Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

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.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Shipwreckology

shipwreckologyAnd now for something completely different!

Who doesn’t love a shipwreck? The ships, the crews, the wars and the weather — every wreck has a story to tell, and at Shipwreckology they make an effort to tell that story. It’s seldom updated these days (a book review posted last week was the first sign of life since February) but there’s a mountain of old posts to explore.

One post we’d recommend as a fair sample is 2014’s Cleopatra’s Needle. Saw this artifact in London, but it would have meant something had we known this story at the time.

Enjoy!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Hungarian Police (Archive)

During the years of the Hungarian quisling regime, 1948-56 and 1956-90, the highly militarized Hungarian Police (Magyar Rendor) published a small magazine, containing photos of cops just doing their thing, marching up and down the square, demanding to see the peasants’ papers, and suppressing dissent.

hungarian police 50The magazine Hungarian Police had some teething problems, of the sort that go with writing and publishing anything in a police state. The first editor was, after a few months, taken out and walked through a show trial before being shot. But a new editor was found… in time, personnel actions came to be made without recourse to a firing squad.

The magazine’s photo archive has been posted online, with minimal (and Hungarian-language) captions.

Hungarian sources pose particular linguistic challenges. While we can read most European languages, the Baltic States, Finland… and Hungary, have jawbreaker tongues that are not as closely related to one another as the Romance, Germanic, and Slavic languages of the rest of the Old World. Even the Google Translate of Hungarian sources is rough, and, to make matters worse, the archive page is not one in which Google Translate can follow the links.

Still, we can figure parts of it out. Here are policemen recovering a cache of Mauser rifles.

hungarian police 87

And these images show a “rural identity check.” This is the dreaded moment when the regime’s facilitator demands, “Papers, please!” or just plain, “Papers!” The guys with armbands are a civilian police auxiliary — dependable Communists playing goon-for-the-day.

hungarian police volunteers paper checks 2 hungarian police volunteers paper checks hungarian police volunteersOther pictures reveal details about the activities and dress and equipment of the uniformed police (if the secret police had a house magazine, its photo archive has not surfaced. But if they had a house magazine, they’d probably have been a bust as a secret police).

From the same story on identity checks in a rural area, have a look at the policeman’s holster in the next two pictures.

hungarian police note holster hungarian police note holster 2

It’s hard to tell what sort of pistol he has in there, but it seems probable that it’s a Hungarian-made Tokarev, because the holster resembles other Tokarev holsters (including the cleaning rod storage, etc.).

What is interesting is what the armament says about the expectations of the Hungarian Police. The lack of long arms, and the classically European flap holsters, as much as the cop’s body language, suggests that these cops are not expecting trouble. The pistol is not there because they’re expecting to shoot people, or compel people at gunpoint; it’s a badge of office, no more.

That’s very interesting, because these photographs ran, and probably were taken, short months before Hungary convulsed in the Revolution of October 1956.

In any event, you’ll probably find something interesting in the Magyar Rendor archives — this week’s Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Set Europe Ablaze

set_europe_ablazeBritish historian Nigel Perrin’s blog, Set Europe Ablazetakes a somewhat opposite approach to this one: instead of generating a lot of posts, he generates few posts, but each one is of superior quality, and of great interest if you are interested in the secret war in Europe 1939-45.

While it’s mostly about the SOE special operations organization — the command, “Set Europe ablaze!” was Churchill’s command to the organization’s first leader — it also includes some information about the separate MI-8 POW escape and evasion network, and (if memory serves us well), the networks of the Secret Intelligence Service. (SIS materials have not been as thoroughly and completely declassified as SOE ones which are a treasure trove in the British National Archives. We suspect this is because of an ongoing concern with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, but we don’t know).

This was a high-stakes war, and the Germans were quite good at it, and utterly ruthless. (Not as good as the equally ruthless Russians, as we’d learn trying to run OSS/SOE tactics against the Soviet Union and Satellite nations postwar). The fate of the Interallié network (which was organized by Polish intelligence officer Roman Czerniawski (Cher-nee-AHFF-ski), is instructive.

Among them were two Polish émigrés, Wladimir de Korczak Lipski and his teenage daughter Lydia, both of whom Czerniawski had personally recruited. For nearly a year they had worked together as a team, collecting details of troop movements, noting the positions of anti-aircraft batteries, running errands, quietly doing whatever was asked of them. Lydia’s passion was for dancing but she also discovered a talent for technical drawing and often copied blueprints of factories and German military installations for Interallié’s regular courier to London; the network codenamed her Cipinka.

On 18 November 1941, Czerniawski was arrested with his mistress, and the collapse of Interallié soon followed. Within hours his deputy, the extraordinary Mathilde Carré, began giving up nearly everyone she knew, and four days later she led the German secret police to the de Lipski’s Montmartre apartment. Not yet seventeen, Lydia would spend the next eighteen months in miserable conditions in La Santé and Fresnes prisons, sometimes in solitary confinement. Smuggling in notes to her, Wladimir tried to keep up her spirits; in one he wrote, “Do not forget that you have great talents, and that one day you can have a beautiful and happy life”. They were reunited briefly at the fortress at Romainville on the outskirts of Paris, but in July 1943 Lydia was deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp. There she spent several months in the punishment block, which regularly supplied human guinea-pigs for medical experiments.

Remarkably, both Lydia and her father, who was deported to KZ Ravensbrück, survived.  In fact, most of the forty agents of Interallié survived. But about that German ruthlessness:

[Czerniawski] and more than fifty of his agents were arrested by the Abwehr. Some agreed to collaborate, but Czerniawski held his nerve and cleverly conned his interrogators into sending him to London as a double agent. There was one condition to his freedom, however: as insurance against any further treachery, Czerniawski’s agents would be held as hostages. If he cooperated, his comrades would be safe. If he decided to change sides again or renege on the deal in any way, they would suffer the consequences.

But once in England Czerniawski did turn again, and as MI5’s agent “Brutus” he became one of the heroes of its double-cross system and a crucial player in the success of the D-Day deception strategy. His MI5 case officers did a tremendous job in fooling Czerniawski’s handlers, and to the end the German High Command’s faith in Brutus’s reports remained unshakeable.

If so, how did the de Lipskis wind up in concentration camps? Write this down: you can’t trust a hostile intelligence officer.  Perrin found out that the Germans were as treacherous as they were skilled:

The Abwehr did not keep its promise.

Shocking, I know. “The Allied services never did something like that!” The hell we didn’t. The concentration camps, no. (Well, Russia as an ally had its own). The medical experiments, no. (USSR? Maybe. But we think Biopreparat used ordinary domestic convicts as its test animals, not politicals). But as far as lying to some agent? If the case officer ever tells the agent the truth, it is only because the truth best serves the officer’s purpose at that time.

Beginning in March 1943, a total of forty of Czerniawski’s agents were packed aboard trucks and deported to concentration camps in Germany; classed as “Nacht und Nebel” (Night and Fog) prisoners – political opponents of the Nazis – they could expect the most brutal treatment and were unlikely ever to see France again.

It may be indicative of the care with which Czerniawski selected his agents for Interallié that a remarkable 33 of the 40 returned to France; but luck was also a factor, when any guard was free to beat a prisoner to death for any or no reason, and capricious disease might kill one, sicken a second, and pass over a third entirely.

A great deal of this sort of research is archived within Perrin’s blog, even if his posts these days tend to be short notes of Resistance obituaries — every one fascinating — or tips to his own book reviews in Times Literary Supplement, which are unfortunately not available except to readers of the dead-tree TLS.

(Editor’s Note: due to an editorial oversight, this post was not delivered on time but was posted approximately 10 hours behind schedule. It has been backdated to fit in where it belongs. We regret the error). 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Nuclear Archives

FOOM!

FOOM!

It’s obsolete, it’s defunct, and it hasn’t been touched in nine years. But it’s still worth looking at. It’s the Nuclear Weapons Archive, last updated in 2007 after a rocky ride around various sponsoring non-profits and hosting sites, and it’s full of interesting nuclear documents, like this short British run-down on what it will take to make His Majesty’s first nuke, as of 1947. (The link is to a .pdf).

Another, similarly defunct site that was a parallel and cooperative site with the Nuclear Weapons Archive was the Trinity Atomic Web Site, which appears to have assumed ambient temperature in 2005, but exists in a sort of undead (and un-updated) state.

But if you really want to understand the technical factors involved in the production of the first A-Bombs, factors that are often glossed over by highly verbal but innumerate and scientifically weak writers, you need to buy one book: Atom Bombs by John Coster-Mullen.

Coster-Mullen is not a professional historian or archivist, but you would never know that from his book. (He is actually — we are not making this up! — a truck driver). Through sheer determination and hard work, he mastered the subject and wrote the definitive work on it (with equally definitive documentation and illustrations). If you go to the Amazon link, and select all buying options, the seller coster60 is the author himself.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Navy History & Heritage

naval_history___heritageIf you’re here, you probably like to read. You probably like history. You’re probably going to like this site: The Naval History and Heritage Command.

Lately, the Command has followed the rest of the Navy down the Diversity is Our Vibrancy!® rathole, but when you’ve skipped past all that drivel on the front page, you get to the Research page, shown here on the right. The page offers a Navy timeline which can be handy to confirm just where a particular ship, battle, officer or weapon came into play.  It also offers the following subdivisions:

  1. Archives – Primary documents up the wazoo, including operation reports and deck logs, plus a killer trove of digitized documents. Try the list of documents keyed ordnance, or this dictionary of bronze-cannon-era ordnance terms for a taste of what’s there.
  2. Histories — official histories and biographies.
  3. Library — literally too many things to describe here, lots of ’em good. Sadly (and this is true for all of this site, generally) the documents are generally not downloadable as .pdfs or ebooks, but are only presented as 1990s-style HTML pages.
  4. Publications —  a wide range, again, of rather haphazardly organized material.
  5. Underwater Archaeology — what’s been found under the sea, ship and aircraft wrecks.

The basic problem of the site is its haphazard organization or lack of the same, which limits the prospect of finding anything in particular; but it can be well worthwhile to simply follow the breezes of Serendip through the site.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: All4Shooters.com

all4shooterscomWant to see how the other half lives? For Yanks (and Canucks), a visit to the pan-European website All4Shooters.com will let you know what an international community of shooters is doing. While the site was created by a German firearms-media firm, it’s becoming a trusted source for information about the European market and it’s probably the best place to see Eurozone firms promote their firearms and shooting-sports accessories to their home-continent customers.

You may learn more than you expected about upland hunting in Italy, collecting in Belgium, or products created for sports that are popular in Europe but not here.

In some ways, it reminds us of where the American gun culture was forty or fifty years ago. Looking through old gun magazines, one is struck by the much greater roles played by formal competition, and how some sports have died (quick-draw competitions) and others have been born (practical pistol and 2- and 3-gun). A gun magazine in 1966 was more likely to put a pheasant-hunting scene on the cover than a defense pistol, and was unlikely to have much to say about gun law or gun rights. Indeed, gun rights in 1966 didn’t include the right to carry one, in most States. America in 1966 was a lot like Europe in 2016 that way. What became a rights revolution in America started with the legislative overreach of Tom Dodd’s Nazi-derived Gun Control Act (which passed in 1968, after Dodd had been censured and left the Senate over unrelated corruption) and the botched ATF raid that killed Kenyon Ballew in 1970; these two overreaches triggered a grassroots backlash that has led to today’s very different gun culture: concealed carry is legal in most states, in nine of them with no permit at all; and guns of all kinds have never been more widely distributed to peaceable people, nor more used for lawful ends.

Europe today reminds us of America before that ball got rolling, and we see European guys and gals with levers all around their version of the ball. It rolls slowly at first, friends. But your efforts are worthwhile.

The site is decidedly apolitical, although it reports on gun laws in Europe and on gun rights organizations (which fight just as hard, against much more entrenched officialdom and with much less assistance from the dead hands of Constitution writers, than our champions here in the Western Hemisphere).

European gun, sport-shooting, and hunting culture is both like and unlike ours. They still have hunters, competitors, and collectors like we do, but their hunting is different. In Central Europe it’s very formalized, in part because of hunters’ tradition and in part because of population density. In England, it is the now nearly extinct recreation of a nearly extinct nobility and gentry.

Everywhere the laws are different, and different from those in the USA. But that is because the local culture and history is different. The biggest threat to the European sportsman is, these days, the rise of the European bureaucrat, where deracinated and rootless commissars in Brussels are closet Caesars, dreaming of completing the interrupted unification that eluded Napoleon and Hitler. (These are the cretins who are pushing to rename World War II — we are not making this up — the European Civil War — in effect, conceding Hitler’s point).

But while Europe may still be in the Dark Ages as far as the rights of man are concerned, it’s still a hotbed of firearms development and innovation, not to mention the cradle of a great deal of firearms history. This gets covered extensively at all4shooters.com, which is trying to be the portal for Euro gunnies. An example of new development is the Schmeisser SLP-9, which turns out to be a rebranding of a Montenegrin Glock-off called the TARA TM-9 at home; an example of history coverage is the fascinating story of the founder of the German Rottweil ammunition plant, Max von Duttenhofer. (Rottweil is most famous, of course, for its native dog; but it is also the future home of the world’s highest elevator-testing tower, and perhaps a pedestrian suspension bridge a half-mile long). (The ammo plant in Rottweil is now closed and repurposed for many, mostly cultural, purposes; and Rottweil ammuntion is made in Fürth in Franconia (a region in the state of Bavaria).

A good series of basic technical articles by Max Popenker (still an ongoing series) introduces operating systems: blowback, delayed blowback, and recoil are the ones produced to date (can “gas” be next? Probably). A4S collects all technical articles in a single category.

The English translations of other languages’ articles occasionally have one or two small things that let you know that they were not developed by a native speaker, but if you’re not looking for them, you may miss them. Sometimes All4Shooters has articles in some languages but not others, so if you’re multilingual don’t restrict yourself to the English (or your native language) articles.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: NylonRifles.com

nylonrifles_dot_com_websiteWe have a brief one tonight, and it’s off our usual topic of service weapons. And thereby hangs a tale. If you were fortunate enough to grow up in the 1960s, you not only experienced a golden age of pop music and auto design, you also grew up in era of the Space Age, atomic energy, and the incredible wonder material, Plastic. These things together were going to revolutionize everything. We saw this at the 1964 worlds fair in New York. By the turn-of-the-century, people would be working or vacationing in orbit or on other planets, keeping their personal helicopters with plastic bubble canopies their garages, and commuting by jet pack.

While the future is not what it used to be, we can look into the past and see that Remington offered a Space Age rifle to its customers: the Nylon 66. We always thought them name came from the year of introduction — 1966, when even the Beatles had a Rubber Soul — but 1966 just when we first saw one. It actually was introduced in 1959, and was named after the material used for the rifles unitary stock/receiver, DuPont’s Nylon 6/6.

It seemed like a brilliant idea. After all, the boys in the field had a “plastic” gun, isn’t it time the casual plinker had one, too?

Lots of Nylon 66s

The Nylon 66 also had Buck Rogers styling with swoopy, “artistic” (traditionalists said “cartoonish”) lines. Indeed, your opinion of the Nylon 66 was unlikely to be neutral: early adopters loved ’em, and traditionalists — and most gun buyers are traditionalists — were aghast. When Uncle Jim showed up with one of these new rifles, our Winchester suddenly seemed frumpy, dowdy and cobwebbed next to this new ray gun. (What can we say? At that age, we actually did read comic books).

The story of the Nylon 66 and its plastic stablemates is told at NylonRifles.com

nylon_66_maintenance_manual

One thing the site offers is a collection of old manuals, including maintenance information.

While there was a great deal of engineering in the Nylon 66 — worked out by both DuPont and Remington working together — it gave a strong impression of being fashion forward, and in 15 or 20 years they looked as dated as the 1966 Plymouth Barracuda, unlike the “classic” Winchester. One fashion decision was for the gun to load its tubular magazine through the butt, which prevented the N66 from having the clunky underbarrel magazine tube of most semi .22s, but at the cost of lower ammo capacity. Did that matter, in a plinking and small-game gun? The squirrels weren’t shooting back; suppressive fire wouldn’t fill the pot.

DuPont was in it to win it, “it” being a share of the plastic rifle market, and was behind Remington as the New York gunmaker expanded the line. In time, or at various times, it included guns with green and black stocks, chromed (not nickeled!) rifles, magazine-fed Nylons (the Nylon 77), special models for high-volume retailers, and .22 short Nylons for shooting galleries (remember them?) Most of these models were short-lived. The shortest lifespans were for the bolt-action versions — gaudy Space Age styling applied to the traditionalist’s choice of action was a pretty good way to count down sales to zero.

Anyway you look at these guns: as marketing lessons learned, as examples of engineering problem-solving, or as cultural and historical artifacts, they’re fascinating. Which brings us to our Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: NylonRifles.com. NylonRifles.com is a bit haphazard, but it’s more information on these guns than you’re going to find anywhere else. Here’s the site’s own overview:

There were about 1,050,000 Nylon 66s made. The standard model had a brown stock (called Mohawk Brown) with blue metal. It was a tube fed through the stock semi auto. Variations included a green stocked version (Seneca Green), a black stock and chrome receiver version called “Apache black” and a black stock rifle with a blued receiver cover called the “Black Diamond”.

via NylonRifles.com » Introduction to the Remington Nylon Rifles.

Naturally, the images in the post come from the site.

The last gasp of the Nylon 66 came in 1989, with the costly injection-molding molds on their last legs. It would have cost Remington a fortune to keep producing what was, by that point, a retro-60s-nostalgia piece. And the Chinese were making a decent knockoff that was already underselling the genuine Remington with its aging but fully-amortized and -depreciated production tooling.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Max Velocity Tactical

max_velocity_tactical_webpageA long time ago a commenter recommended this site, Max Velocity Tactical, as a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week. And indeed, we’ve read it from time to time, and it seems to be a pretty good and sensible discussion of fitness, tactics, and so forth. It’s primarily a vehicle for tactical training, both by word and by promoting “Max’s” books and, especially, tactical training classes.

The training classes include people with all levels of training and experience, but they tend to look eerily like military training, because that’s what they are, essentially. Here we have shooting on the move, live-fire. (Note the high instructor-student ratio, a must with live fires, especially with people new to the group and each other).

Max Velocity-CTT-July-Square-Range

The word “tactical” is rather haphazardly strewn about, these days, but in the case of Max Velocity, it fits. If you attend a course, read a book, visit the forum or read the posts on the website you may indeed learn something about tactics — something of some practical use.

Here is another picture that, apart from the mismatched uniforms, might have been snapped at Dahlonega or Camp Mackall (actually, we had mismatched uniforms in Ranger Class 1-83, because Army students had to wear OD green fatigues or OD-107 jungle fatigues, and the other services could wear ERDL camo or the then-new BDUs).

MVT-Training-1

Max encourages students to review and critique training, and these reviews are available on site. There’s also a discussion forum of value.

You never know what gems will show up. For a single current example, this recent report from one of the site’s associates deals with one of the most necessary and, especially when starting out, unpleasant fundamental skills: rucksack marching. Here’s the briefest taste:

[S]tart some run/walks with some added weight.  Don’t start with a full load out.  Just like any other progressive training program, start with 15 lbs and maybe 2-3 miles.  Work up to a goal weight of say 35 lbs.  I would take 4 weeks on this.  Then get off the pavement onto the trails.  This will really start to condition your feet and ankles and lots of other stuff.  At this point you would also switch to your trail runners/light hiking boots (duh) and regular hiking clothes.  Another 4 weeks here.  Then you take it up hill.  This will be  real eye-opener.  You thought you were in shape.  Hell you are in decent shape.  But this is a whole ‘nother level.  Hard to believe you can be breathing hard, close to red-lining when you are just walking up a hill.  But you will.  Another hard 4 weeks (this is based on fitness level, see below).

At each stage, drop the weight, and lower the distance again, and work your way back up to goal load and distance targets.  Speed becomes a relative thing now, because you are moving as fast as you can sustain, for whatever the terrain allows.

I can’t think of any other physical activity that is directly applicable to what we may have to be doing in the future. It is a hell of a lot of work, but it is also immensely satisfying. So get out there and get in touch with your inner Mohican.

The author also makes the point that you should be running. That hits hard here, because Your Humble Bloghost can’t run, and doesn’t even walk so great (when they said don’t turn the MC1-1C below 200 feet, they weren’t just whistling Dixie). Here’s his point:

[M]y running base made a huge difference in being able to switch gears and do serious ruck marching. Your feet, ankles, knees, and other body parts take a serious pounding in this activity. What this tells me is every one who is serious about preparing for uncertain times needs to get out and establish a running-based fitness program. Along with calisthenics, this will prepare you body for the rigors of field work.

If you don’t do this, when it’s go-time, the fitness curve is so steep that your body will inevitably break down, leaving you combat ineffective at the moment you need to be at your best. It’s not just about cardio or muscle strength; it’s also about all that connective tissue being conditioned to take the pounding. Feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back. This goes double for older folks. All that shit is not as supple as it was before so you have to work harder to make sure you stretch it out and strengthen it to take the load.

Now, that’s all from one post, and that by a guest author (but it got us to figure out where the ALICE is… under a bunch of books in the library… and shake it out and take out some of the weight that was in it for an initial shakedown).

Here’s another guest post: a one-post history of the German invasion of Russia, 1941-44, and its consequences for Germany, which along with the crushing of the Japanese Empire constituted the most complete and thorough defeats of nations since the national exterminations of ancient warfare. (Had Stalin, and some Americans such as Baruch had their way, Germany might have gone the rest of the way to the fate of Carthage and Troy).

Many of the real gems that MVT has to deliver you will have to pay for, like the courses and the training plans. This is how he, and his assistant instructors, pay the bills. It is not very expensive for training that can save your life and that of your family (consider this post on the recurring problem of shooting friendlies, and how to avoid it, complete with video of a real puckerful moment where the camera-equipped shooter ceases fire just for an instant because a teammate runs in front of him, oblivious). Even the free parts of the site are very worthwhile, and that would make their dollar value infinite, wouldn’t it?

There are no great mysteries to combat tactics, now “jaw-dropping shortcut” or “One weird trick,” to use the argot of clickbait. There are fundamental principles, which the tactical training programs of every professional armed service in the world follow, and tactics, techniques and procedures, which are variable so long as they preserve the inviolable principles. If your “militia” shoots now and then on a flat range but can’t organize and conduct a patrol, establish a defensive position, or advance by fire and maneuver, it’s not a militia but a mob. (Call it a “nilitia.”) Max and his guys have been working to close this gap, and they deserve recognition and attention.