Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.
Friday, December 19, 2008
This is coolbert:
Here is a weapon that is a favorite of Bert. NOT sure if this is still in the U.S. arsenal, but it should be.
The flechette round. An "artillery" round, fired from a big-bore piece, ordinarily a 105 mm howitzer or a 106 mm recoilless rifle, that can cause a big world-of-hurt for the enemy.
An "artillery" round, that when fired, sends a spew, a "cloud" of small arrow-like flechettes at the enemy. Flechettes, about one inch long [25.4 mm], each having a lethal capacity. Fired in the direct-fire mode at a massed attack of enemy ground troops charging at you in a dense formation.
"A flechette is a common military missile which is shaped generally similar to a dart or arrow, i.e. it has a relatively long slender body, at one end of which are disposed guiding fins."
"Flechettes are launched individually toward a target from a launcher having a bore."
Ordinarily fired from what are termed "big-bore" weapons. Shotguns, recoilless rifles, artillery pieces, rockets.
"Flechettes are fin stabilized steel projectiles similar in appearance to arrows"
"Flechettes for small arms and antipersonnel use are very small and light weight, 8 to 13 grains, 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch long with fins approximately 25% of length, a diameter of less then 0.1 inches."
Scale is not present here. That "arrow" is slightly longer than a centimeter [about one inch in actuality, 25.4 mm!]
Used by the U.S. military in a variety of weapons. To include:
Used by the American military in Vietnam to counter massed enemy human-wave attacks. Fired from Ontos or the 105 mm howitzer in the direct-fire role, during times of close-quarters combat with enemy forces, the situation at the time for American infantry often being quite dire!!
"Beehive is an anti-personnel round fired from an artillery gun, packed full of metal darts, flechettes, which are ejected from the shell in front of the target by the action of a mechanical time fuse. It is so-called because of the 'buzzing' sound the darts make when flying through the air and in the manner of numerous bees around an actual beehive."
"Beehive rounds were extensively used in the Vietnam War, for defence of fire base perimeters against massed enemy attacks . . . The primary beehive round for this purpose . . . projected 8000 flechettes and was direct fired from a near horizontally levelled barrel of a 105mm howitzer"
Such an instance where the "beehive" round was used in combat, very effectively so, was at LZ Bird!
"Artillerymen were busy doing their jobs, too. Piper and Staff Sgt. Robert Underwood loaded a beehive round into one of the 105mm howitzers. Yelling a warning to get down, Piper yanked the lanyard. Instantly, 8,500 flechettes (tiny metal-shaped arrows) tore into the attacking NVA ranks."
"It screeched like a million bees. I saw a big hole in their [NVA] ranks, and then I heard screaming. Those bodies were ripped to shreds. Then they fired again with the same results. The assault was stopped dead in its tracks."
THE BEEHIVE ROUND ALSO FOUND USEFULNESS IN VIETNAM FOR THE CLEARING OF VEGETATION IN FRONT OF AMERICAN DEFENSIVE POSITIONS. FIRE A COUPLE OF ROUNDS AND YOU COULD CLEAR A FOREST CLEARING IN NO TIME FLAT!!
Please do not think, however, that the use of the flechette as a projectile is only a modern development. FAR FROM IT!
1. "The first projectiles used in early gun systems from the 1300's were flechettes"
"The earliest gun system's use of flechette projectiles is from the 1326" [!!!]
Right! The original gun systems [1300's], as existed at the time, were very primitive. The concept of rifling was non-existent, and the industrial processes of the time did not allow for ammunition to be mass produced and manufactured to industrial tolerances, adequate in dimensional sizes to be used properly with firearms of the period. You went with what you were familiar with, an arrow shaped object, albeit made of METAL!
"The typical use of flechettes were as antipersonnel projectiles dropped from aircraft over enemy lines of defence and troop concentration. The flechettes were 4 inches long weighing 1 1/2 to 2 ounces and capable of penetrating a combatant from head to foot and creating an instantly incapacitating wound."
"Flechettes were also used as the projectile of choice in the first electromagnetic rail gunsthat were used as artillery by the French against the Germans."
"The first electromagnetic rail gun, invented by French inventor Louis Octave Fauchon-Villeplee was used as early as 1917"
3. Korea. "used by the U.S. in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. These 1 3/4" length (4.5 cm) bomblets were air-dropped at height in canisters by aircraft or scattered from buckets by helicopter crews, reaching high sub-sonic speeds as they fell. Targeted at enemy personnel and unarmored vehicles, the flechette hit the targets with the force of a bullet."
Well, maybe that is all there is to it? Fly over the enemy, heave a couple of buckets of flechettes overboard, and that is that! NO need for high precision here!
Maybe a flechette dispenser can be fitted on the bottom of an AC-130 gunship? An additional "weapons system" for those contingencies when ordinary ordnance will not do the job? Send a spew, a "beehive cloud" of flechettes raining downward on the enemy?