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Beer

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Beer last won the day on May 31

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  1. It's not that much about emotions or blaming anyone after so much time (after all if things went different way that time I would never be born myself). To be very honest the state as created at the end of WW1 was hardly viable for a longer period of time and it would have to either transform itself into proper federation or disintegrate sooner or later anyway. However what keeps fascinating me is just how incredibly successful this German/Italian bluff resulting in Münich agreement was. In the end it resulted in a series of other events known as a WW2 which seen by today's optics could have been relatively easily prevented, but I guess it's like that with many historical events. Anyway I definitely recommend to visit Lešany especially if you are interested in artillery because there is a huge collection of mainly Škoda guns including dozens of prototypes which can not be seen anywhere else.
  2. Actually it's fourth one since May, not third - one F-22, one F-35 and one F-15 crashed before (plus one Navy F-18F in the same time period).
  3. And @ 3:15 the famous Vulcan technical. Still alive and kicking.
  4. Few of my photos from Czechoslovak interwar tanks from Lešany museum. Pardon the quality, my poor old phone has an issue with non ideal lighting conditions. What is important is that all these vehicles are in running condition. Škoda LT vz.35 / Pz.35(t) / R2 (in Romania), the main Czechoslovak tank by the time of Münich with 298 pieces in service (actually more because some Romanian tanks were temporarily confiscated directly in the factory but after Münich they were delivered to Romania anyway). I'd say a very good tank for its time whose reputation suffered in Russia in 1941-42 but that was in conditions for which it was never designed and also one has to take into account that this is a 1935 vehicle and it doesn't need a genius to see that this tank shall not fight the T-34 or KV. It was never very reliable even in Czechoslovak service but which tank was in 1930'? The main issues with Czechoslovak army were with the electric systems, however in Russia the problems came from the pneumatic system which had a tendency to freeze. Other than that it was a small, well protected (for its time and class) vehicle with very strong armament. It was not very fast but not badly slow either. What is very interesting is that it had a semi-automatic pneumatically-operated planetary transmission with 6 speeds in both directions (!). With that it was a very easy tank to drive, one can say even luxurious for the drivers. The well designed commander cupola was another of the very modern features. All visors also had 50 mm thick armoured glass inserts which was no standard at all at that time. The biggest drawback was probably the one-man turret but that was pretty standard at its time (the Germans added a second crewman in the turret by reducing the ammo stowage). Another drawback was that the original Czechoslovak radio vz.35 worked only in morse code and had relatively short range 2+ km (the Germans replaced the radio with voice one Fu-2 or Fu-5). Still morse radio is much better than no radio. From other interesting features I'd mention the fact that the coaxial vz.37 MG could be aimed independently on the main gun. The last thing to say is that by the fall of 1938 this tank could destroy all existing German tanks from reasonable distance while it was better protected than nearly all of those which were available for Wehrmacht at that time. AFAIK no Pz.III was in the combat units intended for the Fall Grün and only two dozens or so of Pz.IV were, otherwise it was only legions of Pz.I and II. ČKD LT vz.38 / Pz.38(t). Pretty well known and successful tank, so I don't think I need to write about it a lot. It never made it to Czechoslovak service before Münich and actually all the initial series went directly to Wehrmacht in Spring 1939. Just like with the LT vz.35 the Germans added a second man into the turret. Maybe just in short what was was better with it compared to the LT vz.35 - it was faster, nimbler, much more reliable, more mechanically robust, better armed (it had a new powerful gun) and didn't have the complicated pneumatic system while still being easy tank to drive. Instead it used a semi-automatic Wilson planetary gearbox with five speeds forward and one backwards. In the end the best Czechoslovak tank was designed by Russian (Alexej Surin), it had Swedish engine (Scania Vabis), British gearbox (Wilson) and was used by Germany against it which was intended to be used... Variants of the tank were also exported to Iran (two are even on display in Tehran), Slovakia and licence-built in Sweden. ČKD LTP - export tank to Peru. You can notice the older gun, simple cupola etc. These tanks were in use by Peruvian army till 1970' and in storage till 1990'. They were praised for reliability and good performance in the high mountains (for example in 1937 they measured the top speed 34 km/h at the altitude of 4200 meters ). Similar variant of the tank was also sold to Lithuania. ČKD LTH - export tank to Switzerland. Used till 1950. The most interesting on it is probably the 24 mm automatic gun (fed by 6-round magazines) and the water-cooled Maxim MGs. ČKD AH-IV-S - export tankette for Sweden (1936). Crazy fast thing for its time. It was able to run 60 km/h with 15 mm armor and two HMGs. They were in use till 1953, I presume as scout vehicles. Different variants of this vehicle were used by Iran and Romania (with weaker engine) and funilly twenty were sold to Ethiopia even in 1950 (with diesel engine)! A short note about the strategy and tactics in which the tanks played a big role. The Czechoslovak defence strategy counted with the fortifications to slow down the advancing enemy for enough time to allow relatively highly mobile field units inside the territory to fight where it was necessary (mainly the four so called Fast Divisions with fully motorized artillery, tank regiments and cavalry). The ultimate goal was to defend for time long enough to allow France, Romania and Yugoslavia as the main allies to mobilize and start military operations against Germany (or possibly Hungary). Ironically today when we know way more than what the polititians knew by that time and we can say that the plan would most likely work because Wehrmacht was unprepared for anything more than one-two weeks long campaign (one week long operation was even the plan), it had near undefended western border with France (7 divisions only), had no reasonable numerical advantage over Czechoslovakia (except for number of planes and tanks but those had their issues in that time too - for example Legion Condor with modern planes was still in Spain) - 38 against 36 divisions if I remember right and more of the Wehrmacht ones were incomplete compared to Czecholsovak ones, four of them were Austrian of questionable quality too. Germany counted with Hungary to attack Czechoslovakia but from the archives it seems that Hungary was too affraid of repeating 1919 defeat and would most likely opt to stay aside (in 1919 Romanian-Czechoslovak alliance defeated Hungary in a war for what is today south Slovakia). There was no element of surprise. Czecholsovakia managed to fully mobilize (unlike Poland) and distributed all supplies to field units. The German plans were somewhat different compared to the Czechoslovak anticipations but basically not in a way which would make things worse. Czechoslovak high command counted with two massive armoured assaults in north-south direction which would either force the army to retreat to Slovakia or surround it in central Bohemia (unlike most of French generals many Czechoslovak generals studied the Guderian's book Achtung Panzer! and were very enthusiastic about the mechanized warfare concept and tried to addapt it). The final German plan still counted with these two directions but with relatively limited forces (north was considred to be too heavily fortified and south too bad for logistics - not enough bridges and roads in Austria). As a result the German attack would come in six directions with relatively limited forces on each one moreover those would not get in the fight at once but would engage as they would get to the area (to create an element of surprise they were not concentrated near the front, however no element of surprise existed at that time). The advantage in airfoce was further reduced by the weather. The war was about to start on 1st October when it was foggy and rainy weather. At least half of the first day attack would be without any air support at all. The rest of the month was not very good for flying either. Part of the plan was a massive airdrop behind the fortification line in the northern sector. AFAIK this operation was executed in April 1939 as a training event and it went terribly wrong even without any opposition. The experience was not yet there. In the end the big question was the impact of the local Suddendeutsche Freikorps units in Czechoslovakia (roughly 40 thousand very lightly armed men whose target was to sabotage military traffic and commnucations and to create unrest, they had mostly only pistols, hunting rifles and explosives). All in all we will never know what would happen but I'm fairly sure there was no blitzkieg to happen. The main reason being that the Wehrmacht didn't have the Czechoslovak manforce and weapons it had in Poland and the fact that the creation process of both the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe was still far from being finished. Little known fact is that Wehrmacht rose by hundreds of thousands men when the Sudettenland was taken by Germany - men who went through Czechoslovak military service in 1918-1938 while Germany alone started the mandatory military service only in 1936 and therefore had massive men-shortage before Anschluss of Austria and Suddetenland. I think that the most famous "Czechoslovak German" soldier was the tank ace Kurt Knispel. I have not found the complete numbers but it's estimated that 300-500 thousands of Sudettendeutsche soldiers died in the war which is an absolutely enormous number considering the population of only 3,2 million (in fact 2,4 million of Germans were forced to leave Czechoslovakia in 1945 and of those missing 800 thousand majority probably died in the war and part fled already before the war ended).
  5. I didn't know the RPG-75 was still being produced. It's pretty old system (extremely small and light though).
  6. I have accidentally came across this (more info and pictures under the link). It's relatively recently identified gem of the Czech military museum in Žižkov, Prague (atm it's still closed due to the ongoing reconstruction). For decades it was stored there but until few years back nobody knew what it actually was. In fact it's 1899 experimental machinegun of baron Adolf Odkolek z Újezdce, the original author of the design solutions used in the famous Hotchkiss Mle 1914 MG (Hotchkiss bought Odkolek's patents). Baron Odkolek (whose name is known in here mainly thanks to the bakeries founded by his uncle and existing till today) was a military officer and weapon designer, he was born near Mladá Boleslav, central Bohemia, but in the later part of his life he lived in Vienna where he also died in 1917. This particular weapon chambered in 7.92x57 Mauser has a serial number 1 and is functional although part of the sights is missing and the belt design is unknown. Its parts were patented in 1899 (in Germany) and 1900 (in Switzerland). It's surprisingly light, just 10,5 kg.
  7. I strongly recommend to read the preliminary report of the PIA A320 crash in Karachi (highlighted in yellow). It's absolutely unbelievable even for a person whose only piloting experience is on PC... http://avherald.com/h?article=4d7a6e9a&opt=0
  8. Fantastic photo from WW2 of a P-47 attacking a munion truck captured by a gun camera of the wingman. Source: https://twitter.com/WWIIpix/status/1275393595399385088
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