By A Web Design

The News

Shooting up power stations

In a story that didn't receive any press (for obvious reasons), a southern California power substation was riddled with bullets for 19 minutes before authorities arrived, to find the perps gone into the night.  It happened in April last year, and wiped out 17 big transformers.  It took a month to get the substation back on line.  The only clues were some clean AK-47 brass.

picture of substation and AK-47

 Power station picture by Panther

 If AK's were the guns that were used, it bodes ill for our grid.  There seem to be plenty of malcontented groups unhappy with our electrical grid, from the darker side of environmentalism to anti government militia groups to downright Al Queda troopers.  Considering that our grid can barely stand assaults from Mother Nature, it makes you want to stock up on firewood and lentils.  And so much AK  ammunition is sold in this country that tracing it would be a nightmare.  

The bad guys, in this case as always, have the upper hand.  No one knows what these lamebrains would do till they've done it, and it does seem impossible to guard every transformer in the country.  Banning guns wouldn't help, since there all ready too many floating around.  Which means the legal ones are only the tip of the iceberg.  

The vulnerability of our grid has been focused on  cybersecurity threats so much lately, that a simple sniper attack had been overlooked.  So, was this attack proof of concept?  Or just the opening act...

Voice of America story

Virtual cockpit tour - Spad XIII

The Spad XIII was one of the better fighters in WW1, built from a French design, packing Vickers guns and up to 200 horsepower.  After 1917, German fighters began to catch up, but it was still in production at the end of the war.  

The Spad held it togther in a dive, something it's predecessor Nieuport couldn't do, shedding it's upper wing from time to time.  Eventually every French front line squadron was equipped with these planes. They were also used by the Royal Air Force's No. 23 Squadron, and the Americans.  There were plenty of notable pilots, including Georges Guynemer, Rene Fonck and even Eddie Rickenbacker.

picture of Rickenbacker's Spad

You can see one of these planes if you visit the States, at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. However, if you can't make it, you can sit in one (although virtually) on the Museum's web site.  Early aircraft are mesmerizing, as nothing is hidden, and you can see how some things evolved by comparing them to modern aircraft.  It's also amazing how well built they were, and how early on they figured out how to make something sturdy and light at the same time.  It's also refreshing not to see plastic anywhere. 

picture of Spad cockpit

The Spad's virtual cockpit

Nirbheek.. India's new self-defense gun for women...

Nirbheek, a Hindi word for "Fearless", was released this month by the Indian Ordnance Factory. It is a lightweight copy of an old Webley Mk IV, designed to be used by women.  Lightweight probably means titanium, and the little revolver is chambered for the .32 long and short cartridges.  Most military handgun cartridges are illegal in India, though that is being relaxed in area's that have higher terrorist threats. There is also an added safety, the earlier Webley revolver did not have.  The Ordnance Factories are India's Military Industrial Complex and were formed as early as the 1700's when the Brits ruled the roost. 

picture of Nirbheek revolver

The recent gang rapes in India prompted the manufacture of this gun.  India has a lot of guns, probably over 40 million already, most of which are not registered.  It's hard to say it this gun will have any effect, as a women convicted of killing someone with it is liable to get life, rape or no rape.  The Nirbheek is expected to bring $2000. US.


picture of Nirbheek flyer



Would you volunteer for World War One?

Volunteer Opportunity – First World War Project

picture of WW1 soldiers

GM 1914, Manchester's WW1 History website

What would I be doing?

The people of Greater Manchester were involved in the First World War at home and in combat. The war had profound effects on families, working lives, medicine and on democratic rights.

You would be supporting the archives service by bringing these war and home front stories to life by:-

•    Researching archive and local studies collections
•    Digitising archive and local studies collections
•    Transcribing archive and local studies collections
•    Blogging about your work
•    Giving support for promotional events and exhibitions
•    Providing specialist expertise or knowledge on a particular project

(Placements may include one or more of these tasks, which will be agreed prior to the placement)

When can I do my Archive volunteering?

Volunteering opportunities are mostly during office hours: Mon-Fri 9-5.
There may also be opportunities to volunteer from home, usually on projects which involve word processing, transcribing or indexing.

Where will I be volunteering?

Volunteering opportunities are available at archives and local studies departments across Greater Manchester. Please contact Nicky Crewe on 0161 832 5284 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on how to apply in your area. Occasionally we hold events at outside venues.  If you are over 16 and interested in getting involved alongside archives staff then this could also be part of the opportunity

Who will be there with me?

Archives and library staff at Greater Manchester archives and local studies departments. Other archives volunteers

Support and review

Regular support and guidance will be given by a named contact.  There will be a 4 week trial period to ensure that all is going well – another volunteer opportunity may be suggested if the trial period has shown that this would be better for both parties

Training, resources and information

A full induction will be given, and further training offered where appropriate in blogging, digitising, social media and image software.

This opportunity would suit someone who has some of these skills:

•    Good communication skills and enthusiasm
•    An understanding of ICT and the ability to assist others in the use of ICT
•    A passion for history / genealogy / the First World War
•    An attention for detail
•    Works well with others
•    Able to carry archives for short durations and distances
•    Willingness to adhere to security and preservation guidelines

What will I get from volunteering?    Some of the benefits are:

•    Gaining experience of working with, researching and digitising archives
•    Gaining interpretation skills in reporting on your work
•    Opportunity to increase self-confidence
•    Valuable training and experience in social media, digital images and blogging that can be included in CVs and job applications
•    Satisfaction from helping people to discover and enjoy archives

If you are interested in getting involved please contact:

Greater Manchester County Record Office : Nicky Crewe, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or contact your local archive:
Bolton: Julie Lamara, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Bury: Gill Paxton, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Oldham: Joanne Robson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rochdale: Julian Jefferson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Salford: Duncan McCormick, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Stockport: Margaret Myerscough, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tameside: Larysa Bolton, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Trafford: Karen Cliff, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wigan: Alex Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Book Review-The K-Frame Revolver by Timothy Mullin

Timothy Mullin's book, "The K-Frame Revolver, the S&W Phenomenon Volume 2", is a continuation of his first book, "Magnum - the S&W .357 Magnum Phenomenon", published in 2012.  This volume more than continues the story but also focuses on the popular K-Frame Smith itself.  With S&W producing close to eight million examples of this quality handgun over the last hundred years, there are plentiful specimens to collect, and at prices that haven't risen to rarefied heights as some guns, notably the Colt single action, have.  They are collected, but maybe not so much because a lot of people are still using them for their intended purpose, for security and self-defense.

picture of K-Frame Revolvers book

The first K-Frame was built in 1899 for the US Army, who was having trouble in the Philippines with Moro tribesmen.  The military had downsized their handguns to .38 Long Colt from the older .45 Colt single actions and were now paying the price.  S&W had developed a superior .38 cartridge, the .38 S&W Special, and also developed a larger frame pistol to go with it.  This was the first K-Frame, with many upon many iterations to come, following through with the Military & Police model for WW2, of which many millions were made for the war effort, culminating in the Model 686 in .357 Magnum, one of my favorite handguns of all time.

picture of K-Frame Revolver

This book runs to 750 pages.  It is staggering how many images there are.  Every conceivable detail on these guns is addressed somewhere in the book.  You can pick this up, open to a random page, and get lost for hours, as I have.  Granted you probably have to be interested in the subject in the first place, but most men and some women are, and a lot of those already know what a great handgun the K-Frame is. There are plenty of illustrations of the actions and explanations for each new wrinkle in development.  And details of S&W's competitors in the marketplace are covered also, like the Colt handguns, the .38 S&W Webleys, and Spanish copies of the 1930's through Rossi and Taurus in more modern times.  

Mr. Mullin and Collector Grade Publications have tapped the resources of many a collector, and pictures of their guns are also included along with some of my own.  I have enjoyed many K-Frame Smiths over the years, carried one in Vietnam, and hope to enjoy many more.   I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Smith & Wesson revolver.

picture of K-Frame Revolver book

The K-Frame Revolver from Collector Grade Publications