Over the last year, producing the show with my good friend Ryan has been one of the best hobbies i’ve ever had. Talking about history with you all and learning new things along the way brought me a lot of joy, as did hearing all of the feedback from the listeners of the show.
Unfortunately, producing the show is very time consuming. Between finding the topics, writing the scripts, recording the shows and editing them all before publishing, it’s something that has become more and more difficult to find time to do.
I can speak for Ryan too when I say that neither of us ever wanted to put out a show that was anything less than our best. Because of this time demand, we have decided to put the show on what may become a permanent break.
If at some point in the future, circumstances change and we’re able to continue to develop the show, you may see episodes hit your podcast stream, but until then – thank you all for listening to me every week.
Even though the show may not be around (as much?) the spirit of the show lives on, so as usual, make totally sure that you stay geeky!
As a semi-supplement to the podcast we just released regarding the legacy of Japanese warfare during the second world war, a news story posted three days ago reports that another one of these historic bombs has been found by loggers in Eastern British Columbia. (Source)
These bombs were called “Fu-Go” – the Japanese for “Wind Weapon” and were planned as a weapon of opportunity against the Allied forces in North America by launching bombs held aloft by weather balloons and carried by the winds to the North American continent.
Japan launched 9,300 fire balloons during the war, with anywhere between 100 and 300 completing the aerial journey from the Japanese islands to their intended targets.
The program was extremely unsuccessful with the biggest loss of life being inflicted on an Oregon school teacher and five of her students who were on a trip to the woods one day in 1945.
The Japanese balloon bombs are just another example of the terrorist lengths that the Japanese were willing to adopt in pursuit of a military victory. Much like landmines, these weapons of fear will most likely continue to be found across North America for decades.
In addition to the podcast recently released on Operation JEDBURGH titled “Meet the Jedburghs”, I wanted to touch on a group I brought up during the podcast.
In “Meet the Jedburghs” we talked a lot about how the allies exploited the juncture between military intelligence and sabotage during WWII. But the allies weren’t the only intelligence game in town. So who were they up against?
As a quick recap, we covered the Commando Order put in place by Hitler in 1944 – a direct violation of the Geneva convention of 1929. We also talked a little bit about how Jedburgh operators caught under this order could be transferred to a Sicherheitsdienst (or SD) prison camp for interrogation.
The Sicherheitsdienst was what you could consider a sister organization to the infamous and brutal Gestapo. The purpose the SD served was as more of an intelligence gathering and investigative organization more than a capture/kill service like the Gestapo.
The SD became much more focused on the military aspect of intelligence consumption being used in support of offensive and defensive military operations rather than domestic and political crime enforcement in the way that the Gestapo was used for.
When it comes to Nazi intelligence gathering efforts, there were a number of very interesting dynamics that came into play. For example, there were a number of organizations that existed before the SD was created including the well known military intelligence organization called the Abwehr. Some of these organizations (Abwehr included) didn’t necessarily follow Adolf Hitler ideologically.
As a product of Hitler’s paranoia and the rampant nepotism in the Nazi system, Hitler created many redundant organizations with a more National Socialist focus (i.e. political enforcement) rather than practical military goals (again, like Abwehr).
These new organizations didn’t always get along great with each other, and the rivalry between the SD and Abwehr has been well recorded.
In the end, we remember the SD as an political intelligence organization tasked with locating political opponents to the National Socialist cause both inside and outside the borders of Germany.
The spirit struck me tonight and I decided that I would put together a blogpost on some outstanding historic film that I found a while back by chance. If you’re a fan of aviation history, you’re in for a treat!
In the 1950s during the early days of the cold war, image-based intelligence was king. Getting high quality aerial reconnaissance photos was a major challenge especially in the days before the first successful recon satellite (called Corona which wouldn’t be successful until 1960).
So how did the US get photographs over communist territory before satellites? The short answer: a very high-flying single jet engine plane. The even shorter answer: the U-2.
Nicknamed the “Dragon Lady”, the U-2 is a light-weight recon jet whose soul payload was a massive camera built to take high-altitude photographs of sites on the ground.
The U-2 began operations in 1957 and believe it or not, is still in operation today for the United States Air Force.
The most amazing thing about this jet is the altitude at which it could fly – 70,000 ft was the operational ceiling for the U-2. That’s nearly a low-Earth orbit; which means that the first pilots of the U-2 were among the first humans to observe the curvature of the Earth with their own eyes.
The fine folks at the Lockheed Martin company have generously released the test footage for a few of their iconic aerial platforms. The following video is test film for the U-2 Dragon Lady. (None of these have sound, so no need to adjust your speakers)
Even though the U-2 is still kicking around, the U-2 program suffered a heavy blow with the infamous shoot-down of Frances Gary Powers in May, 1960.
The need for a new plane with even higher performance became clear to the US government, and so a replacement was commissioned.
The SR-71 has been the object of many a boyhood fascination since it was first publicly fielded. Its unique design was what always attracted me to it and when I was young, the story of its development was almost as notorious as the plane itself. Ironically, what many people don’t know is that the SR-71 was not an original airplane.
Developed by a crack team of Lockheed engineers known as the “skunkworks” and led by the legendary figure Clarence “Kelly” Johnson the A-12 Archangel was meant to blow the lid off of traditional aerial design.
The A-12 was also designed as an aerial reconnaisance platform which eventually made it into the arsenal of the United States Air Force when the name would change from A-12 to SR-71.
The following video is Lockheed footage of the first flight of the A-12 Archangel:
The A-12 incorporated new anti-radar features which revolutionized the way that military flight design was approached.
After the Gary Powers incident, the danger posed by surface to air missile systems was suddenly a major issue that had to be dealt with during the design of America’s newest generation of air-power.
Enter the F-117 Nighthawk A.K.A. the stealth fighter.
The Nighthawk was another plane that captivated me as a child. After all, there’s nothing cooler than a super fast, super cool looking black fighter streaking through the sky at your local air show when you’re a 10 year old boy.
The Nighthawk incorporated many of the same design principles as the A-12, and went on to a long service in the USAF just like the previous two jets.
The Nighthawk represents the jet model which jumped the gap between reconnaissance aircraft design and fighting aircraft design.
To round out the post, I’d like to thank the Lockheed Martin company for taking the time to post these videos and to share them with the world.
As a bonus, that there’s a common thread linking all 3 of these aircraft. If you can figure out exactly what it is, I’ll give you a thumbs up for your prowess in both observation and historic intellect!
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve issued new content for the Geeked on History community. Some of you may have some concerns, but have no fear!
In lieu of a brand new episode, I’d like to let you all know what I’ve been up to.
About 3 weeks back, I had the pleasure of bumping into a veteran of the Berlin Airlift. I knew right away that I would have to ask him for an interview, and the next week I was able to sit down with him and ask him some questions about his immediately post-war experiences in the service in the city of Berlin.
Right now, that episode is being edited, and I hope to have it out sometime in the very near future. He has some crazy experiences, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you download that when it is available!
I was also invited to be a part of “The History Podcasters” network. I have submitted a 10 minute podcast to their history collage on influential women, and so I encourage you all to check it out once it’s ready.
Finally, I’m not sure if I’ve ever made it clear in the past, but Geeked on History up until this time has been 100% my baby. I have always done all of the research, recording, editing and publishing on my own, but because of some slight inconsistencies in editing quality (and frankly the time it takes to produce a full show) I have decided to enlist a little bit of help.
A close friend of mine, Ryan will be helping me out with the editing of the podcast from now on. I hope that this will enable the show to come out on a more consistent schedule, and will free me up to improve on the quality of research I can do for each show.
Thanks again, loyal geeks for taking the time to visit the site, read this post and listen to the podcast. And until next time, stay geeky!
Here at the Geeked on History podcast, we like to maintain a certain standard of recording and editing quality.
It’s my personal opinion that a podcast that sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage can be distracting and detract from the content of the speaker. Bad edits tend to do the same thing.
A listener of the podcast (thank you very much to the listener for letting me know!) pointed out that the Moulin Rouge podcast had a couple small issues with the editing.
So to show that I am truly comitted to the quality of the podcast, I would like to re-issue the Magical Mystical Moulin Rouge with improved edits. If you’d like the reissued version, it is now available by reviewing the previous blogpost on the moulin rouge, or by downloading from Itunes.
If you hear something amiss with the podcast, I encourage you to let me know so that I can rectify the issues in quality. If it bothered you, it surely bothered others.
Did you know that the Washington monument bears a vestige of the independent Mormon state that never was?
As a prelude to the content in the upcoming Season 2 episode 1 podcast (to be released in the very near future!) This blog-post is a nod to a Mormon Easter egg located in our humble federal capitol.
Before Utah territory was officially recognized and sanctioned by the United States government, Brigham Young and his band of settlers established a provisional state which existed for just over 2 years. This early territory was named “Deseret” after the word for “honeybee” in the Book of Mormon.
This gave rise to the Utah state symbol of a beehive and the nickname for Utah, “The Beehive State”.
In recognition of their new provisional territory, A brick was commissioned by the legislature of Deseret to represent Deseret in the iconic monument being constructed in the District of Columbia.
The unassuming brick is located on the 220 ft. landing inside of the monument, the brick is adorned with the symbolic beehive and an inscription that reads “Holiness to the lord” and “Deseret”.
The brick was crafted by Mormon pioneer artist William Ward and was donated to the project in 1853 just before federal funding for the monument project dried up temporarily.
Be sure to look for it if you ever visit the nation’s capitol, and decide to hoof it up the stairs of the Washington Monument rather than taking the convenient elevators!
Geeked on History was never meant to be a show about current events, so I’ve found myself having to make some decisions about the future of the podcast given what’s been happening in the news. I keep this giant master list of topics that I want to cover at some point, and over the last week, I’ve felt the urge to push this particular topic up on the schedule.
Since Friday of last week, there has been an ongoing crisis in an area that not many people in the United States know much about.
On February 28th, 2014 the news has reported that elements of the Russian military have invaded a region in South-Eastern Ukraine called Crimea. Crimea is a very old territory, and has been disputed for many years by both Russian and Ukrainian interests. The most famous contest over this area was the Crimean War.
The Crimean war lasted some 2 years and change starting in October 1853 and ending in February 1856.
The original Crimean War is a bit of a complex conflict that I hope to cover in greater detail in the podcast (there I said it!) that will be coming out soon, so in this blog post I wanted to point out a little about the strategic significance of the Crimean region.
Here is a picture of the region surrounding the Black Sea. Crimea is circled in red, and the arrow you see in the lower left is pointing to the reason that Crimea has always been so important to Russian interests.
Sevastopol is home to a very important port to Russia that allows an outlet into the Black Sea from which they can launch seabound vessels.
Let’s zoom in on the arrow now:
The red area is the Bosphorus strait, which dumps seagoing vessels into the sea of Marmara, which uses the Dardanelle strait as an outlet to the Aegean Sea. The Aegean Sea then connects you easily to all of Southern Europe, so if Russia controls the port in Crimea, they have a much more direct and faster trade route through this path, than they do going overland through a number of different countries.
Hopefully this short preview gives you enough back-story to understand why this region is going to play such an integral role when you hear about it in the news.
Keep your ear to the ground for the upcoming podcast on the Crimean war, and make sure you all stay geeky!