Migs swimming with Hornets and Tomcats

Off Pula, Croatia, 2002 — An F-14 Tomcat fighter assigned to the Jolly Rogers of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) leads a formation comprised of F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters from the Blue Blasters of VFA-34, the Sunliners of VFA-81, and the Rampagers of VFA-83:

U.S. Navy photograph 021029-N-1955P-020 by CAPT Dana Potts. (RELEASED)

More on the photo:

“U.S. aircraft belong to Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17), currently embarked on board. Two Croat MiG-21 Fishbed fighter-interceptors flank the each side of the formation. U.S. Navy aviation squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) have sent a detachment to Croatia in order to participate in Joint Wings 2002. Joint Wings is a multinational exercise between the U.S. and the Croat Air Force designed to practice intelligence gathering. George Washington is homeported in Norfolk, Va., and is nearing the end of a scheduled six month deployment after completing combat missions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch.”

My thoughts on fooling around with the Glock 19X for three months…

So in December 2017, Glock snuck me an early production model of the 19X “crossover” to test and evaluate. Now, after carrying it around the house and about town, at SHOT Show and in weather that ranged from snow and ice to desert and saltwater marsh, taking time out to fire 2,000 mixed rounds in six range sessions and not cleaning it, I have to say, it has rather grown on me over the past few months.

The full review in my column at Guns.com.

A look at Spooky

In the developmental process of the modern USAF airborne gunship, the AC-47D was very special.

She mounted a trio of MXU-470A modules portside each with a 7.62x51mm GAU-2B A (M134) Minigun.

The affect was, well, spooky.

Here is one Spooky mock-up on display at the Air Force Armament Museum outside of Eglin Air Force base in Crestview, Florida that took photos of awhile back. However, it should be pointed out that the airframe in question was never an actual AC-47, but rather a visually modified regular unarmed C-47– but you get the point.

 

European Police trade-in deals

So I did a thing in the past few weeks.

More details pending.

105 missiles in 2 minutes

Regardless of your political views, France, the UK and the U.S. pulled off a remarkable joint effort from a military standpoint in their punitive operation against Syria on Saturday. In short, three aviation task forces from three different countries, a submarine, and four naval surface vessels coordinated an attack against three different and heavily defended land targets, with zero losses to friendlies.

The Russians say most of the incoming cruise missiles were shot down, but bomb damage assessment doesn’t hold up to that, although the kitchen sink was apparently thrown into the air around Damascus and Homs. CENTCOM says they tracked 40~ Syrian SAMs fired into the air, with zero hits on aircraft or incoming weapons.

Statement from SECNAV

CENTCOM statement

Five French Rafale jets loaded with a pair of SCALP-EG cruise missiles, covered and supported by five Mirage 2000-5F fighters, two E-3 AWACS, and six C-135FR tankers. The Rafale landed 9 SCALPS, two on the Him Shinshar storage site and 7 on the Him Shinshar CW bunker. This came while the French Navy (Marine Nationale) conducted the first ever operational strike involving the new MdCN (Missile de Croisiere Naval) naval cruise missile (the naval version of SCALP), firing 3 of the weapons from the Aquitaine-class multipurpose frigate Languedoc (D653) at the Him Shinshar CW storage site (west of Homs):

Two B-1Bs, deployed to Al Udeid AB from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., employed 19 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER), marking the first combat employment of the weapon. The JASSMs were targeting the Barzeh CW research and development center in Damascus

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

The Navy fired 7 TLAMs from USS Laboon (DDG-58) and 30 more from USS Monterey (CG-61) from the Red Sea while USS Higgins (DDG-76) let 23 TLAMs loose from the Northern part of the Persian Gulf, and the Virginia-class submarine USS John Warner (SSN-785) launched 6 more Tomahawks from the Med. In all, some 66 TLAMs– 57 directed at Barzeh and 9 at the Him Shinshar CW storage site.

180414-N-DO281-1123 U.S. FIFTH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (April 14, 2018) The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile. Monterey is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g Matthew Daniels/Released)

The Brits, using aging Tornados, got some Storm Shadow cruise missiles in at the Him Shinshar CW storage site– the only site hit by all three Allied nations.

RAF Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force Akrotiri Cyprus 2018 April, isn’t she beautiful…(MoD photo)

From Cyrpus:

Four Royal Air Force Tornado’s took off this morning from RAF Akrotiri to conduct strikes in support of Operations over the Middle East, firing eight Storm Shadow missiles

The Tornados, flown by 31 Squadron the Goldstars, were supported by a Voyager aircraft.

At 0200 UK time on 14 April, British forces joined close Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations involved in the use of chemical weapons.

The UK element of the carefully coordinated joint action was contributed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s. They launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility – a former missile base – some fifteen miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximize the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimize any risks of contamination to the surrounding area. The facility which was struck is located some distance from any known concentrations of civilian habitation, reducing yet further any such risk.

As of note, the RAF turned 100 years old on April 1st.

Happy Birthday, Yorktown

First off, this is a Kodachrome original, not a colorized photo. It shows the crew of the brand-new U.S. Navy Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) at attention as the National Ensign is raised, during her commissioning ceremonies at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, on 15 April 1943– some 75 years ago today.

Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-K-15555 photographed by Lieutenant Charles Kerlee, USNR. From the U.S. Navy Naval

For the record, Yorktown is freshly painted in Camouflage Measure 21. Two steel-hull submarine chasers (PC) are at right, on the other side of the pier.

The fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the famous Revolutionary War siege, she was initially to have been named Bonhomme Richard, but this was switched to Yorktown while under construction to commemorate the loss at Midway of the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5).

After earning 11 battlestars in WWII (along with a Presidental Unit Citation), and five more stars in Vietnam, she decommissioned 27 June 1970 after 37 years of service. Since 1975 she has been a museum ship at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Please visit her should you have the chance.

Fit for a Kingsman

All photos Chris Eger, except where noted

The folding clasp knife, aka jackknife, aka pocketknife, aka penknife, aka peasant knife, et. al, in military ancillary use dates back to the Roman Legions as early as 200~ AD. Fast forward to the 19th Century and the level of inexpensive standardization that was brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and good folders became available on the cheap. By 1905, the British Army started to standardize the basic issue clasp knife (the Pattern 6353/1905), used for opening tins, working ropes, and other basic non-fighting tasks.

Typically made in Sheffield by a myriad of firms, they were marked with a Broad Arrow acceptance mark on the blade, included a sheepsfoot main and can opener secondary auxiliary blade with a tertiary marlinspike in some cases. By the 1930s, shell and bone handled knives fell by the wayside and scales were commonly made from “chequered black bexoid (plastic).” This was the standard Commonwealth jack used through WWII and Korea, with surplus stocks in wide circulation for decades after.

A vintage multitool, the blade ends could be used as screwdrivers as could the center scale insert and the canopener as a fork when hungry enough.

Here is my British Army WWII era clasp knife. Marked SSP 1943 with a Broad Arrow, it is a hoss at 5.1-ounces and is built like a tank.

The two blades are 2.75-inches long overall and the knife itself, when closed, is 3.75-inches.

The strong shackle on the heel enabled the knife to be used as an ersatz plumb in field construction and in use as a slungshot to throw lines.

army issue clasp knife (WEA 4120) Clasp knife with chequered black bexoid (plastic) grips secured by three rivets. Pivoting at one end of the knife are a“ sheepsfoot” style blade and a tin opener. At one end of the knife is a flat screwdriver head and at the other is a pivoting steel shackle. Tied to the shackle is a buff cord lanyard with a large loop at the opposite end. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30003938

A more pointed “dagger jackknife” was commonly issued to commando, paratrooper and Marine units as well as the gentlemen of the SOE.

Carried on a lanyard attached to the camouflaged jumpsuit for cutting parachute shrouds lines if required while the blade was to be of sufficient length for stabbing…(Photo by Range Days in France)

In a form of flattery, this 1960s follow-up was made by Bianchi in Italy for the Italian military and is marked, Campobasso. It is lighter than the preceding Anglo-Saxon model, tipping the scales at 3.7-ounces. The two blades are 2.5-inches and the knife itself, closed, is 3.5-inches.

Post-war, the Brits themselves moved to adopt a slimmer version with metal scales. Today they are still made in Sheffield and, taking a key to the marketing behind Swiss Army knifes, Joseph Rodgers/George Wostenholm make “Genuine British Army” knives for the market in various models, with the below being one of the more svelte models, a single blade that weighs just 2.2-ounces.

I quite like it while the other ones see time in the safe.

As for the revolver, of course, it is a .38/200 Enfield No.2, 1943 production, the same date as the Bren gun brass cleaning kit.

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