fighter command

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Hasbro Star Wars The Black series 6 inch 2017 line-up:

  • Grand Moff Tarkin (With Interogator Droid)
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn
  • Jaina Solo (Fans Choice Poll Winner)
  • Commander Gree (TRU Exclusive)
  • Battlefront II Tie Fighter Pilot (Gamestop Exclusive)
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn (SDCC Exclusive)
  • Luke with X-34 Landspeeder (SDCC Exclusive)
Just want to remind everyone that Wonder Woman is set in World War I

Some clues:
-Trench warfare with the Brits in Doughboy helmets
-Germans using horses
-All the fashions in London, including Steve’s starched, high collar
-Airplanes look like flimsy prop planes
-Talking about the Kaiser, not about the Führer
-The British generals all have ridiculous moustaches

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Black and white photos fail to do justice to the bright colors that pilots painted their planes in World War I. Here is just a small sample of documented German Albatross fighter biplanes. Unique markings and colors helped identify pilots to each other in an age before on-board radios. The fighter wing commanded by the Red Baron was so garishly colored that British pilots called it “the Flying Circus.”

Marina Raskova (1912-1943) was a Soviet pilot, navigator, and commander who founded 3 famous female air regiments during the Second World War.

Born to a middle-class Russian family, Raskova initially had aspirations of becoming a musician, but eventually abandoned the idea to study chemistry. While working in a dye factory as a chemist she met Sergei Raskov, an engineer, who she married and had a daughter with. She changed careers in 1931 when she joined the Aerodynamic Navigation Lab of the Soviet Air Force as a draftswoman. Aged 19 in 1933 she became the first female navigator in the Air Force and the following year became the first woman to teach at the Zhukovskii Air Academy.

In 1935 she divorced from her husband and focused on her flying career. She become a famous pilot as well as a navigator, setting a number of long distance records. This included the famous ‘Flight of the Rodina’ covering 6000km from Moscow to Komsomolsk, which she conducted with two other female pilots, Polina Osipenko and Valentina Grizodubova. However the flight ran into difficulties at the end of its 26 and a half hour journey when poor visibility hampered the landing. As the navigator’s pit was vulnerable in crash landings, Raskova bailed out with a parachute while the two pilots completed the landing.  She survived with no water and almost no food for 10 days before she found her way to landing site and reunited with her team. All 3 women were decorated with the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ award, the first women ever to receive it.

With the outbreak of World War 2 the Soviet Union was in need of pilots and many women volunteered. However while there were no formal restrictions on Soviet women in the military, many found their applications were denied or mysteriously delayed. Raskova proposed the creation of women’s aviation units and used her celebrity status to propose the idea directly to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Following a speech by Raskova in September 1941 calling for women pilots to be welcomed into the war, Stalin ordered the creation of 3 new air regiments, the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, dubbed The Night Witches. These regiments were entirely formed of women, from the pilots to the engineers to the support staff. Each regiment contained around 400 women, most of them in their early twenties, who completed 4 years’ worth of training in a matter of months.

Raskova personally took command of the 125th Bomber Regiment, for which she obtained the very best equipment available, including the state-of-the-art Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers, which caused some resentment from male units. The 125th regiment went on to fly 134 missions over the course of the war, dropping over 980 tons of bombs.

Raskova herself was killed on January 4th 1943, while attempting to lead two other Pe-2’s to a safe airfield. She was forced into making a forced landing on the Volga Bank, which resulted in the deaths of the entire bomber crew. Raskova received the first state funeral of the war and her ashes were buried in the Kremlin Wall beside those of fellow pilot, Polina Osipenko. She was posthumously awarded the Order of Patriotic War 1st Class and the regiments she created continued to serve for the duration of the war.

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The Zastava Model 98/48

During World War II Yugoslavia was the only nation that was able to oust the Nazi’s without outside help.  Perhaps the reason why were the millions of partisan fighters.  Marshal Tito alone commanded around 800,000 men.  After World War II, the newly formed Yugoslavian Army had the dilemma that they had no standardized weapons and equipment.  However, Yugoslavia had enormous stocks of German K98k Mauser bolt action rifles captured from the German Army.  In 1946, the Yugoslavian Government began a program to refurbish and re-arsenal these rifles.  Designated the Model 98/48, it was little different from a German K98k rifle.  Repairs were made, the stocks were refinished, and damaged parts were replaced.  All of the German markings were ground off and re-stamped with Yugoslav markings.  On the side of the receiver was stamped “PREDUZECE 44” which stands for the Zastava factory “Institute 44”. It is not uncommon for these rifles not to have matching serial numbers, as many were pieced together from spare parts. Other than markings, the only noticeable different between the M98/48 was a ringed or barrel banded front sight.

Conversions continued up to the 1950’s, but tapered off after 1948 when Yugoslavia adopted the Model 48, which was a domestically produced bolt action Mauser rifle based on the Belgian M24 series.  Most were sold as military surplus to the United States.

Preventer Water: Sally Po

It always makes me happy to see fan-works featuring Sally Po, so I thought I would break my 10-year (!!!) fanart hiatus and contribute my own (very) rough sketch. So here is my Sally with even rougher background details. I might get around to sorting it out and colouring it one day…

And because there needs to be more talk about Sally Po, I am also going to talk about her (a lot!)….

….I would go as far as to say she is my favourite character in GW.  But I’ve often heard it said that for a fictional character to be of interest, they have to have some sort of vice or internal conflict going on, which over time, they resolve in one way or another. Sally doesn’t really display any such melodrama and I would argue over the course of the series, she is one of the characters who alters the least. So why is she so compelling (at least to me)?

I think it exactly because she is NOT in a constant state of internal conflict. In a show so glutted with tortured souls, romanticised notions about war, peace, revenge, anger and confusion, sometimes, you just want someone to cut to the chase and be logical and pragmatic. That’s Sally. Her stance is that “Nobody wants to get involved in wars but those that can fight, should fight.” She sees wars as making playthings of peoples’ lives and fights for no other reason, in my eyes, than to spare the involvement of those who are unable to stand up for themselves. She seems to acknowledge war isn’t going away at that moment, so there’s no point denying it. But you can, at least, be a force for good within a situation you cannot immediately change. She is a breath of fresh air. Here is an individual with common sense and decency, someone you can more or less depend on to get things done and to do the right thing. Yes, Sally acknowledges herself that everyone has their “own sense of justice”, but sometimes, certain actions are just plain wrong and for the most part, she doesn’t waste time philosophising about it all. She inhabits many roles in the series and is multi-skilled; doctor, Alliance Major, resistance fighter, battleship commander and finally, Preventer, as well as having moments of being mentor and cheerleader. She can heal people, pilot certain mobile suits, fly aircraft, shoot all the guns. Oh and throw a pretty impressive punch. She has plenty of stuff to do- so no time for navel-gazing!

To be fair, you could argue her appearances in the show and additional material are much sparser than many of the other characters, and her roles spread so thinly, that she does not get much opportunity to go a little nuts or display any emotional vulnerabilities. There is nothing to really dislike about her and along with her range of abilities, does that make her a sort-of Mary-Sue, a convenient jack-of-all trades type with no real depth? I don’t think so. While not an obvious key player, I think her contributions are definitely meaningful and without them, the other cast members may have made different decisions and certain scenarios would have had disastrous (or at the very least, more disastrous) outcomes.

The first notable difference would have been that in AC194, the L5 colony, A0206, would have been obliterated by the Alliance General, Septem’s, evil scheme to dispose of the inhabitants using biological weapons. Wufei and his clan would have been a part of this massacre. Sally defies this order and somehow gets away with it. We see she has a moral compass and will not blindly follow orders if it will cause harm to innocents.

In Episode 3, her first appearance in the show, we see this again, as she balks at the idea of using harmful drugs on the young captive Heero. She seems to sense Heero is an important individual. Who wouldn’t, when he arrives at the hospital having survived, despite serious injuries (I wonder if the broken bones she mentions refer to sites of previous breakages?) and he was still alive and kicking after that epic fall? He made such an impression on her that during Operation Daybreak, Sally throws her trust onto him and begs him to disarm the missiles Lady Une was so intent on allowing to annihilate the base and the surrounding area, without even rescuing injured personnel. Tsk, Une!

Sally is a character who does not hesitate to get involved if she thinks there is a modicum of a chance for good to come of it. She even puts herself in immediate danger without a thought if she feels it is required. An example of this is her decision to defect and join the rebels in Former China (one a side-note, I suppose that Former China must be more multi-racial as there are many Caucasian looking people in the village scenes and Sally herself is blonde and blue eyed.). At the beginning of Episode 12, she can be seen retreating from an attack on a military base and once inside the getaway vehicle, her comrade asks her what is the matter and states he is sorry to have put her in so much danger on her first time home. Here, we see a brief glimpse of her being pensive but she brushes it aside and explains it was her decision.

Later in the episode, she witnesses soldiers attacking a restaurateur after he objects to them eating a meal and refusing to pay up. Instead of standing by and thinking of her own safety, Sally brazenly mouths off at them, openly disparaging of their presence in the region. Of course, she gets a beating for it, though she puts up an admirable fight. If Wufei hadn’t leapt onto the screen (where was he before this? Talk about last minute!) and intervened, who knows what would have happened? The soldiers would have probably got stabbed in the ass by the angry villagers’ pitchforks, at the very least. I would have liked to have seen that just for the comedy value.

Following this encounter, Sally has no problem admitting she is weak, when Wufei states she should not be fighting. She doesn’t appear to have any sort of ego issues. She is practical and accepts that when a person is weak, they need help and there is no shame in it. To her, strength lies in the conviction of a person’s heart (this makes me want to belt out that Michael Bolton song from Disney’s Hercules; “A hero’s strength is measured by his heaaaaaarrrrrtttt.”). She demonstrates the ultimate example of it by being willing to throw away her own life, walking unarmed towards an Aries suit, which takes aim at her (and curiously misses the shot!). Her only hope of survival is if the pilot continues to be a crap shot or if she can convince Wufei to step up to his responsibility to fight for the oppressed. Perhaps she might be spared in the process. And it works.  

Afterwards, she says: “The important thing is that my heart is in it (or strong).”  Wufei seems inspired by this. We even get a wee smile from the lad. Sally is good at inspiring others and seems to be able to reach people with her sincerity. Here is a woman who will go as far as to risk her own life for just the slight chance some good might come of it. She says this herself in the episode where she sneaks into an Oz base and tries to destroy Sandrock, coming face to face with the Maguanacs. She states; “I don’t care what happens to me.” And in turn, once they realise they are not enemies, her courage inspires the same in them. Auda states; “We need to be at least as brave as that lady just was.” (English dub). That is not to say Sally never makes blunders; in setting off the explosions on Sandrock, she almost killed the Maguanacs and herself and made the assumption that Quatre’s wishes, a pilot she had never met, would be identical to what Heero might favour. This was a pretty extreme thing to do based on an assumption, however it’s understandable that she would view Oz having possession of the Gundam as a negative thing.

Sally is also someone who, though she can work well alone, thrives on connecting with others. She has no shortage of mercenary and ex-Alliance contacts around the globe to help her achieve her various objectives, it seems, and says to Heero: “Fighting by yourself is so lonely.” In addition, she instantly bonds with Lucrezia Noin, each sensing the other is a friend, and later, Noin looks to Sally for motivation and reassurance on Peacemillion, feeling more deflated about the battle ahead than her (Sally has not found herself in love with a terrorist threat to Earth, which certainly helps). Sally, for her part, seems unwavering in her support of and belief in what the Gundam Pilots represent and expresses this. She sees allying with them as the only path that will prevent herself from going astray.  Her comment in Episode 29 about the words “righteous” or justice”, depending on the version, suiting the pilots (despite expressing her hesitance to use those terms) and her complete faith in them, could be viewed as slightly naïve. I mean, she has met only two G-boys at this point (and has only had a face-to-face conversation with Wufei), she can’t know them so well as to make such extreme statements (a bit like when she comments about Heero having changed from his “abrasive personality” – she hasn’t had a conversation with him, so how does she know his personality?). But perhaps, in it all, she is simply acknowledging there is little else coming morally close to the Gundam Pilots around at the time. I think they’re the best she’s got to hope in, so, being pragmatic, she does.  

Overall Sally is no sensible, shallow, boring know-all, and indeed sometimes she doesn’t know-all and relies on the help of others a great deal. I think her wit as well as her wisdom is another factor that contributes to her likability, as well as her pleasantly flirtatious manner. In a show that is largely serious in nature, it is refreshing to have moments of humour and Sally has the subtle, wry kind that does not come across as goofy. She even keeps her sharp wit when in a tight situation; “I might just tell a lie so that you’ll free me…” (to Noin). I am sure from that moment on, Noin, decided they would get on famously as allies. I love seeing them interact in Endless Waltz as the ultimate dream team.

Having said all that, I have to gripe a little about Sally’s portrayal. There is so much about her we don’t get to know. Her true age, for one. Some (much older) official sources say 19, some 22 and more recently, 27, so who really knows?  She has no backstory, aside from her cameo in Wufei’s Episode Zero. But that’s okay; that’s what fandom is for. And despite all of the above being true about her lack of personal drama, I do enjoy seeing more vulnerable sides to her in fandom portrayals because we all have our moments, right? Regrettably, it is harder to find Sally-focused material, so it is always a treat to come across some.

But one thing that is certainly not a treat; can we talk about her roles in Glory of Losers and Frozen Teardrop for a brief moment? The former, from what I have gleaned, cuts out some major Sally (see what I did there?) scenes, such as her time in China, presumably because it wasn’t deemed significant enough, which is a shame. In FT, I was hoping that, seeing as her ‘daughter’, Kathy Po appeared to be one of the protagonists, we might find out more about Sally. From the scant amount of translated material and discussion threads I’ve followed, I discovered that Sally makes bad coffee and her daughter, Kathy is not actually her biological child, but a clone of Sally’s assassinated mother, who was also creatively named Katherine. This just strikes me as weird. But I can live with weird if not for the fact that from what I have read of translated material, Sally is missing because she is dead. Yep, dead. DEAD!! Apparently killed on duty. Yes, you read that right, out of all the original characters in the series, the writer has to kill off Sally. Awesome Sally has to suffer a ‘by the way’, footnote type of death. I am still hoping someone will come along with a different translation and tell me it’s not true, that I can’t read and I have it all wrong (anyone??), but as of yet, I haven’t read any such thing to dispute this sad fact.

So, I guess those of us who would like a different ending for her can live in our little headcanon worlds, where Sally gets the recognition and appreciation she deserves. So if you have any such titbits to offer, please send them my way. Fics, art, thoughts, the lot. Thus ends this ranty ramble…I hope you like the pic!

*(Quotes may be slightly inaccurate due to my memory. But the gist is there. Any other inaccuracies are due to the wine consumption while I wrote this.)

OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) UPDATE

A U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II departs after receiving fuel from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, July 6, 2017. The A-10 employs a wide variety of conventional munitions in support of OIR and the destruction of ISIS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

Note: Pictured is an A-10C of the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Wing (Air Combat Command), Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, currently combat-deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Visible combat loadout:
Station 1: GBU-12 laser-guided bomb
Station 2: LAU-131 rocket pod, probably fully loaded with APKWS laser-guided rockets
Station 3: AGM-65 Maverick
Station 4: empty
Station 5: empty
Station 6: empty
Station 7: GBU-31 JDAM
Station 8: GBU-54 laser-guided JDAM
Station 9: GBU-12 laser-guided bomb
Station 10: AN/AAQ-28 LITENING AT targeting pod
Station 11: Two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on a Dual Rail Adapter (DRA)

Repost: Warthog News/Facebook
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After Empire Day

Here’s to the three who failed to represent the might of Lothal’s imperial presence! Minister Tua, Commandant Aresko and Baron Rudor.

Such disappointments.

Resistances and Dalliances

Chapter 10: Arcus Drift

“Let’s go over that again,” Saar said, reproachful eyes beginning to weary a little from all the questioning, but still far too full of determination to keep them sitting there till only bones remained. “What is your military strength?”

“We are not a military force,” Ryder repeated by rote. “We have the Nexus, which won’t move. We have arks. They do not have huge guns. We have the Tempest. Again, no big guns. It’s literally parked on your doorstep. There is nothing else we have that could even approach a military force strong enough to threaten the angara.”

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After

Summary: After the defeat of the Empire, the Rebellion fights to secure peace in the Galaxy. Luke’s away on yet another mission to flush out the remains of the loathsome Imperialists, and you eagerly await his return. When he does come back, you help him destress. 

Word Count: 2029

Warnings: SMUT. half-assary ahead, my friends. ye be warned. 

Notes: Hi, here! Have this hastily written Luke piece! I figured I needed to get something out, so I do hope you enjoy despite the quality! :) 

(Also: This takes place pretty much right after ROTJ.)

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