Fairburn fortifications

The state gemstone of South Dakota is one of the most beautiful agates on Earth, with lovely banding patterns and (in the best specimens) bright red, orange and brown colours due to iron oxides. Named after the town nearest to where it occurs, it is a target for rockhounds across the country (see http://on.fb.me/16fsEEt). They were first discovered in the late 19th century, though native peoples had known of them since time immemorial.

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Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin)

The Hoatzin, also known as the Stinkbird, or Canje Pheasant, is a species of tropical bird found in swamps, riparian forest and mangrove of the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America. It is notable for having chicks that possess claws on two of their wing digits. The Hoatzin is pheasant-sized, with a total length of 65 centimetres (26 in). The Hoatzin eats the leaves and to a lesser degree fruits and flowers of the plants which grow in the marshy and riverine habitats where it lives. It clambers around clumsily among the branches, and being quite tame (though they become stressed by frequent visits), often allows close approach and is reluctant to flush. Because of aromatic compounds in the leaves they consume and the bacterial fermentation, the bird has a disagreeable, manure-like odor and is only hunted by humans for food in times of dire need.


The Many Lives Along the Yangtze River

In 2012, Mustafah Abdulaziz, a twenty-six-year-old originally from Bedford-Stuyvesant, who carried a medium-format Japanese film camera called the Mamiya 7, set out to take pictures of water. 

In many places, he focussed on issues of conservation and the health consequences of unclean water, but he also shot images of daily life and ritual along the Ganges and the Nile. Everywhere he went, he carried the Mamiya 7, two lenses, a backpack, and a maximum of ninety rolls of film. He reached the Yangtze River in the spring of 2015.

See more of Abdulaziz’s photographs of the Yangtze on newyorker.com


Colt Salvo Squeeze Bore

In 1961 Russell Robinson, designer of among other things the Robinson Model 11, patented a multiple projectile cartridge system to be used in conjunction with a ‘squeeze bore’. The Salvo Squeeze Bore concept (not to be confused with the US Army’s Project SALVO) sees the barrel taper towards the muzzle the theory being that this will separate the projectiles so each leaves the muzzle separately. The concept was developed as a force multiplier capable of vastly increasing an individual’s firepower. When tested in an M2 Browning with a cyclic rate of ~500 rpm this saw ~2,500 projectiles fired per minute. 

The patent wasn’t granted until 1969 during which time Robinson and Colt had developed the concept in a number of calibers including .50/.30 fired from the M2 Browning, 7.62/.220 and 9mm/.30. Additionally the concept was also tested using .45ACP and 5.56mm. The calibre designations reflect both the integrated dimension (.50) and the calibre of the individual projectiles (/.30). The projectiles were adhered together with a wax material and some were encased in early polymers to enable reliable feeding. All firearms firing the salvo ammunition had the front portion of the barrel removed and replaced with a smooth bore tapered section (see image #5).

Various SSB projectiles and plastic jackets (source)

The US military’s interest in the system saw it become part of Project Agile in the early 1960s where the Advanced Research Projects Agency oversaw the development. Project Agile’s aim was to coordinate research and engineering support for various projects which might aid military and paramilitary forces engaged in or threatened by conflict in remote areas of the world (i.e. Vietnam).

The aim of the .50/.30 squeeze bore project was to convert the M2 heavy machine gun (designated an anti-materiel weapon) and give it an anti-personnel role by increasing its firepower and beaten zone of fire. In order to convert the gun only a squeeze bore barrel and the SSB ammunition was needed. Early testing was accomplished by taking standard barrels and cutting them down and threading them for a 19inch long tapered smooth bore section. The work was carried out by Robinson’s own company Robinson Improved Conventional
This system was tested by the  the US Army Limited War Laboratory with preliminary reports describing the concept as sound with effective penetration out to 200 meters. However, problems with the wax bonding of the projectiles and concerns over fouling and barrel wear were raised. It was field tested aboard US Navy brown water patrol boats in Vietnam with the aim of suppressing targets in thick foliage along river banks.

Agile also oversaw a project developing a projectile described as ‘strip bullets’ which also acted as a force multiplier by increasing firepower in a shotgun-esque manner by using a this was also tested in weapons ranging from .30 to .50 calibre much like the SSB system. This system was described as: 

‘a number of short lengths of lead wire pressed into a die to form a core of conventional bullet size and shape and then clad with a thin copper foil. When the strip bullet is fired through a bore, the centrifugal force imparted by the rifling causes the strips to separate as they leave the barrel. This produces a shotgun effect and increases the hit probability.‘

However, by 1964 the strip bullet project had been abandoned as it required further development and other systems of improving the kill capability of small arms appeared to offer greater probability of success. 

In 1968, Colt released a technical report based on the US military testing of the .50/.30 M2 on river patrol craft (image #1 show the dual M2 mount used). Colt’s report also acted as a reply to the Limited War Laboratory ’s 1963 Test and Evaluation report which noted concerns about smoothbore barrel wear and lifespans. The Limited War Laboratory report had recommended that while promising the SSB ammunition used by the guns was not sufficiently reliable to be recommended for immediate field use. Colt’s 1968 report countered this claiming that improvements had been made to both the ammunition construction and the barrel design and profile, boasting that effective range had been increased from 200m to ~1,000m. The report also included details of penetration tests and projectile dispersion patterns.

Diagram from Colt’s 1968 technical report showing the various M2 barrel configurations available (source)

Colt claimed that two SSB barrels and 5,000 round of ammunition would cost approximately $10,000 - the argument being that this is less than the cost of a new weapon system. With production underway Colt believed that their .50 calibre SSB rounds could be produced for the same bulk cost of standard M2 .50 armour piercing ammunition. Despite this the US military appear to have lost interest in the concept sometime between the late 1960s and early 1970s. American involvement in the war in Vietnam began winding down during the early 1970s and it is probable that the need for the weapon system was waning. 

However, direct military interest in the concept survived until at least 1965 in the form of pistol-calibre experiments using a .45/9mm cartridge in tests at the Frankford Arsenal with an M3 submachine gun. These tests found that the SSB concept had promise but there were again concerns about barrel wear and fouling as the test ammunition’s projectiles were made from cast steel.

Above: 1969 patent drawing for the .50/30 calibre SSB round with 5 projectiles (source)
Below: .50/.30 Colt Salvo Squeeze Bore Cartridge (source)

The squeeze bore concept was also considered for use in a variant of Colt’s abortive Model 1971 which would have offered a double stack 9mm pistol with a 15-round magazine which when using Robinson’s triplex salvo ammunition (see image #3)would have increased the pistols firepower to 45 projectiles.

A technical report (on the Model 1971) from Colt in March 1971, describes how “the average person does not have the ability, especially under stress, to reliably obtain hits with a pistol except at the shortest ranges” and that the SSB ammunition simulated a shotgun effect which would increase hit probability while retaining the ballistic efficiency of pistol ammunition. While in theory more ballistically stable than say shotgun pellets the rounds do not have the same point of impact Colt’s testing using a rest mounted Uzi showed that at 50 feet the 9mm/.30 SSB rounds had an extreme spread of some 6.3 inches and a mean radius of 1.7 inches while at a much longer range (47 yards) the mean radius opens to 8.8 inches while the extreme spread increases greatly to 42 inches.

It appears that there was some Israeli interest and involvement with the SSB system as Israeli headstamped cases exist. Much like the Model 1971, the SSB project seems to have been quietly shelved making it an interesting side note in the evolution of ammunition.  


Image One Source

Image Two Source

Image Three Source

Image Four Source

Image Five Source

Colt Salvo Squeeze Bore (SSB) (source)

Colt’s Model 1971 Double Action Pistol, Technical Report #850-2112, March 1971

Calibre .50/.30 Salvo-Squeezebore for Riverine Warfare - Colt, 1968 (source)

Sidearm and Shotgun Ammunition for COIN & RAC (Project Agile) Report #BAT-171-24, Aug. 1965 (source)

Advanced Research Projects Agency, Project Agile, Semi-annual Report, July-December 1963, (source)

Advanced Research Projects Agency, Project Agile, Quarterly Report April-June 1963, (source)

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Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Far from home.

Sailors assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.7 pass Prince Khalifah Bin Salman Causeway in a riverine command boat during a training exercise. CTG-56.7 provides a multi-mission platform for the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility by focusing on maritime security operations, maritime infrastructure protection, and theater security cooperation efforts, in addition to offensive combat operations.

(U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michelle L. Turner, 6 JAN 2014.)

Auxiliary Personnel Lighter (APL-26)

The article that follows originally appeared in The Jackstaff News published in 1967. [Source]

Auxiliary Personnel Lighter (APL-26) is a Navy barge that has no engines, yet in the past year, she has traveled over 7,000 miles. A year ago APL-26 was in mothballs in Seattle, WA.

Last fall, APL-26, now a U.S. Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet asset, built in 1944, was modernized for service in Vietnam. Three days before Christmas 1966, she set sail under tow for Vung Tau. After a short stop in Subic Bay, APL-26 arrived in Vietnam on February 22, 1967.

Although APL-26 has no means of self-propulsion, she does have two boilers for steam and hot water, and evaporators for making over 24,000 gallons of drinking water daily. She has two generators for electricity and air condition. In addition, the barracks barge has a minor surgery ward and sick bay for patients.

In April, 1967 APL-26 went to work for the Navy’s Task Force 117, as a hotel for boat crews and Army infantry soldiers of the 9th Infantry Division (Riverine Infantry) of the Mobile Riverine Force.

Today stripped of her coat of Navy haze gray and covered in Army olive drab green, APL-26 is supporting one River Assault Division and Staff, two rifle companies and a headquarters company, and a Navy EOD team.

With the help of two tugs, YTB-784 and YTB-785, for whom the APL-26 serves as mother ship, she has moved up and down the rivers of the Mekong Delta and Rung Sat Special Zone with the other ships which make up the Mobile Riverine Force.

Other APLs are serving in Vietnam. Most are attached to bases where there is a need for a large berthing and messing facility. But APL-26 is the first Navy barracks barge to serve as a part of a major combat task force in Vietnam.

The APL-26 was affectionately know as the “Green Apple” by crewmembers. Commodore Wells managed to get APL-26 a whaleboat from a re-supply LST, which was painted green and immediately nicknamed the “Apple Seed.” YTB-784 and YTB-785 were probably the only two olive drab tugs in the U.S. Navy and did a fine yeoman’s job throughout the Mobile Riverine Force.


The Seven Sisters from where one blue creek flows into the Skeena River

In honour of today being the International Day for Biological Diversity, here’s a shot of a smaller creek meeting the Skeena River with the Seven Sisters in the background. The Skeena River is Canada’s second largest salmon producing river, and Lelu island and Flora Bank at its mouth are under direct threat from the proposed PNW LNG terminal. Flora bank is critical to the rearing and growth of juvenile salmon before they head out to sea. We need to look towards green energy, not so called “green” LNG that comes from fracking fields in Northeastern BC

Haley Crozier