Wednesday What We’re Reading (Nov. 20, 2019)

So, Winter Wargaming is Rule the Waves 2. For those outside of the know, it covers naval architecture and battles at sea between 1900 and 1955. I’m thinking France for this game, given that it has a clear route to dominating the Mediterranean, and that’s always a fun place to play.



Science and Technology

Grab Bag

Protests, Rebellions, Etc.

  • Bolivia protests inspire Chilean protests? – I didn’t actually read this one. It just indicates that there are protests going on in Chile.
  • Hong Kong protesters not driven by hope – “They talked about Xinjiang, and what China had done to the Uighur minority. I’ve heard about the fate of the Uighurs from so many protesters over the months. China may have wanted to make an example out of the region, but the lesson Hong Kongers took was in the other direction—resist with all your might, because if you lose once, there will be a catastrophe for your people, and the world will ignore it.”
  • Scenes from Hong Kong, again

7 thoughts on “Wednesday What We’re Reading (Nov. 20, 2019)

  1. Chris Bradshaw

    Hold up. I thought the Economist was better than this. That chart in their carrier-bashing article on how combat ranges today are less than half what they were in the 1950s is absolutely hogwash.

    Wait, so what were we flying in the 50s off of the Forrestal?

    The Skyraider has a 1300 nautical mile range in its wikipedia box, but actual combat radius with a useful payload of 4k lbs of bombs and external fuel was 520 nautical miles.

    The F2H Banshee’s combat radius was only 330 nautical miles with an external tank. Not particularly impressive either.

    FJ3? Even worse at 245 nautical miles combat radius in a ground attack configuration.

    What about the legendary A-4D? 575 nm with external tanks, 175 nm without tanks. Oops.

    The A-3D comes close at a radius of 1180 nm with 4k lbs of ordnance, but that precludes actually carrying the strategic nuke it was designed to haul. Plus, it was obsoleted by Polaris, so we don’t actually need to perform that mission today.

    The average for those 5 jets in their longest range configuration (and including the giant strategic bomber) is only 570 nm. Not bad for the 50s, but a far cry from 1200.

    1. Fishbreath Post author

      You’re quite right, and that one (maybe ferry range vs. combat radius?) is a trap I hadn’t even considered.

      As large a problem as that is the one about targeting, which nobody ever covers in enough detail.

  2. Chris Bradshaw

    Yeah, the only way anyone would have ever gotten a 1200 nm figure would be by looking at max ferry range with no ordnance, although their numbers for more modern air wings are okay.

    Regarding targeting of carrier groups, the most interesting system to me seems to have been the Soviet nuclear-powered Legenda RORSAT orbital radar network for their P-700 missiles. The ChiComs haven’t seemed to copy that one yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

    1. Fishbreath Post author

      The RORSATs and the missions to shoot them down were my among the most interesting parts of Red Storm Rising.

      Also fun was the pre-unveiling guess at what the F-117 was, apropos of nothing beyond the preceding sentence.

  3. Chris Bradshaw

    Seems like orbital decay has done our Space Ace’s job for her, although the Rooskies are replacing them with the new, higher altitude, and thankfully not radioactive Liana birds. Info on those is a little scarce, but it does seem like a very valuable capability to have.

    Shooting down satellites is sexy, but the moment we touch their birds, they’ll knock out ours as well. Losing GPS, orbital recon, communications, and HBO is bad enough, but Kessler syndrome is terrifying on a whole new level.

    It’s a pity there isn’t an equivalent cultural phenomenon to Red Storm Rising for our new standoff with the Chicoms, although Ghost Fleet made a passable attempt, complete with equally wild speculation on hardware. The best Cold War Gone Hot book in my opinion has to be Ralph Peter’s Red Army, because of its comparative lack of tech-wank and a plausible commie win.

    1. Fishbreath Post author

      In the event of satellite shootdowns, SpaceX represents a massive strategic asset for the US side. Give it a few years, until they have their reusable upper stage, and then you can skip all the fancy space-hardening and launch swarms of cheap satellites into fast-decaying orbits.

      I’ll put Red Army on the list. I can’t resist a good Cold War Gone Hot book.

  4. Chris Bradshaw

    The whole point of a Cold War Gone Hot book is to scare folks into wanting more defense spending and better inter-NATO command integration. Having the West win kind of defeats that point, yet Red Army is pretty much the only book that paints a convincing Russian win. Plus, all the viewpoint characters are Warsaw Pact too.

    As a line officer and then a Foreign Area Officer specializing in the USSR at the time, he knew his stuff well enough to write for the Russians, and even today the realism seems spot on.

    I wonder how soon the Chinese catch up to Musk in reusable orbital launchers. This kind of advantage never lasts forever.


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