You failed to maintain your weapon, son

Public Service Announcement: This unidentifiable semi-auto handgun came into a shop in Michigan recently, unable to fire.

I wonder why?

After an overnight soak and full disassembly, it was returned to service. The baggie of debris is what had to be scraped away.

A little regular maintenance can work wonders. Also, be sure not to get too crazy with the lube, as it drags lint, dandruff, cat hair, et. al down from the surface into the inner regions of a gun’s action, and can leave you after a while with an unsat condition.

 

Modern day Monuments Men

The Nazis were really hit and miss when it came to art. While they stripped German museums of “degenerate” art and burned thousands of pieces in the courtyard of the Berlin Fire Department in the 1930s, they also systematically grabbed anything of interest in occupied Europe and brought it back to the Reich for the planned Führermuseum— in addition to officers and functionaries who simply looted pieces they liked and sent them home to the frau.

This, of course, led to the Allied Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA)– popularly known as the Monuments Men– who tried to turn back the clock when the purloined artwork was discovered in the war’s endgame. While the unit was disbanded by 1947, their work continues.

The FBI announced this week they are moving to recover a piece, A Family Portrait, aka An Amorous Couple, aka A Loving Glance, painted by minor French Rococo-style artist Pierre Louis Goudreaux.

This:

Why? The painting was allegedly stolen from the Bohdan & Varvara Khanenko National Museum of the Arts in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, during WWII.

According to an affidavit, the Khanenko had been willed the painting by Tsarist-era art collector Vasilii Aleksandrovich Shchavinskii in 1924 and is seen in photographs of the interior of the Museum in the 1930s.

When the Germans crossed the Dnieper into Kyiv in August 1941, the Khanenko evacuated some of its artwork eastward but left the Goudreaux behind in the shuffle.

The Germans occupied Kiev, September 19, 1941.

Once the city fell– which was disastrous to segments of the local population who couldn’t collaborate with the Germans– the Reichskommissariat Ukraine then seized numerous pieces from the Museum for the residences of occupying authorities and German troops reportedly looted many remaining valuables when they pulled out in 1944, so it’s unsure just who swiped it, but when the Reds came back into the city and did a review in 1948, the painting was no longer there.

Fast forward to 2013, and the Goudreaux resurfaced on the website of a New York auction house with a provenance that it had been held in a private collection in London and then a private collection in Massachusetts before being bought by a dealer in 1993.

So, it changed a bunch of hands from 1944 when it ghosted from Ukraine to when it appeared in London, likely several decades ago. How it got there is the mystery.

In the meantime, the Feds are trying to get it to send it home.

If you are curious about other pieces that are still missing, check out the Lost Art Foundation.

Keeping the lamp lit

While the U.S. Navy’s naming convention has shifted wildly over the years– for instance in the 1840s frigates were named for states but by the 1890s those names were used for armored cruisers, switching to battleships in the 1900s then ballistic missile submarines/nuclear guided missile cruisers during the Cold War and finally attack submarines today. For example, see the five different USS Mississippi which ranged from an 1839 paddle frigate to BB-23, BB-41, CGN-40 and the current SSN-782.

One convention, however, has endured for over a century.

In 1909, the class leader of a series of new 147-foot fleet tugs modified from the preceding USS Patapsco was named USS Patuxent (Tug No. 11) after an Algonquian people indigenous to what is now the Mid-Atlantic region. Likewise, her sisterships carried similar names.

Don’t let their mission fool you, fleet tugs from the beginnings saw a lot of hairy activity and dozens of battle stars have been issued to these unsung vessels.

Case in point:

USS PATUXENT (AT-11) A mine foul of the tug’s kite during sweeping operations in the North Sea, 1919. This mine exploded less than a minute after the photograph was taken. Description: Catalog #: NH 2616

After the Patuxent-class came the USS Arapaho (AT-14) class, which served through into the WWII-era. Then followed the 28-vessel Navajo/Cherokee-class and the storied 27-strong Abnaki-class.

These vessels held the line for more than three decades in hard service.

Torpedoed light cruiser USS Reno under salvage, fleet tugboat USS Zuni alongside, 5 November 1944. She later went on to become the Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa

4 June 1944 Tug USS Abnaki (ATF-96) tows U-505 photo from USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) Note the large U.S. Ensign flying from U-505’s periscope. 80-G-324351

USCGC Tug Comanche (ex. USS Wampanoag) tows crippled Japanese Kokaku Maru 1963

Finally, the Powhatan-class fleet ocean tugs which survive in the MSC today providing “towing, diving and standby submarine rescue services to the Navy’s numbered fleet commanders,” still carry proud names.

The fleet tug USNS MOHAWK (T-ATF 170) tows the battleship USS WISCONSIN (BB 64) to Pascagoula, Mississippi, for reactivation.

To perpetuate this tradition and replace the three remaining 1970s-era Powhatans, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced earlier this month the new class of Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ship will be named Navajo “in honor of the major contributions the Navajo people have made to the armed forces.”

Further, all seven of the class will be named in honor of Native peoples.

190215-N-DM308-003 WASHINGTON (Jan. 29, 2019) An artist rendering of the future USNS Navajo (T-TATS 6). (U.S. Navy photo illustration/Released)

“The Navajo people have fought and served our armed forces with honor and valor in nearly every major conflict since the birth of our nation, so it is fitting and right to name a new class of ship in their honor,” said Spencer. “The Navajo class of Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ships will serve our nation and continue the legacy of the Navajo people, and all Native Americans.”

Banana Boat Tin Cans

No, not these:

These:

The banana boat SS Matagalpa, ex-USS Osborne (DD-295), docked in New York near the Brooklyn Bridge (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

“Shortly after the cessation of hostilities of World War I, the United States found itself with a number of obsolete craft from the beginning of the era of the all-steel Navy. Now no longer needed, U.S. Navy disposed of its original torpedo boat destroyers that had entered service shortly after the end of the Spanish-American War. The three boats Truxtun class were bought by private shipping interests. The Truxtun (DD-14) and her sisters Whipple (DD-15) and Worden (DD-16) were refitted with diesel engines for the first experiment in making small, fast, shallow draft banana carriers.”

USNI’s Naval History Blog has a great rundown on these ships, and their repurposed career, in a reprint of an April 1971 issue of Proceedings available online

Getting speedy with the C7A2

Over the past several weeks, soldiers of the Canadian Army have been talking smack and posting videos on just how fast they can field strip their C7 rifles. The gun, a variant of the M16A3 made by Colt Canada, is the country’s primary infantry rifle.

In early February, Master-Corporal Lama Ghazzaoui of the Canadian Grenadier Guards threw the gauntlet down with a 47-second run, but many pointed out she didn’t do a function check and put the Elcan optic on backward at first, which kinda detracted from the whole thing.

Since then, other reserve units have chimed in with their own speed trials, with several coming in shorter– with some even dipping into the 30 and sub-30 second mark— including a function check.

Sabotage! 41 Rem Mag edition

Bloke On The Range is a great gun channel run by a British expat in Switzerland and he posted a few shots of this bad boy last week.

Meet Präzisionsgewehr (Precision-rifle) G 150:

This integrally suppressed “sabotage rifle” with a folding stock is chambered in the squat .41 Remington Magnum (10.4x33mmR) which fired a 409-grain bullet “at subsonic velocity for quietly messing with communications equipment, power transmission and so on in case of Soviet occupation of Switzerland.”

As the round was developed in the 1960s by accomplished red-blooded shootists Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan, they would probably have liked that concept.

Used by Projekt-26, Switzerland’s formerly top-secret (and still very hard to nail down even today) Cold War-era “stay behind” force, the G 150 is very interesting in an of itself. Built on a German-made Sauer rifle action, the rotary bolt action weapon had a three-round magazine and an unmarked 4-6X scope made by Schmidt & Bender, according to Maxim Popenker.

A Präzisionsgewehr G150 inside one such cache

The concept reminds me of the British Auxiliary Units or GHQ Auxiliary Units, “stay behind” cells consisting of some 500 independent patrols of 5-10 volunteers attached to Home Guard battalions 201 (Scotland), 202 (northern England), or 203 (southern England) during WWII. While most were equipped with Tommy Guns, P14/17 Enfields, and others, they also stockpiled a number of Winchester Model 74 rifles with a Parker Hale No.42 optic and a silencer (suppressor) to muffle its gentle .22LR report.

The more things change…

A link to Kearsarge, up at auction

We’ve talked extensively in passed Warship Wednesdays and other posts about the epic contest off France between the British-built steam privateer CSS Alabama, under the swashbuckling Capt. Raphael Semmes and the Mohican-class screw sloop of war USS Kearsarge on June 19, 1864.

The Battle of the USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama By Claude Monet, hanging today at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Aboard Kearsarge that day was Acting Master James R. Wheeler, a Massachusetts man who later went on command, as a volunteer lieutenant, the captured blockade runner-turned-Union gunboat USS Preston in the tail end of the war before serving as U.S. consul to Jamaica under President Grant, where he died in 1870. Importantly, Wheeler commanded the crew of the Union vessel’s key 11-inch Dahlgren shell gun, which pummeled Alabama into the sea at relatively close range.

This guy:

Well, sometime after Alabama and before Preston, Wheeler was presented a custom Ames Model 1852 Officer’s Sword by popular subscription among Boston gentlemen, complete with acanthus scrollwork, naval battle scenes and the likes of both Amphitrite and Poseidon.

Interestingly, it is well preserved and is coming up at auction in May, after once being part of the esteemed collection of Norm Flayderman.

(Photo: RIA)

More here:

Estimate Price: $75,000 – $125,000.

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