Lord K’s Garage #176: Silver Arrows (III)

| March 22, 2013

Another page of the Mercedes-Benz racecar saga: the W154:

Shortly after the first races were held organizers created rules and regulations to create a somewhat level playing field and to keep things relatively safe. In that light the rules setup for Grand Prix racing from 1934 to 1936 made little sense. The main element was a maximum weight of 750 kg, leaving the rest to the imagination of the very talented designers. Not surprisingly this lead to hugely powerful engines bolted on flimsy frames; very unsafe by any measure. To add insult to injury the manufacturers could not agree on new regulations for 1937 so the madness continued for another season. Mercedes-Benz dominated that year with the W125, which featured a 592 bhp engine and little to no protection in case of an accident. Some sanity finally returned in 1938 when a minimum weight linked to a maximum displacement (3 litre supercharged or 4.5 litre Naturally Aspirated) was agreed upon.

A quick calculation in the Mercedes-Benz design office revealed that a supercharged engine would be most competitive. In many ways the new for 1938 W154 was a development of the W125, which was originally developed with the new regulations in mind.

The unusually stiff nickel-chrome molybdenum tubular ladder frame was virtually carried over. The biggest difference was the shorter wheelbase of the new car made possible by the use of a smaller engine. What also remained was the ground-breaking DeDion rear suspension. It combined the benefits of independent suspension without the dangerous side effects of the swing axles used by most competitors. Up front the W154 was suspended by double wishbones, which longitudinal torsion bars. Although the maximum weight was discarded, weight saving was still a top priority, so most chassis parts were drilled to add lightness.

Cap’n Tony’s Atomic Cabaret #(5)5: Come Fly with Me to Argentina! (Triple Music & Drinks!)

| December 15, 2012

Hello again, you crazy Cats and cool Chicks!  Ready to join the Cabaret on an exciting flight across the Americas?

With travel arrangements on board a luxurious TWA Constellation (“Connie”), the largest and fastest land-based passenger airliner yet built, we’ll tour the lower latitudes of our western continents with stops in tropical Yucatan in Mexico, spicy Trinidad in the Caribbean, and, finally, cosmopolitain Buenos Aires in Argentina!

And not a moment too soon for us in the Cabaret.  The honorable Senator McCarthy is a little too interested in us here at the Cabaret, what with our lax attitudes on the mixing of races and the political persuasions and lifestyles of some of our friends and members (and our unwillingness to rat them out).  Not to mention that a mimeograph of a certain letter home from Moscow, which managed to lose our covert message in the copy process, has ended up on Mr. Hoover’s desk, painting us pink in the Director’s eyes. 

All said, it seems a good time for an extended South American music tour, don’t ya’ say?


And celebrate we will!  First Stop, the little boom town of Mérida in the Mexican state of Yucatan!  It’s like…Margarita City or something.  Villa del Margarita?  (There’s a song in there somewhere, I can feel it…). 

This tropical peninsula, home to the magnificent ruins of the ancient Maya — and their modern descendents as well — is a place lush with canopies of ancient  trees too tall to comprehend if you haven’t seen them.  The waters glow a bright azure off of beaches as white as snow.  The people are friendly and beautiful, and the music is as hot and inviting as the tropical sun!

But tonight we call in Calypso to come play with us as we sip those cool new Mexican cocktails called Margtaritas and kick back on the white sand beaches.  Performing tonight is a Harlem, NY, native named Harry Belafonte, a young man with a swing way beyond his years who has brought the exciting new Caribbean sound of calypso music to the American masses.  He, too, is under Senator McCarthy’s magnifying glass and he was quite happy to tour with us.  Tonight he performs a cover of calypso legend Lord Kitchner’s hit “Jump in the Line”.  I dare you to listen to this without wanting to get up and shake those hips!  Even the dead will want to get up and dance!

Radio MetronomiK Show #8

| September 10, 2012

Well it is time to Radio shows, and MetronomiK it´s on the aether web again with their #8 Show.

Here you can listen spanish dieselpunk music as Casino Slut Bar from México, Rosario Smowing from Argentina and Dry Martina from Spain.

Also we have electro-swing, rockabilly, and some clasics… just go to Radio MetronomiK´s blog and listen online, or if you want to download the show can do at iTunes or ivoox.

Hope you like it!

S.A.M. #61: And They Called Him Bombi

| September 8, 2012

This Saturday, our airmail is brought to you by a quintessential Dieselpunk aircraft right from Argentina:

FMA AeMB.2 - two inflight

It is the first Argentine-designed combat airplane. Its story is a bit controversial, at least when told in English, but I was lucky enough to find a credible article on 1000aircraftphotos.com, written by Dr. Georg v. Rauch and Dr. Hernán Longoniby, and edited by Johan Visschedijk:

FMA AeMB.1 color profile“Although the Aé.M.B.1 (Aerotécnica, Militar, Bombardeo) was the first light bomber aircraft developed at the FMA (Fábrica Militar de Aviones), from the onset it designed to fulfill two separate roles: bomber and transport. The basic Aé.M.B.1 design was that of cantilever, low-wing monoplane, with fixed undercarriage. Pilot and co-pilot sat side-by-side in an open cockpit. The new design employed the typical FMA construction, steel molybdenum, Warren-trussed fuselage fabric with duralumin skin for the cockpit and fighting compartment, and fabric covering aft.

FMA AeMB.1 prototype

“Powered by a Wright Cyclone SGR-1820F-3 rated at 715 hp at 6,890 ft (2,100 m), driving a variable speed three-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller 11 ft 9.7 in (3,60 m) in diameter, the prototype Aé.M.B.1 first took to the skies on June 9, 1935. Fixed armament consisted of a pair of Madsen Mod. 1933 0.3 in (7.65 mm) machine guns in a swiveling mount. Although the prototype displayed pleasant handling characteristics, it was modified to enhance crew comfort and performance.

FMA AeMB.1“The improved model featured a cockpit enclosure, a larger trapezoidal-shaped rudder, 353 lb (160 kg) of ballast on the rear portion of the cabin, trouser fairings for the main undercarriage members which not only improved overall performance but conferred it a passing resemblance to the Northrop Delta 1.b transport.

FMA AeMB.1 pre-production

“In fact, some FMA posters and magazine advertisements displayed an idealized version of the new design which bore an even more striking similarity to the more famous Northrop design, which no doubt influenced the FMA design team.

FMA AeMB.1 pre-production, MG installed“The Aé.M.B.2, however, was an entirely original design whose overall dimensions and fuselage section resembled those of the Junkers K 43, which had equipped Argentine bombing units. The Aé.M.B.1 enjoyed a high degree of popularity among aircrews, which promptly earned it an endearing nickname: “Bombi”.

Brick Magazine from Argentina

| May 23, 2012

Magazines come in two basic types, single or double stack, meaning rounds are stacked in a single row or slightly staggered, doubling capacity and creating wider magazine. This is model has been standared for pistols, submachine guns and rifles for 70+ years, with the occasional “stick magazine” aberration.

In 1938 however, Argentina decided 20 rounds of pistol caliber ammunition was not good enough. Weapons designers started building a 9mm Parabellum and .45 ACP chambered direct blowback SMG with a ultra-high capacity magazine in an all aluminum receiver.

The Hafdasa C-series was a submachine gun that could go from rifle to concealable compact SMG. The C-2 was the  tank-crew variant that completely removed the stock, followed by the C-4 (below) an all aluminum weapon for paratroopers with a folding stock or fixed and the Z-4 (above) with its monolithic fixed stock. 

The choice of aluminim receiver saved weight in a gun that could become very heavy when loaded with its hefty magazines.

The C-series of submachine guns had mammoth magazines holding 50 9mm rounds or 40 .45 ACP rounds. These magazines were two magazines encased in a single sheath that fed into the narrow receiver of the submachine gun. There were no reports of feed issues with this piggyback feed arrangement. 

Another design quirk of the Hafdasa C-series was the large spring loaded flap-style magazine well cover that protected the receiver from collecting debris in the field. The alumnium body of the Cseries also departed in a single color, choosing paint schemes of green, black and brown, another common sight on modern battlefield weapons.

Argentina’s .45 SMG

| May 9, 2012

If you’re a gun geek like me, something small, the littlest thing about a weapon can excite you. Sometimes its the method of operation, other times its the inventive way they solve weight or size issues.

For me the Argentinian Halcon M-1943 has a great stock. Yes, you heard me right, this pretty mundane SMG has a slight edge because of its design. But mundanity does not mean it is overall not worth small arms praise. The M-1943 is a simple, direct blowback submachine gun that fired from an open bolt. With a rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute, the open bolt kept the fast firing SMG cool and uncomplicated.

Another interesting decision by the 1940s weapons designers in Argentina was chambering the Halcon M-1943 in the European popular 9mm Parabellum and the .45 ACP. The latter made the Haclon SMG a quality weapon in the class of the M3 “Grease Gun” or Thompson SMG.

Back to the stock of the SMG. Later versions of the weapon ditched the fixed stock in favor of the lighter, folding wire stock. But that is inelegant compared to the original fixed version that curved from the rear of the tubular receiver into a pistol grip and into a traditional wooden stock. Its a small thing, but it bridged the gap between a traditional straight line wood stock and the modern pistol grip.

Another ergonomic attribute of this South American SMG was its placement of the charging handle. Where North American or European designers placed the cocking horn or knob, it generally went on the top or ejection port side of a gun, Halcon mounted the charging handle on the opposite, or “weak” side of the gun. This meant that it could be charged or cleared jams while the strong hand stayed on the trigger. Modern training techniques have found ways around some weapons ergonomics, but in 1943 this simple choice made the Halcon an efficient and effective design. 

Sunday Streamline #54: Who Cries For You, Argentina?

| February 19, 2012

Where do I begin?..  Should we take a narrow gauge or a broad ‘Indian’ one? There are five main gauges in Argentina, you know.

At least two of these gauges – 1000mm and 1676mm (5 ft. 8 in.) once had streamliners running on them. In 1934, Buenos Aires Western Railway received one British-built diesel electric 48-seat railbus, powered by an Armstrong-Saurer 6BXD 122hp engine. The body was built by Park Royal Vehicles Ltd, London and delivered to Scotswood for fitting. It had a cab at each end and accommodated 48 passengers. In 1937, a batch of single & double railcars, powered by Armstrong-Sulzer 6LF19 275hp engines arrived to Central Argentine Railway.

These integrally welded all steel vehicles were built by BRCW Smethwick being equipped with mechanical transmission, two with a Vulcan-Sinclair fluid coupling and Wilson five speed gearbox & two equipped with a five speed SLM oil operated gearbox. The engine, transmission and radiator were mounted on a subframe carried by one of the 12ft wheelbase bogies, the single cars weighed 38tons and were 76.5ft long and seated 75 passengers. The articulated sets weighed 66tons with a top speed of 68mph. (Source)

From 1937 through eraly 1960s, diesel multiple units built by Ganz (Hungary) were used for Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway express service. There were two DMU classes; similar in appearance, they had different dimensions. One, so-called “Ganz Catamarca”, served on the Catamarca route, metre gauge.

The other, “Ganz Bariloche”, was used on 800km Viedma – San Calos de Bariloche route, 1676mm ‘Indian’ gauge. Several months ago I wrote that Argentine Ganz DMUs could be inspired by the Chilean Railways Southern Arrows. Now, knowing when the production started, I can say just the opposite – the Arrows were built later. And don’t forget that “Ganz Bariloches” were practically identical to the Soviet DP-1/10 diesel trains received from Hungary as war reparations.

(Both photos from the photostream Ferroclub Patagonico Viedma @ Flickr)

Finally, after 1939 railway nationalization, came a domestic-built… not exactly a streamliner but a remarkable diesel electric locomotive: No. 1 Justicialista. She was powered by two 735hp Sulzer diesel engines. Top speed was 90 km/h.