Monday, April 26, 2010

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Anyone who has seen Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A space Odyssey" will remember the torus shaped space station, elegantly spinning to the waltzes of Johan Strauss.

The concept of the spinning torus (which creates artificial gravity in space) was the brain child of Wernher von Braun, dating back to january 1946 when von Braun - now in the custody of the USA, was outlining the future uses for rocket science and space technology.

Much to the dismay of von Braun and his colleagues, the pragmatic Americans were not interested in the fantasy world of space travel. Instead they had the team work on the Redstone Rocket which was to be the first nuclear armed balistic missile developed for the US military.

Although happy to be working in the US, Von Braun's lifelong dream of putting man into space was still unfulfilled by the early 1950's, causing him a great deal of frustration.

This would change dramatically when he teamed up with America's romantic dreamer supreme - Walt Disney.

Together they collaborated on "the selling of space" where Disney Studios produced a series of short films showcasing the fantastic drama of space travel while pointing out that this was not just fantasy, but within the reaches of science. The first film was Man in Space

By populizing space travel outside the circles of science and the military, von Braun gained the support and funding he needed. On July 29, 1958 NASA was established with von Braun as director and work could begin on his masterpiece, which would eventually put man on the Moon: the Saturn V rocket.

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Panzer Jagdpanzer IV (L70)
The Jpz IV series introduced in 1944 was intended to be the principal Wehrmacht "tank hunter" replacing stop-gap vehicles like the "Marder" series and the obsolete Sturmgeschütz III. The lack of a revolving turret created a low silhuette vehicle, ideal for hiding in ambush and also reduced production time and costs. Unfortunately the long Kwk 42 main gun made the vehicle slow and nose heavy and since it was the same gun used for the "Panther" tanks they were also in short supply. A later variant - Jpz IV (L48) was fitted with the same armament as the Panzer IV. Note the factory applied hard edge camouflage, and the amusing fact that the workers at the paint shop forgot to paint under the gun support - a triangular piece of the dark yellow underpainting is clearly visible on the armour plate below the support.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

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Checketh ye out! - my photos showing on the photo blog of Danish newspaper Information

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Panzer Sdkfz 234/2 "Puma"
Also the legendary Puma armoured car ended up at the Aberdeen Proving ground, but was regrettably one of the vehicles scrapped in the 1950's. A notable feature of German eight-wheeled armoured cars was their ability to drive in both directions (the rear set of wheels could also be steered) which might explain why the turret has been turned 180 degrees on this Puma.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

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Discovered the life of american author Robert E. Howard

Born a Texan in 1906, Howard wrote stories from the age of nine and was on the verge of publishing his first novel when he committed suicide in 1936.

Before this tragic event, he had for many years built himself a reputation as a prolific writer for Pulp magazines and here he created the character Conan the Barbarian

(or Conan The Cimmerian as he was originally called)


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Panzer Bergepanzer 38 (t) "Bergehetzer"
A recovery version of the "Hetzer" also turned up at the US Army test facility Aberdeen Proving Ground. Unfortunately for post war panzer fans, many of the most rare vehicles were scrapped after testing, while the majority of the remaining collection was stored outdoors, subjecting it to the European climate of Maryland.
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Monday, April 05, 2010

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Don Dixon cover art from "The Best of Isaac Asimov" (Sphere Science Fiction, 1977)

Tripping out with Don Dixon space art

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Panzer Munitionsschlepper
A specially made munitions carrier, used for the 2 Ton shells fired by the Karl Gerät