Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Medal of Honor- Lt. Samuel Woodfill, US Army


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 60th Infantry, 5th Division.

Place and date: At Cunel, France, 12 October 1918.

Entered service at: Bryantsburg, Ind. Birth: Jefferson County, Ind. G.O. No.: 16, W.D., 1919.

Citation: While he was leading his company against the enemy, his line came under heavy machinegun fire, which threatened to hold up the advance. Followed by 2 soldiers at 25 yards, this officer went out ahead of his first line toward a machinegun nest and worked his way around its flank, leaving the 2 soldiers in front. When he got within 10 yards of the gun it ceased firing, and 4 of the enemy appeared, 3 of whom were shot by 1st Lt. Woodfill. The fourth, an officer, rushed at 1st Lt. Woodfill, who attempted to club the officer with his rifle. After a hand-to-hand struggle, 1st Lt. Woodfill killed the officer with his pistol. His company thereupon continued to advance, until shortly afterwards another machinegun nest was encountered. Calling on his men to follow, 1st Lt. Woodfill rushed ahead of his line in the face of heavy fire from the nest, and when several of the enemy appeared above the nest he shot them, capturing 3 other members of the crew and silencing the gun. A few minutes later this officer for the third time demonstrated conspicuous daring by charging another machinegun position, killing 5 men in one machinegun pit with his rifle. He then drew his revolver and started to jump into the pit, when 2 other gunners only a few yards away turned their gun on him. Failing to kill them with his revolver, he grabbed a pick lying nearby and killed both of them. Inspired by the exceptional courage displayed by this officer, his men pressed on to their objective under severe shell and machinegun fire.

Not mentioned in the MoH citation is that Lt. Woodfill was hit with mustard gas during this action and was in hospital for the remainder of the war. He was one of the most decorated and celebrated soldiers of the First World War. Among others, he was also awarded the Croix de Guerra with palm leaves, the Meriot di Guerra and the Cross of Prince Danilo. General John Pershing, the most distinguished officer of the era, stated that he was the most outstanding soldier in WWI.

Lt. Woodfill returned to the Army following Pearl Harbor and was commissioned as a Major and spent the rest of his Army days training recruits in Birmingham, Alabama.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Firearm Safety

OK people, lets go over this again.
After hearing about yet another situation where some idiot has maimed or killed someone else through their amazing negligence and stupidity, I felt it is incumbent on me to once again lay out the basic rules of gun safety.

So for the basics:

Four Rules of Gun Handling:

RULE I: Always treat all guns as if they are loaded.

RULE II: Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

RULE III: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

RULE IV: Be sure of your target and be aware of what is behind it.


It is your duty to know whether the gun you are holding is loaded. I have a lot of friends with guns, some never have their guns loaded, some always do. But whenever I pick up or are handed a firearm, I check it. POINTING IN A SAFE DIRECTION. Check the safety, check the magazine, check the chamber. REMEMBER TO CHECK THE CHAMBER.

The saying (which I believe is from the Marine Corps) is that there are no firearms accidents. Only negligent discharges.

Another way to say that is anything that happens with your gun is always your fault. ALWAYS.

Also keep in mind should you ever shoot someone you did not intend to, it will very likely be a family member or friend. So be even more careful than you think is necessary.

Another tip- if you think the person holding a gun is an idiot or drunk or any other reason you wouldn't want to trust your life to them, you should probably get the hell away.

Never let breaches of gun safety go. Always let people know when they are in error.
They might be ignorant or forgetful or stupid. That does not relieve your responsibility to yourself and others. This goes the same whether they are new to firearms and learning about
them, or an experienced shooter or a combat veteran. Keep in mind the next time they do something dangerous, it could be your ass.

OK, that is all I have for now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Day in History - October 25

1415- The Battle of Agincourt

During the Hundred Years' War, Henry the Fifth had led a force of 11,000 men into France to enforce English claims to territory in the North of France. Henry had just successfully completed a siege at the town of Harfleur in Normandy. But Henry had lost about half of his force to disease and wounds in the siege of Harfleur and he was hoping to reach the port of Calais and retreat to England for the winter.

However, the French massed an army 20,000 strong and cut off the English at Agincourt.The English Army had marched 250 miles in seventeen days and many of the soldiers were suffering from dysentery. The English soldiers were almost all common foot soldiers, with fewer than 1,000 of them being heavily armored knights. The French forces had many more mounted knights than the English. The French knight was the main battle tank of the day, fast, nearly invulnerable, and able to mete out an amazing amount of pain and damage. They represented an enormous outpouring of wealth and effort. The Feudal system of the day taught many children of the upper classes absolutely nothing but how to fight. No other skill was valued as highly. The horses, weapons, and especially armor of the cavalier were immensely expensive. The complicated and advanced plate armor was custom made by artisans of the highest skill and was designed to protect the wearer from all weapons.

The French attacked in the late morning and they were slowed by boggy and wet ground. King Henry had made himself very visible from the start of the battle, surrounding himself with banners and enticing the French knights to advance up the hill, into the range of his archers. The rules of war at the time usually had captured knights ransomed, often for very large sums of money. This even was the case with Kings and as a result, everyone was eager to capture someone important and become rich. The French were in three rows (or battles) and the highest ranking Noblemen were in the first row. They felt that their bravery and skill would sweep the common soldiers of England off the field.The English longbow had a range much greater than that of the French archers and was outfitted with a pyramidal arrowhead designed to punch through the heaviest armor. The field was close to 1,000 yards long and bordered by woods on both sides, giving an advantage to Henry's smaller and lighter force.

French men at arms and knights, over eager to gain glory and fame on the battlefield, pressed forward into range of the longbows. As the cavalry made their way towards the English lines, they were met with withering fire from the English longbowmen. The armor of the cavaliers, so expensive and beautiful, failed to protect them from the yard long arrows of the English from more than 300 yards away.The French cavalry was suddenly stuck far out in front of their own lines. They had the forest blocking them in on the flanks, and the English had set a line of sharpened stakes in front of their position. As more and more soldiers fell to the rain of arrows, the mobility of the cavalry was further compromised by corpses and wounded horses. At this point Henry ordered his lightly armed men at arms and archers to charge and the trapped Frenchmen were massacred.

Nearly 6,000 Frenchmen were killed during the Battle of Agincourt, many of them from noble families. It marked an end to the era of heavy cavalry as the most important arm of an army. The French nobility was severely weakened as well, and in many respects never recovered. English deaths amounted to just over 400, making it one of the most one sided battles of the era. Outnumbered three to one, Henry V had won one of the greatest victories of English military history. Five years later, Henry was made the Dauphin and Regent of France after winning several more victories. Henry the Fifth died only two years later from "camp fever" near Paris. He would have likely continued his conquest of France and would have greatly changed the face of history had he lived even ten more years.

1854- The Charge of the Light Brigade

October 25 is both a good day and sad day for the British though, as it also marks one of the saddest events in British military history. During the Crimean War, Lord James Cardigan received an order to attack with his Light Brigade cavalry against Russian artillery positions.
The British Army had been winning the Battle of Balaclava (which is where we get a fancy name for a ski mask today) when Cardigan received his order to attack. The Russian artillery turned out to be very heavily defended and there was no clear avenue of attack.
His cavalry bravely charged down into the valley and were destroyed by the massed fire of heavy Russian guns on three sides, suffering over 40 percent casualties.

Later it was discovered that the order was a mistake and the result of the "fog of war". Lord Cardigan, who survived the battle, is hailed as a national hero in Britain. The Charge of the Light Brigade, as it came to be known, was a prime example of old tactics and strategies being thoroughly discredited by modern weapons. By 1854, small arms and artillery were many times more effective than they had been 50 or 100 years before, but tactics were largely unchanged. This lead to the deaths of thousands of soldiers in the Crimean War and can also be clearly seen in the American Civil War and WWI. "Hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle" is a common term to describe this "plan" of attack. While there do arise cases where a frontal attack is necessary and the only choice, it rarely is a good idea. Casualties will always be high, many times unacceptably so. Success is far from guaranteed.

The Charge of the Light Brigade is probably most famous for being the subject of a poem by Lord Tennyson that some get to read in high school.

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.

I suppose it is a nice poem, if you like such things, but I doubt if anyone who was there to see the 278 wounded and dying men and 335 dead or dying horses would put it in such nice terms.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Day in History- October 22

Cuban Missile Crisis

On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy announced that Soviet Nuclear Missiles had been discovered in Cuba. These were medium range missile capable of hitting most of the cities on the Eastern seaboard, including Washington. Kennedy stated that he was ordering a naval "quarantine" of Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from transporting any more offensive weapons to the island and explained that the United States would not tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place. Kennedy made it clear that America would not stop short of military action to end what he called a "clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace."

The Cuban Missile Crisis actually began on October 15, 1962--the day that U.S. intelligence personnel analyzing U-2 spy plane data discovered that the Soviets were building medium-range missile sites in Cuba. The next day, President Kennedy secretly convened an emergency meeting of his senior military, political, and diplomatic advisers to discuss the ominous development. The group became known as ExCom, short for Executive Committee. After rejecting a surgical air strike against the missile sites, ExCom decided on a naval quarantine and a demand that the bases be dismantled and missiles removed. At the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. military forces went to DEFCON 2, the highest military alert ever reached in the postwar era, as military commanders prepared for full-scale war with the Soviet Union.

The next day, however, Khrushchev upped the ante by publicly calling for the dismantling of U.S. missile bases in Turkey under pressure from Soviet military commanders. Later that day, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba, and its pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson, was killed. Waffling, Kennedy forbid a military retaliation unless any more surveillance planes were fired upon over Cuba. Kennedy's advisers convinces him to agree to dismantle the U.S. missile sites in Turkey but at a later date, in order to prevent the protest of Turkey, a key NATO member.

On October 28, Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle and remove all offensive Soviet weapons in Cuba. With the airing of the public message on Radio Moscow, the USSR confirmed its willingness to proceed with the solution secretly proposed by the Americans the day before. The world stepped back from the brink of nuclear war and what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis was over. By the end of 1962 all the Nuclear missiles had been removed. Soon after, the United States quietly removed its missiles from Turkey.

The removal of obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey had no detrimental effect on U.S. nuclear strategy, but the Cuban Missile Crisis convinced a humiliated USSR to commence a massive nuclear buildup. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union reached nuclear parity with the United States and built intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking any city in the United States. However, later review of Soviet technology leads many to believe that the design and manufacturing flaws in Soviet ICBM would result in many being unable to launch, and most unable to hit within 50 miles of their targets.

GAU-19/A .50BMG

Well, it is Gatling gun week here at Homemade Defense, and the next on our list is the GAU-19/A. The GAU-19/A is a tri-barrel Gatling type weapon chambered in the steel-shredding .50BMG cartridge. Designed by GE in an attempt to boost the power of helicopter gunships, it is reportedly in service in the USA, Colombia, Mexico, and Oman.

It was designed to be mostly on helicopters, although a Humvee mounting kit is also exists.
It was origninally designed with a 6 barrel setup, and a linkless feed, but can be fed from a standard M9 linked belt if a delinker feeder is used. The rate of fire is selectable to be either 1,000 or 2,000 rounds per minute. The Humvee kit version fires at 1,300 rounds per minute. The average recoil force when firing is 500 lbs, so the staff here at Homemade Defense do not suggest any attempts at firing it offhand, unless you let me take a video for youtube.

I have not actually seen any photos or reports of the GAU-19 mounted on US military vehicles deployed to a war zone, but that does not mean it isn't there. There was talk that it would be mounted underneath the fuselage of the V-22 Osprey, but that plan has apparently been shelved for now. A shame.

The GAU-19/A is an unbelievably powerful weapon, and its greatest weakness is probably that it is difficult to carry enough ammunition to stay in the fight long. The very high rate of fire, combined with the immense power or the .50 caliber and the accuracy of Gatling weapons makes this something you do not want to see coming. I guess you don't want to not see it coming either, but at least you might take comfort in dying with clean drawers.

Military Technology- Atomic Cannon

Here we go. The M65 "Atomic Annie"

The Department of Defense decided that they wanted an atomic capable artillery piece in 1949 and chose a engineer named Robert Schwartz to design it. The Atomic Annie was created by Picatinny Arsenal and was designed by essentially scaling up the largest cannon in the arsenal, the 240mm, and using the German K5 Railroad gun as a basis for its carriage.
First fielded in 1953, eventually 20 of these monsters were manufactured and they were deployed to bases in Germany and Korea to threaten the commie hordes. The gun sites were reportedly moved often to avoid being targeted by enemy forces.

The M65 was rendered obsolete fairly quickly as the DoD soon created nuclear artillery shells that were compatible with standard 155mm and 203mm cannon, and later the invention of heavier rockets, and eventually the ICBM. But since it was so sweet and military planning in that era was very conservative and fully expecting Ivan to sweep into Western Europe with thousands of tanks it remained in service until 1963.

The M65 was transported by two specially designed 375 horsepower tractors, with independent steering like some very long fire engines. The result did not look very graceful, but it could get up to 35mph and make turns on a 28 foot wide road. The Atomic Annie could be unlimbered in 15 minutes and then returned to traveling configuration in 15 minutes more. The name "Atomic Annie" is said to be related to "Anzio Annie" the name of a K5 gun that was used against the US Army landings in Anzio, Italy during WWII.

On May 25, 1953 at 8:30am local time, the Atomic Cannon was tested at the Frenchman Flat of the Nevada Test Site as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests. The test--codenamed Grable-- resulted in the successful detonation of a 15 kt shell (warhead W9) at a range of 7 miles. This was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rare Weapons- XM-214 Microgun 5.56 NATO

General Electric developed the XM-214 Microgun in the late 1970's in an attempt to make the lightest practical high volume of fire machinegun. . It was based on the successful GE 7.62 NATO M134 Minigun The XM-214 was primarily intended from to be mounted onboard a light helicopter. However, plans to use it on Jeeps and APCs as an anti-ambush weapon and even on infantry tripods for possible use as base defense weapon.

The XM-214 was put together into something called the "6-pak" system, a self-contained weapon that consisted of the gun, firing motor, rechargeable battery good for some 3,000 rounds of continuous fire, electronic control box and special ammunition containers that held 1,000 rounds in two belts. The total weight of the "6-pak" system with 1,000 rounds was 85 pounds, which makes it technically man portable (by a team of 2 or 3, hopefully) .

The XM214 Microgun is an externally operated weapon which uses electrical motor drive to operate its action. The gun operates on Gatling principle, that is it employs a rotary cluster of six barrels, each with its own bolt group. Bolts are moved back and forth behind each barrel as their operating roller passes an internal curved track machined inside the receiver cover. Typically, the topmost barrel in the cluster has its bolt fully open and the bottom barrel in cluster has its bolt fully closed during the firing cycle.

It turned out that the 5.56 cartridge did not have the range or power to be an effective heli-borne weapon or as an anti aircraft gun. Additionally, the rather primitive battery by today's standards hurt the weapon as batteries have tendency to fail or run out most inopportune times.The system was found to be unsuitable for infantry use as the battery unit was very environmentally sensitive as well as lacking sufficient battery life.As a mounted infantry weapon the Brass decided that it had an excessive rate of fire for most infantry applications and if you let a 18 year old use this thing he would likely go through about 1000 rounds opening a C ration can.

Since the gun operates on external power, it is immune to misfired rounds, which are ejected during the normal cycle of operation. The XM-214 is fed through the now standard flexible chute and disintegrating metal links. It was normally fed with two 500-rounds containers, connected to feed switch which automatically switches over to full container once another one is empty; this was to allows for continuous fire, as the empty container would be switched out by the assistant gunner while the Microgun still feeds and fires from another ammo box.

The XM-214 was not adopted in any real numbers by the US Department of Defense and GE removed the weapon from its offerings in 1997. Now for what you have all been wondering: Yes, it is possible that you might be able to pick the weapon up and Jesse Ventura-style fire it.However, the recoil impulse is said to be around 99 lbs on average, with peak recoil being over 220 lbs, so you might look cool but would likely be incontinent later in life from all the shaking this thing would do to you.

I think that this weapon should be resurrected though, mounted on the back of a Stryker or other armored vehicle and with a battery that could be counted on, it would make a extremely effective rear defense weapon. Since it would be normally used against infantry, the somewhat anemic 5.56mm might be a good compromise in weight versus power, enabling the vehicle to carry 2 to 3 times the number of 7.62 rounds.

History's Greatest Fortifications- Cheyenne Mountain

First envisioned by General Earl Partridge in 1956, Cheyenne Mountain is the greatest Cold War- era military fortification in the world. In a lot of ways, it is the greatest fortification ever built.

Cheyenne Mountain houses the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center and Cheyenne Mountain Directorate. Their function is to collect real time data from a worldwide system of satellites, radar, and other types of sensors . Operations are conducted year-round in the Air Warning Center, Missile Correlation Center, Operational Intelligence Watch, Systems Center, Weather Center, and the Command Center. Cheyenne Mountain is unique in several ways. It is housed 2,000 feet into a mountain, and is also a joint and binational military organization comprising over 200 men and women from the United States Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Coast Guard and The Canadian Army and Air Forces.

The site was chosen for several reasons: it had a low risk of earthquakes, it was centrally located, also nearby there was a major interstate, Fort Carson, and the Air Force Academy. Excavation for the facility began in May 1961, and was completed in May 1964. The NORAD Combat Operations Center became operational on February 6, 1966, and operations were transferred from Ent Air Force Base on April 20, 1966.

Today, Cheyenne Mountain is also home to elements of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the U.S. Strategic Command, the U.S. Air Force Space Command, and the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). The hardened Combat Operations Center (COC) was originally intended to provide a 70% probability of continuing to function if a five megaton nuclear blast detonated within three miles away, but upgraded was ultimately built to withstand a blast within 1.5 nautical miles. It was also designed to be self-sufficient for brief periods, have backup communications and television intercom with related commands, house personnel during an emergency, and protect staff against fallout and biological and chemical warfare.

The facility was originally intended to be an operations center to provide command and control in support of the air defense mission against the nuclear armed bombers from the USSR. Cheyenne Mountain took on new duties as the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) became the main form of nuclear weapon delivery in the late 1960s. NORAD developed warning and assessment systems that kept watch over the Soviet air bases and missile fields and could detect a launch and notify the Pentagon and the President within minutes.

The Cheyenne Mountain Upgrade was instituted in 1989 to integrate new technologies to the complex. The CMU contained several major subsystems: Granite Sentry, the Communications System Segment Replacement, the Survivable Communications Integration System , the Space Defense Operations Center 4, and the Command and Control Processing and Display System Replacement. The Air Force also maintained the Alternate Missile Warning Center at Offut AFB to serve as a independent, fully functional backup program.

The Operations Center provided theater ballistic missile warnings during The Persian Gulf War, when Defense Support Program satellites looked for the heat from missile and booster plumes and provided warning to civilians and troops in Israel and Saudi Arabia.


The Operations Center of Cheyenne Mountain is along one side of the main tunnel bored nine tenths of a mile through the mountain. The center was designed to withstand up to a 30 megaton blast within 1-nautical-mile. It is sealed by 25 ton blast doors and the tunnel was designed to deflect the massive blast wave past the Operations Center. Behind the doors, the main complex is a 4.5 acre grid of chambers and tunnels. The main excavation consists of three chambers 45 feet wide, 60 feet high, and 588 feet long, intersected by four chambers 32 feet wide, 56 feet high and 335 feet long. Fifteen freestanding buildings up to three stories tall make up the main excavation. The buildings do not have any contact with the 2000 foot thick granite walls. The buildings have an outer shell of low carbon steel and along with the metal tunnels that connect them, serve to dampen the effects of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

There are blast valves to mitigate the effects of an attack installed on the air intakes and exhaust as well as water, fuel, and sewer lines. Sensors at the North and South Portal entrances will detect overpressure waves from a nuclear explosion, causing the valves to close and protect the complex. The buildings in the complex are mounted on 1,319 steel springs, each weighing 1,000 pounds. The springs allow each building to move 12 inches in any one direction and reduce damage from nuclear blast effects or earthquakes.

To protect against nuclear fallout and chemical and biological weapons, incoming air can be filtered through a system of filters. Fresh air intakes are mainly from the south portal access which is 17.5 feet high and 15 feet wide.

Cheyenne Mountain was intended to be self-sufficient and there are four excavated reservoirs with a capacity of 1.5 million US gallons of water deep in the complex for the base water supply. Three serve as industrial reservoirs and the remaining one is the complex’s primary domestic water source. They are so large that workers sometimes cross them in rowboats. More than 40,000 gallons are in the reservoirs at any given time. While primary electrical power comes from Colorado Springs in daily operations, there are six 1750 kilowatt generators for a backup. There is also a large dining facility, a medical facility with dental office, pharmacy, To complete the support functions, there are also two physical fitness centers a small base PX.

In 2006, NORAD chose to move the bulk of Cheyenne Mountain's operations to nearby Peterson AFB in order to reduce duplication of function between the two sites. NORAD has since renamed the facility as the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate, and placed the operations center on “warm stand-by,” meaning that the facility will be maintained and ready for use on short notice as necessary, but not used on a daily basis.

Weird Guns (part 4) Neostead Dual tube shotgun

Here is another strange one that you might not have ever seen.
It is the Neostead 12 gauge shotgun from South Africa. It is unique due to its dual top mounted magazine tubes. It been available since 2001 and is manufactured by Truvelo Armory.

The Neostead pump action shotgun with fixed breech face and movable barrel. The Neostead was designed with a forward then back-style pump action like on the Russian RMB-93. It has a bullpup style layout which results in a shorter overall weapon with a longer barrel. The frame is made from high impact polymer and features a top carrying handle with sights built in. The Neostead has a safety selector inside the trigger guard, directly in front of the trigger. The dual, selective magazine gives the Neostead a 12 round capacity and tactical flexibility. You could have one tube loaded with less lethal rounds and the other with buckshot for example. Mounted on the rear of the magazines there is a magazine selector which can be set to enable the feeding from one or another magazine, or from both, alternately. The magazine tubes are loaded and then slid into the frame of the weapon as you can see below.

Lets say that the gun has just been fired and the breech has an empty case in it. The operator would then pump forward and then backward. This causes the barrel to move forward, and the empty case will be held against the breech face by the extractor, then ejected down through an opening in the frame. When the pump slide is pulled forward, the new cartridge is released from the magazine tube above the barrel, and then a feed ramp lowers it so that it is aligned with the barrel and the breech face simultaneously. When the pump is returned to the starting position, it takes the barrel back, so the barrel will enclose the cartridge and be in battery with the fixed breech face. The weapon can now be fired.

The Neostead has so far failed to set the world on fire and I am not aware of any police or military that has adopted it. It is a good idea although I would think there could be many opportunities for problems with the dual tubes. It would be very easier under stress to forget you had one type of load in the chamber or which tube was which and think you were firing a beanbag and fire a 1 ounce slug instead.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Holley Museum of Military History

On my recent trip across the country I had the fortune to stay in the Ramada Inn in downtown Topeka Kansas. In addition to being a nice hotel, letting us keep three smelly dogs in the room and having hotties in the pool despite the lateness of the year, they had a military history museum in the building.

The Holley Museum of Military History was not large by any means and it did not have any large scale artifacts like planes or tanks but still had a lot of interesting things. It had a great deal of models of planes and ships, along with propaganda posters and paintings of famous weapons, personalities, and battles.

Rare WWI British 35th Division helmet

I believe them.

US Marine Corps Navajo Code Talkers

Signpost from US Army base

I was a little surprised at this, they had an entire display case of Bob Dole's militaria from WWII, including uniforms, medals and his dog tags.

Model of the USS Abraham Lincoln

Guns I Wish I Had - Part 4 - Steyr Scout 7.62 NATO

The Steyr Scout is unconventional-looking like most other Steyr weapons. And like them, it owes many of its strengths to the that type of "outside the box" thinking. Based on Jeff Cooper's Scout Rifle concept, it is intended to be a medium weight weapon able to take on several different types of tasks.

The Scout is a bolt action rifle, most often chambered in 7.62x51 NATO (.308 Winchester) although it is also available in the .243 Winchester, 5.56NATO, 7mm-08 and .376 Steyr. It is fed from a detachable box magazine with a capacity of five rounds, although a kit exists to boost that to ten. It features a heavy 20 inch barrel for accuracy and flutes cut into the barrel to make it as light as possible. It is known for having a fairly stiff bolt action. Steyr made the stock out of durable polymers to make the weapon light, strong, and impervious to the elements. The Scout also has an integral folding bipod. The Scout features an user-adjustable trigger that is factory set to 3.5lbs.

The Scout also has Picatinny mounts for optics forward of the action. This type of long eye relief, far forward mounting of a scope is known as "scout" mounting and is usually used with a low power scope that can be used for many applications. The rifle also has flip up ghost ring sights and a slot in the buttstock for an extra magazine. The Scout is also a very safe weapon featuring a Roller tang safety and bolt handle that locks into the receiver when in "locked safe" mode.

Note the heavy fluted barrel and integral bipod

The extra magazine slot in the stock

In recent years Steyr has released an updated version called the Steyr Elite that features an
extended STANAG optics rail, an adjustable cheek rest, and an enlarged bolt knob. Most impressively, the Elite has a heavy 22.4" barrel with a "fast" rifling that allows it to achieve a higher velocity and increased effective range.

Medal of Honor- Pvt Rodger W. Young, US Army

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division.

Place and date: On New Georgia, Solomon Islands, 31 July 1943.

Entered service at: Clyde, Ohio. Birth: Tiffin, Ohio. G.O. No.: 3, 6 January 1944.

Citation: On 31 July 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.

What is not said in the citation is that Rodger Young had joined the National Guard because his hearing and sight difficulties were so great that he thought he would not be accepted into the Regular Army. He attained the rank of Sergeant and then, when his unit was called up for service in WWII, he felt that his sight and hearing would make him a liability as the sergeant and requested rank be reduced to that of a private.

Science fiction author Robert Heinlein pays tribute to Pvt. Young in his novel Starship Troopers, a ship bears the name of Rodger Young in honor of Pvt. Young.

Armored Vehicles: Nagmachon

The What?
Well, this:

The Nagmachon is an Israel Defence Forces Armored Personnel Carrier. It evloved from earlier NagmaSho't APCs and both are Sho't Kal tank hulls with no turrets, modified to be infantry carriers and specialist vehicles. Manufactured by Israel Military Industries, the Nagmachon was conceived from the beginning as a Counter Insurgency (COIN) vehicle. Nagmachon is an acronym for Nagmash (APC) and gashon (belly).

Th Nagmachon carries 10 infantrymen and has a crew of 3. In line with most other Israeli military design philosophy, it is extremely heavy at nearly 50 tons (almost twice as much as a WWII tank) and sacrifices mobility for protection. This works fine for the IDF, which operates in a small area, but would make the vehicle quite unsuited for expeditionary or maneuver warfare practiced by the United States military. It has extremely heavy armor on the belly to protect it from anti-tank mines and IEDs. Hence the name. Its sides are fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) to counter rocket propelled grenades. The Nagmachon is equipped with four IS-10 grenade launchers. These contain ten smoke grenades each. Early versions fitted three armor panels with vision blocks of bullet resistant glass were attached to the superstructure's roof. Between the panels, two pintle-mounted 7.62 FN MAG (the M240 in U.S. service) machine guns were placed to enable the crew to engage infantry and soft skinned vehicles.

Early version with open shields

As a multi role vehicle, the Nagmachon is sometimes equipped with different engineering devices on its glacis (area of front sloped armor). In conjunction with its specially reinforced belly, this can make it an excellent engineering and anti-mine vehicle. Systems such as the Nochri and Magov anti-mine systems give the Nagmachon the ability to breach mine fields to allow the advance of other vehicles.

Later models were modified with a very notable pillbox on top of the fixed superstructure, providing all round small arms protection.

NagmaSho't and early Namachon

The Nagmachon has been used extensively not only in the Second Intifada, but also in the occupation of Lebanon in the 1980's and the 2006 Lebanon War. It is used as an engineering vehicle to clear lanes for other APCs and vehicles, although it is used primarily as a infantry carrier. Nagmachons are often used to escort the Armored Caterpillar bulldozers on their missions to clear road blocks (and destroy homes). While their protection against small arms fire and older RPGs is good, lack of mobility and light armament hurt the vehicle in many possible scenarios. I would also suspect the elevated superstructure may be extremely vulnerable to the top down attacks of guided antitank weaponry like the IDF encountered in Lebanon in 2006.