SITREP – March 2015

sitrepWelcome to Defence of the Realm’s SITREP for March 2015. For those of you who are new followers and have never seen one of these posts before I would like to welcome you and thank you for giving the site a look. Basically, this is my opportunity to let you you know the site is doing and the direction it will be taking over the next month. It is also your opportunity to let me know your thoughts on the site in general as well as to offer your own suggestions/input in to any of the projects that are on the horizon.

So, as always I like to begin by thanking everyone who has taken the time to read the most recent posts. In the past two months alone the site’s hit rate has already surpassed all of 2014 and thats down to you guys. I know some of them can be quite long winded at times but when the spirit grabs me and I throw myself in to a topic I like to run with it for all its worth. An interesting comment was posted by one of the site’s long time supporters, Pierre Lagacé on the article Britain’s Forgotten Tank War regarding British tanks fighting in the Russian Civil War in 1919. He asked me where do I find such practically unheard of stories and so I thought I would take some time in this SITREP to explain just how I do my research.

In very simple terms; I read a hell of a lot of books. The 21st Century has been called the Information Age and thanks to the internet this is certainly true. We now have a vast wealth of digital knowledge available to us via an online search engine but there are limitations to this method of research the biggest one being you have to already know something about what you want to look for. Sadly we can’t yet Google “show me something I don’t know.” This is where books have something of an advantage. With a book there is a wealth of information at your fingertips covering a general topic that you can flip through and stumble across a hidden gem of a story that you can work on and that’s exactly how I stumbled across the story of British tanks in the Russian Civil War.

a pictorial history of the tank regimentI take a trip in to Caldicot town centre, near where I live, at least once a week and whenever I do I invariably find myself wandering in to the two charity shops they have there. Charity shops are a goldmine for military books and not only are they cheap but you are helping a good cause in buying them; I almost always make a little donation to the cashier even if its just letting them keep the change. One day I picked up a book called A Pictorial History of the Royal Tank Regiment by George Forty for just 75p! Admittedly this book was somewhat out of date (I am really excited about seeing those new Challenger 1 tanks that are coming in to service 😀 ) but did that make any of its details about the formation of the Tank Regiments of the British Army any less relevant? Certainly not! And tucked away within its pages was a few brief paragraphs that mentioned British tanks being sent to Russia to fight the Bolsheviks. I was intrigued.

Thus because I knew what I was looking for I then turned to the world wide web to build on what was published in the book and thus a new article began. Now I am no technophobe by any stretch of the imagination but for me there’s nothing better than simply picking up a book and reading it. I am just old fashioned in that way but at the same time my research would be painstakingly slow if I used books alone. I guess what I am trying to say is if you are taking to the internet to advance the cause of preserving and promoting history, wander in to a charity shop every now and again. You may find something completely new to you in the old books and telling forgotten stories of Britain’s military successes and failures is really what Defence of the Realm is all about.


So with the preaching over let me highlight a few things I have planned on the horizon. Remember if you have any suggestions on any of these topics or have one you would like me to address just put it in the comments section below.

  • Last month I specified that future aircraft comparisons would be made between British and other western aircraft not just from an opposing side. Plans I have at the moment include De Havilland Sea Venom FAW.22 vs Douglas F3D Skyknight in a comparison of first generation naval nightfighters of the 50s. I am also planning to compare the Gloster Meteor F.8 against the Dassault Ouragon as requested by Gareth Wood of Fighter Jet News.
  • I have decided to make more of an effort to cover topics and events before the 20th century. The First and Second World Wars seem to have cast quite a shadow over the 19th century especially and I want to bring more of this era to light. The article on the Bombardment of Alexandria 1882 is the first in this new series of articles.
  • Currently working on an article about an aborted Pearl Harbour style attack on the German High Seas fleet while they were in port during World War I. The attack was days away from being carried out by the Royal Navy before the signing of the armistice brought an end to hostilities. I should hopefully have it posted by Sunday.
  • I have talked a lot about the machines of war but this is not doing the men and women behind them justice and therefore starting this month I am going to be introducing “Personnel Files” which will chronicle the service careers of men and women of the British armed forces many of whom have had little acknowledgement for their contributions.
  • After speaking at such length about the importance of books I should therefore make more of an effort to do book reviews – I have just one at the moment.
  • Finally, I am considering starting a podcast. This is just a pipe dream at the moment until I can iron out some of the bugs and find knowledgeable people willing to participate. I have no more details other than that at the moment but it is something I have been thinking of for some time. Watch this space.

Thank you again for your time.

– Tony Wilkins

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A Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan makes an excellent head buffer

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SITREP – February 2015

SignallingWell it’s 2015 and yet it feels more like 1985 at times with RAF fighters chasing Tu-95 “Bears” up the English Channel and the Royal Navy hunting submarines in the North Sea. Excluding a certain wall in the German capital one could be forgiven for thinking the Cold War never ended. Add to this the threat of an increasingly bold terrorist network and the world is looking more unfriendly than ever.

So with that frightening realization in mind welcome to “Defence of the Realm’s” SITREP for February 2015. For those of you who are new followers and have never seen one of these posts before I would like to welcome you and thank you for giving the site a look. Basically, this is my opportunity to let you you know the direction the site is taking. It is also your opportunity to let me know your thoughts on the site in general as well as to offer your own suggestions/input in to any of the projects that are on the horizon.

So let me begin by thanking everyone who has viewed/commented/liked/reblogged any of the site’s articles this month. I am not trying to boast when I say that between January 1st and February 10th the site has garnered the same number of hits as the first four months combined and that’s down to you guys taking some of your time to read the posts. Its both flattering and encouraging. You may have noticed for the last week or so the site has gone quiet and this was due to illness in the family as opposed to a lack of interest on my part. I had been planning and researching my Night Fighter Mosquito article before things went a little crazy at home and I finally got chance to crack on with it this week. I am a dad first; everything else second.

So here are just a few of the ideas floating around my brain for the next month as well as well as some updates on previous projects I have been planning;

  1. The aircraft comparison between the Canberra and the Il-28 has been my most successful so far and it got a lot of people talking on Facebook as well as the site. I found this interesting because it was the first one not to be about which two fighters were better in a dogfight. I plan to expand further the types of aircraft compared to include transport types as well. I will admit I have been a bit biased to comparing aircraft to Russian designs (I am a child of the original Cold War after all) but recently I have been looking in to expanding in to comparing British hardware to other nations such as France and Russia. (Please feel free to make any suggestions in the comments box below).
  2. Another very popular article from the previous month was Are the Japanese serious about selling the RAF Kawasaki P-1s? and I have been told that this was because it offered a debate as opposed to simply providing hard facts. I have considered writing more debate-style articles in the past and have shied away from them because there is a risk to them. By their nature these articles try to convince a person of one belief or another and the opinion of the author is slave to his/her research. If I do write more debate-like articles I will certainly try to be as objective as possible.
  3. The long awaited tank comparison series is proving much harder than I ever thought it would be. The problem is finding complete and reliable sources for information. It would be pointless for me to write a comparison whereby I have complete data on the armour of one tank and incomplete data on the other. This would lead to a potentially inaccurate conclusion. Rest assured its coming though.
  4. Speaking of tanks; as most of you know the one thing I try to do is discuss British military history that seems to be forgotten and recently I learned about the role of British tanks and crews in the Russian Civil War in the aftermath of World War One. I found the story fascinating and have been researching it since in preparation for an article. I had hoped to have it published by now but alas family commitments prevented it.
  5. As some of you know the site now has a “Defence of the Realm Recommends” menu on the right hand side of the screen as you scroll down. These are sites I feel deserve special mention for one reason or another such as providing a source for an article or are written by people with passion and deserve more recognition. (uh hum…if you like RC helicopters check out Home Drones…Uh hum…Just saying 😉 )
  6. This month I got the chance to feel like a 12 year old again when I got the opportunity to climb inside a Vulcan B.2 bomber at East Midlands Aeropark. This inspired me to do more posts about museum exhibits in the UK. More are on the horizon as I plan to revisit, among others, the International Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare.
  7. Finally the look of the site is going to be going through a big change soon. I am ditching the drop-down menus format and instead replacing them with menu pages. The drop-down menus were fine in the early days but now the site is growing so large they are filling the page and cluttering it up. Menu pages will also give me the chance to put notes up on updated pages.

Thank you again for reading. If you would like to comment on any of the above or have your own suggestions/observations please feel free to put them in the box below. I will do my best to respond to everyone.

Thank you

– Tony

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Some Shameless Self Promotion…

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Hi everyone,

I just thought I’d take a moment to invite you to join my newest site about my passion for flying RC helicopters.

“Home Drones” will cover my experiences and lessons as I indulge in one of my favourite pastimes.

If you think you would be interested or just fancy take a look then click here.

Otherwise thanks for just following Defence of the Realm.

Take care.

– Tony

SITREP – January 2015

WirelessGreetings.

Well it’s a New Year and the site is now passing its sixth month mark. In that time it has developed beyond what I thought it would with a steady stream of hits and regular readers/ commenters. First I would like to thank some of the older hands for sticking with me. Your support has been both gratifying and encouraging. Secondly I would like to take this chance to welcome the newest followers.

For those of you who have never seen a SITREP post before I publish one a month and use it as an opportunity to let you know what I am researching for future posts. If you see anything listed that you think I may not be aware of please don’t hesitate to put something in the comments section. I will of course give full credit to anyone who contributes any information, pictures, etc.

As well as letting you know what I have planned this is also your opportunity to let me know how you think the site is progressing and have your say. Also if you have any recommendations for a future post please feel free to make them in the comments section below.

Also, if any of you are on Facebook please LIKE the Defence of the Realm Facebook page. I regularly update this page with news, links and pictures. This month I have uploaded a host of pictures from my visit to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton.

So here is January’s SITREP;

  1. In the comments section of last month’s SITREP I was told that the current format of the site can sometimes be difficult to read. I would like to know how widespread this view is and whether anyone else finds the site difficult to read. If so what exactly is difficult?
  2. If you have any requests for aircraft comparisons then please put them in the comments section below.
  3. I am still working on the Cold War recce Chipmunk article. Sadly it seemed to fall by the wayside due to other articles.
  4. I have been looking back on some of the older posts and I have realized that the way I have laid them out is different to my most recent ones. Therefore I plan to rework them to achieve uniformity across the site.
  5. I am planning to do a double feature on the first and last kills of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm in World War II. As some of you know I have a certain affinity for the Fleet Air Arm’s story and I think it is one that doesn’t nearly get the attention it deserves.
  6. This month I started writing up on warship classifications with articles on battlecruisers and torpedo boat destroyers. I plan to expand on this with more articles on other types of warship, their role and their use.
  7. Going to the other end of the spectrum I plan to start a series of articles highlighting British small arms and comparing them to other weapons in a similar format to the aircraft comparisons.

Happy New Year to you all

– Tony

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SITREP – December 2014

Wireless operatorHi everybody.

First of all I would like to thank you all once again for following the site and taking the time to read the articles I have posted. I have had some really positive feedback and this has been both touching and encouraging.

I have decided to make SITREP updates a monthly thing for the site. My plan is to publish one in the middle of each month to allow you guys, the followers, to take a look at what is coming over the next few weeks. As well as hopefully wetting your appetite for more I think it would be an excellent opportunity to call on your own expertise. If you see a topic below that you have information for that you think I may not be aware of then please feel free to comment below. As I have told a few of you now I have learned a lot myself researching topics for articles and that is one of the best things about projects such as this; that we can all learn more together.

I would also like to use SITREP as an opportunity for you to provide general feedback on the site as well as offer any suggestions for future articles. This is your opportunity to tell me what you want and hopefully we can work together to build an extensive database chronicling British and world military history and technology.

So here is December’s update;

  1. I am aware that I am quite bias towards military aviation. Unfortunately it reflects on my own personal history and so it is easier for me to write. I am making more of an effort to include more articles on the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Marines and have several article ideas that are wandering around my brain waiting to take fruition.
  2. I will be writing the long overdue Part 3 of “A U-Boat in the Royal Navy“. It has been left unacceptably long now and I know some of you are curious to know the final chapter.
  3. I am currently researching the use of an unlikely intelligence gathering aircraft used by the RAF to monitor Soviet Army movements in East Germany – the De Havilland Chipmunk. That’s right the trainer aircraft that thousands of air cadets flew in was used to spy on the Soviets as part of BRIXMIS.
  4. I know a lot of you enjoy the aircraft comparisons and as a pseudo sequel to the “Gloster Gladiator vs. Fiat CR.42 Falco” I am keeping with the North African theme and comparing the Spitfire V to Italy’s MC.202 Folgore – the Ferrari of the skies.
  5. I am going to do a write up on the Chieftain tank compared to the Soviet Union’s T-72 as soon as I can find some reliable sources for data.
  6. I am currently compiling a list of the small arms used by the British military since 1945 and analysing their usage and effectiveness.
  7. I am trying to make more of an effort to keep abreast of the latest military news and there will be far more news updates over the coming weeks.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Please feel free to give any feedback. Also don’t forget if you are on Facebook to LIKE the Defence of the Realm page.

Thank you again and seasons greetings to you all.

“Defence of the Realm” Goes Festive

As we are well and truly in to the month of December I felt it was only fitting that the site take on a more festive look with a series of Christmas themed images for the site’s headers. We should all take a minute over Christmas to remember those serving our country away from home and remember those who won’t be coming home again.

SITREP – Defence of the Realm

Lancaster_wireless_operator_WWII_IWM_CH_8790Hi everybody.

Just thought I would take a moment to bring you all up to speed on what December will bring for the site. Firstly I would like to thank all of you for following “Defence of the Realm”, the support I have received has been touching and inspiring to say the least. The site is now getting a healthy run of regular traffic and feedback.

There are a few of you who I would especially like to thank for their continued support through comments, reblogging and LIKES. I wont name them on here as I am worried I will miss a few of you out but you know who you are. If you are new to the site then welcome and I hope you find the articles interesting and informative.

So what’s on the horizon?

  1. I am definitely planning to do more aircraft comparisons in the future and have recently posted on the Facebook page an offer to submit requests. If you have a specific request then please feel free to comment below or on the Facebook page what you would like to see. The only condition is that the two aircraft have to be contemporary to one another in both role and time period. Ideally I would like at least one aircraft to be British but I am willing to accept requests for entirely non-British aircraft. I am currently working on a comparison of the Gloster Gladiator and the Fiat CR.42 in a project I am calling the “Battle of the Biplanes”.
  2. I am expanding the navigation tools of the site by adding more menus down the side of the page to cover some of the sub-categories or for topics that cross main categories e,g Forgotten Aircraft of the RAF and Royal Navy.
  3. Building on the “Aircraft Comparisons” I will be doing the same for tanks, ships and submarines. My long term aim is to build an encyclopaedia of information comparing many different types and evaluating the outcome. Again if you have any requests please feel free to comment below.

Thank you again for your support even if it is just taking the time to read an article on the site.

All the best.

– Tony Wilkins