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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Remembering Russell Means

Russell Means : b. 10th Nov 1939 in Pine Ridge South Dakota, d 22nd October 2012.

It was announced yesterday that Russell Means has died. He was a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe and  a member of the American Indian Movement for many years. He spent most of his working life fighting for Indian rights.

In 1990 he turned to acting, in particular he played Chingachgook in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans, directed by Michael Mann and starred with Daniel Day Lewis and Madelaine Stowe. Russell's performance impressed me and continues to impress whenever I watch the film.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Discovery - Battle Castle

In the UK, Discovery channel is showing a programme "Battle Castle with Dan Snow".

This is a series of programmes on the building of and sieges of a number of castles. The castles are:

  1. Krak des Chevaliers, Syria
  2. Chateau Gaillard, Normandy, France
  3. Dover Castle, Kent, England
  4. Conwy Castle, Wales
  5. Malbork Castle, Poland
  6. Malaga Castle, Andalusia, Spain.
I missed the first. The second programme, Gaillard, is being shown this week and I found it to be very interesting, a little loud but good. The third and subsequent castles will shown on Thursdays.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bodrum Castle

Going through my holiday snaps I came across these two photos of Bodrum Castle taken from the east bay. I think these show what the castle must have looked like before the artillery based modifications of the early 16th century.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Le Fardier de Cugnot

This photograph is of a replica of the steam fardier (fardier a vapeur) built by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (1725 - 1804)

A fardier was a two-wheeled horse drawn cart, very heavy build, used for transporting very heavy equipment such as cannon barrels. In 1769, Cugnot built a fardier that used a steam engine for traction, making this the first engined road vehicle. Tests were conducted in 1770 and 1771, not a great success so the French Army did not follow up.

This replica has been photographed in front of the Monument to Cugnot in his home town of Void-Vacon (Meuse). There are some films on YouTube of a replica steaming around some streets.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Belle Isle

I was considering my travel plans for 2013 and trying to find a picture of Vauban's work on Ile d'Aix when I came across this watercolour, painted by Arnuad d'Aunay, of the Vauban works on Belle Isle. A very fine picture, makes me want to go, maybe 2014.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Military Technology

I have been catching up with some recent copies of "The Economist". In their issue 15th - 21st September 2012 under the headline "Autonomous Helicopters", the paper reports on developments within the US military.

We have seen unmanned drone flights for some time, control is by personnel sitting at a remote control centre using cameras and joysticks. This is different. Two Kaman K-Max helicopters have been modified to fly without pilots. They carry cargo in slings underneath the aircraft, the flight pattern is pre-programmed with one or more cargo drops and away it goes. Trials are being conducted in Afghanistan to supply remote Marine bases and is a success.

Cameras could be fitted to allow remote control. This would also greatly increase the civilian uses of the system, such as search and rescue, traffic control or emergency pipeline inspection.

If you wish to see the helicopters there is video on Kaman's website.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Birthday Book

It was my birthday on Sunday, my partner bought my this book.

A book I wanted very much; and great timing as I have just finished "Empires Collide - French and Indian War 1754 - 1763"

Monday, 1 October 2012

Fortress Visit Report No.3 Bodrum Castle

Visited September 2012.

The Knights of St John of Rhodes started building the castle, named St. Peter's Castle, in 1406. It is build on the site of a previous Byzantine castle and it occupies a prominent position on a rocky peninsula overlooking the harbour.

This is the postcard view.

The castle does not have a central keep or donjon but has five major towers, four built by a different national group in the Knights, Italian, German, French and English and a Snake Tower, so called after its decoration. The site was bounded by a wall and it was surrounded by a moat. Entrance to the inner area was by a series of seven gates.

Artillery based defences were added during the period 1513 - 1521. Two bastions and a casemated battery were added to the harbour side. At the time of construction, the casemated battery would have been on the waterfront. This postcard is of an 18th or 19th century print and shows the two bastions.

These are my photographs

The garrison was around 50 knights and 150 soldiers. It fell to the Ottomans on 5th January 1523, without a fight. In June 1522 the Ottomans attacked the Order's headquarters in Rhodes. This fell in December 1522 and as part of the surrender terms, St Peter's castle was handed over.

Bodrum is close to the centre  of the Ottoman Empire so the castle did not see any fighting until 1915 when it was shelled by the French Naval ship DUPLEIX.