Of course, it ain’t bragging if you can do it.
So, before the start of golf’s Ryder Cup, during putting practice, the Euro team was struggling a bit with a 12’ putt. And one spectator, having voiced his opinion that even he could sink that gimme, was called out. Oh, you think it’s easy, why don’t you try it?
And there’s a $100 riding on this putt.
Our friend AggieSprite mentioned the other day that her latest trip to the thrift store had yielded some silverplate for a future project.
Which, my ears perked up and a memory was triggered.
By the middle of 1943. the scientists and engineers on the Manhattan Project began to have a fair idea what the size and shape of the two types of projected nuclear weapons they were building would be. There were two bomb designs. The first was a plutonium gun type design, known as Thin Man. The second, riskier approach was a plutonium implosion device, known as Fat Man.
With a rough idea of the weights and dimensions of the bombs, they began to consider what airplane should be used to deliver the bombs. The existence of AVRO Lancaster bombers already modified to carry extremely large bombs was a possibility, but range restrictions, and a strong desire to utilize an American design meant the Manhattan Project, in cooperation with the Army Air Forces, settled on using modified B-29 Superfortress bombers as the delivery platform.
But not just any B-29 could drop an atomic weapon. First, no B-29s were equipped with the shackles and release latches needed for extremely large bombs. Second, the Thin Man bomb design was longer than either of the B-29s two bomb bays.
The project to produce and modify a limited number of B-29s for the atomic mission was soon dubbed “Silverplate.”
The Army Air Forces first attempted to design their own shackles and releases, but when that proved problematical, they simply borrowed the existing British designs.
As to the bomb length, the Army Air Force converted the two 12 foot long bomb bays of a standard B-29 to one enormous 33 foot long bomb bay. This was more than enough to carry the projected 17 foot length of the Thin Man bomb.
Soon after modifying the first Silverplate B-29, scientists at Manhattan realized that high spontaneous fission rates would make the plutonium gun type bomb impractical. The bomb design was modified to use Uranium 235. The change in bomb design also meant the bomb would be much shorter, at about 10 feet, meaning the standard B-29 bomb bay length would be sufficient. Accordingly, the first Silverplate had its bomb bays returned to the normal configuration.
Seventeen further Silverplate production aircraft were ordered from the Glenn L. Martin company, with 14 bombers assigned for training to what would eventually become the 509th Composite Group, and three assigned for testing.
These 17 Silverplates, being early production B-29s, suffered the same problems conventional early production B-29s struggled with, including a nasty tendency for the Wright R-3350 engines to burst into flames. By early 1945, a great number of changes to the B-29 had been made on the production line, improving the engines, adding a radar bombing capability, and other myriad improvements. Rather than going through the trouble of modifying the existing Silverplate fleet, another tranche of aircraft were ordered, 28 “next gen” Silverplates were ordered, with 15 of them combat coded for use by the 509th. The remaining 13 were dedicated to the testing program, or held in reserve in Utah as replacements for any losses the 509th might suffer.
A final tranche of 19 Silverplates were ordered just before the atomic missions, and delivered between the end of the war, and 1947. By 1948, the Air Force had an operational fleet of 32 nuclear capable B-29s. They represented the entire US atomic delivery capability.
Soon the B-29 would be supplanted in the nuclear role by the B-50 and B-36 bombers, but for a time, the US nuclear deterrence rested upon an incredibly small fleet of aircraft.
Every aircraft forms vortices as a consequence of generating lift. And large aircraft, particularly at low speeds, in the landing configuration, form large vortices.
This video, shot on a foggy day at Birmingham, England, shows these vortices quite clearly.
Depending on the conditions, especially on days when the winds are mostly calm, these vortices can actually persist for as much as five minutes. Note during the video that there is a slight left to right crosswind, and the vortex from the left side of the aircraft drift across the center of the runway. While these examples dissipate fairly quickly, the danger is that one might come across a vortex from a previous aircraft while landing. And usually, pilots don’t have the visual cue of fog to clearly show the vortex.
More than one aircraft has been doomed by flying into such a vortex. These powerful disruptions have more than enough energy to flip over an airliner as large as a DC-9.
There’s a reason why air traffic control has to space out landings behind larger aircraft.
An American Infantryman, laden with equipment and weaponry, steps off the ramp of a specially modified landing craft. He is not storming the beaches of Normandy or moving ashore on Guadalcanal – in fact, he is not even landing from the open ocean or a sea. Instead, this is the scene of a member of the Mobile Riverine Force (MRF), a joint Army-Navy venture formed during the Vietnam War. In an often-overlooked part of the war, soldiers and sailors worked together in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam to dominate the fluvial local terrain in the region—rivers, streams, and swampy rice paddies. Using World War II era equipment and creating tactics and techniques while under fire, the men of the MRF wrote the modern chapter on riverine warfare for the U.S. Army.
While preparing for riverine warfare is not a common task, it is not a new challenge for the U.S. Army. Since its inception, the Army has dealt with the tactical challenges caused by rivers – from New Orleans to Vicksburg, and from the Philippine Insurrection to the Rhine. Despite the fact that the Army’s experience with riverine warfare peaked with the MRF of the Vietnam War, the concept is not outdated.
Read the whole thing. The MRF was one of the most successful initiatives in the whole Vietnam war, and was formed and fielded very rapidly, at minimal cost. It was an excellent example of how the Army and Navy could cooperate with a minimum of bureaucratic burden, and allowing relatively junior leaders to exercise sound initiative and judgment to overcome challenges.
In the Southwest Pacific, having stopped the Japanese drive on Port Morseby and finally having won Buna and Milne Bay, the US and Australian forces under the command of General MacArthur began the task of advancing along the northern shore of New Guinea to neutralize the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, and interdict Japanese lines of communications.
In the early months of the war, MacArthur didn’t seem to grasp that he needed to fight for New Guinea. But once he found himself forced to conduct a campaign there, it would become one of the best conducted campaigns of the war.*
The primary air component of MacArthur’s forces was the US Army Air Forces Fifth Air Force, under command of Major General George Kenney. Fifth Air Force was much smaller than, say, the mighty host of the 8th Air Force, and operated under some of the most appalling conditions to be found. And yet Kenney quickly became adept at using airpower to neutralize Japanese airfields, and provide support at the operational level to the ground and naval schemes of maneuver MacArthur and Kenney formed the type of harmonious command relationship that wouldn’t be found in Europe until much later in the war.
This synchronization of effort between Army, Air Force, Navy and Australian elements yielded good results with only modest forces, and is a textbook case of how operational and tactical planning should work.
*With some notable exceptions- for instance, the battle at Buna was handled disastrously.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Womack Army Medical Center is still struggling to cope with the influx of patients into its overflowing emergency room, which sources say is due to soldiers playing a drinking game during the first presidential debate on Monday.
Since late Monday, every doctor, nurse and medic on the post not affected with acute alcohol poisoning has been ordered to the hospital to triage and treat thousands of afflicted soldiers. According to reports, more than 7,200 soldiers and DoD civilians have been hospitalized, while hundreds remain in critical condition.
Military installations across the country are reporting similar conditions, with mass casualties reported at every major base.
A simple jet engine does four things- suck, squeeze, spin and blow. The compressor sucks in the air, the combustion chambers add the squeeze, the turbine is spun (to power the compressor) and the exhaust is blown out the back to provide thrust.
We all know the 707 was the first truly successful jet airliner. And early 707s were powered by the Pratt and Whitney JT3C, the civilian variant of the J57 turbojet. While an excellent engine for its day, it had a couple of disadvantages. First, they had a fairly high specific fuel consumption. While the cost of jet fuel in those days wasn’t a terrific concern, higher fuel consumption meant less range for a given flight. Second, they were tooth-jarringly loud. Like, really, really loud. The Jet Age of commercial air travel wasn’t universally popular, as neighborhoods around airports that previously only had to tolerate the occasional piston powered aircraft overhead now found houses shaking to their very foundations from the stupendous noise of the 707s blasting overhead.
The noise of a jet engine is primarily a function of the average velocity of its exhaust gases. Turbojets take a relatively small volume of air, and accelerate it to very high speed.
Pratt and Whitney, knowing Rolls Royce was working on a turbofan (an idea invented in the Soviet Union just before World War II) decided to modify the JT3C to a turbofan design. A new stage was added before the compressor. This fan would indeed compress air, but critically, this air would bypass the combustion chambers. The effect was a jet that moved about three times as much air, but the average velocity of the air was much lower, meaning the noise levels were much lower as well. As an added bonus, that bypass air tended to form a shroud around the high velocity exhaust that did pass through the combustion chambers, helping to dampen that noise.
As noted, the engine moved about three times the mass of air, though at a substantially lower average velocity. But mass and velocity also determine the thrust of an engine, and that larger mass meant the new engine, the JT3D, had about 25% more thrust overall. And the new JT3D also had greatly improved fuel consumption.
Entering service in 1961, the JT3D was an enormously successful design. In addition to powering hundreds of airliners, it also had a military variant, the TF33, which powered the C-141 Starlifter, and even today flies on the B-52H Stratofortress.
“Four elements make up the climate of war: danger, exertion, uncertainty, and chance,” wrote Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz in his seminal On War.1 He observed that collectively, those four elements comprised the notion of friction, which he defined as “the only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish real war from war on paper.”2 Friction has disrupted the implementation of war plans since the dawn of civilization, and despite efforts to minimize its effects, it will continue to do so.
From the Airman’s perspective, friction looms especially large because of the importance of the technology needed not only to fight in the third dimension above the surface of the Earth, but also to live there, or at least to secure a presence in that environment. The possible breakdown of equipment or structural failure of an airframe could heighten stress and danger regardless of whether an enemy attempts to shoot down an aircraft. Additionally, unanticipated weather conditions could have a tremendous impact on aerial operations and their prospects for achieving success, or even occurring at all. Clausewitz remarked, “Countless minor incidents—the kind you can never really foresee—continue to lower the general level of performance, so that one always falls far short of the intended goal.”3
H/T to Jason, this is your must read of the day. It's fairly long, about 35 pages, but looks at the role of the B-52 crews in the Vietnam war, and how those same issues of friction impact our leadership and our operations today.
It’s early 1942 and you are inbound to Douglas MacArthur’s staff as his new air commander, commanding the Fifth Air Force and the Allied Airforces in the South West Pacific. The dilemma you are faced with is that the allies have been in retreat in the face of the Japanese onslaught which has seen great swaths of Asia fall into their possession. You, in turn, are to meet that formidable force with a rag-tag group of survivors gathered from around the Philippines and the rest of the theater, now based in Australia. Your counterpart over in the Navy is exceptionally busy as well, struggling to meet the threat with what was still afloat from Pearl Harbor and subsequent attacks (fortunately the carriers survived) and some land-based air. Most of it, however, is out of your territory and besides, controlled by the Navy.
You think about where and how to hit the enemy to effect the most damage, and like your Navy counterparts, deduce that the Achilles heel in the Empire’s far-flung lines of support is shipping, merchant shipping. The thousands of island garrisons, from the biggest at Rabaul to the smallest outcrop of coral and volcanic rock were all heavily dependent on supply from the sea. In later parlance, it would be “a target rich environment.” Problem is, pre-war tactics have proven abysmal when applied in the real world. High altitude precision bombing wasn’t working against a maneuvering target and attempts to replicate at lower altitudes ran into swarms of fighters and heavy flak from escorts. What do you do?
I'm tired and a little busy today, so I'm just going to raid SteelJaw's archives for a good post.
Kraken, Confederate and High Caliber- that’s the trifecta of awards in WoWs.
This video came out a couple years ago at the Centennial of Naval Aviation. Any documentary with Jimmy Triple-sticks and MOH recipient Thomas Hudner can’t be bad. And I don’t care what you think, I think the T-45 is a damn fine looking jet.
Grab a cup of coffee, and a donut.
The top U.S. military officer confirmed Thursday that Islamic State militants targeted a military base in Iraq where U.S. troops were stationed with a potentially deadly chemical weapon this week.
“We assess it to be a sulfur-mustard blister agent,” Marine Gen.
Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Dunford did not elaborate, but the shell landed at a military base in northern Iraq where U.S. military advisers are helping Iraqi forces prepare for an upcoming offensive, according to an earlier account from two defense officials. They asked not to be named because they were not authorize to discuss the issue publicly. The defense officials suspected the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, of launching the attack.
Sulfur mustard agent is rather nasty. It's rarely fatal, but leaves terrible chemical burns on the victims.
And one of the more pernicious facts is, it isn't immediately incapacitating. It takes hours, as much as two days, before the effects manifest themselves. That means exposed troops who might have decontaminated themselves earlier instead suffer the full effects of the agent.
Sulfur mustard also is what is known as a persistent agent. That is, an area contaminated with mustard gas stays contaminated for days, weeks, and even months. Some places that receive little or no sunlight can remain contaminated for years.
Droplets or fumes of mustard are readily inhaled, and damage the esophagus and lungs. Very minor amounts might seemingly be treated and yet still inflict long term damage to the respiratory system.
The current US MOPP suits and protective masks provide robust defense against the immediate effects of mustard, but simply wearing them reduces a soldier's effectiveness even in the most benign of environments to a drastic degree.
Over at The Lexicans, Bill Brandt and Rick Lobbes collaborated to publish a series of the “Best of” pieces from the late Neptunus Lex, CAPT Carroll LeFon, USN (Ret.). And today, Bill shared the last in the series- Early Go.
There’s a haunting bit of foreshadowing in there, for those who know.
Many thanks to Mary and the rest of the wonderful LeFon family for allowing us to share Lex’s writings.
After World War II, the Air Force recognized the need for long ranged transports that could move outsized vehicles such as trucks and tanks. After the abortive, but attractive, C-74 Globemaster, Douglas Aircraft came forth with the rather ugly, but highly effective C-124 Globemaster II. Entering service in 1950, “Old Shakey” would shudder and shake across the skies for the Air Force and the Guard and Reserves all through the Vietnam War, retiring in 1974. 448 were built.
Lessons learned from the C-124 and improvements in powerplant technology lead to the design of the first turboprop strategic airlifter, the C-133 Cargomaster. While it bears a great deal of resemblance to the C-130 Hercules, they are entirely separate developments. The Cargomaster was a much larger, longer ranged aircraft.
Intended as a replacement for the C-124, budget pressures, the large existing fleet of relatively new Globemaster IIs, and the prospect of larger jet powered transports being available soon meant that the C-133 would not be built in anything like the numbers of its predecessor. In fact, only 50 ever rolled off the assembly lines.
Still, while there weren’t many of them, they were highly useful, and in constant demand. About half the fleet had modifications to permit them to transport various ballistic missiles from the factory to the missile fields, and they spent a lot of time doing just that. The fleet also spent a lot of time moving time-critical cargo to Vietnam, and returning wounded troops on the way back.
Entering service in 1957, the Cargomasters were originally designed for just a 10,000 hour service life. In the event, the demand for their services meant that the service life had to be extended to 19,000 hours. Also, the C-133 was plagued by a series of accidents, with 9 lost in crashes, and one in a ground fire, a total of 20% of the fleet. As soon as the Lockheed C-5A became available, the C-133s were quickly retired.
Douglas Aircraft, apparently trying to gin up support for more sales, produced a short movie about the importance of airlift, and of course, it prominently features both the C-124, and the C-133. I especially enjoyed some of the airdrop scenes.
Distortion is to infect truth with a lie. People who distort use the Hegelian method of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis. In English this is usally accomplished by pairing a fact with something that is not fact and then simplifying it adverbially or adjectivally to create a new ‘truth.’
One very popular example of this is “Dissent Is Patriotic.” Patriotism is the belief in one’s nation or country to such an extent that one supports the people who run the nation, its policies, actions, and the results of all of these. This is the Thesis. Dissent is the acting against a thing, be it a person, policy, actions or results. That is the antithesis. Synthesis is achieved by pairing the two opposing concepts with “Is.” A new ‘truth’ was created for the purpose of providing protection for a level of dissent that gave active aid and comfort to Islamic terrorists.
Another method of distortion is to replace facts but keeping the same label of truth. “Dissent is patriotic.” Is it? We’ve seen in the past 8 years that principled dissent by the Right has been criminalized. Dissent may be patriotic depending on who is facing jail time. As we saw during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, dissent was defined broadly to include actively recruiting soldiers to ‘frag’ (assassinate) their officers, preventing trains carrying supplies from leaving factories for ports, and exceptionally odious programs to undermine the integrity of the election system. After January 2009, dissent was redefined so that any person who dissented was patriotic except for their inherent racism, homophobia, and so on so that the patriotism of the dissenter became a fouled, evil miasma that infected everyone who stands for the National Anthem.
Worth the read of every brilliant word. Solid advice for Keydets and all who value honor and liberty. Pay attention. And arm up. We are the enemies of those in power. Plan accordingly. (URR here.)