In recent years the number of long-term peacekeeping/ enforcing style deployments undertaken by the world's military has increased considerably. These deployments have seen the life cycles of military trucks accelerate considerably, trucks now required to operate globally during what are classed as prolonged low intensity operations. Mercedes-Benz market research identified to the company an emerging need for a new generation of military trucks that could replace the often ageing and unsuitable fleets that were becoming ever more expensive to maintain on such operations. Company research concluded that most potential customers were looking for a true tactical truck, not a militarised commercial product. Mobility, protection and an ability to operate extensively in austere and/or extreme climatic conditions were high priorities, with durability, commercial operating costs and standards of reliability and maintainability equally as desirable.
The M1 Abrams is a third generation American Main Battle Tank and named after General Creighton Abrams, a former Chief of Staff during the Vietnam war. Highly mobile and designed for modern armoured ground warfare, the M1 is well armed and heavily protected, and notable features include the use of a powerful multi-fuel gas-turbine, the adoption of sophisticated composite armour and separate ammunition storage in a 'blowout'compartment for crew safety. The M1 Abrams entered US service in 1980, replacing the M60 and currently there are three main versions deployed, the M1, M1A1, and M1A2, incorporating improved armament, protection and electronics. These improvements, as well as periodic upgrades to older tanks, have allowed this long-serving vehicle to remain in frontline service, and the M1A3 is currently under development. The M1 has played a major part in the two Persian Gulf Wars, as well as seeing action in Afghanistan, and remains at the forefront of American armoured warfare.
The conflict in Vietnam during the 1950s through to the 1970s was indicative how 'modern' warfare was being played out in the latter half of the 20th century. In many cases, small low tech armies continually kept a much stronger, well equipped force in a continual state of conflict with no clear front lines. As such conflicts happen, older equipment, vehicles, and aircraft continue to soldier on well past their thought useful life. One of these was the venerable old Douglas AD Skyraider, known at the time as the A-1 and called by one of its many nicknames, the Spad. Designed in the 1940s during the closing years of World War II, it was built to be simplistically rugged and able to carry a large amount of ordinance. Originally these capabilities were to be used on the Pacific Front against Japan lugging ample bombs and torpedoes off of carriers, but by 1970 it was instead using its brute force to participate in SAR missions to rescue downed aircrew under the callsign 'Sandy'. Its relatively slow speed and numerous pylons made it an ideal platform to loiter over downed airman keeping potential captors at bay with 20mm cannon, miniguns, bombs, rockets, incendiary and antipersonnel ordnance. Once the crew was rescued by chopper, the Spad acted as escort instead of a fast jet. It was the AD's swansong of a long and prosperous combat career spanning over thirty years with the US military.
As the helo flies low and slow, following the contours of the gulley and the tumbling stream, the terrain gradually rises until we can see smoke rising in the distance and the pilot heels the chopper over to starboard. We climb up and over the valley edge, nap-of-the-earth style to take a closer look... To helicopter enthusiasts the world over, the Hughes OH-6A Cayuse is famous for its various roles in the Vietnam conflict, which included reconnaissance, command and control, transport, escort and attack missions. The type spawned a family of variants, including Special Operations versions, and the company simultaneously developed a civilian version - the Hughes 500. That type, now manufactured by MD Helicopters (formerly McDonnell Douglas Helicopters), has been further developed to a produce a wide range of civil, military and maritime choppers including the Boeing AH-6 Unmanned Little Bird demonstrator... That's a story for another day but the OH-6A is the forerunner of them all.
By the time that the American military realised how important it was to have an effective night-fighter, the attack on Pearl Harbor happened on December 7, 1941. The RAF had been helping the US with this problem in 1940 and early 1941 and it was their expertise that led to the development of the Northrop P-61 Black Widow. However, by the time the Marines landed on Guadalcanal in August 1942, the P-61 was still a long way from being operational so a stop-gap measure had to be taken. That aircraft was the Douglas A-20 Boston/Havoc that was hastily converted over to a night-fighter configuration which would be identified as the P-70 "Night Hawk". The A-20 proved to be a formidable low-level bomber and it was to make its mark in North Africa and in some areas of the Pacific at a later date. However, the P-70 would have sufficient firepower and dependable radar, but it did have two glaring weaknesses that would become evident once it set up night operations on Guadalcanal and New Guinea. These would be its slow speed and the inability to reach the altitudes and speeds that the Japanese Betty bombers were operating from.
The 2nd Battalion The Suffolk Regiment was part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), which found itself in retreat with French and Belgian armies from the Battle of Mons in late August 1914...with the German army in hot pursuit. On the August 25 the Suffolks bivouacked just west of Le Cateau, but in the morning they moved to high ground where they came under heavy shell, machine gun and rifle fire from advancing Germans. While trying to dig in on exposed ground, the battalion took heavy casualties and lost its commander, Lt. Col C.A.H Brett, at the outset. The Suffolks held this defensive rear-guard for more than eight hours, despite relentless shelling and gunfire. Outnumbered and outgunned, they sold their positions dearly, and inflicted enormous casualties with accurate rifle and artillery fire on the surrounding enemy. Even though the Germans entreated the Suffolks to surrender (and even blew the British cease fire order on their bugles) they refused and carried on fighting until they were overran, which brought their resistance to an end.