A Brief History On December 21, 1936,  the Nazi German concept of a “schnellbomber” (fast bomber) that could outrun most fighter planes took to the air when the prototype Junkers Ju-88 made its first flight, achieving a remarkable (for the time) speed of 360 mph. Digging Deeper Modifications to the requirement for the Ju-88 centered on the insistence of the Nazi regime that the plane be capable of dive bombing instead of merely acting as a level bomber, thereby necessitating greatly strengthening the wings and structure, adding weight to the plane.  The crew was increased to 4, further increasing weight…

A Brief History On December 20, 217 CE, reigning Pope Saint Zephyrinus died, replaced by Callixtus I as his successor.  Not only did “Z” as we will call him have a name that strikes us today as a bit unusual, his actual birth name was Zepheniah. Digging Deeper The names Zephyrinus and Callixtus are just not chosen by new popes often, especially in more recent years, but in the old days such names were probably not so uncommon.  Zephyrinus was Pope from 199 to 217, and was considered a martyr even though he did not die in defense of the…

A Brief History On December 19, 1941, in one of the most daring raids of World War II Italian Navy divers snuck into Alexandria harbor and heavily damaged 2 British battleships. Digging Deeper The Italian divers rode 3 torpedoes modified to serve as mini-submarines past the harbor’s defenses when the gates were opened to allow British destroyers to enter the harbor.  The mini-subs, called “pigs” by the Italians, had been ferried to the harbor by the Regia Marina submarine, Scerie.  Each of these manned torpedoes had a 2 man crew, equipped with magnetic limpet mines to be placed on the…

A Brief History On December 18, 1898, French race car driver Gaston de Chassaloup-Laubat set the first recognized World Record for Land Speed at an unimpressive 63.13 kilometers per hour (39.25 mph).  (Note: For Land Speed Record we are referring to human steered vehicles powered by a motor of some type, and not considering bicycles or horseback riding.) Digging Deeper Gaston was driving a Jeantaud electric car for his record run, and at that time when automobiles were in their infancy it was not yet clear which means of propulsion would become preeminent, whether gasoline, electric, steam or diesel powered…

A Brief History On December 17, 497 BC, the Romans celebrated their Pagan holiday, Saturnalia, a celebration honoring their god of agriculture (and a bunch of other things) with partying and sacrifice.  Gift giving, feasts, partying and a carnival atmosphere surrounded Saturnalia. Digging Deeper Celebrations and holidays around the time of the Winter Solstice (December 21 on our calendar) are common throughout the ancient and modern world.  Nowadays we have Christmas for Christians, a date that really has nothing to do with the birth of Christ but is believed by many to be chosen to compete with pagan and Jewish…

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