Russia's only aircraft carrier is a floating hell for the crew - We Are The Mighty
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Russia’s only aircraft carrier is a floating hell for the crew

Built in 1985, the Kuznetsov, a 55,000-ton behemoth, is a veteran of a full four deployments and is the Russian Navy’s flagship. It’s powered by diesel fuel generators. Serving on the ship is akin to punishment for Russian sailors, who coined the phrase “If you misbehave, you’ll be sent to the Kuznetsov.”


The carrier’s boilers are defective. The central heating system is inoperative. Crewmen must bring their own heaters.

Instead of fixing the system, the Russian Navy just closed half the ship’s latrines and stopped running water to most cabins. Half the ventilators are also in need of repair, so the ship reeks of mold and mildew.

Half the ventilators are also in need of repair, so the ship reeks of mold and mildew.

And probably cabbage.

Read more about Russia’s only aircraft carrier and its defective…everything…here.

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This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

The SR-71 Blackbird was the fastest military jet that has ever taken to the skies. But there was a plane that not only went twice as fast, but it also went much higher.


That speedy plane was the North American X-15.

The X-15 was one of the first true spaceplanes, with a number of flights going beyond Earth’s atmosphere, according to a 2005 NASA release. It was capable of going over 4,500 mph, or nearly Mach 6, and it went as high as 354,200 feet – or just over 67 miles – above the Earth.

North American X-15A. (NASA photo)

The plane didn’t actually take off from the ground. In fact, it needed the help of a B-52 bomber before it could reach those dizzying heights and super-high speeds. NASA used two of the first B-52s, an NB-52A known as the “High and Mighty One,” for some flights before a NB-52B known as “Balls 8” took over the duty.

Once released from the B-52 at an altitude of 45,000 feet and a speed of 500 miles per hour, the X-15’s Reaction Motors XLR-99 would activate providing 70,400 pounds of thrust, according to a NASA fact sheet. At most, the plane had two minutes of fuel.

A X-15A with external fuel tanks and a new paint job is dropped from a NB-52 aircraft. (NASA photo)

Among the pilots who were at the controls of this marvel was Neil Armstrong – you’d know him as the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong didn’t get into space with this plane in any of his seven flights, but he did post the 6th-fastest speed among the X-15 sorties, according to an official NASA history.

One of those who achieved the rating of astronaut, Major Michael Adams, received the honor posthumously after he was killed in a crash of his X-15A on Nov. 15, 1967. Adams had broken the 50-mile barrier that the Air Force and NASA used to define entering space on his seventh and final flight, reaching an altitude of 266,000 feet and a top speed of 3,617 mph, according to the NASA history’s list of X-15 flights.

Below, take a look at the video from Curious Droid, which talks about the X-15 – and the awesome career it had.

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That time a Marine cameraman saved his buddies from an NVA ambush

Frank Lee served as a Marine Corps combat cameraman in Vietnam, collecting spool after spool of footage of other U.S. Marines and soldiers fighting in the hottest parts of the conflict.


Like many recruits, Lee was surprised to learn what his job entailed. He had originally enlisted into electronics and photography to stay away from combat as a concession to his mom who had worried about his safety.

(Photo: YouTube/History)

Lee decided to finally go through some of his more violent footage with his son who had only seen the “G-Rated” footage. In this video, Frank and his son dicuss the day that Lee was wounded in an North Vietnamese Army ambush that left all of those superior to LeeFrank either severely wounded or dead.

Snipers were firing on the Marines and managed to separate the squads. Lee made his way to a small hooch for a little cover and found himself with the platoon’s communication section as the wounded platoon leader sat pinned down 25 yards away.

(Photo: YouTube/History)

Lee had to step up, relaying instructions from the pinned down, wounded platoon sergeant while calling in air strikes on the village from which the fire was coming. While the film is silent, Lee says that he heard the cries of women and children caught in the fighting, sounds that have haunted him since.

American napalm burned through the fields and village. The Marines maintained their perimeter until darkness fell and their brothers from Kilo company were able to reach them.

A corpsman attached a casualty card to Lee and he was medevaced from the bush. For his contributions to saving the patrol, he was awarded the Bronze Star with V Device. Watch him tell the story to his son in the video below:

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Watch this helicopter door gunner shoot down a drone

Drones have become a security concern for the United States military. You might wonder why that is the case when the military operates a number of advanced drones like the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Well, American troops had close calls with ISIS drones, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


ISIS is using drones more and more in their warfighting tactics.

Dealing with drones has become a way for a lot of people to come up with ideas, like jammers that can send the drone running home, lasers that can burn the drones in mid-air, or ammo that can hunt drones. But there is another way to handle a drone that is just as permanent, and which is currently available to the troops on the front lines.

The seized 3DR Solo quadcopter drone, rigged with a remote-detonated improvised explosive device. (Mexican Federal Police photo)

All you need to handle the hostile is a Sikorsky H-60 airframe, and it really doesn’t matter if it’s a UH-60 Blackhawk, MH-60R/S Seahawk, or an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk. Even a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk will do in a pinch. The real key to taking out these drones is the M240, M2, or M3 machine gun that the door gunners use.

A door gunner on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the 244th Aviation Brigade, Oklahoma National Guard, scours the earth below during joint training at Falcon Bombing Range, Fort Sill, Okla., Mar. 22, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Andrew M. LaMoreaux/Released)

In a sense, these door gunners are acting like the old waist gunners on B-17 Flying Fortresses. Back then, those gunners needed training films that included the voice of Bugs Bunny. Seventy-five years later, though, the gunners can actually train against a target similar to what they are shooting. And with live ammo, too.

A drone that was shot down by some of Nammo’s programmable ammo rounds. (Photo from Nammo)

This low-tech solution might not work in all situations, but it is good to know that the United States military does have these options in case they need them. In the video below, you can see a door gunner at the United States Navy Rotary Wing Weapons School get some very realistic training on how to deal with a hostile drone. Note the M240 that is used on this MH-60 Seahawk.

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This is who would win a shoot off between a ‘Ma Deuce’ and a Minigun

The M2, known as “Ma Deuce,” is a classic machine gun that is coming close to a century of service with the United States military. This gun fires about 600 rounds per minute, and has been used on ground mounts, on boats, and even was the main armament of most of America’s World War II fighters. When it comes to suppressive fire, you just can’t get much better than the M2.


Or can you?

US Army Photo

The M134 Minigun is a classic machine gun in its own right, first entering service during the Vietnam War – and it soon shows it could deliver a lot of BRRRRRT! in a small package. In one sense, it is a retro design since it’s based on the Civil War-era Gatling gun. The original Civil War Gatling guns were hand-turned affairs.

The Minigun, however, uses electric power to spin the barrels. As a result, the Minigun can put a lot of rounds downrange – as many as 6,000 rounds a minute.

The AC-47D contained three miniguns mounted in the cargo hold. (Photo: Office of Air Force History)

In this video, the hosts of “Triggers” decide to find out which actually puts more on the target. A 55-gallon drum “volunteers” to be the test subject. Actually, as an inanimate object, it had no real choice in the matter. But hey, there’s plenty of 55-gallon drums where that came from, right?

The hosts then go a thousand yards away for the purposes of the test. The M2 takes the first five-second burst, then the Minigun takes its five-second burst.

Wait until you see the results from this little head-to-head competition between these two full-auto classics via the Military Heroes Channel.

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This Marine pilot makes landing his jet on a stool look easy

When Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney took off for a routine training flight on June 7, 2014, he was probably just expecting to fly a few hundred miles and use some missiles to shoot down alien spacecraft (…because we get our entire understanding of Marine Corps aviation from Independence Day).


But what Mahoney didn’t know was that his AV-8 Harrier had a landing gear problem that wouldn’t become apparent until the jet alerted him to it in the air.

He flew past the control tower on the USS Bataan and asked the people there to take a look. They let him know that his front landing gear wasn’t down.

Pilots prefer to have all four landing points working properly. (Photo: U.S. Navy Seaman Levingston Lewis)

For those who aren’t aware, the front landing gear is very important on all aircraft. Jump jets are less susceptible to problems from landing without gear than other aircraft are, but it’s still a very dangerous gamble.

Luckily, the other pilots on the Bataan had a bold idea.

Wait, “crazy” isn’t spelled B-O-L-D.

The crew ran a very nice, custom stool out to the deck and chained it down. Mahoney then flew his jet very slowly toward the stool and bounced the nose of it.

Jet stools can’t rest on steel decks, Barbara. (GIF: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alisa Helin)

Yeah, he bounces the nose of his multi-million dollar jet on a what is basically a well-dressed stool.

But it worked. Mahoney took a second to breathe and remember how to turn his jet off, and then climbed out to the general praise of his shipmates. You can see the whole landing and an interview with Mahoney in the video at the top.

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This video of a Russian helicopter accidentally firing on observers is crazy

Two people were hospitalized with heavy injuries after a helicopter accidentally fired on observers of the Zapad 2017 military exercises, the online news portal 66.ru cited a source as saying on Sept. 19.


The week-long drills in Western Russia and neighboring Belarus kicked off last week, with the participation of around 13,000 troops and hundreds of tanks, aircraft, warships, and other military hardware.

The incident reportedly took place at the Luzhsky range near St. Petersburg either on Sept. 17 or 18. President Vladimir Putin visited the range on Sept. 18.

Watch footage of the misfire provided alongside the report below:

 

(Птица Кошка Дерево | YouTube) 

The unnamed source told 66.ru that there appeared to have been a technical glitch on board “and the missiles blasted off on their own.”

“At least two cars burned down, two people were seriously injured, they are now hospitalized,” the source said. “The victims were most likely journalists.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said two attack helicopters simulated aerial reconnaissance and close air support missions on Sept. 18 as part of Zapad 2017.

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This biplane could be one of the deadliest North Korean weapons

While much of the world’s attention is focused on the effort by North Korea to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with working nuclear warheads, there is another weapon that is also quite deadly in the arsenal of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Ironically, it is quite low-tech.


That weapon is the An-2 Colt, a seventy-year-old design that is still in front-line service, which means it has the B-52 Stratofortress beaten by about eight years! So, why has this little plane stuck around, and what makes it so deadly in the hands of Kim Jong Un?

An-2 Colt on skis. (Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl/CC BY-SA 3.0)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the An-2 has a top speed of 160 miles per hour, and a range of 525 miles. Not a lot when you compare it to the B-52, which can go 595 miles per hour and fly over 10,000 miles. China is still producing the plane, while upgrade kits are being developed by Antonov. The plane was in production for 45 years, and according to the report from Korrespondent, thousands remain in service.

When it comes down to it, what seem like fatal weaknesses actually make the An-2 deadly in modern combat.

The reason? The plane usually flies low and slow – and as such, it is very hard for modern fighters like the F-22, F-35, and F-16 to locate, track, and fire on. Not only that, the slow speeds and low-altitude operations meant that large portions of the plane can be covered with fabric, according to Warbird Alley. There are also a lot of An-2s in North Korea’s inventory – at least 200, according to a report by MSN.com.

A look at the inside of the An-2, showing seats for passengers. Or commandos. (Wikimedia Commons)

While the plane is often used to deliver troops or supplies, the real threat may be the fact that it could carry some other cargo. While North Korea is just now developing nuclear warheads that fit on missiles, there is the frightening possibility that a nuclear weapon could be delivered using an An-2.

That is how this 70-year-old biplane design could very well be North Korea’s deadliest weapon. You can see a video on the An-2 below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pljj4M8WhYs
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This is how German submarines changed the world during World War I

Prior to World War I, Germany was looking for an edge. They couldn’t take on England’s Grand Fleet in a straight fight – especially with a full naval blockade that was in place at the start of the war.


The submarine really made its mark on Sept. 22, 1914, when the U-9, an older U-boat, sank three British cruisers in about an hour in the North Sea.

The most common of the U-boats in German service was the UB III coastal submarine. According to U-Boat.net, that submarine had a range of over 9,000 miles on the surface, and a top speed of 13.6 knots. When submerged, it could go 55 miles and had a top speed of 8 knots. It had four torpedo tubes in the bow, and one in the stern, and carried ten torpedoes with a crew of 34 men.

German U-boats in Kiel. U-20, which sank the Lusitania, is second from the left in the front row. (Library of Congress photo)

U-Boat.net notes that Germany built 375 U-boats of all types during World War I. Of those 375, 202 were lost in action during World War I. The German U-boats were quite successful, though, hitting over 7,500 ships. That said, it is arguable that German submarines also hurt Germany in the war overall, as opinion in the United States turned against Germany after the sinking of the Lusitania, and Germany’s use of unrestricted submarine warfare brought The U.S. into the war.

Ultimately the U-boats were neutralized by the convoy system starting in June, 1917. At the end of World War I, 172 U-boats — some of which were completed after the war — were surrendered to the Allies.

The video below from the History Channel discusses Germany’s World War I U-boats, and how they changed the shape of naval warfare.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The stars behind ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ explain why today’s troops will love the flick

There are few stories as truly amazing and inspiring as that of World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss.


The soldier saved 75 of his fellow troops during the hellish battle for Okinawa — under cover of darkness, avoiding roving Japanese patrols at every turn and lowering his brothers to safety down a cliff by hand … one at a time.

And he did it all without ever firing a shot.

The story of Pvt. Doss — a 7th Day Adventist and conscientious objector during World War II who despite his religious convictions enlisted to serve in the war as a medic — is portrayed in vivid and emotional detail in the upcoming film “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield as Doss, Vince Vaughn as Sgt. Howell, Teresa Palmer as Doss’s eventual wife Dorothy and Sam Worthington as Capt. Glover, “Hacksaw Ridge” is as much a love story as it is a tale of gritty resolve and strength of character.

WATM sat down with some of the stars behind the film to find out what their motivations were for tackling a character as complex as Doss and to get a sense why those who’ve “been there and done that” should get to theaters and see the epic film themselves.

Director Mel Gibson and actor Andrew Garfield explain the difficulty of portraying a soldier as complex as Pvt. Desmond Doss:

Actors Vince Vaughn and Luke Bracey talk about how vets inspired them for their roles:

Actor Teresa Palmer gives an intimate look at the experience of her family during World War II:

“Hacksaw Ridge” hits theaters nationwide Nov. 4.