Category Archives: weapons

Used F-4 Phantom, Half Off!

Via Platinum Fighter Sales, not a joke:

“Price Slashed. 1959 McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II. Restoration is 80-85% complete. The airframe has undergone a complete IRAN per U.S. Navy standards. Everything has been overhauled to 0-time condition. Needs engines overhauled, avionics, and ejection seats. Was $2,950,000. Now asking $1,500,000. Trades considered.”

F4H-1F BuNo 145310 was one of the first dozen pre-production Phantoms

History of the aircraft:

F4H-1F BuNo 145310 was delivered to the Navy in 1959 and was the 11th pre-production aircraft built. 1961 was a memorable year for the jet. On 22nd April 1961, it carried a very impressive 22 Mk83 500lb bombs on various hardpoints under the aircraft and dropped them on a range at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This demonstration was the deciding factor for the United States Air Force to also order the aircraft.

In August 1961, 145310 was one of three F4H-1F Phantom II’s used by the U.S. Navy to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of U.S. Naval Aviation. 

Later, during a weapons test, 145310 had part of the undercarriage door and pylon were burnt by a Sidewinder missile and later that year, the aircraft suffered an engine failure. Thankfully landing safely. The aircraft last saw use in September 1964 when the Navy retired their test aircraft. It had completed 461 hours.

Never demilled, 145310 has been under restoration to airworthy condition for the past 10 years by Aircraft Restoration Services LLC at the French Valley Airport, CA. It is being offered for sale “As Is, Where Is.”

Taurus goes TORO with the GX4

Taurus’ micro-compact 9mm just got a little better as the company on Friday announced a new optics-ready TORO model addition to the line.

The increasingly American-based company debuted its new micro pistol in May with an 11+1/13+1 capacity and a sub-$400 asking price. This made the gun– which I found dependable in testing— a budget competitor against similarly-sized contemporaries such as the Sig P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat, with about the only rock that could be thrown against it is the fact that it did not come with a slide cut to support popular micro-red dot carry optics.

Well, that has now changed as the new Taurus GX4 TORO series has a factory cut and mounting pattern that supports Hex Wasp GE5077, Holosun HS507K/HS407K, Riton 3 Tactix MPRD2, Trijicon RMR, Shield RMSc, Sig RomeoZero, and Sightmark Mini Shot A-Spec M3 sights.

At an asking price of $468.

Thus…

More in my column at Guns.com.

Because some folks just want belt feds, man

Folks have been making semi-auto belt-fed machine gun clones for years. Why? Well, I guess, why not, right?

I mean, if you always wanted, say, an M1919, M60, or M249 but live in a state where it is unlawful for a “civilian” to own such hardware– even if it is transferrable and you pay the average $30K going rate for it– or just don’t want to jump through the NFA hoops, which can leave your family in an odd legal space should you pass without having it in a trust, these semi-autos make a certain sense.

These days, FN sells the M249S, a semi-automatic version of the SAW light machine gun, for $8,499.

Plus, if you are really into historical reenacting, such a piece can instantly catapult the user into a key player at the next event. For instance, I have a buddy that does WWII living history at Fort Morgan/Gaines/Battleship Alabama and has a fairly correct firing NFA-compliant MG42/M53 that always gets lots of attention.

Along that vein, Ohio Ordnance Works– a company that makes full-up M2 .50 cals for Mil/Gov customers as well as the semi-auto M1918A3 BAR for the rest of us– now has a “no stamps required” Ma Deuce, the M2 SLR .50 cal.

“Starting to ship on Dec 7th, 2021… what the people want, the people get!” says OOW. (Photo: OOW)

More in my column at Guns.com.

Government Issue, 100 Years Ago Today

“Regulation Army .45 Colt and its effect on bulletproof glass used in the new armored postal trucks which it is proposed to put into use as a further protection of valuable mails,” December 1, 1921.

Via The Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection. LC-F8-16987

The destructive tester seems to be a Marine, which tracks because the same year this image was taken, President Warren G. Harding sent 2,200 Marines to guard mail delivery across the nation in the wake of a spate of high-profile robberies.

Note the trench guns and M1911s

How about that early M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle? Also, it must have been odd to be on armed details with neckties and campaign hats.

The Devils were tasked with riding shotgun over high priority certified mail, which included cash and negotiable bonds. Reportedly, in the five years that the Marines were on guard, not one robbery on an escorted shipment was attempted.

Philippines flexing over demands they unreef their ancient LST

We’ve talked in the past about the 2,000-tons of tetanus shots that is the mighty BRP Sierra Madre (L-57), formerly the ex-USS Harnett County LST-821, which has been grounded on Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Reef) in the South China Sea since 1999, serving as a forward base for a squad-sized group of PI Marines and a Navy radioman. The move came as a counterstroke to China’s controversial, and likely unlawful, armed occupation of Mischief Reef— barely 200 kilometers from the Philippine island of Palawan– in 1995.

Well, in recent weeks, the Chinese have aggressively prevented resupply and rotation of the guard force on the Sierra Madre, warning off civilian vessels approaching the condemned LST with water cannons.

Finally, on 22 November, two civilian boats, Unaizah May 1 and Unaizah May 3, were able to tie up next to the Sierra Madre and unload, while a Chinese coast guard ship in the vicinity sent a RIB with three persons to closely shadow the effort, taking photos and videos, acts the Philipines described as “a form of intimidation and harassment.”

To this, China says Ayungin Shoal is “part of China’s Nansha Qundao (Spratly Islands)” and has told the PI to quit the reef and scrap the rusty outpost.

From Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana on China’s demand to remove BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal:

Ayungin Shoal lies within our EEZ where we have sovereign rights. Our EEZ was awarded to us by the 1982 UNCLOS which China ratified. China should abide by its international obligations that it is part of. 

Furthermore, the 2016 Arbitral award ruled that the territorial claim of China has no historic nor legal basis. Ergo, we can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing.

With that, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, on Monday said that his leadership would ensure better living conditions of the troops manning the BRP Sierra Madre, refurbishing the vessel in place as a permanent government post. 

Mic drop.

Christmas at Sea: 1942 Convoy Edition

Official caption: “Somewhere on the storm-tossed Atlantic aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter crossing the shipping lanes guarding a convoy of supplies to America’s fighting men on the far-flung battlefronts. Christmas is the same as any other day to the vigilant men of the Coast Guard who seek out the enemy submarines attempting to molest the continual bridge of ships supplying our men across the seas.” Photo released 11/25/1942.

Note the loaded K-gun, stern depth charge racks, liferafts at the ready to snag floating survivors, and the O1 Division guys trying to stay out of the wash. USCG photo. NARA 26-G-11-25-42(5)

Seagoing East Coast-based cutters were assigned to augment the Navy’s Neutrality Patrol in September 1939 and, by November 1941, the entire branch was transferred to the Navy in toto. While squadrons of brand-new U.S. Navy patrol frigates and destroyer escorts were crewed by Coasties later in the war, in 1942 the USCG had six of seven 327-foot Treasury-class cutters, four 240-foot Tampa-class cutters, the 216-foot USCGC Northland, and 12 165-foot Thetis/Argo class cutters operating in the EASTSEAFRON and North Atlantic.

One, USCGC Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34) was sunk on 29 January1942 by U-132 while patrolling the Icelandic coast. However, the service quickly avenged her death as USCGC Icarus (WPC-110) bagged U-352 off North Carolina’s “Torpedo Junction” in May while sistership USCGC Thetis (WPC-115) depth charged U-157 to the bottom of the Florida Straits in June.

70 Years Ago today: King of Battle!

A pair of 155mm Gun Motor Carriage, M40 (T83) “Long Toms” of Baker Battery, 937th Field Artillery Battalion, providing fire support to U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division, Munema, Korea, 26 November 1951.

Tracing its lineage to the 1st Regiment, Arkansas State Guards, in 1897– which was reformed as the 2nd Arkansas Volunteer Infantry during the SpanAm War (but never made it further south than Alabama) then simply as the 2nd Arkansas Infantry to guard the Southern border against Pancho Villa in 1916– they traded their blue hat cords for red when they were redesignated the 142nd Field Artillery Regiment to go fight the Kaiser. Assigned to the 39th Infantry (Delta) Division, they left for France in the summer of 1918 with their tractor-drawn 155 mm GPF howitzers, but were certified too late to “see the elephant.”

Demobilized and sent back to Arkansas, the 142nd was recalled to active federal service on 6 January 1941. Reformed as the 142nd Field Artillery Group with two additional battalions– the 936th and 937th– which landed in Italy in November 1943, participating in the drive across the Rapido River and the liberation of Rom, then the 937th was sent to land in France during the Dragoon operation, fighting its way to the Rhineland. In all, the 937th fired over 200,000 155mm shells during WWII.

Returning home after the VE Day, the 937th had its HQ based at Fort Smith while its three gun batteries and support elements were at Mena, Paris, and Ozark.

In response to the Korean War, both the 936th and 937th were mobilized 2 August 1950 and the latter was sent to Fort Hood for training, arriving in Korea in time to fire its first combat mission 3 April 1951.

As noted by Arkansas Army and Air National Guard, a History and Record of Events, 1820–1962

The battalion went into line with the I Corps on 30 April near Uijongbu, Korea. During the Chinese Spring Drive, the battalion fell back to Seoul and was moved to IX Corps. Battery A continued with X Corps and was attached to the 1st Marine Division. On 17 May 1952 the battalion was attached to 2nd Infantry Division, IX Corps. For the action with 2nd Division, Battery C and Headquarters Battery received the Distinguished Unit Citation. The battalion continued in general support to IX Corps from 28 July 1953 until 9 October 1954.

Cyd Charisse in Korea. Charlie Battery gun, 937th. Other guns in C Battery in Korea included Cactus Country, Charming Cynthia, Constance Cummings, and Courageous Confederate. See the theme?

Charming Cynthia, Charlie Battery gun, 937th, Arkansas NG (25th ID)

Able battery gun.

M40 155mm Long Toms Charlie Battery 937th FA bn Korea May June 1951

The battalion was awarded battle streamers for the following campaigns: First U.N. Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea, Summer-Fall 1952; Third Korean Winter and Korea, Summer 1953. The 937th fired 223,400 combat rounds in Korea and suffered thirteen killed in action and 156 wounded in action. The battalion was inactivated on 26 November 1954.

Following the conflict, the 936th and 937th were simplified as the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 142nd Field Artillery, using towed 155s, before upgrading to 8-inchers in the 1970s.

2nd Bn/142nd FA, formerly the 937th of WWII and Korean War fame, deployed overseas during Desert Storm as one of the last units with the big 8-inch M110A2 howitzer, in notable Arkansas fashion.

Howitzer Section Number 1, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery, Arkansas Army National Guard, Operation Desert Storm, Crew Members SSG Robert Sampley, Jackie Hickey, Stanley Henson, JR Rankin, Earl Duty

Today, “The most combat-ready unit in Arkansas” is still around, having switched to M109s in 1994.

An M109A6 Paladin howitzer of Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, fires a round during a fire mission at the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center near Barling, Arkansas, May 14. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Stephen M. Wright) 05.12.2019

There is at least one “Long Tom” still in the 142nd inventory.

This M40 155mm howitzer served Alpha battery 937th FA in Korea in 1951 during the Korean War. This gun A-7 is out front of the Nations National Guard Armory in Mena, Arkansas.

107 Years Ago Today: Winchester Goes ‘Over There’

24 November 1914: the draft document between Winchester and the British government is knocked out for 200,000 “Cal. 303 Enfield rifles with sword bayonet and scabbard” at a cost of $32.50 each, FOB to the docks in New York.

The P14 Enfield contract draft document, via Winchester

Winchester ultimately produced 250,000 Enfield Pattern Number 14 (P14) bolt-action rifles for the British Army in caliber .303 at roughly the same time its factories cranked out 300,000 Model 1895 Muskets in 7.62x54R for the Tsarist Imperial Russian Army.

By April 1917, Winchester was cranking out over 2,000 P14s a day without breaking a sweat, although the contract for the Brits was winding down. Keep in mind that at the same time, the entire U.S. production capacity of the M1903 model .30-06 rifle was just a maximum of 1,400 per day (1,000 at Springfield Armory and 400 at Rock Island Armory).

It was a no-brainer that Winchester was soon building the modified U.S. Rifle, caliber .30 M1917, essentially a P14 chambered in .30-06, dubbed by factory workers (incorrectly) as the P17. The first Winchester M1917 came off the assembly line in August 1917. Winchester finally ceased production in April of 1919, at which point they had produced 580,000 rifles for Uncle Sam. Even a century later, some of these rifles remain in the U.S. Army’s inventory, loaned out  to assorted Veterans groups such as the VFW and American Legion where they are used for honor guard services.

Added together between the British and Russian contracts, without even mentioning the assorted contracts with Britian, France, Russia, and the U.S, for 3,400~ Winchester Model 1907 semi-autos in .351SL, and Winny produced an easy 1 million rifles for the push against the Kaiser.

The British kept the P-14 Rifles in their inventory until the end of WWII, although re-designated as the Rifle No. 3 Mark I* in 1926. The asterisk indicates a 1916 modification to the P-14s slightly lengthening the left locking lug.

P14 was renamed the ‘Rifle, No.3’ in 1926, via the Royal Armouries

The British utilized several models as sniper weapons throughout their service life due to their extreme accuracy compared to their SMLE Rifles.

Pte. John Michaud sniper from Quebec P14 target sights coveralls for training 1945. LAC MIKAN 4232750, original Kodachrome

You get an optics cut! You get an optics cut! Everyone gets an optics cut!

Smith & Wesson continues with the industry-wide trend towards carry optics by adding new M&P9 M2.0 variants with factory MRD cuts.

The two new pistol variants– the full-sized and Compact M&P9 M2.0– ship complete with Smith’s C.O.R.E. system of seven mounting plates, allowing the user to mount a wide variety of popular micro red dot optics. Tall optics/suppressor-height three-dot sights co-witness through MRDs. A further upgrade is the company’s new M2.0 flat face trigger, a design that S&W says optimizes trigger finger positioning and delivers consistency for more accurate shot placement.

Which has to be a good thing, right?

More in my column at Guns.com.

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