Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Rise and Fall of the Army Surplus Store

Brett and Kate McKay | October 11, 2016

vintage army surplus store 1950s kaufman surplus

You’ve probably been to an army surplus store.

They all look pretty much the same wherever you live. Surplus stores can be found in strip malls in the rough part of town or as stand-alone warehouse-style buildings with corrugated metal roofing and very few windows. They’re easy to miss while driving because they typically only announce themselves with a small yellow sign emblazoned with “Army Surplus” in black lettering.

When you walk in, your nose is met with that distinct army surplus smell: musty canvas mixed with metal and rubber. Flags hang from the ceiling — an American flag, flags from the different branches of the military, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Every conceivable space in the store is filled with product. You’ll see bins scattered throughout the floor filled with gas masks, canvas duffle bags, canteens, and nylon combat belts. Shelves are jam-packed with combat boots, cargo pants, and helmets. And the coat racks are stuffed with pea coats and camo as far as the eye can see. Inside the glass case of the front counter, you’re likely to find antique military items like Nazi paraphernalia, guns used during WWI, and a plethora of knives.

For decades, the army-navy surplus store was the go-to place for individuals looking to find a good deal on products to outfit themselves for camping or hunting, prepare for the apocalypse on the cheap, or simply pick up a stylish pea coat at a bargain price.

There was such a glut of military surplus clothing and gear in the United States during the 20th century you could practically throw a rock in any direction and hit an army surplus store. They were prolific and played a vital role in distributing an over-abundance of government-issued supplies that accumulated during the last century’s wars.

But if you’ve visited an army surplus store lately, you probably noticed they just aren’t what they used to be — that the quality and quantity of the selection of products isn’t the same.

What happened to the once venerable tradition of the army surplus store?

Today we’ll chart its rise and fall.

The Rise of the Army Surplus Store

The army-navy surplus store as we know it today got its start after the Civil War. Up until then, the U.S. government didn’t need to buy supplies in mass quantities for its troops, as it used a militia system for defense. Individual states and militia members themselves were responsible for getting outfitted for battle.

That changed with the War Between the States. War-making became more centralized and industrialized. Instead of relying on states and individuals to provide the gear needed to fight, both the Confederacy and the Union leveraged mass production to equip their troops (the latter having the industrial advantage in this area).

At the end of the war, there was a huge surplus of arms, uniforms, and horse tack sitting on shelves and in warehouses collecting dust. To recoup some of the costs of these leftovers, the U.S. government began auctioning off the supplies in bulk to civilians at heavily discounted prices. While small storeowners from around the country took advantage of these deals, one man in particular turned military surplus into a giant business empire, ultimately creating the business model of the army surplus store we recognize today. His name was Francis Bannerman.

The Bannerman Army-Navy Surplus Empire

Francis Bannerman was born in Scotland in 1851 but immigrated to New York with his family as a child. His father made a living selling goods acquired at auctions, and a young Francis often accompanied him to these sales where he’d pick up big lots of various knick-knacks himself, and then sell them in smaller lots to stores. It was the 19th-century version of eBay-esque arbitrage. On top of this little side hustle, Bannerman created a profitable business selling scrap metal and abandoned ships that he found in the harbor near Brooklyn, New York. All while he was still in primary school.

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, Francis (who, let’s keep in mind, was only 14 years old) used profits from his scrap metal business to acquire large lots of military surplus at government auctions. One particularly successful acquisition netted him over 11,000 captured Confederate guns. Because the teenage entrepreneur bought this gear at such heavily discounted prices, he was able to mark it up so the products remained a bargain for the customer, while still netting himself a nice profit.

bannerman's army navy surplus store new york city

Francis kept all his military surplus inventory in various places around New York City, but eventually consolidated it all in one store on Broadway in Manhattan: the world famous Bannerman’s Army & Navy Outfitters. Known simply as “Bannerman’s,” the store eventually grew to cover a block in length and seven floors in height, encompassing over 40,000 square feet of floor space. It also issued a 350+ page Sears-Roebuck-like catalog from which subscribers around the globe could mail-order horse saddles, swords, African spears, Civil War rifles, and even cannons if they fancied.

bannerman's army navy surplus catalog gatling guns cannons

Needed a Gatling gun by mail? Bannerman’s had you covered.

Explorers, military commanders, and adventurers of all kinds were some of Bannerman’s biggest clients. Admiral Matthew C. Perry and Frederick Cook outfitted their expeditions using Bannerman’s catalog. Mercenary soldiers fighting in the Spanish-American War and conflicts in the British empire would go to Bannerman’s to get the arms and gear they needed before heading to battlefields abroad.

In the latter quarter of the 19th century, Bannerman continued his prolific military surplus buying. The Spanish-American War was a particular boon to Bannerman’s business, as he won several bids on thousands of captured Spanish rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition, and ended up acquiring 90% of the war’s surplus.

Whenever the military switched to a new kind of uniform, weapon, or equipment, Bannerman was there to scoop up the discarded models and bring them back to NY. By 1900, he had run out of space in his colossal Army & Navy Outfitters store, and didn’t deem it safe to store his cache of thirty million surplus munitions cartridges in the city. So, he bought an island on the Hudson River upon which to build a large storage facility. Styled like a Scottish castle, the surplus warehouse was constructed out of cement (that he acquired at auction, of course) and was accompanied on the island by a residence for Bannerman and his family.

bannerman's army navy surplus store guns floor to ceiling

Bannerman’s stocked guns and swords from all different eras from floor to ceiling.

As global conflict increased in the early 20th century, Bannerman’s was there to supply the armies of nations around the world. For example, the Japanese military shopped at the surplus store to stockpile arms and munitions during the Russo-Japanese War. African and South American countries engaging in wars of independence were also big customers for Bannerman. When the United States found itself in WWI and short of supplies, he gave the military the guns and munitions needed to help bootstrap the war effort.

After Bannerman died in 1918, his surplus empire began to crumble, both literally and figuratively. Huge piles and stacks of firearms, bullets, artillery shells, swords, and uniforms began to molder and gather dust in his Manhattan store and island arsenal. The cache was not only disorganized, but dangerous; in 1920, 200 tons of shells and powder exploded inside a building on the island’s storage complex.

While his family continued the Bannerman business, mail-order and retail sales began to dwindle in the 1930s. Unlike the Civil War, there wasn’t much military surplus after WWI, due to the United States’ comparatively limited, short-term involvement in the conflict. So Bannerman’s was relegated to continuing to primarily sell their 19th-century wares, for which there was naturally diminishing demand.

What’s more, federal and state firearms acts passed in the 1930s prevented Bannerman’s from selling military weapons to civilians, as well as to foreign countries. Consequently, the enormous arsenal of weaponry Francis Bannerman had accumulated during his lifetime became useless.

bannerman's castle island storage army navy surplus store

In its heyday, this wall of the Bannerman castle served as a billboard to those passing by boat and train. After decades of fire, collapse, and neglect, only the exterior of the castle remains today. Image from Sometimes Interesting.

While Bannerman’s family continued to use and periodically visit their island, it was all but abandoned in 1950 when the only ferry which serviced its shores sunk in a storm. Interest in the business waned at the same time. None of Bannerman’s descendants wanted to continue running the Broadway store, so the decision was made in 1959 to sell the famous institution and move the remaining inventory to a warehouse on Long Island where it was still sold through the catalog. By the 1970s, even Bannerman’s catalog sales ceased.

The Golden Age of Army Surplus Stores

vintage army navy surplus store sign

While Bannerman’s Army & Navy Outfitters faded into obscurity, it provided the blueprint for the thriving military surplus industry that sprung up after World War II. Rationing on the home front and the enormous amount of excess government-issued equipment produced by America’s “arsenal of democracy” combined to explode the growth and popularity of surplus stores in the aftermath of the Big One; huge amounts of wartime leftovers flooded the market, and after years of deprivation the public was eager to get its hands on it.

vintage army navy surplus ad advertisement kids gas mask

Like Bannerman’s, surplus stores after WWII not only offered products through brick and mortar stores but by mail-order as well. Even a jeep. Surplus companies often placed ads in boys’ magazines; young men, who idolized returning GIs, prized anything and everything they had used — even gas masks, which were marketed as “A sensational toy value” and “Loads of fun and useful, too.”

Enterprising businessmen from around the country followed the example Bannerman set after the Civil War by buying massive lots of the surplus military gear that existed in the aftermath of WWII. At a single auction, a buyer could get all the inventory he needed to outfit an entire army surplus store. There was so much stuff — uniforms, canteens, flashlights, radios, even jeeps — that it would take years for the U.S. government to dole it out to these middlemen, and even decades before these buyers could sell it off in their shops.

vintage 1950s 1960s army navy surplus store

Thanks to the United States’ significant involvement in the Vietnam War, army surplus stores were able to restock their dwindling WWII inventory with updated military surplus. If you visited a surplus store as a kid in the 1980s or early ‘90s, a lot of the stuff you saw was probably from Vietnam.

While no single establishment was able to duplicate the enormity of Bannerman’s Army & Navy Outfitters, the period from after WWII and until the early 1990s could be considered the “Golden Age of Army Surplus Stores.” There was just so much stuff available, and it was so widely dispersed and easily accessible to the public. Instead of ordering something from a catalog, you just had to drive a few miles to one of the many surplus stores in your city.

But just as Bannerman’s military surplus business slowly faded away due to changing circumstances, so too has the large and thriving army surplus industry that existed in America for half a century. How that decline happened, we turn to next.

The Fall of the Army Surplus Store

Army surplus stores still exist. You probably have one in your city. But it’s probably not the same kind of army surplus store you may have visited back when you were a kid. If you’ve been to one recently, you likely noticed that fewer of the products they carried were actually “military surplus.” Sure, the stuff might look military-ish, but it was likely bought from a foreign company that manufactures military-ish products instead of from the U.S government, or even a foreign government. You’ll also see product in the store that you probably wouldn’t consider “military surplus” like work pants and shirts, consumer camping gear, etc. Basically, in today’s army surplus stores there’s less army surplus.

Two big factors are contributing to the decline of true military surplus products in the marketplace: the changing nature of war in the late 20th century and online shopping.

War has changed dramatically since Vietnam. Instead of engaging in large-scale conflicts that require a draft and many millions of boots on the ground, the U.S. military has shifted to a much more streamlined and surgical approach to battle — one that involves a smaller, all-volunteer force. For example, there were over 10 million American soldiers who served in Vietnam, while only 2.5 million served in the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because our most recent conflicts have required fewer soldiers, the military has required less equipment. Because the army requires less equipment, there’s less military surplus to go around to all the army surplus stores around the country.

Compounding the shortage due to smaller, more limited military engagements is that — thanks to the internet — army surplus stores now have to compete with the government itself in selling surplus military inventory. The U.S. government has an online store where the public can buy military surplus direct, thus cutting out the army surplus middleman and saving the buyer some money. Thanks to competition from the government’s direct-to-consumer sales, army surplus storeowners have had to slash retail markups on their products from a stellar 100% to a ho-hum 30-50%.

Because of these two changes — streamlined wars and the internet — the once robust army surplus store industry has taken a hit. There’s just less inventory to go around, and less money to be made in the business.

To keep shelves stocked with military goods, even though there’s less government-issued military surplus available, stores have taken to importing military surplus “knockoff” products — stuff that looks like military surplus, but really isn’t. While these imported knockoffs have helped surplus stores stay alive, as Dr. Frank Arian, owner of Surplus Today, notes, this increase of imported military surplus knockoffs has hurt the brand cache of army-navy stores: “Imports have negatively affected business by diluting, to a large degree, the very foundation upon which these stores were built: genuine government military surplus. Imports are not government, not military and not surplus. Can you still call a store ‘surplus’ if it has 85% imported copies?”

Like any other industry that’s been disrupted, army surplus stores have made innovations to keep themselves afloat. For example, some stores have become airsoft gun dealers and even have airsoft courses inside or near their facilities. This business move has worked well for many of the stores who’ve done it. Diehard airsoft competitors can pick up a new gun and extra pellets while picking up cargo pants, gloves, and camo for their next competition too.

Other surplus stores have taken to offering various classes in their stores like wilderness or urban survival. These classes provide two sources of revenue. First, there’s the income from the class itself. Second is the revenue that comes from people buying stuff in the store when the classes are held.

Still other stores have shifted their focus from being military surplus dealers to antique military dealers. 20th-century military gear — once considered ordinary surplus — is now considered “vintage,” and collectors are willing to pay top dollar for these antiques. Army surplus stores that have been in business for awhile have used their networks developed over the years to become savvy peddlers of 20th-century military collectibles.

Stores that have made changes like these will likely survive and even thrive in today’s market; the stores that don’t, won’t. Army surplus stores will probably be with us for decades to come. They just won’t look like your grandpa’s surplus store, though they might still smell like it.

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Stonehenge’s sun-disc revealed: Rare 4,500-year-old gold decoration found in grave near sacred site goes on display

  • The 4,500 year old thin disc of gold is decorated with a cross and circle
  • It is one of just six sun-discs to have been found in Britain and may have belonged to a chieftain of a tribe living in the area around Stonehenge 
  • The golden disc is one of the earliest known pieces of metalwork in Britain
  •  It was found in a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh in Wiltshire in 1947

One of the earliest known pieces of metalwork in Britain, found just a few miles from Stonehenge, has gone on display to the public for the first time.

The gold sun-disc, which was forged around 4,500 years ago at around the same time the main circle of Stonehenge was erected, was discovered in the Bronze Age burial mound of a local chieftain.

Thought to represent the sun, the thin sheet of embossed gold features a cross at the centre surrounded by a circle. Each is decorated with dots that glint in the sunlight.

This sun-disk is made from a thin sheet of gold that has had the design of a cross and circle beaten into it. The indentations decorating each are thought to be intended to catch the sunlight. It is one of only six sun-disks to have been found in Britain and has now gone on display to the public for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum

This sun-disk is made from a thin sheet of gold that has had the design of a cross and circle beaten into it. The indentations decorating each are thought to be intended to catch the sunlight. It is one of only six sun-disks to have been found in Britain and has now gone on display to the public for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum

The disc, which is one of only six sun disc found in Britain, may have once formed part of a headdress or garment.

Experts believe the disc, which is around two inches (5cm) wide, may have been made with gold imported to England from Ireland, where there is evidence that gold was being mined at the time.

However, new research has raised the prospect that it could be made of Cornish gold as rich deposits in the area were being exported to Ireland and elsewhere at the time.

THE ORIGINS OF STONEHENGE

No one is exactly sure why – or how – Stonehenge was built more than 4,000 years ago.

Experts have suggested it was a temple, parliament and a graveyard.

Some people think the stones have healing powers, while others think they have musical properties when struck with a stone.

They could have acted as a giant musical instrument to call ancient people to the monument.

What is clear, is that the stones were aligned with phases of the sun.

People were buried there and skeletal evidence shows that people travelled hundreds of miles to visit Stonehenge – for whatever reason.

Experts think that the route was a busy one and that Stonehenge could be viewed differently from different positions.

It seems that instead of being a complete barrier, the Curcus acted as a gateway to guide visitors to the stone circle.

The mysterious sun-disc, which was discovered alongside the remains of a skeleton of an adult male at a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh in 1947 , is now on public display for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire to mark the summer solstice.

David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Museum, said: ‘This is an incredibly important object as it was one of the earliest pieces of metal to appear in Britain.

‘Gold is precious to us, but to people at the time they had not seen metal at all and it would have been completely new and something far out of their experience.

‘We think it was owned by a local chieftain and was buried with him when he died. His family clearly valued it enough to put it into his grave so he could carry it with him to the afterlife.’

The discovery of the sun-disc in the grave at Monkton Farleigh has helped to shed light not only on the wealth of people living at the time but also their relationship with death.

Sun worship is thought to have been common in the early bronze age and the highly reflective golden metal disk would have had special significance in that culture.

Stonehenge has long been associated with the sun as many of the stones appear to be aligned with phases of the sun.

Thousands of people still descend on the ancient monument each year to watch the sun rise on the summer solstice.

At the time when the sun-disc found at Monkton Farleigh was made, the sarsen stones at Stonehenge had just been erected.

The golden disk was found in an early Bronze Age burial mound in Monkton Farleigh around 20 miles from the famous stone circle of Stonehenge. It is thought the disk was intended to represent the sun, while the stones at Stonehenge also appear to have been aligned to catch the position of the sun at different times of the year

The golden disk was found in an early Bronze Age burial mound in Monkton Farleigh around 20 miles from the famous stone circle of Stonehenge. It is thought the disk was intended to represent the sun, while the stones at Stonehenge also appear to have been aligned to catch the position of the sun at different times of the year

The sun-disk was found in a burial mound along with the remains of an early Bronze Age chieftain. A pottery beaker and flint arrowheads were also found in the grave. The drawing above is from a similar burial discovered from the same period. The body was placed in a fetal position to perhaps signify life after death

The sun-disk was found in a burial mound along with the remains of an early Bronze Age chieftain. A pottery beaker and flint arrowheads were also found in the grave. The drawing above is from a similar burial discovered from the same period. The body was placed in a fetal position to perhaps signify life after death.

The disc itself has two small holes that appear to have been used to attach it to a piece of clothing or headdress.

The skeleton was found buried with a pottery beaker, which may have been used to hold wine and flint arrowheads.

The rare sun-disk is just a couple of inches across and is thought to have been worn on a headdress or attached to clothing with holes in the middle

The rare sun-disk is just a couple of inches across and is thought to have been worn on a headdress or attached to clothing with holes in the middle

It points to burial practices that believed in life after death or perhaps even resurrection, and burying a relative with personal and valuable items would have allowed carry them with them.

Just six sun-discs have been found in Britain and appear to have been made by beating gold into thin shapes that were decorated with repoussé (hammered) motifs.

It was thought that gold created in the early Bronze Age arrived in Britain from Ireland where more sun-discs have been discovered.

However, a new scientific technique developed by archaeologists at the University of Southampton and University of Bristol has revealed that not all gold in Ireland came from the country.

While the gold in the north and west of Ireland appears to have been local, gold from the south of the country came from Cornwall. It suggests people living around 2,500BC had a rich trade in gold.

The researchers believe that the flow of gold from Cornwall to Ireland may be a sign that people in Britain attached little significance to the valuable metal.

Dr Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton who took part in the study, said: ‘The results of this study are a fascinating finding.

‘They show that there was no universal value of gold, at least until perhaps the first gold coins started to appear nearly two thousand years later.

‘Prehistoric economies were driven by factors more complex than the trade of commodities – belief systems clearly played a major role.’

Mr Dawson said he hoped the new techniques could help to unravel the origins of the Monkton Farleigh disc.

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January 21, 2017 · 7:02 pm

23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare

Ranker Video
There are two basic ways to look at banning weapons in war. The first, humanitarian view is that that war should be as “humane” as possible, limiting death only to intended targets, and delivered as quickly and painlessly as possible. With, of course, the possibility of rescue or recovery. Weapons banned in war inflict undue destruction on civilians.

The second view on illegal war weapons could be called the “Lee Perspective,” so named for the Civil War general who said “It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.” Since the Hague and Geneva conventions, we seem to have grown quite fond of war. The Sherman Argument would have it that putting rules on war turns it into a sport, instead of something to be avoided at all costs.

But no matter which side of that you come down on, the modern war does indeed have its rules. These are the nastiest, most horrible instruments of death and suffering that you won’t see on today’s battlefield – including a good number that might surprise you. These are the weapons that are not allowed, even in war.
List Photo: via Wikimedia Commons/Public domainCollection Photo:  uploaded by Richard Rowe

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  1. 1

    Mustard Gas

    Mustard Gas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: KurtClark/Flickr
    The terror of the trenches in World War I, mustard gas gets its name from its yellow-brown color and its odor, which is apparently similar to horseradish. Because it’s heavier than air, mustard gas proved particularly effective in clearing trenches, and was almost single-handedly responsible for the 1928 Geneva Conventions. When inhaled, the gas causes the lungs to fill with fluid, essentially drowning the victim in their own fluids. If they were hit with a bomb filled with mustard gas or dosed from the air soldiers were told to pee into their handkerchiefs and breath through those until they could escape or the gas dissipated.
  2. 2

    Nerve Gas

    Nerve Gas is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: trader806/via ebay.com
    Nerve gases of all kinds have been systematically outlawed by both the Hague and Geneva from 1899 all the way up to 1993. All nerve agents (like Sarin, VX, Tabun, and Soman) work in the same basic way: By blocking blocking the enzyme that normally destroys a very important neurotransmitter. Basically, nerve agents cause your entire nervous system to malfunction, like an electrical system full of short circuits. Death generally comes as a result of a shutdown of the respiratory system, but not before painful blisters, boils, and internal hemmorrhaging occur. 
  3. 3

    Phosgene Gas

    Phosgene Gas is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: By Halsey, Francis Whiting/via Wikimedia Commons/Public domain
    While mustard gas might have gotten all the press, phosgene was actually responsible for about 85% of all chemical weapons deaths in World War I. Simple and cheap to produce in large quantities, phosgene damages the proteins in the lungs, causing them to break down, meaning the lungs stop exchanging oxygen. It’s a particularly insidious gas, since it’s colorless, almost odorless, and symptoms can take a long time to show up. Japan continued to use phosgene well into WWII on at least 375 separate occasions, generally against the Chinese.
  4. 4

    Tear Gas

    Tear Gas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: RevolutionBahrain/via Youtube.com
    Believe it or not, the tear gas that police routinely shoot into crowds in America is technically outlawed for use in war by the Hague Convention. Even though it’s generally non-lethal, tear gas is still an inhalant chemical weapon that obstructs breathing, that puts it in the same legal class as mustard gas. For more info on the lethality you should check into some of the Russian Special Ops tactics when dealing with terrorists… So: legal to shoot at protesters in Missouri, but not legal to drop on a machine gun nest in Afghanistan. Go figure.
  5. 5

    Pepper Spray

    Pepper Spray is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Mace/via MidwayUSA
    Same story as tear gas. Technically, pepper spray is an aerosol chemical weapon that disrupts breathing, which is outlawed by the Hague Convention.
  6. 6

    Plastic Landmines

    Plastic Landmines is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Timo Luege/Flickr
    According to Protocol I of the 1979 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, weapons that use non-metallic fragments not detectable by X-Ray are prohibited in war. The rationale is pretty obvious, since field surgeons can’t remove fragments they can’t locate within an injured body. This doesn’t prohibit the use of plastic and undetectable materials in weapon design, it just means that weapons can’t be designed to use undetectable fragments as a primary damage device.
  7. 7

    Spike Pits

    Spike Pits is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: -JvL-/via Flickr
    These old fashioned death traps are technically prohibited or regulated by Protocol II of the 1979 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Pits with sharpened bamboo spikes maimed thousands of soldiers in Vietnam and in the Pacific during WWII. Adding insult to injury, the Vietcong and Japanese would routinely roll those spikes in human or animal feces first, causing secondary infections after even the smallest scratch. That, in itself, is a direct violation of the 1907 Hague convention on biological weapons and might even violate the 1675 Strasbourg Agreement. Suffice it to say it violates a lot of conventions, agreements and accords. Still fun to upercut your opponent into in Mortal Kombat though…
  8. 8

    Bio-Weapons

    Bio-Weapons is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Public Health Image Library (PHIL)/via cdc.gov
    Believe it or not, bio-weapons are some of the oldest terror weapons known to man. They date back to at least the days of the Mongols, who would catapult rotting, infected bodies over castle walls in order to spread disease and sickness. It’s also been suggested that the Black Plague, spread by fleas on the back of rats, and originating from Asia, was the lingering result of a primitive bio-terrorism attack from centuries before.
  9. 9

    Flamethrowers

    Flamethrowers is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Passive Man/Flickr
    According to Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, flamethrowers aren’t explicitly forbidden on the battlefield, provided the battlefield is nowhere near civilians. Mostly, this protocol refers to incendiary devices in and around civilian areas. It doesn’t necessarily prohibit the use of flamethrowers in, say, an open tank battle or clearing caves in Afghanistan. But most guerrilla fighters hide behind or within civilian areas. If they’re using human shields or might have captives flamethrowers are a no-go. They are also incredibly easy to improvise. Basically any controlled release of accelerant + fire is a flamethrower by definition.
  10. 10

    Napalm

    Napalm is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Official USMC photo by LCpl Andrew Pendracki/via Wikimedia Commons/Public domain
    You might love the smell of napalm in the morning, but the same Protocol III (passed after Vietnam) that restricts the use of flamethrowers also limits the use of napalm. It can’t be used anywhere near civilian targets, nor can it be used to burn down forests unless the trees are being used to conceal military combatants or vehicles. So, napalm isn’t banned, exactly, but more often than not, it can’t be used on today’s battlefields.
  11. 11

    Blinding Laser Beams

    Blinding Laser Beams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: JETLASERS/via DIYTrade
    This might sound like one of those sci-fi things that would never happen, but the technology’s been around for 40 years. “Blinding” laser beams don’t refer to the laser “dazzlers” that police and special ops teams use; those are low-powered beams that aren’t designed to cause permanent blindness. This ban refers to lasers powerful enough to cause permanent blindness, which is amazingly easy to do, as most juvenile delinquents with laser pointers have been warned. The prohibition against deliberately blinding weapons goes way back to some of the first weapons bans passed in the 19th century.
  12. 12

    Microwave Lasers (Limitation)

    Microwave Lasers (Limitation) is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Elbit Systems/via YouTube.com
    Yes, laser cannons are a real thing, and they’ve been around for quite some time now. Today, the Air Force uses massively powerful laser cannons mounted to aircraft and battleships, which can use them to shoot down incoming missiles from up to 250 miles away. Hypothetically, they could be mounted to tanks and used to incinerate human targets on the ground – but such use of directed energy weapons is currently forbidden, in large part because too low a dose from too great a distance might not kill the target so much as cook their eyes, which would be a violation on the ban against blinding lasers.
  13. 13

    Phasers (Set on Kill)

    Phasers (Set on Kill) is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Desilu Productions
    There are all kinds of directed energy weapons on the table, from “death ray” lasers to sonic cannons to real life plasma rifles. However, as of right now, directed energy weapons with enough power to kill human targets are forbidden in war. This doesn’t apply to de-powered non-lethal microwave emitters like the Active Denial System currently in use. ADS puts out enough energy to cause an intense sensation of heat on a large crowd, but it’s not enough to cause actual burning. The sensation has been compared to standing a few feet away from a large oven with the door open. It is possible to set the ADS on “kill,” but that is illegal for the time being.
  14. 14

    Non-Self-Destructing Landmines

    Non-Self-Destructing Landmines is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: United Nations Photo/Flickr
    Since the Vietnam war, decades-old unexploded landmines have been a deadly menace in Southeast Asia. Cambodia has one of the highest rates of amputees in the world, as some 40,000 in its population have stepped on land mines planted during the Cambodian Civil War in 1970. In 2013 alone, some 111 people were killed by land mines buried more than 40 years before. For that reason, as of 1980, mines placed outside of fenced and cordoned areas must use some sort of self de-arming device or self-destruct mechanism set to go off after a certain period of time. Standard land mines may still be used, but can only be employed inside of fenced-in areas, away from civilian populations, and must be removed or destroyed when the conflict ends.
  15. 15

    Poisoned Bullets

    Poisoned Bullets is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: National Library of Scotland/Flickr
    The world’s oldest known arms agreement, the Strasbourg Agreement of 1675, explicitly outlawed the use of poisoned bullets. The first guns used in warfare weren’t terribly accurate, so soldiers would often supplement the lack of accuracy by soaking their bullets in some kind of poisonous or infectious substance. It was not unheard of for legions of soldiers to stow their bullet caches inside rotting corpses, though the bottom of a latrine pit worked just as well. When France and the Holy Roman Empire went to war, they initially experienced a massive wave of casualties not from gunshot wounds, but from subsequent infection. More than 250 years would pass before Geneva once again addressed chemical and biological weapons.
  16. 16

    Hollow-Point Bullets

    Hollow-Point Bullets is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: mr.smashy/Flickr
    Hollow-point bullets (aka “expanding ordinance”) were explicitly outlawed for use in international warfare by the Hague Convention of 1899, which was, in fact, only a continuation of the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868. This declaration forbade the use of exploding or expanding projectiles of less than 400 grams, which drew a clear line between “bullets” and “artillery shells.” The concept behind the ban was to avoid using bullets that “made death inevitable.” Which, some might say, is the whole point of shooting someone in the first place.
  17. 17

    Balloon Bombs

    Balloon Bombs is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: SMU Central University Libraries/Flickr
    Yes, you’re reading that correctly – according to the 1898 Hague Convention, it is against international law to drop bombs from balloons. Originally proposed in 1898, the prohibition against the “the discharge of any kind of projectile or explosive from balloons or by similar means” went into effect at the 1907 Peace Conference as a probationary measure to be resolved during the third conference.

    However, the third Hague peace conference never met, because of a slight case of world war. Japan famously sent scores of balloon bombs to the American Pacific Coast during WWII, with the purpose of causing forest fires. While most landed harmlessly, one did cause casualties – a balloon that landed in a forest near Bly, Oregon, that exploded and killed a Sunday school teacher and five children. The practice of shooting a rifle or dropping a bomb from a balloon is still technically forbidden to this day. 

  18. 18

    Dirty Bombs

    Dirty Bombs is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Al_HikesAZ/Flickr
    Bombs laced with radioactive material are forbidden under international law, though most countries wouldn’t bother with them anyway. The point of a dirty bomb is to irradiate an area and make it uninhabitable — which means that the “winner” of the war can’t go there either. That aside, the amount of radioactive material necessary to make a dirty bomb effective could just as easily be used to build a full-on nuclear bomb.
  19. 19

    Salted Bombs

    Salted Bombs is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Belinda (miscdebris)/Flickr
    Salted bombs are very similar in concept to dirty bombs, but are true nuclear weapons created specifically for the purpose of shorter-term area denial. A “salted” nuke contains an isotope of another substance like cobalt, gold, zinc, or sodium. During a nuclear blast, these elements become a huge cloud of fallout. These types of weapons are the same type used in the Soviet “Doomsday Device” from Dr. Strangelove. Small, one kiloton salted nukes could be used tactically and made so that the radioactive fallout decayed in a year or two, thus denying large swaths of land to enemy forces for a time. But radiation is invisible, and these weapons are generally prohibited because of their potential lethality to civilians.
  20. 20

    Locusts, Fleas and Rats

    Locusts, Fleas and Rats is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Sergey Yeliseev/Flickr
    Don’t laugh too hard – it’s been done, and to sometimes devastating effect. The Black Plague is theorized by some to be the result of a lingering bio-terror attack from Asia. Today, using hordes or plagues of animals carrying disease in war would be completely illegal.
  21. 21

    Bat Bombs

    Bat Bombs is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Jesse Lenz/via jesselenz.com
    In the second world war, Americans experimented with a secret weapon designed to decimate Japanese cities. At the time, most of Japan’s cities were made of wood and paper. The idea was to release a bomb filled with sleeping bats (captured from caves in New Mexico), wearing collars containing a napalm-like incendiary. Upon release at dawn, the bats would disperse and roost under the eaves of Japanese homes up to 40 miles away. The project, code-named “X-Ray,” was tested in 1944, but the war effectively ended with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    It might sound funny today, but testing showed these unusual weapons to be tremendously effective…some say even more so than the A-Bomb. Today, bat bombs would certainly be prohibited under Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

  22. 22

    Unexploded Bombs

    Unexploded Bombs is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: By No machine-readable author provided. Lamiot assumed/via Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0
    Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of “explosive remnants of war,” such as unexploded bombs and artillery shells. This protocol came about in the 1990s, when the newest crop of Middle Eastern jihadis began assembling roadside bombs from unexploded Soviet ordinance from the Afghanistan conflict. IEDs are remain a source of terror in that part of the world.
  23. 23

    Smallpox Blankets

    Smallpox Blankets is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list 23 Weapons That Are Banned in Warfare
    Photo: Terry R. Peters/via nativeweb.org
    While America in general has avoided the use of biological and chemical weapons, many historians agree that we did make at least one attempt at genocide through bio-weaponry. America’s “manifest destiny” meant getting rid of the original inhabitants of the continent. Many were killed by bullets and blades, but far more were wiped out as a result of diseases introduced by Europeans. Coming from a center of worldwide trade, Europeans developed at least partial immunity to many diseases, while themselves remaining carriers. Where Europeans went, plague almost always followed, helping to exterminate native populations and assisting in conquest.

    While such bio-terrorism was often unintentional, history has recorded a few instances where it was deliberately used as a weapon of war. Especially after we started to understand the nature of germs and disease. This quote from Commander Jeffrey Amherst (1717 to 1797) pretty much sums it up: “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians, by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”

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Archaeologists Discover Remains of Egyptian Army From the Biblical Exodus in Red Sea

Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced this morning that a team of underwater archaeologists had discovered that remains of a large Egyptian army from the 14th century BC, at the bottom of the Gulf of Suez, 1.5 kilometers offshore from the modern city of Ras Gharib. The team was searching for the remains of ancient ships and artifacts related to Stone Age and Bronze Age trade in the Red Sea area, when they stumbled upon a gigantic mass of human bones darkened by age.

Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced this morning that a team of underwater archaeologists had discovered that remains of a large Egyptian army from the 14th century BC, at the bottom of the Gulf of Suez, 1.5 kilometers offshore from the modern city of Ras Gharib. The team was searching for the remains of ancient ships and artifacts related to Stone Age and Bronze Age trade in the Red Sea area, when they stumbled upon a gigantic mass of human bones darkened by age.

The scientists lead by Professor Abdel Muhammad Gader and associated with Cairo University’s Faculty of Archaeology, have already recovered a total of more than 400 different skeletons, as well as hundreds of weapons and pieces of armor, also the remains of two war chariots, scattered over an area of approximately 200 square meters. They estimate that more than 5000 other bodies could be dispersed over a wider area, suggesting that an army of large size who have perished on the site.

This magnificient blade from an egyptian khopesh, was certainly the weapon of an important character. It was discovered near the remains of a richly decorated war chariot, suggesting it could have belonged to a prince or nobleman.

Many clues on the site have brought Professor Gader and his team to conclude that the bodies could be linked to the famous episode of the Exodus. First of all, the ancient soldiers seem to have died on dry ground, since no traces of boats or ships have been found in the area. The positions of the bodies and the fact that they were stuck in a vast quantity of clay and rock, implie that they could have died in a mudslide or a tidal wave.

The shear number of bodies suggests that a large ancient army perished on the site and the dramatic way by which they were killed, both seem to corroborate the biblical version of the Red Sea Crossing, when the army of the Egyptian Pharaoh was destroyed by the returning waters that Moses had parted. This new find certainly proves that there was indeed an Egyptian army of large size that was destroyed by the waters of the Red Sea during the reign of King Akhenaten.

For centuries, the famous biblical account of the “Red Sea Crossing” was dismissed by most scholars and historians as more symbolic than historical.

This astounding discovery brings undeniable scientific proof that one the most famous episodes of the Old Testament was indeed, based on an historical event. It brings a brand new perspective on a story that many historians have been considering for years as a work of fiction, and suggesting that other themes like the “Plagues of Egypt” could indeed have an historical base.

A lot more research and many more recovery operations are to be expected on the site over the next few years, as Professor Gader and his team have already announced their desire to retrieve the rest of the bodies and artifacts from was has turned out to be one of the richest archaeological underwater sites ever discovered ( via worldnewsdailyreport.com ).

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Cosplay Pictures to Enjoy!

Cosplayers and their cosplay for your enjoyment.

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Rare Historical Photos [18 Pics]

Oct292012

Another roundup of the popular historical series of posts that we do. You can find the previous post here, and the start of the series here.

Franz Ferdinand with his wife

Archduke Franz Ferdinand with his wife on the day they were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (June 28, 1914). These assassinations were a contributing factor to the start of World War I.

Hilary and Bill Clinton

Bill (Clinton) & Hillary playing volleyball in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. 1975.

Armenia 1990 106 year old woman protects home

106-year old Armenian woman protecting her home with an AK-47. 1990.

Machu Picchu discovery

The first photo upon discovery of Machu Picchu, 1912.

B36 accident on Carswell AFB

A tornado that hit Carswell AFB on Sept 1, 1952 caused massive damage to most of the B-36 fleet.

Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein at the Bohr-Einstein debates over quantum mechanics.

Barrell roll in a boeing 707

Boing 707 doing a barrel roll. When the test pilot Tex Johnson was questioned about the stunt, he simply replied by saying – “Just selling airplanes”.

Johnny Cash Performing for prisoners

Johnny Cash performing for prisoners at Folsom Prison. January 13, 1968.

Ho 229 Nazi Germanys Flying Wing

Horten H. VII (Ho 254) flying over Göttingen, Germany. It was one of the first flying wing experiments. ~1945.

Star Wars lunch time

Star Wars set at lunchtime.

Howard Hughes in the Spruce Goose

Howard Hughes inside of the H-4 Hercules, more widely known as the “Spruce Goose”. At the time, it was the largest airplane ever created. Photo: LIFE.

Launch pads cape canaveral

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The North view of the missile launch pads. ~1960.

Time Square approx. 1911

Times Square in New York, 1911.

Mississippi Steamboats

Steamboats in the Mississippi river, 1907. Photo: shorpy.

Train derailement at Gare Montparnasse

Train Derailment at Gare Montparnasse, Paris, France. 1895.

Twin tires for cars

An old advertisement of ‘twin tires’. Pretty interesting concept.

Windows 95 Launch

Release of Windows 95.

The Beatles and Muhammad Ali

The Beatles meet Muhammad Ali.

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