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Fighting Marines, 75 years on

U.S. Marine Corps Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Offical caption: “How to disable an armed opponent is demonstrated by two girl Marines in training at Camp Lejeune, New River, North Carolina. The Marines with their backs to the camera are watching another display of feminine skill in the art of self-defense, June 18, 1943.”

Why, Ron?

I’ve heard of “Flying Leathernecks,” but this is rediculous.

I give you, a trio of Gyrodyne RON Rotorcycles, packing assorted Devils.

Official caption: “Three Marine Corps one-man helicopters demonstrate their stability and hovering capabilities during tactical evaluations of the aircraft at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, called the YRON-1. The new motorcycle is being tested at Quantico for possible combat use in flying reconnaissance, observation, courier, and limited logistic support mission.

The YRON-1 weighs about 440 pounds empty, is capable of carrying a payload of 250 pounds, and has a top speed of about 70 MPH. Powered by a 62 horse-power Porsche engine, the YRON-1 has attained altitudes of up to 3,000 feet and has a maximum run of about 60 miles on five gallons of fuel.”

Photograph released 12 January 1960.

Only 10 of these rotorcycles were built, and while the Marines felt they were too heavy and too difficult to fly, the project grew into the Navy’s Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH ASW drone.

Packing non-carriers with stern-sitters, an enduring idea now new again

Below we see an “Artist Conception of the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) fighter concept, developed by the David W. Taylor Naval Ship and Research and Development Center, in various stages of flight and recovery positions near the 325-foot small waterplane area twin hull ship (SWATH),” received February 1981.

 U.S. Navy Photograph now in the collections of the National Archives. 428-GX-KN-31380:

Interestingly enough, DARPA has been working on a tail-sitter for the past several years, known as the Tern project.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency produced this concept art of a vertical take-off and landing capable maritime drone system as part of its earlier (TERN) program.

And it could wind up being the Marines’ new MUX drone, meant to be a poor man’s E2 Hawkeye/EF-18G Growler for use from LPDs and LHA/Ds.

More on that at The Drive

The typical Devil Squad is changing, due to the M27

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017

The building block of every infantry platoon in the Marines is the squad, currently a 13-strong unit. Under the new format, it will shrink by one to 12 and constrict the size of each fire team from four to three members, but the number of M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle systems will swell as every member will carry one, effectively tripling the current volume of fire available to the unit, according to officials. Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the development will make the squad “more lethal, agile and capable.”

While the unit has given up their M249 Squad Automatic Weapons — the U.S. version of the FN Minimi — the M27 has taken the place of that belt-fed weapon and will by 2020 phase out the M4 rifles in the squad, upping the number of the modified select-fire variant of the HK416 5.56mm gas piston rifle per squad from three to 12.

And that’s just the start of the changes.

The rest in my column at Guns.com

The story of MAG-36 and Hue City

Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, the first complete Marine air group to be transported by sea to a combat zone, launched from the USS Princeton to the shores of Vietnam, Sept. 1, 1965. Immediately, they began providing troop lifts, air strikes, medical evacuation, resupplies, and reconnaissance insertions and extractions in the southern area of operations.
MAG-36 flew daily in support of Marines on the ground. Meanwhile, while many U.S. and South Vietnamese forces celebrated the Tet holiday, tens of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers, Viet Cong guerrillas and local communist militants moved under the cover of night. Their objective was to simultaneously attack more than 100 U.S. and South Vietnamese occupied cities and bases. In the early hours of Jan. 31, 1968, the Communist-led Tet Offensive was in full force.

April Fools, South-pacific edition, 75 years ago

Signed by the artist: Jack Fellows. Via NNAM.2004.100.001

On 1 April 1943, during a big fight over the Russells Group in the Central Solomons, a Japanese Navy pilot plays the fool as he loops his “Hamp” in front of the F4F-4 flown by VMF-221 2nd Lt. Warner O. Chapman, USMC, who promptly shot him down. Chapman was also awarded a “probable” on the mission. Chapman went on to become Commanding Officer of VMF-221 in 1959, as the squadron entered the USMC Reserve program.

VMF-221 was formed five months before Pearl Harbor flying the forgettable Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo– using them to down a Japanese Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat in March 1942. Augmented by a handful of badly worn Wildcats, they fought at Midway before eventually switching out to the F4U Corsair, which they flew until the end of the war.

Everyone loves the M17

All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces have placed orders for the M17/18 Modular Handgun System according to Sig Sauer. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Though originally a winner for an Army contract, Sig officials report that every branch including the Coast Guard has placed orders for the modified P320 pistol platform.

Sig’s M17/18 pistol, the winner of the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract last year, is set to be fielded by not only the land service but the Air Force, Marines and Navy as well as the Coast Guard, according to company representatives.

The handguns will begin replacing a host of other platforms, including various marks of the M9 Beretta in the Army. As noted in the Navy’s FY 2019 procurement budget justification for the Marine Corps, 35,000 of the Sigs will not only replace M9s but also Colt M45A1 CQB .45ACP pistols and the newly acquired M007 Glock. In Coast Guard service, the gun will augment the Sig P229R which was adopted in 2005. The Air Force has been quietly acquiring the guns and testing their use for compatibility with aircraft ejection seats.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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