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Two Palestinians rammed while shooting into a IDF checkpoint in the Jenin district of the West Bank on Saturday.
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Stars and Stripes
Here is what could have been.
Key point: All of the services in the early Cold War jockeyed over who would get what. The fight over the cost of super aircraft carriers and having nuclear weapons was one of them.
In the wake of the mushroom clouds that blossomed over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it swiftly dawned on political and military leaders across the globe that warfare between superpowers would never again be the same. But what exactly were the implications of nuclear weapons when it came to planning military force structure?
In the United States, it was assumed that nuclear weapons would be widely employed in future conflicts, rendering conventional land armies and fleets at sea irrelevant. The newly formed Air Force particularly argued that carrier task forces and armored divisions were practically obsolete when (ostensibly) just a few air-dropped nuclear bombs could annihilate them in one fell swoop.
The Air Force touted it soon-to-be operational fleet of ten-thousand-mile-range B-36 Peacemaker nuclear bombers as the only vital war-winning weapon of the nuclear age. This logic resonated conveniently with the postwar political program mandating sharp cuts to U.S. defense spending and force structure—which the Air Force naturally argued should fall upon the Army and Navy.
The Army responded by devising “Pentomic Divisions” organized for nuclear battlefields, with weapons ranging from nuclear-armed howitzers and rocket artillery to bazooka-like Davy Crockett recoilless guns. The Navy, meanwhile, sought to find a way to integrate nuclear bombs into its carrier air wings. However, early nuclear bombs were simply too heavy for World War II-era carrier-based aircraft.
In 1945, the Navy began commissioning three larger forty-five-thousand-ton Midway-class carriers which incorporated armored flight decks for added survivability. The decks were swiftly modified to angular, effectively lengthened configuration for jet operations. Neptune P2V-C3 maritime patrol planes converted into nuclear bombers could take off from Midway-class carriers using rocket-pods but would have no way landing on the carrier deck.
Therefore, the Navy decided it needed huge supercarriers from which it could operate its own fifty-ton strategic bombers. These would displace over 40 percent more than the Midway at sixty-eight thousand tons, and measure 12 percent longer at 330-meters. In July 1948, Defense Secretary James Forrestal approved plans for five such carriers, the first named USS United States with hull number CVA-58.
The naval heavy bombers (which didn’t exist yet) were expected to have such wide wings that naval architects decided that CVA-58 would have a completely flush deck without the standard “island” superstructure carrying a radar and flight control tower. Instead, the carrier would feature side-mounted telescoping smokestacks that could be raised should smoke impeded flight operations, and a similarly retractable wheelhouse that could be extended to observe navigation and flight operations.
The ship’s air wings would include twelve to eighteen heavy bombers that would mostly remain parked on the flight deck, exposed to the elements. Four side-mounted elevators would ferry forty to fifty-four jet fighters between the hangar and flight deck to escort the bombers. Eight nuclear bombs per heavy bomber would also be stowed in the hangar. The combined ship’s company and airwing would total 5,500 personnel.
The carrier’s oddly-shaped deck included four steam catapults—two for use by bombers, and two axial “waist” catapults.
Because the ship would be effectively blind without an elevated radar and control tower, a separate cruiser was intended to serve as the carrier’s “eyes.” Nonetheless, CVA-58 still incorporated eight 5-inch guns for air defense, and dozens of rapid-fire short-range cannons.
The “Revolt of the Admirals”
Though theoretically capable of contributing to conventional strike and sea control missions, the heavy bomber-equipped CVA-58 was clearly an attempt by the Navy to duplicate the Air Force’s strategic nuclear strike capabilities.
This put giant crosshairs on the program during an era of sharp defense cuts. After all, deploying strategic bombers at sea was many times more expensive than basing them on land.
Following his reelection in November 1948, President Harry Truman replaced Forrestal—a naval aviator in World War I, and former secretary of the Navy—with Louis Johnson, who had fewer qualms about enforcing defense spending cuts.
In April 1949, just five days after CVA-58’s fifteen-ton keel was laid down in Newport News, Virginia, Johnson canceled the mega-carrier. He also began advocating dissolution of the Marine Corps, starting by transferring its aviation assets to the Air Force.
This upset the Navy bigwigs so much that Navy Secretary John Sullivan resigned, and numerous admirals began openly opposing the termination of a project they viewed as essential to validating their branch’s existence in the nuclear age.
This “Revolt of the Admirals” developed into a crisis in civil-military relations, as the Navy’s top brass defied the authority of their civilian commander-in-chief and resorted to covert methods in an attempt to influence public opinion. The Op-23 naval intelligence unit formed by Adm. Louis Denfeld secretly circulated a memo called the Worth Paper alleging that Johnson had corrupt motivations due to being a former director of Convair, manufacturer of B-36 bombers, which were also claimed to be deficient.
The bitter inter-service rivalry, and the utility of land-based bombers versus carriers, was publicly litigated in congressional hearings. The Army also piled on against the Navy, and public opinion turned against the sea-warfare branch as Op-23’s activities were revealed.
As Gen. Douglas MacArthur would later discover, Truman had no qualms about squashing military leaders that questioned his authority. His new secretary of the Navy, Francis Matthews, torpedoed the career of several admirals that spoke against the CVA-58’s termination despite an earlier promise that those testifying before Congress would be spared retaliation.
The irony of this tempest in a teacup, which resulted in the political martyrdom of many senior Navy leaders, was how misguided both sides swiftly proved to be.
In June 1950 the Korean War broke out, and the U.S. found itself desperately short of the necessary conventional land, air and sea forces. U.S. aircraft carriers and their onboard jet fighters soon bore the brunt of the initial fighting, and continued to play a major role until the end of the conflict.
And the Air Force’s vaunted B-36s? They never dropped a single bomb in anger—fortunately, as they were only intended for use in apocalyptic nuclear conflicts.
It turned out that plenty of wars were liable to be fought without resorting to weapons of mass destruction.
However, the Navy also had cause to count itself fortunate that the CVA-58 had been canceled. That’s because in just a few years the size of tactical nuclear weapons rapidly decreased, while high-thrust jet engines enabled hauling of heavier and heavier loads. By 1950, nuclear-capable AJ-1 Savage hybrid jet/turboprop bombers were operational on Midway-class carriers, starting with the USS Franklin Roosevelt.
These were soon followed by nuclear-capable capable A-3 Sky Warrior and A-5 Vigilante bombers, A-6 and A-7 attack planes, and even multirole fighters like the F-4 Phantom II. Carriers with these aircraft were far more flexible than a CVA-58 full of B-36 wannabees ever could have been. Arguably, by the 1960s the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines would amount to scarier strategic nuclear weapons than any aircraft-based delivery system.
The schematics for CVA-58 nonetheless informed the Navy’s first supercarriers, named rather appropriately the Forrestal-class, laid down during the Korean War. But the heavy-bomber carrying United States remains notable as the supercarrier the Navy absolutely thought it needed—but which with literally just a couple years more hindsight it discovered it truly could do without.
(This article appeared earlier this year.)
Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared earlier and is being posted due to reader interest.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
The National Interest
Of all the revolvers on the market, few are like the Smith & Wesson Model 460XVR (Extreme Velocity Revolver).
Of all the revolvers on the market, few are like the Smith & Wesson Model 460XVR (Extreme Velocity Revolver). It’s one of the largest caliber handguns out there, with only giants like the S&W 500 registering a higher caliber. When it was released in 2005, there was literally nothing like it on the market. Since then, many companies have developed more powerful and accurate revolvers, but the 460 is a classic and still one of the best.
This gun has a rifle caliber placed inside of a handgun. It packs a punch, to say the least. However, if you aren’t careful it will become inaccurate. You have to clean it and take care of it as you should with any gun, but especially here. If you don’t your accuracy will slip quickly. It comes with adjustable rear sights, but if you plan on using it for big game hunting, I’d suggest adding your own sights on this one. It’ll make a great piece to add with your 30-30 hunting rifle, or whatever else you like to hunt with.
This gun definitely makes up in power and pizazz what it lacks in reliability. I’ve had a few experiences where the casing has gotten stuck in the weapon after shooting and it’s a pain. You also have to be careful with making sure you are cleaning the gun regularly. I don’t own this one so I don’t have to deal with this, but my friend who loaned me it for the review has complained about accuracy slipping if he forgets to clean after shooting. Either remember to take care of it or expect it to slack off a bit.
The XVR standardly has a rubber grip, which I prefer for big game hunting. I like a Hogue grip on my revolvers, and I choose practicality over aesthetics. It’s easy to hold and I like it because of how much firepower is in the XVR. It’s stable and does its job. It fits my hands well and I wouldn’t change anything about the grip.
If I haven’t already mentioned it, this gun is big, strong, and a little intense. Luckily, the trigger is not. It’s a smooth pull and I didn’t experience any problems when I shot with it. The smooth trigger is part of what will make this gun great for big game hunting and use in the field. It’s easy to use and packs a punch. It’s made for the real world.
Magazine and Reloading
When you shoot the 460 you can use either .454 Casull and .45 Colt ammunition. I like the .45 cold because it generates less recoil. It’s primarily personal preference but I’m just not trying to deal with excess recoil in my handgun. You also need to know that the 460 is a only a 5 shot revolver.
Length & Weight
If I haven’t already made this abundantly clear, this is a big gun. It weighs in at 72 ounces and has a barrel of 8.38 inches. The barrel is larger than some guns. The whole gun is 15 inches long. This massive size is to be expected, this one of the biggest and strongest revolvers on the market. The 460 is impressive, no doubt, but this gun is not for beginners.
This gun does pack a punch. It’s strong, explosive, and powerful. That said, I was a little underwhelmed by the recoil. Compared to the firepower that came out of the barrel, I was expecting my wrist to hurt all afternoon, but the recoil was similar to a 44 Magnum. Considering that the 460 shoots at 2300 feet per second, I was quite surprised.
The 460XVR is one of the top-of-the-line revolvers on the market, and the pricing reflects that. Pricing can be as much as $1400 dollars, maybe more depending on the retailer that you get yours from. That said, if you’re even looking at this gun, you had to see this coming. It’s big and strong, and that strength costs money. If you like high powered revolvers but don’t love the high powered pricing, check out the Colt King Cobra or the Ruger GP100.
Of all the words that come to mind with the 460XVR from Smith & Wesson, “cool” is the word that makes the most sense. It’s cool the way muscle cars are cool. It’s ‘basically’ the muscle car of revolvers. It’s good ole fashioned American muscle. It’s cool, but I wouldn’t make it my top priority to own this gun. There’s also the Performance Center version of the XVR which essentially is the same firearm with smaller dimensions. I’d choose that, or another small revolver like the Taurus 380 or the Chiappa Rhino before I went all in on the most extreme revolver out there. I’m not an extreme guy, but if you are, this revolver was made for you.
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.
Image: Smith & Wesson
The National Interest
Voice of America - English
Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry says Sriwijaya Air lost contact with one of its passenger planes Saturday carrying 62 people shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.
Flight SJ182 was en route to Pontianak, the capital of the West Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, the ministry said.
Flightradar24, the flight tracking service, said the Boeing 737 “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta.”
“The missing plane is currently under investigation and under coordination with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee," government spokesman Adita Irawati said in a statement.
Indonesian Minister for Transportation Budi Karya told reporters the National Search and Rescue Agency and the military deployed ships to search for the plane.
The minister said the plane took off at 2:36 p.m. local time but the air traffic controller could no longer contact it four minutes later. “Within seconds the plane disappeared from the radar,” he added.
Indonesian navy and air force sources told VOA that “at least seven ships have been deployed to location, while some aircraft ready to be operated from Sultan Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi and Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta tomorrow morning.”
The airline’s chief executive, Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, told reporters that the plane’s takeoff was delayed 30 minutes because of heavy rain.
A local fisherman identified only as Mahyudin on Pancang Island near the location where contact was lost with the plane said in an interview with VOA that “some fishermen told me they hear a loud bang, like an explosion, in the sea around 2:30 or 2:40 p.m.
“It was raining and quite dark. They came home around 3.30 p.m. and as soon as I got their report, we call local police. They [fishermen] also saw plane debris near their boat.” He added that local police set up emergency tents on the Island.
An official with the search and rescue agency, Bambang Suryo Aji, confirmed that debris from the plane had been found after initial reports from the local post command on Lancang Island. He said the debris will be sent to the National Commission on Safety Transportation.
In a virtual press conference, the head of the National Commission on Safety Transportation, Soerjanto Tjahjono, said he is still gathering all information and “will start searching for the black box tomorrow morning.”
VOA radio affiliates in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, report that some family members have come to Supadio Airport to find out more information regarding the plane and a crisis center has been set up. Some family members could not hide the sorrow and were seen crying, and screaming at the center's staff.
Wayne Lee and Fern Robinson contributed to this story.
Voice of America - English
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Voice of America - English
Voice of America - English
NYT > World > Europe
U.N. human rights bodies accuse Vietnam of violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by clamping down on freedom of expression and denying critics due process and a fair trial.
The sentences given to three independent journalists earlier this week are the latest example of a further erosion of freedom of expression in Vietnam. The men were found guilty of national security offenses and sentenced to up to 15 years’ imprisonment.
U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says an increasing number of independent journalists, bloggers, online commentators and human rights defenders are being arbitrarily detained based on vaguely defined laws.
In the case of the recently sentenced journalists, she says all three were held in lengthy pre-trial detention. She adds there are serious concerns their right to a fair trial was not respected.
“Many of them are kept effectively incommunicado in detention. They do not have access to their families,” said Shamdasani. "They also do not have access to lawyers … In other cases, we do have indication of ill treatment, and we also have indications that there are individuals who have medical needs whose needs are not [being] taken into account.”
Shamdasani also expresses concerns that individuals who try to cooperate with the U.N.’s human rights bodies are subjected to intimidation and reprisals. She says that effectively inhibits them from cooperating with the U.N. and sharing information about human rights issues.
“Now the kinds of reprisals and intimidation that they face can include harassment, travel bans, loss of employment, physical attacks as well as arbitrary arrest, detention and torture…So, it is very important for us to send an alarm on this,” said Shamdasani.
Shamdasani says the U.N. human rights office continues to raise those cases with the Vietnamese government, urging it to stop criminally charging people for expressing their right of freedom of expression.
She adds people should be able to exercise their fundamental rights without fear of reprisals.
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