Author Archives: xbradtc

About xbradtc

Kicking poon and taking names since March 2009

2014 Navy Retention Study released

Ordinarily, the results of a retention study would generate a “meh…” from us. This one is a little different. This study wasn’t done by the Navy. This one was done by a go-getter Commander with some fellow sailors on their own time, own dime.  I know less about how to craft a valid study than most, but from what I’ve seen and others tell me, it was pretty well crafted.

The Navy, like the other services, is being downsized. Not surprisingly, that has a somewhat adverse effect on morale fleetwide. That makes keeping the best and brightest in the fleet, while encouraging the less than stellar to depart, something of a challenge.

Skipper at Ask the Skipper has been tracking this closely.

I have not yet read the survey results in their entirety. I have glanced through the document briefly to get an idea of its structure so that I can best parse it and share my points of view. At the risk of tipping my hand, making a fool of myself, or both, I predict that the two most poignant takeaways from this body of work will revolve around the two following principles:

  1. People want the tools and latitude to do the job they joined to do with minimal interference from pointless distractors and empty policy.
  2. Trust in senior leadership has eroded to the point at which most officers and enlisted personnel believe said leadership prioritizes the institution above its people, while failing to realize that the institution is the people.Thus, preservation of an aspiring career cannot come at the expense of sound decisions, honest and forthright communication, and genuine care for the people who perceive their loyalty to be unreciprocated.

We haven’t read the results closely either. But we also suspect Skipper’s suspicions are on target.

By the way, we would strongly encourage you to go back to CDR Snodgrass’ original piece that started this whole discussion.

This isn’t just an issue for the Navy. We strongly suspect many of the same issues are applicable to the other services as well. Heck, the Air Force is having a hard time finding enough people willing to serve as pilots.

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Budapest Airshow 2014

As Tailspin Tommy notes, the Hungarian version of the FAA has a different take on what’s acceptable for an airshow in a downtown area.

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Marine helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden | WAVY-TV

A Marine Corps helicopter carrying 25 people crashed Monday in the Gulf of Aden, and all aboard were rescued, the Navy said.

The 17 Marines and eight Navy sailors were recovered and were on board the USS Mesa Verde, and some who sustained minor injuries were treated on the ship.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed as it attempted to land on the ship, which has a big landing deck on the back. The Navy said the crash was not the result of hostile activity, but the aircraft was transferring troops back to the ship from training in nearby Djibouti.

via Marine helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden | WAVY-TV.

That all 25 survived is a testament to the training everyone who will ride aboard a seagoing helicopter must undergo.

Not to mention a bit of good luck.

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Prowler In Action

With the last Navy EA-6B Prowler deployment underway, it seems a fitting time to share this propaganda video about the Prowler. The hairstyles and the paint job tells me its from the late 70s. Indeed, I remember “Prowler University” of VAQ-129 in the old WWII temporary building.

Actually, further research reminds me Charlie Hunter was COMMATVAQWINGPAC from 80-82. Charlie Hunter was a renowned A-6 Intruder pilot, and a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest award for valor our nation can bestow.


Filed under navy


We’re used to seeing clips and stories of artillery pummeling enemy fortifications or troops. Goodness knows we’ve shown more than a few ourselves.

But one of the major roles of artillery is attacking an enemy’s artillery. This counter artillery role is known as counterbattery (even when engaging formations larger than a battery).

In the days of the American Civil War, counterbattery was directed visually. But in the era of breechloaded guns with smokeless powder and explosive shells firing from over the horizon, locating enemy batteries was infinitely more difficult.

Forward observers could spot some mortar and light artillery batteries. And there were acoustical detection devices. In fact, from about 1916 well into the 1950s, sound location, or MASINT (Measure And Signature INTelligence)  was the primary means of locating enemy firing batteries. By measuring the difference in the Time of Arrival (TOA) of a gun blast along a baseline of sensors, the enemy location could be triangulated. Similarly, lines of bearing from multiple points could point to an enemy battery. Calculating the firing point could take as little as three minutes.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of World War II, the US Army was just staring to explore the possibilities of using radar to control anti-aircraft fire. The first Army radars operated with frequencies in the meter range. That was relatively adequate for long range search, but for precise control of gunfire, it was rather disappointing. When the British shared the discovery of the cavity magnetron, the US was able to very quickly develop centimetric wavelength radars. One in particular, the SCR-584, was extremely effective. Not only was it very precise, it was quite versatile as well. It could act as a search radar out to respectable ranges, as much as 35 miles. Incredibly, given the infancy of radar development, it was capable of automatically tracking targets within about 18 miles.

The SCR-584 was so fundamentally sound, during the development of the M1 90mm Anti-Aircraft gun it was intended to work with, the radar was used to confirm the ballistic profiles of the shells fired from the gun. Ballistic tables were normally devised by computers- that is, hundreds of women with slide rules- mathematically. By confirming the calculations with empirical observation provided by the SCR-584, the complete tables were validated more quickly than normally possible. That is, the 584 was precise enough to track a 90mm shell in flight. By measuring the range and angle from the mount to the shell over a handful of times during the flight of the shell, the ballistic parabola could be derived.

It didn’t take long for some bright operators to realized that if you could determine the ballistics of an outgoing shell, you could also determine the ballistics of an incoming shell. And with a map and a little math, you could plot the parabola back to its point of origin, that is, the enemy firing battery.

Having discovered that radars could be used to track artillery fire, it wasn’t long before the service sought out a radar optimized for the mission. Nor was the US Army the only force to develop a dedicated counterbattery radar. Today, almost every army has at least some counterbattery radar capability.

For the past 30 years or so, the US Army and Marines have fielded the TPQ-36 and TPQ-37 Firefinder radars in the Target Acquisition Batteries of their artillery units. Recently, the Army has also fielded the TPQ-46 Lighweight Counter Mortar Radar. While the Q-46 does calculate the firing point of enemy radars, it’s primarily used to warn troops of incoming mortar and rocket fire. It can also cue the Counter Rocket Artillery Mortar (C-RAM) system to intercept mortar rounds.


Filed under army, history

120mm for Air Defense

When you mention a 120mm gun today, virtually everyone thinks of the main gun of the M1 Abrams family of tanks. And rightly so. It’s an impressive weapon. But did you know that from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s there were more than a few 120mm guns guarding the US?

The US Army began World War II with the M3 3” gun as its primary heavy antiaircraft gun. The M3 was itself a slightly improved version of the M1918 fielded for World War II, and was clearly facing obsolescence. It lacked the ability to reach the high altitudes routinely used by enemy bombers, and didn’t throw a very powerful shell.

Soon the excellent M1 90mm anti-aircraft gun replaced it.

But as good as the M1 90mm gun was, it still lacked the range and altitude needed. Toward the end of the war, the Army finally fielded the massive M1 120mm heavy anti-aircraft gun. While a few batteries were sent to the Pacific before the war ended, it doesn’t appear any actually engaged Japanese aircraft.

The beginning of the Cold War raised the spectre of Soviet bombers laying waste to American cities with nuclear weapons. Accordingly, a very high priority was given to air defense of the continental US. The Air Force fielded many squadrons of fighters. And pending the development of guided missiles, the Army placed batteries of 90mm and 12omm guns to protect our cities.

A typical 120mm battery had four guns. The guns were automatically directed by the M10 director system, which in turn used information from the SCR-584 radar, or a similar gun laying radar and the M4 gun computer.

Batteries also protected sensitive sites such as the Panama Canal.

By the mid-1950s, the M1’s ability to destroy high speed bomber targets was marginal. As rapidly as possible, gun batteries were replaced by Nike Ajax guided missile batteries.  Today, the M1 is but a faint memory.


Filed under 120mm

Load HEAT-Sofia Vergara

We try not to duplicate entries on Load HEAT, but there are only so many ladies out there, and further, this lady was in the news recently. Radical feminists hate when any woman is beautiful. Unless they’re being crude. @drawandstrike noted this double standard between the adulation Beyonce received and the scorn they heaped upon Sofia Vergara.

Sofia 2 (1)

Sofia 2 (1)



Sofia 2 (2)

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