Saturday Snippet: The sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse in 1941

Americans tend to forget that Japan didn’t only attack Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.  She simultaneously attacked across a wide swath of the Pacific Ocean, including the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies and Malaya.  Britain had just sent to Singapore one of its most modern battleships, HMS Prince of Wales (which had recently played a part in the destruction of the German battleship Bismarck), accompanied by a World War I battle-cruiser, HMS Repulse.  Operating together as Force Z, they attempted to attack a Japanese landing fleet near Singapore a few days later, with disastrous results. This description of what happened was written by then-Sub-Lieutenant (equivalent to

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The radioactive tanks of Chernobyl

There’s a fascinating article at Firearms News titled “The Radioactive ISU-152“.  It describes how some of the biggest, heaviest tanks of World War II returned to the scene of one of their victories, four decades later, to act as saviors rather than destroyers. The SU/ISU-152 was designed specifically to be a part of both the shock and breakthrough elements of the Soviet Deep Battle doctrine. The KV heavy tank chassis would provide the base for the massive ML-20S, a portable version of the standard 152mm howitzer in service. The gun had a range of 10km for indirect fire but was reduced to less

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The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow. The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine,

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On Iran, the Romans had it right

I’m sure many of my readers are familiar with the later Roman Empire’s famous dictum, “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (“If you want peace, prepare for war”).  It’s derived from Vegetius‘ classic fourth-century text, De re militari (“Concerning Military Matters”). It’s particularly apt to consider that reality when thinking of the targeted killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by US forces in Iraq.  Soleimani was the leading terrorist organizer and controller in the entire Middle East, head and shoulders above all others in power, influence, intellect and ability.  The West had tippy-toed its way around him and his Iranian backers for decades.  President Trump finally

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Saturday Snippet: a Viking teaser

During my ongoing recovery from my heart attack last month, I’ve been trying to work on the books I have in progress.  It’s very difficult to write creatively when the new medication I’m taking makes me breathless, dizzy, and too easily tired.  The combination doesn’t do much for my muse!  As a result, when things get too confused, I put aside my regular projects and try to noodle on other things to get my mind out of the same old rut, and keep at least some creative juices flowing. The snippet below came to me a few weeks ago.  It may

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You think you’re tough? Try removing your own appendix!

I recently came across a fascinating article about a Russian doctor who cut out his own appendix, after being left with no alternative. During an expedition to the Antarctic, Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov became seriously ill. He needed an operation – and as the only doctor on the team, he realised he would have to do it himself. . . . Rogozov was part of the sixth Soviet Antarctic expedition – a team of 12 had been sent to build a new base at the Schirmacher Oasis. The Novolazarevskaya Station was up and running by the middle of February 1961, and with their mission complete the group

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“A River of Horns” is published!

My latest Western novel, “A River of Horns“, fourth in the Ames Archives series, has been published in e-book format.  A print edition will follow soon The blurb reads: Walt Ames and his Texas partner, Tyler Reese, know that the U.S. Army is bound and determined to push the Comanche and Kiowa tribes onto the reservation for good. Once the Texas Panhandle is pacified, millions of acres of land will become available. They aim to be among the first to set up a ranch there – but that’ll take money… a whole lot of money. How do you raise money

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Saturday Snippet: more hazards on the trail

Following my recent heart attack, I’ve found my writing activities severely disrupted.  Part of it is the sheer amount of time I have to spend on cardiac rehabilitation classes, seeing doctors, and other related activities.  However, much of it is due to medication issues.  I’ve been put on one of the most recent anticoagulant/blood-thinner medications, which is doubtless very effective at what it does, but also plain whups my butt!  It leaves me breathless, dizzy (particularly when I stand up too quickly), and exhausted if I try to work too hard.  (That may be intentional, for all I know, to stop cantankerous

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80 years of MiG fighters

The aircraft design bureau headed by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich, which has gone down in history by the amalgamation of the first letters of their last names as MiG, was formed on December 8th, 1939 – 80 years ago, plus a few days.  Today it’s the “Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG” division of United Aircraft Corporation of Russia, and is still going strong. To celebrate the anniversary, the company produced this short video highlighting several of its most famous designs, from the MiG-1 and MiG-3 fighters of World War II, to the MiG-15 that terrorized Allied aircraft during the Korean War, to the MiG-17, –19 and –21 of the Vietnam War era, to the MiG-29 that

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“Trouble in the Wind”

Earlier this year, authors Chris Kennedy and James Young partnered to bring to market a trilogy of alternate-history short story anthologies of combat.  They called it “The Phases of Mars“.  The first book, “Those in Peril“, dealt with the sea and naval combat.  The second volume, “To Slip the Surly Bonds“, dealt with aircraft and aerial warfare. The third and final volume covers war on land, and includes a story by yours truly.  It’s titled “Trouble in the Wind“, and has just been published.  In less than 24 hours, it’s already reached the #1 New Release position on Amazon.com in Science Fiction Anthologies. The

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