Back to the Drawing Board

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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 […]

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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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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD -The Dreyse Needle Gun

The Dreyse Needle Gun   Daniel Sager examines this weapon’s limitations Introduced by the Prussian Army in the mid-19th century, the Dreyse Needle Gun was a revolutionary breach-loading rifle which proved decisive in its victory over the Austrians in 1866. However, when the Prussians marched into France four years later, they faced soldiers equipped with […]

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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – The Biber Submarine

When the German navy captured a British Welman midget submarine in November 1943, Commander Hans Bartels set about improving its crude design and delivered the prototype Biber (Beaver) in March 1944. There were just two problems with this project. Firstly, he copied the wrong submarine. Secondly, some of the improvements had unexpected, and ultimately fatal, […]

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