By A Web Design
- Created on Friday, 30 November 2012 21:32
David McCallum rules the skies over German occupied Europe with his band of Mosquito pilots. This 1969 film, Mosquito Squadron, is about a fictitious squadron involved in a mission to bomb a V-2 (or V-3) development site, housed outside a heavily defended Chateau in France. This mission is further complicated by crafty Germans bringing their RAF prisoners to the chateau as human shields.
The film's bright points may not be in the well worn plot of a pilot's brief life span, and his ability to find love in that short time, but in the amount of flyable Mosquito's that were still around at the time. The films flyable planes vastly outnumber the amount of flyable Mosquitos now, which is about none. (However there are several projects in the works to recitify that problem.) Watching these Mossies in action is a treat not to be missed.
This variant of Mosquito fighter-bomber seems to be missing it's complement of 20mm cannon, but uses it's 4 .303 guns now and again in the film. The Mossies get crashed plenty during the film, and burned to the ground in the process, lot's of plywood there, but hopefully it was just one aircraft filmed several times. The aircraft could have used dual controls in action, as the poor navigator automatically gets it if the pilot packs it in. Flying low, as the Mosquito often did, didn't give you much of a chance to bail out.
Below is the trailer of the film, but if you want to watch the whole thing, you can get it from Amazon , or you can get it from Youtube, even in 720 HD. The bad part about that is that with my miserable bandwidth from a Cincinnati telecom, you'll have to wait 3 hours for it to load up. An alternative is using a plugin for Firefox, like Downloadhelper, and let it download after you go to bed.
Looks like I'm wrong about no flyable Mosquitos left in the world, there is one in New Zealand that took to the air in September 2012...
- Created on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 00:35
William Grover Williams was crazy for cars from an early age. From racing motorcycles he soon graduated to Bugattis. He was called W. Williams when he raced to keep his parents from finding out what he was doing, as they took a dim view of risking your neck in racing cars. He thought of himself as more English than French, as his father was British, and his Bugatti was painted British racing green. He was a winner, and even won the French Grand Prix twice.
Jean-Pierre Wimille also drove Bugattis. His father loved racing, giving his son his chance to race. He ran his first Grand Prix when he was only 22, and had a successful driving career, also winning the Deauville Grand Prix which killed several of his contemporaries. He won the 24 Hours of LeMans twice, the second time with co-driver Pierre Veyron.
Robert Benoist was a co-driver with Jean-Pierre Wimille when they won the 1937 LeMans race in a Bugatti Tank, so called from it's aerodynamic enclosed bodywork. After this race he retired from racing, but ran Bugatti's racing department.
Pierre Veyron wanted to be an Engineer. His friend Albert Divo talked him into a race car one day, and he never looked back. He soon went to work for Bugatti as a driver and a developement engineer, combining his passion for race cars with engineering.
These men were used to risking their lives in over powered French hotrods, with skinny tires and lousy brakes. When war brought France to it's knees, all these men ended up in the French Resistance together.
When war broke out, Benoist and Wimille joined the French Air Force, which only lasted a short time. Williams barely escaped to England, joining the Royal Army Signal Corps, but was soon culled from the herd to form a resistance group sponsored by the SOE, the famed British Special Operations Executive, and was soon air dropped into France to form an underground resistance cell. Williams was on his own immediately, as the Germans were especially good at hunting resistance members, and had numbers of double agents in place. All his previous contacts killed or arrested, Williams tracked down Robert Benoist to help him start a new cell, known as "Chestnut". Their Bugatti contacts came in handy, as the factory lent them lorries to smuggle guns and munitions from airdrop sites to safehouses. They also orchestrated sabotage to the Citroen plants and were successful in the Paris region till the end of July, 1943, when the Gestapo closed in and severely disrupted the Paris networks. Williams was captured, but Benoist escaped to England by the slimmest margin.
Benoist was dropped back into France at least twice, the second time he was teamed up with Jean-Pierre Wimille, but Benoist was captured soon after D-Day. Wimille made his escape with the Gestapo on his tail, the cars in the street blocking their shots till Wimille finally made it to a stream, staying submerged with only his nose up for air, till the Gestapo moved on. Veyron also escaped being captured, as did most of the Chestnut cell, to continue their activities.
Williams was interrogated fiercely by the Gestapo, as only they can do, but is said to have given nothing or no one away. He was executed in 1945 after a stay at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Benoist eventually landed at Buchenwald, where he was executed. Wimille survived the war and went back to Grand Prix racing, finally being killed in practice for the Buenos Aires GP in 1949. Veyron recieved the Cross of the French Legion of Honor for his service in the Resistance, also returned to racing for a time after the war. He died in 1970 to probable obscurity, except for the fact that the newest Bugatti, the Veyron, is named for him.
The Bugatti Veyron by Wikimedia contributor M-93
- Created on Sunday, 11 November 2012 16:20
Excerpt from Duel of "Eagles" by Peter Townsend, an RAF pilot's experience in the Battle of Britain...
Return to Croyden, taxi in. Ground crews waiting anxiously: has my pilot fired? They scanned from afar to see if the fabric covering has been blasted from the gun ports. Now a man holds each wingtip. Swing her round, switch off. The fitter is up, leaning in the cockpit. "Any joy?" Briefly you tell what happened.
Quick re-arm and refuel. Men are on the wings. Men with spanners, with bands of belted ammunition. Cowlings are 'unpinned', the 'Bowser's' nozzle rammed into the tank, right wing, fuselage, left wing - three tanks full up. Oil checked, Radio checked, re-tuned. Oxygen bottle changed. Windscreen cleaned. Five minutes, and the Hurricane is ready to go again.
Then, hanging on their propellers, the RAF is climbing back into the sky to meet with the Luftwaffe again, and again.
From Olfux's channel, a more relaxed version of a Hurricane's checkout before takeoff, from the Battle of Britain's memorial flight.
- Created on Saturday, 03 November 2012 13:08
In the early 1800's manufacturers were chasing the dream of a repeating rifle. Something that seems utterly common today, the man that perfected such a thing was bound to be rich beyond his wildest dreams. One of those dreamers was Sam Colt who perfected the revolver. This repeating handgun made his reputation, and his fortune, and he soon adapted it's principles to a rifle.
On paper it looked great, a rifle capable of numerous shots before reloading. An early version was used by the US Army, who had purchased a number of revolving handguns and rifles in 1838, for the Seminole wars. They were effective initially as the native Americans would rush the troopers after the first volley not expecting several more volleys immediately. They changed their tactics soon after.
The percussion revolver reached it's peak with the Model 1855 revolving rifle, but a nagging problem remained. A revolver's cylinder holds the bullets and powder, and in itself is a miniature rifle barrel. In a six shot rifle with one cylinder chamber lined up with the barrel, that leaves 5 chambers aimed at the shooters left hand grasping the barrel to steady the rifle. These early percussion guns suffered from a condition known as "chain fire" in which hot gas leaking from the gap at the front of the cylinder, or from ill fitting primers, could touch off the charges in the rest of the chambers, severely wounding the shooter of a rifle. In a pistol the effect is pretty scary, but since all of the shooter is behind the cylinder, it's relatively harmless.
The invention of the brass cased cartridge solved this problem, but the damage was done and the rifle was discontinued in 1864. Numerous companies make a version today, but some have been modified with a guard in front of the cylinder to please the lawyers like Taurus/Rossi's Circuit Judge. Others, like Uberti's, are faithful copies of the originals. They are much safer to shoot than in 1855, but a thoughtful shooter would keep both of his hands behind the cylinder.
- Created on Sunday, 28 October 2012 16:20
Some aircraft in British hangers at the start of WW2 were light years ahead of their WW1 counterparts, but some odd design habits persisted even then. One case in point are the bomb bay doors on the Bristol Blenheim light bomber.
When WW2 began, aircraft that were designed in the mid thirties were the mainstay of both German and British Air Forces. Some designs were ahead of their time, but as far as bombers go, the Bristol Blenheim was one with a foot in the past. Although at the time the bomber was faster than any British Fighter ( The Hurricane was due out shortly after), it's 265 mph top speed was woefully inadequate in 1939, especially when the opposition had plenty of Bf 109 fighters that could almost touch 400 mph. The Blenheim's defensive armament was poor, with one forward firing .303 Browning in the wing, and one rear gunner with a Vickers K gun, also rifle caliber. The early Blenheims also had no bullet proof windscreens, and no self sealing gas tanks. They were especially vulnerable to German 20mm guns, which the Germans seemed to have plenty of.
But as far as being a bomber is concerned, the Blenheim could carry 1000 lbs for it's bomb load, but in a holdover from WW1, the bomb bay doors were held closed with bungee cords. One of the earliest uses of bungee cords was in the landing gear of primitive aircraft, to absorb shock. The bombs were released internally, then leaned against the doors, forcing the bungee cords to give way, releasing the bombs. The only thing that alerted the pilot to the bombs actually being away is the lift the aircraft got for being suddenly lighter. How long it took for the doors to actually open depended on the strength of the bungee cords, with pinpoint accuracy not even on the table. The bombs will go out when they go out and that's that.
The Blenheim at first was murdered over Germany in 1939, sometimes with plane losses at 100%. But since you fight wars with what you have when they start, the Blenheim soldiered on, and actually got better with age, at first being upgunned in an ad hoc fashion by ground crews in the field, and later at the factory. They were finally armored and fitted with self sealing fuel tanks, and served well, but as far as the bungee cords go, crews in the middle east just threw away the bomb bay doors completely, taking the loss in airspeed for a chance to put a bomb where they wanted too. They were pulled from service in 1943, with the availability of more modern fighter bombers, such as the Beaufighter, which incidentally, was based on the Blenheim.