Category Archives: history

The Missile Men of North Vietnam

Sa-2camo

S-75 Dvina, known to NATO as the SA-2 Guideline, surface to air missile showing off it’s stationary ground launcher.

The SA-2 Guideline was the bane of existence for US aircrews in the skies over North Vietnam. Air and Space has a very interesting article on the Vietnamese crews that crewed these weapons 40 years ago:

Nguyen Van Pheit joined the North Vietnamese military in 1960. Five years later, as a young lieutenant, he was sent to the Soviet Union along with about 1,000 of his countrymen for SA-2 training. For nine months, they studied and drilled 14 hours a day, seven days a week, learning enough Russian that many became conversant with their instructors. The Soviets regularly served them bacon. Used to a Vietnamese diet rich in rice and vegetables, Phiet initially found the meat unappetizing, but he eventually got used to it. The culmination of his training was launching SA-2s at two unmanned aircraft. Phiet and his crew nailed both of the targets and toasted their hits with champagne.

After graduating from missile school, Phiet was deployed to Hoa Binh Province, southwest of Hanoi, to work on the city’s outer ring of air defense. Like the other SA-2s deployed to defend the North, the six missiles assigned to Phiet were arrayed in a rough circle on mobile, truck-towed launchers, with each missile positioned about a mile from its control and support vehicles.

A typical SA-2 battery relied on a truck-mounted Spoon Rest acquisition radar unit, which provided target location data to a rudimentary computer, and Fan Song guidance radar, which aided in missile guidance as well as target acquisition. To operate each SA-2, a minimum of five primary crewmen, in addition to maintenance and other support personnel, were required: three radar operators, one controller, and a battery commander.

Interesting reading from men who were on the receiving end of American airpower.

What's it feel like to get shot at and missed by a SAM? Ask those guys.

What’s it feel like to get shot at and missed by a SAM? Ask those guys.

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Filed under Air Force, history

The Landing Craft Infantry

Faced with the challenge of mounting a cross channel invasion from England to France, the US and Britain realized that small landing craft like the famed Higgins boat would be enough to land the very first assault echelons, but the need to very rapidly build up forces on the far shore would require something more substantial. The ideal craft would lift a reinforced rifle company, be capable of berthing and feeding them for about 48 hours, and be able to land them directly upon the far shore.  The result was the Landing Craft Infantry (Large).

The basic hull was 158 feet long, with a beam of 23 feet. Power was provided by two “Quad Pack” Detroit Diesel engines driving two shafts with reversible pitch propellers.  The Quad Pack was an interesting engine design. No diesel engine of suitable size and power was in production, so Detroit Diesel took four of their existing 6-71 engines, and coupled them to a shared driveshaft. The resulting 1704 cubic inch displacement engine would be used in multiple ships. The LCI(L) had a top speed of about 16 knots, and could maintain 15 knots. At a cruising speed of 8-10 knots, the ship had a range of about 4000 nautical miles, allowing it to self deploy from the US to Britain or to the distance Pacific. While it could self deploy, it could not embark troops for such a voyage.

Nine hundred twenty three LCI(L)s would be built in ten US yards. Two hundred eleven were transferred to the Royal Navy.  Over the course of the program, the design of the deckhouse and the internal arrangements were changed as a result of feedback from the fleet. Originally, two ramps one either side of the bow were used to disembark troops on the beach. First flight ships also had a low, square conning tower. Later ships had a higher, rounded “castle” conning tower with better visibility, and the final batches of ships replaced the ramps with a single ramp through double doors on the bow. These ships also had a larger deckhouse, allowing an increase in troop berthing from 180 to 210.

Original low deckhouse.

Modified deckhouse.

Bow ramp and full deckhouse.

The basic ship was also modified for a variety of roles, such as Flotilla leader, and most famously, gunboats.  The gunboat conversions were so successful that a further 130 ships were built specifically as gunboats, and known as the Landing Craft Support (Large).

Almost immediatley after the war, virtually the entire fleet of LCIs was decommissioned and disposed of. Most were scrapped, though a few were sent to foreign navies or bought by private parties. Today, there are a handful still around, including one in California, and one in Portland, Oregon, undergoing restoration to serve as a museum ship. And one of the volunteers at that example has produced a 42 minute guided tour of LCI-713.

The ship belongs to the non-profit Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum. The next time I head up there, I’m definitely going to have to visit.

Oh, and as an added bonus, there’s an operational 78’ PT boat in Portland as well. But we’ll save that for another post.

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Filed under history, navy

Don’t Worry Ladies, There’s Someone for Everyone….

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H/T Melissa N

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Filed under Around the web, girls, history, Humor, Uncategorized

The Gallant Hours

@GuadaBattle is still providing a timeline on twitter of the key events of the Guadalcanal campaign (and with the Marines birthday so near, it’s fitting to remember one of their mightiest campaigns).

Guadalcanal was truly a joint mission. Usually associated with the Marines by the general public, the campaign saw major contributions by the Army, Army Air Forces and titanic struggles by the Navy.

The 1960 film The Gallant Hours is a semi-documentary portrait of then Vice Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, who was appointed the theater commander in mid-campaign.  And youtube has it all for you.  You might want to bookmark this and watch it tonight or this weekend.

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“…In This, I Think, Is Glory.”

Still my favorite.

Happy Birthday, Marines!  Semper Fidelis!

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Filed under Defense, guns, history, marines, Personal, recruiting, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

The People’s Republic of China Goes all Sun Tsu on Us

tsu

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

The classic affirmation of the ancient Chinese strategist and philosopher is to be ignored at one’s own great peril.

The rest of the world, and China in particular, sees Mr Obama in the opposite light – as a weak leader in the autumn of his presidency…   Mr Xi has shown Mr Obama little respect since their first summit in California last year. Mr Obama warned his Chinese counterpart to stop the cyber attacks on the Pentagon and other targets. China’s cyber-incursions increased. Earlier this year, the White House indicted five Chinese nationals for cyber-espionage, including a senior military officer. None are likely to be brought to trial. It was the kind of empty gesture Beijing has come to expect of Mr Obama.

Vladimir Putin could not have said it better.  Nor Bashir Assad.  Or Rouhani.  Or our (erstwhile) allies, either.   Embolden our adversaries, worry our partners.  That is the sum total of the foreign policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration and its tiresome and amateur ideological shills.

There will be a price to pay, in power, influence, and prestige.  Or in the lives of Lance Corporals.  Or both.

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Filed under China, Defense, history, iraq, islam, israel, Libya, obama, Politics

‘Thanks Joni’: Hardee’s CEO congratulates Senator-elect Ernst with newspaper ad [photo] | Twitchy

During her acceptance speech, Iowa Senator-elect Joni Ernst joked that “It’s a long way from Red Oak to Washington, from the biscuit line at Hardee’s to the United States Senate.” Ernst hadn’t forgotten her days working at the fast food chain, and her shout-out to her former employer didn’t go unappreciated. Hardee’s took out a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register to congratulate Ernst and thank her for reminding us that “your job and your life are what you make of them.”

via ‘Thanks Joni': Hardee’s CEO congratulates Senator-elect Ernst with newspaper ad [photo] | Twitchy.

hardees

My cousin saw this as a good response to the “living wage” minimum wage hike. Hardees taught Senator-elect Ernst to show up on time, do a good job, get along with co-workers, etc. That is what minimum wage jobs are supposed to do. They are meant to be the beginning, not the be-all and end-all of a career. My cousin pointed out that theaters used to have ushers, gas stations had attendants, and all of the grocery stores had bagboys. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there was 60.5% labor participation for 16 to 24 years old this part July, compared to 77.5 percent in 1989. Another hike in the minimum wage, and that will drop even further as companies automate and cut back on service.

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Filed under history, Personal, Politics