Czech out this interesting ‘real-steel multi-cal blaster pistol

With a “Blade Runner”/”RoboCop” futuristic aesthetic, the FK Brno PSD pistol can move seamlessly across four calibers, including the very compelling 7.5 FK.

The PSD has a slender polymer grip frame and keeps the same layout as the Field Pistol. While its price tag – MSRP of $1,650 – isn’t cheap, it is still only a fraction of the cost of the Field Pistol and even comes in a good bit less than a new Deagle. It is not that much more expensive than some polymer-framed practical/tactical guns like the $1,500 FN 509 LS Edge (which wasn’t really that nice of a gun in my opinion.)

Roughly the same size as an M1911, it has better ergonomics with a slim grip that feels more like a compact 9mm, and, due to a 5-ounce frontend compensator counterweight and a slide that is beefier at its end than its nose, is supremely balanced and light recoiling.

Plus, there is the fact that it shoots 7.5FK, 10mm Auto, .40 S&W, and 9mm, all with the same gun, promising 100-yard accuracy.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Warning signal

Original Caption: Symbolically, there’s a warning signal against them as Marines move down the main line to Seoul. 1st MarDiv. Korea. 9/20/1950

Photog: Sgt Keating. NARA 127-N-A3206

Following the landing at Inchon and the liberation of Seoul, the First Marine Division reembarked on amphibious ships and transferred Wonson on the east coast of Korea, preparing for the advance on the Yalu. Just when the war seemed wrapped up, the Marines were hit by eight fresh divisions of Chinese “volunteers” at a place called the Chosin Reservoir.

For more information on the 1st MarDiv during the conflict, check out the Korean War Project.

16th Century Italian Pageant Shield, once Owned by Franz Ferdinand and Swiped by Nazis, Goes Home

“Shield showing the Storming of New Carthage (recto),” made in Italy c. 1535, attributed to Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso (Italian, born c. 1497, died 1544), after a design by Giulio Romano (1492/99–1546). Wood, linen, gesso, gold, pigment, diameter: 24 inches (61 cm). Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977; deaccessioned 2021. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021.

Via the Philly:

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Czech Republic’s National Heritage Institute jointly announced today an agreement whereby an important Italian pageant shield with decoration attributed to Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso (Italian, 1497-1544) has now been confirmed as belonging to the Czech Republic and will be returned to the Czech Republic from Philadelphia, where it has been on display in the Museum’s Galleries of Arms and Armor since 1976 as part of the Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection. Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Naděžda Goryczková, the General Director of the National Heritage Institute, jointly announced the agreement in Philadelphia this morning, a step that reflects the spirit of cooperation that has guided all of the discussions between the museum and the Czech Republic about this work of art and has resulted in this mutually satisfactory resolution.

The shield was formerly in the collection of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose assassination in 1914 touched off World War I. The Archduke owned one of Europe’s preeminent collections of arms and armor, which was displayed at his country residence, Konopiště Castle, near Prague. When the former Habsburg imperial properties were redistributed after the war, the castle and its collections became the property of the government of the newly formed Czechoslovakia in 1919. In 1939 the Nazi government annexed the part of Czechoslovakia where Konopiště was located, and in 1943 the German army (Wehrmacht) confiscated the Konopiště Castle armor collection, including the shield, and took it to Prague to be housed in a new military museum. However, Adolf Hitler’s arms and armor curator, Leopold Ruprecht, soon skimmed off the cream of the collection, inventoried it, and dispatched it to Vienna, intending the best for Hitler’s planned mega-museum in Linz, Austria. At the end of the war, large groups of Konopiště objects were recovered by the Allies and returned to Czech authorities in 1946, but among 15 objects that remained missing was a shield whose description was similar to the pageant shield. Based on previously available documentation, the museum had been unable conclusively to identify the shield in its collection as one of the unrecovered objects from the Konopiště Castle armor collection.

Since 2016, the museum has been collaborating with historians in the Czech Republic to evaluate the history and provenance of the Italian pageant shield. Recent research identified pre-WWII inventories which, in tandem with a photograph, dated to around 1913, showing the museum’s shield as displayed at Konopiště Castle provided by the museum, persuasively identify the shield as the one illegally taken from Konopiště Castle by the Nazis and never restituted. Based on these revelations, the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art unanimously concluded that rightful title in the work belonged to the Czech Republic and approved the return of the armor at its meeting of June 17, 2021.

The elaborate painted decoration of the shield is attributed to Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso (c. 1497-1544), based on a design by the painter Giulio Romano (Italian, 1492/99-1546). The shield was made about 1535 of wood, linen, gesso, gold, and pigment and is 24 inches in diameter. The scene depicted on its exterior shows the storming of New Carthage (209 BCE) in present-day Spain—an important episode of the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BCE) and a great victory of the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio (237–183 BCE). Originally intended purely for ceremonial purposes, the decoration suggests a historical parallel between Scipio’s military achievements, many of which occurred in Africa, and the victories of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (ruled 1519 to 1556), who was returning in 1535 from a successful military campaign against Muslim pirates in northern Africa. The shield was probably commissioned for one of the ceremonies that were being held throughout Italy to welcome Emperor Charles V in triumph.

Tip for the Week: Get Right on Your Mags

While ammo prices are still sky-high– if you can find it (anyone seen a box of .38 SPL lately?)– and firearms themselves are slowly coming back down to normal, probably the most affordable accessory on the market today that could someday, with little notice, vanish, are detachable magazines.

Metal or plastic, look for those mag deals now, kids, and keep em clean.

I’ve been picking up Okay Industries aluminum mags for $8 (with no tilt followers and textured bodies) and Magpul PMAGs for like $10. Likewise, factory Glock doublestacks are running $20 ish. If you have an HK G3/ HK 91 pattern battle rifle, you can grab West German surplus mags for $3 (yes, three dollars).  

To reiterate: you should still be buying magazines. They’re so cheap and so plentiful right now it’s crazy. I am old enough to remember during the 1994-2004 Federal Assault Weapon Ban when a clapped out USGI mag was $75 in Clinton-era dollars.

Don’t be caught unprepared if that happens again. Eger warned you.

An Unwanted Sword, 76 Years Ago Today

17 September 1945: Surrender of Borneo at Bandjermasin. The Japanese major general, a career officer in his full uniform with some 2,500 of the Emperor’s troops under his command, attempted to hand his family sword to the senior Allied officer on the scene, a malarial temporary lieutenant colonel in field dress with rolled-up sleeves and a bush hat, who, after suffering the loss of one out of four men in his battalion in the preceding campaign to reach that moment, ordered the general via an interpreter to place his sword on the ground before of the Australians.

Note the Digger with his Enfield revolver at the ready. Photo by Corp. Robert Eric Donaldson, AWM 118033

“Major General Michio Uno, Imperial Japanese Army, Commanding the Japanese 37th Army Forces in the area, lays his sword at the feet of NX349 Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Ewan Murray Robson, CBE, DSO, Commanding Officer, 2/31 Infantry Battalion during the Japanese surrender ceremony on the local sports ground. Also identified is Warrant Officer Class 2 Arthur Pappadopoulos, Interpreter with the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS), GHQ beside Robson, and on the extreme left, behind Lt Col Robson is Warrant Officer Class 1 George Hawkins.”

Part of the 25th Brigade, 7th Division, the 2/31st was formed just as the 70th Battalion (Australia) after Dunkirk in England from assorted Australian non-infantry types and trained to be infantry to defend the British Isles against a looming invasion by Hitler. Renamed the 2/31st, following the end of the Battle of Britain, the unit was sent to North Africa then served in the Syrian campaign before being rushed back to defend Australia in early 1942 after Japan entered the war.

This photograph from State Library Victoria is of the 2/31 Australian Infantry Battalion walking in high cane along the Banks of the Brown River, circa 1943. When the Japanese arrived in Papua, their goal was to make their way across the Kokoda Track and form a base from which to attack the mainland of Australia. The Kokoda campaign is remembered as one of the most difficult operations in Australian military history – a campaign that cost the lives of many soldiers.

After being decimated through two years of fighting in the fierce jungle during the New Guinea campaigns, the reconstituted battalion landed at Green Beach at Balikpapan along with the rest of the 7th Division on 2 July 1945. Overcoming fierce Japanese opposition as they pushed inland from the beach, they were again in the Green Hell of jungle fighting, suffering the highest casualties of any Allied unit in the Borneo campaign, with nearly a quarter of the battalion killed or injured. On the way, they liberated a huge camp at Kandangan, which held Dutch women and children that had been interned since 1942, as well as a second large camp that held some 2,000 Indian POWs captured in Burma.

Soldiers of the Australian 2/31st Battalion passing through the town of Bandjermasin in Borneo as they took responsibility for the area from the Japanese. “They are being given an enthusiastic welcome by local civilians.” AWM photo 118018

The 2/31st Battalion received 22 battle honors for its service during the war, and its members earned a VC, three DSOs, four MCs, one DCM, and a score of MMs. It was disbanded in March 1946, and the unit, assembled from “odds and ends” had never since uncased its flag.

Its commander, Lt. Col. Murray Robson had been mustered out even before then, discharged in November 1945, his war service at an end. A solicitor by trade and a member of the NSW parliament, he had joined the Australian militia at age 33 as a reserve lieutenant three weeks after Hitler crossed into Poland in 1939 and, serving with the 2/31st since June 1940, earned the DSO in New Guinea after being wounded in Syria and mentioned thrice in dispatches.

No word on whatever became of Major General Uno’s katana.

Going for a Sunday walk among the sunflowers in the countryside with the lads

Via the Parachute Regiment archives:

77 years ago today: Sunday, 17th September 1944, the Market side of Operation Market Garden.

Usually misidentified as Airborne Signallers, this is a group of the 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, 1st (British) Airborne Division, at the edge of Drop Zone “X” in Holland mid-way between Sinderhoeve and Jonkershoeve, looking south towards the Klein Amerikaweg.

Pic by – Sgt. M. Lewis, AFPU.

Second from left is a Sergeant, fifth from the left is an Officer and on the right, the soldier is hoisting a 51-pound (without the ammo!) Vickers Medium Machine Gun onto his shoulder. Note the handie-talkie being used by the officer, at least four Borderers with No. 4 Enfield .303 rifles, and two with STEN MK IVs.

After having gone to France with the BEF in 1939, the Borderers made it out sans most of their equipment from Dunkirk, and, since they were “light” already was reformed as a mountain unit attached to the 31st Bde then in 1941 were transitioned to being glider-borne infantry. As such, they landed at Sicily in Operation Ladbroke, suffering heavy casualties and losing 75 percent of their ranks.

Reformed too late for Overlord, Market Garden was only their second combat glider operation. However, they were all but destroyed in that infamous “A Bridge Too Far” operation, and spent the rest of the war reforming for a third time just in case they were needed for the push on Tokyo. They were not, and ended WWII in Trieste on the early front line of the Cold War.

Formed in 1702, 1st Bn/Borderers were amalgamated with 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster), to form 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, which was further amalgamated with the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment to form the new Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border) (LANCS) which today still carries a Glider Flash worn on the sleeve while in No. 1 and No. 2 uniforms to remember Ladbroke and Market Garden.

RAN getting into the SSN Game, apparently

The Royal Australian Navy Submarine Service has been around since 1964 but the Ozzies have been running subs going back to the Great War-era British E class submarines AE1 and AE2, which we have covered here on a Warship Wednesday.

Besides the Es, the Australians operated a half-dozen J-class boats in WWI, two O-class boats in the 1920s, and eight British Oberon-class submarines through the Cold War.

Barbecue on top of HMAS Onslow, a diesel submarine operated by Australia’s Navy from 1968 to 1999.

Today, they have the half dozen controversial (but Australian-built!) Collins-class submarines in service that are aging out.

Collins-class submarines conducting exercises northwest of Rottnest Island 2019

Driven by political pressure against nuclear-powered subs– both Australia and New Zealand have had issues with American “N” prefixes visiting in past years– Canberra signed a contract for a dozen planned Attack-class SSKs from France in a competition that saw both German and Japanese designs come up in a close tie for second place.

However, with the French boats not being able to get operational into some time in the mid-2030s, the Australians are scrapping the stalled French contract and going with a program with the U.S. and Royal Navy to field SSNs.

The AUKUS program is ambitious to say the least. 

RAN’s official statement, with a lot more detail than you get elsewhere: 

The submarines will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, where French company Naval Group was to construct the soon-to-be canceled submarines, which is a heavy lift for sure, but not insurmountable. 

As SUBSCOL in New London is very good at what they do at training Nuclear Program submariners, and the production line for the Virginia-class boats is white-hot, it is likely something that could be done inside the decade with some sort of technology sharing program similar to how Australian acquired their FFG-7 frigates in the 1980s, provided the RAN can cough up enough submariners (they have a problem staffing their boats now as it is) as well as the cash and political will.

If a Virginia-class variant is chosen, perhaps one could be hot-loaned from COMSUBPAC, with a cadre of specialists aboard, to the Australians for a couple years as a training boat while theirs are being constructed. 

Can Canberra buy and man 12 boats? Doubtful, but a 4+1 hull program with one boat in a maintenance period and the four active subs, perhaps with rotating blue/red crews, could provide a lot of snorkel.

Plus, it could see American SSNs based in Western Australia on a running basis, which is something that has never happened. Of course, the precedent is there, as 122 American, 31 British, and 11 Dutch subs conducted patrols from Fremantle and Brisbane between 1942 and 1945 while the Royal Navy’s 4th Submarine Flotilla was based in Sydney from 1949 until 1969.

Of course, the French, who have been chasing this hole in the ocean for five years, are going to raise hell over this. 

The “breakup statement” of French Naval Group with Australia Attack class submarine deal…no mention of them being overpriced, overdue and under delivery.

Meanwhile, off Korea

In related Pacific submarine news, the South Koreans successfully fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday, just hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea.

The ROKN boat, likely the new ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho (SS-083), which just commissioned in August, fired the indigenous Hyunmoo conventional warhead SLBM, of which not much is known. The 3,700-ton Changho-class, of which nine are planned, have six VLS silos for such missiles in addition to their torpedo tubes.

Beretta Goes 4th Gen on the M9

Beretta this week announced the latest variant of its M9 pistol series with the M9A4, which includes an optics-cut slide, threaded barrel, and Vertec frame.

A variant of the company’s Model 92 line, which dates to the 1970s, the M9 designator comes from the nomenclature of the variant adopted by the U.S. Army in 1984. Now in its fourth generation as far as Beretta is concerned, this newest branch in the family tree is a full-sized gun with a red-dot optic compatible slide and dovetailed tritium night sights.

Inside the slim Vertec-series frame– with the same aggressively texturized grips as seen on the 92X– is an enhanced short reset Xtreme trigger system. Black surface controls are offset by a flat dark earth frame, barrel, and slide.

Well, it is optics and suppressor-ready as well as having an 18-shot mag, an accessory rail and improved ergos…but it is still a Beretta 92 under all that, for better or worse.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Second Hand MP38

Maori troops line up on the quayside at Alexandria in Egypt following their evacuation from Crete, 3 June 1941.

Photograph taken by Lieutenant L.B. Davis. IWM E 3373

The men above, of the New Zealand Army 28th (Māori) Battalion, were among the 18,000 Australian, New Zealand, and British troops transported by the Royal Navy across the Med between 28 May and 1 June 1941, following a week of bitter fighting against German airborne forces. As witnessed by the German MP38 carried by the fourth man in line, the Maori gave the Fallschirmjäger a tough time.

The 28th is recognized today as the most decorated Kiwi battalion during WWII, receiving battle honors: Olympus Pass, Crete, El Alamein, Tebega Gap, Takrouna, North Africa 1942–43, Orsogna, Cassino 1, The Senio, Italy 1943–45, Mount Olympus, Greece 1941, Maleme, Canea, 42nd Street, Withdrawal to Sphakia, Middle East 1941–44, Tobruk 1941, Sidi Azeiz, Zemla, Alem Hamza, Mersa Matruh, Minqar Qaim, Defence of Alamein Line, El Mreir, Alam el Halfa, Nofilia, Medinine, El Hamma, Enfidaville, Djebibina, The Sangro, Castel Frentano, Monastery Hill, Advance to Florence, San Michele, Paula Line, Celle, Saint Angelo in Salute, Santerno Crossing, Bologna and Idice Bridgehead, as a unit.

Its men would receive no less than 7 DSOs, 1 OBE, 21 MCs, 13 DCMs, and 55 MMs in addition to a U.S. Silver Star and at least one was recommended, but ultimately did not receive, a VC.

55 Years Ago: We have the technology

Such a captivating image of Atomic age wonder, hard to imagine it was real, and that it hails from September 15, 1966.

NASA research pilot William Harvey “Bill” Dana takes a moment to watch NASA’s converted NB-52B Stratofortress mothership (52-0008, Balls Eight) cruise overhead after a research flight in the Northrop HL-10 heavy lifting body. “HL” stands for horizontal landing, and “10” refers to the tenth design studied by engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. On the left, John Reeves can be seen at the cockpit of the lifting body. NASA Photo.

More on the HL-10 here, more on Balls Eight here, and, since you came this far, a word about test pilot Major Steven Austin.

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