First Flight of the Wright Brothers

June 23rd at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Just the facts: 1905 Wright Flyer III.

Orville first flew this airplane on 23 Jun 1905. Flyer III had a new airframe and an upgraded engine with slightly larger cylinders, but it was essentially the same design and had the same marginal performance and instability as Flyers I and II. These shortcomings caused a major crash on 14 July 1905 that all but wrecked the airplane, but from which Orville emerged unscathed.

They rebuilt the plane, moving both the rudder and elevator farther from the wings, and adding a few other modifications to make it more stable in flight.

The plane was further modified in later years. It crashed in 1908 and was abandoned, but it was salvaged in 1914, and today it is on display at Wright Hall in Carillon Park, Dayton, OH.

Germany’s Invasion of The Soviet Union

June 22, 1941. So I will just steal from myself. The Largest Military Invasion in History. I was reminded of this a little while ago…

As I’ve mentioned, the Soviet side of World War Two has captured my attention recently. Why was it that when the rest of the world didn’t think women had a place in combat, the Soviet Union was fielding women snipers, and whole regiments of women bomber and fighter pilots?

The answer is Operation Barbarossa, the largest military invasion in history.

On June 22, 1941, more than 3 million German (and other) troops, spearheaded by panzer divisions and supported by the Luftwaffe, invaded the Soviet Union‡. Before grinding to a halt less than 100 kilometers from Moscow.

A summary of the invasion is at the link. Details on the invasion could fill several books. Actually do fill more than several books.

More Destruction in the Name of Progress

The Left wants to destroy history.

First Portland – Didn’t We Try to Warn You?.

Protestors Riotors in Portland have destroyed a statue of George Washington.

Back in the 1990s, when activists began declaring the Confederate flag to be “controversial,” I recall leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans warning that this malicious spirit would not stop with dishonoring our Southern ancestors. Rather, these “activists” were inspired by demonic forces of racial hatred toward all white people, so that once they were through trashing the memory of the Confederacy, next they would turn to destroying the memory of the Founding Fathers and momunuments to other famous figures of American history. Does this sound familiar?

The French declared a year 1 as part of the French Revolution. Cambodia declared a year 0. “History begins with us.” I don’t remember who said that, maybe one of the Bolsheviks. Anyway click thru.

And more destruction. Protesters tear down statues of Union general Ulysses S. Grant, national anthem lyricist Francis Scott Key.

He [Grant] was a “slave owner” in that he was gifted a slave, hated the idea, and freed him within a year. Then won the Civil War, prosecuted the KKK, and appointed African Americans to prominent roles in government.

So of course we have to tear down a statue of Grant.

Or as one Twitter post put it, “People going after Grant probably just want to break things.”

They want to break everything.

The Deacons for Defense and Justice

Usually you only see stories about the Deacons for Defense and Justice during February, which is African-American History Month. It is rare even then, because their story contradicts some of the MLK legend of non-violence. In Bogalusa, the Deacons fought violence with violence.

The cops in the South were often aligned with (or members of) the Klan. So eventually, people decided that they needed to defend themselves.

During a mob scene, where the whites were trying to stop a black woman from getting medical care, the Deacons intervened.

The warning shot did not deter the mob, and by then, according to newspaper accounts, a white man identified as 26-year-old Alton Crowe of Pearl River began pounding Johnson in his face with his fists. Austan fired a second time, this time with the bullet landing in the chest of Crowe, the married father of five children, who, Austan thought, was trying to enter the vehicle.

The two Deacons were arrested but not prosecuted. Self-defense is a thing, after all. And once the Klan realized that they too could be shot, things changed a bit.

“Once they realized that we were serious about shooting, it became basically a standoff between us and them,” [Deacon Henry Austan] said.

“It was not like the old days where you could just drive in the neighborhood and everybody start hiding from you and you drag whoever you want out,” he said. “It was not like anymore, and they realized that.”

He added: “When there’s some opposition, it’s not any fun anymore.”

The myth contradiction? Well once when the Klan was ready to attack a Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) group, a spokesperson for the Deacons stepped up, and told the Klan-affiliated-sheriff, that they were prepared to meet violence with violence. The attack never took place.

I suppose that the media is bringing this up now in hopes of justifying the “Dismantle the Police” or something similar. Still there is one more important lesson that can be learned from the Deacons…

“We were effective. Not heroic, effective,” Austan said, thinking back on his time with the Deacons. “That’s what we were. We came into existence when the situation demanded it. We went out of existence when we were no longer needed.”

How many organizations disband when they meet their goals? Almost none. They move the goalposts and keep on going.

Historic Bridge Repair in England

How do you repair a viaduct that is more than 150 years old, and a historic monument, and still keep the trains running on time? Historic Ribblehead viaduct threatens to collapse after walkers are hit by falling rubble from structure that cost more than 100 workers’ lives when it was built in 1870s.

  • The grade II structure has developed dangerous defects that are causing masonry to plunge off the edge 
  • It means tourists flocking to the historic attraction on the Settle-Carlisle line risk being hit by falling debris  
  • Proposals include restitching the viaduct’s 24 arches, inserting anchors and repairing rainwater systems

The viaduct opened 12 October 1870

You can’t repair a 150-year-old structure without making some changes. Which is a problem for some people. But it beats tearing down an historic structure because it is becoming unsafe.

Network Rail said minimising the risk to workers during repairs is a priority. Restitching masonry fractures, inserting anchors, reinforcing stone and repainting metalwork are included in the proposed plans.

Other proposed repairs include reinforcing stone repair mortar, repointing faulty mortar joints and repairing rainwater systems.

As they note in the title to the article, more than 100 people died during the construction.

At least they didn’t wait for the viaduct to completely collapse before starting repairs.

The D-Day Invasion

In honor of the troops that went ashore in France on June 6th 1944. Shamelessly stolen from myself…

The BBC did 1 hour segment entitled “Bloody Omaha” as part of the series BBC Timewatch. (See the link to the full BBC show below the video.) It concentrates on the American landing at Omaha Beach

I love this short film, and I love the song. This video embedded below is how 3 guys recreated the Omaha Beach landing for the camera in a couple of days. Saving Private Ryan had a few more people, 1000 extras, and a lot more money. Below the video is a link to the full documentary. It is about an hour. (It was an episode on a BBC show.) And if you haven’t seen the 1962 movie The Longest Day, you should. It has truly an all-star cast, from John Wayne and Richard Burton to Red Buttons and Fabian.

The entire episode of BBC Timewatch, “Bloody Omaha” can be found at this link. It is just under an hour long at 56 minutes, more or less. Plan accordingly.

The Preparations for D-Day

For those of you who don’t have an interest in history, you probably don’t remember that the Normandy Invasion took place on June 6th 1944. With that in mind, OldAFSarge, at Chant du Départ has a series of posts on the days leading up to the event. (The AF stands for Air Force, not As F-) More on the order of historical fiction, than the history Sarge is usually known for.

The 2nd of June, 1944

And so begins a small fictional interlude here at The Chant. The Sixth of June approaches, the 76th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. I thought I’d share a little something to remember those who fought there, especially those who died there. On both sides.

Still the photos are from the time depicted.

The 3rd of June, 1944

The 4th of June, 1944

Another Bletchley Park Cryptanalyst Has Passed Away

Ann Mitchell: 19 November 1922 – 11 May 2020.

I don’t think much was made of the passing of Ann Mitchel. Bletchley Park codebreaker who helped change course of World War II dies aged 97.

Even after that movie about Alan Turing, people still don’t seem to understand what an impact Bletchley Park had on WWII.

She played an integral role in bringing about that peace, thanks to her work in Hut 6, a ramshackle wooden structure home to some of Bletchley Park’s brightest minds.

There, for nine hours a day, six days a week, from September 1943 until the final exultant hours of VE Day, the young Oxford graduate would create complex diagrams used to break strings of incomprehensible Enigma code used by the Nazis.

It is interesting that the journalist/editors at The Scotsman choose the term “incomprehensible” for the Enigma codes. I suppose any sufficiently complex Mathematics is indistinguishable from magic, at least to people in journalism. (With apologies to Arthur Clarke.) In reality, they were not incomprehensible; decoding them was exactly what they did at Bletchley Park. (Haven’t they seen that movie?)

Not many women were studying Math at Oxford University in 1940, but that is exactly what Ann Mitchell did, though after the war she would switch to psychology and become a marriage guidance counselor.

Ann was just a kid, but she was discreet, intelligent, and modest, and although she would never describe herself as a codebreaker, she was recruited for her mathematical ability.

The average age of people who worked at Blechley Park and are still alive is now 97; they won’t be with us much longer. One of the reasons the British are still speaking English and not German, is in a very large part to the work done by the folks at Bletchley Park. They helped the French, the Belgians, and the rest as well, defeat the Nazis. (Hat tip to Schneier on Security.)

Cecile Rol-Tanguy: French Resistance Fighter Passes Away

She died during the remembrance of the 75th anniversary of Germany’s surrender in WWII. She was 101. French Resistance hero Cecile Rol-Tanguy dies at age 101.

She joined the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) with her husband Henri.

She later recalled how she used their children’s strollers to transport messages, weapons and explosive material.

The greatest generation. Today we have a fit if our internet connection isn’t 100 Mbps.

May 9, 1980: MV Summit Venture Hits Sunshine Skyway Bridge

I usually do posts about failed infrastructure on Sunday, but since we have an anniversary today… The Skyway bridge collapsed 40 years ago. Here’s how we’re remembering the tragedy. That is a collection of links to things about the collapse. Interviews with people who worked search and rescue, information about the trial of the pilot, and a few other links.

Saturday marks 40 years since the 19,734-ton Summit Venture freighter slammed into the old Skyway bridge. Six cars, a truck and a Greyhound bus plummeted 150 feet into the choppy waters of Tampa Bay below. Thirty-five died.

A two-lane bridge opened in 1954. A second structure, similar to the first opened in 1959 making the crossing 4 lanes, connecting the south end of Pinellas County with the north end of Manatee County.

On Friday May 9th, 1980 at 7:33 in the morning, the vessel MV Summit Venture, in fog and rain, struck one of the supports of the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway, causing about 1200 feet of the bridge to fall 150 feet into the water. 35 people died. Cars, trucks and a Greyhound bus fell into the water that day. Most died of blunt-force trauma. Some drowned. One man survived when his truck landed on the deck of the Summit Venture before falling into the water.

This video documents the official recording of the MAYDAY call between MV Summit Venture and the US Coast Guard base in St Petersburg. A few other ships are heard as well. Photos are of the aftermath.

The new bridge corrects the design flaw of the original bridge, in that any vessel straying off course is going to impact something substantial before it impacts the bridge structure itself. I hope they got it right.

The new bridge has the following stats:

  • total length 1219.60 m (if you include the causeway, it s 6.7km)
  • main span 366.75 m
  • clearance below main span 55m

As I write this, there is not much coverage of the anniversary outside of Florida. I guess that’s to be expected.

The video after the break is of the new bridge.

Continue reading

A P-38 Lightning Story

By a veteran who would know. This Veteran Tells What It Was Like to Fly the P-38 in World War II.

Jim Kunkle did it all. He flew the Lightning. He shot down German fighters. He earned America’s second highest award for valor in battle. During the mid-1940s’ transition from props to jets, he piloted almost every other fighter and then, when he took his uniform off, Kunkle continued flying. He still flies today, at age 88. Americans don’t use the term as much as our British friends, but James K. Kunkle, of Santa Ynez, California, is a “total aviation person.”

Attacks across the channel before D-Day. A run in with the “Abbeville Boys.” Strafing Germans in the Falaise Pocket. A description of what it was like to fly the P-38. Worth a look.

The Shot Heard Round the World

Lexington and Concord. April 19th, 1775. Part 2, of today’s history lesson. Lexington and Concord: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.

The first shot was fired in Lexington.

the King’s troops marched into the small town of Lexington around 5:00 am to find, facing them, a militia company of more 70 men led by Captain John Parker. When the vanguard of the British force rushed forward upon the town green, Captain Parker immediately ordered his company to disperse. At some point a shot rang out– historians still debate who fired the shot. The nervous British soldiers fired a volley, killing seven and mortally wounding one of the retreating militiamen. The British column moved on towards Concord

The British did burn some supplies in Concord. The Minutemen numbering 400 from Concord and the surrounding area formed up and marched toward the North Bridge.

At that bridge, usually calld the Old North Bridge, is where the first British casualties came.

The Minute Men formed up and marched down the hill. As they did so, the British soldiers, intimidated by the colonial numbers and orderly advance, retreated to the opposite shore and prepared to defend themselves. When Davis’s company came within range, British soldiers opened fire, killing Isaac Davis and also Abner Hosmer, another Acton Minute Man. Major Buttrick of Concord shouted, “For God’s sake, fire!” and the Minute Men replied with their own volley, killing three British soldiers and wounding nine others. This volley is the volley considered “the shot heard round the world.” The rest of the British troops retreated back to town.

Smith and Pitcairn soon ordered a return to Boston, which devolved into a rout as thousands of minute men patriots descended on the area. As the British were attacked from all sides by swarms of angry Minutemen along what is now known as Battle Road. When they reached Lexington, John Parker and his men had their revenge, firing on the British regulars from behind cover.

The day ended with 73 dead and more wounded British soldiers, as well as 49 dead American militia.

The lesson of the day:

On April 19, 1775 they were simply loyal British subjects who believed that they were standing up to defend and fight for their rights. In doing so they changed the world forever.

I leave you with “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which was sung at the dedication of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837. Well the first stanza is below. Click this link for the entire poem.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard round the world.

Paul Revere’s Ride – April 18th 1775

History Lesson. Part 1. The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere

245 years ago tonight Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott left on their journey to warn the Minutemen that British regulars were marching to seize the colony’s stores of arms, powder, and shot. The next morning, the American Revolution began.

Click thru for the details.

A World War 1 History Lesson

From OldAFSarge of Chant du Départ, we have The Great War.

As always Sarge has some great info and some great photos, one “courtesy of Le Musée de Sarge” as he collects things. But this is what really caught my attention.

So the nations of Europe went to war in August of 1914, the troops went in standing up, bayonets at the ready (or on horseback, sword at the ready), just like the old days. Napoléon would have recognized the formations (and some of the uniforms), Grant and Lee would have shaken their heads, they knew better. Some fifty years earlier armies started digging, even without the machine gun and the latest artillery, they knew that to advance into enemy fire was a recipe for disaster.

Anyhoo, take a look at the whole thing. You might learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute!)

First Flight of the B52 Stratofortress

I hate it when I miss important anniversaries, but at least Wirecutter was on top of the situation. On This Day….. Click thru for a decent image. (And an interesting comment or 2.)

The first flight was on April 15th, 1952. Another piece of tech that was built by the giants of days long past. 68 years is a good long time for a piece of technology to survive.

Here’s a video on the BUFF – Big, Ugly, Fat, F-er.

Tax Day seems like a strange choice for the inaugural flight somehow…

The History of US Military Knives

And a little plain old history as well. Coffee or Die – 7 of the Most Popular Knives in U.S. Military History.

I love coffee, I love history, and I don’t hate edged weapons. So here’s a little something for while you drink your coffee. You might actually learn something. I promise it will only hurt for a minute.

It starts with the story of Herbert K. Pilila’au, the first Hawaiian to be awarded The Medal of Honor.

Covering his unit’s retreat, he fired until he was out of ammo, threw grenades, and then rocks, until the enemy was on his position.

Pilila’au pulled out his trench knife and engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat while his unit helplessly watched from afar in total disbelief. He suffered a gunshot wound, but he never gave up and continued onward until a final bayonet struck him down. A half hour after his last stand, the Americans retook the ridge and discovered that Pilila’au had courageously — and single-handedly — killed 40 enemy combatants.

From the trench knife, to the KA-BAR, and more besides, the article linked at the top might hold your interest. Coffee or Die rarely disappoints.

Of Course It Was All Political

There was never even any smoke, accept for the stuff generated by the FBI Agents who wanted Hilary to win the election. The 13 revelations showing the FBI never really had a Russia collusion case to begin with.

The list is not that long. My favorite…

6.) Information Steele provided to the government was proven, before the FISA warrants were granted, to be false and inaccurate. Specifically, he told State official Kathleen Kavalec in early October 2016 that he believed Russia was funding its hacking operations through its consulate in Miami. The Russians did not have a consulate in Miami, Kavalec reported in her notes.

If you’re going to do a frame job, on anyone, you should at least do some work with the internet search engine of your choice, beforehand. (Hat tip to 90 Miles from Tyranny, who you should be reading.)

Your WWII History Lesson for the Day

I know, we just had a history lesson yesterday. You’ll survive. You might actually learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute!) The Friday Flyby – Bombing Germany.

Sarge has some info on the bombing campaigns in WWII to inflict punishment on Germany.

The B-17F, the B-24 Liberator, the Lancaster, Handley Page Halifax B.III. And info on the German Flak guns, and German fighters like the Messerschmitt Bf 109, and the venerated P-51 Mustang, that could provide cover for the bombers all the way to Germany and back.

Click thru. Sarge always has good info.

As for yesterday’s history lesson, it was on the Soviet side of WWII.

Marina Raskova – The Russian Amelia Earhart

Marina Mikhaylovna Raskova (Мари́на Миха́йловна Раско́ва): 28 March 1912 – 4 January 1943. She was the first female navigator in the Soviet Air Force in 1933, and the first woman teacher the following year. The Female Soldier: Marina Raskova.

She became famous – at least in the Soviet Union – for setting a number of long-distance records.

This included the famous ‘Flight of the Rodina’ covering 6000km from Moscow to Komsomolsk, which she conducted with two other female pilots, Polina Osipenko and Valentina Grizodubova. However the flight ran into difficulties at the end of its 26 and a half hour journey when poor visibility hampered the landing. As the navigator’s pit was vulnerable in crash landings, Raskova bailed out with a parachute while the two pilots completed the landing. She survived with no water and almost no food for 10 days before she found her way to landing site and reunited with her team. All 3 women were decorated with the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ award, the first women ever to receive it.

At the outbreak of WWII, the Soviets were unprepared, and a lot of men were killed and material was destroyed in the early days.

Raskova proposed the creation of women’s aviation units and used her celebrity status to propose the idea directly to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Following a speech by Raskova in September 1941 calling for women pilots to be welcomed into the war, Stalin ordered the creation of 3 new air regiments, the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, dubbed The Night Witches [Z-Deb’s Note: The 46th Taman Guards were origianally the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. “Guard status” was an honor they got later, after completing lots of missions.]

Raskova herself commanded the 125th Bomber Regiment. That regiment went on to fly 134 missions, dropping 980 tons of bombs on the German Army.

She died January 4th, 1943 making a forced landing.