Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Luger LP08.com

artillery_luger_siteMauro Baudino, an Italian who lives in Belgium nowadays, is an expert on the very beast we’re currently wrangling; he’s written a book on the Artillery Luger, although his book is aimed more at collectors and historians than on our current role, poor beggars trying to make the thing run like Kaiser Bill intended it to. So Mauro’s website on the Artillery, LugerLP08.com, is of great interest.

At the very beginning, it has a graphic in which a commemorative Artillery photo fades into a cut-away four-color drawing, which then cycles, and you can see the intricacies of the action — which all appear correct.

Baudino also co-wrote (with Gerben Van Vlimmeren) a book on postwar Parabellums, The Parabellum is Back: 1945-2000.  There is a website with information on this book including errata, like drawings of the magazines developed by Haenel for the French. Here’s a review of the book by Ian from Forgotten Weapons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hztgmjJU7f4

Unfortunately, his Artillery Luger book, which is available direct from the author, is primarily in the Italian language, albeit with bilingual (Italian/English) photo captions. But the website is all in English, and quite entertaining to explore.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: KFSS.ru

These scenes aren’t from Chernobyl, although they have the same air of haunted abandonment. And they’re not from Detroit, although the site makers are reminiscent of the urban ruins explorers of the Motor City. They’re from various abandoned and forgotten military bases in the former Soviet Far East.

Posters of Lenin, and placards celebrating the Warsaw Pact, that celebrated bond of Socialist fellowship that evaporated as soon as Soviet coercion was removed from the slave states of Eastern Europe. Rows of tanks, caught in the middle of repairs that didn’t come, stripped and vandalized.

abandoned tanks 206 btrz kfss.ru

The photos are from a site called KFSS.ru, and they’re why it’s the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, even though it has other explorations on there (for example, of coastal forts). But for us, it was the post-Soviet ruins that were mesmerizing.

If you look at only one of KFSS.ru’s explorations, the 206th BTRZ — a tank-repair site strewn with the carcasses of armored vehicles — could be the most interesting.

The unit was originally established in 1936 as the V.G. Voroshilov Repair Base for the Far East No. 77. Over the years it had many other names, but basically kept overhauling tanks for the Red, then Soviet, then Russian, army, and its final identity was the 206th Broniytankoviy Remontniy Zavod — Armored Tank Repair Factory (or Facility). When it closed, a large amount of work-in-progress vehicles, from BRDM-1 and -2 light amphibious armored reconnaissance vehicles through T-64 tanks, were left behind.

In this photo essay, as in the others, the photos are always professionally, even artistically, composed. They speak of the fascinating beauty of ruins, a beauty which has captivated men for centuries.

Sometimes, men who did their national service on these bases comment on the pages, filling in details. It is jarring to see your old base, even your old barracks, workplace, or team room, reduced to ruins — we’ve been through that ourselves (the team room has since been torn down and no trace of it remains).

Every page of KFSS introduces military archaeology that is at once familiar and exotic, like the strange tubular bunkers that once held R-5s, the Soviet Union’s first nuclear-armed missiles, and the abandoned classrooms of a radio school.

You’ll need to read Russian to get the maximum knowledge and enjoyment from this site, although Google or some other online translator can probably help. But you don’t really need to  read the words to appreciate the haunting beauty in some of these ruins.

Buildings 30 and 40 years old, probably never all that watertight to begin with, given Soviet construction standards.

A pack of cigarettes, forgotten on a shelf. A naval officer’s uniform, hanging up next to the ironing board that got it ready for a next meeting that didn’t happen.

Naval Officer's Uniform kfss-ru

Abandoned Vozdvizhenka Aerodrome, home to a fleet of Tu-223M carcasses, late of Russian Naval Aviation:

Abandoned Bomber

Some of the architecture is similar to any European or American base, and some is uniquely Soviet. A large open-span area in a maintenance hall is built with precast concrete rafters that have an arched truss cast into them, for example — an ingenious and elegant solution.

The routine junk of military living. Propaganda exhortations (Your unit — your community!) of the inoffensive kind. Key control boards. Ammo bunkers. NBC posters: what to do when the Americans nuke you.

NBC poster kfss-ru

We never did, but they tried to be ready. So did we, during the Cold War.

While most of the world’s Army, Navy and Air Force bases look much alike, only the USSR left this one signature item behind when a base closed: Lenin.

Lenin kfss-ru

 

The soldiers, sailors and airmen who traipsed through these buildings, and unwittingly, through history, by and large did their duty: their homeland wasn’t attacked again after V-E Day. Perhaps the system they served did not deserve their loyalty, but their country, and their countrymen, probably did. And the artifacts they left behind exist in the strange limbo between abandonment and archaeology.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Pre98.com

French 1935A pistols are common -- but not in this condition.

French 1935A pistols are uncommon, not “rare” — except in this condition, and with an Indochina period rig. In stock at Pre98.com.

There are lots of dealers of 20th Century guns, but Scotty Benedict makes a business of selling the sort of guns you usually only see at national auctions: mint, rare, and mint and rare guns are the bulk of his offerings. His website is the slightly misleading URL, Pre98.com (as most of his inventory is 20th Century). The online catalog of goodies is at shop.pre98.com. Inventory is updated extremely often.

We have been around since 1989 dealing mostly in WW2 arms and militaria. Our specialties are mint condition firearms and very nice holsters….. We decided to open this web site to give you exclusive access to what we have in stock in the way of firearms and accessories. We will continue to improve the site and hope you will visit often to see what we have dredged up.

There will also be some rare and desirable commercial guns. This site gives you exclusive access to the firearms and accessories that made it into my inventory. Now you don’t have to wait for a gun show to see what I have found.

Gathering the best items is too big of a job for one person to handle. I have a virtual army of collectors who regularly channel new goodies into the pipeline. As a very serious and advanced collector myself, my eye is trained to be quite discerning about what we pick up. I take great pride in the herd that we bring to market. I personally guarantee the authenticity of each item and the accuracy of its description.

Since most of my customers are serious collectors, almost all of our business is with Curio and Relics (C&R) licensees and FFL transfers. When you find that special gun you’ve been looking for, we’ll work with you to make the buying process as painless as possible while complying with all applicable firearms regulations.

via Pre98.com – Home.

One of the neat things about Scotty is that he keeps records of some of the best pieces he has sold in the past, so you can not only jones over the guns you can’t afford now, you can jones over the ones you couldn’t afford last year (but some other lucky fellow did).

We have not personally bought from Scotty, but we just looked at literally every item in his inventory. Nothing is cheap, but he is correct in noting that he has among the best examples of both common (think 1911 or Garand) and uncommon (Broomhandle, French 1935A, VIS Radom, etc.) firearms on the market. For example, this mint commercial Broomhandle comes with the original stock:

Mauser C96 Broomhandle

Price? We’ve bought cars for less. Here’s Scotty’s description:

In 98% original very crisp condition, we have a very rare Model 1896 flatside large ring C96 Mauser Broomhandle pistol that is still with the factory original matching numbered stock. This pistol was manufactured in the middle of 1900 and was exported to America and sold by the famed New York firearms firm Von Lengerke & Detmold and is so marked. This pistol has a mint bore and is in exceptional condition, you just do not see these early Broomhandles that look this good and never with a matching stock. This is one of the most sought after and difficult Broomhandles to obtain. These flat side large ring C96’s are very interesting pistols. The firm marking will make an highly sought after pistol like this even more desirable,.

Yes, the Broomhandle is x-pensive. There’s an original, prewar engraved PPK that’s even more expensive. He also has not one, but four non-import Makarovs to choose from.

Not everything is priced to give you High Altitude Cerebral Edema, though. For instance, here’s a nice, solid and representative 1944 M1 Carbine:

M1 Carbine 1944

Scotty calls it good-plus, original, and has priced it just a nudge above an average carbine at $1,450. So there are some within reach of t he working man; the others, he must plan to sell to VA managers or something. But they sure are beautiful to look at.

If you like what you see at Scotty’s site, his friend Jim has similar quality stuff at LegacyCollectibles.com, too.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Soldier Systems

Screenshot 2014-07-23 22.17.21If you were to Google soldiersystems site:weaponsman.com, you’d see we’ve cited this useful site from time to time, but it’s never been our W4. How we overlooked it, we’re not sure. Time to rectify that oversight.

About 90% of what’s on Soldier Systems.net is press releases from military, weapons, tactical-gear (and “tactical” gear) vendors, and that kind of thing. Think of it as a kind of heads-up, a PEO Soldier for the rest of us. There’s also a little filler or crap — airsoft and other toys and novelties. Hey, their site, their rules, and it’s easy enough to scroll past the greasy kid stuff and on to useful things.

But while they usually just deliver the facts as they’re given ‘em, it’s on the occasions when they go into depth that they’re most interesting to us. An example is their SHOT Show coverage.

Still, they have incredibly weird and wonderful stuff all the time, because the range of press releases they suck in include not only the usual guns, and knives, and 300 variations of crap made of Cordura, but also oddities like Chain Mail Shoes (why? Well, why not?) and the Cash Cannon (a clever idea, but it’s either out of stock or vaporware).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Warriors Publishing Group

Screenshot 2014-06-25 10.57.29Their tagline pretty much says it:

We Publish Books You Like to Read

They’re the Warriors Publishing Group and they are affiliated with Hollywood military adviser turned actor Dale Dye, and his Warriors Inc. advisory business. Dye, a Vietnam USMC vet and Marine Mustang who retired as a Captain, singlehandedly transformed the Hollywood war-film process by training actors and extras on weapons, tactics, and military deportment in condensed “boot camps”. He is the singular reason that gun handling in today’s films is miles above the gun handling in the classic films of the fifties and sixties, and for that alone everyone who strains his ocular equipment towards a big or small screen needs to say three Hosannas and a Hail Chesty in the general direction of Camp Pendleton (which for us is close enough to the general direction of LA-based Dye. If you’re closer to the West Coast the angles may be all wrong).

Fun fact about Dye: at least on his second, longer tour in Vietnam, he was a combat correspondent, who put a good deal of emphasis on the “combat” part of the title. He experienced, among other delights, the Tet Offensive in Hue, one of the USMC’s legendary battles of the 20th Century.

Dye is also a novelist of some talent. Several of Dye’s books are published by Warriors, unfortunately not including his great Run Between the Raindrops. 

If Dye is one tentpole author in the Warrior’s Publishing tent, the other has to be John DelVecchio. He was also a combat correspondent, but in the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), the Army’s helicopter-mounted fire department in Vietnam, in 1970-71. DelVecchio’s The 13th Valley is a truly great novel of Vietnam, written when the experience was still fresh in his mind. He has two further books, one dealing with the challenges of veterans’ reintegration, Carry Me Home, and another with the miseries of Cambodia, For the Sake of All Living Things. Fortunately, Warriors has republished these three classics.

Along with those two, WPG also includes books by other authors we haven’t heard of, but certainly hope to.

The boss of Warriors Publishing is longtime Warriors Inc. manager Julia Dewey Dye, PhD, (née Rupkalvis), Dale’s wife and a sought-after theatrical military advisor in her own right.  (They met on the set of Starship Troopers). She has a book out that sounds interesting, Backbone: History, Traditions, and Leadership Lessons of Marine Corps NCOs. (That link is to the Kindle edition, but the hardcover’s the same price). She cites some famous Marine NCOs and former NCOs who are, or ought to be, legends in the Corps. (Some of them, you’ll go, “Dang, I never knew…”) Naturally, it’s published by Warriors.

They do indeed seem to publish books we like to read.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: US Government Surplus

Screenshot 2014-06-19 14.03.23Yes, we’re backdating this into place a day late. So sue us.

But here are two sites where you can buy US Government Surplus — direct.

  • Government Liquidation is an auction site. Imagine eBay designed by bureaucrats, selling only leftover government crap — nodules of treasure amid mountains of trash.
  • Uncle Sam’s Retail Outlet is a place to buy small lots of stuff. Exercise great care here, as they often offer new stuff for a price that is greater than you can get the item from, say, Amazon, and Amazon offers more of a guarantee than you’re going to get from any government operation. (Uncle Sam’s does offer free shipping on many items).

Most of us will never need a K-loader, a rough terrain forklift, or a Unimog-based engineering vehicle. But it’s nice to know that there’s a place for them to find new owners, and it’s entertaining to just browse the sites for the sheer “whazzat” value.

Why, for instance, has the Retail Outlet been trying for months to sell off a stash of Brazil National Flags? Why did Uncle Sam buy XBOX 360 games?

They do not ever sell weapons — the Carter Administration cracked halfway down on that, the Clinton Administration finished the job, and the Obama Administration requires the destruction even of parts. Indeed, a lot of useful gadgets and machinery must be scrapped, for reasons that may make sense to .gov or to the lobbyists that run it, but aren’t immediately apparent.

But some useful accessories do show up. For example, 1970s-80s ammo pouches and 2000s era field gear are common on both sites. Hardigg and Pelican cases show up. And currently, for anyone wishing to relive their youth as a buck private/airman/seaman apprentice/etc. there’s currently a pallet of floor buffers. Kids have discipline problems? Generations of drill instructors can’t be wrong.

For most users, the government liquidation site is too hard to use, and the lots are too large. But if you’re close to one of the bases, you might be able to get, for instance, a long-bed lathe for short money.

We’re actually looking for a couple of GI bunks to add to the ambience of the gun room, if we can cut a deal with a contractor to put a 3/4 bath in.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: CommandPosts.com

Screenshot 2014-06-04 22.49.33Under the pressure of time and duty, we were inclined to skip the W4 this week, but the mysterious forces of Serendip aligned in such a way as to present us with an interesting site: CommandPosts.com.

The site is a military history site with the support of some heavy-hitting authors and their publishers. The writing we saw was of conspicuous quality.

We were particularly taken with the small section about or, in the Command Posts parlance, “focus on,” the Son Tay raid of 1970. This improvised mission was a sophisticated joint special operation that can be compared, in its imaginative conception, daring execution, and outsized psychological effect compared to its military utility, to the Doolittle Raid of 1942. The target was a North Vietnamese prison camp known to house American POWs. Unbeknownst to the raiders, the PAVN had closed the camp due to flooding, and the raid hit a dry hole.

Son-Tay-from-Low-Altitude

Fortunately for the aficionado of such history, there are several good books, by analysts, historians and participants, on the raid. Some of the Command Posts posts on the Son Tay raid are excerpted from certain of those books. Specific links include:

There’s much more there, including many suggestions of interesting books on a wide range of military history subjects. You can find many flimsy excuses and even a couple of solid reasons to spend some time exploring Command Posts.com.

In 2014 the site was subsumed into a new, less-focused and considerably less interesting, site, the History Reader. So there will be no new posts on Command Posts; military history posts will be, it seems, buried in the general history site. But there’s content enough remaining in the archives at Command Posts to keep you all entertained for a while.

Enjoy!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Office of Naval Research

Screenshot 2014-05-22 02.27.55Why do a bunch of gun guys want to look at what the ONR is doing? Because the ONR is working on one of our favorite themes: what’s next? By that we mean that current projectile weapons technology is a very evolved version of late 19th century breakthroughs such as breech loading, smokeless powder, fixed ammunition, gas- and recoil-operated automatic weapons, and (for artillery) recoil-managing carriages.

Those inventions revolutionized the weapons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and they continue to be exploited even in the latest designs, but the pace of innovation is slower, the effect of innovation is more peripheral or marginal, and the character of innovation is evolutionary, not revolutionary. We could say we’re at a technological plateau, or apogee. (Think of where the internal combustion piston engine was circa 1945 — at a pinnacle of power and efficiency.

Some other trends can be perceived if you look at things in the long (real long) haul. These include a centuries-long trend for projectiles to be launched with smaller calibers, higher velocities, and greater accuracy. But these trends too have hit a plateau.

So the ONR is looking for breakthrough technologies. One thing that they, and the Army, have explored in the past is liquid propellants. We may write something about that, but the bottom line there is that the great potential runs up against insuperable (so far) safety issues. There are many things the next great gun should do, but one thing it should not do is blow itself up.

WNUS_Rail_Gun_Theory_picSo the breakthrough currently being explored is the electromagnetic rail gun. Here is their overview of the program on a single page and here’s a web version. The potential is staggering: 50-100 nm range initially (230 nm stretch goal); Mach 7.5 (5,600 mph). In  gunnery terms, feet per second, that’s 8,370 (2550 m/sec for those of you still using Robespierre’s revolutionary units).  The fastest common To give you some velocity comparisons, that’s not quite as fast as the X-43 scramjet experimental platform, and not quite the orbital speed a geostationary satellite is going. It covers a kilometer in 392 milliseconds. (For comparison’s sake, the fastest guns issued today are smoothbore tank guns firing discarding-sabot fin-stabilized subcaliber penetrators. The APFSDS round in the 120mm M256 gun on the Abrams is pretty fast at 5,500 fps, and the Russian 125mm makes 5,900 fps).

 

 

Navy-railgunORD_Railgun_GA_CONOPS_lg

This is the most recent test video ONR published (last month). Their gun accelerates an irregular shaped projectile to hypersonic speed.

This image, from RIA/Novosti (!) shows the principle of operation in more detail than the image above:

How Railgun works

Its current weakness is its power consumption, but the Navy has the most experience in the world with one potential source of unlimited power: shipboard reactors. The Army, too, is working on railguns, but doesn’t have that handy reactor in its tanks.

The ONR railgun program is now well into Phase II. The Phase I objectives were set, and the Phase II objective is, broadly stated, to transition from a research and development program to an evaluation and acquisition one.

But the railgun isn’t the only thing the ONR is up to, by any means. Writing in the Wall Street Journal this week, ONR head RADM Matthew Klunder reports that, while the railgun will be going to sea in a couple of years, the Navy is already planning to test a laser cannon at sea this year, and is working on other innovations, like unmanned helicopters for supply delivery or medevac.

Advanced technologies that were once the stuff of science fiction are also in the pipeline. This summer the Navy will deploy a laser cannon at sea for the first time and plans to test an electromagnetic railgun on a ship in 2016. The laser cannon delivers an invisible beam of energy with pinpoint accuracy that can take out an incoming plane, drone or boat. The electromagnetic railgun—using electricity rather than gunpowder—will defend against incoming missiles and opposing ships, and project power far inland by launching low-cost guided projectiles hundreds of miles at hypervelocity speeds over Mach 7.

Breakthrough technologies like these give commanders the option to deter, disable or destroy threats from greater distances. In addition, there is no limit to how many rounds a laser can fire, and at just $1 per shot, laser cannons will save the Pentagon (and taxpayers) many millions once fully deployed.

Both the railgun and the laser have the potential to save future ships from the fate of such naval tragedies as HMS Hood, or the USS Maine for that matter, where detonation of a ship’s magazine was a key factor in the loss of ship and men. The railgun can be effective with dumb metal kinetic-energy projectiles, and the laser fires a beam of light — neither is as hazardous to store as plain old HE shells.

Here’s the website, and here’s their YouTube channel (warning, annoying autoplay).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Combined Arms Research Library

Screenshot 2014-05-15 00.38.46When a soldier goes through many Army schools, he has to write a paper of some kind. These papers range from a few pages to the book-length theses of the War College, and exhaustive Area Studies done at the Special Forces Operations & Intelligence Course. They vary widely in quality, too: some of the Sergeant Majors Academy papers are an ordeal to read.

If the paper isn’t classified, it tends to wind up on the Combined Arms Research Library, a web page where anyone (like you!) can enter a search term and receive near-instant edification.

There are cool things here. Remember the two Merrill’s Marauders papers a week or two back? They came from here. There’s lots more good stuff just waiting for your search — or for your serendipitous discovery. Like:

There’s a whole section of World War II Operational Documents. In fact, there are 15 collections in all that can be accessed here:

  1. Bruce C. Clarke Library Digital Repository
  2. Center for Army Lessons Learned Repository
  3. CGSC Student Papers
  4. CGSS Student Papers, 1930-1936
  5. Combat Studies Institute (CSI)
  6. Command and General Staff College Foundation
  7. Fort Leavenworth History
  8. Frontier Army Museum
  9. General Military History
  10. Master of Military Art and Science Theses
  11. Military History, 1900 – 1939
  12. Military Review
  13. Obsolete Military Manuals
  14. Operational Leadership Experiences
  15. School of Advanced Military Studies Monographs
  16. The Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle
  17. US Army Artillery School
  18. US Army Combined Arms Center Repository
  19. USASMA Digital Library
  20. World War II Operational Documents

These documents are quite a wide range, and one search window accesses them all. It’s a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week that you can get lost in.

Enjoy.

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/CGSC/CARL/index.asp

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Bearing Arms

Or as its full title goes, Bearing Arms—Saving Liberty and Lives. This is Bob Owens’s gun site. Owens has blogged for over a decade at his personal site, once ConfederateYankee.mu.nu, and now bob-owens.com. But BA is an interesting mix of gun policy, gun politics, and a little bit of gun tech.

Bob seems like a likeable fellow, and his site reflects that personality. We personally enjoy reading it.

We didn’t really have time for a full-on W4 this week, so we’re just going to give you this suggestion: get thee hence and see if you like it.  And then c’mon back here tomorrow, where we’ll have something new and cool for you, too.

http://bearingarms.com/