Topic: Military history/World War II
Sir Basil Zaharoff, GCB, GBE, born Vasileios Zacharias (Greek: Βασίλειος Zαχαρίας Ζαχάρωφ; October 6, 1849 – November 27, 1936), was a Greek arms dealer and industrialist. One of the richest men in the world during his lifetime, Zaharoff was described as a "merchant of death" and "mystery man of Europe". His success was forged through his cunning, often aggressive and sharp, business tactics. These included the sale of arms to opposing sides in conflicts, sometimes delivering fake or faulty machinery and skilfully using the press to attack business rivals.
Zaharoff maintained close contacts with many powerful political leaders, including British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II; he served as a primary inspiration for Ian Fleming's fictional James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
- "Basil Zaharoff" | 2014-06-22 | 30 Upvotes 9 Comments
Bat bombs were an experimental World War II weapon developed by the United States. The bomb consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with over a thousand compartments, each containing a hibernating Mexican free-tailed bat with a small, timed incendiary bomb attached. Dropped from a bomber at dawn, the casings would deploy a parachute in mid-flight and open to release the bats, which would then disperse and roost in eaves and attics in a 20–40-mile radius (32–64 km). The incendiaries, which were set on timers, would then ignite and start fires in inaccessible places in the largely wood and paper constructions of the Japanese cities that were the weapon's intended target.
The Battle for Castle Itter was fought in the Austrian North Tyrol village of Itter on 5 May 1945, in the last days of the European Theater of World War II.
Troops of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps led by Captain John C. "Jack" Lee, Jr., a number of Wehrmacht soldiers led by Major Josef "Sepp" Gangl, SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt-Siegfried Schrader, and recently freed French prisoners of war defended Castle Itter against an attacking force from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division until relief from the American 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division of XXI Corps arrived.
The French prisoners included former prime ministers, generals and a tennis star. It is the only known time during the war in which Americans and Germans fought side-by-side. Popular accounts of the battle have called it the strangest battle of World War II.
- "Battle for Castle Itter" | 2019-07-30 | 55 Upvotes 9 Comments
The Battle of the Beams was a period early in the Second World War when bombers of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) used a number of increasingly accurate systems of radio navigation for night bombing in the United Kingdom. British scientific intelligence at the Air Ministry fought back with a variety of their own increasingly effective means, involving jamming and distortion of the radio waves. The period ended when the Wehrmacht moved their forces to the East in May 1941, in preparation for the attack on the Soviet Union.
- ""Some German bombers landed at UK bases, believing they were back in Germany."" | 2010-08-16 | 99 Upvotes 17 Comments
A bouncing bomb is a bomb designed to bounce to a target across water in a calculated manner to avoid obstacles such as torpedo nets, and to allow both the bomb's speed on arrival at the target and the timing of its detonation to be pre-determined, in a similar fashion to a regular naval depth charge. The inventor of the first such bomb was the British engineer Barnes Wallis, whose "Upkeep" bouncing bomb was used in the RAF's Operation Chastise of May 1943 to bounce into German dams and explode underwater, with effect similar to the underground detonation of the Grand Slam and Tallboy earthquake bombs, both of which he also invented.
- "Bouncing bomb" | 2016-11-15 | 91 Upvotes 67 Comments
From 1933 to the end of the Second World War, high-ranking officers of the Armed Forces of Nazi Germany accepted vast bribes in the form of cash, estates, and tax exemptions in exchange for their loyalty to Nazism. Unlike bribery at lower ranks in the Wehrmacht, which was also widespread, these payments were regularized, technically legal and made with the full knowledge and consent of the leading Nazi figures.
The Calutron Girls were a group of young women, mostly high school graduates who joined the World War II efforts in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1945.
Although they were not allowed to know at the time, they were monitoring dials and watching meters for a calutron, a mass spectrometer that separates uranium isotopes. The enriched uranium was used to make the first atomic bomb.
Calutron Girls were trained and employed at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Wartime labor shortages forced the Tennessee Eastman Corporation to hire women to work at the Y-12 plant.
According to Gladys Owens, one of the few Calutron Girls, a manager at the facility once told them: "We can train you how to do what is needed, but cannot tell you what you are doing. I can only tell you that if our enemies beat us to it, God have mercy on us!"
The Canal Defence Light (CDL) was a British "secret weapon" of the Second World War.
It was based upon the use of a powerful carbon-arc searchlight mounted on a tank. It was intended to be used during night-time attacks, when the light would allow enemy positions to be targeted. A secondary use of the light would be to dazzle and disorient enemy troops, making it harder for them to return fire accurately. The name Canal Defence Light was used to conceal the device's true purpose. For the same reason, in US service they were designated T10 Shop Tractor.
- "Canal Defence Light" | 2015-10-14 | 33 Upvotes 16 Comments
The Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident occurred on 20 December 1943, when, after a successful bomb run on Bremen, 2nd Lt Charles "Charlie" Brown's B-17 Flying Fortress (named "Ye Olde Pub") was severely damaged by German fighters. Luftwaffe pilot Franz Stigler had the opportunity to shoot down the crippled bomber but did not do so. After an extensive search by Brown, the two pilots met each other 50 years later and developed a friendship that lasted until Stigler's death in March 2008.
The Colditz Cock was a glider built by British prisoners of war for an escape attempt from Oflag IV-C (Colditz Castle) in Germany.
- "The Colditz Glider" | 2017-07-23 | 47 Upvotes 7 Comments