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Warship Wednesday Nov. 25, 2015: The enduring monitor of the Amazon

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Nov. 25, 2015: The enduring monitor of the Amazon

Note the sat dish

Note the sat dish and Jet Ranger

Here we see, stationed deep in the Mato Grosso region of the Amazon Rainforest around Morro da Marinha, near Fort Coimbra, is the unique inland river monitor Parnaíba (U17).

Laid down in 1936 on the Isle of Snakes at the Brazilian Naval Yard (Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro) as part of the Brazilian Navy’s modernization program on the eve of WWII, Parnaíba is a traditional name for that fleet with no less than four predecessors carrying it back well into the 19th Century.

Parnaíba was an important vessel, with President Getulio Vargas himself attending the keel laying.

Pre-1960, note the 6" forward mount. That's a big gun for a 180-foot riverboat

Pre-1960, note the 6″ forward mount. That’s a big gun for a 180-foot riverboat. She also has a very British tripod mast and fire-control tower.

She was built with English assistance, her power plant included 2 Thornycroft triple expansion boilers while her armament consisted of a single 6″/50 (15.2 cm) BL, a pair of Royal Ordnance QF 25-pounder (3.45″/13cal) howitzers and, for defense against small boats, a pair of 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss singles. Some 180-feet long, Parnaíba could float in 5-feet of freshwater. To protect her topside she was given 38mm of armor on deck and around her bridge while a 3 inch belt protected the engine room, waterline and machinery spaces.

Commissioned 4 March 1938, Parnaíba proceeded inland to join the Flotilha de Mato Grosso as the fleet flag.

Peaceful riverine service ended in late 1942 when she was rushed to the coast upon Brazil’s entry into World War II.

Her armament updated with four single 20/70 Mk 4 Oerlikons and some depth charge racks, Parnaíba was used extensively for coastal patrol, then as the guard ship at Salvador-Bahia, and escorted at least five coastal convoys on the lookout for German U-boats and surface raiders which, gratefully, she never encountered. Her hull was thought too shallow to catch a torpedo, she was considered strong enough to fight it out in a surface action if push came to shove.

On 29 Nov 1943, Parnaíba greeted the fresh new battleship USS Iowa on a brief visit to Bahia just days after that leviathan dropped President Roosevelt off at Oran, Algeria. The next day she escorted Iowa back out after a night of festivities.

Parnaiba U17-02

The rest of her wartime experience were even more quiet though she did sortie out ready for action and to search for survivors when the Brazilian cruiser Bahia was lost in July 1945. Thought sunk at first by a rogue German U-Boat but later confirmed Bahia was destroyed in a freak accident by her own depth charges.

Landing her depth charges and sailing back up river in October of that year, Parnaíba has maintained her place in the Amazon area ever since.


In 1960, she was overhauled and a U.S. 3” /50 Mk 22 and two 40 mm/60 cal Mk 3 Bofors replaced her dated 25-Pounders and 6-incher though her Oerlikons were saved as they were still useful and her Hotchkiss popguns kept for saluting.


A subsequent series of overhauls between 1996-99 saw her six decades-old engineering suite removed (and put on museum display), replaced by a more modern set of GM twin diesels. Racal Decca and Furuno 3600 radars were fitted as were more modern 40/70 Bofors in the old positions. A helicopter platform was also added for a light Jet Ranger or A350-sized whirlybird.

She also carries multiple 7.62 and 12.7mm machine gun mounts as well as 81mm mortars to drop it like its hot in a region that sees a good bit of smuggling and the occasional excitement.



Note the 20mm over the fantail, right out of the Battle of Midway. Also note that Brazilian LSOs wear the same color float coats and everything as in the USN

Her current fodder of 76mm and 40mm rounds. Her crew still drills with both and her WWII-era Mk 22, other than on some ships of the Thai and Philippine navies, is the last in functional use on a warship

Her current fodder of 76mm, 40mm and 20mm rounds. Her crew still drills with her WWII-era Mk 22, and other than on some ships of the Thai and Philippine navies, is the last in functional use on a warship

Ahh, don't these belong as hood ornaments for WWII submarines?

Ahh, don’t these belong as hood ornaments for WWII submarines? How many thousands of man hours have been put into polishing that bright work over the past half century?

A 40mm will still make mincemeat of a low-flying plane or helicopter as well as ruin a small boat (or ashore guerrilla hangout)

A 40mm will still make mincemeat of a low-flying plane or helicopter as well as ruin a small boat (or ashore guerrilla hangout). Note the old school Hotchkiss in the far left of the picture.

If past history is any indicator of future events, odds are Parnaíba will be in service another several decades and she is regarded as the oldest commissioned naval ship still in active fleet use and not in museum status.


Celebrating her 75th year in service in 2013

Celebrating her 75th year in service in 2013

Brazilian Navy river monitor u17 Brazilian Navy monitor Parnaíba (U17) still in service

Below is a 2015 VERTREP operation where you get a pretty good view of the old girl

Most of these images in the post are courtesy the excellent Brazilian warship site, Naval Brazil and Defesa Aérea & Naval which have more information about this interesting vessel.


620 tons – Standard
720 tons – full load
Length: 55 m (180.4 ft.) oa
Beam: 10.1 m (33.1 ft.)
Draught: 1.6 m (5.2 ft.)
Two VTE engines, two 3-drum Thornycroft boilers, 70 tons fuel oil (As built)
Two 650shp GM 8V92 diesel engines, 90 tons diesel
Two propellers
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
Range: 1,350 mi (1,170 nmi; 2,170 km) (2500 km) 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 60-90
(As built)
1x 6″/50 (15.2 cm) BL,
2x 1 QF 25-pounder (3.45″/13cal) howitzers
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
1x 6″/50 (15.2 cm) BL,
2x 1 QF 25-pounder (3.45″/13cal) howitzers
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
4x 1 20mm/70 Oerlikons
Depth charges
1x 3″/50 Mk.22
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
2x 1 40/60 Mk 3
6x 1 20mm/70 Oerlikon
1x 3″/50 Mk.22
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
2x 1 40/70 M48
2x 1 20mm/70 Oerlikon
2 × 81mm mortar
Various machine guns

Aviation facilities: Helipad for IH-6B Bell Jet Ranger III or H-12 Squirrel (after 1996)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Who’d have thought Turkey had the No.2 largest submarine fleet in Europe?

Winston Churchill must be spinning at about 3500 rpms at this point. HMs submarine forces are tied in third place (hull-wise) with France and Greece.

Image via Navy Graphics:


Atomic Age bolt-gun: the Madsen M47

Just after World War II, with the world awash in new semi-auto and select-fire rifles and submachine guns, one European company decided it was a good idea to attempt to sell a dated, but excellent, bolt-action infantry rifle.

Who was Madsen?

In the 1890s one Captain Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen, (who later became the Danish Minister of War) founded the Dansk Rekyl Riffel Syndikat A/S, or Danish Royal Rifle Company in Herlev near Copenhagen, which more commonly carried his name, Madsen. The company’s signature product was the M1896/03/21/50 Madsen light machine gun, which still sees use around the (third) world today.

We've talked about this bad boy before...

We’ve talked about this bad boy before…

On top of this, the company made a line of Schouboe pistols in numerous calibers– some of which in .45ACP even competed against the Colt M1911 in the U.S. Army pistol trials. Speaking of which, Madsen even submitted a novel .30-06 recoil operated infantry rifle to the U.S. Army for testing in 1903, though the five prototypes, still in Springfield Armory’s museum, were prone to jam with the big aught-six.

Then came the more successful 20 mm AA Machine Cannon M/38– which zapped a number of hapless German Panzers in the country’s one-morning’s combat against the Nazi invaders in 1940 and then was captured and used by the Germans themselves on the Eastern Front.

These big truck-mounted 20mm guns were among the first "Technicals" and caught the Germans by surprise.

These big truck-mounted 20mm guns were among the first “Technicals” and caught the Germans by surprise.

Although the good Mr. Madsen passed on in 1917, his company survived through both World Wars in 1946, rising from the ashes of German occupation, attempted to rechristen their line with an updated version of their famous light machine gun (which was bought in small numbers by Portugal) as well as three new weapons.

The first of these was the 9mm M/45 submachine gun. This open-bolt burp gun ripped out 9mm at 850 rounds per minute. Using the same standard 50-round magazine as the Finnish Suomi, they were not successful.

madsen 45
Then came the simpler M46/50/53 series of 9mm submachine guns that garnered a number of international sales across Central America and Southeast Asia and is still produced under license as the INA Model 953 in Brazil.

madsen Madsen M-50 INA Model 953
While the first two new entries were forward thinking, the third gun was something of a throwback to an earlier time.

Enter the M47…

madsen m47 m1958

Read more in my column at Firearms Talk

Somewhere on Ft. Drum…

hk knife kill afghanistan

On Saturday May 14, 2011 while doing a combat patrol with my unit, 10th MTN 4th BDE 2/30th INF Charlie Co 4th Platoon 2nd Squad. We encountered a group trying to set up for an ambush for 1st squad. We were located in a small village called Kashmiry Pain near our COP in Baraki Barak Logarithm Province. Our sniper team saw two motorcycles carrying two Taliban with PKM machine guns. They didn’t see us so we set up for an ambush. Once they set up we opened fire killing a few guys. While checking one of them, he woke up so I jammed my knife in his chest and the tip broke off. Then he was shot in the face. I was surprised to see my knife broke. But it makes a good story. Climb to Glory Spc. Josh Michael

H/T U.S. Army WTF

That’s one muddy cat



Aleutian Islands Campaign, June 1942 – August 1943. Track at Amchitka on the Heavy Side. A U.S. Navy Consolidated PBY “Catalina” long range flying boat, raises, a veritable cloud of mud as it comes to rest on the muddy landing field at Amchitka, American advance base in the Aleutian Islands, June 23, 1943. U.S. Navy Photograph. Photographed through Mylar sleeve.

The Secrets to a Better Follow up Shot

Spending lots of time on the range this week with a lot of novice shooters. Here is a guide I put together to help them, maybe it can help others too. -Eg


The earliest Western example of a repeating firearm is a revolving arquebus, produced by Hans Stopler of Nuremburg in 1597. While I can’t tell you what Hans did two days after that invention, I am willing to bet that the first day after he invented it was dedicated to finding out how to come up with a faster follow up shot. As technology and our knowledge of firearms manipulation has evolved over the years, so has the techniques to get that faster, more accurate, follow up shot. These techniques can be divided into learned physical training, tactical foundations, and firearm modifications.

Physical Training

Before you move into manipulating any firearm, be sure that you are physically capable of its safe handling.

1. Do not limp-wrist your firearm. If you notice lots of failure to feed malfunctions while shooting a semiautomatic handgun, odds are you are limp-wristing. If you have a solid, stable grip on your firearm and are still seeing this problem, then you may need to work on your grip strength. This can be done through any number of grip exercisers available over the counter. These work by exercising the specific contracting muscles in your hand, wrist, and fingers, providing an increase in overall strength to those targeted areas. Remember, this in only a basic step, your primary areas of concern for in tactical foundations and firearms modifications.

Tactical Foundations

Now that you are sure you can hold and handle your firearm properly, work on the tactical foundations. These can be done in both safe unloaded dry firing and in live safe range practice.

1. Proper grip is possibly the most important foundation in firearms accuracy and manipulation. A good, safe, two-handed grip that is solid is fundamental. Most shooting doctrines advocate that the shooter should not force the firearm into one hand or the other, ideally keeping the weapon balanced with about 50% of the weight on each hand. Alternatively, some grips use a 60/40 balance but no more. Steady and reliable control of the firearm does not need a death grip or arms that look like Lou Ferigno. It needs firm and natural control from both hands, ideally with thumbs towards the target, with no ‘tea cupping’ tolerated.

2. Proper stance is right behind having a proper grip in your foundations. The most correct stance has been a matter of firearms writer’s articles bread and butter for decades. There are schools of thought that only the isosceles stance is the one to use. Just a large a group will preach that only the weaver and its modifications can be the one true stance of all ‘real’ shooters. No matter what stance you prefer, the best one is the one that makes you feel comfortable. Range practice with several different stances and evaluating the effects of each downrange will help you decide. Be able to move in your stance with multiple targets. You should be able to move to the left, with your left foot or to the right on your right foot and keep your sight picture stable. This only happens with a proper stance after the correct grip is obtained.

3. Sight alignment is essential in any aimed fire, and all fire should be aimed. Anyone can blaze away and empty a magazine in seconds, but are they actually hitting anything? Keep your eye on that front sight. Remember, it is impossible to keep the target, the rear sight, and the front sight all in sharp focus at once. Your front sight should be clear while the rear sight and properly identified target is slightly fuzzy. Once your first round fires, the sight will move, realign it as fast as possible and take your second shot as soon as the firearm levels back out and you have reacquired your target.

4. Trigger control will help any shooter tremendously throughout their shooting career. A steady and slow squeeze to the rear on the trigger with a proper sight alignment, stance, and grip should not move the muzzle of the firearm even slightly. The best way to judge if your trigger control is a problem for you is in dry firing. Take a safe and unloaded firearm and squeeze the trigger. If you are moving the firearm, you are pulling your muzzle off target. When making rapid follow up shots, many shooters forget this fundamental and slap the trigger to get that fast second shot. Always squeeze, never slap or your rapid-fire group will be all over the place. If your follow up shots do not have the same level of calm control that you showed with your first, slow it down and look at your trigger control.

5. Trigger reset, especially on double action firearms, is a pitfall that many shooters never even think consider. On the first shot of most DA/SA firearms, the trigger will have a much longer radius of movement and heavier breaking point. Once the shot has fired and the slide has cycled the trigger needs a much smaller movement and less pressure to fire since the hammer or striker has now been fully cocked by the recoil of the slide. Practice firing taking full advantage of this. Think of it as bang (let out trigger until you feel it click) bang (let out trigger until you feel it click) bang… instead of bang (let your finger all the way back up) bang. Once you figure this out, it makes your follow up shots cake.

Firearms Modifications

With you being fit enough to hold and fire your firearm, and having all the tactical foundations laid, there are some firearms modifications that can help speed up your follow on shots. It can be argued that if you have extra funds for your firearm that these should first be used in extra ammunition, range time, and training opportunities rather than in modifications. However, once you have the basic tactical and physical foundations, firearms modifications can help shorten your time between follow up shots further.

1. Recoil buffers have long been sold for semiautomatic handguns, shotguns, and rifles/carbines. These range from $7 small plastic cutouts the size of a dime, to 11-ounce heavy stainless steel tungsten buffers for AR-10s’s that can cost $135 or more. These buffers have been around for decades with mixed reviews. However, if you are trying to shave off microseconds and the buffer does not interfere with the mechanical reliability of the host firearm, they are an option.

2. Compensators and recoil reducers can be added to all three firearms types: shotguns, rifles, and handguns. Do not confuse a flash hider with a compensator/recoil reducer. A flash hider simply shields the muzzle flash but does not necessarily modify felt recoil. The reason for a flash hider is to reduce the dust and flash signature, such as on military style rifles, as seen from your target’s point of view– not to help the shooter. Compensators and recoil reducers direct the gas escaping from the muzzle, typically upward and outward, forcing the muzzle not to climb as much as normal. This helps regain sight picture and faster and enables a more rapid follow up shot. However these compensators, since they do project the muzzle gasses outward are decidedly unfriendly to bystanders and extra care is needed when on the range as well as in real life tactical scenarios.

3. Ammunition selection is important in factor in preparing for a quick follow up shot. Smaller caliber rounds in heavy platforms, such as heavy barreled .22LR pistols, pistol caliber carbines etc. have long been seen as causing an almost unfair advantage in rapid-fire situations. In situations where caliber cannot be changed, the ammunition itself can be downloaded. In recent years law enforcement agencies around the country have switched from standard buckshot and slugs to specially developed reduced recoil rounds. For decades, competition shooters have relied on wadcutters and other low-powered target rounds to speed up their shooting. Manufacturers such as Remington and Federal are now producing an ever-expanding field of reduced recoil ammunition that is still viable for defensive purposes. For example, if a .357 wheel gun user wants to shave an extra half second off their follow up shot, they can switch to Federal’s Premium Personal Defense Reduced Recoil 38 Special 110-grain Hydra-Shok that still has 244 ft-pounds of energy on target which compares nicely to the same company’s 129-grain +P loading’s 258 ft.-pounds.

4. Modern engineering improvements on firearm designs should be evaluated for their increased availably in reducing felt recoil, which translates into faster follow up shots. In handguns for instance, the .380 subcompact has been around since 1908 arguably. However new designs such as the Keltec PA3T and the Ruger LCP use a locked breech design when helps reduce muzzle flip over legacy platforms like the Walther PPK and FN 1922. The opposite can be seen in shotguns where new design inertia drive shotguns, being more advanced and easier to clean, actually have more recoil than 1960s era gas guns. In modern sporting rifles (.223/5.56mm AR platforms) piston rifles are all the rage, however mid-length direct impingement gas operating systems usually have a shorter linger time than long piston rifles, which of course can translate into a faster follow up shot.

5. National match and competition triggers with a short reset can also help with rapid shooting. Use that front sight, even at close range.

It sounds like a lot, but the follow up shot you perfect is one you can be proud of and just may save your life one day.

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