Book Review: Boldness be my friend

Book Review: Boldness be my friend

Short Stirling mega-bomber navigator has high adventures, repeatedly escaping from POW camps and evading throughout occupied Europe.

Basically this book is a cure for extreme boredom. The type of book you cant put down.

At the start the Stirling gets shot down and crash lands somewhere in continental Europe. From there the high adventure begins. Its based on a true story. It is basically an autobiography. The protagonist and author Richard B Pape was awarded a medal or two and later became upset that the Beatles were awarded the same medal.

The closest comparison I can make of this book to something well known today, would be its like the early 2000’s PC game: “Escape from Castle Wolfenstein” and the movie “The Great Escape” and maybe “Hogans Heros”.

Its a gritty book. As the forward text states This is not a ‘nice’ book.

I give it 10/10.

Actually I read the 1950’s original version, but it was completely re-written in the 1980’s and the 80’s version actually would be better, because Pape was able to include a great deal more detail in the later text. Since I read the original I’ll have to go back and read the newer one.

Also if you want to know more about Pape, read his obituary fron the 1990’s and also this excellent blog article:

Obituary

Pape Article

Leyland P76 V8 powered Bf109

Leyland P76 V8 powered Bf109

This is a great aircraft. The designer has incorporated a 1970’s Australian V8 powered muscle car engine into a three quarter scale Bf109 airframe.

The motor is audible in the clip  and oh what a sweet sound!

You could do the same thing today with a more modern V8 – such as the 5.5 or 6 Litre motors in some Holden Commodores. Also if you wanted an inline engine I believe Ford may still produce those.

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Leyland P.76

The Leyland P.76 was a good design here is its Wikipedia page

It had an aluminium engine so would have been pretty light weight as far as big engines go.

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The P.76’s aluminium V8 motor

This one obviously is souped up for drag racing but you get the idea it is a powerful car.

Also one is not limited to one warbird type – could go a Spitfire instead for example or a P40! And the more modern V8 motors are often equipped with superchargers or turbos and benefit from all the latest software and elextronics that will do many great things like adjusting mixture with atmospheric pressure.

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A “Crate Engine” Holden HSV VF GTS LSA Auto 430KW 6.2 L Supercharged V8 Engine Motor

Here is a longer vid. I give this V8 powered warbird 10/10.

B36 Peacemaker

B36 Peacemaker

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The B36 had ten engines ‘4 burning 6 turning’

Its a big bomber. Some prop engines and some jets. A huge plane. Kind of evolutionarily fit between the B29 and the B52. Progress was so rapid back then that the B36 didnt stay in service for very long. I dont think it was bad, more that things were moving so fast, in a similar way that Windows XP is not bad, but now the current model is Win 10.

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B29 left and B36 right. The wing root on the 36 was 7 feet thick!

Hear the engines rumble in the fly by in the first 20 seconds of the vid below.

The 1950’s was an evocative era – especially in Americana. Theres been a recent resurgence of 50’s nostalga, seen in such things as the video game “Fallout”. You can listen to fallout playlists on Youtube and all they are is a collection of 1950’s hits albeit with an atomic-age theme.

There are some really interesting vids on Youtube about the B36. The feature film “Strategic Air Command” in technicolor is a excellent resource for appreciating the big plane.

In the movie, Jimmy Stewart the star is not just an actor, he was also an actual bomber pilot in WW2, Korea and so on. I believe he flew the B24 and the B36 and other big planes.

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Jimmy Stewart flew B24s in WW2

The plane is huge. The wingspan is endless and viewed in flight it has a very flat appearance. Looks like the tail gun gets a rearward facing radar.

I appreciate the aesthetic power of the whole imagery. The crew uniform is dark blue with nylon bomber jackets and baseball caps and stainless steel zips. This contrasts with the just-gone era of WW2 where flight uniforms were mostly non-synthetic – up until the later war stages at least.

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Convair XB-36

Note the single main wheel, compared to (Later?) models which had a cluster of 4 smaller wheels

You can see interior design elements straight out of the B29, such as the crawl tunnel in the bombay that connects the pressurised forward and aft crew cabins.

The B29 itself was very advanced and had for example a analogue computer controlled turret gun aiming system that somehow managed to point multiple gun turrets at one target. And you see the same turret operator bubble windows on the B36, whereby a crew member could operate all the guns from any window.

A civillian derivative of the B29 was the Stratocruiser which has a enlarged upper fuselage segment that contained the pressurised passenger cabin.  So the B29 was the basis for several great designs that followed.

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Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

To me the B36 looks like a cross between a B29 and a B52. Normally it would take 15 – 20 years to design and build something like the B36, but I dont think it took more than 4 years, given that WW2 had just ended and aircraft production industries were in full swing and you essentially have an incremental evolutionary step in the B36, where existing and new tech is combined to kind of build an enlarged B29 but with jet engines on the wing tips and a radical (for the time) swept leading edge wing, as well as truly gargantuan size.

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A B36 background with an early B52 in foreground

 

Old Machine Guns –

Old Machine Guns –

 

Fascinating vid here, its a cross-over/colab between Ian of Forgotten Weapons and two Youtubers I hadn’t heard of who are all three collaborating to shoot test and review the 100 yard accuracy of some selection of circa WW1 machine guns. The amazing thing is that the guns are definitely not all equal and it becomes clear that one famous one…Is MUCH better than the rest and for reasons that they explain towards the end.

 

 

I recognise most if not all these guns from Battlefield V, but hardly ever seen them outside video games.

Wild West

Wild West

Soon I will be acquiring Red Dead Redemption II. It is a Wild West cowboy game now on PC. I intend to play through all the game and man its going to be fun.

A big part of the genre is the Colt “6-shooter” pistol, invented by Samuel Colt.

Teenage Samuel Colt loved guns and owned a ‘horse pistol’. He firstly invented a kind of sea-mine detonated by tarred electric cable, which he wanted to sell to the navy,

In 1873 the M1873 Army Single Action “peacemaker” debuted. It was a ginormous .45 caliber 6-shooter pistol. It had some structural issues, – the frame stress fractured after a time. It was innovative because it utilised metal cartridges.

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Before the peacemaker, Colt made some older-tech 6-shooters, such as the .36 caliber 1851 Colt Navy. It had paper cartridges, and required percussion caps be loaded onto nipples at the back of each chamber in the cylinder. It also had a built in ram rod to pack the paper cartridge and bullet firmly in place.

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The Texas Rangers used the Colt Army in some cavalry battles with the Mexican Army, the weapon proved very effective in combat, because 6 shots as fast as you can pull the trigger – even from a pistol instead of a rifle, was better than basically single shot muzzle loaders of the time.

Also rifle length 6-shooters were produced.

To illustrate why Colt’s pistols are so well known today, consider the prevailing technology of the day – it was called muzzle loading percussion lock and to compare it to a Colt 6-shooter is like comparing snail mail letters and stamps, to email.

Also Colt used production lines, to produce 6 shooters, just as Henry Ford used production line factories to mass produce cheap quality cars and trucks.

Colt’s business rivals were often more like frontier blacksmiths with anvil tong and billow furnace, and a lot of specialised expert craftsman knowledge, to gunsmith a percussion lock smooth bore pistol, that although possibly good quality, could fire 1 round every 35 seconds under optimal usage. In reality of battle, muzzle loading guns were known to be found panic-loaded with several powder charges wads and balls in the barrel. Muzzle loading being a fairly challenging process, made problematic on the battlefield.

Winchester, Henry and many other brands are also synonymous with the Wild West days. Hickok45 reviewed all the RDRII guns, video below.

Dances With Wolves – Buffalo hunting scene

Kevin Costner – what a guy and what a movie. Also the EPIC sound track movie score by John Barry. In my opinion Dances with Wolves is one of the best movies in all cinema history.

Two Socks the Wolf

Here is the movie “Shane” its not too bad.

Pale Rider (1985)

Pale Rider is not a ‘nice’ movie, but it has some great aspects of the old West to it. For example, the depiction of mining. Mining is in my opinion part and parcel with the Wild West. I think the Wild West was in actual fact not so much about Ronin Samurai like roaming masterless gunslingers, but more about rapid development of primary industries such as mining and farming.

Not many people know that the Wild West is not unique to the USA, Im sure it was much the same situation in Canada and I know for a fact there are many aspects to Australia that meet the Wild West criteria.

The Wild West…In Australia

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In Europe metal detectorists can hunt around and find all manner of relics and treasures and war debris from multi-era human civilisation and conflict, but in Australia the detectable artifacts are basically from the old Colonial days – which is basically the Wild West.

At one point the bushland was inhabited by many thousands of gold miners hunting for their fortunes – and many actually found their fortune in gold. Today these regions are littered with old mines and ‘diggings’ and there are tangible signs of those times, for example old bottles – often with dateable text on them and lots of broken china plates and cups etc.

Here are some things in the Victorian Goldfields region called the Golden Triangle, you can see the date on the pottery is 1897. The china looks to be a piece of a cup or saucer.

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The World’s largest gold nugget the Welcome Stranger was found in 1869 in this region – it weighed around 70kg – approximately 150 pounds.

Here are the miners who found the gargantuan nugget:

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The best known/most infamous gunslinger of the Australian Wild West days was Ned Kelly. The unique thing here is that Ned Kelly made and wore a suit of armor into his gun battles.

The Story of the Kelly Gang Crime Drama 1906

Here is the ‘World’s first full-length narrative feature film’

They Shall Not Grow Old – Peter Jackson – WW1 colour documentary

They Shall Not Grow Old – Peter Jackson – WW1 colour documentary

WW1 footage colourised. Also WW1 British soldiers narrating the whole documentary, the audio of this narration being from BBC film-reel, from the 1960’s that was in part used in a previous BBC production. So you get a lot of eye witness commentary and you get War Museum archival footage and then you get Peter Jackson, the director of Lord of the Rings I believe, who brought in some current day technology to speed-adjust and colourise the footage. Also very interestingly they made a good effort towards determining what the people in the footage are saying, by bringing in expert lip-readers, to uncover commentary from the old silent films. The movie is on Youtube, you can watch it now for $2.99 normally $7.

Some standout things: The veteran recounting his run-in at age 17 with the white feather ladies circa 1914, the condition of the teeth, so many toothless smiles, I suspect from a brawling way of life more than poor hygiene – I could be wrong I dunno. A lot of missing teeth. The rarity of the footage – This is not news-reel footage for mass consumption, we see the rarer harder to source footage of confronting scenes. You see a shell drop on a group of pack-horses and the aftermath of that and there are two wound scenes, one showing a soldier at a first aid station getting some disinfectant swabbed on a bullet hole that has gone cleanly through his left upper arm, and the other is a soldier getting a shell dressing applied to his upper left arm which has a huge chunk missing from it. The narrators also provide descriptions of the physical carnage.

The tanks are shown – very amazing footage. Descriptions of big battles: How they start, develop and finish. Artillery barrages, machine gun traps, trenches, uniforms in colour, the walking wounded, troops walking back from the finished battle, some wounded, all filthy, some shaking, others laughing and joking.

Some fascinating footage of the light trains they had back then, both steam and petrol powered.

Also the lead up to the start of the war, where recruiting and attitudes are very optimistic and then the part where it gets scary for me, is when they are a few weeks into basic training, endless bayonet equipped parade drills, physical training, marching, machine gun strip and assemble lessons, and the pace of the routine and the strict discipline and the professionalism is starting to make the narrator wonder what he has gotten himself into and where he is headed next. They were engulfed in an unstoppable, inescapable tsunami-like flow towards the trench carnage and I believe the narrator had intuited this.

Another impression I got is just how hard work it was. It seems the British Army operated in several phases of routine, basically 1 being on the front line for a 3 day period, two, being at the rear of the direct front and three being on leave.

At the front they had to take their own 3 day food in with them and at the rear it was a ‘rest’ from the carnage, but it meant rolling shells off a train and onto a horse cart or digging big trenches or carrying barbed wire or any other heavy physical task.

The footage is often amazingly illustrative of those times, for example, they show a big gun positioned near a slate shingle roofed farm building and when the gun fires many of the slate shingles fall off the roof.

This is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. I don’t think there is much better than this. Its just done so well I rate it 10/10.