March 30 – April 05 2020 /Week in History/

March 30 – April 05 2020 /Week in History/

A Chinese man who lived on a raft for 133 days, The collision of two aircraft, Liberation of Gdansk and The start of construction of a ship that cannot be sunk. What else interesting happened this week? Read the new Week in History.

A new article, “A Week in History,” is published every Sunday at exactly 19:00 London time

30 March

1945 – German troops knocked out of Gdansk (Poland)

Soviet mortars on Danzig street

Soviet mortars on Danzig street

March 30, 1945, Soviet troops liberated Danzig (now – Gdansk, Poland) – a large naval base on the Baltic coast. The liberation of Danzig was carried out by troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front under the command of USSR Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky during the East Pomeranian strategic operation (February 10 – April 4, 1945). The purpose of the operation was to defeat the German army group Wisla, which occupied the Baltic Sea between the mouths of the Wisla and Oder rivers, in order to avoid an enemy attack on the flank and rear of the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front, preparing for an attack on Berlin.

31 March

1909 – The start of construction of the Titanic passenger liner

The construction process of the Titanic ship

The construction process of the Titanic ship

The construction of Olympic and Titanic took place virtually in parallel, with Olympic‘s keel laid down first on 16 December 1908 and Titanic‘s on 31 March 1909. Both ships took about 26 months to build and followed much the same construction process. They were designed essentially as an enormous floating box girder, with the keel acting as a backbone and the frames of the hull forming the ribs. At the base of the ships, a double bottom 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) deep supported 300 frames, each between 24 inches (61 cm) and 36 inches (91 cm) apart and measuring up to about 66 feet (20 m) long. They terminated at the bridge deck (B Deck) and were covered with steel plates which formed the outer skin of the ships.

The 2,000 hull plates were single pieces of rolled steel plate, mostly up to 6 feet (1.8 m) wide and 30 feet (9.1 m) long and weighing between 2.5 and 3 tons. Their thickness varied from 1 inch (2.5 cm) to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). The plates were laid in a clinkered (overlapping) fashion from the keel to the bilge. Above that point they were laid in the “in and out” fashion, where strake plating was applied in bands (the “in strakes”) with the gaps covered by the “out strakes”, overlapping on the edges. Commercial oxy-fuel and electric arc welding methods, ubiquitous in fabrication today, were still in their infancy; like most other iron and steel structures of the era, the hull was held together with over three million iron and steel rivets, which by themselves weighed over 1,200 tons.

They were fitted using hydraulic machines or were hammered in by hand. In the 1990s some material scientists concluded that the steel plate used for the ship was subject to being especially brittle when cold, and that this brittleness exacerbated the impact damage and hastened the sinking. It is believed that, by the standards of the time, the steel plate’s quality was good, not faulty, but that it was inferior to what would be used for shipbuilding purposes in later decades, owing to advances in the metallurgy of steelmaking. As for the rivets, considerable emphasis has also been placed on their quality and strength.

01 April

1976 – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple Computer Company

1976 - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple Computer Company

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple

The history of Apple began in the garage, like many other American startups. Its founders were two friends: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Friends began to assemble computers and sell them. After several dozen of them were sold, they formalized their business by creating Apple Computer, Inc. This happened on April 1, 1976.

Until 2007, the company bore its original name. Since 2007, “Computer” has been removed, as the company began to work not only in the field of computers and software, but also home appliances.

02 April

1987 – The collision of two Ilyushin Il-76 over the Sivash Bay

1987 - The collision of two IL-76 over the Sivash Bay


At night, in good weather conditions, a group of three Ilyushin IL-76s (NATO reporting name: Candid)) of the 369th military transport air regiment flew from Dzhankoy air base:

After takeoff, the planes began to gather to practice the execution of the battle order “snake formation”. To do this, it was necessary to perform a left turn by 90º while rising to 1,200 meters, then accelerate to 450 km / h, fly to the point where the gathering began in a fixed time and then turn 180º. The first plane followed a kilometer to the right of the flight line and at a speed of 455 km / h. After the “collection” command, the crew climbed to an altitude of 1260 meters in 40 seconds, and then at a speed of 460 km / h in 52 seconds, instead of the estimated 57, it rose to an altitude of 1710 meters, instead of the required 1650, after which it began to make a turn to collect. Although the plane flew ahead of the estimated time, the crew did not correct this error and performed a U-turn in 58 seconds, and then it dropped to 1,500 meters.

After the descent, the aircraft accelerated to 480 km / h, when the voice informer “dangerous approach” soon triggered. But the crew did not take any measures. After 14 seconds at 21:02 at an altitude of 1,500 meters, the 679th crashed into the 685th (lead). From the blow, both aircraft exploded and fell into the waters of Sivash. All 16 people in both aircraft (8 crew members each) were killed.

03 April

1933 – The plane first flew over Everest

first plane over Everest

first plane over Everest

On April 1933, a piston aircraft first flew over Everest. In November 1932, a proposal was received from the Geographical Society of Great Britain, asking Westland to use the PV.3 aircraft for an expedition to Everest. For this purpose, the aircraft was modernized by installing a 630 hp Pegasus IS3 engine and making the rear cabin closed. At the same time, G.3 ACAZ civil registration number was issued.

Experienced PV.6, known as “Houston Wallace”, with the civilian designation G-ACBR, in April 1933 made its first flights over the highest mountain in the world – Jomolungma (Everest). For the Himalayan expedition of 1933, it was converted into a high-altitude aerial photography aircraft. A closed cabin for the photographer with opening windows in the floor and ceiling was equipped at the shooting site. The crew cabins were not heated – electricity heated oxygen equipment, cameras and overalls for pilots. The engine was replaced with a special high-altitude “Pegasus IS-3” with a capacity of 650 hp, and to save weight the wheel cowls were removed.

During the first flight on April 3, cloudiness did not allow to take a picture of the peak. But on April 19, the crew returned with several footage. Of course, this flight was more athletic than practical. Much more useful was the systematic survey of the adjacent mountainous regions, which made possible the compilation of their topographic map.

04 April

1949 – NATO’s Birthday

1949 - NATO Birthday

NATO Birthday

It was founded on April 4, 1949 in the United States with the aim of protecting Europe from Soviet influence. Twelve countries took part in the founding of NATO: the USA, Canada, Iceland, Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Portugal. This is a “transatlantic forum” for consultations by the Allied countries on any issues affecting the vital interests of its members, including events that could jeopardize their security. One of the stated goals of NATO is to deter any form of aggression against the territory of any NATO member state or to protect it from the aggression.

Currently, 30 countries are members of NATO. The military expenditures of all NATO members together account for more than 70 percent of global military spending.

05 April

1943 – Off the coast of Brazil, fishermen picked up the English sailor Poon Lim, who was in the ocean on a raft in record time – 133 days

Poon Lim on the raft (he spent 133 days on it)

Poon Lim on the raft (he spent 133 days on it)

November 23, 1942 German submarine U-172 discovered the ship and torpedoed it at a point. According to various estimates and sources, out of 55 crew members 11 sailors managed to escape. One of them was Poon Lim.

Finding that the ship was sinking, Poon Lim put on a life jacket and jumped overboard before the boilers exploded, completing what the torpedo had begun. After spending two hours in the water, he discovered a standard eight-foot liferaft and climbed onto it. On the raft were several cans of cookies, forty liters of drinking water, some chocolate, sugar, several raised fires, a pair of smoke bombs and an electric torch.

The ocean area where Poon Lim was located was not deserted. Different ships found him several times. First, a cargo ship passed by. As Poon Lim later claimed, they saw him on the ship, but did not take him on board because he was Chinese. He was then discovered by a patrol squadron of U.S. Navy aircraft, which also spotted him and dropped a signal buoy, but a storm soon broke out. He also saw several German submarines.



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