Apollo 13 Command Module Recovery

Apollo 13

Source: NASA/Apollo 13 Owners’ Workshop Manual

The Command Module was retrieved at 8:36 a.m. and brought aboard on the main side elevator of the Iwo Jima. The apex cover and one parachute were retrieved by a small boat. At re-entry what remained of Odyssey had weighed 12,361 lb. (5,607 kg), but on the water, without parachutes and some of its heat shield which had charred away as designed, it weighed 11,133 lb. (5,050 kg) - all that was left of a combined mass of 110,252 lb. (50,010.3 kg) at lift-off, including the boost protective cover and the launch escape system, jettisoned during ascent.


M107 .50-Caliber Special Application Scoped Rifle (SASR)


Source: USMC PHOTO, Lance Cpl. Stephen C. Benson/MARSOC: U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command

A Marine special operator fires his .50-caliber M107 special application scoped rifle (SASR) at targets in the valley below him during training at the Rocket Mountain fi ring range. With the M107, a well-trained marksman can effectively engage targets more than a mile away.

The M107 is a semiautomatic, air-cooled, box magazine fed rifle chambered for the .50-caliber, M2 Browning machine gun cartridge. Barrett Firearms Manufacturing of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, manufactures the weapon. This rifle operates by means of the short recoil principle. It features a twenty-nine-inch, free-floating fluted barrel, with a 1:15 right-hand twist.


P-51D Mustang Assembly

P51D Mustangs

Source – Earl Blount/ The American Aircraft Factory in World War II

P-51D Mustangs undergo final assembly outdoors at the North American Aviation factory in Inglewood. These men are working on the fighter’s six wing-mounted Browning .50-caliber machine guns. The camouflage tarp above afforded some protection from the bright California sun. 


Edson’s Ridge, The Power of Silence, and the letter “L”

 Marines at Edson's Ridge

Source: USMC Photo/Shadow Warriors

The morning after the bloody Japanese attacks on Edson’s Ridge. A line of Marines can barely be seen in the smoke- and fog-shrouded air behind the killing ground.

In Shadow Warriors, military historian and retired U.S. Marine Dick Camp shares just a glimpse of night fighting in September of 1942, on Tulagi, the seat of the British Solomon Islands Government, a long, narrow island surrounded by coral beds.

All along the line, Edson’s men laid out grenades and stacked ammunition close at hand so it would be easy to reach in the dark. Machine gunners carefully sited their guns in an attempt to get overlapping bands of fire. Communicators strung wire linking the command posts.

The password for the night contained words with the letter “L”—“Lily’s thistle,” “Philippines,” and “Lola’s thigh.” Chambers noted, “Any one of them was supposed to keep you from getting shot by your own men because the Japs couldn’t pronounce the letter ‘L.’” Night fell. The exhausted Raiders peered anxiously into darkness, straining to hear the man-sound of a Japanese infiltrator. Warrant Officer Albert E. “Bud” Fisher, Easy Company’s 2nd Machine-Gun Platoon, said, “We were all pretty nervous as darkness fell. The Nips came out of the caves making all sorts of weird noises.” Chambers explained, “The Japs tried every trick on us that we had been told they would, yet we really never imagined they would. They shouted, whistled, and sniped at us all night long… . [A]t first there was considerable promiscuous night firing, the Japs trying to locate our units by [shooting] at us at random. But our men learned to hold their fire and not give away their position unless attacked in hand-to-hand assault.”


Vought SB2U Vindicator

Vought SB2U Vindicator

Photo Source: World War II From Above

A Vought SB2U Vindicator from the US aircraft carrier Ranger flies an antisubmarine patrol over a convoy heading for Cape Town. The problem was that until relatively late in the war, only a few aircraft with the range to offer long-distance convoy protection were available to fly in the Battle of the Atlantic. The “bomber barons” resolutely refused to detach any of their aircraft to help with the job. Grand Admiral Doenitz’s U-boat wolf packs were quick to take advantage of the opportunity they were offered. In 1942 alone, they sunk 1,661 merchant vessels.


WWI Airfields and Cooper Bombs

WWI French airfield

Facilities were rudimentary at airfields in France, as seen at this unknown base.

Source – Library of Congress/ The First Eagles

Cooper bombs

British fighters carried 25-pound Cooper bombs for low-level bombing missions.

Source – Norman Franks/ The First Eagles

The explosives dropped by 32 Squadron were 20-pound Cooper bombs (which weighed 25 pounds when the explosive charge and fuse were fitted), carried on a rack under one of the S.E.5s’ wings.

Each aircraft had four bombs in total and pilots released them in pairs, starting with the two on the outside. Upon release the “nose spinner was freed to turn which then rotated a plate in the nose, which eventually exposed the detonator to a firing mechanism, which would be activated when the bomb struck a solid object.”


The Pentagon and the CIA

The weather outside is cooling down (or warming up, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Either way, why not curl up with a good book? Or an awesome book? Or TWO awesome Kindle books that are ON SALE from now until 10/5/14.


The Building: A Biography of the Pentagon

Starting with the construction of the Pentagon during World War II, Alexander unfolds the modern history of the American defense establishment, the personalities and the politics, along with the evolving role that the Pentagon has played in our national security. From its initial design to its restoration after the attack of 9/11, his book tells the story of the Pentagon as it is inextricably linked to the story of American power and strength.

"…This is that rare work of nonfiction that has the power of a Hemingway or Mailer. It’s one of many reasons why it is indeed a biography, rather than merely a history, of the Pentagon…."
—The Sun


A Spy’s Journey: A CIA Memoir

In 1967 Floyd Paseman joined the Central Intelligence Agency following successful service as an army officer in Germany. He was first stationed in the Far East, where he became fluent in Chinese language and culture, and then in Germany, at what was largely considered the agency’s toughest Cold War field posting. Over the years he rose from field spy to division chief and ultimately the top ranks in the Operations Directorate of the CIA. 

Paseman details the behind-the-scenes intelligence gathering during the major events of eight presidential administrations from Lyndon B. Johnson through George W. Bush.

“A Spy’s Journey is a pleasure to read, the most personable memoir by a senior spy since David Atlee Phillips’ 1977 classic The Night Watch. If you wonder what it’s like to breakfast on moose lips and vodka in Mongolia, this is your book.”
—New York Times Book Review


The Treaty of Versailles, The Spartans, and the “Great Spiritual German Soldierly Tradition”

In Signal, the Nazi propaganda magazine, a common theme was the victimization of Germany by pretty much everyone else after WWI. This particular spread, written by Major Dr. Wilhelm Ehmer, ties together the Treaty of Versailles, the Spartans and the “soldierly virtues” of the German people. It’s definitely worth a read, if you want a peek into the justifications behind WWII, at least as said by those in charge at the time. You can read the entire thing in Hitler’s War: World War II as Portrayed by Signal, the International Nazi Propaganda Magazine.

Here’s just a snippet:

"The ‘victors’ of the World War clad themselves in a heavy coat of armour and dug themselves in behind lines of fortifications built with the greatest cunning and bristling with weapons, whilst the tiny German Army consisting of but 100,000 men became the guardian of the great spiritual German soldierly tradition and at the same time developed this tradition by drawing the necessary conclusions from the experiences of the World War. The difficulties of the situation did not cause it to throw in its hand or to despair, on the contrary, they aroused all the soldierly virtues, strength of character, determination, inventiveness and courage, all of which are foundation stones on which the German soldierly tradition has been built from its very beginning."

Signal Magazine


Mission to Berlin, February 3, 1945

Mission to Berlin

Visibly weary and afflicted with the “thousand-yard stare” familiar to combat veterans, Maj. James A. Smyrl (left ) has just returned from the February 3, 1945, Berlin mission. He is talking to Col. James W. Wilson, 92nd Bombardment Group commander.

Photo source - James W. Good/ Mission to Berlin

Major James A. Smyrl, who was scheduled for promotion to lieutenant colonel within a couple of weeks, was another battle commander that day. Smyrl led the 92nd Bombardment Group on the day’s air assault. He was a tall, handsome, active figure who sometimes seemed to display the “thousand-yard stare”—the expression often mistaken for a blank look that signifies prolonged exposure to the trauma of battle. Smyrl was “one of the greatest men I’ve ever known,” said 1st Lt. James W. “Bill” Good, who was his navigator for the Berlin mission. Yet we know almost nothing about Smyrl today. One crewmember who accompanied him into the high cold said that Smyrl was never observed wearing a hat.


Stealth Fighter: A Year in the Life of an F-117 Pilot

Today, we’ve got a video from the EAA Museum archives. In the second half of the interview, author Brad O’Conner talks about his time in the F-117 and stories in Stealth Fighter: A Year in the Life of an F-117 Pilot. Check it out!

Stealth Fighter