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

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Aftermath of the Russian-Ukraine War

  This is an analysis of the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine War presently going on, Sure I used the word "Soviet", and it wasn't a slip of the keyboard, Premier Putin wants to recreate the Soviet monolith with him in charge.  And he wants to incorporate the Ukrainians to do so, but unfortunately for him, his military is having quite a go in trying to make it happen.  It will be interesting to see the ending of the war and results, and if I was the Russians, i would be nervous,. the Siberia area is full of minerals and natural wealth and China is looking to expand its sphere of influence and with the image of the Russian Military damaged heavily by Putins mis-adventure, Russia is weakened massively and I can see China scarfing a huge chunk of the Siberia area and China has nukes also and they don't care if Russia incinerates a few million Chinese, they have plenty more, after all..the Chinese citizens exist to serve the state.  

   I snagged this off a report that showed up in my work email from a 3rd party source relating to aviation news.

Wreckage of a Soviet er Russian Helicopter in the Ukraine

wreckage of a downed Russian helicopter in Ukraine

It’s going to take months—and likely longer—to fully understand how the Russia-Ukraine war will shape defense in the 2020s. Governments and contractors will have to make assumptions about Russia’s ability to generate and sustain military power and how its military will change. A starting assumption is that assessments that shaped last year’s plans are irrelevant.

Last year’s assumptions have been obliterated by Russia’s poor performance and the massive sanctions and export controls levied against it. In the 2020s Russia faces a new strategic calculus that likely includes Sweden and Finland joining NATO, accelerated defense modernization in Europe and a Ukrainian military that will eventually be equipped with more advanced U.S. and European weapons—not just infantry-operated ones and older equipment from NATO countries. Russia may evade some but not all export controls but not all of them.

There are three broad scenarios to weigh. One is that President Vladimir Putin or someone who shares his views remains in power. Russia will still have a formidable nuclear weapons inventory, but barring militarization of its economy and society, its ability to project conventional military power against NATO with confidence is likely to be low. Russia instead will look more like Iran—a threat that can’t afford and isn’t able to match NATO conventional military power, but that can field long-range strike weapons as a deterrent.

Another scenario is that Putin is replaced by leadership wanting better relations with the West after a failed attempt at regime change in Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe would need a better plan to integrate Russia into the West, but this is the downside defense scenario, particularly for Europe and probably the U.S.

A third scenario could be internal strife in Russia after a failure in Ukraine and conceivable economic trauma if Europe can successfully wean itself from Russian energy. Internal conflict tends to beckon outside involvement, as has been evidenced in Libya and Syria, but could involve mass migration from Russia and possibly Belarus. It could have knock-on effects on Central Asian security, too, and compel China to reorient its security focus.

The war may impart other lessons to the U.S., its allies  and defense contractors.

A broader narrative has reemerged on whether the war shows that defense technology favors the offense or defense. These simple distinctions are not that helpful, however. Azerbaijan in 2020 successfully waged an offensive war against Armenia that relied in part on unmanned combat aircraft. ISIS had more primitive precision weapons in the form of suicide bombers, vehicle-borne IEDs and small drones that could drop weapons, and yet it was decisively crushed in the 2017 battle for Mosul. Each conflict has to be viewed individually.

That the size of military forces and their competency matters is another lesson that could emerge from the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia had hoped to achieve a “coup de main” with a quick offensive on multiple axes in late February. But in failing that, it then did not have the force size to sustain a broader front. Even when Russia did advance, the relative density of force didn’t allow it to protect its supply lines from Ukrainian infantry armed with antiarmor and antiaircraft weapons. The size of ground forces in Europe, the U.S. and Russia are fractions of levels seen in the Cold War. While it’s likely a long shot, there could be more debate on whether ground forces are large enough in the 2020s to advance and hold terrain.

Industrial capacity matters in order to anticipate and respond to demand surges.  The U.S. is no longer the “arsenal of democracy”—“artisan of democracy” might be a better moniker, given the time needed to scale up production of even simple weapons like Javelin or Stinger. The notion that the U.S. can repeat the surge in defense production it accomplished in 1938-43 is a canard. There isn’t the same excess industrial capacity, contractors are driven to be lean, and they lack incentives to retain excess capacity.

The Defense Department could be looking at broader industrial capacity in the U.S. and not just at supply chains, paying  more attention to surge capacity.  A lesson being retaught by the Russia-Ukraine war is that precision weapons are expended in vast quantities and that platform losses can be eye-watering. As Stinger shows, it makes no sense to keep greater than 20-year-old designs when 20-year-old parts are no longer in production. The glacial pace of a doubling in Javelin production rates is also alarming and could command Pentagon and contractor attention


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Memorial Day 2022


This post is scheduled for Sunday afternoon on the Scheduler thingie.  I will not have a Monday Music like I normally do.  To me it would be inappropriate because it is Memorial Day.

    I'm going to explain "Memorial day" compared to the other holidays that involve the Military.

      Armed Forces Day honors those that are serving now.
      Veterans Day honors those of us that are no longer serving but still around to thank us for our    service.
   Memorial Day honors those of us that died in service to our country or those of us that have died since.
     To me Memorial day is a somber Holiday,  It gets worse the older I get because I attribute it to "survivors guilt".  We miss our comrades that will never grow old and one day we will join them.  Like I said, I attribute this to "survivors guilt" or basically why me and not them, why do I grow older and they don't.  What made me special that I lived and they didn't.  This goes through my mind and I just leave it to the guy upstairs because I figure that he still has plans for me. 
     I do what is called "Honor Guard" missions with my employer, where we greet all  Military Remains coming off the airplane with a flag line and a prayer.  I am honored to do that, a group of us employees all veterans do that little extra to welcome a fellow veteran either home or as an escort because we are a way station.
     I don't begrudge the people using the Memorial Day as an excuse for a vacation or the "Start of Summer".  At least they say the words "Memorial Day" in their conversations.  

There is a phrase I saw in the Movie "Gardens of Stone" that came out in 1987, and we started using it because it resonated with us. Here is  the trailer of the movie "Gardens of Stone".  I really like the movie partly it ties in with my Dads experiences because he was a member of the "Old Guard", although for him it was 1963-1964 for him.  He had told me that the things that the "Old Guard" did was accurately portrayed.

 I hoist a glass of whatever beverage I drink on Memorial Day and say "Here's to us ...and those like us.....Damm few of us left."   I honor my friends that got killed during war and my friends that died after war from accidents, disease or suicide.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

5 Myths of Gun Free Zones

I'm still on vacation, and it will be my last break before my change over to night shift in a couple of weeks.

 I snagged this from "Dave Morris" who runs a shooting school and training courses, I subscribe to his email list and I regularly get emails about courses and tidbits about current events.  I normally don't replicate them on my blog.  This one was a bit different, it talked about a mindset as well as training and the myths of the "GFDZ" as my friend  "Miggy" calls them.

5 Myths About “Gun Free” Zones

In light of the Uvalde murders, I wanted to re-share an article that I wrote awhile back about the myth of gun free zones…

There’s been a lot of talk recently about “Gun Free” zones and, frankly, a lot of it has been useless blather from people who know nothing about guns and reveal more and more of their ignorance with each additional word they speak.

With that in mind, I want to share 5 “Gun Free” zone myths and responses you can use when you hear them.

Myth #1. Gun Free Zones make us safer and reduce crime. It should be obvious by now that gun free zones don’t make us safer. Any time you hear this argument, ask the person who makes it if they have “gun free zone” stickers on their cars to stop carjackings, “gun free zone” signs in their yards to stop home invasions, and wear “gun free zone” shirts and hats to stop muggings, robberies, rapes, etc.  If they balk, remind them that “Change starts with me” and that they should “Be the change you want to see.”

If “gun free” zones make us safer, suggest that they tell that to the Secret Service and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. I’m sure they’ll change how they protect people right away.

The fact that these signs don’t exist in large numbers is a tacit admission that gun haters and people who are ignorant about guns KNOW, at some level, that gun free zones don’t work.

Equally silly is the thought that gun free zones reduce crime…they simply change the location.

First off, someone who intends on murdering large numbers of people will commit 5 or more misdemeanors and/or felonies in the process of firing their first shot. Do you really think that someone intent on murdering innocent people cares about breaking 1 additional law? Do you really think that someone who intends on killing themselves or committing suicide by cop cares about additional penalties from a judge? Of course not.

Next, gun free zones don’t reduce crime because they change the behavior of moral and ethical people who carry guns more than the behavior of murderers.

Concealed carry permit holders tend to be law abiding citizens…both because it’s their general nature and it’s kind of a requirement to get the permit. As a result, a higher percentage of concealed carry permit holders obey gun free zone signs and laws than murdering psychopaths.

Myth #2. Highly Trained Law Enforcement Will Arrive Immediately And Save You. Law enforcement is my literal and figurative family.  They are short-changed when it comes to the training they get and what’s expected of them.  The average officer receives about as much firearms training as a dog groomer before starting work.  MANY patrol officers across the country only do their 1 day of mandatory training and qualifying per year and do zero practice with their firearms the rest of the year.  Other officers are world class shooters who regularly do extensive reality based training and are training for the fight every day.

On average in the US, it will take 11 minutes for law enforcement to arrive (assuming that someone is connected with a HUMAN 911 operator the instant that the murdering starts).  If a motivated murderer is unchallenged, they will historically shoot an average of 6-20 victims per minute.  When law enforcement arrives, you may get an officer who shoots once a year and doesn’t really like guns or you may get an officer who does dry fire before every shift and has mentally rehearsed and prepared themselves for this situation.  They have trained themselves to fight through the pain of minor gunshot wounds (like the officer in Uvalde).  They have no quit in them and will finish the fight.

It is rare that a school resource officer has both the temperament to be a school resource officer AND be able to flip the switch and pursue a lethal aggressor.  It happens and I’ve trained with one, but it’s rare.  It’s much more likely that in a school full of teachers, administrators, and support staff that there will be a frustrated warrior or two who will already have the mindset and training to solve the problem…we just need to make sure they aren’t prevented from having the tools they need.

Myth #3 Common sense laws will stop mass shootings. We have more than 20,000 gun laws on the books in the US. What’s the magic next law that will make all of the bad people stop doing bad things?

The only thing that would take care of gun crime would be to eliminate guns. By definition, a country with zero (not even 1 gun) guns would have zero gun crime.

We’ve got more than 300 million guns in the US. They’re not going away. If they’re outlawed, then the law would disproportionately affect law abiding citizens. (remember, murderers don’t care about laws or the consequences of breaking them.)

But if we look at how this has worked out in DC, Chicago, Australia, the UK, and other places with strict gun laws, we see that it doesn’t work out well for law enforcement or the general public.

It didn’t work out well for Jews in Germany in the 30s, or minorities in ANY country throughout history that has been disarmed.

Look at Austria…one recent Muslim extremist mass murderer ran his car into a crowd and then got out and started stabbing the survivors.

Look at China…in the last few years, they’ve seen almost a dozen mass school stabbings and hammer attacks, including one where the attacker beat preschoolers in the head with a hammer and then lit himself on fire. Within 24 hours of the Sandy Hook attacks, one murderer stabbed 22 children in an attack in China. In another attack, 4 Muslim extremists used knives to kill 29 civilians and injure 140 others at the Kunming railway station.

Look at Northern Ireland…when gun ownership was prohibited for certain groups, those groups became targets of violence from the groups who could still own guns. Explosives, knives, rocks, and deadly modifications to potato guns took their place to fill the role of the gun. Violence didn’t go away with gun confiscation.

When someone thinks that gun laws will solve the problem of mass shootings, they need to ask themselves what the point is, to protect innocent people or convict guilty people more harshly after they’re dead?

Additional laws only allow for harsher penalties to be enforced, after the fact, on a murdering psychopath.

If you want to protect innocent people from murdering psychopaths who are comfortable breaking laws, you need to look to another solution than more laws. A solution like the most effective way to STOP the attacker.

Myth #4. Locking doors, hiding, throwing cans, and pleading/begging are effective strategies for stopping the threat.

We live in a time where we can find out an amazing amount of detail about EVERY active shooter situation that has happened in the US in recent history. We can see where these strategies were all tried and the outcome. None of them STOP the threat. They may delay death, reduce the number of innocent deaths, change who dies, create time and space for additional attacks, or change the location of deaths, but they don’t stop the threat on their own.

Myth #5. You’re unarmed if you don’t have a gun. This mindset is absolutely toxic. Poisonous. Corrosive. Venomous. Deadly. Wrong.

Yet it’s a common line of thinking for people who have it in their mind that a gun is a magical laser beam that gives the holder supernatural 1 shot killing ability that can only be matched by another gun.

The gun is just a tool that allows the mind to exert it’s influence kinetically at a distance.

The mind is the weapon that decides whether or not to wield tools in a moral and ethical manner or in a psychopathical/sociopathical manner.

As an example, what would have happened if some of the people who kneeled/layed down would have fought the attacker after he shot his first victim? Would they have been killed trying to stop him? Maybe.

We know that at the Umpqua shooting in 2015, at the first sign of armed resistance (from police in this case), the killer ran, hid, and shot himself in the head, ending the killing. If that would have happened after he shot his first or second victim, it wouldn’t have even been considered a “mass shooting.”

I need to be clear…I’m not surprised that nobody who was lined up to get executed fought back.

One soldier, Chris Mintz, actually did fight back at Umpqua…and a lot more. He set off fire alarms, directed students away from the shooting, and then headed towards the gunfire, and attempted to block a door so the gunman couldn’t get through.

He stopped fighting when he was mechanically unable to…because he had one or both legs broken from being shot.

But nobody joined him. And it doesn’t surprise me. And I wouldn’t have expected them to act any differently than they did unless they had different training. The phrase, “you’ll perform half as well in battle as you do in training” applies. If you have zero training, then your expected performance will be that you’ll freeze, cower, or run…and running is probably the best option for someone with no training, but history tells us that the untrained are much more likely to freeze or panic than deliberately run.

When someone who has no training cowers, it’s not cowardly. It’s a reflection of a lack of training. You can’t be expected to perform beyond the level of your training…and that’s why training is SO important, like the Praxis Dynamic Gunfight Training course that goes WAY beyond static, sterile, paper-punching skills that most gun owners call “training.”

But an effective response could have been simple, like grabbing fire extinguishers and, as Clint Smith says, “spray ‘em with the white stuff and then hit them with the red thing.”  It completely baffles me that every classroom in the country doesn’t have at least 2 fire extinguishers for this purpose.  It’s relatively inexpensive, most likely donated, not threatening, and it’s something that could be implemented any day of the week.  A big crowd-control sized pepper spray can may freak out parents, but would a fire extinguisher attached to the teacher’s desk?

It could have been deploying a concealed carry firearm. We have super-stupid federal “gun free zone” legislation that should be eliminated immediately, as well as state laws regarding carry at schools, but that brings up a VERY important point that few concealed carry permit holders know.

In many cases, it is “against the rules” but not illegal to carry a concealed carry firearm in a gun free zone. In other cases, it results in being asked to leave. In other cases, it’s a simple, minor misdemeanor, like trespassing. In other cases, it’s a serious misdemeanor. In other cases, it’s a felony. We have an inconsistent, illogical patchwork of gun laws in this country and you NEED to know the laws where you live.

You could be a teacher somewhere where carrying a gun in a gun free zone on campus might be legal but against school policy and just mean a firm talking-to or it could be losing a job or a serious crime with possible jail time.

If not a fire extinguisher or a gun, then Tasers (not stun guns), knives, pepper spray, or other purpose built or improvised defensive tools combined with offensive strikes can easily change the number of innocent people who were murdered.

But, again, these things are simply TOOLs. The only weapon is the mind. And an effective tool in the hands of someone with an ineffective mind is useless. You must train the mind.

You must train the mind to see targets on the human body.

Watch any UFC fight and you’ll see trained fighters hitting each other in the head and body for 5, 10, and 15 minutes at a time. This illustrates just how ineffective most strikes—even really hard strikes from professional fighters—are at stopping a threat.

A fighter will absorb massive kick after kick after kick and keep fighting, but if their left nut gets grazed, the ref will stop the fight and give them a chance to recover.

A fighter will absorb dozens of punches to the face, but if they barely get touched with a pinky finger in the eye, the ref will stop the fight and give them a chance to recover.

Fighters will try to “knock a guy’s head off” for an entire fight with strikes you can feel from home, but any one of these strikes delivered a few inches lower, to the throat or side of the neck, would instantly knock him out or crush their opponents’ windpipe.

Targeting matters, but conditioning the mind matters too. You must train the mind to be able to switch from the loving, caring, empathetic, socialized person that you are to a cold-hearted robot with ice flowing in your veins JUST long enough to stop the threat with the minimum force necessary to preserve human life.

And the most scientific and proven way that we know of to do this is with the Fight To Your Gun training

It’s based on gross motor movements and what’s in your environment, so it’s effective on younger, faster, bigger, and stronger attackers and it’ll allow you to stop a lethal force threat at bad breath distance faster than you could with a concealed carry pistol.


Friday, May 27, 2022

Boeing 7J7 Has its time finally come?

 I ran across this in an email and I was sufficiently intrigued.  I remember when Boeing was a innovation factory and they were churning out new things all the time, now they are having a harder time of it.  I don't know if it is a cultural thing or a regulatory thing or a monetary thing or a lack of vision thing.

Most people have never heard of the Boeing 7J7. And yet this rather unusual design once looked set to replace both the 727 and 737!

In the neat and tidy way we like to organize aircraft types, it was the 757 that replaced the 727. But in practice, the 727 remained in service in many parts of the world (including the US) well into the 2000s. That’s 20 years or more after the 757 entered service, in 1983. Back then, Boeing was still about a year away from flying the 737 Classic (-300/-400/-500) for the first time.

Boeing 7J7 – Has Its Time Finally Come?

A 7J7 concept drawing. Image: Boeing

But the manufacturer didn’t want to rest on its laurels. The single-aisle market back then included the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 family, and Airbus was busy working on what would become the A320 series. Boeing was looking for a technological leap to keep it ahead of the pack, and that’s where the 7J7 came in.

High-bypass turbofans were not new in the 1980s. But they were “coming of age”, with their advantages in efficiency there for all to see. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, a turbojet is (simplistically speaking) the simplest form of a jet engine. A turbofan is essentially a turbojet whose fan (usually at the front) envelops the turbojet, but also propels air rearward, without sending it through the engine. However, this fan is still enveloped by a cowling.

Boeing 7J7 – Has Its Time Finally Come?

The GE UDF (unducted fan) engine, on a Boeing 727 in 1986



By contrast, the Boeing 7J7 would have had a propfan, also known as an unducted fan. In this setup, the fan doesn’t sit in a cowling. This allows the fan to be much bigger. With turbofans, the higher the amount of air that goes around the jet core, the more efficient the engine generally becomes. This is what engineers call “the bypass ratio”. And thanks to their lack of cowling and larger overall diameter, propfans have higher bypass ratios.

So already in the mid-to-late 1980s, Boeing was studying the 7J7 as a platform that would take advantage of this promising technology. The dimensions of the fans meant that tail-mounting the engines made more sense. This partially dealt with another shortcoming of these engines, which was noise. In regular turbofans, enclosing the fan helps reduce its noise. And it also helps a lot with safety, if a blade breaks.

Boeing 7J7 – Has Its Time Finally Come?

The P&W/Allison 578-DX, on an MD-80 testbed, in 1989.

Boeing knew that the technology around these engines would take time to bear fruit. But the aircraft itself would also be state-of-the-art. It would use fly-by-wire and the structure around the rear of the plane would use composites. Also, Boeing promised a quiet cabin, to quench fears about the noise of the unducted fans.

Playing it safe, Boeing wanted the 7J7 to start off as a small aircraft. And this brings us back to the 727 Vs 757 story. The latter design is bigger than the former because Boeing expected 727 operators to “upsize” to the 757. Some did this; many didn’t. Among the 737 Classics, the 737-400 would eventually pick up some of the slack.



But for the 7J7 to work, Boeing depended on those propfan engines. A number of aircraft manufacturers busied themselves developing such engines. The main two were GE and its partner, Snecma (later Safran) and Pratt & Whitney with Allison. GE and Snecma were already partners in the CFM venture at the time. Allison would eventually become part of Rolls-Royce’s American division.

Another view of the GE UDF engine

The two engines were the General Electric GE36 and the Pratt & Whitney/Allison 578-DX. There were some differences between them, the most important being the gearbox – or lack of one. The 578-DX was a geared design, while the GE36 wasn’t. And this is where we begin to see why the Boeing 7J7 concept remained a concept.

In terms of efficiency, Pratt & Whitney’s geared design was better. But back in the 1980s and early 1990s, many were sceptical about using reduction gearboxes in jet engines. The design of the P&W/Allison 578-DX propfan was based on Allison’s turboprop engines. Both Allison and P&W had plenty of experience with turboprops and gearboxes. But of course, the gearbox for the 7J7’s engines would need to handle more power.

Another shot of the P&W/Allison 578-DX, on an MD-80

Despite a possible 10% advantage for the 578-DX’s gearbox design, Boeing selected General Electric’s GE36 for the 7J7. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. The gearbox wasn’t the only concern about these engines. Development delays, worries about the noise, plus the loss of an exposed blade, ultimately forced Boeing to freeze the program indefinitely. McDonnell Douglas (who favoured the P&W/Allison engine) also planned an MD-80 derivative with such an engine. This one didn’t go anywhere, either.



Both programs were abandoned in the early 1990s. And here we are, 30 years later, with many of the same aircraft still flying – albeit with newer engines. But a lot of water has gone under a lot of bridges since. Engine manufacturers now have more knowledge of jet engine cores, turbine blades AND gearboxes.

Boeing 7J7 – Has Its Time Finally Come?

The CFM RISE Open Fan. Image credit: CFM International

Boeing hasn’t used the 7J7 designation since the 1990s. But General Electric and Safran (formerly Snecma) are working on a project called the RISE Open Fan. Under the CFM joint venture banner, this engine is a more refined development of the propfan concept. The fan is now at the front and does not feature two counter-rotating disks. Rather, the front disk rotates, with the second set of blades being stationary (stators), changing pitch as necessary.

But unlike the GE36 of the Boeing 7J7, the CFM Open Fan employs a gear reduction design. This could become a point of contention between CFM and Pratt & Whitney, which claims ownership of a patent covering the design. This is a rather important and somewhat unpredictable part of the story. Other engine makers are also working on geared turbofan designs, so we will definitely hear more about this, soon.

Not just a tail-mounted engine? Image credit: CFM International



Also, the timing of these developments is key. Ultimately, Boeing failed to make the 7J7 a reality, because the engines were too immature. Now, Boeing’s new aircraft plans could face similar hurdles. Analysts believe that Boeing’s new project when it comes, will aim to enter the market at the end of this decade. But the CFM Open Fan won’t realistically be ready for another 5-6 years.

As with the Boeing 7J7, the newer Open Fan engine promises a 20% efficiency gain over today’s best high-bypass turbofans. However, by the time the Open Fan enters service, current turbofans could gain another 10% in efficiency. The open rotor designs should still enjoy a roughly 10% gain. But this assumes no serious losses from the new engine installation.

Before the launch of CFM RISE, Safran had its own propfan program. Image: Safran

At the same time, we see companies like Embraer, planning to introduce turboprops with very similar engine mounting solutions. The possibility of some technology transfer in aircraft systems, between aircraft with similar layouts, is hard to ignore. However, Boeing is no longer partnering with Embraer.

But supply chains between manufacturers overlap considerably, and some technology transfer (or concurrent development) is inevitable. When the next Boeing or Airbus comes, we really don’t know if it will be close to what the 7J7 looked like. But between these developments and others around hydrogen, we can expect future airliners to be different.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Soviet AK-74, From Soviet Small Arms to Symbol of Freedom.


I First heard of the AK-74 in high school in 1983? from "Soldier Of Fortune" and that SOF had snagged several from the "Mujahideen" that were giving the Soviets fits in Afganistan.  I thought it was poetic justice in a way, the Soviets had supported the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong against the South Vietnamese with advisors and massive supplies and munitions and our idiotic rules of engagement prohibited us bombing or sinking the ships as they were stacked in Haipong Harbor off loading munitions to support the north.  Now the Soviets were mired in Afghanistan being bled with no discernable results. I now recall that musing with a certain irony because we spent 20 years there being bled the same and the Soviets did a better job withdrawing out of that country in 1989 than we did in 2021.  How the wheel turns...but I digress.

   I shamelessly Clipped this from American Rifleman, We are on a travel day, I am working then the Spousal unit is picking me up from work, and we are hitting the "Gunshine State" for several days to visit family", This is preloaded in the Scheduler thingie.

During the Cold War, both the USA and the USSR began using select-fire rifles chambered for soft-recoiling small-caliber, high-velocity cartridges. Under the Johnson administration, the U.S. military adopted the M16A1 in 5.56 NATO. When Leonid Brezhnev was general secretary of the communist party, the Soviet military began using a Kalashnikov in 5.45×39 mm - a rifle that received the designation AK-74.

Although the M16A1 uses the direct gas impingement operating system and the AK-74 uses a long-stroke gas piston, both rifles produce similar external ballistics and both rifles produce controllable full automatic fire. From the rice paddies of Vietnam to the foothills of the Hindu Kush, these are the rifles that fought the closing chapters of the Cold War. But when the 68-year reign of the Soviet Union ended officially in 1991, it did not mean that the service life of AK-74 ended, too.

Like the descendants of the M16 that continue to arm military forces of much of the Western world today, the AK-74 continues to arm the militaries of several former Warsaw Pact member nations, and the extent of its continuing service has been well-documented in a dramatic way by recent headline news. During the last several weeks, the AK-74 has been conspicuously present in photographs recording Ukraine’s war with Russia.

In images showing Ukrainian military or police forces, the AK-74 is always there. Members of the Ukrainian Parliament have been photographed carrying AK-74s that were issued to them for defending the capitol. If a photograph shows civil defense volunteers manning a checkpoint, the AK-74 is inevitably there, and it even shows up in a photo showing an armed Ukrainian mother crossing a busy street in central Kyiv while holding her daughter’s hand. It is, by far, the most prolific firearm being used in the present conflict.

The AK-74’s story dates to the early 1970s when Russian engineers began developing a new small-caliber, high-velocity cartridge to supplement and possibly even replace 7.62×39 mm. Since the AKM was a reliable and proven design, one of the project’s objectives from the start was to develop something new for it to shoot. At first, they tested a 6.5×39 mm commercial hunting round but soon found that it produced the kind of wide shot dispersion on full-automatic that the AKM was infamously known for. Then they tested a 4.5×39 mm load that, although it provided the desired controllability, did not provide the desired lethality.

Three Soviet naval infantrymen armed with AK-74 rifles circa 1985. Like the AK-47 and the AKM that came before it, the AK-74 was a symbol of Russian military strength during the Cold War. (US Department of Defense photo DN-SN-86-00829)

In the end, the Russians adopted a cartridge with a case length of 39 mm that could accelerate a 53-grain 5.45 mm boat tail FMJ bullet to a muzzle velocity of 2,790 f.p.s. The new Kalashnikov chambered to fire this new cartridge was basically just a slightly modified version of the AKM, so it was capable of delivering either semi-automatic fire or full-automatic fire with a cyclic rate of 650 rounds per minute.

The most noticeable differences between the AK-74 and its predecessor the AKM were, first and foremost, the AK-74’s less curved AG-4S 30-round magazine. Sometimes these magazines are referred to as being made of Bakelite, but they are actually made of a thermoset phenol-formaldehyde resin reinforced with glass fiber. Secondly, a large and distinctive recoil compensating muzzle brake replaced the AKM’s old slant style brake and it meaningfully changed the appearance of the AK-74’s front end. The device not only reduced recoil, but it did so without directing any noticeable concussion back onto the shooter.

A Russian mother and father pose with their son, who is armed with an AK-74 that was produced before 1977. (Image courtesy of Thomas Laemlein)

Aside from those two noticeably different features that made it look unique, the early-production AK-74 closely resembled the late-production AKM, but things soon began to change. Like every other mass-produced service rifle in the history of small arms, the AK-74 evolved over its production history and the changes associated with that evolution started shortly after its adoption. By mid-1977, engineers became aware that the AKM’s 45-degree gas block sometimes caused bullet shear. This had never been a problem before with the slower 7.62 mm bullet, but with the faster 5.45 mm bullet, it was.

Engineers at Izhevsk solved the problem by introducing a 90-degree gas block that did away with the phenomenon altogether. The 90-degree design has remained unchanged ever since. Minor modifications to the muzzle brake, the dust cover and the front sight base were also introduced during this period, but then in late 1984 to early 1985, several big changes were introduced that altered the AK-74’s outward appearance even more.

Three Mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan in 1989. They are armed with a pair of AK-74s and an RPG-7 recoilless, shoulder-fired, rocket-assisted grenade launcher. (Image courtesy of Thomas Laemlein)

From the outset of production, AK-74s were completed with laminated wood buttstocks and handguards, and Bakelite AKM type pistol grips, but when Konstantin Chernenko was briefly General Secretary of the Communist Party, plum-colored glass fiber reinforced polyamide plastic furniture was introduced. At about the same time, Izhevsk began using a simplified method for attaching the front sight base, the rear sight base and the gas block to the barrels of production AK-74s. Going all the way back to when the Kalashnikov was first born, these components were attached to the barrel of each rifle using the drilling and pinning method.

The assembly procedure that replaced this starting in mid-1985 involved punch pressing the sides of those components with enough force to lock them into corresponding relief cuts in the barrel. This method is used for AK-74 assembly to this day. Right about when the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989, the AK-74’s plum-colored furniture turned black and remained that color. Then, in 1991, a new version of the rifle emerged with the adoption of the AK-74M.

A Soviet sailor armed with an AK-74 stands at port arms during the port visit of the Aegis guided missile cruiser USS THOMAS S. GATES (CG 51) and the guided missile frigate USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59) at Sevastopol on April 8, 1989. (National Archives & Records Administration #6454445/U.S. Department of Defense #330-CFD-DN-ST-90-00321 - Photo by JO1 Kip Burke)

This model incorporates a slightly modified muzzle brake, an accessory rail on the left side of the receiver for mounting optics, and a side-folding buttstock. A folding stock was nothing new for the AK-74, in fact, stretching back to initial production in the 1970s, a variant designated AKS-74 that used a metallic triangular side-folding stock had been in service. It is just that the AK-74M’s folding stock is not skeletal and it is not made of sheet metal. This version of the gun would have been adopted as the standard service rifle of the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991. Nevertheless, the AK-74M lives on today in the service of the Russian Federation.

A Kazakh soldier armed with an AKS-74 rifle during the CENTRASBAT military exercise in Kazakhstan in September 2000. (National Archives & Records Administration - photograph by TSGT Jim Varhegyi, USAF)

The AK-74 has been there for many of the great Russian tragedies of the modern era and in a way, it has become a metaphor for the country’s decline. It wrote itself into the final chapter of Soviet military history during the war in Afghanistan, and then it continued fighting through the geopolitical convulsions that followed the breakup of the USSR–convulsions that brought blood and suffering first to Chechnya and then Georgia. It was used during the deadly Moscow theater hostage crisis in October 2002 and the even deadlier Beslan school siege in September 2004, so it was ultimately swept into the always-tragic story of the Global War on Terror.

Soviet naval infantrymen kneel with their AKS-74 rifles during a demonstration conducted for visiting U.S. Navy personnel on September 10, 1990 (photo by PHCS Mitchell – photo #DN-SC-91-02252)

A decade later, the AK-74 was a part of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas that followed. Today, it is being used by the armed forces of the Russian Federation in what might be the greatest Russian tragedy of them all, the invasion of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people have appropriated the rifle for another purpose. In Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol, they have turned the AK-74–this symbol of Russian military hegemony–into a symbol of resistance. If you look closely at photographs coming out of Ukraine each day, you will notice that most of the AK-74s being used by Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces have wood furniture. When you see that, you are looking at rifles that were manufactured during the era of the Soviet Union.

Ustka, Poland (June 12, 2003) — A Russian Naval Infantryman provides cover with his AKS-74N rifle for his counterparts from Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and United States during an exercise at Ustka, Poland as part of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2003. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Chadwick Vann – photo #030612-N-3725V-001)

The fact that those old rifles are now being used to fight off the ghosts of that era is an irony of the greatest possible magnitude. Together with weapons like the Stinger and the Javelin, those rifles are being used by the Ukrainian people to put up the kind of fight that their invader did not expect and, in so doing, the Ukrainian people have reminded us that free women and men prefer to remain free. They will turn to the rifle if they are forced to. Like the Hungarians did three generations ago when they captured Kalashnikovs in the streets of Budapest, the Ukrainians have made the Kalashnikov a symbol of defiant solidarity in the streets of Kyiv. They have made the AK-74 a metaphor for an optimistic new world struggling to free itself from the dangerous specter of an old one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Prototype "Trench Guns" of WWI

 I will wait 72 hours to comment on the Elementary School shooting, before I rant away.  I want to get some more facts together first, and wait unlike President Xiden and the Media that immediately jumped on the "Gun Control" bandwagon before all the facts were in. Hey You Can let a crisis go to waste you know.

    I shamelessly snagged this off "American Rifleman",  When I deployed to the Gulf, I already owned a "Remington 870 "Police", and from my history, Shotguns are very nasty weapons, especially in close quarters. I wanted to take it with me along with my issued M16.  Well my chain of command said "Nope".  Oh Well

“Trench Guns” Of World War I

When the United States became actively involved in the First World War during the spring of 1917, our troops deployed to France soon found themselves in the unfamiliar environment of trench warfare. Since an important component of such fighting was periodic raids on enemy trenches, guns that were capable of being effectively wielded in close confines were particularly valuable. Handguns weren’t sufficiently powerful, and the standard Model of 1903 and Model of 1917 rifles were too long, cumbersome and slow- firing to be truly effective in such situations. Clearly, another type of arm was needed, but there was some debate as to just what it should be.

When deciding on what type of trench-fighting gun would be most efficacious, some senior Army officers, including Gen. John J. Pershing, then commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, remembered their experiences in the Philippines almost two decades earlier. When the United States gained possession of the Philippines from Spain following the Spanish-American War of 1898, our troops were faced with the unpleasant task of battling several indigenous groups who had fought the Spanish for decades and looked upon the Americans as just another occupying force. Foremost among these were the fierce Moro tribesmen who exacted a deadly toll on American troops in close-quarters combat. The standardized .30-40 Krag rifles and .38 Long Colt revolvers proved to be unequal to the task, and a more effective arm was sorely needed.  Circa 1900, the U.S. Army purchased some 200 of the newly introduced Winchester Model of 1897 short-barrel, slide-action shotguns for use in the ongoing “pacification” campaigns in the Philippines. These “sawed-off” shotguns proved to be devastatingly effective close-quarters guns and were instrumental in eventually helping to quell the bloody uprisings.

Prototype Remington Model 10 shotgun with No. 5 rolling-block rifle saber bayonet

Given the effectiveness of shotguns in the Philippines, it was recognized that a short-barrel, 12-ga. repeating shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot would also be a formidable tool in the trenches of France. It was decided to develop a shotgun specifically modified for trench warfare. It was logical to base the new weapon on the tried and proven M1897 shotgun, but the War Dept. stipulated that the gun must be capable of mounting a bayonet. The M1897s previously used in the Philippines were standard commercial-production, plain-barrel “riot guns,” so a method of mounting a bayonet on the proposed shotgun had to be devised. Working in conjunction with Springfield Armory, Winchester developed a metal one-piece bayonet adapter/handguard assembly. Since it would be necessary to grip the barrel to properly wield a bayonet-equipped shotgun, the assembly had a ventilated metal handguard for protection from a hot barrel. The adapter was designed for use with the M1917 bayonet as used with the M1917 rifle. The new combat shotgun was soon dubbed the “trench gun,” although this was not official nomenclature. Production contracts were given to Winchester for the new firearm.

Since it was believed the new “trench gun” would be a valuable addition to our Doughboys’ arsenal, the Ordnance Dept. solicited proposals from other manufacturers for bayonet-equipped versions of their repeating shotguns.  Remington Arms Co. submitted a “trench-gun” variant of its Model 10 slide-action repeating shotgun. Rather than the all-metal one-piece handguard/bayonet adapter used with the Winchester gun, the Remington Model 10 design featured a wooden handguard and separate bayonet lug, also adapted for the M1917 bayonet. The modified Remington Model 10 was adopted and put into production. The U.S. Army now had two standardized “trench guns,” but other models continued to be evaluated.

Remington Model 11 “short pattern” trench gun prototype
Remington Model 11 “short pattern” trench gun prototype

Although Remington had accepted large contracts for arms from other nations—chiefly Pattern 1914 rifles for Great Britain and M1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles for Russia— the company was still looking for additional business. Since the American government had adopted the Model 10 trench gun, the company believed that such guns might appeal to other nations but recognized that these potential purchasers likely wouldn’t be interested in a shotgun designed to use the U.S. M1917 rifle bayonet. Remington had a rather large number of “saber” bayonets for its No. 5 rolling-block rifles left over from previous South American contracts. The company submitted a standard Model 10 shotgun with a metal bayonet lug brazed to the underside of the barrel. However, no type of protective handguard was provided, which obviously limited the gun’s effectiveness in bayonet fighting. A prototype was submitted to the Ordnance Dept. for review, but little interest was shown, and it was rejected.

Undeterred, Remington turned its attention to the Russian government, which had placed large contracts for M1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles and bayonets. The Russian bayonet was an all-metal socket design with a cruciform blade. Having learned from the previous unsuccessful submission, the proposed “Russian trench gun” was equipped with a wooden handguard somewhat similar to that used on the U.S. Model 10 trench gun. The bayonet was locked into a metal flange and was not attached to the barrel as was the norm with most bayonets. Although it appeared to be a functional design, the fall of the Czarist government resulted in no real consideration being given to the gun, and it was discarded as well.

World War I Winchester M1897 trench gun with M1917 bayonet

After these two abortive modified Model 10 prototypes, Remington came up with one of the most novel ideas for a trench gun ever conceived. A popular gun in the company’s product line was the semi-automatic Model 11 shotgun designed by the legendary John Moses Browning. It was believed that such a gun would be ideal for trench warfare due to its impressive rate of fire. There was, however, one major problem: The Model 11’s recoil-operated mechanism required that the barrel move back and forth with each shot. Since Ordnance specifications for trench guns mandated that they be equipped with a bayonet, Remington engineers had to devise some method of overcoming this inherent problem. Mounting a bayonet on the barrel wouldn’t be feasible because the added weight would not allow the barrel to reciprocate properly. Also, if a barrel-mounted bayonet was thrust into an adversary, the barrel would move backward and could, at least partially, eject a chambered shell, resulting in a jam.

The problem was ingeniously addressed by mounting a metal sleeve (tube) to the front of the receiver into which the barrel was fitted. A bayonet lug could be attached to the sleeve that didn’t affect the reciprocal movement of the barrel. In order to permit the gun to be properly grasped for bayonet fighting, a wooden fore-end that served as a handguard was fitted. There were at least two variations of the design that differed primarily in length with a slightly greater tubular magazine capacity for the longer pattern. It appeared to be a rugged and functional arm that likely would have been quite effective for its intended purpose.

The prototype Model 11 trench guns were completed by the fall of 1918, around the time of the Armistice.  However, with the war ending, the Ordnance Dept. abandoned further consideration of the shotgun. The prototypes were shelved, and, perhaps surprisingly, the concept was never revisited. It is intriguing to think that if the gun had been available a year or so earlier, it might have been adopted. As events transpired, even though the Model 11 trench gun never made it past the prototype stage, large numbers of plain-barrel Model 11 riot guns (and long-barrel training guns) subsequently saw service during World War II.

Stevens Model 520 trench gun prototype
Stevens Model 520 trench gun prototype

In addition to the Remington designs, there was another proposed trench gun fabricated and submitted for testing in 1918. The J. Stevens Arms and Tool Co. developed a trench gun based on its Model 520 slide-action shotgun.  Rather than using a wooden handguard, like the Remington guns, or a one-piece metal handguard/bayonet adapter assembly, like Winchester, Stevens equipped its gun with a ventilated metal handguard and a separate bayonet lug on the barrel. The shotgun reportedly acquitted itself quite well in testing, and it is speculated that a small number may have been purchased, but this is unconfirmed. Unfortunately for Stevens, like the Remington Model 11 prototypes, the end of the war resulted in the cancellation of all pending contracts. Stevens had better luck with a trench-gun version of the Model 520-30 (an improved 520) during World War II when substantial numbers were procured and issued along with some Stevens M620A trench guns. 

If the First World War had lasted into 1919 as had been expected, it is possible that at least two additional trench guns, the Remington Model 11 and Stevens 520, could have found their way into the trenches. Instead, the only two trench guns to be issued during the war were the Winchester M1897 and the Remington Model 10.  Nevertheless, the efforts to develop innovative designs for a new type of combat arm, the “trench gun,” illustrate the resourcefulness and expertise of American gunmakers at a critical time in our history.