Used to be there wasn’t anything on the market available in .50 BMG other than a few transferable M2 machine guns and converted Boys anti-tank rifles (it’s impossible to find .55 British Boys AT rounds). Then in 1989, Barrett started marketing their M82 rifle in .50 BMG and the guns have skyrocketed in popularity despite bans in some states (California, New York etc) on the sale or possession of guns in the caliber while a number of niche builds are surfacing.
Now, in further signs that the .50 BMG is penetrating the market (pun intended), check out Sportsman’s Warehouse’s Christmas circular:
Yup, they have a Bushmaster BA50 for $3499, ammo included!
That’s pretty sweet when you consider I saw them at a Gander Mtn for $5799 a year ago.
I checked out one of these at the last SHOT Show, and they are very nice for when you are looking to hit the gong with 671-grains at 2,000m.
You know, the new normal.
Here we see the saber bayonet for use on the Sharps and Hankins Navy model .56-52-caliber rifles (some 6,300 made). There is a record of a number of these being issued to US Navy ships during the Civil War. Some 25.25-inches overall, the blade is 20.25 of that.
The bayonet has a steel blade with a ribbed cast-brass grip and cross-guard. The blade is stamped with an anchor and 1861 on the obverse ricasso and Collins & Co / Hartford / Conn on the reverse. The cross-guard is also stamped with an anchor. The flat of the grip is stamped 503 while the obverse cross-guard is stamped 4.C.8.
Better known for their axes and agriculture implements, Collins & Co turned to the manufacturing of swords and bayonets at the outbreak of the American Civil War. They contracted with the firearms companies to produce bayonets compatible with the new models of rifles.
Collins also made saber bayonets for the Navy’s Plymouth rifle (10,000 made) as well as socket bayonets for the M1855/63 Springfield rifles during the Civil War.
Gunderson has one of the Collins Hankins & Sharps bayonets up for grabs (example seen below) while RIA had a rare Sharps & Hankins Navy model carbine up at auction recently, complete with a portion of its leather barrel guard.
“Along a jungle trail found this rugged boy (inf.) – he was Pvt. Art Neuer, machine gunner” – SGT. Howard Brodie “Yank” staff artist:
Born in 1915, Brodie was a sports artist for the San Francisco Chronicle before his work during the war for Yank during which he was an Army combat artist– earning a bronze star the hard way. He went on to become noted for his courtroom sketches post-war but often returned overseas to draw combat scenes in Korea and Vietnam, passing at age 94.
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 their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017: Who touches me is broken
Here we see the Renown-class 15in gun battlecruiser HMS Repulse of the Royal Navy sailing as part of Force Z from Singapore, 8 December 1941, the day WWII expanded to the Pacific in a big way with the entrance of the Empire of Japan to the conflict. Just 48 hours later, some 76 years ago this week and just three days after Pearl Harbor, Japanese aircraft caught Repulse and the new King George V-class battleship Prince of Wales in the South China Sea, unsupported and unable to resist the onslaught.
Originally part of the eight planned “R” type battleships of the Revenge-class, big 33,500-ton vessels with 8 15-in/42 cal guns, 13-inches of armor and a top speed of 21-knots on a 26,500shp plant, the last two of the class were carved off and improved upon a good bit. These ships, Renown and Repulse had much more power (126,000shp on 42 glowing boilers!) while sacrificing both armor (at their thickest point just 10 inches) and guns (six 15-inch Mark Is rather than 8). But what these two redesigned battlecruisers brought was speed– Renown making an amazing 32.58kts on builder’s trials, a speed not bested for a capital ship for almost a half-decade until the one-off HMS Hood reached the fleet in 1920.
Our ship had a storied name indeed and was the 10th RN ship to carry the name introduced first for a 50-gun galleon in 1595 and last for a Royal Sovereign-class pre-dreadnought sold in 1911, earning a combined total of 7 battle honors between them. Her motto: Qui Tangit Frangitur (Who touches me is broken.)
Both Renown and Repulse were laid down on the same day– 25 January 1915, five months into the Great War, at two different yards. Repulse, built by John Brown, Clydebank, in Scotland, was the first one complete, commissioned 18 August 1916, just six weeks too late for Jutland.
Repulse became the first capital ship to carry an aircraft, mounting a tiny 800-pound Sopwith Pup on two bullshit looking flying off platforms from her “B” and “Y” turrets in September.
Repulse did get a chance to meet the Germans in combat, however, as the flagship of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron during the ineffective scrap of the Heligoland Bight on 17 November 1917 with RADM Richard F. Phillimore’s flag on her mast. The most severe damage done to the stronger German force under RADM Ludwig von Reuter was when one of the Repulse‘s 15-inch shells hit on the light cruiser SMS Königsberg, igniting a major fire on board.
Win one for the Repulse!
She later finished the war uneventfully but was on hand at the surrender of the High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow.
Post-war, Repulse was extensively rebuilt with some 4,500-tons of additional armor and torpedo bulges, drawing on lessons learned about how disaster-prone battlecruisers are in combat (“There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today”) against battleships and submarines. This gave her a distinctive difference from her sister for years until Renown got the same treatment. This process is extensively documented by Ivan Gogin over at Navypedia.
She joined the brand-new HMS Hood and five “D” class cruisers in 1923-24 as part of the “Special Service Squadron” to wave the Royal Ensign in a round-the-world cruise that saw her visit several far-flung Crown Colonies as well as the U.S and Canada.
In 1925, Repulse undertook Royal Visits to Portugal, South Africa and east coast of South America with Prince of Wales then largely spent the next 10 years in a reduced status with up to a third of her crew on furlough, though she put to sea for a number of exercises to give a good show between yard periods and a lengthy reconstruction.
She also picked up some deck-mounted torpedo tubes, always a waste on a capital ship!
Back to work after 1935, she was a common sight in the Med, protecting British interests.
Assigned to the Home Fleet at the outbreak of WWII, she sailed first for Halifax to provide cover in the western north Atlantic for HX and SC convoys then returned to the UK in early 1940 to screen the Northern Patrol and the Norwegian convoys, later operating off Norway itself, primarily in the Lofoten Islands, during the campaign there, just missing a chance to sink the cruiser Adm. Hipper.
Repulse then formed part of Force A, intended to block German surface raiders including Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as well as a variety of lesser cruisers from massacring Atlantic convoys.
She got a break in late 1940 with a refit at Rosyth where these great images were taken.
By March 1941, Repulse was assigned to Force H in the Med, and dispatched to Gibraltar where she would help shepherd Freetown convoys. However, in May the great German battleship Bismarck broke out into the Atlantic and Repulse took part in the effort to run her to ground– though she never contacted the Germans.
Then, Churchill decided that HMS Prince of Wales, who did get in some licks on Bismarck, along with Repulse would be a terrific addition to bolster the defenses of Singapore against a lot of noise the Japanese– who had just taken over nearby French Indochina– were making.
When the Japanese entered the war with a vengeance, enemy troop convoys were spotted, and landings made at Kuantan in Malaysia– with Force Z directed to intercept. Bird-dogged by two Japanese submarines, the Japanese 22nd Air Flotilla, based out of the French facilities at Saigon, tracked the woefully unprepared British ships and some 90~ G3M “Nell” and GM4 “Betty” bombers soon took to the air to erase the Royal Navy from the Pacific on 10 December.
It was a slow-motion slaughter that lasted for hours as the aircraft hounded the British ships.
At approximately 12:30 midday, the battlecruiser Repulse which had dodged 19 torpedoes so far, finally rolled over, within six minutes of three simultaneous hits. At the same time the relatively new battleship Prince of Wales also took three torpedoes – leaving her in a dire situation. With a torpedo having already taken out two shafts earlier in the attack, she was now left with just one. With this and, incredibly, north of 10,000 tonnes of unwelcome seawater aboard, her speed was massively reduced. However, not yet slain her crew took up the fight with high level bombers as she clawed her way home. From that final wave of attackers, one 500lb bomb came to be the final nail and slowly rolling over to port, she settled by the head and sank at 13:18.
In all, around 840 of HMs officers and men – including the task force commander Adm. Sir Thomas Spencer Vaughan “Tom” Phillips GBE, KCB, DSO, and flagship captain John Leach – lost their lives. The Japanese lost six aircraft and 18 aircrew. A squadron of land-based RAAF Brewster Buffalos, which were crap fighters compared to Zeroes but still could have fought off the lumbering twin-engine Japanese bombers, arrived after both ships were on the bottom. Four escorting destroyers, HMS Electra, Express, Vampire, and Tenedos, managed to pick up over 1,000 survivors.
Prince of Wales and Repulse were the first capital ships to be sunk at sea by aircraft alone, smothered in a wave of no less than 49 air-launched torpedoes, about 20 percent of which hit home. It was the final nail in the coffin in the air power vs the all-gun big warship debate following (ironically) the British raid on Taranto in November 1940 and, of course, Pearl Harbor. In the 13 months spanning these three engagements, there was a paradigm shift in naval warfare that found battleships on the bad end of the stick.
Of the attack, Winston Churchill said, “In all the war I never received a more direct shock. As I turned and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor who were hastening back to California. Over this vast expanse of waters, Japan was supreme and we everywhere were weak and naked.”
As for her crew, the survivors were scattered to the wind and continued as best they could once reaching dry land again, many winding up as prisoners of war when Singapore fell in Febuary 1942, a fate which some did not survive.
Repulse’s captain, Bill Tennant, survived the sinking and was not lost at Singapore, later going on to become one of the architects of the Normandy invasion, aiding in the setup of the Mulberry harbors and the Pluto pipelines. Sir William retired as an Admiral in 1949 and lived to the age of 73 and his earlier exploits during the miracle at Dunkirk before he arrived on Repulse were portrayed in large part by Kenneth Branagh in that recent film.
In 1945, when a major British fleet returned to the Pacific looking for a little payback and to take back Singapore and Hong Kong, it was centered around six heavily armored fleet carriers, escorted by a force of modern battleships slathered in AAA defenses– to include two sisters of Prince of Wales: HMS King George V and HMS Howe.
As for Repulse‘s own sister, Renown helped search for the pocket battleship SMS Admiral Graf Spee, traded fire with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, fought in the Med, covered the Torch Landings in North Africa, carried Churchill to the Cairo Conference and even made it to Java by 1944 to plaster the Japanese in honor of her lost classmate. She lived on to be scrapped in 1948 after 32 years of very hard and faithful service.
Both Renown and Repulse had their names recycled for an 8th and 11th time respectively, in the 1960s as two of the four Resolution-class Polaris missile submarines in the Royal Navy. Those boombers are currently laid up at Rosyth dockyard with their used nuclear fuel removed after three decades of deterrent patrols.
The 1941 loss of Repulse and Prince of Wales is still painfully remembered in the Royal Navy today, akin to the loss of the USS Indianapolis or the USS Arizona in the U.S. Navy.
The wrecks of Repulse and Prince of Wales were discovered in the 1960s and have been extensively visited and memorialized over the years.
There is now a campaign to urge recovery of some of the more important artifacts from Repulse (Prince of Wales‘ bell was salvaged some years ago) to beat illegal scrappers to the punch. As reported by the Telegraph, “The massive bronze propellers disappeared sometime between September 2012 and May 2013, followed quickly by components made of other valuable ferrous metals, such as copper. The scavengers have since turned their attention to blocks of steel and high-grade aluminum.”
And of course, she is remembered in maritime art across three continents.
27,200 long tons (27,600 t) (normal)
32,220 long tons (32,740 t) (deep load)
35,000 full (1941)
750 ft. 2 in p.p., 794 ft. 1.5 in (oa.)
Beam: 90 ft. 1.75 in
Draught: 27 ft. (33 at FL)
Installed power: 112,000 shp (84,000 kW)
4 × shafts, 2 × Brown-Curtis steam turbines steam turbine sets,
42 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers water-tube boilers
Fuel: 4243 tons oil for 4700nm range @12kts.
Speed: 31.5 knots (28 by 1939)
Crew: 967 (designed) 1,222 (1919) 1,250 (1939)
Belt: 3–6 in (76–152 mm) (later increased to 9-inches)
Decks: 1–2.5 in (25–64 mm) (later increased to 4-inches)
Barbettes: 4–7 in (102–178 mm)
Gun turrets: 7–9 in (178–229 mm)
Conning tower: 10 in (254 mm)
Bulkheads: 3–4 in (76–102 mm)
Aircraft carried: 2 Sopwith Pups (1917-20) 4 Sea Walrus (1936)
3 × 2 – 15-inch (381 mm) guns
6 × 3, 2 × 1 – 4-inch (102 mm) guns
2 × 1 – 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns
1x 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I 47mm
2 × 1 – submerged 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
3 × 2 – 15-inch (381 mm) guns
4 × 3 – 4-inch (102 mm) guns
6 × 1 – 102/45 QF Mk V
2 × 8 – 40mm (1.6 in) 2pdr QF Mk VIII “pom-pom” AA guns
4×4- Quad Vickers .50 cal mounts
8 × 21 in (530 mm) Mk II torpedo tubes
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Blowback action, it uses a gas tube from a Saiga coupled with a bolt group, top cover and recoil spring from an 8mm Mauser Yugoslav M-76 rifle with a firing pin and locking piece from an HK91 modified with a Suomi bolt head and an AK-style ejector.
The fun thing is since it’s a featureless stock and the drum mag is welded to a 10-round limit, the gun is California compliant, earning it the name “Cali Commie Tommie gun.”
In all, the gun took three years to build, and once he field strips it out, the weirdness really starts to set in. Somewhere in the Khyber Pass, an assembly of artisanal gunsmiths in man dresses and pakol hats are getting ready to offer this guy a guild membership.
I talked to the guy behind it, V8 Merc, after I covered it at Guns.com and he was just flabbergasted that people dug it.
“It is humbling to see my build get well received by others out there. All I was doing when I made it was to create a unique rifle I envisioned 3 years ago,” he said.
Can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve for 2020.
Naval and merchant ships have used line-throwing rifles (and shotguns, as well as small cannon) for centuries to heave lines from ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore to greater distances than what could be done with a deck division guy and a slungshot. Currently, the Navy uses M14s and M16s with blank-firing adapters for this task, but this post is about the USCG and their slightly more elegant 1903s.
The old Revenue Cutter Service/Revenue Marine used Coston Shoulder Guns– a converted U.S. Springfield Trapdoor Model 1884 rifle in .45-70 (and the similar Winchester Model 1886 Line Throwing Guns, in a 14-5 inch smoothbore of the same caliber)– from the late 19th Century through, in some cases, WWII (and by some accounts, remained in armories for a couple generations longer).Don’t get me wrong, the .45-70 line thrower was always a good gun for its purpose, even if dated. Today the Bridger Shoulder Line Gun uses a single-shot H&R Handi Rifle for the same concept and it is very popular.
However, around the 1930s these began to be supplemented by a series of line throwing 1903s. These 30.06-caliber rifles were converted by having the barrel rifling and sights removed to produce a 24-inch smoothbore with the handguard wood shortened to match. Two-pounds of lead was placed in the butt under a modified padded butt plate. The line bucket is mounted under the abbreviated forend and, as noted by Brophy, these were used with three different projectile rods in light (13 ounces) heavy (15 ounces) and illuminated buoyant types.
They show up at auction from time to time, being replaced by M16s and shotguns years ago, and are very curious.
The serial number on the above Port Clinton gun, #1211224, makes it a Springfield Armory-manufactured receiver made in 1920, so the gun has very likely been in the Coast Guard’s stocks since Prohibition when a number of brand new BARs, 1911s and 1903s were transferred to help arm the cutters patrolling Rum Row against often well-armed bootleggers. As the service used the .45-70 single shot line thrower through WWII, this Springer was probably converted post-1945 using the old rope bucket from retired black powder guns.
And the last Coasties to use them probably haven’t been born yet.
The Brazilian Navy is seeking to commission the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean landing platform helicopter (LPH) by June 2018, the navy told Jane’s on 6 December.
The navy is authorized to negotiate with the United Kingdom towards a GBP84.6 million (USD113 million) procurement. Prior to receiving the ship, maintenance and training activities would be done in the United Kingdom.
The 22,000-tonne Ocean, in Brazilian service, could host the Navy’s Super Cougar, Super Puma, Super Lynx, and Sea Hawk naval helicopters.
As I talked about in April, such a move would keep the Marinha do Brasil with a flattop of some sort– even though it is a helicopter carrier- long after the looming retirement of the 32,000-ton NAe Sao Paulo (A12) (ex-Foch) which in turn replaced the elderly NAe Minas Gerais (ex-HMS Vengeance), thus keeping the force as one of just a handful of navies that have been operating large bluewater aircraft handling platforms since for over 60 years.
Further, Ocean will be the only LPH in Latin America and the only ship native to the continent capable of operating more than 2-3 aircraft at a time.
Meanwhile, the UK is howling that the current government is not only getting rid of the cream of the RN’s amphibious capability as the rest of the fleet is similarly neglected, but also that the Army could be forced to “get by” with a 50,000-man force, down from the current 80,000 (which is down from 168,000 in 1991). It would be the smallest British Army since the general drawdown of the late 1780s following the end of the Revolutionary War and before the Napoleonic Wars kicked off. Even Cromwell’s New Model Army by 1650 was larger than that and he only had a population of about 5 million (compared to 55 today!)