About the Blog:

Welcome to KF4LMT's Shack. I blog on scanning and monitoring, amateur radio, and motor sports. MilAir, Fire/EMS, and Search and Rescue communications are the focus of my scanning posts. Amateur Radio posts mostly focus on events I participate in and mobile operating, which is my primary means of getting on HF. Sports Car racing, IndyCar, and F1 racing are what most of my motor sports posts are about. Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line at kf4lmt @ gmail.com. Sorry, but I don't program scanners – it has led to too many requests that I just don't have time to accommodate.
24 Hours of Le MansJune 13th, 2015
9 months to go.

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Beaufort F-35 Frequencies

VMFAT-501I recently received a query from Lew, N4CO in Beaufort about F-35 frequencies and since it was something I’ve been thinking about lately, I thought it would be a good topic for a blog post.  For those that aren’t familiar, the USMC training squadron for the F-35B, VMFAT-501 is in the process of moving to MCAS Beaufort from Eglin AFB.  They currently only have a few of the F-35Bs at MCAS Beaufort but as the year goes by, those numbers will increase until all 20 of the squadrons aircraft are at Beaufort. Because not all of the squadron’s aircraft are at Beaufort yet there hasn’t been heavy activity from the squadron, making it hard to pick up any squadron frequencies.  As a result, I can only pass on one frequency that I’ve heard in use; the rest of it is potential frequencies from a pool of those used by squadrons previously based at MCAS Beaufort.

In order to catch the F-35Bs, the first thing you need to know is what callsign they’re using. I’ve caught them a few times going back and forth between Beaufort for demonstrations before they started the move.  At that point, they were using the callsign SWEDE.  I suspect it will remain the same during and after the move.  There are three types of frequencies to listen to in order to catch the F-35Bs.  The first group is the air traffic control frequencies that they’ll when going back and forth between the Air Station and the training areas.  The second set of frequencies is the training area frequencies.  Third are the squadron’s Base and air-to-air frequencies.  The first two sets are already known but the third set of frequencies will be found through searching while the jets are in the air.  There is one exception for the third set – during flights back and forth between Elgin and Beaufort, I’ve heard them use 289.950; whether that frequency will be used now that they’re based at Beaufort remains to be seen.

ATC Frequencies

  • 342.675 – Tower
  • 328.425 – Beaufort Approach/Departure
  • 292.125 – Beaufort Approach/Departure

Training Area Frequencies

  • 284.500 – SEALORD North Primary
  • 313.700 – SEALORD North Secondary
  • 349.800 – W-157 Discrete
  • 376.900 – W-157 Discrete
  • 385.300 – W-157 Discrete
  • 228.400 – Townsend Range
  • 252.900 – Townsend Range

Squadron Frequencies

As I mentioned above, for the most part all I can do is speculate for squadron frequencies other one air-to-air frequency that’s been heard prior to the move.  That doesn’t mean that it will be used after the move but it’s worth listening out for.  The rest of the frequencies below have been used by squadrons formerly based at MCAS Beaufort or previously used by other squadrons based at Beaufort.

Potential Base Frequencies

  • 305.800
  • 345.800
  • 354.400
  • 358.900

Potential Air-to-Air Frequencies

  • 256.250
  • 257.450
  • 265.700
  • 277.200
  • 289.950 – heard used by VMFAT-501 prior to move to MCAS Beaufort
  • 290.825
  • 308.925
  • 326.700
  • 346.600
  • 349.225
  • 363.825
  • 369.300

I hope these help Lew and others that are and will be listening out for the F-35s.  Since the VMFAT-501 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron, I expect heavy activity from them once their fully established at Beaufort which means it shouldn’t take long to search out their squadron frequencies.  I’m excited that the F-35 FRS is going to be based at Beaufort and look forward to being able to listen to them as the Marine Corps works up their new aircraft!

Review: Blackett’s War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare

Blackett's War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare
Blackett’s War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare by Stephen Budiansky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blackett’s War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare by Stephen Budiansky. If you’re expecting a history of the Manhattan Project or the story of scientists developing weapons systems, you’re in for a surprise. It is a very different history of World War II than many you’ll read; it concentrates on the science and scientists that changed how militaries looked at things during the war and changed military thought and science to this day. Budiansky concentrates on Patrick Blackett but also includes the contributions of other scientists; in doing so, he tells the story not just of how these scientists helped the Allies win the war but began a new type of science: Operational Research.

 

“As director of the antisubmarine analysis effort for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy during World War II, Blackett not only helped win that battle, and the war, but in doing so founded the new science of operational research; it has been an indispensable part of military training and planning ever since, a revolution in the application of science to the art of warfare.”

 

Budiansky first develops Patrick Blackett as a character, describing his World War I service in World War I and his subsequent development as a scientist before going into how he contributed to the development of a revolution in military thought. He describes how Blackett’s experiences and education made him the perfect person to be at the forefront of development of Operational Research. It wasn’t easy to convince the military to accept the suggestions of scientists who weren’t trained in the art of war; you have to think that Blackett’s prior military experience helped him get a foot in the door and get the Admirals, Generals, and politicians to listen. Scientists had always had a role in inventing and developing the tools of war but because of Blackett, scientists and mathematicians of various backgrounds were brought in to study things that they themselves had no background in; with no axes to grind they transformed the Art of War in to the Science of War. They began to have input into not just the development of weapons, but how those weapons were used through the application of the scientific method.

 

“The traditional military view was that the scientists’ role was to develop “weapons and gadgets,” hand them over, and that was that. But now scientists were intimately involved in what previously had been the exclusive purview of military commanders: the running of operations.”

 

As mentioned above, it wasn’t easy and Budiansky describes the struggle the scientists had being accepted in both the UK and in the US. We learn about successes and failures and we learn about which military political leaders and political leaders picked up on the advantages the scientists offered and which ones resisted the move toward Operational Research. One of the successes for the scientists was the Battle of the Atlantic. Naval leadership accepted their suggestions and the scientists were able to develop ways of using existing weapons systems and methods, from depth charge patterns to the convoy system, more effectively. On the other hand, the scientists never really were able to break through to air force leadership and convince them of the inefficiency and futility of area bombing cities. When it came to the submarine and bombing wars, I found this quote from Blackett’s War not only an interesting one but one that many don’t consider when looking back at World War II:

 

“It was the final irony of the modern industrialized slaughter of the Second World War that the two fronts about which so much romantic and heroic nonsense would be spilled were the most barbaric and pitiless, for the men who fought upon them and their victims alike.”

 

Blackett’s War was a fascinating, five star read. I enjoyed the way the personalities of Blackett and the other scientists were developed, the glimpse into the science world between the world wars, and the explanation of how science and critical thinking changed the way war was waged. It really is a fresh take on World War II history and perhaps that’s what I enjoyed most. If you’ve grown tired of normal military histories, give this book a try. Likewise if you’re into science – and even if you’re not a fan of military history – this could be a book for you. While writing this review, I have come to think that this book would make an excellent documentary; perhaps The History Channel or Discovery Channel could curtail their slides into the Reality TV universe to make some enlightening TV.

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Admin Post – Intermittent Mode-S Feed

Those that keep up with the Mode-S feed from my RadarBox may have noticed that it hasn’t been 24/7 lately. This is due to a problem with the broadband internet at home.  For some reason, the broadband has been intermittent to non-existent from around 2200/2300 local to 0600/0700 local. With no internet access, of course, the data doesn’t feed from the RadarBox to Live Military Mode-S or FlightRadar 24.  The provider has so far been unable to locate the cause of the nighttime disruptions but they are working to identify it and I hope things will be back to normal soon.  I apologize for any inconvenience.

Avoidable Tragedy at Canandaigua

I started writing this yesterday but I was so angry about much of the coverage and how they were completely missing the point that I decided to stop and wait until I got to the point where I wouldn’t write angry. Before I go into my opinion on what happened on Saturday night, I wish to express my sympathy to Kevin Ward, Jr.’s family and friends.

On Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward, Jr. were involved in a racing accident that turned into an unnecessary and completely avoidable tragedy.  After the initial accident, Ward got out of his car then walked down the track toward the racing line while cars were circulating under caution to confront Stewart, who was still in his race car and circulating with the rest of the field.  At this point, one car avoided Ward and the car driven by Stewart didn’t. Ward was struck and killed. The question of intent will answered by a law enforcement investigation and I have absolutely no comment on that. What I do know is this:  Ward wouldn’t have been struck by Stewart’s car if he hadn’t gotten out of his, walked down the track to the racing line and tried to confront Stewart in that fashion.  All of the personal safety equipment and all of the safety enhancements to the cars do you absolutely no good if you leave the car before directed to by the safety crews. There are many mentions of NASCAR below, but let me be perfectly clear, this isn’t just a NASCAR problem. This is a motor sport problem.

Unfortunately, on track confrontations involving drivers that have exited their cars and drivers still circulating with the rest of the field have become commonplace and accepted regardless of the fact that it is unsafe. Not only have these types of confrontations become acceptable, they have become glorified. Whenever a driver gets out of his car to confront his still circulating foe, TV centers in on him and the announcers excitedly describe what happens – then they replay it over and over.  Afterwards, tracks and sanctioning bodies use the footage to promote races and the series in advertisements.  Fans salivate over it and discuss it endlessly. Regardless of the outcome of the Stewart investigation it is time for sanctioning bodies to put an end to these types of confrontations. If drivers wish to handle their differences behind the pit wall or back in the garage fine, but walking to or into the racing line on the track to do it must to come to an end.

How many times have we seen Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, or any number of drivers do exactly what Kevin Ward, Jr. did on Saturday night? Plenty, too many times I would argue.  Kevin Ward, Jr. was 20 years old; no doubt he grew up watching drivers do exactly what he did whether he saw it at the race track or on the television.  The drivers that did it, the sanctioning bodies that have allowed it (not just NASCAR), the television stations that focused on it, the sanctioning bodies and promoters that have used the footage for profit, and the fans that have cheered it on are all culpable in what happened on Saturday night.  We as fans must not cheer these confrontations when they happen. The sanctioning bodies must take action against drivers who take those kind of actions. Television commentators must point out the stupidity of doing it when the confrontations do happen and state that the behavior is unacceptable. Sanctioning bodies and promoters must stop using the footage to drum up attention for their races. By using these type of scenes in promotions and advertisements, they’re only pandering to the lowest common denominator.

This tragedy could have occurred at any race track in any series in any level on any night.  I’m honestly surprised it has never happened at a top level NASCAR race. By debating sprint car racing or whether Stewart should have been racing sprint cars, we’re missing the point.  We the fans and the racing media should be drawing attention to how unsafe this practice has been and continues to be but we probably won’t.  At the next Sprint Cup short track race, there will probably be another confrontation of this nature and television will cover it exactly the same, the fans will cheer it, then promoters will use to advertise their races and the series in general. Ward’s death will be forgotten and a phrase that was tossed around on Sunday morning will be seen to be true: it will continue to be “business as usual.”

For the sake of the memory of Kevin Ward, Jr. and for the sake of motor sports, I hope I’m proven wrong on that point.

Review: 1915: The Death of Innocence

1915: The Death of Innocence
1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn Macdonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As its title suggests, 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn MacDonald is a book that is focused on the second calendar year of World War I. It is not however, an overall look at WW1 in 1915, it is more narrowly focused on the British in 1915. It doesn’t really go into detail on the French, German, Russian, Italian, or Turkish parts in the war except as allies and opponents. Neither does it go into detail on battles in which the British didn’t participate in. What 1915 does do is explore how the attitude towards, outlook on, and opinion of the British on the war changed over the course of the year through heavy use of primary source material. I enjoyed reading 1915; it is a compelling read and hard to put down but at the end I feel it fell somewhat short.

McDonald’s take on 1915, as I mentioned above, is not a military history of 1915, it is more a social and oral history of the year. She uses her narrative to weave together excerpts from interviews, letters, diaries, journals, and memoirs to show how the British experience in 1915 changed their views on the war. You can’t show that through the experiences of the high command and staff officers, so the vast majority of the excerpts MacDonald uses come from line officers, NCOs, and the common soldier – the Tommy. The excerpts graphically describe conditions in the trenches, behind the lines, and training to go to war. Through the eyes of Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants, and Tommies, you see what happened during and the results of fighting in the battles of Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, the Dardanelles, and Loos. It’s interesting to see how the compared and contrasted between the Regular Army, the Territorial Army, and Kitchener’s New Army. As you read the book, you see the changes in the soldiers’ outlook through the year; the outlook changes from one of enthusiasm and optimism to resignation and acceptance of the long slog ahead.

My main problem is that the end of the book leaves you hanging. The title includes “The Death of Innocence” but while you see innocence dying throughout the book, there is really only one paragraph of conclusion. I would have liked to have seen a bit of analysis. It would have been nice to tie things up and draw conclusions from the variety of experiences we read about. Regardless, this is a book well worth reading in conjunction with general and military histories of the war. Use those books to understand the war as a whole and the place of the battles in the war and use this book to help understand the experience of the men fighting the war. Had things been tied up better at the end in a conclusions chapter I could have given it five stars but I have no issue giving it four stars. I’m now interested to find out if there are books in a similar vein about the experiences of the other combatant countries’ soldiers.

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C-17A P-8A E-8C Yeah. That's useful. Pretty good thunderstorm going at the momen with nearby cloud to ground lightning. I could think of a worse view out of the window while I hunt a few HF contacts. Just worked W1AW/1 VT on 14.275 from the mobile station. #hamr

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