City saves history by turning over rare StG 44 to Navy museum system

A police department in Virginia sat on a seized German military rifle for almost a decade before moving to turn it over to a military museum.

The gun was mailed home by a GI from Europe in 1945…

The Chesapeake Police Department seized a Sturmgewehr 44 in 2009 from a felon that could no longer possess the firearm. Seeing that it had historical significance — the StG 44 is considered by many to be the first true “assault rifle” due to its select-fire design and use of an intermediate cartridge — the agency rendered it inoperable and this week moved to have the City Council approve donating the piece to the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

The resolution was approved 8-0 last Tuesday without discussion.

More in my column at Guns.com

 

A whole new take on cigarette boats

Low-observable to both radar and the ole Mk I eyeball, these homegrown Latin American LPVs can pack tons of blow on one-way trips and are increasingly common in the East Pac.

The crew on Coast Guard Cutter Campbell captured this photo of a low profile drug vessel on May 24, 2018, during their deployment to the Eastern Pacific.

Presser from U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast:

BOSTON — Coast Guard Cutter Campbell returned to its homeport in Kittery, Maine, Friday after an 80-day counter-narcotic patrol in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Campbell’s crew disrupted six narcotic smuggling ventures, seized about 12,000 pounds of cocaine, worth $209 million, and detained 24 suspected smugglers.

Equipped with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew deployed from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron unit based in Jacksonville, Florida, the Campbell patrolled known narcotic transit zones in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central and South America in support of [Key West NAS-based] Joint Interagency Task Force-South, which facilitates international and interagency interdiction to enable the disruption and dismantlement of illicit and converging threat networks in support of national and hemispheric security.

“During this challenging deployment, the crew excelled in all assigned missions and should be exceptionally proud of their accomplishments,” said Cmdr. Mark McDonnell, commanding officer of the Campbell. “Our efforts to integrate with partner agencies and nations are key to the safe and successful execution of these complex interdiction operations as we work together to remove cocaine bound for the United States and help dismantle criminal networks.”

Campbell is a 29-year-old Famous-Class cutter homeported in Kittery, Maine, with a crew complement of 100.

Fighting Marines, 75 years on

U.S. Marine Corps Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Offical caption: “How to disable an armed opponent is demonstrated by two girl Marines in training at Camp Lejeune, New River, North Carolina. The Marines with their backs to the camera are watching another display of feminine skill in the art of self-defense, June 18, 1943.”

Blasting down the Holloman Test Track

They should charge admisson to ride this bad boy.

‘Demolition Crew – The Marianas’ 74 years ago today

Painting, Oil on Board; by Robert Benney; 1944; Framed Dimensions 40H X 58W, Accession #: 88-159-AF as a Gift of Abbott Laboratories. Naval History and Heritage Command

Official caption: Before D-Day and H-Hour, these tough, hardened, and highly trained men went in on the beaches at Saipan to pave the way for invasion. It was they who made possible the approaches to the beach and the subsequent landings of our Army and Marines. Pictured here, a group of men has approached the beach at low water at a previously charted area. They are attaching “satchel” charges to the “Crib” in the rear. In the foreground is a Japanese horned “Scully” and the man directly behind it is attaching a demolition cap to a “J-13 Mine.” In a few minutes, their hazardous job will have been completed and another highway to Tokyo opened, thanks to the “Demolition Demons.”

The landings began at 07:00 on 15 June 1944– 74 years ago today. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00.

By 16:15 on 9 July, Admiral Turner announced that Saipan was officially secured at a cost of 3,426 U.S. and an estimated 60,000 Japanese casualties, many of whom were civilians who committed suicide.

The neat, but probably unwise, Fitz Colt

I’ve always been a fan of the Fitz Special concept, although not a practicing fan. More of an idle curiosity you could say, as I personally think they are unsafe.

Around 1926, retired NYPD cop John Henry Fitzgerald began customizing both full-sized Colt New Service, Police Positive, and Police Positive Special models to make them small concealed handguns, much like Colt’s then-new Detective Special. This modification included shortening the barrel to two inches or less, fitting a new front sight, removing the hammer spur and carefully checkering the top of the now-bobbed hammer, shortening the grip, and—unique to this type—cutting away the front 1/3 of the trigger guard and rounding off the now open edges.

A previously auctioned Fitz Colt

This trigger guard surgery left the bulk of the hammer exposed while carefully shrouding the very bottom and back of it to avoid snagging in the pocket. The open trigger guard allowed faster firing, accommodated large or gloved fingers, and according to some accounts made the weapon easier to fire through a pocket (if needed). While these modifications were done to large frame revolvers, they were performed mainly to the smaller Colt Detectives.

Although Fitz only converted less than 200 Colts, (some say as few as 20), the concept lived on and you see many other guns converted to the same degree.

Like this M1917 .45ACP moon gun:

That’s guaranteed to set the target on fire at close range…

My friend Ian over at Forgotten Weapons got a chance to check out a Colt Fitz at RIAC last week:

Coast Guard stepping up to the plate with more cutter-borne drones

Insitu’s ScanEagle drone platform was chosen by the USCG last week for a $117 million contract after an RFP issued in February to provide small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ISR services aboard the entire 12-ship National Security Cutter fleet.

ScanEagle has over a million hours in the air so far, and a stepped-up version, Integrator, has been adopted by the Marines as the RQ-21 Blackjack, so it is safe to say that it is a mature program.

The service deployed an interim sUAS capability on USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) – an NSC based in Alameda, California – three times in 2017 and used the data gathered to refine the concept of operations and RFP requirements. During the tests, ScanEagle had directly assisted the ship’s crews in seizing more than $1.5 billion of cocaine and heroin.

Stratton with ScanEagle on catapult launcher/carrier to port and an MH-65 stbd. Note the CIWS above the LSO station in the twin hangar. Make no mistake, the NSC is a frigate-sized warship

The Coast Guard began infrastructure installation for more UAS use on their NSCs in April 2018, with plans to begin installing hardware on Cutters James in fall 2018, Munro in late winter 2019 and Bertholf in late spring or early summer 2019. NSC’s have a dual hangar which can permit a USCG helicopter (MH-65) to operate independently of the UAS det.

According to Janes, the drones will be used in a “contractor-owned, contractor-operated” program where Insitu personnel deploying with the cutter will operate the ScanEagle platform for 200 hours per 30 day period. They will also use a Ball Aerospace laser marker, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), and communications relay packages.

Although it is not mentioned, Insitu has been pushing ScanEagle with a ViDAR payload. Small, light and self-contained, ViDAR allows effective primary search with smaller UAVs and aircraft without radar, dramatically improving the cost-effectiveness of maritime operations such as search and rescue, maritime patrol, anti-piracy, anti-narcotics and border protection.

The Coast Guard has also been using smaller Puma hand-launched UAS from other platforms, such as icebreakers and buoy tenders.

Kevin Vollbrecht, an engineering development technician with Aerovironment Inc., launches a PUMA AE unmanned aircraft system from the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star during Operation Deep Freeze 2016 in the Southern Ocean Jan. 3, 2016. The UAS will play a role in selecting the optimal route through pack ice as the cutter transits to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst)

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