US Navy floating dry docks In World War II

Among the logistical marvels which made the US Navy so successful in the Pacific War of World War II were various kinds of floating dry docks it could deploy into areas close behind the westward-moving ‘front line’. These could be towed to advanced bases by tugs, and were designed and delivered in a variety of …

US Navy fleet train of WW2

At the end of World War I, US naval planners assessed the naval operations of that conflict and came to the conclusion that a fleet lost 10% of its combat capability for every 1,000 miles (1600 km) it operated away from its base. The implications of this assessment were then compounded by the fortifications clause …

Japan’s greatest Pacific base – Truk atoll

The US geographical (rather than operational) codename for Truk atoll in the Caroline islands group of the central Pacific between 1941 and 1945 was originally ‘Anaconda’ and then ‘Panhandle’. A group of hilly islands, the tips of drowned mountain peaks, surrounded by a large barrier reef with five passes, Truk is a large atoll lying …

‘Fathead’ – A Far-Eastern ‘Mincemeat’?

The head of ‘GSI(d)’, one of the the British organisations responsible for deception activities in the Far East in World War II and which was merged in January 1944 with the Special Planning Section to create the ‘D’ Division, was Peter Fleming, a well known writer and brother of Ian Fleming, the creator of James …

A successful British deception of WWII – the ‘Cyprus Defence Plan’

The ‘Cyprus Defence Plan’ was a pioneering and very effective British deception plan, created in the aftermath of the German seizure of Crete in ‘Merkur’. The plan suggested that Cyprus, which could have been Germany’s next target for airborne assault and would offer the Axis powers considerable strategic advantages, was held by forces considerably stronger …

Operation ‘Longshanks’

Operation ‘Longshanks’, which was otherwise known as ‘Boarding Party’ and ‘Creek’, was a peculiar British operation against a German merchant ship moored, as a neutral, in the Portuguese enclave of Goa in western India, and took place on 9 March 1943. The operation was undertaken by members of the Calcutta Light Horse, a reserve unit …

Warships that never were – the Soviet ‘Sovetsky Soyuz’ class battleship (II)

The main armament of the ‘Sovetsky Soyuz’ class battleships was based on a trio of electrically powered MK-1 turrets, each with three 16-in (406-mm) B-37 L/50 guns. These guns could be depressed to -2° and elevated to +45°, had a fixed loading angle of 6° and their rate of fire varied with the time required …

Warships that never were – the Soviet ‘Sovetsky Soyuz’ class battleship (I)

The ‘Sovetsky Soyuz’ class comprised four battleships which were started in the late 1930s but not completed. Designed in response to the battleships being built by Germany, the class was to have totalled 16 ships, but in the event only four had been laid down by 1940, it was decided to curtail the programme to …