Dec 042012

Iran recently released photos of equipment  they threaten can be used for swarm attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf. The concept of course is to overwhelm a ship’s defenses by sheer numbers. These first images illustrate craft utilizing ‘ground-effect’ technology. I question how much weight of weaponry they could carry, how stealthy to radar, and as one who has done a bit of boating, I wonder how these behave on rough water?

The concept of ‘wing-in-ground-effect’ (WIG) vehicles is certainly not new. There have been many concepts and attempts over the years. Here is an extreme example.  From 1987 into early 1990’s, the Russian navy operated the MD-160 Lun. Nearly as big as the Spruce Goose, it had eight turbojets, six missile launchers, and advanced radar tracking on the nose and tail. Two things to note of interest: it is skimming over smooth water, and those dates correspond to the fall of the Soviet Union.

And then there is this fleet of Iranian mini subs in the following illustration. Speed, range, guidance, and that pesky question of heavy munitions comes up again. Both types of equipment shown here are based out of the port of Bandar Abbas, strategically located just west of the Strait of Hormuz. Several interesting topics come to mind, which will be enumerated below. As an aside, if someone had told me when I was a young man that this is what I had to do to get 72 virgins, or even one for that matter, I might have just moved to West Hollywood.

Seeing these crew members at attention on these mini subs reminded me of a photo I had seen taken in Kure,  Japan soon after the surrender.

The common term then was midget subs, but the picture has a giant effect. All these midget subs stacked like cord wood, as well as thousands of aircraft, were being held back for a massive last-ditch suicide attack against the inevitable invasion ofJapan by thousands upon thousands of young American boys and men. The resulting carnage unleashed had Operation Downfall come to pass is beyond imagining.

A pre-invasion study estimated that conquering Japan would cost 1.7 to 4 million American casualties, including 400,000 to 800,000 fatalities.  Japan would suffer five to ten million Japanese fatalities.

Numbers too awful to contemplate, and unfortunately often forgotten. Certainly such statistics were not considered  by those arrested in 1995 at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for throwing ash and blood on the cockpit display of the Enola Gay.

Today, the Enola Gay and many other representative aircraft which have served to protect our rights to free self expression sit proudly in the Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to Dulles Airport. A place well worth a visit.


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