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Getting Hydra-matic….

Did you know General Motors (GM) made M16 rifles for the US Army during the Vietnam war? Here is your chance to own a replica of those made by Runner Runner of Texas. This fully functioning stripped 100% AR-15 lower (FFL required) has the same design as the originals but with modern day AR-15 specs. You can put this on display or you could build into a M16 clone, which is all the rage these days.

Specs:

Semi-auto AR15 lower receiver
Machined from 7075-T6 forged aluminum
Matte black hard-coat anodized Mil 8625 Type 3 Class 2
Works with standard AR15 components and magazines
Completely Mil-Spec; works will all uppers and LPKs
Upper tension screw (uses 1/16” Allen wrench)
Captured take down pin spring/detent with set screw (uses 1/32″ Allen Wrench)
Safety Selector settings: SAFE, FIRE & AUTO

Runner Runner is selling these for $79 here.

 

The ‘Battle Cat’ still serves

Sailors from the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) recently conducted damage control and medical training during three damage control “rodeo” events held aboard the decommissioned carrier ex-USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) over the past three months, showing that even ships on red lead row can still tap in when needed.

Laid down in 1956, Kitty Hawk became the oldest active warship in the Navy (besides Constitution) in 1998 and held that title for a decade until she was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 50-years in the fleet. Still, her hangar deck is and other passageways are similar enough to the Nimitz-class to work for DC training.

BREMERTON, Washington (May 17, 2017) Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) muster for a damage control rodeo prior to going aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). The damage control rodeo was held on Kitty Hawk to provide a shipboard environment, adequate space and hands-on training while John C. Stennis conducts a planned incremental availability (PIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, during which the ship is undergoing scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop / Released)

From the Navy’s presser:

John C. Stennis’ damage control and medical departments were unable to hold the “rodeos” on their own ship due to maintenance work being conducted during its planned incremental availability (PIA), but still wanted to give their fellow Sailors the most realistic experience possible.

Enter ex-Kitty Hawk, the Navy’s last conventional-powered aircraft carrier, held at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Bremerton, and just a quick walk away from John C. Stennis. Though Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in 2009, it remains largely intact and shares many basic similarities to modern Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, making it an ideal location for this type of training.

Kitty Hawk is officially to be held in Maintenance Category B receiving the highest degree of maintenance and preservation to a retired ship, though with USS Ford entering the fleet, she will likely be downgraded to Category C or X in coming months as the big new carrier moves through a 10-month shakedown and goes through working up for her first deployment.

Though plans have been floated to look into reactivating “Shitty Kitty” the CNO has downplayed that and it is more likely she would be held for museum donation and, should that fall through, scrapped.

Warship Wednesday, July 26, 2017: Doctor Jekyll and HM’s gunboat

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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, July 26, 2017: Doctor Jekyll and HM’s gunboat

Photograph (Q 41101) H. M. S. Royalist. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205275598

Here we see the Royal Navy Satellite-class barque-rigged, composite-hulled protected sloop (later deemed a corvette) HMS Royalist as she appeared in the late 1880s.

Designed by the noted Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, KCB, the seven ships of the Satellite-class were an amalgam of old sailing era fighting ships and new iron steam vessel. They had an iron keel and frame with wood planking. A steam plant was primary propulsion (up to 13 knots) and they carried enough coal to travel an impressive 6,000nm, but a sail rig was fitted and often used.

Gone were old muzzle-loading cast iron rifles, replaced by new breech-loading 6-inch/100-pounder (81cwt) guns which could fire an 80-pound shell some 7,590 yards and Gardner machine guns (though each of the class carried a different armament pattern and varying engineering suites, making them more half-sisters than anything.). At 200-feet overall, these impressive vessels carried a smattering of armor plate (about an inch) over their sensitive machinery areas, but remained svelte enough to float in less than three fathoms.

Built at Sheerness and Devonport, these ships were soon dispatched to far-flung colonial posts on the Australian Station, the Pacific Station, West Indies and China.

The subject of our tale, the 7th HMS Royalist, commissioned 14 April 1886 then spent some time on station at the Cape of Good Hope and Australia.

Sydney, NSW, c. 1890. Portside view of screw corvette HMS Royalist. Note 6-inch guns in ports on her waist. (AWM 302264)

Royalist was subsequently sent for a spell to the Gilbert islands, claiming them for the Crown and inspecting the same.

Annexation of the Gilbert Islands, Hoisting the British Flag at Apamama by HMS Royalist, 27 May 1892, from the Sept. 10 1892 Illustrated London News

Later, Royalist was sent to Samoa, then a hot topic in the halls of Europe and America.

The “Samoan Question” burned brightly from about 1886 onward, with Germany, the U.S. and Britain all nosing around the islands, and picking sides. This resulted in an eight-year civil war in the archipelago with guns and munitions supplied to Samoan leaders by the powers, all to ultimately claim the land for their growing colonial empires, a struggle that is beyond this blog.

By early March 1899, this low-level tribal conflict had boiled over, with exiled chief Mata’afa Iosefo backed by the Germans and incoming regent Malietoa Tanumafili I backed by the Anglo-Americans, and combat at the offering.

H.M.S. ROYALIST; USS PHILADELPHIA (C-4); H.M.S. TORCH; H.M.S. TAURANGA; German cruiser FALKE; and H.M.S. PORPOISE, at Apia, Samoa, April 1899. Catalog #: NH 4

With the balloon going up, the Royalist joined the Alert-class sloop HMS Torch, Archer-class torpedo cruiser HMS Porpoise, and the U.S. Pacific Squadron flag, USS Philadelphia (Cruiser No. 4), in supporting Tanumafili.

British sailors and Royal Marines, joined with U.S. leathernecks and bluejackets to form a force consisting of 26 marines and 88 sailors, reinforced by a company of 136 Samoans loyal to Tanumafili, and set out from Apia toward a plantation at Vailele. The group was led by Lt. Angel H. Freeman, RN, with Lt. Philip V. Lansdale, USN as XO, and carried a Colt-Browning M1895 from Philadelphia just in case.

NH 121036 Angel Hope Freeman, RN

Another 146 mixed RN/USN landing force, augmented by a single 7-pounder from Royalist and assorted U.S. Marines manning Gatling guns for fire support, surrounded the Tivoli Hotel which was used as a command post and shelter for non-combatants. From there they held off a determined assault from Iosefo loyalists over three days (March 15-17), losing four British and American sailors and marines.

Seven Pounder commanding the Tivoli Road – Gunner Gunn of H.M.S. Royalist in charge, Auckland Weekly News (07 April 1899), via Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18990407-5-1.

An American Gatling gun and crew and part of the defenses of the British Consulate, Apia, Samoa, 1899. Courtesy of Captain T.T. Craven, USN. Catalog #: NH 1448

Meanwhile, as Royalist with her big 6-inchers and shallow draft, closed in and shelled two fortified outposts filled with Iosefo supporters– with fire corrected by a pair of Samoan fans in the hands of a signalman on the reef near Fagalii.

However, once the column moved inland to attack Vailele, they were swarmed by 800 of Iosefo’s troops on 1 April while arrayed along the road. Setting up a perimeter supported by the Colt, Freeman was killed and an injured Lansdale took command of the force, only to succumb to his wounds. Also killed in the action were U.S. Navy Seaman Norman E. Edsall, U.S. Ensign John Robert Monaghan (USNA 1879), U.S. Seaman James Butler, RN Leading Seaman Albert Meirs Prout and RN Leading Seaman John Long. Eventually the naval party was able to break contact, covered by Royalist‘s guns, which were once again directed by the fans.

Two Marines, Sgt. Michael J. McNally, and Pvt. Henry L. Hulbert, received the Medal of Honor for their heroism during the battle. Iosefo is believed to have suffered 100 casualties.

By 25 April, the conflict had settled down with each side agreeing to disagree. The next day, the auxiliary cruiser USS Badger arrived in Apia harbor carrying the Joint High Commission–representatives from Germany, Britain and the U.S. State Department– to begin negotiations on how to carve up the islands more peacefully. By 13 May they had the affair sorted out and a treaty was sent home to be signed by the end of the year.

In the end, Germany acquired the western islands (Savai’i and ‘Upolu, plus seven smaller islands) with Iosefo declared chief by the German Samoa colonial powers; while the U.S. acquired the eastern islands (Tutuila and the Manu’a group) and established a base at Pago Pago. The Brits quit the chain altogether in exchange for territorial concessions from the Germans in Tonga and the Solomans.

New Zealand was allowed by Britain to annex the Cook Islands and Niue as something of a consolation prize, though the Kiwis had mustered local troops for war in Samoa, that in the end, were not needed. Nonetheless, they stormed German Samoa in 1914 during the Great War and remained in administration of the islands as the Western Samoa Trust Territory until 1962.

Preceding joint monuments for the Great War, WWII, and Korea, the USN and RN established a marker in Samoa to commemorate their combined war dead from 1899.

Tablet on Monument in Samoa. Caption: “Erected by Americans and British in memory of the Brave American and British Sailors who fought and fell together at the Samoan Islands in March and April 1899.” Angel Hope Freeman, Philip Vanhorne Lansdale, John R. Monaghan, James Butler, Norman Eckley Edsall, Albert Meirs Prout, John Long, Edmund Halloran, Montague Rogers, Thomas Holloway, Andrew Henry J. Thornberry, John Edward Mudge. All Officers and men of the American Navy were attached to the U.S.F.S. PHILADELPHIA and those of the British Navy to H.M.S. ROYALIST. Description: Collection of Captain T.T. Craven, USN. Catalog #: NH 2177

Beyond the marker, the U.S. Navy preserved relics from the colonial battle including shrapnel and a fuse from the British ship and the famous fans used as signal flags to correct her fire. Below are the images and it is likely the takeaways are still in a box somewhere in a Navy warehouse.

On left, a piece of shrapnel thrown by HMS ROYALIST after the battle of 1 April 1899, Apia, Samoa. On right, fuse of 6″ shell fired from the British ship ROYALIST after striking a coconut tree and exploding on 1 April 1899, Apia, Samoa. Catalog #: NH 1666

Samoan fans taken from a chief’s hut in the village of Mataafa. This chief led the revolution against the British-American authority in the Samoan Islands 6 March to 22 May 1899. The fans were used to signal the British ship ROYALIST to fire over the defeated Anglo-American columns on the reef near Fagalii, Upolu, Samoa, on 1 April 1899. From the ROYALIST held the hostilities back until the survivors of the ambush were rescued Catalog #: USN 901315

A storyteller who lived in Samoa since 1890 who was on hand for the struggle was a Scot, one Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson. While his Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are much more commonly read, he did craft A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa, his own nonfiction take on the conflict there, in which he mentions Royalist several times.

Photograph of Robert Louis Stevenson (seated) and family, Vailima, on the island of Upolu in Samoa. Via Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

While it may seem we are finished with our story here, Royalist remained afloat for another half-century past her Samoan encounter.

Leaving the islands once they were partitioned, she sailed for Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland to be converted to a depot and receiving station for ship crews in Haulbowline.

Photograph (Q 40999) H. M. S. Royalist. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205275497

In 1913, on the eve of the Great War, she was renamed HMS Colleen. While she was still afloat, one of HMs submarines and two cruisers went on to carry the name HMS Royalist.

When the lights went out in Europe, the old corvette-turned-hulk wore the flag of CiC Coast of Ireland and later CiC Western Approaches, and was a welcome sight at Queenstown for ships crossing the Atlantic during the war. It was during the conflict that she served as the mother ship to a series of shifting flotillas of motor launches and armed trawlers of the Auxiliary Patrol, which deployed around the British Isles performing search and rescue and anti-submarine patrolling.

Incoming ships to Queensland with sick or injured crew members, or shipmates being transferred or processing out, would assign their transients to Royalist/Colleen, which means there are dozens of wartime graves around the British Isles with headstones marked HMS Colleen.

Noted Irish polar explorer Tom Crean, member of three major expeditions to Antarctica including Captain Scott’s ill-fated 1911–13 Terra Nova Expedition, served his last few months in the Royal Navy aboard Colleen until he was retired on medical grounds on 24 March 1920.

With Ireland moving out of the British Empire, the aging Colleen was paid off 15 March 1922, just three months before the Irish Free State was proclaimed.

Still a dominion of the British Empire until 1931, HMS Colleen was transferred to the new Irish government 19 February 1923 to support the recently formed Irish Coastal and Marine Service, joining the commandeered 155-foot armed yacht Helga (rechristened Muirchu, or “Seahound”). However, the CMS was soon disbanded, and Colleen was never used as more than a hulk and oil storage barge, though she was retained until at least 1950, some four years after the founding of the current Irish Naval Service (An tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh) was founded.

Her final fate is unknown, though she is thought to have been broken up. What is known, however, is that she outlived all six of her sister ships.

Paid off or hulked in the early 1900s, Heroine, Hyachinth and Pylades went to the breakers by 1906. Satellite and Caroline managed as training vessels until 1947 and 1929, respectively, though one of the latter’s guns endures on display in Hong Kong. Runner up for the longest life of the class was Rapid, who endured as an accommodation ship and coal bunker until she was disposed of at Gibraltar in 1948.

However, there is always Robert Louis Stevenson, the marker on Samoa, the relics somewhere in the NHHC archives and the heroics of Tom Crean, proving Royalist will remain, as a footnote at least, forever.

Specs:

Displacement: 1,420 tons
Length: 200 ft. (61 m)
Beam: 38 ft. (12 m)
Draught: 15.7 ft. (4.8 m)
Propulsion:
Cylindrical boilers,
Maudslay, Sons and Field horizontal compound expansion steam engine, 1510hp
Single screw
Maximum speed: 13 knots
Endurance: 6,000 nm at 10 kts on 400 tons coal
Sail plan: Barque-rigged
Range: Approximately 6,000 nmi (11,000 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)
Complement: 170-200
Armament:
(As designed)
Two 6″/26 (15.2 cm) BL Mark II guns
Ten BL 5-inch (127.0 mm) 50-pounder (38cwt) guns
One light gun
Four machine guns
(As completed)
Eight 6″/26 (15.2 cm) BL Mark II guns
1 7-pdr landing gun
4x .45 cal Gardner machine guns
Armor: Internal steel deck, 19-25mmm thick, over machinery and magazines

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.

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Russians find an old G-5

The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation announced they have discovered and identified torpedo boat AKA-76 in the Black Sea off Cape Panagia. The G-5 (Г-5) type boat was sunk 17 November 1943 by German aircraft during the Kerch-Eltigen landing operation, taking 10 personnel with her.

Not much left…

Designed in the late 1920s by famous aircraft designer AN Tupolev, the 61-foot duralumin vessels, powered by imported Italian Isotta-Frascini diesels (and later M-34 water-cooled piston aircraft gasoline engines– yikes!) were very light and could top 50+ knots at max speed on smooth water. Carrying a pair of 533mm rear-launched torpedoes and two 12.7mm Dshk guns for self-defense, they had a six man crew (with the fact that AKA-76 had 10 aboard being indicative that she was probably a control boat for the landings). They could float in just 32-inches of water when fully loaded and, at speed, pass through areas even more shallow.

Торпедный катер

Some were shipped to the Republicans in Spain as military aid in the Spanish Civil War, thought they proved ineffective.

Though 329 were completed, and at least 70 lost in WWII, these boats did not claim many anti-shipping victories other than a few smallish Romanian and German vessels in the Black Sea and some Finnish ones in the Baltic. A swarm of G5s  reportedly (Soviet legend) harassed the German cruisers Leipzig, Emden and the destroyers T-7, T-8 and T-11 enough that the Kriegsmarine abandoned an initial assault on the Estonian island of Saaremaa in 1941.

The G-5s did prove very good at helping demine coastal areas and harbors while infiltrating raiding parties and supplies behind enemy lines, as well as in racing close during landings and letting their Dshk guns do the heavy lifting alongside small-arms equipped crew.

No less than 28 Heroes of the Soviet Union, including Aleksey Afrikanov, earned their decorations in G-5s, with the aforementioned officer doing so with a group of torpedo boats that suppressed German artillery positions at close range in Tsemess Bay and Novorossiysk on the night of 10 September 1943, just before the start of the landing operation, thus ensuring a successful landing of troops from the sea.

During the Korean conflict, three DPRK-crewed G-5s attacked the cruisers USS Juneau (CL-119) and HMS Jamaica off Chumunjin on 2 July 1950, without much success. All three were splashed at long range.

More on the class (in Russki)

A Lil Jeep and a lot of swagger

Capt. Forrest F “Pappy” Parham in front of the famous shark teeth of Little Jeep, a P-40 Warhawk when a member of “Chennault’s Sharks” the 23rd Fighter Group in the China-Burma-India theater of WWII. He went on to make ace with the 75th Fighter Squadron flying P-51s.

The Saskatchewan-born Parham was reared in Minnesota and began his career as an Army enlisted man but retired a full bird colonel in the U.S. Air Force having served through the Korean War. He retired after 28 years, carried the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Unit Citation, Soldiers Medal and two Bronze Service Stars.

He died in Louisiana in 2002 at age 85. As you can tell, he enjoyed a good pipe and an ivory-handled 1911.

When you visit just 1 museum ship, you visit many

Floating museum ships around the world take to searching for missing parts and items from their vessel as they often received the ship after decades in mothballs where they were cannibalized to keep units still in the fleet “in the fight.” Others had equipment stripped from them before transfer.

This leaves museums looking for parts from all over.

I know on a visit to the USS Alabama (BB-60) I found Dutch Navy-marked 20mm cannon components. On visiting the USCGC Ingham, there is an amalgam of other 327′ Treasury-class cutters as well as gear from across the Coast Guard. On visiting the USS Kidd (DD-661) in Baton Rouge, they have an unrestored compartment they will show you that illustrates how the ship was received in 1982 after sitting in mothballs for 20 years.

This week the volunteers of the museum ship USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr (DD-850), decommissioned 2 July 1973, detailed some of the work put in to “Joey P” over the past several years in scouring other tin cans coming up for dismantling or destruction to salvage what they could to make the old Gearing-class destroyer a more complete specimen of her species. The donors range from Fletchers and Shermans to Adams and Farragut-class guided missile destroyers.

ex-USS Barney (DDG-6), moored along two mothballed FFG7s. Barney decommissioned 17 December 1990 after 28 years of service and was sold for scrapping in 2006.

From the group:

As early as 2001, much of the original items needed were missing to make her the period authentic display she is in 2017. Two main groups, the 1970s and the 2000s team have acquired just about all that she needed. From Mexico, California, Virginia, and Pennsylvania came literally tons of equipment from DASH drones to sound powered phone handset cradles. Our crew removed items with respect and honor to those who served on the ships we removed the items from. The history of these ships live on today.. Here is a list of some of the destroyer types ships we acquired items from or a part originally came from:

USS Nicholas DD449
USS The Sullivans DD537
USS Caperton DD650
USS Van Valkenburgh DD656
USS William M. Wood DD715
USS William C. Lawe DD763
USS McKean DD784
USS Basilone DD824
USS Myles C Fox DD829
USS George K. Mackenzie DD836
USS Glennon DD840
USS Perry DD844
USS Robert L. Wilson DD847
USS Harwood DD861
USS Steinaker DD863
USS Stribling DD867
USS Brownson DD868
USS Newman K. Perry DD883
USS Orleck DD886
USS Forrest Sherman DD931
USS Barry DD933
USS Bigelow DD942
USS Radford DD968
USS Peterson DD969
USS Caron DD970
USS Briscoe DD977
USS Connolly DD979
USS John Rodger DD983
USS Thorn DD988
USS Lawrence DDG-4
USS Claude Ricketts DDG-5
USS Barney DDG-6
USS Sampson DDG-10
USS Sellers DDG-11
USS Farragut DDG-37
USS Luce DDG-38
USS Macdonough DDG-39
USS Dahlgren DDG-43

And that’s just the destroyers, the group says they have another list of auxiliaries and cruisers they have been able to salvage gear from.

There may very well be a couple Garands afloat in the Navy until 2067

In watching the footage and imagery coming from the commissioning of the largest aircraft carrier ever built, the brand new USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) on Saturday, the below struck me as a great image.

NORFOLK, Va. (July 22, 2017) — USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) color guard member Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Miguel Monduy departs the hangar bay after retiring colors during Ford’s commissioning ceremony. Ford is the lead ship of the Ford-class aircraft carriers, and the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)

LS3 Monduy’s rifle, of course, is a U.S. rifle, caliber .30, M1, best just known as a Garand. The rifles, though officially withdrawn in the 1970s, are still floating around for ceremonial use and in this case has been chromed, but as Ford has an expected lifespan of 50+ years, these shiny M1s could be aboard her for some time.

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