June 28, 2007

Case Ejecting Revolver ?

For the second time in as many weeks ACE posts a seriously interesting revolver pic.

 

No I have no idea what it is yet, but reading the comments, it seems this thing can actually extract the cases as they are fired!

That's unheard of in a revolver. If this were to work, it would make a good police or defensive firearm. One could top off ones cylinder like one can top off a weapon with a tube magazine, like a pump gun. This would be very good in a lot of tactical situations.

 Of course...given the general lack of these things filling gun store shelves, there is likely something I'm missing.

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June 25, 2007

The Utility of Airships in Defense and SAR Operations

One of the challenges facing the USCG is replacing the medium endurance cutters. The Reliance class are decent ships that have served well beyond their anticipated life, but...they are thus quite old are slow, bad rollers and spares for their engines must be obtained from South Africa, or hand made here. The Bear class are only about 10 years younger, are bad rollers and slow, (though they are robust vessels still in good condition) that both classes have given such good service is, at this point, a testament to their crews rather than their design.

Replacing these is a daunting and expensive prospect, as is manning them. The new offshore patrol cutter currently under development has a crew of 91 plus an air group. Note that given the issues with the new high endurance cutters, the USCG may be going back to the drawing board with these vessels.

Ideally a medium endurance cutter should have a helicopter for fast transit to a SAR search area and to extend the ships horizon. It should be fast, have good endurance and excellent sensors. It should have a large capacity for rescuees. Aside from the last requirement, these criteria can be met by this  old design. It is a 330 page pdf file of a 1980 study on airships by the USCG using the technology of the day.

In the late '80s the Coast Guard rented a Skyship from the UK for tests and it was considered quite succsessful. In the early 90s an improved version, the Sentinel 1000, was being tested for the Navy and Coast Guard, but it was destroyed when the airship hangar in Weeksville NC burned, ending the program.

An airship has several advantages, it has far greater endurance than a helicopter, it is almost as fast, ( 60-90kts depending on the design) it can carry a large surveillance radar, it can hover longer...( for days if needed) compared to a patrol boat or WMEC it is at least twice as fast. Airships actually can deal with storms fairly well, (the USNs K-class airships served in the north Atlantic, some of the worst weather on the planet, yet they only lost one...which was destroyed by gunfire from a U-boat).

Today there are several designs to choose from, the old Zeppelin company is back in the rigid airship business with their innovative Zeppelin NT design, that uses steerable thrust to lower ground crew to 3!

Skycat of the UK is offering an amphibious lifting body design specifically geared to costal patrol and surveillance, perhaps inspired by the recent US Army tests with another UK design, the Lightship. Heck, even Blackwater security is getting into the airship business! Thus this is NOT unproven technology.

Given that it can't carry hundreds of rescuees, is not going to break ice and is not going to carry buoys, it is not a replacement for all surface vessels, but for polar science research, general law enforcement , search and rescue, ice patrol and surveillance, these craft have awesome potential as force multipliers. It has the reach, horizon and very nearly the speed of a helicopter operated from a medium endurance cutter, with far more time on scene and the crew and fuel expenses of a patrol boat!

  For Naval applications AEW and ASW airships have already proved their worth. Regards ASW in particular a larger design might well fill a niche that seems to have atrophied somewhat in the USN. The Army is already looking into them for surveillance and communications relays and Army and humanitarian organizations might find them useful for mine clearance in postwar theaters, especially if they're fitted with ground penetrating radar or other advanced sensors...

  But as a coastie, my primary interest is as a cost effective asset to the Coast Guard, and I really think something of this type is an excellent and cost effective means of increasing reach and reducing response time at a limited cost.

I think it certainly bears further investigation.

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June 24, 2007

Mini Ospreys for Coasties PLEASE!

  The V22 Osprey has had a terrible time in development, but its predecessor the Bell XV 15 was one of the safest and most successful VSTOL  aircraft prototype.


 The US Coast Guard was very interested, it was EXACTLY the right size, speed and range for them,  but the senior sea service could not afford enough to make production viable for Bell, they tried to interest the other services for a bulk buy....the other services decided that an enlarged version would be a perfect fit for them and the V22 was ordered....the prototype was spectacularly successful so makin' it bigger should be cheap right?

Well no....

  At least part of the problems stemmed from the fact that the mechanics of the thing did not scale up easily. The original plane, who's outstanding success had inspired its trouble plagued stepchild languished as investors shied away...put off by the V22s myriad problems and the single crash of an XV 15 around 1992.

Now, according to this Defense Tech article,  Bell has entered into a joint production agreement with Augusta and a polished version of the XV 15 is entering production as the Bell Augusta 609.

Here is video from the DT Article...with really crappy music.



More on the Bell Augusta 609 from no less an impartial source that the Bell/Augusta marketing department here.

Global Security has a page on the currently apocryphal HV609 here.


An admittedly cursory Google search turns up little beyond marketing. The history of the Coast Guard and the XV15 was related to me by an officer who had previously been an airdale and participated in the program.

I would hope that the CG could get a lot of these as they would seem to fit their mission requirements quite well, but the fact that the first deliveries are not scheduled until 2011 may be a deal breaker, the USCG needs aircraft NOW as its current fleet is hard pressed.

Still one can hope.


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June 17, 2007

What in the Hell?

ACE has an on running quiz feature focused on identifying relatively obscure firearms. This one has me utterly flummoxed.....


What in the hell?

A 16+shot double barreled revolver!? And how does one unload it? ThereThere is a little pin at the forward end of the cylinder, that hints at an extractor rod, but it doesn't  look like a break top or swing out cylinder. If it were a muzzle loader there should be a rammer or something.

One of the commenter's mentions a  Lefaucheux revolver, which it does bear a similarity to...but damn this is a weird one.

PeteAstro?

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June 13, 2007

Makin' Spray

The 'Seenotkreuzer' Herman Marwede of the German Sea Rescue Service plows through heavy seas in the Skaggerak during a training exercise.

Despite being only 45 meters long, the ship is claimed to be capable of maintaining 25 knots in sea state 5. 

The US Coast Guard is currently looking for patrol boats of about the same size, they could do far worse than fitting this one with uprated engines and a few guns.

An informative article on this vessel is here (German text).




Note the Babblefish translation keeps talking about "ship throwing" or "ship tossing" ....of course they mean 'launching'...this makes more sense but I was disappointed to realize that no trebuchet was involved.

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June 10, 2007

Astro's Rifle

Astro has been busy restoring a Kalishnikov.
here, here, here, here and here.

The Result:

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