Sunday, October 08, 2017

Sky Scenes


Vapor trails sometimes make interesting sky scenes. The twilight pic was taken several years ago, in the fall of 2010. The winter scene may be more recent. Intersecting white lines in the sky remind me of the start of the old movie "Pressure Point."

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse

















This was taken yesterday, August 21, during a clear spell around 2:30 PM. Here in CT the eclipse was only partial. The weather was partly cloudy and hazy, but there were ample opportunities to view the event. I used a 150mm reflecting telescope with a 25mm eyepiece. I projected the image on to a white piece of paper.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Shot Down in Flames




                                                                                








This is a well-known pic of an Israeli Mirage being shot down over the Suez front in 1973. Lacking effective air to air missiles, an Egyptian MIG-21 had to close from behind and blast the Mirage with its cannon. Arab air to air successes were relatively rare but more numerous than Israel has admitted. Dupuy for example wrote that Israel lost 21 aircraft in air battles whereas Herzog admitted only five. Tom Cooper concluded that arab fighters killed 25-30 Israeli jets.



This photo, appearing in 1973, depicts the result of "a swirling dogfight" over the Golan heights. After being hit by Israeli fire, "a Soviet made Syrian jet crashed in a ball of flame," and the Israelis led off a captured Syrian pilot.
In fact, the jet wasn't a Syrian MIG or an SU. Note the tapering of the nose--quite unlike MIGs or Sukhois. Those aircraft had a blunt nose, with a small protruding cone for their radar.
The jet was in fact an Israeli F-4 Phantom, set ablaze and going down after an engagement with Syrian warplanes, probably MIG-21s. The original claim was typical of media bias favoring the Israeli version of events.
It is true, however, that Israelis scored most of the kills in '73 and there's confirmation of this. Below, a Syrian MIG-21 exploding after it was hit. The bottom pic shows an Egyptian MIG-21 going down late in the war, west of the canal. The arrow points to the pilot after ejection. After the loss of much of its SAM network, Egypt had to sacrifice many fighters to provide air cover for its forces.































References

No Victor No Vanquished by Dupuy
ARAB MIGs Vol. 6 by Cooper et al.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Suspicious character
















Back in March 2001 a Bulgarian woman sent me a letter with two of her photos enclosed. Dated June 2000, the photos are shown here. The person said she was 32, from Rousse (on the Danube), university educated, a nondrinker and nonsmoker. She mentioned no occupation, however. I suspected she was involved in the "world's oldest profession."
I replied but never received an answer. Some time later, on an epal site, I encountered a young Bulgarian guy. When I mentioned the woman, and asked if Rousse was a center of prostitution, he confirmed that it was. He explained that Rousse is the site of a bridge on the Danube and is exposed to a lot of international traffic such as truck drivers.
Curious to see if her address was a truck stop, I searched online. It was close--a truck driver academy. Building 10 (part of her return address) may be for extracurricular activity....




Saturday, June 24, 2017

Old Sculptures
















Some time ago, I stored old art objects in the basement. Surprisingly, the arrangement, and lighting, made them look rather good, so I decided to photograph them and present them here.
On the left is the bust of the mythical Perseus, which I've had since 1987. I got the alabaster eagle, right, that same year. The ruined columns, from Design Toscano, is more recent.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Alternate Scenario Wadi Mabouk
















I'd like to revisit the role of the Fourth Armored division's 3rd brigade on October 14, 1973. Previously, I suggested it would've fared better had it advanced through Wadi Mabouk at night and taken the Israeli armor from the rear, using night vision equipment. I don't know if the 3rd's T-55s had such gear. In any event, it may not have been necessary. Moonlight might've sufficed.
The date of full moon was October 11; last quarter occurred a week later, on the 18th. On the night of October 13-14, the time of the 3rd's advance, in this alternate scenario, the moon was intermediate between full and last quarter. It was then waning but still very bright. Rising between sunset and midnight, it would've illuminated the path of the 3rd toward its objectives.
After entering  the "Vadi Mabuk" (see map, lower middle) around 9 PM October 13, the 3rd's two advancing battalions would've reached the Mavdil road before midnight, and headed north along it.
The Israeli armor was probably positioned west of the Mavdil road, and mostly south of the Atifa road. There it would've been best able to defend the western entrance to the Mitla pass. In this scenario, the 3rd's leading battalion would've reached the Atifa-Mavdil junction but most of the battalion would've stayed south of it. The entire following battalion would've halted farther south. After forming a line parallel to the enemy, the 3rd's battalions would've headed west within range. With luck, the Israelis would be either unalert or would mistake the approaching battalions for reinforcements or supply vehicles. Aided by moonlight, the T-55 crews would halt at an appropriate distance, sight their targets and open fire. Assuming most Israeli tanks were facing west, their vulnerable rears and sides would've been exposed to fire. Dozens might've been knocked out or set ablaze. If the enemy was routed and the survivors fled, the two battalions could've returned to Egyptian lines directly, by heading southwest toward Nisan. If some Israeli tanks still blocked that route, the Egyptian commander could've either returned via Wadi Mabouk or ordered the reserve battalion to advance, take the remaining Israelis from the rear and clear a path for the two battalions to withdraw.
While the T-55s were battling, mechanized infantry might've carried out another mission--destroy Israeli artillery at the Mitla. Unlike the tanks, which would've headed west from the Mavdil, some mechanized infantry could've headed east, reached the Mitla, and assaulted gun positions. They might've killed, wounded and captured scores of artillerymen and touched off their ammunition dumps. A raid like that would've also enabled the 3rd's commander (and the 4rth's commander, Kabil) to claim they "attained their objective of reaching the Mitla," even if the infantry, like the rest of the brigade, would've pulled back before dawn i.e. back within SAM cover, before enemy jets pounded them as happened in real life.
So, even without night vision equipment, the 3rd brigade might've won a spectacular victory. Moonlight may have been adequate. One potential problem is it could've been a double edged sword. Moonlight might've enabled Israeli lookouts to spot the advancing 3rd, spoiling its attack, as actually happened, albeit in daylight when enemy air power was also a factor.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Postwar situation 1973-74
















This is from an old article by Drew Middleton appearing in The New York Times on January 3, 1974. I have a number of questions and comments.
Middleton wrote that west of the canal, facing the Israeli bridgehead, Egypt deployed a full strength infantry division of 11,800 men, an artillery brigade and "probably an armored brigade" (the 35th? 27th?)
"An Algerian armored division, deployed to the south of these forces along the shoe of the Gulf of Suez, is under the operational command of the Third Army."
As for the Second Army, besides 23,00 men east of the canal, with independent armored brigades (15th, 24th?) it had "another division in reserve on the west bank, between Tantara (sic) and Ismailia."
Several questions arise: Why was the Algerian armored division sent to the gulf of suez, where was the Fourth Armored Division, why was there a big gap between the 2nd and 3rd army west of the canal, and why wasn't the second's reserve division positioned to face the bridgehead?
Regarding the first question, the Algerians may have been sent south to guard the right flank of the Third Army, SW of Suez. But I doubt that. Although the Israelis kept over 20,000 men and three armored brigades west of the canal after November (when other units went back east) they contemplated attacking the 3rd Army in Sinai, not its positions west of the canal. Nevertheless, the Algerians were sorely needed where they were. If war resumed it was vital to reach the trapped divisions quickly. They were doomed, unless Cairo was able to resupply them, send reinforcements and reestablish SAM cover. The Algerian deployment reflected the importance of this mission. While the 4rth attacked via the Cairo-Suez road, Algerian armor might've broken through from the south.
The third and fourth issues remind me of what Sharon told Dayan after the war. Sharon, whose division fought in the northern part of the bridgehead, claimed there were gaps in the Egyptian deployment, so it would be easy to infiltrate through them and take the Egyptians from the rear. But I doubt there was a gap as large as the map seems to indicate. I assume the Second Army reserve was deployed to prevent a further northward advance, to Ismailia and beyond. Maybe the Egyptians feigned weakness in this area, to tempt the Israelis into deploying their armor there instead of guarding the Cairo-Suez road. But that's pure speculation.