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Lead up to D-Day

The 75th Anniversary of D-Day is under a month away. Here we see a beautiful Kodachrome original color image depicting posed North European Invasion Rehearsals sometime either in late 1943, or early 1944:

NARA 80-G-K-13347

Here a Beachmaster uses an SCR-536 handie-talkie/walkie-talkie to maintain contact with other sections of his battalion during exercises on the English Coast. Other communications men, in the background, stand ready to use the signal lamp and semaphore flags.

Note man digging foxhole as another stands by with an M1 Thompson Submachine Gun.

Poking around the Collector’s Corner

Part of what I love about the annual NRA meetings is the almost hidden corner of the exhibit floor open to collector groups from across the country. Some of the pieces are so rare its doubtful you would see them repeated in a museum.

How about this pre-NFA Colt Military Model with combination holster stock?

Or this one presented to Adm. Charles O’Neil, head of the Bu Ord?

Just Napoleon III’s matching set of London Colt 1851s

A W.G. Armstrong British Gatling Gun.

More in my column at Guns.com

 

Remembering Hartlepool

On 16 December 1914, German RADM Franz von Hipper led his squadron consisting of the battlecruisers SMS Seydlitz, Von der Tann, Moltke and Derfflinger, the armored cruiser SMS Blücher, light cruisers SMS Strassburg, Graudenz, Kolberg and Stralsund; and 18 destroyers to the English coast. There, he bombarded the ports of Scarborough, Hartlepool, and Whitby, causing nearly 600 casualties. Some 1,150 shells were fired into Hartlepool alone, producing the first British military death on British soil in some 200 years.

An alarm clock with a piece of German shell embedded in the dial, destroyed by the German naval raid on Hartlepool, UK, on the morning of 16 December 1914.

In 1999, locals in Hartlepool established the Heugh Battery Museum as the only WWI battlefield in the UK. Today, it needs $5,000 to stay afloat and only has half that amount.

More here.

Kampfflugzeug Phantom

The West German Luftwaffe began ordering the big F-4 Phantom II, with its twin smoky J79 engines, back in 1969 when it placed orders for the unarmed RF-4E recon variant. This was later expanded under the Peace Rhine program to include the very much armed F-4F from 1973 onward.

The below throwback film shows them in use in a Med exercise, flying from a NATO base in Sardinia in 1975.

In all, the Germans acquired over 200 R4/F-4s and kept the aircraft in front line service until 2013, logging more than 280,000 hours on the type, making the Luftwaffe one of the last Phantom Phlyers.

The below, from 2011, shows the type in service after 40 years, with Jagdgeschwader 71 Richthofen.

More on the Mini Mosin

So I just love this rifle:

Keystone in Pennsylvania is best known for their Crickett (“My first rifle”) series of single-shot 3-pound bolt-action .22LR trainers and they are taking that proven action, giving it a 20-inch barrel, and putting it in a thin walnut stock with a short length of pull to produce these Mini Mosins.

Still a single shot with no bayonet lug, company reps say they hope the mini milsurp will make kids more interested in old surplus rifles. They plan a whole series of these guns to include shrunken Mausers, Arisakas, MAS36s, and Springfield M1903A3s.

More in my column at Guns.com

VE-Day, Russian style

This week saw the huge annual parade on May 8, across more than 30 Russian cities, to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe. Termed Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War rather than VE-Day in WWII, the Russians/Soviets have long gone majestic on the great celebration. After all, the country lost over 20 million during the conflict.

On display was lots of old gear.

Dig the SKS-45s, which were manufactured between 1950 and 54. These have been given blonde ceremonial stocks, chromed bayonets, and white leather slings. Note the dog-collar style cinches around the pistol grip

As well as lots of new gear.

The new AK-12/15/200 series were on hand, which takes the 5.45x39mm AK74M and slathers it with rails and a more M4-style adjustable stock. Note the EoTech style day optics and grenade launchers. The Russians just ordered 150K of these from Kalashnikov.

The break down in my column at Guns.com.

Aegis Icebreakers?

More info on the new class of three planned Coast Guard Polar Security Cutters has bubbled up.

In short, they will be big boys, at 460-feet long and 33,000-tons. For reference, the Coast Guard’s current 50-year-old icebreaker, USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10), is 399-feet long and weighs in at comparatively paltry 13,800-tons.

However, the Polar Sea is a bruiser, packing 75,000 shaft horsepower in her CODAG plant. This allows her to crush up to 21 feet of ice by backing and ramming and cruise through 6-feet of pack at a continuous 3 knots. According to a statement released this week, the new PSC’s will have 42,500 shp but will still meet an 8-foot mark on ice-busting.

Hmmm.

Of note, the Coast Guard’s single medium icebreaker, the 11,000-ton Healy can crack ice up to 10 feet thick.

More from VTH in Moss Point:

As you can see, the design is based on Finnish and German tech that is being used on the (under construction) German research breaker Polarstern II, which is about the same size.

The plan for Polarstern II is a good starting point as that ship includes:

-Maximum 130 persons on board.
-44 person crew living in single and double rooms.
-Normal cruises up to 60 scientists.
-Safety equipment (lifeboats) on each side 100%.
-80 places for 20” Containers (laboratories and storage).
-Seakeeping stabilizer suitable for the transit cruises and station operation.
-Helicopter Deck and Hangar for 2-3 Helicopters.

In short, these big breakers, larger than the planned German ship, could potentially carry a light company-sized landing force with a couple of helicopters.

Currently, the USCG’s cutters just carry a small arms locker with the capability to mount a couple of M2 .50-cals if absolutely needed. The penguins and polar bears have not put up much of a fight in recent years.

That could be changing.

Changes from the design to make the Coast Guard’s new vessel capable of fighting are still being decided. However, according to the USNI, “The ship’s combat system will be derived from the Aegis Combat System, and the Coast Guard is still mulling over the weapons loadout, [USCG Adm.] Schultz told reporters on Wednesday.”

In 2017, Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft said the new icebreakers would be fully weaponized to include canister launched anti-ship missiles.

This was repeated in 2018 when he said:

“We need to look differently at what an icebreaker does… We need to reserve space, weight, and power if we need to strap a cruise missile package on it… U.S. presence in the Arctic is necessary for more than just power projection; it’s a matter of national security… If they remain unchecked, the Russians will extend their sphere of influence to over five million square miles of Arctic ice and water.”

Things could get interesting.

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