August 08, 2006

We get mail

Stephen O. writes, in regard to the Hezbollah photos story (which oddly, doesn't seem to have gotten quite the traction of "Reuter-gate"):

"I came to pretty much the same conclusion as you but additionally I can't see the Christian militia which would almost certainly be operating in the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut allowing Hezbollah to waltz in and fire rockets. As you say, they might accept the help from AAA.

"The source I originally found these images at has six photos instead of three. The third of the six shows a pickup with the Lebanese flag on the side next to the truck carrying the ZU-23 which also suggests that it is a Christian militia manning the ZU-23. Finally, all the reports I have seen about press contacts with Hezbollah refer to the presence of Hezbollah security patrols with walkie-talkies. One reason the Israelis know so little about Hezbollah is that Hezbollah are paranoid about security (with good cause).

"There is a claim in the article that one of the photos shows "the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of residential block, blown up in an Israeli air attack." I can't see any sign of this in the remaining photos.

"BTW, apparently truck-mounted ZU-23s typically have another less well known use. They are the urban street fighters weapon of choice for dealing with snipers in tall buildings."

BruceR: A good, if subtle point about the lack of obvious communications equipment in what would be an unfamiliar operating environment for a Hezbollah team. By itself, neither it nor the Lebanese flag on the truck are evidence this *wasn't* Hezbollah, but there's certainly nothing in the photos to confirm the photographer's contention that they are. The story with the additional three photos is here.

Roger from Australia writes, re the posting on the Hezbollah rocket impact photos:

"I only have lay knowledge of the topic, but I think you are slightly incorrect in your comments about "bedevilled the British artillerymen in 1916: a lot of the balls shoot straight into the ground " in your article of 01/08/06. I believe Shrapnel projectiles had a timed fuse that ignited an explosive in the base and ejected the load of (lead) ball out the front of the projectiles. Timed airburst HE projectiles give a lot of fragments (or in common useage, shrapnel) of which some end up going straight down. The balls from the original shrapnel rounds would have had a forward and downward trajectory depending on the angle of descent of the shell, spin rate etc. I doubt whether they would have gone straight down though.

"Shrapnel balls were lead and the modern balls are likely steel and much smaller (and more numerous). When I was a kid in Petawawa we used to hunt though the churned up areas of the Mattawa Plains to find old, partially oxidized lead shrapnel balls. The difference between shrapnel and extremely sharp shell fragments was obvious. The smaller ball made perfect slingshot ammunition (as did 9mm bullets) while the larger ones were too big for kids' slingshots. I remember seeing a lot of rusty old shrapnel projectiles too, which were cylindrical with a closed base (where driving band was) and a frontal opening.

"I think virtually all rocket rounds nowadays and many artillery and mortar rounds are prefragmented in some way to provide clouds of high velocity, surprisingly small fragments which increase the hit probability. As you stated, the difference with Hezbollah and other terrorist groups is that they specifically target civilians with these weapons.

"Incidentally, here in Aussie, the common term for a handful of coins is 'shrapnel.'"

BruceR: To clarify, I was referring to the World War 1 shells used with an impact fuze, fired (somewhat ineffectively) in preparatory bombardments to shred barbed wire, not the same shrapnel shell with a time fuze, set to explode as an airburst, that was used extensively by Commonwealth armies in their barrage work and which Roger is referring to, above. Historians have argued that the British in the First World War had an inordinate fondness for shrapnel shells, out of proportion to their effectiveness: the most obvious indicator of this being the ubiquitous British flat Tommy's helmet, which is just great if the enemy is throwing airbursts at you, but not as good as the helmets of other nations against horizontal fire. Prior to the invention of the VT (proximity) fuze, setting a shell to explode in flight at the correct altitude required precise calculation and gunnery work. The Royal Artillery persisted in their reliance upon this technique long after other armies had reverted to the simpler (and cheaper) high explosive shell. I don't know, but I suspect Hezbollah rockets are impact fuzed.

Posted by BruceR at 04:29 PM