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Survival


willedoo
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Is survival without ice cream really worth it?

 

 

 

We should start a thread on what we can and can't live without; what you would pack in your quick-escape bag.

 

People often laugh at how many bottles of water I carry in my car.

 

 

 

For a starter, there's a lot of cheap Chinese survival knicknacks on eBay, but I wouldn't trust those little Chinese compasses. I've got a couple that are about 40 degrees out of whack.

 

 

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...but I wouldn't trust those little Chinese compasses. I've got a couple that are about 40 degrees out of whack.

 

A bit harsh, considering the Chinese invented them; my American-built aircraft compass is up to 30 degrees out in flight, despite the expensive experts working on it.

 

 I plan to properly swing it in the near future in a last, dismal hope of being able to rely on it.

 

Maybe the earth's magnetic field is getting too weak?

 

 

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Just a bit of trivia on the subject, some people might not be aware that the Russian cosmonauts are the only people in space to have firearms. They are part of the survival kit and I'd assume they would be permanently stowed in the Soyuz crew capsule. Designed for survival in the Taiga for a couple of days if the landing doesn't go to plan. Quite a beast of a thing they are compared to the pistols the fighter pilots carry.

 

It would be highly unlikely these days that a landing would be so far off course, but I think it's happened in the earlier days, hence the fairly elaborate kits.

 

 

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Willie, that's so strange it must be true!

 

The firearm referred to above is a combination shotgun, rifle & flare gun plus machete. I just did a bit of checking and some sources say it was removed from the survival kit in 2007 to be replaced by a standard semi-automatic pistol. Some other sources say a firearm is still on the survival kit contents list but hasn't been taken up in space for a few years now. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency now say that they are testing a new version to be reintroduced in the next year or so. Not sure if the non Russian ISS crew would be too keen on the idea though.

 

I've never seen the contents of the Soyuz survival kits, but I'd assume they would have a fair bit in common with the fighter ejection seat kits. The MiG and Sukhoi seat kits have quite a few variants to suit area of operations - desert, arctic, over water or not, and a lot of the contents overlap.

 

 

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They might land in a middle eastern country and face peasants with pitchforks. Or land in the Ukraine where they really hate Russians.

 

Last night I watched Gagarin, an excellent movie about the first man in space. Much better than American movies.

 

Poor old Yuri just missed ending up in the drink, and landed in a ploughed field. The farmers were frightened of this strange man from space and ran away from him.

 

(Might still be available in SBS on Demand.)

 

 

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Last night I watched Gagarin, an excellent movie about the first man in space. Much better than American movies.

 

Poor old Yuri just missed ending up in the drink, and landed in a ploughed field. The farmers were frightened of this strange man from space and ran away from him.

 

(Might still be available in SBS on Demand.)

 

I haven't seen that movie yet; must do it one day. I've seen another much earlier Russian documentary on it; I think it's on Youtube somewhere. It was post Soviet and I was surprised how frank it was.

 

In regards to the earlier reference to the survival gun, I did some checking and it was introduced after some pushing by first space walk cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov. He ended up fairly high up in the cosmonaut training programme and they say he never forgot the time they spent in the forest when their re-entry went wrong after the first space walk. They ended up about 600k off mark in the wilderness around the Urals. Apparently all they had was one 9mm Makarov between them; not much use against a bear. Leonov and his mate had choppers scaring wolves away but they couldn't land. Eventually the cosmonauts used their snow skis to hike out to a chopper.

 

The future survival firearm he pushed for is more shotgun than pistol. An under and over design with two short 28g shotgun barrels on top, break action, with one rifle barrel underneath. I think the signal flares were fired through the smooth bore shotgun barrels. The machete attached to double as a shoulder stock. The rifle calibre was basically a 5mm AK-74 round modified with soft hollow points. They were issued with 11 rifle rounds (I'd say for bears), 10 bird shot and 10 signal flares. The bird shot would be the best deterrent for a pack of wolves I would think. Yuri was a lot luckier coming down in a settled area.

 

 

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They were issued with 11 rifle rounds (I'd say for bears), 10 bird shot and 10 signal flares

 

 

 

 

Good God, that's on a par with the poor buggers of Maroubra Force, who set off up the Kokoda Track.

 

They were issued with 50 rounds and 5 days of rations in a backpack, to try and find and repel a Japanese force that outnumbered them.

 

There was no logistical backup when they left Port Moresby, the supplies they had been promised had not arrived in Port Moresby, due to major problems with inadequate airfields, and inadequate port facilities - as well as Japanese air attacks.

 

 

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I'm still trying to get my head around the picture of cosmonauts equipped with guns and snow skis!!!!!!

 

Where did they find room for all that in those tiny space capsules?

 

Pete, they call them skis but in reality they are just snow shoes. Made of duralumin, they fold in half and fit in a seat width pack. A fairly crude set of straps tie them to your feet. I've got a pair somewhere but this photo is one off the net of the same thing.

 

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Onetrack, what would have happened if they had not gone chasing starving Japs up the Kokoda track? What if they just garrisoned a ridge or two near Port Moresby, and left the Japanese alone till they surrendered?

 

My answer is that nothing bad would have happened and lots of soldiers would not have been killed . There were 100,000 Japanese on Rabaul and this is what happened there. Singapore comes to mind too.

 

 

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Bruce, we have to view the Kokoda effort in the light of the known situation at the time. Information was scant about the Japanese and their movements (apart from knowing they were coming down the Owen Stanleys to probably take Port Moresby), communications were non-existent, PNG maps were non-existent, intelligence was also non-existent, and no-one back in Australia had any idea of the fighting conditions.

 

Then there was the military attitude of the day, of "taking the fight to the enemy". It was more than likely believed that if the Japs reached the outskirts of Port Moresby, they would be able to take it, or observe it, and direct attacks on it.

 

In addition, it is a primary military tenet, that you take and hold the high ground. Whoever holds the high ground holds the tactical advantage. The Australians were intent on taking and holding the high ground in the Owen Stanleys.

 

The greatest failing of the initial Kokoda action, was lack of intelligence on what weapons the Japanese had backing them up.

 

It was almost unbelievable to the Australian and American military commanders, that the Japs 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force had dragged artillery pieces with them, up the face of the Owen Stanleys, from Gona - an incredible feat, which paid off for them, when they met the Australians.

 

The Australians had no long range weapons, they thought it was impossible to get them up into the mountains, and the Jap mountain artillery pieces exacerbated the number of Australian deaths, in the early stages of the Kokoda campaign.

 

https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/3a7f218a-d2d6-49fd-b6f6-240a55058ed2/files/awm-kokoda-report.pdf

 

 

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Japanese soldiers displayed enormous tenacity and endurance, lugging their mountain guns so far up the Track. Eventually, starving and weak with illness, some units made it to a point where they could see Port Moresby. I cannot imagine their heartbreak when they were ordered to turn back. Very few survived the retreat; even General Harii was swept away in a flooded river.

 

 

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Old K - I read the first-hand story of the 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force a few years ago, it was written by one of their surviving officers, and his story is one of incredible fortitude. The story was online, I can't find it now.

 

I was quite surprised to find him relating how they went through the snowline to get to Kokoda. I didn't even think that there would be snow up there, but then, when one thinks of the heights of the Owen Stanleys, then it makes sense.

 

There's a huge gold-copper mine in Papua, the Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg mine. It's the worlds largest mine, and it operates over a massive range of altitude, from steamy jungle, right up into the snowline.

 

They push raw ore in large rock form, from the top of the mine into a vertical shaft, which is about 800 metres deep from memory. The fall fractures the rock into small pieces, and saves them a fortune in crushing costs.

 

 

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I'm still trying to get my head around the picture of cosmonauts equipped with guns and snow skis!!!!!!

 

Where did they find room for all that in those tiny space capsules?

 

Here's a screen grab of the inside of a Soyuz crew capsule during a launch. Apparently the large white bulk with the orange straps behind the Astro/Cosmonauts contains the parachutes and is also where the survival gear is stowed. It looks a bit cramped; they have to sit in a foetal position to fit in. The wide angle lens makes it look a lot bigger than what it is.

 

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At a guess, I'd say the survival kits would be no bigger or more elaborate than the aircraft ejection seat kits on a per person basis. The basic brief is gear to survive two to three days in the wild. The Sukhoi and MiG seat kits are quite compact and fit in the seat base along with a one man dinghy. They seem to achieve that by everything being small and minimal. The first aid kit for example is basically a bandage or two, some iodine and morphine doses. No scissors, eyewash or any of that stuff, just something to stop bleeding and pain and some iodine as a disinfectant. The Russians have a few different kits depending on use, but most share the core items of communication, signalling, first aid, food and water stock, camp equipment and weaponry.

 

They differ in whether arctic (snow shoes and less water) or desert (more water). One kit doesn't have a dinghy in the non marine version and has extra desalinator kits in the marine version. One combat kit is a standard kit with an extra compartment to hold an AKS-74U automatic rifle. It's the short one with almost no barrel and a folding stock, although in Afghanistan, most aircrew chose to carry them at the ready in the cockpit. There was a large side holster designed so they could wear them on their hip or some just slung them over the shoulder.

 

The photo below is taken at the Russian airbase in Syria and shows a NAZ-7M, which is the smallest, most compact kit. The object at centre right is the seat base (upside down) and shows where the dinghy and survival pack is stowed. The dull orange object in the foreground is the one man dinghy and everything above that stows in the grey polyester case at the top of the photo. After ejection and upon seat separation, static lines pull pins to release the survival pack and floating radio kit followed by the dinghy.

 

Nearly everything works automatically. CO2 devices inflate the dinghy and radio kit in the air and the radio turns itself on. All the pilot has to do is release his chute just on touchdown, then using the lanyard, pull the dinghy to him. Then he climbs in and continues pulling in the lanyard which has the survival pack and radio at the end of it. Plug the radio into the helmet comms and Bob's your uncle. The radio has three modes - emergency beacon emitter which is the default mode when it turns itself on, long range radio frequency to contact base, and short range two way to converse with the rescue crew.

 

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Amazing preparation.

 

This is really interesting.

 

So very compact yet comprehensive.

 

Thanks for the info.

 

I've had a fair bit to do with these kits but know almost nothing of Western survival kits. I get the idea that the Russian kits are a bit more comprehensive, most likely to do with the vast expanses of wild country they have east of the Urals. It would be interesting to see what the Americans have in their kits flying out of Alaskan bases. They would have the same issues with cold, remoteness, bears and wolves etc.. I'd assume they'd have a lot more gear than those flying in areas like California and Nevada.

 

It's an interesting evolution. The MiG-15 from late 1948/1949 onward was the first Russian production aircraft with an ejection seat, and the first survival kit was introduced in 1958, so there was nearly a ten year period where the pilots had very little emergency equipment after ejection. It was probably a similar timeline in the West.

 

 

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Old K - I read the first-hand story of the 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force a few years ago, it was written by one of their surviving officers, and his story is one of incredible fortitude. The story was online, I can't find it now.

 

I was quite surprised to find him relating how they went through the snowline to get to Kokoda. I didn't even think that there would be snow up there, but then, when one thinks of the heights of the Owen Stanleys, then it makes sense...

 

The nearest glaciers to Australia are in Indonesia- or were, a decade or so ago. Might have melted by now.

 

The western end of New Guinea is higher and gets lots of white stuff. It would surprise me if the Owen Stanleys have a "snow line". 

 

I'd be interested in reading the account of the 5th Sasebo; it's always instructive to get the other team's version.

 

I bet they have a very different view of the Kokoda Campaign; I believe their assault was poorly planned and resourced because of squabbling between the IJ Navy and Army. Despite this, their troops were driven mercilessly and achieved amazing goals, but were beaten as much by starvation as by stiff resistance from Aussie militia.

 

 

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I once read where the Biscuit Bombers would do supply drops and sometimes the Japanese had beaten our troops to the food and already made off with it. I know you will eat almost anything if hungry enough, but I wonder what the Japanese soldiers first thought of Bully Beef, bearing in mind their normal diet.

 

 

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