Ancient Warfare Magazine – Armies of Diocletian

Here is my latest recommendation for all those interested in ancient military history.  Ancient Warfare magazine has released its latest issue, Volume VI, Issue 5.  The theme for this periodical is the Roman army during the time of Emperor Diocletian, in the late second/early third centuries.  The Dutch-produced, English language Ancient Warfare is a splendid journal, scholarly and yet accessible to a non-specialist at the same time.  Give it a look, it is available at Barnes & Noble, and can also be obtained via subscription.

And be sure not to miss my own review inside it of Osprey’s Spartan Warrior 735-331 BC.

Marc DeSantis

Snow Sculpture

The northeastern United States was hit very hard by a big snowstorm yesterday.  Snow creates a visual look that is unlike nearly anything else that you will find as a shooting subject.   Here is what I saw as the snow began to drop off from an evergreen in the sun.  It created an almost architectural effect.  The image was shot with a Panasonic Lumix G3.  I like the results that I am getting with this Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera.   Is anyone else using a mirrorless system?  What are your experiences with one?

 

 

 

Marc De Santis

Medieval Warfare Magazine

I wanted to keep everyone posted when I came across a cool new book or magazine. Medieval Warfare is the real deal. A sister publication of Ancient Warfare, which I have also reviewed, this beautiful bimonthly covers war from the fall of Rome to the beginning of the Renaissance. That is a good millennium of battles and other stuff, which Medieval Warfare handles very well. It is a Dutch-produced – Karwansaray Publishers – but its language is English. The current issue – Vol. II, Issue 6 – is themed to the Byzantine Empire of the tenth and eleventh centuries, a golden age for Byzantium and an era of military resurgence on all fronts.

My personal favorite is Raffaele d’Amato’s look at the equipment of the kataphraktoi, the heavy armored cavalry of the Byzantine Empire. I like d’Amato’s work very much, he is a real scholar, and knows how to make good use of his sources. Medieval Warfare also contains stunning color artwork and great photographs. It is the kind of magazine that insists that you take it off the rack and look it over. Give it a look yourself. It is available at Barnes & Noble.

I also highly recommend Byzantine Imperial Guardsman 925-1025 by Raffaele d’Amato.  My review of it is in the back of this particular Medieval Warfare issue.  Check it out!

Marc DeSantis

F-35 Fighter Program Still in Trouble

The F-35 Lightning II program has been beset by a number of problems that were not anticipated when it was first proposed. It is astounding, even when considering the technological advancements that the F-35 represents, for a military aircraft program to require more than eleven years of development and not a single operational squadron yet exists.

If you have been reading this blog, you are well aware that one of the underlying reasons that America pays so much for its weapons is because the Pentagon seeks to push the tech envelope in every direction. Sometimes, this results in a remarkable weapon system, such as the M1 tank, while in others, the result is dubious (the V-22 Osprey) or both (the F-22).The F-35, which is shaping up to be the costliest weapon buy in American history, may never be the cost-effective, multi-service jet that was promised. It was meant to be a fighter usable by the US Air Force, the Navy, and the Marines, as well as a number of other countries. The problem is that Lockheed had to design a fighter that was stealthy, like the F-22, could dogfight, drop bombs, carry its weapons internally to keep it stealthy, and, oh yeah, land on a carrier by hovering, just like the old Harrier jump jet.

Getting all of these opposing design requirements to work in a single package, at a reasonable cost, no less, has proven far more difficult than expected. The F-35, which appears to have a distressingly short unrefueled range, reminds me of a latter-day F-111 Aardvark, a swing-wing jet of the 1960’s that, as a cost-saving measure, was supposed to be used by both the Navy and the Air Force. As it turned out the F-111 proved to be too heavy to land on carriers (oops!) and the Air Force was stuck with it. Irony of ironies, this big and heavy “fighter” was actually used in the light bomber role by the Air Force, which demonstrates that trying to be all things to all people usually means that you are nothing to everyone.

At this stage, it seems likely that the F-35 will never live up to the hopes expressed upon the inception of its plan, but it is too far along to give up, both politically and economically. Something will have to be salvaged from this otherwise unhappy fighter program. Look for far fewer purchases than anticipated, as newer and better Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) emerge from the drawing boards of aerospace companies.  UAV’s are not yet the Dreadnought battleship that renders all previous designs obsolete, but they are getting close. Read about the sorry details of the F-35 here.

China’s Carrier Fighter – First Landing

The naval situation in East Asia has just gotten more interesting.  China has just achieved its first carrier jet landing on the recently-commissioned Liaoning.  Take a look at a photograph of the Shenyang J-15 here.

The Pentagon has not been impressed, but I think that it is watching China’s single aircraft carrier (for now) very closely. Something tells me that China’s growing naval power will be used to justify big American defense budgets for many years to come.

In the meanwhile, Japan is eyeing China’s build-up nervously.  It is responding with some moves of its own.

Marc DeSantis

Chinese Stealth Fighter Photos

Anyone interested in aviation will want to read this article in The Atlantic.   Without a doubt, the Chinese  J-31 stealth fighter bears more than a passing resemblance to the American F-22.  While espionage is always a possibility, the more reasonable interpretation for the outward similarity of the two aircraft is that the Chinese have studied the contours of the F-22 very closely, and since they are seeking to solve the same problem that the U.S. Air Force is – evade radar – the Chinese designers have applied a ready-made solution to the problem.

It is also likely that the F-22 is still more advanced because of a variety of special coatings and other onboard technologies that can’t be copied so easily.

Marc De Santis