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They May Not Have Known Each Other, But They Sure as Hell Chewed Some of the Same Dirt February 17, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, family, history, non squitur, silliness.
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My paternal grandparents met and married in Phillips County, Kansas in the 1920s.  They may have known each other well before that, but they married around 1930.  My grandfather’s surname was obviously Roach.  My grandmother’s was Pennington.  God rest both their souls.

150 years earlier, Francis Roach was a very early settler of Kentucky.  He arrived there perhaps 4 years after Daniel Boone led the first permanent party of white settlers across the Cumberland Gap in 1775 (an earlier attempt in 1773 had to be abandoned due to attacks by indians).  Francis served in the Revolutionary War under General George Rogers Clark.  A little bio on Francis:

Personal Information:
Born:  April 1739 in Fairfax Co., VA
Family: He was married.
Death:  9 Jul 1845 at his son David’s house at Lamb’s Point (Worden) [106 years old!]Military Record:  He enlisted in 1779 and again in 1780 when he served with Capt.Dougherty on the frontier. He went with his captain in the service of his country under the command of General George Rogers Clark in 1782, and in 1786 he fought the Indians under the command of General     Benjamin Logan. During the campaigns into the Indian country in the present state of Ohio, in one he helped cut up and destroy their corn at “Old Chillicothe of the Little Miami”. Mr. Roach had drawn a pension of $24.67 a year since 1832 (he was 93 when he applied).

Burial:  Hamel Tp.

Narrative:  Being an orphan boy, he was bound to a master, who removed with him to North Carolina in early life, where he married. In 1779 he emigrated to Kentucky, where he spent the first six years in a fort at Dougherty’s Station, near Danville in Mercer Co.; and after residing in several other parts of that state (he is on the 1799 tax list for Christian Co., KY – 299 acres), moved to Madison Co., Il living there till his death.

Francis was a man below the middling stature, of a swarthy complexion, gray eyes, and of active bodily faculties, which he retained to a remarkable degree till his last illness – was naturally of a cheerful disposition, rather weakly the first thirty-one years, which probably taught him how to be prudent in managing his health, having enjoyed, uniformly, (with the exception of two or three attacks of fever and ague) good health during that period. He was always an early riser – a day rarely dawned before he was out of bed – winter and summer.  [Well he certainly didn’t pass that trait on to me]

Mr. Roach was always a temperate man, using ardent spirits only in the shape of “morning bitters”, as was the custom of the day – ate meat generally at every meal – never liked or drank coffee [so that’s where it get it from!], but tea occasionally for the last ten years, and totally disused ardent spirits for the same period. He became a professor of religion, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in the year 1787, in which he remained a devout member the balance of his life. [as were at least some of his descendants 200 years later]

After he was 100 years old, his eyesight became so dim that he could with difficulty discern one person from another – being guided more by their voice than otherwise. He never had the benefit of an education, and consequently had not much need for spectacles.

Mr. Roach was a hatter by trade, but most of his labor was spent on the farm, which never ceased as long as his eyesight served him. He was seen cutting corn stalks in the field with a hoe after he became a centenarian.

francis-roach

Daniel Boone had a sister named Hannah.  Hannah married another Revolutionary War soldier named Richard Pennington.  They, like Francis, moved from North Carolina to Kentucky in the late 1770s.  In fact, Hannah and Richard belonged to the first worship house set up in Kentucky, the Mulkey Meeting House, the later version of which still stands to this day, and outside of which Hannah’s earthly remains lie.

hannah-boone-pennington

mulkmhs1a

While these families crossed the Cumberland Gap almost contemporaneously and lived in relatively close proximity for some times, they rapidly scattered within a few years. The Roaches in particular seemed to have a serious case of wanderlust, picking up and moving every 20 years or so.  And not just across town, but to entirely different states, when to do so involved great danger and a journey of weeks or months. After Kentucky they went to Illinois, then Iowa, and finally Kansas.  Why those good Southerners went to Yankee land I have no idea………well, actually I do, they were not big on fighting for the right of a handful of very rich and decadent men to own slaves.  In fact all my forebears who fought in the Civil War – and there were quite a few – fought for the North.  I’d have to check, but every single one of them may have.

I don’t know if my dad has ever established that the Roaches and Penningtons knew each other at this early date, but given that there were probably not 500 whites in all of Kentucky at this early date it’s possible. It has been established via genealogy that these are the same Roaches and Penningtons. Amazing that descendants of these families would, 3 or 4 generations later, wind up marrying.  In the words of Gunny Highway, they may not have known each other, but they sure as hell chewed some of the same dirt.

So, yes, I am also distantly related to Daniel Boone.

Flightline Friday: F-35 Debuts at Red Flag February 3, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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Red Flag – the world’s premier and most realistic air combat exercise – 17-1 began last week at Nellis AFB, NV.  As usual, participants are many and varied – F-22s from the 1st FW at Langley AFB, VA, B-1s from the 28th Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth AFB, SD, and marking their operational debut, F-35s from the 414th Combat Crew Training Squadron (CCTS), 388th TFW, Hill AFB, UT.

Everyone knows, it’s been a long slog for the F-35.  I have certainly never been a big supporter of this badly compromised design.  From a standpoint of aerodynamic performance, it will always be a very middling performer.  Crippled by the Marine requirement for STOVL capabilities, it will be badly hamstrung in the visual air-to-air arena.  In addition – and also because of the Marine requirement – it’s internal storage volume, required to maintain low-observability – is also badly limited.  It can only carry two air to air missiles internally when engaged in the high-end fight.  This wouldn’t have been a big deal, had Obama and Gates (who also destroyed the Boy Scouts), not crippled US air superiority by capping F-22 production at 187 aircraft.  The F-22 has turned out to be all that was promised and more in the air-to-air arena, but there simply are not enough of them. As such, should disaster happen, like a war against a near-peer competitor in China or Russia (God forbid this should happen), the US would be badly  underequipped in the air supremacy regime and F-35s would likely be pressed into the fight be default.  This is not something it was designed to do.

Having said that, however, in the air-to-ground role for which it was primarily designed, the F-35 is finally starting to come along.  The sensors and sensor fusion of the type are simply amazing.  Once the real meaty software comes out later this year – Block 3F – the type will have extremely impressive capabilities in finding, fixing, sharing, and prosecuting all manner of ground targets. In addition, the aircraft will have very advanced means to avoid both ground-based and airborne threats, all projected instantaneously on the pilot’s all-important helmet visor., with the threats appearing as 3-D volumes to be avoided. Thus far, capabilities are limited but all reports are that the F-35 will take visual spectrum, infrared, ultraviolet, and radio-frequency sensors, and the fusion of all the above, to the next level.

Whether all this will be enough to overcome its fundamental aerodynamic limitations, the shortfalls in other areas of US airpower, and to deal with the rising Chinese threat remains to be seen.  Whether it is worth the (falling but still) astronomical cost is infinitely debatable.  But, unfortunately, due to policy decisions of three different presidential administrations, it is now the only game in town (whereas, had the F-22 been kept in production, as it should have been, the types could have been competitively evaluated and the best – the F-22 – chosen) and it would be 10-15 years, minimum, to field a replacement.  If it turns out to be a turkey, we’ll be stuck with it.  Cancellation really isn’t an option at this point, the Marines and Air Force are nearly utterly dependent on this type.

More than likely, what will happen is that US crews will make it work, and work well, warts and all.  It’s just what they do.  And hopefully sanity will prevail and the F-35 won’t ever have to come up against a serious competitor.

Now for airplane video pr0n.  Check out how much the F-35 resembles the F-22 on approach:

I don’t know what the Air Force was thinking with these new velvetine looking crew sweaters.  They look awful.

Taking off.  That 43,000 lbst engine makes terrific noise:\

As I said, Red Flag brings a wide variety of participants. There are Navy and Marine F-18s and EF-18s and British Typhoons from a squadron I am hoping someone will identify. Video courtesy 99th ABW PAO:

See what I mean by those velvetine sweaters?   WTH?  As if people in other branches didn’t make fun of Air Force softness enough, now they have to look like a stuffed animal?

And now for something a bit different – an awesome 360 degree video from inside the cockpit of the Boeing T-X entry’s first flight.  External view in the second video.  I wish it had come out with more F-23 in it as originally planned.  Looks more like a shrunken Super Hornet.

I like Boeing for the win in this large program.  The only real competition left is Lockheed since Raytheon has already bailed and it seems Northrop Grumman isn’t real serious about it.  Lockheed’s only advantage might be price, but will a Trump administration buy hundreds of new jets largely fabricated in Korea?  Doubt it.

That’s it.  Enjoy your much belated Flightline Friday.

Thanks to Reader TT for the Kind Gifts February 1, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, fun, non squitur, reading, thanksgiving.
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I wanted to give a special shout to reader TT who went through some shipping hassle to send me a very nice gift of all five volumes of The Catechism in Examples off my Amazon wishlist.  That was really generous and unexpected.   Thanks, TT!

I’ve also received some other items from folks who wish to remain anonymous.  I thank you all for everything you have taken the time to send.  My hope is to draw fruitful material from whatever I am sent off the wishlist and share it with readers in posts.  It may take me some time to get around to a particular book, but I will eventually get to it.

It means a great deal to me that people think enough of my prattlings to go to the time and expense to buy me a little something (or a big something).  I do appreciate it!

 

A little self-congratulation – my decade-plus Cowboys prediction remains intact January 18, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, asshatery, disaster, error, foolishness, It's all about the $$$, non squitur, silliness, Society.
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A brief descent into a non sequitur topic.

At least a decade ago, surveying the carnage Jerry Jones had wrought on my beloved, formerly high-class Dallas Cowboys organization, I made a prediction – so long as he owned the team, the Cowboys would never make another Super Bowl appearance, let alone win one.  I have been part of the anti-Cowboys faction since Jerry fired Jimmy and hired Switzer back in ’93.  That single decision almost certainly cost the franchise at least one Super Bowl win, if not two, and led directly to over a decade in the cellar.  Jerry’s principle sin is pride, he continues to assert that he is a “football guy” and knows talent as well as anyone.  The past 20 years-plus have proven that he’s wrong.

Nevertheless, in spite of being on the outs with the club for a very long time, I did get kind of sucked in this year with the charming stories surrounding Zeke Elliot and Dak Prescott.  But I should have known better.  So long as Jerry remains owner and GM, the Cowboys will be an also-ran.  One playoff win in the past 21 seasons.  Way to go champ!

I’ll never doubt again.

1184956640-jerry_2bjones_2bdemotivational_2bposter

jerry-jones-upset

And it’s not being a fair-weather fan.  It’s having a fundamental hostility to a man who has taken a blowtorch to one of the classiest, best-run, most storied franchises in NFL history, and often behaved as a classless boor in the process.

On the plus side, I am convinced UT made the right move in firing Charlie Strong and bringing in Tom Hermann.  I think he’s going to be an ace.  I wouldn’t doubt if they go +5 or 6 next year compared to last.

Sexular Pagan Millennials Summed Up in One Video December 6, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, disaster, foolishness, huh?, non squitur, rank stupidity, Revolution, sickness, silliness, Society.
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Eternal neediness masquerading as virtue?  Check.

Complete lack of perspective?  Check.

Cultish obedience to political correctness?  Check.

Utter lack of self-awareness?  Check.

Inversion of selfishness with concern for others?  Check.

Conformist expression of ostensible non-conformity (see the hair)?  Check.

Via funny man Ross Patterson, a generation defined.  A girl triggered by lack of availability of McRibs:

I’m being somewhat tongue in cheek with this one.  There have always been boneheads and souls who turn minor annoyances into major crises.  And, this generation’s extreme addiction to the internet has put all their foibles on full display, which is actually part of the problem.  Put down your stupid phones for a few minutes and pick up a book or actually have a conversation with someone!

They’re just too easy a punching bag right now.  With all the insanity in what passes for the academy these days and general hysteria over the first electoral defeat they’ve ever been bothered by as adults (they’ve suffered others, but couldn’t be bothered to pay attention, which is the case with a majority of Americans these days), this generation has been covering itself with dung at an astounding rate.

I know I there are good people of this born 1980-2000 generation out there.  I’ve met some.  Some I know quite well.  But they are either a distinct minority in reality or are simply outshone by their outlandish counterparts.

And now they are already hyping the “after-millennials,” so-called “Generation Z” (have these bonehead marketing and sociologist types not considered what catchy phrase they’ll have to come up with next, since they’ve exhausted the alphabet)?  Are people really defined, substantially, by shared generational experiences, or isn’t individual upbringing, schooling, and socialization much more important?  Put another way, aren’t all these generational labels really primarily directed at, and descriptive of, middle to upper class suburban kids?  Does a kid growing up in the Atlanta projects fit much into what Madison Avenue describes as Generation Z?

Non Sequitur But Awesome: Massive New Oil Discoveries in Texas November 17, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, fun, It's all about the $$$, non squitur, shocking, Society, technology, Victory.
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Two massive new oil discoveries in West Texas, to the tune of nearly 30 billion barrels, have now increased Texas’ likely recoverable reserves to around 100 billion barrels, putting the state in the same ballpark of recoverable reserves as such petrochemical giants as Iraq and the UAE.  Massive recoverable deposits in shale beneath the already heavily produced Permian Basin are coupled with a new find in an area long considered unsuitable for oil fields, the Davis Mountains region of far West Texas.  That’s great news for a part of the state that has long been economically depressed and very sparsely populated.

Anyhoo, good news for the oil patch, which always has a spillover effect on the entire economy of the state.  There will be  – God willing – a lot of very good paying jobs and careers opened up by this, for the people most ignored and left behind in our free trade manufacturingless economy; blue collar whites, the same people largely responsible for electing Trump:

The US Geological Survey said Tuesday that it assessed what could be the largest deposit of untapped oil ever discovered in America.

An estimated average of 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are available for the taking in the Wolfcamp shale, which is in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin. [But reserve growth may see this find exceed 20 billion barrels by a large margin, if it is economically recoverable]

Based on a West Texas Intermediate crude oil price of $45 per barrel, those deposits are worth about $900 billion.

US oil exploration companies have flocked to the superrich Permian Basin in recent years and used shale-drilling technology to create an oil boom that simultaneously helped trigger a price crash two years ago. The count of active oil rigs fell with prices, but has risen over the past few months, mostly in the Permian. Bloomberg noted that the Wolfcamp, where this deposit was found, has been one of the primary targets of shale drillers.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, said in a statement.

The other find, from last September:

The Houston oil exploration company Apache has made one of the biggest U.S. oil and gas discoveries in years, finding the equivalent of more than 15 billion barrels of oil in a relatively unknown quadrant of West Texas’s Permian Basin, the company said Wednesday………

………..Apache said it’s new field holds more than 3 billion barrels of oil – nearly the equivalent of an entire year of U.S. crude production – and 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the company’s biggest U.S. discovery ever and one of its most important worldwide. The field, which sits in the western subsection of the Permian known as the Delaware Basin, surpasses Apache’s gas finds in British Columbia of more than 50 trillion cubic feet in 2012 and of about2 trillion cubic feet in Egypt’s Qasr field in 2003.

920x1240

Man, that is literally middle of nowhere, Texas.  Between Fort Stockton and Van Horn is one of the most sparsely populated regions of the entire lower 48.

This is also potentially extremely good news for US energy independence.  While we presently import very little oil and gas from the Mideast, we do import quite a bit from other sources.  That’s a huge outflow of money, and always a potential security risk.  Fortunately, our number one oil provider, Canada, rarely gets frisky.

A nice, long, 30 year oil boom would surely be a wonderful thing for lots and lots of people.  At least with Obama leaving office and no Shillary we won’t have to worry much about an EPA-induced termination of fracking, which is behind all these discoveries.

The Most Famous Communique in US Naval History? The World Wonders November 3, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, Victory.
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TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM CINCPAC ACTION COM THIRD FLEET INFO COMINCH CTF SEVENTY-SEVEN X WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR RR THE WORLD WONDERS

Converting to a bit more plain English:

TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM COMMANDER IN CHIEF PACIFIC FLEET ACTION COMMANDER THIRD FLEET INFORM COMMANDER COMBINED TASK FORCE 77 WHERE IS REPEAT WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34 RR THE WORLD WONDERS

Halsey took it as the biggest sleight of his already controversial career.  The multi-part Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle in history, by any measure.  It was fought over hundreds of thousands of square miles.  It leyte_map_annotatedinvolved thousands of ships and hundreds of thousands of sailors from the US and Imperial Japanese Navies.  Kido Butai, the awesomely capable, experienced, and technically innovative Japanese carrier strike force had been broken.  The carriers Halsey went chasing after hundreds of miles to the north of Leyte Gulf off Cape Engano  had virtually no aircraft and even fewer pilots.  He had left the hundreds of assault ships and landing craft in the Leyte Gulf anchorage dangerously exposed.  When Kurita’s Center Force came steaming down the San Bernadino Strait into the very thin covering force of Task Group 77.43 under command of Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague, it looked as if the dream of every frustrated big gun enthusiast in every navy in the world was about to be realized – finally, absent fleet carriers and their steel harpies armed with armor piercing anti-ship bombs and torpedoes, would the big guns of battleships and cruisers be turned against the painfully thin steel hulls of escort carriers and, even more, assault landing ships.

By this point in the war, Halsey’s Third Fleet, and especially Task Force 38 (VADM Marc A. “Pete” Mitscher), the

Just a TINY part of 7th Fleet at anchorage, Ulithi Atoll, late 1944

Just a TINY part of 7th Fleet at anchorage, Ulithi Atoll, late 1944

Fast Carrier Strike Force, was the most powerful naval unit the world had ever seen.  Comprised of 9 fleet carriers and 8 light fleet carriers, the task force embarked over 1100 (!!) combat aircraft and the best trained, most experienced naval aviators in the world.  In addition, the task force was screened by 6 fast battleships and nearly two dozen light and heavy cruisers and literally scores of destroyers.  The “northern force” of the Japanese, intended to serve as a decoy to Halsey’s massive task force, was pathetic by comparison.  While it did lure Halsey north to try to accomplish the final extinction of Japanese naval aviation power in the Pacific (an objective already achieved the previous June in the Battle of the Philippine Sea), it comprised only one fleet carrier and three light carriers.  Nevertheless, Halsey chose to steam north at high speed with his entire massive force, leaving the landing beaches

"Murderer's Row," Ulithi Atoll, SEVEN fleet carriers of TF38 at anchor

“Murderer’s Row,” Ulithi Atoll, SEVEN fleet carriers of TF38 at anchor

and assault ships off Leyte and Samar protected by a screen of pre-WWII slow battleships to the south (who got revenge for their sufferings at Pearl Harbor by sinking two battleships on the night of Oct 24/5 in the Battle of the Surigao Strait) and the escort carriers and small destroyers of Task Group 77.4 to the north.  It was from the north that the main Japanese threat would come.

By this day, October 25, 1944, the Japanese Center Force under Admiral Takeo Kurita had already had a long battle.  Starting two days before, his powerful force consisting of 5 battleships (including the two largest battleships ever built, Yamato and Musashi) had been under constant attack. His command ship had been sunk out from under him with the torpedoing and sinking of the heavy cruiser Maya by the submarine Dace. The next day, the super-battleship Musashi was sunk under the weight of at least TWENTY torpedo hits, SEVENTEEN bomb hits, and eighteen near misses.  Kurita’s force turned around and looked to be headed for home, but not for long.

Takeo Kurita

Takeo Kurita

Early in the morning of October 25, Kurita’s force, which had resumed its original heading hours before, was spotted by terrified lookouts aboard the ships of “Taffy 3,” the part of Task Group 77.43 on the northern end of US forces covering the Samar and Leyte beachheads. As they saw the instantly identifiable “pagoda” masts of the Japanese battlewagons, they realized that not only was their goose just about cooked, but the entire Pacific War could take a radically different direction.

None of the American vessels carried anything larger than a 5″ gun, whereas the Japanese had everything up to 18.1″ weapons. Furthermore, the top speed of the American CVEs was appreciably lower than that of even the Japanese battlewagons. All in all, things did not look promising for Old Glory.

Texan Nimitz straightening Yankee Halsey out

Texan Nimitz straightening Yankee Halsey out

Fortunately, the Americans were aided by two factors. First, they did have airplanes on those jeep carriers, albeit airplanes without much in the way of anti-ship ordnance other than torpedos. By 0615, the Americans had launched several hundred aircraft, who proceeded to do everything short of throwing stones to harass the Japanese attackers. Second, the screening DDs and DEs for Taffy 3 were maniacally brave. In one of the great feats of sheer guts in naval history, seven American DDs and DEs charged the entire Japanese squadron, which outgunned them so utterly it beggars the imagination.

Throughout this battle, which raged for most of the day, first the commander of Taffy 3, Clifton Sprague, then his boss over Task Group 77.4, and finally 7th Fleet Commander Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, had been screaming for help.  The messages eventually devolved into plain voice, uncoded HF broadcasts that were picked up by Pearl Harbor.  Admiral Nimitz, quite rightly a bit perplexed, wanted to know where in the heck the battleships of Third Fleet – the fast battleships, the modern ones, the ones commanded by that great old sea dog Willis Augustus Lee, commander Task Force 34, the ones that could easily stand with the Japanese and fight – were at.  So, Nimitz sent a message to Halsey asking:

WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34

And that it all.  The “turkey trots to water” and, especially, “the world wonders” were just filler, things added to

WA "Ching" Lee

WA “Ching” Lee

throw off potential Japanese code breakers.  This should have been made abundantly clear by the two consonants joined together, “GG” and “RR,” but the decoder on Halsey’s flagship – Battleship New Jersey – was the only one in the entire fleet to decode it fallaciously, leaving “the world wonders” attached to the message.  Halsey thought Nimitz was deliberately insulting him, and basically went ballistic and then sulked in his stateroom for about an hour, before finally detaching TF34 under Lee to try to intercept the Japanese dreadnoughts, which by that time were already retiring with a severely bloody nose.

The Battle off Samar, as the fight between Kurita’s Center Force and Taffy 3 was called, ended, miraculously, in American victory.  As noted above, the 3 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts (primarily designed for ASW work, and even more lightly armed that regular destroyers) fought maniacally, actually severely damaging at least one cruiser among several other ships. The cost to the Americans was actually slight, considering the scale of forces ranged against them:  one CVE sunk, and three damaged, two DDs sunk, and 1 DE sunk, with several of the escorts also damaged.  When the destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts was sunk, the Japanese saluted her.  That’s how well she fought.  That, combined with incessant air attacks and harassment from about 450 escort-carrier based planes helped convince the already rattled Kurita that he was facing not a small covering force but the main American carrier strike group.  He expected battlewagons like the Iowa and New Jersey to fall on his already

USS Samuel B. Roberts

USS Samuel B. Roberts

severely scattered and disrupted force any moment. So even though he was sacked after returning to Japan somewhat in disgrace for his failure to disrupt the landing forces, many historians have found his lack of vigor somewhat understandable.  In the end, however, what Kurita feared did happen, as Halsey also directed airstrikes from TF38 to pummel the Japanese stragglers, resulting in the sinking of 3 heavy cruisers and with three more being badly damaged.

As for Halsey, the judgment of history has often been harsh, not only for his conduct at Leyte Gulf, when he rather needlessly failed to split off TF34 to cover the northern approaches to the landing beaches as Nimitz had expected, but also for his later actions such as losing multiple ships while driving his fleet through a typhoon.  But Halsey had

BB-57 South Dakota with either Iowa or New Jersey behind, Ulithi Atoll

BB-57 South Dakota with either Iowa or New Jersey behind, Ulithi Atoll

always believed in concentration of forces, and didn’t know quite what to expect from the Japanese carrier force to the north.  Lee’s battleship screen had been instrumental in preventing Japanese carrier-based aircraft from even reaching the US carriers during the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.  He probably felt he would have need of the awesome firepower of the massed 5″ and 40 mm guns of the battlewagons.  That it turned out he did not is something only those with hindsight can really scold him with.

Later on the 25th, the error the decoder had made was revealed to Halsey, indicating that Nimitz was just plainly asking where the battleships were, and not giving him a verbal smackdown in front of the entire fleet.  Still, relations were apparently a bit awkward between Nimitz and Halsey

through the end of the war.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf makes for awesome study.  Submarine attacks, massive air battles, the introduction of the kamikaze, nighttime battleship vs. battleship battles, one of the most lopsided surface battles in history (where the underdog won!) among much, much more.

The great naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison probably summed up the Battle Off Samar the best:

In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.

Third Fleet returns to Ulithi; CVL-27 Langley leads CV-14 Ticonderoga, BB-56 USS Washington and BB-55 USS North Carolina with several cruisers

Third Fleet returns to Ulithi; CVL-27 Langley leads CV-14 Ticonderoga, BB-56 USS Washington and BB-55 USS North Carolina with several cruisers

Fifth Fleet at anchor, Majuro Atoll, Dec. 1944.  Pictured are 5 CVs, 3 CVLs, and at least 3 BBs -  less than half the fleet's strength at the time.  Note, 3rd and 5th fleets contained the same ships but changed name when command transitioned from Halsey to Spruance.

Fifth Fleet at anchor, Majuro Atoll, Dec. 1944. Pictured are 5 CVs, 3 CVLs, and at least 3 BBs – less than half the fleet’s strength at the time. Note, 3rd and 5th fleets contained the same ships but changed name when command transitioned from Halsey to Spruance.

Late n’ Rare Flightline Friday: The World’s Worst Carrier, Kuznetsov October 24, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, asshatery, disaster, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, non squitur, pr stunts, silliness, Society, technology.
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A lot of folks apparently got excited last week when, for the 7th time in its nearly 30 year history the broken down, way too small, horribly designed (and only) Russian carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov put to sea to ostensibly conduct combat operations off of Syria.  If the carrier makes it to the Eastern Med – which is by no means certain, given its deplorable history – Kuznetsov will take party in combat operations for the first time with its tiny fixed wing fleet of 16 Su-33 aircraft.

But first she (or, as the Russians say, he) has to get there.  And that’s been the problem in the past.  Even when Kuznetsov made it to Eastern Med, she was generally in too poor condition to actually do anything remotely military.  Her freshwater condensers constantly crap out, meaning they can’t run the turbines, meaning the ship has to be towed back to port.  Why else do you think the Russians never let Kuznetsov put to sea without the world’s largest tug as escort?  Does the US Navy do this, with their carriers?  The Japanese?  Italians?  Spanish? Even the Brazilians? No, no they do not.

Kuznetsov was a product of two disastrous characteristics: inexperienced, frankly incompetent design, and late-Soviet-era build standards.  Coupled together, and you have one of the most poorly designed and built ships ever to slide down the ways.  Her horrific design and shoddy workmanship are legendary.  The phased array antennas on the island? – they’re concrete ballast, as the real radar was never made functional.  The plumbing is worthlessly rusted out in half or more of the ship.  Basically half of the ship is unlivable.  The ship is only marginally large enough to handle the huge Su-33 tactical aircraft, and can only carry a handful of them, really barely enough to protect the carrier (if that), let alone project power anywhere. And her power plant…….a large steam unit……….has always been her most pronounced weak point.

It appears to have gotten even worse.  While passing through the English Channel, Kuznetsov belched forth such hideous, thick plumes of smoke from her oil fired engines that I seriously doubt she could conduct flight operations under such conditions.  See, carriers, when they do flight ops, always turn into the wind.  Pilots trying to land on Kuznetsov would be rendered almost totally blind by these clouds of incredibly dense smoke emanating from the ship and flowing straight into their approach path to land.  And this was while cruising at a leisurely 7-8 knots, not the 25+ generally required for flight operations.  I would wager she can’t come close to that speed with engines in such dire shape*.  If she can, her pilots will probably be splattered all over the round down trying to land.

Wow.  They are either using incredibly dirty, unrefined oil, or those engines have unbelievable problems.  Likely a bit of both.

This is not made up stuff.  How to deal with carrier smokestack emissions prior to the advent of gas turbines and nukes was a huge issue. That’s one reason US carriers wound up with their islands so far back, which generally prevented the gasses from spreading so much they seriously affected visibility.  On earlier Essex class carriers, with islands roughly midship, this was much more of a problem.  The Japanese, on their WWII carriers, actually vented the boiler gasses downward, below the level of the flight deck, to try to deal with this.

Of course, US and allied pilots go through the training hell of learning to make night traps using only mirror, ball, and the screams of the LSO.  Those landings are dang near blind, so it was generally less of a problem for US naval aviators even when we still had oil-fired carriers (which, we don’t.  The last were retired nearly 10 years ago).

So don’t get too worked up over Putin’s latest bluster.  This one is much more show than go.  That’s all any combat operations conducted from Kuznetsov will be, if there are any – show.  And it will be another hellish cruise for her crew, which despises the ship to the extent they mutinied a short while back.  This is a ship that has spent over 95% of her 30 year career tied up pierside or in drydock.  She’s a floating disaster, and the Chinese were probably suckers to gain most of their carrier knowledge, and their currently only operational carrier, from the incompleted hulk of Kuznetsov’s sister, now finished and called Laioning by the Red Chinese.  She has all the same engines and other design flaws of the original, and to date hasn’t put to sea very often at all, by Western standards.

kuz

kuz2

I loved the jokes on Ace: the world’s first wood-, or possibly peat-, burning aircraft carrier.  I don’t think Lexington put out that much smoke after taking multiple Jap torpedoes at Coral Sea.

*- In fact, Kuznetsov has apparently never come close to her design speed of 29 kts

Non Sequitur Post of the Week – NIJ Standards for Body Armor October 12, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, blogfoolery, Dallas Diocese, firearms, fun, non squitur, silliness, technology.
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Totally non sequitur, just an FYI for those who have no idea what we’re talking about in some other comment threads, the National Institutes of Justice body armor rating levels.  I wonder if Bishop Farrell would have ever gotten around to impugning those of his flock who make use of passive defense, as he did so often against active defense (firearms)?

Drat, I guess we’ll never know now.  Keep praying for our new bishop, whoever he may be.

BTW, Camper, this list more or less confirms that you are correct, Level IIIA is generally considered proof against most submachine gun rounds, which makes sense, since most subs fire 9 mm, .45, or similar handgun rounds, though at somewhat higher velocity than standard hand guns.  Also remember that all soft body armor is pretty much useless against pointy weapons like knives, swords, battleaxes, broad-point arrows, etc.

NIJ LEVEL I:

This armor protects against .22 caliber Long Rifle Lead Round Nose (LR LRN) bullets with nominal masses of 2.6 g (40 gr) impacting at a minimum velocity of 320 m/s (1050 ft/s) or less and 380 ACP Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) bullets with nominal masses of 6.2 g (95 gr) impacting at a minimum velocity of 312 m/s (1025 ft/s) or less.

NIJ LEVEL IIA:

(Lower Velocity 9mm, .40 S&W). This armor protects against 9mm Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) bullets with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr) impacting at a minimum velocity of 332 m/s (1090 ft/s) or less and .40 S&W caliber Full Metal Jacketed (FMJ) bullets with nominal masses of 11.7 g (180 gr) impacting at a minimum velocity of 312 m/s (1025 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against Level I threats. Level IIA body armor is well suited for full-time use by police departments, particularly those seeking protection for their officers from lower velocity .40 S&W and 9mm ammunition.

NIJ LEVEL II:

(Higher Velocity 9mm, .357 Magnum). This armor protects against .357 Magnum jacketed soft-point bullets with nominal masses of 10.2 g (158 gr.) impacting at a velocity of 425 m/s (1,395 ft/s) or less and against 9mm full-jacketed bullets with nominal velocities of 358 m/s (1,175 ft/s). It also protects against most other factory loads in caliber .357 Magnum and 9mm as well as the Level I and IIA threats. Level II body armor is heavier and more bulky than either Levels I or IIA. It is worn full time by officers seeking protection against higher velocity .357 Magnum and 9mm ammunition.

NIJ LEVEL IIIA:

(.44 Magnum; Submachine Gun 9mm). This armor protects against .44 Magnum, Semi Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP) bullets with nominal masses of 15.55 g (240 gr.) impacting at a velocity of 426 m/s (1,400 ft/s) or less and against 9mm full-metal jacketed bullets with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr.) impacting at a velocity of 426 m/s (1,400 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against most handgun threats as well as the Level I, IIA, and II threats. Level IIIA body armor provides the highest level of protection currently available from concealable body armor and is generally suitable for routine wear in many situations. However, departments located in hot, humid climates may need to evaluate the use of Level IIIA armor carefully.

NIJ LEVEL III:

(High-powered rifle). This armor, normally of hard or semirigid construction, protects against 7.62mm full-metal jacketed bullets (US military designation M80) with nominal masses of 9.7 g (150 gr.) impacting at a velocity of 838 m/s (2,750 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against threats such as 223 Remington (5.56mm FMJ), 30 Carbine FMJ, and 12-gauge rifled slug, as well as Level I through IIIA threats. Level III body armor is clearly intended only for tactical situations when the threat warrants such protection, such as barricade confrontations involving sporting rifles.

NIJ LEVEL IV:

(Armor-piercing rifle). This armor protects against .30–06 caliber armor-piercing bullets (US military designation APM2) with nominal masses of 10.8 g (166 gr.) impacting at a velocity of 868 m/s (2,850 ft/s) or less. It also provides at least single-hit protection against the Level I through III threats.

Level IV body armor provides the highest level of protection currently available. Because this armor is intended to resist “armor piercing” bullets, it often uses ceramic materials. Such materials are brittle in nature and may provide only single-shot protection since the ceramic tends to break up when struck. As with Level III armor, Level IV armor is clearly intended only for tactical situations when the threat warrants such protection.

Frightline Friday: Lockheed to Develop Mach 20 Strike System September 23, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, technology.
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DARPA has been working on this for over a decade, with not exactly stellar success.  Called originally Prompt Global Strike, as people began to wrap their heads around the “Global War on Terror” in the early 00s, they began to comprehend how useful a weapon system that could be launched from CONUS and hit a target anywhere in the world within 30-40 minutes.

Some bright folks at the Air Staff exclaimed: “Why, we have ICBMs that can do that!  We just need to put a conventional warhead (or not) on an ICBM and, voila!, capability created!”  Someone then said……how would the Russians or Chinese feel about an ICBM launch from the US, even if told about it in advance?  How would they feel about ICBM warheads sailing overhead in route to a target in Afghanistan or Yemen?  Back to the drawing board……..

So began what has turned into a long-term effort to develop what amounts to a sort of hypersonic cruise missile, launched from a bomber or perhaps a sub and carried aloft to a high, but nowhere near orbital, altitude, and flying to the target at speeds between Mach 5 (3500 mph) and Mach 20 (14,000 mph).

There have been a number of programs – Hypersonic Test Vehicles HTV-1, HTV-2, X-43, X-51, and the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.  Their success rate has been around 50% so far.  HTV really never quite worked and seems to have been cancelled.  AHW seem to be ongoing.  All of these follow a “depressed,” atmospheric trajectory deliberately, to prevent other nuclear armed powers from believing they are being attacked with ballistic missiles.  How excited they will become at a Mach 20 scramjet coming in their general direction remains to be seen.

The US is hardly the only country pursuing this technology.  China and Russia both are, and the Chinese program may be more advanced than the US at this time.

Perhaps to redress that, DARPA awarded a $150 million contract to Lockheed to develop a new Tactical Boost Glide weapon.  $150 is probably chicken feed to develop something so radically advanced, but perhaps that’s just for starters:

Lockheed Martin just won a $147 million contract to build a vehicle capable of flying at speeds of Mach 20. The goal is to create a high-speed delivery system that could bomb targets thousands of miles away in an hour or less. It’s similar to what other countries, including Russia and China, are working on.

Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) will be an air-launched boost glide weapon system. The TBG itself is a aerodynamic, arrowhead-shaped vehicle fitted on the nose of a rocket. The rocket in turn is carried by a large aircraft such as a B-52 bomber, which would carry the rocket to high altitude and then launch it. The rocket boosts TBG to an evenhigher altitude, whereupon a scramjet or ramjet kicks in and quickly accelerates it up to hypersonic speeds. TBG then glides unpowered the rest of the way to the target.

How fast will TBG go? A nearly identical program concluded in 2011 reached speeds of Mach 20. At that speed, a hypersonic vehicle could travel from New York City to Los Angeles in 12 minutes, or London to Sydney in 49 minutes.

Hypersonic is the next frontier in weaponry. The super-fast speeds could make it possible to destroy a faraway but time-critical target—say, a North Korean missile fueling on the launch pad or a terrorist meeting in a remote location. Hypersonic speed also makes interception very difficult—and makes the actual vehicle a weapon when the kinetic energy of an object traveling at Mach 20 is transferred to a target.

Meh.  Prompt Global Strike, like unmanned systems, is more of a politician’s dream than what I suspect will become a real military capability.  Politicians love unmanned systems for the promise of being able to fight wars without much risk of loss of US life.  I pray to God they never become really capable, or we’ll be killing people around the world without end at a far higher rate than we do now.  There’d be no end to it.

Don’t get me wrong, hypersonics have great utility and I think they will eventually come along, but I think Mach 20 is quite a reach.  The temperatures and pressures at that altitude (~200,000 ft) are fantastic – hundreds if not thousands of PSI, 3500 degrees F.  Mach 5-8 seems much more reasonable, and the technology to handle those temps and pressures has been around a long time.

X-51:

The earlier X-43:

A successful hypersonic weapon, whether an air-breathing scramjet powered vehicle, or one that glides after initial boost to terrific speed, can be much more difficult to intercept than an ICBM RV because they are not on a fixed ballistic profile, and will likely be capable of something like aircraft like maneuvers, albeit, at enormous speeds.

Long ago, the Air Force had a project for a replacement to the venerable B-52.  The replacement was called the XB-70.  It was killed largely due to McNamara’s inveterate dislike for bombers, which stemmed from several reasons, most of them faulty.  The XB-70 was killed because it was designed to fly at Mach 3.2 at 70-80,000 ft.  With the shootdown of Francis Gary Powers U-2 in 1960, some felt that high altitude was too dangerous, due to the proliferation of surface-to-air missiles that could reach the same or higher altitudes.

However, one massive bit of the equation McNamara missed was the difference in performance.  At 70,000 ft, the U-2 cruised at about 400 mph.  That’s all it could do.  The B-70 would have been 5 times as fast.  While the B-70 had a much larger radar cross section and could thus be detected sooner, 30 years of operation with the SR-71 proved that the high-altitude domain had not been rendered implausible due to surface to air missiles.  Flying at the same speeds and altitudes, the SR-71 was targeted and fired upon by SAMs literally hundreds of times, but not one was ever shot down or even damaged.

The reason is that even very large SAMs have very little energy left when they get to that kind of extreme altitude, and the aircraft are often about as maneuverable (if not more) than the SAM way up there in the up there.  Also, the enormous speed of the SR-71 (or B-70) means that even a slight change in course results in a displacement of the flight path on the order of miles within a minute or less.  So, the SAM, targeted to a particular spot in the sky where the fast, high-altitude aircraft is expected to be, winds up missing by a huge distance when the aircraft turns to avoid.  Really no air defense systems of the 60s-90s timeframe could react quickly enough, or had missiles with high enough flight performance, to hit a maneuvering target at those speeds and altitudes.

And that doesn’t even begin to factor in the very advanced electronic countermeasures an aircraft like the B-70 or SR-71 would have or did carry.  An ICBM RV is simple to shoot down by comparison, being on a fixed ballistic trajectory – albeit very, very fast – it WILL be at a certain point in the sky at a certain point in time and there is nothing that can be done to change that.  Get an interceptor to that same point at the right time, and you have a kill.

The Russians now purport to have “maneuverable” RVs (with attached rockets or lift devices to deviate from the fixed ballistic trajectory) able to defeat missile defense systems, but they a) drastically exaggerate their capabilities, and b) fail to note that they are so heavy and cumbersome that they have a huge negative impact on the ICBM’s limited payload/range capabilities.

The prototype XB-70 #2 reached a peak speed of Mach 3.07 and an altitude of 72,800 ft during it’s test program.  The production B-70s would have been equipped with more powerful engines and able to fly faster and quite a bit higher.

But I guess that’s a story for another day.

North American XB-70A Valkyrie

in-flight

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