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Novgorod-ironclad

The Novgorod: ‘Circular Ironclad’

The Novgorod’s design originated in 1868, when the Scottish shipbuilder John Elder proposed widening the beam of a warship to reduce the area to be protected. This would allow it to carry thicker armour and heavier guns than a conventional ship, and to have a shallower draught.

Boulton_Paul_Defiant

Back to the Drawing Board: The Defiant

Daffy, the forgotten fighter Ask most people to name an RAF fighter from the Battle of Britain and they will answer ‘Spitfire’ or ‘Hurricane’. However, during the summer of 1940, two squadrons of Boulton Paul Defiants operated alongside them, achieving considerable success against German bombers. So why has the ‘Daffy’ – as it was known […]

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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – Calamity with a ‘K’

It was a bold tactical concept. With war looming in 1913, the Royal Navy requested a submarine with sufficient surface speed to operate alongside the fleet in combined actions. Conventional submarines were powered by a diesel motor on the surface, which also charged the batteries for use while submerged. In order to achieve the required […]

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Back to the Drawing Board – ‘Beaverette’ armoured car

Newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook was appointed Minister of Aircraft Production by Churchill in May 1940. At the time, German forces were advancing rapidly through France towards the Channel coast, and the invasion of England was a clear and present danger. Beaverbrook decided that Home Guard personnel would need armoured cars to protect aircraft factories, and commissioned the Standard Motor Company of Coventry to […]

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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – Vasa

During the reign of King Gustav II Adolf (1611-1632) Sweden rose to become the dominant military power in Northern Europe on land. But her navy had failed to gain the upper hand over her Danish and Polish neighbours. In order to dominate the Baltic Sea, Sweden needed a squadron of capital ships. So in 1625 […]

A-replica-LaGG-3-fighter.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – The Varnished Guaranteed Coffin

Named after its designers, Lavochkin, Gorbunov. and Gudkov, the LaGG-3 fighter was one of the most modern aircraft available to Soviet pilots when Nazi Germany invaded Russia in 1941. Like the De Haviland Mosquito, it was constructed almost entirely from wood, although for different reasons. Gorbunov wanted to save on strategic materials (eg aluminium) rather […]

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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – M-CLASS SUBMARINE

Dial ‘M’ for Muddle… Two of the three M-class submarines that the Royal Navy launched between 1916 and 1919 were lost with all hands. Both sank just off the English coast. In peacetime. Literally designed by committee, from the outset the role for these huge submarines was unclear and changed over time. Under the circumstances, […]

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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – Flying Aircraft Carriers

It might sound a bit like a Sci-fi fantasy, but during the early 1930s the United States Navy actually operated two airships capable of launching biplanes. Ultimately, the experiment ended in disaster, with the catastrophic loss not only of both airships but of the admiral who had been the leading light of the project. Airships […]

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