Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Secret Weapon’ Category

Jet Powered Boy Scouts Save Nazi Germany!

leave a comment »

Heinkel,_He_162Image credit and copyright: SDASM Archives, Public Domain under US copyright law.

By summer 1944 Hitler’s Nazi Germany was in trouble. Big trouble. The Western Allies had landed in France, the Russians were rolling inexorably towards Berlin, and thousands of Allied bombers ranged over Germany day and night. Something radical needed to be done to turn the tide back in Germany’s favor, but what? The Luftwaffe had some ideas, and the Emergency Fighter Program was one of them. The idea was to build a lightweight, cheap, easily manufactured and easy to fly jet fighter. A fighter that could be mass produced and flown by hastily trained teenagers.

A number of designs were considered, but the Luftwaffe quickly settled on the Heinkel 162, above. A beautiful streamlined plane that as a jet fighter easily outperformed the best Allied prop fighters of its day.* It went from design to first flight in under 90 days, a remarkable achievement. And its performance if anything was more than promised, Göring and Hitler were ecstatic and the HE-162 Salamander was rushed into mass production in late 1944.

In December the HE-162 was used at the Battle of the Bulge, catching the Allies completely by surprise. With air superiority achieved the German offensive achieved all its objectives and more, crippling the Allied drive on Germany. By early 1944 the skies above Germany had been swept clear of Allied bombers, and in conjunction with the w AR-234, the world’s first jet bomber, the Russians had been stopped in their tracks. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, pretty sure my more astute readers realize the above paragraph stretches the truth a bit. OK, completely breaks it. No swarms of HE-162s flew over The Battle of the Bulge or anywhere. In fact only a handful of them ever saw action in the waning weeks of the war. It was such a great idea, what happened?

First of all, it was a crazy idea, not a great idea. By mid 1944 the war was over for all practical purposes. The Germans came up with all sorts of crazy ideas as the war’s end approached, all of which were unrealistic at best. Only about 300 HE-162s had been built by the war’s end, hardly enough to alter the outcome of the war. What really sealed its fate was its flying capabilities. The plan had been for a simple plane that a teenager could fly with minimal training. In actuality the HE-162 while an amazing plane, was also a very tricky to fly plane, requiring a highly trained pilot to safely operate. By late 1944 those were in very short supply in Germany, and no secret plan could magically change that.

Alternate history is fun though, this is not the first time I have written same. It is of course as reliable as predicting the future, IE it’s pretty much pure speculation. Still, fun to think about, and it encourages research and analysis. There were all sorts of Nazi superweapons in the pipeline as the war went into its last year, all of which were a day late and a dollar short, none came close to altering the outcome of the war. Even if Hitler had gotten the atomic bomb, it wouldn’t have changed the end result, by the end of 1943, arguably 1942, the war was over, Allied victory was inevitable.

Really? Is there no way Hitler could have won World War Two? Assuming free will is possible, sure, why not? If he hadn’t cancelled Germany’s advanced weapons programs in the early war, jet aircraft and guided missiles might have kept the blitzkrieg going until victory. Or if Hitler hadn’t botched the invasion of Russia, it was a bad idea poorly executed. Those are the big two “What ifs?” that might have led to a Hitlerian victory in World War Two.

And I’d be typing this in German now. Snort. No. Honestly, even if Hitler had defeated Russia and conquered Europe, I don’t think he had a chance of conquering the United States, let alone the world. In fact, I suspect that even if Hitler achieved his goal, rule of Europe, it would have fallen apart quickly after his death, if not before. By mid war large parts of Nazi occupied Europe were already in open insurgency, and the problem would just have grown worse. Hitler’s Nazis were wildly unpopular occupiers, and even among Germans Hitler had a growing body of enemies. We’d certainly live in a different world today, but not that different.

My point being, alternate history is fun, but if someone tries to use it as a debate tactic, it’s simply an ordinary false argument. That’s because someone can make up whatever alternate history they want to support their argument. “If the western powers had attacked Hitler in the 1930s, the war and holocaust would have been prevented.” Maybe. Or maybe launching a wildly unpopular war would have strengthened Hitler’s hand and resulted in an even worse war. No one has a crystal ball.

Coming up Friday, I dunno. Something will catch my interest, or maybe the long awaited global warming post.

*I worked with a fellow who flew bombers over Germany. They had no advance warning about German jets. One day they were flying along, and suddenly there were “tracers everywhere” and a German plane flew by going so much faster than the bomber my friend wanted to walk out on the wing and see why the engines had stopped.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 8, 2019 at 7:13 am

The Ultimate Roller Coaster, Sham II, and Boston Marathon Madness

leave a comment »

coaster

A thing of beauty, eh what? Yes, yes it is. This concept roller coaster is the ultimate roller coaster. The top is 510m high, nearly 1/3rd of a mile, and it takes two minutes to haul the 24 passengers up there. Downwards the cars reach 360 kilometres per hour (220 mph), very close to terminal velocity, the fastest they can fall. Then into the loops, each designed to maintain 10g on the passengers as the cars slow down. This would be as if they weighed ten times their normal weight. At the end of this exhilarating ride the passengers are unloaded, and new ones board. Wait, what? Yes, unloaded. The passengers have to be unloaded at the end of the ride because they won’t be exiting under their own power. This is because they will be dead. Yes dear readers, this is the Euthanasia Coaster.

Dear God, why would anyone build such a thing? Fortunately they haven’t, but if people have devised plans to build doomsday devices, this shouldn’t be a surprise. The Euthanasia Coaster was actually designed in 20120 as an art project by one  Julijonas Urbonas, the idea being to take lives “with elegance and euphoria.” I’m not sure it really hits either on the nose, but it would take lives. As for its practical use, euthanasia or execution pretty much covers it. It has been suggested that people with no legs or people wearing special high altitude legging might actually survive the ride, so I suppose there might be some who would risk it for the ultimate thrill. I’ll pass thank you.

Seriously though, the chances this would ever get built seem remote. That didn’t stop the anti-euthanasia group “Care not Killing” from being concerned. I’d never heard of “Care Not Killing” before, but as soon as I read the name I knew it was a religious group. Sigh. And it is. I’m getting good at spotting groups with hidden agendas. Hell, probably harder to spot the ones without, there don’t seem to be too many of those. As for executions, there’s probably cheaper ways to execute people.

Meanwhile, in Syria, someone has actually built a euthanasia device:

sham

OK, more of a suicide device I suppose. People are clever. That’s the Sham II, a homemade “tank” built by Syrian rebels. I has a remote control machine gun mounted on top, and is controlled inside by using video cameras and video game components. It’s built around a car chassis of some type. What ever possessed them to do this? Beats me, things are a might confused in Syria right now. I can’t imagine it would last long in battle, it might be impervious to small arms fire, but anything from an RPG up would do the trick, and the Syrian military has plenty of weapons. Hell, even homemade munitions like Molotov cocktails would work. I suspect it’s more for western attention and publicity than anything else. Still, last it was in the news it was on its way to battle in Aleppo. Improvised armoured fighting vehicles have a long history. If I hear how it fares I’ll post it.

I kept waiting for some news on who was behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, but alas nothing yet. Likely a nut or right wing terrorism would be my guess. Media coverage has been ridiculous, but that’s always the case. And as always some in all walks said stupid, hateful, inappropriate, or self-serving things. Modern America, fun place, like Disneyland with guns.

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.  They are not being used for profit, in fact I lose money writing this blog. That means they should pay me for using them. Coming soon, a fund raising drive. You have been warned.)

North Korea’s Secret Weapon

with 6 comments

ChuckNorris

Well, yesterday’s guest post got a few interesting comments. They mansplained everything to me quite nicely. I would have responded, but it didn’t seem like debate was indicated. Many westerners apparently do know what’s good for the world, no matter what the world’s people think of it. Of course European armies going out to “fix” the world is at least a two millennium list of ghastly failures; but that’s the beauty of colonialism, if it fails, why, it’s because they are ignorant savages. Of course colonialism, especially the modern version,  hasn’t failed to make a tiny number of people richer than all the tyrants in history, but of course colonialism is about helping people, not loot. It’s just a  coincidence. Snort. In any event I am going to keep re-blogging stuff one won’t see in the Washington Post. I am assuming anyone reading this blog is curious about what other people around the world think. If not, well, plenty of lighthearted posts like this one to read.

So, back to North Korea. I’m still hoping this is just a war scare, but still, really? Really? If it turns into a shooting war, I have no clue how it will turn out. I am still constantly amazed though by the people who believe that the USA would “win” in days. We bombed them flat in the 1950s war and they didn’t surrender, why would a few days bombing suddenly change their minds? Especially since they’ve had decades to prepare for more bombing? Hope springs eternal I guess. In the movies if you beat up the bad guys enough they always surrender, real life is a bit trickier. Movies are so much more fun too, as the above image illustrates. As long as North Korea doesn’t have any Chuck Norris’s of their own.

Which alas they do. This brings us to today’s fun topic, North Korea’s secret weapon:

Korea

Yes, that’s a biplane. And Antonov An-2 to be precise. An a amazing plane really, in production from 1947 until 2002. It was a light utility/transport aircraft and an all around useful aircraft. Crop dusters, fire fighting, whatever. Russian parachutists would practise jumps out of them into snowdrifts without parachutes!  Russian are crazy. Wait, how was that even possible? It’s possible because the An-2 could fly as slow as thirty miles an hour. So in a thirty mile an hour headwind, the An-2 could fly in one place, in a  stronger wind … it could fly backwards. It was easy to fly, cheap to produce, and just in general one of the good things that came out of communist Russia. Over 18,000 were built, thousands of which are still in use. Including several hundred in North Korea.

How is that a problem? Several things. Their version has canvas covered wings. This really lowers it’s radar profile. And the fact that it can fly at slow speeds at treetop level, it is very difficult to spot with radar or even visually from above. And it can take off or land on small dirt runways, so it isn’t going to be sitting at air bases waiting to be picked off by the USAF, they are likely squirrelled away all over North Korea. They have a range of over 400 miles, so they can reach all of South Korea and a large portion of Japan. The North Korean’s plan to load them with ten man suicide commando teams, and use them to attack American and Korean installations in the region. Yeah, it’s not a war winning weapon, but it could do terrible things. And there’s no way to really defend against it, any installation could be attacked at any time from any direction. Or a couple of these could sail in and land on a runway or a street inside a military complex like the Israeli’s at Entebbe. And North Korean commandos are good, some of the toughest and best trained in the world.

They also have midget submarines. Same problem, more range. I really don’t want North Korean commandos popping up while I am shopping on Telegraph or wandering through People’s Park. I like the variety we get in Berkeley, there’s a limit. Next post, spontaneous human combustion and Bigfoot, new source of forest fires explained?

(Let’s see, the Chuck Norris image was passed along by George Takei, so I refer any copyright issues to him. The An-2 photo came from Wikipedia, I think. In either case I think the images are public domain under US copyright law. I’d finish with a Chuck Norris joke, but I couldn’t find any funny ones.)

Written by unitedcats

April 10, 2013 at 9:22 am

German Boy Scouts Save Hitler’s Germany from Advancing Allied Armies!

with one comment

He162

That was the plan at least. I was going to write this as an alternate history post, but remembered I’d written one like it before. So no messing around, just the facts ma’am. The beauty pictured above was one of Hitler’s secret weapons. That’s a Heinkel 162 Salamander. So what’s its story? I’ll start at the beginning …

In 1944 Germany was in big trouble.The Russians were advancing from the east. They were pissed. The Allies had landed in France, and also were heading for Berlin with malign intent. And over Germany itself, the Allies had seized control of the very skies. The Luftwaffe had plenty of planes, but very few experienced pilots anymore. Many had been lost trying to defend the skies of Germany, and Hitler hadn’t given pilot training any priority until 1944. Allied planes were pounding Germany’s factories, roads, and armies into ruin. Something had to be done. And thus a number of secret weapon’s projects were frantically launched in an effort to find some super-weapon that could allow Germany to drive the American Army Air Corps from Germany’s skies. I’ve written about at least one of these before. And while they failed in their goal, they did some amazing things.

One of them was the Heinkel 162 Volksjäge. That’s People’s Fighter. This little plane was supposed to be the Volkswagen of jet fighter aircraft. Cheap and easy to build, mostly made of wood, and could be assembled quickly and in large numbers by unskilled labour. Lastly, it had to be easy to fly, since Germany had no pilots. The plan was that scores of teenagers in the Hitler Youth program would fly the planes! It was hoped their bravery and youthful reaction times in combination with a jet aircraft would tip the balance in the skies over Germany. It was a great idea! Pause for thought. No, it was a crazy idea, and hopefully the discerning reader can come up with all sorts of reasons why planning to save the day with Boy Scouts flying disposable jet fighters wasn’t likely to end like a Hollywood movie. Boy though, what a fun movie that would make. Reader’s having trouble discerning the flaws in this plan should take a moment know to review the Evil Overlord List. You’ll thank me later.

Oddly enough, the German engineers working on this project gave it their best. The He-162 went from design to operational prototype in less than 90 days! That’s remarkable and likely almost unequalled in the creation of a new aircraft. There were some problems in development and several crashes, no surprise in a rush job, but in December 1944 production of the He-162 began in earnest. It was indeed an wonderful plane, in fact it was the fastest of the world’s first generation jet fighters, cruising around 800 km/h (500 mph) and capable of flying at nearly 900 km/h (560 mph) for short bursts. For comparison the US P-51 Mustang maxed out at about 700 km/h (425 mph.) It was nimble and climbed quickly, and mounted a pair of 20 or 30 mm auto cannons. The He-162 was also the world’s first aircraft to have an ejection seat. Pilots loved flying it, and it did very well in what little combat it saw, some few squadrons were equipped with it before the war ended.

So why didn’t fleets of wooden jet fighters manned by Boy Scouts save the day? Alas, the He-162 was not easy to fly. It was extremely tricky to fly, and required a skilled pilot to even take off and land, let alone fly in combat. I think we can all agree that this is a good thing. Only just over 300 were built. A few of them survived the war and were flown by other nations, a few still exist in museums. The Canadian Aviation Museum is looking into the feasibility of making one of their two He-162s airworthy again. There’s some truly boring footage of the He-162 flying in this Russian film, I was so numbed I had to stop before two minutes were up. Russians are a funny people. Here is footage of other captured German jet and rocket fighters being flown, much more interesting. There’s even a few views of the controls. They were … scary, and the He-162s would have been similar.

Lastly, I wonder about the mind set of the people working on these projects. Most of them must have known that their projects were not going to stave off the inevitable. Yet they laboured on, brilliantly even, and produced some amazing killing devices. That seems to be what humans do when they are under a lot of pressure. It’s a gift I guess. What, you were expecting another kitten post?

(The above image is almost certainly public domain, and I’m claiming it as such until informed otherwise. Not making any money off of it, etc. Tomorrow, a guest post.)

Written by unitedcats

April 8, 2013 at 10:46 am