Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Flight of the Young eagle

Today I want to take a quick overview of an armoured vehicle that has one of the most remarkable careers I've ever read about.

At the end of World War One conditions in eastern Europe were unique. The two dominating empires (Ottoman and Imperial Russia) had collapsed. This meant that lots of areas with differing ethnicity from the bigger empire saw the chance to try for independence. Of course, if you're setting up a state what sort of government do you want? So within those separate countries you would have competing factions. There were also scattered groups of Anarchists. As most of the countries in the world were rapidly disarming there was also a massive surplus of weaponry for those groups and movements to equip themselves.
In addition to the above, most western governments decided to supply troops to fight the Bolsheviks.
So in the period for the decade after World War One you had a huge swirling pot of conflicting groups. All trying to kill off the other groups. I would mention, this is a bit of an oversimplification.

The other unique thing at the time was that Tanks and other armoured vehicles were more akin to siege weapons. You use them to break a front line. Trains were the important weapon of the age. You could move armies and keep them supplied by train. Rail networks were much more extensive than they are today.
The "tanks" of this type of warfare, providing massive firepower, while protected against most retaliation, were the armoured trains. While most armoured trains are of the style one immediately thinks off, a number of wagons and a single engine. There was another class, engines and weapons were all mounted on one wagon. These are called "Draisine's". Both types were still in use after world war two.

One such Draisine was built in 1916, and this is the remarkable vehicle I wish to look at. When built she was called Zaamurets. Throughout her history could be used with other rolling stock to form various armoured trains. But during this article we're following the life of the Draisine, either as part of a larger train or operating on her own.

Zaamurets has had many names over her years of service; Glory of Ukraine, Polupanov's Boys, Death or Freedom, Lennin, BP-4, Train No 105. However for this article I will use the name she bore for the majority of her time, Orlik ("Young Eagle"). When built she had two 60 HP engines, 16mm of armour and two turrets with full rotation. In a 1917 refit she had 8 Machine guns fitted at various places. Both turrets were armed with 57mm field guns.

Orliks early history is patchy, she has appeared in the service of Both Germans and Imperial Russians. At the time of the Bolshevik Revolution she was at Odessa rail-yards undergoing repairs. During the next year she appears in the service of Ukrainian nationals, Bolsheviks and Germans.
What is certain is in January 1918 the Germans hand her over to a Ukrainian warlord called Skoropadskiy. Within weeks she gets recaptured by the Bolsheviks and is at Kiev.
During March 1918 Orlik is damaged, abandoned and recaptured in fighting against Anarchists. Then repaired and back in the fight, this time against Romanians. There follows a refit at Odessa. After that she is used to fight against German forces, where field guns damage her. To round up a busy month, another refit and redeployment to the 1st Revolutionary Army.

The Czech Legion were a formation of Czech and Slovaks fighting against Germany hoping to win independence for their  regions. Due to various reasons the Legion ended up fighting the Bolsheviks and taking control of the Trans-Siberian railway. One of the pieces they captured from the Bolsheviks, at the fighting at Simbrisk (22nd July 1918) was Orlik, as they named her. With no supplies of shells for the 57mm guns they re-armed her with 76mm 1902 field guns.

Whilst in service with the Czech legion, she was briefly owned by the Japanese after they sized her in a Manchurian town. As the Japanese were allied to the Czech legion she was returned after negotiations.

When the Czech legion evacuated from Vladivostok they gifted Orlik to the White Russians who carried on using her to fight the Reds until they evacuated into China in 1922. Orlik then entered Chinese service, serving under several different warlords until 1931 when the Japanese captured her and put her into service.

And that's where the trail dries up. No further records are know of the fate of Orlik. While its a nice image to think of her sitting in some siding somewhere just awaiting re-discovery the turbulent nature of the area, both militarily and politically make it unlikely.

Friday, June 14, 2013

[WoTB] Controllers for Blitz

During WWDC in San Francisco Apple announced that it is working on supporting physical controllers in iOS 7.

There going to be at least 3 version of it: 2 form-fitting ones and one standalone. Like this.

Such devices are already in use on Android working via bluetooth for smartphones and tablets.

Or even this.

We are definitely considering going for them (physical controllers) in World of Tanks Blitz, since it can really improve gaming experience a lot, giving the necessary precision especially for core gamers.

Any thoughts on this?  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

[WoWP] Planes Go Open Beta

More news from E3 event. World of Warplanes to go open beta early next month (July 2, 2013).

Expect one more update to 0.4.3 client before that.

Open beta video here.

Remember about 700 battles requirement and unified prem accounts? :)

[WoT] Going 360

This might be a bit late cause I'm right on my marathon Los Angeles - San Francisco - Orlando, but

it is finally happening. WG goes really multiplaftorm with with console project officially announced.

Embrace tank action on consoles! Sign up for the beta here

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Real life Reaper Medal

Michael Wittman, now there's a name to conjure with. I'm sure you're all familiar with his exploits. Wittman has risen to fame, much like Von Richthofen from the First World War. Just like Von Richthofen he has utterly eclipsed the stories of others who had adventures just as startling or heroic. For example how many of you, without googling, can tell me the name of the second highest scoring ace in World War One, or how many victories he had?
Suddenly Von Richthofen’s achievements (impressive though they are) look different. Wittman is the same, he eclipse’s all other tank stories. So to redress the balance, here's the story of 4th troop, "A" squadron, 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards Vs the Panzer Lehr.

The day after Wittman made his charge at Villers-Bocage the Durham Light infantry (DLI) and the 4th/7th Dragoons captured the village of Lingerves. One troop of three tanks from the Dragoons was in the village helping the infantry. The Firefly of that troop was still operational. Its commander was Sergeant Harris, with his gunner Trooper Mackillop. Off in the distance Sgt Harris spotted a Panther tank, and Tpr Mackillop quickly destroyed it.

The DLI had lost their 6 Pounder guns in action earlier, and so Sgt Harris moved up to cover them, and now was pointing down the main road. Suddenly a tank was seen charging down the road towards them. Luckily Sgt Harris identified it as a Sherman before shooting. As it passed the infantry, it turned off to the side. Behind it, chasing the Sherman was another Panther! The Firefly snapped off a shot that disabled the Panther by knocking the track off. This caused the Panther to swerve off into a bush, and out of sight. The DLI's commander, Major Mogg grabbed a PIAT and went after it,. quickly finishing it off (Yes, the Major was armed with a PIAT).

Elsewhere in the village, upon hearing tanks a Sherman, commanded by Corporal Johnson, from B troop went to investigate. Only to be knocked out by shells and several of the crew wounded or killed. The radio operator, Lance Corporal Draper, after bailing out and getting to cover, realized that the driver was still trapped inside by the turret position. Draper raced back across the open ground and rotated the turret and hauled out the wounded driver. He did all this while in full view of the enemy who had knocked out his Sherman.

Corporal Johnson's tank:

The fighting lasted all day, and the two remaining tanks of the troop began to run low on ammunition. So Sgt Harris left the battlefield to resupply. When he returned he faced the Germans final attack.  Parked next to the Church, Sgt Harris looked down the main road to see 4 Panthers approaching! One was destroyed by a shot to its flank from the Squadron's 2IC, immediately the remaining Panthers gunned their engines and charged. Sgt Harris knocked out the first with a well-placed shot, the second and third Panthers swerved round their destroyed colleague. The Second Firefly shot knocked out the second panther.

Panthers Three and Four.

The Third panther raced into the village. Now Sgt Harris had to stalk the Panther through the streets of the village. He eventually managed to get behind it as it entered the main Square of Lingeveres. The tank was destroyed just in front of the villages war memorial, which still stands to this day pitted with bullet holes and shrapnel from this battle.

The Final Panther.

(The war memorial's railings can be seen in the lower left of this picture)

In one day the Germans had lost 5 Panthers, 4 of which to the sharp shooting of one firefly gunner. Sgt Harris was awarded a DCM and MacKillop got a mention in Despatches for destroying 4 Panthers with as many shots. At this time, I haven't been able to find out what (if any) awards L/Cpl Draper received.