Category Archives: Military History

Web Scraping WW2 Landing Ship Data

I have been working on improving my web scraping abilities by analyzing WW2 data. I have focused on topics related to how the US took the 14th largest military in the world and in roughly 18 months turned it into a military that could fight anywhere in the world. In this post, I want to look in detail at how war materials were delivered to beaches around the world using a vessel called a Landing Ship Tank (LST). I have wanted to write about the LST for a while, but the web data was distributed on about 1200 separate pages – one for each ship. While a Python script would have worked nicely, I wanted to try gathering the data without doing any programming. I found some software that did a good job automating this task, which I will discuss later in this post. Continue reading

 
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Audie Murphy's Rifle and the Power of Databases

When I was a boy, I read the memoir To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy and was very impressed with his accomplishments as an infantry soldier during WW2 (Figure 1). It is a very American tale – a dirt poor teenager from family with a dead mother and missing father accomplishes amazing feats through sheer determination and force of will. He later starred in a movie version of his book that is well worth watching. I should mention that the book tells a better tale than the movie. Continue reading

 
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Cannon Bore Measured in Pounds

I have been pulling together some WW2 data for an article that I want to publish in the next year or two. During my research, I have noticed that the British specified the caliber of their artillery by the nominal mass of the projectile (lbm or pound mass) and not by the bore diameter. I was curious as to how the British came to this particular system and decided to investigate further. As with many military standards, it traces its history back hundreds of years. Continue reading

 
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The Pacific War and Manufacturing Capacity

I was watched a particularly interesting lecture by Victor Davis Hanson on his new book The Second World Wars. While Hanson is generally thought of as an ancient Greek scholar, he does an excellent job of analyzing WW2 from a novel set of viewpoints: ideas, air, water, earth, fire, and people. Continue reading

 
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Old Naval Mines Still Floating Around

I just read a news article about an old moored training mine washing up on a North Carolina beach (Figure 1). I am amazed at the number of mines that still wash up on beaches around the world. Figure 1 shows the mine that washed up on a North Carolina beach recently. Stories like this seem to happen frequently after severe storms. Fortunately, this training unit (i.e. inert) did not pose a hazard to the people who came upon it, but some explosive-laden mines still wash up on beaches (example). Continue reading

 
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WW2 Tank Production Comparison Between Combatants

Quote of the Day At least you figured it out. My first two husbands never did. — Female employee told me this after I mentioned that my wife's nickname for me was "The Paycheck" – this nickname was a joke … Continue reading

 
Posted in Excel, History Through Spreadsheets, Military History | 7 Comments

US Navy Warship Mix

While driving home after watching the eclipse, I listened to the news talking about a collision between a US Navy destroyer, the USS John S. McCain (Figure 1), and a commercial tanker.  A previous collision also involved a destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald. These stories have made me curious about how many of these ships the US Navy has.  Continue reading

 
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US WW2 Submarine Tonnage Sunk Database

While answering a recent question about the tonnage sank by the top US submarine skippers during WW2, I realized that I had not made available my conversion of the JANAC data for vessels sunk by US submarines. The JANAC records are considered the official records because they were cross-checked with information from Japanese records. Continue reading

 
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Personnel Count of US Special Operations Forces

I have a son who lives in Butte, Montana – the home town of Robert O'Neill, a famous US Navy SEAL. We were discussing Mr. O'Neill's exploits one night and started to wonder about the size of the different US special operations forces. I quickly looked up some 2014 data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and put the data into a pivot table (Figure 1). I was a bit surprised at the numbers involved – it does not surprise me that the Army has the largest contingent, but the size of the Air Force's contingent was a surprise. Continue reading

 
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Visualizing US vs IJN Aircraft Carrier Numbers During WW2

I watched an interesting lecture on American History TV this weekend called Japanese Perspective on the Battle of Midway by Anthony Tully. The most interesting part of the discussion occurred when Tully began showing how the US production of aircraft carriers eventually overwhelmed the Japanese ability to build carriers. He used some simple graphs to show the relative carrier strength of the US Navy versus the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) over time. In this post, I will come up with my own graphics to visualize this information. Continue reading

 
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