Steampunk Tribune | March 31, 2012
Dieselpunks.org | March 31, 2012
The old April Fool is back, with another stack of shellac… and this month happens to be my page’s tenth anniversary on the web; having gone through several hosts, design changes, and other various types of hoo-hah. Where did the time go?
Dieselpunks.org | March 31, 2012
Probably world’s most advanced fighter in 1933, this diminutive monoplane still was a formidable opponent in 1941.
The Polikarpov I-16 is one of the most unsung aircraft in history, almost the Rodney Dangerfield of fighters, getting no respect from anyone – except its opponents. Created by designer Nikolai Nikolayevich Polikarpov, this classic airplane was a brilliant leap forward, particularly for a Soviet aviation industry that was still in its infancy. It was not only the first cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to see squadron service in any country in the world, it also was one of the longest-lived fighters of the period, serving until as late as 1950, in Spain.
Among Polikarpov’s many designs was the U-2 (later the Po-2), a remarkably simple but efficient two-place biplane that was built in greater quantity than any other aircraft in history, with some sources citing as many as 41,000 examples being delivered. He was also responsible for the I-15 and I-153 biplanes that formed the core of Soviet fighter strength for many years. These were remarkably adaptable designs, fully equivalent to the Boeing F4B-4 or Gloster Gauntlets of the time. Some were even used for wild experiments, including pressure cabin studies and ramjets – rather unusual for fabric-covered biplanes!
But it was the I-16 that would prove to be Polikarpov’s major contribution to aviation history. Design work began in early 1933, with the first flight taking place on December 31 of that year. Although somewhat difficult to fly, the I-16′s speed, high roll-rate, and rate of climb earned it production status. The aircraft was produced from 1934 through 1941, with 7,005 single-seaters and 1,639 two-seater UTI-1, -2 & -4 trainers built (some sources insist that a total number of airframes was higher, 10,292).
Like most Soviet aircraft of the period, the Polikarpov I-16 was of mixed construction, with a fabric-covered metal wing and a plywood-covered fuselage of steel-tube construction. Its unusual shape was inspired by the record-setting Gee-Bee R1 (and not by the P-26 Peashooter, as some good people tend to think).
Dieselpunks.org | March 30, 2012
A great little car for a lovely sunny day:
4CS was Maserati’s first sports car intended for the 1100cc class at the Mille Miglia. These little endurance racers were designed from the successful straight-eight grand prix cars which the Maserati brothers used to found their company. They continued the firm’s success by winning class victories at the Mille Miglia in 1932, 1934, 1935 and ’36.
What made the 4CS so potent was a near 100 bhp-per-liter engine with twin overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication and roots supercharger. The combination of this power with a slim, cycle fender body and drilled chassis made the 4CS attractive to private drivers and customers including Taruffi, Bianco and Scuderia Subalpina which were promised almost 95mph.
The first 4CS 1100 appeared as a prototype at the 1931 Mille Miglia and was initially named after its detachable cylinder head construction, or cilindi testa riportata (4CTR). Eventually, five cars would follow and adopt the 4CS moniker. The first of these was displayed with Brianza coachwork at the 1932 Milan Motor Show.
Never resting on a single engine or design, the Maserati Brothers produced a huge number of 4CS variants including the single seat 4CM for Vetturetta classes (above). Maserati also experimented with increasingly larger engines, the most immediate of which was the 4CS 1500 which shared its cylinder dimensions with the Grand Prix car and used a fixed-head design. Later designs included the 4CS 2000 (below) and 2500 with completed revised engine blocks.
Chassis no. 1124 – This car was delivered to Turin-based Scuderia Subalpina on March 15, 1935, a quasi-works-team associated with Maserati. It was one of three Mille Miglia sports cars ordered by this wealthy and well-connected racing team. The 1935 event saw Subalpina’s new 1124 being driven in the great race by either Gildo Strazza (racing number 20 or by Guido Romano (racing number 23). Of the two cars only Romano finished in a respectable 25th place overall.
The Chap | March 30, 2012
Tickets for this year’s annual sporting occasion for the overdressed have gone on sale. This is a significant year for the Chap Olympiad: after years of covertly observing our sporting spectacle, The British Olympic Committee has picked 2012 as the year to stage its copycat event, called simply “The Olympic Games”. Our response is simply [...]
Dieselpunks.org | March 29, 2012
Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.
Every once in a while, I run across an image so weird I would swear it was Photoshopped (even if the photo pre-dated Photoshop by about 85 years). Knowing that the early days of photography were full of pranksters, I looked into the history of the Lafayette Escadrille (pictured below).
As a squadron of the French Air Service during World War I composed largely of volunteer fighter pilots from America, you could say that these boys were literally looking for danger. Well, here they are assembled for a photograph outside their barracks at Chaudun, France being upstaged by their pet lion cubs, Whiskey and Soda.
Seated fourth from the left is the Escadrille’s French commanding officer, Captain Georges Thenault.
Raoul Lufbery, the unit’s top-ranking ace with 17 victories is seated fourth from the the right.
Dieselpunks.org | March 29, 2012
Joe Grasso of Grasso’s Magic Theatre
Big Daddy Cool and Tome WilsonI’ve driven by Grasso’s Magic Theatre in Philadelphia a dozen times. It’s hidden among unsuspecting buildings in an unexpected part of town, so it wasn’t until I was personally invited to an afternoon of jazz and magic that I was finally able to pull back the curtain. Located near Dave & Buster’s on the waterfront, Grasso’s is part magic shop, part theatre, and all heart.
Owned and operated by its namesake, Joe Grasso, the building was converted in 2001 from an industrial warehouse into a 1920s-style performance theatre for magic and illusionists. You could stop in for lessons on Wednesday, have your mind read on Friday, and stay up late for a little magic, booze, and burlesque on Saturday, and I guarantee you that you’ll never stop being amazed. The theatre spotlights the best magic Philadelphia has to offer, which shouldn’t be too surprising. The Grasso family has a history in the entertainment business and knows talent when they see it. Before getting into the theatre business, Joe worked for Miramax, and his son Michael Grasso was a finalist on America’s Got Talent thanks to an award-winning set of illusions.
This past weekend at the magic speakeasy, Grasso’s was hosting “Big Daddy Cool” Johnny Dellarocca. You might have heard the name from his Magic Talk website or from the new Diesel Powered Podcast, but in person Johnny is anything but talk. Maybe it’s the red pinstripes, but Johnny is a giant on stage.
Bigger than life, his show mixes a unique blend of swing-cat style with well-practiced stage illusions, turning what could have been the same old three-card shuffle into non-stop belly-laugh entertainment. Whatever tricks were up his sleeves, Johnny certainly made his own. With over twenty years of experience on his side, his latest act consists of prop-work, illusion, and mentalism peppered with slight-of-hand. What makes it unique — like a feather in a fedora — is Johnny’s swing-era spirit. His devotion reads like a love letter to the ‘30s, which makes him a perfect fit for Grasso’s speakeasy-style décor. If Big Daddy Cool and The Swing Kittens ever hit your town, I would certainly recommend it.
Dieselpunks.org | March 28, 2012
If you looked at their mustard yellow and vibrant blue pants and chest covered by polished steel breast plate, you would not think the Pontifical Swiss Guard were real soldiers tasked with protecting the Pope. In fact the Swiss Guard are members of the Swiss military, trained not only in ceremonial duties, but unarmed combat and small arms usage in the name of protecting Vatican City.
In today’s Swiss Guard armory you have modern SIG pistols and rifles that can be pressed into service to fend off any threat that makes it past the numerous other layers of traditional law enforcement security around the Vatican. Small arms are part of the inventory of Swiss Guard weapons, including a little known pistol that once served the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, as well as Nazi Germany.
The Dreyse M1907 is an odd looking medium sized semi-automatic pistol.Chambered in 7.65mm Browning (.32ACP) the direct-blowback pistol is more unusual design than necessarily in operation. The slide sits above the the barrel, with an offset long z-shape. To operate the pistol you insert a seven-round box magazine into the grip and grasp the front of the slide above the barrel. Pulling the slide to the rear exposes the lower rear of the offset z-shape. The slide rests inside two flanges above the pistol and recoils forward, stripping a fresh round.
When fired, the same series happens with direct impingement of the bullet case against the slide, ejecting to the right through a cut out in the frame flange.
Essentially a standard direct blowback pistol the Dreyse M1907 is definitely odd looking but effective pistol. It’s usefulness to armies was exemplified by its adoption with militaries during World War I and II. The simple design and method of operaiton made it reliable for field uses, while some of the Dreyse’s contemporaries were more fussy when exposed to mud and dirt.
Another distinction for the Dreyse M1907, in addition to the Swiss Guard use, it was the first semi-automatic pistol used by law enforcement in Europe
Steampunk Tribune | March 28, 2012
The Steampunk Librarian | March 27, 2012
The London Underground, home of a million stories, is turning 150 this season. Many events are underway, including steam engines!
And for the history buff, you can see photos and drawings at Network Rail’s virtual archive.
Meanwhile, over in America, dirigibles are taking over the Library of Congress! Watch the skies…or ceilings, as it may be.
Tjep makes, among other works of art, incredibly intricate clockwork jewelry.
Why did huge mechanical mosquitoes never lead us to the South Pole? Someone should go back in time and fix this sad non-development!
Dieselpunks.org | March 27, 2012
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!
Since hitting the airwaves in August 1930 as part of the “Detective Story” radio show, The Shadow has become one of the most beloved heroes in pulp history. On Two-Fisted Tuesdays, we’ll follow the adventures of The Shadow as he battles a rogues gallery of crooks and villains from around the world.
Click on the link below to download this old time radio broadcast in MP3 format.
This week’s episode is…
The Shadow – Caverns of Death starring Orson Welles (originally broadcast on September 11, 1938).