Roamy gently reminded me I never got around to featuring this tasty morsel.
I don’t feel like writing today.
The US Navy in the early 1990s was greatly concerned with small boat swarming attacks on US surface ships, and looked at ways to counter them. A couple of different weapons were used. First, ships in areas likely to face such swarm attacks (that is, in the Persian Gulf) were quickly equipped with .50cal machine gun mounts. But the .50cal is not terribly accurate, nor particularly lethal.
A more advanced approach was to modify the 20mm Phalanx Close In Weapon System giving it the capability to engage not just missiles, but also surface targets.
A third option was to bolt on mounts of automatic cannons. In the end, that’s what happened, with the 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannon on the Mk38 mount.
Mk38 Mod 1 Mount for M242 25mm gun.
For years, the mounts were swapped in and out as ships entered and departed the 5th Fleet Area of Operations. Originally little more than a pedestal mount, todays Mk38Mod2 mount is a remotely operated, stabilized mount with day and night capability.
Mk38 Mod 2 Mount
Part of the decision making process (but only part) of what gun to mount included studies of the terminal effects of the various cannon rounds and ammunitions available. And that’s were this video comes in.
Damn shame to see the MkIII PB getting shot up. It would have been nice to see that up for surplus sale.
In tactical situations, a suppressor is quite handy, if only to make it easier to control a unit. Though they aren’t in widespread use in regular line units, they’re quite common in special operations. They’re also relatively easy to acquire for civilians willing to pay the NFA tax on them.
We usually think of suppressors screwed onto the end of an assassin’s pistol, or on a sniper rifle. Well, here we see one on a shotgun, of all things.
It looks a little unwieldy, but not too bad.
This isn’t the first attempt at reducing the signature of a shotgun. During the Vietnam war, combat shotguns were popular with the Navy SEALs for their excellent close quarters capability. But they were also quite noisy, something that clashed sharply with the SEALs desire for stealth when at all possible. So the SEALs asked if anyone could address that problem. And rather than attempting to change the shotgun, AAI Corporation adapted a technology of theirs to invent the silent shotgun shell.
The shell was a closed cylinder with the tip folded in (think of an inflated balloon, and pushing in with a finger to form a cup). The burning of the powder would cause the cup to expand, forcing the shot down the barrel. But because the cylinder was closed, no gases from the firing would leave the shell. No muzzle blast equals very little noise.
Only a relative handful were made, and few if any were ever used in combat. They had only fair ballistic performance, and a failure of the shell could cause a serious jam for the weapon. Additionally, high costs led to the program being dropped. Still, it was an innovative approach to solving a problem.
When’s the last time you saw an actual P-51D firing actual .50cal machine guns? Well, here’s your chance. Parrothead Jeff sent this along.
You’ll notice not a lot of rounds were actually hitting the target. The best aerial marksmen in the world won’t do well if the guns aren’t “harmonized.” You’d expect the guns in the wing of a fighter to point straight ahead. But in fact, you want them to point inward ever so slightly. Ideally, the stream of fire from all six guns would converge at a point 250 to 300 yards ahead of the fighter. That was typically considered the maximum range a pilot could effectively shoot in aerial combat in World War II. And of course, the idea was to have the greatest possible weight of fire hitting the enemy at once.
The mounts in the wing of fighters allowed both for the guns to be securely and firmly mounted, while also allowing the direction of the gun to be dialed in. The process was straightforward, if rather time consuming. The plane would be placed on the range with the tail elevated as shown, at the distance desired, let’s say 250 yards from the target. Then one by one, each gun would be fired for a very short burst, with the armorers noting the point of impact, then adjusting the guns until they were on target, center mass. After all six guns were adjusted, a final burst would confirm the guns were harmonized.
Each plane had small differences in tolerances, so each plane had to be individually adjusted. However, once the actual adjustments were known (say, for instance, gun #1 needs 4 clicks up and 7 right to be on target) each time the guns were removed for cleaning and reinstalled, the same clicks could be applied. An occasional confirmation firing would suffice to ensure the guns were still harmonized.
Note also that while the Browning .50cal is externally quite similar to the gun used by ground forces, it’s been designed to have a significantly higher rate of fire, about 750rpm, versus 500-550 for the ground version.
Even today, the guns of fighters have to be fired on an actual range to ensure they’re pointed where the pilot thinks they are.
How have I not featured Eva Mendes before?
Update: Uh… the perils of blogging on a Sunday night and rushing to pic a subject. Turns out, I did feature Eva before. Oh well. It’s not a mistake, it’s an homage!
Visit virtually any gun blog, and one of the most contentious issues is the 5.56mm Colt M4 carbine. Thousands of people will argue against it and push for the adoption of another weapon, and often another caliber.
Oddly, however, surveys of active soldiers are almost universally supportive of the M4. Of course, most soldiers, even Infantrymen, have little experience with military small arms outside of their own issue weapons. Still, the level of satisfaction suggests that while the M4 may not be perfect, it isn’t so egregiously flawed as to require immediate replacement.
And another little secret is that while other nations developed their own 5.56mm weapons about the time the US lead NATO to shift from 7.62mm to 5.56mm as the standard rifle round, many have quietly adopted the M16/M4 platform, at least for certain applications.
Israel equipped its soldiers with the indigenous Galil rifle, but has since seen most of its troops shifted to the M4.
In the mid-1990s, Canada, then equipped with a variant of the FN FAL rifle in 7.62mm, worked with Colt and the US Marine Corps to develop their own version of our 5.56mm M16A2. Introduced into service as the C7 rifle, it and the carbine C8 series (very similar to our own M4) have been the standard service rifle of the Canadians, and have been adopted by several other NATO members, such as Norway, Denmark, and even Iceland.
When the US lead the shift to 5.56mm, Britain developed their own rifle, the fairly exotic looking SA80.
It has not been particularly successful competing in the small arms export market.
Britain steadfastly claims the SA80 (L85A1 in UK service) is superior to the M16/M4 family.
But the truth is, special operations forces of Great Britain don’t like it, and never have. And they’ve been buying C8 carbines from Canada.
One of the great strengths of the Colt rifle is that it can be customized in an almost unlimited number of ways.
Our friends across the pond at Think Defence have two posts on the Colt in British service (where it’s known as the L119A1).
The upgraded, customized version will be known as the L119A2.
I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Great Britain quietly, slowly makes the Colt the de facto standard weapon over the next few years.
Today, when the Navy wishes to buy a gun or other weapon for the fleet, it goes shopping among various defense contractors, either buying what is already offered, or starting a competition to chose from among several proposed weapons.
In the old day, when the Navy wanted a new gun, they designed it, and built it. Only if the numbers needed were too great did they call upon industry to produce the weapons. And even then, the Navy would provide the tooling, pattern and jigs for industry to build what the Navy developed.
This clip has some nice shots of the old 3”/50 gun being fired, but also has some fascinating bits on pouring and machining complex metal shapes in an era before computer controlled milling was even an idea.
Helen Mirren gets a ton of credit for aging gracefully, but she’s far from the only British actress to pull off that trick. This week we have Jenny Agutter, whom you may have recently seen in The Avengers and Captain America-The Winter Soldier. I remember seeing her on MI-5 (also known as Spooks). But what I’ll always really remember her from is Logan’s Run.
With strings of recurring roles on shows like Arrow, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, The League and a gazillion other shows, sultry looking Janina Gavankar isn’t a household name, but she’s got an unforgettable look.
Maybe not as well known as her sister Rooney Mara, Kate Mara is, I think, the prettier of the two. She’s also the great granddaughter of the founders of the New York Giants, and the Pittsburg Steelers.
You may know her from House of Cards or from 24. I know her as the girl that had a threesome with Sophia Bush and some dude, on Nip/Tuck (NSFW).