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About those 3D guns…

In May 2013, Cody Wilson, through his Austin-based company Defense Distributed, created the Liberator, a nearly entirely 3-D printed, single-shot .380 ACP pistol for which he freely shared the plans for online. In the first two days, the files were downloaded nearly 100,000 times. Then the federal government, specifically the State Department under John Kerry, demanded the plans for the Liberator be pulled from the website until further notice under international arms regulations, citing “the United States government claims control of the information.”

Wilson, allied with the Second Amendment Foundation, challenged that logic in court and won the settlement announced this week that will see DefDist once again post 3-D gun files starting Aug. 1 via “The age of the downloadable gun begins.”

And they aren’t just about the Liberator anymore:

More in my column at

120 years ago today, the rest of the picture

Source Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, via 1898-07-03 Harper’s Weekly.

Here we see a group of U.S Army victors on Kettle Hill on about July 3, 1898, after the battle of “San Juan Hill(s).” Left to right are officers and men of the vaunted “Brave Rifles” of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Regiment, center is the “Rough Riders” of the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (with former Asst. Scty of the Navy, Col. Theodore Roosevelt, center, with a revolver salvaged from the USS Maine in his holster) and the African-American Troopers (“Buffalo Soldiers”) of the 10th U.S. Cavalry to the right.

This photo is often shown cropping out all but the 1st Vol Cav and TR and billed as “Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders at the top of the hill which they captured, Battle of San Juan.”


Happy Flag Day

Even in Preble’s day, the flag had to be guarded day and night to prevent souvenir hunters from making away with bits of it-Note the relative size of the Marine complete with heavy white buff leather belts, M1859 pattern enlisted dress frock coat with fringed epaulettes and tall painted shako. This particular antebellum uniform would be replaced in 1875.

This is the first known photograph, taken on 21 June 1873 in the Boston Navy Yard by then-Commodore George Henry Preble, of the Great Garrison Flag– the famous flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. The flag was flown over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during the bombardment of the position by the Brits in 1814. Preble, entered the Navy as a midshipman on December 10, 1835, and retired in 1878 as a rear admiral after a 43-year career.

While at the Boston Naval Yard, Preble had the cotton and dyed English wool bunting flag sewn to a piece of sailcloth in order to preserve it and penned the first book about the ensign, History of the American Flag. Even in Preble’s day, the flag had to be guarded day and night to prevent souvenir hunters from making away with bits of it– and swaths cut from the banner before then still surface today. 

The flag has been in the Smithsonian’s collection since 1912 and was restored/stabilized in 2008.

The preserved Star-Spangled Banner today is on display in its own protective chamber at the Smithsonian, and you can thank RADM Preble for that. (Hugh Talman / NMAH, SI)

Washington’s Standard

Also, if you are in the Philadelphia area this week/end, the faded and fragile blue silk flag known as the Commander-in-Chief’s Standard that marked General George Washington’s presence on the battlefield during the Revolutionary War will be on display this Flag Day through Sunday, marking its first public display in Philadelphia since the war itself. The Museum of the American Revolution is bringing the old banner out from secure archival storage for the event.

The AmRev will also have famous original Monmouth Flag and the Forster Flag on display, two of the oldest surviving flags from the American Revolution, dating to 1775-6.


Slab’s Takur Ghar blaster

Found in the NHHC Curator Branch Collection: This rifle was carried by then-Senior Chief Britt “Slab” Slabinski while serving as Team Leader of Maco 30 during the Battle of Takur Ghar in support of Operation Anaconda.

Lots of pic rails, standard A2 grip, no suppressor. But this is no Mk18– look at the magwell, that’s an AR-10, specifically a Rifle, Sniper, 7.62MM, MK 11 Mod 0 (SR-25)

Op Anaconda was the first major ground combat operation in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Master Chief Petty Officer Slabinski was awarded the Medal of Honor May 24, 2018 for his actions in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda in 2002.

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2018) A file photo taken in March 2002 of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt K. Slabinski on Roberts Ridge. President Donald J. Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to Slabinski during a White House ceremony May 24, 2018 for his heroic actions during the Battle of Takur Ghar in March 2002 while serving in Afghanistan. Slabinski was recognized for his actions while leading a team under heavy effective enemy fire in an attempt to rescue SEAL teammate Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts during Operation Anaconda in 2002. The Medal of Honor is an upgrade of the Navy Cross he was previously awarded for these actions. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Slabinski’s bio:

Fan of pulps?

As a kid who grew up with surrounded by stacks of vintage 1960 and 1970s “Mens” magazines compiled by my slightly older uncles and handed down along with other, older sci-fi titles from the 1950s that came from my grandfather, I am a fan of pulp fiction publications of the 20th Century.

If you are like-minded, check out the 11,000-title strong Pulp Magazine Archive, which is, by the way, free.

There is also:


You are welcome!

Franklin’s Guardians

A watercolor of the HMS Terror exploring the Canadian Arctic, which she would never leave (Canadian Museum of Civilization)

Ownership of the two ships, Adm. Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two of the most archaeologically important wrecks in the world, was formally transferred to the Canadian government with the signing of a Deed of Gift at a ceremony last month with the Inuit of Nunavut, who played a key role in their discovery, recognised as joint owners of the wrecks and artifacts.

After a local Canadian Forces Ranger pointed out where Franklin’s lost Arctic survey ship HMS Terror was in 2016, a group of 17 Inuit was enlisted by Parks Canada last year to camp out in rotating four-person shifts to protect the historic site and that of Franklin’s other ship, HMS Erebus, which was discovered in much the same way in 2014.

The two ships, under the command of Sir John, set sail from England in 1845 through the Canadian Arctic to find the Northwest Passage. During the treacherous journey, the ships became trapped in thick sea ice. The crews abandoned the ships to trek overland to safety, but tragically none survived.

Painting depicting the fate of Sir John Franklin’s expedition. ”They forged the last links with their lives’ by William Smith Via Royal Maritime Museum Greenwich

“The story behind these vessels is both fascinating and incredibly important to the history of both our nations. The UK joined forces with the Canadian government and Inuit population to search for these ships for 172 years and I’m delighted they will now be protected for future generations,” said UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Artifacts from the wrecks will be available for display at museums in both countries. Currently, there are examples on display at the Canadian Museum of History as part of the “Death in the Ice” exhibit.

The Expedition’s timeline, from the Canadian Museum:

Franklin’s expedition and the dozens of follow-on missions to find him made headlines around the world, such as in this German print, for decades

May 19, 1845: The Franklin Expedition departed from Greenhithe, near London, England.

July 4, 1845: The ships arrived at the Whale Fish Islands, Greenland, after a stormy Atlantic crossing.

July 12, 1845: Officers and crewmembers mailed their last letters home.

July 29 or 31, 1845: HMS Erebus and Terror were sighted in Baffin Bay by whaling ships. This was the last time the ships and their crews were seen by Europeans.

Winter 1845 to 1846: The expedition spent its first winter in the Arctic off Beechey Island. Three members of the crew died and were buried on Beechey Island.

Summer 1846: The expedition headed south into Peel Sound.

September 1846 to Spring 1848: The ships were beset — surrounded and stuck in ice — northwest of King William Island.

June 11, 1847: Sir John Franklin died. He was 61 years old and had served in the Royal Navy for 47 years.

April 22, 1848: The expedition had been stuck off King William Island for over a year and a half. Fearing they would never escape, the men deserted the ships.

April 25, 1848: The men landed on King William Island. Nine officers and 15 seamen had already died. There were 105 survivors. Officers left a note stating their plan to trek to the Back River.

January 20, 1854: Franklin’s Expedition is missing for more than eight years. The Admiralty announced that its officers and men will be declared dead as of March 31, 1854.

1847–1880: More than 30 expeditions sailed, steamed or sledged into the Arctic from the east, west, and south. Very few found any trace of the expedition.

2008: A renewed search for Franklin’s ships began under the leadership of Parks Canada.

September 1, 2014: An important clue is found on an island in Wilmot and Crampton Bay: an iron davit pintle (fitting). Parks Canada refocuses its efforts near that island.

September 2, 2014: 167 years after the British Admiralty’s search began, the first wreck, HMS Erebus, is found.

2016: Almost two years to the day after the discovery of Erebus, Terror is located in Terror Bay, off the southern coast of King William Island.

73 years ago today: Frustration and high explosives

30 April 1945…

Royal Australian Engineers of the 2/13 Field Company, exhausted after an initial failed attempt to get ashore at the settlement of Lingkas to blow up wire defenses under heavy Japanese fire, rest in a landing craft vehicle before a later successful attempt at full tide during the Borneo Campaign. Tarakan island, Borneo, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Via British Commonwealth Forces.

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