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BBQ…swords?

Today the term “BBQ Gun” floats around for those who utilize a nice or customized handgun for some sort of open carry, be they a small-town sheriff ala Longmire style or just someone who likes to exercise their 2A rights with a little flair.

The Nighthawk Custom Hi-Power is a good example of a BBQ gun…functional by all means, but something you would want to show off a bit if you carry it

In the old days, this was simply just done with swords.

Smallsword, plaques by Wedgwood (British, founded 1759), about 1790. steel, faceted, burnished, blued and gilded, iron, and stoneware (Jasperware). The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, Worcester Art Museum 2014.49.

As noted about the above beautiful blade by the WAM:

Stylish men wore swords as part of their daily wear from the 1500s until the 1700s. This superb smallsword was made shortly before civilian swords went permanently out of fashion. Its light, edgeless blade is designed for civilian dueling, but the real purpose of this weapon was to impress rather than kill. The cut-steel beadwork on the hilt imitates the look of diamonds, and the jasperware Wedgwood plaques feature neoclassical designs inspired by Roman and Etruscan archeological finds.

CMMG Banshee, now in Sig flavors

Missouri-based CMMG has added a new flavor to their Radial Delayed Blowback Banshee series, one that accepts Sig Sauer P320 magazines– the Mk17.

Available in both 5- and 8-inch Banshee pistol/SBR formats as well as the company’s 16-inch barreled Resolute series carbines, CMMG says the ability for the platform to have a variant that accepts P320 mags is key.

The CMMG Banshee Mk17 uses the company’s patented radial delayed blowback system billed as having less felt recoil than direct blowback 9mm ARs and uses CMMG’s MKGS upper group. Best of all, it shares the same P320 mags as the Sig Sauer M17. (Photo: CMMG)

More in my column at Guns.com

Bofors/Breda 40s still at work

NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) recently poked around in the Black Sea, operating with the Bulgarian and Ukrainian navies, which no doubt gave the Russians a bit of heartburn.

SNMG2, under Spanish RADM Aguirre (no Klaus Kinski jokes, please) included three frigates, one each from Spain, Romania, and Turkey– the latter two being Black Sea countries.

Meanwhile, SNMCMG2, under CDR Katsouras of the Greek Navy, consisted of three minesweepers, one each from Italy, Spain, and Turkey, with Katsouras commanding the group from his flagship HS Aliakmon (A470).

Built during the 1960s at Bremer-Vulcan in then-West Germany as the 3,700-ton Type 701 Lüneburg-class trossschiff (TS= supply ship) Saarburg (A1415), Aliakmon served with the Bundesmarine in the Baltic and the North Sea, acting as a mothership to minesweepers and patrol boats, until 1994 when she was sold to the Greeks to began her second career.

The image of the Greek support vessel from NATO this month showed something interesting:

How about that beautiful Breda Type 106 Twin 40 mm/L70s

These guns were 1950s Italian updates to the venerable old twin Bofors designs and use a 32-round ready mag, topped off by 4-shell clips, much like the WWII models. This specific style of gun was just used by the Germans, primarily on their Hamburg-class destroyers and Lüneburg-class tenders.

Their continued use by the Greeks now means they are almost the last twin Bofors-style 40mms still afloat as the Canadians retired theirs, used on the Kingston-class OPVs, in 2014.

A few coast guards, such as in Iceland, still run 40mm Bofors for warning shots or to destroy derelicts at sea, and a couple mounts are in the Philipines on old PCEs– which are rapidly being retired– but that’s about it.

Aliakmon carries two twin Bredas as well as two twin Rheinmental 20mm guns, all of them optically-guided and manually-operated.

Touching the Sun, 75 Years Ago

Last summer, I had a chance to stop in at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, and, while the collection is impressive and even has a Space Shuttle, the centerpiece is and probably always will be the Enola Gay.

Every military history buff is of course familiar with the plane. I, perhaps, more so than others as I have studied Col. Paul Warfield Tibbets, coming close enough in North Carolina to his flight suit to see the sweat stains on the collar, and long ago meeting Enola Gay navigator Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk in Georgia before his death. VanKirk thought that dropping the bomb saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the end, ironically most of them Japanese.

The sentiment was repeated when I spoke a few years ago to navigator Russell Gackenbach, who flew on the Hiroshima photographic plane, Necessary Evil, on that fateful day. Like VanKirk, he too has passed.

It is hard not to look at the sheer size of that “aluminum overcast” and feel a sense of spooky unease about the hell that B-29 unleashed once upon a time. Talk about touching history.

One of the most curious facets of my visit to the Enola Gay was to note that it was teeming with crowds of Japanese tourists, many in their teens, all eager to get a look at the plane.

While Al Jazeera argues the Hiroshima bomb is a war crime, I’ve talked about that subject before in past posts and tend to side with VanKirk and Gackenbach as other alternatives seemed more deadly for all concerned in the long run.

Speaking of the long run, most of the nation’s five-star admirals and generals later went on record against the use of the A-bomb. Here is what the two top admirals in the Pacific had to say on its use:

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet stated in a public address given at the Washington Monument on October 5, 1945:

The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war.  . . . [Nimitz also stated: “The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. . . .”]

In a private 1946 letter to Walter Michels of the Association of Philadelphia Scientists, Nimitz observed that “the decision to employ the atomic bomb on Japanese cities was made on a level higher than that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander U.S. Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946:

The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment. . . . It was a mistake to ever drop it. . . . [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it. . . . It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before.

Professor of History at Notre Dame, Father Wilson Miscamble, weighs in on the subject with the opinion that dropping the bomb shortened the war and saved countless lives — on both sides.

Prof. Miscamble is not speaking off the cuff. His 2007 book, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War was published by Cambridge University Press and received the Harry S. Truman Book Award in 2008. He subsequently published The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs and the Defeat of Japan in 2011.

Challenger 3?

Rheinmetall has taken a seemingly ordinary Challenger 2 main battle tank and, in a move that makes it look more like a German Leopard 3, given it a modified turret with frontal armor, a new, more powerful new engine and modified suspension.

Most important of all, it is a testbed for Rheinmetall’s new 130mm smoothbore main gun with an auto-loader.

Ooof.

The road to Daegu

This original color photo shows the crew of an M-24 Chaffee light tank along the Naktong River front in largely DPRK-occupied South Korea. Note the sign to Daegu.

NARA FILE#: 111-C-6061

On the ground is PFC Rudolph Dotts, Egg Harbor City, N.J. gunner (center), armed with an M3 Grease Gun. On the hull with an M1 Carbine is PVT Maynard Linaweaver, Lundsburg, Kansas, cannoneer of the tank’s M6 75mm gun. On top, ready on the M2 .50-cal heavy machine gun, is PFC Hugh Goodwin, Decatur, Miss., tank commander.

All are members of the 24th Reconnaissance Company, 24th “Victory” Infantry Division. The date is likely August to September 1950, as the unit was inside the battered Pusan (Busan) Perimeter, holding the western portion of the line.

Of note, the DPRK forces opposing the 24th had hundreds of Soviet-supplied T-34/85 tanks, which had both stronger armor than the M-24 and a superior main gun.

Happy 230th USCG!

In honor of today’s anniversary of the founding of Alexander Hamilton’s Revenue-Marine in 1790, a force that evolved over time to the USCG, I penned a 2,000~ word piece on the service’s small arms over time.

More in my column at Guns.com 

The curious Danish Rolling Block

Over the course of the past 150 years or so, Denmark and the U.S. have traded each other’s rifle designs back and forth. Today, the Danish military uses the Canadian-made C7/C8 system, which is fundamentally an M4/M4A1, while the elite Slædepatruljen dog sled patrol still carries Great War-era M1917 “American Enfields” in .30-06 as they walk their icy beat in Greenland.

Boom

Going back to the 1950s through the 1960s, the Danish military used the M1 Garand, or Garandgevær M/50 in local parlance, keeping them in reserve through the end of the Cold War.

Prior to that, the Danes used a standard Scandanavian bolt-action rifle, the Krag-Jorgensen, a design that was a staple in America on the front lines of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, then kept around as a second-line and training rifle as late as WWII.

This U.S. Volunteer, photographed in Tampa in 1898, preparing to ship out for points south in the War with Spain, is carrying the distinctive Krag

Danish troops with their side-loading Krags, a rifle they carried for nearly 60 years

All this sharing can be traced back to 1867, when the Royal Danish Army, looking to re-equip after their war with upstart Germany three years prior, bought one of the most modern breechloaders in the world– the Remington Rolling Block.

Notably, Denmark adopted the rifle before the U.S. Army (who adopted it as the Model 1870).

More in my column at Guns.com

Happy Watermelon Day

August 3rd is National Watermelon Day, which recognizes the refreshing summertime treat enjoyed at picnics and fairs. With that, enjoy this image of the ersatz Great War-era patrol boat USS Uncas (SP-689) showing bluejackets munching said melon amidships, circa summer 1917.

Collection of Robert S. Waters. Donated by Mrs. Alice W. Thomas, 1972. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 98352

The gun appears to be a rather elderly circa 1880s 3-pounder, which is what you would expect for a 60-foot wooden-hulled powerboat taken up from civilian service.

Cutaway General Officer’s Model

U.S. Armament Corp— who has been making superb licensed “reissue” Colt 1903 Hammerless Pocket Pistol (Model M) .32ACPs in the guise of the classic RIA General Officer‘s variant– just posted these images of a cutaway specimen.

It is nice to see makers still cranking out these classic guns “for the love of the game” so to speak.

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