The ACOG leash…

Army’s PS Magazine put out the correct way to retain a CCO.

“No more disappearing sights,” the Army on CCO leashes via infotoon from last year:

“Too many times we are seeing Soldiers use lacing wire or 550 cord incorrectly causing damage to the weapon and optic. Note, if you are still using 550 cord make sure that it is not wrapped around the gas tube under the handrail, the cord can melt due to high heat,” says PSM.

Is that a Thompson M4?

This great picture popped up on MilMag, a Polish firearm magazine, showing a group of U.S. Army Soldiers milling about, digging the heat somewhere sand-colored.

On a closer look, one, a Spc. Lord, has what looks like a dead ringer for a Thompson M1921/28 submachine gun foregrip affixed to his M4 handguard, like a baller.

Now, THIS is a field mod I can get behind.

Some reverse image searching (thanks for not listing anything about the photo, Mil Mag!) found that the group was from the Tomahawks of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2ID as they were operating in in Takhteh Pol district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The photo was taken 05.02.2013 by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann with the 102nd Public Affairs Det.

In search of more images of Spc. Lord’s epic Tommy gun M4, it was no joy. A follow-up image by Hamann took three weeks later showing the specialist involved in personnel searches at a traffic control point in Panjwai district, shows him with a more traditional forward grip.

Sigh. I bet it was magnificent while it lasted.

Army adds an armored brigade

Looks like Big Green wants more M1s on active duty. Hmm, armored warfare. So 1980s Fulda Gap…

DoD’s presser:

Today the U.S. Army announced that the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division (1/1 AD) stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, will convert from a Stryker brigade combat team (SBCT) to an armored brigade combat team (ABCT); and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division (2/4 ID) stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, will convert from an infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) to an SBCT.

“Converting a brigade combat team from infantry to armor ensures the Army remains the world’s most lethal ground combat force, able to deploy, fight, and win against any adversary, anytime and anywhere,” Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper said.

This conversion contributes to Army efforts to build a more lethal force and is an investment to increase overmatch against our potential adversaries — one more critical step to achieving the Army Vision. This effort also postures the Army to better meet combatant commander requirements under the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

“The Army leadership determined that we needed to covert two brigade combat teams to armor and Stryker in order to deter our near-peer adversaries or defeat them if required,” said Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, director of force management.

Conversion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, will begin in the spring of 2019 and spring of 2020 respectively.

This will provide the nation a 16th ABCT bringing the total number BCTs in the Regular Army (RA) and Army National Guard (ARNG) to 58. There will be a total of 31 BCTs in the RA, to include 11 ABCTs, 13 IBCTs and seven SBCTs. The ARNG will have a total of 27 BCTs, to include five ABCTs, 20 IBCTs and two SBCTs, ensuring a more balanced distribution between its light and heavy fighting forces.

A big stick in Portsmouth harbor once more, 32 years ago today

20 September 1986: US Navy battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) enters Portsmouth Naval Base, note HMS Victory, and several 372-foot long Royal Navy Leander-class frigates in the background for size comparison.

Absent any of HM’s battleships since HMS Vanguard (23) was scrapped in 1960, Portsmouth had gone a quarter-century without seeing a dreadnought of any class before Iowa‘s appearance. In the interval, all of the Iowas had been laid up (save for New Jersey‘s short 20-month reactivation for Vietnam), with the class leader only recommissioned 28 April 1984.

And the LCS just keep coming

Lockheed-Martin’s Freedom-class LCS 11, the future USS Sioux City, will be the first combat ship ever commissioned at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She was delivered to the Navy last month. (Photo: Lockheed-Martin)

From DOD:

Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded a fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-18-C-2300) for construction of one littoral combat ship (LCS). The Navy may release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in fiscal 2019, and therefore the specific contract award amount for this ship is considered source selection sensitive information (see 41 U.S. Code 2101, et seq., Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) 2.101 and FAR 3.104) and will not be made public at this time. Work will be performed in Marinette, Wisconsin (40 percent); Washington, District of Columbia (7 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (6 percent); Beloit, Wisconsin (2 percent); Iron Mountain, Michigan (2 percent); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1 percent); Waunakee, Wisconsin (1 percent); Crozet, Virginia (1 percent); Coleman, Wisconsin (1 percent); Monrovia, California (1 percent); and various other locations of less than one percent each (totaling 38 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract modification was awarded via a limited competition between Austal USA and Lockheed Martin pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(3) and FAR 6.302-3. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-17 C-2301) for the construction of two littoral combat ships (LCS). The Navy may release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in fiscal year 2019, and therefore the specific contract award amount for these ships is considered source selection sensitive information (see 41 U.S. Code 2101, et seq., Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) 2.101 and FAR 3.104) and will not be made public at this time. Work will be performed in Mobile, Alabama (61 percent); Pittsfield, Massachusetts (20 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (4 percent); Kingsford, Michigan (1 percent); Bristol, Connecticut (1 percent); and various other locations of less than one percent each (totaling 13 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract modification was awarded via a limited competition between Austal USA and Lockheed Martin pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(3) and FAR 6.302-3. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

It should be noted that, while the Navy wanted to term the program at 32 vessels, Congress has directed that they take it to 35, but has zeroed out funds for the ship’s critical mission modules, basically the thing that is designed to make them actual ships and not just a low-budget loveboat.

So yeah, 16 million ARs/AKs were made in the U.S. since 1990

Curious about some actual figures on how many semi-auto (Title I) AR-15 and AK-47 style platforms there were in the country, I contacted the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade organization for the gun industry. This is what they sent me as a production estimate after combing through the ATF’s AMFER data compared to manufacturers:

Yup, just over 16 million ARs and AKs from 1990-2016.

As far as the number in circulation, while some have surely been scrapped, worn out, broken or otherwise retired, guns manufactured or imported before 1989 are not listed in the 16 million figure. Likewise, guns assembled from so-called “80 percent” lowers or kits by home builders are not tracked by the industry. Keep in mind that before 1989 an estimated one million SKS rifles (some of which were M-models with detachable mags) and about half as many Chicom AK clones came in the country. Further, I do not believe the figure includes Mini-14s and Mini-30s, which Ruger have cranked out in seven-figure quantities since the 1970s.

In short, I think the 16 million mark may be a low-ball.

The debate over just how common ARs are has been a matter of legal contention at the federal level for several years. More in my column at Guns.com.

Warship Wednesday, Sept, 19, 2018: The well-traveled Sea Otter

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, Sept. 19, 2018: The well-traveled Sea Otter

Here we see the deteriorating Qing Empire’s most modern warship, the 1st class protected cruiser Hai-Chi (also seen as Hai Chi, Haicang, and Hai Qi), of the Northern Fleet of the Imperial Chinese Navy as she sat at anchor in the Hudson off Gotham on Sept. 11, 1911. Note her Yellow Dragon Flag, flown by the Qing Dynasty from 1889 through 1911. This proud ship was an important turning point in Chinese military history.

The sleeping dragon that was old Imperial China had a rude awakening in 1894-95 when the Japanese picked a fight in Manchuria over Korea that ended in humiliation for the larger country. Scarcely 10 months long, the First Sino-Japanese War saw the Japanese slaughter the vaunted Chinese Beiyang Fleet, hailed at the time as the largest and most battle-ready in Asia, complete with a pair of German-built armored turret ironclads — the 8,000-ton Dingyuan and Zhenyuan— both outfitted with thick armor and modern Krupp guns. The latter was even commanded by American naval mercenary and Annapolis legend Philo Norton McGiffin.

However, the Beiyang Fleet was filled with ill-trained landsmen, at the mercy of corrupt officials (who sold off the explosives and powder charges, replacing them with flour and sand) and had just an overall poor tactical appreciation of modern naval warfare. This showed in the disastrous Battle of the Yalu River (also termed the Battle of the Yellow Sea), the world’s first large fleet action since 1866. At the end of the engagement, the Chinese fleet was, for all intents, combat ineffective, bested by a smaller but more professional Japanese force that had done their homework.

From the First Sino-Japanese War Battle of the Yellow Sea by Kobayashi Kiyochika ca. 1894

Following the Japanese capture of Weihaiwei four months later, the battered Zhenyuan was taken as a war prize while Dingyuan was scuttled. The Beiyang Fleet commander, Qing Adm. Ding Ruchang, along with his deputy, Adm. Liu Buchan, committed suicide and were posthumously drummed out of the service. Philo McGiffin, shattered and suffering from wounds incurred at the Yalu, blew his own brains out in a Manhattan hospital two years after the battle, aged a very hard 36.

Philo Norton McGiffin as a naval agent of China in England, left, a USNA cadet, right, and after the Yalu, center

Suffice it to say, China needed a new fleet.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, Germany seized Tsingtao, the British took over Weihaiwei, Russia moved into Port Arthur and the French took over Kwangchow Wan, all on “leases” set to run out in the 1990s.

Between the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895, which ended the war, and the Chinese Revolution that saw the end of the four-century-long Great Qing dynasty in 1911 and birthed the Republic of China, the Manchu court ordered over 40 new warships from around the globe. A trio of small cruisers, the 3,000-ton Hai-Yung, Hai-Chu, and Hai-Chen, were ordered from Vulkan in Germany. From Vickers came the 2,750-ton cruisers Ying Swei and Chao-Ho. French-made torpedo boats, Krupp-built river monitors, Kawasaki-produced gunboats (ironically), destroyers from Schichau. It was a rapid expansion and recrafting.

The largest of the orders, placed at Armstrong for production at its Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne shipyard, was for a pair of 4,500-ton (full load) protected cruisers, Hai-Chi (Yard No. 667) and her sister Hai-Tien (#668).

(One note about the naming convention of our subject here, some translate Hai Chi as “Boundary of the Sea” while others go with “Sea Otter,” anyway, back to the story)

The design by British naval architect Sir Philip Watts, KCB, FRS, was what we would term “off the shelf” today, simply a very slightly modified version of the Chilean cruiser Blanco Encalada and the Argentine ARA Buenos Aires, also produced by Armstrong.

Armstrong Yard No. 612. ARA Buenos Aires, Hai-Chi’s sistership, sort-of. Note the big 8-incher up front. Completed in 1896, Buenos Aires continued in use with Argentina until 1932 and sold for scrapping in 1935. (Photo via Postales Navales)

Armstrong Yard No. 605. The Chilean cruiser Blanco Encalada in 1904 note her bow crest and national ensign. The longest lived of the four sisters to include her two Chinese classmates and Buenos Aires, she was hulked in 1944 and broken up in 1946.

These cruisers were fast, at some 22 knots (which was surpassed on builder’s speed trials for the Chinese ships, whose hybrid Yarrow/Bellville boiler arrangement allowed them to break 24kts), and had long legs, capable of cruising some 8,000 miles– an important factor for ships in the Pacific.

Further, they were big, with twin 8″/45 cal Armstrong Pattern S guns in single fore and aft mounts (the Japanese also fitted these to their Kasagi and Takasago-class cruisers), and a secondary of 10 QF 4.7 inch Mk V naval guns. Add to this a host of smaller anti-torpedo boat guns, the latest Maxim machine guns, and five above-water torpedo tubes and you had a brawler. Armor protection ranged from 4 to 6 inches and a 37mm deck sheath. The ships were modern, with the best Barr & Stroud optics, electric lights and shell hoists, as well as powered turrets and forced ventilation.

Note the Qing functionaries and Edwardian locals at her christening in 1897. Not surreal at all.

The bow of the mighty Hai-Chi, complete with Imperial dragons

The very modern (and western-attired) crew shown between the forward pair of QF 4.7-inch guns, at the time of her commissioning of what could be a German-made Hai-Chen-class cruiser. Thanks for the update, Georgios Nikolaides-Krassas.

Hai-Chi was commissioned 10 May 1899. When arriving in China later that summer, Hai-Chi was the nominal flagship of Admiral Sa Zhenbing (Sah Chen-ping), commander of the Imperial Chinese Navy– the seniormost survivor of the Battle of the Yalu. Luckily the Navy did not become involved in the mess that was the Boxer Rebellion, although some Army units did, and were the worse for it.

HAI CHI in a Chinese port 1907-09. Photographed from USS CLEVELAND (C-19). Copied from the album of Assistant Paymaster Francis J. Daly, Courtesy of Commander Thomas M. Daly, USN, 1984. Description: Catalog #: NH 100017

Her sister, Hai Tien, foundered 25 April 1904 after hitting a rock in at night in Hangzhou Bay, ending her career after just five years of service.

She was wrecked some 60 miles from Shanghai on what was then known as Eagle Point on Elliot Island near Guzlaf light. Her crew was saved by Chinese customs officals and the Armstrong-built cruiser USS New Orleans (CL-22) in May landed a team nearby to inspect her unoccupied wreckage.

Salvage largely failed due to the hazardous conditions in the shoal, although her guns were reportedly saved by the Chinese.

In 1911, Hai-Chi was tapped to participate by the dynasty in King George V’s coronation review in Spithead alongside an all-star cast of international warships. For the circumnavigational voyage, she was fitted with a Marconi wireless system, one of the first in the Chinese Navy.

Photograph (Q 22235) Chinese Cruiser HAI CHI, 1911. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205262762

On the way back to the Pacific, she crossed the Atlantic and paid lengthy port calls in New York and Boston.

The New York Times noted the event as the arrival of the “cruiser Hai-Chi of the Imperial Navy of China, the first vessel of any kind flying the yellow dragon flag of China that has ever been in American waters.”

Both hosting local dignitaries aboard and sending an honor guard to Grant’s Tomb (the former U.S. President was a key ally to China while in and out of office and was well-respected), the Chinese made a splash akin to visiting Martians in pre-Great War New York.

Note the big 8″/45 over her stern. She carried two of these monsters.

Photo shows Rear Adm. Chin Pih Kwang of the Imperial Chinese Navy and New York City Mayor William Jay Gaynor at Grant’s Tomb in New York City on Sept. 18th, 1911. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2009, and New York Times archive Sept. 19, 1911, via Bain News Service.)

A landing party headed to Grant’s Tomb to lay a wreath given in friendship, all in this series from the LOC

Note the Mauser I.G.Mod.71 rifles, China purchased over 1 million of these big black powder bolt guns which fired from a tubular magazine from Germany in the 1890s and they were evidently still good enough for Naval service in 1911. The Chinese Army at the time this picture was snapped fielded the Hanyang 88, itself a domestically-made copy of the German Gewehr 88.

Recalled to China at the fall of the Dynasty, Ha-Chi became part of the new Republic’s navy and remained the most significant Chinese naval asset until the two-ship Ning Hai-class cruiser class was completed after 1932. During WWI, she served in home waters after China entered the conflict in 1917 on the side of the Allies, with no one around to fight.

HAI-CHI At Chefoo, China, circa 1914-1916 Description: Collection of C.A. Shively, 1978. Note she has the ROC flag. Catalog #: NH 88554

She was later scuttled as a blockship in the Yangtze River at Jiangyin along with 39 other ships on 11 August 1937 to obstruct the Japanese advance during the Second Sino-Japanese war.

Specs:

Via 1914 edition of Janes

Displacement:
4,300 tons (standard)
4,515 t (full load)
Length: 423 ft 11 in o/a
Beam: 46 ft 7 in
Draught: 17 ft 11 in
Propulsion:2 shafts, 4 Humphrys & Tennant, Deptford VTE engines, four double-ended Bellville and four single-ended Yarrow 12-cylindrical boilers, 17,000 bhp at a forced draught.
Speed: 24.15 knots
Range: 8,000 nmi at 10kts on 1,000 tons of coal
Complement: 350-450 (sources vary)
Armament:
2 × 203.2mm (8.00 in)/45 Armstrong Pattern S (2 × 1)
10 × 120mm (5 in)/45 Armstrong (10 × 1)
16 × 47mm (2 in)/40 Hotchkiss (16 × 1)
6 x Maxim machine guns
5 × 450mm (18 in) torpedo tubes (1 × 1 bow, 4 × 1 stern broadside) for Whitehead torpedoes.
Armor: Armstrong Harvey nickel-steel
Deck: 37–127 mm (1–5 in)
Turrets: 114.3 mm (5 in)
Barbettes: 51 mm (2 in)
Conning tower: 152 mm (6 in)

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