This weekend will see the 82nd running of the 24 Heures du Mans, or the 24 Hours of Le Mans for you non-French speakers. One of the major races of any fan’s schedule, it has long been a technological proving ground. It was originally conceived of to test the endurance of man and machine, and continues in that spirit today. However, in 1955 technological advancement and the pursuit of speed led to a mismatch in technologies that is a direct cause to one of the greatest motorsports tragedies in history.
Continue reading Disaster at Le Mans – Mismatched Technology
Vickers, seeking to capitalize on their success with the Viscount and in response to a request from British European Airways, introduced the Vanguard in 1960. The problem is the Vanguard was a turboprop aircraft introduced at a time when jetliners were gaining widespread acceptance. The Sud Aviation Caravelle, Boeing 707, and Douglas DC-8 had just gone on sale and the venerable De Havilland Comet had been in use for 8 years. Predictably, this meant meager sales and a short production life for the new Vickers.
Continue reading Bad Timing; Good Recovery
In the late 1950s, a two-prong battle in the Cold War raged in space. The world’s two great superpowers were looking at launching rockets through space to deliver earth-ending nuclear arms to their sworn enemies. Meanwhile, a more peaceful competition was also being pursued by the same two superpowers: putting a man in orbit and, eventually, on the moon.
Continue reading Nedelin Catastrophe
France, who has a long and tumultuous relationship with Great Britain, was a supporter of the Colonies during the Revolutionary War. France had recently lost the Seven Years War and was eager for revenge and to keep Britain from becoming too powerful. When the Americans declared independence in 1776, France jumped at the […]
In a briefing to the US Secretary of Defense in September, 1955, Werner von Braun suggested that a longer range missile be developed to compliment the short range Redstone rocket. The new missile should have a range of 1,500 miles and be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Army and the Navy both were interested and signed a joint pact with Chrysler to build this missile. The idea, they though, would be to park these missiles in Europe and along the Soviet coast to keep Crazy Ivan in check.
Continue reading Jupiter and the Cuban Missile Crisis
The unexpected third party in the nuclear stalemate.
Little known fact, but the eventual end of the nuclear proliferation stalemate between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as a near-miss event that could have led to our own nuclear annihilation, were both caused by a flock of geese.
Continue reading Tactical Geese
Little known fact, but Herbie, the loveable Volkswagen Beetle with a personality and a heart of gold, was actually responsible for the deaths of four people in Brazil, countless cases of radiation sickness, and one of the worst nuclear contamination incidents in modern times. It’s true!
Continue reading The Darker Side of Herbie
Did you ever wonder to yourself, “If jet fighters can fly faster than a speeding bullet, and they shoot bullets, what’s to stop them from flying into their own bullets??” The answer may astound and amaze you! Not only is it possible to shoot yourself down, it has actually been done! Once seems to have been enough, and the military evolved its flying combat tactics so that it wouldn’t happen again.
Continue reading Quit Hitting Yourself
OK, so this story is a little bit of bull, but I like it. I’m desperately hoping engineerd™ doesn’t show up an tell me it’s all wrong, but I’m going to tell it anyway. Maybe I’ll check snopes first… yeah OK, it’s partly bull but it’s fun. Strap in, here we go…
Continue reading This Ain’t Bull, It’s a Horse