Archive by Author | laststandonzombieisland

The Guardian of the Mouth of the Mississippi

Here we see the mighty 55-foot powerboat-turned-patrol craft, USS Wendy (SP-448), underway during the Great War, likely around the Mississippi Sound to Venice, Louisiana area.

The original print is in the National Archives’ Record Group 19-LCM. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 102519

Note Sailor manning her bow gun, a 1-pounder. Wendy’s stern weapon is a Colt M1895 Potato Digger style machine gun. She is flying a 48-star Jack on her starboard signal halliard. Powered by a 40hp 4-cylinder Murray and Tregurtha gasoline engine, she could make 9 knots.

The former pleasure craft was built in 1913 by the Jahncke Navigation Co., New Orleans. Acquired by the Navy on 1 July 1917 and placed in commission on 3 August. She was decommissioned and returned to her owner on 9 December 1918.

COVID-19 Update 2

As I touched on briefly a couple weeks ago, we are all in this together and I thought I would talk briefly about what is going on in my life and neck of the woods when it comes to the whole Mexican beer flu (aka Coronavirus, COVID-19, Wu-Tang Clan flu, et. al).

My family and I have been social distancing by and large and, being away from the large “hot spots” have remained under a soft quarantine for the past couple weeks. I’ve canceled all my upcoming travel– with work trips to Minnesota and Tennessee scrubbed– and have barely put 100~ miles on my truck in the past two weeks.

The few trips I have made outside of the homestead are to touch base with a few friends in small (sub-8-person) groups, even then maintaining a good 2-meter distance from each other and talking outside in the drive/yard without touching anything. I proctored a 5K race make-up with six runners in a local club along the beach.

Most importantly, I have remained away from the big boxes and the crowds of scarecrows looking for TP.

I’ve responded to calls from friends for guns and/or ammunition, passing on three of the former and about 1,000 rounds of the latter to a variety of folks with concerns who have been confronted with empty store shelves. I’ve likewise done the same with extra venison from the freeze.

Lysol on doorknobs and surfaces, putting mail and delivered packages in a three-day quarantine of its own before opening, washing my hands 10x a day, using mouthwash after every conversation, nobody outside of the family inside the house, keeping up with my daily vitamin and supplement dosing to keep my immune system up, and the like have been the rule.

As far as work goes, I’ve passed on to the other editors that we still need to cover gun news but also to provide entertainment as there are millions of people stuck inside these days. We have responded with gun quizzes, TP in the wild photoshoots, classic gun coloring sheets, Glock word searches, and fun shooting videos. 

As many recent new gun buyers are apparently first-time gun owners, we have also repeatedly touched on gun safety tips in the past couple of weeks.

For reference, via the NSSF, should you feel the need to share:

Been working on my Victory Garden. I recommend everyone with the ability do the same, as this isn’t going to be over tomorrow.

Speaking of veggies, one thing I have stumbled upon is the fact that the local produce vendor has been stuck with a double whammy that they have to continue to accept contracted deliveries of fruits and vegetables while the restaurants they have traditionally supplied have all but shut their doors.

That leaves them with pallets of perishable produce and no buyers. A quick call to said vendor produced the below for $10, curbside service included.

I do believe I will keep heading back every week or so for such deals. Remember, shy away from veggies or fruits you cannot either peel, wash (most detergent-based soaps can also be used on food and rinsed with lots of water) or heat (to 149F for three minutes at least).

Stay safe out there guys, and remember to have fun.

The latest Hornet buzz

The McDonnell Douglas/Northrop and now currently Boeing-produced F/A-18 Hornet series have been around since 1974, making it a 46-year-old platform.

The Northrop YF-17/pre-production F-18. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archive 428-GX-K-118818. Photographed by PH2 James C. Brown

Originally pitched to the Air Force to replace their fleet of F-4 Phantoms and A-7 Corsairs, a job that went to the F-16, the Navy chose the YF-17 runner-up as the fast mover to replace their own A-4 Skyhawk and remaining F-4s (as well as the A-6 Intruder and A-7 once the A-12 program tanked in the 1980s). Entering preproduction in 1978 and gaining IOC in the early 1980s, the zippy F-18A/B single-seat and C/D twin-seaters held down the last days of the Cold War for the Navy and Marine Corps then went on to see combat in the original Gulf War, over Bosnia, and in the post-9/11 sandbox excursions.

Likewise, Northrop dropped its export F-20 Tigershark, an updated F-5E with new avionics and combat systems, in favor of selling the F-18 overseas and found success with Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland– pretty successful for a carrier aircraft!

The 2015 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Aircraft unveiled at a ceremony held at 3 Wing Bagotville in Saguenay, Québec on 27 March 2015. Image: LS Alex Roy, Atelier d’imagerie Bagotville BN01-2015-0186-005

With the U.S. Navy (and someday the Marines) shedding the F-18C/D model in favor of the altogether larger and more capable F-18E/F Super Hornet and putting the EA-6B Prowler in the boneyard in favor of the EA-18G Growler variant, other countries that have Baby Hornet experience have been looking at the Super Hornet to upgrade as well. For instance, Kuwait ordered 22 F/A-18Es and 6 F/A-18Fs to replace their older F-18C/Ds while Australia has picked up 24 F/A-18Fs for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to replace their aging F-111s, while F-35s will be replacing the F-18Cs.

Retired Ozzy F-18s coming home

Speaking of Australia, it was just announced that workers at RAAF Base Williamtown will service and prepare up to 46 retired F/A-18 Classic Hornet aircraft that will be sold to air combat training company Air USA.

Caption: Flying Officer Chris Baker from RAAF No. 3 Squadron, prepares his F/A-18C jet for takeoff at the start of a night mission out of RAAF Base Darwin. NATO Exercise Pitch Black 2008 (PB08)  

The Classic Hornet aircraft will be used to provide training services to the United States Air Force and will be prepared over the next three to four years.

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, said the work will provide employment certainty for workers in the NSW Hunter region.

“The work to prepare these aircraft and components for sale will provide 24 direct industry jobs while Air Force transitions from the Classic Hornet to the F‑35 Joint Strike Fighter,” Minister Price said.

Meanwhile in Germany…

The West German Luftwaffe in the 1970s was one of a quartet of forces to include the West German Navy’s Marineflieger, the British Royal Air Force and the Italian Aeronautica Militare to go all in for a variant of the Panavia Tornado swing-wing strike fighter. While the Marineflieger is now helicopter-only, the RAF has retired their Tornados and the Italians are in the process of doing the same, Berlin is still fielding the old bird, which left production more than 20 years ago.

Note German Great War ace Max Immelmann on the tail.

This amounts to some 85 Tornado IDS strike planes and 28 Tornado ECR SEAD/EW aircraft. While perhaps the most logical replacement would be more Eurofighter Typhoons, of which the Luftwaffe is already fielding 140, it now looks like the Tornados will be replaced with a mix of 78 to 90 Tranche 3 Typhoons, 30 FA-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 EA-18G Growlers.

As noted by Forbes, the Hornets and Growlers will be acquired because Eurofighter does not currently have B-61 nuclear bomb-certified (drawn from NATO stocks) Typhoons or a SEAD variant of the same available any time soon.

Japanese Convoy HI-88J Meets Apaches, 75 Years Ago Today

On 29 March 1945, Japanese Convoy HI-88J was intercepted in the South China Sea some 35 miles off Cap Batangan, French Indochina by B-25 Mitchell bombers of the 498th and 501st Bomb Squadrons of the 345th Bomb Group (Air Apaches), U.S. Fifth Air Force. In a running battle, the Japanese Type D-class escort ship CD-18 was strafed, bombed and sunk with the loss of her skipper and 184 crewmen.

USAAC Photo B-57672

The escort was followed quickly by her sistership, CD-130, which carried her entire 178 crew to the bottom, as well as the tanker Kaiko Maru.

Also sent to the bottom that day was CD-84, another Type D, scratched by the Gato-class fleet sub, USS Hammerhead (SS-364), torpedoed and sunk with her entire crew. Onboard CD-84 were also a number of survivors from the tanker Honan Maru, which had been sunk by the submarine USS Bluegill the previous day.

On 30 March, the next day, the Apaches went out again and found HI-88J off Yulin, China, where they sank the auxiliary sub chaser Shinan Maru before the convoy made it out of range.

Sortie of the Gunboat Submarines

From the very first U.S. Naval submarine commissioned, USS Holland (SS-1)— which was designed with a “dynamite cannon” in addition to her torpedo tube– American subs have tended to tote around some sort of gun to either make short work of small craft or at least fire the literal “shot across the bow” to make a vessel heave to.

Sure, there have been some classes that didn’t mount a piece on the roof, and since the end of Vietnam when the final WWII-era diesel fleet boats were withdrawn, about the biggest piece of artillery available to a surfaced U.S. submarine is a 5.56mm light machine gun, but in between you had everything from 3-inchers to 6-inchers carried.

Thus:

Perhaps the pinnacle of gun-armed U.S. submarine surface actions was the cruise of “Latta’s Lancers,” under CDR Frank D. Latta aboard his flagship boat USS Lagarto (SS-371) some 75 years ago last month.

CDR Frank D. Latta

Lagarto, a Balao-class boat commissioned in late 1944, was given a very gun-heavy suite to include a pair of 5″/25 caliber Mark 40 wet mounts as well as two 40mm/60 Bofors singles augmented with eight .50-cal M2 pintels.

This battery, enhanced with additional topside ready-use lockers, an expanded small arms magazine and the ability to store 220 80-pound 5-inch shells, gave the 311-foot boat a decent surface armament that rivaled a patrol frigate.

The Mark 40 was an interesting piece, weighing as much as a smaller 3-incher, but packing much more punch. Further, it could be put into action within a minute of surfacing.

USS Sea Dog (SS-401) with 5″/25 deck gun in action, as the submarine operates near Guam, preparing for her final war patrol into the Sea of Japan, circa mid or late May 1945.

The Mark 40. With a weight of 7-tons, a trained crew could make one of these stubby boys sing at about 15 rounds per minute– provided the shells could be hustled up the hatch from below at a fast enough rate.

A Mark 40 preserved today on the USS Drum, sistership to Lagarto. These guns had a maximum range of 14,200 yards.

Coupled with the similarly up-gunned submarines USS Haddock (SS-231), and USS Sennet (SS-408), Latta’s Lancers, formed a three-craft American wolf pack tasked with causing a ruckus off southern Honshū, Japan.

“Gunboat” submarines with two 5″/25 (12.7 cm) guns and centralized fire control. The submarine closest to the picture appears to be USS Sennet (SS-408). Note the two 5″/25s on deck and two 40mm guns on her sail

The goal was a diversion intended to lure early warning craft some 200 miles away from the track of carrier air strikes against Tokyo.

Surfacing in the predawn hours of 13 February 1945 and using their SJ surface radars to track a set of small Japanese trawlers-turned-gunboats that they dutifully opened fire on– and allowed said trawlers to transmit a warning back to Tokyo– before the subs sank same. The prey was no mighty craft, Kotoshiro Maru No.8 (109 tons) and Showa Maru No.3 (76 tons), but the mission was accomplished.

Later that night, around 2200, the Lancers began stalking two more auxiliary patrol boats and were able to engage the pair in the dark hours of 14 February. That action left the Kanno Maru No.3 (98 tons) damaged and Sennet with a number of holes in her sail. In the end, all three subs were out of 5-incher shells, leaving the trio to finish their patrols separately and through the use of torpedos.

Haddock would successfully return to port, then spent the rest of the war on lifeguard station near Tokyo, standing by to rescue downed airmen after raids on Japanese cities. Used as a reserve boat off and on after the conflict, she was sold for scrap in 1960.

Sennet had a much longer life, serving until 1968, and was sold for scrap in 1973.

Sadly, Lagarto would be sunk on her 2nd patrol by the Japanese net layer Hatsutaka on 3 May 1945, in the South China Sea, with all hands lost. This included CDR Latta, who sailed his boat to join the flotilla of 51 other American submarines on Eternal Patrol in WWII.

She has been visited several times since, and her twin 5″ guns helped in her identification.

One of Lagarto’s two deck guns. Photo via Navsource courtesy Steve Burton. http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08371.htm

Only the Greybeards Left

100 years ago in Ukraine, after four years of the Great War and two of Civil War:

Official caption:

Only the Greybeards Left. When the principal men of the Cossack village of Prochnookopskara, South Russia, were called together to meet the representative of the American Red Cross there were none of the fighting age left. Only the old warriors, whose scars gave a good account of their former days but whose bodies had no longer enough vigor to fight under the fearful campaigning conditions of the struggle against the Bolshevists, met in the market place and doffed their astrakhan hats in honor of the visitor who brought help. The American officer at the left of the center surrounded by hetman in huge white caps is Prince Ourousow

Sadly, once the Reds won the Civil War in South Russia in November 1920, just months after the above photo was snapped, commissars began a state campaign of Raskazachivaniye (decossackization) that was genocide by any other name. Many of the old greybeards shown here soon likely found themselves labeled as “kulaks” or “money bags” (bogatei) for owning a few acres of land and were deported to Siberia in chains or stood up against a wall. The lucky ones just lost their land, horses, and guns and were allowed to join the local collective.

Although the Don and Kuban Cossacks were deemed “counter-revolutionaries” by Moscow and targeted for special treatment, it should be noted that at least one-fifth of all of the men in arms from the stanistas (about 30,000) did so under Red banners, with a full division, the First Don, being composed primarily of Cossacks. As such, many of the young men who rode with Budyonny’s Red Cavalry (Konarmiya) returned home to the farm in 1921 to be shown the light of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Paradise.

Babel didn’t cover that.

Sig promises a more affordable 716 rifle

Sig Sauer’s 716-series rifles have proven popular since they were introduced a few years ago. Essentially a 7.62 NATO variant of the company’s SIG516 carbine, it has been offered increasingly as a battle rifle, patrol rifle and designated marksman rifle (DMR), seeing a good bit of adoption in military and police circles. After all, India just ordered 72,400 of them last year.

The problem is, they run well north of $2K, especially for the SIG716G2 series, with is a piston gun.

That’s where the new 716i, with the appeal of being essentially the same gun at half the price, comes in at.

With a lightweight direct impingement system paired with the company’s TREAD line of semi-customization, the 716i is chambered in .308 Winchester. Standard features include a free-floating M-LOK handguard, a 2-stage Matchlite Duo trigger, and an M1913 Mil-Std top-rail for optics.

Using a 16-inch barrel with a 1-in-10 twist, the overall length of the 716i is 37-inches while weight is 8.5-pounds. The barrel has 5/8X24 TPI threads for muzzle devices.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Station HYPO

Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Navy Cryptology

National Guard Marksmanship Training Center

Official site for National Guard marksmanship training and competitions

tacticalprofessor

Better to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

Yokosuka Sasebo Japan

The U.S. Navy and the Western Pacific

The Writer in Black

News and views from The Writer in Black

Stephen Taylor, WW2 Relic Hunter

World War 2 Historian, Relic Hunter and expert in identification of WW2 relics

USS Gerald R. Ford

Mission Ready, Qualified & Competent, On Time Execution!

The Unwritten Record

Exploring History with the National Archives Special Media Division

Stuff From Hsoi

Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.

Louisville Gun

Thoughts and Musings on Gun Control & Crime

CIVILIAN GUNFIGHTER

Identifying the Best Training, Tools, and Tactics for the Armed Civilian!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Under Every Leaf.

A Site for the British Empire 1860-1913

JULESWINGS

Military wings and things

Western Rifle Shooters Association

National status: FRISKY

Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică

The Mechanix of Auto, Aviation, Military...pert near anything I feel relates to mechanical things, places, events or whatever I happen to like. Even non-mechanical artsy-fartsy stuff.

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