Tag Archives: military history

You Don’t See a Semi-Auto DP-28 Everyday

While at the GDC warehouse last month, I had a chance to run across this bad boy.

Rick Smith’s Texas-based Smith Machine Group has been in the business of breathing life back into historical military guns for well over a decade and their DP series guns have long been one of their primary staples. Their complete DPM semi-automatic rifle is built using a surplus Polish kit with a new receiver, a new chrome-lined barrel, and their own fire-control group.

The semi-auto rifle was built off a Polish Circle 11 marked kit dated 1953 and is chambered in 7.62x54R. Firing from a closed bolt, it still has a gas piston operating system and uses an internal hammer.

While heavy, it has zero recoil when fired from the prone position and due to its 47-round pan magazine has a very low profile when compared to other magazine-fed semi-autos.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Fairly Well Preserved Ammo for 50 Years in the Drink

Vietnamese media recently reported on a pile of vintage small arms ammo that was recovered from the mud of the Tiền River that looks like it just came from the factory. 

Local media showed members of the Vietnamese Army inspecting the ammo, reportedly illegally salvaged from the river near Thuong Phuoc on the Cambodian border and confiscated by Border Guards. It has been underwater for decades, purportedly in a deep-sixed PCF, perhaps one that was put there in 1975 by its ARVN crew during the final days of the regime. 

The fact that it was in fresh water and likely covered by a layer of mud surely helped but either way, you have to hand it to the quality of those green ammo cans, much of which likely dated to WWII anyway. 

You know the C20, eh?

The Colt Canada-produced C20 semi-automatic Intermediate Sniper Weapon is being acquired for the Canadian Army in small numbers.

Produced domestically by Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ontario, the semi-automatic C20 has an 18-inch barrel with a 1-in-10 twist and is reportedly pretty friggen accurate. Testing showed the rifle to fire 8,000 rounds with no stopping and deliver an average of .66 MOA over 144 five-round groups using 175-grain Federal Gold Medal Match.

The overall length on the C20 is 38-inches while weight is 9.1-pounds. It has a 46-slot continuous MIL-STD-1913 top rail and a handguard with M-LOK accessory slots in the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock positions. (Photo: Colt Canada)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Remember, today is not about saving upto 20% on select merchandise

Division Cemetery, Okinawa, 1945, Photo via Marine Corps Archives

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

You do know the Model 1851 Feldstutzer, yes?

From the Hungarian site Kapszli comes a great piece on the Swiss Army’s innovative Model 1851 Federal Rifle, otherwise known as the Feldstutzer or Eidigenössischer Stutzer.

Via Cap & Ball (Kapszli)

“The Model 1851 rifle at the time of the acceptance was truly the best military rifle of its age. First of all, it fired a much smaller diameter and lighter bullet than any other military rifle. While the French military rifle fired a 17 mm bullet, the American and British a 14.7 mm bullet, the Swiss rifle fired a 10.4 mm bullet weighing only 16.5-17 g. The bullet was pushed from the bore with a relatively high 60-grain charge of fine grade black powder resulting in a 440 m/s muzzle velocity and a flat trajectory.

The flat trajectory was a key feature in Switzerland the soldier had to master shooting downhill and uphill. The Swiss army consisted of free people for many centuries. These civilians were more important to the state than to let them be killed in melee combat so sniping the enemy from a safe distance was always an important element of the Swiss tactics since the introduction of firearms. It is also a reason why the shooting sports have been always so popular in this beautiful little country.”

Much more here

When it comes to captured enemy weapons, the Army never throws anything away

I recently had the chance to tour U.S. Army’s Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, the keepers of the flame for military history in the country.

The 15,200-acre installation in North Alabama was established in World War II and overhauls both small arms and vehicles for the Army. A longstanding tenant on the sprawling base, based out of Building 201, is the Museum Support Center, operated by the Center of Military History. The CMH maintains an immense collection of 650,000 historic items across 228 sites including 57 large museums that are a part of the Army Museum Enterprise. Items not yet on display, waiting for a public home, or are excess to current museum needs are stored in the “Army’s attic” in Anniston.

In secured storage at the MSC are 13,000 live weapons of all sorts, ranging from 13th Century Ottoman gear to guns captured recently in Afghanistan…and they were gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for me:

More in my column at Guns.com

No more White Helmets

The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team (RSMDT), also known as the White Helmets, will soon be no more. The group is an ode to the WWI-era dispatch riders of the BEF who carried important orders via primitive motorbikes of the day, often over broken country in some of the worst terrain imaginable.

Named originally The Red Devils and then the Mad Signals, the group was formed in 1927 from the Royal Corps of Signals.

Today the 30 volunteers of the group are still drawn from commo units and ride British Millennium Triumph 750cc bikes, touring “from April to September every year demonstrating all the personal qualities demanded of the modern Royal Signals soldier.”

An Army spokesperson said:

The Royal Corps of Signals have come far since using motorbikes to carry messages across the battlefield, and are now highly trained ‘Leaders in a Digital Age’ with expertise in cyber operations. This modernisation means that 2017 will be the last season for the iconic ‘White Helmets’ Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team.

That chrome throwback scheme

(Photo by CG AUX Bob Trapani)

(Photo by CG AUX Bob Trapani)

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod and Coast Guard Station Rockland Me training with an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and 47-foot motor life boats.

The Jayhawk helicopter is painted yellow to represent the “chrome” yellow paint scheme that Coast Guard and Navy helicopters used in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Examples include the Sikorsky HO3S-1G used from 1946 to 1955 and the Sikorsky HO4S used from 1951 to 1966.

It is one of 16 aircraft in the country during the centennial celebration of Coast Guard aviation. Altogether, three different Coast Guard aircraft types, including the Jayhawk and Dolphin helicopters as well as the HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane, are receiving historic paint schemes representing various eras of Coast Guard air power.

Charles N. Daly was not a man to be trifled with


The man pictured from these scans of Firearms Curiosa (Lewis Winant, Bonanza Books, New York, 1955) is antiquarian Capt. Charles Noe Daly.

The book ( pg. 12) states that the armor was “found in Bordeaux in 1917” and found its way into the collection of aforementioned Mr. Daly. The cuirass weighs 30 pounds and holds nineteen cartridge pistols. Here is a further description from Firearms Curiosa:

“cuirass of steel . . . when brought into a right angle position may be fired in batteries of four and five by pressing the studs and levers, which release the hammers which are cocked by a hook carried on a chain.” The armor also came with a pair of stirrups that contained two pistols, which would fire by pulling on a strap in case one is pursued or attacked from behind. (ibid)

[ Hattip, Eldon Litchfield on the above ]

A 1922 article by Sumner Healy in Outers details the armor to more extent and includes photos of it with a set of pistol-loaded stirrups and two pistol loaded sabretechs which all told gave the horseman a total of 39 shots before having to reload.

noe curriass

As for Noe, he married one Mary Ecclesine in a New York society event, and died at age 65 on Thursday, October 5, 1933 in York, Ontario, where he had long been U.S. Consul.

His 1,000 item personal collection that included the strange armor above, a saddle gun used by William of Orange, Adm. Nelson’s pistol, and others, were sold in 1935 at public auction in Ottawa.

Some of the lots:

daly collection 2 daly collection

Who knows where it is at now.

188 years ago this week: West Point torn apart by the Eggnog Riot

(Note- This article pulled from an article of mine over at Guns.com)

Things got a ittle more out of hand than what this historic painting of the event dipistc. In fact, there was a gooog bit of both swordplay and gunfire from the rowdy cadets.

Things got a little more out of hand than what this historic painting of the event depicts. In fact, there was a good bit of both swordplay and gunfire from the rowdy cadets.

You wouldn’t know it by visiting the campus today, but in 1826, the United States Military Academy at West Point was the scene of an all-out holiday riot — over eggnog.

The U.S. Army of the time was much different from the force we know currently. Besides numbering just 6,000 regulars spread across coastal defense and frontier forts in the 24 states of the Union, a staple of the day was a regular alcohol ration for soldier and officer. This even extended to the Military Academy at West Point, that was, until 1817 when Colonel Sylvanus Thayer took over the facility.

Thayer banned the possession of booze but made an allowance for the regular Christmas eggnog, which, in a tradition that heralded back to the Revolutionary War, was liberally spiked with whiskey. However as the holiday approached in 1826, Thayer likewise ordered that the coming bash would feature unadulterated ‘nog sans the alcohol.

This didn’t sit too well with a number of the 260 cadets, many of whom would soon leave the following spring for hard service on the frontier and were eagerly awaiting the upcoming festivities. Several left campus and traveled to nearby taverns to obtain a few gallons of whiskey and at least one of rum, which they snuck back to the Academy with the help of an enlisted guard.

By Christmas Eve night, cadets were found wandering the grounds, singing, making merry, and sleeping in odd places. This degenerated into an ever-growing campaign that eventually involved as many as 90 cadets by morning to include Jefferson Davis of Mississippi and possibly Robert E. Lee, who went on respectively to become the only President of the Confederate States and future commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

When regular Army officers assigned as instructors to the school attempted to restore order, they were met with resistance, broken windows, and even a few assaults on the more disliked of the school staff — one of whom was hit with a log. At least one fake reveille was sounded and cadets attempted to sign out a number of other musical instruments. A good bit swordplay also ensued, which, luckily, caused no fatalities.

When the smoke cleared, a large part of the barracks used by the cadets was in ruins and 19 students as well as the enlisted man who allowed the whiskey past his guard post in the first place were brought up on charges. In the end, 11 cadets were dismissed from the service for their part in the riot and the soldier was given one month at hard labor.

The cadets involved were mainly from the South and included at least two future Confederate Army generals: Brig. Gen Benjamin G. Humphreys from Mississippi (expelled, readmitted, graduated class of ’28 and later led “Humphreys’ Brigade” from Antietam to Appomattox) as well as Brig. Gen Hugh W. Mercer from Virginia (expelled over the riot, readmitted, graduated 3 of 33 in the class of ’28, and led “Mercer’s Brigade” at Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Atlanta).

President John Quincy Adams later commuted many of the sentences passed by the courts marshal on Thayer’s recommendation. Those implicated but not punished included future U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Archibald Campbell (who later went on to be Jeff Davis’s Asst Sect’y of War) and overall, the academy has distanced itself from the event over the past two centuries.

“Years have passed since the cadets overindulged on eggnog, but the moral of their story is still applicable,” wrote Carol S. Funck of the U. S. Army’s Heritage and Education Center’s page on the Eggnog Riot. “Too much of the ‘good stuff’ can lead to serious consequences. So remember this story as the holiday parties approach; let’s not let one night of fun alter our future as nineteen West Point cadets had.”

Col. Thayer's statue.

Col. Thayer’s statue.

As for Thayer, he left the Academy in 1833 over a disagreement with President Andrew Jackson. Nevertheless, he returned for good after his death and is interned on campus where a statue has long been placed to remember the strict Colonel.

There is no word on if cadets from time to time leave eggnog for him.

Happy holidays.


« Older Entries