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How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

In some ways, we know the story of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. It was a dominant fighter plane in the early portion of World War II in the Pacific Theater, only to become an easy target. But how did this happen?


 

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero



In some ways, the story we know about the Grumman F6F Hellcat isn’t the whole truth. Yes, the discovery of the Akutan Zero helped the United States beat this plane. But MilitaryFactory.com notes that the Hellcat’s first flight was on June 26, 1942 – three weeks after the raid on Dutch Harbor that lead to the fateful crash-landing of the Mitsubishi A6M flown by Tadayoshi Koga.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
U.S. Navy personnel inspect the Akutan Zero. (U.S. Navy photo)

Less than six months before Pearl Harbor, the Navy signed a contract with Grumman for a replacement for the F4F Wildcat. Feedback from pilots like Butch O’Hare and other encounters lead to the addition of the Wright R-2800 engine. It also was designed with improved landing gear and visibility. Then, America built a lot of these planes – 12,272 of them. Compare that production run to the 187 F-22 Raptors that the Air Force bought!

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
The XF6F-1 Hellcat – which used a R-2600 engine. Feedback from pilots like Butch O’Hare in early 1942 lead to the more powerful R-2800 being used. (U.S. Navy photo)

What the Akutan Zero did, though, was to provide information that let American pilots make the most of the Hellcat’s advantages. History.com described one ace, Marine Captain Kenneth Walsh described how he knew to roll to the right at high speed to lose a Zero on his tail. Walsh would end World War II with 17 kills. The Zero also had trouble in dives, thanks to a bad carburetor (the famous Spitfire also had carburetor problems).

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Navy pilots celebrate scoring 17 kills after one of the first combat missions of the Hellcat over Tarawa. (U.S. Navy photo)

 

The Hellcat truly brought hell to the Axis in World War II. It notched 5,165 kills over World War II, and was the primary plane that was in the Marianas Turkey Shoot. The Hellcat even saw action in Korea as a guided bomb, and served until the 1960s in some air forces. 

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why a simple fence is perfect armor on today’s battlefield

The M1126 Stryker is a beautifully designed vehicle. It’s packed with 16.5 tons of high-hardness steel to shield the passengers from direct attacks and a unique underbelly design to help defend against IEDs. Many are outfitted with remote weapon systems, allowing troops to engage the enemy without fear of snipers. It even has one of the most state-of-the-art fire-extinguishing systems in the world in case the worst happens.


With all that protection, it seems strange that someone decided a bunch of steel bars around it would make great armor…

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
It also works great for extra storage space for things you don’t mind losing.  (Photo from U.S. Army)

Though it might look flimsy, the simple fence design is an excellent counter considering how explosives blow up. Having thick, reactive armor works wonders against conventional fragmentation rounds, but HEAT (High explosive, anti-tank) rounds are designed specifically to burst through it.

Take a standard RPG-7 single-stage HEAT round for instance: The explosion isn’t what makes it deadly. By forcing the explosion into a narrow cone, it’s used to blow a hole through whatever it hits. It’s the molten copper follows and uses the pathway cleared by the explosion that’s truly deadly.

Not pleasant, to say the least. (Image via GIPHY)

In comes what we’ve been calling “fence armor.” This type of armor is actually called “slat armor” and has been used since the World War II on German panzers. The Germans needed an extra layer of defense from Russian anti-tank rifles and low velocity, high explosive rounds. They added steel plates. set a few inches away from the actual shell of the vehicle, so when it’s hit, the cheaper plates would be hit and the copper would have time to cool, causing minimal damage.

This method of stopping common HEAT rounds is still used today by armies going against enemies with RPGs. While slat armor isn’t 100% effective (no armor is, truly), it does have up to 70% effectiveness, which is remarkable for a solution that costs nearly nothing, is an addition to existing armor, and doesn’t negatively affect the mission.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
And hell, for years, troops used to just put sandbags under their seats and called it good enough. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Though nowhere near as effective, even ISIS tried to Mad Max their vehicles. Note, for this to work, slat armor needs to be a few inches away from the vehicle, it should cover vital spots, and shouldn’t be welded on (since the point of it is to be destroyed and swapped out).

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
B- for effort. F for forgetting that missiles drop down — not across — at three feet above ground. (Image via Reddit)

MIGHTY TRENDING

TSA catches man smuggling gun in DVD player at US airport

A New York man was arrested after a handgun was discovered hidden inside a DVD player he had packed in his checked bag at John F. Kennedy International Airport on April 13, 2019.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered the handgun when the bag was going through security scanning. The 9mm handgun was wrapped in aluminum foil and hidden inside a DVD player, according to a TSA press release. The gun was not loaded.

The man, who is from Queen’s, New York, was arrested at his gate before boarding a plane to Mexico. He has been charged with weapons violations.


In the US, TSA regulations outright forbid passengers from possessing firearms on their persons and in their carry-on luggage.

However, they may be permitted in checked luggage if very specific regulations are followed.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

A handgun was discovered in the man’s checked bag.

(TSA)

“Firearms carried in checked bags must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in,” the TSA said on its website. “Check with your airline to see if they allow firearms in checked bags.”

“When traveling, be sure to comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international government,” the agency added.

According to the TSA, it is not uncommon for passengers to be caught with guns and other firearms at its checkpoints.

The TSA discovered 91 guns in the carry-on bags of the 16.3 million passengers screened between April 8 and April 14, 2019.

Of those 91 guns, the agency said 81 were loaded and 35 had a round chambered.

Those who are caught in possession of a firearm at a TSA checkpoint can be arrested or subject to a fine of up to ,333.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines want to improve their hearing to improve lethality

The Marine Corps released a request for information for industry input that identifies potential sources for a suite of hearing enhancement devices. The devices will protect Marines’ hearing while increasing their situational awareness in a variety of training and combat environments.

Marine Corps Systems Command will assess the systems to ensure they are compatible with Marine Corps radios and the Marine Corps Enhanced Combat Helmet, or ECH. Systems can be circumaural or intra-aural but must include versions that are both communications enabled and versions that are not communications enabled. Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment at MCSC is considering options to purchase between 7,000 and 65,000 hearing enhancement devices within the next three years to be used in addition with the current Combat Arms Earplugs Marines wear.


“Marines have the earplugs and they do provide protection, but sometimes they choose not to wear them because they want to be aware of their surroundings at all times,” said Steven Fontenot, project officer for Hearing, Eye Protection and Loadbearing Equipment in PM ICE at MCSC. “The new headset we want to acquire will allow Marines to wear hearing protection, yet still provide the opportunity to communicate and understand what is going on around them.”

In February 2018, MCSC issued a sample of headsets to 220 infantry, artillery, reconnaissance and combat engineer Marines to ask their opinions on fit, form, function and comfort. Testing was conducted at the Air Force Research Laboratory and during live fire exercises with the Infantry Training Exercise 2018. Recon Marines also took headsets to Norway to conduct cold weather training and were pleased with the performance, Fontenot said.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), Maritime Raid Force, check their weapons during a call-away drill in the hangar bay of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam M. Bennett)

“Marines wore the headsets throughout their regular training cycle to assess comfort and how well they integrated with the ECH,” said Fontenot. “We want to make sure the headset we acquire is rugged and capable of operating in a wide range of environments a Marine might encounter, from cold weather to extreme heat.”

In the future, MCSC will release new weapon systems that could potentially cause a greater risk to Marines’ hearing. To be prepared, PM ICE wants to ensure Marines ears are protected in advance.

“Most of the systems we’ve researched amplify the verbal and softer noises around the Marine, so they know what is going on while protecting against loud noises that could damage the ear,” said Nick Pierce, Individual Armor Team lead, PM ICE. “Although we conducted an initial evaluation, the latest technologies could yield something better in 2020, and there are always things we can improve upon from the systems that were tested, such as comfort and the ability to clearly pinpoint which direction sound is coming from.”

After industry information is gathered, MCSC’s PM ICE will conduct a larger evaluation with the hearing devices to test their compatibility with the ECH. MCSC could purchase quantities of hearing enhancement devices as early as fiscal year 2020.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Israel is not even a little threatened by Iran – this tweet proves it

Israel trolled Iran on June 4, 2018, with a gif from the film “Mean Girls” after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for their complete annihilation.

Khamenei tweeted that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that needs to be “eradicated,” and referenced the Palestinian “March of Return” movement which has seen several large-scale protests along the Gaza border in recent weeks.


The Israeli Embassy in the US responded to Khamenei’s colorful language with a gif from the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” in which Regina George, played by Rachel McAdams, Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan’s character, “Why are you so obsessed with me?”

The embassy’s response has over 18,000 likes and 7,000 retweets.

Many of the commenters praised Israel’s witty response to Iran’s threats of annihilation. One user asked in Hebrew: “Who is the 15-year-old boy responsible for the embassy’s Twitter?”

—YaronR (@yaronriko) June 4, 2018

Some called for the poster to receive a raise.

Israel and Iran have recently been sparring online and offline; in May 2018, the two exchanged fire in Syria.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Of course ‘Murphy’s Law’ was created by a veteran

The axiom we know as “Murphy’s Law” today has been kicking around for centuries. Instances of similar phrases can be found as early as 1877, and even George Orwell (himself a veteran of the Spanish Civil War) used it in his diaries. But when something truly catches on, it’s kept alive for posterity – and that’s how “Murphy’s Law” is remembered nowadays.


What was once quoted as, “It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later.” Is now – forever – the much snappier “Whatever can go wrong, will.” But who was the Murphy whose name is now synonymous with accidents and mishaps?

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

A strapping young man, that’s who.

Edward Aloysius Murphy was a West Point graduate, Army Air Forces veteran of World War II and an Air Force officer. Later in life, he would continue his work with the Air Force in testing experimental vehicles. This, of course, required a degree of delicacy; not only because building rocket sleds is as incredibly dangerous as testing them, but also because testing them requires exact parameters to record exact results.

That’s science.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

*Rocket* Science. DAB.

Seriously, after World War II, Murphy became the research and development officer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Air Development Center, where they conducted rocket sled tests. A rocket sled is exactly what it sounds like: a chair, a rocket, all on a sled-like slab on which someone sits. And is then propelled forward. In order to remind his crews to plan for the worst-case scenario in every experiment, he began telling them “whatever can go wrong, will.”

This was especially true when they decided that 18 Gs was probably not the most a human could withstand and set out to test the limitations of G-forces on the human body. One Air Force officer, John Stapp, proved that humans could take at least 35 Gs and that anyone who passed out after 18 probably shouldn’t be in his Air Force. Murphy was designing new sensor setups to measure everything that would happen on these sled runs. One day, something went wrong.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

Here’s Stapp’s face as he becomes the fastest man ever, in what is essentially an open-top rocket convertible. Man, the Air Force used to be fun.

The details of the snafu that caused Murphy to remind his crews to check every detail are disputed. All we need to know is that something went wrong and Stapp’s test run did not acquire any sensor data. Basically, Stapp put his life on the line for funsies, because other than a rocket boom, nothing else was recorded. Upon realizing this, Murphy apparently yelled at an assistant, “whatever can go wrong, will.”

And it became their mantra. Then it became everyone’s mantra when Stapp told a group of reporters at a press conference that they keep fatalities at zero because everyone on their team repeats “Murphy’s Law” to prevent any oversights or mishaps. Once the press got hold of it, that was it. Murphy’s Law is now enshrined in everyone’s lexicon, not just the military’s.

MIGHTY FIT

High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) vs High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

I led multiple combat conditioning programs in the Marine Corps, and I did my Martial Arts Instructor Certification at the MACE in Quantico with the creators of MCMAP. Yet, I had no idea what HITT was. I thought it was just a cheap rip-off of HIIT that the Marine Corps wanted to get their proprietary mitts on.

I was a little salty at certain points in my career.

The short of it is: HIIT is a type of workout and HITT is a comprehensive program that encompasses all aspects of fitness.


How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

A few seconds of this, a few seconds of that…

What HIIT is

High-Intensity interval training (HIIT) really got popular when the Tabata method got some good press. The Tabata method is a type of HIIT workout where you perform a movement for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this sequence for as many rounds as you are adapted to.

Other styles of HIIT follow the same basic layout. You perform a movement for a certain period of time, and then you rest for about half the time you did the movement for.

If you are really particular, you would measure your heart rate and rest until your heart rate gets to about 60% of your estimated maximum heart rate.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BjzcNion5Qq/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link expand=1]Michael Gregory on Instagram: “Here’s how to do a HIIT workout properly. . A lot of people do “HIIT” but they don’t understand the purpose. It’s to to boost your output…”

www.instagram.com

It might sound like math class, and it basically is. There are plenty of apps and timers out there for HIIT workouts, but most people just wing it.

In fact, most people completely miss the point of HIIT.

At its base, HIIT is a fat burning workout that takes advantage of the anaerobic fuel systems of the body. If you don’t allow your heart rate to get down low enough between sets, you are preventing your body from truly resting. Without enough rest, you cannot perform at 90-100%+ effort, and therefore miss out on burning a maximum amount of fat.

I can and will go more in-depth on this topic in the future. Take a look at the above Instagram post for details on how to properly use HIIT to help you lose that adorable baby fat on your tummy.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

Run fast and lift heavy. Sounds pretty good to me.

(Photo by Capt. Colleen McFadden)

What HITT is

High-Intensity Tactical Training, on the other hand, is a program designed by the Marine Corps to prepare Marines for combat. You can read the whole methodology behind it here.

It has 3 basic principles:

  1. Prevent potential for injury
  2. Increase performance levels that support combat specific tasks
  3. Build strength, optimize mobility, and increase speed

Subtle how they squeezed five principles into three, but I’ll roll with it.

High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) Promo Video- USMC

youtu.be

I’d argue that these components should be the base of every single human being’s training plan, not just military personnel. I would just switch the wording around in number two to read “increase performance levels to support career specific tasks” for the normies.

Reading through the methodology, linked above, I could nitpick some of the specifics of the program. Ultimately though, I’m a fan.

Unlike HIIT, HITT has nothing to do with burning fat whatsoever. Actually, it would probably be in a Marine’s favor to keep a modest amount of body fat on their frame in case things go south and they are without food for multiple days.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

The next step is to do the workout with a full combat load. That’s HITT.

(Photo by Capt. Colleen McFadden)

Execution is everything

HIIT and HITT couldn’t be more different. HIIT is for people who are primarily concerned with how they look while HITT is for Marines who want to f*ck sh*t up.

Both of these can be very beneficial to you depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Military personnel don’t have the luxury of knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into with a deployment until they get there. A well-rounded plan, like HITT, that increases all aspects of fitness is ideal if you have the time.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

Don’t let this image fool you. This man’s primary form of exercise is not HIIT. He lifts.

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

HITT is for someone who is looking for long-term nonspecific training that will focus on all aspects of fitness. It doesn’t need to be just for those getting ready for a deployment.

HIIT is for someone who is looking to burn fat while maintaining lean muscle. That’s it for HIIT. It won’t make you stronger, it probably won’t make you much faster. It is exclusively for people who want to lose fat.

The bottom line of this showdown between fitness modalities is that the Marine Corps needs to get better at naming their programs. Otherwise, most people will just write off their highly researched program as a shameless government knock-off of something that already exists.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
MIGHTY MOVIES

It’s Russian World War II tank propaganda, and it looks awesome

Yet another patriotic war movie has taken Russia by storm.

T-34, a high-octane tribute to the Soviet tank that played a key role on the Eastern Front of World War II, is the latest in a series of big-budget history flicks sponsored by the Culture Ministry and lavished with round-the-clock coverage on Russian state TV.

Spanning the years 1941-45, the film tells the story of Red Army Lieutenant Nikolai Ivushkin’s unlikely attempt to escape a German prisoner-of-war camp in a T-34 tank that he and three other men are tasked with repairing by their Nazi overseers. The fugitives are cornered in a German village near the Czechoslovak border, where an epic tank battle culminates the movie.


The slow-motion projectiles and video-game graphics give the movie a modern feel, and its simple storyline is thin on nuance. According to director Aleksei Sidorov, the aim of the film was to “tell the story of war in a way that appeals to the youth but doesn’t prove controversial among those who still keep the Great Patriotic War [World War II] in their memory,” the Culture Ministry quoted him as saying in a press release.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y_eRUErIlY
T-34 | Official HD Trailer (2018) | WORLD WAR II DRAMA | Film Threat Trailers

www.youtube.com

This time, a formula used in dozens of similar films appears to have finally struck gold. T-34 is the third Russian film devoted to World War II-era tanks since 2012 — but unlike its predecessors, 2012’s White Tiger and 2018’s Tanks, it’s proving a major hit with Russian audiences.

Since its nationwide release on Jan. 1, 2019, the movie has raked in more than a billion rubles, securing the top spot at the Russian box office. More than 4 million theatergoers have seen the film so far, according to stats from the Russian Cinema Fund.

Powerful backing played a role. The producer of T-34 is Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire businessman with Kremlin ties. “For me, T-34 is more than a perfectly conceived adventure flick,” Blavatnik told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017, where the film’s budget was estimated at 600 million rubles (currently million). “My grandfather was a World War II veteran, and that great victory is part of our family lore.”

Mostly politics-free

The war cost the lives of more than 26 million Soviet civilians and military personnel, and is held up as a point of national pride. The memory of the heroic Soviet campaign to oust the German invaders has often been used as fodder in propaganda, a fact noted by film critic Anton Dolin. But in a review for the independent news site Meduza, Dolin argues that T-34 avoids the primitive methods on display in other war movies sponsored by the Russian government.

“I thank the authors for creating a high-budget war blockbuster almost clear of propagandistic and ideological motives,” Dolin writes. “Even the word ‘Stalin’ is mentioned here only once, and in a facetious context. That’s a rarity in our times.”

White Tiger Official Trailer (2014) – Russian World War 2 Tank Movie HD

www.youtube.com

But T-34 is not completely free of references to contemporary geopolitics, it seems. In the tank battle that opens the movie, a cowardly Ukrainian soldier who gets mouthy with Ivushkin dies, while the tough Belarusian who obeys the lieutenant’s orders remains by the Russian’s side till the happy ending.

The film Tanks, which was released in 2018 and directed by Kim Druzhinin, can be seen as a prequel of sorts to T-34. It tells the story of two T-34 prototypes making their way from Kharkov to Moscow as the Nazi leadership looks for ways to destroy them and preempt the havoc they would soon wreak. The first audience for Tanks, according to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was servicemen at the Russian-run Khmeimim air base in Syria.

But while Tanks was widely panned by critics and proved a flop at the box office, T-34 has rolled over its competition. Perhaps it’s the lazy January holidays that bring Russians en masse before the screens.

“What could be merrier,” Dolin writes, than “crushing the fascist toad, and then chasing the victory down with mandarins and champagne?”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian strategic bombers deploy to Venezuelan airbase

Two Russian Tupolev/United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Tu-160M1 supersonic bombers, NATO codename “Blackjack”, arrived in Venezuela on Dec. 10, 2018, amid speculation about rising tensions between Russia and the U.S. along with continued questions about the status of Venezuela’s government. It’s the third deployment after those in 2003 and 2008.


The two massive Tu-160 “White Swan” bombers arrived at Simón Bolívar International Airport outside Caracas following a 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) flight across the Atlantic from Engels 2 Air Base, 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) east of Saratov, Russia. The aircraft belong to Russia’s elite 121st Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, the only unit to operate the approximately 11 operational Tu-160 aircraft of 17 reported total airframes from 6950th Air Force Base.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

A Russian Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic heavy bomber arrives in Venezuela

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The two Tu-160s were supported on the deployment by an accompanying Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy lift cargo aircraft for support equipment and spares and a retro-looking Ilyushin Il-62 passenger aircraft carrying support, diplomatic and media personnel to accompany the deployment.

Interestingly, some flight tracking data posted to social media show that the mission initially included three Tu-160 heavy bombers, or, two Tu-160s and an aerial tanker. The navigational track shows one aircraft orbiting over the central Atlantic at mid-route from their departure base in central Russia on the way to the southern Caribbean. This third aircraft may have been the routine use of a back-up aircraft or for midair refueling. The third aircraft, depicted in the tracking graphic as an additional White Swan, reversed course over the Atlantic at mid-course and returned to their base.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

Tu-160 flight crews presented a Venezuelan officer with a model of their aircraft upon arrival in Venezuela

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The Tu-160s flying off Scotland triggered the scramble of two RAF Typhoon jets from RAF Lossiemouth, carrying, for the first time in a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), Meteor BVR AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles). While the Typhoons did not intercept the Russian bombers, the Blackjacks were escorted by RNoAF F-16s for a small portion of their journey.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

The tracks of the Tupolev Tu-160 flight headed to Venezuela.

(Twitter photo)

Popular news media hyped the mission by sensationalizing the nuclear capability of the Tu-160 and the potential threat it could pose to the U.S. mainland from the Caribbean. It is a certainty that the aircraft dispatched by Russia are not armed with nuclear weapons or likely any strike weapons at all. The likelihood is the Tu-160 mission is largely a diplomatic show of resolve in the wake of U.S. remarks that, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted in a Dec. 9, 2018 Washington Post article, “The United States will no longer ‘bury its head in the sand’ about Russia’s violation of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987.”

Diplomatic sabre rattling aside, photos from the mission had the feel of an airshow display more than a strategic nuclear weapons deployment. Bands and dignitaries greeted the aircraft in Maiquetia airport outside Caracas under brilliant Caribbean sun. Photos and video shows a member of the Black Jack aircrew giving a model Tu-160 to a Venezuelan officer as a remarkable keepsake of the mission. Venezuelan press ran a graphic depicting how the aircraft could strike the continental U.S. from the Caribbean.

12/10/18: Russian Tu-160 “White Swan” Bombers Arrive in Venezuela.

www.youtube.com

The Tu-160 is a noteworthy aircraft because of its size, speed and rarity. While the U.S. cancelled its ambitious XB-70 Valkyrie super bomber program in 1969 and later developed the B-1 and low-observable B-2 along with the upcoming B-21 Raider, Russia has begun a program of updating avionics, engines and weapons systems on the Tu-160 and starting production of the upgraded bombers again. The first of the “Tu-160M2” upgrades, essentially a new aircraft built on the old planform, flew earlier this year with operational capability planned for 2023. The new Tu-160M2s will not be rebuilt, upgraded existing Tu-160s, but rather new production aircraft coming from the Tupolev plant. Russia says it will build “50” of the aircraft.

The Tu-160 has taken part in the Air War in the skies over Syria. At least one Tu-160 aircraft flew a strike mission on Nov. 17, 2015, that hit ISIL targets in Syria using Russian 3M-54 Kalibur cruise missiles launched at standoff range.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

3 ways the US could strike targets in Syria

President Donald Trump warned Russia on April 11, 2018, that US missiles are coming for Syria, whether or not Russia will try to defend against them.

Such a strike would call on the US’s most high-end platforms and present one of the most difficult military challenges on Earth.


Russia has deployed advanced air-defenses to Syria, and they’re pretty much the top of the line. A Russian diplomat and several Russian lawmakers also threatened to shoot down US missiles, the platforms that fired them, and to otherwise impose “grave repercussions.”

But the US has stealth jets and Navy destroyers that can send missiles over 1,000 miles. If the US does intend to strike targets under Russia’s air defenses, it will carry out perhaps the most complicated, technologically advanced military skirmish of all time.

1. The US’s best stealth jets vs. Russia’s best air defenses

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
F-22 deploys flares.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute, an expert on Russian missile defense systems and strategic armaments, previously told Business Insider that US planes can beat Russian air defenses, but not without a fight.

“Yeah they can do it. In theory, they can do it because they will be launching stand off weapons,” Sutyagin said, referring to long-range missiles as “standoff weapons.”

“The tactics of these low-visibility planes, as they were designed originally, was to use the fact that detection range was decreased so you create some gaps in radar range and then you approach through the gap and launch standoff weapons,” he said.

“If American pilots will be not experienced in their fifth-gens, they will be shot down. If they are brilliant, operationally, tactically brilliant, they will defeat them,” Sutyagin concluded.

Retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col David Berke, a former F-35 squadron leader and an F-22 pilot, also told Business Insider that US stealth jets were built to take on Russia’s air defenses specifically.

2. The Navy option

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
UGM-109 Tomahawk missile detonates above a test target, 1986.
(U.S. Navy photo)

But the US already struck Syria’s government successfully in 2017, using cruise missiles launched from US Navy guided-missile destroyers.

“One air defense battalion with an S-300 [advanced Russian air defense system] has 32 missiles. They will fire these against 16 targets (maybe against cruise missiles they would fire a one-to-one ratio) but to prevent the target from evading, you always launch two … but what if there are 50 targets?” Sutyagin said.

“The Russian military in Syria has air defense systems theoretically capable of shooting down US Tomahawk missiles but these can be saturated and, in the case of the S-400 [another Russian air defense system] in particular, are largely unproven in actual combat use,” Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at RUSI, told Business Insider.

But the cruise missile strike of April, 2017, did little to actually stop chemical weapons attacks or violence against civilians from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Within 24 hours, warplanes took off from the damaged airfield again.

Russia has heavy naval power in the region, but Bronk predicted that Moscow won’t have the stomach for a full-on fight against the US Navy, as it could easily escalate into all-out war between the world’s greatest military and nuclear powers.

3. Trump’s next strike may make the last one look tiny

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Battle damage assessment image of Shayrat Airfield, Syria, is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image, released by the Pentagon following U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missile strikes from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter on April 7, 2017.
(U.S. Department of Defense photo)

President Donald Trump is now weighing a much larger strike to send a clear message, the New York Times reports.

To do this, the US will have to carefully weigh how much it wants to risk against Russia, a competent foe.

The scale of the US’s strike “depends on the risk appetite,” Bronk said, as the US will be “risking escalation directly with the Russians.”

“If the US decides on an option that involves more than cruise missiles and potentially a few stealth aircraft, it will have to suppress the Syrian air defense network and threaten or potentially even kill Russians,” Bronk said.

Articles

This trailblazing Asian American Olympian was also an Army doctor

Samuel “Sammy” Lee was born in Fresno, California in 1920. His parents were of Korean descent and owned a chop suey restaurant and market. When the 1932 Olympics came to Los Angeles, Lee became driven by the Olympic fever that swept over the state to become an Olympian himself. That summer, he discovered his natural ability to perform somersaults. This set him on his path to become an Olympic champion diver.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Lee soars into a dive (USC Athletics)

Lee’s family later moved to Highland Park in Los Angeles. However, Latinos, Asians and African Americans were restricted at the Pasadena Brookside Park Plunge pool. They were only allowed in on “International Day,” the Wednesday before the pool was drained and refilled. This forced Lee to get creative.

Attending his father’s alma mater, Occidental College, Lee had no on-campus dive coach. Rather, he was privately instructed by renowned dive coach Jim Ryan. They dug a sandpit in Ryan’s backyard and mounted a one-meter springboard for Lee to practice on. On top of constant chafing from the sand, Lee endured constant verbal abuse from Ryan, but it wasn’t without reason.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Lee in his Army uniform with coach “Big Jim” Ryan (Public Domain)

On one rainy afternoon, 1928 silver medalist diver Farid Simaika stopped by the sandpit to visit his former coach and see Lee’s progress. Wet, sandy and fresh off a beratement from Ryan, Lee was visibly upset and frustrated. “You know why he is so tough on you?” Simaika asked Lee. “At the 1928 Olympics, I won the gold but 3 days later they said there was an error and replayed the medal ceremony. I gave the gold to Pete DesJardins.”

Ryan was furious with the amended medal ceremony. “I’ll be back with a non-white diver and beat all of you!” Ryan yelled as he threw chairs into the pool.

Simaika, an Egyptian American, was neglected by the Egyptian Olympic Committee and could not compete in 1932. “That is why he is so tough on you,” Simaika reassured Lee. “You are his intended champion!”

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Lee gives advice to fellow diver and serviceman Miller Anderson in 1948 (Public Domain)

In 1942, Lee won the U.S. National Diving Championships in both 3-meter and 10-meter platform events. In doing so, he became the first person of color to win the national championship in diving. Four years later, he repeated his 10-meter platform victory and came third in the 3-meter event.

Simultaneously, Lee attended the USC School of Medicine and received his M.D. in 1947. In order to pay for school, he joined the Army Reserves.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Lee and Manalo at the 1948 Olympics (Life Magazine)

At the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Lee won bronze in the 3-meter springboard and gold in the 10-meter platform diving events. His achievement came just two days after his friend and fellow Asian American, Vicki Draves (née Manalo), won gold in springboard diving. At the games, the Egyptian delegation approached Lee and informed him of Simaika’s prophecy. “He said Sammy Lee would be the first non-white diver to win an Olympic diving gold medal,” they told him. Simaika became a U.S. Army pilot and was KIA over Indonesia during WWII. Still, he was right about Lee.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Lee wins gold at the 1952 Olympics (Public Domain)

By 1952, Lee reached the rank of major. Before going to the war in Korea, he was allowed to compete at the Helsinki Olympics. “But you better win,” he was told. Sure enough, Lee took home another gold medal in the 10-meter platform event. Afterwards, he went to Korea and served there as a doctor from 1953 to 1955.

Despite his Olympic success and military service, Lee still faced discrimination at home. When he tried to buy a house in Garden Grove, California, residents compiled a petition of signatures to keep him out of the neighborhood. Still, Lee remained in Southern California where he practiced as an ENT doctor until his retirement in 1990.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Lee remained active in the diving community after he stopped competing (USC Athletics)

Lee was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2009, he was added to the Anaheim/Orange County Walk of Stars. The next year, Sammy Lee Square in Los Angeles’ Koreatown was named for him. The Los Angeles Unified School District also named the Dr. Sammy Lee Medical and Health Sciences Magnet School in his honor in 2013. Three years later, Lee passed away. His legacy of service and excellence is carried on by other Army Olympians like Sagen Maddalena and Phillip Jungman.

Feature Image: Public Domain

Lists

4 things you immediately learn after treating a Taliban fighter

Corpsman and combat medics often get tasked with being quasi-detectives before, during, and after coming in contact with the enemy. Due to the Geneva Convention and a special oath we take, we’re bound to treat every patient that comes our way — regardless of what side they’re on.


After every mission or patrol, the infantry squad gathers to conduct a debriefing of the events that transpired. It’s in this moment that thoughts and ideas are discussed before squad breaks for some decompression time.

If the corpsman and combat medic took care of an enemy patient and discovered new information, everyone needs to know — the info could save lives down the line.

Related: This is what it was like fighting alongside Afghan troops

So, what kinds of things do we look for outside of the obvious when we treat the bad guys?

4. The importance of elbows.

Ask any seasoned sniper, “how are your elbows?” He’ll probably tell you that they’re bruised as hell. Many snipers lose superficial sensation in the bony joint after spending hours in the prone position, lining up that perfect shot.

When a Taliban fighter has sore or bruised elbows, chances are they took a few shots at allied forces in the past. The squad doc can usually check during a standard exam.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle notices his Iraq host with bruised elbows, making him a potential sniper. (Screenshot from American Sniper, property of Warner Brothers)

3. Scars are telling.

The Taliban are well known for seeking American treatment for minor issues, but typically to go to their own so-called “doctors” when they get shot. Medical staff commonly search for other injuries while conducting their exam. Scarring due to significant injury is immediately red flagged.

Although the bad guy will likely make up a sh*t excuse for the healed-over wound via the interpreter, moving forward, he’s a guy you probably shouldn’t trust.

Also Read: 11 memes that are way too real for every Corpsman

2. Always consider time frame.

Often, the Taliban shows up at the American front gates, pleading for medical attention while claiming to have been innocently shot. This claim usually earns them entry into the allied base under close guard. Next, the potential bad guy gives a statement and a time frame of when he was injured.

This information will be routed up to the intel office to be thoroughly verified. Oftentimes, the state of the wound doesn’t match up with the time frame given. As a “doc,” always recall the typical stages of healing and determine how old the really wound is, regardless of statement.

1. There’s a little hope with every patient you encounter.

Although you’re on opposing sides, there’s some good in every patient you come across. From the youngest to the oldest, your professionalism and kindness could stop a future attack down the line. Winning the “hearts and minds” isn’t complete bullsh*t, but it’s close.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
Doc Silva handshakes the hand of a few Afghan children while on patrol. (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

Humor

These 10 letters kids sent to deployed troops will make you smile

Words can’t be expressed how grateful deployed troops are when they receive care packages and letters from back home. A swarm of grown men and women will hover around them just to get whatever goodies they can out of them.


I’ve seen people fight over chocolate that made it through the trip (spoiler alert: there’s a one in a million chance it doesn’t melt on the way over). I’ve seen someone buy a pack of Girl Scout cookies for $50. I still wear a 550-cord band that I got in one of mine because a kid wrote that it’d keep me safe. I’m still here today so technically, you can’t prove the kid wrong.

The letters from the kids are the amazing. The letters fall somewhere between savage as f*ck to random as sh*t. These are some of the best from the Internet.

1. Thank you. Don’t Die

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

Thanks, kid. I’ll try not to.

2. This ‘Merican AF dragon!

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

I said consummate ‘v’s!

3. Call Me Maybe

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

And now we all have that song stuck in our heads… Thanks, Maddie.

4. My mom likes drinking wine

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

Awesome!

5. You rock more than AC/DC or Metallica, or Red Hot Chili Peppers

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero

Kid knows AC/DC, Metallica, and Chili Peppers, even if he can’t spell them? Yeah. He’s probably going to enlist some day.

6. Thank you for fighting in the war

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

Don’t know if spelling error or not… But we do whatever it takes to keep our country proud of us!

7 Happy America Nut’s Kream

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

Meow America, indeed.

8. My Grandpa Bob was in the Navy and now he loves peanuts.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

Peanuts. Yes, peanuts. Couldn’t possibly be anything else.

9. You’ll probably never get to see your family again

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

Thanks for caring, Donovan.

10. My dad said you guys are fighting a bunch of goat f*ckers.

How the F6F Hellcat became America’s answer to the Japanese Zero
(Image via Imgur)

For someone who doesn’t know what a goat f*cker is, Jack has some pretty good spelling and penmanship.

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