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Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 3:35:19 AM   
JRodda

 

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No doubt this is a subject that comes up from time-to-time in this forum, and here's my short list (well,relatively short) in no particular order. Of course I'd be curious to hear the some of the battles and campaigns that you find interesting.

The Ardennes Offensive (1944) - Germany plays its last card and catches the Western Allies practically with their pants down, and Georgie Patton shines in the relief of Bastogne.

Alesia (52 BC) - The greatest battle from one of history's greatest soldiers. Julius Caesar defends a 12 mile tactical doughnut from Gauls within and without. How cool is that?

Antietam (1862) - America's bloodiest day. Mars Robert and his army were trapped on the Potomac, and only McClellan's bungling prevented the North from winning the war in an afternoon. Also, if anyone has ever visited the Antietam battlefield, it is one of the most beautiful pieces of land you will ever see. Hmmm.

Dienbienphu (1953-54) - A totally fascinating modern siege in which everyone expected the technologically superior French to easily defeat the Viet Minh. It just goes to show that superior technology and air power aren't everything. This great battle was one of the few decisive battles to be fought since WW2. Also gotta love how the French named their redoubts after French actresses!!!

Manstein's 'Miracle of the Donets' (1943) - Over-confident from their great victory at Stalingrad, the Russians rushed forward and outran their supply lines, and were cut to shreds by Eric von Manstein's panzers in a well-laid trap. A great victory from one of Germany's greatest generals. It was also the last significant German victory in WW2.

Chalons-sur-Marne (451) - The last great Roman (albeit half barbarian) general Flavius Aetius teamed up with the Visigoths to stop Attila the Hun, though they manged to do this just barely. It's amazing to think that this great, bloody battle was fought just 24 years before the Western Empire's final collapse. History would have been quite different had Attila annihilated the Romans and Visigoths, as Attila was not called the 'Scourge of God' for nothing.

The Brusilov Offensive (1916)- One of the few interesting battles of the First World War. The tottering Czarist regime launched a major offensive in the South with a large contingent of cavalry, and managed to put the hurt on the Austrians and make some spectacular advances before the Germans intervened to save their shaky ally.

The Solomons Campaign (1942-43) - The greatest land-sea-air campaign ever in my opinion. It was also a time and place where the US and Japan were roughly at parity. The campaign was highlighted by the long bloody Guadalcanal battle and the great carrier battles of the Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, to say nothing of JFK!

Kursk (1943) - A battle that Hitler never should have launched, this huge and bloody battle was a dress rehearsal for Armageddon. It was the greatest battle the world had ever seen, and let us hope we never see anything like it again! The tank clash at Prokhorovka must have been quite a spectacle though.

Saratoga (1777) - This chaotic and multidimensional battle was interesting for many reasons, not the least being that it was largely won by the famous American traitor Benedict Armold. Go figure???

The Yom Kippur War (1973) - Great tank battle with the Egyptians at the Chinese Farm, and a near breakthrough by Syria on the Golan Heights. Israel's toughest war since the 1948 foundation war.

Eylau (1807) - One of Napoleon's oft overlooked but most difficult and hard-fought battles. It showcased the strengths and weakness of the Napoleonic war machine, fought as it was during a sever snowstorm.

Raid on Entebbe (1976) - One of the most daring and successful rescue missions in history. Idi Amin thought he was well beyond the reach of the IDF, but he was wrong. Also, leave it to the Israelis to upstage the United States on the US Bicentennial!!! lol

I guess that's enough for one evening. Again, I'd like to hear some of your thoughts, and please bear with me if I got any of my details slightly wrong.

Cheers,

John
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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 3:50:00 AM   
E

 

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I'd have to go with the Battle of Britain. Courage and perseverance versus blunders. The whole situation/scenario reminds me of the old poster of the eagle swooping in for the kill, as the mouse stands defiantly and gives him the finger.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 4:30:29 AM   
JRodda

 

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Ah yes, 'Adler Tag'.    Churchill was absolutely correct in his "never have so many owed so much to so few speech".  Correct me if I'm wrong here, but is it true that the Luftwaffe was on the point of destroying the RAF, but when the RAF did the accidental night bombing of Berlin it threw Hitler into a rage and prompted him to order the Luftwaffe to switch from bombing the RAF airfields to the terror bombing of the British cities, which saved the RAF?  Still in all, you have to admire the British people for standing virtually alone against the Fuhrer in those dark days of 1940-41.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 5:29:02 AM   
E

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JRodda


Ah yes, 'Adler Tag'.


That was just the "first" day (Eagle Day)...

quote:

ORIGINAL: JRodda

Churchill was absolutely correct in his "never have so many owed so much to so few speech". Correct me if I'm wrong here, but is it true that the Luftwaffe was on the point of destroying the RAF, but when the RAF did the accidental night bombing of Berlin it threw Hitler into a rage and prompted him to order the Luftwaffe to switch from bombing the RAF airfields to the terror bombing of the British cities, which saved the RAF? Still in all, you have to admire the British people for standing virtually alone against the Fuhrer in those dark days of 1940-41.



Pretty close... a stray* German bomb hit the palace first, to which the British responded with a raid on Berlin. Then Hitler threw his fit.

The Luftwaffe was generally doing better than the visual results. Had they pressed on with most any of the aspects (radar attacks, airfields, aero-industry), it could've been a different story. However history says that Hitler was never actually going to invade and was just trying the get the British to stop fighting him (he was busy throwing a party for Stalin), if not make actual peace. Not to mention Churchill wrote that only the U-boat attacks had him truly worried.

I was always fascinated by the whole thing since seeing the movie when it came out. (it didn't hurt that my family were all avid aircraft model builders then. *grin*).

* Much debate over the years on whether it was indeed a stray bomb. I believe the stray story is still prevailing.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 7:16:05 AM   
JudgeDredd


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I always thought it was down to as described in the film...the German bombers were not aware they were over London when they dropped their bombs, thinking they were over the docks but unable to tell because of the blackout. Churchill responded by bombing Berlin to show the Germans they were not infallable and then Hitler changed tact.

RAF would've been on their knees very quickly. I doubt that Hitler would not have invaded - I definitely think air superiority would've meant an invasion force. Britain was badly prepared for a land war at the time. The well oiled German military would've surely swept aside the Home Guard?

As for famous military battles, I'd like to add The Falklands Conflict.

I was "turning of age" when this occurred and was the final decision maker for my choice of joinging the British Forces. Amazing what the troops pulled off (and the Government to a very smaller aspect).

A force was pulled together within a week at a time when Britain was going through some tough financial times and the military was being downsized everywhere. The force was sent 8,000 miles. A very small naval air force was sent on 2 "aircraft carriers" to provide cover against a much larger and determined Argentine air force. This force was to amphibiously assault islands which were about to go through their very severe winter against an enemy which had weeks to dig in and prepare (although they done it pretty badly and half heartedly). The naval force had to hold off waves of very brave attacks by a far superior air force whilst conducting some of the toughest operations in the one of the harshest regions in the world.

All done at the drop of a hat and on the governments shoestring budget! Simply amazing.

Some info on here (though I have to read this site myself - just a quick link I found to sate your appetite!)

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 9:50:55 AM   
bigbaba


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the outcome of the battle of britain was clear from the beginning. why?

-the germans had not a heavily armed strategic bomber. their medium bombers were designed for tactical operations in combination with their "panzerdivisionen".

-the germans (espacialy göring) expected too much from the BF-110 and the combat over britain showed that it was no match for agile hurrican and spitfires.

-the BF-109, the german frontline fighter, had a too small range to be effective in fighter sweep&escort missions. thats something i never understand: why did the luftwaffe not developed external fuel tanks for the BF-109? this single technological development would change the outcome of the entire battle since many many german fighters and pilots were lost on their way back home AFTER their mission. a BF-109 with 1/3 extented range would realy make a difference.

-hitlers influence on startegy and tactic of the luftwaffe coupled with görings incompetence. switching from the RAF ground organization to london wa sa big mistake and cost the germans the possible victory. since hitlers (actualy it was mannsteins) plan to defeat france was succesfull, he viewed himself as a military genius and begunn to interfere more and more in the military operations of the wehrmacht instead of letting the experts doing the job.

the biggest military achievement was imho the israeli counter attack to the arab surprise attack in the yom kippur war 1973. totaly surprised, outnumberd and more or less alone (US help came after several days and europe was already totaly anti-israeli and pro-arab and did not help the jews in their fight for existence) they stopped nearly 5000 modern russian tanks and hunderts of russian mig and suchois. that was a outstanding preformance of a western army against eastern hordes. the suez kanal crossing of sharons division and the surrounding of a entire arab army at sinai was something like the german "kesselschlachten" in the east front.

the biggest and most impressive anti-terror operation was the israli raid in entebe to free the jew hostages.


< Message edited by bigbaba -- 6/26/2009 9:54:45 AM >

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 11:03:31 AM   
Rodwell


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Ain Jalut is the one single battle that most fascinates me, even though I prefer WW2 games.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 12:06:42 PM   
Crazy Aido

 

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Not exactly one particular battle, but typifying my idea of a real military hero.

The rise and fall of Shingen Takeda.

Wins his first battle at the age of fifteen, dies in battle at the age of about seventy, so well respected they hide this fact for two years, his son gets his army slaughtered soon afterwards.

Performs exceedingly well from his little province of Kai in the Japanese hills, one of the wonderfully dramatic things is his interaction with his nemesis, (even him having one makes it epic really) Kenshin Uesigi, which includes one of the few examples I have found of General vs. General combat in the middle of a battle!

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 4:32:59 PM   
sulla05

 

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I would add Malplaquet.

Hitler's own words speak volumes of how he wanted to have not only peace but also to have Britain as an ally. He saw Britain as the stabilizing force of what we would now call the third world.

As far as the invasion themselves the generals in charge of getting the invasion forces ready, they thought it was a joke. Much of the troops would have had to be brought over in barges. Sealion as an operation had been sudied and plans drawn up but the actual implementing of the nuts and bolts of it were not really carried out.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 6:34:56 PM   
06 Maestro


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quote:

ORIGINAL: E

Pretty close... a stray* German bomb hit the palace first, to which the British responded with a raid on Berlin. Then Hitler threw his fit.


The RAF had initiated night bombing of Berlin in May of 1940. The raids were small (like about 80 planes) but those caused damage. There were some rather gross results from those raids as the air raid precautions/drills had some flaws in them.

There were repeated warnings from Germany to the British that English cities would be destroyed if the RAF did not cease its bombing of Berlin. The RAF was actually bombing Berlin for 3 months before there was a like response-accidental or not. It seems a rather safe assumption that Churchill wanted the target to shift from British a/c factories to city centers-propaganda was sorely needed.

Regarding Sea Lion; I agree that Hitler was only bluffing and never intended to actually invade-there were too many problems even if the RAF could be dealt with. Of course, the British could not have known about the Germans inability to confidently interdict the RN. I would bet that Winnie upped his whiskey rations that summer.

< Message edited by 06 Maestro -- 6/26/2009 6:40:57 PM >


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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 7:21:40 PM   
V22 Osprey


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I have to go with:

1)Battle of Caen and Hill 112
2)Yorktown(1781) British finally get their ass handed to them on a silver platter.The only thing I didnt like about this battle was that Cornwallis didn't even have the balls to face George Washington after he was defeated.
3)Ardennes Offensive
4)Operation Market Garden
5)Battle of Stalingrad

Thats my top 5.

< Message edited by V22 Osprey -- 6/26/2009 7:22:06 PM >

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 8:22:07 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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I would also nominate Sherman's campaign towards Atlanta in the summer of 1864. Quite possibly the greatest generals' duel in military history: Sherman was an expert at manuever warfare, but Johnston out-guessed him almost every time. And it was decisive: without the fall of Atlanta, McClellan might well have defeated Lincoln in the November election, and offered peace terms to the Confederacy.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/26/2009 8:45:53 PM   
Helpless


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quote:

Kursk (1943) - A battle that Hitler never should have launched, this huge and bloody battle was a dress rehearsal for Armageddon. It was the greatest battle the world had ever seen, and let us hope we never see anything like it again! The tank clash at Prokhorovka must have been quite a spectacle though.


If you mean greatest as biggest then it's not. By the amount of divisions involved battle for Moscow (Typhoon) was bigger. Prokhorovka wasn't the largest "tank clash" as well. Later battle for Orel had more tanks on battlefield.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 12:37:53 AM   
Llyranor


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My current favorite is Market-Garden, though I guess that's after I read A Bridge Too Far, Arnhem 1944 and It Never Snows in September recently.

< Message edited by Llyranor -- 6/27/2009 12:38:02 AM >

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 1:59:49 AM   
gunny

 

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Tsushima 1905, very fascinating pre-dreadnaught Naval battle, close quarters slug match. Russians sailing their second squadron from the Baltic just to meet the japs lying in wait.


The Hurtgeon Forest, although never called a battle or campaign was an interesting prelude to the bulge. Reserve german infantry played Guerrilla style defence, while Bradley lost track of casualty counts and kept feeding the meat grinder. Each side was re-writing the rulebook for small unit fighting patrol tactics.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 2:00:41 AM   
Grell

 

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I would have to say these are my favourite victories.

A\ Auerstaedt 1806, Napoleons Marshall Davout takes on the bulk of the Prussian army with just 1 Corps. Massive French victory and from that point onwards Davout was referred to as The Duc D'Auerstaedt.

B\ Austerlitz (1805), Napoleon crushes the Austrian and Russian forces on the Pratzen heights.

There are others but I can't remember them right now.

Regards,

Grell

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 2:33:20 AM   
JRodda

 

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Yes, I tend to agree with historian David Chandler when he referred to Napoleon as history's greatest soldier.  Also, yes, I also agree that Davout was perhaps Napoleon's greatest Marshall, although for some odd reason (I'd read) that Napoleon never really liked him much.  One has to wonder though what would have happened at Waterloo had Davout been there.  BTW, I highly recommend David Chandler's 'The Campaigns of Napoleon'.  It's one of the greatest miltary history books ever, and it's a surprisngly easy and fast read considering its long length.

Yes, I also agree about the Falkland's War.  Britain performed brilliantly, I suspect largely due to the better training and overall quality of the British forces.  It was a land/sea/air operation to rival the Solomons Campaign (if on a smaller scale).  I recall Canadian military historian Gwynne Dyer questioned whether the Falklands was worth Britian going to war over, and although he makes a valid point, I would have to think that if the 1930's appeasment period taught us anything, it's that democracies have to stand up to military juntas, as the only thing they seem to understand is superior force.  Sighs.  It is what it is.  I guess you know about Col. Jones at the battle of Goose Green? 

Thanks everyone for all the additional details about the Battle of Britain.  Yes, I did understand that the Luftwaffe was designed for close tactical air support and not strategic bombing.  BTW, I thought the 'Battle of Britain' film was awesome; what with all those authentic German planes borrowed from the Spanish Air Force.  One of the most underrated war movies ever.  "Britain is not our natural enemy."  

Thanks for the information about the Battle of Orel in the wake of Kursk.  I didn't realize it was that big. 

I love what General JFC Fuller wrote about the Russo-Japanese War.  He said that the significance of it is that it gave heart to the rest of the world that the West could be beaten.  BTW, his 'Military History of the Western World' is a must read as well, even if some may be offended by his rather controversial take on the Russo-German War (1941-45).  I recall one map where he compared a map from the Middle Ages with Germany in 1945, and stated that "After a thousand years, the Slavs were back on the Elbe!!!"

And yes, I'd read that the Hurtgen Forest was a VERY hard fought battle that is strangely overlooked by military historians.

I agree that Arnhem is up there with Crete as the most fascinating paradrop in history.  The trouble is (and I don't mean to step on the toes of my esteemed British colleagues), from what I understand Ike put the breaks on Patton's brilliant drive in the Saar/Lorraine region and gave supply priority to Monty, and what did Monty do?  Launched the Market Garden fiasco.  Sorry.     

One more thing.  I agree that those battles around Atlanta between Johnson and Sherman in 1864 were fascinating (if bloody of course).  Wish someone would do a game on it.  Has anyone seen the Cyclorama of the Battles of Atlanta?  It is well worth the visit the next time any of you are in Atlanta. 

Anyway, guess I'd better try to find the Vista patch for the end of scenario crash issue in John Tiller's WW2 Campaigns game so that I can resume playing it.

Cheers.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 3:27:52 AM   
pasternakski


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JRodda
democracies have to stand up to military juntas, as the only thing they seem to understand is superior force.

Which one, the democracy or the junta?

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 9:22:37 AM   
BASB


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No particular order,
1. Long Tan
2. Market Garden
3. Falklands
4. Rorke's Drift
5. Tobruk
I like smaller battles

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 9:35:50 AM   
ilovestrategy


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The Battle of Yavin.

Oh, you mean real life!

In that case, my favorite is the Battle of Midway.


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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 9:59:59 AM   
sprior


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I'm going to throw in:

1. Jutland. What a ding-dong battle that could have been!
2. Solomons Campaign
3. Falklands '82
4. Market-Garden
5. Normandy
6. Trafalgar. That really was a ding-dong battle.

The most fascinating what/if has to be NATO/WP in Western Europe. wargame companies made a lot of money from that in 70's and 80's and I really enjoyed paying for them too. Now they are in my loft gathering dust... (of course I am glad it remains a what/if as I, along with most of Europe and possibly the world, wouldn't be here. Although I did meeet some tankers from the Royal Scots Dragoons who were just itching to have a crack at 3rd Shock Army.)

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/27/2009 10:21:59 AM   
Jonathan Pollard


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I found the Chinese Civil War of 1946-49 to be of such interest that I created a scenario for the first year of it using The Operational Art of War vol.1. It used to be available for download online but I did a search for it now and I could not find it anywhere. My interest was sparked by a boardgame on the subject which first appeared in The Wargamer magazine.

< Message edited by Jonathan Pollard -- 6/27/2009 12:23:23 PM >


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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/28/2009 12:00:31 AM   
ckammp

 

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< Message edited by ckammp -- 11/1/2009 2:35:09 AM >

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/28/2009 2:59:01 AM   
RedArgo


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Mostly because they were the first battles I learned about as a kid.

War of 1812 USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere - I liked the underdog here, even though Old Ironsides was actually bigger, the British certainly expected to win.

Battle of Midway - it had many plots. The code breaking, getting Yorktown back in to the fight after Coral Sea, the heroism of the torpedo bombers in their doomed attacks and the skill of the dive bomber pilots sinking the Japanese flattops.

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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/28/2009 10:08:11 AM   
Lützow


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I'd like to see a game depicting Halbe pocket.

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Re: Midway - 6/28/2009 8:48:49 PM   
JRodda

 

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Yes, the great battle of Midway was possibly one of the most decisive victories ever.  Has anyone seen the 'War and Remembrance' miniseries from the early 90's?  I actually thought they did a better job covering the battle of Midway than the 'Midway' movie did, although that movie wasn't bad.  "These American pilots sacrifice themselves like Samurai!!!" 

One interesting point that Herman Wouk made in both the miniseries and the book was that the real significance of the battle of Midway was that it allowed the US to continue it's 'Germany first' policy. 

Great quotes from the Midway sequence:

"The annals of history show no equal to the great battle of Midway.  Japan's dreams of empire were finished, though it would take three more bloody years and final atomic blast horror before they would admit this fact." 

"The quiet warrior Admiral Raymond Spruance would go on to command ever greater armadas, but like Nelson of Trafalgar, he would forever be known to history as Spruance of Midway."  

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RE: Re: Midway - 6/30/2009 3:03:21 AM   
Gary Childress

 

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Most fascinating battles to me are:

Operation Market Garden and Kursk


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RE: Favorites in Military History - 6/30/2009 1:52:30 PM   
Hard Sarge


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quote:

ORIGINAL: bigbaba

the outcome of the battle of britain was clear from the beginning. why?

-the germans had not a heavily armed strategic bomber. their medium bombers were designed for tactical operations in combination with their "panzerdivisionen".
and what good is a Heavy Bomber ?, for this battle the Heavy was not needed, it wasn't a planned, take out all of the factories battle, it was a tactical battle, to take over control of the skies, and the sea lanes, (without control of the skies, you control the sea, at least during the day), so the Army could move over and win the war

-the germans (espacialy göring) expected too much from the BF-110 and the combat over britain showed that it was no match for agile hurrican and spitfires.
but the reason it wasn't was the way it was forced to fight, it shouldn't of been a close escourt, once it was tied to the bombers, it was usless, on it's own, it did well

-the BF-109, the german frontline fighter, had a too small range to be effective in fighter sweep&escort missions. thats something i never understand: why did the luftwaffe not developed external fuel tanks for the BF-109? this single technological development would change the outcome of the entire battle since many many german fighters and pilots were lost on their way back home AFTER their mission. a BF-109 with 1/3 extented range would realy make a difference.

the RAF fighters had almost the same range limits, it was the design of the times, plus you have to understand the thinking of the times, a escourt fighter, will never be able to win a fight with a normal fighter, Portal was a strong believer in this, and why the English never went after a long range escourt fighter, the P-51 proved everybody wrong, and changed there minds of what could be done, the LW knew about drop tanks, they had already done there home work before the war, but, it was more buggled plans, silly plans, and not using what they had, the way it could be used, that hurt them, just giving them more fuel, and still going with the same plans, would of worked out the same way, I forget which LW General/or Pilot who said it, but the statement was, once they seen the P-47 flying sweeps in front of the Bombers, he knew the air war was over, the Yanks had learned how to protect there bombers, as long as they tried to fly with the bombers, the LW would always be able to hit them, and hit them HARD, I don't think the LW lost that many planes because they ran out of fuel, they lost planes because they had to break off, or were timid, because they knew they were getting close to bingo


-hitlers influence on startegy and tactic of the luftwaffe coupled with görings incompetence. switching from the RAF ground organization to london wa sa big mistake and cost the germans the possible victory. since hitlers (actualy it was mannsteins) plan to defeat france was succesfull, he viewed himself as a military genius and begunn to interfere more and more in the military operations of the wehrmacht instead of letting the experts doing the job.
for BoB, I think the lack of Intell, that meant anything was more importent then the meddling of the high Commnad, remember that Stumpff disagreed with the order, while Kesselring thought it was a good idea and what they should do

the biggest military achievement was imho the israeli counter attack to the arab surprise attack in the yom kippur war 1973. totaly surprised, outnumberd and more or less alone (US help came after several days and europe was already totaly anti-israeli and pro-arab and did not help the jews in their fight for existence) they stopped nearly 5000 modern russian tanks and hunderts of russian mig and suchois. that was a outstanding preformance of a western army against eastern hordes. the suez kanal crossing of sharons division and the surrounding of a entire arab army at sinai was something like the german "kesselschlachten" in the east front.

the biggest and most impressive anti-terror operation was the israli raid in entebe to free the jew hostages.




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(in reply to bigbaba)
Post #: 28
RE: Re: Midway - 6/30/2009 2:10:40 PM   
sabre1


Posts: 1928
Joined: 8/15/2001
From: CA
Status: offline
Cannae,

Guagamela

Aleisa

Waterloo

Gettysburg

Battle of the River Plate (Love the Graff Spee)

Tobruk

Kursk

Battle of the Bulge

(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 29
RE: Re: Midway - 6/30/2009 7:13:43 PM   
Toby42


Posts: 1414
Joined: 8/10/2003
From: Central Florida
Status: offline
I'm amazed that Rome survived Cannae, and the rest of the Hannibal battles!!

_____________________________

Tony

(in reply to sabre1)
Post #: 30
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