Tag Archives: military history

The Ships of the Russian Weapons of Victory Series

Originally published October 10, 2016.

Four ship stamps were issued in 2013 by the Russian Postal Authority to commemorate weapons that helped contribute to the “Russian” victory in WWII.

The first stamp in the set depicts the minesweeper, Mina.
The Mina was built as a fast coastal minesweeper for the Soviet Russian Navy at Sevastopol.   Completed in the same year construction started she was launched on August 20, 1937.
Mina‘s particulars are:
Displacement 410 tons standard, 503 ton full load. Dim. 62.0 x 7.2 x 2.26m (draught); Powered by two 42-BMRN-6 diesel engines producing 2,000 hp; twin shafts; speed 18.5 knots.
Armament 1 – 100mm gun B-24; 1 – 45mm gun 21-K; 3 – 12.7mm MG (Machine Guns); 2 DCR (Depth Charge Racks) (20); 31 mines and sweeps.  The Mina was designed to have a Crew 44
She was delivered to the Russian Navy on August 28, 1938, and served in the Black Sea.  Through the four years of WWII, she sailed 47 000 miles through mine infested waters and was responsible for escorting numerous ships.  Through her service, during the war, she had come under air attack no less than 300 times.  In July 1944 the Mina was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
The next stamp features the patrol boat Metel. This ship was constructed in sections that were shipped via train and sent to the Soviet Far East and assembled at the  Dalzavod Shipyard in Vladivostok.
Metel‘s particlars are:
Displacement 450 tons standard, 530 ton full load, dim. 71.5 x 7.4 x 2.6m. (draught); Powered by Curtiss geared steam turbines, 6,290 hp, speed 24 knots, economical 14 knots; Range by a speed of 14 knots, 1,200 mile.
Armament 2 – 102mm; 3 – 37mm guns; and 3 – 12.7mm MG.; 3 – 450mm torpedo tubes; 2 – mortars; carried 48 mines and 30 depth charges. Fitted out with mine sweeping equipment.  She had a crew compliment of 108.
Throughout WWII the Metel escorted ships through minefields.  During the battle of Chongjin, in Northern Korea  the ship and crew distinguished themselves through expert fire support shooting down enemy aircraft, destroying an armoured train, taking out enemy coastal batteries and searchlight installations, destroying eight concreted fortifications and gun positions, and causing serious damage to an enemy landing craft.
64 of the Metel‘s crew were awarded with orders and medals.  Her Captain was conferred with the title “Hero of the Soviet Union”.
The river armoured craft BKA-75 is the next stamp in the set.  She was built at Zelenodolsk and completed in December 1941.
The particulars of the BKA-75 are:
Displacement: 49.75 standard tons, 52.16 tons full load, dim. 25.3 x 4.04 x 0.87m (draught); Powered by engines of 1,800 hp, maximum speed 37.4 km/h, economical speed 23 km/h; Range up to 680 km.
Armament 2 – 76.2mm guns; 2 – 12.7 and 2 – 7.62mm MG. The BKA-75 had a crew 17.
Through out WWII BKA-75 served along side Russian army units and participated in the defence of Stalingrad and worked on the Volga river until September 1943 when she was loaded on a rail car and transported to the Azov Sea.  After suffering serious damage and repairs she joined the Danube Flotilla where she took part in the liberation of: Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria.  She also particpated in the liberation of Belgrade.
The last stamp in this set displays the gunboat Usyskin.  Orinally built as a paddle steamer tug for service on rivers, she was converted to a gun boat in July 1941.
The Usyskin‘s particulars are:
Displacement 400 tons, dim. 56.4 x 17.1 x 1.2m;
One 480 hp steam engine , speed 8.5 knots.
Armament: 2 – 45mm guns; 1 – 7.62mm MG.
The Usyskin participated in the defence of Stalingrad as a unit in the Volga River Flotilla.  In February of 1943, she received the Order of the Red Banner.
In April of 1943, the Usyskin was severely damaged as a result of a mine.  In July 1943, she was converted back to a tug.
References:

The Battle of Shaykan

Originally published September 12, 2016.

Commemorated by Sudan in 1984 the Battle of Saykan was fought between the forces of Egypt and Sudan and was part of the Mahdist War.

 

Also referred to as the Battle of El Obeid it was fought on the plains near the town of El Obeid.

The main commanders of the forces were “Billy” Hicks in charge of the Egyptian forces and Mohammed  Ahmed, the Mahdi commanding the Sudanese forces.

 

At the time it was estimated that the Sudanese forces numbered around 40,000 Sudanese warriors although this number was probably exaggerated.  The Egyptian forces numbered around 11,100. The majority of this force were Egyptian soldiers that were recently released from prison and didn’t have their hearts in the fight.

The Egyptian government had heard that Ahmed and his forces were laying siege to the Egyptian town of El Obeid and decided that he must be captured.  Despite warnings against this plan by Hicks, the operation got underway.

 

While in transit, El Obeid had fallen to the Madhist forces, but the Egyptians continued on to relieve their governor in Darfur. According to Winston Churchill, the Egyptian forces were “perhaps the worst army that has ever marched to war”.

 

 

Through mistake or on purpose the guides leading the Egyptian forces were led astray and soon found themselves surrounded.

At this point, the regulars started to desert and on November 3rd the Sudanese forces began the attack.  The Egyptian forces formed a square and some reports state that they persevered for up to 2 days.

500 of the Egyptian troops surrendered and were later freed, all the officers who were mainly European were killed.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_El_Obeid
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdist_War