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June 27, 2006


Okay, SangerM gets the brag. He undoubtedly remembers looking down at it on more than one occasion...

It's the skid toe shoe for Hubert.

I don't care *what* kind of shoe it is--it's too tight around my toes!

MajMike was savvy enough to guess that Sanger knew what he was talking about, but he muffed the location. Nope, not vegetation-dings, either, John. The chipped areas are from gravel 'n' stuff kicked up by the rotorwash in "unimproved" LZs (never did see an "improved" LZ, except the hot ones that got worked over by suppressive fires) and the abrasions (red circle) are from contact with the towbar during ground-handling. The towbar attaching ring is on the inside of the skid, just aft of the skid shoe and the bar angles up when it's hooked to a tug; hence, the abraded area is always on the side facing toward the fuselage. In this case, the fuselage was to the right, so the toe shoe was on the left. Elementary, my dear Mikey.

A little tip-toe on the skid-toe, eh, AFSis? Makes getting in-and-out of a Huey a whole bunch easier than a Cobra...

by CW4BillT on Jun 27, 2006

Whatziss, indeed...

“Whatziss?” sez John. And, after a torrent of guesses (“It’s the nano-black hole that ry installed in the garderobe to to keep from having a Kevin moment.” “It’s an aerial view of Tehran on the Day After.” Et cetera…), the dénouement.

“Nope, it’s the ventilation hole in the spike of an uhlan's pikelhaub from the Franco-Prussian War. Snerk.”

*sigh.* But do *I* post a picture like this


and say, “Whatziss?”

Nope. Not I. You guys get to see the *entirety* of the whatziss.


Yup, that’s the whole thing.

And it even comes with clues--you may not have consciously absorbed the information, but if you saw The Green Berets, or Hamburger Hill, or We Were Soldiers Once… or even Cartoon --uhhhhh--Platoon, you should be able to dredge the image up through the neuron net.

Ummmm--and it's been cleaned up. A *lot*...


[Apropos of Bill's comment - it could be here. Or here. Or several other places. If you are new to the Castle, you should *definitely* click the first link. Actually, you should click through and read *both*. -The Armorer]

by CW4BillT on Jun 27, 2006

June 20, 2006


--looks like I've got to re-evaluate my definition of "a lead pipe cinch." Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce

Smoke gets in your eyes...

the control head for the M118 Smoke Dispenser

Now, you may have heard rollicking, primordial laughter emanating from somewhere south of the Delaware Water Gap every time you thought "rockets" about this critter.

That was me.

Four measley toggle switches, four cheap plastic rotary ID switches -- for *rockets*?


This is what a Rocket Management System looks like. Eat yer heart out, Lex.

Okay, back to Smokey Joe. Sometime during the late seventies, some brainiac realized that sending OH-58As out looking for the Soviet 357th Motorized Rifle Horde when the balloon went up was just going to crank up the US casualty list that much sooner. So, he decided that, since the Cobras were going there *anyway*, they might as well have the capability to mark their own targets before they engaged them.

Yeah, that was our reaction, too.

But, the result was the M118. Remember what I said about how a malfunction would ruin your whole day? Take a peek at the functional test. If the clamps failed to extend, the smoke popped while it was still hung up in the ejector. Try evading some clown in a MiG-23 while you're dragging a red smoke cloud through the woods...

Meantime, brags go to Trias for sorta-kinda pretty much nailing it, albeit squishily; to Nicholas and wolfwalker for figgering out the color aspect; and to Eric for twigging to the color knobs having an identification, rather than a selector, function. Oh, and to John, for spelling intervalometer correctly.

And, if you really, *really* have to see where this thing got squeezed into the cockpit, drop in at the AirCav site -- it's an interactive hotmap, so rather than use up gobs of John's bandwidth, just copy 'n' paste

to your browser window, then you can play with it all you want. Lotta neat stuff to get your eyeballs crossed (visualize John actually *sitting* in the seat). And working with all that arcane avionics aeronautica was a *lot* more fun than trying to get an aiming circle needle to hold still...

by CW4BillT on Jun 20, 2006

June 19, 2006


Well, since John has been grumphing that my stuff is more enigmatic than a German cypher machine, I figure I'll make everybody's day by posting a lead-pipe cinch:

Calling Bletchley Park. Come In,  Bletchley Park...

Geez, wotta a bunch of whiners! Okay, okay--here's another view of it:

Okay--at least *part* of QWERTY made it...

Obviously, it's not a stand-alone item--it's gotta be connected to something else in order to function and to enable that something else to function, too. Ummmm--*several* something elses, that is.

When the entire system worked, it did exactly what it was designed to do, and when it didn't--wellllll, that was another one of those times when it really sucked to be me...


Update: Text from Trias, italics from yours truly--

A controller! I win I win Ok you can stop hitting me now.

It looks old and worn but that might be the norm in the military. The delicate fuscia peach and charcoal tones indicate military. The item looks worn on the edges which, with the plug n play bit, suggests that the item is often handled and removed.

At the same time it looks fairly robust. Like it might need to be resistant to the bumps etc of movement. So i think this is for a vehicle of some type.

Left hand and right hand arm. Kinda says aircraft missiles doesn't it? But i'll go outside that and say helicopter. And because i think it's kinda plug n play i could be a 'special' weapon (weapon used real loosely here)like flares smoke grenade or something like that.

It's the dials which have me scrathing my head RGBYWV. The closest match for me is red green blue yellow w?white? and violet? Colours? Hardly a rainbow. Maybe for parades? Far more likely a code. But what the hell does that mean? And being the foremost expert in military hoohar i am utterly lost in the woods.

So a controller for a helicopter special weapon??

I love guessing.

Okay, the lad from the Land of Warm Christmases has put enough shotgun pellets into the target (although he's slightly off the mark on a minor point) to define it, generically. So, what is it *specifically*--meaning system nomenclature and aircraft-of-application?

I toldja it was a lead-pipe cinch...

by CW4BillT on Jun 19, 2006

May 18, 2006

It's "Whatziss," *not* "Whazzis," John. Geez...

Okay, I guess the suspense kept everybody awake all night, so I won’t torture you anymore (oh, won’t that sentence draw some trenchcoated traffic from google--can’t wait).

The Whatziss is the Shaft Pinion and Reduction (SPR--pronounced “spur” and so I shall refer to it as such in the narrative) gear from an OH-6A.


Now, because the Loach was intended for scouting in Vietnam and aeroscouts in Vietnam got shot down a lot, the aircraft was designed to be as light, as maneuverable and as inexpensive as possible. Basic flyaway cost of the ’65 model was about $12,000, which was cheap enough to put it into the “disposable” category in the Army’s mind.

Heh—the Air Force dropped *bombs* that cost more than that.

However, in addition to being light, maneuverable and inexpensive, the OH-6 was also overpowered, overbuilt and rugged as all get-out. Repairing them wasn’t always cost-effective, though, since the Hughes Tool and Die Company (don'tcha just *love* that name!) never did ramp up to producing a lot of spare parts, so, with limited production runs coupled with the usual boondoggles, it was sometimes cheaper to buy a new helicopter than repair the old one. So the Army bought a * lot * of them--over 1,400.

In 1968, the Army decided that Howard Hughes had gotten rich enough off the gummint, ceased purchases of the OH-6 and fielded Bell’s OH-58. Or, as we called it, the OH-Five-point-Eight--because it wasn’t quite as good as a Six.

Then, in 1975, the Army decided to dump allocate anything even remotely reminding it of Vietnam the remaining OH-6s to the National Guard—and for the first time ever, the Guard had a better piece of equipment than the Active Army. So, for twenty-plus more years, the little disposable helicopter soldiered on. Found a niche in the civilian world as the Hughes 500, too. But helicopters don’t age gracefully--vibration, tension, torsion and corrosion take their toll and metal fatigue inevitably sets in and weakens critical components.

The Problem

Since the shaft pinion and reduction gear was part of the mechanism that reduced 6,000 engine rpm to 497 main rotor rpm, it was a critical component. And one that the book said didn’t have to be inspected more often than every 500 flight hours. The Loach’s engine was mounted diagonally and the spur gear connected directly from the accessory gearbox to the transmission driveshaft--so in addition to vibration, tension, torsion and corrosion, the gear was also subjected to temperature extremes. But it was tough--remember what I said about the Loach being overbuilt? Unfortunately, it was only overbuilt for a “disposable” helicopter.

Enter metal fatigue. The steel crystallizes at stress points, the crystals shatter and hairline cracks develop in the shaft walls. The hairline cracks become * big * cracks and, if not discovered, become mini San Andreas faults. Here’s where the problems were developing:

No, guys--look *inside* the oval...

Then, one day, the San Andreas goes *ka-rack!*, and you get the following:

The engine, suddenly unloaded from the task of turning the massive gears in the transmission, overspeeds and overheats, in excess of, respectively, 30,000 rpm and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The pieces of spur gear start rattling around internally and the accessory gearbox eats itself alive. Soon thereafter, the fuel and oil lines surrounding and feeding the engine warp and crack due to the excessive heat and spray aromatic hydrocarbons all over. If you’re lucky, it doesn’t explode immediately, it just sort of catches fire. And, since the Falklands War pretty much established the fact that aluminum *will* burn, your fuselage joins the action, too.

Meanwhile, the transmission, since it’s not being powered anymore, decides to take a rest, and the main rotor rpm decays--rapidly. Which means, if you’re caught by surprise by the noise in back and the realization that you can now see the individual blades, you’ve got about a second to enter autorotation, retard the throttle to the idle detent, honk the nose back into a hairy assed pronounced flare to attempt to regain rotor rpm, and pray you’re directly above an open field that won’t mind hosting the burning, disabled helicopter that just dropped in unannounced.

I just hate it when that happens.

So, for about a month, us Instructor Pilot types did nothing but teach the other guys the symptoms and the cure and practice, practice, practice the emergency procedure. Finally, some bright light said, “Hey—the civilian models don’t have this problem. I wonder why?” The answer was simple. Because the Hughes Aircraft and Missile Corporation anticipated that the Hughes 500 would last a good, long while and so made the upper portion of the spur gear wall one millimeter thicker. As in, 1mm.

Great, said the Guard Bureau’s Aviation Directorate. We’ll just install the Hughes 500 spur gear in the OH-6 and everything will be hunky-dory. So Guard Bureau shelled out seven grand apiece for about four hundred civilian spur gears.

Non-milspec spur gears.

The Dénouement

You can see this coming already, can’t you? Yup. Some Log Colonel who didn’t care *why* Aviation bought the civvie gears had a fit because they were “non-standard,” snagged the shipment before it could be distributed and had a machine shop mill one millimeter from the thickness of the wall. He thereby turned the new, non-milspec, *good* gears into new, milspec *bad* gears and released them for distribution.

Without telling the Aviation guru what he’d done.

Fortunately, the Quality Control guys in hangars around CONUS noticed the shiny, freshly-milled band (Hi-Rez!), broke out the micrometers and quarantined the lot of ‘em.

The word reached the top of the heap and, that afternoon, there was a fresh scalp dangling from a Two-Star’s lodge pole.

And, since an IP never passes up a chance to add a busted part to his collection of training aids, I snagged a couple for the IP office before they got sent to the recycle bin. Casual visitors used to spot the one on my desk and ask, “Whazzat?”

So, I labeled it for their benefit.

Hey, Boq! You oughta see it when its full of pencils...

I can get downright artistic with White-Out…

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


From HomefrontSix:

Mac sez: The cut into the valleys is too deep. This is evident by the machining grooves that can be seen in the buttress. ie the bevel at the bottom of the top gear. If the cut was made to the proper depth, machine marks would not be seen below the bottom of the top gear. The depth of this cut has negated any additional strength that the buttress might have provided.

Heh. MacGyver twigged that it was too thin and he spotted the extraneous milling--not *perfect*, but I'd say it's close enough for an FFE. I'm quietly proud that a fellow brooding, introverted, anticipator of trouble got it before one of the buoyantly extroverted stiff-wing polishers.

And, as usual, Boq cut right to the chase.

Discoloration on The Vanes??? Why, I think that those polychromatic shades of patina confers an august je-ne-sai-quois to that paper weight ;)
by CW4BillT on May 18, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: A whodunit...

May 17, 2006

Whatziss (with a twist)

I’m sure you’ve all heard the military procurement horror stories -- the $500 hammer, the coffeemaker for the C-5 that was built to withstand G-forces that would turn the crew two-dimensional, the Air Defense system that showed a preference for engaging the broad side of a barn rather than an attacking aircraft, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Some of the tales are the result of the “investigative reporter” jiggering the figures, some are the result of imperfectly-written specifications, some are genuine cases of Waste, Fraud ‘n’ Abuse and still others are the result of what Dusty so aptly described as Pugnacious Stupidity.

The ol’ “My mind is made up -- don’t confuse me with the facts” Syndrome.

“The reg sez thus-and-such, therefore thus-and-such it is and ever shall be” -- even though the (never identified) reg may refer to something else entirely. Or the reg might just be flat-out wrong -- it was written by a human being, after all (the classic appeared in a series of changes to the OH-6A Operator's Manual, defining FARs -- Federal Aviation Regulations -- as Flying Aircraft Regulations). Or, the reg might have been correct when written, but is now hopelessly outdated.

The most expensive item in my little museum came to me courtesy of outdated specs augmented by a slavish adherence to the regs. This little beauty (*not* the needle-nosers) cost the National Guard $7,000 in 1988 dollars, as did each of its four-hundred-odd brethren.

View from the Top. Or a reasonable facsimile

What was it worth upon delivery, after its rather tortuous journey through the procurement process?

Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nema. Rien. Nulla. Không. Nichts. ничто. For its intended application, anyway.

The reason for its transition from a shot-peen-hardened, single-block-milled, fairly expensive aircraft part to a shot-peen-hardened, single-block-milled, fairly expensive hunk of junk is visible in the pic below:

Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the term, “Military Gear,” huh?

And, for the metallurgical detectives among you, here’s the Hi-Rez.

Geez, I even impress *me* with how good I’m getting at this close-up stuff.

“Well, first off -- what is it?” you inquire. Well, since it’s kind of an esoteric part, and since you’d have to be an especially groggish grognard to know for absolute certain-sure what it is, I think I’ll be lousy, mean, rotten and spiteful and let you guess. Even Jon the Knuckle-skinner is gonna find this one a toughie.

But I can use the chuckles.

Ummmm, sorry, Miz HomefrontSix, ma’am, it’s not the gear that stows the rotor blades in flight to allow you to activate an ejection seat.

*going totally queasy at that visual…*

by CW4BillT on May 17, 2006
» Alphecca links with: Your Tax Dollars At Work
» MilBlogs links with: Seasoned Helo pilots...

May 11, 2006

Whatziss? Is Ziss...

...and resist the temptation to spend all the time googling Bill's thrice-dam*ed "Whazziss?".

I hate it when John whines. He never serves the proper cheese...


...cheese, you guys were woefully shortchanged during your survival training (you prolly drew the SEAL for an instructor--they have a tough time with the concept of "fire" as something you make, as opposed to something you call for).

"simple, it's a butain lighter from a survival kit"--Mudpuppy1975 got it!

One of these days, I gotta practice my closeups...

Lighter, butane, refillable--the firestarter kit from the SRU-21/P Aviator's Survival Vest. Bigger pic (easier to see the details, not necessarily higher resolution. John doesn't call me Twitchy Bill for zero reason...) here.

If they'd just made 'em "Lighter, butane," they probably wouldn't have had the reliability problem--the critters osmoted butane past the O-ring gaskets. I wasn't there, but I can just about guarantee the following conversation took place between the R&D geeks: "...and if we make them refillable, all the pilot has to do when he runs out is go to the nearest convenience store and buy a can of butane in the tobacco section."

You *can* refill them, btw. On both the MkI and the MkII, the spark wheel and flint module pop out and expose the refill valve--a quarter of an inch deeper than any commercial refill head will reach, so you have to combine two of the adapter nozzles (and different ones for each--gotta love standardization like that ) to do the trick. Which is a pain, but worth it when you pull it out in some dive uhhhhh gin mill intimate little club to light a lady's cig and she says, "Oooooooh--interesting lighter. Where'd you get it?"

The other problem (operator-induced) the MkI has is that, if you twist the control head much past a quarter-turn and flick the spark wheel, you get a six-foot-long flame, albeit for about three seconds. It could attract undesired attention in an evasion situation. However, since you probably wouldn't even *think* of starting a campfire in the midst of the baddie battalion beating the bushes for you, it's a moot point.

I was only semi-surprised that V29 didn't pick up on it, since we were only issued a vest (one per aircraft, *not* one per crewman--that's still another shortage we had) on rare occasions.

I actually got to wear one twice.


Actually, that's kinda moot, too. Down where we were, a survival kit was two personal weapons and 50 rounds for each of them--because if you went down and didn't hookup with friendlies within ten minutes, you became an Alamo re-enactor while the other side came at you with the Degüello playing in the background...

by CW4BillT on May 11, 2006

May 09, 2006


That whole incident with the water buffalo and the ninja spider was highly exaggerated. For one thing, I've never used a wrench on a spider in assault mode--a simple *flick* of the index finger and he becomes HALO qualified.

If you use a wrench, you can't see the look on his face when he hits the slipstream.

And if I'd inadvertently plunked down in the immediate proximity of a water buffalo, I'd at least have had the presence of mind to use today's "Okay--WTF is that?" on him.

One of these things is kinda like the other...heh!

The dummy 20mm round is just there to provide a sense of scale--these doohickies were hand-operated. When they worked at all, they worked well, but they *did* have a reliability problem, especially the MkI, pictured at center--you had to remove the protective knurled sleeve, then arm it with a counterclockwise quarter-turn; if you didn't turn it far enough, it wouldn't function at all, and if you turned it too far, it became just as hazardous to you as to the target. If your fingers were wet, you were up the creek.

They solved that problem in the MkII by adding a small function bar with a mechanical stop. It also ameliorated the reliability problem, somewhat, but it was just as dangerous if you panicked and pushed it past the stop.

And no, these aren't live. The initiating mechanisms are intact, but the *boom* stuff...ummmmmm--*went away*--a long time back.

ROFASix and Outlaw 13 probably know what they are (I know V29 does--heh!), and some of the older Special Ops guys might have had a chance to play with the MkII. It took me about three minutes to Google a pic of the MkI (and it was for sale, too. Some people have no sense of historical significance...)

I figure it should take all of fifteen minutes for *somebody* to hit it. I owed you guys an easy one after the water gauge...

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

It's been a loooooong fifteen minutes, guys, so here's a hint:

Check my comment to Bloodspite. The HEEDS is a cylinder containing a compressed gas (air)--that's the track that needs further exploration.

John: The link to the MkI is still there--the guy bills it as "Rare" and wants $39.95 for it. Only reason it's "rare" is because the WTFs that survived Vietnam got sent to the National Guard (part of the usual Army hand-me-downs played up in the Army Times as *modernizing* the Guard), from whence they were transferred to the nearest dumpster when the Life Support techs found out how unreliable they were--and the reason!

by CW4BillT on May 09, 2006

May 07, 2006

Ninja Spiders, Water Buffalo, Guardian Angels

That can only mean one thing. Bill and Beer.

This morning I found a packet nailed to the portcullis as I went to pick up local recycle fodder.

My first thought was I had an ecclesiastical crisis, which is strange since the Castle is not an ecclesiastical seat of anything. I did check the scanners for KWiPs (Kossacks With Pitchforks), but it was clear. I do that every morning before raising the 'cullis. Even the Moat Monsters and Drawbridge troll won't eat them. I turned my attention to the packet. It was wrapped in a hastily handwritten note. All it said was: "See what we have to put up with!?!"

When I unwrapped the note, out fell a ragged white feather of radiant purity.

And the attached Army Accident Report form. Badly tattered and stained. I swear some of those stains look pretty salty, too.

Ahhhhhh. [light goes on] Carborundum, Bill's Guardian Angel, was by last night. Probably drunk again. He can't ever remember his Portcullis PIN when he's drunk, and he's too conscientious to fly in that condition. Ahem.

Must be because of this. Bill still needs his GAs even now that he's retired, and especially moreso since one of his GA Remotes was recalled to Piddler's Green for debriefing and rest.

Though she did leave a sensor behind.

1. Summary: Helicopter impacted water buffalo during evening transit.
Helicopter trampled and gored.

2. [Oil stain]

3. Circumstances.
A. Origin. Some godforsaken hellhole with a quonset hut, I don’t remember, they all look alike to me.
B. Mission. Morale improvement [of pilot, buddies, and anybody else wanting a beer]
C. FLT purpose code. B33R.

4. [eaten by insects]

5. Damage and costs.
A. Helicopter.
1. Effectively destroyed, unless somebody comes up with an entire skid and most of the components usually found on the left side. Plus the rotor got gnawed on a bit. And a wrench-sized hole in front windshield.
B. Army property damage. 20 kegs beer, $119.60. [handwritten: Really?][handwritten in by different hand: Nobody said get *good* beer, did they?]
C. Non DoD property damage. Bruised and irritated water buffalo, property of some guy yelling at me and no, I didn’t get his name. I could identify the water buffalo in a lineup, as long as it was restrained. Those things hold a grudge.

6. Personnel information, injuries and costs.
A. Souls on board. two, including enemy stowaway.
B. Crew. Pilot at controls, callsign SugarButtons (SB), on duty, injury to “third point of contact”, claimed shot off, claim not supported by medical staff.
C. Total number of passengers. One stowaway, fatal injury during hand-to-hand combat.[handwritten:It was a goddam SPIDER, and I don’t care what Tuttle says it is NOT Viet Cong.]

7 [missing pages]

(8) Chronology
(A) (P) All times local. times from 2000 to 0438 are approximate.
07:00 - SB awakes.
11:45 - SB gets crappy lunch.
12:15 - SB given yet another do-the-impossible-immediately mission, making 6 total for the day. [handwritten: Don’t we have a code for those?].
13:05 - SB pulls off immediate and impossible. Chewed out for lateness.
14:00 - SB tightens Jesus Nut with wrench (Exhibit A).
14:34 - Helicopter develops mange in tail boom, requires maintenance.
14:57 (est) - Stowaway enters helicopter, takes concealed position above pilot’s seat.
15:32 - Helicopter declared mange-free, SB returns to duty as bullet magnet.
17:45 - SB gets crappy dinner.
18:00 - SB featured participant in self-criticism exercise.
19:30 - SB heard to say “Oh God, I need a drink”
19:31 - SB hears of source of large quantities of beer, takes off to locate same.
20:10 - SB obtains and stows 20 kegs beer, takes off to return to base.
20:27:10 - Stowaway deploys internal ninja rappel line, attacks SB.
20:27:12 - radio transmission “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!”
20:27:13 - SB grabs wrench (Exhibit A), swings at stowaway. Stowaway performs evasive maneuvers.
20:27:16 - SB uses overhand swing to smash stowaway with wrench. Stowaway killed instantly, body not recovered. Wrench penetrates windshield. [handwritten: Did we get any injury claims due to falling wrench?]
20:27:18 - SB notices negative altitude progression, pauses victory celebration to level helicopter.
20:27:19 - Impact of helicopter left skid with startled water buffalo.
20:27:21 - Helicopter tilts and lands in non-regulation manner on side. Enraged water buffalo is entangled in skid. Beer kegs break loose from restraints.
20:27:22 - Rogue beer keg drops under water buffalo.
20:28 - Water buffalo steps on beer keg during attempted destruction of helicopter, keg is stuck on left hind hoof.
20:31 - SB exits helicopter, circles under cover of foliage, and attracts attention of water buffalo.
20:32 - Enraged water buffalo rights helicopter attempting to attack SB.
20:35 - SB leaves jacket on stick as decoy, saunters back to helicopter, restows beer, and takes off. Enraged water buffalo is still entangled in left skid.
20:51 - Water buffalo undocks from helicopter. Takes skid as war prize.
21:15 - SB arrives with beer, and there is much rejoicing.
04:20 - Maintenance chief notices helicopter missing skid and most of left side parked on pad.
04:20:03 - Heard throughout base: “TUTTLE!”
04:25:05 - SB heard to say “It wasn’t me!”
04:38 - SB states damage sustained by VC action and sabotage.

9,10. [more missing pages]

11. analysis.
a. Aircrew factor - SB failed to notice water buffalo. Rejected. Water buffalo had no night running lights or luminous markers.
b.Aircrew factor - SB had “anticipated” party and gotten hammered. Rejected. All available evidence including witness statements indicate SB could not have done any of the above actions impaired by alcohol, plus it would take more than the one missing keg to do it.
C. Enemy action - VC spider attacked SB to capture beer and/or helicopter. Rejected. There is absolutely no evidence enemy cadres have sunk to enlisting arachnids. Spider was most likely an independent actor.
D. Act of God - meteor strike. Rejected. All damage to helicopter was on lower surfaces. Meteors strike from above, and even Tuttle can’t fly a helicopter upside down. We think.
E. Bad Luck - These Things Just Happen, Especially to Tuttle (TTJHET). Accepted. Prior accident reports attached as reference.
Who: Aircrew, pilot at controls, TUTTLE!!!!
What: Bad Luck, TTJHET, ninja spiders
Why: malign fate, complacency, and problem not forseeable. I mean, who anticipates ninja spiders?

by John on May 07, 2006

May 02, 2006

But whaddya do with the empties?

The Ma Deuce is a nice weapon and trying to set the headspace and timing on one when you've misplaced the li'l gunner's widget is an interesting way to pass an afternoon.

However, I prefer a round that makes a bang at initiation *and* at termination. One that's also a tad larger than the .50 cal...

Sarge B's scion meets his big brother

Pulling both of those out of your pocket during a Hangar Tour always got the kids' attention. And showing them the gun that fired it and how it was fed always presented a nice opportunity to teach them about gearing ratios, transducers and transformers, voltage regulators and a bit of physics. Heh--and "links" meant something other than "read what this blogger has to say"...

Hey, kids--*this* is linky-love...

Now, an expended 20mm shell casing is a marvelous thing. Large enough to be useful at work, either after a slight modification...

I know a guy who made a handle for his survival knife out of a casing. I asked him how he expected to use it in sub-zero temperatures and he said he'd just find a deer and get it to stick its tongue on the handle...

...or without. Just think artistically...

Okay, so it ain't Rembrandt.

However, the ultimate use for the expended casing was to turn it into something functional in the field, especially something that would enhance certain occasions--such as those al fresco interludes involving you and your MRE...


by CW4BillT on May 02, 2006

April 18, 2006

Okay -- Here's What It Is...

Like Captain JMH says, context is everything -- and in this case, if I'd shown it in context (below)

Form follows function, all right...

the gun bunnies would have gotten it without even a second thought. As it is, Outlaw 13 nailed it and KCSteve did a pretty good tap dance.

The Mk66 rocket, aka Hydra 70, is spin-stabilized, which is the reason for the scarfed nozzle. The fins do what the fins on any rocket does -- they provide drag to keep the business end pointed toward the target. When they're in storage, the shielding sleeve keeps the fins folded against the motor and allows the rocket to be loaded without much hassle. HomefrontSix nailed the site, just the wrong bit of ordnance. Click here and scroll down to the section on igniters for the line drawing.

Here's what the motor looks like with fins extended.

Form follows function here, too...

If you were curious enough to read the entire blurb at Ordnance-dot-org, you read about the effects of EMI on the Mk66 motor. This particular motor was used in those tests -- notice the little bolt sticking into what would be the exhaust stream? That's where one of the testing receiver's wires were attached.

And I might as well show you the motor in context, too.

Form follows function here, too. Boy, am I getting mileage out of *that* old chestnut...

No, the rocket's *not* live. I'm not completely crazy, y'know...

"Well, Officer, I think the 2.75" holes in the roof, the second story hallway floor, the kitchen ceiling and floor and the basement ceiling were caused by a meteorite which detonated milliseconds before impacting the basement floor -- which is why it's scorched and not cratered. Ummmm -- you're familiar with the Tunguska Event, right? Sooooo, that's my theory, anyway..."

Oh, yeah -- almost forgot about that little hole in the sleeve. That's a dual-function hole: it allows you to touch the fins with a grounding rod *and* (if it's aligned properly) it simplifies loading the rocket into the launcher to guarantee the igniter arm makes proper contact with the motor.

Nice guesses, guys (ummmm -- a *bracelet*, ma'am? Heh!) Just to keep you on your toes, here's a heads'-up: I've got one of the EMI testing receivers, too (no, it isn't a bag of microwaveable popcorn. But it'd have been interesting if I'd stuck one inside the cockpit while we were doing the flights, just to see if the EMI was frying *us* along with the simulated ordnance).

I'll just wait 'til John's short term memory does its thing before I stick *that* little jewel here...

UPDATE: Geez, speaking of short-term memory -- the orange stripe is actually a strip of reinforced tape with "How To" illustrations. John was thinking standard ordnance colors (yellow, olive drab, blue, etc.), but us Aviation types usually rearmed in the weeds and, if the sleeve was dropped around the aircraft (where do you think I got my collection?), the orange made it easy to spot and retrieve before the thing could be turned into a rotorwash-launched missile. And HomefrontSix did rather well, considering she's married to a tandem-rotored truck driver -- she'd have been more familiar with things that went *bang* if these guys were still around.

by CW4BillT on Apr 18, 2006

April 17, 2006

Okay -- What's This?

No, not the bottle. You already know what *that* is. I hope...

The bottle is now as empty as the thing next to it. You've gotta be quicker, Ry.

There actually *is* a colored band on the critter -- I've PhotoShopped the relevant details out just to keep the playing field level, but the hole in the side is real and just about big enough to give a house-hunting wren some real frustration.

It's just a plain aluminum tube

See? Told you it was open at both ends...

with a very important job. And I found it at the second site I Googled (well, only a line drawing of it, but it included all the relevant details), so it's out there...

And, no, Neffi -- it's *not* André's shaving mug.

by CW4BillT on Apr 17, 2006

April 10, 2006

Accessorizing your War Wagon, Part II

Yesterday, as a Public Service, Bill helped you install an Armament Control Panel to your Basic Mode of Transportation Device.

Today - we'll help you with Fire Control by adding a sight. From Arsenal Stocks we offer up the US Navy's Illuminated Sight, Mark 9 Mod 2.

US Navy Illuminated Sight, Mark 9 Mod 2

A real space saver, with the optional mounting kit, easily affixes to your dashboard, right in front of the steering wheel. If you routinely fly with a co-pilot and want greater flexibility, we offer a drop down, trainable mount which will slave to your weapons station. Comes complete with reticle dimmer to account for all lighting conditions.

Nice parallax-correcting sight picture, with dual circle-with-a-pip reticle for your target acquisition and engagement pleasure.

Take that, lane-crosser!

Today only - $99.95*

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 10, 2006

April 09, 2006

Accessorize your War Wagon

Ever drive down the road and mentally blow the driver in front of you to kingdom come with a minigun? It may not have been a completely satisfactory experience if you didn't have the ancilliary switches 'n' stuff to complete your "willing suspension of disbelief."

With a couple of switches and some sheet metal you can pick up for a song at the neighborhood Property Disposal Office (although you may have to submit a sealed bid on a B-52 just to get the switches), you can accessorize your four-wheeled gunship with your very own OH-6A XM-27 armament panel.

XM-27 Armament Panel - Side View

Vwalla! Fiddly bits exposéd! Couple o' wires, a toggle and a rotary switch -- what could be simpler? And you can assemble the whole thing with a pair of needle-nosers.


But if you're less mechanically-inclined than Bad Cat Robot, you can just cut out the top view

XM-27 Armament Panel - Top View

and paste it on your console. Armed/Safe switch to Armed (wait for the light to come on), Master switch to Fire Norm (nothing personal, Norm. Really) and you're ready to squeeze the trigger and send hot, screaming, imaginary leaden death up Slowpoke's exhaust stack.

Ummmmm -- actually, you might want to *print* the pic in lieu of peeling it right off the monitor...

Drive a lot at night? Don't forget to flip the NVG filters over the lights

XM-27 Armament Panel - NVG Filters Down

before you goggle-up.

By the way, congratulations. You've just seen a couple of things that only Little Bird pilots and crewchiefs have seen. Oh, yeah -- *and* the Crash Investigation Teams...

by CW4BillT on Apr 09, 2006