Actual meanings of various terms: TEAM WORK: Having somebody else you can blame it on. HARDWARE: The part of a computer you can kick when there are software problems. IMPATIENT: Somebody who is waiting in a hurry. INFLATION: Paying today’s prices with last year’s salary.
I’ve been a bit reticent to comment on individual baseball games, because … well because it could be bad luck. Having said that I couldn’t help pointing a really nice sweep by the New York Yankees over a very good and very talented Seattle Mariners.
Fireball Book Review
If you’re sitting around in a rehab wondering why the hair on your legs and arms is growing back so unevenly, or you’re working with your favorite goat to perfect your team goat plank, (ah, goat yoga), pick up a book. I’m recommending Lincoln’s Last Trial, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher. It’s a great account of Abraham Lincoln, who having participated in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, is just beginning his political career. But at this moment we are able to glean amazing insight into the Lincoln, the man. Lincoln is anchoring the defense in what even today would be a high profile murder trial, The State of Illinois v. “Peachy” Quinn Harrison. He is a most accomplished lawyer taking on a complex murder trial. Every quotation cited from the trial comes directly from the handwritten pages meticulously recorded by the book’s protagonist, Robert Roberts Hitt. And in fact, Hitt’s original transcript of the of the trial was bound and put aside, only to be discovered in 1989 in a shoebox stored in the Fresno, California garage, home of the Quinn Harrison’s great-great grandson. Thanks Friend of FOD Roger for the book. It’s a good read.
I’ve been remiss again about getting the blog out in a timely manner. As a result, there’s a lot to cover. Let’s get to it!
FOD Saying of the Day
Dear humans, in case you forgot, I used to be your Internet. Sincerely, The Library. Oh, that’s just dating oneself as being too, too old.
USN Ships Cruise Chinese-Claimed Waters of South China Sea
The latest Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) are being reported in Navy Times. The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) sailed within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands during a scheduled freedom of navigation operation, Reuters reported. The move angered Chinese officials, who claim the island group as sovereign territory. China’s Defense Ministry said it sent ships and aircraft to warn the U.S. vessels to leave the area. The U.S. military did not directly comment on the incident, but maintained its right to conduct routine and regular FONOPS in the region. During a stop in Hawaii to mark a change in leadership at U.S. Pacific Command, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that the U.S. will continue to confront China’s militarization of manmade islands in the South China Sea. Mattis said Beijing hasn’t abided by its promise not to put weapons on the Spratly Islands. (Did anyone think they would?) He said American ships are maintaining a “steady drumbeat” of naval operations around disputed islands, and “only one country” seems to be bothered by the vessels’ activities. Mattis said the U.S will confront “what we believe is out of step with international law.” China has controlled the Paracels entirely since violently seizing Vietnam’s holdings in the area in 1974. Called “Xisha” in Chinese, the islands have been incorporated into the southern province of Hainan and are being developed for tourism, (except that no one can visit them) as well as being equipped with weapon systems meant to enforce China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. According to the Japan Times, China’s Defense Ministry has vowed to bolster its “combat readiness” to defend against what it said was a “serious infringement” of the country’s sovereignty after the U.S. Navy dispatched two warships for an apparent “freedom of navigation” operation (FONOP) in disputed South China Sea waters. The ministry said late Sunday that the Chinese military had warned the two U.S. warships to leave after they entered waters near the contested Paracel Islands in the strategic waterway. The two warships, the USS Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser home-ported in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the USS Higgins, a destroyer, had “arbitrarily entered China’s territorial waters around the Xisha Islands without permission of the Chinese government,” spokesman Wu Qian said, using the Chinese name for the Paracels. The patrol was apparently the first time the U.S. had sent warships two simultaneously conduct a FONOP in the area. The Chinese military dispatched naval vessels and aircraft “to conduct legal identification and verification of the U.S. warships and warn them off,” Wu said, according to a statement posted to the ministry’s website. “The U.S. has seriously violated China’s sovereignty, undermined strategic mutual trust, and undermined peace and security in the South China Sea,” Wu added. The Chinese military “is unshakeably determined to strengthen its naval and air combat readiness, raise defense level, safeguard national sovereignty and security and maintain regional peace and stability,” he said. Both vessels reportedly came within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the Paracels, carrying out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands, Reuters quoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying. The U.S. Defense Department refused to confirm the operation took place. “U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told The Japan Times in a statement. “All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.” Logan said that the U.S. military will continue “regular FONOPS, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future.” Beijing has built up a series of military outposts in the area as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. The incident over the weekend comes at a time of mounting tensions between the two nations. The Pentagon officially uninvited China from this year’s Rim of the Pacific naval exercise last week, citing the country’s “continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea.” I was going to comment on that story, but let’s just say the Chinese were uninvited and another potential opportunity of observe US Naval operations and gather intelligence has been recognized for what it was and has been discontinued.
Former USS John S. McCain Pleads Guilty At Special Court Martial
Navy Times is reporting on the guilty plea of Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez , former commanding officer of the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) at his May 25 special court-martial. The impassioned words of Thomas Bushell cut through the hushed Washington Navy Yard courtroom during the May 25 special court-martial as the grieving father fought back tears to pay tribute to his son, Electronics Technician 1st Class Kevin S. Bushell, one of 10 sailors killed when the destroyer John S. McCain collided with a 600-foot-long oil tanker on Aug. 21. “Arrogance killed my son. The arrogance of one man killed 10 sailors.” The father was one of a handful of Kevin Bushell’s relatives who made statements about his son. He was joined by family members of other sailors who also died on the ship, including Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., Electronics Technician 2nd Class Dustin Doyon, Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Logan S. Palmer, Chief Interior Communications Electrician Abraham Lopez, and Chief Electronics Technician Charles N. Findley. One-by-one, 15 gut-wrenching statements were read while the destroyer’s crestfallen former commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, sat only feet away, listening intently. The statements came during the sentencing phase of the court-martial following Sanchez’s guilty plea for dereliction of duty. The destroyer John S. McCain collided with the oil merchant ship Alnic MC a little after 5 a.m. on Aug. 21, puncturing a 28-foot hole in the warship and sending hundreds of bewildered sailors into a frenzy of survival and rescue. Sea water and oil rushed into the newly-created cavity on the port side of the ship that had once seemed impenetrable to those serving onboard. “I’m on a nuclear armed destroyer,” Charles Findley, 31, once told his sister, Amy Winters. “This ship is the safest place to be.” Assigning blame has proven difficult in the collisions of both the destroyer Fitzgerald and the McCain. It took extensive reviews by the Navy to determine that the sea service, not the other vessels, were at fault in both catastrophes. Deciphering which sailors were most culpable in each wreck has added yet another layer of complexity in the subsequent proceedings. Many family members of the McCain sailors, however, implied that blame doesn’t need to be equally divided. After the final family member in attendance was seated, Sanchez was offered the opportunity to issue a statement of his own. “They were under my charge and I failed,” he said to the families. “I willingly accept accountability and responsibility. Nothing in Navy training can prepare you for the deaths of your sailors.” The former commanding officer then asked the families to find some solace in the notion that their loved ones “were with family” when they died. As part of a pretrial agreement, Sanchez pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty for his role in the collision. He was sentenced by Navy judge advocate Capt. Charles Purnell to a letter of reprimand and a forfeiture of $2,000 per month for three months. He currently has a base pay of $9,009 per month. Also as part of the plea deal, Sanchez will submit a retirement request. “Don’t be the eleventh casualty of McCain,” the judge told Sanchez. “You still have a lot to contribute.”
India and Russia Team Up To Overcome US Sanctions On Defense
Defense News is reporting India and Russia have pledged to jointly create a plan to resolve U.S. sanctions on Russia that is hampering defense deals between New Delhi and Moscow. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to formulate the plan during a May 21 informal summit in the Russian city Sochi. The U.S. law, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, is negatively affecting defense business with Russia, according to an official with the Indian Ministry of Defense, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is an extremely complex issue and has direct consequences on defense supplies from Russia, but Indian government will ensure that [defense] ties are not with Moscow,” the official said. Notably mum about the impact of CAATSA on Russian defense deals, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement May 21 saying: “The two leaders agreed that the special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia is an important factor for global peace and stability. (That’s BS) The two leaders also reiterated the significance of longstanding partnership in the military, security and nuclear energy fields and welcomed the ongoing cooperation in these areas.“ Russia and India maintain a high strategic level of partnership with close cooperation between the two countries defense ministries, Putin said. “Our Defense Ministries maintain very close contacts and cooperation. It speaks about a very high strategic level of our partnership,” he said, according to TASS news agency. The U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs said Friday in Washington that U.S. allies should consider the law, under which any significant purchase of military equipment from Moscow would attract American sanctions. “CAATSA is a feature, and we need to take it seriously. The (Trump) administration is always bound by U.S. law. This is a U.S. law. I’m hoping that not just India, but all of the partners that we engage with will understand that we will have to evaluate any potential large defense purchase from Russia seriously because that’s what the law demands of us,” Tina Kaidanow told reporters. Earlier this month, Modi dispatched top Indian officials to Moscow to find a solution to the U.S. sanctions on Russian defense companies that are doing business in India. Nearly 65 percent of Indian weaponry is of Russian origin, an Indian MoD official noted, and so sanctions could impact the supply of spare parts. Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Moscow in April to speed up the procurement of new weapons worth more than $10 billion. India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale also held talks with top Russian officials, including national security adviser Nikolai Pathrushev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on May 10. Another Indian MoD official said the government will continue to pursue new defense deals will Russia, noting that price negotiations are nearly over for the purchase of 5 Russian-made S-400 air-defense systems at a cost of $5 billion, with a deal expected to be signed in the next four months. India is working out ways to keep this deal out of CAATSA, he added.
Memorial Day Weekend
This past weekend was the unofficial beginning of summer, but I think it appropriate to remember all those who gave their last full measure in defense of our nation this Memorial Day. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day,” which was first used in 1882. Memorial Day did not become the more common name until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971. After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress’ change of date within a few years. And in an abhorrent self-aggrandizement move our President tweeted Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!
God Tells Televangelist Jesse Duplantis To Buy A Falcon 7X
No sooner had I digested the President’s slap at those who have died for the values of our nation when I see that televangelist Jesse Duplantis, who lives in a 35,000 square foot mansion tax free, asked his followers to donate money to him so that he could buy a new $54 million private jet, the Dassault Falcon 7X. Duplantis said that his organization, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, had already paid for three private jets by 2006, and that he had been using them by “just burning them up for the Lord Jesus Christ.” Duplantis defended his choice by saying: “I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today he wouldn’t be riding a donkey. Think about that for a minute. He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”Previously in 2016, Duplantis and fellow televangelist Kenneth Copeland defended their use of private jets as firstly, commercial planes were full of “demons” which would bog down their schedules with requests for prayers; and secondly, on a commercial airplane, Duplantis would not be able to unbuckle his seat belt to speak to God standing up. Fellow televangelist Kenneth Copland just bought a $36 million Gulfstream V jet. Copeland thanked his followers and Jesus for buying it when it was delivered at the Fort Worth airstrip, wearing a pilot jacket and sunglasses. Copeland had earlier stated that flying commercial was like entering “a long tube with a bunch of demons,” and defended the use of private jets as it was important, it lets for prayer in privacy ‘as the Lord leads’ and avoids unnecessary demons. Now, the church is asking another $17 or $19.5 million for the building of a hangar, upgrading the runway and maintenance. I’m in the wrong line of work.
the battlecruiserHMS Hood fought the German battleshipBismarck and the heavy cruiserPrinz Eugen, the latter battle group were attempting to break out into the North Atlantic to attack the Allied merchant shipping (Operation Rheinübung) bound for the UK from the US. For 20 years after her commissioning in 1920, Hood was the largest and heaviest warship in the world. Combining eight massive BL 15 inch Mk I naval guns with a top speed greater than any battleship on the seas, Hood was the pride of Great Britain’s navy, and embodied the world dominance of British naval power. Despite this, Hood had one conspicuous flaw as compared to the super-dreadnought battleships she served alongside. As a battlecruiser, her design focused on engine power as opposed to comprehensive armor coverage. This was in accordance with the evolving theory originally propounded by First Sea LordJackie Fisher that “speed is armor.”
(Not to be confused with the term, “speed is life” used in discussing aircraft fighter tactics, especially in the F-4 Phantom II.) While her 12-inch belt armor was considered equivalent to contemporary capital ships she was likely to encounter, her 3 inches of deck armor was only rated against shell splinters, leaving her badly unprotected against plunging fire (vertical shells) at long range. At the time of her commissioning in World War I, naval gunnery lacked the accuracy at those extended ranges necessary to produce plunging fire, and Hood’s greater speed and maneuverability were rightly seen as an acceptable trade-off. However, as the accuracy and range of naval gunfire increased in the inter-war period, she became vulnerable. Hood had been scheduled to receive an upgrade in 1939 that would have doubled her deck armor to 6 inches, but the outbreak of World War II meant the upgrade never took place. She thus sortied to war at a marked disadvantage against the new capital ships of the Axis. British Vice-Admiral Holland’s battle plan was to have Hood and Prince of Wales engage Bismarck while Suffolk and Norfolk engaged Prinz Eugen (which, Holland assumed, still steamed behind Bismarck and not ahead of her). He signaled this to Captain John C. Leach of Prince of Wales, but did not radio Rear Admiral Wake-Walker, who as Commander of the 1st Cruiser Squadron directing Suffolk and Norfolk, for fear of disclosing his location. Instead, he observed radio silence. Holland hoped to meet the enemy at approximately 02:00. Sunset in this latitude was at 01:51 (ship’s clocks were four hours ahead of local time). Bismarck and Prinz Eugen would be silhouetted against the sun’s afterglow while Hood and Prince of Wales could approach rapidly, unseen in the darkness from the east, to a range close enough not to endanger Hood with plunging fire from Bismarck. The Germans would not expect an attack from this quarter, giving the British the advantage of surprise. The plan’s success depended on Suffolk‘s continual and unbroken contact with the German ships. However, Suffolk lost contact from 00:28. For 90 minutes, Holland neither sighted the German ships nor received any further news from Norfolk or Suffolk who likewise failed to signal Holland. Reluctantly, Holland ordered Hood and Prince of Wales to turn south-southwest while his detached destroyers continued search to the north. Just before 03:00, Suffolk regained contact with Bismarck. Hood and Prince of Wales were 30 nm away, slightly ahead of the Germans. Holland signaled to steer toward the Germans and increased speed to 28 kt. Suffolk‘s loss of contact had placed the British at a disadvantage. Instead of swiftly closing head-on as Holland had envisioned, he would have to converge at a wider angle, much more slowly. This would leave Hood vulnerable to Bismarck‘s plunging shells for a much longer period. The situation worsened further when, at 03:20, Suffolk reported the Germans had made a further course alteration to the west, placing the German and British squadrons almost abeam of each other (again decreasing the approach angle). Hood opened fire at 05:52 at a distance of approximately 26,500 yd. Holland had ordered firing on the leading ship, Prinz Eugen, believing from his position that she was Bismarck. Holland soon amended his order and directed both ships to engage the rear ship, Bismarck. Prince of Wales had already correctly identified and targeted Bismarck, whereas Hood is believed to have continued to fire at Prinz Eugen for some time.
The Germans also had the weather gauge, meaning that the British ships were steaming into the wind, spray drenching the range finder lenses of Prince of Wales “A” turret’s 42 ft (13 m) Barr and Stroudcoincidence rangefinder and both British ships’ “B” turret 30 ft (9.1 m) rangefinders. This necessitated using the shorter based rangefinder in the director towers. In addition, Admiral Holland retained Prince of Wales close to Hood, conforming to Hood‘s movements instead of varying courses and speeds independently. This made it easier for the Germans to find the range to both British ships, although it would have aided Holland’s gunners if they had both fired upon Bismarck as originally planned, since they could then precisely time each other’s salvos to avoid mistaking one ship’s fire for the other. They could also have
used Concentration Fire, where both ships’ main armament salvos could have been controlled by one ship’s fire control computer—probably Prince of Wales‘ modern Admiralty Fire Control Table. The Germans held their fire until 05:55, when both German ships targeted and opened fire on Hood. At 06:00, Holland ordered his force to turn once again to port to allow their aft main guns on both Hood and Prince of Wales to bear on the German ships. During the execution of that turn, a salvo from Bismarck, fired at a range of about 9 mi was seen by men aboard Prince of Wales to straddle Hood abreast her mainmast. It is likely that one 38 cm (15 in) shell struck somewhere between Hood‘s mainmast and “X” turret aft of the mast. This was immediately followed by a huge pillar of flame that shot upward ‘like a giant blowtorch,’ in the vicinity of the mainmast. An explosion followed immediately destroying a large portion of the ship from amidships clear to the rear of “Y” turret, blowing both aft turrets into the sea. The ship broke in two; the stern falling away and sinking. Ted Briggs, one of the survivors, claimed Hood heeled to 30 degrees at which point ‘we knew she just wasn’t coming back.’ The bow raised clear of water, pointed upward and pivoting about her position. Hood fired one last salvo while in this upright position, possibly from the doomed gun crew, just before the bow section followed the stern shortly thereafter. Steel splinters rained down on Prince of Wales .5 mi away. Hood sank in less than three minutes, taking 1,415 men, including Vice-Admiral Holland, with her. Only three of her crew (Ted Briggs, Bob Tilburn and Bill Dundas), survived to be rescued two hours later by the destroyer HMS Electra. Now alone, Prince of Wales was struck four times by Bismarck and three times by Prinz Eugen. One shell passed through her upper superstructure, killing or wounding several crewmen in the Compass Platform and Air Defense Platform. Pieces of another shell struck her radar room aft, killing the crewmen within. On Bismarck, there was tremendous elation at the sinking of Hood. There was also a keen expectation they would close on Prince of Wales and possibly finish her off. Bismarck‘s captain, Ernst Lindemann, requested Admiral Lütjens allow Bismarck to do just that. Lütjens refused to allow Lindemann to give chase, giving no explanation. Lindemann repeated his request, this time more assertively. Lütjens held firm orders from the German Naval Commander, Groß AdmiralErich Raeder, to avoid unnecessary combat with the Royal Navy, especially when it could lead to further damage that could hasten allowing Bismarck to engage with the British Navy. Bismarck suffered sufficient damage from three hits likely fired from Prince of Whales during their course separations. Lütjens broke off combat instead of pursuing Prince of Wales and ordered a course of 270°, due west. Bismarck had fired 93 of her 353 base-fused Armor Piercing (AP) shells during the engagement. The British public was shocked their most emblematic warship and more than 1,400 of her crew had been destroyed so suddenly. The Admiralty mobilized every available warship in the Atlantic to hunt down and destroy Bismarck. The destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy involving dozens of warships. Two days later, heading for occupied France to effect repairs, Bismarck was attacked by 16 obsolescent Fairey Swordfishbiplanetorpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; one scored a hit that rendered the battleship’s steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, the already-crippled Bismarck was severely damaged during a sustained engagement with two British battleships and two heavy cruisers, was scuttled by her crew, and sank with heavy loss of life. Most experts agree that the battle damage would have caused her to sink eventually. The wreck was located in June 1989 by Robert Ballard, and has since been further surveyed by several other expeditions.
Brooklyn Bridge Opens
On May 24, 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge opened for use. Construction of the bridge began in 1869. The bridge was designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, who had previously designed and constructed shorter suspension bridges, such as Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, the Waco Suspension Bridge and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky (all still in use). The bridge’s two towers were built by floating two caissons, giant upside-down boxes made of southern yellow pine, in the span of the East River, and then beginning to build the stone towers on top of them until they sank to the bottom of the river. Compressed air was pumped into the caissons, and workers entered the space to dig the sediment, until the caissons sank to the bedrock. The whole weight of the bridge still sits upon a 15-foot thickness of southern yellow pine wood under the sediment. Many workers became sick with the bends in this work. This condition was unknown at the time, and was first called “caisson disease” by the project physician Andrew Smith. The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorages. New York City rented out the large vaults under the bridge’s Manhattan anchorage in order to fund the bridge. Opened in 1876, the vaults were used to store wine, as they were always at 60 °F. This was called the “Blue Grotto” because of a shrine to the Virgin Mary next to an opening at the entrance. When New York magazine visited one of the cellars about 102 years later, in 1978, it discovered, on the wall, a “fading inscription” reading: “Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.” The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is detailed in the 1972 book The Great Bridge by David McCullough and Brooklyn Bridge (1981), the first PBS documentary film by Ken Burns. Burns drew heavily on McCullough’s book for the film and used him as narrator. (McCullough narrated many of Ken Burns’ projects including The Civil War and Baseball) Thousands of people attended the opening ceremony and many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion. President Chester A. Arthur and MayorFranklin Edson crossed the bridge to celebratory cannon fire and were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low when they reached the Brooklyn-side tower. On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge. The bridge’s main span over the East River is 1,595 feet 6 inches. The bridge cost US$15.5 million in 1883 dollars (about US$385,554,000 in today’s dollars) to build and an estimated 27 people died during its construction. At the time it opened, and for several years, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world—50% longer than any previously built—and it has become a treasured landmark. Since the 1980s, it has been floodlit at night to highlight its architectural features. The architectural style is neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers. The paint scheme of the bridge is “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” and “Silver”, although it has been argued that the original paint was “Rawlins Red.” At the time the bridge was built, engineers had not discovered the aerodynamics of bridge construction. Bridges were not tested in wind tunnels until the 1950s, well after the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, known as Galloping Gertie, in 1940. It is therefore fortunate that the open truss structure supporting the deck is by its nature less subject to aerodynamic problems. Roebling designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be. Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have vanished into history and been replaced. This is also in spite of the substitution of inferior quality wire in the cabling supplied by the contractor J. Lloyd Haigh—by the time it was discovered, it was too late to replace the cabling that had already been constructed. Roebling determined that the poorer wire would leave the bridge four rather than six times as strong as necessary, so it was eventually allowed to stand, with the addition of 250 cables. Diagonal cables were installed from the towers to the deck, intended to stiffen the bridge. They turned out to be unnecessary, but were kept for their distinctive beauty.
American Airlines Flight 191
American Airlines Flight 191 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight operated by American Airlines from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to Los Angeles International Airport. A McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 used for this flight on May 25, 1979, crashed moments after takeoff from Chicago. All 258 passengers and 13 crew on board were killed, along with two people on the ground. It is the deadliest aviation accident to have occurred in the United States. Investigators found that as the jet was beginning its takeoff rotation, engine number one, on the left wing, separated and flipped over the top of the wing. As the engine separated from the aircraft it severed hydraulic lines that locked the wing’s leading edge slats in place and damaged a three-foot section of the left wing’s leading edge. Aerodynamic forces acting on the wing resulted in an uncommanded retraction of the outboard leading edge slats. As the jet began to climb, the damaged left wing, with no engine, produced far less lift (it stalled) than the right wing, with its slats still deployed and its engine running at full takeoff speed. The extremely disrupted and unbalanced aerodynamics of the aircraft caused it to roll abruptly to the left until it was partially inverted, reaching a bank angle of 112 degrees, before crashing in an open field by a trailer park near the end of the runway. The engine separation was attributed to damage to the pylon structure holding the engine to the wing, caused by faulty maintenance procedures at American Airlines. While maintenance issues and not the actual design of the aircraft were ultimately found responsible for the crash, the accident and subsequent grounding of all DC-10s by the Federal Aviation Administration added to an already unfavorable reputation of the DC-10 aircraft in the eyes of the public, caused by several other incidents and accidents involving the type. The accident investigation revealed other DC-10s had been damaged caused by the same faulty maintenance procedure American Airlines had either shared with other operators or performed for other DC-10 operators. The faulty procedure was banned, and the aircraft type went on to have a long career as a passenger and cargo aircraft (It was a good flying aircraft). Witnesses to the crash were in universal agreement that the aircraft had not struck any foreign objects on the runway. Also, no pieces of the wing or other aircraft components were found with the separated engine, other than its supporting pylon, leading investigators to conclude that nothing else had broken free of the airframe and struck the engine. Hence the engine/pylon assembly separation resulted from a structural failure. During the investigation, an examination of the pylon attachment points revealed damage to the wing’s pylon mounting bracket that matched the shape of the pylon’s rear attachment fitting. This meant that the pylon attachment fitting had struck the mounting bracket at some point. This was important evidence, as the only way the pylon fitting could strike the wing’s mounting bracket in the observed manner was if the bolts that held the pylon to the wing had been removed and the engine/pylon assembly was being supported by something other than the aircraft itself. Hence investigators were able to conclude that the observed damage to the rear pylon mount had been present before the crash, rather than being caused by it. Examination of the aircraft’s maintenance history revealed that eight weeks before the crash, the aircraft had undergone routine service, during which the engine and pylon had been removed from the wing for inspection and maintenance. The removal procedure recommended by McDonnell-Douglas called for the engine to be detached from the pylon before detaching the pylon itself from the wing. However, American Airlines, as well as Continental Airlines and United Airlines, had developed a different procedure that saved approximately 200 man-hours per aircraft and “more importantly from a safety standpoint, it would reduce the number of disconnects (of systems such as hydraulic and fuel lines, electrical cables, and wiring) from 72 to 27.”This new procedure involved removal of the engine and pylon assembly as a single unit, rather than as individual components. United Airline’s implementation involved use of an overhead hoist to support the engine/pylon assembly during removal and installation. The method chosen by American and Continental procedure supported the engine/pylon assembly with a large forklift. It was learned that if the forklift were incorrectly positioned the engine/pylon assembly would not be stable as it was being handled, causing it to rock like a see-saw and jam the pylon against the wing’s attachment points. The forklift operator was guided only by hand and voice signals, as he or she could not directly see the juncture between pylon and wing. Positioning had to be extremely accurate or structural damage could result. Compounding the problem, maintenance work on N110AA did not go smoothly. The mechanics started to disconnect the engine and pylon, but there was a shift change halfway through the job. (How many times have you heard issues regarding shift changes). When work was resumed, the pylon was jammed on the wing and the forklift had to be re-positioned, resulting in unseen structural damage to the wing’s pylon attachment points. The structural damage was not enough to cause an immediate failure. However, fatigue cracking developed, and worsened with each takeoff and landing cycle during the eight weeks that followed the maintenance on N110AA. Finally, the damaged rear pylon mount reached its breaking point and failed. Due to the absence of this attachment, the engine, at full takeoff power, swung itself and the pylon upward on the latter’s still-attached forward mount. The structure surrounding the forward pylon mount failed from the resulting stresses, and the engine/pylon assembly broke free of the wing. Inspection of the DC-10 fleets of the three airlines revealed that while United Airlines’ hoist approach seemed to be harmless, there were several DC-10s at both American and Continental with severe and potentially fatal damage to their pylon mounts. The field service representative from McDonnell-Douglas stated the company would “not encourage this procedure due to the element of risk” and had so advised American Airlines. McDonnell-Douglas, however, “does not have the authority to either approve or disapprove the maintenance procedures of its customers.”In addition to the use of a faulty procedure for engine/pylon assembly removal and installation, the accident investigation also concluded that the design of the pylon and adjacent surfaces made the parts difficult to service and prone to damage by maintenance crews, even when using approved procedures.” Absent was a condemnation of the FAA which has oversight responsibility for both approval and monitoring of airline maintenance procedures. The DC-10 continued to serve with passenger airlines for over 30 years after the crash of Flight 191. In the end, it was newer, more fuel-efficient twin-engined airplanes from Boeing and Airbus and not safety concerns that ultimately ended the passenger career of the DC-10. I only have a few hours in the DC-10 and about forty hours in the MD-11. They were both nice flying aircraft, with good handling qualities.
Constitutional Convention Opens in Philadelphia
Constitutional Convention (United States) took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although the Convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the Convention. The result of the Convention was the creation of the United States Constitution, placing the Convention among the most significant events in the history of the United States. The most contentious disputes revolved around composition and election of the Senate, how “proportional representation” was to be defined (whether to include slaves or other property), whether to divide the executive power between three persons or invest the power into a single president, how to elect the president, how long his term was to be and whether he could run for reelection, what offenses should be impeachable, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade, and whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or executive. Most of the time during the Convention was spent on deciding these issues, while the powers of legislature, executive, and judiciary were not heavily disputed. Once the Convention began, the delegates first agreed on the principles of the Convention, then they agreed on Madison’s Virginia Plan and began to modify it. A Committee of Detail assembled during the July 4 recess eventually produced a rough draft of the constitution. Most of the rough draft remained in place, and can be found in the final version of the constitution. After the final issues were resolved, the Committee on Style produced the final version, and it was voted on and sent to the states.
Reflecting on the First Greatest Generation
On May 27, 1813, former President Thomas Jefferson (below left) writes former President John Adams (below right) to let him know that their mutual friend, Dr. Benjamin Rush has died. Rush’s passing caused Jefferson to reflect upon the departure of the Revolutionary generation. They were part of the FIRST Greatest Generation. He wrote to Adams, “We too must go; and that ere long. I believe we are under half a dozen at present; I mean the signers of the Declaration.” Although Jefferson and Adams were bitter political enemies by the time of the presidential election of 1800, in which Jefferson narrowly defeated Adams, the two leading intellectuals and politicians of Virginia and Massachusetts had been allies and confidants during the heady, revolutionary days of the late 1770s. Following 12 years of bitter silence caused by their disagreement over the role of the new federal government, the two old friends managed to reestablish the discourse of their younger years spent in Philadelphia, where they both served in the Continental Congress, and Paris, where they served together as ambassadors to France. In 1812, Benjamin Rush, a Patriot and physician from Philadelphia, initiated a renewed correspondence and reconciliation between his two friends and ex-presidents. The correspondence continued until Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence that all three friends had signed in 1776. The letters between Jefferson and Adams provide great insight into what these founding fathers were thinking and how they formulated the government of a new country. They are worth a read.
Golden Gate Bridge Opens
Another bridge opening! May 27, 1937 marked the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the one-mile-wide, one-point-seven-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet. As mentioned, the bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937 and lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed either on foot or on roller skates. On opening day, Mayor Angelo Rossi and other officials rode the ferry to Marin, then crossed the bridge in a motorcade past three ceremonial “barriers”, the last a blockade of beauty queens who required Joseph Strauss to present the bridge to the Highway District before allowing him to pass. An official song, “There’s a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate,” was chosen to commemorate the event. Strauss wrote a poem that is now on the Golden Gate Bridge entitled “The Mighty Task is Done.” The next day, President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, D.C. signaling the official start of vehicle traffic over the Bridge at noon. Joseph Strauss, was an ambitious engineer and was chief engineer in charge of overall design and construction of the bridge project. However, because he had little understanding or experience with cable-suspension designs, responsibility for much of the engineering and architecture fell on other experts. Strauss’s initial design proposal (two double cantilever spans linked by a central suspension segment) was unacceptable from a visual standpoint. The final graceful suspension design was conceived and championed by Leon Moisseiff, the engineer of the Manhattan Bridge in New York City. Irving Morrow, a relatively unknown residential architect, designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme, and Art Deco elements, such as the tower decorations, streetlights, railing, and walkways. The famous International Orange color was originally used as a sealant for the bridge. The US Navy had wanted it to be painted with black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships. Senior engineer Charles Alton Ellis, collaborating remotely with Moisseiff, was the principal engineer of the project. Moisseiff produced the basic structural design, introducing his “deflection theory” by which a thin, flexible roadway would flex in the wind, greatly reducing stress by transmitting forces via suspension cables to the bridge towers. Although the Golden Gate Bridge design has proved sound, a later Moisseiff design, the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, collapsed in a strong windstorm soon after it was completed, because of an unexpected aeroelastic flutter. Ellis was also tasked with designing a “bridge within a bridge” in the southern abutment, to avoid the need to demolish Fort Point, a pre-Civil War masonry fortification viewed, even then, as worthy of historic preservation. He penned a graceful steel arch spanning the fort and carrying the roadway to the bridge’s southern anchorage. Construction began on January 5, 1933. The project cost more than $35 million, completing ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget. The Golden Gate Bridge construction project was carried out by the McClintic-Marshall Construction Co., a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel Corporation founded by Howard H. McClintic and Charles D. Marshall, both of Lehigh University. The project was finished and opened May 27, 1937. The Bridge Round Housediner was then included in the southeastern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, adjacent to the tourist plaza which was renovated in 2012. The Bridge Round House, an Art Deco design by Alfred Finnila completed in 1938, has been popular throughout the years as a starting point for various commercial tours of the bridge and an unofficial gift shop. The diner was renovated in 2012 and the gift shop was then removed as a new, official gift shop has been included in the adjacent plaza. During the bridge work, the Assistant Civil Engineer of California Alfred Finnila had overseen the entire iron work of the bridge as well as half of the bridge’s road work. With the death of Jack Balestreri in April 2012, all workers involved in the original construction are now deceased.
Phantom II First Flight
27 May 1958: At Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation’s Chief Test Pilot (and future company president) Robert C. Little made the first flight of the YF4H-1 prototype. The twin-engine Mach 2+ airplane was the first pre-production model of a new U.S. Navy fleet defense interceptor that would be developed into the legendary F-4 Phantom II fighter bomber. Early testing resulted in redesign of the air intakes, including the distinctive addition of 12,500 holes to “bleed off” the slow-moving boundary layer air from the surface of each intake ramp. And if you look at the intakes of the MiG-21 you will note the same 12,500 holes and barricade cutters (required for carrier barricade arrestment landings) – coincidence – I think not. Series production aircraft also featured splitter plates to divert the boundary layer away from the engine intakes. The aircraft soon squared off against the XF8U-3 Crusader III (a truly great aircraft, but it wasn’t two seat and it wasn’t twin engine). Due to operator workload, the Navy wanted a two-seat aircraft and on 17 December 1958 the F4H was declared a winner. Delays with the J79-GE-8 engines meant that the first production aircraft were fitted with J79-GE-2 and −2A engines, each having 16,100 lb of afterburning thrust. In 1959, the Phantom began carrier suitability trials with the first complete launch-recovery cycle performed on 15 February 1960 from Independence. There were proposals to name the F4H “Satan” and “Mithras.” In the end, the aircraft was given the less controversial name “Phantom II”, the first “Phantom” being another McDonnell jet fighter, the FH-1 Phantom. The second prototype YF4H-1, Bu. No. 142260, flown by Commander Lawrence E. Flint, Jr., USN, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude, 6 December 1959, when it zoom-climbed to 98,556 feet). On 22 November 1961, 142260, flown by Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Robinson, USMC, also set an FAI World Record for Speed over a Straight 15/25 Kilometer Course, averaging 2,585.425 kilometers per hour (1,606.509 miles per hour). On 5 December 1961, the same Phantom set an FAI World Record for Altitude in Horizontal Flight at 20,252 meters (66,444 feet) with Commander George W. Ellis, USN, in the cockpit. The last Phantoms in service with the Navy were QF-4 target drones operated by the Naval Air Warfare Center at NAS Point Mugu, California. These airframes were subsequently retired in 2004. I have 2812 hours in the Phantom in most every model USN, USAF, German F-4F and the QF-4N and QF-4S. It’s a fine aircraft to fly with several well recognized handling issues. It was designed to be an interceptor rather than a close-in fighter. Phantoms remain in front line service with five countries. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. The F-4 remains in service with Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. It has been used in combat against the Islamic State.
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Released
On May 27,1963, Bob Dylan releases his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which goes on to transform him from a popular local act to a global phenomenon. “Of all the precipitously emergent singers of folk songs in the continuing renascence of that self-assertive tradition,” wrote journalist and critic Nat Hentoff, “none has equaled Bob Dylan in singularity of impact.” Dylan’s impact on the folk scene stemmed at first from his mastery and idiosyncratic performances of a vast repertoire of traditional folk songs. His devotion to the music of the great Woody Guthrie is what brought Bob Dylan to New York in the first place, and his “Song To Woody” was one of only two original numbers on his widely ignored debut album, Bob Dylan (1962). The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, on the other hand, included only two non-original numbers, and the speed with which Dylan’s own songs from that album were added to the repertoires of other musicians is what really turned him into a household name. Freewheelin‘ represented the beginning of Dylan’s writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan’s original compositions. The album opens with “Blowin’ in the Wind“, which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary soon after the release of Freewheelin‘. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan’s best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: “Girl from the North Country“, “Masters of War“, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan reached number 22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and became a number-one album in the UK in 1964. In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2002, Freewheelin’ was one of the first 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. In 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima also known as the Battle of Tsushima Strait and the Naval Battle of the Sea of Japan, in Japan, was a major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. It was naval history’s only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets, and the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy (radio) played a critically important role. It has been characterized as the “dying echo of the old era – for the last time in the history of naval warfare ships of the line of a beaten fleet surrendered on the high seas.” And it was the last major naval battle without aviation assets playing a role. Russian Czar Nicholas II hoped that the Russian Baltic fleet under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky would be able to challenge Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō supremacy at sea, but during the two-day Battle of Tsushima Strait, beginning on May 27, 1905, more than 30 Russian ships were sunk or captured by the superior Japanese warships. Because of the 18,000-mile journey from the Baltic, the Russian fleet was in relatively poor condition for battle. Apart from the four newest Borodino-class battleships, Admiral Nebogatov’s 3rd Division consisted of older and poorly maintained warships. Overall neither side had a significant maneuverability advantage. The long voyage, combined with a lack of opportunity for maintenance, meant the Russian ships were heavily fouled, significantly reducing their speed. The Japanese ships could sustain 15 knots, but the Russian fleet could reach just 14 knots, and then only in short bursts. Tōgō achieved “crossing the T” twice. Additionally, there were significant deficiencies in the Russian naval fleet’s equipment and training. Russian naval tests with their torpedoes exposed major technological failings. Tōgō’s greatest advantage was that of experience, being the only active admiral in any navy with combat experience aboard battleships. (The others were Russian Admirals Oskar Viktorovich Stark, who had been relieved of his command following his humiliating defeat in the Battle of Port Arthur, Admiral Stepan Makarov, killed by a mine off Port Arthur, and Wilgelm Vitgeft, who had been killed in the Battle of the Yellow Sea.) At 06:34, before departing with the Combined Fleet, Admiral Tōgō wired a confident message to the navy minister in Tokyo:
In response to the warning that enemy ships have been sighted, the Combined Fleet will immediately commence action and attempt to attack and destroy them. Weather today fine but high waves.
The final sentence of this telegram became famous in Japanese military history. At the same time the entire Japanese fleet put to sea, with Tōgō in his flagship Mikasa leading over 40 vessels to meet the Russians. Meanwhile, the shadowing Japanese scouting vessels sent wireless reports every few minutes as to the formation and course of the Russian fleet. There was mist which reduced visibility and the weather was poor. Wireless gave the Japanese an advantage; in his report on the battle, Admiral Tōgō noted the following:
Though a heavy fog covered the sea, making it impossible to observe anything at a distance of over five miles, [through wireless messaging] all the conditions of the enemy were as clear to us, who were 30 or 40 miles distant, as though they had been under our very eyes.
At 13:40, both fleets sighted each other and prepared to engage. At around 13:55, Tōgō ordered the hoisting of the Z flag, issuing a predetermined announcement to the entire fleet:
The Empire’s fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty.
By 14:45, Tōgō had ‘crossed the Russian T‘ enabling him to fire broadsides, while the Russians could only reply with their forward turrets. The battle was humiliating for Russia, which lost all its battleships and most of its cruisers and destroyers. The battle effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War in Japan’s favor. The Russians lost 4,380 killed and 5,917 captured, including two admirals, with a further 1,862 interned. The Russians lost eleven battleships, including three smaller coastal vessels, either sunk or captured by the Japanese, or scuttled by their crews to prevent capture. Four ships were lost to enemy action during the daylight battle on 27 May: Knyaz Suvorov, Imperator Aleksandr III, Borodino and Oslyabya. Navarin was lost during the night action, on 27–28 May, while the Sissoi Veliky, Admiral Nakhimov and Admiral Ushakov were either scuttled or sunk the next day. Four other battleships, under Rear Admiral Nebogatov, were forced to surrender and would end up as prizes of war. This group consisted of only one modern battleship, Oryol, along with the old battleship Imperator Nikolai I and the two small coastal battleshipsGeneral Admiral Graf Apraksin and Admiral Seniavin. The small coastal battleship Admiral Ushakov refused to surrender and was scuttled by her crew. The battle had a profound cultural and political impact upon Japan. It was the first defeat of a European power by an Asian nation in the modern era. It also weakened the notion of white superiority that was prevalent in some Western countries. The victory established Japan as the sixth greatest naval power, while the Russian navy declined to one barely stronger than that of Austria-Hungary. In The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles, the British historian Geoffrey Regan argues that the victory bolstered Japan’s increasingly aggressive political and military establishment. According to Regan, the lopsided Japanese victory at Tsushima:
…created a legend that was to haunt Japan’s leaders for forty years. A British admiralonce said, ‘It takes three years to build a ship, but 300 years to build a tradition.’ Japan thought that the victory had completed this task in a matter of a few years … It had all been too easy. Looking at Tōgō’s victory over one of the world’s great powers convinced some Japanese military men that with more ships, and bigger and better ones, similar victories could be won throughout the Pacific. Perhaps no power could resist the Japanese navy, not even Britain and the United States.
Regan also believes the victory contributed to the Japanese road to later disaster, “because the result was so misleading. Certainly the Japanese navy had performed well, but its opponents had been weak, and it was not invincible… Tōgō’s victory [helped] set Japan on a path that would eventually lead her” to the Second World War. Isoroku Yamamoto, the future Japanese admiral who would go on to plan the attack on Pearl Harbor and command the Imperial Japanese Navy through much of the Second World War, served as a junior officer (aboard Nisshin) during the battle and was wounded by Russian gunfire. In August, the stunning string of Japanese victories convinced Russia to accept the peace treaty mediated by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Roosevelt was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement.) In the Treaty of Portsmouth, Russia recognized Japan as the dominant power in Korea and gave up Port Arthur, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and the Liaotung Peninsula to Japan.
Battle of Totopotomoy Creek
The Battle of Totopotomoy Creek also called the Battle of Bethesda Church, Crumps Creek, Shady Grove Road, and Hanovertown, was a battle fought in Hanover County, Virginia in May 28–30, 1864, as part of UnionLt. Gen.Ulysses Grant‘s Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia. As Grant continued his attempts to maneuver around Lee’s right flank and lure him into a general battle in the open, Lee saw an opportunity to attack the advancing V Corps, under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren with the Second Corps of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. Early’s divisions under Maj. Gens.Robert E. Rodes and Stephen Dodson Ramseur drove the Union troops back to Shady Grove Road, but Ramseur’s advance was stopped by a fierce stand of infantry and artillery fire. Grant ordered his other corps commanders to conduct a supporting attack along the entire Confederate line, which was entrenched behind Totopotomoy Creek, but only the II Corps of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock crossed the stream; they were quickly repulsed. After the inconclusive battle, the Union army resumed its moves to the southeast and the Battle of Cold Harbor. Grant’s forces are now less than twenty miles from the Confederate capital of Richmond. Federal casualties were 731 (679 killed and wounded, 52 captured), versus 1,593 (263 killed, 961 wounded, 369 missing/captured) Confederate. Of more concern to Lee than Early’s failed attack was intelligence he received that reinforcements were heading Grant’s way. Just as Hoke’s division was leaving Bermuda Hundred, the 16,000 men of Maj. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith‘s XVIII Corps were withdrawn from Butler’s Army of the James at Grant’s request and they were moving down the James River and up the York to the Pamunkey. If Smith moved due west from White House Landing to Cold Harbor, 3 miles southeast of Bethesda Church and Grant’s left flank, the extended Federal line would be too far south for the Confederate right to contain it. Lee sent his cavalry under Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee to secure the crossroads at Cold Harbor. On May 31 Hancock’s II Corps again crossed Totopotomoy Creek, but found that the Confederate defense line stood well behind the actual creek bed. Grant realized that the strength of the Confederate position meant another stalemate was at hand. He began shifting his army southward toward Cold Harbor on the night of May 31, the site of the next major battle.
The Rite of SpringOpens in Paris with a Near Riot
Granted, I’m not much of a student of the ballet as it were, but if The Rite of Spring comes to a theater near you, I recommend you go see it, just to see what all the mayhem was about in 1913. The Rite of Spring (French: Le Sacre du printemps; “sacred spring”) is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes company. Stravinsky’s score contains many novel features for its time, including experiments in tonality, metre, rhythm, stress and dissonance. Analysts, (not me) have noted in the score a significant grounding in Russian folk music, a relationship Stravinsky tended to deny. The music has influenced many of the 20th-century’s leading composers and is one of the most recorded works in the classical repertoire. From the first notes of the overture, sounded by a bassoon playing well outside its normal register, Stravinsky’s haunting music set the audience on edge. It was the combination of that music with the jarring choreography of the great Vaslav Nijinsky, however, that caused the uproar that followed. “The curtain rose on a group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down,” Stravinsky later remarked of the brutal opening seen of Le Sacre du printemps, which depicts a virgin sacrifice in an ancient pagan Russia. Catcalls began to issue from the audience as they took in the bizarre scene playing out before them. The noise became great enough that the orchestra could not be heard from the stage, causing Nijinsky to climb atop a chair in the wings shouting out instructions to his dancers onstage. While Stravinsky sat fuming as his music was drowned out by jeers, whistles and—if one witness is to be believed—members of the audience barking like dogs, Serge Diaghelev, impresario of the Ballets Russes, frantically switched the house lights on and off in a futile effort to restore order. It was, in other words a scene that bore a closer resemblance to the Marx Brothers’ A Night At The Opera than it did to a typical night at the Ballets Russes. In retrospect, Stravinsky’s score can be seen as paving the way for 20th-century modern composition, and it sounds no more daring to today’s listeners than the average dramatic film scores. Yet no present-day listener—and certainly no listener who first encountered it as part of the soundtrack to Disney’s animated Fantasia (1940)—can possibly appreciate how shocking the dissonance, droning and asymmetrical rhythms of Le Sacre du printemps sounded to its premiere audience on this night in 1913.
Because It Was There
On 29 May 1953, Edmund Hillary and NepaleseSherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt. TIME magazine named Hillary one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Hillary served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator during World War II. Prior to the 1953 Everest expedition, Hillary had been part of the British reconnaissance expedition to the mountain in 1951 as well as an unsuccessful attempt to climb Cho Oyu in 1952. The expedition set up base camp in March 1953 and, working slowly, set up its final camp at the South Col at 25,900 feet (7,890 m). On 26 May, Bourdillon and Evans attempted the climb but turned back when Evans’ oxygen system failed. The pair had reached the South Summit, coming within 300 vertical feet (91 m) of the summit. Hunt then directed Hillary and Tenzing to go for the summit. Snow and wind held the pair up at the South Col for two days. They set out on 28 May with a support trio of Lowe, Alfred Gregory, and Ang Nyima. The two pitched a tent at 27,900 feet on 28 May, while their support group returned down the mountain. On the following morning Hillary discovered that his boots had frozen solid outside the tent (What – Who leaved their boots outside on Mt. Everest?) He spent two hours warming them before he and Tenzing, wearing 30-pound packs, attempted the final ascent. The crucial move of the last part of the ascent was the 40-foot rock face later named the “Hillary Step“. Hillary saw a means to wedge his way up a crack in the face between the rock wall and the ice, and Tenzing followed. From there the following effort was relatively simple. Hillary reported that both men reached the summit at the same time, but in The Dream Comes True, Tenzing said that Hillary had taken the first step atop Mount Everest. They reached Everest’s 29,028 ft summit, the highest point on earth, at 11:30 AM. As Hillary put it, “A few more whacks of the ice axe in the firm snow, and we stood on top.” As part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hillary reached the South Pole overland in 1958. He subsequently reached the North Pole, making him the first person to reach both poles and summit Everest. Following his ascent of Everest, Hillary devoted most of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts, many schools and hospitals were built in Nepal. On 6 June 1953 Hillary was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire and received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal the same year. To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest the Nepalese government conferred honorary citizenship upon Hillary at a special Golden Jubilee celebration in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was the first foreign national to receive that honor. In 1992 Hillary appeared on the updated New Zealand $5 note, thus making him the only New Zealander to appear on a banknote during his or her lifetime, in defiance of the established convention for banknotes of using only depictions of deceased individuals, and current heads of state.
F4U Corsair First Flight
29 May 1940: Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division test pilot Lyman A. Bullard, Jr. took the U.S. Navy’s new prototype fighter, the Vought XF4U-1 Corsair, Bu. No. 1443, for its first flight at the Bridgeport Municipal Airport, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Designed by Rex B. Beisel, this would be developed into the famous F4U Corsair certainly one of the most iconic and beautiful aircraft ever built. The size of the propeller was responsible for the Corsair’s most distinctive feature: the inverted gull wing. The width of the wing (chord) limited the length of the main landing gear struts. By placing the gear at the bend, the necessary propeller clearance was gained. The angle at which the wing met the fuselage was also aerodynamically cleaner.Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought‘s manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and Brewster-built aircraft F3A. From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured, in 16 separate models, in the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in U.S. history (1942–53). The Corsair was designed as a carrier-based aircraft but its difficult carrier landing performance rendered it unsuitable for Navy use until the carrier landing issues were overcome by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. The Corsair thus came to and retained prominence in its area of greatest deployment: land based use by the U.S. Marines. The role of the dominant U.S. carrier based fighter in the second part of the war was thus filled by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair’s first prototype in 1940. The Corsair served to a lesser degree in the U.S. Navy. In addition to its use by the U.S. and British, the Corsair was also used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the French NavyAéronavale and other, smaller, air forces until the 1960s. After the carrier landing issues had been tackled, it quickly became the most capable carrier-based fighter-bomber of World War II. The Corsair served almost exclusively as a fighter-bomber throughout the Korean War and during the French colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria. Production F4U-1s featured several major modifications compared with the XF4U-1. A change of armament to six wing-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (three in each outer wing panel) and their ammunition (400 rounds for the inner pair, 375 rounds for the outer), meant that the location of the wing fuel tanks had to be changed. In order to keep the fuel tank close to the center of gravity, the only available position was in the forward fuselage, ahead of the cockpit. Accordingly, as a 237 gal (897 l) self-sealing fuel tank replaced the fuselage mounted armament, the cockpit had to be moved back by 32 in (810 mm) and the fuselage lengthened. In addition, 150 lb of armor plate was installed, along with a 1.5 in (38 mm) bullet-proof windscreen which was set internally, behind the curved Plexiglas windscreen. The canopy could be jettisoned in an emergency, and half-elliptical planform transparent panels, much like those of certain models of the Curtiss P-40, were inset into the sides of the fuselage’s turtledeck structure behind the pilot’s headrest, providing the pilot with a limited rear view over his shoulders. A rectangular Plexiglas panel was inset into the lower center section to allow the pilot to see directly beneath the aircraft and assist with deck landings. The engine used was the more powerful R-2800-8 (B series) Double Wasp which produced 2,000 hp. On the wings the flaps were changed to a NACA slotted type and the ailerons were increased in span to increase the roll rate, with a consequent reduction in flap span. IFF transponder equipment was fitted in the rear fuselage. These changes increased the Corsair’s weight by several hundred pounds. The performance of the Corsair was superior to most of its contemporaries. The F4U-1 was considerably faster than the Grumman F6F Hellcat and only 13 mph slower than the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. All three were powered by the R-2800. From February 1943 onward, the F4U operated from Guadalcanal and ultimately other bases in the Solomon Islands. A dozen USMC F4U-1s of VMF-124, commanded by Major William E. Gise, arrived at Henderson Field (code name “Cactus”) on 12 February 1943. The first recorded combat engagement was on 14 February 1943, when Corsairs of VMF-124 under Major Gise assisted P-40s and P-38s in escorting a formation of Consolidated B-24 Liberators on a raid against a Japanese aerodrome at Kahili. Corsairs were flown by the “Black Sheep” Squadron (VMF-214, led by Marine MajorGregory “Pappy” Boyington) in an area of the Solomon Islands called “The Slot“. Boyington was credited with 22 kills in F4Us (of 28 total, including six in an AVGP-40, although his score with the AVG has been disputed). Other noted Corsair pilots of the period included VMF-124’s Kenneth Walsh, James E. Swett, and Archie Donahue, VMF-215‘s Robert M. Hanson and Don Aldrich, and VF-17‘s Tommy Blackburn, Roger Hedrick, and Ira Kepford. Nightfighter versions equipped Navy and Marine units afloat and ashore. One particularly unusual kill was scored by Marine Lieutenant R. R. Klingman of VMF-312 (the “Checkerboards”), over Okinawa. Klingman was in pursuit of a Kawasaki Ki-45Toryu (“Nick”) twin-engine fighter at extremely high altitude when his guns jammed due to the gun lubrication thickening from the extreme cold. He flew up and chopped off the Ki-45’s tail with the big propeller of the Corsair. Despite missing five inches off the end of his propeller blades, he managed to land safely after this aerial ramming attack. He was awarded the Navy Cross. U.S. figures compiled at the end of the war indicate that the F4U and FG flew 64,051 operational sorties for the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy through the conflict (44% of total fighter sorties), with only 9,581 sorties (15%) flown from carrier decks. F4U and FG pilots claimed 2,140 air combat victories against 189 losses to enemy aircraft, for an overall kill ratio of over 11:1. Against the best Japanese opponents, the aircraft claimed a 12:1 kill ratio against Mitsubishi A6M and 6:1 against the Nakajima Ki-84, Kawanishi N1K-J and Mitsubishi J2M combined during the last year of the war. The Corsair bore the brunt of U.S. fighter-bomber missions, delivering 15,621 short tons (14,171 metric tons) of bombs during the war (70% of total bombs dropped by U.S. fighters during the war).
DC-8 First Flight
30 May 1958: Douglas Aircraft Company Flight Operations Manager and engineering test pilot Arnold G. Heimerdinger, with co-pilot William M. Magruder and systems engineer Paul H. Patten, were scheduled to take off from Long Beach Airport (LGB) on the coast of southern California, at 10:00 a.m., to make the first flight of the new Douglas DC-8 jet airliner, c/n 45252, FAA registration N8008D. The DC-8 (also known as the McDonnell Douglas DC-8) is a four-engine long-range narrow-bodyjet airliner built from 1958 to 1972 by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Launched after the competing Boeing 707, the DC-8 nevertheless kept Douglas in a strong position in the airliner market, and remained in production until 1972 when it began to be superseded by larger wide-body designs, including the Boeing 747, McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. The DC-8’s design allowed it a slightly larger cargo capacity than the 707 and some re-engined DC-8s are still in use as freighters. Donald Douglas proposed to build and test the DC-8 at Santa Monica Airport, which had been the birthplace of the DC-3 and home to a Douglas plant that employed 44,000 workers during World War II. In order to accommodate the new jet, Douglas asked the city of Santa Monica, California to lengthen the airport’s 5,000-foot runway. Following complaints by neighboring residents, the city refused, so Douglas moved its airliner production line to Long Beach Airport. The first DC-8 N8008D was rolled out of the new Long Beach factory on 9 April 1958 and flew for the first time, in Series 10 form, on 30 May for two hours seven minutes. Later that year an enlarged version of the Comet finally returned to service, but too late to take a substantial portion of the market: de Havilland had just 25 orders. In August Boeing had begun delivering 707s to Pan Am. Douglas made a massive effort to close the gap with Boeing, using no less than ten aircraft for flight testing to achieve FAA certification for the first of the many DC-8 variants in August 1959. Much was needed to be done: the original air brakes on the lower rear fuselage were found ineffective and were deleted as engine thrust reversers had become available; unique leading-edge slots were added to improve low-speed lift; the prototype was 25 kt short of its promised cruising speed and a new, slightly larger wingtip had to be developed to reduce drag. In addition, a recontoured wing leading edge was later developed to extend the chord 4% and reduce drag at high Mach numbers. On August 21, 1961, a Douglas DC-8 broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.012 (660 mph/1,062 km/h) while in a controlled dive through 41,000 feet (12,497 m) and maintained that speed for 16 seconds. The flight was to collect data on a new leading-edge design for the wing, and while doing so, the DC-8 became the first civilian jet – and the first jet airliner – to make a supersonic flight. The aircraft was DC-8-43 registered CF-CPG later delivered to Canadian Pacific Air Lines. The aircraft, crewed by Captain William Magruder, First Officer Paul Patten, Flight Engineer Joseph Tomich and Flight Test Engineer Richard Edwards, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and was accompanied to altitude by an F-104 Starfighter supersonic chase aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager.
30 May 1949: While testing a radical “flying wing” aircraft, the Rolls-Royce Nene-powered Armstrong Whitworth AW.52, test pilot John O. Lancaster, DFC, encountered severe pitch oscillations in a 320 mile per hour (515 kilometer per hour) dive. Lancaster feared the aircraft would disintegrate. In the very first use of the Martin-Baker Mk1 ejection seat in an actual emergency, Lancaster fired the seat and was safely thrown clear of the aircraft. He parachuted to safety and was uninjured. The aircraft was destroyed. To date, more than 7,300 airmen have been saved worldwide by Martin Baker ejection seats. I’m a two-time survivor and attribute Martin-Baker for saving the ass I’m sitting on today.
B-17F Flying Fortress First Flight
I covered a bit about the Memphis Belle in the last edition of FOD, but here’s some additional info on the B-17. 30 May 1942: The Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress makes its first flight. B-17F-1-BO 41-24340 was the first of a new series of the famous World War II bomber. While visually similar to the B-17E, it had more than 400 improvements based on early wartime experience with the B-17D and B-17E. The Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber operated by a flight crew of ten. It was 74 feet, 9 inches (22.784 meters) long with a wingspan of 103 feet, 9-3/8 inches (31.633 meters) and an overall height of 19 feet, 1 inch (5.187 meters). Its empty weight was 34,000 pounds (15,422 kilograms), 40,437 pounds (18,342 kilograms) loaded, and the maximum takeoff weight was 56,500 pounds (25,628 kilograms).
The B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps’ performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances. The B-17F variants were the primary versions flying for the Eighth Air Force to face the Germans in 1943, and had standardized the manned Sperry ball turret for ventral defense, replacing the earlier, ten-panel well-framed bombardier’s nose glazing from the B subtype with an enlarged, nearly frameless Plexiglas bombardier’s nose enclosure for improved forward vision. The air corps (renamed United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941), using the B-17 and other bombers, bombed from high altitudes using the then-secret Norden bombsight, known as the “Blue Ox,” which was an optical electro-mechanical gyro-stabilized analog computer. The device was able to determine, from variables input by the bombardier, the point at which the aircraft’s bombs should be released to hit the target. The bombardier essentially took over flight control of the aircraft during the bomb run, maintaining a level altitude during the final moments before release. Before the advent of long-range fighter escorts, B-17s had only their .50 caliberM2 Browning machine guns to rely on for defense during the bombing runs over Europe. As the war intensified, Boeing used feedback from aircrews to improve each new variant with increased armament and armor. The number of defensive guns increased from four 0.50 in machine guns and one 0.30 in nose machine gun in the B-17C, to thirteen 0.50 in machine guns in the B-17G. But because the bombers could not maneuver when attacked by fighters, and needed to be flown straight and level during their final bomb run, individual aircraft struggled to fend off a direct attack. A 1943 survey by the USAAF found that over half the bombers shot down by the Germans had left the protection of the main formation. To address this problem, the United States developed the bomb-group formation, which evolved into the staggered combat box formation where all the B-17s could safely cover any others in their formation with their machine guns, making a formation of the bombers a dangerous target to engage by enemy fighters. Luftwaffe fighter pilots likened attacking a B-17 combat box formation to encountering a fliegendes Stachelschwein, “flying porcupine”, with dozens of machine guns on a combat box formation of bombers, aimed at them from almost every direction. However, the use of this rigid formation meant that individual aircraft could not engage in evasive maneuvers: they had to fly constantly in a straight line, which made them vulnerable to the German flak. Moreover, German fighter aircraft later used the tactic of high-speed strafing passes rather than engaging with individual aircraft to inflict damage with minimum risk. As a result, the B-17s’ loss rate was up to 25% on some early missions (60 of 291 B-17s were lost in combat on the second Raid on Schweinfurt), and it was not until the advent of long-range fighter escorts (particularly the North American P-51 Mustang) resulting in the degradation of the Luftwaffe as an effective interceptor force between February and June 1944, that the B-17 became strategically potent. The B-17 was noted for its ability to absorb battle damage, still reach its target and bring its crew home safely. Wally Hoffman, a B-17 pilot with the Eighth Air Force during World War II, said, “The plane can be cut and slashed almost to pieces by enemy fire and bring its crew home. Martin Caidin reported one instance in which a B-17 suffered a midair collision with a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, losing an engine and suffering serious damage to both the starboard horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer, and being knocked out of formation by the impact. The B-17 was reported as shot down by observers, but it survived and brought its crew home without injury. Its toughness was compensation for its shorter range and lighter bomb load compared to the B-24 and British Avro Lancaster heavy bombers.
Stories circulated B-17s returning to base with tails shredded, engines destroyed and large portions of their wings destroyed by flak. This durability, together with the large operational numbers in the Eighth Air Force and the fame achieved by the Memphis Belle, made the B-17 a key bomber aircraft of the war. Other factors such as combat effectiveness and political issues also contributed to the B-17’s success. The B-17 Flying Fortress first flew in 1935, and was in production from 1937 to 1945. 12,731 B-17s were built by Boeing, Douglas Aircraft Company and Lockheed-Vega. (The Manufacturer Codes, -BO, -DL and -VE, follow the Block Number in each airplane’s type designation.) 3,405 of the total were B-17Fs, with 2,000 built by Boeing, 605 by Douglas and 500 by Lockheed-Vega. Only three B-17F Flying Fortresses remain in existence and one of them can be seen at The Museum of Flight at Seattle’s Boeing Field.
Wilber Wright Remembered
30 May 1912: Wilbur Wright, co-inventor with his brother Orville of the Wright Flyer, the first powered, controllable, heavier-than-air vehicle, died at the family home in Dayton, Ohio, of typhoid fever.
Last James Dean Photo
This is the last known official photo shoot of James Dean before his death which occurred later this same day in 1955. Here he sits in the infamous Porsche 550 Spyder he named “Little Bastard.”
One of the creepy tales surrounding Dean and his deathmobile, is when he met up with actor Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kebobi) to show it off and Guinness told Dean then and there he thought the car had a “sinister” appearance. He went on to tell Dean: “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” Seven days later, Dean was killed in his beloved “Little Bastard.” And it doesn’t stop there, this Porsche is believed to be cursed because after killing James Dean, but it’s killed and maimed others who came in contact with it over the years! That part is not true.
I got to work this morning and my boss told me ‘have a good day’, so I went home and had a great day!
US Criticizes China’s Militarization of South China Sea
It’s a we’re watching you kind of response, Military Times is reporting The Pentagon criticized what it called China’s “continued militarization” of island outposts in the disputed South China Sea, where the Chinese air force landed long-range bombers for the first time, putting entire Southeast Asia within their range. The China Daily newspaper reported Saturday that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force conducted takeoff and landing training with the H-6K bomber (below left) in the South China Sea. China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves. A statement from the Defense Ministry late Friday said the exercise was conducted on an island reef, but it did not specify when or where, saying only that it took place recently at a “southern sea area.” It involved several H-6Ks taking off from an air base and making a simulated strike against sea targets before landing, the ministry said. Wang Mingliang, a military expert, was quoted in the statement as saying that the exercises will help the air force improve its “real combat ability against all kinds of marine security threats.” The U.S., which doesn’t have any territorial claims but insists on freedom of navigation and a peaceful resolution of the disputes without coercion or threat of force, criticized the move. “The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, said in an email. “We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region.” The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, using Chinese social media posts, identified the location of the exercise as Woody Island, China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands that are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. With a combat radius of nearly 1,900 nautical miles (3,520 kilometers), the H-6K bomber would put all of Southeast Asia in its range from Woody Island, AMTI said. Farther south in the Spratly group of islands, China has constructed seven man-made islands and equipped them with runways, hangers, radar and missile stations, further cementing its vast territorial claims in the busy waterway. The U.S. and others accuse Beijing of militarizing the region to bolster its claims. Washington has said it violates a pledge by President Xi Jinping to former President Barack Obama not to militarize the area. China says it has a legitimate right to build up defenses on the islands. Adm. Phil Davidson, the new head of the Pacific Command, said recently that China had reached the tipping point in its control over the South China Sea. Beijing’s island bases can be used to challenge the U.S. presence in the region, “and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants,” Davidson wrote in recent testimony to Congress. And as an aside, The Philippines has expressed “serious concerns” and vowed to take “appropriate diplomatic action” over Chinese long-range bombers operating in disputed areas of the South China Sea. No indication as to what would be considered “appropriate diplomatic action” might be.
I’m hearing the periodic message sent you subscribers out there is not reaching you in a timely manner. You might check your junk mail and see if it’s there or another folder. Sometimes recurring messages get sent there. I’m getting my best FOD IT guy working on it to see if I can make some changes from this end. Thanks. And I know I’m a bit late getting this edition out. I’ve been writing, just not publishing.
FOD Saying of the Day
Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. Albert Einstein
Xi Secures Power In Perpetuity
The path was cleared on Sunday for China’s Xi Jinping to rule the country indefinitely as its rubber-stamp parliament passed a constitutional amendment removing presidential term limits. The amendment was passed almost – but not quite – unanimously, with two “no” votes and three abstentions, against 2,957 in favor. I don’t think those “no voters” are around anymore. Party members’ loyalty belied a wave of criticism of the move among internet users, a wave which censors have taken care to extinguish. The amendment was revealed by the Communist Party just last month. Delegates to the National People’s Congress, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, applauded after each vote in what comes as China’s first constitutional amendment in 14 years. Had members rejected it, it would have been the first time a party diktat had ever failed to pass. Xi, 64, has consolidated power since 2012, when he was appointed party general secretary, the country’s top office. The position has no term limits, but his two predecessors both gave it up after two terms as part of the “orderly process” established by Deng. The presidency is a largely ceremonial office, but the now-abolished constitutional limits meant Xi would have had to give it up in 2023. Before Sunday’s vote, US President Donald Trump had joked that Xi was “now president for life.” As the holder of the top offices of party, state and military, Xi is also referred to as China’s “paramount” leader; and, in 2016, he was officially designated “core” leader by the party. His accumulation of titles has also earned him the nickname “Chairman of Everything.” Under Xi’s leadership, China has experienced tighter restrictions on civil society, including detentions of activists and lawyers, and ever-stricter internet controls. Simultaneously, he has purged many officials, and sidelined potential rivals, by means of a relentless ‘crackdown on corruption’ that seems yet to have run its course. “I think that during the past five years, he has been carrying out a soft coup, including making the Politburo a mere figurehead,” Chinese political commentator Wu Qiang told AFP, referring to the 25-member Communist Party body one notch under the ruling council. “He wants to prevent power from falling into the hands of technocrats like Jiang (Zemin) and Hu (Jintao),” Wu added, referring to Xi’s two predecessors. So what does it all mean for the Chinese people? Dissenting is becoming even more risky. The room for debate becomes narrower. The risk of a policy mistake becomes higher. Correcting a flawed policy will take longer.
I prefer my kale with a silent k in a pint frosted mug
Navy Likely To Offer Greater Pay For Aviators
In some previous editions of FOD I have mentioned the USAF is offering greater financial incentives to their pilots to stay on active duty. Now Navy Times is reporting the Navy is struggling to retain experienced aviators and may need to offer aviation incentive pay and aviation bonuses to help remedy the problem, Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke told Congress in a written statement submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “We continue to face challenges within some historically retention-challenged communities, particularly among aviators in specific model/type/series platforms,” Burke said in his statement. The communities at risk include strike fighter (VFA), electronic attack (VAQ) and helicopter mine countermeasure (HM) squadrons. Burke said these squadrons did not retain enough O-4 pilots to meet operational department head requirements. The reserves are facing aviator shortages in the same communities, as well as in maritime patrol (VP) and fleet logistics (VR) squadrons. Burke told Congress that aviation incentive pay and bonuses are the most effective incentives for retaining pilots, but the Navy is also considering non-monetary incentives like geographic stability for orders and training and educational opportunities. Aviation readiness has been a persistent problem for the Navy. Last October, only one-third of the Navy’s Super Hornet fighter jets were fully mission-capable and ready to fight. Last March, Burke spoke before Congress about the need to increase retention bonuses for O-4 fighter, electronic attack and mine countermeasure pilots, the same communities facing retention shortfalls today. From experience aircraft availability and monthly flight time increase job satisfaction and that leads to increased pilot retention.
Navy’s Stealth Destroyers Getting A New Mission – Killing Ships
I’ve mentioned here a couple times the new Zumwalt-class destroyers needed a new munitions round to replace the Long Range Land Attack Projectile that was cancelled because of its completely ridicules cost per round. Now Defense Times is reporting the Navy has a new vision for what its enormous high-tech destroyers will do: Killing enemy warships at extended ranges. The Navy is asking Congress to fund a conversion of its 600-foot stealth destroyers from primarily a land attack ship to an anti-surface, offensive strike platform, according to budget documents released Feb. 12. The service’s 2019 budget request includes a request for $89.7 million to transform its Zumwalt-class destroyers by integrating Raytheon’s long-range SM-6 missile, which can dual hat as both an anti-air and anti-surface missile, as well as its Maritime Strike variant of the Tomahawk missile. Converting DDG-1000 into a hunter-killer is a win for the surface warfare community’s years-long drive to beef up the force’s offensive capabilities. It also answers the bell for U.S. Pacific Command, which has been pushing for the Navy to add longer range weapons to offset the increasing threat from Chinese long-range missile technology. The SM-6 is a versatile missile that the Navy has been excited about. In August, the Navy shot down a medium-range ballistic missile target with the SM-6, which uses a fragmenting explosion near its target as the kill mechanism. This is different from the SM-3 Block IIA in development that hits its target directly. It can also be used to hit surface targets at sea and on land from hundreds of miles away. The Navy is planning to buy 625 of the SM-6 over the next five years. For the Maritime Tomahawk, Raytheon is integrating a new seeker into its tried-and-true strike missile for long-range ship-on-ship engagements. The decision to switch the requirements from a land-attack platform to an anti-surface platform came in November following a review of the requirements, according to the documents. “After a comprehensive review of Zumwalt class requirements, Navy decided in November 2017 to refocus the primary mission of the Zumwalt Class Destroyers from Land Attack to Offensive Surface Strike,” the documents read. “The funding requested in [FY19] will facilitate this change in mission and add lethal, offensive fires against targets afloat and ashore.” USNI News first reported in December that the Navy was eyeing converting the Zumwalt to a surface strike platform. The lead ship in the class, Zumwalt, is currently getting an overhaul and combat systems installation in San Diego. The Michael Monsoor, the second in the class, completed acceptance trials this month. Getting a surface strike platform in the Pacific fits snugly in with the distributed lethality concept that was championed by former Naval Surface Force Pacific commander Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden. Rowden argued that surface ships can and should be used in an offensive capacity, not just be relegated to the defense of the aircraft carrier. By adding long-range systems to every kind of ship, Rowden argued, it forces potential adversaries to expend resources looking not just for destroyers and cruisers but also littoral combat ships and even amphibious ships that have not had a strike role in the past. In testimony submitted Feb. 14 to the House Armed Services Committee, PACOM commander ADMHarry B. Harris Jr., USN said China’s advancing capabilities made investing in long-range systems for his theater is a must. All three of the Zumwalt-class destroyers will be based in the Pacific. “I need increased lethality, specifically ships and aircraft equipped with faster and more survivable weapons systems,” Harris wrote. “Longer range offensive weapons on every platform are an imperative.” The money requested in 2019 also funds a combat systems refresh, a datalink upgrade and some new signals intelligence collection equipment. It also goes after some cyber-security hardening and replacing components of the ship’s computing systems that are becoming obsolete. Funds will also be expended replacing displays for consoles that run the ship’s computing systems, known as the Common Display System . There are about 40 consoles that use the display per hull and 22 on the class’s shore trainer. “The CDS variant on Zumwalt class are unique configuration based on a 10 year old design and should be aligned with ongoing modernization efforts in the Fleet.” One thing the budget isn’t funding is a new round for the ship’s purpose-built Advanced Gun System. In late 2016, the service canceled its Long Range Land Attack Projectile, which cost about a million dollars per round, and has struggled to come up with a replacement round for the gun. “The Advanced Gun Systems will remain on the ships, but in an inactive status for future use, when a gun round that can affordably meet the desired capability is developed and fielded,” the documents read. In January, Zumwalt’s former commanding officer, Capt. James Kirk, said the Navy was in a holding pattern on the guns. While the service is keeping an eye on a couple key technologies that could fill in the gap left by LRLAP, “there is not a plan right now for a specific materiel solution for the replacement round,” Kirk told reporters at the Surface Navy Association symposium. “We continue to monitor industry’s development and technical maturation. An example of that is the Hyper Velocity Projectile,” he said, referring to a high speed guided munition made by BAE Systems and originally developed for use in electromagnetic rail guns. “We’re monitoring that technical maturation to see do we get there to get the kind of ranges and capabilities we want, that’s the right bang for the buck, cost to capability, for the Navy. We’re monitoring that, but we have not made a decision for that yet.” The Navy got in its present pickle with the 155mm/62-caliber gun with automated magazine and handling system because the service cut the buy from 28 ships, to seven, and finally to three. The AGS, the largest U.S. naval gun system since World War II, was developed specifically for the Zumwalt class, as was the LRLAP round it was intended to shoot. There was no backup plan so when the buy went from 28 to thee, the costs stayed static, driving the price of the rounds through the roof. “We were going to buy thousands of these rounds,” said a Navy official familiar with the program told Defense News at the time. “But quantities of ships killed the affordable round.”
‘US Presence Matters’ Says Admiral on Carrier in the South China Sea
I spend considerable effort pointing out the emerging battle for influence and control of communication and navigational freedom between China and the US now playing out in the South China Sea. It’s not being covered in the mainstream media, but it is a growing struggle and a mission the US military will have to deal with over the next few years. Well at least our military leaders are realizing the importance of being there, of maintaining freedom of navigation rights for the US as well as all countries is vitally important for the future. Military Times is reporting with a deafening roar the fighter jets catapulted off the US aircraft carrier and soared above the disputed South China Sea, as its admiral vowed that the mighty ship’s presence was proof America still had regional clout. “US presence matters,” Rear Admiral John Fuller (USNA ’87) told reporters on board the USS Carl Vinson. “I think it’s very clear that we are in the South China Sea. We are operating.” The Carl Vinson, one of the US Navy‘s longest-serving active carriers, is currently conducting what officials say is a routine mission through the hotly contested waters where years of island reclamation and military construction by Beijing has rattled regional nerves. Following criticism that the Trump administration’s commitment to the Asian region has been distracted by North Korea, reporters were flown onto the ship Wednesday as it sailed through the sea. In a rapid series of take-offs and landings, F-18 fighter jets roared off the deck, travelling from zero to 290 kilometers (180 miles) per hour in a dizzying two seconds. Fuller, commander of the Carl Vinson Strike Group, said the thousand-foot-long ship’s presence was a way to reassure allies. “The nations in the Pacific are maritime nations,” he said. “They value stability … That’s exactly what we are here for. This is a very visible and tangible presence. The United States is here again.” But the location of the strike group — which includes a carrier air wing and a guided-missile cruiser — is also a very direct message to China, whether US officials admit it or not. Its voyage comes just a month after the Pentagon’s national defense strategy labeled China a “strategic competitor” that bullies its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Beijing claims most of the South China Sea — believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits and through which $5 trillion in trade passes annually — and has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes. The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims in the sea. Compared to the 11 active aircraft carriers in the US Navy, China currently boasts just one carrier. But the rising Asian superpower has made no secret of its desire to build up its naval forces and become much more regionally assertive. Last month Beijing said it had dispatched a warship to drive away a US missile destroyer which had “violated” its sovereignty by sailing close to a shoal in the South China Sea. Major naval nations like the US, Britain and Australia are determined not to let China dictate who can enter the strategic waters. They have pushed “freedom of navigation” operations in which naval vessels sail close to Chinese-claimed militarized islets in the South China Sea. “We will follow what international rule says and we will respect (it), even if there are disputes there,” Fuller said. The nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson — the ship that took Osama Bin Laden’s body for burial at sea — began a regular deployment in the Western Pacific last month. The carrier is home to 5,300 sailors, pilots, and other crew members as well as 72 aircraft. Washington has announced plans for it to dock in Vietnam — a first for the communist nation which is rattled by China’s expansionism in the sea and has forged a growing alliance with its former foe the US. Britain said on Tuesday it will sail its own warship from Australia through the South China Sea next month to assert freedom of navigation rights in support of the US approach. But alliances are shifting. The Philippines, a US treaty ally, was once the strongest critic of Beijing’s expansionism in the South China Sea, successfully winning a tribunal case in The Hague over their claims. But it has changed course under President Rodrigo Duterte in a bid for billions of dollars worth of Chinese investment. Duterte last week said it was not time to fight China over the row, adding the Philippines should “not meddle” with Washington and Beijing’s competition for superpower status. In Wednesday’s trip, the USS Carl Vinson hosted top Duterte aides and key Philippine military officers. Duterte’s communications secretary Martin Andanar described the carrier as “very impressive” and its equipment “massive”. Asked if Manila welcomed US patrols in the disputed area, Andanar told reporters: “The United States has been a big brother of the Philippines, a military ally.”
Most Bold and Daring Act of the Age
When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated in March of 1801, he inherited troubled relations with the Barbary states — the Ottoman Regencies of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, along with independent Morocco. The United States had treaties with all four, but tension was high and rising. American representatives in the region wanted an American naval presence. They regularly, if less eloquently, echoed the 1793 view of their colleague in Lisbon: “When we can appear in the Ports of the various Powers, or on the Coast, of Barbary, with Ships of such force as to convince those nations that We are able to protect our trade, and to compel them if necessary to keep faith with Us, then, and not before, We may probably secure a large share of the Medit trade, which would largely and speedily compensate the U. S. for the Cost of a maritime force amply sufficient to keep all those Pirates in Awe, and also make it their interest to keep faith.” Commodore Edward Preble (left) assumed command of the U.S. Mediterranean Squadron in 1803. By October of that year Preble had begun a blockade of Tripoli harbor during the First Barbary War (1801–1805). The first significant action of the blockade came on 31 October 1803 when USS Philadelphia cruised off Tripoli gave chase and fired upon a pirate ship. Philadelphia ran aground on an uncharted reef two miles off Tripoli Harbor. The captain, William Bainbridge, tried to refloat her, first laying the sails aback, and casting off three bow anchors and shifting the guns aft. But a strong wind and rising waves drove her further aground. Next they jettisoned many of her cannons, barrels of water, and other heavy articles overboard in order to make her lighter, but this too failed. They then sawed off the foremast in one last desperate attempt to lighten her. All of these attempts failed and Bainbridge, in order not to resupply the pirates, ordered holes drilled in the ship’s bottom, gunpowder dampened, sails set afire and all other weapons thrown overboard before surrendering. Her officers and men were made slaves of the Pasha (or Bashaw). Philadelphia was eventually refloated by her captors and converted to a gun battery within the Tripoli harbor, as they attempted to make her serve as a fighting ship once more. Thus she was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in the hands of the Tripolitans, so a decision was made to recapture or destroy her. The U.S. had captured the Tripolitan ketchMastico, renamed her Intrepid, and re-rigged the ship with short masts and triangular sails to look like a local ship. On February 16, 1804, under the cover of night and in the guise of a ship in distress that had lost all anchors in a storm and needed a place to tie up, Intrepid was sailed by a volunteer assaulting party of officers and men under Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. (right) next to Philadelphia. The assault party boarded Philadelphia, and after making sure that she was not seaworthy, burned the ship where she lay in Tripoli Harbor. Lord Horatio Nelson, known as a man of action and bravery, is said to have called this “the most bold and daring act of the Age.” Even Pope Pius VII stated, “The United States, though in their infancy, have done more to humble the anti-Christian barbarians on the African coast than all the European states had done. Her anchor was returned to the United States on April 7, 1871, when the Bashaw presented it to the captain of the visiting Guerriere.
Remember the Maine! A massive explosion of unknown origin sinks the battleship USS Maine (ACR-1) in Havana Harbor, (photo is of Maine arriving in Havana Harbor) killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard. One of the first American battleships, the Maine weighed more than 6,000 tons and was built at a cost of more than $2 million. Sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain, she exploded suddenly, without warning, and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry investigated. Nevertheless, popular opinion in the U.S., fanned by inflammatory articles printed in the “yellow press” by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, blamed Spain. The phrase, “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain”, became a rallying cry for action, which came with the Spanish–American War later that year. While the sinking of Maine was not a direct cause for action, it served as a catalyst, accelerating the approach to a diplomatic impasse between the U.S. and Spain. Admiral Hyman G. Rickover became intrigued with the disaster and began a private investigation, in 1974. Using information from the two official inquiries, newspapers, personal papers and information on the construction and ammunition of Maine, it was concluded that the explosion was not caused by a mine. Instead, spontaneous combustion of coal dust in the bunker, next to magazine, was speculated to be the most likely cause. Rickover published a book about this investigation, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed, in 1976. The Maine‘s foremast resides at the U.S. Naval Academy.
“Billy the Kid” Takes First American Gold Medal in Downhill
I haven’t commented on the Olympics in FOD, but generally I’d like to see more of the other events (well maybe not curling). But looking back a bit, William Dean “Bill” Johnson (March 30, 1960 – January 21, 2016) was an American World Cupalpine ski racer. He was the first American male to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing, winning the downhill at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. He was the first racer (of either gender) from outside the Alps to win an Olympic downhill. He moved with his family to Boise, Idaho, when he was seven. He learned to ski at Bogus Basin in the late 1960s. After a run-in with the law at age 17, the juvenile defendant was given the choice between six months in jail or attending the Mission Ridge ski academy in central Washington State, and he chose the latter. In 1984 at age 23, Johnson challenged the long-established European domination of downhill ski racing. Even some of his teammates considered the 23-year-old Mr. Johnson a brash upstart, as he reveled in his image as the bad boy of skiing. He was called “Billy the Kid.” “Basically, any downhill skier is a daredevil, and I’m no exception,” he said before the Winter Games in the former Yugoslavia. “I like to drive cars faster than 100 [miles per hour]. I like to go over bumps in my car and get airborne. I like to drink. I chase girls full time, but I only drink part time.” A month later at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia), he had promising downhill training runs on a course that favored his gliding style. He boldly predicted his Olympic victory, evoking comparisons to Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali, and irking his European competitors. His gold medal win at Bjelašnica in a time of 1:45.59 edged out silver medalist Peter Müller of Switzerland by 0.27 seconds. True to form, when asked in the post-race press conference what his victory meant to him, he exclaimed, “Millions, man, we’re talkin’ millions!” His career faded abruptly after the Olympics and his attempted comeback ended abruptly on March 22, 2001, when Johnson crashed during a training run prior to the downhill race of the 2001 U.S. Alpine Championships, held at The Big Mountain near Whitefish, Montana. He sustained serious injury to the left side of his brain, nearly bit off his tongue, and was comatose for three weeks. He required continual care thereafter and passed fifteen years later at age 55.
The first YF-104A flew on 17 February 1956, and with the other 16 trial aircraft, were soon carrying out aircraft and equipment evaluation and tests. Modifications were made to the aircraft including airframe strengthening and adding a ventral fin. Problems were encountered with the J-79 afterburner; further delays were caused by the need to add AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Test pilot Herman Richard (“Fish”) Salmon made the first flight of the Lockheed YF-104A service test prototype, Air Force serial number 55-2955 (Lockheed serial number 183-1001) on February 17, 1956. This airplane, the first of seventeen pre-production YF-104As, incorporated many improvements over the XF-104 prototype, the most visible being a longer fuselage. The two photos below show the fuselage differences.
On 28 February 1956, YF-104A 55-2955 became the first aircraft to reach Mach 2 in level flight. The YF-104A was later converted to the production standard and redesignated F-104A. One of the Century Series of fighter aircraft, it was operated by the air forces of more than a dozen nations from 1958 to 2004. Its design team was led by Kelly Johnson, who contributed to the development of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Lockheed U-2, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and other Lockheed aircraft. A total of 2,578 F-104s was produced by Lockheed and under license by various foreign manufacturers.
(Right) Lockheed test pilots Anthony W. (“Tony”) LeVier, on the left, and Herman R. (“Fish”) Salmon, circa 1957. An F-104 Starfighter is in the background. (Jet Pilot Overseas)