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The War Nerd / March 24, 2011

Whoa, things are heating up in a good way around here. First I want to thank everybody who helped with my puzzlement over that shot of an MBT with its turret popped off, lying in the sand 30 yards away from the chassis.

First, I have to own up: the photo I used isn’t the one I was talking about, because I’m new at blogging and haven’t been able to load the photos I want.  The reason I’m mentioning this is that a reader calling himself “Kingtoots” pointed out in a damn good comment to yesterday’s blog that the picture I ended up using shows a blasted self-propelled gun, not an MBT. Ya got me, King T. It was the off-circle turret and too-thick barrel that gave me away, I bet.

You’ll just have to take my word for it that there is a picture of an MBT with its turret sitting on the sand, but it won’t load for me. Don’t know why not. It’s from the Daily Mail, a Brit tabloid that has some good gory graphics. Maybe they encrypt them or just pour beer over them; all I know is it wouldn’t load, so the SFA corpse was my consolation date to the popped-turret prom.

A lot of readers had suggestions for the munition that popped it. The one I’m inclined to go with was by “helplesscase” who told me what I should’ve known already: the Rafale can carry the US-made, laser-guided GBU12, a classic tank killer. In fact, it can carry four at once.

This seems like the best guess about what killed that tank, because GBU12 is one of those HEAT munitions that sends a jet of superheated metal into the interior of the tank. When it zips through the armor and enters the crew compartment at about the temperature of the sun, it’s as if all the tea ever made in England hits boiling at the same nanosecond, and the turret pops off. Can’t be much fun for the crew. Casey Jones managed to get “scalded to death by the steam” in an old train. A tight NBC-sealed crew compartment has to be the world’s fastest pressure cooker, make those microwaved toy poodle videos look like mercy killing.

I was going through eXiled archives and found another popped MBT picture, from Mark Ames’s tour of Georgia after the South Ossetia War. Here’s the link to Ames’s story. You’ll see the indoor turret halfway down:

This is the classic effect of a shaped charge turning the crew compartment into a white dwarf star for a few milliseconds: tank loses its head, weak point at turret ring rips out and it’s time to play “Find the Giant Frying Pan with the 120mm Handle.” This one flew halfway through a multi-story building, giving a cool abstract art effect although the Georgian landlord probably didn’t see it that way. Or the Georgian tank crew.

We could start a whole new porn school here, call it “Jiffy Pop Shots” or something nastier sounding like “Tank Cum,” which would probably get more hits from America’s one-handed net surfers.

Meanwhile we’ve got a new mystery photo, one with some very interesting possibilities. Yesterday the Pentagon admitted that an F-15E Strike Eagle had gone done due to “equipment malfunction,” which I have to say makes me laugh every time because it sounds like one of those sleazy sports-cheesecake headlines for a candid shot of a women’s tennis player’s boob popping out of her outfit as she reaches for a lob. They don’t usually work very well unless it’s a Russian girl because the rest of them look like Jethro on Beverly Hillbillies when he was in drag as “Jethrine,” but some sad crowd must love them.

Anyway, so the F-15E goes down and the DoD can’t deny it completely because friendly Libyans were all over the scene in minutes. This is why DoD hates allied civilians. They were probably getting ready to deny everything: “F-15E? Never heard of it. Is that an IRS form?” except everyone in the suburbs of Benghazi had his cellphone out and was taking pictures of the wreckage. So it was time for their second lie of defense, “equipment malfunction.” I said yesterday that might be true and it might not. Well, this morning I wake up to find that a reader with the same un-trusting nature found a picture of the wreckage (probably from a friendly Libyan’s cell camera—no wonder the rescue helicopter supposedly opened fire on these nosy damn friends of ours) that shows something a little odd. You’ll see that this reader, Ulrich, has circled a lot of small, same-sized, round holes in the plane’s wing. As Ulrich said, “Those sure look like bullet holes to me.” Using “bullet” loosely, that is, because they’re pretty big. More like, say, AA machinegun holes. Something pretty big but not explosive, which I guess would let off 23mm rounds, like from a ZSU. More like the heavy Soviet machine guns Sahel guys like to install in their Toyota trucks.

See? Anybody out there with photo intel experience want to comment on those holes? I’m no FAA inspector so I’m just saying, it looks to me like Ulrich has a point. And one thing you can be totally sure of is that the DoD always, always lies about why their aircraft go down. If they had their way there’d be no aces in the history of air combat. Baron von Richthofen would just be this German guy who happened to be around a lot of the time when “equipment malfunctions” happened. But it’s funny how those malfunctions seem to happen in places where the skies are full of those cool tracer tracks, like Libya. Especially when it’s an F-15 that went down. If it was an F-18 or frankly any Navy plane at all, I’d believe the “malfunction” theory but the F-15 has been around a long time and it’s reliable as Hell. Double engined, no maintenance problems I know of except one with the langerons decades back. No reason it should embarrass everybody by crashing outside Benghazi where every souvenir-hunter can claim some titanium. And every Libyan with a cell can take pictures like the one Ulrich sent, with those verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting holes in the wing.

So you tell me: we looking at normal dings from hitting the sand, or are we looking at the real reason this plane hit that sand?

Read more:, Gary Brecher, The War Nerd

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Add your own

  • 1. José Cruz  |  March 25th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Take all the time you want to research and deliver greatness again.

  • 2. Jesse Gutierres  |  March 25th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Examination By An Experienced F-15E Desert Storm Crew Chief,

    I have seen and repaired numerous Aircraft with battle damage. These may be bullet holes; however, they are not battle damage bullet holes. These holes appear to have developed from static fire, or damage. Aircraft battle damage looks more like ripped cotton candy due to the aluminum honeycomb construction if the wing and thin skin covering. A small angled hole is usually on the bottom,(entry) and a long exploded ripped exit on the top.

    The wing damage looks more like an effort to obtain fuel from the wing tanks. A flying F-15 would only have two holes at the max, due to the speed of the plane and guns ability to reload. These holes would never be able to bring down the plane, and still have the luck to hit vital parts elsewhere. By the way, an F-15 should never be flying below 40,000 feel so it can avoid AAA-fire. My professional opinion is pilot error.

  • 3. Nor Word  |  March 25th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    As much as I hate to disrupt the counter-propaganda of the land that I love, a structural issue isn’t terribly likely.

    The first thing I thought when I saw the photos was “ground fire”. if you look at the way the holes flare, you can deduce the angle and direction from whence the firing did come.

    When there are structural issues with a F15, it almost always happens in the same place in the airframe- roughly corresponding to the place where the cockpit and wings meet on the exterior. In other words, the cockpit and wings aren’t likely to be sitting on the ground in close proximity to the fuselage after a failure.

  • 4. franc black  |  March 25th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Tech tip

    @ 4. namefield and GaryB

    Using any on-screen image in other apps (from an MS session)…

    -re-size the window to show the good parts
    -press Alt + Print Scrn to capture that window to memory
    -open Paint, then paste it … it’ll have the window frame and menu stuff
    -use cropping tool to select just the image, Cut it into memory
    -File open a new Paint document and paste the image … cropped and clean
    -save as a .jpg a
    -use the graphic in your docs and uploads…

  • 5. aleke  |  March 25th, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Hey, I know you love Gadaffi bashing, even when he has to stand up to ridiculous fucking airpower and the strongest countries in the world, but here’s something that should awake your Patriotic Ire!

    The CIA’s Libya Rebels: The Same Terrorists who Killed US, NATO Troops in Iraq

    2007 West Point Study Shows Benghazi-Darnah-Tobruk Area was a World Leader in Al Qaeda Suicide Bomber Recruitment

    Northeastern Libya has the highest concentration of suicide belt jihadis that are joinin the best globe-trotting James Bond supervillain terrorist brigade around! Thats right folks, even West Point talked about how Al Qaeda in Iraq, those scumfuck mercenaries that murdered the long-suffering people of Iraq, are disproportionally from NE Libya, rebel stronghold.

    I guess this really puts Al Qaeda into perspective, why else are their Saudi funds not even so much as curtailed? Its all one oligarch network, after all, and we all know Cheney is a fucking traitor. So what’s the motivation? PROFIT$! Duh, stupid!

    And here you were thinking that there was a globe-trotting S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like fucking organization that had no connection to very rich white men! Ha!

    i dont care how crazy gadaffi seems, i say right on mother fucker! Get those criminal degenerate fucks! No more false flag terrorist operations set up by Empires anymore! You’d think that people would realize Al-Q is just like the false flag ops the French pulled in Algeria, and the Brits in Egypt

  • 6. hobomaker  |  March 25th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    @ postman: yes there are a lot of faked images around, one of the first to be exposed was this one:, and maybe the mista had their fare share innit, but the point is that by now there is a significant cyrenaic contingent, mainly young kids, deployed by the rebels, whomever they might be. it’s Jeremiah 12:2 all over again, son. and these guys will have to show face soon because without any meaningful territorial claim this is s just going to be a slow burning partition war with no win.

    @ Gary and some readers who hint that maybe Gaddafi will run out of munition. Let me remind you folks that R-1973 does not cover southern Lybia, alright? Actually the Colonel can fly and get fancy dresses or whatever he wants through Chad or Niger. I don’t know of any intel to the contrary.

    All in all this strikes me as an even worse planned operation than Iraq. It’s a mess. What in the world happened to centralized GS. There are so many possibilities for this to bite back it’s frightening. I won’t even start going there. So here’s my question, Mr. Brecher: how can the coalition win? Not topple Gaddafi down, but win this sucker. How?!

  • 7. Dutchnerd  |  March 25th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    If I might offer an alternate theory as to what brought down the F15E : how about Friendly Fire?

    Consider that the F15 went down over rebel-held territory, and that those rebels may very well use technicals. Now IF the F15 was shot down by the type of heavy machine gun used on technicals (and I see some apparently well informed opinions here disputing that) that may very well add up to friendly fire.

    Considering how many friendlies US forces have blown up in recent wars it would be ironic if this F15 was shot down by the Lybian rebels it was supposedly helping, the same ones that filmed it going down and returned the pilot, having realised their mistake.

    Just a thought.

  • 8. Mr. Bad  |  March 25th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    @ Ulrich

    Libya has a smaller population as an entire country than NYC does, do you think the Qaddafi loyalists want to fight to the last man for a transgender freak and his fat, balding sons? No. They want to rape Libya for all the oil $ it’s worth, just like Qaddafi. Lemme’ tell ya’, We have not yet begun to bomb, wait until the libyan loyalists start to feel the heat and terrible anxiety that comes with having ZERO air cover, no hope or resupply or reinforcement and certain death at the hands of western imperialist bombs they never hear or see until it’s too late – morale will crash and somebody will make a deal. I really feel that, sadly, the news cycle is dictating military analysis of the situation, including War Nerd. Qaddafi has lost, is gone, will be dead within the year, if it wasn’t for the western media implanted “crusader” anxiety we would ALL read this one without too much effort.

    @ Nor Word

    Dude, come on, are you telling me you’ve examined F-15 crash sites? The one’s that grounded the F-15A-D fleet (longeron issue)? Please stop BSing, the F-15E’s were never grounded, most likely “Jesse Gutierrez ” is right and this was pilot error, it happens often. I’ve spent a lot of time in the officer’s bar @ Luke AFB after Desert Storm 1 and I can tell you that all these ground attack guys, especially the A-10 pilots, had endless “skin of your teeth” escape stories where they taxed their planes to the max and amazed themselves they came out in one piece – long story short, we are not the Israeli AF, US pilots are very good, but not THAT good.

  • 9. Nor Word  |  March 25th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Another thing that occurred to me: it hasn’t been widely reported on the Disney Channel or American Idol networks, but the Kearsage recovery team came in hot. That is, they shot and seriously wounded several dozen of the ‘friendly forces’ on the ground in the course of the pick-up. The wounded people I saw interviewed on the BBC and Al Bundyzeera were acting strangely sheepish.

    Hmm, what sort of thing would have given the recovery crew a reason to suspect that hostiles were on the ground near the plane? Why were the wounded acting as if they were embarrassed?

    I bet it wasn’t because the Fresh Mint Tea they were sharing with the aircrew didn’t have enough cinnamon in it.

  • 10. pierre  |  March 25th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    This F15 is definitely part of odyssey down

  • 11. Nikola Tesla  |  March 25th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    The F-15 attempted to penetrate an electronic security cone, originally designed by Nikola Tesla. Although the Libyan cone was obsolete, it was “good ’nuff to get ‘er done.” You, the cone-buying public, can get them on eBay.

  • 12. Steve-o  |  March 28th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    “First I want to thank everybody who helped with my puzzlement over that shot of an MBT with its turret popped off, lying in the sand 30 yards away from the chassis.”

    Actually, it’s not a MBT. It’s an Italian built Palmaria 155 SPG. Granted, the picture threw me for a minute because the explosion actually blew off the muzzle brake. But the chasis is unmistakable as is the diameter of both the barrel and the fume extractor.

  • 13. hoodwink  |  March 29th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    picture sucks but i doubt a guy in the back of a toyota could drill that many holes in an F-15 with his gun. As an AF sheet metal guy I am not familiar with the F-15 but those could be steel fasteners that were stronger than the skin & caused them to pull through the skin. Again, the picture is small so it is hard to say & I’m not sure if those areas are aluminum, fiberglass, steel or composite.

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