Ed and Cathy Gilbert awarded Presidential Service Center’s Distinguished Service Medal

Casemate is proud to announce that authors Ed and Cathy Gilbert were recently awarded the Presidential Service Center’s Distinguished Service Medal.

Presidential Service began with the American military, in the late 1700’s, as military aides and other positions.  In the 1880’s The US Navy requested of President Rutherford B. Hayes, to open a “mess,” (or restaurant) which is now known as the White House Staff Mess. It features restaurant service and thousands of take-out meals daily with close to 75 US Navy chefs.  The Navy chefs shop, cook, travel with and protect the Presidency.  The Presidential Service Center™ is presently in a five-year feasibility and research study phase, that began in 2010.  It is housed with the existing, and highly successful, Presidential Culinary Museum®. It remains interactive (under agreement) with The Official Society of World Chefs in Friendship since request in 1994.  Their aim being to foster care and kindness amongst countries of the world visiting the American White House and Camp David.  To interact with our Presidential Service Badge (PSB) authorized, serial numbered members – please contact us at 001 (704) 937-2940. The museum is open seven days per week for tours and bus groups.

In 2008 a new, gold Presidential Service Center (PSC) Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) was discussed, reviewed and authorized for complete payment under private funds forwarded from 14592 badge holder and member Martin CJ Mongiello. Discussion ensued in 2008/9 with a sample idea commissioned in 2010. During the years of 2010 and 2011, the program was sent to feasibility and research with possible adoption, was rejected and eventually suspended for further design. In 2012, Mr. Mongiello received guidance from former Presidential aides that visited the museum in 2013 with former Presidential Security Detail member (USMC) Travis McVey. The medal moved forward in 2013 under new design and was authorized for striking to showcase a font of knowledge, lit with flame, bearing present status and ongoing service to better society. Encased in a traditional wreath with a circular design of continuity, the medal is awarded to those serving to make society better and subject to revocation and stripping of award (droit moral) based on behavior standards. Each award winner agrees to their good conduct in the future as it would reflect on our members center and association.

The numeral system to be used was offered in 2014 beginning with 1776, a year well-known amongst Americans, as significant and noteworthy for service to our country.

psc award
1794: Presently rejected during the investigation. Resubmitting.
1793: In committee reviewing letters of reference.
1792: Cathy Gilbert, author.
1791: Ed Gilbert, author





Cathy and Ed’s most recent books, TRUE FOR THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY  is now available from Casemate and all fine retailers.

Layout 1Ed is also the author of several other Casemate titles, including Marine Corp Tank Battles in the Middle East, Marine Corp Tank Battles in Korea, Marine Corp Tank Battles in Vietnam,  and Tanks in Hell

Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle EastMarine Corps Tank Battles in VietnamTanks in Hell

Colorado’s Soldier of Fortune, the true story

Casemate  Author Vann Spencer sat down recently with  Josh Hosler,   for the Colorado Springs Gazette, to discuss I AM SOLDIER OF FORTUNE and Colonel Robert Brown, the man who  started it all.

Story originally featured January 31, 2016 in Colorado Gazette



GUEST COLUMN: Colorado’s Soldier of Fortune, the true story

By: Josh Hosler

January 31, 2016Updated: January 31, 2016 at 9:21 am

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The legendary Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown, founder of “Soldier of Fortune,” lives right here in Colorado. The numerous stories and exploits of this Boulder man, as recounted in the biography “I Am Soldier of Fortune,” make the reader believe Hercules and Achilles were most likely real and human at one time.

Soldier of Fortune magazine is a staple for military, law enforcement, veterans and Americans who like to read about mercenaries and Special Forces straight from the hardened men themselves. The biography “I Am Soldier of Fortune” demonstrates the rumors that have long circled around RKB are not only true, but only a small piece of this great man’s life.

Author Vann Spencer’s personal respect and admiration for Brown is evident in his description of RKB as no saint, but a man of character and principles – a rarity in today’s culture of compromise. The author explains how “The Colonel,” one of the toughest of Coloradans, is sometimes overcome by grief and silence, such as when he learned of the loss of famous sniper Chris Kyle. “The side of this business I dread the most is when the normally devil-may-care, boisterous RKB goes silent, and I know he is grieving. I will never get used to it and it will never get easier.”

In 1953, RKB enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1954, he enlisted in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps and, although he had been promised a life of intrigue, found himself pushing pencils. He resented the bait and switch. “I went in, mind you very respectfully, and on being called to account, explained that ‘With all due respect, I attribute my poor performance to the fact that I had been promised one thing [exerting great restraint in not going off on the Snake Oil Salesman the Army had pimped out] and forced into another – that I had purposely passed up getting an Air Force ROTC commission because I didn’t want to be a paper pusher.’ ”

Anyone who has served in the military can appreciate how many times recruiters sell you on a job as the next Captain America only to make you a janitor.

RKB’s status as a “mustang” (an officer who was previously an enlisted soldier) makes him credible to every level of the military. The officer route being the only way out of his pencil pushing, RKB went through Officer Candidate School. But even as an officer, he was still searching for his true calling.

It found him when he happened upon a book about guerrilla warfare. “ ’150 Questions for a Guerrilla,’ was going to be of great value, I just knew it. I didn’t have a clue what it was at the time, but I soon saw the light. My mission became to translate this manual that revealed the techniques – primitive though they may have been-that helped Castro seize power.” In the 1990s, RKB discovered, because of his connections to Cuba, the CIA had considered him possibly involved in the JFK assassination.

As you read the book, you will stop to remind yourself that “I Am Solider of Fortune” is nonfiction and not an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. RKB has led an incomparable life. From wanting to sell guns to Cuban rebels, to his time in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Africa, Southeast Asia, Grenada, Pakistan, Russia, Lebanon and every other country that has had a war since the 1950s, the book will grip you from page to page.

With the United States short on leaders who aren’t worried about political correctness, we should be proud to know we have a hero in our backyard who stands up for our veterans when so many thank them for their service and then forget them.

“It’s been a hell of a ride and as long as tyrants continue to pollute the environment, and I am still kicking, I march on with my mission. I have a few regrets and made a lot of mistakes but make no apologies. I will continue to follow my long time motto: ‘Slay Dragons, Do Noble Deeds, and Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up.’ ”

I pray “The Colonel” keeps kicking. We need him now more than ever.

Josh Hosler served in the Marine Corps from 2007 to 2011 and completed tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the president of Colorado Reuse, a recycling firm. “I Am Soldier of Fortune: Dancing with Devils” is available at Amazon.com.

Who was Lincoln’s Lion?


La Salle native and 1965 graduate of La Salle-Peru Township High School, James Huffstodt of Tallahassee, Fla., is the author of a recently released biography of one of Illinois’s most heroic Civil War generals who was also a personal protégé of President Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln’s Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin (1837-1923) by James Huffstodt is published by Casemate Publisher of Philadelphia and Oxford, England. The 440-page hardback, with a 16-page photo section, will be printed in ten languages.

“History was my passion from a very early age,” Huffstodt said. “My interest in the Civil War grew from listening to my maternal grandmother, Celia Baker Sykes of Utica (1876-1965), tell about her father’s experiences as a soldier in that war. Private Martin Baker of Utica served in Co. K, 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, raided by General W.H.L. Wallace of Ottawa. Baker was seriously wounded at the Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee on Feb. 15, 1862.”

Huffstodt currently works part-time in the public health field in Tallahassee and devotes the rest of his time to various writing projects. His other works include: “Hard Dying Men: A History of the Eleventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry.” (1991), “Everglades Lawmen: True Stories of Game Wardens in the Glades.” (2000), and “Journeys In Time: A History of the Huffstodt-Sykes Family” (2014). The last title was privately published in a limited edition of 50 copies.

The subject of Huffstodt’s newest work, Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin (1837-1923), was born in Jacksonville, Ill., the son of Colonel John J. Hardin, a close friend and political ally of young Abraham Lincoln. The father died a hero’s death at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War in 1847 at age 36.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln kept in close touch with Hardin’s widow and took a personal interest in her son. Young Hardin fought in 20 pitched battles including Gettysburg, and suffered four wounds. After he was wounded in a Confederate ambush, surgeons amputated Hardin’s left arm.

Despite serious wounds that nearly took his life, the 27-year-old Hardin returned to lead troops in the war’s final year.

On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln wrote the following recommendation for Hardin’s promotion:

“Col. Martin Hardin named within is the son of a very Dear Friend of mine who fell at Buena Vista, has himself a West Point education, has fought in the War, losing an arm and been shot through the body, and if there is any vacancy, send in nomination for him as Brigadier General at once.”
Only a week later, the newly promoted one-armed Brigadier General Hardin played a key role in defending Washington against a threatening Confederate Army. On the night of the assassination on Good Friday, 1865, Hardin helped lead the massive hunt for Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth, and his accomplices.

After retiring from the army in 1870, Hardin became a Chicago attorney and survived the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. He and his first wife also helped Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, nurse her terminally-ill son, Tad, at Chicago’s Clifton House.

General and the second Mrs. Hardin, Chicago coffee heiress Amelia McLaughlin, built a mansion called Two Chimneys in 1914, which still stands in Lake Forest. General Hardin was a winter resident of St. Augustine for 40 years, where he died at his home, “The Union Generals House” in 1923. He was the last survivor of the West Point Class of 1859 and one of the last surviving Civil War Generals.

Hardin and his second wife are buried at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine.
Civil War Historian Ezra J. Warner wrote of General Hardin in the 1964 book, “Generals In Blue: The Lives of the Union Commanders”:
“Hardin … embarked upon a combat career which has few parallels in the annals of the army for gallantry, wounds sustained, and the obscurity into which he had lapsed a generation before his death.”

Huffstodt’s work, “Lincoln’s Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin,” is carried by most major book outlets including Amazon.com.

About the author
James Huffstodt, his wife Judy, and their granddaughter, Jade, now reside in Tallahassee, Fla.
The author, 68, is the youngest child of the late Robert W. Huffstodt (1907-1957), who worked his entire career as an advertising man with the La Salle NewsTribune. His older brother, Eugene Huffstodt of Peru, also worked at the NewTribune as the business manager for 45 years before retirement in 1990.
After studying American and European history at Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois, James Huffstodt worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Ottawa Daily Times. In 1973, he became assistant public relations director at Illinois Valley Community College, leaving in 1978 to embark on a 30-year career in wildlife conservation with the Illinois and Florida state conservation agencies.






originally featured on Illinois Valley News Tribune


James Bilder to speak at Pritzker Military Museum and Library

James Bilder, Artillery Scout: The Story of a Forward Observer with the U.S. Field Artillery in World War I

Pulling from stories shared by his grandfather—an Artillery Scout in France during World War I—as well as military records and diaries from  33rd Infantry officers, author James Bilder paints a captivating picture of the life of a soldier on the front line. Sponsored by The United States World War One Centennial Commission.

2014 Finalist, Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award


The American Doughboys of World War I are often referred to as the “Lost Generation”; however, in this book we are able to gain an intimate look at their experiences after being thrust into the center of Europe’s “Great War” and enduring some of the most grueling battles in U.S. history.

Len Fairfield (Bilder’s grandfather) was an Artillery Scout, or Forward Observer, for the U.S. Army, and was a firsthand witness to the war’s carnage as he endured its countless hardships, all of which are revealed here in vivid detail. His story takes the reader from a hard life in Chicago, through conscription, rigorous training in America and France, and finally to the battles which have become synonymous with the U.S. effort, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive―the latter claiming 26,000 American lives, more than any other U.S. battle.

Fairfield, with his artillery in support of the 91st “Wild West” Division, was on the front lines for it all, amidst a sea of carnage caused by bullets, explosives, and gas―with the occasional enemy plane swooping in to add strafing to the chaos. Entire units were decimated before gaining a yard, and then the Doughboys would find German trenches filled with dead to indicate the enemy was suffering equally.

The American Expeditionary Forces endured a rare close-quarters visit to Hell until it was sensed that the Germans were finally giving way, though fighting tooth-and-nail up to the very minute of the Armistice. This action-filled work brings the reader straight to the center of America’s costly battles in World War I, reminding us once again how great-power status often has to be earned with blood on battlefields.

JAMES BILDER has a B.A. in Journalism from Lewis University and a M.S. from Loyola University. He is the co-author of A Foot Soldier for Patton with his father, Michael. Mayor of Worth, Illinois from 1993-2001, he currently resides in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

Tickets available at




Artillery Scout

Warm welcome at the Delhi Book Fair

So far Casemate has found their first time exhibiting at the Delhi Book Fair to be a huge success. Both the public and the trade have offered Casemate an extraordinary welcome into this market and have expressed a real thirst for publications within our subject areas

While we only had a small selection of books on the stand, within the first two days we sold over half of the them. There are some keen military history enthusiasts here and I’ve had a number of interesting conversations with readers, some being retired from the military, and others just really happy to see books on subjects they haven’t been able to get ahold of easily. It became obvious rather quickly that Casemate is able to offer readers here books about well known subject areas with a new, thought provoking perspective. More than one visitor to the stand commented on how bookshops here don’t carry much in the way of military history and expressed a desire to see our books more readily available in shops here. One man came back three times and purchased six books and will be ordering more from us in the future. Another customer was excited to see that we had volume three of ‘Barbarossa Derailed’ on the stand, as he had previously purchased volumes one and two online from Amazon, and bought volume three from us.

The three Allison & Busby books I had on the stand all sold very quickly. Crime and mystery fiction seems to be very popular from the comments offered.

Additionally, in terms of Oxbow/Casemate Academic, archaeology, particularly Middle East archaeology is quite popular, especially with the level of government sponsorship that is offered to university archaeology departments.

We look forward to the rest of the fair!

DAKOTA HUNTER featured in Sunday Times

By Paul Ash THE DAKOTA HUNTER Sunday Times · 10 Jan 2016 ·

IT is a winter afternoon in 1970. I know it’s winter because the grass is brown and the Joburg sky is that wide, pale, cloudless blue and I can smell the dust in the air. am playing on the swing in the garden, wondering if I could get enough velocity to launch myself into prolonged flight when an aircraft drones slowly past overhead — a short, fat fuselage held aloft by long wings tapering gracefully to their tips — and the grumble of a pair of big piston engines splits the cool air. You never forget your first DC­3, says a man who has made tracking the Gooney Bird his life’s work.

I am four years old and I have just seen my first Dakota. You always remember your first Dakota. It is 1951 in the garden of a Dutch oilman’s house in southern Borneo and a four­year­old named Hans Wiesman and his sister are playing on the swing in the garden. They are standing on the swing seat, face to face, gripping the ropes in their little hands, swinging higher and higher, when Hans — at the apex of the arc — lets go with one hand to scratch his nose. During the subsequent plunge to earth, he smacks his head on the swing’s steel pole and tears a chunk of flesh off his head. Our garden swing also taught my sister, my brother and me all about physics, specifically gravity and what happened when we let go of the ropes in our illconsidered attempts to “fly”.

But while these follies caused a few broken bones and teeth, we never had to be evacuated out of the steaming Borneo rainforest by Dakota. After being rushed to the local clinic, Where a doctor sewed up the gash in his head without anaesthetic, the next day Hans drove with his parents down a jungle road to the nearest airstrip, where they were picked up by “a shiny DC­3 Dakota that flew us over the jungle up north to the big hospital in Balikpapan”.

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It was Hans’s second time in a Dakota and it left an indelible impression which, in the convoluted way of life, would, decades later, lead him to the forgotten, miserable, heat­struck or frozen corners of the earth — the kinds of places where the Dakota thrives — as he hunted for pieces of wrecked and abandoned DC­ 3s. Hans, you see, has what by most accounts would be considered an odd profession — he acquires Dakota cockpits for collectors and museums, and he makes office desks from Dakota wing tips. Jolly fine desks they are too, all gleaming, polished aluminium and rivet heads that reflect light like water droplets, making them look, as he writes in his offbeat autobiography The Dakota Hunter, “like a pearl necklace stretched out on a mirror”.

It is work that dovetails neatly with his obsession with an aeroplane that not only changed the face of commercial aviation but, 80 years after the prototype first flew, is still earning its keep in some of the world’s less­genteel places. THE Douglas Commercial 3 was the child of Donald Douglas, owner of the Douglas Aircraft Company, who was under pressure from airlines to build a fast, tough aeroplane that would let them make money carrying passengers without having to rely on government mail subsidies to make ends meet. That aeroplane was the DC­3

. On December 17 1935, the company test pilot fired up the two big radial engines on the shiny new bird and rumbled off into the blue. The plane could sleep 16 passengers in liedown berths, but the eighth aircraft off the production line had 21 seats instead of bunks and was given the designation DC­3, and history was made. By the end of the 1930s, the DC3 had pioneered air routes all over the world. It was fast and tough, had a useful range and could take off from short, rough airstrips. Douglas sold hundreds of them. Somewhere along the way, the “DC­3” was dubbed the “Dakota”, perhaps by an overeager journalist struggling for a more colourful name. It stuck. When the war came, Douglas built a strengthened floor and double cargo doors for the DC­3 and called it the C­47 — a skytruck that could haul 28 paratroopers in battle kit, or a Jeep and a towed artillery piece, or three tons of ammunition, and it could do this while towing a glider carrying another 14 troops or a Jeep.

By 1946, 10 680 DC­3s and C47s had been built, plus another 5 500 built under licence in Russia and Japan. Hans reckons 900 Dakotas have survived into 2016. Some are wrecks, many are in museums, and a good few — 150 or so — are still flying. The Dakota has done everything. It has carried passengers in their cosy bunks on night flights across America. It has ferried royalty and film stars, rockers and generals. It has been a freighter, an air ambulance and a pretty lethal gunship. It has scoured Africa from 10 000 feet, looking for minerals, and rumbled along at 50 feet over the bush on tsetse fly­spraying missions. It has smuggled cigarettes, marijuana and cocaine. It flew pigs across Borneo. It has carried scientists over Antarctica and racehorses across the Caribbean. It has flown food to war zones in Berlin, Mozambique and Congo, and taken rich tourists on sightseeing expeditions over Africa and the Angel Falls, and roughnecks to the Yukon. That brutally tough wing and those thirsty but preternaturally reliable Pratt &; Whitney radial engines have ensured that, 80 years later, hundreds of Dakotas are still flying, although most will be “only” 70 years old, or thereabouts. Every day, somewhere in the world, a Dakota is doing what it does best — flying low and slow with a cargo of passengers and their stuff — diesel, timber, plastic barrels, cheap clothes, hammocks, cooking oil, dried fish, anything, in fact, that can fit through those double doors — heading to places few other aircraft can go. When its day is done, it might find salvation in a museum where it can rest on its tired wheels. Or it will sit in the jungle, or rot away, forgotten at the edge of some bustling airport, until one day someone comes along with aluminium cutters and chops it to pieces.

sundy times

If he has been lucky or persistent enough, Hans Wiesman will be on hand to get the wing tips. “I have a network of people who follow my blog,” says Hans. “They call me and say ‘Hey Hans, I know of this wrecked Dakota . . . ’ I check it out on Google Earth, then I make a short list of the five or six planes I want to see. Then I go.” HANS’S foray into wing tip desks was the result of a happy accident when a friend brought a wing tip he had found at a fair in Miami back to the Netherlands. They put the gleaming airfoil on a set of legs and realised they had . . . something. And Hans, whose Borneo childhood had sparked a lifelong passion for Dakotas, knew where he could get more — many more — wing tips. For the past 15 years, Hans has scoured the planet for old, wrecked and unwanted Dakotas, trawling the boondocks of South America, Asia, Africa and North America for forgotten planes. He has run the gauntlet of thieves, drug smugglers, con men and corrupt officials out to make a fast buck from an unwary Westerner, like the time in Thailand when he stumbled across a couple of ex­Royal Thai Air Force machines that were about to be dropped into the sea off Phuket to make an artificial reef. “These aircraft had flown in Vietnam as ‘Spooky’ gunships during the war,” he says. “I knew that if I could get my hands on one then, hey­hey, every museum in the US wanted a ‘Spooky’.” But the army was involved and lots of people wanted to make a few bucks on the side. “You get completely lost in a web of people who see you as the million­dollar baby,” says Hans. “Everybody jumps on you like flies.” In the end, Hans could not save any of the Spookys, or even get the wing tips. The aircraft took one last flight, gliding into the depths. The reef didn’t work either — someone forgot to anchor the Dakotas to the sea bed, and they flew away with the currents, off on their own adventure. It was a similar story in Madagascar, where he heard about five Dakotas rotting in an air base boneyard. “They were interesting planes,” he says. “One had flown with KLM, another had come from Indochina. It had flown to Dien Bien Phu during the French war in Vietnam.” Dien Bien Phu, the six­month siege in a remote valley in north Vietnam that cost the French their Indochine empire, is one of the Dakota’s great battle honours. For six months from November 1953, Dakotas dropped paratroopers and supplies to the valley, braving curtains of anti­aircraft fire to land on the strip to fetch the wounded. On the last day that they flew in to the embattled fortress, two Dakotas were shot down and their crews killed. One, flown by Captain Dartigues, was on its second run of the day — he had landed just after dawn and managed to sneak off under a rain of Viet Minh shells with a full load of wounded. On his second run, just after 10am, his luck ran out. “Later that evening,” writes Bernard Fall in Hell in a Very Small Place, his horrifying account of the battle, “one last transport aircraft, piloted by Captain Bourgereau, managed to land at Dien Bien Phu and to pick up 19 wounded who had been waiting anxiously in the drainage ditch near the airfield’s taxi stand. The plane took off in a rain of mortar shells. Its crew (which, like all the ambulance aircraft in Indochina, included a French Women’s Air Force nurse) did not know it but theirs was the last flight to take off safely from the fortress.” There was every chance that Captain Bourgereau’s Dakota was lying in the boneyard in Madagascar. “If I could find the last Dakota out of Dien Bien Phu, that would be a smash hit for any French museum,” says Hans. He started negotiating with the commander of the air base. “He said I could have these planes but he wanted a $250 000 Piper Navajo [a twin­engined light aircraft]. I went to see his boss, the minister of defence, who told me this guy was not allowed to deal with me at all.” Hans left the island emptyhanded. He fared better in Colombia — the last place in the world, he says, “where Dakotas still come in flocks” — and where once drugdealers and FARC rebels ruled. The US­trained military is well­disciplined, the big drug cartels have been smashed and the FARC rebel movement has lost its muscle. The jungle provinces are now open for business and there is lots of work for Dakotas, the world’s best bush plane. Still, it takes time to do business in Colombia, what with the DEA watching over everything like a hawk. Hans laughs. “It took me two years to get a container out of the country because everybody thinks ‘this guy is coming to Colombia for old aircraft parts? You must be kidding!’ ” In 2016, Hans will continue hunting for old Dakotas, “not so much for furniture anymore”, he says, “because that is becoming awkward”.

Some time he would like to get back to the wreck he once visited in the Yukon, a crash site from which nothing has been taken. “What I saw in the Ruby Mountains is untouchable,” he says. “It was like the Titanic of crashed aircraft. You leave it intact because it’s a monument.”

The Dakota Hunter by Hans Wiesman is available on amazon.com for $28.22 (about R440). Kindle edition $15.38. See sundaytimes.co.za for a podcast about the legendary DC­3 and the people who flew her. HANS RECKONS 900 DAKOTAS HAVE  SURVIVED INTO 2016 SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD, A DAKOTA IS FLYING, LOW AND SLOW

By Paul Ash THE DAKOTA HUNTER Sunday Times · 10 Jan 2016 ·



Lincoln’s Bold Lion author gets in the holiday spirit

Author James Huffstodt had a great time at the Victorian Christmas event held Thursday and Friday, December 11-12, in Thomasville, Georgia. The parade, various chorale presentations, people in period costume, and other holiday entertainments attracted more than 12,000 people.

Ms. Rebekha Arwood, the manager of “The Book Shelf” in Thomasville, provided James with display space. Dressed as a Civil War veteran, James handed out pre sale flyers for “Lincoln’s Bold Lion”

Casemate’s Spring 2016 Catalog

Casemate Spring 2016 Catalog

Click cover above to view our new catalog!

We’re excited to announce that our Spring 2016 catalog is now available!

In this latest edition of our catalog, we are pleased to present an extraordinary selection of military history titles from Casemate Publishers as well as our distributed lines from around the world. Thanks to the expertise of our associated editorial teams, we are proud to consider this lineup of titles the best and most expansive we have seen yet.

We hope that this season’s line of releases will pique your interest as much as it has ours.

Casemate Advent Calendar Book Giveaway


This Christmas, we are setting up the Casemate Advent Calendar!

Follow us, retweet and reply to our giveaway post on twitter @casematepub to be entered into a daily drawing, with a free book being given away every day!

The winner will be randomly selected by the Casemate team and will be announced and contacted on Twitter for mailing information.

Good Luck and Happy Retweeting!



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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