Author Topic: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread  (Read 57619 times)

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Offline Green1

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #75 on: June 18, 2014, 06:55:59 AM »
I was not exactly rural, but lived in a capital city. Unfortunately, in the days before internet, I was unwise to things happening in more liberal places like Biloxi. Maybe things would have been different, I do not know. I did not find out till my mid twenties whn I moved to New Orleans.

Nowadays, though, those guys put the wives to work. The lovingly crafted minis they put out are half painted by the wife. Beauties they are, too. But the last time I went to these things, I went for character sheets and twenty sided dice along with the drunken parties and elf dressed LARP lezzie chicks to go with it. I was quickly reminded I was not with the program. 300 USD in minis and wife or GTFO!!!!


Offline Green1

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #76 on: June 19, 2014, 02:05:22 AM »
that said, I am thinking of attending Bayou Wars if I can get around having my own minis. I really need to get some old fashioned gaming going. Even if this means getting with the times.

I heard someone is going to set up some massive naval Battle of Midway with folks managing different groups of ships. You would be acting basically like the old fashioned Commodores (rear admiral lower half now).

Those tables they bring are friggin HUGE!!!

Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #77 on: June 19, 2014, 07:16:31 AM »
Come to Waterloo next year. Its been 200 years since Napoleon's defeat then, and I read yesterday there's two enactments in the planning. ;)

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #78 on: June 19, 2014, 04:38:50 PM »
Is the battlefield preserved? Is there a cemetery?

With all of the wars fought in Belgium, I wouldn't think they could afford to preserve historical space. Weren't the WW I battlefields pretty much leveled and planted?

Even in the United States, with all of it's land, many Civil War battlefields between Richmond and Washington have been built over as the two cities have grown.



Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #79 on: June 19, 2014, 08:10:32 PM »
Is the battlefield preserved? Is there a cemetery?

The battle raged over too large an area to make that practical. And I don't think dedicated cemetaries were made in that time.
There is of course a monument, and a museum which was during my youth almost a compulsory school visit.
Its still an agricultural area, so it is possible to 'rent' the fields from the local farmers if necessary.
A full enactment with similar numbers of soldiers isn't possible either. I'd be surprised there are enough aficiado's to 'call to arms' so to speak, not to mention available uniforms.

With all of the wars fought in Belgium, I wouldn't think they could afford to preserve historical space. Weren't the WW I battlefields pretty much leveled and planted?

Of course they were. If the whole WW1 battlefield in Belgium was preserved, a whole river, at least one mid-large city (Ypres), and a large chunk of Flanders would've been made off-limits for eternity. Not very practical in one of the densest populated countries in Europe.
Still, there's numerous military cemetaries in the area (Barack Obama visited one two presidential visits ago), the daily 'Last Post' ritual in Ypres, plenty of museums, and a part of the trench system is preserved.
And of course next August the centennial rememberance program starts for the next 4 years.

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #80 on: June 24, 2014, 06:47:01 AM »
that said, I am thinking of attending Bayou Wars if I can get around having my own minis. I really need to get some old fashioned gaming going. Even if this means getting with the times.

I heard someone is going to set up some massive naval Battle of Midway with folks managing different groups of ships. You would be acting basically like the old fashioned Commodores (rear admiral lower half now).

Those tables they bring are friggin HUGE!!!

I did some research. They have naval mini  stuff in my city more or less quarterly, on the other side by the airport. I'm away from home right now, but I plan to check out the event in October. The pictures look like mostly guys in their early 60s.

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The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
« Reply #81 on: August 02, 2014, 10:14:12 PM »
Quote
The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
The rise and fall of Nazi anti-ship missiles offer lessons for the U.S. and China alike
THE WEEK
By Michael Peck,  War is Boring | July 31, 2014   



Smart bombs pushed the war into a new era.  (Michael Nicholson/Corbis)



What is that strange bomb in the sky?

That's what the sailors of the Italian battleship Roma must have wondered in the final moments before they died.

Naval warfare changed on Sept. 9, 1943. Dictator Benito Mussolini had been deposed, the new Italian government was abandoning a lost war and its doomed Nazi ally and the Italian fleet was sailing to Malta to surrender. But the habitually treacherous Nazis, who had always suspected their Italian allies of similar trickery, detected the Italian ships leaving port.

The Luftwaffe dispatched a force of Dornier Do-217 bombers to deal with the Italian ships.

As the bombers approached, the Italians were unsure whether the Germans meant to attack or just intimidate. They were relieved to see the German aircraft appear to drop their bombs into the ocean. Perhaps with uncharacteristic gentleness, the Germans were just firing warning shots.

But then something unexpected happened. Instead of plunging straight down into the sea, the bombs headed toward the Italian ships. One slammed into Roma's hull, exited out the other side and exploded in the water, destroying an engine room.

A second bomb penetrated the deck into the forward magazine, where shells for the ship's big 15-inch guns were stored. The battleship exploded, killing 1,253 members of her crew.

The age of the ship-killing missile had dawned.

The first anti-ship smart bombs, invented like so many other weapons by the dark scientists of Nazi Germany, were not just deadly. They seemed inhuman. A "Wellsian weapon from Mars," was how one newspaper reporter described an early attack.

Smart bombs have become so common in modern warfare that we take them for granted. Yet 70 years ago, a bomb that could chase a ship seemed as exotic and frightening as the muskets of the conquistadors must have seemed to the Aztecs. The Germans "made them [the missiles] turn corners," an Allied sailor complained.

Anti-ship guided missiles have been used for decades now. Missiles sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967 and the British destroyer Sheffield in 1982. Today, China hopes that weapons such as the DF-21D ballistic missile, with a range of a thousand miles, can sink U.S. aircraft carriers and thus neutralize American naval power in the Pacific.

But these weapons did not materialize overnight in a Beijing weapons lab. They are the fruits of Nazi research from more than 70 years ago.


A smart bomb named Fritz

The weapon that sank Roma was known by the very German name Fritz-X. It was not a powered missile but a 3,000-pound armor-piercing gravity bomb meant to be dropped from a bomber at 20,000 feet.

Battleships were armored to survive multiple bomb hits — in 1944, the Japanese super-battleship Musashi was hit by 17 bombs and 19 torpedoes before sinking. But a bomb dropped from high enough should have enough kinetic energy, imparted by gravity, to smash through thick deck armor.

The problem was hitting the battleship in the first place. High-flying bombers in the 1940s had scant chance of hitting a warship frantically weaving through the water at 30 knots. That meant aircraft had to come in low to attack, which made them easier targets for the ship's antiaircraft guns and also robbed the bombs of kinetic energy.

The 11-foot-long Fritz-X, slung under the wing of a bomber, had radio-controlled fins that could change the munition's glide path. A tail-mounted flare enabled the operator on the bomber to track and adjust the weapon's course. Tests showed that 50 percent of bombs would land within five meters of the target — astounding accuracy for the 1940s.

Does this sound familiar? It should, because the concept endures in modern weapon such as America's Joint Direct Attack Munition, a kit that makes dumb bombs smart by adding fins and satellite guidance.


The Hs 293 missile

The Fritz-X was an awesome battleship-killer, but only under the right conditions. A glide bomb has only gravity rather than a rocket motor for propulsion. The steerable fins on the Fritz-X could adjust its trajectory only slightly, meaning the bomb had to be dropped within three miles of the target.

While deadly to heavily armored warships, the armor-piercing Fritz-X was actually too much bomb for small ships. It would slice all the way through unarmored destroyers and transports and explode in the sea.

The Nazis had another weapon, a genuine anti-ship missile called the Hs 293. The 12-foot-long weapon looked like a miniature airplane with a rocket motor slung underneath.

The radio-controlled Hs 293 could be launched from 10 miles away, out of range of shipboard anti-aircraft guns. Its 2,300-pound high-explosive warhead detonated on contact with a lightly armored ship.

"In a typical deployment, the attacking aircraft would approach the target to within 12 kilometers (6 miles), then fly a parallel course in the opposite direction," writes Martin Bollinger, author of Wizards and Warriors: The Development and Defeat of Radio Controlled Glide Bombs of the Third Reich.

"When the ship was about 45 degrees off the forward right side, the aircraft launched the HS-293," Bollinger continues. "The Walther liquid-fueled rocket, running for 10 or 12 seconds, would accelerate to about 600 kilometers per hour (325 knots), at which point the operator had turned the missile into the target."

"Once the rocket burned out," Bollinger explains, "the missile continued with its forward momentum, maintaining a glide by virtue of short wings, until the operator steered it into the target."


The electric razor missile defense

The British and Americans were gravely worried. By the fall of 1943, Allied forces had captured North Africa and Sicily, the U-boat threat was diminishing and the Luftwaffe faded before growing Allied air strength. Now the Brits and Americans could focus on the dangerous task of landing their armies on the European continent.

First they had to thwart the new German ship-killers. The Allies could mostly protect the vulnerable amphibious invasion fleets from regularGerman air attacks. But if German aircraft could stand off at a distance and lob bombs with pinpoint accuracy onto the soft-skinned transports and their escorts, then the Third Reich might stave off invasion.

Fortunately, a disgruntled German scientist had warned the Allies about the smart bombs in 1939, and Ultra code-breakers had intercepted German communications regarding the weapons.

The British outfitted the sloop Egret with special equipment to identify the radio frequencies used to control the German munitions. Some 13 days before Roma was sunk, Egret joined a convoy sailing within range of German bombers based in France.

As hoped, the Germans attacked the convoy with Hs 293 missiles. Unfortunately, one of the ships sunk was Egret.

The Allied landing at the southern Italian port of Salerno on Sept. 3, 1943 was a wake-up call for alliance. The Germans counterattacked and almost drove the Anglo-American troops into the sea. Gunfire from Allied warships saved the landing force … and the entire operation.

But at a terrible cost. The Luftwaffe launched more than 100 Fritz-X and Hs 293 weapons. A Fritz-X struck the famous British battleship Warspite and put the vessel out of commission for months.

Another Fritz-X hit a gun turret on the U.S. light cruiser Savannah and "penetrated through the two-inch armored surface of the turret, tore through three more decks and exploded in the ammunition handling room deep in the bowels of the ship," Bollinger writes.

Miraculously, Savannah survived — but 197 of her crew did not. German guided weapons sank and badly damaged around a dozen ships off Salerno.

Convoys sailing the Atlantic and Mediterranean also suffered. Convoy KMF-26, whose escort included included two U.S. destroyers equipped with the first anti-missile jammers, was attacked off the Algerian coast on Nov. 26, 1943.



(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)


An Hs 293 slammed into the troop transport Rohna, carrying U.S. soldiers to India. At least 1,149 passengers and crew died in what Bollinger describes as the "greatest loss of life of U.S. service members at sea in a single ship in the history of the United States."

It was not until the 1960s that U.S. authorities even admitted that Rohna had been sunk by a guided missile rather than conventional weapons.

Rumor spread among desperate sailors that switching on electric razors would jam the radio frequencies of the "Chase Me Charlies," as the British called the guided munitions.

An urgent and massive anti-missile effort ensued. Ships were told to lay down smokescreens so Germans aircrews couldn't see their targets — and to take high-speed evasive action under attack. But how could anchored transports unloading troops and supplies, or warships providing naval gunfire, maneuver at high speed?

The Allies pinned their hopes on electronic warfare, another class of modern weaponry originating in World War II. The British were already dropping aluminum foil decoys to jam German radars. Less well-known are the Allies' intensive efforts to disrupt German anti-ship missiles.

Allied agents interrogated captured Luftwaffe aircrew. Recovery teams sifted through missile fragments from damaged ships and examined remnants of bombers left behind on airfields in Italy.

The most intensive work took place in labs across Britain and America including the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, where scientists worked feverishly to jam the radio frequencies used by German missile controllers. operators to control the missiles.

The British chose barrage jamming of multiple frequencies, while the Americans opted for what they considered a more efficient technique of jamming only specific frequencies. The U.S. installed the first jammers on two destroyers in September 1943.

The first anti-missile jammers were primitive and cumbersome by today's standards. American equipment required multiple operators and devices to identify the correct frequency and match the jammer to the frequency — and do it all in 10 or 20 seconds before the missile hit its target.

Early jammers didn't work. Based on faulty intelligence, the Allies guessed that the German missiles were controlled by High Frequency signals under 30 MHz. The German actually used the Very High Frequency band of around 50 MHz.

The missiles kept coming.

Yet by August 1944, the Germans missile campaign was over. Some of the last Hs 293s were not even launched at ships, but against French bridges used by Patton's advancing tank columns. Less than a year after its dramatic debut, the German smart bomb threat disappeared.


No wonder weapon

It's hard to estimate losses caused by the guided weapons. German air raids saturated Allied defenses by combining smart bomb attacks with conventional dive bomber and torpedo assaults, so it is always not clear which weapon hit a ship.

The Allies also tried to maintain morale by attributing guided weapon losses to conventional weapons.

Bollinger counts 903 aircraft sorties that carried around 1,200 guided weapons. Of those 1,200, almost a third were never fired because the launch aircraft aborted or were intercepted.

Of the remaining 700 weapons, another third malfunctioned. Of the approximately 470 whose guidance systems worked, at most 51 — or just over 10 percent — actually hit their targets or landed close enough to damage them.

Bollinger calculates that just 17 to 24 ships were sunk and 14 to 21 damaged.

"At most, only one weapon in 24 dispatched from a German airfield scored a hit or damage-causing near miss," Bollinger writes. "Only about one in 14 of the missiles launched achieved similar success, and at most one in nine of those known to respond to operator guidance was able to hit the target or cause significant damage via a near-miss."

"This is very different from the 50-percent hit rate experienced during operational testing," Bollinger points out.

To be fair, the technology was new. There were no lasers or fire control computers. The Fritz-X and Hs 293 were manually guided all the way. Operators had to track both missile and target through cloud, fog and smoke, without the benefit of modern thermal sights.

"It was virtually impossible to hit a ship that was steaming more than 20 knots and could fire back," Bollinger tells War is Boring. "Almost all of the hits were against slow and/or defenseless targets."



(Berliner Verlag/Archiv/dpa/Corbis)


Bollinger hypothesizes that a phenomenon called "multi-path interference," unknown at the time, may also have hampered the performance of the Hs 293. Radio command signals sent from the bomber to the missile might have overshot the weapon, bounced off the ocean surface below and interfered with the missile guidance signal.

The early jammers were ineffective, but Bollinger believes that by the time of the Normandy assault in June 1944, the equipment had improved enough to offer a measure of protection — and partly explains why German missiles performed poorly later in the war.

Strangely, while the Germans took measures to counteract Allied jamming of their air defense radars, they never really addressed the possibility that their anti-ship missiles were also being jammed.

It's wrong to blame the bomb for the faults of the bomber. The real cause for the failure of German smart bombs was that by the time they were introduced in late 1943, the Luftwaffe was almost a spent force.

Already thinly spread supporting the hard-pressed armies in Russia and the West, the German air arm suffered relentless bombardment by U.S. B-17s and B-24s. The Third Reich could never deploy more than six bomber squadrons at a time equipped with the Fritz-X and Hs 293.

When the Luftwaffe ruled the skies over Poland and France in 1939, this might have been enough. By late 1943, a guided-bomb run was practically suicide.

German bombers making daylight attacks had to run a gauntlet of fighters protecting Allied ships in the daytime. Night attacks were marginally safer for the bombers but still exposed them to radar-equipped British and American night fighters. The Allies aggressively bombed any airfield suspected of harboring the smart bombers.

"Allied fighter air cover was by far the most important factor," Bollinger tells War is Boring. "Not only did it lead to large numbers of glide-bombing aircraft getting shot down, it also forced the Germans to shift missions from daylight to dusk or nighttime. This in itself lead to a major and measurable reduction in accuracy."

Many raids would cost the Germans a few bombers. By the standards of the thousand-bomber raids over Germany, this was trifling. But for the handful of specially trained and equipped Luftwaffe squadrons, it was catastrophic.

Of the 903 aircraft sorties, Bollinger estimates that in 112 of them, the bombers were lost before launching their weapons. Another 21 were shot down or crashed on the return flight, for an overall loss ratio of 15 percent.

"Each time a pilot departed on a glide bomb mission, he had almost a one-in-seven chance of never returning in that aircraft safely," Bollinger says. "Put another way, the probability that a pilot would return safely after each of the first 10 missions was only 20 percent."


Learning from history

The rise and fall of the Nazi anti-ship missiles offers lessons for the U.S. and its opponents in the present day. American planners worry that smart anti-ship weapons in the hands of China, smaller nations like Iran or even insurgent groups could threaten U.S. warships and amphibious forces.

One lesson from the 1940s is that passive defenses such as jamming have limited utility against access denial weapons. The best defense is to destroy the launch vehicle before it can fire. "Kill the archer" is the term the Pentagon uses.

China stands to learn the most profound lesson. For all the power and terror of the German anti-ship weapons, they could not compensate for the inability of the German navy and Luftwaffe to confront the Allied navies on the open seas.

Smart bombs did worry Allied commanders, but the new munitions couldn't prevent the amphibious invasions of Italy and France. Chinese missiles might disrupt U.S. operations, but they are no substitute for countering a powerful navy with an effective navy of your own.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of all is that what is new is old. With each passing year, the weapons of World War II seem closer to the era of Gettysburg and Jutland than the high-tech warfare of today. That perception can encourage an unjustified smugness.

The problems modern navies and air forces struggle with — anti-ship guided missiles, jamming, operations in contested airspace — were the same that German pilots and Allied sailors faced.

The terror that the crew of an Italian battleship, British cruiser or American merchant ship felt at the sight of German missiles might not differ from what a U.S. destroyer or carrier crew might feel while being targeted by Chinese ballistic missiles.
http://theweek.com/article/index/264760/the-nazi-smart-bombs-that-inspired-chinas-most-dangerous-weapon

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #82 on: August 03, 2014, 12:22:01 AM »
Thanks!

"Bollinger calculates that just 17 to 24 ships were sunk and 14 to 21 damaged."

I had no idea that much damage was done by German smart weapons in addition to what the
V-2s and acoustic torpedoes did.

Dangerous as that was for the German smart weapon pilots, it was still safer than doing U-boat duty, or Allied heavy bomber daylight service earlier in the war, or for US Marines on amphibious assaults in the Pacific, if I recall correctly.

I suspect life was even cheaper and shorter in the Russian theater, but I doubt if there's honest numbers.

Of course, nothing approaches the mortality rates of Japanese Kamikaze pilots and human piloted torpedoes.


Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #83 on: August 03, 2014, 10:18:13 AM »
Can't remember reading about the Fritz and Hs smart weapons before.
Funny how the article starts about the 'vile' weapons of 'evil' nazi scientists/engineers while they're in common use today. Does he means today's guided weapons are less 'vile', or its developers not 'evil' because they exist three quarters of a century later?

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #84 on: August 04, 2014, 10:02:59 PM »
Well, I finished re-reading a historical nautical fiction series, and have returned to the book about the DeHavilland  Mosquito.

By a strange co-incidence, it was about the photography missions regarding early American attempts at "Smart "weapons".

What they would do was install a remote controlled auto-pilot in a B-17 or B-24 to turn it into a drone, pack it with 20,000 lbs. of Torpex  ( the torpedo explosive made from nitroglycerin and powdered aluminum. ) and a few charges of TNT.  A pilot and co-pilot would get it airborne, turn over control, and bail out at the coast. The drone would be followed by the control plane and flanked by the Mosquito.

They didn't work nearly as well as hoped. The one Joey Kennedy Jr. flew blew up with him in it. I was previously under the misapprehension that  he volunteered for a suicide mission against a strategic target, rather than he died due to a malfunction aboard a top secret experimental aircraft.

One overshot the target. One undershot. One failed to dive upon the target. Of the drone attacks photo-reconned by Mosquitos, none hit the intended target.

I think it was the same with the rocket boosted glide bombs.

*********************************************
The Americans were impressed with the speed & range , and ordered some for photo- recon and weather measuring purposes that B-17s and B-24s were preforming.

Except that they used P-38 Lightning pilots, because it was another fast twin engine medium plane. They seemed the same, but they weren't. The Rolls Royce engines were quieter.
They were not designed to balance by counter-rotating. So when they firewalled the throttles on take off, for example, the American pilots were shocked to find the planes pulling to one side. Likewise, the Rolls Royce  Merlin engines had altitude-sensitive superchargers, that would kick in at 20,000 ft. The problem was that both engines had separate sensors and rarely kicked in simultaneously, which was a rude awakening for an unsuspecting pilot.

***************************************************************

I read about a bunch of missions where they dropped chaff ahead of the bombers. It was a waste of the speed. They were usually forced to zig-zag so that the bombers could keep up.
The chaff aided the heavy bombers, but traveling slow was deadly to unarmed Mosquitoes.


Offline Lord Avalon

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #85 on: August 04, 2014, 10:29:52 PM »

Interesting that Lockheed came up with counter-rotating engines for the P-38, but the Mosquito pilot is just supposed to manually correct for the engines pulling to one side.

Periodically I read a bit from The Mammoth Book of Inside the Elite Forces by Nigel Cawthorne. In the chapter "Insertion and Extraction," there's a section describing how Robert Edison Fulton Jr developed his aerial retrieval system (later dubbed "Skyhook") in the 50s. He wondered what would happen if you were out of reach of helicopters. He came up with the idea of using a helium-filled weather balloon attached to a nylon line - later a braided nylon line - which would be caught by a tubular steel V-shaped catching device on the nose of a plane flying slowly at 125 mph (c. 201 kph). A spring-triggered catch would secure the line, whereupon the balloon would be released. The line would trail under the aircraft, where crew would catch it with a J-hook, attach it to a winch inside, and the person (or cargo) attached to a harness at the end of the line could be pulled up. A 500-foot (c. 152m) line was used, and a bright marker was attached 75 feet (c. 23m) from the end as an aiming point for the pilot.


After tests with weights, the first live pickup was a pig. It spun underneath the plane, and after it was pulled on board and recovered from the disorientation, it attacked the crew. On 12 Aug 1958 USMC Staff Sgt Levi W. Wood was the first human to be picked up. Extension of arms and legs prevented the spin.


Quote
The US government considered using the Skyhook to rescue the Dali [sic] Lama from Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1959, but he was extracted by yak instead.
;lol
Your agonizer, please.

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Navy's Secret to Building a Stealth Ship (Op-Ed)
« Reply #86 on: August 11, 2014, 11:23:17 PM »
Quote
Navy's Secret to Building a Stealth Ship (Op-Ed)
LiveScience.com
By Nikhil Gupta and Steven Zeltmann, NYU  55 minutes ago



USS Zumwalt Navy Destroyer



Nikhil Gupta is an associate professor and Steven Zeltmann is a student researcher in the Composite Materials and Mechanics Laboratoryof the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering. Gupta and Zeltmann contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The USS Zumwalt, the United States Navy's latest and largest destroyer, is a stark contrast to the ironclad ships of old. The gray angular deckhouse may bring back memories of Civil War-era battleships, but the technology of the deckhouse and what lies inside is anything but old-fashioned.

The Zumwalt, or DDG-1000, is the first of three ships of the Zumwalt class to be completed. This project is a huge undertaking by the U.S. Navy and represents the single largest line item in its budget. But the new technologies being developed as part of the program will make the Zumwalt class years ahead of any other current warship — one profound example is the deckhouse material.

The Zumwalt makes extensive use of composite materials in the deckhouse structure — not only to make the structure lighter, but also to control the ship's radar profile and achieve a high level of stealth.

One of the most important and advanced composites used in the deckhouse is a material known as syntactic foam, which incorporates hollow particles that entrap air in a polymer. The hollow particles are microscopic, sometimes as small as 10 microns (about one-tenth the thickness of a human hair), and made of stiff materials like glass. The hollow, particle-filled polymer composite of the Zumwalt's deckhouse acts like a lightweight sponge, but one that doesn't absorb water because the pores are enclosed inside the glass particles. The glass shell of the particles also reinforces the voids, and creates a material that is lightweight, but strong.

Syntactic foams have already seen widespread use in civilian and commercial deep-sea vehicles, including the remote-operated submersible currently being used in the search for MH370, or the Challenger craft used by James Cameron in the solo dive to the deepest part of the ocean. This is because syntactic foams overcome two of the major disadvantages of traditional polymer foams: low stiffness and high water absorption.

But in the Zumwalt, the choice of syntactic foam was not based just on its light weight and low water absorption. The ship makes use of one other unique property of syntactic foam: its highly tailorable radio-transmission characteristics. The Zumwalt uses more than 3,500 cubic feet of syntactic foam to achieve the radar profile of a small fishing boat, despite being the largest destroyer in the Navy's fleet. The syntactic foams used in much of the deckhouse are designed to absorb and attenuate radar signals rather than reflect them, thereby confusing the enemy's tracking systems.

It's easy to notice that the complex radar and antenna structure common to all Navy ship decks is absent on the Zumwalt. The antennae are enclosed within the ship's "invisible" syntactic-foam deckhouse. The foam is designed to transmit the signals from the ship's own radar systems, but instead of having a complex shape on the exterior of the ship — which is easy to spot on radar — the clean-slab sides mask the profile of the antennae from enemy radar.

Research on syntactic foams and other advanced functional materials is essential to keeping the U.S. naval fleet ahead of the competition. Our lab works closely with the Navy to develop new materials and to gain a greater understanding of how the existing materials function at the microscopic level. We're also exploring how nanoscale fillers, like carbon nanofiber in syntactic foams,might improve the materials' strength and electromagnetic radiation interference signatures —possibly for use in the next generation of advanced ships.
http://news.yahoo.com/navys-secret-building-stealth-ship-op-ed-212101841.html

Offline gwillybj

Blasts Were 186 Old Cannon Balls
« Reply #87 on: August 13, 2014, 09:51:06 PM »
The Glens Falls Post-Star
Blasts Were 186 Old Cannon Balls
Amanda May Metzger
August 13, 2014

Quote
SOUTH GLENS FALLS [NY] -- The three blasts that shook up residents in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties were caused by 12-pound Civil War-era cannon balls — 186 of them — destroyed in controlled detonations Tuesday in a quarry in South Glens Falls.

The cannon balls were not a major explosive threat, authorities said Wednesday, but they had no explanation for why the public was not warned about the controlled blasts — three booms moments apart at about 5:30 p.m. — that rattled buildings and startled people for miles.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Kieran Dollard of the 725th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit based in Fort Drumm said the cannon balls were dug up at the Watervliet Arsenal, the nation’s oldest arsenal, many years ago and were taken Tuesday from the cast iron warehouse where the Watervliet Arsenal Museum is being revamped.

Earlier reports stated incorrectly that Civil War-era explosives had washed up on the bank of the Hudson River. The arsenal is located on the west bank of the Hudson.

The 725th Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in. The Army team contacted the State Police Bomb Disposal Unit to help find a location where the softball-sized cannon rounds could be safely blown up.

“Some contractors were there working trying to clean up some stuff for the museum, and they wanted them out of the museum,” Dollard said.

He said the cannon balls were transported in a specialized trailer to the quarry in South Glens Falls. They were divided into three piles for detonation.

“There’s not a lot of explosives in them, maybe some black powder residue, which is dangerous. They can still be hazardous,” Dollard said. “There’s enough to cause damage and hurt people, but they were not major explosives.”

In 19th century warfare, the balls would have been used in 12-pound cannons, called Napoleon cannons during the American Civil War, when they were widely used.

Dollard said the quarry, located off Ferry Boulevard in the village, was the safest, nearest place to detonate the cannon balls.

Residents reported windows rattling and houses shaking.

Denny Kobor, who lives on Moreau Drive near the quarry, said he is used to hearing low thunderous blasting from the quarry, but the three explosions Tuesday sounded “more shrill.”

“The pit’s right there, so you hear it all the time, but this was different. That sounded like an explosion,” Kobor said. “I thought a house blew up, to tell you the truth.”

During the explosions, Kobor was headed over to his son’s house on Harrison Avenue to meet his wife and check on their son’s two dogs

“They were flying all around,” Kobor said of the reactions of the dogs — a husky puppy and German shepherd and Irish setter mix.

“I told my wife if we hear a fourth one, I’m getting in my car and going to find out what that is,” Kobor said.

The only role played by State Police was finding a safe place for the detonation, according to State Police spokeswoman Darcy Wells. After the blasts, dispatch centers in all three counties were bombarded with calls from concerned residents. The blasts shook windows in houses across a wide region, including South Glens Falls, Glens Falls and Queensbury.

South Glens Falls Village Police Chief Kevin Judd said his department wasn’t warned about the blasts.

People who live near the quarry are used to hearing blasts from the quarry, “but they’re usually during the middle of the day, and they’re not as loud as the ones we heard last night,” Judd said.

Darlene Winslow, who lives in Midtown Apartments on Riverview Street, said her neighbors, many of them elderly, were scared when the building shook from the force of the explosions.

“Everyone came out of their apartments ... It was scary because we didn’t know if we were having an earthquake or if something close by blew up,” Winslow said.

Wells said she could not explain why the public wasn’t alerted, but she said State Police have a protocol of notifying 911 centers about controlled demolitions, and that was followed in Warren and Saratoga counties.

“This way, if anyone called, they’d have an answer right away as to what was happening,” Wells said.

She said State Police haven’t used the South Glens Falls quarry in the past for its own controlled detonations. She said State Police don’t generally disclose the locations of controlled detonations, which are usually conducted in less populated areas.

Dollard said he didn’t know why the public wasn’t notified, but said that’s not his team’s responsibility.

“We can’t take care of it (controlled detonations) without permission from the local authorities, which was the State Police Bomb Disposal Unit in this case,” Dollard said.

The State Police Bomb Disposal Unit often assists other agencies with calls to deal with improvised explosive devices, recovered military ordnance, commercial explosives and fireworks throughout the upstate area.


http://poststar.com/news/local/blasts-were-cannon-balls/article_1ad2943c-2302-11e4-9c63-001a4bcf887a.html

Quite the event. At least it wasn't the local paper mill exploding. The second of the three blasts lifted my chair off the floor - with me in it - and I live 3 miles from the site :o
Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. ― Arthur C. Clarke
I am on a mission to see how much coffee it takes to actually achieve time travel. :wave:

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History 2.0: Civil War Journals & Historic Letters Go Digital
« Reply #88 on: August 14, 2014, 03:47:33 PM »
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History 2.0: Civil War Journals & Historic Letters Go Digital
LiveScience.com
By Laura Geggel, Staff Writer  59 minutes ago



The public can help the Smithsonian digitize historical documents online, such as the notes Martin Moynihan made on gulls in South America during the 1950s.



Armchair historians with a knack for reading scratchy handwriting can now help the Smithsonian Institution with a giant effort to preserve thousands of historical letters and journals online.

The newly launched Transcription Center invites the public to read and digitally transcribe documents ranging from Civil War journals to notes on bumblebee specimens to letters from famous artists, such as Mary Cassatt and Grandma Moses.

"We are thrilled to invite the public to be our partners in the creation of knowledge to help open our resources for professional and casual researchers to make new discoveries," Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough said in a statement. "For years, the vast resources of the Smithsonian were powered by the pen; they can now be powered by the pixel."

Once the documents are transcribed online, anyone with a historical penchant or research goal will be able to access them on the Smithsonian's website.

The Smithsonian has thousands of handwritten texts that cannot be decoded by computers. Only careful transcription by human volunteers can make these notes readable and searchable online, experts said.

This past year, the Smithsonian demonstrated the power of such crowdsourcing, when nearly 1,000 volunteers helped the Transcription Center tackle more than 13,000 pages of transcription. Among the historical documents that were digitized were field reports written by one of the Monuments Men who rescued artwork during World War II. Once a document is transcribed and uploaded online, another volunteer reviews the words and a Smithsonian expert certifies it.

Another project from this beta-test phase included the digitization of notes on almost 45,000 bumblebee specimens. Each note had information about the bees and the date and location of their collection, according to Smithsonian representatives. Researchers interested in studying the rapid decline of bees over the past few decades can access this information online, which may help them understand the bees' population history and decline.

Within two weeks, volunteers had also typed up the 121-page diary of Earl Shaffer, the first documented man to walk the Appalachian Trail. Hikers, naturalists and researchers can now read the journal online without handling its delicate pages.

Volunteers interested in joining the Transcription Center project can register online and browse a range of texts on art, history, culture and science.
http://news.yahoo.com/history-2-0-civil-war-journals-historic-letters-134001119.html

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Book Talk - Retracing the steps of the Great War's 'Trigger'
« Reply #89 on: August 14, 2014, 05:38:21 PM »
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Book Talk - Retracing the steps of the Great War's 'Trigger'
Reuters
By Ed Stoddard  1 hour ago



A man takes pictures as he is reflected in poster with of Gavrilo Princip before a ceremony in East Sarajevo, June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic



JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - In June 1914, a Bosnian Serb teenager named Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, setting in motion a train of events that led to the start of World War One.

Cape Town-based author and adventurer Tim Butcher retraces Princip's steps in his just-published book "The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War."

Starting from Princip's remote home village in present-day Bosnia, Butcher hiked through rugged wolf and bear country and even managed to pursue some trout in his quest to unlock the assassin's secrets.

Along the way, he enjoyed central European peasant hospitality and found previously unknown school reports for Princip in obscure archives where historians had failed to peer.

Butcher argues that Princip was not the Serbian nationalist he has been portrayed as, but a patriot striving for a greater Yugoslavia.

His journey ended in Sarajevo, where Princip fired the shots that changed the course of 20th century history.

Butcher, who covered the Balkan conflicts as a reporter in the 1990s for the Daily Telegraph and has previously written two adventure travel books set in Africa, spoke to Reuters by phone about his new work and his historical quarry.

Q: What motivated you to write the book?

A: The primary motivation is still not understanding where the First World War comes from, how we came to lose so many millions of people around the world. That's really the genesis of this book. I wanted to go back to the founding sequence of the First World War narrative.

Q: As a South Africa-based writer, what lessons do you think this country's transition offers to places such as the Balkans?

A: I think it's a lesson of hope. In the Balkans, we haven't had many Mandelas. Having worked as a journalist in both environments, the Balkans and in South Africa, I know which place has divisions that are more charged. And that's the Balkans. Which place thinks more about tomorrow than yesterday, that's South Africa.

Q: How do you think Princip would have reacted to the events he unleashed if, say, he had lived to see Tito's Yugoslavia after World War Two?

A: A complicated question because, of course, he unleashed events that led to world war ... I think he would have been shocked, and let's be absolutely honest: Princip is not the cause of the First World War, he is but the trigger. The cause is about the strategic rivalries between the great powers, the willingness to go to war. I mean, they wilfully accepted an assassination on a street corner in the Balkans as a reason to go to war in Belgium, for crying out loud. How insane is that?

I argue very strongly in this, and I think he has been misunderstood by history, (that) he was a Yugoslav nationalist. And people have missed that, partly because they're ignorant, partly because they haven't done the research, and partly because Yugoslavia is out of fashion. It became pretty unfashionable in the 1990s. But if you take those goggles off from the 1990s and put on goggles from 100 years ago, Yugoslavia was a very romantic, positive, utopian idea. So he had a lot of romance about him, to be brutally honest. I don't think he would have been totally into Tito. But he would have appreciated what Tito did, which was to bring everyone together.

Q: What is your next book project?

A: I can't really say at the moment. I'm trying to work out the right balance of history and travel.

(Editing by Ayla Jean Yackley and Mark Trevelyan)
http://news.yahoo.com/book-talk-retracing-steps-great-wars-trigger-151951303.html

 

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