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The News

Barklie Lakin, submariner, dead at 96

 

Our WW2 veterans are disappearing at an enormous rate.  They all have stories that seem amazing to us now, in our comfortable lives.  The Telegraph did an obitiuary on Lt-Cdr Barklie Lakin who died on March 1st.  His career in the Royal Navy would be great material for a blockbuster war movie.

As commander of the Ursula, he took on the German U-boat U-73.  It was thought to have been sunk but did escape that encounter.  His boat ran commando missions in the Med.  He sank Italian anti-submarine boats, and even took on a train with his deck gun.  He was transferred from a submarine that was later sunk, escaping the fate of the crew.  During a raid on a convoy, the enemy destroyers ran over his boat, smashing his periscopes, and he made it back to base, blind.  He was transferred to a US Navy sub in the Pacific as a liason and was depth charged by the Japanese.  It sounds to me like he did it all.

A lot of these WW2 guys just took this stuff in stride.  You can bet he didn't spend his life bragging about his exploits, just quietly did his duty, for King and Country.  The Telegraph's story is a great read.

Barklie Lakin at the periscope

 

Blackbeard's guns were always loaded.

 

The Queen Anne's Revenge was the pirate Blackbeard's flagship, the name a nod to his earlier service to the Crown.  It was a French slave ship, originally La Concorde, captured by Blackbeard in 1717 and put to work doing his nefarious business along with the rest of his fleet.    This even included the brazen blockading of Charleston's harbor in search of loot from ships trying to enter and leave the harbor.  Soon after leaving Charleston in 1718, Blackbeard lost the Queen Anne's Revenge and the sloop Adventure to a sandbar when he tried to enter what is now Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina.  The ships soon sank in 25 feet of water.

pic of English one pounder

In 1997 a ship was found in Beaufort Inlet that practically screams Queen Anne's Revenge. Thousands of artifacts have been brought to the surface by the Division of Archives and History's Office of State Archaeology of North Carolina, in what is now known as the QAR Project.  Plenty of weapons have been brought up also, including cannon, gunparts, sword hilts and ammunition.  The guns include cannon from 1/2 pounders up to 6 pounders, from English to Swedish make.  One thing that stands out is that almost all the cannon are loaded.  And not just with round shot, but with a combination of nasty stuff, nails, broken glass and chained shot, not meant to sink a ship but to clean the crew off it.  There are plenty of cannon still down there and that will keep the Archaeologists busy for quite a while.

pic of Swedish 6 pounder

 

Ivory Coast getting guns from Belarus

 

It looks like the illegal international arms trade is still alive and well.  Belarus has been caught selling Mi-24 Hind helicopters to Laurent Gbagbo, who is trying to start a civil war over his loss of the recent presidential election in Ivory Coast.  According to DW World, one helicopter has already been delivered and two more are on the way.  Hind helicopters were used by Russians to decimate the Afghan opposition during their invasion of the country in the late 70's,  and it took the introduction of the Stinger anti-aircraft missile into the theater to reduce their impact.

Many African countries have suffered from arms dealers arming both sides during civil unrest.  the most notorious is Viktor Bout, now relaxing in the maximum security wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.  His East European cronies are still in action, however, and now the Dictator/President of Belarus, Alesander Lukashenko, is now on the hot seat.  Thanks to him, a peaceful transition of power in Ivory Coast now has no chance.

2 Hinds in action

 

Dillon Aero's latest Gatling Gun

The Hybrid M134D-H Gatling Gun is the latest offering from Dillon Aero.  It is a combination of the steel parts from the original M134D gun and mixed with parts from the M134G-T titanium gun to get a combination of weight savings and long life.  This new gun weighs 43.5 pounds and is only 2 pounds heavier than the titanium gun and has a service life of one million rounds. The Dillon guns are in service with the US Armed Forces and in the British Navy.

pic of Dillon Minigun

The original GAU-2 (M134) minigun from the 60's was about to be retired untill Dillon improved the functioning and reliability of the weapon.  Almost every component has been redesigned and now replaces the original gun in U.S. service.

Ironclad, or why we invented guns

The movie Ironclad, just released, about the English King who signed the Magna Carta, takes us on a bloody journey that involves the meglomaniacal King John on his quest for revenge for being forced to sign away his kingly rights to the common folk.   Rochester Castle is occupied by rebels to the Crown, and a seige ensues.  Castles at this point are pretty tough to knock down or blow up, which is why gunpowder came in so handy when it was finally invented.  A few big seige guns would have been nice too, but these guys have to get up close and personal.