David Knights' Weblog

January 14, 2020

Small thinking

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 11:42 am
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In this story, the plans of the ESA and NASA are discussed in regard to getting samples of Martian soil back here for study….by 2031.  This is the perfect example of the small thinking that infects NASA. By 2031, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will have people on Mars, while the government spaceflight agencies diddle around. (post in memory of Mike Nofsinger)

January 13, 2020


Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 7:43 pm
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OK, this is crazy.  We need to cut this crap out.  Training service members from Canada or the UK is fine.  We ought not be training any soldiers from any Middle Eastern country other than Israel.  Same goes for most of the rest of the world.

Now all we have to do….

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 5:41 pm
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is figure out a way to get there.   A nice first step might be having people on the moon and Mars!  Actually, since the planet appears to be tidally locked, it might not be there best candidate, but we ought to have a look at some point. (post in memory of Mike Nofsinger)

January 4, 2020


Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 9:32 pm
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I am not much of a helicopter guy, but I could see building an AH-1Z.  Dream model is releasing a new kit of this.

January 3, 2020

War robots

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 7:06 am
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Not really.  More like robot donkeys.  Story here.  While technology can’t solve every problem, a well-equipped (and well-trained) fighting force will beat even a numerically superior enemy.

December 20, 2019


Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 10:23 pm
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Damn.  We need to get this done and get it right now. ( Post in memory of Mike Nofsinger who would be really pissed off right now.)

December 10, 2019

Book review: The Bay of Pigs Cuba 1961 Osprey Elite #166

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:21 pm
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Book review: The Bay of Pigs Cuba 1961 Osprey Elite #166
By Alejandro de Quesada
Illustrated by Stephen Walsh
64 pgs
List Price $18.95

The Bay of Pigs operation is a fascinating piece of history, and one that doesn’t seem to make any sense to an individual today given a brief explanation of what occurred.  Telling someone today that in 1961 President Kennedy authorized the CIA to build a 2500 man army and land it on the shore of Cuba to overthrow the government of Cuba just sounds crazy.  It was crazy, but not as crazy as it sounds.

Castro’s revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Batista regime at the beginning of 1959.  However, Castro’s revolution wasn’t Castro’s alone.  The revolutionary forces which  overthrew Batista were an amalgamation of forces, only some of which were loyal to Castro and under his control.  However, once the Batista regime was gone. Castro immediately moved to consolidate power and that consolidation led Castor to turn on and purge many of his co-revolutionaries.  This resulted in an exodus from Cuba, not only of the Batista loyalists, but also many  middle class Cubans, some of whom who had been part of the original revolution.  Others took to the mountains and in 1959 and 1960, Castro’s government faced a revolutionary insurgency of its own.

A disproportionate number of those who left Cuba were officers in the military, particularly in the air force where huge numbers of pilots and skilled mechanics fled leaving the revolutionary air force (FAR) with few pilots and even fewer functioning aircraft.  A lack of spare parts for the mostly western sourced aircraft made the situation even worse.  Once Castro firmly declared himself a Marxist/Communist the United States, and the CIA in particular, became concerned with having a country that was quickly becoming allied with the Soviet Union so close to the United States. As a result the CIA hatched the Bay of Pigs plan. (Though the original plan didn’t actually call for a landing at the Bay of Pigs)  The many Cuban Exiles in Florida, many with military experience in either the Batista military or the 1959 revolution, provided a ready source of soldiers willing to go back to Cuba and overthrow Castro.  The insurgency inside Cuba along with the poor state of Cuba’s military, especially its air force led the CIA to conclude that a force, landed in Cuba could quickly be the spark for a second Cuban revolution.

The author does a good job of explaining this background and how it led Assault Brigade 2506 (which is what the exiles troops called themselves) to be landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17th.  The author tells the story of the planning and training of the unit as well as the failed attempt to wipe out the remaining aircraft of the Cuban air force prior to the invasion.  The failure to successfully accomplish this is cited in many histories as the main reason the invasion failed.  However, given that by the time of the invasion many of the counter-revolutionary insurgences had been suppressed and that Castro had consolidated support among the peasant classes, there is doubt that even if the exiles had had compete air superiority, whether they would have been able to succeed.

The story is well and clearly told.  The description of the actual landings and parachute drops are vivid.  One does get the impression that the author has sympathy for the exiles and thus tends to highlight the heroics of the Assault Brigade members in their combats with the Cuban army, while simultaneously downplaying the effectiveness of Castro’s troops.  That said, this is still a clear and factual account of the Bay of Pigs operations and its aftermath.  I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.


December 9, 2019

Sword missiles

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 2:39 am
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It appears that the US has adapted the Hellfire missile to carry sword blades that deploy instead of explosives.  Guided weapons have gotten so accurate that explosives aren’t always needed.  This reminds me of my favorite weapon concept, the “Rods from God”  Frankly the US should deploy this if they can figure how to get a lot of weight into orbit cheaply enough.  It could solve the Iran/North Korea bunker problems (h/t to Jeff “Inch High” Groves for a reminder about the article above)

December 6, 2019

JAXA doesn’t get enough credit

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 4:50 pm
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JAXA (The Japanese Space Agency) doesn’t get enough credit.  They have been doing some great space exploration.  See the latest here.

Speaking of asteroids, NASA has been doing some fine work as well.  (Post in memory of Mike Nofsinger)

First US licensed female pilot

Filed under: General — dknights @ 10:57 am
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Harriet Quimby, 1911.  Also the first female pilot to fly across the English Channel.

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