Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Diggin' Potatoes

Hey Andy. I had the identical thought first thing this morning. Vanity of vanities.
On the FGIC site, the latest is that R. Lee Ermey, while shilling for an insurance company, declared the President to be a socialist. If only.
I know, retired Marine and former DI - and the guy who played the DI in "Full Metal Jacket" - but I don't see deep political thinker in any of that.
Besides, his day job is flogging SOG stainless steel shite so it would appear that his opinions are a completely purchasable commodity.
Update: Apparently he appears regularly in Geico commercials and his ill-considered rant was tossed out at a fundraiser for Toys For Tots. Classy guy - and, he's sixty-six years old. Is he ever going to quit dining out on his Marine Corps service?
Movie time;

I wanted to find some video of one of these "potato diggers" firing so the digging action could be seen but - it wasn't to be. Our dynamic narrator does cycle the action once though.
Remember this guy? We last saw him when I dredged up John Browning's 1892 patent for a full-auto, lever action rifle here.
When tested it fired sixteen rounds in less than a second. See the entire patent here.
This was obviously just a test of the concept, the practicality being non-existent. If you empty your magazine (Loaded one round at a time) in less than a second, it seems that your choices are firing your entire load or not firing at all. And there's the question of one's left hand being up there in close proximity to that bar flailing back and forth at blinding, finger mangling speed.
All that notwithstanding, I still think it's brilliant. Besides, John wasn't one to rest on his laurels. Three years later he patented the M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun. An earlier gas operated gun had been patented by a Mexican General named Manuel Mondragon in 1887 but I don't believe it was ever put into production.
The flapper, that was actuated by the expanding gases at the muzzle in the lever-action prototype, was replaced with a piston - mounted on a swinging arm - that tapped into the barrel. All the flying dangerous bits were streamlined and fit into the body of the gun with the exception of that swinging lever. That cumbersome bit of linkage is what got folks referring to its possible agricultural applications.
The first models could be mounted either on a wheeled cart or a tall tripod. The 1914 version featured the option of a lower tripod that, if set up carelessly, caused a lot of dirt flying around - at 450 cycles per second.
In spite of the seeming clumsiness of the action, it was said to be a smooth-firing gun - and enough of a threat that none other than the other American machine gun genius, Hiram Maxim sued for patent infringement. The Maxim gun was recoil operated vs gas but I guess Hiram wasn't content with his virtual monopoly.
Of course, Maxim got to the party first so his hold on the concept was secure for a few more years and the spud digger was never used in great numbers.
I can't help thinking that, for all its faults, that this is a very clean system. After the gas utilized it's out and unable to gum anything up.

I've taken the liberty of adding to the diagram above, the arc of the potato excavating part. It's silly, given that 450 30.06 rounds per minute would be spewing out into the world, that I can't look at it without thinking; "That's dangerous! What if you got your finger pinched in there?"
Well, it would hurt - and you'd bleed all over your potatoes.

Still further update on "Gunny's" spokesman ship.
An e-mail sent to Toys For Tots (Not mine - I'm lazy) received the following response:

"Mr. XXXXX,

No one can control someone with a microphone on a stage. Mr. Ermey was not speaking for Toys for Tots. He was making his own comments known. The fact that he chose this platform to air "his" views is very unfortunate, as they had absolutely NO PLACE in that event.

The Foundation Officers and Board of Directors will be reviewing this video clip, and I am certain that afterward our President & CEO will be contacting Mr. Ermey to inform him that he is no longer welcome to participate with Toys for Tots.

Brian A. Murray
Major, USMC (Ret)
Vice President, Operations
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation"


That is a class organization.
Toys for Tots is something, along with many other things, that the USMC should be very proud of.
The self-aggrandizing "movie star"; not so much
Oh, and the band that murdered "Paint it Black" (First use of a sitar in R&R - 1964) on the video needs to find another band to rip off.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Dan, you ever see "the rough Riders"? great portrayal of the period weapons, to include the Colt.

Locations of visitors to this page