Army hardware you might have missed

... or not appreciated appropriately so far (mostly infantry stuff).

45° mounted iron sights with straight buttstock rifles

This is originally civilian tech, from a shooting competition league that requires to shoot with both iron sights and other sights. The shooting has to be quick, so it's advantageous to have both on the same gun. The German approach (G36 rifle) of having both sights above each other is a poor compromise. Rifles with straight buttstock can be used with approx. 45° offset iron sights for engagements at short range and this additionally allows for a reduced silhouette (which is normally quite a problem with straight buttstock rifles, as they necessitate sights high above the barrel). The reduction of silhouette stems from the bottom-mounted magazine that would be at 45° degrees, enabling a lower barrel position when the 45° off iron sights are in use.
quick external explainer article here

multi-spectral 'smoke'

Infrared sensors ("thermal" sensors, mid and far infrared spectrum) can see through ordinary smoke such as HC smoke. White phosphorous smoke is an unsatisfactory concealment as well. Multispectral smoke has been developed as remedy, it does obscure in the infrared spectrum, albeit the duration of this concealment is still somewhat short. IR SMK munitions are till relatively new (multispectral smoke came up for real in the late 90's  AFAIK) and were not really high priority in the last two decades when Western armies were more concerned about beating up or suppressing resistance by opposition that had close to zero thermal sensors. I have no knowledge about the inventories, but I strongly suspect that we have much too few IR SMK munitions in our depots.

Another possibility is to not expend smoke munitions, but to use reusable smoke generators. The M56 vehicle and M58 vehicle are claimed to be able to provide 90 min visual obscuration and 30 min thermal + millimetre wavelength obscuration. 

HC, WP or simple evaporated diesel fuel isn't good enough as obscurant on the battlefield any more. You need dedicated consumables that have fibres (often carbon fibres/graphite) and other stuff suspended in the air to block modern sensors.

video of a naval example:

infrared illumination

Another novelty are infrared illumination (IR ILLUM) munitions. Modern low light night sights use the near-infrared spectrum (not really thermal sights), but they are merely intensifying (by a factor of a couple ten thousand times). So they depend on having at least some light source (whereas the objects themselves are the radiation source with mid and far IR "thermal" sights). Early generation low level sights thus needed some infrared flashlight (often seen on 1960's tank photos, first tank-mounted application: 1, 2), as do present-time children night vision toys. The moon and stars usually provide enough light, but they don't through dense clouds or during new moon. That's when IR ILLUM can help out and give the low light sensors the needed light. IR ILLUM munitions work like normal ILLUM munitions, but are hardly visible to the naked eye. Finally, digital camera-like low light vision doesn't have the extreme intensification of the other dedicated low light technology, but digital cameras can see even colours at night if only there's enough light. "Enough" light may still be black to the naked eye, of course. Another advantage of digital cameras as low light sensors is that they are incredibly cheap by comparison. So IR ILLUM munitions and the old school illumination lights (which don't need to be mounted on your weapon or vehicle, they could also be thrown) could team up for an affordable night vision combo.

example https://dn-defence.com/rgw-90/rgw90-illum-2/?lang=en

intra-squad radios

Radios had trickled down to platoon level by the Second World War and squad level by the Vietnam War. Then there was no further progress made until the 1990's, when mobile phones became affordable consumer goods even though police did introduce radios for everyone in the 1980's at the latest. The first generation of intra-squad radios was still quite bulky, but currently available ones are really lightweight (about 300 grams + batteries) and battery demands seem manageable. The quite reliable and secure voice communication inside the infantry, engineer or scout squad is a huge boon for stealth, situational awareness, leadership and morale. Range issues persist inside settlements and wet woodland, of course. The power output and the atmospheric attenuation of the frequencies used makes it very hard to direction find and triangulate such radios from useful distances.

backpack ESM

That being said, backpack radio electronic support measures (radio direction finding, saving and transmitting of readings) are a thing and potentially of great utility. Radio direction finding and triangulation of hostile positions is of value if the hostile emitter doesn't move and can thus be hit with indirect fires, but even more useful is to slowly and steadily build up a situational picture by logging which emitter appears to get answers by which other emitter. This way you might find not only the locations, but you can identify hierarchies and identify company, battalion,, brigade command posts. Battalion and brigade command posts will usually have their emitter about a kilometre away from their actual command post, but the triangulation is a starting point for finding said CP with other means. Later on you can hit all those detected and identified emitters and CPs with a few minutes of artillery fires and the local opposing forces will be limited to individual actions against your following push on the ground.

example www.chemring.com/(...)

backpack ECM

Artillery shells were equipped with radio proximity fuses for the first time in WW2, to enable hits on aircraft with near misses. The same kind of shell could also be used for great fragmentation effect with airbursts a few metres above ground, and this was first done in late 1944 on a battlefield. This threat was countered by the 1960's or so with dedicated jammer vehicles, so few in quantity that they might only be used to protect high value locations such as at forced river crossings. The jammers were finally shrunk to backpack size in the 1990's, and had to be adapted to jam mobile phone connections in the occupation wars 2003ff (as many such mines were fused by mobile phone). Nowadays there are (heavy) ECM backpacks capable of broadband jamming, which includes the jamming of infantry and tank radio communication in less than one kilometre radius. The might -depending on frequency- also be suitable to jam battlefield ground surveillance radars and air/ground attack radars, but this would require adaptation for the corresponding radio bands.




expendable ECM

HEXJAM is a published expendable ECM jammer, suitable to disrupt ground forces tactical radio communication in less than a kilometre radius. The benefit of a stationary expendable jammer over the backpack solution is that you don't need to be concerned about its susceptibility to direction finding and triaggulation, and this is important exactly when such expendable jammers may be practical to employ; in rather static situations. You might have such a jammer emplaced at an ambush site, for example.



This is not much of an army technology, but the technology has advanced to a point where tiny decoys can repeat radio frequency signals and thus act as a kind of reactive jammer, creating a false return signal/echo and thus false target. Ground forces can employ much simpler means, such as simple fixed reflectors (90° angle reflector, Luneburg lens) instead. The mentioned repeater decoys may thus be a niche solution for combat aircraft with their specific needs, but who knows, maybe this DRFM tech becomes relevant to ground forces as well. Maybe they could double as expendable radio relays?

IR strobe/beacon

This is super-cheap tech, popularized by the Black Hawk Down movie and available for little money on mail order. Back in the old days ground troops placed flags on the ground to keep friendly aircraft from shooting at them and to give them an orientation where the enemy might be. Nowadays we can do this with IR strobe lights, albeit it's not quite for sure how useful this is when the opposing forces may have low light or thermal sensors as well.

tiny LED flashlights

This is first and foremost civilian technology. I keep seeing big flashlights, and I consider those to be nonsense. Very cheap very small very light LED flashlights provide more brightness than old big flashlights, so we should use the tiny ones. Additionally, everyone who mounts a light on a gun is doing it wrong.

importance of magnifying sights for target ID rather than aiming

Magnifying sights  have become very widespread in the past 25 years, nowadays a normal infantry rifleman can expect either a red dot sight or a magnifying sight on his rifle or carbine. Normal infantry can easily make do with 4x magnification. 1.5x magnification as used with some German early WW2 sniper rifles and in the famous Austrian AUG rifle allows for easy use with both eyes open, but this fallen somewhat out of fashion relative to red dot sights without magnification.

Magnifying scopes of 3x to 4x power have a benefit aside from more accurate shots well past 100 metres; they have proved to be even more importantly useful for positive identification of targets. You better don't shoot at everything that moves, for it could be friendlies that move in your field of view. So you often times have to identify what you see before you may shoot, and the magnification helps greatly with this. 

The old style was to let the squad leader control the squad's firepower, and the squad leader is supposed to have 15x binoculars for identification. The Americans apparently never fully bought into this disciplined way of shooting in infantry combat, and became particularly endeared with the distributed ID capability that the magnifying scopes offer. This is also a driver behind the use of magnifying scopes on machineguns, even though the machinegunner's firepower should really be directed by the squad leader if the squad is more than a mob.

stripper clips

Stripper clips are ancient stuff, don't really deserve to be called "technology". Still, they seem to be underappreciated as a means to cut down weight.


captive piston commando mortar

This is another ancient tech, which is in my opinion underappreciated. Commando mortars with less than a km effective range have been highly appreciated by several armies (especially the British Empire/Commonwealth and French armies) for their usefulness. Their usefulness with high explosive (fragmentation) mortar bombs is debatable and highly dependent on the user's skill at the very least, but their usefulness with (IR) ILLUM and (multispectral) SMK munitions should be undisputed. They reach much farther than even 40 mm MV rounds. 

The captive piston principle came up in the 1960's and keeps the propellant gasses inside the cartridge case. This eliminates muzzle flash, keeps the weapon quite clean, limits the maximum practical pressure (range), largely keeps the barrel from heating up and minimizes the noise of the (subsonic) shot. Pistols with captive piston munitions really just make a 'click' and repeating sound. 51 mm captive piston commando mortars are as silent as 52 dB at 100 m.

The French use the Belgian FLY-K / JetShot design that's been around for half a century by now. I don't see why anyone should use an ordinary commando mortar instead of a captive piston design. Sure, ordinary munitions are more easily sourced and cheaper, but I prefer the stealth advantage especially for the illumination work. By the way; commando mortars hardly ever use auxiliary charges, so the captive piston design's inability to make use of auxiliary charges is not a factor.

Noise and effect of conventional 51 mm mortar



ultralightweight ballistic helmet shell

Helmets are a pain in the ass neck. It should be a no-brainer to keep them lightweight, but weight savings keep getting misused for performance enhancements as with all infantry equipment. The infantryman is thus perpetually overburdened. There are some very lightweight, plentiful protective helmet shells available at much less weight than standard issue helmet shells, though. This should receive more attention.


decoupled suspension for tracked vehicles

The German Puma infantry fighting vehicle gets much attention for its unmanned turrets, gold-plating, high price and the long time it took to mature. An interesting feature hardly ever gets much attention: The running gear is de-coupled very much reducing vibrations inside and thus reducing the fatigue of its crew and passengers. There's only one other promising approach to have this as far as I know, and that's the (ancient tech) rubber band tracks. Combine both in a under-30 tons vehicle (approx. limit of rubber band track suitability) and you'd have a crew and (in APC or IFV) an infantry squad that's in much better shape when the shit hits the fan.


portable inertial navigation system

Satellite navigation (GPS, Galileo, Glonass) is great and accurate, and depends on geostationary orbit (35,786 km high!) satellites emitting ridiculously weak signals (GPS: 44.8 W with 12 dBi antenna gain). Drowning these signals with jammer emissions is easy for both Russian federation and PR China.

The go-to alternative for accurate navigation without SatNav is a inertial navigation system (INS). This was first used in aircraft in the 1960's and has been miniaturized and lightened tot he point that cheap smartphones have rudimentary INS abilities. Even the more accurate, more expensive accelerometer chips are quite cheap and we could simply give all radios an INS capability and SatNav capability. The INS would continue the navigation between SatNav reception updates or other (possibly manual) location updates.

The talk about military GPS receivers being jam-hardened and so on is physics bullshit in my opinion.

M885A1 EPR

This 5.56x45 mm cartridge was highly publicized and largely laid to rest the debate about whether 5.56 mm is a too weak calibre for dismounted use. Yes, there are still some efforts for an intermediate calibre, but this cartridge solved so many issues that the case for an intermediate cartridge was moved into a 'luxury problems' category.

The lead-free steel-tipped bullet is semi armour-piercing and its loading is so hot (high pressure) with such quick combustion (suitable for short barrels as in M4 carbine) that the performance (deadliness) issue of short barrel 5.56 mm weapons can be considered solved. The quicker combustion is also supposedly reducing muzzle flash (albeit flash hiders work wonders anyway).

The downsides are the the exposed steel tip scratches the weapon and magazines and the hot loading is wearing out guns quicker (and I suppose a few guns may generally be unsafe with this chamber pressure).

.338 Norma Magnum machineguns

The other intermediate calibre debate was less public; the search for a gun between 7.62x51 mm NATO and 12.7x99 mm NATO (.50 BMG). Everything that's armoured against anything is armoured against 7.62x51 mm NATO. The cartridge isn't terribly much respected regarding chewing through walls or sandbag cover, either. I myself was and are a proponent of such an intermediate calibre for vehicle-mounted machineguns (and sniper rifles). The reason is that the 12.7 mm cartridge is overkill for most purposes, the cartridges are terribly bulky and everything that's more hardened than against 7.62NATO is hardened against all but subcalibre 12.7 mm bullets.

It appears that the known sniper rifle calibre .338, more specifically the .338 Norma Magnum, had its breakthrough with an order for USSOCOM. There are two machineguns available for this calibre:



Sadly, it appears that the order was for dismounted use machineguns. That's horribly wrong in my opinion. It's just one more case of weight savings by technology being misused for performance gain rather than to finally lighten the infantryman's burden. The armed bureaucracies seem unable to appreciate the human component, agility, endurance.

Sound-based sensors

The acoustic sniper detection had a boom in the past two decades, the unattended ground sensors using microphones have been largely ignored (and maybe not much of a success), and the infrasound detection of helicopters (even without line of sight) is outright underappreciated.


I'm a proponent of a remotely controlled weapon (.338 machinegun) station on all battlefield ground motor vehicles except motorcycles and Medevac vehicles. Such a RCWS could be an ever-present defence against drones, but this requires sensors. Staring IR sensors plus microphones (doubling for mortar triangulation and sniper detection) could form this sensor package, and fire control would use an additional visual/IR sight with laser rangefinder/Ladar. Acoustic sensors seem underappreciated to me, and this in a very critical spot.

Tracers that don't burn

This https://ammoinc.com/product-category/product-family/streak-ammunition/ is a less intrusive alternative to tracers, and might be suitable for a universal day/night round. A weak glow is all that you need at night, and we don't need tracers in daylight. I doubt that the small cross section and high speed of a 5.56x45 bullet allow for the visual tracer effect in daylight with this technology.

Tracers used to be useful for small unit leaders to communicate where to shoot at, but this seems to be less of an reason with intrasquad radios and it wasn't a universal practice ever, anyway.

This was uncharacteristically hardware-centric, but in part it's a preparation for later posts.





The army air (non-)defence scandal

An interview is causing some waves, for it starts with the observation that German armed forces would have stood no chance to Azerbaijan's because of their inability to defend against drones. This may be an exaggeration*, but the issue is indeed severe, and I'm happy that the public takes note.

I've been on this for years; the lack of army air defence (let's neglect the two irrelevant bullshit pet projects and their miniscule procurement quantities) is a serious and fairly obvious flaw.










It's not just me, of course. Many former army air defence soldiers and also many fanbois have publicly regretted the demise of German army air defences. We should absolutely avoid nostalgia for the gone Gepard and Roland systems, though. Neither one would be of use today.

Cold War nostalgia: Self-propelled anti-air gun Gepard. Small, simple drones could easily defeat it unless it was upgraded so much that we could just as well buy a new vehicle. Small prop-driven kamikaze drones could simply shut down their engine and glide at bird speed to the target. This would defeat the 1970's doppler filter. Terrain-following killed drones could pop up and engage in fewer seconds than the reaction time of a Gepard. And then there's the issue of reduced radar cross section drones. Gepard is also quite useless against aircraft, which can accurately attack (with dumb bombs and rockets) from well above its effective ceiling. Even Stinger's greater ceiling was insufficient in mountainous Afghanistan. The Stinger myth claims many kills over Afghanistan's sky in the 80's, but the Soviets lost hardly any of the simplistic Su-25s.

My last link summed up what I consider advisable instead: Expensive area air defence missiles to force high cost aircraft (platforms) into cautious behaviour, cheaper missiles to hard kill the most dangerous munitions, some multi purpose firepower (such as against helicopters and high value ground targets) and last but not least thousands of remotely-controlled weapon stations on thousands of motor vehicles, rigged with the detection & identification gear needed to be effective even against below-treetop bird-sized drones.

I still hope we can avoid flying "fighter" drones for drone air-air combat, for those would need to be quite autonomous and that's a Pandora's box that mankind can hopefully kept shut.

Last but not least; the army air non-defence scandal is another good reason for German civilians to NOT respect the top brass and the BMVg, as it's one of their many gross failures to make proper use of public funds. We need some clean-up politician to head the BMVg, not career politicians who are expert at rising through the ranks of the internally rotten CDU only.

related (external links):





*: By the same logic the Wehrmacht stood no chance against the Red Army of 1941 because it had no good guns against the T-34 and KV tanks. Land warfare is much more than a mere comparison of hardware quantities and qualities.

P.S.:  I doubt that ANY army in NATO would be able to cope with the drone campaign used in the recent conflict. The only sliver of hope would be stand-off radio jamming, as even those army air defences that are in use would likely have failed just as much as Armenia's. Stand-off radio jamming is only going to be helpful until drones become autonomous hunter-killer systems, though.



German naval power analysis for 1923...1939

Germany exited the First World War with a very much reduced navy. Its three most powerful ships were already obsolete by 1906, faced superior French equivalents (still in service for inexplicable reasons) and completely superior French and British battleships (and British battlecruisers). It was not allowed to have submarines, but the British, French and Soviets had or built plenty submarines The only slivers of hope for the German naval position were the Soviet neglect of the Baltic fleet (and other Soviet fleets, a consequence of some anti-Soviet mutinies in the navy) and the hope that the French would not dare entering the Baltic waters with battleships.

Blank_map_of_Europe.svg: maix¿?derivative work: Alphathon /'æl.f'æ.ðɒn/, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The German navy of the 1920's and most of the 1930's was basically only good for a naval blockade of Poland, and that was rather pointless considering the strategic situation on land and the possibility that Polish arms imports by sea might be escorted by a foreign great power navy. 

flag of the Reichsmarine 1921-1935

I suppose the ships and boats of Germany in the 20's and 30's can be divided into groups, with very distinct utility and justifications.

Group A: Coastal forces

image linked from kbismarck.com

(1) minesweepers (the German approach to it was also usable as a coastal escort of little capability)

(2) coastal minesweepers (smaller and cheaper boats mostly useful for sweeping marked lanes in front of a port over and over again)

(3) torpedo recovery boats (for training, could also be done by the minesweepers)

(4) net layers (to close and open net barriers near and in ports, could be improvised with very small civilian ships)

(5) defensive minelayers (could be done by modified coastal cargo ships in wartime as done during WW2, so the peacetime navy only needed some testing & training opportunities. Many non-specialised craft had mine laying rails for this.

Vorpostenboot / picket boat, image linked from german-navy.de

(6) picket boats (most of these would be wartime production or modification, technically similar to coastal fishing trawlers)

(7) motor torpedo boats (which make close port blockades too dangerous with potential nighttime surprise torpedo attacks and also make passing the Danish straits between North Sea and Baltic Sea very dangerous)

(8) minebreakers / hull-mounted influence minesweepers (sweeping mines by triggering them itself, preferably at a survivable distance ahead)

(9) 15 cm coastal artillery Most German coastal cities are quite inaccessible to accurate coastal bombardment by geography, unless one assumes undisturbed operation of an aerial forward observer. 15 cm was and is a sufficient calibre to defeat smaller units that might come close enough to such coastal cities for line-of-sight fires, or dare to enter rivers.

15 cm C/28, photo linked from weaponsandwarfare.com, hat tip to Mitch

Group A is mostly what you could even have in law enforcement or civilian institutions. Minesweepers evidently were civilian in the immediate post-WW2 years, for example. Motor torpedo boats (and coastal minesweepers) would have been great for customs, police and maybe even civilian search and rescue, and easily converted in a few days for military use. The coastal artillery could have been under army control*, as was later partially done during WW2.

The ships and boats of group A were relatively cheap and dual purpose. They could be justified due to their low cost.

Group B: Blockaderunning enablers

Blockaderunning would be feasible in a conflict with France (albeit this would have been a quick decisive defeat on land until about 1936) in three ways:

(1) Blockaderunning cargo ships could exploit Norwegian territorial waters for safety and then sprint just the final section from Oslo to German Baltic Sea ports.

(2) The blockaderunners would have to run roughly the double distance in case France does not respect neutral Norwegian territorial waters, and could be intercepted by cruisers, auxiliary cruisers and destroyers between Norway and Scotland. The blockaderunning would thus likely happen in severe weather (and new moon nights) or during wintertime (long, preferably new moon nights) with possibly still bad weather (especially rain).

(3) Wartime production unarmed trade submarines (as done in WWI, suitable only for cargo of great value relative to its volume and for natural rubber import).

Blockaderunning enablers would be destroyers (escort mostly against the dozens of French submarines, though for lack of a sonar until the mid-1930's mostly by spotting rather than by engaging them) which would not fare well in severe weather, light cruisers (good against destroyers, auxiliary cruisers, and at most against light cruisers or at night heavy cruisers, but still not promising for severe weather) and heavy cruisers (basically only useful against cruisers and against destroyers in daytime).

The French fleet had no fast capital ships until the mid-30's and could not have maintained more than 50% of its capital ship, cruiser and destroyer strength on blockade patrol. Blockaderunners of 21+ kts speed would have been able to slip by the battleships in good visibility if enabled by good scouting. Light cruisers were still considered to be the best scouts, as aircraft were not very capable until the mid-1930's, and Germany could only have used modified passenger aircraft for naval scouting till the mid-1930's anyway. Destroyers were faster and cheaper than light cruisers, but slower in rough seas and generally much weaker in a gun duel.

The few German heavy cruisers with 20.3 cm guns built in the mid-late 1930's might be considered suitable for the blockaderunning-enabler (escort) task.

The only really reliable approach against a French naval blockade would have been to do some clandestine overseas trading through the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and for clearly German export goods with wartime-built trade submarines. The blockaderunning enablers were thus not a 100% necessity.

Group C: Diversion for blockaderunning-enabling

German 28 cm SK C/28 triple turret. The first triple turret munition transportation issues solved for a rate of fire about equal to twin turrets. image linked from navweaps

Three heavy cruisers with unusually large primary artillery calibre of 28 cm (actual calibre 28.3 cm) were a subject of great political debate in the late Weimar Republic and meant as treaty-legal replacement orders for the three pre-Dreadnoughts. Their 28 cm triple turrets were spectacular for cruisers, but more spectacular (and less obvious to the public) was their diesel engine-enabled range, which permitted mid-Atlantic operations from German ports even without refuelling at sea. The actual impact on French maritime shipping could not possibly be considered important to a war effort, so the only flimsy excuse for their existence would be a diversion; drawing battlecruisers and heavy cruisers away from the far blockade task in the North Sea. The problem with this was that the only French cruiser with the speed and range for hunting them was the Algérie, a rather inferior contemporary heavy cruiser that would not have been sent out to chase such a German ship alone. It would rather have been sent after an auxiliary cruiser. The only French ships with the speed, range and combat ability to hunt these German raider cruisers were the two battlecruisers built in response to them. These two battlecruisers were also incredibly useful for a more capable North Sea blockade patrol and might not have existed if Germany hadn't built these three heavy 28 cm gun cruisers.

Diversion only works if the opponent doesn't understand that not being distracted is more advantageous for him or if the diversion is extremely cost-efficient. This and the inherent illogic of the three 28 cm cruisers rendered them unnecessary.

Group D:  Coastal submarines

Coastal submarines (type II) eventually mostly served as training boats, but they could be considered a complement to the motor torpedo boats in that they would deter entering the Baltic Sea in force and deter close blockades. They were not needed for either role when they were commissioned, for at that time non-dedicated aircraft were able to deter such French naval actions.

Redundant to air power and motor torpedo boats, the coastal submarines were an unnecessary, avoidable and dangerous irritation of the UK.

edit: In case you're confused as I previously mentioned they were not allowed by Versailles Treaty to have submarines: Here's the background story.

Group E:  Lots of prestige ships and boats

These ships were supposedly useful for commerce raiding and submarine blockade in the Atlantic.

This group includes the four battleships, which were near-irrelevant for commerce raiding and unnecessary for blockaderunning-enabling against the French navy due to the availability of air power by the time of their commissioning.

This group also includes the oceanic submarines, all of which were only pushing the British into thinking of Germany as primary antagonist (which was not as self-evident as one would think today, for there was still the Soviet Union and Italy was the European troublemaker #1 in 1936-1938, which is nowadays largely forgotten).

None of these made sense. A war against France without war against the UK could not possibly be influenced much with commerce raiding or submarine efforts, as France could trade through the UK (easily secured English Channel) and the Mediterranean. A war against both France and the UK looked hopeless during the entire 1920's and 1930's. The French collapse in 1940 was contrary to any justifiable expectations and contrary to the strategic imbalance, which greatly favoured the Western powers. A naval blockade against the UK after a defeat of France could much better be done by air power (see Mitsubishi G3M abilities, first flight 1935) than by submarines, as Germany could more quickly produce thousands of long range bombers than hundreds of oceanic submarines. Furthermore, the effect of ASDIC (sonar) was unpredictable, making any bet on submarines at least as risky as a bet on the much more versatile air power.

Furthermore, Germany would first have needed to defeat and occupy France before it could hope to defeat the UK with a naval blockade, so using versatile air power that's both useful for defeating France and defeating the UK made more sense. Submarines were not very capable at shelling French land forces.

I consider any opinion that there was a near-success of the submarine blockade during WWI to be delusional. The UK was at no time even close to the import restrictions that Germany suffered from throughout the war. Germany had a famine in the winter of 1916/1917 before Ukrainian agricultural resources were captured. The UK didn't even come close to the scarcities faced by Germany outside of this famine. A naval blockade against the UK could not possibly be decisive as long as the easily-secured Portsmouth-Le Havre route was available for trade, enabling even distant overseas trade through the French Mediterranean port of Marseilles. A successful naval blockade of the UK would thus have had hostile control of Northern France as a necessary condition.

The expensive and provocative group E seemed to lack sufficient justifications.

Group F: Armed merchantmen/auxiliary cruisers

The French had very little ocean patrolling ability, so even the North Atlantic would have been a promising area of operations for such raiders if the UK stayed neutral. The French ability to hunt and stop auxiliary cruisers on other oceans was negligible.

anatomy of most successful German WWI raider SMS Wolf (with aircraft "Wölfchen"), image linked from squadronshop

It didn't take much to create an effective auxiliary cruiser for commerce raiding. You needed a preferably fast (17+ kts) ship with very good endurance at sea, some holding cells for prisoners, cranes, at least one 10.5 cm or bigger gun. Luxury features would be extra crew quarters for prize crews (and prisoners), surplus guns to turn prize ships into additional auxiliary cruisers, strong gun or torpedo armaments capable of surprise-killing a cruiser, beyond-the-horizon passive sonar or a scouting aircraft** with associated equipment (especially a catapult). Such auxiliary cruisers did thus not require much expense in peacetime. Even the crew could mostly be drawn from conscripted merchant marine personnel and would not require much if any expense in peacetime.

Group F needed no peacetime justification, for it incurred hardly any expenses (if any expenses at all) in peacetime.

- - - - -

I wrote a rather polemic text about the stupidity and uselessness of German navies before, but this more in-depth look shows that at most some paramilitary coastal forces were ever required and at most a modestly-budgeted navy similar to the Weimar Republic's navy could be justified, albeit not be proved to be necessary.

This lengthy blog post still doesn't come close to a comprehensive and 100% conclusive argument, but I did what the format permits (hopefully) without being too boring for almost all readers. Moreover, naval-interested readers will likely have noticed the completely different approach and narrative of this blog post compared to just about all literature on the subject. Most literature on the ships and navies of the era has an almost fanboi-ish approach by comparison. It doesn't analyse the actual needs, or missions, or budget justifications. Some admiral issued a requirement for a certain ship? That's good enough for just about every author. I like the excellent books of M.J. Whitley in particular, but he, too, doesn't cover non-technical aspects much and only mentioned very briefly what capabilities the men behind the procurement wanted.


*: It could have been under army control, save for the Versailles Treaty restrictions which rendered such an option nonsensical. I'm describing here why capability-wise hardly any naval establishment was needed. The political-legal restrictions enforced another reality.

**: Such floatplanes were incredibly useful not just for scouting. They even tried (and presumably sometimes succeeded) to cut the radio antenna cables of ships so they could not emit an emergency radio message.

P.S.: The German cruiser designs of the Interwar Year were all badly flawed:

light cruiser Emden: unusually good range, but inefficient and poorly protected artillery concept

later light cruisers: unsuitable for severe weather, built more for show than performance, could not withstand battle damage well, too large crew

28 cm heavy cruisers: slower than most new foreign cruisers, cost-inefficient, unsuitable for severe weather, poor secondary and anti-air artillery, armour insufficient as protection against all heavy cruisers, too large crew (albeit the excess could be used to man prize ships on a raiding patrol)

20.3 cm heavy cruisers: unreliable propulsion (due to very high steam pressures), fuel inefficient even by steam propulsion stnadards, poor anti-air artillery (insufficient though better than what the French and British heavy cruisers had), armour could be penetrated by French Algérie at some relevant distances without being able to penetrate Algérie's deck or belt armour as well, too large crew

It's remarkable that these ships were poor at severe weather, even though this would have been ideal weather for blockaderunning. The German navy appeared to have been too centred on pleasant peacetime cruises close to German ports. The  post-Emden light cruisers in particular were built more to look good on paper than to excel in combat, a 180° reversal of German pre-WWI naval design philosophy.

Likewise, the Japanese overloaded their ships to the point of some of them capsizing in storms. The Italians exaggerated (the importance of) the speed of their cruisers. The French had very flawed guns on their early super destroyers. Americans and Italians in particular had heavy cruiser turrets with barrels so close to each other that the horribly large salvo dispersion disarmed the ship for long range duels. Flawed ships were common, but it's striking that the poor seaworthiness of German cruisers was contrary to the least weak justification of their existence.



Link drop June 2021

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Commander of Space Force unit fired after accusing the military of pushing an agenda ‘rooted in Marxism’ 

This is by far not the only full blown nutjob among the American flag ranks senior officers. The USAF was reported to be particularly infested, especially by bible humpers. This is a consequence of Strategic Air Command culture from deep in the Cold War times.

I suppose the new administration should identify and remove the nutjobs with priority on command positions in nuclear arms units and on the military bases in the capital. Else, the next January 6th-style attack on the Republic might be mounted with Washington D.C.-based troops and succeed.

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I'm sceptical about this. It will be possible to fool the algorithm into highlighting the contours of irrelevant things and to not highlight the contours of some relevant things. The NVG user will become reliant on the highlighting and thus be more easily fooled than without the highlighting. Moreover, this tech sure is very expensive for likely incremental net gain (and only so at night). 

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And again no supersonic business jet as basis for electronic warfare aircraft!

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just a bit tank p0rn:

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This opinion piece misleading, showing the narrative bias of the author. Israel saying that the building with AP reporters was targeted because Hamas operated from it as well is not an excuse, it's a confession. The Geneva Convention clearly states that you must not target such a building with civilians. The attack was very likely a war crime.


The possibly legitimate way would have been to inform the AP reporters and other civilians (including Hamas civilians!) that the building may get targeted for paramilitary Hamas presence (if the Hamas presence thing was real and not just an ex post lie and if the war in itself was legitimate, which is another question). The civilians would then have been able to vacate the building in time.[I checked again because of a comment hint and found an AP article confirming that a one-hour warning was indeed given to the owner or the building. I have not found any evidence that legitimate Hamas targets were actually present, though.]

Now Israel did not sign & ratify the Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, but that doesn't matter much for the judgment of its actions. North Korea didn't sign the NPT and nobody posits that all would be fine about Iran and nuclear tech once it left the NPT, right?

Any concerns about military effectiveness are irrelevant for the question of war crime or not. Committing war crimes in pursuit of more firepower effect is still committing war crimes.

The indiscriminate firing of high explosive rockets into villages and cities is just as bad, though this war has no doubt again led to many more civilians killed by the Israeli government than by Palestinians, by an order of magnitude. (I'm not sure how much Hamas could be called a Palestinian government, they only control the Gaza Strip and are more akin to separatists IMO).

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[German] twitter.com/clausvonwagner/status/1390615813825179653