From a narrow slit in the thick steel hide of the British tank a light burst out. The blinding 13-million candlepower light pierced the darkness when a moment later the solid beam of light changed on the command of “Scatter!”
Reaching into the inky night the shaft of light began to strobe. It dazzled and disoriented the enemy who unwisely tried to take aim at its brilliant flicking beam. With the adversary illuminated and confused, the tank rolled through the countryside ready to finish off their foe. Continue reading “Scatter! Britain’s Secret Tank Weapon”
This shows Hollywood stars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford indulging in a cigarette in the 1934 film Chained.
Despite the many health risks associated with smoking tobacco, in the Golden Era, cigarette smoking was a fashion statement that showed the smoker to be a classy person. Indeed, many a student bedroom is adorned with the iconic photograph of Audrey Hepburn with cigarette holder clinched betwixted gloved fingers.
Continue reading “Tobacco’s Golden Era”
Whenever a new technology is introduced, whether on the battlefield or at home, there is always a brief period when inventors, unfamiliar with the new concepts, begin experimenting with designs and plans, trying to push innovation to the limit. While these experiments occasionally produce useful results, the great majority end up on the scrap heap of history.
One such forgotten experiment was the A7V Sturmpanzerwagen, an early German attempt at creating a battle-ready tank. Continue reading “A7V Sturmpanzerwagen”
Throughout World War II, Allied policymakers pondered how to rearrange the world once victory was achieved. Oftentimes their thinking confined itself to the outlines of postwar Europe, but some schemes were more ambitious. Continue reading “New World Order”
On July 28, 1938, at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England, the flagship of the new Cunard White Star Line was launched. In honor of the proud and record-breaking vessel that served Cunard between 1906 and 1934, this ship was christened Mauretania and — like her predecessor — destined to become a favorite among transatlantic travelers because of her speed and luxury.
Continue reading “RMS Mauretania”
You sir, yes you. Take a look at your fine wardrobe and the styles you hold dear. Those of the elegant, refined, understated gentleman. A far cry from the powdered wigs and scented noblemen whose influence, without our Beau, would have dominated the fashions of Europe — and thus the world — for many years longer than they have done.
The 1700s were a time of wealth. On the continent and in Britain, the nobility showed its flare with ever greater demonstrations.
A prime example of this is the decadency of the French royalty in the guise of Louis XVI, who was advertised as such a tyrannical arch-degenerate that it cost him both his crown and his head to a revolutionary mob. (Despite his actual character as probably a fairly decent chap.)
From the gold-leaf extravagance of the Palace of Versailles to the towering powdered wigs of lords and ladies, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were times of showing off, but this had always been the case. Ancient kings and emperors had worn their riches in full display. But the increasing wealth of the eighteenth-century aristocracy was so much flaunted that it was driving an ever-firmer wedge between rulers and their people.
Let us take a closer look at these pre-Brummell styles, before we meet the man himself.
Continue reading “Beau Brummell: The Most Stylish History Maker”
The Venetian Carnival evokes thoughts of a centuries-old tradition of lavish celebration. A seemingly timeless event, with it roots in the thirteenth century, the carnival is known the world over for its elaborate costumes; as a playground for the nobility, the wealthy and the common man alike; a time of celebration, dancing, gambling, intrigue and just plain old craziness of every kind imaginable.
A more perfect backdrop for a steampunk story seems hard to imagine.
Continue reading “The Carnival of Venice”
By the 1920s, the world was still a big place. While nearly every conceivable corner of the Earth had been explored and mapped by now, it was getting there in the fastest or most efficient way that was getting more attention.
Continue reading “The First Motorized Crossing of the Sahara”
It sounds like something out of Jules Verne or The Jetsons, but in 1870 a “pneumatic subway” ran under Broadway in Manhattan.
Continue reading “New York Pneumatic Tube”