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June 15, 2008

Old guns, new guns. A little gunner zen.

First up, something new... just because I like the pic.

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U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Kathryne B. Schilling coaches a woman as she prepares to shoot a pistol during her training to become a Sister of Ferris, June 4, 2008, Ferris, Iraq. The Sisters of Ferris will inspect women for weapons, suicide vests, large amounts of cash and contraband at entry control points. Schilling is assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cindy G. Alejandrez

Next, something old. John S. an enabler who feeds my habit gun dealer sent me a link to some fascinating pictures taken at Fort Brown, Texas, during the Punitive Expedition/WWI era.

Long time readers of this space will know that the Donovan family isn't very adventurous. I'm a third generation Gunner. Over those three generations, Donovan Redlegs have served, or been involved in the development of, an amazing transformation of the art. My grandfather was there as we were first mastering the art of indirect fire, doing all the basic math as needed for trajectory calculation, etc, where you might spend a day or more doing all the needed math to mass the fires of massed guns on multiple targets. My father bridged the era from the ultimate refinement of manual data computation through to the birth of artillery digital computers. And I span from the end of manual data through the era of the guns as roving independents, capable of massing fires on multiple targets without being massed themselves, and done on the fly.

My grandfather served on guns like these 4.7 inch guns at Fort Brown, Brownsville Texas, in 1916. Where the object of artillery was to get as many guns shooting simultaneously at a target as you could.

4.7 gun being fired in training at Fort Brown, Texas, in 1916.  Photo courtesy the Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, image #486, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

A slightly larger version can be had by clicking here. Or get the full size version here.

The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, image #486, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

My Dad, served guns like this M109 howitzer - brand new when he was commanding a battalion of them in Germany in 1969 (this particular gun is Israeli)... Still trying to mass as many guns as you could, while building them to keep up with the tanks and mechanized infantry, and able to survive on a very lethal battlefield. This is the era I started in.

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Heck, we've put the firepower of a battalion of cannon on the back of a single truck.

NLOS-C at the Capitol Mall, trying to sell itself.

Now, at the twilight of my time doing things militant, I've been involved in the development of the tactics and doctrine for guns like the NLOS-C, in an era where we're reducing the number of guns, making them capable of being virtual snipers (even the rockets are point weapons now - and shooting artillery at "point targets" was a way to get your knuckles wrapped when I was a Lieutenant), and the guns rove around independently, and are capable of massing fires on their own - in that they can shoot multiple rounds in succession, all timed to arrive at the same time on the target - and be moving before those rounds hit. That's some serious change in less than 100 years, and the lives of three soldiers.

The NLOS-C is *still* a spugly gun.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 15, 2008 | TrackBack (0)

March 27, 2008

Update to the Whatziss

It isn't often I score a brag on John, so I've gotta milk it for all it's worth.

But I'm also sure I wouldn't have gotten it anyway... because all the late model 18 pounders with the armored box have taller boxes on the recuperators.

And it sure *ain't* a late model. A bit of charm applied to my Lady Captain acquaintance, followed by a bit of cheesecloth (and a lot of spit) applied to the breech revealed the following inscription:

Q.F. 18-Pd Mk 1. M[obliterated by shell-splinter gouge] 1917 [indecipherable] 6107

I'm not positive about that 6107, because the paint's super-thick over the preceding portion -- the first number could just as easily be a 3 or a 9.

Meanwhile, that's a bit more info for the grognards...

And my Lady Captain is *not* a romantic interest. She's one-third my age and actually *likes* the M9...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by CW4BillT on Mar 27, 2008

January 27, 2008

A moment of Gunner Zen.

These Redlegs of the 10th Mountain are living the dream... Direct Fire!

U.S. soldiers from 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, fire a round from a howitzer during training at the Warrior Range in Kirkuk, Iraq, Jan.23, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Laura M. Buchta

U.S. soldiers from 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, fire a round from a howitzer during training at the Warrior Range in Kirkuk, Iraq, Jan.23, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Laura M. Buchta

A larger version of that photo can be had by clicking here.

For a small discussion on the return of direct fire - click here for Strategy Page.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 27, 2008

January 10, 2008

Gunner Zen

Soldiers from B Battery,

Soldiers from B Battery, "Banditos," 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, "Warrior," 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, prepare to fire the M777A2 Light Weight 155 mm Howitzer, Jan. 2, at Camp Taji, Iraq. The "Banditos" made history as the first Army unit to fire the cannon system in Iraq. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Christina Bhatti)

Larger version of the photo available by clicking here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 10, 2008

January 4, 2008

Gunner Zen.

The eld among us will remember when the MLRS was fielded, it was intended as an area-fire weapon designed to take out acres of advancing Warsaw Pact tanks and BMPs. Now it's a precision-fire weapon taking out single point targets.

Of course, it can *still* do the acres thing.

A Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System fires a 227 mm rocket at a building that insurgents were using to store explosives and a nearby weapons cache in the open desert near the northern-Iraqi city of Bayji, Dec. 27. It was confirmed the GMLRS from, Detachment 1, Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Sill, Okla., destroyed the target. Photo by Spc. Richard Rzepka 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

A Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System fires a 227 mm rocket at a building that insurgents were using to store explosives and a nearby weapons cache in the open desert near the northern-Iraqi city of Bayji, Dec. 27. It was confirmed the GMLRS from, Detachment 1, Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Sill, Okla., destroyed the target. Photo by Spc. Richard Rzepka 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

Larger version available by clicking here.

Hmmmm. Wonder if there's any legal way to get some of those spacer pads as unique Iraq war artillery souvenirs? Prolly not. And troops, don't take silly risks trying, either - I bet those things will make a TSA explosives sniffer *howl* and the residues might be toxic, anyway. Be cool to score a 155mm primer or a 105mm cartridge case, and those can cover Afstan, too. Hmmm. Have we sent MLRS over to Afghanistan? HIMARs? Time for some rooting around to find out.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 04, 2008

December 17, 2007

Explosive news from the Marines.

First up - some "good training" at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- “Back blast area all secure … Rocket,” shouts Lance Cpl. Joseph P. Adams Jr. (center) and Pfc. Robert Challener (right), assaultmen, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, before a high explosive round is fired downrange, while Staff Sgt. Jerome Owens (top), platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company I, and range safety officer, shields his ears from the blast during a firing exercise here Dec. 1. Companies I, K and L participated in a Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, or SMAW, exercise mainly aimed at familiarizing the junior Marines with employing it in combat situations. Photo by: Cpl. Chris Lyttle

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- “Back blast area all secure … Rocket,” shouts Lance Cpl. Joseph P. Adams Jr. (center) and Pfc. Robert Challener (right), assaultmen, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, before a high explosive round is fired downrange, while Staff Sgt. Jerome Owens (top), platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company I, and range safety officer, shields his ears from the blast during a firing exercise here Dec. 1. Companies I, K and L participated in a Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, or SMAW, exercise mainly aimed at familiarizing the junior Marines with employing it in combat situations. Photo by: Cpl. Chris Lyttle

Larger version here, if you want some wallpaper.

Next, over in theater... HIMARS debuted with the Marines this last year.

AL ASAD, Iraq (July 31, 2007) – Marines of Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment launch rockets during a firing exercise. The HIMARS is the first of its kind in the Marine Corps and killed 25 enemy combatants and assisted in the capture of 47 more last month.

AL ASAD, Iraq (July 31, 2007) – Marines of Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment launch rockets during a firing exercise. The HIMARS is the first of its kind in the Marine Corps and killed 25 enemy combatants and assisted in the capture of 47 more last month.

HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) is essentially MLRS-lite. While the MLRS, which initially fielded in the 80's is a large tracked vehicle based on Bradley components, the HIMARS takes a single MLRS "six-pack" of rockets and mounts them on a truck chassis - giving up the second six-pack carried by the MLRS. The HIMARS is cheaper to operate, faster over most types of terrain, and easier to move around strategically. MLRS was built for massed fires to stop the Soviet horde, and to operate in a very hostile counter-fire environment. HIMARS was developed to provide most of the firepower, at considerably reduced overall costs, while giving a greater strategic flexibility. Heh. If I sound like an advertisement, I was involved in some of the early studies that resulted in HIMARS getting built. Just as a sim-geek, not an idea guy.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 17, 2007

November 27, 2007

A little gunner zen...

Private First Class Jerry Cleveland (left) and Specialist Brett Mitchell, with the International Security Assistance Force, fire a 120 mm mortar during a combat operation in the Da'udzay Valley in Zabol Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Sergeant 1st Class Jim Downen

Private First Class Jerry Cleveland (left) and Specialist Brett Mitchell, with the International Security Assistance Force, fire a 120 mm mortar during a combat operation in the Da'udzay Valley in Zabol Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Sergeant 1st Class Jim Downen
Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 27, 2007

November 15, 2007

We need some Gunner Zen.

A friend of mine in Australia owns this (and several others, as well) 5.5 inch gun. And numerous other guns, too.

5.5 inch howitzer

Wouldn't that just look spiffy out by the flagpoles of Argghhh!!!?

Oh, yeah.

It would.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 15, 2007

October 22, 2007

I can find a cannon anywhere.

Really. Even at Fort Rucker, home of Army Aviation. I actually had a much funnier post working until this farking connection blew up. I may change hotels.


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 22, 2007

October 21, 2007

Well, I can *usually* find a cannon when I travel...

...but I don't always find one actually firing.

Civil War Naval Museum Brooke rifle firing a blank.

Especially one manned by... pirates.

On land.

Nicely maintained Brooke Rifle, made by the Naval Ordnance Works, Selma, Alabama, in January of 1865. 5lbs of black powder. Overlooking the Chattahoochee at Port Columbus, Georgia.

And the reason this is all there's going to be from me today? Due to the astonishngly optimistically labeled "high-speed internet" at this place of accomodation, it took one full hour to get this posted. Near as I can tell, they got DSL, set up 4 wireless routers, and told 70 rooms full of computer geeks to hook up to their "high speed internet." Snerk. I think it ran almost normal at 2AM one morning. I'd have given you a larger version of the pic, but I could feel my arteries hardening and my joints stiffening as I waited. That and the dust bunny that collected by my feet.

I'm afraid I've got better things to do with my time than watch the Windoze Hourglass. And it's really not that, it's the loading bar on the browser...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 21, 2007

September 29, 2007

A mix of Gunner's Zen and Karma...

If you get deep enough into collecting, you eventually meet up with some of the international arms collectors and dealers - most of whom make me look like a piker, as they're wrassling over... tanks and full size artillery pieces.

Here's some Gunner Zen and a Balance of Karma story from one of my buds in the biz.


I have had it for years. I fought the army 12 years ago to sell me three and some spares. During the procress they stole some of the spare barrels. I ripped into them and got them to ship to [deleted] for free, LOL, and then stored them at that base until I was ready to move them to my place. During the progress to this Port Arthur shooting happened and they wanted to deac my guns as they were not deac and they had put them out in the weather. The engineers skilled enough to deac the guns knew they were mine and refused. During the move down I removed the locks so when an officious army Lieutenant (I think you yanks call them shavetails) form ordnance went out with me to fight over the deac of the guns as they were still on army property. The night before they had rain... I arrived with tilt trucks to remove my guns then and there and to tell them to sod off from damaging them further, the shavetail saw the locks missing (not knowing I had them) and we fought for an hour on verbal issues. The engineers came down on my side saying they were sold to me as agreed and paid for and they were my property and he had no say. As he was outnumbered and getting put in his box he tried to save face pointing out the locks were missing and then went to open the breech that was shut. Even with lock missing it seals with a greased chamber and holds about 2 pints of water. As he went for the operating handle me and the engineers stood back as we all knew what was about to happen. Out of the chamber came the night's rainwater mixed with oil preservative and grease in a nice slurry that spewed all over his nice clean uniform. He was livid and it was the best we could do not to laugh. He had to report to the General of Log Command on his war with me afterwards and was screaming if anyone had clean uniform he could change into and I could "f--k off with my crap " as he stormed away to find showers etc.

When we came back later to load the guns and spares and the engineers had a great time telling me how they hated him and it was local legend how I nailed the prick. Well, that is the gun that got him. The three guns were set in for parts for other guns and out the three I would make that one complete and sold the other two off.

Ironically the fellow who bought my tank has recently bought one and then another associate has bought the other so they have changed hands twice since I sold them.

...the fellow who bought my tank has recently bought one... Someday, if my Lottery Retirment Investment Plan plays out, I'll be able to off-hand drop a line like that!


That would look *sooooooooooo* good sitting there between the Castle flagstaffs.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 29, 2007

September 18, 2007

Speaking of the Castle...

Kat asks up in the H&I above when I'm going to move the German WWII K5 gun (or something similar) to the Castle. All I can say is, I don't have the rail spur in yet.

That doesn't mean there hasn't been some progress.

First off, Sergeant S'mudge had her first long weekend as Acting Commander of Castle Argghhh! and did just fine. All her rekeets survived, and based on their flying capabilities they demonstrated on Sunday, she drilled them while we were gone, and based on the growth, the Mess Hall was serving adequate chow.

Equally important, the Vault Door of the Arms Room of Argghhh! was delivered last Thursday, just in time to make us almost late for the plane to DC. Work on the Arms Room itself proceeds apace, this being an update from this morning - when the contractor's guys were there before 8AM.

And lastly, in partial answer to Kat's Koncerns... there *is* some firepower resident at the New Castle, as the migration continues piece by piece. We've got the close-in and medium range fires covered - we can hit anything we can see, and drop into the ravines and crevasses we can't.

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 18, 2007

September 12, 2007

The Armorer Gets Whatziss' too...

Such as this email I got yesterday.

This picture was taken in front of a former American Legion post in Key West. I have no clue what arty piece this is. No that fat guy is not Don Vitto. Just a out of shape doggy from the 1st Cav.

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To which the Armorer responded:

Daniel - that's a US Model 1902 3-inch field gun - in need of some *real* TLC.

That was our first modern field gun with a hydro-pneumatic recoil system, developed in response to out getting punched in the nose by Spanish artillery during the Span-Am War.

They never saw any combat, since they were functionally almost identical to the French 75mm, but didn't have interchangeable ammunition (3 inch is 77mm) we chose to use the 3-incher stateside for training, and the artillery troops fell in on french guns "Over There." Saved us the shipping space for both guns and ammo during the war.

The commander of that post needs to be kneed in the groin for allowing that gun to get into that condition. But that's just an old artilleryman talking.

An old artilleryman who will happily hook up his trailer and head down that way to pick that gun up and give it a good home, if the boys of the VFW aren't going to take care of it.

I was wrong in my response, too, in that I forgot they did see combat, such as it was, during the Punitive Expedition to Mexico...

Of course, it's not like we haven't been over this ground before...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 12, 2007

August 18, 2007

The Whatziss, revealed!

A Laurel, and Hearty Handshake to Old Fat Sailor and Mongo for getting it right. It is, indeed, a round for the WWI 3" Stokes mortar.

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This woulda been your next clue if we'd needed one.

But OFS and Mongo took care of it.

Interesting method of fuzing, eh? Right before you hang and drop the round, you pulled the ring, inserted the round, and let it go - the lever flipped free as it cleared the tube, and off it went.

The Stokes mortar is essentially the first modern mortar. I could write a learned treatise here, but heck, real weapons geek Bruce Canfield has already done so - if you'd like to know more about the Stokes - simply click here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 18, 2007

July 27, 2007


Hey izzit me, or are these guys older than the gun?

Union Civil War re-enactors from New York fire two-gun salutes with a Parrot rifle at the 90th anniversary celebration of Fort Dix, New Jersey, July 18.

Union Civil War re-enactors from New York fire two-gun salutes with a Parrot rifle at the 90th anniversary celebration of Fort Dix, New Jersey, July 18.

Of course, they're all younger than Bill. Even the original guns...

Of course, a gun like that would look good snuggled between the Castle flagpoles...

Hi-res available here. If you want the original (about twice the size of the higher-res one) drop me an email.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jul 27, 2007

June 26, 2007

Some gunner zen...

Firing the M777

Firing the M777


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 26, 2007

June 23, 2007

More gunner zen

This time, the breech end of the US 155mm Howitzer, M1918, a US-built version of the French Schneider 155mm gun.

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Ahhhh. Nothing like an interrupted screw breech! Somebody make Maggie an appointment with her chiropractor. That probably spun her head so fast she pulled a muscle in her neck.

This gun was our standard medium howitzer at the end of WWI, and served through to WWII, with the M1918A3 "high speed" version (which had inflatable tires, vice the hard rubber you see here) seeing combat on Guadalcanal.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 23, 2007

June 22, 2007

Time for some Gunner Zen.

Italian 210mm gun firing at night.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 22, 2007

June 2, 2007

A little gunner zen.

The Russians built themselves some interesting artillery pieces - and still do.

But the B2/B19 series of 152mm howitzers and 203mm guns have always been in my fave list.

B2 152mm howitzer.

A side view, here.

The Museum of Artillery, Engineers, and Signal Corps, in the old Arsenal in Saint Petersburg is a place I need to get to before I die.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 02, 2007

March 26, 2007

Did someone say battleship?

Oh, yeah, I did.

Yo, Salamander - Neener neener neener!

Heh. I might find apartment living tolerable if that was the view out of my balcony (there are apartments out of frame to the right).

I see the Marines just *had* to do some advertising. Undoubtedly, this is a turret that had a Marine crew.

She certainly does dominate her environment, doesn't she?

However, Nauticus (the overall museum that operates the Wisconsin) there is NO EXCUSE for this abuse of fine artillery pieces, even if they are just used as salute guns or decorations. None whatsoever. My inner gunner zen was seriously perturbed by this sight...



Then there's this - funny sculpture in Cincinnati's airport...

When pigs fly...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 26, 2007

March 10, 2007

Yesterday's Whatziss...

The Land-Locked Sailor Gun Dealer (though there is a salt-water body nearby, it simply has no outlet to the sea), John S, was correct. It is in fact the fuze train of a black-powder time fuze (in this case, French) from the 1880-1918 era. Of course, he was also wrong. Because it's been an ashtray a lot longer than it ever served as a fuze...

Anyway, a fuze much like these. In fact, the fat one on the incomplete rusty relic (second from the right) is identical.

John's description was correct - a black powder fuze train filled those grooves.

First, take a spindle. Then, add the made-from-lead spiral, like this.

Lastly, then, wrap that in a thin lead sheet or wax-paper cover (needs to be waterproof) and put a calibrated cap on it, marked with burn times, so that the cannoneer can use his awl and punch a hole corresponding to the time of flight before detonating, whether for a shrapnel shell, high-explosive air burst, or illuminating round. The way it works is - you punch the hole, load the round, fire it, and the 'blow-by' hot gases when the round exits the muzzle ignite the fuze train. usually. Not always, especially if you are firing lower charges. Lastly, wrap it in a thin lead sheet to water proof the whole shebang until needed. Yes, this would be an *added* lead sheath - like this.

Or, you could remove the powder, take off the cap and powder train, invert them, stack 'em on the spindle, put a screw through it to hold 'em in place, and you could make a souvenir of service trench art ashtray out of it.

Like the one that sits on the Militaria Bar of Argghhh!...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 10, 2007

February 16, 2007

It's Black History Month... let's note that in a typical Armorer fashion.

African-American Artillerymen in WWII

The history of the Armed Services relationship with African Americans is generally not one of which to be proud. We've come a long way since Truman told us to shut up and integrate, and there is always room for improvement now, as, despite protestations to the contrary, initial entry troops are reflective of society in general, if perhaps not it's most *koff* elite elements.

I remember real tensions in the Europe during the 60's and early 70's, and ghosts still rippling through when I was a Lieutenant in the 80's. And I'm not so naive as to think it doesn't still exist - but we're a pretty tough meritocracy compared to most other sub-cultures.

I have nothing but love and respect for soldiers. But I'll admit I have a smidge more for soldiers who ruck up and move out and fight while having to take fire from their own side. Theirs is a special dedication that springs from the same well the bonds of all good soldiery - but are forged in a greater heat with a heavier hammer.

Such as these 7 soldiers from WWII.

Maj. Charles L. Thomas, of Detroit

First Lt. John R. Fox, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Staff Sgt. Ruben Rivers, of Oklahoma City, Okla.

Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter Jr., of Los Angeles

Pfc. Willy F. James Jr., of Kansas City, Mo.

Pvt. George Watson, of Birmingham, Ala.

1LT James Baker of St Maries, Idaho.

Since I know many people don't click through on the links - I'm excerpting the ARNEWs article on the awarding these soldiers Medals of Honor in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry. It's old news, from 1997, but that doesn't matter. It's never too late to honor heroes.

A machine gun crew of Co. A, 24th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, turns its gun on Chinese Communists in a village across the Han River from Songnimbong, Korea. 21 February 1951. (Signal Corps Photo #358634)

A machine gun crew of Co. A, 24th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, turns its gun on Chinese Communists in a village across the Han River from Songnimbong, Korea. 21 February 1951. (Signal Corps Photo #358634)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 16, 2007

February 13, 2007

Wrapping up that 38cm German gun.

Loading operations for the 38cm gun

Bill said it was a railway gun. I said it wasn't. We're both right. It was moved by rail (how else, especially back in the day?) but was assembled into a purpose-built emplacement. The emplacement was concrete, and took weeks to construct. They were substantial enough that they still exist. [Interesting article on several large german guns here.] There was a central pintle for the gun (which answers Trias' question about training the gun for direction) and, as can be seen in the picture above, used little railcars to move the projectiles and powder from the preparation site to the gun proper, where they were hoisted to the firing deck by means of the crane.

Loading the 38cm gun.

Just take a look at the number of men it took to crew these guns - and wonder if those things weren't resources better used elsewhere. And obviously, not a weapon of maneuver warfare. Of course, it's a lesson the Germans didn't take to heart, what with the Dora 80cm gun they used (for, oh, 45 rounds or so) during WWII. The one that took 2000 men to crew and 26 trainloads to move around, and two weeks to assemble. And shot 45 rounds...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 13, 2007

February 12, 2007

More Gunner's Zen, Large German Cannon edition.

German 38cm gun going into position.  This gun shelled Verdun and Dunkirk.

German 38cm gun going into position. This gun shelled Verdun and Dunkirk. It's a naval gun, one a railway carriage, which was railed into position and then emplaced in a circular pit, where it could pivot to fire on different targets.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 12, 2007

February 10, 2007

A little Gunner zen...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 10, 2007

January 23, 2007

The Whatziss Iss A *WHAT*?!?

If you've perused the comments on the latest Whatziss, you might think that *somebody* in that talent lineup (Maggie, Will the Sea Scout, AFSis, John) would have nailed it.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm -- no. Several in the "Close, but no cigar" category, though. It's an anti-tank gun, but not a 37mm (?!?) or a 90mm or an 8-incher (!!!). I won't keep you in suspense (hold the applause, please-and-thank-you) any longer -- meet the T-128 75mm anti-tank gun.
Left side view of the T-128, which is a dead giveaway for anybody familiar with the T-128. Which doesn’t even include the people who made the thing…

Right after the Korean War cranked up, US troops were tossed at the NORK advance as speed bumps. They promptly discovered that the only effect their (very few) anti-tank weapons had on the T-34s rolling their way was to chip the paint.

The home front rolled into action to produce a more effective anti-tank gun

Disregarding the Wehrmacht's seminal "Lessons Learned: The Futility of Engaging the Frontal Portion of a Farkin' T-34 with Anything Smaller than an 8.8cm Dual-Purpose Gun" -- Like, Say, with a 7.5cm Popgun...", Rock Island Arsenal mounted a -- you guessed it, 75mm -- high-velocity gun on a 76mm recoil cradle and carriage.

Initial production for the testbed guns began in late 1950 and halted shortly thereafter because someone figured you could manufacture a hundred 3.5" rocket launchers, train a hundred 3.5" rocket launcher teams and purchase each team a hundred 3.5" rockets for about the same cost as the gun.

Based on the manufacturing date (1950) and the serial number on both the recoil mechanism's cradle
Yup. Serial number two…

and the gun carriage
Yup. There's that serial number two again…

I'd hazard the guess that the T-128 is extinct in the wild. 'Specially since neither Google nor the Rock Island Arsenal Museum even refer to it in passing. Hey! I'll betcha we'll be number one in Google for "T-128 Anti-Tank Gun" one of these days...

Sanger figured the gun shield east of the T-128 belonged to a field gun. Okay -- *which* particular field gun izzit?
*Not* an 8-incher…

Yeeee-hah, the Great Rolling Whatziss Contest has commenced...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by CW4BillT on Jan 23, 2007
MilBlogs links with: ATTN Military Hardware Geeks.

January 21, 2007

I've got a new skillset for my resume - and a whatziss!

Antique Ordnance Restoration Expert.

Heh. *That* oughta jump right out at all those Fortune 500-type recruiters…

A couple of the guys from the State Militia Museum found out I was "between jobs" and dragooned me into doing a li'l pro bono work. Okay, okay, a * lot* of pro bono work. They made me the Aviation SME and have me working on everything save things that slip the surly bonds of earth. Well, for a couple of months, I kept telling myself, I should'a brought my camera – the kids would love this stuff. Today, I did.

I'll post my latest project sometime this week; I sure as hell hope b'lieve it'll be finished by Friday…

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Meantime, a minute portion of what I'm currently involved with is returning what's left of one of our three French 75s to its original state. This one came back to the US after the War to End All Wars and, sometime in the mid 1930s, was upgraded, modernized and modified with a more offroad-friendly carriage. Heh. You wouldn't believe where we found a bunch of OEM parts for it… [Armorer's note - I believe this is in fact a M1905 3 inch gun, which saw combat in the Punitive Expedition, but never left the US during WWI. Having been loosely patterned on the French M1897 75mm, it is often mistaken for one. What *is* unique about this one - it's the first one I've seen modified to a high-speed (i.e., faster'n a team of horses) towing configuration. I've asked Bill to check the data plates on the gun.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The caisson here is an oddball. I separated the layers of a paint chip with a razor blade and the first coat that was slapped over the primer was good ol' Desert Sand Yellow. In 1907.

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Heh -- a hundred years ago, the Army in the West was painting stuff the same exact color as the stuff used by the Army in the East today. Sooooo, that's the color it got after the major repair work. Only difference is that there's no lead in this tintage.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Got all kinds of goodies in the scrap heap restoration yard (even more in the museum proper), including some things you don't often see. Like this --


Okay, all you Field Artillery types, Whadizzit?

No, guys, it's the #82-lookin' thingy in the center, not the Jeep or the Reckless Rifle. My stuff is a lot easier to figger out than John's, but I'm not gonna hand you the answer on a silver platter.

Oh, stop whining. Here's a side view, too.

C'mon, quite stalling.  Whatizzit?

Heh. Like Captain H sez, "Context is everything." I'll be back later.

Ummmmmm -- don't let WK and Maggie drag the comments too far afield…

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by CW4BillT on Jan 21, 2007
MilBlogs links with: ATTN Military Hardware Geeks.

January 7, 2007

Thinking outside the box.

The Russians have always been a fan of artillery. And they've been pretty competent users of it, as well.

They also think differently from us, and take novel approaches to things. There's some pictures of a putative new Russian artillery piece making the rounds, and it's shown up in my email box a couple of times.

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It looks to be a derivative of this SP artillery piece, the 2S19 "Mstas".

Artillery by Beretta... this thing, called 'Koalitcia-SV', or Coalition, hit the web over at the Cannon, Machine Guns and Ammunition website (which is a treasure trove of stuff, btw).

Murdoc noticed it last week, and the comments over at Strategy Page harbor some sceptics.

Interesting concept. Over and under 152mm cannon. They definitely aren't worried about trans-global power projection with this puppy - unless they're driving. However, the reinforcing plates on the travel lock (that gizmo that is framing the driver in the pic above) looks like it would really restrict the drivers vision to the corners - which could be an issue driving through urban areas. But, mebbe not. Of course, being a continental power, like Germany was, and not a sea power like the US and Great Britain, they've been more prone to this sort of thing anyway. Take this example... the Tsar Tank.

Tsar Tank

The Tsar Tank was designed and built in 1915. It was one of the largest attempts at tank-building during the war, reputedly weighing in at a lean(!) 40 tons. In comparison, the Brit Marks I-IV of the 1st World War weighed in at a sprightly 28 tons. The German A7V weighed around 33 tons. The French St. Chamond weighed 22 tons, while the other major large French tank, the Schneider, came in at 14 tons. It wasn't until the Mark VIIs, the "Liberty" tanksjointly designed by the Brits and US did anyone else approach the 40 ton mark that I'm aware of (but who knows, lots of people were tinkering back in the day). This sucker had two huge wheels each driven by it's own 250 hp motor. It had two small wheels in the rear. Some sources suggest the guns were placed outside the wheels, others suggest that machine guns in the small turret were all the armament. I've never seen a photo or drawing showing weapons on this baby - they may have realized what a clunker it was before they bothered. Two prototypes were made but they proved unable to handle mud (I can't imagine crossing a shell-pocked battlefield in one of these) and high costs caused the project to be cancelled, mercifully, in 1916. These photos show a partially scrapped vehicle without wheels in the rear. The last of the two was dismantled for scrap in 1923.

Then there is this puppy, the Object 279.

Object 279 Heavy Tank at Kubinka

In 1957 the Russians developed a prototype of a new heavy tank. Take a look at that body and those quad tracks. It was intended to lower the ground pressure of this vehicle, to give it better cross-country mobility in soft ground. I'm sure if it had ever made it into service, crews would have hated it. Twice the track to break. The hull was intended to protecting it against HEAT ammunition by deflecting the rounds. Putatively this shape would also assist in preventing the vehicle from being overturned by a tactical nuke blast. I'm sceptical of that, but... hey, maybe they did the modeling. It was canceled by Khruschev in favor of his preference - missile tanks. I believe they built two of these - the survivor is at the Tank Museum in Kubinka, near Moscow. That's one museum I want to get to. [note to self, lottery tickets]

Not that the US and Britain didn't have their own behemoths, mind you. The Brits built the Tortoise. Intended to kill tanks and help fight through the Siegfried line.

We built the T28/T95.

T28/T95 Super Heavy Tank

This sucker had removeable outer tracks, which could be towed behind the vehicle so it would be able to cross narrow bridges in Europe. Also intended for breaching the Siegfried Line, we only built two before cancelling the project, and the survivor today sits outside the Patton Armor Museum at Fort Knox.

T28 at the Patton Armor Museum, Fort Knox.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 07, 2007

December 26, 2006

Time for a little Gunner Zen

Canadian Gun Bunnies in the 'Stan.

AR2006-G068-0021 11 December 2006 Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan</p>

<p>A Gun crew of the 2 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (2 RCHA) fire their M777 artillery gun during a fire mission at Forward Operating Base Sperwan Ghar. You could see the projectile flying throught the air at the end of the barrel.</p>

<p>Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) is Canada's contribution to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The focus of this mission is to help Afghans rebuild their lives, families, communities and nation.  Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan are working to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a more secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.</p>

<p>The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,500 soldiers, most of who serve in Kandahar province with a smaller number of personnel assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.</p>

<p>Photo by: MCpl Yves GemusJoint Task Force Afghanistan Roto 2, Imagery Technician<br />

AR2006-G068-0021 11 December 2006 Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan

A Gun crew of the 2 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (2 RCHA) fire their M777 artillery gun during a fire mission at Forward Operating Base Sperwan Ghar. You could see the projectile flying throught the air at the end of the barrel.

Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) is Canada's contribution to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The focus of this mission is to help Afghans rebuild their lives, families, communities and nation. Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan are working to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a more secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.

The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,500 soldiers, most of who serve in Kandahar province with a smaller number of personnel assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.

Photo by: MCpl Yves GemusJoint Task Force Afghanistan Roto 2, Imagery Technician

Interesting difference between the two Armies. If I had a gun position where my gun dogs were serving the piece and *NOT* wearing their helmets, I'd have been relieved.

Near as I can tell, in the Canadian Artillery - if you wear a helmet near the guns, your boss will get relieved...

Y'know, back some years ago, when I went to the Canadian Immigration website, one of the skills that would get you entry was... artillery officer.

The RCHA is starting to look tempting...

And they're getting more new kit.

H/t, Damian, the Babbling Brooks.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 26, 2006

December 11, 2006

Chicken Soup for The Armorer's Soul.

The broadside of the USS Constitution. A sight that was the last sight for many a sailor and ship, starting with HMS Guerriere.

The carronades on her upper deck. (Note the period battle lantern!) I see the sponges aren't stored on the exposed deck, just the worms. Without shafts. Hey, if you understood that, we're prolly kindred spirits!

Her broadside guns from the crew's perspective - with some people for scale.

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CDR Salamander needs to get his name on this board. So we can score an invite to sail on one of her harbor cruises! Feh on your career progression, Salamander! I wanna sail on this ship!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 11, 2006

December 8, 2006

On the issue of whether to let officers be in charge of procurement or not...

...better known as the "Answer to the Whatziss" posed earlier this week.

Also known as the dangers of a college education.

This one.

The Great and Powerful Og got it right, as did Rick and Rod - it's a gauge. Pogue sorta fell into my visual trap (I figured people would try to find it to be a fuze) and stumbled into the answer backwards.

It's a gauge used to check fuze setters. It's post-WWII Brit, though the US has equivalents.

Gauge, Testing, Fuze Setter No 1

In use, looking sorta like this.

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Expensive piece of kit, when procured, I don't doubt. It's made of tough stuff so that it can handle the use and still maintain it's dimensional integrity and accuracy.

So what's this got to do with the title of the post, you ask? Simple.

But you'll need to go to the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry to find out.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 08, 2006

December 1, 2006

A post for me.

Gun dogs doing what gun dogs like doing best... shooting!

Marine crew during Desert Storm firing their M198 155mm howitzer.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 01, 2006

November 27, 2006

Ewwww. All that politics.

We need an eye cleanser.

How about some Canadian artillery in WWI?

Canadian artillery firing in WWI.

Yeah, that works.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 27, 2006

November 25, 2006

A little Gunner Zen.

US 6inch Coast Defense gun.

6 inch coast defense gun. Anybody know where it's located?

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 25, 2006
Righty in a Lefty State links with: The Cannon in Woodland Park

November 10, 2006

Maybe I should start dealing in arms...

CAPT H sends us a link to this article on

Excalibur 155mm Unitary Round

Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each Updated Thu. Nov. 9 2006 11:09 PM ET

The Canadian Forces are investing in a new high-tech shell to be used in Afghanistan. But at $150,000 per round, it could be the most expensive ammunition ever fired by the military.

"It's like shooting a Ferrari every time you use one of these things," Steve Staples of the Polaris Institute told CTV News on Thursday.

"These are incredibly expensive weapons. And really, it's overkill for the kind of mission we're doing."

What caught my eye was the price tag. Last I saw on Excalibur was $220K a pop, with a hope for full-rate production to drive it down to $33K (pretty optimistic based on past experience). I did some checking, and $150K is in the neighborhood. What really caught my eye was this:

But the Excalibur costs roughly $100,000 more than a regular shell, and critics like New Democratic MP Dawn Black argue the extra money would be better spent on reconstruction projects.

Heh. Just what is a "regular" projectile to these people? Last I saw a price, oh, 2003 or so, a standard 155mm HE went for $240 w/o fuze. I did some digging, and I found some pricing for some stuff in the works, usually a form of special fuze or add-on guidance package that can go as high as $20K for some long-range navy stuff in the works.

Well, gosh! I've got inventory in the basement I'll let go for, oh, shucks, $15K each, delivered! And I've got some friends with inventory, too.

The problem is that the article, written by someone who doesn't know much about the subject, I'm guessing, implies that that cost is a standard cost for artillery ammo, which it isn't - at least not currently. Shoot, a GMLRS round only costs $65K per light-off... hmmmmm.

Anyway, for a more Canadian view of this topic, I recommend Damian's post at The Torch.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 10, 2006
Murdoc Online links with: Friday Linkzookery - 10 Nov 2006
Murdoc Online links with: Friday Linkzookery - 10 Nov 2006

November 4, 2006

The Whatziss, answered.

Here's the original question.

Blacker Bombard manual

Why'd I say your first instinct is probably wrong? Because your first instinct was most likely to be rifle grenade or bazooka round. Bazooka round woulda been sorta close - and those who submitted PIAT were actually on the right track - of course if you'd said M16 Priest Mortar round, you would also have been on the right track.

The right track being... spigot. In this case, the Blacker Bombard, intended to stop invading Germans...

I told you prior to 1945 to save you searching a lot of rifle grenades or rockets.

The colors are... British, though there's lots of flexibility, even in brit markings.

The Red Herring clue was the UAV. Made by BOMBARDier of Canada (hence the Canadian reader names... which were also a clue to help you find that UAV...). The second clue - was of a Blacker Bombard emplacement.

There were two types of round, a smaller, 14 pound, longer-ranged (about 450-50 meters) anti-personnel round, and the larger, 20 pound, much shorter ranged (about 120 meters) anti-tank round. They used black powder as a propellant. It would have taken much courage to fight tanks with that sucker from fixed positions like that.

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 04, 2006

October 31, 2006

A moment of gunner zen.

Brit gun at Fort Bayard, Capetown

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 31, 2006

October 25, 2006

Hard to believe...

...I actually got *paid* to do stuff like this once...

319th FA in a sandstorm

A little service of the piece...

320th FA at Karbala

Leading to, "Shot, over!"

As Frank adds: Leading to "Splash, over!"

Which ends with... "Splash, out!"

105mm fires impacting near Moway House during a firepower demo at Fort Sill, Ok.   Blockhouse Signal Mountain (ah, nostalgia) in background.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 25, 2006

October 19, 2006

Army Captions... gotta love 'em.

Like the one for this pic, f'rinstance - of an MLRS launcher in Korea... which was possibly "ripple-firing" (i.e., multiple launches) during this exercise.

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M270 A-1 launchers fired ripper rockets at pre-determined impact zones during a bi-annual live fire excercise by troops from 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment recently.

Despite CAPT H's (and other's) protestations to the contrary, we never fire them at *random* impact zones...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 19, 2006

October 11, 2006

Gad, the irony in this...

...on sooo many levels.

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 11, 2006

October 3, 2006

Artillery in the news.

FCS-NLOS-C... silly name. All part of the "breaking thought patterns" push in the Transfomation effort, where we call things by essentially made-up names so that we putatively think about them differently. The same operating paradigm that gave us "UEx" and "UEy" and "UA" so that we wouldn't slot things into Corps, Divsion, Brigade, but instead think of them as Units of Employment x and y and Unit of Action.

So, we couldn't call a cannon a cannon, either. Or artillery. No, it was Future Combat System Non-Line-Of-Sight-Cannon. This would distinguish it from... Line-of-Sight cannons, which were direct fire systems. Of course, then we were also talking about LOS's that would also have a NLOS mode...

Anyway, that's my world. In meatspace we know have this, from those people at BAE, British Aerospace and Electric, who appear to be the artillery supplier to the free world, no real players in the US anymore, the tube-makers at Watervliet notwithstanding.

Army takes delivery of Cannon firing platform for FCS Manned Ground Vehicles Printer-friendly version E-mail this article E-mail Alerts RSS Feed WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 29, 2006) The Army today took delivery of the firing platform for a new cannon artillery system that will reduce battlefield risk to Soldiers, while meeting an essential Army modernization requirement.

The firing platform was unveiled at BAE Systems Land and Armaments division in Minneapolis and will be transferred this month to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona for field testing. The firing platform is part of the Armys new Future Combat Systems Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon artillery system.

The Armys future force is fast becoming a reality today, said Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright, Future Combat Systems program manager. This latest piece of hardware is tangible proof that FCS technologies are maturing on schedule, in accordance with Army plans and expectations. The true beneficiaries of these new capabilities will be our Soldiers.

Future Combat Systems is the Armys primary modernization program, and is the Armys first major modernization in almost four decades. Future Combat Systems will provide Soldiers with near real-time situational awareness by using an advanced electronic network to integrate 18 new manned and unmanned air and ground systems. Future Combat Systems will increase the ability of Soldiers to handle the variety of missions they face every day, provide greater protection, and increase combat capabilities throughout the operational force.

Soldiers are already testing and fielding components of Future Combat Systems right now in Iraq and Afghanistan; and next year, Soldiers of the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team will begin testing FCS technologies and tactics at Fort Bliss, Texas. The plan calls for 15 Brigade Combat Teams with the full suite of Future Combat Systems; and all other Brigade Combat Teams having some Future Combat Systems capabilities.

The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon will give the Army a key capability that it currently lacks: a cannon artillery system that is fully automated, highly mobile, and capable of launching multiple rounds precisely on target simultaneously. Moreover, unlike the Armys current artillery systems, the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon will be fully integrated into an advanced electronic network shared by Soldiers on the battlefield. This will make the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon much more responsive to Soldier mission requirements.

The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon also will help to minimize Soldier risk; because it will be much more mobile and deployable than the Armys current-day artillery systems, which employ 1960s-era design technology. Reducing risk is a huge dividend of Future Combat Systems technology overall. Providing Soldiers with near real time situational awareness before they encounter potentially risky or deadly situations will save Soldiers lives. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle will identify for Soldiers if theres a sniper in the next alleyway or cavern. An Unmanned Ground Vehicle will help to dispose of an IED or roadside bomb.

The firing platform unveiled today will lead to delivery of early Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon prototypes in 2008. The early prototype Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon is the first of eight Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles.

The Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles will have 75-80 percent commonality stemming from a common chassis and other common components. These common components include a lightweight band track and a hybrid-electric propulsion system, which maximizes power and fuel efficiency. The Manned Ground Vehicles will be at least as survivable as current Army vehicles and, in most likely operational scenarios, considerably more survivable and capable than anything now in the Armys inventory.

The Army already has fired more than 2,000 rounds from the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon System Demonstrator at Yuma. The firing platform unveiled today includes a cannon assembly that is 1,200 pounds lighter than the M777 cannon used on the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon Concept Technology Demonstrator.

Technological advances are enabling our Army to achieve greater capabilities with less mass and weight, Cartwright said. Future Combat Systems is about making our Army more agile and more strategically deployable, while increasing lethality, survivability and tactical mobility. The Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon is an integral part of our Army modernization efforts.

There's a video that is essentially impossible to link to. Let's just say I predict a maintenance nightmare with all the autoloading systems.

But the "lightness" fetishists are getting their dream with this one.

Update (for JimB especially): Don't confuse the cancelled Crusader with NLOS-C:

Essentially, we've stuck the M777 ULFH (Ultra Light Field Howitzer, a brit-designed gun) on a light tracked chassis, and added robotics to reduce crew size.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 03, 2006

September 12, 2006

I lurve you guys! But...

Looky what an anonymous Castle reader sent the Armorer...

Empress Little Girl the First with a new addition to the Artillery Park of Argghhh!!!

No, not the Empress, who has reigned at the Castle for 14 years. No, not the Throne, that's a February addition to the Library of Argghhh!!! - the replica (but shootable) black powder mortar.

We are very grateful to the anonymous donor! But... if anyone is thinking about sending a post-1898 cartridge firearm to the Castle, do please check with me, so that proper paperwork and legal niceties can be observed! And make sure any and all ordnance items that were once capable of self-powered flight, or had any significant chemical (or radiological, heh) energy components - don't.

The Armorer loves surprises. But not explosive or rocket-powered ones.

If I've seemed a bit distracted of late, there's a reason. The press of business and life. Need proof?

This is how far behind on my reading I am. I would note, for those who accuse me of blind neoconism (heh), the list (which is listing...) is probably a touch more eclectic than you would expect. Just sayin'.

Oh, and if someone has a nice hunk of oak from which to make a bed for the mortar... well, you can send *that* along, no problem!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 12, 2006

September 8, 2006

Heh. Different strokes for different folks.

Otay. When we went to Afghanistan about the only artillery we took was mortars and 105's. I know we eventually sent M198 towed 155's. I don't believe we ever sent Paladin or any other M109 variant. Well, there *were* a lot of Flying Expedited Delivery of EXplosives services available...

Because... well, gee, they're too heavy, not nimble, expensive, etc.

A Netherlander Howitzer 2000 is fastened to the floor of a C-17 Globemaster III at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 6. The 60-ton tank (It's not a friggin' tank, it's a howitzer, nimrods!)  will be flown to Afghanistan on board a C-17 from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Lasky)

A Netherlander Howitzer 2000 is fastened to the floor of a C-17 Globemaster III at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 6. The 60-ton tank will be flown to Afghanistan on board a C-17 from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Lasky)


So, here's a Dutch Panzerhaubitze 2000 (the turret will make CDR Salamander salivate), flying to Afstan. A Dutch howitzer that looks a lot like the cancelled Crusader... Nope - not reopening the Crusader argument! Just... bemused.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 08, 2006

August 25, 2006

The whatziss, answered.

This was a toughie. But y'all had fun with it, for sure.

It didn't help that the references that existed for it (sparse that they were)... are no longer available, a photo archive having been removed.

Aasen spigot mortar round - based on the Type C grenade?

It's a very obscure WWI spigot mortar round. Possibly French, possibly Belgian... possibly even Italian. No one seems to know for sure - or whoever does, isn't sharing that info on the web, and it's buried in the dusty stacks of a library somewhere.

The Castle actually possesses a spigot mortar, in the form of the German Granatenwerfer 16. We actually have two representatives of the genre, though the second is more properly termed a spigot launcher I suppose, being mostly intended for direct fire - the PIAT. You could have logically gone down that path, given what the PIAT rounds look like in comparison to the Whatziss. Doug did conjure up the Blacker Bombard.

The whatziss is generally considered to be an Aasen Type C grenade, modified to be launched from a spigot mortar, instead of thrown by hand.

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Designed by Nils Aasen - who is generally considered one of the fathers of the modern hand grenade.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 25, 2006

August 22, 2006


A press release detailing the Army's effort to continually refine (and keep tactically relevant) the artillery inventory. A subject of some discussion around here of late.

Successful Testing of GPS-Guided Artillery Projectile Puts Raytheon-BAE Systems Bofors Excalibur Closer to Fielding (Source: Raytheon Co.; issued Aug. 18; 2006)

TUCSON, Ariz. --- The Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team successfully test-fired two global positioning system (GPS)-guided 155 mm artillery projectiles that functioned as intended against simulated tactical targets Aug. 10. The program is a cooperative effort between the United States and Sweden.

These firings represent completion of the "Guided Gunfire B" (GGB) test series that validates system performance of tactical rounds under a variety of conditions.

"Having completed this phase of testing, we are on track for fielding Excalibur to meet the urgent need of our deployed ground forces for a cannon-delivered precision munition," said Army Col. John Tanzi, Training and Doctrine Command System, manager-cannon.

Heh. I knew John Tanzi, back in the day. The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 22, 2006

August 18, 2006

The Answer to the Whatzis.

Eric finally got it. It's the "glasflasche" or glass bottle, that contained the "clark" poison gas in a German WWI 77mm shell.

Like in this picture.

German 77mm Blaukreuz poison gas round

Congrats to working your way through the problem. Of course, it was an *easy* one for this collection of geeks!

And no, I am *not* the John who posted it on Gunboards.

For more information on the subject - read the document that finally pulled it together for Eric.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 18, 2006

Answering the mail, part 3.

Target attack criteria, bad choices in.

I've already had this discussion in the comments of my two previous posts on artillery this week, but it won't go away, so I'll bring it to the front.

Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee (who got me the trip to Mexico to retrieve the Rodgers, may his tribe increase!) sent me this link, wanting to know if, in fact, this was a cluster bomblet.

It isn't, in a narrow technical sense. But before we rush off to crow about inaccuracy in the media, let's take a break. That is an M80 M42 [good catch from an otherwise pointlessly rude commenter - the M80 has a self-destruct mechanism - and one is being retrofitted to the M42/48 series of grenades. -the Armorer] Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition. While not from a cluster bomb, it *is* from an artillery round. I'm familiar with the round, and it's contents, these being held in Castle stocks in their inert form.

<s>M80</s> M42 submunitions

If the Israelis were shooting DPICM into inhabited areas, they are open to just criticism of their fire orders.

Bad decision on the part of whoever made the call to shoot DPICM. If you are shooting DPICM, you are automatically creating a low-density minefield, due to the dud rate (officially 2-4% depending on the conditions in the target area) of the submunition.

I can see an argument being made by the Israelis that in fact, there is less collateral damage than if you shoot HE at a target in an urban area. Perhaps, depending on construction of the buildings - but HE has a much lower dud rate (nothing is perfect), the effects are over after it hits, and there is no lingering explosive package awaiting discovery by children. And an unexploded HE shell is a lot harder to pick up than a DPICM submunition.

Recording your targets... I don't expect this to happen - but the Israelis should also share their mission fired reports with the Lebanese government, so that EOD can go clear areas targeted with DPICM.

It's just not a good shell for attacking areas that are/will be occupied by non-combatants or OWN TROOPS. The use of dud-producing munitions such as DPICM during Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003 caused maneuver problems for the Marines, and caused lingering casualties among Marines and civilians in those areas after operations were ended. This may have been true for Army units as well, I don't have any info on that. Target attack decisions have to be made with cognizance of subsequent operations and events. I know we used to train this with Fire Support Officers back in the day - I assume we still do. I discussed some of that in my post yesterday.

Mind you - if Hezbollah didn't *shoot* from inhabited areas, the Israelis would have had less reason to shoot back into inhabited areas, too.

While I don't support the Israeli choice of ammuntion, I do support their right to shoot back. And find it disingenuous that most of the whining is about what the Israelis shot, and not equally about wherefrom Hezbollah shot.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 18, 2006

August 16, 2006

Answering the mail.

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Nicholas, from Smell of Freedom, asked this question in a comment on one of yesterday's posts:

Sorry for being off topic, but I'd like to ask an artillery expert a question as google has drawn a blank.

I noticed some terrorist sympathizers making statements like "Israeli artillery is so inaccurate, it's only useful for attacking whole towns, thus they are effectively terrorists".

Now, I don't think anyone would bother using artillery if it were that inaccurate. Can 155mm artillery reasonably be used for counter-battery fire against targets like rocket launchers or infantry hiding in buildings and expect to hit where it counts? How discriminate is it?

I don't expect they're firing at maximum range. But probably nowhere near minimum either. I understand they've upgraded the American artillery they are using. What kind of accuracy figures would you expect?

Thanks, I'm looking forward to hearing from someone who actually knows what they're talking about.

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Well, lessee. That sounds like someone talking out of the well of deep ignorance, parroting what they've heard elsewhere. (Happens 'round here, too.) After all, that *is* true of Hezbollah artillery, so it must be true of Israeli, right?

The M109-series guns the Israelis are using are designed to be able to hit within 0-20 meters of their aimpoint under standard conditions, using standard (i.e., High Explosive) projectiles.

That requires that you have accurate surveyed (i.e., 8 digit UTM grid) location of both your gun and your target, including the altitude difference, and that you are following the basic steps of good gunnery, which the Israelis I'm sure are. For example, in the picture below of an Israeli M109 howitzer, you notice the smallish box at the base of the cannon? That's a radar chronograph - the fire control system monitors the muzzle velocity of every round fired, and automatically adjusts the firing solution to account for bore wear. If it detects large variations in muzzle velocity from previous rounds, the system will then alert the crew to check to ensure they have current data for things like propellant temperature and projectile weight, and that their ram is functioning properly to seat the round.

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They might be going so far as to be tracking their rounds with radar, but I suspect most, if not all, the counter-fire radars are being used to find Hezbollah's stuff.

The greatest component of error for the Israelis would be the target location. However, if they're using military GPS and laser rangefinders - or have accurate maps of the right scale, they can get sufficiently accurate target location. Another consideration in urban combat are tall adjacent buildings. Depending on the gun-target orientation and intervening buildings, getting to any specific target might be a challenge - low-lying buildings, not so much. You can shift to high-angle fire to try to get around that, but high-angle fires are not as accurate, especially if winds aloft are not supernaturally consistent. It's usually better to just shift to a gun that has a better angle to the target, that avoids the intervening buildings, if possible.

If they are using terminally guided or GPS-guided munitions, they can hit point targets. I've done it, and under combat conditions, it's not hard to do unless the bad guys are shooting uncomfortably close, and even then the round is going to be close.

Mortars, absent precision ammunition (which exists and the Israelis have) are a bit more problematic, but we're talking artillery.

Rockets, it depends. The Katyusha-style unguided rockets are area weapons. You orient the launch rails so they are pointing in the direction you want the rockets to go, you set the quadrant elevation to achieve the *general* range you want, and you let fly - and hope that you get your target by saturation. Hamas and Hezbollah have the capacity to build their own rockets - but their motors are not consistent from rocket to rocket - much less so than the more professionally-produced versions the Iranians supply - but these rockets are pure area-fire weapons.

If you are shooting single rockets, you're just hoping that you get lucky. That's what Hezbollah has been firing. They do sometimes volley fire them, but they don't fire too many at once or the launcher gets detected, which is usually the end of the launcher and if we're lucky, the crew, too. For the most part, however, the crews launch remotely, so that they don't get killed if the launcher gets hit. Not that training a Katyusha crew is a hugely time-consuming task. One reason the Russians invented them and people like Hezbollah like them.

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 16, 2006

August 8, 2006

Okay - enough teasing on the Whatzis from Sunday.

I just left you guys hanging yesterday, in order to give the "I only read Argghhh! from work" guys a chance at the Whatzis.

You really did pretty well. Owen got it quickly, and Captain H went a step further and emailed a link (chicken - won't post openly...) to a write up. They were the first to get it. And, speaking of that, CAPT H - upon further review, I withdraw my statement about this shell being Brit (as I was informed by the guy I bought it from) it *is* the French version of Armstrong's studded projectile.

Oh - and that *was* a shadow guys, not a notch, in the pic. That was just an artifact of taking the picture, not a deliberate attempt to mislead. This time. Owen - your size referent is... 3 inches. That's the nominal caliber. Some sources say 3.3, but that would include the studs, at least in my example.

Studded artillery projectile

Zinc, not a lead or copper stud - which strongly argues for it being french and not Brit.

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This was an early method of rifling artillery - if you notice, the studs are slightly offset, and the studs themselves actually have a direction - the shell was fitted into deep grooves and rammed home. It worked well enough when the guns were new, and not badly fouled from firing... but it also only worked well with black powder. When more powerful propellants were used, the friction inherent in this process was too great and the studs just sheared off, and the flight of the projectile was unpredictable.

But with the acquisition of this piece, the artillery collection has representative examples of most major varieties of imparting a spin to the projectile. Now if I could only find an affordable shell with an *intact* papier mach sabot...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 08, 2006

August 3, 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!

by John on Aug 03, 2006

July 5, 2006

The Guns of Argghhh!

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The Guns of Argghhh are silent now, just as the guns at Gettysburg fell silent, though it was a *lot* more fun here and there was alcohol involved (in safe amounts).

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Much powder (and a little tequila) were consumed in the making of this post.

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There might have been some bugs killed by the aerial bursts. I hope so, anyway. But otherwise, no mammals or non-flying bugs were harmed in the making of last evening.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jul 05, 2006

June 22, 2006

Well, since I'm obviously writing the Indirect Fire posts for myself...

...we'll just skip today's planned discussion:

M2 60mm Mortar in the holdings of the Arsenal of Argghhh!, sitting in the Inner Bailey of Castle Argghhh!

And move on to this.

All right, smarty-pants - you know who you are - what's this?

You won't get this one in a million years.

I think you guys need a hint. You can play, Master Pogue - as noted in the comments... who said this is an Indirect Fire artifact? Of course, who says it isn't..

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 22, 2006

June 21, 2006

Continuing the theme.

US Collimator, M1, seen through the howitzer sight

Mr. Pogue can no longer play in this round. He's too good!

MajMike gave me a start, when he started out with "collimating valometer..."

If he'd just substituted sight or instrument for valometer, he'd have been the winnah!

But Pogue got it mostly correct. A collimator. He said an early one, but it's actually the current Russian one (though this particular one was made in the Soviet era.) With guys like Pogue playing, and Frank, you'll understand why I didn't put up this picture. Of a US collimator. That would have been waaaay too easy for US Redlegs to get.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the theme this week (and into the next if it takes that long) is "Indirect Fire, How *Do* They Do That!?!" We're introducing most of the major components to get us there from the perspective of the guns. We've already met the Aiming Circle, used to "establish a common direction" i.e., get everybody pointing in the same direction. There are three components to that at the gun level. The aiming circle, the panoramic telescope (the gun's sight) and the Distant Aiming Point.

Let's face it. Infantry sucks. They have rifles, machine guns, hand grenades, and sometimes they stick sharp pointy things on their rifles (we know my problem with *that*!), and alla time they are wanting to sulkily sit around on terrain you'd just as soon they not squat on. They're uncouth, foul-mouthed, and smelly. And generally pissed off. But, if you want to keep them off your terrain, or get back the terrain they already befoul, you've got to deal with them, like any other pest.

But there's no need to actually get *near* them to do this. That's what your own infantry is for. No, you don't want to get near that many troglodytes all crammed into a small space - but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some nice target shooting. From a distance. With a terrain feature between you and them. Unlike the other arms (whom we love like brothers, I assure you) we artillerymen can actually hit things we can't see, and generally on purpose, too. Oh, sometimes we miss, but that's usually because a Lieutenant, of almost any branch, is involved. And besides, if they're tankers, who cares? That's what 'open protective' is for, right?

So, lets discuss the bits and pieces of how we Kings of Battle keep the Queen in Drag.

And, if you're still here and not ready to kill yourself - go behind the curtain to the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry, where this edition of Gun Pr0n will continue.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 21, 2006

June 16, 2006

New Artillery Round, the Saber.

Don't get me wrong, I like all this stuff. But...

Ry sends us this, which he titled "Puff piece for the Artillerist's Soul:

"The relatively simple design of Saber allows it to accurately fly to target with fewer moving parts; making the round highly reliable, very effective and importantly, lower-cost than the competition," said Dave Wise, General Manager, Advanced Weapons, ATK Mission Systems Group.

The test was conducted at the Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma, Ariz. After exiting the barrel, the tail fin assembly deployed and latched as designed. After the fins were locked in place, the round's rocket motor ignited and completed a full burn.

The thrust provided by the rocket motor allowed the round to reach its 48- Kilometer objective. In previous tests, ATK has demonstrated the effectiveness of its INS/GPS guidance solution.

The increased range of Saber's boosted, ballistic trajectory flight path reduces the time from gun-launch to impact and supports the expanded responsibilities of Brigade Combat Teams.

The full thing is here.


Yep. And we'll need/use fewer of them, because they're so accurate. And that will reduce collateral damage. And they have a smaller explosive charge (that rocket and fins hadda take up some space, yes?) so they'll be near perfect New Agey weapons and hurt only what they hit... a little bit. And that's okay, because we're now so accurate with this GPS stuff that, as the old Bryllcreem add says, "A little dab'll do ya!"

That's what the Smart Guys say.

It really is a matter of balance. And things which reduce the amount of collateral damage, focusing it instead on the right targets, especially in crowded environments, is a Good Thing. The WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign approach to artillery, in anything less than Total War is really counter-productive. Both in terms of the GOG, the Global Opinion Golem, and the "Three-Block War Paradigm" where you have to take responsibility for the areas you just pounded.

Of course, sometimes, when presented with a large target array - which, of course, will never happen to us again, the Smart Guys all say so - blanketing things with high explosive is useful. Especially if they are scurrying around a lot.

But, we're never going to fight that way again. I've been told by Smart Guys.

We've got all that kewl GPS stuff - which means we know where We are, we know where They are, and we'll let the GPS guide the weapon to the target - which we really do need to hit physically, because, after all, One Round One Kill is the new mantra, and we have a very small explosion (see: collateral damage) and - all the Smart Guys say so! We'll never mass fires on a target again. The GOG say's That's Bad. "Close enough for hand grenades and horseshoes" no longer applies. The blast radius doesn't give you any room for a CEP of any size.

Yo, Smart Guys - Do you know how cheap and effective GPS jammers are these days?

Just askin'.

Funny thing about Smart Guys. They almost never have to actually implement this stuff with their a$$ on the battlefield.

Just ask the SECDEF about how all the Smart Guys he went with got it in regard to OIF, the Aftermath. They did have Part I down, certainly. There was this problem with overall context outside the immediate specification.

Sometimes, heck many times, the Smart Guys are right. But when they're wrong? That's when people like SFC Paul Smith pick up the slack.

I study this stuff for a living. I write reports that help or hinder projects like this.

SFC Paul Smith, and those like him, are always hov'ring in the back of my mind as I potter about my work.

So pardon my bear-just-outta-hibernation attitude when I read breathless stuff like this.

Just sayin'.

That doesn't mean you should quit *sending* it Ry.

It's all bloggable.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 16, 2006

May 24, 2006

Whatziss, answered!

Old Fat Sailor - I name you Brainiac of Argghhh! You got it right.

If our Ozzie OFS hadn't gotten it, I would have offered up this as a clue today, followed quickly with this.

If that was insufficient (I'm thinking it would have been enough) - I'd have offered up this.

But I don't have to do that. Because OFS identified it - it's a stand of quilted grape.

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In this case, a replica of Revolutionary War-era stand of quilted grape, in the six-pounder version. An early form of "Improved Conventional Munitions," grape was used against attacking infantry at greater ranges. Comprised of a wooden base, or sabot, with a wood rod protruding from it, they were stacked round with iron balls, held in place by the cloth and twine wrapping, which was then doped. The wrapping and sabot kept it all together for easy loading, and the paint helped waterproof it, prevent rot of the cloth, and provided some more rigidity.

The ones you find in museums have usually been painted black or red. This one is au naturel, to show the basic construction better. Made this way to speed loading (that infantry is looking pretty determined), the twine and cloth gave way upon firing, turning the gun into a giant shotgun. Grape, with it's larger balls, had a greater range at the expense of fewer projectiles. Canister is grape's short-range cousin, being smaller balls, usually lead musket balls, loosely loaded into a container (canister) and fired when the infantry had gotten annoyingly close and looked like they were still interested in killing artillerymen. Of course, once you started shooting this at infantry, the infantry became notoriously uninterested in taking prisoners, either... infantry sucks that way.

Why is is called a Stand of Grape? In fortress use especially, but also in the field, you stood them up on the wooden sabot, so they wouldn't roll around. Larger guns oft times fired grape made of larger iron balls held together by iron plates and rings, like this stand of 12-pounder grapeshot.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 24, 2006

May 8, 2006

This would look nice...

...covering the non-existant seaborne approaches to Castle Argghhhh!!!

I'd have to find that missing breech mechanism and projectile winch, but no matter. I think I'd lose the pillbox caps for the crew, too. Hawaiian shirts and straw hats, I should think. Well, at least in the summer.

Rather than all the Brit wool stuff, save that for the winter.

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The gun is the main armament of Fort Rinella, Malta.

Malta, also on the Castle Argghhh!!! Castle Tour list.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 08, 2006
Ghost of a flea links with: Titan 1 ICBM missile base
Ghost of a flea links with: Titan 1 ICBM missile base
Ghost of a flea links with: Titan 1 ICBM missile base

March 22, 2006

Cannoneer Zen

Especially since it makes Infantry duck and tankers go into at least "open protective". And that's the ones on your side.

A Marine 75mm Pack Howitzer artillery emplacement on Bougainville-Dec1943

Some Redleg Marines having a moment of gunner zen on Bougainville, December 1943.

I will leave it open for the snarks sure to emanate from the CANZSTAAC* Denizens.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 22, 2006

March 21, 2006

Is this not cool?

Destroyer of Task Force18 bombarding Kalombangara and New Georgia Islands

Night color shot of a Destroyer of Task Force18 bombarding Kalombangara and New Georgia Islands. Woo-hoo! Get some, sailors!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 21, 2006
The Yankee Sailor links with: More on Sailors Serving Ashore in Iraq

March 18, 2006

Gunner Zen

Kinda looks like a bottle-filling machine, doesn't it?

6 inch Gun Magazine aboard the HMS Belfast

It's a 6inch Gun Magazine on the HMS Belfast.

If your soul calls for a bigger pic, click here.

Here's the shell hoist to the turret, a different view of the magazine (essentially the other side). All that to feed this:

6 inch Gun breech on the HMS Belfast.

Again, if you needa big pic - click here.

As compared to the magazine of an Iowa-class BB... in this case, the Iowa. Need some sense of scale?

All *that* to feed this:

16 inch gun being loaded on the Iowa

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 18, 2006

March 16, 2006

Artillery Pr0n

Featuring full insertion, even. With a bit of that ol' in-and-out.

U.S. Army Pfc. Christian Zelaya, with Bravo Company, 4th Brigade, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, and an Iraqi army Public Order Brigade soldier push a cleaning rod down the barrel of a towed howitzer during routine maintenance at Forward Operations Base Rustimya, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2006. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. William Servinski II) (Released)

U.S. Army Pfc. Christian Zelaya, with Bravo Company, 4th Brigade, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, and an Iraqi army Public Order Brigade soldier push a cleaning rod down the barrel of a towed howitzer during routine maintenance at Forward Operations Base Rustimya, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2006. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. William Servinski II) (Released)

Now let's see who takes this down my expected path...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 16, 2006
Alphecca links with: Friday Surveillance

March 12, 2006

Coast Artillery moment.


16 inch howitzer at Fort Story, Virginia, 1942

Now *those* were the days. This guy is guarding a 16 inch howitzer at Fort Story, Virginia. Fort Story's guns lasted longer than many, not being removed until 1949. Still, chances are by the end of the war this guy was manning a anti-aircraft gun somewhere as the Coast Artillery was essentially morphed into the Air Defense Artillery during WWII.

This particular gun is almost certainly a US Army M1920 16in Howitzer of Battery Pennington-Walke.

Higher res just for a better sense of the size of that muzzle!

Here's another pic of what is quite probably this gun (note the missing paint at the muzzle in the pics) - with an interesting credit.

M1920 16 inch Howitzer - Franklin D. Roosevelt

It was taken by some guy named Franklin. As in Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Not to be confused with the 16 inch GUN. Much longer barrel. Shot farther and the projectile went faster, intended for direct fire combat, however. The howitzer was intended for plunging fire.

Aside from the mount, you can see the difference in tube length and shape in this picture of the gun at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

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Barrel length difference even more obvious here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 12, 2006

Coast Artillery moment.


16 inch howitzer at Fort Story, Virginia, 1942

Now *those* were the days. This guy is guarding a 16 inch howitzer at Fort Story, Virginia. Fort Story's guns lasted longer than many, not being removed until 1949. Still, chances are by the end of the war this guy was manning a anti-aircraft gun somewhere as the Coast Artillery was essentially morphed into the Air Defense Artillery during WWII.

This particular gun is almost certainly a US Army M1920 16in Howitzer of Battery Pennington-Walke.

Higher res just for a better sense of the size of that muzzle!

Here's another pic of what is quite probably this gun (note the missing paint at the muzzle in the pics) - with an interesting credit.

M1920 16 inch Howitzer - Franklin D. Roosevelt

It was taken by some guy named Franklin. As in Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Not to be confused with the 16 inch GUN. Much longer barrel. Shot farther and the projectile went faster, intended for direct fire combat, however. The howitzer was intended for plunging fire.

Aside from the mount, you can see the difference in tube length and shape in this picture of the gun at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

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Barrel length difference even more obvious here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 12, 2006

March 10, 2006

Despite the smug, self-satisfied smirk...

...of a certain DAT* who hangs out around here...

While sure - *this* era may have been our heyday...

German Siege Howitzer, WWI

We aren't completely irrelevant today. And we're far more discriminating (though I, personally, do *not* believe in the concept of "Danger Close" when attacking targets in the vicinity of DATs. DAGs* I'll cut some slack).

Soldiers from the 4-11 Field Artillery do calibration fires with the  howitzer on March 6, 2006 in Mosul,Iraq  in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.(U.S. Army Photo by Spc Clydell Kinchen)  (Released)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 10, 2006

March 1, 2006

We need something extremely male and gunlike.

So, how about some Canadian gunners having a good afternoon, getting ready to put some 105mm WillyPete (white phosphorus, red markings on light green 'jo) down range, probably to mark a target in a firepower demonstration for that M109 155mm gun in the background?

Gunners having a good day!

I thought you'd see it my way.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 01, 2006

February 3, 2006

Ooooh, too much politics and stuff. We need Gun Pr0n.

We need some pics of stuff in the Arsenal of Argghhh!

Like this:

Peeking Inside a cannon barrel

Or this:

Short barrel!

For CAPT H: Context.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 03, 2006

January 23, 2006

Time for a gun post...

...and not just because we've been nominated at Countertop Chronicles for "Best Gun Pron" in the Gunnies, either!

A topic covered in the gunblogs, I know by Murdoc and others, as well as me... Metalstorm gets closer to entering service. This is an ugly little spud.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Next month a new high-explosive munition will be fired in Singapore and then tested again by the U.S. Army, heralding what may be a sea change in weaponry: a gun that can fire 240,000 rounds per minute.

That's compared to 60 rounds per minute in a standard military machine gun.

Metal Storm Inc., a munitions company headquartered in Virginia but with its roots in Australia, has been developing a gun that can shoot at blistering speeds, albeit in short bursts as each barrel is reloaded.

Company website with video click here.

Speaking of Murdoc, I'll let him have at this story.

Speaking of machine guns... take a look at the durability (not to mention reliability) of the latest rendition of that venerable old pig, the M60. Do me a favor - right click and save as - don't stream it. Right-click and save-as here.

I'll close this post with a picture of a new Castle Armory acquisition - a M1886 German Shrapnel round - that has a very interesting (to the Armorer) time fuze. Subject of a future post.

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 23, 2006

January 14, 2006

Making friends with the Armorer!

Yeah, I know, not much of a prize...

That said, Geoff B, a regular visitor from Australia, is a Friend of the Armorer. I was thinking about putting up these pictures, harvested (legally) from elsewhere - about the biggest gun of WWI (which is *not* the German Paris Gun, though that had the longest barrel). A French monstrosity.

Schneider Obusier de 520mm

The Schneider Obusiers de 520mm. This 520mm (20.47 inches) howitzer was the biggest gun of the Great War. It fired a 3,100 lb shell (of which 600 lbs was the explosive filler) to a range of over 10 miles. The rail car that carried this honker was just under 100 feet long and weighed 290 tons.

Okay, MCart is always (come to think of it, CAPT H does, too) griping about the lack of size referents in my teaser contests. So, here's one:

Breech of the Schneider Obusier de 520mm

This pic of the Schneider's breech should give you some idea of scale.

This morning, along comes some Kewl Stuff from Geoff. Including a picture (the others will appear later, as will some *other* interesting stuff from another Aussie, an Army Armorer, I just met) that will give you an even better sense of scale. Test yourself - which rounds do you think the Schneider fired? (Rhetorical question for the literals among you).

Australian War Memorial Museum Display

If you are interested in a listing of the various calibers - click here.

Thank you, Geoff! Yer a Friend of the Armorer! Take that, and a coupla bucks, and it will get you coffee at Starbucks anywhere on the Planet!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 14, 2006

January 13, 2006


Stuff for a Redleg's soul.

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Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, 4th Fires Brigade, fire a rocket from a Multiple Launch Rocket System during a tactical mission from Forward Operations Base Q-West. Qayyarah, Iraq in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. CREDIT U.S. ARMY PHOTO: SSG James H. Christopher III. (RELEASED) CPT Michael Blankartz BDE / PAO CAMP COURAGE MOSUL

The target must have been a bunch of guys in the open, away from anything else - that's a big hammer in the Current Operating Environment, with a huge impact footprint for the bomblets, and the associated duds - which means this was probably fired out at the border regions.

Oh, and "feh!" on the whole renaming of Division Artillery to "Fires Brigade." I know why they did it (I live in the muddle [sic] of the process. I'd rather call 'em "4th Brigade (Fires)" if we *have* to do it that way. And I understand the real purpose is to, in a sense, break the mental mold of the division in favor of the brigaded Army - are reversion to pre-WWI, where divisions were much more ad-hoc constructs, built only for big wars or even just for big battles in during big wars.

Fine. Call 'em Artillery Brigades then.

Fires. Feh.

More about that here.

UPDATE: D-oh! (sound of hand slapping forehead). I knew this:

There is a precision guided version available now with a 200 lb unitary warhead. More useful for up close and personal. I'm not a Red Leg, so I can't tell from the picture.

More from Lockheed Martin

Just goes to show how old habits die hard when you only use simulation vice smell the burning powder... Hat tip to M. Lewis for the reminder!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 13, 2006
Bayosphere links with: A Cause worth Plugging

January 3, 2006


A photo to warm the cockles of a Redleg heart...

May 31, 2005  Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division fire a gun salute during All-American Week at Fort Bragg, N.C. by Tech Sgt Cherie A. Thurlby. This photo appeared on

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 03, 2006

December 30, 2005

Unclear on the concept...?

A french artillery piece from WWI.

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Made of paper. Explains a lot... right?

Actually, no.

Also known as a Quaker Gun.

Obviously, used for deception purposes - whether as in pretending to have something more powerful than you have for deterrence purposes (see May Day Parades at Red Square, or early Nazi Party Rallies at Nueremburg), or to deceive the mean people who suck and are trying to kill you as to the location of your *real* toys - so they can die surprised, later, when they miscalculate and you end up killing *them,* the bassids!

I just picked on the Soviets and Nazis, but hey, the North and South did it too - especially the North, early in the war around Washington. Such as these logs in a fort at Centerville, VA in 1862.

The concept has a long pedigree with the US Army - at *least* as early as 1780. As late as 1984, as I was a participant in *this* fight - on the winning side.

They were crucial for D-Day.

[Off on a tangent - while out looking for the Washington story, I stumbled across this, which confused me for a minute...]

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Serb Quaker Gun

My Kosovo involvement includes some *direct experience* with the Quaker Gun concept as a component of Information Operations, just as relevant today as it was for Colonel Washington. To my mind, within the overall limitations on the campaign for both sides, the Serb Quaker Gun Concept was every effective.

And we still do it on our side, too.

In fact - if anyone has any pics of current (or the last 20 years or so, to avoid OPSEC issues) decoys, send 'em along!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 30, 2005

December 14, 2005

A little historical stuff for the day...

Hey - old airplane guys - izzit me, or is this just a cool picture? A-12 Shrikes in the Phillipines before WWII.

Heh. Anti-aircraft gunnery... the hard way. I really find it interesting that they kept their pantel (panoramic telescope, used for laying the gun for direction, 'dial sight' to a Commonwealth soldier) on the gun (the thing sticking up in front of the guy crewing the piece). There *is* a way you could use that sight to reflect lead... but a ring-and-bead sight would be better.

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Last, but not least... ain't tanks a mighty fine thing? As long as they're yours?
And is it just me - but given the range and power of the 120mm gun, don't they seem to have very thin barrel walls?

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Don't forget to Vote For Us! We're not gonna catch those punk El-Tees at The Officer's Club unless you guys quit voting for Matty (who is untouchable at this point) but we're neck and neck with that Lawyer at Intel Dump.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 14, 2005

December 12, 2005

Castle Artillery Pr0n

And now for something completely different, (ok, not really for longtime visitors), from the stocks of the Castle Armory. Since people who hide behind things but still want to sneak up on you (or even jump up, run at you and stick you with long pointy-things-with-sharp-edges really suck, people (i.e., artillerymen) thought up Shrapnel. In this case, a very specific artillerist, Major General Henry Shrapnel (though he invented it, I believe, when he was a mere Lieutenant).

So - from the Armory Holdings, a used WWI French Time/Impact Fuze. Of a type originally developed in 1889, this particular version is the 24/31mm Modele 1915, sitting in the nose of a 75mm Shrapnel round, seen here disassembled (albeit an empty round with none of the cool fiddly-bits).

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This is how you normally find them... with the nose of the projectile attached. In WWI, true shrapnel rounds (vice fragmenting HE now that the fact is that *all* fragments are called shrapnel) were essentially one-use mini-shotguns delivered over the target, where a small black powder charge in the base blew out a small plate, upon which were stacked lead or steel balls. The nose blew out, and the balls scattered like shot from a shotgun. Unlike the shrapnel rounds from the Civil War era, which suspended the balls in a matrix and then blew the whole round into pieces. Now when you read a WWI memoir that talks of the little puffs of white smoke from the shrapnel... you'll know what it means. It doesn't mean standard HE bursting in the air.

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Since you rarely see these old "beehive" fuzes intact, here are two - one ready for putting in the shell, the other with its lead foil protective cover. The cannoneer punched a hole at the appropriate time mark (there is a spiral powder train in the body of the fuze) so that when the round was fired, flame from firing would flash around the projectile as it left the muzzle, finding entry at the punch mark, igniting the powder train. Hence the lead foil cover - the flame exposure is very brief, so the powder has to catch quickly and must thus be protected from moisture. They also had an impact component, that series of pointy-things inside of springs running down the middle, as shown in this cutaway drawing:

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Here's a graphic cutaway from a Victorian-era Brit ammunition manual that shows what these rounds generally looked like. This particular round in the drawing didn't have a "blow-away nose" like the round in the Castle holdings - it just blew out the brass fuze, which being a softer metal, shears out before the threads on the baseplate of the projectile did. If it was a "burster" type round, the central tube would be filled with powder - here it's a flash-tube to convey the flame from the fuze-function down to the charge in the base.

Here is a photo of three Brit rounds from the 1890-1914 era. The two on the left have bursting charges in the base - you can clearly see the brass flash-tube running down the middle to the charge in the base. The one on the right has its bursting charge up top - meaning it probably blows out the base or shatters the round. Shattering the round is most likely, since the balls would not have near the velocity (and would have a much greater dispersion pattern, which can be good or bad depending on the way the target infantry is arrayed). I'm guessing that one didn't last long in service.

Lastly: Don't forget to Vote For Us!

To close this completely - you can see some of these fuzes larger cousins on the "ready rounds" in this engraving of French Artillery from WWI, with a 155mm on the left, and a 270mm Mortar on the right - the rounds for that monster are fitted with the Beehive fuze. The engraving is from a book published just after the war, and is in the Holdings of the Castle Library.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 12, 2005

December 1, 2005

Beth is Gonna Kill me for mentioning this...

Yo! John! Check this out.

Objective: The roof of the Eisenhower Building. Heh.


HT: Instapundit

Update: Larry's comment needs to be up here!

The big gun of vegetable artillery -- the pumpkin cannon:

Pumpkin Cannon!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by Dusty on Dec 01, 2005

November 27, 2005

Context is everything

Remember this?

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No problem if you don't--John was the only one to get really excited about it. And it *is* a Lange Morser--and here it is in context (which is what gave John the chuckle in the comments).

To the victors belong the spoils. Pretty much every military organization in the world agrees with that, judging by some of the items you see on military bases.

Like this, f'r instance.

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Cast in the days when a gun was also a work of art, which is probably the reason so many are now souvenirs. This one's Spanish. The year's not visible, but it's 1755.

And it was taken in battle by American forces.

Hmmmmm. Wonder who'll beat John to the type (that shouldn't be hard, unless he happens to be staying up late) and I wonder who'll guess closest to which war was its last...

Oh, yeah--the "context" pic will give you a chuckle. And when John finishes googling every Western Hemispherical war since Eric the Red bumped heads with the skraelings...heh.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by CW4BillT on Nov 27, 2005

November 26, 2005

Saturday fare.

Ain't she purty? 4.7 inch 40 Caliber british gun - though this one is in Spain. Man, would she look good in the Bailey!

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If you are still in need of something to do - Mike D (and I) suggest you head over to GCS Distributing - and look at some cool windows movies they done up in support of the troops. The owner is Tony Clegg, and I know from following these guys for some time now that they have worked long and hard, and spent some money (buying bandwidth) to get these things out in front of us. So, take this link and spread it around!

GCS Distributing - Celebrating our rich heritage. (Note to corporate entities - do work like this, *I'll* give ya free ads, too).

Ahhh. The return of an old friend. I *loved* running those ranges...

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CAMP AL QA'IM, Iraq - Paintsville, Ky., native Lance Cpl. Scotty R. Price, rifleman, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team - 2, fires a Light Antitank Weapon at a possible insurgent position during Operation Steel Curtain. Photo by: Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 26, 2005
Don Surber links with: We Won. Let's Go Home

November 23, 2005

Little help for a reader.

I got an email this morning from Jon, who asks for help identifying this gun from the Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts, museum. I believe I know what it is, I thought I'd just throw it out here in case someone else would like to try to figure it out. I'll narrow it down for you - US Navy or US Army Coast Defense, caliber is in the 3.5-6 inch range.

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The same view, higher res.

Second view, from the rear (breech construction makes a difference).

I suppose a loyal reader in the same area code as Battleship Cove *could* just call and ask... or visit!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 23, 2005

As promised...

...something for the soul. Especially if you're really soothed by things that go boom when they launch things that go boom...

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If you look really, really closely at the barrel below the equilibrator housing, you can see where the *other* guy's boom gouged some chunks, back in the day.

Or, you can save your eyesight and just click here for the hi-res. Ummm, if you're on dialup, you'll have time to go brew a cuppa.

And I just *know* one of the grognards is gonna count the lands and grooves and then proudly announce that the paint job *wasn't* originally haze grey...

Hmmmmm? What's that? Nope, this one isn't the gun pr0n pic. I'm saving that one for later. Bear in mind what Captain JMH says: "Context is everything."

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by CW4BillT on Nov 23, 2005

November 7, 2005

Monday at Benning. My cubicle is *still* better than yours!

While the core distinction here is private spaces versus public spaces... still, the dichotomy (and underlying attitudes displayed) is amusing.

RINO Sightings...!

Then there's this, from Drudge's Blurb about Brokeback Mountain.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS critic Jack Mathews predicts the gay cowboy movie, which takes place in Wyoming, may be "too much for red-state audiences, but it gives the liberal-leaning Academy a great chance to stick its thumb in conservatives' eyes."

Me, I don't care about the subject matter - I'm sure there were a gay cowboy or two, if for no other reason than there is gay sex in men's prisons because of the lack of other outlets, leave aside the issue of just liking guys... but if the film industry can't connect the dots between the attitude detailed (I won't say held, from that context) by Jack Mathews and the continuing decline of box office... well, the reason there might be sand in your eyes is because you have your head in the sand... not the onshore breeze on the beach.

Now this is funny - though I would make the following change:

1. I am in the Marines, I have a problem. This is the first step to recovery...

2. Speech:

Time should never begin with a zero or end in a hundred, it is not 0530or 1400 it is 5:30 in the morning (AKA God-awful early).
Words like deck, rack, and "PT" will get you weird looks; floor, bed, workout, get used to it.
"F *ck" cannot be used to -replace whatever word you can't think of right now, try "um".
Grunting is not talking.
It's a phone, not a radio, conversations on a phone do not end in "out"
People will not know what you are talking about if you tell them you are coming from Camp Lejeune with the MWSS platoon or that you spent a deployment in the OCAC

Read the rest here at Strategy Page.

Historical Footnote: 1793. French Revolutionaries abolish Christianity in favor of "Reason." Liberal elites still trying, even as many bend over to accommodate Wahhabism. (and of course, the whole thing is more complex than that - lea' me 'lone!)

From the Admiral of the Moat Fleet comes this... I'll take summa dat! (Warning - ads in the margin may not be worksafe. Ry - nothing about this link is worksafe in your PC-environment - so turn the sound down (even though that's part of the charm...)

It would appear that Piglet's nascent militarism has forced a response from the Big Bad Wolf... oh the bestiality (scroll to the bottom)!

Argghhh! Someone was being lax and lazy about security issues... and how much of that was from fear of profiling... one has to wonder.

I always wondered about cheerleaders...

Interesting concept of "heavy arms." And the French are comparatively lenient on firearms ownership from a Euro perspective.

Welcome to the reality of your Islamic sub-culture, France. It looks like your way isn't working that well, either. And while the riots are not perhaps caused by Islam per se, the religion suffuses the issue and must be accounted for. When does it become okay to put the knackers on Islam that have been put on Christianity? For exactly the same reasons those who decry and despise Christian fundamentalism? It isn't racism to point to the fact, as Newsweek does, that the rioters are mostly African and Muslim. But it *is* useful to note that, and note how that, in context, also infuses the problem. The solutions, if any, will have to be multi-spectral, but to simply cut out huge chunks of relevant data because of fears of being called racist or bigoted is simply going to leave you with flawed, incomplete analysis - and your solutions, absent important data, may well not work, having been developed in a vacuum. Can anyone spell Cabrini-Green, Pruitt-Igoe? Examples of well-intentioned solutions that chose to ignore key data - in those cases not the race issue, but the realities of concentrating misery and miserable people into small spaces. While not as concentrated in the Paris region as those icons of American Liberalism, creating ghettos, whether de facto or de jure, simply makes your problem tougher. No, it's *not* easy. Getting groups of people who are very comfortable in their groups to break out into the wider population is tough - but if you don't find ways to encourage it... they don't assimilate, and simply create little communities with all the pathologies they were fleeing/leaving in the first place. Not true of all groups, times, and places, certainly. But true enough it has to be acknowledged.

Changing subjects...

Now and again I get questions - and when they come with cannon pics, the Armorer *does a happy dance*. The question follows:

I was introduced to your site almost a year ago by [Monteith - good job, boyo!], since then I've been an avid reader, though not much of a commentator.

I recently got back from a vacation in Morocco, where I took these photos of a cannon in Marrakech just outside the "Market Square". Being that this is Morocco, and 'loin' seems translate from French to "far" in English, I assume that this is a French weapon, see cannon-2.jpg for elevation adjustment settings. The bore seemed to be about 75mm, but I did not have time to get any real detail on any part of the weapon.

If anyone could identify this, I would appreciate it.

Hope you had a good time here in Atlanta this weekend.

Thank you.

David C.

I've already answered the question to David directly - but let's see if any of you guys can snipe-hunt this gun. 1. There *is* info on the net. 2. I'll give you a hint. It's an 90mm gun, not a 75mm. And pay attention to the carriage. There is a detail there that clinches the deal. Oh, and the gap in the trail should actually have a door on it (see the hinges on the right side in cannon2.jpg) and the ones I found on the 'net have the door in place - that is *not* the distinguishing detail.

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Picture 2
Picture 3

Picture 2 will be the most useful to you. At least it was for me... Oh, and if *this* is the way you introduce yourself as a reader - you get to move to the head of the line!

I'll conclude this post with the next new recruiting poster: The Air Force.

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(I'll prolly get a snark from Dusty about this one)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 07, 2005
NIF links with: Go vote, Virginia!

September 9, 2005

Since Boquisucio needs help..

...with his Rangefinder ID, here is the Castle's Barr and Stroud Rangefinder that is part of our Vickers kit. Also in the pic are a Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle and a PIAT. The Gustav and PIAT are for use against people who drive tanks or hide in bunkers. People like that, well, they suck. Of course, the sorry jerks who gave the PIAT to the Brit soldier in WWII suck too. But that's a different story.

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Next up is a sample of the Castle Argghhh! LRS, Looter Repellent System. Rabbit ears (German made, ex-Argentine) for target acquisition, sniper loop w/rifle for retail responses, Max the Maxim should a more robust response be needed.

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The minefield sign doesn't hurt, either.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 09, 2005

September 8, 2005

The Artillery of Argghhh!

This is to prep you:

Neener neener neener! How many of you got artillery in the basement?

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Now, go read Jeff's Weekly Check on the Bias against guns in the media.

Or I'll be forced to hang a few rounds...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 08, 2005

August 30, 2005

The way to the Armorer's Good Graces... via firepower.

Something SWWBO knows well, having bought me this for Christmas before we got married, and *this* after, and not being annoyed by this or this or this.

Now comes AFSis, fresh from New York. (Happy Anniversary, kiddo!)

And she sends this, a 24 pounder in Castle Clinton... who could ask for more?

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Heh. Mebbe cannon with a Cute Chick? Like this?

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 30, 2005

June 21, 2005

Live from Dayton!

Heh. Well, aside from visiting the Air Force museum, and reconfirming my MBTI type, and discovering that some of my co-workers think I don't manage disagreement well (though they do like my integrity, technical and functional expertise, and the fact that I coach and develop (although it seems I must channel Bobby Knight at times), I'm also driving a tank.

Well, a Ford Expedition, but the distinction is meaningless. When I arrived at Dayton International (a grand name for an airport with exactly *two* aircraft at the myriad of empty gates... I think Cincy has been stealing their business) I trundled off to Avis, where they treat me right (because the company pays 'em to) and I walk out to my space... only to find that the keys don't work in the car there. Now, I *could* read the tag and do all that, but let's face it - it's just easier to be like Jason Bourne in the Bourne Supremacy and just start pushing the lock button on the keyfob until something squawks.

That works - it's the car three spaces to the left. So, I maneuver my now-sweaty bulk to the rear of that machine (a nice, gold, Grand Am) pop the trunk, drop in the overnighter... and note that the left rear bumper seems to be a *bit* near the streetlight stanchion base. As in, rubbed up against, indented, and otherwise folded, spindled, and mutilated.

So I wave over the little guy sitting at the Avis shack - who determines from my body language that I am a "Customer with a Problem" and promptly spies a young managerial type to deal with it.

We wander over to the wounded steed and he has some trouble understanding my odd midwestern dialect as I describe the problem. This could be because I *have* an odd midwestern dialect, but I'm thinking it has more to do that he wasn't from around Dayton himself, probably having come into this world in a nice sub-saharan African country once severely damaged with a French presence. Well, that and the fact that I'm half deaf, which wasn't helping.

Anyway - I finally get tired of saying "eh?" (he's trying hard, at this point it really *is* me with the problem) and wave my hand so he'll focus on it and then move it to the wounded area of my offered steed. And his eyes get big, understanding dawns, and well, the story is comical but repetetive and makes for a better video than novel. Sooooo, to make a long story short - I'm back at the terminal, speaking to another nice young man, who also doesn't understand my odd midwestern accent very well, because, well, let's just say he is from a country (a different one, I asked) that was also abused and saddled with a French administrative structure for a period of years, before being allowed to resume self-abuse, like we enjoy here!

And all that's left (I was perfectly happy with the still-hale, if flesh-wounded mount, but no, we can't have that!) is this parking lot behemoth, the Expedition. Which, if I might note, has a surprisingly pedestrian interior for what it costs, and is a voracious consumer of fossil distillates. But it *is* a nice bright Artillery Scarlet in color, so it ain't all bad, and all the little munchkin cars like Sions look even smaller and are more intimidated, too.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah - I've got some responsiblities!

For those who have never seen a militant Canadian other than the Castle's mole in Lord Raglan's, er, Strathcona's Horse, CAPT H - there is in fact a whole mob of Canadian bloggers who remember when Canada had an aircraft carrier. In fact, more than one. The Red Ensign Brigade, and their bi-weekly link-fest is up - I strongly encourage you to visit - there's a reason so many good comedians come from Canada - I don't know what it is - but it affects many of the members of the Brigaded Blogs - this week ably hosted by A Chick Named Marzi!

Castle Security Guy and Assistant Armorer Sergeant B is considering joining the Washington National Guard... some old warhorses still paw the ground when they hear the bugle... slightly younger ones can still answer the call and keep the pace we glue-factorys-on-legs just can't quite muster anymore. Yes, I'm envious, I won't lie.

SGT B sent us to Froggy Ruminations, who essentially suggests we quit coddling terrorists in our custody, and send 'em to Boot Camp, instead.

Via CAPT H, small cracks in the edifice...

In other international news, Ry forwards this bit about tolerance in Sweden. Don't let your dislike of the US blind you to the fact that the kids involved don't like or respect you, either, fellas.

On a lighter and far-more-important note, Say Uncle has created a Gunbloggers Community over at the Truth Laid Bear. Some of us were apparently drafted in, but I'm sure we're taking volunteers, too!

Speaking of guns... via Mathew Maynard we come to Boots and Sabers, with a little tutorial on "How Not To Shoot Your Anti-Tank Gun." I make that distinction, because Jed dedicates it to we cannoneers, when it's, well, it's infantrymen in this little movie (at least in the US Army it would be...).

Jeff Quinton reports that Senator Durbin apologized, tears in his eyes, for comparing Guantanamo Bay to Gulags, Vernichtungslagers, and other fine places of incarceration.

His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks.

"They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said.

Feh, Senator. Just, feh.

Oh, and I should note - I pretty much agree with what my co-workers said about me; the bad stuff anyway. The good stuff - well, that just shows that some of 'em are scared of the basement...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 21, 2005

June 17, 2005

Stuff of interest...

1745 American colonials capture Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, from the French. Why is this significant? 1. It's the first time we Southrons (from a Canadian perspective) successfully invaded what is now Canada, and, (grump) the only times we've ever been truly successful is under Brit leadership engaging in French-bashing. 2. It set the stage for 1755, which marks the start of Cajun Cooking in what would become the US. The Brits expelled the Acadians (french colonists) from Port Royal... resettling them, among other places, in what is now Louisiana... "Cajun" is derived from Acadian (say it fast and drunk... ducking thrown crawdad heads).
1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. Okay, really Breed's Hill, apparently map-reading was problematic... Brit Regulars showed why they are so formidable... and found out that the Colonials could be tough, too. As General Howe observed, "A dear-bought victory, another such would have ruined us." Along with Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill would give the fledgling US Army a mythos to build on - much as Ric Locke refers to regarding the Fight of Raven 42.
1861 Battle of Boonville, MI - Colonel Phil Sheridan earns his Brigadier's star.
1870 USS Mohican takes and destroys the Mexican pirate ship Forward. Mexican piracy at this time is news to me!
1876 Where the Girl Saved Her Brother - the Battle of the Rosebud: Crazy Horse fights Gen Grook's column to a draw. The stage is set for Custer's last ride.

Ry sends along a link to this: Global Guerillas.

However, as tough as the the 4GW warrior is, it fails to account for the extreme resilience and innovation we see today in global terrorism and guerrilla warfare. We are also fighting on many more levels that merely the moral one. This implies that something has been left out of this analysis. My conclusion is that it fails to appreciate how globalization has layered new skill sets on ancient mindsets. Warriors, in our current context, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives as Peters implies. They are wired, educated, and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains, benefit from global money flows, and they invest shrewdly. In a nutshell, they are modern.

Interesting premise, and site. I'll be forwarding it to buddies who like myself have to do scenario development - might be useful stuff here to help define the Current Operating Environment in wargaming. Read the whole post here.

To close, how about some Cannon Pr0n?

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The Armory doesn't have that particular mortar, we do have an inert round of that type...

Update: Damn her! Damn the Half-Vast Editorial Staff to the uttermost depths of a meaningless existence... something along the lines of Forum Moderator at DU!~

First - Cheeky Wench found the commercial I did when I played football! Hey! It was college, that was illegal! I wore a fake beard and wig so no one would recognize me... but, but, I needed the beer money for The Old Heidelberg after ROTC drill on Thursdays, man, it was an emergency!

Secondly - not enough that Cassie comes up with time wasters... no, that's not enough - now she has to have a weekly recurring one! Feh! Denizens are forbidden to participate. I may have to revoke her denizen status!

And, since CAPT H feels violated... Commonwealth Cannon Pr0n. A 5.5 inch gun at Larkhill, the Brit artillery school.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 17, 2005
Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Where we started…
Quotulatiousness links with: Argghhh's History Post for Today links with: Fun Army Media

May 18, 2005

Cannoneer Zen

JTG - here's a picture of a Rodman without capsquares... in service! You can see that they just sat in the carriage. For you normals, a 'capsquare' is a a piece of metal that clamps over the trunnion of a cannon to keep it in place in the cradle. A trunnion is the projection on the side of the cannon that rests in cut-outs in the cradle, and the cradle, or carriage as appropriate, is the what the cannon mounts to... oh never mind!

Here's a picture of a cannon with a capsquare!

In this case, a Dahlgren in a naval mount.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 18, 2005

May 6, 2005

Coast Artillery

The pictures of the stuff in the Phillipines having made JTG giddy, let's try this.

Canadian Coast Artillery - thoughtfully provided by CAPT H. If you want a hi-res version, click here.

Anybody know what (I'm guessing perhaps a sight) went in that dovetail on top of the breech?

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 06, 2005
Dog Snot Diaries links with: Home Defense

May 1, 2005

Roadside Kansas

Still too much under the weather to wanna put a bunch of effort into posting (have caught up on sleep, however). Frequent photo contributor Larry K. sends this.

Roadside Kansas.

Hi-res? Click here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 01, 2005

April 21, 2005

Cannoneer Zen

How 'bout a nice transitional barbette-mount (see pintle in front) fortress gun on display at Oslo Castle? Black-powder breech-loader with a simple recoil system - an inclined ramp.

Hi-res, click here.

Cya! Off to the airport to see SWWBO in New Orleans for the weekend! Hopefully, Dusty and Bill will keep the shop open!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Apr 21, 2005
EagleSpeak links with: Guns & Ammo

April 15, 2005

Cannoneer Zen

Wow! A whole day with no pics! Can't have that! A little something for our Navalised readers... the guns of the USS Constellation - the last all-sail vessel built for the Navy, now docked as a museum in Baltimore Harbor.

The Gun Deck:

Hi-res click here.

Gunner's eye view:

Hi-res click here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Apr 15, 2005

April 13, 2005

Cannoneer Zen

Iron Sentinels of Gettysburg...

Hi-res, click here.

Hi-res, click here.

Hi-res, click here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Apr 13, 2005
Villainous Company links with: Ancient Sentinels Of Gettysburg

February 14, 2005

We needa pic!

And I've been collecting pictures of re-enactors working their avocation. Sadly, I don't know who took the pictures - if you do, please lemme know.

Nice shot of a gun crew working their Napoleon 12-pounder at an Antietam re-enactment.

Hi-res version available here.

I really like being able to get pictures with high resolution - because good photo editing software (and it doesn't have to be Photoshop-expensive, either - Paint Shop Pro works just fine) lets you zoom in and dig around. So you can produce things like this study of the crew.

Of course - there is one thing I always note about re-enactments... no one has *quite* the tension and twitchyness I recall from combat... except perhaps infantry about to charge artillery and the infantry aren't too confident that the rules are understood and the actions have been rehearsed by the appropriate people... the gunners!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 14, 2005

February 8, 2005

Life as a blogger is sooo much simpler...

...when readers provide content! Gives us a chance to take a break (like, maybe get those two caption contests finished!).

Since we've been in a Gatling mood of late (this one being in the National Infantry Museum), we proffer up these two gems, thoughtfully provided by readers Boquisucio and LvnCenturion.

First up, these gems from Boquisucio. Warning - the high res takes forever to load - best to save it and do other things while it's downloading. Worth the effort though, if you have the time and connectivity!

Noticing that you have been on a GAU mood lately, I don't know whether you have come across this Movie Clip of the old GAU-2. There's a group of guys in the SouthWest who somehow got themselves an old GAU-2 to play with. They go by the name of Sub Gun Videos. If you haven't done so already, you can check this clip out at:

Low Definition

High Definition

Somehow, I don't think that Louie Armstrong had a GAU in mind when he composed "What a Wonderful World"; but in a sick, twisted way, it goes perfectly well with it.

Hope that you like it,


I like it - but it *does* take time to load - even on my cable connection!

I mean it - it *really* takes a long time.

Now, to finish off something from a previous thread - regarding the Phalanx gun system. One commenter somewhere in the thread talked about using Phalanx or Phalanx-like systems to do precision destruction of incoming artillery and mortar rounds. LvnCenturion, old Army buddy and fellow-contractor of mine is involved in the process the Army currently has in place to rapidly assess and procure "usable right now or very soon" tech and TTP's. And someone is already working on just that. Below is a picture of 155mm artillery rounds... shot by a Phalanx while inbound. That's pretty impressive. As the Centurion notes:

Your blog mentions the Phalanx and one of the comments refers to a little piece of work that we have been involved with namely shooting rockets, mortars, and artillery rounds out of the sky.

The attached picture is from an unclassified source, you may do with it as you will. Shooter is the Phalanx system.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 08, 2005

January 22, 2005

Urrr, urrr, urrr, ahrr, ahrr, ahrrr...

I gotta admit, whenever I see pictures like this, or get to sneak into places like the cannon lathe building at Watervliet Arsenal, I get all bandy-legged, knuckle-dragging, Tim-The-Toolman-Taylorish...

I dunno where this picture was taken, but if forced to choose - I'd say Vicker's Elswick works, though hell, it could be the Clyde or Barrow works too. All did cannon building. I suppose it could also be Armstrong's before they merged with Vickers.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 22, 2005

January 19, 2005

Assault Rifle Ammunition

JMH sends along this link to an interesting article on 6.5 comparing and contrasting the developmental history and choices in choosing/designing ammunition for the assault rifle genus.

Perhaps of equal interest to me (and any other ammo collectors out there) is the homepage of the author of the article, Anthony Williams - CANNON, MACHINE GUNS AND AMMUNITION... looks like my kinda guy!

by John on Jan 19, 2005
SayUncle links with: Les has more

December 26, 2004

We're back!

Not that there's anyone here at at the moment...

I got a cannon! I got a cannon! It may only have a foot long barrel, and shoot .54 caliber balls, but...

I got a cannon! I got a cannon!


Thank you, SWWBO! (She got a spa massage coupon, since I know you're wondering)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 26, 2004
Technicalities links with: People Seem to be Having a Good Time This Week

December 24, 2004

All I want for Christmas...

The Armorer would really like one of these for Christmas.

Or, a nice Dalhgren Boat Howitzer:

He'd even settle for one of these Coehorn mortars!

The last would look good on the porch of Castle Argghhh!, the others would add a nice cachet to the courtyard of the bailey.

However, you guys are gonna hafta hit the non-existent tip jar pretty hard before SWWBO's gonna allow it! Or truly overwhelm the Arsenal Store. Heh. The only customer of the Arsenal Store has been the Armorer! Good thing Cafe Press doesn't charge rent - and that I am not the kind of guy marketers rely on...

Of course, that's not really true. I'd settle for a Dominion of Canada-marked Snider and Martini too.

Or a Ferguson rifle. Even a new-made repro. Ah well. Mebbe when the Castle nest empties out and the fledgling is paying taxes!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 24, 2004

December 19, 2004

Gratuitious Gun Pic

I had a photo-essay planned for today, but some technical problems (like an unmountable boot sector) are getting in the way. So, while I deal with that, here's a shot of some of the pistols, artillery sights, periscopes, and other optics in the collection of the Arsenal at Castle Argghhh!

Hi-res here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 19, 2004

December 9, 2004

I really really miss this office.

It was a fun place to work.

Army Spc. Frank Guerra prepares to fire rounds from a M109A6 Paladin artillery vehicle as part of a counter fire mission against insurgents near the town of Falluja, Iraq, on Nov. 5, 2004. Guerra is assigned to Alpha 382nd, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry. DoD photo by Senior Airman Christopher A. Marasky, U.S. Air Force.
Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 09, 2004

December 5, 2004

Gratuitous Gun Pic

Maine National Guard... firing their M198's at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.

Howitzers are shrouded in their own smoke during an early August fire mission at the Canadian Forces Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick. Maines 1st Battalion, 152nd Field Artillery was conducting its two weeks of annual training at the post as it has for most summers beginning in 1971. US Army photo by Master Sgt. Bob Haskell August 18, 2003.
Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 05, 2004
The Politburo Diktat links with: Show Trial #31
CDR Salamander links with: Invade Canada!!!!
CDR Salamander links with: Invade Canada!!!

November 21, 2004

So, what was it?

Bill the Rotorhead and Samuel Tai were the correct guessers (Bill first - but he had an unfair advantage, being our Casca, and is old enough to have crewed one of these, though he only admits to being a balloonist during the CW) with those of you who figured out bronze CW-era guns doing pretty well, too.

It's a rifled James 12-pounder, from the collection of the National Infantry Museum (album in progress, not much captioning as yet) at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 21, 2004

November 20, 2004

More stories from Fallujah.

I've got some professional quibbles with the perfomance of the artillery in this story, it does point out some of the difficulties in employing the guns. It's a good look at the mind of the warrior, too. At least American warriors.

And I feel sorry for the dogs, too.

And just where is the Muslim outrage about using the Mosque as a firing point? Oh, wait, I forgot. In the apparent way of much of that world, within certain rules (rent-a-clerical-dispensation), whatever they do is okay, and almost anything we do is wrong. Right.

The Watchdogs of Fallujah How the Pioneer robot plane helped win an artillery duel. By Bing West 11 November 2004 The daytime optical camera on the Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV, yields rich colors, and so the quick red flashes from the mosque courtyard instantly caught the Marines' attention. The operation to seize back Fallujah was going well on the afternoon of Nov. 8. Seven battalions were advancing from the north, and the Pioneer was circling a four-square kilometer district to the south, called Queens. Long the lair of criminal gangs, terrorists, kidnappers, and jihadists, Queens was a jumble of a few thousand drab cement two-story houses and dirt roads, with scant vegetation.

Spotting insurgents was not a problem for "The Watchdogs"-Marine Air Wing unit VMU-1 that operated the Pioneer. Based in a tent next to a runway a few miles outside Fallujah, the Watchdogs had flown several hundred surveillance missions over the city during the past five months. The insurgents had no place to hide. When they came out of doors, they were seen, tracked, and attacked-day after day. Several times the Watchdogs had seen pickups suddenly swerve into empty lots, the occupants jumping out, setting up long tubes, firing a few rockets and scurrying off before a response attack could be launched.
"We followed one pickup after it fired some rockets," Staff Sgt. Francisco Tataje, the intelligence chief, said. "It swung up onto the main highway and we had it intercepted. The driver had a perfect ID. No incriminating stuff. We gave the interrogation team a copy of our video. They called back to say the guy confessed."

The rest is in the Flash Traffic (extended post)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

by John on Nov 20, 2004

November 19, 2004

It's National Ammo Day!

If ya haven't yet, ya better go buy some! 100 rounds. Any caliber, any mix of calibers. More than 100 rounds. If you don't own a gun - go get one - or buy ammo for someone else! (In keeping with all the laws, folks, in keeping with all the laws!)

The little guessing game on "What is it?" is going well. Lots of good analysis going on. Montieth and Samuel are closest, though I was tempted to say it was a prop shaft coupling on an aircraft carrier... (you'll have to see the comments in the post below to understand why I might be so tempted...)

Here's another hint.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 19, 2004
Aaron's Rantblog, aka Aaron the Liberal Slayer links with: Celebrate!

November 18, 2004

Oh, BTW -

Anybody wanna take a stab at identifying the weapon two posts down? Just for fun.

Just in case you need a hint.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 18, 2004

November 7, 2004

Tidbits from the National Infantry Museum

Which, being full of guns, with grounds full of artillery and tanks, is one of the Armorers favorite places to visit. The Armorer doesn't want to move here, but he does like visiting!

In the rotating exhibit section, to the right of the entrance, there are some OIF and OEF exhibits. Saddam's hunting rifle and ceremonial sword are in great company. The collection of the Infantry museum holds other relics of tyranny, such as Himmler's hunting guns and Goering's marshall's baton.

American infantry have thrown down numerous tyrants in their day. Assisting and assisted by their brother Anglosphere infantry, I would hasten to add. And, now and again, French infantry, when their government allows it. Ably assisting in this effort, and acknowledged by the museum, are their fellow-travelers, the Artillery and Armor.

The museum contains furniture the Armorer would like to have. Especially this piece for the living room. She Who Will Be Obeyed will allow it becaue it has a lot of nice brass in it.

And boy is the museum full of interesting little tidbits. Two Davy Crocketts. Several items the Armorer would like to add to the Funny Hat collection.

Developmental. rifles. all. over.

Mortars. Funny cars. And guns, guns, guns. What's not to like?

There's even a train!

If you are ever in Columbus, go visit Ft. Benning. See the Airborne School - and above all, visit the National Infantry Museum!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 07, 2004

October 15, 2004

Life got you down?

"Artillerymen believe the world consists of two types of people; other Artillerymen and targets."

- Unknown

Infantry annoying you? Tankers running through your positions knocking over your aiming posts and collimators? Did some signal unit just set up some huge farking antenna (read: target) back by the battalion trains? Were the log weenies unable to tell the difference between M1 105mm HE and M393 105mm HE? Are you out there among the unwashed, lending dignity to what is otherwise a vulgar brawl when some weasel with a scarf around his neck who will sleep on a cot in a building tonight drops a Mk84 200 meters away? Need something to celebrate or mourn the results of the upcoming elections?

Then you need some of this: Cheatham Artillery Punch. From the aptly-named Argghhh! Senior (second of three generations of Gunners) comes this recipe:

This is separate loading ammo:

1 1/2 qt dry red wine (catawba preferred)
1 pint St. Croix rum
1 cup London dry gin
1 cup three star brandy
2 oz Benedictine
1 1/2 cups rye whiskey
1 1/2 quart strong tea
10 oz brown sugar
5 oranges, sliced
5 lemons, sliced
4 quarts champagne (all the above are propellant)
1/2 bottle maraschino cherries (cannon balls!) Heck use the whole thing!

Mix all ingredients except champagne and fruit slices. stir until sugar is dissolved. Store in refrigerator in tight containers for five to seven days.

Just before serving add champagne and fruit slices (and warning label).

You can get wasted just eating the cherries.

Hat tip to the Gunners New Zealand for some graphics, too! And welcome to visitors from Carnival of the Recipes #9! If you're of a militant mind, check around the rest of the place - if you are a placid, gentle soul (or a gun-hating type) ya prolly oughta just swipe the recipe and run! 8^D

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 15, 2004
She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: Carnival of the Recipes #9

October 5, 2004

A moment of Zen.

Ahhhh, I can smell the smoke, feel the warm breath of the dragon.

Redlegs of 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery practice firing the M198 howitzer at Forward Operating Base Endurance, Iraq. US Army photo by SPC Aaron Ritter.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 05, 2004

September 21, 2004

Random Cool Stuff from the Arsenal.

I've been too serious lately, and the Instapilot has been pretty busy. Time for pointless pictures of cool stuff in the dungeon of Castle Argghhh!

Like this compressed-air artillery crew trainer from WWII.

If you've got the bandwidth (or the time), and think that's a cool bit of kit, click here for the hi-res version.

And then this, for Mike at Sworn Enemy:

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Sep 21, 2004

August 28, 2004

The answer to the question...

If you need to refresh yourself on the question... go here.

Many good guesses, not just in the comments, but in email, from people who were afraid they might get ridiculed for being wrong... (this is *not* that kind of site - unless you get stupid and snarky first!). Lots of people (22 in all) played this time, and much good logic and knowledge was on display.

Pretty much everybody fell victim to what Douglas Adams spoke of in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: '.....where due to a tragic miscalculation of scale, the entire battlefleet was swallowed by a small dog.'

1. We had people guess this.

2. And one like this.

3. And this.

4. Mebbe one of these.

5. Possibly one of those.

6. Someone even suggested these.

7. Surprising me (as this would have been my guess a few months ago), no one guessed this.

The answer is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 28, 2004

August 6, 2004

Neener Neener Neener!

This is *my* basement, not yours!

Sorry, just feel an ugly need to gloat this morning for some reason. I'm sure it will pass.

Just a different perspective on my M2 and M19 60mm mortars and a few rounds laying around.

As ever, click the pic for hi-res.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 06, 2004

August 3, 2004

My first bleg...

Well, aside from Spirt of America...

So, who wants to buy *this* for the Arsenal at Castle Argghhh!...? The grounds could use a Noon Gun.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Aug 03, 2004

July 31, 2004

Vegas was cool damn hot and fun...

..but you regular lurkers (vice my chatty friends) are probably wishing I'd get over that and put up something cool and dangerous.

Well, I just found out that I have to be an announcer at a horse show, so this is a quickie from a new friend of mine (via the Arsenal) who has a *very* nice Japanese Knee Mortar collection. Here's a sample:

Click the pic for high-res.

But, even better - at least one of his is shootable, and he has the backyard I dream of - one you can shoot mortars in and not have the police (or neighbors with pitchforks) standing at your front door!

More stuff later!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jul 31, 2004

July 13, 2004

Ooo! Ooo! Pictures of Cannon!

Ya want a link from me - it's easy. Post pics of cannon!

UPDATE: More cannon! Movies of cannon! Ah, blissful joy!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jul 13, 2004
Brain Shavings links with: Here's your cannon, John
triticale - the wheat / rye guy links with: Art Illary

June 28, 2004

The answer to the question...

Which only one of you guys bit on, anyway. The question is here.

Gunner - you were really very close. It's the cartridge (not the primer) that goes in a PIAT round. Which isn't recoilless, but ya still got pretty close, all things considered!

Here's the cartridge in context (in service it was all the way up inside the tube and not visible).

My PIAT round is actually one of the more complete 'in the wild' outside of big time museums. I have the cartridge, the fuze holder (battlefield recovery from Oosterbeek Heights, Arnhem), and a fuze. Since it was an inert trainer not intended to be fired, it disassembles to show the forcing cone of the shaped charge and the shape of the charge itself.

So, take this post, add to the other PIAT post, and you've got a pretty good idea of what the PIAT was and how it worked.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 28, 2004

May 21, 2004

Recoiless Rifles.

Calliope asked some good questions, so here's some answers...

The conundrum was this: Getting better projectiles to kill tanks into smaller/lighter guns - preferably that the troops could carry themselves and not require motor transport. Especially light troops, like airborne forces.

What to do, what to do.

Conventional guns are tubes, sealed at one end. Open the sealed end, stick in your cartridge, close the breech, fire. Newton's observation that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction then takes hold. You send a lump of steel in one direction, the barrel wants to go in the other direction, less the impact of various inefficiencies such as friction and heat transfer from propellant to tube, etc. There are just limits to what you can do here. You can improve the performance of a given gun system by using shaped charges instead of solid shot. Of course, that presents a different problem, since shaped charges don't like to be spun. You can re-tube it to a 'squeeze bore' gun where you use special ammunition that swages away going down the bore, which will achieve a greater velocity, at the cost of greater ammunition cost and complexity and tube wear. You can be more efficient than that and put a sleeve, or sabot, around the smaller projectile and fire it from the same bore (the process used on most tank guns today). All of this is fine - except it doesn't make your gun any smaller, and aside from adding a muzzle brake to it, it really doesn't help your recoil any. If just improves performance of the existing system against more resistant targets.

You can use a rocket. Once the shaped charge was developed, that became practical. This time, instead of sealing the tube and pushing out a projectile, you seal the tube and let the gases vent out the open end. Same thing - only this time the projectile sits on the end of the tube and the tube flies with the 'jo. This is the concept used by the bazooka, and it worked, though you suffered some limitations in ammo types, because the state of the art at the time pretty much limited you to shaped charges, which limited the tagets you could attack. And the ammo was expensive.

So, what else can you do? Well, the first recoilless gun (Argghhh! I can't find my copy of Hogg/Batchelor's Artillery!) was developed during the 1700's. Not terribly practical, it would have achieved it's recoil-cancellation by firing the projectile one direction, and an equal weight of shot the other. Difficult to employ tactically, yes? But what if you could use the gases? Meter them out the rear of the piece, so that the thrust from that canceled the thrust from the projectile? And thus the recoilless rifle was born.

The rest is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 21, 2004
King of Fools links with: Cool Information

May 7, 2004

Another Arsenal Artifact.


This gizmo is a dial sight. In US parlance, it's called a panoramic telescope. This particular one is the WWI-era sight for the Brit 18pdr howitzer.

To hit a target the gun can't see, without a lot of wasting rounds registering and adjusting, you need to have a few simple things.

Accurate target location. Accurate observer location. Accurate gun location, and a common grid to measure angles from. There's some other stuff, like accurate weapon, ammunition, and weather data, but that's the subject for a different, glaze-your-eyes post that will make people run away screaming in fear. Or get me sued as people break their noses as their heads hit the table as they fall asleep reading.

Anyway - you align the gun tube on a known azimuth. To do that, you use an aiming circle (director in commonwealth-speak) to align the gun and sight on a known azimuth. You set that azimuth on the sight, with the sight pointed to an aiming reference point, whether it's a collimator as used now (an instrument that simulates an infinity reference point but that can be placed close to the gun), aiming posts, (which, when aligned in the sight mean that you are looking at them straight on) or a distant aiming point, at least 1000m away (least desirable, bad weather is your enemy there).

Still interested? The rest is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 07, 2004
Stop the Bleating! links with: CANNON-COCKER PORN
BLACKFIVE links with: Castle Argghhh!!! - Brilliant Blog

April 6, 2004

I need to do a gun pic post... order to test the picture-handling ability of the new format. (Yeah, right!)

So, here's a picture of my 60mm mortar, with the 57mm Recoiless Rifle (made by Goodyear Canada for my visitors from up North). The mortar is ex-Belgian, given to them by demobilizing US forces at the end of WWII. It has a repro barrel, to conform to ATF rules! The 57mm is ex-Italian, left behind with the Italian Army by US forces withdrawing from Trieste (yeah, Hackworth's unit for those who know his history). It's demilled, incapable of chambering a round, much less firing it. For those purists among you who frown on such things - get a life, I live in a non-live Class III state, and it's a HELL of a lot cheaper, too!

While the barrel of the mortar has no firing pin, it is tool steel - so if I want to make a black powder tennis-ball mortar, I can, heheheheheheheh. And, since I have aiming circles, aiming stakes, etc - shoot, if I ever win the lottery or have a generous relative I don't know about die so I can get the land - I can set up a range, too!

by John on Apr 06, 2004

March 30, 2004

On the GAU-8 'rifle'...

Another email clarifies what's being procured and what's being done with it...

...heheh.. thanks, John.. yeah, he's really getting one... his paperwork is almost through now.. he's got a British Ferret, but I think that someone else had tried mounting one on an armored car, and when the weapon was fired, it kept breaking the mounts... so, as far as I know, it is gonna be mounted on the Ferret... heh, I think he might have to upgrade his Armored Car to something bigger, personally...

and, oh yeah, he intends to shoot it... here is what he just e-mailed me..

"I'm just getting a single shot - not the whole gatling gun style affair. the barrel is one of the barrels off an a-10. I'll build an action around the single barrel and have a pretty damn neat single shot."...

..still.. a 30mm?... wow... I think he said he could make rounds for it for around 12 bucks a pop.... he's one crazy guy... Alaska has some pretty neat gun laws, evidently..

all the best,


While doing a little research, I came across this page and got distracted. Waaaay cool re-enacting in England. But - I think herein also lies the answer to the question above - how to mount the dang thing...


On a more serious note: How about this? Already built to take a pounding, and gives you some mobility, too.


Of course, that's probably too small. So, perhaps this.


by John on Mar 30, 2004

March 29, 2004

I get gun questions alla time. But this one....

...this is a first!

Somebody wrote: ...hey John, I just wanted to drop you a quick note to ask some neighborly advice.... a good friend, former Jarhead Buddy, and certifiable Gun Nut is in the process of purchasing the weapon that was developed for the nose of that A-10 Warthog... he's already got loads of full auto weapons.... from the M-2 .50cal on down... but, he and I were talking recently... what in the great-livin-hell is he gonna MOUNT that thing on?... so, knowing you are an expert in weapons, I thought I'd throw it out there for you to mull over...

all the best,


Here is my response:

Howinhell is he legally getting a GAU-8? Surely not in shootable condition? There was one on the NFA Registry before 1984? Wow. I'll bet the ATF has kittens about that one. What the hell is market value on that?

Ammo's going to be a problem...

Mount it on, heh. For display? Or to haul around and (shudder) shoot?

Must know these things before I can answer. Hmmmm, Now I gotta figger out what the muzzle energy is. Sheesh. Ask a simple question, why doncha?

Are you sure he isn't getting a 20mm or 7.62mm gatling? If he's really getting a GAU-8, I'm going to have to come visit. I know there are some 7.62s on the Registry and there might be some 20mms, but the 30mm?

The real question is: Where is he going to park it? (Check my site)

However, my first recommendation for mounting it? In an A-10.


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 29, 2004
Who Tends the Fires links with: "NEWS" should be done in the privacy of one's home.

March 28, 2004

Someday, perhaps the Mistress of Castle Argghhh!...

...will let me bring one of these home!

Now if I could only remember what it was... from the museum at Watervliet Arsenal, where almost all of our cannon tubes are made.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 28, 2004

March 5, 2004

Gratuitous Gun Pic

I'll take two, please.


Barret's 25mm "Payload Rifle". It's a .pdf article, so you'll need Acrobat Reader.

by John on Mar 05, 2004
VodkaPundit links with: Tom Clancy Drool-Fest
Les Jones's Blog-Like Web Product links with: Thursday Gun Links #8

March 2, 2004

A gratuitous gun pic.

It's a little big for the living room wall... but I like it.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 02, 2004

February 13, 2004

Gratuitous Gun Pic.

The late model 25-pounder howitzer in front of the Royal School of Artillery, Larkhill. Beautiful gun - not just this one, but from a gunner's perspective.

Here's a shot (from the website above) of a full up nicely kitted out howitzer on it's azimuth platform, caisson, and tractor. For you non-technical types: gun thingy on gizmo that makes it easy to spin around, ammo-holding thingy, and towing thingy. 8^D

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 13, 2004
Mind of Mog links with: Glorious Good Gay G

February 11, 2004

In Honor of the Clark Barbeque

Here's a picture of where I'd like to take the Arsenal at Castle Argghhh! From a good buddy and enabler in Australia comes this picture of him moving one of his FOUR 25-pounder guns, and his Bren Gun Carrier he used to pull them off the trailer as he relocates from his old spread to his new digs now that he's married. Yes, guys - he's married to a woman as wonderful as She Who Will Be Obeyed - she not only lets him have FOUR cannon - but he also owns a tracked vehicle!

And at least one of his guns appears to be a veteran of the Western Desert campaigns of WWII. Sadly, there was a mishap with the Armstrong gun lying on its side there, but these guns are tough.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 11, 2004

February 3, 2004

Small Mortars, Part 1. The Japanese "Knee" Mortar.

Okay, lets face it. If you are an infantryman, life sucks. It sucks because your own guys make fun of you (as long as there is room to run). When they get sloppy they accidentally kill and maim you. The pay aint that great, and living under canvas or in muddy holes just isnt all that much fun. (These are many of the reasons I was an artilleryman, lending dignity to what was otherwise a vulgar brawl). Add to that the crappy food, full of sand, smothered in flies (mmmmm, protein!), and living in filth with nasty, inadequate clothing (while those b*st*rd quartermaster guys lived in requisitioned houses and replaced all their clothes all the time, not to mention running the bath and laundry, and always treated you like you were stealing when you needed to replace something), and amusing yourself by seeing how many rats you could kill with your bayonet while waiting for the bombardment to end, or for those flying a**holes to drop their bombs and bugger out for 3 hots and cot with nightcaps at the club.

Then. THEN theres that other poor dumb b*st*rd who is just as miserable as you are and hes trying to kill you in the bargain. On purpose, not just by accident, like your own artillery, tanks, and aircraft are doing. (But ya wanna know the dirty little secret? Except when it's for real, and sometimes even then, good chunks of it is fun. As long as there's no serious blood, on either side).

Anyway, people who try to kill you suck. And ones who are trying to do it on purpose, well, they REALLY suck. And not in that nice lady of the evening way, either. These people just really, really suck.

So, first they tried to kill you by stabbing you, hacking you, bashing you.

Like with this Georgian infantry officers sword, Saxon battle axe, or Swedish war hammer, all standing in for the thousands of years that most people who sucked were trying to do you in at close range. Whats a feller to do? Sharp pointy things, sharp-edged things, and blunt objects HURT.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

by John on Feb 03, 2004
INDC Journal: "Documenting the Moonbat Swarm" links with: Another Warning and Something for the Gun Nuts

January 16, 2004

Just because I'm in the mood for cannon...

First - the 13-pounder Nery Gun from the Imperial War Museum... representing artillery technology 100 years ago. All Redlegs have a soft spot in our hearts and heads for this gun and the gunners of Battery L, Royal Horse Artillery.

Action at Nery, 1st September 1914. During the fighting retreat from Mons, Battery L of the Royal Horse Artillery bivouacked by a small town of Nery. Their temporary halt was interrupted during the early morning cavalry patrol warning of the imminent arrival of a large German force of cavalry, infantry and artillery. almost immediately German shells began bursting amongst the battery, accompanied by a rifle and machine gun fire. 3 guns were knocked out before they could be brought into action and two more were disabled soon afterwards, while the British gunners sustained heavy casualties. the remaining no. 6 gun with a scratch crew managed to maintain a steady fire for some two hours inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans until reinforcements arrived, driving off the surviving German unties. Three Victoria crosses (one posthumously) and two French medaille militaire were awarded and two NCO's were commissioned after the action.

Second, the Panzer Haubitze 2000, representing the current state of the "heavy' art. Which, as Daddy Rumsfeld says, "Is bad." I don't care. I like this gun and it's Brit counterpart, the AS90.

Hat tip to JMH for the PzH2K pic.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 16, 2004

December 21, 2003

Ta-daaaa! PIAT P0rn!

Okay, ladies and gents, the wait is over. PIAT P0rn is here! Here you see Pete PIAT next to Carl the Gustav. (Yeah, I'm lazy, still haven't lugged Carl back to his shelf). While it was kinda covered in the comments to the original tease post below, we'll get into the down and dirty of Pete today.

I was going to direct you to a site that details a battle during WWII where a PIAT gunner won the Victoria Cross. But proud Canadian Dr. Funk beat me to the punch. To save you having to drop down, I'll just stick it right in here. Hat tip to Dr. Funk saving me any further work on that aspect (and a salute to PIAT Gunner Smith, I might add!)

Okay, so what did you do with a PIAT? You shot these. You shot them direct fire mode at point targets, like tanks, pillboxes, machine guns, etc. Or you shot them indirect fire at area targets out to 370 meters. A good gunner could hit point targets out that far as well, but the geometry of sighting could get a little complex - especially if you were trying to keep your head from getting shot off!

In Brit parlance, this is a bomb. It's a shaped-charge warhead, capable of defeating most WWII tank armor, if not the frontal armor of the last generation german tanks, certainly the top and flank and rear armor.

What were the challenges here? Well, number one, shaped charges do NOT like to be spun, it disperses the plasma jet that does the actual damage. So that ruled out a gun. Plus, this weapon was intended for leg (actual walking, non-motorized) infantry and airborne forces initially. So they tried to keep it a little bit on the light side. (It's still a monster to hump). So, how to make a recoiless gun without it being a gun - and yet able to absorb the recoil of a 3 pound projectile being sent with enough ooomph to travel 370 meters?

You make it a spigot mortar. With a whopping huge spring to absorb the recoil. And you stick what amounts to a .303 blank in the tail of the bomb, making the tail, in effect, the barrel.

With the rod retracted, you set the bomb in the flanges on either side of the hole. The base of the bomb is flared to fit these flanges and hold tight. The flanges served to hold it in place and align the tail for the rod. Holding in place was important when you were above your target, such as during the city fighting for Arnhem Bridge during Operation Market-Garden.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 21, 2003

December 19, 2003

Gratuitious Gun Pic just for kicks.

Take a look at the PIAT, Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank...

More detail on this to follow this weekend.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 19, 2003

November 6, 2003

Guns just laying around the countryside for the picking!

Cute ones, like this ugly little spud of a 9CWT howitzer...

Or famous ones (if you're into the history of artillery, anyway) the Brit 5.5in howitzer of WWII...

Squat ones like this 64-pounder fortress gun...

Skeletal ones like this 12-pounder fortress gun...

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 06, 2003

October 16, 2003

More GunP0rn

I was busy yesterday, and will be again today, so my commentary will be light again (not that most of you come here for that...). Oddly enough, Misha links to my post yesterday, everyone comes here to look at the pictures, and goes back there to comment. Weird the way it works. Like reading your local paper and sending your Letters to the Editor to Time.

Anyway - as the discussion ran it's usual meandering way into a discussion of the various merits of which arm, which caliber, etc, Ironbear broke in with a comment "But absolutely nothing says "I love you" like a Carl Gustav M2 M550 round through the window..."

I was inspired. So here she is, that stocky little Scandinavian number, the M2 Carl Gustav 84mm RCL! So here's to you, Ironbear, GustavPorn!

So, there she is on stage, all her bits covered, and the strap dangling deliciously akimbo on her shoulder. This little sweetheart was born in Sweden, and later emigrated to Israel. She came to the US after the IDF dumped her for another woman! Talk about miffed! She was dumped for her younger sister! She's still proud of who she is, and doesn't hide her identity from anyone.

Want to know more? Then come behind the curtain... no cover charge, no tip to the maitre 'd blog....

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 16, 2003
Say Uncle links with: Gotta love it

October 6, 2003

Okay, one pic before I head out.

This is a shot of my 81mm mortar, with the fancy sights, also used on artillery. Note the weld in the tube. (Can't shoot, LE/Shocked anti-gun persons!) I also don't have a base cup for it, though I'm making one (no firing pin, BATFE-types). The grey thing on the right is a Canadian 3inch training mortar. The bottom is cut out so that the round, when dropped, falls at your feet. Keeps the crew in position, too. 3inch mortar rounds are heavy.

You can also see the breech of the 57mm M18 Reckless Rifle to the left. Behind, from top to bottom are a US 3.5 inch bazooka with inert round, a PLO RPG-7 (thats a 7, no suffix, meaning iron sights, no rail for the scope). There's a B-40 rocket stuck in it because I hadda put the rocket somewhere. Next is a brit Mark X fencing musket, which is a spring-loaded pogo stick you used in bayonet training. next under is a Czech M98/22 Mauser. Barely visible between the M18 and the mortar is the front barrel-band of a Czech VZ-24 mauser. Next is an Egyptian FN-49 (not a Century hash job for those who know what I mean), and finally, one of my various variants of the Brit SMLE. Ya can barely see the next thing, which is a Swift Training Rifle, also Brit.

See ya later!

by John on Oct 06, 2003

October 1, 2003

Scary Gratuitous Gun Pic

This is what happens when you let an Infantryman play with nukes. They develop the Davy Crockett. While it's not quite true that the blast radius exceeded the range - you didn't have a lot of area to work with! Yes, that little thing on the ground in the right rear is a nuke. Well, not that actual one,of course, since it's in the Watervliet Arsenal museum (well worth the visit if you can get there). So, no, I don't have one - but I wish I did (with an inert warhead, I'm not stoopid!)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Oct 01, 2003

September 28, 2003

As a Redleg...

...and having a strong interest in the technology of war, I have a projectile collection, as well. I used these things when I was teaching tactics and military history to Field Artillery officers, and still lend bits and pieces of my kit for displays in the local area.

These are my older bits - civil war projectiles, all battlefield recoverys. I really like the sectioned shrapnel shells, showing the balls in the supporting matrix, and the details of how the fuzing operated (obviously not that well on these!).

The shells are Union. How to tell? The balls were generally all the same (though the south did have some odd side-loaders due to technical issues in small manufactorys) general design and shape and used the same fuzes. The discriminator right here is the supporting matrix is yellow - sulphur. As sulphur is a key ingredient in black powder, the south didn't have the luxury of using it in this manner. They used pitch, instead. So, if it's yellow, it's Union. Have fun with that, those of you who think the outcome of April, 1865 was a bad thing. I'm glad to be a Yankee, thanks - even though the only family I had fighting in the Civil War were on the losing side - one on staff with Bragg, the other a member of the Orphan Brigade.

by John on Sep 28, 2003

Giving BradySchumerStein a break today.

Regular readers will be now have deduced I'm an artilleryman. I'm other things, too, but a Redleg is my core self-image as a soldier. And while I collect Tools of the Trade (tm) for soldiering in general, I also like to get cool bits of artillery kit. This is one such item. Don Sensing of OneHandClapping and I recently tried to outgeek each other in this field, talking about HE data computation, using a site stick, working the Christmas Tree. The Christmas Tree is what gunnery students in at Fort Sill called the color-coded meteorological data form. Simply put, the Met Data Form was used to take met data and compute the corrections that needed to be applied to basic firing data to account for weather. This gizmo is a Swiss mechanical computer to do the same thing for the 105mm fortress gun. Yes, I figured out how to use it. Pretty cool.

by John on Sep 28, 2003