October 30, 2019

Not So Little David

One can't help but think that Morty was... um... overcompensating for something.

One of those things that nobody ever thinks about is bomb aerodynamics.  I mean regular people, that is.  The military, they think about things like that all the time.  After all, when you strap something to the bottom of a wing, it's usually a really good idea to make sure it's not going to have the airflow of an apartment building.  Also, when you drop something from an airplane, it makes it a lot easier to hit what you're aiming at if you know how the thing is going to "fly".  Fall.  Plummet.  You know what I mean.

But of course, there's a catch: getting the darn thing into the sky in the first place.  If it's got more drag than RuPaul on Halloween, strapping it to a wing may not be good for the plane or pilot's long-term survival chances.  Putting it in the bomb bay of a larger plane sounds good, until you actually drop it and you haven't the faintest idea what's going to happen next.  If it tumbles instantly upon the application of an airflow, it's a bad idea to find that out at altitude after it rips your tail off.

So what's an aerial ordinance designer to do?  Well that's just easy as pie: get it into the air without an airplane!  Easy!  Except we're talking about something 500, 1000, 2000 pounds in weight... you can't just pick it up and throw it like a baseball.  Well, I can't, maybe you can.  500lbs is the weight of a 10" naval shell, 2000lbs is closer to a 16" battleship round.  So what's a good way to do it?

Meet the Little David, a 36" caliber mortar!  Yes, a three FOOT diameter barrel.  You put an aerial bomb into a... kind-of sabot thingy... and voop!  You've got a way to get an aerial bomb into the air without endangering an aircraft.  It didn't have much of a range considering the size involved, less than 10km, and accuracy came down to "over there somewhere", but that's not what the US military was wanting anyway.  

Until people began to realize that that the Japanese were turning the home islands into a fortress, and then they began to look at the Little David as a bunker buster of extreme proportions.  The Powers That Be developed a 36" shell, weighing over 3600 pounds, for the mortar.  Problem was that neither the accuracy nor the range was ever improved, and it was never what you could call "portable."  See that wall the guy is standing in front of?  That's a concrete and steel base that had to be buried for stability purposes that the mortar itself would be placed into... the FORTY TON mortar and the FORTY-SIX TON base.

Of course the invasion of Japan never occurred, and people quietly retired Little David as a weapon.  Only one of the six built exists today, and it's on display at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

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October 21, 2019

Akagi Found!

As I semi-postulated would occur in the Kaga post, Paul Allen's team has now found what they are pretty sure to be the Akagi.

Guess the report on them having another ship's location was right!  All of this was breaking just shortly before I'm typing this, so we don't have much information yet, and the RV Petrel apparently either hasn't been down yet or they haven't released any footage.  Still, we can tell a lot from these sonar images.  Like Kaga, Akagi is sitting upright, and it sure looks like she hit with not too much horizontal motion.  I'm hardly an expert on that sort of stuff, so take it with a grain of salt.  

I'm pretty sure the bow is to the left in both images.  If she landed stern-first, that might explain the "arrow-head" shape... the impact could have compressed the stern maybe?  Of course, the flight deck is gone, though I wonder if the Akagi's massive underdeck supports might still be there?  In any case, this is just as exciting as the Kaga finding, and for similar reasons.  Hopefully we'll get to see more as the day goes on!

edit: forgot to mention... according to a comment I saw from Jon Parshall over at the Petrel's facebook page, the Nauticos company did not share the location of the chunk of Kaga's hull with Paul Allen's team... they found the ship on their own, making all this even more incredible.

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October 18, 2019

Kaga Found!

The late Paul Allen's team has done it one more time... and this time, they did something I thought would never happen.

They found the Kaga.

In this sonar image, the stern is in the lower-right corner.  The Kaga's flight deck is gone, which comes as no surprise whatsoever.  Of the four Japanese carriers sunk at Midway, Kaga was the one that suffered the most grievous and swift fire damage.  Nearly all of her hangar deck personnel (aircraft mechanics and armorers) were killed by the fires caused when a 1000lb bomb punched through her flight deck to explode among fully fueled and mostly armed aircraft.  That particular explosion also ruptured her avgas lines, knocked out the generators powering the water pumps, damaged the fire mains, and destroyed a one-shot carbon-dioxide fire smothering device.

The ship is upright in the sea floor, though she's quite deep in the mud and silt.  Information is still sparse... the announcement was only made about five hours ago as I write this... but from what I've managed to piece together, they should still be able to locate where the Nauticos chunk would fit on the hull.

Undoubtedly the Nauticos find is what allowed Paul Allen's group to narrow down the search area. There's only a finite amount of distance the burning ship could have moved before she was scuttled, and the Nauticos report linked above gives a presumed maximum of about five hours, 30 minutes from the time the chunk was blown free to the time of scuttling.  So knowing the ship went roughly thataway for up to 5h30m gives you a search area.  Then it's just the tedious job of combing the ocean floor with sonar and ROV until you find something.

Like a piece of hull with a gun turret on the side.  Oh, and speaking of  finding something... one report I saw said they have a strong possibility for another ship location.  Could we have an Akagi or Soryu next?  Hiryu is probably quite a distance away from the others... if any of them is going to stay missing now, I'm guessing its her.

Holy crap, folks... I'm actually giddy about this.  Seriously: what a find!  Naval historians everywhere owe the late Paul Allen a debt of gratitude... pour a YooHoo out for your homie tonight!

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October 12, 2019

Well I Dunno.

Don't have a whole lot to say these days.  Still unemployed, still secluded, still... I dunno.

Here's a cleverly edited AMV:
Remember when I used to post five times a week?  Good times, good times.

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October 05, 2019

Python 50

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

I don't believe there's been ANYthing that's been more influential in my sense of humor, and possibly my entire life, than Python.  At the age of nine, every Sunday night at 930pm you could find me camped out in front of the television at the Old Home Pond.  Then, after staring at a blank screen for a while, I'd actually turn it on.
What came forth from that box would change me forever.  I knew types of cheeses that didn't exist yet.  I learned that hedgehogs hated gangsters.  I learned that penguins were electric and had long stinging tentacles.  Musical instruments played by whacking mice with hammers.  I learned what a fjord was, and that certain types of parrots pined for them.  I learned what a twit was.
As it turned out, very little of this would help me in the formal sense.  I knew the winners of the 1949 FA Cup but I couldn't do math.
Despite this, there's no question that my life, and that of countless others, has been...
...improved by Monty Python being in it.  It's a debt I can never repay, nor would I want to... who has that much gouda?

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