FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 22nd through 27th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property. – Thomas Jefferson


FOD Trivia Question

What 15th century mathematician, physicist, and astronomer who is said to have set the Renaissance’s scientific revolution in motion, pulling modern science out of a magician’s hat of speculative natural philosophy?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

The first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States was held on Saturday, March 4, 1933.  After taking the oath of office, Roosevelt proceeded to deliver his 1,883-word, 20 minute-long inaugural address, best known for his famously pointed reference to “fear itself” in one of its first lines:  So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. The phrase “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” is actually paraphrased from an earlier adage: “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”  This was originally penned in 1841 by what famous nature-loving philosopher and author?  Answer – Henry David Thoreau.



Senator John McCain Will Rest Where His Service To Our Nation Began

According to Military Times Sen. John McCain’s service to his country began more than six decades ago at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis (Class of ’58) and will end there in a cemetery overlooking Maryland’s Severn River.  A private burial service next Sunday will conclude nearly a week of events honoring the Navy aviator, prisoner of war, congressman, longtime senator and presidential contender. The Arizona Republican died of brain cancer Saturday at 81 at his ranch near Sedona.  McCain will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on August 29 (McCain’s birthday), followed by a service at North Phoenix Baptist Church on August 30. His body will travel to Washington to lie in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol on August 31, before a service at the Washington National Cathedral on September 1. He was a “lifelong Episcopalian” who attended, but did not join, a Southern Baptist church for at least 17 years; memorial services were scheduled in both denominations.  He will be buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery, next to his Naval Academy classmate Admiral Charles R. Larson.  Tributes were widely given on social media, including from Congressional colleagues, all living former Presidents – Jimmy CarterGeorge H. W. BushBill ClintonGeorge W. BushBarack Obama – and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Vice President Mike Pence.  Colonel Trần Trọng Duyệt, who ran the Hỏa Lò Prison when McCain was held there, remarked “At that time I liked him personally for his toughness and strong stance. Later on, when he became a US Senator, he and Senator John Kerry greatly contributed to promote [Vietnam]-US relations so I was very fond of him. When I learnt about his death early this morning, I feel very sad. I would like to send condolences to his family.”  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would introduce a resolution to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain.  His family’s military tradition extends to the latest generation: son John Sidney IV (“Jack”) graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009, becoming the fourth generation John S. McCain to do so, and is a helicopter pilot; son James served two tours with the Marines in the Iraq War; and son Doug flew jets in the Navy. President Donald Trump was not expected to attend any of the services. McCain had long feuded with Trump, and two White House officials said McCain’s family had asked, before the senator’s death, that Trump not attend services. Vice President Mike Pence is likely to attend, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.  Trump noted the senator’s death in a tweet Saturday: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” First lady Melania Trump tweeted thanks to McCain for his service to the country.  Bush and Obama had been McCain’s political opponents, too, blocking his White House ambitions in 2000 and 2008, respectively. “These were bitter contests, both of them,” Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and “to ask them to speak at your funeral, and for them to be honored at the opportunity, that tells you all you need to know.”  One of McCain’s long-serving Senate colleagues, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday, “The nation mourns the loss of a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service.”  Senator McCain penned a farewell message before he died that appears to take thinly veiled shots at President Donald Trump for fanning the flames of “tribal rivalries” and hiding “behind walls.”  The moving message, a personal tribute to America and its people, was read to the public Monday by Rick Davis, a close friend of McCain’s and the national campaign manager of the Arizona Republican’s 2008 and 2000 presidential campaigns.  Speaking of country’s best qualities, McCain wrote that “we weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all corners of the globe.”  “We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been,” Davis, holding back tears, said as he read McCain’s message in Phoenix.  “Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,” McCain wrote. “Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”  “To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures,” McCain wrote. “Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.  “‘Fellow Americans’ — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 22nd through 27th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 15th through 17th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

All you have to know about celery is that it’s made up of 95% water, and it’s 100% not pizza.

MLB All Star Game

It was a great night for baseball at the 89th All Star Game. 29 Medal of Honor winners were present and honored before the game.  Both teams featured young players who really seemed to be enjoying themselves.  10 home runs were hit, a new All Star Game record.  Astros teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer went back to back leading off the 10th inning against Ross Stripling, propelling the American League to an 8-6 win over the National League in a wild, dinger-driven Midsummer Classic. Bregman’s heroics earned him the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award.  A note: Aaron Judge was warming up just prior to his first at bat.  They cut away for a few seconds to show a surprise return of a service man to his family.  The cameras all showed the reunion of this young military family.  Judge put down his bat, removed his batting gloves and lent his applause to that of the crowd.  He put his gloves back on, grabbed his bat and took a fast ball out of the park.  He becomes the youngest Yankee to hit a home run in an All Star Game.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 15th through 17th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 10th through 14th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Someone keeps putting vegetables in my beer crisper!


Mattis Says US is 100% Committed to NATO

After much confusing rhetoric from President Trump regarding NATO, Military Times is reporting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to clear up possible confusion on the U.S. commitment to NATO by declaring Thursday that President Donald Trump is “100 percent” in support of the alliance.  Despite Trump’s clashes with NATO members over their defense spending, Mattis said the 29-member alliance is “stronger today than it was yesterday, stronger today than it was a month ago, stronger today than it was a year ago.”  He said the U.S. commitment to NATO and members’ pledges to mutual defense are “exactly as the president described it — 100 percent committed to NATO,” Reuters reported.  Mattis made the comments to reporters traveling with him as he left the NATO summit in Brussels for talks with military counterparts in NATO-member countries Croatia and then Norway on alliance readiness initiatives along NATO’s southern and northern flanks.  On Wednesday, Mattis was a silent witness at a series of meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where Trump berated and argued with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others. Trump demanded that all NATO members spend at least two percent of their gross domestic products on defense and possibly double that to four percent.  Trump threw out statistics that appeared to be wildly off the mark. He charged that the U.S. is paying 90 percent of NATO’s costs, although NATO officials maintain that the U.S. contribution is about 22 percent.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Merkel rejected the demands, but Trump on Thursday claimed success.  At a hastily arranged news conference before leaving Brussels, he said, “I let them [NATO members] know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening. People are paying, money that they never paid before, and the U.S. is being treated much more fairly.”  The president and first lady Melania Trump later flew to Britain, where he will spend the weekend before leaving next week for Helsinki, Finland, and a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


USN Dedicates Japan-Based Destroyer To US Senator John McCain

Navy Times is reporting The secretary of the Navy added U.S. Sen. John McCain’s name Thursday to a warship that had already been named for the Arizona lawmaker’s father and grandfather, both former Navy admirals.  The re-dedication ceremony took place aboard the USS John S. McCain at an American base in Japan. Scaffolding covered the mast of the guided-missile destroyer, which is undergoing extensive repairs after a deadly collision, one of two last year that led to charges against senior ship officers and a highly critical review of Navy procedures and policies.  Richard Spencer, the Navy secretary, told reporters that recommended changes in operations have been 78 percent implemented. Some have been completed, he said, while others such as instilling a culture of continuous learning will take two years.  “I think we’re well underway,” Spencer said at Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo.  Seventeen sailors died after the USS Fitzgerald and then the McCain collided with commercial vessels in the Pacific Ocean in June and August of 2017.  The three generations of McCains share the same name, John Sidney McCain, though they went or go by Sidney, Jack and John, from oldest to youngest. Their naval careers overlapped in World War II and Vietnam.  “It’s a name in three parts, and a name that has three stories,” Spencer said.  Sidney joined the Navy in the early 20th century and was an aircraft carrier task force commander in World War II. His son Jack was a submarine commander in World War II who rose to be head of the U.S. Pacific Command during the Vietnam War.  John was a naval aviator who was captured in Vietnam, where he was held for five years and tortured.  “Sen. McCain has proven that even the most difficult challenges can become sources of great strength,” Micah Murphy, the commander of the USS McCain, told his crew at the ceremony, alluding to the challenges they face as they work with repair teams to get the ship back to sea.  The guided-missile destroyer, which had a gaping hole in its side after the collision, was launched in 1994.  “Sidney, Jack and John. Three distinguished officers. Three truly remarkable Americans,” Spencer said.  McCain, who is battling brain cancer, said he looks back with gratitude on his formative years in the Navy.  “I hope the generations of sailors who will serve aboard the USS McCain will find the same fulfillment that my family does in serving a cause greater than oneself,” the 81-year-old lawmaker said in a news release from his office.  Spencer said the Navy hopes to return the warship to service next spring.


President Trump Wants To Update Air Force One’s Design

After threatening Boeing with cancellation of updating Boeing’s VC-25 aircraft, a B-747 derivative aircraft, it would appear he would like to improve the aircraft while he’s in office.  I hope this was all a joke, but according to USA Today and According to Axios, the president met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg earlier this year to discuss using 747s as Air Force One. (The designation is used for whatever plane the president is on at the time, but it’s typically a Boeing VC-25.) The deal would reportedly cost $4 billion and likely wouldn’t lead to new planes available for use until 2021.  But he’s not just leaning toward a different aircraft. He also reportedly wants a new look. Specifically, one that incorporates red, white and blue.  Graphics artists here at the USA TODAY Network imagined what that could look like.  The current design of Air Force One, with the signature blue and white colors, dates back to the Kennedy administration. Per Axios, Trump doesn’t think that the current blue — a “luminous aquamarine” — is very American.  But presidential historian Michael Beschloss told Axios that the color was picked by JFK himself, back in 1962.  “Why would anyone want to discard an Air Force One design that evokes more than a half-century of American history?” he said. 


USAF Pilots Reporting Increased Hypoxia Events is reporting the US Air Force has yet to find the cause for a surge of hypoxia-like incidents in a wide variety of aircraft but has ruled out the possibility that pilots could be mistaking symptoms in some cases.  “We know for a fact what our pilots are experiencing in the airplanes — our pilots are not making things up” when they report incidents, Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark C. Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations, told after an aviation safety hearing last month before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness. In an interview last week, Col. William Mueller, director of the Air Force-Pilot Physicians Program, backed up Nowland on the veracity of pilot reports of hypoxia-like symptoms, including shortness of breath, confusion and wheezing while in aircraft ranging from trainers to the most advanced fighters.  “It’s real stuff; people are not making this up,” said Mueller, a pilot with a medical degree who also serves as career manager for Air Force medical officers who are qualified as pilots and flight surgeons.  Mueller is working with a team of Air Force investigators, in coordination with the Navy and NASA, that is attempting to pinpoint causes for what the Air Force calls Unexplained Physiological Events (UPEs) experienced by pilots.  Air Force officials, in studies and in congressional hearings, have outlined three possibilities: failures in the oxygen delivery system, contaminants in the system, and unusual levels of carbon dioxide.  At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in April, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said, “We don’t have the smoking gun yet” in the search for a root cause of the incidents, “and we’re not going to stop until we find it.”  Although the cause remains a mystery, Goldfein said the service has gained valuable knowledge since a series of incidents in 2010 involving F-22 Raptors, the most advanced U.S. fighters.  In November 2010, Air Force Capt. Jeff Haney was killed in the crash of his F-22 on a training mission in Alaska. The controversial Air Force investigation found that Haney suffered “severe restricted breathing” during the flight but still ruled that pilot error was the main cause of the crash.  There were 11 other hypoxia-type incidents involving F-22s between 2008 and 2011, according to the Air Force, and much of the concern at the time was with the On-Board Oxygen Generation Systems, or OBOGS. It was developed in the 1980s as a source of limitless oxygen for pilots and a replacement for the canisters of compressed liquid or gaseous oxygen that had been used previously.  The OBOGS was designed to draw air from the plane’s engine compressor before combustion and run it through a series of scrubbers to remove nitrogen.  Although the focus was on the OBOGS in the F-22 investigation, the Air Force later concluded the problem was with a valve controlling the pilot’s pressure vest, which could allow the vest to inflate and restrict the pilot’s ability to breathe.  Since then, the service has worked with engineers, physiologists, contractors and operators of various types of aircraft to get a broader understanding of the problem, Goldfein said at the April hearing.  In examining the F-22 incidents, the Air Force concluded the problem likely was not hypoxia, an oxygen deficiency, but rather hypocapnia, a condition of too little carbon dioxide in the blood that can be caused by hyperventilation, he said.  In addition to hypoxia and hypocapnia, the Air Force also had to be concerned with hypercapnia, an excessive amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, Mueller said in the interview with  “There are a lot of possible medical explanations,” but none has been pinned down, he said.  Since last year, the Air Force has acknowledged a series of hypoxia-type incidents in aircraft including the F-35A Joint Strike FighterA-10 Thunderbolt, and T-6 Texan II trainer, and a recurrence in the F-22.  As reported by’s Oriana Pawlyk, the Air Force in February ordered an indefinite operational pause for all T-6 trainer aircraft following reports of hypoxia-type incidents.  The 19th Air Force, part of the Air Education and Training Command, issued the guidance after a rash of unexplained physiological events reported by pilots at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma; and Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.  “We’re acting swiftly, making temporary, but necessary, changes to everyone’s training, general awareness, checklist procedures, and [may] possibly modify aircrew flying equipment to mitigate risk to the aircrew while we tackle this issue head-on to safeguard everyone flying T-6s,” Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, 19th Air Force commander, said in a release.  The Navy has teamed up with the Air Force to investigate its own hypoxia-type incidents involving the F/A-18E/F Super HornetEA-18G Growler and T-45 Goshawk trainers.  At the House subcommittee hearing last month with Nowland, Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, said:  “More work remains to be done, and this will remain our top safety priority until we fully understand, and have mitigated, all possible PE [physiological episode] causal factors.”  Nowland said aviation mishaps in general should come down now that Congress has boosted defense spending, allowing for more training and flying hours.  “We can’t find a correlation between flying hours and accidents,” he said, “but our gut as aviators tells us — the more you fly and the more you exercise the jets, good things are going to happen out there.”


Kim Jong Un Continues To Be ‘Nice’ To Trump While Defying Denuclearization

Me thinks Kim Jong Un has Trump’s number.  Speak nice of him to his face and he’ll declare great victories, but don’t do anything.  This from Military Times:  President Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted a letter to him from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heralding “epochal progress” in U.S.-North Korea relations, despite signs that path-finding diplomacy between the adversaries is running into problemsTrump described the letter as a “very nice note” and said, “Great progress being made!”  The letter is dated July 6. That’s when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and seemingly made little progress in fleshing out details of North Korea’s commitment for “complete denuclearization.”  Kim made that commitment when he met Trump in Singapore last month. Kim also agreed then to repatriate remains of U.S. troops who died during the Korean War six decades ago.  A planned meeting Thursday between North Korean and U.S. officials in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas to discuss the return of the remains was postponed.  State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said North Korea called at midday Thursday and offered to meet on Sunday instead. “We will be ready,” she told reporters aboard Pompeo’s plane, as the top U.S. diplomat flew home to Washington after attending a NATO summit.  It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the postponement. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing unnamed sources, said the North requested talks at a higher level. The talks Sunday are expected to involve officials from the Pentagon and the U.N. Command, which commanded U.S.-led allied forces during the war and is involved in maintaining the armistice that ended the fighting in 1953.  Pompeo told reporters after his visit to North Korea last week that the meeting in the truce village Panmunjom was set for Thursday but “could move by one day or two.”  The secretary of state did not meet Kim as he had on his previous two trips to Pyongyang this year, and after his departure, the North’s foreign ministry accused the U.S. of making “gangster-like” demands that it unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons.  Pompeo gave a rosier readout. He reported that the two sides had substantive discussions on next steps toward denuclearization.  During an official visit to Britain, Trump posted images of the Korean-language letter from Kim and its English translation. Kim expresses “invariable trust and confidence” in the president and wishes that “epochal progress” in promoting relations will “bring our next meeting forward.”  But there’s growing skepticism in Washington over the Trump administration’s engagement with North Korea. Recent reports suggest that the North has continued to expand infrastructure at nuclear and missile sites and that U.S. intelligence assesses that the North does not intend to fully denuclearize.  The U.S. says North Korea has continued to smuggle refined petroleum products into the country in excess of the quota of 500,000 barrels per year allowed under U.N. sanctions imposed because of nuclear and missile programs. That’s according to documents seen by The Associated Press on Thursday and sent by the U.S. to the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions.  Trump himself has remained upbeat about the outcome of the first summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea. Earlier Thursday, after attending the NATO summit in Brussels, he told reporters that there were clear signs of progress with North Korea, most notably that no missile and nuclear tests have occurred for almost nine months.


North Korea Continues To Defy UN Sanctions

Did anyone think North Korea would somehow become a trusted member of the world of nations by agreeing to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and allowing basic human rights within the country? Reuters is reporting The United States accused North Korea on Thursday of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea, according to a document seen by Reuters, and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.  The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee. The charge of a sanctions breach comes as Washington engages North Korea in a bid to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.  The North Korea U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.S. accusation. North Korea relies on imported fuel to keep its struggling economy functioning.  The United States said that as of May 30, 89 North Korean tankers had brought in refined petroleum products illicitly obtained in ship-to-ship transfers this year.  The United States did not broadly say which countries it believed were illicitly providing North Korea with refined petroleum. But it does mention one case of a ship-to-ship transfer involving a Russian-flagged ship and one case involving a Belize-flagged ship.  Reuters in December reported that Russian tankers had supplied fuel to North Korea by transferring cargoes at sea.  The 15-member Security Council capped refined petroleum product exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year in December, down from a previous limit, adopted in September, of 2 million barrels a year.  According to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee website, only Russia and China have reported legitimate sales of some 14,000 tons of refined petroleum to North Korea in 2018.  “These sales and any other transfer must immediately stop since the United States believes the DPRK has breached the … refined petroleum products quota for 2018,” the United States said in a document submitted to the committee, using an acronym for North Korea.  The United States provided a list to the Security Council committee of the 89 North Korean tankers and a few select photos, seen by Reuters.  “If fully loaded at around 90 percent laden, DPRK tankers have delivered nearly triple the 2018 quota at 1,367,628 barrels,” the United States said.  It asked the North Korea sanctions committee to issue an urgent note to all U.N. member states notifying them that North Korea has breached the refined petroleum cap and order an immediate halt to all transfers.  The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.  In March the council blacklisted dozens of ships and shipping companies over oil and coal smuggling by North Korea.  Is it time for a ‘quarantine,’ dare I say blockade of North Korean ports?



Philippines Leader Duterte A Willing Victim of China Policy

Critics of the Filipino leader is once again surfacing on several fronts as the anniversary of the Hague-based tribunal ruling nullified China’s vast and completely unreasonable claims to the South China Sea.  They must have been reading FOD!  However Asia Times is reporting the Philippines is celebrating the second anniversary of its landmark arbitration award against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea handed down by an arbitral tribunal in The Hague on 12 July.  Crucially, the award legally nullified China’s expansive “nine-dash-line map” and “historic rights” claims which cover much of the South China Sea.  It also censured the Asian powerhouse for restricting Filipino fishermen’s access to the contested Scarborough Shoal as well as inflicting irreparable ecological damage due to its massive reclamation and island-building activities in the maritime area.  Until now, the Philippines remains sharply divided on how to leverage its arbitration award. Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly downplayed the relevance of the ruling by questioning its enforceability amid China’s vociferous opposition.  Soon after taking office in mid-2016, Duterte declared that he would “set aside” the arbitration award in order to pursue a “soft landing” in bilateral relations with China. In exchange, he has hoped for large-scale Chinese investments as well as resource-sharing in the South China Sea.  (Fireball note: This has meant China’s investment/loans to projects in which Duterte has a personal interest.) China has dismissed the award as a “piece of trash paper”, adopting a “three no’s” policy of non-participation, non-recognition and non-compliance vis-à-vis the award, which, according to international law formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is final and binding.  Other major leaders in the Philippines, however, have taken a tougher stance and continue to try to leverage the award to resist China’s expanding footprint in the area.  The Stratbase-Albert Del Rosario Institute, an influential think tank co-founded by former Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario, hosted today a high-level forum on the topic at the prestigious Manila Polo Club.  Del Rosario oversaw the arbitration proceedings against China under Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino. He opened the event attended by dignitaries from major Western and Asian countries with a strident speech which accused China of trying to “dominate the South China Sea through force and coercion.”  He defended the arbitration award as an “overwhelming victory” to resist “China’s unlawful expansion agenda.”  The ex-top diplomat also accused the Duterte administration of acquiescence to China by acting as an “abettor” and “willing victim” by soft-pedaling the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea and refusing to raise the arbitration award in multilateral fora.  The keynote speaker of the event was Vice President Leni Robredo, who has recently emerged as the de facto leader of the opposition against Duterte. Though falling short of directly naming Duterte, her spirited speech served as a comprehensive indictment of the administration’s policy in the South China Sea.  “Today, more than at any other time, our people must all be keenly aware of how foreign policy affects our daily lives,” warned Robredo, calling on Filipino people to be cognizant of the implications of the South China Sea disputes.  “This is the time for us to peacefully protest any effort to limit or control movement in these waters. As neighbors and friends, we must stand in opposition to military build-ups in the [South China Sea],“ she said.  Robredo thanked the proponents of the arbitration award as national heroes and patriots who have provided the Philippines a line of defense against Chinese aggression: “On behalf of the entire nation, let me say this – we, the Filipino people, are grateful for the bold fight you labored on behalf of all of us.”  “This is the day to celebrate that decision, and this is the day to start planning how we should move forward,” declared the vice-president, calling on the government to use the award as a key bargaining chip.  “Our hard-won victory was a victory of the rule of law and the UNCLOS framework, and provides the foundation for all future engagements in the West Philippine Sea. It also sets the stage for peacefully reclaiming a massive resource, much bigger than our archipelago’s total land area.”

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony in Beijing on October 20, 2016.
Duterte met with his Chinese counterpart Xi on October 20, state media said, as the Philippinesí leader seeks closer ties with the Asian giant while blasting his US allies. / AFP PHOTO / POOL

“Sadly, since then, we have lost that advantage,“ she said, while noting the recent harassment Filipino fisherman have faced by Chinese paramilitary officials in contested areas of the South China Sea.  In June, the government called on China to stop confiscating the catch of Filipino fishermen in the contested area, saying at the time that the practice was “unacceptable.”  Her keynote address, widely covered by the local media, was followed by an even more spirited speech by interim Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, another leading critic of Duterte’s foreign policy.  The chief magistrate, who also oversaw the Philippines’ arbitration proceedings against China, lashed out at Duterte for placing the landmark award in a “deep freeze.”  He called on the Duterte administration to leverage the award by negotiating maritime delimitation agreements with other Southeast Asian claimant states such as Malaysia and Vietnam which welcomed the arbitral tribunal’s nullification of China’s nine-dashed-line map.  He also called on the Philippines to expand its maritime entitlement claims in the area, in accordance to the arbitration award, by applying for an extended continental shelf in the South China Sea at the UN.  The event, which saw the gathering of leading statesmen, served as a potent reminder of the fierce internal debate in the Philippines over the current direction of its policy towards China. Despite Duterte’s best efforts, relations with China remain fraught with uncertainty and tension.


Sprint Rolls Out 50% Military Discount on Family Phone Lines

Military Times is reporting Sprint is rolling out new unlimited mobile plans ― along with 50 percent military discounts that apply to the extra family lines associated with the primary account.  Beginning July 13, Sprint will offer the Unlimited Military plan, which is a discount on their new Unlimited Basic plan. The discount is available to military personnel and veterans.  The first line costs $60 a month. From there, the military discount applies:

  • The second line is $20 a month, compared with $40 for others.
  • The third, fourth and fifth lines are $10 a month, compared with $20 a month for others.

The Unlimited Military plan includes unlimited data, talk and text nationwide; TV, with Hulu; 500 MB mobile hotspot; DVD-quality streaming; global roaming in more than 185 worldwide locations; unlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada; and 5GB of 4G LTE data.  To sign up for the discount, visit and fill out a form that that pre-registers you for your discount. You can also sign up in a Sprint store or over the phone by asking for the Unlimited Military plan, The form asks for your name, branch of service, email and phone, Sprint spokeswoman Kathleen Dunleavy said. Customers receive an email once their validation has been approved, she said.  Customers must also be enrolled in Sprint’s AutoPay to get the savings.  Those who are 55 and older might also consider the new Unlimited 55+ plan that offers unlimited data, talk and text, plus other features, for $50 a month for the first line and $20 a month for the second line. That offer is available only in a Sprint store, according to Sprint. But it could save you $10 a month over the Unlimited Military plan.


The Battle of Britain Begins

The Battle of Britain was the military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by Nazi Germany‘s air force, the Luftwaffe. It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces.  The British officially recognize the battle’s duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941.  German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz.  The primary objective of the German forces was to compel Britain to agree to a negotiated peace settlement. In July 1940 the air and sea blockade began, with the Luftwaffe mainly targeting coastal-shipping convoys, ports and shipping centers, such as Portsmouth. On 1 August, the Luftwaffe was directed to achieve air superiority over the RAF with the aim of incapacitating RAF Fighter Command12 days later, it shifted the attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure.  As the battle progressed, the Luftwaffe also targeted factories involved in aircraft production and strategic infrastructure. Eventually it employed terror bombing on areas of political significance and on civilians.  The Germans had rapidly overwhelmed France and the Low Countries, leaving Britain to face the threat of invasion by sea. The German high command knew the difficulties of a seaborne attack and its impracticality while the Royal Navy controlled the English Channel and the North Sea.  On 16 July, Adolf Hitler ordered the preparation of Operation Sea Lion as a potential amphibious and airborne assault on Britain, to follow once the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the UK. In September, RAF Bomber Command night raids disrupted the German preparation of converted barges, and the Luftwaffe’s failure to overwhelm the RAF forced Hitler to postpone and eventually cancel Operation Sea Lion. Germany proved unable to sustain daylight raids, but their continued night-bombing operations on Britain became known as the Blitz.  Historian Stephen Bungay cited Germany’s failure to destroy Britain’s air defenses to force an armistice (or even outright surrender) as the first major German defeat in World War II and a crucial turning point in the conflict.  The Battle of Britain takes its name from a speech by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons on 18 June: “What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.  The Luftwaffe’Messerschmitt Bf 109E and Bf 110C fought against the RAF’s workhorse Hurricane Mk I and the less numerous Spitfire Mk I; Hurricanes outnumbered Spitfires in RAF Fighter Command by about 2:1 when war broke out.  The Bf 109E had a better climb rate and was up to 40 mph faster in level flight than the Rotol (constant speed propeller) equipped Hurricane Mk I, depending on altitude.  The speed and climb disparity with the original non-Rotol Hurricane was even greater. By mid-1940, all RAF Spitfire and Hurricane fighter squadrons converted to 100 octane aviation fuel, which allowed their Merlin engines to generate significantly more power and an approximately 30 mph increase in speed at low altitudes through the use of an Emergency Boost Override.  In September 1940, the more powerful Mk IIa series 1 Hurricanes started entering service in small numbers.  This version was capable of a maximum speed of 342 mph, some 20 mph more than the original (non-Rotol) Mk I, though it was still 15 to 20 mph slower than a Bf 109 (depending on altitude).  The performance of the Spitfire over Dunkirk came as a surprise to the Jagdwaffe, although the German pilots retained a strong belief that the 109 was the superior fighter.  The British fighters were equipped with eight Browning .303 (7.7mm) machine guns, while most Bf 109Es had two 7.92mm machine guns supplemented by two 20mm cannons.  The latter was much more effective than the .303; during the Battle it was not unknown for damaged German bombers to limp home with up to two hundred .303 hits.  At some altitudes, the Bf 109 could out climb the British fighter. It could also engage in vertical-plane negative-g maneuvers without the engine cutting out because its DB 601 engine used fuel injection; this allowed the 109 to dive away from attackers more readily than the carburetor-equipped Merlin. On the other hand, the Bf 109E had a much larger turning circle than its two foes.  About 20% of pilots who took part in the battle were from non British countries. The Royal Air Force roll of honor for the Battle of Britain recognizes 595 non-British pilots (out of 2,936) as flying at least one authorized operational sortie with an eligible unit of the RAF or Fleet Air Arm between 10 July and 31 October 1940.  These included 145 Poles, 127 New Zealanders, 112 Canadians, 88 Czechoslovaks, 10 Irish, 32 Australians, 28 Belgians, 25 South Africans, 13 French, 9 Americans, 3 Southern Rhodesians and one each from Jamaica and Mandatory PalestineWinston Churchill summed up the effect of the battle and the contribution of RAF Fighter Command, RAF Bomber Command, RAF Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm with the words, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”  Pilots who fought in the battle have been known as The Few ever since; at times being specially commemorated on 15 September, “Battle of Britain Day“. On this day in 1940, the Luftwaffe embarked on their largest bombing attack yet, forcing the engagement of the entirety of the RAF in defense of London and the South East, which resulted in a decisive British victory that proved to mark a turning point in Britain’s favor.


“Babe” Ruth Makes His Major League Debut

On July 11, 1914, in his major league debut, George Herman “Babe” Ruth pitches seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians, 4-3.  George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, where his father worked as a saloon keeper on the waterfront. He was the first of eight children, but only he and a sister survived infancy. The young George, known as “Gig” (pronounced jij) to his family, was a magnet for trouble from an early age. At seven, his truancy from school led his parents to declare him incorrigible, and he was sent to an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Ruth lived there until he was 19 in 1914, when he was signed as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.  That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him “Babe” for his naiveté, but his talent was already maturing. In his debut game against the Indians, the 19-year-old Ruth gave up just five hits over the first six innings. In the seventh, the Indians managed two runs on three singles and a sacrifice and Ruth was relieved. His hitting prowess, however, was not on display that first night–he went 0 for 2 at the plate.  Ruth developed quickly as a pitcher and as a hitter. When the Red Sox made the World Series in 1916 and 1918, Ruth starred, setting a record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play. His career record as a pitcher for the Red Sox was 89-46.  (Ruth in top row far left)  To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth’s contract was sold to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette. Ruth switched to the outfield with the Yankees, and hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons. “The Sultan of Swat” or “The Bambino,” as he was alternately known, was the greatest gate attraction in baseball until his retirement as a player in 1935. During his career with the New York Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”




Medical Supply Drop At Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Dr. Jerri Lin Nielsen was an American physician with extensive ER experience, who self-treated her breast cancer while stationed at Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica until she could be evacuated safely.  In 1998, during the southern winter, at a time when the station is physically cut off from the rest of the world, she developed breast cancer. Nielsen teleconferenced with medical personnel in the United States, and had to operate on herself in order to extract tissue samples for analysis. Results were inconclusive, so the National Science Foundation decided to send additional test equipment and medications to the remote station by military transport.  Such airdrops had been a yearly event several years earlier, when the station was run by the US Navy, but had later been stopped. The plane did not attempt a landing because its skis would risk sticking to the ice and its fuel and hydraulic lines would rapidly freeze, dooming the craft.  A United States Air Force Lockheed C-141B Starlifter of the 62nd Airlift Wing, McChord Air Force Base, Washington, was sent to stage out of Christchurch, New Zealand, in order to air drop the supplies at the South Pole. The mission was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John I. Pray, Jr., U.S. Air Force.  Departing Christchurch at 2154 UTC, 11 July, with six pallets of medical supplies and equipment as well as fresh food and mail for the remote outpost, the C-141 was joined for the flight by a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, Hawaii National Guard, for inflight refueling. A refueling took place over McMurdo Station and then the Starlifter headed on toward the Pole.  Amundsen-Scott station personnel set fire to 27 smudge pots arranged in a semi-circle to mark the drop zone, and turned off all outside lighting. When the transport arrived overhead, blowing snow obscured the drop zone and it took the aircrew, flying with night vision goggles, 25 minutes to locate the markers.  The C-141 dropped two cargo pallets on the first pass and the remaining four on a second. It immediately departed to rendezvous with the KC-135 tanker and both returned to New Zealand.  After a 6,375 mile round trip, the C-141 touched down at Christchurch at 1225 UTC, 12 July.  Good job Air Force guys.  Using the parachuted supplies, Nielsen began her treatment, following the advice of her doctors over the satellite link. She first began a hormone treatment. She trained her South Pole colleagues to form a small team that could assist her in the procedures. A new biopsy performed with the airdropped equipment allowed better scans to be sent to the US, where it was confirmed that the cells were indeed cancerous.  With the help of her makeshift medical team, Nielsen then began self-administering chemotherapy.  In October, a LC-130 Hercules was sent several weeks ahead of schedule, despite the risks inherent to flying in such cold weather, to bring Nielsen back home as soon as possible; the plane took off from the base on October 15. Another crew member, who had suffered a hip injury during the winter, was also evacuated.  The Navy Antarctic Development Squadron Six (First designated VX-6, then VXE-6 from 1969) originally operated the LC-130 aircraft. Initially, VXE-6 was home based at the Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island and later at the Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. Operation of the aircraft was transferred in 1999 to the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard when Navy support of the Antarctic program was terminated and the Navy provided training for New York Air National Guard who eventually assumed and continue to support the mission today.  Once back in the United States, after multiple surgeries, complications and a mastectomy, Dr. Nielsen went into remission. She became a motivational speaker and a scholarship was created in her honor.  After being in remission, the cancer returned in 2005 and metastasized to Nielsen’s brain, liver and bones, but she continued to give speeches and traveled extensively including to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Australia, Ireland, Alaska, Poland, and she returned to Antarctica several times. In October 2008, Dr. Nielsen announced that her cancer had returned in the form of a brain tumor.  She was active and giving talks until March 2009, three months before her death.


KC-10A Extender First Flight

The KC-10 Extender first flew on 12 July 1980, but it was not until October the same year that the first aerial refuel sortie was performed.  That first prototype, serial number 79-0433, made its first flight at Long Beach, California with company test pilots Walt Smith and George Jansen, flight engineer Leo Hazell, and flight test engineer Guy Lowery.  The design for the KC-10 involved modifications from the DC-10-30CF design. Unnecessary airline features were replaced by an improved cargo-handling system and military avionics.  Meanwhile, the KC-10 retains 88% commonality with its commercial counterparts, giving it greater access to the worldwide commercial support system.  Other changes from the DC-10-30CF include the removal of most windows and lower cargo doors.  Early aircraft featured a distinctive light gray, white and blue paint scheme, but a gray-green camouflage scheme was used on later tankers. The paint scheme was switched to a medium gray color by the late 1990s.  The most notable changes were the addition of the McDonnell Douglas Advanced Aerial Refueling Boom (AARB) and additional fuel tanks located in the baggage compartments below the main deck. The extra tanks increase the KC-10’s fuel capacity to 356,000 lb, nearly doubling the KC-135’s capacity.  The KC-10 has both a centerline refueling boom—unique in that it sports a control surface system at its aft end that differs from the V-tail design used on previous tankers—and a drogue-and-hose system on the starboard side of the rear fuselage. The KC-10 boom operator is located in the rear of the aircraft with a wide window for monitoring refueling. The operator controls refueling operations through a digital fly-by wire system.  Unlike the KC-135, the KC-10’s hose-and-drogue system allows refueling of NavyMarine Corps, and most allied aircraft, all in one mission The final twenty KC-10s produced included wing-mounted pods for added refueling locations.  In addition to its tanking role, the KC-10 can carry a complement of 75 personnel with 146,000 lb of cargo, or 170,000 lb in an all-cargo configuration.  The KC-10 has a side cargo door for loading and unloading cargo. Handling equipment is required to raise and lower loads to the cargo opening. It can carry cargo.  (Fireball note: Refueling on the KC-10 was very easy and the hose-and-drogue system was stable, plus you could tank in the shade of the fuselage! )  Though over 400 of the original 732 Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers remain in service (the last one was accepted by the Air Force in 1964), the fleet of KC-10s provide greater fuel capacity and much longer range. McDonnell Douglas built 60 KC-10s for the U.S. Air Force and 2 similar KDC-10s for The Netherlands.  Thirty-eight years later, McDonnell Douglas KC-10A 79-0433 (above left) is still in service.


Burr Shoots Hamilton In Dual

The Burr–Hamilton duel was fought between prominent American politicians Aaron Burr, the sitting Vice President of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, the former Secretary of the Treasury, at Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804.  The duel was the culmination of a long and bitter rivalry between the two men. Burr shot and mortally wounded Hamilton, who was carried to the home of William Bayard, where he died the next day.  In the early morning hours of July 11, 1804, Burr and Hamilton departed from Manhattan by separate boats and rowed across the Hudson River to a spot known as the Heights of Weehawken in New Jersey, a popular dueling ground below the towering cliffs of the Palisades.  Dueling had been prohibited in both New York and New Jersey; Hamilton and Burr agreed to take the duel to Weehawken, however, because New Jersey was not as aggressive in prosecuting dueling participants as New York. The same site was used for eighteen known duels between 1700 and 1845.  In an attempt to shield the participants from prosecution, procedures were implemented to give all witnesses plausible deniability. For example, the pistols were transported to the island in a portmanteau, enabling the rowers to say under oath that they had not seen any pistols. (They also stood with their backs to the duelists.)Burr, William P. Van Ness (his second), Matthew L. Davis, and another (often identified as John Swarthout) plus their rowers reached the site at 6:30 a.m. whereupon Swarthout and Van Ness started to clear the underbrush from the dueling ground. Hamilton, Judge Nathaniel Pendleton (his second), and Dr. David Hosack arrived a few minutes before seven. Lots were cast for the choice of position and which second should start the duel; both were won by Hamilton’s second, who chose the upper edge of the ledge (which faced the city) for Hamilton.  However, according to historian and author Joseph Ellis, Hamilton had been challenged and therefore had choice of both weapon and position. Under this account, it was Hamilton himself who chose the upstream or north side position. The duel took place near the area where Phillip Hamilton had dueled three years before his father.  All first-hand accounts of the duel agree that two shots were fired; however, Hamilton and Burr’s seconds disagreed on the intervening time between the shots. It was common for both principals in a duel to fire a shot at the ground to exemplify courage, and then the duel could come to an end. Hamilton apparently fired a shot above Burr’s head. Burr returned fire and hit Hamilton in the lower abdomen above the right hip. The large-caliber lead ball ricocheted off Hamilton’s third or second false rib, fracturing it, and caused considerable damage to his internal organs, particularly his liver and diaphragm, before becoming lodged in his first or second lumbar vertebra. According to Pendleton’s account, Hamilton collapsed immediately, dropping the pistol involuntarily, and Burr moved toward Hamilton in a speechless manner (which Pendleton deemed to be indicative of regret) before being hustled away behind an umbrella by Van Ness because Hosack and the rowers were already approaching.  The Wogdon duelling pistols incorporated a hair-trigger feature that could be pre-set by the user.  Hamilton, familiar with the weapons, would have known about and been able to use the hair trigger. However, when asked by Pendleton before the duel if he would use the “hair-spring”, Hamilton reportedly replied, “not this time.”  The “hair-spring” feature gives an advantage because it reduces the force required to engage the trigger, preventing unintentional hand movement while firing. It may also make people who are not familiar with the reduced force miss the target.  In 1801, three years before the Burr-Hamilton duel, Hamilton’s son Philip used the Church weapons in a duel in which he died.  The pistols reposed at Church’s estate Belvidere until the late 19th century.  In 1930, the pistols were sold to the Chase Manhattan Bank, now part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and are on display in the investment bank’s headquarters at 270 Park Avenue in New York CityA famous “GOT MILK?” commercial highlighted the Hamilton-Burr Duel.  The ad, won a Gold Clio Award in 1994 and was inducted into the Clio Hall of Fame in 2009.  Leslie Odom Jr. parodied this commercial for the musical Hamilton. 


LT Godfrey de Chevalier Takes First Cat Shot

On July 12, 1916, then Lieutenant Godfrey DeCourcelles Chevalier took the first real aircraft catapult launched aircraft by catapult, from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina. There was no mention of who the shooter was.  Later, in November 1917 he commanded the first naval air station in France, at Dunkerque, and for World War I service was awarded the Distinguished Service MedalChevalier graduated from the United States Naval Academy in June 1910. He was appointed a Naval Air Pilot on 7 November 1915 and a Naval Aviator on 7 November 1918.  On 8 May 1913, ensign Chevalier was the passenger in a long-distance flight of 169 miles, flown in a Curtiss flying boat piloted by Lieutenant John Henry Towers, Naval Aviator No. 3, from the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. down the Potomac River and then up the Chesapeake Bay to the U.S. Naval Academy at AnnapolisMaryland. The flight took three hours and five minutes.  In 1922 he was attached to USS Langley (CV-1), the first American aircraft carrier, in connection with fitting her out. On 26 October 1922 Lieutenant Commander Chevalier made the first landing on Langley‘s deck, flying Aeromarine 39B No. 606.  A distinguished pioneer of naval aviation, Chevalier died at the Norfolk Naval Hospital at Naval Station Norfolk in NorfolkVirginia, on 14 November 1922 as a result of injuries sustained in the 12 November 1922 crash near Lockhaven, Virginia, of a Vought VE-7 he was flying from Naval Air Station Norfolk to Yorktown, Virginia.  Two U.S. Navy destroyers have been named USS Chevalier in his honor, as was Chevalier Field, an airfield at Naval Air Station Pensacola in PensacolaFloridaOK


The Real Game of Tanks – The Battle of Kursk

The area around Kursk ( Kursk OblastRussia, located at the confluence of the KurTuskar, and Seym Rivers) was the site of a turning point in the Soviet–German struggle during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in history.  The Germans hoped to weaken the Soviet offensive potential for the summer of 1943 by cutting off a large number of forces that they anticipated would be in the Kursk salientIt was also hoped that large numbers of Soviet prisoners would be captured to be used as slave labor in the German armaments industry.  The Soviet government had foreknowledge of the German intentions, provided in part by the British intelligence service and Tunny intercepts (The British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park an important source of “Ultra” intelligence.)  Aware months in advance that the attack would fall on the neck of the Kursk salient, the Soviets built a defense in depth designed to wear down the German armored spearhead.  The Germans delayed the offensive while they tried to build up their forces and waited for new weapons, mainly the new Panther tank but also larger numbers of the Tiger heavy tank.  This gave the Red Army time to construct a series of deep defensive belts. The defensive preparations included minefields, fortifications, artillery fire zones and anti-tank strong points, which extended approximately 300 km (190 mi) in depth.  Soviet mobile formations were moved out of the salient and a large reserve force was formed for strategic counter-offensives.  The Battle of Kursk was the first time in the Second World War that a German strategic offensive was halted before it could break through enemy defenses and penetrate to its strategic depths.  The maximum depth of the German advance was 8–12 kilometers (5.0–7.5 mi) in the north and 35 kilometers (22 mi) in the south.  Though the Red Army had succeeded in winter offensives previously, their counter-offensives following the German attack at Kursk were their first successful strategic summer offensives of the war.  In bitter fighting Soviet antitank artillery destroyed as much as 40 percent of the German armor, which included their new Mark VI Tiger tanks.  The Battle of Kursk, involving some 6,000 tanks, two million men, and 5,000 aircraft.  After six days of warfare concentrated near Prokhorovka, south of Kursk, the German Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge called off the offensive, and by July 23 the Soviets had forced the Germans back to their original positions.


Storming of the Bastille

Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille on July 14, 1789, a royal fortress and prison that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the French Bourbon monarchs. This dramatic action signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie-Antoinette, were executed.  By July 1789, revolutionary sentiment was rising in Paris. The Estates-General was convened in May and members of the Third Estate proclaimed the Tennis Court Oath in June, calling for the king to grant a written constitution. Violence between loyal royal forces, mutinous members of the royal Gardes Françaises and local crowds broke out at Vendôme on 12 July, leading to widespread fighting and the withdrawal of royal forces from the centre of Paris.  Revolutionary crowds began to arm themselves during 13 July, looting royal stores, gunsmiths and armourers’ shops for weapons and gunpowder.  On the morning of 14 July around 900 people formed outside the Bastille, primarily working-class members of the nearby faubourg Saint-Antoine, but also including some mutinous soldiers and local traders.  The crowd had gathered in an attempt to commandeer the gunpowder stocks known to be held in the Bastille, and at 10:00 am de Launay let in two of their leaders to negotiate with him.  Just after midday, another negotiator was let in to discuss the situation, but no compromise could be reached: the revolutionary representatives now wanted both the guns and the gunpowder in the Bastille to be handed over, but de Launay refused to do so unless he received authorization from his leadership in Versailles.  Just as negotiations were about to recommence at around 1:30 pm, chaos broke out as the impatient and angry crowd stormed the outer courtyard of the Bastille, pushing toward the main gate.  Confused firing broke out in the confined space and chaotic fighting began in earnest between de Launay’s forces and the revolutionary crowd as the two sides exchanged fire.  At around 3:30 pm, more mutinous royal forces arrived to reinforce the crowd, bringing with them trained infantry officers and several cannons.  After discovering that their weapons were too light to damage the main walls of the fortress, the revolutionary crowd began to fire their cannons at the wooden gate of the Bastille.  By now around 83 of the crowd had been killed and another 15 mortally wounded; only one of the Invalids had been killed in return.  De Launay had limited options: if he allowed the Revolutionaries to destroy his main gate, he would have to turn the cannon directly inside the Bastille’s courtyard on the crowds, causing great loss of life and preventing any peaceful resolution of the episode.  De Launay could not withstand a long siege, and he was dissuaded by his officers from committing mass suicide by detonating his supplies of powder.  Instead, de Launay attempted to negotiate a surrender, threatening to blow up the Bastille if his demands were not met.  In the midst of this attempt, the Bastille’s drawbridge suddenly came down and the revolutionary crowd stormed in.  De Launay was dragged outside into the streets and killed by the crowd, and three officers and three soldiers were killed during the course of the afternoon by the crowd.  The soldiers of the Swiss Salis-Samade Regiment, however, were not wearing their uniform coats and were mistaken for Bastille prisoners; they were left unharmed by the crowds until they were escorted away by French Guards and other regular soldiers among the attackers.  The valuable powder and guns were seized and a search begun for the other prisoners in the Bastille.  Seven prisoners were freed. Upon arriving at the Hotel de Ville, where Launay was to be arrested and tried by a revolutionary council, he was instead pulled away by a mob and murdered.  The capture of the Bastille symbolized the end of the ancien regime and provided the French revolutionary cause with an irresistible momentum. In 1792, the monarchy was abolished and Louis and his wife Marie-Antoinette were sent to the guillotine for treason in 1793.

Lieutenant John M. Gamble USMC Commands Naval Ship

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel John M. Gamble was an officer in the United States Marine Corps during the early 19th century. He was the first, and remains the only known, U.S. Marine to command a U.S. Navy ship, commanding the prize ships Greenwich and the Sir Andrew Hammond during the War of 1812.  His capture of the British armed whaler Seringapatam was noted as a triumph by American newspapers and thus earned him considerable fame upon his return.  The Seringapatam was deemed as the biggest British threat to American whalers in the South Pacific at the time.  On 14 July 1813, Commodore Porter wrote of Lieutenant Gamble: “Allow me to return to you my thanks for your handsome conduct in bringing the Seringapatam to action, which greatly facilitated her capture, while it prevented the possibility of her escape. Be assured, sir, I shall make a suitable representation of the affair to the honorable Secretary of the Navy.”  Later, Commodore Porter wrote a further communication to the Navy Department which went as follows: “Captain Gamble at all times greatly distinguished himself by his activity in every enterprise engaged in by the force under my command, and in many critical encounters by the natives of Madison Island, rendered essential services, and at all times distinguished himself by his coolness and bravery. I therefore do, with pleasure, recommend him to the Department as an officer deserving of its patronage.” And again he wrote: “I now avail myself of the opportunity of assuring you that no Marine officer in the service ever had such strong claims as Captain Gamble, and that none have been placed in such conspicuous and critical situations, and that none could have extricated themselves from them more to their honor.”  Way to go Marine!

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 23rd through 30th 2018

Friends of FOD

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-martialThe 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!

5:58 AM – May 28, 2018


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.


Bismark Sinks HMS Hood

The Battle of the Denmark Strait during the Second World War was made famous because of the participants and the effect the battle had on the countries involved.  Ships of the Royal Navy took on the German Kriegsmarine; initiated action on 24 May 1941. The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and

Seegefecht des Schlachtschiffes “Bismarck” unter Island.
Nunmehr richtet Schlachtschiff Bismarck seine ganze Feuerkraft auf das sich zurückziehende Schlachtschiff “Prince of Wales”.
Prop.Kp.:MPA Nord Film-Nr. 100/27
Bildberichter: Lagemann
Wilhelmshaven; Herausgabedatum: Juni 1941

the battlecruiser HMS Hood fought the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz 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 Lord Jackie Fisher that “speed is armor.”

Seegefecht des Schlachtschiffes “Bismarck” unter Island.
Mit zwei Treffern im Vorschiff verlässt das Schlachtschiff Bismarck den Schauplatz des Seegefechtes unter Island.
Prop.Kp.: MPA Nord Film-Nr.: 100/28
Bildberichter: Lagemann
Wilhelmshaven, Herausgabedatum: Juni 1941

(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 BismarckHood 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, BismarckPrince of Wales had already correctly identified and targeted Bismarck, whereas Hood is believed to have continued to fire at Prinz Eugen for some time.

HMS HOOD (HU 50190) HMS HOOD going into action against the German battleship BISMARCK and battlecruiser Prinz Eugen, 24 May 1941. This image taken from HMS PRINCE OF WALES was the last photo ever taken of HMS HOOD. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

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 Stroud coincidence 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

Gefechtsbildfahren in der Ostsee mit der “Bismarck” (im Hintergrund)
Vorne Brückennock Prinz Eugen

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 Admiral Erich 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 Swordfish biplane torpedo 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 Mayor Franklin 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 FranciscoCalifornia – 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 CityIrving 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 UniversityThe project was finished and opened May 27, 1937. The Bridge Round House diner 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 IranJapanSouth 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 RegistryDylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of FameMinnesota Music Hall of FameNashville 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 SuvorovImperator Aleksandr IIIBorodino and OslyabyaNavarin was lost during the night action, on 27–28 May, while the Sissoi VelikyAdmiral 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 battleships General 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 admiral once 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 Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses Grant‘s Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern VirginiaAs 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 Spring Opens 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 tonalitymetre, 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 Nepalese Sherpa 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 HuntTIME 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.[19][20] 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 Navy Aéronavale 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 Major Gregory “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 AVG P-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 DonahueVMF-215‘s Robert M. Hanson and Don Aldrich, and VF-17‘s Tommy BlackburnRoger 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-45 Toryu (“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-84Kawanishi 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-body jet 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 747McDonnell 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.


Fly Martin-Baker


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).

TMOF Boeing B-17F Boeing Bee in flight

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 computerThe 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 caliber M2 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.

Boeing B-17F-10-BO “Memphis Belle” in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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.


FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 12th through 15th 2018

Fireball Saying of the Day

Today I was a hero. I rescued some beer that was trapped in a bottle.


Fireball on China and North Korea

I’ve mentioned several times here in FOD that I believe one of the worst things that could happen to China, from their prospective, would be a fall of the North Korean family business/government of Kim Jung Un.  A reunification of North and South Korea would result in US and/or western aligned troops on the border with China, a prospect much feared by China. Additionally a North Korea experimenting or threatening with nuclear weapons is one thing, but a North Korea with a real nuclear delivery capability is likely to foster the development of western supported nuclear capabilities in South Korea and eventually Japan.  And dare we mention Taiwan in that nuclear soup?  Such developments would realign the balance of power in Asia to China’s great disadvantage.  Remember just a few months ago Kim Jung Un made that mysterious train trip to China?  Since that time we have seen a distinct change in North Korea’s behavior.  No further missile testing, no boasting of eventual war with the US and/or other nations in the region.  And now President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un on June 12 in Singapore, the US president announced Thursday.  I think it possible Kim Jung Un was called upon Xi Jinping’s proverbial red Chinese carpet during that train trip.  Xi says, “OK Kim dude, it’s perfectly fine for you to play with your nuclear toys, but threatening the US and other countries in the region upsets my plan for dominance in Asia long term.  So here are your choices: make a deal with the US and soon before they export nuclear weapons to both South Korea and Japan and before they develop additional missile systems capable of shooting down your weapons and by extension my ICBMs in my backyard; OR, I will find a new family to operate North Korea.  Now go back home and execute my command.  We saw where North Korea has promised to allow the world to watch it blow up some of their nuclear test facilities.  Likely that already happened.  Back on 3 September when North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test on Punggye-ri registering 6.3 magnitude on earthquake sensors.  Several minutes later however, geologists detected a smaller 4.1 magnitude rumbling.  That got scientists speculating as to whether the nuclear test site, hidden inside a mountain, actually collapsed.  A massive collapse could render the test site useless for future nuclear tests and may even increase the risk of radioactive gases escaping from the rock and into the air, scientists said.  The case for this so-called “tired mountain syndrome” was bolstered three weeks ago, when North Korea announced that it planned to shut the main testing facility at Mount Mantap where five of the six tests, including the last explosion, took place. A few weeks ago, a group of Chinese geologists claimed in a study published in Geophysical Research Letters that the mountain had collapsed following the latest nuclear test. Of course the Chinese might be lying.  That wouldn’t surprise me either.  Now we see Kim Jung Un has cancelled recently scheduled talks with South Korea after the failure of the South and the US to cancel scheduled military exercises.  Then again he has always been unpredictable.  We can expect the unexpected.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 12th through 15th 2018”