It’s hard to imagine today but for over 150-years the UK firearms arsenal at Enfield armed the world. Their 3-band rifles were the go-to gun of the US Civil War and their Short Magazine Lee Enfield bolt guns kept London from having the street signs redone in German through two world wars. Then in 1985, everything went pear-shaped.
In 1954, RSAF Enfield and BSA began production of the 7.62x51mm NATO caliber L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle for the British military to replace their long-serving stocks of Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifles, a design that had lasted the Brits for nearly 70 years. The L1A1 was a version of the Belgian FN FAL rifle, set up in semi-auto and using SAE or ‘inch-pattern’ templates rather than metric. It proved a hard serving rifle and saw use in the Suez, Malaysia, Aden, Northern Ireland and the Falklands as well as being adopted by close allies Canada, Australia, and New Zealand among others. However by the late 1970s, the L1A1 was a bit long in the tooth, and well, a bit long overall (45-inchs) as well. With most of NATO at the time already using smaller, 5.56mm-chambered rifles such as the M16, FAMAS, and HK33, the UK decided to get on the smaller caliber/smaller weapon bandwagon.
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 14, 2013) An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter/Released)
No matter whether you call it dropping a deuce, hanging 10, the call of nature, a trip to the water closet, or going code brown, everyone has to seriously relieve themselves at some point. Often this situation presents itself when you are out and about in a public venue. If you are armed this leads to the dilemma of what do you do to keep your firearm safe while you drop trou. Here are the options:
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(Which one of these stalls would you pick? If you choose the one with the dead wall on the strong hand side that your firearm is on…good choice!)
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out 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.
- Christopher Eger
Here we see the light carrier USS Independence (CV/CVL-22). Began as the light cruiser USS Amsterdam (CL-59) in 1940, she was converted while still at New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J to help fill the urgent and pressing need for fast carriers after Pearl Harbor. A 30/30 ship, she could make 30+ knots and carry 30+ aircraft while having legs long enough to cross the Pacific and operate on her own for a few weeks before she needed to find an oiler. While she was much smaller than a regular fleet carrier such as the Enterprise that could carry 80-90 aircraft, she could still put a few squadrons in the air.
In effect, she was good-enough.
Above you see a scale model of the USS Duluth (CL-87) compared to the USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) both are directly related to the Indy. The Duluth is a Cleavland-class cruiser and is what the Indy was originally ordered to be. The Belleau Wood underwent to same conversion that Indy did. Notice the similarity in the hull. Both ships only differed above the 01 deck.
When Independence was commissioned on January 14th 1943, the only other carriers in the fleet of the original 8 that started WWII were the Enterprise and Saratoga who were fighting for their lives off the Solomons, and the small USS Ranger which was up to her ass in U-Boats in the Atlantic. The new USS Essex had commissioned just a couple of weeks earlier and was in shakedown. The old carrier Langley, converted to a seaplane tender, had been lost early in the war, the huge Lexington was sent to the bottom at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Yorktown lost at Midway, Wasp and Hornet (stricken literally the day before Independence was commissioned from the Naval List) lost in the Solomons.
In short, the Indy came just in time and she was put to hard work fast. Before the year was out she was conducting raids off Marcus Island, Rabaul, and the Gilberts– tying down Japanese forces needed elsewhere. It was in these raids that the Indy picked up a torpedo (one of a half-dozen fired at her) in her starboard quarter. As this was repaired, she received a new air-group, an additional catapult, and a new mission– that of a night carrier.
The first full-time night Air Group was Air Group 41, established through the drive and persistence of Lt. Commander Turner F Caldwell. He commissioned VF(N)-79 in January 1944, training at NAAF Charlestown, Rhode Island. While at Charlestown Caldwell sold his idea of an ‘pure’ night air group to anyone who would listen. With the availability of the CVL Independence Caldwell got his wish. VF(N)-75 was dissolved and reformed as VF(N)-41, with an enlarged TBM contingent designated as VT(N)-41. Total size of the Air Group was 14 F6F-5N’s, 5 F6F-5′s and 12 TBM Avengers. Independence sailed for Eniwetok at the end of July 1944 to join Task Force 38. Air Group 41 finished it’s tour in January 1945. In that time it had claimed 46 kills, but lost ten of it’s 35 night fighter pilots in action, A further three were lost to operational causes – a tribute to the high training standards and skill of the group. The CVL Independence was the only light carrier to be completely equipped with a Night Air Group. Later in 1945 several large carriers and even a much smaller Jeep Carrier (CVE-108 Kula Gulf) went to Night Groups including Enterprise, Saratoga and Bon Homme Richard– but the Indy was the first.
By the end of the war she held 8 battlestars.
The Japanese couldn’t sink her, so the Navy decided to use her for testing. Since the USN had dozens of brand new fleet carriers of the Essex types, it didn’t need the old Indy anymore. Therefore, she was only 1/2 mile from ground zero on 1 July 1946 when the A-bomb went off in the Bikini Atoll tests. When she didn’t sink, they used her again for another A-bomb test three weeks later. Still afloat, she was only scuttled in 1951 off the coast of San Fransisco. Five of her remaining sisters pressed on and were used during the Cold War as transports, anti-submarine carriers, and as the first modern carriers that the French and Spanish navies had– one, the former USS Cabot, even tested the first Harriers at sea.
In the end you can say that the Indy had a hard life in her eight years above water to say the least.
Today, even after being under 3100-feet of seawater for 60 years, she is still on the job. You see ,she took down 70,000 sealed barrels of 1940s radioactive materiel with her which she is guarding in the forever night of the deep ocean and is forbidden to dive on using any means.
In a way, she is still a night carrier, with a very dangerous cargo.
Displacement: 11,000 tons standard; 15,100 tons full load
Dimensions (wl): 600′ x 71′ 6″ x 26′ (max) / 182.9 x 21.8 x 7.9 (max) meters
Dimensions (max.): 622′ 6″ x 109′ 2″ / 189.7 x 33.3 meters
Armor: no side belt (2″ belt over fwd magazine); 2″ protective deck(s); 0.38″ bridge; 5″/3.75″ bhds; 5″ bhds, 2.25″ above, 0.75″ below steering gear
Power plant: 4 boilers (565 psi, 850°F); 4 geared turbines; 4 shafts; 100,000 shp (design)
Speed: 31.6 knots
Endurance (design): 12,500 nautical miles @ 15 knots
Armament: 2 single 5″/38 gun mounts (soon removed); 2 quad 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts (in place of 5″ mounts); 8 (soon 9) twin 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts; 16 single 20-mm/70-cal guns mounts
Aviation facilities: 2 centerline elevators; 1 hydraulic catapult
Crew: approx. 1,560
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Thought historically tight-lipped about all things military, one thing the Russians have never kept secret is existence of their robust special operations, or spetsnaz, community, which they have fostered for many generations. These operators fielded the finest hardware found East of Berlin and, going back to the 1980s, the Soviets had an itch for a long-range suppressed rifle and scratched it with a Shaft and a Thread Cutter, so to speak.
Formed in the 1950s from lessons learned fighting the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany, the spetsnaz (a Russian acronym for special purpose) units were bad hombres and by the later Soviet era, spetsnaz troops (roughly the commie version of the special forces/ranger type units) were a huge part of the Motherland’s military machine. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviets had no less than 14 army and 2 naval brigades of these troops compared to the sole US Army Ranger regiment and five Special Forces groups.
These groups in general, by the nature of their role on the battlefield, have long sought out suppressed weapons and on both sides of the curtain, most got by with regular issue guns with fitted external suppressors. By the early 1980s, they wanted something better and that is where the VSS and AS came in.
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Ever since the first single shot pistol was crafted centuries ago, people have just dug handguns. In the intervening half millennium, thousands of designs have come forth and a few have risen above all others. Last year Guns.com brought you eight to shoot before you die. Here are five more that just have to pass through your hands before you head to that great gun show in the sky.
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