Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: NavWeaps.com

As a clever reader might deduce from the name NavWeaps.com, the site provides information on Naval Weapons, mostly from the classical 20th Century age of battleship warfare, but with an objective to cover the period from 1880-present.

Extensive technical information resides here: not only on naval guns from AA popguns to ship-shredding 18-inchers, but also on torpedoes, mines, depth charges, rockets and hybrid weapons.

While a lot of sites discuss the main armament of American, British and Japanese capital ships, few go deep into the secondary and tertiary armament of these vessels, and fewer still review the armaments of smaller combatant vessels, or any vessel of secondary seafaring nations, such as Russia, Italy or Austria-Hungary. This site doesn’t get every single gun on every single vessel… yet. But it does seem like that’s their ambition.

Looking at the rise and fall of great guns through history, it’s interesting to see how gun caliber, range, throw weight, and power rose from the dawn of the Dreadnought Era to peak in the great battleships of World War II … and has declined ever since. US Navy ships now have nothing greater than 155mm (approx. 6″) on the Zumwalt class, and 5″ guns on most cruisers and destroyers. (And the ammunition for the 155 is not being procured; the Navy instead wants to convert the Zumwalts to fire the ground forces’ 155mm guided Excalibur rounds, but their first cut at the costs for doing that is $250 million for the engineering, before buying the first bullet — and, of course, before the Pentagon’s usual cost overruns.

The “big gun” on the all-but-defenseless LCS class is a 57mm (~2.3″), also selected for Coast Guard cutters. So if the Navy that Ray Mabus built gets in a war with the Coast Guard, they’ll be at technological parity, at least.

But that was a long and bitter digression, and this post is really about NavWeaps.com. Along with the already-mentioned weapons information, there are some excellent historical articles on some aspect of naval warfare: for example, this one on German radar development.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Håkans Aviation Page

Håkan Gustavsson is a Swede with an unusual area of expertise: the peculiar subset of World War II fighter aces who flew and scored kills in biplanes. These two-winged holdovers from World War I often performed little better than their Great War forebears: they were slow, draggy, had open cockpits, were generally made from tube-and-fabric construction, and were armed with two measly rifle-caliber machine guns. They were sitting ducks for more heavily armed and much faster modern monoplanes.

Welcome to my site about biplane fighter aces, their aircraft and major aerial operations were biplane fighters took part.
The site also contains other aviation related subjects which I find interesting, including information about Swedish voluntary aviators from the Second World War.
If anyone could provide me with corrections/additions, feel free to email me!

 

via Håkans Aviation page – Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War.

We found one of the most interesting pages to be the one on Swedish volunteers in Finnish service. But in general there are more, and more interesting, biplanes and pilots involved in the war, on all sides, than we ever imagined.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: IC on the Record

This Tumblr, Intelligence Community on the Record, is a real-world resource for anyone interested in the US intelligence community. IC on the Record was created by the United States’ intelligence community Powers That Be to react to the public relations shellacking the community and the Obama Administration had taken since the Snowden defection; it remains live in the Trump Administration (we think. Last post was on 1/20).

(President Trump is widely seen has having fences to mend with the community, with both sides having a share of the blame, Trump for blasting the intelligence professionals and the community, which tends to be top-heavy with idle Washington bureaucrats, for leaking documents which appeared to frame Trump. Accordingly, it makes sense that his first vist to any agency was to The Agency (YouTube video of officials’ speeches; Trump beings about a half-hour in). It also makes sense that IC on the Record will survive any admin-change website purge.) 

In case you’ve been under a rock, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden defected to the Russians under a smokescreen of revelations in the media, information calculated to embarrass, shame or disrupt national intelligence operations.

This was made possible, of course, by the overreach of said operations, increasingly targeted on US persons and increasingly abused for reasons beyond foreign intelligence; but to the irritation of insiders, only some of Snowden’s and his media and foreign intelligence service enablers’ accusations have been correct.

(It may be more irritating when the accusations are correct; the FISA court is clearly, for example, a rubber stamp that gives no serious consideration to the constitution or the rights of men, a statement that stings the expensive do-nothing court all the more because it is true. For example, periodically the FISA court rubber-stamps NSA dragnet collection of all American telephony metadata for another period… the actual rubber stamp is, of course, classified).

The site has information in the following categories:

  • Official Statements
  • Declassified Documents
  • Testimony
  • Speeches & Interviews
  • Fact Sheets
  • Oversight & Compliance
  • Video

Of these, the only one of real value is the  Declassified Documents section. Occasionally there is a nugget in congressional testimony. The rest of it is pablum and obfuscation written by PR flacks.

Many of the declassified documents are written by lawyers and they’re worth reading for the many fine-print and exact-terminology ways of obfuscating what their clients, the spymasters building their surveillance state, are actually doing. Here’s an example of that:

http://icontherecord.tumblr.com/tagged/statement

But one thing the tumblr did do is flag us to the DNI’s release of lists of the books and excerpts of the documents that were recovered by the sensitive site exploitation of Osama Bin Laden’s Abbotabad, Pakistan hideout. The third, and they say final, tranche of declassified (and translated) material from Bin Laden’s Bookshelf was published on 19 January 2017.

It includes, inter alia, this gem in a letter to two of Bin Laden’s sons (.pdf), that indicates (1) how sophisticated the Iranian intelligence services have become, and (2) how paranoid Bin Laden had become. (Well, serious people really were out to get him. Was it really paranoia?)

Note:

You and the brethren should remember any questionable action or observation in any hospital in Iran. If they inject you with a shot, this shot might be loaded with a tiny chip. The syringe size may be normal but the needle is expected to be larger than normal size. The chip size may be as long as a seed of grain but very thin and smooth. Notice if they take any of you for an operation, for good or no good reason, and inject you. Make sure to remember any comments about the reasons for setting you free.

Take notes of dates and times of any of such actions.

The Reason for Going to Peshawar:

There are instructions to all brethren to get out of Waziristan. It became clear that the region is well known to the enemy. Upon receiving this message, move immediately into Peshawar. I told the brethren to move their children to inside Pakistan if they fail to go to Peshawar.

We can’t guarantee you’ll find something fascinating like that in every document you pick up from the archive, but you just might.

Makes you wonder what they got that isn’t declassified.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Liberated Manuals

We’re going to be the soul of brevity on this one, because there’s no magic here at Liberated Manuals, it’s just one more source of public-domain military manuals.

They describe their raison d’être as follows:

This website is a comprehensive source of government manuals, in PDF format, free to copy, republish and distribute as you want. The goal of this website is to “liberate” government manuals from the dirty hands of CDROM selling mafia. All manuals are offered at no charge.

Sure, it’s an ugly and basic website, but on the gripping hand, it’s free stuff. What’s not to like?

There’s a list and a search function at the home page. Some of the manuals include (these are all .pdfs):

And one of our personal maintenance favorites:

There’s a lot more than just gun manuals, though. Go there and take a look around!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: The Five Bravo

OK, this has absolutely zip to do with weapons. It’s another t-shirt company by combat vets with a sense of humor, 5 Bravo. (Well, one of the founders was a “small arms specialist” in the Army. Does that count?

The name at first puzzled us. Why “5 Bravo?” There’s an explanation on the site, it turns out.

“Embrace The Bravo” – ETB is the slogan for 5B in a very realistic standpoint. 5B originally meant bullets, bacon, beards, babes, and booze. Now the “Embrace The Bravo” movement has become so much more.

Hmmm… sounds like they’re selling t-shirts. NTTAWWT.

Here, they bust America’s smallest Stolen Valor case.

They also enjoy trolling trolls on Facebook right back. But mostly, they sell apparel, the sort that, well, we wore in Young Grunt Days, which are long behind us.

If you’re still a Young Grunt (or young at heart) you might just want some of these t-shirts.

But we get to the site every once in a while for the laughs. Most of the humor is in the “From the Inbox” section where they conduct countertroll operations. They explain:

As you may know, at 5B, we get a lot of hate mail in our inbox. We get a lot of awesome, motivational and uplifting mail as well, but you don’t wanna look at that. This is what makes us, us. Every day we scour through hundreds of messages hunting trolls for your humor and satire loving pleasure. We are experts in the craft of “Trolling the trolls” so every chance we get, we offer you these screenshots on a silver platter for your entertainment. People always ask us “5B, why don’t you put the names in there with them?” We believe in humor, not harm. We aren’t here to be negative or make anyone’s life harder. we just want to give laughs to millions of people as we do so well. Below, we have archived and will continue to post these EPIC troll messages in our “From the Inbox” section. We love the support, the comments and shares, so keep them coming and always “Embrace The Bravo”

This one is mildly NSFW.

One more such after the jump (not before because it’s full of NSFW lingo).

Continue reading

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Tom Scott’s Things You Might Not Know

Tom Scott is an engaging young Briton who gives you an occasional video — hundreds of them, and counting — under the titles Things You Might Not Know and Amazing Places

His entire YouTube Channel, which so far as we know — we have not seen all the  videos by any means — has little to do with weapons, is fascinating.

Here he tells the story of RAF Fauld, something we’ve been meaning to write about for years (we actually have a partially written post on this, but he hits the high point; Things He Might Not Know include that Britain participated in the Manhattan Project, and was in on the nuke secret from the very beginning, as was Canada. In fact, before the merger, the British project, code named Tube Alloys, was well ahead of their transatlantic allies. Churchill approved a-bomb development over a year before Roosevelt did).

There is the video up at the top, on Swiss water system redundancy. The Swiss were preppin’ before preppin’ was cool.

And there is this — one way nuclear tests are monitored by an internationally maintained infrasound system in remote Qaanaaq, Greenland.

And this — a university tramway whose brain is a repurposed Minuteman missile computer.

Even when he yields up the floor to a guest presenter, like Sally lePage here, the channel’s fascinating.

Yes, it’s not directly weapons related, but we suspect it will be right on target for many WeaponsMan.com readers. He’s got a couple hundred videos (151 Things You Might Not Know) so we’ll see you some time in February.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Waffensammler-Kuratorium

OK, we didn’t get this up on time due to other requirements (had to drive to Boston to pick up Kid who was coming in from the Midwest) and so we’re just throwing one out to you: the Kuratoriums zur Förderung historischer Waffensammlungen, which means “Trustees for the Advancement of Collecting Historic Arms”.

If the Awful German Language is not among your attainments, you can read the Awful Google Translation of the site instead. The intro says (our translation, not Google’s):

Collecting weapons — a Fascinating Hobby

Do you like to look at weapons in museums or displays, and wonder at he gunsmith’s art? Are you interested in their historical background? Then we at the Kuratorium zur Förderung historischer Waffensammlungen have the information you’re after.

Normally we’d say more about it, but time, you know? There are some excellent historical articles, in .pdf format, albeit in German, for you to find. Enjoy.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Manowar’s Hungarian Weapons Page

Behind this 1990s interface lurks more information on Hungarian small arms that you can find anywhere else -- online or off.

Behind this 1990s interface lurks more information on Hungarian small arms that you can find anywhere else — online or off.

For some reason, people don’t think about Hungary when they think about European small arms. Maybe it’s because most of Hungarian history has taken place under somebody’s boot-heel or the other, like the Habsburg Empire or Soviet Union. Or maybe it’s because the Hungarian language is a complex tongue, quite unrelated to Germanic, Slavic or Romance languages, that few foreigners master. (It does, fortunately, borrow some firearms words, as “rifle” is the same in Hungarian and western Slavic languages, “pushka”, for instance).

But Hungary not only has a lot of European charm that’s uniquely its own, it also has its own small arms history. Naturally, there are collectors who focus on that nation and its fascinating small arms history. Those collectors rely on the definitive information at Manowar’s Hungarian Weapons & History page.  (The URL is www.hungariae.com).

manowars_kiralyEarly Hungarian cartridge arms, during the period of the Dual Monarchy, were sometimes Budapest-made variants of Austrian designs, and these less common variants of Mannlicher rifles and Roth-Steyr pistols are sought as variants by Habsburg weapons collectors. But during the brief Hungarian independence 1918-44, Hungarians developed many of their own weapons. The Frommer Stop pistol and the submachines of Király would be standout designs in any nation. His fascinating delayed-blowback lever design was unique (although the French FAMAS rifle owes Király a debt).

manowar_misconceptionsOne of the best things about the site is its “misconceptions” page, a small segment of which is shown at right. For example, we always thought the 7.65 Frommer Stop pistol was chambered for the 7.65 Browning or .32 ACP cartridge — Manowar sets his readers straight on that.

Even if you think you are completely uninterested in Eastern European arms in general, and Hungarian ones specifically, we defy you to spend only a couple of minutes at hungariae.com. We bet you can’t!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Firearms History

firearms_historyThis is a first-time, never-before thing: a second shot at W4 for the same website.

Why? Because Firearms History at blogspot.com has spent most of 2016 doing a deep dive into the history and technology of black powder, starting with the raw materials, and working their way up to industrial production.

A look at as much of the archive menu as we could screencap shows you what we mean. Open up these archives, go to the bottom and find “What is a Saltpeter Man?” and work your way up, if you’re at all interested in how gunpowder — original, black, gunpowder — was and is made.

firearms_history_blackpowder

It’s a priceless resource. There is no other place where all this information is available in one place. It’ll be even better if he follows up with the early history of smokeless powder, which saw simultaneous development of multiple technologies in multiple industrial nations.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: HBSA

We had to go to acronyms or the name of this W4 (see what we did there?) would stretch into Thursday: the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association is a British fraternal organization which at once sponsors competitions with modern (i.e., not muzzleloading “antique”) firearms to the extent that such things are still permitted in Once Great Britain, and tries to defend gun rights, along with larger groups like the hunting-oriented British Association for Shooting and Conservation (144,500 members) and the target-shooting-oriented UK National Rifle Association (~20,000 members). The HBSA is more interested in the historical and collector firearms which are of secondary interest (if that) to the larger groups.

The Rights Battle in Britain

In the United Kingdom (partially excepting Northern Ireland under Home Rule), shooters and collectors lost the cultural battle before they lost one legislative and judicial battle after the next. While, technically, there is a “qualified right” to firearms for British subjects, compared to the status of Americans, Canadians, Australians and even many Continental Europeans, it looks a lot more like a conditionally granted and arbitrarily managed privilege.

As far back as AD 1181, as described by Blackstone’s Commentaries on the (Common) Law, the right to arms was extant, as an “auxiliary right,” but depended on who you were, that is, your station and class of birth (emphasis ours):

The …last auxiliary right of the subject, …is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is … a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation….

You could call that “the clauses that ate the sentence.” Today, the legal battle is well and truly lost; the right of self-defense outside the home was erased in the 1937 Firearms Act, the right inside the home went in 1968, semi-auto and slide-action long guns were confiscated starting in 1988, and all pistols in 1996-7.

Britain’s gun cops continue blaming the dwindling number of legal owners for the roughly thirty firearms murders in the home islands annually. This means the shooters’ associations are stuck fighting a defensive battle in a steadily shrinking perimeter.

So, when you look around Massachusetts, New Jersey or California and think you have it rough, imagine the plight of your English cousins.

The Historic Part

And here is where most of our readers will find more to like about the HSBA. For example, this post recounts some interesting books written or co-written by French expert Jean Huon.

The historical part of the Association is evident in its annual Journal, which is high-quality but very expensive (US $12.49 for a 44-page .pdf download). But the equally interesting Lecture Notes can be downloaded from the site if you have a SlideShare account, or read online even if you don’t. Example: “Medical Aspects of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.”

HSBA has also been instrumental in preserving some fragmentary firearms collections from the rapacious rozzers. Heritage Pistols, are a term of art under the law, must be stored at one of ten ranges nationwide.