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17 juillet 2014 4 17 /07 /juillet /2014 00:42
































United States Navy Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) forces are the elite Special Operations Forces of the U.S. Navy, employed in unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, Counter-Terrorism, and special reconnaissance operations. 

 Those qualifying to become Navy SEALs are authorized, after completing a specialized program known as SQT (SEAL Qualification Training) and a probationary period,  to wear and display the Special Warfare Badge, also known as the SEAL Trident. This badge (sometimes called “the Budweiser” for its resemblance to the Anheuser-Busch eagle logo) serves as the insignia for the SEALs as a whole and is the largest and most recognizable warfare insignia among U.S. Special Operations Forces. It is usually worn along with the U.S. Navy paratrooper wings, which are awarded after 10 jumps. During the Vietnam, SEAL members wore “tiger stripe” camouflage uniforms, often with civilian blue jeans and “coral” sneakers, for patrol missions. On base, they wore standard uniforms with a black beret during the early years (when they patrolled alongside the Swift and STAB boat units of the “Brown Water Navy”) and tiger-striped “boonie” hats in later years. Currently, they wear variations of the U.S. Marine Corps MARPAT camouflage and RAID BDUs. Only men may apply to become SEALs.

Concurrently, Naval Operations Support Groups were formed to aid UDTs, SEALs, and two other unique units—Boat Support and Beach Jumpers—in administration, planning, research, and development. During the Vietnam war, UDTs performed reconnaissance missions and SEALs carried out numerous offensive operations.


  • Spring 1943: The first group of volunteers selected from the Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees). They were organized into special teams called “Navy Combat Demolition Units” (NCDUs) and were trained at Waimanalo, Hawai'i and Fort Pierce, Florida. The units reconnoitered and cleared beach obstacles for troops going ashore during amphibious landings, and evolved into Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units, often known as frogmen. Some of these frogmen were recruited from breath-holding divers who dived for abalones on the California coast before the war. The NCDUs distinguished themselves during World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.
  • 1947: The Navy organized its first underwater offensive strike units.
  • 1950 June – 1953 June: During the Korean Conflict, these Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) took part in the landing at Inchon as well as other missions including demolition raids on bridges and tunnels accessible from the water. They also conducted limited minesweeping operations in harbors and rivers.
  • 1960’s: Each branch of the armed forces formed its own counterinsurgency force. The Navy used UDT personnel to form units called SEAL teams.
  • 1962 January: SEAL Team ONE was commissioned in the Pacific Fleet and SEAL Team TWO in the Atlantic Fleet. These teams were developed to conduct unconventional warfare, counter-guerrilla warfare and clandestine operations in both blue water and brown water environment.
  • 1963: First Vietnam war-detachment of elements of SEAL Team One in Da Nang, Vietnam to serve under the command of the CIA-COS.
  • 1964: Seals became a component of the military-CINC of Vietnam’s theatre.
  • 1967: The Naval Operations Support Groups were renamed “Naval Special Warfare Groups” (NSWGs) as involvement increased in special operations.
  • 1983: Existing UDTs were renamed as “SEAL teams” or “SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams” and the requirement for hydrographic reconnaissance and underwater demolition became “SEAL missions”.
  • 1987: SEAL team SIX became DEVGRU (DEVelopment GRoUp).
  • 1984-04-16: The Naval Special Warfare Command was commissioned at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. Its mission is to prepare Naval Special Warfare forces to carry out their assigned missions and to develop special operations strategy, doctrine, and tactics.
  • 2002 March; Operation Anaconda in the US invasion of Afghanistan.
  • 2003 March; participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • 2003 to 2010 Irak  and Afghanistan and sometimes arround  ...

 Navy SEAL Teams and Structure

A Navy SEAL Platoon consists of 16 men (2 officers, 14 enlisted men). This can be easily split into 2 squads or four 4-man fire teams for operational purposes. The size of each SEAL “Team” is larger, ranging between eight to ten Boat Teams per SEAL Team.

As of 2006, there are eight confirmed Navy SEAL Teams. The original SEAL Teams in the Vietnam War were separated between West Coast (Group ONE) and East Coast (Group TWO) SEALs. The current SEAL Team deployments are from Teams 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10. The Teams now deploy as Naval Special Warfare Squadrons. Any Team can deploy anywhere in the world. Each of these 8 teams is commanded by a Navy Commander (O-5), and has a number of operational SEAL platoons and a headquarters element.

  • “Little Creek” is a naval base in Virginia Beach, Virginia.





      Operating Area



Coronado, Ca




Little Creek, Va


It was the only SEAL Team with an arctic warfare capability.


Coronado, Ca




Little Creek, Va


The only SEAL Team with a viable standing language
capability, Spanish.


Coronado, Ca




Damneck, Va



Decommissioned - DEVGRU


Coronado, Ca



A newly commissioned SEAL Team.


Little Creek, Va




Little Creek, Va



A newly commissioned SEAL Team.











Training and Requirements

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training is conducted at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado (San Diego, CA) and lasts 26 weeks. Assignment to BUD/S is conditional on passing the PST, which requires the following minimums:
  • 500-yard swim using breast or side stroke in under 12:30
  • At least 42 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • At least 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • At least 6 pull-ups (no time limit)
  • Run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in under 11:30
  • Members’ vision must be 20/200 uncorrected or correctable to 20/20. SEAL candidates may qualify for PRK or LASIK surgery to correct their vision
  • Asvab Requirements: GS+MC+EI=165 or VE+MK+MC+CS=220
  • Age Requirements: 28 years or less (waivers for 29-30)

Again, the above are the minimum requirements necessary to qualify for BUD/S. Prospective trainees are expected to far exceed these minimums. Competitive scores are as follows:

  • 500-yard swim using breast or combat side stroke in less than 10:00
  • 100 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 100 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • 20 pull-ups (no time limit)
  • Run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in under 9:30

Upon arrival at Naval Special Warfare Command, check-ins for BUD/S are immediately placed into a pre-indoc phase of training known as “PTRR”, or Physical Training Rest and Recuperation. PTRR is also where all of the “roll-backs” are placed while waiting to be put into a class. Once additional medical screening is given, and after enough BUD/S candidates arrive for the same class, organized physical training begins.

BUD/S consists of an" Indoctrination Course”, known as INDOC, followed by three phases, covering physical conditioning (eight weeks), diving (eight weeks), and land warfare (nine weeks) respectively. Officer and enlisted personnel go through the same training program, and it is designed to develop and test their stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team.

First Phase (Basic Conditioning) - 8 weeks
- First Phase Trains, develops, and assesses SEAL candidates in physical conditioning, water competency, teamwork, and mental tenacity. This phase is eight weeks long. Physical conditioning with running, swimming, and calisthenics grows harder and harder as the weeks progress. You will participate in weekly four mile timed runs in boots, timed obstacle courses, swim distances up to two miles wearing fins in the ocean, and learn small boat seamanship.

The first three weeks of First Phase will prepare you for the fourth week, better known as "Hell Week." During this week, you will participate in five and one-half days of continuous training, with a maximum of four hours sleep total. This week is designed as the ultimate test of one's physical and mental motivation while in First Phase. Hell Week proves to those who make it that the human body can do ten times the amount of work the average man thinks possible. During Hell Week, you will learn the value of cool headedness, perseverance, and above all, TEAMWORK. The remaining four weeks are devoted to teaching various methods of conducting hydrographic surveys and how to create a hydrographic chart.

BUD/S is known for Hell Week. During this period, from Sunday evening until Friday afternoon, trainees get a total of approximately four hours of sleep, (exactly how much depends upon the schedule set by the instructors, and how closely the trainees can be kept to that schedule) while subjected to intense physical stress. Trainees are almost always wet and sandy and develop what is known as the “Hell Week shuffle”, which is a way of walking that keeps salt-stained clothing away from chafed skin. The last day of Hell Week is known as “So Sorry Day”, during which the BUD/S students are made to crawl and slither their way through scum-covered water in the “demo pits” as automatic weapons fire blank rounds over their heads and artillery simulators explode around them.

Second Phase (Diving) - 8 weeks
- Diving Phase Trains, develops, and qualifies SEAL candidates as competent basic combat swimmers. This phase is eight weeks long. During this period, physical training continues and becomes even more intensive. Second Phase concentrates on combat SCUBA. You will learn two types of SCUBA: open circuit (compressed air) and closed circuit (100% oxygen). Emphasis is placed on long distance underwater dives with the goal of training students to become basic combat divers, using swimming and diving techniques as a means of transportation from their launch point to their combat objective. This is a skill that separates SEALs from all other Special Operations forces.

Third Phase (Land Warfare) - 9 weeks
- Third Phase trains, develops, and qualifies SEAL candidates in basic weapons, demolition, and small unit tactics. This phase of training is nine weeks in length. Physical training continues to become more strenuous as the run distance increases and the minimum passing times are lowered for the runs, swims, and obstacle course. Third Phase concentrates on teaching land navigation, small-unit tactics, patrolling techniques, rappelling, marksmanship, and military explosives. The final three and a half weeks of Third Phase are spent on San Clemente Island, where students apply all the techniques they have acquired during training.

SEAL training and duty is voluntary. Many BUD/S students find that they do not have the desire to continue to endure the physical and mental strain of training, and subsequently Drop On Request, or DOR, from the course. The tradition of DOR consists of dropping one's helmet liner next to a pole with a brass ship’s bell attached to it, and ringing the bell three times. Classes typically lose around 70–80% of their trainees — either due to DORs or injuries sustained during training. The Navy will not release exact numbers, either percentages or raw figures, of the attrition rate for BUD/S. Most trainees are eliminated prior to completion of Hell Week and far fewer “brown shirts” (those who have made it through Hell Week wear brown t-shirts instead of white) quit the BUD/S program.

There is no way to predict what percentage of trainees will DOR during BUD/S. SEAL instructors say that in every class, approximately 10 percent of the students simply do not have the physical ability to complete the training. Another 10–15 percent will definitely make it through unless they sustain a serious physical injury. The other 75–80 percent is “up for grabs” depending on their motivation. There has been at least one BUD/S class where no one has completed the program.

A trainee who DOR’s from First Phase before the completion of Hell Week must start from the beginning of INDOC if they subsequently reapply to the BUD/S program and are accepted. They must complete Hell Week again. Trainees who rolled back after completing Hell Week due to injury or another factor are rolled into whatever day of training a board of instructors and other individuals deem necessary. Some are back to day 1–1 of 1st Phase, while others may be rolled into day 5–1. Any BUD/S trainee who drops on request after Hell Week goes through the same out processing as a trainee who quits before or during Hell Week. If they reapply to BUD/S, they must also complete Hell Week again.

There are many SEALs who have attempted BUD/S two or even perhaps three times before successfully completing training. There is only one person who has successfully completed Hell Week three times. He completed training after his third application to BUD/S.

After BUD/S, students must then attend the Navy’s Strategic Air Operations (SAO) school in the desert outside of San Diego. Until 2003, the Army trained Navy Special Warfare teams to freefall. The new school allows more SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen (SWCC) to become free-fall and HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) qualified than ever before. Upon completion of the three-week SAO school, they receive their Naval Special Warfare Classification (NEC) code. Finally, the last requirement before going to a team requires students to go through SEAL Qualification Training, or SQT, which is a 15-week course. This course is also conducted in and around the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. After completion of SQT training and a probationary period, students are then considered SEALs and are awarded the SEAL pin, or Trident. Upon assignment to a team, the new SEALs undergo more advanced training during the 18 month work-up to their first 6 month deployment and are not considered experienced until having completed at least three deployments.





































HALO jump


HALO/HAHO are acronyms that describe methods of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. HALO (High Altitude-Low Opening)/ (High Altitude Low Oxygen) and HAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) are also known as Military Free Fall (MFF).


In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time, while in the HAHO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a high altitude just a few seconds after jumping from the aircraft. HALO techniques date back to 1960 when the U.S. Air Force was conducting experiments that followed earlier work by Colonel John Stapp in the late 1940s through early 1950s on survivability factors for high-flying pilots needing to eject at high altitudes. In recent years, the HALO technique has been practiced by civilians as a form of skydiving. HALO is used for delivering equipment, supplies, or personnel, while HAHO is generally used only for personnel.


In typical HALO/HAHO insertions, the troops are dispatched from altitudes between 25,000 feet (7,600 m) and 35,000 feet (11,000 m).


The origins of the HALO technique date back to 1960 when the U.S. Air Force was conducting experiments that followed earlier work by Colonel John Stapp in the late 1940s through early 1950s on survivability factors for high-flying pilots needing to eject at high altitudes. Stapp, a research biophysicist and medical doctor, used himself as a human guinea pig in rocket sled tests to study the effects of very high g-forces. Stapp also solved many of the issues involved in high altitude flight in his earliest work for the Air Force, and subjected himself to exposure to altitudes of 45,000 feet (14,000 m). Subsequently, he helped develop pressure suits and ejection seats, which have been used in jets ever since. As part of the experiments, on August 16, 1960, Colonel Joseph Kittinger performed the first high altitude jump at an altitude of 19.5 miles (31.4 km) above the Earth's surface.


However, the technique was used for combat for the first time during the Vietnam War in Laos by members of MACV-SOG. SEAL Team SIX of the United States Navy expanded the HALO technique to include delivery of boats and other large items in conjunction with parachutists.

The technique is used to airdrop supplies, equipment, or personnel at high altitudes when aircraft can fly above surface-to-air missile (SAM) engagement levels through enemy skies without posing a threat to the transport or load.


For military cargo airdrops, the rigged load is pulled from the aircraft by a stabilizing parachute. The load then proceeds to free-fall to a low altitude where a cargo parachute opens to allow a low-velocity landing. Military personnel will later move to the landing point in order to secure the equipment or to unpack the supplies.

In a typical HALO exercise, the parachutist will jump from the aircraft, free-fall for a period of time at terminal velocity, and open his parachute at a low altitude. The combination of high downward speed, minimal metal and forward air-speed serves to defeat radar, enabling a stealthy insertion.



The HAHO technique is used to airdrop personnel at high altitudes when aircraft are unable to fly above enemy skies without posing a threat to the jumpers. In addition, HAHO parachute jumps are employed in the covert insertion of military (generally special forces) personnel into enemy territory, in circumstances where the covert nature of an operation may be compromised by the loud noise of parachutes opening at low altitude.

In a typical HAHO exercise, the jumper will jump from the aircraft and deploy the parachute at a high altitude, 10–15 seconds after the jump (typically at 27,000 feet (8,200 m) or so). The jumper will use a compass or GPS device for guidance while flying for 30 or more miles.


The jumper must use way points and terrain features to navigate to his desired landing zone, and correct his or her course to account for changes in wind speed and direction. If deploying as a team, the team will form up in a stack while airborne with their parachutes. Usually, the jumper in the lowest position will set the travel course and act as a guide for the other team members.





























SEA case



M4A1 carbine 


M4 carbine with older style M203 40mm grenade launcher.


M4A1 carbine with RIS-mounted forward handgrip
and the AN-PVS4 night vision sight

Colt M4 and M4A1 carbine 
Assault rifle (USA)

The Colt company developed various carbine versions of the basic AR-15 / M16 rifle since 1970s. These carbines were intended for all markets - military, law enforcement, civilian. US Military (and some other armies, most notably - Israeli Self-Defense Forces) had adopted the Colt CAR-15 Commando and XM-177 carbines during the 1970s and 1980s. But early in 1990s the old idea of replacing the pistols in the hands of the troops with some more effective, shoulder fired weapon, rise again in the heads of the US Military. In fact, this idea can be dated back to the US M1 Carbine of 1941, but good ideas never die.

So, in the 1994, US Army adopted the Colt Model 720 selective-fire carbine (basically, a shortened M16A2 rifle), as the US M4 Carbine. This weapon was intended to replace in service some M9 pistols, as well as some aged M3A1 submachine guns and some M16A2 rifles.

New weapon was much more handy and comfortable to carry, than the long M16A2 rifle, so the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) put its eye on the M4 as a possible universal weapon for all Special Operations community. For this purpose M4 was latter modified with the M16A3-style flat-top receiver with integral Picatinny-type accessory rail instead of the M16A2/M4-type integral carrying handle. The other change in the M4A1, when compared to M4, is that its trigger unit is modified to fire full-auto instead of the three shots bursts.

 Specially for the SOCOM M4A1s US Naval Surface Warfare Center developed a SOPMOD M4 kit, that consisted of the M4A1 carbine equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The kit also includes a variety of the add-on goodies, such as various sights (ACOG 4X telescopic, ACOG Reflex red-dot, detachable back-up open sights), laser pointers (visible and infra-red), detachable sound suppressor (silencer), modified M203 40mm grenade launcher (with shortened barrel and improved sights). The kit also included a detachable front grip and tactical light.

From the first sight, the M4A1 SOPMOD is an ideal Special Operations weapon - handy, flexible, with good firepower. But the latest experience in the Afghanistan showed that the M4 has some flaws. First of all, the shorter barrel commands the lower bullet velocities, and this significantly decreased the effective range of the 5.56mm bullet. Second, the M4 barrel and the forend rapidly overheats. Third, the shortened barrel resulted in the shortened gas system, which works under greater pressures, than in M16A2 rifle. This increases the rate of fire and produces more stress on the moving parts, decreasing the reliability. While adequate as a Personal Defense Weapon for the non-infantry troops (vehicle crews, clerks, staff officers etc), M4A1 is, by some accounts, less than ideal for the Special Operations troops, at least in its present state. The idea of the complete re-arming of the US Army with the M4 as a money-saving measure, also is somewhat dubious.

: 5.56mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 838 mm (stock extended); 757 mm (stock fully collapsed)
Barrel length: 370 mm
Weight: 2.52 kg without magazine; 3.0 kg with magazine loaded with 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 700 - 950 rounds per minute
Maximum effective range: 360 m























The SEAL Delivery Vehicle or (SDV) is a manned submersible and a type of Swimmer Delivery Vehicle used to deliver United States Navy SEALs and their equipment for special operations missions.

SDVs carry a pilot, co-pilot, and combat swimmer team and their equipment to and from maritime mission objectives on land or at sea. The pilot and co-pilot are often a part of the fighting team. The SDV has compressed air to extend the range of a swimmer's own air tank or retreater


The SDV is used primarily for covert or clandestine missions to denied access areas (either held by hostile forces or where military activity would draw notice and objection).

It should not be confused with the larger, dry submersible called the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS). The SDV is flooded, and the swimmers ride exposed to the water, breathing from the vehicle's compressed air supply or using their own SCUBA gear. (The ASDS is dry inside, with a full life support and air conditioning system.)

The SDV is lithium-ion battery powered and equipped with propulsion, navigation, communication, and life-support equipment. The Mk 8 Mod 1 SDV can deliver several fully equipped SEALs to the mission area, be "parked" or loiter in the area, retrieve the SEALs, and return home.

The Mark 8 Mod 1 SDV is currently the only SDV employed by US military. Other operational vehicles included the now retired MK 6, MK 7, and the Mk 11. The Special Boat Service of the British Royal Marines operates three Mk8 Mod 1 vehicles . SDVs are generally launched from a Dry Deck Shelter on the back of a submarine, or from amphibious carriers (surface craft) equipped to launch and recover the SDV. It can also be airdropped (unmanned) into an operational area from a C-130 Hercules.


The SDV program dates back to World War II, when various sleds and vehicles developed for use by the Underwater Demolition Teams. After the war development continued in a garage-shop fashion by various UDT units, and included various "Marks" as the MK V, VII, VII, and XII. Intermediate numbers were assigned to some vehicles that never made it off the shop floor. All were of flooded design.


The wet vehicle SDV program (officially named the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, sometimes erroneously designated as the SEAL Delivery Vehicle after the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Teams were renamed SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams) currently centers on the MK VIII MOD 1, was first established in 1975 for use among UDT/SEAL teams. The early MK8 MOD 0 SDVs had a PRC104 UHF ultra high frequency radio for use underway. The newer model MK8 MOD1 has a dual sliding canopy and quick release hatch.
















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17 juillet 2014 4 17 /07 /juillet /2014 00:40

220px-usa parachutist


The 82nd Airborne during World War II

The double "A" on the shoulder patch refers to the nickname "All American Division" adopted by the organization in France during World War I.

On 25 March 1942,the 82nd Infantry Division was reactivated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley (left). On August 15, 1942, the Division took wings as The 82nd Airborne - becoming the U.S. Army's first airborne division - now commanded by Major General Matthew B.Ridgway .

At the same time, 82nd personnel also were used in the formation of a second airborne unit - the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division.

In October, the 82nd was dispatched to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to pursue its new airborne training. On October 14, the 82nd absorbed the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which had formed on May 1 at Fort Benning, Georgia. By the time that they went overseas, the 82nd would consist of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment and the 504th and 505th Parachute Infantry Regiments.

At Fort Bragg, the All Americans trained vigorously. These pioneering paratroopers stood up, hooked up and leaped from C-47 transport planes while the gliderborne troops were at work in the 15-man WACO-CG4A gliders - towed by the transport planes.

In the spring of 1943, the 82nd All Americans became the first airborne division sent overseas. They left via troop ships from New England and landed in Casablanca, North Africa on May 10, 1943. From there, they moved by rail to Oujda and then by truck to Kairouan, Tunisia. That would be their departure point for the Division's first combat drop - the invasion of Sicily.


Sicily - Operation Husky

Colonel James Gavin's 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) and the 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR parachuted to take the high ground near Ponte Olivo airfield northeast of Gela, Sicily on July 9,1943. Despite the wide scattering of the assault, the objectives were seized and the units linked up with the 1st Infantry Division the next day.

On July 11, 1943, the remaining Battalions of the 504th PIR were dropped in the vicinity of Gela with heavy losses from both the German and Allied (friendly fire) antiaircraft fire. Despite the heavy losses the division was moved up to the front by motor and reinforced by the 39th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division on July 12, 1943. The crossings of Fiume delle Canno were secured on July 18, 1943 and the division pushed along the coastal highway, seizing the Marsala-Trapani area of Sicily's western coast by July 23rd.

Salerno - The Oil Drum Drop

The Division's second combat operation was a night parachute drop onto the Salerno beachhead on September 13, 1943 in support of General Mark Clark's 5th Army which was in danger of being pushed back into the sea.

The 504th PIR was parachuted south of the Sele River near Salerno on September 13, 1943. In order to guide the C-47 pilots to the shrinking dropzone, oil drums filled with gasoline soaked sand were ignited every 50 yards when signaled. 1300 troopers landed that night infusing a new sense of confidence to the beleaguered soldiers of the 5th Army. The 505th PIR was dropped the following night near the same dropzone to reinforce the air assault. On September 15th the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) was brought into the beachhead amphibiously to join the rest of the division.

Once the beachhead was secured, the 504th PIR & the 376th PFAB began an attack to recover Altavilla on September 16, 1943 and the division fought towards Naples which it reached on October 1, 1943 and moved in to the next day for security duty.

"Leg Infantry"

After Naples, the 504th PIR & the 376th PFAB were detached from the 82nd Airborne temporarily and fought as "leg infantry" through the hills of southern Italy as part of the 36th Infantry Division. On October 29th they capture Gallo. They then battled in the Winter Line commencing with attacks up Hill 687 on December 15th, 1943.

On 9 December 1943 Colonel Gavin was promoted to Brigadier General and assumed the duties of the Assistant Division Commander of the 82nd Airborne while Lt Col Herbert Batchellor assumed command of the 505th. During the early months of 1944, units of the Division were moved to England as the allies were preparing for the assault on Western Europe. The 505th PIR again changed commanders on 22 March 1944 when Lt Col William Ekman assumed command. He would lead the 505th through the remainder of the war.

Anzio - Operation Shingle

On January 22nd &23rd 1944, the 504th PIR, landed on the beach at Anzio and participated in heavy combat along the Mussolini Canal. It was their fierce fighting during this defensive engagement that earned the 504th PIR the nickname "Devils in Baggy Pants." The nickname was taken from an entry made in a German officer's diary.

D-Day - Operation Neptune

While the 504th was detached, the remainder of the 82nd was pulled out of Italy in December 1943 and moved to the United Kingdom to prepare for the liberation of Europe. With two combat jumps under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war, Operation Neptune -the airborne invasion of Normandy. The operation was part of Operation OVERLORD, the amphibious assault on the northern coast of Nazi-occupied France.

In preparation for the operation, the division was reorganized. Two new parachute infantry regiments, the 507th and the 508th, joined the division. However, due to its depleted state following the fighting in Italy, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment did not take part in the invasion.

On June 5-6, 1944, the paratroopers of the 82nd's three parachute infantry regiments and reinforced glider infantry regiment boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders and, began the largest airborne assault in history. They were among the first soldiers to fight in Normandy, France.

The division dropped behind Utah Beach, Normandy, France between Ste Mere-Eglise and Carentan on June 6th, 1944. They were reinforced by the 325th GIR the next day. The division remained under strong German pressure along the Merderit River. Eventually, the 325th GIR crossed the river to secure a bridgehead at La Fiere on June 9th. It was during this action that Pfc Charles N. DeGlopper single-handedly defended his platoon's position and subsequently was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

The next day the 505th PIR captured Montebourg Station and on June 12th the 508th PIR crossed the Douve at Beuzeville-la-Bastille and reached Baupt. They established a bridgehead at Pont l'Abbe on June 19th. The division then attacked down the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula and captured Hill 131 on July 3rd. The following day the 82nd seized Hill 95 overlooking La Haye-du-Puits.

By the time the All-American Division was pulled back to England on July 13, 1944, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered 5,245 paratroopers killed, wounded or missing. The Division's post battle report read, "...33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."

Following the Normandy invasion, the 82nd became part of the newly organized XVIII Airborne Corps which consisted of the U.S. 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions. General Ridgway was promoted and assumed command of the XVIII Airborne Corps. Meanwhile, Assistant Division Commander, General James Gavin (picture left) was also promoted and assumed command of the 82nd Airborne.


Operation Market Garden

In September, the 82nd began planning for Operation Market Garden in Holland. The operation called for three-plus airborne divisions to seize and hold key bridges and roads deep behind German lines. The 504th now back at full strength rejoined the 82nd, while the 507th went to the 17th Airborne Division. ( Below right: a scene from the movie "A Bridge Too Far" )

On September 17, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted its fourth combat jump of World War II into Holland. Fighting off ferocious German counterattacks, the 82nd captured the Maas Bridge at Grave, the Maas-Waal Canal Bridge at Heumen and the Nijmegen-Groesbeek Ridge. The next day attempts to take Nijmegen Highway Bridge failed.

On 20 September the 504th carried out an heroic assault crossing the Waal. With artillery support the first wave of the 504th assaulted, in twenty-six assault boats, under intense fire, taking 200 casualties in the process. Finally on D+4 the 504th finally secured their hold on the bridge, fighting off another German counterattack just before noon.

It was in this skirmish that Pvt. John Towle won the Medal of Honor. Its success, however, was short-lived because of the defeat of other Allied units at Arnhem. The gateway to Germany would not open in September 1944, and the 82nd was ordered back to France.


Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
Suddenly, on December 16, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which caught the Allies completely by surprise. The 82nd moved into action on December 17th in reponse to the German's Ardennes Counteroffensive and blunted General Von Runstedt's (picture left) northern penetration in the American lines. On December 20th the 82nd attacked in the Vielsalm-St. Vith region and the 504th PIR took Monceau. This fiece attack forced the German units back across the Ambleve River the next day.


However, further German assaults along the Salm hit the 505th PIR in the Trois Ponts area on December 22nd and by December 24th the division lost Manhay. On December 25th, 1944 the division withdrew from the Vielsalm salient then attacked northeast of Bra on December 27th reaching Salm by January 4th, 1945.

On January 7th the 508th PIR Red Devil's launched an attack with the 504th in the vicinity of Thier-du-Mont where it suffered heavy casualties. The 508th was then withdrawn from the line and placed in reserve until January 21st when it replaced elements of the 2d Infantry Division.

On January 29, 1945 First Sergeant Leonard Funk, Jr. of Company C, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment won the Congressional Medal of Honor for action at Holzheim, Belgium. After leading his unit and capturing 80 Germans.

On February 7th, 1945 the division attacked Bergstein, a town on the Roer River. The 82nd crossed the Roer River on February 17th. During April, 1945 the division performed security duty in Cologne until they attacked in the Bleckede area and pushed toward the Elbe River. As the 504th PIR drove toward Forst Carrenzien, the German 21st Army surrendered to the division on May 2, 1945.


Following the surrender of Germany, the 82nd was ordered to Berlin for occupation duty. In Berlin General George Patton was so impressed with the 82nd's honor guard he said, "In all my years in the Army and all the honor guards I have ever seen, the 82nd's honor guard is undoubtedly the best." Hence the "All-Americans" became known as "America's Guard of Honor."

The 82nd returned to the United States January 3, 1946. Instead of being demobilized, the 82nd made its permanent home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was designated a regular Army division on November 15, 1948.





James Maurice "Jumpin' Jim" Gavin
(born as James Nally Ryan- March 22, 1907-February 23, 1990) rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the United States Army. He was also referred to as "The Jumping General", because of his practice of taking part in combat drops with the paratroopers he commanded.

Gavin was the youngest Major General commanding a division during World War Two.During combat, he was known for his habit of carrying an M1 Garand rifle, as opposed to the pistols traditionally carried by officers.

His men, who respected him a great deal, also called him "Slim Jim" due to his athletic figure. Gavin fought against segregation in the U.S. Army, which gained him some notoriety.

Amongst his decorations, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He was also awarded the British Distinguished Service Order.





















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A famous incident involved paratrooper John Steele of the 505th PIR, whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church, and could only observe the fighting going on below. He hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division when US troops of the 3rd Battalion, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village capturing thirty Germans and killing another eleven.



The largest combined military operation in history,"D-Day", was to be spearheaded by the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions. Visibility was hampered by poor weather conditions as the C-47's crossed the English Channel during the first hours of the 6th of June 1944.

When the troop carriers finally did made landfall on the Cherbourg Peninsula they came under heavy German flak scattering many of the troop carrier flights. It was 0300 hours on 6 June 1944, when the 505th were given the green light to jump.

Some Pathfinders were able to signal their dropzones. However, many of the troop carriers missed their dropzones and the All-Americansof the 505th began landing across a large swath of the countryside around Normandy.

Nevertheless, the 505th PIR was one of the first airborne units to hit the ground and despite the subsequent confusion surrounding the landing, were able to use it to their advantage mustering enough troops under the command of the 2nd Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort to liberate the first town in France, - St. Mere-Eglise. The paratroopers jumped prior to the actual start of the invasion "H-Hour". Because of the tradition of being the first into the fight, the 505th Regimental motto is "H-MINUS".

For their performance in the invasions the 505th was awarded the Presidential unit citation, the unit equivalent of the Medal of Honor awarded to individual soldiers. In the words of author Clay Blair, the paratroopers emerged from Normandy with the reputation of being a pack of jackals; the toughest, most resourceful and bloodthirsty in Europe







In the night of 5 – 6 June 1944
, 8 jumpers from the 307th Airborne Medical Company parachuted into France with Division Headquarters! At 1852 hrs, the evening of 6 June, gliders towed by C-47s took off for Normandy carrying medical personnel pertaining to the 307th under command of Major W. H. Houston.

A total of 19 British Horsa and 1 American Waco CG4A gliders took off from England (part of Force “B”), flying over the Channel, and encountering only moderate enemy flak over the Cotentin peninsula. The main body of the Company landed together in swampy, half-flooded fields crisscrossed by small canals and ditches. By midnight a small Clearing Station was set up and casualties started coming in.

The next day, sad news was received that the 307th Airborne Medical Company’s Commander, Major William H. Houston, had been killed (KIA 6 Jun 44 at 2130 hrs)! He was replaced the same day by Captain Jerry J. Belden, XO. Three hours after landing, the Company began to treat casualties from the glider crashes as well as other airborne stragglers.

After changing locations three times, because of enemy interference, they started operating on a large scale as from 9 June, only one quarter mile south of Ste-Mere-Eglise … the only available vehicles were ¼ trucks (i.e. jeeps) and trailers brought along in the gliders.

On 10 June, the seaborne elements (Force “C”) joined the Company and made the assembly complete. About a half mile away, the 315th Medical Battalion (90th Infantry Division) suffered a direct bomb hit that interrupted its normal operation, and for the next 36 hours, the 307th took over their casualties as well.

Throughout combat operations until 4 or 5 July 1944, the Clearing Station itself was never further than 3 miles from the frontlines! The Station was often subjected to enemy artillery shelling, air bombardment, and on 11 June was even deliberately strafed by German fighters, notwithstanding the visible Geneva Red Cross marker.

By 22 June, medics had cleared over 3,000 casualties, and by 5 July, the number was over 4,200.

The Company was later set up across the Douve River (sixth location), providing medical care to the Division holding the bridgehead for more than 10 days. Later they were called upon to support VIII Corps during its frontal attack, suffering casualties from wounds and exhaustion in the process. Being still out at the Infantry Battalions, the 307th finally received some aid from VIII Corps who sent 60 aidmen and 5 ambulances to help the unit operate.

Operations were concluded on 11 July 1944. After spending a night on the beach in pup tents, the unit embarked from Utah Beach on 13 July, reaching Southampton, England, and proceeding by train, returned to its Leicester base the same day. Waiting for the 307th, was the biggest group of replacements that had so far joined the Company!









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Lt., 82nd Airborne 1943
01 - M1 helmet with camouflage net
02 - M1942 jacket
03 - M1942 trousers
04 - M1934 wool shirt
05 - Corcoran boots
06 - M1936 main belt with M1916 holster for the Colt M1911 pistol
07 - M1936 webbing
08 - M1A1 carbine
09 - M2A1 gas mask
10 - M1910 folding shovel
11 - M1942 canteen
12 - M1910 bag
13 - dog tags
14 - M1918 Mk I knife
15 - M1936 backpack



Perhaps the most
identifiable image among the American forces in Europe is the uniform and equipment of the Airborne soldier. The following is a piece by piece breakdown of the typical standard issue equipment and uniform given to American paratroopers during the Normandy Campaign. This is, however, by no means the only configuration of equipment issued, as many variations and improvised devices were used based on functionality and practicality. Total weight of all jump equipment exceeded 110 pounds.

M1C Paratrooper Helmet - The M1 steel helmet replaced the M1917A1 helmet in June of 1941. The shell is an OD#7 green color with a rough textured finish. Shade variations exist on original helmets from a light pea-green to almost black. WWII early war production shells can be identified by the location of the seam on the rim. The method of chin strap attachment is via a tack stitch to the loops of the shell. The steel shell was worn over the liner. There were multiple types and makes of liners, with many variations; too many to list here. The most common type was the compressed canvas resin impregnated liner with an HBT suspension. Earlier types were paper-fiber with rayon suspensions.

M1942 Paratrooper Jacket/Pants (Reinforced) - During early airborne operations in North Africa and Italy, the M1942 uniform was found to be lacking in several areas, most notably strength. The fabric is relatively thin  and some seams should have had extra material added. The knees and elbows wore out easily, the pockets sometimes blew out due to the opening shock of parachutes and the single stitch in the crotch seam led to many tears in the "rear"
      Sometime prior to Normandy, divisional riggers were directed to fix these problems. The riggers of the 82nd and 101st each came up with a similar though not quite identical fix. Heavy olive drab canvas was used to make elbow and knee patches, and reinforce the edges of the cargo pockets. Leg ties were added to the trousers to help compress the bulging hip pockets. Small variations exist in the way they are stitched between the 82nd and 101st, but they are essentially the same.

Jump Boots - Army jump boot design started by combining features from existing use by others, including German parachutists, units who started earlier than the U.S. and had already participated in combat in Europe, and U.S. Forest Service "smoke jumpers". The Marine Corps also had parachute units and experiments had shown the need for special footwear after broken bones were suffered.In August of 1942 the "Boots, Jumper, Parachute" was standardized, a tall laced boot with 11 to 13 pairs of lacing eyes depending on the foot size. It was a clean design that dropped straps and other reinforcements of earlier designs and had many points strengthened to take the punishing wear of jumping. The heel and sole were rubber with the heel leading edge slanted to avoid a snag point for lines.
The boots were very popular with the Airborne units, providing a strong, military look that was distinctively different from boots worn by other units. The Airborne troops tucked their trousers into their boot tops to show the maximum boot, more for appearance than for any other reason. The boots did as much for paratrooper morale as they did for their feet. These boots remained in service until the paratrooper uniforms and boots were merged with other Infantry uniforms in late 1944. 

M1936 Suspenders - The M1936 field suspenders are OD# 3 (khaki) in color with a swiveling metal D-ring on each of the shoulders. Clips from the M1936 canvas field bag (or Musette bag) could be clipped to the D-rings and suspended on the back. GP bags could also be hung in the same manner. Later models of the M1936 suspenders included re-enforced shoulder straps (the D-rings dug into the user�s shoulders and collar bone).

M1936 Pistol Belt - This was a web belt issued to anyone who did not carry an M1 Garand or Springfield 1903 A3 rifle; including Machine Gun crews, those carrying the M1 Carbine or Sub Machine Gun and medics. It was usually worn with the pistol holster attached; and featured a female snap-button on the front left hand side for snapping the M1912, M1918, or M1923 magazine pouch or the Carbine magazine pocket onto it.
The belt was often worn in reverse, with the �US� appearing upside down in photos; this was done for a few reasons: one was to move the magazine pocket snap over to the right hand side. Another was that the eyelets would rip out after considerable use; so flipping the belt over allowed the user to utilize the other eyelets to hang gear from. Often gear was modified with loops to slide over the belt; rather than hang from it.

M1911 A1 .45 Caliber Pistol and M1916 holster -  Known as "The Equalizer" or simply "The forty-five," this weapon was a recoil-operated, magazine-fed automatic developed in 1911 by John Moses Browning for Colt. The overall length of the pistol was 8.593 inches. Weight of the pistol with magazine was 2.437 pounds. The M1911 featured wooden "diamond" etched stocks, while the M1911A1 had all-plastic, brown checkered stocks. The M1911A1 was an improved version of M1911 released in the 20's. It is distinguishable by the clearance cut in the frame for the trigger finger and the raised and knurled mainspring housing on the rear lower of the grip. Both served in WWII.
The approximate weight of the loaded magazine with 7 rounds of the standard ball ammo was 0.481 pounds. An 11 round "trench" magazine also existed and was fielded in very small numbers. At 25 yards, the velocity of the round was 788 feet per second with a striking energy of 317 foot-pounds. At 25 yards, the round would penetrate 6 inches of white pine. It was quite a man stopper and vastly out powered the 9mm Luger Parabellum and Walther P-38 pistols in use by the Germans. Paratroopers of all ranks could and would carry a sidearm whenever possible. It was not relegated to officers only.

M1942 First Aid Pouch w/ Carlisle Bandage -  This small web pouch carried the Carlisle bandage and had a single lift-the-dot snap. It is very similar to the M1924, being only slightly larger. The M1910 First Aid packet pouch was made up until 1942 and was a WWI carry-over; with 2 button closures on the flap. A British version of the pouch was also made; using British webbing and a horribly stiff snap-button.
Bandages were in a sardine can-like brass box or post 1941 a tin box was used. They were painted gloss orange/red if they contained the sulfanilamide powder but were not labeled as such; or OD green if the label was present. There was also a plastic variant made to save on tin use. Each box contained a single field dressing and a packet of sulfanilamide powder which was used to prevent infection. An additional Carlisle bandage was sometimes carried in a shirt or coat pocket; but other than that men were dependent on the combat medics for treatment should they be wounded. The dressing got its name from the place of its development: Medical Dept. Equipment Laboratory at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Hence; the Carlisle bandage.

M3 Fighting Knife w/ M8 Scabbard -  The M3 trench knife or fighting knife was a sturdy edged weapon issued to many troops in WWII including the airborne and the Army Rangers specifically. It was introduced in 1943 and made by nine different firms; some of the most common were Case, Camillus, Imperial, PAL, and Utica.The earlier M3 featured the M6 leather scabbard and it was quickly replaced and issued with the plastic M8. The M8 was further modified into the M8A1 with the addition of the standard M1910 metal belt hook

M1A1 Carbine w/ Folding Stock - Introduced into service in May of 1942, the M1A1 carbine was a modification of the M1 carbine. The primary modification was the use of a folding metal stock which reduced the length of the weapon by ten inches. Although the stock added a quarter of a pound to the weight of the carbine, the small size was vital for paratroopers and other soldiers who needed a more compact weapon. Approximately 150,000 M1A1 carbines were built during World War II by Inland Manufacturing Division (GMC). Maximum effective range was listed as 300 yards, but few men would trust the carbine beyond 100 yards, especially in cold climates where added layers of clothing worn by the enemy would further decrease the power of the weapon. Depending on which veteran you talk to; you'll find the Carbine to be either well loved or extremely disliked.

M19 Canteen w/ Cover - The canteen set consists of the carrier, the canteen, and the cup. Carriers can be OD#3 (khaki) or OD#7 (green) in color; the earlier models up to late 1944 being OD#3 (khaki). The bottle screw caps can be plastic (late war) or aluminum (early-pre war). The cups are either rolled edge (early) or flared edge (late) and are stainless steel. Canteens are carried on the cartridge or pistol belt using the M1910 wire hanger and corresponding eyelets, usually on the rear most set to the left or right of center. Flared rim cups do not transfer heat to the lips as does the rolled rim type.

Gas Detection Armband -  In the Normandy invasion, Allied troops were equipped with chemical warfare equipment, as it was still unknown whether Hitler would employ poison gas on the battlefield. All Allied Invasion clothing was saturated with CC-2, an oily, smelly gas repellent, and special assault gas masks were issued in water resistant black rubberized bags. Arm brassards, made of a chemically impregnated light brown paper (resembling waxed paper), were to be worn on the shoulder. After sliding the armband up the sleeve, a small loop was threaded through the eppaulette to secure it in place. These brassards would turn red if exposed to mustard gas. Photographic evidence indicates the 502 PIR probably enforced the rule to wear these, whereas they were only spottily worn in the 501 and 506th. 101st Headquarters and glider units also seemed to wear them.

M1943 Musette Bag -  Called simply the "Musette bag" this pouch clipped to the d-rings of the M1936 Suspenders and was worn on the back. It could also be carried as a shoulder bag (sometimes by medics) when used with a GP Strap. The late-war model with the tab w/ 2 eyelets for attaching an entrenching tool. The earlier models were entirely OD#3 khaki and dated between 1941 and 1944. These were most often used by paratroopers.

M1942 Entrenching Tool - Developed in 1943, this shovel was much improved and more robust. It can be used as a shovel or folded and locked to become a mattock or pick.

Paratrooper Gloves - An issued item of varied importance, the horse hide gloves had a rough exterior and a soft inside finish for comfort. The gloves provided not only protection from the elements but also were durable and tough enough to provide the hands with a layer of protection against heated gun barrels and cuts.

MKIIIA1 Fragmentation Grenade -  The primary hand grenade of the 101st was the grenade, hand, Mk-IIIA1. About the size of a large lemon, the grenade was made of cast iron.The outside surface was deeply serrated, both horizontally and vertically, to assist in the dispersal of uniform-sized fragments on explosion. Later tests conducted post-war revealed that the outer serrations did little to aid in the fragmentation upon detonation. The filler of the grenade was EC blank fire powder or TNT. The weight of the grenade was 20 ounces, and its bursting radius was 30 yards, with a kill radius of 5 to 10.

Supplemental tie-on First Aid Kit - The supplemental first aid pouch provided an extra bandage with a tie on strap that could be attached either to the helmet, the ankle or the suspenders. The need for a fast and immediate dressing was apparent in the opening days of the Normandy campaign when conditions dictated that the regular bandage could not be reached.

M1 Carbine Ammo Pouch - The first model M1 Carbine magazine pouch held two 15 round magazines and slid over the pistol belt. It could be snapped to the button on its front. It was typical to see these also on the stock of M1 Carbines; as they could be slid over the weapon once disassembled from the muzzle end. Five magazines and two pouches were standard issue but more were frequently carried. When empty, magazines were not discarded.






A pathfinder is a paratrooper who is inserted or dropped into place in order to set up and operate drop zones, pickup zones, and helicopter landing sites for airborne operations, air resupply operations, or other air operations in support of the ground unit commander. Pathfinders use a wide array of skills including air traffic control, ground-to-air communications, sling load operations and inspections, and drop zone and helicopter landing zone support in order to ensure the mission is a success.


The first two American airborne campaigns, the drops into North Africa (Operation Torch) and Sicily (Operation Husky) did not make use of pathfinders. The jump into North Africa, which was made up of the men of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion (PIB), resulted in its men being scattered to places such as Algeria, Gibraltar, and Morocco when they ran into bad weather and got lost. The next major airborne operation took place in the invasion of Sicily in July, 1943. Many of the same problems were encountered, as the men were scattered as far as 65 miles from their drop zones, due to high winds and poor navigation. In fact, some of the paratroopers landed so far off course that it would be a matter of weeks before they finally found their way back to Allied lines.


Sicily and Italy


After the serious problems uncovered during the parachute drop in the Allied invasion of Sicily, Allied high command questioned the utility of parachute infantry primarily because of the difficulty of dropping the infantry as cohesive units rather than as scattered groups. A review of procedures and methods resulted in the establishment of the pathfinder teams to aid navigation to drop zones. In fact, the pathfinder forces were only formed about a week in advance of the jump at Paestum, Italy on September 13, 1943. When the majority of the pathfinders landed directly on target, they were able to set up their radar sets and Krypton lights on the drop zone. A quarter of an hour later, the main body of paratroopers from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) landed right on the middle of the drop zone.


The same night, the newly formed pathfinder detachment from the 509th PIB saw their first action in that capacity at Avellino, Italy However, unlike the successful pathfinders at Paestum, those at Avellino had markedly less success. However, this was not their fault, as the mountainous terrain surrounding the area deflected the radar signals and caused the pilots to become disoriented.



Not until June 6, 1944, D-Day, would the airborne and pathfinder forces see combat again as part of Operation Overlord. Pathfinders taking part in the Allied parachute assault on Normandy, France on 6 June 1944, were trained by the Pathfinder School at RAF North Witham of which the USAAF designation was Army Air Force Station 479. At 21.30 hours on 5 June, about 200 pathfinders began to take off from North Witham, for the Cotentin Peninsula, in 20 C-47 aircraft of 9th Troop Carrier Command Pathfinder Group. They began to drop at 00.15 on June 6, to prepare the drop zones for the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. They were the first US troops on the ground on D-Day. However, their aircraft were scattered by low clouds and anti-aircraft fire.


Many never found their assigned landing zones. Some of the landing zones were too heavily defended. Some were flooded. The low clouds and extremely intense anti-aircraft fire caused the pathfinder sticks to be dropped off course, with only one stick landing in the correct place (Ambrose, p. 196). Their radar beacons did work somewhat effectively; even though the pathfinders set up their equipment off course, many of the sticks of follow up paratroopers landed clustered near these beacons. However, the lights proved ineffective, as most were not set up due to the clouds and misdrops of the pathfinders.While the bad weather and heavy anti-aircraft curtailed the effectiveness of the pathfinder teams on D-Day, the overall airborne drop was a success. This was true because the misplacement and scattering of the airborne forces deceived the German High Command, convincing them that there were far more American parachutists present than there actually were in France.


Southern France


The invasion of the South of France took place on August 15, 1944, in the form of Operation Dragoon (Rottman, p. 80). The 509th PIB, the 517th PIR, and the 1st Battalion of the 551st PIR formed the American airborne contingent of the invasion, dropping into the French Riviera in the early hours of the morning.As had been the problem with previous night drops, such as Normandy, the pathfinders here were misdropped when the planes carrying them got lost. 

Further delays were encountered when these men had to find each other on the ground, work their way through a heavily wooded area near the town of Le Muy, and fight off German soldiers in the process.

Due to the ineffective placement of the pathfinders, the follow up waves of paratroopers were not dropped in the right place either. This was further exacerbated by pilot error, as many of the pilots opted to drop their paratroopers at too high an altitude; the result was that these men were widely scattered. Much like the paratroopers in Normandy, however, the overall operation was a success as the paratroopers still managed to accomplish their missions and capture their objectives in conjunction with the seaborne landing forces.



Operation Market Garden, which took place on September 17, 1944, was the next major airborne operation into Holland, the largest to date.The mission of the paratroopers was to capture a series of bridges from Best in the south, to Arnhem (by British paratroopers) in the north..


While the operation ultimately failed, due to delays among the ground forces, the airborne divisions accomplished most of their missions; this was due in large part to the efforts of the pathfinder forces. A combination of the drop taking place in broad daylight and the fact that the Germans were not expecting an airborne attack allowed the pathfinders to land on target and guide in the rest of the paratroopers to the proper location.This is especially remarkable, considering the fact that the number of pathfinder sticks and the number of men in each stick were reduced to the bare minimum (one per drop zone) for this drop.


Battle of the Bulge

During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, the 101st Airborn Division along with elements of other units was trucked to the Belgian town of Bastogne in order to secure and defend the town which contained a major road junction. By December 22, 1944, the units defending the town were surrounded and running low on supplies. Two sticks of pathfinders of the 101st Airborne Division were ordered to parachute into Bastogne to set up signal beacons to guide in a flight of planes to resupply the Allied units in that town; the resupply succeeded, thanks to the efforts of the pathfinders.This was a slightly different mission than what the pathfinders were trained however it fell within their core compentency of guiding aircraft to a particular location for the purpose of a parachute drop.

Interestingly enough there were pathfinder trained personnel in Bastogne however they were unable to perform the pathfinder duty without the equipment that were parachuted in with the pathfinders.


Into Germany

A similar mission was carried out by the pathfinders of the 506th PIR at Prüm, Germany, on February 13, 1945.Their objective was to set beacons to guide in planes to resupply the surrounded 4th Infantry Division, and they succeeded; this allowed the division to fight off the Germans surrounding them.

The only major airborne operation into Germany came on March 24, 1945, in the form of Operation Varsity, the crossing of the Rhine River by Allied paratroopers .Due to the fact that it was another daylight drop (navigation should not be a problem) and that the drop zones were heavily defended, pathfinders were not dropped prior to the main paratrooper forces in this operation.Instead, some set up beacons on the Allied side of the river, and others dropped with the main paratrooper force to set up smoke and panels as a final navigational aid.
















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17 juillet 2014 4 17 /07 /juillet /2014 00:28

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5 Th Special Forces Group 



The first Special Forces unit in the Army was formed on June 11, 1952, when the 10th Special Forces Group was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A major expansion of Special Forces occurred during the 1960s, with a total of eighteen groups organized in the Regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard. As a result of renewed emphasis on special operations in the 1980s, the Special Forces Branch was established as a basic branch of the Army effective April 9, 1987, by General Orders No. 35, June 19, 1987.

Personnel assigned to the Special Forces Branch are all affiliated to the 1st Special Forces since there is only one Special Forces regiment. 

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) derives its lineage from the unit of World War II fame -- The First Special Service Forces. "The Devils Brigade" -- a combined Canadian-American Force, constituted 5 July 1942 in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment,1st Battalion, Third Regiment,1st Special Service Force.

The Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, Third Regiment, 1st Special Service Force was first activated and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison, Montana. The unit participated in the Italian campaign and saw additional action in France. It was disbanded in France on 6 February 1945.

The unit was reconstituted in the Regular Army, on 15 April 1960, and was designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. On 21 September 1961 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was officially activated. One year after the 5th Group was organized, elements of the 5th Special Forces Group began serving temporary duty tours in the Republic of Vietnam.

Full deployment of the Group was completed in February 1965. Although young in years of existence, from its operational base at Nha Trang, the Group deployed throughout the four military regions of South Vietnam. Its operational detachments established and manned camps at 270 different locations which trained and led indigenous forces of the civilian irregular defense groups, as well as regular units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam.

Despite being one of the smallest units engaged in the Vietnam conflict, the Group colors fly twenty campaign streamers, and its soldiers are among the most highly decorated in the history of our nation. Seventeen Medals of Honor were awarded, 8 posthumously.













The Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) Vietnam 1966-1968, The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) Vietnam 1968; Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam 1964-1969; and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, 1st Class, Vietnam 1968-1970. 

Other teams and elements received numerous other unit citations including, Naval Presidential Unit Citation, valorous unit awards and numerous Vietnamese unit awards. On 5 March 1971, the colors of the 5th Special Forces Group were returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina by a 94-man contingent led by then Col. (later Maj. Gen. Retired) Michael D. Healy, thereby terminating their official Vietnam service.

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) remained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina until 10 June 1988, when the Group colors were cased at a ceremony marking its departure from Fort Bragg. 

The colors were officially uncased by Maj. Gen. Teddy G. Allen, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, CO. (now Maj. Gen.) Harley C. Davis, Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Dennison on 16 June 1988 at its new home at Fort Campbell, KY.

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) added to its rich combat history during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In August 1990 the Group was called upon to conduct theater operations in Southwest Asia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. 

During this crisis the Army's First Special Operations Task Force, (ARSOTF), consisting of elements of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) comprising 106 special operations teams performing a myriad of missions that spanned the scope of operations: support to coalition warfare; conducting foreign internal defense missions with Saudi Arabian Land Forces, performing special reconnaissance, border surveillance, direct action, combat search and rescue missions; and advising and assisting a pan-Arab equivalent force larger than six U.S. divisions, as well as conducting civil-military operations training and liaison with the Kuwaitis. 

The border surveillance mission assigned the 5th Special Forces was among the most vital in providing "ground truth" to the American and Pan Arab Forces. A new chapter in coalition warfare was written while new military relationships were forged which continue their importance today.

In August 1992, a full four months prior to the deployment of major U.S. Forces, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were conducting operations in the country of Somalia, again, providing "ground truth".

On 11 June 1993 Gen. Wayne A. Downing, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, presented the Valorous Unit Award to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for service during Operation Desert Storm from 17 January 1991 to 28 February 1991.

In 1995 the 5th Special Forces team was in Pakistan's northern frontier near China and Afghanistan. Training with the Pakistani Special Services Group, the mission was just one of hundreds performed by Green Berets across the world in recent years, designed to build regional awareness in some of the most remote parts of the globe.

Special operations forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force conducted numerous missions supporting NATO's implementation force in Bosnia. Assistance ranged from air support and rescue operations to reconnaissance and liaison duties. 

Nearly 700 members of the Army's Special Operations Command deployed to Bosnia in mid-December 1995 and began numerous operations throughout the Balkan nation. Included are more than 100 reservists serving in Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations positions. 

Army special operations units in the area included the 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash.; the 5th Group from Fort Campbell, Ky.; the 10th Group, Fort Carson, Colo.; and the Army National Guard 20th Special Forces Group, Birmingham, Ala. Portions of Fort Bragg's (N.C.) 4th Psychological Operations Battalion, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 112th and 528th Special Operations Signal battalions are also in Bosnia. 

Special operations personnel served as liaisons between NATO forces and local nationals. Other tasks may included unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and humanitarian or civic action.


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John Wayne as Colonel Mike Kirby in The Green Berets,
 directed by Ray Kellogg and Wayne, 1968.









The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations prior to and during the Vietnam War.


Established on 24 January 1964, the unit conducted strategic reconnaissance missions in Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Laos, and Cambodia; carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue operations to retrieve prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia; and conducted clandestine agent team activities and psychological operations.


The unit participated in most of the significant campaigns of the Vietnam War, including the Tonkin Gulf Incident whichprecipitated American involvement, Operation Steel Tiger, Operation Tiger Hound, the Tet Offensive, Operation Commando Hunt, the Cambodian Campaign, Operation Lam Son 719, and the Easter Offensive. The unit was formally disbanded and replaced by the Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team 158 on 1 May 1972.













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3 janvier 2012 2 03 /01 /janvier /2012 00:20


 British 6th Airborne Division

In 1940 the British established the Central Landing School at Manchester's Ringway airport to evaluate airborne operations under the aegis of the Director of Combined Operations, but this effort enjoyed only a low priority until Prime Minister Winston Churchill minuted the Chiefs-of-Staff Committee that he wanted to see the creation of a 5,000-man parachute corps without delay. Volunteers of the right calibre were found without difficulty, and progress was made in the development of airborne units and tactics, but the limiting factor was the Royal Air Force's lack of adequate transport and glider-towing aircraft, together with this service's reluctance to see any of its strength diverted to a secondary task, as the RAF saw such operations.

The UK's first operational airborne unit was No. 2 Commando, which became the 11th Special Air Service Battalion (with one parachute wing and one glider wing) during November 1940 and during September 1941 the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, when it became the first unit to be absorbed into Brigadier R.N. Gale's newly created 1st Parachute Brigade.

 Two more battalions were soon raised, and in October 1941 Major General F.A.M. Browning was appointed to the new position of Commander, Para-Troops and Airborne Troops. At the same time, an infantry brigade was diverted to become a gliderborne air-landing brigade. By the end of 1941 it was clear the british airborne warfare capabilities merited ew organization, the more so as the Americans had promised large numbers of Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport and glider-towing aircraft that entered British service with the name Dakota. In November of that year Browning was appointed to command of the British 1st Airborne Division.

The formation entrusted with the airborne assault on the left flank of the British assault landing in Operation Overlord was the British 6th Airborne Division commanded by Major General R.N. Gale, who led the division from its creation to 8 December 1944, when he was succeeded by Major General E.L. Bols. The task of the division in Operation Overlord was to land units by parachute and glider in the area to the east of the seaborne landings for the establishment of an air-head whose two primary tasks were the capture of the Canal de Caen and River Orne crossings midway between Caen and Ouistreham, and the provision of a left-flank guard for the seaborne landings against German attacks from the east.

The British 6th Airborne Division had been created on 3 May 1943 with the formation of the divisional headquarters, but the divisional commander assumed command only four days later, and the divisional headquarters was brought up to full establishment only on 23 September 1943. The division's first element was the 6th Airlanding Brigade, which came under command on 6 May 1943, and this was joined later in the same month by the 3rd Parachute Brigade and the 72nd Independent Infantry Brigade, which arrived on 15 and 28 May respectively.

The latter unit remained part of the division for only three days to the end of the month, and was supplanted on 1 June 1943 by the 5th Parachute Brigade, whose HQ was created out of that of the 72nd Independent Infantry Brigade. For the rest of the war the British 6th Airborne Division's units were the 3rd and 5th Parachute Brigades and 6th Airlanding Brigade.

The British 6th Airborne Division served under the GHQ Home Forces from its creation to 3 December 1943, when it passed to control of the HO Airborne Troops for the period between 4 December 1943 and 5 June 1944. From the next day the British 6th Airborne Division came under the British I Corps for the Normandy campaign, and remained under control of this formation until 30 August 1944, when it passed to the control of the British 21st Army Group before returning to the UK on 3 September 1944 as a part of the British I Airborne Corps from 5 September 1944. Command passed to the War Office on 12 September and then back to the British I Airborne Corps on 1 October 1944.

The division returned to North-West Europe on 24 December 1944 under command successively of the British 21st Army Group, British XXX Corps, 21st Army Group, British VIII Corps and finally 21st Army Group. The division saw no action during this period, and returned to the UK and control of the British I Airborne Corps on 24 February 1945. On 19 March 1945 the division was allocated to the US XVIII Airborne Corps, and fought under its command in the first stage of the Rhine battle (23 March — 1 April 1945) before coming under command of the British VIII Corps on 29 March 1945. The division saw no more fighting after the Rhine battle, but reverted to the US XVIII Airborne Corps on 1 May 1945. The division saw out the remaining days of World War II under US control, and reverted to the British I Airborne Corps only on 19 May 1945, when it returned to the UK.

At this point it is illuminating to consider the standard organization of the British airborne division at the time of Operation Overlord. The organization was based on a personnel strength of 12,148 all ranks, 6,210 vehicles together with 935 trailers, and weapons that ranged in size from pistols to cruiser tanks. The division's vehicles included 3,269 bicycles (1,907 MKV and 1,362 folding bicycles), 1,233 motorcycles (529 lightweight and 704 solo motorcycles), 1,044 cars (904 5-cwt Jeeps, 115 miscellaneous cars and 25 scout cars), 25 Universal on Bren Carriers, 24 ambulances, 1201 5-cwt trucks, 438 3-ton trucks, 26 tractors, and 22 tanks (11 cruiser and 11 light tanks).

 The weapons included 2,942 pistols, 7,171 Lee Enfield rifles, 6,504 Sten submachine guns, 966 Bren light machine guns, 46 Vickers Mk I medium/heavy machine guns, 535 mortars (474 2-in, 563-in and 54.2-in weapons), 392 PIAT anti-tank weapons, 23 20mm towed anti-aircraft guns, 38 man-portable flame-throwers, and 127 guns (27 75mm towed pack howitzers, 84 towed 6-pounder anti-tank guns and 16 towed 17-pounder anti-tank guns).

Divisional command was exercised from the Divisional HQ, where the divisional commander and his staff enjoyed the support of several types of specialist as well as the Airborne Divisional HQ Defence Platoon, the Divisional Field.

Security Section and an independent parachute company. The Divisional HQ controlled the formation's three brigades (two parachute and one airlanding) and the organic divisional troops. Each brigade was based on a Brigade HQ with its own Brigade HQ Defence Platoon and three battalions. The three battalions were the fighting strength of the brigade: In the parachute brigades, each battalion had a strength of 29 officers and 584 other ranks in one HQ company and three rifle companies.

The HQ company had five platoons, two of them each equipped with four 3-in mortars and one with 10 PIATs. Each rifle company had three platoons. In the glider-borne airlanding brigade, each battalion had a strength of 47 officers and 817 other ranks in one support company, one anti-aircraft/anti-tank company and four rifle companies.

The support company had six platoons including one with four 3-in mortars. The anti-aircraft/anti-tank company had four platoons including two with 12 20mm AA guns and the other two with eight 6-pounder anti-tank guns. Each rifle company had four platoons. It should also be noted that the gliders used for the delivery of the airlanding brigade were operated by wings whose varying number of squadrons each had a varying number of flights each with 20 gliders. Each glider was flown by two men of The Glider Pilot Regiment, who were trained to fight alongside the men of the airlanding brigade.

The capability of the parachute and airlanding brigades was greatly bolstered by the divisional troops controlled by Divisional HQ. The Royal Armoured Corps provided an airborne armoured reconnaissance regiment. The Royal Artillery provided an HQ Airborne Division RA controlling one airlanding light regiment and one airlanding anti-tank regiment. The Royal Engineers provided a HQ Airborne Division RE controlling two parachute engineer squadrons and one airborne field company.

The Royal Signals provided an Airborne Divisional Signals unit. The Royal Army Service Corps provided an HQ Airborne Division RASC controlling one airborne light company and two airborne light divisional companies. The Royal Army Medical Corps provided two parachute field ambulances and one airlanding field ambulance. The Royal Army Ordnance Corps provided one airborne divisional ordnance field park.

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers provided an HQ Airborne Division REME controlling one airborne divisional workshop, one armoured Airlanding Light Aid Detachment ‘Type A', one unarmoured Airlanding Light Aid Detachment ‘Type A', four Airlanding Light Aid Detachments ‘Type B' and one Airlanding Light Aid Detachment ‘Type C'. And the Corps of Military Police provided an airborne divisional provost company. The organic troops were completed by an airborne divisional postal unit, a mobile photo enlargement centre and a forward observer unit.

Major General Richard ‘Windy' Gale was a pioneer of British airborne forces, and raised the 1st Parachute Brigade. By 1944 he had risen to command of the British 6th Airborne Division, which he led under very difficult circumstances in Operation Overlord. Though superficially a typical Indian Army officer (he had been born in India and was Master of the Delhi Foxhouds before World War II), Gale was in fact a daring planner who could cause concern by the blunt lucidity of his words but who proved himself capable of infusing his men with the confidence and skills to carry out his plans.


At dawn on the 6th June 1944, two Allied armies, one British and one American, landed on the beaches of Normandy in France. It was the largest invasion ever attempted, and its ultimate goal was to secure a foothold in Europe, to defeat Germany and liberate the Continent from Nazi rule. Leading the invasion, landing by parachute and glider, several hours before the first troops assaulted the beaches, were three Airborne Divisions; two were American and landed in the west, the other, the 6th British Airborne Division, landed in the extreme east.


The main tasks of the 6th Airborne Division were as follows:


1. To capture the Bénouville and Ranville Bridges.These strategically vital bridges, if held against counterattack, would not only prevent the Germans from moving decisively against the flank of the British and Canadian seaborne troops as they advanced inland,but they would also enable the Allies to advance eastwards.


2. The destruction of the Merville Battery. Several miles to the north-east of these bridges was an imposing fortification that contained four large calibre guns, which could do terrific damage to the invasion fleet. The 6th Airborne Division had to attack and destroy these guns in the hours before the landings took place.


The first British troops that arrived in France were the one hundred and eighty men of Major John Howard's "coup de main" force, consisting of two platoons of "B" and all of "D" Company of the 2nd Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. Travelling in six gliders, they landed within yards of both the Bénouville and Ranville Bridges, and within ten minutes they had brilliantly captured both of them intact. Bénouville Bridge would later become more famously known as Pegasus Bridge.

Several miles to the east, the four thousand paratroopers of the 3rd and 5th Parachute Brigades were not so lucky. Poor weather conditions and high winds obscured the drop zone and scattered the parachutists as they jumped. Many men dropped miles from where they should have been, others drowned in ground that had been flooded by the Germans. Gradually the six battalions of these two brigades formed up at their rendezvous points, however they could only muster between 25 and 60% of their full strength.

Despite this, they went about their tasks. The 7th Parachute Battalion relieved Howard's men at the Bridges, the 12th and 13th Parachute Battalions secured several villages to the south-east to shield the Bridges against attack from the east of the River Orne, whilst the engineers of the 3rd Parachute Squadron, supported by the 8th and 1st Canadian Parachute Battalions destroyed five bridges across the River Dives, eight miles to the east, thus greatly impeding subsequent German counterattacks.


Of all of these units, the 9th Parachute Battalion suffered worst from its drop. Their task was to destroy the Merville Battery, but after hours of waiting at the rendezvous no more than one hundred and fifty of their men had arrived, and very little of their specialist assault equipment had been found. Their commander, Lt-Colonel Terence Otway, was left with no choice but to attack with what he had.


The Battery was a formidable position. It was defended by one hundred and thirty Germans, supported by numerous machine-gun positions, all sitting inside two huge belts of barbed wire, in between which was a minefield. Silently, the paratroopers cut their way through the wire and cleared paths of mines. As they were forming up for the attack, they were spotted and fired on by no fewer than six machine-guns. As these were being dealt with, Otway gave the order to attack, whereupon the assault party charged across the minefield, lobbing grenades and firing from the hip at any sign of enemy resistance.

The Germans fought back hard and cost the assault party dear, however they could not be prevented from reaching the casemates, and once inside they engaged their defenders hand to hand. At a heavy cost, the guns were destroyed and in so doing the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands of men in the invasion fleet had been saved. Of the one hundred and fifty paratroopers who had attacked the Merville Battery, sixty-five were either killed or wounded, whilst of the one hundred and thirty strong German garrison, only six escaped injury.


By dawn, the 6th Airborne Division was holding a firm defensive position as the Allies began to land on the beaches. The assault began with a terrific bombardment of the beach defences by bombers and warships, after several hours of which the assault infantry pressed forward in their landing craft. By the end of the day, all of the beaches had been captured and the Allies were edging ashore in spite of heavy casualties, the worst of which had been suffered by the Americans on Omaha Beach.


On Sword Beach, nearest to the 6th Airborne Division, the Commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade arrived, and with great speed they cut their way through German resistance to link up with the Airborne troops. The Commandos, having crossed the bridges, pushed on northwards to the aid of the desperately weak 9th Parachute Battalion. Elsewhere, the fiercest fighting was experienced by the 12th Parachute Battalion, who fought off two heavy attacks on their positions, and in particular by the 7th Parachute Battalion, who had only a third of their strength and were struggling to hold the western end of Pegasus Bridge from determined German attacks. Despite heavy casualties, they yielded no ground and by midnight they were relieved by the main force of infantry arriving from Sword Beach.

Throughout the next week the 6th Airborne Division held its bridgehead across the River Orne against increasingly vicious attacks. Time after time they threw these back with severe casualties, however a steady toll was being taken on their own numbers and as such it was proving difficult for them to hold such a wide expanse of territory. Gradually the attacks became focused upon a crucial wide ridge, which overlooked the British invasion area and therefore it was vital that this ground be held.

 Here, the well-equipped German 346th Division made numerous attempts to gain a foothold by constantly attacking the 1st Canadian and 9th Parachute Battalions as well as the 1st Special Service Brigade. On the 12th June, a particularly heavy attack was successfully beaten off, however the position of the two parachute battalions was precarious and it was doubtful whether they could withstand another attack of such magnitude.


The main position from which the 346th Division was fighting was the village of Bréville, which was sited upon the ridge and also served as a potentially destabilising wedge between the positions of the Paratroopers and the Commandos. The commander of the 6th Airborne Division, Major-General Richard Gale, decided that Bréville had to be captured immediately or else his defence might fold. During the night of the 12th June, the 12th Parachute Battalion attacked and successfully captured the village, though at a very high cost. The British lost one hundred and sixty two killed to the Germans seventy seven.

Despite this, The Battle of Bréville was a crucial victory because it truly secured the 6th Airborne Division's position, and with it the entire Allied left flank. Furthermore, the offensive spin of the 346th Division had been shattered, and from the 12th June onwards, no further serious attacks were mounted against the 6th Airborne Division.

For the following two months, the Division fought a static defence. That is to say they remained firmly in their positions and made no attempts to advance, but at the same time they sent out numerous heavy patrols, by day and night, to seek out and raid any enemy in their area. The purpose of this strategy was to destabilise the Germans and so prevent them from becoming comfortable enough to contemplate another offensive against the Division. The Airborne troops, and in particular the Commandos, were ideally suited to this task they did an excellent job of unsettling and frustrating their opponents.


Elsewhere, the Allied armies were advancing slowly in the face of stiff opposition. However the Germans were gradually worn down and, in late July, the Americans succeeded in breaking through the lines of the German Seventh Army and began to encircle them in what was to become known as the Falaise Pocket. Inevitably, the Germans were heavily defeated in Falaise, and with their front line in disarray they fell back, rapidly pursued by the Allies. Within weeks, most of France and Belgium had been liberated.


The 6th Airborne Division took part in this advance despite the fact that many doubted that they would be able to maintain the pace, because they had far fewer vehicles and support equipment than a standard British infantry formation had available to it. Confounding the skeptics, the Division, through quick marches and intelligent use of what resources they had, were not in the slightest hindered in this regard and in just ten days they waged a fighting advance over a distance of some thirty miles.

 Throughout this time, the Germans fought a stubborn rearguard action, particularly across the three rivers that the Division had to ford, but nevertheless they overcame all that was before them, and on the 27th August the Division was ordered to halt at the mouth of the River Seine. Their role in the Normandy campaign was at an end and in early September they returned to England.

Throughout the three months of fighting in Normandy, the 6th Airborne Division had made a crucial contribution to the success of the invasion. All of their objectives had been achieved during the first few hours of the landing, and over the coming days they gave no ground whatsoever in the face of determined German counterattacks.

Their casualties, however, had been considerable. Of the approximate ten thousand men of the Division, one thousand one hundred and forty-seven had been killed, two thousand seven hundred and five were wounded, and nine hundred and twenty-seven were missing. The fact that, in spite of this loss, mostly as a consequence of the scattered drop on the first night of the landings, the Division still manage to accomplish its tasks and hold such a wide expanse of territory, can only be attributed to the high calibre of its soldiers.

Dakota -C-47

Airspeed Horsa Invasion Glider

Sergeant  UK  Airborne, 1944
01 - Mk II helmet- jump version, with camouflage net

02 - Battle-dress
03 - M41 "Denison smock" jacket
04 - face camouflage net
05 - "toggle rope"
06 - boots
07 - M37 leggins
08 - M37 webbing
09 - Sten Mk V SMG with bayonet
10 - M36 grenade




STEN Mk.II  (2)

STEN Mk.III  (3)

STEN Mk.V (5)





Weight, empty

 3,26 kg

 3,18 kg

3,86 kg


895 mm

762 mm

762 mm

Barrel length

196 mm

196 mm

196 mm

Rate of fire

550 rounds per minute

550 rounds per minute

600 rounds per minute

Magazine capacity

32 rounds

32 rounds

32 rounds

Effective range

150-200 meters

150-200 meters

 150-200 meters

The STEN name
came out of names of the designers (R. V. Shepard and H. J. Turpin) and from the factory where they worked (Enfield arsenal). It was one of the most crude and ugly and simply, but effective submachine guns of the WW2. Almost 4 millions of STEN guns of different versions were made between 1941 and 1945. STEN guns were made not only in Royal Small Arms factory in Enfield; other makers included famous British gunmaking company of the time BSA Ltd, as well as Royal Ordnance Arsenal in Fazakerly, England, and Long Branch Arsenal in Canada.

The first STEN, STEN Mk.I (full official name was 9mm STEN Machine Carbine, Mark 1), was developed in mid-1941. It was blowback operated, automatic weapon that fired from the open bolt. Trigger unit permitted for sigle shots and full automatic fire, controlled by the cross-bolt type button, located in front and above trigger. The tubular receiver and the barrel shroud were made from rolled steel. The gun was fed from left side mounted box magazines. The stock was of skeleton type, made from steel. Sights were fixed, pre-adjusted for 100 yards distance, peep hole rear and blade front. The Mk.1 featured spoon-like muzzle compensator. Some guns featured small folding forward grip. Total production of Mark 1 and slightly modified Mark 1* STEN machine guns was about 100 000.

The STEN Mk.II submachine gun was most widely made gun in entire STEN series, with about 2 millions of Mark 2 being made during the war. It was slightly smaller and lighter than Mk.I. Basic design was the same as Mark 1, with omission of all wooden parts of Mk.I and shorter barrel jacket, which made the Mk.II lighter than its predecessor. Magazine housing could be rotated for about 90 degrees down to close feed and ejection apertures during transportation and off-battle carry (this feature caused much troubles as the rotary unit was not very durable and magazine could be misaligned during combat, what led to feed malfunctions and jams). Another source of problems was magazine spring, so magazines were routinely loaded with 28-30 rounds instead of "full capacity" 32 rounds to reduce strain on the magazine spring.

Some Mk.II STEN guns were manufactured with integral silencers for undercover operations and were marked as Mk.II(S). These guns had shortened barrels enclosed into integral silencer. The silencer was rather effective so most audible sound when firing Mk.IIS was the clattering of the bolt moving back and forth in the receiver. Contemporary manuals advised that Mk.IIS submachine gun was to be fired in semi-automatic mode; the ful-automatic fire was reserved for emergency situations, as it decreased the service life of  silencer significantly.

The STEN Mk.III was modification of Mk.I. The major change was that the receiver and the barrel shroud were made from single tube (wrapped from sheet-steel and welded at the top) that extended almost to the muzzle. Another changes included fixed magazine housing for improved reliability and small finger guard in the front of the ejection port. Internally, Mk.III was similar to Mk.I and has same variety of skeleton stocks. Mk.III first appeared in 1943.

The STEN Mk.IV was made in experimental form only, and did not entered the production. It was originally intended for airborne troops.

The STEN Mk.V submachine gun was an attempt to made Mk.II a more "good looking'" gun. Being internally the same as Mk.II, the "STEN Mk.V machine carbine" featured wooden buttstock and rear pistol grip, new front sight and bayonet mount. Early Mk.V's also featured wooden front grips, but these were prone to breakage and thus were removed soon. STEN Mk.V appeared in 1944 and remained in service until the early 1960s', and then replaced by Sterling submachine guns.

The Lee-Enfield was, in various marks and models, the British Army's standard bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle for over 60 years from (officially) 1895 until 1957, although it remained in British service well into the early 1960s and is still found in service in the armed forces of some Commonwealth nations. In its many versions, it was the standard army service rifle for the first half of the 20th century, and was adopted by Britain's colonies and Commonwealth allies, including India, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Rifle No 4 Mk I Cal 303*

By the late 1930s the need for new rifles grew, and the Rifle, No. 4 Mk I was first issued in 1939 but not officially adopted intil 1941. The No. 4 action was similar to the Mk VI but lighter, stronger, and most importantly, easier to mass-produce. Unlike the SMLE, the No 4 Lee-Enfield barrel protruded from the end of the forestock.

The No. 4 rifle was considerably heavier than the No. 1 Mk. III, largely due to its heavier barrel, and a new bayonet was designed to go with the rifle- a spike bayonet (which was essentially a steel rod with a sharp point), and was nicknamed "pigsticker" by soldiers. Towards the end of WWII, a bladed bayonet was developed and issued for the No 4 rifle, using the same mount as the spike bayonet.

During the course of World War II, the No. 4 rifle was further simplified for mass-production with the creation of the No. 4 Mk I* in 1942which saw the bolt release catch removed in favour of a more simplified notch on the bolt track of rifle's receiver. It was produced only in North America, with Long Branch Arsenal in Canada and Savage-Stevens Firearms in the USA producing the No. 4 Mk I* rifle from their respective factories. On the other hand, the No.4 Mk I rifle was primarily produced in the United Kingdom.

Lee-Enfield Mk .1

 No.4 Mk.1


.303 British (7.7x56mm R)


manually operated, rotating bolt

Overall length

1132 mm

Barrel length

640 mm


3.96 kg

Magazine capacity

10 rounds in detachable box magazine


1st Airborne Division
Operation Market Garden
(September 17, 1944–September 25, 1944)


Survivors  From  Hell

Operation Market Garden

British / Polish landings in Arnhem

Operation Plunder


Paratroopers of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion preparing for a patrol.
January 15, 1945, Bande, Belgium.


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2 mai 2011 1 02 /05 /mai /2011 00:26

























mp.jpgMP5 A4

* = Buttstock extracted/retracted
Fire Modes: S = Single, 3 = 3-Round-Burst, F = Automatic
Buttstock: AK = Receiver end cap, ES = Retractable buttstock, KS = Folding buttstock

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1 mai 2011 7 01 /05 /mai /2011 00:51




The UH-60A Black Hawk is the primary division-level transport helicopter, providing dramatic improvements in troop capacity and cargo lift capability compared to the UH-1 Series "Huey" it replaces. The UH-60A, with a crew of three, can lift an entire 11-man fully-equipped infantry squad in most weather conditions. It can be configured to carry four litters, by removing eight troop seats, in the MedEval role. Both the pilot and co-pilot are provided with armor-protective seats. Protective armor on the Black Hawk can withstand hits from 23mm shells.

The Black Hawk has a cargo hook for external lift missions. The Black Hawk has provisions for door mounting of two M60D 7.62mm machine guns on the M144 armament subsystem, and can disperse chaff and infrared jamming flares using the M130 general purpose dispenser. The Black Hawk has a composite titanium and fiberglass four-bladed main rotor, is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-700 1622 shp turboshaft engines, and has a speed of 163 mph (142 knots).


The UH-60, first flown in October 1974, was developed as result of the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) program. The UTTAS was designed for troop transport, command and control, MedEvac, and reconnaissance, to replace the UH-1 Series "Huey" in the combat assault role.

 In August 1972, the US Army selected the Sikorsky (model S-70) YUH-60A and the Boeing Vertol (model 237) YUH-61A (1974) as competitors in the UTTAS program. The Boeing Vertol YUH-61A had a four-bladed composite rotor, was powered by the same General Electric T700 engine as the Sikorsky YUH-60A, and could carry 11 troops. In December 1976 Sikorsky won the competition to produce the UH-60A, subsequently named the Black Hawk.



Elements of the US Army Aviation UH-60A/L Blackhawk helicopter fleet begin reaching their sevice life goal of 25 years in 2002. In order for the fleet to remain operationally effective through the time period 2025-2030 the aircraft will need to go through an inspection, refurbishment, and modernization process that will validate the structural integrity of the airframe, incorporate improvements in sub-systems so as to reduce maintenance requirements, and modernize the mission equipment and avionics to the levels compatible with Force XXI and Army After Next (AAN) demands.


A Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) is planned for the UH-60 beginning in FY99. The UH-60 modernization program will identify material requirements to effectively address known operational deficiencies to ensure the Black Hawk is equipped and capable of meeting battlefield requirements through the 2025-2030 timeframe.

Primary modernization areas for consideration are: increased lift, advanced avionics (digital communications and navigation suites), enhanced aircraft survivability equipment (ASE), increased reliability and maintainability (R & M), airframe service life extension (SLEP), and reduced operations and support (O & S) costs. Suspense date for the approved Operational Requirements Document (ORD) was December 1998. 

UH-60 Firehawk is a Reseach and Development program to provide the UH-60 series helicopter with both a wartime and peacetime fire fighting capability by use of a detachable 1,000 gal. belly tank. Qualification issues include design and testing required to maintain the combat capabilities of the UH-60 Black Hawk and the safe flight envelope of the aircraft with the tank.

is a conceptual UH-60 capability to refuel/resupply other aviation assets using

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is officially described as a "joint headquarters designed to study special operations requirements and techniques; ensure interoperability and equipment standardization; plan and conduct joint special operations exercises and training; and develop joint special operations tactics" but this description is economical with the truth. Joint Special Operations Command serves as a standing Joint Special Operations Task Force responsible for unique special missions: execution, planning, training, tactics, and equipment development.

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was established in 1980 and is located at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina and at nearby Fort Bragg, NC. JSOC is a joint headquarters designed to study special operations requirements and techniques; ensure interoperability and equipment standardization; plan and conduct joint special operations exercises and training; and develop joint special operations tactics.

Although JSOC's stated purpose is to provide a unified command structure for conducting joint special operations and exercises, it is widely reported that JSOC is actually the command responsible for conducting US counter-terrorism (CT) operations. JSOC is reported to command the US military's Special Missions Units (SMUs). These SMUs are tasked with conducting CT operations, strike operations, reconnaissance in denied areas, and special intelligence missions.

Much of the hunting for senior Taliban and al Qaeda members in Afghanistan is being conducted by a unit called Task Force 11, composed mostly of Delta Force  and SEALs.

JSOC units have reportedly been involved in a number of covert military operations over the last two decades. Some of these operations include providing assistance to Italian authorities during their search for kidnapped US Army Gen. James Dozier, participating in Operation Urgent Fury; the US invasion of Grenada, planning a rescue attempt of US hostages being held in Lebanon, rescuing hostages being held aboard the cruise liner Achille Lauro, participating in Operation Just Cause; the US intervention in Panama, directing US Scud hunting efforts during Operation Desert Storm, conducting operations in support of UN mandates in Somalia, and searching for suspected war criminals in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.

JSOC units regularly conduct training with similar units from around the world, and provide training to nations that request US support. JSOC has also provide support to domestic law enforcement agencies during high profile, or high risk events such as the Olympics, the World Cup, political party conventions; and Presidential inaugurations.

The DARPA Active Templates program, working in close collaboration with the Joint Special Operations Command, developed the software tools-of-choice for special operations command and control. These tools allow military planners to sketch out plans against a time-line or with a map or image in the background, merge plans from other teams that are connected to the network, de-conflict and coordinate changes as plans solidify, and then use these same tools to track the progress of the battle during mission execution.

Time-and-motion studies show that these tools speed planning by a factor of four, buying time for rehearsal and critical decision-making. These prototype tools were advocated for use following several successful special operations exercises in FY 2001. In October 2001, they were deployed and have been used continually to support combat operations in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Marine Corps is exploring new ways to organize forces and maximize their usefulness to joint force commanders. The expansion of the Marine CorpsÕ relationship with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) highlights a commitment to this process, and to transformation. To that end, in 2003 the Commandant and the Commander of the US Special Operations Command reestablished the USSOCOM-Marine Corps Board.

The board is a forum for the exchange of ideas between the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and deploying Marine Expeditionary Unit staffs, to establish and continue a dialogue between Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOC) and deploying MEU staffs, and to coordinate USSOCOM and USMC warfighting developments.












Model UH-60A
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
Folded Length (rotor/tail pylon) 40 ft, 11in
Rotor folded length (pylon flight position) 53 ft, 3 in
Length overall (rotors turning) 64 ft, 10 in / 19.76m
Fuselage length 50 ft / 15.26m
Height: (to top of rotor) head 3.79m
Overall height, (tail rotor turning) 17 ft / 5.18m
Fuselage width 7 ft, 9 in / 2.36m
Folded width 10 ft, 7 in
Main rotor diameter 53 ft, 8 in / 16.36m
Main rotor blade chord 0.53m
Tail rotor diameter 11 ft / 3.35m
Ground clearance 11.2 in
Ground to tail rotor clearance 6 ft, 8 in
Turning radius 41 ft, 7 in
Clearance for 180° 84 ft
Main rotor disc 210.15m2
Tail rotor disc 8.83m2
Vertical fin 3.00m2
Horizontal tail surfaces 4.18m2;
Weight empty (ASW) 6.191kg
Maximum useful load (fuel and disposable ordinance)
Maximum disc loading 47.2kg/m2
Maximum power loading 3.92kg/m2
Maximum level speed at S/L (Dash Speed) 126 knots
Rate of climb at S/L, OEI 213m/min
Service ceiling 5,790m
Service ceiling, OEI 21287
Hovering ceiling 2,895mIGE
Range at S/L with standard fuel, no reserves 319 nm


Blackhawk Down  2001 | 144mins | War, Drama | Color 

Directed by Ridley Scott, "Black Hawk Down" is a military action movie about an ill-fated 1993 U.S. mission in which Americans were killed. Local warlords battled one another in Somalia, and some 300,000 Somalis died of starvation.The U.S. involvement was to facilitate the delivery of food shipments. American military forces mounted an operation, and soldiers were flown in via Black Hawk helicopters, two of which were shot down.

M60 7.62mm Machine Gun

The M60 is a gas-operated, air-cooled, belt-fed, automatic machine gun that fires from the open-bolt position. It has a maximum rate of fire of 550 rounds per minute. Ammunition is fed into the weapon from a 100-round bandoleer containing a disintegrating metallic split-link belt. It can be fired from the shoulder, hip, or underarm position; from the bipod-steadied position; or from the tripod-mounted position.

The M60 Machine Gun has been the US Army's general purpose machine gun since 1950. It fires the standard NATO 7.62 mm round and is used as a general support crew-served weapon. It has a removable barrel which can be easily changed to prevent overheating. The weapon has an integral, folding bipod and can also be mounted on a folding tripod.

The M60 machine gun uses several different types of 7.62-mm standard military ammunition. Soldiers must use only authorized ammunition that is manufactured to US and NATO specifications. The ammunition is issued in a disintegrating, metallic, split-linked belt. The preferred combat ammunition mix for the M60 is a four-ball (M80) and one-tracer (M62) mix. Again, the four-and-one mix allows the gunner to use the TOT method of adjusting fire to achieve target kill.

The ammunition is stored under cover. If ammunition is in the open, it must be kept at least 6 inches above the ground and covered with a double thickness of tarpaulin. The cover must be placed so that it protects the ammunition yet allows ventilation. Trenches are dug to divert water from flowing under the ammunition. Ammunition should not be removed from the airtight containers until ready for use. Ammunition removed from the airtight containers, especially in damp climates, may corrode.

Type Use
M61 Armor-piercing Against lightly armored targets.
M62 Tracer For observation of fire, incendiary effects, signaling, and training.
M80 Ball Against light materiel targets and personnel, and for range training.
M63 Dummy During mechanical training.
M82 Blank During training when simulated live fire is desired (A blank firing attachment must be used to fire this ammunition).

The 7.62-mm M60 machine gun supports the rifleman in offense and defense. It provides the heavy volume of close and continuous fire the rifleman needs to accomplish his mission. The M60 is used to engage targets beyond the range of individual weapons, with controlled and accurate fire. The long-range, close defensive, and final protective fires delivered by the M60 form an integral part of a unit's defensive fires.

Application of fire consists of the methods the gunner uses to cover a target area. Training these methods of applying fire can be accomplished only after the soldiers have learned how to recognize the different types of targets they may find in combat, how to distribute and concentrate their fire, and how to maintain the proper rate of fire. Normally, the gunner is exposed to two types of targets in the squad or platoon sector: enemy soldiers and supporting automatic weapons. These targets have priority and should be engaged immediately.

The M60 was type classified in 1957 as a companion to the 7.62mm M14 rifle. The M60 is lighter than the .30 cal. M1919A6 and only slightly heavier than the .30 cal. M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) it replaced.

The M60 7.62mm machine gun has been the U.S. Army's general purpose medium machine gun since the late 1950s. The M60 fires standard NATO 7.62mm ammunition and is used as a general support crew-served weapon. It has a removable barrel which can be easily changed to prevent overheating. The weapon has an integral, folding bipod and can also be mounted on a folding tripod. The M60 has a rate of fire of 600 spm.

The M60C and M60D are aircraft versions of the basic M60 machine gun.

The M60 joined the United States Army's arsenal in 1959. It was to incorporate the best features of other successful guns, and the two which took the imagination of the designers were the World War II German MG42 and the FG42. The locking arrangements are from the FG42 and the feed and belt are from the MG42.

The M60 machine gun was the first U.S. gun to have a quick-change barrel. The original system did not work well because the gas cylinder, the barrel, and the bipod were permanently attached to each other. This drawback has been eliminated in the M60E1. In the early years of Viet Nam, Marines the 7.62mm (.30 caliber) M60 machine gun replaced the esteemed Brownings, but would be found wanting. The M60E1 has proven to be as good a gun as any NATO GPMG. In Vietnam, in thousands of fire fights, the M60E1 gave the U.S. Infantryman the handheld firepower he needed. Each standard Infantry Company was issued six M60 machine guns.

The M60 machine gun was never deemed fully satisfactory by its users despite efforts by both the Marine Corps and the Army to correct its many deficiencies. In the 1980s the M60 was replaced by the Belgian Fabrique Nationale 7.62mm MAG-58 general purpose machine gun, re-designated as the M240. The M60 series is being replaced by the M240B 7.62mm medium machine gun.

The M60/MK43 7.62mm Machine Gun within the NSW Inventory has proven to be less than reliable, NSW users have lost confidence in the weapon and the weapon is becoming logistically unsupportable. USSOCOM approved a MNS/ORD on 21 March 2001 for a new Lightweight 7.62mm Machine Gun (LMG).

Aircraft Mounts

The M144 armament subsystem consists of a left and right side mount marked "LEFT" or "RIGHT" respectively. Each is riveted inside the side window frame of a UH-60 series helicopter. Attached to the mount is the M60D machine gun with an ejection control bag and an ammunition can assembly. The mount assembly is made up of the pintle mount assembly, release arm assembly, and support mount.






Saco Defense, U.S. Ordnance



10.5 kg (23.1 lb)


1,077 mm (42 in)

Barrel length

560 mm (22 in)


7.62x51mm NATO


Gas-operated, open bolt

Rate of fire

~550 rounds/min

Muzzle velocity

853 m/s (~2,800 ft/s)

Effective range

1,100 m (~1,200 yd)

Maximum range

3,725 m (~4,074 yd)



Standard M134D

The Dillon M134D Gatling Gun is the finest small caliber, defense suppression weapon available.  It is a six barreled, electrically driven machine gun chambered in 7.62mm NATO and fires at a fixed rate of 3,000 shots per minute. 

Gatling Guns typically feed from a 3,000 or 4,400 round magazine. They are capable of long periods of continuous fire without threat or damage to the weapon making them an excellent choice for defensive suppression.

Dillon Guns are reliable.  The M134D has system life in excess of one million rounds and an average time between stoppage of 30,000 rounds.  In the unlikely event of a stoppage the weapon can be serviced and made operational again in under a minute.  The multi barrel design means that each barrel only experiences a 500 round per minute rate of fire. This allows for repeated long bursts of fire and a barrel group life of 100,000 rounds.


Fixed Forward Fire:  56.9 lbs

Crew Served Gun:  66.1 lbs 


Black Hawk Mount

Colt M4 and M4A1 carbine 
Assault rifle (USA)

The Colt company developed various carbine versions of the basic AR-15 / M16 rifle since 1970s. These carbines were intended for all markets - military, law enforcement, civilian. US Military (and some other armies, most notably - Israeli Self-Defense Forces) had adopted the Colt CAR-15 Commando and XM-177 carbines during the 1970s and 1980s. But early in 1990s the old idea of replacing the pistols in the hands of the troops with some more effective, shoulder fired weapon, rise again in the heads of the US Military. In fact, this idea can be dated back to the US M1 Carbine of 1941, but good ideas never die. So, in the 1994, US Army adopted the Colt Model 720 selective-fire carbine (basically, a shortened M16A2 rifle), as the US M4 Carbine.

This weapon was intended to replace in service some M9 pistols, as well as some aged M3A1 submachine guns and some M16A2 rifles. New weapon was much more handy and comfortable to carry, than the long M16A2 rifle, so the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) put its eye on the M4 as a possible universal weapon for all Special Operations community. For this purpose M4 was latter modified with the M16A3-style flat-top receiver with integral Picatinny-type accessory rail instead of the M16A2/M4-type integral carrying handle.

The other change in the M4A1, when compared to M4, is that its trigger unit is modified to fire full-auto instead of the three shots bursts. Specially for the SOCOM M4A1s US Naval Surface Warfare Center developed a SOPMOD M4 kit, that consisted of the M4A1 carbine equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards.

The kit also includes a variety of the add-on goodies, such as various sights (ACOG 4X telescopic, ACOG Reflex red-dot, detachable back-up open sights), laser pointers (visible and infra-red), detachable sound suppressor (silencer), modified M203 40mm grenade launcher (with shortened barrel and improved sights). The kit also included a detachable front grip and tactical light.

From the first sight, the M4A1 SOPMOD is an ideal Special Operations weapon - handy, flexible, with good firepower. But the latest experience in the Afghanistan showed that the M4 has some flaws. First of all, the shorter barrel commands the lower bullet velocities, and this significantly decreased the effective range of the 5.56mm bullet. Second, the M4 barrel and the forend rapidly overheats.

Third, the shortened barrel resulted in the shortened gas system, which works under greater pressures, than in M16A2 rifle. This increases the rate of fire and produces more stress on the moving parts, decreasing the reliability. While adequate as a Personal Defense Weapon for the non-infantry troops (vehicle crews, clerks, staff officers etc), M4A1 is, by some accounts, less than ideal for the Special Operations troops, at least in its present state. The idea of the complete re-arming of the US Army with the M4 as a money-saving measure, also is somewhat dubious.

: 5.56mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 838 mm (stock extended); 757 mm (stock fully collapsed)
Barrel length: 370 mm
Weight: 2.52 kg without magazine; 3.0 kg with magazine loaded with 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 700 - 950 rounds per minute
Maximum effective range: 360 m

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28 avril 2011 4 28 /04 /avril /2011 00:55





Air Force Special Operations Command

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), with headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was established May 22, 1990. AFSOC is a major command and the Air Force component of U.S. Special Operations Command, a unified command.


AFSOC is America's specialized air power. It is a step ahead in a changing world, delivering special operations combat power anytime, anywhere.

The command is committed to continual improvement to provide Air Force special operations forces for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified commands to conduct: unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, counter-proliferation, foreign internal defense, information and psychological operations, personnel recovery and counter-terrorism operations.

Personnel and Resources

AFSOC has approximately 12,500 active, reserve and national guard personnel, 20 percent of whom are stationed overseas. The command's three active duty flying units epitomize the composite wing/group concept. They are composed of over 100 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.


The 16th Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, is the oldest and most seasoned unit in AFSOC. It includes the 6th Special Operations Squadron, which is the wing's combat aviation advisory unit, the 4th SOS, which flies the AC-130U gunship; the 8th SOS, which flies the MC-130E Combat Talon I, the 15th SOS, which flies the MC-130H Combat Talon II, the 16th SOS, which flies the AC-130H Spectre gunship,
 the 20th SOS, which flies the MH-53J Pave Low III helicopter, and the 55th SOS, which flies the MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.

One squadron, the 9th SOS, is located on nearby Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. and flies the MC-130P Combat Shadow. 










The 352nd Special Operations Group, at RAF Mildenhall, England, is the designated Air Force component for Special Operations Command Europe. Its squadrons are the 7th SOS, which flies the MC-130H, the 21st SOS, equipped with the MH-53J, the 67th SOS, with the MC-130P, and the 321st Special Tactics Squadron.

The 353rd Special Operations Group, at Kadena Air Base, Japan, is the Air Force component for Special Operations Command Pacific. The squadrons are the 1st SOS, which flies the MC-130E Combat Talon II, the 17th SOS, with the MC-130P Combat Shadow, the 31st SOS at Osan Air Base, Korea, which flies the MH-53J Pave Low helicopter. and the 320th STS.

The 720th Special Tactics Group, with headquarters at Hurlburt Field has special operations combat controllers and pararescuemen who work jointly in special tactics teams. Its squadrons include the 21st STS and 24th STS at Pope AFB, N.C, the 22nd STS at McChord AFB, Wash, and the 23rd STS and the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field.

Their missions include: air traffic control for establishing air assault landing zones, close air support for strike aircraft and gunship missions, establishing casualty collection stations, providing trauma care for injured personnel and tactical meteorological forecasting for Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, provides special operations-related education to Department of Defense personnel, government agencies and allied nations. Subjects covered in its 17 courses range from regional affairs and cross-cultural communications to antiterrorism awareness, revolutionary warfare and psychological operations.

The 18th Flight Test Squadron, with headquarters at Hurlburt Field, provides expertise to improve the capabilities of special operations forces worldwide. The center conducts operational and maintenance suitability tests and evaluations for equipment, concepts, tactics and procedures for employment of special operations forces. Many of these tests are joint command and joint service projects.

Air Reserve Components

AFSOC gains some air reserve component units when the organizations are mobilized. One is the 919th Special Operations Wing (AFRC) at Duke Field, Fla. Its 711th SOS flies the MC-130E Combat Talon, while its 5th SOS flies the MC-130P Combat Shadow.
Air National Guard units include the 193rd Special Operations Wing, Harrisburg International Airport, Pa. the 123rd Special Tactics Flight, Standiford Field, Ky. the 107th Air Weather Flight, Selfridge ANGB, Mich. the 146th AWF, Pittsburgh, Pa. and the 181st AWF, Dallas, Texas.




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The AC-130 gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Other missions include perimeter and point defense, escort, landing, drop and extraction zone support, forward air control, limited command and control, and combat search and rescue.

These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended periods, at night and in adverse weather. The AC-130 has been used effectively for over thirty years to take out ground defenses and targets. One drawback to using the AC-130 is that it is typically only used in night assaults because of its poor maneuverability and limited orientations relative to the target during attack.

During Vietnam, gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. This enabled the successful assault of Point Salines airfield via airdrop and airland of friendly forces.

The gunships had a primary role during Operation Just Cause in Panama by destroying Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters and numerous command and control facilities by surgical employment of ordnance in an urban environment. As the only close air support platform in the theater, Spectres were credited with saving the lives of many friendly personnel. Both the H-models and A-models played key roles.

 The fighting was opened by a gunship attack on the military headquarters of the dictator of Panama and the outcome was never in doubt. All objectives were quickly accomplished and democracy was restored to Panama.

During Operation Desert Storm, Spectres provided air base defense and close air support for ground forces. Both the AC-130A and AC-130H gunships were part of the international force assembled in the Persian Gulf region to drive out of Kuwait which Saddam Hussein had invaded in early August 1990.

In the following January, the allies launched the actual war known as Desert Storm following the Desert Shield build-up. Victory was accomplished in a few weeks and Kuwait was set free of the foreign invader. Iraq shot down one AC-130H gunship. It resulted in the loss of all 14 crewmembers, the largest single air power loss of the war. Post war restriction on Iraq required the presence of gunships to enforce them.

AC-130s were also used during Operations Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces. The gunships played a pivotal role during operations in support of the NATO mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, providing air interdiction against key targets in the Sarajevo area.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), on behalf of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) requested information in 2005 that may lead to the acquisition and qualification of a family of 120mm mortar ammunition for enhancing the AC-130 Gunship Lethality and Survivability. Sources Sought N00178-05-Q-1925 was posted 18 August 2005 to Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). NSWCDD and AFSOC are seeking information on any (guided or conventional) 120mm mortar round that is currently fielded, currently a Program of Record (POR), or technology mature enough to enter into an ACTD or similar demonstration.

The 120mm mortar concept shall offer benefits to the AC-130 fleet through: Employment flexibility through use of munitions currently available; Greater lethality through more fragmentation weight and greater blast damage; Precision strike capability; Increased standoff range and attack altitude while maintaining responsiveness; Reduction in collateral damage; and Reduction in danger close distance when supporting troops in contact.

For the 105-mm gun, 100 rounds weighs 4200 lbs. The recoil load is about 10,900 lbs, with a gun Recoiling Weight of 1,465 lbs. The muzzle pressure is 3,560 psi. It is a legacy system being phased out of the US Army inventory. There is little guided technology ongoing. For the 120-mm mortar, 100 Rounds weighs 3200 lbs. This weapon has a recoil Load of ~5,600 lbs with a gun weight of 1,315 lbs. The muzzle pressure is 1,620 psi. This is the leading FCS fire support weapon and the Stryker Brigade Combat Team fire support weapon. There is a lot of Guided Munition development work ongoing.










  AC-130H Spectre AC-130U Spooky
Primary Function: Close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance
Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Power Plant: Four Allison turboprop engines T56-A-15
Thrust: Each engine 4,910 horsepower
Length: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.8 meters)
Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)
Range: 1,500 statute miles (1,300 nautical miles)
Unlimited with air refueling
2,200 nautical miles
Unlimited with air refueling
Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,576 meters) 30,000 ft.
Speed:                  300 mph (Mach 0.40) (at sea level)
Armament: two M61 20mm Vulcan cannons
with 3,000 rounds
one L60 40mm Bofors cannon
with 256 rounds
one M102 105mm howitzer
with 100 rounds
One 25mm GAU-12 Gatling gun
(1,800 rounds per minute)
one L60 40mm Bofors cannon
(100 shots per minute)

120-mm Mortar
  • AN/AAQ-24 Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM)
  • AN/AAR-44 infrared warning receiver
  • AN/AAR-47 missile warning system
  • AN/ALE-47 flare and chaff dispensing system
  • AN/ALQ-172 Electronic Countermeasure System
  • AN/ALQ-196 Jammer
  • AN/ALR-69 radar warning receiver
  • AN/APR-46A panoramic RF receiver
  • QRC-84-02 infrared countermeasures system
Crew: 14 -- five officers (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer); nine enlisted (flight engineer, loadmaster, low-light TV operator, infrared detection set operator, five aerial gunners) 13 total. Five officers (pilot, copilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer); 8 enlisted (flight engineer, All Light Level TV operator, infrared- detection set operator, four airborne gunners, loadmaster)
Date Deployed: 1972 1995
Inventory: Active force, 8;
Reserve, 0;
ANG, 0
13 aircraft assigned to 16th Special Operation Wing's 4th Special Operations Squadron.











M4A1 carbine 

M4 carbine with older style M203 40mm grenade launcher.

M4A1 carbine with RIS-mounted forward handgrip and the AN-PVS4 night vision sight


Colt M4 and M4A1 carbine / assault rifle (USA)

The Colt company developed various carbine versions of the basic AR-15 / M16 rifle since 1970s. These carbines were intended for all markets - military, law enforcement, civilian. US Military (and some other armies, most notably - Israeli Self-Defense Forces) had adopted the Colt CAR-15 Commando and XM-177 carbines during the 1970s and 1980s.

But early in 1990s the old idea of replacing the pistols in the hands of the troops with some more effective, shoulder fired weapon, rise again in the heads of the US Military. In fact, this idea can be dated back to the US M1 Carbine of 1941, but good ideas never die. So, in the 1994, US Army adopted the Colt Model 720 selective-fire carbine (basically, a shortened M16A2 rifle), as the US M4 Carbine.

This weapon was intended to replace in service some M9 pistols, as well as some aged M3A1 submachine guns and some M16A2 rifles. New weapon was much more handy and comfortable to carry, than the long M16A2 rifle, so the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) put its eye on the M4 as a possible universal weapon for all Special Operations community.

For this purpose M4 was latter modified with the M16A3-style flat-top receiver with integral Picatinny-type accessory rail instead of the M16A2/M4-type integral carrying handle. The other change in the M4A1, when compared to M4, is that its trigger unit is modified to fire full-auto instead of the three shots bursts. Specially for the SOCOM M4A1s US Naval Surface Warfare Center developed a SOPMOD M4 kit, that consisted of the M4A1 carbine equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards.

The kit also includes a variety of the add-on goodies, such as various sights (ACOG 4X telescopic, ACOG Reflex red-dot, detachable back-up open sights), laser pointers (visible and infra-red), detachable sound suppressor (silencer), modified M203 40mm grenade launcher (with shortened barrel and improved sights). The kit also included a detachable front grip and tactical light.

From the first sight, the M4A1 SOPMOD is an ideal Special Operations weapon - handy, flexible, with good firepower. But the latest experience in the Afghanistan showed that the M4 has some flaws. First of all, the shorter barrel commands the lower bullet velocities, and this significantly decreased the effective range of the 5.56mm bullet. Second, the M4 barrel and the forend rapidly overheats.

Third, the shortened barrel resulted in the shortened gas system, which works under greater pressures, than in M16A2 rifle. This increases the rate of fire and produces more stress on the moving parts, decreasing the reliability. While adequate as a Personal Defense Weapon for the non-infantry troops (vehicle crews, clerks, staff officers etc), M4A1 is, by some accounts, less than ideal for the Special Operations troops, at least in its present state. The idea of the complete re-arming of the US Army with the M4 as a money-saving measure, also is somewhat dubious.

: 5.56mm NATO
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 838 mm (stock extended); 757 mm (stock fully collapsed)
Barrel length: 370 mm
Weight: 2.52 kg without magazine; 3.0 kg with magazine loaded with 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 700 - 950 rounds per minute
Maximum effective range: 360 m

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31 octobre 2010 7 31 /10 /octobre /2010 00:43




VF-84 Jolly Rogers


1 July 1955 - 1 October 1995

When VF-84 was first established on 1 July, 1955, at NAS Oceana, they were known as the Vagabonds and the FJ-3 Fury was their mount. The name Jolly Rogers originated from the Fighting Seventeen of World War II fame. VF-17 was one of the first Navy fighter squadrons to receive the F-4Us, they wanted a squadron insignia which would live up to the Corsair name--hence the famous skull-and-crossbones were born. After the disestablishment of VF-17 in April of 1944, the VF-61 became the new Jolly Rogers. 

In 1959, VF-61 was disestablished and the then VF-84 Vagabonds requested to carry on the name and insignia of the Jolly Rogers. Approval came down in April 1960 and the skull-and-crossbones were soon adorning their F-8U Crusaders. 

VF-84 traded their F-8Us for F-4Bs in 1964 and subsequently they had also flown the F-4J and F-4N variants of the venerable Phantom. The squadron began its transition to the F-14A in early 1976 and after the transition was complete, they embarked on their first major cruise with the new aircraft aboard USS Nitmitz (CVN-68) in December of 1977. 

The squadron received the first TARPS pods of the fleet in 1979 and was a pioneer in using the Tomcat as a reconnaissance platform. The Jolly Rogers also played a prominent role in the 1980 motion picture Final Countdown, which propelled the skull-and-crossbones and the F-14 Tomcat to international stardom. 

In December 1990, aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt (CVN-71) was called upon to join USS Ranger and USS Midway in the Persian Gulf. Throughout the Gulf War, VF-84 flew combat air patrols for the fleet, escorted the air wing's strike aircraft, and performed TARPS missions to collect bomb damage assessments. After the war, the squadron flew 111 more sorties in support of Operation Provide Comfort before the Roosevelt was finally relieved by USS Forrestal in June 1991. 

The Jolly Rogers have always sported some of the most recognizable squadron markings in the world: Sinister white skull-and-crossbones on all-black tails, with gold bands wrapped around the tip of the tail fins, and black bands with gold V's run down the sides of the forward fuselage (these were from the Vagabonds days).

The squadron's prized mascot is a set of skull and crossbones enclosed in a glass encasement. "Passing of the bones" from the outgoing skipper to the incoming skipper is a time-honored Jolly Rogers tradition. The bones are supposedly the remains of ENS Jack Ernie of VF-17.

 Ernie was killed during the Okinawa invasion in World War II, as his flaming aircraft spiralled towards earth, he made one last radio transmission asked "to be remembered with the skull-and-crossbones". Ernie's family later presented the squadron with the set of skull and crossbones and asked the squadron to fulfill Ernie's last wish. He may be lost fifty some years ago, but ENS Jack Ernie's spirit lived on until this day. 

The post Cold War downsizing of the Navy has brought about the disestablishment of many squadrons; unfortunately VF-84 was no exception. The squadron spent the last eighteen months of its existence participating in numerous joint service operations, sending its crew to career-advancing venues, honing their ACM, strike, and TARPS skills, and they even made a memorable appearance in yet another motion picture--Executive Decision. 

Not too long after VF-84's disestablishment on 1 October, 1995, the VF-103 Sluggers adopted the name and insignia of the Jolly Rogers and the "bones" were passed on to them. No matter how times may change, there will always be someone to carry on the pride and tradition of the Jolly Rogers!





F-14 TOMCAT - A to D


The F-14 Tomcat is the US Navy's carrier-based two-seat air defence, intercept, strike and reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft was developed by Northrop Grumman to replace the F-4 Phantom fighter and entered service with the US Navy in 1972. In 1987, the F-14B with an upgraded engine went into production. Further upgrades in the radar, avionics and missile capability resulted in the F-14D Super Tomcat, which first flew in 1988.

The US Navy operated 338 F-14 aircraft of all three variants, but the aircraft is being replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. In July 2006, the F-14 made its last carrier launch and, on September 22nd 2006 the US Navy officially retired the F-14 Tomcat.

The variable sweep wing and the twin almost upright tail fins of the F-14 Tomcat give the aircraft its distinctive appearance. The variable sweep wings are set at 20° for take-off, loitering and landing, and automatically change to a maximum sweep of 68°, which reduces drag for high subsonic to supersonic speeds. The wings are swept at 75° for aircraft carrier stowage.


Catseye night-vision goggles have been installed in the F-14 since 1996 and are supplied by BAE SYSTEMS. The F-14D front cockpit is equipped with a head-up display and two multifunction flat-screen displays. The rear cockpit for the Radar Intercept Officer is equipped with a display that presents fused data from the AN/APG-71 radar and from the suite of aircraft sensors.

82 US Navy F-14Bs are being upgraded with Flight Visions, Inc. Sparrow Hawk HUD and FV-3000 modular mission display system, which will improve reliability and night-vision capability. The cockpit is equipped with the NACES zero/zero ejection seat supplied by Martin Baker Aircraft Company.


The F-14 is armed with a General Electric Vulcan M61A-1 20mm gun with 675 rounds of ammunition, which is mounted internally in the forward section of the fuselage on the port side. The aircraft has eight hardpoints for carrying ordnance: four on the fuselage and two each side under the fixed section of the wings.

The aircraft can carry the short-, medium- and long-range air-to-air missiles AIM-9, AIM-7 and AIM-54, and air-to-ground ordnance including the Rockeye bomb and CBU cluster bombs. Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow is a medium-range radar-guided air-to-air missile with range of 45km.

Lockheed Martin/Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile with a range of 8km. Raytheon AIM-54 Phoenix is a long-range air-to-air missile with a range of 150km. The F-14 can carry up to six Phoenix missiles and is capable of firing the missiles almost simultaneously at six different targets. The Phoenix missile was retired from US Navy service in October 2004.

The F-14D can carry four Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). First operational deployment of a precision-guided JDAM from an F-14 was in March 2003.

In 1995, the US Navy installed the Lockheed Martin LANTIRN precision strike navigation and targeting pod on the F-14. The LANTIRN targeting pod includes a dual-field-of-view FLIR and a laser designator/rangefinder. The navigation pod also contains a FLIR and terrain-following radar. A Lockheed Martin infrared search and track system is installed in a sensor pod under the nose.


The F-14D is equipped with a Raytheon AN/APG-71 digital multi-mode radar, which provides non-cooperative target identification, and incorporates low sidelobe techniques and enhanced frequency agility.

The F-14 carries a tactical air reconnaissance pod system (TARPS), which carries a Recon/Optical KS-87B forward or vertical frame camera, and a low-altitude panoramic view KA-99 camera, together with a Lockheed Martin AN/AAD-5 infrared linescanner.

 The pod is equipped with a digital imaging system for the transmission of near real-time imagery to the aircraft carrier command centre via a secure UHF radio data link. To supplement TARPS, US Navy F-14s are also being fitted with a fast tactical imagery (FTI) system, which is a line-of-sight system for targeting and reconnaissance.


The aircraft is equipped with the BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) and Lockheed Martin AN/ALE-39 and AN/ALE-29 chaff, flare and decoy dispensers. The Super Tomcat has a Raytheon AN/ALR-67(V)4 radar warning system and BAE Systems Information & Electronic Warfare Systems (IEWS) (formerly Sanders) AN/ALQ-126 jammer.


The F-14B and the F-14D have two General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofan engines, rated at 72kN and 120kN with afterburn. There are five internal fuel tanks, which carry 9,000 litres and are located in the fixed section and the outer section of the wings, and in the rear section of the fuselage between the engines.



2 Turbofan Engines

Engine Model

Pratt & Whitney

Engine Power (each)
dry/with Afterburner

55,6 / 93 kN

12500 / 20907 lbf





2.517 km/h

1.359 kts




Empty Weight

18.036 kg

39.763 lbs

max. Takeoff Weight

33.724 kg

74.349 lbs




Wing Span

19,54 m

64,1 ft


19,10 m

62,7 ft


4,88 m

16,0 ft




First Flight


Production Status

out of production

Total Production





Data for (Version)

Grumman F-14A Tomcat


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27 octobre 2010 3 27 /10 /octobre /2010 00:10














M151 Jeep
M151 Multi-Utility Tactical Truck (MUTT)
M151 Fast Attack Vehicle


The M151A2 1/4 ton utility truck is the last of the vehicles commonly called jeeps and the last of the series of 1/4 tons used by the Army. Everything since has been larger. Built by Ford and AM General from 1960 to 1969 they saw service with all branches of service and served until the mid 80's when they were replaced by the HUMVEE. The vehicle had a very low silhouette and was powered by a 71 hp 4 cylinder in line engine and was 4 wheel drive. It had an independent coil spring front and rear suspension which gave it an excellent off road performance and a more comfortable ride. Unfortunately the suspension made it subject to rollovers in fast, hard turns when in the hands of inexperienced drivers so it was redesigned.


The M151 Truck, Utility: ¼-Ton, 4x4, series of vehicles are commonly referred to as Jeeps. In use since 1979, various models of the M-151 have seen successful military service in 15 different North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries. The M151 family of vehicles includes M151, M151A1, M151A1C, M151A2, and M825 utility trucks and M718 and M718A1 ambulances. The High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) is the replacement vehicle for the M151 series jeeps. The current fleet of light tactical vehicles, the aging M151-A2 Fast Attack Vehicle and the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), are approaching the end of service life.


The Marine Corp's M151 Fast Attack Vehicle are a variation of the old Willys-style jeep. This light-weight, all-terrain vehicle capable of high-speed, cross-country travel with high maneuverability and agility. The vehicle serves as a weapons or communications platform and carrier for anti-armor, reconnaissance, and other missions that require speed, agility, and all-terrain capability.


FAVs are refitted to mount weapons systems ranging from the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun or the M-240G machine gun to the tube launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided [TOW] antitank missile. The TOW 2 guided missile system can be either tripod mounted or mounted on a pedestal in an M151 truck.


Although old, it's small size allowed it to be carried internally in the CH-53. FAVs are part of the Marine ground combat element's helicopter assault company, with the TOW variants being manned by weapons company Marines. The FAV is smaller, faster and lighter than the HMMWV, and it is not possible to load a HMMWV on a helicopter and insert it with a small unit. It can be deployed to the battlefield by loading it and the Marines that man it in a CH-53E Super Stallion.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) combined heavy firepower and quick-strike capabilities with helicopter-inserted, light infantry forces during the early 1997 Operation Silver Wake noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) in Tirana, Albania.


The few remaining M151 FAVs were modified by the creative and resourceful Sgt. David Ferry to mount a HMMWV ring mount on the roll cage. The FAV was not just a motor pool experiment as it saw service when the 3/8 Battalion Landing Team, 26th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed to Kosovo in 1999.







In 1980 the Army's 9th Infantry Division was selected as the test unit for the new High Technology Light Division (HTLD). The HTLD was designed to fight in the deserts of Southwest Asia. Critical pieces of equipment needed to realize the division concept were never available. The FAVs it wanted were neither authorized nor funded by Congress. One problem was that surrogate equipment became standard during its interim phase. For example, the FAV was replaced by the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).


An Army health hazard assessment revealed whole-body vibration as a significant health hazard. Vehicle crew members also suffered kidney and back injuries attributable to shock and vibration sustained during testing. The health hazard assessment report recommended redesigning the seats to include the addition of more padding to reduce both vibration and shock, redesigning the vehicle suspension system to increase its shock absorbency, and entering FAV operators into a medical surveillance program tailored to the identification of whole-body vibration health effects.


Jeeps are built for off road use and could be unsafe at high speed. The rear suspension system on M151 vehicles was designed for rough terrain usage by stabilizing the stock. Military personnel operating the M151 are given special training in use of the vehicle. On paved roads, where the general public would normally use a vehicle, these vehicles are readily subject to rollover accidents. The Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. DoT, identified the M151 vehicles as a hazard to the safety of public highway users. Therefore, for public safety, DOD renders them inoperable prior to sale (i.e., cut or crush the unitized body and suspension system)

The M-151’s tendency to tip over as well as the fact that it used flammable unleaded fuel, made it a safety liability. The M-151 didn’t quite have the mobility, speed, or durability to get Marines into the environments they will need to be in during the 21st century.



M151 (1960) - Initial version. Because of its rear suspension design it had a dangerous tendency to flip over when cornered too aggressively by unaware drivers. The swing-axle rear suspension lay-out (comparable with that of the VW Beetle) could result in big rear wheel camber changes, causing drastic oversteer and a subsequent roll-over.

M718 - Front-line ambulance variant.

M151A1 (1964) - Second version: minor changes in the rear suspension, mostly aimed at allowing the vehicle to carry heavier loads. Addition of turn signals to front fenders. The essentials of the rear suspension remained unchanged and the same applies to the handling problems in corners.


M151A1C - The M151A1C equipped with a 106 mm recoilless rifle on a pedestal-mount. Capable of carrying six rounds of ammunition and weapon tools. Including the driver, it provides space for two men and has a cruising range of 442 km or 275 miles.


M151A1D - Tactical nuclear variant.


M718A1 - Front-line ambulance variant.

M151A2 (1970) - The A2 fielded a significantly revised rear suspension that greatly improved safety in fast cornering. The MUTT now had Semi-trailing arm suspension comparable to what most late eighties premium German cars had. Many smaller upgrades including improved turn signals. The A2 can be identified by the large combination turn signal/blackout lights on the front fenders, which also had been modified to mount the larger lights (earlier models had flat front fenders).


M151A2 FAV - Fast Assault Vehicle variant.


M151A2 TOW - tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided [TOW] anti-tank missile variant..

M825 - Variant with M40 105mm Recoilless Rifle mounted on rear.
M1051 - Firefighting variant which saw exclusive use by the Marine Corps.
MRC108 - Forward Air Control variant, with multiband communications equipment.




id m151a1 usmc 1










westmoreland 700














> 100,000 (1959 - 1982)


M38 & M38A1


AM General HMMWV


1/4 ton truck, four wheel drive


4-cyl., 141,5 (2,320 cc)
71 hp (52 kW) at 4000 rpm / 128 ft·lbf (173 Nm) at 1800 rpm


4-speed + reverse
transfer case only to engage / disengage front wheel drive


85 inch / 216 cm


133 inch / 338 cm


64 inch / 163 cm


71 inch (180 cm) with top up
reducible to 53 inch (135 cm)

Curb weight

2,400 lb (~1070 kg)


M422 'Mighty Mite' contemporary



The Vietnam War was a Cold War military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955  to 15 May 1975 when the Mayaguez Incident concluded and two weeks after the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.

The Mayaguez incident involving the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia on 12–15 May 1975, marked the last official battle of the United States (U.S.) involvement in the Vietnam War. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States and other anti-communist nations.

The Viet Cong, a lightly-armed South Vietnamese communist-controlled common front, largely fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The North Vietnamese Army engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units into battle. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery and airstrikes.
The United States government viewed involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and part of their wider strategy of containment. The North Vietnamese government viewed the war as a colonial war, fought initially against France, backed by the United States, and later against South Vietnam, which it regarded as a US puppet state.
United States military advisors arrived beginning in 1950. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with U.S. troop levels tripling in 1961 and tripling again in 1962.
U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Operations spanned borders, with Laos and Cambodia heavily bombed. Involvement peaked in 1968 at the time of the Tet Offensive. After this, U.S. ground forces were withdrawn as part of a policy called Vietnamization. Despite the Paris Peace Accords, signed by all parties in January 1973, fighting continued.
The Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress prohibited use of American military after 15 August 1973, unless the president secured congressional approval in advance.
The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese army in April 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War. North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.
The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities ,including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, between 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers.















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Published by lafoy - dans Various Models
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18 octobre 2010 1 18 /10 /octobre /2010 00:20











Deutsches Afrikakorps

The German Afrikakorps (German: Deutsches Afrikakorps, DAK listen ) was the original German expeditionary force in Libya and Egypt during the North African Campaign of World War II. The force was kept as a distinct formation and became the main German contribution to Panzer Army Africa which evolved into the German-Italian Panzer Army (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee) and Army Group Africa.


The Afrikakorps was formed upon the arrival on February 12, 1941, of General Erwin Rommel after the German Armed Forces High Command or Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) and Army High Command or Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) had decided to send a "blocking force" to Libya to support the Italian army, which had been routed by a Commonwealth Force's counter-offensive led by the British Eighth Army, in Operation Compass.

The German "blocking force", commanded by Rommel, at first consisted of only the 5./leichte "Afrika" Panzer Regiment which was quickly cobbled together from the second regiment of the 3./Panzer Division and various other small units attached for water treatment and medical care. These elements were organized into the 5th Light Division when they arrived in Africa from February 10–March 12, 1941.

In late April and into May the 5th Light Division was joined by transference of the various elements constituting the 15th Panzer Division from Italy, though it did not completely arrive until after Rommel had made a counter-offensive and re-taken most of Cyrenaica and then subsequently gone back over to the defensive. At this time the Afrikakorps consisted of the two divisions plus various smaller supporting units, and was officially subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa (though Rommel had conducted his offensive without any authorization). 

In August, 1941, the German 5th Light Division was redesignated 21st Panzer Division or commonly written as 21./PD, still attached to the enlarged entity still known as the Afrikakorps  





During the summer of 1941 OKW and Oberkommando des Heeres / OKH invested more command structure in Africa by creating a new headquarters called Panzer Group Africa (Panzergruppe Afrika). On August 15 Panzer Group Africa was activated with Rommel in command, and command of the Afrikakorps was turned over to Ludwig Crüwell. The Panzer Group controlled the Afrikakorps plus some additional German units that were sent to Africa, as well as two corps of Italian units. (A German "group" was approximately the equivalent of an army in other militaries, and in fact Panzer Group Africa was redesignated as German Panzer Army Africa (Panzerarmee Afrika) on January 30, 1942.)

After the defeat at El Alamein and the Allied invasion in Morocco and Algeria Operation Torch, OKW once more upgraded its presence in Africa by creating the XC Army Corps in Tunisia on November 19, 1942, and then creating a new 5th Panzer Army headquarters there as well on December 8, under the command of Colonel-General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim.




On February 23, 1943 Panzer Army Africa, (now called the German-Italian Panzer Army,) was redesignated as the Italian 1st Army and put under the command of Italian general Giovanni Messe, while Rommel was placed in command of a new Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika) created to control both the Italian 1st Army and the 5th Panzer Army. The remnants of the Afrikakorps and other surviving units of the 1st Italian Army retreated into Tunisia. Command of the Army Group was turned over to von Arnim in March. On May 13 remnants of the Afrikakorps along with all other remaining Axis forces in North Africa surrendered.



Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-782-0041-32, Nordafrika, schlafende










01 - M-35 steel helmet in desert camo

02 - M-40 olive jacket with white markings (infantry)

03 - M-40 breeches

04 - M-40 shorts

05 - main belt and webbing

06 - brown leather ammo pouches

[ 转自铁血社区 ]

07 - Tropenhelm cork helmet with Heeres insignia

08 - M-24 grenade

09 - 7,92 mm ammo pack

10 - 7,92 mm Mauser 98k rifle

11 - Seitengewehr 84/98 bayonet

12 - breadbag

[ 转自铁血社区 ]

13 - brown bakelite canteen ("coconut")

14 - M-31 mess kit

15 - M-31 tent cloth

16 - tropical boots

17 - RAF aircraft recognition book  












Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel
The Desert Fox / Der Wustenfuchs
(1891 - 1944)






Erwin Rommel was born on November 15th of 1891 in Heidenheim an der Brentz near Ulm in the state of Wurttemberg. His father was a schoolteacher and his mother was a daughter of a former president of the government of Wurttemberg. Rommel planned to be an engineer but joined the army in July of 1910.He enlisted with his local infantry regiment, the 124th (6th Wurttemberg) Infantry Regiment as an officer cadet. After three months, Erwin Rommel was promoted to the rank of Corporal and after six to Sergeant. In March of 1911, he went to the officers' military school in Danzig (Gdansk). In January of 1912,Rommel was commissioned and returned to his regiment in Weingarten. While he was in Danzig, Erwin Rommel met and fell in love with Lucie Maria Mollin and they became formally engaged in 1915 and both were married in 1916. 

On Christmas Eve of 1928, their only child, Manfred was born. Since 1912, until the outbreak of World War I, Erwin Rommel served as regimental officer in charge of recruiting at Weingarten. On August 2nd of 1914, Rommel's regiment marched out to war and Rommel joined them few days later because he had to stay behind in Weingarten. Since the beginning of his military career, Erwin Rommel showed signs of bravery while attacking the enemy against the odds. 

In September of 1914, Rommel was wounded in the leg when, he charged three Frenchmen with a bayonet because he run out of ammunition. After returning to the frontlines in the Argonne area, in January of 1915, Erwin Rommel received his first decoration for bravery - Iron Cross Class I. In September/October of 1915, Rommel was transferred to the mountain unit for training. In late 1916, Erwin Rommel was posted to the Eastern (Carpathian) Front, in the area of Siebenburgen, where he was to fight with Rumanians. 

In May of 1917, Erwin Rommel was transferred to the Western Front, in the area of Hilsen Ridge, and in August back to Carpathian Front, where he took part in the assaults on Mount Cosna and Caporetto. For his outstanding action at Caporetto, Erwin Rommel was awarded the "Pour le Merite" and was promoted to the rank of Captain. Rommel was one of few junior officers awarded the "Pour le Merite", which was reserved for generals. Shortly after, Erwin Rommel was posted away to a junior staff appointment, where he remained to the end of the war. 

In mid December of 1918, Captain Erwin Rommel was reposted to his old regiment at Weingarten. In the summer of 1919, Rommel was sent to Friedrichshafen to command internal security company and in January of 1921, to Stuttgart where he commanded and infantry regiment. Erwin Rommel remained in Stuttgart until October of 1929, when he was posted as an instructor to the infantry school in Dresden. At the time, Rommel wrote and published his book "Infantry Attacks" ("Infanterie greift an"), which was based on his experiences during World War I. 


In October of 1933, Erwin Rommel was promoted to the rank of Major and was sent to Goslar, where he commanded a mountain battalion. In October of 1935, Rommel was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and received the position of the teacher in War Academy in Potsdam. In November of 1938, Erwin Rommel received the command of War Academy in Wiener Neustadt, which left shortly before the outbreak of World War II. 

In September of 1939, Erwin Rommel was promoted to the rank of Major General and received the command of Adolf Hitler's Bodyguard for the duration of the Polish Campaign. At the same time, Rommel realized the full potential of Panzer Divisions and tactics of Blitzkrieg. After the Polish Campaign, Hitler allowed Rommel to choose what he would like to command and Erwin Rommel asked for a Panzer Division.

On February 15th of 1940, Rommel received the command of 7th Panzer Division, although he had no practical experience in Panzer warfare. In preparations for German Invasion of Low Countries and France, codenamed Fall Gelb, Rommel's 7th Panzer Division became the part of 15th Panzer Corps, which was positioned, in the central sector. The 15th Panzer Corps was under the command of General Hoth. 

On May 10th of 1940, Germany invaded the Western Europe. On May 12th, 7th Panzer Division reached Dinant and on May 13th, after heavy fighting crossed the River Meuse. 

On May 15th, Rommel virtually unopposed reached Philipiville and continued his advance westwards, passing Avesnes, Le Cateau and reaching Arleux on May 20th. Rommel's plan was to by-pass Arras to the southand then turn northwards in the direction of Lille.
On May 21st, Rommel reached the area of Arras, where his forward units where counter-attacked by two British Tank Regiments (70 tanks). After inflicting heavy losses among German infantry and anti-tank gun crews, British tanks advanced and were stopped by few 88mm Flak (anti-aircraft) guns deployed in the rear. It was the first time ever, that 88mm Flak guns were used against ground targets and soon became well known and feared "tank killers". In preparations for the attack into central France, which was to take place on June 5th of 1940, Rommel's 7th Panzer Division was positioned close to the coast near Abbeville. On June 8th, Rommel reached the outskirts of Rouen and on 10th, 7th Panzer Division reached the English Channel west of Dieppe. 

On June 17th, Erwin Rommel reached the southern outskirts of Cherbourg and on 19th, city's garrison surrendered to Erwin Rommel. On June 25th, fighting in France came to an end. During the Battle of France, 7th Panzer Division earned a title of the "Ghost/Phantom Division", because no one knew were it was, including the German High Command and Rommel's staff. 7th Panzer Division's success in France was based on the speed and total distance covered by it. As commander of 7th Panzer Division, Erwin Rommel presented himself as an unconventional military leader with unique methods of command. 

Also, Rommel commanded his units from the frontline, since he felt it was important for the commander to always be near his troops. Erwin Rommel was always with the reconnaissance troops and sometimes he cut the communication with the High Command, because he didn't want to be disturbed. Rommel realized that the High Command didn't know about tank warfare, so he simply cut the communication and explained everything later. His staff criticized Rommel for his behavior and they were often unable to find out where Rommel was. In his letters to his wife Lucie, Erwin Rommel wrote that the French Campaign was a "lighting tour of France".


After the fall of France, Erwin Rommel worked on his war diary, which described the events of May and June of 1940. In January of 1941, Rommel was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and in early February was called to Berlin. In Berlin, Erwin Rommel received the command of Deutsches Afrika Korps (German Africa Corps) and was ordered to leave for Tripoli on February 12th. Deutsches Afrika Korps was to consist of two divisions and was destined for North Africa (Western Desert) to aid Germany's Italian ally in their struggle against the British. 

From December of 1940 to January of 1941, British pushed Italians from Egyptian frontier back to El Agheila in Libya. On February 14th of 1941, leading elements 5th Leichte (Panzer) Division along with their commander Erwin Rommel landed in Tripoli and was joined in early May by 15th Panzer Division. Since his arrival, Rommel found Italians to be demoralized by the defeats inflicted upon them by British, and his relations with Italian commanders left much to be desired.


"In view of the tenseness of the situation, and the sluggishness of the Italian command, I decided to ignore my orders and to take command at the front with my own hands as soon as possible - at the very latest after the arrival of the first German units." - Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel - The Rommel Papers.

On February 24th, Afrika Korps had its first combat engagement with British forces at El Agheila and on March 31st launched a successful attack on British positions at Mersa Brega. Erwin Rommel, utilized the tactics of Blitzkrieg, which worked so well in France and took British completely by a suprise. Afrika Korps continued pursuing retreating British, advanced eastwards from Tripolitania through Libya to Cyrenaica and captured Benghazi. 

On April 13th, Erwin Rommel captured Bardia and Salum and on April 15th, reached Egyptian (western) border. Rommel's offensive forced British and its allies to retreat to the safety of static defenses around Tobruk. Rommel's first attempt to break the Tobruk's defenses made on April 11th lasted until April 13th but failed. It was followed by a second unsuccessful attempt on April 30 that lasted until May 2nd of 1941. 

At that time, Erwin Rommel was nicknamed the Desert Fox by both his friends and enemies, because he constantly improvised and used tricks in order to outsmart his enemies. Also at the same time, Rommel was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Rommel the youngest German Field Marshal ever, since he received the promotion at the age of 50. From mid April to mid June, British launched small scale offensives but were forced to retreat to defensive positions by 88mm Flak (anti-aircraft) guns deployed as anti-tank guns. 


Erwin Rommel deployed and dug in his 88mm Flak guns in the U-shaped formation.They were dug in so deep, that the barrel looked only 30 to 60cm over the ground level.They were dug in, because they had no wheelsand stood very high on large pods and had a high profile. Then a low tent was erected over the position of every gun and evenwith field glasses it was impossible to distinguish them from sanddunes. Since the British saw a lot of sanddunes, they were not disturbed by them as well as that they didn't know of any German weapon with the profile as low as the small sanddunes. Then Rommel sent his light tanks to fake an attack on British positions. 

The British Crusaders saw an easy prey and followed Panzers to attacked, while Panzers withdraw in the U-shape. At point-blank range, sometimes requiringnerves of steel for the 88mm Flak gun crews, the trap sprang and they opened fire.

In June of 1941, both Allies and Axis, seized any offensive activities and strengthened their defensive positions. At the time, Erwin Rommel became very popular in Arab world and was regarded as a "liberator" from the British rule. In Germany, the Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels used Rommel's popularity among soldiers and civilians as well, to create an image of an invincible Volksmarschall - People's Marshal.In mid August of 1941, Afrika Korps (now designated Panzer Group Africa) was re-organized and in reality Erwin Rommel became the commander of all Axis (Africa Corps and five Italian divisions) troops in North Africa. 

At the same time, 5th Leichte (Panzer) Division was redesignated as 21st Panzer Division and additional 90th Light Division was transferred to Afrika Korps. Erwin Rommel constantly requested equipment and supplies but received small portions of what he asked for. In October, Rommel started planning for the new offensive and further reorganization and strengthening of defensive positions took place until November of 1941. In the night of November 17th, British Commando unit was sent to penetrate Rommel's Headquarters and assassinate him but was unsuccessful since Rommel was not even there.



On November 18th, British started their offensive codenamed "Crusader". British attacked at the Halfaya Pass to relieve the encircled city of Tobruk. After British attacks on November 22nd and 23rd were stopped, Rommel counterattacked and drove into the British rear, relieving Axis forces at the Halfaya Pass. At the same time, British reached the vicinity of Tobruk and on November 29th, broke through to Tobruk. By December 7th, Afrika Korps was forced to withdraw across Cyrenaica and on January 6th reached El Agheila in Libya. From January 2nd to 17th, Axis forces were defeated at Halfaya Pass, Bardia and Sollum. In mid January, Erwin Rommel consolidated his forces and positions and decided to launch a new offensive when his force would be properly supplied and equipped.

"The Desert Fox in action"

Rommel ordered to attach bundles of wood and bushes on long ropes to all the supplytrucks and some Italian light tanks. The Italian light tanks drove in thefirst line, one after the other, behind them all the supply trucks. The attached bundles of wood and bushes made an immense clouds of dust. For the British, it looked like the real full-scale attack. They not only withdraw, but turned their delaying forces in the wrong direction. At the same time, Rommel attacked from the otherdirection with his German Panzer Division. The British were completely outwitted and defeated.

 In late January, Rommel launched his new offensive, recaptured Benghazi and forced British to retreat to the safety of Gazala line. In early February, both sides took defensive positions to consolidate their strength. On May 26th of 1942, launched the next stage of his new offensive and after heavy fighting breakthrough the Gazala line and threatened the city of Tobruk. On June 21st, Rommel captured Tobruk and decided to continue advancing eastwards into Egypt and by June 30th reached the British defenses at Marsa Matruh. Pursuing retreating British, Rommel reached the defensive system at El Alamein, 96km west of Alexandria and 240km west of Cairo. 

At this point, Axis forces were completely exhausted with only 50 tanks and relied on captured supplies and equipment. From early July to late August, British concentrated their efforts on destroying the remains of Afrika Corps but with little success.

Erwin Rommel continued requesting equipment and supplies but the main focus of German war machine was on the Eastern Front and very limited supplies reached North Africa.On August 30th, Rommel launched another offensive directed in forcing the British to withdraw from their positions at El Alamein.He attacked the British rear at the ridge at Alam Halfa, but quickly run out of supplies and Allied superiority forced him to withdraw to his previous defensive positions.

From September to October of 1942, there was another period of when both Allies and Axis, seized any offensive activities and strengthened their defensive positions. In November, sick and in the need of convalescence, Erwin Rommel left for Germany. 

Afrika Korps - Am schweren MG-34-color photo-ww2shots-army

On October 23rd, British launched their offensive directed in recapturing lost land and destroying the Axis forces in North Africa.Right after the start of the British offensive, Rommel was recalled to Africa and reached his headquarters on October 25th. British with total superiority quickly defeated Axis forces at El Alamein and pushed the outnumbered Axis forces and on November 12th, recaptured Tobruk. To worsen the situation, on November 8th, an Anglo-American Invasion of North-West Africa, codenamed "Torch" began. 

British continued their offensive and recaptured Benghazi on November 19th, followed by the recapture of El Agheila on December 17th. Erwin Rommel was unable to establish defensive positions nor to launch an offensive due to the lack of equipment and supplies and decided to retreat to the German bridgehead at Tunis. British continued their pursuit of the Desert Fox and on January 23rd of 1943, captured the city of Tripoli. On February 19th, Rommel launched his last offensive in North Africa. On February 20th, he recaptured the Kasserine Pass but on February 22nd, his attack was stopped by the superiority of Allied forces. On the same day, he received the command of newly formed Army Group Africa, which was made up of all Axis troops in North Africa, but he refused to take the command. 

On February 23rd, Rommel was forced to take the command of the Army Group Africa. Soon after, Rommel handed over the command of the Army Group Africa to General von Arnim.On March 6th of 1943, Erwin Rommel flew back to Germany, to persuade Adolf Hitler about the hopelessness of the Axis situation in Africa. In reality, Rommel was recalled back to Germany, he then was ordered to take the sick leave and all his pleas to return to Africa where turned down. On March 11th of 1943, Erwin Rommel was awarded by Hitler, the Knights Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds. At the time, Erwin Rommel was physically and morally shaken and was a shadow of his past glory. Two months later, on May 13th of 1943, the surrender of all Axis forces (200.000 men) in North Africa, took place.


From March to July of 1943, Erwin Rommel was enjoying his badly needed sick leave, spending time with his wife and occasionally with his son. On July 10th, Rommel was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief in Greece, but was quickly recalled back to Germany. In early November, Rommel became the Commander-in-Chief in Italy, but was quickly replaced by General Albert Kesselring. In late November of 1943, Rommel was transferred to France and on December 31st, received the command of Army Group B under Field Marshal von Runstedt. He was responsible for the area stretching from Holland to Bordeaux and was to organize coastal defenses against the expected Allied invasion. He was also appointed as Inspector General and was put in charge of the defenses on the Atlantic Wall. When preparing the Western Europe for the invasion, Rommel designed special paratroop and aircraft landing barrier, called "Rommel-Spargel" (Rommel's Asparagus), along with many other obstacles. Once the landing in June of 1944, had succeeded, Erwin Rommel realized that the war was hopelessly lost and that to condone Hitler's senseless continuation of it would be irresponsible. Injured in a strafing air attack on July 17th of 1944, Rommel could not personally participate in the attempt to overthrow Hitler three days later (July 20, 1944), but he was gravely implicated. (Rommel's role in the overthrow of Hitler is still not clear and highly disputed by the historians.) Rommel's opposition to Adolf Hitler was kept secret, because of his popularity. 

On August 8th, Erwin Rommel was transported from the French Hospital to Herrlingen, where he was placed under house arrest. Erwin Rommel was given the choice of suicide, to be reported as death from his wounds, as an alternative to execution as a traitor, which would have placed his family and close associates in grave danger. 

On October 14, 1944, Rommel was taken to the hospital at Ulm, where he died by his own hand taking the poison. On October 18th, Erwin Rommel was buried with full military honors and it was a day of national mourning ordered by Adolf Hitler himself. Overall, Erwin Rommel was an outstanding and an unconventional military leader with unique methods of command. Erwin Rommel is one of the few commanders, who was not involved in any war crimes. Rommel was highly respected by his enemies and was considered to be the last of the knights. During the North African Campaign, Rommel often cut the water rations of his troop, so that the prisoners of war could survive. His personal papers and notes, all put together by Lucie-Maria Rommel and Fritz Bayerlein, titled "Rommel Papers" ("Krieg ohne Hass"), were published for the first time in 1950 and described all of Rommel's combat and personal experiences. In post-war years, Erwin Rommel's son Manfred became Mayor of the city of Stuttgart.












From World War II On Land

The Battle of El Alamein was the first British victory of the Second World War.  It saw the defeat of Rommel's Afrika Corps and the tide of war was turned.



Earlier, the triumph of Gazala and Tobruk behind him, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel lost no time in driving deep into Egypt - his goal of the Suez Canal at last in sight. An attempt by rallying elements of the British 8th army to hold him at Mersa Matruh was shattered on 27th and 28th June when another fourty tanks were destroyed and a further 6,000 disconsolate POW'S began the long, thirsty trudge back towards Tripolitania.

However, four factors began to affect his brilliantly extemporized exploitation of the British defeat. First, the inexorable laws of "the diminishing power of the offensive" began to exert their hampering influence. Second, the Desert Air Force now operating from its nearby bases, slowed his speed of advance. Third, his pleas to the Fueher for just a pair of fresh German divisions to enable him to clinch his success in the Middle East, fell on uncomprehending ears, for the impending summer drive towards the Caucasus in the U.S.S.R. was taking all Hitler's attention. And Fourth, in July, three out of the four Axis tankers conveying vehicle fuel to North Africa would fall victim to Allied operations mounted from unsubdued Malta. 

Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck

As a result, General Claude Auchinleck was afforded just suffifient time to prepare another line - and a real one this time - seventy miles west of Alexandria. It was to go down in history as "the El Alamein position" and, before 1942 was out, would be not only the decisive turning point in the Desert War, but also in Britain's fortunes overall in the Second World War. But none could guess this in Late June 1942, when 8th Army was, although brave, both baffled and defeated.

Reconnoitered by General Sir James Marshall-Cornwall earlier in the summer, the Alamein line ran for about thirty miles from the Mediterranean coast near the small railway station of EL Alamein to the cliffs edging the Qattara Depression, which was a vast area of impassable, low-lying salt marshes that effectively closed the Desert flank. Flat and sandy on the coastal sector, the center comprised a number of rocky ridges and escarpments. Both areas presented bad going for armour. Auchinleck estimated that two reinforced armoured divisions and two well-sited infantry divisions could hold this position against superior numbers.

The coast road and the railway provided good lines of communication to the rear, so long as the RAF could maintain air supremacy. Naval vessels could overhang the coast in front of the position. Lieutenant General Norrie at once put his weary and disheartened men to work, aided by troops of the new X Corps of Lieutenant General Holmes, whilst Gott's XII Corps held the ring. Four defended localities were prepared: the largest around EL Alamein; the next along Ruweisat Ridge; the third about Abu Dweiss, and the fourth at Deirel Shein. The headquarters of the 8th Army were close brhind the Ruweisat position, where the supply dumps and airfields of Alexandria and the Delta were within easy range to the coast.

To hold the area, Auchinleck could call upon 35,000 men and just 160 tanks. Reinforcements were promised - including a convoy of new American Sherman tanks provided by Roosevelt - but these would not arrive before September. Rommel could not be expected to be so helpful as to delay his next offensive until then, so could the line be held? The available troops were split into battle groups, and Auchinleck massed his artillery under Army HQ, and did what he could to create 4th Light Armoured Brigade. But to guard against disaster, he began to prepare defences in the Delta.




Fortunately for the British, Rommel also had his problems. At the extremity of his advance he had only sixty German and thirty Italian tanks, some 1,500 German soldiers and 5,00 italians, so small had Panzerarmee Afrika become.

Small wonder he pleaded,albeit unsuccessfully, for reinforcements. Typically, however, he paid scant heed to the 'quartermaster's nightmare' of his position, and at once set about planning a repeat of Mersa Matruh and Gazala, which meant diversions in the north by the Italians, strenghtened by 90th Light Division, combined with a drive by what remained of the Afrika Corps in the distant south to penetrate the desert flank. He believed this bluff would break what was left of Ritchie's nerve. Here he made a major miscalculation, for Auchinleck had replaced his army commander, and had himself devised an effective plan of defence. This was first to block Rommel's attack and then to launch counter-attacks against weaker Italian formations, compelling the German armour to divert from it's own purposes to the task of bolstering their allies.

Rommel struch on 1st July. By last light all his attacks had petered out. The long defence by Indian troops of the Deir el Shein box and the damage inflicted by heavy artillery fire on the 90th Light Division halted the diversionary attack, whilst the Afrika Corps, severly hampered by bad going and incessant air attacks, had to abandon its envelopmentplan. But when Auchinleck launched XIII Corps in a counter-strike towards the coast on 2nd July, it made little ground apart from reducing Rommal's tanks to twenty-six 'runners'. Risking all to gain - or lose - all, the next day Rommel threw everything against the coastal sector and broke in as far as Alam Baoshala, before again being halted. 'Our stength has faded away' remarked the German commander.

Time was now on Auchinleck's side. The efforts of the New Zealand infantry and 1st Armoured Brigade had reduced the Italian Ariete Division to a mere five tanks. Rommel unwillingly accepted the inevitable: he ordered his formations to dig in. 


There followed three weeks of attritional warfare. Applying his operational plan, Auchinleck struck time and again at Italian positions, forcing the Afrika Corps to dance to his tune. Rommel bided his time, waiting for the arrival of 260 reinforcement tanks from Tripoli, together with 164th Infantry Division that had very belatedly been made available to him from Crete. But 8th Army lacked real drive; the 'battle groups' were disliked, and the South Afican troops were critical of the fate of their compatriots at Tobruk.

On 9th July, Rommel occupied 'Bel Q', jubilant to find it undefended, but the next day the new 9th Australian Division routed the Italian Sabratha Division at Tell el Eisa, forcing Rommel to divert 15th Panzer north. Two days later, Auchinleck routed the Italian Trieste Division and again Rommel was forced to respond. On 14th July the New Zealanders and 5th Indian Brigade routed the Italian Brescia Division in its turn, and all Ruweisat Ridge was cleared of the enemy.

The Italian Pavia Division was captive or in full flight behind Brescia Division and Rommel desperate, had to use his dwindling number of tanks to patch the line. On 17th July, he was about to launch an all-out armoured blow against 8th Army's center in a new breakthrough attempt when he learned that Trieste and Trento had been routed in their turn by the Australians on the coastal sector, and 90th Light Division had come off worse in a contest with 4th Light Armoured Brigade west of Alem el Onsol, after making a limited penetration southeast of the El Alamein defended zone.

Rommel had failed. His health was breaking down - he was suffering from a liver complaint, a duodenal ulcer and severe nasal catarrh. Even worse, he found himself militarily 'off-balance'. But to convert defeat into disaster for the Axis proved beyond Auchinleck's skill. Between 21st and 26th July he used XIII Corps in a northward drive, seeking Rommel's communications; but, as General Bayerlein recorded ' our counter-measures succeeded in preventing a catastrophe', and Auchinleck emerged with only complete possession of Meteirya Ridge to show for his efforts. Although 8th Army still possessed 119 tanks, whereas Rommel was reduced to a mere twenty-six, both armies were now totally exhausted, and five days later the First Battle of El Alamein simply petered out.

Auchinleck had lost 13,000 casualties since 1st July. But he was expecting two new armoured divisions from the canal base - namely 8th and 10th - two new infantry divisions (44th and 51st Highlanders reconstituted after the disaster following Dunkirk) and a hundred self-propelled guns. Furthermore, he had inflicted 22,800 losses on the enemy, including 7,000 prisoners, and yet had managed to leave Rommel with just a sufficient illusion of success to persuade him to hold his position face-to-face with 8th Army, rather than to retire westwards to his bases.

Auchinleck was not destined, however to reap the benefits of his achievement. On 3rd August, Winston Churchill arrived in Cairo, and five days later informed Auchinleck that he was to hand over to General Alexandert, Commander in Chief of the Middle East. The Prime Minister's intention that Gott should command 8th Army was shattered when that officer died in an air crash. Instead, Churchill summoned Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery to assume the role. On 15th August, the handovers were complete, and a disappointed Auchinleck departed to command in India.


                         Field Marshall Montgomery

Montgomery immediately set about creating better morale and a new army based around a corps de chasse of powerful armour. He courted the rank and file of Britain's citizen army like no commander before him. He brought in new generals - Brian Horrocks for XIII Corps, Sir Oliver Leese for XXX Corps and Frederick de Guingand as Chief of Staff. He even insisted upon a new Chaplain General, hopeful of more effective prayer. The X Corps recieved two armoured divisions and the New Zealanders. He declared, erroneously, that he had destroyed '.. all plans for further retreat' and that he was going '.. to hit Rommel for six out of Africa'. These strident, even bombastic, claims had an amazing effect. General Sir Harold Alexander was happy to allow his subordinate his head - and large convoys of munitions were due to arrive any day. Better still, Ultra intercepts revealed that Axis shipments into Africa had dropped from 30,000 tons a month to only 6,000 tons in July.

Rommel was aware of the 1,200 miles separating him from his base at Tripoli, and knew that 8th Army was expecting important reinforcements. Already it had 767 tanks, good air support and plenty of fuel. Typically, he decided to try the mettle of the new British command without delay, in a last great fling to forestall the arrival of yet more Allied reinforcements.

By late August he had amassed 226 German and 243 Italian tanks. Accordingly, on 30th August, he suddenly attacked, in what the Germans dubbed ' the Six-Day Bicycle Race', and drove for the Alam Halfa Ridge southeast of El Alamein. As Italian XX Corps attacked on the left, the Afika Korps drove for the center. From the outset, air attacks and minefields imposed delays. And Montgomery was ready for him. With XXX Corps on his right, XIII Corps on his left and 7th Armoured Division (the Desert Rats) to the fore as a lure, he held Ruweisat Ridge and allowed his left wing to be pressed back towards a series of strong, new positions facing south, of which the key was Alam Halfa Ridge.

Against the dug in tanks and a new 6-pounder, anti-tank guns, Rommel struck in vain. With his fuel low on 2nd September he called off the battle and fell back to his starting positions. Montgomery made no serious attempt to follow, merely reoccupying his original line in the south. He was determined to bide his time. Rommel had lost fourty-nine tanks, 2,900 men, fifty-five guns and 395 vehicles to 8th Army's sixty-eight tanks, eighteen anti-tank guns, and 1,640 casualties. Montgomery also knew that a major Allied landing in northwest Africa - Operation 'Torch' - would occur west of Tripoli in November. So he played Rommel along, keeping his attention fully eastwards, whilst 8th Army grew steadily stronger.


Rommel fell for the bait, and stayed facing El Alamein, putting down new minefields and absorbing 164th Infantry Division, before departing on Hitler's orders for hospital in south Germany, leaving General von Stumme in command.  By mid-October the Germans had built a fourty-five-mile line, faced with a double row of minefields, five-miles deep in all.  On the coast stood 90th Light and 164th Infantry divsions. To its south was placed the Italian XXI Corps, strenghened by German paratroop battalions. On the right was the Italian X Corps. Close in the raer stood the armoured reserve, the veteran 15th and 21st Panzers and the two armoured and one motorized divisions of the Italian XX Corps in two groups - fielding in all 200 German and 300 Italian tanks, 53,000 German troops and 55,000 Italians. 

Montgomery was now almost ready. On his right was XXX Corps, five infantry divisions strong. On his left was XIII Corps, two infantry divisions plus the 'Desert Rats' of the 7th Armoured Division. In the rear waited X Corps - two armoured divisions (1st and 10th) with parts of a third (8th) divided between them, and the New Zealand Division. In all 220,000 Allied troops and 1,351 tanks, including new Shermans and trusty Grants, and a reinforced Desert Air Force (500 aircraft) stood waiting the order to advance and attack in Operation 'Lightfoot". This was deliberately timed for 'Torch minus 13'. Montgomery refused all Churchill's orders for an earlier offensive. He had a master plan.

The nine infantry divisions and three armoured divisions, equipped with 285 Sherman tanks with their 75mm guns, 246 Grants and 421 Crusaders, 850 6-pounder and 550 2-pounder anti-tank guns - amounted to a formidable 8th Army; in its ranks were Australians, Indians, Greeks and Frenchmen, as well as British soldiers. Facing it stood four reinforced Axis armoured divisions (two German and two Italian), and a pair of motorized divisions (one of each nationality) and eight infantry divisions, seven of them Italian. In overall terms Montgomery enjoyed a 2:1 advantage in manpower and a 3:1 advantage in tanks.

Overhead, the Desert Air Force of Air Vice Tedder (which had been reinforced by two fighter and two light bomber groups) held undisputed sway over the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica. The numerical advantage that Montgomery had demanded had been achieved. He entered the battle in an enviable position: Rommel was away sick, and come what might Montgomery could hardly lose, for once Operation 'Torch' opened in Tunisia and Algeria on 8th November, the Axis would be compelled to retreat to save Tripoli. However, ther was some anxiety over the size and extent of the Axis minefields which had been partly probed in two brigade attacks on 30th September; accordingly, in tune with the latest intelligence reports, Montgomery adjusted his plan.

Originally, this had conceived of a simultaneous attack by XXX Corps in the north and XIII Corps in the south, which were to break into the Axis positions and clearcorridors for the armour of X Corps to exploit; the tanks would then sever the enemy's hostile lines of communication. Now, the 5th October, he decided to attack in the north with both XXX and X Corps and employ both simultaneously. Two busy weeks of final preparations and exercises ensued.

On the night of 23rd to 24th October 1942, some 900 guns suddenly delivered a hurricane bombardment, and the mine-clearing parties moved forward. The Second Battle of El Alamein had begun. The Axis were taken by surprise, but soon rallied to pre-arranged defensive tasks. The southern of the two thrust lines made good progress, and the New Zealanders rapidly captured Miteirya Ridge. Behind them, however, 10th Armoured Division hesitated to pass through, having run into more mines. Further north, the Australians made less progress against heavy resistance, and 1st Armoured Division became bogged down between the two minefields.

 The static tanks made excellent targets for the pre-registered Axis atrillery. On the other hand, German General Georg Stumme died of a heart atttack caused by an exploding mine. On 25th October, Rommel hurried from Germany to find the Allied operation still stalled in the north and making scant progress in the south, where 44th Division and 7th Armoured had also come to a halt.

On 26th October, Montgomery ordered a pause to adjust the plan. He now enjoined XIII Corps, led by the Australian 9th Division, to stike northwestwards towards the coast.  On 27th October,some progress was made, but then Rommel's armoured counter-attacks against Miteirya and Kidney ridges, although ultimately forestalled, restricted forward progress. Churchill cabled anxiously for news, aware that 'Torch' was now imminent.

By now, the main battle was concentrated around Tell al-Aqaqir and Kidney Ridge. The 2nd Battalion (Rifle Brigade) of the 1st Armored Division of the British was at a position called Snipe, to the southwest of the Kidney.  The stand at Snipe is one of the legends of the Battle of al-Alamein. Phillips in Alamein records that,

"The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns."


Mortar and shell fire was constant all day long. Around 4 pm, British tanks accidentally opened fire against their own position, killing many. At 5 pm, Rommel launched his major attack. German and Italian tanks moved onward. With only four guns in operation, the 2nd Battalion was able to score continual broad-side hits against forty tanks of the 21st Division, knocking out thirty-seven of them. The remaining three withdrew and a new assault was launched. All but nine tanks in this assault were also destroyed. The 2nd was down to three guns with three rounds each, but the Germans had given up on this assault.

By Operation 'Supercharge', the Australian attack on the coast was to continue, but the main thrust would be further south. While XIII Corps pressed forward, X Corps was to strike northwestwards to distract and defeat Rommel's Panzers. The new assault began early in the morning on 2ND November. Rommel, his petrol almost gone was told to 'stand and die' by Hitler. More realistically, he decidied to break off and retreat, taking all Italian transport for his German troops. Victorious 8th Army had lost 13,500 more casualties and 500 tanks (150 of them destroyed), but in turn had inflicted 59,000 on the Axis and accounted for 454 tanks and 1,000 guns. It ahd been a battle of direct attrition, but numerical advantages ahd told in the end.

By 4th November, X Corps was in full pursuit, but then heavy rain bogged the armour down and Rommel was free and away. Fighting bitter rearguard actions, he was pressed back through Tobruk by 13th November and Musus by 17th November, and the British re-entered Benghazi on 20th November. Montgomery paused before El Agheila where Rommel turned to face him once more, but on 13 th December the Axis moved to the west again.

 Boxing Day found Rommel in a new position at Buerat, but on 13th January, 1943 he again pulled out just before Montgomery launched an assault. So on 23rd January, the British at last entered Tripoli as Eommel entered Tunisia. The battle for the western desert was over, although much bitter fighting remained against Field Marshalla von Armin and Rommel who now, far too late, received strong reinforcements from Germany. But there was no denying the importance of Montgomery's victory at El Alamein. It was the only great land battle won by the British and Commonwealth forces without direct American participation and, together with the German surrender at Stalingrad in February, 1943, it marked the turning point of the war. 'It is not the end', Churchill warned the jubilant British public at a review of the victorious 8th Army in Tripoli; 'It may not even be the beginning of the end. But it is undoubtedly the end of the beginning.'





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