Archaeology Find Confirms 1777 Battle Story

Archaeologists are always surprised to find that historical information from contemporary sources, pamphlets, or news stories is confirmed by the results of a dig (probably because they read the New York Times and watch TV news and assume today’s media is fabulistic, in the tradition of yesterday’s). The latest unexpected discovery is this cannon shard which from a New Jersey dig which seems to confirm some details of the October, 1777 Battle of Red Bank, a small but dramatic Continental victory, in which attacking Hessian mercenaries suffered extreme casualties under an artillery and small arms barrage, and the American casualties were light, comprising primarily a single gun crew slain when the gun exploded.

Historians who studied the Battle of Red Bank in 1777 have long known the tragic story of an American gun crew.

It was one of several defending Fort Mercer against a much larger army of Hessian soldiers, who were trying to dislodge them and open up the Delaware River for British ships to supply the Redcoats occupying Philadelphia.

The crew loaded a massive cannon, lit the fuse, and fired – but the breech exploded, killing a dozen members of Rhode Island regiments who were manning the gun and earthworks.

The battle, while a Continental victory, took place amid a series of strategic setbacks and defeats. Washington’s objective had been to cut off Philadelphia as he had in the previous year cut off Boston and forced a British defeat, and much as later in 1776 the British had forced him out of New York. To that end, the campaign that began with the upset of Hessian forces at Princeton and Trenton in December ’76 gave way to a plan to ring Philadelphia round with a number of fortifications. But Washington was in a weak position; he had to be strong at every fort, and he just didn’t have the men. The British, on the other hand, could use the Royal Navy to bring overwhelming force to one fort at a time, as they were not placed well for mutual support.

Hessian Map of the Battle Area

Hessian Map of the Battle Area. Fort Red Bank at lower right. As was customary in the 18th Century (under Vauban’s influence), the map’s legend is in French, which both the English and German officers could understand.

The fortifications at Red Bank were part of this ring around Philadelphia, which British forces had been rolling up through the summer and fall of 1777. A fort named Fort Mifflin stood on a rather insubstantial island in the Delaware called (appropriately) Mud Island, toward the Pennsylvania side; the fort on the Jersey side (in or just south of modern Camden, NJ) was called Fort Mercer (named after Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, a doctor turned warrior who died of wounds from the Battle of Princeton in January, 1777), but not knowing that name, the British called it Red Bank. The forts guarded water obstacles, chevaux-de-frise, and covered those obstacles with the observation and fires necessary to prevent English engineers from dismantling the blockages. To achieve Lord Howe’s strategic objective of the relief of Philadelphia, these forts had to go.

It was Red Bank’s turn to be reduced by amphibious attack on 21 October 1777. The operation was a success, in that the British took the ground they sought; but it was a costly success.  First, here’s the commanding officer’s spin. This is the report of the British commander, General Sir William Howe, in a letter he wrote to Lord George Germaine from Philadelphia on 25 October 1777.

 My Lord,

The enemy having intrenched about 100 men at Red-Bank, upon the Jersey shore, some little distance above Fort Island, Colonel Donop, with three battalions of Hessian grenadiers, the regiment of Mirback, and the infantry, Chasseurs, crossed the Delaware on the 21st instant to Cooper’s Ferry, opposite to this town, with directions to proceed to the attack of that post. The detachment marched a part of the way on the same day, and on the 22nd in the afternoon was before Red Bank; Colonel Donop immediately made the best disposition, and led the troops in the most gallant manner to the assault. They carried an extensive outwork, from which the enemy were driven into an interior intrenchment, which could not be forced without ladders, being eight or nine feet high, with the parapet boarded and fraized. The detachment in moving up, and returning from, the attack, was much galled by the enemy’s gallies and floating batteries.

Colonel Donop and Lieutenant Colonel Minningerode being both wounded, the command devolved upon the Lieutenant Colonel Linsing, who after collecting all the wounded that could be brought off, marched that night about 5 miles towards Cooper’s ferry, and on the following morning returned with the detachment to camp.

Colonel Donop unfortunately had his thigh so much fractured by a musket ball, that he could not be removed; but I since I understand there are some hopes of his recovery. There were several brave Officers lost upon this occasion, in which the utmost ardour and coverage or displayed by both officers and soldiers.

Contemporary woodcut of the Battle of Red Bank.

Contemporary woodcut of the Battle of Red Bank.

On the 23rd, the Augusta, in coming up the river with some other ships of war, to engage the enemies gallies near the Fort, got a-ground and by some accident taking fire in the action, was unavoidably consumed; but I do not hear there were any lives lost. The Merlin sloop also grounded, and the other ships being obliged to remove a distance from the explosion of the Augusta, it became expedient to evacuate and burn her also.

These disappointments, however, will not prevent the most vigorous measures being pursued for the reduction of the Fort, which will give us the passage of the river.

I have the honor to be, &c.

W. Howe.

PS I have the satisfaction to enclose to your Lordship a report just received a very spirited piece of service performed by Major-General Vaughn and Sir James Wallace up the Hudson’s river.

We’d planned on stopping the excerpt here, because Vaughan’s report doesn’t bear directly on the Red Bank fight and the attempted (and ultimately successful) relief of Philadelphia by Crown forces, but we know you guys would ask, and it’s a brief report, and illuminative of Vaughan’s character so here it is:

Copy of Major General Vons report. On board the friendship, off Esopus, Friday, October 17, 10 o’clock, Morning.

Sir,
I have the honor to inform you, that on the evening of the 15th instant I arrived off Esopus; finding that the rebels had thrown up works, and had made every disposition to annoy us, and cut off every communication, I judged it necessary to attack them, the wind being at that time so much against us, we could make no way. I accordingly when did the troops, attacked their batteries, drove them from their works, spiked and destroyed their guns. Esopus being a nursery for almost every villain in the country, I judged it necessary to proceed to that town. On our approach they were drawn up with cannon, which we took, and drove them out of the place. On our entering the town they fired from their houses, which induced me to reduce the place to ashes, which I accordingly did, not leaving a house. We found a considerable quantity of stores of all kinds, which shared the same fate.

Sir James Wallace has destroyed all the shipping except an armed galley, which run up the creek, with everything belonging to the vessels in store.

Our loss is so inconsiderable, this is not at present worthwhile to mention.

I am, &c.
John Vaughn

Esopus, New York, burned by Vaughan’s forces, was the initial capital of the state in rebelliion, so Vaughan’s irritation with the town was on solid ground. The name dated to Colonial Dutch times; when the city was rebuilt it was (and is) known as Kingston, NY. The Esopus fight was much more a British victory than was Red Bank, despite Lord Viscount Howe’s spin in his report above.

christopher-greene2-largeAt Red Bank, the Hessians drew up and demanded a surrender, threatening no quarter. The militia in the fort, under the command of Colonel Christopher Greene, defied the threat and informed the Hessians that no quarter would be given to them. (In the end, it was, and the militia did not murder their prisoners).

The colonials at Red Bank retreated in good order and their primary losses were the gun crew killed by the explosion of the gun; the Hessians suffered hundreds of casualties. But Red Bank was the exception; one after another the British forces levered the Yankees out of their positions and opened the sea roads to Philadelphia.

The Reduction of Fort Mercer at Red Bank. Modern sketch from a period Hessian sketch by Capt. J. Ewald.

The Reduction of Fort Mercer at Red Bank. Modern sketch from a period Hessian sketch by Capt. J. Ewald. The New Jersey militiamen escaped to the left of this sketch (southwest) after killing and wounding 325-400 Hessians. On withdrawal, the Hessians abandoned their wounded who joined other Hessians as prisoners, also.  

Howe’s report is full of spin. He tends to minimize casualties; for example, Colonel von Donop of the Hessians was in no way on the path to recovery, and he shortly died, and while he lists officer casualties in detail he evidences little interest in enlisted casualties, especially among the German mercenaries and local auxiliaries that were the bulk of his force. And he probably knew well that the two ships he lost were lost because of Continental obstacles, and the Augusta (a 64-gun ship of the line) was burnt by American fireships.

The house the Continentals used for their headquarters and hospital, and in which von Donop was treated a prisoner, still stands and is part of the Red Bank National Historic Site. (Von Donop was removed to another house, where he expired from his wounds three days later).

There is a ghost story involving Hessians with mismatched heads.

The surviving Hessians, beaten back by musketry and cannon fire, exfiltrated overland to Woodbury, leaving their casualties behind. The question of Hessians that died with their boots (and heads) still on was one of the things that motivated the modern archaeologists, who descended on the popular park this summer, and they did find buttons and bone fragments that indicate that they may have found a mass grave of the unfortunate Germans. (More analysis of the bones is required before that can be stated as fact).

Red Bank Cannon FragmentBut the most interesting discovery is a large fragment of a cannon breech, taken as being the one that exploded during the battle (we would need to see more documents to make sure the Hessians did not capture and blow up guns also, as it could have been one of those). Still, the archaeological team was not expecting such a historic find.

In the end, Howe kept coming, and he occupied Fort Mifflin on 16 November and Fort Mercer — finally abandoned by the Americans after the fall of Mifflin — on 20 November, 1777. The defenders had bought time, bled the occupying army, and most of them had slipped away to fight another day. Before they could do that, the privations of their winter in Valley Forge lay ahead.

 

 

 

Some days you eat the 3D Bear…

…some days, the bear eats you.

And, it turns out, Ursus trikademensionalis has a number of different ways to put you on the menu.

some days you eat the bear

Not all these prints are bad, and not all the bad prints are unsalvageable, but some of them are the veritable Thalidomide prints that turn an hours-long print job into a face-planting disaster.  Anybody who works with 3D printing at all, whether he’s printing weapons parts, experimental aviation bits, or ghey little Yodas, has a collection of these prints after a while.

Fortunately, some plastics are recyclable. (Some people even have home-grown setups for grinding up the botched prints and turning them back into filament. Those, too, have a number of ways to go nonlinear on you).

Source: https://imgur.com/a/yDzNC#0

The Thin (and Neat) Blue Perv

Newton PDQuick, what would happen to you if systematically used the threat of force (or abused the color of authority) to try to intimidate people into sex with you?

If you’re a gay cop, apparently, not much. A cop named Jason Miller in Newton, New Jersey (where guns are outlawed and the cops are the worst people in a state that starts off with its average below average) used to use blue lights and intimidation as a way to get oral sex from random men and boys.

He’d pull over some guy he took a shine to, and approach the motorists car with, instead of a ticket pad, something, uh, else, in his hand; you could take the ticket or you could kiss him there and make it all better.

Miller either unzipping or (more likely) zipping up. Little of this video was available because he customarily turned his camera off.

Miller either unzipping or (more likely) zipping up. Little of this kind of video was available because he customarily turned his camera off. As you can see, he’s not thin and neat, so the Seinfeld reference in the title doesn’t fit. But we couldn’t resist it anyway.

If a regular guy used a power relationship that blatantly to get sex — say, a professor greeting co-eds at office hours, unzipped and tumescent — the State of New Jersey would zang him so far back in the cellblock that his gruel would have to be delivered by GPS-enabled drones. But a different set of laws apply to the law’s insiders.

Indeed, Jason Miller is a perfect storm of two minorities beloved by prosecutors and courts — gay rapists, and dirty cops. He got away for it for a very long time, until two of the motorists he’d waggled his truncheon at called a tip line and exposed him (pun definitely intended).

The prosecutor forbore to charge Miller with any felony. Furthermore, he’s only asking for sixty days, and, Miller has to promise not to work as a cop any more. In New Jersey. (Hey, the Chester, PA Police Department has room for guys like this).

Jason Miller, 37, appeared before Judge Thomas Critchley in Sussex County Superior Court Monday with his attorney, Anthony Iacullo, for the first time since being arrested in November 2014.

Under the terms of the agreement, Miller pleaded guilty to turning off the video and audio components of his patrol car’s dashboard camera system “to conceal unprofessional and inappropriate conduct” between March 1, 2014 and Oct. 23, 2014.

If there’s no video from the dashcam, the cop’s story is always a lie. That needs to be written in to the Rules of Evidence. But as the photo above shows, there was some dashcam video of Patrolman Perv.

Additionally, Miller, who is currently suspended indefinitely without pay from the Newton Police Department, will be barred from seeking employment as a law enforcement officer in New Jersey, Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Greg Mueller said.

The state is also seeking that Miller serve 60 days in county jail, as well as be subject to a probationary period of between one and five years, Mueller said.

via Newton cop, accused of exposing himself during traffic stops, takes plea deal | NJ.com.

His mouthpiece — it’s not clear is Iacullo is the go-to defense attorney for gay rapists, or if Iacullo is the Police Benevolent Association’s retained guy for dirty cops — is no doubt pressing to let him off with Time Not Served.

You have to wonder how many other cops on Miller’s department knew about this behavior before a couple of citizen’s complaints did him in.

Remember, in places like New Jersey, police like Miller are the only ones who can be trusted with firearms. The same way they’re the only serial rapists who can be trusted to walk free in two months or less.

UPDATE

Here’s an incident at LiveLeak, that answers, in part, the question in the initial paragraph of this article. (Note, badly digitally-clipped audio). In the video, a guy is being arraigned on charges that he impersonated a cop for sex, or, more specifically, used the threat of arrest to get a hooker to give it up to him without him using a condom. His attorney does his best to spring the guy, arguing that the words of the statute imply that what his client, Dindu Nuffin, dindu is not a crime. But you can see this suspect get hammered a lot harder by the judge (even in the arraignment phase) than Miller did — because he wasn’t really a cop using his cop-hood to get laid, he was pretending to be, and mere impersonators don’t inherit this droit du seigneur that New Jersey law apparently extends to the state’s dirty cops.

(Editor’s note: looking for an illustration for this we googled ‘gay cop’ thinking (1) there was probably such a thing as gay cop pr0n, and (2) the search results would probably a G rated but suggestive image to use here. Answers: (1) oh yeah, and (2) not really. There is not enough brain bleach in the liquor cabinet. Worse, it now is in google’s memory of the crap we have searched for. We’re going to see some, can we say, queer suggestions in the weeks ahead. Dumb, dumb, dumb. –Eds.)

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Get Locked Up With Guns

BehindPrisonBars001Is there a more gun-free Gun Free Zone than inside a freakin’ cell? 

Apparently, yeah.

The Baltimore Police Department confirmed Thursday that a handgun had been found in a holding cell in the Eastern District station house.

Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Connolly said the incident is “very concerning and unacceptable,” and that the department has launched an investigation.

“Concerning”? “Unacceptable”? The subtext here seems to be, “beats us with a stick.”

Connolly did not say whether anyone was in the cell when the gun was found.

Three possibilities here:

  1. Connolly didn’t know and was too simple to ask the people who did. This is possible; PR officers are often selected from visually-pleasant people who can’t do the actual job, and she may be one of those;
  2. She knew and is lying to the press. SOP for most government flacks. The reporters know this too. It’s all kabuki;
  3. The guys running the investigation don’t know this simple fact. If that’s the case, it bodes ill for the prospects of investigational success.

But hey, we should probably cut the Baltimore PD some slack. It’s the first time this has ever happened, right?

We’re just dealing with one isolated incident! Nothing too see here.

Er, wrong.

Last month, a gun was found in a holding cell in the same district’s station house.

Well, that’s not very encouraging (we’re sure Connolly said at the time it was “unacceptable” and “concerning,” but here it is again 20 days later and they’re just accepting it. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence. Nothing too see here.

We’re just dealing with one two isolated incidents! Nothing too see here.

And in August 2014, 38-year-old Tyree Woodson smuggled a gun into a police station and fatally shot himself in the head in a bathroom stall.

via Baltimore police find handgun in holding cell – WTOP.

Three isolated incidents in a year of something that most departments never see could just be statistical clustering. Or it could be a sign of really lousy leadership.

Which way to bet?

LA Times ID’s Afghanistan’s Problem: Toy Guns!

There are some ideas that are so retarded you just about need to have a Columbia J-School ticket for your brain housing group to contain them. That includes the idea that the ultima causa of mayhem in Afghanistan is that Afghan kids, unlike, say, LA Times reporters’ precious, coddled Unique and Special Snowflakes™, have mamas that let them play with war toys.

Yeah, that’s it.

Afghan boys with toy guns

It certainly can’t have anything to do with the unrelenting warfare kicked off by a Communist overthrow of King Zahir Shah in 1973, and the unstable state of war that has flowed like a red tide across the landlocked and desperately poor country ever since. It can’t have anything to do with a nation that, after successive governments by wooly-headed Commies, actual Soviet puppets, bloodthirsty mujahideen, and the Bat Guano Crazy Taliban dropped clean off the UN Development Index in 1996, and that therefore for about four generations on the Afghan scale has had nothing to offer an Afghan boy but the prospect of growing up to be killed or crippled in intramural combat like his male ancestors all have been.

(Well, he could be a chai bacha, an Afghan euphemism for a professional catamite, at least until he’s too old. That’s a role that LA Times reporters could probably aspire to).

Anyway, it can’t be any of that. 

Nope, gotta be the toy guns. So cue up the latest masterstroke that will fer-sure-this-time-forget-them-fortyleven-other-times erase the bloodshed that’s been part of Afghan life since before Afghan was a word, and get your ban on, and in 5-4-3-2-1 Afghans will start behaving just like Swiss.

Or not.

Finally, after years of outcry by politicians, parents and civil society groups, the Interior Ministry announced last month that it was officially enacting a ban on the sale of plastic firearms in Afghanistan.

At a news conference in Kabul, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said: “After this, there is a ban on the sale and use of plastic guns…. The interior minister directed police in all provinces to collect these toys and prevent their sale.”

Sediqqi said the ministry would work alongside the Ministry of Commerce and the nation’s various trade groups to prevent the import of such toys, mainly from nearby Pakistan and China.

The news comes as a welcome relief to a growing number of parents who for years have refused to buy plastic guns for their children.

“Why should I buy them weapons rather than something that would teach them something positive,” said Geran Popal, a teacher, who has repeatedly denied requests by her three children to buy them fake weapons for the Muslim holiday.

Zuhra Bahman, who last month had started an online petition calling for a ban on the “the manufacturing, import, advertising and sales of imitation weapons in Afghanistan,” also welcomed the news.

Yeah, online petitions. A major factor in Afghan power politics, especially petitions started by women community organizers, the traditional bedrock of Afghan society. Amazing thing is, the guy writing this article has an Afghan name. Did he get a complete cultural brainwashing at UC Irvine or something?

“I am very pleased, this is people power at work,” said Bahman, the mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Bahman, who has studied child development, said that further legislation or a presidential decree should be directed at other imitation weapons, such as plastic knives and hand grenades.

Calls for such a ban have met with resistance, mainly from other parents, she said.

via Afghanistan’s growing toy gun problem has gotten so bad the government finally acted – LA Times.

At an age when most American kids are still being driven to school by mommy and are completely unable to solve personal problems without helicopter-parental intervention, many Afghans are engaging in the national pastime, mayhem. We’re not entirely sure one childhood pathology is superior to the other.

The LA Times, on the other hand, is.

And by the end of the article they’ve tied it to their real agenda: a ban on real guns.

“I find it pathetic that Afghanistan has banned toy guns but not disarmed 99% who shouldn’t own real ones,” tweeted Roya Aziz, an Afghan American who spent eight years in Kabul.

A U.S. raid in June on a weapons cache belonging to Jan Ahmad, a strongman in the northern province of Parwan, stirred a debate in the nation.

Those who supported Jan Ahmad, including Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive of the Afghan government, said the raid, conducted by a foreign army, violated civil rights and the sovereignty of the Kabul government.

Critics of the anti-Soviet, anti-Taliban strongman saw it as the first step in the disarming of militiamen and other powerful figures maintaining illegal arms stashes.

They’ll never figure it out: arms are downstream from culture. In Afghanistan, it’s logical and even necessary to band together with those of your family, tribe, race or ethnicity is a necessity in the absence of a strong national government (and the absence of a strong national government is guaranteed by the preference of Afghanistan’s powerful neighbors, and by the lack of a strong national identity compared to those ties of family, tribe, race an ethnicity).

This isn’t the first rodeo with banning toy guns. This link is to a photo with a caption indicating that the Germans, who probably have more national experience with gun confiscation that anybody, having at one time done it from the Pyrenees to the Crimea and everywhere in between, were confiscating toy guns in Kabul in 2003. To “prevent children to get used to playing war games.” How’s that working out?

The US has wasted, now, 15 years of effort in building cross-family/tribe/racial/ethnic institutions, including mad efforts like trying to build an Afghan National Army organized by American diversicrats to “perfectly represent Afghanistan” by counting ethnic beans. “Oh, that kandak is short Hazaras, transfer some Hazaras in from this one.” The third-raters that become American personnel officers can’t manage American personnel effectively, so you can imagine how their failure-prone policies do when imposed on a radically different culture and set of motivations.

Telling an Afghan who lives in a village that is his because its previous owners were ethnically cleansed out of there in 1998 or 1987 or 1898 under the Taliban or Soviets or Abdurrahman Khan, that Diversity is Strength, and getting him fired up about the American national pastime of racial beancounting, is about as effective as telling him his sons ought not to have toy guns, when a couple of years from now they will be firing real ones in actual combat — regardless of what overall trends occur in Afghan history.

The Quiet Special Purpose Revolver

We were sure we’d written about this before, but if we did, we can’t find hide nor hair of our previous report. So, just maybe we haven’t. Recently, we got some new information, and will share it with you.

The QSPR is an extremely rare special-purpose revolver that was developed and produced by the AAI Corporation. Formerly Aircraft Armament Incorporated, the name was abbreviated officially because they never sold any of their aircraft armament concepts. They worked on several ill-fated futuristic small arms of the 1960s (like the SPIW) and one very successful one, the M203 40mm grenade launcher.

The QSPR from the original report (the bad reproduction is due to the records being stored on microfilm or microfche).

The QSPR from the original report (the bad reproduction is due to the records being stored on microfilm or microfche).

The QSPR was made from a Smith & Wesson Model 29. Frames in white were provided to AAI by Smaith, and they were modified with a .40 caliber smoothbore barrel and the cylinders were bored out to 0.528″, leaving a minimal web between chambers. (The lost strength was made up for by the strong cartridges). The weapon was innocent of any sights — it was meant to be used at contact range, inside tunnels, although accuracy to 25 feet was claimed (and Vietnam users reported it was more accurate than their .38 revolvers). Both standard large-frame Smith and aftermarket or custom grips were tried.

The gun was issued with a flap shoulder holster and two ammo pouches holding an odd 7 rounds each.

The gun was issued with a flap shoulder holster and two ammo pouches holding an odd 7 rounds each.

The objective was to provide a weapon for tunnel combat, a weapon with reduced blast, noise, flash and yet increased lethality over the standard pistols and revolvers of the era. It was designed to produce a column of lethal buckshot at very close range, with no flash and very limited blast. Noise in the enclosed tunnels was equivalent to a .22LR firearm outdoors, which was a great improvement over the eardrum-shattering blast of the alternative, the M1911A1 .45 pistol.

Eleven QSPR revolvers were made, of which one was retained by AAI (and is still reportedly retained by a successor, Textron systems). Ten were deployed in 1969 for combat testing in Vietnam; one was reported as a combat loss. Of the existing revolvers, apart from the AAI reference piece, two (#5 and an unknown example) are in a US Army museum, and one is in the ATF reference collection. It was the missing Vietnam gun, which was used in a homicide in California and recovered, according to Dockery.

THE QSPR seems very sophisticated for a first shot, and that’s because it wasn’t. A previous S&W based tunnel revolver was a Model 10 M&P with reduced cylinder gap, a suppressor and an aiming light. It was part of a comprehensive suite of gear assembled by the boffins in the Army’s Land Warfare Laboratory and called the Tunnel Engagement Kit, illustrated here. (The vane switch in the guy’s mouth turned on the VC aiming point on his cranium). You can almost hear them saying, “Do bring it back this time, Mr Bond.” But this bit of lab genius was not what the guys needed, and so the boffins went back to the lab and cooked up the QSPR.

Different tunnel rat rig

Ladies and gentlemen, here is a recent photograph of a unicorn — a live QSPR round. This is believed to be the last and only live round in existence (the ATF caused the destruction of most of them maintained by AAI and the military museum system by declaring them suppressors). The material is high-carbon steel, because the case contains the entire energy of the round, inside a piston. An end cap is screwed on the base of the round; threads in the muzzle end act as a trap to catch a piston. A plastic sheath called a “sabot” wraps around the projectiles and is discarded, much like the sabots used with subcaliber projectiles, when the projectile column exits the muzzle. The muzzle end of the round has a silicone (we think) material applied as a sealant.

QSPR Round 01

The round has a dark finish which appears to be some kind of high-tech proto-melonite coating, although most resources describe the ammo as “blued.”

This is a schematic of the round from what appears to have been the final report on the weapon after development and combat testing in Vietnam. The report recommended further improvements and then general issue to Infantry and Ranger units. Those improvements were not pursued, and the firearm was never manufactured.

qspr_ammo_sketch

The high pressure inside the round breaks the “rim” of the piston free of an annular slot that initially retains the piston in the rearward position and forces it forward, ejecting the sabot-contained shot load, until the pressure snaps the piston rim into a similar annular slot positioned to receive it, and drives the “nose” of the piston into the muzzle-end threads. These two engagements arrest the piston’s forward motion. One purpose of the rearward slot is to retain the pistol and prevent it from sliding and ejecting the payload during normal gun handling.

This is the muzzle end of the round. As you can see, the sabot (or the sealant atop it) comes closer to the muzzle than indicated in the diagram.

QSPR Round 03

This is the breech end. As you can see, there are no markings on the round. The revolvers themselves were marked with the S&W trademark, so we suspect the lack of markings on the ammunition was more a reflection of the toolroom nature of the project than in any attempt to make a deniable or clandestine weapon.

QSPR Round 02

The missing detail from most of the reports, the reason the initial report was classified (albeit only at the Confidential level), and the cause of the QSPRs unusually high terminal effect for a handgun was in a material breakthrough. While most open source reports suggest that the projectiles in the shot column were lead, steel or even tungsten (Wolfram to you Europeans), they were actually depleted uranium.

DU is uranium from which the fissionable isotopes have been removed. It is a side product (a waste product, really) of uranium enrichment for weapons production and has a number of properties making t an excellent choice for projectiles.

While the US was developing the QSPR, Soviet scientists were working on similar captive-piston technology. But in the end, the complexity and cost of the system seems to preclude it from ever being made in more than nominal numbers. The ATF’s Firearms Anti Technology Branch has rendered research on this type of weapon in the USA functionally impossible; Russian designers, who have produced a great many widely varied quiet weapons, seem also to have moved on away from this technology.

The resources below are all worth reading but the most valuable is certainly the official report:

ACTIV QSPR Report OCR .pdf

Sources & Resources

Dockery, Kevin. Tunnel Weapon: The Bang in the Dark. Small Arms Review, Volume 5 Number 9. Retrieved from: http://www.smallarmsreview.com/display.article.cfm?idarticles=2423

Popenker, Maxim. Smith & Wesson / AAI Quiet Special Purpose Revolver / QSPR / tunnel revolver (USA), World.Guns.Ru. Retrieved from: http://world.guns.ru/handguns/double-action-revolvers/usa/qspr-silent-revolver-e.html  Note that Max’s report on the QSPR is pretty accurate but his photoshop job has the barrel a tad too long.

Schreier, Conrad F., Jr. The Silenced QSPR Revolver: An Answer to an Age-old Military Problem. Guns and Ammo Magazine, “Ordnance Department” feature, Guns & Ammo Magazine, October 1971, p. 64. Copy: Guns & Ammo QSPR Article .pdf

Weddington, David E., LTC, IN. Final Report: Tunnel Weapon. Army Concept Team in Vietnam (ACTIV), (Linked above).

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week 2015 35: Vitaly Kuzmin

vitaly_kuzmin_netAs you might guess from the name Vitaly Kuzminthe website in question belongs to a Russian — in this case, a Russian photographer who’s well wired into the Russian defense and security establishment, or at least, into those parts of it that Russia likes to show off.  Vitaly is an excellent photographer, whether of equipment or of action, and his site is a good visit for anybody who thinks today’s Russian military and paramilitary forces are unchanged from Soviet days.

His posts are in Russian, usually with an English translation or at least an English gist so that foreigners who don’t know the language of Tolstoy and Chekhov (the writer, not the fictional space officer, thank you) can follow along.

He has some excellent photo essays on Spetsnaz, including a multipart rundown on the weapons used by the “Saturn” corrections Spetsnaz element. (These guys are, in effect, the SWAT team for prisons in the Moscow area. While the Gulag is no more, to the relief, we’re sure, of Russians and the world, Russia has its share of criminals, and has to lock them up. Here’s their official site, in Russian of course… we wonder how many of the photos were taken by Vitaly Kuzmin!)

You might also like his archive of posts that are explicitly labeled “arms,” which includes detailed pictures of rarities like the KS-23M shotgun, used primarily with nonlethal ammunition…

KS-23M-02

 

This is not your dedushka’s 870. Note the stamped receiver: it was built to work, not to catch attention on a gun-store shelf.

Here’s the internally silenced (in the style of the Vietnam era Quiet Special Purpose Revolver, QSPR, the ammunition contains the expanding powder and kicks the projectile out with a piston) 7.62 x 41mm pistol PSS Vul:

PSS-15

This pistol is a fascinating blend of conventional and unconventional. The rough finish of the grips not only provides a good gripping surface but also (important in an assassination weapon) rejects fingerprints.

Note that the PSS has typically European slide safety (presumably a hammer-drop in the Walther/Makarov style) and butt-heel magazine catch. The sights are fixed, but highly visible, reminiscent of the TT-33 which had excellent fixed sights for its day.

PSS-23

And just so you don’t think Vitaly’s all about little popguns, here’s a type of combat vehicle that is, in 2015, unique to the Russian forces of all the world’s militaries: the BMD-4M airborne combat vehicle, called Bakhcha-U.. This airdroppable light armored vehicle is the latest iteration of a concept the Russians have been using since they were Soviets in the 1970s; BMD-1s spearheaded the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. This latest version is well armed with a 100mm main gun that can also fire ATGMs, and a 30mm coax, controlled by computerized systems.

2015AlabinoFirst-17In the 1960s through 80s, the US had a conceptually similar vehicle, the M551 Sheridan light tank. It was used in the armor unit of the 82nd Airborne Division but also in Armored Cavalry Brigades in Korea and Germany. The M551 had a lot of problems and few were sad to see it go, even though its absence adds to the “speed bump” nature of US airborne forces.

The M551 could be delivered by a C-130 aircraft at conventional drop altitudes (1,000-2,000 feet) or delivered out the back on a skid pallet by the Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System, where a gigantic ring parachute of the sort developed for the Apollo spacecraft recoveries drew it out of the back of the 130 like a veterinarian delivering a calf. When a unit had to provide a Sheridan for a LAPES drop, they never gave up their best one.

The BMD, conceived by designer Arkady Vassilievich Shabalin, is dropped from a larger aircraft (usually an Il-76, although the BMD-1 could be delivered by An-12) at a higher altitude and descends under a cluster of parachutes. An Il-76 can deliver two BMDs to the same or separate drop zones. Its integral cargo crane can pick them up and move them in on to the cargo rails. Because the parachute cluster descends at a faster rate than, say, a normal personnel parachute’s 18-22 feet per second, a secondary deceleration means is required. In the 1970s, this was retro-rockets that were part of the parachute rigging up above the heavy load. Currently, a system of airbags that inflates under the vehicle’s delivery pallet after exit from the aircraft is used.

The Russian system has always been designed with a view to the idea that the crews can be dropped inside the vehicles and be combat ready straightaway. For that reason, the Russian heavy drop system cuts away all the canopies once the pallet is firmly on the ground. Dropping BMDs with live paratroopers inside is a capability the Russian airborne arm VDV very rarely exercise, but Russian sources say it had been done in the recent past (2010) with BMD-2 vehicles.

When they drop a BMD and crew separately, the crew uses a homing beacon to find their own vehicle and get underway in minutes.

 

Does Prison Look Better, if You Can’t See It?

behind barsIt began with a typical 21st Century stroke of criminal genius, and ended with a bullet to the brain, although the denouement is still playing out in the courts. Philly.com:

at about 9 p.m. June 26, 2011, [Mark] Sanders, [Chancier] McFarland and a third man drove to Green Street near 40th in Powelton. As part of the robbery plan, the third man responded to a Craigslist ad to buy a Suzuki dirt bike and agreed to meet the seller on Green Street. McFarland acted as a lookout as Sanders and the third man approached the seller.

After the third man pretended to inspect the dirt bike on the porch of a home, Sanders drew a gun from his waistband and pointed it at the seller and two of the seller’s relatives. Sanders’ co-conspirator, who was inspecting the bike, then drove it away.

Meanwhile, another relative of the seller saw what was going on and took out his legally owned firearm and pointed it at Sanders, telling him to stop.

Sanders instead pointed his gun at that man, who then fired in self-defense, hitting Sanders in the right temple. After Sanders collapsed, the man who shot him called police.

via Blind defendant sentenced to 10-plus years behind bars.

Coached by his sleazebag attorney, one Rocco “Consiglieri” Cipparone, Sanders threw out all the usual mouthpiece-says-I-gotta phony stuff: he’s now found Jesus, he’s sorry he did it (or at least, that he got shot, and caught), and, magnanimously, he’s over being angry at the guy who shot him for just trying to kill him for a motorcycle. Cipparone had all the usual arguments why his current pet pathogen shouldn’t go back in the freezer: he’s already suffering and will suffer for all his life. Don’t put him in jail, argued Cipparone: “[H]e put himself in his own prison of blindness.”

“He will walk blind for the rest of his life. He will eat blind for the rest of his life. He will drink blind for the rest of his life.”

Yeah. Pity this crumb lived. He could have found Jesus before trying to murder somebody for a crap motorbike; but they never do that.

The prosecutor had a few points of argument, too:

Sanders, when he had his gun pointed at the victims, had the gun’s hammer cocked and could easily have fired it.

Sanders has “steadfastly refused” to identify to law enforcement who his accomplices were.

And then, there’s Sanders’s own lengthy violent criminal history. Including this:

In 2010, when Sanders was being arrested for marijuana possession, he grabbed the wire cord of the cop’s radio and wrapped it around the officer’s neck, suffocating him. It wasn’t until the officer was able to grab his gun that Sanders stopped suffocating him and fled.

So he’s not exactly a cherry at the attacking-people gig. And it turns out that there’s another attacked-cop nexus in the case.

Sanders’s accomplice Chancier McFarland and another hood rat named Rafael Jones:

…robbed and killed off-duty Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. on Aug. 18, 2012, in North Philly.

McFarland is now 22 years old; he was twenty when he and Jones (who was 24) murdered Walker.

Rafael Jones’s brother Jerome Jones is suspected (and was indicted, but the prosecutor dropped the case) of being the third man in the motorcycle robbery.

On the bright side, the police seem to have recognized the shooting from the start as an open-and-shut case of self defense, and the defender does  not seem to have been prosecuted.

It was unpossible for any of these guys to get guns, because they were all felons, several were too young to buy in a store, and their state, Pennsylvania, requires all handgun transfers to go through an FFL and has for years.

Yet somehow these four contemptible young wastes of sperm and egg managed to gun up anyway. Imagine that.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Tanks

The M5 Stuart was a late-war update of the M3 Stuart light tank. Hazardously obsolete in Europe, it was more effective in the Pacific, where Japan's tanks were few and also light. This is a file photo of the one operated by the American GI Museum in Texas, not the mishap tank.

The M5 Stuart was a late-war update of the M3 Stuart light tank. Hazardously obsolete in Europe, it was more effective in the Pacific, where Japan’s tanks and AT guns were few and also light. Stuarts were also supplied to allies under Lend-Lease. This is not the mishap tank, but a file photo of the one operated by the American GI Museum in Texas.

The guy was from San Francisco, where guns are pretty well outlawed. That, however, didn’t save him. Indeed, it was a demilitarized weapon from World War II that chewed him up and spat him out, much the worse for wear and no longer in operating condition.

It happened on a hobby tank ride during a family reunion. Poor guy fell off and that was game over, man.

The property in the city of Fairfield, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, belongs to Jelly Belly Chairman Herman Rowland, according to family spokeswoman Holly Carter.

Carter said the tank’s driver, 62-year-old Dwayne Brasher, is married to Rowland’s daughter and the current Jelly Belly chief executive officer, Lisa Rowland Brasher.

“The gentleman involved in this accident was a passionate person, always ready to lend a hand and we shared the same deep rooted love of history,” Herman Rowland said in a statement. “There are no words to describe the grief we are experiencing.”

Police said neither drugs nor alcohol were believed to have factored into the incident.

via Man dies after run over by tank at Jelly Belly chairman’s California property – Yahoo News.

There are no safety belts on the outside of a tank (and in a tank of this vintage, none inside, either). Before you ride on a tank in the Army, to the extent the Army permits it at all, you’re expected to have some training on it. Where and how to mount and dismount makes a difference. You’re shown where to hang on, so that if you fall off, you’re not in the path of the treads. You’re taught how little visibility the driver and TC have, even if the tank is not buttoned up (and buttoning up is so restrictive to visibility that it’s only done when under accurate fire).

Tank drivers are trained to stop the tank in an emergency, but even the lightest tank doesn’t stop on a dime; it has a lot of inertia. Tankers are also aware of the hazards of the tracks; indeed, they’re trained to exploit the tank’s treads as weapons to crush enemy soldiers and fortifications. (If you know a tanker, get him to free-associate the term “pivot turn,” or react to the command, “Neutral left!”) It’s unlikely a hobbyist “tanker” has had any of this training at all, and safety procedures that the worlds’ armed forces have built over decades would be terra incognita to him, and certainly to his passengers.

This is a sad outcome. The small coterie of hobbyists who preserve and restore these vehicles did so when the military and the nation’s museums had no institutional interest in doing so. (Indeed, well into the 90s we were destroying WWII tanks, half-tracks and armored cars as range targets). It’s unfortunate to have an accident taint this perhaps eccentric but very valuable hobby in the psyche of the public.

Of course, the greatest misfortune is that that befell the victim and his surviving friends and family. If you operate some unusual old piece of equipment, it’s very wise to seek out its former operators (or, when they are too far removed in time for any of them to be alive, their writings, which are a poor substitute for a living person) to see what safety precautions were considered de rigeur, back when the gadget was new and its hazards were taken seriously.

If you are an expert in a field, you may not even be conscious of the safety precautions your experience guides you to take. How many equestrians have seen someone unfamiliar with horses line himself up perfectly for a kick? One startle response away from a fractured cranium. You can yell, “Hey, don’t stand there,” or something, but you didn’t warn the person beforehand because it didn’t occur to you that somebody would come up behind the horse like that. A lot of what we know we only know because someone taught us, and the frightening bit is that they may have taught us so long ago that we’ve “always known that” and don’t think to teach it to people lacking our tribal knowledge.

These Soviet troops invading Czechoslovakia in 1968 apparently didn't get the memo. The guys on the front of the ASU-85 are taking a hell of a risk.

These Soviet troops invading Czechoslovakia in 1968 apparently didn’t get the memo. The guys on the front of the ASU-85 are taking a hell of a risk.

If you look at WWII pictures of tank riders, relatively few of them are hanging on the frontal aspect of the tank. You wonder how many dead GIs, Landsers or Red Army motorized rifle troops it took for them to evolve that procedure.

By the 1960s (US war in Vietnam and Russian mostly uncontested invasion of Czechoslovakia) this tribal knowledge seems to have been largely disregarded.

Will Israel Nuke Iran First?

BLOWING UP PARADISEDefense intellectual and former Strategic Defense Initiative planner John Bosma argues in the American Thinker that for Israel the options are closing rapidly, and the least bad option may be to make a nuclear preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, aiming to disrupt development but also to kill the maximum number of scientists and technicians, and to leave any surviving facilities fatally irradiated.

Far from producing peace, Bosma claims, the deal negotiated between two preferentially antisemitic teams could be extremely destabilizing; it…

…also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

via Articles: Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War.

A limited Israeli strike could produce the nuclear disarmament of Iran that Obama and Kerry had claimed, before some of the terms of the deal put the lie to their statements, that they sought. Nuclear weapons are one effective solution to the underground bunkers used by Iran to shelter its systems.

Israel cannot  service this target set with conventional weapons — its stocks are not deep enough, and it’s clear that they can’t rely on the United States, at least under this Administration, for resupply.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal.

The two main factors Bosma sees making the nuclear option “almost mandatory” for Israel are the Iranian government’s continued propaganda and doctrine calling for nuclear weapons explicitly for the extermination of Jews, and, as recounted above, the US’s sudden tilt to the Iranian position. But he also lists a number of other reasons, which we’ll paraphrase:

  1. Iranian nuclear progress is self-sustaining and can’t be stopped with conventional weapons or sanctions. For Israel, it is a matter of nuke, or be nuked.
  2. Iranian progress is concrete hardening has essentially neutralized such weapons as the 30kp Massive Ordnance Penetrator, meaning it’s nukes or nothing.
  3. The presence in the agreement of a new US-Iranian limited military alliance targeted against Israel.
  4. The Russian agreement to deliver to Iran S-300 anti-ballistic and anti-aircraft weapons. This dual-purpose weapon is in the improved Patriot class and complicates strike planning (to put it mildly). The weapons are enroute to Iran already. (Russia is also delivering nuclear weapons delivery technology, including ICBMs). Some of these Russian missiles come with Russian mercenary crews. In addition, with Russian and Iranian assistance, the terrorist group Hezbollah has been converting its ineffective rockets into precision guided munitions with defense-evading technology.

While Bosma’s grim predictions may never come to pass, his position has a certain logic. (We believe it won’t come to pass because the Israeli government will shrink from following that logic to its inevitable end). In any event you should Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a brief but very information-dense piece.

If the Israelis did take this approach to survival, how would they do it? Given that the US Government is likely to share any intelligence indicators of a strike with Iran, Israel will have to proceed under an unprecedented cloak of secrecy. But at this point, their very least worst option for the long term survival of Israel and its people may well be to nuke Iran.

This is one consequence of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for lofty intentions, standing alone.