By A Web Design
- Created on Sunday, 09 December 2012 19:06
During the Napoleonic Wars, an enterprising Englishman, James Wilson, designed a 7 barrel rifle to enhance the firepower of sailors in hand to hand fighting while boarding ships at sea. It was thought that the devastating blast of 7 barrels would clear groups of the enemy that were naturally packed together on the fighting decks of warships. Named for the manufacturer, the Nock Volley gun proved to be a disappointment and a hindrance to the firer.
The Nock Gun from the Rifle Shoppe
Being a flintlock weapon, ignition was always a problem, and at times not all the barrels would discharge successfully. Loading under battle conditions was time consuming, and to ease this, the rifling was superceded by smoothbore barrels, as pinpoint accuracy wasn't the point of this gun anyway. Lastly, the recoil was a lot worse than first thought by the inventor, and many a sailor sported a broken shoulder after serious use of the Nock gun.
The Nock Gun was made popular by the British TV drama about the Napoleonic Wars called Sharpe's Rifles, making it's appearance in this episode of Sharpe's Company. You can buy a reproduction of the Nock Gun from a couple of places, one being The Rifle Shoppe. I got a kick out of this video from Youtube.
The dream of a many barrelled gun came around again during the Vietnam era with an armored vehicle called the Ontos, an armored platform sporting 6 106mm recoiless rifles. It's weakness was in loading, as the guns had to be reloaded outside of the hull, exposing members of the crew to enemy fire. A number of them on the perimeter of a firebase were effective in fighting an enemy who had no armor or air support, but did have overwhelming numbers to swarm an American position, such as at Khe Sanh. The 6 barrelled machines could fire beehive rounds, in effect being six giant shotguns per machine. They had to back out of their position to a safe place to reload.
- 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.