Tag: Korean War

Norden Bombsight

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has an original, full-size Norden Bombsight on display in the museum. 


Development of the Norden Bombisight began with the U.S. Navy’s desire to secure a system was capable of bombing ships that would fall outside the range of their defensive guns.   About the same time, the U.S. Army had undertaken a similar project.  The Bombsight became one of the military’s top secret and closely guarded projects of WW II.  The intricacy of this instrument allowed a more accurate timing as to when it was necessary to drop a bomb in order to accurately hit the target below.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was the aircraft the Army chose for the Norden, feeling it was the most capable aircraft to insure the success of this top secret bombsight.  Later variations of the B-17 were designed to allow the Norden Bombsight to take over the controls of the plane and actually fly the aircraft.   The known accuracy of the Norden was said to have been successful enough to hit a 100 foot circle at 21,000 feet – which is approximately 4 miles high.  However, test results proved to be more successful than actual bombing missions.

Top Secret Device

The secrecy of the Norden Bombsight meant the sight would not be loaded into the aircraft until just prior to take-off.  Before loading, the sight would be covered from view and brought to the plane using armed guards.  Once the mission was completed and the plane returned, the sight would once again be covered and armed guards would safely escort it back to “the Bomb Vault”.  All bombardiers using the Norden had to take an oath to protect this highly classified instrument, even if it meant their life.  In the event of an emergency landing in enemy territory, they were instructed to shoot the sight’s most critical instruments in order to disable it.  The military felt this did not destroy the sight enough should it fall into enemy hands, which lead to the installation of a thermite grenade making it possible to create a heat reaction capable of melting the Norden into a useless pile of metal.

By the end of the war, the secrecy of the sight was downgraded with the first public display occurring in 1944.  The most famous mission for the Norden Bombsight occurred on August 6, 1945, when the sight was used in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.   The legacy of the Norden bombsight did not end there.  At the onset of the Korean War, aircraft from WWII that had been left intact were once again called into service.   At the onset of the Vietnam War, the USAF once again would turn to the Norden Bombsight, but this time, WWII technicians were needed to bring them back to operational status.

Today’s Top Ten Armies (Military Powers) in the World

This list of Top Ten Armies (Military Powers) in the world is subjective at best.  Unless you looked at specific aspects and judged based on that criteria alone, the list cannot be definitive.  One can look at a nation’s defense budget or the size of their enlisted members, or combine the two.  Another area for consideration is the amount of armor a nation has inventoried including tanks, helicopters, aircraft and ships.  This top ten took in a little of all of that, but it is still one perspective looking at the Armies around the world.  Input and educational pieces on other armies not listed here, or any additional information that may have been omitted, are welcomed.

Before listing the top ten, one country fell just short of making the list, but certainly deserves to be mentioned – North Korea.  They not only have one of the largest Special Forces in the world – 120,000 members – they have a very large inventory of armor.

10.  Pakistan

Pakistan is known for their good upper leadership.  Founded in 1947, their three branches of service totals more than 600,000 people – all volunteers.  They have close Pakistan Aircraftties to the militaries of the US and China.  Pakistan’s budget of over $5 billion is smaller than all the other top ten militaries, but it does exceed the overall defense budget of a number of other countries around the world.  While Pakistan has about the same number of naval craft as the United Kingdom (see below), they have more aircraft and helicopters and an incredible total of 9,000 tanks and armored vehicles.  They have assisted the United States in their War on Terrorism by fighting the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and along their own borders.

9.  United Kingdom  

British Forces include three branches of service, – the navy, the army and the air force. Below are some figures for the United Kingdom – the figures presented could vary slightly:

  • British HelicopterActive Military (including army, navy and air force) – 197,700
  • Reserve – 212,000
  • Paramilitary – 152,000
  • Aircraft and Helicopters – 1,800
  • Tanks and Armored Vehicles – 5,500

Despite having one of the smallest numbers of active military, the militaries of the United Kingdom are a sustainable force and their SAS is among the world’s top Special Forces.  Britain is a steadfast ally of the U.S.

8.  Iran

Iran militaryIran has one of the best small forces in the world.  Half of this countries government’s income goes towards defense.  Their modern day military was first founded in 1923 and currently boasts over 500,000 active members.  In addition, its defense budget of $10 billion has allowed more aircraft than the US and UK combined and almost the same amount of aircraft and helicopters as China, a country with a much larger force and budget.

7.  Turkey

Turkey militaryTurkey’s Army dates back over 2,000 years.  Their modern day militaries were not established though until 1920.  Turkey has over 600,000 members in its military forces and its budget is close to $19 billion.  This country comes in fourth for the total number of tanks and armored vehicles – 11,000 plus.  All Turkish males – once they reach 20 years of age – are required to serve in the military.  There are very few exceptions to this requirement.

6.  Germany 

Germany's Leopard IIMuch of Germany’s notable military history began with the rise of Hitler.  They were responsible for the start of WWII when they invaded Poland.  When the war was over, the country divided and the West German Army was formed.  It wasn’t until the 1990s the country reunited.  Currently, Germany has more than 200,000 active military members who are well-trained and well-equipped.  Germany boasts of one of the best tanks in the world – the Leopard II.

5.  France

France's MilitaryFrance’s military does not have the reputation as a super power, but its numbers would say differently.  Their military totals over 360,000 members spread throughout their navy, air force and paramilitary branches.  All three branches are very well rounded, but many feel their navy is bar far their strongest branch.  France’s defense budget comes in just over $58 billion.  Despite this impressive budget, it still has the smallest number of aircraft and helicopters than any other country on this list.

4.  India

India has a more advanced Air Force and very-well trained Special Forces.  They have four branches of military and also additional paramilitary units.  Their active military India's militaryhas more than 1.3 million members.  India has an additional 2.1 million in reserves and their paramilitary has 1.3 million members.  In all, India has more than 4.7 million total members.

Despite their large number of service members, India’s aircraft and helicopter and tank and armored vehicle totals put them only in the center of the list of countries listed here and they do have the smallest naval craft fleet.  Some estimates of nuclear warheads in India’s possession go as high as 80.


3.  Russia

This former superpower still has a large amount of equipment in its military inventory.  They have well over 1.2 million active military members and an additional 750,000 in Russian Militarythe reserve.  Their paramilitary total comes in at around 5,000.  The total military budget for Russia is in excess of $64 billion.  Only two countries have a higher military budget than Russia – the United States and China.

The current known Russian force was first founded in 1992, but Russia’s military history dates back to as early as 863.  Between the ages of 18 and 27, all male Russians are drafted into the country’s service for a period of 12 months.  A few exceptions, such as being a student or the parent of two or more children, serve as exemptions to this otherwise steadfast rule.

Russia is known to have the largest number of nuclear warheads on hand, but most of them are not active.

2.  China

Founded in 1927, the People’s Liberation Army of China has more than 2.3 million China's militaryactive service members in its military making it the largest active force in the world. With a reserve of 800,00 and a paramilitary of 1.5 million, in all, China has more than 4.5 million military members.   China’s defense budget of $129 billion is continually increasing each year by an average of 12 to 15%.  This total makes it the second largest defense budget in the world – second only to the United States.  China is believed to house as many as 240 nuclear warheads.

1.  United States

The US military has history dating back to 1775 when it first formed forces (Continental Army) to fight in the Revolutionary War.  The US Army has been involved in every major world war as well as the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism.

United States militaryThe defense budget for the United States is more than the combined totals of the previous nine countries coming in at over $689 billion.  The US has just over 1.4 million active military members, another 1.4 million reserve members and 11,000 in its paramilitary.  The US ranks second behind Russia in the total number of warheads, but it does have the largest number of active warheads.  The United States leads in the overall aircraft and helicopters – 21,000 – but is just barely ahead of China with its total of tanks and armored vehicles.  The United States also has an impressive 12 aircraft carriers in its fleet.

This list of today’s top ten armies (military powers) in the world, certainly sheds light on the overall power of these nations given their impressive numbers in members, equipment and budget.


MASH Field Hospital Diorama at AFHM

In this section of the Armed Forces History Museum, you will discover a recreated US Army MASH field hospital.  The diorama is a fully equipped surgical operating tent manned by a surgeon appropriately dressed holding original medical instruments.  Another unique addition to this display is an M21 ambulance which has been fully restored and – as every other piece is in the museum – is fully operational.  In the back of the ambulance lie three wounded soldiers waiting to be treated.  Note, these soldiers are fully equipped and presented as they would have been when they left the battlefield for transport to the aid station.  In addition, this diorama houses a large display case featuring an assortment of authentic instruments, bandages and other field gear.

A Brief Look at the MASH Units in the Korean War

First established in 1945 by Dr. Michael Debakey, these mobile units were fully self-contained, working medical hospitals.  The first deployment of a MASH unit occurred during the Korean War.  The use of the MASH units allowed experienced medical personnel to remain closer to the front, which would minimize transport time of the wounded.   Soldiers were trained to administer on site whatever first aid they could and then they soldier(s) would be sent to a battalion aid station to assist with stabilizing the soldier before transporting to the MASH Medical Unit for more extensive treatment.  This greatly increased the wounded soldiers chances for survival – some estimates say as high as 97% – once treatment was received at a MASH unit.

MASH units continued to operate into the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  By 1997 though, the final MASH unit in South Korea was disbanded and worldwide, the last deactivation of a MASH unit occurred in Febraury, 2006.  Just prior to the deactivation, the unit was sent to Pakistan to assist with the relief operations after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.  While here, the US State Department purchased all the tents and medical supplies of this MASH unit and donated the entire unit to the Pakistani military.  The donation was estimated at a value over $4.5 million.

Interesting Facts About the Korean War

The Armed Forces History Museum has a number of dioramas in its Korean War Gallery.  They include the Inchon Landing, MASH and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir to name a few. The museum also has a fully restored, fully operational M47 Patton Tank and an M41 Walker Bulldog Tank. Below is a list of interesting facts about the Korean War: The war started on 25 June 1950 after 75,000 N. Korean soldiers crossed over the 38th parallel in an attempt to impose communism on S. Korea. The war lasted from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.  Over 7,000 US soldiers are still missing in action as a result of this war The Korean War resulted in close to 5 million dead, missing in action or wounded.  It is estimated that half of them were civilians. Peace negotiations after the war were fairly uncertain, which resulted in Congress extending the official ending of the war from its actual date – July 27, 1953, to January 3l, 1955.  This assisted with extending benefit eligibility for soldiers. In March of 2013, N. Korea declared the armistice that ended the war in 1953 invalid Though combatants signed a cease-fire to the conflict, there is no treaty or official ending of the war No formal declaration of war was ever declared by the United States.  President Truman never asked Congress. A total of 6.8 million American men and women served in the US military during the Korean conflict.  The United States suffered 54,200 casualties during the hostilities, of which 33,700 were battle related.

The Korean War Inchon Landing

At the Armed Forces History Museum, the landing at Inchon Korea by the 1st US Marine division was an outstanding and incredible feat and risk taken by General MacArthur.   This diorama, with the LST features a platoon of US marines in full gear.  The platoon was led by Lt. Baldomero Lopez, who in this diorama is mounting the ladder and going over the top of the 40 foot high wall.  Shortly after climbing over the wall, Lt. Lopez heroically gave his life as he rolled onto a grenade to save his platoon.  This outstanding and courageous young officer was from Tampa, FL and received the Medal of Honor posthumously.

In memory of Lt. Lopez, his family generously donated Lt. Lopez’s uniforms and other pieces of memorabilia, including his uniform the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.  These rare pieces of military memorabilia are an outstanding example of continuing support for the museum by the public.

Also on display in this area is a BAE 40mm anti-aircraft gun being towed by a WC51 Weapons Carrier.  Both pieces are original and in excellent operating condition.

A Brief Review of the Inchon Landing

A battle of the Korean War, the Battle of Inchon (or the Inchon Landing) was an amphibious invasion and the turning point of the war in favor of the United Nations.  Over 75,000 troops, along with 261 naval vessels, took part in this invasion, which – in just two weeks – led to the recapture of Seoul, the capital of South Korea.  Gaining control of Seoul meant the NKPA (North Korean People’s Army) were somewhat severed from their supply lines in South Korea.  The Battle of Inchon also ended a string of victories that had recently been experienced by the NKPA.

Ground forces that took part in this invasion included the U.S. Marines, who were being commanded by the US Army’s General Douglas MacArthur.  This type of amphibious assault was the result of General MacArthur’s own vision.  Due to extenuating circumstances of the war, MacArthur felt it was crucial to not only make such a decisive move, but the move itself must be executed behind enemy lines.  Previous assault plans involving other areas failed prior to choosing Inchon.  MacArthur felt the element of surprise would be to his advantage as the enemy would not be expecting an invasion in such a heavily defended area.

Within a few days of relinquishing resistance, the North Koreans took note of their error and countered sending T-34 tanks to the beach unsupported by infantry troops.  However, an F4U strike force discovered the tanks and two sets of F4U Corsair’s bombed these tanks.  The tanks were heavily damaged as a result of this assault with the U.S. losing only one plane.  This attack was quickly followed by M26 Pershing tanks which were able to destroy the balance of the North Korean armored division, clearing the path to capturing Inchon.

U.S. Army’s Youngest General – Mark W. Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Wayne Clark in 1943

U.S. Army’s youngest General, Mark W. Clark, is thought by many to be one of the best U.S. Generals of World War II.  His service career started in April of 1917 as a graduate of West Point Academy.  He was appointed as a 2nd lieutenant of Infantry but rose quickly in rank with the rapid escalation of the United States involvement in WWI.    By August of that same year, he was already a captain.

More Promotions for Clark

During WWI, Clark served in France with the US 11th Infantry.  As a result of the serious shrapnel wounds he received, he was transferred General Staff Headquarters of the First US Army and then eventually began serving with the Third Army in Germany.

Following World War I, General Marshall took note of Clark’s capabilities.  From 1921 – 24, Clark served in the office of the Secretary of War as an aide.  The following year (1925), he finished his professional officer’s course at the Infantry School.  From there, Clark began serving as a staff officer with the 30th Infantry in San Francisco.  He then went to the Indiana National Guard where he served as a training instructor.  It was during this time he received a promotion to Major (January, 1933).

Duties from 1935 through 1940

  • 1935-36:  Deputy commander of Civilian Conservation Corps in Omaha, NE
  • 1935:  Tour at Command and General Staff School
  • 1937:  Tour at Army War College
  • 1940:  Chosen to instruct at Army War College

While at the Army War College, Clark was promoted to lieutenant colonel.  In August of 1941, Clark received a two grade promotion to brigadier general.  As the US Army was gearing up for possible entry into WWII, Brigadier General Clark served as Assistant Chief of Staff at General Headquarters for the US Army located in Washington, DC.

Clark in WWII

Clark made significant advances during the early stages of World War II:

  • January, 1942:  Served as Deputy Chief of Staff Army Ground Forces
  • May, 1942:  Chief of Staff Army Ground Forces
  • June, 1942:  Sent to England as command general of II Corps
  • July, 1942:  Became Commanding General – Army Forces European Theater of Operations
  • August 1942:  Deputy commander in chief of Allied Forces in N. African Theater  

Clark was involved in the planning and directing of Operation Torch – the invasion plan for North Africa.  He was taken into N. Africa by a British submarine – the Seraph.  He arrived several weeks prior to the invasion in an effort to negotiate the surrender and ask for the cooperation of the Vichy French, which took place in October of 1942.

In November of 1942, shortly after the conclusion of the negotiations, Clark received a promotion to lieutenant general.  He was eventually made commanding general of the newly formed overseas field army – the US Fifth Army.  His task was to train the unit for

Clark on USS Ancon - landings at Salerno, Italy - September 1943

Clark on USS Ancon

an assault on Italy.  The invasion was scheduled for September of 1943 and known as ‘Operation Avalanche’.  However, it was reported by some British historians that Clark almost failed when he landed at Salerno, citing poor planning on his part.

Also in question was his bombing of the Abbey of Monte Cassino in February of 1944.  Though Clark gave the order, it was in fact based on direct orders he received from his superiors.    During the Battle of the Winter Line, Clark’s conduct of operation once again came under scrutiny based on evidence which suggested he was motivated by the fame that would most certainly result from entering Rome as a ‘conqueror’.

Though Rome was liberated, it resulted in Clark failing to exploit a gap in German positions, which allowed a large number of German forces to escape and strengthen the area that was to become known as the Gothic Line.   Though thanked by Pope Pius XII, others felt Clark’s action were best described as irresponsible and insubordinate.

Clark:  1944 – 1947

In December of 1944, Clark was given command of the Allied ground troops stationed in Italy.  They were given the name – 15th Army Group.  And in March of 1945, Clark received his promotion to General.  As the war neared an end, Clark found himself as Commander of Allied Forces in Italy and eventually US High Commissioner of Austria.  In 1947, Clark would serve as deputy to the US Secretary of State.  He assisted in negotiating the Austrian Treaty and upon returning home in June of 1947, he took command of the Sixth Army, whose headquarters were in San Francisco.  Two years later, Clark became chief of Army Field Forces.

 Later Years

In May of 1952, Clark succeeded General Ridgway as commander of the United Nations Command.  After retiring from the US Army, he served as president of the prestigious military college – the Citadel – from 1954 to 1965.  Clark’s military career spanned 24 years, during which time he rose through the ranks rapidly.  Some feel it was due in part to his association with General George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower.

Along with his impressive rank at such a young age, Clark accumulated a number of awards and decorations including the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, WWI and WWII Victory Medals and the Korean Service Medal, just to name a few.

Though some of his military career may be considered controversial, no doubt, General Clark, the youngest U.S. Army General, and his service left an indelible mark on the history of the United States military.

Korean War and Rosie’s Bar

Actually known as Rose’s Bar, this popular watering hole in Seoul Korea was made famous during the Korean War. The bar became a household word during the television series MASH. This diorama at Armed Forces History Museum is accompanied by audio and features Rose behind the bar serving a soldier who stops by for a drink and a little rest and relaxation. The sign outside the bar is a replica of the sign that hung outside this bar in Seoul, Korea. A brief write up of the history of the bar is mounted at the entrance to the diorama.

A Brief Look at Rosie’s Bar

Photo taken by Stan Malcolm photo, 1972

Rosie’s Bar was a local watering hole in Seoul, Korea for US soldiers and other US troops in the area. Located down an alley just outside Camp Mosier, the area was a thriving district for local nightclubs during the Korean War. Once the American troops were pulled out, however, the area reverted back to being mainly a residential area. Land development in the area later became difficult, which saved Rosie’s Bar from being demolished. Rosie’s Bar (which was actually titled Rose’s Bar) became an American household icon through the television series MASH. Had it not been for this exposure, Rose’s Bar would have probably just become a distant memory.

WWII M4 Sherman Tank

The M4 Sherman Tank was the true work horse of the American Forces during WWII. The origin of the Tank came from the bloody battles toward the end of WWI.  Tanks during that time were slow, had limited mobility, and were not properly used on the battlefield.  Most military experts agreed after the war that the Tank would have a future.  Much advancement in technology came about between WWI and WWII and when war came to the shores of the United States on December 7, 1941. That’s when an iconic tank emerged, the M4 Sherman Tank.

During WWII the primary battle Tank was the M4 Sherman Tank.  The M4 was named after the great Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, who drove his Army deep into the south all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.  Between the years of 1940 to 1945 the United States produced over 50,000 Sherman Tanks.  Initially they were produced by the Lima Locomotive works, but as the war progressed, nearly a dozen companies, such as Detroit Tank, Pacific Car and Foundry Company produced the many variants of the Sherman Tank. Its primary gun was the 75 mm which had a muzzle velocity of 1,850 feet per second. After 1942 more were outfitted with 76 mm gun.  It had other weapons to assist in its missions, such as Browning 50 and 30 caliber machine guns.  It had a crew of five, but in most situations the crew usually consisted of four, led by an NCO.  At the time the armor on the M4 was the thickest of any American Tank which ranged between three inches to less than two, depending on the different areas of the vehicle.

The Sherman’s maximum speed was between 24 to 26 miles per hour.  The M4’s heart truly was its powerful Continental R-975 motor, which was used by numerous armored vehicles of WWII. Originally, it was a nine cylinder engine that was air cooled with over 400 horse power. Later on it was improved to produce over 470 horse power by the classic Chrysler A 57 multibank L-Head. General George S. Patton baptized this great Tank in the battlefields of North Africa starting off with “Operation Torch” in the North African Country of Morocco.  At first, the M4 did well against Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s German Panzer IV tank, but later as the war progressed, it had more difficulty against the powerful German Panther and Tiger Tanks. This led to the rapid advancement of the primary gun being switched to the 76mm.  After the June 6, 1944 landings in Normandy, all Sherman’s that were produced had the 76mm. The upgrades, however, only made it capable of defeating a Tiger or Panther at close range.

The Great Success of this tank was mainly because of its high numbers of production and the fine training of its crews who fought with it in the European and Pacific Theaters.  The men who fought with this tank gave it its great history.  After WWII the M4 remained in service with United States well into the Korean War and shortly afterward into the late 1950s.  It was replaced by the Patton Series Tanks, who saw service during the Vietnam War and beyond. The Sherman saw service with many other military units throughout the world well into the 1970’s.  In the world of militaria, the M4 Sherman tank is one of the most sought out tanks in the world. It is truly an American Classic.