It’s Hardcore History.
So my apologies if today’s show sounds a little like you’re joining a conversation that’s
already in progress, but this has happened with me before where I’ll be talking with
someone about something, usually over a long period of time, messaging back and forth or
whatever it might be, and I’ll think to myself, usually a little too late in the game, wow,
you know, should have thought about making this a podcast.
More people than just yours truly might want to hear what’s being said here, and that’s
how today’s show got started.
Just an ongoing discussion that at a certain point you look at it and you go, hmm, well,
I should have started recording a long time ago, but so if it sounds like you’re picking
up the conversation in the middle of it, you might be.
I’ve never been that good in the conversations or the interviews, as you probably know if
you’ve heard me, of really like setting it up and starting at ground zero and building
from a place of no knowledge and eventually getting somewhere in the conversation that’s
interesting, we just go right to the interesting, and I hope we can all, I hope it all makes
sense without having all the background, but that’s what today’s program will be like.
So I had a conversation that was ongoing about, of all things, military aircraft, especially
military aircraft in the Second World War.
At times it got very specific, you know, the P-38, American fighter plane in the Second
But I was having a discussion with Elon Musk and we were talking about the role of engineers
And that’s a famous history, right?
Go back to Archimedes supposedly killed by the Roman soldier when he’s doodling in the
sand and he didn’t want to be interrupted and he’d made all those supposedly, I think
Mythbusters, well, in their own way figured out that some of this stuff probably wouldn’t
work, but you know, they’re not Archimedes either.
But you know, the history of warfare with these engineers creating weapons, and of course
in the modern world, those people are monumentally more important than they were in primitive
Although somebody invented a bow and arrow someday, the early military engineers.
But Mr. Musk and I were talking about this and at a certain point I thought, okay, this
is a pretty good thing to just have a podcast about.
Now my worry was that we were going to get into the minutia of like turbo supercharged
engines and the performance of different aircraft at different altitudes based on the
octane rating in the fuel.
And I’m not saying we didn’t do any of that.
I’m just saying it turned out to be more interesting than I thought it was going to be when we
did get there.
I want to issue a little disclaimer at the outset.
I am the worst person in the world to talk to about engineering.
If there’s any sort of engineering knowledge required in the conversation on my end, I’m
a guy that can’t, you know, hammer a nail into a board, so I’m an idiot.
So if I don’t look like I know what I’m doing here, well, you know, not only that, but if
you wanted to say which of the three branches of service in the 20th century military, you
know, land, sea, and air that I was least confident that I wouldn’t look like an idiot
talking about, it would be aircraft.
So we’re just going to hold on and see if we can keep up with a guy who loves this stuff
and understands it at a level.
I’ll never be able to appreciate.
And just in case his own knowledge wasn’t enough, he brought in one of the best engineers
at SpaceX, Mr. Bill Reilly, to come in and back him up on this stuff.
So one way or another, we should get this stuff right, I would think, with the three
In any case, I hope you enjoyed this discussion with Elon Musk talking about, well, I guess
it started off with him saying that engineers don’t get enough credit in warfare.
And, well, you know, we’ll touch upon a little high-octane fuel and turbo supercharged engines
along the way.
Without further ado, Elon Musk and Mr. Bill Reilly from SpaceX.
So what I thought was, I’ll give the background about how the hell this even, you know, got
started in terms of our conversation.
And then what I thought maybe we could start off with, you know, you had talked a lot about
how this was an engineer’s war.
And I thought to myself that the Second World War, of course, was not the first engineer’s war.
You can go back into history and you can find these moments, the famous, the Romans inventing
the Corvu device to help them win the naval war in the first Punic Wars, all those kind of things.
But those are so rare because of the pace of technological change being so much more slow.
And then you get to something like the Franco-Prussian War, maybe, but certainly in the First World War,
where aircraft development becomes a race, and that if you develop the next new thing,
you might control the skies for the next four or five months until the other side catches up.
So maybe you could tell me a little bit about this whole engineer’s war kind of concept.
So for a lot of books on strategy, on war, actually don’t address technology or address
it in a tangential manner.
But obviously, if there is an overwhelming technology advantage, that side will win.
Even if the odds are dramatically stacked against them from a numerical standpoint,
or even if the other side has better generalship and is very smart, if there is a big technology
discontinuity, then the side with the best technology will win.
And as you alluded to, most battles in history, because technology moved very slowly, it was
more about maneuvering and about tactics and strategy and whatnot.
But to use sort of an extreme example, if, for example, you can shoot lasers from space
to any point on the ground, just by pointing at it, it would not matter if you were fighting
Julius Caesar, you know, Heinz Guderian, Napoleon, they just got lasered from space.
So there’s no, it’s sort of, you know, when there’s a technology discontinuity, that just
fundamentally flips the whole situation.
And in the wars in the modern era, we’re very much a technology race war.
Like they were just, how fast can we innovate the technology?
I mean, obviously, an extremely good example of that would be, perhaps the best example
would be the nuclear bombs.
If anyone got nuclear bombs, that you now win, that’s it, end of story.
And the reason for the US Manhattan Project, which I’d like to emphasize was very much
a function of the physics community more than it was the government.
People think that this was a government thing.
The government certainly supported it, but it was a decision by the physics community,
without which this certainly would not have happened.
The physics community simply came to the conclusion that we cannot let Hitler have the bomb, obviously,
and so we must make it first and be certain of it.
So that’s an example of like, okay, you’ve just got some super weapon that anyone who
gets it wins.
No better example than nuclear weapons.
But I think technology has played a much stronger role in a war than is generally understood.
And technology is viewed in the broadest sense.
You could also think of it in the sense of, say, do you have a better phalanx?
Do you have spheres that are bronze or iron or steel?
That’s a big difference.
One of the things that the Romans had were, they had actually quite good metallurgy.
So they had their swords, there’s two general phases, austenite and martensite, their swords
were more martensitic.
And so they had swords that did not bend as much.
And so they’d often be fighting others who had swords that were more ductile and basically
bend over a Roman sword.
So obviously, if you’re in a sword fight and your sword just bends like a noodle, it doesn’t
work as well after that.
So the Romans actually, I think, won their wars through technology.
Obviously, the internal wars, they were more equal technology footing.
But when fighting outside the Roman Empire, they would win their wars or sometimes lose
their wars for technology.
So when the Romans fought the Scythians or Scythians, they really did not have a good
counter to the mounted war archer.
And especially if they get lured into terrain that is flat and easy to maneuver for horses,
then they’re pretty much hopeless against the technology of a mounted archer.
And Genghis Khan took full advantage of the whole mounted archer thing, obviously, as
most people who study anything about this know.
But looking at, say, the World War II and fighter plane advancement, bomber advancement,
it’s perhaps interesting to go into how things started out and then how fast things innovated
and the technology war of specifically going into the fighters and some of the bombers
of World War II.
And I’d like to say that I think there was very impressive design work around fighters
done by many countries.
So Japan, U.S., Germany, UK, Russia, and others had some very impressive fighter designs.
And then the U.S., obviously, completely questioned on the bomber front.
But things didn’t quite start out that way.
At the beginning of World War II, when there would be fights between, say, in the Pacific
theater, between a U.S. aircraft and Japanese aircraft, there would sometimes be cases where
the entire U.S. squadron was shot down with zero losses on the Japanese side.
Just total KO.
And because the U.S. fighters really, at the beginning of World War II, were not very good.
And nor were the tactics, and nor was the training.
So it’s basically the tactics are terrible, the aircraft are terrible, and the training is not correct.
Well, wait, you bring up something interesting, though, because, I mean, you brought up lasers earlier.
And I think we can all agree that if you go to some primitive planet where everyone’s in caveman type times
and you have lasers, it’s game over.
But there’s but there are smaller levels of technological discrepancy, right?
Bronze weapons versus iron weapons or or the latest aircraft versus the aircraft from five minutes ago.
Right. Or you mentioned a second ago tactics.
Well, you know, one of the things that, you know, there’s so much that you learn when you first start learning
about the World Wars, for example.
And then as you delve farther into it, you learn many of the of the more intricate things like tactics.
So, for example, how American fighter pilots would have tactics to try to overcome the fact that they’re
flying inferior machines, right?
The thatch weave and all these sorts of things where they try to take advantage of that weave is a great example.
Exactly. The fact is, it was a great example of improvement in tactics.
If you’ve got if you’re fighting a nimble, this was developed in the US in response to the Japanese fighters,
which were very agile, nimble, very nimble, nimble.
And so if you’re fighting, if you’re if you’re in a thing that’s sort of more like a tank and you’re fighting something
which is, you know, extremely nimble, but you’re not nimble, but you’ve got better armor than the you basically want to
just let the the nimble fighter get on your tail and then let your squad squadron mates come back and
come behind you and and shoot that plane down while it’s trying to shoot you down.
But it takes a long time to shoot you down because you’ve got a lot of armor.
So that’s like a nutshell that that’s where you could do that back and forth.
It’s it made a big difference.
Well, you also have the stuff that always drives me crazy, that I was always so worried you were going to take me into this
territory when we talked and I was going to look like an idiot.
But I mean, for example, things like super turbo chargers and being able to take the enemy to altitudes where your
planes better than their plane.
I mean, the intricacies and all this stuff.
Yeah. OK, so so so let me ask you this, then, because we were just talking about choices in war.
And if you have the laser beam and the other guy doesn’t, they’re through.
But I mean, one of the things and it’s funny that I could be a history major and all these things for years, but it took a
video game to make me really think about some of the production tradeoffs, right, the stuff that’s not so that’s not so
sexy for a war gamer.
Things like is it better or where’s the sweet spot to build a lot of one design where you already have the production line
geared up to build Sherman tanks or T-34 tanks?
Or is it better to to build a much smaller amount of much more sophisticated things?
So Hitler making multiple choices on jet fighters and jet bombers, or maybe would you rather have 20,000 T-34s or
eleven hundred Tiger twos?
How does one how does one if I put you in charge, if I said, Ilan, come in here in the Second World War, help us make these
Do you have any thoughts on those kinds of tradeoffs?
Well, I think it’s going to be kind of like in a war game, you know, so if you’ve got let’s say you have something with a
particular kill ratio, if your kill ratio is three and the thing costs twice as much, then you should still do that thing
because you’re going to be better off.
You only cost twice as much, but it has a three to one kill rate for sure.
So what about something like then adjustments?
So like when I think of, you know, one of the things they used to teach us in the military history classes was that if you’re
facing another opponent, the side that has the technological advantage is at its greatest disparity at the very beginning of
the conflict and that the longer the conflict goes on, the more time the adversary has to adjust and come up with
So that’s how tribal peoples in Afghanistan maybe adjust to being the technologically inferior side.
Could one make a case today that there are examples of that?
You know, the U.S.
still, I would I would assume, correct me if I’m wrong, the technological leader there in military technology.
But if you’re the Russians or the Chinese and we end up in a war in 20 years, are there ways that they can compensate for the
fact that they’re behind on certain?
I mean, is an electromagnetic pulse attack something that helps compensate for a satellite discrepancy?
I know we’re jumping around here, that’s something I jump around.
I do think if I could jump in, though, I think there’s there’s an interesting thing here, too, which is your rate of
innovation might be the key after the first opening salvos, because if you’re able to innovate faster, you can make up
grounds. For example, you know, the first Mustangs had the Allison engines and they weren’t good at altitude, but you put a
Rolls Royce turbo supercharged and then you get a really good all around fighter.
So it might be that the rate of innovation and ability to adapt to like the basically the game of rock, paper, scissors that
Elon and I often talk about, like when there’s a better scissors out there, you need a better rock or the butter battlebook
by Dr. Seuss.
But, you know, you’re always chasing the next widget.
Rate of innovation is the key.
OK, so what about the reverse engineering aspect then?
So famously, one of the stories from the Second World War is the U.S.
getting their hands on a relatively intact zero fighter.
I think it was in the Aleutian Islands and being able to take that apart and maybe maybe gain six months of time that they wouldn’t have
had before in the development phase.
Any thoughts on those kinds of things, the ability to maybe learn from your adversary?
Yeah, if we sort of put ourselves in the position of like, hey, it’s our job to design advanced fighters.
For sure, we’d love to see, you know, again, say an enemy fighter or even allied fighter and take it apart and take a look at the
small engineering decisions that we think would be interesting.
What materials they use, what joining methods, like, you know, if it’s a circuiting engine, you know, you know, what what pressure
where they’re running the cylinders at, what are they using for O-rings, it’s a ton of things like that.
But for example, something like just like material properties that you can count on make a big difference.
So if you’re using, say, a high strength aluminum sheet for a stress skin wing, you may have material properties, depending on how that
alloy is made, that could be variable.
And then that forces you to use the lower end of what that variable strength might be.
And that’s make the skins thicker, that’s make the plane heavier.
And then you’ve got a knock on effect where if the wings are heavier, now the landing gear need to be heavier, engine needs to be more
powerful, you get this recursive effect of mass.
So on the other hand, if you can count on very tight material specs, now you can design the plane to use thinner wing skins.
Because you don’t have to account for the fact that maybe this batch of aluminum was was not that good.
Things like that actually make a big deal, are a big deal.
And World War II with the fighter situation, a big factor was what octane rating could you count on for the engine?
The fuel, yeah.
The Americans had the high octane stuff.
You know, you’re going to like that Adam Tooze book we were talking about, because one of the things that he focused on that I’d never heard
about in terms of Second World War importance was he was talking about the rare materials, the tungsten type stuff and all the all the
sorts of things I couldn’t tell you five little things about.
And they were talking about what a huge deal it was for.
I mean, the Germans would invent this wonderful new weapon, like something like a cone bore gun, for example, but required tungsten to make it work.
So the scientists have created this wonderful new weapon, but the state does not have the ability to get the basic materials you need to have that
weapon work. And a huge part of the whole war thing was who has the the rare materials and where do you get them from and how do you how do you
jury rig it when you don’t have it domestically?
That’s fascinating stuff.
That’s right up your alley.
Yeah, absolutely. Germany and I think Japan as well were really operating from a position of really not having good access to access to
high quality fuel and limited access to rare materials.
But I think it’s not so much the rare materials that that matters.
It’s like if you need that, you really want a plane’s body and frame of skin to be primarily aluminum.
And the simple thing like, can you count on on what’s your what’s your what are your A basis material allowables?
B basis? Basically, do you have to make attempt the skin 10% thicker to account for variability in the quality of the aluminum or
aluminum as a trickle?
That’s me. If your place now 10% heavier at a structural level, because of strength variation in the in the aluminum that you’ve been sent, then that
will actually have a knock on effect on everything else that the recursive effect, your speed, maneuverability, everything.
Yeah, but there’s a recursive effect of mass.
So it’s a mass against mass, as we say, right?
Yes, mass against mass.
So, you know, if your primary structure is 10% heavier, because you had to take 10% knockdown, because of variable materials.
Now, everything’s gonna have to be heavier, too.
You need a more powerful engine to go at the same speed, especially to climb at the same speed.
You need bigger landing gear, you need more fuel, because you’re carrying a heavier plane.
All these things amplify the mass of anyone.
So you increase mass in one area, it actually causes mass of everything else to increase as well.
And Germany actually did a ton of clever things to try to improve the octane rating of fuel, like tons of additives and all sorts of things,
because they would just get random fuel that was pretty bad, whereas the US had awesome fuel.
And so they really took it to the very high octane.
And as Bill was saying, the Merlin engine, and really the best Merlin engine was the one made in the US.
That was the turbo supercharged Merlin made in the US for the P-51 was such a kick-ass engine, it’s insane.
I mean, quite frankly, that’s the kind of thing where I’m sure that the Germans captured some aircraft that had
the sort of state-of-the-art P-51D.
That would have been late war, though, 44-45.
Yeah, but that’s the case where you can hand it to them and the blueprints, and it wouldn’t matter, because that engine is actually so difficult to make that it’s irrelevant.
Isn’t that a British, is that a British engine originally?
It’s originally a British engine, which was then enhanced in the US.
And so the actual best one, the best one was the, in my opinion, and maybe different opinions out there, but the best one was the British Merlin engine design, but then further enhanced with US turbo supercharging,
which led to the Mustang being this incredible long range high altitude fighter.
And but you couldn’t, if you’ve got low octane fuel head engine, you’d have a real problem.
So, OK, but let me talk about that, because this is something most people, yours truly included, don’t understand.
And you might have to use small words with me, Elon, for a minute.
So, but like if Dan Carlin looks at the aircraft performance, I’m going to look at the firepower.
I’m going to look at the armor. I’m going to look at the turn radius.
I’m going to look at the top speed.
I’m going to look at the climb rate.
And I’m not going to look at the octane level.
But the Americans had the extreme octane fuel, which I was reading that as the war went on and the and the and the axis fuel got worse and worse quality, that this advantage became more and more pronounced.
What does it mean to have higher octane fuel if you’re a pilot?
What can you do that the guy with the lower octane fuel can’t?
So if you have the lower octane fuel, you get pre-combustion.
So basically get knocking.
So reminds me of the old gasoline commercials, the knocking and the pinging.
The the air fuel mixture ignites before you’re ready for it.
And in a non-optimal way, that robs power and can lead to mechanical failure, essentially.
OK, so so is your so if you’re the if you’re the other pilot with the lower octane fuel, besides the knocking and the pinning, pinging and the lower power, does that mean you lose?
So if conceivably your plane should be able to go 400 miles per hour, but you’re using inferior fuel, does that lower your top speed?
I’m trying to figure out how it works for the pilots involved when they’re trying to make their calculations.
You would show up as power and then your power as you go to different altitudes.
Yeah. And then you what’s the role of that?
What’s the role of the supercharger then?
Is that a high altitude, low oxygen thing?
Yes, the two charges, those two charges are increasing the the the combustion pressure.
So like basically enabling you, you’re you’re basically if you go up high, you’re you’re as bright then.
So if you’re just taking air with a normal carburettor, you’re going to be oxygen stop just as a human as oxygen stop.
So you’re going to pressurize that air coming in and feed the engine very high pressure air so that it can it can continue to produce high power at altitude.
And you’re also going to have a major cooling problem.
That’s why the Mustang had that gigantic cooling thing under the fuselage, which then also made dual use of as.
Kind of like a jet, it has a slight jet effect.
That’s the name for it, I forget.
But even though it looks like a Meredith effect, exactly.
So it offset the drag of the gigantic radiator, basically, that’s that was under the fuselage of the P-51.
But but frankly, if the octane is is is not high enough, you will get mechanical damage to the engine and the plane will break, you know, so the engine will fail.
So it’s not just a, hey, it’s not as good.
It’s like also it might conk out on you while you’re over the Pacific or over, you know, enemy territory.
And that will be not great.
So octane is a super big deal.
This is this reminds me of another conversation you and I had, and it’s made me think ever since.
And it had to do with with the plane, I think, is one of your favorites, the P-38 Lightning.
And and and this is another this is another problem that happens to you when you study this, like I do, as opposed to flying these planes like other people do, which is you had said to me, having the two engines would be really important if you lost one of them.
And I remember thinking that for sure.
Yeah. But I mean, that’s not the kind of thing when you’re thinking about this in a wargaming sense or an overall strategic sense.
You’re not thinking about an individual pilot or whatnot.
But that was that was a revelation for me.
So for those who don’t know, the P-38 is the one that looks like it’s two planes sort of fused together.
It’s a classic American design.
We ended up making with the P-61s like that, too, I think.
Tell me a little about that plane, because you waxed eloquently on that for a while to me before.
Came out in like, what, 38, 39, the design?
Yeah, it didn’t really get good until a couple of years later.
And I think they actually could have taken the P-38 Lightning much further than they did.
Like if you put, for example, state of the art Mullen engines like the P-51 got, like the Mustang got, man, that would be an epic plane.
Insane. But the P-38 was, it’s worth noting, like, I believe most of the top American aces, if not all, flew P-38s.
And now the P-38 is not like, as designed, it was not great in any theater of war, but it was great in the Pacific theater.
But it was ultimately superseded by the F-6F Hellcat, which, you know, this is an interesting bit of trivia.
If you say, what was the most effective fighter plane in World War II?
And the actual answer is the Hellcat, because…
What was the criteria you used for that?
The kill ratio.
OK, OK, well, there’s a lot of other variables, though, that go into that.
Yeah, but I mean, if you’re in a battle, that’s the thing that matters.
Yeah, but what about, but you got pilot skill.
We just talked about octane fuel.
I mean, I can think of a lot of things that might go into what accounts for a kill ratio besides just that.
I mean, would you rather have a Hellcat than a Corsair or a Mustang?
Well, you can really have a Mustang, unless you’ve got a Mustang, which is not a carrier aircraft.
It’s a land-based plane.
No, it’s a land-based plane.
So first of all, it’s important to note, like, if you’re on a carrier, you’re constrained in volume.
Like you can’t have like a giant plane or your plane, with some notations on plane size, you’ve got to fold the wing.
So you’re going to lose, you’re going to have some weight added because you’ve got a folding wing.
The stall speed has to be super low so that you can land this thing on a very tiny runway that’s in the wind, it’s a carrier, like that’s not long.
So as you say, you’re going to have to have a slow stall speed or slow landing speed.
That also impedes the design of the vehicle.
But really, I mean, for its day, there was no better plane in the Pacific theater than the F-16, the Hellcat.
It was just crushingly good.
Like it did the best at the rock, paper, scissors situation, and I believe had something like a 13 to one kill ratio.
So that’s a nutty number, just nutty.
And this is, pilot skill is not, I would say, was not a significant factor in this, because most of the pilots of those planes had never been in combat, or had been in combat to a very, very limited degree.
The Hellcat was actually intentionally designed so that someone who had a small number of flight hours would be able to fly it safely, because besides being shut down by an enemy aircraft, there’s also landing on the carrier and not crashing.
It’s a subtle point.
These things don’t land themselves.
So, so Elon, wait a minute.
So you talked now a couple of times about the rock, paper, scissors dynamic when it comes to aircraft.
Now in naval development, that’s easy.
We say speed, armor, gunfire.
What does the rock, paper, scissors apply to in air combat or air development?
And both, please weigh in, weigh in, whatever you’d like, but, you know, if you take Pacific data for a while, you have the Zero, which is really an awesome design, extremely agile, and, you know, really cool in a lot of ways, light, and really, really effective.
And like I said, in the early air battles in Pacific, the Zero would absolutely dominate.
And they had, they had better pilots in the early war too, though.
That does come into play, doesn’t it?
Those are veteran pilots flying those Zeros.
Flying in China, flying, you know, all of that stuff.
I think the, I mean, US started off with kind of the worst planes, the worst tactics, and the worst training.
I’m not going to argue with that.
No, I’m not going to argue with that.
Pretty, pretty bad, really.
I mean, it’s rough seeing some of those early battles where, man, those kids never stood a chance.
So the, you know, the Zero was for sure the superior thing in the beginning to the US fighters.
So, but very, very quickly, the US evolved the training, the tactics, like, and the technology.
And then the thing is like, okay, so if the US starts off with paper and say Japan has scissors, what’s a rock in this case?
So the rock in this case really was the best rock.
And this is just, you know, looking at actual battle stats, was the carrier-based F-6F Hellcat.
Now, this is not a pretty plane.
And the reason they’re not, there are very few of these around is because it’s not the best looking aircraft, frankly.
They’re bulky, aren’t they?
They’re kind of bulky.
Like P-47s are bulky.
The Brewster Buffalo was bulky.
It’s bulky and frankly, not a handsome plane.
So it’s kind of bulky and kind of cool, but this is bulky and they’re not, like, they don’t look that good.
But it’s a kick-ass fighter.
It is then the rock to the scissors that is the zero.
And so with the F-6F, really great design.
It’s literally designed with the intent of we’re going to have a whole bunch of new pilots who’ve never been in combat, have landed very few times on a carrier.
And, you know, some of them are just not that good at flying, really.
So they just got conscripted and they were like, you know, riding a tractor in Kansas until not that long ago.
So it was designed with that in mind.
It’s like, let’s make this thing easy to fly, easy to land.
So non-combat casualties low, easy to maintain, make the wings easy to fold so you can, you know, stow them really real fast and get ready for flight real fast.
We’re going to give them heavy guns.
We’ve got 50 cals and we’re going to give this thing a lot of armor.
OK, so it’s got a lot of armor, it’s got a lot of power.
This is a big, it’s actually quite a big plane.
So you see the size of this thing, it’s like a bull.
I think almost four times the power of the Zero.
Right. So big, big, big-ass engine and just really robust to fight, especially to lower caliber bullets.
So if it’s being shot with like 303s or something like that, lower caliber bullets, it’s like basically like taking a shower.
It doesn’t care, you know.
Did they have self-sealing tanks and all that kind of stuff, too?
The Japanese were not big on.
Yeah. OK, totally.
So you get your tanks to seal themselves.
It was it was very carefully armored.
So it had like heavy duty armor in the right places.
And so what would happen is Zero would get on the back, on the tail of a Hellcat and would just be peppering the thing, like guns blazing, pressing the fire button.
It’s going to do. And that’s the thing.
It’s just not coming down.
OK, so it didn’t matter that the Hellcat was not that maneuverable.
So you’re making me think of a whole different class of planes, though, and I hope you don’t mind me shifting here because now you’ve got me thinking about,
you know, one of the planes I was always kind of interested in was something like, you know, Henschel was making a ground attack aircraft.
They had a 126 and a 129, and they were a combination of super heavily armored planes, really not very maneuverable, not very fast because they were they were flying tanks.
And then a gun that was more suited to a tank, too, and trying to figure out, you know, how you handle a massive recoil of a heavy gun in an aircraft and whatnot.
Any thoughts or any insights into into something like the ground attack aircraft?
These days, we would look at aircraft as being and all during the Cold War, the idea of how the U.S.
was going to compensate for this massive armored thrust through the Fulda Gap in Central Europe or something was going to be with aircraft that just took out all these tanks, which, of course, is really a Second World War development.
Any thoughts on the idea of ground attack aircraft?
Yeah, so it’s like I said, it’s the thing of these things is very much rock, paper, scissors, and, you know, it’s hard to be a master of all trades.
So so you really want to have like the right aircraft for the right use.
And ground attack aircraft really need to be heavily armored on the bottom and around the engine cali, because that’s where the bullets are coming from.
And you want to be probably pretty fast.
You don’t want to be staying down in the deck for too long.
If you’re doing scraping runs, but like, for example, the the P-51 was an amazing high altitude fighter, but it was not so great as a ground attack aircraft because it was vulnerable from the bottom.
The armor on the bottom was was much more limited.
And it had the oil cooler that, you know, that oil cooler we’re talking about that provided some thrust using emeritus effect was vulnerable from the bottom.
So it was it was the Mustang was geared towards, you know, your combat with with fighter aircraft.
And so it was quite good in that respect, very good in that respect.
But they had a lot of planes down because of ground attacks, where they’re basically at some point, there’s weren’t any more fighters to deal with.
So the Mustangs would go down and do ground attack.
But but they got shot down quite a bit in ground attack because they were just they weren’t well suited for that.
You want something that’s got a lot of heavy armor from the direction the bullets coming, which is the bottom and not not much.
You don’t want to have too much vulnerable stuff there.
If you’re doing scraping runs and if you’re bombing, that’s a whole different subject.
So, you know, I’m trying to think about the most the most impactful fighter war of all time, right?
Because, you know, like you said, bombing is a different thing.
But to me, I’m thinking of like when fighters and fighter development not just in terms of the development of the planes themselves, but the tactics, the strategy, the tactics that they use.
The tactics, the strategies and all this stuff.
Can you think I think the Battle of Britain’s got to be the most impactful, mostly concerned with a fighter technology sort of thing.
And you have Spitfires and Hurricanes on one side, you have Focke-Wulfs and Messerschmitts on the other.
Any thoughts on the Battle of Britain and the whole ebb and flow of the technological rock, paper, scissors game going on in that one?
Sure. So, yeah, Britain mostly had like Spitfires and Hurricanes.
And now the Spitfires and Hurricanes also went through very rapid evolution.
So you say Spitfire, you say which one?
Which very A, B, C, D.
They all sound like that, right?
They’re rapidly iterating versions of the Spitfire and Hurricanes so friggin fast that you have to like say which month or maybe even which week in which month was that fighter built.
So Britain did actually an incredible job of rapidly evolving Spitfire and Hurricane.
And actually, Joni did a great job, too.
The Focke-Wulf and Messerschmitt were amazing, but they’re really operating at a significant disadvantage from a range standpoint.
So, you know, if you’re doing these sort of like maneuvers all over the place where, you know, just cranking full throttle and climbing and diving, you’re using a lot of fuel when you do that, the climbing part, certainly.
And the German fighters were coming over from airfields in France or the Netherlands or basically not close.
And so they would they would reach London or something like that and only have maybe 20 minutes of combat time, whereas the British planes might have an hour of combat time and very quick to refuel and be back up in the air.
And if you get shot down, you’re shot down over friendly territory.
Yeah, you’re shot down over friendly territory.
But you can think of like the if you have X number of fighters, but then like here’s an additional nuance is what percentage of the time can they be useful?
And so even if you’re attacking from far away and you have 20 minutes for argument’s sake, 20 minutes of flight time of a fighter time of combat time and the opposition has an hour of combat time.
That’s that’s it’s almost like having three times as many planes.
Oh, interesting way to look at it.
Yeah. So and very easy for them to bring up reinforcements dynamically.
So it’s like, oh, let’s let’s because, you know, being outnumbered is a great way to win.
Like if you you know, if it’s like six planes against, you know, 20 planes, the six planes are in trouble.
They should run away.
That would be very good. Just run away.
So it’s obviously pretty easy to see that.
OK, how many planes are coming?
Where are they headed? And you had radar assistance and everything.
And and say, OK, let’s let’s have a let’s concentrate the defense fighters in this, you know, right right here and just very, very quickly fly up reinforcements.
So I think the.
Obviously, the Battle of Britain was was was not was not a smart move in any way on for, you know, for Germany to do that.
That was it’s just. It just was not going to work.
So German strategic decision making leaves something to be desired.
I think I think I think their tactical abilities and their abilities in in scientific design and whatever.
Sort of shielded them from the the mistakes that they made strategically to some degree.
Speaking of that, I want to ask you, because one of my favorite sections in any book on the development of military aircraft is the interwar years,
because you get a chance to see a whole bunch of designs that eventually turned into like dead end designs.
And I’m fascinated by some of these experiments.
You see it in the Soviet Union a ton.
But even we were just mentioning the Battle of Britain, where they unleashed the the supposedly, you know, game changing Messerschmitt 110s.
And it proves to be those those for those who don’t know, this is a larger fighter.
And the idea was it was going to use use firepower and size.
But it turned out to just be total meat to the smaller, more nimble fighters that could get on their tail.
Do you have any favor to these dead end designs or something that you wish, you know, that had been stuck to a little bit longer and would have maybe in your mind made more of a difference?
Maybe there is no dead end designs.
Let’s leave the door open to that possibility.
Well, I mean, there’s there’s an argument that on the German side, they should have perhaps focused on the Focke-Wulf 190.
It was a great plane.
Yeah, great. Focke-Wulf 190 was a really great plane and just doubled down on that and made that a primary plane.
That was that was an excellent plane.
They built a ton more of the Messerschmitt 109 versions, though, than that ton more.
Yeah, it didn’t make total sense because the 190 was, in my opinion, the better way to go.
But I mean, the part of the fact that the Battle of Britain was just not a wise strategic decision.
If you are going to do that, you should definitely have long range fighters that have good dwell capability and drop tanks and that kind of thing.
But it was just it was just a pointless.
I don’t I it’s just like such a such an odd thing to do because strategically, Battle of Britain just, I think, had had, you know, not quite zero percent chance of success, but pretty close.
That’s why strategy trumps tactics for sure.
Yeah. So so I have a Star Trek episode in mind that I want to involve you in.
If I take you back to one of these engineering rooms, whether it’s in London or in Washington, we wouldn’t be in Washington, probably be in Southern California, someplace like that.
But take you to one of the allied aircraft engineering rooms and just say, OK, Elon, you’re working with whatever those people have to work with.
What’s the what’s the easiest, quickest thing that you can suggest to them that they can do that will make a difference?
In other words, you can’t do anything too sophisticated.
They can’t get from here to there.
But you could say something like, well, you know, you guys are missing something really obvious here that you’ll discover five years from now.
I mean, is there anything right away that you look and you just go if they’d only done this sooner or something like that?
Well, nuclear bombs.
Well, but but but a perfect but that’s a perfect example of what wouldn’t work in this question, because nobody would have known.
But there might have been some I didn’t know if there was some little thing that they weren’t doing with aircraft that they would do later.
That would have made a huge difference.
Bang for the buck wise.
But now you get into nuclear weapons.
So let’s talk a little about that, because I would try to answer the ball.
Was there something simple?
Yeah, something they were missing.
You know, I never understood why they didn’t replace the Sherman.
It seemed like there was time to iterate on that and come up with something better.
Well, they did with the Pershing, but it was just really, really like last couple of months.
Yeah, but it just I don’t know.
I never I never delved into this, but it seemed like the Sherman’s just had a terrible time and iterating on that faster.
Were you maybe they had all the energy going to the fighters?
I don’t know. It just always seemed odd to me.
Well, we were talking about this earlier, was a little bit about the is it worth retooling the production lines for a new a new version, or would it be just better to just keep cranking out the old versions?
And I remember somebody telling me, he says, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
You’d rather have a Tiger two tank for sure.
But if you’ve got twenty five times as many Shermans, wouldn’t you rather just have a tank sometimes versus no tank?
And so I absolutely I mean, as you know, as a guy who war games with the Americans forever, nothing makes you angrier than to sit there with a bunch of Sherman tanks and be picked off by by German gunnery before you can even see them.
But what but what one guy always said to me, he goes, well, but you’ve got to give yourself then 20 tanks for every one of theirs if you want to replicate what was going on in the war.
And then you’ve got to have what Elon was talking about earlier, the ground attack aircraft and everything else.
But, you know, what’s crazy is that we ended up exporting those Sherman tanks, as you both probably know well, for many years.
They upgraded them, for example, in Israel with a with a better gun.
And these things were still being used in the early in the wars in Israel.
I don’t know how many they were called super Shermans.
I don’t know how many they were using in the 60s, in the late 60s.
But these things were still rolling around, you know, come off the assembly lines in 43.
And they’re still using them 20 years later in some theaters.
OK, that’s my recommendation.
I think pretty desperate to be using a Sherman 20 years later.
But, yeah, I mean, if I was strategically against, you know, Tiger tanks or something like that in World War Two and I had Shermans, my strategy would be to just run around in a circle, drive around a circle until the Sherman until until the Tiger breaks down and runs out of fuel.
Usually they just and usually, Elon, they just parked them in some wonderful zone and let them.
But you know what? That’s what as my as my old friend used to say, that’s what artillery is.
Yeah, no, they they they they’re big.
I mean, it was an incredible tank, Tiger, but it used a lot of a lot of fuel.
And the reliability was it was heavy.
It was heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy.
And reliability was not great.
I think that that does show the yeah, the complexity and the like the lack of parts and interchangeability and the diverse like they had so many different flavors that they couldn’t service them and keep them running.
So clearly the the single lots of the single tank has lots of advantages.
Yeah, I would just honestly that this one move just like just retreat and eventually that Tiger is going to run out of fuel or break down the minutes of sitting duck.
I had a professor who said you can compare these things to the car manufacturers for the various countries involved.
And they said that the Germans built fantastic tanks and a lot of them were the same companies that build fantastic German cars.
But they’re really precision instruments and they require a lot of maintenance and you got to take care of them.
And, you know, the combat situations just don’t allow for that.
So, well, you’d much rather have a German tank than a Russian tank until they break down.
And then you got to have the right spare parts and the right technicians.
And then you’d rather have something that’s just more of a tin can that works on a couple of strings, you know?
Well, I think you can have like arguably the best of both worlds is most of the best of both worlds as possible.
But it certainly is not a good idea to have, you know, 27 different or for argument’s sake, like different designs of a tank, especially if you’re on the eastern front and a zillion miles from where the spare parts are.
This is this is really unwise.
Because, you know, you can get stuck because of one, you know, you blew a little valve in the engine and now, OK, now you’re 5,000 miles from where the spare part is.
Like, wait a second.
And the Allies are bombing your ball bearing plants and all that sort of stuff.
So you definitely want like field replaceable, field repairable situations.
But it is, you know, in terms of like excellence in operation, it is if you look at World War Two fighter races on Wikipedia and see how long you have to scroll before you find someone that isn’t German.
Have you done that?
Yes, but I would argue that there’s other things going into it.
So tell me what you think is going into that number.
What accounts for that in your mind?
Um, well, OK, so part of it is that the in the beginning, the Russian planes were not very good.
And so or the Polish planes or the French planes or, you know, keep going right.
The Czech planes.
Yeah. So, I mean, there’s a there’s a few cases where German pilots were fighting Battle of Britain and would have like, you know, I think one of them actually had had zero zero.
Zero kills in Battle of Britain.
And he was one of the top three or top five German aces and had 200 or some crazy number of kills outside of Battle of Britain, mostly in the eastern front.
So, you know, I think, yeah, it’s the early planes that Russia had were or Soviet Union had were were not very good.
And so you could really take them out very easily.
As as the war progressed, the Soviet planes also did get much, much better.
And and and the Soviets had superiority at the end.
I tell you that one of the theories I like and I can’t prove it and I’m not smart enough to delve into it too deeply, but I love the concept.
It’s it’s the the idea of the non fire and the idea that there are most most of the people in war don’t even fire their weapons and that the damage is done inordinately by the people who do.
And the specific examples that the author that I was reading gave where he said it was most pronounced was in the air war among fighter pilots.
And he was talking about aces.
And he said that the aces said most people would get up in the air and fly around and never shoot at anybody.
But he almost he almost described the people who were aces as as true killers.
And they went out there and caused the majority of the damage on both sides.
Does that does that ring?
I was trying to figure out because, you know, we’re talking so much about engineering and designs and those kinds of things, which seems to take out the human element.
I grew up next door to a fighter pilot and and he designed he was trying to design an aircraft anyway, his whole life in the 1970s after he retired from Lockheed.
But he would talk to me so much about pilot, pilot, pilot, skill, skill, skill, training, training, training.
How does one I mean, would you rather be the better pilot in the worst plane or the worst pilot in the better plane?
I mean, to be totally frank, the I would say the worst part in the better plane.
Well, bear in mind, also, worst plane means this thing might fall out of the sky for how much worse.
How much worse? Yes.
By plane versus I mean, versus jet fighter.
Here with the Pacific.
I mean, you’re I mean, the Pacific is very big and you’re flying a long range mission of the Pacific and your plane is in trouble.
I mean, they’re probably never going to see you again.
So, you know, this was your P-38 extra engine right there.
I’m definitely pleased the P-38, that would be my favorite by far, just because at least the probability of coming back alive from engine travel is super is way better.
The P-38, I would have, you know, I think, you know, this is like some serious armchair quarterback here, but the I would take the P-38 and actually double down
on that one, like I said, given it the turbo supercharged Mullins, but double the power of that plane, double it and improve the fuel, the fuel efficiency and allow it to fly super high.
There was some improvements needed to the airframe as well to make it more maneuverable.
It had some some issues, I think, in dives and rolls.
But it’s easy to upgrade the the control surfaces.
No, not that hard.
And didn’t they do some of that with the P-61?
Didn’t they do some of that?
Didn’t they do some of that with the the P-61 Black Widow?
I mean, wasn’t that sort of a super P-38?
Yeah, I think that didn’t get it was late.
But yeah, that’s that’s the kind of that basically just a major upgrade of the P-38, I think, would have been the yeah, Black Widow is basically like that.
I do think it was wasn’t it or I think it might have had real air cold.
So kind of a different kind of a different thing.
But yeah, the double boom with the double engine.
And I don’t know anything about the supercharger or any of its power or any of those kind of things.
I know they used it for a night fighter.
Yeah, I think there’s another element here, which might be interesting, which is it’s the pilots obviously have a lot of respect for the pilots.
My great uncle Bill Overstreet was with the 357th Fighter Group flying Mustangs and had a lot of great stories.
But it’s also interesting to look at the engineers and like the you know, the Mustang was designed by a German immigrant to the US.
Imagine if he’d been over there working on German designs.
And so you like the P-38 was I think Kelly Johnson had a role in it, who went on to do the SRs, you know, later Skunk Works.
So it’s also interesting to look at the folks driving the engineering design and the rate of innovation, like you were talking about.
And like the higher the higher innovation rates, are those driven by a few key folks?
I don’t know, but it’s an interesting thing to look at.
You know what, but Bill, you bring up something now and maybe it’s the obvious jumping off point from what we were just talking about, where you and I are admiring the skill of the pilot so much.
I feel like we’re entering the era of the pilotless plane.
I mean, I was I was doing some heavy duty research trying to understand the impact of the drone warfare happening over the Nagorno Karabakh area of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict that happened recently.
And it seems it seems the logical next step.
And, you know, Elon, you and I have talked about how the First World War was so so particularly deadly because you had all those years of development, but without practical testing to see how major powers, new equipment would all work.
And then, you know, you want to leach them on each other.
I feel like the drones over Armenia are the same kind of thing where we haven’t had a major war between major powers, where both sides are using cutting edge drone technology.
And then we get into that dynamic we’ve talked about, right, the continually upgrading, you know, the variant G, variant H.
What do you think about the future of the whole drone warfare when it comes to and maybe not just aircraft, but I mean, one could make a case that they’re working on it for armored vehicles on land, too, and ships.
Yeah, I mean, I mean, it’s interesting future.
There’s no question. Like if you wanted to have a more effective fighter, bomber, tank, whatever the case may be, the best thing to do is take the pilot out of it at this point.
We’re already there, you think?
You’d rather have a computer doing it than a human being in there at this point already.
So Bobby Fisher’s losing to the computer already in the chess game.
We’re losing, you know, you.
OK, that’s it. But see, to me right there, that’s fascinating.
Yeah, I mean, it’s I just want to separate this out.
It’s not like I want the computers to the drones to take over.
But if you say like if you have a well-designed unmanned fighter or something like that and with basic AI, we’re talking primitive AI, it’s really going to crush the best human.
It can go through super high G turns.
It can do things a human can’t do and not black out.
You know, it could do a 10G, like whatever the fuselage can handle, it can handle.
And it has simultaneous awareness and processing of all the sensors.
You know, like a guided missile is in some ways like like that.
You know, what is a guided missile?
It’s sort of the computer, it’s computer controlled, basically kamikaze plane.
So you’re saying if you take the meat computer out of the cockpit, the performance of the mechanical systems left over are so superior.
Yeah, I mean, so much of the plane is oriented towards keeping the pilot alive and allowing the pilot to interact with the plane’s computer systems.
And one fighter jets that’s fly by wire.
So it’s really you’re just telling the computer what to do.
But the plane would get dramatically lighter, cheaper, faster, pretty much better in every way if it did not have a pilot in it.
I want to emphasize I like flying planes and I’m a pilot personally.
So this is not like, you know, it’s not some anti-pilot thing.
It’s just that this isn’t the M5 computer on Star Trek and you’re replacing Captain Kirk and everything.
No, I mean, you want to have these you want to have like the, you know, fire control, you know, so-called kill decision.
So require a human, I think, you know, we don’t we don’t computers just we don’t want Terminator here, you know.
So but the reality is, like, if you if you’ve got a tank without humans or fighter without humans, it’s going to win because it’s going to have it doesn’t have to go to all the trouble of trying to keep the humans who are quite delicate and easily killed alive.
It’s very difficult to do that.
I’m curious what you might think, you know, you and I have talked about this also, the idea of of of people trying to deal with technology or integrate or come up with systems and approaches for technology in circumstances where there’s no way to train for it before the circumstance breaks out.
So I had a conversation with a guy who’s a First World War historian, and he’s a big fan of General Douglas Haig, who gets called a butcher by some people.
But the but the argument for the anti-butcher crowd is that he was in a situation where there’s there he’s he’s in a learning curve, right?
He’s a cavalry commander from the late 19th century trying to figure out how to integrate aircraft with armored battleships, with tanks on the field and all these kinds of things that are that are far beyond the world he grew up in.
And this goes back to what we were talking about, about how quickly the pace of change began to speed up.
How do you think the generals and by the way, they’re they’re a very interesting group are modern day generals in terms of continual learning and all that sort of stuff.
How do you think they’re going to do with all the new crap that’s been developed since the Second World War, when the last time major superpowers faced off?
How do you think you’re going to do integrating all these new systems against another power that also possesses all these new symptoms systems?
When both sides have drones, when both sides have computers, when both sides have the Gulf War technology that we were using.
Yes, so it’s an interesting thing that happened, so when we once we developed nukes, like wars between superpowers became a decision to destroy humanity or not, or destroy civilization.
You get some pushback on that from some military leaders, you would know, but I mean, it’s just like the stakes are very high.
Like you can’t just go around using nukes without getting getting nuked yourself, basically, so like in wars between superpowers, like serious wars are we’re not going to happen because it would just be mutually assured destruction.
At least there was a very, there’s too much risk of such a thing to have a superpower war.
However, drones now move that completely in the other direction.
Now you can have a drone war, where very few people died, or maybe no one dies in a drone war, and whoever’s drones are successful, they won the battle, and this may actually reduce the risk of a war, sorry, reduce the risk of, reduce the penalty of a war and increase the risk of having a war, because it’s, you know, it’s, it ends up being battlebots, you know, and so,
that could be one of the things that happens is that it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s now, it’s now, now the stakes have gone super high with nukes to actually not even having human casualties could result in potentially more wars down the road, but wars with more.
Yeah, I do.
I think it opens up the door.
So let me ask you then, because something happened this last couple of weeks in space.
And it had, and you’re gonna have to correct me on this, but had to do with the, the, the, the Russians, I always want to call them the Soviets, this is how old I am now.
It’s the, it’s the Russian shooting, I believe, a missile into space and blowing up something and infecting satellites.
And all I could think about when I was reading it was this is the, this is going to be looked back in the history books as the very early stages of the first, I don’t even know what you would call it.
We called it the peaceful version of a space race.
I don’t know what you call this, but, but I’d be interested in your take on what this means.
And I mean, and what a space war would look like.
And if something like that is a near future or long future thing, I mean, can you give us a little insight from, you’re dealing with this every day.
What was your reaction to that, that incident?
Well, we’re certainly surprised to see that happen.
I think a lot of people in Russia were surprised to see it happen.
By the sounds of it, it was, it was something that was just on the military side and Russian civil space wasn’t even aware of it.
So, um, I, I do, you know, I think that is, uh, that was, that was not, not, not great for Russia to do that.
Because there is now a bunch of debris that’s going to take a while to deorbit.
And some of that debris potentially puts the space station in trouble, which has Russians on it.
So I think that, uh, that was a regrettable incident.
But, you know, it’s clearly, you know, at least, uh, Russia, China and the U.S. have demonstrated anti-satellite weapons.
The U.S. actually has extremely good anti-satellite weapons.
A demonstration that was done a few years ago, actually, was a U.S., the U.S. deorbited a satellite.
And while the satellite was deorbiting, this was coming back into the atmosphere, fired an anti-satellite missile at the satellite and, and went and hit the fuel tank of the satellite while it was deorbiting.
You know, this is sort of like the, you know, Western equivalent of like flipping the silver dollar in the air, taking out the sixth gun and going, bam, shooting a hole through the dollar.
So that was cool.
But that was like a satellite that was deorbiting, so it didn’t cause orbital debris.
And this is all public information, so you can look it up on the internet.
There’s also direct, directed energy weapons, which is based on lasers and microwave lasers, lasers.
So is that the first thing that happens, Elon, in the next war?
Is the first thing that the satellites get blinded and knocked out?
I mean, is that, if you’re, if you’re war gaming the next major superpower war, and this goes back to what you and I were saying earlier in this conversation about how you, how you compensate for an opponent that’s technologically superior to you.
I mean, if, if, if we’re the superior higher ground satellite country and someone else can knock out our satellites, isn’t that a great equalizer?
Um, is that the first step in the next, in World War III, is the knocking out of the satellites?
Man, true World War III.
I sure hope we never have one of those.
I’m a, you know, I’m a pessimist on human nature, and I just think that, I think that, that it’s just, what was the old line that Bertrand Russell said, right?
Expecting a man to walk a tightrope forever.
I mean, the odds seem against it to me.
I agree that given enough time, the probability that, the probability of a third world war is, is high if you just give it enough time.
As, you know, to extend the, like, how far could you walk on that tightrope before falling off? Not forever.
No, but I think the logical thing would be to push it too.
I think you’d have a miscalculation where, it’s the old line about where, um, during the early phases of the nuclear era where they were talking about what if some country pushes, pushes, pushes in little teeny chunks so that it’s never enough so you’d want to risk a nuclear exchange over, but it’s enough to change the map.
Um, I mean, I feel like something like that’s a classic human first world war type miscalculation rather than people sitting down calculating the odds of winning a third world war.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, I guess that’s, that, that is how these things tend to happen.
That’s a very unsatisfying answer to be right on that. I just want you to know.
It’s very unsatisfying for the pessimist view to work.
Yes, thank you. I hope I’m wrong.
But yeah, certainly one of the things that would occur in any kind of significant third world war, even non-nuclear would be to take out the space assets of the, of the others.
And this can be done with either kinetic weapons, like a, you know, a missile of some kind or an EMP.
An EMPs, uh, man, uh, you, you can love a nuke into the, uh, upper atmosphere or above the others in this space and basically just fire it.
And it actually would cause no, or no, it wouldn’t, it would not cause, uh, anyone to die on the ground from the, from the explosion itself.
But it would, it would, uh, the electromagnetic pulse would probably take out any satellites in the vicinity and possibly, uh, power grids on the ground.
So that, that’s, uh, but that’s also that, man, that is a big move to do that stuff.
Also EMPs do not discriminate. So, uh, you know, you can take out all the satellites in that area, not just, uh, you know, the enemy satellites.
So I don’t know if there’d be going for the EMP, but I think the more likely situation would be anti-satellite missiles, uh, or ground-based directed energy.
Uh, you know, laser is light amplification through simulated emission radiation.
So specifically in the, you know, uh, maybe 400 to 1,500 nanometer range with a 1,500 nanometer being an infrared laser, uh, which is just sort of heat, heat it up essentially.
Although those don’t work too well if there’s a, if the things are cloudy, you know, heating the cloud instead of the, you know, what you’re aiming at.
You know, when I hear you talk about that though, Elon, I think about, cause I think you’re probably right in terms of, of, of EMPs don’t discriminate and all those kinds of stuff,
which would seem to indicate that it would not be a smart move for a, for us, a nation state.
Uh, how far, cause I realize there’s capabilities involved here. How far away are we from having terrorists have a capability like that?
Well, if terrorists can launch a nuke into the upper atmosphere that they could also nuke whatever else they, you know, cities or whatever, you know, so.
But would one nuke hitting, I don’t get me wrong. I love, I love these conversations where we give terrorists ideas, but I feel like these are not the ideas.
But I mean, but I mean, would you rather, would you rather have a nuclear weapon?
If you’re a terrorist, hit an American city or would you do more damage to knock out the satellites?
And I don’t know which is the right answer, but maybe you could, I mean, would we be more discomforted by the satellites going out than, uh, than the U S?
I mean, cause if you’re in new Orleans, you don’t, I mean, Los Angeles being hits a disaster, but it doesn’t affect new Orleans that much.
Whereas you take out the satellites and we’re all in trouble. I mean, have I got that wrong?
No, I think we’d much rather they took out the satellites than a city.
I think that makes sense. Yes. I’m going to go that. That makes sense for sure.
Bill, have we left you out of this discussion?
Has there been anything we’ve talked about that, that prompts any thinking from you where, where either where I’m totally way off base or we’re missing something really intriguing here in the last bit of conversation?
I think I just like to look at it back through the lens of the rock, paper, scissors, and there’s a lot of new rocks, papers, and scissors out there.
And it’s just like, it’s just a treadmill development.
The rock, paper, scissors, treadmill.
Rock, paper, scissors, treadmill.
So, so maybe, maybe let’s, let’s take it a little farther back, Elon, cause you know, you and I were talking about engineers a while back and you, you, you were, you were teaching me about what an engineer does and all these kinds of things.
And I started to go back to, you know, we were talking about the importance of engineering as the pace of change speeds up.
But then I keep thinking about guys like Archimedes or even earlier.
I mean, the stuff in prehistory, once upon a time, somebody invented the bow and arrow or somebody took a bow and turned it into a compound bow or a composite bow.
These people lost it. So talk to me a little about engineering and warfare.
Is this just a facet of what engineers do to our whole life?
Or is there something very specific to warfare and the development of engineering in your mind?
Yeah. And to be clear, I don’t mean to in any way downplay the value of generalship, you know, tactics, strategy, individual valor or anything like that.
I just think that engineering in general is underrated in its impact on the outcome of wars.
So it’s, it’s, you know, to be clear, it’s just, I’m just trying to adjust for the importance of technology in, in, in warfare that that is often overlooked as an important factor.
For example, Sun Tzu, Art of War, there is no chapter on technology.
I mean, that’s, that’s an interesting book. I read that. I’ve read that many times. And, but there are lots of interesting elements to it.
A lot of wisdom there, but…
I don’t think Clausewitz deals with it either now that I think about it.
Yeah, no, exactly. Typically, Clausewitz on war really is, alludes to it, but does not really, there should be a chapter saying, if you have a decisive technology advantage, you can actually win with minimal casualties.
To your side, at least. And you mentioned earlier in the conversation, the war with Prussia against Austria, they had fast loading guns and Austria did not. That was a big, big, big difference.
Was that the needle gun?
It was, I forget, this is like now 30 years…
A precursor to the needle gun.
It was like 30 years ago. Essentially, the firing rate that Prussia had against the war with Austria was dramatically higher.
And so the effectiveness of the troops is really, like in one video game, you’d say, for any given weapon, what is the damage per second? DPS. Just boil it down to DPS.
And in the Napoleonic Wars, for example, the British had rifles. A rifle is just basically scoring the inside of the barrel to rotate the bullet.
Yes, that’s what the rifling is, right?
Yes, rifling is basically just, you score the inside of the barrel with rotation to put the spin into the bullet.
Sorry, I got a little X here. So it might have like little baby sounds.
That’s okay. I like that.
Before comedic relief.
Anyway, so the British had rifles in the Napoleonic Wars, especially towards the end.
And it’s a situation where it sounds like the rifles weren’t enough to really make a difference, but actually they did.
Because I think they had maybe a couple hundred meters extra range.
And the British would snipe the French officers.
And the artillery pieces.
And the artillery pieces, exactly. So you don’t actually need a lot of, they’re basically early day sniper rifles.
Right. And they were given to units that were like sniper units because your average soldier carried the unrifled musket.
But you’re right, the specialist units carried the, and we did that in this country too.
But if I recall, correct me if I’m wrong, you almost had to like hammer the bullet down the barrel.
I mean, it was a long reload process in a day when it was already a long reload process.
Yeah, the rifle had, I think it was a while before the rifle reload time was faster than the basic musket ball reload time.
I think that’s the war you just talked about, the Austrian-Prussian one, right?
I mean, I think that’s what part of it, was it bolt action?
Something was going on there that allowed the rate of reloading to go faster.
Exactly. This is literally 30 years ago that I write about it.
But it was a decisive element because it just meant the damage per second or damage per minute of the Prussian forces was much higher than the damage per minute of the Austrian forces.
You could also lie down where, because then you didn’t have to stand straight up for reloading,
which meant you got away from the linear warfare of the Napoleonic Revolutionary War era and all that.
Yeah. I mean, the whole idea of standing up and just firing musket balls at each other seems insane to me.
Like the death lottery and with a high chance of winning.
Yes. Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.
But anyway, I just say, there’s just examples of the British use of rifles towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars was much more decisive than it would seem based on the sheer number of rifles
because they specifically aimed at the French officers and at the artillery.
And so that’s like, that’s like giving, you know, if you lose your officer, you don’t know what to do.
But I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, I think that rifles…
It’s the equivalent of a headshot, you know.
I don’t think anyone had a monopoly on rifles. I mean, I think that’s how Lord Nelson, the famous admiral, was shot, wasn’t he?
He was shot by a, well, that might not have been a rifle. He was shot by a French guy in the rigging of an enemy ship.
But you’re right. That’s the taking out of the officers. If you could kill one Lord Horatio Nelson, how many average sailors is that worth?
By the way, I think Wellington is underrated.
Well, as an Irish guy, I’m going to agree with you.
OK, well, listen, is there anything, because, you know, you and I have been talking about doing this for a long time.
Is there anything we didn’t talk about that was part of what you wanted to get into here?
And this includes you too, Bill. I don’t know what you wanted to get into.
But I want to make sure that during the course of the conversation, we touch upon these things.
I mean, there’s so much I could still ask you about.
I mean, I wrote down chemical warheads on V2 rockets.
Did I lose you guys? Are you still there?
Are you guys objecting to the fact that there was no actual question in that question?
You guys thought you were going to get questions?
I didn’t know if we actually addressed the last topic change, Dan, or if we kind of hopped around.
Well, hop back.
Well, I don’t know exactly where we were headed on it, but it was kind of interesting.
I mean, I think Elon was basically saying it’s all these different aspects.
It’s the tactics and the generals and the bravery with the engineering.
It’s an interesting lens to look at through and talk about it.
That’s kind of what I was thinking back to.
Well, I mean, so maybe one could make the case that we’ve seen the ratio of importance of all those various elements,
generalship, heroism, engineering.
We’ve seen the ratio and the importance in the terms of a triage level may be changing over time.
Maybe this gets us into a nice bow tie with the beginning of the conversation about the importance of science and engineering once you reach the late 19th, early 20th century.
When the rate of change of technology is high, such that there is a big technology difference between one side and the other, then technology dominates and you get a lopsided victory.
But then what happens in Afghanistan?
You see what I’m saying?
I think that what you’re saying makes sense most of the time, but there are enough examples we can use that just say otherwise it would be why even fight the war, right?
It’s a foregone conclusion.
How come it didn’t win in Vietnam?
There’s other elements, right?
Well, the U.S. just does not engage in unrestricted warfare.
By no means do I suggest that everything America does is good.
I’ll probably get a lot of flack for saying this, probably a lot, but I actually think America is the greatest force for benevolent outcome of any country in history.
On balance, that doesn’t mean everything America does is good.
You could always say America went to the moon.
Why can’t America do everything?
It’s like, look, America is like a person.
A person might do something brilliant, but it doesn’t mean everything they do is brilliant.
But because here in America, we aspire to be the good guys and may that ever continue.
If the warfare is truly allowed to be unrestricted, you can just carpet bomb the enemy until they’re not there anymore.
I mean, we could use nukes.
But let’s not pretend that that’s a moral question always.
I mean, the reason you don’t nuke North Vietnam is because then you’re going to risk the full-on nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.
I mean, in other words, you might have wanted to turn North Vietnamese territory into glass, but it might not have been an option on the table, right?
There’s multiple factors going into all these decisions that constrain your options, right?
Yeah, but nukes would not have been required to defeat the Viet Cong.
That could have been done with conventional weapons, but it would have resulted in a lot of civilians dying.
So the question is, are you willing to kill large numbers of civilians?
The United States is not willing to do that.
So therefore, loss.
I’m thinking of Korea, and I think we destroyed almost all those villages and ended up in a stalemate.
I think there’s an interaction going on here, and I think that the technology is just one aspect of this.
But I do believe, and I think this is something you’ve alluded to, that as the technological sophistication becomes so overwhelming and so dominant, that it starts to shrink the importance of all those other factors that we talked about that play into the overall equation, right?
Like you said, if it’s laser beams versus cavemen, that’s a pretty decisive situation.
Or even, yeah, if you simply have air superiority and you don’t have the advantage of extreme ground cover in a heavily jungled situation, just having air superiority, you’re going to win.
It depends on what win means, too, right?
It depends on what win means.
But yeah, I mean, certainly no question the United States could have won the war in Vietnam if it had the will to do so and was willing to do a lot more civilian casualties.
But I mean, I think that would not be a good thing.
But the United States just doesn’t believe in – the United States cares about if lots of civilians die.
This is actually relatively unusual.
In all the wars in all the history and all the protagonists, most of them did not care about killing civilians.
The United States does.
And it may never be that way.
Now, you’ve got my brain.
So this is what I like about these conversations is you’ve got the wheels turning now.
So now you’ve got me wondering about technology in the Second World War, if the other side had developed it first.
We all know the Germans were working hard on jet aircraft.
I would say jet fighters or jet bombers, but apparently they couldn’t make up their minds.
So let’s talk about the nuclear weapons.
We know that there’s some rumors of the Japanese working on them, but we know that the Germans would have liked to have gotten them.
So if they had gotten them first, realizing that there were not many bombs even when we had them, how much of a difference does that make if in 1944 –
I don’t want to say 1945 because I think the war is over already.
Let’s imagine during a time period where there’s still something going on.
How decisive is something like that if the Germans get the atomic weapons first, in your mind?
They win, of course.
Do you think so?
Hmm. I wonder because they got the V-2 rockets, right?
No, no, but the damage potential – I mean, think of it this way.
If they have both long-range rockets.
The V-2s and the – yeah.
The other side just lost 100%.
I still wonder why they didn’t – I mean, look, when you realize that that regime was so terrible that nothing is beyond the pale of what they might do.
I don’t know why in 1944 they didn’t just say, we have all this territory we’re occupying.
If you don’t want something really bad to happen to all these occupied people, you know, you’ll come to the negotiating table right now.
I mean, I always wonder why things didn’t – if a science fiction writer were having some fun with that, they’d be holding, you know, whole countries hostage for a good deal.
And maybe that dovetails into something you said earlier, but you really think it’s game over if the Germans get –
is there a time period where they could get nuclear weapons where it’s too late?
I mean, if they get them in January 1945, is it too late or is it such a game changer it doesn’t matter when they get them?
Well, if they’ve lost air superiority, then I think it would be tough.
They lost that in 43 probably, don’t you think?
Not fully, no.
They didn’t have it over Britain or whatever, but they – I don’t think they lost air superiority in 43 over Germany or in that area.
It basically – it’s like you need a delivery vehicle.
And that’s either got to be a long-range bomber or a long-range missile.
So – but, you know, it’s – you know, clearly they wouldn’t have bothered using troops on Stalingrad if they had a nuke.
They’d be like, oh, that used to be a city, not anymore.
Well, now I want to ask a question that might be a good time to wrap this up because it might be a good – so I’ve always – it’s always been my contention that the Germans of the First World War were a stronger power and a more formidable foe than the Germans of the Second World War.
And one of the reasons I always used was that the Germans in the Second World War deliberately got rid of a lot of the things that would have helped them in the Second World War for reasons that had nothing to do with military superiority at all.
So, for example, a lot of Jewish people fought patriotically for Germany in the First World War.
A lot of those same Jewish people that would have done it in the Second World War were in other countries by the time the Second World War was fought because they weren’t welcome at home.
And that’s saying it mildly.
But you take a guy like Einstein – and we know there were several besides Einstein who would have been involved in assuming that they were patriotic Germans fighting for the German cause as they would have in the First World War.
A guy like Einstein and his compatriots might have been helping the Germans develop atomic weapons.
How much of a difference do you think it might have made had the people that were in the U.S. atomic weapons program or the U.S. space program or anything like that –
if they’d stayed in Germany and had fought and used their scientific skills for that side as opposed to our side.
How much of a difference does that make in your mind?
I think that would have made a tremendous difference.
And the person you’d want is not Einstein but Leo Szilard.
Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So, Szilard was the one who really was pushing the nukes.
And frankly, I think there were others that kind of knew – there were probably a fair number that knew this would probably work but they did not want to send their mind in that direction.
But Szilard – and I believe Szilard was Hungarian.
So, if – you know, they literally had him right there.
Yeah, guys like Fuchs though. Claus Fuchs was there. I mean, there are people like that too, right?
So, you know, if they’d gotten – if they had in fact not been anti-Semitic and just generally alienated a lot of people and pushed apart –
To say the least.
Then there’s a good chance Germany – I would say Germany probably would have had the nuke before anyone else. Yeah.
Is there anything, Elon – and this applies to you too, Bill – is there anything I didn’t get into that’s an interesting piece of information on this subject we’ve been dealing with that I just either didn’t ask you about or was not intelligent enough to even know it was sitting out there in plain sight?
I always hate to just leave anything on the table. So, what haven’t we dealt with that would have been intriguing?
Well, I mean, we could certainly talk for a long time and I’d be open to talking again in the future if you’d like.
But, man, there’s so much we could talk about.
Well, you know what? You can save it for next time then. This gives us a wonderful jumping off point next time and I hope, Bill, would be nice enough to join us as well.
Sure. We could drill maybe into more specifics about particular battles and that kind of thing.
Well, we could maybe get into some of the things you guys wanted to talk about instead of my pet issues also.
Yeah, no, I mean, we were just basically trying to emphasize that, you know, in some conflicts, technology and engineering, these were kind of engineering wars.
And that is often overlooked, as you mentioned, not in Sun Tzu, not in Klaus Witt’s own war, but obviously extremely decisive if you have, you know, a big technology advantage.
Maybe that’s the fun part to jump off next time.
I’ll do some research and try to find out when you first start seeing discussions of technology advantages and whatnot in the written historical record, that might be fascinating.
Well, isn’t that poem, I forget the exact terminology, whatever else matters, we have the Maxim gun and they do not.
We’ve got the Maxim gun and they have not.
Well, you know, it’s funny because there was some stuff written and I’d have to look it up.
I remember reading it in Arthur Farrell’s book on warfare where he was talking about as the Roman Empire is starting to decline.
They were starting to push some ideas or some people, their versions of Elon Musk were starting to push ideas of secret weapons and super weapons and ways that they could somehow compensate for the other areas in warfare that they were losing,
whether it’s territory where they could recruit soldiers from or what have you.
And it was stuff like, you know, scythe chariots and all kinds of interesting.
We all know that they had Greek fire and a bunch of other interesting things.
Be fun to look at the impact of technology in earlier warfare before we could even really recognize it as technology.
Totally. In my opinion, the Romans won their wars for many reasons.
But one of the decisive elements was the Romans were the best engineers.
Absolutely. It’s like Assyrians were great engineers, too.
Yeah, I know.
The Chinese always.
I know this about that, but the Romans really were great engineers.
And I mean, they’d lay down roads and it’s like you’re trying to march somewhere.
Man, roads beat the heck out of some, you know, little windy path through the forest.
And, you know, it’s totally the non-sexy side of war, too.
But it’s so important.
You seriously need roads.
It was kind of a theme, the supply chain, like the octane, high octane fuel.
The roads gets the legions where you need them to fight the Celts.
The supply, you know, like didn’t Napoleon say an army marches on its stomach?
But I think maybe actually falsely attributed to Napoleon.
But it’s nonetheless true.
I have found that it’s dangerous for me to quote anybody anymore because everybody I’ve ever quoted
and every quote I’ve ever I’ve ever repeated seems to be wrong when people double check it.
So apparently nobody ever said anything to them in history.
That’s all I can figure.
I end up digging deep into the etymology of things for whatever reason.
As Claire knows, I literally bought etymology.com.
You did not.
I guess I judged you for buying that.
But then I realized you actually really do care about etymology.
I really do care about etymology.
Well, listen, I guess this means we have another show coming eventually.
Whenever, you know, with your spare time and your schedule, it’ll be in about 25 years.
But we’ll be right on.
We can go into the etymology of things like balls to the wall because that’s the potential.
Oh, that’s actually super interesting.
No, but just say that one.
Just say that one.
It’s so interesting.
The balls to the wall.
It is cool.
That’s a perfect thing to end on.
What is the etymology of balls to the wall?
Well, these days it may be confusing when you hear balls to the wall because presumably
you’re not suggesting that someone, if they’re, you know, have balls, put them on the wall
because why would you ever want to put your balls on a wall?
And so the etymology of this goes back to many different things.
Certainly in World War II, for example, balls to the wall would be max throttle.
So the tips of the throttle lever would be balls.
And so balls to the wall would be max throttle.
However, there’s something that arguably predates that, which is the way you would control a
steam engine was by having two balls spinning on a cable or a rod, I think cable.
And then depending upon how much throttle you wanted, you would either crank the balls
in or crank them out.
And so if you crank them out, balls to the wall would again mean full throttle for the
I don’t know how we didn’t start with that, man.
The whole balls to the wall situation.
I can’t put even like deeper into balls to the wall.
I sense an entirely new topic taking over.
Well, listen, listen, man, I’ve really enjoyed this.
I’ve enjoyed having all three of you on and let’s do this again soon.
Actually, one final etymology.
When you say to someone, give it the whole nine yards.
Do you know what that means?
Well, this is again a debatable etymology, but the one of the possible origins is the
length of an ammo belt in World War II was on the order of nine yards.
So giving it the whole nine yards means just emptying the entire ammo belt on it.
You know what you made me think of?
I’ll tell you what you made me think of, and it’s the craziest thing to have come from
what you just said, but I got a tour once of the Westminster School, which is attached
to Westminster Abbey in London.
And it’s been around since forever.
I mean, like the Middle Ages practically.
So they’re giving me the tour.
The students are giving me the tour.
And between classes, they have, it’s not a handball court, but it’s a place where they
kind of play something like handball.
And it’s in a specific area that just is, you know, where there’s walls to bounce stuff
off of and everything.
And the guy says to me, we have all these house rules.
Like if the ball goes over there, it’s two points.
If the ball goes over there, it’s out of bounds.
And I said, oh, I said, well, when did they make these rules?
He said, in the Middle Ages.
So all of the little house rules that they still played with, and you said balls to the
wall, that’s what it was.
It was a ball on the wall.
And all I could think of was, here are a bunch of students today who have no idea really
of history or anything like that.
And yet they’re playing a game where the house rules that they still play under were invented
I just thought that was hilarious.
I could go on and on about the word order.
Que sera, sera.
No, no, no.
No, literally no.
No que sera, sera?
Que sera, sera is not Spanish.
It’s English stolen from Latin.
About 500 years ago.
This is like a Wikipedia hole for like two hours.
And it means nothing like the Latin phrase.
Do we want to know what it means or is this something you’d better leave the audience
Well, que sera, sera is like whatever will be, will be.
But it’s actually technically an English phrase because it was bastardized from Latin.
But the phrase in Latin doesn’t mean the same thing.
And a lot of people think it’s Spanish or Italian or something like that.
But it’s actually an English phrase that’s been used for like 500 years.
And it actually, it means, it basically implies a cheery fatalism.
My thanks to Elon Musk and Bill Reilly from SpaceX for coming on the program today.
And you know, it was funny as I was listening to that during editing.
It reminded me of my concept of hardcore history when it first appeared in my brain
before we’d done any work and it had evolved in any way, shape or form.
I’d thought about it as a continuation of the sorts of conversations that we used to
have as history geeks when I was a history major in college.
And questions like, would you rather be the better pilot in the inferior aircraft
or the inferior pilot in the superior aircraft?
I mean, that kind of thing, in my head, I thought, okay, this is what we’ll do
with this hardcore history thing.
Now, it didn’t obviously go in that direction.
But this is the kind of thing where I could talk about this all day.
This is the light conversation I like to have, which is my sister always says,
you’re so weird.
But, you know, there are worse things, right?
Speaking of, you know, the strange and perhaps hard to purchase for,
for the holidays, you know, you may have a loved one or family member
that you’re having a hard time finding a good gift for them
because they’re interested in the extremes of the human experience
and you just can’t get that at the local big box store always.
You can get it off our website, though.
The old shows that are no longer on the free feed are available from the website.
You can, we have a new system to purchase them, too,
if you want to use it called the Glow System.
Should make it easier for people with certain kinds of podcast players.
We have gift certificates for loved ones.
We have some new merch with new designs that is just, you know,
dropped T-shirts, hats, that kind of thing.
So if you’re interested in all that stuff, it’s out there, dancarlin.com.
I won’t go into it too deeply just to say that there are some, you know,
some illnesses and infirmities in the family right now that are preventing me
from getting to the big hardcore history recording,
which never goes as quickly as we’d like anyway.
So I apologize for the lateness of it all.
Not just that, but it’s one of those topics that we’re trying to be very careful with.
A little incendiary in our current zeitgeist, for lack of a better word.
So apologies. Patience, please. We’ll get to it.
And hopefully you think it’s worth it when we do.
Finally, I do want you all to know, and I mean this,
I mean, people say things all the time that are just sort of platitudes.
It’s been, historically speaking, a hard last two years for us all.
I mean, on a global level. I don’t know what the next year holds.
But, you know, I hope it’s better for all of us.
And I think here’s the thing, you know,
history can obviously break any number of different ways,
and I’m a little pessimistic usually, so I always assume the worst.
But let’s not forget that things can turn on a dime in strange directions.
And that means directions that are improvements for all of us as well.
Whatever you might consider improvements to be.
Regardless, let’s remember whatever your beliefs, your thoughts,
wherever you may live, and whatever your circumstances.
Believe it or not, as strange as this sounds,
as much of a platitude as this sounds, we’re all in this together.
And I always like to think that if you and I, whomever you may be,
simply sat down over a cup of coffee or tea or something,
we could have a good conversation, find commonalities,
and ways to get along and enjoy each other.
And that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
And that’s coming from a person who’s basically pessimistic.
So, if you’re optimistic, the sky’s the limit.
Stay safe, everybody. Have a wonderful 2022.
And I hope I’m talking to you a lot over the next year.
Support us with Patreon by going to patreon.com forward slash Dan Carlin
or go to our donate page at dancarlin.com forward slash DC-donate.
You may have heard me talk about Battle Guide virtual tours recently.
It’s a group of folk in Europe who were doing live tours when COVID hit
and had to try to figure out, like so many other people,
how you reimagine a business during a time of a pandemic.
And they came up with something that it’s one of those things
that you never would have thought about it if you hadn’t been forced to
because of something like the pandemic.
But because you came up with the idea, it’s a brilliant idea.
And it brings battlefield tours to all sorts of people
who couldn’t be expected to make it out to all those battlefields in person.
And even if you’re lucky enough to make it to one or two,
wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to 20 or 30?
Maybe you could do that virtually.
And now with Battle Guide virtual tours, you can.
It’s one of those things you kind of have to see to get a sense of.
But basically, they combine satellite and drone imagery,
a live historian, eyewitness accounts, period footage.
I mean, it’s all blended together to give you a real sense of a given battle
and what’s going on and what the challenges are
and what it was like on the ground
and visually give you a real sense of what you’re seeing.
It can be notoriously difficult sometimes to get a real sense of.
This is probably the best way to do it.
And if you want to get a sense of what that’s like,
throwing my name around can get you a 50% discount right now
if you go to battleguide.co.uk forward slash Dan hyphen Carlin
and get a look at it and just see what we’re talking about here.
There are two kinds of tours, basically.
The live ones where if you catch it when it’s going on, you can participate.
It’s a Q&A kind of thing, and it’s happening while you’re watching.
But then those things are saved to be accessed later,
and you can go watch all the previous tours
and access it that way at your convenience also.
Lots of different options, including gift certificates for people
that might be a little bit difficult to buy gifts for, find something unusual.
Maybe they’d like a gift certificate giving them several battlefield tours.
But as I said, why don’t you take the 50% offer here
and check it out for yourself at battleguide.co.uk forward slash Dan hyphen Carlin
and take a virtual battlefield tour yourself at Battleguide Virtual Tours.