11 November 2006

A22 Infantry Tank Mark IV Churchill

The A22 Churchill was the last infantry tank fielded by the British. The recognition of the obsolecence of concept doomed the infantry tank and the Churchill played mainly a supporting role after the Dieppe raid. This example appears to be armed with a 75mm gun, hence it is possibly a Churchill IV (NA) or later.

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09 November 2006

'Antares Victory' by Michael McCollum

This just arrived after an almost three months transit. Woo. The last instalment of McCollum's 'hard' space opera. I am almost midway through the book! Nuclear salvoes against planetary defence lasers! WOO HOO!
M3 Grant

The M3 Grant was an American medium that was supplied to the British in the Desert War. It proved effective due to its limited 75mm gun on the hull which was capable of shooting HE rounds, hence useful for clearing enemy anti-tank gun positions. With its companion M3 Lee mediums which was armed with a 37 mm gun on the turret instead of a 40mm on the M3 Grant, these early mediums were instrumental in holding the line until the buildup of forces at El Alamein and the arrival of the more modern M4 Shermans.

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08 November 2006

M26 Pershing

The most powerful American tank to see action in the Second World War, the M26 Pershing was armed with a 90mm gun which was capable of destroying German mediums and heavys such as the Panther and Tiger. With a slightly thinner sloped glacis, the M26 was more mobile than the Tigers.

The M26 Pershing entered service late in the war and had barely any effect on the course of the war.

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07 November 2006

Books I am reading

I have always had a penchant for reading too many books at the same time. I have numerous interests and too little time. In 1993, I found that I have started too many books and have been rather listless. I had just too many unfinished volumes lying in a large pile. I had sometimes abandoned books with somewhat dense prose for easier reads. This, I found, to be a somewhat sorry state of affairs, hence, I endeavoured to end this little habit. I started recording the books that I have finished reading, starting with magic realism, fantasy and science fiction, hence, a book list was created. This assisted me by fostering a sense of achievement. I was more apt to finish a volume once I had started.

Anyway, presently, I had fallen into my age-old habit of reading too many things at the same time.

Last week, I finished Tim Flannery’s rather disorganised ‘The Weather Makers’. The book had too many leaps in reasoning throughout, lacking clear elaboration and it wasn’t until the last section on possible solutions that experienced writer Flannery started to be focused. Diamond, in ‘Collapse’, despite being whimsical at times and meandering all over the place, was more effective in conveying ideas. Even then, ‘The Weather Makers’ is recommended.

I have on my bedside Ken Macleod’s ‘Learning the World’, a science fiction novel on first contact. Macleod is a British writer who is known for espousing utopian communist worlds in his book and some have said that he is extremely strident in his views. I have only read a chapter. I can’t say more.

I am also in the midst of the rather dreadful novel, ‘Artifact’, by known hard SF writer Gregory Benford. Benford is a known professor and is best known for ‘Timescape’. ‘Artifact’ features paper thin European racial stereotypes, unconvincing characters who spend time glancing at women, sizing them up and convincing ugly American characters. Funny eh? It’s probably inadvertent. Where is the science? I have half a mind to stop reading this rather tiresome novel now.

I am midway through ‘Introducing Anthropology’ by Merryl Wyn Davies. This is something new for me. It has been both intriguing and fascinating so far. I wonder if there is any relation to a lot of radical work on post-colonial studies.

After reading Wedgwood and part of Parker’s ‘Thirty Years’ War’, I wanted something that is more concise and illustrative. Richard Bonney’s ‘The Thirty Years’ War: 1618-1648’ fits the criteria perfectly. The work from the Osprey Essential History series offers a chronology, background and causes, narrative history, the portraits of some of the participants including common mercenary soldiers, civilians, the conclusion and consequences and more. The volume is lavishly illustrated. Recommended.

I have also been flipping through the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Istanbul. Again, the lavish illustrations within impress. I prefer DK over Fodor, Lonely Planet and others.

I have read a little of J.R. Hale’s classic ‘War and Society in Renaissance Europe, 1450-1620’. This will be a challenging read and it will take considerable amount of time. I will probably lay off this for now.

Meanwhile, I have read a third of Colin Imber’s ‘The Ottoman Empire: 1300-1650 The Structure of Power’, a rather fascinating study on the power structure, the chronology of the rise and, of course, the army and navy.

In the midst of all these books, I picked up Rory Muir’s ‘Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon’ and Philip J. Haythornthwaite’s ‘The Napoleonic Source Book’ from my shelves to search on information on the Waterloo campaign and the experience of the infantry squares and if it had often been broken by cavalry. Well, the square was supposedly invincible mostly. Earlier, Terence, Sng and I had played an old Avalon Hill game ‘Napoleon’ against Seow Buay and also June Hwang. ‘Napoleon’ is now published by Columbia Games.

I also peeked at Robert Graves eloquent fictional yet hardly historical account of Belisarius. Marvellous writing.

I gave Adam Tooze’s hefty ‘The Wages of Destruction: The making and breaking of the Nazi economy’ a glimpse. I won’t be reading this anytime soon.

I read a few chapters of John Gribbin’s ‘Father to the Man’, a SF novel of intelligent life and also increasing global disruption. I am distracted! I will need to drop this and then get back to it in future.

I also did some reading in the events leading to September 4th, 1939 in Lt-Colonel E. Bauer’s superlative one volume history ‘The History of the Second World War’. As the events showed, the Poles did not even have the opportunity to cede Danzig, the Nazis were dead set on war.

I looked up the development history of the M24 and M41 again after the coup in Thailand. The reference volume consulted? ‘Camp Colt to Desert Storm: The History of the US Armoured Forces’. While looking that up, I read the chapter on J. Walter Christie’s association with the US Army. I followed that up with the sections on the early British Cruiser Tanks Mark II, Mark III and Mark IV which featured the Christie suspension. ‘British and American Tanks of World War II: The complete illustrated history of British, American and Commonwealth tanks, 1939-1945’ by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis is the definite single volume on British, American and Commonwealth AFVs. There is a softcover reprint out. Not to be missed.

I also had the ‘World Encycopedia of the Tank’ by Christopher Chant out. I was looking up a few details on the Vickers Six Ton Tank.

I don’t what came over me when I took the Soviet General Staff Study of the Battle for Kursk 1943 out of my shelves. I checked certain statistics before returning it to my shelf.

I also finished reading two illustrated volumes published by Concord Publications on the Waffen-SS last night.

Finally, I am halfway through Eric Christiansen’s ‘The Northern Crusades’, the only volume of its kind dealing in the crusades in the Baltic region in existence. I will be focusing most of my energy in reading this volume first, hopefully finishing it within the week. While reading this, I took out a book on the Teutonic Knights by William Urban for a swift glance through as well as something on Swedish castles.

As usual, I am curious as to what everyone is reading. What are you reading?
Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf E Sd Kfz 181

The superlative Tiger I entered service in 1942 in the Leningrad area despite a less stellar initial appearance. Like the Soviet KV-1, the Tiger I terrified its opponents with its formidable combination of firepower and armour.

With an 88mm gun of 56 calibre lengths, the Tiger I took a heavy toll of enemy armour and soon developed a fearsome reputation. The frontal armour of 100mm had allowed the Tiger I an invincibility that was not easily countered until heavier armaments were adopted by the Allies. The Tiger I soon developed a reputation of legendary proportions. Every German tank soon began to be identified as a 'Tiger'.

Despite a short operational range of about 140 km, the Tiger I, if carefully used can produce results out of proportion to its numbers.

1354 Tiger Is were produced from mid-1942 to mid-1944. The Tiger I was a vehicle that was heavy in material and manpower resources to manufacture and the Third Reich might have been better served if something simpler had been produced in its stead.

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06 November 2006

Building on Mount Sophia Road

The area around Mount Sophia Road is undergoing great changes. Here is a snapshot from my mobile taken one evening. I will be visiting that area to take more photos. Old Singapore...
Waiting outside Shaw Centre

Rainy day. I took this with my mobile while I waited for my parents outside Shaw Centre last week. The light conditions were interesting to say the least.
Predatory Instincts

My six-month old cat caught a bird today. Fortunately, we rescued the bird. She has killed 3-4 birds so far. Not a bad kill rate for a six-month old cat. However, this does not bode well for the birds, especially those that make their nests in the thickets like the bulbuls.

Jagdkitty. Kills 4.

A13 Cruiser Tank Mark IV

A development of the A13 Cruiser Tank Mark III, the A13 Cruiser Tank Mark IV served with the 1st Armoured Division in 1940. The Cruiser Mark IV also saw action with the 7th Armoured Division in the Western Desert in the 1940-41 period.

The example here is likely to be a Mark III which was reworked with extra armour to the Mark IV standard identifiable due to the early type manlet fitted to the Mark III.

Like British tanks of the period, the Cruiser Mark IV was armed with a 2-pounder OQF. Maxium armour: 30mm.

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05 November 2006

Renault UE Supply Carrier, Chenillette

The Chenillette was a small tracked supply carrier which could carry or tow 400 kg of supplies and was used in supplying infantry units. Development of this vehicle commenced in 1931 and were produced till 1939.

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