OK, so after finishing my novella (published in Authors and storytellers, BTW), I decided to get back to my original dieselpunk military novel, and one thing that I wanted to do is do a bit of world building with the outfits and uniforms that people in my military would be wearing.
The first thing I'd like to ask is a few favors. I've searched for the type of flight gear/outfits that pilots had in the tropics, but I mostly came up with the winter variants. Also I'm wondering if gunners and enlisted men had different flight outfits to pilots and officers. Some pics and info would be greatly appreciated.
That being said, I'm actually curious as to what to do to change RL flight outfits to make them more dieselpunk. I'm all for putting gadgets and doodads on stuffs, but I also want things to be practical and be there for a reason. I remember seeing some steampunk cosplayers, and while what they wear is really cool, sometimes I wonder if a lot of the things they have on serve any practical purpose.
So any advice?
As a rule of thumb it is 2 degrees Centigrade colder for every thousand feet you climb. Flying at the normal flight levels of commercial airlines, strategic bombers, or fighter hunting/escorting said bombers would put you a hundred degrees Fahrenheit colder than when you took off.
This why aviators in North Africa seem way too warmly dressed. Aviators adapted by wearing the leather and shearling jackets rakishly open on the flight line. Pilots had to dress with the freedom of motion required to safely and skillfully operate their ships which meant that they usually had the luxury of heated cockpits (or at least electrically heated flight suits. Enlisted crew (and commissioned naviguessers) tended to wear heavier flight gear to be able to crawl around but had plug in spots for the long haul.
The gear that I find handiest when I fly is a wrist watch (so that you can keep track of fuel consumption in your head, enroute check points, ETA, logger schedules, ETD, etc....), a pen pocket, a knee board, lots of pockets, small camera, lucky charm, Cross, dog tags, a small thermometer (many aircraft only have outside air temp gauges), flashlight (required for night flying), sunglasses, survival vest, and side arm.
Helmets are tricky. After many years I cannot tell you if I do or do not like flying with a helmet (built in headset, smoked visor, quieter) or just a headset. I do also own a helmet....
Your crew chief is probably attached to wearing as many tools as he can. Gunners might have the least gadgets except maybe a chicken plate and goggles. Chewing gum to help relieve ears. NO SMOKING.
Flight instruments fail when you need them the most so I like to carry as many redundant instruments on my person as possible. I have a small flashlight, screw driver, and thermometer on my plane's key ring. Today's tech allows my to carry a little HP device with an attitude indicator, moving map, ground speed indicator, etc... while my iPad lets me check weather, NOTAMS, instrument approach charts, etc... I even carry a handheld VHF radio. I might be a little overly cautious since my plane turns 54 on July 7th. Of course old war birds are perfectly maintained. Honest. I have flown several with patches over the bullet holes from more than one war. Extra gadgets might not be that unwise so long as you look cool.
Some more visual suggestions. I am fond of the fire resistant material NOMEX http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomex but it was not marketed until 1967 so leather and cotton are your next best options
Thanks, that's some Grade A material right there. I guess any fictional suits I might design don't have to be too far off from real life WW2 era stuff... maybe adding a few extra stuff, as you mentioned, built directly into the suit.
As for sidearms. While I know that aviators in WW2 had pistols (I heard they often got S&W M&P revolvers in large quantities), but would there have been space to carry short-barreled shotguns/carbines or submachine guns in survival kits? The reason why I ask is because in my settings, the enemy are fairly brutal and don't often take prisoners, so aircrews tend to be more heavily armed and trained combat than they would have been in RL.
Also would they have carried their sidearms on them at all times? As in during flight, or pick them up after the order to abandon aircraft was given?
I might be a little too fixated on US flight suits and ALSE. There are certainly other air forces to look at.
The reason that we carried S&W double action revolvers over automatics is that it was a reasonable assumption that you might be injured if you needed it and automatics take two hands to charge. Double action revolvers tend to be much faster to draw and shoot which is why police carried them. I carried a Ruger version usually attache to my ALSE vest in what was lovingly called a "Dick Tracy" holster. The .38 special ammo is very common, comes in many improved varieties (safety plugs, hollow points, P+, etc...), and is a better stopping round than the little 9mm. Some aviators carried their personal stainless steel Ruger Security Six revolvers which are very similar to issue revolvers but can also handle .357 ammo which, if nothing, else is so much louder than other common battlefield rounds that it is sort of a signaling device.
While they were never issued to us I have known aviators and aircrew who carried long guns. One of my crew chiefs in Alaska carried a paratroopers' M-1 carbine in his personal survival bag (we had to carry BIG flight bags flying in Alaska with among other tings an arctic sleeping bag, parka, fat boy pants, mukluks, food, etc...) He also carried several 30 round magazine figuring that he could eventually bring down a grizzly bear by shear weight of lead.
We tended to request him on cross country missions since he had put more thought into survival than even the other crew chiefs who as a group are all into survival and went through arctic and other survival schools with us. Their favorite skill was making small game snares from aircraft safety wire. They would make a game out seeing who could eat the least Army rations in a winter exercise relying on what they could trap and steal instead.
One old crusty warrant officer told me that he carried an M-79 grenade launcher in Vietnam and would just take potshots out the window. M-79s also shoot 40mm flachette rounds which basically makes them a giant shotgun.
Another evil warrant officer I knew (but that is redundant) used to scavenge old mayonnaise jars from the mess hall to put grenades in then pull the pins and screw the lids back on. The jar holds the spoon in place. When he would chuck them out the door the glass would shatter and 3 seconds later (unless he scraped the time delay paste off the primer beforehand) the grenade would go off. The idea was to give the evil crunchies something to think about besides shooting at your tail as you flew away. Most aircraft cannot see straight back let alone shoot as you fly out of an area. Using MILES gear we discovered just how brave crunchies get when you are leaving and no longer shooting at them like fish in a barrel. Crunchies so instinctively dive for prone cover that they even do this when it makes them an easier target for aircraft above them.
An important thing to note is the mind set and resourcefulness of a typical aviator. They might be what you could modestly call type-A personalities. Even in Vietnam if aviators were not captured right away they had a bad habit of ambushing/hunting the elite enemy soldiers sent to catch them instead of getting back to a friendly base as soon and safely as possible in order to preserve the time and money that went into them. You might want read Chuck Yeager's stories about being shot down in France. They also tend to be very physical since flight training is so competitive and selective. of everyone who applied to be an aviator in my generation on 1:5 graduated with the rest not passing the FAST test, flight physicals, PT tests, or school itself. Most special forces units have a 4:5 to 1:4 graduation rate. Despite the reality that smaller pilots fit better into cramped cockpits most aviators tend to be taller than average too. All those old John Wayne movies where he played pilots. ;-) I have not always liked everyone of my fellow aviators but I met almost none that I would not want with me in a fight.
Special British crews carried Sten guns which are very lightweight, CHEAP, reassemble quickly, and virtually indestructible even if they do shoot a sort of wimpy round.
We also had M-60 door guns which could be dismounted and carried by the crew. Sometimes we were sent gimpy infantrymen as doorgunners (and M-60 cleaners). After a crash even a gimpy infantryman can be useful.
IF I were flying in the situation that you are describing I would seriously look at the Skorpion which was designed to give tank crews a lot of fire power in a small package under similar conditions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0korpion_vz._61
This is arguably the world's best mass produced machine pistol: you can carry it in a holster, has a folding stock, can accept a suppressor, drum magazines are available, and although the ammo is wimpy it has VERY controllable recoil and special ammunition. Very Doc Savage. If you are going for an earlier tech feel then the LeMat or its pinfire cousins would be the next closest thing (maybe with a detachable shoulder stock) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeMat_Revolver
We also had little folding survival guns in the arms room. .22 on top and .410 shotgun under but we rarely carried them because of the paperwork and accountability hassles. http://ithacagun.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&am...
Aviators as well as all air and ground crew members carried weapons at all times when in the field. The reason that you always wore your pistol and ALSE vest full of survival gear is that in a crash, especially with a fire or under fire you are only exiting the aircraft with what you are wearing. IF you have the luxury of grabbing anything else your crewmates are the priority. Your firearms and most of your other survival gear just sort of became part of you. Flack vest never became part of you since they were either too hot or too cold (like a heat sink) and too stiff and heavy. medieval armour is less uncomfortable. Before each flight you brief your crew what to do in case on an emergency or crash which usually includes meeting off the tail 100 yds/m, if that is not possible the port wing, then the starboard wing, and as a last resort the nose where there might be a sinning prop or burning engine. Helicopters are the opposite since the tail rotor is so dangerous. Even civilians are supposed to give this briefing before each flight.
I just noticed last night that I also have a tiny compass on my airplane keys. I suppose that I could see some sort of leather cuff on your left arm with redundant instruments such as a watch, thermometer, compass, altimeter/barometer, and , if it would fit, a radio. Aviators invented wrist watches then crunchies copied them to try and look cool too. it is hard to check a pocket watch when you are flying although some pilots would use chewing gum to stick them on top of their dash.
You might find this forum thread about pilots carrying personal weapons interesting: http://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?91935-WW2-RAF-Fighter...
Apparently pilots in the Battle of Britain carried Webley .455s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webley_Revolver Not a bad choice since it has similar stopping power to a 1911 as a double action revolver.
This is fantastic. That watch... my god it's perfect. It's diesel as hell and also completely real and practical! I love it.
The use of the STEN is not surprising, the gun was made specifically to be the simplest possible SMG to make (so simple that it was mandatory that it could be built in a place no more sophisticated than a bicycle repair shop) to be used by partisans against the Axis.
It's simplicity, however, has a dark side, since in some countries, even first world ones, have illegal gun factories producing them. I remember hearing about a gun making operation in Australia that had criminals making over 300 SMGs per week for the black market before they were shut down.
The part about the revolver makes an interesting point, though I'm still probably going to arm with semi-autos, because I'm a huge semi-auto fan.
I have seen Sten gun kits as cheap as $24.95 each without the receiver (which is the part that the BATF defines as the gun) and cheaper by the dozen. There are people selling the receiver tubing with the machine templates already on it to drill for about $20. Two magazine full of ammo would cost about as much as the Sten gun. What was the old British marketing jingle when they were tying to sell off Sten guns after WW II? "Kills people just like expensive machine guns." With some recent firearms law changes here in Alaska that makes it illegal to try and enforce any federal gun regulations it might not be illegal to make machine guns in your garage now(?) They would obviously be illegal if they crossed the state borders and I am not going to take a chance of incurring all the trouble that comes with illegal machine guns in the US until I see a very clear interpretation on this law (or lack of laws). We do have a new indoor shooting range in town where you can rent machine guns: http://www.juneauguns.com/#!tour/cm0a Apparently this has become popular with foreign tourist getting off cruise ships here since owning guns can be so difficult in many countries. As an Alaskan I feel like we should be able to offer these poor oppressed people political asylum status.
The Army went to double action automatics for aviators but they break easily (we had one break new out of the box the first time it was fired on the range) and just do not have many fans. I have heard good things about an Argentine double action stainless version of the 1911 but since that was one of their only impressive weapons during the Falkland War not many people noticed. I have also heard good things about this double action automatic http://ruger.com/products/sr45/specSheets/3801.html but it is not quite enough for a metallic bear spray dispenser IMHO.
I am not aware of what I could call a double action machine pistol but I suppose that such a weapon could be made if the environment was hostile enough to justify such a thing.
I shoot SASS so my hands just do the single action thing automatically now. I picked up a nice 130-ish year old revolver and did not even notice that it was double action the first time I took it to the range. It just makes sense for me to stick to indestructible, accurate single actions that fire excessive bullets. There almost as many different guns out there are their are opinions and aviators have no shortage of opinions.
Oh yes, my wife inherited her father's little .32 revolver that he carried as a C-130 crew member. Among other missions his ship was repeatedly sent to pick up Communist Chinese political refuges where things tended to be a little squirrely. Some old east block uniforms had sewn in hidden holsters behind the front buttons like some flight jackets did behind the zipper. I was commanding OPFOR for an exercise where we decided to use some old Polish(?) uniforms we found dirt cheap. We hid squirt guns in the holsters. The other guys did not find a single squirt gun when they searched captive. Not one. Then the fun and yelling began.
Those fancy watches and worse (like 8G video "spy" watches) are for sale CHEAP on Ebay.
I have seen Sten gun kits as cheap as $24.95 each without the receiver (which is the part that the BATF defines as the gun) and cheaper by the dozen. There are people selling the receiver tubing with the machine templates already on it to drill for about $20. Two magazine full of ammo would cost about as much as the Sten gun. What was the old British marketing jingle when they were tying to sell off Sten guns after WW II? "Kills people just like expensive machine guns." With some recent firearms law changes here in Alaska that makes it illegal to try and enforce any federal gun regulations it might not be illegal to make machine guns in your garage now(?) They would obviously be illegal if they crossed the state borders and I am not going to take a chance of incurring all the trouble that comes with illegal machine guns in the US until I see a very clear interpretation on this law (or lack of laws). We do have a new indoor shooting range in town where you can rent machine guns:http://www.juneauguns.com/#!tour/cm0a Apparently this has become popular with foreign tourist getting off cruise ships here since owning guns can be so difficult in many countries. As an Alaskan I feel like we should be able to offer these poor oppressed people political asylum status.
That was hilarious, 'kills people like expensive machine guns'. I'm fairly confident that bullet can kill regardless of how cheap or expensive it is. Getting shot by a cheap Phoenix Arms HP25 is no different than by an expensive Beretta Bobcat , you're going to be in a world of hurt either way.
The gun laws in other countries are crap. The crazy thing is, the people might not want that strict gun laws. In Japan, blank firing guns are cottage industry and are very popular (there was even a 3D printed gun manufactured by a pro-gun Japanese guy). In China, I heard that they sell firearms interest magazines in many places despite the fact that private ownership of guns is basically illegal (you can have a gun to hunt, but you only have access to it during the season, you cannot keep it off season). But I guess I digress, this isn't about the laws, it's about Dieselpunk fiction.
In my setting, semi-autos gained prominence over revolvers earlier than they did in RL. One thing I noticed about handguns in RL is their development in the 20th century. Just prior to WW1, some guy said that the self-loading pistol would make the revolver completely obsolete in less than a decade. While that statement is laughable today, I did notice some factors.
In continental Europe, the vast majority of handguns developed after 1900 were semi-autos, and the revolver designs that continued to be used were mostly 19th century designs. Revolver development since then has been a primarily American thing, with the British giving only a few development since then. After WW2, revolvers really did become a thing of the past in almost all militaries, albeit a lot of police departments in many countries still used revolvers (Many Australian PDs and the Norwegian federal police were still using the S&W Model 10 as late as 2006 and 2008).
One thing I wanted to do in my setting is to slightly accelerate the development of semi-autos. This was based on the fact that the first prototype of the Browning High Power actually had a 16 round magazine. The BHP already had 13 rounds, which in the 1930s to the 60s was huge compared to the 6-8 rounds that most pistols had. The original 16 would have even been more impressive by comparison. So one thing I did that is gun manufacturers would have updated their designs to accept larger magazines. So guns with 12 rounds of .45 ACP wouldn't be uncommon in military circles.
I'll have to check out the thing about the watch. I'm definitely looking for a new watch. I saw an ad in an aviation magazine for a very beautiful WW2 style luftwaffe watch that would look awesome. That 8G one is definitely a major eye grabber and I'll want to get one. :)
There is a little more to the revolver vs automatic argument. The first automatics like the C-96 did not catch on well in America for a couple reasons including that they were fast to empty but used a relatively slow stripper clip to load and America had a "quick draw" culture. Even modern automatics are slower to clear leather and usually need a two handed "huckleberry" grip to charge and operate quickly. Bob Munden routinely drew and fired a single action in 0.04 seconds and other quick draw competitors often break 0.05. The fastest claim that I can find for an automatic is 0.75 seconds(?). Bob Munden would have already had time to order pizza after winning that gunfight. An automatic's high rate of fire may never matter if you cannot get the first shot off.
I saw a fellow once who could empty a six gun with one fan - each finger and the thumb flip cocked it. It just made a burping sound and he easily fired 6 rounds faster than an officer could fire 5 from a 1911.
Gen. Patton's choice of sidearms.
American and British revolvers had different reloading systems but a common one for people who were in a hurry to reload was the S&W ejector system:
My wife has a pair of these revolvers and can easily clear and reload in the time that a 1911 can. Many early automatics that used magazines did not come with spares. Some weapons even chained the removable magazines to the gun so that it would not get lost. American shooting leathers were much more advanced than the rest of the world and they were made for revolvers.
Revolvers are simply stronger and more reliable. There are rare automatics shooting rounds like the .460 but Alaskan convenience stores sell .460s, .480s, and .500 S&Ws. Sometimes bigger and guaranteed reliability matter most like in bear country.
Automatics have an advantage in that they can be suppressed while only a very few revolvers have the correct gas seal for a silencer.
You forgot South America also liking revolvers. Indian police invented a heavy weight low recoil round for their old .38 S&W revolvers then continued carrying them until at least the 1950s. I was issued a revolver in the Army until about 1993 and was underwhelmed by the replacement. I have seen village police still carrying revolvers (bear country again). Most boat and plane guns here are shotguns then revolvers.
There were also self cocking and automatic revolvers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webley-Fosbery_Automatic_Revolver and http://www.guns.com/2013/04/25/mershon-and-hollingsworth-self-cocki... Just to complicate things.
One of Sam Colt's sales pitches for the legendary 1873 Peacemaker was his list of things to do if the gun broke. If the trigger broke just thumb the hammer back and release it. It the cylinder jams reach up and turn it. It the hammer breaks just hit the back with a rock. If when something goes wrong with a Beretta all you can do is throw it at them.
I had to pick up one of the "spy" wrist watches. It works fairly well but I can't wear wrist watches. I am constantly breaking them and they look odd on me. I was surprised by how many people complimented me on how nice this cheap spy watch actually looks. It is nicer than most plain watches that cost a couples times as mush and do not take videos. i wonder how long before one is out that has a screen to play the videos back without having to plug it into a laptop?
One thing that we would like to find for the next SteamPunk Cruise are tiny walkie talkies. Some frequent cruisers already carry walkie talkies since the boats are big and cell phones do not work on them.
What would be a lot better would be walkie-talkie pocket watches since most of us carry pocket watches already. We were constantly wanting to call each other on the boats to let everyone know what sushi or Indian food was out or when games were starting up. Off boat they could be even more useful to broadcast where bargains are, taxi sharing, where the aggressive Jamaican sellers would pass for New Jersey muggers, etc.... If anyone happens to find a pocket watch version on the cheap please let me know.
I think that you might really like one of these surplus Argentine double action 1911s. In the 80s they were as cheap as $250. with ads "Only dropped in the sand once" when the British sold off the confiscated ones from the Falklands.
I do own a 1911 and Broomhandle so it is not like I hate automatics but I do find them a little limited. I sometimes carry the 1911 concealed when I am in bear country but still around people - to be polite. As soon as I am off the road system I prefer my trusty rusty .45 "Old" Vaquero in a buscadero (one of the great American developments). If I have a group then an over sized long gun. If I am just walking the dog or hiking there is that little 130-ish year old noise maker Bulldog pocket gun - it is the wimpiest gun ever to call itself a ".44" but still it is a .44 and loud. Just my preferences. I loan the Broomhandle and wooden holster/stock to visiting friends going fishing since it floats and one of the coolest guns ever mass produced.
Back to flight suits - most aviators will be wearing lace up boots.
They are laced in such a way to let the ankle bend easier up and down so that you can operate the rudder pedals more smoothly. Even mukluks (which are surprisingly comfortable when it is below 0F) can be laced this way so they are easy to fly in. The red laces are just to show the technique.
Flashlights. You usually carry a flashlight to see inside cowlings when you are doing your preflight inspection and because the FAA requires one for night flying. In Alaska all survival kits are supposed to include fishing gear. The theory is that you can fish for your dinner almost any where in Alaska. Reality is that fishing turns a desperate survival situation into a vacation and the most important survival skill is a positive mental attitude. A good attitude can be taught and practiced.
Just a few of the multi-faced wrist watches.
Ahh! I wrote a super long response that was lost when I clicked a wrong button! Oh well, no write like rewrite! :D Let’s see if my third attempt at posting will succeed
The part you mentioned about holsters and American quick draw culture is actually really interesting. I consider myself a huge gun nut, but this is something about guns that I never really paid much attention to. I really didn’t think about just how much importance a holster can make. The only information I knew about holsters was from Fairbairns ‘Shoot to Live’ book (great read BTW) which detailed how an ideal holster design should work. Obviously this was written in the 30s and Fairbairn was a huge advocate of semi-autos, but the book was the first serious study in modern pistol combat.
The part about replacement magazines and parts being hard to come by is another thing that was really interesting, too. I didn’t realize that they were that hard to come by. It also makes sense that if mags are hard to replace, many people (police and civilian alike) would stick to revolvers. Speedloaders did exist at the time, but you didn’t need them to load or reload your gun. It reminds me of a case in Lebanon when I saw a shotgun with a detachable magazine. It seemed cool, until I realized that the shop owner didn’t keep any spares and couldn’t order them easily, so it defeated the purpose of being faster to reload.
I’m not experienced in shooting guns, but I did fire a Glock 17 and I compared that to a C96 (I own an airgun version of the C96) and one thing that I have come to the conclusion of is this: While the C96 is a cool looking gun and screams dieselpunk, I wouldn’t want to use a real C96 for anything other than plinking. The reason for that is that I found the sights to be very difficult to use and aim, and comparing it to other semi-autos like the Glock or Browning High Power (I held a BHP in my hand, it fit like a glove… once I get my gun permit in Canada I’m going to buy me one of those). I haven’t shot any revolvers yet, but once I get my permit and join a gun club, I’m going to try to rent and shoot as many different kinds of guns as I can.
The .44 bulldog revolver from the 19th century is a very interesting gun. It was most of the most widely produced pocket revolvers of the era and it was built from 1872 till around 1910. While it a ‘.44’, it doesn’t mean it’s powerful. This is because it was a British designed gun and caliber. If you look at a lot of 19th century British revolvers and compare them to American revolvers, you’ll see that while the caliber was large, the case length of British revolvers is much, much shorter. (The .455 Webley in metric would be 11.5x20mm while the .45 LC would be 11.5x33mm. Those numbers are rounded up) So they didn’t pack as much punch as US rounds. Of course this was all on paper, I heard that the .455 Webley outperformed the .45 LC in actual trials, but that’s another case.
I wanted to write more, but in between the rewrites and the three day break I took. I sorta forgot… those watches are still so cool, I will need to buy one soon. J
I have lost a long post or two too.
The idea of quick reloads is kind of new. Clint Eastwood made the 1858's ability to change preloaded cylinders famous.
The problem is that Remington did not sell cylinders separately. If you were going to buy another whole Remington then why not just carry the whole pistol.
That is a .455 on the left, .45 ACP, and .45 Long Colt. The .455 and .45 ACP are pretty close in effectiveness but a .45 LC is significant step up in power. After trying a number of rounds I found that .45 LC is my favorite SASS round. It was arguably the ultimate black powder pistol round and is outperformed by very few smokeless pistol rounds.
This is my little .44 Bulldog. Even the cheap US ammunition was enough to assassinate a president: http://www.historicalfirearms.info/post/45532878814/the-gun-that-ki... The more powerful (and much more expensive) .442 Irish Constabulary round that these little guns fire is just a step down from a .44 "regular." It is a lot of gun for its size.
My Broomhandle is a much better carbine (with the stock/holster attached) than a pistol. The chamber is above and forward of your grip so the recoil is harder to control than a 1911. In wars when soldiers were issued bolt action or even single shot rifles a 10 shot semi-automatic carbine was very impressive. Winston Churchill was very fond of his. Americans and quick draw:
We are also forgetting one of the most popular rounds from about 1880 through WW II, .38 S&W. Shorter and slower than a .38 Special it was still a good man stopper since the slug was about 20% bigger than a .38 Special. They just won't go through a car door. There was even an extra heavy police version popular in British colonies and India.
I have one of the airsoft C96s too. It took a little work but I got it to fit the real holster for con wear.
Any chance for you to participate in aircrew survival or escape&evasion training? Possibly with the Canadian air cadets or an airsoft club?