Labor Day Warbirds

These fantastic warbirds made an appearance at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, New York, over the Labor Day weekend:

The rarely seen North American P51C Mustang.

The Douglas A1 Skyraider carrier attack plane.

The Consolidated  B24 Liberator heavy bomber.

The Vought F4U Corsair – carrier fighter of the Pacific war.

The Boeing B17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber – workhorse of the Mighty Eight Air Force.

Marc De Santis

Japan-South Korea Maritime Rivalry

Long-time readers of this site will recall a number of posts concerning China’s maritime rivalries with other Asian nations over territorial rights in the East and South China Seas.   As I noted in the post, Asia’s Mediterranean, the waters of “coastal” East Asia resemble the Mediterranean Sea of ancient and medieval times in the sheer multiplicity of contending states with overlapping claims.

There are rivalries that exist quite apart from China’s own ambitions.  Japan and South Korea – both U.S. allies – also have a dispute over the Takeshima, or Dokdo Islands.  You can brush up on the dispute, which has just been inflamed by the visit of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the islands, here.


Marc De Santis

Cradle of Aviation

I recently visited the fabulous Cradle of Aviation Air & Space Museum in Garden City, New York.  Apart from being a top notch aircraft museum, the Cradle places a strong emphasis on showcasing Long Island’s rich aviation history.   Here are photographs of a few of my favorite exhibits:


Here is a glorious Grumman F11 Tiger in Blue Angels livery.


This is a Grumman F9F Cougar with swept wings.  The incorporation of wartime German aerospace research allowed post-war American engineers to place redesigned wings on the originally straight-winged Cougar.


The 70 mm Hasselblad camera was used by Apollo astronauts to take pictures on the moon.


A Republic F84 Thunderjet.  It was no match for the MiG-15 in combat over Korea, but it performed well as a fighter-bomber.  Note the straight wings.  Swept wings were just becoming standard on new jet fighters at this time.

Marc De Santis

Asia’s Mediterranean

The South and East China Seas are looking more and more like Asia’s version of the Mediterranean, with all of the same problems that have plagued the Middle Sea for centuries.  Multiple hostile states vying for control.  Just as the Mediterranean has been a theater of conflict going back to time of the Mycenaeans, the South and East China Seas are now arenas of tension for numerous Asian nations struggling for resource rights amid competing historical territorial claims.   Take a look at this article about the ongoing problems in Asian waters.

China is establishing a new garrison on Yongxing Island.  This is meant to help solidify Chinese claims to the Spratly, Paracel, and Macclesfield Bank Islands.

Further north, there is a potential feud brewing between China and Japan over Okinawa.

To help us understand China’s motivation, here is another great piece by Jim Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College.

Tensions exist even between China and India in the theater.

Marc De Santis

Tolkien and Technology

J.R.R. Tolkien was no fan of the modern world.  Technology was more often employed by the bad guys than by the good guys in Middle earth.  Here is an interesting take on Tolkien’s feelings toward technology.  I especially find intriguing the notion that technology and magic were once twins, and that one, magic, died out.

This article is a must for Tolkien fans.

Marc De Santis


Warbirds Forever!

Here are some photographs of Second Word War-era warbirds at the American Airpower Museum in Famingdale, New York.

This is a Grumman TBF Avenger, a torpedo bomber used to great effect in the Pacific Theater.  Its wings could fold to save space on an aircraft carrier.


This is a North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber.  It was made famous for its role in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan – Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.  This particular machine was General Hap Arnold’s personal airplane.


This is a Douglas C-47 Dakota.  It is the military transport version of the legendary DC-3 airliner.  It is painted with D-Day invasion stripes, and looks as it would have when it carried American paratroopers to jump into Normandy in June 1944.

All three photographs were taken with a Nikon D3100.

Marc De Santis


Everything Old is New Again

The U.S. Navy has deployed a converted transport ship, the Ponce, into a floating forward base for helicopters and special operations troops.  The critical changes were the addition of a flight deck and a modular barracks.  Here is The New York Times article.  This reminds me of the escort carriers built during WWII.  They typically used merchant ship hulls and were very cost-effective as convoy protectors.

Marc De Santis

Ancient Warfare Dacia Issue

Ancient Warfare, an English-language publication from the Netherlands, is a true gem.  The magazine is full of scholarly articles on ancient military topics, which you will bet I love.  The latest issue’s focus is on the Dacian wars of Emperor Trajan.  These efforts deserve to be better known.  Unfortunately, we lack a good literary source from ancient times that deals specifically with them.  There must have been histories of this kind made, but they have been lost to posterity.

Fortunately, we have one of the best archaeological sources of all – the famed Trajan’s Column – which still stands in Rome.  It depicts the entire Roman army of the first years of the second century A.D. on campaign against the Dacians.  Much of what we know of the appearance of Roman soldiers of the early Empire derives from this monument.

There are top-notch people behind Ancient Warfare.  They also put together fantastic podcasts which you should immediately download from iTunes.  All of them!  I wish that we could have an American version of this journal.  Lucky for us that the magazine is available at Barnes & Noble.

Take a look at the dude below.  Awesome, right?  This is what a legionary – really! – derived from the Adamklissi monument in Romania – looked like.  Very different from what you expected, I’ll bet.  He was likely serving with a legion stationed in the east of the Empire, and fought in Dacia with Trajan.  He has already acquired something of a “Byzantine” appearance.  His spangenhelm helmet was based upon Iranian models.  Great job by the author, Raffaele D’Amato, and the artist, Johnny Shumate!

Marc De Santis

The Desert Fox at MHQ

Erwin Rommel was one of the most interesting figures of WW2.  For a long time there has been talk that he was really only a great divisional commander who was promoted beyond his level of true competency.  Talking about the relative merits of generals is always fun, and incapable of being proven.  Rommel’s achievements in North Africa are undeniable, even though he never had enough men or equipment to do as much as he wanted.  On the other hand, the British siphoned troops from that front to send elsewhere on more than one occasion.  Rommel grabbing the Suez Canal or going even further afield is one of the great “what ifs?” of the war.   Read the fine article by Robert Citino in the Summer issue of MHQ, and take a look at some Rommel and Afrika Korps photos here.  Also, take a look at this article by Professor Citino about the German airborne attack on Crete in 1941.