From The People’s Mosquito (TPM) — the noble effort to build (not rebuild) an original de Havilland Mosquito for the public trust — we have the latest news. The TPM’s presence continues its growth with the announcement of The People’s Mosquito’s representation at upcoming air shows :)
TPM personnel will answer questions, talk about the DH Mosquito, and just about anything else (they are quite motivated and knowledgeable) as well as discuss the just made available fund-raising merchandise for TPM.
Airshow attendance dates 2014
We’re excited to announce dates for forthcoming events at which we will be present. We hope we can get to meet you at one of these.
At each event there will be at least one or two of us from the team – and in some cases more – to answer any of your questions regarding the progress of the restoration project to get a Mosquito permanently back in British skies. Unfortunately we won’t be selling merchandise on our stand this time, but will have a catalogue featuring the products in our shop bit.ly/TPMShop, and will be taking orders. We will be welcoming donations too, and spreading the word about the project – and hopefully meeting new supporters. We also hope to have some of the original remains of Mosquito RL249 – on which the restoration is being based.
We will be announcing further dates in the coming days and will add our stand number and position, if possible, as soon as we know them.
East Kirkby Airshow – Saturday 2nd August
Sywell Great War Airshow – Sunday 17th August
The Artful Elevators of TIA
27° 58′ 49″ N / 82° 32′ 04″ W
Tampa International Airport (TIA) is a lovely facility for the traveler. The main terminal is the hub with each airside at the end of an extension from the hub like a spoke of a wheel. Short term parking occupy the upper five levels with the lower three levels in the usual order of baggage on the first level, ticketing on the second and access to the airsides on the third level. This third, or main level, is spacious and filled with stores, eateries and information. Signs are well placed so the traveler can easily find what needs finding. The convenience of parking the car and taking an elevator directly to the desired level cannot be overstated — no dragging baggage for what seems a long time (Terminal 3 at JFK comes to mind as well as any terminal at MIA, PBI, FLL, ORL…). Orientation is easy as the stack of eight levels is divided into a red side and a blue side with each side having a pair of elevator banks with each elevator bank is named for a famous aviator in a pleasing motif. The red is definitively red and the blue is undeniably blue — and a marvelous way to begin or end a trip :)
Curtiss A-8 — the 1930s attack aircraft experiment
The U.S. Army Air Corps compared air cooled radial engine powered aircraft versus in-line liquid cooled engines in attack aircraft designs, during the 1930s, and the Curtiss A-8 was one of these designs. Powered by a Curtiss V-1570-31 Conqueror (600 hp/~450kW) the A-8 carried its pilot–observer/rear gunner nearly 500 miles at 153 mph/245kph. Marked by two glazed tandem cockpits it had a semi-sleek appearance though with distracting wing bracing. Aside from the rear position armed with a single 0.30 caliber machine guns there were four forward firing machine 0.30 caliber machine guns with the primary offensive armament of a four bomb mounting points for a total of nearly 500 lbs. /~230kg.
The Yompers — winning a modern war on foot the hard way
The Yompers: with 45 Commando in the Falklands War, Ian Gardiner, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84884-441-4, 208 pp.
We have read Ian Gardiner before with his other two excellent books and this one keeps to his high standard of excellent writing of his experiences, now as X-Ray Company Commander in 45 Commando, as well as his wisdom and practical philosophical oversight. In Yompers the author covers logistics through tactics, politics through training as well as humour (we will use the Queen’s English spelling out of respect) and cigarettes.
Gardiner also has much in humour interspersed throughout Yompers and in fact succinctly explains why that trait is vital in when soldiers prepare to go into combat. Succinctness with spectacular writing marks Gardiner’s books as revelatory and educational as the reader not only learns of how it was like for individuals involved but also the strategic context of the issue at hand.
The overthrust of the story is how 45 Commando marched across unimaginably harsh terrain across East Falkland island to fight two night battles securing the western flank of Port Stanley. The story is an awestriking one. Since the heavy lift helicopter capacity was lost due to Argentinian attacks 45 Commando had to “yomp” (i.e., march) with each man carrying a load of 120–150 pounds (55–70kg) over terrain that alternatively had them sinking up to their shins or traversing boot eating stone runs. As noted by Gardiner, this was the first battle fought without motorized vehicles since the invention of the reciprocating engine. From the first day of the march feet and clothing were not dry until its end so day after day men of 45 Commando never slept well. Making matters worse the helicopter resupply was unreliable so food was often short in supply. Artillery ammunition had to be carefully thought out prior to commencing battle and boots often had to be liberated from the Argentine soldiers. But intense night assaults were made and Gardiner excels in describing the intensity of command decision making (advised by others but alone in responsibility) as well as the first hand accounts which are riveting. Only a thinking person who has experienced the event can write this descriptively and informatively.
Some of the above sounds counterintuitive and perhaps so it is but it is how the history unfurled. Gardiner writes an excellent prelude and summary illustrating the mistakes both countries made which brought them to war. His observations regarding the training of the Royal Marines and his comparison to the Argentinian officer corps could not be more stark. Some Argentinians fought well and some did not but the Falkland’s War was a close fought affair with remarkable gallantry on both sides which Gardiner freely acknowledges. His reflection on serving the Queen is both parsimonious, realistic as well as saturated with wry humour.
This book, like his others, is happily challenging to write a short review of as each page is filled with insight or overview — more often both. So, much has to be left out of the material covered by Gardiner but to give an impression of the gamut addressed, and addressed well:
- Why, in his experience gained in Dhofar, his company armed themselves with nineteen light machine guns (7.62mm) when the normal complement was nine
- The unsung heroes of Britain’s merchant marine
- How the Argentine military thought as well as how the British military thought
- The incredible logistical effort to get man and equipment away is a short time and how some of the proverbial knots were untied along the route
- How unexploded bombs were left in medical areas as men continued their work to save lives and heal wounds
- The importance of air assets and how acute the feeling when they are not available
- The American military has the SNAFU, TARFU and FUBAR whereas the UK military has the AMFU, SAMFU and CMFU :)
This book should be read by historians and should be read by those who study leadership alike. The maps are drawn by the author and the many insightful images come from the Trustees of the Royal Marines Museum as well as the author and friends.
Additional books by Ian Gardiner and reviews:
In the Service of the Sultan — hard bought lessons in the winning of beating an insurgency
In the Service of the Sultan: a first hand account of the Dhofar Insurgency, Ian Gardiner, 2006 (reprinted several times since), ISBN 978-1-84415-467-8, 189 pp.
We are lucky to live in an age where most books are well written and published with high production values. A small number are well above average and extraordinarily well done. Then there are a rarefied few where enough good words cannot be written — In the Service of the Sultan, by Ian Gardiner, is one of these priceless books.
First hand accounts are excellent for their grit and emotion though usually limited in scope. Overview accounts are useful for understanding events in the context of their times. Gardiner, almost uniquely provides both making this book enlightening. Gardiner, as a combat team leader, has an ability to think philosophically about the events and people involved in those events — not an uncommon trait for an experienced warrior.
In the Service of the Sultan, tells Gardiner’s perspective of countering a politically inspired insurgency in the Dhofar Provence of Oman. This war occurred over a decade from 1965 to 1975 and threatened control of the Straits of Hormuz. Incredibly, most of us are not aware of it as the Vietnam War occupied the news services at the time.
Gardiner serves to reminds of us of this signal strategic event as he furthered his career in the Royal Marines (United Kingdom) — an interesting process — as well as the uncommon feat of defeating an insurgency. Having limited artillery support, and even more limited close air support, the Sultan of Oman’s forces largely prevailed the hard way with infantry patrols and actions. Initially setting a barrier for the insurgents, who were based in Yemen, these forces adapted to their theater of operation. Almost always on foot due to sole eating terrain donkeys were used when insertions were made to set ambushes as they could quietly carry heavy machine guns, mortars and ammunition. Helicopters were used to supply isolated outposts since their noise announcing traits were less dangerous as well as to evacuate casualties. A handful of Jet Provosts would provide air support with their small bomb loads and inferior machine gun armament — at least by U.S. standards — but were more than sufficient to address an enemy without adequate air defense. Along the course of In the Service of the Sultan the reader learns many priceless lessons and professional thinking, such as:
- The planning of an ambush is much like complicated watch mechanism
- How the adoo thought and the development of how to out think them
- What it is like to fight with air support as well as without it
- How helicopter pilots flew into rugged terrain in poorly lit nights using airspeed, compass and stopwatch
- How taking casualties exponentially compounds the challenge of conducting a fight
The photographs are many and are outstanding. Notably those of Nicholas Knolly since they illustrate the events as they were occurring and leave readers with the grit that must have been.
The craft learned is there to be read. The thinking of the decision making is there. The emotions are there. This is a book that not only teaches history, it makes for vicariously experiencing that history. A history that is gone unsung and unnoticed though it may have been the most significant of the shooting wars occurring during the Cold War. The world would be frighteningly different from that of today should the Sultan of Oman have been overthrown.
Next week a post on Yompers: with 45 Commando in the Falklands War, Ian Gardiner, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84884-441-4, 208 pp. — also by Ian Gardiner — will publish and it will be seen how this commander became a more capable combat leader as well as his increased understanding regarding strategy, politics in war as well as soldiering.
It is not to be missed.
Air New Zealand’s 787-9 stretched Dreamliner encore
As Boeing demonstrates and displays the newest Dreamliner version, the stretched 787-9 at Farnborough Air Show this week, Air New Zealand has flown the first of ten to be purchased to Auckland. Preparations and training will see the stretched Dreamliner begin to ply the Auckland–Perth route commencing on 15 October. Shortly Air New Zealand will have at least 10 of these stretched Dreamliners connecting points across — as well as within — the Pacific Rim. The all black fuselages, with the Kiwi symbols of the koru and silver fern and white wings, will spend most of the their flight hours over blue water while looking positively striking at the airside.
The main article, describing Air New Zealand’s unveiling of the stretched Dreamliner, posted on Monday this week with many more photos and information :)