Thursday, June 21, 2012

Church History, part 1

There're a lot of references to the church in our culture, but most people don't get where they come from, so I'm doing some posts on church history. It's going to start with the Apostles and the gospels. I'm going to call the apostles who wrote books of the Bible "saint" because the books are sometimes called the same thing as the author's name and it gets confusing really easily. The gospels are starting out because they give accounts of what happened during Jesus' life, which is important to know about. Also, I'm only going to write about the apostles who wrote books of the Bible right now, but might do the others later. (Polycarp is talked about at the bottom because he's a pretty neat person who was taught by an apostle. He's a really early Christian.)


The gospel of Matthew was written pretty recently after Jesus' death, rising, and going up into heaven. It was written from about the year 40. Jesus' crucifixion was about the year 30-34. It's the first of the four gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. Matthew goes from Jesus' birth to His rising back into heaven. It also is the first book in the New Testament.

When it was written, the Christians were being persecuted in Jerusalem and some left. They had been hearing St. Matthew teach, but since he was in Jerusalem and they weren't, they needed some way of studying the Bible. So, St. Matthew wrote down what he had been teaching and circulated the writings.

An early manuscript from the Bible. It shows 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9 and is one of the oldest New Testament papyrus manuscripts.

St. Matthew was one of the twelve apostles. He was a tax collector before following Jesus. Tax collectors were generally disliked because they could take however much money from people as they wanted. They were hired by bidding for an amount of money they'd collect and then would have to collect that money and give it to the government. St. Matthew was probably one of the more educated apostles because he'd have to know math, Arameic, Greek, rhetoric, and had to be comfortable in different cultures. He was born in Galilee and died near Hierapolis or Ethiopia.

The gospel of Mark was written around the year 70. It's the second of the gospels. St. Mark wrote about Jesus' baptism through the Resurrection. Also, on Easter day when the entire account of the crucifixion and Resurrection is read, Mark's account is by far the longest. (And just for a nerdy thing that probably won't ever come in useful, in Mark 14:50-52, that was most likely St. Mark.)

St. Mark is Barnabas' cousin. (Barnabas shows up in Acts during the conflict between St. Mark, Barnabas, and St. Paul over a mission's trip.) When Jesus said that His body and blood were food and drink, lots of the disciples left, and St. Mark went with them. St. Peter talked to him, though, and St. Mark came back. He founded the church in Africa. Some of the liturgy the church there uses goes all the way back to him.

The gospel of Luke is the third gospel. It goes from Jesus' birth all the way to His Resurrection. Some of the parables are only found in Luke (like the one about the good Samaritan). It was probably written after Mark was and from about 75-84 (people say that it was written between 75-100, but St. Luke died near 84, so couldn't have written it after he died). Luke is the gospel with the most literary Greek.

St. Luke was a physician who lived in Antioch in Syria. He wrote Luke and Acts. He was probably an eyewitness of Jesus' life because he uses first person in his writings.

The gospel of John was written around 90 A.D. It begins with John the Baptist affirming Jesus and ends with the Resurrection. The very first verse in John uses a vague word. The English is "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John uses a confusing Greek word, logos, which everybody defines differently. Logos is used in John to describe God.

St. John is the brother of James (they're the sons of Zebedee). He lived longer than any of the other apostles and was the only other one other than Judas Iscariot who wasn't martyred. (Judas Iscariot killed himself after betraying Jesus.) He saw the Transfiguration. St. John taught Polycarp, who was an early martyr.

(Polycarp was arrested, but when the people came to arrest him, he got some food for them and prayed while they ate. He was put into a gladiator ring and the lions didn't attack him. Then, he was burned at the stake and the fire didn't burn him like fire burns people at the stake. It baked him like bread. Then he was stabbed. To Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican churches he's a saint, too.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WWII Tank comparisons

Greetings everyone!

It's been a while since "Kate" or I have posted anything, and I feel that you may wish to have the pleasure of reading another post. :D

I've been doing quite a bit of reading, lately, and could certainly pontificate about Montgomery or Rommel quite a bit.

In fact, it now seems to me that Rommel wasn't as great a general as he is typically chalked up to be by historians. They herald him as "The greatest general Germany has ever seen." Well, that would only be partly true, because he wasn't really a great all around general. Oh, don't get me wrong, he appreciated the might of great, concentrated Panzer rushes, but he had very little concept of logistics, allied cohesion, staff work etc. In fact, if it weren't for British ineptitude, Auchinleck, Ritchie, Wavell etc. all had the opportunity to destroy the Africa Korps far before Montgomery after the Second Battle of El Alamein from the 23rd October to the 4th of November, 1942. When matched by a man who understood proper cohesion of armour and infantry, Rommel was sent reeling - and was never again granted the initiative that he so desired (and that Auchinleck and the others granted him).

 But anyway, I've selected instead to write about the comparisons of Western armour in WWII. We shall see how badly the Allies were outgunned throughout the latter years of the war by Germany. I will do it in segments, considering the number of tanks used.

Early War:

In 1939 and 1940, the British boasted the following tanks:

Matilda I, armed only with a machine gun and having a top speed of 12.9 km, saw action in France in 1940. The Matilda II, its successor, was armed only with a 2 pounder cannon and a Besa machine gun. However, its armour was up to 78 mm thick, which meant it could withstand fire from most early German tanks and even antitank guns. The Matilda II could also reach a top speed of 24 km/h.

The Light Tank Mk VI "Vickers" was the most plentiful for the British right into North Africa. "Seven Royal Armoured Corps divisional cavalry regiments, the principal armoured formations of the BEF, were each equipped with twenty-eight Mk VIs.The 1st Armoured Division, elements of which landed in France in April, was equipped with 257 tanks, of which a large number were Mk VIB and Mk VICs. The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, which formed part of the division's 3rd Armoured Brigade, possessed by this time twenty-one Mark VI light tanks" (Wikipedia). The Vickers tank boasted only a heavy Vickers machine gun and a Besa machine gun, though its armour was up to 15 mm thick.

French tanks were typically excellent, but they were widely dispersed, poorly utilized and poorly operated. French tank doctrine suggested that they operate only in support of infantry.

Renault FT-17, was a World War I vintage tank with a 37 mm cannon or a machine gun. Its variants boasted up to 22 mm of armour. It had a top speed of about 8 km/h.

Renault R-35 had a 37 mm L/21 cannon and a 7.5 mm machine gun. It was heavily armoured with 45.7 mm of frontal armour, and it had a top speed of about 20 km/h.

The AMR 35 (Automitrailleuse de Reconnaissance Renault Modèle 35) was a light tank, developed by Renault as a support vehicle for mechanized infantry.

The Hotchkiss 35 and its variants (H-38 and H-39) was a nice tank with a 38 mm, longer cannon that was more capable of puncturing German armour. It had 45 mm armour and a top speed of 36.5 km/h on roads.

The Somua S-35 was undoubtedly France's best tank, and one of the best in the world at the time. It had such heavy armour and good armament to be comparable to even the Pz Kpfw IV, but it had only a one man turret, which was a grave defect and handicapped it effectively. Its armour was up to 55.8 mm wide! It's cannon was a 47 mm SA35 (more than 3lb shell).

And then the Char B-1, which armour was so thick (60 mm frontal armour), that it could never be penetrated by German anti-tank guns (which were only about 37 mm). The Germans could only reliably pierce it with the 8.8 cm anti-aircraft gun. 400 were available to the Army in 1940, but they were not concentrated. The Char B-1 had two cannons and two machine guns (one coaxial and one mounted). The turret cannon was a 47 mm cannon; the second cannon, mounted in the hull, was 75 mm large.

Char variants D1, D2 (Medium tanks) and 2C (another heavy tank) saw action, as well.

Poland had only three reliable tanks: the TK3 tankette, the Renault 35 and the 7TP. 135 7TPs were available in the Polish forces in 1939; while they could easily match German tanks, there simply were not enough of them. There were actually "two variants: a twin turret version and a single turret version. The twin turret version was armed with two 7.92 mm Ckm wz. 30 machine guns The two turrets were not fully traversable, and were therefore not very effective. The single turret version was armed with a modified Bofors 37 mm anti-tank gun 36 (named 37 mm Bofors wz. 37) with a Zeiss telescopic sight and a single Ckm wz. 30 machine gun.



Pz. Kpfw. I: The "Panzer I" was armed only with dual machine guns and had only 5 mm of armour. Compared against most of the Allied tanks of even 1939, this one was vastly inferior. It reached a maximum speed of 37 km/h.

Pz Kpfw II: This light tank "...was the workhorse of the German tank corps during the early years of World War II. Being equipped only with a 20 mm automatic cannon, Germany relied on quantity during their early campaigns. With more than 1000 Pz Kpfw IIs employed in both the Poland, France and North Africa, the Pz Kpfw II was fundamental in the early victories" (Tanks in WWII). Its armour may have gotten up to 30 mm on select tanks. It had a top speed of 40 km/h on roads.

Neubaufahrzeug: Only three were used in Norway. This thing was a heavy tank with dual turrets. The turret cannon was a 75 mm KwK L/24, and the other a 37 mm KwK L/45. It also boasted two machine guns and up to 20 mm of armour. It could reach a speed of 25 km/h.

Pz. Kpfw. 35(t) Skoda was built by Czech factories. If the Czechs had have fought the Germans in 1938, this tank could have crushed German armour. It saw action as late in the war as 1942. It mounted a 37 mm cannon and had up to 25 mm in armour (as well as two machine guns). It was an incredibly reliable tank.

Pz. Kpfw. 38 (t) Praga TNHP-S LT 38: Also a Czech tank, designed by CKD, the Panzer 38(t) was superior to Germany's own tanks of the time. It packed a 38 mm cannon, two machine guns and 25 mm of armour (later up to 50.8 mm).

The Pz Kpfw III started with a 37 mm Kw K (L/45), but eventually upgraded to as much as a 75 mm (though most common throughout 1941 and 1942 was the 50 mm cannon). It's armour ranged from 5–70 mm throughout the war. Its max speed on the road was 40 km/h.

Italian Tanks:

~~ to complete later.