By A Web Design
- Created on Saturday, 19 January 2013 22:04
Iron guns were reaching their limits in the 1850's, even though the Americans and Brits pushed on with them into the 1870's. The answer to their problem, defeating armor plate, was still in the future with higher velocity steel guns, but during the Crimean and the American Civil Wars, wrought and cast iron were the order of the day, and the major arms makers were pushing those frontiers as far as they would go.
One big gun built by the Mersey Steel and Iron Company was known as the "Monster Gun" in 1856. It was larger by a foot in diameter of the largest forging they ever made, and it took seven weeks to place bars of iron around the center core and beat them into shape with a 15 ton hammer. After the gun took shape, the trunnions affixed to a large hoop was shrunk around the gun, adding strength. Such huge forgings were said, by the common wisdom of the time, to be weaker than cast iron due to the length of time the metal was in contact with heat, but Mr. Horsfall persisted and the gun was bored to 13 inches, and weighed 25 tons.
Boring the gun took a couple of weeks, where several flaws in the iron were found and patched up, and after four months the gun was ready. 2 proof rounds were fired, a service shell filled with lead and 45 pounds of gunpowder, which the gun survived. The next test was against a floating battery, an armored ship full of guns, but not much else. With 25 pounds of powder and a 280 pound shot, it blasted its way though the battery's wrought iron armor easily.
The gun was donated to the Government, but with the war over the British Admiralty hemmed and hawed around and not much was done with the gun. It was tested again in 1862 against another giant pile of armor plate, which it duly splintered. It was obvious the Mersey Works could build a gun. They had previously built a smaller 12 inch wrought iron gun for the US Navy, for use on the USS Princeton, who had also installed another similar gun built by an American company. In a demonstration, the American gun burst, killing the US Secretaries of State and the Navy. A Mersey gun is in the Washington Navy Yard today.
- Created on Saturday, 12 January 2013 14:30
As reported in the Telegraph, British troops are beginning to phase out the venerable Browning 9mm handgun in favor of the Glock 17. The new handguns are better in every way but I for one will miss the old Browning
The Browning High Power, picture by Wikimedia contributor Rama
The Glock is lighter. Half of it is plastic, and some of the fire control parts are small, light twisted pieces of metal buried in the plastic lower half. On first inspection this doesn't seem very robust, however, the Glock is very reliable, and the 17 is famous for having 200,000 rounds run through it without much of a failure. Hard to argue with that.
The trigger is safer. Much to be said about the Glock trigger. The gun won't fire unless a physical finger is on the trigger, much simpler in use than the Browning, which is a single action pistol. In order to bring the Browning into action, either the slide must be drawn back chambering a round, or the pistol is carried with the hammer back and the safety on, which must be thumbed off to fire. With the Glock loaded and a round in the chamber, you merely draw the gun and fire.
Glock 17, picture by Wikimedia contributor Hrd10
The Glock is a striker fired weapon, and the Browning uses a hammer. If I had to choose, I'd take a hammer. Strikers are allright for a rifle. (That should start something.) The operation of the two pistols are similar, as the Glock is based on the Browning's barrel camming operation. The Glock's external coatings are pretty good, protecting it from the elements and the shooter, and the Browning's are the traditional blueing and parkerizing.
Finally, although there is much more that can be said, you can hang everything and it's brother on the Glock, from tactical lasers to wild sights. The same thing can be done with the Browning, but is clumsy. The Glock holds more ammunition. The Glock is more modern in every way. The Glock is cool. (They say.)
The British Army has used the High Power since the 50's. You can say that they have been well served. But now the Browning is entering the history books as another weapon that had served the British well, and it is in good company.
- Created on Saturday, 05 January 2013 14:17
Total war, such as WW2, pushes weapon development along all sorts of paths. The atomic bomb was the ultimate development which overshadowed all others. One discontinued path was the Tsunami Bomb.
During the war, a US Navy officer noticed wave actions created by blasting through coral reefs, a wartime expedient that would horrify environmentalists today. In 1944, the US teamed up with New Zealand at the University of Auckland to study the effects and possibly recommend a course of action. It was found to be feasible, but the amount of explosives necessary to create a modest tsunami could just as well have been dropped on the coastal city in question doing more damage than any tsunami.
The idea of a Tsunami bomb still thrills conspiracy theorists, who contend that an evil consortium of India, US and Israel detonated a nuclear bomb underwater causing the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. With all the nuclear watchdog stuff going on around the globe, this does seem highly unlikely, and no sane nation would embark on such a path. However, just cruising the headlines, sanity seems to be in short supply.
- Created on Sunday, 23 December 2012 21:55
Not far from Omaha Beach on the sands of Normandy, lie the remains of a huge number of armored vehicles. The majority seem to be Shermans, but there are some I can't identify. You would think most of this stuff would have been cleaned up by now, but maybe there is just such a huge number of these remains that it's not possible. The bottoms of the lakes and rivers most likely have plenty of remains also.
One such place around Vasteville has been extensively photographed by Panoramio contributor golouat. His page is full of armored vehicles in various states of decay. There is also this video of the Biville/Vasteville area, from YouTube contributor ritchiewinter.
- Created on Saturday, 22 December 2012 13:35
The Schweinfurt Raids 1943
General Curtis Lemay wanted to clean Germany's clock. What he had to do it with was the most heavily gunned bomber force in history. He was running missions just inside Germany but he wanted to go for the gold. The planners wanted the ball bearing factories, but they were deep into Germany, far beyond any fighter escort available at the time. LeMay knew his guys could do it.
Curtis LeMay wasn't one to be left behind, he flew the lead bomber. Each ship had 10 crew, and guns bristled out every end. He was a firm believer in the bomber doctrine that said if you had enough bombers with enough guns close to each other, they would form a box that an enemy fighter couldn't penetrate and live. In effect they could defend themselves and didn't require fighter escort. The Schweinfurt raids would prove the point. It proved that it didn't work.
The Combat Box - image by wikimedia contributor anynobody
The first raid in August, 1943 was a dual raid, Regensburg and the Messerschmitt factories, and Schweinfurt with the ball bearing factories. The intent was to raid both cities at once, splitting up the fighter defense, but fog delayed the Schweinfurt crews, and German fighters had plenty of time to pummel the Regensburg force, refuel and rearm and take on the planes heading for Schweinfurt. Nineteen percent of the aircraft participating were shot down. Hundreds of fighters assailed both bomber streams, and from their close positions in the 'combat box', flak took their toll too. 600 aircrew were lost to the Allies, almost 400 were captured. Of the planes that made it back, many would never fly again.
The German factories took a beating too, and Albert Speer, the German Armaments Minister, was getting nervous. British area bombing didn't bother him so much, but the Americans and their pinpoint attacks on German war industry was another thing. Without ball bearings, Speer's war machine would come to a complete halt. His aircraft were already running though millions of ball bearings a month. Ball bearing output dropped 38%, and the lost production of Bf-109's amounted to about 1000 planes. The mission accomplished it's goal.
Schweinfurt was hit again in October, and again without escort. Lemay was promoted out of his aircraft (they didn't want to lose him.) and 291 B-17's crossed the German border and watched the P-47's turn back, running low on fuel. There were 1000 German fighters available and it seemed that every one of them took a shot at the bomber force. Planes were dropping everywhere, flak was telling too. 60 of the big bombers were lost, many that made it back were written off as unrepairable. Losses were way over 20%. Ball bearing production dropped so much that Albert Speer tried to buy ball bearings from Sweden.
The raids were a pyrrhic victory. German war industry was in disarray, but morale in the bomber crews had sunk to a new low. The fliers weren't stupid, they could see that if they kept this up, there wouldn't be any bomber crews alive to go home again. It was painfully obvious that escort fighters would be needed to be successful. By December, 1943, the P-51 arrived on the scene, and with it came an escort fighter with long enough legs to keep up with the bombers no matter where they went.
Video from the NewClassroom Channel