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And just like that, we have a new jet

So Lockheed Martin just coughed up an updated F-16 they call the F-21 to pitch to the Indian Air Force, who is shopping hard for a new strike fighter to replace aging Jaguars and MiG-29s. While the current crop of suitors includes the F-16, MiG-35, Dassault Rafale, and Eurofighter Typhoon, the IAF is reportedly not loving the F-16 as it is a more dated design. With that in mind: Boom! Here’s the F-21!

“Specifically configured for the Indian Air Force, the F-21 provides unmatched ‘Make in India’ opportunities and strengthens India’s path to an advanced airpower future,” says Lockheed, hinting it as a stepping stone to get some of that sweet F-35 love.

The move reminds me of that time in 1982 that Northrop took the F-5G and dubbed it– the F-20 Tigershark!

Only 3 Tigersharks were built on spec and, with no sales on the horizon for the upgraded Vietnam-era aircraft, Northrop canned the program in 1986.

Maybe Lockheed will have better luck

The Micks get muscular

Formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the Irishmen who fought in the Second Boer War, the Irish Guards, commonly known as “The Micks,” have been a facet of the Guards for going on 119 years.

Besides heavy frontline service in both World Wars, the Irish Guards have been best-known for…well, guarding (Photos: MOD Crown Copyright)

This month they came off of their normal peacetime gig– that of the largely ceremonial public order duty in their traditional bearskins– and are transitioning to an operational unit, ready for overseas service with the British Army’s 11 Brigade.

On 30 January they paraded with their regimental Drums and Pipes off Buckingham Forecourt for the final time for the next few years.

The Irish Guards return to Wellington Barracks, having come off Queen’s Guard Duty 2019. Note the winter grey greatcoats

The Irish Guards and their Colours after their final Queen’s Guard Duty for some time.

The Irish Guards on the steps of Wellington Barracks after their Guard Duty came to an end last month.

Currently spread all over the UK and overseas in small contingents undergoing workups, the Micks will remain nominally in London for at least the rest of the year before they are marked ready to deploy and then…who knows.

Hanging up their redcoats and bearskins, they are now transitioning to Foxhound armored fighting vehicles. The 1st Battalion Irish Guards is currently composed of three rifle companies, No.1, No.2, and No.4 Companies, along with Headquarters Company, and Support Company the latter of which has Recon, Anti-Tank, Sniper and Artillery Platoons.

Some of the Irish are on Pirbright ranges brushing up on small arms, others are in the Stanford Training Area doing small unit tactics.

The Reconnaissance Platoon emerges from the early morning mist in Northumberland on their 8-mile fitness test.

Irish Guards in the dreary Salisbury Plain Training Area Feb 2019

Irish Guards at the Ash Ranges with LMT’s DMR, dubbed the L129A1 Sharpshooter Rifle, in British service. Feb 2019. Note they still have the Guards flash on their sleeve

A platoon is in Uganda assisting the Ugandan Peoples Defence Force in training, and still, others are creeping along the sewers and underground tunnels of the UK preparing for city fighting.

No. 2 Company Irish Guards carrying out bayonet fighting in the sewage system under Eastmere Village Feb 2019

This includes exercises in the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool – the first time troops have been in the tunnels since the 1950s.

While I am sure some are happy to get away from the daily interaction with tourists from around the globe, hopefully, they will not get a chance to add more honors to their colors.

 

One must follow zee rules, ja?

Those damned orderly Germans. A kid walking along the beach in Schleswig-Holstein after a storm last week stumbled upon something interesting in the sand– a box of 30 former Wehrmacht handguns ranging from P-38s to Astras and at least one Browning Hi-Power. So of course, he called it in and the local Kripo came by to dutifully cart them off for destruction.

But he did get some snaps of them before that occurred.

Honestly, the can they were in was likely sealed until very recently judging from the low level of corrosion.

More in my column at Guns.com

Want to know how many guns CMP has in the warehouse?

By the numbers from a recent 44-page GAO report on the government-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program:

304,233 – The number of former military rifles the group sold to U.S. citizens from 2008 through 2017.

$196.8 million – The revenue from those sales, or about $650 per rifle.

279,032 – The number of rifles transferred by the Army to CMP at the same time (note the less than 1:1 replacement in inventory).

$85.8 million – The cost of the program’s marksmanship activities in the past decade, mostly promoting youth in the shooting sports nationwide

$3.6 million – CMP’s cost of the program providing free ceremonial rifles to veterans groups during the same time

$15.6 million – The non-profit’s expenses for 2017, ranging from targets and ranges to keeping the lights on to guarding the expansive warehouses and inspecting/repairing pallets of sometimes moody guns and ammo.

$0 – The number of taxpayer dollars the group has collected. The only support they have had from Uncle since 1997 has been through the transfer of surplus gear and guns.

228,791 – The number of rifles CMP had on hand in Aug. 2018.

More in my column at Guns.com

Young battlewagons at play

Here we see, on the cusp of the Great War, a most excellent color-tinted postcard published by the Valentine Souvenir Co., New York from a photograph by Enrique Muller, showing brand-new early dreadnoughts of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet steaming in line ahead, circa summer, 1914.

The card came from the collection of Valentine cards amassed by CDR Donald J. Robinson, USN (Ret), in 1983. Catalog #: NH 101221-KN

The NHHC has identified these as USS North Dakota (BB-29) and her only sister, USS Delaware (BB-28), astern. The two-ship Delaware-class were only 518-feet oal and some 22,000-tons but mounted a full battery of ten 12″/45 caliber Mark 5 guns in five double turrets, which are seen in the above image. The 12″/45 armed a total of 14 battlewagons, and as such was the most prolific main gun in American battleship history.

Sadly, victims of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922, both the Delawares (as well as just about every other ship carrying the 12″/45) were broken up soon after as a general, yet ephemeral, sense of lasting peace had broken out. The mighty warships were less than 13 years old when they went to the breakers.

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019: Nimitz’s first Ranger, or, the wandering ghost of the Nantucket coast

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019: Nimitz’s first Ranger, or, the wandering ghost of the Nantucket coast

Collection of Francis Holmes Hallett via NHHC NH 93484

Here we see “Sunset on the Pacific,” a colored postcard circulated around 1910 showing the Alert-class gunboat USS Ranger (PG-23) at anchor looking West. The bark-rigged iron-hulled steamer would have an exceptionally long life that would see her serve multiple generations of bluejackets of all stripes.

One of the narrow few new naval ships built after the Civil War, the three-ship class was constructed with funding authorized by the 42nd Congress and listed at the time as being a Sloop of War. Powered by both sail and steam, they were 175 feet long, displaced 541 tons and were designed to carry up to a half-dozen era 9-inch guns split between broadsides. The trio were the last iron warships to be built for the U.S. Navy, with follow-on designs moving to steel.

While under construction, the armament scheme was converted to a single 11-inch smoothbore Dahlgren rifle, two 9-inch Dahlgrens, one 60-pounder Parrott, a single 12-pounder “boat” howitzer that weighed only 300-pounds in its carriage, and one Gatling gun– the latter two of which could be sent ashore by a naval landing party to conduct business with the locals as needed. Speaking of which, she could afford to send her small Marine detachment as well as up to 40 rifle-armed sailors away as needed to make friends and influence people.

Alert, Huron, and Ranger were all completed at the same time, with the middle ship lost tragically on her first overseas deployment off the coast of North Carolina 24 November 1877 near Nag’s Head.

Ranger was constructed at Harlan & Hollingsworth, and, commissioned 27 November 1876, was the 4th such vessel to carry the name.

The preceding two Rangers saw service in the War of 1812 while the original was the 18-gun ship sloop built in 1777 and commanded by no less a figure than John Paul Jones for the Continental Navy. Famously, on 14 February 1778, that inaugural Ranger received a salute to the new American flag given by the French fleet at Quiberon Bay.

Poster calling for volunteers for the crew of USS RANGER, Captain John Paul Jones, then fitting at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for her cruise into European waters. It quotes the resolution of Congress of 29 March 1777 establishing pay advances for newly recruited seamen. Description: Courtesy of Essex Institute Salem, Mass., owners of the original poster. NH 52162

Once our new, 4th, Ranger was commissioned, she was assigned to the Atlantic Station briefly before setting sail for the Far East where she would join the Asiatic Station, leaving New York for the three-month voyage to Hong Kong on 21 May 1877 via the Suez.

USS RANGER photographed before 1896. From Bennett, “Steam Navy of the U.S.” NH 44604

The crew of USS RANGER. Historical Collection, Union Title Insurance Company, San Diego NH 108286

Returning to the states in 1880, she was converted for survey work at Mare Island and spent the two decades slow-poking from Central America to the Northern Pacific and back while engaged in hydrographic duties. A ready ship in an area where no other U.S. flags were on the horizon during that period, she often waved the Stars and Stripes as needed in backwater Latin American ports while alternating between getting muscular with trespassers in the Bearing Strait and Alaskan waters.

While laid up between 1895 and 1899, the 20-year-old gunboat was modernized and landed her Civil War-era black powder shell guns and Gatling for a much more up-to-date battery of six 4-inch breechloaders and an M1895 Colt “potato-digger” machine gun.

USS RANGER, now with a gleaming white hull, photographed after she received 6 4-inch breech-loading rifles in 1897. After this refit, she could be distinguished from her sister ALERT by her funnel casin NH 44605

USS RANGER off the Mare Island Navy Yard, circa 1898, with her cutters in the water. NH 71743

USS Ranger Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, circa 1900. CDR Wells L. Field was her skipper at the time. The original print is color tinted, lightly. NH 73386

By 1905, with the Russians and Japanese getting all rowdy in the Yellow Sea and adjacent areas– with resulting battered Russian ships increasingly hiding out in the U.S.-controlled Philippines– Ranger received a refit at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and set sail for Cavite for her second stint on the Asiatic Station. However, a cranky propulsion plant kept her largely in ordinary until she was sent back to the U.S. in 1908, arriving in Boston on 12 December via the Suez Canal. She was decommissioned the same day and laid up in Charlestown.

With a perfectly good 30-year-old three-master in the harbor and little regular work she could accomplish, the Navy turned Ranger over to the state of Massachusetts for use as the pier side training ship for the Massachusetts Nautical Training School in Boston on 26 April 1909, a role she would maintain until the Great War.

When the U.S. entered the international beef with the Kaiser in April 1917, Uncle eventually remembered he had the ole Ranger on the Navy List and called her back to active service as a gunboat along the New England coast, renaming her USS Rockport in October. This changed again just four months later to USS Nantucket.

USS Nantucket (PG-23, ex-Ranger) anchored off Naval Air Station Anacostia, District of Columbia, on 7 July 1920. Note her wind sail ventilators. 80-G-424466

In July 1921, she was reclassified from a gunboat to an auxiliary with the hull number IX-18 and loaned back to the Massachusetts Nautical School. Over the next 19 years, she became a regular fixture around Boston and the waters up and down the Eastern seaboard.

USS NANTUCKET (PG-23) then loaned to the State of Massachusetts for use at Massachusetts Nautical School, 1933 Description: Courtesy of Mr. Gershone Bradford Catalog #: NH 500

Leslie Jones the renowned photographer with the Boston Herald-Traveler, must have been taken with the Ranger/Rockport/Nantucket during his tenure with the paper and he captured her on dozens of occasions in the 1920s and 30s.

USS Ranger, later USS Rockport and USS Nantucket (PG-23 IX-18), was a gunboat of the United States Navy seen at Charleston Navy Yard. Photo by Leslie Jones Boston Public Library

Training ship Nantucket with the wind in her sails. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket 1923, firing a salute. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket leaving Boston Harbor for a cruise around the world 1923-05-17 Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Mass. nautical training ship Nantucket preparing for around the world trip at Charlestown Navy Yard 4.29.1928. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Secretary of the Navy Curtis Dwight Wilbur aboard training ship Nantucket in the late 1920s. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket 1928 at berth at North End waterfront note battleship in the background. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Cadets hauling line on the deck of the training ship Nantucket off Provincetown. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Bow view of the training ship Nantucket in drydock at Navy Yard. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket: landing force drill with bayonets. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket in Provincetown Harbor Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket in Charlestown Navy Yard 1930. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Sailors in the rigging of the training ship Nantucket at the Navy Yard, Jan 1931. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

USS Nantucket, Mass. Training ship, at Navy Yard Jan 1932. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket being reconditioned from a barkentine to a bark at Charlestown Navy Yard April 1932. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Cadets working with sextants on the deck of the training ship Nantucket while off Provincetown. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

When the clouds of war came again in 1940, Nantucket was taken back over by the Maritime Commission on 11 November 1940 for as a school ship at the new Merchant Marine Academy established at Kings Point, NY, after which her name was removed from the Navy Register for good.

Renamed T/V Emery Rice in 1942, the high-mileage bark gave all she could until she was damaged by the unnamed hurricane of September 1944, and after that was relegated to use as a floating museum ship.

At age 82, Ranger/Rockport/Nantucket/Rice was stripped and sold for scrap in 1958 to the Boston Metals Co. of Baltimore.

During her time in the Navy, she had nearly a dozen commanders (four of which would go on to wear stars) in addition to training legions of sailors and young officers for maritime service for two different schools. One of the most significant to do his time on the old girl was none other than later Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, who served on the ship as a newly-minted ensign from 12 August to 12 December 1908, on her trip home from the PI to Boston, before young Chester began instruction in the budding First Submarine Flotilla.

Besides her records maintained in the National Archives Ranger‘s original engine — the only example of its type known to be still in existence—was saved from destruction and is on display at the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point as a national landmark.

As noted by the As noted by the AMSE

The horizontal compound engine of the Emery Rice is a unique survivor typical of the period 1840 to 1880. The 61-ton back-acting engine has an unconventional configuration in that its two cranks lie close to their cylinders and two off-center piston rods straddle the crank-shaft in a cramped, but efficient, arrangement.

The cylinder bores are 28.5 and 42.5 inches. The stroke is 42 inches. With saturated steam at 80 pounds per square inch gauge and a condenser having 26-inch mercury vacuum, 560 indicated horsepower were produced at 64 revolutions per minute. The engine was designed by the bureau of steam engineering of the U.S. Navy and built by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania, for the U.S.S. Ranger, as the iron-hulled ship was first known.

Dr. Joshua M. Smith, Ph.D., director of the museum, kindly provided the below for use with this post.

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Interestingly, two subsequent USS Rangers, coastal escorts SP-237 and SP-369, would be in service at the same time during the Great War–while our Ranger was serving as Rockport/Nantucket! The next Ranger was one of the ill-fated Lexington-class battlecruisers and never made it to commission. Finally, her name was recycled for not one but two famous aircraft carriers, CV-4 (1934-47) and CV-61 (1957-2004), the latter of which was only scrapped in 2017. Hopefully, there will be another soon.

As for her sisters, 60 sailors from the wreck of the Huron are buried together in Section Five of the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in well cared for lots while the ship herself is protected by federal mandate in her watery grave. A highway marker near Nag’s Head mentions her loss.

Alert continued to serve in the Navy as a submarine tender until she was decommissioned 9 March 1922 after a very respectable 47 years of service. She was sold three months later for scrap and I can find no trace of her today. During her time in service, Alert had 23 official captains, including future RADM. William Thomas Sampson, known for his later victory in the Battle of Santiago. Our subject outlived her by more than three decades.

As for King’s Point, the institution is still in cranking out USMM officers today and Ranger‘s original school, the Massachusetts Nautical School, is now the Massachusetts Maritime Massachusetts Maritime Academy located in Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod– Ranger‘s old stomping ground.

Specs:
Displacement: 1,202 long tons
Length: 175 ft. (53 m)
Beam: 32 ft. (9.8 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft. (4.6 m)
Draft: 13 ft. (mean)
Installed power: Five boilers driving 1 × 560 ihp, 64 rpm compound back-acting steam engine
Propulsion: 1 × 12 ft. diameter × 17.5 ft. pitch propeller, auxiliary sails
Speed: 10 knots under steam
Complement: 138 officers and enlisted (typically including a 15 man Marine detachment until 1898).
Armament:
(1875)
1x 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren gun
2 x 9 in (230 mm) Dahlgren guns
1x 60 pdr (27 kg) Parrott rifle
1x 12 pdr (5.4 kg) boat howitzer
1x Gatling gun for landing party
spar torpedoes for her steam launch (provision deleted after 1889)
(1897)
6x 4-inch breech-loading rifles
4x 6-pounder 57mm guns
1x Colt M1895 potato-digger type machine guns for landing party
(1921)
4x 4″/50 mounts

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Keep off Gov boats!

The sad fate of the majority of the U.S. Navy’s Great War splinter fleet.

Here we see a trio of disarmed 110-foot subchasers to include USS SC-216 and USS SC-225 in Boston harbor’s Dorchester Bay boat graveyard, likely shortly after they were bought by the firm of C. P. Comerford Co., who picked up at least seven of these ships for pocket change in 1921. Note the sign that reads “KEEP OF GOV BOATS.”

Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Designed by Herreshoff Boat Yard Vice President, the esteemed naval architect Albert Loring Swasey (Commodore of the MIT Yacht Club in 1897) on request of Asst SECNAV Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1916 and rushed into construction the next year, the Navy ordered hundreds of 110-foot subchasers to smother the Kaiser’s U-boats on the high seas. It was believed the vessels could be rushed out via commercial boatyards at $500K a pop.

Derided as a “splinter fleet” the SCs were built from wood, which, when powered by a trio of Standard 220-hp 6-cylinder gasoline (!) engines, a 24~ man crew could get the narrow-beamed vessel underway at a (designed) top speed of 18 knots, which was fast enough for U-boat work at the time. However, once the war was over, the steel Navy had little need or use for immense flotillas of these little wooden boats with their fire-prone engineering suites. Of the nearly 450 built, more than 100 were transferred to the French during the war, some to the Coast Guard in the 1920s, and most liquidated throughout the 1920s.

As a reference for just how short of a life the two named boats above had, here is the entirety of their DANFS entries:

SC-216: Built at Alex. McDonald, Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, N.Y. Commissioned 2/14/18. Sold 5/11/21 to C. P. Comerford Co., Lowell, Mass.

SC-225 Built at New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co., Morris Heights, N.Y. Commissioned 12/10/17. Sold 5/11/21 to C. P. Comerford Co., Lowell, Mass.

Here are a few more shots from the same series:

Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

110 Sub chaser No. 241 in the scrapyard. According to DANFS, she was, “Built at New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co., Morris Heights, N.Y. Commissioned 4/8/18. Sold 5/11/21 to C. P. Comerford Co., Lowell, Mass.” Photo from Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

By WWII, just a dozen of the Great War’s 110-footers remained on the Naval List although they were still in their 20s. A similar fate would meet the myriad of wooden PT-boats and rescue boats rushed into service during the 1940s.

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