Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pimp My Gun

I heard about a fun little website the other day by the name of Pimp My Gun. It is a little image editor that lets you create your own little killing creations. You could of course make something ridiculous, but I have had fun making weapons that are at least somewhat plausible.

Check it out.

CTAR-21 with quick detach suppressor, Eotech holo sight and foregrip. Yes please.

AR-15 w/ Trijicon Ta31RCO. This is how I would set up an AR, were I not poor.

You can't tell me that this isn't bad ass, I would load the 203 with the M576 anti-personnel round, loaded with 20 pellets of #4 buckshot. That will really clear a room.

Can't go wrong with a little modified Mossberg 500

Is it the stupidest pistol ever? Maybe. But you know you want one.

HK UMP and Mp5 10 mm w/ suppressors and entry shotguns, my idea of the perfect CQB gun


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Photos from Afghanistan

Today I decided to just post some photos of the War in Afghanistan. Sometimes the images can be a lot more informative than the best and most informed writer (which I am neither). So take a look and make your own conclusions today.

Medal of Honor - SGT Robert E. O'Malley, USMC


Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Cpl.), U .S. Marine Corps, Company 1, 3d Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division (Rein).

Place and date: Near An Cu'ong 2, South Vietnam, 18 August 1965.

Entered service at: New York, NY

Born: 3 June 1943, New York, NY

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the communist (Viet Cong) forces at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading his squad in the assault against a strongly entrenched enemy force, his unit came under intense small-arms fire. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Sgt. O'Malley raced across an open rice paddy to a trench line where the enemy forces were located. Jumping into the trench, he attacked the Viet Cong with his rifle and grenades, and singly killed 8 of the enemy. He then led his squad to the assistance of an adjacent marine unit which was suffering heavy casualties. Continuing to press forward, he reloaded his weapon and fired with telling effect into the enemy emplacement. He personally assisted in the evacuation of several wounded marines, and again regrouping the remnants of his squad, he returned to the point of the heaviest fighting. Ordered to an evacuation point by an officer, Sgt. O'Malley gathered his besieged and badly wounded squad, and boldly led them under fire to a helicopter for withdrawal. Although 3 times wounded in this encounter, and facing imminent death from a fanatic and determined enemy, he steadfastly refused evacuation and continued to cover his squad's boarding of the helicopters while, from an exposed position, he delivered fire against the enemy until his wounded men were evacuated. Only then, with his last mission accomplished, did he permit himself to be removed from the battlefield. By his valor, leadership, and courageous efforts in behalf of his comrades, he served as an inspiration to all who observed him, and reflected the highest credit upon the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

The Vietnam War

I found some statistics on the Vietnam War a few days ago and thought I would share them with all of you. The information comes from the Veterans Administration.

Source: U.S. Government (VA Web Site Stats)

Vietnam Vets: 9.7% of their generation

9,087,000 Military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era. Aug. 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975.

8,744,000 GIs Were on active duty during the war. Aug. 5, 1964 - March 28, 1973

3,403,100 (Including 514,300 Offshore) Personnel served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Flight Crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea Waters.)

2,594,000 Personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam. Jan. 1, 1965 - Mar. 28, 1973

Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.

Of the 2.6 million, between 1 - 1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.

7,484 Women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam.

Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1969)

Hostile deaths: 47,378

Non-hostile deaths: 10,800

Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez Casualties.) Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total.

8 Nurses died - 1 was KIA

Married men killed: 17,539

61% of the men killed were 21 or younger..

Highest state death rate: West Virginia - 84.1 (National Average 58.9 for every 100,000 males in 1970.

Wounded: 303,704 --- 153,329 Hospitalized + 150,375 Injured requiring no hospital care

Severely disabled: 75,000-----23,214 100% Disabled; 5,283 Lost limb; 1,081 Sustained multiple amputations.

Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WW II and 70% higher than Korea. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WW II.

Missing in action: 2,338.

POWs: 766 (114 Died in captivity.)

25% (648,500) Of total forces in country were draftees.

Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.

Reservist killed: 5,977

National Guard: 6,140 Served; 101 Died

Total draftees (1965-73): 1,728,344.

Actually served in Vietnam 38%.

Marine Corps Draft: 42,633

Last man drafted June 30, 1973.

76% Of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds

Three fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds..

Some 23% Of Vietnam Vets had fathers with professional, managerial, or technical occupations.

79% Of the men who served Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service. (63% Of Korean War Vets and only 45% of WW II Vets had completed high school upon separation).

Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South-31;
West-29.9; Midwest-28.4; Northeast-23.5.

88.4% Of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were Black; 1% belonged to other races.

86.3% Of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (Includes Hispanics); 12.5% (7,241) Were Black; 1.2% Belonged to other races.

170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% Of total) died there.

70% Of enlisted men killed were of Northwest European Descent.

86.8% Of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were Black; 1.1% belonged to other races.

14.6% (1,530) Of Non-Combat deaths were among Blacks.

34% Of Blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.

Overall , Blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of Blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

Religion of dead; Protestant -- 64.4%; Catholic -- 28.9%; Other/None 6.7%

82% Of Veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will.

Nearly 75% Of the public agrees it was a failure of political will not of arms.

97% Of Vietnam Era Veterans were honorably discharged.

91% Of actual Vietnam War Veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country.

66% Of Vietnam Vets say they would serve again if called upon.

87% Of the public now holds Vietnam Veterans in high esteem.

All told, some fairly surprising information. I believe that it dispels a great deal of what we have been told about the Vietnam War. One of the most interesting myths that it shatters is the Civil Rights-era idea that the government sent black soldiers to the front line specifically to get black men killed and save the lives of whites. As you can see, the numbers simply do not bear out this theory. In fact, it quite clearly shows that the opposite was true. The numbers prove that African Americans served in Vietnam, served in combat and were killed in action at much lower rates than Caucasians and served in smaller numbers than their proportion of the population. This is not meant to cast any disparagement on anyone who did serve, but merely to disprove a vicious and divisive lie that has pretty much been accepted as the truth for the last 40 years. and Anyways, food for thought.

For those of you who wish to know more, visit the site that I got the info from:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Military Technology: Gunshot Detectors

Here is the thing. Very few people enjoy being shot at. Sniper fire, especially, is said to be one of the most morale destroying things that soldiers can face. To make it even less fun, it can be very difficult to tell where gunshots are coming from. Difficulty goes up exponentially if the person firing the gun takes any kind of care to avoid detection. Laying down, using camouflage or concealment, firing only one shot from a location, or using a suppressor can make the task of locating a gunman very difficult to impossible. Enter the gunshot detector. They have been in use in the wonderful streets of nice communities like West Baltimore, South Chicago, East Orange, NJ and other third world communities within America for a few years. In combat, they have been mounted on vehicles such as Humvees, MRAPs, and Strykers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have received pretty good reviews from the troops that have used them.

Boomerang System mounted on a Humvee

The first really effective gunshot detector to be used by US Forces in combat was the Boomerang, manufactured by BBN Technologies. The Boomerang gunshot detection system is a device that looks like a flower arrangement of microphones mounted on a pole. Which is what it is, really. The system uses seven linked microphones and a computer to detect and measure both the muzzle report of the weapon and the supersonic shock wave of a bullet flying through the air. As such, the Boomerang cannot reliably detect subsonic bullets, but it can ignore things that sound like a gunshot, like fireworks or even squib guns designed to imitate the sound of firearms. Each microphone detects the sound a few microseconds apart. The system then uses algorithms to determine a flight path for the bullet and extrapolate from that the origin of the shot. It takes less than one second. The system has a voice identification of the shot, giving the direction, range and distance above ground. The Boomerang also has a visual display that is like a clock surrounded by LED lights. When a shot is detected, the system will state, "Shot, 9 o'clock" and the display lights up the LED at the 9 o'clock position. The computer then visually and vocally states the range, elevation and azimuth to the target. The Boomerang system is powered by the vehicle it is attached to, and can be used while static or driving at speeds up to 50 MPH. False shot declarations are stated to be less than one per thousand hours of operation. The Boomerang system won the 2005 DARPA award for Significant Technical Achievement and the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX) "Technology Influencer of the Year Award."

Boomerang Sensor Module

By late 2003, it was clear that their was a growing insurgency in Iraq and that the US forces were in danger from asymmetric warfare. In the urban warfare encountered there, many troops could not tell they were being fired on until the rounds started hitting the vehicles and personnel. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield tasked DARPA to provide a near term solution. The Boomerang program was developed out of a US DoD program. The Army and SOCOM had tested some PILAR gunshot detectors from France in early 2003, but their cost, at more than $65,000 per unit, were far too high for them to be issued in any large numbers. DARPA managers looked at the available technology and selected BBN Technologies based on their previously developed counter sniper system named "Bullet Ears" from 1997.

A new set of requirements was out together, including:
  • Shooter localization to plus or minus 15 degree accuracy, and within one second of the shot
  • Reliability for shot miss distances of one to 30 meters
  • Ability to detect and localize fire from AK-47s and other small arms at ranges from 50 to 150 meters
  • Reliable performance in urban environments with low buildings
  • Operable when mounted on a vehicle moving up to 60 miles per hour on either rough terrain or highways
  • Ability to withstand sand, pebbles, rain, and light foliage impacts
  • Ability to deliver alert information in both a voice announcement and on an LED display
  • Microphone array and electronics box must be replaceable in the field

The first prototype was developed in 65 days. Field tests in combat led to the improvement of the system into the Boomerang II and III. In 2008, the DoD completed a $73.8 million firm fixed price contract was awarded by the U.S. Army to BBN for 8,131 Boomerang Systems, spares and training services.

Since the Boomerang in particular and the whole idea of gunshot detectors was going pretty well, the Department of Defense has continued to fund and research the technology with the hopes of integrating it into the soldier of the future concepts that they have been working on since the 1980s.

The Soldier-Wearable Acoustic Targeting System (SWATS) can reportedly function as well as its larger, vehicle and building mounted systems.

Produced by QinetiQ, the SWATS is a part of the Ears Gunshot Localization System family. It weighs only 6.4-ounces and is worn on the shoulder of the soldier or Marine. It works in a 360-degree radius, isn't confused by ambient noise and can be used in a moving vehicle. The success of the system has prompted the US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force to place a $9.9 million order for the soldier-wearable model. The deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to be complete by 2012.

Gunshot detectors are not completely foolproof though, and knowing the direction that the shot(s) came from will not always lead to the enemy being killed or captured. In an ambush the nice computerized female British voice telling you that you are being shot at from multiple areas probably is not particularly helpful either. But the Boomerang and other systems like it are filling a gap that has never been filled and any warning is better than none.

Of course, whether or not the system is truly effective depends on more than if it simply does what it is supposed to. It also needs to be robust enough to continue to function in the dirty and austere battlefield conditions, it needs to be cheap enough to be fielded the right number of troops. But gunshot detectors are another technology that might very well change the way wars are fought over the next 10-25 years as technology matures and use is expanded and modified.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

AC-119 Gunship

I'm sure many of you know about the AC-130 Spectre gunship, a ground attack plane developed from the C-130 transport. And the sharp tacks out there probably know the AC-47 Spooky, which was really the first fixed wing gunship and pioneered the tactics used even today. Today's topic is a plane that gets a lot less attention, but is still pretty neat.

This is the AC-119 Shadow.
Like the AC-47 before it, the Shadow was developed from an earlier, somewhat outdated transport aircraft. There were large numbers of C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft in the hands of the Air Force Reserve and that meant that there would be little or no retraining necessary for pilots, as well as large numbers of spare parts in inventory. The AC-47 Spooky gunships were not as effective as had been hoped and the C-119 was thought to be a good platform for expansion and refinement of the gunship concept and technology. With better flight characteristics and an increased payload, the Shadow was able to stay airborne longer, increasing the range and time on station. They also were able to carry more munitions, increasing their effectiveness. Very few AC-119s were ever made (52), and they only served for about 3 years before being retired by the USAF in 1971.

Introduced in November of 1968, the first 26 AC-119Gs were armed with four SUU-IIA/IA gun pods, with the GAU- 2/A miniguns firing the 7.62mm NATO at more than 12,000 rounds per minute. The Shadow usually carried 1500 rounds per weapon on missions, for a total of 6,000 rounds. That is an amazing amount of firepower to come flying over the hill right when you think your attack on the evil imperialist Yankees is going so well. It also carried the LAU-64/A flare launcher with 60 Mk. 24 flares to fool heat seeking missiles, and had increased armor protection over its forebearer.
Later a new version of the gunship was brought online, known as the AC-119K Stinger. Firepower had been greatly increased by the addition of two M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon, which were capable of much more armor penetration than the somewhat anemic .30 caliber full metal jacket machine gun rounds. The 20mm rounds were capable of destroy almost all ground targets from bunkers to trucks to tanks. The explosives helped too. The AC-119Ks made great strides in the fire control and target acquisition realms by also being equipped with the AN/APN-147 Doppler Navigation radar, AN/AAD-4 Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), AN/APQ-133 side-looking beacon tracking radar and AN/APQ-136 search radar. This enabled a very good chance of locating large enemy concentrations at night, from beyond the range of most ground fire. Targets like truck convoys were particularly vulnerable to this type of attack and the AC-119Ks were used a great deal on the Ho Chi Minh Trail for this purpose.
During their service in the Vietnam War, only five AC-119s were lost to all causes.

Specifications (AC-119G)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6 (day), 8 (night)
  • Length: 86 ft 5¾ in (26.36 m)
  • Wingspan: 109 ft 3¼ in (33.31 m)
  • Height: 26 ft 7¾ in (8.12 m)
  • Wing area: 1,400 ft² (130 m²)
  • Empty weight: 40,125 lb (18,200 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 62,000 lb (28,100 kg)
  • Powerplant:Wright R-3350-85 "Duplex Cyclone" radial engines, 3,500 hp (2,610 kW) each


Both the AC-119 Shadow and the C-119 Flying Boxcar are easily identified by their somewhat rare double tail booms and fins.

C-119 #566 "Green Hornet" on display at the Museum of Aviation, Warner Robins, GA.

Greatest guns of Fiction- Cobra Assualt Cannon-

Once again, here we are. You are bored and I am going on and on about fake guns on the Internet. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this brings us back to 1987's Robocop. (I suppose I would talk about my favorite late 1980s sci-fi movie, They Live, but its guns are real)

Anyway, Robocop is set in a "fictional" Detroit overrun by gangs of violent criminals, corrupt corporations that are stealing every dollar in the country and citizens too stupid and dulled by Reality TV to care.

Midway through the film, the bad guys decided they need military-grade weaponry to destroy Robocop, and where else would they turn but Corporate America? They are provided with the Cobra Assault Cannon, the latest in military hardware. The Cobra prop is based on the Barrett M82A1 .50 BMG rifle. They added some extra parts and a rather interesting squared off scope. I have heard they were going to add scenes with advanced targeting information displayed in the scope, but cut the idea due to budget constraints. In the movie, it is used to destroy storefronts, cars ( 6000 S.U.X., just like yours Clarence!), and even the armored ED-209 combat droid. It appears to fire explosive/armor piercing shells like the long awaited Barrett 25mm rifle. The Cobra Assault Cannon is certainly a plausible fictional weapon as it is shown, indeed, it is almost prescient as it mimics a weapon that was not even in development at the time. The Cobra comes off as believable in the film, especially since the prop was built to resemble a real weapon, although few knew about the Barrett in 1986 when it was filmed.
All in all, it the perfect companion to my M41-A Pulse Rifle.

In Robocop 2, a Pauza P50 was substituted for the Cobra Assault Cannon