Check out our list of the 18 greatest fighter aircraft of all time!
Let’s face it – some planes are tough to fly. The F4U Corsair that served in World War II and Korea was called the “Ensign Eliminator.” The F-104 Starfighter and AV-8B+ Harrier have both been called the “Widow Maker.”
So. too, was the Martin B-26 Marauder.
The B-26 Marauder was a medium bomber with two engines. According to MilitaryFactory.com, it had a crew of seven, a top speed of 282 miles per hour, a range of 675 miles, and the ability to carry up to 5,200 pounds of bombs.
It also had a bad reputation early in World War II for crashing and killing its crews. In fact, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher, the B-26 was nearly cancelled because of all the crashes. But experienced crews went to bat for it, convincing Sen. Harry Truman to relent.
The bomber ultimately flew over 110,000 sorties, and dropped over 150,000 tons of bombs on the Axis.
One of those who helped prove the B-26 wasn’t a killer was Jimmy Doolittle, fresh from leading the Tokyo raid. He soon realized that many of the instructors were almost as inexperienced as the pilots they were training. Worse, the mechanics were not experienced, and weren’t maintaining the engines properly.
To top it off, a switch in the type of gasoline used had been causing damaged to the carburetors.
Doolittle soon took the plane up – in the type of lead-from-the-front leadership that would later get him in hot water with Gen. Eisenhower on more than one occasion. He would fly the plane with one engine shut down on takeoff, then he would make inverted passes at low level. But the Army also began to work harder on training the crews properly, and the manufacturer sent crews out to train the mechanics.
The Army also made a training film for prospective pilots of the Marauder, which you can watch below.
On July 11, 2017, the Sri Lankan navy was conducting operations nine miles out to sea and spotted something surprising: an elephant swimming in the deep ocean.
Elephants are actually excellent swimmers for land animals, using their powerful legs to propel themselves forward and breathing through their trunk. But they aren’t true endurance swimmers or deepwater experts.
According to Avinash Krishnan, a research officer for conservation group A Rocha who spoke to the Guardian, swimming out nine miles isn’t horribly rare for elephants. But saltwater bothers their skin and they burn a lot of energy while swimming, making rescue necessary.
Luckily for the little pachyderm, the Sri Lankan sailors were happy to assist. They used ropes, divers, and their ships to pull the elephant close to shore over the course of a 12-hour rescue.Oddly enough, this wasn’t an isolated event. The very next week, the navy spotted two elephants in distress 1.5 miles from the coast. The animals were barely keeping their trunks above water when a patrol craft spotted them. They were also rescued by boats pulling them to shore with ropes attached by divers.
In 1831, King Louis Philippe of France expanded his country’s military by establishing a service branch made up of mostly foreigners: the French Foreign Legion. Immediately after its creation, the Foreign Legion recruited fighters from Switzerland, Germany, and other countries to protect and expand the French colonial empire. Despite the Foreign Legion’s involvement in most of France’s wars since being established, the French don’t get too bummed about their losses. Let’s just say it’s complicated.
We just heard how the U.S. Army’s top general wants to put lasers, rail guns and all kinds of high-tech wizbangery on the service’s next-generation tank.
Sure, that sounds awesome. But let’s face it, those types of technologies built tough enough to be soldier-proof and deployed on a ground vehicle are still years off.
But what would happen if you slapped on a crap ton of totally badass weaponry that’s available today, wrapped it in some truly tough armor and gave it some go-anywhere treads?
Well, that’s what those mad scientists in Chelyabinsk (Russia’s main weapons development lab) did with the BMP-T “Terminator.” And by the looks of it, what trooper wouldn’t want this Mecha-esque death dealer backing him up during a ground assault.
This machine is festooned with about everything a ground-pounder could ask for, aside from a 125mm main gun. With two — count ’em — two side-by-side 30mm 2A42 autocannons, the Terminator can throw down up to 800 rounds of hate per minute out to 4,000 yards.
Take that Mr. Puny Bradley with your itty bitty 25mm chain gun…
Those 30 mike-mikes will take care of most ground threats for sure, but the Russians didn’t stop there. To blow up tanks and take down buildings and bunkers, the BMP-T is equipped with four launch tubes loaded with 130mm 9M120 “Ataka-T” anti-tank missiles. These missiles are capable of penetrating over two-feet of tank armor.
Enough badassery for one vic? No sir. The Terminator is also loaded with a secondary 7.62mm PKTM machine gun peeking out between the two 30mm cannons, and it’s got a pair of secondary, secondary 30mm grenade launchers just to add a little close in bang bang.
The Russians reportedly developed the BMP-T after its experience in Afghanistan and more recently in Chechnya, were the armor of a tank was needed in an urban fight, but with more maneuverability and better close-range armament than a tank gun.
Reports indicate the Terminator has been deployed to the anti-ISIS fight in Syria for field trials, but it’s unclear how many of these wheeled arsenals Moscow actually has in its inventory.
That said, the video below shows just how freaking full-on this infantry fighting vehicle is and the devastating punch it packs for bad guys.
What will the future hold? Cyber operations, state-of-the-art drone systems, and crazy advancements in infantry equipment.
Nobody wants to get lost out in the wilderness as snow falls at a rapid rate and darkness begins to settle in. Hell, it’s scary enough getting turned around while your walking in downtown Los Angeles at 3 a.m. and the streets are littered with homeless people. (We’re only kidding — sort of.) If you get trapped out in the great unknown, hopefully, you have some survival equipment with you already. But let’s say your compass is broken, for one reason or another. Don’t worry, we can fashion an alternate, magnet-powered one in no time. It’s actually pretty easy!
First, check in your survival kit for needle or pin. Pull that out, because you’ll need it. Next, if you have a radio on you (and it’s not proving more useful than a compass), pull out some of the wire and the battery pack. Wrap some easy-to-find paper around the pin, then follow that up by wrapping the wire around that pin. The paper wrap will insulate the pin from the electric current.
Hold (or tape) the ends of the wire to the positive side and negative side of the battery. The needle will heat up, but that’s normal. It’s just science.
Once your pin is magnetized, disconnect the wire and pull it out from the paper. Place the needle on a leaf — or something close to that — as it floats on the surface of a small body of water.
If you did all those steps correctly, the floating pin should point to magnetic north. Now, carry your new field-made compass with you so you don’t get lost again.
Make sure and check out
Black Scout Survival‘s video below to watch a complete breakdown of how to make a field compass.
WATM’s Ryan Curtis hits the streets with stunt driver Jim Wilkey, a Vietnam War vet whose Hollywood credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Rush Hour,” “Inception,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “The Dark Knight Trilogy.’ Jim’s experience in the Navy working with a wide range of equipment gave him the knowledge to get started as a stuntman and stunt driver.
Follow along as Jim (bravely) lets Ryan get behind the wheel and try his hand at the stunt course.
Army Sgt. David Logan Nye just wanted to do his job during his first combat deployment.
But that’s not how the military works.
In this episode of No Sh*t There I Was, Nye sets off on a fools-errand with a bunch of high brass and a very stressed out guy charged with detecting IEDs. When they hear a call on the radio that a potential insurgent is fleeing a checkpoint, they take off running to intercept — leaving the metal detector behind.
“Pass the guy protecting us from IEDs…because there are too many probable IEDs on the ground…?” Nye’s inner monologue reflects that of everyone who has ever had to deal with an overly-enthusiastic boss.
Luckily, the rag-tag group of heroes didn’t encounter any IEDs that day, but they did stumble upon something else much more…groovy? Check out the video at the top to see what it was.
Oh, and to my fellow officers out there, let’s try to get in the way of the experts a little less, shall we?
Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:
For Veterans Day, the Call of Duty Endowment held the Race to Prestige. Five gamer personalities – GoldGloveTV, TmarTn, Jeriicho, Hutch, and VernNotice – played Call of Duty: Black Ops III for 96 hours straight in a live stream marathon. The goal? To help veterans get high quality jobs.
The Call of Duty Endowment helps veterans find high quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value vets ring to the workplace.
Activision matched the donations raised by gamers from all over the Internet. The event collected $450,000 for the endowment. Navy veteran and Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment Dan Goldenberg lauded the goal-breaking fundraising, “Our goal initially was to raise $25,000 and they blew that away in the first two hours… basically, every $600 puts a vet in a job.”
By that math, the event raised enough money to help 750 veterans find great, long-term employment.
If you are an out-of-work veteran, go to www.callofdutyendowment.org.
Each year, thousands of civilians host military for meals in their homes as thanks for their many sacrifices, including missing their family at holidays.
For “NFL Salute to Service,” USAA teamed up with Denver Broncos star DeMarcus Ware for a surprise home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for military members from Fort Carson (CO) in honor of their service. Watch as this NFL star hosts these unsuspecting military for a surprise home-cooked meal that they’ll never forget.
The experience was hosted by USAA, the Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the NFL as part of its commitment to authentically honor military through “Salute to Service.”
U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman was killed in action on March 4, 2002. He fought with courage and ferocity on the cold, snow-laden mountaintop of Takur Ghar, now known as Roberts Ridge.
Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions 16 years later, on August 22, 2018. Not only did he fight through borderline impossible terrain to eliminate enemy fighters, but after he was mortally wounded, he regained consciousness and continued to fight. He killed several enemy fighters, one in hand-to-hand combat, in a valiant attempt to rescue his fellow teammate Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Neil Roberts.
In a grainy drone feed recently released by the U.S. Air Force to the public, the heroic actions of Chapman are unmistakable. The video also gives us a glimpse into the courageous acts of every other service member on the ground — the SEALs, the Ranger Quick Reaction Force, and the air crews.
This video contains the last moments of American service members in combat, and for the first time in history, a Medal of Honor recipient’s actions in combat. A video like this cannot do their actions justice, nor can they give us 100 percent certainty as to the reality on the ground. But it serves as a reminder of the very real sacrifice many have made in the service of our country. Those who made it off Takur Ghar will surely carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.
Coffee or Die spoke to retired Master Sergeant Eric Stebner, a career U.S. Army Ranger who fought on Takur Ghar that day.
It was his first of 10 deployments in the Global War on Terror, and then-Sergeant Stebner was a young fire team leader in the 1st Ranger Battalion. “We were about three months into the deployment, and it was pretty slow up to that point,” he said.
Stebner recounted climbing the steep landscape, wading through the snow. Some fellow Rangers ditched their plates in order to make it up the mountain on time. “I was the point man as we went up there… I never did toss my plates though.”
When asked what it was like fighting on a slope like that — wading through snow with heavy gear after a merciless infil — Stebner said, “Man, by the time I got up there, I was going pretty slow. We all were. Traditionally, you go, ‘I’m up, he sees me, I’m down’ — but I was just staying up. Going up and down that slow would have been even more dangerous at that point. But we pushed through it.”
Stebner knew what was on the drone feed, he was there when it happened — he was the one who found Roberts’ body. But when a video like that enters the public eye, it can change things.
“I think it’s good for [the American public] to see it. To know the real story,” Stebner said. “When you think of someone getting a Medal of Honor, you think of a guy saving his squad, saving his team, clearing a bunker — Chapman did that, he earned it. It’s good for the public to be able to see it, read about it, and know it. That’s how a Medal of Honor is earned.”
The battle of Roberts Ridge is ingrained in Ranger history, but Stebner doesn’t talk about it often. As he progressed in Ranger Battalion, many of his younger Rangers had no idea he had fought there. One Ranger had known him for two years before he found out, and asked Stebner why he never told him. “Does it really matter?” Stebner said in response. “Whatever I do, I’m going to do regardless of whether or not anyone knows about what I did. You’re only as good as your last performance, so keep moving forward.”
Stebner reflects the quiet professionalism that defines the Ranger Regiment to this day.
The men killed in action during the Battle of Roberts Ridge
Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Neil “Fifi” C. Roberts
Air Force Combat Controller Tech. Sgt John A. Chapman
Air Force Pararescueman Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) Sergeant Philip “Spytech” Svitak
75th Ranger Regiment:
Corporal Matthew A. Commons
Sergeant Bradley S. Crose
Specialist Marc A. Anderson
They’re the swimmers that everyone else counts on.
Coast Guard rescue swimmers are rarely the subjects of much media attention, that 2006 Kutcher-Costner film notwithstanding. But this tiny cadre of athletes, typically numbering between 300 and 400, conduct some of the highest risk, highest-stakes rescues around the world.
Remember when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico? One part of that crisis response was the rescue swimmers who helped airlift out survivors and establish triage to save all the lives they could. Over 100 people jumped from Deepwater Horizon or were blown off the rig into the water. Tragically, 11 died, but over 100 survived.
They jump into the water from helicopters or planes and then swim into burning ships or complicated, underwater cave systems. They can save ship crews in hurricanes and downed aviators in combat if they get the call. And they can even fight any of their rescuees underwater for control if a panicking survivor tries to resist.
The video embedded above shows a group of these swimmers going through the grueling Coast Guard school to earn their place in the lifesaving profession.
But while the video and most descriptions of their duties focus on the extreme physical requirements for these Coast Guardsmen, equally important is their ability to maintain and troubleshoot their own gear and the gear on their aircraft. This can include everything from parachutes to oxygen systems, pumps to protective clothing, and cargo to flotation equipment.
And they are expected to attain and maintain medical qualifications, because they could be the only emergency technician available for crucial minutes or hours. This requires an EMT qualification at a minimum.
And, finally, they have to be comfortable working on a variety of aircraft. Their most iconic ride is the Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk, that distinctive orange and white beauty based on the Navy’s SH-60 Seahawk and the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk.
But they can also be assigned to the HH-65C Dolphin or, more rarely, fixed-wing aircraft.
Feature image: screen capture from YouTube