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This pretty neat Bundeswehr film from 1988 shows REFORGER operations, specifically setting up an ersatz airfield on a closed portion of autobahn.

First come the standard Luftwaffe planes of the day, to include Panavia Tornados, Dornier Alpha Jets and F-4E Phantoms (using drogue chutes) along with some twin-engined Transalls.

Then follows some American C-130s, which unload a lot of plane handling gear, security forces, and ordnance.

Finally, some RAF SEPECAT Jaguars, Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s and USAF A-10s and F-15s show up to make NATO Cold War lineup complete, with the latter picking up some freshly unloaded Maverick AGMs.

Good stuff.

The concept dated back to the 1940s, when the old Nazi Reichautobahn was set up with just such a use in mind.

Junkers JU88 & Messerschmitt-Kampfflugzeuge Reichautobahn highway airfield

This 1973 film shows a group of 24 Fiat G.91 “Ginas” set up such a field in a day.

Some 29 Autobahn-Behelfsflugplatz/Autobahnflugplatz areas were created by the West Germans during the Cold War, with the length running between 2,000 and 5,000m. While most were demolished around 2005, several have been rebuilt in recent years and could still, in theory, pull off their assigned task if needed.

Constant Peg: The (formerly secret) Red Eagles of Nellis

Below is a really great doc about the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron. Better known as the Red Eagles, they were active from 1978 to 1988. During this time, they made 15,000 sorties and trained 6,000 pilots. The purpose: teach American pilots to win against Soviet fighters.  Their aircraft, “acquired” Warsaw Pact/Chinese-made MiGs and Sukhois as part of Operation Constant Peg.

(Video by Airman 1st Class Olivia Grooms, Nellis AFB Public Affairs)


Coming at you from 1962

The last rifle built for the U.S. military at Springfield Armory was the M14, and historic photos from its production vouch that it was made “old school.”

Put into production in 1959 to replace several weapons to include the .30-06-caliber WWII-era M1 Garand, the select-fire M14 would be manufactured by Springfield Armory, Winchester, Harrington & Richardson and TRW through 1964. In all, more than 1.3 million of these 7.62x51mm chambered battle rifles were cranked out before the line was closed in favor of the contractor produced M16.

Staining and fitting the M14’s wooden stock, a task not too different from the Armory’s past work on the M1 and M1903.

Function firing an M14 on full-auto. Note the four spent cases in the air. Besides the semi-auto M1 Garand and M1 Carbine, the M14 was intended to replace the M3 submachine gun, select-fire M2 Carbine, and the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

Function firing an M14 on full-auto. Note the four spent cases in the air. Besides the semi-auto M1 Garand and M1 Carbine, the M14 was intended to replace the M3 submachine gun, select-fire M2 Carbine, and the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

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Welcome to 1989, Delta CAR edition

A former Delta Force assaulter walks you through the awesomeness that was his CAR-15 back in the day, to include cardboard, a dive light, and bicycle innertubes.

Before he moved on to becoming the Vickers in Vickers Tactical, Larry Vickers was a career U.S. Army Special Forces guy who served with Delta Force throughout the 1980s. In the above, he shows off a recreation of his personal blaster from the period. The Colt Model 723 was basically a shortened M16A2 carbine that was more developed than the XM177E2 used by Green Berets in the Vietnam era.

His CAR-15 has plenty of things you just don’t see today outside of retro builds to include an upper with a non-detachable carrying handle and a tweaked two-position stock, and that’s just for starters.

As detailed by Vickers, he carried an Underwater Kinetics Super QXL dive light (insert giant sucking sound here as every airsofter and Delta operator fan rushes to search the web for one) that had been wrapped with black innertubes and hose-clamped to the handguard. Other mods include a jungle mag clamp set up with cardboard and 100 mile-an-hour tape and an AimPoint 2000— which the optics company says was discontinued in 1989, the same year Delta Force went into Panama.

“This was a great gun, great optic, a great piece of kit,” said Vickers. “Got me through harm’s way and got me home safely, so I am very partial to this setup.”

Delta force operators in Panama 1989, peak into a PDF cabinet filled with dollah dollah bills. Note the QXL-equipped CAR-15

The Great Prometheus of the swamp

The just love the aesthetics of this 18-ton bad boy:

Tank fans and lovers of all things tracked will be quick to note that Prometheus is, in fact, a British Vickers-made FV433 Abbot tracked self-propelled howitzer and not an actual tank. However, the Cold War-era vehicle, which mounts a stubby 105 mm L13A1 gun, could serve as a tank destroyer in a pinch through the use of HESH shells in a direct fire mode.

Based on the hull and Rolls-Royce K60 powerplant of Vicker’s FV430 series vehicles– which included the very popular FV342 APC– the Abbot is about the same size and vintage as a U.S. M551 Sheridan light tank.

Nearly 150 Abbots were used by Royal Artillery regiments until they were replaced by the much larger AS-90 155mm self-propelled gun in the mid-1990s although a smaller number remain in service with the Indian Army.

Last week, I got to drive Prometheus around the swamps of East Central Florida on a video shoot for at Tank America in Melbourne and had a blast while doing it.

Those examples of flat scrap to the right? Squashed cars, courtesy of Prometheus with yours truly squeezed into the driver’s hatch– while wearing a Hawaiian shirt

Expect video of the Florida “gun-cation” to follow in coming days.

Kampfflugzeug Phantom

The West German Luftwaffe began ordering the big F-4 Phantom II, with its twin smoky J79 engines, back in 1969 when it placed orders for the unarmed RF-4E recon variant. This was later expanded under the Peace Rhine program to include the very much armed F-4F from 1973 onward.

The below throwback film shows them in use in a Med exercise, flying from a NATO base in Sardinia in 1975.

In all, the Germans acquired over 200 R4/F-4s and kept the aircraft in front line service until 2013, logging more than 280,000 hours on the type, making the Luftwaffe one of the last Phantom Phlyers.

The below, from 2011, shows the type in service after 40 years, with Jagdgeschwader 71 Richthofen.

The Stoof delivered

People forget that the kinda dopey-looking Grumman S-2 Tracker ASW aircraft, known by the VS-squadron members that operated them as “Stoofs,” could carry a staggering amount of ordinance.

They could tote a 4,800-pound payload in the internal bomb bay and on six under-wing hardpoints and still operate from WWII-sized aircraft carriers. This included not only a wide array of torpedos, depth charges, and naval mines, but also rockets, dumb bombs, and other assorted party favors. By comparison, the Army’s North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers that bombed Toyko with Doolittle in 1942 could only carry 3,600-pounds of bombs.

S-2 Tracker of VS-32 at Quonset Point, RI late 1960’s. Note the lineup.

Grumman S-2E Tracker Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft (Bureau # 152339), of Anti-Submarine Squadron 37 (VS-37) from USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) In flight over the Chocolate Mountain Weapons Testing Range, Yuma, Arizona in June 1970. This plane carries a four-rocket pod of Zuni 5-inch Folding-Fin Aircraft Rockets below its port wing. Photo USN 1148263

Argentine S-2 tracker belly showing off LAU-68 Folding Fin Aerial Rocket (FFAR) launchers designed for launching ballistic 2.75 MK-4 Mighty Mouse rockets and practice bombs

Argentine S-2 tracker belly showing off LAU-68 (FFAR) launchers designed for launching ballistic 2.75 MK-4 Mighty Mouse rockets. Practice bombs are also visible on her wings

Not bad for what is commonly just thought of as a “support aircraft” during the Cold War.

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