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B.B. takes a day off!

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Guy Roush is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd AIR gift card. Congratulations!

Guy Roush is the BSOTW — for the second time.

Today, I was supposed to show you a thrilling “fix” for a recent problem I’ve been having with an unnamed but very popular airgun. That pins it down, doesn’t it?

I won’t tell you what I’m working on because the work is not yet done. I need more time. You see, a lot of the time, I guess right about something and it turns out well, so I can report it as I fix it. That didn’t happen today. Today, it all went south and, for the life of me, I could not figure out why. Oh, I’ll figure it out in time, but I can’t report an unsuccessful project while I’m in the middle of it, because many of you get anxious for me. Then, you start giving me suggestions and before we know it, some of you are inventing alternate universes in which everything turns out fine (as long as gravity is cancelled and we all walk on our hands!).

Well, I don’t want that. I don’t want it for you, and I sure don’t want it for me!

So, today I laid down my work and took a break because I was so stressed that I couldn’t hold a quarter-sized group with a gun that can usually hit Roosevelt’s head on a dime every time. I needed to back away from the problems I’m having with this gun and allow some time to pass before I tackle it again.

So, instead of me revealing yet another mystery that’s been solved, I would like to share some of my not-so-random thoughts with you.

First thought — bent barrels
For years, I’ve been wondering about bent airgun barrels. I’ve seen them and I know what can cause a barrel to bend, but also I know that there are several airgunners who are bending their barrels purposely to avoid the trouble of shimming their scopes or using adjustable scope mounts. Let’s call that “corrective” bending.

Bent barrels are such a problem that everyone talks about them. Over the years, I’ve seen several airgun barrels that were bent. The ones I’ve seen were all bent the same way. Someone broke open a breakbarrel and fired it with the barrel broken open. The barrel snaps up violently and bends upward at the point where it enters the baseblock. Shooters who have done this have told me it was an accident, but I believe they did it intentionally — just to see what it would look like.

At any rate, the barrel always bends the same way when this happens. And I know that many airgunners would like to know how to straighten (or correctively bend) their barrels. And they want to be able to do it without disassembling their guns — naturally!

I’ve read in books that you can see a bent barrel by how the light shines through it. Mac has told me that he’s straightened many airgun barrels and that it’s always possible to see the bend in the barrel by looking through the b0re at a stro0ng light source. I have certainly seen a bent barrel from the outside, but I have never seen what one looks like when looking through it like the books describe.

What can I do about all this? Well, how about I take a picture of the inside of a breakbarrel barrel before it is bent? And how about I shoot some groups with it and note where the point of impact is, relative to the aim point?

And then how about I intentionally fire the gun with the barrel broken open, and show what happens? More photos of the inside of the barrel, just to see what a bent barrel looks like from the inside. Then I try to shoot the same gun with the same sight setting and note where the pellet now impacts. This last part may be difficult, because the barrel can be bent up so far as to render the gun impossible to aim, so we may have to take this one as it comes.

Second thought — barrel straightening (and bending) jig
I’ve designed a very simple yet (I hope) effective barrel bending jig that can be made by anyone out of common stuff found at a hardware or home improvement store. And it should be able to work on an airgun with no more disassembly than taking the action out of the stock. So, after I bend the barrel of the test rifle, how about I use the homemade jig and (hopefully) bend the barrel straight, again?

Dave Schwesinger (of Air Rifle Specialists) said he used a picnic table to straighten his barrels. Kevin uses a willow tree, so my jig isn’t up against stiff competition for elegance.

If it works, I have a follow-on experiment. I own two breakbarrel springers that both shoot higher than the sights can compensate for, even though I can see no evidence of bent barrels on either one of them. If my jig works, how about I bend their barrels slightly down to get them to the point of aim again? And then conduct an accuracy test (before and after, of course) to see if a bent barrel can be accurate.

We know that bent firearm barrels are not accurate; because as they heat from firing, they “walk” their shots. But airguns don’t heat up as they shoot. Several years, ago Feinwerkbau actually made a 10-meter target pistol with a barrel that wrapped around the CO2 cylinder as a sort of joke. The joke was that pistol is just as accurate as a regular 10-meter pistol — or so says Robert Beeman. Well, if you can do that with a barrel, I think a slight bend won’t hurt. But I’ll test it, of course.

Even twisted in a spiral like this, this FWB C20 barrel still shoots straight. Image courtesy Blue Book Publications, Inc.

Third thought — reflections on the first two
This idea about reporting on airgun barrel bending has been brewing inside me for awhile. But I have some misgivings at the same time. What I don’t want to do with this, or any unusual procedure that I report in this blog, is to start a herd of lemmings all racing to bend their airgun barrels. Maybe 99 percent of you will take what I say with the grain of salt it deserves, but there’s always that lunatic fringe that likes to seize these concepts and race over the edge of the cliff with every new and unnatural thought that comes along.

Back in the 1990s, there was a trend of cutting off springer barrels in the hopes of making them shoot faster. The Cardew book demonstrated that a short barrel is all that’s needed to achieve top velocity in a springers, and the experts went to work quickly to say that any barrel length after the optimum velocity was reached just slowed the pellet back down again. Thousands of great barrels were ruined this way, and I think this is where some of the interest in the hillbilly crown job came about. I don’t want to start another trend like that one!

I don’t want to get the following message a year after I publish my report:

“I want to purchase a Frauhocken 500 breakbarrel air rifle, but I don’t want to build a barrel-bending jig. Can you recommend someone who can bend the barrel for me? It would be nice if the gun could just be shipped to them so they can bend the barrel before I get it. Also, have you ever thought of installing a Nitro Piston made for a Walther Talon Magnum in a Bronco? It seems to me that the Nitro Piston will speed up the Bronco just enough to make it interesting; and with the Bronco’s easy cocking effort, this would be the ideal plinker! Just a thought!”

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

64 thoughts on “B.B. takes a day off!”

  1. Barrel Bending on Airguns.

    First, understand this is not a black art or witchcraft. Factories, even weihrauch have sophisticated barrel bending devices. I would provide a link but it’s late and I’m tired. Know that this is not a technique originated in some airgunners basement or garage. Google it. Barrel bending is done regularly by manufacturers.

    To truly understand my subsequent comment about barrel bending you must understand that I’m at heart a somewhat experienced old rimfire/centerfire guy. From these roots barrel bending never entered our/my? mind since we shoot a longer distances than typical airguns and iron sights/scopes can usually compensate for these longer ranges without lacking or running out of adjustment.

    First, one must understand and acknowledge how relatively short range shooting exacerbates iron and scope requirements.

    For example, the bushnell elite series of scopes, rated for springers, with mil dots, that have been recently been discontinued from production, like the 7-21×40 have 1/4 adjustment with a total of 40moa. Meaning that they have 20 clicks of adjustment for windage (five inches at 100 yards) and 20 clicks of adjustment for elevation (five inches at 100 yards). At an airgun range of 20 yards this equates to a maximum adjustment of one inch for this highly regarded scope.

    Adjustable rings or shimming to compensate are options.

    Adjustable rings are preferred by me on non recoiling guns like pcp’s, ssp’s and msp’s and soft tuned springers (under 12fpe). Beyond these sedate guns I haven’t had much luck with adjustable mounts staying where I put them.

    Shimming, when not dramatic, works but is a trial and error effort that requires multiple dismounts and remounts of your/my scope that is tiresome.

    It’s a forked cottonwood tree that I bend my stubborn springer barrels with and when I resort to this technique I can bend a barrel in about 30 ninutes so that most of my scope range of adjustment is left intact.

    The last thought I will leave you with on barrel bending is that if your gun has a breech block is to bend the barrel independent of the breech block. In other words, don’t apply pressure to the barrel where it meets the block. Isolate and only bend the barrel not where/how it’s fitted.


    • Kevin,

      I have seen the Weihrauch shop and their barrel benders. I’ve also seen barrel bending is most shotgun factories — especially the British ones where there is still a lot of hand-firtting and regulation being done.

      Cottonwood tree, eh? Sorry — I thought it was a willow, but in Colorado a cottonwood makes more sense. My jig will make up for a lack of convenient cottonwood trees, I hope.

      We shall see.


      • BB,

        I’m sure Kevin or I would be able to send you enough seeds to grow yourself many great barrel benders! Some spring days around here we have snow like drifts of the seed bearing “cotton”…

        On another front, I haven’t given up on my Slavia yet. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve for it.


  2. Gee whizz B.B. . You gonna make us wait to find out which gun you are going to pull your mad scientist experiment on ??? The one that Paul deliberately slam fired on one of the American Airgunner episodes would be a good candidate, but it probably has long since become dumpster filling material.


  3. Looks like “Boner of the Week” award goes to …..ME !!!!
    I went out plinking yesterday with one of the R9s. The wind was so squirrely that I should have stayed at home. Speed and direction varied continuously and extremely. The terrain involved buildings, trees, fence lines, anything you could imagine to screw things up. Pretty much impossible to dope for the wind.
    The R9 was still doing better than expected at 30 yds. . After two or three dozen shots, I spotted something…. BOTH mounting screws on the front ring were visibly loose. The rear ring was the only thing holding the scope on. I must have gotten in too big of a hurry when I changed out rings and scopes a little while back.
    Anyway, I tightended it up, and was happy that there was little detectable P.O.I. change that I could determine under the prevailing conditions.
    Then I noticed that the barrel pivot was starting to get a little loose. Needs more wear in time I guess. Tightened that up.
    Now I need a good day to fine zero it.


    • TT,

      You get the “Boner of the Week” award? Well, I get the “Boner of the Year” award.

      I just discovered — partly thanks to you — that I did something so stupid that you guys will be talking about it for years.

      And you spotted it first!

      Talk about it next week.


      • B.B.

        A side note…

        I guess that this little oversight also makes a good endorsement for the rings that I use on most of my springers. These are the cheap Accushots I think (about 10 bucks). Have no-slip tape and a stop pin.
        When I install a scope, I put fine pencil lines on the scope right in front and in back of both rings so I can see if the scope seems to be slipping. No slipping was indicated, but it don’t take much !

        There is one thing to watch out for….
        The tape seems to squeeze down overnight. The cap screws need to be torqued again the next day. Don’t try to get a fine zero right away. Check the torque at least two or three different days until the ring tightness (caps) gets stabilized.

        Another thing…
        Put thread locker on the stop pin when installing the rear ring. I have had the stop pin loosen up and allow the rings to move a little.


      • So TT gets an “Attaboy” from you, BB. As the saying goes, a thousand “Attaboys” proves you to be a leader of men and a fine judge of good whiskey. However, one “phooey” (keeping this G rated) negates all those “attaboys” and you have to start over, TT.

        Am looking forward to this series of articles but even more so, BB, bringing the FWB 124 down to Roanoke (health permitting but I’m sure all will be fine) for your’s and Mac’s opinion and suggestions on re-aligning it’s barrel.

        Finally, it looks like I’m starting to improve in one handed, 25 yd target shooting as I upped my score by almost 30 points from last week to this week. However, I’m still about 100 points below the top shooters.

        Fred DPRoNJ

        • On another note, during the match this week, I realized the grips on my pistol were loose. I couldn’t tighten them up during the match due to time constraints and so had to complete the match with the loose grips. Now that I’ve tightened them up, I wonder if my groups will as well?

          Fred DPRoNJ

      • BB,

        How you candidly talk about your “mistakes” is very much part of the charm of you blog. In fact there weren’t mistakes at all but learning opportunities for all of us. Thanks for sharing.


    • While I have yet to try it, the owner of an airgun shop in Cleveland told me that he preferred rosin
      for all the screws over loctite. He had a reason, but I’ll be darned if I can remember it.

      Being made out of pine sap it reminds me of the Green Suave my Dads relatives were famous for.
      The exact ingredients were a secret, but you could definitely smell pine.
      Originally made for sores on horses, it worked so well they sold it for use on humans. As a kid I never understood why it was such a hush hush product, with the transaction conducted like I drug deal.
      Any visit down home would always include a stop for a few tins.

      Seemed to work fine, and it was all the old man would use on cuts, you never saw him spraying Bactine on a wound. Alias, it is long gone along with it makers with the last batch cooked up in the late 1960’s. Not sure what those poor folks in Appalachia use now.

      If you watch closely, I think in one frame of the Hatfields and McCoys can see tin of Green Suave in the background.

      • Volvo….

        Depends on which screws and how much trouble I am having keeping them tight.
        I use the plastic thread locking goop on the scope stop screws. The other scope screws get nothing.
        The stock to action screws get the same goop unless they still have trouble. Then they get the blue loctite.
        Interesting thing….
        When I was first trying to get my 97 to stay together (terrible vibration) nothing worked. After finally getting the vibration fixed (and on a couple others too) I found that my old loctite which I suspected to have gone bad had to go. I got a new tube. It works fine.


  4. {This is a blind post — before I’ve read the chronological comments — and may duplicate some thoughts}

    Regarding that (Are you sure it isn’t April 1) target pistol. Any idea of what the rate of twist in the rifling was relative to the spiral of the barrel? I’m wondering it it may not have kept the pellet locked to the curvature through the spiral (that is, once it entered the spiral, the same point on the pellet was always facing the center of the helix — the air-tank). That would seem to minimize pellet distortion

      • Raccoons walk on their hands…

        Revered silver-back gorillas walk on their knuckles…

        Hmmm… 1:16 — I don’t think the helix added enough length to make up 16 inches. Pellet must be getting flexed like a motorized Barbie doll with a hula hoop…

        {Speaking of Barbie — or more properly, Vanna White… I just realized Vanna White and George Jetson have the same job — they spend all day pushing buttons}

    • {Talking to myself}

      Something coagulated this morning — maybe a result of catching segments of some PBS show (Great Scenic Railways, or some such)…

      There may be less pellet distortion than I initially thought.

      Target pellets ride the barrel at the front and rear; the narrow waist would provide clearance over the inside of the curved barrel.


  5. Whoever sent you that message. Was an idiot.
    Also This is the second time I tried to post this comment. It said I put in the wrong phrase. 9+5=14. Well, appairantly not…

  6. Wow, that barrel bending sounds really cool. I’m thinking of ordering a long one for my 1377 and bending it until I can shoot behind me. Though I guess one would have to duck really fast, but it would be neat to show that guy down the street who never returned my power drill…just have to make sure I stand in front of him.

    Speaking of that “popular airgun” you mentioned with the peep sight, the limiting factor now seems to be my eyesight. My glasses make the front sight clear, but the target is too blurry, and without them the front sight is blurred. Going to try a lower diopter lens to see if that gives a good middle ground.

    • Gerry,

      Boy, do I know the eyes thing you describe. When I first got diabetes that was undiagnosed, I became dehydrated over a period of several months and could not focus on the front sight, which is all-important. I had to find reading glasses that focused for me, and when I did I was able to shoot well again.

      Not seeing the target clear is a problem everyone has. Unless it is gross. you can usually forget that one, as the sights will take care of it for you.


    • BB, agreed, but the degree of problem depends partly on the target. With my printed practice targets having a small black dot there’s no issue. But, the standard competition targets have a much larger black bull. If that is too badly out of focus I can’t hold the front sight on the center. I just can’t tell when it’s really dead on.

      • Gerry!!!!

        You have told me the problem! You are trying to aim at the CENTER of a black target. You can’t do it, and neither can anyone else.

        What you need to do is use a 6 o’clock hold. Then you can have a perfect sight picture.

        That is the way all long-range riflemen aimed until about 1876. The tiny front post and bead were placed under the edge of the bull and splendid results were achieved.

        Balance the black bull on top of the post or bead of your front sight. That is a 6 o’clock hold.

        Try it. Don’t be concerned about where the pellet go at first. Just see how small a group you can shoot.


      • BB, nope. When I aim at the “center” I AM using a 6 o’clock hold. With a small black bull there’s a small blurry area I can ignore. But with a larger bull I can’t get it as well. One of the factors that comes into this is movement. Unless the rifle is locked down, there will always be some movement. Yes, I know the techniques here. With a small bull I can see when I’ve settled down enough to shoot, but can’t as well with the large bull, as I’m looking at the front sight moving under a large blur just above it.

        Yes, it will always be somewhat blurred, but just a little less should do it. The Bronco’s got a great trigger, so it’s down to movement. Even with a natural aim point, breathing control and good hold, your movement will vary while taking aim. Some articles talk about a 6-second window but I’ve found it better to just wait until I see more calm. If not, I’ll just relax a second then start again.

        • The more I concern myself with tiny movements and my state of mind, the harder things get as if I were chasing my tail. Try the Gordian Knot method. Approach, hold sight picture for a slight pause, squeeze and follow-through, come what may. You might throw a few. But once your mind realizes who is boss and that you will have one chance and one chance only, then you will focus and the Jaws of the Subconscious will appear and get your shots on target.


        • Ah, but now you’re getting too existential for me. I had tried that before as you described (without the Jaws), but when I switched to a scope at 10m and added some patience, I could see a quieter time actually followed and waiting for that helped more than anything else at this point. It literally cut my group size almost in half. If those glasses help a little more, I’m pretty happy with my progress shooting the Bronco from a rest. Next comes the fun from a standing position.

          Of course, other people may find their best timing somewhat different. It’s just much faster to find that out by using a scope and just looking at the movement, then it is by taking dozens of shots.

          On your advice in general, bear in mind that I read nearly six years of your archives when I was getting started last year. So you’ve provided the starting point that I’m just fine tuning now.

          OTOH, I think I’ve hit the limit on the P17 pistol and it’s fair but not good enough. But, I’ve had so much fun with the inexpensive Bronco that I just ordered a better pistol from pyramyd, in addition to a williams sight for my 1377, as a backup plan.

          Now, if I could just hit the limit on my Bronco when shooting, I’d be one happy guy.

          • Actually that’s a good point, Desertdweller, though it depends on the lighting and target color or shade. I think it can help or hurt. I tried that with the pistol initially, but removed it when I increased the lighting on the target.

            But, when BB brought up the 6 o’clock hold, I was thinking of my pistol with a front post. Though both that and the rifle have the same focus/movement issue, my Bronco has the Mendoza peep sight. There you are looking to center the bull (if using the standard large aperture) and that becomes more difficult if it’s too badly blurred.

            Yes, I know that BB said he will be soon telling us more stuff he learned about using that sight, but I think this still applies, unless you’ve got younger eyes.

            • You make a good point, and it would depend on the color of the target. I have a target model Bronco and shoot Shoot-N-C targets, which have a black face and red aim point in the center of the bull’s eye. With the stock factory front post, I found it almost impossible to get a good 6 O’clock hold on the aim point, because the black post would disappear against the black target. I fixed that by painting the post white.

              Now, if I were shooting white-faced targets, the black post would probably work better.

              The Bronco is the only air rifle I shoot that is not scoped. At 25 yards, it shoots as accurately as my scoped guns.


  7. Hello all a bit (OK totally) off topic.
    I’m on the eastern coast of Maine for the week-end. I couldn’t order anything from PA because it was a last minute trip.
    The eastern coast of Maine meand 2 things for me: the BIG Scarborough Cabela’s and the Kittery Trading Post. Cabela’s didn’t have much I didn’t already have or wanted BUT the Kittery Trading Post!!!
    I didn’t buy anything but I was finally able to grope and fondle the Marauder pistol and rifle. MAN these guns are great! The rifle looked huge but was a lot lighter than I expected and that sweet, sweet pistol… I was also able to shoulder a Talon, Condor and Korean rifle. Maybe it’s not that bad I don’t have access to all of those easily (some not at all) I would be broke.

    I would really like a Marauder pistol and rifle. It seems they would make a awesome combo.


    • J-F,

      I remember dealing with Kittery when I was at AirForce. They were our biggest dealer after Pyramyd at one time. They listened to what we told them and sold the guns on the basis of performance, which set well with their customers.

      I’ve never been to their store, but from your description, it sounds like a great place.


    • Ahh, stop it. That’s my favorite rifle you’re talking about. But since the pistol can be turned into a carbine, would you really need both? . . . “Oh reason not the need.” –King Lear


    • That is a good example. I love what the seller says about the gun. “A nice air-rifle with great potential.” Potential for what? Parts? It might be OK if you get it for $6.00!


    • B.B.,

      Perfect example of triggering off a break barrel while the barrel is open. With these photo’s it doesn’t seem necessary for you to ruin one of your guns as you suggested, “And then how about I intentionally fire the gun with the barrel broken open, and show what happens?” Not sure you could make your point about the benefits of bending a barrel with a cracked stock on your gun.

      I appreciate your willingness to sacrifice one of your airguns for the sake of teaching us on the blog. However, since you have two “breakbarrel springers that both shoot higher than the sights can compensate for, even though I can see no evidence of bent barrels on either one of them” it seems adequate to bend the barrel on one of them and be able to shoot it before and after with the stock still intact for your proposed barrel bending experiment.


      • Kevin,

        Thanks for thinking of me. The gun I will use is one I’ve been asked to destroy, and I agreed to destroy it. It isn’t one of my good guns. It’s a sample with unsafe features that we don’t want getting back into the market.

        As long as I’m destroying it, why not let it serve some useful purpose before it goes?

        On the other hand, I will track that airgun on Gun Broker, and if it doesn’t get too high, I will buy it, too. I’d love to have a gun that I could examine without knowing for sure what happened to it. Also, it’s a Diana 35. With the right repairs, it could be turned back into a nice airgun, again. It wouldn’t be worth the expense, but for me the value comes from documenting the journey.


        • B.B.,

          Okay. An airgun already sentenced to death. Now it makes sense.

          Your willingness to buy that Diana 35 is just more evidence of your fearlessness. The price is already too high for me since I can imagine what the inside of that gun looks like based on what bubba did to repair the stock. I see a boat anchor not an airgun 🙂


  8. My compensation for lack of technical skill and daring is a reverential attitude toward guns when they are in working order. So, the idea of purposely bending a gun barrel by whatever means makes me shudder. I will say that is an astounding photo of the FWB pistol with the bent barrel. I would never dream that the gun could shoot, let alone up to the FWB standards. Now tell us what would happen to a firearm built like that. 🙂 I understand that there was a hooked barrel attachment for the M3 Grease gun for shooting around corners, but it wore out after a few shots.

    Duskwight, are you reproducing the Whiscombe at a cheaper price or trying out some new things? The reengineering of something complicated into a simpler and cheaper form would be quite an achievement by itself. One element of the genius of the AK, I believe, is in the simplicity of manufacture. The Garand, for example, was incredibly difficult to make with a very complicated system of heat treatment and some problems that experts thought were not solvable until John C. Garand himself designed the tooling to do it. But the AK which borrows a number of features of the Garand like its long-stroke piston, trigger group, and rock in magazine (like the M14) can apparently be produced in your local blackmith’s shop and is even more reliable than the Garand.

    PeteZ, yeah that plastic flechette idea is pretty gross. Yes, I suppose the fast battleships were like the clipper ships–a culmination and terminus at the same time. But I wonder if the gun platform idea wasn’t outmoded long before. WWI showed that you cannot blast people out of fortifications. Surface warfare was already passe with the battle of Coral Sea, and despite the massive bombardments of Japanese islands in the Pacific, I don’t know that they made any difference at all. I’m surprised that the Vietnamese were so affected by the battleships since they were at least the equal of the Japanese in tunneling and fortifying themselves underground.

    Something that gives me pause is that all the vulnerability that you ascribe to battleships seems to apply equally to our supercarriers which are the heart of our fleet. For all their use, sea-borne airplanes are insufficient to stop nukes or even conventional anti-ship missiles of the kind that you hear China producing. The Kamikazes created near unsustainable losses on carrier fleets in WWII and you wonder how much more that ballistic missiles can do (of which the Kamikazes were primitive examples). There was an expose some years ago of how all of our carriers were wiped out in some Cold War simulation but the results were fudged by the Navy brass who had a huge ideological commitment to supercarriers. Gives me the creeps. I hope some Defense Department genius has figured this out.


    • Matt,

      Not exactly on both 🙂
      On the one hand the system is very much reminiscent of fixed-barrel Whiscombe: overall architectire, cocking, loading and synchronization principles. My first sketches were a direct copy of JW. Then, I guess, sketch v.3.2 began to deviate from that into the side of ease of manufacture and overall simpler construction. I can tell that v.1-3.1 were all just studying the theme and understanding how things work. V.4 was testing my own thinking. Mk.0 which is under construction now is a derivative of v.5.2 sketch with some elements reworked in the process.
      On the other – Mk. 0 is largely different from its inspirational model. Differences are: the system itself is adapted for gas springs, pistons are made for being gripped from the side, toothed pushers are free-floating, cocking is made single-stage, short thick barrel, different trigger system, different safety, different piston interceptor (system to prevent accidental discharge with cocking lever opened), larger swept volume, different rail for optics (Picatinny) and so on. I contemplated upon making it simpler bolt-loading (Izh-60 type) but my pride could not handle it 🙂
      And, of course, it’s tad cheaper and simpler than JW. Mk. 1 will be even more so and weigh _less_ for I overdid on rough and tough side for Mk.0. Well it’s just a testbed, a technology demonstrator after all.


  9. PeteZ, on a more positive note about battleships. I read that some new American battleships (not Iowa class but close) were ready in time for some of the surface battles around Guadalcanal. One of them, I believe it was the U.S.S. Washington, freaked out the Japanese by taking several direct hits and speeding up!


    • The USS Washington sunk the Japanese Kirishima. Kirishima was a battlecruiser that had been converted to a fast battleship. It did not carry radar and was lost in a night action.

      USS South Dakota allowed Kirishima to lock onto it with searchlights, while the two battleships slugged it out in a 16″ gun duel. South Dakota was getting the worst of the exchange, and actually lost electrical power during the battle. The Japanese ship, while lacking gunlaying radar, was equipped with excellent night optics and a crew that was proficient in night actions.

      While these two ships fought it out, South Dakota’s sister Washington approached on Kirishima’s off side, painting Kirishima with radar. Undetected and unopposed, Washington plastered Kirishima at close range with 16″ shells. Kirishima went down before it could react.

      An account of the action, and fragments of Kirishima’s 16″ shells, are on display in the Robinson Museum in Pierre, SD.


        • Yes. You do not want to allow your opponent to have a “fair fight”. Engagements between equal forces are sometimes unavoidable, but are not to be preferred.

          In the Battle of Midway, both sides worked very hard to catch the other by surprise. This is a battle certainly worth studying if you are interested at all in such things. The Americans were able to use surprise to defeat a much superior force. Japanese Naval Doctrine was based on the idea of luring the American Navy out into a “Decisive Battle” near or in Japanese Home Waters, and defeating them (hey, it worked against the Russians in 1905, didn’t it?).

          The Japanese knew the USN was crippled after the Pearl Harbor Attack. The Battle of the Coral Sea stopped the plan to invade Australia, but was pretty much a draw with no clear winner. Midway Island was ostensibly the objective, but was really the bait. The Japanese knew it would be very difficult to hold if captured. But they knew the Americans would have to react to an attack on it, and could lose their remaining naval strength in doing so.

          The Japanese devised an elaborate plan that would destroy the USN in the Pacific if all went to plan.
          Virtually the entire Japanese Navy was committed in an operation that covered the entire Central Pacific. The plan required the USN to act exactly as expected. As we know, it did not co-operate.

          At the end of the battle, the Japanese Navy still held the edge over the USN in all categories of ships except for heavy fleet aircraft carriers. But not all of their carriers were committed to the operation, and many that were were not subjected to attack. The Japanese Navy still grossly outnumbered the Americans after the battle, and could have defeated the USN if they had a battle plan that allowed for regrouping of forces in case of an unexpected defeat of the units initially committed. That contingency plan did not exist, it would have meant admitting the possibility of defeat. So three US carriers sunk four Japanese carriers with a loss of one of their own. Japanese fleet train (support) ships were not in the locations they would have to be for another day’s fighting. The Americans were down to two carriers and a few cruisers, no battleships. The carriers’ supplies of fuel and ammunition were depleted, all the un-engaged Japanese ships were fresh except for fuel. The Japanese went home when the USN had almost nothing left to fight with.


    • The USS Washington (BB-56) was semi-new construction, ordered in 1937 and commissioned in May, 1941, so considerably older than the four Iowa-class ships. USS North Carolina was her sister ship and lead ship of the two BB class.

      USS South Dakota (BB-57) was marginally newer, being commissioned 20 March 1942. BB-56 and BB-57 are *not* sister ships (see the Wikipedia articles). The South Dakota is somewhat smaller in length than the Washington but about the same in beam. The Washington could do 28 knots; the SD only 27.8 kn. I suspect that the battle with the Kirishima was the first and last time a 16″ gun BB engaged another battleship directly, but I could be forgetting something about Leyte Gulf.

      Matt61, yes, absolutely. The big CVNs are at least as vulnerable as a large surface combatant. One might well argue that the CIWS (Phalanx) anti-air and anti-cruise missile system is so good it compensates for that large flat target called a flight deck. The air cap supposedly provides vastly better anti-aircraft protection than anything available on a battleship. And, of course, the Aegis/Standard Missile weapon system on the escort vessels is very good.

      All that being said, there is a strong argument for building 2x as many 65000 ton CVNs as 90000 ton ships, simply because of Lanchester’s Equations regarding combat power and aimed fire. It is a great deal harder for an adversary to knock out two flight decks simultaneously than to get one. And it is a true convenience to the air crews to have one surviving and operational flight deck on a smaller ship than none on a larger but sunken one. Only a Harrier can land on the ocean, and it cannot then take off afterwards. 😉

      With modern design you can probably build two smaller CVNs and man and operate them for about the same cost as one big ship. The Navy will say “… ah, but it’s the cost of the full-up carrier battle group to accompany each one.” To which I will counter: do not have two battle groups. Operate the two carriers in one battle group. That’s certainly what we did in WW2.

      Kamikazes are nothing but very smart cruise missiles with terminal maneuvering capability. I tend to agree with your arguments, but the Navy clearly does not. Some carrier admirals even go so far as to argue that the sheer size of a CVN is its greatest asset because it provides more forward “presence.” While there’s some truth to that, I defy anybody to tell the difference between 65000 and 90000 tons without an identification chart unless they are real naval buffs, and as far as showing the flag and demonstrating that the US has reached the point of pulling the trigger, the smaller air group will do just as well as the larger one!

      As to gunfire support: the point in VN wasn’t knocking out fortifications. It was engaging enemy artillery and formations, and that role is perfectly valid today. And as for whether you can blast people out of fortifications, you’re off by at least half a century. The Battle of Petersburg, VA in the Civil War showed that it is essentially impossible to take a well defended fortification by frontal assault (see the Battle of the Crater).

      Gotta get some sleep.


      • Only a Harrier can land on the ocean, and it cannot then take off afterwards.


        Never played the Amiga version of F/A-18, have you…

        Hearsay is that one COULD land the F/A-18 on the SF Bay. I’ve also heard reports of hovering, nose down, over SF (climb to max ceiling, nose over, reduce thrust to ZERO, and the plane would stop).

        I managed to get credit for a successful mission once because the engine spun down to zero… I’d bounced off the carrier deck such that the jet was balanced on main gear and arresting hook, nose up… as soon as the engine spun up the nose fell and counted as a crash.

        Game had lots of flaky logic… Air-to-air missiles that would make two or three passes before running out of fuel. Yes, one could jink to have a heat-seeker miss one, and then watch it pull a 360 loop to come back. Not even an AMRAAM should be able to do that.

        Target locks were also a problem… One mission was to disable a “submersible aircraft carrier” (!)… I came in at about 60 feet at the conning tower, fired Sidewinders with the targeting system OFF — then turned on the rader (which acted as a 360 azimuthal system, not the realistic alt-az off the nose — which is the only reason one could dodge those looping missiles as they snuck up)… Hit target lock on the first MiG behind me… And watched the heat-seeker I’d launched pull a vertical 180 and take out the MiG!

        • Well,

          Are you suggesting that video games reproduce the actions of A/C accurately enough to say that what happens in a home game *is* what would really happen?? I must be mis reading.

          Les, I think you’re giving the IJNavy far too much credit and the USN far too little for Midway!

          Yamamoto-San loved set-piece battles with many moving and dancing parts. Do read the current standard work on Midway, ‘Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway’ by J. Parshall and A. Tully. After the battle the IJN had no carriers closer than Alaska, Dutch Harbor being oh so important. The USN had two undamaged CVs near at hand with fleet oilers to refuel and other supply vessels for unrep. While Yamamoto-San had battleships, they were two days away. Had Spruance refueled and then given chase the remainder of Admiral Nagumo’s remaining screen would have been sunk or heavily damaged before the Main Body cculd have played a role. And the MB would not have had air cover.

          And the US had land based air as well at Midway.

          Ocean-wide the IJN outnumbered the USN, but all that counts are the forces close enough to be in the battle. There the USN was superior.

          Midway had been decided when Joe Rochefort did his decrypts. And the battle that doomed the imperial Japanese Navy was Pearl Harbor. Japan forced the USA to go to war, got rid of our oldest and worst surface combatants so we could rebuild without worrying about “sunk costs” (pun deliberate).

          • I know the F/A-18 game had behavior that real-world can’t reproduce. It was just the quirk of your comment about a Harrier being able to land on water…

            {That game also allowed launching missiles while sitting on the runway; in real-life the missile would have dragged on the pavement before the engine ignited}

            {F-16 Falcon also had some flaws. Supposedly in the original version, if one ejected from max ceiling (70,000 ft?), while inverted, one died from bashing their head on the ground — apparently no logic existed to “right” the ejection seat attitude over 10 miles of altitude. In all other respects, F-16 Falcon was a mini-training simulator — I believe the makers were associated with an actual simulator development}

        • Wulfraed,

          Pete Z’s comments not withstanding, I think you make a helluva pilot! I am disappointed that you never succeeded in hovering an F/A 18 nose down, however. 🙂

          Pete, I love reading the stories about the Naval engagements in the Pacific of WW II. Task Force Taffy was such a couragous battlegroup.

          Fred DPRoNJ

  10. Pete,

    The Washington and South Dakota were not sisters in the same class, but were very close. I think both classes were built trying to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty, so although they were equipped with 16″ guns, they were not fully protected against 16″ shell fire. I think this explains the trouble South Dakota had. Electrical conduits were not well-enough protected. When a battleship loses electrical power, it is pretty much mission-killed.

    I have visited (as museum ships) Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Alabama, and they all appear alike to me. I have also heard South Dakota took a direct hit from a 500lb. bomb on the roof of one of the main turrets, suffering no damage at all.

    Massachusetts engaged Jean Bart at Dakar. Jean Bart was not finished, but employed her two operable 14.96″ guns against Massachusetts to good effect. Interior damage from this, in the form of gouges in the armored barbette of a main turret can still be seen.

    I agree with Pete about the practicality of two smaller CVN’s verses one big one. These ships are big and vulnerable, virtually unarmored. They depend totally on their own defensive systems, their air groups and escorts for protection. I think the most dangerous weapon they would face would be a nuclear torpedo. Just one could take out an entire battle group. The ships that survive the blast would be effectively mission killed by the loss of their radar and communications gear. Carriers that survived would, in addition, have to cope with warped and damaged flight decks and inoperable catapults due to overpressure on the flat exposed surfaces. Vertical takeoff aircraft might be able to be launched if they could somehow be brought up to the flight deck. Any sitting on the deck at the time of the blast would be crushed. I would not expect any elevators (plane or ammunition) to remain workable. Maybe Tilley cranes could be spotted around the plane elevator openings and wench VTOL aircraft to the flight deck. Or maybe, with the plane elevators down, they could take off directly from the hanger deck.

    USN carriers, with their practice of using the flight deck for aircraft parking, would be especially vulnerable to this type of attack. The best way to protect these planes would be to get as many in the air as possible, and get the rest in the hanger.

    The last, best use for battleships was to use them as offensive shore bombardment monitors. They could deliver more tonnage of ordinance in less time than any aircraft, at least risk to their crews. With 16″ guns, they could fire on shore targets incapable of responding, and could do so until their magazines were depleted. With cruise missiles, they could attack targets even farther inland. I think their undoing were the age of their hulls and their massive crew requirements. I think the situation may still exist for a modern battleship in this context. It could be a key player in battle group defense in addition to its shore attack capability. Modern equipment could reduce crew requirements.

    Consider a battleship designed as an expanded AGEIS cruiser. Full surface-to-air missile capability, surface to surface missile capability (maybe a supersonic successor to the Tomahawk), 16″ guns for applying tonnage quickly, nuclear power plant.

    Two smaller carriers in each combat group would provide redundancy. Actually, these ships already exist in the form of “amphibious assault ships”. These ships, although the name might conjour up images of LST’s, are actually carriers of Essex-class proportions with a floodable internal dock for launching landing craft. They are built to handle VTOL aircraft, mainly helicopters, but could take Harrier-type planes as well. I know you know this better than I, Pete, but maybe other readers are interested.


    • We’re in close to total agreement except you forgot source region EMP unless I’m just too tired. You have to include thos effects. Get the air group in the air or lose it against a nuclear foe.

      Hee! Hee! I’ ve been on board an amphib assault ship. Under the flight deck at the bow is the Marines’ exercise and climate chamber. It has huge steam lines coming in and various odd mechanisms. Just off the stern she’s got large trunks filled with fancy cables. In a matter of a couple of weeks or less she can have two to four complete steam catapults installed and a full set of arresting gear.

      I don’t know whom we’re fooling; maybe the Congress.

      The Brits and French used ski jump bows to avoid cats, but their previous classes of CVs could switch to ordinary planes with the strap on of a couple of jato bottles.

      Not a hell of a lot about air rifles here. I DID get to try designing liquid propellant guns, but like everybody else, I failed.

      G’nite and good luck,

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