Contact me at starfightersmodelblog(at)mindspring(dot)com

Airplanes, Rocketry, Missiles, Spacecraft and things that go WHOOSH! in the night.
What's flying around my head at the current time.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Weapon of Mass Destruction Found 

The weapon used to spark a series of events responsible for approximately eight million deaths has been found. The long-lost pistol used to assassinate Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand now on display in the Vienna Military Museum.. After the conviction of the murderer, it was given to the Jesuit preist who performed last rites on the fatally wounded monarch. His plans to open a museum dedicated to the memory of the Arch-Duke fell foul of the beginning of the World War, and the pistol has been stored with other artifacts in a store room of a Jesuit monastery in Austria.

Gun that started World War I found

Crusader Profiles 

Nicely done series of colour profiles of the Vought F-8 Crusader spanning all models and users both USN/USMC and foreign.

F-8 Crusader profiles

What kind of book person are you? 

My answers are in italic.

1) What is your favorite type of bookstore?
A. A large chain that is well lit, stuffed full of books, and has a café.
B. A dark, rather dusty, used bookstore full of mysterious and vaguely organized books.
C. A local independent bookstore that has books by local authors and coffee.

All of the above.

2) What would excite you more?
A. A brand new book by your favorite author.
B. Finding a classic you've been wanting to read.
C. Receiving a free book from a friend in the mail.

All of the above

3) What's your favorite format?
A. Novel
B. Short story
C. Poetry

Novel, then Short Story

4) Favorite format, part II.
A. Contemporary fiction.
B. Classic novels.
C. Genre (mystery, espionage, etc.)

Genre (SF, Military Fiction, Techno-Thriller)

5) Favorite format, part III (none of the above) Fiction or non?
A. Almost entirely fiction.
B. Almost entirely non-fiction.
C. A mix of both.

Mix of Fiction & Non-Fiction

6) Does the design and condition of the book matter?
A. Yes, I love a well designed book and keep mine in mint condition.
B. No, the words are what matter.
C. Yes and no, I appreciate good design and treat my books with respect but I am not obsessive about it.

Yes and No. If I'm interested in the subject, I'll take a rough but readable copy if I can't get copy in good or better condition.

7) On average how many books do you read a month?
A. I am lucky to read one.
B. I am dedicated. I read 4 or 5.
C. I am a fiend. I read 10 or more!

Somewhere between B and C on an average month.

8) Do you prefer to own or borrow?
A. There is a particular joy in owning a book. I have a large library.
B. Why spend money when you can read it for free? I use the public library.
C. Different tools for different job. I do both.

Own. Public libraries rarely have books I want to read or use as reference, especially non-fiction aviation and military history.

9) Where do you get (the majority) your book news?
A. Newspapers.
B. Magazines.
D. Blogs.

All of the above

10) Are books a professional obsession?

A. Yes, I work in the field (writer, reviewer, publisher, teacher, etc.).
B. No, I do it for fun.
C. Kinda, I write the occasional review but have a regular job outside of books.

B. I use a lot of books as professional and personal reference sources, but do not work inthe publishing industry.

See the original quiz here along with some other folks answers here

Scheduled Space Flights Still Far Away 

The first private space shot is a just a first step to opening space to everyone. Burt Rutan lists some of the vehicle requirements needed to make space tourism a paying proposition. Still, I think we're on the way.

Designer: Space tours not on horizon

Make A Ruckus! 

Some helpful instructions to follow if you ever find yourself caught up in a terrorist attack. Hopefully, you may never have to use this info, but it may help keep you from being a hostage or worse if the feces impacts the rotary air circulation device. It can happen here.

Public Service Annoucement

Are You A Neocon? 

Are you Liberal, Realist, Isolationist, or Neoconservative? Find out by taking this short quiz form the Christian Science Monitor. For the record, I came out as a Neocon.

Neocon quiz


Is it really cursing when it's done in Elizabethan English? Here's a page to get that perfect epithet!

Elizabethan Curse Generator

Saturday, June 26, 2004


I scored "Intuitive" on this one.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Rate Your Sex Appeal 

How do you rate? I scored in the "steamy" range. (BEG)


The AWWWW! Animal Story of the Week 

More proof that the dog is truly Man's best friend. Can you see a cat doing this?

Puppy prevents Canadian killing spree

Movies You've Seen. Or Not. 

A meme currently running about the 'net where you bold-off the movies you have seen of the Top 100 Grossing Movies of All Time. My list is below.

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) $165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,25

I've seen mnost of these on video or DVD, but not too bad a representation.
Hat Tip: John of Castle Argghhh!

Fanboy Strikes Again 

I don't know if this is a gag or just plain sick. This guy must still live in his parent's basement. Someone really needs to get a life. She may be cute, but she is still MAJOR jailbait!

The Official Countdown Site to Hermione's 18th Birthday

Browser to the Stars 

Or in the stars, at any measure. It really is a superior browser.


Top Gun Disease 

Did you know that June is National NAS Awareness Month? NAS, or Naval Aviator Syndrome is a tragic disease afflicting many former Navy Airmen, and not a few civilians who have watched "Top Gun" a few too many time.
Please post these danger signs on your influential and respected website.

We're NASSTY (Naval Aviator Syndrome Society)™, and we can help.

Top Ten Signs your loved one is afflicted by Naval Aviator Syndrome

1. Always rides with one passenger. Passenger must sit in back seat behind driver and navigate. Passenger must answer to name "Goose".

2. To depart house, parks car at end of driveway, applies brakes, revs engine to redline rpm, salutes smartly and pops clutch.

3. Welds pipe to front fender and connects it to gas tank. When the low fuel light comes on, announces "bingo fuel" and attempts to dock with a gasoline tanker on the freeway for "in-flight refueling".

4. Paints crosshairs on windshield. Whenever a Yugo is aligned in the crosshairs, will depress 4-way flasher button and yell "Fox one!"

5. Feels uncomfortable unless accompanied on freeway by "wingman" who must drive one lane to the right, three cars back.

6. In case of engine trouble, will shout "Eject! Eject! Eject!", pull the hood release handle and depart the vehicle through the sunroof.

7. Equips car with radar detector. When it goes off, throws tinfoil out the window and conducts "evasive maneuvers".

8. When gassing up, requests attendant supply "0.12 thousand pounds of fuel".

9. Purchases house with circular driveway. Enters driveway at 40mph. In the event the car is not perfectly aligned, shouts "Bolter! Bolter!" and accelerates out of the driveway at full speed.

10. Spends one day a week on the garage roof grading other drivers on their "landings" in the driveway.

Luckily, I don't suffer from this, and besides I can quit at any time.

Hat tip: Ronin

Irreconcilable Differences 

As an SF fan, I've wondered why network suits can't seem to understand SF. This article indicates that we just don't use language the same way.

Differences between Network Executives and Science- Fiction Fans.


Talk about an unfortunate message.

Bumper sticker a self-fulfilling prophecy

More LEGO Models 

This guy must work for LEGO. If he doesn't he should. He's done some REALLY neat stuff, all out of LEGOs.


The Shining Beacon 

Remember a record from the 70's titled Americans? It was recorded by a Canadian who felt he needed to stand up for the USA by listing the good things that this country had accomplished.

With all the negativity about this country that is flung about from both without and within, it is easy to be discouraged. To paraphrase Paul Harvey, "Wash your eyes out with this."

The Last, Best Hope

Josef Stalin - Movie Buff? 

Apparently Stalin was a big movie buff, and thought himself an expert producer, director, and screenwriter. He also used movies to help strengthen his rule.

Why Stalin loved Tarzan

The All-Electric Warship 

Energy weapons will be going to sea soon, if current trends continue. The DD(X), the Navy's latest surface combatant design will pave the way to actually fielding the stereotypical "death ray." Current ships of the Arleigh Burke Class have four gas turbines spinning the prop shafts, along with three more for generating about 7.5 Mogadishu of power for electrical equipment. The drive turbines power can only be used for propulsion, and is wasted when they don't have to devote full power to moving the ship.

The DD(X) will have an integrated Power System (IPS) where four turbines generate power for all ship's functions, including the electric motors driving the propellers. The generating power will be in the range of 75 megawatts, and excess power will be stored in capacitors or flywheels to be used when needed.

The Navy is looking into ways that extra power can be used as a weapon. It is entirely possible that in addition to conventional guns and missiles, that in the very near future, free electron lasers, microwave beam weapons and rail guns may be providing a high tech "punch" to seaborne combat.

I have read that the CTOL version of the F-35 JSF may use the excess power and space that is used for the lift fan of the V/STOL versions to power a megawatt class laser. It seems that the power generation capabilities and weapons technology might be coming together to make such "SF" weapons possible.

Electric Warship

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

JMS Does Trek? What a Concept! 

Babylon 5 (the best show ever put on TV, IMNHO) creator J. Michael Straczynski was approached by Paramount to Executive Produce the 4th season of Enterprise. He turned them down, but has co-written a treatment that "specified how to save ST and develop a series that would restore the series in a big way." Very Interesting, but will the suits at Paramount have the imagination to go with it? Stay tuned.

Saving Trek

More from "The Great Maker" here.

"A Few Glitches" 

Ther were a few problems during yesterday's suborbital flight, so it may be a bit before they make the record attempt. The flight control system caused some uncommanded roll inputs during the early part of the boost phase, the rocket motor apparently shut down early, and there were some structural problems. Hopefully, they can be ironed out fairly quickly.
SpaceShip One Flight Anomalies

Monday, June 21, 2004

I Always Wondered . . . 

. . . why the P-38 was never fitted with Rolls Royce Merlin engines. There are several theories. This page describes an interesting "what-if?"
The P-38K

SpaceShip One Makes It to the Edge of space 

Congratulations to Scaled Composites and the entire SpaceShip One Team for an awe-inspiring flight. While the final reports are not yet verified, they have made it and returned safely to their launch site. Looks like a few glitches need to be worked out, but what a ride! I hope there will be onboard video released soon.

Spaceflight Now Mission Status Center

Another report with pictures of launch and landing: First Manned Private Spaceflight

X-Prize Competitors 

A list of the current X-prize projects. Just a small pichture and a paragraph.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

British Rockets and Satellite Launchers. 

Just found this page. Pretty extensive look at British rocket projects.

British Rockets and Satellite Launchers.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I Thought MY Desk was Messy! 

This one makes Dennis Nedry's look like an surgical suite!
Messy Desk


An interesting concept: Go to a central location, prepare 12 meals and put them in freezer containers, and cook them at your leisure. They do all the chopping, measuring, and cleanup! A bit pricey, but still a good idea.DreamDinners.com | Life Just Got Easier

Mispeld Wurds 

The top 100 misspelled words in the English language. Each listings has a tip to remember the correct spelling.
Mizpelt Werdz

Whatever Happened To . . . 

Richard Reid, the guy who tried to blow up an airliner with shoe-bombs? Have you heard anything onTV or in the newspapers about his trial? I seem to have missed it if it was. He has been convicted and sentenced. The judge who sentenced him had some interesting things to say.

SSDB: Needs More Cowbell

Your Favorite Fictional Characters 

A recent meme amonst conservative bloggers was to list your favorite fictional Characters. You can pick from 10-25. The results listed here were very interesting.

My list (In no particular order)

1: Valentine Michael Smith (Stranger in a Strange Land)
2: Jubal Harshal (see above)
3: Masterharper Robinton (Dragonquest, etc by Anne McCaffrey)
4: Pappy Jack Holloway (Little Fuzzy, Fuzzy Sapiens by H. Beam Piper)
5: Jack Ryan (Hunt for Red October, etc)
6: Han Solo
7: Juan Rico (Starship Troopers)
8: Harve Rackham (Pulling Through, etc by Dean Ing)
9: Calvin Morrison (Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, etc. by H. Beam Piper)
10: Win Bear (L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach, etc.)
11: Kimball Kinnison (Triplanetary, etc by E.E. 'Doc' Smith)
12: Mr. Dubios (Starship Troopers)
13: Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings)
14: Gully Foyle (The Stars, My Destination)
15: Samwise Gamgee
16: Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)
17: Harry Potter
18: Gandalf
19: Luke Skywalker
20: Indiana Jones
21: Monk (from the Series with the same name)
22: Andy Sipowitz (NYPD Blue)
23: Jonathan Archer (Enterprise)
24: Reteif
25: Honor Harrington (On Basilisk Station, etc by David Weber)
There are more that I could add, but see the top vote getters here:
Bloggers Select Their Favorite Fictional Characters

Friday, June 18, 2004

This One Seems to Fit 

You are a Spatial Thinker

Spatial Thinkers:

Tend to think in pictures, and can develop good mental models of the physical world. Think well in three dimensions. Have a flair for working with objects.

Like other spatial thinkers, Leonardo had a talent for designing buildings and machinery. He also invented a new style of map making Other Spatial Thinkers include Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo, Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Careers which suit Spatial Thinkers include: Mechanic, Photographer, Artist, Architect, Engineer, Builder, Set designer

Thinker quiz

Too Much Time on Their Hands 

The Fellowship of the Ring with a cast of . . . (Wait for it) . . . Marshmallow Peeps! Very nicely done, but sweet Jesus . . .
Fellowship of the Peep

And this is just plain sick.
The Scout Walker Kama Sutra

All-Metal Models 

A page showcasing some very intricately fashioned model work done all in aluminum. A better man than I am, for sure.

Metal Models

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Gooney . . . 

. . .but didn't know what to ask.

The DC-3 Hangar

Friday, June 11, 2004





From Go-Quiz.com

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Harry Potter III in Fifteen Minutes 

LMAO. Do not read this while drinking. A well done parody.

m15m: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Fifteen Minutes

Vocabulary Test 

165 of 200. Not bad for a techno-weenie engineering major. Compare word pairs to see if they are the same or opposites.

Schmies Vocabulary Test

Bear Basher 

Talk about having cohones! This guy has a pair of big brass ones! Seems a kodiak brown bear decided to help itself to dinner. The guy defended himself with a . . .(wait for it) . . . frying pan! Unfortunately, the local environazis are threatening to take him to court and take posession of the remains to keep him from making a bearskin rug of it.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Just a fun collection of old (and not-so-old) candy wrappers. Old standbys, and more than a few bizarre ones.

The Candy Wrapper Museum

The USSR's Missed Opportunity 

The USSR's best chance to defeat NATO was in the mid-to-late seventies, according to this correspondent. As a member of the US Army in Europe during that time, he saw the military at its post-Vietnam nadir. Drug abuse was rife. Barracks full of underpaid and un-inspired troops, lead by disprited or self-absorbed officers and NCOs, using obsolete and poorly-maintained weapons. There was no way to stop the soviets without going nuclear.

Then Ronald Reagan became president, and things began to change. The troops got pay raises making them more able to live on their salaries. The officers & NCOs either got religion or got out. There was a pride and until new gear came into service, the funds to keep the old stuff running was available. Discipline and morale improved, and professionalism returned to the armed forces.

After that, the Soviets could not keep up, and never had another chance.


I Wonder If We Will See This . . . 

. . . on Animal Cops-Houston?
While I could never be accused of being an animal-rights wacko, this woman was cruel and negligent beyond any shadow of doubt. In my not-so-humble opinion, she is getting off light. I think 30 days of mouldy bread and green-scummed water would be appropriate.

Horse Owner Sentenced for Anumal Cruelty

Fellowship (Python) of the Ring 

Being both a Python and a Tolkien fan I LMAO reading this. Right up there with "Bored of the Rings".
Monty Python: Fellowship of the Ring

Father of Canadian rocketry dies at 89 

Fold this in the "ScaleRoc" Yahoo group.

Tue Jun 8 2004

By Kevin Rollason
THE man known as the father of Canadian rocketry has died.

Albert Fia, 89, died on Saturday.

Fia, who retired in 1980 as a vice-president at Bristol Aerospace,
developed the Black Brant rockets in the early 1960s.

The rockets are still used for sub-orbital research by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), as well as other universities and government agencies in the United States and round the world.

"He really is the father of rocketry in Canada," Joe Tharayil, Bristol's retired director of engineering, said yesterday. "It (the Black Brant) is one of the many things Bristol has done, but this was Bristol's own design and development."

Tharayil said the rocket was developed and built in Winnipeg to be launched in Churchill for research into the northern lights. Since 1962, more than 800 Black Brants have been launched.

Fia was born in Lethbridge and served in the Second World War.

He joined Bristol in 1958, after a second stint with the Canadian army, during which he attended the Royal Military College of Science in England and Laval University, where he earned his engineering degree.

Fia, in a letter he wrote to the Free Press in 2002, said because Black Brants had been launched on scientific missions from ranges in Canada, the United States, Europe, Brazil, Australia and Africa, "not only has Black Brant contributed to the understanding of space, but it is a valuable export commodity.

"Bristol remains the only company that produces the rocket with the payload, fuels the motors at its plant at Rockwood, and assists in the launch phase."

In 1981, after Fia retired, NASA honoured him for his "dynamic leadership in the development of solid propellant motors and rockets" by giving him the Public Service Award, the first ever awarded to a citizen of another country than the United States. Keith Koehler, a spokesman for NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., where many Black Brants are launched now, said the best commendation for the rockets is "the vehicles are still in the air."

Koehler said the rocket has been used to launch numerous experiments, including planetary telescopes and cosmic ray detectors.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The First Electronic Computer is Restored  

Found this on the "Plane Talking" discussion forum on Hyperscale.

Return of Colossus marks D-Day
Sat Jun 5, 2004 22:49

Return of Colossus marks D-Day
By Jo Twist
BBC News Online technology staff

Tony Sale led the team to rebuild Colossus Mk2
Colossus Mk2, a wartime code-breaker hailed as one of the first electronic computers, has been rebuilt and reunited with Bletchley Park veterans.

At Bletchley, the hub of British code operations, it crucially found the keys to break the Lorenz code used by Hitler to encrypt messages to his generals.

Colossus Mk2 has been painstakingly put back together over a decade by computer conservationists for Bletchley museums.

As part of D-Day celebrations, 30 war coders gathered to see it once more.

Besides its code-breaking prowess, Colossus was one of the most significant forerunners of computing technology because it was programmable and electronic.

Electronic power

Colossus Mk2 was essentially an upgrade of Mk1, which went into action on 1 February 1944. It was a prototype machine which proved the concept of electronic switching.

Colossus first worked at two-bit level
Intercepted message was punched into ordinary teleprinter paper
Message was read at 5,000 characters per second
Contained 1,500 vacuum valves
Could carry out 100 Boolean calculations at any one time
Source: The Colossus Rebuild Project
Electronics made it a very different creature to other code-breaking machines, which carried out blind searches for text matches.

"The major thing was it implemented a statistical attack on a cipher and that was the first time that was done," Tony Sale, head of the Colossus Rebuild Project, told BBC News Online.

"To do that it had to repeatedly scan the messages very fast, and a large amount of messages. Because it was electronic, it was able to do that very fast."

The machine was originally built by Dr Tommy Flowers at the Post Office research labs in London.

He was a great advocate of electronic and digital systems, and thought a programmable machine could be built to automate telephone call switches.

Dr Flowers' idea was to generate the keys needed to break the code in valve circuits in and thyratron rings - gas filled triodes - explained Mr Sale.

"No one believed he could do it because it had 1,500 valves in it, and no one believed it would ever work for more than 10 seconds," he said

Colossus was crucial for D-Day operations
This was because people were used to valves in their wireless - radio - sets blowing often. But, said Mr Sale, that was because of the constant switching on and off of sets.

To get around this, Colossus was not switched off until the end of the war.

The machines worked by reading teleprinter characters of the intercepted, encrypted message from a paper tape. The tape was looped with punched holes at the beginning and end of the text.

Usually, the cipher text had been transmitted by radio. By current computing standards it was fast, according to Mr Sale.

He argues that the original Colossus was so powerful, it would take current computers the same amount of time to break codes.


Colossus was also ground-breaking because it was put into action two years ahead of its nearest US rival, the Eniac (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer).

Although, Mr Sale said, Eniac was thought to have been first because Colossus was kept a secret until the 1970s.

The machines filled entire rooms
The Colossus Rebuild Project started in 1993. The team used eight old photographs and some surviving circuit diagrams to piece the machine together.

Three months were spent re-drawing the machine using CAD (Computer Aided Design) software on a computer with a 486 processor. A mix of old wartime valves and new components were used to construct the machine.

By the end of the Second World War, 10 Colossus machines were in action. They cut the time to break codes used by the Lorenz cipher machine from weeks to just hours, which was vital for D-Day preparations in 1944.

This meant they were instrumental in misinformation campaigns which led to last minute changes to D-Day attack strategies.

The machines were so successful that by the end of the war, 63 million characters of German messages had been decrypted.

After the war, most of the machines were scrapped to protect their sophisticated secrets.

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame 

Opening June 18! Unfortunately, I'll have to get to Seattle to visit. I wonder if they got any of Forry Ackerman's collection.

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Bean Stalk to the Stars! 

The concept of the "space elevator" is a recurring device used in SF stories to routinely lift payloads to geostationary orbit. I first read about the concept in Arthur C. Clarke's Fountains of Paradise, and have most recently encoutered the proposal in a trilogy by David Gerrold: Jumping Off the Planet, Bouncing Off the Moon, and Leaping to the Stars. The advantage is that using "elevators" to lift payloads to orbit would be much cheaper than the current chemical rocket technology. The biggest drawback is that we currently do not have the materials and structures technology to build such a structure. However, a recent technology, carbon nanotubes is showing promise. If they can be produced in commercial quantity, Material with sufficient tensile strength to withstand the shear forces in a multi-thousand-mile "shaft" would have to withstand.
LiftPort Group Inc. is a startup company that is hoping to build the first Beanstalk witha projected first lift date of pril 12, 2015. The Space Elevator Reference is a site with news and information on space elevators.

The Dispatch

Thursday, June 03, 2004


In the midst of the 40th anniversary of D-Day commemorations in 1984, I was writing a check at the Kroger store in Warner Robins when I dated the check June 6, 1944. when I noticed the error and corrected it, the teeny-bopper who was checking me out asked if that was my birthday. I explained that it was the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

"D-Day? she asked dimly.

"You know, the Normandy invasion?" The lights were still off. "World War II? It was in all the papers." Long pause.

"Oh" The light started to shine. No more than 10 watts max. "I think we studied that in history class."

Well, it seems that school-age kids in England are no better. A recent survey showed that fewer than half of them could identify the date or the place the landings occurred, or any of the leaders on the Allied side, including Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister at the time. Unfortunately, the article does not link to a copy of the survey.

D-Day 1899 and President Denzel Washington is leading liberation of New Zealand from the Nazi's

Spaceship One is GO! 

Rutan's team is planning a go for the edge of space on June 21. They are inviting folks to come out and watch. Wish I could go. While they are saying that this is not an X-Prize attempt, if it is successful, the required second flight would have to be attempted no later than July 5th. What a way to mark Independence Day!

CNN.com - Private spacecraft blast offs June 21, 2004

Bill Barnes-Pulp Air Hero 

A really neat page dedicated to a hero of 30's pulp Adventure fiction. A true labor of love. Story titles, plot synopses, drawings of the rather unusual planes he and his opponents flew. Model Plans, magazine covers and pictures of flying models built from plans. Lots of good stuff here. Enjoy!

Bill Barnes

Here's the same author's page dedicated to the aircraft from the movie, The Shape of Things to Come

Things To Come

Daffy Diver 

Help Daffy Duck sky dive and hit the target. Simple and fun.
Sky-Diving Daffy

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

WWII Fighter Unearthed in London 

A famous incident from the Battle of Britain was Ray Holmes' ramming a Dornier bomber with his Hurricane over London after he ran out of ammo. He cut off the tail of the German bomber and bailed out before his plane crashed near Buckingham Palace. A recent excavation on Buckingham Palace Road uncovered the wreckage. While the wreckage is in really in bad shape (The fighter was doing about 350 mph when it hit) the control yoke was uncovered and presented to Mr. Holmes, who was onsite when the remais were brought to the surface.
WWII fighter dug up in London

404 Not Found 

The Dreaded "404" message translated into multiple languages.

it's all lost and stoof

That's What a Moron Puts on His Luggage! 

According to this report, the hyper-top secret launch code for US Nuclear Missiles wasn't that big a secret. According to this report, the unlock code for the missiles was set at "00000000" for most of the cold war. Hmmm. I'd say, "Consider the source."
Armageddon Almost Not Averted

That Band is SO Fake! 

An alphabetical listing of "fake" musical groups from TV and Movies. Everything you can think of from Josie and the Pussycats to Spinal Tap. One-episode wonders like The Sacred Cows from Get Smart. You name it, it can probably be found here, with links and some pictures. Real Groovy, Man!

The Rocklopedia Fakebandica!

USS Enterprise Finally Flies 

A flying, radio-control model of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Not rocket-powered, it seems to fly pretty well, considering. Article includes links to video and pictures
USS Enterprise

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