In today’s podcast, we get our hands a little dirty on World War 2 history. I know, I know. I used it as a point of pride to say that we tried to avoid covering too many topics in the WWII era, but I feel that this topic qualifies as quality content for Geeked on History ears.
Operation JEDBURGH was an old concept applied with new effectiveness. Gone were the days of security deep within the borders of a rapidly advancing front. When air troop transports can drop covert teams of saboteurs behind your lines, any illusions of safety evaporated like water on a hot summer day.
So nestle in with your choice of summer beverage (I’ll take a Bell’s Oberon, please!) and enjoy the podcast!
Today we’re going to revisit one of my favorite topics – nuclear/cold war history.
At the very end of WWII, the Americans developed one of the most terrifying weapons that the world has ever seen. Powered by a chunk of enriched and unstable fissile material, the parts of the weapons were almost as dangerous to human life as their sum.
Because of the lives that it took, one such core would come to be known by its sinister and ominous moniker: The Demon Core.
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!
Welcome back to all the faithful listeners of the Geeked on history podcast. It’s been about a month, and to celebrate the return of the podcast I have a very special treat for all of you!
The Berlin Airlift was one of the very first major confrontations of the post-war era. Disagreements with how to handle the city of Berlin after Nazi control had been usurped put the gears of the cold war in motion in a renewed ideological conflict that would entangle almost every nation on Earth in one way or another.
The USSR had their sights set on control of the entire European continent, to include Germany and the city of Berlin, which was being shared by the four major allies in World War II.
The Soviet Union had constructed a scheme to supply all of Berlin exclusively by controlling the supply chain into the city from all sides. The United States; not planning on being cut out of the future of the capitol of Germany, decided to try a radical solution to circumventing Soviet ground control. Instead of sending in ground convoys, they would send convoys in the air.
In this week’s episode, I take a divergence from the normal format and interview a veteran I met (by way of absolute luck) to get his viewpoint on the conflict, and understand how the event worked from someone who was on the front lines.
I’d like to send a special thanks out to my veteran friend Bob Gload for taking the time out to sit down with me and discuss his experience and to my good friend Ryan Duff for taking on the task of editor for the podcast. Without either of these two incredible gentlemen, we wouldn’t be able to hear this very special podcast.
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.
In 1816, unusual global weather patterns caused what would have been the summer months, to be an extension of winter. Crops failed, and many died from starvation and disease throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Listen to this week’s podcast to hear more!
For this week’s podcast, I wanted to explore a bit of the darker side of history. Historic mysteries are the best kinds of mysteries, and while Geeked on History tries to steer clear of history that is difficult to cite, exceptions will be made for certain topics.
In 1922, one of the most unsettling unsolved mass murders occurred in farm country, Germany. While the fact that the murders remain unsolved, the secrets of the murdered family contribute to this odd and creepy story.
Who would want to murder a family living on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Germany? What happened inside that barn? What horrors did 7-year-old Cazilia see when she walked into the pitch darkness of the old farm shed?
As promised, you can find a few of the crime-scene photos taken at the Hinterkaifeck farmstead attached to this post.
September 11th symbolizes tragedy for Americans for the terrorist attacks in 2011. For some people in the USA, September 11th stands for another American tragedy – the massacre of 120 innocent travelers through Utah territory.