Feature photo: Russian Attack Helicopters  can take the looks of a huge ugly monster: As a variation on the Flying Tigers Shark Mouth nose art, this chopper has Dracula style fangs on its rear, giving it the looks of a menacing mechanical cockroach that escaped from an SF film.Monster-Helicopter

Around 1480,  before he painted the Universal Masterwork Mona Lisa, the Italian Genius Architect, Artist and Inventor Leonardo da Vinci designed flying machines. Many based on mimicking the flight of a bird with the use of artificial wings to be flapped (ornithopter) but one, very remarkably, copied from the fluttering winged seeds that fly away from trees as tiny propellers.  The seed’s rotating motion works on the wind and gravity and had since ages inspired the Chinese with their bamboo toy helicopters that kids flew by spinning the propeller shaft between the palms of their hands. Leonardo’s design was somewhat similar but much bigger, it had a hand-cranked spiral rotor (see picture below) in the shape of a parasol, an “Aerial Screw” that goes vertically upwards.

It is the basic idea of the Helicopter, designed 350-400 years before the industrial revolution started! If ever built,  it could not have generated enough lift to fly the machine with the (from 4 pilots) combined muscle power and would have been hard to control. Yet, the brain child of this man was to be the start of something that ages later would lead to the first controlled flight “as a bird” with that propeller. Leonardo’s ideas finally came to reality, an ages old dream of mankind: to fly like a bird at will and control the craft in all dimensions. A tribute to the man Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest human spirits of all time. I saw once an exposition of his works (see photo below), it is totally beyond comprehension that such designs could be drawn 500 years ago, by the end of the Middle Ages!

As first, there came the lighter-than-air Hot Air Balloons made by the French Montgolfier Brothers with a first human flight made in June 1783 over 1, 2 miles. Later, gas filled Balloons were driven by propellers for some directional control in flight, and German Otto Lilienthal wrote history in 1891 with human’s first glider flight over a distance of 25 meters from a hill. From there, it became a matter of finding the light weight engine to propel an aircraft into the sky on an autonomous flight. The historical first manned and controlled flight in a heavier-than -air craft was made in 1903 by the Wright Brothers , with use of two air screws driven by a single piston engine.

Much less publicized is the first flight of the helicopter. Only 4 years later, a Frenchman named Paul Cornu claimed to have made a first helicopter flight in 1907, but there is no evidence of that flight. But a man named Emile Berliner (originating from Germany, living in USA) made his first vertical Helicopter flight in 1909, which is documented (see small photo below). He was the inventor of the Gramophone that gave birth to the 20th century Recording Industry based on the flat record disc with his Victor Company (Later RCA, His Master’s Voice). With that company, he had earned sufficient money to experiment with this radically different design of flight with “rotating wings”. In the early 1920’s, he coupled a French WWI Nieuport 23 aircraft fuselage to two beams in place of the wings. Two counter rotating wooden propellers were mounted on top and driven by the engine, placed in front of the pilot’s seat (see photo). The main rotors had differential braking and later even ailerons for controlling the pitch, a little known wonder of ingenuity.

Berliner’s son Henry showed this miracle machine to the US Army in 1924 and made a number of free flights, maneuvering in all directions. Way ahead of his time, the conservative Army officers did not really run wild on the idea and it all came to no avail. The USA would have to wait until the late 1930’s when new Army interest in the helicopter flared up again as WWII came closer to the US shores and Germany had made some spectacular helicopter shows in 1937/38.


From the outset, Germany showed more interest in the concept of vertical flight and made very detailed studies of  Berliner’s aircraft, recognizing its potential. In the later 1920’s , the idea also lived on in USA, be it with only limited sources from private investors. A man who took the name “Rotating Wing” very literal, was Maitland B. Bleecker, an engineer from NACA. His remarkable design was constructed by the Curtiss Wright aircraft factory, starting the project in 1926.


The Gyrocopter (or Autogyro) made its introduction as a simpler and more reliable design, using parts and air frames from the well established aviation technology of that time. An Autogyro  is a type of rotorcraft with an overhead unpowered rotor.  A smaller engine-powered vertical propeller, similar to that of a fixed wing aircraft, must provide forward speed/ thrust in order to make the horizontal rotor spinning. That airflow through the rotor disc will at sufficient speed generate a lifting force with the auto rotation of the blades. While strongly resembling a Helicopter, it is basically a much simpler design as the rotor blades do not have a coupling to an engine to make them spinning around . No gear boxes, no chains/ belts, no vibrations as the motor could stay up in front for the forward thrust, generated by the normal propeller. It expresses the simplicity of the design, but also its snag: If there is no speed and no auto rotation, no lift either and no hovering or vertical on-the-spot landing or take-off for this machine. The Gyrocopter could fly safely at very low speeds but needed some strip of soil to land or start and the Hummingbird like hovering was no option.


The concept of the Gyrocopter only allowed to build relatively light aircraft , to be used in the role of reconnaissance platform or liaisons, but not for heavy cargo lifting. For that purpose, they had to turn back to the more intricate real Helicopter concept. It was Heinrich Fockewho went on with a further development of the original Emile Berliner designs of the early 1920’s. Focke was ousted in 1936 from the legendary Focke Wulf company, due to shareholder pressure. Allegedly, Focke’s removal was to allow Focke-Wulf’s manufacturing capacity to be used to produce the competition Messerschmidt aircraft Bf-109, in high demand from Luftwaffe during the build up to WWII. But the Air Ministry was impressed by the Focke designed FA-61 helicopter ( see below) and allowed him to establish a new company dedicated to continue the helicopter development. The Focke-Achgelis company resulted with their start in 1937/38 in partnership with engineer Gerd Achgelis.

They started with the same idea as Cierva by using  as basic platform an “off-the-shelf” double-decker fuselage with frontal radial engine. With wings removed, two huge pylons were erected in place with counter rotating rotors on top, driven by chains from the front engine via sprockets.  The Focke Achgelis FA-61 was born and had astonishing flight capacities that made on-the-spot landings and take-offs possible on its novel tricycle landing gear.

Fw61-2 Hanna Reitschl

Photo: Hanna Reitsch’ indoor flight with the novel Helicopter  FA-61 in 1938 in Berlin’s Deutschland Halle. During 10 days she made an awesome airshow for the tens of thousands of spectators, it was the perfect promotion for the advanced helicopter technology of Nazi Germany that probably opened the eyes of those US Army officers who had denied Berliner’s similar proposal in 1924. USA was now ready to step back into this ignored part of aviation technology.

Germany saw the show case FA-61 as a test bed for more practical applications in the future battle fields and Focke developed a new fuselage design that would become the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache (Dragon). The single 750-kilowatt (1,010 hp) BMW 320 radial engine powered two three-bladed (12 m or 39 ft diameter) rotors mounted on twin booms on either side of the long cylindrical fuselage (12, 2 m or 40 ft) that had a strong resemblance with the pre-war designed German Bombers. The Fa 223 is World’s first helicopter to attain production status, but was hampered by Allied bombing of the factory and production priority to the mainstream fighters (which also slowed down the Me-262 Jet production). As s result only 20 were built of the Fa 223, that could cruise at 175 km/h (109 mph) with a top speed of 182 km/h (113 mph), and climb to an altitude of 7,100 m (23,300 ft). The Drache could transport cargo loads of over 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) at cruising speeds of 121 km/h (75 mph) and flew in February 1945 a secret mission from Tempelhof/Berlin to East Prussia’s Danzig (Gdansk) for reasons never fully disclosed. They could not accomplish their mission due to the fact that the advancing Russian Army that had taken control on the ground. Many German soldiers and civilians got trapped in that port as the last ferry boat to Kiel had been torpedoed by a Russian submarine (see also my post Worst shipwreck in History). Two Draches survived the war, one went to USA on board a carrier, the other one was flown to UK, making the first ever Helicopter flight over the Channel. Both countries were very keen to get their hands on those machines and snatched them just before the Russians could.




Photo: There were 4 different types planned of the Fa 223 Drache: Type A for anti-submarine warfare, to carry 2 x 250 kg (550 lb) bombs or depth charges: Type B for reconnaissance missions; Type C for search and rescue duties, fitted with a steel winch cable: Type D freight variant, for resupplying mountain troops, and finally the Type E with dual-control trainer. Later the Fa 223 ZA was proposed by Focke with two bodies joined inline to form a four-rotor heavy lift helicopter. It clearly expresses the early recognized versatility in utility of the Helicopter concept  as a Navy, Army and Air Force support machine.


Photo: The nose section of the FA-223 features a glass cockpit that has a strong resemblance with the contemporary German Bomber cockpits of the pre-war designs. Some were armed with a heavy machine gun protruding from the circular front window and were with that the first ever built Attack Helicopters .


Photo:  The Germans used a gyro-kite FA-330 Bachstelze (wagtail) as a lookout “tower” for surfaced submarines. On top of this U-523, the manned gyro copter was reeled out from a winch as a kite from the conning tower. That required a head-on wind speed of some 12 knots to rotate the rotor blades and supply sufficient lift. The cable was  500 feet long, giving the observer a  max. 45 km extended view over the horizon which from the conning tower was only some 9 km in ideal weather.

The use of this cumbersome spotter kite was later in the war limited to the Southern Atlantic and Indian Ocean, with less aerial patrols of the Allied Air Forces. One can imagine that a scramble dive to be made due to an airplane suddenly appearing on the horizon, would be in all cases a very hectic affair to reel in the kite or simply drop her off. The flying observer who spotted and announced the imminent danger by the telephone line could seal his own fate, in worst case!


Photo: Sikorsky at the helm of his VS-300 Helicopter in 1940, in his own style with jacket, tie and hat. pressed tightly on his head by the downdraft.

Igor Sikorsky was born in Ukraine in 1889 and had built scale model helicopters as an 11 years old boy, based on the Da Vinci drawings. He came to France and later USA to built winged aircraft. He started in 1923 the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company of which the  S-42 Flying Boat “Clippers” became legendary under the Panam flag with non-stop long distance flights from SF to Hawaii, over the Atlantic and via Puerto Rico, Belem to Rio with passengers. In 1938, United Aircraft bought Sikorsky’s company and let him create an experimental helicopter design. Sikorsky used a single three-bladed main rotor and a two-bladed vertical tail rotor to offset torque, which became the Industry standard. On Sept. 14, 1939, Sikorsky himself took the prototype on its first flight. The helicopter VS-300 hovered several times, but was tethered to the ground. Overcoming the helicopter’s vibrations, the aircraft made its first free flight in May 1940 (photo). A year later, it went on to break the world helicopter endurance record (previously held by Germany’s Fa-61) by staying airborne for 92 minutes.

Finally, the USA understood the future capabilities of the Helicopter: there was a long road to go in development but that would lead to a great number of test platforms for vertical take off and landings ( VTOL) and by the late 1940’s the helicopter was ready to enter the next war, The Korean Conflict.( 1950-1953).  Here the helicopter would star in the role as a transport, observation and communication/ gun aiming/ mine sweeping craft and last but not least, in the role as Medical Evacuations platform. It would save the lives of thousands of soldiers that could be evacuated from the front line to hospitals in a matter of hours.


Helicopter Marine_HO3SKorea_1951

Photo: Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter, here in use by the US Marines as a Medevac transport during the Korean Conflict 1950-1953.

Volume 2 of “Helicopters at War!”  will bring you soon more intriguing photos, starting with Helicopters of the Vietnam War era. If interested, stay tuned , there is a lot more to come on War History Online, or via my Facebook page Hans Wiesman.

In May 2015, Casemate USA/ UK published my book The Dakota Hunter. It contains similar fascinating tales in 320 pages and 250 never seen photos of my expeditions over the Globe since 1990. “In search of the Legendary DC-3 on the last frontiers” is the sub-title but many other vintage aircraft are described that I encountered on my voyages to Paradise, to Hell and back.  I came to Colombia in 2006 in the middle of the War on Drugs and saw dozens of USAF C-17 Globemasters flying in on Bogota Int. Airport. They airlifted Attack Helicopters, Agent Orange drums and Crop Dusters for fighting the FARC rebels and their coca crop. I spoke with the Helicopter pilots out there in the remote AF Base San Jose del Guaviare on the way to the Green Hell, the Amazon, FARC domain. For more details of how they fight that war on drugs with their helicopters and  heavily armed DC-3 Turbo Props ( Fantasma’s or Spooky’s), you should read my book  and believe me,  you will be stunned.

Below you’ll find the jacket design of my book.  The book is for sale at all online  book sellers in USA, Canada, UK, NZ, SA, Aus, Ireland, NL (Bol.com) etc. and makes a perfect Luxury Christmas Gift for your relatives, friends and relations in its shiny hardcover and fascinating photos printed on glossy paper.

Enjoy! Hans Wiesman,

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Sneak Preview of Lincoln’s Bold Lion

Casemate author James Huffstodt manned a booth in downtown Tallahassee on Veterans Day assisted by a good friend, Air Force veteran Bob Bugby. Their main  goal was to sell raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, but while they were there, they took the opportunity to show off  Lincoln’s Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin. 

Time well spent, no matter how you cut it.

Look for Lincoln’s Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin in stores and  online in early December!



The Honorable Allen Clark, a decorated combat veteran who lost both legs in Vietnam, has written two books that capture the Vietnam war perfectly and his challenging journey home.

His book Valor in Vietnam, 1963-1977 Chronicles of Honor, Courage and Sacrifice should be on the shelf of every graduate of military colleges at all levels.

Allen is a proud graduate of West Point, the “Long Gray Line,” and his work gives extremely interesting insights into the personal experiences and courageous actions of those engaged in combat.


However, equally important at the Senior War College level of understanding war, the book makes an important contribution in showing, not telling, what it was really like during some very hard days, the Vietnam War years, for those in uniform.

The reason why the first-person stories resonate so well in Valor in Vietnam is because there is a companion book Wounded Soldier, Healing Warrior which is Allen Clark’s personal journey home from horrendous combat wounds to reaching another achievement:

The highest level of service to America, by having a Senate Confirmed Presidential Appointment made by President Bush to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By reading both books, readers can better understand how valuable military service can be to those entrusted with the sacred mission of the VA motto-“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan” (Abraham Lincoln).


In this time of dereliction of their duty by some very nasty and grossly incompetent Veteran Administration (VA) senior leaders, Allen’s work gives hope that good people can also make a difference for the greater good of all Veterans.

In bringing focus to war and physical courage, his works also bring focus to the moral and ethical courage currently shown to be lacking with many of those entrusted with helping Veterans.

Both books bear witness to the great strength of America because there are many, many more Allen Clarks then the charlatans who have been gaming the VA system for their personal gain.

Appeared on Second Line of Defense: Author Ed Timperlake is the former Principal Director, Mobilization Planning and Requirements/OSD in President Reagan’s Administration, and the first Assistant Secretary, Congressional and Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Martha McNiece (1922-2015)


Casemate is sad to report that the Airborne Community lost one of its biggest supporters.  Martha McNiece passed away on Monday, October 19, peacefully with family by her side.

Martha  was married to Jake McNiece , author of THE FILTHY 13, World War II hero, and 101st Airborne Division legend, for close to 60 years.

Martha worked at Denison High School as secretary to the principal throughout 1941. She did personnel work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Denison and Dallas, TX; Sausalito, CA; and Guam from 1942 – 1949. She subsequently worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation at Aimsworth, NE and Amarillo (TX) Air Force Base from 1949 – 1951.

Martha married U.S. Army Major Charles Barnett Wonders in England September 15, 1951. Their son Alan was born July 7, 1952 at Valley Forge (PA) Army Hospital, where Charles died July 29, 1952.

Martha moved to Ponca City, OK later in 1952 and worked for Conoco in Ponca City until 1954.

Martha married Jake McNiece in Ponca City on September 4, 1953. Their daughter Rebecca was born September 27, 1954 and their son Hugh was born June 19, 1959. Martha and Jake made their home in Ponca until 2012. Martha’s mother lived with them from the beginning of their marriage until her death in 1977. Among many community service activities, Martha volunteered extensively at her children’s schools. She taught in the nursery/cradle roll Bible classes at Hartford Avenue Church of Christ; she also organized and served in volunteer beauty shop services at nursing homes with the Ladies Bible class; she worked in the clothing room; she and Jake enjoyed various roles over a 30 year period with a Tuesday night home Bible study group. She had various leadership roles in the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Postal Workers Union, locally and state wide. She walked for the Heart Fund Campaign for years. She served as a precinct election judge. She loved to sew and cook for her family and for others.

Martha delighted in the exploits of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Martha played a vital editing role in the development of Jake’s book, and was by his side, supporting, organizing, reminding, as he traveled and spoke of his WWII experiences in the later years of his life.

As Jake’s health deteriorated she continued her amazing care for him, as independently as she could for as long as she could. In 2012 Martha and Jake moved to Illinois to live with their son Hugh and his family. Jake died in 2013 and Martha was able to continue some traveling and a few school speaking engagements over her remaining years.

Martha died in Springfield, IL on October 19, 2015. She is survived by her sister Evelyn Finch, her son Alan Wonders and wife Billie Ruth, her daughter Rebecca Brewer and husband Joel, her son Hugh McNiece and wife Mary Ellen, grandchildren Lucy and husband Micah, Cara, Michelle and husband Matt, Caleb and wife Kristi, Silas, and Hannah, and great-grandchildren Luke, Titus, Elle, Mason, and Madison.

Visitation for Martha will be at Trout Funeral Home on Friday, October 23, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at Hartford Ave. Church of Christ on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Burial at Resthaven Memorial Park will follow the service.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 841125, Dallas, TX 75284-1125 or the Hartford Avenue Church of Christ Benevolence Room, 1905 Joe Street, Ponca City, OK 74601.

Jake and martha

We at Casemate much regret Martha’s passing, while remaining in awe of a life that was both well-lived and extraordinarily meaningful, with a true impact upon the generations that followed.

Michael Harris’ Brandywine Awarded 2015 American Revolution Round Table of Richmond Book Award

Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777 was selected for the 2015 American Revolution Round Table of Richmond Book Award.

brandywine award

The American Revolution Round Table of Richmond’s annual book award honors a volume published within the previous two years. The evaluation criteria is narrative strength, the thoroughness of the author’s research (mastery of sources), and originality and significance of the author’s contribution to the understanding of the American Revolution. The award was presented to Mike Harris on September 27, 2015 at Fort Ticonderoga’s 12th Annual Seminar on the American Revolution.

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Brandywine Creek calmly meanders through the Pennsylvania countryside today, but on September 11, 1777, it served as the scenic backdrop for the largest battle of the American Revolution, one that encompassed more troops over more land than any combat fought on American soil until the Civil War. Long overshadowed by the stunning American victory at Saratoga, the complex British campaign that defeated George Washington’s colonial army and led to the capture of the capital city of Philadelphia was one of the most important military events of the war. Michael C. Harris’s Brandywine is the first full-length study of this pivotal engagement in many years.

Theodore P. Savas, Managing Director of Savas Beatie stated, “We are very pleased Mr. Harris has been recognized for his work in Brandywine, humbled to have published it, and honored that it was selected for this award by the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond.”

Bill Welsch, of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and Co-Founder of the Congress of American Revolution Round Tables stated, “With the publication of this book, we finally have a thorough, accurate, and well-balanced study of Brandywine, including the early stages of the campaign and the battle itself. The use of original sources and narratives puts readers in the heart of the action, right along with the leaders, the common soldiers, and the local civilians. With this carefully researched and engagingly written chronicle, Harris contributes much to our knowledge of the critical Philadelphia Campaign.”

About the Author: Michael C. Harris is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University. He has worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He has conducted tours and staff rides of many east coast battlefields. Michael is certified in secondary education and currently teaches in the Philadelphia region. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Michelle and son, Nathanael.


About Savas Beatie LLC: Savas Beatie LLC is a leading military and general history publishing company. Read more about Brandywine including excerpts and an interview with the author: http://tinyurl.com/mygbfkl. For more Savas Beatie titles, visit our website.

Author Frank van Lunteren meets Colonel Colin P. Tuley, commander of the 1st Brigade (504th PIR), 82nd Airborne Division


Left to right are:  S/SGT Matt O’Brien, COL Colin P. Tuley, Honorary Member Frank van Lunteren, LT COL Mark Ivezaj, LT Willmarie Flores and CSM Alexander Barnett.
(photo Frank van Lunteren)

Just in time for the release of Frank van Lunteren’s latest book, Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper, Frank received a sudden call from Lieutenant Willmarie Flores on the afternoon of Friday 18 September. She asked him if he was able to come to Ginkel Heath (former DZ of the 1st British Airborne Division) near Ede the next day to meet her and Colonel Colin P. Tuley, commander of the 1st Brigade (504th PIR), 82nd Airborne Division. Both wanted Frank to autograph their copies of his first book ‘The Battle of the Bridges’. It was a huge surprise for him to learn that once again a 504th PIR detachment was in the Netherlands. Last year Colonel Trevor Bredenkamp and RSM Scott Brzak had presented him an Honorary Membership on behalf of the 504th PIR Association.

Early on Saturday morning Frank woke up and drove to Ginkel Heath, where he arrived at 09.30 hours. The sky was grey and soon rain drops started falling. It was clear that the morning jumps were cancelled. But at 11.00 hours the Annual Commemoration started at the memorial for the British 4th Parachute Brigade – in remembrance of their jump in 1944. He received a text message from Lieutenant Flores and soon a Captain Cavalier appeared who appeared to be an assisting Regimental S-3 officer. Cavalier provided him with a special wristband to enter the closed off VIP section on Ginkel Heath where he reported to Colonel Tuley, saluted and introduced himself. Frank was pleased to learn that the Colonel had used his book while writing a speech which he gave two days previously at the John Thompson Bridge ceremony at Grave. Lieutenant Flores brought the copies forward and a nice pen, with which I signed their books. Frank was also introduced to LT COL Mark Ivezaj (2/501 PIR) and Command Sergeant Major Alexander Barnett.

After the commemoration had ended, Colonel Tuley kindly acknowledged to a group photo consisting of some of his key Brigade personnel. The photo was made in front of the memorial.

9781612003139 9781612002323

NYT coverage sheds new light on abuse in Afghanistan

When an explosive U.S. military report on the topic of sexuality in southern Afghanistan was leaked into mainstream American media, it generated a firestorm of attention and reaction. While some of the findings regarding Afghan sexual practices were simply of cultural interest, other findings were of grave humanitarian concern, such as the cyclical abuse of young boys, perpetuated over countless generations.

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A recent New York Times report brought this issue back to the fore, and Author AnnaMaria Cardinalli, CROSSING THE WIRE: One Woman’s Journey into the Hidden Dangers of the Afghan War, will be talking to  Stand Up with Pete Dominick on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel; 121, 12p EST, Tuesday September 29.
Because the topic became sensationalized, the author of the report, Dr. AnnaMaria Cardinalli, was discouraged to see her findings somewhat distorted in a public light. In this book, she takes the opportunity to provide the context of her research, which is as unique and revealing as the report itself.

Instead of a further academic account, this book is the author’s journal—in fact “journey”—a personal invitation into the life and rare experience of a woman working on the farthest front of the War on Terror. As a member of one of the Pentagon’s “Human Terrain Teams,” in the Pashtun south of Afghanistan, this read is not only interesting for its findings on Afghan sexuality but for its intimate window into the fascinating and almost surreal difficulty of our military’s job in that country and beyond, and the surprisingly indispensable place of a woman’s hand in the world of war.

Through the author’s eyes, we ultimately experience the ways in which the issue of Afghan sexuality has profound impact on concerns from women’s rights to Afghanistan’s economic development and security to the recruitment and development of the terrorist threat to the Western world—a threat, she argues, we will not be free of without attention to this cycle of violence.

It is also fascinating in these pages to see how cultural sexism is not simply the province of semi-medieval Central Asians, but is also present in our own politico-military culture, as the author describes firsthand. This book goes far beneath the headlines of our seemingly endless war in Afghanistan to inform us of the exact situation among the opposition we’ve faced, in more important ways than one. It is must-reading for every citizen concerned with ours—or the Afghans’—progress henceforth in that region.

AnnaMaria Cardinalli has had an unusually varied career in both the performing arts and service to her country. A classical/flamenco guitarist and operatic singer, she became an international recording artist while still a teenager. A car accident having set back her musical career, she was accepted into the doctoral program in Theology at Notre Dame, and at age 24 became the youngest person awarded a Ph.D. from the university. After September 11, 2001, she responded to a call from the FBI for individuals with advanced degrees and cultural/religious expertise, which led to service in Iraq under the auspices of Joint Special Forces Command. In 2009 she became a member of the U.S. Army’s first Human Terrain Team in Afghanistan, a unit designed to seek cultural understanding and civilian cooperation with U.S. forces. Today AnnaMaria Cardinalli, Ph.D., runs a private security firm in Santa Fe, NM, while continuing to enjoy opportunities to pursue her first love, of music.

An Epic Conflict Revisited

9781612003474In time for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, we now have—thanks to Swedish historian Bergström—perhaps the most thorough, expert examination of the topic ever written. Illustrated throughout with maps and rare photos, plus a color section closely depicting the aircraft, this work lays out the battle as seldom seen before.

The battle was a turning in point in military history, and arguably in the fate of the world. By late summer 1940 Nazi Germany had conquered all its opponents on the continent, including the British Army itself, which was forced to scramble back aboard small boats to its shores. With a Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union in hand, Hitler had only one remaining object that season—the British Isles themselves. However, before he could invade, his Luftwaffe needed to wipe the Royal Air Force from the skies. Thus took place history’s first strategic military campaign conducted in the air alone.

This book contains a large number of dramatic eyewitness accounts, even as it reveals new facts that will alter perception of the battle in the public’s eyes. For example, the twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 was actually a good day fighter, and it performed at least as well in this role as the Bf 109 during the battle. The Luftwaffe’s commander, Hermann Göring, performed far better than has previously been his image. The British night bombers played a more decisive role than previously thought; meantime this book disproves that the German 109 pilots were in any way superior to their Hurricane or Spitfire counterparts.

The author has made a detailed search into the loss records for both sides, and provides statistics that will raise more than one eyebrow. The “revisionist” version, according to which the courage and skill of the RAF airmen is “exaggerated” is scrutinized and completely shattered. There is no doubt that it was the unparalleled efforts of “The Few” that won the battle. The Germans, on the other hand, did not show the same stamina as they had on the continent. The following summer they would show it again when they went in to Russia. In the skies over Britain this work verifies where credit was due.

Also By This Author

The Ardennes, 1944-1945 Hitler’s Winter Offensive

In December 1944, just as World War II appeared to be winding down, Hitler shocked the world with a powerful German counteroffensive that cracked the center of the American front.

The Battle of Halen


On 12 August 1915 the Germans had a significant memorial for the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Halen.  This cavalry action brought forth a ceremony that was held in Halen Belgium and attended by 40 relatives from Germany. The Generalgouverneur of Belgium, Generaloberst Freiherr von Bissing and the Militärgouverneur of the Province of Limburg, Generalmajor Keim were present. The Groβherzog of Mecklenburg sent a delegate to honor his fallen Mecklenburg men. Every grave was decorated with an iron cross-with the name of the fallen-and with flowers.  After the ceremony, Exzellenz von Bissing-in person- paid his condolences to the relatives and the cemeteries were visited. A special train brought the participants of the ceremony from Halen to Hasselt and then back to Germany.

Halen 2

During the ceremony General Keim gave a speech. The content of the speech and other details can be found in a 17-page booklet (Das Gefecht bei Haelen) that was prepared for the event and contained a number of pictures. This was in the middle of the war. The impact of this battle was so significant on the operational outcome of the Schlieffen Plan, that they actually stopped what they were doing a year later to conduct the memorial. This not only affected the operation but also the flower of German chivalry.

Yet this battle was not well known in the English language until Fonthill Media published the first English-language work earlier this year. Happening 11 days prior to the Battle of Mons, the results of this battle seriously affected the reconnaissance that followed on looking for the BEF. Not that far from Mons and with a battlefield heavily preserved, a visit to the museum and the battlefield would be richly rewarded especially when paired with the maps and story inside The Last Great Cavalry Charge.

You can pre-order The Last Great Cavalry Charge from Casemate Publishers here.

$32.95, hardback

Expected release: September 2015.