How the legendary Stinger missile is about to get more dangerous - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the legendary Stinger missile is about to get more dangerous

The Stinger missile is America’s premier short-range air defense weapon, featuring in-flight guidance and an almost 7-pound warhead that sends shrapnel ripping through planes, helicopters, and pretty much anything else flying low. It can even be shot against ground vehicles when necessary.

Recently, the missile’s manufacturer has created a new proximity fuse for the weapon — and it just passed qualification testing with flying colors.


U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Aaron Kiser, assigned to the USS Bataan (LHD 5), practices target tracking with a Stinger missile training system aboard the Bataan, May 8, 2014.

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Austin Hazard)

The Stinger is a hit-to-kill weapon, meaning it always tries to physically impact the enemy target before it goes off. That turns the skin of the targeted aircraft into shrapnel that rips through the rest of the aircraft, maximizing damage to engines, fuel tanks, and even the pilots. It usually ends up near the engine, since the weapon uses heat to track targets.

But making contact with the target isn’t always necessary, as the missile itself creates some shrapnel that will tear through the target’s skin. So, if it were to explode nearby its target, it’s still likely to damage or destroy the craft.

Now, the missile is being outfitted with a better proximity fuse that achieved a 100-percent hit rate during testing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

That’s great news for Stinger missile shooters. The weapon can be carried by ground troops or mounted on ground vehicles or helicopters, but firing the weapon is risky, especially against ground-support jets or helicopters.

If the Stinger crew fires the weapon and misses, whether because of a malfunction, shooter error, or the target’s defenses, they’re potentially in for a world of hurt. That’s because it always takes time to fire a second missile, especially for ground troops firing the MANPADS, which is a tube with a single missile in it.

That means a very pissed off and scared pilot is going to turn around and follow the smoke plume back it its source, and the pilot is likely going to hit the missile source with everything they have available to drop and fire.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua L. Field, a low altitude air defense (LAAD) gunner, with 2nd LAAD Battalion fires an FIM- 92 Stinger missile during a live fire training exercise on Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Oct. 10, 2017.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cody J. Ohira)

But with a proximity fuse, a missile that would otherwise be a near-miss will still go off, generating as much damage and shrapnel as it can. That means the helicopter that would be pivoting to attack is now suffering from damage. Hopefully, the damage is in the cockpit, control surfaces, or engine. A proximity detonation might even still be enough to destroy the target outright.

If not, then at least the crew on the ground has some breathing room as the air crew tries to get an idea of how damaged they are. This could be enough time for troops on the ground to get under cover or concealment or even to get off another shot.

This is especially useful against drones which typically don’t require as much damage to be completely destroyed. And, considering just how much more prevalent drones are becoming, that could be key for future air defenders trying to maintain an air defense umbrella as Chinese or Russian forces test their defenses. All four Department of Defense branches carry the missile in combat.

Col. David Shank, commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, speaks with Avenger team leader, Army Sgt. Jesse Thomas, and Avenger team member Army Spc. Dillion Whitlock with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 63rd Armored Regiment, South Carolina National Guard, during an air-defense live-fire exercise in Shabla, Bulgaria, July 18, 2017.

(U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ben Flores)

Currently, the weapon is most widely deployed in single-shot missile tubes and carried by air defense squads on the ground. There’s even an Army air defense battery that can jump these tubes into combat with other airborne troops. There’s also the Avenger system, a modified Humvee with eight missiles mounted on it.

Finally, there is an Apache variant that can carry the missile, and all new Apache’s come with the necessary mounting point and other hardware.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what the proposed ‘Atomic Veteran Medal’ could mean

Many of the side effects of war go unaddressed by those outside the military and veteran community. Recent veterans have been exposed to deadly chemicals released from burn pits. Vietnam War veterans fought for decades to get recognition of the impacts of exposure to Agent Orange. But finally, there can be some solace for veterans who have been exposed to nuclear radiation.

The first sort of federal acknowledgement of the unfathomable health concerns involved with being in close contact with nuclear waste, radioactive elements, and even nuclear blast testing came in 1990 with the establishment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). Now, with the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, radiation-exposed veterans will be honored with the colloquially named “Atomic Veterans Medal.”


It means that the government is finally saying that being this close to a nuclear explosion is, apparently, “bad for your health”

(US Navy)

H.Amdt.648 to the H.R.5515 requires the Secretary of Defense to design and produce a military service medal to honor retired and former members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to radiation — or, as the amendment calls them, “atomic veterans.”

At first glance, this seems like a paltry concession for someone who has lived a lifetime of hardships stemming from irradiation. It is, in essence, a ribbon, a piece of metal, and a paper that says, “that sucks — we’re sorry that happened!” That sort of thing is of little importance in the minds of atomic vets.

But it means far more in the bigger picture.

One fire screwed over 16 million vets well over 45 years later.

(Department of Defense)

Federal acknowledgement is paramount. The fact that, according to the House voting record, 408 congressmen agree that this amendment should be included and that the government should do more for atomic veterans is huge.

Care for atomic vets has been an issue swept under the rug for years. That care was made even more questionable after the National Archives Fire of 1973, which saw the destruction of military personnel files for over 16-18 million veterans in a single night. Because of that fire, many cancer-stricken veterans were denied healthcare as it was impossible to prove that they were, in fact, within the proximity of a nuclear blast.

One hill at a time.

(United States Air Force photo)

The first radiation exposure act gave atomic veterans the ability to receive special, priority enrollment for healthcare services from the VA for radiation-related conditions. The amendment in 2013 allowed even more veterans to be covered by RECA by including veterans who were downwind of nuclear tests. The wording of the medal seems to allow for all veterans who’ve been affected by radiation in some manner.

This alone is a huge win as it now gives treatment for the veterans who’ve long been denied access to medical care. With legislation like this receiving overwhelming support, it’s only a matter of time before Agent Orange veterans and the Burn Pit veterans also get their acknowledgement.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This 10-move workout will sculpt your arms like no other

Biceps curls. Triceps dips. You’d be forgiven if you think you’ve heard it all when it comes to flexing these two central muscles in any arms workout. But actually, getting bigger arms, and stronger, more defined biceps and triceps is all in the details. Don’t get us wrong: The bulk comes from consistent lifting. But that chiseled, sculpted Ryan Reynolds upper body comes from working each muscle group from multiple angles — something we’ve done for you in the moves below.

This workout involves using barbells, dumbbells, and your own body weight to push each muscle to the max. To figure out how much weight to use, choose a set that allows you to perform 8-10 reps before exhaustion.


The beauty of doing these two muscle groups together is that one muscle’s flex is the other’s extension, meaning neither group totally rests for the duration of this workout. Switching back and forth between biceps and triceps moves allows you to keep your heart rate up while also providing active rest, for a more complete weights session.

(Photo by John Arano)

1. Bicep exercise: Barbell curl

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Using an underhand grip, place hands hip-width apart on a barbell and hold it with arms straight in front of your thighs. Bend elbows and raise the bar to your chest. Lower. 10 reps, 2 sets.

2. Tricep exercise: Dips


Sit on a bench, knees bent, feet about a foot from the bench. Place hands at either side of your hips at the edge of the bench seat. Straighten arms and raise your butt off the bench, sliding hips forward so that your butt is now clear of the seat. Bend elbows and drop your butt toward the floor. Straighten arms and raise yourself back up again. 8 reps, 3 sets.

3. Bicep and tricep exercise: Front and side dumbbell curls

This move works both heads of your biceps by subtly shifting the angle of lift. Start with a dumbbell in each hand palms facing forward, arms by your sides. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend elbows and raise weights to your chest. Release. Keeping arms straight, pull shoulders back and rotate arms so that your palms face out to the side. From this position, bend elbows and raise weights to chest height. Release. Rotate palms forward again. 10 reps, 2 sets.

(Photo by Scott Webb)

4. Tricep exercise: Overhead extension

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie back on a bench, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Raise weight directly above your chest, arms straight, palms facing in. Bend elbows and lower weights back and over your head. Straighten arms and raise them above your chest again. 8-10 reps, 3 sets.

5. Bicep and tricep exercise: Hammer curls

This move works your biceps as well as the brachialis, a muscle that sits next to your biceps and adds definition and shape to your arm. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand orienting the weight north/south so that your hands are in a neutral position, palms facing in toward each other. Bend elbows and raise weights to your chest. Release. 10 reps, 2 sets.

6. Tricep exercise: Dumbbells kickback

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knee bent slightly. Hinge forward at the waist 45 degrees, keeping your back straight. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend elbows and bring the weight to your chest, palms facing in. Keeping elbows close to your sides, straighten arms and extend the weights behind you. Bend elbows to return to start position. 10 reps, 2 sets.

(Photo by Jelmer Assink)

7. Tricep and bicep exercise: Cable curls

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, about three feet away from the cable machine, pulley set to chest height. Hold the handle in your right hand, palm facing up, right arm extended in front of you. Bend your right elbow and perform a curl, keeping your upper arm steady and parallel to the floor while your lower arms moves the cable handle close to your chest. Release and straighten arm. 8 reps on each side, 2 sets.

8. Tricep exercise: Close hands pushup

You’ll give your pecs, shoulders, and abs a workout with this move, but the real winners here are your triceps, which get double the burn with a simple hand adjustment. Get into an extended pushups position, and place your hands below your chest, close enough so that your thumbs touch. Bend elbows, keeping them back and close by your sides as you lower your chest to the ground. Straighten arms back to start position. 20 reps, 2 sets.

9. Bicep exercise: Chin-up

This move might be best known for building stronger pecs, back, and core (and you’ll do that, too), but the underhand (palms facing you) chin-up is also great way to build power in your biceps. Start by hanging from the bar, hands shoulder-width apart (tip: close hands = greater biceps load; wider hands = more back muscle). Bend elbows and raise chin above the bar. Return to hanging. 6-8 reps, 3 sets.

10. Tricep exercise: Elbows-out extension


Sit back on an incline bench at about 30 degrees, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, raise weights above your chest, arms straight, palms facing away from you. Keeping your upper arms stationary, bend elbows and lower weights to your chest. Raise them again, 10 reps, 3 sets.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

popular

What it looks like when one Army legend rates another

It’s easy to forget that, even in the midst of World War II, the Army’s administrative requirements marched on. Officers were quickly moved between billets, units were slotted into or pulled out of operational plans, and leaders had to be re-appraised often.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that even men like Lt. Gen. George S. Patton had to take breaks from whooping butt in order to rate other legends like Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley.


Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley poses with actor Marlene Dietrich during a USO tour during World War II.

(U.S. Army)

The September 1943 “Efficiency Report” is remarkably brief. At the time, the Army didn’t have such strict form for evaluation reports. It’s basically a two-page memorandum with only a couple hundred words of text.

But Bradley had helped make 1943 a great year for the Army. He spent much of the year unsticking problems at the front in North Africa. And, after the defeat of II Corps at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, he pushed for an overhaul of the corps and later took command of it from Patton. It was Bradley who led the corps during the invasion of Sicily.

Patton and Eisenhower both wanted Bradley for their own commands, so it’s probably not surprising that he would receive a good rating from Patton.

Lieutenant Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley talk with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in Bastogne, Belgium, in 1944.

(U.S. Army)

And, indeed, when Patton rated Bradley on Sept. 12, 1943, he said that Bradley was “Superior” in manner of performance, physical activity, physical endurance, and knowledge of his profession. Four for four at the time. Bradley was a corps commander and Patton recommended him for command of an army.

But the most impressive endorsement of Patton came in question 10 “Of all general officers of his grade personally known to you, what number would you give him on this list and how many comprise your list?”

Patton responded “Number 1. I know all of them.”

The Army gets fairly small at the top, after all.

Lieutenant Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley talk with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in Bastogne, Belgium, in 1944. There are a surprising number of photos of these three together.

(U.S. Army)

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the North African Theater of Operations, United States Army, commander at the time, concurred with the report.

Thanks in part to the brief but strong recommendations of Patton and Eisenhower, Bradley received command of the U.S. First Army in time to command it against Utah and Omaha beaches and then the breakout into the rest of France. Despite some mistakes, he would take command of an Army Group and take the first major hits of the Battle of the Bulge.

He was a four-star general before the war ended and would later rise to lead the Veteran’s Administration and serve as Army Chief of Staff. He was the last person to be promoted to General of the Army, an Army five-star rank.

The entire September 1943 assessment of him by Patton and Eisenhower is available below:

(U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

(U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why France’s president calls Syria ‘the brain death of NATO’

French President Emmanuel Macron believes Europe is standing on the edge of a precipice and needs to think of itself as a power in the world in order to control its own destiny. He told the Economist the European alliance needs to “wake up” to the reality that the alliance and its deterrent is only as good as the guarantor of last resort – the United States. In his view, the United States is in danger of turning its back on NATO and Europe, just as it did to the Kurds in October 2019.

Along with the rise of China and the authoritarian turn of Russia and Turkey, Europe needs to act as a strategic power, perhaps without the US.


Macron spoke to the Economist for an hourlong interview from Paris’ Elysée Palace and spoke bluntly about NATO, its future, and the United States.

“I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.” he said. “… [President Trump] doesn’t share our idea of the European project.”

Europe faces myriad challenges that go far beyond the expectations of NATO and its American ally. Brexit looms large over European politics, while new EU membership is a point of contention within the European Union, especially in France. There is also much disagreement over how to engage with Russia, especially considering there are many NATO allies and EU members who used to be dominated by Moscow. But it wasn’t just Trump’s policy that concerned Macron.

“Their position has shifted over the past 10 years,” Macron said. “You have to understand what is happening deep down in American policy-making. It’s the idea put forward by President Obama: ‘I am a Pacific president’.”

That isn’t to say Macron is rejecting the American alliance. France’s president has taken a lot of time with Trump to keep that alliance closely engaged. But when the U.S. wants to go, it can go in the blink of any eye, just like it did in Syria. Meanwhile, Macron sees Europe as increasingly fragile in a hostile world, and he wants Europe (and France alone, if necessary) to be strong enough to stand up for itself.

“Our defence, our security, elements of our sovereignty, must be re-thought through,” he said. “I didn’t wait for Syria to do this. Since I took office I’ve championed the notion of European military and technological sovereignty… If it [Europe] can’t think of itself as a global power, that power will disappear.”

All it will take, he says, is one hard knock.

Germany expressed outrage at the comments, while Russia called them “Golden.”

While some conceded that Macron has a point about the strategic coordination of the alliance, many others were angered by his remarks. In response, the November 2019 meeting of NATO held a discussion about the validity of the French president’s description and what, if anything, they should do about it. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reminded reporters that week that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the only body where North America and Europe sit together and make decisions together.

“I think it has value to look into how we can further strengthen NATO and the transatlantic bond,” Stoltenberg said as he made plans to visit Paris in the coming days. “We need to look into this as we prepare for the upcoming leaders’ meeting and then we will see what will be the final conclusions.”

Articles

17 signs that you might be a military aviator

It’s not just about the squadron plaques on your “I love me” wall or the vanity plate on your ‘Vette. Here are 17 other signs that you might be a military aviator:


1. You talk with your hands a lot.

2. Your speech is so full of acronyms and jargon that it almost qualifies as a foreign language.

3. You notice what kind of watch others are wearing.

4. You judge fellow military aviators by things like radar cross section and tail hook thickness.

5. You consider crew rest sacrosanct.

6. Your first meal of the day is lunch (as a function of the previous bullet).

7. You sneer at any mention of the movie “Top Gun,” but you’ve seen it hundreds of times and can’t look away if you happen to stumble across it on cable.

8. You’re not really all that dangerous but sometimes you act like you are. (See previous bullet.)

9. You’re most comfortable wearing Nomex and speed jeans.

No, not those speed jeans . . . these speed jeans:

10. Your grooming is always pushing military standards.

11. You say things like, “Older whiskey, younger women, and faster fighters” with a straight face.

12. You’re all about the shades.

13. You’ve taken recreation to an art form.

14. You can sleep sitting upright (even while strapped into an ejection seat).

15. The crazier a situation becomes, the more focused you get.

16. You’re only impressed by celebrities and other public figures insofar as they make enough money to buy themselves airplanes.

17. You feel like you can get away with texting while driving because the government trained you to keep your scan going while you multitask.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why US Navy is sending more people to keep an eye on Russian subs

The Russian sub fleet is growing and growing more active, and the US and its NATO partners are more concerned about what those boats and rest of the Russian navy are up to around Europe.

For the US Navy, that means more focus on the Atlantic, especially the North Atlantic, closer to the home base of Russia’s Northern Fleet on the Barents Sea.

At the end of September 2019, the Navy reestablished Submarine Group 2 in Norfolk, Virginia, five years after the unit was deactivated. The reactivation comes just over a year after the Navy reestablished its Second Fleet, which oversees the western half of the Atlantic up into the high north.


Sonar Technician (Submarines) 3rd Class Christopher T. Woods stands lookout on the Navy sub Colorado in the Atlantic Ocean prior to its commissioning, January 11, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey M. Richardson)

The reestablishment of Submarine Group 2 is likewise “aimed at enhancing the Navy’s capacity to command and control its undersea warfare forces seamlessly across the entire Atlantic area, from the eastern seaboard of the United States to the Barents Sea, and even into the Southern Atlantic, if the need arises,” the Navy said in a release.

Echoing the comments of the Navy’s top officer upon the reestablishment of Second Fleet, Vice Adm. Charles Richard, commander of US submarine forces in the Atlantic, cited the “more challenging and complex” security situation as the reason for the return of Group 2.

“To maintain America’s undersea superiority, we must increase naval power and our readiness for high-end blue water warfare. How we’re organized to command that employment will be a driving factor in our success — that’s why we’re re-establishing Sub Group 2 today,” Richard said in the release.

A submarine group, composed of squadrons, handles the organization, training, and equipping of those boats while they’re state-side. Individual subs are attached to that squadron and group until they’re assigned to a combatant command, six of which are responsible for operations in specific areas of the globe.

A US Navy chief petty officer of the boat aboard pre-commissioned unit (PCU) South Dakota, directs his team while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 27, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jared Bunn)

“Until [a submarine] makes that transition, it’s part of Group 2,” which owns it and operates it and tells it what to do, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Reestablishing Submarine Group 2 doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more subs prowling the Atlantic, but its return is important because the “group is in charge of the movement and the command and control of the ship” before it transitions over to combatant command, Clark said.

Without Group 2, the attention of command elements in the Atlantic was spread thin over a larger number of subs. Bringing back Group 2, Clark said, “allows you to put more attention on the North Atlantic submarines.”

“Along with the second fleet … it’s a way of putting more command and control and leadership attention on that part of the ocean,” Clark added.

Russian Black Sea Fleet’s B-265 Krasnodar Improved Kilo-class submarine.

(Russian MoD)

Better coordination, better command and control

Reestablishing Second Fleet and Submarine Group 2 are “visible representations of the US commitment to the security in the Atlantic in an era of great power competition,” Lt. Marycate Walsh, a spokesperson for Second Fleet, said in an email.

“Increased challenges and threats required a commensurate increase in capacity to address possible contingencies,” Walsh said, adding that Group 2’s operations in the region will add to and integrate with those of Second Fleet.

Submarine Group 2 also oversees anti-submarine warfare for US Fleet Forces Command and, when assigned, for Fourth Fleet. Fleet Forces Command organizes, trains, and equips naval forces for assignment to combatant commands, and Fourth Fleet is responsible for ships, subs, and aircraft operating around Central and South America.

In that role, Submarine Group 2 will “employ combat-ready forces in [anti-submarine warfare] and undersea warfare operations across mission-essential sea-service functions,” Cmdr. Jodie Cornell, a spokesperson for Submarine Forces Atlantic, said in an email.

The USS Rhode Island returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia after three months at sea.

(US Navy photo)

Group 2 will also “ensure assigned staffs and submarines achieve and maintain a level of training, personnel and material readiness necessary to carry out their assigned missions” and “advocate for resources and requirements that enable advancements in [anti-submarine warfare] and undersea warfare operations,” Cornell said.

The Navy generally does not comment on operations, and neither Cornell or Walsh would comment on potential future operations for subs assigned to Submarine Group 2.

But Richard’s mention of the Barents Sea, adjacent to the home of Russia’s Northern Fleet and its strategic nuclear forces on the Kola Peninsula, hints an increasing concern among US and NATO forces about Russian subs being able to reach into Europe with their relatively new sub-launched missile capability.

“The Kalibr-class cruise missile, for example, has been launched from coastal-defense systems, long-range aircraft, and submarines off the coast of Syria,” Adm. James Foggo, head of US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, said in late 2018. “They’ve shown the capability to be able to reach pretty much all the capitals in Europe from any of the bodies of water that surround Europe.”

Ranges of Russia’s Kalibr missiles when fired from seas around Europe. Light red circles are the land-attack version. Dark red circles indicate the anti-ship version.

(CSIS Missile Defense Project)

The threat of sub-launched cruise missiles is “certainly … part of what this is intended to address,” Clark said of Submarine Group 2. “This gives better coordination and better command and control of those submarines.”

More frequent deployments of more sophisticated Russian subs are driving more US naval activity in the Atlantic, which includes more deployments US Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft to Iceland, where they have a higher operational tempo.

Those aircraft are in part managed by Group 2, Clark said. It helps “having people at Group 2 being able to focus on that problem.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out this footage of life on a 1960’s aircraft carrier

The footage below is taken from “Flying Clipper,” a “monumental documentary about the adventures of a Swedish sailing ship, which travels into the Mediterranean in the early 1960s.”

Filmed in 1962 with specially designed 70mm cameras, “Flying Clipper” was the first German film produced in this high-resolution large format. The documentary was recently scanned in 4K and digitally restored, so that it could be marketed as 4K UHD, Blu-Ray and DVD.

Besides the Côte d’Azur, the Greek islands and the pyramids of Egypt, “Flying Clipper” included also more than 5 minutes of footage from aboard USS Shangri-La (CVA-38), one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers completed during or shortly after World War II for the United States Navy.


With the CVG-10 on board, the USS Shangri-La was involved in a 6-month Mediterranean Sea cruise with the 6th Fleet Area Of Responsibility between February and August 1962. The clip shows with outstanding details the “blue waters operations” of the F4D-1 Skyray fighters with the VF-13; the A-4D Skyhawks of the VA-106 and VA-46; and the F-8U Crusaders of the VMF-251 and VFP-2.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JROmHzavjA8
USS Shangri-La

www.youtube.com

You can also spot some AD-6 Skyraider of the VA-176 while the opening scene shows the vivid colors of one of the HUP-3 helicopter of the HU-2.

There was much less technology aboard to launch and recover aircraft, and “bolters” (when the aircraft misses the arresting cable on the flight deck) and “wave-offs” (a go around during final approach) were seemingly quite frequent.

By the way, don’t you like the high-visibility markings sported by the aircraft back then?

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

Articles

Vietnam War troops hated the M16 and called it a piece of garbage

Vietnam War troops hated the M16 and dubbed it the “Mattel 16” because it felt more like a toy than a battle rifle.


“We called it the Mattel 16 because it was made of plastic,” said Marine veteran Jim Wodecki in the video below. “At that time it was a piece of garbage.”

It weighed about half as much as the AK-47 Kalashnikov and fired a smaller bullet – the 5.56 mm round. In short, the troops didn’t have faith in the rifle’s stopping power.

Related: This is what happens when the rules of engagement are loosened

Compounding the M16’s troubles was its lack of a proper cleaning kit. It was supposed to be so advanced that it would never jam, so the manufacturer didn’t feel it needed to make them. But the M16 did jam.

“We hated it,” said Marine veteran John Culbertson. “Because if it got any grime or corruption or dirt in it, which you always get in any rifle out in the field, it’s going to malfunction.”

The troops started using cleaning kits from other weapons to unjam their rifles.

“The shells ruptured in the chambers and the only way to get the shell out was to put a cleaning rod in it,” said Wodecki. “So you can imagine in a firefight trying to clean your weapon after two or three rounds. It was a nightmare for Marines at the time.

Towards the end of 1965, journalists picked up on mounting reports of gross malfunctions. The American public became outraged over stories of troops dying face down in the mud because their rifles failed to fire, according to a story published by the Small Arms Review.

Thankfully, the reports did not fall on deaf ears. The manufacturer fixed the jamming problems and issued cleaning kits. The new and improved rifle became the M16A1.

This video features Vietnam Marines recounting their first-hand troubles with the M16:

LightningWar1941/YouTube
MIGHTY CULTURE

The Queen of England has a champion who fights for her

It sounds like a big job description: “Queen’s Champion and Standard Bearer of England.” Although these days, the title seems more ceremonial than functional, it still sounds like a big deal. Since the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, whomever holds the Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire, England, also has to fight for the monarch at their coronation, should a challenger arise in the middle of it.


Francis John Fane Marmion Dymoke is the current champion, but this is his father, the previous champion. A World War II veteran, he died in 2015.

The Dymokes have been the standard bearers for the reigning English monarch since the mid-14th Century, and would ride into Westminster Abbey in full shining armor, on a horse, in full plumage and regalia. To repeat, they ride a horse into Westminster in the middle of a coronation. They then throw a gauntlet – they literally throw a gauntlet – on the ground and announce that whomever dares challenge the King or Queen’s right to the throne must face him in combat. When no one does, the new monarch then drinks wine from a golden cup to honor his or her Champion.

The King or Queen could not fight in such combat unless it were someone their equal who would challenge them, and that usually meant a war.

Dope.

The tradition has taken a few different forms over the last few monarch coronations, and was left out of Queen Victoria’s coronation entirely.

And sadly, at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the Champion did not get to throw the gauntlet or threaten the crowd, but he did his duty to carry the Royal Standard in the procession. When Prince Charles (or at this rate, William) takes the throne, this is a tradition we in America would like to see revived to its full former glory.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How effective draftees in the Vietnam War actually were

The image of the men who fought in Vietnam is usually that of a draftee who didn’t want to be there, likely from a poor family, who were sent to die while they were still teens. But nothing could be further from the truth. Only a third of Vietnam vets were draftees. The average age of U.S. troops in Southeast Asia was 23, and more than 80 percent had a high school diploma, twice as many as the World War II generation. They were more educated, affluent, and older than any assembled American fighting force who came before them.

But even if they were a force of draftees, would that have mattered?


The short answer is “nope.”

While the popular consensus is that the United States lost the war in Vietnam, the U.S. handily won the fighting in Vietnam. The United States didn’t win every single battle, but it won almost every single major engagement, even those massive, infamous surprise attacks of the North Vietnamese, which garnered headlines but little else. The Tet Offensive, arguably the most famous enemy attack of the whole war, was a huge defeat for the Communists. And no American unit ever surrendered to the enemy in Vietnam, either.

Now: This is how to see if you would have been drafted for Vietnam

For many Vietnam veterans who enlisted to fight in the war, drafted men made good, if not better, soldiers when put to the test. Other volunteers say they saw no difference between drafted Americans and volunteers, and would not have known how they ended up in Vietnam without asking. The only real way you could ID a drafted soldier is by seeing a troop who was much older but wearing a lowly rank. Some volunteer troops even said they respected draftees for answering the forced call to service and fighting without question.

They weren’t all happy about going, of course.

Whether American troops in Vietnam were one-third draftees (as the facts dictate) or they were a force of young, poor, uneducated conscripts (As pop culture would have us believe), what is indisputable is what they accomplished there. The United States was able to win most of the major pitched battles fought there. And while popular history says the United States lost in Vietnam, if the goal of the war was to prevent other countries in the region from falling to Communism (you know, like dominoes), then, the U.S. may have won in the long run.

Some 475 million people in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines do not currently live in a Communist state. When the United States began to ramp up its efforts to help South Vietnam, it moved masses of military men and materiel into these countries. Those forces bolstered the governments of those countries, who all faced some form of insurgency or Communist upheaval at the beginning of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. By the time the U.S. left South Vietnam, those countries had secured their borders, governments, and way of life against Communist threats.

So maybe we should reconsider the idea that we lost and that draftees somehow weren’t as dedicated to winning.

Articles

These were some of the ballsiest pilots of WWII, and their planes didn’t even have engines

In World War II, airborne units were really in their infancy. The Germans pioneered their use in combat, and the United States built perhaps the largest airborne force in the world, with five airborne divisions.


But these divisions had a problem. There weren’t many planes to transport them for large-scale airborne ops. Today, most transports used in airborne operations have rear ramps for loading cargo (like, jeeps and artillery). Back then, they didn’t.

The C-47 Skytrain was based on the DC-3 airliner. The C-46 Commado was also based on an airliner.

A C-47 takes off, towing a Waco CG-4 glider during Operation Market Garden. (Imperial War Museum photo)

Yeah, paratroops could be dropped, but they could be scattered (thus creating the rule of the LGOPs). How would they drop the heavier equipment, and keep the crews together? The answer came with the development of gliders. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pioneered the use of them, but the U.S. and Great Britain built lots of them.

According to the National World War II Glider Pilots Association’s web site, the United States built over 13,000 CG-4A Waco gliders. Each of these gliders could carry 15 troops, or a Jeep and four paratroopers, a trailer, up to 5,000 pounds of supplies, an anti-tank gun plus operators, or a 75mm artillery piece and its crew.

Troops with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment load some heavy firepower onto a CG-4 glider. (US Army photo)

The U.S. also used British Horsa gliders to carry even larger groups of troops (up to 30 in a glider) or bigger amounts of supplies. Over 300 of these gliders were used on D-Day, one of those instances where the arsenal of democracy had to borrow a plane made by an ally.

About 6,500 glider pilots were trained during World War II, taking part in eight missions from Sicily to Luzon. In the 1950s, advancements in transport aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary-wing, led to the glider units being deactivated in 1952. But the gliders helped deliver firepower, troops, and supplies during World War II – when that ability was needed.

The video below shows how gliders were used during the Normandy invasion.

Military Life

5 types of first sergeants you’ll face in the infantry

It’s the first sergeant’s job to assist the commanding officer in matters of discipline, administrative work, and the unit’s morale and welfare. Regardless of how well this mission is completed in the eyes of the lower-enlisted, earning the rank of first sergeant takes many years of hard work and dedication to the Marine Corps.

Members of the E-8 pay-grade are some of the most interesting and badass Marines you’ll ever meet as you climb through the ranks. They come in several varieties:


Good luck getting your original voice back after all those years of screaming at young recruits.

The former drill instructor

You can easily identify this type of first sergeant. First, listen to how raspy their voice is from years of yelling at recruits during training. This type of first sergeant is outstanding at calling cadences during PT and formation marches — for good reason; they’ve had plenty of practice.

The one that everyone respects

Once you enter the infantry, you’ll begin to judge other Marines and sailors based purely on they the way they look. There’s tons of competition within infantry houses; it’s our way of sizing up those we must outperform. However, there are a few senior-enlisted Marines whose appearances alone will tell you that they’re complete badasses.

You’ll look up to these guys.

1st Sgt. Ambroga Carson Jr, addresses guests during his retirement ceremony on Camp Johnson N.C.

The speech-giver

Some Marines hold audiences captive with riveting speeches while others send people drifting off to sleepyland. Those who can keep your attention speak from their diaphragms and sound off like they have a pair. These vocal commanders are used to addressing whole companies of Marines and have tons of epic stories to tell.

The one who knows every freakin’ regulation in the book

An excellent first sergeant knows all the ins-and-outs their job — which is hard. Some troops will (foolishly) try to pull a fast one on the Marine who controls all the administrative work for the entire infantry company. However, these types of first sergeants don’t even have to bat an eye when it comes to Marine Corps policy.

They will rattle off nearly every regulation in the book if you try and test them.

Haters will say this is photoshopped. It’s not.

(Photo by Joe Loong)

The one you can never find

When you need some paperwork signed, this type of first sergeant is never in his office when you go looking for them. So, where the hell do they go? Who the F knows…