Saturday, June 23, 2018

Why History?

Screen capture from the film The Red Baron
I write a lot about history, mostly because it fascinates me and it helps me to understand how we humans operate in groups. If you think that a group of people act the same as an individual, you are making a big mistake. Sometimes a fatal mistake. A study of history helps one see that.

There is a lot of crap going on in the country right now, most of it is meant to distract the less discerning members of the voting public from the real issues of the day. If you know your history, you can separate the wheat from the chaff. But not by watching most of the major "news" networks. They have convinced themselves that they are important, even though they are, for the most part, not important at all, they are no more than propaganda outlets. If we really thought about things, we'd know that most of what passes in this country for news, is not.

There are people in the world right now who are making history, most of the others are just making noise. I despise the noise makers.


I ran across the following clip on YouTube, it's from the movie The Red Baron which came out in 2008. I watched it a while back, it was entertaining. After watching this aerial sequence (most of which is CGI, but still good) I decided that I need to watch the movie again. (The film is available on Amazon Prime.)

I'll leave it to Juvat and the other pilots out there to judge the accuracy of the flying, but the clip "feels right," in other words, it gives an insight into World War I in the air. The end of the clip, mercifully cut short, is sad beyond belief, and not just for the obvious reasons.

Enjoy...



Another good clip, this one from the BBC. They quote Boelcke, which means that they did their homework.

The pilots of the Great War were brave beyond belief!





38 comments:

  1. It is the truth; if we fail to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. History itself backs that up. Have that movie and watched it the other day.

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    1. I watched it again after I wrote this post. Entertaining, but as history? Terrible.

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    2. Historia Magistra Vitae.
      leave it to the Romans to put a wisdom of ages into three words.
      anyway, nowadays it boils down to "those who learn history are forced to watch helplessly as everyone else repeats mistakes of the past"
      Chinese trying to follow Japan on Imperialism course of 1930-1945? check.
      Trump trying his best to emulate Smoot-Hawley of 1930s. check!
      Extreme right and extreme left emulating 1930s in hope of getting another go at either being Stalin or Hitler, check.
      I am VERY afraid this all points to rerun of 1937-45 - with lots of nukes waiting to be used.

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    3. Don't believe everything you hear in the media Paweł. Things are actually getting better, not worse. But for the leftists to succeed, Trump has to fail.

      If you are watching the news on the telly, odds are it's something Herr Goebbels would be proud of.

      And the Romans were pretty smart folks.

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  2. The man that ran the Oldsmobile dealership in Mangum, Ok was an ace from WW1. Both my folks were from Greer county. I asked dad about him, he said he was a nice man, remembered him well.

    The warriors that took to the sky in wood and fabric, mostly without parachutes, to do battle.... I just can't imagine. The Gnome engine that only let you turn one way quickly, and made the aircraft almost unmanageable, the open cockpits, castor oil(Just how sticky is that stuff??), radiators in the top wing, my mind truly marvels at who could do that.... Just a few shots would scald you with water, blow up the gas tank in your face, or spray you with hot oil. Or worse yet, send you to your death, spiraling down with a minute or two to wait...... Or was it burning to a crisp as you whirled you way to the ground? What kind of warriors were those men? How did they adjust to that kind of stress? Again, I think about them, and my mind marvels at who could do that??

    Georges Guyemer was a hero of mine when I was a kid. Memorized the eye chart so he could be a pilot, then was a solo operator. A lone wolf. He had a lot of guts. How do you fly that well, shoot that well when you can see that well? He did ultimately fly off into oblivion, but his sheer drive to be the best at what he chose to do was inspiring....

    Those kinds of men were my heroes. I'm glad their stories were told.

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    1. edit -shoot that well when you CAN'T see that well-

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    2. They were my heroes too STxAR, amazing what they did.

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    3. Heh, my brain autocorrected that, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

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  3. Interesting timing. In my FB "Memories" yesterday was this: http://appalachianmagazine.com/2016/01/09/german-soldier-writes-mother-of-w-va-soldier-he-killed-during-wwi-a-letter-2/

    In part:
    "Merkelbach sent these and other photos and souvenirs of his wartime service to Mrs. Bennett after the war.
    Merkelbach wrote:

    “[I] had an opportunity to admire the keenness and bravery of your son; for this reason I should like to give you the following short description [of Louis’s final battle]. . . . I had been up several hours observing, and was at a height of 1000 meters. Over the enemy’s front circled continuously two hostile airplanes. . . . I immediately gave the command to my men below to haul in my balloon. . . . When still about 300 meters high, I saw [another] German balloon . . . plunge to earth burning. At the same moment I saw the hostile flyer (Louis) come toward my balloon at terrific speed, and immediately the defensive fire of my heavy machine rifles below and of the anti-aircraft guns began; but the hostile aviator did not concern himself about that. . . . [He] opened fire on me. . . . I saw the gleaming fire of the missiles flying toward me, but fortunately was not hit. The hostile machine was shot into flames by the fire of my machine guns. The enemy aviator tried to spring from the aeroplane before the latter plunged to the ground and burned completely.”

    Merkelbach ordered the ambulance corps to attend to the “brave and severely wounded enemy.” Louis was unconscious and severely burned. Both of his legs were broken, and he had a bullet wound in his head. He died just hours later in a German field hospital on August 24, 1918. The Germans buried him with military honors in an unmarked grave."

    Amazingly brave young men. Of course, at the age most of them were males are still convinced of their immortality and immunity to injury.

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    1. An amazing story, thanks for sharing that Joe.

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    2. The serendipity of that showing up for me and you writing your post was too good to pass up. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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    3. They probably started out convinced of their immunity, but that seems to have been quickly cured. A U.S. volunteer flying with a Canadian outfit wrote, after three months of combat, that a coward couldn't stick it out long enough to learn what real fear was. Reading the words of Richthofen or Udet, or careful biographies of Mannock or Guynemer, is impressive in many ways.

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  4. Hey Old AF Sarge;

    Awesome video's. Thank you

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  5. My maternal grandfather was a flight instructor in France during WWI. I have a copy of his discharge from the U.S. Army Air Service (2Lt) at Camp Dix, February 23, 1919. I was discharged from Ft. Dix on February 16, 1977.

    Here is a very interesting video about the Fokker DR1---

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z25T-s0gu8M

    Now I will have to go watch "The Great Waldo Pepper" again.

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    1. Nice video RHT447.

      Seems your family was heavily involved in aviation for more than one generation.

      I need to track down a copy of The Blue Max. No doubt can be had on Amazon.

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    2. Indeed the family was. I was keen to follow on, but was 20/16 on the right and 20/22 on the left. Was doing OK until they checked my depth perception. Yeah, full stop for flying taxpayer owned aircraft. On the bright side, being right handed and right eye dominant, marksmanship worked out well.

      Very much enjoy your romps through history, and for many of the same reasons. I have always been fascinated by ACM. Things like the DR1 being superb for a knife fight in a phone booth, but not so much if nobody steps into the booth. And then the same thing happens later with the A6M Zero. Not long ago I read about the development of the GM4 'Betty' bomber, and learned that the outer skin of the wing was also the wall of the internal fuel tanks. Puts a whole different spin on "flying gas can".

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    3. The Bettys burned well, and often.

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  6. With such small cockpits and such limited lift capability, it's amazing that those aircraft could get off the ground carrying the big brass objects of the pilots.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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  7. Most enjoyable clips. I have not seen the movie, but will check it out on Amazon Prime.
    The part that struck me the most was the degree of yaw that was used (or needed) in these historic battles. The technology and its rapid improvement rate was phenomenal for the time. I can only think that it led up to the Space Shuttle and all that we are seeing now at the coast under the name of Space X.
    The close head to head pass in the first clip (I believe) caused me to shudder. I have been there, done that, albeit at a higher closing rate. I can also remember a time where my Phantom and I ran out of airspeed just at the same time my "aggressor" did. We were canopy to canopy at about 30,000 feet. There wasn't anything to do for what seemed like a long time. We just sort of drifted apart in the stall and recovered without hitting each other. What a vivid memory I have of that moment. There are others, as well, but they're for another time.
    Also, I don't believe that the Phantom had any visible tappets.

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    1. In those days aerial combat could be intensely personal. Sounds like it can happen in the jet age as well, probably not as often given the speeds.

      Thinking back, I don't recall visible tappets on the Phantom either. ;)

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    2. We watched "The Red Baron" on Amazon Prime Saturday evening. They portrayed Manfred interestingly. Need to know more before I can really comment. But then, as I recall, most all of us had blond hair and piercing blue eyes. Not!

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    3. A lot of ahistoric romantic nonsense in the movie. But I loved the flying sequences!

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    1. I'm keen to try it. Belts all securely fastened of course...

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  9. The following is generally attributed to George Santayana "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." That may well be the reason that General James Mattis carried dozens of history texts with him throughout his career.

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    1. I'm pretty sure Santayana did indeed say (or write) that.

      General Mattis is a very smart man. One of the best of his generation.

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  10. Fess up, Sarge! The real reason you like history so much is that when you first learned it, it was called "current events".

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  11. Well, I'm in. I used to tell war stories. Now I teach history.

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    1. One man's war story becomes the next generation's history.

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  12. Mom's dad worked for Pratt and Whitney troubleshooting engines and helping to fix them when they "broke". He spent a lot of time flying around the world figuring out why the plane crashed. He first went to work there in the late 19teens, and his stories of the "testing facility" show that the OSHA regs have changed and improved over the years. He often told about having to edge sideways to get past the edge of the (spinning) prop as there was only about 24 inches between that and the wall.
    We often watch the news to see the latest weatherguesser report, and hubbie uses the mute button frequently saying "that's not news". So much of it is whining about how the person is being "put upon". I often wonder what those gentlemen who went off to the wars in Europe, and were able to get back home, must think of all the nonsense that is going on these days.
    Knowing my grandfather, the air must be blue in certain parts of Heaven....know what I mean?

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    1. Sigh, I know what you mean, Suz.

      It's enough to make a person take up strong drink. And stronger language.

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  13. Albatros fighters really were handsome aircraft. Very aerodynamic.

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    1. The basic design lasted quite some time. Very pretty aircraft they were.

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