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August 03, 2006

A Castle Scout Reports In

From Blake Kirk, retired soldier now a civil servant, working in Iraq to help redeploy people and things back to the US.

KS-19 Right Side View

I've been over here for two months now, helping a bunch of different units in this part of Iraq get ready to redeploy back to their home stations when their tours are up. I've not written much, mostly because most of the stuff I had to write about had more to do with what units were moving, where, and when. Not exactly the sort of stuff we need to have published as open-source info on the Internet. And you really DON'T want to hear my opinions about the software package we're now using to manage unit deployments...

Now, however, because it turns out I'm the only transporter in the area who knows ANYTHING about either Russian ordnance OR WW2-era US armored vehicles, I've had an additional mission handed to me, which permits me to send you gun pron.

They've really tightened the rules about bringing home captured equipment. Mostly, units are now limited to stuff that isn't of any real use to the new Iraqi military. And that's probably as it should be.

The 101st Historical Section has requested, (with the CG's endorsement,) to return to the US a Russian-built KS-19 100mm antiaircraft gun, along with two US-built M36-series tank destroyers: an M36B1, and an M36B2. I get the dubious privilege of preparing these things for movement. So far I've managed to determine that the turret-traversing mechanism on the M36B1 is frozen. The gun is aimed a bit more than 90 degrees right at the moment, so we're going to have to do something about that in order to move the piece. That will probably involve removing the traversing gearbox from the turret wall. WD-40 is my friend in this instance, and someone who realizes this has laid in a large stock of The Mechanic's Sacred Fluid, for which he, she or it has my undying gratitude.

I've got a few pictures of the KS-19. Pictures of the M36's later.

The KS-19's an interesting piece, similar in many ways to a German 88mm FLAK 37 mount, but not really a copy of the German design. I'd originally thought it was a Chinese Type 59 (the PLA's copy of the KS-19,) but this one has lettering in Cyrillic, not Chinese ideographs. The optics and electrical components are missing or in sad shape, but the gun can still be elevated and trained manually with very little effort. We're planning on moving it to a transportation staging yard in a few days, which is why I have photos of it in the travel configuration. We'll haul it south out of here on a flatbed, so it really doesn't matter if one of the tie rods on the front wheels is badly bent.

More as I get something interesting to say.

KS-19 Breech

Two more pics. Here (left side view) and here (fuze setter).

Looking forward to it, Blake!