Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


This is coolbert:

First read my previous blog entries on the principle of the designated marksman here and here. Then read this incredible stuff.

Thanks here to Al Nofi, [CIC # 166], through StrategyPage.

"On the Nose"

"Very early in the Revolutionary War, Congress resolved to recruit a regiment of riflemen from the rugged frontier folk of Virginia and Pennsylvania. An enormous number of men came forward to offer their services."

[persons that today would be referred to as "hillbillies". Persons having in their hands and firing single-shot, muzzle loading flintlock rifles of the "Kentucky" or "Pennsylvania" type. Handcrafted rifles built by German immigrant craftsman and wielded by men WHO KNEW HOW TO SHOOT!]

"Too many, in fact."

"When the officers appointed to organize the two companies allocated to Virginia arrived at the appointed rendezvous, they found 500 men ready to serve, far more than the approximately 200 required. Now the volunteers were all good men. And a mite touchy lest some preference be shown to another. So merely picking 200 men out of the mass of volunteers would not do."

"To resolve the dilemma, one of the recruiting officers devised a simple test.
Taking a board one foot square, he chalked upon it the profile of a face. He then nailed the board to a tree and paced off 150 yards [about 150 meters], where he drew a line in dirt. Each volunteer was asked to put a round in the target, as close to the nose as he could."

"The first 50 men to step forward obliterated the nose, requiring a replacement. In this way the Virginia companies were filled with little difficulty and, under Daniel Morgan, later one of the most successful American commanders of the war, almost immediately set out to join George Washington’s army in front of Boston."

You would be hard pressed to find marksmen in any army of the world TODAY who with MODERN weapons could equal or surpass the frontier riflemen of that era.

And we see the name of Daniel Morgan. American Revolutionary War commander seldom out-classed. A man whose name can be added to the list of superlative amateurs. Intuitive, inspired, non-professional combat commanders of the first order.

A list that now includes:

* Julius Caesar [suggested by Fabius Maximus]

* General Giap.

* Oliver Cromwell.

* Mikhail Frunze [?].

* Daniel Morgan.



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Comrade J.

This is coolbert:

Outstanding program this afternoon on National Public Radio.

From the "All Things Considered, January 28, 2008."

An interview with Sergei Tretyakov and author Pete Earley.


The latter is, "Pete Earley, the author of books about several Americans who had spied for Russia." [Earley has written a book concerning the defection of Sergei - - called "Comrade J"]

Sergei was right at the top of Russian FIS [formerly the Soviet KGB] intelligence apparatus, working out of the United Nations in NYC.

This man I had not heard of before. Defections are not even covered any more?

"Sergei Tretyakov was an operative of the KGB, the former Soviet intelligence service. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the agency changed its name [now FIS], but its mission remained the same."

"Tretyakov was nominally a press officer at the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York. In reality, he was running a number of intelligence agents who, in turn, were trying to get information out of Americans and others at the U.N. In 2000, Tretyakov became one of the highest-ranking [NO, THE HIGHEST RANKING?? ] Russian spies ever to defect to the United States."

According to Sergei:

"In speaking out, I hope to expose how naive [the attitude of the United States toward Russia] this is. During the Cold War, in the Soviet military doctrine there was the definition of the MAIN ENEMY, which was also used by intelligence as a basic guiding principle. It was the United States, followed by NATO and China. What is the official guiding line for the modern SVR [FIS] today? The terms have changed. It is now called the MAIN TARGET. But it is exactly the same: the United States, followed by NATO and China. Nothing has changed. Russia is doing everything it can today to embarrass the U.S. Let me repeat this. Russia is doing everything it can today to undermine and embarrass the U.S. The SVR [FIS] rezidenturas in the U.S. are not less, but in some aspects even more active."

Russian, emboldened NOW by wealth from oil and gas revenues, feels it can once again embark upon an expansionist and confrontation foreign policy toward the "west". NOT willing to become a partner in the global community of democratic nations. Back to the old ways of deception, guileful behavior, expansion?

The pattern of:

* Long-range bomber flights.

* Testing of advanced and mobile intercontinental missiles [equipped with advanced hypersonic delivery vehicles].

* Continued research into bioweaponry of genetically modified designs.

* Development of more potent and deadly submarines.

Are all part of a forbodding and troubling future. The COLD BEAR is back with a vengeance?

I hope not!



Sunny Italy?

This is coldbert:

Thanks here in part to Al Nofi, [CIC # 175], StrategyPage.

Somethings - - in warfare - - NEVER change??!!

This quite often has been a topic of previous blog entries I have made!

NOW, consider this:

From the wiki entry on the Dulcinian Movement.

"The winter of 1305 was particularly cold and the pressure from the Catholic troops and the inhabitants of the valley was particularly effective so Margaret of Trento [Margharita di Trank] decided to lead another march through the mountains to escape the siege."

The year - - 1305 - - the place - - the mountains of Italy - - the conditions - - COLD!

"During the Anglo-Russian Campaign in Naples [southern part of Italy] over the winter of 1805-1806, several Russian soldiers froze to death, the weather in the mountains of “Sunny Italy” being more ferocious than that back home." [CIC # 175]

The year[s] - - 1805-1806 - - the place - - the mountains of Italy - - the conditions - - COLD!

And, further, from my blog entry:

"The largest land battle in Europe [western], Cassino was the bitterest and bloodiest of the Western Allies' struggles with the German Wehrmacht on any front of the Second World War."

"On the German side, many compared it unfavourably with Stalingrad."

"The German commander, Lieutenant-General Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, wrote: 'We found that divisions arriving from other theatres of war were not immediately equal to the double burden of icy mountain terrain and massed bombardment.'"

During the Italian campaign [1944], German soldiers, who had been in both places [Stalingrad and the Appenine mountains] compared them unfavorably.

The year - - 1944 - - the place - - the mountains of Italy - - the conditions - - COLD!

"Sunny Italy"??



Monday, January 28, 2008


This is coolbert:

Here is an occurrence of guerrilla warfare only mentioned in passing by the myth man, Joseph Campbell, in his book, "The Masks of GOD: Occidental Mythology".

Described as:

"one of the most amazing episodes of desperate guerrilla warfare in the history of Europe."

Apparently, an anti-clerical, anti-feudal, anti-authority movement having a strong religious basis to it.

This was "The Dulcinian religious movement" [circa 1300 A.D.].

Originally a peaceful movement, descending into violence and destructiveness as a reaction to persecution, primarily from papal authority.

According to Campbell, "yielding many members to the stake".

A peaceful movement that became very violent. A GROUP OF TRUE BELIEVERS! I AM RIGHT - - YOU ARE WRONG- - GET OUT OF MY WAY - - OR ELSE!!!

"Dolcino justified everything committed by the Dulcinians in this period by affirming that they were so perfect they could do anything they wanted without Sin, basing his affirmation on Saint Paul (Epistle to Titus 1,15): To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted."

[Dolcino of course was "pure", as was his paramour [in spirit hopefully, Dolcino being a monk], Margherita di Trank.]

"paramour - - c.1300, noun - - "passionately, with strong love or desire," Originally a term for Christ (by women) or the Virgin Mary (by men)"

A Crusade was actually launched against these "heretics", a Crusade only succeeding after great difficulty, due to the rough terrain of the Italian Piedmont and the fanaticism of the "guerrillas".

The fate of the leaders of this fanatical movement was grim. According to Campbell:

"Segarelli [founding member of the Dulcinians] himself was burned in the Great Papal Jubilee 1300 . . . the leaders of the largest company of his followers - - Dolcino . . . Catteneo, and Margherita di Trank . . . were captured and executed: the woman . . . was roasted slowly before Dolcino's eyes, and he himself was driven about the city of Vercelli in a cart, being gradually torn to bits with battery of red-hot pincers, while his colleague, Cattaneo, was suffering the same piecemeal dismemberment"

"he was tortured with hot instruments, evirated, his fingers, his nose, his ears were amputated, his tongue and his eyes extirpated and when they reached Vercelli he was finally burned at the stake."

"Evirate - - to castrate; To emasculate; to dispossess of manhood."

"ex·tir·pate - - 2. to pull up by or as if by the roots; root up"

[someone must have really had it in for Dolcino.]

Such was the ways things were handled in those days.



Saturday, January 26, 2008


This is coolbert:

Everyone is familiar with the conventional hand grenade.

Carried [four] as part of the basic fighting load by the common soldier.

Here, however, are some hand grenades that I classify in the curiosities and oddities category. Weapons having "dubious" value?

The "Sticky bomb".

British development from the early days of World War Two [WW2]. An anti-tank hand grenade that would "stick" to a tank, allowing the full force of the grenade's explosion to have the maximum effect.

"This was an early attempt at an anti-tank grenade. To get the explosive to detonate against the vehicle armour it relied upon an adhesive coating to hold the bomb in place, hence 'Sticky'."

But was very dangerous as well to the thrower.

"Inherently dangerous for the user"

"However, if the grenade stuck to something else, such as the thrower's clothing, then he was in mortal danger, with an armed or - worse - ignited grenade stuck to him."

The RKG-3 anti-tank grenade.

A Soviet/Russian anti-tank grenade possessing both a shaped-charge AND a parachute.

"When the pin is pulled and the grenade is thrown a four-panelled drogue parachute is deployed by a spring. This parachute stabilizes the grenade in flight and ensures that the grenade strikes the target at a 90 degree angle, maximising the effect of the shaped charge."

The RKG has been used in combat AND is being used by insurgents in Iraq, right now, as we speak.

"The RKG-3M was used extensively [presumably by the Egyptians and Syrians] during the 1973 Yom Kippur War."

"RKG-3 grenades have also been used by Iraqi insurgents against coalition forces."

"RKG-3 grenades have been intercepted en-route to Palestinian forces in Gaza."

The Gammon "bomb". Actually a hand grenade, but in British parlance, a "bomb". The British refer to hand grenades and mortar rounds both as "bombs".

"parlance - - noun - - a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language"

A somewhat unique grenade in that it had a variable size explosive charge AND an impact fuse. Detonates when striking the target [when used against armored vehicles].

"a replacement for the temperamental and highly dangerous 'sticky bomb' grenade."

"the Gammon bomb was flexible in the amount and type of munition that could be delivered to a target."

"Detonation of a gammon grenade was instantaneous on impact [when used against an armored vehicle] with the target i.e. there was no time delay."

And of course, the German "stick grenade" of WW2 fame [WW1 also].

I have always wondered about the usefulness of that handle? For what reason was it included? Was there some advantage to having a hand grenade at the end of a "stick"?

"The stick provided a lever, significantly improving the throwing distance. The Model 24 could be thrown approximately 30-40 yards, whereas the British Mills bomb [a conventional hand grenade] could only be thrown about 15 yards."

Well, there you have it! MORE THAN TWICE AS FAR!! Should have been obvious.

Keep in mind, that at the time the Gammon grenade, the "sticky bomb", and probably the RKG were first developed, the infantryman did NOT have a reliable means at his disposal to defeat enemy tanks. Anti-tank grenades were just one response to the changing battlefield of the era. Such grenades are of course now passe', supplanted by much more effective shape-charged weapons delivered by anti-tank guided missiles [ATGM].



Friday, January 25, 2008

Logistics III. [End]

This is coolbert:

"lieutenants think tactics, generals think logistics"

Thanks here to Al Nofi, [CIC # 150], through StrategyPage.

"William the Conqueror and the Logistics of the Conquest"

"It’s well known that in the summer of 1066 Duke William of Normandy concentrated an army of some 14,000 men and 3000-4000 horses, crossed the English Channel, and wrested the crown of England from his cousin Harold Godwinson. Now crossing the channel is a considerable accomplishment in any age, given its treacherous waters, so William deserves credit for that, perhaps as much as for his hard-fought victory in the Battle of Hasting (October 14, 1066). But William’s greatest struggle was perhaps logistical."

"William’s concentrated his army at Dives-sur-mer, where it spent most of August of 1066 training and preparing. It was a 'pot luck' host. Although it contained many of William’s Norman subjects, it also included a lot of adventurers from all over Europe, including knights from Italy and Spain, as well as from other parts of France. A large contingent consisted of Norman veterans who had long-experience of war against the Lombards and Byzantines in Southern Italy and the Moslems in Sicily."

"Taking care of this army - as small as it may seem in modern terms - was a major undertaking."

"The average man eats about four pounds of food a day, and drink about a gallon of water. So for an army of 14,000, William had to supply about 28 tons of food, mostly grain, plus 14,000 gallons of water, without considering more than the barest diet, nor things like beer or wine, commonplaces of the medieval diet. Thus, in a month, William’s 14,000 men required 868 tons of food and over 400,000 gallons of water."

"Of course, William’s army also included between 3,000 and 4,000 horses. War horses of between 1300-1500 pounds eat about 24 pounds of feed and fodder each day. In William’s time about half of this would have been grains, mostly barely or spelt, though occasionally oats, while the other half would have been cut hay; green grass could be substituted, but in a 3:1 ratio, which would have meant that the horses would have spent so much their time eating there would have been little time for exercise and training. Of course, each horse also required between 8 and 12 gallons of water, depending upon the weather. So each day, William’s horses required 12-18 tons of grain and as much again of hay, plus 24,000-48,000 gallons of water. In addition, since stabling the horses required a daily supply of 2-4 pounds of fresh straw per animal, to line their stalls, William had to come up with 4-5 tons of that stuff each day. So for his month’s encampment, William’s horses required between 745 and 1,115 tons of feed and fodder, plus 125-150 tons of straw, and between 620,000 and 930,000 gallons of water, figures that make the supply requirements of the men seem minuscule."

[during World War One [WW1], the inhabitants of the British Isles were on a near starvation diet, so little bread and grain was available - - the consequence of having to feed the not so insignificant number of English cavalry divisions on-call for combat on the Western Front. Divisions of cavalry, NEVER used, but still requiring sustenance!!]

"Of course not only did William have to supply food and water, he also had to cope with the consequences of large numbers of men and horses consuming food and water. Each day William’s men would each have left about three pounds of feces and perhaps a quart of urine, for a daily output of about 21 tons of more-or-less solids plus perhaps 3,500 gallons of liquids. For the entire month the army was at Dives-sur-mer, this would have amounted to some 650 tons and nearly 110,000 gallons. But, as with rations, those figures pale when compared to the equivalent numbers for horses. A horse produces some 20 pounds of feces and 7.5-8.5 gallons of urine a day. So for the month the army was in camp William had to deal with about 930 tons of horse manure and 480,000-720,00 gallons of urine."

[at the time of the initial exploration of the Great Plains of North America, the observation was made that WHOLE WATERCOURSES WOULD BE FOULED AND RENDERED UNDRINKABLE by the passages of enormous herds of buffalo!!]

"war makes all of mans' other activities seem trivial by comparison!!" - - G.S. Patton.



Logistics II.

This is coolbert:

"lieutenants think tactics, generals think logistics"

Thanks here to Al Nofi, [CIC # 145], through StrategyPage.

By 1944 an amphibious landing by an American or British infantry division in the European Theater required some 500 ships, boats, and other vessels varying from 15,000-ton attack transports down to 100-ton LCVP's (Landing Craft, Vehicles and Personnel), excluding vessels needed for naval gunfire support, escort, and anti-aircraft protection.

We need to be clear here. This is the amount of ships [about 500] just for the troops of ONE division alone. NOT counting supporting naval vessels, of which there would also be a considerable number.

"war makes all of mans' other activities seem trivial by comparison!!" - - G.S. Patton.



Logistics I.

This is coolbert:

"lieutenants think tactics, generals think logistics"

Thanks here to Al Nofi [CIC # 129] through StrategyPage.

"The movement of supplies and munitions for the British punitive expedition into Tibet in 1904 required 10,000 human bearers, plus 7,000 mules, and 5,000 bullocks, not to mention 4,000 yaks, but apparently no yetis."

"war makes all of mans' other activities seem trivial by comparison!!" - - G.S. Patton.




This is coolbert:

“the purpose of terror is to terrorize” - - V.I. Lenin.

Good program on Public Broadcast System [radio] the other evening.

Describing conditions in the Israeli town of Sderot [Sday-rote].

A town, population of 24,000, under a continuous bombardment of rocket artillery fired by Hamas “militants” from the Gaza Strip.

Qassam rockets, 2,000 fired in the year 2007 alone.

The Qassam is NOT that accurate and many rockets go astray. Israeli measures to alert and protect their population are pretty good. Even with 2,000 rockets fire in one year [2007], ONLY two persons lost their lives, with several dozens wounded.

[when I say ONLY, I would think that most persons are anticipating a MUCH higher casualty rate from 2,000 rockets.]

Physical casualties aside, the mental stress, apprehension, anxiety, anticipation for the remaining residents of Sderot is quite high.

About one-third [1/3] of the pre-2007 population has just left for “greener pastures”. Life for those folks is unbearable under the pressure and stress of constantly having someone trying to kill you!

Those remaining in Sderot ARE under constant elevated mental stress from the Qassam bombardment, even with the rockets being as inaccurate as they are.

Clinics prescribing a variety of pharmaceuticals are one answer for the Sderot populace. Primarily tranquilizers such as Valium in ever increasing dosages for those that have trouble coping.

[one cannot neglect that mental anxiety and apprehensiveness ALSO CREATES A STRONG NEGATIVE PHYSICAL REACTION IN THE HUMAN BODY!! Your vital systems slowly begin to break down under continuous and unremitting mental stress!!]

You could point out that the number of dead and injured from Qassam rockets is probably ABOUT THE SAME AS THE NUMBER OF DEATHS AND INJURIES THAT SDEROT WOULD HAVE YEARLY FROM AUTO ACCIDENTS! With ACCIDENTS, however, intentional harm is not present. With the Qassam, SOMEONE IN CONSTANTLY TRYING TO KILL YOU! There is a difference!

Qassam - - ineffectual from a military standpoint - - VERY effectual from a terror standpoint!!


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This is coolbert:

"THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." - - Matthew 24:29

Great signs and portents in the heavens HAVE heralded some of the most climactic moments in world military history.

Such as:

* Battle of Delhi [1300 B.C.?]. Total eclipse of the sun followed some days later by an eclipse of the moon.

* Gaugamela. Total eclipse of the moon.

* Jerusalem [66 A.D]. Appearance of Halley's Comet. Hanging over the city like a sword.

* Falls of the Ohio [1778]. Total eclipse of the sun.

* Isandhlwana. Annular solar eclipse.

* Tannenberg [1914]. Total eclipse of the sun.

CELESTIAL PHENOMENON ALSO ACCOMPANYING the siege and fall [1453] of Constantinople to the forces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

The end of the Byzantine [Eastern Roman Empire] Empire is considered by most historians to be one of the most pivotal events in history.

"The Fall of Constantinople refers to the capture of the Byzantine Empire's capital by the Ottoman Empire on Tuesday, May 29, 1453 (Julian Calendar) . . . the fall of Constantinople accelerated the scholarly exodus of Byzantine Greeks which caused the influx of Classical Greek Studies into the European Renaissance . . . The date of the event is one of the frequently proposed events marking the end of the Middle Ages as a historical period."

"The fall of Constantinople and general encroachment of the Turks in that region also severed the main overland trade link between Europe and Asia, and as a result more Europeans began to seriously consider the possibility of reaching Asia by sea."

Europeans of the period had to find another route to Asia! Sea routes pioneered by the Portuguese beginning with Henry the Navigator - - and the westward voyages of Christopher Columbus - - "discovering" the western hemisphere and all that meant - - in the process!

The Byzantines besieged within Constantinople seemed to be "behind the psychological eight ball"! Observed celestial phenomenon that must have - - to them - - indicated that their situation was HOPELESS!

Phenomenon related to a stupendous - - and to the Byzantines - - unknown - - volcanic eruption many thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean!

The eruption of the volcano Kuwae.

[this too was a new one on me. Devoted readers also!!??]

"Kueae also called Karua is a submarine volcano between Epi and Tongoa islands, one of the most active volcanoes of Vanuatu."

"Tongoa and Epi islands once formed part of a larger island called Kuwae. Local folklore tells of a cataclysmic eruption that destroyed this island, leaving the two smaller islands and an oval-shaped 12 x 6 km caldera in between. Also the ice core analyses [from Antarctica and Greenland] are able to pinpoint the event to late 1452 or early 1453 . . . volume of expelled matter is more than six times larger than that of the 1991 Pinatubo [Philippines] eruption"

From the wiki entry on the eruption of Kuwae:

[Pang is Dr. Kevin Pang - - Jet Propulsion Laboratory]

"The eruption occurred just before the Fall of Constantinople, the last bastion of the once-mighty Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Turks, led by Sultan Mehmed II, laid siege to the city on April 5, 1453, and conquered it on May 29. Pang found mention of the volcano's aftereffects in chronicles of the city's last days. Historians noted the city's gardens that spring produced very little. On May 25, a thunderstorm burst on the city: "It was impossible to stand up against the hail, and the rain came down in such torrents that whole streets were flooded". On the night of May 22, 1453, the moon, symbol of Constantinople, rose in dark eclipse, fulfilling a prophecy of the city's demise. Four days later, the whole city was blotted out by a thick fog, a condition unknown in that part of the world in May. When the fog lifted that evening, 'flames engulfed the dome of the Hagia Sophia, and lights, too, could be seen from the walls, glimmering in the distant countryside far behind the Turkish camp (to the west),' historians noted. Residents of the city thought the strange light was due to reflection from a fire set by the Turkish attackers. Pang said, however, such a 'fire' was an optical illusion due to the reflection of intensely red twilight glow by clouds of volcanic ash high in the atmosphere."

* Gardens did not bloom.

* Intense thunderstorm.

* Eclipse of the moon [symbol of Constantinople].

* Thick fog, unusual for that time of year.

* Optical illusions.

The end was at hand. The prophecy was fulfilled. Great signs and portents showed that all were doomed. Resistance was futile. Fate was taking it's inevitable and tragic course!!



The Nano!

This is coolbert:

Some of you by now are familiar with the latest and greatest idea to come out of India. A new automobile designed with the "masses" in mind! The Tata Nano.

Priced at less than $2,000 American! An unheard of price for a brand new vehicle, anywhere in the world. Featured just the other day on the television program, "Foreign Exchange".

The women moderator of "Foreign Exchange" states that the last person to build a car for the "masses" was Henry Ford, in 1912!


The last person to manufacture an automobile "for the masses" was Adolf Hitler!

"Adolf Hitler had a keen interest in cars even though he did not drive. In 1933, he asked Ferdinand Porsche to make changes to his original 1931 design to make it more suited for the working man."

The Volkswagen! Volkswagen in German means "peoples car"!

Remember, Hitler was a self-described "socialist". His movement was called the National Socialist movement! A movement purported to be egalitarian in nature, appealing to the "common man", the working class in particular!

The Volkswagen represented a "sea change" for German auto manufacturers. German auto companies such as Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Porsche accustomed to building outstanding automobiles of the highest quality and performance [and still are for that matter]!

There was a German World War Two [WW2] staff car built along the lines of the Volkswagen! This vehicle, having an air-cooled engine, was effective in cold climates, such as was to be found during the Russian Campaign! Water-cooled engine blocks of conventional German military vehicles froze solid in the intense cold of the WW2 Eastern Front! NOT SO THE VOLKSWAGEN!

"Most notably - thanks to its smooth, flat underbody—the Kübel would propel itself much like a motorised sled when its wheels were sinking into sand, snow or mud, allowing it to follow tracked vehicles with remarkable tenacity."

The little vehicle that just kept going and going!

And - - as for the moderator of "Foreign Exchange" - - experts must not be wrong about such things!



North Pole?

This is coolbert:

The underwater voyage of the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Nautilus to the North Pole was - - at the time - - a matter of considerable public interest. An "impossible" feat had been done? And "done" with relative ease at that?

"At 11:15 pm on August 3, 1958, NAUTILUS' second Commanding Officer, Commander William R. Anderson, announced to his crew, "For the world, our country, and the Navy - the North Pole." With 116 men aboard, NAUTILUS had accomplished the "impossible"" reaching the geographic North Pole - 90 degrees North."

I do recall the stir this voyage created. Anderson, along with his entire crew, were considered to be national heroes. Anderson in particular, was thought to be capable of very high political office and did serve in Congress for a time.



Under the ice [the Nautilus was under the ice without possibility of surfacing the entire voyage], normal methods of navigation were not possible?

"The U.S. Navy developed the ships inertial navigation system (SINS), which allows a submarine to navigate underwater by keeping track of its relative motion from a known starting point. In practice, errors accumulate, requiring the submarine to approach the surface for periodic updates from external sources at periscope depth."

An inertial guidance system, by the standards of the time, or even now, provides ONLY an approximate location, NOT and exact one. Corrections are needed for exactness.

NOT being able to surface, or even come to periscope depth, meant that celestial bearings, LORAN readings from low-frequency communications, etc., were NOT possible.

[my understanding is that submarines are equipped with a tethered radio receiver buoy. The buoy is raised to the surface and radio signals can be received without the submarine surfacing. This too could not be done under the ice.]

LORAN can penetrate the water and ice to a degree that reception is possible?

[OMEGA did not come onto line until 1968 and of course no GPS existed in 1958.]

OR, some sort of secret [secret to this day], navigational system was available to the navigator of the Nautilus?

Anyone have an idea on this one?



Sunday, January 20, 2008


This is coolbert:

Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Dowager Cixi, said: [of the Pekingese dog]

"Let it comport itself with dignity; let it learn to bite the foreign devils instantly."

China during the nineteenth century was the victim of unfair and unequal treaties. Pacts with foreign powers foisted upon the "Celestials" primarily by European imperial powers. Foreign powers disliked by the Chinese. To the Chinese, abasement and humiliation for themselves, "Celestials" and occupants of the "Middle Kingdom" [half-way between heaven and earth], at the hands of "white-faced foreign devils" must have been the ultimate in degradation.

Especially pronounced was the result of the Second Opium War.

The Imperial City [Forbidden City], and the Summer Palace of the Chinese Emperor were occupied and LOOTED by a combined French and British force.

"Elgin landed with British and French forces in August 1860 and marched on Peking. On the fifth of October the troops arrived at the Summer Palace, a vast complex of buildings and park lands just outside Peking which served as a retreat for the emperor. The sight of all these riches was too much for the British and French troops and frantic looting took place."

Looting in part as retaliation due to mistreatment of British diplomats and soldiers captured by the Chinese.

"On the eighteenth of October 1860, Elgin received news that British and French soldiers who'd been captured a few weeks earlier had been tortured and the majority of them killed. He decided to retaliate and ordered that the Summer Palace be torched. For two days the fire raged, the smoke clearly visible from Peking."

"a British diplomatic envoy, Harry Parkes, was arrested during negotiations on September 18. He and his small entourage were imprisoned and tortured (some were murdered by the Chinese in a fashion that infuriated British leadership upon discovery in October)."

[what was done to those captured is not mentioned. Perhaps they were made eunuchs. Or perhaps they suffered death "of a thousand cuts". Whatever it was, the British were so angry they behaved in retaliation in the manner of the barbarian.]

Among the "loot" taken from the Summer Palace were FIVE PEKINGESE DOGS. A breed unknown to "westerners" at the time. The Pekingese held a very special and exalted status among the Chinese of the Imperial Court. Exceedingly so!

"During the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Forbidden City was invaded by Allied troops. The Emperor Xianfeng had fled with all of his court. However an elderly aunt of the emperor remained. When the ‘foreign devils’ entered, she committed suicide. She was found with her five Pekingese mourning her passing."

"It was also customary for the emperor to select four Pekes who were to become his bodyguards. The emperor would be preceded by these four Pekes on such occasions of state, whereby two of them would announce his approach at correct intervals with sharp, piercing barks, while the other two would daintily hold the hem of his royal robe in their mouths. At night, they would carry small lanterns strapped to their necks. It would be considered a crime to steal or injure a Peke, and this would result in the punishment of death."

These five Pekingese, "prisoners of war" were taken to England where they became favorites of the English royal court and the middle class in general. LAP DOGS AS PERSONAL HOUSEHOLD PETS OWE THEIR EXISTENCE TO THE PEKINGESE TAKEN FROM CHINA TO ENGLAND!!

Dig this amazing stuff! It seems that almost all Pekingese in the world are descended from that original five dogs and a meagre number of others that escaped extermination - - the Chinese feeling these dogs were too important to fall into the hands of "western foreign devils"?

"It was in 1911, after the death of the Empress Dowager that Chinese officials began an extensive extermination of the Pekingese, in order to prevent them from ending up in unworthy hands. There were very few Chinese Pekingese that escaped the massacre."

Yip, yip, hooray!!



Friday, January 18, 2008


This is coolbert:

You know I just could not pass this one up.

From my blog entry of Saturday, January 05, 2008:

"Traditionally, in warfare, the biggest killers have been water and feet. NOT DEATHS IN COMBAT!!"

"With regard to feet, having bad feet and not being able to keep up the march, falling out and being killed by irregulars or marauders."

And from the web site as linked in the previous blog entry:

"Coming back, we made clean work of the buildings on the route in retaliation for some of our men who were unable to keep up with the column, being murdered and mutilated."

Yankee troops, unable to keep up with the march, falling out, being caught by southern marauders or irregulars, killed [murdered], AND MUTILATED!!

Keep the feet dry and the boot heels in good repair, the toenails short, wear thick wool GI socks, and KEEP UP WITH THE MARCH!!




This is coolbert:

“'til Stoneman’s cavalry came, and tore up the tracks again” - - “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

Railroads have played an integral part in military operations ever since the time of the American Civil War.

[as I have said before, the American Civil War is considered by most historians to be the first MODERN WAR! Use of mass transportation - - railroads, steam ships, rapid means of communications - - telegraph, mass production of weapons on an assembly line, industrialized basis, etc.]

Railroads allowed combat commanders to move men and equipment intact over large distances and in short order in a manner hitherto deemed impossible!!

Denying your opposition the use of railroads for military operations was an important tactic employed primarily by Federal forces during the years 1861-1865.

Union forces in particular became very adept and workmanlike in their ability to destroy entire MILEAGES of Confederate railroad track

Read an account of how “Yankee” forces destroyed in one-fell-swoop, twenty miles of Confederate railway, IN ENTIRETY, irrevocably!! This would include destruction of telegraph poles and lines adjacent to the track, and any railway associated buildings!

The result, rails heated and wrapped around a tree trunk, were referred to as “JEFF DAVIS NECKTIES”!!

[named after Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. If you ever visit the Lincoln Museum, Springfield, Illinois, you can actually see one of these “neckties”!! An actual length of tree trunk from the period, with a heated rail wrapped around it! In some parts of the American South, these are called Sherman neckties!]

The Germans too, during World War Two [WW2], also were very adept and workmanlike in their ability to destroy railroad tracks.

Employed a “device” called a track plough. A “machine” [has the appearance of a claw, hook, talon] that would tear up the railroad ties! Leave behind a path of destruction over which NO train could pass.

"known as a Schienenwolf ('rail wolf') or Schwellenpflug ('sleepers plough')) is a rail vehicle which supports an immensely strong, hook-shaped 'plough'. It is used for destruction of rail track in warfare, as part of a scorched earth policy, so that it becomes unusable for the enemy."

[railroad ties are called “sleepers” in Europe!]

Particularly was used by German forces during retreat. Deny advancing allied and Soviet forces the use of railways during continued Soviet/American/British offensive operations. To rebuild a section of railroad track destroyed by a “rail wolf” would NOT have been a simple process! MUCH more laborious and time-consuming than what you would assume!



Thursday, January 17, 2008

Privateering II?

This is coolbert:

Thanks to Al Nofi, CIC # 144, through StrategyPage.

Hugh de Groot [Hugo Grotius] is considered to be the first and foremost exponent of international law!? Subsequent works dealing with international law rely HEAVILY upon the underpinnings and teachings of Hugh!? Hugh began his career by studying and codifying the rules of “prize” and what became known as “privateering”!!??

"In 1605 Grotius produced De jure praedae, which may be loosely translated as 'The Law of Loot', a profoundly learned work that traced the history of prize from Biblical and Classical times through the medieval Mediterranean maritime codes, to contemporary Western European usage. Grotius’ work formed the foundation of his subsequent life-long effort to codify international law, leading ultimately to his monumental De jure belli ac pacis - The Law of War and Peace (1625), which established him as 'the Mozart' of International law."

Grotius was compelled to study "the history of prize" as the result of an incident that OCCURRED IN THE STRAITS OF SINGAPORE!! That foremost part of the world for modern day piracy was the site of a "seizure" at sea, the legality of which was contested. Grotius initiated the codification of what has become known as "international law" as a result of A DISPUTED "PRIZE"!!



Privateering I?

This is coolbert:

Thanks to Al Nofi, CIC # [various entries], through StrategyPage.

Perhaps around 1980, in response to the smuggling of illegal drugs BY SEA into the U.S., and the failed efforts of American Coast Guard to stop same [smuggling], the American government contemplated, for a time, the return to the practice of privateering! Private concerns [”white companies"??] to intercept and capture at sea drug smuggling vessels, prize money to be awarded according to the value of the ship!! [”prize” does not include the value for the illegal drugs of course!!]

"A privateer was a private warship authorized by a country's government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping. Strictly, a privateer was only entitled to attack enemy vessels during wartime . . . Privateers were an accepted part of naval warfare from the 16th to the 19th centuries . . . The costs of commissioning privateers was borne by investors hoping to gain a significant return from prize money earned from enemy merchants."

This idea was not implemented for various reasons, illegality under international law being one of them??!!

Privateering WAS a major business during time of war. A prize-of-war could “fetch a handsome price” and MAKE A MAN RICH IN A WAY THAT CIVILIAN PURSUITS COULD NOT!!


"In 1813 the American privateer Thomas, an armed schooner, took two British ships that together yielded $92,246.36 in prize, so that even the lowest ranking member of the crew was awarded nearly $800, over four years’ pay for a common unskilled worker." [CIC # 168]

"As a result of a series of successful engagements against the French in 1794, Capt. John Maude, of HMS Leopard, a 50 gun ship, realized £33,144 in prize money, over 227 times what the Royal Navy paid him each year" [CIC # 153]

Was also a “business” amazingly well-regulated!

"the law set up a sliding scale for divvying the loot up among the affected officers and crew members."

* "5% to the commander of the squadron, unless he was also the captain of the capturing vessel"

* "10% to the captain of the capturing vessel, plus the squadron commander’s share if the vessel was sailing independently"

* "10% to be divided among the ship’s lieutenants, sailing master, and captain of marines."

* "10% for the ship's senior professional and technical personnel (e.g., surgeon, chaplain, chief boatswain, chief carpenter, master gunner)"

* "17½% for the midshipmen and specialized personnel (e.g., sail maker, armorer, master-at-arms, schoolmaster, and the mates of the men in the preceding class)"

* "12½% among the remaining non-commissioned officers"

* "35% for the ordinary seamen, marines, and boys"

Let me put things in a proper perspective.

"even the lowest ranking member of the crew was awarded nearly $800" [1813].

That amount of money, $800, for the common unskilled seaman, is worth, in today's dollars:

"In 2006, $800.00 from 1813:

$146,924.14 using the unskilled wage"

Privateering anyone?



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Midgets VII. - - [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

Modern midgets are currently used by the Croatian Navy. This is the “Una” class submarine. This may very well be the class that the North Koreans used as the model for THEIR Yugo” class PLASTIC submarine!

The “Una” is STRICTLY a special operations type of midget submarine. Does NOT carry any torpedoes. Used solely to transport and deploy “combat swimmers” for special purpose missions.

[the term “combat swimmer” is a Soviet and Eastern European military term roughly translated as underwater demolition technician [UDT]! A scuba diver placing demolition charges on the bottoms of enemy moored vessels!]

Combat swimmers using limpet mines against enemy shipping. A Jaywick type of special purpose operation. Presumably the North Koreans would use their own version of the “Una” for such demolition operations, surveillance, reconnaissance, etc. Read an account of ANOTHER abortive North Korea midget sub mission!

"Limpet mines are a special form of contact mine which are attached to the target by magnets and left, and are so named because of the superficial similarity to the mollusk, limpet. A swimmer or diver usually performs this task."

"usually they are set off by a time fuse. They may also have an anti-removal system making it explode if the mine is torn off by enemy divers or by other explosions. Sometimes the limpet mine had a small propeller which would detonate when the ship has sailed a certain distance."

Midget submarines are a very effective form of asymmetric warfare that causes a lot of headaches for conventional naval commanders and planners!!?? I would have to think that just GUARDING against this type of attack poses special difficulties??!!



Midgets VI.

This is coolbert:

Italy in the pre-World War Two [WW2] era also made significant strides with regard to the development of midget submarines.

These were the CB class of midget sub.

We find the same arrangement for weaponry on this sub [CB] as you had with the Soviet Pigmei. Torpedoes, two of them, carried outside [outboard] the vessel in firing tubes. Two shots and that was that. Back to base. Again, used for harbor and coastal defense and special missions.

The Germans, after capturing the SOLE experimental Pigmei sub from the Soviets, had Italian designers examine the vessel. Surprisingly [??]:

"in August 1942, Pigmei was shown to Italian submariners . . . Its dimensions did not differ much from those of the Italian CB-type submarine, but its hull was better proportioned and longer. The submarine's trapezoidal house [conning tower] was rather large but narrow. There were two long recesses at the boat-s hull mid-height which served to accommodate torpedoes."

Perhaps this should not be so surprising. According to Suvorov:

"There may be some people who underestimate Italy as a country of great thinkers, but not the GRU [Soviet/Russian military intelligence]. The GRU knows that the Italians have very good brains, the brains of great inventors . . . The Italians were not especially brilliant in battle, and this obscured the extent of Italian achievement in military technology. In fact those achievements, especially in the spheres of aviation, SUBMARINES and high-speed launches, were really amazing. Before the War [World War Two] GRU Colonel Lev Manevich had shipped from Italy to the Soviet Union tons of technical documentation of tremendous importance."

Tons of documents!





This is coolbert:

“there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!!”

From the January 2008 edition of Assembly magazine:

“Rollover accidents with Humvees are a common problem in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heavily loaded vehicles can be sent into a roll during evasive maneuvering, off-road travel, bomb blast and insurgent attacks . . . A quick means of escaping an overturned Humvee often means the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to evacuate an overturned Humvee. When fully armored, the vehicle’s doors can weight as much as 800 pounds each, making them virtually impossible to open if the vehicle is upright”

Fear not however, a solution has been found.

“Ibis Tek LLC. . . . developed what it calls it’s Vehicle Emergency Escape [(VEE) window . . . On each side of the window is a pair of safety pins and handles which all a soldier to quickly push the window out of the way . . . a Humvee crew can escape in a minute or less.”

Those Humvees being used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan must really be taking a bad beating. I bet the lot of them will just eventually be scrapped. NOT even returned to the U.S. Left in place, NOT salvable?

You may well recall the reaction to the threat from IED [improvised explosive device], EFP [explosively formed projectile], the general roadside bomb, all used by the Iraqi terrorists/guerrillas/insurgents. An immediate program, frenzied in nature, was put into effect. Retrofit the Humvees with an armor upgrade NEVER intended for such an all-purpose vehicle as the Humvee.

And such a retrofit program has been successful? Armor kits for all Humvees in the combat zone have been installed? Provide a modicum of protection for troops that did not exist before?

But there have been unintended consequences as well?

My initial intuitive reaction was that the wear and tear on the Humvees was just going to increase astronomically! That ADDITIONAL WEIGHT ARMOR UPGRADE KIT was going to have a catastrophic effect upon the engine, transmission, frame, tires, etc. Especially in such harsh and unforgiving terrain as Iraq, or Afghanistan for that matter!

All that weight, in addition, now contributes to a Humvee that is top-heavy and much more prone to rollovers?!

Well, this is just intuitive too, isn’t it? The Humvee was designed to be less susceptible to rollover than it’s predecessor, the world-famous Jeep. [the Jeep, for forty years the standard all-purpose military vehicle, was EXCEEDINGLY VULNERABLE TO ROLLOVERS, ESPECIALLY IN RUGGED TERRAIN!! Each armored door weighs 800 pounds? What did an unarmored door weigh? I can see the problem someone inside a rollover would face. Under enemy attack or if the Humvee was on fire - - well - - forget it!!

[a pair of armored doors is the same as having ten additional soldiers ride inside the Humvee ALL THE TIME??!!]

Armored doors provide a “modicum of protection” - - but - - are more likely to rollover - - and - - the troops inside cannot get out!!

“pay me now, or pay me later!!”



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Public Schools!

This is coolbert:

It CANNOT be said that the English upper crust elite are averse to sending their young men to war. The opposite. Consider the case of Eton and Harrow, the two most prestigious of the English public schools.

Thanks to Al Nofi, CIC # 148 through StrategyPage.

"Eton, Britain's "Blessed College", sent 5,768 of her sons into the British armed forces during World War I [WW1], of whom 1,160 (20.1%) died and 1,467 (25.4%) were wounded, for a total of 2,629 casualties (45.4%), while garnering 13 awards of the Victoria Cross, 548 of the Distinguished Service Cross, and 744 of the Military Cross, for a total of one high decoration for every 4.4 alumni in the service."

“the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” - - Wellington.

According to John Keegan, Wellington here is suggesting that:

"He [the Duke] was proposing a much more subtler idea: that the French had been beaten [at Waterloo] not by wiser generalship or better tactics or superior patriotism but by the coolness and endurance, the pursuit of excellence and of intangible objectives for their own sake which are learnt in game playing"

To clarify, Eton is what the English call a “public school”. NOT public in the American sense of the word. A PRIVATE school that trains the children primarily of the British elite to a high level of scholarship AND PATRIOTISM. Schools such as Eton, Rugby, Harrow.A “Mr. Chips” type of school. Game playing is an important part of public school life. The game Americans call soccer was codified and first played in the modern recognizable form at Eton! The game of rugby was first played at Rugby! IT IS NOT ONLY ETON THAT CONTRIBUTED A LOT OF ENGLISH YOUNG MEN WHO HAVE COMPORTED THEMSELVES WELL ON THE BATTLEFIELD. For Harrow we count winners of the Victoria Cross during the Great War [WW1] as eight:

* Major Ernest Wright Alexander.
* Captain Richard Raymond Willis.
* Captain Garth Walford.
* Second Lieutenant William Rhodes-Moorhouse.
* Acting Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson.
* Acting Captain Walter Napleton Stone.
* Acting Lieutenant Colonel John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker.
* Acting Major George de Cardonnel Elmsall Findlay.

Ivan Lyon, commander of the Jaywickers, was a Harrow grad and NOT even mentioned in the "List of Old Harrovians" wiki entry.

This has been remedied thanks to yours truly.


Labels: ,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Midgets V.

This is coolbert:

Do not think that the day of the midget submarine is over. Apparently, far from it! There is now, or will be, a rennaissance in such submarine development? A need exists, NOT for large, atomic-powered, pelagic submarines, but coast-huggers employed in a defensive mode?

There are a variety of nations that still employ midgets. To include:

* Iran. Ghadir class midget submarine.

"Ghadir is a class of midget submarines built in Iran."

An indigenous design built with a lot of the "latest military and technological equipment"!

"the submarine is equipped with the latest military and technological equipment and that its capabilities are equal to that of foreign types."

"The submarine is said to be a sonar-evading stealth submarine which is equipped with state-of-the-art electronic equipment and can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously, but no information was given on the range of these weapons."

With submarines of this size, you can build from metals that are less detectable? Create a stealth type midget sub from the get-go!?

* North Korea. Yugo and Sang-O class of midgets.

North Korean midget submarines designed for intelligence, reconnaissance, special operations type of missions. Read about one such abortive mission that did stir up a lot of headlines. The North Koreans take midget submarine missions seriously, even in time of "peace"!

* Russia. Project 865 Piranha.

"Project 865 Piranha (Russian: Проект 865 «Пиранья»), NATO reporting name "Losos", is a Russian supersmall experimental submarine."

"The Losos was designed for special operations and engaging surface ships located offshore, and is thus very durable and almost completely silent."

"The hull is made of a titanium alloy, reducing the effectiveness of mines"

"Due to belief in Russia that there will be an increased demand for small subs, the Project 865 Piranya Submarines have since been revived. Malakhit [Russian design bureau] has resumed development on small submarines based on the original Piranha. These mini-submarine have are being marketed to Asia appearing at expositions in Indonesia and Singapore."

"Malakhit believes that the vessel, which is quick and relatively inexpensive to build, is well-suited to navies that must operate in shallow waters."

Think here of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia.

Midgets - - wave of the future?



Midgets IV.

This is coolbert:

Various combatants used midget submarines during World War Two [WW2]. With ONLY varying success. A mixed record at best! Again, these midget subs were intended only for a defensive role [Germany], or a special purpose type mission [Britain, Japan]. These were NOT general purpose submarines that could perform a variety of missions. NOT versatile.

* Japanese. Type A,B,C and Type D midgets.


"They were originally intended to be carried by larger Japanese ships and deployed in the path of an enemy fleet, where they would disrupt its operations with torpedo attacks. However, during the Second World War, the midgets were used for special operations against ships in enemy harbors, among them the 7 December 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and May 1942 raids on Sydney, Australia, and Diego Suarez in the Indian Ocean."

Midgets were seen - - by the Japanese - - as an offensive weapon - - for special purpose missions!!

"Carried" [piggy-backed] to the target by another much larger ocean-going [pelagic] submarine. The midget would be deployed near the target and attack, penetrating defenses normally "off-limits" to a conventional submarine. Pearl Harbor, Sydney, Diego Suarez.

The Type D class midgets WERE to be used strictly as defensive weaponry. Coastal-huggers attacking American warships venturing close to the Japanese home islands in 1945.

The extent to which the Japanese put their faith in midgets can be seen by the number of "Koryo" midgets found in a drydock at the end of the war!

* British. X-craft.

"The X class submarines' weapons were two side-cargoes - explosive charges held on opposite sides of the hull with two tons of amatol in each. The intention was to drop these on the sea bed underneath the target then creep away. The charges were set off by a time fuze."

[not even carrying torpedoes. Had "charges" attached to the side of the sub that would be dropped "near" or under the target and detonated with time fuze! These X-craft were specifically developed with destroying or neutralizing German large surface raiders operating out of Norway!?]

"Their first deployment was Operation Source in September, 1943, an attempt to neutralise the heavy German warships based in Northern Norway. Six X-Craft were used, but only 2 successfully laid charges (under the German battleship Tirpitz); the rest were lost, scuttled or returned to base. The Tirpitz was badly damaged and out of action until April 1944."

[as one can surmise, the success rate of these midget subs was not too great!]

* Germany. "Seehund".

"The Seehund (seal) (also known as Type XXVII ) was a successful series of German midget submarines created during World War II. Designed in 1944, and run by two men crews"

"The small size and its rapid movement made the Seehund virtually undetectable and difficult to destroy due to their resilient hulls. The submarines were operated by crews of two and carried two underslung torpedoes."

[again, the total armament is two torpedoes, carried OUTSIDE THE SUB. Fire those two, and back to base!]

The record of midget submarines during WW2 - - is mixed at best!! Was all the effort worth it?



Midgets III.

This is coolbert:

Here is another midget submarine [slightly more displacement than the conventionally accepted definition of a midget?] that saw action in World War Two [WW2]. Much more successful as a class of midget sub than any other?

The Soviet "Malyutka".

"The M-class submarines, also Malyutka-class, were a class of small, single-hulled submarines built in the Soviet Union and used during World War II."

Again, a midget sub FOR DEFENSIVE PURPOSES ONLY. The original "Malyutka" had only two torpedoes for armament. Fire those two and that was that. Back to base for replenishment!

"These boats were designed in the beginning of the 30’s as typical coastal submarines. That is why their abilities were modest enough . . . just two torpedoes . . . these cheap, mass-produced boats were intended to defend naval bases, blockade enemy harbors and, as a main feature, be railway-friendly to be transported from one war theatre to another."

Railway-friendly means the entire sub can be placed on a railway car and transported from one locale to another, where ever the need is greatest! From White Sea to Baltic. From Baltic to Black. From Black to Pacific. Etc.!

Also used modular construction. Unusual for the time - - "cheap, mass-produced boats"! YES!



Midgets II.

This is coolbert:

It seems that the Soviet Union was far ahead of the rest of the world when it came to original concepts and designs of midget submarines? Research and development began in the 1930's? Concepts and designs far ahead of their time? TOO FAR AHEAD?

Deploy able, combat ready midget submarines that never got off the drawing board and into production. Experimental models only.

"Project APSS"

"The first Soviet midget submarine built was code named Project APSS (special-purpose autonomous submersible vessel). In other documents and publications this submarine was called a ‘telemechanical submarine’, ‘radio-controlled TV-equipped submarine’ and even a ‘telecontrolled self-propelled vehicle.’"

APSS was a midget submarine with a surface displacement of 7.2 tons and underwater displacement of 8.5 tons. The submarine was armed with one forward mounted torpedo tube, and could be operated in two basic modes: standard mode (by one man) and remote-control mode. In the latter mode, the possibility of controlling the submarine from surface ships and aircraft . . . In the telemechanical mode, the APSS carried a 500-kg explosive charge instead of a torpedo."

A midget submarine [APSS] that could have either a one-man crew or be autonomously controlled. AN UNMANNED VEHICLE FAR AHEAD OF IT'S TIME!!

Then we have the case of the Soviet Pigmei midget sub as well.

"The second midget submarine designed by Ostekhbyuro was designated APL (autonomous submarine) and called Pigmei (Pygmy)."

"Initially, this miniature submarine was conceived by Ostekhbyuro as an autonomous undersea vehicle controlled from an aircraft, but later the design work was focused on a project of a manned midget submarine."

. . . .

"there was only one experimental Pigmei midget submarine in the Navy. It was 16 m long and 2.62 m wide and had a standard surface displacement of 18.6 tons. It could develop a maximum surface speed of 6 knots and a maximum underwater speed of 5 knots. The boat-s full-speed range amounted to 290 miles on the surface and between 18 miles (full speed) and 60 miles (economical speed) underwater. The boat-s maximum diving depth was limited to 30 m and its maximum endurance was about three days. Pigmei-s main armament included two 450mm 45-15 type torpedoes fired from side rack-type launchers."

Armament was two torpedoes NOT CARRIED WITHIN THE SUBMARINE ITSELF! Carried outside the submarine "from side rack-type launchers"! Also had a one-man crew?

Vessels NOT designed for deep-water missions. Strictly for coastal and harbor defense. NOT having a general versatility.



Midgets I.

This is coolbert:

The topic for discussion is midget submarines.

A midget submarine is carefully defined by the wiki entry as:

"A midget submarine is any submarine under 150 tons, typically operated by one or two but up to 6 or 8 crew, with no on-board living accommodation."

Submersibles small in size, but meeting the accepted criteria as to what constitutes a submarine.


* When surfaced, powered by an air-breathing diesel engine.

* When submerged, powered by an electric motor which uses a large bank of batteries for "juice".

* Submerges by taking in water into ballast tanks.

* Surfaces by expelling the ballasted water with compressed air.

* Engages enemy targets primarily by firing a torpedo.

The norm for fighting submersibles as established by John Holland a long time ago now.

Personally, I have always wondered about the midget submarine and the utility of same. More effort than they are worth. The returns are less than for what is put into them? Having a general purpose, versatile, medium size, ocean-going submarine is far more preferable?

[Please keep in mind that a conventional German U-boat of World War Two [WW2] would displace about 1000 tons. Midget submarines, as defined, displace only about 1/10th as much.]

With regard to midgets, the role historically has always been defensive or special purpose missions. NOT deep-water [pelagic] vessels with long-range capacity. Definitely NOT! Used in littoral waters for coastal or harbor defense. And having versatility as a harassing weapon when performing the special operations type of mission!

According to Suvorov, the midget sub is seen by Soviet/Russian naval planners as:

* "capable of penetrating into places in which the ordinary ship cannot"

* Cheaper.

* Harder to locate and destroy.

The midget sub is a concept now passe'? NOT really living up to billing in the past, and now an anachronism in the nuclear age? Maybe NOT SO!?



Saturday, January 12, 2008


This is coolbert:

Thanks here to Al Nofi, CIC # 161, through StrategyPage.

"Tom Mix, one of Hollywood’s first Western stars, often claimed to be a veteran of the Spanish-American War and used the title 'Colonel,' which he said had been awarded by the Liberals during the Mexican Revolution of 1911, but there is considerable doubt that he ever soldiered a day in his life."

Tom Mix. The original Hollywood cowboy.

"He was Hollywood’s first Western megastar and is noted as having defined the genre for all cowboy actors who followed."

Even back in the old days, there were those who claimed to be military heroes - - but had never even "soldiered a day in his life"?

"In April 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in the Army under the name Thomas E. (Edwin) Mix. His unit never went overseas, and Mix later failed to return for duty after an extended furlough . . . Mix was listed as AWOL on November 4, 1902 but was never court martialed or apparently even discharged."

[Mix was born Thomas Hezikiah Mix.]

We may think of the military imposter as being a recent phenomenon, but as with Tom Mix [??] and for those that claimed to be thralls protecting the King of the Jutes, the fake military war hero is nothing new?

They always want to be a Colonel too. Or a Major at the least. Tom Mix actually served in the military, but there was a name "mix-up"?

Consider this also:

"Clifford Irving offers a pseudo-autobiographical version of Mix's early adulthood, positing him as a brash young gringo who befriends and then joins up with the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa in the novel 'Tom Mix and Pancho Villa', 1982.

Well, you see, this can all be easily explained. A mis-spelling of a name here, a novel thought to be factual here! Sure!



Friday, January 11, 2008


This is coolbert:

Here is that gigantic Soviet era float plane I remember reading about some years ago now.

The Ekranoplan. The Caspian Sea Monster.

Designed to be flown only a FEW FEET above the water. Would get a significant boost in lift from what is called "ground effect" [actually above the water in this case]!!

"Caspian Sea Monster . . . one of several Soviet military designs meant to fly only a few meters above water, saving energy"

"a vehicle resembling an aircraft but which operates solely on the principle of ground effect (in Russian эффект экрана effekt ekrana - from which the name derived). Ground effect vehicles (GEV) fly above any flat surface, with the height above ground dependent upon the size of the vehicle."

Resembles an aircraft. NO, it is an aircraft. Uses wings for lift and can fly as a conventional airplane does. Flies, however, only a few feet or so above the ground. Ekranoplan is a flying boat tremendous lift capability, range, speed [not excessive].

"Wing In Ground effect, which refers to the reduction in drag experienced by an aircraft as it approaches a height approximately twice a wingspan's length off the ground or other level surface (such as the sea) . . . has also been used to effectively enhance the performance of certain kinds of aircraft whose planform has been adapted to take advantage of it, such as the Russian ekranoplans."

"The ground effect was first encountered in the mid 1920s by pilots during taking off in and, above all, landing low-winged aircraft. There was a marked increase in wing lift, so that an aircraft continued to fly just above the ground, as though it did not want to land."

"developed by the Soviet Union as very high-speed military transports, and were based mostly on the shores of the Caspian Sea and Black Sea . . . were initially planned to enter military service in the Soviet Navy . . . to be deployed mainly for the Black and the Baltic Soviet navies."

Several comments here.

I had originally read that the Ekranoplan was designed as a hunter-killer anti-submarine aircraft. Would have incredible range and could operate over pelagic waters [deep-water] NOT confined to conventional bases. WOULD BE ABLE TO HUNT AMERICAN SUBMARINES ANY PLACE IN THE WORLD. Such a mission did not transpire.

[a fleet of refuelling vessels would be strategically located to service the Ekranoplan flying boats?! Global reach achieved with relative ease?!]

The "thing" just DOES NOT LOOK RIGHT!! As with the American "Pogo" and "Osprey", the design IS NOT RIGHT!!?? Too top-heavy and ungainly. Look at those engines on TOP and the huge tail.

This aircraft will work well over shallow bodies of water?! The Caspian Sea or the Baltic?! WOULD NOT HAVE WORKED WELL OVER A BODY OF WATER WITH CONSIDERABLE WAVE ACTION, SUCH AS THE ATLANTIC OR PACIFIC!!??

[as long as you fly in a STRAIGHT LINE, there is not problem also! As a person [myself], who has actually flown an aircraft in ground effect, I can see that just trying to TURN the plane would pose a great danger. You run the risk at very-low altitude of having a wing tip strike the water - - with catastrophic results!!]

Only a handful of the Ekranoplan ever were built. Those in existence were primarily of the concept and testing variety?!

A combat variation of the Ekranoplan was also planned. The Lun. ONLY ONE LUN ever flew!

"The aircraft was equipped for anti-submarine warfare. It was therefore fitted with six missile launchers, mounted in pairs on the dorsal surface of the fuselage, and advanced tracking systems mounted in the nose and tail."

Eight engines and six missile firing pods atop the "beast". It too looks ungainly. Does not look right!! [I am not an aeronautical engineer. But my intuitive observation of the ekranoplan is valid?!]

The Ekranoplan just were NOT as effective as one would have liked. An interesting concept worthy of "investigation". But that is about all!?



Wednesday, January 09, 2008


This is coolbert:

I see I was NOT ALONE in noting the passing of GEORGE MACDONALD FRASER.

Creator of Flashman. Flashman, VC, great military "hero" of the Victorian Era!

Here is from the British Daily Mail:

"The last testament of Flashman's creator: How Britain has destroyed itself"

Strong words and ideas from a man of strong words and ideas.

Read it all.


"I [Fraser] am deeply concerned for the United Kingdom and its future. I look at the old country as it was in my youth and as it is today and, to use a fine Scots word, I am scunnered"

- –noun 1. an irrational dislike; loathing
- –verb 2. to feel or show violent disgust
- –verb 3. to disgust; nauseate"




Tuesday, January 08, 2008


This is coolbert:

"Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."

- - Tennyson.

Good program on TV last night. An episode from the “History Project”

In this case: “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is the subject. A TV program very well done.

No melodrama as would be seen in a Hollywood movie dealing with the same subject.

Errol Flynn [1930’s] and David Hemmings [1960’s] both starred in movies of the same title. But that was Hollywood, based to a certain extent on facts, but of course, with a lot of license as is the norm for the silver screen.

This particular “History Project” production is much more accurate and comports to what really “went down”. At least one would assume so!

British light cavalry unit in suicidal charge against Russian artillery during the Crimean War. At Balaclava. Catastrophic casualties and foolhardy heroism that was WELL RECEIVED BY THE SENTIMENTAL BRITISH VICTORIANS!! In death and defeat, the troops of the Light Brigade and their commander behaved gloriously and achieved everlasting fame!!

Major participants in the catastrophe were:

* Lord Raglan. Overall English commander. Aristocrat of advanced age, had only one arm, [had lost the other at Waterloo] Had not seen combat in forty years!

* Lord Lucan. Overall English cavalry commander. Aristocrat.

* Lord Cardigan. Commander of the Light Brigade. Playboy. One of the richest men in England. Aristocrat. Brother-in-law of Lord Lucan, BUT NOT ON SPEAKING TERMS WITH HIS IMMEDIATE COMMANDER!!

* Captain Nolan. Cavalry advisor to Lord Raglan. Impetuous professional soldier and advocate of massed cavalry charges.

Observations regarding the “Charge”.

* The Crimea consists of treeless, arid, short-grass steppe-land. Excellent terrain for using cavalry. In this regard, Lord Raglan, standing on high ground, could see the entire battlefield at a single glance, as would a commander of the Napoleonic era.

* The Light Brigade DID run a gauntlet of Russian cannon. The Russians cannoneers employing solid shot, shrapnel, and canister as appropriate. Strangely enough, solid shot was [“pitched”] BOUNCED on the ground toward the approaching English horsemen. Solid shot striking the ground at a grazing angle and behaving as if it was a rubber ball!!

* Roughly six hundred horsemen charged the Russian guns. Tactical success WAS achieved, the guns [a battery of eight cannon] being captured. Counter-attack by Cossacks and a lack of support compelled the Light Brigade to withdraw, leaving about half of the brigade casualties.

Lord Cardigan HAD SPENT THE NIGHT PREVIOUS TO THE ATTACK ABOARD HIS PERSONAL YACHT HE HAD BROUGHT TO THE CRIMEA FOR HIS OWN PLEASURE WHEN “OFF DUTY”. Recall my recent blog entry on the amount of baggage by regulation a British officer was allowed to bring with him while on campaign! [“rank hath its privileges”]

It WAS the intention of Lord Raglan for the Light Brigade to attack at Balaclava! But NOT to run a gauntlet of Russian artillery and be annihilated! Attack and “charge” a Russian force that was carrying off CAPTURED ENGLISH ARTILLERY! English cannon captured by the Russians during an engagement fought earlier that very same day!

So! The disaster of the Light Brigade at Balaclava was MERELY the result of a miscommunication!? Imprecise and inexact orders!? AND allegedly, perhaps, a deliberate and willful misdirection by that impetuous cavalry officer, Captain Nolan? The truth will NEVER be known with exact certitude.