Army And Navy Surplus – Retail Clothing Part Seven

I was a child when there was Army and Navy Surplus that meant something. My father bought a bomber engine at an RCAF surplus auction in Airdrie, Alberta and ran it in our basement. He also bought lightweight drafting equipment from the RCAF that used to be on the navigator’s flight table. I aways wanted him to bring home the Fraser-Nash gun turret that was on sale as well, but my mother was a spoil-sport…

I mention this as a preface to gently prime you for a fact of life; there is no army and navy surplus any more. The bomber engine was left over from WW2. The army and navy now need all the stuff they have and are frequently engaged in horse trading amongst themselves to gather enough of it together in one place to operate on. They don’t have any spares to sell.

What is sold in the surplus stores is cheap imports from Pakistan, India, and worse places. If it can be made of bad cotton or brass – if it can be made crudely but with a certain brutal flair – if it can be sold as an aid to camping, or fishing, or genocide – the stores will get a sea container of it in and sell it. Whichever category it fits into and whatever it is, you can find one common thread – it will be overpriced.

Don’t avoid the surplus stores because of this. Go into them, by all means. Education is always expensive and shopping there is no exception. Set yourself a price limit that is painful but not horrifying, and go spend to that number. Who knows – you may need the fake ammunition box or the Pakistani exploding alcohol stove – or the Confederate flag or the 70 cm folding knife – for some legitimate purpose.

Just don’t ask for Fraser-Nash turrets…

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The Extremely Wild Blue Yonder

Never having been in any army, navy, or air force means I am disqualified from writing about military service. But I am allowed to read about it and to think about it…

I’m also allowed to look at maps and clocks and do mathematics. Recently I considered the twin bombing campaigns of the Second World War in Europe that were conducted against the Axis by the RAF and USAAF. By and large they came from much the same areas in the UK and went to much the same areas in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. What they did there is different but that is the subject of another post.

First let’s consider the ranges: from the UK to the deepest part of Germany – about 800 miles. Anything less is a shorter distance. If you get shot down you only have to fly the one way.

Night Time: RAF, Bomber Command. Lancasters, Halifaxes, Stirlings, etc. Speed of laden aircraft: about 250 miles per hour. They needed about 3 and a half hours to get there and somewhat less to get back. If they were going to drop their bombs in the darkest part of the night – about 2:00 AM – they needed to start from the UK at about 10:00 or 10:30 in the evening. Which meant the crew would have started to get ready to go at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Day Time: USAAF, 8th Air Force. B-17’s and B-24’s. Speed much the same. Bomb load sacrificed for defensive capability. Again the same time there and back but with more flak and fighters. What time did they want to be over the target? Well, enough light to let the Nordens see the ground, but hopefully while the locals were still reeling from the night attack. So, perhaps early in the morning?

That would have meant a takeoff at 3:30 AM with the difficulty of setting off in darkness and forming up before dawn. If you are going to fly and fight in a box formation, trying to get into it in the dark would have been murder.

Or did it matter all that much – did they just accept that they were going to get pasted all the way in and all the way out and just opt for an easier takeoff when there was light? Off the ground at 5:00 and over Vienna at 8:30 then back either by noon or never again?

I wish I had more information about the timing of the actual bombing raids. There must have been some occasions when the planners had to do traffic cop duty to keep the returning stream of bombers separate from the outgoing one.

One Of My Better Ones

I have ideas, you see. Well, it’s only to be expected – I’m retired and my mind is not required to worry about other people’s money or health – so I’m free to fret about my own.

But I don’t.

I have long realised that mostly it all proceeds on an even keel if you do not go to excess in anything. I’ve even cut down on my moderation. It’s meant a loss in income for the gin joints and the gals of easy reputation, but on the other hand I can spend the money on toy cars and model airplanes. The lady at the hobby shop is starting to wink at me as she operates the till…

Now back to the idea. I have a collection of model airplanes on model airfields. I know a number of flashy females who dance, pose, and generally glam it up all round the shop. So I have decided to combine the two by making the ladies into WWII ” nose art ” on the airplanes. There’ll be an exhibition in June at the belly dancing convention and then I’ll post the pictures on the toy and model photography pages.

Already I have 8 images completed and I haven’t even started shooting the fresh material – good glamour is ageless and older pictures are just as good as new ones when you make them into posters.

Of course, there are sacrifices. I am now compelled to go to the hobby shop and buy more model kits so as to have enough noses for all the girls. I shall have to spend my waking hours chained to the model bench or the studio shooting for the exhibition. I will only take time out to eat, drink, sleep, and read racy novels.

After all, I have a duty to culture, eh?

What If Nothing Happened All Day?

How could I be happy if nothing happened? Where was the joy in that?

a. I was not being bombed or shelled by anyone. No-one hates me enough to bother with the ordnance, let alone the targeting.

b. Nothing broke. Neither the legs nor the washing machine nor the car nor the airbrush.

c. No-one stole anything from me or my house.

d. No-one sent me a bill.

e. The Facebook pests that perpetually swing their little axes in my face had other things on their minds.

f. I was not on the Freeway for morning nor afternoon rush hour. So none of the sirens were for me.

g. The cat did not put a dead rat on the doorstep.

h. I did not lose another pair of panties to the elastic monster.

This was a day full of the noticeable absence of stressful excitement. It left space for food and drink, hobby work, and writing. I would like to achieve an entire week of this boredom some day.

Ve Germans Haff A Sense Of Humour

As you will haff noticed, my name iss a Teutonic one. It iss from the Tyrol where my Grossvater has come. He wass in Amerika from many years and I am here in Australia until now.  So I haff a connection to the Old Country…in fact to several old countries.

I wish to address the libel that iss promoted that Germans haff no sense of humour. This has been the standard of jokes throughout the Western world since 1914. The Eastern world iss too serious for this sort of thing – they regard the German nations as carousels of comedy.

The libel iss false! Ve haff as strong a sense of humour as anyone. The fact that we do not haff a native Mr. Bean does not bar us from appreciating him, though ve would not vish that he was a German or Austrian citizen. After Brexit this will be less of a danger.

Ve haff many jokes – you must look up back copies of ” Simplicimus ” to see this and there are amusing cartoons of the German Imperial general staff there as well. Wise people do not laugh at them in public, however.

Vee also participate in ze jokes that ask how many people are required to screw in light bulbs. But we know the secret that they are not screw-based bulbs. They are bayonet -based bulbs, and if zere iss one thing that a German iss good vith it iss a bayonet. Zat iss why ve only need one person.

And ve are as ready as anyone to laugh at ze Amerikan President. It iss fashionable and makes us look better by comparison. Ze fact that we were not fast enough to erect a border wall around Deutschland in the last couple of years to prevent the sort of thing that he complains of iss neither here not there – but ve are not laughing quite so hard about zis.

If you vant people who haff no sense of humour, try the Swedes.

 

 

 

The Last Of The More Hickums

I see a comic artist has seen fit to resurrect the legend of the smallpox blanket as a comic piece in his daily strip. The strip veers occasionally to a biased and politically correct scolding thing, rather than a chuckle, but did make me wonder  if there was any truth in the matter.

It turns out that there was  – and it was the British military who thought to try the trick on the American Indians back in the 18th century at Fort Pitt. There is some controversy as to whether it actually worked.

In the 19th century there are stories about the trick being tried again, but again, there is little evidence that it was the actual cause of devastation. Devastation did occur, but the transmission means seems to have been accidental rather than deliberate. Not that it was for want of trying, but it just didn’t work out that way. Go google up the wiki articles and then follow the reportage trail and see for yourselves. If you are biased, you won’t see very far, but do look anyway.

Then I tried to trace the question of whether syphilis had been dropped on the Old World by sailors returning from the New World in the late 15th century. There’s been a scientific fight – probably fueled by nationalism and racialism – about that for some time, but the thought that it was a Western hemispherical disease that spread east seems to be gaining the upper hand.

And then there is the thing about HIV virus coming out of Africa, but not through the agency of any shadowy CIA conspiracy – by the simple process of sex with the natives.

So perhaps the score cards are even. But still…handle them with gloves…

Yehudi

And I don’t actually mean the violin player…

You can wiki up the term ” Yehudi ” and get a fine ethnographic and biblical explanation of tribes of Israel and the evolution of the word into modern terms – both good and bad. Enjoy yourself.

I find it interesting that the term was applied to a  series of experiments in WWII that revolved around anti-submarine warfare. I was darned if I could think of a connection between this Hebrew word and the eventual wartime use. Then came the internet.

The Yehudi lights were lamps of variable brightness on the leading edges of aircraft wings, around the engines, and around the noses that were meant to make the dark aircraft silhouette blend in with a lighter sky. Our heading image is a Bristol Bolingbroke so equipped – though the black tyres spoil the illusion somewhat. The experiments found that they could reduce the distance at which an attacking Allied bomber was seen from the ocean’s surface from 5 miles to about 2.5 miles – a considerable advantage. Little use was made of them, however, past the experiments.

But it gets stranger. Yehudi Menuhin, the famous violin player, was a guest on many radio shows of the time. Apparently the comedy writers for the Bob Hope Show had a running gag where he was meant to arrive but didn’t – leading Jerry Colonna to put out the catchphrases ” Who’s Yehudi? “, and ” Where’s Yehudi? “. It became slang for a mysterious person who was never seen.

Perfect for RCAF and USAAF bombers over the grey Atlantic, sneaking up on U-boats.

But where does it leave us with the modern practice of putting rows of LED lights at the front of German prestige cars that light up in daytime. Are they sneaking up on us? Have they learned a valuable lesson?

Note For Today: It is officially Australian Federation Day today – the day in January 1901 when the disparate states and territories of Australia were drawn together as a nation. Dame Nellie Melba sang ” I’m A Little Teapot “, the Governor-General smashed a bottle of Tooheys on the prow of the HMAS CRIKEY as she slid down the ways at Dubbo, and the NBN was announced. A fine historic day for a new nation.