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Help your “friends” clean up their acts with the Blue Falcon Correctional Kit

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Get yours today! Supplies are limited. (Marines, do not eat the soap.)

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America’s top strategic bomber once had devastating tail guns

The B-52 has been serving in America’s nuclear deterrent arsenal since 1952. But a lot has changed on the BUFF and its mission since it was on the front line against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.


The strategic bomber has gone from being designed to deliver huge nuclear bombs on Russia to dropping precision-guided conventional bombs on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Today, it is far more likely to deliver its nukes using air-launched cruise missiles than a gravity bomb.

But little did most people know that part of its post-World War II heritage equipped the lengthy bomber with tail guns.

The retirement of Chief Master Sgt. Rob Wellbaum is notable since he was the last of the B-52 tail gunners in the Air Force. Most versions of the BUFF had four .50-caliber M3 machine guns – fast-firing versions of the historic Ma Deuce (1,000 rounds per minute, according to GlobalSecurity.org) that were also used on the F-86 Sabre. Two B-52 versions went with different armament options, the B-52B (twin 20mm cannon in some planes) and the B-52H (an M61 Vulcan).

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This is what a B-52’s tail looks like now, with the M61 Vulcan removed. A sad sight. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the B-52G and H, the tail gunners were in the main cabin, using a remotely operated turret. Earlier models had the tail gunners sitting in a shooters seat in the rear of the plane, providing the BUFF an extra set of eyes to detect SAM launches.

Those tail guns even saw some action. During the Vietnam War, three B-52Ds used their tail guns to score kills. All three of the victims were North Vietnamese MiG-21 Fishbeds, who found out the hard way that the BUFFs weren’t helpless targets on their six.

The B-52s up to the G model ultimately used the MD-9 fire-control system for the tail guns. The B-52G used the AN/ASG-15 for its remotely-operated quad .50 caliber turret while the B-52H used the AN/ASG-21 to guide its M61 Vulcan.

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A F-4G Wild Weasel, the plane involved in the friendly fire incident that prompted the removal of the tail guns and tail gunners from the B-52. (USAF photo)

An incident during Operation Desert Storm, though, would soon change things for the BUFF. A friendly-fire incident occurred when a tailgunner thought an Iraqi plane was closing in. The plane was actually an Air Force F-4G Wild Weasel. The crew of the U.S. jet mistook the B-52G’s AN/ASG-15 for an enemy air-defense system. The Weasel crew fired an AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile, which damaged the BUFF. The BUFF returned to base, and was reportedly named “In HARM’s Way” as a result.

Shortly after the misunderstanding, the Air Force announced that the tail guns were going away.

So, for all intents and purposes, a generation has passed since the B-52 had a tail gunner. Gone are the days when a fighter had to watch its steps when trying to get behind the B-52. To get a glimpse at what was lost, check out the video below.

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WATCH: Australian Army soldiers are pretty smart

The Australian Army has found a fairly ingenious way of helping machine gunners hold their weapons steady. Gunners need to be able to do this while standing, and sometimes that can be easier said than done. The Australian Army has come up with a great solution. It’s called the Reaper and it looks pretty rad. The Reaper Weapon Support System (RWS) is a backpack that gunners can wear. It helps redistribute some of the weight from the machine gun across the gunner’s back. That makes it easier to stand, easier to fire, and easier to stay alive. 

Ask any gunner what it feels like after a day in the field and they’ll tell you they’re tired. Especially after a long ruck or a never-ending FTX, the last thing a gunner wants to worry about is how to properly fire. The Australian Army uses the RWS to help its soldiers get in more firing practice. And it helps them save reserves and energy for when they really need it. The Reaper helps them get more rounds on target and reduce how far their barrels wander due to flagging arm strength.

The Australian Army has been around since 1901. Some of the colonial forces were officially united in 1903. Since then, the Australian Army has shifted to meet the needs of the country. It has participated in both World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. Unit 1916, it was known as the Australian Military Forces. Now it’s officially called the Australian Army. Inventions like the Reaper show that the leadership of the Army is consistently looking for ways to improve the lives of those who are risking theirs for the country’s freedoms. 

The Reaper definitely looks pretty sweet sticking over their back like a scorpion’s tail. 

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Marine and his service dog have a hilarious comedy routine

Michael Garvey is a Marine veteran and alumnus of the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) Comedy Bootcamp program. ASAP is an organization based in Virginia that builds communities for veterans, servicemembers, and military families through classes, performances, and partnerships in the arts. As part of their mission, ASAP offers their Comedy Bootcamp as a way for veterans to explore and develop their comedic abilities.


Michael was able to use the program as a form of therapy for his issues with PTS, and comedy has helped him address his problems by giving him a new way of looking at life and its frustrations. Accompanied by his faithful service dog, Liberty, Michael has made it to the stage at Gotham Comedy Club with several other veteran comedians who took part in the ASAP Comedy Bootcamp program.

Articles

These roving robots are helping to improve hostage rescue training

Hostage rescue is one of the most dangerous missions special operations troops can be assigned to.


One of the big reasons: You have to pull your punches, lest you accidentally kill the people you’re there to rescue. You have to be very stealthy, or you will be detected and the bad guys will kill the hostages. You must move quickly, or the bad guys will kill the hostages.

But it’s hard to find people who want to be in the middle of training for hostage rescue. The answer, according to one DoD release, may be to use robots.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians with the 27th Special Operations Wing conducted some hostage rescue training using the robots this past December – and some of it was caught on video:

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Here is how aerial gunners were trained to fight their way past the Luftwaffe

The United States Army Air Force’s daylight bombing campaign in Europe involved thousands of bombers, and tens of thousands of crewmen. While there were pilots, crew chiefs, radiomen, bombardiers, and navigators on planes like the B-17, about 40 percent of the crew were aerial gunners.


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A U.S. Army Air Forces Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress flying through flak over a target. A hit by flak lead to the capture of Brigadier General Arthur Vanaman, placing ULTRA at risk. (USAF photo)

What did it take to get these specialists ready? In some ways, it didn’t take long – maybe a few weeks. But these gunners had to learn a lot. Maintenance of their machine guns was vitally important. But they also had to learn to hit a moving target – because the Nazi fighters trying to shoot the bombers down were not going to make things easy for them.

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Messerschmidt Bf 109. (Photo: Kogo CC BY-SA 2.0)

So, what did it take to teach gunners how to hit a moving target? Well, for starters, there were lessons on maintenance for both a .30-caliber machine gun (mostly used early in the war) and the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, and how fix them when they jammed. Then, they had to learn how bullets traveled downrange, and how to adjust for the drop of the bullets from the guns.

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A look at the ball turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress, carrying a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When that was done, the trainees were started on full-auto BB guns at an indoor range. Once that was mastered, they then did a lot of skeet shooting with 12-gauge shotguns.

Yep, a popular shooting sport was used to train the folks whose job involved keeping Nazi fighters from shooting down a bomber with ten airmen on board.

Help your “friends” clean up their acts with the Blue Falcon Correctional Kit

The training went on to include live-fire of the machine guns, as well as how the turrets used on planes like the B-17 and B-24 worked. Aircraft recognition — including knowing an enemy fighter’s wingspan — was also very important.

Following that, they took to the air, and learned how to fire the guns while wearing the gear they’d need on board a bomber – including a life vest, parachute, and the helmet.

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B-17 gunners wearing bulky sheep-shearling flying clothing to protect against the deadly cold at the altitudes typically flown in Europe.— At 25,000 feet, the temperature could drop below -60 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force photo)

As you can imagine, this included a lot of learning and skills to master. You can see an introductory video for aerial gunners made during World War II below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Plus-size vet comic: ‘This is what happens when you get out of the Marine Corps’

Marine veteran James P. Connolly (Sirius/XM Radio, Comics Unleashed) hosted the 6th Annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Comedy Show “Cocktails Camouflage” at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California in early November.


All funds raised were donated to Veterans in Film Television (VFT), a non-profit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in film and television and offers the entertainment industry the opportunity to connect with and hire veterans.
In this video, USMC vet Shawn Halpin takes the stage to give us a review of his experience with the P90X workout program.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Wounded warrior Elizabeth Marks receives the 2016 Pat Tillman Award

Wounded warrior Elizabeth Marks sat down with Army veteran Bryan Anderson from We Are The Mighty to talk about her journey through recovery from her injury in Iraq to eventually becoming a Paralympic swimmer.


After receiving this year’s Pat Tillman Award at the ESPYs, she spoke about the support she has received after her injury and the inspiration she hopes to provide others in their struggles.

If you’re hurting, whether it’s mental or emotional; if ever you think you’re alone, you’re not. If ever you think no one cares, I do. Please come join me behind the blocks.

The Pat Tillman Award for Service honors an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the former Army Ranger and NFL star’s legacy.

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How a good carrier landing can go bad in a hurry

Landing a plane on an aircraft carrier is a very dangerous task. Even the movies recognize this – remember the harrowing crash that kills off Charlton Heston’s character in Midway? So, just how easily can a carrier landing go bad?


Very easily. Take a look at all that’s involved: Unlike landing at an air force base, the target is moving. There’s also a lot less space. Yes, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is four and a half acres of sovereign United States territory, but that’s still much smaller than Mountain Home Air Force Base.

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An Attack Squadron 56 (VA-56) A-7E Corsair aircraft bursts into flames after a ramp strike on the aircraft carrier USS MIDWAY (CV-41). (U.S. Navy photo)

There’s also a much shorter stopping distance. Mountain Home Air Force Base a has a runway that’s 13,510 feet long. A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is all of 1,092 feet long — the angled deck used for landing doesn’t even span the length of the carrier. A plane landing has to catch one of four arresting wires and, if it does, there’s always a chance the wire might snap.

Managing that landing is rough, too. If you’re too high, you don’t catch the runway. Too low, you have a ramp strike.

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If you’ve seen Midway or The Hunt for Red October, you’ve seen this crash that Navy test pilot George Duncan survived. (U.S. Navy photo)

There’s a reason that carrier landings, especially at night, have caused naval aviators stress. A 1991 Los Angeles Times article noted that these nighttime landings cause pilots more anxiety than combat. The risk is always there, no matter how much training and technology goes into improving the skills of pilots or making things easier.

Technology breaks, planes can be damaged (as was the case at the end of Midway), or some pilot’s luck just happens to run out on some cold night out at sea. When carrier landings go bad, the pilot’s only recourse is to trust in an ejection seat and the luck that’s betrayed him once already. Check out the Navy training video covering these horrible mishaps below:

 

(PeriscopeFilm | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

This Army officer changed her focus from nuclear warfare to comedy

Marine veteran James P. Connolly (Sirius/XM Radio, Comics Unleashed) hosted the 6th Annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Comedy Show “Cocktails Camouflage” at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California in early November.


All funds raised were donated to Veterans in Film Television (VFT), a non-profit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in film and television and offers the entertainment industry the opportunity to connect with and hire veterans.
In this episode, US Army vet Katie Robinson riffs on her experience as a theater major serving in Iraq.
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This soldier was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading bayonet charges in Korea

Lewis Millett was a man who was in love with war. He fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.


Millett started out in the Massachusetts National Guard in 1938 with the 101st Field Artillery. In 1940 he joined the Army Air Corps and went to gunnery school.

But when Roosevelt came out and said that Americans would not be fighting on foreign soil, Millett was more than a little disappointed. So he deserted in 1941.

Millett hitchhiked to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Army and was promptly sent to the UK, where he served as an anti-aircraft radar operator during the Blitz. Of course, after he got to London, America entered World War II — and Millett turned around and tried to transfer back into the US Army.

Thus began a long and storied career in the US military, including his fabled bayonet charges in the Korean War when he wanted to prove a point.

You can learn more about Lewis Millett on the We Are The Mighty podcast! Check it out here.

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This is how piracy became totally legal during wartime

What’s the difference between pirates and patriots? A government to be loyal to, of course. Such was the case during the age of sail, when warring nations would literally hire pirates and other captains to raid enemy shipping.


When officially endorsed by a belligerent nation, pirates were issued a Letter of Marque – the marque being a pledge to fight for one nation…at least for the time being.

Such was the case with England’s “Sea Dogs,” hired by Queen Elizabeth I to raid gold-laden Spanish treasure fleets sailing from the New World. Capturing a ship meant money for both the ship and her crew as well as the Marque-issuing government.

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The Catholic King Philip of Spain was determined to flip Protestant England back to Catholic control. The English Protestants and their Queen were having none of it. For some 19 years, the two countries were bitter rivals, fighting a series of battles on both land and sea that saw little else but money change hands.

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For the crews who shared the prize money, life was harsh. Disease and starvation were common among sailing crews at the time. For the Sea Dogs’ commander, a few good prizes could make them rich. One pirate would become the second highest-earning pirate of all time.

That Sea Dog was Sir Francis Drake, a Protestant captain with a distaste for Spanish Catholics. Perhaps one of the greatest English leaders of the age, Drake led the expedition that defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 and took his piracy tour to the Pacific for the first time in history.

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The Spanish put a price on his head that would be the modern equivalent of almost $7 million.

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and the war ended the next year. Drake would also not survive the war, dying of dysentery after attacking Puerto Rico. Though the peace restored the status quo, the war was a disaster for Spain.

Embracing the Sea Dogs was a disaster for England as well. After the war, they joined the raiders of the North African coast, continuing their anti-Catholic piracy careers alongside the Turkish corsairs of the Barbary States.

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