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Rest in peace, Zsa Zsa Gabor, who died today aged 99  (6 February 1917 - 18 December 2016)

She appeared in some excellent films - Moulin Rouge, Lili, Touch of Evil - though she was only a competent actress. I enjoyed her most in Queen of Outer Space (Edward Bernds, 1958) which allowed her to be her own delightfully demented self.

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RSC Fusil Semi-Automatique Mle1917

Designed by Ribeyrolles, Sutter, and Chauchat - made by the Manufacture d’Armes de Tulle in France c.1917~18.
8x51mmR Lebel five-round en-bloc clip, gas-operated semi-automatic, loaded from the bottom.

Made with several Lebel parts, the RSC Mle1917 was the first semi-automatic military rifle to be mass-issued and used during a major conflict, namely World War one. It was a far cry from the revolutionary designs of the French rifle trials of the early 20th century, but it was decently reliable and provided a lot more firepower than the old Lebel Mle1886.

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Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854–1931, England)

Paintings 2

Gotch was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter and illustrator. He studied art in London and Antwerp before he married and studied in Paris with his wife, Caroline, a fellow artist. Returning to Britain, they settled into the Newlyn art colony in Cornwall. He first made paintings of natural, pastoral settings before immersing himself in the romantic, Pre-Raphaelite romantic style for which he is best known. His daughter was often a model for the colourful depictions of young girls. His works have been exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal College of Art and the Paris Salon.

December 18, 2015

Today In History

‘Ossie Davis was born in Cogdell, GA, on this date December 18, 1917. The highly successful actor, author, producer, and director both wrote and starred in the Broadway hit Purlie Victorious. Davis has numerous roles on television and in film to his credit.’

(photo: Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis)

- CARTER Magazine

Germans Lay Mines off of South Africa

The Wolf, pictured later in her cruise.

January 18 1917, Cape Agulhas–The German commerce raider Wolf had successfully made it through the British blockade, passing through Norwegian waters and around the north coast of Iceland to break into the Atlantic in December.  By mid-January, she had steamed the whole length of the Atlantic without incident, arriving off of the coast of South Africa.  Here, off of Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, she laid 29 mines, eventually sinking 4 ships in this important shipping lane, and one which the Allies had thought was secure.  The mines themselves would not be completely swept until at least 1918.  The Wolf then proceeded into the Indian Ocean, where she would be the first armed German ship at sea since the scuttling of the Emden in November 1914 (the Königsberg having been holed up in the Rufiji River from October 1914 until her sinking in July 1915).

Today in 1916: Kaiser, Bulgarian Tsar Celebrate Triumph over Serbia 
Today in 1915:  Germans Retake Jassin in East Africa

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The Marlin Model 1917/1918 machine gun,

 In 1914 Marlin began producing the John Browning designed Colt Model 1895 machine gun, aka “The Potato Digger” for the French, Belgian, and Russian Army during World War I. It was called the "potato digger" because of the gas actuated arm which swung downwards.  When the United States entered the war, Marlin then produced the weapon for the US Army.

In 1917 a Marlin employee named Carl Swebilius redesigned the M1895, dispensing with the swinging arm and replacing it with a more conventional straight piston. While theoretically the new system was an great improvement over having a swinging arm jutting off from the end of the muzzle, in reality the new Marlin Model 1917/18 had a serious flaw, one that was missed due to rushed testing and production.  Replacement of the lever with the straight piston completely changed the timing and energy of the action, resulting in tearing of spent casings during extraction, leaving a piece of the casing jammed in the chamber.  Marlin claimed that the problem was due to the US Army using low quality ammunition.  However other Allied countries who purchased the machine gun had similar complaints.

As a result of the this flaw, the Marlin Model 1917/18 was relegated to use on aircraft, as the aircraft service was issued the highest quality ammunition with stronger casings than common infantry cartridges.  In its role as an aircraft machine gun, the M1917/18 served exceptionally well, especially because the machine gun could be easily tuned with an airplane’s interrupter gear, which prevented the gun from firing through the aircraft’s propeller blades. By the final months of the war, more than 50% of all Spad XIII fighter planes had their Vickers guns replaced with M1917/18’s.  Plans were drawn up to use the M1917/18 as a tank mounted machine gun, but the war ended before this could be put into effect.