Monday, December 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Here is one from the bad idea bin. The Hanes Excelsior Percussion Cap Grenade. It was patented in 1862 by an W. W. Hanes for use in the American Civil War. It is a cast iron orb filled with gunpowder like the classic "Rocky and Bulwinkle" bomb. However instead of the classic open burning fuze, it is instead liberally covered with 10 nipples for percussion caps, which are small pressure sensitive explosives used to ignite a larger charge. It only took the detonation of one cap to set off the grenade, so if it were dropped or handled roughly it would certainly blow up inadvertently. And percussion caps are not always easy to use in the best of situations. To imagine Civil War soldiers in a trench, scared, hungry and being shot at using this thing without blowing themselves up is a stretch of the imagination. There is no record of their use in battle, so we can hope that no one was killed with this thing, either or purpose or on accident. Very few exist today.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Ohmylord its the Terminator. OK, no it is not. No, not IG-88 either. This is PETMAN from Boston Dynamics, the group that developed BIGDOG- the unmanned, cargo-carrying, four legged robot. It was not developed to infiltrate and destroy the remaining pockets of human resistance to the machines, but rather to test military protective clothing like the suits designed to protect the wearer from Nuclear, Chemical or Biological threats. PETMAN was designed to improve on earlier testing by making a robot that moves like a real person. It is six feet tall and weighs 180 pounds, like the average of soldiers. It also simulates heavy breathing and sweat when it is given long workouts (also like the Terminator, hmmm) Currently it still walks on a tether, but it will almost certainly be freed from that constraint soon. To help make it really creepy, it also glows from the chest and has no head, although plans are in place to add one, as seen below.
PETMAN is scheduled to be delivered to the Army some time next year.
Monday, October 31, 2011
This is the Fairchild XC-120 Packplane, a prototype cargo plane from the post-war era. The only one ever constructed, it was developed and built from a C-119 Flying Boxcar. It differed from the Boxcar by having a detachable cargo pod rather than an internal cargo bay. Below is a composite image of the pod being attached and the Packplane in flight.
The basic idea was to vastly decrease the time that an aircraft would have to spend on the ground loading or waiting to be loaded. Cargo pods would be preloaded by ground crews and taken to the planes and attached as soon as possible. The prototype was constructed by taking the fuselage of C-119B 48-330 and cutting it off just below the level of the flight deck. Then the landing gear were extensively modified. The wing mounted gear was extended towards the tail of the aircraft and two small wheels were added to the front of both to replace the nose landing gear that were now absent. The Packplane's four landing gear could be raised or lowered to facilitate the attachment of the cargo module, which had its own wheels. This was accomplished with a scissor-like frame, rather than hydraulics, as we might today. Below you can see the XC-120 in flight with no pod attached.
The XC-120 first flew on August 11, 1950. It was thoroughly tested and made the round of the airshows, but no orders were made and the project and the aircraft were eventually scrapped. If it had been accepted, production aircraft would have been designated the C-128. Designers planned a variety of wheeled pods for different types and amounts of cargo, some can be seen below and they are a little lacking in the streamlining area. I think it was an interesting concept and could have been useful. I also love twin boomed aircraft, they just look cool to me.
I would like to see the concept re-booted (maybe with a light turbine engine) as a multi-role aircraft. It could be outfitted with different mission pods like the Navy's LCS, albeit on a smaller scale. I could see a role for it as a light cargo lifter, transport, VIP transport, anti-submarine, or border/harbor patrol aircraft just for starters. Something like that could be advantageous, especially for smaller air forces that have many roles to fill with a small number of aircraft. How about a close air support bird with a targeting and weapons module? As nice as 12 or 13 forward firing .50 caliber machineguns sounds, that day is probably past us. But I could see a weapons module with targeting pods and side facing weapons like the gunships of the US Air Force being pretty useful. Perhaps heavy and/or large vehicles could be somehow slung and fitted with an aerodynamic fairing and carried, who knows?
For those of you who don't read too closely, this post is not about drunk chicks. I keep all those for myself. Instead, check out the pic below, you will likely need to click on it to read it.
Hee hee, an amusing modern take on the "blood chit" from WWII. I am not certain, but I believe the pilot seen here is in the RAF. The idea actually goes back much further, but that is were it got famous. Allied air crew, especially in the Pacific and Burma theaters would have a piece of cloth sewed into or onto their uniforms or flight jackets that had a message in the local language that they should assist pilots in distress. For those of you interested in the "real" thing, here is a blood chit from the American Volunteer Group, the famous Flying Tigers of WWII.
This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort.
Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue, protect, and provide him medical care.
another one reads:
"I am an American airman. My plane is destroyed. I cannot speak your language. I am an enemy of the Japanese. Please give me food and take me to the nearest Allied military post. You will be rewarded."
It is nice when you find out that there are other people out there who think like you do. Case in point, the Flashbang Bra Holster. Two of my favorite things, boobs and guns. On a more serious note, it is difficult for women to carry concealed due to the types of clothing they often wear. Skirts and women's' jeans do not always allow them use the In-the-pants holster with anything like the ease and concealment that a fella can. Also curvaceous ladies might not be wear a standard on the belt holster as comfortably since their hips are shaped so much differently than most men's. This can often lead to ladies who carry keeping their weapon in their purse which is less than ideal for several reasons. But holsters and carry methods are very personal and what works for one person does not necessarily work for someone else.
It is currently only sold on eBay. The holster costs $40 and is available for the Kel-Tec P3AT, S&W J Frame, S&W Bodyguard 38, Ruger LCP and Ruger LCR. It consists of a kydex holster and as you can see mounts to the bra with a leather loop. Apparently, there are a few options that the manufacturer has to attach it to various bras. There are several gun writers and bloggers (of the female variety) who have tried out the bra holster and most seem to like it. Use your google-fu if you are interested in more detailed information.
Here is a video of a young lady drawing and firing her weapon with the Flashbang holster.
Like many carry options, this one has pros and cons. It very well may represent a better way for some women to carry concealed. It likely can only support and conceal the lightest and smallest of weapons comfortably and safely, but you can't have everything. I would also say that revolvers used with this holster should probably be of the hammerless or shrouded hammer variety to avoid snagging on the bra or something more painful. Some have commented that it is terrible because it forces the woman to expose herself to draw her gun. Number 1- even if that is the case, it rather pales in comparison to the attempted mugging, rape, or murder that would occasion a firearm being drawn. Number 2, I imagine that most ladies could reach their weapon while only exposing some of their abdomen, which in the West is not usually cause for excitement. Some ladies that are less well endowed might not have the same concealment effect and of course, very tight or low cut shirts could also complicate matters.
In any case, I like to see innovation and it is good that the industry is trying to tend to the needs of female shooters, who are the fastest growing segment of the American gun buying public.
Oh, how about a pic of a real girl wearing it too:
"IR illumination burns longer, significantly increases the area of battlefield illumination and its performance is less sensitive to temperature and firing conditions compared to the standard visible light illumination,"
---James L. Wejsa, Chief of ARDEC's Pyrotechnic Tech and Prototyping Division.
As you can see, the outcome is striking. And it could make a huge difference to troops in harm's way. Of course, if the enemy possesses nightvision equipment, than the IR flare will benefit them as well, but that is not too much of a problem at the moment.
This is not the first IR illumination round though, they also exist for all US mortars, artillery, and I believe there is a 70mm rocket version.
From the Picatinny Arsenal:
"The M992 provides a capability not previously available to the Soldier that takes advantage of U.S. Armed Forces technology to improve night-time operation success," said Gregory Bubniak, Project Officer for 40mm Ammunition, Project Manager Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM-MAS). "It enhances night operation capabilities of troops equipped with night vision equipment, while producing minimal visual signature outside of the infrared spectrum. This will allow users to access the approximately 90,000 cartridges available in inventory. "
MISSION: Satisfy the Soldier Enhancement Program requirement set forth in support of development of a 40mm Infrared Illuminant Cartridge. To satisfy the immediate need for a round which will enhance detection and recognition of targets, as well as, extend maximum range for currently fielded night vision equipment. Visible light output will be minimum, thus reducing probabilities of location disclosure. To provide a 40mm Infrared Illuminant Cartridge to all units currently equipped with M203 Grenade Launchers and supporting night vision devices. Contractor: Thiokol TYPE: FFP License Agreement Required
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Today's subject of discussion is the Ampulomet- a Soviet anti-tank weapon from WWII. The word ampulomet comes from the (Greek- I believe) words "ampula" for a hermetically sealed glass container (as in a medicine ampule) and "metainie"meaning throwing. Therefore it is an ampule thrower. Which is exactly what it does. Except its ampules contain very flammable liquids. Also in Russian military lexicon there are the words "oghnemyot" meaning flamethrower and "granatomyot" for grenade launcher.
These weapons were used to stop the Nazi advance into Soviet Russia and then to push the Germans all the way home. Obviously, it is not the most advanced of weapons and likely was developed to give the Soviet forces in the period of Operation Barbarossa some rudimentary way to attack the Nazi fleet of vehicles. Its effectiveness is probably all over the board. It was likely very effective against the troops or open topped half tracks and kubelwagons (German jeep-type vehicles). However, I can see the ampulomet possibly being completely ineffective against a buttoned up tank, depending on how it was hit. I don't particularly like thinking about being a tank driver who has burning liquid streaming down the vision slits, though. That would be really bad.
The ampulomet rounds were, as you see above, made from spherical glass.I haven't found much information on how they were ignited, but it is possible that there were different systems as the war progressed and the Soviets became better supplied through Lend/Lease and their factories in the east. The rounds were apparently usually ignited in some fashion that did not involve use of an open flame. One ignition system was said to incorporate phosphorus pellets within the liquid so that it would ignite upon breaking. Another source states that a length of slow match with an igniter attached there are also reports of some ampulomet projectiles with a standard fuze lit with a match. Given the fact that WWII Soviet quality control was generally pretty poor, I would not want to be very near one of those.
I can only speculate on range and propulsion method. I imagine that the range was under 300 meters, probably more like 100-150, which would make it pretty dangerous to use, considering the other side had all those quick-firing MG42s and so-accurate 98ks, both with a longer effective range. There does not seem to be any apparatus to launch via compressed air, and that might not be the most efficient method in any case. Since the projectile is glass, I think that a gunpowder charge might be too strong for the glass. Accordingly, Internet rumor brings us a tale from a gentleman who purportedly witnessed an ampulomet demonstration and stated that about half of the projectiles burst upon firing, creating a huge ball of fire. Which would have the dual poor result of possibly showering the crew with burning gasoline and giving everyone on the other side something very attractive to shoot at.
edit: An alert reader (from the country that invented Molotov Cocktails) brought up the fact that a potato gun-like system would probably be the best way to launch the projectiles. Since I doubt the Soviet Union had ample supplies of hair spray, one of the most common propellant for simple, modern spudguns, I suppose they might have used some type of alcohol or maybe even gasoline or aviation gas.
A pretty neat weapon, not what one would want on a wish list, but a damn sight better than nothing and I for one am pretty impressed by the "out of the box" thinking that inspired the ampulomet.
Monday, October 10, 2011
The institution was founded as the Naval School by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. The campus was established at the site of a former US Army post called Fort Severn. The school's first class had 50 Midshipmen students and seven professors. later the USS Constitution was refurbished and used as a school ship for the fourth class midshipmen. The plebes were introduced to Navy life and and traditions while they lived on board the ship which usually at anchor.
The decision to establish an academy on land is said to be a result of the infamous Somers Affair, an alleged mutiny involving the son of the Secretary of War that resulted in his execution via hanging at sea.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Well, I thought the earlier one was a little understated (you know, for an oil selling dictator) and then I find this little beauty in my files. Looks like a older single action Beretta .32 to me, but I am not sure of the model type, especially with all those gems on it. I actually enjoy most "tarted up" guns, but this one makes me a little nauseous.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
USS Philadelphia, the only surviving gunboat built and manned by American rebels during the Revolution. Sunk by the British on 11 October 1776 in Lake Champlain.
Discovered and salvaged in 1935, in good condition due to the cold water. In addition to the guns and hull, hundreds of other items were recovered from the vessel including shot, cooking utensils, tools, buttons, buckles and human bones.
Here we have video of what was apparently the first F-35B vertical landing on a light carrier. Although Lockheed Martin vice president Steve O’Bryan has said that most F-35B landings will be purely conventional in order to reduce stress on the vertical lift components. The plan for the F-35B is to replace the AV-8B Harrier as the Marine Corps' VTOL aircraft for fighter and attack roles. In 2011, the USMC and USN signed an agreement that the USMC will purchase 340 F-35B and 80 F-35C while the USN will purchase 260 F-35C. The five squadrons of Marine Corps F-35Cs will be assigned to the Navy carriers while the Marine Corps F-35Bs will be used on Amphibious ships and ashore. Nice to see that the program is continuing to make progress.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Here is something you don't just run into every day. This is one of the model Roman galleys used in the production of the 1959 epic Ben-Hur. It is located inside the Baltimore Convention Center. (The Sheraton next door has awesome Maryland She-crab soup by the way) It was donated to the Mayor and citizens of Baltimore by the family of Peter S. Atsaides and renovated by the Vocational Education Department based on photos from the MGM archives and historical sources. Sorry about the quality of the pictures. This was only one of about a dozen large ship models in the Convention Center, including a very impressive model of the USS Constellation (the frigate, not the sloop-of war that is actually in the Harbor two blocks away)
I really liked the attention to detail on the ballista, catapult and my personal favorite, the ram.
BTW, unlike in fiction, the Romans did not usually use slaves to man the oars in their galleys. So there.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The Torsk is famous as the last US Navy vessel to sink an enemy warship in World War II. Torsk is one of the 26 Tench-class submarines built for the Navy in 1944-1951. Originally, there were plans to build 146 Tench-class boats, but 115 were cancelled after Imperial Japan's defeat. Only ten ever saw combat service in the war. The Tench class was an evolutionary improvement over the older Gato and Balao classes- larger, stronger and better laid out internally.
The Torsk was built in Portsmouth, Maine in the summer of 1944 and commissioned on 16 December 1944. Her first commander was Commander Bafford E. Lewellen.
She trained in the waters off New London Connecticut for two months and then sailed to Port Everglades, Florida to take part in antisubmarine research for four days. She then transited the Panama Canal and sailed to Pearl Harbor, arriving on March 23, 1945.
Torsk then began the work she was built for. She arrived off the northeastern coast of Honshu on May 13 and began her patrol after linking up with the subs USS Cero and and Sand Lance. Little was discovered other than Naval mines until the Torsk finally found an enemy ship, the very mine layer that had seeded the area with mines. She fired six torpedoes that the ship was able to maneuver away from and then she dove to escape the area. She then returned to Pearl Harbor for refitting and new equipment and began her second patrol on July 17. On August 11, after rescuing seven Japanese merchant seamen adrift from the wreck of the Koue Maru, she made her first kill, torpedoing a coastal freighter from periscope depth.
On August 14, Torsk sighted a 745 ton Kaibokan-class patrol escort vessel and its charge, a medium-sized cargo ship. She took up position near the mouth of the harbor at Kasumi Ko and launched a new Mark 28 torpedo at the warship. They scored a hit and the vessel rose some 30 degrees at the stern and sank quickly. Less than half an hour later the freighter attempted to enter the harbor and Torsk fired but missed, possibly hitting uncharted reefs. Torsk waited and another hour or so later another frigate was sighted, coming to reinforce the harbor. Torsk fired another Mark 28, having already been detected by the frigate. The order was passed to dive and rig for silent running by Commander Lewellen. She reached a depth of 400 feet, (which was getting close to as deep as subs of the era could dive) and launched another torpedo. This one was a Mark 27, able to acoustically home in on the enemy's propeller sounds. The crew heard the explosion of its impact on the frigates' hull and about a minute later, a secondary explosion and the tell tale sounds of a ship breaking up. The Torsk and her crew had proved themselves, sinking two enemy warships in one encounter. This would turn out to be the last Japanese warship sunk in the war. She was forced to dive due to patrolling enemy planes and ships, and remained submerged more than seven tense hours before surfacing and leaving the area.
One thing I have found amazing about subs I have been on is how busy and crammed the inside is. Everywhere you look there is machinery, bunks, gear. I can't imagine what it was like on a combat patrol with supplies and sailors everywhere. To be honest, the whole ship smelled like oil and diesel. Can you imagine what it was like with the engines on? How about with 81 dudes breathing and farting in it?
|(from Wikipedia) |
|Displacement:||1,570 tons (1,595 t) surfaced |
2,416–2,429 tons (2,455–2468 t) submerged
|Length:||311 ft 8 in (95.0 m)|
|Beam:||27 ft 3 in (8.3 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft (5.2 m) maximum|
|Propulsion:||shp (2.0 MW) submerged|
|Speed:||20.25 knots (38 km/h) surfaced |
8.75 knots (16 km/h) submerged
|Range:||11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h)|
|Endurance:||48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged |
75 days on patrol
|Test depth:||400 ft (120 m)|
|Complement:||10 officers, 71 enlisted|
|Armament:||10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes|
(six forward, four aft)
1 × 5-inch (127 mm) / 25 caliber deck gun
Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
USS Torsk received two battle stars for its service in WWII and a Navy Commendation Medal for service during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
She set the all-time record of career dives, at 11,884.