Tag Archives: history

World War One: The Birth of Submarine Warfare

When war broke out in 1914, the British Navy was the largest and most powerful in the world, and the German High Seas Fleet stood little chance against it. It was, however, at sea that Britain was the most vulnerable—as an island, the British had to import nearly everything they used, and the majority of their supplies came across the Atlantic from the US. A successful campaign against British merchant shipping, therefore, would choke off Britain’s vital supplies and starve her into submission. But with the German fleet unable to stand in an open fight with the Royal Navy, the Germans could see no good way to successfully attack British shipping.

Their answer came from an unexpected source.

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An American “Holland Boat”

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F-35 Lightning II: A History of the Most Expensive Military Program Ever

While I was looking at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center, I must confess to mixed feelings.  On the one hand, the F-35 is an aesthetically wonderful aircraft–one cannot help but admire its long sleek lines and its graceful stealthy curves–and it represents some of the most advanced technology in the world. As a matter of history, it may also represent the last major manned military fighter ever to be designed. On the other hand, the F-35 has the dubious honor of being the most expensive military project ever undertaken by humans, and can only be viewed as a seemingly bottomless money pit.

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The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center. This is the Marines short-takeoff vertical-landing “B” version.

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The First Passenger Airliner: The Benoist XIV and the St Pete-Tampa Airboat Line

In a glass-walled hall in the tiny St Petersburg FL Museum of History, a replica of a smallish “flying boat” biplane hangs from the ceiling. It is little-noticed by the tourists who walk past on their way to the beaches and high-end shops and bistros in downtown St Pete, but the Benoist XIV seaplane (pronounced “ben-wah”) made aviation history when it flew on January 1, 1914–it was the first regularly-scheduled commercial passenger airplane flight in the world.

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