30 September 2006
The first fifty production examples of the Tiger II mounted the turret designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. This was arguably the most powerful tank in the Second World War.
The Tiger II is armed with a KwK43 L/71 88mm gun and two 7.92mm MG34 machine guns.
The first deliveries of the Tiger II were in February 1944. Only 489 were produced. With an operational range of 170km, the Tiger II was limited in terms of strategic mobility.
Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006
29 September 2006
Movie. The impressions that came to mind: Overwrought, overhyped, overrated...
It is that kind of a movie with run-of-the-mill themes that the public* loves: anti-establishment ideals , guerilla tactics, violence, revenge, the underdog...
It's been done to death previously. In films, in books, in comic books and more. Nothing new under the sun really. Nothing revolutionary except a paper-thin plot of explosions and sophomoric dialogue disguised as wit.
However, really, what's new under the sun? How
clichéd can this get? The comic may have been an alarmist dagger thrust in the face of the Thatcher administration of the eighties but in today's context and Homeland Security? Really now.
The comic by the highly regarded Alan Moore and David Lloyd is a concoction from the eighties, a period of Thatcherite excesses as leftists would have it. With its rather lacklustre drawings, a step above Beano but lacking the charm, the whole work is a drag to say the least.
The many subplots, each detailing the obsessions and perversions of the elites and common people actually detract from the main plot which is paper thin but they do well to disguise it.
Guy Fawkes? The Gunpowder Plot? Yes, remember him. However, what does he really stand for? Roman Catholic conspirators attempting to blow up the king and the parliament? Religious fanatics using violence to achieve their ends? Is that what is celebrated? In this age of Islamists wearing belt-bombs?
Lastly, the irony regarding the whole 'V for Vendetta' phenomena is the huge corporate machinery that is sustaining this effort, a packaged anti-establishment message geared towards exciting the masses with vanilla revolutionary thoughts, perhaps, to sate the 'bloodlust' of the downtrotten. The 'underground' for sale. Doh...
If one wants something really anti-establishment and revolutionary, there are many many tomes with inflammatory** and strong messages that are truly something, not this inoffensive day-glo piece of work.
V For Vendetta: It's the safe, beautifully packaged*** 'underground' for the middle-class, the secretly rebellious, with repressed anger at bosses, teachers and what have you. And C, is for Cliché.
*Don't forget the pseudo-intellectual. 'We know...no one else but us knows.'
** At least to the authorities.
*** In all senses of the word. Physically as well as literary and conceptually.
01. Angelicus featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian
02. Extollere featuring Katharine Blake and Mediaeval Baebes
03. The Way You Want It To Be featuring Zoe Johnston
04. Indoctrination featuring Kiran Ahluwalia
05. Self-Saboteur featuring Kristy Thirsk
06. Tectonic Shift
07. Lumenis featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian
08. Fleeting Instant featuring. Kirsty Hawkshaw
09. Sister Sojourn Ghost featuring Katharine Blake and Mediaeval Baebes
10. Lost and Found featuring Jael
After 'Artificial Soldier', the guys from Front Line Assembly is back with a new one. This is due to be released internationally.
28 September 2006
The Char B1 Bis was a powerful French tank that participated in the 1940 campaign in France. Despite its heavy armour and heavy armament of a 75mm hull-mounted gun and a 47mm turret-mounted gun, the Char B1 Bis did not play a major role due to its dispersal to the many different units. The early German found the Char B1 Bis to be a difficult opponent when encountered in battle.
26 September 2006
My friend, Kelvin, is an authority on Japanese toys of various types. The armoured suit toy is a speciality of his. Here are some images of his, taken from his collection.
These images are from some toys* based on Heinlein's classic 'Starship Troopers'. Note the flamer for close-in defence and the jumpjets.
"A friend on the toy bbs showed the last shot to Joe Haldeman and he said (jokingly) that he'd sue the Japanese makers for copyright infringement, LOL. "
Haldeman is, of course, known for his SF novel on futuristic infantry warfare 'The Forever War'.
All in all, these toys are extremely detailed. Impressive.
*Unauthorised according to Kelvin.
25 September 2006
Australia is replacing their old Leopard I MBTs with 59 re-conditioned M1A1 MBTs. It will not be a one to one replacement. Australia previously employed the Centurion during the Vietnam War. These were later replaced by German Leopard Is.
Quoting from an article in the Australian government website:
"The Government will equip the Australian Army with a fleet of 59 United States M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management main battle tanks to replace the ageing Leopards, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.
The projected cost is about A$550 million."
I wonder if Australia has the strategic assets to deploy these elsewhere. One of the reasons given in the strategic rationale:
"This means that, even when we do not expect to meet major opposition (such as in peacekeeping or evacuation operations), our soldiers can encounter, without warning, highly lethal weapons of a standard that simply did not exist a few years ago."
Points to note from the Fact Sheet issued:
"The M1A1 AIM vehicle that Australia will procure will not be equipped with either Depleted Uranium armour or munitions. The armour on offer is of an advanced composite design, which is in accord with our capability requirements.
The new tank will fire an advanced kinetic energy Tungsten penetrator against vehicles and a multi-purpose round for infantry support."
Politically safe choices. No depleted uranium (DU) penetrators or armour.
There are already criticisms of this purchase. I wonder if there were previous criticisms when it came to the purchase of the Centurion and Leopard I MBTs.
This purchase reminded me of the Mahathir regime that bought quite a number of the Polish PT-91 MBTs. Meanwhile, Poland has converted to German Leopard 2A4s MBTs. Heh. Interesting development.
Image source: Border Morning Mail, AAAP
I just received a telephone call while I was writing something in the office. This old lady with a shrill, crackling voice called...
Old Lady: Do you have the Nordic Walking Stick?
Me: No, we don't carry them.
Old Lady: Do you know where in Singapore I can find them?
Me: I'm sorry but I don't.
Old Lady: All the shops in London and Amsterdam carry them.
Me: I would suppose so.
Old Lady: You don't know where I can find them?
Me: I would suppose you can find them in a shop that sells walking sticks.
Old Lady: Where is that?
Me: I don't know.
Old Lady: Everybody has them.
Me: Hmm.. I have never seen one. Not in Singapore.
Old Lady: Oh. Thank you.
She hangs up. Odd.
While flipping through Volume 16 of the Journal of Armoured Assault and Heliborne Warfare, I was surprised to see images of German infantry wielding a new, unfamiliar, belt-fed automatic weapon alongside the more familiar G36 assault rifles and possible MG-36 with drum magazines. It was noted that the weapon is a MG4. I did a check on the Heckler and Koch commercial site and found more information. Wikipedia has also got an updated entry.
The German infantry were participating in the 'European Challenge', a joint combined exercise, supposedly one of the largest in recent years involving vehicles such as the Leopard 2A6s, Panzerhaubitze 2000s, Marder 1A3s, Wiesel I and IIs, TPz 1A4s, Dingos, Fenneks, Duro 3s and G-Wagens.
From the Heckler and Koch website:
"These are some of the only photographs emerging in reference to the new HK MG43 belt fed 5.56mm x 45 machine gun. Heckler & Koch unveiled the new machine gun at the Defense Systems and Equipment International Convention in London, September 11-14, 2001."
It would appear that the Bundeswehr has adopted the weapon as the MG4.
Some features from Wikipedia:
- Gas-operated weapon with rotating bolt head, firing from the open bolt position
- Upon cessation of fire, the bolt is open
- Cartridge feed via belt (Cartridges are loaded in 5.56 mm M27 disintegrating belt links)
- Ammunition: Cal. 5.56 mm x 45 NATO Standard
- Mechanical sight, Aperture or open notch sight. Sight graduations from 100 to 1000 m (in 10 graduations), folding front sight
- Picatinny rail MIL STD 1913 for support of optical sights
Image Source: HKPro webpage
Earlier this month, the first Littoral Combat Ship was finally launched. The LCS is a multi-mission configurable vessel that is geared towards littoral missions. The armament and sensor fit will, of course, vary. The LCS is capable of over 40 knots and has space for landing a helicopter. The cost per vessel was said to be in the region of over 200 million USD. Considering the price of a current and more capable destroyer at 1 billion USD, the limited and specialised LCS appears reasonable.
Quoting from Global Security:
"The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a small specialised variant of the DD(X) family of future surface combat ships. LCS complements, but does not replace, the capabilities of DD(X) and CG(X). The Littoral Combat Ship will take advantage of the newest generation hull form and will have modularity and scalability built in. It focuses on mission capabilities, affordability, and life cycle costs."
Quoting from StrategyPage:
"The nation’s first Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom (LCS 1) – the inaugural ship in an entirely new class of U.S. Navy surface warships – makes a spectacular side launch during her christening at the Marinette Marine shipyard."
Strategy Page article
Global Security article
Federation of American Scientists article
The FAS site has an article on congressional issues. A lot of it is regarding procurement and policy information generally.
24 September 2006
This was originally going to be a stylised piece, clean and symmetrical. It was lying around for the longest time. Finally, this afternoon, as I sat at NYDC at the Heeren, I looked at it and decided to change it. Added texture, light, depth and more. 21cm x 15cm. Faber-Castell, Rotring pigment ink. 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5.
23 September 2006
1. Radio Edit
2. Thunderstorm Mix
3. After The Storm Mix
This new Enigma single was released earlier in March this year in Germany. It was originally meant to be an opening theme for a boxer ascending the ring. I have not heard it but my expectations are not high. I will wait for the album.
One never knows. I did like the previous album though.
22 September 2006
21cm x 15cm. Faber-Castell Pigment Ink pens. 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5. This is drawn on the spur of the moment last week. The scene is made up on the spot. This sketch utilises yet another style from the previous two or three relying on clear outlines without much embellishment. The detail is there.
I deliberately ignore light for this one to capture the spatial sense of the tree trunks in the forest.
1. Forbidden City
2. Getting Away With It
3. Get The Message
4. Feel Every Beat
7. Second Nature
8. All That I Need
9. Prodigal Son
10. For You
11. Imitation Of Life
12. Out Of My League
13. Like No Other
14. Twisted Tenderness
15. Late At Night
Woo! A nice collected compilation of Electronic singles as well as a few fantastic B-sides 'Imitation of Life' with Karl Bartos, formerly of Kraftwerk. This one is NOT to be missed if one hasn't already got all the Electronic albums and singles. Fantastic tracks such as 'Disappointed', 'Imitation of Life' were not found on any album previously. Due to be released next week.
'Inside my imagination
There is an imitation of life
You captured me for an instant
Still in your camera, emptied of light'
'Imitaton of Life' Electronic
I'm amused by the sight of gleaming M41 Walker Bulldog tanks rolling in the streets of Bangkok and stationed outside some government compounds. These old tanks fielded by the soldiers involved in the coup first entered service in the early fifties after the Korean War and have appeared to be quite well-preserved. Are they preserved for coups and possibly ceremonial purposes? The M113 APCs present in the rowdy streets are also have new paint jobs and spotless tracks!
Someone in a forum sarcastically said,
'Thais referr to the M41 as the "Golden Voter".'
While another person has amusingly commented on the M41 tank,
'I thought it would be called "Ballot Box Stuffer"
Ready, aim, vote!'
Generals, tinpot dictators, wanna-be generalissmos take note! These are perfect tanks for coups. Light weight and not likely to tear up roads with rubber tracks (rather than metal tracks) and upset the people! And they look menacing enough to scare off the odd protester or dissatisfied civilian government official.
The original M41 even comes with a petrol engine. In other words, the army general can have his troops fill up at the petrol station on the way to the palace or istana. And most M41 tanks are now surplus, thus, the cost is low. Very economical political devices!
Image Source: CNN
I didn't find the original covers of the American editions attractive and these were created by known space illustrator Don Dixon. I like the cover of the British edition which is in the tradition of the Peter Elson, Chris Foss and Chris Moore paintings. Of course, the Dixon ones adhere to the description of the spaceships described and is supposedly more accurate. I like the cover of the Japanese edition too.
In a recent email exchange with Kew Soon, I was reminded of 'Antares Dawn' and Antares
Passage' due to my perception of the realism in the space warfare and propulsion systems described, and also based on what I know and have read. I had read the two volumes almost two decades ago when I was in university and they had left an impression. A few nights ago, I took them out of my shelves and re-read them. It was a pleasure.
Michael McCollum, the author of both volumes, was an aerospace engineer and also a nuclear engineer. He had consulted and as such is an expert in those fields.
'Antares Dawn' and 'Antares Passage' are traditional space opera with described highly plausible starships (in terms of design), propulsion systems, space combat. There is no Warp 12, photon torpedos, lovable furry crossbow-wielding aliens in them. The logistics trail, the need for a supply fleet, and more made for very interesting problems. In addition, there is a full-fledged interplanetery political system (including various factions within one)...
These are novels of first contact in a certain form. And there are ample descriptions of a supernova, neutron star, foldpoints, detection systems, etc. The ship design, the spin, the gravity, etc. You don't need first year or second year university physics to enjoy this but you will appreciate it more if you do know a little physics.
I would recommend the two volumes to Dennis, Kelvin, Kew Soon and Wei Yi. For Siu Hean, I would point you to the descriptions of the star travel and the need to maintain pickets for communications. For the Huge Sumo Wrestler of Nippon, I would not recommend them to you because you are seasoned reader and of your acquaintance with the subversion of Banks. (though Wei Yi and Kelvin have read almost everything Banks, I would still recommend them). For Chris, despite your familiarity with SF, speculative fantasy, literature along the lines of Burroughs, Ellis, Vance (I'm impressed!), and more, and you being quite an advanced reader, I think you may enjoy this. It has elements which I think will interest you. I don't think I would recommend this to Mister Paradox and Mister Mreh.
The two volumes are straight-forward, highly enjoyable works. Don't expect sophisticated literary devices, exciting prose and more though. A third volume has just been released after twenty years.
"When the supergiant star Antares exploded in 2512, the human colony on Alta found their pathway to the stars gone, isolating them from the rest of human space for more than a century. Then one day, a powerful warship materialized in the system without warning. Alarmed by the sudden appearance of such behemoth, the commanders of the Altan Space Navy dispatched one of their most powerful ships to investigate. What ASNS Discovery finds when they finally catch the intruder is a battered hulk manned by a dead crew.
That is disturbing news for the Altans. For the dead battleship could easily have defeated the whole of the Altan navy. If it could find Alta, then so could whoever it was that beat it. Something would have to be done. ..."
I had to re-type this from memory as Blogger swallowed my first posting! UGH! Blogger seems to be fucked tonight. I can't seem to upload certain images. This has happened quite a bit.
21 September 2006
20 September 2006
In most games, the main headlining vehicle would be an American aircraft or tank. However, in this instance, this Russian game developed by IDDK/Crazyhouse actually features a Soviet T-72 as the main protagonist! How highly unusual and intriguing!
Apparently, one not only gets to drive a T-72B, one gets to drive the T-34-85 and T-55A!
From the webpage, the game features the following:
Three of Russia's most devastating and powerful tanks ever produced are yours to control; the T-34-85, T-55A and T-72B!
Roll these mechanized monsters through 18 campaigns, 2 training missions, 5 single player missions, and 3 multiplayer (LAN) missions.
Master your tank and crew and you will soon take command of other units that round out your mechanized platoon.
Cooperative multi-player support allows gamers to team up as a tank crew and play different positions within the same tank!
Roll into battle on some of the most realistic terrain maps ever modeled; real weather; destructable terrain and detailed models.
Ballistics models take into effect: wind, shell aerodynamics, flight characteristics, barrel wear and droop!
Powerful mission editor, map editor, and structure editor included; modify existing content or create your own.
Wow! I guess one gets to blow NATO tanks away! I spotted the game in a store in Sim Lim Square a few months back.
Image Source: www.strategyfirst.com
Faber-Castell pigment pens. 0.1, 0.2, 0.3. 21cm x 15cm. The original outline was completed a few months ago. The rest of the details was completed a week back. As usual, drawing the grass was involved and various lengths were utilised for various distances.
19 September 2006
Well, this is completed in another style. Heh. I had great fun doing this one. Faber-Castell, Pilot, Copic. 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5. I drew this one while I had coffee at NYDC at the Heeren on Saturday afternoon. It was a nice and windy afternoon. I had a book with me too.
I will be putting up more drawings in the coming few days. I finished four sketches over the weekend. I will also try to put larger scans of the drawings up though as I mentioned earlier, the originals are really small too!
Now that I have posted images of Leeds, in the coming weeks, I hope to put up a lot of images of scenes London, Oxford and Cambridge.
I will also continue with images of tanks of the Second World War and then postwar and modern AFVs. I will follow that with images of aircraft from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
And of course, the usual short commentary on books, music and such.
My friend, Mister Paradox of the Secret Heartlands of the Empire of Canada expounded on the nature of a Zombie film recently:
"But wait a second; what if suddenly one of these constants became questionable? What if, the very thing that you have grappled with and prepared for your entire life was thrown into utter chaos?"
And he continued with:
"Now granted, it is often unlikely in a Zombie film that a character will have to meet face to face with one of their own loved ones, but do you honestly believe that their mind would not wander about the issue?"
Despite Mister Paradox's painted hypothetical scenarios of horrifying take-overs, Mister Paradox was actually describing what he would in truth not be allowed to say: A Real Zombie Invasion is coming. Otherwise, how else would you explain his recent review of 'The Zombie Survival Guide'?
"I’ve finally completed reading the fictional Zombie Survival Guide and let me tell you friends, if there is anyone who will be prepared for a Class I->III zombie attack, it will certainly be me! I might be in trouble during a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, tsunami, volcanic eruption, alien invasion, catastrophic climate change, asteroid impact, global thermonuclear war, or god forbid… the rapture! But I’ll certainly be ready for at least a Class II Zombie attack.
Class II you say? Well obviously if you aren’t “in the know” about the Zombie attack classification system then you hardly have a hope of surviving the inevitable attack. The Zombie handbook outlines four classes of Zombie attacks ranging from a Class I with only a handful of zombies explained away by the media as an accident or cult killing, all the way to a Class IV Zombie outbreak which would place Humanity as the minority on planet earth, living in a truly undead world."
Mister Paradox is the Secret Herald of the Coming Terrifying Zombie Invasion! He knows. They want our brains! They are coming!
Mister Paradox is the Secret Zombie Prophet! All hail Mister Paradox!
1. Perfect Girl
2. You Came (2006 Version)
3. Together We Belong
4. Forgive Me
5. Four Letter Word
6. You Keep Me Hangin' On (Featuring Nena)
8. Kids In America (Featuring Charlotte Hatherley)
9. I Fly
10. Game Over
11. Lost Without You
12. View From A Bridge
13. Maybe I'm Crazy
14. Cambodia (Paul Oakenfold Remix)
I have always thought that Kim Wilde oozed such sex appeal that she would easily put the likes of Blondie, Belinda Carlise, Madonna and others in the shadows. However, she didn't whore herself to the media like the loud, brash, untalented Madonna and she will never attain that notoriety and marketing muscle that Madonna possessed. This is a surprise return. I had heard of her collaboration with Nena of the '99 Luftballoons' fame a few years back but I didn't think it would yield an album. 'Never say never' includes some older material re-interpretated, some in a rock format, while others in a more techno dancefloor format. 'You keep me hangin' on' with Nena is, of course the highlight of this album. The Paul Oakenfold remix of Cambodia is decent, hardly earthshaking. All in all, a nice nostalgic trip.
CNN reports that Christopher Tolkien has yet edited another set of his father's notes into something 'publish-able'. 'The Children of Hurin' is edited from notes into a readable account and is due to be published in 2007. Fragments of it were apparently published in the many many sets of notes now available some years ago. It is amazing how he had been able to release volume after volume of his father's notes years after his father's death. 'The Book of Lost Tales I', 'The Book of Lost Tales II', 'The Lays of Beleriand', 'Unfinished Tales', 'Sauron Undefeated', 'The History of Middle Earth volumes 1, 2, 3' and more.
On another front, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have announced the so-called final two books of the Dune saga. However, I think it is surely not the last we will see...
18 September 2006
Hahaha. In a recent Time article, it is revealed that the Segway sales was only 23,500 after five years and that there had been two recalls so far!
"When the machine was unveiled roughly five years ago, Dean Kamen, its official inventor, swore that the world’s car-weary city slickers would snap them up to travel distances too short to drive and too long to walk."
Hilarious! Too funny! John Doerr and Steve Jobs "...vied for a piece of the Segway pie and did their bit to hype the machine..."
"Steve Jobs ventured its impact would equal that of the PC. If Segway has sold only 23,500 machines to date, it's hard to see how it could even have made back the $100 million spent developing the device."
I mean seriously, US$5000.00 for such a device?
I picked up 'Renaissance War Galley 1470-1590' by Angus Konstam at Borders on Saturday night and spent a nice rainy, afternoon reading the illustrated volume. It is, of course, a great introductory volume to the employment of galleys in Renassiance naval warfare.
Later that night, I went to my shelf and picked out 'Warfare at Sea, 1500-1650: Maritime Conflicts and the Transformation of Europe' by Jan Glete. It covered naval warfare during that period with respect to society and political systems. The employment of the galley as a naval system, its associated usage (types of oarsmen), construction, were, of course, a function of the societies that created them. Specialised vessels such as the galley did not exist in isolation. I read Chapter 6 'The Mediterranean: the failure of empires' which covered Zonchio 1499: a decisive battle, declining and rising empires: Venice, The Ottomans and Spain, The Ottomans, the Habsburgs and France 1510-59, The apogree of galley warfare 1559-80 and The triumph of private violence 1580-1650.
What surprised me was the heavy presence of dominance of Dutch and English privateers during the 1580-1650 period and the inability of the Spanish, Ottoman and Venetian states to build adequate galleons and carracks to compete. The end of the galley period was in sight then.
The usage of galleys in that 'protected sea' such as the Baltic was another matter.
'The Age of the Galley: Mediterranean Oared Vessels Since Pre-Classical Times' by Morrison is the most accessible reference available and is finally re-issued and available in softcover. Not to be missed. 'Gunpowder and Galleys' by John Francis Guilmartin is another essential text on this era.
17 September 2006
Quote from 'Peasant War in Germany' by Friedrich Engels
Quote from 'Armies of the German Peasants' War 1524-26' by Douglas Miller
Quoting Wikipedia: "Leeds is a major city in the northern English county of Yorkshire and the urban core of the City of Leeds metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire. Since 1974 it is the larger City of Leeds which holds city status. The River Aire runs through the city. According to the 2001 UK census the Leeds Urban Area had a population of 443,247 while the City of Leeds conurbation had a population of 715,404 and is one of England's core cities."
The new developments along the River Aire. The re-development of the riverside has been going on for a decade. Urban renewal! Leeds used to be the centre of a textile industry in the Victorian era with the canal being used to transport finished products. Today, that industry is dead. Textiles has largely shifted to India and China.
A new area near the river Aire. This was a new development which was not here a decade or so ago. The Holy Emperor and I had drinks and ice-cream here.
The restored Victorian Quarter, a splendid arcade housing cafes and shops. It is not unlike the Bugis Junction in Singapore except the restoration is somewhat more authentic than the superficial one here.
Leeds, July 2006