28 May 2007
27 May 2007
25 May 2007
Book review of Anthony L. Stachiw and Andrew Tattersall's CF104 Starfighter (In Canadian Service: Aircraft #4)
From the very beginning of this 150-page, extremely well-illustrated book, it is clear that this project was a labour of love for the author, Anthony Stachiw, as well as the illustrator, Andrew Tattersall. Stachiw in an aviation industry veteran and former commercial pilot whose has had an active interest in military and civil aviation his entire life. Tattersall is a technical designer, also with a lifelong interest in aviation. The amazing colour aircraft profile drawings were created by freelance artist Stephen Otvos.
This book is a reference tool, with a substantial amount of historical context thrown in to round out the story of the CF104. It covers, to my mind, every conceivable aspect of the history, design, general operational use and technical details of the aircraft - everything from paint schemes to the original "downward firing ejector seat system" of the American-built F-104s.
The first chapter deals with the American background, specifically the design, production and use of the Lockheed F-104 from the early 1950s through the late 1970s. The numerous variants and changes in operational usage and status are clearly set within the context of what could only be described as a troubled and perhaps disappointing career in the United States Air Force. Nevertheless, Stachiw is able to justify that the nearly 2,600 Starfighters produced made it "one of the most important Western postwar military aircraft" (p.22).
The CF104 Starfighter is introduced in the second chapter as part of the overall ability of the Americans to expand the production of the F-104 to allied markets. By the late 1950s the Canadian government was forced to look for a replacement aircraft for the F-86 Sabres and CF100 Canucks serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons on North Atlantic Treaty Organization duties in western Europe. Stachiw's coverage of the type of aircraft produced in Canada, the impact on the Canadian aviation industry, testing, training of pilots, deployment and operations in Europe until the 1980s make this a very interesting discussion. He also discusses the aircraft's perhaps unenviable safety record (the "Widowmaker" moniker), given that more than 100 Starfighters were in major accidents in the air and on the ground, with nearly forty fatalities suffered. Finally, he provides serial number, acquisition and "destiny" data on the overall CF104 fleet.
The third chapter, titled "Aircraft Description and Drawings", is, not surprisingly, where the book gets really technically-minded. This portion provides great detail on the specifications of CF104s, combining data, images and drawings.
The fourth chapter takes the structural or organizational look, and provides brief lineages and operational histories on the divisions, wings, squadrons, training units, and establishments involved in operational flying, training of pilots, or testing the CF104 during its time in the Royal Canadian Air Force / Air Command. This chapter also provides illustrations of the badges of these units and formations, some of them rarely seen outside of unpublished documentation.
A different sort of technical matter is the subject of the fifth chapter, specifically colour schemes and markings for the CF104. Likely of particular interest to the aircraft modeller, this information is also well placed in the context of the CF104's operations within the Canadian military. Of special note is the explanation of some of the unique or eccentric paint schemes ("Tiger", "Checkerboard", etc.) used on the aircraft at various times.
The sixth chapter deals with the armament and weapons configurations used for the CF104 while in Canadian service. This information and historical context leads directly into the seventh, and final, chapter, dealing briefly with the CF104 in the context of aircraft modelling.
All in all, this is a very interesting and extremely detailed examination of the CF104 Starfighter. It would seem that this type of book is intended primarily either for the aircraft modeller or the specific aircraft buff, but it certainly does not fail to uphold the historical side of the aircraft's career as well. In a format where historical context could easily slip beneath the wings of technical detail, Stachiw and Tattersall deliver a very useful story of this part of Canada's material heritage.
24 May 2007
"With the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare is very much a 'hot' topic of discussion within defence circles. There is a growing body of literature devoted not only to current theatres of combat, but also predicting that COIN-type operations will dominate warfare in the near future. If true, air power practitioners will need to explore COIN warfare in all of its dimensions: past, present and future. The rigorous study of air power as it applies to COIN was never a constant priority for the air power community; it waxed or waned depending on the current war or organizational goals. Perhaps the only constant has been that whenever air power was available, it was employed, or misemployed, in COIN conflicts throughout history. It is doubtful that this will change in the future; therefore, the onus is on us to learn from the past."
Speakers for the conference include several experts from the Canada, the United States and Great Britain. For registation or additional information, visit the conference website or contact either Major Bill March (tel 613-392-3811 ext 4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Captain Lynn Lacroix (tel 613-392-2811 ext 4387 or email@example.com).
19 May 2007
15 May 2007
14 May 2007
10 May 2007
Can you imagine if LAC was able to digitize and post the entire personnel files for all the members of the CEF? I'm drooling at the sheer thought of it. But, for the moment, if you're lucky enough to be in Ottawa you can only sit down with the paper files to get the rest of the personnel information or, if you're not in Ottawa, you can only order photocopies.
However, it seems that the British may have broken the mold. Well, sort of. Computeractive, a British website, reported in late February on a joint venture between the Ancestry.co.uk website and The National Archives "to make service and pension records of soldiers who served in the British Army between 1914 and 1920 available online." This data has been mined from more than 8,000 microfilm reels held by The National Archives. Just like their Canadian counterparts, these personnel files provide information on the individual's occupation, physical characteristics, movements, postings, next of kin, etc. Officially, the records to be made available are part of WO 363 (British Army Service Records) and WO 364 (British Army Pension Records).
Unfortunately, the project will only ever be able to provide only part of the story. Although about five million soldiers from Great Britain fought during the war, German bombing in the Second World War seems to have destroyed 60 per cent of the service records from the First World War, and severely damaged many others. This project will be carried out in stages, beginning with pension documents for approximately 100,000 soldiers. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.
The records will be available for searching on the ancestry.co.uk website - either through a subscription or pay-per-view - for 10 Pounds per month or 80 Pounds per year.
07 May 2007
A while back I came across the Canadian Great War Project (www.canadiangreatwarproject.com), a website and project run by Marc Leroux. As the site notes:
"The Canadian Great War Project is intended to promote interest in Canada's participation in World War 1, commonly referred to as the Great War, to research the Canadians who participated in the Great War 1914-1919 or other nationalities who served in the CEF. The content is primarily database driven to facilitate searches for information. The site is, and will continue to be, a work in progress; there are currently over 73,000 entries of individual soldiers, and has become a collaborative effort among those interested in researching Canada and the Great War."
The options on the site are pretty straightforward and include "feedback", "searches", "war diaries", "Canada in the war", "books and media", "statistics", "from the front", "memorials", "rolls and awards", "images", links and more. At present, the site contains more than 6,500 war diary entries, 380 transcripted letters and newspaper articles, 530 images and 380 book and media descriptions. All in all, a very interesting and commendable project.
02 May 2007
Berg, Glen, "Scrambling for Dollars: Resource Allocation and the Politics of Canadian Fighter Aircraft Procurement, 1943-1983", MA thesis, Royal Military College of Canada, 1994;
Blazanovic, Nick N., "The Rebirth of North American Air Defence", MA thesis, University of Manitoba, 1994;
Bristman, Barry, "In the Strategic Interests of Canada: Canadian Arms Sales to Israel and Other Middle East States, 1949-1956", MA thesis, University of Calgary, 1992;
Cafferky, Michael Shawn, "Towards the Balanced Fleet: A History of the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service, 1943-1945", MA thesis, University of Victoria, 1990;
Davison, Janet Frances, "We shall remember: Canadian Indians and World War II", MA thesis, Trent University, 1993;
Endicott, Valerie, "Woman's place (was) everywhere: A Study of Women who Worked in Aircraft Production in Toronto during the Second World War", MA thesis, University of Toronto, 1991;
English, Allan Douglas, "The cream of the crop: A Study of Selection, Training, and Policies governing Lack of Moral Fibre in Aircrew of the Royal Canadian Air Force, 1939-1945", Doctoral dissertation, Queen's University, 1994;
Gingrich, S.K., "Defence Production Sharing and Canada and the United States, 1957-1967", MA thesis, University of Victoria, 1991;
Hards, Danielle, "We are the girls behind the boys behind the guns: Military Women and the Canadian Forces", MA thesis, Carleton University, 1994;
Machabée, Ghislaine, "Vie et mort du Livre blanc sur la défense de 1987: autopsie d'une politique", MSc thèse, Université de Montréal, 1992;
Marmura, Stephen, "Covering Desert Storm: Canadian Media Commentary and the War in the Gulf", MA thesis, University of Guelph, 1993;
Van Meenen, Mary Ann, "The Canadian Intervention in Siberia, 1918-1919", MA thesis, Dalhousie University, 1990;
Nuttall, Leslie, "Canadianization and the No. 6 Bomber Group R.C.A.F.", Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary, 1990;
Quinn, Robert James, "This is our battle, too!: Canadian Servicewomen and the Second World War", MA thesis, Dalhousie University, 1994; and
Robitaille, Éric, "Militaires et Inuit dans l'Est de l'Artique canadien, 1942-1965", MA thèse, Université Laval, 1987.
01 May 2007
Paul Douglas Dickson, a strategic analyst and military historian with the Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Department of National Defence, has published A Thoroughly Canadian General: A Biography of General H.D.G. Crerar. As the catalogue notes:
General H.D.G. 'Harry' Crerar (1888-1965) was involved in or directly responsible for many of the defining moments of Canadian military history in the twentieth century. In the First World War, Crerar was nearly killed at the second battle of Ypres, was a gunner who helped to secure victory at Vimy Ridge, and was a senior staff officer during the pivotal battles of the last Hundred Days. During the Second World War, he occupied and and often defined the Canadian army's senior staff and operational appointments, including his tenure as commander of First Canadian Army through the northwest European campaign.
Despite his pivotal role in shaping the Canadian army, however, General Crerar has been long overlooked as a subject of biography. In A Thoroughly Canadian General, Paul Dickson examines the man and his controversial place in Canadian military history, arguing that Crerar was a nationalist who saw the army as an instrument to promote Canadian identity and civic responsibility. From his days as a student at the Royal Military College in Kingston, to his role as primary architect of First Canaidan Army, the career of H.D.G. Crerar is thoroughly examined with a view to considering and reinforcing his place in the history of Canada and its armed forces.