Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Animorphs revisited

Animorphs is a science fiction series which details the infiltration of earth by a parasitic alien species called the yeerks. They are opposed by a group of human teenagers (along with an alien named ax) who form a small but stubborn guerilla movement. They don't have access to military hardware or even weapons: What they do have is alien technology which allows them to turn into animals, sneak into guarded buildings, and spy on or attack the invaders. The fight scenes are quite gory and explicit, more like 'when animals attack' than anything else. Yeerk contollers and animorphs are frequently maimed in stunning displays of martial force and savagery. I used to read these books quite often while still in elementary school, when I was 11 to 13 years old. And when I was in high school, I would revisit books I had been unable to read (like the megamorphs). I read them mostly for the cool fights, and didn't absorb the deeper themes until I was older. Which is not altogether surprising, because these books have alot of post modern ideas that can go right over the heads of a young audience.
According to one review: 'As a whole, however, the series did not focus so much on the superficial elements of the plot, but on how their war affects and changes them. These effects and changes are what separate this series from other 'childrens' books and series. Childrens is used loosely because while the series was marketed to children, the story was far more mature than an average 9-12 year old, the target demographic, could handle, a point clearly demonstrated by the majority of reviews at' This has only become clear to me now, as I have been re-reading the main sequence books (along with the chronicles) for the past year. The incredible story told in animorphs is able to hold my attention just as firmly now as it did while I was in elementary school. In all my years of reading science fiction, I've never come across a single series that is as thought provoking, entertaining, and altogether well rounded as this one. It really is a testament to sturgeons law: Most of what passes for sci fi is enough to make you gag.

It makes me sad to think of what todays kids are missing out on, a sentiment which is echoed by many other bloggers. I recently learned that a small community of ex-fans continue to talk about the animorphs books, and how their themes are still relevant today. Personally, I feel that the series was succesful enough to be used as a template for other works of science fiction. So as a result, I am going to jump into this sub-genre with both feet and add my voice to the discussion. During my read throughs, I noticed that some important questions in the books went unanswered, which has left former (and current) readers scratching their heads. Some of these questions are peripheral to the situation on earth, but still relevant to the plot at large: After all, finding an alien race to menace earth is more complicated than it sounds. Luckily though, I have intimated rational explanations for these plot holes. Rather than keeping them to myself, I will share my insights in the hopes that they can bring on a catharsis.

Elfangors last stand against visser 3

What city did the animorphs live in?

We know that they live in south california, in a medium sized city near the coast. We know that it had a river, was bordered with national forrests, and a couple of mountains and valleys. Some have suggested their home town was santa barbara, but thats not realistic. For one, it doesn't have a core downtown area with high rises, nor does it have large suburban areas with 2 story houses. For another, santa barbara lacks a deep water harbor, coast guard station, and air national guard station. But there are two citys which have all that, and are located directly next to each other: Oxnard and ventura. The local geography is a perfect match, and so is almost everything else. [1] These citys may not have 60 story skyscrapers, a sea world, or underground trains, but remember, this is an alternate reality! The yeerks discovered earth in the early 90s, and have been interfering with the normal progression of history. Minor discrepancies in the layout of cities and such are to be expected.

Was oxnard and/or ventura the only city occupied by the yeerks?

Probably not. Although its never explicitly stated in the books, there was very likely a yeerk presence beyond just one city. When the series began in early 1996, they had already been on earth for a number of years. Depending on fast the yeerks were infesting people, they could have quickly grown to a large population. When the war ended 3 years later, most of the people in the animorphs home town had been made into controllers. The yeerks would have needed to expand into neighbouring citys just to keep things on schedule. Their civilisation was powerful enough to cross the vast distances between stars, so infiltrating a couple more citys wouldn't have been a problem. Another point in favor of this is how the animorphs were reluctant to disclose their last names, as well as what city they lived in. [2] The books themselves are implied to be their private journals, which were not meant to go public and fall into the hands of a controller. But if the yeerks had only ever infested that one city, then why would the animorphs keep their citys name a secret (even as a safety precaution)? This only makes sense if the yeerks were occupying multiple citys.

Why did the yeerks launch their infiltration in south california?

There would be many considerations for the yeerks to take into account. The requirement to take over and infest large population centers was paramount, but so too was the need for secrecy. The area around L.A.  is known for weird people and events, so the occasional explosion or UFO sighting would not arouse any suspicion. California is also the media and entertainment center of america, with many large military bases and technology centers. Subverting these to their control would allow the yeerks to rapidly spread throughout america, and then the world at large. [3] Coastal citys were preferable, since space ships could reenter the atmosphere out in the ocean where few people would notice. (This explains all the underwater bases, too) They also needed citys where massive construction projects could go unnoticed. Even yeerk pools don't exist entirely below ground, after all: They need entrance ways to the surface, where they can bring in steel beams and remove pulverised rock. Los angeles is also where visser 1 originally landed and began her infiltration, so its only natural that when yeerks began showing up in numbers, L.A. would be the staging point.

How advanced were the yeerks before being contacted by prince seerow?

Many are of the opinion that the yeerk empire was originally at a tech level equal to the industrial age, or perhaps even more primitive. This is a totally ridiculous idea. If the steam engine and coke blast furnace were the most advanced technologys possessed by the yeerks, they would never have been able to escape their homeworld and aggressively colonise the galaxy. They would instead have needed to work their way up to a higher level. With direct help from the andalites (like an academy where yeerk scientists could study at), their rate of technological progress would have accelerated. Given 2 or 3 decades, the yeerks could develop internal combustion engines, electric motors and batterys, analogue electronics, the bayer and haber processes, etc. And given 2 or 3 more decades, they could have moved on to propeller aircraft, analogue computers, composite materials, and even nuclear fission. But thats just it: Even after 40-60 years of direct assistance from seerow, the yeerks would only be at a development index equal to the atomic age! Their weapons would still be crude, their industrial base would still be crude, and their ability to travel through space almost non-existent. In order for the yeerks to have posed the threat they did (running rampant within 3 years of being contacted by the andalites), they must have been at a higher tech level from the start. Much higher, in fact. Something like the RDA government from avatar, or the lysian alliance from star trek TNG. Realistically speaking, by the time prince seerow showed up, the yeerks must have had everything except for zero-space engines and communications, advanced materials and power generation.

How large were the yeerk and andalite empires?

Not as big as most people would think. The yeerks had at least two star systems under their control, the hork-bajir system, and the taxxon system. There were a number of other species whose worlds they had conquered, as well as enclaves they set up in abandoned systems (like olgin base). The hork-bajir planet was stated to be 200 light years from the andalites homeworld, a distance which took 2 months to cross by ship. Meanwhile, the andalite homeworld was stated to be just 82 light years from earth. With that, we can conclude that most of the andalite-yeerk war had taken place inside the local bubble. That gives a good baseline on the size of both their territorys. As for population, it was implied in numerous books that conquering earth would greatly increase the yeerks numbers. Given these background details, its fair to assume the yeerks had colonised a dozen star systems, and had a billion or more personnel in their military. Thats not including the huge number of yeerks who didn't have hosts, and thus weren't fit for service. The andalites would probably be in a similar predicament, with only a fraction of their population actually serving in the military. This makes their empires far smaller than the united federation of planets. But compared to the human race, they were still huge and menacing.

[1] This will actually be a good topic for a future post: Finding locations described in the books (like the mountains or valleys), and seeing where they fit on an actual map. Theres quite a bit of geography to overview.

[2] Heres a line from book #3: "I can't tell you my last name. Or the name of the city where I live." And another from book #7: "You might be a Controller. So I won't tell you my last name. Or where I live."

[3] The yeerks needed to infest a few million humans before they could abandon the infiltration, in favor of an open invasion. A force of that size could effortlessly defeat the U.S military, and whatever task force the andalites sent.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Reinforcing the human body 2

Ambitious approach

We have seen the things that can be done with somatic engineering. Impressive though they are, the scope of things that can be done with germline engineering is greater still. The nature of the body systems themselves can be changed to suit human desires. Unfortunately, such alterations cannot be made to adult subjects: They can only be made during conception. The procedure would require a packet of micro-chromosomes to be inserted into human embryos: The instructions contained within will alter the cells programming, and change the course of prenatal development. As an example of this, consider vasculogenesis. This is the process through which a developing fetus gains a heart and major blood vessels. Genetecists could alter the growth factors and signalling pathways within the cells (such as VEGF and Tie), and cause vasculogenesis to proceed in a different manner. After being injected with the gene packet, a fetus will go on to develop an altered set of blood vessels in its legs, arms, and neck. Uniquely, its arteries will branch off into two separate blood vessels, in a process called bifurcation. This will make the vasculatory system as a whole less vulnerable to cuts and lacerations. Similar alterations will be made to the signalling pathways which regulate the formation of bones, muscles, nerves, and skin in a fetus. Taken together, these changes result in a genotype that is completely different from a normal human, different enough that the individuals could be termed a separate species.

The ability to execute such a daring program could only be enabled by three things. The first was the human genome project, which created a database of all the genes present in the human genome. The second was the advent of gene editing techniques like CRISPR, which enable the removal and insertion of genes as desired. The third will be supercomputers which can simulate the phenotype that would arise from a given genotype. [1] In other words, they can predict how an embryo will develop, what it will look like as an adult, and determine whether or not it would suffer from deformitys. Such simulations would remove alot of the guess work involved in making a designer baby. Eventually, it will become feasible to create individuals with increased strength, durability, speed, and other attributes that would make them at home on the battlefield. A soldier fit for the 21st century. As franz uhle wettler said of warfare in the 20th century: 'Weapons have become more dangerous, but men have remained just as vulnerable.' This century will likely be no exception. As war machines become more and more capable, ordinary humans continue to lag behind as the weak link in the chain. This trend can be halted by creating a force of metahumans with the attributes needed to thrive on the battlefield. Moreover, their genomes can be updated with each generation, which would help insure that they never become obsolete.

The development of blood vessels

Muscular system: Metahumans have an archaic musculo-skeletal system granting them enormous physical strength, sufficient to deadlift approximately 2000 lbs, and military press well over 800 lbs. They can also exceed 30 mph in a sprint. There are three main factors behind this. Two of these are seen naturally (albeit rarely) in humans: Hypertrophied muscles, and lengthened tendons. [2] The third is unique, dealing with how the muscle fibers themselves are recruited. Skeletal muscles are controlled by the peripheral nervous system, which interact through motor units. These are neurons which branch off from a nerve (like, say, the musculo-cutaneous nerve) and hook up to a muscle fiber. Motor units come in two varietys, large and small. A large motor unit connects to many muscle fibers and causes all of them to contract at once. A small motor unit connects to only a few muscle fibers, so that finer control of movement is possible. Compared to all other animals, humans have an abundance of small motor units, and a deficiency of large motor units. This gives us excellent fine motor control, but low muscle recruitment (and hence, low force output). By increasing the number of large motor neurons which branch off each nerve, metahumans will be capable of much greater muscle recruitment.
As noted, some of their muscle groups have different attachment points and better innervation, which allows for improved function. This is especially evident with the extrinsic muscles of the ear, which can flare and contour the whole ear and locate the direction of a sound faster. Another example is the fingers, wherein the forearm muscles attach by four slips rather than three. More important than any of that is a metahumans sheer athleticism: From an early age, they can do hand stand pushups, planches, pistol squats, v-ups, and human flagpoles. Standing en pointe is easy for them, as are kick ups (jumping from the back onto the feet), arabesques, limbos, and other gymnastic maneuvers. They can rapidly march over long distances with heavy packs, making them excellent foot soldiers. Metahumans are strong enough to use muscle powered gliders for recreation, although the constant effort required may tire them out after a few miles. They also ride bicycles with abnormally stiff gears, allowing them to reach 50 mph on level road. However, their power-to-weight ratio is not as high as it could be, because of the dead weight represented by their thick skin and abdominal carapace.

 A motor neuron connecting to a muscle fiber
Circulatory system: This is the system through which red blood cells (and hence, oxygen) are distributed throughout the body. Arteries carry the oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body, while veins carry the deoxygenated blood away from the body to the heart. The continued functioning of the circulatory system is vital to survival, but unfortunately, it is seriously lacking in redundancy. There is generally only one blood vessel supplying each plane of the body, and if it stops pumping, bad things happen. A severed artery is much more serious than a severed vein, because arterys have high blood pressure and can lead to exsanguination, whereas veins have much lower blood pressure. Metahumans have a more redundant circulatory system, and this is particularly evident in the arteries of their arms, legs, and neck. The femoral artery bifurcates around the head of the femur, splitting into two distinct arterys that run down opposite sides of the same bone, making it impossible to sever both with a single cut.

The axillary artery is altered in the same way, bifurcating around the head of the humerus. As for the carotid arteries, they bifurcate just above the collar bone: Although the internal carotid takes the same path, the external carotid takes a longer path behind the vertebral column (more specifically, behind its transverse process). This leaves the major arteries much less exposed to danger, but the differences don't end there. Arterioles also branch off from the main artery at regular intervals, and some will reconnect with the artery further down the line. So if the artery is ever cut, it can safely close itself off, while capillaries continue pumping blood around the clot. It functions like a highway with side roads, or a river with tributary streams. [3] The only way that blood flow can be cut off is with a wide cut, which severs not just the artery itself, but the dozens of capillaries radiating out from it. Finally, their blood is able to form clots much faster than normal, which ensures that it won't be sent spilling uselessly through a severed artery.

The delicate network of arteries and veins

[1] This is already being done on a limited and primitive level: By performing an amniocentesis on an unborn baby, genetecists can not only carry out a screening test for congenital diseases, but can also predict its gender, eye colour, skin pigment, etc. In one respect, this is already resulting in designer babys, because any fetuses that are undesired by the couple can simply be aborted.

[2] The amount of force a muscle can exert is determined by its cross sectional area, while the amount of leverage a tendon can exert depends on its distance from a joint. If the size of a muscle fiber is doubled, its surface area (and hence the force output) will increase by a factor of four. And if the tendon from a bicep muscle connects 4 inchs away from the elbow, it will have 100% more leverage than a tendon which connects just 2 inchs away.

[3] Though again, these tributary branchs only occur along the axillary/brachial artery, the femoral/popliteal artery, and the carotid arteries. They aren't seen in the blood vessels of the body core (I.E, torso), because the blood pressure there is too high. Branches formed from the descending aorta would rupture the small diameter arteriolles.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Reinforcing the human body 1

In the previous article, we saw a potential need for super soldiers to fight in high intensity conflicts and replace baseline humans, who may not be physically or psychologically capable of dealing with such stresses. Some discussion was given to the adaptations that humans could benefit from in future conflicts, at such a time when genetic engineering proves to be viable. There are two different approachs to this, which involve somatic and germline engineering. The former can be made to adults, while the latter can only be made to embryos. Thus, either approach has a problem inherent to it. While somatic engineering doesn't have a time delay, it can only make limited changes to an adult subject. Germline engineering can change every aspect of the unborn subjects physiology, but it takes 18 years before they can grow to adulthood! When the time for this discussion comes, different nations will take different stances on it. Some will find germline engineering to be ethically challenging, while others nations could care less about the moral implications. Another question would be whether the possibilitys of germline engineering are too extensive, beyond what is needed for a super soldier. Without a firm understanding of the possibilitys and limits of less radical approachs, this viewpoint would hold a dominant frame. Therefore, the rest of this article will deal with exploring the realm of somatic engineering.

Minimalist approach

One of the biggest detriments to unit performance is the pareto principle, a phenomenon whereby 20% of the men contribute 80% of the combat results. This has to do with the psychometric profiles of individual soldiers: Some personality types are inherently more aggressive and daring than others. They are responsible for a disproportionate number of results within the unit. The assumption of every man being equal is a common one, but it couldn't be more wrong. Hollywood war movies which depict every soldier being an active participant in a battle are highly unrealistic: In practise, most of the men will be hiding behind cover, or fiddling with equipment and trying to look busy. Anything to help alleviate the intense stress that comes with people trying to murder each other in hot blood. The average soldier can march just fine during a movement to contact, but once ordered to partake in an actual attack (where they are exposed to weapons fire), getting them up and moving is a formidable challenge. Sometimes, the men cannot even be relied upon to provide covering fire for the few brave soldiers in the platoon who decide to go on the attack.

The 80/20 phenomenon results in a wasteful employment of personnel, which is most prevalent amongst infantry (particularly over the course of long campaigns). Since the soldiers who take all the risks inevitably wind up KIA given enough time, the unit is eventually left only with the average men who are not capable of serious action. Because of the rarity of such aggressive and daring soldiers, it is simply not possible to allocate them in all the places they are needed: Many posts must be filled with ordinary men instead. Jim storr elaborated upon this concept in his book, with figures drawn from the second world war. In the western desert, the top 15 fighter pilots in the luftwaffe (from a total of over 200) accounted for 44% of all allied aircraft destroyed, which is an average of over 44 kills for each pilot. There was a similar (but less pronounced) trend among american submarine captains, with 8.5% of the boats scoring 39% of the kills. This brings up an interesting question: What if all the men within a unit could be aces? Would its combat effectiveness as a whole dramatically increase?

Its a tantalising possibility that could be realised with somatic engineering. Studys show that certain genes, such as MAOA and TPH1, can influence an individuals level of aggression and risk adversity. Mutations in these genes could very well be responsible for the daring men who win most of the units battles. If true, then militarys may decide that it would be highly beneficial for their troops to undergo therapy, so that they could all benefit from increased performance. And even that is only scratching the surface of possibilitys. In metal gear solid, a major plot point is the existence of 'soldier genes', which regulate certain abilitys relevant to combat performance. For instance, one set of genes might govern strategic thinking, while another set might be responsible for the killer instinct. Although these individual genes were widespread amongst the human population, what was unique was that all of them were found in the genome of one man, the greatest warrior of the 21st century: Big boss. This gave him the full range of abilitys needed to thrive as a soldier.

Metal gear solid: Briefing files

There are many different ways that an ordinary soldiers performance can be increased without necessarily making them superhuman. For example, they can be given a battery of injections which would grant them enhanced reflexes, learning abilitys, and working memory. (This would be especially important for officers and NCOs, enabling them to control subordinate units like the fingers on their hand) Soldiers can also become more resistant to mental trauma stress, pain, and sleep deprivation. For instance, the hDEC2 gene results in people feeling energized on just 4-5 hours of sleep every night. If such changes were made to an armys personnel, the benefits could be tremendous: When normal human limitations are bypassed, the nature of the military instrument itself is transformed. Without the restraints and risks imposed by traumatised, exhausted, and stressed team mates, the organisation as a whole becomes more effective in all aspects. At a minimum, they would be able to avoid burnout after four days of mobile warfare.
These are basic enhancements that can be made available to all members of a military hierarchy, for support troops as well as combat personnel. But for those employed in the most dangerous branch of all (the poor bloody infantry), something more will be desired. Given the rigors of their job, they might require alterations such as denser bones and stronger muscles. The former can be unlocked by tampering with the LRP5 gene, while the latter can be achieved by manipulating the NCOR1 and MSTN gene. This would allow them to carry great weights with ease, scale treacherous landscapes, and remain uninjured by falls or collisions. Foot mobile infantry could regain a place in the army, rather than being the butt of so many bad jokes. Super soldiers wouldn't need to abide by the risk adverse policys that were adopted after WW1, in order to prevent themselves being bled white. They could take on daring missions without relying on the support of other branchs, which would lead to a more independent infantry force.

* More provocatively, some men can even be made colour blind, allowing them to more easily spot camouflage and prevent their comrades from walking into an ambush.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Armor factoids

5.56mm to 7.62mm AP

There is quite alot of misinformation regarding the difference in penetrating power between old and new models of armor piercing rounds. In the former, we have the M2 AP (30-06 caliber). In the latter, we have the M995 AP (5.56x45mm caliber) and M993 AP (7.62x51mm caliber). On military forums, the popular opinion is that the M995 AP can outperform the M2 AP. Such a view is at odds with a test done 2 years ago by Brass Fetchers. The film makers fired M2 AP rounds against a 12.7mm thick plate of MIL–A 12560 steel. While the exact hardness of this alloy is unknown, its suspected to be in the region of 381-442 brinell! Another source puts it at a more conservative 390 brinell. Striking at a velocity of just 793 mt/s, the M2 AP round succeeded in penetrating the MIL–A 12560 plate.

Brass Fetchers

793 mt/s is about the velocity that an M2 AP would have at 100 meters. With that in mind, we can compare its score to the M995 and M993 rounds. According to nammo, the M995 AP can pierce 12mm of steel at 100 meters, while the M993 AP can pierce 18mm of steel at 100 meters. Both of these plates are of 300 brinell hardness, which compares poorly to the 381-442 brinell plates the M2 AP was fired against. Given that even a small difference in plate hardness (as small as 50 brinell) can have a significant influence in whether or not a round penetrates, this should speak volumes about the power of a 30-06. Even without a tungsten core, it is superior to the M995, and not far behind the M993. [1] The fact that ceramic armors can withstand even one shot from these projectiles is impressive.
ESAPI plates

This was a test done 4 years ago by On Target Tactical. It involved a government-issue level IV plate (supposedly an ESAPI) being shot three times by an M1 garand from 10 yards. This is in accordance with military testing standards, and with the contract description for ESAPI. [2] But instead of the 168 grain M2 AP rounds that are typically used in level IV tests, the analysts used remington 165 grain core-lokt rounds. This is a soft point bullet with less penetrating power than an FMJ, never mind armor piercing. Of the three rounds fired at the ESAPI plate, one made a full penetration, which is a fairly shocking result. This test seemingly confirms the ESAPIs poor tolerance for multiple hits, especially if they strike in a tight grouping.

On Target Tactical

Some critics have attempted to claim that the plate was inserted backwards into the vest, but this is patently false. The front of the plate shows evidence of three hits, while the back shows evidence of just one, and thats the shot that perforated through both sides. Others have pointed out that ESAPIs are not stand alone capable, and must be used in conjunction with level IIIA soft armor. This is a valid point, and its not quite clear whether the vest in question (TPC tactical plate carrier from pantac usa) has kevlar panels built into it. But since the analysts weren't even using armor piercing rounds, it wouldn't make a major difference anyways. Clearly, ESAPI plates can be defeated with a full power rifle by using a double tap.

 Army plates are tested with a minimum spacing of 6 inchs.
If the rounds strike any closer together, the plate will crack

[1] Compared to the M995, it can penetrate the same thickness of harder steel at the same distance. Compared to the M993, it can penetrate a lesser thickness of harder steel at the same distance.

[2] According to wikipedia: “Military testing calls for survivability of three hits from the round marked on the plate - for standard SAPI, of a caliber up to 7.62×51mm NATO...” “Additionally, two ceramic plates may be added to the front and back of the vest, with each capable of stopping up to three hits from the round marked on the plate.”

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Zionists behind the migrant crisis

This is a pretty simple formula, but alot of people can't seem to grasp it. Israel (and its american puppet) are destabilising countrys in the middle east with their military interventions, and the inhabitants of those nations must then flee in order to survive. The zionists then use their moles inside the UN and EU to promote open border policys, allowing millions of ethnic minoritys to flood into racially pure european countrys. The middle eastern refugees have a completely different belief system, and despise the white people native to the countrys they take shelter in. They refuse to integrate with the rest of the community, setting up religious and racially based enclaves.

 Be afraid... Be very afraid
These quasi-legal immigrants preach hatred against the people whose welfare they live off, and institute a take over by baby boom (outbreeding the europeans). We are already seeing them overtake the natives of sweden, and the terrible consequences this has. But most europeans are too liberal or socialist minded to speak out against these travestys, and do mental gymnastics to avoid rationally looking at the consequences. Unless they stop these open border policys which are demographic suicide, then at some time in the future, there is going to be a race war and ethnic cleansings. Multi-cultrualism is a zionist agenda which has already failed the lithmus test, its just a question of how long before the common man realises it.

Relevant links

Edit: The massacres that occured in paris just 6 days after this post underscores just how unfeasible multi-culturalism is. The french people should have demanded an end to the open borders policy, and began deporting all middle-easterners without proper documentation (which is most of them). Instead, they are holding vigils and waving the #$%ing flag, like that willdo anything. They already had warning signs with the charlie hebdo killings, and now the truth is plainly apparent. If the french people do not begin punishing those politicians responsible for enabling the paris attacks, then they have no future. If france falls to the muslim hoardes, it will soon be followed by the rest of europe.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Armor overview

This article is an expansion on a previous essay. It will discuss the different types of armor materials, and cost-benefit analysis' that should be done before considering a purchase. There will also be some attention on the complex reasons why certain armor systems can be good in one role and poor in another.
What is the best armor material? This is a question that has been argued to death on every conceievable forum, from youtube to military blogs to the armor industry itself. However, this question has several issues itself, mainly the fact that there is no super material suited for all applications. Depending on use, armor materials can be selected to minimise weight, cost, and volume, while offering protection from a specific projectile. Police generally want light-concealable vests that are effective against handguns, while soldiers look to systems which are heavier and bulkier, but offer protection against rifles. While many people (especially those in harms way), would prefer to ignore the role of cost, it is a very important consideration. There are a plethora of materials available, and even more production techniques: In the end, both of these are subject to the amount of money a company wants to spend. Putting cost aside for now, we will examine the basics of armor materials and how they are fit to various applications. There are four general categories of material that one can use to classify and begin to characterize armors by: Metals, Ceramics, Polymers and Composites. Once assigned to a category, you can begin to make some generalized assumptions about the armor. For instance, ceramic armor will always be brittle due to structure effects inherent to ceramics, such as a low number of slip planes and high dislocation movement energy.

On the other side, polymers are typically used because they have high plastic strain abilities (not exactly the case for polyaramids like Kevlar) and high multi-hit capacity. Metals are a vast category which can really span either side of this, an annealed steel may offer high multi-hit capacity at significant strains whereas the same steel quenched to form full martensite may shatter on the first hit. Composites are hard to generalize due to the high variance of reinforcing methods and materials but this category usually contains MMC, CMC, FRP and FRR [1]. So if ceramics are so brittle, why does anyone use them? The answer to this question can be given by three properties: Weight, hardness, and energy dissipation. While it is true that ceramic plates undergo significant cracking after taking a hit, this is an anticipated effect and is actually one which saves the wearer from serious harm. The cracking of ceramics is a multi-step process which begins with cracks creating a plug [2]. This plug cannot leave the armor due to the backing on the plate, and is pinned in place to act as the impact interface for the bullet. During this interaction, the plug fractures to smaller and smaller pieces due to the extreme internal forces which dissipate energy from the bullet. However, even more energy is dissipated by fracturing outside the impact site, hence the massive cracks and seemingly large impact area on a ceramic plate.
 The types of armor failure
Without this extensive cracking energy, the bullet would remain focused on the impact interface and could potentially move through the back of the armor to perforation. This type of energy dissipation coupled to the low weight and high hardness required to deform hardened penetrators is something seen only in ceramics. Polymer armors are evolving to reach extremely high energy dissipation abilities but many of these systems still cannot stop the standard M2 AP required for NIJ Level IV certification, because they cannot deform and slow down such a large hardened projectile before perforation occurs. Metals can accomplish this but generally not without a large weight or volume penalty which is why ceramic mass efficiency can be as high as 3 times that of RHA (rolled homogenous armor). So with so many trade offs and properties, how do you choose the right material? As stressed before, that is a question that is entirely dependent upon application. We can use body armor (a relatively hot topic) to case study the way these various materials have been implemented.

Soft body armor

To start off, lets review some armor designs starting with plain woven vests. For obvious reasons we can define a plain ballistic vest as nothing more than a cloth vest rated to stop a range of projectiles, typically handgun rounds. Vest materials in the past were high strength cottons and silks but are now Kevlar, UHMWPE, or mixes of these two. For a brief period of time another polyaramid known under the trade name Zylon was being used, but after environmental failures were observed the material was banned by the NIJ. The structure of such vests are successive layers (30 to 40) of fibers in a tight 0/90 weave [3]. This design is reasonably flexible and acts as a super strong net for projectiles. The physics of this design can be broken down into a few easily explainable ideas. Kevlar is strong in the lateral and longitudinal direction, therefore, Kevlar vest requires a certain level of “give”. This is in regards to the properties of the fibers themselves, as they are strong in tension but not shear, so to utilise their strength, they must be able to flex or else they will be cut. Therefore when a bullet hits a vest, that portion of the vest is pushed back since it is not rigid, which allows the weave to reorient stress directions so that the majority of the fibers involved are being pulled and only a small area if actually being pushed against or sheared.

Resistance from these tensed fibers is what slows the projectile, and even with their enormous tensile strength, quite a few layers of Kevlar will be sheared before the bullet is arrested. This brings up the second idea which is effectiveness related to the applied shear stress. This issue manifests in several ways mainly velocity, bullet tip radius, and bullet material. The effect of velocity on applied shear should be somewhat obvious, higher impact velocities create higher interface stresses and higher shear stress means more fiber cutting, it also means fibers have less time to move so cutting can actually be further enhanced since there is less reorientation to the more favorable tensile direction and less material is engaged at faster events. Bullet tip radius defines the shear zone and larger radius bullets will create softer curvature for fibers and therefore decrease the shear stress. Bullet material also plays a large part in this: As can be seen on several Youtube videos of slow motion impacts into woven Kevlar, a bullet can experience a significant amount of plastic deformation or mushrooming during impact. This plastic deformation in a vest cannot be determined by the low strain rate generalization that a softer material will deform against a harder material since obviously most bullets are harder than Kevlar or UHMWPE [4]. So what is the cause of this deformation?
 The NIJ levels of protection
Well it relates to the flow strength in the bullet and the deceleration at the impact interface. When the bullet, which for a handgun can be going in excess of 425 m/s, hits the vest there is a rapid deceleration of the front of the bullet at the impact interface. However at high strain rates a projectile cannot always be modeled as perfectly rigid as is done in quasi-static loading. Instead one must account for a velocity difference between the front and back of the bullet, if the flow strength of the bullet is low enough (lead core, soft annealed steel, or copper) then the bullet will mushroom out, as the back of the bullet applies a compressive force toward the front due to its higher velocity. As mentioned earlier, mushrooming increases the effective bullet radius which can lower the applied shear stress and engage more fibers. But not all materials will do this, particularly hardened core penetrators such as hardened steel or tungsten carbide core bullets. This is one of the reasons why a bullet of the same caliber and roughly the same velocity will have a different effect on a vest depending on whether it is lead core or AP.

Hard body armor

The next stage of body armor, the hard plate, was developed in answer to the soft vests inability to stop rifle rounds for the reasons mentioned above (higher velocities and generally sharper ammunition). In early development, these consisted mostly of steel plates but have since evolved to include a somewhat extensive number of materials depending on the desired protection level. This is commonly where the debate between metal and ceramic comes into play as many people don’t like the lack of toughness associated with ceramic materials, however it is important to remember the positive properties of ceramics such as lower density and high hardness for increased efficiency against AP rounds. For the highest level of protection, level IV, a plate must stop between one and six rounds of M2 AP at 10 meters distance: At present, the only NIJ certified level IV plates are ceramic. The requirements are so stringent that polymer based hard plates can't make the cut. Although some companys advertise their plates as level IV after some distance (100 meters, 200 meters, etc), this is not an official NIJ certification and seems to be little more than a marketing ploy, as even a cardboard box could be level IV at a great enough distance.

To their credit, though, polymer plates are the lightest of the hard body armor, and have excellent multi-hit capability though this comes with an increased plate thickness. Metal plates for body armor are either steel or titanium with the only advantage of titanium being its somewhat lighter, although both are heavier than ceramic and polymer plates. Another important aspect of these plates is the back face deflection, for which ceramic and metal plates require some kind of trauma backing. Ceramic plates are almost always backed by composite FRR layer whereas metal plates are usually sold by themselves so while they appear less bulky at first glance, the addition of a trauma plate equals out the thickness difference. Many composite plates are produced in the same manner as ceramic plates and are generally not sold without reinforcement. So to decide which material is better requires defining certain operational parameters that really depend on expected use. Although some companies have boasted level IV ceramic plates that have multi-hit capacity of six shots (whereas military regulations require just three), these plates are still fragile and can become compromised if dropped or used incorrectly.

1. MMC is metal matrix composite. CMC is ceramic matrix composite. FRP is fiber reinforced plastic, this really includes any type of fiber used, common ones are carbon fiber, glass fiber, aramid fiber, and in some cases metal fibers. FRR is fiber reinforced resin, a term applied to fiber reinforcements in materials such as epoxy or urethane.

2. Plugging is when a section of material in front of a penetrator becomes separated from the bulk by internal free surfaces caused by shearing. Can be imagined as a free cylinder being punched out in front of the projectile.
3. 0/90 refers to a convention in composite engineering for defining how things are oriented, in this case 0/90 basically means there are fibers going horizontal and fibers going vertical so 0° and 90° or perpendicular fibers. This definition is important since layered structures can be very complex such as 0/45/-45/0.
3. The technical name for UHMWPE is ultra high molecular weight polyethylene. Essentially, its a form of polyethylene with extremely long polymer chains resulting in an increase in tensile strength do to the forces associated with chain sliding resistance such as friction and van der waals forces. Sold under the trade names spectra and dyneema.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Scale of intelligence

This is a simple rating system that makes use of domain thresholds. A domain is a cognitive landscape that defines what kind of thoughts an entity can articulate. For instance, non-sentient creatures cannot utter cogito ergo sum, while sentient creatures like humans can. This is because their minds work in fundamentally different ways, especially in the kinds of qualia they can experience. There are at least 3 domains that we know of: Non-sapient, sapient, and transapient. This scale will map out the territory exclusively within the sapient domain. At a minimum, all sapient beings are capable of using language, rationality, abstractness, and numeracy. They are self aware (to a varying degree), have object permanence and theory of mind.

This rating system will work under the assumption that the sapient domain has 3 different tiers, which can be classified as subhuman, human, and superhuman. The reliance on anthropomorphism is a necessary evil: Since humans are the smartest species on planet earth, we set the benchmark on what is cognitively achievable. Of these 3 tiers, each will have a further 3 sub-tiers, which encompass the full range of traits found among sapient beings. Remember that the difference between individuals of the same tier is rather small, while the difference between individuals of different tiers is huge. In the interest of simplicity, this scale will only use fictional characters.

Three tiers of the sapient domain,
which each have three sub-tiers

Subhuman tier
-Defining traits: These individuals are dimly self aware (I.E, they can perceive themselves). They are intelligent enough to create societys, and use proto-linguistics. They can coordinate attacks against individuals or small groups, similar to how chimpanzees will chase and funnel monkeys into a trap. But organised mass violence against other large groups (with specific maneuvers) is beyond their ability.
-Low subhuman: Lassie. Godzilla.
-Mid subhuman: Flipper. King Kong. Alien Queen.
-High subhuman: Jara-Hamee. Bizarro. The Hulk.

Human tier
-Defining traits: These individuals are fully self aware (I.E, they can perceive their thoughts about themselves). They are intelligent enough to create planetary civilisations, and use linguistics. They have the cognitive skills needed to organise large scale war against other groups, though their inability to account for chaos results in poor execution.
-Low human: Peter Griffin. Homer Simpson. Forrest Gump.
-Mid human: Most fictional characters.
-High human: Elfangor, Aximili. Sherlock Holmes. Peter Parker. Albus Dumbledore. Spock.

Superhuman tier
-Defining traits: These individuals are recursively self aware (I.E, they can perceive their thoughts being perceived by themselves). They are intelligent enough to create solar civilisations, and use auxo-linguistics. They have the cognitive skills needed to organise large scale war against other groups, and turn out perfect performances every time.
-Low superhuman: Elfangor, Aximili, when operating the time matrix. Adam. Reed Richards. Leon Greco, 2nd ampule treatment.
-Mid superhuman: The Doctor. Admiral Thrawn. Professor X. Leon Greco, 3rd ampule treatment.
-High superhuman: The Ellimist, after defeating Father. Brainiac. Dr Manhatten. The Primagen. Leon Greco, 4th ampule treatment.


Blue is for characters from the marvel franchise. Red is for characters from the animorphs franchise. Most of the other names on this list are self evident: Those who aren't will have a green link.

Leon Greco is the main character from Ted Chiangs novel: Understand. Through progressive surgical treatments with a substance called 'hormone k', he gradually became more and more intelligent.

The Primagen is the main villain from Turok 2. He was an explorer from an ancient civilisation (possibly the first born), who built a star ship the size of city. The Primagens voyage opened a rip in space time and created the lost land.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Modern army vs WW2 army (update)

So, it looks like my original article on this subject has become quite popular. Published on May 18 2012, the purpose was to determine what a conventional conflict between a modern army and a WW2 army would look like. A few months ago, it was featured on two popular websites ( and, and generated alot of discussion. But thats about where the good news ends. You see, my article was copied and pasted ad lib by someone going by the name of Lee_Beer and blackadam: He distributed my work without disclosing who the author was, and essentially claimed them as his own. If he had done that on some archive, it would have been annoying enough. But no, he went the extra mile and posted it in a goddamn debate thread! Let me tell you: Whenever some anonymous shithead distributes my articles in a place like that, without giving a source, it pisses me off. I didn't find out about this shenanigans until a few weeks ago, but once I did, I started reading the responses to it. To a mixture of amusement and frustration, I learned that a gang of debunkers had attempted to refute my claims. If they knew who had actually wrote these articles, they may have thought twice before committing such a blunder.

Though I haven't mentioned it on this blog, one of my favourite hobbys is online debating. I am a well known pwnage artist on youtube, having carved out a bloody path there for more than 4 years. When people try to debunk my work, they will get one of two possible reactions. If they are professional and respectful, they will get a professional and respectful response. But if they use crappy arguments and act like douche bags, guess whats gonna happen? I'm going to beat them like a red headed step child! My problem is never with the fact that people disagree with me, but merely the manner in which they choose to do so. I have no patience for idiotic lolcows who think they can dismiss my arguments with laughter or incredulity: To mock is not to debunk. Some of the sharpest criticisms I encountered came from the babies, who seemed to believe that because modern forces have more advanced technology, that they are guaranteed to win. In other words, they are exactly the kind of audience I had in mind when I wrote misconceptions about warfare. Most of their responses were techno babble or outright nonsense, and some of them came within a hair of refuting each other.

The majority showed no understanding of combat power, tactics, operational art, or strategy. It was an almost myopic focus on the exchange of bullets and shells, the supremacy of passive reconnaissance, or the exaggerated effects of airpower. They were so busy fantasising over what the modern forces would do, they failed to give any consideration for how the WW2 force would respond. It was obvious why this crowd was widely regarded as the biggest group of military morons there was on the internet. A couple of the debunkers seemed to realise that this conflict would not favor the modern side very much, and tried to turn it into an air or even naval conflict! That alone was one of the most retarded, transparent attempts at shifting the goalposts that I have witnessed. The entire subject of my post (outlined in the title) was about an army vs another army, not a #$%^ing navy! So without further ad due, I'm going to defend the claims made in my original article, and give these fools an abject lesson in humiliation. This won't be a response to each and every naysayer on (since dozens of people eventually weighed in with their two cents), but only to those who actually attempted a full debunking.
Authors note: The name of my opponents and their arguments will be listed in bold, while my rebuttal will be listed directly afterwards without bolding. Hopefully, this will make for a less monotonous read, and avoid the nuisances of a wall of text... The most popular match up seemed to be the german army of 1944 (numbering 7 million men) against the american army of 2012 (numbering 750,000 men), so we'll stick with that theme.
As you'll soon see, this sums 
up my opponents pretty well 

Peptuck: I'm just stuck here imagining how horrible it would be for a WWII army to deal with a couple of flights of AC-130s circling overhead outside the range of anything they can shoot it with, in the middle of the night, calmly annihilating anything with wheels with total and complete impunity after the jet fighters and Stingers have swatted everything that can fly out of the sky.

The AC-130s would be good at their designated role, but don't fool yourself into thinking they'd be immune to counter fire. German divisions came standard equipped with a dozen or more 88mm anti-aircraft guns: There was a similar pattern among all the other major combatants of WW2, americans with their 90mm, british with their 94mm, and russians with their 85mm. [1] The maximum altitude an AC-130 can engage from is 6000 meters, but standard altitudes vary from 3600 meters to 2000 meters. Hence even at their maximum engagement altitude, the gunships would be well within the range of 88mm flak, which have an effective ceiling of 8000 meters. Even at night time and without radar, barrage fire (the simplest of 3 firing patterns) can be used to deter them. Another thing to keep in mind: Prior to 2014, the AC-130 fleet numbered 37 planes. There were 8 of the AC-130H, 17 of the AC-130U, and 12 of the AC-130W. Thats not exactly an abundance of airframes...

Peptuck: ....I'm actually not entirely sure. I'm pretty sure that they'd be able to take out the flak before it detects them, because modern Wild Weasel/SEAD would so utterly ruin WWII radar that any flak would be operating entirely by sight, and the AC-130s would be coming at night. I could be wrong, though, as I'm not 100% sure how WWII anti-air operated.

Who is going to carry out counter-battery operations against AA guns? Are you implying the AC-130s will do it themselves?! Heavy flak battalions have their own gun-laying radars, which are only active during the course of an engagement, and are frequently moved along with the unit (which is mobile, not static). You aren't going to be able to determine their location beforehand for SEAD to take them out, instead, the jets will need to babysit the AC-130s during their missions for guaranteed protection. Even though they'll be badly needed elsewhere, fighting for air supremacy and whatnot... And even without their radar, the 88mms still pose a threat. Anti-aircraft batterys have sophisticated range finders, searchlights, and sound detectors that can help them zero in on a big noisy plane like the AC-130. To suggest that the gunships could immediately go to work on the ground forces without putting themselves at great risk is dishonest, especially if this is later in the war when the doppelz├╝nder fuse became available. According to kenneth p. werrell, this increased their lethality against bomber formations by a factor of five.

Dark Voice: Modern day infantry is nowhere near World War II-era infantry. The M16A4 has an effective firing range of 600 meters for point targets and 800 meters for area targets. It fires 5.56x45mm NATO at a muzzle velocity of 950 meters per second. Compared to that, the World War II M1 carbine has an effective combat range of 270 meters and has significant bullet drop past 180 meters. It also fires a smaller round at about 65% the muzzle velocity.

Really, is it the infantry that are nowhere near the same level, or merely the weapons that they use? Be careful not to conflate the two: A good soldier can compensate for bad equipment, but good equipment cannot compensate for a bad soldier! And why are you comparing service rifles with carbines? They aren't intended to fulfil the same role (the former is a weapon for infantry, while the latter is a weapon for support troops), so doing stuff like that just comes off as dishonest. In any case, soldiers rarely use firearms for encounters beyond 300 meters, so the M16s extra range goes to waste. Both weapons are semi-automatic, and the rate of fire is limited only by how fast the trigger can be pulled.

Dark Voice: The M1 Garand fires a slightly larger round (62 rain 5.56 vs 150 grain .30-06) at 850 meters per second with an effective combat range of 460 meters. Both the M1 Garand and M16A4 deliver nearly the same kinetic energy per shot; the difference is that the M16 has nearly double the effective combat range and much faster rate of fire.

First off, since when is 150 grains only 'slightly larger' than 62 grains? You aren't even listing the standard ammo used by the M1 garand, which weighed 174 grains. Second, your assertion that 5.56x45mm and 7.62x63mm deliver nearly the same kinetic energy is pure, unadulterated bullshit. The M855 ball has a mass of 62 grains and a velocity of 940 mt/s, giving it a KE of 1767 joules. The M1 ball has a mass of 174 grains and a velocity of 805 mt/s, giving it a KE of 3661 joules. Therefore, the M1 ball has 107% more kinetic energy than the M855 ball, not 'nearly the same.' Did you really think that claim would fly?!

Dark Voice: Body armor (more specifically, Kevlar) would be a massive boon in a World War II battlefield, which is filled with low-energy individual bullets instead of the high explosive IEDs that troops have come to love.

Body armor won't protect soldiers from full power rifle ammunition. ESAPI plates are not standalone capable, and even with its IOTV plate carrier, it is not rated to withstand 7.62x63mm AP. Most people aren't aware of the fact that the army doesn't adhere to NIJ standards. Hence, unsubstantiated claims about ESAPI being rated for level IV are not only illogical, but in contradiction with field tests: These reveal that it cannot withstand even regular 7.62x63mm ammunition. [2] (Also, notice the manipulative wording he uses here: Low energy bullets, as compared to high explosives. Dark Voice is trying to subtly shift peoples opinions through word play)

Dark Voice: I don’t know where you’re getting the nonsense that one bullet impact is enough to render a soldier useless; more than likely, a soldier with Kevlar would be able to tank a few World War II rifle rounds before causing serious internal injury.

Bulletproof vests are rated not only for how well they stop penetration, but also for how well they limit blunt force trauma - the diffused energy of the bullet transferred through the vest to the body. The NIJ specifys an allowable backface signature of 44mm, as a safety threshold that should not be exceeded. But once again, the army doesn't adhere to NIJ standards. The interceptor and IOTV line of body armor are known to be unsafe in this regard, since the army raised the allowable backface signature to 48mm during testing. None of this is going to matter, though, since 7.62x63mm rounds will penetrate clear through the #$%^ing vest! (Humorously, Dark Voice doesn't seem to know what type of body armor the military issues: He makes it sound like they use kevlar by itself, oblivious to the fact that virtually any centerfire rifle ammo will penetrate soft body armor)

Dark Voice: World War II troops would get utterly annihilated at night when they cannot see or move or even communicate without being found. Thanks to the advent of SIGINT, any and all radio transmissions made by antique World War II radios would be instantly pulled out of the air and read by whatever military commander is in charge of this massacre; the modern day army would know the commands probably before the actual recipients do.

WW2 armys would be at a real disadvantage in night combat, but whether or not that applys to SIGINT as well isn't clear. [3] Any information gained through that route will have reduced impact, because it must pass through headquarters that are larger and slower than the downtimers HQ (who can act on intelligence faster, and issue orders to subordinates with less delay). They were not encumbered with a planning cycle which required staff members to filter through information, confer with a planning officer, and then present it to the commander. In WW2, a german divisional HQ could respond to a counterattack in an average of 10 minutes. Today, a british divisional staff needs ten times as long (!) to respond to a counterattack. And before you start bloviating about the effect that jamming would have, remember that armys back then were less reliant on radio communications, especially at lower levels: It was just as likely that they would use telephone lines, messengers, signal lamps, flares, or smoke.

Dark Voice: I highly, highly, highly, highly doubt a 75mm cannon would penetrate the frontal or even side armor of an M1A1. A single tank column would be utterly unstoppable except to airstrikes, and that’s what we have F-16s for.

No one claimed that 75mm rounds could pierce an M1A1 abrams from the front, so calm your ass down. In the european theater of war, allied tanks were knocked out from the sides more often than the front, so lets give some attention where it is due. Unofficially, the abrams has armor rated at 240-350mm on the turret side, and 90-160mm on the hull side. [4] This is quite difficult for a WW2 era tank to deal with, but not impossible. In fact, because of the huge arms race and short development cycles back then, tank crews were often forced to do battle with superior vehicles. The british and americans were frequently behind the curve with their tanks, which inspired them to use fire and maneuver in order to gain a tactical advantage. In theory, a 75mm gun could pierce the abrams hull side from medium range. An 88-90mm gun can penetrate it from long range, and could also pierce the abrams turret side from short range. One shot kills are a possibility.

Dark Voice: There is absolutely no way in hell anything from World War II on the ground is busting open a modern day MBT with the exception of heavy artillery; and this heavy artillery would be subject to immediate counter-battery fire and controlled airstrikes.

Really, you don't think stacked land mines could cripple or destroy an MBT? How about satchel charges, thermite grenades, anti-tank grenades, or a flame thrower over the radiator grill? In any case, you are suffering from tunnel vision: The main role of a tank isn't merely to destroy other armored vehicles. According to george patton: “The tanks purpose is to bring machine-guns to bear on the enemys unprotected rear, using speed and surprise.” Their whole raison d'etre is to punch through the enemys front lines, wreak havoc among their rear echelons, and riddle everything in sight with cannon fire. Thing is, the M1A1 abrams has just 40 rounds of ammo for the main gun, and these are only APFSDS and HEAT rounds, which are useless against infantry and buildings. These MBTs are no examplar of combined arms tactics: In fact, they are one trick ponys which don't present much of a threat to anything other than a tank. This means that M2 bradleys and M1126 strykers are going to be doing most of the grunt work, and they can be easily destroyed on a battlefield filled with anti-tank guns. Its quite possible that the abrams could have their infantry and engineer support peeled away by cannon fire, and end up isolated from their reserves until they run out of ammo or fuel.

Dark Voice: Another key component is mobility: World War II-era tanks frequently got stuck and had a far inferior center of weight compared to modern day MBTs. An Abrams would be able to travel where a Sherman would get stuck and do it faster.

The mobility of the abrams is probably the most over hyped feature of this massively over hyped vehicle. The armys own studies indicate that at speeds greater than about 25 mph, tank crews basically move faster than they can see whats in front of them, especially in closed terrain. The abrams 10 mph speed advantage over other MBTs was rarely used in combat, and had the disadvantage of consuming enormous amounts of fuel. It has no high explosive rounds, no multi-channel radio, no tank-infantry telephone, a poor field of view, and a scaldingly hot engine exhaust, making it a poor choice for combined arms operations. Also, there is a difference between tactical and strategic mobility. German tanks excelled at the former, while american and russian tanks excelled at the latter. The panther and tiger 1-2 had broad tracks, torsion bar suspension, neutral steering, and an excellent length to width ratio. But on the other hand, the sherman and T-34 were mechanically reliable, easy to repair, had excellent range, and were light enough to cross most bridges.

Dark Voice: There is also range. Most World War II tank battles occurred at visual range. In modern-day tank combat, everything happens at 4-6 or even 8 kilometers away, where the first one to see the enemy wins. The computer takes care of the targeting and the commander picks off targets like a sniper. In a hypothetical modern vs WW2 scenario, the World War II force would get devastated by a foe that can hit them from beyond visual range while backtracking at far greater speed than they are capable of. In other words, they would get wiped out before even seeing their enemy.

Actually, the longest range that an MBT has ever scored a kill from was 5.1 km: This was made by a challenger tank during the gulf war, at a time when most kills were made from a distance of 3 km or under. Moreover, you neglect to mention that unless they are fighting in the desert or the steppes (where lines of sight are always long), MBTs may not have the option of simply picking off enemy tanks from standoff range: They might find themselves involved in meeting engagements or battles of maneuver. [5] In the european theater of war, allied tanks were knocked out at an average distance of under 800 yards. The terrain is congested enough that a sherman or panzer 4 (led by a skilled crew) could creep up on an abrams and take a shot at the sides and rear. Short engagement ranges would be much preferred by the WW2 force, since it would give them a better chance at piercing an MBTs incredible armor. Also, one should not forget that modern tanks are full of shot traps, or that old style AP rounds had a tendancy to deflect off armored surfaces at weird angles, sometimes causing them to jam into the turret ring or roof of the hull.

 Blue is the modern force, red is the WW2 force. Red has 
7 million men in a line, and blue has 750,000 men in four
isolated pockets. How does blue avoid getting outflanked?

Nuts!: But hey, let's assume that two military formations are dumped into the Fulda Gap a couple-hundred miles of each other and told to wipe out the other if they want to go home. The modern military force will have a pretty good idea of what their enemies are do long before they get close, because drones are practically ubiquitous in modernized military forces from the squad level up. The Mark I eyeball coupled to the Mark II spotlight has only a tiny chance of seeing a Reaper buzzing around at night, and hell, a Reaper can literally fly higher than WWII fighters could even reach.

It sounds like you are looking at this from a more strategic viewpoint. While this creates opportunitys for theater missiles and JSTARS craft (to observe and bombard concentration points), it also means some really unpleasant things can happen when the two sides actually close with each other. Because of the quantitative and qualitative differences between them, they don't deploy into combat the same. As pointed out by sven ortmann: “Fortified, static front lines as in much of WWI and WWII are impossible in almost all modern warfare scenarios, though. The German, French and Soviet armies of WW2 consisted of a few highly mobile divisions and about 85-95% foot-mobile infantry divisions. The latter formed the static front lines while the mobile forces prepared for the next mobile warfare phase. Todays armies are smaller versions of the mobile forces, with no bulk of slow infantry divisions.” Because the modern force cannot maintain a continuous front line, they would be outflanked by the WW2 army as soon as they move to contact, which would leave them at constant risk of encirclement. Do you understand why its in the moderns best interests to avoid strategic level engagements? There would be salients so large, it would make kursk look miniscule by comparison!

Nuts!: The modern force will see what their enemies are doing. They'll form a plan and disseminate it rapidly, because they've got a much more robust communications net and operators who've trained for years specifically to handle information transfer. They'll be able to move at a pace the WWII forces won't be able to believe, not just because of how much faster their vehicles are, but how much more reliable they are. The Sherman was a powerful tank in the 1940s because a unit of Shermans could expect to have 3/4ths of them running on any given day, and that's the best of the lot!

Your making the assumption that the modern forces HQ staff are omniscient. In reality, they depend on dedicated reconnaissance assets just as the WW2 forces did. Your infatuation with passive recce (reapers, JSTARS, etc) is typical of military morons. [6] To reconnoiter an enemy force through observation alone is an uncertain and time consuming process, regardless of whether it is done from the ground or air. In a highly mobile theater of war, the scouts generally aren't able to provide intelligence in a relevant time frame. And even when they do pass on usable intel, it goes straight to corps or divisional HQs and circulates there, rarely being transmitted to brigade leaders and their subordinates. This organisational failure nearly caused a crisis at the battle of karbala gap, when three iraqi brigades moved across the desert virtually undetected to repel an american battalion, which was trying to cross the euphrates river and capture saddam international airport. Also, a formations agility is determined less by the speed of individual vehicles and more by the size of the formation itself. Coordinating the march of thousands of different vehicles both on and off road (while navigating traffic jams, and stopping for fuel and maintenance) is an inherantly slow process. The german 2nd panzer division advanced from sedan to the english channel in may 1940 at about 45 km per day. The american 3rd infantry division advanced from an najaf to baghdad in march 2003 at about 50 km per day. Eerily similar.

Nuts!: A modern force can see their enemy with impunity, can communicate in ways a WWII-era force literally cannot duplicate, ("Targeting datalinks? Around here, that means 'I yell at the guys with the 105mm cannons to hit the same gridsquare on the map as us.'") and can move at a pace they can't even hope to match. While the WWII forces are still stumbling around trying to make contact, a modern force is already on the move with a plan to carry out.

The modern forces great superiority in communications are hampered by large and complex headquarters. Since the beginning of the cold war, when the preference for thorough intelligence and meticulous planning became popular, HQs have grown in size and been run by higher ranking officers. They collect enormous amounts of information and take hours to sift through it all, deliberate, and come to a decision. Theres no indication that any of this extra information helps them make better judgements: Because of cognitive bias, commanders will only latch onto a few pieces of information and ignore all the rest. Also, these HQ protocols greatly increase manpower requirements. In WW2, a british divisional HQ was comprised of 51 officers (german HQs had 38 officers, while american HQs had 79 officers). Today, a british divisional HQ is comprised of 160 officers. Thats a growth of over three fold. At best, this increases the amount of overhead and paperwork to be done. At worst, this makes them completely unable to keep up with the pace of battle, and powerless to issue timely orders to their subordinates.
NUTS!: They'll blast a hole in enemy lines with tube and rocket artillery firing at ranges which prevent the enemy from firing back, (assuming they even could) then fill that gaping gap in the enemy's lines with a horde of tanks and IFVs. They'll have MBTs running around shooting up supply convoys and rearguard units while the enemy command is still trying to figure out WTH just happened to a half-mile stretch of their forces.

Both sides are going to be doing this to each other, because one sides advantage in quantity will be balanced out by the other sides advantage in quality. This conflict won't be some one sided curbstomp on either end. While the modern forces will undoubtedly have a better loss-exchange ratio, they won't be as able to weather attrition since they are so much smaller to begin with. This matter is also influenced by organisation and morale, as the german army of WW2 had so amply demonstrated. Statistically, most divisions would break after experiencing 5-15% losses, but some of the waffen SS divisions managed to keep fighting after 40% losses (!). And even when formations were shattered, they were not pulled out of the line and slowly reformed: Instead, the personnel were drafted together with other survivors into improvised battlegroups called alarmeinheiten for immediate action, which helped to alleviate manpower shortages.

Mjolnir66: This is so wrong its unbelievable. At night, I can operate and engage out to 400m due to night vision. The WW2 soldier can't engage past maybe 100m on a really clear night. I can operate like its day at 100m on a low light, overcast night. This is a battle winning advantage. This is before we even go to thermal.

No one denys the transformative effect of night vision devices. They drastically increase a soldiers vision regardless of light conditions, allowing them to better navigate the terrain and effectively fire at targets. Its not much of an exaggeration to say that night combat hasn't been the same since their introduction. So how did WW2 armys operate without it? They relied on search lights, flare guns, and starshell. The number and location of illumination posts prior to a battle were important factors. [7] Tanks and artillery also used gunsights with illuminated reticles, which gave some improvement at observing and acquiring targets at night. The modern force would definitely have an advantage on the defense, since their night vision devices allow them to penetrate the cover of darkness and bring accurate fire onto the enemy. But if they go onto the attack, it could be a different story. They can still be exposed by starshell and blinded by smoke screens. In closed terrain, the enemy doesn't need NVGs to take a heavy toll on the modern force. This much was proven in the battle of dak to, when american attacks on hill 823 and hill 875 were stalled by viet cong ambushs and night infiltration.

Mjolnir66: Lightweight equipment is a major game changer, it means I can take more ammo, while also taking more food and water to survive longer without being resupplied. Imagine it this way, a full days food for me weighs 1kg. That a 4000cal, nutritionally balanced day too, and that in itself helps endurance. You have a soldier who can survive with no resupply for 3 days with just the kit he's carrying on him.
Thats all well and good, but like the saying goes, 100 lbs of lightweight equipment still weighs 100 lbs. Its not humanly possible to carry that much gear without negatively impacting ones agility and endurance. According to phil west: “Soldiers are now carrying far more weight than the men of the 1940s and 50s. Equipment such as body armour and NBC gear are partially responsible, but the main reason is that troops are carrying everything they might need rather what they are most likely to need.” The overloading of foot soldiers that we see today is an acute leadership failure... As for the bit about rations, try to remember that back in the 1930s, the germans were using dextrose, the swiss were using high fat chocolate, while the japanese used ordinary rice. You cannot pack caloric value much denser than that, even for astronaut food.

Mjolnir66: Then you have the body armour. 90% of the areas that would mean death before a medic can see you are now covered and relatively safe from both shrapnel and bullets. A hit to the plates is not just survivable, but is an "injury" you can continue to fight with. I have a friend who took a 2 round burst from 7.62R at something like 10 to 20m range to the same spot on his plate and apart from being knocked to the ground, was none the worse for wear. I know 2 people who's helmets saved them from being shot in the head. Modern protective equipement drops casualties something like 90% over an unarmoured soldier.

Your right. Body armor is much more relevant from the strategic viewpoint than anything else. When widely issued to soldiers, it allows an army to better resist attrition and sustain its manpower over the course of a long campaign. Body armor wasn't created so that troops could run around with reckless abandon and gun sling with the enemy: Its purpose is to prevent a soldier from becoming a write off whenever he gets hit, and give him a chance to recover and fight another day. Too many people equate body armor with invulnerability to bullets, forgetting the fact that there are no guarantees in a fight.

Mjolnir66: Armour penetration is something 5.56 has a massive advantage over older rounds in. And 7.62 is basically .30 06 updated anyway, except as a better designed round. Its not some OCP for the modern troops. And we don't need flame throwers and infantry guns. A Carl Gustav, or RPO is a much better option than either, while being much easier to move around.

This is obviously untrue, 5.56x45mm has no advantage in armor penetration over 7.62x63mm. Even the M995 round cannot out penetrate the venerable M2, despite the benefit of a tungsten (rather than steel) core. A flamethrower has the advantage of burning everything along its trajectory, whereas incendiary projectors like the RPO and FLASH detonate at a preset distance, with a small burst radius. And thats not even taking into account the psychological effects: The suppressive firepower of a flamethrower is simply enormous (even when used in short bursts), and their discharges can create large clouds of smoke and blind the enemy. Its a weapon of terror that has no equal. RPO and FLASH may be lighter, and have a longer range, but there are some features of a flamethrower they are just not capable of duplicating.

Mjolnir66: A single 1000 man armoured battlegroup would easily chew through a WW2 division. When even your IFVs can kill the heaviest tanks your opponent has, then things are a little one sided. The biggest limitation on the modern forces is how fast they can resupply ammunition.

Like your friends, you refuse to acknowledge that modern forces have no dedicated anti-tank formations. What they have instead are an assortment of anti-armor weapons, scattered throughout the brigade at various levels: They aren't grouped into a relevant command structure which provides area denial capability. Therefore, a WW2 army would still be able to overun them with a column of tanks, especially if they approach from the flanks. Because of their tooth to tail ratio and dependency on major weapon systems (as opposed to masses of infantrymen), modern forces have poor all-round security: They rely on MBTs and artillery munitions for defense. Both the M198 and M777 howitzers have a traverse of just 800 mils, equal to 45 degrees. What if the battery gets an out-of-arc fire call? If the howitzer is resting on blacktop, it can take 3 minutes to turn the M777 on its wheels and face it in another direction. If its resting on uneven soil, this procedure can take more than 10 minutes. That limits it ability to respond to emergent threats on the battlefield.

 At brigade level and above, this is where
the modern forces are truly vulnerable
So that pretty much destroys the main arguments put forward by the lolcows. There were other claims that I did not even bother responding to, as they were obviously false and refuted by other forum goers. The biggest example would be Dark Voices absurd claim that it would take no more than twenty F-16 fighters to annihilate a thousand bomber raid, or that field howitzers could be used to effectively engage propeller aircraft (seriously, WTF?). It was stupidity on top of dishonesty. But there were some highlights.
One of the debunkers (a guy by the name of Apocal) had some very good insights about the difference in artillery capabilitys, and conducted himself in a much more professional manner than his peers. His points are well taken, and I would be happy to see more comments in this vein. Interestingly enough, there were numerous people who suggested that my original article had been inspired by the worldwar series. That was a good guess, but wrong: My motivation came from the axis of time trilogy.

A note to the babies: The next time you think you can tear into an article as well researched as mine was, do an online search to see who the author is. Instead of bayoneting a scarecrow, find out whether it was copied from somewhere else. You might save yourself some embarrassment. And if any of you have a problem with the things I said here, then step up to the plate: My comments section is open to anyone!
P.S: In case theres any doubt about the source of the original article, just check the time stamps: I published it on my blog on May 18 2012, and began receiving comments on July 17, 2012. The thread on did not start until November 11, 2014, more than 2 1/2 years after my work was published. I'd say thats pretty much a closed case.


[1] Theres some confusion on this subject, one source indicates that 88mm flak battalions were normally attached to armies or corps (and not to divisions).
[2] Military tests require three rounds to be fired in a tight grouping from 10 to 15 meters, and these conditions were fairly represented in the trials.

[3] If you focus solely on the ability to decode their radio messages, then modern forces are on no better footing than the allys during WW2. ULTRA was cracking the enigma code on a daily basis, so the main difference would simply be the speed at which the information is distributed down the chain of command.

[4] Another set of estimates come from, which conclude with measurements posted at They rate its LOS armor thickness as so: 300mm for the turret sides, 200mm on the hull sides, and 75mm on the rear.

[5] Anyone who thinks this conflict will be a repeat of the gulf war is laughably delusional. The iraqi army of 1991 was greatly inferior to the german army of 1944 in every regard except technology. They had poor initiative, poor command staffs, poor training, no inter-branch cooperation, etc.

[6] He also makes the error of assuming that these recon planes can loiter anywhere they want without being seen. Even if you take radar out of the equation, there were numerous types of infrared systems like adlergerat that could detect bombers at night.
[7] The WW2 force would need to have continuous illumination to successfully defend against a modern force. Listening posts, trip flares, and mines could provide advance warning of an attack, but without illumination from parachute flares, they won't be able to accurately engage.