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3 June, Unexploded Ordnance in Europe

World War's I and II ravished the European countryside. Millions of pounds of ordnance was dropped or fired from 1914-1945, especially across the fields that comprised the Western Line. Northern France, Belgium, and Western Germany are the most rife with unexploded ordnance. Large scale evacuations continue today periodically for the disposal of unexploded ordnance. This ranges from small charges and remote locations to large charges in large cities.

4 June, The XB-70 Valkyrie

The 1950s ending with a roar in aviation between the century-series of aircraft and a demand for high-altitude, high-speed, strategic recon and bomber aircraft. Chief amongst these was a design from North American Aviation, who eventually produced a working prototype in 1964. The XB-70 was aptly named the Valkyrie, and rightfully so. This giant was painted white and was massive, capable of speeds in excess of Mach 3. Ship's 1 and 2 were flown until 1969 and both carried NASA and USAF markings through their entire careers.

5 June, Battle of the Rock Island Rapids

The farthest west battle of the War of 1812 took place on two islands on the Mississippi River in what was known as the Battle of the Rock Island Rapids. There were two main engagements that took place in the area. The first of these took place in July of 1814 on what is now known as Campbell's Island where MAJ Campbell engaged members of the Sac and Meskwaki tribes who were aligned and supplied by the British. Campbell was defeated and forced to retreat due to the nature of the attacks. MAJ Zachary Taylor, who followed in September to reinforce Prairie Du Chien was also attacked at Willow Island, near modern day Credit Island. He was also forced to retreat.

6 June, The Wild Weasel

The mission of the "Wild Weasel" was first described in 1965 as a means to strike and destroy anti-air defenses (particularly Surface-to-Air Missile sites) ahead of incoming strike packages. The first Wild Weasel aircraft were F-100's and A-4's, but the mission was more notoriously owned by the F-4G Phantom. During Operation Linebacker and Linebacker II, F-4G's launched hundreds of strikes against Vietnamese SAM sites ahead of numerous bombing missions. The current incarnation belongs to the F-16, and the future role is set to belong to the F-35.

8 June, The Crash of the Valkyrie

On this day in 1966, tragedy struck over the skies of Southern California as a mid-air collision forced two aircraft to the ground in a fiery plume, and caused the deaths of 3 pilots. At the request of General Electric, five aircraft flew in formation for what should have been a routine photoshoot. The lead aircraft was the XB-70 Valkyrie, ship 2. An F-104 flying on it's right side cut close to the ship, and collided with the wing causing debris to rip off the aircraft. The F-104 immediately was engulfed in flames, and the XB-70 began an uncontrolled spiral. Al White, the lead pilot of the XB-70 was the only pilot to escape, but was seriously injured.

9 June, Operation Meetinghouse

The Doolittle Raid was just the first of a series of strikes against Tokyo. From 1942-1945, the U.S. carried out multiple bombing sorties against the Empire of Japan's capital city. The most significant of these took place on the night of 9 March 1945. Estimates from Operation Meetinghouse suggested that there were around 100,000 casualties and over one million homeless created from the strikes. The assaults on Tokyo left the city crippled until well into the 1950s.

10 June, The Bockscar Canvas

You may or may not find yourself familiar with the "Bockscar." This B-29 Bomber was the plane to drop the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. Throughout the duration of it's career in the Pacific Theater, however, it did not have nose art like its sisters. The nose art was added much later upon it's acceptance to the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. When the plane arrived on Tinian ahead of the bombing in June of 1945, the only thing it sported was a Triangle-N on the tail.

11 June, The Locust Tank

The T9E1 Locust tank was constructed beginning in 1942 and continued production through 1945. It is one of the smallest tanks to ever be fielded. Despite it's American development, it was most notoriously used by the Israelis during the Arab-Israeli War in 1948. The Locust wasn't used widely in World War II by the Allies, despite it's use as an air-deployed tank, mainly due to it's lack of armor. Instead, most Locust tanks were repurposed as prime movers. Some even were auctioned off and used as tractors and plows in the United States, while others were purchased by various organizations for other missions such as snow removal.

12 June, Operation Tomodachi

Today's history post - Following to Tohoku earthquake in 2011 that included a tsunami and a nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Operation Tomodachi was launched to provide materiel support to Japan. Tomodachi was an emergency response operation that was headed by U.S. Forces Japan and included mobilization across the joint forces in Japan. Tomodachi - literally meaning Friends - included providing materiel to the Japanese, search and rescue, medical aid, shelter, and restoration of infrastructure. The last element of the venture concluded in September of 2012.

13 June, The A-12 Oxcart

A-12 Oxcart's sitting on dry TARMAC. The Oxcart was the precursor to the more notorious SR-71 Blackbird and operated entirely in secrecy during it's service career. It was retired just ahead of the SR-71's introduction. Larger, capable of faster speeds, and higher altitudes, the A-12 remained secret until well into the 1990s. The existence of the A-12 was obstructed by public acknowledgement of a similar program; the YF-12. The YF-12 was a fighter platform that utilized the same testbed as the A-12. The existence of the A-12 and the duration of it's classification lead many to believe there was a second or third additional related project to the Blackbird family.

15 June, Kosovo War

The result of an increasing severe humanitarian crisis, the Kosovo War was one of a series of wars to breakout from the collapse of Yugoslavia. From February of 1998 thru June of 1999, Coalition Peacekeeping Forces from NATO (KFOR) were engaged with forces from the fragmented Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - modern day Serbia and Montenegro - in a battle which resulted in a large influx of refugees and massive escalation in the destabilization of the Baltics. Due to the nature of support between the belligerents and Kosovo's attachment to Yugoslavia, the Kosovo War is often identified as a proxy-war of the "extended" Cold War era. Engagements began to die down on 11 June 1999.

16 June, Atomic Artillery in the Cold War

As recently as 1992, atomic artillery has been a staple in deterrence enforced by the U.S. Army. The need was first described in 1947, and culminated itself in the form of the T1 240 mm Gun, Proto-Annie. It was reiterated several times over the duration of the Cold War, with 155, 175, 203, 280, 350, and 420 mm rounds. At the peak of Cold War tensions, the standard sizes ranged between 155 and 203 mm shells. Doctrine indicated that these shells were to be deployed strategically and used in tandem with additional support means such as air, mechanized, and infantry units. Tactical atomic strikes were rendered further useless with the refinement on high-explosive conventional weapon systems.

18 June, WECOM's Multifunctional Airborne Platform

The precursor to the Osprey. There were numerous designs that pre-dated the rotary transport of the V-22. One of them was a multi-functional platform which served as an airborne artillery system and a highly-mobile ground artillery system. The proposed platform by U.S. Army Weapons Command would also allow for transport of materiel. The role of this concept was ultimately covered by three different platforms: the AH-64 Apache, the V-22 Osprey, and the A-10 Thunderbolt. The CH-47 Chinook also took the role for utility deployment of howitzers and field guns.

20 June, The Paris Cannon

The Paris Kanonen was a World War I era artillery system developed by the Krupp firm for Germany. Based on naval artillery and large rail artillery already in service, such as the 38.5 cm LANGER MAX, the Paris Kanonen (or Cannon) was capable of firing a shell up to 150 kilometers away. The largest range observed was approximately around 130 kilometers and was fired on 30 January 1918 from a site just north of Altenwalde. The shell was fired out to sea, falling just short of Borkum and just past Juist. The cannon got it's name from it's used to bombard the city of Paris at a range of 69-83 kilometers. It is cited as the genesis of long-range artillery weapon systems.

21 June, The A-12 Mothership

The A-12 Oxcart was the origin point for the Archangel program. It had multiple incarnations and proposals as did it's successor in the SR-71. One of the A-12 proposals was a bit more exotic and wild. Coming at the height of the Space Race, the Archangel program was not numb to the thought of space travel. The proposal that never left paper was to use the A-12 as a launch platform for aircraft that may have been able to fight in the upper stratosphere, as well as much lower. At least by 1965, this proposal had been binned. However, the M-21 Blackbird did have a parasite drone in the D-21 which flew into the mid-late 1960s. The D-21 program was mostly unsuccessful, however.

22 June, Battle of Okinawa Ends

On this day in 1945, the Battle of Okinawa concluded with a decisive American victory. American forces had been active in the prefecture since 1 April fighting through harsh conditions and staunch resistance by the Imperial Japanese Forces and civilian populations. All forms of combat comprised the battle. Okinawa was deemed a preview of potential combat on the Japanese home islands if Downfall were to proceed. The aftermath of Okinawa resulted in almost total destruction of the Japanese Navy, the virtual depletion of most remaining seasoned Japanese pilots, and put the Americans in a strategic location to carry out possible landings in Kyushu. Today, Okinawa is home to Kadena AFB, which provides security guarantees for U.S. Forces Japan and the Japanese Self Defense Forces.

23 June, The Neutron Bomb

The Neutron Bomb. It's the dirtiest of the dirty atomic payloads. Designed to maximize radiation fallout and minimize physical damage, these bombs were developed beginning from about 1964. Their initial purpose was on the Sprint Missile that was part of the Nike-X program as an anti-ballistic missile. The neutron bomb in this case would detonate near the incoming missile and cause the inbound missile's warhead to malfunction. Subsequent development saw it used for deterrence and offensive purposes. This included the Lance missile system and the M198 howitzer.

24 June, The 509th Bomb Wing

The 509th Composite Group was assigned to Tinian in 1945. It was solely responsible for carrying out the atomic mission against Japan in August. After the war, it was redesignated as the 509th Bombardment Group, VH. It was active during the Korean War and was deactivated in 1952. In 1993, it was reactivated as the 509th Operations Group - a unit of the 509th Bomb Wing. The 509th OG is the operational and fighting arm of the 509th Bomb Wing - which also means they are the ones flying all 20 of the B-2 Spirit Bombers currently in the USAF's arsenal.

25 June, Rockwell's HiMAT

Rockwell Aviation was one of the rock stars in unique and innovative designs in the late-Cold War period. Having absorbed what was left of North American Aviation, they proceeded to work on the newly revisited B-1 Lancer. However, in 1979, they were also examining highly maneuverable aircraft. The RPRV-870 HiMAT was the technology demonstrator for this project. The drone first flew in July and was purpose built for NASA to research potential design technology for future fighter aircraft. Much like other drones, it was launched from a carrier B-52. Research from the aircraft went on to be used in the X-29 program, but any additional trickle down technology is unknown.

26 June, USAREUR & Atomic Annie

The main unit associated with Atomic Annie was U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) specifically the forces that were occupying Germany and portions of the Fulda Gap. Units operating in this region were tasked primarily to launched pre-emptive strikes and establish a means for retreat should the Soviets break through the region. Using the atomic cannon was designed to halt Soviet advances in the best case scenario. In the worst, it was merely used to create an obstacle to delay the Soviets in time to prepare a full counter-attack or to totally repel the Soviets behind the radiation belt. By 1959, Annie had run her course and she had been replaced with more mobile ordnance systems, such as the 175 mm T145 and the M-28 and 29 Davy Crockett Recoilless Rifle.

27 June, Materiel Logistics & the Gulf War

According to the Armament Munitions and Chemical Command (AMCCOM), over 500,000 pieces of PPE, ~55,000 rifles, ~11,000 pistols, ~1,200 grenade launchers, and ~1,800 machine guns were shipped between September 1990 and February 1991 in support of the Gulf War. There were also around thirty ordnance systems shipped and an additional 1,100 M60 machine guns shipped plus around 500,000 short tons of ammunition, munitions, and bombs shipped. In total there were just short of $900 million in procurements during that same time.

28 June, North Field, Tinian

During World War II, the island of Tinian in the Marianas was extremely active. By mid-1944, the island had fallen out of Japanese hands and was to serve as the staging point for elevated strikes against the Japanese home islands, particularly Honshu and Kyushu. Two air fields were situated there. The still active West Field, and the more notorious North Field. North Field was a massive installation that was the home base of most B-29 operations in the Pacific Theater after it's completion. Most significantly, it was the home operating base for the 509th Composite Group which dropped the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was abandoned in the 1950s in favor of Kadena AFB but most facilities associated with the atomic bombing are still preserved. The rest is overgrown as seen here.

29 June, Kadena AFB

Just hours after the battle of Okinawa concluded, American engineers began excavating and building an air base on the island. The installation was to act as the staging point for another series of strikes across the entire Japanese home islands and into Manchuria. The surrender of Japan on 15 August resulted in the urgency for the base on Okinawa to be dialed back, but it's role in the Pacific Theater of Operations was not over. By 1946, American forces were well established on the island. In 1950, it acted as a routing point for U.S. Forces Korea and elements moving into the Korean War. It also was active during Vietnam. Throughout the Cold War it served as an intermediate post for spy missions and early-alert missions. The well known Kadena AFB today is home to the 18th Wing and provides security guarantees to the Japanese Self Defense Force, INDOPACOM, USFK, and USFJ.

30 June, The Dyatlov Pass Incident

It was a bitterly cold February in 1959 deep in the Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union. The world was at the peak of the Cold War, but for nine individuals, it was just another month, week, day. Still occasionally disputed today, the deaths of these nine hikers/skiers remains somewhat of a mystery. So much so that books and movies continue to be published about the mysterious Dyatlov Pass Incident. Labeled as death by an "unknown compelling force", the hikers were found dead in various states that were questionable. Most died from exposure or other traumas after contact was lost for a number of days. The nature of their deaths and how they died is what continues to confuse many. Most experts agree, however, that it was due to some form of natural phenomena. Others have speculated Soviet military exercises, tests, and even the paranormal. However, by and large the mystery of Dyatlov Pass remains relatively unsolved.

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