Vietnamese PT-76s on exercise. Defencestudies.blogspot.com

Throughout the history of warfare, rivers and lakes have impeded an army’s mobility. This is particularly problematic for tanks which are heavier than most military vehicles. When existing bridges capable of supporting tanks are destroyed or too heavily defended to be worth the risk of assaulting directly, alternative water crossing methods must be sought. The first option is to construct pontoon bridges, which risks mass casualties when spotted by hostile artillery observers. The second option is to operate tanks with underwater wading equipment: they travel on the riverbed with an extended snorkel tower for the commander to maintain observation. However…


DRA Air Force Mil Mi-8MT during the Soviet Afghan War (TASS)

A Biography of the World’s Second Most Produced Helicopter

Although tougher to master and less graceful in bearing than fixed wing airplanes, helicopters comfortably hold their own in the public perception and popular culture. The Bell H-13 Sioux scout won recognition as an aerial ambulance in the Korean War drama MASH. The brutish Mi-24 attack helicopter has played both the villain and saviour aircraft in films and video games like 9th Company, Blood Diamond, Charlie Wilson’s War and Metal Gear Solid. Utility helicopters — aerial buses employed for infantry transport, supply and medevac are exemplified by the Bell UH-1 Huey…


A nimble reconnaissance asset and carrier of the Soviets’ first generation guided missiles

BRDM-2 making use of its trench crossing wheels. (Ru.wikipedia.org)

If you were to ask the average Joe or Jane Public what first comes to mind when naming a reconnaissance platform or method, ‘drones’, ‘special forces’, ‘spy satellites’ and ‘recon team’ will dominate the answers. More knowledgeable folk may nominate ‘LRRP’, ‘Predator UAV’ or ‘U-2 spy plane’. Thanks to the popular movie and TV portrayal of reconnaissance and scouting tasks being performed by men in boonie hats and painted faces infiltrating on foot or high flying aircraft braving air defences, it is easy to neglect nimble ground…


Exploring the Career of the MT-LB multipurpose artillery tractor and the MT-LBu command utility vehicle.

Image by Twitter

Located 185 km (115 miles) south of Murmansk, Apatity (population 55200) does not usually stand out as a tourist destination for non-Russian travellers. Along with a Geological Museum and scientific institutes dedicated to studying the economic and biomedical effects on human habitation in Arctic regions, Apatity’s official website exalts its All-Russian Plant Growing Institute for holding the largest collection of potatoes in all of Russia or even globally. …


Marketed as ‘Last of the Gunfighters’ and nicknamed the ‘Gator’ by ship deck crews, the Vought F-8 Crusader (F8U before 1962) was the US Navy’s first supersonic, carrier based fighter*. Taking advantage of a ‘coke bottle’ fuselage profile typical of late 1950s jet fighters, the Crusader outperformed the US Air Force’s F-100 Super Sabre in almost every respect even though they both used the same J57 engine. While US Navy and Marine Corps Crusaders were best known for jousting with North Vietnamese MiG fighters and lashing communist ground targets, unarmed reconnaissance RF-8s helped prevent World War III during the Cuban…


A Soviet PK gunner on exercise alongside a BMP-1 equipped motor rifle infantry squad, presumably in the 1960s.

Kalashnikov’s Machine Gun Almost Matches the AK Rifle in Global Reach and Emulation

The PK family of general purpose machine guns have been an enduring presence in armed violence around the world and have been copied in diverse forms. Beginning its career in the Soviet Army in 1961, PKs are almost as omnipresent as their AK rifle cousins in ongoing Middle Eastern, African and South Asian warzones — either in the hands of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan government soldiers, Taliban, ISIL and Kurdish militia or mounted within Soviet era armoured vehicles and the backs of pickup trucks serving all of…


An F-84G preparing for take off in Korea. (National Museum of the US Air Force)

Designed by Republic Aviation Corporation engineer Alex Kartveli — progenitor of the P-47 Thunderbolt — the F-84 Thunderjet became the US Air Force’s second operational jet fighter but the first to enter service after World War 2. Overshadowed by the debonair F-86 Sabre during the Korean War and dubbed The Hog in tribute to their sluggish take off behaviour, F-84s provided diligent service as ground attack jets, possessing superior range, speed and survivability to the F-51D Mustang and F-80C Shooting Star. Thunderjets and the successor swept wing F-84F Thunderstreaks were the prevalent aircraft in Strategic Air Command’s little known strategic…


An irrefutable fact about working in an office based business is that a discomfiting amount of waste occurs with consumables and supplies. The office buyer orders too many stationery items which are forgotten and left to collect dust on the shelves. Custom designed letterheads bearing the company’s logos and listed partners go redundant after a rebranding or after one of those partners leaves. Your co-worker leaves his lunch in the fridge, doesn’t eat it owing to an overrunning meeting — leading to green fuzz growing all over the next few weeks.

While corporations boast about their waste reduction and environmentally…


Hmong recruits training for war. (National Museum of the US Air Force)

While studying the Vietnam War, most readers and students may have noted that Laos was the place where most of North Vietnam’s troops and war material travelled through in their quest to overthrow South Vietnam. Consequently, Laos became the most bombed country in world history as the US military attempted and failed to permanently cut off the communist supply route.

What is not so well known, or studied anywhere as extensively as the war in Vietnam, is that the CIA was also running a secret war in Laos that had little interaction with the US military’s aerial interdiction attempts against…


The Panzerkampfwagen IV was overshadowed by the Panther and Tiger but was too indispensable to replace

Panzer IV ausf H. Zimmerit anti magnetic mine paste has been applied to the vertical glacis and turret face. Photo from WorldWarPhotos.info

The Panther and Tiger tanks capture the public’s imagination due to the devastation they meted out against Allied and Soviet armour even when Nazi Germany was facing defeat from 1943 onwards. While the lethality and toughness of these two vehicles were difficult to argue against, their complexity and cost made it impractical for them to completely displace their predecessor: the Panzerkampfwagen (Pzkpfw, or Panzer) IV medium tank.

Designed by Krupp in 1936, early Panzer IVs were armed with short barrelled 75mm KwK (Kampfwagen Kanone…

Au-Yeong Soong-Kong

Dysfunctional middle aged man. Biographer on weapons of death.

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