Working Title

Blog Post



The models of “American Gothic” stand next to the painting, c. 1935.


America under Jo/Ho





Correctly Identify the Armor

The answers are at the bottom of this blog page. How did you do?






The Chinese Admiral

Zheng He was a Muslim born in China’s mountainous province of Yunnan in 1372. Much of his achievements and adventures are, unfortunately, mainly folk tales and have not often been written down. Therefore, much of it should not necessarily be taken at face value.


Zheng He on one of his voyages

The Ming Dynasty had been established in 1368, bringing to an end Mongol rule. At the age of 11, Zheng He (his name was actually Ma He) was captured as a servant and castrated when Ming forces were sent to Yunnan to destroyed the last stronghold of the old regime. His reputation for bravery had been noted, however, and he was assigned to a royal household where over time he became very powerful. As an adult, he was described as brave and quick-witted, a tall, heavy man with clear-cut features, long earlobes, and a stride like a tiger.

When his master seized the Dragon Throne and became Emperor Yong Le, he made Ma He to Zheng He “ Admiral of the Western Seas”. Over the next three years, an incredible flotilla of sailing ships was built under his direction, ushering in a golden period of exploration and trade for China as well as Tribute payments, and making her the most advanced seafaring nation in the world. Seven great exploration fleets commanded by Zheng He set sail between 1405 and 1433 to seven voyages, they were the mightiest the world had ever seen.


Reconstruction of the Fleet, by Ward Sarah, 2006

The ships of various designs, including huge junks, the famous treasure ships,  which according to ancient Chinese chronicles measured up to 120 m long, 50 m wide, nine masts, red sails, 24 bronze guns and huge eyes of the bow and as well as a crew of 1000 Men. However, modern research on the treasure fleet suggests that these size figures are probably greatly exaggerated and that the largest treasure ships were only about 59m to 84 m in size. In addition to sailors and soldiers, there were merchants, astrologers, craftsmen, and priests on board.


Dimensions of Zheng He’s treasure ship (120 m) and Columbus’s Santa Maria (31 m), Illustration: Gregory A. Harlin/National Geographic Stock

Tribute Giraffe with Attendant, by Shen Du, 1357 – 1434

In contrast to the other references, the Philadelphia Museum of Art considers this to be rather a later work by an unknown painter from the 16th century 

Zheng He’s fleet had a number of technological innovations, including magnetic compasses and watertight compartments, which would not be seen in European vessels for hundreds of years. He sailed to western Asia, Africa, and Arabia, visiting 40 countries. Some speculate that he reached America and even circumnavigated the world, others believed that he sailed off the shores of Australia. It is assumed today that he was actually only in Asia, Africa, and Arabia. Of all the wonders he brought back, the most exciting to his countrymen was a giraffe from Somalia.

The Admiral of the Western Seas died in 1433 on the return voyage of the seventh expedition, other sources said that he died in 1435, at least his Tomb lies near Nanjing. However, the large sarcophagus made of light-colored stone in the Ox Head Mountains, which is officially considered a tomb and memorial, is demonstrably empty. Thereafter there were no more heroic voyages, for the journeys brought the imperial court no profit at all – on the contrary, they cost too much. New Chinese rulers ushered in 500 years of isolation; the logbooks of these seven voyages were destroyed, and the giant treasure ships were abandoned and left to decay.


Ancestry in New England


Retro Photo: LL at LSP’s Range Day

Hillsboro, TX


Answers to Armor

Cuban BMP-100. Armed with a dual-purpose 100 mm D48 field-gun/anti-tank gun.

Schützenpanzer Kurz 11-2 during testing in 1962.

3  Yugoslavian M18 Hellcat with a replacement engine lifted straight from a truck, probably a FAP 6G.

Bulgarian Panzer IV/SU-76 hybrid. This was never motorized, rather it was buried up to the turret as an emplaced fortification along the border with Turkey.

18 thoughts on “Working Title

  1. Larry. There are a couple of interesting books, 1421 and 1434, written by a Gavin Menzies, allegedly a former Royal Navy nuclear submarine commander, about Zheng He’s voyages. He makes some interesting claims. Needless to say, as he was not, nor did he profess to be, an academic or a professional historian, he got bagged by both the academic and professional historian communities. You see this though, in any academic field, when someone produces something that upsets the status quo, or disproves or challenges somebody’s pet theory or long-held research position. Whether these books are still in print, I think they came out about the 2010 period, give or take a couple of years, I do not know.

      1. “On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to “proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas.” When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.”

        It’s still in print. $14.50 from

  2. Panzererkennungsdienst: Some parts were tricky, really tricky.
    #1: I could identify the chassis as BMP-1, but the gun and country of origin stumped me.
    #2: Easy. I saw them in operation until they were replaced by the 8-wheel reconnaissance vehicle “LUCHS”.
    #3: Easy. UNPROFOR, IFOR and SFOR found a lot of these ‘homespun’ tanks in the ex-Yugoslav AOO and we destroyed all of them; much to the chagrin of the Croatian and Serbian owner/operators. Their ingenuity had to be admired: T-34 chassis combined with Sherman or AMX-13 turrets, and vice versa. The ex-Yugoslav conflict forces fielded a wild hodgepodge of whatever they found in their arsenals.
    #4: That was tricky again: after some guesswork I could identify the chassis (PzKw IV) but the turret and gun proved a hard nut to crack.
    Thank you very much for this entertaining post.

  3. I have Gavin’s first book 1421. I found it entertaining and his premise believable. He did not as I remember claim to have all the details perfect. He did say these are some of the facts and this could be how it occurred. I enjoyed reading his attacker’s comments as well. They spent a lot of time on what they thought he said.
    LL the voyages of Zing Hee would be a great idea for an historical novel, or alternate history novel.
    Columbus finds thriving Chinese culture in the Caribbean. Or instead of Skrailings , Leaf Erickson fights with Shaolin Monks

  4. Just got this from my brother…did not know and the media is again covering for this seditious clown…a bit lengthy but worthy of dissemination. Placed under the heading “Same crap, different decade”:

    “….paying attention to history to inform the present and the future. NOTHING CHANGES….He’s been wrong for 50 years…about….EVERYTHING.”

    From the book – “When the Center Held.” by Donald Rumsfeld in 2018:
    In 1975, President Ford was left to manage the difficult ending of the Vietnam War. President Ford went to Congress for a relief package to allow American personnel and our allies to evacuate. However, there was ONE US SENATOR who opposed any such support. The result was the embarrassing and hurried evacuation from the roof of the American embassy in Saigon

    This senator reveled in the embarrassment and did everything he could to leverage it politically against Ford. Despite the efforts of this U.S. Senator–President Ford managed to rescue 1,500 South Vietnamese allies prior to the country’s fall. Had President Ford not acted quickly, these people would have been targeted and slaughtered for their support for America . When they arrived in America , President Ford asked Congress for a package to assist these refugees to integrate into American society.

    That SAME troublesome SENATOR TORPEDOED ANY SUPPORT for these shell shocked, anti-communist, Americans and our helpers, the refugees.

    Instead, President Ford had to recruit Christian organizations to offer assistance on a voluntary basis. As he did so, the Senator belittled those efforts. What kind of person would oppose President Ford’s tireless work to do the right and humanitarian thing? Who would want to play politics with the well-being of innocent people who stood by America in the tragic Vietnam War?


      1. We need a very large cyclonic vacuum or wood chipper, your choice, to clear out the human debris residing for decades in DC.

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