Sunday, September 23, 2012
“Golden Dragon Rising” by RangerElite
Research & Development Laboratories
Hanyang Arms Manufacturing Complex
Wuhan City, State of Hupei, Federal Republic of China
Even though this was not in his area of expertise, Dr. Hugo Schmeisser was called into the laboratory to consult, and give his opinion. Though he thought the facilities as cruder than what he was used to, he felt that far more progress was being made, in far less time, than he would have ever hoped for. For his part, it was nice to be treated as an honored guest, rather than being prodded at gunpoint to and from the weapons laboratory at Izhevsk. If those Ukrainian patriots had not spirited him away from there, he surely would have died there, as old as he was.
Dr. Schmeisser was very excited as to what he was about to witness: the Luftfaust and the Luftschreck shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, having been inproved to increase their range and lethality, were being taken out to the proving ground and test-fired today. It was such a simple premise, the same that had been used on the FlaK 36, to turn it from its intended purpose as an anti-aircraft cannon, into a premier, world-beating, anti-tank gun. The world had Erwin Rommel to thank for that. Had Rommel not been short on PaK's, he would not have even considered using the FlaK's in a direct-fire role. Well, this was a different kind of desperation, with a different set of circumstances, but the results always remained the same: improvisation and innovation.
The weapons themselves were fairly straightforward, but still revolutionary. The Luftfaust came in two different configurations: a 9-barreled 20-mm shoulder-fired projector and a 6-barreled 30-mm shoulder-fired projector. Both were loaded with disposable pre-packaged cartridges from the rear, and had to be fired from a clear area, as the back-blast that issued from the projectors was dangerous to the weapons' operators. The projectiles were converted 20-mm or 30-mm proximity-fused high-explosive cannon shells, fitted to a tube filled with solid rocket propellant and outfitted with spring-loaded fins, that snapped out as soon as it left the muzzle of the projector. The Luftschreck was a straightforward conversion of the 8.8-cm Panzerschreck, with an anti-aircraft sight adapted from the one used on the MG34 and MG42 machine guns, and ammunition optimized for anti-aircraft use. By virtue of the fact that it still used liquid rocket propellant, and was now fitted with a proximity-fused combination HE/fragmentation warhead, made its manufacture problematic, especially in this area, where there were no mass-production facilities for making the propellant. A problem begging for a solution, thought Dr. Schmeisser. And as soon as the facilities became available for the large-scale manufacture of the liquid rocket propellant, there will be NOWHERE that the bloody Bolsheviks could fly where there wasn't steel shrapnel filling the air.
There were technicians and soldiers ready to conduct the tests, waiting only for the targets to appear overhead. And they appeared on time, huge box-kite targets being towed by Chinese Air Force C-46 tugs on very long tethers. As soon as the targets were released from the tugs into free-flight, and the tugs were safely away, the shooting began. Projectiles were flying all over the place, exploding high up, viciously shredding their hapless wood-and-fabric targets.
One tactic that became apparent to Schmeisser was that massed-fire was being used to destroy the targets. While he was more an advocate of good marksmanship, massed-fire had its place, and it was used to tremendous effect here. He witnessed 3 or 4 gunners concentrate on a target and completely blast it out of the sky. He also noticed the obvious difference in altitude ranges between the Luftschreck weapon, and it's shorter-ranged cousin, the Luftfaust. It was his uninformed opinion that if they were able to increase the range and devise a way to accurately track a jet, the Luftschreck would be the perfect weapon to shoot jets down. As a matter of fact, he would write a letter to the Chinese president to that effect, and let him know his impressions of this test, and inform him of his conclusions and ideas...
Now that this test was finished, he needed to return to his assigned duties, evaluating a new American battle rifle, a direct descendent of the StG-44, placed in his very capable hands by an American benefactor. This was an area of expertise with which he was quite familiar...