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Copenhagen Joes

The below historical video was recently posted by the Forsvaret, the Royal Danish armed forces. Filmed 1 August 1951, it covers the visit to the country of then five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who just four months prior had been named the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The occasion of the visit was for Ike to stress how important Denmark was to the new NATO alliance, expressed through the handover of surplus Republic F-84 Thunderjets to the rebuilding Danish Air Force, which would soon be bolstered by 240 new F-84Gs over the next four years– a huge upgrade from their previous force of 40~ WWII surplus RAF Spitfires handed over in 1948.

An especially interesting part of the video for me– which incidentally is about 60 percent in English– is the Danish Army honor guard for the occasion.

Outfitted in British-pattern wool uniforms and American M1 helmets, M1 Garand rifles (adopted as the M/50 GarandGevær) and canvas-holstered Swiss-made SIG P210 pistols (adopted as the M/49), they are very exotic in a sense. Danish by way of Portsmouth, Neuhausen, and Springfield.

The Danes would continue to use the Garand as their primary infantry arm until 1975 when it was replaced by the German-made HK G3, adopted as the Gevær M/75.

Garands would continue to soldier on with the Danish as a second-line and Home Guard rifle through the 1990s, when it would finally be replaced by Colt Canada C7 (M16A2) rifles and C8 (M4A1) carbines, which would be adopted as the Gevær M/95 and Karabin M/96, respectively. As such, the Danes would be the last Western European NATO member to field John Garand’s vaunted 30.06.

Still

Dorie Miller to be remembered in a new carrier

The (A)SECNAV over the weekend announced that, in honor of MLK Day, USS West Virginia Pearl Harbor hero cook PO3 Dorie Miller will be the namesake of a new Gerald Ford-class carrier, the future CVN-81.

Of course, it does kinda rub me a skosh the wrong way as far as naming conventions go, with aircraft carriers generally named after famous battles, other aircraft carriers, and presidents. Traditionally, destroyers and frigates were named in honor of naval heroes up to and including Medal of Honor winners. In fact, Miller formerly had a Cold War-era Knox-class frigate named after him (DE/FF-1091)

USS Miller (DE/FF-1091) underway off Cape Henry, Va., on 20 May 1974. (U.S. Navy photograph K-103414, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.) NHHC K-103414

Still, in my mind, it is far better to name a carrier for Miller than for Carl Vinson and John Stennis, as have been done in the past, just saying.

Sure, you can argue that Vinson and Stennis both held and pulled important purse strings while in Capitol Hill for the military– but they never had to face down an incoming Japanese Val with a machine gun they were never trained to use.

As noted by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly’s office:

This will be the second ship named in honor of Miller, and the first aircraft carrier ever named for an African American. This will also be the first aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a Sailor for actions while serving in the enlisted ranks.

“In selecting this name, we honor the contributions of all our enlisted ranks, past and present, men and women, of every race, religion and background,” said Modly. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, ‘Everybody can be great – because anybody can serve’. No one understands the importance and true meaning of service than those who have volunteered to put the needs of others above themselves.”

On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was collecting laundry on the battleship West Virginia (BB-48), when the attack from Japanese forces commenced. When the alarm for general quarters sounded he headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it. Miller was ordered to the ship’s bridge to aid the mortally wounded commanding officer, and subsequently manned a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition. Miller then helped move many other injured Sailors as the ship was ordered abandoned due to her own fires and flaming oil floating down from the destroyed Arizona (BB-33). West Virginia lost 150 of its 1,500 person crew.

Miller’s actions during the attack earned him a commendation from then Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and the Navy Cross, which was presented to him personally by Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time.

Nimitz stated: this marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” said Modly.

In 1943, Miller died aboard USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56) when the ship was hit by a torpedo and sank off Butaritari Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.

The future USS Doris Miller and other Ford-class carriers will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and humanitarian relief, and early decisive striking power in major combat operations. The aircraft carrier and the carrier strike group will provide forward presence, rapid response, endurance on station, and multi-mission capability throughout its 50-year service life.

Meanwhile, USS Gerald R. Ford is apparently making good progress when it comes to launches and traps on Hornets, Greyhounds and T-45 Goshawks, working through teething problems on its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), which is good news as far as the class itself goes.

Hopefully, they will get the bugs worked out before the next “big one,” a factor that could help deter just such an event.

Paging hand cannons, paging hand cannons

Recently I’ve been fooling about with some rarely-encountered but nonetheless very cool guns:

The Auto Mag .44AMP of Mack Bolan fame… 

…and a Wildey gas-operated .45 Win Mag of Charles Bronson vintage 

Both are aristocratic hand cannons from a different era. We call it the 1970s and 80s.

With that in mind, I’ll be in Las Vegas for SHOT Show all week, so stay tuned for updates on cool guy stuff.

Bazooka Boy Scout

In this 1960s Army recruiting poster, we see PFC Vernon K. Haught, of the 82nd ABN Divison’s 325th Glider Rgt, around the final act of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, as he strolls in the snow-covered countryside near Ordimont, Belgium.

While the M1 2.36-inch Bazooka on his shoulder is likely his go-to should an errant Panzer poke its nose out of the woods, the thin-handled knife on the German army belt around his waist probably got a lot more daily use. The blade seems to be a Norwegian-style speiderkniv, or scout knife, of the kind commonly used by boy scouts in Western Europe at the time, differing from the beefier U.S.-style PAL or Western Cutlery-made fixed blade Boy Scout knives sold back home in the 1940s.

Also, note the M1 bayonet strapped to his leg.

After all, “Be Prepared.”

A suppressed 20-pound .338 Norma Magnum belt-fed Sig Sauer machine gun? OK!

Sig Sauer announced this week that the U.S. Special Operation Command has certified and taken delivery of the company’s new MG 338 machine gun system.

Chambered in .338 Norma Magnum, the MG 338 is billed on being able to deliver effective fire at ranges out to 2,000 meters, closing the gap between 7.62 NATO weapons like the M240 and .50 cal BMG platforms such as the M2 heavy machine gun. Weighing only 20-pounds, the MG 338 uses Sig-produced ammunition and optics as well as the company’s suppressor design to create an all-Sig product.

And it looks pretty sweet, with an almost sci-fi quality to it.

All you are missing is a power suit

More in my column at Guns.com.

Glock’s new pistol turned out to be a super reliable plinker

When it comes to .22LR, the biggest problem is the round itself.

First marketed in 1884 as a black powder round, the little lead-nosed pipsqueak was intended for use in rifles and revolvers, with its rimmed case proving notoriously difficult for pistols to cycle. Compounding this, there is a myriad of loads in circulation, all with slightly different specs and performance. When you magnify those problems with the fact that the rounds are often produced by the millions as economically as possible, especially in the case of bulk-pack budget ammo, and you get a cartridge that tends to be finicky in a lot of semi-auto handguns.

To get it right, Glock spent nearly three years testing and developing the G44– which is why models like the G45, G46, G47, and G48 passed it up in reaching the market while the rimfire chewer was still in R&D.

During that time, they used no less than 141 different rimfire loads in testing, popping over 1.2 million rounds in the process. Federal, which supported the effort, used everything in test guns from 42-grain subsonic to CCI Stingers with no problem. In short, while many 22LR pistols come with the caveat that they are picky about their diet, the Glock is billed as being omnivorous.

Well, I grabbed 2,200 rounds of a wide array of .22LR and headed to the range with a new G44 sent for T&E.

How did it do?

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Dr. Watson, bring your revolver(s)

So I saw this interesting listing pop up from Milestone Auctions, centered on a cased pair of beautiful (although non-sequential) Colt Model 1878 double action cartridge revolvers.

As you may well remember, the Colt 1871 and follow-up 1873 (aka Peacemaker, aka Single Action Army) brought the iconic wheelgun maker back from bankruptcy and into the cartridge revolver-era, and the 1878 being double action, was essentially the most tactical wheelgun on the market when it was released.

With 5.5-inch barrels and a massive .455/476 Enfield Eley Mark III chambering, these big gate-loading Colts were certainly man-stoppers.

Even more interesting, and the caliber may have given it away. is the fact that these two Colts are English silver plated with bird’s head rosewood grips and are covered with both British proof house marks and Colt’s London address on the barrels.

For sure, these were presentation guns for a special occasion or person. A clue is in the auction listing which reads that one of the guns :

“..appears in the copy of Army & Navy sales ledger as sold in England to Caton Jones, Sup FW on Sept 9, 1885, with no details on guns finish. How they ended up together as a pair and plated while in England is a mystery.”

Going to the Army List for that year, we find one Frederick William Caton Jones, MB (Medicinae Baccalaureus), MRCS (Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons), is listed as commissioned 30 May 1885. He was 25 years old.

Bound for India, our good Dr. Caton Jones later turns up in future listings as a Surgeon assigned in 1891 to the Bombay garrison with the Army in India, where he was still posted as of the 1906 Army List. During that period he rose to Major on 30 May 1897 and to Lt. Colonel on 30 May 1905.

As published in The Western Australian, 24 August 1900, Caton-Jones was mixing it up with the Boers while in Kitchener’s brigade.

Surgeon-Major F. W. Caton Jones, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, writing to his sister, Mrs. Cumming from Newcastle, South Africa, under date July 22, says :–

I am just getting over that Ladysmith business now and can get along all right without taking medicine, but it has taken four months to do it. I have a very nice commando of my own now. Am in charge of the 7th Brigade, Field Hospital and Bearer Company. It is an Indian hospital and a perfect unit.

I have under me one officer, R.A.M.C.; two civil surgeons (in place of R.A.M.C. officers); eight assistant surgeons (Indian Apothecaries); one conductor (Indian army); two civilian conductors, four sergeants, and eight nursing orderlies (British army from India); 42 Indian Army Hospital native corps, 126 Indian dhoolee-bearers, and 50 drivers.

I am equipped for a hundred sick in hospital, and put up double that number at a pinch. I can carry 52 men lying down and 12 sitting in my sick transport, 20 lying in the dhoolies, and 94 sitting in my wheeled ambulances, if I put no lying down cases in the latter; a good deal to be responsible for.

Our brigade, under Brigadier General Kitchener, is at Newcastle, on the lines of communication. Of course, we are very sick at not getting forward, but someone must stay behind. Thank goodness, the grass is burnt round the camp. Veldt fires happen every day. One field hospital was burnt, but luckily no one was injured.

This is a fine country, and very healthy. All colonists say we shall have to be much sterner with the Boers before they will give in. I believe sternness would save very many lives both of, theirs and ours. If the Indian hospitals are sent back to India in September, I may go to China.

By 1911, the good doctor was back from his long overseas deployments and stationed in Tidworth Barracks in south-east Wiltshire, England where he remained until 1914.

By 1916, I can find then-Colonel FW Caton-Jones OB, AMS, ADMS (Assistant Director Medical Services), as head of the Medical Board of Officers assembled at No 1 General Hospital, Etretat, in Normandy, serving with the BEF “on the Continent.”

Col. FW Caton-Jones, 1916, via IWM

Why the big pistols for a man of medicine, besides the obvious need for a gentleman of the period to have arms while campaigning?

It seems the good Dr. Caton-Jones was a true English gentleman officer while abroad and was something of a noted big game hunter as well as a man of arts, science, and letters.

In 1914, he contributed a chapter to Major-General A.E. Wardrop’s “Modern Pig-Sticking,” a tome about horse-mounted tiger and boar hunting, particularly centered in India.

An illustration from Modern Pig Sticking, circa 1914

Caton-Jones was uniquely qualified to write the chapter at the time as he was the 1907 winner of the Nagpur Hunt cup. The Spectator called the volume, “one of the pleasantest books on the sport that we have seen for a long time.”

Caton-Jones had previously written other scholarly works for the Journal of Bombay Natural History (“Some Notes on Wild Dogs and Panthers”) as well as for the British Army’s Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (“The Sanitation of Standing Camps in India”). He also wrote/co-wrote at least seven papers in the respected The Lancet medical journal. Still other papers appeared in The Medical Press and Circular, and The Journal of the Royal Institute of Public Health.

After moving to the reserve list following the Great War and more than 30 years of military service, Caton-Jones later reappeared in India and Kenya while still submitting articles on both medicine and hunting (see= The Hoghunter’s Annual, Times of India Press, 1930).

At some point, he was made a Companion of the Order of Bath and a fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health.

Colonel Frederick William Caton Jones, CB, RAMC, Veteran of the Boer Wars, the Great War and assorted Indian campaigns, and scourge of tigers and wild boar, died at his Earlsdale estate on 7 June 1944, aged 83.

No word on if a Mr. Holmes attended his funeral.

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