Saturday Snippet: The Old Navy

Rear Admiral Daniel P. Mannix III served in the US Navy from the 1890’s until the 1920’s.  He recorded an amusing, absorbing account of his service in his private journals, letters, etc.  Later, his son, well-known author Daniel P. Mannix IV, took those documents and used them to write “The Old Navy”, a record of his father’s life and naval career. The paper edition is long out of print, although used copies are available.  Fortunately, there’s also an inexpensive Kindle edition, which makes the e-book version available to a new generation of readers. Here’s a selection of excerpts from Admiral Mannix’s early years

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French Navy fighters and their pilots at play

The YouTube channel Chasse Embarquée hosts numerous videos of French Navy Rafale fighters aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.  Here’s the latest in their series, released just a few days ago.  It contains some of the best air-to-air photography I’ve seen for a long time. Looks like French fighter pilots enjoy themselves just as much as any other nation’s. Peter

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B-2’s and U-2’s at play in England

The USAF has sent three B-2 stealth bombers to England for exercises, along with a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.  Courtesy of The Aviationist and photographer Daffyd Phillips, here’s a high-resolution video clip of the aircraft taking off and landing over there.  It includes some of the closest, clearest shots of the B-2 I’ve yet seen. Note the U-2 “chase car” that follows the aircraft during takeoff and landing.  It’s a vital part of the support crew.  Details at the link. Peter

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Fascinating background information on the Bin Laden attack in 2011

The “flight lead” of the helicopters on the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, recently retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas Englen, has provided more information about that mission, with encouragement from his superior officers. It was just 30 seconds into the mission to kill Osama bin Laden in May 2011 when special operations Chinook pilot Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas Englen heard the call of “Black Hawk down” come over his radio. Black Hawk 2′s pilot alerted Englen — the pilot in charge of the air operation that night — that Black Hawk-1 had just crashed inside the 9/11 mastermind’s

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Shangani Patrol – the movie

Last Saturday I put up a snippet from Frederick Russell Burnham‘s book, “Scouting on Two Continents“. The excerpt concerned the famous Shangani Patrol, that was wiped out in a legendary “last stand” fight against the Matabele tribe in 1893.  In colonial Rhodesia the incident was regarded in the same light as the last stand at the Alamo in Texas, or that of the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae. In 1970 a feature film was made on location about the incident, called simply “Shangani Patrol“.  I remember it as being a bit too unquestioningly patriotic for my taste (given that at the time, white

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Another interesting Russian aviation video

Yesterday we had a look at the “blended wing body” Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber.  This morning, here’s a Russian Mikoyan MiG-31 interceptor training with an Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft.  They’re flying over the Kamchatka Peninsula, which has some spectacular scenery. Sadly for Russia, her Air Force is reliant on far too many old designs.  The Il-38 first flew in the 1960’s, and the MiG-31 in the 1970’s.  Their systems have been modernized since then, but their basic design is well and truly outdated.  Russia currently can’t afford to replace them, either.  (That’s no grounds to sneer, of course:  the USAF has the same problem.  In 2015,

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A close-up look at a blended wing body

Here’s some interesting footage of a Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber refueling in flight from an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker.  Note the so-called “blended wing body” of the Tu-160, where the wings blend seamlessly into the fuselage in an unbroken lifting surface. Although the design bureau would almost certainly deny it, the physical resemblance between the Tu-160 and the US Rockwell B-1 bomber is striking, almost certainly because the Soviet Union copied the early B-1 blended wing body design.  Here’s a B-1 bomber refueling in mid-air, to give you a similar perspective;  note the similarities in design. Peter

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A very wet takeoff

Here’s footage taken a few days ago of a US Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy transport taking off from Prestwick in the UK during a heavy rainstorm.  It kicks up a lot of spray. I wonder what landing would be like, with that much water on the runway?  I suppose the Galaxy is heavy enough that it wouldn’t aquaplane, but a lighter aircraft might be a different story. Peter

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Great air-to-air footage of F-16’s at play

Courtesy of The Aviationist, we find this video clip of two F-16 fighters in the skies over Arizona. The video below was filmed by Swedish aerial specialist, Peter Degerfeldt at Blue Sky Aerial, from a Sabreliner 65, a “High Veocity Aerial Platform” capable to film up to 45,000 feet and Mach 0.82 with a GSS Cinema Pro. The GSS is a camera system for high velocity that can shoot stabilized footage in 5 axis up to 400 knots. The wireless system allows remote control of any camera and lens suspended in the Gyro and transmission of the HD picture back to the

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“Plankton powered rubber duck bombs”???

The new Armed Forces minister in Britain is raising eyebrows (and not before time, IMHO!) with his views on the future of warfare. Special Forces of the future should be planting malware in enemy servers rather than fighting wars with daggers, the new armed forces minister said yesterday. James Heappey, a former Army officer, said … the military needed ‘to think the incredible’ to win wars now and referred to the Alexa smart speaker as a model for innovation, adding: ‘Alexa, fight my war.’ . . . Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think tank, he said: ‘We have

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