Happy Independence Day, 1918 flashback

You have to love the Springfield 1903.

Be careful this weekend. Lots of under-supervised barbeques and illegal fireworks. Not that I’m complaining or anything, just saying.

Boom!

 

Shirley Jane and the Buzz Bombs

P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt #42-26919 362nd fighter group 377 fighter squadron FTR October 26 1944 2

Here we see Captain Edwin O Fisher of the 377th FS/362nd FG, 9th AF, somewhere in liberated France (possibly Rennes-St. Jacques Airfield) in the fall of 1944. He plane is a Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt #42-26919.

Volunteering for the Oregon National Guard in 1936 at age 17, Fisher was accepted to the U.S Army Reserve’s Aviation Cadet Program when war came and by 1943 he was a rated fighter pilot flying the huge Thunderbolt over Northern Europe as a 1LT.

The P-47s often handled air to ground operations (hence the extensive truck and locomotive “kills” noted on Fish’s bird, the Shirley Jane III).

P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt #42-26919 362nd fighter group 377 fighter squadron FTR October 26 1944
Notice the outlines of the Flakzielgerät 76 (FZG-76) V-1 “Buzz Bomb” cruise missiles?

He got all of them on the same day, June 29, 1944, chasing them down and knocking them from the sky as they were on their way to deliver a huge load of explosives (nearly one ton of amatol each) somewhere in the British Isles.

As the V-1 ran between 350-400 mph at low altitude (under 3,000 feet) and the heavy 8-ton P-47 (its pilots often called it the “Jug”) could only beat that by about 50 mph or so at that level, it took some skill to pull off any Buzz Bomb intercept much less a three pack.


Gun camera footage of Fisher splashing the trio of buzz bombs over France

Besides the trucks, tanks, random German foot soldiers and buzz bombs, Fisher also had a chance to scrap with some of the Fatherland’s few remaining pilots.

In a 35 day period (July 5-August 9, 1944), Fisher swatted down a total of 7 confirmed kills on Luftwaffe Me109s and Focke-Wulf Fw 190s to become the 377th’s only ace of the war.

Fisher was killed just shy of his 30th birthday in a flying accident in an AT-6F Texan near Norristown, Pennsylvania, on March 28, 1947, while serving with the 64th Army Air Force Base Unit at Andrews Field, Maryland.

As for the 377th, it was a war baby squadron stood up in Feb. 1943 and disbanded on 1 Aug. 1946, its colors cased ever since.

A reader’s experience with setting the mail buoy watch

LSOZI reader Liam weighs in on the traditional blue jacket rite of passage with the great story below:

During a winter transit of the North Pacific en route to the Realm of the Golden Dragon (including the Viet Nam combat zone), somewhere west of Midway, as I was JOOD with the conn of the USS NICHOLAS (DD-449), the Boatswain Mate of the Watch requested permission to set the “Mail Buoy” watch. I accompanied him to the starboard wing of the bridge and briefed the new man, DCSN Wong, on his Mail Buoy Watch duties.

DCSN Wong was properly outfitted with foul weather jacket, safety harness, Mae West, helmet liner and binoculars. Some 20, or so, minutes later Wong (whose first language was not English) was heard shouting from his position near the top pf the haze gray portion of the mast, and pointing off the starboard bow. I asked the OOD to take the conn, in order that I might discover the cause of Wong’s excitement. When I reached the level of the mast where he was, and looked in the direction toward which he was pointing, there was a buoy, adrift in rough water in the middle of the North Pacific!

“Good man yourself,” I said as I raised my binoculars for a closer look (knowing that the captain would probably not appreciate holding a bumper drill, in such seas, to recover the buoy). After a moment’s contemplation as I focused my binoculars on the drifting buoy, I said. “That’s a mail buoy, alright, but, as you can see, the little mechanical flag has not been set. It’s just like a postman ashore raising the little metal flag on an ordinary mailbox to announce the presence of mail. Keep up the good work.”

About ten minutes later DCSN Wong reported to me on the bridge, saying “I now understand Mail Buoy Watch.”

[Being that I had worked, at age 16, as a temporary letter carrier, in deep snow, for the Christmas rush, I could somewhat identify with adjusting to new postal responsibilities.]

Wong and I got along famously after that experience. He would even help me translate letters written in Chinese, and some time later, before he left the ship (as a DC3), he presented me with a ship’s plaque, which he had fabricated in the DC workshop.

 

USS Nicholas, a hardy Fletcher-class tin can Circa 1968 underway to Vietnam as seen from the USS Intrepid (CVA-11). From the collection of Dennis H. Hough. Can you make out DCSN Wong through the spray? Image via Navsource

USS Nicholas, a hardy Fletcher-class tin can Circa 1968 underway to Vietnam as seen from the USS Intrepid (CVA-11). From the collection of Dennis H. Hough. Can you make out DCSN Wong through the spray? Image via Navsource

Are you on board with a Glock magazined rifle or carbine?

Sure, we all love our Glock handguns, and there are always the extended barrel kits to turn them into a carbine, but somewhere in that murky middle ground between your trusted handgun, and your favorite rifle is the pistol-caliber carbine– and wouldn’t it be great if they offered them in the same magazine options as your Glock. Well about that.

Why would you want one?

The short length and of the carbine when compared to a full sized rifle or home defense shotgun makes it more maneuverable in tight spaces such as hallways. The size also beings it into the realm of keeping stowed away as a “car-gun” in a trunk emergency kit. The lightweight characteristics of the type (as little as 4-pounds) allow one-handed use if the other hand is needed to manipulate cell phones, flashlights, doorknobs et al while moving through a structure.

The combination of a long barrel adds power to even mild-mannered pistol caliber loads, producing harder hitting impacts. The lower cost of handgun rounds vs. rifle rounds enables more training sessions per the dollar. The long action and butt-stock also mute the recoil considerably. Many people equate felt recoil firing a 9mm carbine to the same as a .22LR target rifle.

With that being said, lets look at what’s out there for the Glock fan in the carbine market (since Smyrna isn’t making one just yet!)

The Kalashnacon custom Glock AK pistol

The Kalashnacon custom Glock AK pistol

And their SBR version...

And their SBR version…

Kel Tec SUB 2000

Kel Tec SUB 2000

NFA in Nevada is making 9mm Glock magged AR lowers

NFA in Nevada is making 9mm Glock magged AR lowers

And of course, there are Just Right Carbines...

And of course, there are Just Right Carbines…

Read the rest in my column at Glock Forum

The shotgun that hits like a rifle: Marlin’s 512 Slugmaster

When the sabot slug hit the U.S. market in the late 1960s, it provided impetus for shotgun makers to design guns able to maximize the potential of these new rounds that could provide rifle-like accuracy out to a football field or more, effectively doubling the reach of the standard scattergun. This led to the Model 512

Marlin’s flirtation with slug-guns

Connecticut-based Marlin had been in the shotgun biz going all the way back to the 1890s. As the industry evolved so did the company, moving from black powder shotguns to smokeless guns with stronger steel. Then 16 gauge came and went as the 12 gauge rose to lead the market.

By the 1930s, the “European slugs” of German ammo designer Wilhelm Brenneke were being used in North America by knowledgeable gamesmen alongside domestic Foster slugs and individually made 1-ounce “pumpkin balls” of cast lead stuffed into re-purposed hulls. These generally would stretch out the range of a shotgun from the typical 20-30 yards with the 2.5 and 2.75-inch buckshot loads of the day to 50 yards or so.

Then, sabot slugs (French for “shoed”) which used a plastic sleeve to hold a bullet-like slug down the barrel and discarded shortly upon leaving the muzzle, came to the U.S. by 1966 and, with the promise of being able to make the vaunted 100-yard “football field” shot from a shotgun, makers began to make dedicated slug guns.

First up from Marlin was an incantation of their Model 55 bolt-action shotgun. The Model 55 was first introduced in 1954 by Marlin, and was a novel bolt-action design for the company.

(The Marlin 55S slug gun from the 1970s. You can see the 512's family resemblance below)

(The Marlin 55S slug gun from the 1970s. You can see the 512’s family resemblance below)

Using a one-piece uncheckered American walnut stock with a pistol grip and butt pad, it looked more like a rifle than a shotgun. It used a two-round detachable box magazine that would hold standard sized 2 3/4-inch shells, and it seemed a good idea to make a subset of these bolt-guns to shoot slugs. Dubbed the Model 55S slug gun, it was equipped with 24″ cylinder bore barrel with rifle sights replacing the more traditional gold-bead shotgun sight and just over 4,000 were made before 1983.

In the 1970s, the Model 120, long regarded as Marlin’s best attempt at a modern pump action magnum chambered 12 gauge, was marketed complete with a 20-inch slug barrel variant. This barrel, like the 55S, had rifle-like sights and remained off and on in production until the mid-1980s. While it was nice, it could be better.

Enter the Model 512 Slugmaster…

18358821

Read the rest in my column at Marlin Forum

Warship Wednesday June 24, 2015: The hard times of a peacetime tin can

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 June 24, 2015: The hard times of a peacetime tin can

Here we see the Crosley-class high speed transport USS Ruchamkin (DE-228/APD-89/LPR-89), at sea sometime after 1963. The type of taskings for the Ruchamkin from 1945-69 were the same laundry list of fleet services that are forced on today’s LCS type vessels.

Originally laid down as one of the 252 planned Rudderow-class destroyer escorts, her original mission was to bust subs, kill torpedo and patrol boats, capture random enemy merchant ships threaten enemy destroyers and cruisers with her own steel fish and show the flag as required. Just under 1,800-tons and 306-feet long, these hardy ships would be classified as sloops or corvettes in other navies, but the term destroyer escort seemed a better fit for the USN and their pair of 5 inch /38 dual purpose mounts, 4 x 40 mm Bofors, 10 x 20 mm single mount Oerlikons, torpedo tubes and depth charges allowed them to punch out of thier weight class.

However the war outstripped these ships, with the first, USS Riley (DE-579) only commissioning in March 1944, just 22 of these tin cans were completed as DEs.

Another 50 were completed to a modified design and purpose– that of the high speed transport (APD). You see with the Pacific island hopping campaign in high speed in 1944, the Navy realized these DEs could float in just 11 feet of seawater, which meant they could get pretty close into old Hirohito’s backyard. To maximize their usefulness, these ships were redesigned from the stack back with the aft 5-incher and torpedo tubes never fitted and davits for a quartet of LCPRs (landing craft, personnel, ramped).

She carried four of these craft, which could land her embarked company all in one wave

She carried four of these craft, which could land her embarked company all in one wave

These 35-foot long V-Bottomed plywood craft could tote 39 troops ashore from as far as 50 miles out to sea; however they usually were launched as close as possible as these craft wallowed along at about 10-knots when wide open.

This allowed the 306-foot ship to carry (briefly) a company-sized (160~) unit of Army infantry or Marines and land them right on top of the beach.

The Rudderow type DE compared to the eventual Crosby type APD, note the differences aft of the stack

The Rudderow type DE compared to the eventual Crosby type APD, note the differences aft of the stack

The subject of our study, USS Ruchamkin, named after 24-year-old LT (JG) Seymour D. Ruchamkin, late of the destroyer USS Cushing (DD-376) and gave his last full measure on that ship off Savo Island, was laid down at Philadelphia Naval Yard 14 February 1944 as a DE. She was completed to the APD type and commissioned 16 September 1945, two weeks too late to serve in WWII.

USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) at anchor off Cannes, France, in 1952 during the Cannes Film Festival. Don Karr USS Ruchamkin

USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) at anchor off Cannes, France, in 1952 during the Cannes Film Festival. Don Karr USS Ruchamkin

Instead, she spent the next 24 years in and out of commission (joining red lead row three different times) spending about 15 winters with the active fleet.

Pierside in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. 1960s

Pierside in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. 1960s

In that time she trained midshipmen and naval reservists, was used as an amphibious warfare ship for the first generation of SEALs, roamed the Med, Pacific, and the Caribbean, waved the flag, and generally saw peaceful service.

View underway at sea off her stern, Pierside in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

View underway at sea off her stern,

USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) coming along side USS Rigel (AF-58) to receive stores, during Operation Steel Pike I, October 1964. Photo by Jim McCoy navsource

USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) coming along side USS Rigel (AF-58) to receive stores, during Operation Steel Pike I, October 1964. Photo by Jim McCoy navsource

One of her LCPRs Pierside in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

One of her LCPRs Pierside in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

However even peace can be hazardous.

On 14 November 1952, while on an exercise with troops embarked, the 10,000 ton tanker Washington smacked her portside amidships, nearly slicing the boat in two. As a testament to the design of these warbabies, she held up and remained afloat (thought losing seven men) and was back in service just four months later after repairs.

USS RUCHAMKIN APD 8915 November 1952, one day after USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) had been rammed by SS Washington, a 10,000 ton tanker. Note her damage amidships

USS RUCHAMKIN APD 8915 November 1952, one day after USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) had been rammed by SS Washington, a 10,000 ton tanker. Note her damage amidships

Her closest brush with war, besides tracking the occasional Soviet submarine, was when she earned the Navy Unit Commendation for evacuating civilians from the Dominican Republic in 1965, a task that her 160 spartan troop bunks and ability to operate from shallow water ports made her ideal.

scan00041-evacuation-domrep1965

She then served as a support ship for Polaris missile tests and the exploration of the wreck of the USS Scorpion before her third and final decommissioning at Little Creek on 24 November 1969.

She was sold to the Navy of the Republic of Colombia for $156,820 who used her as the ARC Córdoba (DT-15) until 1980, primarily as an escort vessel.

She sits in about three feet of still water sandwiched between a recreation of the Taj Mahal and a mountainside

She sits in about three feet of still water sandwiched between a recreation of the Taj Mahal and a mountainside

The Colombians disarmed her and donated her to Jaime Duque Grisales, an icon of Colombian air travel. Her new owners dismantled her, transported the old girl to “Colombia’s Disneyland” Parque Jaime Duque and reassembled her on site by 1983. There she sits today in a shallow pond some 620 miles inland and at an elevation of 8000 feet just outside of Bogata, a feat not often accomplished by naval vessels.

But her stern till holds her secret

But her stern till holds her secret

A very active veterans association, USS Ruchamkin.org exists to continue her memory here in the states.

USS Ruchamkin.org http://ussruchamkin.org/index.html

Painting by Don Renz via USS Ruchamkin.org

Specs

From Destroyer Escorts In Action (Osprey)

From Destroyer Escorts In Action (Osprey)

Displacement: 1,740 tons (1,770 metric tons) (fully loaded)
Length: 306 ft. (93.3 m) (overall)
Beam: 36 ft. 6 in (11.1 m)
Draft: 11 ft. (3.4 m) (fully loaded)
Propulsion: General Electric steam turbo-electric drive engine
Two 3-bladed propellers solid manganese-bronze 8 ft. 5 in (2.6 m) diameter
Speed: 24 knots (most ships could attain 26/27 knots)
Range: 5,500 nautical miles at 15 knots (10,200 km at 28 km/h)
Radar: Type SL surface search fixed to mast above yardarm and type SA air search only fitted to certain ships.
Sonar: Type 128D or Type 144 both in retractable dome.
Direction Finding: MF direction finding antenna fitted in front of the bridge and HF/DF Type FH 4 antenna fitted on top of mast.

Armament: (As designed DE)
Main guns: 2 x 5 inch /38 dual purpose mount
Anti-aircraft guns: 4 x 40 mm Bofors were fitted in the twin mounts in the ‘B’ and ‘X’ position. 10 x 20 mm single mount Oerlikons cannon positioned four next to the bridge behind ‘B’ gun mount, two on each side of the ship in sponsons just abaft the funnel, and two on the fantail just forward of the depth charge racks.
Torpedo tubes: three 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes in a triple mount were mounted just aft of the stack.
Hedgehog: British-designed ahead-throwing anti-submarine mortar which fired 24 bombs ahead of the ship, this was situated on the main deck just aft of ‘A’ gun mount.
Depth charges: Approximately 200 were carried. Two sets of double rails each side of the ship at the stern, each set held 24 charges; eight K gun depth charge throwers each holding 5 charges, were situated each side of the ship just forward of the stern rails.

As completed (APD)
Complement: 12 Officers, 192 Enlisted.
Armament: 1 × 5″/38 caliber gun
6 × 40mm Bofors AA (3 × 2), removed 1963 in FRAM update
6 × 20mm Oerlikon AA (6 × 1), removed 1963 in FRAM update. Replaced by M2s.

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/

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!

The Maxim via China

Hiram Maxim’s machine gun was the standard that all others were stacked up to in the late 19th and early 20th Century. They were adopted in Germany (Spandau and DWM Maschinengewehr), Russia (Pulemyot-Maxima PM1910), Britain (Vickers) the U.S. (Model of 1904) and others, remaining in use through WWII.

One gun that saw even more use is the Chinese Type 24, which in itself is a direct copy of Maxim’s Commercial 1909 model.

chinese type 24 maxim
The Type 24 was perhaps the favorite Chinese heavy machine gun (not in caliber, its just heavy!) throughout WWII and the Korean conflict. It was then given away as military aid extensively and appeared throughout Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 70s and Africa in the 80s, 90s and even today.

Here’s one up close from the guys at AZ Guns and its really neat-o

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