A Soviet Myasishchev M-4 Molot (Hammer, in Russian) -
NATO code-name ‘Bison’ - refueling in mid-air, circa early 1960s. First flying in 1953, like their American peer the B-52, traces of Second World War lineage persisted in the use of defensive turrets.
After World War II it was believed that the United States had enough M1 Garand rifles in armory to last several generations. During the Korean War, the government took many of those Garands out of storage and refurbished them for military issue. It was decided that new Garands needed to be produced to keep up with demand, as the United States not only needed them to arm the US military, but was arming various Cold War allies around the world. Thus in 1953 the government contracted Harrington & Richardson as well as International Harvester to produce new M1 Garands.
The choice of International Harvester was unusual, as the company was known for producing tractors, construction equipment, agriculture equipment, and home consumer goods. The reason for contracting International Harvester was very specific. Most US arms production occurred on the East Coast. If the worst case Cold War scenario occurred, an armed nuclear conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, it was expected that urban and industrial centers would be heavily hit. International Harvester’s plant was located in Evansville, Indiana, and thus might be spared from destruction. Production of the International Harvester M1 Garand began in 1953 and lasted until 1956, when Whirlpool bought out their Evansville plant. 337,623 were produced.
On this day in 1953, Josip Broz Tito was inaugurated as the first President of Yugoslavia. Born as Josip Broz to a poor Croatian family, he served in World War One, and was introduced to communism while in a Russian prisoner of war camp. The ideology struck a chord with the young Croat, and Broz became involved in the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Once he returned to Croatia (now part of the new Yugoslavia), he promptly joined the newly created Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which was driven underground by a government crackdown. It was soon after his release from prison in 1934 that he began using the name Tito for underground party work. In 1939, he became the party’s Secretary-General, largely due to support for him in Moscow. During World War Two, and after the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia began in 1941, Tito became leader of the Partisan resistance movement in the country. The Partisan units took the offensive against the Axis forces, led by Nazi Germany, and aimed to establish communist communities; the movement was one of the most effective resistance efforts during the war. After the war, Tito emerged as the leader of a united, Communist, Yugoslav republic. The monarchy was abolished in 1945, thus beginning a dictatorship that would last over 25 years. Tito formally became president at a time when his government was cut off from the Soviet Union after a break with Stalin, and was increasingly aligning with the West. He eventually chose a course of non-alignment, and in this joined with the Indian, Egyptian, and Indonesian governments during the Cold War. Tito ruled Yugoslavia until his death on May 4th, 1980. Without Tito as a unifying presence, tensions soon arose among the Yugoslav nations, and the country descended into civil war in the early 1990s, which resulted in the breakup of the country.
Designed in 1949 by the American Engineer Robert Schwarz, the M65 “Atomic Annie” was inspired by German railway guns used during World War II. The M65 however, was designed to deliver a nuclear payload to its target. The gun and carriage itself weighed around 85 tons, was manned by a crew of 5-7, and was transported by two specially designed towing tractors. At 280mm in caliber and capable of firing a projectile over 20 miles, the gun was certainly powerful enough as a conventional weapon, but the Atomic Annie was certainly no conventional weapon. In 1953 it was tested for the first time at the Nevada Test Site, where it fired a 15 kiloton nuclear warhead, creating a blast similar in size to the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After the successful test, 20 M65 cannons were produced for the US Army and deployed in Europe and Korea. They were almost always in constant motion so the Soviets never knew where they were and could not target them. While an interesting weapon, the Atomic Annie suffered from limited range, especially after the development of ballistic missiles which could strike a target from thousands of miles away. The last M65 Atomic Cannon was retired in 1963. Today only 8 survive, and are displayed in museums across the country.
Oveta Culp Hobby (1905-1995) was the first director of the Women’s Army Corps, created
during World War II to fill the gaps left by the shortage of men. For her
service within the organization, she was rewarded with the Distinguished
Service Medal, the first woman ever to receive this honour.
In 1953, she became the
first secretary of the newly-created US Department of Health, Education, and
Welfare. Additionally, she was an accomplished journalist, becoming the
executive vice president and later the publisher of the Houston Post.
Moretti 750 Gran Sport Berlinetta, 1953, by Michelotti. Moretti began business in 1925 making motor cycles and turned to car production after the second world war. Only ten 750 Berlinetta’s were produced, some with Michelotti coachwork, others by Zagato. A car was entered in the Mille Miglia road race by the women’s team of Lise Renauld and Régine Gordine (pictured above) but alas failed to finish, the car was not in as winning form as their outfits
Rest in peace, Mary of Teck. Betrothed to Prince Albert before he died, subsequently married to his brother, George (who would become King George V), mother of Edward VIII (the Wallis Simpson one) and George VI, Queen Mary lived through the Great War as Queen Consort, the death of her husband in 1936, the abdication of her eldest son from the throne in 1937, World War II as Queen Mother, and the deaths of three of her sons (Prince John, Prince George, and King George VI). In the words of Sir Henry Channon, she was “magnificent, humorous, worldly, in fact nearly sublime, though cold and hard. But what a grand Queen.” Her Majesty Queen Mary died on this date in 1953 at the age of 85, just two months before her granddaughter Elizabeth’s coronation.
Stamp details: Top left: Issued in: October 1901 From: St. John’s, Newfoundland MC #65
Issued on: June 19, 1911 From: St. John’s, Newfoundland MC #85
Issued in: 1938 From: St. John’s, Newfoundland MC #235
Bottom left: Issued on: July 16, 1908 From: Ottawa, Canada MC #84
Issued on: May 4, 1935 From: Ottawa, Canada MC #180
Kinuyo Tanaka was born in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan in 1909. She would first appear as an actress in the film A Maid of the Genroku Era (1924) and she quickly became a popular leading lady in Japanese film. She was so popular that a number of the films she starred in would use her name in the title (an example of this is The Kinuyo Story or Kinuyo’s First Love). After World War II, Tanaka split ties with her former studio, deciding to instead go freelance. This made it so she had the choice to only be in the best of Japanese cinema. During this period she would work with filmmakersuch as Mikio Naruse, and Yasujirō Ozu. During this period Tanaka would direct films herself, making her only the second woman in Japan to be a director. Her first film would be Love Letter (1953) a film that would be entered into the Cannes film festival. She would direct five more films through the 1950s, all films that did well. Her acting career would also continue to flourish and in 1975 she would win Best actress at the Berlin Film Festival for her role in Sandakan N° 8. She would pass away from a brain tumor in 1977.
On this day in 1953, the leader of the Soviet Union - Joseph Stalin - died aged 74. The future dictator was born in Georgia in 1878, and his birth name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. In his youth Stalin read works by
Marx and became active in the revolutionary movement against the Russian
Tsar. After the successful 1917 revolution led by the Bolshevik Party, Stalin quickly
rose through the party ranks, becoming general secretary of the Communist Party in 1922. After
the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Stalin established himself as
dictator of the Soviet Union. Under his rule, millions died due to his
forced collectivisation policies and his purges of political rivals
which claimed thousands of lives and sentenced many more to grueling work in the gulags. During World War Two Stalin worked alongside Churchill of the United Kingdom and Roosevelt of the United States as the ‘Big Three’ powers who formed the Allies in their battle against Nazi Germany and her fellow Axis nations. One of Hitler’s greatest mistakes during the war was invading Stalin’s Russia during winter, where the Soviet forces successfully held back the Germans; Russians were also eventually the first to reach Berlin. After the war, Stalin oversaw Soviet attempts to develop a nuclear weapon to rival that used by the United States on Japan - this arms buildup contributed to the escalation of Cold War tensions in the post-war world. In 1953, Stalin died of a stroke, leaving the future of the Soviet Union unclear. He was succeeded as general secretary by Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin’s repressive policies and 'cult of personality’, beginning a process of 'de-Stalinisation’ to move away from the Stalin era.