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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.


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 […]


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 […]



It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Nazi Germany needed a strategic heavy bomber capable of carrying six tonnes of bombs to targets 950 miles from its base and flying at 8,000m, too high for enemy fighters to intercept. However, vector bombsights originally developed during the First World War were still in use during the 1930s and accuracy […]


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 […]



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 […]


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 […]


BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD – Type 11 light machine-gun

Named to honour the 11th year of Emperor Taisho’s reign in 1922, the Type 11 was Imperial Japan’s first light machine-gun. It featured an ammunition feed system which, although ingenious, solved one problem only to create another. Superseded by the Type 96 model in 1936 – which reverted to a more traditional box magazine but […]

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