Red Air Force and Navy 1939

Polikarpov I-16 Rata

Russian Air Force Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s the Soviet Government made enormous efforts to build up a large modern air force, but the difficulties in finding suitable designs and the machines and materials to mass produce aircraft were enormous.… learn more

Red Army 1939

Russian infantry with BT-7 tank

Strength and organization of the Russian Armed Forces in 1939 During 1939-40, the Red Army were undergoing a period of transition. New weapons and tactical ideas were being developed, but misguided and often stultifying central control meant that there was… learn more

Red Air Force and Navy 1941-1942

MiG-3 fighters over Leningrad

Russian Air Force 1942 The enforced lull in air operations during the winter period allowed the Red Air Force to recover from the first shocks. Training was improved and the quality of the aircrews rose generally through direct combat experience.… learn more

Red Army 1942

Russian infantry assault winter 1941-42

Strength and Organization of the Russian Armed Forces On 5 December 1941, in temperatures of minus 30 degrees centigrade, the Red Army launched its counter-offensive with 720,000 men, 670 tanks (205 of which were heavy KV-1 and medium T-34 models),… learn more

Polish Armed Forces in Exile

Polish troops march through an English town during the summer of 1940

POLISH ARMY IN EXILE Many Polish soldiers, singly or in small groups, had evaded capture or escaped internment after the defeat in 1939, and made their way to France through the Baltic countries in the north, and through Hungary, Romania,… learn more

Czech National Army in Exile

Czech soldier on exercise in Britain

CZECHOSLOVAK ARMY Before 1938, the 1,500,000 strong Czech Army was one of the largest in Europe. After the Munich Agreement, Czech soldiers began to leave their homeland, and the first Czech units abroad were formed in Poland. The nucleus of… learn more

French Armed Forces 1939

French soldiers moving a heavy artillery gun

Strength and organization of the Army divisions and l’Army de l’Air of France in September 1939 France emerged from World War One with considerable military prestige, but the French Forces and indeed the whole nation were exhausted. After the experiences… learn more

Polish Armed Forces

Polish soldiers at a pre-war torchlit review.

Strength and organization of the Army divisions, tank inventory, Air Force and Navy of Poland in September 1939 The Polish Forces came into existence after World War One , and, like all the armies of the newly independent states which… learn more

RAF Squadrons in September 1939

Gloster Gladiator launching

Aircrafts and bases of the Royal Air Force By the outbreak of World War Two, most RAF squadrons had modern equipment, the breathing space given by the Munich agreement having given time for the introduction of vital Hurricanes and Spitfires… learn more

Royal Air Force on Eagle Day

Hurricane pilots 'scramble' on Eagle Day.

Aircrafts and bases of the RAF squadrons in August 1940 The first phase of the German plan for the invasion of England was to gain control of the air and so during the months of July and August 1940 the… learn more

RAF Squadrons 1942

Stirling bomber of the RAF Bomber Command

  Aircrafts and bases of the Royal Air Force in June 1942 By July 1941 the strength of Bomber Command stood at 45 RAF squadrons with a theoretical deployment of 1,000 aircraft. In practice, only 37 squadrons could be considered… learn more

RAF Squadrons in May 1940

A trio of Bristol Blenheim IV bombers.

Aircrafts and bases of the Royal Air Force on May 10, 1940 In January 1940 it was decided to unite the Air Component and the Advanced Air Striking Force under the command of the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief British Air Forces… learn more

British and Empire Armies 1939

Troops of the 13/18th Royal Hussars

British Army in September 1939 On 2 September 1939, the day before England declared war on Germany, a small military advance party was flown to France, and soon after this the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) began crossing the Channel. By… learn more

British Army in the Mediterranean 1940

Exercise of light Vickers Mark IIA tanks

British and Empire Armies in the Mediterranean The Mediterranean theatre was an area of prime importance to Britain. She had many interests there and the Suez canal was the most important artery of the Empire. In August 1939 the land… learn more

British Army in Western Europe 1940

King George VI inspects men of the Home Guard

British Army and Home Guard in Western Europe and Britain For the first six months little military action took place at the Western Front except a minor, half-hearted French offensive in the Saar region. The BEF trained, consolidated its position,… learn more

British Army 1942

Vickers heavy MG about to open fire with the 1th South African Division of the Eight Army.

Strength and Organization of the Armies of the British Empire in the Middle East and Europe From late 1941 until the summer of 1942, the British 8th Army in North Africa fought a series of engagements which revealed serious deficiencies… learn more

Danish Armed Forces

crew of a Danish anti-aircraft gun

Strength and organization of the Army, Air Force and Navy of Denmark The Danish Defence Act of 1937 set up a peacetime establishment of two divisions, an independent anti-aircraft and engineer regiment, an army air force, the Bornholm garrison, a… learn more

Chinese Air Force, Fleet, Communist Forces

Pilots of the Chinese Flying Tigers are running to their planes.

Chinese Air Force During the 1930s, the Chinese Air Force was composed largely of foreign volunteers, at first Americans but later Italians. By 1937 the strength of the Air Force stood at 500 aircraft, but few of these were serviceable,… learn more

Chinese Nationalist Army

Chiang Kai-sheks's German-trained and equipped Chinese soldiers.

The seizure of Mukden on 19 September 1931 marked the beginning of overt Japanese aggression against China, and from 1937 there was open war. The disorganised Chinese forces were no match on the battlefield for the Japanese armies, but determined… learn more

Belgian Armed Forces

Belgian soldiers take a rest by the roadside

Belgian Army In 1914 neutral Belgium had been suddenly attacked by the German Army and had experienced four years of trench warfare. After the German occupation of the Rhineland in 1936 the country was again jolted into awareness of impending… learn more