The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pithy Comments....

 I figured I would make a few pithy comments on a few things....First off we have the DNC, you know the people that are trying to push Hillary on us "little people" as a viable candidate for President.   The same people that believes that the rules don't apply to them.  You know the same people that are trying to foist the most corrupt politician since Huey Long on the American people...Well they got busted dumping crap down a storm drain...

Witness: DNC tour bus dumps human waste into storm drain

Posted: Oct 18, 2016 1:21 PM EST Updated: Oct 19, 2016 6:18 AM EST
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA (CBS46) - Lawrenceville police are investigating a claim that involves a Democratic National Committee tour bus illegally dumping human waste into a storm drain between campaign stops.
The incident happened on Grayson Highway Tuesday morning after the bus left a campaign stop near the Gwinnett County Board of Elections Office where hundreds of voters were lined up to take part in Early Voting.
Police say when officers arrived on the scene, toilet paper was scattered on the roadway near the storm drain, there was a foul smell.
Mike Robins, manager of a nearby business, took several photos of the tour bus dumping waste into the storm drain. In the pictures, a liquid can be seen coming from the bottom of the bus.
According to Robins, a hazardous materials crew responded to the location and collected the waste to keep more of it from entering the storm drain.
"I don't care who you are. I don't care if you're Hillary Clinton. I don't care if you're Donald Trump. I don't care who you are, you don't throw human waste down a storm drain," said Robins. "Waste water just dumping all out in the street, poured out in the storm drain, and at this time I've got my cell phone out and I'm taking pictures cause I don't care who you are. That's just wrong."
CBS46 reached out to the DNC, which issued the following statement:
This was an honest mistake and we apologize to the Lawrenceville community for any harm we may have caused. We were unaware of any possible violations and have already taken corrective action with the charter bus company to prevent this from happening again. Furthermore, the DNC will work with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, as well as local and state officials to determine the best course of corrective action.
Gwinnett County's storm water department is now involved in the investigation along with the State Environment Protection Division.
Copyright 2016 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Read more: http://www.cbs46.com/story/33418363/witness-dnc-tour-bus-dumps-human-waste-into-storm-drain#ixzz4NWpIc2oE

   Now if us "little people" had done that, we would have the EPA on us like a ton of bricks...because we are citizens and not government.   Now if the Government makes a mess....nothing will happen...remember the huge EPA mess, the one that the EPA drilled where they were not supposed to, then broke through, caused a huge spill that polluted 3 states and the Navaho Nation's water.  Yep that one....After a year + of stalling, blowing off the IG and a myriad of other things, the person that caused the spill, noting happened to him.  If it was a company or a person....aw crap, we would be inundated with lawyers and investigators and any environmental group would be having a field day....but they make a mess.....move along.....move along..nothing to see here
  And something else I will discuss....

     Millennial...you know the people that overwhelmingly supported Bernie and now support Hillary....Yep them.....Apparently there is an article out there that the large percentage of the millennials...support socialism and communism...

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, citing survey results released on Monday, blames widespread ignorance for the relatively positive views millennials have toward socialism and communism.
Of the 2,300 Americans polled by YouGov, 80% of baby boomers and 91% of the elderly agree with the statement that “communism was and still is a problem” in the world today. Millennials? Only 55%.
‘An emerging generation of Americans has little understanding of the collectivist system and its dark history.’

Marion Smith, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
Furthermore, almost half of Americans between the ages of 16 and 20 said they would vote for a socialist, while 21% would go so far as to back a communist.
Capitalism, on the other hand, is viewed favorably by 64% of those over the age of 65, compared with only 42% of millennials.
In fact, more than half of millennials say the economic system works against them, while four out of 10 call for a “complete change” to ensure that the highest earners pay their fair share.
Read: If socialism is incompatible with markets, how can Nordic stocks perform this well?
There’s a lack of historical perspective, according to the foundation, that the survey showed among a big chunk of the younger generation. For instance, a third of millennials say they believe more people were killed under George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin.
As far as familiarity with historical figures, this chart sums it up:

“One of the concerns [the foundation] has had since its establishment is that an emerging generation of Americans has little understanding of the collectivist system and its dark history,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the organization. “Unfortunately, this report, which we intend to release on an annual basis, confirms this worrisome impression.”

    Now I am disturbed, it shows how deep  the rot is in the educational system when people in the ivory towers are able to indoctrinate generations of students on a system that is a failure and their belief is that one day we will get the right people in there and it will finally work.  The problem is that as Margaret Thatcher stated "The problem with socialism is that one day you will run out of other peoples money".
     I remembered "Communism" and "Socialism" and what it did, I saw East Germany that had to build a wall to keep people inside so they wouldn't flee to the west for Freedom.  When I was in Berlin in 1987 I saw the lack of hope the crushing of the spirit that communism brings and the only people that seem to get ahead in communism and socialism are the leaders, every one else pays the price.

    Now back to politics,  A couple of GOP election offices have been vandalized, the one in North Carolina was burned down and a note was spray painted on the wall "NAZI Republicans get out".   And in Delaware, a GOP office had their windows busted down.  Now it is funny that the democrats are always blaming the conservatives for violence but they are the ones causing it from interrupting rally's for Trump to vandalism of vehicles, and many other things...I have never seen the emotions as inflamed as they are now and I blame the media for that, they have as a group overwhelming are in the bag for the democrats.   It is funny that something that is supposed to be protected in the U.S Constitution, the 1st amendment is being used by the statist to suppress the opposing candidate and it is troubling that more people are not aware or flat don't care.  I truly fear for my country and what my son will have to deal with as an adult.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monday Music "Hysteria" by Def Leppard

You know you have been doing "Monday Music" for a while when you have to check your website to make sure that you haven't already "ran a song".   I was surprised that I didn't already run this song in the past.  This is one of my favorite "Def Leppard" songs.  I bought this album in both vinyl and CD.  Where I was stationed, we would go to "Robinson Barracks" in Stuttgart to visit the big PX, and for a while they had a hard time keeping this album in stock.   I rank this album along with U2 "The Joshua Tree" as the most iconic albums of the late 80's.  Def Leppard puts on a hell of a show, I saw them in Europe and from what I have been told, they still so.  Back then I had the "stupid" money to lay out for a concert but now my taste have changed, something about crowds I suppose and the cost.  I just can't see dropping the money they want for tickets in this day and age.   Next week I will run a song from the 70's, I already have one in mind ;)

"Hysteria" is a love song by the English hard rock band Def Leppard. It is the tenth track on their 1987 album of the same name and was released as the fourth single from that album in November 1987. On VH1 Storytellers: Def Leppard, lead singer Joe Elliott revealed that the song title came from drummer Rick Allen.

The mellow ballad features a clean guitar melody that is very reminiscent of "Goodbye Blue Sky" by Pink Floyd, and heavily multi-tracked vocals in its chorus. The "extreme" nature of producer Mutt Lange's recording methods is also exampled in the chorus, where the clean guitar chords were recorded one note at a time as opposed to the traditional method of strumming them, in effect "building" a chord by recording the notes that make them up as one would build a wall by stacking bricks upon each other one-by-one as confirmed by recording engineer Mike Shipley. An acoustic rendition of the song was performed by Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen on the Hysteria edition of VH1's Classic Albums.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Worthy Rant...

I saw this link originally from Kenny's place then from Peters Place.  I read the rant early this morning.  The use of the "F-bombs" were totally artistic as a rant went and it is one of the best rants I have seen.   I have changed some of the words to make it PG for my son that reads my blog. 

                                                  The pic is compliments of "Facebook"  The explanations at the bottom are compliments of "google" and "PIAP" I shamelessly ripped off from somewhere else.

If you don’t like coarse language, the back button is located at the top left of your internet browser…
I generally avoid discussing politics. I don’t believe in human saviors. I do; however, believe in sticking together.
If the Republicans pull a stunt, and Trump runs third party, fantastic.
Mission complete.
It’s winner-take-freaking-all. Either he gets in the Captain’s Chair and turns the ship around, or he burns the damm house down on his way out.
The Republican Party, remember them?
They were the ones that were going to end illegal immigration and eviscerate CommieCare™. So for all you, “non-socialist“, “non-politically-correct” folks out there, why would you continue to not only reward failure, but continue to show up, and give support to the party that betrays you time, after time, after time?
You’re like a bunch of bitchy battered spouses.

A freaking meateater shows up to kick your abusive husband’s ass, and you go full blown Stockholm.
Then, during the primaries, these freaking crony-capitalist, anti-free-market goons have the audacity to parade around the biggest dogpile of invertebrates this side of the Precambrian Era, and actually expected us to accept these wishy washy, limp-wristed clowns?
I’ve never seen such a pack of worthless buffoons in my life. Kasich? Christie!? Rubio!?! Are you  kidding me!? 300,000,000 Americans, and these damp washcloths with pulses were the best the country could come up with?
Then, to add insult to injury, and prove to the world that they were more than willing to cut their own nose off to spite their face, they were ready to throw the primary process into the wood chipper, because you, me, and everyone else is incapable of deciding who the hell we want to vote for!? The GOP Establishment just told you "degenerates" it doesn’t give a flying soggy biscuit what you meaningless serfs think; it will pick its own candidate, “screw you very much“.
And you’re still willing to throw your bibs on, and scootch on up to the crap trough smorgasbord!?!?
The faux-outrage from crapweasels like Ryan only show who the worms are. It’s like watching a 500,000,000-lumen light shining down as the cockroaches scatter.
Trump could run as a the candidate from the Scientology Xenu Collective Party, and he will get my vote.
Trump could whip his Dugan out and piss in Anderson Cooper’s face on live TV…
…Still voting for him.
Enough is enough.
Trump is harder than woodpecker lips. He ante’d up. He’s all-in. And if he doesn’t win, it will be the biggest failure of his career. Period. The demonization won’t stop if he simply loses.
He threw down the gauntlet, stepped up to the plate, and has been a thorn in the side to every corrupt plutocrat, every sniveling millennial weasel, every social justice sissy, every man-spreading offense-taking-horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing-soon-to-be-spinster-vegan-cat-lady, every TelePrompTer-regurgitating dick-squeezer working for state-run media, every deadbeat-handout-sucking-grifter, every tip-toeing-closeted-pedophile-politician, every crony-corporatist-tax-payer-subsidized-offshoring-swindler, every lowlife-border-serpent coming here to mooch, every Stars-and-Stripes-asswiping-Old-Glory-burning-Communist-weeniesmoker; in short, he is an affront to the sensibilities of the worst in America.
He’s the radical Left’s Antichrist; he is everything they hate about America.
And he is the last ticket out of this mess.
He’s the last chance to dance, boys and girls.
It’s not about VOWOOT*…it’s about seeing the ultimate “SCREW YOU” through to the bloody, bitter end.
He’s endured >12 Calendar months of every vile adjective these crap-drapers can throw at him, up to, and including, the cultural marxists’ most powerful weapon in their arsenal, “racist.”
He’s endured the entire propagandistic might of the media bullcrap machine, endlessly.
He’s still there.
The best they can come up with is the man says nasty things? Mean things?
Grow the hell up, you damned cowards.
The Anti-Free-Market Corporatists, and the Political Establishment have sold your freaking country down the river, and you’re gonna get your panties in a knot over a guy who said he wants sink his ding-dong into a hot babe?
If that’s where your priorities are, you deserve every damned ounce of what’s coming.
Ultimately this isn’t about Trump.
It’s never been about Trump.
Trump is merely the silver bullet into the heart of the sellout crapweasels.
Trump’s support is a direct result of the seething, white-hot rage in the American spirit.
He’s the final gasp of a dying body politic of red-blooded Americans, manifested in flesh.
He is a political weapon thrust into the side of Leviathan, as a last-ditch Hail Mary effort to expunge the self-anointed “know-betters” before they take the whole house down in a blazing cacophony of nuclear fire-and-brimstone.
Trump is the people’s Ambassador. His message, is nothing more profound than,
Whether he wins the election, loses the election, has the votes rigged against him, or the Repugnant party disowns him; it’s irrelevant – we’ve got a lot of work to do, and the future of American sovereignty, not-beholden to back-room deals conjured up by Corruptocratican globalist parasites, literally depends on anyone who doesn’t want to see their grandkids living in a third-world hellhole, while perennial near-felons suck caviar and spit in the face of the Rule of Law.
Whether he wins, and wins YUGELY, or is crushed miserably; it doesn’t matter.
That said, just remember, by showing up to the polls in November, and yanking the crank that says, “Donald J. Trump,” you, and millions like you, will have effectively sent the biggest, meanest, most hateful bird-finger in the direction of the Deep(Dark) State possible; you’ll have utterly embarrassed them. You will have, if nothing else, given the most thorough, “SCREW YOU,” of your life to the disgusting scum that have floated to the top, while simultaneously illustrating that the biggest propaganda machine this side of Goebbels was utterly incapable of stopping you.
It will be a solid, “SCREW YOU,” to all the political pansies, fruitcakes, weenies, and wimps, crapping their pants in fake “outrage.”
It will be a solid, “SCREW YOU,” to all the enabling bagmen, henchmen, goons, and goobers, that lick the king’s boot for a living.
It will be a solid, “SCREW YOU,” to all the self-appreciative, holier-than-thou, coffee-shop “intellectuals.”
And, most importantly, it will be a solid, “SCREW YOU,” to the state-run media in this country, along with the message that they may have some folks fooled, but this time – it ain’t you.
And no matter what the hell happens – don’t get defeated. I’m seeing a lot of folks tricked by bogus polling numbers, and other hocus-pocus.
See also: manufactured “consensus.”
Reach down, verify your sacks are still attached, and get some fight back in you, you damned wimps. 
Whether the WWOTW*** is roundly defeated through the electoral process in November or not, the “SCREW YOU” remains the same.

*Voting Our Way Out Of This
**There Is No Voting Our Way Out Of this
***Wiched Witch of the West  Or as I call her PIAP or Pig In A Pantsuit

Friday, October 14, 2016

The B-36 Peacemaker

 This started out as a quick post but turned into several hours of research and googling as they say.  I remembered seeing a picture of a B36 in a comic book from the early 70's that I had and I always thought such a plane didn't exist.  I thought when I was younger that we went from the B29 to the B47 to the B52.  Not until highschool did I find out that there actually was a B36 Peacemaker.  I saw one at the Airforce Museum and that thing is Huuuge to paraphrase Donald Trump.   I later saw a movie with Jimmy Stewart called "Strategic Air Command " and there was footage of the B-36 in action.  I thought the movie was pretty neat from an historical and technical perspective and any movie with Jimmy Stewart is a good movie.

Shown here is a 1950 era propaganda produced by the U.S. Signal Corp highlighting the then new B-36 intercontinental nuclear bomber.
Playing in the U.S. movie theatres of the era, the film served the dual purpose of not only informing the U.S. public about U.S. air power but to also serve notice to the Soviets about what awaited them should they step out of line.
Built by Convair, the B-36 “Peacemaker” was a strategic bomber operated solely by the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1949 – 1959.

It was the largest mass-produced piston engine aircraft ever made. Eclipsing the wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built, the Peacemaker measured in at a whopping 230 ft.

RB-36s in production - note the heavily-framed "greenhouse" bubble canopy over the cockpit area, used for all production B-36 airframes
RB-36s in production – note the heavily-framed “greenhouse” bubble canopy over the cockpit area, used for all production B-36 airframes
Built specifically for the purpose of nuclear warfare, the B-36 was the first bomber capable of delivering a payload of any nuclear weapon within the U.S. arsenal without needing any modifications.
With four bomb bays, a range of 10,000 miles and a maximum payload of 87,200 lbs, the B-36 was the world’s first manned bomber with intercontinental range capabilities without the need to refuel.
The B-36 was the USAF Strategic Air Command’s (SAC) primary nuclear weapons delivery arm until it 1955 when it was replaced by the jet-powered Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.
The first of its kind, the B-36 set the standard in terms of range and payload for all future U.S. intercontinental bombers.


In 1947 the United States Air Force became an independent service, carved from the Army and placed under the control of the newly created National Military Establishment. The new service faced daunting challenges. There was the threat from a new adversary, the Soviet Union. But there were challenges at home as well: from the Navy, which viewed those in the new uniforms as rivals for diminishing defense funds; and from within, as the Air Force struggled to introduce jet-powered aircraft into operational service.

     In the spring of 1949, the country got a new secretary of defense: Louis Johnson, a wealthy lawyer, aspiring politician, and former official with the Convair Corporation, which was a longtime supplier of U.S. military aircraft. That last connection, which today would seem a scandal worthy of a special prosecutor, was common at the time. Who knew more about weapons than the men who built them?

When President Harry Truman ordered Johnson to economize, he obliged in April by canceling the 65,000-ton super-carrier United States, the keel of which had been laid only a week before. But the carrier was the linchpin of the Navy's plan to equip itself for the strategic nuclear mission. Carrying aircraft able to deliver atomic bombs to a target 1,000 miles away, the United States would have projected naval air power across the world's oceans, just the mission the Air Force wanted for its land-based bombers. Johnson's order, though only two sentences long, set off an interservice squabble the likes of which the nation had rarely seen.
Relations between the Army and Navy had first soured in the 1920s over which service should defend the U.S. coast, and World War II had only sharpened their rivalry. Now the Navy viewed the postwar creation of the Air Force and the Department of Defense as twin political threats to its primacy as the defender of U.S. shores. The spat that followed cancellation of the United States became known as "the revolt of the admirals," and it pitted the Navy's aircraft carrier against the Air Force's strategic bombing force--more specifically, Convair's monster six-engine bomber, the B-36, which had entered service in the summer of 1948.

Now it was a year later, and matters were coming to a head. The first shot in the battle was fired by Cedric Worth, a civilian assistant to Navy Undersecretary Dan Kimball for "special study and research," as he later described his duties under oath. It came in the form of a nine-page memo for the Navy's internal use (though he admitted giving copies to three members of Congress and to aircraft manufacturer Glenn Martin). The document condemned the B-36 as "an obsolete and unsuccessful aircraft" and charged that the Air Force had acquired it only after Convair had contributed $6.5 million to various Democratic politicians. See Revolt of the Admirals

     The theme was picked up by the Navy League, which spent $500,000 trashing the mega-bomber. (That amount, at least, was the estimate of the rival Air Force Association. If these sums don't seem exciting, consider that in 1949, the minimum wage in the aircraft industry was 50 cents an hour.) The B-36 was described as a "lumbering cow" and a "billion-dollar blunder," and the Navy claimed it had at least three jet fighters that could leave the monster behind at 40,000 feet. The admirals wanted a matchup, but they would never get one.
     The Joint Chiefs of Staff told Johnson the test was a bad idea. And the Air Force said it had already demonstrated that fighters couldn't maneuver at that altitude. Simulated B-36 attacks on bases in Florida and California were met by three front-line fighters: a North American F-86A Sabre,

 a Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star,

 and a Republic F-84 Thunderjet.

 Radar picked up the intruder 30 minutes out; the fighters took 26 minutes to climb to 40,000 feet and another two minutes to find the B-36. The fighters were faster than the big bomber, but their wing loading (the ratio of aircraft weight to area of the wings) was so high that they couldn't turn with the bomber without stalling in the thin air. Even if a B-36 were detected and Soviet fighters caught it, the pilot could evade them by making S-turns, said the Air Force.

     Of course, the Russians wouldn't have been flying USAF jets, as British engineer Harold Saxon argued in an edition of Aviation Week that appeared in mid-summer. While the Americans valued speed and therefore reduced the span and area of their jets' wings, the British built fighters that could maneuver at stratospheric heights, beginning with the de Havilland Vampire, which had been designed for the first British turbojet engine, and which by 1949 had done "a lot of development flying since 1947 between 50,000 and 60,000 feet," according to Saxon.

     By early June, the battle had moved into the halls of Congress when James Van Zandt, a Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania and captain in the Navy reserve, took up the charges leaked by Worth's memo. On the House floor, Van Zandt demanded an investigation of the "ugly, disturbing reports" that the bomber project would have been canceled a year ago if not for wheeling and dealing by Louis Johnson, other Convair officials, and Stuart Symington, the civilian head of the Air Force.

     Symington, in a speech at Brookline, Massachusetts, had summed up the final judgment on the B-36: The bomber could "take off from bases on this continent, penetrate enemy defenses, destroy any major urban industrial area in the world, and return non-stop to the point of take-off." Symington's claim was preposterous, but it was widely believed. So Congress did what it does best: It scheduled hearings. But they were delayed until August, infuriating Van Zandt, and also broadened into a debate about the strategic roles of the Air Force and Navy. During the dramatic proceedings, a browbeaten Cedric Worth was unmasked as the author of the memo that had incited the ruckus and forced to recant everything. "I think I was wrong," he told the committee.
"You made a grave error, did you not?" he was asked.

     U.S. bombers had been getting steadily bigger, so the enormity of the B-36 may have seemed part of an American pattern, but the bomber actually owed its immense bulk to a succession of hostile dictators, starting with Adolf Hitler. In the spring of 1941, German troops held most of western Europe and seemed likely to conquer Britain next. The U.S. Army asked airframe builders for an airplane that could take off from American soil, bomb Germany, and fly home.
The most promising design came from Consolidated Aircraft in San Diego, builder of the B-24 Liberator, which was just entering service with U.S. and British air forces. Consolidated proposed a quantum leap over the B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers as well as Boeing's next-generation "very heavy" B-29 Superfortress. The B-36 was to be a mega-bomber, spanning 230 feet from wingtip to wingtip. It would cross the Atlantic, enter German airspace at 300 mph, and drop 10,000 pounds of bombs from 40,000 feet, too high for flak or fighters to trouble it. Impressed, the Army ordered a pair of prototypes on November 15, 1941.

     Three weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. suddenly found itself fighting a two-ocean war. The B-36 went on the back burner while Consolidated turned out thousands of its proven Liberators. The B-36 suffered another setback when its facilities were moved to Texas, and yet another when the designers were asked to build a transport based on the bomber.
While Europe was pounded from bases in England, Japan was to be targeted by the Boeing Superfortress flying from China. The Japanese set out to capture the Chinese airfields--and thereby moved the B-36 back to the front burner. From Hawaii, it could bomb Tokyo as it had once been expected to bomb Berlin. In June 1943 the Army asked for 100 copies of the mega-bomber, with the first to arrive in the summer of 1945.

     The U.S. Marine Corps moved faster than Convair (Consolidated merged with Vultee in 1943, and the new name was coined then). Shortly after Guam, Saipan, and Tinian were in U.S. hands, the Superforts began their terrible punishment of the Japanese home islands. The Pacific war ended six months earlier than expected--and six days before the rollout of the first B-36, its nose jacked up to lower its tail, which was too tall for the hangar door. It debuted as the Peacemaker, but the name never took, and even today it is better remembered simply as the B-36.

     In a country celebrating peace, the prototype would have been the last of the line, but the Soviet Union turned out to be as land-hungry as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Nonetheless, the U.S. military packed for home in a stand-down so thorough that it was "Not a demobilization"," as General Leon Johnson noted in a 1954 interview, "it was a rout." The spring of 1946 became a replay of 1941, with a hostile dictator swallowing pieces of Europe and the Americans unable to do anything about it. The "strategic" card--the threat of wholesale destruction by nuclear weapons--seemed the only one that a demobilized, budget-cutting United States could play. But which of the services would play it?
When Congress had created the independent air force in 1947, the new service had been organized around two combat arms: a Tactical Air Command (TAC) to support the ground troops and a Strategic Air Command (SAC) to take the war to the enemy. The Air Force would have a fleet twice the size of the Navy's--24,000 aircraft to 11,500--and only the Air Force would have heavy bombers.
Following the U.S. withdrawal to the continental United States and the emergence of Joseph Stalin's ambitions, SAC's strategic mission was in the ascendant and there was no longer any question who the "enemy" was. By happenstance, the long-distance payload of the B-36 equalled the weight of one atomic bomb--roughly 10,000 pounds--and its combat radius equalled the great-circle route from Maine to Leningrad. Pending the arrival of its new $5.7-million-dollar baby, SAC made do with 160 veteran B-29 Superforts, and it was these aircraft that answered the call to deploy to European bases when the Russians shut off ground access to Berlin in the summer of 1948.

     It was a colossal bluff. In all of SAC, only 27 Superforts had the "Silver Plate" modifications needed to carry an atomic bomb, and these were all assigned to the 509th Bomb Group, which stayed home. As for bombs, the U.S. "stockpile" contained exactly 13, controlled by the Atomic Energy Commission, and President Harry Truman refused to say if he'd ever release them to the military. Even if he had given the order to launch an attack, the 509th would have needed five days to pack up, fly to an AEC depot, load the nukes, and move overseas.

     Perhaps the reality of the situation didn't matter to the Soviets. As they demonstrated again and again during the cold war, their pattern was to push until they met a determined response, then back off and wait for the next opportunity. They could easily have prevented an airlift by jamming U.S. radio beacons, but they didn't. And when General Curtis LeMay, to everyone's astonishment, fed and heated Berlin by air, the Russians quietly reopened land routes in the spring of 1949. The blockade succeeded only in burnishing LeMay's reputation, heightening American fear of Russia, and confirming the belief that the B-36 was America's best hope to contain Communism.
In June 1948, Convair delivered the first operational B-36A to SAC's 7th Bomb Group at Carswell Air Force Base, across the runway from its Fort Worth plant. Big as the B-29 Superfort was, it could nearly fit beneath one wing of a B-36. Despite the difference in size, the two airplanes had similar vertical tails, and they had slim fuselages, like cigarettes, round in cross-section, with two pressurized crew cabins separated by two bomb bays and connected by a tunnel.

     But the wings were different. The Superfort's were thin, straight, and glider-like, while the B-36's wings were more than seven feet thick at the root, enough for a crewman to crawl in and reach the engines or the landing gear in flight. The wings were tapered, with the leading edges swept back, and the effect of that, combined with the wings' location so far back on the fuselage, made the airplane appear out of balance. Strangest of all, the B-36's six Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major engines were faired into the trailing edges, with the propellers located aft in the pusher configuration. Although it was supposed to reduce the propeller swirl's turbulence over the wing, the pusher design was rarely used on U.S. aircraft. Apparently it worked, though, because the B-36 had very low drag. The main drawback was that air for cooling the engines was ducted from intakes in the leading edge of the wing, and there was never enough of it, especially at high altitude.

     The propellers were 19 feet in diameter, and to keep the tips from going supersonic they were geared to turn less than half as fast as the engines. The engines and propellers produced an unforgettable throbbing sound when the B-36 flew overhead. A friend of mine remembers the sound from his boyhood as a "captivating drone. The noise went down to your heels, it was so resonant. It just stopped you in your tracks. You looked up into the sky to try to find this thing, and it was just a tiny cross, it was so high." Others remember that it rattled windows on the ground from 40,000 feet.
The airplane's most eye-catching feature was the Plexiglas canopy that enclosed a flight deck, which, while ample for a crew of four, seemed small on such a whale of a plane. A dome below the nose housed a radar antenna, and two transparent blisters allowed the crew to aim the guns and observe any mechanical breakdowns. The effect was a face like a prairie dog's peering from a burrow, with the flight deck for eyes, the scanning blisters for ears, and the radome for tucked-up paws.
The ailerons, flaps, rudder, and elevators had a combined total surface area greater than both wings of a B-24. The pilot's control input moved a trim tab in the opposite direction, forcing the control surface in the desired direction.

Two flight engineers monitored the six 4,360-cubic-inch engines, each with four rows of seven cylinders, a configuration that earned the nickname "corncob." The bombardier, navigator, radioman, and gunners brought the population of the forward cabin to 10.
You could visit the aft cabin by lying supine on a wheeled cart and pulling yourself along an overhead rope through a tunnel 85 feet long and two feet in diameter. The cart also served as a dumbwaiter, sending hot entrees from the galley to the forward cabin. The aft compartment accommodated five men and was equipped with bunks, an electric range, and the world's smallest urinal, which had to be voided to the outside at intervals. B-36 veterans like to tell the story of the new captain who came aft to relieve himself but didn't ask for instructions and, as a result, peed on his boots.

     Later models had larger crews, up to 22 in reconnaissance versions. And everyone had a job to do--two jobs, in the case of the gunners. It took the ground crew six hours to prepare the bomber for a mission, and the flight crew needed another hour for a preflight check involving 600 steps, beginning with climbing the landing gear and removing the clamps that kept the gear from folding accidentally.
The B-36A couldn't fight--the electrically operated cannon were so trouble-prone they were simply eliminated--much less scramble to retaliate, and it ended up becoming little more than a crew trainer. Twenty-two were delivered, each virtually handmade, and "so flimsily built," says Jim Little, who served on one after it was converted to an RB-36E, "that the upper wing skin would actually pull loose from the wing ribs." Sometimes, Little recalls in the book RB-36 Days at Rapid City, "you would meet [the plane] with a crew of 30 or 40 sheet metal men."

     The propellers were reversible for braking on landing, but sometimes they reversed in flight or while the airplane was straining to take off--at least once with fatal consequences. The stainless steel firewalls enclosing the engines cracked. The cylinders overheated. Lead in the gasoline fouled the spark plugs at cruising speed. Each airplane had 336 spark plugs, and after a flight lasting a day and a half, a mechanic would have to haul a bucket of replacement plugs to the airplane to service all six engines. The engines leaked oil, and sometimes a flight engineer had to shut one down because it had exhausted its allotment of 150 gallons.

     Then there was the "wet wing." The outboard fuel tanks were formed by the wing panels and sealed at the junctions, and after the wing flexed for a few hundred hours the sealant was apt to fail. Jim Little recalls that one airplane leaked so badly "the ground underneath was just purple [from the dye in the high-octane gasoline]--it was raining fuel under that airplane."
Pilot opinion of the B-36 tended to run to the extremes, but most crew members loved it--"this big, wonderful old bird," Jim Edmundson calls it. As a colonel in the early 1950s, Edmundson commanded a B-36 group at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. But even he admitted that the airplane could be a chore for its pilot--"like sitting on your front porch and flying your house around."

     Of course most of the pilots were young and eager, and the older men had flown worse contraptions during the war. "It was a noisy airplane; it was big," former radioman/gunner Raleigh Watson recalled at a B-36 reunion at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California last September, "but it was comfortable, and I think we felt it was a safe airplane, a very well-built airplane." Moxie Shirley, a pilot with more than a thousand hours in the B-36, loved the airplane, declaring that it "kept the Russians off our backs." But he went on to add, "Every crew that ever flew that airplane had stories that would make your hair stand on end."
Ed Griemsmann expressed another view in Thundering Peacemaker: "A horrible, lazy beast to fly," he told the book's author. Griemsmann survived a fiery crash in 1956. Most B-36 crashes were fiery because of the magnesium used in its construction. Rather than fly another, he said, he'd join the infantry.

     If the B-36A was ineffective, the Strategic Air Command was little better. Its first commander, General George Kenney, didn't believe in the B-36, arguing in 1947 that the bomber was too slow to survive over enemy territory, with engines and an airframe that couldn't withstand an 8,000-mile flight. Kenney urged the Air Force to put its money into bombers that could fly at the speed of sound, even if that meant depending on overseas bases.
Kenney was right, of course. But at the time, his advice seemed disloyal, and he compounded the offense by letting his deputy run SAC while he himself campaigned for the top job in the Air Force. Not long after the first B-36A arrived, Kenney was fired. SAC's new commander was General Curtis LeMay, the pudgy, ferocious, cigar-smoking general famed for his B-29 tactics in the Pacific and for the more recent and successful Berlin airlift.

     "We didn't have one crew, not one crew, in the entire command who could do a professional job," LeMay wrote of the SAC he inherited. He challenged his crews to stage a practice bomb raid on Dayton, Ohio, from 30,000 feet, using photographs taken in 1941--the best they'd have for the Soviet Union. (All SAC had were captured photographs the Germans had taken during the occupation of western Russia. Of the country beyond Moscow, there were no photographs available at all.) After the fiasco that ensued, LeMay whipped the crews into shape. He moved the best people from other groups to make the nuclear-capable 509th combat-ready, then did the same for the next most promising group.

By the fall of 1948 an improved B-36B had arrived, armed with pairs of 20-millimeter guns in the nose and tail, and six turrets that opened out like flowers in a slow-motion film; the gunners aimed from remote blisters. On December 7, the seventh anniversary of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel John Bartlett took off in a B-36 from Carswell Air Force Base in Texas, flew to Hawaii, dropped a 10,000-pound dummy bomb, and returned without being spotted on the island's radar. LeMay must have bitten through his cigar when he got the news. If he could reach Hawaii from Texas, he could hit the Soviet Union from Maine. And if he could figure out how to operate the B-36 in the cold of Alaska, all of Siberia would fall under its shadow.
The B model also had the "Grand Slam" modifications needed for carrying a hydrogen bomb, which was 30 feet long and weighed 43,000 pounds and had been created in such secrecy that Convair didn't have the dimensions in time for the A models.

     The B-36B was the last true reciprocating-engine bomber in the U.S. strategic bomber force. In hindsight, it seems obvious that the mega-bomber should have been jet-powered from the start. But the turbojet had been developed during World War II for fast-climbing, high-flying interceptors, and they gulped fuel at a prodigious rate. Nobody dreamed they could cross an ocean. Two developments changed everything: a new generation of twin-spool turbojets with markedly improved fuel consumption and, more significantly, the advent of inflight refueling. By 1949, Boeing's B-47 Stratojet was entering production, and the B-52 Stratofortress, an intercontinental giant, was making progress on paper.

     Even before the uproar started in Congress in the summer of '49, the Air Force was apparently worried about the vulnerability of the B-36, and as an interim measure asked Convair to hang a pair of jet pods near the B-36's wingtips. By March, a B-36B had flown with four Allison J35s installed. On the production versions that emerged in July, each pod housed two General Electric J-47-GE-19s modified to run on gasoline--tiny compared to the Wasp Majors, but effectively doubling the airplane's installed horsepower. The jets were employed for takeoff, climbing to extreme altitudes, and dashing across hostile territory. With "six turning and four burning," as the saying went, a B-36 could finally top 400 mph. But fighter jockeys were flirting with the sound barrier in their North American F-86 Sabre jets, and whatever the Americans deployed--nukes, missiles, supersonic jets--the Russians matched, beginning with copies and sometimes ending with improved weapons.
For the benefit of Congress, the Air Force then released what Aviation Week described as "sensational new performance figures" on the jet-assisted B-36D: 435-mph top speed, 50,000-foot ceiling, range of up to 12,000 miles. LeMay added his personal pledge: "I believe we can get the B-36 over a target and not have the enemy know it is there until the bombs hit."
Even George Kenney came out of exile from his post as commander of the officer training center, Air University, to praise the airplane. "The B-36 went higher, faster, and farther than anybody thought it would," he said, "and the pilots liked it. It was a lucky freak." However, Kenney guessed that both the U.S. Navy Banshee and the Royal Air Force Vampire could intercept the B-36 in daylight; he recommended that it be used only on night raids.

     On September 5, Aviation Week reported "Symington and Defense Chiefs Exonerated," as the House Armed Services Committee gave a clean bill of health to Johnson, Symington, the Air Force, and Convair. There wasn't "one iota, not one scintilla, of evidence...that would support charges or insinuations that collusion, fraud, corruption, influence, or favoritism played any part whatsoever in the procurement of the B-36 bomber," the committee concluded. Even Congressman Van Zandt voted for the absolving resolution.
At 4 a.m. local time on June 25, 1950, North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel. In November they were joined by Chinese "volunteers." These developments marked the end of President Truman's defense economy drive. First Germany, then Japan, then Russia, and now events in Korea had succeeded in advancing the cause of the B-36. Suddenly plenty of money was available for mega-bombers, and for super-carriers as well.

     The Korean war produced another milestone for SAC: Truman released nine atomic bombs to the military. They probably didn't leave the country, but the B-36 did, flying from Texas to airfields in Britain and Morocco in the spring and fall of 1951. Only six airplanes were involved and their visits were short, but the message couldn't have escaped Moscow's attention. However briefly, the capital and most of the territory of the Soviet Union had come within the combat radius of the B-36.
Altogether, 1951 was a good year for mega-bombers. Margaret Bourke-White rhapsodized over the B-36 in a photo-essay for Life magazine, with photographs taken at 41,000 feet, where the sky "was a color such as I've never seen, the darkest blue imaginable, yet luminous like the hottest cobalt, too brilliant for the eyes to bear." She photographed fluffy white contrails streaming from the reciprocating engines, a 55-foot scaffold used to repair the rudder, and (from both ends) the marvelous flying boom that refueled bombers in flight.

     An alert reader might have noted some oddities in Bourke-White's essay. The bomber being refueled was a Superfort, not a B-36, none of which was ever equipped for inflight refueling. She rode in a B-47, its raked tail clearly visible in one photograph. And the accompanying map depicted a Soviet Union surrounded by small bombers based in Alaska, Canada, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Japan: the Peacemaker hunkered at home.

     But if Superforts were on the Russian border, and if midair refueling allowed them to fly indefinitely, and with the Stratojet coming on line, why bother with the B-36? The jet pods had added so much weight and gobbled so much fuel that the combat radius had dropped first to 3,525 miles, then to 3,110. What was LeMay planning? From Maine, South Dakota, and Washington, the B-36 could barely scratch the edges of the Soviet empire, and even at those bases it faced hard sledding in the winter. At Rapid City, mechanics had to build a repair dock with sliding doors and cutouts for the fuselage so they could work on the engines while the tail stayed out in the snow. There were SAC bases in Alaska and Greenland, but the climate was so forbidding that LeMay never stationed any B-36s there. The Arctic airfields were used as staging points, with the bombers returning to the south 48 after each mission. Another ploy was the shuttle mission, with a takeoff from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. After bombing Irkutsk, in central Siberia, the bombers would have refueled at Okinawa before returning home.

     But to do any real damage, LeMay had to launch it from an overseas base or order a one-way mission. He would have scoffed at this latter-day quarterbacking, of course. "The B-36 was often called an interim bomber," he wrote in his memoir, Mission With LeMay. "For my dough, every bomber which ever has been or ever will be is an interim bomber." He had a point: at the time, SAC even considered the B-52 nothing more than a fill-in for the supersonic B-70.
LeMay may have been loyal to his hardware, but there were signs that General Kenney wasn't alone in his initial doubts about the B-36. One scheme would have equipped it with a pilotless drone to fight off enemy interceptors. Then the Air Force experimented with a manned parasite--the XF-85 Goblin--which would ride to war in a bomb bay. Still later, Republic adapted its F-84 to snuggle into the belly of the beast. By 1953 this last concept had changed from one of defending the B-36 to replacing it: The mother plane would linger offshore while the Thunderjet dashed in to take photographs or drop a bomb.

     Finally, in 1955, Convair took a different approach, stripping the mega-bomber to the essentials. Just as LeMay had gambled his B-29s in 1945, sending them low and fast over Tokyo armed only with tail guns, SAC got a "featherweight" B-36 with only two guns, a smaller crew, no stove or other luxuries, and, in the bargain, a longer range. Many of the earlier models were modified to the new standard, especially the reconnaissance versions. Indeed, it's possible that LeMay's fondness for the B-36 may have had less to do with its potential as a bomber than its value as a spyplane. SAC ended up with 369 of the jet-recip hybrids, including modified versions, and more than a third were reconnaissance bombers. The RB-36 could carry an atomic bomb, but its principal weapon was a camera the size of a Geo Metro, set in a photo studio that replaced the forward bomb bay. Loaded with a roll of film 18 inches wide and 1,000 feet long, this great camera once photographed a golf course from 40,000 feet, and in the contact print, on display at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, an actual golf ball can be seen. If an RB-36 could see a golf ball from eight miles up, it could see tanks, airplanes, missiles, and factories. Surely this was the task that LeMay saw for the Peacemaker: With its enormous wings and extra fuel, who knows how high and how far it could fly? B-36 crews speak of 45-hour missions, presumably with fuel cells instead of nukes in the rear bomb bays; at cruise speed, a "featherweight" could travel almost 9,000 miles in that period. The official ceiling was 41,300 feet, but again, crews say that they routinely flew higher than 50,000 feet, and one man--John McCoy, quoted in Thundering Peacemaker--boasted of soaring to 58,000 feet. On missions over China, McCoy said, his RB-36 was chased by MiG fighters that couldn't climb anywhere near it. U.S. fighter pilots of that period also recall B-36s cruising comfortably well above their own maximum altitude. Not until the advent of the "century series" fighters--the F-100 and up--would the B-36 be challenged. Whether the RB-36 ever overflew Russia is anyone's guess, but it was the U.S. altitude and distance champ until the Lockheed U-2 came on line toward the end of the decade.

     In the end, the B-36 turned out to be a place holder for the B-52 Stratofortress. Convair attempted to stave off Boeing's intercontinental jet bomber with the YB-60, which premiered as the YB-36G, with eight jets, a five-man crew, completely redesigned swept wings, a speed of 508 mph, and a 2,920-mile combat radius--in short, a knock-off that was inferior in every respect to its competitor. Boeing's bombers had the advantage of having been designed for jet power from the start. The Air Force didn't even bother to supply engines for the second YB-60 prototype.
Though obsolescent, the B-36 still had some momentum. Before descending into retirement, it made its first overseas deployment with a USAF unit in 1955, to Britain and Guam. In the same year, it starred in a Hollywood epic, Strategic Air Command--though in Jimmy Stewart's final scene with Frank Lovejoy, who played the LeMay-like general, a model of an early B-52 can be seen on the general's desk. The B-36 remained in the inventory for four more years, while the new Stratofortress was being tweaked to its full potential.

      The B-36 was nowhere near as durable as the B-52 would prove to be, but it did the work asked of it. And eventually, the inter-service rivalry that led to the Congressional eruption over the big bomber's strategic mission died down, with the Navy's missile-submarine fleet garnering a permanent place in the strategic "triad" along with bombers and land-based missiles. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Peacemaker is that it lived up to its name. The B-36 never went to war, never dropped a bomb in anger, nor (so far as we know) even fired its cannon at an enemy airplane. Created at a time when the atomic bomb redefined strategic air power and the turbojet redefined performance, its career spanned the crossroads that divided two era

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Army/Navy Store....

I ran across this from the "Art of Manliness", I check out that site and it has some interesting tidbits of information.   When I was a kid living in Alabama, my dad was stationed at Fort McClellen with the CID office there.  There was a surplus store I would go into when I had a chance, I would get lost in all the cool surplus stuff they had laying around.  When we moved to Georgia when my dad got transferred to Fort Gillam, there was a surplus store in Forest Park I would go into.  I remembered pricing an LBE(Load Bearing Equipment) and a helmet.  It came up to $40 and to a kid, that was a LOT of money...well I am an adult(egads) and I still think $40 is a lot of money.  But I would go in there and walk around and buy books and some warsaw pact surplus.  I remembered buying a Vietnam era cover for my steel pot that I had since the Alabama days at the same Forest Park Army/Navy store.
I also bought the liner that goes inside it.  The store is still there but the prices are not "surplus" anymore.  Bummer, I attribute it to the GWOT and the "prepper" movement.  When a lot of people are buying gear for the TEOTWAWKI and there is a lot of Chinese knockoff stuff in there, but it is better to look at something and touch it rather than buy it online.  I got burned buying a "assault pack" from an outfit called "epicdeals.com" it was on facebook.  Well the item was a cheap Chinese knockoff and it was a piece of crap.  Granted it would up being $29.99 including shipping.  For $60  I could have bought the real McCoy at the surplus store and saved me the annoyance of pissing away my hard earned money.  I still go there and peruse around to see what they got.  That is the place I went to to get the patches for my "bump" cap that my employer makes us wear.
 I don't want to see "surplus stores " go out of business, it is almost like treasure hunting.  I still take my son in there and he likes looking at the stuff they have.  But sometimes it does makes me feel old when I see stuff that was issued after I got out and it is considered "surplus".     I will continue to go until they are not there anymore. 

The Rise and Fall of the Army Surplus Store

You’ve probably been to an army surplus store.
They all look pretty much the same wherever you live. Surplus stores can be found in strip malls in the rough part of town or as stand-alone warehouse-style buildings with corrugated metal roofing and very few windows. They’re easy to miss while driving because they typically only announce themselves with a small yellow sign emblazoned with “Army Surplus” in black lettering.
When you walk in, your nose is met with that distinct army surplus smell: musty canvas mixed with metal and rubber. Flags hang from the ceiling — an American flag, flags from the different branches of the military, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Every conceivable space in the store is filled with product. You’ll see bins scattered throughout the floor filled with gas masks, canvas duffle bags, canteens, and nylon combat belts. Shelves are jam-packed with combat boots, cargo pants, and helmets. And the coat racks are stuffed with pea coats and camo as far as the eye can see. Inside the glass case of the front counter, you’re likely to find antique military items like Nazi paraphernalia, guns used during WWI, and a plethora of knives.
For decades, the army-navy surplus store was the go-to place for individuals looking to find a good deal on products to outfit themselves for camping or hunting, prepare for the apocalypse on the cheap, or simply pick up a stylish pea coat at a bargain price.
There was such a glut of military surplus clothing and gear in the United States during the 20th century you could practically throw a rock in any direction and hit an army surplus store. They were prolific and played a vital role in distributing an over-abundance of government-issued supplies that accumulated during the last century’s wars.
But if you’ve visited an army surplus store lately, you probably noticed they just aren’t what they used to be — that the quality and quantity of the selection of products isn’t the same.
What happened to the once venerable tradition of the army surplus store?
Today we’ll chart its rise and fall.

The Rise of the Army Surplus Store

The army-navy surplus store as we know it today got its start after the Civil War. Up until then, the U.S. government didn’t need to buy supplies in mass quantities for its troops, as it used a militia system for defense. Individual states and militia members themselves were responsible for getting outfitted for battle.
That changed with the War Between the States. War-making became more centralized and industrialized. Instead of relying on states and individuals to provide the gear needed to fight, both the Confederacy and the Union leveraged mass production to equip their troops (the latter having the industrial advantage in this area).
At the end of the war, there was a huge surplus of arms, uniforms, and horse tack sitting on shelves and in warehouses collecting dust. To recoup some of the costs of these leftovers, the U.S. government began auctioning off the supplies in bulk to civilians at heavily discounted prices. While small storeowners from around the country took advantage of these deals, one man in particular turned military surplus into a giant business empire, ultimately creating the business model of the army surplus store we recognize today. His name was Francis Bannerman.

The Bannerman Army-Navy Surplus Empire

Francis Bannerman was born in Scotland in 1851 but immigrated to New York with his family as a child. His father made a living selling goods acquired at auctions, and a young Francis often accompanied him to these sales where he’d pick up big lots of various knick-knacks himself, and then sell them in smaller lots to stores. It was the 19th-century version of eBay-esque arbitrage. On top of this little side hustle, Bannerman created a profitable business selling scrap metal and abandoned ships that he found in the harbor near Brooklyn, New York. All while he was still in primary school.
At the end of the Civil War in 1865, Francis (who, let’s keep in mind, was only 14 years old) used profits from his scrap metal business to acquire large lots of military surplus at government auctions. One particularly successful acquisition netted him over 11,000 captured Confederate guns. Because the teenage entrepreneur bought this gear at such heavily discounted prices, he was able to mark it up so the products remained a bargain for the customer, while still netting himself a nice profit.
Francis kept all his military surplus inventory in various places around New York City, but eventually consolidated it all in one store on Broadway in Manhattan: the world famous Bannerman’s Army & Navy Outfitters. Known simply as “Bannerman’s,” the store eventually grew to cover a block in length and seven floors in height, encompassing over 40,000 square feet of floor space. It also issued a 350+ page Sears-Roebuck-like catalog from which subscribers around the globe could mail-order horse saddles, swords, African spears, Civil War rifles, and even cannons if they fancied.
Needed a Gatling gun by mail? Bannerman’s had you covered.
Explorers, military commanders, and adventurers of all kinds were some of Bannerman’s biggest clients. Admiral Matthew C. Perry and Frederick Cook outfitted their expeditions using Bannerman’s catalog. Mercenary soldiers fighting in the Spanish-American War and conflicts in the British empire would go to Bannerman’s to get the arms and gear they needed before heading to battlefields abroad.
In the latter quarter of the 19th century, Bannerman continued his prolific military surplus buying. The Spanish-American War was a particular boon to Bannerman’s business, as he won several bids on thousands of captured Spanish rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition, and ended up acquiring 90% of the war’s surplus.
Whenever the military switched to a new kind of uniform, weapon, or equipment, Bannerman was there to scoop up the discarded models and bring them back to NY. By 1900, he had run out of space in his colossal Army & Navy Outfitters store, and didn’t deem it safe to store his cache of thirty million surplus munitions cartridges in the city. So, he bought an island on the Hudson River upon which to build a large storage facility. Styled like a Scottish castle, the surplus warehouse was constructed out of cement (that he acquired at auction, of course) and was accompanied on the island by a residence for Bannerman and his family.
Bannerman’s stocked guns and swords from all different eras from floor to ceiling.
As global conflict increased in the early 20th century, Bannerman’s was there to supply the armies of nations around the world. For example, the Japanese military shopped at the surplus store to stockpile arms and munitions during the Russo-Japanese War. African and South American countries engaging in wars of independence were also big customers for Bannerman. When the United States found itself in WWI and short of supplies, he gave the military the guns and munitions needed to help bootstrap the war effort.
After Bannerman died in 1918, his surplus empire began to crumble, both literally and figuratively. Huge piles and stacks of firearms, bullets, artillery shells, swords, and uniforms began to molder and gather dust in his Manhattan store and island arsenal. The cache was not only disorganized, but dangerous; in 1920, 200 tons of shells and powder exploded inside a building on the island’s storage complex.
While his family continued the Bannerman business, mail-order and retail sales began to dwindle in the 1930s. Unlike the Civil War, there wasn’t much military surplus after WWI, due to the United States’ comparatively limited, short-term involvement in the conflict. So Bannerman’s was relegated to continuing to primarily sell their 19th-century wares, for which there was naturally diminishing demand.
What’s more, federal and state firearms acts passed in the 1930s prevented Bannerman’s from selling military weapons to civilians, as well as to foreign countries. Consequently, the enormous arsenal of weaponry Francis Bannerman had accumulated during his lifetime became useless.
In its heyday, this wall of the Bannerman castle served as a billboard to those passing by boat and train. After decades of fire, collapse, and neglect, only the exterior of the castle remains today. Image from Sometimes Interesting.
While Bannerman’s family continued to use and periodically visit their island, it was all but abandoned in 1950 when the only ferry which serviced its shores sunk in a storm. Interest in the business waned at the same time. None of Bannerman’s descendants wanted to continue running the Broadway store, so the decision was made in 1959 to sell the famous institution and move the remaining inventory to a warehouse on Long Island where it was still sold through the catalog. By the 1970s, even Bannerman’s catalog sales ceased.

The Golden Age of Army Surplus Stores

While Bannerman’s Army & Navy Outfitters faded into obscurity, it provided the blueprint for the thriving military surplus industry that sprung up after World War II. Rationing on the home front and the enormous amount of excess government-issued equipment produced by America’s “arsenal of democracy” combined to explode the growth and popularity of surplus stores in the aftermath of the Big One; huge amounts of wartime leftovers flooded the market, and after years of deprivation the public was eager to get its hands on it.
Like Bannerman’s, surplus stores after WWII not only offered products through brick and mortar stores but by mail-order as well. Even a jeep. Surplus companies often placed ads in boys’ magazines; young men, who idolized returning GIs, prized anything and everything they had used — even gas masks, which were marketed as “A sensational toy value” and “Loads of fun and useful, too.”
Enterprising businessmen from around the country followed the example Bannerman set after the Civil War by buying massive lots of the surplus military gear that existed in the aftermath of WWII. At a single auction, a buyer could get all the inventory he needed to outfit an entire army surplus store. There was so much stuff — uniforms, canteens, flashlights, radios, even jeeps — that it would take years for the U.S. government to dole it out to these middlemen, and even decades before these buyers could sell it off in their shops.
Thanks to the United States’ significant involvement in the Vietnam War, army surplus stores were able to restock their dwindling WWII inventory with updated military surplus. If you visited a surplus store as a kid in the 1980s or early ‘90s, a lot of the stuff you saw was probably from Vietnam.
While no single establishment was able to duplicate the enormity of Bannerman’s Army & Navy Outfitters, the period from after WWII and until the early 1990s could be considered the “Golden Age of Army Surplus Stores.” There was just so much stuff available, and it was so widely dispersed and easily accessible to the public. Instead of ordering something from a catalog, you just had to drive a few miles to one of the many surplus stores in your city.
But just as Bannerman’s military surplus business slowly faded away due to changing circumstances, so too has the large and thriving army surplus industry that existed in America for half a century. How that decline happened, we turn to next.

The Fall of the Army Surplus Store

Army surplus stores still exist. You probably have one in your city. But it’s probably not the same kind of army surplus store you may have visited back when you were a kid. If you’ve been to one recently, you likely noticed that fewer of the products they carried were actually “military surplus.” Sure, the stuff might look military-ish, but it was likely bought from a foreign company that manufactures military-ish products instead of from the U.S government, or even a foreign government. You’ll also see product in the store that you probably wouldn’t consider “military surplus” like work pants and shirts, consumer camping gear, etc. Basically, in today’s army surplus stores there’s less army surplus.
Two big factors are contributing to the decline of true military surplus products in the marketplace: the changing nature of war in the late 20th century and online shopping.
War has changed dramatically since Vietnam. Instead of engaging in large-scale conflicts that require a draft and many millions of boots on the ground, the U.S. military has shifted to a much more streamlined and surgical approach to battle — one that involves a smaller, all-volunteer force. For example, there were over 10 million American soldiers who served in Vietnam, while only 2.5 million served in the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because our most recent conflicts have required fewer soldiers, the military has required less equipment. Because the army requires less equipment, there’s less military surplus to go around to all the army surplus stores around the country.
Compounding the shortage due to smaller, more limited military engagements is that — thanks to the internet — army surplus stores now have to compete with the government itself in selling surplus military inventory. The U.S. government has an online store where the public can buy military surplus direct, thus cutting out the army surplus middleman and saving the buyer some money. Thanks to competition from the government’s direct-to-consumer sales, army surplus storeowners have had to slash retail markups on their products from a stellar 100% to a ho-hum 30-50%.
Because of these two changes — streamlined wars and the internet — the once robust army surplus store industry has taken a hit. There’s just less inventory to go around, and less money to be made in the business.
To keep shelves stocked with military goods, even though there’s less government-issued military surplus available, stores have taken to importing military surplus “knockoff” products — stuff that looks like military surplus, but really isn’t. While these imported knockoffs have helped surplus stores stay alive, as Dr. Frank Arian, owner of Surplus Today, notes, this increase of imported military surplus knockoffs has hurt the brand cache of army-navy stores: “Imports have negatively affected business by diluting, to a large degree, the very foundation upon which these stores were built: genuine government military surplus. Imports are not government, not military and not surplus. Can you still call a store ‘surplus’ if it has 85% imported copies?”
Like any other industry that’s been disrupted, army surplus stores have made innovations to keep themselves afloat. For example, some stores have become airsoft gun dealers and even have airsoft courses inside or near their facilities. This business move has worked well for many of the stores who’ve done it. Diehard airsoft competitors can pick up a new gun and extra pellets while picking up cargo pants, gloves, and camo for their next competition too.
Other surplus stores have taken to offering various classes in their stores like wilderness or urban survival. These classes provide two sources of revenue. First, there’s the income from the class itself. Second is the revenue that comes from people buying stuff in the store when the classes are held.
Still other stores have shifted their focus from being military surplus dealers to antique military dealers. 20th-century military gear — once considered ordinary surplus — is now considered “vintage,” and collectors are willing to pay top dollar for these antiques. Army surplus stores that have been in business for awhile have used their networks developed over the years to become savvy peddlers of 20th-century military collectibles.
Stores that have made changes like these will likely survive and even thrive in today’s market; the stores that don’t, won’t. Army surplus stores will probably be with us for decades to come. They just won’t look like your grandpa’s surplus store, though they might still smell like it.