The Bone

Blog Post


Bullet Points:

* When in doubt, lower the standards. Go Navy.

* Drone Wars continue as Ukraine sends some of its old, outdated Soviet weaponry back to the manufacturers in Russia. The Tupolev 141 Strizh, pictured below is very reminiscent of the German V-1 used in World War 2. Its smaller cousin, the Tu-143 Reis (not pictured) has a shorter range.

The discussion of drones is continued in the blog that will post December 8. The drones repurposed as a poor man’s cruise missile, are disruptive but not game-changing. Russian air defense should be able to pick them up and destroy them en route to their targets, but it doesn’t seem to have that capacity. The Potemkin Village is revealed.

The United States has been reluctant to give Ukrainian forces MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, missiles, which would allow strikes more than 300 miles into Russia. (Ukraine’s northernmost point is less than 300 miles from Moscow.) The United States has even modified the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems launchers or HIMARS, it has sent to Ukraine to disable their ability to fire ATACMS rockets. In September, Russian officials said sending such long-range missiles to Ukraine would make the United States a direct party to the conflict.

A big part of the reason the United States is honoring that “red line” is out of concern that Russia would view such weapons as a strategic rather than tactical threat.

* The USAF B-1B Lancer fleet (captioned photo) has been forward deployed to Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific and will now be deployed in Australia. The Bone is a relatively old aircraft but it is elegant and until it is replaced by the new B-21 Raiders, its capabilities are more than enough to deal with threats from the People’s Republic of China. Australia’s participation in regional defense which includes the B-1 is a new development.

* Piracy on the high seas is still a very real thing. Even though the highest concentration of attacks is still an African thing, the practice is a reality in the Caribbean (pirates of the Caribbean…) and in Southeast Asia. Targets of opportunity often include expensive pleasure yachts, unarmed or lightly armed because of national policies of the areas where they travel. The question is where is the higher threat? Pirates or the local maritime police? In some areas, the local police and coast guard assist the pirates by targeting vulnerable, lucrative targets.


There are times — when Shakespeare’s plays actually DO have modern-day relevance and explore universal themes:


She has a nice set of brass catchers…


One isn’t Enough


When Nature Called

It overtakes everyone, whether he wants it or not, but the call of nature is merciless. But where to when you are on the high seas on a ship? Who now means simply behind over the railing and already runs, it was not like that. Ok in antiquity yes, but not from the 16th century on. Even if the records are rather bad and you can hardly find a wreck what is still preserved so far that you could look there. Let’s rather look at the 17th century and the following centuries to draw conclusions from there. Because there you can prove that the simple sailors came to the bow and sat down on a box with a hole in the middle. The so-called seat of easement. Hence the term “heads”, because the person is at the head of the ship and if they just said “heads” everybody knew what was meant. A ship-of-the-line sometimes had only two benches with 2 holes each and the four seats were enough for more than 600 men.  This is why even with larger ships it is necessary (to use it while standing) on smaller ships sometimes also the only possibility (then one sat directly on the bow) to use the grating.


The seat of easement in the bow of the Vasa

Out of courtesy to everyone, however, one always sat on the side facing away from the wind, i.e. on the lee side. I hope I don’t have to explain why now.

But of course, the bow was no place for the officers, you just imagine you are sitting there and then the captain comes… no way… They had their own installations.  Petty officers had a seat on both sides of the bowsprit, which doesn’t seem very comfortable now, but it allowed a small amount of private peering. Like here on the Victory, the midshipman was allowed to enter two small round houses from the inside. But this was only possible on a ship of the line.


The Bow of HMS Victory, the picture is from a book edited by Kaye Dacus 

Senior officers, Captains, and Admirals had their own heads in the sides of the star gallery and placed their offset to avoid an accident. There was also the pissdale on the quarterdeck, which was a metal urinal located near the ladder to the quarterdeck. When the lieutenant on duty had to go, he said that he had to “visit the aunt”  and everybody knew what was going on. But if the thing was broken, it could be that he used the speaking trumpet of the master. So be careful if it smells strange, then you should check the piss dale.


This pissdale was found off Rame Head, from an unkown wreck

Who asks himself now, why all this happened on the deck and why not below deck. Let me tell you that there was a so-called tube until the 16th century and on slave ships until the 19th century. These were wooden containers that were used to hold everything and had to be dragged to the top, locked and tedious, to empty them. So you can imagine the stench that spread with it. Also slave ships kept this kind of equipment but for a long time because they were worried about the security when the slaves were running around free. Otherwise the officers and the sickbay used chamber pots.


An officer’s head, this was Captain Hardy’s on HMS Victory

Interestingly enough there was a flushing water system in the officer’s toilets of a ship-of-the-line from 1779 on. But they were quickly removed because they were too expensive and only reinstalled when the first iron hulls appeared in the middle of the 19th century.

There was no toilet paper either, the officers used the newspaper or old notepaper. The Sailors used scrap fibrous material such as oakum. This also changed in the middle of the 19th century.

19 thoughts on “The Bone

  1. My line of work required the port-a-can. They were interesting in some ways, since in a refinery, the graffiti indicated the most users of a particular can. Electricians provided the best graffiti, and when a port-a-can was neglected for too long, they were accused of lighting the can on fire and causing an evacuation of the facility. It was all rumor, of course, but the end result was a place that was above revolting for taking care of business. A neglected port-a-can, without toilet paper, on a hot summer day, usually required a long journey to find another – if time allowed.

      1. Find a paper towel, and hope for the best. Nomex coveralls could slow the process and lead to disaster. That’s why I always kept a pocket knife handy.

        1. Police surveillance – rolling and static – had similar issues. When women were added to the equation it produced interesting results. Co-ed situations in vans on a stakeout when nature called, etc.

  2. My son (fuel systems and the qualified crew chief) worked the B 1 for years and liked it almost as much as he liked F-15s. He did say that the plane was never spared properly when it was originally built and spent quite a bit of time at the boneyard getting spare parts.

    Beautiful set of 1911s. I would suggest a few more magazines but that is just me.

    Pleasantly surprised that the US is showing enough sense to not provide ATACMS or longer range weapons.

    Interesting bit of history of the sailing navy. As always thank you for the lesson.

    1. The US Air Force has 45 B-1Bs in service. It was a short production run of 104 and then the conversion from the B-1A and all. An interesting history for the aircraft. The Russians tried to copy it and there are still a lot of Tu-22Ms in service (500 built), but they were never even close in terms of quality or capacity to the B-1B. Much of what is available about Tu-22M is inaccurate. Classified sources are quite accurate.

      1. If the US provided longer-range rocket artillery to the Ukrainians, you know that they’d try to hit the Kremlin with it.

    2. The B-1 has multiple fuel tanks in the fuselage and the plane’s software automatically transfers fuel between them to maintain the aircraft cg within limit, as various munitions are released from the multiple bomb bays.

      The prototype B-1A crash in 1984 was caused by a software bug that allowed the cg to go aft out of limit, resulting in a stall and the plane falling out of the sky.

      My cousin was a software engineer at Boeing at the time and was the guy who found the bug.

  3. Heads
    Our 14 day voyage on the good General Maurice Rose was something of a shock. A long row of stainless molded seats with a hole in the center and a trough underneath with sea water flowing rapidly was new to soldiers. As the ship rolled the flowing cold water acted as a bidet.

    1. Salt water’s cleansing action… Or if in a submarine and you operated the valves incorrectly, it came back in your face.

    1. I’d call Pedo Joe out if I think that he’d show up and not shoot me in the back or have the SS snipe me.

  4. Around the time the B1 was released(?), I was climbing out of a canyon with a bunch of friends in what is now Escalante Natl Monument. We were spread out up and down a cliff, top to bottom maybe 50 feet. The people on top could see a B1 coming down the canyon rim, flying sideways / on its side, wings pointing up and down, tracing the canyon rim with its lower wing tip. Really tracing, moving in and out to trace the cliff edge. The plane was only another 50 feet above the cliff edge and flying very slowly. The people on top of the cliff pointed the plane out to the rest of us and we all put our fingers in our ears in anticipation of how loud it would be. It was quiet. I do not remember how quiet though we all removed our fingers as it passed and were amazed by the comparative lack of sound and the pilots’ skill.

    Drones have been around since airplanes were invented. WW2 had some significant efforts. Converting a Cessna to a drone is within the technical ability of some of the readers of this blog and certainly Ukraine. A Cessna has a range of about 500 miles. The distance from Kiev to Moscow is about 500 miles. Mathias Rust did it when the Soviets had a military.

  5. This is not the first time I’ve heard about/seen the results of the Armed Services lowering standards; we’ve begun to bend over so far backwards I’m greatly worried that we may have finally broken our back – to no one’s advantage; advanced weaponry cannot replace innate IQ, good physical condition, and a common language.

    Every time I read “…would make the United States a direct party to the conflict” I wonder if all the rest of the world doesn’t already view us without the “would make”.

    Whenever I read of Naval evacuation procedures I’m so happy I volunteered for the Air Force.

    BTW, speaking of heads: I remember quite well my first long-distance flight in a Cessna 150 as “pilot-in-command” with my instructor. Bobby, may he rest – well, wherever it is that he may be resting(?) – brought me out a bottle of Coke from ops telling me since it was going to be my first long flight, I might get thirsty. After that, I always made sure to pack a looong polyvinyl tube with funnel attached in with my charts – Thanks, Bobby!

  6. The pissdale reminds me of the urinals on the C-130E/H that I flew. The cabin pressure along with a little bleed air insured that the liquid went overboard. Occasionally when taxiing behind another C-130 you would see a mist coming out of one of multiple tubes under the leading aircraft. I was told by more than one person that had been in SE Asia in the 60s and 70s that the female flight nurses could saddle up on one for relief; there wasn’t much privacy in the back of C-130.

  7. I used to see B-1’s going out of LGB all the time. Besides the C-17 production, Boeing also ran a modification depot at the airport. They sure made a lot of racket taking off on full AB!

    Never saw one flying low and slow…..

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