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Archive for the ‘weapons’ Category

Modern artillery munitions

Posted by picard578 on April 16, 2017


Munitions are used for fulfilling the primary task of artillery, which is destruction or neutralization of enemy army, as well as enabling or supporting the ground maneuver by suppressing enemy defenses. First munitions were spherical stone projectiles, launched from ballistae and catapults. Identical projectiles were also used by first gunpowder artillery. Those were typically around 8 cm in diameter. French navy used basalt, which has higher density and hardness, to achieve increased hitting power; those projectiles could penetrate ship’s wooden sides at 200 meters. Stone projectiles were also used as incidendiary projectiles by coating them with lime, followed by resin. These were superseded by lead, which was easy to shape due to low melting point. In early 13th century (cca. 1221.), Chinese were using explosive ceramic projectiles, launched from catapult or a cannon. These were filled either with gunpowder, or a combination of gunpowder and metal shrapnel. In Europe, projectiles from bronze or iron were also used. These could be homogenous, or filled with gunpowder; earliest percussion fuzes – using flint to create the spark – appeared in 1650. Another type of shot was canister shot, which was used against combat for infantry at close range, and was particularly effective against linear formations of Middle and early New Ages. But when linear formations disappeared after American Civil War, canister shot was replaced by shrapnel, which utilizes time fuze and detonates in the air. During the 19th century, two main types of fuzes were used, time delay and impact fuzes. Time fuzes were combustion types, consisting of a burning fuse train, ignited upon firing. There were various designs, but all were only accurate to approximately the nearest 1/2 or 1/4 sec at best. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in technology, weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Radar in counter-battery role

Posted by picard578 on April 1, 2017

Artillery is dangerous because it is hard to find, hard to destroy, and has the ability to very quickly attack targets via indirect fire. Importance and difficulty of finding the enemy artillery was noticed early in World War I; French were the first to try to locate the enemy artillery, by locating the gun flash produced when firing. This was hard to do if the artillery was far away (reflections had to be used) and unreliable. This it was quickly replaced by sound detection techniques, which were also adapted by British and German militaries as well.

The basis of this technique is a row of 6-7 microphones in a 12 kilometre line. Since the sound spreads in the circles, microphones all detect the sound of a gun at different times, which allows calculating location of the origin of the sound. Original system was based on ordinary stopwatch and telephone cable or radio link, but it worked very well. Similar, but automated, system is in use today. Such system has major advantages in that it is low-cost and completely passive, making it very hard to find and destroy. However, it also has numerous disadvantages. Atmospheric state determination is crucial for its correct operation. The refractive index of air has to be found along the entire sound path, and wind affects system’s performance. Up until the appearance of GPS, setting up the system was also very difficult. Due to these and other issues, it is an inherently defensive technique, difficult to use in rapid movement (albeit it is possible to have two teams of “sounders” alternately set up the line ahead of each other). Read the rest of this entry »

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Bicycle at war

Posted by picard578 on February 21, 2017


First bicycles (“Penny-Farthings”) were tall and dangerous to ride due to propensity for causing inadvertent sommersaults. These bikes were first tested in war by the French, used by dispatch riders and scouts during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, while Prussians still relied on push cycles. This conflict destroyed the French bicycle industry, and further advancement was left to United Kingdom and United States. It was English inventor John Kemp Starley who developed the “safety bicycle” by applying the invention of drive chain. In 1870. Italians introduced bicycle to their bersaglieri troops. Trained to carry dispatches, they averaged 12 miles an hour across open country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Light combat vehicles with high-calibre weapons

Posted by picard578 on February 1, 2017

Requirement for wheeled armoured vehicles appeared between First and Second World Wars, and in 1930s Germany started serial production of such vehicles for its recon units. Widespread usage of wheeled armored vehicles only started after World War II. In 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, new generations of wheeled armored vehicles appear, responding to military requirements for increased mobility, protection and firepower. Still, wheeled armored vehicle development lags behind tracked AFV development due to their significantly inferior off-road mobility, inferior firepower and inferior protection due to lower carriage capability of configuration.

New lease of life wheeled vehicles were given as a result of an air-land battle doctrine, a response to 3:1 advantage in armored forces by the Eastern block. There are also requirements for infantry transport, quick strikes, anti-tank combat at low and medium range, anti-air defense, fire support etc. Light armoured vehicles are receiving large-calibre guns, anti-tank missiles and other heavy weapons, and are being integrated into combat units. Recon vehicles are adapted for frontline use in peacekeeping operations through improvements in firepower and armor, albeit at the cost of sacrificed mobility. Still, airborne forces typically lack sufficient protected firepower platform, especially since few to no militaries still operate light tanks that can be deployed via parachute. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons, Weapons Systems Analysis | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

The 2016 DOT&E Report on the F-35 – David Archibald

Posted by picard578 on January 14, 2017

The role of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation at the Pentagon is to ensure that US weapons programs continue on track and that the weapons do what they are supposed to. His report for the 2016 year can be found here. The interesting observations in the report, with respect to the F-35, are listed following: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , | 33 Comments »

Hollowpoint bullets

Posted by picard578 on January 11, 2017

Hollowpoint bullets have been a very controversial topic for nearly two decades now. They have often been the focal point of the anti-gun campaign, despite not being anything new. Hollowpoint ammunition has appeared near the end of the 19th century, a time from which also dates the common nickname – “dum-dum bullets”, which came from the town of Dum Dum in India (near Calcutta), where British produced ammunition for rifles in .303 caliber. (It should be noted that actual “dum-dum” bullets were not hollowpoints, but rather soft-nosed projectiles, with flat nose exposing the lead core through the lubaloy jacket). For various reasons, including international bans, hollowpoint ammunition never found widespread usage in the military. However, it became very popular for hunters and in self-defense. There is an interesting anecdote about Winston Churchill, who was an officer in the Boer War. In his Mauser C-96, Churchill carried self-made hollowpoint ammunition. Boers would have executed him for utilising such ammunition, but he managed to escape.

Hollowpoint bullet usage started to get more widespread after 1960., when Lee Juras developed hollowpoint bullets of small mass and high exit velocity. With that, he solved the issue of reliable expansion. As the reliability rose, so did the usage of hollowpoint bullets among both police and the civillians. Consequence of that was also increased interest of the media and general public in hollowpoint bullets, who quickly – and incorrectly – identified hollowpoint ammunition as a threat to the society. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Revolver or pistol

Posted by picard578 on January 1, 2017



For a hundred years now, there has been discussion between those who favour revolvers and those who favour pistols. While handguns have not been a major factor in wars to this date, psychological effect of possesing one should not be underestimated. In the last half a century, there have been no revolutionary developments in design and construction of either pistols or revolvers, so this thematic did not receive major attention.

Pistols can be non-automatic, where both reloading of the bullet and firing is done manually; half-automatic, where reloading is automatic but trigger has to be pulled for each firing; or fully automatic, where both reloading and the firing are done automatically as long as the trigger is kept pressed. Modern pistols are either half-automatic or fully automatic, with automatic pistols having the possibility of selecting either half-automatic or fully automatic operation. Some automatic pistols are equipped with gun-stocks in order to increase effective range of fire, from up to 50 to up to 200 meters. Read the rest of this entry »

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A-10 Thunderbolt survivability design

Posted by picard578 on December 11, 2016

When the A-10 was about to be introduced, USAF leadership used the exact same arguments to prevent that as they are using now in an effort to kill it. They saw merely a clunker that flew at 300 knots or less, an anachronistic dud unfit to operate on the modern battlefield where it was to kill Russian tanks. In fact, the A-10 would never had been introduced if the USAF was not engaged in the budgetary battle against the US Army. Army was about to introduce the new attack helicopter, the Cheyenne. Cheyenne was a compound helicopter, designed to overcome the inability of normal helicopters to achieve higher speeds when necessary, and its high price would see financial resources redirected away from the US Air Force and into the Army’s purse. USAF would have none of it, and it decided to finally take responsibility for the close air support mission it was supposed to do anyway, and so introduced the A-10. Technical requirements were outlined mainly by Pierre Sprey after talks with surviving US and German pilots who carried out close air support in World War II and the Vietnam war, while the overall effort was directed by the Colonel Avery Kay. More heavily armed, survivable and less expensive, A-10 easily killed off the Cheyenne, and the USAF never placed any orders beyond the first batch. In fact, the A-10 was the first and the last US fighter designed for close air support. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , | 29 Comments »

Ground soldiers’ view of the A-10

Posted by picard578 on December 1, 2016


Pentagon is going back and forth on its decision whether to retire the A-10 Warthog. This is due to various pressures, both internal and external. Military industry cares only about the money, and retiring the A-10 would bring huge profits to the defense contractors as the aircraft would have to be replaced – likely by several times more expensive F-35. Upper levels of the military itself are connected to the military industry with a system of revolving doors, and retired generals get highly paid jobs inside the military industry. This means that active generals are under extreme pressure to secure profitable contracts to large military corporations.

A-10 is an anthithesis of everything that technophilic industry and generals believe in. It is an embodiement of the World War II military adage, „Keep it simple, stupid“. Aircraft itself is basically a flying gun – literally, as the gun was designed first and then an aircraft was designed to carry it. It is also heavily armoured and highly maneuverable at low speeds and altitudes, and does not rely on either high speed or radar „stealth“ to keep it alive. As a result, it is a major embarassement to both the military industry and the US Air Force, both of which maintain that top-of-the-line technology is absolutely necessary for a useful weapon. It also looks ugly, unlike Mach 2 fast jets that seem perfect for PR photoshoots.

Because of this, USAF generals are very motivated to try and retire the A-10. They use half-truths, lies and promises to warp the public image of the aircraft. USAF states that fast jets such as the F-15, F-16 and F-35 can perform the close air support as well as the A-10, completely ignoring many doctrinal and technical difficulties they face: pilots that train for many missions, not just close air support, and do not understand situation on the ground; limited situational awareness when aircraft are at high altitude due to „soda-straw“ view of the sensors such as radar and FLIR; „smart“ munitions missing due to fins being bent at release, sensors or computers malfunctioning; bad weather forcing the aircraft to come within enemy weapons envelope, which fast jets cannot survive; inability to provide timely close air support due to fast jets being incapable of lotering above the troops or flying from dirt strips near the troops in contact. This betrays complete lack of interest in and understanding of the close air support mission, which is far more complex than merely dialling in the coordinates and requires a community dedicated to nothing but close air support to keep alive. More importantly, presence of a dedicated CAS aircraft forces the USAF leadership to keep the mission alive, instead of airmen who trained only for hitting strategic targets from fast jets being forced to come up with ad hoc solutions on the spot, and making mistakes – oftentimes deadly – in the process. But right now, USAF leadership is cutting maintenance to the A-10, in an attempt to artificially induce mechanical and other failures which would then be used as a „proof“ that the A-10 „has to be retired“ due to „old age“.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Dassault Rafale vs Saab Gripen

Posted by picard578 on October 1, 2016


Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen are both multirole fighter aircraft of canard-delta configuration produced in Europe. Rafale was designed to replace seven different aircraft previously in French service, while Gripen was designed for guerilla warfare against a superior enemy. This comparison will use Gripen C. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons, Weapons Systems Analysis | Tagged: , , , , | 45 Comments »