Browning has announced that John Browning’s final handgun design, a pistol that at one time armed most of the militaries in the Free World, has been discontinued.
In a notice posted on their website, the company advised that “although it is possible to still find a few Hi-Power pistols at dealers across the U.S., the Hi-Power is technically out of production. Current dealer inventories will be the last available from Browning for the foreseeable future.”
The gun was a classic of the 20th Century and I have had several pass through my hands over the years.
The BHP is literally a work of art.
RIA has a set of matching, though mismatched, Colt London Navys up for grab this week.
While Colt’s Hartford, Connecticut factory made the bulk of the company’s wheelguns in the mid-19th Century, production also occurred in England, to a smaller scale. Colt London made something like 40,000 Model 1851 Navy pattern revolvers in three different series at their armory near Vauxhall Bridge before production halted in the 1870s, with about a quarter of those being sold to the British military.
The above set, produced in 1855, are classic second series guns with 7.5-inch octagon barrels on iron frames with a distinctive large round trigger guard. However, at some point very early in their life, the guns had the cylinders swapped and, as one is well-worn while the other spent comparatively more of its life in storage, the long-ago change apparently stuck.
C’est la vie
“A Sniper is Near, and the Man Pointing has Located Him, Directing the Sharpshooter to his Whereabouts,” by Marine combat artist Harry Reeks (1921-1982). Via Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.
Description: A Marine sharpshooter stands in profile with a rifle in hand, as another Marine points in front of them. The background of the image is left blank.
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, Feb. 14, 2018: Late 19th Century tech ‘Without Equal’
Here we see the Victoria-class ironclad turret-type battleship HMS Sans Pareil taking a break from reserve fleet layup– where she spent most of her short life– to participate in the fleet review held at Spithead on 16 August 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII. She was the last ship in the Royal Navy to carry the moniker and, when designed in 1885, had several innovative features that made her invincible on the water, or so it seemed.
The two-ship Victoria class were built by the British to fix perceived shortcomings in the preceding six-pack of Admiral-class battleships (10,600 t., 330-feet oa, 4×12″ guns, 16kts on compound engines, up to 18 inches of armor belt) and produced a much more modern ship.
The Victoria and Sans Pareil were only slightly larger (340-feet) but were the first RN capital ships to use 3-cyl Humphreys triple expansion steam engines powered by 8 cylindrical boilers which offset a thicker overall compound armor package (406mm at its *thinnest* backed by 178mm of wood planks) while still enabling speeds of 16+ knots. With coal bunkerage of 1,200 tons, they could steam an impressive 7,000nm at 10kts, making them capable of showing the Royal colors around the colonies as needed. Designed for 12,000 ihp, they produced over 14K and were considered very successful, able to make 17~ knots, when the sea allowed.
This speed and bulk was weaponized in an impressive pointed bow ram, seen as a valid tactic following the confusing Battle of Lissa in 1866.
However, the biggest departure from the previous designs was in the Victoria‘s twin 16.25″/30 (41.2 cm) Mark I “Elswick 111 ton” guns, some of the largest diameter breechloading guns every mounted. They fired a 1,800-pound shell thrown by a 960-pound black powder SBC charge and were just massive guns, even if they were slow to load (three minutes per shell) and prone to such unsavory teething problems as buckling the deck around them when they fired. Oof.
If “Sans Pareil” sounds an unusual name for the RN, the Brits got it honest when they captured the brand-new 80-gun French Tonnant-class ship of the line, Sans Pareil (Without Equal), at the pitched 1794 battle of the Glorious First of June. Though she was mauled and half her crew killed, the Brits towed their trophy into Spithead, mopped the blood off, fixed her back up, and, without even a name change, she became the bane of French privateers and man-o-wars alike for a decade, used as the flagship of both Admirals Lord Hugh Seymour and Richard Montague.
To commemorate the former French warship, which was broken up in 1842, a newbuilt screw-driven 81-gun second-rate was commissioned with the same name in 1851 and went on to fight the Russians in the Baltic during the Crimean affair and expand the Empire in China during the Opium Wars. Our very model of a modern major battleship Sans Pareil was the third such vessel to bear the name for the Crown. She was laid down at the Thames Iron Works, Blackwall, on 21 April 1885, ironically two days before class-leader Victoria, which was built at Armstrong in Elswick.
Launched on a sunny day in May 1887, Sans Pareil was floated out into the Thames to great fanfare.
Sans Pareil was completed in July 1891 and taken into the fleet and was sent to the Med where tensions were on the rise to join her sister in a bit of gunboat diplomacy.
However, the ships, while benefitting from a forward-looking engineering suite, had a very low freeboard and were known as being very “wet” when underway, giving them the nickname of “slippers” as the whole bow tended to slip under the waves when moving forward. This, coupled with developments that made them increasingly obsolete, marginalized the two might new warships.
Then came a disaster.
The brand-new class leader Victoria, while serving as flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, was lost during maneuvers off Tripoli because of a collision with battleship Camperdown.
The low freeboard contributing to her sinking within 15 minutes, with half of her crew trapped below as she slipped below the waves a final time. In all, 359 men died that day in one of the worst peacetime accidents in British military history.
She is noted as being perhaps the world’s largest known vertical wreck
And that was pretty much that. Sans Pareil was moved back to home waters from the Med after serving with the fleet for only a couple of years and by April 1895 she was paid off.
After a decade of service in the reserve fleet and as a guardship in shallow water, she was quietly sold for scrap in 1907, and her name never issued again.
Displacement: 10,470 tons
Length: 370 ft
Beam: 70 ft
Draught: 26 ft 9 in
Humphreys & Tennant triple expansion engines 2 shafts
8,000 ihp natural draught
14,482 ihp forced draught
Coal: 1200t. 7,000nm @10
16 knots (30 km/h) natural draught
17.75 knots (32.87 km/h) forced draught
Complement: 430-550 designed, over 700 in practice
2 × BL 16.25-inch 413/30 Mk I guns, forward turret, 208 rounds in the magazine
1 × BL 10-inch 254/32 Mk II gun, rear
12 × BL 6-inch 152/26 BL Mk IV/VI guns
12 × 6-pounder Hotchkiss Mk I singles
6 × 14-inch torpedo tubes, bow, aft and abeam.
Belt, Redoubt: 18 in
Bulkheads: 16 in
Turrets: 17 in
Forward screen to battery: 6 in (15 cm)
After screen to battery: 3 in (7.6 cm)
Conning Tower: 14 in (36 cm) (sides), 2 in (5.1 cm) (top)
Deck: 3 in (7.6 cm)
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The Brits love CH-47s (“wocca-wocca” in Tommie parlance) for expeditionary operations, and it is well-remembered that a single aircraft proved decisive in the Falklands in 1982.
With their new supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth lacking her F-35B air wing for a while, they can at least try fitting some of the huge Chinooks aboard– and they did!
From the RN Navy News:
For the first time ever a giant RAF Chinook helicopter has been stowed in the hangar of a British aircraft carrier.
With the nose protruding over the edge of one of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s two mighty aircraft lifts, the 99ft-long helicopter from RAF 7 Squadron was moved from the flight to the hangar deck.
So large are the lifts and hangar spaces on the new Portsmouth-based warship that there’s no need even to fold the rotors.
There ZH902 – a special trials variant of the Chinook – was joined by a second wocca-wocca, and two Merlins, all from the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC) at MOD Boscombe Down, and a couple of Merlin Mk2s from 820 Naval Air Squadron.
All six helicopters are onboard Queen Elizabeth for trials, finding out what the operating parameters are of the airframes flying from the carrier at sea.
They were transferred to the hangar in advance of rough weather as the 65,000-tonne warship – the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy – made her way towards Gibraltar, keeping the helicopters out of harm’s way of the elements.
The painstaking process to bring the Chinooks in for the very first time took almost two hours, with the nosecone hanging precariously over the aircraft lift (powerful enough to raise or lower two F-35B Lightning II jets or half the 700-strong ship’s company). With practice it will take a fraction of that time.
“Even though HMS Queen Elizabeth is the biggest ship the Royal Navy has operated, she still moves around in the seas especially with the swell and winds in the infamous Bay of Biscay,” explained Cdr David Scopes, head of the carrier’s air engineering department.
The U.S. could see an end to a 58-year medal drought in the international sport that blends cross-country skiing and target shooting
The sport, which evolved from the Nordic military patrol, debuted in the 1960 Winter Olympics and, while the U.S. has doggedly sent teams to compete at every installment of the international games since then, they have never brought home a medal. However, with an experienced 10-member team tapped to represent the Red, White, and Blue, the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea could make history.
In 2015, Russian state media detailed that aircrew operating in Syria were carrying AK pattern rifles, and Stechkin APS machine pistols with several 20-round magazines to use should they have to eject.
Well it looks like one got a bit of use last week when the pilot of a shot down Russian Aerospace Force Su-25SM attack aircraft, when cornered by insurgents reportedly resorted to his personal weapons and was not taken alive.
Among the items reportedly recovered from the downed pilot was a 9x18mm Stechkin APS pistol with three partially loaded mags, one of which appears empty.
More in my column at Guns.com.