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Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Robert Gibb

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Robert Gibb

Robert Gibb was as Scottish as they came, born in Laurieston, near Falkirk 28 October 1845, and educated in Edinburgh. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy and exhibited his first of more than 140 works there in 1867. It should come as no surprise that he was one of the great chroniclers of Highlanders in the field.

His first stab at the military genre came with Comrades in 1878, depicting men of the 42nd Highlanders (The Black Watch) in the Crimea.

The original version of this work was painted by Gibb in 1878 and is currently unlocated. The painting became iconic. While reading a life of Napoleon, the artist made a sketch of the retreat from Moscow. The dominant group of three figures in the foreground was then isolated and adapted to form an independent composition depicting a young soldier whispering his dying message to a comrade who seeks to comfort him in the snowy wastes of the Crimean winter. Photo credit: The Black Watch Castle & Museum

The Thin Red Line, oil on canvas, by Robert Gibb, 1881, showing the stand of a handful of the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Balaclava stopping 2,500 massed Russian cavalry. Currently on display at the National War Museum of Scotland, the venue notes “The Thin Red Line is one of the best known of all Scottish historical paintings and is the classic representation of Highland military heroism as an icon of Scotland.”

Saving the Colours; the Guards at Inkerman (1895 – Naval and Military Club, London)

Alma: Forward the 42nd. This 1888 oil on canvas by Scottish artist, Robert Gibb (1845–1932), depicts the Battle of Alma, in Sebastopol, Crimea on the 20th September 1854. Black Watch, in full review order, are advancing towards enemy guns on heights above, with Field Marshal Sir Colin Campbell (later Lord Clyde) shown giving the historic order from which the painting is titled. In left foreground are two Russians, and in distance stretch of sea with fleet in action. The painting was gifted to Glasgow Museums collection by Lord Woolavington in 1923. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Besides the Crimea, he also portrayed the Scots at Waterloo.

Closing the Gates at Hougoumont, 1815. Men of the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards are shown forcing shut the gates of the chateau of Hougoumont against French attack, with Lieutenant-Colonel James MacDonell forcing back the gate to the left. The moment of crisis shown in the painting came when around 30 French soldiers forced the north gate and entered into the chateau grounds. Before others could follow, the gates were forced shut again, and the French soldiers still inside were killed. Wellington himself had said the success of the battle turned upon the closing of the gates at the chateau. Photo credit: National Museums Scotland

Late in his life, he also painted the Highlanders in the Great War.

He produced Backs to the Wall at age 84. In this painting, the artist shows a line of khaki-clad Scottish troops standing defiantly at the critical moment, bayonets fixed– with the specters of fallen comrades behind them.

The work was inspired by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s famous Special Order of the Day at the time of the Great German Offensive of April 1918.

There is no other course open to us but to fight it out.  Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement.  With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.  The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.

Backs to the Wall, 1918, painted 1929 oil on canvas. Gift from W. J. Webster, 1931 to the Angus Council Museums.

Gibb held the office of King’s painter and limner for Scotland for 25 years and was Keeper of the National Gallery of Scotland from 1895 until 1907.  The artist died at his home in Edinburgh in 1932, and he was given a full military funeral with an honor guard provided by the Black Watch.

Many of his works are on display across the UK and are available online.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Of cold steel and brass buttplates

The Enfield P53 bayonet, standard at the time of the Crimean War, and the Enfield L85 (SA80) bayonet, still standard issue today. While the blade has changed the basic concept endures (Photo: Chris Eger)

The Enfield P53 bayonet, standard at the time of the Crimean War, and the Enfield L85 (SA80) bayonet, still standard issue today. While the blade has changed the basic concept endures over the past few centuries (Photo: Chris Eger)

FM 23-25, War Department Basic Field Manual, Bayonet, WAR DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON 25, D. C, 7 September 1943:

1. THE SPIRIT OF THE BAYONET
The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat is the spirit of the bayonet. It springs from the fighter’s confidence, courage, and grim determination, and is the result of vigorous training. Through training, the fighting instinct of the individual soldier is developed to the highest point. The will to use the bayonet first appears in the trainee when he begins to handle it with facility, and increases as his confidence grows. The full development of his physical prowess and complete confidence in his weapon culminates in the final expression of the spirit of the bayonet—fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy. For the enemy, demoralizing fear of the bayonet is added to the destructive power of every bomb, shell, bullet, and grenade which supports and precedes the bayonet attack.

2. USES OF THE BAYONET

•    a. A determined enemy may not be driven from his position by fire alone. Making full use of cover and concealment, he will often remain in his position until driven out in hand-to-hand combat. The bayonet or the threat of it, therefore, is the ultimate factor in every assault.
•    b. At night, on infiltration missions, or whenever secrecy must be preserved, the bayonet is the weapon of silence and surprise.
•    c. In close combat, when friend and foe are too closely intermingled to permit the use of bullets or grenades, the bayonet is the primary weapon of the infantry soldier.
3. PRINCIPLES OF BAYONET FIGHTING

•    a. The bayonet is an offensive weapon. With it, aggressiveness wins. Hesitation, preliminary maneuvering, and fencing are fatal. The delay of a fraction of a second may mean death.
•    b. The bayonet fighter attacks in a fast, relentless assault until his opponent is destroyed. He takes instant advantage of any opening; if the enemy gives no opening, the attacker makes one by parrying his opponent’s weapon and driving blade or butt into him with killing force.
•    c. As the throat area is especially sensitive to attack by the bayonet, an opponent will act instinctively to protect this area from a thrust. By threatening his opponent’s throat with the point of the bayonet, the attacker will frequently cause him to uncover other vulnerable parts of the body. Other sensitive parts frequently exposed to the attacker’s thrust are the face, chest, abdomen, and groin.

4. DEVELOPING BAYONET FIGHTER From the outset bayonet training will be conducted with constant emphasis on developing proper form, quickness with the rifle and bayonet, footwork, and accuracy. Continued striving for these four essential qualities will develop the coordination, balance, speed, strength, and endurance that mark the expert bayonet fighter. Differences in conformation of individuals may require minor deviations from the prescribed bayonet technique. Those deviations which do not detract from the effectiveness of the individual’s attack will be disregarded.

A young Marine goes into battle with his bayonet and M14. Vietnam, 1965. Photograph by Eddie Adams

With the above in mind, check out the brutal dissection of how the rifle butt is traditionally used as explained by Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria:

Kalashnikov CEO wants a 20-ton ‘reconnaissance-strike robot’

Kalashnikov’s BAS-01G Soratnik unmanned vehicle can carry a machine gun and quartet of antitank missiles, but the company’s CEO wants to supersize it. (Photo: Kalashnikov Concern)

Kalashnikov Concern CEO Alexei Krivoruchko told Russian media that the company is developing a pretty big unmanned combat vehicle.

In an interview with state-run media outlet Tass, Krivoruchko hyped the partially-state run factories progress on advanced weapons including the new RPK-16 light machine gun before moving on to the mechanical elephant in the room– unmanned ground combat vehicles. The CEO advised a new 20-ton platform (described as a “робота” — robot) is under development which, when compared to what Kalash already markets, is huge.

The company showed off their current 7-ton BAS-01G Soratnik (Comrade-in-arms) unmanned vehicle in 2016, then last December made it do tricks for the Russian Ministry of Defence while armed with four anti-tank rockets and a machine gun. Alternatively, it can be modified to carry up to a 30mm gun or eight Kornet-EM laser-guided anti-tank missiles. Soratnik can be positioned as a bastion and act autonomously for 10 days as such in a standby mode, waiting to engage a threat.

I covered it over at Guns.com and am honored that Popular Mechanics picked it up as well.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of The Met

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art very graciously just released 375,000 works into the public domain as Creative Commons Zero 1.0 Universal copyright, the broadest possible. While about 200,000 are online, and as a whole, they represent just a fifth of the Met’s huge collection, there are some interesting pieces in the trove with a military background. These include over 70 plates from Goya’s haunting ‘The Disasters of War’ (Los Desastres de la Guerra) and dozens more from Stefano della Bella’s ‘Peace and War’ (Divers desseins tant pour la paix que pour la guerre).

Here are some pieces I found remarkable.

Deck of a Warship Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (Danish, Blåkrog 1783–1853 Copenhagen) 1833

The “Kearsarge” at Boulogne Édouard Manet (French, Paris 1832–1883 Paris) 1864

A Bit of War History: The Recruit Thomas Waterman Wood (American, Montpelier, Vermont 1823–1903 New York) 1866

A Bit of War History The Veteran Thomas Waterman Wood (American, Montpelier, Vermont 1823–1903 New York) 1866

The full collection is here.

Enjoy!

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Paul Sample

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Paul Sample

Paul Sample was born in Lousiville, Kentucky, 14 September 1896. Enrolling at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1916 to pursue art, he put his education on hold when the U.S. rushed into the Great War in 1917, serving in the Naval Reserve.

Once the war was over, he returned to Dartmouth, graduating in the class of 1920. After a stint with tuberculosis, Sample studied drawing and painting from artist Jonas Lie, then, using his Veteran’s Bonus, studied in New York and at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. By 1926 at age 30, he was on the faculty at USC.

By 1934, he was one of the most influential artists in the country, adept at Social Realism and American Regionalist painting styles with his work shown at the Met and appearing in Fortune, Esquire, Country Gentlemen, and American Artist.

Maple Sugaring, Paul Sample

In 1936, his old alma mater at Dartmouth made him an artist in residence– becoming their longest serving, making it through 1962.

In 1941 he was elected academician by the National Academy of Design.

When WWII came, the former Navy man served as a Life Correspondent attached to the sea service, embarking on the carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) and heavy cruiser USS Portland (CA-33) among others, covering the war in both the Atlantic and Pacific in watercolors that capture the feeling of the moment.

Fighter disaster on USS Ranger (CV 4), which depicts the crash of an F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighter on board USS Ranger on 25 August 1942 after an off center landing attempt. Artwork by Paul Sample. Photo # NH 89617-KN (Color)

Fighter disaster on USS Ranger (CV 4), which depicts the crash of an F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighter on board USS Ranger on 25 August 1942 after an off-center landing attempt. Artwork by Paul Sample. Photo # NH 89617-KN (Color). It should be noted that Ranger sailed to support the Torch Landings just days after this incident, where her aircraft were influencial in silencing the French.

Ship's band, USS RANGER (CV-4) Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89619-KN

Ship’s band, USS RANGER (CV-4) Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89619-KN

Seaplane base, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89615-KN

Seaplane base, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89615-KN

Field carrier landings, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89616-KN

Field carrier landings, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89616-KN. Note the distinctive gear of the F4F Wildcat.

"Chinese overside, submarine base, Pearl Harbor"Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 28"x 44". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89621-KN

“Chinese overside, submarine base, Pearl Harbor” Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 28″x 44″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89621-KN

Crew's quarters aboard a Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 17"x 24". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89620-KN

Crew’s quarters aboard a Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 17″x 24″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89620-KN. Note the crew sleeping on the torpedos. The foot front and to the left is great as is the “Shipwreck” GI Joe character.

Skipper on the bridge, Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 24"x 30". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89622-KN

Skipper on the bridge, Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 24″x 30″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89622-KN

Red beach, Leyte, Pacific Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1944. 14"x 38". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89623-KN

Red beach, Leyte, Pacific Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1944. 14″x 38″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89623-KN

After the war, Sample did mural work, painted the Saturn rocket launch for NASA in 1964.

He died in 1974, after working in his Vermont studio that morning, age 80.

Works by Sample may be found at the Arkell Museum, Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Currier Gallery of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Springfield Museum of Art in Utah, and the D’Amour Museum of Fine Art.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Somewhere over Southeast Kassel, Germany, 73 years ago today

Combat encounter report with German Me 109 completed and signed by pilot Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager dated 4 March 1944:

Click to big up

Combat ENCOUNTER REPORT with German Me 109 completed and signed by pilot Charles E. Yeager dated 4 March 1944

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

(Photo via Friends of the Tank Museum)

(Photo via Friends of the Tank Museum)

“U.S. M60 and the Soviet-built T62, showing the much lower profile of the Warsaw Pact vehicle. Although armament was roughly equivalent, the lower profile of the T-62 made it a much harder target.”

The T-62, at about 40-tons, was eight feet high– three feet less than the M-60, giving it the tactical advantage. However, due to the low depression of the T-62’s gun when compared to the 105mm hull cracker of the M-60, was seen in the West as a handicap.

The T-62 carried 40 rounds of ammunition, with most of the rounds stored in the hull and the gun suffered from a very long ejection period. The M60 carried 60 rounds, with more ready in the turret, and could fire about twice as fast with a well-trained crew.

Plus, the T-62 was seen as being cramped and hard to drive.

The M60 Patton was introduced in 1961, augmenting and then replacing the M48 in U.S. service (though it should be noted that upgraded M48A5’s, up-gunned with the 105 mm M68 gun to make them basically M60s, remained in some National Guard armored units until as late as 1990). The M60 was in turn replaced after 1980 by the M1 Abrams, though Marine M60A1s fought in Desert Storm, reportedly accounting for as many as 200 Iraqi tanks including some rather modern T-72s. Though the U.S. phased out the last M60s, used as training vehicles, by 2005, they remain in service with over 20 foreign allies. Some 15,000 were built.

As for the T-62, armed with the 115 mm U-5TS “Molot” (2A20) Rapira smoothbore tank gun, it was the go-to tank of the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact partners, and overseas commie friends. The Soviets alone produced 20,000 variants through 1975 when they moved on to the T-72, though the simplified “monkey model” as former Soviet military intelligence officer Viktor Suvorov called them, are still produced in North Korea as the Ch’ŏnma-ho I with upgraded 125mm 2A46 guns complete with autoloaders.

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T-62s and M-60s met at least three times in combat: In the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Syrian and Egyptian T-62 was an effective adversary for Israeli Pattons, though better training and more ammo carried the day for the IDF; Iraqi T-62s under Saddam clashed with Iranian M-60s in the 1980s, and of course the story of the Marines from Desert Storm.

Though both of these MBTs were a product of late 1950s tech, they will both continue to be encountered worldwide for the next several generations.

And for a great throwback, here is a 1977 Army film on how to best kill the T-62, likely shot with the use of some captured Syrian vehicles as well as intelligence footage.

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