Breaking the Sound Barrier 

    In October 1947, 24 year-old Air Force test pilot Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager flew an experimental Bell X-XS-1 rocket-propelled aircraft out of Edwards Air Force Base (then called Muroc Army Air Field) in California to break the sound barrier at a speed of Mach...

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Interstate Bus Segregation

In June 1946 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Virginia law requiring racial segregation on commercial interstate buses as a violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The appellant Irene Morgan, riding an interstate Greyhound bus in 1944 had been...

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Dunkirk

After seeing the new movie DUNKIRK directed by Christopher Nolan last night, I wanted to recommend it to you readers. Like the top film critics, I found this film technically flawless and emotionally extremely powerful. The film's soundtrack by Hans Zimmer kept me on...

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Port Chicago Disaster

In 1944, segregated African-American Navy units were assigned dangerous loading operations. Most of these men were not trained in munitions handling, and safety standards were apparently often overlooked under heavy pressure to complete loading schedules. In July...

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U.S. Submarines – Pacific WWII

Although the U. S. Navy had 68 submarines in the Pacific at the start of the Pacific War, they sank only 93,300 tons of Japanese shipping. This was < 10% of what 100 operational German U-boats sank in the same period. Initially, U.S. submarine operations were hindered...

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U-Boat Milchkuh Resupply

Researching material for a history-inspired novel I am writing about the Battle of the Atlantic, I came across the fascinating story of the Type XIV Milchkuh (milk cow) submarine tanker. In early 1942, German U-Boats hunting Allied ships along the U.S. East Coast,...

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U-Boat Patrol

In the history-inspired novel I am currently writing, Kapitänleutnant Reinhard Hardegen is the role model for my German U-Boat commander protagonist.  

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V-Mail

During WWII, mail, invaluable to the morale of American troops overseas, took up valuable cargo space. In June 1942, the U.S. Postal Service developed a 7 x 9 1/8" paper and envelope Vmail form. Letters written on the standardized form were first censored, then...

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U-Boats Off America

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZL7-nclmO0 In January 1942 five German Type IX U-boats, essentially unmolested by U.S. air and naval forces who were unprepared for anti-submarine warfare, began hunting merchant ships off the east coast of North America. Many of their...

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No New American Cars

On January 1, 1942, all sales of American cars were frozen by the government’s Office of Production Management  as auto plants began swiftly converting to military-only production of arms, munitions, trucks, tanks and planes. In April 1942  the Automotive Council for...

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Volkswagen

1938 "Strength through Joy" (Kraft durch Freude) automobile In the early 1930s, most cars manufactured in Germany were luxury models and the average German worker with a monthly income of ~ 32 Reichsmarks could afford nothing more than a motorcycle. In 1933 Adolf...

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Japanese Automobiles

  Cars built in Japan before WWII tended to be based on European or American models. In 1925 the Ford Motor Company of Japan began manufacturing in Yokohama. In 1927 General Motors and Chrysler also established operations in Japan. From 1925-36, these three American...

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Driving In Nazi Germany

This is a great link describing Driver Education in Nazi Germany: Whoa, Driving Around In Nazi Germany Was Super...

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Battle of the Atlantic

  Named the "Battle of the Atlantic,” by Winston Churchill, the course of the WWII six-year U-boat campaign changed constantly, with one side or the other gaining advantage, as each side developed new weapons, tactics, counter-measures and equipment. By the end of...

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~33 Allied Ships Sunk/Week

Charts via American Merchant Marine in World War 2 The majority of Allied losses were to U-Boats in the Atlantic. Although Germany was highly successful in the first part of the war, Imperial Japan never pursued an active campaign against shipping in the Pacific. The...

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Mexico Declares War

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afrOsaJCGm4 In the decade before WWII, Mexico was chaotic and unstable. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) which caused widespread destruction and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives was followed by several violent uprisings against...

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Japanese Hell Ships

In May 1942  Japanese "Hell Ships" began transferring Allied prisoners of war to Japan. With conditions not unlike those of the infamous Bataan death march, prisoners were often packed into stuffy cargo holds with little food or water. Many POWs died of thirst,...

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American Liberty Ships

  2,710 American cargo ships, popularly named liberty ships were built from 1941-1945. Of simple pre-fabricated design, relatively inexpensive and rapidly-produced, they became a symbol of American wartime industrial output. To counteract initial public disdain...

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1st Around-the-World Commercial Flight

The Pacific Clipper,  a Boeing 314 flying boat, was preparing to land in New Zealand when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. They backtracked to New Caledonia, then Australia. From there, they flew on to the Dutch East Indies, Ceylon, Pakistan, Sudan, Belgian Congo, Brazil...

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U.S. Arms Merchant Ships

  Prior to the U.S. entry into WWII, the U.S. Neutrality Act of 1936 prohibited  the arming of American merchant ships carrying war supplies to the Allies.  With increasing attacks by German aircraft and submarines  in war zones, Congress amended the act in November...

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Imperial Japanese Airways

In the late 1930s, Imperial Japanese Airways (大日本航空株式会社 Dai Nippon Kōkū Kabushiki Kaisha) flew extensive domestic and international routes.  At the onset of the Pacific War in December 1941, all commercial operations were suspended, and aircraft  requisitioned for...

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Oldsmobile Hydramatic

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Ue07DdPQv0k Oldsmobile's 1940 hydramatic transmission was the first fully-automatic four speed transmission....

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Pan Am Crosses the Atlantic

On May 20, 1939, after years of political and economic opposition (while dirigibles flew regularly across the Atlantic), Pan American’s B-314 Yankee Clipper flew the first trans-Atlantic mail service from New York to Lisbon....

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Golden Gate Bridge Opens

Funded by a local bond issue, the Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay opened in May 1937* after 4 years of construction.  

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Amelia Earhart Disappears

At 7:42 A.M. on July 2, 1937 the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, stationed offshore of Howland Island (an uninhabited coral island halfway between Hawaii and Australia) picked up this message: “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to...

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