Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Top Gun Day – Behind the Scenes (Visual Effects)

Famous Control Tower at NAS Miramar - aka Top Gun

Famous Control Tower at NAS Miramar – aka Top Gun


Today, May 13 marks the 7th annual “Top Gun Day”, where you too have permission to buzz the tower and quote cheesy lines from the megahit 1986 jet-fighter flick.

(or better yet, just mill about yelling “DANGER-ZONE!!” at random)

And in celebration of this “Need for Speed” filled day, may we present to you a behind the scenes look at how the movie was made. The entire series is fascinating, but the visual effects portion is the most intriguing. Be warned however, it’s kinda like peeking behind the screen in the Land of OZ… a little bit of the magic gets revealed in the process… however the technical aspect is still just as cool. Continue reading Top Gun Day – Behind the Scenes (Visual Effects)

Military-Grade Awesome

Archiving History

AF Archive March ARB

Towering over a man are the US Air Force archives at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, CA. Volumes upon volumes of film are stored at the Defense Imagery Management Operation Center. Soon, that film will be available to everyone via the series of tubes we call the innerwebs.

Continue reading Archiving History

Military-Grade Awesome

Pew! Pew!


No discussion of lasers could ever be complete without at least one space laser, and courtesy of Soviet Russia, here is one such weapon. While this little ray gun doesn’t seem to have ever gone to space, it does appear (judging by some semi-literately translated scientific papers) to have been a functional low output prototype that might have actually worked as intended in the cold vacuum of space.

Continue reading Pew! Pew!

Military-Grade Awesome

Vudi Dyatel!

In the depths of the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation lurks a giant antenna array. Depending on the source, the Russians shut it down when the Chernobyl ‘incident’ happened, or perhaps they kept the whole thing running for a few years afterwards. Just what was it all for? When the array came online in 1976, its presence was announced by a 10 Hz ‘tapping’ all across the shortwave bands, and the ideas began to fly. Was it a radar system, or a weather control system, or perhaps even some sort of mind control weapon? The prevailing theory was that it was an over the horizon radar used for missile defense, and after the end of the Cold War, it was confirmed to be the transmitter array for a Duga-3 system, part of the Soviet ABM early-warning network, named Steel Yard by NATO.

Continue reading Vudi Dyatel!

Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

USS Ford

This morning the new “Next Generation” aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was christened during ceremonies in the Newport News Shipbuilding facilities, Hampton Roads Virginia… you can watch a replay of the ceremonies here.

At 1,080 feet long, 100 feet high, a beam of 134 feet and 250 feet wide at the Flight-Deck, this behemoth used around 47,000 tons of steel and will have over 90,000 tons of displacement.

Replacing the ex-USS Enterprise, it is the first entirely new class of U.S. aircraft carrier in 45 years since the Nimitz of 1968. The island is 140 feet further aft than previous designs and its three aircraft elevators are electromagnetic – doing away with the traditional cable-hoisting. (I wonder if they are still keeping the old-style warning horns? Those things were cool.)

But the BIG news is the Navy’s new EMALS system, which translates into landlubber speak as the “Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System”. This modern technology does away with the steam-powered catapults that have flung aircraft into the sky for the last half-century, which is both exciting and a little sad. Continue reading Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

Military-Grade Awesome

Sturmgewehr 44

Ardennenoffensive, Grenadiere in Luxemburg

You may have seen this photo before. It shows Volksgrenadiers fighting in the Ardennes offensive by Germany in WWII. Like most people, I wondered what kind of rifle the grenadiers are using. It’s a Sturmgewehr 44 (storm rifle 1944), and it’s considered by many to be the first true “assault rifle”.

Continue reading Sturmgewehr 44

Airborne Awesomosity, Military-Grade Awesome

Flying Boats – How The Mighty Have Fallen


Something Looks a Bit Off But You Can’t Quite Figure It Out

image source –

So the end of the line was rapidly approaching for the flying boat but it wasn’t going to go out quietly. The sounds of jets on the water could be heard for miles.


Continue reading Flying Boats – How The Mighty Have Fallen

Military-Grade Awesome

Soviet-Indian Nuclear Proliferation


The K-43 was a Soviet Charlie-class nuclear missile sub launched in 1966. It served the Soviet navy well, but would soon go on a journey of national intrigue.

Continue reading Soviet-Indian Nuclear Proliferation

Military-Grade Awesome

M3A1 Scout Car

M3A1 Scout Car

One of my IT guys recently told me that one of the things that makes me more likable than most engineers is I’m willing to admit when I don’t know something. Let’s face it, us engineers tend to be the classical “know it all”. Well, when I came across this beast at the Motor Muster (read about it on our sister site Hooniverse) I had to admit I didn’t know much. I knew that’s a 50-cal BMG up top and two 30-cal BMGs on either side, but that was the extent of it.

Continue reading M3A1 Scout Car

Military-Grade Awesome

Sub-Sonic: Britain’s Hedgehog


Yesterday we looked at a less than successful weapon developed by the awesomely named Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development. Today, we look at one that was much more successful. Not to be confused with the Soviet Fire Hedgehog, the British Hedgehog was an anti-submarine weapon that actually proved more deadly than depth charges.

Continue reading Sub-Sonic: Britain’s Hedgehog