Archive for March 28th, 2011

March 28, 2011

Shawn Nelson

tank

Shawn Nelson (1959 – 1995) was a U.S. Army veteran and unemployed plumber who stole an M60 Patton tank from a United States National Guard Armory in San Diego, California and went on a rampage, destroying cars, fire hydrants, and an RV before being shot dead by police. The tank’s weaponry was unloaded, but Nelson led police on a 23-minute, televised chase through the streets of San Diego. The tank had a top speed of just 30 miles per hour, but the 57-ton vehicle easily plowed through road signs, traffic lights, and crushed a van against a recreational vehicle, then plowed through the RV.

Nelson attempted to knock down a bridge by running in to the supports, but gave up after he failed to topple it with the first few hits. He eventually became caught on a concrete median of State Route 163, as he attempted to cross the median into the oncoming traffic. Four police officers climbed onto the tank and were able to open the hatch. The officers ordered Nelson to surrender, but he said nothing and began lurching the tank back and forth in attempt to free it from the median. Officer Paxton’s partner, Richard Piner, leaned in and shot Nelson. The bullet struck Nelson in the shoulder. Nelson later died in the hospital.

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March 28, 2011

Marvin Heemeyer

killdozer

Marvin Heemeyer (1951 – 2004) was a welder and an automobile muffler repair shop owner. Outraged over the outcome of a zoning dispute, he armored a bulldozer with layers of steel and concrete and used it to demolish the town hall, a former judge’s home, and other buildings in Granby, Colorado.

The rampage ended when the bulldozer became stuck, and after a standoff with law enforcement agencies, Heemeyer killed himself with a handgun. He had been feuding with town officials, particularly over fines for violating city ordinances and a zoning dispute regarding a concrete factory constructed opposite to his muffler shop that caused his business to fail. Heemeyer took about a year and a half to prepare for his rampage.

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March 28, 2011

Star Fort

A star fort, or ‘trace italienne,’ is a fortification in the style that evolved during the age of gunpowder, when cannon came to dominate the battlefield, and was first seen in the mid-15th century in Italy. Passive ring-shaped (enceinte) fortifications of the Medieval era proved vulnerable to damage or destruction by cannon fire, when it could be directed from outside against a perpendicular masonry wall.

In addition, an attacking force that could get close to the wall was able to conduct undermining operations in relative safety, as the defenders could not shoot at them from nearby walls. In contrast, the star fortress was a very flat structure composed of many triangular bastions, specifically designed to cover each other, and a ditch. Further structures, such as ravelins, hornworks or crownworks, and detached forts could be added to create a complex symmetrical structure.

March 28, 2011

Vauban

huningue

Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban (1633 – 1707), commonly referred to as Vauban [voh-bahn], was a Marshal of France and the foremost military engineer of his age, famed for his skill in both designing fortifications and breaking through them. He also advised Louis XIV on how to consolidate France’s borders, to make them more defensible. Vauban made a radical suggestion of giving up some land that was indefensible to allow for a stronger, less porous border with France’s neighbors.

Vauban was born in Burgundy, to a family of minor nobility, but at the age of ten he was left an orphan, and his youth was spent amongst the peasantry of his native place. A fortunate event brought him under the care of a member of the Carmelites (a Catholic religious order), who undertook his education, and the grounding in mathematics, science and geometry.

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March 28, 2011

Siege Engine

A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent city walls and other fortifications in siege warfare. Some are operated close to the fortifications, while others attack from a distance. From antiquity, siege engines were constructed largely of wood and tended to use mechanical advantage to fling stones and similar missiles. With the development of gunpowder and improved metallurgical techniques, siege engines became artillery. Collectively, siege engines or artillery combined with the necessary troops and transport vehicles to conduct a siege are referred to as a ‘siege-train.’

The earliest engine was the battering ram, developed by the Assyrians, followed by the catapult in ancient Greece. The Spartans used battering rams in the Siege of Plataea in 429 BCE, but it seems that the Greeks limited their use of siege engines to assault ladders, though Peloponnesian forces used something resembling flamethrowers. The Carthaginians used siege towers and battering rams against the Greek colonies of Sicily.

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March 28, 2011

Churchill Crocodile

churchill crocodile

The Churchill Crocodile was a British flame-throwing tank of late Second World War. It was introduced as one of the specialized armored vehicles developed under Major-General Percy Hobart and known as one of ‘Hobart’s Funnies.’ It was produced from October 1943, in time for the Normandy invasion. 400 imperial gallons of fuel and the compressed nitrogen propellant, enough for eighty one-second bursts, were stored in a 6½ ton detachable armored trailer towed by the Crocodile. The trailer, connected to the tank by a three way armored coupling, could be jettisoned from within the tank if necessary. The thrower had a range of up to 120 yards.

The pressure required had to be primed on the trailer by the crew as close to use as feasible, because it could not be maintained for very long. The fuel was used at 4 gallons per second; refuelling took at least 90 minutes and pressurization around 15 minutes. The fuel burned on water and could be used to set fire to woods and houses. The flamethrower could project a ‘wet’ burst of unlit fuel which would splash around corners in trenches or strong points. It was used so successfully against bunkers that many bunkers surrendered after the first ranging shots. Aspects of the mechanism were considered by the British to be so secret that disabled units, if they could not be recovered, were rapidly destroyed by any means, even air strike if necessary.

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March 28, 2011

Hobart’s Funnies

Hobart

Hobart’s Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during World War II by the United Kingdom’s 79th Armored Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France in 1942.

These tanks played a major part on the Commonwealth beaches during the landings at Normandy. They may be considered the forerunners of the modern Combat engineering vehicle. They were named after their commander, British Military engineer Percy Hobart.

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