Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017
The Type VIIC was the workhorse of the German U-boat force, with 568 commissioned from 1940 to 1945. The first VIIC boat commissioned was the U-69 in 1940. The Type VIIC was an effective fighting machine and was seen almost everywhere U-boats operated, although its range of only 8,500 nautical miles was not as great as that of the larger Type IX (11,000 nautical miles), severely limiting the time it could spend in the far reaches of the western and southern Atlantic without refueling from a tender or U-boat tanker. The VIIC came into service toward the end of the "First Happy Time near the beginning of the war and was still the most numerous type in service when Allied anti-submarine efforts finally defeated the U-boat campaign in late 1943 and 1944.
Type VIIC differed from the VIIB only in the addition of an active sonar and a few minor mechanical improvements, making it 2 feet longer and 8 tons heavier. Speed and range were essentially the same. Many of these boats were fitted with snorkels in 1944 and 1945.
They had the same torpedo tube arrangement as their predecessors, except for U-72, U-78, U-80, U-554, and U-555, which had only two bow tubes, and for U-203, U-331, U-351, U-401, U-431, and U-651, which had no stern tube.
On the surface the boats (except for U-88, U-90 and U-132 to U-136 which used MAN M6V40/46s) were propelled by two supercharged Germaniawerft, 6 cylinder, 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesels totaling 2,800 to 3,200 PS (2,100 to 2,400 kW; 2,800 to 3,200 shp) at 470 to 490 rpm.
For submerged propulsion, several different electric motors were used. Early models used the VIIB configuration of two AEG GU 460/8-276 electric motors, totaling 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) with a max rpm of 296, while newer boats used two BBC GG UB 720/8, Garbe, Lahmeyer & Co. RP 137/c or Siemens-Schuckert-Werke (SSW) GU 343/38-8 electric motors with the same power output as the AEG motors.
Perhaps the most famous VIIC boat was U-96, featured in the movie Das Boot.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
Itala was a car manufacturer based in Turin, Italy from 1904-1934, started by Matteo Ceirano and five partners in 1903.
The Ceirano brothers, Giovanni Battista, Giovanni, Ernesto and Matteo, were influential in the founding of the Italian auto industry, being variously responsible for : Ceirano; Welleyes (the technical basis of F.I.A.T.); Fratelli Ceirano; S.T.A.R. / Rapid (Società Torinese Automobili Rapid); SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino); Itala and S.P.A. (Società Piemontese Automobili). Giovanni's son Giovanni "Ernesto" was also influential, co-founding Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and Fabrica Anonima Torinese Automobili (FATA).
In 1888, after eight years apprenticeship at his father's watch-making business, Giovanni Battista started building Welleyes bicycles, so named because English names had more sales appeal. In October 1898 Giovanni Battista and Matteo co-founded Ceirano GB & C and started producing the Welleyes motor car in 1899. In July 1899 the plant and patents were sold to Giovanni Agnelli and produced as the first F.I.A.T.s - the Fiat 4 HP. Giovanni Battista was employed by Fiat as the agent for Italy, but within a year he left to found Fratelli Ceirano & C. which in 1903 became Società Torinese Automobili Rapid (S.T.A.R.) building cars badged as 'Rapid'. In 1904 Matteo Ceirano left Ceirano GB & C to create his own brand - Itala. In 1906 Matteo left Itala to found S.P.A. (Società Piemontese Automobili) with chief designer, Alberto Ballacco. In 1906 Giovanni founded SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino) in Turin. In 1919 Giovanni and Giovanni "Ernesto" co-founded Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and in 1922 they took control of Fabrica Anonima Torinese Automobili (FATA).
Three cars were offered in the first year, an 18 hp, a 24 hp and a 50 hp. In 1905 they started making very large engined racing cars with a 14.8 Litre 5 cylinder model which won the Coppa Florio and the year after that the Targa Florio. In 1907 a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) 35/45 hp model driven by Count Scipione Borghese won the Peking to Paris motor race by three weeks. These sporting successes helped sales dramatically, the company continued to grow. The company experimented with a range of novel engines such as variable stroke, sleeve valve, and "Avalve" rotary types and at the beginning of World War I, offered a wide range of cars. During the war Itala built aeroplane engines but made a loss producing them.
After the armistice car production resumed with models based on the pre war cars such as the Tipo 50 25/35 hp and a re-appearance of the Avalve in the 4,426 cc (270.1 cu in) Tipo 55 but financial success eluded the company
From 1924 the company was being run under receivership and they appointed Giulio Cesare Cappa from Fiat as general manager. He produced a new car, the Tipo 61 with 7 cylinder alloy engine which was well received but he then decided to return to motor sport producing the Tipo 11, a very advanced car with front wheel drive, 1050 cc supercharged V12 engine and all round independent suspension but the car never raced. Two Tipo 61s did take part in the 1928 Le Mans 24 hour race winning the 2 litre class.
The company was bought by truck maker Officine Metallurgiche di Tortona in 1929 and a few more cars were made up to 1935. The remains of the company was sold to Fiat.
A distinctive feature of the pre-World War I 50 hp & 90 hp models was their use of a rotary valve. Each valve fed a pair of cylinders and was mounted alongside, rotating parallel to them. Four ports cast into the valve alternately connected ports to the cylinders through the side of the valve to the inlet and exhaust manifolds at bottom and top of the valves.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
The Type 63 multiple rocket launcher is a towed, 12-tube, 107mm rocket launcher produced by the People's Republic of China in the early 1960s and later exported and manufactured globally. Although no longer serving with active infantry units, the Type 63 is still in People's Liberation Army service with specialized formations such as mountain infantry units and special forces detachments. The Type 63 was widely used in the PLA until the late 1980s. It was adopted as the successor of the Type 50-5 of 102mm.
China has also developed a Type 63 multiple rocket launcher of 130mm. The RPU-14 is a Soviet 140mm MRL of similar design to the Type 63.
The launcher's 12 tubes are arranged in three removable rows of four each, mounted on a single-axle carriage with rubber tires. The Type 63 originally fired an 18.8 kilogram rocket (Type 63-2) with a 1.3 kilogram warhead. Ammunition for the Type 63 was later improved (Type 75 and Type 81 series), although the overall weight of the rocket remained the same. A fixed amount of propellant is contained in the rocket motor. The steel-cased rocket is stabilized with spin imparted by six angled nozzles in its base. Type 63 rockets may be launched without the launcher; improvised firing can employ tubing, rails or even dirt berms. The Type 63 was distributed on the basis of six per infantry regiment, or 18 per infantry division. For airborne and mountain units the lighter Type 63-I was developed.
Both the Type 63 and its copies can be mounted on different kinds of armoured and unarmoured vehicles, for example the MT-LB, the Safir, the Mamba, the RG-32 Scout, the GAZ-66 and the M113.
NATO and western sources have used the Soviet-style designation BM-12 to describe this weapon system, and further even ascribe Soviet origin and initial manufacture of both launcher and rockets. However, there is no evidence in non-western sources of Soviet development or production, or of the BM-12 moniker being applied. Very similar Type 50-5 or Type 488 102mm rockets were manufactured in China and used in the Korean War prior to development of the Type 63.
It appears the systems designated BM-12 (for example in Afghanistan and Libya) were or are all of Chinese origin, being merely used or cross-traded by Soviet interests.
- The Chinese Type 81 SPMRL 107mm is a self-propelled export version, based on the Nanjing NJ-230 truck.
- North Korea has developed versions with 18 and 24 launch tubes that are mounted on vehicles such as the tracked VTT-323 or the wheeled M1992.
- Roketsan of Turkey has designed an improved 107mm multiple rocket launch system, consisting of a HMMWV with two 12-round launch modules and a fire control system. The system uses the TR-107 and TRB-107 rockets but the range has been increased to 11 km.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Johannes Gutenberg's work on the printing press began in approximately 1436 when he partnered with Andreas Dritzehn—a man who had previously instructed in gem-cutting—and Andreas Heilmann, owner of a paper mill. However, it was not until a 1439 lawsuit against Gutenberg that an official record existed; witnesses' testimony discussed Gutenberg's types, an inventory of metals (including lead), and his type molds.
Having previously worked as a professional goldsmith, Gutenberg made skillful use of the knowledge of metals he had learned as a craftsman. He was the first to make type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books and proved to be much better suited for printing than all other known materials. To create these lead types, Gutenberg used what is considered one of his most ingenious inventions, a special matrix enabling the quick and precise molding of new type blocks from a uniform template. His type case is estimated to have contained around 290 separate letter boxes, most of which were required for special characters, ligatures, punctuation marks, and so forth.
Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than the previously used water-based inks. As printing material he used both paper and vellum (high-quality parchment). In the Gutenberg Bible, Gutenberg made a trial of coloured printing for a few of the page headings, present only in some copies. A later work, the Mainz Psalter of 1453, presumably designed by Gutenberg but published under the imprint of his successors Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer, had elaborate red and blue printed initials.
The new era in print ushered in by the Internet is a distant mirror to Gutenberg's work which similarly revolutionized the printing process.