Topeka’s Terriers looking for turkey, 56 years ago today

Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog #: KN-3632

This image, shows the converted light cruiser USS Topeka (CLG-8) firing a Terrier guided-missile on 18 November 1961, during weapons demonstrations for the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral George W. Anderson, a week before Thanksgiving. Photographed from on board USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). Planes preparing for launch on the carrier’s flight deck are a F8U Crusader jet fighter, at left, and an AD-6 Skyraider attack plane (Bureau # 137588), in the lower center.

While probably not aiming at Thanksgiving dinner, Topeka was known for warming up some VC and NVA on occasion.

USS Topeka (CLG-8) fires her forward turret’s 6/47 guns at the Viet Cong, while steaming slowly in the South China Sea on an in-shore fire support mission, April 1966. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog #: K-31264

The story of the ghost of Mobile Bay, and her robot crew

The ex-USS Shadwell (LSD-15) is a 7,300-ton, 457-foot gator– the last member of the 19-ship Casa-Grande-class dock landing ships. Commissioned in 1944, she was hit by a torpedo and downed a kamikaze in WWII. She was part of the Third Fleet in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on that fateful day in September 1945 when the war concluded.

In better days, USS SHADWELL (LSD-15) Mediterranean Sea, June 1968 NHC Catalog K-51142

After more than 25-years faithful service around the world, she was on 9 March 1970, placed out of commission, and mothballed. In 1976 her name was stricken from the Navy List and she was a warship no more.

However, the Navy Research Lab’s Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability’s Shipboard Fire Scaling Section operates and maintains Shadwell as the Navy’s full-scale “Real Scale” Damage Control Facility dedicated to integrated Research, Development, Test and Evaluation studies on active and passive fire protection, flooding and chemical (simulants) defense for the past 30 years. As such, she has been renovated and instrumented to a degree that her builders never imagined.

The Naval Research Laboratory’s ex-USS Shadwell is a decommissioned U.S. Navy Landing Ship Dock that serves as the Navy’s full-scale damage control research, development, test and evaluation platform. Moored in Mobile Bay, Ala., the ship is regularly set ablaze in controlled demonstrations to test firefighting technologies, tactics and procedures and damage control practices to improve the safety of operational Navy and civilian shipboard firefighting measures. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Among the high-tech systems, the ship has been a testbed for is Virginia Tech’s SAFFiR robotic firefighter built for ONR.

The Office of Naval Research-sponsored Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) undergoes testing aboard the Naval Research Laboratory’s ex-USS Shadwell located in Mobile, Ala. SAFFiR is a bipedal humanoid robot being developed to assist Sailors with damage control and inspection operations aboard naval vessels. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Based in Mobile Bay since 1988, she is currently on the disposal list.

Shadwell is to be dismantled in place and all fire testing will be shifted to land-based facilities located at NRLs 168-acre Chesapeake Beach Detachment.

Below is an All Hands video of her from 2015, highlighting some of what made her so special.

A trophy Sterling-Patchett, with an interesting back story

The Sterling-Patchett Mk 5 was a silenced version of the Sterling Submachine-gun. The modification was the work of George Patchett, who had originally designed the Sterling itself. The Mk 5 was adopted by the British armed forces as the Gun, Sub-machine, 9mm L34A1.

This is the commercially sold version with a “crinkle” finish, which featured a wooden foregrip to protect the firer’s hand from the integral suppressor unit, which became hot from the propellant gas which vented into it upon firing:

Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

This particular gun was captured from Argentinian forces during the 1982 Falklands Conflict by the British Army in June 1982 along with 20,000~ other sundry surrendered arms. It was issued (along with standard versions of the Sterling SMG) to the Argentine Marines, and was most notably used by their assault commandos – the Buzos Tacticos – during the initial stages of the Argentine invasion.

These Royal Marines of Naval Party 8901, seen outside of Government House during the Argentine invasion, would later return to the Falklands as part of 42 Commando and settle scores, being the first unit to raise the Union Jack at the compound.

Farewell, Paladin

Once described as being a product of the “most dangerous publisher in the world,” the Boulder, Colorado-based media house and distributor is closing its doors at the end of the year.

As noted on the company’s website, Paladin is shuttering following the death earlier this year of their co-founder and publisher, Peder Lund, and is selling off remaining inventory at greatly reduced prices. Over the decades, Paladin has marketed 800 how-to books and videos on topics like self-defense, firearms, martial arts, and survival as part of its Professional Action Library. Some are downright hokey, but others are very valuable texts, especially those on military history.

“There will be no more books or videos sold after November 29, 2017,” the company’s website says. “We are incredibly grateful to all of our amazing customers and authors for their continued loyalty and support over the decades.”

I ordered a mystery crate of 50 titles for $50 as well as a few classic volumes that I didn’t have hard copies of for basically chump change. For example, they have Maj. John L. Plaster’s excellent work on Great War snipers, which just came out and has a $40 MSRP, on sale for $6 measly dollars.

You are welcome!

Just a gimmick or what?

Behold, the Full Conceal M3.

Just 3.6-inches high when folded, the M3 uses a 21-round Magpul PMAG GL9 magazine to fill in for part of the grip when extended. The modified frame utilizes a folding trigger safety that prevents the trigger bar from moving and engaging the sear, a feature that Full Conceal bills as leaving the gun safe to carry with a round chambered, even in the folded position.

They were vaporware for the past year but are now shipping for a four-figure price point.

Of course, folding guns aren’t anything new.

There was always the Japanese Type 1 Paratrooper rifle, which sucked, and the Hotchkiss Universal which was a better idea, and the Burgess folding shotgun, which is downright weird.

The Hotchkiss SMG

The Burgess

The Japanese Paratrooper

And today there is even the XAR Invicta folding rifle

But none of these are a handgun, such as the Full Conceal.

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

Bad news for FFG7 fans out there

150417-N-SV210-036 SAN DIEGO (April 17, 2015) The guided-missile frigate USS Gary (FFG 51) arrives at Naval Base San Diego after completing its final deployment before decommissioning. During the seven-month deployment, Gary operated in the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. 3rd Fleet areas of operations and played an integral role in Operation Martillo. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Donnie W. Ryan/Released)

It looks like the CNO looked at it and decided the “Ghetto Navy” is best left out to pasture.

It’s a common theme in bringing back high-mileage warships like the neutered FFG-7 class from mothballs. They were typically rode hard and put up wet. For example, when SECNAV John “600-ship Navy” Lehman went to look at the old carrier USS Oriskany in 1981 with an eye to putting her back into use after a four-year layup, she had grass and even small trees growing on her decks and was too far gone for Congress to okay the millions needed to get her back into the fold.

From Defense News:

The Navy estimates that bringing back 10 of the Perry-class frigates would cost in excess of $4.32 billion over 10 years, and take away from money needed to modernize the Navy’s existing cruisers and destroyers. In return, the Navy would get a relatively toothless ship only suitable for very low-end missions such as counter-drug operations.

“With obsolete combat systems and aging hulls, these vessels would require significant upgrades to remain warfighting relevant for another decade,” the document reads. “Any potential return on investment would be offset by high reactivation and life-cycle costs, a small ship inventory, limited service life, and substantial capability gaps.

“Furthermore, absent any external source of funding, these costs would likely come at the expense of other readiness, modernization or shipbuilding programs.”

The rest here.

Goodbye and good riddance!

So it looks like the Zimbabwe bogeyman, Mugabe and his wife, has been replaced in a coup that officially isn’t one.

Can you believe this guy has been in power since 1980? And thought it would be cool that his batshit wife inherits the throne? Yikes.

Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo of the 30,000-strong ZDF appeared on state-run TV and said, in his best Mars Attacks address to Congress, that all is going perfectly well.

This came as the BBC reported that “Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital Harare early on Wednesday.”

As a side note, I always did like the Belgian and later Rhodesian “brushtroke” pattern camo, though the ZDF uses a gently modified version of it today.

But they still use it…

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