Friday, November 17, 2017

For Those In Peril On The Sea

S-42 ARA San Juan
She's a T-1700-Class submarine built by Thyssen Nordseewerke. As of late Friday she had not been heard from since Wednesday, the 15th of November. She was proceeding from Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, en route to the base at Mar del Plata. Last known position was approximately 270 miles off the Golfo San Jorge (the red diamond on the map.)

NASA just happened to have a P-3 Orion down in the area, she's involved in the search. Elements of the United States Navy are also en route to assist in the search.

But it's a long ways away...

There are at least 44 submariners on board San Juan. Right now, as I write this and until they are safe, my prayers are with them, and their families.

God grant the search crews the eyes of eagles and the strength needed to fulfill their mission.

If you're a praying sort, now would be a good time to do so.

Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small.
It cannot be that any happy fate
Will me befall
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I curb and bit them on the long
And saltry trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?

Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.

- Winfred Ernest Garrison
Lord, have mercy...

'Tis the Season...

I don't often post things asking for donations to some cause. When I do, it's for a good cause. This one more than makes the grade. Go here to donate.

Let our sailors know that we thank them, remember them, and support them. Especially at this time of year.

It's tough being away from home and family during the holidays. DAMHIK.



The Friday Flyby - November 2017

Dornier Do 31 VTOL

So yes, it's been a while since I've done one of these. Used to do them every Friday, until the copyright Gestapo stopped by. Now I behave and try to only use pure, "free to use" photos for which I always will try to include a source. For the photos which dwell in the public domain it's not a strict legal necessity (though Advokaat can correct me if I'm wrong, hey, it happens) but I put a link to where I got the picture anyways. Usually. More often that not. I think you get my drift now and I can stop beating the deceased equine.

Whilst perusing the Web of World Wideness for something which to entertain you, gentle reader, I did a search on "odd aircraft." Wow, there are a lot of them, but the one above really caught my eye. It doesn't look like it should fly, but it does.

Yes, yes, I know the video is auf Deutsch, but you should be used to my wandering about linguistically by now. Pretty cool aircraft, neh? Cool and weird. I like that.

Now from my understanding this bird was designed for and intended to be used to support this -

EWR VJ 101 (Source)
Kinda looks like an F-104 with engines on the wing tips, not in the fuselage. Yes, those jet engines on the wing tips could be tilted to provide a VTOL experience. (Vertical Take Off and Landing if'n you were wondering.) And yes, there is a video...

Weird and kinda cool as well. But wait, there's more!

The Mixmaster

Rear view of the XB-42A in May 1947
XB-42A with podded 19XB-2 jets
Tail number 43-50225 (top picture) was destroyed in a crash at Bolling in D.C., the three crew members survived. Barely, from the sounds of it!
The record-breaking XB-42 prototype had been destroyed in a crash at Bolling Field. The second of two prototypes of the Douglas XB-42, 43-50225, on a routine flight out of Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., suffered in short order, a landing gear extension problem, failure of the port engine, and as coolant temperatures rose, failure of the starboard engine. Maj. Hayduck bailed out at 1,200 feet, Lt. Col. Haney at 800 feet, and pilot Lt. Col. (later Major General) Fred J. Ascani, after crawling aft to jettison the pusher propellers, at 400 feet – all three survived. The aircraft crashed at Oxen Hill, Maryland. Classified jettisonable propeller technology caused a problem for authorities in explaining what witnesses on the ground thought was the aircraft exploding. Possible fuel management problems were speculated, but this hypothesis was never proven by subsequent investigation. The remaining prototype was used in flight test programs, including fulfilling a December 1943 proposal by Douglas to fit uprated engines and underwing Westinghouse 19XB-2A axial-flow turbojets of 1,600 lbf thrust each, making it the XB-42A. (Source)
Tail number 43-50224 (bottom picture) is in storage at the Air Force Museum, awaiting restoration. I'll be wanting to see that one of these days!

Here's one named after the governor of California (yes, the current loon) -

McDonnell XP-67 "Bat" or "Moonbat"
That one flew in 1944, very advanced but a lot of teething problems. The sole prototype was destroyed in a crash. The program cost was over four million bucks. Big money back then. Now? Well, that might buy you a toilet seat and a hammer.

Here was a bad idea looking for a sponsor -

The Goodyear AO-3 "Inflatoplane"
Yes, an aircraft you inflate, then fly. Scares me to think about it.
The Goodyear Inflatoplane was an inflatable experimental aircraft made by the Goodyear Aircraft Company, a subsidiary of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, well known for the Goodyear blimp. Although it seemed an improbable project, the finished aircraft proved to be capable of meeting its design objectives, although its sponsor, the United States Army, ultimately cancelled the project when it could not find a "valid military use for an aircraft that could be brought down by a well-aimed bow and arrow". (Source)
Even the Army gets it right sometimes...

This one had to wait a few years, look familiar?

YB-35 Flying Wing showing its quartet of pusher contra-rotating propellers.
The option was later discarded due severe vibration in flight and later changed to traditional single rotating propeller.
This view might give you a clue as to this bird's design descendant, sort of.

B-2 Bomber
See the resemblance now?

Miles M.39B Libellula
This odd duck rather looks like something I drew when I was in the 2nd grade (when I should have been paying attention to the teacher), though this one could actually fly. What were they thinking?
The M.39B Libellula (from Libellulidae, a taxonomic family of dragonflies) was a Second World War tandem wing experimental aircraft built by Miles Aircraft, designed to give the pilot the best view possible for landing on aircraft carriers. A scale version of the M.39 design was proposed by Miles to meet Air Ministry specification B.11/41 for a fast bomber. The M.39B was used by Miles to generate data from which the M.39 design was improved, but the M.39 project was cancelled and the M.39B broken up. (Source)
Wonder what Lex would have thought of that design?

Weird and wonderful aircraft, there are many more, but I need to save some of them for a future post. (Need to get started on that book dontcha know?)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

What Are Ya Gonna Do?

Yup, big Sopranos fan here. That line of Tony's, "What are ya gonna do?" has become my mantra as of late. The world is insane, there are far too many idiots running loose, and there seems no end to it. I used to write about that sort of thing from time to time, the occasional rant as it were, but life is too short to worry and fret about the stuff you can't control.

So yeah, "What are ya gonna do?"

So, the other day my natural curiosity about certain things drove me to look up the word "idiot." I use it a lot, especially in the car, so I decided to see what its origin was.
Idiot is a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ("person lacking professional skill", "a private citizen", "individual"), from ἴδιος, idios ("private", "one's own"). In ancient Greece, people who were not capable of engaging in the public sphere were considered "idiotes", in contrast to the public citizen, or "polites" (πολίτες). In Latin the word idiota ("ordinary person, layman") preceded the Late Latin meaning "uneducated or ignorant person". Its modern meaning and form dates back to Middle English around the year 1300, from the Old French idiote ("uneducated or ignorant person").


An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs. Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education. In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary). "Idiot" originally referred to a "layman, person lacking professional skill". Declining to take part in public life, such as democratic government of the polis (city state), was considered dishonorable. "Idiots" were seen as having bad judgment in public and political matters. Over time, the term "idiot" shifted away from its original connotation of selfishness and came to refer to individuals with overall bad judgment–individuals who are "stupid". (Source)
Quite honestly, I think the Greeks were on to something there.

About writing a book, or three...

Putting together a blog post takes two to three hours a day, on average. (Yes, even the crappy ones take that long.) I really enjoy this blogging thing, it's therapeutic, fun (for the most part), and every now and then I learn something. (Look into a topic and see all the stuff one didn't know.) While I truly enjoy having Juvat cover Mondays, with Tuna the occasional Tuesday (or a Monday double post), if I don't blog for a couple of days I get antsy, I need to blog, I think I'm addicted to it. (Cheaper and healthier than smoking, go ahead, ask me how I know.)

So I need to do this. Which takes time away from actually writing something that no one will see the next day. Truly, I enjoy the feedback I get from you, the readers, in the form of comments and page hits. I've been doing this long enough to recognize when the spambots have come to visit, page hits go through the roof. Normally it runs between 500 and 700 a day.

So yesterday, I indulged myself in a little fictional exercise, I didn't really have a good topic to write about and the dream mentioned in that post provided a starting point. I really enjoyed doing that. So yeah, somehow I need to make time to write that book. Even if it's just a paragraph a day, I need to start it.

After all, I don't want to make Valory wait until I retire and Wayward Sailor is itching to proofread/edit any offering I might produce.

So yes, I'm working on it, I'm not going to wait until I retire (December 2019 is the current plan), and I really want to gain fame and fortune.

Or at least be able to say, "Hey, I wrote a book."

What are ya gonna do?

Write a book is the correct answer to that last question.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Weird Dreams

"Oberfeldwebel! How long do we have to sit here with the engine off? I'm freezing my arse off!"


"Ja, Oberfeldwebel?"

"Slap Schmidt for me would you?"

Schmidt was a Grünschnabel, a rookie, he had only been with the crew of Panzer 413 for two months, straight out of the Panzerschule. Kid was only 18 years old, a volunteer! The rest of the crew had been together since '42. They'd lost their old commander when he went off to become an officer shortly after Arnhem. Everyone else had changed positions and poor Schmidt got stuck in the front as the radioman/bow gunner.

Now they were sitting in the dark, operating the engine periodically to keep the oil warm, waiting for the attack to jump off. Ten days before Christmas.

Willi was nearly nodding off when he heard the sharp rap on the hull. Stirring he popped his hatch open to see the face of his platoon leader, Hauptfeldwebel Müller.

"Crank her up Willi, we're about to move. Just waiting for the Landsers to clear the road ahead."

"Zu befehl Kurt! Fire up the engine Horst, lets get Schmidt warmed up for battle!"

Panzer 413 jerked forward onto the road. Tracks throwing up mud, Horst maneuvered into position behind Panzer 424. While he desperately wanted to sit below his hatch, he couldn't see anything due to the mud being thrown up by 424. The wet mist was clinging to everything, including him, and he was starting to shiver.

Willi was standing up in his commander's cupola, wishing he was the gunner once more, out of the wind. But 413 was now "his" panzer, though the battalion commander, Major Lange, might disagree. It had been a long time since they'd rolled into the attack, most of the battalion was excited by the prospect.

Except for Schmidt of course, he was cold, he was damp, and he missed his home in the Harz Mountains so much. Last Christmas he had still been in school, home for Christmas with his parents and his sister. His oldest brother had been killed in action in 1941, fighting with Rommel in North Africa. His next oldest brother was still in hospital, recovering from the traumatic amputation of both legs below the knee when his Panther had been destroyed by an American Jabo (fighter bomber) near Falaise in France.

He had wanted to join up and fight the enemies of the Reich, but his father wanted him to finish school first. As Vati was a Party official, Schmidt had stayed home while nearly everyone else his age had already been swept up by conscription.

Tank school had been fun. But now he was at the front, the enemies of the Reich were much closer now. Fantasy had become reality. Reality was cold, drizzle, fog, bad food, and the distinct possibility of being killed or maimed in the days ahead.

As the tank rolled towards Luxembourg, all Schmidt could think was how badly he wanted to go home.

"Hey Sarge, you hear that?"

"Hear what Jackson? All I hear is the rain and you yapping."

"Tanks, I hear tanks."


Then Staff Sergeant Jones heard it too. The squealing of tank tracks and the low rumble of what had to be a tank engine. Multiple tank engines. He was staring down the road from where they had set up in a hasty position, a couple of mines, a rickety wooden barrier, and the barest amount of wire they'd grabbed from a farmer's barn in the village to their rear.

The sound was getting louder now, though it was still dark and the fog was thick, Jones figured that whatever was making that noise would soon roll into view.

Then the world erupted in fire and death.

Precisely on time, German artillery began slamming into American positions all along the Ardennes front. 105 mm artillery rounds slammed into treetops, detonating and sending hot steel and wood splinters into the men clustered below. No one had had time to put up any overhead cover over their foxholes. Fortunately the trees were so thick that very few were wounded, but everyone had their heads down, waiting for the barrage to roll over them.

"Jackson, come on we gotta move!" Jones yelled as he grabbed Jackson's shoulder.

"Come on man!"

That's when Staff Sergeant Jones realized that Jackson wasn't going anywhere, ever. A wood splinter had been driven into the back of his neck, Jackson was a goner.


Jones stayed low as he turned and ran down the track towards his company CP. But not low enough.

Gefreiter Pizzeck was the bow gunner in Panzer 424. As his tank rolled out into the open he saw movement just down the road. Swinging his machine gun in that direction, he squeezed out a short burst. Whatever had been there wasn't there anymore.

Staff Sergeant Jones, from Milwaukee, had been thrown into a patch of low brush by the burst of machine gun fire. He was trembling from the shock of it, he'd never been shot at before by someone actually trying to kill him. Oddly enough, he felt no pain, just sleepy, very sleepy.

Panzer 424 halted just past the rudimentary roadblock, after crushing it underneath 424's tracks. The tank commander, Leutnant Rolf Eberhardt, looked back towards 413 to see the second Tiger in the column right where he should be. To his right, in a shallow hole, was a dead American, just up the road, partially in the brush was another. Probably the man that Pizzeck shot at. Wasn't much left of him below the waist, Pizzeck's MG 34 had torn the soldier nearly in half at this range. He idly wondered where the man's legs were when a loud bang behind him made him turn.

Panzer 413's left track had rolled right over one of the mines Jones and Jackson had planted in the road. One of the links was shattered and the rest of the track had rolled right off the drive sprocket. For now, 413 was stuck, in the middle of the road, blocking the rest of the battalion from moving forward.

Eberhardt jumped down from his tank, right onto the second mine which Jones and Jackson had planted in the road. Though his weight shouldn't have been enough to set the mine off, a faulty fuse and the extra impetus from Eberhardt jumping down off his tank was enough to trigger the mine.

There was less of Eberhardt left than there was of Jones.

"Scheisse! Dismount, get that spare section of track off the turret, grab the tools, lets fix that track or no one is going to be advancing!"

As Willi's crew began to fix the busted track, Major Lange came up.

"What's the holdup Hoffmeister?"

"Mines Herr Major. We hit one, Leutnant Eberhardt stepped on another. We should have this track patched up in 30 minutes."

"Shit. I'm sending some engineers up to check for more mines. Watch your step!"

"Jawohl Herr Major."

Strange dreams Monday night. Woke up at 0230, after dreaming that I had had to fix the track of a Tiger tank, stranded in a barn, with the engine compartment buried under a pile of what appeared to be mulch. (Too many years assisting in the annual ritual of the mulch might explain that part of the dream.)

Had a kid from work with me, young guy just out of college. No, they hadn't covered fixing a busted tank track at his school. So I had him clean the mulch off the back half of the tank. I started replacing the busted link in the track. How I knew how to do that is beyond me, maybe I saw it in a movie. Maybe I read it somewhere.

But I woke up before the track was repaired.

The mulch had been cleared away though.

Damn. What the heck did I eat Monday night?

And yes, the story above will be continued in December. Too early right now for Battle of the Bulge stories.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trying To Outdo Himself

Sunrise over the San Diego Embarcadero (Jim Grant)

Recently our creator has been very creative out here in San Diego.  It's always beautiful in my hometown, great weather, amazing scenery, etc., but he's been stepping up his game over the past month or so, giving us some incredibly radiant sunrises and sunsets.  I'm admittedly biased as all get out, but I think you'll like them nevertheless.  It's like God got a new set of paints and brushes and is trying them out.   I'm sure it's because of a mixture of smog, humidity, and the temperature, but I'm not complaining.  Scroll through if you'd like, but the best way is to click the first picture and use the right arrow.

Sunrise over suburbia* (KUSI)

Another from the Embarcadero (Jim Grant)

La Jolla Sunset
Took this one from a hot air balloon!

Lifeguard Tower in Repose 
Some of these I've taken, some lifted from FaciaBook, and a few pulled from KUSI TV's page where people are encouraged to submit for their broadcasts.  I've recently discovered a page called San Diego Scenic Photography and that photographer, Jim Grant is some sort of sorcerer with his camera.  We chatted a little and we both agreed that His Majesty deserves all the credit.
Jim Grant

Tom Hamm's Lighthouse

Bada$$ Morning
This one has nothing directly to do with San Diego, although the Roosevelt is stationed there.  This one is from somewhere in the South Pacific and I liked it enough to share it here.  Borrowed it either from the Navy's Instagram page, or Rough Rider One's Faciabook page.

Moonrise Approach  (Jim Grant)

Another by Jim Grant.  
This one's not a sunset or sunrise, but still a cool shot.  There's a page on Pinterest called "Airplane Window" which has a bunch like this, many framed by the rounded frame of an airliner passenger window. The teenangster's Alma-mater is in the bottom of this shot.

Skyline At Sunrise (Jim Grant)
Jim Grant

Golden Sunrise over San Diego Bay (Jim Grant)
This one is my favorite of the bunch.  It even shows my base in the lower left.  That yacht has been parked there for over a month.  It's a beautiful vessel, owned by a self-made man, Dennis Washington.  Read about it here if you'd like.

That's enough for today.  Hope your day is just as beautiful.

*Might be a sunset vice sunrise.  Not sure where in San Diego this is.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Old Friends and Friends I've never met

Well, it's a cool, rainy, kinda gloomy day down in Texas.  You'd think winter was approaching or something.  I'm sitting here pondering, while enjoying the smell of the Carnitas slow roasting in the oven. 

It's hunting season and Mrs Juvat bagged herself a buck last Thursday evening.  

Course, she did it with the front end of her car.  She's fine. Thank you, Lord!  

The car?  Still in the decision process with USAA.  Spoke with the body shop, he hadn't finished inspecting it yet, but it was already north of four grand and that's before I mentioned the radiator leaking coolant and the engine overtemp.  

I think she's a goner. 12 years and 250K behind her... Been a good ride.

Friday, however was a great day.  Earlier in the week I'd gotten a text from a friend I've never met.  He was going to be in town and wondered if I'd like to visit the museum with him.

Having not had a day off in quite a while, I told my boss I was going to be unavailable Friday.  

He said OK.  I guess I've been getting grumpy lately.

So. Friday morning arrives and after a bit of miscommunication about which entrance to the museum we were going to use, I finally get to meet OldNFO face to face.

Well, turns out that he'd coordinated with somebody who'd worked at the Museum and had finagled a VIP tour.  (Given that he's known as OLD NFO, I think he might have mentioned that he's actually taught Admiral Nimitz about submarines.....Or something)

Anyhow, I walked in the door and there he is talking to somebody I'd met when I first moved to town, been friends with he and his wife since.

I think he's pretty loaded, so let's just call him Rich.

Rich is retired Army.  Field Artillery if you must know. 

Cue my second most favorite Army video after "ARRRRMMMMEEE Training Sir!"

I had known that Rich had taken a job at the Museum, but hadn't really known what he did there.  Turns out that he'd been the guy responsible for all the supporting information in the displays.  The Factoids and Pictures, games and such that make the Museum so much more than a store room for old stuff.  

As Sarge will say, when he finally makes it down here, "brings it to life".  For example, in one of the galleries, there's a wall sized picture of an LST.  Folks are disembarking, and there's a group of the ship's company manning the forward AAA battery.  (Kamikazes, doncha know)

Turns out that Rich's Father-in-Law had served on that ship, so he'd printed out a copy of the photo, had it framed and matted and gave it to him for Christmas.  The Father-in-Law is looking at the picture hands it back to Rich and tells him that he's the officer in the picture by the AAA.  That was his Battle Station.  

Cool details like that.

He did mention that visitors to the museum were categorized into two groups, Streakers and Strollers.  Tuna and I when we visited were definitely in the first category.  This visit was the latter.  
Tuna, I told you there was a seaplane there.  We should have turned left at Tarawa, not right.
So, I'm touring this incredible museum with the guy who did the nuts and bolts research on the exhibits, and someone who's got a lot of experience doing a lot of things in the Pacific.  While I give OldNFO a boatload of good natured grief, the guy knows a lot about lot of things. 

Lots of things I didn't know, that I do now.  

Four hours passed in about 15 minutes, and it was time for lunch, so we head for Hilda's, a little Mexican restaurant in town.  A nice relaxing meal (I had the enchilada plate, chicken, thanks for asking.  Excellent as always!) with the inevitable war story exchanges.

Then it's back to the Museum. (One of the nice things about the Nimitz is your ticket is good for two days and it's $10 with a military ID.  Free if you're a WWII vet.  So out and back in is authorized, even expected.) 

This time, however, we're going to the "Pacific Combat Zone", a separate facility about a block away from the Main Building.  This is a living history exhibit and conducts several reenactments a year, with explosions, landing craft, an occasional airplane flyover and finally a flamethrower.  One of these reenactments was scheduled for this past weekend, but not on Friday.

Rich, however, took us on a behind the scenes tour of the facility, which included a look at the maintenance bay.   While there, we rounded out or entourage of military veterans when we made acquaintence with a young Marine.  He'd served on Okinawa recently, then gotten out and was working fixing, when we met him, a Sheridan tank.  He also was a reenactor, so was going to be suiting up for the festivities the next day.  Interesting guy, and fun to talk with.

There are two "hardware" displays in that section of the Museum. 

A TBM.  What a Beast! Thing is Huge!  (or is it "Yuge!" now?)  While ogling this display, we met up with a DD crewman from the Korean War and chatted with him for a while.  

Left this display and went to the other exhibit.

An actual PT boat, and one of very few (three I think) surviving.  Again, something I didn't know, this one had fought in the Mediterranean.  Didn't know PT's had done that, PT-109 and "McHale's Navy" being the source of most all my PT Boat knowledge, prior.  This boat had 3 German ships to her credit.  

So, it's now about 4PM as we exit the Museum.  We're saying our goodbyes as OldNFO has a ways to travel before he retires for the evening.  He leaves us with a bit of good news.  He said he's going to Alpine to do some research for another episode in the Grey Man series.  

Man! I hope that comes to be.

One final observation.  We spoke with quite a few people while in the Museum.  Most of whom were veterans.  There was an organized group (they had nametags) from a Vietnam supply ship association.  There was a young guy with his dad, both vets, he had been a USAF medic, Dad was with the Group.  The Marine we met at the Pacific Combat Zone, another Army guy (Infantry, I'd bet my bottom dollar.)  Every one of them I felt comfortable around, felt I could trust them, could let my guard down a bit. Just Friends I hadn't met yet. That doesn't happen with most people I meet.  Positively refreshing.

So, it was a great weekend, hope your's was also.