The World F.A.Q


What is The World

The World is the latest incarnation of a series of web projects that I began in some form or other in 1997 while I was still in high school, initially focused on modern military aviation. This was my first attempt at a website, using basic HTML and FrontPage Express but after a few years it was taken down as it was on my then-ISP's servers although I kept the site on file. In 2003 when in college, I decided to give it another go with the addition of World War II aircraft. Unfortunately, it was only online for a brief period of time before I took it down again since it was still quite incomplete. Almost simultaneously I began a different site focused on 20th century conflict, including history, statistics, maps and other resources. Some elements were finished and the site was online for a few years but was never more than a work in progress. Later, in 2005, I decided to rework the military aviation site using my newly acquired PHP/mySQL skills which would enable the site to be more interactive and database-driven. It existed for quite some time as AVIA Military Aviation ( before I took it down in 2011 as I was already planning to expand it to encompass more than just aviation. The result is The World, which was begun in 2013 and is an attempt to merge all my previous efforts into one site. I hope this time it lasts!

Why did you make this site?

Because I am big fan of military history and technology. This site is a labor of love and finishing it represents a major personal achievement, not only for the educational value that it represents but also because making it essentially tought me the skills of web programming which at some point in my life was even a source of income. Although there are innumerable websites dedicated to the topics that this site focuses on, I have found that there are sometimes severe limits to what you can find in one place. For example, nothing can compete with the sheer volume of information on Wikipedia, yet many entries for aircraft or tanks have data for just one variant. Likewise there is no truly comprehensive repository of statistical information that I am aware of. The objective of The World is to fill these niches and attempt to offer the most useful single source of statistical information on modern conflict available online.

How do you know that the information is accurate?

Well for starters, all the statistical tables on the site have their sources listed at the bottom and there is an extensive credits page which includes all the written and online sources used to compile the information on the weapons database and the resources section. With regards to the statistics, I have often modified, complemented, or combined the raw data in order to present it better than the original author. As far as the weapons database, to anyone who has looked around the myriad of aircraft, tanks or ships pages on the internet you will surely have noticed that not all sites share the exact same data; however that does not necessarily mean they are incorrect. Slight variations may exist when converting data between systems of measurement, likewise different specifications might have been reported to different sources. I have tried at all times to use the most authoritative sources such as Jane's or Conway's, or recognized experts in their fields like Bill Gunston, Christopher Foss, and others. However, there indeed may be glaring mistakes on this site and I would be extremely grateful to anyone who is kind enough to point them out.

Does this site have copyright?

Yes. You many not directly copy any of the text, such as the weapons database entires, to other sites without a reference (a link would be nice too) since it was not fun to make summaries for nearly a thousand military vehicles and then have them copy/pasted somewhere else. The same applies to the statistics, although in this case you should reference the original author(s) except in those few cases where the statistics have been compiled myself or singificantly modified, in which case you should reference this site as well. You may, however, use the pictures if necessary without asking. All pictures on this site have been grabbed off the internet and I am unaware if they have copyrights (I have deliberately avoided using pictures with copyright watermarks). The vehicle profiles pictures have been taken from the internet as well. Most of these I presume come from published sources in which case I invoke the fair use clause as this site is used for research purposes and does not make any profit. That said, if the copyright owner of any image hosted here wants credit for it or wants it removed, e-mail me and I will comply without question. But for the record, just because you scanned an image from a book does not mean you own the copyright to it. I have seen many otherwise excellent sites watermark pictures or claim copyright for images that I know for a fact they did not make and it's a detestable (and illegal) habit.

Are there any other legal disclaimers?

The usual. I will not be held responsible for any illegal or innappropriate use of the material contained in this site, as well as for any damages (financial or otherwise) incurred from use of this material even if it is erroneous, inaccurrate, incomplete or not up to date. I reserve the right to make any changes to this website and its content without prior notice. All content in this website comes from publically-available sources and is therefore declassified. I do not represent any governments, armed forces, or defense-related corporations and am not to be approached for anything resembling endorsements, contracts, or professional services related to the companies or products that are shown in the site. This site does not use cookies or collect any form of private information from users except that which is automatically collected from the hosting service. This site also does not make any use of revenue-generating features (such as ads or donations) and is intended solely for educational, research and entertainment purposes.

What do you do in real life?

My name is Rodrigo D. Aguilera, I am Mexican (from Mexico City) and in real life I'm a professional economist who works for The Economist Intelligence Unit (part of The Economist Group) in London. I do not have any formal military background, either academic or training aside from a stint with the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps (JROTC) while in high school in the US. I have a blog dedicated mostly to economic and political issues which is called and which occasionally I write something military-related. I also have an op-ed page on The Huffington Post on Mexico-related issues. I should also take this opportunity to add the final disclaimer that any opinion on this site is my own and does not reflect the editorial stance of The Economist Group.

Statistics F.A.Q.

Can you explain the Divisions & Campaigns tables?

The Divisions & Campaigns tables (currently only for World War II) are an attempt to summarize the campaigns fought by each division among the major combatants in as short a space as possible. There is a campaign description page which gives the dates and the description of each campaign, which correspond roughly in terms of duration and geographical scope to US Army campaign battle stars. This has been one of the most ambitious sections of this website as it has taken a tremendous effort to build those summaries, which essentially involve checking the combat history of each and every division. I believe they are mostly accurate for all the combatants except Germany, where the hundreds of Heer (Army) divisions have been impossible to fully check so take these with a grain of salt (the Waffen SS ones are accurate, however). At no point do I plan to do the same for Soviet divisions given that over a thousand were raised but a future endeavour will be to make similar lists for World War I units.

Weapons Database F.A.Q.

What is the advantage to using PHP/MySQL?

In its original incarnations, this site was simply a collection of HTML pages. However, the advent of dynamic web programming offers significant additional capabilities to a site like this. All data on the Weapons Database is exctracted from a MySQL database through PHP. This means I don't need to make a new page for each entry, I just simply add it to the database and the links appear by themselves. Aside from making life easier in the longer run (notwithstanding the colossal effort it takes to build it at the start!), it allows certain capabilities that other HTML-based sites simply can't offer. The most important and most obvious is the ability to instantly convert from metric to imperial measurements. The Tank Rankings are another excellent example of this as they are compiled entirely from existing data. The site is also partially constructed to allow for switching between different languages, although for the moment there is no immediate plans to add any other besides English. There are many more possibilies which will be further explored in the future.

What is your criteria for adding weapons to the database?

Only major weapons systems are included in the database. For aircraft this includes only those with a combat role or those which have been specifically built for military purposes so airliners used as transports or small jets used for utility craft are not included, nor are trainers with no combat capacity. For vehicles, I have excluded smaller AFVs, such as 4x4s used for MP or internal security duties as there would be too many to add them all. Local copies of foreign equipment are also excluded except in those cases where they were eventually significantly modified or built by a major power (mainly China). For ships, I will exclude smaller coastal combatants and amphibious craft. Ultimately some degree of discression is used and just because a particular weapon does not appear on the site today, does not mean it won't be added in the future.

Why don't you show the most recent manufacturer rather than the original?

The manufacturer shown on each weapon entry is the one that was in charge of its development and initial production. After that point, it is possible that it merged or was acquiered by another firm as has been the trend in recent decades. On many sites you will see the most recent incarnation of the manufacturer listed rather than the original, but I feel that it does not give an accurate indication of the weapon's origins so this site gives credit where credit is due. After all, there is nothing more strange than seeing a Tamiya scale model of a P-51 Mustang "licensed by Boeing" only because it owns the copyright despite having had no role whatsoever in this legendary plane's development. That said, there are a few cases where the ground is murky. For example, the M1 Abrams tank was designed by Chrysler but was taken over by General Dynamics just as it was entering production and is more commonly associated with the latter company. Even in this case, I will respect the original designer.

Where did you get penetration and protection levels for modern tanks?

In the past, it was easy to obtain information about a tank's protection simply by measuring the thickness of its armor and accounting for slope. However, the advent of composite armor in the 1970s has made things more complicated as any given thinkness is greater than its rolled homogeneous armor (steel) equivalent. Making matters worse is the fact that this information is almost always classified. I have used data from a now offline site called Tank Protection Levels by Jake Collins which makes estimates for most post-war tanks as well as estimates for the penetration levels of most ammunition types (some of these have been obtained through Jane's as well). A quick trawl around the forums (mainly the TankNet forums which is where Collins himself states that he got his data from) suggests that there is a lot of controversy and contention over these numbers. Unfortunately, posters seldom explain their reasons or give more accurate numbers themselves. Until such information is de-classified or someone else produces a more authoritative assessment, I will take these as fact.

Maps F.A.Q.

How did you make your maps?

At the bottom of the maps page are links to a few maps that I had made myself circa 2003-04 with the intention of making one for every major battle and campaign in World War II. However, making each one incredibly time-consuming (a few days of spare time equivalent each) and therefore not worth the effort considering the resources that are already out there on the internet, or the great military atlases made by Richard Natkiel which are as good and as accurate as they get. The maps were made using GMT 4.0, a publically available command-driven map making tool and later edited in Paint Shop Pro. At one point I decided to give it another go but I realized that I had not saved the batch files I used to make the GMT maps, and would basically have to learn again from scratch. Perhaps in some future when I'm bored I'll try again.