Col. David Glantz – Red Army before Warsaw 1944

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SS-Obersturmführer Karl Nicolussi-Leck (Panther’s cupola), commander of 8./SS-Panzerregiment 5 of the Wiking Division, and a Sd.Kfz. 251/3 Ausf. D, during the battles east of Warsaw, August 1944. Between August 18-22, IV.SS-Panzer-Korps, comprising the Totenkopf and the Wiking Division, destroyed 98 Soviet tanks destroyed in the battles around Warsaw.

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Soviet (1st Belorussian Front’s) Actions East of Warsaw in August-September 1944.

No Eastern Front action has generated more heated controversy then Soviet operations east of Warsaw in August and September 1944, at the time of the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis by the Polish Home Army. Western historians have routinely blamed the Soviets for deliberately failing to assist the Poles, and in essence, aiding and abetting destruction of the Polish rebels by the German Army for political reasons. Soviet historians have countered that every attempt was made to provide assistance but that operational considerations precluded such help. No complete single Soviet volume exists which recounts in detail these operations on the approaches to Warsaw. The historian is forced to reconstruct events by referring to a host of fragmentary sources. Ironically, German archival materials, in particular Second Army records and other materials (and probably the records of Ninth Army, captured by the Soviets and unavailable to Western historians), help to justify the Soviet argument.

Operational details about Soviet combat on the approaches to Warsaw can be reconstructed from fragmentary Soviet and German archival sources (see map 15). On 28 July 1994, Maj. Gen. A. I. Radzievsky’s 2d Tank Army, which had been turned north from the Magnuszew region to strike at Warsaw, with three corps abreast, engaged German 73d Infantry Division and the Hermann Goering Parachute Panzer Division 40 kilometers southeast of Warsaw. A race ensued between Radzievsky, who was seeking to seize the routes into Warsaw from the east, and the Germans, who were attempting to keep these routes open and maintain possession of Warsaw. The nearest Soviet forces within supporting range of Radzievsky were 47th Army and 11th Tank and 2d Guards Cavalry Corps, then fighting for possession of Seidlce, 50 kilometers to the east. On 29 July Radzievsky dispatched his 8th Guards and 3d Tank Corps northward in an attempt to swing northeast of Warsaw and turn the German defender’s left flank, while his 16th Tank Corps continued to fight on the southeastern approaches to the city’s suburbs.

Although 8th Guards Tank Corps successfully fought to within 20 kilometers east of the city, 3d Tank Corps ran into a series of successive panzer counterattacks orchestrated by Field Marshal W. Model, new commander of Army Group Center. Beginning on 30 July, the Hermann Goering and 19th Panzer Divisions struck the overextended and weakened tank corps north of Wolomin, 15 kilometers northeast of Warsaw. Although the corps withstood three days of counterattacks, on 2 and 3 August, 4th Panzer Division and SS Panzer Division Viking joined the fight. In three days of intense fighting, 3d Tank Corps was severely mauled, and 8th Guards Tank Corps was also severely pressed. By 5 August 47th Army forces had arrived in the region, and 2d Tank Army was withdrawn for rest and refitting. The three rifle corps of 47th Army were now stretched out along a front of 80 kilometers from south of Warsaw to Seidlce and were unable to renew the drive on Warsaw or to the Narew River. German communications lines eastward to Army Group Center, then fighting for its life north and west of Brest, had been damaged but not severed.

Meanwhile, on 1 August the Polish Home Army had launched an insurrection in the city. Although they seized large areas in downtown Warsaw, the insurgents failed to secure the four bridges over the Vistula and were unable to hold the eastern suburbs of the city (Praga). During the ensuing weeks, while the Warsaw uprising progressed and ultimately failed, the Soviets continued their drive against Army Group Center northeast of Warsaw. For whatever motive, 1st Belorussian Front focused on holding firmly to the Magnuszew bridgehead, which was subjected to heavy German counterattacks throughout mid-August, and on driving forward across the Bug River to seize crossings over the Narew River necessary to facilitate future offensive operations. Soviet 47th Army remained the only major force opposite Warsaw until 20 August, when it was joined by 1st Polish Army. Soviet forces finally broke out across the Bug River on 3 September, closed up to the Narew River the following day, and fought their way into bridgeheads across the Narew on 6 September. On 13 September lead elements of two Polish divisions assaulted across the Vistula River into Warsaw but made little progress and were evacuated back across the river on 23 September.

Political considerations and motivations aside, an objective consideration of combat in the region indicates that, prior to early September, German resistance was sufficient to halt any Soviet assistance to the Poles in Warsaw, were it intended. Thereafter, it would have required a major reorientation of military efforts from Magnuszew in the south or, more realistically, from the Bug and Narew River axis in the north in order to muster sufficient force to break into Warsaw. And once broken into, Warsaw would have been a costly city to clear of Germans and an unsuitable location from which to launch a new offensive.

This skeletal portrayal of events outside of Warsaw demonstrates that much more needs to be revealed and written about these operations. It is certain that additional German sources exist upon which to base an expanded account. It is equally certain that extensive documentation remains in Soviet archival holdings. Release and use of this information can help answer and lay to rest this burning historical controversy.

Potsdam Giants by Name!

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The Potsdam Giants was the Prussian infantry regiment No 6, composed of taller-than-average soldiers. The regiment was founded in 1675 and dissolved in 1806 after the Prussian defeat against Napoleon. Throughout the reign of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia (1688–1740) the unit was known as the “Potsdamer Riesengarde” (“giant guard of Potsdam”) in German, but the Prussian population quickly nicknamed them the “Lange Kerls” (“Long guys”).

Frederick William I from the house of Hohenzollern became King of Prussia in 1713.

Charles Darwin wrote that human beings, unlike livestock, had never been forcibly bred for select characteristics, ‘except in the well-known case of the Prussian grenadiers.’ To the amazement of fellow-rulers and trembling subjects alike, the Soldier-King (as Frederick was nicknamed) began to collect giant men as one would collect rare stamps. From all over Prussia he had his agents look for- and oftentimes kidnap- men suffering from gigantism. In striving to create his own personal soldier core of giants, the king instructed his subjects to immediately signal the authorities whenever they should become aware of exceptionally tall men in the vicinity. He also made clear to his political allies that they could keep their gifts of gold for themselves as long as they provided him now and then with fresh giants to fill up his stock. The strange and sinister request dripped down into every segment of Prussian society. Prussian teachers, eager to appease the morbid king, kept an eye out for tall children and promptly handed them over to him when they had the chance. Newborn babies, expected to grow unusually tall, were marked with a bright red scarf for identification purposes.

If someone was unfortunate enough to be over six feet tall and born in the Prussian sphere of influence (which was quite extensive at the time), he would sooner or later be noticed and assigned to the king’s private collection cabinet. Cautious parents, aware of the king’s eccentric cravings, made improvised shelters for their children to hide them from the ever watchful eyes of Frederick’s scouts- who feverishly roamed the land in search of specimens to satisfy his dark avocations. If the collection item-to-be happened to be well-to-do (or of noble descent himself) no expense was spared to acquire him- for the king reserved enormous amounts of cash just for the purchasing of giants. If one had the misfortune of being of modest means or descent, the conduct of the Prussian agents was altogether different: in this case they were given carte blanch to simply abduct the person in question, bring them before the Prussian king to be inspected, stamped with the royal seal and subsequently enslaved. It would sometimes occur that his agents were so eager in carrying out their assignment that their prey would not survive the brutal journey to the Prussian throne. This would always enrage the impatient king, and the agent in question could count on a swift reprimand for his negligence (usually on the unhappy end of a rifle). Some glitches aside, his collection grew steadily- and before long he managed to assemble his giants in a formidable ‘regiment’ which were regularly taken out on display when some befriended tyrant came to visit. But Frederick was not satisfied with merely collecting the giants to impress neighboring monarchs; Frederick took the whole thing to the next level.

Crossbreeding Giants

According to Washington Monthly author David Wallace-Wells, ‘King Frederick’s obsession was more than mere schoolyard eugenics.’ Indeed it was. Frederick was not the man for silly pet projects or idle pleasures. He was a Prussian king and that means thoroughness in absolutely every respect. With an ambition that would put Marie Stopes to shame, he gathered from all over Europe the most impressive ‘samples’ and selected each and every one of them personally before sending them to his sub-level experimentation chambers. The most notorious of these experiments was the stretching of his grenadiers on a specially constructed rack in an attempt to make them taller than they already were. Frederick would sometimes preside over these racking sessions himself while enjoying his lunch at the same time. However absurd and cruel this method, it revealed the king’s unwavering ambitions regarding all things inhumane. One of the first to venture into the world of methodical eugenics, king Frederick encountered the same difficulties as his future counterparts. When it became apparent that this method resulted in the death of the giants instead of gaining even an inch in length, he ended the practice lest he run out of giants. But putting a halt to this racking practice could not prevent the giants from dying in alarming numbers, for many of them sought refuge in suicide. As only a German blueblood could devise, the king forced his rapidly shrinking collection to interbreed with equally tall women so as to build a future army of giants, which would be the envy of Europe’s upper-class. Here he actually attempted to breed a ‘new man’, and it is said that the city of Potsdam, lair of the Hohenzollerns, was littered with unusually tall men at the end of the 18th century as a result. It is sad, this tale of the Potsdam giants. They fell victim to the elite’s bloodthirsty appetite and unwittingly became one of the first to be sacrificed on the altar of eugenics.

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The Takedown of Tyre I

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Tyre, in what is now Lebanon, was the holdout. It had a unique place as the largest and most important Phoenician port in the eastern Mediterranean, and as an important Persian naval base. Tyre had been a prominent city for centuries by the time that Alexander arrived. The Phoenician merchants from Tyre had been among the first people to send their trading ships throughout the Mediterranean. The city grew rich and powerful and was coveted by its neighbors. King Nebuchadnezzar II, known as “the Great,” who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, had unsuccessfully besieged the city for 13 years in the sixth century BC. Eventually, the Tyrians threw in their lot with the Persians.

To secure their metropolis, the Tyrians built a new city on an island a half mile offshore from the old city on the mainland. This new Tyre was now an impregnable fortress surrounded by two miles of stone walls that were reportedly as high as 150 feet. The island had two ship harbors, the northern one named for Sidon, the southern one named for Egypt. Through these harbors, Tyre could be supplied from the sea, regardless of who controlled the adjacent mainland.

Alexander had hoped to avoid the necessity of a siege entirely. He was optimistic when his army was met on the coast road by ambassadors from Tyre, who told him, according to Arrian, that the city “had decided to do whatever he might command.”

Alexander said he would like to enter their city and offer a sacrifice to Heracles—known to the Tyrians as Melqart—at the temple that had been erected to him in the southern part of their island citystate. He explained that he was descended from Heracles, as were all of the kings of Macedonia. Their response was not what he expected. The Tyrians, then ruled by King Azemilcus, told him he was welcome at another temple of Heracles located on the mainland, but he could not enter the island.

With this, the die was cast. Tyre must be taken. Thus began an epic siege that took place over the spring and summer of 332.

In a speech possibly transcribed by Aristobulus or Callisthenes, and passed down by Arrian, Alexander told his officers of his strategic view of the eastern Mediterranean, explaining why Tyre was so important:

“I see that an expedition to Egypt will not be safe for us, so long as the Persians retain the sovereignty of the sea; nor is it a safe course, both for other reasons, and especially looking at the state of matters in Greece, for us to pursue Darius, leaving in our rear the city of Tyre itself in doubtful allegiance. . . . I am apprehensive lest while we advance with our forces toward Babylon and in pursuit of Darius, the Persians should again conquer the maritime districts, and transfer the war into Greece with a larger army.”

The conventional wisdom held that Tyre could be assaulted only from the sea, and its huge, solid walls would protect it from that. Besieging Tyre presented a dilemma, given that the Tyrian fleet and the allied Persian fleet under Autophradates had naval superiority in the eastern Mediterranean, while Alexander had deliberately undercut his own navy.

According to folklore, readily retold by Arrian as fact, the solution came to Alexander in a dream. He dreamed that Heracles took him by the right hand and led him up into the city, walking on dry land. Though the dream needed little in the way of interpretation, it was declared to be a good sign by Aristander, the seer who had once told Philip II that his son within the womb of Olympias would be as bold as a lion. Alexander had relied on his prognostications more than ever after he correctly predicted the victory at Granicus.

If Tyre was separated from dry land by a half mile of water, he would just take the dry land to the city. Alexander decided to solve the problem at hand by turning Tyre from an island into the tip of a peninsula by building a causeway to it from the mainland.

The portion of the channel closest to the shore was a gently sloping tidal plain. There was an abundance of rock and other construction material nearby, so getting started on this project would be relatively easy. Closer to the island fortress city, however, the channel was 18 feet deep, so it would be more challenging. A difficult task under any circumstances, building a causeway here beneath hostile walls was a serious problem for work crews with Tyrian archers raining projectiles down upon them.

However, morale inside the walls was shaky as well. The Tyrians too, had a dream. They dreamed that Apollo told them he was, as Plutarch paraphrases it, “going away to Alexander, since he was displeased at what was going on in the city.”

The project began with wooden pilings being driven into the mud with a roadway constructed on top. The work proceeded rapidly at first, but as the Macedonians got into the channel, the crews came under fire from Tyrian warships. To stave off this harassment, Alexander had two tall siege towers constructed at the end of the causeway from which his troops could return fire against the ships. Their elevated position meant that the men in the towers could see farther, and their projectiles had greater range, than they would from near sea level.

The Tyrians struck back using a transport barge as an incendiary device. They piled it high with wood scraps and other flammable material, including pitch and brimstone. To its masts they fitted long double yardarms, attaching caldrons containing additional flammable material. They towed the barge near the causeway towers using triremes, setting it on fire as it neared the towers at the end of the causeway. The yardarms were long enough to cantilever over the causeway and strike the towers, which were soon engulfed in flames.

Attempts by Alexander’s personnel to fight the fires were met by archers aboard the triremes. The Tyrians also landed troops on the causeway who burned catapults and other equipment before withdrawing. After a stroke of engineering brilliance in his causeway idea, Alexander had been halted rather ignominiously.

However, it was merely round one. Alexander promptly ordered the causeway to be widened and new towers to be built. Meanwhile, he decided to acquire additional warships of his own, having realized that defeating Tyre would require sea power after all.

The Takedown of Tyre II

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Expanding his navy was actually easier for Alexander than might have been expected. Because most of his recent conquests and alliances had involved maritime powers, his new friends were willing to contribute to his fleet-building efforts. According to Arrian, Cyprus sent 120 warships to Alexander, while both Sidon and Rhodes contributed some triremes, and “about 80 Phoenician ships joined him.”

Both Gerostratus and Enylus, the kings respectively of Aradus and Byblos, “ascertaining that their cities were in the possession of Alexander, deserted Autophradates and the fleet under his command, and came to Alexander with their naval force.”

Alexander also personally joined the naval attack on Tyre, sailing with the fleet as it embarked from Sidon. His own position was at the right wing of the armada, farthest from the coast. His initial strategy had been to lure the Tyrians into a battle in the open sea.

The Tyrians had been looking forward to such a fight on the basis of Alexander’s perceived naval inferiority, but when they observed Alexander’s fleet most remained in port rather than accepting the challenge. Alexander’s flotilla managed to sink three vessels, but aside from that they were at a stalemate.

Alexander for once had the superior numbers in a naval battle, but he could not lure out his enemy. If a fight took place, it would have to be in the tight confines of one of the island’s two harbors. It was like Issus, only on water—and at Issus, it was Darius who was in too tight a space to make full use of his superior numbers.

Alexander decided to blockade Tyre and wait. He assigned the Cypriot triremes to block the northern Tyrian port and dispatched the Phoenician fleet to block the southern port.

He then turned back to his land strategy, ordering the rapid construction of catapults and siege engines, including battering rams and protected towers for the transfer of troops. These were placed on ships for the final assault against Tyre’s fortifications. The Tyrians countered by building towers of their own in order to be higher than the Greco- Macedonian besiegers. It became a battle of fiery projectiles launched from higher and higher elevations.

Eventually feeling the pressure of the naval blockade, the Tyrians made an attempt to break out of the northern port using a force of seven triremes, three quadriremes and three quinqueremes. The ships moved silently so as not to alert the Cypriot blockade ships, but it would not have been necessary. The Cypriots were asleep at the tiller. Indeed, each ship was manned by a mere skeleton crew, with most hands having been quartered ashore. Catching the Cypriot fleet off guard, the Tyrians managed to sink or damage a number of vessels.

Roused from his tent—all of this happened in the heat of the summer afternoon as the officers were resting—Alexander ordered all available ships in the port on the mainland side of the channel to put to sea to prevent any additional Tyrian ships from reaching open seas. Alexander boarded a ship himself, intending as usual to lead from the front.

Despite calls from Tyrian lookouts that Alexander’s ships were pulling out from their moorings, ships continued to leave the port. Alexander’s fleet rallied, ramming and sinking a number of vessels, and capturing others.

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Assault on Tyre

Finally, Alexander developed a tactical plan that called for a complex amphibious landing under fire that would be considered ambitious even by a modern combat force. In the northern part of the island, where the causeway had been built, Tyre’s walls were the most formidable and best defended, so Alexander moved to execute an unanticipated flanking maneuver by hitting a less well defended point in the southern end.

The attack would entail breaching the wall above sea level from the sea using siege engines aboard ships, and then using a portable bridge to push troops through this breach. Indeed, attacking a vertical wall above sea level is always much more difficult than putting troops across a sea-level beach using landing craft. With Tyrian defenses pierced, Alexander’s fleet would attack the two Tyrian ports simultaneously.

When his first attempt to execute the plan was quickly repulsed, Alexander withdrew, postponing a renewed attempt until a patch of stormy weather had blown through. On the third day following, the seas were quieter and Alexander resumed the assault.

After seven months, the siege finally reached its climax on the last day of the month of Hekatombaion, the same month that Alexander celebrated his twenty-fourth birthday (July 20, 332 BC). Plutarch tells that after consulting some omens, Aristander had declared confidently “that the city would certainly be captured during that month.” Because it was the last day of the month, and Tyre had held out for 200 days already, Aristander’s words “produced laughter and jesting.”

Arrian says that Alexander “led the ships containing the military engines up to the city. In the first place he shook down a large piece of the wall; and when the breach appeared to be sufficiently wide, he ordered the vessels conveying the military engines to retire, and brought up two others, which carried the bridges, which he intended to throw upon the breach in the wall. The shield bearing guards occupied one of these vessels, which he had put under the command of Admetus; and the other was occupied by the regiment of Coenus, called the foot Companions.”

When the siege engines pulled back, Alexander sent in triremes with archers and catapults to get as close as possible, even if it meant running aground, to support the infantry assault.

Again leading from the front, Alexander himself headed the assault force that went ashore. Admetus’s contingent was the first over the wall, but he was killed in action, struck by a spear. Alexander then led the Companion infantry in securing a section of wall and several towers. With Greco-Macedonian troops taking and holding a rapidly expanding beachhead, the defensive advantages of the fortified city began to evaporate.

Unfortunately for the Tyrians, their royal palace was in the southern part of the city, and it was one of the first major objectives to fall to Alexander’s invading troops. King Azemilcus, his senior bureaucrats and a delegation of Carthaginian dignitaries, who had been trapped in Tyre when Alexander’s fleet sealed the ports, were there but escaped to take refuge in the temple to Heracles. Ironically, this was the same temple at which Alexander had originally asked to be allowed to worship.

At the same time, Alexander’s fleet forced its way into the two harbors. Phoenician ships entered the southern harbor, the Port of Egypt, and the Cypriot ships breached the entrance to Tyre’s northern harbor, the Port of Sidon. Here at the Port of Sidon, the larger of the two anchorages, troops were able to get ashore inside the harbor. The defenders fell back to defensive positions at the Agenoreum, a temple to the mythical King Agenor, but were quickly routed. Alexander now had beachheads on either end of Tyre and the Tyrian defenders in a pincer.

Within a matter of hours, after a bloody siege of seven months, troops from both landings linked up in the northern part of the city. All of the defenses that had been erected on the causeway side were for naught.

According to Diodorus, immediately after his victory Alexander ordered the causeway broadened to an average width of nearly 200 feet and made permanent, using material from the damaged city walls as fill.

The causeway is still there, although it if you visited it, you would not notice it. Over the past 2,300 years, wave action and drifting sand have caused it to grow into a broad isthmus about a quarter of a mile wide. The part of Tyre that was an island in 332 BC has been connected to the mainland ever since Alexander’s day.

Alexander gave no quarter to those he captured, killing them on the spot or eventually selling them into slavery. According to Arrian, the defenders suffered about 8,000 killed or executed and 30,000 made slaves, while the Greco-Macedonian force lost 400 killed in action during the entire siege. Curtius reports 6,000 Tyrian troops killed inside the city walls, and 2,000 executed in the aftermath. While these numbers were probably stretched in favor of Alexander, many later scholars, including Botsford and Robinson, repeat them. There is no way of knowing for sure.

In any case, Alexander walked into the Temple of Heracles around sundown that day to make his long-postponed sacrifice. It was the afternoon of the last day of Hekatombaion. Of all those who had laughed at Aristander for his outlandish prediction, none were laughing now.

Alexander spared King Azemilcus and gave amnesty to all those hiding in the temple when it was captured. The sight of his city’s resounding defeat, and of Alexander standing in the temple that he had once asked to visit peacefully, was probably punishment enough for the king.

After the Battle of Issus and the siege of Tyre, Persia was no longer a Mediterranean superpower. Having had the heart ripped out of his army, and the bases ripped away from his navy, Darius would be unable to challenge Alexander significantly again until his army was deep inside the interior of the Persian Empire.

Soviet V-1s

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The Soviet-made Chelomey 10Kh superficially resembled the German V‑1.

Eighteen months after the first V1 attack on London the NKAP top brass (and probably the Soviet military leaders as well) did an ‘about face’ on their attitude to guided weapons The aforementioned engineers Nikol’skiy and Chachikian wrote to the Soviet government; this letter prompted the preparation of a draft directive by the State Defence Committee (GKO – Gosaodarsfvennyy komfret oborony) ordering the establishment of the OKB-100 design bureau within the MAP system with a prototype construction shop and flight test facility based on the (former) plant No.23 In Leningrad. The new enterprise was tasked with developing and building radio-controlled and unguided gliding torpedoes and radio-controlled guided bombs. At about the same time the task of developing an indigenous equivalent of the German ‘buzz bomb’ was assigned to the Central Aero Engine Institute (TslAM – Tsentrahl’nyy institoot aviatsionnovo motorostroyeniya).

Work on pulse-jet engines at TslAM had proceeded since 1942 under the guidance of Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey. It took him two years to build and test the first workable Soviet pulse-jet. When the Soviet government learned of the missile attack on London, Aleksey I. Shakhoorin (the then People’s Commissar of Aircraft Industry), Air Marshal A. A. Novikov (the then Commander- in-Chief of the Red Army Air Force) and V N. Chelorney were summoned to the Kremlin for a GKO briefing and tasked with developing new pilotless aerial weapons systems. The appropriate GKO directive appeared soon afterwards.

The advanced development project of Chelomey’s winged missile powered by a D-3 pulse-jet and designated 10Kh was completed in the late summer of 1944. On 19th September of that year V. N. Chelomey has appointed Chief Designer and Director of NKAP plant No.51 – the former prototype construction shop of the late ‘Fighter King’ Nikolay N. Polikarpov.

Development of the 10Kh was accelerated by the delivery of incomplete V1 ‘buzz bombs’ (or their wreckage) from Great Britain and Poland; yet, while bearing a strong resemblance to the V1, the 10Kh was not a direct copy of it. For instance, to speed up the production entry of the Soviet missiles’ AP-4 autopilot the specialised OKB-1 design bureau under V. M. Sorkin made maximum use of off-the-shelf components from production Soviet aircraft instruments. By early 1945 the first prototype 10Kh had been completed and the D-3 engine had passed official bench tests at TslAM The first production missile left the assembly line as early as 5th February 1945; seventeen of the nineteen missiles manufactured by plant No 51 were cleared for flight tests, the remaining two being retained by the plant as pattern samples.

Three Petlyakov Pe-8 long-range bombers and two Yermolayev Yer-2 long-range bombers were fitted out with racks for carrying and launching the 10Kh missile. The smaller and cheaper Yer-2 was considered a better alternative, but the Charomskiy ACh-30B diesels of the first Yer-2 involved suffered from the high ambient temperatures of Central Asia where the test range was, the shortfall in engine power was so severe that the bomber could not become airborne with the missile in place. Eventually the engines went unserviceable altogether and from then on only the Pe-8s were used in the tests at that location; the other Yer-2 was operated in the cooler climate or the Moscow Region.

By the end of 1944 the development of the D-3 pulse engine that propelled the 10Kh was at the prototype stage and the first production 10Kh was ready on February 5, 1945. As no launching ramps had been constructed, the first test was an air launch from a Petlyakov Pe-8 heavy bomber on 20 March 1945, near Tashkent. By 25 July 1945 66 missiles had been launched, of which 44 transitioned to autonomous flight, 22 of these reaching the range target and 20 maintaining the required heading. A batch of improved 10Kh (Izdeliye 30) were constructed with wooden wings, and 73 more air launches were performed in December 1948. A ground launched variant called 10KhN was also tested in 1948, which used rocket-assisted takeoff from a ramp.

The purpose of the first tests was to determine the feasibility of dropping the 10Kh missiles from a plane in flight and, about 100 meter below the plane, ignite the pulse jet, but only 6 out of 22 missiles did so correctly. The second series of tests were on corrected faults in the missiles, allowing a success of 12 out of the 22 missiles launched. The final tests were conducted to determine the precision (6 of 18 missiles launched impacted the target) and effectiveness (from 4 missiles, 3 detonated successfully) of the missiles.

In the spring of 1945 NWP plant No.125 joined forces with other plants to launch production of the 10Kh in accordance with the manufacturing documents supplied by Chelomey’s plant No.51. A total of 300 had been built before production was halted due to the end of the hostilities.

In the meantime the Chelomey OKB brought out three models of more powerful pulse-lets based on the D-3; these were the D-5 rated at 420-440 kgp (925-970 Ibst), the 600-kgp (1,320-lbst) D-6 and the 900-kgp (1,980-lbst) D-7.The D-5 delivered 425 kgp (937 lbst) during bench tests In November 1945 Back in 1944 Chelomey had begun design work OR the 14Kh winged missile powered by this engine. The greater engine thrust and the more aerodynamically refined fuselage were expected to give this weapon a 130-150 km/h (80-93 mph) higher cruising speed as compared to the 10Kh; the new engine’s higher weight was offset by a weight saving thanks to changes in the wing design (the wings were smaller, featuring pronounced taper).

Teaming up with plant No.456, the Chelorney OKB’s experimental shop manufactured a batch of twenty 14Kh missiles in 1946. Ten of them underwent flight tests at a target range between 1st and 29th July 1948, a Pe-8 bomber acting as the launch platform. Six of these missiles featured standard rectangular wings, while the other four featured reinforced wings of trapezoidal planform: the wings were of wooden construction both cases. The trials showed that the 14Kh met the specifications; the trapezoidal-wing version attained a speed of 825 km/h (512 mph) or even higher on a 100km (62-mile) stretch, exceeding the target figure by 10%. On the other hand, the wooden wings were not strong enough; several wing failures were experienced and the structure needed to be reinforced before the missile could enter service.

The D-6 passed its official manufacturer’s tests In October 1946 with good results. Two months later it bettered the specified thrust figure by 110 kgp (240 Ibst) when run on a bench during state acceptance trials. This allowed plant No.51 to develop a projected winged missile of 7,000 kg (15,430 Ib) calibre powered by two D-6 engines a 1946.

In 1945 the Chelomey OKB had completed the advanced development project of the 16Kh winged missile. At first this was basically the airframe of the 10Kh mated to a D-6 engine; later, however, the project was significantly revised to feature two D-3 englnes on outward-canted pylons. The Tu-2 bomber was chosen as the delivery vehicle.

In early 1947 plant No.51 (the Chelomey OKB) was tasked with developing a whole series of winged missiles, the air-launched 16Kh, the naval 15Kh and 17Kh to be launched from surface ships, and the 18Kh. Very soon, however, the government had to curb its appetite, limiting the order to the revised 16KhA Priboy (Surf) missile and the 10KhM target drone (M = mishen’ – target).

Variants

10Kh

The initial production version of the V-1 reverse engineered look-alike, powered by a single Chelomey D-3, reverse engineered Argus As014.

10Kh Izdeliye 30

Improved version with wooden wings.

10KhN

A ground launched version using rocket assisted take off gear to boost the missle up a launch ramp.

14Kh

Further development with revised wings of several configurations and structural material, powered by single Chelomey D-5.

14KhK1

An outgrowth of the Kh14 powered by a single Chelomey D-6.

15Kh

A ship launched version.

16Kh

Experimental missiles using Kh10 airframes with single Chelomey D-6 engines, later tested with two Chelomey D-3 engines mounted side by side on V-configured pylons on the aft fuselage and extended tailplanes with rectangular fins and rudders at the tailplane tips.

17Kh

A ship launched version.

18Kh

Further development of the 10Kh series of cruise missiles.

Gliding bomb

An unpowered gliding bomb was also derived from the 10Kh featuring a twin tail similar to the 16Kh in addition to a central fin, as well as a jettisonable undercarriage.

Port of Ascalon

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General plan of Tell al-Khadra, Ascalon. Having been a port and trade center since the II millennium B.C., the city became famous during the classical era for its temples (Dagon, Apollo, the Heavenly Aphrodite, Atargatis) and many gardens. 1. Cananaean Gate 2. Basilica 3. Bouleuterion 4. Ancient tell 5. Remains of the sea wall 6. “Peace Well” 7. Church of St. Mary the Green.

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Ascalon fell to the Franks only in 1153. Its strong walls and outworks, still visible today, were able to repel the Frankish army long after all the other towns in the Holy Land had fallen. Even in 1153 it took two months of siege and the construction of siege towers and battering-rams, constructed as in the siege of Jerusalem from dismantled ships, before the city fell. The Frankish siege tower used at Ascalon was so impressive that it was known about as far away as Damascus, where it was called the ‘cursed tower’. According to William of Tyre, the other trials the citizens had endured were light in comparison to the ills that assailed them from this tower. They tried to set it alight, but the flames spread to the walls which burned all night and finally collapsed. Since the breach of the walls was only partial the siege nearly failed, but the citizens of Ascalon decided to surrender, and fled the city. In 1187, after a two-week siege, the city fell again to the Muslims. However, on the approach of Richard I in 1191, Saladin decided to destroy the city to prevent his regaining it. The walls and towers were filled with wood and burned down. The city burned for twelve days, but the defences were so strong that the principal fortification, the Tower of Blood or Tower of the Hospital, fell only after repeated onslaughts. During a four-month period in 1192 the Crusaders restored the city but, after an agreement with the Muslims the walls were again demolished. In 1240 the Franks built a castle over the ruins, apparently on the north-west hill, but it too was destroyed by Baybars in 1270.

Ascalon is estimated to have had about 10,000 inhabitants. Its walls formed a semicircle surrounding an area of fifty hectares. This was a large area by medieval standards. Jerusalem covered seventy-two hectares and Akko sixty, while Sidon, the next largest town, covered an area of only fourteen hectares. The walls were the continuation of the Roman/Byzantine walls which were rebuilt by the Umayyad Caliph Abd’al Malik in the seventh century and probably restored by the Fatimids in the eleventh. Frankish work consisted largely of repairs and embellishments. The high and very thick walls were built on an artificial mound 7–10 m high, stone-lined to form a glacis, and were constructed of solid sandstone masonry with lateral columns and extremely hard cement. There were also outworks 2 m thick with occasional casemates. There were four gates with indirect access and with high, solid, round and square towers. Sources mention fifty-three towers around the walls, and Benvenisti estimates a distance of about 30 m between them. To the east was the Great Gate (Porta Major) or Jerusalem Gate. It was the best defended of the gates and in the barbican before it were three or four smaller gates with indirect entrances. There was a southern gate facing Gaza (Gaza Gate), a northern gate (Jaffa Gate) and a Sea Gate (Porta Maris). According to Benvenisti the citadel was by the Gaza Gate, where two large towers, the Tower of the Maidens (Turris Puellarum) and the Tower of the Hospital, were located (Benvenisti 1970:124). This area was called the Hill of Towers and is at the highest point of the defences. As mentioned above, however, it would seem that the castle built in 1240 was in the north-west (Pringle 1984a: 144). Frankish remains inside the walls consist of only two of the town’s five churches. The position of the cathedral church of St John is unknown; it was probably located near the centre of the town.

Japanese Pre-WWII Navy Part I

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Japanese battleship Kirishima

In China and later in the Pacific, Japanese amphibious assaults were marked by surprise landings, often at night, at several spots simultaneously or in rapid sequence. Air and naval superiority were always present at the point of attack. Japan had no marine corps as such. The army was responsible for amphibious warfare and the navy for getting the troops to the invasion beaches and supporting the landings with gunfire and aviation. But Japan did possess an elite corps of “debarkation commandos,” special forces whose mission was loading the landing craft, moving them to the beaches, and returning the empty craft to the transports offshore. One keen student of Japanese warfare has observed that the nation’s warriors had a tendency to overplan, and “the more detailed the landing guidelines, the more difficult it became to hold to them.” This was the case when unexpected bad weather, high winds and surf, or unanticipated enemy resistance was encountered. As long as unforeseen difficulties did not occur, Japanese amphibious operations “ran like clockwork. But once a problem arose, confusion ensued,” and Japanese troops were likely to respond with foolish daring such as human-wave assaults in order to “win back full freedom to act.” Nonetheless, Japan conducted a series of major amphibious operations in China and the Pacific between 1937 and 1942 that rivaled in size and success those later undertaken by the Americans in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Gilbert, Marshall, and Mariana Islands between November 1942 and June 1944.

Japan’s preference for land-based naval aviation as an essential component of defensive warfare was given impetus by the war in China. Japanese forces followed up the Marco Polo Bridge Incident with a heavy air and land attack on the native sections of Shanghai. Within days, the army began a major thrust up the nearby Yangtze River valley toward Nanking and beyond, as Chiang Kaishek’s steadily retreating government lured the Japanese farther and farther from the coast.

Because of the vast distances involved, China inevitably became an air war— a strategic bombing campaign that in conception and scope if not scale prefigured those undertaken by the Allies over Europe after 1942. Such a campaign required the use of every plane and pilot in the Japanese arsenal. From the beginning, the navy consistently outperformed its army opposites in long-range bombing, often under terrible conditions of weather and terrain. Naval aircraft proved superb; the new Nell land-based bombers flew missions of up to 1,250 miles from Formosa and Kyūshū against targets in and around Shanghai, Nanking, Hankow (Hankou, now part of Wuhan), and other river cities. “The elation which swept the Japanese populace with the announcement of the bombing[ s] was understandable,” a Japanese historian recalled with chilling satisfaction. “We had a powerful, long-range, fair-and-foul-weather, day-and-night bombing force” with which to terrorize and kill thousands of civilians. Japanese casualties, however, were severe, especially during the first four months of the war, and until the end Japanese naval bomber aircraft, often unaccompanied by fighter escort until the advent of the Zero in 1939, were subjected to periodic savage maulings. Only in the crucible of battle did Japanese pilots learn the necessity of close-formation flying and at last master the art of dogfighting against skilled Chinese and Soviet pilots.

Carrier aircraft began making significant contributions to the Japanese offensive at Shanghai in August 1937 and continued to do so as the campaign moved up the Yangtze valley. The first generation of ship-based aircraft proved incapable of carrying out their missions, and the aircrews suffered terrible casualties. As late as the previous May, the fighter, dive-bomber, and attack aircraft aboard the Kaga were all biplanes. On August 17 the carrier launched its first strike against Chinese targets beyond Shanghai. A dozen Type 89 torpedo-bomber biplanes led by Lieutenant Commander Iwai roared down Kaga’s big flight deck and headed toward Hangchow (Hangzhou) to blast Chinese airfields. Only one plane returned. The bomber squadron failed to rendezvous with its fighter escort and had attacked alone.

The Japanese learned quickly from their mistakes. A year later Kaga had been joined by the smaller Hosho and the second-generation light carrier Ryujo, while Akagi completed a modernization program. From the beginning, the carrier air groups flying off Ryujo and Kaga were in the thick of the war. In late 1938 Akagi’s flyers joined the melee. The first carrier-based Type 89 attack bombers and then the Type 96 carrier-based fighters (Claudes) were badly mauled by the Chinese air force, increasingly manned with foreign volunteers and stocked with the best foreign aircraft. In response, Japan hurried new land- and carrier-based naval aircraft into production. “By importing many foreign aircraft and weapons,” two Japanese veterans of the campaign later wrote smugly, “we in Japan were able to gauge approximately what these weapons could and could not do. By keeping our planes and other armament within our borders and free from prying eyes, we led the world seriously to underestimate the combat strength of our naval aviation,” until the “China Incident” forced the Japanese to reveal how far their capabilities had advanced. In 1938–1939, Type 97 carrier attack bombers (Kates), Type 99 carrier dive-bombers (Vals), and the apex of Japanese aviation technology, the Zero fighter plane, all joined the fleet. As the Japanese army moved up the Yangtze beyond Nanking, chasing the always elusive Chiang and his forces, the carrier air wings moved ashore, following the army and bombing ahead of it in conjunction with the army air corps. By early 1940 land-based Nells, often escorted by Zeros or Claudes, were bombing Chungking, Chiang’s last haven of safety beyond the river gorges of the upper Yangtze more than a thousand miles west of Shanghai. Other bomber-fighter formations staging off carrier decks or, later, from advanced bases in Indochina ranged far and wide over southern China, ultimately closing down the vital Burma Road supply corridor.

The navy always boasted that its aviators were tougher and more adaptable than those in the army. Flyers and aircrew who trained ever more intensively for attacks against enemy surface fleets as the international situation shifted from Japan’s advantage in the late thirties nonetheless demonstrated from the earliest days of the China Incident an ability to strike land targets effectively. “Conversely, it was also determined that pilots trained specifically for maneuvers over land experienced great difficulty in over water operations, even in merely flying long distances over the ocean.”

In the mid-thirties as the carrier Ranger came into the U.S. fleet and Yorktown and Enterprise took shape in East Coast shipyards, the Imperial Navy bestirred itself to keep in step. Scarce funds were found to upgrade and modernize Kaga as well as Akagi. Training and war games had demonstrated that the best defense a carrier had was its own planes, and the unwieldy eight-inch batteries on both ships were removed. The crude three-deck hangar arrangement was abandoned, and the single flight decks were extended fore and aft to cover nearly the entire ship. As a result, Akagi’s and Kaga’s plane capacity increased from 60 to 90 (though both would normally carry about 72 planes in combat). At the same time, Japan pushed ahead with two ships roughly comparable to the American Yorktown class: the 34-knot Hiryu and Soryu, each 16,000–18,000 tons and capable of carrying at least 63 aircraft. A disastrous typhoon at sea in September 1935 damaged the fleet sufficiently to force designers to pay greater attention to strength and structural integrity. Both new Japanese carriers were built with higher hulls and forecastles. The carrier faction won an even greater victory in 1937 when it was able to place in the Fleet Replenishment Program orders for two superb 25,675-ton, 34-knot vessels to be named Shokaku and Zuikaku. Each ship embarked 72 aircraft, and each would be completed in 1941 in time to take part in the opening offensive of the Pacific conflict. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, Japan possessed six splendid frontline carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku, and Shokaku—that operating together as a fast mobile strike force, the Kido Butai, could deploy more than 350 aircraft. The Kido Butai displaced more than twice the tonnage allotted Japan by the Washington Conference.

Doctrinal and administrative progress kept pace with new construction. Experience in China had finally convinced Japanese carrier and fleet commanders that the attack aircraft at their disposal could best be employed—and protected— as a massed group. “Extending these realities to air war at sea slowly but inevitably led to the conclusion that carrier forces must be concentrated,” and by late 1940 the navy’s tacticians had hit upon the box formation as the best way to deploy carriers in a task-force configuration. Within months, Rear Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa had come up with another advance. Scattered as it was throughout the Pacific islands and on carriers, naval aviation in time of war would inevitably be employed incoherently and ineffectively. He convinced Yamamoto to create an air fleet within the Combined Fleet structure and to split it into land- and carrier-based components for maximum effect. At the end of 1941, the Eleventh Air Fleet, comprising eight land-based groups, was ready to lead the navy’s thrust southward toward the Philippines, Malaya, and the East Indies that would win Japan an empire within a few months. The First Air Fleet, encompassing all the aircraft deployed on the three carrier divisions, plus two seaplane divisions, composed “the single most powerful agglomeration of naval air power in the world,” including the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Just as each of Japan’s warships had to be qualitatively superior to fleet units in putative enemy navies, so Japanese naval aircraft had to possess greater speed, maneuverability, and, above all, range than comparable American—and British—planes. Japanese carrier aircraft were designed to deliver the critical first strike, to find and hit an enemy fleet before it could come in range to deliver aerial and surface blows of its own. Japanese carrier aircraft would have be lighter and more vulnerable than their U.S. opposites to achieve this objective, but as early as 1936 staff planners at Imperial Navy headquarters concluded that the key to success in any coming conflict “was to be mass attacks” by carrier aircraft “delivered preemptively because of the advantages of surprise and of ‘outranging’ the enemy.”

Japanese Pre-WWII Navy Part II

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CV Kaga converted from a Tosa-class battleship.

Mindful of America’s industrial superiority, Japanese authorities realized that any protracted war, even if waged defensively, would require as many aviation resources as the empire could muster. The solution lay in building fast, medium size merchant and passenger ships that could be quickly converted to effective auxiliary carriers. Soon after Japan formally withdrew from the naval limitation system in 1935, its architects began planning for the construction of the appropriate ships. The NYK Line was given a substantial subsidy to build two 24-knot vessels designed specifically for conversion to carriers. Laid down in early 1939, both ships possessed greater height between decks and a stronger main deck than normal in merchant ships and more wiring than a passenger liner needed, together with better subdivision and a longitudinal bulkhead in the engine spaces. The design allowed for the quick construction of hangars, elevators, and provision for extra fuel and aviation gas tanks. But the superbattleships absorbed so much matériel and funding that Japanese fleet construction, no matter how imaginative, had to suffer somewhere, and the sacrifices eventually fell upon the destroyers and destroyer escorts needed to keep Japan’s huge merchant navy safe from enemy submarines. After 1940, as the final bills came due on Yamato and Musashi, the construction of small combatants virtually ceased. Japanese shipyards built no destroyer escorts between 1941 and 1943, whereas the Americans built well over three hundred. “The importance of merchant shipping was simply not appreciated” by a naval high command that in the last analysis could think no further in assessing command of the seas than a climactic Jutland-like battle between two lines of battleships heavily supported by airpower.

This modified Jutland model led to further crippling follies. The Yamatos, the Zuikakus, and their scores of support ships that Japan rushed onto the building stocks after 1935 would require thousands of new sailors and hundreds of new officers to effectively operate, but the elitist nature of the Imperial Japanese Navy fatally hindered rapid and efficient expansion. The Jutland scenario gave no consideration to the manpower and, above all, training needs involved in waging and surviving a prolonged war of numerous battles stretching over the vast distances of East Asia and Oceania.

A “solicitous” promotion system designed to guarantee every graduate of the naval academy at Eta Jima, no matter how marginal, at least a captaincy during his career meant that the naval officer corps had to be kept deliberately small. Moreover, the number of officers accepted at the academy as well as the number of personnel enlisted (and ultimately drafted) into the ranks were based on the size of the fleet at hand; thus, personnel requirements were determined only after naval construction and armament budgets had been approved. “In a navy that supposedly took ten years to develop a truly capable lieutenant and twenty years for a commander, training should have anticipated the numbers of officers and men required by the level of armaments ten years on.” It did not. In the mid-thirties, as the fleet began to expand, there were fewer than ten thousand officers and not quite ninety-eight thousand enlisted men to crew not only a rapidly growing surface fleet but also dramatically expanding submarine and air forces, the naval landing force, and the shore establishments. According to historians David C. Evans and Mark R. Peattie, the navy went to war in December 1941 against the United States and Britain “short at least two thousand combat and engineering officers.” Manpower swiftly reached crisis proportions in 1942–1943 when new-construction manning needs were increasingly undercut by widespread casualties and fatalities among the most experienced officers and men in the fleet. Fatally bound to a lengthy and rigorous training regimen for all, the Japanese navy never did develop a coherent program for effectively training thousands of new officers and recruits in a short period. New officers and men proved increasingly unqualified for their responsibilities “and thus generally lowered the navy’s efficiency.” Not until the end of the Solomons campaign in 1943 did the Personnel Department of the Navy Ministry reconsider its manpower and training policies, and “by then, the ministry realized, it was already too late to do anything effective about the problem.”

As the 1930s waned the Japanese army moved farther and farther up the Yangtze and along the China coast, fruitlessly seeking the final great battle that would bring the enemy to his knees and to his senses. In the process the army and navy learned how to integrate ground troops with gunfire-support ships, land- and sea-based aviation, and even on occasion submarines in devastating “triphibious” assaults against enemy coastal positions. Japan became the first nation to effectively meld sea and airpower in action, thus dramatically increasing the mobility, impact, and general effectiveness of its fleet. But the Japanese never found the conclusive battle they were looking for. As with another foreign power in Asia years later, their high command continually searched for the light at the end of the tunnel, and commanders on the ground constantly asked for just that one more division or two that would finally resolve matters once and for all. All too soon, mounting frustration triggered unmitigated and repeated barbarism. Troops and airmen bombed, pillaged, and slaughtered indiscriminately and unmercifully. Tokyo never understood that the behavior of its troops in China forfeited all claims to international respect and understanding.

Japan could not conceal its atrocities. There were too many Westerners to witness them. Chief among the observers was a remarkable community of sailors. For nearly a decade after the first battle for Shanghai in 1932, Western cruiser and gunboat crews lying off the city or steaming up and down the Yangtze had a front-row seat for conflict. At one point in 1937, the men of the American gunboat Panay became victims of that conflict. The Yanks—and their British and French colleagues—quickly acquired a profound distaste and contempt for the Japanese that was in no way mitigated by the frequent cowardice and incompetence of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese government and its troops. The sailors, and the reporters who followed them into the Chinese cauldron, conveyed their attitude toward the Japanese to the international community, further amplifying long-standing cultural and racial animosities that would inform the great global conflict that loomed ever larger.

In November 1938 Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe issued the famous— or infamous—“New Order” declaration in which the Japanese government formally pledged itself to the task of “fundamentally rectifying” nearly a century of Western imperial depredations in China:

[Nazi] Germany and [Fascist] Italy, our allies against Communism, have manifested their sympathies with Japan’s aims in East Asia. . . . It is necessary for Japan to not only strengthen still further her ties with these countries but also to collaborate with them on the basis of a common world outlook in the reconstruction of world order. It is high time that all of us should face squarely our responsibilities—namely, the mission to construct a new order on a moral basis—a free union of all the nations of East Asia in mutual reliance, but in independence.

Two years later, with Europe back at war and its own armies still slogging up the Yangtze, Admiral Sankichi Takahashi, former commander in chief of the Combined Fleet, confirmed that Japan’s proposed “new order in Greater East Asia” stretched from Manchukuo to Australia and eastward to the International Date Line. The new imperium would be “constructed in several stages. In the first stage, the sphere that Japan demands includes Manchukuo, China, Indo- China, Burma, Straits Settlements [that is, British Singapore], Netherlands Indies, New Caledonia, New Guinea, many islands in the West Pacific, Japan’s mandated islands and the Philippines.” Australia and what remained of the East Indies “can be included later.” Western observers noted that these statements were made not in advance of aggression, but in the midst of it. On the other side of the Pacific, fresh fictional accounts of an impending Pacific war had already appeared in American popular literature. A fuse had been lit.