‘Old Man knives’

Increasingly, I admit being drawn to the appreciated beauty and functionality of old-school jackknives. The aesthetic reminds me of the old Barlow knife I used to carry as a kid, a gift from my grandpa in the 1970s, as well as his old Case knives.

Here are a couple of recent additions to my collection.

The new production knife is a U.S-made Great Eastern Northfield Un-X-LD – #78 American Jack. Overall length is 6.5-inches open, with a 2.8-inch 1095 carbon steel plain spear point single blade. The scales are golden brown jigged bone. Made in Titusville, PA, something like 200 hand processes go into each knife and you can tell.

These damned things are almost impossible to get with an “I know a guy” underground purchase system in place for some of the more rare Great Easterns.

The older specimen is an Imperial USA “Jumbo-Jack” knife, 4-inches closed length. It has imitation stag handles and is two carbon blades (3-inch and 2-inch) with brass liners.

This example was well made in Providence, RI in 1959 and you can really feel the pride in this blade, even though it was a “cheap” knife at the time. Price, if bought by the dozen retail back then, was $1.25 a pop, or about $11 in today’s money. You couldn’t make one of these today in the U.S. for that amount of script.

Either way, they pair nicely with some of the other vintage, but still very useful, parts of my collection.

Plum Duff flotsam

Here we see the SAS beret, stable belt, medals, wings and rank slides belonging to Captain Andy Legg (22 SAS) which will be going up for auction with Woolley & Wallis on May 3rd, 2018.

Captain Legg, as a young lieutenant, commanded the SAS team that was inserted onto the Argentinian mainland to gather intelligence about the enemy airbase at Rio Grande on Tierra del Fuego with an aim to destroy the Argentine Armada’s sole Exocet-carrying Super Étendard squadron on the ground in an echo to the SAS’s WWII North African lineage destroying Luftwaffe bases supporting Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

The recon mission, with 8 SAS commandos inserted by helicopter from the Harrier carrier HMS Invincible, was termed Operation Plum Duff. The plan was part of the larger Operation Mikado which would have seen nearly a quarter of the entire SAS– the 55 men of B Squadron– land directly on the runway Entebbe-style and exfil towards Chile afterward. While Plum Duff was a disaster and Mikado itself was scrubbed as a suicide mission, the event did tie down four battalions of elite Argentine Marines, arguably the best troops in their whole military, and they were sorely missed in the Falklands.

The estimate for the Legg collection is £40 000.

A Magach sentry

Here we see, via DimaWa, a gently-used Israeli Defence Forces Magach 3 tank somewhere in the Golan Heights, where it has been since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The IDF inherited something like 500 surplus M48s from West Germany, the U.S. and Jordan (the latter as recycled battlefield trophies in 1967) and gave them a series of Magach (Hebrew = “ramming hit”) that have them a newer gun (the M68 105mm L7), a new 750 hp diesel and a number of other internal upgrades to the gunnery and commo system to make them closer to the M60.

The IDF kept variously upgraded M48s in their armored units through the 1990s.

Keeping up the search for the lost, but never forgotten

A recovery team aboard U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command’s USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) completed an excavation, on Feb. 25, of multiple aircraft losses shot down in 1944 near Ngerekebesang Island, Republic of Palau.

Although remains potentially associated with the losses were recovered by the team, the identity of those remains will not be released until a complete and thorough analysis can confirm positive identification and the service casualty office conducts next of kin notification.

The project was headed by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which deployed an Underwater Recovery Team (URT) comprised of U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force service members and Department of Defense civilians that were embarked aboard the USNS Salvor.

“It’s very labor intensive work and they’ve had a large amount of bottom time making this operation successful,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Emge, 7th Fleet Salvage Officer. “The Mobile Diving and Salvage Company 1-6 divers for this job have been pulling more than 12-hour-days for the past two months. The URT spent weeks excavating the area using a variety of archeological tools and meticulously inspecting the bottom sediment in their search and recovery of the missing personnel from World War II.”

More here.

Of Carolina and the ides of March

Something smokey 237 years ago today…

Dressed in a period correct Continental uniform, Guilford Courthouse National Park ranger Jason Baum fires a rifle similar to those Continental soldiers would have employed against the British Army during the Revolutionary War. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Javier Amador)

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was a fought on March 15, 1781, was a tactical win for Cornwallis, but the losses he suffered (~500 killed, wounded and missing, a full quarter of his effectives) forced him to abandon his campaign for the Carolinas and head for Virginia, which was a strategic end of the line that led to Yorktown.

Meet The ‘Captain

In their upcoming April Premier event, Rock Island Auction is set to offer a trio of desirable Colt wheel guns including a “Fluck” Dragoon, a military-marked Eli Whitney Walker and a civilian model fit for a Scandinavian skipper.

The rarest of the three, the only known original cased civilian Walker in circulation, is referred to by collectors as the “Danish Sea Captain” due to its first owner, Captain Niels Hanson, who purchased the massive gun in New York while in port and brought it back to Europe with him where it was passed down through his family and collectors in Denmark for over a century.

The ‘Captain. (Photos: RIA)

The ‘Captain. (Photos: RIA)

According to lore, the gun even survived being buried in a garden by its then-owner during the Nazi occupation of that Baltic country during WWII.

The estimated price for this rare .44-caliber bird, which has been extensively documented over the past 80 years? How about somewhere between $800,000 and $1.3 million.

More on the big Dane and the other Colts in my column at Guns.com.

The Russians are going Cold War deep

The Russian Red Banner Fleet is rediscovering very deep manned salvage/rescue ops via atmospheric diving suits (ADS). These things date back to the 1900s with the U.S., Germany and the Brits leading the way and Moscow playing catchup. Since 1989, with the atrophy of the late-Soviet fleet, the Russians have largely lost their very deep skills and their divers have been kept north of the 100m depth with the only occasional use of hardhat gear on mixed air such as Heliox and Trimix to go gradually deeper.

However, over the past couple of years, the Russians have invested in relearning the lost skillset and last year used ADS systems to hit the 317m mark, and are pushing to 400m in coming months. More from Russian state media below:

Besides obvious overt uses in salvage and submarine rescues, such deep water skills also prove useful in covert taskings such as in eavesdropping on subsea cables.

As a matter of record, U.S. Navy Chief Diver (DSW/SS) Daniel P. Jackson hit the 610m mark inside a Hardsuit 2000 off southern California back in 2006. He reportedly enjoyed the show very much.

“At 2,000 feet, I had topside turn off all the lights, and it was like a star show. The phosphorescence that was naturally in the water and in most of the sea life down there started to glow,” Jackson said.  “When I started to travel back up, all the lights looked like a shower of stars going down as I was coming up. It was the best ride in the world.”

In other news, Russian state media also posted this interesting piece about combat swimmers under ice. Seems like a theme.

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