Friday, April 21, 2017

Happy Belated Birthday to me.

It was that time of year again, so I treated myself.
Yep--another Browning Hi-Power...because you can never have too many of them.

But this one is a bit more interesting. It's a No. 2 Mk1 * made by the John Inglis Company of Toronto, Canada.

Serial number suggests October of 1944 manufacture, so there's a chance that maybe it saw a bit of the war. After that...who knows where it went or what it did. This ex-Canadian service pistol is mine now though, courtesy of another ex-Canadian, Aaron.

Back story to these guns is that when Belgium, home to Fabrique Nationale, fell to the Nazis in 1940, many FN employees fled to Britain, and they brought with them the designs for this then-new sidearm. This did not, however, stop the Germans from using the FN plant to make this pistol for their own troops, and they did, issuing some 300,000 of them as the Pistole 640. But the Allied Command turned the job of making these over to the John Inglis Company, a maker of boilers and heavy machinery, along with a contract for Bren guns. Production was held up for a little bit because FN was demanding royalties despite a World War in progress, but eventually it all got ironed out and Inglis knocked out a bunch of these. The first production run was the No. 1 and it had tangent sights and a slotted grip for a shoulder stock. Those were meant for China but many were diverted to Allied troops. If you find one like that today, look for a serial number that begins with the letters CH--that's a Chinese contract gun.

Mine is a simplified No. 2, meaning a design change. The slot for the stock was omitted and the rear tangent sight was replaced with a simple fixed rear. This was the main service pistol produced.

Over 100 countries used the Hi-Power at one time or another due to it's great design and reliability. The Canadians still use the Hi-Power today--Inglis guns, naturally, even though the last one was made in 1945--and there are photos of Canadian troopers in Afghanistan carrying these right now.

I'm thinking that this one will be a nice companion for my Long Branch Enfield #4 MK1...and maybe my FAL, too. Only things missing on this one are the lanyard ring and the Canadian military instruction manual. But I found a copy of the latter and as a service, I'm reprinting it here.

How to use the Hi-Power, eh?

1. Center sights on enemy. Aim center mass.
2. Depress trigger.
3. Profusely and sincerely apologize to enemy.
4. Go shoot another one.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

USS Drum

You know that you're in a bad neighborhood when you wake up in the morning and you find your submarine up on blocks.
Battleship Park in Mobile, Alabama doesn't just have a battleship...They have this wonderful Gato-class fleet boat: USS Drum (SS-228).

Last time I saw Drum, she was still in the water. But two hurricanes and seventy+ years since her last war patrol have done a number on her, so now she's up on these concrete supports.

If nothing else, she's safer here...and visitors get a great look at her props and rudder as well as her stern tubes.

Up on deck, she's looking good. Got a 3"/50cal. deck gun and a 40mm Bofors Anti-aircraft gun forward.
There's also a 20mm Oerlikon gun on the after deck of the conning tower.

Going down through the old torpedo loading hatch brings you into the forward torpedo room, with six of her ten tubes await fresh fish. Back in the day, these subs sailed with 24 torpedoes, sixteen up front here and eight in the aft torpedo room where she had four tubes. Several of the crew got to bunk in these compartments too, sleeping above and below the torpedoes.

Leaving this compartment via this hatch, you find yourself in the forward section known as "Officer Country".
Here's the Officers' Wardroom.
Officers slept two and three to a small compartment except for the Captain, who got his own small compartment. Since they were all glassed over and the corridor itself was cramped, I couldn't get an angle to take a good shot of any. I did find this memorial to Howard Gilmore though.
Commander of Growler, he was machine-gunned on the bridge and wounded during a surface action in which Growler had rammed a Japanese vessel and destroyed 18 feet of her own bow. In the heat of battle he gave the order to dive, knowing he couldn't get off the bridge. The sub dove away beneath him and was saved, but Commander Gilmore was lost. He sacrificed himself for his boat and crew. Now there was a MAN. And yes, he was awarded the Medal of Honor...posthumously.

Another hatch...and the control room beyond.

Control room.
Helm (or "steering wheel" to civilians, landlubbers and brown shoe types.)
Diving planes. These control the pitch of the bow and stern.
Alarm switches. (Hey Old AF Sarge...remember these?)
"Christmas Tree" board, with two lights for every hatch and vent. Green meant closed and red meant open. Gotta have a whole green board to dive, meaning a lot of people in different areas have to work fast to close a lot of things off when the dive horn sounds.
Helm again, and plotting table.

And because I'm retarded or something, I got no pictures of the crew's mess. But click on submarines here to see pics of the insides of several other fleet boats that are laid out pretty much the same.

Cold storage beneath the crew mess.

Next was a bunk space for much of the enlisted crew--just stacks of racks--but most of them were out for some display stuff. Again, no pics for some reason. But then it was tie for the two engine rooms, and I like to think I made up for it.
Four Fairbanks-Morse engines, originally designed for railroad locomotives. These two are in the forward engine room.
And this hatch leads to the after engine room.

Each crew member got one locker like this for all of their stuff--spare uniforms, personal effects--everything.
Through another hatch, and you're in the electrical compartment.
It's back here that power is shunted from the four big diesels up front to either the battery chargers that put power into the 252 batteries below the decking or to the two electric motors that actually turn the propellers (or a combination of both). That's right--those four huge diesels just generate electricity for the electric motors that actually turn the screws. On the surface, the electric motors take their power fro the diesels. Underwater, they get it from the batteries. But either way, the subs motors are electrically driven. And here's the panel where it's routed.
By the way--this area and the engine rooms were so loud that most crew members who served in them suffered permanent hearing loss to some extent.

Next we come back to the aft torpedo room. These subs could and did fire shots from both ends.
And how is this for tight rack space?
USS Drum. A great memorial to the heroes of the "Silent Service".

Go to Battleship Park and see her if you're in the area. And let me know--I may just join you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What a freaking workout!

I just gave two German Shepherd dogs a bath. Belle hates water, and she pulled her patented "boneless dog" routine by dropping to the floor and going limp as soon as she figured out what was happening. But I finally managed to get her into the shower and washed, and even managed to get her outside without her shaking the water off all over the inside of my house.

Murphy likes to swim, but he's no fan of showers either. He doesn't passively resist--he fights. But I succeeded in my efforts to drag him into the shower and he got his, too.

Now both are outside having their post-bath cookies, and I just finished cleaning the bathroom and showering myself, since there was more wet dog hair on the floor, walls and me than on the dogs by the end of it.

Screw this. I need a beer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The other Sunday parade

Hey, it's New Orleans. So what else would you have on Easter Sunday? That's right...the famous French Quarter Gay parade.

I did not take the dogs to this one. I was having drinks at a bar I like when it came by. So I memorialized it for all of you, because that's what I do.

Yep. I am DEFINITELY not in West Virginia any more...Proud Hillbilly, I wish you had been here for this.