Almost a Century Ago

Handley Page – HP 45

The Handley Page HP 42 and HP 45 were the largest airliners in regular use (circa 1931). The age of the four engine biplane airliner passed, but the service was considerably better than we have today in our enlightened and modern world. “Packed like sardines” described a food carried for the benefit of the travelers, not the travelers themselves.


Iran’s Revolutionary Twilight?

There is a long, but interesting article in the New Yorker on Iran that might pique your thoughts on the situation there.

…In 2018, Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, carried out a brazen plot to steal nuclear secrets from a secure warehouse in Tehran. Arriving in a semi truck before midnight, a team of agents broke into the facility and, using high-intensity torches, cut open safes. For six hours, they carted off documents and CDs, leaving just before an armed guard was due to begin his morning shift. According to a former senior U.S. intelligence official, the Iranian military launched an enormous dragnet operation, but the Israelis escaped across the border into Azerbaijan.

Even as Iranians speculate about who will succeed Khamenei, many believe that, whoever becomes Supreme Leader, the revolution is no longer salvageable.


“Isolated and dysfunctional, the Islamic Republic had reached a dead end, she said: “The regime has lost all popular support, and yet it is incapable of change. The result is that the Iranian people have lost hope. We are hopeless now.”


He’s Still in the Basement


Volcanic repeating pistol

Smith and Wesson

Designed c.1853-54 by Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson produced c.1855-60 by the Volcanic Repeating Arms Co./New Haven Arms Co.  .41 rocket ball, 10-round tubular magazine, lever action repeater, ivory grips, engraved nickel-plated brass frame.

Smith and Wesson’s very first handgun was the result of an investment by their mother company to improve the failed Jennings repeating rifle of 1852. They used the money to buy land and tools to start producing their design in Norwich, Connecticut, leading to the production of the S&W Magazine Pistol, also known now as the Norwhich model. Sales were low however, leading to a rebranding as the Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. in 1855 which brought Oliver Winchester on board as vice-president, before he bought all the other investors’ shares (including Smith and Wesson’s), moved the company to New Haven, Connecticut and changed the name of the company in kind.


If You are Set on a Name for your Club…


Modern American Toys


Redoutable was a central battery and barbette ship of the French Navy. In Saigon, Indochina, after the Boxer rebellion.

Times have certainly changed.


    • Yes, it was an important part of history, standing at the beginning of S&W and Winchester. Sort of the missing link between a handgun and the lever action repeating rifle. Sometimes we forget that painful (financially risky) business that took us from where we were to where we are.

  1. Volcanic made a longarm as well. It looked a lot like a Henry though reduced somewhat in size. In the film For a Few Dollars More, Clint Eastwood holds what appears to be a Volcanic during the final showdown scene. Given that I know of no reproductions of that model, I assume it was an original, though those are rather rare. I’ve never seen one, though I have handled a Henry, something I did very carefully since it was for sale and I saw the price tag.
    Photo of Clint and the Volcanic.

  2. What’s happening in Iran couldn’t happen to a better country. I hope they can stand up and do something when Khamenei passes on.

    • Those who hold power will cling to it for dear life (literally). It’s not about Islam so much as it is about using faith as a tool for totalitarianism. “The beards” will be killed if they ever lose the grip and they know it.

  3. The closest I’ve ever come to seeing a Volcanic firearm, was the Gyrojet pistol one of my friends bought back in the 1970’s.

  4. Iran? Who can predict anything in the Middle East? Under the Shah, the country was becoming somewhat westernized. Now it is back in the dark ages with those on the top with most of the weaponry. The Empire flourished under Zoroastrianism. I doubt it ever will under Islam with the Sh’a/Sunni divide.

    Keep the Straits open and let them stew in their own piss pot.

    • I don’t know how much of a vital interest we have in keeping the straits open these days. If it wasn’t for the geopolitical advantage of having oil bought and sold in dollars (the World’s reserve currency), I’d say that the straits could close and people could buy oil from the USA (and Colorado).

  5. I wish someone would build some HP-42 or HP-45 reproductions with more modern and powerful radial engines. I think some people would just love to fly around in them with service similar to what was provided in the day when they ruled the airways; flying for pleasure rather than just the speed of getting there since as I remember those aircraft just broke the 100 kt barrier.

    I relate to this because one of the earliest flights I remember was in a Ford Trimotor at the EAA National Fly-in in Rockford IL in the early 60’s. I was great fun flying in that old beast.

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