Category Archives: weapons

A Smoke and a Read

105 years ago. February 1918. Offical caption: A Canadian soldier enjoys a few minutes with the Canadian Daily Record (Un soldat canadien prenant une pause, s’apprêtant à feuilleter le Canadian Daily Record).”

Note his SMLE .303 to Sergent’s left, a Mills Bomb and electric torch by his pillow for repelling trench-raiding stosstruppen, a gas mask and bayonet eternally at the ready; and a kettle and water can by his rope bed.

Department of National Defence. Library and Archives Canada, PA-002507

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, more than 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in The Great War– big numbers considering the country had a population in 1914 of just under 8 million. Canada suffered a staggering 66,000 killed and more than 172,000 wounded in the conflict.

Scouting Force

Some of the heaviest of heavy sluggers in the Pacific War were the Pensacola and Northampton classes of heavy “treaty cruisers.” Below is a rare snap of seven of these vessels all in one place at one time, 90 years ago today. Of note, two of the seven were lost in combat during WWII.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph #80-G-451164, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Oahu, Hawaii – Scouting Force ships at, and off, the yard, 2 February 1933. Cruisers tied up at 1010 Dock are (from left to left-center) heavy cruisers USS Augusta (CA 31), Chicago (CA 29), and Chester (CA 27). USS Northampton (CA 26) is alongside the dock in the center, with USS Kane (DD 235) in the adjacent Marine Railway and USS Fox (DD 234) tied up nearby. USS Louisville (CA 28) is in the center distance. Moored off her bow and at the extreme right are USS Salt Lake City (CA 25) and USS Pensacola (CA 24).

Importantly, note the quartets of floatplanes visible, especially on Augusta and Chicago. Having seven cruisers able to put up to 28 observation/scout planes in the air at any one time gave the fleet some decent over-the-horizon ability, especially in the days before long-range surface search radar. 

At the time these would most likely have been Vought O2U/O3U Corsairs. With a range of 680 miles– giving a combat radius of 300– they could carry a trio of flex and fixed ANM2 Brownings and up to 500 pounds of bombs.

The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California (USA), in 1931 (looking aft from the top of the forward fire control station). Note the Vought O3U-1 Corsair floatplanes on the catapult deck. Cruisers in the U.S. Navy often carried as many as 5-6 aircraft between on-deck storage and their hangar (NH70721)

USS Northampton (CA-26) at anchor 1930s. Note four floatplanes amidships.

Northampton-class heavy cruiser USS Louisville (CA-28), Pensacola-class heavy cruiser USS Salt Lake City (CA-25), USS Northampton (CA-26), and USS Chicago (CA-29/also Northampton-class) turning in formation to create a slick for landing seaplanes, during exercises off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 31 January 1933. Planes are landing astern of the middle cruisers. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-451165

USS Portland (CA-33) during the fleet review at New York, 31 May 1934, with four floatplanes amidship, likely Vought O3U-1 Corsairs with Grumman floats (Photo: NH 716)

Most famous for knocking the original King Kong off the Empire State Building, the O2U gave the fleet some serious eyes. After 1935, they would be replaced with the Curtiss SOC Seagull, a floatplane with better performance that the cruisers would often use well into WWII. 

Besides scouting, the cruiser force’s floatplanes performed a much unsung service in picking up those lost at sea, light transport of personnel and packages from ship to ship and ship to shore, as well as the all-important task of correcting distant naval gunfire missions.

Here come the Jackals

Palmetto State Armory has been moving ahead with its neat JAKL long-stroke gas piston systems and had several concept guns on display at SHOT Show. While they aren’t in production, it is nice to see they are thinking with broad strokes and, like concept cars, they give a glimpse of what the company may start making in the future, especially if they get a lot of feedback.

Among the concept uppers they had were a 9mm ARV that fits standard lowers, a JAKL KS47 in 7.62×39 that fits KS47 lowers and takes AK style mags, and a 13.7-inch 5.56 that fits standard AR-15 lowers and allows for a folding stock.

Good to see there is some innovation out there.

Your pistol brace countdown starts today

In the predawn hours on Tuesday morning, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives published its final Stabilizing Braces rule in the Federal Register. 

With an effective date of Jan. 31, 2023, the new 98-page rule, unless successfully challenged in the courts, will fundamentally outlaw the use of pistol stabilizing braces in their current form, instead reclassifying large format handguns so equipped with one as a short-barreled rifle to be regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. 

Federal regulators have classified the accessories since 2012 as being compliant with the NFA, and Congressional Research Service estimates run as high as 40 million braces in circulation. 

“Any weapons with ‘stabilizing braces’ or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than May 31, 2023,” notes ATF. Alternatives include handing the firearm over to the agency, destroying it, converting the pistol to a normal rifle with a barrel at least 16 inches long, or “permanently” removing the brace so that it can’t be reattached. 

The modern brace as introduced and extensively patented by SB Tactical came about after USMC and Army veteran Alex Bosco went shooting with a disabled combat vet who was having such a hard time shooting on the range that the RSO stopped him over safety concerns due to lack of control. Bosco then created the prototype for the brace in his garage and submitted the design to ATF for approval. 

In a November 2012 letter from the agency, regulators at the time noted: 

The submitted brace, when attached to a firearm, does not convert that weapon to be fired from the shoulder and would not alter the classification of a pistol or other firearm. While a firearm so equipped would still be regulated by the Gun Control Act … such a firearm would not be subject to NFA controls.

The new rule seems to only be popular with a minority of gun control advocates and the White House. By the ATF’s own admission, of the 237,000 comments logged over the proposed rule last year, “There were over 217,000 comments opposed to aspects of the rule.”

There are sure to be legal challenges to the new rule by firearms industry groups and Second Amendment organizations. As for SB Tactical, they said on Monday, “We are still here and have not left you. At this point, we have to let the legal team do what they have been preparing to do for a very long time. Nothing is over, and we are still in the fight. More to come soon.”

As Close as it gets to an ‘Affordable’ Modular Carbine

Modular 5.56 rifles are the way of the future. However, they are expensive by any measure. Just look at the Beretta ARX160, the FN SCAR, and the CZ Bren M2– the cheapest of which hit the low $2K mark and go far north from there.

Take for example the new SIG Sauer MCX Spear in 6.5 Creedmoor. While I dearly love SIG– my West German P226 has been shot out twice over the three two decades, each requiring a new breechblock and spring rebuild; while my daily carry pistol for most of the past six months has been a P365 XMac– they are very proud of their guns.

There is a lot to be proud of with the MCX Spear in 6.5 Creedmoor.

A kind of stepped-up version of the new MCX Spear LT, which was announced last year in 5.56 NATO, 7.62x39mm, and .300 Blackout, the new variants will be in .277 Fury, .308 Win, and 6.5, with the latter being the most interesting in my opinion.

The new rifles share the same broad strokes of the Spear LT, including AR trigger compatibility, a push-button folding stock, fully ambi controls, dual charging handles (left side non-reciprocating and rear AR-style), SIG’s SLX suppressor quick detach muzzle device, a full-length top rail, and the ability to swap bolt/barrels for caliber exchanges.

Couple that with a 6.5CM and you run a laser-accurate round capable of effective hits to 800 yards with little hold over

Of course, SIG says the gun will cost $4K, sans optics.

Enter the Israeli IWI Carmel, which is now in production in the U.S. as the prospect of importing it adds a lot of flies and 922R problems to the mix.

Complete with a folding stock, fully ambidextrous controls, and a rock-solid reliable short-stroke gas piston that keeps everything cleaner (and doesn’t use the gas ring systems of the SCAR), the soft-shooting Carmel will hit the $1,600-$1,800 range and be available later this year.

Also, it uses AR-15 mags. Boom.

Moto in Miami

Always been a sucker for well-done unit photos and this one from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, showing five airborne MH-65D Dolphins hovering in unison behind five tarmacked EADS HC-144 Ocean Sentry patrol planes– the station’s entire airframe complement– is great.

Photo by USCG Aux Joey Feldman

As noted by the station:

When exceptionally hard work meets opportunity. This photo would not have been possible without the hard work of our Aviation Engineering department. They worked tirelessly to make all ten of our aircraft available in a very short time window and on top of that, they made sure all five of our MH-65 Dolphins were operational to provide an amazing backdrop for our 2023 unit photo. To our AvEng department, be proud of this accomplishment. Your hard work has paid off. Bravo Zulu!!

Coast Guard Air Station Miami first opened in June 1932 at the old Navy seaplane base on Dinner Key in Biscayne Bay next to the Pan Am station, originally flying Fokker PJ Flying Life Boats as the Coast Guard’s first “modern” aviation unit, and celebrated its 90th-anniversary last summer– a span that included flying armed Vought OS2U-3 Kingfishers on ASW patrols and CSAR during WWII.

“Coast Guard planes from the Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Florida, greeting new 165-foot patrol boat/subchaser USCGC PANDORA arrival December 6, 1934, to take station.” Top to bottom: Fokker PJ Flying Boat ACAMAR, Douglas RD-1 Amphibian SIRIUS, and Fokker PJ Flying Boat A. 

For those curious:

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami employs a highly trained and exceptionally motivated crew of 339 personnel, comprised of 71 Officers, 255 Enlisted, and 13 Civilians. Its fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft conduct a variety of Coast Guard missions from Charleston, S.C. to Key West, and throughout the Caribbean Basin. Air Station (CGAS) Miami is located at Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

 

In one of the most surprising stories from SHOT…

Confession time: I have long owned and used an 8+1 shot Bersa Thunder CC .380, finding it both reliable and very easy to conceal. At the time I picked it up, I’d gone down a rabbit hole in which I owned several Argentinian-made pistols including a few HAFDASA Ballester–Molina .45ACPs and a couple of 9mm FM (not FN) Hi-Powers.

Not a bad little gun…

Founded by a trio of Italian immigrants to Argentina back in the 1950s, the company made a name for itself crafting small and dependable blowback-action pistols that evoked a sort of Walther PP/PPK flavor.

Long imported by Eagle Imports, Bersa switched gears in 2021 and elected to go with Talon moving forward while also looking to bring some production to the U.S. This led to a new state-of-the-art facility in Kennesaw, Georgia which has been slowly standing up for the past two years.

That’s what brought me to Bersa’s booth hidden over in the 70,000-block of Ceasar’s Forum during SHOT Show last week.

Did I mention they are making a half dozen different AR models now?

More in my column at Guns.com.

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023: The Kaiser’s Tin Cans do Broadway

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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, Jan. 25, 2023: Kaisers Tin Cans do Broadway

Bain News Service collection, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-50381

Above we see, in the summer of 1920 a trio of once-sunk former torpedoboten of the old Kaiserliche Marine, anchored in New York City, from left to right ex-SMS V43, G102, and S132, with the newly commissioned Lapwing-class minesweeper USS Redwing (AM-48) outboard.

A closer look. Note that all the vessels have Union Jacks on their bows, as they are in possession of the Navy if not in direct commission. LC-DIG-ggbain-31137

Check out the inset, showing a little girl playing on G102’s forward 8.8 cm SK L/45 naval gun and her boater hat-wearing father close by. Besides four such guns, the 1,700-ton vessel carried six 19.7-inch torpedo tubes and could make 34 knots on her steam turbines, a speed that is still fast today. Another boater-clad man is inspecting the view from atop her wheelhouse.

German destroyer S132 in possession of the U.S. Navy, showing the mine laying stern. Note the stern of the minesweeper Redwing. LOC

German destroyers G102 and S132 in possession of the U.S. Navy, in 1920 in New York with a great view of Manhattan from the Hudson and the ships’ guns and searchlights. LOC

The vessels had been interned at Scapa Flow by the terms of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, then scuttled by their skeleton crews on 21 June 1919. Saved by the British, who worked quickly to beach these small craft along with a few others, they were turned over to the U.S. as war reparations as part of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1920, along with the German Helgoland class battleship ex-SMS Ostfriesland and the Wiesbaden-class light cruiser ex-SMS Frankfurt.

All five ships saw extensive action with the High Seas Fleet during World War I, including (except for SMS V43) the epic clash at Jutland. That service, while fascinating, is beyond the scope of this post but I encourage you to look into it if curious.

Scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow: Tug alongside scuttled German destroyer G 102 at Scapa Flow, June 1919. Of the 74 interned German ships at Scapa, 52 were lost– including all three of G102’s sisters– with the remainder saved by the British and divvied up post-Versailles. IWM SP 1631

Turned over to a scratch American crew, they were shepherded across the Atlantic to New York by the minesweepers Redwing and USS Falcon (AM-28).

The German Imperial Navy destroyer SMS G 102 is escorted to a U.S. port by the U.S. Navy minesweeper USS Falcon (AM-28), circa 1920. Note her six assorted torpedo tubes arranged front, aft, and center. NH 45786

Ostfriesland, Capt. J. F. Hellweg (USNA 1900), USN, in command, became the only German-built battleship commissioned into the U.S. Navy on 7 April 1920 at Rosyth, Scotland, and made New York under her own power, where she was decommissioned on 20 September 1920. Hellweg, who had spent his career in surface warfare including service with the Great White Fleet and in Mexico, went on to command the Naval Observatory and was certainly an interesting figure at parties. 

After their summer as “propaganda ships,” the three tin cans were soon stripped at Norfolk and disposed of off Cape Henry, Virginia, at the infamous hands of Billy Mitchell’s land-based aircraft, followed up with a coup de grace on the humble yet still floating 1,100-ton V43 made by assembled American battleships on 15 July 1921.

Via NYT Archives

Direct hit on G102, July 13, 1921. They were sunk during the Billy Mitchell aircraft bombing tests on German and U.S. Navy ships, showing the vulnerability of ships to aerial bombing, on July 18, 1921. Photograph from the William “Billy” Mitchell Collection, U.S. Navy Museum.

Anti-Ship Bombing Demonstration, 1921. Shown: G-102 showing smoke from a direct hit made by SE-5 with a 25-pound TNT-filled fragmentation bomb, June 21, 1921. From the album entitled, “First Provisional Air Brigade, Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia, 1921.” Note her tubes and guns have been removed. From the William Mitchell Collection. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As for Redwing, she went on to be sheep-dipped and serve in the Coast Guard during Prohibition, then would return to Navy service first on the West Coast in 1929 and then on the East by 1941. Converted to a rescue/salvage ship (ARS-4), she was lost to an Axis mine off the old Vichy French navy base at Bizerte, Tunisia, during WWII on 29 June 1943.


Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a
soul.


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!

Mush v the Harusame

80 years ago today: The Shiratsuyu-class destroyer Harusame of the Imperial Japanese Navy was torpedoed by the famed Gato-class submarine USS Wahoo (SS-238) under the command of LCDR Dudley Walker “Mush” Morton, near Wewak, New Guinea. It would be the third of 11 attacks logged during the boat’s Third War Patrol

Harusame’s back is clearly broken. Wartime intelligence evaluated this photo as showing one of the Asashio-class (see Photographic Intelligence Report # 82, 17 March 1943). However, the ship’s bridge structure identifies her as a Shiratsuyu-class destroyer, with the # 2 (single) 5 gun mount removed. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-35738 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

From Wahoo’s patrol report, in “Mush’s” words. 

Just two weeks after the above image:

Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Morton, commanding officer of Wahoo (SS-238), at right with his executive officer, Lieutenant Richard H. O’Kane, on Wahoo’s open bridge at Pearl Harbor after her very successful third war patrol, circa 7 February 1943. Official U.S. Navy photograph now in the collections of the National Archives, 80-G-35725.

Beached to avoid sinking with her keel broken, Harusame was salvaged and towed to Truk where she was fitted with an emergency false bow, then sailed in convoy in May to Yokosuka for rebuilding. She returned to service in late November 1943, joining Desdiv 27, Desron 2, IJN Second Fleet.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Harusame underway after rebuild on November 30, 1943. Shizuo Fukui – Kure Maritime Museum, Japanese Naval Warship Photo Album: Destroyers, edited by Kazushige Todaka, p. 81

Her service would come to an end just seven months later, dispatched by USAAF B-25s 30 miles northwest of Cape of Good Hope near Manokwari on 8 June 1944 while on a troop transport run to Biak. She was lost with 74 of her crew.

As for Wahoo, she had already been lost by a remarkably similar fate– sent to the bottom by Japanese aircraft in October 1943 while returning home from her Seventh War Patrol, sunk with all 79 hands by a sustained air and surface attack as she was attempting to exit the Sea of Japan via the La Perouse Strait.

Detailed by DANFS:

The loss of Morton and Wahoo caused profound shock in the submarine force. All further forays into the Sea of Japan ceased, and it was not again invaded until June 1945, when special mine-detecting equipment was available for submarines. Morton was posthumously awarded a fourth Navy Cross. When he died, his claimed sinkings exceeded those of any other submarine skipper: 17 ships for 100,000 tons. In the postwar accounting, this was readjusted to 19 ships for about 55,000 tons. This left Morton, in terms of individual ships sunk, one of the top three skippers of the war. So ended the career of one of the greatest submarine teams of World War II: Wahoo and “Mush” Morton.

Clowns and Mills Bombs

78 years ago today, 23 January 1945: PVT Marcel St-Laurent of “D” Company, Le Régiment de Maisonneuve, clowns for the camera at Cuyk, Netherlands. Details of the fuze on the bottom of the No. 36 Mills Bomb grenade can be seen. The length of the cloth bandolier has been altered by tying a knot in it to make it shorter.

First introduced in May 1918 and updated in the 1930s, the No. 36M Mk I was the British Army’s standard hand grenade until 1972 and still pops up in Africa and the Middle East from time to time.

A Canadian UN soldier in Korea with a U.S. made M-1 Carbine and several British Mills bomb grenades.

As for the good PVT St-Laurent, the Montreal-recruited Régiment de Maisonneuve was first recruited in 1880 and covered itself in glory in both World Wars– where its members became well-acquainted with the Mills Bomb. When the top image was taken, the regiment had previously landed in France in July 1944 as part of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. It was bled white through the Battle of the Scheldt, and the Walcheren Causeway before reforming for the final campaigns in the northern Netherlands and the Battle of Groningen.

Infantry of the Regiment de Maisonneuve moving through Holten to Rijssen, both towns in the Netherlands. 9 April 1945. Lt. D. Guravitch. Canadian Military photograph. New York Times Paris Bureau Collection. (USIA) NARA FILE #: 306-NT-1334B-11

It endures to this day as a Primary Reserve unit, still based in Montreal, along with the better-known “Van Doos” of the 22nd Regiment, making up one of the few French-language units of the Canadian forces.

« Older Entries