Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Any Weapons Website of the Week Ideas?

Because, even though we delayed this post for over 12 hours, we’re still drawing a blank. so we’re throwing it open for suggestions. Because we know there’s lots of ’em we haven’t covered yet but they’re not in the forebrain at present. For the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, it’s Thursday noon, and we still got nothin’. So… help!

One hopes the feature will return next week, eh?

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Spy Museum

spy_museumLet’s celebrate the opening of the Oliver Stone film Snowden, not to mention, the latest dump of information from the FSB’s Snowden archive, within an interesting website: The Spy Museum.

While WeaponsMan.com readers might be most interested in the museum’s collections of spy weapons and other spy tech, the human stories of the villains and heroes of espionage — their hero/villain status often depending on whose side is looking at it.

Along with all the spies you’ve heard about, the museum features ones you probably haven’t, like Judith Coplon. Coplon, an employee of the FBI and Department of Justice, seems to have been an ideological recruit to the Soviet Union just after World War II. Like many left-leaning New Yorkers such as the more famous Rosenbergs, the Soviet tale of collectivized equality and working-class solidarity was more appealing to Coplon than American individualism.

Coplon came under suspicion, and…

…[w]as placed under intense surveillance. FBI agents placed taps on her telephone line, monitored her mail and followed her as she traveled. Neighbors claimed that Coplon was quiet and did not entertain male guest in her apartment. Surveillance, however, indicated that she engaged in sexual affairs with several men, presumably for the purpose of obtaining classified information.

Often traveled to New York City on the weekends, often asking to leave from work early on Fridays. Took classified documents home with her and retyped them. Gave the retyped documents to Gubitchev when she visited him in New York.

Requested a special document containing a list of suspected Soviet spies. Director Hoover personally delivered a fake version of the document to Coplon’s supervisor, who immediately provided it to her. Coplon, upon receiving the document requested the rest of the day off and then traveled to New York for the weekend (followed by FBI agents – January 14, 1949).

Was trailed by FBI agents around Manhattan until she finally met with Gubitchen in a restaurant. After exchanging documents, the couple left and boarded a subway train. As the doors to the train were closing, Gubitchev bolted from the train and evaded the trailing FBI agents.

At this point, the FBI had enough to bag Coplon, but they wanted her Russian contact, an intelligence officer using the name Valentin Gubitchev and under official cover as an employee of the United Nations, arguably the greatest CONUS nexus of foreign intelligence gathering. So they shuffled her to a new position… and kept a weather eye on her.

Judith Coplon - spymuseum.comHaving been observed passing documents, Coplon was transferred to another division of the Department of Justice, in order to keep her away from sensitive documents. Coplon continued to seek access to such documents, volunteering to aid her replacement in getting up to speed.

Requested additional classified information that her supervisor had recently obtained (fake information received from Hoover). Her supervisor left the information in Coplon’s view and left the room. Coplon left the room and caught a train to New York (March 6, 1949).

Coplon and Gubitchev were caught red-handed. Gubitchev had had diplomatic cover earlier as a member of the Soviet Delegation, but when he took the UN employee job he exposed himself to American law; he was tried and convicted. Coplon was defended by a mysteriously (cough Soviet cough) funded Dream Team of lawyers, and supported by a vociferous lobby of left-leaning literati, press and public members in Washington and New York, but she was still convicted.

It wasn’t the end for her, though, as her pro-Soviet lawyers didn’t give up: she married one of her attorneys, Albert Socolov, who helped get her off on technicalities on appeal. Socolov was himself both a WWII US Military veteran and a suspected Soviet agent or fellow traveler. In her obituary, her daughter Emily fences around Judith’s treachery (and suggests that she’s no more loyal than her mom):

It’s very hair-raising to read about your mother being given a code name and moved around like a chess piece. Was she a spy? I think it’s another question that I ask: Was she part of a community that felt that they were going to bring, by their actions, an age of peace and justice and an equal share for all and the abolishing of color lines and class lines?

Honey, if you think that’s what the USSR stood for, you slept through the 20th Century.

If these were things that she actually did, she was not defining them as espionage. If you feel that what you’re doing answers to a higher ideal, it’s not treason.

Sorry. Treason you got away with is still treason. Had justice truly prevailed, Judith would have been hanged, and Emily never born.

The Coplon case was, for both the American security authorities, and the Soviets’ Fifth Column of American Traitors and supporters like the lawyers, an important dry run for the imminent Rosenberg and Alger Hiss cases. Three groups of traitors, three different cases, three different outcomes.

In any event, the Spy Museum site will introduce you to a lot of spies like the late, unlamented Judith Coplon, and give you a rundown on the famous ones like Walker, Hanssen, and Pollard (as well as our famous spies in the adversary’s services, like Penkovskiy and Pacepa).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Refugee Resettlement Watch

refugee_resettlement_watch_screenshotWe’re so far behind that we’re going to put this up with a very minimal plug (sorry). But Ann Corcoran’s Refugee Resettlement Watch has been doing God’s work for years on a problem that rose into the consciousness of many people only much more recently.

That problem? The US’s out-of-control refugee policy, which has produced such great Americans as the Boston Marathon bombers. Ann Corcoran, the force of nature behind RRW, has also written a book-length exposé of the problem, Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America, available in hard copy or e-book from Amazon or free as a .pdf from the Center for Security Policy.

One of the more annoying things is that the Beltway panjandrums who implement this ruinous policy don’t accept the consequences themselves. Functionally zero refugees are resettled in the National Capital Area.

And one thing Corcoran has pointed out here, again and again, is that the policy is largely set by the paid lobbyists who work for allegedly “non-profit” resettlement profiteers, and that Congress has completely abdicated their duty to exercise oversight and control.

Wonder why there’s a Somali organized crime ring in your city or state? Read RRW, and wonder no more.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Jeff Cooper Books

Jeff-Cooper-.45-The-Guru-for-the-Big-Bore-GunJeff Cooper is gone, but the wisdom of the very opinionated pistol expert and Marine Colonel lives on as the underpinning of practical shooting — whether you’re talking about “practical” as in competition, or “practical” as in a back alley.

The Cooper family maintains a website, where you can order some of Cooper’s books even today — they even have a small supply of irreplaceable signed, leatherbound copies.

Welcome to Jeff Cooper Books, the official website of Jeff Cooper and Wisdom Publishing.

Jeff Cooper was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1920. He was educated at Stanford University and took his advanced degree from the University of California. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1941 and served throughout World War II in the Pacific, achieving the rank of Major. Recalled to active duty for the Korean War, he moved up one rank to Lieutenant Colonel before leaving the service.

Cooper has been a shottist since the age of eleven, and in 1958 he originated the sport of practical pistol competition. From this activity he formulated the Modern Technique of the Pistol, now generally observed throughout the world. For the next thirty years he was active in teaching the new method throughout the Western World.

Here ’tis, Cooper fans: http://jeffcooperbooks.com/jml/index.php

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Second City Cop

second_city_copWe find it hard to believe that, for all the times we’ve quoted, cited, or just flat chortled at the Second City Cop blog, we’ve never made it Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week.

Oversight, fixed.

SCC is one of the only two websites you ever need to read to understand crime in Chicongo (and in Chicagoland generally) and why the ineffectual official response to the same has been so, well ineffectual. (The other website is HeyJackass.com).

It’s because Chicago City management (Mayor and Aldermen and all their minions) and the senior appointed leadership and sucked-up-and-moved-up white shirts in the Chicago Police Department have problems with competence and character.

Competence? Yeah. Most of them couldn’t pour piss out of a boot, if the instructions were written on the heel.

Character? If Chicago ever wants to hold a reunion of its Aldermen, do you have any idea how many prison transfers would have to take place?

Of course, there’s competence and character in the Chicago Police Department, mostly in the blue shirts and in the actual, case-working, line-dog detectives. And Second City Cop is there to write about it — and about the management’s ongoing efforts to stamp it out, wherever found.

If you’re a Chicagoan, this stuff is, unfortunately, life or death for you. For the rest of us, it’s entertainment (and such entertainment!), albeit with a dash of black humor.

Second City Cop. Spend some time there and you’ll have a different angle on police work, for sure. It’s not like those TV cop shows, is it?

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Soviet Armorer

We won’t go deep into the weeds on what you can find here. Notes of a Soviet Armorer is an occasionally-updated (last in March) detailed review of aspects of historical Soviet weapons, especially the weapons of the Great Patriotic War. He takes information from Soviet-era archival sources, and Russian-language firearms forums, and posts rare but in-depth examinations of Soviet small arms questions.

SVT sniper

We could go into greater depth, but we’ll just refer you to his post on Tokarev SVT sniper rifles, which includes serial number lists and production counts. Most “SVT snipers” in the USA or here in the West in general are fakes and forgeries, so it’s worthwhile to see what Russian sources say about these rare firearms. (The rifle and scope are relatively common. The mount? Vast majority out there are fake). He also has a post with entire photo galleries of real period photos of snipers armed with these elegant sniper rifles.

If that’s not enough for you, here’s a comprehensive examination of Soviet-era ammo pouches as used with the SVT and Mosin-Nagant rifles.

Good stuff. If you collect Russian stuff, maybe priceless.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Aquellas Armas de Guerra

w4_aquellas_armasYep, this week’s W4 is en español. The name, Aquellas Armas de Guerra, translates as “Those Weapons of War,” more or less, and it goes on in great depth on particular arms, with many photographs and illustrations.

For example, the most recent post, “Steel Rain,”  is on multiple rocket launchers. It’s timely, because Vietnam has been placing long range EXTRA rockets (made by Israeli Military Industries) on islands it controls in the Spratly archipelago, to contest Chinese territorial claims in the region. (The Philippines also has conflicting claims in the area). The EXTRA is designed to be fired from the LAR-160, Israel’s home-designed multiple rocket launcher, and features extended range and improved accuracy (10 meter CEP). A version with the terminal guidance, but without the extended range, is called ACCULAR.

A previous post covered depth charges in similar, well, depth. These weapons seem like they’d be dull cans of simple high explosives, but there are a wide number of national and historical variations on them.

There are only occasional posts, but they’re good when they do show up. They can be useful in teaching a weapons-savvy person Spanish technical vocabulary, or you can simply punt, and instead of going to the main page to start, simply begin with Google Translate‘s version, and soak up the facts delivered in these stories.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Royston Colour

We often lose the feeling of immediacy when looking at old photographs. Their black-and-white silver-based film somehow leaches not only the color out of the picture, but also the life. True, if you’re a historian you thrill to a good picture of a key individual, unit, piece of equipment or (especially) moment, and a lot of those old pictures were taken with very high quality cameras onto large glass or film negatives. But how sad it is they are not in color!

Enter Royston Colour (facebook link). This guy, presumably the eponymous Royston (Leonard), colorizes period photos and brings them to life, and his principal interest seems to be military history (although he’ll certainly do a period picture for the sheer art of it).

Here’s an example of one of those perfectly composes Speed Graphic images from the US national archives…

royston - korean war jets before

…and here’s what Royston has done with it. His OD Green is a little too green, but other than that, his color makes the image of a Korean frontline airfield come to life. Moreover, on his page, he recounts the fate of each of the F-86 Sabres in the foreground (archival information about US aircraft abounds).

royston - korean war jets

Marines or soldiers on Guam, one of the last battles of the Pacific War, pass two knocked-out Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go tanks.

Japanese t-95 ha-go tanks guam 44 royston

We know this picture came from Stalingrad. We even know this tough-looking German’s name (Hauptmann Friedrich Konrad Winkler), his provenance (a prewar volunteer, he was commissioned from the ranks, not unusual in the Wehrmacht) and fate (he was taken alive by the Soviets in February 1943, but like most who fell captive in the East, died in captivity). The Germans treated Russian prisoners, but not Americans or Englishmen, just as badly as the Russians treated theirs; war in the East was war beyond civilized norms. It might as well have been no quarter asked or given; both sides’ soldiers feared captivity more than death.

royston stalingrad

He’s using a Russian PPSh submachine gun (the Germans used them in 7.62mm and converted to 9mm) and his helmet cover is Red Army camouflage material. The picture was taken during the defense of the Barrikady factory complex in the north of Stalingrad, presumably by a German field camera unit; they and their pictures must have been captured by the Soviets.

Royston has quite a few Stalingrad pictures, and they’re reminiscent in the bleakness of their terrain and what they hint about the horror of the fight there, to his many pictures of World War I.

Finally, he also dabbles in restoration. Can this image, double-exposed and with a broken glass plate, be restored?

Royston Ruined

Here’s how Royston did:

Royston Restored

That was a couple of weeks’ work. Still, somebody needs to hire this guy — the Imperial War Museum, perhaps. Meanwhile we can all enjoy his work at the site.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: WWII after WWII

wwii_after_wwiiOne of the greatest things about being a kid growing up in the 1960s, was the “Army Navy store”.  As late as 1975, 30 years after VJ Day, these stores were still full of piles and boxes of new equipment that had been made for World War II, but then disposed of afterwards because, with the war over, no one was going to need to equip an army of millions of men any time soon.

It was a boy’s paradise — everything from huge, double-sized BAR mockups to M1 Rifle grenade-launcher sights, new and in the wrappers or cosmoline, all for a minute percentage of what Uncle Sam had paid for them.

Bigger things were sold off, too: after the war, air races featuring leftover fighters were common. One race pilot, Tony LeVier, bought an F-5 (a photoreconnaissance version of the P-38) for, if we recall right, $1,500 and entered it in these competitions. He had his choice of hundreds of the planes; the vast majority, the ones that didn’t become race planes or rich men’s toys went to the smelter.

Transport planes, available for pennies on the dollar, launched almost all postwar airlines. Warships went into mothballs, but auxiliaries had short, expendable careers hauling freight and launched many a Greek shipping fortune. The reuse of all this valuable leftover World War II kit is the point of tonight’s Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, WWII After WWII.

Militaries, of course, reused World War II gear in many ways themselves, and for a very long time. And the superpowers and colonial powers delivered their surplus tanks and artillery pieces to their allies, colonies, or new states with which they wanted to curry favor. The Israelis used (extensively improved) Sherman tanks in reserve units as late as the Yom Kippur War of October, 1973. And here’s a wartime Soviet SU-100 — just captured by these -2) Houthis in Yemen in 2014.

Yemeni Houthi captured Su100 2014

That SU-100 photo comes from onight’s remarkable Wednesday Weapons Websit eof the Week, which is called “WWII After WWII” and tries to document the long tale of consequences for World War II weapons and their makers, from Navy carrier tests of the German A-4 (V-2) missile, to the decline and fall of aircraft makers Curtiss-Wright (made from the merger of the two earliest American aircraft industrial firms) and Brewster. Curtiss-Wright made a series of bad product decisions that ultimately left it with nothing to sell. But with Brewster, the leadership was so bad (and so crooked) that the quality of decision-making barely registered among the reasons for failure. They hired con men (released from prison!) as salesmen, for one thing: never a solid basis for a going concern, that.

We’re not surprised to see trade unionism also implicated in Brewster’s demise:

The lowest point came on 23 August 1943, when the local United Auto Workers union at the plant went on strike, breaking the overall nationwide “no strikes until victory” motto. The strike was due to petty gripes between union security guards and US Coast Guard personnel patrolling the base. The saddest spectacle was a horrifying interview that the local union boss, Thomas de Lorenzo, gave to the Washington Post newspaper. He stated with no shame that he was fine with American troops dying because of the strike, as long as union privileges were preserved. The national UAW quickly distanced itself from the strike which ended shortly thereafter. (de Lorenzo’s big mouth attracted IRS attention and he was later jailed for income tax fraud.

For all that we’re willing to believe the worst of the UAW, under the labor-friendly Roosevelt Administration almost all wartime industrial plants were unionized, and apart from some difficulties with the mine workers, American union leaders and union men did their part and produced for the war. In this, as in so many things, Brewster was unique in its ruin.

Henry Kaiser actually managed to turn Brewster around, to a degree. But when he was called on to more urgent tasks, it collapsed back into incompetence and ruin, a tale told well by WWII After WWII.

It’s not all tanks, airplane factories, and German missile technology at WWII After WWII. If you’re interested in small arms, here’s some insight on the postwar careers of the British Lanchester submachine gun (which sailed on into the 1970s with the Royal Navy, and had several foreign connections), and the German StG 44 in Africa, and an interesting case study of German weapons in Viet Cong use.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Partisan Rifles

partisanriflesThis is a site that deserves a lengthy write-up, but for now we’ll just hit the high points. We do promise you that, if you are interested in obscure European 20th-Century history, or in Mittel- and Eastern European firearms, spending time at Partisan Rifles will reward you handsomely.

The author of the site, who goes by the nickname — we are not making this up! — “Hairy Greek,”  expresses clearly what his site is all about:

This site is dedicated to rifles from the Balkans region – the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia), Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, and also Italy, Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Turkey – especially those rifles with soldier graffiti on them.  I cover anything I can get my hands on, which is mainly WWI to WWII, though there are many examples from the earlier Balkan Wars, and recent Croatian and Bosnian Wars.  While not technically in the Balkans, I have found some fascinating rifles from the Spanish Civil War, and will include those also.

Balkans-region rifles from the 1800’s and earlier have shown me that decorating rifles was a common practice, possibly stemming from Turkish or Middle Eastern decorations.  This tradition has been carried on well into the 1990’s.  A number of the region’s rifles bear initials, names, cities, dates, kill counts, and political symbols on them.  Most of these markings were made by non-government irregular forces, or militia members.  These markings create a historical journey by showing who used the rifle, where and when.  For example, the above rifle was most likely captured from the Italians by Tito Partisans in WWII.

Every old firearm has a story to tell, and on some of these the story is carved right into the wood of the stock. Fascinating site.

PS — he’s got some really flashy Montenegrin Gassers, a revolver we discussed recently.