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Scott on Moebius

If you haven’t seen the Hennessy X O commercial “The Seven Worlds” by Ridley Scott and are an old school space opera/sci-fi/comics fan, then you are missing out.

Of course it is kinda hokey that it is a commercial, and I am more of a whisky (no “e”) fan than congnac, it is magnifiecent in a “I dropped acid” kinda way.

The influence of the late French artist Jean Giraud, who went by the pen name Moebius (remember Heavy Metal as a kid?), is unmistakable and I beleive a salute to the man who Scott had worked with in the past.

Moebius did a lot of the early storyboard art for Alien in 1979 and even designed a much better suit than what was actually used.

My favorite Moebius is of course the monster hunter in Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage). Bring enough gun, indeed.

Want to know how many guns CMP has in the warehouse?

By the numbers from a recent 44-page GAO report on the government-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program:

304,233 – The number of former military rifles the group sold to U.S. citizens from 2008 through 2017.

$196.8 million – The revenue from those sales, or about $650 per rifle.

279,032 – The number of rifles transferred by the Army to CMP at the same time (note the less than 1:1 replacement in inventory).

$85.8 million – The cost of the program’s marksmanship activities in the past decade, mostly promoting youth in the shooting sports nationwide

$3.6 million – CMP’s cost of the program providing free ceremonial rifles to veterans groups during the same time

$15.6 million – The non-profit’s expenses for 2017, ranging from targets and ranges to keeping the lights on to guarding the expansive warehouses and inspecting/repairing pallets of sometimes moody guns and ammo.

$0 – The number of taxpayer dollars the group has collected. The only support they have had from Uncle since 1997 has been through the transfer of surplus gear and guns.

228,791 – The number of rifles CMP had on hand in Aug. 2018.

More in my column at Guns.com

Young battlewagons at play

Here we see, on the cusp of the Great War, a most excellent color-tinted postcard published by the Valentine Souvenir Co., New York from a photograph by Enrique Muller, showing brand-new early dreadnoughts of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet steaming in line ahead, circa summer, 1914.

The card came from the collection of Valentine cards amassed by CDR Donald J. Robinson, USN (Ret), in 1983. Catalog #: NH 101221-KN

The NHHC has identified these as USS North Dakota (BB-29) and her only sister, USS Delaware (BB-28), astern. The two-ship Delaware-class were only 518-feet oal and some 22,000-tons but mounted a full battery of ten 12″/45 caliber Mark 5 guns in five double turrets, which are seen in the above image. The 12″/45 armed a total of 14 battlewagons, and as such was the most prolific main gun in American battleship history.

Sadly, victims of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922, both the Delawares (as well as just about every other ship carrying the 12″/45) were broken up soon after as a general, yet ephemeral, sense of lasting peace had broken out. The mighty warships were less than 13 years old when they went to the breakers.

The Moscow slap-chop

Below is a 5-minute primer posted last week by Rosoboronexport on Russia’s current crop of choppers for sale to international buyers with cash to spare. While many are new versions of old classics, such as the Mi-17V5 Hip and Mi-35 Hind, there are some other offerings covered as well.

The more you know…

Keep off Gov boats!

The sad fate of the majority of the U.S. Navy’s Great War splinter fleet.

Here we see a trio of disarmed 110-foot subchasers to include USS SC-216 and USS SC-225 in Boston harbor’s Dorchester Bay boat graveyard, likely shortly after they were bought by the firm of C. P. Comerford Co., who picked up at least seven of these ships for pocket change in 1921. Note the sign that reads “KEEP OF GOV BOATS.”

Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Designed by Herreshoff Boat Yard Vice President, the esteemed naval architect Albert Loring Swasey (Commodore of the MIT Yacht Club in 1897) on request of Asst SECNAV Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1916 and rushed into construction the next year, the Navy ordered hundreds of 110-foot subchasers to smother the Kaiser’s U-boats on the high seas. It was believed the vessels could be rushed out via commercial boatyards at $500K a pop.

Derided as a “splinter fleet” the SCs were built from wood, which, when powered by a trio of Standard 220-hp 6-cylinder gasoline (!) engines, a 24~ man crew could get the narrow-beamed vessel underway at a (designed) top speed of 18 knots, which was fast enough for U-boat work at the time. However, once the war was over, the steel Navy had little need or use for immense flotillas of these little wooden boats with their fire-prone engineering suites. Of the nearly 450 built, more than 100 were transferred to the French during the war, some to the Coast Guard in the 1920s, and most liquidated throughout the 1920s.

As a reference for just how short of a life the two named boats above had, here is the entirety of their DANFS entries:

SC-216: Built at Alex. McDonald, Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, N.Y. Commissioned 2/14/18. Sold 5/11/21 to C. P. Comerford Co., Lowell, Mass.

SC-225 Built at New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co., Morris Heights, N.Y. Commissioned 12/10/17. Sold 5/11/21 to C. P. Comerford Co., Lowell, Mass.

Here are a few more shots from the same series:

Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

110 Sub chaser No. 241 in the scrapyard. According to DANFS, she was, “Built at New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co., Morris Heights, N.Y. Commissioned 4/8/18. Sold 5/11/21 to C. P. Comerford Co., Lowell, Mass.” Photo from Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

By WWII, just a dozen of the Great War’s 110-footers remained on the Naval List although they were still in their 20s. A similar fate would meet the myriad of wooden PT-boats and rescue boats rushed into service during the 1940s.

Steel frame aesthetics done right

Walther a couple months ago introduced what they bill as the Q5 Steel Frame Match pistol, which takes their standard Q5 and ditches all the polymer (frame, guide rod, etc) for steel, which is a throwback that I can get behind. Kinda like what CZ did for the 46-ounce Shadow 2 a while back. Sure, it adds a pound to the gun but translates to easy recoil and better accuracy on the 9mm longslide.

Plus it gives you a lot of canvas for engraving, should you be into that sort of thing.

That flat trigger…

More in my column at Guns.com.

President’s day: Campaigning with a British general’s pistol

A young George Washington, sitting for his 1772 portrait as Colonel of the Virginia Regiment done by Portrait of George Washington – Charles Willson Peale. Washington had been appointed colonel in 1756– the year after Braddock was killed. (Photo: Washington-Curtis Collection, Washington-Lee University)

Aged just 20 years, George Washington was appointed a major in the provincial militia by Virginia’s Royal Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, in February 1753. As the tensions between Britain and France boiled over into the Seven Years’ War/French and Indian War, Washington found himself on the colonial front lines along the frontier at Fort Necessity and all points west. Appointed as an aide to British Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock in the summer of 1755 during the failed attempted to capture French Fort Duquesne (now in downtown Pittsburgh), the 60-year-old professional campaigner and veteran of the Austrian War of Succession was taken with Washington. So much so that he gave the young man one of his personal guns, a large .71-caliber horse pistol made by English gunsmith William Gabbitas. Engraved with Braddock’s initials, Washington carried the gun throughout most of his military service

(Photo: Smithsonian NMAH-JN2014-3130)

Of course, Braddock was killed during his campaign in the Ohio Valley, but Washington continued to carry the pistol, which was engraved “EB” after its former, late, owner.

In 1777, although he had numerous pistols (Mount Vernon has no less than seven sets) Washington was still carrying the old British horse pistol as commander of the Colonial Army. After mislaying it briefly, a note sent behind in an effort to retrieve it just before the Battle of Brandywine noted that, “His Excellency is much exercised over the loss of this pistol, it being given him by Gen. Braddock, and having since been with him through several campaigns, and he therefore values it very highly.”

The gun is now in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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