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Torpilleur numéroté de retour au port,” a circa 1895 painting by Henri-Edmond Rudaux, shows a French coastal torpedo boat steaming back home.

National Maritime Museum in Paris.

As touched on by this week’s Warship Wednesday, the French were on the leading edge of torpedo boat tactics around the turn of the century.

They clung to the concept well into the Great War, still fielding almost 200 obsolete steam-powered “Torpilleur de défense mobile” in the 80-to-97-ton range. Carring hull numbers between 149 and 369, they had been completed between 1894 and 1909 and carried two or three tubes.

Restricted to coastal operations, French doctrine held they would be used in harbor and roadstead defense, a job for which they were well suited, as all could float in less than two fathoms. 

As detailed in Jane’s 1914 edition:

Kale Slushy Bobcat and Tomcat?

Beretta’s small frame pistols with a tip-up barrel design that provides easy access to the chamber and no need for slide retraction to load the first round, these ultra-concealable pistols are a snap to use– especially for those without the hand strength to crush a brick.

I’ve carried a Bobcat, alternating with a Ruger LCP, as a backup gun for the past 15 years or so, and the little .22 is a joy to shoot.

These small 7-shot pocket pistols were first introduced back in the 1950s– giving them over 70 years of experience to build on– and Beretta has come pretty darn close to perfecting them over the generations.

New creatively-named Cerakoted color schemes in both the Tomcat (32. ACP) and Bobcat-A (.22LR) include Kale Slushy, Ghost Buster, and Silver Black Gorilla (a name that will surely change after someone pearl clutches). Plus, they are all fitted with threaded barrels– something that is a common mod on aftermarket guns.

The price, across all colors and calibers, is $649 (suggested).

The Kale Slushy Tomcat, left, and the Bobcat, right

The Tomcat, Beretta’s little .32, weighs just 14.5 ounces.

Tomcat Kale Slushy

The smaller Bobcat, the company’s even smaller .22LR, weighs just 11.5 ounces.

Bobcat Kale Slushy

21 A Bobcat Silver Black Gorilla

21 A Bobcat Ghost Buster 

Swedish Leopards at Play & Gripen Road Tour

Check out this neat unit photo, almost in a TO&E diagram layout format, of a Swedish brigade element. Taken at Skövde practice field last week, shortly after the exercise ended, and shows Södra Skånska Regimentets P7‘s contribution to exercise Våreld 22, which looks to be about half of the unit.

Photo: Felix Sundbäck / Swedish Armed Forces.

Note the Stridsfordon 90 IFVs, Stridsvagn 122 (Leopard 2S) main battle tanks, and assorted support vehicles.

Stridsvagn 122 tank, Sweden’s Leopard 2A5 variant. An excellent tank, the Swedes only have 120 Strv 122s

The Stridsfordon 90 is one serious IFV. Developed by Hägglunds/Bofors, it mounts a 40mm gun, outclassing most vehicles in its class

Pansarterrängbil 360 is a Patria AMV 8×8 variant

Based at Revingehed and with a lineage that dates to 1811, P7 has two battalions– the 71st Motorised Infantry which carries the traditions of the Southern Skåne Infantry Regiment, and the 72nd Armored which carries the traditions of the old Skåne Dragon Regiment– tasked primarily with training. Swelled by 300 new conscripts on 12-month national service stints, the regiment has a cadre of about 270 professional contract soldiers, 600 reservists, and 60 civilian employees. In the event of full mobilization, the regiment will swell to approximately 6,000 soldiers and officers within 48 hours including four battalions of the Skånska Gruppen (SSK) home guard group. 

P7 has sent troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Liberia, among others, and most recently to Mali within the framework of the UN-led operation MINUSMA.

Gripen Road Tour

Speaking of summers in Sweden, it is also the time of year that the country’s air force hits the road. 


Check out these images of Norrbottens Flygflottilj F 21 at work, running their JAS 39 Gripens from highways. 

‘I thought, how can I get the ship working again?’

Some 40 years ago this week, the Royal Navy Type 21 frigate HMS Ardent (F184) was a very new ship, having just been completed by Yarrow just over four years prior.

On 21 May 1982, while in Falkland Sound and supporting Operation Sutton by bombarding the Argentine airstrip at Goose Green with her 4.5-inch Mark 8 mount, Ardent was attacked by at least three incoming waves of Argentine Skyhawks and IAI Daggers inside of an hour.

The airstrikes caused Ardent to sink the next day, with one in eight of the ship’s company lost.

Now a retired commander, Ken Enticknap was a 28-year-old Chief Petty Officer on Ardent, and tells his story, below.


60 Years Ago: That time a Bear Bailed out of a Bomber– at Mach 1

The Convair B-58 Hustler was one of the sexiest bombers ever constructed and I’ll fight you on that.

I mean just look at it!

Some 96 feet long from tip-to-tip, it was powered by a quartet of GE J79 engines– the same used on the twin-engine F-4 Phantom. With some 60,000 lbf of thrust with afterburners lit, the Hustler could touch Mach 2 for short periods and could carry four B43 or B61 nuclear bombs to a combat radius of 1,740nm, with a ceiling approaching 70,000 feet.

In a fix to the problem of having its crew bail out at such high speeds and altitude, the Hustler used clamshell ejection capsules, thus: 

To make sure the capsules worked, they were tested with live chimps and bears, with the latter, a 108-pound female black bear named Yogi, being shot out of a B-58 at 35,000 feet while going Mach 1.3, some 60 years ago this week.

Yogi landed eight minutes later with relatively minor injuries, i.e. a nose bleed and some bruising.

Keep in mind the only previous supersonic ejection on file at the time was that of an F-100 Super Saber pilot, test pilot George Smith, who left his aircraft in 1955 while it was going Mach 1.05 and spent the next five days in a coma.

The 411 on the new FN High Power (not the Browning Hi-Power)

I dropped by FN’s booth at SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week to get the scoop on the new FN High Power pistol line.

Not just a restart of the old FN/Browning Hi-Power, the new 9mm guns have a 21st-century flair to them, with a 17+1 magazine capacity, ambi controls, texturing on the frame, better ergonomics, and FN 509-pattern dovetail sights. They will be available in three variants including the standard black model, one in FDE– sure to be a hit with modern FN owners who collect that genre– and a true stainless steel model. 

Each will ship with two sets of grips.

More in my column at

Tall Ship Getting it Done

The buque escuela BAE Guayas (BE-21) is a 1,300-ton Class A Tall Ship operated by the Ecuadorian Navy. Built in Spain in the 1970s to a design similar to the circa 1930s Blohm & Voss segelschulschiffs (like Gorch Fock, USCGC Eagle, and the NRP Sagres) she is a direct sistership to the training ships Gloria (Colombia), Simón Bolívar (Venezuela), and Cuauhtémoc (Mexico).

A steel-hulled three-masted barque capable of hoisting 15,200 sq. ft. of canvas with a 700hp Detroit diesel “steel topsail” for when the wind is calm, she is beautiful, akin to a flying cloud on the water.

With a crew of some 155, she can carry 80 naval cadets and is frequently used in trips overseas to show the country’s flag and has visited over 60 countries in the past 40 years, cruising in excess of 500,000 miles on 30 training cruises from Vladivostok to Boston.

However, she is still a naval vessel, with a small arms locker, and capable of conducting real-world missions in required. Case in point, she just popped a narco sub roaming in the Eastern Pacific.

The tall ship’s crew boarded the vessel, impounded a cargo of moody blow, and arrested four including three Ecuadorians and a Colombian.

All in a day’s work.

Bravo Zulu, Guayas.

Happy 80th Electric Acorn

The U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry “Tropic Lightning” Division was activated 10 October 1941 at Schofield Barracks, Wahiawa, Hawaii, where it is still in garrison.

Entering combat against the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, where members cracked open armories and used their rifles and small arms against IJN aircraft hitting the barracks, the division went on to a very tough war, suffering 5,432 casualties in its rapid advance from Guadalcanal– where they were the Thin Red Line– through the Solomons and Luzon.

25th Infantry Division Troops Burn Out A Japanese Pill Box At Baguio In The Philippines On 23 March 1945.

Then came the Korean War (10 campaign streamers, 14 MOH recipients), Vietnam (12 campaign streamers, 23 MOH recipients), and Cold War service. They have also been heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan (five Meritorious Unit Commendations).

M60 machine gunner of the 25th Infantry Division, 1968

Exercise Team Spirit 83 South Korea, 25th Infantry 

US Army (USA) Specialist Fourth Class (SFC) Theodore Amell, 2nd Platoon (PLT), Bravo (B) Company (CO), 1st Battalion (BN), 5th Infantry (INF), 25th Infantry Division (ID) (Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT)), scans the horizon with an M21 sniper weapon system for threats while on patrol near Mosul, Iraq. The SBCT is assigned to Task Force Freedom supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The M21 system is made up of a 7.62 mm M14 rifle with specially selected and hand-fitted parts and a scope.

1-21 infantry 25th ID Gimlet battalion continue training at PTA on Hawaii Island, April 2019

I Dig Oddball European Semi-Autos

As you know, I go all giggly for curious European autoloaders. For example, I give you this fine spaghetti pistola of Mr. Giuseppe Nicola Galesi that I recently came across at GDC:

Based in Brescia, Italy, Galesi was in operation from about the mid-1920s to about the mid-1960s, where the GCA of 1968 likely cut off their exports to the U.S. and forced it out of the market.

The above specimen is a Model 9, a little 8/7/6+1 shot pocket gun based on Browning’s Model 1910 that was made in .22 LR, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP cal. Using synthetic grips, they were offered in blued and chromed models with a 3.25-inch barrel, a frame-mounted manual safety, and basic fixed sights.

More on the Galesi firm, here.

Remember the Reason Today

Keep in mind today the real reason why the mail doesn’t run, public employees have a three-day weekend, and why your mailbox is full of tasteless fliers.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) commissioning pennant, used 15 November 1932, currently enshrined at the Indiana War Memorial. (Photo: Chris Eger)

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