Friday, 24 March 2017

Panzerfaust Bazooka & The PIAT

Hand held anti tank weapons were widely used in the Second World  War, cheaper to produce than an anti-tank gun they could be moved around a battlefield without the need for mechanised transport. It was a matter of hide, wait until your target was in range and fire. Then hope you've knocked out your tank and it can't fire back. This scene from Band of Brothers from about 4.56 shows how they 101st knocked out a Panzer with a nice shot to the soft underbelly.

The PIAT (Projectile Infantry Anti Tank)had an advantage over the bazooka in that it left no smoke trail. It was basically a tube with a steel spring inside and it was used widely by the British army until 1951. Not the best of weapons according to the video below.

The German panzerfaust was based on the U.S bazooka. I can't seem to find a reliable source online, but according to good old wikipedia, Nazi Germany made over 6 million of them, and they were used by all Axis powers.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Churchill Tank #WW2

Churchill Mk I tank found at:

The Churchill tank was rushed into production in 1940 when Britain only had 100 tanks to defend its shores, predicatebly there were many teething problems. Armed with first a 2 pounder then 6 pounder guns, they were superseded by 75mm guns from salvaged Sherman tanks, others proving ineffective.

There were many marks of Churchills produced, even one with a 95mm gun, but what stands out are the special adaptations of the Churchill tank which were used on D-Day.They were fitted with flame throwers towing a fuel tank behind, the AVTR carried a bundle of wood to drop into trenches enabling tanks to cross over, they laid bridges and were fitted with a large mortar used to destroy bunkers. Please have a look at my previous posts here: &;

It had a good turning circle and low silhouette, by the time the MK IV was produced it had a max speed of 17mph and a range of 90 miles. According to www.tanks there were 1600 built.

Friday, 10 February 2017

#Fury A Film Directed By David Ayer Starring Brad Pitt - One Of The Worst #WW2 Films EVER

I ordered the Fury DVD from Amazon & couldn't wait to see it. Wow what a disappointment. The Sherman tank is portrayed as being some sort of supertank. Invincible to panzerfausts, 200-300 heavily armed & motivated SS troops and capable of firing on the move and successfully hitting the target. Jeez, I wish the United States film industry could come up with a bit more realism.
The scene where the U troops attack anti tank and field guns is so laughable. The tanks have infantry using them as forts and are progressing in straight lines at around 2mph in a head on attack towards anti-tank guns. In real life the Americans would all die, the Sherman's armour was like paper, powered by a petrol engine.  In North Africa they were nicknamed Tommy cookers by the Germans for their habit of catching fire when hit anywhere.

Even when ambushed by a Tiger the Shermans still fire on the move, schoolboy tactics.

Anyway tell me what you thought of it? It's the worst tank film since Battle of The Bulge with it's all star cast. For some primary sources of information, watch the next video, a veteran who was a Captain in #WW2 tells of over 500% casualty rate in his regiment alone.


On other socila media platforms, I have received more than a fair share of criticism, I do not object to this, none of us are perfect. Unfortunately the Sherman tank was not prefect either. It was a good medium tank but - to quote Lt S.Hills:

          The Sherman had its faults, and the most serious of these was a tendency to catch fire too easily, which explains why it came to be christened the 'Ronson Lighter'. At thirty two tons to the Tiger's fifty six, it was also deficient in weight of armour, and the M4's 75-millimetre gun easily penetrated the Sherman. Both the Tiger and the two types of Panther were daunting and fearsome opponents. The Panther's armour was intimidating The Panther Mark V carried a 75mm gun and two 7.92mm machine guns, and the Jagdpanther an 88mm gun and one 7.92 mm machine gun. The frontal armour of the German tanks was also much thicker, 80mm in the Panther and a massive 155mm in the Tiger., compared to the Sherman's 50mm.In Normandy the German tanks prospered because of the nature of the ground: they could be dug in as immovable defensive obstacles and so their lack of maneuverability counted for less. Once the pursuit began, however, the Sherman's greater speed and endurance came into its own and our tanks overwhelmed the German defences in a mobile battle.

p.p 96-97, Lt S.Hills, By Tank Into Normandy, London, (2003)

Frank must have missed the turn to the left and gone straight down the road to Berjou. On that road his tank took a direct hit from a Panzerfaust and the whole crew was killed.

p.p 135-136, Lt S.Hills, By Tank Into Normandy, London, (2003)

Illinois University also published this:

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

French Char B1 Heavy Tank

French Char B-1 heavy tank with crew, date unknown, found at:
In 1940 the French actually outnumbered the Germans with it's tanks (over 3,000 compared to Germans over 2,000), but the Germans were more adept at using them than other armies. The Blitzkrieg tactics were very successful, Germany occupying most of Europe by June 1940.
The French Char B1 served with armored divisions of the French infantry, during the Battle Of France most Char B1's were put out of action by aerial bombing or anti-tank guns. Against the German panzers the Char B1 was superior, having a 75mm cannon and thick armour. At Sonne, a Captain Pierre Billotte attacked and destroyed 13 Panzer MK III & MK IV's. His Char B1 was hit 140 times, but not knocked out. This is an incredible story, how I haven't heard about it before now must only be because war historians dismiss the French army in the early part of the war due to their swift capitulation? After the fall of France, Pierre Billotte was imprisoned by the Germans, then escaped to join the French Resistance.  For more information on this event please go here:

Pierre Billotte

Char B1 bis specifications

Dimensions (l-w-h)6.37 x 2.46 x 2.79 m (20.8 x 8.07 x 9.15 ft)
Total weight, battle ready28 tons (56,000 lbs)
Crew4 (driver, main gunner, sec. gunner, commander)
PropulsionRenault 6-cyl inline, 16.5 l, 272 bhp
Speed (road/off road)28/21 km/h (17/13 mph)
Range (road/off road)-fuel200 km (120 mi)-400 l
ArmamentMain: 75 mm (2.95 in) ABS SA35 Howitzer (hull)
Secondary: 47 mm (1.85 in) SA 35 AT gun (turret)
Secondary: Reibel 7.5 mm (0.295 in) howitzer
Maximum armour60 mm (2.36 in)
Total production781

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Otto Skorzeny, infamous in the Second World War for rescuing Benito Mussolini in 1942 from a mountain top hotel, and training German soldiers to cause chaos behind Allied lines in December 1944 in the Ardennes, was today confirmed as being a Mossad agent and assassin. 

Otto Skorzeny in uniform, #ww2.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Skorzeny was recruited by Mossad after he escaped to Spain dressed in U.S army uniform. He was recruited by German rocket scientist Otto Krug as a boyguard after Adolph Eichmann had ben kidnapped and taken to Israel for trial. It is alleged that Skorzeny drove Krug to woods outside Munich, shot him and destroyed the body with acid. You can read more about it here:

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Armoured Vehicles In World War 2 #WW2

OK, after much deliberation I have decided to blog about armoured vehicles used in the Second World War, Axis & Allied. I am starting with the Mk I Infantry tank, better known as the Matilda.
MK I Infantry Tank found at:

Infantry tanks in the mid 1930's were not required to attain any decent speed, as their name suggests they were primarily used as infantry support weapons. One advantage of this was that they had heavier armour than faster tanks. They were used in the Battle of France, MK 2 Matilda's proving better, any surviving MK I tanks were destroyed before the BEF evacuated in May-June 1940. One major problem of the MK I was the vulnerability of the tracks which were too exposed.

Matilda Mk.I specifications
Dimensions 4.85 x 2.28 x 1.86 m (15.91×7.48×6.1 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 11 tons
Crew 2
Propulsion Ford V8 petrol
70 bhp at 3500 rpm
Speed 8 mph (13 km/h)
Range 80 mi (130 km)
Armament 0.303 or 0.5 in (7.7 or 12.7 mm) heavy machine-gun
Armor From 10 to 60 mm (0.39-2.36 in)
Total production 140 in 1938-1939

Sunday, 31 January 2016

2016 - What To Do?

I am looking for ideas as to what to blog about in 2016 - any suggestions welcome, I need a break from #WW2.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach, most people you speak to instantly recognise the name of Omaha Beach from World War 2 films like The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan. Younger people may remember it from war games like Medal of Honour. What one tends to remember are the brutal scenes which greeted the young American soldiers as they approached the beaches and disembarked. In many cases, as soon as the doors opened on the landing craft the bullets from the German MG42's were killing the Americans. The German opponents were excellent, well trained and fighting for their lives.

D-Day Beaches, image found at:
As the map above shows, Omaha Beach was vital to the Normandy invasion. Unless the beach was taken and troops advanced inland to link up with the British on Gold Beach and U.S troops on Utah, the bridgehead would be considerably weakened and the Germans would have more chance to push the Allies back into the sea.

What caused the massive loss of live at Omaha?

The geography of the beach was the most difficult of any. Sheer cliffs, a sea wall 1-4 meters in height, shingle which was impassable to vehicles, bunkers, trenches and blockhouses were all zeroed in on the beach which at high tide was but a few meters wide. Also there were only  four closely guarded exits off the beach which led inland.

The other beaches on D-Day made substantial use of British inventions designed to advance inland quicker minimising loss of human life, 'Hobart's Funnies' ( see previous blog posts ) The U.S troops on Omaha Beach did not have the benefit of these, they did try to launch DD tanks but 27 were lost before they made it to the beach.
Robert Capa on Omaha beach taking cover behind German beach defences found at:

At 0630hrs the first men to land on the beach were engineers who had to clear the way for the assault troops. The casualty rate among them was high - among U.S Naval Engineers the rate was 41%, (Bowman, p.64). They had to destroy beach obstacles before men could land, the beach was thick with them, tetrahedrons and stakes topped with mines to destroy landing craft and troops. The assault troops who landed next were from the American 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) and the 29th Infantry Division. The USAAF was supposed to bomb the beach and its defences before the landings, but had missed the target completely and dropped bombs further inland instead. The first landing craft came under fire 200-300 yards from shore. When they stopped at the beach and the ramps lowered, bullets were killing men before they could get out. It was a scene not unlike that of the First World War, one of mass slaughter.

German opposition consisted of  352nd Division and the 716th, eight battalions instead of four (H astings, p.115). They were no second rate troops. They were well trained and armed. MG42's, Neberlwerfer mortars, artillery guns and rifles all firing on the Americans as they landed.

The Americans that did survive the landing and made it onto the beach found some shelter among the beach obstacles or the shingle wall. In dribs and drabs, leaving dead and wounded comrades behind they waited, finding what little cover they could. By 0800 Officers were organising these groups and they started to advance. The most famous quote came from Brigadier Cota,

"There are only two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are already dead and those that are gonna die. Now get off your butts, you're the fightin' 29th."

Meanwhile the Germans were running out of ammunition and urgently needed reinforcements. They were overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. Sheer determination and bravery by the U.S troops won the day at Omaha. They lost so many men due to the resilience of the German defenders and the difficult terrain. Bombs were dropped in the wrong place by the USAAF. DD tanks failed to make it to shore, but against all odds, the U.S army landed at Omaha Beach and slowly advanced inland.

Sources Used

D-Day, The Untold Story, found at:

Bowman, M, Remembering D-Day, Personal Histories Of Everyday Heroes (2004).

Hastings, M, Overlord, (1984).

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Three Stooges The Yoke's On Me 1944

Found this brilliant (though highly racist) Three Stooges episode The Yoke's On Me from 1944. The three hapless brothers are sent to find employment on a farm where they come across an ostrich and Nissei Americans from an internment camp. Sit back and enjoy the usual chaos, but a word of warning, don't attempt any of these stunts at home

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Battle of Britain 1940: Boulton-Paul Defiant: Stupid Idea or Dreadful Lead...

Battle of Britain 1940: Boulton-Paul Defiant: Stupid Idea or Dreadful Lead...