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What would you do if a perfect stranger stopped by your house, gave you a bag containing a million dollars, said to you, "Take it, it's yours", and then walked away?Did you know that a million dollars in U.S. currency weighs just ten kilograms? It's true. A freshly-minted $100 bill weighs in at slightly over a gram, and 100 of them is ten thousand dollars. 100 of those stacks, and there's your million.It’s not often that 10 kilograms - 22 lbs of anything can change your life. But on February 25th, 2014, that’s exactly what happened. Day 1: $1,000,000 As the man in the gray suit walks away, I shout after him “Hey, come back here. Who are you? What’s this all about?” He does not look back and quickens his pace. Between the choice of chasing down a stranger, or securing what appeared to be stacks of currency, I chose the currency. We can resolve the issue of his identity later, but a loose sack of cash is, well, a loose sack of cash. I look through the contents again. Bundles of US$100 bills, stacked a hundred bills deep, wrapped in standard $10,000 bank bands. A quick count revealed that there were precisely a hundred of those stacks in the bag, and spot-check riffle-counts of the $10k bands suggest that there are no short-stacks within. These were full bands of $10,000 apiece of non sequential USD$100 bills, and I was holding what appears to be a million even in cash. And it feels like just as many question are swirling in my head, as I feel my pulse pounding in my skull. Who was that guy? Why me? What is this all about? But the most urgent thoughts swim past the dizzying deluge of unanswerable questions. Fakes. It’s one thing to inadvertently be the recipient of counterfeit currency; as you’re reading this very sentence, a clerk at a retail store somewhere in your city just accepted a counterfeit bill and made change from the real money in the till. But to be in possession of a life-changing amount of counterfeit currency of the United States of America? Well, that’s sort of thing that can bring the full might and wrath of their law enforcement apparatus on your head. My emotions swing wildly between the elation of instantaneous wealth, and sheer terror that I was minutes away from being snatched from my home and corralled into a Federal holding cell, where I will grow old within its walls. Terror was the stronger of the two emotions, and I quickly went to work. First things first: the bag had to go. If there is a GPS tracking device embedded in its seams, it would take too long for me to root it out. Better to incinerate it, and make sure that whatever trail it was laying stops at a dead-end for its pursuers. I pour the stacks of bills into an empty duffle back from my garage, and lock the bag in my condo. There’s an abandoned marina just a mile from my home and I get in my car and drive straight to the docks, at the top of the posted speed limit. After pouring enough Kerosene on the bag to see the shimmering mist of petroleum evaporate above it, I lit a book of matches and threw it in the middle of the mass. A satisfying “Whoomph” lights up the fire, and I watch the edges of the bag curl and burn - sizzling in the midmorning sun. As the remnants of the bag’s embers swirl around the scorched mark on the docks, I drive back to my condo, pulse still pounding in my skull.I still haven’t figured out if the bills are real or not, but if this morning’s bag-drop was an attempt to pin a piece of deeply incriminating evidence bearing a tracking device … well that plan has been thwarted. Or delayed, at the very least. What do I do? What should I do? Call the authorities? Consider how it would sound: “Hi, Police? Somebody dropped a million dollars in cash at my home. I don’t know if it’s fake or not. Please help.” Would you believe such a ridiculous story? I wouldn't. Any reasonable law enforcement dispatcher would consider the caller legally insane, and I'd be arrested on the spot and sent to psychiatric care. If the money was real, it’d be seized and I'll never see it or spend it. If it was fake, they’d find a way to stick “possession of counterfeit currency” charge on me, and I'll be shoved into a Federal concrete box, draining the best years of my life away, only to be released when I can’t chew solid food any more. No. The only recourse is to handle this myself. I call an old college friend practicing criminal defense law in New York City: “Hey Roger, it’s Kai. How’ve you been?” “I'm cool. It's been a while. What’s up man.” “We should catch up soon in person. But I’m calling because I need something.” “Ok, shoot.” I swallow hard - it’s difficult to even say the words: “Who’s the best CrimDef lawyer you know in California, who defends against Federal charges?” A moment. His voice lowers noticeably. “Shit, man. You in some kind of trouble?” “I’m not sure yet.” I said, truthfully. “But I need someone experienced and smart ... someone who you’d hire, if you’re facing serious attention from the Feds." He lets out a long exhale. “Vincent King. Former rockstar DOJ prosecutor in D.C. Had a change of heart halfway through his rotation in Maryland, when he was securing Life sentences for “interstate drug transportation” charges on young Black kids who were busted muling for the cartels. Was offered a fast-track promotion straight to the U.S. Attorney’s office but went rogue. He set up independent shop in San Francisco, fighting Fed cases. Heavy hitter clients, but makes a point of refusing to represent anyone accused of murder or human trafficking. Intimate knowledge of Federal prosecutorial procedures and evidence-collection protocol. Smart. Methodical. Very expensive.” “Perfect.” “I did mention ‘very expensive?’” “You did.” “I’ll send his contact information now.” =================================“I’m sorry - Mr. King is in court all day and won’t be back in the office. His earliest appointment is tomorrow morning after a client meeting. Shall I book him for 11am for you?” “Yes, thank you Marta.” “We’ll see you tomorrow at 11 then.” I look at the digital clock in my kitchen - it reads 10:44am. Just me and a stack of bills which may or may not be fake, no formal legal representation for over 24 hours. It’s going to be a long day. Taking even a few of these bills to a bank to corroborate their authenticity is out of the question. If a bank officer confirms they are fraudulent, I’ll be arrested on the spot, and since I haven’t hired counsel, I’d be at the mercy of the Public Defender’s Office - the most overworked and underpaid division of the American Criminal Justice system. No, thank you. The next number I dial is an old friend, Robert Kendrick, sole proprietor of ‘Secher Nbiw - The Golden Path,’ a gold bullion dealer with a whimsical Dune reference in the name of his shop. I’ve known Robert for over a decade; his business deals in large amounts of (mostly) legal cash. By necessity, he has a high-end currency counter/ counterfeit detection device in his office, which can swiftly count and verify large sums of money with precision. “Bobby, it’s me.” “Hey, what’s up.” “Can I come to your office - like right now?” “Sure, what do you need?” “I, uh, came into some money. Long story, and I really don’t want to get too much into the details … but I’m wondering if you’d be willing to run the bills through your counter for me? I’m not 100% sure they’re real, and I’d like a discreet way of verifying them. If they are, I’m going to pick up some bullion as well.” “Sure man. Happy to help. How much money are we talking about?”“$60,000” I flinch at that - I hate lying to friends, but at this point, I have no idea who to trust. Though if you want to be technical about it, I did come across $60,000. I am just simply not telling Kendrick about the other $940,000 that accompanied the $60k in the satchel that dropped into my life just three hours ago. “Come on by.” I pull apart a few $10,000 currency bands and start plucking random $100 bills from the middle of every 10k stack to assemble a randomized sample of the entire million. 100 bills, wrap it up. 100 bills, wrap it up. 100 bills, wrap it up. Three bands, thirty thousand dollars, randomized and fully assembled to be tested for authenticity. “Half” of my alleged $60k windfall. The rest of the loose bills are refolded back so there remains 97 stacks of $10k racks, re-wrapped and properly sorted. In 30 minutes, I will figure out if I’m rich, or holding on to enough illicit contraband to send me to Federal Prison for the rest of my life. =============================The Golden Path, like most bullion dealers, work out of small, highly secured office covered by multiple layers of security. At any given moment, Robert may have several hundred thousand dollars in cash or gold, silver and platinum bullion on the premise, it pays to be careful. One of the few civilians in California with a Concealed Carry Weapons permit, Kendrick and I met on pistol gun range ten years ago; we bonded over shooting .45 ACP slugs down-range. He and I spent countless hours debating the relative merits of his preference for single-action 1911s, vs my bias toward double-action SIG-Sauer P220s. In the bullion business, you learn to know the boundaries of money-laundering laws, and know how to walk right up to the edge without triggering reporting thresholds. Drop US$10,000 in cash or more at a car dealership, bank or bullion dealer in a single day’s transaction, and the U.S. authorities gets very interested in the source of your funds. By law, these business that receive such sums of cash must fill out invasive forms to tie the transaction to you and your Social Security Number. Keep cash transactions below US$10,000, and you can avoid much of that intense scrutiny. “Welcome back man. I haven’t seen you in a while.” A discreet man, Kendrick does not inquire further about the source of the cash. In the business of buying and selling gold bullion, you learn to comply with the letter of the law, while avoiding conversational topics that can jeopardize one’s own plausible deniability. While his clientele is mostly legitimate, I’m certain the most lucrative of his customers are criminals - and he smart enough to know not to ask the sort of questions that open up a line of liability for him. So long as the proper theatrics of anti-money-laundering protocols are observed, everyone is technically in the clear. I hand him the three $10k stacks and he pulls the bands off them and puts the entire block in his high-speed currency counter. After a second, the machine spools up and the digital counter swiftly runs from zero to three hundred. Thirty thousand dollars. “It’s real.” It’s real. His words hang in the air for a moment, and it takes a moment for them to sink in. One million dollars. Genuine currency of the United States of America, the most recognized and accepted form of money in the world - denominated in crisp, non-sequential bills. I hold my face as neutral as possible, but my excitement made me slightly dizzy, and I am glad I was sitting down. “What’s the spot price of Gold today?” Kendrick’s eyes drift to his laptop computer, where the current day’s commodities prices were fed to him via a live stream. “$1334 Ask, $1335 Bid.” I nodded my understanding.Precious metals bullion trade in troy ounces, and prices are quoted on a per troy oz basis; depending on the specific type of bullion (bars, coins, make), there are different markups from the quoted price. Depending on the specific form, Gold is typically marked up by USD$20 to $60 over the day’s quoted Bid price, and sells for $5~10 over the Ask. “What do you have in inventory right now for gold?” “The usual. South African Kugerrands. American Eagles. Canadian Maples. Oh, I do have a lovely Credit Suisse 5oz bar that somebody just sold to me, and I’m happy to let it go for $25/oz over spot.” I quickly did the mental math calculation. With the hard-cap spending limit of $10,000 before I trigger any mandatory anti-money-laundering signNowwork, $1335/oz works out to about seven troy ounces of bullion I can buy, without forcing Robert to fill out invasive forms about me and my identity. “I’ll take the 5oz Credit Suisse bar, and two American Gold Eagles.” Kendrick pulls out a calculator and taps in the numbers, “So five troy ounces at 25 over spot plus Eagles at $50 over spot works out to nine thousand six hundred and -“ “Take ten grand and keep the change.” I interrupt. “I will be back for more.” He raises his eyebrow, but says nothing. “Thank you. I’ll be right back.” He counts back $20,000 and hands it to me, taking the $10,000 in the back room of his office and returning with the 5oz Swiss bar and two heavy 1oz American Eagles, along with a receipt for US$9675. I pause for a moment and hand him back one of the $10,000 stacks. “I know the limit is $10k in transactions per day. Consider this pre-payment for a purchase tomorrow. Your call, on a mix of anything up that totals up to $9500. Keep the rest for you and Katie.” A barely-perceptible smile flickers across his face, then his face was clear again. “Sure thing.” There’s nothing like the feeling of holding physical gold - the density, color and heft of the metal is like no other substance on earth, and it is no wonder that since its discovery, every culture on Earth treated gold with awe and respect. With 18 hours left before I can understand my legal options, there’s only two things I know for certain: 1. The money is real. 2. At least one person knows exactly where I live, and where the money was dropped off. I need to get mobile. I need to get mobile and off the grid ASAP.... to be continuedIf you'd like to be the first to get updates to this story, please add me kai chang 張敦楷 (kaichang) on Twitter. Part 2 (of 10) is being written right now, will be announced on Twitter. Please follow for updates on the saga of the Quora Millionaire! :D
I want to send my bike via Railways. What is the procedure to do that?Here are some tips that will help you to make an informative decision on how you should take your bike on train (or not).Its purely based on my recent experience. Pictures of forms and my bike being packed are at the end of the answer. (Sent my bike on 25Nov2017)Pre-requisites:In order to take the bike, you must have:Documents- Carry bike RC & Insurance signNowYour ID Card- Aadhar card, Driving License, Passport, etc. (Any one)There are two ways to take the bike:As a LuggageAs a ParcelNOTE: Costing of luggage is 25% more than that of parcel.i.e. if parcel of bike costs you 1000 then same will cost 1250 if sent as luggage.Both these methods are explained in detail below-As a Luggage:In this method, you can take your bike as your luggage in the parcel van of the train. You need a confirm reserved ticket for this.Just signNow the railway station 3–4 hours before the departure of the train. Go to the Parcel office to pay for the extra luggage (motorcycle).Get the ticket for your bike and delivery challan (slip) which you will be required to show while collecting the bike at the destination station.Make sure you keep the delivery slip properly. Because if you loose it you might have to go a very long procedure to get your bike! (Court affidavits etc). This may be even a bigger problem if the bike is not under your nameAverage Cost:Upto 500 kms = 1200 rsUPto 1000 kms = 1700 rsUpto 2000 kms = 3000 rsBenefits of this method:Quickest way to travel with the bike!Bike travels in same train as yours. You can check how its kept in the parcel van. You can keep a check on packing quality of the bike.You get the bike as soon as you de-board at the destination! So you don't have to make additional visits to the railway station!Perfect for travelers who are going on a vacation for few days or just a couple of weeks! You get the bike as soon as you get down at your destination and save money on public transport! :)Cons of this method:Cost: Bit expensive as compared to parcel method (discussed below)Managing the whole thing:You have to take the headache of unload the bike from parcel van if your destination station is not the last stoppage of the train.Yes, many a times the railway porters may miss to unload because of any reason (short stoppage time of the train etc). This may create a lot of trouble for you as if missed the bike will go to the last station of the train and then come back after a few days.Other tips:This method is very good and appropriate for short term trips!Try to book ticket in a train where your destination station is the last stop of the train. This way it will be easier for you to getting the bike unload without any hassles and hurries!2. As a ParcelThe parcel method is like sending a snail mail.Features and how it works:Take the bike to the parcel office (most important major railway station have it) during the working hours and register the parcel. Make sure you go for booking at least a 2–3 days in advance so that you don’t have to wait for it for next couple of days. Take the delivery challan slip.The bike will be sent in any train to the destination station and will signNow in around 4-5 days or earlier depending upon the distance.Average Cost:500 kms : 700 rs1000 kms : 1200 rs25% less than luggage costing.Packing charges and types:Packing is one of the most crucial part. Mostly, people just tie a plastic bag to do a formality. But trust me you are definitely going to regret later of you don't get it done properly.Packing can be done by agents nearby parcel office, they charge you from 300/- to 1000/-To be specific :Basic packing- They wrap handle of the bike using a plastic bag and sack cloth (bora or bori). Its cheapest and useless. You can just do it yourselves too. (Goes for 200-300/-)Medium packing - They wrap up multiple layer of cardboard box to the handle and front which ensures no damage to headlights indicators and handle too. Along with that they will wrap up all the body parts which are exposed, except tyres only. Along with that they will wrap up the vehicle from below too and stitch it. Its best for medium ranged bikes like Splender, Passion the one with less fibre parts. (Goes for 600-800/-)Maximum secure packing- They wrap up all body parts, using cardboard box layers followed by plastic bags along with sack cloth. Almost each and every part will be covered head to toe with multiple layers. Also some use dry grass or bottles which acts as shock absorbers. Its the best and is more than sufficient for sports bikes too. (Goes for roughly 800–1000/-)FAQsCan I take bike which is not in my name?Yes, of course you can! You just need the original signNows of the bike to carry along with you! Just to avoid any problems you can get letter of authority from the ownerDo I have to pay bribes to get the bike on/off the train?Hard to say, in most cases without bribe would be fine! In some cases the porters may ask you for an extra tip and if given give more care to your vehicle. It is just a bad practice followed. Try to stay firm and polite if they ask for any such requests.Will my bike be damaged?Little bit here and there! Possible! May or may not have any scratches at all!If your bike is shining new with very fragile parts then it would be very vulnerable to getting damaged because the parcel van is filled with small/big parcels of different sizes and type.Also depends upon the care by the porters while loading it in the train. So make sure you get it well packaged and stand when they are loading the bike in your train.How long can I keep bike at station?For parcel there is 6 hours of time window to collect after that they will charge penalty of 10/-per hour. Office closes at 5pm, collect it by 5pm if train arrives before 5pm.Can I keep fuel in tank?Strictly no. If fuel is found in any case you will be penalised 1000/- by the officer at receiving end. Get fuel arranged on destination station and fill later.What if I don't receive my bike at the station?Most probably your destination isn't the last stop of the train. In such cases when your destination is on mid way depending on the quantity and time there are chances your bike would be left untouched. Its your sole responsibility to get you bike from the goods wagon, person responsible will be present there along with labours. In case, you missed the bike it will be delivered when train returns on same route.Edit1: I am adding snaps of the forms I filled while handing over the bike at Jaipur Junction and while receiving it at Lucknow Junction.Forwarding Note for General Merchandise (look for the value of the bike mentioned in right near my thumb, 1% of it is charged in the bill)2. Parcel Way Bill / Luggage Ticket (look for the Train number and time mentioned using blue ink at the top)3. Form for Entry for GST Manual Transaction of Receipt4. Gate Pass (penalty for delay is mentioned in it- see the marked circle that is penalty for 20hours @Rs10/hr)Now some snaps of bike unpacked and packed:Pulsar 200NS (My bike)2. Near Parcel office Jaipur JunctionAfter bargaining I paid them 800 in total including 50 for the rectangular small plate hanging in front of my bike which contains details.Don't trust the people out there when it comes to loading and unloading. Its total mess, they will dump the vehicle carelessly so get it done yourself. The packing I got done is the best possible and not even a single scratch was there after I received it. In my opinion, go for Luggage booking and get it packed properly and then if you want to send even a high rev bike its going to be fine.If you have any questions feel free to comment, I hope I mentioned almost everything in here. It will be of great help for the ones planning to do so.Edit 2: Thanks for upvotes and 32k views its motivating. Sorry for the delayed answers for your questions in the comment.GUYS ITS MY REQUEST PLEASE DON’T SUPPORT THE RAILWAY STAFF WHO ASK FOR BRIBE AND STAY FIRM AND POLITE TO GET THE JOB DONE.ITS WE WHO ADDICT THEM TO BRIBE AND AS A RESULT THEY THINK EVERYBODY WILL HAVE TO PAY THEM AND TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. ONE STEP OF YOURS WILL AMPLIFY WITH TIME AND I BELIEVE IT WILL IMPROVE THE SYSTEM IN AND OUT EVENTUALLY.Hit UPVOTE if you found it useful! ;)
Is the MG42 effective or is it just a waste of ammunition?Based on what I know, I think for the MG-42: effectiveness and ammo consumption were 2 separate issues.Was the MG-42 effective? - Extremely, if operated by a skillful machine-gunner AND employed in the defense in concert with other MG-42s in a tactically intelligent manner.Was the MG-42 wasteful of ammunition? - Yes, it could be due to its high ROF. But with skillful control by a well-trained and experienced gunner, ammo consumption could be controlled to avoid wastage.I will explain both aspects of the weapon in the following section. (quite long so please bear with me)The MG 42 was unique in that it boasted an exceptionally high ROF: 1,200 - 1,500 RPM. The fact that it could only fire in automatic mode (semiautomatic was possible but it required extremely delicate control or by loading alternate links with cartridge. The second option required the gun’s charging handle to be pulled back after each round was fired.) meant that if used carelessly by an inexperienced or poorly trained gunner, it would consume a tremendous amount of ammunition in a short time span. The 1,800 rounds carried by a full squad could be burned through in little more than 10 or 15 minutes of intensive firing.In fact, this popular American military training video, although evidently disparaging of German weapons as inferior to American weapons, was right on one point that the MG-42 was wasteful of ammunition and essentially required additional soldiers in an MG squad to carry extra ammo.Even the most restrained MG-gunners found it difficult to completely avoid wasteful consumption of ammo and often found themselves often dangerously low on ammo, especially when facing some of the massed Soviet infantry assaults on the Eastern Front. One soldier recalled:Rather than simply attacking another section of the defensive rim, or retreating - as I believe any sane commander would do - the Russians continued to send countless troops to attack this one section of the line. They fired mortars into our rank, killing several paratroopers. German machine-gun crews were desperately screaming for ammunition as they continued mowing down groups of Russian infantrymen. They fired their MG 42s in one-second bursts, as they had been trained, but this was not enough to conserve their ammunition. The Russians were very numerous.Before discussing the effectiveness of the MG-42, I think a detailed discussion relating to the challenges of operating the MG-42 will help you appreciate what it took to become an MG-42 gunner. Challenges associated with the MG-42 gave rise to rigorous training to master the intricacies of the weapon. Rigorous training contributed to effective use of the weapon in combat.Being in charge of the MG-42 was a tremendous responsibility, both a curse and a blessing for the machine gunner. Weighing at 11.5 kg empty, carrying an MG-42 was a considerable strain on the machine gunner. Besides the MG, an MG team had to carry a Lafette tripod which weighed 20 kg without fixing the gun on it. There were other tools to be maintained; the ammunition cans (patronenkasten) each weighing 13kg, Gurtfuller 34 or Gurtfuller 41 belt-filling machines, 2-kg spare barrels plus the barrel container, gun optics, bolts, recoil springs. etc… The weapon’s high ROF, heavy recoil, excessive muzzle flash, etc… added more challenges to the use of the weapon.Apart from the physical strain of carrying an MG-42 and its accessories, heavy emphasis was placed on the weapon’s regular maintenance to ensure proper functioning. The last thing a German squad wanted to happen was to see their MG jammed at the critical moments which could be fatal for them. In fact, maintaining an MG-42 was such an essential task of an MG team, that the German Army issued the 12 Commandments of the machine gunners as follows:As a consequence of all of physical and technical challenges, an MG-42 gunner couldn’t be just anyone. Ideally, MG-42 gunners had to be those with superb visions, right-handed, strong and well-built. Not only that, he had to be highly competent and technically-minded, endowed with the physical and technical aptitude to operate the MG-42 effectively.Soldiers chosen to handle the Einheitsmaschinengewehr (unit MG) were subjected to a very comprehensive and rigorous training program divided into 2 phases.Phase 1 revolved around the use of MG-42 in their bipod-mounted LMG configuration and consisted of 21 separate lessons. The recruits would learn how the weapon worked, how to maintain it, change barrels, clear stoppages, reload, and take part in firing exercises. In the final lesson, the recruits would engage in tactical exercises involving the weapon. As a side note, the fast barrel-changing mechanism of the MG-42 was one of the genius features of the weapon. A well-trained crew could change a barrel in 4–7 seconds, resulting in only a brief drop in squad firepower in combat.Phase 2 consisted of 16 lessons in employing the MG-42 in HMG role on the Lafette tripod mount. The recruits would have to master how to set up the weapon on the Lafette, how to use the MG Z optical sight, and the tactics of sustained and indirect fire. In addition, they would learn how to fire the weapon when mounted on the Zwillingsockel twin mount or the Fliegerdrehstuze 36 vehicle pedestal mount.One particularly important aspect of the training program was how to fire the MG-42 properly in various positions and mounts. Apart from the standard firing positions, training featured firing in an assault position = firing from the hip which required great upper-body strength and delicate trigger control.An alternative firing position was firing over the shoulder of a willing comrade. This was often the last resort.Only for the exceptionally brave and in exceptional situations. Firing over the shoulder of another soldier like this subjected the man at the front to deafening noise, strong blast and dazzling muzzle flash.The MG-42’s high ROF produced excessive recoil in lengthy burst of fire on bipod mount. If not controlled tightly, the gun would wander off the target. The muzzle blast would kick up dust cloud that reduced visibility. The muzzle flash could be dazzling in low-light or night-time conditions.To effectively fire the MG-42, special emphasis was placed on making the correct grip on the weapon. The German LMG training manual statedThe results of the fire will largely depend upon how the machine gun is being held by the machine-gunner. The bipod, elbows and shoulders are the support for the machine gun and they may equal the mount for a heavy machine gun if utilized correctly. Good results may be achieved by digging the points of the boots into the ground for added support... In a normal prone position, the machine-gunner’s body must lie directly behind the weapon. The bipod, shoulders and elbows must work together and support the machine gun equally. The weight of the body should press lightly against the bipod.The manual described the problems of incorrect grip. Held too loosely and the rounds would frequently strike the area between the MG position and the target. Too much forward pressure against the bipod, or the misalignment of the gunner’s body with the axis of the gun, and the muzzle would stray up and to the right or left.In addition to correct gripping, firing carefully controlled bursts of fire was crucial for optimal results. Interestingly, the specifics of firing effective controlled bursts can be found in a US army report in January 1944 which stated the following:It would appear, in any case, that a high degree of skill and training are required to obtain the best results from the MG-42…a. When Used As a Light Machine GunTrials under battle conditions have shown that the best results are obtained from bursts of 5 to 7 rounds, as it is not possible to keep the gun on the target for a longer period.The destruction of the target is therefore accomplished with bursts of 5 to 7 rounds, the point of aim being continually checked. It is of course important that re-aiming should be carried out rapidly, so that the bursts follow one another in quick succession. Under battle conditions the firer can get off approximately 22 bursts in a minute, or approximately 154 rounds. Comparative trials under the same conditions with the MG-34 showed that the best results in this case were obtained with 15 bursts in the minute, each of 7 to 10 rounds, i.e. approximately 150 rounds.It will be seen from this that the ammunition expenditure of the MG-42 is a little higher than with the MG-34, but to balance this, the results on the target with the MG-42 are increased up to approximately 40%. (US Army 1944a)The results of the American testing are useful. One key takeaway is that the cyclical rate of an MG dictates the rate of fire in practice. In the American opinion, the fast-firing MG-42 required controlled bursts of 5–7 rounds to be most effective, while for the MG-34 with a lower ROF, the optimal was 7–10 rounds per burst.Another takeaway is that the report acknowledged that firing the MG-42 required extra skill and control not required in other MGs. Indeed, there were several first-hand accounts that attested to the challenges of firing the MG-42 even by experienced German soldiers. One such account is from the book The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. The setting was a battle around Belgorod in the summer of 1943. Sajer served as an MG-42 gunner. As the Germans were prepared to mount an attack, Sajer tried to control his nerve in a position only about 100-m from the advanced Soviet trench:Suddenly I began to shake uncontrollably [...] I tried shifting my weight, but nothing did any good. I managed to open the magazine [the top cover] and nervously slipped the first belt into the breech of the gun, which the veteran held open for me, and left partly open, to prevent the sound of its clicking shut.Hals had just opened fire. The veteran slammed our gun shut and fitted it into the hollow of his shoulder.‘Fire!’ shouted the noncom. ‘Wipe them out!’The Russians ran to take their places. The string of 7.7 [sic] cartridges slid through our hands with brutal rapidity, while the noise of the gun burst against our eardrums.I could see what was happening only with the greatest difficulty. The spandau was shuddering and jumping on its legs, and shaking the veteran, who kept trying to steady himself. Its percussive bark put a final touch on the vast din which had broken out. Through the vibrations and smoke, we were able to observe the horrible impact of our projectiles.You see, these men were veteran soldiers, and even they had to strain to keep the weapon on target. It would have been more difficult for an inexperienced gunner.After successful completion of the training program, the recruits qualified as MG-42 gunners. They would go into combat to apply their skills, gain combat experience and become invaluable members of their units whose success and survival depended on their skillful operation of the weapon.MG-42’s squad in combatThe MG-34/42 was the core of German infantry organization, right down to the Gruppe (squad) level. The basic German wartime squad comprised 10 men, armed and equipped as follows:With its high ROF, the MG-42 could deliver a volume of firepower equivalent to 20 riflemen.Support fire was generated by a battalion’s heavy MG platoon which consisted of 4 tripod-mounted MG. Each of these MG was manned by 6 men: an MG leader, primary MG gunner, assistant MG gunner, and 3 ammunition men. The 3 ammunition men carried 1,800 rounds of ammunition and 2 spare barrels.The role of the German squad MG was simple - provide a powerful base of fire in either offensive or defensive situations. A key German squad battlefield formation during WW2 was the Reihe:In this formation, squad members fell into a fluid single-file formation with the squad leader at the front, the MG gunner in the 2nd position, the assistant gunner the 3rd position, and riflemen followed them behind. The assistant squad leader would be position at the end of the line.As soon as the squad came under hostile fire, or spotted an enemy position to be engaged, the MG gunner would immediately take up an optimal firing position and start unleashing heavy suppressive fire by firing short and accurate bursts. The assistant gunner would stay by his side to help load ammunition and change barrel. Meanwhile, the rest of the squad would fan out to the left and right of the MG, creating the Schützenkette (skirmish line). One critical factor was maintaining a reasonable distance between each man - about 5 paces. The distance mattered because the MG, once identified by the enemy, would receive the lion’s share of retaliatory fire. This problem could be mitigated by firing short disciplined bursts rather than long bursts and by moving to various positions of cover regularly which would partly hide the MG-gunner.A single German squad would create a defensive sector about 40-m of front. When used in an LMG mode, the 2-man MG-42 team would occupy a Schützenloch für leichte maschinengewehr (two-man light MG position). In ideal form, this position was a curved trench about 1.6 m long plus 2 shorter Panzerdeckungsloch (armor protection trenches) in which the occupants could squat down if their position was overrun by tanks. Multiple such positions would be dug in a well-constructed squad defense to give the MG team the option of shifting to more advantageous positions, or abandoning ones that would be overrun.Enough about squad tactic. Let’s talk about how the MG-42s and their operators performed in combat using reports from both the Allies and the German Army.The Germans proved themselves masters of using the MG-34/42 in urban defense. Several guns would be positioned around a town square or important street section, carefully sited to lure Allied troops into a kill zone from which escape was uncertain and difficult once the trap was sprung. Barricades of rubble, created by explosives to collapse buildings across streets would be covered by individual MGs, and the weapons would be positioned at various floor levels in buildings to give multi-directional and multi-dimensional angles of fire that further confounded Allied troops and increased Allies’ casualties.A convincing example of how the Germans used their MG-34/42 in urban defense could be found in a US Intelligence Bulletin dated July 1944. In particular, a 5th Army’s report meticulously described how the Germans defended 2 houses on the road to Carano, Italy with just 2 platoons. Let’s read the Germans’ skillful defense of one of the houses, referred to as house ‘A’, using MGs:In the case of house A, it was observed that all the machine guns (345) were emplaced in the house itself or in its outbuildings. Machine gun No. 1 was fired from a table in the ruins of what had been a room; the gun’s direction of fire was through a hole in the main wall and then through the archway of a cowshed. By emplacing the machine gun in this manner, the Germans concealed its muzzle flash from all directions except to the front, and even from that direction it was not conspicuous. The gunner was well protected from small-arms fire and grenades, and was not exposed when he moved to his alternate (1a) position. From position 1a, the gunner was able to cover an additional area to the front and also to protect the flank of the strong point against any attack from the road. Three Mauser rifles loaded with antitank grenades were found leaning against the wall to the left of the doorway.Machine gun No. 2 was in position inside the same room, and was sited so that it could be fired through a window facing the stream. It is interesting to note that when our forces secured the south side of the building and attempted to toss grenades through the window at machine gun No. 2, the German gunner ricocheted bullets off the wall (W) in an effort to forestall the grenade fire.Machine gun No. 3 was sited in a corner of an adjoining room, where the walls were still standing. This gun was so sited that its plane of fire was close to the ground; during the course of the action, the gun delivered continuous fire, angle high, toward the stream and, alternately, to the south. The walls afforded protection from the south and west.The siting of machine gun No. 4 shows how the enemy utilizes the characteristic Italian outdoor oven as a machine-gun emplacement. By siting his weapon in the part of the oven normally used for storing wood, the gunner protects himself against small-arms fire from the flanks and rear, and enjoys a certain amount of overhead protection against artillery fire. During the action, the No. 4 gun delivered grazing fire ankle high. (Hand grenades and rifle grenades wounded the two-man crew of this gun, and destroyed the gun itself.) (US Army 1944b)As you can see, the placement of the MGs demonstrated intelligence and skills on the part of the German defenders. Everything from the concealment of the muzzle flash to the height of the fire is considered. Most importantly, the guns together formed a mutually supporting tactical entity.The Germans also proved adept at using indirect fire tactic learned in their training. This was done in HMG mode on tripod using optical sights. It was a complicated task requiring highly technical understanding of the sight’s traverse and elevation settings and their relation to various range tables and ancillary range-calculating equipment. Training and practice made this easier to perform. German gunners were noted for their ability to use a group of tripod-mounted MGs to saturate a target area from distance. With about 13 MGs in its complement, a German infantry company could unleash well over 2,000 rounds every minute against enemy formations.The tactic was deadly. Allied troops in the attack were particularly vulnerable to this tactic. The first they would know of the enemy MGs would be the crack of rounds splitting the air, observed bullet impacts and soldiers dropping to the ground, dead or wounded. Numerous Allies’ reports from the advance across Normandy and France in 1944 attested to getting caught in German MG-crossfire, with entire battalions and even divisions unable to advance against withering fire while suffer heavy losses. One report noted that during an attack on a German position:the Germans had at least 2 platoons with 2 MGs each, with at least 3 in our sector. We keep going forward and we keep losing people. They just decimated us.Also, don’t forget how MG-42 claimed the lives of thousands of American soldiers on the beach of Omaha June 6th 1944.German paratroopers firing their MG-42 in the rubble of Monte Cassino. Well-entrenched, the German defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking Allied troops.Apart from the massive firepower the MG-42 unleashed, it also had a devastating psychological effect on the enemies. Nicknamed Spandaus by the Allies, Allied troops were terrified by the sound of the weapon which resembled the sound of linoleum ripping or a buzzsaw.The MG-42’s coupled with its lethal effect on the target earned it a variety of epithets such a Hitlersäge (Hitler’s saw), Die Schnellespritze (the fast sprayer), knochensäge (Bone saw), Linoleum Ripper. An account of Canadian soldier in the 5th armored division attested to the psychological impact of the MG-42:From beyond the embankment came the steady rattle of small arms, mostly the enemy’s. It was easy to identify them. Brens could push out a maximum 540 rounds per minute, while the MG 34 delivered eight to nine hundred, [the MG] 42 could spit out twelve hundred. Someone somewhere on the battlefield came up with the term ‘rubber gun’ for the Jerry MGs - not an apt name, but nonetheless that’s what we came to know them [sic] until the more descriptive term ‘cheese cutter’ took over. By whatever name we called it, the Jerry machine-gun was a weapon to be feared. (Scislowski 1997: 123-24)So fearsome was the weapon that the US army produced a famous training film designed to American GIs’ fear should they face this weapon in combat, The training film compares German automatic weapons vis-a-vis American automatic weapons to demonstrate how accurate and efficient in ammo use American MG were compared to their German weapons:The most famous line in the video was: “Its bark is worse than its bite”.Apart from being mendacious and deliberately disparaging of German automatic weapons (the only truth was that the MG-42 could be wasteful of ammo only if used carelessly) designed to the fear of Allied soldiers facing the MG-42, the video conveniently omitted one important thing: how the German actually used their MG-42s in mutually supporting positions, an omission that would prove to be a nasty surprise to Allied soldiers in combat and caused them to incur heavy casualties. German MG teams were tactically intelligent units who knew how to employ the MG-42’s high ROF to good effect. This was testified by Lieutenant Sydney Jary of 4th Battalion, The Somerset Light Infantry, fighting in Normandy in 1944:The forward platoon had barely crossed the stream when concentrated Spandau fire came from the front and both flanks. There must have been about twelve machine guns firing at one time. This devastating firepower stopped the battalion dead in its tracks. There was no way forward or around it and no way to retire.Tom Renouf, serving with 5lst Highland Division in 1944- 45, witnessed the grim effects of ‘Spandau’ impacts at first hand:Meanwhile, our platoon secured some high ground further forward, where we came under heavy Spandau fire. A bullet hit our corporal, Sam Clarke from Elphinstone, near Ormiston, in the leg, severing an artery. He died shortly afterwards… This was my first experience of direct Spandau fire. All you heard was a short burst and then people were falling.The Allies’ methods of countering MG-42s could be extremely expensive. Many combat reports of the North-West Europe campaign spoke not only of the terror and casualties that the German MGs could inflict on Allied troops, but also the overwhelming firepower that tended to engulf those guns once they could be targeted. Increasingly, German infantry companies would stay in place long enough to hit advancing Allied troops hard with crossfire, but then retreat when the firepower directed at them became overwhelming. General Heinrich von Luttwitz, the commander of XLVII Panzer Corps, observed that:The incredibly heavy artillery and mortar fire of the enemy is something new, both for the seasoned veterans of the Eastern Front and the new arrivals from reinforcement units. The average rate of fire on the divisional sector is four thousand artillery rounds and five thousand mortar rounds per day. This is multiplied many times before an enemy attack, however small. For instance, on one occasion when the British made an attack on a sector of only 2 companies they expended 3,500 rounds in 2 hours. The Allies were waging war regardless of expense.Hopefully from the preceding presentation, you can appreciate just how deadly the MG-42s were when:used by well-trained and experienced soldiersdeployed in mutually supporting tactic with interlocking fireAll in all, the MG 42 and to a lesser extent the MG-34 were true force multipliers enabling a small number of soldiers to put down a massive volume of fire that couldn’t have been achieved by dozens of riflemen. Both MGs were capable of inflicting heavy casualties and of forcing large units to a standstill. Without weapons of this capability and flexibility, it was likely that Allied infantry in Europe would have been able to advance much faster and without much casualties. The MG-42 in particular was a masterpiece at both technical and tactical levels. With its proven fearsome capability to suppress enemy infantry and kill in mass in the hand of highly trained and experienced operators. the MG-42 was regarded with both fear and a grudging respect by all those who faced it, as exemplified by Polish resistance fighter Marian S. Mazgai:A unit from the Jedrus company pushed toward the end of the road that went in the direction of Momocicha, but when it signNowed the top of the elevation that divided it from the enemy, the German machine-gun fire, from a nearby windmill, forced it to hit the ground. I will never forget that heavy German machine-gun fire that almost cost me my life. When the Germans fired at our unit from the windmill as well as from its vicinity, we responded with our fire. I happened to fire a German-made machine gun MG 42 from a fine position. At the same time, I was doing everything possible to discover the German position from which the enemy was firing at us with the same kind of machine guns, MG 42s. According to my humble estimation, model MG 42 was the best machine gun used in World War II. (Mazgai 2008: 211)The MG-42 proved to be so versatile, effective and successful that it formed the basis for multiple derivatives that see service with many armed forces in the present day, including the German army which employs the MG-3. The MG-3 is manufactured under license by other countries and assigned different designations by the military the uses it.I will conclude this answer with a description of what it was like to be an MG-42 gunner.Being an MG-42 gunner was both a curse and blessing and was an onerous job. The gunner was entrusted with an extremely deadly weapons on which the success and survival of his unit literally depended. It was a tremendous responsibility. He had to maintain the weapon ceaselessly to ensure its proper functioning.The physical strains were severe. The relatively heavy weight of the gun, its tripod, its ammunition cans and other accessories an MG-team had to carry could easily weary the men, esp in long and intense combat:Exhausted German infantrymen taking a nap on the Eastern front. Grenades and MG and ammunition boxes could be seen on the round.MG-gunners faced considerable danger because the enemy would try to destroy the MG once it was spotted by returning MG-fire, snipers, mortars or heavy artillery strike. In the HMG role, the gunner was particularly vulnerable because using optical sights meant that the gunner had to position his eye above the line of the mount (shown below),the result being he ran the risk of being shot by snipers or counter MG fire.This danger could be mitigated by using the periscope attachment (shown below) which enabled the gunner to see the view in front of the gun while positioned safely behind cover.Like captured snipers, captured MG-gunners often faced summary execution, particularly so if they had inflicted heavy casualties prior to capture.The fate of many German machine gunners: a fallen MG-gunner in Holland.In the end, despite the skills, courage and resilience of the German soldiers and a wide range of technologically excellent weapons produced by Germany, including the MG-34/42, they were not enough to stop the Allies using sheer and crushing weight of firepower to overcome the Germans. Defeat of the Third Reich was inevitable.Reference(s)1/ MG-34 and MG-42 machine guns - Chris McNab
What is the meaning of “To verify you're human, please check the box below:” on XDating?It’s to stop computers creating fake profiles for advertising purposes. The instruction given is very simple for you, but for a computer to understand it is very difficult.
What is the most innovative software you've ever written, and why?I believe I have written quite a few innovative software systems including the first fully interactive WYSIWYG mainframe spreadsheet (1974) & the first full screen test debugging system - featuring Pause (breakpoint) and single step (program animation), conditional pause, memory protection Etc. (1972) - similar to Visual Studio features today.But, my very first general purpose software utility program that was out of the box, was a very simple SORT & PUNCH program.The year was 1968. In those days, programs for the IBM 360/30 were hand written on coding forms and punched onto 80 column cards by “pools” of card punching persons (like the typing pools of yesteryear).The programs would sometimes be quite large and monolithic, containing up to 2,000 cards - for just one program.One such program was a Payroll system that was used to calculate and pay thousands of public utility employees. The cards were stored in gray metal trays - with a capacity of around 2,000 cards each. One of the very senior “system programmers” (Martin ?) dropped his tray of 2,000 cards and asked me, a junior programmer with only a few weeks experience, to sort the jumbled up cards for him (most programmers are lazy !).[You can see similar metal trays on this youtube video about the IBM 1401 (1:46 minutes in)]Fortunately, the cards had sequence numbers punched in columns 73–80.So, instead of doing what he asked, I wrote a simple assembly program to read in the jumbled up cards, perform an “in memory” (and in situ) bubble sort and then punch out a brand new deck of 2,000 cards from that same memory. This took me no more than an hour at most. The image below is for the bubble sort module alone (called by the main program that reads/punches the cards). It is not the original code , but illustrates the relative ease of writing the sort - even in Assembler language. I have omitted all niceties (so it fits on one form), including saving & restoring registers etc. and inserted two bugs for the sake of interest - can you spot them? (Edit: Nearly a year later and 9,800+ views and only one - incorrect! - response so far in the comments section?)This bubble sort code, when assembled, is about 60 bytes long (Yes bytes, not kilobytes or Mb. The entire program, Main & this module probably less than 1,000 bytes in total).The cards were then passed through the IBM 029 card reader/punch machine in “interpret” mode - to literally print the card contents onto the pre- punched cards.(Here is a link to a Youtube video showing an actual restored IBM 029 card punch with a stored card “program” able to skip to particular columns for name/ DOB etc).This took probably two hours - since each card has to cycle through the machine mechanically. The hopper only held about 300 cards so had to be re- filled several times.The senior programmer was amazed that I was able to accomplish the tedious task he had given me so quickly and 100% accurately. He was also delighted that his 2,000 formerly “dog eared” cards were now pristine. This would have the added advantage that the new cards would cause less “card jamming” or read errors, each time they were read in for Assembly.That was how I got started in software writing - by literally “thinking out of the box” and in my firm belief that “if you have a dog, don’t bark yourself”.Of course I was pleased with myself but also unhappy that I had to use what was a natural resource made from cutting down trees.In this same era, the usual method of finding out the contents of variables at certain points in a running program was to force a “core dump” (memory dump in hexadecimal) by “patching” an invalid instruction at a particular offset in the program (or inserting a “dump” macro statement in the source and reassembling). This would produce a few inches (deep) of printout that would use up even more trees.I was determined to find a better way, which, of course, led to my interactive debugging product ( “OLIVER”) where a “pause” could be set at any point in a program (without recompile/ reassembly) and any desired register (or variable in memory) could be displayed on a “tube” (IBM 2260 terminal, later an IBM/3270). OLIVER also allowed memory alteration and retry or resume, enabling many bugs to be fixed with just one Assembly or compile, resulting in huge efficiencies and improvements in quality. Because less assemblies and compilations were required, even less Assembly listings were printed, resulting in even less trees being felled![Recollections of “One a day compiles” from a website: Slashdot]There was also far less wear on the IBM 1403 printers of course!By far the best thing (apart from saving the Amazon rain forest, naturally!) was the ability to step through your programs one instruction (or statement) at a time, checking control flow and variables on-the-fly. This was a real game changer in the early 1970’s. Now, some 30+ years later, we finally have Visual Studio to perform similar magic on the .NET platform with Windows for Personal computers.RELEVANT LINKS[LINK to Wikipedia article about program animation Program animation - Wikipedia]You won’t find anything about OLIVER (by name) on any Wikipedia articles, because all references have been deleted by Wikipedia editors. The reason they stated was “Original research/ lack of citations”. This was a commercial product that was used by more than 600 blue chip companies in Europe and elsewhere - but there were no academic publications, only marketing brochures and the product itself.[LINK to a copy of a 1978 brochure made by IAL/Gemini who were selling it for me at the time.[OLIVER marketing brochure circa 1978]I created a similar product “SIMON” - specifically for batch programs and all references to that product have also been deleted on Wikipedia.[SIMON marketing brochure from early 1980's][OLIVER & SIMON test/debugging tools reference card Reference card c. 1994 uploaded 2016].This is a screen shot from 1989, showing a DOS/VSE COBOL program "OLIVDEMO", currently "paused" at statement 139, executing with the CICS online transaction processing System and displayed on an IBM 3270 colour terminal. Pressing the “PA1” key would execute the current statement and pause at the next statement. Note that all variables associated with the statement are automatically displayed on-the-fly.Image of IBM 029 card punch/ reader :-Link to archived IBM card storage - 2,000 cards per box:- File:IBM card storage.NARA.jpg - WikipediaImage of IBM 360/30 computerFINALLY. - A few thoughts from 2003, many of which are just as true today as they were 15 years ago.THE FAILURE OF THE DIGITAL COMPUTER