Monday, January 16, 2006

Fake and inaccurate

This morning, the New York Times publishes a heartrending photo with a caption describing the missile used in the attack on Pakistan last week.



The caption reads "Pakistani men with the remains of a missile fired at a house in the Bajur Tribal Zone near the Afghan border."

Only problem is, it ain't a missile. It is an artillery shell. Michelle Malkin has links to experts, and a larger image of the photo, but this old expert eye might see something that the others have missed.

Artillery shells and old fashioned tank ammo are made of steel. The barrel of the gun is rifled to impart spin to the projectile, stabilizing the projectile in flight. Because the shell casing is steel, the manufacturer puts a driving band on the shell to engrave on the rifling. This band is made of a softer metal, like copper or brass or aluminum. You can see it on the shell in the picture. The driving band is about two thirds of the way down the casing, and is a white metallic color while the rest of the shell is painted grey.

Look closely at that band. It has been engraved with rifling. That shell was fired from an artillery tube. It is a dud. It didn't explode on impact for any number of reasons. However, the payload, whether it be explosive or chemical has been shocked and is still inside the casing. Any shock might set it off. That shell is very dangerous, and the tribesmen standing around would be better served by getting the kids out of the way and running like hell.

The big lesson here is that the thing in the picture ain't a missile. It is an artillery shell and has been fired through a rifled tube. It is impossible to tell if it is US made, Russian made, or Belgian, or French, or Chinese without looking at the markings and painting. All the above nations make shells that look like that. It is a common artillery round.

And, that the New York Times got it wrong, wrong, wrong. They really should get someone who knows what ordnance looks like to preview their pictures for them.

Update: While composing this post, my server went down. Pictures are correctly coded, but may not view until my server (who has a long record of reliability) returns to service. My apologies. Pictures can be seen at the links.

Update2: Server is back up and pictures are working. Looking at the photo more closely, I see what looks to be rifling marks near the top of the main portion of the shell, just above the yellow painted band. This portion of the shell rides on the rifling, centering the shell in the bore. It stabilizes the front of the shell on its trip up the tube, but doesn't normally engrave the rifling. However, the paint gets scuffed and that is probably what I am seeing. Yep! This shell was fired from a rifled tube and is a dud.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good catch Pawpaw, even the linked people over at M/M didn't see the rifling, but it's plain when you pointed it out (I went over to M/M's site and used her photo, better resolution, and then had my browser enlarge it 200%. Plain as day

Unknown said...

I don't think it should surprise anyone these days that the NY Times would get a story wrong. Their whole agenda seems to revolve around making sure we don't win the War on Terror until a liberal president gets in, not that Bush is a true conservative, but he is enough of one to burn the NY Times' bottoms.