For many years after World War II, the aircraft of the war were just, “old.” In the heady Jet Age, wartime transports still had economical utility, but the combat types were quickly left behind. They were relegated to duties as instructional airframes for novice mechanics (“learn riveting on this, it’ll never fly again so you can’t screw it up”) or stuck up on plinths as gate guards, showcasing the raw roots of the world’s newest military forces. And those were the survivors: the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of warplanes built for the war ended as scrap metal in the greedy furnaces of postwar industrial recovery. The combat life of a warplane might have been 25 to 100 hours during the war, and perhaps two years from variant introduction to obsolescence; but after the war, the pace of research and development didn’t let up, and the frontline jets of 1946 were outclassed by time of the Berlin Airlift of 1949.
This devastated the world supply of WWII combat types, and entire types became extinct. Even those most historic, most pleasant to fly, most likely to wind up as a rich man’s toy, were endangered species.
In the 1970s, this began to change, as a new appreciation for the old types led to recoveries and restorations. Now, there are more Spitfires, Hurricanes and Mustangs flying than there were ten years ago, or ten years before that, or ten years before that. Even “extinct” types like the Mitsubishi A6M2 “Type 0” carrier fighter, and the Me 262 jet, have returned to the air. This is amazing, because while the Mustang, at least, was an industrial product whose documents are widely available, some of the others, especially the British and Japanese types, were more like machines that were “hand built in quantity,” and no two are quite the same. (The engineers of Packard Motor Car Corporation traveled to England’s Rolls-Royce plant to pick up a technical data package for the Merlin aircraft engine and see how the engines were built. They were appalled, and realized that they’d have to redesign the engine for modern industrial processes, which they then did very rapidly and so successfully that some marks of Spit were adapted to the American versions of Merlin engines).
One of the guys who was part of that early wave of Spitfire appreciation was John McVicar “Jack” Malloch, a former Spitfire pilot turned aviation entrepreneur in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which declared independence as a republic in 1965. Soon after independence, the UN placed sanctions on the Rhodesian government, and Malloch became an imaginative and effective blockade runner and sanctions buster. (He’d already had experience of clandestine aviation during the Biafra War).
And he renewed his love affair with the Spitfire. He and his team of mechanics restored Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk22 PK350, which had last flown 26 years prior. The restoration took 2 1/2 years, and saw Malloch’s initials “JMM” used as the plane’s buzz codes. When Malloch took the first flight, in March 1980, he had done high-speed taxi testing of PK 350 and had flown lots of other aircraft for thousands of hours, including some pretty hairy combat aviation (outflying MiGs in four-motored transports at treetop level, among other things). But he hadn’t flown a Spitfire in 20 years himself.
This video was produced by former Rhodesians in the Zimbabwe Air Force in 1982, after the death of Malloch in a mishap in this very Spitfire. In fact, quite a few of the long scenes of him dodging into and out of clouds in the Spit were filmed on his fatal flight on 26 March 1982. As near as anyone can tell, he entered a thunderstorm which either disoriented him or so upset the aircraft that he could not recover. He was killed instantly in a high-speed impact with the ground. Nothing of PK350 was salvageable. To date, it remains the only fully evolved late (Griffon-powered, bubble-canopy) Spitfire to be restored to flight.
Not long after the video was made, Zimbabwean president-for-ever Robert Mugabe executed the first of several purges of the air force. Over the years since, it went from a force of unquestioned competence and doubtful loyalty to Mugabe’s person, to a force of laughable incompetence but unquestionable loyalty to the dictator. Rhodesia produced men like Jack Malloch; Zimbabwe never will.
Bullets, you know, have a life of their own. The life begins when the firing pin crushes the primer case and some of the impact-sensitive primer mixture against the primer anvil, and it ends when the spent bullet comes to rest.
In between, the bullet can get up to all kinds of mischief, like this one did. It’s almost like the seemingly-enchanted bullet in The Hole Book that we wrote about recently — through or past the target, through the window, off a refriger magnet, off a microwave oven… on and on and on, with, miraculously, no human casualties. South Carolina news station WSPA.com says:
The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office says a woman heard gunshots at her home on Murph Road in Pauline when the bullet broke the pane of glass around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
The incident report states the .30 caliber bullet broke the glass, struck a magnetic clip under a cabinet in the kitchen and dented housing on a microwave oven. The bullet then dropped onto the toaster and bounced into a burner on the stove.
The homeowner believed the target shooting was happening on Walnut Grove Pauline Road.
The SCSO deputy states he went to a home on that street and found out a man’s son was target shooting with an AK-47 at an empty propane tank in the back yard. The man didn’t says he realize his bullet went to the neighbor’s house behind him.
via AK-47 Target Practice Bullet Hits Neighbor’s Home In Pauline – WSPA.com.
So, where did this Wile E Coyote Certified Genius™ think the bullet was going to go? There’s a reason everybody learns to consider his backstop, and what may be downrange beyond it: because it’s best safety practice. And there’s a reason that some people don’t do that: because some people are functionally brain-dead, even as they walk among us.
Fortunately, no one was injured, and, speaking well of the restraint of the Spartanburg County deputies, the shooter wasn’t shot, pistol-whipped, tased, or even charged, but we’d bet he got a good enough talking-to that he isn’t going to do that again.
Nossir, his next dumb stunt will be completely different. Well, that’s why we have deputies, to take those calls. Well done, SCSO, and best of luck next time. ‘Cause there will be a next time.
The following recommendations were slipped under the transom by a friend of the blog last night. We’re finally getting around to posting them. The first two are free PDFs, and we’ve taken a quick look at them. The third is a review of a book published by the South African publishing house that has been most prolific on Rhodesian memoirs.
“Rhodesia: Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat” (Marine Corps Command and Staff College)
We’re not terribly thrilled with this one so far, in part because the authors seem to have excepted a lot of conventional wisdom and conducted research mostly in secondary sources. It comes off a poor second to the Rhodesian African Rifles paper (from the War College) that we’ve recently featured in this blog. It does have a lot of the back story, but even there it’s dodgy (we do not know who the early, presumably Bantu, groups were that drove the Bushmen out; nor do we know that those groups were the same as the later builders of the Great Zimbabwe ruins. And to compare the GZ ruins to the construction of the Indian civilizations of Central and South America is to slander those lost races. The Zimbabwe carvings are cruder; their builders did not know the art of building with interlocking stones, and they did not carve messages in a written language.
“The Rhodesian Insurgency: A Failure of Regional Politics” (US Army War College)
This brief paper makes the weakly supported argument that the war’s outcome was dictated by South Africa’s inter-African foreign policy. It’s a colorable argument but we’d need to see more diplomatic cables and South African player memoirs to give it credence.
“Winds of Destruction” (Peter Petter-Bowyes)
Petter-Bowyes was a Rhodesian Air Force officer during the entire UDI period. He has some unique insights and viewpoints. We’ve ordered the book.
Some Other Rhodesian War Books
These are some of the hard copy books in the Unconventional Warfare Operations Research Library. Links are to LibraryThing.
Bax, Timothy. 2013. THREE SIPS OF GIN: Dominating the Battlespace with Rhodesia’s famed Selous Scouts. Has a few stories in it that are not in Reid-Daly’s book. But get R-D’s if you’re only going to get one.
Baxter, Peter. 2011. SELOUS SCOUTS: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists (Africa@War). More of a photo book.
Croucamp, Denis. 2007. The Bush War In Rhodesia: The Extraordinary Combat Memoir of a Rhodesian Reconnaissance Specialist. A quite incredible memoir.
Nesbit, Roy Conyers. 1999. Britain’s Rebel Air Force: The War from the Air in Rhodesia 1965-1980.
Pringle, Ian. 2013. DINGO FIRESTORM: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War.
Reid-Daly, Lt.Col. Ron, as told to Peter Stiff. 1982. SELOUS SCOUTS – Top Secret War. Very good retelling of the Scouts’ unconventional COIN approach and concepts such as “pseudo terr groups,” by the Regiment’s founder and commander.
Smith, Ian Douglas. 1977. The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith. Our copy is signed by Smith, but this memoir at the center of everything from UDI to the end of Rhodesia as a nation is a vital viewpoint missing from many students’ Rhodesian studies.
There are more, but that’s what a crude search kicks up. We also have a lot of ephemera like leaflets and posters.
…and one more download link.
This Rhodesian site has further books, including downloads.
First, it’s an ATI to start with, and we’re unaware of anything made by ATI that’s liable to be mistaken for professional military armament quality. But if you had asked us, “Can you make an ATI pistol worse by giving it to Bubba for a style job,” we’d have had to admit that, although we could not imagine how, that if we’ve learnt one thing in this racket it’s this: do not wager against Bubba’s strange marque of insalubrious inspiration. In fact, we wonder if it’s a Bubba attempt to convert one of ATI’s pot-metal .22s to a .45, with dire but not-yet-catastrophic consequences. Now on GunBroker:
Here’s a 1911 that some amateur had a little too much fun with. We do not have the time or technical know-how to get this weapon working properly. Here is a description of the problem: Upon loading and firing the weapon, the cartridge casing is ejected. However, a new round fails to feed and the slide remains in the rearward position until manually moved forward. This is sold AS IS/For Parts and no returns will be made available.
via ATI 1911 .45 ACP gunsmith special – $199!! 45ACP : Semi Auto Pistols at GunBroker.com.
Great Googly Moogly, that thing was chased through the Ugly Forest and didn’t miss a tree. It’s really hard on the eyes, like that girl with all the piercings is going to be when she’s 40. Check out the harmonic convergence of household pliers and barrel bushing:
Yes, that bushing does look like something in the nose end of the slide does not fit quite right. We’d guess the failure to return to battery is a combination of really bad fit between frame and slide, resulting from “drop in and hammer to fit” soi-disant gunsmithing, and an anemic recoil spring, maybe one from ATI’s .22 roots.
This is one zombie that’s probably better off staying dead. But I bet the bubbas on GB bid it up over $300. If that happens, we’ll get a bag of ATIs and mass produce these things.
- Buy a pallet of lousy guns.
- Make them even worse.
- ?? Find fools?
We came across this example whilst enjoying our latest timewaster, the discovery that GunBroker can be searched for the grim keywords “Gunsmith Special.” We were actually looking for a project, but found them to be few and far between. However, the comic value is sufficient reward for time spent browsing the link. (We have it sorted by price, top down, and haven’t even got into the Gunsmith Special equivalent of penny stocks yet).
Got to visit an old friend, whose happy family lives in nondescript midatlantic surburbia, in a small Cape above a basement with more gun safes than some of our readers have guns.
Finally got to meet cartoonist Chris Muir (his strip is at daybydaycartoon.com) face to face. Chris is an entertaining guy in person, as you might expect. Unlike many entertainers (except perhaps editorial cartoonists, which he once was) he does not bank strips in advance; he hits it fresh every day to keep it topical. Like us, he’s become more politicized over the last few years, and doesn’t like that feeling much.
Both friends had reason for pessimism about the nation and the world. We gave each, and now we give you, our Internet friends, the following Exercise for the Reader which may recover some of your innate optimism. Remember that optimism and pessimism is as good a division of humans, better perhaps, than liberal vs. conservative, right-brained vs. left-brained, or even really serious ones like Yankees vs. Red Sox (wait, isn’t that BOS vs NYC: “liberals vs. liberals”?)
Didn’t fall asleep in the car, except when it was safely parked, so people can use the car again. All LEO encounters were highly positive. The weather was beastly — lots of rain. It’s nice in FL.
Obligatory Gun Content
I got a good look and a little paws on, on a rare HK sporting rifle, an HK SLB 2000 in .30-06. The SLB stands for Selbstladebüchse, “self-loading rifle,” using the word for “rifle” that generally carries the connotation of “sporting rifle.” (In German, “Buchse” is for shooting Bambi, and “Gewehr” is for shooting Frenchmen or Russians). Some time we hope to go over it in more detail, because it’s like nothing the company ever built — or anyone else, for that matter. It was a rare gun that we had no idea of. How many others like that are there?
Back to the rambling…
Not everything is going so swimmingly. Tax extension is running out, no more procrastination, let’s get it in so we can get our due audit.
Naturally, plowing through a rainstorm in Virginia, the phone rings. Herself has somehow slain the wi-fi at home. Can a weapons man fix it by telephonic advice?
Hey, it’s a radio, we’re only crosstrained in commo, and all radios are FM. Can’t knock sense into it by brainwave. You were expecting Uri Geller?
This is three for three on WiFi ghosting when the laird of the Manor was over the horizon on a trip. Couldn’t fix it from those places, either.
Posting may be desultory for a while. We will try to make it not so, but…
…Some days, the bear eats you. That’s the calamity that befell Rutgers University student Darsh Patel, who fled from the bear and also discovered the velocity implications of one of Orwell’s famous sayings: “Four legs good, two legs baaaaad.”
This was the first documented fatal bear attack in New Jersey since sometime in the 19th Century. Somehow we suspect that Patel would have happily foregone the distinction. And the bear’s jubilation was short-lived, as authorities interrupted its meal, permanently. (When seconds counted, armed law enforcement was hours away from doing poor Patel any good).
To make matters worse, this kid who was just out hiking gets lumped in with another Rutgers student (it’s a giant state university, teeming with tens of thousands of students) who apparently drank himself to death.
Rutgers student Darsh Patel, 22, was the second university student to die tragically on Sunday. Rutgers University is offering grief counseling following the possible alcohol-related death of a 19-year-old university sophomore from South Brunswick.
Patel, a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in information technology and informatics, was killed in the bear attack Sunday while hiking with friends in a wooded area near West Milford.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said Patel’s death in the Apshawa Preserve is the first fatal bear attack recorded in New Jersey in 150 years.
“As we grieve over his tragic passing, please know that our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones and to all his friends and fellow students at Rutgers,” said Richard L. Edwards, chancellor, Rutgers-New Brunswick.
Five friends from Edison were hiking in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford Sunday when they came across a bear, the Associated Press reported. The friends ran in different directions and after regrouping, they noticed one of their friends was missing.
Patel’s body was found by a search team. Evidence suggested he had been attacked by a bear, AP reported.
A bear at the scene was euthanized. The investigation is still ongoing
Enter the environment, enter the food chain. Your armament and state of preparedness determines where along the food chain you slot it.
Note also that Patel was not hiking alone. The (unarmed) kid was hiking with a bunch of (unarmed) friends. So he’s not-quite-living proof of the old saying, “You don’t have to outrun the bear, you only have to outrun your buddy.”
Anti-gun activists argue that the widespread availability of guns leads to suicides. In New York City, where it is impossible to get a permit unless you’re a politician or an organized crime figure, a man managed to commit suicide without any firearm at all, in a creative but grisly fashion:
Authorities say the 51-year-old man, who is from upstate New York, tied a metal chain around his neck and secured it to a pole at about 9:20 a.m in Hunts Point.
He then got into his car and accelerated, causing his head to be torn off.
It gets worse. He then violated one of Mayor Bloomberg’s most-prized ordinances:
The man’s body was ejected from the car when he hit another parked vehicle, police told WPIX.
Why, he wasn’t wearing his safety belt! No word on whether NYPD cited the scofflaw corpse.
This is one of the picture boards the police in Santa Monica, CA put up for the media after a kid named John Zawhri shot family members and then drove through town shooting random people.
Zawhri may have been mentally ill. But the cop who labeled these guns was not all there, either:
- “Colt .45”. It’s actually a replica of a Remington cap-and-ball .44, but other than that they nailed it.
- “Colt.” It’s a Smith and Wesson (and apparently was a replica non-gun anyway). But apart from that the cops had it right.
- “Assault Rifle.” Well, it’s actually an AR-15, which is banned in CA, yet somehow this creepy criminal got one (we’ll get to how in a minute).
The thing they call a “vest” is an ammo (not ballistic) vest, and the things they call “zip guns” are, actually, zip guns, literally the only thing on the page that the cops got right.
Was this the SoCal PD that was famous for having an upper, but not a lower, cutoff for applicant IQ? That would explain a lot, but we think that department was LAPD.
News stories about Zawhri noted that he had a letter from some California bureaucracy or other saying he was DQ’d from owning guns — whether for mental illness or criminal convictions, we have no idea. And none of his guns were registered… why, a mass murderer broke the gun registration law! Who ever saw that one coming?
At least one California lawmaker, Mike Honda, has used Zawhri’s crime spree and his ability to arm himself despite California’s legal obstacles to so doing as an excuse to try to further disarm the long-suffering CA public. See, he can’t do anything to Zawhri, who’s dead; but he can do something to a lot of people who have never committed a crime. and then send a tax-paid mailing to all his constituents boasting about how he DID SOMETHING. So Honda proposes to ban home gunsmithing.
You see, Zawahri bought his AR parts, except for the magazines, legally. (The 30-round mags are contraband in California, so he got those on the black market). He appears to have either finished an incomplete lower receiver, or acquired a gun made from an incomplete or so-called 80% receiver. The Santa Monica police have said his rifle had no serial number. Of course, those are the same cops who just showed us a “Colt .45”, a “Colt” Model 59, and a generic “assault rifle” that they couldn’t put a name to, so we take all their claims with a little bit of skepticism.
The Hill reports that Honda and his cosponsors, all Democrats, have no hope of enacting Honda’s national home-gunsmithing ban. But they think that this can be an issue that distinguishes Democrats from Republicans in the midterm election campaign, and they believe that this and many other gun bans have 70-90% support.
The proposal has no chance of moving through the GOP-controlled House. But supporters are hoping their calls for tougher gun laws will distinguish Democrats from Republicans, who are almost universally opposed to new firearms restrictions.
The cosponsors of Honda’s bill are Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
Good luck with that, boys and girls. No word on whether they got letters from the California bureaucracy saying that in the light of their apparent break with reality, they’re DQ’d from owning guns.
Exercise for the reader: if your Democrat incumbent or candidate is one of those who says, with a nervous eye on the polls, “I’m a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment but…” then have fun trying to pin him or her down on Honda’s home gunsmithing ban.
Unless you vote, like we do, in New Hampshire, the Granite State.
It’s not that we lack voices for gun rights, or pro-gun politicians. We have several excellent pro-gun lobbies here, including Pro-Gun New Hampshire, the NH Firearms Coalition (which has the most honest political ratings), and Gun Owners of New Hampshire (the NRA affiliate). Why three groups? It does seem like “unity” is not a big thing where we Live Free or Die.
The groups have varying levels of enthusiasm for gun rights, but often do cooperate, fortunately. We need strong local groups because the NRA lobbyist assigned to our state, John Hohenwarter, is not really an ally: he’s a Fudd who has worked against gun rights repeatedly, for example trying to get our very liberal shall-issue policy restricted to include mandatory NRA training, and working to overturn constitutional carry — when it stood on the brink of veto-proof passage.
On most issues, who the more gun-friendly candidate is, is crystal clear. Most NH Democrats are the sort that begin a sentence, “I support the 2nd amendment, but…” and it isn’t hard to understand the but encompasses anything up to and including a repeal of the 2nd and outright confiscation, if there’s a “for the children” or “common sense” somewhere in the proposal. And most Republicans are not that far gone, yet, although the ones who have dwelt long in Washington may be. For example, voters in the 2nd Congressional District have a clear choice in pro-gun Marilinda Garcia (A) over incumbent “Big Ban Ann” Annie Kuster (F), who has the additional deficiency of looking, and speaking, like the House’s own Bag Lady. In the 1st District, former Congressman Frank Guinta (C-) is clearly better on guns than incumbent Carol Che-Porter (who’ll be an F when they get around to rating her). It doesn’t hurt that Che-Porter really hates veterans and Blue and Gold Star families. In this term, she’s kept her contempt for uniformed-Americans under control a little better than in the past, but we don’t think we’re any higher on her dance card than we ever were. When she addresses vets, it’s as poor pitiful wretches who need therapy and handouts from Uncle Sugar.
But then there’s the NH Senate race, and the choice couldn’t be less stark: we have deservedly F-rated Scott Brown squaring off against deservedly F-rated Jeanne Shaheen (her rating’s not up because she had a bye in the primary). Both are unappealing persons: Brown is a carpetbagger sent to NH by his DC buddies, after a run as Democrat Lite failed him in MA, and Shaheen is someone who touts her small-business credentials — as, we are not making this up, a jewelry fence for burglars, in partnership with her brother-in-law, another NH Dem pol (who took the rap and went to prison).
Brown really does live in NH now — in our town, actually, we’ve seen him and his wife Gail at the grocery store. In person, he’s a really nice guy, and he’s almost an Army vet (he’s a JAG), but it’s hard to pull the lever (well, actually, we’re still blackening holes with a #2 pencil up here) for someone who’s an enthusiastic supporter of registration, licensing, and bans including the failed 1994 AWB. He opposes national reciprocity. He thoroughly deserves to lose, on political grounds — no hard feelings towards a neighbor.
But then, so does Shaheen, maybe even more so. Like everybody in Washington, she’s made herself fabulously wealthy, including shoveling money to her own husband, who runs a politically-connected law firm. And Shaheen will vote for Harry Reid and for D organization of the Senate, which will put a gun banner at the head of things and gun banners in charge of most of the committees, so there is that. Brown will make a lot of anti-gun votes, but not that particular one.
It’s only one choice, but it’s Hobson’s Choice. The essential problem of representative democracy is evident here: it devolves into two parties of insider aristos who have more in common with their putative opponents than they do with the proles.
Can’t they both lose?
Poly•Ticks: n. from Greek poly (“many”) and ticks, (“multiple genera of bloodsucking arthropods”).
Andrew Branca has a handy checklist of facts that are necessary to justify the use of deadly force in self defense. You know the deal: risk of death or serious injury, proportional response, all that jazz. But you don’t need his checklist, or his legal training and experience, to know that David William Latham, 55, of Bellingham, WA, doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. WMUR-TV:
On Sept. 13, Latham was annoyed at a barking dog, so he armed himself with a rifle, walked across the street, aimed over a fence and shot Molly [a Pembroke Welsh Corgi] in front of her owners.
After shooting Molly in the chest, Chunyk [one of the owners] yelled at the shooter, but retreated when Latham raised both of his arms with one hand still holding a rifle.
That’s a pretty horrible sentence. For the record, Chunyk didn’t shoot the dog, even though that’s what the reporter wrote. Latham shot the dog.
In the chaos just after the shooting, authorities told the couple they should stay home until the gunman was arrested. So they cradled Molly, and wrapped her in towels, as she bled for a half-hour before dying.
It gets better: Latham stank of Judgment Juice, and the dog he shot wasn’t the dog that was barking. Not that barking is a justification for whacking a dog, anyway, but this guy probably ought not to see the sunlight for a while. Courts being what they are, he’s out on bail. He is charged with felony animal cruelty and two misdemeanors, including “brandishing a weapon”.
While he’s free on bail for the time being, his ability to harm further dogs has been somewhat constrained: the cops seized the “murder” weapon and eight more firearms, and Latham’s own beagle. So it’s not like this guy just hates all dogs… and that makes his actions even more inexplicable.
Just in case you were having a hard time following this: no, you can’t shoot a barking dog (let alone a non-barking dog you think is the barking dog) just because it barks. That’s not a legal, ethical or moral case of self-defense.
And one of the first things every shooter should internalize is: 8 hours minimum, jigger to trigger. Many an ill-advised attempt to combine firearms and firewater has ended in tears.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.