Category Archives: Military

US Coast Guard Response Boat Medium (RB-M) 45754 Stationed In Saint Joseph, MI

We were walking on the south pier in Saint Joseph, MI, on a fine June evening enjoying the cool Lake Michigan air. Coming in from the lake was one of the US Coast Guard boats that are stationed here. As it came in I decided to snap a number of photos plus look up just what the boat was when I had an opportunity.

In doing some digging, the vessel was a Response Boat Medium (RB-M) and the hull number 45754. It was delivered to the Saint Joseph USCG station in May 2014.

The RB-M is a 45-foot versatile utility boat used for search and rescue, The USCG has the following to say about the design:

The 45-foot RB-M is being procured to replace the 41-foot
utility boat (UTB). It is an all-aluminum boat that has a wire-
less crew communication system and is powered by twin
diesel engines and water jet propulsion. Unlike the 41-foot
UTB, the RB-M has the ability to self-right if it should ever
capsize. This feature allows the RB-M to operate in higher
seas, ensuring the crew (and rescued survivors) comes
home safely. For example, RB-M’s survivability parameters
are 12-foot seas and 50 knots of wind, whereas the UTB’s
limits are 8-foot seas and 30 knots of wind. The RB-M has
a top speed in excess of 40 knots and cruises at 30 knots,
compared to the 41-foot UTB top speed of 26 knots. All 174
RB-Ms have been delivered.
(Click here for the USCG equipment guide PDF that I extracted the above info from)

So, it’s a pretty cool versatile boat. Here are the photos that I took:

We definitely appreciate the service the USCG Coasties provide the nation and our community. I thought it would be cool to share these photos in case others might like to see them.


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June 2021 Lest We Forget Event Was Held in Benton Harbor, MI

Lest We Forget is an organization dedicated to keeping the memories of what our military has done for us. The 2019 event was the last one for WWII, 2020 was cancelled due to COVID and 2021, this year’s event, remembered Korean War veterans. They have static displays, food, vehicles you can ride on and re-enactments.

We arrived a bit late on June 19th due to family commitments but I did have a chance to snap some photos of the various vehicles on display that including a M3 halftrack, a DUKW 6×6 amphibian, an M37 dodge and a M59 APC to name a few.

Here’s the slideshow:

If you ever get a chance to attend a Lest We Forget event, I highly recommend it. The atmosphere is family oriented and everyone there wants to share and have a good time.


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The M103 and M60 Tanks At The Dowagiac, Michigan, National Guard Armory – Cold War Armor

My wife and I like driving around and war memorials, VFW displays, and military tributes are always likely to cause us to stop, read and take pictures. Dowagiac, MI, is about 45 minutes from where we live and one fine summer day we decided to stop at the National Guard Armory there and take pictures.

It wasn’t until I was researching for this post that I found out that Dowagiac was the “Home of Armor” for the Michigan National Guard. From sometime in the 1940s until October 2006, the armor batallion was located there. Click here if you want to read more about the armory’s history.

Today, when you drive by the armory you will see two tanks and lets start with the M103 Heavy Tank stands at the corner West Prarie Ronde Street and Middle Crossing Road.

The M103

The 120mm Gun Combat Tank M103 began with the designator “T43” and was meant to counter Soviet armor at a distance. It suffered from an underpowered gasoline engine and then they moved to a diesel to try and improve matters. The M103 served with both the US Army and Marine Corps – 80 units with the Army and 220 with the Marines. They were in use from the late 1950s until 1963 when the Army started switching to the M60 Main Battle Tank and with the Marines until 1973. Wikipedia has a good history if you wish to read it – click here.

The following photo gallery lets you see some different angles of the M103 on display and you can see its current shape as well. The following is a gallery so if you click on a small photo to begin, a larger photo will pop up and then you can navigate through the larger photos:

The M60

The M103 at least sits by the corner displayed with a bit of aging pride. Behind a fence on the Middle Crossings Road side of the armory you can see an M60 sitting in the weeds sinking into the ground. I realize there is probably little budget or time to put much care into these tanks but it is a shame to see their current state at an actual armory no less.

The M60 was a second generation main battle tank that evolved from the M48. Over 15,000 of them were built by Chrysler. The first combat usage of a M60 was Israel in the 173 Yom Kippur war. The largest US deployment was in the 1991 Gulf War. The tanks were phased out from front line use after that and even retired from national guard use in 1997. The M60 is still in use by a number of militaries around the world. Wikipedia has a through write up on the history and evolution of the M60 and its various models – click here to access it.

Because the M60 was behind the fence at the armory, I was limited to the photo angles I could get. The following is a gallery also so click on a small photo and a large one will pop up:

In Summary

Dowagiac is a neat town to visit. They have some very good restaurants on their main street plus a number of memorials – we still need to stop and get photos of some of their others – I did do a post about their German trench mortar a few years back.

The history of armory was interesting to learn while researching for this post plus seeing the two tanks is always pretty neat.


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WWI 4.7-inch Gun Number 395 At The VFW Post 1137 in Watervliet, Michigan

One day when we were driving around, a WWI-era cannon caught my eye. It was positioned in front of VFW post 1137 in Watervliet, MI. Artillery of that era has a number of distinct markings – notably wooden wheels! So, I stopped and took photos – two times actually. One time in the Winter of 2019 and again in July of 2020.

Well, age and the elements are taking their toll but you can still see the 4.7″ M1906 and get a pretty good idea of what it looked like in its prime. Kudos to someone for making a stand to take the load off the old wooden wheels that could never handle it at this point.

Getting The Clues I Needed To Research The Cannon

In most artillery of this age, you can find what you need to start digging on the muzzle and the carriage. With this in mind, I made sure to get some photos as best I could of the info at those points.

The markings were hard to make out with the naked eye due to paint but with some digital photo editing, I could pull out the details. Northwestern Ordnance Co. 2665 Pounds. No. 395.
Getting in even closer and seriously tweaking the photo to enhance clarity, you can see that it says Northwestern Ordnance Co. 1918. The weight is definitely 2665. The initials in the lower right I am not sure of. I wonder if they were the inspector’s initials or some code. I can make out the letter H but not what is before it. You can see the bore area near muzzle still has its rifling.
It looks like there were three initials to the right of the gun’s number – “NO. 395”. The first two initials are too worn for me to make out but the last one looks like an “H”. I’m guessing but “R.B.H” maybe?
The emblem on the carriage was far easier to read and also our single best clue as to where to start digging. It was carriage number 702 for the Model 1906 4.7 inch gun. The carriage was made by Studebaker in 1918.

Doing The Research

From the carriage, I knew to start my Internet searching on M1906 4.7″ guns and Google immediately returned images, books and blog posts that confirmed that.

Here it back in the day! This is from the Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.

Wikipedia gave me some info but then thanks to the Internet Archive Project, I found two scanned copies of US Army books that had lots of old pictures, diagrams and really comprehensive information about the 4.7″ gun. There is so much detail in these books that I am just going to give a quick overview in this post and you can learn more from these books:

Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.

More Details

The 4.7 inch (120mm) field gun was designed and issued by the US Ordinance department beginning in 1906 with the first units being delivered in 1911. It was manufactured by the Northwest Ordinance Co and carriages were made by three firms groups: Rock Island Arsenal, Walter Scott Co and Studebaker Co.

Apparently there were logistical problems with the unique ammunition it used resulting in limited numbers being built. Despite larger orders being placed, only 209 guns and 470 carriages were produced. 64 of the units were sent to France. 994,852 of the 4.7 inch shells it used were produced. Most of the units were used for training and the guns stayed in reserve storage until 1932. [Source – Wikipedia]. Note, that Wikipedia link is pretty cool for a quick high-level summary of the 4.7″ gun.

More Photos of Number 395

The photos below were taken on the two different visits mentioned above. If you click on one, you can see the full-size photo and navigate around as well.

Summary

I’ve heard from guys who grew up in this area and they tell me the gun moved around some over the years before landing at its current location in front of the VFW post. If anyone has more information, I’d sure be curious to hear it.

With that said, I now know a little bit more and hope you found this post interesting.


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Video: Russian Spetsnaz – Into Battle – Some very cool Shots of AK-12s and PKP Pechengs

When I have time, I like to watch videos of foreign militaries. Some dedicated folks create motivational videos that have catchy music and often some very interesting clips set to the music. One of these gifted groups is Military Forces XXI Century that has a channel on Youtube.

They have a new one featuring some very interesting clips of Russian Spetsnaz teams training entitled “Russian Spetsnaz – Into Battle”. What especially caught my eye was the extensive use of optics – both red dots by themselves and with magnifiers – on their PKP Pecheng machine guns. The PKP is the modernized PKM.

PKP with both a red dot and a magnifier.
That’s either a large red dot or some form of prismatic scope — it’s big enough.

Here’s The Video

Be sure not to miss when they are throwing their famous shovels πŸ™‚

I hope you enjoyed the video as much as I did.


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Video: Birth Of the Alien Tiger Czech Hind Attack Helicopter

I recently posted a video that shows the amazing paint job the Czechs did to one of their Mi-35 Hind-D attack helicopters. Little did I know that there was a “behind the scenes” short documentary about the decision making that went into that paint job and that they won an award for it.

They had a number of conventional ideas that didn’t really wow anybody until they thought of a guy who specialized in the bio-mechanical look.
They do have some footage of the fellow doing the work. It was he, his brother and a few technicians who spent about 200 hours doing the paint job. I wish they had more footage of it and at a higher resolution.

The Documentary Video

Again, if you haven’t seen it already, check out the other post with a ton of footage of this awesome Hind. I hope you enjoyed these!


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Ever Hear About The Time US Special Ops Snatched a Mi-25 Hind D Attack Helicopter?

Back in 1987, a damaged Libyan Mi-25 Hind D attack helicopter was captured by French and Chadian troops. The US wanted to inspect the helicopter and negotiated with the government of Chad to retrieve it.

Libyan MI-24 Hind D captured by Chadian forces at Wadi Doum, Chad .
Source: Wikipedia

On June 10, 1988, Operation Mount Hope III commenced to retrieve the Hind. The famous NightStakers (the 160th Special Operations Regiment) flew almost 500 miles at night with two MH-47 Chinooks to successfully retrieve the Hind and load it on a C-5.

On 21 June 1988, the captured Mi-25 arrived in N’Djamena where it was loaded into a USAF C-5
Source: Wikipedia

Videos

There are a couple of cool videos on Youtube that can give you some good background. The first one is very informative but please note the Hind D is not the fastest helicopter currently.

The next video has the same cover photo but is different:

Reading

If you want to read more, check out:

I hope you found this as interesting as I did.


Please note that the still photos are from the Wikipedia page listed above.


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Video: The Alien Tiger – The Mi-35/24V of The Czech Air Force

I’m a huge fan of the Hind family of attack helicopters. This video is of the Czech Air Force’s Mi-35/24V that they painted special for the NATO Tiger Meet exercise. This is one of the most badass paint jobs seen on a Hind. It’s got the H.R. Giger Alien feel for it and the result is just wicked. I had to screen shot a few photos to share but boy, you have to watch the video below.

The Video

Kudos to the team that did the filming as well as the Czech 22nd Helicopter Air Base and the 221st Helicopter Squadron.

What a wicked video! I sure hope you liked it as well.


Please note that all images were extracted from the video and are the property of their respective owner.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.