Were iron maidens ever actually used? - We Are The Mighty
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Were iron maidens ever actually used?

PandaGuy5 asks: Were people ever really tortured in Iron Maidens?

The people of the Middle Ages have a reputation for wanton brutality and, as supposed evidence of this, countless instruments of torture sit in museums around the world, arguably the most famous of which being the Iron Maiden. This hellish contraption supposedly caused unthinkable pain and anguish for those unlucky enough to be sentenced to suffer its merciless sting, condemning them to a slow and agonizing death. Or, at least, that’s what the stories say, because as far as anyone can tell, the Iron Maiden didn’t exist as a real world object until the 19th century- and for reference here the so-called “Medieval Times” are generally considered to have ended around the end of the 15th century.

So who invented the Iron Maiden and why, how did it become the face of Medieval torture, and has anyone actually ever been killed in one?


As for historical examples, there are a couple references to similar devices in history, with the oldest being a device known today as the “Iron Apega”, supposedly made about 2,200 years ago. Described by Greek historian Polybius, the device was an automaton replica of the wife of 2nd and 3rd century BC Spartan leader Nabis, with the woman in question named- you guessed it- Apega.

Were iron maidens ever actually used?

Various neo-medieval torture instruments. An iron maiden stands at the right.

The automaton was apparently lavishly dressed up in one of Apega’s outfits, with Polybius then stating of those who were made to meet the wife replica,

When the man offered her his hand, he made the woman rise from her chair and taking her in his arms drew her gradually to his bosom. Both her arms and hands as well as her breasts were covered with iron nails … so that when Nabis rested his hands on her back and then by means of certain springs drew his victim towards her … he made the man thus embraced say anything and everything. Indeed by this means he killed a considerable number of those who denied him money.

So in a nutshell of the whole story, anyone who refused to pay their taxes would be made to give this mechanical version of his wife a hug, with at any point them being able to make the hug of death stop if they agreed to pay. If they did not, the hug continued until they died. Whether this device actually existed or not, or was just an allusion to Apega’s supposedly ruthless nature to match the reported cruelty of her husband, isn’t know.

Moving on from there, we have an account from one of the earliest Christian authors and the so-called “Father of Latin Christianity”, Tertullian, who lived in the second and third century AD. In his work “To the Martyrs”, he states of the death of Roman General and consul Marcus Atilius Regulus,

It would take me too long to enumerate one by one the men who at their own self-impulse have put an end to themselves…. Regulus, a Roman general, who had been taken prisoner by the Carthaginians, declined to be exchanged for a large number of Carthaginian captives, choosing rather to be given back to the enemy. He was crammed into a sort of chest; and, everywhere pierced by nails driven from the outside, he endured so many crucifixions.

A follow up account by Augustine of Hippo in his 5th century “City of God” elaborates on the tale of Regulus’ death,

Marcus Attilius Regulus, a Roman general, was a prisoner in the hands of the Carthaginians. But they, being more anxious to exchange their prisoners with the Romans than to keep them, sent Regulus as a special envoy with their own ambassadors to negotiate this exchange, but bound him first with an oath, that if he failed to accomplish their wish, he would return to Carthage. He went and persuaded the senate to the opposite course, because he believed it was not for the advantage of the Roman republic to make an exchange of prisoners. After he had thus exerted his influence, the Romans did not compel him to return to the enemy; but what he had sworn he voluntarily performed. But the Carthaginians put him to death with refined, elaborate, and horrible tortures. They shut him up in a narrow box, in which he was compelled to stand, and in which finely sharpened nails were fixed all round about him, so that he could not lean upon any part of it without intense pain; and so they killed him by depriving him of sleep…

That said, whether any of that actually happened or not is up for debate as 1st century BC Greek historian Diodorus claims Regulus died of natural causes, with no mention of such a torture device involved.

Were iron maidens ever actually used?

Regulus returning to Carthage (1791) by Andries Cornelis Lens.

Moving on from there are old European fairy tales of unknown dating and origin, in which certain individuals were killed by being placed inside casks that had nails driven in. The cask would then apparently be rolled down a steep hill, sometimes into water… which if we’re being honest almost sounds worse than the actual Iron Maiden. Sort of the spiked version of death by a thousand papercuts and then as a reward at the end, terrifying slow drowning as you writhe in agony from all the little holes in your body; no doubt also trying to reflexively break the cask to get out once it starts to fill with water, creating some more holes in the process. We suppose at least this one’s a bit quicker, if a lot more dramatic.

Other than that, there are no references to such an Iron Maiden-like device until just before the 19th century. This first reference comes from German philosopher, linguist, archeologist, and professor at the University of Altdorf, Johann Philipp Siebenkees in 1793.

According to Siebenkees, on August 14, 1515 a coin forger was sentenced to die in a casket that had metal spikes driven into various parts lined up with particularly sensitive bits of the forger’s anatomy. Writes Siebenkees,:

the very sharp points penetrated his arms, and his legs in several places, and his belly and chest, and his bladder and the root of his member (penis), and his eyes, and his shoulders, and his buttocks, but not enough to kill him; and so he remained making great cry and lament for two days, after which he died.

Of course, if this was a real method of execution used, each such cask would have had to have been custom spiked for each new victim in order to line everything up perfectly, given people come in all shapes and sizes. This creates something of a logistical problem that many other means of torturing and killing someone wouldn’t have. Nevertheless, Siebenkees claimed it happened at least this once. So did it?

Well, given the complete lack of evidence or even reference to any other such Iron Maiden-like device used elsewhere in this era, nor who this forger was or any such pertinent details other than the oddly specific date, most historians think he made it up, or that this was an exaggerated tale of the use of a device that we do know existed in Europe.

So what was this real instrument of torture? Sometimes called the Schandmantel (“coat of shame”), the “Drunkard’s Cloak”, or the “Spanish Mantle”, this was essentially a wooden cask someone who was being punished for some crime would be made to wear about town- sort of a mobile version of stocks with similar purpose- mocking someone publicly and having people throw random things at them, in this case as they trudged along.

Were iron maidens ever actually used?

The Schandmantel.

Consider this account from Ralph Gardiner’s 17th century England’s Grievance Discovered,

men drove up and down the streets, with a great tub, or barrel, opened in the sides, with a hole in one end, to put through their heads, and to cover their shoulders and bodies, down to the small of their legs, and then close the same, called the new fashioned cloak, and so make them march to the view of all beholders; and this is their punishment for drunkards, or the like.

Jumping across the pond to the land of the free, at least some soldiers were not always so free, as noted in an article titled “A Look at the Federal Army,” published in 1862 where the author states,

I was extremely amused to see a ‘rare’ specimen of Yankee invention, in the shape of an original method of punishment drill. One wretched delinquent was gratuitously framed in oak, his head being thrust through a hole cut in one end of a barrel, the other end of which had been removed; and the poor fellow ‘loafed’ about in the most disconsolate manner, looking for all the world like a half-hatched chicken…

In another account by one John Howard in 1784 in his “The State of Prisons in England and Wales”, he writes,

Denmark-
Some of the lower sort, as watchmen,coachmen, etc., are punished by being led through the city in what is called ‘The Spanish Mantle.’ This is a kind of heavy vest, something like a tub, with an aperture for the head, and irons to enclose the neck. I measured one at Berlin, 1ft 8 in. in diameter at the top, 2 ft. 11 in at the bottom, and 2 ft. 11 in high… This mode of punishment is particularly dreaded, and is one cause that night robberies are never heard of in Copenhagen.

Of course, much like the Iron Maiden, as you’ll note from the dates mentioned here, most detailed contemporary accounts of these devices of humiliation and sometimes torture seem to indicate they weren’t really a Medieval thing, despite sometimes claimed to go back to the 13th century in Germany.

In any event, whether Siebenkees’s much more elaborate cask with spikes put in was really just a tale he picked up that was exaggerating these “coats of shame”, he made it up completely, or whether some inventive executioner thought to add the addition of spikes to such a cask and a forger really was executed in this way in the 16th century isn’t known, with most leaning towards Siebenkees making it up. Even if it did really happen, however, this still is post Medieval times by most people’s reckoning.

Whatever the case, a handful of years after Siebenkees’ account, the first known actual Iron Maiden appeared in a Nuermburg museum in 1802 not far away from Siebenkees’ home in Altdorf. This device was supposedly “discovered” in a German castle in the late 18th century. Not just a cask, this killing machine was roughly human shaped, made of iron, and even had a face, supposedly based on the face of the Virgin Mary, hence the torture instrument’s name- the Iron Maiden.

Were iron maidens ever actually used?

The Madonna in Sorrow.

(Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato)

This probably first real Iron Maiden was sadly destroyed during WW2 by Allied bombers, but a copy created “as decoration for the ‘Gothic Hall’ of a patrician palace in Milan” in 1828 survived and currently resides in the Rothenburg, das Kriminalmuseum (Museum of Crime). From this copy, we can see that the device was certainly designed to cause unimaginable agony in its victims. Along with having strategically placed spikes designed to pierce approximately where a person’s vital organs and sensitive nether-region dangly bits are, the face of the Maiden did indeed have spikes designed to pierce a victim’s eyes upon closing, assuming the person wasn’t vertically challenged.

This copy did a lot to help popularize the idea of the Iron Maiden as a real thing thanks to its prominent display at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago, and subsequent tour across the United States to much fanfare.

Incidentally, this was the same World’s Fair that gave us the name “Ferris Wheel” for a device previously called a “pleasure wheel,” with George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.’ iconic version being rather massive compared to anything that had come before, holding an astounding 2,160 people at a time. This was also the same fair that saw famed serial killer H.H. Holmes taking advantage of the extra people in town looking for a place to stay, keeping business booming at his so-called “House of Horrors Hotel”.

Going back to the Iron Maiden, beyond the tour of one of the originals and extra exposure at the World’s Fair, another man largely credited with popularising the idea of the Iron Maiden was 19th century art collector Matthew Peacock. Among other things, he managed to collect a wide variety of historic torture devices to, as he put it: “Show the dark spirit of the Middle Ages in contrast to the progress of humanity.”

You see, at the time it was en vogue to not just act like people from Medieval Times were all Scientific rubes (which is where the myth that people in Medieval Times thought that the world was flat came from despite all evidence to the contrary), but also that they were extremely barbaric, with the Iron Maiden creating a rather nice illustration of this supposed fact.

Naturally, unable to find the Real McCoy, Peacock cobbled together an Iron Maiden apparently partially from real artifacts of other means of torture, and then donated it to a museum to be displayed as a symbolic representation of the former era’s cruelty.

The public ate all of this up and the idea of the Iron Maiden slowly permeated throughout society to the point that most today assume it was a real thing used to kill people in a slow and very painful way during Medieval Times.

Were iron maidens ever actually used?

An open iron maiden.

This all brings us the question of whether anyone has ever actually been tortured or killed in one? The answer, surprisingly, is possibly, but not in Medieval Times, nor even apparently in historic ones, unless you consider a couple decades ago historic.

Enter Uday Hussein. The eldest son of Saddam started his murderous rampage apparently by bludgeoning to death one Kamel Gegeo, who was at the time Saddam’s bodyguard, valet and food taster. This murder was done in front of a host of party guests in 1988. The party in question was in Egypt, in honor of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne. As to what Gegeo did to incite Uday’s rage, he apparently hooked Saddam up with a woman, Samira Shahbandar. Samira was married when Saddam met her, but that was quickly taken care of, freeing him up to take her as one of his mistresses and, later, as his second wife.

While still in the mistress stage, Uday decided to kill Gegeo for the facilitation of Saddam’s illicit relationship, which Uday seems to have felt was an affront to his own mother.

Saddam did sentence his son to death for this murder, but a few months later switched to exiling him to Switzerland, with the Swiss government allowing the well-known recent murderer to enter the country for some bizarre reason. However, after frequent run-ins with the law there, the Swiss finally gave him the boot and he returned to Iraq without apparent consequence. If all that wasn’t enough of a testament of what a swell fella’ Uday was, beyond some confirmed assassination attempts and other murders by the lovable rapscallion, rumors of frequent rape of random women swirled around Uday…

This all brings us back to the Iron Maiden and Uday’s eventual appointment as the chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and the Iraq Football Association. In those positions, accusations were rampant that Uday occasionally had various athletes tortured when they were thought to have either under performed or otherwise screwed up in some way in competition. These included doing things like ripping their toenails off, scalding their feet, subjecting them to extreme sleep deprivation, having them kick cement balls, and dragged across gravel roads followed by being dipped into sewage… Allegedly after a 4-1 loss to Japan in the Asian Cup in 2000, he also had three of the players deemed responsible for the defeat beaten repeatedly for a few days.

As for the Iron Maiden, after Uday’s death and the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, a mere twenty or so meters away from the Iraqi Football Association headquarters an Iron Maiden was found on the ground. Time Magazine’s Bobby Ghosh states of this find,

The one found in Baghdad was clearly worn from use, its nails having lost some of their sharpness. It lay on its side within view of Uday’s first-floor offices in the soccer association. Ironically, the torture device was brought to TIME’s attention by a group of looters who had been stripping the compound of anything of value. They had left behind the iron maiden, believing it to be worthless.

That said, despite this report, there is no actual hard evidence the Iron Maiden was used, nor blood found on the device or the like. But given all the rumors of Uday’s penchant for torturing people, and some of the confirmed things he did do, as well as the device’s location, at the least he is presumed to have used it as a method of terrorizing people, as was more the norm even in Medieval Times with actual real world torture devices, rather than frequently using them.

All that said, given his proclivities for murdering people who upset him, it is further speculated by many that he might have actually followed through and killed someone with it at some point. But, again, despite reports, so far there has never been any concrete evidence of this, so it’s still not wholly clear if anyone was ever actually killed by an Iron Maiden or not.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

Also read:

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    “Rather than expressing the carrier as uniquely vulnerable, I would say it is the most survivable airfield within the field of fire,” Richardson said Feb. 6, 2019, in response to questions about carrier vulnerability. “This is an airfield that can move 720 miles a day that has tremendous self-defense capabilities.”

    “If you think about the sequence of events that has to emerge to be able to target and hit something that can move that much, and each step in that chain of events can be disrupted from the sensing part all the way back to the homing part, it’s the most survivable airfield in the area,” he said.

    Richardson said the carrier is less vulnerable now than at any time since World War II, when the US Navy was putting carriers in action, and those carriers were in combat taking hits. “The carrier is going to be a viable force element for the foreseeable future.”

    US carriers are particularly hard, albeit not impossible, to kill.

    “It wouldn’t be impossible to hit an aircraft carrier, but unless they hit it with a nuke, an aircraft carrier should be able to take on substantial damage,” retired Capt. Talbot Manvel, who served as an aircraft-carrier engineer and was involved in the design of the new Ford-class carriers, told Business Insider previously.

    US carriers “can take a lick and keep on ticking,” he said.

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

    MIGHTY MOVIES

    Montel Williams seeks veterans for home makeovers

    Saying thank you for your service is not enough, according to veteran and talk show icon Montel Williams. But he does have a few ideas on other ways to show gratitude for military service.

    He’s teamed up with WWE to find the next veteran for a home makeover that will be featured on Lifetime TV’s “Military Makeover with Montel.”


    “We take these veterans and we literally make their home over from top to bottom,” Williams said during a phone interview. “We do, not just a facelift, but everything, from the floors, the ceilings to you name it, to make sure the veteran has what we call a forever home once we get done.”

    Since 2015 the show has worked with one veteran family per quarter to makeover their home within 10 days, with 20 homes completed to date. Most episodes, Williams said, have featured families who have been in the midst of transitioning from military to civilian life. A few have featured veterans who have already left the military, but Williams adds any deserving veteran family will be considered as long as they own their own home.

    He’s personally been involved in making over six homes, having taken over the show after the death of Military Makeover’s previous host Lee Ermey.

    Williams said the reactions on the show have been great, not just from the service members, but from everyone in the community. The show uses volunteers and donations from local vendors to renovate the homes.

    “Everybody is uplifted,” Williams said.

    Hosting a home makeover show is also a good way to show appreciation for a group Williams describes as underappreciated.

    “I think it’s a really good way to do more than say ‘thank you for your service,'” Williams said.

    Williams is a 22-year veteran who served in the Marine Corps and Navy before starting his television career. Like many veterans, he’s come to see the phrase ‘thank you for your service’ as hollow and meaningless.

    “I’ve been saying this for over a year. When people say ‘thank you for your service’ it’s lip service or a passing phrase, like you say ‘good morning’ to people when you walk by and don’t even wait for a person’s response,” he said.

    In addition to his own service, Williams is a longtime veterans’ advocate. He serves on the board of directors for the Fisher House — a charity providing lodging near DOD and VA facilities for the families of those receiving care. He also works with an organization that help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and has an upcoming project designed for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    Williams launched a new national campaign to makeover the home of a veteran. (Photo courtesy of Military Families Magazine.)

    Williams said he believes the current coronavirus pandemic has put showing genuine gratitude to veterans even further from the forefront of people’s minds.

    “Right now, while we’re suffering through this COVID-19 pandemic, every day of the week people applaud our first responders. When they think about people on the frontline, they think about doctors, nurses and first responders to this virus here on U.S. soil,” Williams said. “We have ships and submarines and aircraft carriers and airplanes and deployed forward bases where people don’t have the same luxury of being able to social distance. These guys are out there every single day putting their lives on the line for us.”

    While not everyone has the resources of a television legend, Williams insists there are things average people can do to show their appreciation to veterans.

    “You don’t have to makeover a veteran’s home to contribute to a veteran’s life,” Williams said. He said providing meals, volunteering to babysit or mowing an injured veteran’s lawn are great ways for people to show their appreciation.

    “Why not go out and do a gesture, not just of being a good neighbor, but deliberately doing something to help out our veterans?” Williams asked. “Remember that there’s a military family on every block in every community across this country. Reach out and do a little bit more than just say ‘thank you for your service.'”

    Another way people can show appreciation is by going to Tag A Hero and nominating a veteran for a home makeover before May 31.

    Williams has joined forces with WWE star Lacey Evans, a Marine veteran, to gain awareness for the new national campaign, but they are in need of more nominations.

    “Lacey Evans, who is one of their stars, has become one of our team members on Military Makeover. She convinced [WWE] to reach out to their viewers to nominate veterans in their community,” Williams said.

    The application submission deadline for the latest campaign is May 31st. On July 13, Montel Williams and WWE Superstar Lacey Evans will appear on Facebook and Instagram announcing the home makeover recipient.

    This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    What US Navy’s visit to WWII hub means for war in the Pacific

    When the USS Emory S. Land, one of the Navy’s two submarine tenders, sailed into the Ulithi Atoll on Dec. 7, 2019, it was a return to a major hub for US operations in World War II and yet another sign the US military is thinking about how it would fight a war in the Pacific.

    Only four of the atoll’s 40 small islands are inhabited, but they all surround one of the world’s largest lagoons, which was a vital jumping-off point for the Navy as it island-hopped closer to the Japanese mainland during the war.

    “It was the logistical hub for the invasions in the Philippines, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa — all of those operations were launched from the base at Ulithi,” Capt. Michael Luckett, commanding officer of the Emory S. Land, said in a release. “At the height, there were as many as 700 ships anchored there in the lagoon, including dry docks, repair ships, tenders, battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and sea planes.”


    The Philippines, which includes Leyte Gulf, and the Japanese islands, including Okinawa, are part of the Pacific’s first island chain, of which Taiwan is also part.

    Farther east is the second island chain, comprising Japan’s volcanic islands, which include Iwo Jima, and the Mariana Islands, which are administered by the US and include Guam, where the Land and fellow tender USS Frank Cable are stationed.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    The approximate boundaries of the first and second island chains in the western Pacific.

    (US Defense Department)

    The island chain strategy has been around for some time, developed with the Soviet Union in mind. It has gained renewed attention as China’s influence has risen.

    The first island chain is now within reach of Chinese naval and land-based weapons, while the second island chain is an important strategic line of defense for the US. Ulithi, west of Guam, has an important place between the two.

    “It’s a convenient place to operate that’s relatively close but not so close that you’re going to be exposed to large numbers of either Chinese forces or Chinese missile attack, potentially,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

    While underway replenishment is common for the Navy today, calm waters inside atolls like Ulithi still make them valuable spots to resupply submarines and surface ships.

    “One thing you can’t do while you’re underway is rearming. So a ship that launches a bunch of missiles … they can’t just send the missiles over and reload them at sea,” said Clark, who was a Navy submariner and led development of strategy as special assistant to the chief of naval operations.

    “You pretty much have to pull into port” to rearm, Clark said. “So this would be a way to have the ship pull into the atoll, have the tender load up the missiles in the [vertical launching system] magazine, and then the ship can go back out rearmed,” Clark added.

    In a conflict, the release said, Ulithi “could again represent a logistical hub capable of supporting the fleet.”

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    Sailors aboard submarine tender USS Emory S. Land look on as submarine tender USS Frank Cable departs Apra Harbor in Guam for sea trials, December 16, 2019.

    (US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class Heather C. Wamsley)

    Not just submarines

    The Land and Cable, usually working out of Guam or Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, provide maintenance and logistical support to US ships in the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

    “They’re designed mainly for submarines because submarines have more maintenance requirements, but they actually do maintenance on surface ships as well,” Clark said.

    They mostly do minor repairs, but they can work on more complex systems like nuclear reactors. Tenders also have dive teams that can do perform repairs on the hull and its coating in the water.

    “They can do welding. They can do hull repair. They can do replacement of components. They can remove interference that’s in the way of replacing a pump or something,” Clark added. “So they can do lots of relatively heavy maintenance that just doesn’t require dry-docking.”

    These kinds of fixes can extend how long a warship is suited for combat before it must return to an industrial hub for an overhaul.

    The Land’s visit to Ulithi was meant “to demonstrate the submarine tender’s ability to return to Ulithi and successfully anchor within the lagoon,” the release said. Luckett said it showed the Land could “do all of the things needed inside the lagoon without any support from external sources.”

    “The idea,” Clark said, is that the tenders would provide support “not just for submarines but also for surface ships. That’s probably the the bigger purpose of putting it into the atoll … to support surface combatants.”

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    An unmanned aerial vehicle delivers a 5-pound payload to the the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii during a training exercise off the coast of Oahu, October 10, 2019.

    (US Navy photo by Mass Comm Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro)

    Keeping the fight going

    The Pentagon’s shift to “great power competition” with Russia and China has put renewed emphasis on logistics networks in Europe and the Pacific, the latter of which, a vast ocean dotted with far-flung islands, presents a particular challenge for resupply and reinforcement.

    The Navy has “been putting time and research into how you might do it. They actually haven’t been making that many investments changing how they do the logistics,” Clark said, but there have “been analyses and studies and some technical research on different techniques.”

    One of those was illustrated in October, when sailors used a small drone to deliver a 5-pound package to a sub about a mile off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii.

    “What started as an innovative idea has come to fruition as a potentially radical new submarine logistics delivery capability,” a Navy officer said at the time. “A large percentage of parts that are needed on submarines weigh less than 5 pounds, so this capability could alleviate the need for boats to pull into ports for parts or medical supplies.”

    The drone’s payload and its range put limits on the additional capability it can provide to the fleet right now, Clark said.

    But it would still provide some safety benefit and save time by obviating the need for a sub to sail into port to get those supplies — and in a conflict in the western Pacific, where China could sortie a lot of subs quickly, timing could make all the difference.

    Plus, success with a small drone now could lead to bigger advantages in the future.

    “If you take that and extrapolate,” Clark said, “a larger drone could cover a longer distance and maybe do the same operation, so now I do get a more distributed supply network.”

    “If you had a bigger UAV, like a Fire Scout or something, that could go for three hours and might cover a couple of hundred miles. Well, then maybe … that’ll allow you to spread out your logistics networks,” Clark added, referring to an unmanned helicopter the Navy wants to use aboard littoral combat ships.

    “Now the ship with a couple of Fire Scouts can cover a lot more area than it could if it was just doing it by itself.”

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Watch Air Force F-15s intercept Russian Navy jets

    The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. These countries don’t have much in the way of air assets. According to FlightGlobal.com, as of 2017, the three countries combined have three L-39 trainers, one L-410 transport, three C-27J transports, and 13 helicopters that operate either as search-and-rescue or training assets.


    The NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission was established just after these countries joined NATO and is designed to protect their airspace. The mission usually consists of detachments of aircraft — four initially, but in recent years, as many as 16 aircraft have been sent for this mission — that operate out of airbases in Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?
    F-15Cs of the 32d Tactical Fighter Squadron (Image from U.S. Air Force)

    On Jan. 8, the United States ended its most recent run as part of this mission. Four F-15C Eagles from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, part of the 48th Fighter Wing, were deployed to Lithuania for four months. They worked alongside F-16AM Fighting Falcons from Belgium for this mission.

    These four months proved to be fairly busy, according to the Air Force Times. Russia has been aggressive with its neighbors, most notably Ukraine. Since tensions with Ukraine have heated up, NATO routinely sends two detachments. The American detachment operated out of Šiauliai International Airport in Lithuania.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?
    Russian Air Force Su-30 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

    While there, on at least two occasions, the American pilots intercepted Sukhoi Su-30 Flankers. These multi-role jets, assigned to the Russian Navy, flew near the airspace of the Baltic States. The U.S. Air Force F-15s were scrambled in response to intercept them. These encounters were caught on tape.

    You can see these encounters on the video below. One thing you won’t see are the types of buzzing stunts that Russia has pulled on American ships and planes in the past.

    (Air Force Magazine | YouTube)
    MIGHTY CULTURE

    4 times the US military messed up on social media

    Every day, scores of US military commands reach millions with posts aimed to inform and inspire: videos of valor, motivational photos, and, yes, puppy pics.

    The military has codified the rules for managing these official accounts. But sometimes these social-media pros flub it — even the four-star command responsible for the US’s nuclear weapons.

    Here’s a blooper reel of some of the military’s most embarrassing and dumb social-media mistakes since 2016.


    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    A still image from a video posted by US Strategic Command.

    (US Strategic Command)

    1. ‘#Ready to drop something much, much bigger’

    US Strategic Command, which oversees the US’s nuclear arsenal, ringed in 2019 with a reminder that they’re ready, at any time, to start a nuclear war.

    Playing off the image of the ball dropping in New York City’s Times Square, STRATCOM’s official account posted a tweet that included a clip of a B-2 dropping bombs. The command apologized for the message.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    The A-10 Thunderbolt is armed with a 30mm cannon that fires so rapidly that the crack of each bullet blends into a thundering sound.

    (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook)

    2. #BRRRT

    In May 2018, the internet was debating whether the word heard on a short audio recording was “Yanny” or “Laurel.” Then the US Air Force joined the debate, referring to a recent strike on Taliban.

    “The Taliban Forces in Farah city #Afghanistan would much rather have heard #Yanny or #Laurel than the deafening #BRRRT they got courtesy of our #A10,” the official US Air Force Twitter account said.

    The A-10 gunship carries a fearsome 30mm cannon used to destroy buildings, shred ground vehicles, and kill insurgents. It can fire so rapidly — nearly 3,900 rounds a minute — that the sound of each bullet is indistinguishable from the previous one, blending into a thundering “BRRRT.”

    The US Air Force apologized for the tweet and deleted it, acknowledging it was in “poor taste.”

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    Mindy Kaling’s joke briefly got some props from the US Army.

    (imdb.com)

    3. ‘I’m like really smart now’

    In January 2018, President Donald Trump fired off a flurry a tweets defending himself in response to the headline-grabbing details in Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury.”

    Trump said he was “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius.”

    That prompted a tweet from comedian Mindy Kaling from her character in the office, with the caption: “You guys, I’m like really smart now, you don’t even know.”

    The US Army’s official Twitter account liked Kaling’s tweet, to which she replied: “#armystrong”

    By the following day, the US Army had unliked the tweet.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    The US Navy tweeted this image to celebrate its 241st birthday on Oct. 13, 2016, but would later delete it.

    (US Navy photo)

    4. Tough. Bold. Ready.

    In 2016, the US Navy celebrated the 241st year since the date of its creation with a tweet that combined three images into one: a warship, a fighter jet, and a painting of a historic battle.

    But the birthday message didn’t go over well with one audience on Twitter: Turks.

    The flag in that battle scene closely resembles that of Turkey, a NATO member and US ally, as Muira McCammon detailed in Slate.

    The Turkish community on Twitter sharply criticized the US Navy, and the Navy deleted it.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    The big, bad list of Coronavirus cancellations

    As government and health officials scramble to contain the spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, events around the country are being shut down or modified. Officials, after seeing the spike in cases (and fatalities) in Italy and the subsequent shutdown, are now implementing the same measures to major events in the U.S., whether it be canceling, postponing or barring fans.


    This is major news in that sports, entertainment and travel are very important keys to the national economy. The loss of revenue to the teams, leagues, television partners and corporate partners will be big but there are many others too that will have a rough couple of months.

    Hotels, airlines, arena workers, concession workers, arena security , front office employees, merchandise vendors, food and beverage companies, Uber and Lyft drivers and local establishments all canceled events….The list goes on.

    We Are The Mighty will continue to update this list, but here are major national (and some international for fans) events that so far have been affected by the coronavirus.

    A full list of all sports events that have been canceled can be found here. This list is mostly international but gives an idea of the scope of event cancellations.
    Were iron maidens ever actually used?
    • A coronavirus conference in New York was canceled because of the coronavirus.
    • MLB operations suspended indefinitely
    • NHL season suspended
    • NBA season suspended
    • MLS season suspended
    • NCAA Tournament canceled
    • NCAA Women’s Tournament canceled
    • Big Ten Tournament
    • SEC Tournament
    • Pac 12 Tournament
    • Big 12 Tournament
    • ACC Tournament
    • A-10 Tournament
    • Conference USA Tournament
    • MAC Tournament
    • WAC Tournament
    • American Conference Tournament
    • UEFA Champions League (Tuesday matches postponed)
    • Serie A (Italian soccer)
    • La Liga (Spanish soccer)
    • Formula 1 has had the McLaren team withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix this week. Next week the Bahrain Grand Prix is due to be raced with no fans.
    • U.S. Women’s and Men’s friendly matches canceled
    • Coachella postponed until October
    • Stagecoach postponed until October
    • E3 video game concert
    • Miami Open
    • SXSW Conference
    • Pearl Jam tour postponed
    • Adam Sandler tour postponed
    • Indian Wells 2020
    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    Universities have been either moving classes online, telling students to move out of dormitories and postponing spring classes and canceling classes outright in some instances.

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    Check out stunning photos of US Air Force bombers training with British fighters

    On Aug. 29, 2019, two US Air Force B-2 stealth bombers trained with the Royal Air Force’s F-35B jets, the first time a B-2 has flown with non-US F-35 aircraft, according to The Aviationist.

    The B-2s are part of a team of three Spirit stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri that have been deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

    The three B-2 Spirit bombers bring with them airmen from the 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard. The Spirits used the call signs Death 11, Death 12, and Death 13 when they left Whiteman, The Drive reports.

    During this deployment, two B-2s also made the aircraft’s first visit to Iceland.


    B-2s are generally kept at specific bases, including Fairfoird and Whiteman, partly because only a few bases have the necessary capacity to protect the bomber’s radar-absorbing stealth covering. But the US military has increased its presence in Iceland as a deterrent to Russian aggression.

    Read on to learn more about Aug. 29, 2019’s historic flight.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    UK F-35 Lightning fighter jets conduct integration flying training with US Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers for the first time, Aug. 29, 2019.

    (US Air Force/UK Ministry of Defense)

    Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning jets trained with US Air Force B-2 stealth bombers for the first time on Aug. 29, 2019.

    Source: UK Ministry of Defense

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    A US Air Force B-2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets, Aug. 29, 2019.

    (US Air Force/UK Ministry of Defense)

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    (UK Ministry of Defence)

    The B-2s pictured are deployed at RAF Fairford near Gloucestershire, England.

    Source: UK Ministry of Defense

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    A US Air Force B-2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies along the English coast near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets.

    (US Air Force/UK Ministry of Defense)

    “We’re delighted that the USAF and 501st Wing Bomber Task Force are here in the UK and that our F-35 Lightning pilots have the chance to fly alongside and train with the B-2 bomber crews,” Group Captain Richard Yates, chief of staff at the UK Air Battle Staff, said in a release. “This is the first time that any other country has done this.”

    Source: UK Ministry of Defense

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    A US Air Force B-2 Spirit, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, flies above the English countryside near Dover with two RAF F-35 jets, Aug. 29, 2019.

    (US Air Force/UK Ministry of Defense)

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    (Lockheed Martin)

    “This flying integration builds on the work of Exercise Lightning Dawn in Cyprus and the visit of RAF F-35 Lightning to Italy in June, where in both cases it had the opportunity to prove itself among other NATO allies who also operate the aircraft,” Mark Lancaster, British armed forces minister, said.

    Source: UK Ministry of Defense

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

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    The ‘Waffle House Index’ tells FEMA how to worry about storms

    No one endures a national state of emergency like the Waffle House. For those who don’t live near the 2,000-plus locations spread out across 25 states, a Waffle House is a restaurant that harnesses the enduring image of the all-night truck stop greasy spoon. The most outstanding thing about the food at a Waffle House is that it’s always available 24-7, rain or hurricane.

    But when your local Waffle House is suddenly not open, you know it’s time to head for the hills.


    Waffle Houses have a loyal following in the areas where they operate, and it’s not just truckers and the late night, post-drinking crowd. A good slice of Americans would tell you that Waffle House produces the kind of food they love.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?
    And heroes. Waffle House produces goddamn heroes.

    The restaurant chain is so reliable during disasters that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, actually closely monitors the activities of local Waffle House restaurants to prepare for potential economic damage and make risk-management decisions. They call it the “Waffle House Index,” and it’s not just a measure of the danger of a storm, it’s a barometer for economic recovery.

    The Waffle House Index has three levels of severity. Green means a Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, yellow means the menu is limited to just a few options, and red indicates the Waffle House was forced to close, its crew has skipped town, and you probably should, too.

    The reason is that Waffle House operates a huge number of stores in the American South and Southeast. Their properties and supply chain are always vulnerable to extreme weather conditions faced on the U.S. coasts. In the event of an emergency, the chain is able to quickly inform employees and move supplies to secure warehouses. Once the crisis has passed, the Waffle House is usually the first business open in the aftermath.

    It’s not only in the public’s (and FEMA’s) best interest to monitor dangerous storms. For Waffle House, who maintains a storm watch center, it keeps the company’s product and supply chain intact and ready to re-open for business. Food, after all, is not a product that stands the test of time. The company has generators, supplies, and staff ready to go as soon as the all clear is given.

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, it wasn’t just fry cooks and waitresses that flocked back to North Carolina after the storm. Waffle House sent in construction teams and IT personnel, all lead by the company’s CEO. The supply staging strategy used by Waffle House is the same method used by the U.S. Military and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in case of a national crisis or theater-level operation.

    Were iron maidens ever actually used?

    Waffle House Restaurant torn apart by Hurricane Katrina on the Biloxi, Mississippi, coast.

    (Library of Congress)

    While the Waffle House Index is a decent risk indicator, it’s not always 100-percent perfect. Waffle Houses closed in the wakes of Hurricanes Katrina, Matthew, and Harvey. The Waffle House in Joplin, Mo. remained open during the devastating tornado that hit the town in 2011. The Waffle House survived, but much of the rest of the town did not.

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