Shipmates – A Personal Note

I have friends who served with me (and others of course) in the US Navy. They’re all long out now, moved on to retirement or some sort of employment.  Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) skills are marketable and a few people I worked with quit the navy to travel around the world and blow out fires in oil fields. Some went to Blackwater or other private military organizations to fight other people’s wars. Others went to work for Beltway Bandits within the military-industrial complex. Some went into private corporate espionage work. Of them, some were caught and disgraced and others were not. Some fly corporate execs around on (fancy) private jets. Some sought employment with alphabet agencies and enjoyed various levels of success. A few pinned on badges because police work in ghetto cities gave them adrenalin rushes. Some had physical disabilities that they incurred in the service that were limiting, some were able to overcome them. The last category had a difficult time reconciling what they had seen and done and hit the bottle hard and a few are recovering from damaging substances.

Of those in that last category, there are shipmates who invariably look after those damaged souls to the extent possible. You all have heard of Chris Kyle – he was one of those good shepherds, but there are many more. I’m not one, but I do lend a hand when I can, and sometimes it actually works and makes a difference.

It’s interesting to see who reaches out with their time, talents, and means and helps and who does not. Who has compassion and who has a heart of stone?

Last night I ticked off friends who preceded me into the grave. Some have Alzheimer’s – living death. The number wasn’t insignificant. Here’s to absent friends beneath the sand, and friends who are headed there.


You’ve read the book, seen the film, now taste the cracker.

They’re very politically correct. Take them to the next liberal party that you’re invited to.



The new anti-hobo protection system, designed by Moscow Metro officially failed.


Identify the Tank

be sure before you answer…




A Note on WW2 German Tank Suspension & etc.

The suspension systems of tanks may not interest some of the readers here but it’s always coming up in historical references so, here’s the spin:

The Tiger’s (Panzer VI) intricate 48 interwoven/interleaved Schachtellaufwerk bogie-wheel suspension gave the crews the smoothest ride of WWII and allowed the Tiger to shoot and scoot simultaneously…but it was constantly breaking, being clogged with debris, frozen solid with packed snow and mud, a single inner wheel damaged meant the disassembly, fixing and resembling of up to a dozen of those huge wheels, “assisting” the Tiger I to have one of the worst reliability records of any tank in WWII.

The Panther’s (Panzer V) also interleaved, (but not interwoven,) Schachtellaufwerk suspension with only eight double-interleaved rubber-rimmed steel road wheels on each side didn’t give as good a ride, but not only was it simpler and a better step up, it allowed better mobility and far less maintenance/repairs and “downtime” leading to a superior tank.

The Panzer IV’s suspension rattled their crews like a paint-shaker and they had to shoot while stationary…but they could actually drive into battle on their own steam and fight with good reliability throughout their service.


Panzer IVs and STuG IIIs, armed with the less-powerful KwK 40, did most of the heavy lifting. The STuG III’s alone were the #1 destroyer of enemy AFVs in history with over 30,000 “kills.” These two AFVs killed far more enemy tanks than the up-gunned Panthers, Tigers, and Jagdpanzers.


In reality, German tanks were scarce in Europe after D-Day. Most of the German armor (including STuG III’s which were classified as artillery – assault guns – before they were “tanks”) were in the East. The US Sherman vs Tiger confrontations, popular in movies and games, are a myth, particularly in Northern Europe. The British faced Tigers in the Caen area of Normandy, and Allied Sherman 75s faced very few in Sicily where Seventeen Tiger I tanks from German schwere Panzer Abteilung 504, were attached to the Hermann Göring Division. In Italy, American tanks faced  Heavy Panzer Battalion 508, (Regular strength of 45 Tigers, not counting replacements, with a few Elephant tank destroyers attached as auxiliaries, that had a dismal combat record.)

There were only 1,347 Tigers ever made, making them extremely rare on the battlefield, especially in Europe.

Recovering damaged Tigers, and transporting them far to the rear where they could be repaired, and put back into service was exceptionally difficult for the German Army. American Shermans were repaired at the division level and could be put back into the fight with little difficulty.


  1. It’s a Mk IV. You can tell by the teeny-weenie wheels and looks to be the long 75mm, and some sort of turret skirting, too.

    I always suspected the teeny-weenie bogies would make the tank run roughish.

  2. Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf. J — the long 75 mm cannon, the four idlers and the improved commanders cupola clearly indicate a post-G production model or “Ausführung”.

    • Exactly. One of the better tanks of the war in large part due to its reliability in combat. Good rifle, good armor, good engine, and for most of WW2, in most situations, very well trained crews.

      • Of course I meant ‘return rollers’ when I wrote ‘idlers’. Please pardon this embarrassing mistake; after all I am not a native speaker.
        Further comments on the respective suspension systems of German tanks in the early 40s may have to be postponed for a while as I am currently busy teaching the blackamoors the basic of counter-insurgency combat and have little time for anything else.
        This teaching job has its funny moments after all. For instance, raising the rear sight of the AK47 to the maximum elevation of 800 metres will *not* increase the effective combat range or ‘punch’ of this weapon — and this comes as a complete revelation to my brave but misguided pupils. I could tell many more anecdotes of a similar vein but right now time is short.
        If you are interested I can send you some pictures.

        Thank you very much again for your splendid website — it is my daily ‘must read’ Nr.1.

  3. The anti-“homeless” fail…same idiots who are implementing “safe injection” sites. Bureaucrats prove everyday how much they haven’t a clue.

    Heard Joel Gilbert ha a new documentary…The Mrs. Obama. We knew she (he?) was a grifter but if Gilbert is correct she’s worse than suspected, not that “put upon black woman” she portrayed herself and the lefty’s lapped up as manna. Possibly gearing up to run in 2024 once these two place-holders prep the destroy America game.

    • I think Mitchel Obama would need to have a more completely rigged election than Jo/Ho did to win. However it self-identifies, the progs are poisoning the well. Let’s go Brandon.

    • re – safe injection sites
      2012 or so.
      Eugene, Oregon.
      I saw a yuge crowd of maybe sixty around a motorhome with several tables under awnings.
      Suspecting somebody was holding a flea-market without notifying me [cue: aghast!], I pulled over and walked to the main table.
      A harried woman barked “You need to sign-in before anything.”
      I pleasantly inquired “Sign in for what?”
      For the first time, she raised her gaze above my muddy farmer boots… “Needle exchange”, instantly realizing I was probably unqualified.
      I pleasantly thanked her, and went in search of a legit yard-sale to feed my cravings.
      As I stood a respectable distance second-in-line at the pharmacy to retrieve a re-fill, the bum ahead of me mumbled something to the tech at the register.
      She reached under the counter, and handed him a box about the size of breakfast-cereal.
      No money changed hands, no insurance verification.
      He skedaddled.
      Next up, I asked the tech about the ‘purchase’.
      “He wanted some needles. We are supposed to charge for them, but don’t.”
      Pardon my Irish, but we are [circling the drain].
      PBS Hour — cooking fentanyl tutorial
      In one segment, reporters visit a scraggly farm in very rural Mexico.
      Farmers prepare fentanyl in 40-gallon/160-liter tubs over a campfire.
      Another segment interviewed a home-based cooker in a pleasant neighborhood.
      He says he manufactures 150,000 fentanyl tablets daily.
      Adjacent to the home is a shrine to the Patron Saint of dope cookers.
      For nearly a half-century, I lived and worked throughout Latin America.
      2021, I would consider a De-Milaterized Zone extending south from the fUSA border.
      After giving reasonable notice, I think carpet-bombing a ten-mile ‘exclusion area’ to glowing glass has some merit.
      Deny the enemy shelter, food, water, companionship.
      But I realize my proposal is destined all for naught; I am rarely correct in my politicallys these days.

        • For the Middle East I’ve said we should bomb it into oblivion, pave it, then put a McDonald’s in the middle. Could do that to your suggested location to our South, instead of the much hated wall run a string of Taco Bell’s along the border…they’d have free labor for those jobs American’s won’t do.

  4. “It’s interesting to see who reaches out with their time, talents, and means and helps and who does not.”
    Indeed. My wife and I found this out when she had her battle with breast cancer (she is baby sitting our grandson in the living room as I type this). Some friends stepped up, brought prepared meals, etc. Some others, not so much. You could tell our situation made them uncomfortable, and they just didn’t have the capacity to deal with it.

    The Mk IV–interesting photo. Is that an AP hit dead center in front? Tanker’s uniform looks to be U.S., as does the wrecker.

    Panther–I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Panther’s dual torsion bar system gave it a smooth ride for it’s day, allowing some shoot-on-the-move capability. Perhaps Martin could chime in here.

    • Yes, somebody ten-ringed the Mk IV and it’s being recovered by US troops. Both the Panther and Tiger could shoot and scoot, but their availability for combat was not good. If the Germans had just made MK IV panzers, they would have been better off. There was a big fear factor from the ‘big cats’ and they were effective at the kinetic point of contact but allied fighters mauled them if they moved during the day.

    • As I get older, there are more of them.

      Part of the problem of aging, LSP is that despite evidence to the contrary, we’re surprised when it creeps up on US.

  5. Your blog exemplifies the “reaching out in time, talent,…” and expertise to assist your readers in expanding our knowledge and understanding.

  6. In terms of maintenance and reliability, did the Christie suspension system work better than most designs used in WWII?

    • The Russians were the prime user of Christie’s designs during WW2. The T-34 was a very effective tank. Did it work better? The Russians would say yes, but it was a pre-war design and one of those transitional things where the WW1 era machines were not good enough. Christie wanted to see fast, highly mobile light tanks take the field in that post-WW1 era and his designs were used.

      The vertical volute spring suspension system fitted on US and Italian tanks was more reliable IMHO. Not the end-all solution, but robust and effective.

      • From some reading years ago, politics played a role in his designs being rejected by the US Army establishment types.

        • A case of ‘Not Invented Here’ with Christie being the outsider.

          Not a bad suspension system for a light tank. The T-34 was about the heaviest the system could handle, without major modification.

    • It wasn’t very good maintenance-wise except in comparison to Panthers and Tigers. The Soviets abandoned the Christie suspension after the war, moving to torsion bars for the T-54, which entered service in 1947. The Christie suspension also used an excessive amount of valuable space inside the hull.

  7. Oddly enough, according to Steven Zaloga(just finished reading a book of his on the subject), the Germanan Military had more AFVs in the West than in the East in June, July, and August. And tanks out numbered the assault guns in the West so there were a bunch more tanks in the West on June 6 (about 500 more in June and about 500 in July – it evened out in August). Of the almost 1800 AFVs in the West on June 10 around 1300 were tanks(90 Tigers – the rest Mk IIIs, Mk IVs and Panthers) and the Mk IVs out numbered the Mk IIIs, Panthers and Tigers added together.

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