January 15, 2021
How I'm Feeling These Days Kinda like this.
Yep, that about covers it.
(they're Austro-Hungarian sailors in anti-flash/fire protection hoods, sometime during WWI)
December 08, 2020
Chuck Yeager 1923-2020
There are stories.
Then there are tales.
Then there is "No sh*t, there I was, one engine gone, the other on fire..."
Then there are legends.
And then there was Chuck Yeager.
Go fast and Godspeed.
...and, before anybody asks? I made my mind up about that a long time ago: not just no, but heck no.
July 16, 2020
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75 years ago on July 16th, 1945, the Trinity Device was detonated and the world became a different place. Whether that was for good or ill, I leave as a rhetorical question for the reader.
The title of this post is from the Bhagavad Gita, and is what Robert Oppenheimer originally claimed to have thought when he saw the result of his work:
If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.
May 08, 2020
Soviet troops capture the Reichstag
A reminder in New York that the war still went on.
Lancaster crew and spotlights
75 years on, I'm beginning to believe that we've forgotten what a real threat looks like. Disappointing.
December 10, 2019
Endings And Beginnings II
HMS Prince of Wales. Sunk on December 10th, 1941.
HMS Prince of Wales. Commissioned into the Royal Navy December 10th, 2019.
There is no way that wasn't intentional, and the RN deserves a round of applause for it. If only they could have put the ship's bell that was recovered from the battleship on the carrier...
On second thought, sailors are a superstitious lot. Maybe putting the bell from a sunken ship on board a brand-new one is a bad idea.
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.
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.
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!
June 06, 2019
D-Day + 75 Years
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.
From this day to the ending of the world,
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; And gentlemen in England now a-bed ahall think themselves accurs'd they were not here and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
June 04, 2019
Midway 2019 I'm going to go a little far afield from my usual Midway day posts, because I have some news to report. You may or may not be aware of the upcoming Hollywood movie on the Battle of Midway, due to be released in November.
I've known about this for well over a year, thanks to my membership in the Battle of Midway Round Table. The production company involved has been asking the BOMRT historical accuracy questions... "where was the radio set located in a Dauntless, and what color would it be," that sort of thing (note: I made that up). Sadly, there's a NDA on the man running the Round Table, so he can't tell us much about the film. He's assured us that they're pushing to make it look as realistic as possible.
Which is, of course, great! If there's one Pacific War naval battle that deserves a good movie, it's Midway... and no, I don't count that '70s extrusion as "good". But this movie isn't my news... no, my news is something a little more personal.
I've been hired as a historical consultant on the Battle of Midway! A youtube history channel is going to be doing a series of videos on Midway, and I've been tabbed to do the historical legwork. I can't reveal the channel name yet, mostly because I forgot to ask the Power That Be for permission and he's on a business trip, but its been around for a couple-three years, and has well over 500k subscribers.
The plan is that we'll be releasing these videos as we get closer to movie release date, and there's hope for an actual tie-in with the film... y'know, concentrate on the characters the movie is featuring, sponsorship, that sort of thing. None of that is guaranteed... indeed, I gather only the first contacts have been made... but there is optimism.
All of which is to say, I'm really really excited about this. It'll be a fun way to spend time, I'm getting paid for it, and anything that educates about the Battle of Midway is okay in my book! More details will be made available as I get permission, so look forward to that... and lets hope that Midway gets the movie treatment it deserves!
April 01, 2019
Builder's Trials USS South Dakota, the US Navy's newest member of the Virginia-class, undergoes builder's trials.
December 23, 2018
Bad Ideas In Mine Clearing #523
Bren carrier? Check.
Naval mine on a rope? Check.
Roundel confirming Polish troops? Check.
Either this thing is already defused, or it's a primitive attempt at spaceflight.
June 04, 2018
Midway 2018 For this, the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, I had in mind the sixth of my "What If?" series, in this case what might have occurred if the Japanese submarine picket line had actually gotten into position on time, instead of just doing the submarine equivalent of sauntering, thus letting the US carriers sail without notice. The catastrophic error that took mu/mee.nu down on Sunday put paid to that idea, alas.
This left me scrambling for ideas, and to be honest I haven't come up with any. So instead, here's the best (only?) song about the battle of Midway I've ever heard.
Footage is from two Japanese feature films, *The Admiral*, about Yamamoto, and *The Eternal Zero*. I've actually seen *Eternal Zero*... unsubbed. Honestly had a problem figuring out what was going on. Looked fantastic though.
One bit of good news I recently discovered: a new Midway movie is in production, filming beginning in August. Fingers crossed, we'll finally see a **good** film about this rich topic, as opposed to that late '70s ball of dreck we've currently got. I rewatched *Midway* two Saturdays ago... it was on SUNDANCE or some channel like that... and I kept saying "that's wrong", "that's wrong too", "that's a Hellcat", "why does that Japanese carrier have an angled flight deck?", and so on and so forth. If anybody had been watching it with me, I'm not sure I would have lived through it... they'd beat me to death with my own cane just to shut me up.
April 02, 2018
Name That Mystery Ship XXXIV Revealed!
There's no ship! It's just a picture of the open ocean.
Ha ha april fools day.
Look, it was the best I could come up with, I'm sorry.
April 01, 2018
Name That Mystery Ship XXXIV Got a toughie for y'all today!
As usual, no image searching. I can't stop you from doing it, but you'll have to live with it on your conscience forever. You get one guess, and one guess only, so make it count. Winners are determined by me, my decision is final, so don't push it, 'k? The winner gets his or her very own blog post on a topic of their choosing (exceptions: pr0n, politics, and religion). CTX, FDM, if either of you are still around, you're clear to guess!
Let's see how good you guys really are!
March 05, 2018
CV-2 Found Is there a bigger money sink than sunken warship hunting? Think about it... you're looking for something relatively small in a very very big ocean when you have only the most general of ideas where to find your quarry, it likely traveled some distance after it went under the waves, making an uncertain search area even larger... oh, and it's at the bottom of an ocean. A long, long way down. It often takes years of searching and lots of tenuous funding to find a ship, a discovery that will excite some historians, ex-crew members, and maybe some media outlets looking for something interesting to report on when there's a slow news day.
Which is why all of us historians of the Pacific War, amateur and pro alike, should stop for a moment and give thanks that Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and the 46th richest person in the world with a net worth of more than $21 billion, seems to be willing to burn his money to go sunken warship hunting. Back in 2015 I mentioned his success in finding the Mushashi. He's tallied a number of other finds since then, the USS Ward and USS Indianapolis primary among them. Until today, when he nailed a big one indeed.
The USS Lexington (CV-2) was technically the US Navy's second full-sized aircraft carrier, with her sister ship USS Saratoga (CV-3) being completed a month before her. She was commissioned in December of 1927, and along with the Saratoga and the USS Langley, she helped codify the way the US Navy's way of operating aircraft carriers. She served until May 8th, 1942, when she was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Of course we don't have any pictures of the ship in its entirety... or even any of the hull as of yet... but it's still early days, those are assuredly coming. They've already found seven TBD Devastators there on the bottom of the ocean, floated off or blown off the flight deck once the carrier went down. Seven Devastators... and at least one Wildcat.
Considering how long this F4F-3 has been on the ocean bottom, it really isn't in that bad of condition. More pics from the find can be found at Allen's website. Awfully cool, this. There will almost certainly be a video tour of the carrier soon, by the way... hopefully at some time where I can stay up and watch it!
February 17, 2018
World Of Warships: I Admit My Error Back in November of 2016, I wrote a little bit about the newest Tier VI ship in my collection, the American Cleveland-class light cruiser. At the time, I said "it's a good ship, I just hate it." There were a lot of reasons for that; I had enjoyed the ship just before it on the tech tree, the Omaha, immensely. Most of my best games up to that point had been in the Omaha, and if there is a bigger change in playstyle from the older torpedo-cruiser to the newer ship, I have yet to find it. The Cleveland's guns apparently has to lob shells into the stratosphere to get any sort of range with them, to the point that you can easily have two broadsides and maybe three (?) in the air at once. This means that you have to perform quite a bit of witchcraft to hit anything at long range... like a battleship needs to do at 20km. Problem is, you're a light cruiser firing 6" guns at 14km and you don't get a spotting aircraft.
And while you're no delicate snowflake, maybe having the most armor of any cruiser at this tier not named Graf Spee, anything larger than a 20mm Oerlikion can penetrate you... I can't tell you how often I've been sailing along and then suddenly everything goes quiet and the hp bar gets very very red very very fast. Yet, for all of that, I have a confession to make.
I was wrong about the Cleveland. I very much enjoy playing it nowadays... there's a certain joy out of watching your shells disappear off the screen, only to reappear two minutes later and completely deluge a target you predicted would be at that very point, which was approximately 500 miles from where the target ship had been when you fired. Or getting a lovely broadside shot on an Aoba and racking up 11 hits with six citadels and a 'Devastating Strike' award. Nope, she requires some fortune-telling to play well, but it's rewarding as all hell if you can pull it off.
Oh, and if you haven't been playing the weekly 'scenarios', start doing so. They're a blast and you get some nice rewards for 'em to boot.
January 25, 2018
The Strangest Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Ever I haven't played War Thunder much in the past year or so, a couple of matches here and there. Doesn't mean I don't keep up with it, but actually play? Nah. But my favorite yootoob subscription is to the good folks over at Bo Time! Gaming, probably the most serious bunch of pilots and tankers to ever to strap on a pair of goggles.
Yes, I'm kidding. Bo and the merry idiots of TBLF are the ones that brought us the WT Fail Montage series... basically, the videos that got me to play the game in the first place back in 2014 or so. I love watching them play... they obviously enjoy each other's company, even if it is just virtual, and they're either quite good, or entertainingly bad. They know when they're bad, too, and they don't much care.
Anyway. It appears that there's something of a bug in War Thunder at the moment... if you manage to flip over a Churchill tank, this happens:
I expect the flying Churchills will be patched out of the game immediately if not sooner, but for one brief, shining moment, you will believe tanks can fly.
December 07, 2017
The Forgotten Pearl Harbor Memorial The whole world is familiar with what happened to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor that fateful day in December of 1941. In remembrance of that tragic loss, a touching memorial was built over the sunken remains, and is a tourist attraction unlike any other perhaps in the world.
In 1941, the USS Utah was no longer a glamorous ship. Once a Dreadnought era Florida-class battleship, in 1931 she was converted to a radio-controlled target vessel (AG-16), both her main and secondary batteries removed, and her torpedo bulges shaved off the hull. In 1935 she was given a the new assignment of anti-aircraft training. To which end, she was given an ever-changing collection of AA guns, from .50cal machineguns all the way up to the famous 5"/38 dual-purpose gun. It was in this duty that she was at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th, 1941.
Moored in a position normally used for the US Navy's aircraft carriers, torpedo planes from the Japanese carrier Soryu closed in on her. While the squadron leader waved the run off, correctly identifying the Utah as not worth attacking, six planes did not get the message and dropped on her. Of these six torpedoes, two hit the seriously unprotected vessel which immediately began to list . Some 12 minutes after the attack on her began, she rolled over onto her port side and settled to the bottom of the harbor. Some years later, an attempt to salvage her was made, but was unsuccessful. It was decided to leave the hulk where it lay.
A small memorial plaque was placed in 1950, and a larger memorial erected in 1972, seen to the right in this picture. Only those with a military ID can visit, and like the Arizona Memorial, it is considered a war grave as the ship still holds the remains of 58 crewmen killed on Dec 7th, 1941. She's not as well-remembered as the Arizona; she was neither as glamorous or her loss as dramatic. She is still one of a perishingly few remaining touchpoints for the events of the day that began the Pacific War. In many ways, she deserves better.
December 02, 2017
Heh... "Devil Duck" "Okay men, listen up."
The Marines, gathered at the stern of the troop transport, directed their attention to the weatherbeaten sergeant. Some distance away, the big guns of the Colorado threw 16" shells at a small piece of land in a very large ocean.
"All right. Someone up the chain screwed the pooch. There ain't no tide today, so the landing craft can't get over the reef."
Someone piped up with a lighthearted tone in his voice: "So we're going home, right?"
The sergeant rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Jenkins, we're going home. The war is over. We won. And it was all because of you." The gathered group of men laughed, but there was an audible tightness to it. "Nah, we ain't that lucky. We're going in on the alligators." A muted reaction from the men told what they thought of this... the LVTs might well be able to climb over the reef and carry them right to the beach, but on the other hand they had no armor and were slow in the water. "Any questions?"
Silence. "Awright, lets go."
The men burst out with the traditional "OORAH!" as they moved to the ship's rail... all but one of them. That one Marine joined in with a loud, clear "QUACK!"
The target was Tarawa. And Siwash was going to war.
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