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, January 10, 2013

On More Of The Odd Customs And Predilictions Of The Toadeaters

We'll let that famous, weapons-themed buffoon, Ron Ermey, get the ball rolling for us. Gunny is of course a well-known and respected idiot.
Good on 'im though. He's simply found out that you can yell at anything like it's a sorry-punk-ass-maggot-recruit - and make money in the doing.
Who knew?
To be fair, he has actually had to act every now and then. That is to say, more challenging than simply; being "The Gunny" (That's "honorary" by the way, the "gunny" thing; I just found out. So; he's an honorary E-7...  Ooooookay).
Anyway, check out "Mississippi Burning". Ron does a good job in that flick.
I'm only picking on Honorary Gunnery-Sergeant Ermey because he's an easy target and he's got the standard French-bashing thing dialed-in which, along with his... elastic  view of history makes him... enlightening to me.
Long, long ago faithful friend Kevin sent me a book, the subject of which was the very piece of merde that the honorable, Honorary Gunnery-Sergeant has spoken of so discerningly during his brief but insightful exposition.
Just to broaden the sample a bit...
Huh? This guy's gun worked.
He'd even made a French joke in aid of the narrative but that reliable piece-of-shit just wouldn't jam. It failed... to fail! What's up wit dat? Shit, no French-bashing at all.
Does this guy not know that the thing is a piece of crap?
Maybe he knew better. 
Fact is: it wasn't that bad. The magazines were a problem due to being flimsy to begin with and open on the side so as to let the ammo get as much fresh air as it possible.
It's really not a bad idea when you hear the logic. In our wonderful, polymer-enhanced world this would be a non-issue - see-thru  plastic etc.
The side was left open so the second gunner could see the ammo level.
When the magazine was empty the gunner would release it while the second caught it and inserted a fresh mag. Smooth like.
In the meantime, the second gunner either gets out a full mag from his store until depleted. Then the other members of the CSRG, the two ammo-carriers would pony up their bit.
Anyway, the CSRG; AKA "Chauchat Sutter Ribeyrolles Gladiator" was a "game-changer" much as I hate that term. 
Considering some of the timely and topical subjects being considered in the national discourse at present - the fate of "assault weapons" and "modern sporting rifles" for example - the Chauchat bears notice being that was a pioneer of the entire concept.
This is the first machine gun to be designed around the concept of "walking fire".
As such it was planned to be of rifle caliber with selective-fire capability. And to be fired from the hip while advancing... forward... like - in an assault.
Like the tank, it developed as a response to the nagging problem of hardened, machine guns and their elimination, specifically: assaulting them.
What the big brains came up with, which was fairly consolidated by 1917 was the concept of a team of "machine gun killers".
What a great name, their t-shirts must have been awesome.
This team consisted of... a CSRG crew, preferably two, whose task was to engage the evil, bad-guy MG from the flanks.
At the same time, "skirmishers" would add another layer of security to the guys who were the real nuts of the team: the VB rifle grenadiers.
They would occupy the center of the line, taking advantage of the breathing space offered by the Chauchat's breaking of the MG gunner's concentration.
During this time the  grenadiers could work on dropping ordnance where appropriate.
Next photo, a bunch of guys who just happened to be around with the right gear to make a decent photo-op.
On the far left we see the gunner. You can bet that this is the picture he uses for his avatar on FaceBook.
 To his left is a grenadier - on the end of his rifle you'll see a "tromblon".
We're not going to sweat the other three since they're not showing any "mission specific" gear.
As a side note, this photo's accompanying caption draws attention the fact that the "gunner" pictured, far left, sports five chevrons on his left sleeve denoting thirty-months of front-line service.
Funny thing is: they all seem to have five chevrons.
For those slow on the maths thats two and a half years.
Okay, next pic, a tromblon; a steel, wine-bottle-with-no-bottom which appears to have attached to the rifle the same way the bayonet did.
The VB, rifle-grenade itself is a piece of work. First of all, rifle grenades have been around since God was a boy, nothing new there.
The earlier grenades were "rod" grenades, named after their inventor, Rod.
Not really.
As you know, the rod was inserted into the bore of the standard infantry rifle.
Then a special, blank cartridge was loaded, the rifle braced at the proper angle and then... off it goes.
Problems: The rifle - not liking a stick down its throat was rather emphatic in its desire to get rid of it. Firing the rifle triggered its gag reflex and, while the grenade traveled a fair bit, lots of the energy was also transferred through the stock, to the ground (You didn't fire them from the shoulder. They called those that did "casualties").
The woodwork on the guns didn't like it either.
Thereafter evolved a class of "grenade rifles".
As far as Enfields went, the entire forestock was wrapped in either wire or sheet metal.
The "shoot-through" grenades made the rifles, and their care-givers much happier.
Here's where the  Vivien-Bessières really shines Wait. The first "shoot-through" grenade - as well as the ... "modern sporting rifle"?
Whoa! Check out the big brains on the Surrender Monkeys. Who'd 'a thunk it?
As pictured, this thing is about the size of the bottom half on a beer-can, a 16 ouncer.
This ugly, little spud - it looks like a battery, doesn't it - is the shit.
Size; relative to a known constant, is portrayed next.
Little spud, two versions, one with a cover the other without appear in the upper right. (The ones with the circle around them).
Compare and contrast. lower left; look for another circle and you'll see: the star of stage and screen, the US Mk2 "pineapple"..

So, the VB wasn't a big item. It weighed just a little over a pound total and two ounces  of that was taken up by the charge: 60 g of cheddite.  Observe the helpful graphic. The lavender bits represent the grenade itself.
This marked the end of the rifle-abusing rod-grenades and the annoyance of their their special, blank cartridge.
Launching a rod-grenade with a normal service round may have been just fine but I wouldn't have wanted to be the guy who test-drove the concept.
Remember John Browning's brainwave, the full-auto lever-gun which we discussed a while back, here.
It was simply a flapper with a hole through the center. This let the bullet pass right through but all the pent-up gasses, finally free from being-stuck-behind-Mr. Slowmo-projectile, are released into the world - doing nothing and needing an outlet. Like teenagers - lots of energy but no focus.
Browning pursuaded these gasses to cycle a lever-action rifle - 15 times a second... until the rifle was empty... that is to say: in a second.
It made the point: there's lots of wasted energy there, at the muzzle.
The VB system channeled all that squandered energy in a useful direction.
The VB grenade didn't have the range of the rod-grenade but it didn't have the recoil either.
Better yet, ammo was ammo as far as the grenades went. No more silly-ass farting around with the "special blanks" and that. The bullet that was in the gun - would send the grenade on its way - up to around 200 yards.
Far enough, apparently.
They were sooo bitchin'-cool that the French used them until 1940.
The post-script to the whole thing that warms my little heart: Even with the reduced recoil, when compared to a rod-grenade, the spud was still a shock.
So, turns out that the rifle the French kept on the books, just to fire this thing was the M1886 Lebel (Hello... It's the 19th century. They want their tube magazine back).
And, get off my lawn!

Just so I can maintain an even strain. Gotta touch on current events. The comedy of the moment concerns one James Yeager who, if he's related to Chuck,by now probably has the old guy spinning in his grave like a turbine.
I won't link to him just because, he's all over and if you go hunting yourself you may find nuggets I've missed. "Everbody's talkin' 'bout James."
Idiot.
But... if I ran a business selling "security" along with training so that one may learn to "remain calm under fire" it would seem that one would not benefit from tantrums on the web - performed repeatedly by the CEO of the operation.
Anyway, young James feels that some troll/haters out there in cyber nation have been calling into question his possession of certain... qualities... the goods, the genuine article... the right stuff.
A Pair! That's it.
They're tellin' my man Jim that he needs "a pair"... Oh yeah?
What kinda' nuts does it take; to be in the business of training mall-ninjas while, at the same time, being kitted out just like them - as if in direct mockery of their superficial lifestyle and its shallow emulation of your own, been-to-the-edge, seen-the-elephant, reality?
Jim invites these unstable, armed, insecure individuals into his very presence. He teaches them nurtures them, all the while knowing that in a instant, something could go wrong and he could end up at the bottom of a seething dogpile of angry, sweaty, middle-school boys.
That's a risk he faces daily.
And he can never escape.
All those idiotic videos and guts-ball, macho-man photos.
Check out the beefcake, girls.
I don't know if he's single but I'd bet he will be soon in any case.
Even if he decides to start playing it straight with the mall-ninjas, this will always haunt him.
He'll always be around, surly guy with no hair and a goatee.
But he's no coward.
Sure he may lose all his business, that would be the "professional warrior" niche.
That is probably his only marketable skill - and the resumes a little thin if you ask me.
But it's going to be fun to watch the soaring career of one of the nation's top operators crash to the ground with no VA pension.
You know what's the difference between you and Jesse Ventura, Jim?
A DD214.
Coward? Nah. Poser, pussy, wannabe... deeply-disturbed, insecure, unhappy man. Sure, why not.
Let's add walking joke, punch-line, Joe-the-plumber II (minus the smarts)...
The list is too long.
But Jim, don't sweat it. The rest of these fifteen minutes will go by really fast.
Then, it's Temp Source for you!
Just keep on keepin' it real.

4 comments:

Kevin said...

Random thoughts.

Re the chauchat, you might want to read this :

http://www.the-othersixteen.org/home.html

http://www.the-othersixteen.org/media/republicanamerican5508.html

Kevin said...

Re the love affair the French army had with rifle grenades, well, it's still ongoing.
Reading about the convoluted development of the current-and-'soon'-to-be-replaced FAMAS assault rifle (most likely, the last indigenous service rifle fielded by the AdT, until the local small arms industry is rebuilt from scratch... along with the rest of the industry), the capacity to safely and repeatedly firing the heavy (500g vs the usual 250g) rifle-grenade favored by the French was a strict requirement (the still in use AC58 RG is supposed to defeat 25 cm/10 inches of armor, and it was the Cold War, so...), leading to a number of the rifle's idiosyncrasies.
Still very much in use nowadays, along with a small number of 40mm UGL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f47lmDu0PEE

Kevin said...

Re Yeager, well, if you don't already know that jucy bit of trivia/gossip... look around, Yeager+ambush, etc, etc... you should find a dashcam video of the infamous iraqi ambush, in the early days of the war.

Chuck, err, James was a "contractor" there (he already was running a shooting instruction center, though he was not yet looking like a MMA guy, IIRC, he was pudgy/heavyset and non-tattoed), and a convoy his team escorted was ambushed on "road irish", the supply line to the Baghdad airport.

Accounts differ, but Yeager supposedly
1) crippled the convoy by fumbling with the parking brake of the truck he was driving, and
2) susquently ran away and hid in a ditch, leaving his crew in the "X".
One was killed, IIRC, with the remainder none too happy, and there was much acrimony and diverging between Yeager's version, his men's, and his employer's.
I don't personally know what really happened there and then, but the most commonly accepted version is the "ran for dear life and hid in a ditch" one, certainly cast a shadow on his career, but didn't kill it, weirdly enough.
So, YMMV.

Note too that I don't judge JY in any way regarding that incident, I've never been shot at (and never will, to my relief), even less so by disgruntled natives with easy access to PKM... but still have no illusions about how I'd feel about it, not a single one. OTOH, I don't teach tactical shooting for a living. So, YMMV again.

S O said...

This rifle grenade's principle was revived by FN Herstal with the 'Bullet Thru' rifle grenade family.

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