30 September 2006

Sd Kfz 182 Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf B (Konigstiger, Tiger II) Porsche Turret

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 Posted by Picasa

29 September 2006

V For Vendetta

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.

Delerium 'Nuages Du Monde' (Clouds of the World)

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
11. Apparition

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

Char B1 Bis

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. Posted by Picasa

26 September 2006

Armoured Suits

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.

Quoting Kelvin:

"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 replaces the Leopard I MBTs with the M1A1 Abrams

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
Walking Sticks for Old Ladies

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.
Heckler and Koch MG43 (MG4 in Bundeswehr nomenclature)

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
Regarding Singapore's Ultimax, it would appear that the Ultimax has completely been dismissed by most of the world's major armed forces. I suspect it is due primarily to a lack of provision for a belt-fed mechanism.

Image Source: HKPro webpage
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)

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.

Image source:
Lockheed Martin

24 September 2006

Stream II

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. Posted by Picasa
Floodlands (Larger)

Re-post. Re-scan. Posted by Picasa