Tag Archives: weapons

Science Fiction got there first (again)

Back in High School (1964-68) I read a lot of science fiction by Mack Reynolds. His Joe Mauser series is set in a world where the cold war continues into the 21st century, but, to avoid catastrophe, the West and the “Sov-world” have agreed to restrict all military forces to pre-1900 technology. There is still lots of fighting going on at that level.

Recently I was reading about the decades old border dispute between between China and India countries, which actually led to war in 1962. The conflict still simmers on, but a 1996 agreement states that

Neither side shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers from the line of actual control.

Neither side wants to get the blame for starting a shooting war, so both sides are following the letter of the agreement. However, nobody is backing down. There have been reports that “Chinese troops have used improvised edged weapons, such as nail-studded clubs, in … skirmishes with Indian forces.” and both sides have martial artists in their border forces.

It seems that the Chinese are escalating. We now have Chinese soldiers armed with new devices for hand-to-hand combat with Indians in Tibet. Actually the “new device”, the guan dao, is quite old. It similar to a a western medieval halberd. It will be interesting to see how Indian army responds. They have a rich tradition of edged weapons to draw upon.

American Poison Gas in World War II

During World War II the United States was prepared to use poison gas against the German army. 100 tons of mustard gas were shipped to the port of Bari in southern Italy, held by the Allies and far behind the front lines, on the ammunition ship John Harvey. Being an ammunition ship, the John Harvey also carried a full load of conventional explosive munitions. Disaster At Bari tells the story of how, on the night of December 2, 1943, the port of Bari was attacked by 105 Ju 88 Luftwaffe bombers. The attackers achieved complete surprise: the Allied high command did not think the Luftwaffe was still capable of a raid this far behind the front lines. The lights were on in the harbor so that unloading the docked ships could continue during the night. The Luftwaffe pilots and bombardiers made good use of this, and sank 17 cargo and transport ships, with 8 others damaged. One of the targets was the John Harvey. As an ammunition ship it blew up in a huge explosion, spreading mustard gas all around.

Hundreds of victims were taken to hospitals with strange symptoms. Many died and the medical staff had no idea why. The presence of mustard gas on the John Harvey was a closely guarded secret. Eventually a senior medical officer was flown in from Allied headquarters in Algiers. He quickly realized that the men had been exposed to mustard gas. With some difficulty, he was able find out that the John Harvey had mustard gas in its cargo. There 617 military and merchant marine mustard-gas casualities that night. 84 men died. No one knows about the casualties among the Italian civilians. Many lives could have been saved if the presence of mustard gas had been known immediately and proper treatment administered to the victims.

Chickenhawk Nation

The Tragedy of the American Military

Not your usual left-wing rant. The blame is thoroughly bipartisan. Even Bernie Sanders takes a hit.

The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.

The Day The Soviet Union Dropped A Nuclear Bomb On Its Own Citizens

The Orenburg Oblast Blast

The article originally identified the bomber as a Sukhoi T-4, an aircraft that did not fly until 1972. The mistake was obvious to me from the picture, which has not (as of today) been replaced. That is not a bomber from the early 1950’s. The bomb was dropped from a Tupolev Tu-4, the Soviet copy of of the U.S. B-29 bomber, which was used in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Also see

The Shadow of the Past

Thought WWI was history? In the Middle East, think again

What brought Turkey into World War I was the Escape of the German warships Goeben and Breslau , especially the Goeben, which was the most powerful ship in the Mediterranean at the start of the War. She was The Ship That Changed the World.

According to Winston Churchill the Goeben brought “more slaughter, more misery, and more ruin than has ever before been borne within the compass of a ship.”. He wrote that in 1931.

CSI: Bosworth Field, and related matters

… the final moments of Richard III’s life…

On a related note, Richard III’s body becomes subject of rival claims from Leicester and York

In case you were wondering: Why the princes in the tower are staying six feet under.

“The recent discovery of Richard III does not change the abbey’s position, which is that the mortal remains of two young children, widely believed since the 17th century to be the princes in tower, should not be disturbed.”