That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

“Is Stalin a man of genius, or not?”

The reply that came during a seance, according to a defendant’s testimony given at a Kyiv court on March 10, 1948, was that the Soviet dictator was no such thing.

Coming at a time when Josef Stalin’s cult of personality was at its height, such a conversation was sure to attract attention. Especially because the founding father of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, was allegedly the one replying from beyond the grave during the conjuring, more than two decades after his death.

Other court evidence revealed that during one of the seances “Lenin” predicted from the afterlife that war was coming — six countries would soon free the Soviet people from Stalin’s yoke.


When asked about the future of Soviet power, an unidentified Russian revolutionary responded that “it won’t exist, with the help of America.”

Such “conversations” were revealed in archived documents of trial testimony and interrogations carried out by the Soviet State Security Ministry (MGB), which included the secret police.

Aside from Lenin, the court heard from a number of early Soviet A-listers, some of whom might have cause to slander Stalin.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

Lenin and Stalin.

There was archrival Leon Trotsky, who was assassinated in Mexico City in 1940 on the Soviet leader’s orders. And Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin’s second wife, who died under mysterious circumstances after a public argument with her husband in 1932.

Others speaking from the grave included the writers Maxim Gorky and Aleksandr Kuprin, as well as famed rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Their questioners were not members of the Bolshevik inner circle, but ordinary residents of the north-central Ukrainian town of Bila Tserkva who had never even belonged to the Communist Party.

For their role in conjuring up voices from the past, Ilya Gorban, his sister Vera Sorokina, and his lover Olga Rozova were arrested and accused of anti-Soviet acts and the “creation of an illegal religious-mystical group of spiritists.”

Wandering soul

Gorban was an unaccomplished artist when he moved to Bila Tserkva from Kyiv in early 1947, a year before the trial.

The 44-year-old native of the Poltava region had designed museum exhibits and prepared posters and portraits of Lenin for demonstrations. He was wounded during World War II while manning an anti-tank gun near Orel.

He had married and fathered a child. But the marriage ended in divorce and his daughter lived with her mother.

Gorban settled into his new life in Bila Tserkva with his sister, Vera, and got a job at the local industrial plant as a sculptor.

A book lover, he frequented the city library and soon entered into a romance with 39-year-old Olga Rozova, a library employee.

Rozova was married. But her husband — Andrei Rozov, a journalist with a newspaper in Voronezh — had been accused of belonging to an “anti-Soviet Trotskyite terrorist organization” in 1938 and imprisoned for 10 years.

While at work, Gorban had a conversation with colleague Mikhail Ryabinin, who asked the sculptor if he believed in the afterlife and the existence of spirits.

Gorban said he did not, but he did take Ryabinin up on his recommendation that he read the Spirits Book — written in 1856 by Frenchman Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail under the pen name Allan Kardec and considered one of the pillars of spiritism.

Pointed ‘discussions’

The doctrine of spiritism, or Kardecism, centers on the belief that the spirits of the dead survive beyond mortal life and can communicate with the living. The communication usually takes place during seances conducted by a person serving as a medium between this world and the otherworld.

Gorban read it with fascination and proposed that Ryabinin organize a seance. His friend declined, however, saying according to case files that “all these sessions with plates — they are nonsense and baby talk. I contact the spirits at a higher level.”

Gorban’s sister agreed to try, however, and together they conducted a seance based on what they had learned.

They lit candles and sat at a table with a sheet of paper in the center. On the paper the letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and the words “yes” and “no” were drawn in a circle.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

A seance board similar to the one used in Bila Tserkva

A saucer with an arrow from the center to the edge was set over the paper.

The idea was to call on the spirts of a particular person and, if he or she appeared, to ask them questions. If all went well the saucer, beneath the hands of participants, would begin to rotate freely and without force, spelling out answers by pointing to the appropriate symbols on the paper.

Family affair

Altogether, Gorban and his sister conducted 15 to 20 seances in the summer and autumn of 1947. At times they reached out to people outside the Soviet circle. The spirits of deceased relatives were often conjured up, including the siblings’ mother, who allegedly gave the pair everyday advice. They even got a hold of Alexander Pushkin, but the Russian poet “cursed” them.

Gorban’s girlfriend, Olga Rozova, began to join the sessions, and the group conjured up a late writer who began to compliment her.

“I suspected that this was a trick of Gorban’s, with whom I had been in an intimate relationship,” she recalled during her courtroom interrogation. “The whole session was of a purely personal, amorous character.”

Some sessions were held at Rozova’s apartment, which was inside the library. A friend of hers who headed the local school library, Varvara Shelest, took an interest and also started attending the sessions.

The last seance, according to testimony of group members, was held in December 1947.

They asked Lenin’s spirit about the monetary reforms enacted that year, which included the denomination of the ruble and the confiscation of personal savings.

Knock on the door

A couple of months later Chekists — agents of the feared secret service — came for them.

Rozova was detained on Feb. 19, 1948; Sorokina and Gorban were taken away the next day.

The case was transferred to the authorities in Kyiv, and the trial began on March 6, just two weeks after the suspects were detained.

From the MGB’s point of view, the seances were evidence of the formation of an “illegal religious-mystical group” — which on its own could have led to imprisonment. But the authorities took things one step further by adding the more serious “anti-Soviet” charge.

“This seance had a sharply anti-Soviet character,” read one file. “This deliberate slander pertained to one of the leaders of the [Communist] Party and government.”

When initially questioned, the three did not appear to hide that they had participated in seances. Gorban and Sorokina wrote them off as an attempt to have fun; Rozova said there was no intended goal.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

Joseph Stalin, Lenin, and Mikhail Kalinin.

But ultimately their confessions were recorded by their interrogators — the sessions were driven by anti-Soviet sentiment and were just a “convenient screen” for “slanderous agitation.”

In his interrogation report, Gorban was quoted as saying he had “tried to defame and slander the Soviet powers and the leaders of the Party and government” to expose the “talentlessness” of Soviet leaders to his alleged accomplices.

Disgruntled by postwar poverty, it was Gorban who had directed the movements of the saucer, according to the documents.

Harsh ruling

During their trial, those alleged admissions were recanted. Each of the three defendants declared that they did not believe in the otherworld or spirits. When queried about their religious beliefs, each answered that they were atheists. And their sessions, they said, were for entertainment.

“I didn’t think that our sessions were anti-Soviet,” Sorokina testified. “What we did was, of course, not good, but I was, am, and will remain a Soviet person.”

As for the saucer, Gorban said, he had no idea how it moved. All admitted to partial guilt, according to the court files.

The ruling in their case came on March 10, after just two court sessions.

The three were found guilty of anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, and of participation in a counterrevolutionary organization.

Gorban was sentenced to 25 years in a labor camp; Rozova and Sorokina to 10 years each. Gorban would have been executed had the verdict come a year earlier — but the death penalty had recently been suspended.

The mystery of ‘North’

The role of Gorban’s colleague in all this was not forgotten. A criminal case was opened against Ryabinin — the man who had suggested Gorban read the Spirits Book — the same day the others were sentenced.

It is unclear, however, what might have happened to him.

Rozova’s friend, Shelest, also remains a mystery. Despite her attendance at the group’s seances, she was apparently never detained.

According to the case files, she disappeared shortly after the others were nabbed. Material related to her was transferred to a different case, a common step intended to avoid the search for the accused slowing down the investigations of those detained.

When it later emerged that the others had been arrested as part of an underground sting operation, Shelest’s name was not listed among the targets. And when the MGB informed other Soviet authorities about the eradication of a group of spiritists in Bila Tserkva, it made mention only of an informant — codenamed “Sever” (North) — who had attended some of the sessions.

But Shelest’s name did pop up. During their trial the three defendants claimed it was Shelest who initiated most of the “political” questions posed to spirits — including Trotsky, Alliluyeva, and Gorky. Rozova said she had suspicions that Shelest had manipulated the saucer’s movements.

In requesting a pardon in 1954, one year after Stalin’s death, Rozova wrote that “at the trial it became clear to me that Shelest had been tasked with creating an anti-Soviet crime from our seances.” She further argued that Shelest continued to live in Bila Tserkva, yet no one was trying to question her.

Around the same time a prosecutor wrote that while Sorokina and Rozova were “addicted to spiritism because of their curiosity and irresponsibility,” their actions did not result in serious consequences. The two, the prosecutor argued, should be released.

The Supreme Court eventually ruled that while the verdicts handed down against Gorban, Sorokina, and Rozova were correct, their sentences were too harsh.

Sorokina and Rozova were released on Feb. 22, 1955, seven years after their arrest. The decision came too late for Gorban, who died in 1950 while incarcerated at a labor camp near the Arctic Circle.

In 1992 — less than one year after the dissolution of the Soviet Union — all three were rehabilitated.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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Why China’s carrier-based fighter looks like a dud

China’s first indigenous aircraft carriers are currently undergoing sea trials and are getting a good amount of international buzz. There is one crucial thing to remember about these large, powerful vessels, however. Their primary weapon, for both offensive and defensive operations, is the aircraft they carry on board. Building the carriers is just half of the answer to the question of naval dominance.

And while things might be going well at sea, according to a report by the South China Morning Post, the Chinese are having a problem — or, more accurately, a lot of problems — in the sky, specifically with the Shenyang J-15 Flanker. This aircraft isn’t quite original, it’s a copy of the Su-33, a plane that Russia is currently phasing out in favor of a modified MiG-29.


So far, there have been four crashes involving the J-15. At least two pilots have been killed trying to save planes that have suffered serious mechanical failures in flight. A third pilot was badly injured, taking over a year to recover.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

The J-15 is a Chinese copy of the Su-33 Flanker.

(Photo by Dimitri Tarakhov)

So, what’s China to do? Currently, there are plans to replace the J-15 with a version of the J-31, a Chinese fifth-generation fighter that’s currently in development. The J-31 made its first flight in 2012. The US struggled to get a true fifth-generation fighter in the air — there was more than a decade-long gap between the F-35’s first flight and introduction to service. While there’s no guarantee than the Chinese will run into the same delays the US, it does look as though they’re at risk of fielding aircraft carriers well before their primary armaments are ready.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

A model of the J-15.

(Photo by Nacht Eule)

Communist China currently has one carrier, the Liaoning, a Russian Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier (and we know the track record of the Kuznetsov), in service. A refined copy of that carrier, known as the Type 001A, is China’s first home-built carrier. Meanwhile, the Chinese are also developing two new carrier classes, the Type 002 and Type 003. The former is said to be a conventionally-powered design in the 85,000-ton range while the latter is reported to be a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

The Chinese are turning to the J-31 to replace the J-15.

(Photo by wc)

Of course, the effectiveness of these carriers will depend on whether the Chinese Communists can get workable planes. Otherwise, the carriers will be practically useless.

In October of 1944, a shortage of planes led Japan to use their carriers as decoys at Leyte Gulf. Unless the Chinese get to manufacturing solid aircraft for their carriers, they might find themselves in the same boat.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A first look at the ‘Dark Sword’ – China’s supersonic stealth drone

China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.

China has already built stealth fighter jets that give US military planners pause, but the images of its new unmanned plane, named the “Dark Sword,” suggest a whole new warfighting concept that could prove an absolute nightmare for the US.


Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Dark Sword “represents a very different design philosophy” than US unmanned combat jet plans.

Bronk examined the photos available of the Dark Sword and concluded it appeared optimized for fast, supersonic flight as opposed to maximized stealth.

“The Chinese have gone with something that has a longer body, so it’s stable in pitch. It’s got these vertical, F-22 style vertical stabilizers,” which suggest it’s “geared towards supersonic performance and fighter-style capability.”

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
F-22A Raptor
(Lockheed Martin photo)

Though the US once led in designing drones, it was caught off guard by militarized off-the-shelf drones used in combat in the Middle East. Now, once again, the US appears caught off guard by China moving on the idea of an unmanned fighter jet — an idea the US had and abandoned.

The US is now pushing to get a drone aboard aircraft carriers, but downgraded that mission from a possible fighter to a simple aerial tanker with no requirement for stealth or survivability in what Bronk called a “strong vote from the US Navy that it doesn’t want to go down the combat” drone road.

But a cliché saying in military circles rings true here: The enemy gets a vote.

A nightmare for the US

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the Pacific Ocean with ships assigned to Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010 combined task force as part of a photo exercise north of Hawaii.
(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord)

China, situated in the Pacific and surrounded to its east by US allies, has tons of airspace to defend. For that reason, a fast fighter makes sense for Beijing.

“Something like this could transit to areas very fast, and, if produced in large numbers without having to train pilots, could at the very least soak up missiles from US fighters, and at the very best be an effective fighter by itself,” said Bronk. “If you can produce lots of them, quantity has a quality all its own.”

In this scenario, US forces are fighting against supersonic, fearlessly unmanned fighter jets that can theoretically maneuver as well or better than manned jets because they do not have pilots onboard.

US left behind or China bluffing

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
This is what the US wants its new drones to do. Not as exciting, is it?
(Lockheed Martin image)

Perhaps somewhere in a windowless room, US engineers are drawing up plans for a secret combat drone to level the playing field. Bronk suggested the US might feel so comfortable in its drone production that it could whip up a large number of unmanned fighters like this within a relatively short time.

Recent US military acquisition programs don’t exactly inspire confidence in the Pentagon to turn on a dime. The US Air Force has long stood accused of being dominated by a “Fighter Mafia,” or fighter-jet pilots insisting on the importance of manned aircraft at the expense of technological advancement, and perhaps air superiority.

Another possibility raised by Bronk was that China’s Dark Sword was more bark than bite. Because China tightly controls its media, “We only see leaked what the Chinese want us to see,” Bronk said.

“It may be they’re putting money into things that can look good around capabilities that might not ever materialize,” he said. But that would be “odd” because there’s such a clear case for China to pursue this technology that could really stick it to the US military, Bronk said.

So while the US may have some secret answer to the Dark Sword hidden away, and the Dark Sword itself may just be a shadow, the concept shows the Chinese have given serious thought when it comes to unseating the US as the most powerful air force in the world.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

More from Business Insider:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Amazon-recommended security cameras are a ‘huge’ risk

A selection of security cameras that are being sold and touted by Amazon on its website come with “huge” security risks, according to findings from an investigation conducted by UK consumer watchdog Which? that were released on Sept. 27, 2019.

After testing six different wireless cameras, Which? found that the devices were easy to hack thanks to weak passwords and unencrypted data that could enable strangers to remotely take control of the camera to spy into people’s homes and view footage as they please.

One of the cameras tested in the investigation has an Amazon Choice label. This essentially means that it is an item that many buyers have purchased and were satisfied with, but it doesn’t mean it has been heavily vetted by Amazon. The Amazon Choice label is important as these are the items that Amazon’s search engine will deliver when you ask Alexa to search for you.


Which? says that the lack of vetting on these Amazon recommended products is extremely concerning.

“There appears to be little to no quality control with these sub-standard products, which risk people’s security yet are being endorsed and sold on Amazon,” Adam French, a consumer rights expert at Which? said in a statement to the press on Sept. 30, 2019.

“Amazon and other online marketplaces must take these cameras off sale and improve the way they scrutinize these products,” he continued. “They certainly should not be endorsing products that put people’s privacy at risk.”

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Amazon)

Customers raised safety concerns in some reviews online.

“Someone spied on us,” said one customer who reviewed a .99 Victure security camera that carries the Amazon Choice badge. “They talked through the camera and they turned the camera on at will. Extremely creepy. We told Amazon. Three of us experienced it, yet they’re still selling them.” Business Insider has reached out to Victure for comment.

Another customer wrote that he had “chills down his spine” after hearing a mysterious voice coming from a camera next to his child’s crib after it was apparently hacked, Which? wrote in its press release.

Which? said it asked Amazon to remove these products and is urging the company to monitor customer feedback and investigate cases where consumers have identified issues with security. Amazon declined to comment on Which?’s findings, however. A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MEMES

The 13 funniest memes for the week of February 22nd

President Trump has officially signed the order to begin the process of developing the Space Force. The logical side of all of our brains is telling us that it’s just going to be an upgraded version of what the Navy and Air Force’s respective Space Commands currently do… but deep down, we all want to sign up.

I mean, who wouldn’t immediately sign an indefinite contract to be a space shuttle door gunner? It represents that tiny glimmer of hope in all of us that says we, one day, can live out every epic space fantasy we’ve ever dreamed up.

The sad truth is that the first couple decades (if not centuries) of the Space Force will involve dealing with boring human problems, not fighting intergalactic aliens bent on destroying our solar system. Oh well.

Hey, while you wait for the army of Space Bugs to start invading, kill some time with these memes.


That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Uniform Humor)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drills Sergeant Says)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Private News Network)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

MIGHTY HISTORY

How this soldier earned the Medal of Honor while stoned

It is absolutely forbidden to do drugs in a war zone. It’s illegal to do drugs as a member of the Armed Forces — it always has been. Still, by the 1970s, marijuana use by U.S. troops in Vietnam was widespread. Tim O’Brien even wrote about it in The Things They Carried. One U.S. troop even earned the nation’s highest honor while high on it.


Peter Lemon was stationed at Fire Support Base Illingworth in Tay Ninh province, South Vietnam on Apr. 1, 1970. It was that day he became one of the youngest-ever Medal of Honor recipients at just 20 years old.

He was born in Toronto, an immigrant who willfully joined the U.S. Army to fight against the spread of Communism. He was from a family of military veterans, after all. He became an American citizen at 11 and enlisted as soon as he could. His optimism about the war in Vietnam quickly fell away after a series of disappointing events: allied troops killing surrendering enemy combatants, the fragging of a hated lieutenant, and the loathing the locals had for American troops.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
Lemon in Vietnam.
(Photo from Peter Lemon)

So, when things got slow, he and his buddies passed the time by smoking a little pot. After a recon patrol one night, they blew off some steam with a little partying. He had no idea the next day would be the defining event of his life.

“We were all partying the night before,” Lemon said. “We weren’t expecting any action because we were in a support unit. It was the only time I ever went into combat stoned. You get really alert when you are stoned because you have to be.”

His fire base was located near the Ho Chi Minh Trail, admittedly bait for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops to attack as they entered South Vietnam. There were many fire bases like it, as it was a common tactic to draw out masses of enemy troops. Unfortunately for the tired revelers at Illingworth, the night wasn’t as quiet as they expected.

At 2:06 am, the enemy struck in full force. 400 hardened NVA troops swarmed the 220 Americans at the fire base. The Americans lacked the critical piece to their fire base tactics: air support. The NVA destroyed the base’s communications and rained mortars and artillery on the sleepy Americans.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
A hastily-constructed fire support base like Fire Support Base Illingworth.

Lemon, despite finishing a joint before bed, jumped out of his rack and manned a heavy machine gun until it couldn’t fire anymore. He did the same with his rifle. Both weapons malfunctioned. When those no longer worked, he switched to tossing hand grenades at the oncoming enemy. The NVA returned with a grenade of their own, injuring Lemon. He managed to take down all but one enemy. As soon as the Communist soldier reached his position, Lemon dispatched him in hand-to-hand combat.

That’s when fate stepped in. The day before, Illingworth received a shipment of 40 tons of 8-inch artillery shells it couldn’t use. The ammo was dumped in the middle of the base, and as soon as Lemon killed his attacker, the shells all detonated. The blast knocked Lemon to the ground and tore apart anyone near it.

Still, he managed to pick himself up, take a buddy to the aid station, and grab more grenades. He was shot by incoming NVA bullets for his trouble, but he pressed on. Then, realizing the base was about to be overrun, he charged the incoming enemy waves, tossing grenades and knocking them down with his fists as he moved, completely routing them.

He then retook another machine gun and fired into the NVA hordes (while standing fully in the open) until he passed out.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
Lemon manning his machine gun.
(Artist’s rendering)

If all of that wasn’t enough, he refused medical evacuation until his more seriously wounded friends took off first. Lemon, now a motivational speaker, dedicates his Medal of Honor to his three friends who died in the fighting, Casey Waller, Brent Street, and Nathan Mann.

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This MARSOC recruiting video looks like a Hollywood movie

Every day, young men and women walk into their local Marine recruiting office with the prospect of joining the Corps. How could they not? The military knows how to make a compelling commercial or inspirational poster. The recruiter will also toss out some motivating terms like honor and respect just to wet an idealist’s beak.


But there’s one epic recruiting tool that helps give the individual that much needed push to make their final decision to sign up — the motivating recruiting video.

For MARSOC — or Marine Special Operations Command — the standard recruiting video takes it one step further. Their video comes with a unique narrative and badass soundtrack, and showcases a well-disciplined Marine rising out of the river in slow motion.

Related: This is what ‘Black Friday’ is like for new Marine recruits

Where do we sign up? (Image via Giphy)MARSOC is one of our nation’s most elite fighting forces; its members are ready to respond to any crisis, anywhere.

These small but well-trained Marine units embrace the unknown and are prepared to face any challenge. To earn a position on a MARSOC team takes a superhuman effort and the willingness to go above and beyond.

Also Read: 7 unrealistic Navy SEAL characters in the movies

Training takes place in three different phases consisting over a ten-week period. Each stage is specifically designed to expose each the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses before continuing.

The assessment and selection process mentally and physically challenges each potential team member, and completion of the course doesn’t guarantee a spot on the team. Only the best make the cut.

Once selected, team members can deploy anywhere at anytime with limited notice. Their missions are secret, as well as the identities of the members.

Check out MARSOC’s video below to see the cinematic recruiting video for yourself. We dare you not to join.

MARSOC, YouTube
Articles

That time an American cruise missile hit the wrong continent

Today, we see cruise missiles as very accurate. This was not always the case. In fact, one cruise missile has the distinction of hitting the wrong continent – and it was quite a miss.


That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
SM-62 Snark in flight. (USAF photo)

The missile in question was the SM-62 Snark. It was intended to help deter Soviet aggression. According to Designation-Systems.net, with a maximum range of 6,000 miles and a top speed of 550 knots, it had a W39 nuclear warhead with a 4 megaton yield – 20 times as powerful as the W80 used on the Tomahawk cruise missile and the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile.

It flew at 50,000 feet – which at the time made it hard to intercept with enemy anti-aircraft missiles.

The Snark needed the big warhead. The closest it came to hitting its target was within about eight miles. That is a very far cry from the 260 feet that Designation-Systems.net cited the early models of the Tomahawk cruise missile achieving.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
SM-62 Snark missile on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

But Air Force magazine described the miss to end all misses. On Dec. 5, 1956, a Snark was launched with a flight plan to cruise to Puerto Rico and return to its base in Florida. Only, it stopped responding to signals.

Even a self-destruct command didn’t work. The Air Force scrambled fighters to shoot down the wayward missile, but they couldn’t pull off the intercept – proving that the design got that part right.

Ultimately, the missile went beyond tracking range – last seen headed towards Brazil. The missile would remain missing for 26 years until some wreckage was found in that South American country.

According to a Reuters report in the Regina Leader-Post, unidentified Brazilians found the parts and reported them.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
SM-62 Snark launching from Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. (USAF photo)

Designation-Systems.net reported that the Snark would achieve a brief period of fully operational service from February to June 1961 (an initial operating capability was established in 1959). But then-President John F. Kennedy ordered the one active wing to stand down, largely due to the development of inter-continental ballistic missiles.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A camera can now grab facial expressions from miles away

Here’s the brief story of an obscenely large picture.

It’s the brainchild of a company called Jingkun Technology, or BigPixel, taken from atop the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.

What it is not, contrary to chatter on social media this week, is some evil new Chinese satellite “quantum technology.”

It’s just a very, very big picture, and according to the company, more than 8 million people have explored it.

The company said the photo’s resolution is a mind-blowing 195 gigapixels.


MIGHTY TRENDING

US hits Iran with new sanctions over nuclear program

The United States has hit Tehran with new sanctions, targeting 31 Iranian scientists, technicians, and companies it says have been involved in the country’s nuclear and missile research and development programs.

In a statement on March 22, 2019, the U.S. State Department said the 14 individuals and 17 entities targeted were affiliated with Iran’s Organization for Defense Innovation and Research.

It said the group, known by its Persian acronym SPND, was “established by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of the regime’s past nuclear weapons program.”


President Donald Trump’s administration “continues to hold the Iranian regime accountable for activities that threaten the region’s stability and harm the Iranian people. This includes ensuring that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon,” the statement said.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

(President Donald Trump)

(Photo by Michael Vadon)

The U.S. Treasury Department said that among those targeted was the Shahid Karimi group, which it said works on missile and explosive-related projects for the SPND, and four associated individuals.

The government “is taking decisive action against actors at all levels in connection with [the SPND] who have supported the Iranian regime’s defense sector,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation,” he said.

The Treasury Department said the sanctions — which freeze any U.S. assets of those named and bans U.S. dealings with them — target current SPND subordinate groups, supporters, front companies, and associated officials.

The announcement of new sanctions came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Beirut warning Lebanese officials to curb the influence of the Iran-backed Hizballah movement.

Pompeo said that Hizballah is a terrorist organization and should not be allowed to set policies or wield power despite its presence in Lebanon’s parliament and government.

On March 21, 2019, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Tehran intended to boost its defense capabilities despite pressure from the United States and its allies to restrict the country’s ballistic-missile program.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States has urged the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran over its recent ballistic-missile test and the launches of two satellites, saying they violated Security Council resolutions.

On March 7, 2019, acting U.S. Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen condemned what he called “Iran’s destabilizing activities” in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Cohen called on Tehran “to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

The U.S. envoy’s statement cited a 2015 UN resolution that “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from tests of ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

The United States has reimposed sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a landmark 2015 agreement under which Tehran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump said that Tehran was not living up to the “spirit” of the accord because of its support of militants in the region and for continuing to test nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Tehran has denied it supports terrorist activity and says its missile and nuclear programs are strictly for civilian purposes.

Featured image: Fars News Agency.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Step inside a 30-ton Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle built to battle onto enemy beaches

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — For more than four decades, the amphibious assault vehicle has been key to getting Marines ashore and into the fight.


US Marine Corps AAVs are large, tracked vehicles capable of operating in the water and on land that are essential for getting Marines onto the beach in an assault, and Insider recently had the opportunity to climb inside.

i.insider.com

The AAV replaced the older Landing Vehicle, Tracked (LVT) and is expected to eventually be replaced by the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), but for now, the AAV is the go-to vehicle for amphibious assaults.

Over the past month, the Marines at Camp Pendleton in California have been training with their Japanese partners to execute an amphibious assault in the latest iteration of Iron Fist.

“AAVs bring a lot to that fight,” 2nd Lt. Nicholas Pierret, an officer in charge on a live-fire range, told Insider as the gunners practiced putting fire down range.

An AAV is a lightly-armored, fully-tracked amphibious landing vehicle specifically designed to get troops from ship to shore, as well as take troops inland to continue the fight.

Although Marine Corps AAVs are more than 40 years old, these 30-ton tracked vehicles are still the “the number one vehicle” to perform the amphibious assault task, Pierret told Insider.

These heavy “amphibious tractors” are commonly called “amtracs” or “tracks” by Marines.

Each AAV can carry around two dozen Marines and their gear.

The standard operating procedure for these vehicles is three operators — the crew chief, the driver, and the rear crewman — and 21 infantry.

The crew are sometimes referred to as “trackers.”

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Marines drive an AAV into the water during training at Camp Pendleton, California.

Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie/US Marine Corps

It is currently the only operational Marine Corps vehicle capable of operating on land and in the water.

AAVs can run at a maximum speed of around 45 mph on land but only about 8 mph in the water, where they maintain an exceptionally low profile with over 75 percent of this amphibious armored personnel carrier submerged.

The AAV has a V-8 diesel engine that powers two water jets that propel it through water. In combat, it can push through waves up to 10 feet high. The ride can be rough, and there are no seat belts. It’s not uncommon for people to throw up.

AAVs are armed with significantly more firepower than the infantry units they carry ashore.

The amtracs, as the Marine’s call them, are equipped with a Mk 19 40mm grenade launcher and M2HB .50-caliber machine gun, weapons operated by the crew chief.

“Those are heavy firepower assets. Infantry has nothing that compares,” Pierret explained.

AAVs can be outfitted with additional weaponry as needed.

For example, the Marines have AAVs outfitted with Mk 154 Mine Clearing Line Charges (MICLICs) that can fire a rocket-propelled explosive line charge filled with C4 to eliminate mines and improvised explosive devices.

These AAVs can clear an entire lane out to a distance of about 100 yards.

In addition to these assets, the Marines inside all have their service weapons.

Each of the infantrymen riding in the AAV will dismount with their M4 service rifle.

Besides bringing extra firepower to the fight, another thing AAVs are really good for is logistics.

“They can carry supplies, ammo, MREs,” Pierret told Insider, referring to the sealed Meals Ready to Eat that troops eat in the field. “An AAV is also a very good casualty evacuation platform.”

On land, additional gear can be stored externally.

Marines can also live inside an AAV if necessary.

An amphibious assault vehicle is big enough to serve as an armored battle camper when necessary. Some Marines are said to call it a battle RV.

Sgt. Juan Torres Jr., a section leader, told Insider that he once lived out of an AAV for almost a month and a half. “You’re out in the field,” he said, “This is your home.”

Marines can even shower in them.

Theoretically, there is supposed to be air circulating inside the vehicle, but when it’s packed with Marines and the engine is running, it gets really hot, one Marine told Insider.

“A couple days in the field, and we’re smelly,” they said.

AAV crews can shower in their tracks using five gallon jugs filled with water carried onboard or stored in the hull. The AAV can hold up to 171 gallons of any liquid.

It takes a ton of maintenance to keep these old amtracs operational.

A few hours of training can require as much as four times as much prep work and maintenance, Torres told Insider.

“The four hours of cool stuff we get to do adds up to about 16 hours of hard work and preparation if not more,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How this heroic bomber crew saved the day after an ejection seat failure

In a stunning story of split-second decision-making under pressure, heroic, selfless action, and remarkable airmanship, the drama of what really happened in a burning B-1B bomber over Texas on May 1, 2018 has finally been revealed.

June 2018 in Washington, Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Heather Wilson finally told reporters and Air Force personnel what has been secretly talked about on back-channels since the incident occurred, Air Force Times Tara Copp reported.

A B-1B supersonic heavy bomber from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas was returning from a routine training sortie on May 1, 2018. The aircraft’s young crew of four, the senior aircraft commander — likely the instructor, the copilot, an offensive systems operator, and the defensive systems operator were on board. The names of the crew have not yet been released.


A fire warning light illuminated in the cockpit. According to credible reports, it was likely the number three engine on the aircraft’s right wing located closest to the fuselage. The number two and number three engines are the closest to the complex apparatus that moves the B-1B’s variable geometry swept wings. They are also close to the aircraft fuel tanks.

The crew initiated the emergency checklist procedures for extinguishing a fire in an engine. It was likely calm but businesslike in the cockpit.

The fire continued. The final item on the emergency checklist is: “Eject”.

The early B-1A prototypes were originally designed with a crew escape capsule that rocketed off the fuselage as one unit. The escape capsule was not engineered into production B-1B bombers when the program was renewed in 1982 by the Reagan administration. As a result, four lighter weight individual Weber Aircraft ACES II (Advanced Crew Ejection Seat II) ejection seats were installed in production B-1Bs. The ACES II is a proven and effective ejection seat with well over 600 successful crew escapes and the lowest frequency of user injuries of any ejection seat in history.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
Original test B-1As were equipped with a crew escape capsule. Individual ejection seats were used on the operational B-1B.

When the aircraft commander ordered the ejection of the crew from the burning aircraft over Texas the first crewmember to actuate their ejection seat was the right/rear seat on the aircraft, the Offensive Systems Operator.

When the crewmember pulled the ejection seat handles the hatch above the OSO’s ejection seat exploded off the aircraft. But the Offensive Systems Operator ejection seat did not fire. The Offensive Systems Operator was trapped under an open hatch on an armed ejection seat in a burning aircraft. Other than having a fire in the cockpit, this was a worse-case scenario.

Dr. Wilson told reporters that, “Within two seconds of knowing that had happened the aircraft commander says, ‘Cease ejection. We’ll try to land.”

Secretary Wilson told reporters on Monday that after the ejection sequence was initiated in the B-1B, “That did two things. First the airman who’s sitting on an ejection seat where he’s pulled the fire pins ― and sits there for the next 25 minutes. Wondering whether ― it’s like pulling out the pin on a grenade and holding it as you come in to land. And not knowing whether the next piece of turbulence is going to cause you to launch.”

Having cancelled the ejection of the crew from the burning bomber, the aircraft commander declared an emergency and diverted to Midland International Air and Space Port between Midland and Odessa, Texas, over 150 miles from their original base at Dyess AFB.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
Composite image made from FB/Time Fischer/Midland Reporter photographs that show the missing hatch.

The pilot and flight crew flew the B-1B the entire way to Midland while it was on fire with a missing hatch, had no cockpit pressurization and an armed ejection seat that could fire at any moment without warning. Even the impact of a normal landing could have triggered the ejection seat to ignite its rockets and leave the aircraft.

The crew recovered the aircraft to Midland without injury or further damage to the aircraft, saving every member on board and the 400 million-dollar B-1B.

Dr. Heather Wilson concluded her recounting of the heroic B-1B crew’s actions by acknowledging, “The courage it took and the valor represented by that aircraft commander who decided, ‘We are going to try for all of us to make it, rather than sacrifice the one guy who can’t get out.’ Those are the men and women who choose to wear the uniform of the United States Air Force.”

The B-1 incident led to a temporary stand-down of the whole B-1 fleet as all ejection seats were inspected. The grounding was lifted on Jun. 19, 2018.

Featured image: the B-1B from Dyess AFB after the May 1, 2018 emergency landing in Texas. Notice the missing hatch on top of the aircraft. (Time Fischer/Midland Reporter-Telegram)

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Macron will bring a ‘Devil Dog’ Marines tribute to the White House

French President Emmanuel Macron said April 22, 2018, that he is bringing a living tribute to “Devil Dog” Marines who fell in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood to the White House as a symbol of the two nations’ enduring ties.

The oak sapling from the battle site will be presented to President Donald Trump in hopes that it will be planted in the White House garden, Macron said in an interview on the “Fox News Sunday” program from the Elysee Palace in Paris.


Macron arrives in the U.S. April 23, 2018, on a three-day visit that is expected to focus on the way forward in Syria following the April 13, 2018 missile strikes, and on France’s concern that Trump may pull the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to halt Iran’s nuclear programs.

“Retreat? Hell, we just got here”

The battle of Bois de Belleau, or Belleau Wood, about 60 miles north of Paris near the Marne River in the Champagne region, has entered Marine Corps lore. It’s best known among Marines as the place where they were first called “Devil Dogs” for their fierce defense in June 1918, that blunted the German spring offensive.

A dispatch from the German front lines to higher headquarters described the Americans blocking their way and mounting counter-offensives as fighting like “Teufel Hunden,” or “Hounds of Hell.”

At one point, French forces moving to the rear to regroup urged the Marines to join them. The response from a Marine, attributed to either Capt. Lloyd W. Williams of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, or Maj. Frederic Wise, was, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.”

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
U.S. Marines in Belleau Wood (1918).
(Illustration by Georges Scott)

Once they consolidated their positions, the Marines would attack six times through mustard gas and withering machine-gun fire before the Germans were driven from the wood. An estimated 2,000 Marines were killed.

An official German report later described the Marines as “vigorous, self-confident, and remarkable marksmen.”

Army Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, marveled at the tenacity of the “Devil Dogs” of Belleau Wood in a quote that has also become part of the Marine legend.

“The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle,” Pershing said.

He added that, “the battle of Belleau Wood was for the U.S. the biggest battle since Appomattox and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy” to that time.

The oak sapling Macron will give to Trump was taken from a site near the so-called “Devil Dog Fountain,” where U.S. troops gathered after the battle of Belleau Wood. The fountain’s spout is in the shape of the head of a bull mastiff.

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
(Photo by G.Garitan)

The gift of the sapling is not the first time Macron has sought to firm up relations with a world leader by playing to their affections for the armed forces and military pageantry.

During a state visit to China early 2018, Macron gave Chinese President Xi Jinping a horse from the elite French Republican Guard. Macron had remembered that Xi was impressed with his official escort of 104 horsemen during a visit to Paris in 2014.

July 2017, in Paris, Trump was similarly impressed by the military formations and fly-bys at the annual Bastille Day Parade. The parade in France was believed to have been a factor in Trump’s decision to order a military parade in Washington, D.C. on Veterans Day 2018.

Trumps, Macrons to dine at Mount Vernon

That time dead communist revolutionaries showed up at a Soviet seance
President Donald Trump with President Emmanuel Macron.

On April 23, 2018, Macron and his wife, Brigitte, will join Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a private dinner at the historic Mount Vernon, Virginia, estate of George Washington. Macron will also address Congress and attend an official state dinner at the White House.

Although they have had differences on climate change, tariffs, and Syria, Macron said he was committed to working with Trump and he sidestepped the possible repercussions from the long-running special counsel investigation swirling around the White House.

“I never wonder [about] that,” Macron said of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. “I mean, I work with him. I work with him because both of us are very much at the service of our country on both sides,” Macron said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Here, in this office, I’m not the one to judge and in certain way, to explain to your people what should be your president,” Macron said. “I’m here to deal with the president of the United States. And people of the United States elected Donald Trump.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

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