Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website[s] of the Week: Maple Leaf Up

There are actually not one but three Maple Leaf Up sites: one died with its owner, but still contains valuable information; one is a thriving forum spun off from that first website; and another is a profit-making venture independent of the others.

The name was a natural for Canadian Military History. Before the Maple Leaf was the Canadian Flag, the Maple Leaf Route was how units, men, and supplies got to and from the Canadian forces at the front in Northwest Europe. Because the Canucks might be fighting in any cardinal direction at any given time, the road to the front was marked with the sign, Maple Leaf Up, and the road back to the rear, the depots, England, and Canada with Maple Leaf Down.

All three attempt to tell the story of the all-but-forgotten armed forces of the Dominion of Canada in the Second World War. Our favorite is actually the moribund, old, original website, Unfortunately, the original founder Geoff Winnington-Bell, passed away years ago, and the promise of the site was never entirely fulfilled.

1. Our Favorite:

Here is Winnington-Bell, describing his site and plans.

MAPLE LEAF UP is a private Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the all-volunteer Canadian Army Overseas in World War II.

We represent that generation of young Canadians who voluntarily risked their lives in Overseas Service in this tumultuous war, now all but forgotten. Many served, although not nearly enough; and too many paid the ultimate price for their honour. In doing so, however, their courage forever cast Canada as a nation willing to endure any hardship to ensure that the cancer of fascism shall not plague this fragile world of ours.

We remember these men, by the things they did and by the tools they employed to win their remarkable record. Through our efforts in preserving the vehicles, weapons and equipment of this historic era, we endeavour to perpetuate the memory of this trying time and of these magnificent men, who volunteered to serve their country at a cost inconceivable to Canadians facing the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Canada’s contribution was out of all proportion to the scanty population of the country at the time, and deserves to be memorialized. To put things in perspective, on D-Day the US covered two beaches, the UK two, and Canada one. By war’s end, there were whole divisions of Canadians in Northern Europe (and another in Italy), never mind the Canadians at sea or in the RCAF or RAF (there were even some Canadians who fought in the US forces. There always are). At the outbreak of the war in 1939, though, the Canadian population was just under 11.3 million, less than 10% of the American, and less than 25% of the British. Canada’s GDP imbalance with its allies was even stronger.

The Canadian standing army in 1939, the Permanent Force, was 5,000 officers and other ranks… practically a rounding error of the strength of her European enemies, and yet, she still managed to send a very significant force to fight in Europe. How Canada got from 5,000 men equipped with Great War hand-me-down weapons to fielding mighty forces on land, sea and air within five years is a story for the ages. Here’s the overview from the site:

Frantic calls went out across the country to the units of the Active Militia to begin mobilizing for the coming conflict; and to industry at large to gear up for war production.

Many still hungry from the lean years of the recent depression, men from all walks of life all across the country dropped what they were doing and flocked into the headquarters of their local regiments to volunteer their services to king and country. Some showed up to parade dressed in the moth-eaten uniforms their uncles or fathers had worn in 1918; others with nothing but what they had on their backs.

In the beginning, there were no uniforms, boots, kit or weapons for them, save a few well-worn leftovers from WW1. It did not matter. The men came anyway, possessed of the same spirit which had carved this country out of an unforgiving wilderness only a few generations before. From the city and the farm, from the small town, the mine and the vast wasteland of the Canadian Shield, they brought with them a unique, quiet determination to finish the job their fathers had begun only a few years before. Their Monarch and their Nation had asked them to help; they set aside the tools with which they had carved a life and a living out of a harsh world, and prepared to face an uncertain future whose only acceptable object was… Victory.

At the same time, our industry was setting up for wartime production, on an unprecedented scale. Vehicles, tanks, ships, aircraft, small arms and more poured off the assembly lines after a short, hectic tooling-up. While much of what was produced was adapted from British designs, all had a uniquely-Canadian stamp to it which denoted quality and reliability. Many examples survive today, and it’s because of this we’re able to bring you this web site, such as it is.

And our soldiers marched on, first to England in 1939, and hence to hitherto unknown environs such as Dieppe, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. It is not generally well known that until April 1945, a scant few weeks before the end of the war in Europe, the First Canadian Army was comprised entirely of volunteer troops. Canadian formations in both Italy and Northwest Europe consistently fought well-understrength through the balance of their wars, while hundreds of thousands of healthy, uniformed troops languished at home at the behest of a government lacking the will to impose overseas conscription. This, too, was as uniquely Canadian as was the tenacity and endurance of our fighting men themselves: the volunteers of the Canadian Army Overseas.

There is a Canadian spin to it, of course. The voluntary nature of Canadian service pre-1945 has less to do with Canadian public-spiritedness, and more to do with Canadian multiculturalism. Francophone Canadians were not interested in fighting for Great Britain, as they saw it, in either World War. And as far as fighting for France was concerned, they were as likely to sympathize with Pétain, the collaborator, as De Gaulle, the resister.

While many French Canadians rallied to the Red Ensign (Canada’s pre-’67 flag) and fought voluntarily for Canada, it wasn’t the perfectly-proportionally-represented minority depicted in modern Canadian war films. Canadian politicians and soldiers had to lead their French-speaking fellow citizens to war, they couldn’t order them.

Two things Maple Leaf Up does cover that are little credited elsewhere: Canadian war production and Canadian-specific vehicles.

But the site deserves to be read, as a look at the many great (and often unknown, especially to Yanks and Brits) contributions that Canadian soldiers, sailors, scientists and industrialists made to victory.

2: Interactive: MLU Forums

The Forums of the original site thrive today with Canadian and worldwide interest in history, arms, and equipment. Dedicated restorers (mostly Canadians, but there are Britons, Yanks and Australians involved, too) of Canadian military vehicles and artillery abound. Indeed, there’s some great antitank guns and other artillery represented here.  Here’s a 17 Pounder chassis (no tube; he has has a dummy built for display) that was recovered for restoration by Rob Fast in Western Canada in 2011. The 17 Pounder (which was about 3″ or 77 mm caliber) was the best antitank gun fielded by the Allies during the war. It was usually used with a full-caliber solid shot, but HE rounds and subcaliber APDS/T were also available.

There’s even one Australian, Tony Baker, who says he uses a 1942 Ford Canada CMP artillery tractor as his daily driver.

3: Plenty of Content:

MapleLeaf Up .ca calls itself “The Canadian Military History Web Magazine.” The best thing about this site is that it has a goodly number of war stories by Canadian WWII vets.

We were surprised by how interesting the story of the Canadian memorial atop Vimy Ridge was.

It took designer and sculptor Walter Allward 15 years from commission to consecration — using stone from Diocletian’s Palace. He always said the idea came to him in a dream.

The Canadian gains at Vimy were one of the rare accomplishments of the Battle of Arras, a typically unimaginative attempt to exchange soldiers’ lives for yardage of wasteland.

And here all these years, we thought Maple Leafs were just flags and the Toronto hockey team.

Taken together, these sites remind one of the days before the media-hound Trudeau clan, when Canada was a world power in the physical world, and not just the hockey rink and in NGO circles. It’s a reminder that for every 1%er Canadian one meets in a smug NGO expat enclave, Helping The Little Brown People by living like Cecil Rhodes with lots of ill-treated servants, there’s the 99% heritage of lumberjacks, voyageurs, and the sixty-eight survivors of the Newfoundland Regiment at the Somme (Reminder: we’ve got to write about them one of these days), even though the Newfies were technically not yet Canadians at that time — theirs was a separate Dominion, coequal with Canada and Australia, until later.


Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Right by Ike

This is a classy memorial to Ike. Naturally, it wasn’t what no-class Gehry had in mind. (It’s in a traffic circle in Bayeux).

We’ve written before about the shambling zombie calamity of a memorial that the talentless po-mo society architect Frank Gehry designed for the Eisenhower Memorial.  Which is how we get to Right by Ike, our Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week. (A bit light on “weapons,” even if Ike wasn’t, commanding arguably the most powerful combined joint force ever to bestride the planet).

The premise of Right by Ike is that any memorial should do right by the 20th Century military and political leader — which the Gehry selection and his deliberately insulting, demeaning design does not.

The selection of Gehry was done by a sham “competition” set up by Gehry pal Rocco Siciliano with the eventual “winner” — Gehry — preselected. The design itself is an eyesore, with steel chain-link-fence-like “tapestries” stretching high into the sky, signifying nothing. Gehry’s design contract has already experienced a 65% overrun, with one of the few things actually constructed to date — mockups of the “tapestries” — came in at 2,300% of budget. Still, Gehry insists that the overall project budget — initially $50 million — is finally stable at $150 million.

Gehry does not have a track record of successfully estimating costs:

A Poor Track Record for the Architect

Project Name Estimated Completion Actual Completion Estimated Cost Actual Cost
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles 1997 2003 $100 Million
(rev. from $50m)
$274 Million

Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Chicago 2000 2004 $10.8 Million $60 Million

Ray and Maria Stata Center, MIT, Boston January 2004 May 2004 $165 Million $315 Million

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 2005
orig. 2003
Cancelled for lack of funding $40 Million $200 Million
at cancellation

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial 2017
orig. 2015
$55-75 Million Currently $150 million

More than that, the buildings he has built have often had leaks, corrosion, and other structural problems. He’s very, very fashionable… he’s just not very good. And here’s what Gehry thinks of the guy he’s supposed to be memorializing, President and General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower:

Kind of like what the thinks of you. 

Then, there are the aesthetics of the memorial. The Eisenhower family was opposed until recently, but has been bought off by some added statues of Ike. Bruce Cole in The New Criterion described the architect’s jarring style as “gehrish,” in a review of a biography of the “starchitect” featuring this insight into Gehry’s love for chain-link:

Gehry… had a complicated psychological relation with chain-link fencing, which he discussed with the long-time Los Angeles celebrity therapist Milton Wexler.

…Wexler didn’t share Gehry’s admiration and deep feelings for chain-link fencing. He, Goldberger says, thought of the material “more in terms of prison yards . . . and he was troubled by Frank’s fondness for it.” Gehry was offended when Wexler told him he “was expressing anger with chain link” and that he needed to do “angry things with this corrugated metal and things to piss people off, to get attention.”

But wait. Why are we raving about a bad architectural design, from a poseur of an architect, in a Website of the Week? Because the Eisenhower Memorial is at a crossroads — rumor is that a few of the weasel Republican Congressmen who dream of circulating in Society are willing to suck up to Gehry to do it. For example, critic Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) has been bought off with a seat on the commission board — cha-chingg! Right By Ike, which wants to do right by Ike (naturally), is a website that consolidates everything you need to know about this fiasco.

Here’s one more graphic from the site: comparing the three most revered Presidential memorials with the Ikesore, what would it cost to build them in current dollars?

An Expensive Proposal

Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 1
Washington Memorial
Cost: $45.3 million*
Lincoln Memorial
Cost: $48.6 million
Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 1
Jefferson Memorial
Cost: $42.4 million
Eisenhower Memorial
Currently $150 million

Right by Ike’s Sam Roche points out (at Breitbart) that it’s not too late: there’s a guy in Washington who’s built a few buildings without 2,300% budget overruns before. What’s his name?

If there’s anything helpful to be done, it’ll be noted at Right by Ike.

Wednesday Weapons Website off the Week: CounterJihad

We have found good information and argumentation on the site and its related YouTube channel. It had gone radio-silent after the election, and may be an Israeli-sponsored propaganda effort aimed at the election; despite that, it was generally right about the problems the USA has been having identifying with and targeting an enemy that has no comparable difficulty targeting us. 

If it takes a gang of lobbyists whose paychecks ultimately get accounted in shekels to wake up America, about all we can say about that its, “Thanks, Israel.”

Of course, it could be part of the legendary Russian Scheme to Elect Trump. Russia, too, has problems with jihad and is amenable to making common cause with us, within limits. (The US, you will recall, sponsored an MB takeover of Egypt, and armed MB and Al-Q related terrorist groups in Libya and Syria, after exposing the secular/liberal opposition to Qaddafi and Assad to extermination by both sides).

So is it Jerusalem? The Kremlin? Huh. Maybe it’s just a bunch of patriotic Americans. Because on the issue of the global jihad, the policy that is best for Israel or Russia — to crush it utterly — is the policy that is best for the United States. Not to mention the UK, where The Religion Of Peace™ just perpetrated its only real sacrament, murder, again this week.

From our point of view, it’s very hard to quibble with their election-time Five Point Plan, only some parts of which are being executed already (despite resistance from extremists’ friends in the Deep State, the DC nonprofit/media nexus and among the post-American legal and judiciary element). Explained in a video, complete with portentous-toned narrator:

While the website hasn’t been touched since the election (cheapskate Israelis?), the YouTube channel showed a sign of life this month, posting a new video for the first time in six months. So keep an eye on Counter Jihad. Whoever is behind it, their message is one more Americans (and other Westerners) need to see.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Camopedia

You probably didn’t know you needed a link to a wiki about camouflage uniforms patterns, etc., but if we were to give you one — this link to — do you think you can find something good to do with it?

Sorry for the brevity of this W4 this week, but, well, in the game of life vs. blog, sometimes blog goes home with the “Participant — 2d Place” trophy. On the plus side, we’re pretty much through the Ides of March without being assassinated, so we’re one up on Julius Caesar!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Radix Press

Steve Sherman’s Radix Press is a narrow publisher indeed: most of what it publishes is lists and databases, but they all relate to Special Forces in Vietnam (where Steve himself served). Along with many Who’s Who books (for instance, Who’s Who in MAC-V SOG, known to SF vets and wannabe busters as “the yellow book”), he also publishes data on CDs, a set of reprints of Special Forces Vietnam’s in-house magazine, The Green Beret, which was published and printed on Okinawa and flown to Vietnam from 1966-1970, and a website full of SF Vietnam information.

Discussions in the comments recently brought this site up to mind; we may even have used it as a W4 before, but if so, it’s about due again.

The name of the website is memorable enough: Along with the listing-type stuff, which is admittedly most interesting to other SF vets and specialized historians, there are books of after-action reports. Many of these documents can’t be found online or in libraries.

Steve’s lists of who’s who in each camp are largely on the site in the Work in Progress pages. Even the Army doesn’t have these listings; when SOCOM historians want to talk to the guys at a particular A-Camp, they check with Steve. His data is not 100% accurate, but it is based on copies of orders that he has seen with his own eyes, so it’s as good as data gets.

The website has some downsides. It’s hard to navigate, and looks like something from the 1990s, because it is from the 1990s (and even includes some time-capsule early HTML faux pas, such as scrolling text).

But one thing you can do very easily: search for Vietnam SF soldiers by name. You can find some of their specific assignments (because these are based on official orders, and SF guys had better than average luck and skill at getting orders changed, or getting more congenial orders issued, there’s a few percent error rate). Here we search for the late Sergeant Major Reg Manning:

And we see his Vietnam rank, specialty, and assignments. Easy! (And if you follow the links, you may see his assignment dates).


Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Mosul Eye

If you’re looking for an eye on what’s happening in Iraq, on the front lines of the confusing civil war between Iraqi Shias and their Iranian terror-sponsoring allies, ISIL Sunnis and their Saudi terror-sponsoring allies, Iraqi Kurds and their lack of any real allies, and so many shape-shifting, allegiance-hopping, back-stabbing small factions that you can’t tell the players even with a program, we give you Mosul Eye.

It is a weblog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed, purportedly direct from the embattled northern Iraq town of Mosul (naturally). The author claims to be a historian resident in the city. There are some debates about the author’s actual identity, and certainly ISIL sympathizers including nominally-American functionaries of Moslem Brotherhood fronts have claimed that the site is an American or other foreign intelligence operation. That seems unlikely from the author’s Iraqi-flavored English, and from his criticisms of allied and specifically US forces (mostly for bombing areas he says are populated only by civilians). There are also a few “tells” that the author is, at least nominally, Sunni.

There is nothing specific about weapons here, but you will occasionally get updates from allied forces relayed through here, to the locals, but also updates from the locals relayed, perhaps, to the allied forces.

Updates are sometimes sporadic. Last Blog update at this writing was 2/26, but the Facebook and Twitter feeds are still regularly posting.

The Iraqi Civil War kicked off by the US invasion (and kicked into high gear by the 2011 US bugout) has been going on more than three times as long as the Spanish Civil War. No end to the suffering is imminent. One prays for the survival and success of the individual behind Mosul Eye, and the defeat of ISIL and other extremists.

Wednesday Thursday Weapons Website of the Week: Burr Smith

This is not Burr Smith’s (full name, Robert Burr Smith) Facebook Page — he didn’t live to see Facebook, or personal computers for that matter — but it is a tribute page to Smith, an Army Airborne, Special Forces and unconventional warfare legend, set up by his son. Hey, how many guns can you ID from this grainy picture? (Four are easy, we’ll list ’em after the jump).

Smith was a member of the famous E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, jumping into Normandy on the night of 5/6 June 1944, and that’s not even where he became legendary.

Sorry for the day late and brevity, but… well, sorry not sorry. Go to the page. Learn about this guy. There are a few books about the secret war in Laos that will help you understand a guy who began there with White Star and was there on and off for about as long as an American was welcome.

Continue reading

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week:

As a clever reader might deduce from the name, the site provides information on Naval Weapons, mostly from the classical 20th Century age of battleship warfare, but with an objective to cover the period from 1880-present.

Extensive technical information resides here: not only on naval guns from AA popguns to ship-shredding 18-inchers, but also on torpedoes, mines, depth charges, rockets and hybrid weapons.

While a lot of sites discuss the main armament of American, British and Japanese capital ships, few go deep into the secondary and tertiary armament of these vessels, and fewer still review the armaments of smaller combatant vessels, or any vessel of secondary seafaring nations, such as Russia, Italy or Austria-Hungary. This site doesn’t get every single gun on every single vessel… yet. But it does seem like that’s their ambition.

Looking at the rise and fall of great guns through history, it’s interesting to see how gun caliber, range, throw weight, and power rose from the dawn of the Dreadnought Era to peak in the great battleships of World War II … and has declined ever since. US Navy ships now have nothing greater than 155mm (approx. 6″) on the Zumwalt class, and 5″ guns on most cruisers and destroyers. (And the ammunition for the 155 is not being procured; the Navy instead wants to convert the Zumwalts to fire the ground forces’ 155mm guided Excalibur rounds, but their first cut at the costs for doing that is $250 million for the engineering, before buying the first bullet — and, of course, before the Pentagon’s usual cost overruns.

The “big gun” on the all-but-defenseless LCS class is a 57mm (~2.3″), also selected for Coast Guard cutters. So if the Navy that Ray Mabus built gets in a war with the Coast Guard, they’ll be at technological parity, at least.

But that was a long and bitter digression, and this post is really about Along with the already-mentioned weapons information, there are some excellent historical articles on some aspect of naval warfare: for example, this one on German radar development.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Håkans Aviation Page

Håkan Gustavsson is a Swede with an unusual area of expertise: the peculiar subset of World War II fighter aces who flew and scored kills in biplanes. These two-winged holdovers from World War I often performed little better than their Great War forebears: they were slow, draggy, had open cockpits, were generally made from tube-and-fabric construction, and were armed with two measly rifle-caliber machine guns. They were sitting ducks for more heavily armed and much faster modern monoplanes.

Welcome to my site about biplane fighter aces, their aircraft and major aerial operations were biplane fighters took part.
The site also contains other aviation related subjects which I find interesting, including information about Swedish voluntary aviators from the Second World War.
If anyone could provide me with corrections/additions, feel free to email me!


via Håkans Aviation page – Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War.

We found one of the most interesting pages to be the one on Swedish volunteers in Finnish service. But in general there are more, and more interesting, biplanes and pilots involved in the war, on all sides, than we ever imagined.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: IC on the Record

This Tumblr, Intelligence Community on the Record, is a real-world resource for anyone interested in the US intelligence community. IC on the Record was created by the United States’ intelligence community Powers That Be to react to the public relations shellacking the community and the Obama Administration had taken since the Snowden defection; it remains live in the Trump Administration (we think. Last post was on 1/20).

(President Trump is widely seen has having fences to mend with the community, with both sides having a share of the blame, Trump for blasting the intelligence professionals and the community, which tends to be top-heavy with idle Washington bureaucrats, for leaking documents which appeared to frame Trump. Accordingly, it makes sense that his first vist to any agency was to The Agency (YouTube video of officials’ speeches; Trump beings about a half-hour in). It also makes sense that IC on the Record will survive any admin-change website purge.) 

In case you’ve been under a rock, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden defected to the Russians under a smokescreen of revelations in the media, information calculated to embarrass, shame or disrupt national intelligence operations.

This was made possible, of course, by the overreach of said operations, increasingly targeted on US persons and increasingly abused for reasons beyond foreign intelligence; but to the irritation of insiders, only some of Snowden’s and his media and foreign intelligence service enablers’ accusations have been correct.

(It may be more irritating when the accusations are correct; the FISA court is clearly, for example, a rubber stamp that gives no serious consideration to the constitution or the rights of men, a statement that stings the expensive do-nothing court all the more because it is true. For example, periodically the FISA court rubber-stamps NSA dragnet collection of all American telephony metadata for another period… the actual rubber stamp is, of course, classified).

The site has information in the following categories:

  • Official Statements
  • Declassified Documents
  • Testimony
  • Speeches & Interviews
  • Fact Sheets
  • Oversight & Compliance
  • Video

Of these, the only one of real value is the  Declassified Documents section. Occasionally there is a nugget in congressional testimony. The rest of it is pablum and obfuscation written by PR flacks.

Many of the declassified documents are written by lawyers and they’re worth reading for the many fine-print and exact-terminology ways of obfuscating what their clients, the spymasters building their surveillance state, are actually doing. Here’s an example of that:

But one thing the tumblr did do is flag us to the DNI’s release of lists of the books and excerpts of the documents that were recovered by the sensitive site exploitation of Osama Bin Laden’s Abbotabad, Pakistan hideout. The third, and they say final, tranche of declassified (and translated) material from Bin Laden’s Bookshelf was published on 19 January 2017.

It includes, inter alia, this gem in a letter to two of Bin Laden’s sons (.pdf), that indicates (1) how sophisticated the Iranian intelligence services have become, and (2) how paranoid Bin Laden had become. (Well, serious people really were out to get him. Was it really paranoia?)


You and the brethren should remember any questionable action or observation in any hospital in Iran. If they inject you with a shot, this shot might be loaded with a tiny chip. The syringe size may be normal but the needle is expected to be larger than normal size. The chip size may be as long as a seed of grain but very thin and smooth. Notice if they take any of you for an operation, for good or no good reason, and inject you. Make sure to remember any comments about the reasons for setting you free.

Take notes of dates and times of any of such actions.

The Reason for Going to Peshawar:

There are instructions to all brethren to get out of Waziristan. It became clear that the region is well known to the enemy. Upon receiving this message, move immediately into Peshawar. I told the brethren to move their children to inside Pakistan if they fail to go to Peshawar.

We can’t guarantee you’ll find something fascinating like that in every document you pick up from the archive, but you just might.

Makes you wonder what they got that isn’t declassified.