Sunday, December 26, 2010
AEK-919 submachine gun was developed at the Kovrov Mechanical Plant in the mid-1990s for Russian Army and special law-enforcement forces. Initial design was based on Austrian Steyr MPi-69 submachine gun, and was not withouth a certain flaws. After initial testings design was improved - overall lenght was decreased, cross-bolt safety switch was replaced by the rotating fire selector/safety swithch; ergonomics also was improved. Resulting design was named AEK-919K "Kashtan" and probably is used in small numbers by different special forces of the Russian Army and Law Enforcement units.
AEK-919K is a simple blowback operated, selective fire submachine gun. It featured a "sleeved" bolt which, in forward position, encloses the rear part of the barrel. AEK-919K is fired from the open bolt, and fed from the two-column magazines that hold 20 or 30 rounds. Receiver is made from the stamped steel, pistol grip with triggerguard and a heatshield are made from the plastic. Cocking handle is located at the left side of the receiver and does not move when gun is fired. AEK-919K featured an "L"-shaped open rear sights marked for 50 and 100 meters distance, it also can be equipped with laser aiming device and "red dot" sight. Barrel of the AEK-919K featured polygonal rifling and threaded muzzle, so a silencer can be quickly installed if required. Retractable stock is made from the steel, with rubberised buttplate.
AEK-919K is a compact and handy firerarm, and the only drawback i found when holding that gun at one of the exhibitions is in the placement of the safety/selector switch. When gun is in the "safe" mode, it is almost impossible to switch the gun into "fire" mode withouth the weak (non-firing) hand or withouth rotating the gun in the palm. In all other respects AEK-919K is reported to be accurate, reliable and comfortable to fire, even from off-hands. A currently advertised along with AEK-919K "red dot" sight is a little bit cumbersome but it allows for much faster target aquisition; any other, more compaqct "red dot" sight also can be installed withouth getting into much (if any) trouble.
Caliber: 9x18mm Makarov
Weight: 1.65 kg with empty 20 rounds magazine
Lenght (stock closed/open): 325 / 485 mm
Barrel lenght: 167 mm
Rate of fire: 900 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds
Effective range: 100 meters
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The USNS Comfort, a converted oil supertanker, has provided just that to many since her inception in 1987.
The USNS Comfort is one of two hospital ships in the Mercy-class maintained by the United States Navy. Hospital ships in service with the USN were originally assigned two mission sets that continue to this day: firstly, they serve as a large, mobile floating medical facility that provides surgical acute care in support of US military forces when operating in hostile theaters; secondly, their mission is to serve as a floating hospital for use by a number of government-supported agencies in assistance to victims of natural disasters while also providing international humanitarian relief. Comfort makes her home in port at Baltimore, Maryland, while her sister ship, USNS Mercy, is docked on the West Coast.
Comfort was originally built as an oil super tanker in 1976 in San Diego, California, and christened the SS Rose City. When purchased and delivered to the US Navy in 1987, instead of being used as an oil tanker, she was put into the yard and converted to a hospital ship as the second of such in the Mercy-class. The ship is adorned with large red crosses to distinctly and obviously paint her purpose while protecting her crew and human cargo against attack in hostile situations. The Geneva Convention protects such hospital ships if they carry no munitions or weapons and any country that fires on them is charged with an international war crime.
Comfort has a deep draft and, in many ports, she has to stand offshore at least a mile. To receive wounded, Comfort has a large day-and-night helo pad designed to receive one helicopter at a time, a bonus for accepting patients at any time but a negative for accepting patients in any number. Despite the onboard helipad, no helicopters are stationed on the Mercy-class ships - another minus to its design. However, she can land such large types as the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the Sikorsky CH-53D, the Sikorsky CH-53E, the Sikorsky MH-53E, and the Russian Mil MI-17 helicopters on her pad. The ship also has the ability to also receive patients from other ships docked alongside her though not while out at sea.
The heart of the ship is her 12 operating rooms and 1,000 beds that support the many different required levels of care. Five hundred beds are designated for minimal case needs, a further four hundred are for intermediate cases and twenty reserved for surgical recovery and a further eighty for intensive care patients. Comfort can receive and care for 200 patients per day. The number of and types of injuries of patients coming onboard sometimes require a reshuffle of the bed arrangements depending on the injuries. Surgeries while underway is difficult at best though the Comfort was specifically designed with a large rounded hull some 894 feet long , 106 feet wide and weighing 69,360 tons. This makes her a stable platform for most medical procedures.
She is a complete medical facility that even includes a dental clinic, four x-ray machines and a CT scanner. A pair of oxygen-producing plants, an optometry lab and coolers to hold 5,000 units of blood are all part of her tool box - Comfort is a hospital that can sustain up to 2,000 people onboard, crew combined with patients, and supply much-needed water to both as she maintained a fresh water plant making up to 300,000 gallons of water a day. Other onboard services include a satellite lab and a central area for sterile causality receiving. A medical supply depot, along with a well-stocked pharmacy, are all included. Due to the nature of her work she has a large laundry operations and her own morgue.
Her one major drawback is patient movement within the ship's walls. Originally built as an oil tanker, the bulk heads used to separate the oil were left in place and her refit did not include hatches between them. Most of the movement of patients from one area of the ship to another must be made by moving the patients up to the main deck and then moving them down into other parts of the ship instead of using horizontal hallways forward to aft.
Once she is called to duty in a given area, her activation time is five days. Considering she requires a modest skeleton crew to receive a full medical emergency and the merchant marine staff need to be situated and all supplies filled, this is something of a tall order.
On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti, laying waste to the capital city of Port of Prince. As of this writing, the country more or less is functioning without a government in place and the Red Cross has estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 people have died. Tens of thousands remain injured and an international search continues for people who may be alive (and those dead) in the rubble.
The USNS Comfort left her home port at 6:31pm EST on January 16th, 2010, and began receiving the seriously injured from Haitian shores on the 19th, this by helicopter transport. Comfort docked at Haiti on January 20th, 2010, one day earlier than expected.
Comfort has had a long career and served in war and peace around the world.
Operation Desert Storm
Stationed near Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1990, Comfort saw 8,700 patients. Her deck saw 2,100 helicopter landings and her 12 operating rooms preformed 337 surgeries. Her kitchens served 800,000 meals for the crew and patients alike. She received the Kuwait Liberation medal and Combat Action Ribbon for her service.
Operation Uphold Democracy
In 1994, during internal unrest, Comfort was sent to Haiti - not as a hospital but as a processing center for migrants. Instead of extra doctors, she boarded civilian personnel to ID and process Haitian migrants. Arriving in June that year she took on 1,100 people of which 400 were transported to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Later on that year, Comfort returned to Haiti as a hospital to receive casualties from the continued unrest and returned to her home port in October 1994.
Operation Noble Eagle
On September 12, 2001 Comfort left for New York due to the terrorist attack on 9/11. She docked at pier 92 in Manhattan on 9/14. During her stay, 541 relief workers were seen for their many injuries including respiratory ailments that proved deadly to many years later. Navy personnel provided mental counseling and local massage therapists provided services to the workers. For this action Comfort received the Navy Unit Commendation medal.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Comfort was ordered to the Persian Gulf in December 2002 to support the upcoming Iraq action. Comfort was on station for six months and provided care for military personnel and Iraqi civilians. Surgeons treated 700 patients (US military and enemy prisoners) needing almost 600 surgeries. Comfort received the Southwest Asia Service medal.
Joint Task Force Katrina
With only a 2-day preparation, Comfort left Baltimore for the Gulf Coast to aid the injured as related to Hurricane Katrina. Between the target sites in Mississippi and New Orleans, Comfort treated 2,000 patients and remained in the area for medical aid for seven weeks after. The National Defense Medal was awarded for her service.
Operation Continuing Promise
A need for a humanitarian mission was seen in South America. In 2007, President Bush sent Comfort to steam to 12 nations in Central and South America and in the Caribbean. This would be the most ambitious health care mission Comfort had been sent on at the time. Many of the visited countries had poor health facilities for the local people and free medical care was appreciated. The medical teams saw 98,000 patients needing 1,100 surgeries. Operation Smile was a part of the main operation seeing 25,000 men, women and children needing some 4,000 fillings and 20,000 fluoride treatments. The American people were asked to donate and $200,000 dollars was collected and donated to the patients in the name of the American people.
2010 Haitian Earthquake
The Comfort received word to ready for her mission to Haiti - her most difficult assignment to date. She left Baltimore on January 16th and arrived on Wednesday January 20th, 2010, a day earlier than expected. As of this writing, her crew has started treating the first of thousands of expected causalities. It will be Comfort's and her crew's greatest challenge. The Red Cross indicates up to 200,000 are dead and some 2,000,000 are now left homeless.
The Navy Department has reviewed the possibility that the Comfort and the Mercy will be retired. In 2004 Vice Adm. Cowan said, "They were designed in the 70's, built in the 80's and, frankly, they are absolute". Regardless, her mission today remains the same - Comfort continues to go where she is ordered to treat those in need of medical aid.
Monday, December 20, 2010
The PP-90 represents the abortive attempt to copy the concept (and probably some design ideas) from unsuccessful American Ares FMG (Folding Machine Gun) weapon, produced by Ares Defense company in mid-1980s. PP-90 had been developed in early 1990s by KBP design bureau in Tula, otherwise known for highly efficient and successful weapons, from submachine guns and up to tank and naval guns. Both Ares FMG and its PP-90 clone were intended for concealed carry, and folded down to relatively compact, plain looking metal box. When needed, these guns were to be unfolded into ready to fire position in 3 - 4 seconds. I'm not sure about Ares FMG, but the PP-90 became a failure - resulting design was somewhat unreliable and totally uncomfortable. Initially issued to some police and security forces in Russia, this gun now destined to collect dust in farthest corners of the armory rooms, due its terrible ergonomics and poor handling characteristics.
Caliber: 9x18mm PM
Weight: 1.83 kg w/o magazine
Length: 485 mm in ready to fire position; folds down to 270 X 90 X 32 mm (length X height X width) box
Rate of fire: 600 - 800 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Effective range: 50 meters
The PP-90 is entirely made from stamped steel, and folds around the point just behind the barrel breech face. PP-90 is a blowback operated, automatic only weapon (selective fired in PP-90M1 version).
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The Kedr submachine gun had been originally designed by the Evgenij Dragunov (the designer of famous SVD sniper rifle) in the early 1970s as the PP-71, on request from Soviet Army. But then project was shelved and revived only in early 1990s, when Russian police felt the need for increased short-range firepower. PP-71 was slightly modified and then manufactured in limited numbers and issued to various law enforcement forces across the Russia. It was soon discovered that the original 9x18mm Makarov ammunition was not powerful enough, so new type of ammunition had been developed. This new cartridge, 9x18mm PMM, while retaining same dimensions, had slightly lighter bullet and heavier powder charge, which increased its performance. Basic Kedr design was slightly strengthened by 1994 for this new ammunition, and appeared as the Klin submachine gun. Both Kedr and Klin are used in limited numbers by various Russian police and security forces. It must be noted that for safety reasons use of PMM ammunition has almost ceased in Russian law enforcement, and most units are issued standard 9x18 PM ammunition. Therefore, only Kedr version is currently manufactured for police use.
Kedr PP-91 submachine gun is blowback operated, selective-fired weapon. It fires from closed bolt for enchanced accuracy, and features traditional hammer unit. Safety / fire mode selector lever is located on the right side of the stamped-steel receiver and permits for single shots and full automatic fire. The only difference between Klin and Kedr is that Klin is slightly strenghtened and has radial grooves in the chamber, to slow down wxtraction of the more powerful 9x18 PMM ammo. Kedr PP-91 submachine gun is fitted with top-folding steel butt, and can be equipped with detachable silencer. Standard sights are of open type, with L-shaped rear blade that automaticaly flips over to "short range" setting when butt is closed and to "long range" setting when butt is opened. Feed is from detachable box magazines holding 20 or 30 rounds.
Caliber: 9x18mm Makarov (9x18mm PMM - Makarov Modernized for Klin)
Weight: 1.55 kg empty
Length: 539 / 305 mm (butt open / folded)
Barrel length: 120 mm
Rate of fire: 800 rounds per minute (1050-1200 rounds per minute for Klin with PMM ammo)
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds box
Effective range: about 50-100 meters for Kedr; up to 150 meters for Klin with PMM ammo
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The AT-4 Spigot wire-guided anti-tank missile system has been improved over the years since its initial introduction in 1970.
The AT-4 Spigot anti-tank wire-guided missile system is similar to the French-made MILAN system, though smaller in size. It fires the wire-guided SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command to Line-of-Sight) anti-tank missile. The system was designed in 1962 by the Tula Machinery Design Bureau and entered production in 1970.
The AT-4 was developed as an infantry and vehicle-mounted tank killer, making up a pivotal component of Soviet anti-tank crews. The weapon system weighs in at just over 25lbs. The initial muzzle velocity at launch is 80 meters per second while this increased to 186 meters per second in flight. Since this is a wire-guided system, the operator has to continually point the sighting device at his target.
Launchers for the 9M111, 9M111-2 and 9M111M missile are the 9P135 (base launcher), 9P135M (Spigot and Spandrel missile systems), 9P135M1 (updated/improved 9P135 system), 9P135M2 (updated/improved 9P135 system)), 9P135M3 (with thermal imaging night sight) and the 9S451M2 (with night sight).
The AT-4 is in service with a myriad of countries world wide - many being former Soviet-friendly states and nations.
The AT-5 "Spandrel" is a similar weapon system developed alongside the AT-4.
Specifications for the AT-4 (Spigot) / 9M111 Fagot
Feed System: 1
Muzzle Velocity: 610ft/sec (186m/sec)
Maximum / Effective Range: 6,562ft (2,000m; 2,187yds)
Overall Length: 1200mm (47.24in)
Barrel Length: 875.00 (34.45in)
Empty Weight: 11.50kg (25.35lbs)
Monday, December 13, 2010
The OTs-02 Kiparis (Cypress) submachine gun had been developed by designer Afanasiev during the 1970s on request from Soviet army at the Tula Central Sporting and Hunting Arms Design Bureau (TSKIB SOO). However, at the time the gun was not adopted, and design laid idle until early 1990s, when it was resurrected on request of the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry, as a possible special purpose police weapon. It is adopted in 1995 by MVD and Russian police and issued to various special troops, including OMON and SOBR groups.
Caliber: 9x18mm Makarov
Weight: 1.57 kg empty
Length: 590 / 317 mm (butt open / folded)
Barrel length: 156 mm
Rate of fire: 600 - 900 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rounds box
Effective range: 100 meters
The OTs-02 is a blowback operated weapon of conventional design. It fires from closed bolt for enhanced accuracy, and thus has a conventional hammer unit. Safety / fire mode selector is located on the left side of the gun and permits for single shots and full automatic fire. Receiver is made from stamped steel, magazines are inserted at the front of the triggerguard. OTs-02 is fed using straight box magazines of 20 or 30 rounds capacity, steel butt folds up at to the front when not in use. OTs-02 can be fitted with detachable silencer and laser pointer. Despite the relatively high rate of fire, OTs-2 is claimed to be rather accurate in full automatic fire, and even more so in semi-automatic mode.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The PPS-43 (Pistolet-Pulemet Sudaeva, model of 1943 = Sudaev SMG) was born as an answer to the need for weapon that is more compact and mobile than PPSh-41, then in use by Soviet Army. PPSh-41 was somewhat too long to be used by tank crews and mobile recon groups and paratroopers, so lae in 1941 Red Army issued a request for new, more compact SMG. Designer Sudaev initially designed his new SMG in 1942, and it was adopted under the designation of PPS-42. Next year he refined the design and thus final model was designated as PPS-43. This SMG was manufactured in significant numbers (nearly 2 millions of PPS-43 weapons were manufactured between 1943 and 1946). PPS-43 is sometimes referred to as the best SMG of World War 2. After WW2, it was widely exported to pro-Soviet regimes around the world and widely copied.
Caliber: 7,62x25 mm TT
Weight: 3,67 kg loaded, 3,04 kg empty
Length (stock closed/open): 615 / 831 mm
Barrel length: 250 mm
Rate of fire: 500-600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 35 rounds
Effective range: 200 meters
Technically, the PPS is a full-automatic only weapon, based on simple blowback principle, and is fired from the open bolt. The safety is located at the front of the triggerguard. The receiver and barrel shroud are made from stamped steel. Rear sight is L-shaped flip type and is marked for 100 and 200 meters distance, front sight is fixed blade type. The barrel is equipped with simple muzzle brake. The folding stock is made from steel and folds up and over the top of the receiver. Barrel was chrome-lined and thus very durable - average barrel life was 20,000 rounds.
PPS-43 used only one type of magazines - curved box magazines, which held 35 rounds. These magazines were externally similar to, but not compatible with box magazines of PPSh-41.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Caliber: 7,62x25 mm TT
Weight: 5,45 kg loaded with full 71 rds drum; 4,3 kg with full 35 rds magazine; 3,63 kg without magazine
Length: 843 mm
Barrel length: 269 mm
Rate of fire: 900 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 71 rounds in drum magazine or 35 rounds in curved box magazine
Effective range: meters
The PPSh-41 (Pistolet Pulemjot Shpagina model of 1941 = Shpagin submachine gun) was one of major infantry weapons of the Soviet troops during the World war 2. Total number of PPSh's manufactured during WW2 estimates to more than 6 millions. The gun became one of the symbols of the Great Patriotic War. Retired from Soviet Army service soon after the WW2, the PPSh was widely exported to some pro-Soviet countries around the world, including China, Vietnam and many African countries.
It was effective, but somewhat crude weapon, reliable in combat but not without certain flaws. It has somewhat excessive rate of fire, and its drums were uncomfortable to carry and prone to feed problems once spring is weaken.
The PPSch-41 was designed as a cheap and simple but effective war-time weapon. It featured simple blowback operated action, and fired from open bolt. To decrease the recoil stress, gun was fitted with bolt buffer at the rear of receiver. The buffer was made from fiber and was attached to the return spring guide rod. The striker was permanently fixed to the bolt face. PPSh-41 was a select-fire weapon, with fire selector switch located inside the triggerguard, ahead of trigger. The safety was integrated into the charging handle and locked the bolt in forward or rearward position. The receiver and the barrel shroud was made from stamped steel. The front part of the barrel shroud extends beyond the muzzle and acted as a muzzle brake / muzzle flip compensator. Early PPSch-41's were issued with drum magazines with capacity of 71 round, similar to ones used in PPD-40.
Such high capacity increased the firepower but the magazines were too slow to refill and not too reliable, so in 1942 a curved box magazine was developed. This magazine held 35 rounds and was much more comfortable to carry in pouches. Early magazines were made from 0,5 mm sheet steel and were somewhat unreliable. Later magazines were made from 1 mm steel and were completely satisfactory. Usually, infantrymen carried one drum in the gun and some box magazines in the pouches or pockets.
Early guns featured elevation-adjustable rear sights, marked up to 500 meters; late production guns had flip-type "L"-shaped rear sights marked for 100 and 200 meters range.