‘The Little Corporal’


Bullet Points:

** A-10 Warthog vs. F-35 Fly-Off – redacted information, but at least information. There is no information about downtime between sorties or about cost per sortie. We’re $33 trillion in debt, we don’t care about cost, do we?

** Let’s go Brandon!


From the Darker Days of Fighting Sail


A voice from the sea

At the turn of the 19th century a Cornish lass called Sarah Polgrain had an affair with a sailor known as Yorkshire Jack. When Sarah’s husband died he was initially thought to be a victim of cholera, but it was later found that she had poisoned him with arsenic. Sarah was condemned to death by hanging. She was granted her last wish that Yorkshire Jack be allowed to accompany her to the scaffold. Just as the rope was about to be placed around her neck,Jack kissed her and the two embraced for the last time. Spectators nearby heard Sarah say You will? and Jack agree.

After Sarahs execution Jack went back to sea, but the once jovial seaman became ill tempered and agitated. His shipmates often saw him nervously looking over his shoulder.

One morning as Jack’s ship neared home, he confided to one of them, When I was on the scaffold that morning talking to Sarah Polgrain, she made me promise on my oath that on this very day, at midnight, I would marry her. Thinking to humor her and supposing trouble to have unhinged her mind, I agreed. But I know now that she was quite sane and much in earnest. Not being able to wed me in the flesh she means to bind me to her for ever in the spirit.


The Sailor and the Ghost A whimsical Ballad… caricature, by James Whittle & Richard Holmes Laurie 1805

That night eerie footsteps were heard in the vicinity of Jack’s hammock. Jack arose as if in a trance and went on deck. He calmly walked to the bulwark, the leapt into the sea. The shocked watch on deck saw two white faces in the dark waters for a brief moment, and then they were gone.


A second Flying Dutchman 

Everyone knows the story of the Flying Dutchman and some also know that this legend is based on Captain Cornelius Vanderdecken, who was condemned by a curse to wander around the sea with his ghost ship until doomsday, without being able to enter a harbor or find salvation in death. But there is a legend that in the 17th century there was a second flying Dutchman, very like the first one, in the area of the Cape of Good Hope, his name was Captain Bernard Fokke.


The Flying Dutchman, by Charles Temple Dix, c. 1860

Bernard Fokke was known for covering the trade route from the Netherlands to the spice island of Java in – by the standards of the time – very little time. In 1678, he managed the journey in three months and four days – about half the usual travel time. It is known that the Dutchman almost always sailed with full sails, no matter how strong the wind was blowing. Fokke’s secret: he allowed himself to do this by making a decisive change in the mast. He used iron yards, which were heavier but hardly broke. This allowed Fokke to keep his sails up even in strong winds, when other ships had already significantly reduced their sail area.

This seemed so incredible to the people that they assumed supernatural causes and believed Fokke was a sorcerer or even in league with the devil and must have flown his ship. The last time he left the harbor with his ship and was never seen again, people were convinced that he had become the devil’s prey, but he had merely died at sea.  But because his soul is so restless and he is always trying to beat his own record or even challenge other ships to be faster than him, he is still seen from time to time in the area around the Cape of Good Hope and his ship seems to fly when he is seen.

So Fokke, unlike our first Flying Dutchman, seems to be more of a peaceful fellow who just wants to be faster than everyone else and not lead poor souls to their doom like the other one.



Identify the Aircraft



Take your time with this one…It resembles other, possibly more well-known aircraft. A number were given to Russia under lend lease.





  1. The F-35/Warthog comparison must have been ran by the CDC.
    The proverbial apples and oranges test. Let’s decide which one we want to win, and pattern our testing to reflect that. A good read.

    • There is such a vast difference in both cost per hour flown, and %of aircraft ready for a sorty between the two that the A-10 won before you even “test and compare” them. F-35’s are maintenance hogs and are ruinously expensive. Of course, USAF doesn’t care.

  2. Since I have an “extra hour” to this morning. When we were milking 95 Holstein’s morning and night in a previous life, we would bump the milking start 15 min four weeks in a row to compensate for the change. The cows, creatures of habit, were mildly irritated for an entire month instead of having a complete meltdown if we showed up an hour late all of a sudden. And extra hours worth of milk in an already stretched to the limit udder was a big deal. Thanks Joe

    • It’s been half a century since I had to wake up and milk a cow (by hand), but you’re right. They are creatures of habit and know WHEN it’s time. The time change is udder nonsense to dairymen.

      • Until I graduated from high school, I milked three twice daily during the winter. They are creatures of habit. On occasions we milked friends cows if they needed to be out of town. They did the same for us. The cows didn’t like that – always dirty looks.

        If you were dating a country girl who milked cows you learned to not put your hands where they weren’t welcome.

  3. “Backside of Rushmore” (literally) Imagine working on that part…but yeah, Justine certainly has reflected the sentiment…altho as Kathleen Madigan, comedian, said: “Canada is like our attic. You forget it’s up there, but once you get up there, you’re like, ‘Wow, look at all this crap.”

    Todays “extra hour” is like getting a tax refund from the Feds…I am so grateful that I’m changing my mind how amazing our Better are and their benevolence.

    Not. Tomorrow I’ll be back cursing these morons.

      • Any land available around you? The older I get the more I realize how stupid DST is (only government could make such a moniker, sounds so benign). Sorry Ben, might have been a good idea in the 1700’s but not now.

          • Like a blind squirrel the off-grid folks will be vindicated. We looked at it but I can’t generate power for less than REA, especially enough to run my cab8net saw…it’s the one-off vs. large scale cost-effectiveness.

            To your point, absolutely they are working the full-court press in overtime to that end. Gee, let’s take something that we understand, have worked hard to build a decent grid infrastructure, came up with alternative yet exceptional power generation (nuclear being the best), power homes for all season comfort…only to have a bunch of ugly soul morons come along and sell the concept reliable and independent power is a bad idea and completely wrong despite 120 years of experience so we will force enviro-trashing monster pinwheels and Sections of solar panel arrays on everyone to “save the planet”.

            So yeah, working us back to the stone ages to get us under their control. Thing is, they forget firearms don’t require batteries.

            Not happening as long as people wake up and smell the Burnt Starbucks Coffee burning.

            Just got back from a no chore day mini road trip…a lot of good people and amazing country put there…way past DC and Cesspool cities. A good day.

    • Unless there has been recent changes, the 1948 Key West Agreement basically prohibits the Army from operating fixed wing aircraft for other than reconnaissance and medevac purpose.

      • Just because the USAF doesn’t want to have certain airplanes, or do certain jobs, doesn’t mean that they want anyone else to have or do them, either. Might make them look bad.

        Inter-service rivalry has usually been a higher priority than National Defense for most of the Brass, in all of the Services.

        – Kle.

        • Part of the problem with the A-10, according to the Air Force, is it is an old platform that hasn’t been updated and maintained as it should. Only relatively recently has the Hog gotten new wings, which were an issue identified pretty much after 10 years of use, and a very known problem after Desert Storm.

          As to the Key West Agreement, just relabel the A-10 as the OA-10, for use in reconnaissance-in-force. Like the OV-1 Mowhawk. I mean, you want to find out what’s in that truck? Hit it with a missile or bomb or gunfire and see if there are secondary explosions. Oh, look, it was holding fuel or explosives…

          The Air Force wants to get rid of the A-10 because the bill for the repairs and upgrades are coming due, and it only has a limited budget.

          To be fair, short of the gun, armed drones can do the same job as the A-10 and take less risk for personnel than flying a manned plane into a hostile environment. The Uke-Rus war shows that the air-space in a peer-to-peer environment is highly hostile to manned air missions.

          Now, hmmm… better drones that can carry more weapons.

          The A-10 is great for COINS. But the Super Tucano does an okay job on that, along with armed drones. And the Super Tucano is a newer platform that doesn’t require a major and costly rebuild to perform in the COINS role.

          I love the A-10. I think it’s the best Air-to-Ground aircraft ever built. A jet-powered B-25J basically (look at the wing, the tail, and tell me I’m wrong) that would be excellent in coastal and maritime defense. But it’s old, and getting more and more expensive and more and more vulnerable against SAMs.


  4. F-35/A10. Sometimes the “fighter pilot mafia” (copyright 1947) gives the rest of the AF a bad name. If an aircraft can’t fly above Mach 1 they don’t want it and the AF leadership has, over the years, proven it does not want the CAS role. They also don’t want to give anybody else part of their fiefdom since that will make justifying their budget a bit harder. I believe we definitely need something like the A-10 because air superiority doesn’t mean much if you don’t have boots on the ground to occupy the ground the pretty fast moving jets are flying over. Having said all that, the current version of the A10 is wearing out and we do need a robust, slow moving, can carry almost anything in the conventional inventory, replacement.

    • To my non-aviator mindset, I’ll never understand (a) why they don’t just build more A-10’s and (b) the idiot thinking behind the idea that a modified crop duster that can’t carry as much or fly as fast or has less redundancy can do the job better. Good thing I’m not in charge, wot?

      • The rationale is that it is supposed to be cheaper to buy and operate as well as not requiring as much training to fly. Don’t know about the first two and certainly don’t know enough about the skills required to be a CAS pilot, but it is a heck of a lot less capable.

        • Regarding skills. During Vietnam, the Colorado Air Guard was activated. They flew F-100s at the time. Nearly put Frontier and Continental Airlines out of business with half their pilots being in the National Guard. To the point. Those pilots could put ordnance closer to our troops than most of the regular service pilots. Experience counts. The platform is less important than the pilot. Low, slow and dirty, most aerial applicators will show up most ‘fighter pilots’.

          • Back when the A-10 was first introduced, it was constantly being out-gunned and out-bombed by Air Nat Guard units flying the A-7. When they transitioned the same Air Nat Guard units to the A-10, it was the Nat Guard units who still out-flew the regular AF units.

            Seems lots and lots of piloting, even in an airliner, keeps one’s flying skills up. It’s the mundane bullscat of hitting the same target over and over (like bombing, or landing at stupid airfields) that does it.

          • We were fortunate in our unit that we had the Air Commandos for close air support when needed. As I said in my book we never, ever, used Big Air Force. Most of the Air Commandos were Second World War and Korean War veterans, many of them captains and majors who only wanted to fly, rather than be promoted to a non-flying job. A number of them were fighter “aces” from one or both of those conflicts who Big Air Force deemed too old to fly the new fast jets, and too recalcitrant to put behind a desk. And fly they could, be it in their armed T-28s initially, and later their A-1 Skyraiders. Low, slow, and super accurate. Additionally, they listened, and put their ordnance where you wanted it, not where it was easiest for them or it suited them to put it.

            I recall once, on one of our very few daylight excursions into the Mekong Delta, having a need to call for close air support when the six of us bit off more than we could chew in a supposedly deserted hamlet we had entered. And came they did. Looking out across the flooded rice paddies they were so low you could see the water in the paddies being whipped up by their slipstream as they flew over them in their firing and rocketing passes.

            One of the pseudo Armed Propaganda Team leaders, who operated in III Corps, once told me she made the mistake of accepting the offer of Big Air Force close air support from a forward air controller flying nearby. She did not go into details, but she said never again. in future, she added, it would be the Air Commandos or she would do without it.

    • X2 – There should be a more stealthy version of an A-10 that can operate in a higher threat environment. USAF says, yes, you have the F-35.

      • Stealthy until you hang any ordnance off the hardpoints, then not stealthy at all. What I don’t understand is if an Army or Marine Corp attack helicopter (not stealthy at all) is expected to survive and fight in the environment why is stealth considered so important?

        • For the same reason that high-altitude performance for fighter aircraft was considered so important in WW2, even though the Axis had essentially zero offensive aircraft that could operate up there.

          We did need it for bomber escorts, but everyone else only needed it to intercept US and UK strat bombers.

          The Soviets made the Nazis come down and play air-to-air in the mud, where the war was actually going on, and did fine with their “inferior” aircraft against the Luftwaffe. All that altitude performance did for the Germans in Russia was allow their fighters to run away, which I expect was an acceptable result for the Russkies. Later on, that is – obviously not in the beginning with the I-16 and all.

          – Kle.

          • Germany screwed itself by going with a tactical air force, using their schnell-bombers. They had no real long-range strategic air force, so they didn’t need long-range escort fighters, for the most part. As beautiful and wonderful the Bf-109 and the FW-190 were, they were woefully short-ranged in comparison to American fighter aircraft.

            And, yes, any external load screws up the stealth characteristics of the aircraft, which is why armed drones are becoming the Thing.

            Combined with guided bombs and missiles, you can literally toss
            bombs out the back of a cargo plane and, using drones and stealth recon platforms, target and hit objects far far away from effective SAM range, either shoulder-fired or platform fired.

  5. Just waiting for the day when actual hard scientific evidence is found for the paranormal. Though I think most people who believe in ghosts and specters are somewhat not grounded in reality, I have seen things that aren’t explained by the current hard-science people.

    Then again, rogue waves were considered ‘fake’ until enough video and sensor evidence piled up to basically force the scientific community to acknowledge said rogue waves.

    And there are lots of species that have been declared extinct that have been found to still exist.

    So, yeah, a female ghost forcing her lover to kill himself so he could join her, well, sounds fantastical, but…

  6. I’m no expert but viz. A10/F35, are we betting on never having to fight another war at scale ever again? Just a thought.

    If not, why have we offshored our manufacturing?


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