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The Moscow slap-chop

Below is a 5-minute primer posted last week by Rosoboronexport on Russia’s current crop of choppers for sale to international buyers with cash to spare. While many are new versions of old classics, such as the Mi-17V5 Hip and Mi-35 Hind, there are some other offerings covered as well.

The more you know…

Have you heard of the Udav? It could be the coolest milsurp bargain handgun in 50 yrs

So back in the early 2000s, TsNIITochMash in Klimovsk near Moscow– the same storied R&D bureau that has crafted dozens of specialist weapons since WWII such as the VSS Vintorez subsonic sniper carbine, the APS underwater rifle, and the PSS suppressed pistol —came up with the SR-1 Vektor, or SPS pistol.

The Vektor. Yes, it’s wonky, but dig the 9x21mm Gyurza rounds it uses (Photo: TASS)

The SPS, chambered in 9x21mm Gyurza (a very spicy SMG round that runs like 1,300fps in a 110-grain AP loading) uses an 18 round mag and has been in service with security and police tactical units since about 2004.

The CP2 (SR2) Veresk (Heather) is a very compact Russian submachine gun that borders on being a machine pistol designed to fire the 9×21mm Gyurza pistol cartridge as well.

Fast forward 15 years and TsNIITochMash’s new Udav (Russian= boa constrictor) is a ramped up development of it which is more of a full-sized offering that includes features that are common for “combat handguns” in the West (front slide serrations, accessory rail, threaded barrel) while still keeping that really curious Gyurza chambering and an 18+1 capacity.

Its new brother, the Udav. (Photo: TsNIITochMash)

It just won a trial to replace the old-school Makarov PM in the Russian military, and Rostec (who exports all of the country’s weapons from submarines to MiGs and AKs) plans on selling it far and wide.

More in my column at Guns.com

Russia can crank out 10K rounds per day for their Thunderball-era underwater gatts

Long considered essential beachwear for Russian frogman-types, production is ramping up for the special 4.5mm and 5.66 mm dart-projectile ammo used in the country’s underwater-capable guns. The 4.5mm round fires a mild-steel flechette dart loaded atop a 39.5mm bottlenecked case and is used in the 4-shot SPP-1 pistol while the larger 5.66mm cartridge was designed for the APS rifle system.

The SPP-1 and its darts

The APS

Due to automation, the factory can now produce 10,000 of these specialty rounds per day.

More in my column at Guns.com

Happy New Year, guys!

I hope your 2018 is finding its way out in acceptable fashion. Thank you for reading and following.

Here’s to a great 2019!

Oh, and of course, Victory will be Ours!

Soviet New Year Red partisan propaganda card (S Novym godom), 1942, after all, the Communists couldn’t celebrate Christmas, but everyone loves New Years. Good symbolism with the grizzled “old” year leaving followed by the new, fresh-faced young new year arriving. And yes, I’m loving the PPSH-41 and MP40 combo

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018: The first steamer-on-steamer scrap

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 week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018: The first steamer-on-steamer scrap

“Battle of the steam-frigate Vladimir with the Turkish steam frigate Pervaz-i Bahri on November 5, 1853, by Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov. 1850s Canvas, oil. via wiki commons.

Here we see the British-built steam frigate Vladimir of the Russian Imperial Navy who, 165 years ago this week, won the first naval battle between two steamships.

While steam-powered warships started to appear in numbers on all sides during the Crimean War and then became standard in the U.S. Civil War, they had an earlier start when the floating steam-powered battery Demologos was built in the U.S. during the War of 1812 to defend New York City. The Royal Navy commissioned the early paddle sloop HMS Medea in 1833. Not to be outdone, the Tsar ordered the 28-gun paddle frigate Bogatyr in 1836 (predating the U.S. Navy’s own inaugural paddle gunboat USS Fulton by a year) and over the next 20 years Russia picked up almost two dozen more of these early steamships before moving on to screw-driven vessels.

Steam frigate Bogatyr by Russian maritime artist Vladimir Emyshev

Paddle frigate Gremyashchy built in 1849-1851 by Russian shipbuilder Ivan Afanasyevich Amosov at the Okhta shipyard

One of these was Vladimir, ordered from the private shipyard of Ditchburn & Mare’s, Blackwall, after a design of Mr. Burry & Co, Liverpool.

Some 179-feet long at the waterline, she was an iron-hulled paddle frigate capable of making 10.5-knots on her Rennie of London 1,200 ihp steam engine by design. She made a trials voyage from Plymouth covering 154 miles in just 13 hours, at a sustained rate of 11.75-knots, belching smoke from her twin stacks. It was all pretty impressive for the era.

Paddle frigate Vladimir by naval artist A.N. Ivanov

In fact, she was handier than some of the British Admiralty-built vessels in the RN, and at a cheaper price– a fact not lost on the Mechanic’s Magazine of 1848.

The 758-ton vessel mounted a 9.65-inch shell gun as well as four 24-pounder gunnades, although this was later upped to 13 guns including two 10-inch shell guns, three 68-pounders, six 24-pounders and a pair of 18-pound chase guns.

Sailing for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in 1848, the Vladimir became the flagship of VADM Vladimir Kornilov and, by 1853, the country was at war with their traditional enemy in the area, Turkey.

With LCDR Grigory Butakov in command of the Russian paddle frigate, she met the 10-gun Turko-Egyptian armed steamer Pervaz-i Bahri (Lord of the Seas) on 5 November. Spotting her around 8 in the morning at a distance, Butakov laid on the coal and closed by 10 a.m.

Butakov soon assessed that the Turk had no stern-firing guns and, after delivering an initial salvo broadside, moved to that exposed quarter. With her shell guns firing over the bowsprit, Vladimir soon disabled the steering of the enemy steamer, destroyed her observation deck, knocked away her stack, and then, closing with the wounded ship, started to rake her decks with canister.

The slaughter was kept up for two hours.

Her skipper killed along with 58 of her crew, Pervaz-i Bahri struck her colors by 1 p.m. and was taken as a prize by a Russian boarding party who renamed her Kornilov in honor of their admiral.

Butakov lost just two men in the action and was quickly promoted to Captain 2nd Rank, and knighted in the Order of St. George.

As for Vladimir, the Crimean War was her downfall, being trapped in the harbor at the siege of Sevastopol. Butakov did, however, according to Russian sources, try out a new tactic then of taking on ballast to one side, increasing the elevation of his guns to extend the range to hit British and French infantry outside of the besieged city.

As the Allies moved in, the steamer was scuttled 30 August 1855.

The destruction of Vladimir

Adm. Kornilov had already been killed on Malakhov Hill the previous October during the first bombardment of the city by Anglo-French troops.

Vladimir‘s cannons were later salvaged by divers and she was raised after the war in 1860 by an American firm, though found to be too damaged to repair and turned into a floating workshop for the naval base. In the end, she was sunk as a target ship for good in 1891.

As for Butakov, he later rose to admiral in 1878.

Butakov

A number of flags from the ship as well as caps and epaulets from Butakov and Kornilov’s telescope are maintained in the Central Naval Museum in St. Petersburg. It seems the Communists couldn’t bring themselves to get rid of them post-1917.

The battle, vessel, and her skipper have been commemorated in a series of models, stamps, and paintings.

Specs:

Displacement: 758-tons
Length: 200 ft oal, 179 wl
Beam: 35.9 ft.
Draft: 14.5 ft.
Machinery: Rennie, London four-boiler steam plant, 1,200 ihp, twin paddlewheels
Speed: 10.5 kts, 2,000-mile range at 8
Crew: 150
Armament:
(Designed)
9.65-inch shell gun
4x 24-pounder gunnades,
(1853)
2x 10-inch shell guns,
3x 68-pounders,
6x 24-pounders
2×18-pound chase guns.

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.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

An aging Russki throwback, some 35 years ago today

The big 16,000-ton Sverdlov-class (Project 68bis) light cruiser Aleksandr Nevsky of the Soviet Red Banner Fleet on 26 October 1983, photographed in the Baltic.

While she would have been a mighty foe in 1938, when compared to the NATO cruisers of the Reagan-era, she was hopelessly obsolete.

Some 30 of these all-gun cruisers, based on Soviet lessons learned from WWII and study of Allied and Axis cruisers that passed through their hands then applied to the 1930’s Chapayev-class design, were ordered in the early 1950s– notably the last of their type fielded in large numbers. These ships carried a full dozen 6 inch/57 cal B-38 guns in four triple Mk 5-bis turrets. They were roughly equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s Cleveland-class light cruisers (14,500-tons, 4 × triple 6″/47cal guns) of WWII.

Following Stalin’s death, just 21 were completed and by the 1960s those left in service (Ordzhonikidze, for instance, was transferred to Indonesia with disastrous results) were soon relegated to intermittent command ship tasking and use as naval gunfire platforms– much the same as seen in Western navies at the time. By the late 1970s, most were dockside reserve ships, only trotted out for photo ops or foreign port calls to wave the flag.

Nevsky was stricken in 1989 and scrapped.

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018: The last of the Royal Navy’s peculiar may bugs

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018: The last of the Royal Navy’s peculiar may bugs

Here we see the Insect-class of “China” or “Tigris” river gunboat HMS Cockchafer (P95, P83, T72) of the Royal Navy. The hardy gunboat would give long service and be both the last of her class and the last of four RN warships over two centuries to carry the name.

The dozen vessels of the Insect class, some 237-feet long and 635-tons displacement, were flat-bottomed ships designed by Yarrow to operate in shallow, fast-flowing rivers, with a shallow draft of just four feet and enough muscle (2,000IHP plant on Yarrow boilers and twin VTE engines and three rudders) to make 14 knots, thus capable of going upstream against the flow as needed. While ordered as a class in February 1915 for emergency war service in Europe (e.g. to fight on the Danube against Austrian river monitors), the consensus is that they would, after the Great War had wrapped up, see China service on the Yangtze and similar large waterways to protect the Crown’s interests in the often lawless region.

These guys: Two Austro-Hungarian river monitors of the Danube Flotilla, in 1916. The closer vessel is a Körös, a Kovess class monitor, while the other appears to be one of the ‘Sava’-class.

They were well-armed for such endeavors, with a BL 6-inch Mk VII naval gun forward and another one in the rear (to poke holes in said Austrian river monitors), a group of six modern Maxim water-cooled .303 machine guns in a central battery, and a couple of smaller QF Mk I 12-pounders.

According to the excellent site on these ships, maintained by Taylor Family Collection:

Their steel plating was thin by warship standards – only five-sixteenths of an inch amidships tapering to about one-eighth of an inch at the ends. The decks were strengthened in the vicinity of the main armament mountings with steel doublers three-eighths of an inch thick and a three quarter-inch steel doubler was also fitted on the sheer strake over the mid-ships section as extra stiffening. Beyond this they carried no armour and had no double bottoms unlike most ships.

That their armour was so minimal is not surprising given that these were essentially “kitset” ships specially designed to be broken down and reassembled. Heavy armour plating or additional construction “stiffening” was counterproductive. Active service with the Tigris Flotilla however resulted in rearming – a 2 – pounder pom-pom added, four of the .303 – inch maxim guns removed and a 3 – inch anti-aircraft gun installed in their place. All were fitted for towing kite balloons (to carry artillery observers). Initially sandbags were built up around the battery deck for protection of personnel, but later a 5 – foot shield made of ¼ inch chrome steel plate was built all around this deck as can be seen in the photos.

HMS Tarantula (1915); Fighting vessel; Gunboat; Shallow draught river gunboat
Read more at http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/67390.html#gRgFTCqgIPYgJP2e.99

All were named for insects (Mantis, Aphis, Scarab, Moth, Gnat, Bee, Cicala, Cricket, Tarantula, Glowworm and Ladybird) as befitting their role and, to speed up delivery, were ordered simultaneously from at least five different yards. The hero of our tale, Cockchafer, was one of four built at Barclay Curle, Glasgow, Scotland. The name, a common term for a particular may bug or doodlebug that was almost eradicated in the 20th Century has been around in the Royal Navy for a long time before these emergency gunboats.

This guy.

The first HMS Cockchafer was a 5-gun schooner– previously the American schooner Spencer— captured during the War of 1812 and put to good service by the Brits.

Watercolor by Warren showing the May 1814 engagement by the British schooner HMS COCKCHAFER, 5 guns (1 long 12-pounder and 4 12-pounder carronades) and 22 men, Lieutenant George Jackson, cruising off the Chesapeake, against the American letter-of-marque JAVA, 8 long 9-pounders and 22 men, which Jackson captured. USN 902808

Then came two other purpose-built gunboats of the Albacore-class and Banterer-class, respectively, that carried the Cockchafer name for the rest of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

While most of the Insect-class were sent to the Med or to fight the Ottomans in Mesopotamia on the Euphrates when completed in 1916, Cicala, Cockchafer, Cricket and Glowworm instead were assigned to defensive duties in British Home waters, remaining there quietly through the Great War.

HMS COCKCHAFER (FL 22629) Underway in the company of HMS CRICKET, HMS GLOWWORM, AND HMS CICALA. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205121724

Cicala was based at Hull, Cockchafer at Brightlingsea, Cricket at Norfolk ports and Glowworm at Lowestoft. Their two 12-pdrs swapped out for QF 3-inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft guns, they were deployed in the air defense of Britain against German bombers and Zeppelin raids.

An Insect-class gunboat with shells exploding overhead by William Lionel Wyllie via National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Read more at http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/114226.html#Q1C9LuTkg7wCMhHa.99

Then, in late 1918, the four gunboats, along with monitors M.23 & M.25, sailed to Russia as part of the North Russian Expeditionary Force in the Murmansk-Archangel area lead by White Russian Gen. EK Miller. As part of this expedition, they penetrated the Northern Dvina river, where both Glowworm and Cockchafer were severely damaged due to an ammunition barge explosion in May 1919.

Postcard & caption – Dvina River Flotilla, Bolshevik Campaign, 1919 (Left to Right) “Hyderabad”, “Humber”, “Cicala”, Seaplane Barge, M.31. (c Abraham 1241) Reverse handwritten note – 375 Versts up the River Dvina, N Russia, Aug 1919 off Troitsa Via WWI At Sea http://www.worldwar1atsea.net/WW1z05NorthRussia.htm#10

This service soon over as the British withdrew from the region, in January 1920, Cricket, Cockchafer, Moth, Mantis, and Cicala (Glowworm was scrapped due to her Russian damage) all set out as a group for China.

HMS Cockchafer on passage from England to Shanghai January to July 1920

Our subject was soon settling in on the Yangtze River where she became hotly involved in the so-called Wanhsien Incident in 1926 against local warlords.

HMS Cockchafer at Hong Kong. Note her extensive awnings she would carry for her 30+ years of China service. Via Australian Naval Historical Society

As noted by the December 1984 edition of the (Australian) Naval Historical Review:

Typically, these gunboats…carried two officers and sometimes a doctor; six or seven petty officers and leading seamen, plus 17 able seamen. The remainder of the 50-odd souls aboard were Chinese servants, cooks, seamen, and black gang. Obviously, British ability to mount a landing force fell well below the capabilities of the ‘new six’ US gunboats, with their 4 line officers, doctor, and about 50 US enlisted. However, the British POs enjoyed more responsibility and authority than the American, as all RN officers could be off the ship at the same time.

Still in Chinese waters in 1939, the Brits transferred Cockchafer (minus her local auxiliaries) to the East Indies Squadron where, in June 1941, she took part in operations in the Persian Gulf in support of landings at Basra.

Bandar Shapur, Iran, 1941-08. HMS Kanimbla, manned by an Australian crew, bows on with the following vessels alongside, L To R:- Two Anglo-Iranian Oil Company tugs, HMS Arthur Cavanagh (trawler), HMS Snapdragon (corvette) And HMS Cockchafer (river gunboat). AWM 134371

Transferred to the Mediterranean in 1943 after the Persian Gulf was well in hand, Cockchafer took part in support of assault landings in Sicily (Operation Husky) and remained in the theatre until late 1944 when it was decided she head back to the Far East, sailing for Trincomalee and the Burma Theatre. Returning to Singapore after VJ Day, she was paid off and put in reserve until being sold locally for breaking up in 1949.

As such, Cockchafer had a better WWII experience than most of her class. Ladybird was sunk at Tobruk by German aircraft in 1941. Gnat was effectively knocked out of action by U79 at Bardia the same year. Cricket was lost off Cyprus in 1944. In the Pacific, Cicala was sunk by Japanese aircraft just before Christmas 1941 at Hong Kong only days after Moth was scuttled by own crew to avoid a similar fate. The Japanese later salvaged Moth, repaired her and, commissioned as Suma, was mined on the Yantzee in 1945. Besides Cockchafer, only sisters Aphis and Tarantula were still in active RN service on VJ Day, and they were soon disposed of.

The last of her class, Cockchafer is remembered in maritime art by Tony Bryan, being featured as she was in 1926 at Wanhsien on the cover of the 2011 Osprey book Yangtze River Gunboats 1900–49.

Specs:

Displacement:625 long tons
Length: 237.5 ft
Beam: 36 ft
Draught: 4 ft
Propulsion:2 shaft VTE engines, 2 Yarrow type mixed firing boilers 2000 IHP, 35 tons coal + 54 tons oil
Speed: 14 knots
Complement: 54-65
Armament:
(1916)
2 × BL 6-inch Mk VII guns
2 × QF 3-inch 20 cwt
6 × .303-cal Maxim machine guns
(1945)
2 x QF 6 inch /40 naval gun,
2 x 1 – 76/45 Mk II
2 x 1 – 40/39 Mk VIII

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.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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