Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Fight a War

The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a combat vessel during the War of 1812 carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (fresh water distillers). However, let it be noted that according to her log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum."

Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping."

Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.

Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November, she set sail for England.

In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen, salvaging only the rum aboard each.

By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, and though unarmed, she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.

The U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, with no cannon shot, No powder, No food, NO rum, NO wine, NO whiskey and 38,600 gallons of stagnant water.

Now those guys knew how to fight a war.

Now, for full disclosure, I found the above text on some board and have no proof whatsoever of its veracity. In all likelihood, it is grossly exaggerated or just plain made up.
But it does sound fun.

This Day in History - October 15

On this date in 1917, one of the most famous spies in history was executed.
Mata Hari was the stage name of a Dutch woman named Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She became famous for, well to put it impolitely, kinda being a ho. She was a dancer known for performing "exotic" dances that seemed to consist of her wearing some kind of vaguely eastern costume and taking it off. She had a whole back story that she was born in an Indian temple and was taught sacred dances by the priestesses. However, it was all a pack of lies and what she knew of Indian and Javanese dances she learned while in Malaysia with her husband who was in the Dutch Colonial Army. But nobody knew or cared, because Internet porn was like, 70 years away. She was known as a famous courtesan, which is nice way of saying she was a gold digger. She was widely rumored to be banging( to use the parlance of our times) a bunch of high-ranking military officers both in the French and German armies. So, in 1917, the French authorities arrested her on suspicion of treason and espionage and sent her to the St. Lazare Prison in Paris. During her military trial, she was accused of revealing details of the new weapon, the tank, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. She was convicted and sentenced to death.

For 1917, this was wicked hot

Today, opinions are divided about the truth of the matter. Some say that she was a spy for the Germans and even worked as a double agent for the French, but that the Germans had written her off as pretty much useless. (except all the looking hot and dancing like a ho) Her trial was said to pretty much be a farce and no real evidence was brought against her. It has been suggested that the French High Command played her story up to distract the nation from the appalling losses that they French Army was suffering on the Western Front. No one will ever know the truth, I suspect. But the legacy is that Mata Hari became the archtype of the femme fatale spy, and we would probably not have any James Bond movies without her. In one of those incidents that is more like a movie than real life, she refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to her firing squad before she was shot.

Also in 1860 an eleven-year-old girl named Grace Bedell, wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.


Rare Weapons- 6P62 12.7mm

OK, this ugly mug is the 6P62. It is a Russian anti-materiel rifle that is fully automatic. The rifle is chambered in the 12.7x108mm cartridge, which is pretty similar, but more powerful than the US .50 BMG (12.7x99mm). I think the Russians caught whatever disease the Germans had that made them always build bigger and more ridiculous guns. This thing is a monster. It reportedly weighs close to 40 pounds when loaded with 14 rounds of 12.7mm, and I would guess that the muzzle brake weighs at least 3 pounds. The brake might also function a little like a suppressor, probably making this weapon about as quiet as the average 500 pound bomb. It has a listed range of 1000 meters or more and can reportedly pierce 20mm of steel at 100 meters. Of course a full auto function on a weapon like this is just silly, even if it is firing at the reduced rate of about 400--500 rounds per minute, which is slower than most automatic weapons I can think of.

The 6P62 was never put into full production, likely because someone sobered up. While it could be used in a fashion like the Barrett Light 50 and other big bore anti-materiel rifles, I have my doubts that it can perform as well. It has a fairly short barrel and I can't see that it is fluted to give it strength without undue weight. At the least I imagine the recoil is well, sharp. The gentleman firing it offhand above (why?) likely had some rotator cuff surgery and called it a day. Interestingly, both photos that can be found show it without a telescopic sight, which one would need to fire at anything smaller than a barn at the intended ranges. This might be because its recoil force would tear a scope meant for .30 caliber rifles to hell and back.

One possible use is for the weapon to be used at road blocks and from fortified positions to get the most use of a weapon with long range and the power to punch through light armor and cover, but heavy machine guns and grenade launchers are probably better suited to that role. While the 6P62 will likely never be seen anywhere but the Internet, it may have a descendant in the form of the KPB-12.7 rifle, for which there is even less information than the 6P62. If anybody knows more about either of these weapons, or please god, has video of some unfortunate soul firing one, please let me know. Also, I will use this as my standard long gun when I finally finish that Power Armor I am working on in the basement.
So get ready.

Marines love the Misfits

Nothing much to say about this one, it of course reminds me of all the images of soldiers and Marines from Vietnam with various sayings written on their helmets or flak jackets.
If you don't know the reference, it is from a song by the Misfits, a punk band, if you don't know them get a copy of Walk Among Us. It rocks.