November 16, 2018

Commercial Aviation Part 1

A little over a year ago, while I was moving from LA to Oklahoma, I wrote a short series on commercial air travel at SSC. I've decided to repost it here in the Friday block. I don't plan to write any more on the topic, but I thought you guys would enjoy it. Hopefully, it at least helps make your next interaction with the airline industry make more sense.

First, I’m going to discuss how and why airlines sell seats the way they do. The basic principle is that they want to get paid as much as possible to move people between A and B, and do so as cheaply as possible. But there are lots of combinations of A and B, and lots of different kinds of people who want to go between them, so the airlines have very complicated rules in place to maximize their revenue. Read more...

November 15, 2018

Two Recent News Stories

There have been a couple of interesting naval news stories recently, and I figured I'd offer my take.

First, the recent sinking of the floating drydock that was carrying Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the drydock sank, and it was only fast work from the crew onboard Kuznetsov that kept her from following. The most common story is that the pumps keeping the drydock afloat lost shore power, and the diesel generators that were supposed to take over had no fuel. Read more...

November 14, 2018

The Falklands War Part 8

In early April, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a few desolate rocks in the South Atlantic. The British mobilized their fleet, sending it south by way of Ascension Island. On the 25th, a force retook South Georgia, a even smaller and more desolate island that Argentina had also captured, while the main task force closed in on the Falklands. May 1st saw the British launch their attack, first via bombers from Ascension and then from the carriers.

General Belgrano

May 1st had passed with little interference from the Argentinian Navy, but on the 2nd, Admiral Juan Lombardo, in charge of the naval defense of the islands, sent his forces into action. He had divided his available assets into four task groups, and sent three to the north of the islands, and one to the south. The most obviously dangerous group, TG 79.1, was composed of the carrier Veinticinco de Mayo, which had begun her career as the British Venerable, and two Type 42 destroyers, sisters of the ships that formed the core air defense of the British fleet. This group was accompanied in the north by TG 79.2, two ex-US destroyers armed with Exocet anti-ship missiles.1 The last northern force was composed of three French-built Drummond class corvettes, also armed with Exocets. The southern force was built around the light cruiser General Belgrano, formerly USS Phoenix. She was escorted by another pair of Exocet-armed American destroyers. While it's easy to dismiss her 6" guns as obsolete in the age of supersonic fighters and guided missiles, the Belgrano was a serious concern for Admiral Woodward. His force was not set up to deal with a serious surface threat. The largest guns available were 4.5" weapons that were seriously outclassed by the Belgrano's guns, and their Exocets were not designed to kill armored ships. If the cruiser had managed to close within gun range of the carriers, probably at night or in bad weather, the results would likely have been disastrous. Read more...

November 11, 2018


A century ago, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the most destructive war history had ever seen came to an end.

For four years, Europe had torn itself apart. While popular memory is overwhelmingly dominated by the trenches and mud of the Western Front, the war was much wider than that. At sea, Britain and Germany battled to strangle each other, with Britain finally emerging victorious. Italy and Austria shed staggering quantities of blood in the Alps, in a war even more static than that in France, before Italy finally prevailed. In the east, Russia had collapsed a year earlier, after fighting a war in spaces too vast to allow the stalemate that had occurred in the west. In the Middle East, the British and French had finally defeated the Ottomans after a long and difficult campaign. They had taken the war to German colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, setting the stage for much of the Pacific War 30 years later.

1918 had been a tumultuous year. It had begun with great German victories, barely contained by the French and British, with the aid of the Americans now pouring into Europe. The three nations then went on the offensive, swiftly reclaiming the German gains and destroying their army. The writing was on the wall, and the Germans requested an armistice while the negotiations for a final peace took place.

The day a century ago when the war was brought to an end is commemorated as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. Approximately 10 million soldiers and 8 million civilians were killed between August of 1914 and November 1918, and millions more wounded. Remember them today.

And remember those who died later. The Allies never reached German soil, and many Germans believed that they had been betrayed instead of being defeated on the battlefield. Their desire for revenge would plunge Europe into another war 21 years later.

November 09, 2018

Museum Ships - Rest of World

I've previously posted lists of museum ships in the US and Europe. This post completes the list of museum ships worldwide. As with the European one, it's sorted by country, then city, and comes from this list. I'd encourage you to go support the nearest one. If you'd like to review it for Naval Gazing, that's even better. Read more...

November 07, 2018

Museum Review - 45th Infantry Division Museum

The 45th Infantry Division is an old and respected unit. Its subordinate regiments fought in WWI, and the division as a whole served with distinction across Sicily, Italy, France and Germany during WWII. It went to Korea, and its successor unit, the 45th Infantry Brigade, was deployed during Desert Storm and later to both Afghanistan and Iraq. The history of this unit, part of the Oklahoma National Guard, is chronicled in the excellent 45th Infantry Division Museum, located northeast of downtown Oklahoma City.

Me with an M48 tank
Type: Museum with an eclectic collection of mostly ground-focused military paraphernalia
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Rating: 4/5, Definitely worth a visit if you're in town
Price: Free

Website

November 05, 2018

Open Thread 12

It's time for our regular open thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't culture war.

First, our regular link. I'm going to call out the FY 19 National Defense Authorization Act. No, it's not a particularly good read, or even totally comprehensible outside the Beltway. But it is useful to get a better idea of how the military gets its money. Or if you need to cure insomnia.

Second, overhauled posts include A Brief History of the Battleship, Iowa Part 1 and Part 2 and Fire Control Part 1 and Part 2.

Third, remember to update your bookmarks from to The CAPTCHA won't load on obormot.

November 04, 2018

Anti-Submarine Warfare - WWII - Operations Research in the Atlantic

While we've previously examined anti-submarine warfare in WWII in some detail, including forces, weapons, sensors, and how the British managed the Battle of the Atlantic, I haven't touched on what I find to be the most fascinating aspect. The war against the U-boats gave birth to a new science, Operations Research, which would find applications in almost every field of human endeavor.2

U-426 sinking in the Bay of Biscay

In principle, Operations Research or OR is fairly simple. It's the use of quantitative methods to provide decision-makers with information. Good OR recognizes that there are unquantifiable factors which may override the best numerical solution, and is most concerned with the use of existing equipment instead of the development of new technology. It's closely tied to fields such as industrial engineering and management science, but applies more broadly than either of those. A simple example can be found in Methods of Operations Research. An OR analyst saw that there was often a long line for soldiers to wash and rinse their mess gear at his new duty station. He also noticed that on average it took a soldier three times as long to wash as it did to rinse, but that there were two tubs for washing and two for rinsing. He suggested that one of the rinse tubs be switched to washing, and when the change was implemented, the line didn't even form most days. Read more...

November 02, 2018

Museum Ships - Europe

As a follow-up to my list of Museum Ships in the United States, I present a similar list of ships in Europe. A third list, covering the rest of the world, will follow soon. This is sorted by country, then city. They were derived from this list, and may not be completely accurate, but I'd still encourage you to see if there are any close enough to be worth a visit. If anyone who is in Europe wants to contribute a review of one of these, I'd be happy to have it. Read more...

October 31, 2018

Russian Battleships Part 4

While rebuilding the Baltic Fleet was uppermost in the minds of Russian naval planners in the aftermath of their disastrous war with Japan, and the first Russian dreadnoughts were built there, the growth of the Turkish navy in the Black Sea lead to increasing popular pressure for dreadnoughts on Russia's southern flank. Reports, subsequently proved to be false, of Turkish dreadnought purchases from British yards caused the Duma to order a trio of ships from the yards in the Crimea.

Imperatritsa Mariia

There was the usual array of design proposals, including duplicating the Gangut design in the interests of build time, using diesel propulsion, and fitting the ships with 14" guns to counter the 13.5" weapons expected to be used on the Turkish ships.3 Ultimately, the design selected was similar to Gangut, with the same turret arrangement, 130mm secondary guns concentrated forward, and a speed of 21 kts instead of the 23 of the previous class. This allowed them to be more compact, with thicker armor: 10.3" of belt as opposed to 8.9" on their predecessors. Read more...