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The Kansas Raygun

This interesting handgun, which looks like something right out of 1930s Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, is likely a one of a kind pistol from a Renaissance man in Kansas.

Rock Island had it up for auction this week (estimated price $100-$200) and I seriously thought about bidding on it for the aesthetic value if nothing else. Crafted by Mr. P. P. Belt of Fredonia, Kansas, it is a .22LR semi-auto that accepts Colt Woodsman magazines– why reinvent the wheel on the latter, right? The barrel is 5.5-inches long and I imagine the blowback rimfire action is contained in the rear of the receiver. The cocking handle is on the right-hand side. The piece has wood grips, a large bladed front sight, and rear notch.

Belt seemed like an interesting fellow. The Biographical Record of Jasper County, Missouri describes him as a jeweler and machinist in Fredonia (current pop just over 2,000.) He is listed on the Worldwide Registry of Auto manufacturers as having made his own car around 1904-1907. Popular Aviation in 1930 covered him because he made his own airplane with a Model T engine. His shop, powered by propane for “pennies a day” was considered interesting enough of its own account to earn separate mention at least twice in machinist and blacksmithing journals.

This guy….

Mr. Belt, thanks for a really interesting pistol design.

Update: I blogged about it over at last week the day before the auction, and after “very active” bid activity, it went for $670, which is uncharacteristically high for a homemade .22LR from an unknown maker. Hopefully, the lucky bidder appreciated the curiosity and will heirloom it for future generations.

Greetings, 2018

Yet, I always feel a century or two behind…

 German sentry welcomes in the new year, 1918. Photo colourised artificially

German sentry welcomes in the new year, 1918. Photo colourised artificially

A hot December

74 Years ago today, these Devils would probably rather be back home over an open fire than on a sandy beach.


Click to big up 1280×1582

Caption: The Marines Land. Marines hit three feet of rough water as they leave their LST to take the beach at Cape Gloucester, December 26, 1943

Ping! Cutting edge plans some 85 years ago this month

Here is Patent Case File No. 1,892,141, Semi-Automatic Rifle, Rec’d 27 Dec 1932 from inventor John C. Garand– any of which makes great man cave or shooting house wallpaper.

Via NARA (70663520).


Now that is a spud gun the Washington Artillery would be proud of

Using subscriber comments and about $35 worth of material, garage gun maker AK Custom crafted a classic potato gun but added some very 19th Century styling to set it apart.

While the spud-gun itself is made with a few pieces of schedule 40 PVC and fittings, the carriage is crafted from a few boards, some eye-bolts, a length of a fencepost and some repurposed cartwheels. The neat features that make the potato-launcher more of a replica cannon include some trunnions made from a length of a broomstick and a wick-hole for good ole’ green cannon fuze made from a rivet.

Interesting design. Want to see it in action?

100 years ago today: Surrendering the ancient city to a pair of NCOs from London in short pants

The Mayor of Jerusalem Hussein Effendi el Husseini [al-Husseini] (Ottoman), meeting with Sergts. Sedgwick and Hurcomb of the 2/19th Battalion, London Regiment, under the white flag of surrender, Dec. 9th [1917] at 8 a.m., 1917.

The Mayor of Jerusalem Hussein Effendi el Husseini [al-Husseini] (Ottoman), meeting with Sergts. Sedgwick and Hurcomb of the 2/19th Battalion, London Regiment*, under the white flag of surrender, Dec. 9th [1917] at 8 a.m., 1917.

As explained by wiki

During almost continuous rain on 8 December, Jerusalem ceased to be protected by the Ottoman Empire. Chetwode (commander of XX Corps), who had relieved Bulfin (commander of XXI Corps), launched the final advance taking the heights to the west of Jerusalem on 8 December. The Ottoman Seventh Army retreated during the evening and the city surrendered the following day.

The mayor of Jerusalem, Hussein Salim al-Husseini, attempted to deliver the Ottoman Governor’s letter surrendering the city to Sergeants James Sedgewick and Frederick Hurcomb of 2/19th Battalion, London Regiment*, just outside Jerusalem’s western limits on the morning of 9 December 1917. The two sergeants, who were scouting ahead of Allenby’s main force, refused to take the letter. It was eventually accepted by Brigadier General C.F. Watson, commanding the 180th (2/5th London) Brigade.

Jerusalem was almost encircled by the EEF, although Ottoman Army units briefly held the Mount of Olives on 9 December. They were overwhelmed by the 60th (2/2nd London) Division the following afternoon

The offica guard posted at the Jaffa Gate later that day were a little more turned out.

The surrender of Jerusalem to the British, December 9, 1917. First British guard at the Jaffa Gate

*The 19th Battalion, London Regiment (St Pancras), in existence from 1860, was a reserve unit that disbanded in 1961 after being called to the colors for service in the Boer Wars and both World Wars. Its lineage, however, is retained by the London Regiment overall which serves as a four-company TA battalion attached to the Guards Brigade.

The broken Hart

Awakened about 3:00 A.M., 8 December 1941 (2:00 P.M. Washington, D.C., time; 8:30 A.M. Pearl Harbor time, both 7 December), Admiral Thomas C. Hart scribbled this message to alert his fleet.

“Asiatic Fleet, Priority
Japan started hostilities. Govern yourselves accordingly.”

With the Philippines indefensible from a naval standpoint, by 14 December Hart had managed to withdraw his outgunned fleet in good order to Balikpapan, Borneo and continue operations from there. While his submarines kept slipping through the Japanese blockade of the PI, he engaged the Japanese at the Battle of Balikpapan Bay and came out ahead.

Hart held the command of the U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet in WWII until 5 February 1942, at which point the command ceased to exist though not a single ship was lost while he was in charge of the force.

An excellent 95-page overview of the two months between the two bookend dates is here

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