that it was unlikely that the Germans would be able to hold the invaders on the beaches, so would offer a token resistance before abandoning the coastal zone and conducting a fighting withdrawal in the lower Rhône region.

Plans went ahead for a two-division landing east of Toulon, with a target date of early August. The key objectives remained Toulon and Marseilles, followed by Lyons and Vichy. In light of the fact that there would be no Sledgehammer, on 1 August Anvil officially became Operation Dragoon. It has been said that this change was due to a breach in security about the Anvil codename, but others claimed the new name was chosen because Churchill had been ‘dragooned’ into the operation. After all the frustrations over Anvil and the many false starts, Eisenhower recommended it should be conducted no later than 30 August, with a target date of the 15th.

Invasion beaches

There were to be six invasion beaches. From north to south they were: Rosie (north of San Raphael), Camel (around San Raphael and Fréjus), Delta (around Ste-Maxime and St-Tropez), Alpha (at Cavalaire-sur-Mer), Garbo and Romeo (between Cavalaire-sur-Mer and Le Lavandou). Islands south-east of Le Lavandou were codenamed Sitka, while the invasion fleet assembly area was dubbed Kodak. The airborne drop zone south-east of Draguignan was codenamed Rugby.

Enemy defences on the islands of Port Cros and Levant were to be neutralised under the cover of darkness by Sitka Force, consisting of the 1st Special Service Force. Once this task had been achieved, it would secure the island of Porquerolles under the codename of Satan Force. Similarly, French special forces, notably the French Groupe de Commandos, dubbed Romeo Force, would neutralise German forces on the Cap Nègre, and were also to block the coastal highway and take the high ground 3 km to the north. Once this had been completed, they would be in a position to protect the left flank of the landings, and once a beachhead was established, the special forces would fall under US VI Corps control. Another French unit, the French Naval Assault Group known as Rosie Force, was to land the night before near Pointe de Trayas with the aim of disrupting the Cannes–San Raphael and Cannes–Fréjus highways before joining the right flank.

Kodak Force consisted of Truscott’s US VI Corps’ headquarters plus the US 3rd, 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions, supported by General du Vigier’s 1st Combat Command from the French 1st Armoured Division. Sudre’s Combat Command was to get ashore between Cape Cavalaire and Agay and link up with the airborne task force. Once de Lattre’s French II Corps had come ashore, all French forces would be placed under his command. The first echelon, consisting of General Brosset’s 1st Motorised Infantry Division and de Monsabert’s 3rd Algerian Division, were to land within the first 24 hours, followed four to eight days later by General de Vernejoul’s 9th Colonial Infantry Division.

The planners decided to commit an airborne force of divisional size, but no such force was available in the Mediterranean so a unit of comparable size was improvised from the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (RCT), the 509th and 551st Parachute Battalions and the 550th Airborne Battalion. Other units in Italy were designated glider-borne and received instruction from the 550th and the Airborne Training Centre. By early July the concentration of airborne forces in the Rome area was almost complete and aircraft providing two troop carrier wings were en route from England. The 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team came into being as part of the 17th Airborne Division on 15 March 1943, with the division’s parachute units comprising the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and Company C, 139th Airborne Engineer Battalion, which was later redesignated the 596th Airborne (Parachute) Engineer Company.

During the fighting in Italy the 517th had been assigned to Major-General Fred L. Walker’s 36th Infantry Division, which under the US IV Corps was operating on the left flank of the US 5th Army. On 17 June 1944 they had deployed south of Grosseto. After the Combined Chiefs of Staff issued a directive on 2 July to General Wilson to proceed with Anvil on 15 August, the 517th RCT was released from IV Corps and moved to join the gathering First Airborne Task Force in the Rome area.

The provisional troop carrier division was to lift the air assault with a total of 415 transport aircraft protected by Spitfires and Beaufighters all operating from bases in Italy. The first drops would take place just before dawn with the first resupply mission scheduled for the late afternoon.

On 19 and 20 July, in preparation for the invasion, forty-nine aircraft and crews comprising detachments from each of the 79th, 80th, 81st and 82nd Troop Carrier Squadrons, part of the 436th Troop Carrier Group based at RAF Membury, were dispatched to Votone Air Base in Italy. They returned to Membury on 23 and 24 August, by which time the 6th Tactical Air Depot units had moved to France.

By the end of July Patch’s invasion force numbered 155,419 men with 20,031 vehicles. It was intended by D-Day plus 30 to have 366,833 men and 56,051 vehicles ashore, and by D-Day plus 65 some 576,833 men and 91,341 vehicles.

Truscott’s US VI Corps

After the liberation of Rome the US VI Corps was pulled out of the line to prepare for its third and last amphibious assault of the war. Its three divisions had ample experience of such operations, having been blooded during the Italian campaign. However, the 36th and 45th Divisions received amphibious assault refresher courses at the Invasion Training Centre at Salerno, and the 3rd Division at Pozzuoli; once this was complete they were to move to Naples. It was not until 24 June that the 36th Infantry Division was finally allocated a role within Operation Dragoon. In the meantime the French forces were to embark at Taranto, Corsica and Oran, in a slightly unwieldy arrangement.

The US 3rd Infantry Division had had a distinguished career, having come into being during the First World War at Camp Green in North Carolina in November 1917. Eight months later it was committed to the war in France with the American Expeditionary Force to Europe. After seeing action during the Aisne-Marne offensive, the division was assigned to defend Paris and then deployed to the Marne. While other units fell back, the men of the 3rd Infantry Division held their ground, gaining the nickname the ‘Rock of the Marne’ for their unit. More recently it had seen combat in the Second World War, having landed at Felada under General Jonathan Anderson on 8 November 1942 to help secure French Morocco. Brigadier-General Truscott took command of the 3rd Infantry Division in April 1943 and it was subsequently involved in the assault on Sicily on 10 July 1943, dramatically beating the armour to Palermo and racing on to Messina. Just nine days after the invasion of the Italian mainland, on the 18th the 3rd Division took part in the Salerno landings, driving on to the Volturno and to Cassino. Following the initial assault at Salerno, the commander of the US VI Corps, Major-General Ernest J. Dawley, was replaced by General John P. Lucas. Unfortunately, Lucas’s determination to consolidate his beachhead before breaking out gave the Germans enough time to reinforce, resulting in a bloody stalemate. After a brief recuperation the division next landed on the Anzio beaches on 22 January 1944 as part of the US VI Corps. Allied forces were hemmed in for four months by German counter-attacks, and at this time Truscott replaced Lucas as commander.

That summer the 36th ‘Texas’ Infantry Division likewise was struggling up the Italian coast towards the Germans’ Pisa-Rimini defensive line. This division was originally established as a National Guard unit from Texas and Oklahoma in July 1917. It was sent to Europe in July 1918 and was involved in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Although disbanded at the end of the war, it was reactivated on 25 November 1940. Commanded by Major-General Fred Walker, the division had deployed overseas on 2 April 1943 and first saw combat on 9 September 1943 during the landing on the Gulf of Salerno at Paestum. Following its efforts against Cassino with the US 34th Infantry Division, the 36th Division held the Rapido river and was finally withdrawn on 12 March 1944 for rest and recuperation. It also took part in the Anzio landings, subsequently pushing north to take Velletri on 1 June; four days later its troops entered Rome.

The 45th Infantry Division, nicknamed the ‘Thunderbird Division’ after its insignia, was activated on 16 September 1940. It also saw action on Sicily, at Naples-Foggia, and during the Anzio and Rome-Arno operations. During the invasion of Sicily it became embroiled in the controversy surrounding the Biscari Massacre, during which seventy-six German and Italian prisoners of war were executed; as a result an officer and an NCO were court-martialled. Major-General William W. Eagles commanded the 45th Division from December 1943 until December the following year. Interestingly, its original divisional insignia had been a yellow swastika on a red diamond, but this had been changed to the Indian thunderbird on a red triangle, for obvious reasons.

While preparing for Dragoon, Truscott soon became a victim of French military pride when he fell foul of de Lattre. An agreement had been reached that Combat Command Sudre would be assigned to his corps after Brigadier Aime Sudre, of the French 1st Armoured Division, had visited him in July. With the approval of his superior, Sudre then suggested that Truscott visit them in Oran. When de Lattre heard of this meeting he was furious; he summoned Truscott to lunch and then proceeded to launch a tirade against him. The French general was clearly still smarting at the fact that his troops would not be the first ashore. Protocol had been violated and honour besmirched, and de Lattre now demanded prior sight of all orders to Sudre. Truscott, of course, could not agree to this.

Task Force Butler was created shortly before Dragoon on Truscott’s orders, as he suspected that the on-going political squabbling with de Lattre would cost him control of Combat Command Sudre, the US 7th Army’s only armoured force. Major-General Fred Butler was placed in charge of a hastily gathered ad hoc force consisting of a tank battalion, a tank destroyer company, a cavalry and reconnaissance squadron and an armoured field artillery battalion. Patch tried to reassure Truscott that he would have a free hand with Sudre’s forces, but Truscott suspected they would revert to French command once ashore in the Riviera and he would lose them.

French Resistance

Patch, Truscott and de Lattre were also expecting support from the French Resistance. Before the German occupation of the southern Free Zone, Lyons in particular was a key centre for the Resistance organisations, hosting the Brutus network set up by de Gaulle. Marseilles similarly played host to two major resistance movements, the noncommunist coalition known as Mouvements Unis de Résistance (MUR) and the French Communist Party’s irregular partisan riflemen known as the Franc-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Of the two, the FTP was the stronger with up to 2,000 men, while the MUR had fewer than 800. Socialist Party members in the city made up an important component of the MUR, and lawyer Gaston Defferre was in command of the Socialist militia as well as head of the local Allied intelligence network. He was also a member of the Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO – the French Section of the Workers’ International) Socialist Party and a leading figure in the Brutus network.

A number of the city’s Corsican crime syndicates also became central to the non-communist underground, which lacked the experience to carry out effective resistance work. Due to their anticommunist activities in Marseilles before the war, few of the resistance-minded Corsicans were accepted into the maligned communist underground.

Unfortunately, since the MUR supported the Allies’ policy of denying the Communists arms, this stopped any meaningful cooperation between the various groups in Marseilles. While the communist and non-communist forces were superficially merged with the creation of the FFI in February 1944, the reality was that they remained at loggerheads until the FFI was absorbed into the regular French Army. An agreement was reached in the western Alps between the Head of Region 2 (Marseilles) of the MUR and the Italian Resistenza in Piedmont in May 1944, and a declaration of military and political solidarity made.

Corsica – an unnecessary diversion

After liberating Corsica, the French proposed an invasion of the island of Elba (Operation Brassard), using the 9th Colonial Infantry Division (9e DIC), two battalions of French commandos (Commandos d’Afrique and Commandos de Choc), a battalion and supplementary battery of the Colonial Artillery Regiment of Morocco (RACM) and the 2nd Group of Moroccan Tabors (2e GTM). Taking Elba would permit the Allies to dominate not only the Piombino Channel but also the coastal road used by German transport on the Italian peninsula, both of which were vital transportation arteries for the supply of German forces in western Italy. The garrison on Elba was made up of just two infantry battalions manning the fortified coastal areas, as well as several coastal artillery batteries totalling some sixty guns of medium and heavy calibre.

Initially Eisenhower was not keen on the idea, viewing it as an unnecessary diversion of resources while preparations for Anzio were under way. But once the British general Sir Henry Maitland Wilson took over in the Mediterranean Theatre, attitudes at Allied headquarters changed and the operation was approved. By this time, though, the Germans had strongly fortified Elba, an island dominated by rugged terrain, making the assault considerably more difficult.

Nevertheless, at 0400 hours on 17 June 1944 the French I Corps commenced its assault with support from forty-eight Royal Navy commandos. The lightly equipped French Choc landed at multiple points before the main landing force and neutralised the coastal artillery batteries. The French initially encountered problems in the Gulf of Campo on the south coast because of the German fortifications and the extremely rugged terrain. Opting for an alternative plan, the landing beach was shifted to the east, near Nercio, and the 9th Colonial Infantry gained a beachhead there. The crest of the 400-metre Monte Tambone Ridge overlooking the landing areas was secured by French commandos within two hours.

The Royal Navy commandos boarded and seized the German Flak ship Köln and also landed to guide in other troops heading for the beaches. Tragically a German demolition charge killed thirty-eight of them. Portoferraio was taken by the 9th Division on the 18th and the island was largely secured by the following day. Vicious fighting in the hills continued between the Germans and the Senegalese colonial infantry, with the latter employing flamethrowers. Of the garrison, 1,995 were captured and 500 killed. French losses were 252 killed and missing, and 635 men wounded. British fatalities were 38 of the 48 commandos committed, with 9 others wounded.

Dragoon and Anvil II

Dragoon’s naval support

The 8th Fleet was responsible for putting the Riviera assault force ashore and maintaining it there until such time as the French ports were secured. The Control Force was to look after supporting maritime operations while the Alpha, Delta and Camel attack forces were responsible for landing the 3rd, 45th and 36th US Infantry Divisions respectively. Vice-Admiral H. Kent Hewitt was to command the Western Task Force, consisting of some 505 US ships, 252 British, 19 French, 6 Greek and 263 merchantmen. The warships (5 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 18 light cruisers, 9 aircraft carriers and 85 destroyers) were to protect the 370 large landing ships and 1,267 small landing craft. They were allocated across the four attack forces, Task Force 84 Alpha, 85 Delta, 86 Sitka and 87 Camel.

The USS Biscayne was the flagship of Rear Admiral Bertram J. Rodgers USN, Delta Task Force Commander, while on Bayleaf was Rear Admiral Spencer S. Lewis in charge of Camel Force, supported by Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo with responsibility for the bombardment warships. Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson on the USS Augusta was in overall command of Task Force Sitka.

The USS Duane served as the flagship for the commander of the 8th Amphibious Force. This had six flotillas of landing craft, each consisting of twelve craft divided into two squadrons, B and C, making a total of seventy-two tank landing craft. Each flotilla had a sick berth attendant (medic) attached and each squadron had a medical officer. In addition, the Americans proposed to employ the Sherman Duplex Drive (DD) amphibious tank that had been developed for Overlord. The 191st, 753rd and 756th Tank Battalions were trained in the Bay of Naples for their assault role.

Task Force 84 was overseen by a Coastguard cutter and a fighter control ship, while its assault group included two attack transports each capable of carrying almost 1,600 troops and a variety of landing craft, and three attack cargo ships. The landing ships, which had been wrangled over for so long, numbered 25 LSTs supported by almost 150 various types of smaller landing craft. Task Force 85 was directed by a destroyer and a fighter direction tender; its assault group included 6 troop transports, 24 LCT/LSIs and about 110 other landing craft. Task Force 87 had 6 transport/cargo ships plus 24 LSI/LSTs supported by about 90 landing craft. Lastly Task Force 86, which was to deliver the French special forces, was the smallest, with 5 destroyer/transports, 5 LSIs and 17 other vessels.

Hewitt was reliant on the aircraft carriers for his tactical air support. These were under the overall control of Rear Admiral Thomas Troubridge RN, with the American carriers commanded by Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin USN, who had commanded the USS Ranger in action during the North African landings. Troubridge’s escort carrier Task Force 88 (TF88) comprised two groups. The first, Task Group 88.1, was made up entirely of British carriers and consisted of HMS Attacker (879 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) equipped with Seafires), HMS Emperor (800 NAS equipped with F6F Hellcats), HMS Khedive (899 NAS equipped with Seafires), HMS Pursuer (881 NAS equipped with F4F Wildcats), and HMS Searcher (882 NAS equipped with F4F Wildcats). This task group was protected by the cruisers HMS Delhi and HMS Royalist (flagship), plus five British destroyers and a Greek destroyer.

Task Group 88.2 comprised HMS Hunter (807 NAS equipped with Seafires), HMS Stalker (809 NAS equipped with Seafires), and two American carriers, USS Tulagi (VOF-01 equipped with F6F Hellcats) and USS Kasaan Bay (VF-74 equipped with F6F Hellcats). They were defended by the light cruisers HMS Colombo and HMS Caledon and six US destroyers. All the British carriers were by courtesy of Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease and American shipyards, having mostly been handed over in 1943.

Brigadier-General Gordon P. Saville of the USAAF’s 12th Air Force was appointed Air Task Commander, with the XII Tactical Air Command. The medium bomber and fighter elements of Saville’s force were provided by Seafires from the seven British carriers and Grumman Hellcats from the USS Kasaan Bay and USS Tulagi. Hewitt, Saville, Patch and Truscott travelled together from Naples on the amphibious assault ship USS Catoctin. They were joined by Admiral André Lemonnier, Chief of Staff of the French Navy.

Employing over 880 ships, Dragoon was the largest amphibious operation ever conducted in the Mediterranean; in the Pacific only three operations were bigger, out of the forty amphibious assaults conducted there. During the Allied naval build-up the Luftwaffe kept General Wiese appraised of developments, though neither he nor Blaskowitz knew exactly where the blow would fall; in any case, they had insufficient forces to defend the entire coastline.

Allied operations in the Mediterranean did not go unhindered by the Luftwaffe. On 20 April 1944 bombers attacked the ships of Task Force 66, escorting the convoy UGS-38 bound for the Mediterranean, soon after the vessels cleared Gibraltar. The convoy’s flagship was the US Coastguard cutter USS Duane, which was shortly to play a role in Dragoon on her first assignment since being converted to a command and control vessel. Three ships from the convoy were lost, including the SS Paul Hamilton, which sank with 580 people aboard, and the destroyer USS Landsdale.

As the numbers of Allied escort vessels increased, and the threat from German U-boats decreased, the US Navy had decided that cutters like the Duane would better serve national security needs as command and control vessels for amphibious landings. The USS Duane had been assigned to the 8th Fleet in mid-1943 and had escorted convoys to the Mediterranean and back and also through the Caribbean before being converted to an amphibious force flagship by the Norfolk Navy Yard in early 1944. The conversion included the removal of most of the heavy armament, the addition of more anti-aircraft weaponry, and the construction of enclosed rooms for thirty-five radio receivers and twenty-five radio transmitters.

The air war hots up

Supporting the preparations for Dragoon were the 42nd Bomb Wing (Medium) and the 17th Bomb Group. The former first saw action during the invasion of Italy, where its units flew close support missions to stop the German counter-attack on the beachhead at Salerno. As the Allied forces progressed, the 42nd took a leading part in interdicting Axis road and rail transport, and later in the attacks against the monastery at Cassino.

The 17th Bomb Group, comprising the 34th, 37th, 432nd and 9th Squadrons, was involved in the reduction of Pantelleria and Lampedusa in June 1943, participated in the invasions of Sicily in July and of Italy in September, and took part in the drive towards Rome. Because of its renowned bombing accuracy, the group was selected to bomb targets in Florence, but with strict orders to avoid the art treasures there. The 17th also took part in the assault on Monte Cassino.

In 1943 a heavy bomb group had a total complement of 294 officers and 1,487 enlisted men to fly and support 48 heavy bombers, while a medium bomb group had 294 officers and 1,297 enlisted men for 63 medium bombers.

Air operations for Dragoon were to consist of four phases:

I – operations taking place before D-Day minus 5;

II – operations taking place between D-Day minus 5 and 0350 hours on D-Day (Operation Nutmeg);

III – operations between 0350 on D-Day and H-Hour at 0800 (Operation Yokum); and

IV – all subsequent operations (Operation Ducrot).

In Phase I, from 28 April to 10 August 1944, the Allied air forces unloaded 12,500 tons of bombs on the region. Nutmeg began on the 10th, and while concentrating on coastal defences and radar stations, encompassed the whole of the French coast in order to throw the Germans off the scent. On 7 August Army Group G reported that the ‘systematic, especially heavy air attacks on the transportation links over the Rhône and Var rivers … point to a landing between these two rivers’, and ‘statements from agents confirm this suspicion’.

The following day Wiese conducted a map exercise at the garrison headquarters at Draguignan for all his generals. It soon became clear that the army was on its own and could expect no help from the Luftwaffe or navy. Wiese’s reserves consisted of a single regiment from the 148th Division, and all he could do to strengthen his defences was to move an anti-tank gun battalion to San Raphael.

On the 11th, as the Dragoon assault force began to move from the Naples area towards the south of France, the USAAF 12th Air Force sent B-25 Mitchell and B-26 Marauder twin-engined bombers and P-47 Thunderbolt fighters to strike at German gun positions along the French and Italian coasts west of Genoa. The following day almost 550 fighter-escorted B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberator fourengined bombers attacked targets in France and Italy, the B-24s striking gun positions in the Genoa, Marseilles, Toulon and Sete areas, while the B-17s bombed gun positions in the Savona area in Italy. At the same time more than a hundred P-51s strafed radar installations and other coast-watching facilities along the southern French coast.

During the night of 12/13 August twin-engined A-20 Douglas Bostons attacked targets along the Monaco-Toulon road, and fighter-bombers hit guns and barracks in the area; fighters strafed airfields at Les Chanoines, Montreal, Avignon, La Jasse, Istres-Le-Tube, Valence and Bergamo. On 13 August the 17th Bomb Group attacked the Toulon harbour gun complex twice, both times encountering intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire, which damaged a number of the attacking B-26 Marauders. The heavy Allied bombing of Toulon and other targets in the days before the landing alerted Blaskowitz to the fact that something was likely to happen in this area. Indeed, suspecting an imminent attack in the Marseilles-Toulon region, by the 14th Blaskowitz had moved the 11th Panzer Division and two infantry divisions to new positions east of the Rhône, just in case.

On the 14th nearly 500 B-17s and B-24s of the 15th Air Force bombed gun positions around Genoa, Toulon and Sete, and struck the bridges at Pont-St-Esprit, Avignon, Orange and Crest in France. In addition, thirty-one P-38 Lightnings dive-bombed Montélimar airfield, while other fighters flew over 180 sorties in support of the bombers. Also on the same day medium bombers blasted coastal defence guns in the Marseilles area. The Toulon-Nice area also came under attack, with American medium bombers hitting coastal defences and fighter-bombers pounding various gun positions, tracks, enemy headquarters and targets of opportunity; fighters also strafed radar installations and targets of opportunity along the southern coast as the Dragoon assault forces approached.

The final build-up

On the night of 10 August Churchill flew via Algiers to Italy to see General Alexander to discuss the on-going operations and his loss of resources. In Algiers Churchill saw his son Randolph, who was recovering from injuries received in a plane crash that happened while he was visiting partisan-held Yugoslavia. Almost inevitably, de Gaulle came up in their conversation and Randolph pressed his father to change his mind about his recent decision not to see the French leader. ‘After all,’ said Randolph, ‘he is a frustrated man representing a defeated country.

You, as the unchallenged leader of England and the main architect of victory, can afford to be magnanimous without fear of being misunderstood.’

Churchill arrived in Naples on the 12th and stayed with General Wilson at the Villa Rivalta. While there he received a plea from the Polish Home Army, which was struggling desperately for survival in Warsaw; it urgently needed weapons to fight the Germans. Stalin, however, considered the rising in the Polish capital an irrelevance and refused to lend it his support, apparently believing that the Red Army and its Polish allies had done all they could to reach the city. So the RAF had to make a 2,250 km round trip from southern Italy to Warsaw to drop supplies and weapons although the Red Air Force was less than 80 km away.

After a visit from the partisan leader Tito, Churchill went by barge to bathe in the hot springs at a nearby beach. On the way he passed two convoys massing for Dragoon, and the troops recognised him and cheered. In return, he sent them a note wishing them good luck. Later he wrote, ‘They did not know that if I had had my way they would have been sailing in a different direction.’

That night Roosevelt, perhaps trying to placate the British Prime Minister and with an eye to the future, sent him an invitation for a meeting in September in Quebec without Stalin. Churchill agreed. The following day he went to Capri and swam in the sea, guarded by American military police. On the 14th he went for a swim beyond Cumae, and after lunch in Naples flew to Corsica. In Ajaccio harbour he went aboard the Royal Scotsman, an old merchantman bearing six assault craft ready for Dragoon.

On 12 August, due south of Ajaccio, the Luftwaffe picked up two large convoys, each of about 75 to 100 merchant vessels and warships, including two aircraft carriers, heading north-east towards the harbour; already present in the harbour were another 20 vessels. As if to confirm that an invasion build-up was taking place, on the airfield were sighted 8 gliders and 5 multi-engine aircraft. Luftflotte 3 immediately ordered that reconnaissance efforts over these convoys be stepped up day and night.

Two days later an Fw 190 fighter of 2/NAG 13 and four Bf 109s were on convoy patrol in the area to the south of Marseilles-Toulon-Golfe du Lion, but no sightings were made. Subsequently, at 1915 hours, pilots of 2/NAG 13 reported numbers of landing craft stretching some 80 km west from Ajaccio Roads and at 2035 two convoys were sighted 160 km south of Menton, numbering over 100 landing craft as well as surface and air escorts.

In the meantime twelve P-38s of the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group dive-bombed the headquarters of Jagdfliegerführer Süd at La Nerthe. At 1900 hours the base reported that its command post had been destroyed and that three personnel had been killed, three badly wounded and three slightly injured. The phone lines were down, rendering the base inoperable as a headquarters, and the base commander decided to set up an aircraft reporting centre in Courthezon (10 km south-east of Orange) the following day.

At noon on 13 August the main invasion convoy sailed from Naples through the Sardinia-Corsica Straits and deployed off the Riviera beaches at dawn on the 15th. The destroyer USS Rodman, assigned to protect part of the invasion convoy, sailed from Taranto on 11 August. Two days later French warships joined them, and the force arrived off the Delta assault area in the Baie de Bougnon also on the 15th. The naval guns and bombers bombarded the coastline as the landing craft were lowered and the first waves of troops were ferried towards the assault beaches. In Italy on the 13th Alexander’s troops entered Florence, though their offensive strength was now exhausted and the Germans had been given time to entrench themselves more firmly in the Gothic Line. Indeed, the Allies were still stuck south of the Gothic Line ten days after the launch of Dragoon.

Long Odds at the Battle of Jonesborough

While General Ulysses S. Grant led operations against Richmond, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman directed his armies to capture Atlanta in the late summer of 1864 by severing Confederate supply lines to the city.

By Robert L. Durham

The Confederate counterattack at the Battle of Jonesborough in the late summer of 1864 was borne of desperation to prevent the Union Army from encircling Atlanta.

At the Battle of Jonsborough, Union General William T. Sherman hoped to destroy the Army of Tennessee and seize Atlanta, Georgia. By late August 1864,the situation of the Confederate Army of Tennessee in Atlanta had become extremely grim. Its new commander, General John Bell Hood, had counterattacked the superior forces of red-bearded Maj. Gen. William T. “Cump” Sherman’s forces in their positions north, east, and west of Atlanta with no success. Each loss added to the list of Confederate casualties that numbered in the thousands. Sherman had devised an effective plan of cutting the railroads into Atlanta, and the last order of business was to sever the Macon & Western Railroad.

While Hood pondered his remaining options, “Cump” ordered the vanguard of his army to pack 15 days of rations and begin marching south around the western rim of Atlanta to Jonesborough, Georgia, which was situated on the railroad that entered the city from the south. Sherman entrusted one-armed Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard with overseeing the movement. By the evening of August 27, all of Sherman’s army, except the XX Corps, was between Sandtown and Atlanta. Hood learned about the Union movements from his cavalry; however, he was in the dark as to exactly where Sherman planned to strike.

For four long months Union and Confederate forces in northern Georgia had ground away at each other, leaving the landscape on the Chattanooga-Atlanta corridor dotted with the graves of fallen Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks. Sherman, who had replaced General Ulysses S. Grant on March 18, 1864, as the commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi, had departed Chattanooga and crossed into Georgia in May 1864 with his three Union armies. He fought his way steadily south over the roughly 100 miles to the Athens of the South by repeatedly outflanking Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s smaller Army of Tennesee. Facing the superior Union numbers, Johnston took up one strong position after another only to see it turned by the resourceful Sherman. By early July, Johnston’s back was against the Chattahoochee River just north of Atlanta.

Sherman was acutely aware that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln needed a decisive Union victory to increase his chances for reelection in November. As commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi, Sherman had 100,000 men under his command. Although Sherman had substantially more men than Johnston had in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, the Confederates had strong fortifications surrounding Atlanta. A headlong attack against those fortifications was sure to be bloody, and it was by no means certain of victory.

The Confederates had their own problems. Confederate President Jefferson Davis wanted an aggressive commander who would put up a more effective defense against the Union Army at the gates of Atlanta. Dissatisfied with Johnston’s tactics, Davis sacked him on July 17. Davis replaced Johnston with Hood, who was promoted to full general.

Hood counterattacked on July 20 at Peachtree Creek north of the city but suffered a bloody repulse. Unfazed, Hood attacked again on July 22 in what became known as the Battle of Atlanta. This time the Confederate commander sent Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee’s corps on a 12-mile forced march to get around the Union left flank east of the city. But Hood miscalculated the time it would take for Hardee’s corps to get into position. Union Maj. Gen. James McPherson committed reserve forces to hold his position. Although the Confederates broke through his line briefly, they were driven back by heavy artillery fire. Hood lost 7,000 men he could ill afford to lose, while the Union Army lost McPherson, who was killed in the confused fighting when he inadvertently rode into a group of Rebels from Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne’s hard-hitting division. Sherman gave command of McPherson’s troops to Howard, who had been transferred to the western theater from the Army of the Potomac.

Sherman’s plan was not to attack Atlanta headlong but to send Union forces to slip around the Confederate flanks and sever the rail lines that were the city’s lifelines to the rest of the South. Sherman eventually found that he could not effectively cut off Atlanta from the east without getting too far away from the railroad that supplied his army. For that reason, he ordered Howard to pull back and swing to the right in order to threaten the city from the west. The Macon & Western Railroad was the only open railroad supplying the beleaguered Confederate army in Atlanta.

Hood once again saw a chance to catch the Federals off balance. On July 28, he sent Lt. Gen. Alexander Stewart and Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee to launch a coordinated attack against Howard. Hood expected to catch Howard on the move, but Howard had already entrenched by the time the Rebels attacked. The battle unfolded in the woods surrounding a rural chapel called Ezra Church. The botched attack cost Hood another 5,000 men. The Confederate Army was hemorrhaging badly. Hood had fought three large battles in nine days and come up short each time. The initiative reverted back to Sherman.

While Howard had shifted west of the city, Maj. Gen. George Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, and Maj. Gen. John Schofield, commander of the Army of the Ohio, had maintained a steady bombardment of Hood’s forces opposite them. On August 26 all of the Union forces except for Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum’s XX Corps of the Army of the Cumberland had vanished from the trenches opposite Atlanta. Sherman had put in motion the Union operation to cut the Macon & Western Railroad.

The Atlantic & Western Railroad joined the Macon & Western Railroad at Eastpoint a few miles south of Atlanta. As the Yankees marched around Atlanta, some of the units halted midway through their march to tear up sections of the Atlantic & Western Railroad before proceeding to the Macon & Western Railroad.

“In one and one-quarter hours we utterly destroyed rails and ties for twice the length of our regiment,” wrote Sergeant Charles Wills of the 8th Illinois Infantry, XX Corps, Army of the Cumberland. “We, by main strength with our hands, turned the track upside down, pried the ties off, stacked them, piled the rails across and fired the piles. Used no tools whatever.”

Howard’s troops in the vanguard arrived August 30 west of Jonesborough. Instead of occupying Jonesborough, which was lightly defended, they began entrenching on the east bank of the Flint River. On the east side of the river were bluffs that ranged from 100 to 200 feet in height. It was a strong defensive situation; to make it even stronger, Howard rested both flanks on the river. His battle line was more than a mile long. The Flint River paralleled the Macon & Western Railroad and in some places was only one mile from the railroad.

Part of the XV Corps, under Maj. Gen. John A. “Black Jack” Logan, arrived later than the others and needed to entrench hastily. The 55th Illinois, a regiment in the XV Corps, had to drive away some enemy sharpshooters and skirmishers before it could reach a prominent hill that provided a good position. “While half the brigade pushed back the enemy and held them in check, the rest piled rails and logs … into a rude low breastwork,” wrote Logan. “Lying behind this, with bayonets and tin plates—anything that could serve as a tool—the men dug into the hard gravel to increase their protection.” The Yankees built a second line of entrenchments behind the river, backed with artillery.

The Federal cavalry, under Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, picketed the Union right flank. The rest of the Army of the Tennessee was positioned, right to left: Brig. Gen. Thomas E.G. Ransom’s XVI Corps, Logan’s XV Corps, and Maj. Gen. Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s XVII Corps.

Hood knew that a large Federal force was threatening to cut his supply line with Macon, Georgia. He believed it was only two corps, though. He did not know that the force consisted of most of Sherman’s troops. On the evening of August 30, Hood ordered Hardee to take his own corps, which was commanded by Cleburne, and Lt. Gen. Stephen Dill Lee’s corps to Jonesborough. The Confederates expected to arrive before sunrise, but Cleburne’s corps, which was in the lead, encountered Yankees holding a bridge that they had to cross. Once a ford was found, Cleburne sent a communication for the rest of Hardee’s command to follow him.

“The darkness of the night, the dense woods through which we frequently marched, without roads, the want of shoes by many, and the lack of recent exercise by all [due to being in the trenches for so long,] contributed to induce a degree of straggling which I do not remember to have seen exceeded in any former march of the kind,” wrote Confederate Maj. Gen. Patton Anderson.

The head of the column did not reach Jonesborough until mid-morning on August 31. The lead brigade of Lee’s column did not get there until 11 am, and it was not until 1:30 pm that the entire command was in place. As the Confederates arrived, they immediately began fortifying their line.

Hardee’s corps deployed facing northwest. Cleburne’s own division, under Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowrey, moved into position on the left. Brig. Gen. Hiram B. Granbury’s Texas Brigade of Cleburne’s division took up a position on the extreme Confederate left flank. The rest of Cleburne’s division consisted of Lowrey’s Alabama/Mississippi Brigade behind Granbury. To the right of Granbury were Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer’s Georgia Brigade and Brig. Gen. Daniel C. Govan’s Arkansas Brigade. The other divisions of Hardee’s corps were Maj. Gen. W.B. Bate’s division, on the right of Cleburne, and Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham’s division, in reserve behind Bate.

Lee’s corps deployed facing west to the right of Cleburne’s troops. Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson’s division held the left, while Anderson’s division held the right. Maj. Gen. Henry D. Clayton’s division backed Anderson. The rest of Stevenson’s division was held in reserve behind the main line.

Hood told Hardee that the fate of Atlanta rested on his ability to push the Federals back across the Flint River at Jonesborough. He instructed Hardee that the Confederates should attack with fixed bayonets. Hardee planned to attack in echelon, from left to right, led off by Granbury’s brigade. An echelon attack was intended to compel the enemy to commit his forces against each seperate advance, thus leaving an easier path for the next advance in line.

Granbury began the attack as ordered. Granbury’s men were met by Kilpatrick’s dismounted troopers, with four cannons, behind rail breastworks. After a brief fight, Kilpatrick retreated across the Flint River.

Kilpatrick’s cavalry “just fairly made it rain bullets as long as they had any in their guns, but as soon as they gave out, and we were getting closer to them every moment, they couldn’t stand it but broke and ran like good fellows,” recalled Captain Samuel T. Foster of Granbury’s brigade. Contrary to specific orders, Granbury chased after them, beyond the river. The cavalrymen “outran us by odds,” Foster said.

Lowrey’s and Mercer’s brigades followed Granbury’s example, and all three brigades crossed the river. Lowrey commanded the three brigades to retire back across the river and to change the direction of their advance to the north, hoping to hit the Federal infantry in the right flank. Instead of finding the Yankees with their flank in the air, they discovered that their right was anchored on the river.

The three right brigades of Cleburne’s division, followed by Bate’s and Cheatham’s divisions, respectively, went up against the main Federal line. “Our men were true in emergencies…. On the command, ‘forward,’ they moved as one man with steady steps,” recalled Sergeant Sumner A. Cunningham of the 41st Tennessee. “Very soon we were in one of the fiercest battles of the war.” Before reaching the Yankee line, they were ordered to retreat. The men reformed and were ordered to charge again, but this met the same fate as the first charge.

“Soon our men begin to fall, rapidly and steadily we advance,” wrote Sgt. Maj. Johnny Green of the 9th Kentucky. “Just as we have fired the volley at them and begin to rush on them we come to a deep gully ten feet wide and fully as deep. No one can jump this gully and at this close range it will be impossible to clamber up the other side of the gully and reform to rush on them with fixed bayonets. The shot and shell and Minié ball [were] decimating our ranks.”

Lee, on the right of Cleburne, heard skirmish fire coming from the main line. He thought the chief attack had begun and hurled his men forward too soon. In addition to attacking ahead of schedule, their assault was confused. They attacked in two lines and Lee instructed the second line not to allow an interval of more than 100 yards between them and the line in front. Some of the lead brigades were slow in starting, which made it hard for the support brigades to keep the proper intervals and to keep an even alignment with each other.

“In front of the breastworks, a dense growth of timber and brushwood had been felled,” wrote Brig. Gen. Arthur M. Manigault. “This obstruction proved a serious inconvenience to our men, creating much irregularity in the line.”

Anderson led the right three brigades of Lee’s advance line. “They advanced up the ascent to within a pistol shot of the enemy’s works,” wrote Anderson. “At this point, under a deadly fire, a few wavered [and] the rest laid down. The line was unbroken, and, although the position was a trying one, every inch of ground gained was resolutely maintained…. Both men and officers in the front line were suffering severely. Each moment brought death and wounds into their ranks.”

The line officers shouted encouragement to the men under their command, urging them to stand firm. “Slowly but resolutely they advanced up the ascent to within pistol-shot of the enemy’s works,” wrote Anderson. “Every effort was made to hold the ground already gained. Stragglers were pushed up to the front and the slightly wounded were encouraged to remain there.”

The men of Colonel Theodore Jones’s brigade of Brig. Gen. William B. Hazen’s division of the Union XV Corps manned the left of their line opposite Anderson’s Rebels. “The first rebel line rushed into sight out of the skirts of the brush that fringed the slope, and when within a hundred paces our first volley met them full in the face,” wrote a soldier of the 55th Illinois. “A few of the more desperate reached the rifle-pits, but the main body was swept back to the shelter of the copse, leaving the hill crest covered with a bloody burden.”

The Federals of Logan’s corps encountered Lee’s men. “They came with a yell, attacking our whole line,” wrote Private John K. Duke of the 53rd Ohio. “We reserved our fire until they were quite close, when we opened up a continuous fire, some of our officers standing back of the firing line biting off the ends of cartridges and urging coolness and rapid fire…. The space between our works was strewn with their dead and wounded.”

Lee was repulsed all along the line. He informed Hardee that he did not think he could capture the Union position in a second assault. Hardee had received information, which later proved to be false, that the Federals were going to assault Lee. Therefore, he ordered Cleburne’s division to the right to reinforce Lee and went on the defensive. Night ended the fighting, and the Confederates withdrew behind the protection of the Jonesborough defensive works.

Although the Confederate attacks were fierce, the Federals repulsed them with relative ease. The casualties reflect the inequality of the contest. Confederates suffered 1,700 casualties, while the Union suffered only 200.

“The enemy attacked us in three distinct points, and were each time handsomely repulsed,” Howard informed Sherman. “Besides losing a host of men in this campaign, the Rebel Army has lost a large measure of vim, which counts a good deal in soldiering,” wrote Wills.

“The agonies of the wounded and dying, as they lay between the lines that night, was peculiarly horrible,” recalled Sergeant Cunningham of the 41st Tennesee.

The Confederate losses were not large enough to satisfy Hood. The attack “must have been rather feeble, as the loss incurred was … a small number in comparison to the forces engaged,” wrote Hood. Hardee’s failure to drive the Federals into the Flint River “necessitated the evacuation of Atlanta,” he wrote.

On the night of August 31, Hood ordered Hardee to return S.D. Lee’s corps to Atlanta. Hardee directed them to vacate their positions at 2 am. Cleburne’s division then spread out to occupy Lee’s position. Cleburne’s men were so few they had to fill the trenches in a single line. There was some delay, and Lee’s men did not get on the route back to Atlanta until daybreak.

The next morning the troops of Stanley’s IV Corps moved south along the Macon & Western Railroad. “Marching early, our brigade soon struck the railroad, and turning south, began the work of demolition,” recalled Sergeant Lewis W. Day of the 101st Ohio Infantry. “Everything that could be burned was committed to the flames; cedar ties proved to be excellent material for heating the rails, and adjacent trees offered solid supports for bending them; a roaring fire of cedar rails soon destroyed the wooden culverts, and a few pounds of powder blew up the stone ones. The railroad was utterly wrecked—nothing was left, except the roadbed, and even that looked exceedingly disconsolate.”

When they reached the existing Federal entrenchments, they formed on the left of Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis’s XIV Corps, facing south against the right flank of Cleburne’s Confederate division. The rest of the XIV Corps faced southeast opposite the rest of Cleburne’s division. Logan’s XV Corps held the right of the Union line, facing east and confronting Bate’s and Cheatham’s divisions.

The Confederate entrenchments formed a fish hook, with the barbed end on the north, bending back to the right. The right flank faced north, and the center and left flanks faced west. Cleburne’s troops were in a single rank spaced a yard apart in order to fill their entrenchments. They were on the right, facing north, with Govan’s Arkansans holding the angle where the fishhook was curved.

To the left of Cleburne’s division were the men of Bate’s division and to the left of Bate’s division was Cheatham’s division. All of Bate’s and Cheatham’s troops faced west.

Because he believed Govan’s line was in a bad position, Hardee ordered its commander to move his line back and prepare new works. As his men carried out these instructions, they were also able to destroy the entrenchments they abandoned to deny their use to the enemy. But owing to the heavy fire from Union guns, Govan’ men were unable to destroy their old fortifications.

Hardee shifted Brig. Gen. “States Rights” Gist’s brigade at 1 pm from the extreme left of the line to the extreme right. They were formed with their left resting on the Macon & Western Railroad cut. The men received orders to strengthen their position as much as possible since they were responsible for holding the right flank.

“The men climbed up the small trees, bent them over, and, using pocket-knives to cut across the trunks, succeeded in a half hour in making a first-rate abatis of little trees, interlaced thickly, and held by half their thickness to the stumps,” wrote Colonel Ellison Capers of the 24th South Carolina. For breastworks, the men used rails and logs.

In the Union Army, Brig. Gen. James D. Morgan’s Second Division of the Union XIV Corps acted as a pivot for the right of the corps. They swung around until they were facing east and aligned, in a north-south direction, opposite the Confederate entrenchments. Left of them, the Federal line faced south to the Confederate right flank. Confederate guns opened on them as they crossed the Flint River.

The Third Brigade of the Second Division held the right of the line, the Second Brigade held the left, and the First Brigade was in reserve as they approached the Rebel entrenchments. On the left, they could see Brig. Gen. William P. Carlin’s First Division of the XIV Corps and Maj. Gen. David S. Stanley’s IV Corps.

“As far as we could see brigades were massed for a charge, with batteries thundering from the intervals between them, flags waving and flashing in the sunlight, staff officers dashing here and there, all made a martial scene grand and inspiring in the highest degree,” wrote First Sergeant Henry J. Aten of the 85th Illinois. “At the command the men moved forward with bayonets fixed and their empty guns at the right shoulder-shift.” The 17th New York Zouaves suffered heavily; their red turbans made them an inviting target.

The Federal columns began pushing their way through thick, swampy woods toward the enemy works at 4 pm. They were on a collision course with the Confederate field works that ran along a wooded ridge in the distance. Despite their fortitude, the Yankees had difficulty keeping their direction and alignment as they moved through swamps, ditches, and tangles of thickets. After an hour of slow but steady progress, the Federal units halted at 5 pm to dress ranks. They then surged forward along their entire front. Behind the main body, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood’s Division of the Army of the Cumberland’s IV Corps, which constituted the Union reserve, moved south along the Macon & Western Railroad in columns to the left of the railroad.

Men on both sides watched tensely as the skirmishers became engaged and the roar of artillery grew in intensity. “Dirt, rock, slivers of rail and bushes, together with the grape and canister, as well as the Minié balls, filled the air with the most deafening noise,” wrote alf Hunter, adjutant of the 82nd Indiana.

Federal artillery fire pummeled Govan’s brigade. The Rebels endured frontal fire, crossfire, and enfilading fire. The brigade’s eight cannons were disabled, having had their wheels shot away. When the Union guns ceased fire, the men of Brig. Gen. Passmore Carlin’s First Division of the XIV Corps swept forward against Govan’s entrenched men.

“The entire brigade had to pass a morass, densely covered with brambles and undergrowth, so that it was impossible to preserve an exact alignment. The officers and men, however, pressed through the swamp, and rushed gallantly up the hill in the face of a galling fire from the enemy,” wrote Major John R. Edie of the 15th Infantry of the U.S. Regular Brigade.

Advancing on the left of the U.S. Regulars was Colonel Marshall F. Moore’s Third Brigade. “[We] threw out skirmishers, and moved forward through a dense thicket,” wrote Captain Lewis E. Hicks of the 69th Ohio. “We advanced to charge the rebel works. We reached a point within 50 yards of the works, and held it for 15 minutes, under a murderous fire, which speedily decimated our ranks.” The regiment’s colors were left in the no-man’s land between opposing lines when the color bearer was killed; however, the Yankees recovered them in their second charge.

“We assaulted the enemy’s intrenched position in the edge of woods, moving in line of battle through an open, difficult swamp, across an open field, under the severest artillery and musketry fire, flank and front,” added Captain Lyman M. Kellogg of the 18th U.S. Infantry of the U.S. Regular Brigade.

When his men stalled under the enemy’s galling fire, Kellogg sought to lead them through the hailstorm of lead by example. “I rode in front of my colors, and caused them to be successfully planted on the enemy’s works, jumping my horse over them at the time they were filled with the enemy, being the first man of our army over the enemy’s works.” The irate Rebels knocked Kellogg off his horse. While inside the enemy’s lines, he suffered severe wounds from shot and shell.

Govan’s Arkansas Rebels repulsed the first assault, but the enemy came again, in three columns, all converging on the Arkansans. They broke through the center of their line, capturing Govan, his adjutant general, 600 men, and the immobilized cannons.

“Although the odds were very great, the men gallantly contested their advance, fighting the enemy with clubbed guns and at the point of the bayonet, and thus a great many lost the opportunity for escaping,” recalled Colonel Peter V. Green of the 5th-13th Arkansas Consolidated Regiment. “The advance of the enemy was so rapid, and the woods on the right being so dense as to screen their movements, it was impossible to form any combinations to resist it.”

Granbury’s Texans were on the left of Govan. When the Arkansans’ line was broken the Kentucky Orphan Brigade’s right flank became exposed. “Our brigade [was] taken out of the works at a double quick and formed a line in rear of our works perpendicular to them facing the Yanks,” wrote Green. “Our battery [was] taken out of its position and wheeled around so as to face the new direction.” The Rebels waited patiently while the Yankees escorted their prisoners to the rear before resuming fire.

Vaughan’s Tennessee Brigade, in Cheatham’s division, arrived at this opportune moment, from the left of Hardee’s line, and was ordered to retake Govan’s old position. “Major-General Cleburne threw Vaughan’s brigade into the lurch, which, with the assistance of the remaining portions of Govan’s and Lewis’ brigades, completely checked the advance of the enemy,” wrote Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowrey. Three of the regiments advanced too far to the left, coming up behind Granbury’s Texans, but the remaining regiment forced the Yankees in Govan’s entrenchments to assume the defensive.

“It was about five o’clock when the first [Union] line made its appearance, then another and another, until five double lines were in full view, coming in double-quick,” wrote George D. Van Horn of Swett’s battery of the Mississippi Artillery. “Our guns opened on them at a distance of three-quarters of a mile, and kept it up, the Yankees halting only at times to reline, then on again. Shortly our infantry commenced on them, and we began to use double charges of canister, but they kept coming.”

The Yankees surged over the Confederate breastworks in a desperate effort to silence the menacing guns. “Our infantry and artillery were still firing as rapidly as possible, but hundreds of them were climbing over the works,” continued Van Horn. “The first ones that came in found the gun already loaded and ready to fire. The embrasure was filled with howling Yanks.”

The Yankees swore and yelled at the Rebels in an effort get them to surrender or abandon their guns, but the resolute cannoneers stood fast. “One of them called to the man who was firing the gun that if he fired again he would run his bayonet through him, but the gunner paid no attention and fired, clearing out the porthole,” recalled Van Horn. “The Yank pulled down his gun and drove his bayonet through the gunner’s breast, pinning him to the ground, and, putting his foot on the man’s breast, jerked the bayonet out, leaving his man on the ground, as he thought, dead.”

One of the Yankee regiments that attacked Govan’s position was the 14th Ohio of Colonel George P. Este’s brigade. “After one of the most desperate hand-to-hand contests ever witnessed between two contending foes, the works were finally carried,” wrote Union Lt. Col. John A. Chase of the 182nd Ohio.

The 105th Ohio of Colonel Newell Gleason’s brigade supported Este’s men as they advanced against Govan’s brigade and Lewis’s Orphan Brigade of Kentuckians. “Este’s men dashed off with a wild cheer, carrying everything before them,” wrote Lieutenant Albion Tourgee of the 105th Ohio. The troops had fixed bayonets “along the whole front of the brigade,” Tourgee said.

The soldiers fired at each other at point-blank range. “I rose from a stooping posture in the trenches to shoot but just as I looked over our trenches a Yankee with the muzzle of his gun not six inches from my face shot me in the face and neck but fortunately it was only a flesh wound,” recalled Green of the 9th Kentucky. “It stung my face about as a bee sting feels but in my knees I felt it so that it knocked me to a sitting posture. But my gun was loaded and the other fellow had had his shot. I rose and put my gun against his side and shot a hole through him big enough to have run my fist through.”

At one point, a Union soldier poked his rifle through a small crack in the Rebel fortification and fired, killing two soldiers with one shot. Two of the Kentuckians grabbed the muzzle of his gun and bent it so that it could not be extracted.

The Union troops who overran Govan’s Arkansans swung around behind the Kentuckians. Many of the Confederates were captured, but the rest of the brigade fell back and then reformed.

Sherman had arrived at Jonesborough just before the Union attack began and was with Logan’s XV Corps. He was deeply pleased with the progress of the battle. “They’re rolling them up like a sheet of paper,” he said with evident delight.

Brigadier General William Grose’s Third Brigade of the IV Corps attacked the right flank of the Confederate line. “[They] pressed forward under a heavy canister fire from the enemy’s guns to within 300 yards of the enemy’s barricaded lines,” wrote Grose.

Brigadier General John Newton’s division of the IV Corps pushed forward around the enemy’s right flank, confronting only the Rebel skirmishers. They did not have much to do, but did capture a Confederate hospital, with the sick and wounded, about a dozen nurses, and a doctor. As the doctor was being led back through the lines, he said, “Billy Fed, we are sold; we did not expect such an army here.”

Both sides, blue and gray, were fought out. The majority of the Confederates had been pushed out of their original entrenchments but still held on. Hardee issued orders at 11 pm for his troops to withdraw from their positions. Despite the determined attacks of the Yankees, Hardee had held his position long enough to give Hood the amount of time he needed to evacuate Atlanta.

The Battle of Jonesborough “decided the fate of Atlanta,” wrote Aten. “The troops slept on their arms, and were startled during the night by what appeared to be terrific artillery firing in the direction of Atlanta…. We learned next day that the noise proceeded from the explosion of ammunition, the rear guard of the enemy having destroyed his abandoned ordnance stores as his army retreated from the city.”

On the morning of September 2, the Union Army looked out on the “wreck of a defeated enemy,” Aten wrote, “who had retreated during the night, leaving his dead unburied and his wounded uncared for.” Union and Confederate soldiers alike heard deafening explosions inside Confederate lines.

“About this time I heard a terrible roar,” recalled Private Robert Patrick, a Confederate soldier stationed in Atlanta. “At first I could not imagine what it was but after a time I ascertained that it was shells exploding.” What Patrick heard was the explosion of rail cars loaded with ammunition being destroyed to prevent their contents from falling into enemy hands

“I could see how to walk for a long distance by the light of the shells and the burning cars,” wrote Patrick. “My road lay parallel with the track and as I approached nearer and nearer the burning train, the sound became deafening, and the fragments of shells hurtled through the midnight darkness over my head with an ominous rushing sound.”

What Patrick heard was the death knell of the western Confederacy. Mary Boykin Chestnut in Richmond, Virginia, echoed the feelings of the entire South when she noted in her diary, “Since Atlanta fell I felt as if all were dead within me forever.”

Hood would not give up but, from this time forward, nothing he could do would compensate for the loss of Atlanta. To force Sherman to abandon Atlanta, Hood would attack the Federal communications and supply lines north of the city. When that did not force Sherman to quit Atlanta, Hood moved into Tennessee, hoping Sherman would follow him. Sherman sent Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland and Schofield’s corps from the Army of the Ohio in a race to beat Hood to Nashville.

With no need to hold Atlanta, Sherman destroyed the city. On November 15 Sherman led his 62,000 men on devastating march of destruction to Savannah, arriving on December 10. Meanwhile, Thomas and Schofield successfully defended middle Tennessee against Hood. Schofield defeated Hood at Franklin on November 30, and Thomas won a decisive victory over Hood at Nashville in mid-December. At that point, the once great Confederate Army of Tennessee ceased to exist as an effective field army.

The war ground on for another seven months but, after the Battle of Jonesborough and the fall of Atlanta, there was no question that the North would prevail, and little doubt that Lincoln would win the 1864 presidential election.

Fiat G.50 Fighter

The Fiat G.50 was built in response to specifications issued by the Ministerio dell’ Aeronautica in 1936, calling for a lightly armed interceptor, a long-range escort fighter, and a fighter-bomber. While other manufacturers submitted four designs to address each of those requirements, Fiat’s Giuseppe Gabrielli designed his G.50 to satisfy all three. Built around the new 840-horsepower Fiat A.74 twin-row fourteen-cylinder radial engine, the G.50, which first flew on February 26, 1937, became the first Italian monoplane fighter to enter production, with an initial order for forty-five machines. After the second prototype crashed in September, the G.50’s competitor, the Macchi C.200, was judged the better fighter, but G.50 production continued as insurance against any problems in getting the C.200 into operation.

During a visit to Italy, García Morato test-flew a G.50 at Guidonia in October 1937. He then returned to the Catrulla Azul and his trusy CR.32, in which he brought his tally to forty on January 19, 1939. On April 4, days after the Nationalist victory, Spain’s ace of aces performed aerial stunts for the newsreel cameras at Griñón. While flying inverted at low altitude, his Fiat’s engine suddenly cut out and Morato crashed to his death.

The first G.50s entered Regia Aeronautica service at the end of 1938, and ten were promptly shipped to Spain, where they were formed into a Gruppo Sperimentale de Caccia (Experimental Fighter Group) under the command of Maggiore (Major) Mario Bonzano. The unit was based at Escalona alongside the CR.32s of Bonzano’s old unit, the XXIII Gruppo, and consequently some of the G.50s were marked with that group’s “Asso di Bastoni” (Ace of Spades) emblem. Flying as escort to the CR.32s at an altitude of 8,000 meters, the G.50s saw some service in the last fortnight of the war but encountered no aerial opposition. The principal operational evaluation consisted of pilot complaints about inadequate visibility from the enclosed cockpit, which resulted in the adoption of a traditional open cockpit for all subsequent production batches of the G.50.

Even after World War II broke out, the Regia Aeronautica was remarkably reticent about committing its Fiat G.50s to combat. During the Battle of Britain, for example, the 20o Gruppo’s G.50s only flew discrete patrols over the English Channel, while the 18o Gruppo’s CR.42 biplanes escorted Fiat BR.20 bombers over Britain in November 1940—with predictably disastrous results when they encountered Hurricanes and Spitfires. By that time, however, another country had been less shy about blooding the G.50 in combat.

After the Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30, 1939, Italy—which unlike Germany had not signed a nonaggression pact with Stalin—shipped some of its G.50s to the beleaguered Finns. The first Fiats were organized into a Koelentue (Test Flight) under Kapteeni (Captain) Erkki Olavi Ehrnrooth, and were soon “tested” in battle. On January 13, 1940, Ehrnrooth, appropriately flying a Fiat bearing the serial number FA-1, shot down an SB-2 bomber over Sisä-Suomi, followed by an Ilyushin DB-3 on January 29.

By February, G.50s were actively serving in a regular squadron, Lentolaivue 26, which added a number of additional Soviet aircraft to the butcher bill before Finland finally capitulated on March 13, 1940. On February 26, a Spanish Civil War match—which had not, up till that time, occurred—was finally achieved when Luutnantti (Lieutenant) Risto Olli Petter Puhakka, in Fiat FA-4, took on an I-16 and shot it down over Etelä-Suomi for his fifth victory (he had scored four earlier in Fokker D. XXIs). On February 29, Vääpeli (Sergeant Major) Lasse Erik Aaltonen, also flying FA-4, downed a DB-3, followed by an I-153 on March 2. Two days before the armistice Puhakka, in FA-21, destroyed a DB-3. The Finnish Fiats would serve on in the Continuation War as well, with considerably more distinction than they achieved in Regia Aeronautica service. Puhakka would score another eleven victories in G.50s before going on to Me 109Gs and finishing out the war as Finland’s sixth-ranking ace with a final tally of forty-two, while Aaltonen’s tally would total at least a dozen.



    First production version.

G.50 bis

    Development of the G.50 version with extended range; 421 built.

G.50 bis/A

    Two seat carrier fighter modified from a G.50B; one modified.

G.50 ter

    More powerful version with a 746 kW (1,000 hp) Fiat A.76 engine; one built.


    Liquid-cooled V12 variant with a Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine; one built.

G.50 bis A/N

    Two-seat fighter-bomber prototype; one built.


    Two-seat trainer version. 100 aircraft built.


    Projected production version of the G.50V, abandoned in favour of the Fiat G.55.


    Projected version of the G.50, powered by a Fiat A.75 R.C.53 engine. The engine never materialised and the G.52 was never built.

Specifications (G.50)

General characteristics

    Crew: 1

    Length: 8.01 m (26 ft 3 in)

    Wingspan: 10.99 m (36 ft 1 in)

    Height: 3.28 m (10 ft 9 in)

    Wing area: 18.25 m2 (196.4 sq ft)

    Empty weight: 1,963 kg (4,328 lb)

    Max takeoff weight: 2,402 kg (5,296 lb)

    Powerplant: × Fiat A.74 R.C.38 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 649 kW (870 hp) for take off

                720 kW (966 hp) at 3,800 m (12,467 ft)

    Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard-Fiat constant-speed propeller


    Maximum speed: 470 km/h (290 mph, 250 kn) at 5,000 m (16,404 ft)

    Range: 445 km (277 mi, 240 nmi)

    Service ceiling: 10,700 m (35,100 ft)

    Time to altitude: 5,000 m (16,404 ft) in 6 minutes 3 seconds


    Guns: 2 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns

Fiat G.50 Freccia

The Spanish Military Renaissance 1717-27

French map of the siege shows British naval bombardments on each side of the peninsula, aimed at Spanish land positions.

The French had battled for more than a decade to place a Bourbon dynasty on the throne of Spain, but harsh Realpolitik asserted itself as soon as they had made Philip V undisputed master of that kingdom. As early as 1712 Louis XIV had declared his intention to demolish Gerona, and so deprive Spain of a frontier fortress against France: the scheme was not carried out, owing to the silent opposition of the Duke of Berwick. The Spanish, for their part, were encouraged by Queen Elizabeth Farnese and the mighty minister, Cardinal Alberoni, to behave as if Charles V still ruled southern Europe from Toledo. They laid claim to Sicily, which was now in the possession of Piedmont, and to the succession to Tuscany, Parma and Piacenza, on the southern and eastern flanks of the Milanese territory which Austria had gained at the peace.

For a time it seemed as if Spain actually had the means of putting these aggressive schemes into effect. The army became leaner and more efficient, and the rebuilt dockyards turned out a large number of excellent warships. This general renewal of the military spirit was provoked, in part, by sheer frustration at the way the French boasted about their leadership in the arts of war. The engineer officer Juan Martin Cermefio insisted that the first announcement of Vauban’s ‘first system’ for fortification was its orillons and curved flanks (in a pirated edition at Amsterdam in 1689) had been anticipated by two years by Sebastian Fernandez de Medrano, the director of the Royal Military Academy of the Spanish Netherlands (El Ingeniero Practico, Brussels, 1687). According to Cermefio, Vauban had improved upon an original suggestion of Marchi:

Don Sebastian de Medrano did no less, and his trace (apart from being a little laborious to carry out) owned all the advantages you could desire. But this general had the misfortune to be a Spaniard, and to work in an unfortunate century, when the military art in our monarchy did not attain the same height as in other times. (Quoted in La Mina, 1898, I, 14)

A sense of inferiority, or rather, as the Marques de la Mina said, an all-pervading laziness, prevented all but a few Spanish authors from following Medrano’s footsteps. The sole Spanish military writer of the period to gain a European reputation was Don Alvaro de Navia Ossorio, Marques de Santa Cruz, the author of Reflexiones Militares (twenty books in nine vols, Turin, 1724). Even this work was old-fashioned in tone, enumerating every possible eventuality in war, and delighting in ruses, spies, signals and secret messages.

A useful, if modest contribution was made to Spanish engineering by the Jesuit Joseph Cassini, who was mathematics master at the Imperial College of Madrid, and taught a number of the abler officers who were to serve in the Italian campaigns of the 1730S and 1740s. His literary monument was the Escuela Militar de Fortificaci6n Ofensiva y Defensiva, which was published at Madrid in 1705. One of Cassini’s pupils was the Marques de la Mina, who felt strongly that Spanish military men must redeem their reputation as much with the intellect as with the sword, and drew up a practical dictionary to help young officers to find their way about the terminology of fortification. Eighteenth-century Spain being the place that it was, de la Mina’s dictionary never appeared in print.

The Flemish born engineer Marquis de Verboom

It was some consolation that Spanish military engineering was at last given a solid institutional basis. The founder of the engineer corps was the Fleming Jorge Prospero Verboom (1665-1744), ‘the outstanding member of his profession, the Euclid of his age, the best-read among our officers, and a man who was respected by foreigners’ (ibid., I, 377). Verboom was made Engineer-General on 13 January 1710, but was wounded and captured in the bloody defeat of the Bourbon forces at Almenara on 27 July. While still a prisoner at Barcelona he conceived a plan to organise the engineer officers into a unified corps, which would attract high prestige, high pay and well-qualified recruits. He sent the programme to Philip V, who received it with enthusiasm and founded a proper hierarchy of engineering ranks on II April 1712. Verboom was released in the same year, and at once set about transforming the new corps into a passable imitation of the French model.

Such were the difficulties of transporting and maintaining forces in the remoter Mediterranean theatres that in the new war of 1717-20 it was almost unknown for two well-found armies to confront each other at the same time. The first-comer therefore had a great advantage, and was free to devote all his attention to taking the enemy fortresses.

In the late summer of 1717 an expeditionary force of 8,000 Spanish descended on the Austrian island of Sardinia and cracked open the strong points of Cagliari, Alghero and Aragonese before the Vienna government could send any help.

The Spaniards came out of Barcelona in 1718, this time in a strength of 3°,000, and landed in Sicily to reclaim it from the Piedmontese, who had entered into possession five years before. The expedition was accompanied by Verboom, who contrived to produce sixty engineers and fifty miners for the occasion. Undeterred by the cutting of his sea communications by the British, through the naval battle of Passaro on II August, the diminutive Spanish commander de Lede bottled up the Piedmontese and 2,234 Austrians in the citadel of Messina, an impressive-looking work which the Spaniards had built in 1685. The Piedmontese governor capitulated on 29 September, after a bloody siege which cost the Spanish the lives of nineteen of their engineers. Verboom was furious with de Lede, and a few months later the commander told him to leave the army and go back to Sardinia. Seventeen thousand Austrians spent sixty-four days to get the place back again in the following year.

Western Europe was quick to show its indignation at Alberoni’s adventures. The French joined with the British, Dutch and A4strians in a highly unnatural league called the Quadruple Alliance, and the Duke of Berwick was sent with 4,000 men to the western Pyrenees to invade the Biscayan provinces of Spain. The coastal gateway of Fuenterrabia fell on 17 June 1719, and Berwick went on to attack the peninsula-fortress of San Sebastian. He planted some heavy guns on the far bank of the Urumea, so as to open up the river fronts of the place, and then drove his trenches along the beach on the near bank. The fortress capitulated on 19 August. Wellington adopted exactly the same procedure when he besieged San Sebastian ninety-four years later. Perhaps he had read his history.

These manifold disasters brought about the fall of Alberoni, and in February 1720 King Philip V made peace. By a reshuffling of the terms of the Peace of Utrecht the Spanish evacuated Sicily in favour of the Austrians, and the dispossessed Piedmontese received Sardinia in return. Philip had not given up his ambitions in Italy, but he appreciated how dangerous it was to try to put them into effect without foreign friends.

Gibraltar seemed to be the one objective which could be attained without the help of allies, and early in 1727 the Conde de las Torres and an army of 20,000 men began the siege of the offending garrison of one thousand British. Verboom was in charge of the technical side of the operation, and suggested that Gibraltar should be attacked from the sea. The commander-in-chief disagreed, and Verboom argued so violently that for the second time in his career he was dismissed from a campaign and sent home. The affair was symptomatic of the growing discord between field commanders and their technicians, of which the century furnished so many examples.

After long and useless artillery duels the Spanish concluded a truce on 23 June, ‘and thus ended a siege of five months, in which we had about two thousand men killed or wounded, and in which all we gained was the knowledge that the place was impregnable by land’ (Keith, 1843, 75).

Martin B-10

An unprecedented long-range mission and a severe test for the Air Corps’ new B-10 bomber was made in the summer of 1934, when Lt. Colonel Henry H. Arnold led ten of the Martin bombers on a grueling 7,360-mile round-trip flight from Washington, D. C, to Alaska and return. The airplanes left Washington on July 19th with orders to photograph strategic landing sites, to determine the usefulness of a major air force in Alaska in time of emergency, and to prepare on over-all report on northern frontier defenses. En route to Alaska the bombers made refueling and supply stops at Patterson Field, then at Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Prince George and Whitehead, arriving July 24th at Fairbanks. From this base the planes photographed 20,000 square miles – a strip 400 miles long and 50 miles wide – mapping airways in and out of Russia, and from across the Arctic Circle. The only accident occurred on August 3rd when a bomber sank during a forced landing in Cook Inlet; the crew escaped without injury and a week later the plane was flying again. The other B-10s flew home nonstop from Juneau to Seattle.

A flight of B-10B bombers, the primary service version, during a bombing exercise. The type remained dominant in the Air Corps throughout the second half of the 1930s.

A Martin B-12 at March Field, California, in November 1935. A derivative of the B-10, this version had additional fuel tanks on the fuselage for long range duties.

The two outstanding models in the 1930 heavy bomber competition were the Boeing B-9 and the Martin B-10. The Boeing entry, an all-metal, low-wing monoplane of clean design, was delivered first for test flight. Pilots were enthusiastic about its excellent handling characteristics, and nothing less than exuberant about its speed of 186 miles per hour at 6,000 feet—some 60 miles per hour faster than any existing service bomber in the world. Engineers noted that the “quantum jump” of one-third more speed came not from increased horsepower, but through structural refinements and aerodynamic efficiency of the monoplane design, as well as a reduction in drag resulting from a retractable landing gear.

But if the Boeing B-9 was outstanding, the Martin B-10 of the same competition was all that, and more. Its performance exceeded even that of the Boeing monoplane bomber, and pilots said of the Martin that “it looked, as well as acted, the part of a modern bomber.”

In the early 1930s, officials in the U. S. Army Air Corps contracted with the Glenn L. Martin Company of Baltimore to build a series of twin-engine, all-metal bombers with retractable landing gear. The resulting B-10/B-12 became the first modern bombers in the USAAC operational inventory. Faster than any fighters, they helped develop theories of unescorted precision daylight strategic bombing then germinating among U. S. airmen. The fuselage housed a crew of four that included the pilot and machine gunners. The nose and tail were both glazed over and held defensive armament in the form of machine guns. The aft section of the fuselage was also glazed over (greenhouse-style) and included a ventral machine gun.

The prototype Model 123 first flew on 16 February 1932. Designated the XB-907, it reached speeds of 197 mph during July trials at Wright Field, Ohio. That fall it was returned to Martin for minor upgrades.

Following successful trials in October, the Army purchased the bomber on 17 January 1933 and designated it the XB-10. Army officials also ordered 48 production aircraft. The first 14 were YB-10s and had 675-hp Wright R-1820-25 engines. The YB-10s had transparent sliding canopies over the pilot’s cockpit and over the rear gunner’s position.

Martin completed delivery of 103 aircraft in August 1936. The B-10B had two Wright R-1820-33 775-hp engines. With a 71-foot wingspan and 45-foot length, it stood 15 feet high. Its gross weight was 16,400 pounds with a service ceiling of 24,200 feet and a range of 1,240 miles. Top speed was 213 mph, and it carried a bombload of 2,260 pounds.

The B-10/B-12s were popular among USAAC crews and a great success for Martin. In late 1932, Glenn L. Martin won the 1932 Collier Trophy for building the B-10.

The B-12As were powered by Pratt and Whitney R-1690- 11 Hornet radial engines. The B-12, with its greater fuel capacity and ability to be fitted with large twin floats, took on the role of coastal defense. In the late 1930s, the B-10/B-12s were generally replaced by Douglas B-18 Bolos and more modern four-engine Boeing B-17s.

Like the Boeing, the mid-wing Martin was a superb aerodynamic design. Unlike the Boeing, it had enclosed crew compartments and an enclosed turret in the nose. When tested in 1932, the Martin showed a speed of 207 miles per hour and a ceiling of 21,000 feet, performance that rated it as the fastest and most powerful bomber in the world. With these two planes the United States had forged a lead in bombardment weapons that was never to be relinquished.

To the proponents of strategic airpower the Boeing and Martin twin-engine bombers not only established new standards of performance and design, but once and for all removed the obstacles to truly long-range, high-speed bomber operations that still waited for fruition. It was not to be long in coming, and, notes the Air University, it was in 1932 that:

the Materiel Division took steps to improve all heavy bomber equipment. Emphasis was placed on monoplane design, all-metal construction, and streamlining; the transition from wood-and-fabric to metal was virtually complete by 1935. Even more significant, however, was the consequence of the success of these new bombers upon the development of larger aircraft. Supporters of the strategic bombardment idea had always seen the desirability of large planes, since both range and load are primarily a function of size. However, until this time it had been believed that size mitigated against speed. Development of the B-9 and B-10 demonstrated that aerodynamic efficiency could be increased with size, thereby providing an open sesame for development of bigger and faster bombers.

That “open sesame” was soon established to be, not the fanciful remark of the airpower enthusiasts, but a trend that would swiftly bear its fruit. The mass production of the B-10 graduated an engineering breakthrough to the practical and widespread application of the “new airpower.” But there was more to come, and Air Corps leaders were quick to exploit the breakthrough.

On November 27, 1933 the Army accepted delivery of its first production-model Martin B-10, the nation’s first all-metal monoplane bomber produced in quantity. The twin-engine airplane featured an internal bomb bay, retractable landing gear, rotating gun turret, and enclosed cockpit. A precursor of World War II bombers, the B-10 could fly faster than contemporary pursuit aircraft and much faster than previous biplane and triplane bombers.

The Martin B-10 had flight controls in the rear . There was a folding seat that when locked into position elevated the gunner or radio operator about the same height as the pilot up front. The control column, rudder pedals and throttles had to be used from the seat. It is doubtful anyone tried to fly the aircraft from this position.

Lt. Col. Henry H. Arnold and 10 Martin B-10 bomber crews completed a month-long air trip of more than 7,000 miles from Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back on August 20, 1934.

In August 1936, versions of the B-10 were demonstrated for foreign sale. Argentina bought 39 in 1936 and China bought six in 1937. The Soviet Union bought one, Siam (Thailand) bought six, and Turkey in 1937. Between September 1936 and May 1939, the Dutch bought 117 of the most modern versions for use in the East Indies. These saw combat against invading Japanese in the early 1940s. Between 1933 and 1939, 189 export and 153 USAAC B-10/B-12/B-14s were produced and delivered. The only remaining B-10 was donated by the Argentine government to the U. S. government for display in the U. S. Air Force Museum in 1970. An export version, it was refurbished as a USAAC B-10B. It went on display in 1976.

A unique mission in April 1938 saw two Chinese Martin B-10 bombers fly a mission over Japan, but dropping only anti-war leaflets over the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Saga.

By the beginning of WWII the Royal Siamese Air Force more often had to make do with outdated equipment. Recently turned obsolete was the formerly cutting-edge Martin B-10, enabled by its twin, 755-hp Wright R-182033 (G-102) Cyclone radial engines to outrun every pursuit plane at 213 mph when introduced in 1934, since overtaken by interceptor development, but still capable of carrying 2,260 pounds of bombs. Siam’s Royal Air Force received six of these rapidly aging medium-bombers in 1937.

The Philippine Army Air Corps were even given three (3) Martin B-10 Bombers just before the war.

Model 123, 139 and 166, B-10, -12 and -14

Origin: The Glenn L. Martin Company Type: 4/5-seat medium bomber.

Engines: (YB-10) two 775hp Wright R-1820-25 Cyclone nine-cylinder radials: (YB-12) two 665hp Pratt & Whitney R-1 690-11 Hornet nine-cylinder radials. (XB-14) two 850hp P&W R-1 830-9 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row radials: (most export 139) 750hp Cyclone SGR-1820- F3S. (export 166) usually 850hp Cyclone R-1820-G2, but some 900hp Twin Wasp R-1 830-SC3-G.

Dimensions: Span 70ft 6in (21 48m): length 44ft 8in (13.63m): (XB-10) 45ft; (B-12A) 45ft 3in: (export 166) 44ft 2in; height 11ft (3.35m); (XB-10) 10ft 4in. (B-10B) 15ft 5in. (export 166) 11ft 7in

Weights: Empty (typical B-10. 139) 8.870-9.000lb: (166) 10,900lb (4944kg); maximum loaded (XB-10) 12,560lb; (B-10B) 14,600lb (6622kg); (B-12A) 14,200lb. (139) 14,192lb. (166) 15,624lb (Cyclone) or 16,100lb (Twin Wasp).

Performance: Maximum speed (all B-10. 139. B-12) 207-213mph (340km/h); (166) 255mph (W) or 268mph (P&W): initial climb (all) 1,290-1,455ft (about 410m)/min: service ceiling (all) 24,200-25,200ft (about 500m): range with bomb load (typical) 700 miles (1125km). maximum range with extra fuel (early models) 1,240 miles. (166) 2,080 miles

Armament: (All) three rifle-calibre (usually 03in) machine guns manually aimed from nose turret, rear cockpit and rear ventral hatch; bomb load of 1,000lb (454kg) in internal bay beneath centre section in fuselage.

History: First flight (Model 123) January 1932; service delivery (123) 20 March 1932: (YB-10) June 1934; (export 139) late 1935; (166) January 1938 Users: (WWII) Argentina. Netherlands East Indies. Turkey.