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The forgotten 50 year insurgency in West Papua

Called the province of Papua Barat by Indonesia, who annexed the region from the Dutch in 1963 as a part of the New York Agreement that got Holland out of their East Indies colony for good, many locals in West Papua would rather just see their independence as a free state. Over the past 50 years, there have been a variety of efforts both by domestic groups and idealistic would-be freedom fighters from abroad to pry West Papua away from Jakarta, all with little success.

Today, a contentious highway project has reignited a smoldering conflict, reports Australian media, and clashes between Free Papuan groups and Indonesian security forces are mounting, while an internet blackout and media dead zone keep the war under wraps.

“We will kill, we will fight,” says Sebby Sambom, a Papua New Guinea-based spokesman for the armed independence movement. “We will continue to fight — no compromise.”

West Papuan separatists armed with a variety of weapons including M3 Grease Guns possibly left behind from the Dutch Indies War of the 1940s, an Italian BM59, an FN  Minimi light machine gun (with the jam-a-matic magazine installed) and several Pindad rifles, a clone of the FN FNC. The Minimi and Pindad are surely former Indonesian military weapons under new management. 

More here.

Dug relics, still potent

As a tie-in with the 50-year long West Papuan rebellion post today, the below image is of rag-tag Bougainville Revolutionary Army insurgents using some heavy hardware against local Papua New Guinea Defence Force units in 1995 during that country’s decade-long civil war.

Those with a sharp eye will notice the ordnance is a Japanese Type 96 AAA/AT 25mm cannon, a variant of the Hotchkiss 25mm GP gun that hasn’t had any spare parts or ammunition manufactured since 1945.

This thing, with a latter example shown still in use by the KMT in 1950s Taiwan

Leftover from WWII, the gun was reportedly scrounged from the remains of an old Japanese position and returned to working condition, fed with ammo that was in some cases dug from the jungles and beaches of yesteryear. While antiquated and no doubt cranky, it was still heavier than what the PNGDF had in terms of armored vehicles to oppose it, which amounted to some French AMX-10P APCs and French VABs.

HK & Howa team up to take on Godzilla, or China, whichever comes first

The Japanese military on Monday released the details of their first new small arms since the 1980s: a new Howa modular rifle and a variant of the Heckler Koch VP9.

The Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, the country’s army, debuted what will be termed the Type 20 5.56 rifle and the SPF 9mm pistol in future use.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Tiger’s Everyday Carry Pocket Gun

Here we see a .32 ACP Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless self-loading pistol carried by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, CB, GCMG, KBE, DSO. The S/N (377681) dates to 1921 production.

UK National Army Museum NAM. 1998-01-118-2

Dubbed  “The Smiling Tiger,” Sir Gerald commanded infantry and armored divisions, as well as the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive, during the WWII and later went on to lead British forces during the Malayan Emergency, one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Western powers during the Cold War.

He was also something of a gun buff.

General Sir Gerald Templer (left) testing a .45 inch De Lisle bolt action silenced carbine during a visit to 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders, Perak, 1952. He may very well have a Colt in his pocket. 

The signed 1954 card in the pistol’s case reads:

“The .32 Colt revolver and ammunition, in this case, was one of about 20 purchased by me when I was GSO I (1(b)) at GHQ, BEF. It was necessary for some of my officers to/ have a small automatic in their pockets on a good many occasions. I carried this one throughout the War, and when I was High Commissioner and Director of Operations in Malaya it never left my side. It was under my pillow every night whilst I was in country, ready and cocked.”

Sir Gerald died in 1979, aged 81.

Give em that old (50cal) Razzle Dazzle

In early 2003, Kenesaw, Georgia-based Cobb Manufacturing teased the market with a rifle, dubbed at the time as the Model 50A1, that used an AR-15 type gas operating system to shoot the 50 BMG round.

Cobb’s circa 2003 Model 50A1. Mmmm smells like prototype!

By that Fall, the gun had morphed to a bolt-action as the Cobb FA50(T) that kept many AR-style features.

Put into limited production, the final version of the gun produced by Cobb was the $7,000 BA50 which, as noted by the company in early 2007, was on the cover of tactical mags and in service with both law enforcement customers and “U.S. allies overseas.”

In August 2007, Bushmaster purchased Cobb and moved the company’s plant from Georgia to Maine and two years later the company put the upgraded BA50 into their catalog in both a rifle and carbine variant.

A rarely-seen carbine version of the Bushmaster BA50, with a factory 22-inch barrel. That’s a whole lotta .50 cal. These retailed typically from anywhere between $3299 and $5499.

Last week, in the sense of “Everything old is new again,” Remington, who has owned Bushmaster’s portfolio for years, introduced the R2Mi rifle, which seems to be a BA-50, except in green, and for a slightly lower price than the Bushmaster topped out at.

It seems like I saw this somewhere before…

More in my column at Guns.com

Meet FN’s smallest pistol in 40 years

Once upon a time, Fabrique Nationale was known for making the smallest, most compact handguns on the market. These included John Browning’s Mle 1900, Mle 1906 Vest Pocket (which predated his Vest Pocket for Colt by two years), Mle 1910, and the Browning Baby.

Fast forward to the 1980s and all of those classic designs were put to bed.

To fill this hole in their catalog in recent years, full-size polymer-framed double-stacks like the FNS and FN 509 have been chopped down to more compact designs, but they were still pretty chonky compared to Mr. Browning’s early guns.

Well, earlier this year FN launched the FN 503, a slim, 6+1 shot single-stack 9mm that is the company’s smallest handgun in generations.

Well hello there…

Separated by 110 years, today’s FN 503 compares well in size to Mr. Browning’s FN 1910 but comes in 9mm rather than .380 and has much better ergonomics and sights.

I’ve been playing around with it for the past couple of months, and have the details in my column at Guns.com.

Flying yesterday’s Hornet, today

The Blues have been tearing it up across the country lately, making up scheduled hours canceled along with this summer’s air shows by performing with the Thunderbirds over the nation’s urban centers in a salute to healthcare workers.

For instance, over Chicago this week:

They have never looked better, you could argue, and thousands who haven’t seen them in action before are now getting a chance, which is no doubt good for recruiting efforts– one of the primary reasons demonstration programs exist.

HOUSTON (May 6, 2020) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, fly over Houston, Texas, May 6, 2020. The flyover was part of America Strong; a collaborative salute from the Navy and Air Force to recognize healthcare workers, first responders, military, and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Hendrix/Released)

However, most folks don’t realize just how old these birds are. Like Desert Storm/32 years on the airframe old.

The closest Hornet above, BuNo 163435, is an early Lot 10 F/A-18C— the first block that saw the Charlie birds introduced– produced in 1988. It formerly flew in the Fleet with the Sunliners of VFA-81 on a number of deployments including during Desert Storm where the squadron downed a pair of Saddam’s MiG-21s.

A Sundowners’ Lot 10 F-18C, BuNo 163471, then assigned to Carrier Air Wing One Seven (CVW -17), climbs to an assigned altitude after completing a catapult launch from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in 2002. The squadron shifted to Rhinos in 2006, leaving their well-used Charle Hornets to go to the Marines and the Blues. This particular Hornet, while flying with the Sharpshooters of VMFAT-101, crashed following hydraulic problem 3 miles east of MCAS Miramar, in 2006. (U.S. Navy photo by Captain Dana Potts.)

Besides the above instance, the Blues operate several other aircraft from the same lot, including BuNo 163442, 163464, and 163468. They are slated to upgrade to F-18E/Fs next year, at which point the F-18C/D will only be operated by the Marines, long used to being the last to fly a NAVAIR asset.

Outside of the Blues, the alumni aircraft are commonly only seen on static display. For reference, several other Lot 10s have been relegated to museum pieces for years, with BuNo 163437 as a gate guard at Norfolk, 163498 on display at Naval Reserve Station Smyrna, and 163502 on the grounds of the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola.

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