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Unconventional Warfare

I read the article “U.S. Should Invest in Truly Unconventional Forms of Warfare” in the January 2012 issue with great interest, as it represents the sort of forward thinking we need today.

As good as the article is, I think author Russell Aldrich went seriously adrift in the second paragraph.

“If China decided to sell [U.S. Treasury] bonds and invest elsewhere, it could have potentially devastating effects for the U.S. economy.”

This is a trap that more famous writers have also fallen into. Please stop a minute and ask: To whom would the Chinese sell? Not the European Central Bank, as they would not trade shaky dollars for even more shaky Euros. Maybe the Somali Pirates Retirement Fund or the Medellin Cartel Investment Trust would take a few billion, but they couldn’t put a dent in the trillion that the Chinese hold.

No. The Chinese are stuck with them, as there is no possible buyer. The shoes, shirts, and cell phones the Chinese shipped over are gone forever, and all they have is a lot of engraved paper. Or, worse yet, blips on a computer screen! Remember, the only reason you have a $1,000 dog is because I’m willing to give you two $500 cats for it.

Please think hard about this: Who is a possible, credible, capable buyer for the bonds the Chinese hold? Well, yes, we could buy them back for .15 cents on the dollar, like we did with the billions of dollars worth of hotels the Japanese built here in the 90s. The Japanese knew real estate always goes up. The Chinese thought the dollar was as good as gold until they found out we are borrowing $1 billion a day just to stay afloat.

The rest of your article is, as the Brits once said, “sterling.”

Richard Keogh
Honolulu, HI


Rail Guns

Your “Viewpoint, An Inexpensive Solution For Quickly Launching Military Satellites Into Space” in the March 2012 issue of National Defense Magazine appears to have few inaccuracies.

In the second paragraph “of ‘Iranian Super Gun’ fame.” If I remember correctly from watching the History Channel, that was the “Iraqi Super Gun” as Saddam Hussein was in pursuit of the Super Gun.

The bottom paragraph should state something to the effect that two magnetic fields are created (one for each rail) opposing each other and creating a force according to Lorentz’s Force Law on the armature to repel it in the desired direction. Of course, this is dependent upon the direction of the electric current flow.

Also, I am not quite certain why “The energy created by the electrostatic discharge is measured in mega joules (one joule=6.241506363e+18? Volts)” is included in the article since it does not flow with the article.

By the way, the “one joule=6.241506363e+18? Volts” should be “one joule=6.241506363e+18 electron Volts.”

Tom Wilson
Armament Research, Development
and Engineering Center
Rock Island, IL


The article “An Inexpensive Solution For Quickly Launching Military Satellites Into Space” was particularly significant because apart from the High Altitude Research Project (HARP) it drew attention to Gerald Bull and his work.

First however, the precise 4,265 feet per second velocity quoted is low. According to the Artillery Ammunition Manual TM43-0001-28 the tang gun M256 fires the M829 APFSDS-T projectile at a velocity of 5,510 feet per second. The HARP program produced much higher muzzle velocities.

I have a copy of the Bull and C. H. Murphy book, Paris Kanonen-The Paris Guns (Willhelmgeschutze and Project Harp: the Application of Major Caliber Guns to Atmospheric and Space Research). The first part of the book analyzes the firing of the 21-centimeter guns, which bombarded Paris from around 70 miles in World War I. These were 38 centimeter and 35.5-centimeter railroad guns fitted with extended 21-centimeter barrel liners and were probably the first guns in service to have a muzzle velocity of 5,000 feet per second. Bull denied that these guns inspired him to modify the 16-inch guns and smaller calibers in a similar manner for use in the HARP program. World War II descendent of the Paris Guns, the 21-centimeter K12, was an entirely new gun, which fired a conventional projectile at a muzzle velocity of 5,331 feet per second and a range of 72 miles.

The HARP modified 16-inch gun — 86 calibers long — gave a muzzle velocity of 7,100 feet per second. At Highwater, Quebec, a 16-inch gun modified to 126 calibers long gave a muzzle velocity of between 11,000 and 12,000 feet per second.

Bull applied German technology to design a light-weight, long-range gun based on the design of the German V3 — a 14-centimeter HD multi chambered articulated gun, code name, High Pressure Pump. Barrels for this gun were seized by the United States. One section of these barrels went to the U.S. Air Force Museum at the RAF Museum at Duxford, England.

Leonard E. Capon
Mesa, AZ

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