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White Sniper: Simo Hayha’ by Tapio Saarelainen

During the 1939-40 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, a hunter and farmer by trade by the name of Simo Hayha returned to his reserve unit and picked up 542 confirmed kills with iron sights.

While versions of Hayha’s story is well known in the West, the 192 pages of Tapio Saarelainen’s White Sniper goes past the second and third-hand accounts and brings you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

It should be noted that Saarelainen is a career military officer who spent two decades training precision marksmen for the Finnish Army and even helped write that Scandinavian country’s manual for snipers. Besides this obvious resume to prepare him to write the work on Hayha, the author also met and interviewed the Winter War hero dozens of times over a five year period.

That’s a good part of what makes White Sniper such an interesting read is that it is drawn largely from first-hand accounts from a man who has been referred to as the deadliest sniper in history, but also from those who lived next to, fought alongside with, and knew the man personally. As such, it sheds insight on the man not known in the West. Such as the fact that he used his own personal Finnish-made Mosin M/28-30 rifle that he had paid for with his own funds. That his outnumbered fellow Finns, fighting alongside him in the frozen Kollaa region during that harsh winter, called him “Taika-ampuja” which translates roughly as the “Magic Shooter.” That he took almost as many moose and foxes in his life as he did Russians. That he was unassuming in later life, spending most of his time calling on old friends in his yellow VW Bettle.

More of my review here.

To check out Saarelainen’s book on Amazon here.

So I have a bayou bladesmith buddy

Warren likes to beat himself up.

I met him a little over a decade ago and he is a fellow LE instructor in everything from niche stuff like ballistic shield training to edged weapon defense as well as, of course, the more pedestrian rifle-pistol-shotgun fields of study.

Currently the head of a police department covering an area the size of a small city but with greater jurisdictional issues, some of my fondest memories of ole Warren (who shows up as the character Heath in one of my zombie novels) is in how he just seems to love pain as he goes out of his way sometimes to get himself hurt.

Take for instance in his long-studied craft of knife making. On my last visit to his shop, I found him with fingertips almost completely devoid of fingerprints due to regular interaction with forge, belt, and interaction with metal.

He likes taking abused old tools like broken draw knives, rusty shovels, and other items, then giving them a new life as a handcrafted edged weapon. He calls them “recovered material” which sounds very hipster to me and argues each has a touch of character and one-of-a-kind appearance that newly manufactured products just don’t.

These neck knives are made from an old shovel. He crafted the leather himself. The guy has a palm like a baseball bat.

This hawk head is made from a used lawnmower blade while the handle is made from a seasoned Cedar limb. The limb is hand sanded and treated with beeswax and orange oil. The heat-treated head is attached with epoxy, brass pins, and wrapped with imitation sinew

These display pieces are made from elk antler and found arrow/spearheads

This file is being remade into what Warren calls a “bayonet style knife.” You can bet this one will be full tang!

I don’t know what he made this sushi knife out of, but it’s wicked sharp

He also crafts blades from new flats of 1095, 1080 and 1085 tool steel.

One of the neatest of which is a little self-defense retention knife he carries at work and is proving popular with other local LE types. The single edge chisel grind blade is worn behind the holster and can be drawn with one hand to separate you from whoever is trying to gain control of your weapon.

It’s got a 1 3/4″ blade and 4″ overall length and is super sharp, coming with a companion Kydex sheath he makes himself.

He told me the design is constantly evolving and he has been working on it with feedback from others for the past six years.

I’ve been carrying one around for a few weeks and have told Warren he needs to ship these with complementary bandaids.

To pick up one of Warren’s blades, check him out here.

Somewhere over Southeast Kassel, Germany, 73 years ago today

Combat encounter report with German Me 109 completed and signed by pilot Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager dated 4 March 1944:

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Combat ENCOUNTER REPORT with German Me 109 completed and signed by pilot Charles E. Yeager dated 4 March 1944

Remnants of the Brown Water Navy


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On display at the US Navy (USN) Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument are (left to right) a PBR (Patrol Boat River) Mark II (Mk-2) Patrol Boat, a PCF (Patrol Craft Fast) Swift Boat, and an armored gunboat representing some of vessels the USN and US Coast Guard (USCG) used to patrol the rivers and waterways in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1975.

This memorial honors the 2,564 USN and USCG river boat Sailors and Guardsmen who died during the Vietnam War and is located onboard Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado, California (CA)

Camera Operator: PH1 (Aw/Sw/Nac) Daniel Woods. Base: Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, 11/11/2004.


Hobo’s Funnies


The MoD has a great write up on Major General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE, CB, DSO, MC– best known as “Hobo” — one of the most unsung generals of WWII.

In the dark days of late summer 1940, the recently elected Prime Minister, Winston Churchill directed the Army to reinstate one of its most effective, innovative and outspoken former senior officers. This man had led the British development of armoured tactics in the 1930s, but in 1939 he was sacked and found himself employed as a Corporal in the Chipping Campden Home Guard (armed with a piece of drainpipe with a bayonet welded to its end!).

But in October, Churchill summoned this 55-year-old corporal for lunch…and reinstated him as a General. He would go on to raise and train the largest Division to fight in Europe. He was Major General Sir Percy Hobart; possibly the most overlooked British General of the Second World War, whose legacy in military thought, innovation and leadership remains alive and well in today’s British Army.

More here

A battered relic of Saipan


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Japanese Arisaka Type 99 7.7x58mm bolt action rifle with grenade damage and inscribed presentation plaque captured at Saipan 16 June 1944. The “mum” is present on the receiver, a rarity in an of itself. This rifle recently came up at auction with an estimated price of $1,500.

Via Rock Island Auction



Got some scratch for a ‘barn find’ P-51?

You can always sit in it and make machine gun sounds...

You can always sit in it and make engine and machine gun sounds…

Last flown in 1983, Platinum Fighter Sales has an original and unrestored multi-owner P-51D Mustang up for grabs.

Known as the “Cadillac of the Sky” in World War II, the P-51 Mustang fighter was the mount of choice for several U.S. Army Air Force aces including Chuck Yeager.

The aircraft at hand, S/N 44-77902-N38227, was built in 1944 and carries the famed Packard Merlin V-1650-7 piston engine with Rolls-Royce 620 Heads and a few truckloads of spare parts including what look to be several spare canopies, blocks, wing segments and the like.

“This may be the last original unrestored P-51D Mustang in original military configuration,” notes Platinum, advising even the armor plating is still installed.

The plane flew with the Guatemalan Air Force between 1954-1972 and was returned to the States afterward, but has been in storage since the Reagan Administration.

If it surprises you that the Guatemalans flew the P-51 for so long, keep in mind that the last piston-engine dog fights, that of the Soccer War between fellow Central American military powerhouses Honduras and El Salvador in 1969 involved Mustangs and Corsairs.

Price?  $4.5 mill. But hey, it’s a P-51. All you need are a half-dozen M2 Brownings for the wings are you are set.

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