Now It Can Be Told

So for about two months now, I’ve been having to sit on the line up for Trouble In The Wind.  Behold, the magnificence of the headliners…

Trouble Ebook Cover Big Lineup

If someone had told me when this whole indie thing got started, “Hey, you know someday you’re going to be editing an alternate history anthology with S.M. Stirling in it?”, I would have advised them to lay off the peyote.  If they’d then added the rest of the names on that list?  Well, I would have slowly backed away while searching for a weapon to deal with the crazy person.

I’m astounded and stunned to be working with titans.  We won’t even get into Team “And More.”  December 13th is the expected release date, so buckle your chin straps.

 

Music Monday: A Classic Gets the Epic Treatment and Some News

It’s the third Monday, and you know what that means–SCORE DAY!

A big trend in trailer music lately has been to update classic, recognizable songs and give them the “Epic” treatment (i.e., soaring instrumentals and drum tracks).  If you can hear the “Trailer Voice” guy narrating your book trailer to one of these songs, that’s kind of the point.  😀

Speaking of climatic scenes, two bits of info.  First, just a reminder, To Slip the Surly Bonds dropped last Friday (print cover shown to cover the additional cover art awesomeness!):

Print Cover

It has been climbing the charts and was #1 on the Historical Fiction New Release Chart last night (Sunday 15 September 2019 in case you’re reading this much later).

ORANGE TAG

Second, I’ll be at the Cincinnati Comic Expo this week!  I will (thanks to the Amazon gnomes getting it done early) have print copies of To Slip the Surly Bonds as well as the first copies of Anita C. Young’s State of Mind artbook!  Stay tuned during the week for location and maps!

It’s Time to Get A Little Surly!

To Slip the Surly Bonds has gone live on Amazon.

Cover Art

This was a long time coming, but all the hard work has paid off.  There’s an exclusive Taylor Anderson short story in here, a whole bunch of award-winning authors, a story from your humble narrator involving P-38s on Guadalcanal…yeah, it’s worth the price of admission.

In addition, if your friends like Alternate History, I’m throwing Acts of War up on sale beginning on Saturday (14 SEP) in the US and Sunday (15 SEP) in the UK.

 

 

EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!

Sometimes old videos make a person look at things in different ways:

 

 

While I haven’t gotten there yet, this video does make me think differently about jet combat in the Usurper’s War universe.  Without giving away spoilers, there will be a pseudo-Cold War in the aftermath of the in universe World War II.  Technology and how it works will play a key part in what characters live and die.

 

Constant Scrutiny

So I forgot about this being mentioned in a panel while at Libertycon. Yes, as Cedar says, if you’re in a group that seems at all sketchy, get out most ricky tick. The ‘Zon has been really cracking down on trying to find people gaming their system. From all appearances they may be indeed using neutron bombs on snipers. This is also why your humble narrator doesn’t even joke about quid quo pro for reviews online. One can make their own decisions on whether that’s paranoid, but memory is a fickle thing.

Mad Genius Club

As I was chatting with a fellow author last night, the topic came up of Amazon and their predilection for pulling reviews they find suspicious, or suspending the accounts of authors they think may be gaming the system. It was something John van Stry had talked about on the trends in Indie Publishing panel he and I were on, along with Jim Curtis and Lawdog. (Great panel, I was listening more than talking, and we had almost two hours so we got into the meat of the matter).

The upshot of that conversation, and the more private one later, is that as authors we must avoid all appearance of evil.

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Shapes and Such

So while I’m busy editing To Slip the Surly Bonds‘ entries, here’s something else for your reading pleasure:

Shapes, Part I: The Shape of Airpower

Note that his opinions and experiences with naysaying the airframe reflect many of my own with regards to the F-35.  (Neither the author’s opinions nor mine reflect official DoD policy.  Nor do they mirror those of our respective services or the U.S. government.)

As I’ve mentioned before, very early on in the F-35’s development someone in the other services should’ve said, “Fine, let’s give the Marines’ their jump fighter (or seriously modify the AV-8), and everyone else who needs a power projection platform will take this in a different direction.”  For various reasons (to include the foolish belief that, after the Cold War, great power conflicts were a dead issue) this was not done–and now all the armed services have a fighter that is more F-105/F-111 than, say, F-16.  That’s…that’s not good, and I’m glad to see purchasing additional F-15 platforms is being vehemently discussed.  I’d prefer they were F-22s, but the Eagle‘s inherent growth abilities continue to provide dividends.

Big picture, it’s probably time to also consider augmenting our current heavy bomber fleet with something off the shelf.  How many cruise missiles can you fit into a Boeing 767?  I don’t know, but maybe that’s something Congress should direct the Air Force think about. 

 

At the Sharp End

This was the runner up for last week’s Memorial Day edition of Metal Monday.  Like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold has done a lot to support members of the Armed Forces by putting in their time with tours.  “Danger Line” is a pretty intense song about a soldier’s last moments and the chaos of combat, and I’ve used it as background for several scenes in Aries’ Red Sky.

The Strategic Bombing Campaign Part V: The North American Barndoors

This is a continuation of

Barndoors (a.k.a., Airframes)

As bad as the pilot differential was, Adolf Galland might have still been able to cobble together a defense even with tired airframes and exhausted pilots.  That is, Galland might have been able to do it if Germany’s numerous strategic miscues hadn’t come home to roost with a vengeance. coming home to roost with a vengeance.  This manifested first in   First, as can be imagined by the discussion about 10,000 biplanes, the Nazi leadership had been completely unable to fathom just how utterly pissed off the American people were in 1941 when Japan decided “Sunday Morning Banzai” was the best way to tag Uncle Sam into the conflict.  Perhaps because he’d seen Nazi Germany’s Byzantine, back-stabbing, barnyard fornication of an excuse for war production, Adolf Hitler had no idea what a shrewdly prepared industrial machine looked like.  If he had, the Fuhrer may not have considered President Roosevelt’s goal of 10,000 airplanes a month laugh-worthy propaganda.

Unfortunately for Adolf Galland in particular and Germany in general, President Roosevelt had been anything but joking when he’d demanded that number of his advisors.  While U.S. War Production in World War II would require a book (or two) in and of itself, let’s just say there are advantages to being able to literally turn on the lights and run things 24-7-365.  Things like straight up turning a car manufacturer into an airframe manufacturer that could churn out some of the most complicated machines of the period.  (This would be like Chrysler churning out B-1s now.)  Nor was Ford the only automotive concern that suddenly got into the airplane business, as General Motors also began turning out aircraft (albeit mostly naval airframes).  Backed by the United States’ populace’s willingness to sacrifice as well as America’s decision to replace drafted male workers with women, this intense focus on producing aircraft finally began to pay dividends in late 1943.

The above is not to suggest the above process was seamless.  The U.S. never quite sustained the “10,000 aircraft a month” goal with regards to combat airframes.  However, a simple statistic will tell the tale of just how utterly screwed the Germans were.  In 1943, the Germans produced a grand total of 10,898 fighters.  They would produce another 26,326 in 1944, with the majority of these being in the back half of the year once Albert Speer got some people’s minds right.  In contrast, the United States alone produced 23,988 and 38,873 fighters, then added an additional 29,355 and 35,003 bombers respectively.  Yes, not all those aircraft went to Europe (*cue video montage of Japanese pilot being tossed through the metaphorical frame with two black eyes and a bleeding nose* ).  However, there’s also that little matter of over 100,000 British and Soviet aircraft that aren’t in this discussion either yet were, like a bully’s associates, also keeping the pressure on the Jagdwaffe.  Overall, America was cooking on all industrial cylinders.

Almost as important as its ability to produce entire aircraft was America’s ability to produce ancillary equipment (drop tanks, oxygen tanks, machine guns, etc.) in huge numbers.  8th Air Force squadrons had plenty of spare parts up to and including entire end items.  Groups that returned with damaged aircraft usually had replacements on hand within 24-48 hours, with the original aircraft being sent to the depot for repair.  Tired airframes were either replaced by planes of the same type or, increasingly, newer models (e.g., P-47Ds with P-47D-25s).   Said newer models increasingly had improvements (e.g., illuminated gunsights, water injection, better propellers, power-boosted controls, etc.) that gave them marked advantages.

Given all these factors, it should be unsurprising that American squadrons, unlike their German counterparts, actually matched their paper strength.  As for the numbers of these squadrons, the 8th Air Force alone began fielding 2-3 times the squadrons of Jagdwaffe Gruppen stationed in the West.  Said German fighters also were forced to contend with, as mentioned above, the RAF and, beginning in May 1944, the 9th Air Force.

The second part of the airframe equation, and where this section gets its name from, was that German leadership could not conceive of the speed or breadth of Allied technical advances.  Allegedly, when told that the Americans were about to field a fighter that just might have the range to penetrate all the way to Berlin, famed aircraft designer Willi Messerschmitt allegedly replied, “That’s utter nonsense.  Such an aircraft would have to be big as a barn door.”  The legend goes on to say that Messerschmitt and Adolf Galland were at a test facility just west of Berlin in spring 1944.  Upon having a flight of P-51 Mustangs show up over a test field and proceed to shoot up the place, both men took shelter in a slit trench.  After a particular close strafing run,  Adolf Galland allegedly turned to Willi and sarcastically remarked, “Those are some particular fine barn doors over our heads.”

Whether or not this happened, the fact remains that the P-51 Mustang, while not the end all be all of piston fighters that it’s often portrayed as, was a prime example of Allied ingenuity.  Continuing on a theme, the Mustang is a book (or 20) in and of itself.  As this is a blog, I’ll just hit the highlights.  The P-51 started off as a British contract that became an American attack aircraft.  Destined for the dustbin of mediocrity, some North American Aircraft engineer basically said, “Hey, let’s put a Merlin engine in that thing.”  A ridiculously short amount of testing later, the Army Air Force realized if it put a pair of massive drop tanks on the airframe, the resultant fighter had extremely long range.  As in, enough range to escort B-17s to Berlin, fight German interceptors to a standstill, then return to England.

The Luftwaffe was suddenly in deep trouble.  Although both of its main fighters had little difficulty with the P-38 at altitude and could simply wait for the P-47 to run out of gas, the Mustang was an altogether different monster.  It was faster than most models of the Fw 190 and Me-109 at high altitude.  When one factored in the difference in industrial quality by this stage in the war (this discussion of engine manifold pressure tolerances is instructive) as well as the number of hours on German airframes, the differences became even more marked.  Its battery of 4 (later six) .50-caliber machine guns was lethal enough to see off both of its likely opponents.  While the Mustang‘s in-line engine was vulnerable to battle damage due to its glycol coolant, its airframe was strong enough to absorb a great deal of battle damage.

Rushing the P-51B into production, then to the 8th Air Force, the USAAF prepared itself to visit great violence upon the Luftwaffe in its lair.  The first encounters with P-51s in early 1944 were just a harbinger of things to come for the German fighter arm.

Notes: Featured image is from Piotr Forkasiewicz.  Please go check his amazing work out.  Sourcing is from the numerous books found in my historiographical paper.