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Monday, 5 June 2017


This is finally my long awaited post about owls.  I've been waiting to post this when I got a moment and didn't feel like writing about racing related topics.  Since I'm going to be showing a friend around the Bird Sanctuary tomorrow, I decided that I might as well post this now.  It'll mostly be some descriptions and links about my favorite owls.

First up is the screech owl.  It's one of the smallest owls and smallest birds of prey you'll find.  They're fairly common in Ohio, and I can hear them at night where I live.  They have two main morphs, or colorings on their feathers, brown and grey.   They also don't really hoot, instead they let out a noise similar to a horse whinnie, though lower pitched and quieter, though it can still be easily heard when there's not much noise around.

Next is the barred owl.  This is a fairly large, stocky owl named for the barring on its chest that is its most distinguishing feature as far as its feather pattern.  They also have a distinct, usually 8 syllable hoot that's unique to the barred owl.  They're also the only owl in Eastern North America with dark eyes aside from the barn owl.

Next is the great grey owl.  This is one of the largest owls in North America and the world in terms of length.  Though it has yellow eyes, it's actually somewhat closely related to the barred owl.  Great greys also have the largest facial disc of any known owl.  These mark it out as easily identifiable.

Next is the snowy owl.  As indicated by its name, it's a mostly white colored owl that's found in northern North America.  They commonly visit the northern US during winter, following their food supplies.  It's one of the world's largest owls by size and weight.  It's uncommon except in winter in the US, but it's commonly found in Canada and Siberia, where it's white coloring and dense feathers make it well adapted to the snow pack.

Second to last is the great horned owl.  As with the screech and barred owls, this owl is fairly common in Ohio and much of the US.  Again, it's one of the world's largest owls, and the largest commonly found owl in North America outside of the snowy owl's normal range.  It's known as the Tiger of the Air because of its feather pattern and its hunting abilities.  It's the most common "true" owl of the Americas.

And lastly, my favorite, the barn owl.  It's considered rare and threatened in Ohio as far as its population.  However, it's common throughout North America and most of the world outside of the arctic.  The common barn owl as it's often known is mostly lightly colored and has a prominent heart-shaped facial disc and (relative to the size of the disc) small black eyes.  North American and European barn owls are similar in size to crows and ravens, with European barn owls generally being smaller than North American owls. They also don't hoot, and usually emit a screech or twitters to communicate.

Though the barn owl name usually refers to the so-called common barn owl described above, there's a whole family commonly refereed to as barn owls that share common traits, the family of birds known as Tytonidae.  This includes the barn owls (tyto owls) and bay owls (Phodillus).  Bay owls are usually smaller than "true" barn owls and have U-shaped rather than heart shaped facial discs.  

Also, there's various sub-families of barn owls, such as sooty owls in Australia, which are named mostly because of their black/grey/white coloring.  There's also the grass owls, which are found in Australasia and Africa, and are named as such because they nest on the ground in tall grass.  There's also huge barn owls called masked owls found in Australasia.  

Among the more rare examples of barn owls are the ashy-faced owl found in the Hispaniola islands, and resembles the barn owl except for its grey facial disc, and black or melanistic barn owls.  These owls are found mostly in Western Europe, and are named due to a genetic mutation that occurs one every 100,000 or so barn owl births.  This mutation make the owl much darker in color than a normal barn owl, appearing to be dark brown to black.  All known examples that are living are in captivity, as such black barn owls usually die in the wild.

That's some brief descriptions of my favorite owls and some links to more info, photos and even sound recordings.  I hope that you'll enjoy this article and it's change from racing stuff.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Le Mans Preview

Hi everyone.

This is about two weeks late, but I've been a bit busy with some stuff the past couple of weeks.  But anyways, at Spa Toyota took a 1-2 over a Porsche 3-4, while Toyota's third car struggled home in 5th.

Aside from the Le Mans test weekend, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the next stop.  The test weekend in the first weekend of June will be the only chance for teams to test on the full Le Mans circuit prior to the race week a couple of weeks later.  

For a description of the track and links to more info, see this link:

This year at Le Mans, 60 cars across four classes will participate.  Over half the field will be comprised of teams from the ACO and FIA sanctioned and endorsed World Endurance Championship, with Le Mans being the most important round in the WEC.  The rest of the field will be comprised of teams from the European Le Mans Series and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Series.

There's two classes for Prototypes (LMP1 and LMP2) and two GT classes (GTE-Pro and GTE-Am) for production based sports cars.  LMP1 features the hybrid racing prototypes from Toyota and Porsche, LMP2 is a pro-am focused, semi-spec cost controlled class for teams made up or professional and pro-am drivers.  GTE-Pro has the newest road going sports cars and biased towards all pro driver line ups, where as GTE-Am insists on the use of at least one year old cars, and is biased towards pro-am driver line ups.

The drivers are rated based on experience and skill level on a medal scale from bronze to platinum.   Bronze drivers are pure gentleman drivers, Silver drivers are either rookies to the sport or the more skilled gentleman drivers, Gold are pro drivers, while Platinum are veteran professionals, often employed by factory teams.  

Each class also has their own restrictions on drivers.  LMP2 and GTE-Am require at least one bronze or silver rated driver per team, while no bronze drivers are allowed in LMP1, while GTE-Pro has no defined restrictions on driver ratings, though it's focused more on all-pro driver lineups.

Le Mans is also unique because of the speeds that the cars can routinely reach and the average speed over the course of the lap.  LMP1 cars can easily reach average speeds over the entire course of the 8.47 mile lap of nearly 150mph, with 4 or 5 places where these cars can easily reach top speeds of over 200mph.  This is tempered by areas of the track such as Mulsanne and Arnage Corners where speeds go as low as 45-50mph, the Mulsanne Straight chicanes that brake up the formerly 3.6 mile Mulsanne Straight into three smaller straights.  This is all in contrast to the Porsche Curves, a nearly three quarters of a mile stretch of high speed corners that LMP1 cars can average well over 160mph, with Audi Sport setting the all time sector record in 2013 of over 170mph.  The Porsche Curves is also a very narrow and daunting section of track, being revered and feared in equal measure.

Also of note this weekend is that at Spa, the location of the last WEC round, Prototype and GT cars of yesteryear, namely from the mid 1990s to 2011 or so will be running at the Spa Classic vintage racing weekend.  This class, called Global Endurance Legends, is basically a preview of the Le Mans Masters racing series that's due for a formal launch next year.  Included in this class is one Audi R8, one of the most successful racing cars ever made that Audi re-used its name for a road going sports car that they've made in several different versions since 2006.  Also included is a Dallara LMP 900, a car built by the company that Audi Sport licensed the design of most of the Le Mans cars from 1999-2013.  As well as various GT cars, such as a Porsche 911 GT1, a Dodge Viper GT1, a Maserati MC12, and various Porsche and Ferrari GT cars from years gone by.

I'll conclude by showing two onboards of what the current circuit looks like:

From 2012:


And from 2016:


 And a more detailed map of the Circuit:

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

WEC Spa (city, not a spa) and some other stuff.

Hi everyone.

I'll be writing a bit about the WEC Spa 6 Hours event that's coming up.  For those who did or didn't see Silverstone, Toyota won after having a pace advantage at a track that favors cornering speed over top speed.  That was advantage Toyota, as Porsche ran with an aerodynamic set up that favored top speed, which is desirable for a place like Le Mans, which is the big race coming up in June.

At Spa, though, the track layout tends to favor straight line speed more than cornering speeds.  So Porsche's aero set up should be better suited for this weekend's race.  Toyota will be continuing to run their high downforce set up from Silverstone, but they'll be entering a third car to Porsche's two.  Their third car will debut their full Le Mans aero package, which is believed to be similar to what Toyota ran in the WEC Prologue at Monza in early April.

Even with Audi not being there, the WEC season has proven to be entertaining with Toyota and Porsche seemingly overall evenly matched right now.  Toyota it seems have a pace advantage, while Porsche's strategy and rock solid pit stops got them a good result at Silverstone.  Toyota will need to slightly speed up their pit stops to maximize their gap to Porsche, especially as Spa should see Porsche more than likely at least on even footing.

Just for the sake of comparison, here's Spa's lay out:

Compare to Silverstone:


And Le Mans:

For a little preview of Spa, though they're not racing there this year, Audi Sport do have a couple of videos that they made that'll show what racing at Spa is like:



Even though the bulk of this post so far has been about racing, I've been up to other things.  Namely, this weekend, I went to the bird sanctuary, and got drenched.  However, I did get to see a barn owl that normally is on display in an enclosure.  She's normally not presented on a glove, but she was this weekend.

I also went to an event held by OSU that was a musical performance.  I went there mostly to try and meet some people and I did accomplish that.  I've met some people that I've been talking to online and been having some fun doing that.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to this weekend, and maybe watching the Spa WEC round on our new TV.  That's about the only plans I have for this weekend.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

WEC Silverstone and 2017

Hi everyone.

This post will be a bit video intensive, but this is a review of the WEC Silverstone round and a preview of the rest of the 2017 season.

Firstly, in the top class, there's only two real competitors this season, the Toyota TS050 and the Porsche 919, with two cars each entered by their factory teams.

Video of the Toyota TS050:

Porsche 919:

Other than looks, the biggest difference is under the engine cover.  The Toyota has a 2.4 liter twin turbocharged V6, while the Porsche has a mono-turbo 2 liter V4.  Both have 8 megajoule capable hybrid systems, but the Toyota harvests all it's energy from braking (kinetic energy recovery, or ERS-K), while the Porsche has a ERS-K for the front axle, and a turbocharger driven heat energy recover turbine (ERS-H) at the rear.  Both hybrid systems on both cars have battery storage and allow for part time all wheel drive.

At Silverstone, Toyota came out on top between the two.  This was expected as Toyota opted for a sprint race aero set up to give them an extra couple of weeks to develop their Le Mans aero package before debuting it at Spa in Belgium, the next round.  Porsche instead concentrated on running their low drag LM aero until after Le Mans in June.  However, rain, yellow flags and strategy allowed Porsche to take the fight to Toyota late in the going, but they still came up a few seconds short of an unlikely win.

Toyota review video (shows one of the cars crashing out of contention and the hour long fight to get the car repaired to score points):

And a race report that explains things better than I have, and what went on in other classes running during the same race:

I'll probably prior to Spa write another post that will get more technical into the cars and technology on them, and maybe how things have changed over the years since I serious started to follow road racing back nearly 20 years ago.  But I'd like to conclude with a short tribute to Audi Sport, who left Le Mans-style endurance racing after a near 20 year span of involvement.

This was their last WEC race:

A test video of the last Audi LMP1 racing car built to date:

And since I posted about Silverstone, which was a track that Audi Sport sort of owned as far as win record in recent years, here's a couple of videos, first from 2013:

And 2015:

Up next will likely be more about Spa and Le Mans style racing, and eventually, a post about Owls.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Random Stuff

Hi everyone.

This is pretty much as the title says.  I'll be all over the place in this post.  However, it will be my first post on auto racing later on.

But first of all, I did visit Columbus on Tuesday and went book shopping.  I'd like to visit the Book Loft sometime in the future.  I'd like to visit the place with a friend or two instead of going there alone.  Obviously, I'd like to be able to find volunteers on Facebook.

But on to auto racing.  This was the first really good thing that I saw happen during a NASCAR event this season.  This should show how much I've come to dislike NASCAR since it went from being a motorsport competition into a show.  An Owl managed to get a practice session stopped when it parked itself on the track and track workers had to try and corral it so it could be brought to animal control.  Now a video of the Great Horned Owl's escapades:

This week is also the debut of the new spec Formula 1 cars in Australia.  I caught the practice session on TV, and I like the new cars.  They look right being 2000mm wide and with the wider tires on them.  F1 cars should corner among the fastest cars on the planet, not being beaten to shreds by LMP1 Le Mans racing cars, as much as I like those.  And they are fast, which is the reason for the rules changes.  Consider that in 2015 that Audi, Porsche, and Toyota fielded LMP1 cars that could've qualified in the top 10 on a F1 grid at some tracks, that shows how "dumbed down" the F1 cars became because of narrow tires and narrow car width.  Now the cars, IMO, look and run right.

Next week will be the WEC Prologue at Monza.  This is the right setting, though with it being Monza, it's almost certain that Porsche and probably Toyota will bring their Le Mans body kits, so we'll have to wait until Silverstone in a couple of weeks to see what their sprint race kits will probably look like.  

This is due to the ACO, who organize the WEC and Le Mans, limiting LMP1 teams (like LMP2 teams for several years) to two main body kits, one for Le Mans, and one for the sprint races.  There's room for development, but not as much as last year or previous years.  
This is in the guise of cost cutting, which in motorsport is an oxymoron.  What the big teams supposedly will be saving, they'll just spend somewhere else.  And the smaller teams won't save any money at all, either.  Such measures just cost diminishing returns.  It narrows up the margins between the haves and have-nots, but that margin becomes increasingly hard to overcome.

Not to mention that the post 2013 rules sort of cost the ACO Audi Sport, who had been their biggest backer since 1999.  That was due to diminishing returns.  In nearly 20 years, Audi did direct injection gasoline engines to death over a decade ago with the R8, they did diesel engines to death since then, and then hybrids.  The ACO's technical regs were slowly but surely forcing Audi into running a gasoline engine with a battery pack hybrid, the latter being something that Audi adopted in 2016.  

Yes, Volkswagen Group's fiasco with diesel engine emissions cheating/fraud in North America had an impact, but it was mostly marketing (only when ACO tech regs were brought up did Audi even openly admit to running a diesel engine in their cars--they haven't directly advertised racing with diesel engines since 2011, focusing on advertising hybrid tech on their race cars).  However, IMO, that was a convenient cover story for Audi to take a break from the sport, which was IMO not a technical challenge for them, and facing having to adopt the gasoline hybrid tech that Porsche (also owned by Volkswagen Group; key word being redundant) have already been running.  I wouldn't expect Audi back until either Porsche leaves LMP1, or Audi Sport run some sort of hydrogen fuel cell/hydrogen hybrid car.  That probably won't happen until 2020, though.

One concern that I have for the WEC this year, aside from losing the advertising dollars and promotion that Audi and Audi Sport used to bring, is the speed of the LMP2 cars.  Reportedly, during a private test, one reached a top speed of nearly 220mph.  At Le Mans last year, the LMP1s were typically topping out at 200-205mph. This was because LMP1 cars are restricted by fuel flow.  LMP2s are limited by a sonic air restrictor.  This means that LMP1 cars have to "lift and coast" to conserve fuel, or face potential penalties.  Meanwhile, LMP2s can go full throttle all the way down a straightaway.

The main reason this is a concern is because LMP2 cars got a over 100bhp boost.  Which means that they make nearly the same top end power as the engines do on LMP1 cars.  LMP1s have the benefit of having nearly an extra 400+bhp from their hybrid systems, which, as well as being lighter (875kg vs 930kg) should give them an acceleration advantage.  But what happens when the hybrid power peters out and they have to lift and coast?  Hopefully there won't be issues, but Monza could be a preview of such confrontations.

BTW, I'm hoping for a Toyota victory at Le Mans and in the WEC.  Just like how Mercedes-Benz's dominance of F1 the past couple of years has gotten stale, I have the same opinion of Porsche, especially since they lucked into a lot of wins, especially last year.  Yeah, a win's a win, but when you win mostly based off of luck when Audi were dominating races (and Toyota dominated Le Mans), that's a bit stale in my book.  And with no Audi, my allegiances have shifted to Toyota.

For the memories, Audi's last WEC win:



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Now Some Horrible Cars That Now Are Collectors Items.

Now we're getting into an area of particular interest to me.  Since the 12 Hours of Sebring happened this weekend and the WEC Prologue is coming up soon, it's time to get into gear about cars and the automotive world.

However, don't expect this to be a "best cars" list, unless you wanna pick up a cheap collectable.  This is a sampling of some of the worst cars in the world.  However, time has been kind to them from the aspect of them now becoming collectors items and even have dedicated followings and fan and owners clubs for them.

There will, of course, be cars from the former Communist Bloc/Warsaw Pact countries, but also items from the 1970s, from British Leyland, and even stuff from mainstream manufacturers.  This will include many well known cars, and some that are more obscure.  For the sake of space, each entry will be a paragraph or two with a link to the Wikipedia article and gallery for each car.

First, I'll start with the Trabant.  This East German car had a small, two stroke engine, but its strangest feature was how it was constructed.  The car had a conventional unitary floorpan, but the body was made from a material call Duraplast.  This fiberglass-like material was made out of a mixture or resin and wool.  The car was the best seller in East Germany during it's near 30 year lifespan, but went out of production soon after the Reunification of Germany.

Also from East Germany is the Wartburg 353.  Like the Trabant, it was powered by a two stroke engine and used a similar unitary floorplan construction.  However, its body was made of steel and fiberglass. The car had some competition success in Eastern European rallying, but it's remembered nowadays since German Reunification as being a poorly built, cheap, inefficient car much like the Trabant. 

Now here's one of the better "bad" cars, the FSO Polonez.  It may've been a re-bodied Fiat 125 (built under license in Poland from 1967 to 1991), but it was one of the first Eastern European Cars to past US and EU crash testing.  Later cars discarded the old Fiat pushrod engines in favor of Ford gasoline and Peugeot diesel engines:

Then there was the Lada Riva, another Fiat derivative, in this case, the Fiat 124.  Likes most Comm Bloc cars, it served as cheap transport, not as a performance machine.  But even give that, it rusted like a shipwreck, handled badly, but to it's credit, it was mechanically durable and had a Russian designed powertrain. 

And also from Russia is the Moskvitch 408 and 412.  These cars are perhaps best known for a number of them being made in the same Izhevsk plant known as Izhmash, now owned by Kalashnikov Concern.  Which, as the modern name implies, is the same plant where most of the AK-47 and AK-74 rifles used by the Russian Army since the late 1940s have been made.  Though, as James May said, the Moskvitch cars are just as, if not more lethal, than the automatic rifles that came out of the same plant for it's on-road capabilities.

That being said, these Moskvitch cars were the first Russian cars to have seat belts, crumple zones, and other safety measures built into them as standard. 

And finally, the last of the Warsaw Pact cars, is the ZAZ Zaporozhets.  A car who's biggest innovation was a removable footwell pan so owners can use it for fishing on frozen lakes.  It was intended to be the Soviet Union's answer to the Volkswagen Beetle.  As such, it was small, rounded in shape, and even had an air cooled rear mounted four cylinder engine (a V4 vs the Beetle's Boxer 4).  But it was cruder than the Beetle, and was in most ways a flawed car, with nasty handling, poor build quality, and a tendency to rust far quicker than desired. 

But let's not pretend that the Communist Bloc had a monopoly on bad cars that are so bad that they're good.  The rot prone Alfa Romeo Alfasud was, aside from it's corrosion and electrical problems, a genuine sports car disguised as a family sedan: 

Less good were the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro.  Designed and built at a time when British Leyland were losing sales and profits to Ford of Britain and Ford of Europe, the Marina was based off the older Morris Minor--and was just as ancient under the skin.  This could be forgivable since the Marina was designed to sell off of convention, and sold well throughout its life though it was rust prone and was distinctly average in terms of performance. 

The Allegro, on the other hand, had complicated hydraulic suspension, was front wheel drive, and was intended to cash in on being basically an enlarged Mini.  And like the Marina, it did sell fairly well.  But it was far from being a good car, being rust prone, having electrical issues, awkward styling, and being a bit too strange for some tastes.

And of course, there's the well known Ford Pinto, which tended to catch fire when rear-ended due to Ford pencil pushers and bean counters leaving out things intended for it such as a rupture resistant fuel filler neck and a rubber liner in the fuel tank like what racing cars use.  Not to mention (like most cars of the era) it was never far away from the rust bug.

Or the so-called malaise era 1980's GM cars, which were poorly built, cheap, a pain to work on (my father can tell you that) and were built to cash in on cheapness, not quality.

I'll try and end things here, but don't worry, there will be more car posts later, considering that the racing season is about to begin in earnest for me.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Now For Some Strange, and Overcomplicated Implements.

Hi everyone.

This is what I've been working on writing for a few days now.  I did mention that I'd be writing about the "junk" of World War II.  And one area that was rife with that was the realm of Italian machine guns.  These are among the strangest and most awkward firearms ever designed, and as implied, it was not for the better of the Italian Army in either World War.

Granted, I'll be starting with one of the better machine guns designed in the early 20th century.  This was the Perino medium machine gun, adopted alongside some Maxim machine guns that the Italians bought prior to World War I.  It was operated by a recoiling barrel that unlocked a bell-crank operated breach, and was fed from a box of trays that contained 25 rounds of ammunition each.  As for said ammo, the gun was chambered for the standard 6.5x52mm Carcano rifle cartridge.  

The only truly "bad" feature of this weapon was that it's original version weighed 27 kg (about 60 lbs), though a lightweight 1910 version cut that figure by nearly half.  The Italian Government and Army treated the weapon with great secrecy, and that lead to it being adopted in only small numbers, no matter how effective it was.

Hence, come 1914 and just prior to Italy's entry into World War I, they were left with trying to find something that can be mass produced quickly.  The result was a machine gun designed by Italian Army Captain Bethel Abel Revelli, who also designed the Glisenti 1910 service pistol and the Villar Perosa twin barreled 9mm machine gun that was originally an aircraft weapon, but later formed the basis of Italian submachine guns from late World War I until the 1930s.

This Fiat-Revelli 1914 machine gun has numerous strange features that place it in a league of its own as far as strange weapons go.  Chambered for 6.5mm Carcano, it operated by a strange mix of short recoil and delayed blowback.  The mechanism was essentially an enlarged version of Revelli's Glisenti automatic pistol, where the barrel recoiled a very short distance until a locking block was pivoted out of the way to "unlock" the breach.  

Such an arrangement didn't allow for primary extraction (the initial unseating of the cartridge from the chamber to ease extraction), though, for its benefit, didn't use oiled ammo.  The gun had tons of entrance points for dust and grit as it was (more on that in a moment), and oiled rounds would've made those matters much worse.

Also, there was a large opening for the gun's "magazine", which had a 50 or 100 round capacity, and was sort of like 10 or 20 Carcano rifle clips welded together, and was ejected out of the right side of the weapon when emptied.  The clip arrangement wasn't very satisfactory, since the clips could be easily damaged, and left hung holes in the receiver for all matter of junk to find its way into the action.  

 Also, the Fiat-Revelli used a charging handled that was attached to the bold that cycled back and forth as the gun fired.  This ensured injury to anyone who wasn't careful of where they placed their hands on the grips while firing, and also collected dust and debris.  In any case, the gun's action was prone to jamming and stoppages.

Even with that, some examples soldiered on until the end of World War II, though some were modernized or newly built in 1935:

Things were made more chaotic interwar by everyone and their brother seemingly designing a new machine gun for the Italian Army every other week.  

One of the better ones was the Brixia 1920 medium and 1923 light machine gun.  It was "better" mostly because it was more conventional.  It was simple in mechanism and was reliable given the time it was designed.  It used a simple tilting bolt lock mechanism that the only unusual feature was a piece on it that would flip-flop back and forth to act as a bolt accelerator.  It was also fed by a simple tray in box arrangement similar to the Perino mentioned previously.

Then there was the Fiat/SAFAT 1924, 1926, and 1928 machine guns.  These were all very similar in design, differing in that the 1928 weapon was a belt fed aircraft machine gun chambered for .303 British as opposed to 6.5 Carcano.  These were improved lightweight versions of the Fiat-Revelli 1914 with improvements that improve reliability.  However, these were still heavy for "light" machine guns, were fed by strange hinged magazines that were usually reloaded by special 20 round chargers (except for the 1928 aircraft model), and were mounted on tripods.

There was also a SAFAT 1928 infantry machine gun that had a quick change barrel and an improved breach locking system.  An interesting weapon with few unusual features (aside from using a hinged magazine feed), it wasn't adopted in large numbers.

The aircraft gun didn't fare well, considering that it did tend to jam and was also criticized for it's low rate of fire and difficulties with propeller synchronization gear on fighter planes of the era, so was passed over in favor of the Breda SAFAT machine guns, which were modified Browning 1919/AN-M2 aircraft machine guns.

And now we're onto probably one of the very worst automatic weapons ever designed, even worse than the 8x50mm Lebel caliber Chauchat machine guns, and as bad as the .30-06 Springfield versions pawned off onto the US Army in World War I until replaced by the far superior Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR for short.

This is the Breda 1930 LMG.  It seems to embody almost every strange feature presented so far into one of the oddest and worst weapons ever designed.  Like the Fiat Revelli, it was once again a short recoil/delayed blowback weapon, but instead of a propping block, it was "locked" by a 5 lug rotating bolt.  It had the hinged magazine familiar by now to Italian light machine guns, poor primary extraction (which lead in this case to an oiler being gun mounted that oiled rounds when chambered), and tons of places where dust and crap can get into the weapon to jam up the works.  

In simple terms, this was a horrible weapon.  One saving grace was the quick change barrel.  But that didn't help, as unlike most air cooled machine guns that fire from an open breach (the bolt is held back between shots to promote barrel cooling), the Model 30 fired from a closed breach, which made barrel overheating much more likely to set on quickly.  Also, there was no carrying handle to carry the weapon with, which made carrying a very hot Model 30 a very interesting experience.

There was also a Breda 1924, also called the Model 5C, which differed in that it was tripod mounted with spade grips, instead of the 1930s bipod and pistol grip.  The following links will show photos and a further description of the flawed, bizarre weapon.

Next up is the Breda 1937.  This medium machine gun began as the 13.2x99mm Hotchkiss caliber Breda 1931, which itself was basically a license built Hotchkiss 1930 13.2mm heavy machine gun.  The Model 37 was a scaled down Model 31 with one rather unusual feature.

As the Model 37 was originally designed as a tank machine gun for armored vehicles such as tanks, it used a strip feed where trays contained the round, and the gun's breach mechanism had to extract a round from the tray, chamber it, fire it, and replace it back into the tray.

The breach, unlike the original Hotchkiss design, had no primary extraction, so like the Breda Model 30, had to use a cartridge oiler to ease extraction.  Though the biggest problem overall was that the strips held only 20 rounds, and the gunner had to remove the empty shell casings to re-use a tray.  

However, the Breda 37 was well liked and had a solid reputation, and some remained in service after World War II.

Finally, on the Italian end, there was the modernized Fiat-Revelli machine guns that were rebuilt or built as new from 1935.  Among the changes were a switch from water cooling to air cooling, discarding the clip feed in favor of a belt, and changing the chambering from 6.5x52mm Carcano to 8x59mm Breda (as used in the Breda M37).

You'd hope that this made for a better weapon.  It did, but not by much.  It still fired from a closed breach, like the water cooled version did.  But without water to cool the barrel, cook-off and barrel overheating became much more likely unless discipline was use while firing.  Early guns also had to have an oiler or rounds greased in the belt before insertion until the guns were upgraded with barrels with fluted chambers that eased extraction and cured the problems with stuck shell casings.  Needless to say, it didn't stick around long in the Italian Army once World War II was over.

Also, the Italian Army during both World Wars also used Maxim machine guns, Vickers-Maxim machine guns, Browning 1895 "potato digger" machine guns, all in 6.5mm Carcano.  They also used captured Austrian Schwarzlose M1907 machine guns during World War I, and also received many as war reparations afterward.  These were used as substitute standard issue medium machine guns in World War II.

In all, you can't refute that the Italian designers were trying to design the best they could with what they knew.  It's not like today where there's few truly proven ways on how automatic weapons should operate and do so reliably and without frills.  And the machine gun was still fairly new equipment and a fairly new concept back then.  So experimentation was expected.

Still, this motley, strange collection of firearms show how chaotic Italian Armed Forces ordinance was following World War I and the Fascist era.  No to mention that the Italians used numerous different rifle and machine gun calibers during this period.  Among them were:

6.5x52mm Carcano
8x50mmR Mannlicher
8x50mmR Lebel (not interchangeable with the above)
7.35x52mm Carcano
8x59mm Breda
7.7x56mmR/.303 British
And lastly, 7.92x57mm Mauser.

Just from the list of cartridge calibers I listed, you can see how hectic things were and how hard a time the ordinance men had, not to mention just the mix of different rifles and machine guns, period.

Nevertheless, this is an interesting field of study.  The Italian/Mediterranean theater or World War II is in my opinion underappreciated and understudied.  That's in spite of the fact that some of the hardest fought and desperate battles were fought in World War II.  Also, Italian fighting vehicles and aircraft are also pretty interesting, and also reflect shortcomings in what the ordinance departments thought the Italian fighting man needed during the war.  Logistics and production problems caused great ills within the Italian Armed Forces during World War II, and they suffered according at the hands of the Allies.

In spite of that, once the Italians became Allied Co-Belligerants after September of 1943, they helped push the Nazis and the German Army, and Fascist loyal to the cretin known as Benito Mussolini out of their country and did their part in liberating their nation.

This is just an interesting little list of weird and unusual items used in World War II.  For more photos and info, I have these threads: