Saturday, February 29, 2020

How an obscure Texan changed WWII and subsequent History

Back during WWII German, British, and American fighter aircraft were about on equal technological terms. A shift in aviation fuel usage changed the equation. While the British and Americans still used the same aircraft they gained a significant performance advantage over the German Luftwaffe by changing fuels. This is the story of 87 Octane fuel vs 100-130 Octane Aviation Fuel during WWII. The information behind this story comes from The British Society of Chemists and despite the age of the facts the details were classified until 2014. We are once again grateful to Capt. William Horn USN (ret) for drawing our attention to this story.

America’s Spitfires

 Apparently until 2014 the British Society of Chemists were puzzled by the German's continued use of 87 Octane aviation fuel after the British and Americans had switched to 100-140 octane with vastly improved performance. The German and British aircraft both used 87 Octane Gasoline  in the first  twenty four months of the war. The 87 octane fuel seemed to work for  the German  Daimler-Benz V-12 engine, The same fuel was at best marginal  in the British Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine. In the British aircraft the fuel created such troublesome issues  as sticky valves and generated the need for frequent engine repairs. Then American aircraft began to enter British service in considerable numbers. The US aircraft did even more poorly than the British on 87 octane fuel. Something had to be done. Once again enter the Texans! This wasn't their first rodeo in the British war fueling game (See :THE SECRET OF SHERWOOD FOREST: HOW A BUNCH OF TEXANS AND OKIES BROUGHT MUCH NEEDED PETROLEUM TO WAR TORN ENGLAND IN WWII BY WAY OF SHERWOOD FOREST. )

 Those of us who work on the US Gulf Coast occasionally pass a unique but aging white building a few miles west of Beaumont. The building is the old Sun Oil Refinery on Highway 90. This building should be on the National Register of Historic Places and there should be a monument out front to a guy you've never heard of; Tim Palucka, a chemist for Sun Oil in their South East Texas Refinery. He utilized a French system that mostly existed in technical writing to create an entirely new fuel technology. France was under the Nazi jack boot at the time, but fortunately for the war effort, the Nazis  were more interested in looting France's art treasures than examining their technical literature. 

 Palucka  started with a  French formula for enhancing the octane of Gasoline, and then invented the the "Cracking Tower" so familiar to us in modern refineries and with the Cracking Tower produced 100 octane aviation Gasoline. Our aviators were ecstatic the Germans puzzled.  Our spitfires fueled with 100 Octane gasoline were 34 miles per hour faster at 10,000 feet. The need to replace engines was cut in half.  

The American Allison engines improved greatly  with 100 Octane gasoline, but performance went through the roof when 130 octane gasoline came on line in 1944. The 130 Octane also improved the performance  of our Radial Engine Bombers.  The Axis Powers never caught on  to the fact that we had re-invented gasoline. We wisely didn't share the news with the Russians. The old refinery should become at some point  a WWII museum and Palucka deserves a monument. Once again the Texans showed the world how you can make things happen if you don't care who gets the credit. Now Tim Palucka is a name you should not forget. 

Friday, February 28, 2020


The US Navy Now In Possession Of A New Kind of Iranian Missile

The crew of the USS Normandy seized a shipment of advanced weapons.
The Crews of the USS NORMANDY and USS FOREST SHERMAN APPARENTLY  weren't after missiles when they gave chase and ultimately boarded an Iranian vessel suspected of violating embargoes of certain cargoes to Yemen,. Photo by U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lehman) 19 Feb 2020

In a surprise catch the crews of the USS NORMANDY and USS FOREST SHERMAN seized 358 surface to air missile components as well as "Dehivayieh" anti tank weapons in two separate incidents. . The  Sailors aboard the destroyer FORREST SHERMAN and cruiser NORMANDY combined,  confiscated eight of a new type missile in tact.. U.S. Naval Intelligence knew of the existence of this type of missile in Iranian hands from capture of component parts,and their observable use on the battlefield, including occasional shots at US Warships. The actions of the NORMANDY and FOREST SHERMAN mark the first time that intact missiles of this type have fallen into US Navy custody, Navy sources have described the missiles as "uniquely of Iranian design".The weapons and component parts were destined for the Iranian proxy force, the Houthis in Yemen. Iran has backed the Houthis forces for years.In 2015 the radical Houthis seized control of much of Yemen and drove the President into exile in Saudi Arabia. The war between the Yemen loyalist and their Saudi allies against the Houthis continues.. 

Thanks to Capt. William Horn, USN (Ret.) for alerting us to this story skipped over by the mass media but making headlines on publicly available military publications 

Friday, February 14, 2020



 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Blake Midnight/Released)

Our do nothing Congress has become more and more adamant that it will not financially support the 355 ship Navy. The U.S. NAVY will continue its ship purchasing plan but on a much slower basis assuring that by the time the 355th ship in this ship series is built, the first in the string of new acquisitions will be more than 20 years old.  From the civilian ship yard industry's view point the good news is that the NAVY  will still be buying big deck amphibious war ships and other large capital war ships but at a much slower pace than planned, unless and until the Democrats cease having such a tight hold on the purse strings.  
 The maritime threats against our sea-lines of communications and  merchant shipping do not abate because Congress wants more money for social "freebie" programs. Our enemies continue to grow in strength, our allies continue to depend largely on us and, if the Dragon swims as far and as fast as its previous recent history would indicate our enemies are going to grow into "friendamies"and real enemies. In our opinion the 355  ship navy was never adequate for the protection of our sea-lines of communication, maritime commerce , or allies. The 355 ship concept was meant as a floor to US naval strength not a ceiling, but with the Democrats in charge of the House, it has become just that a ceiling , one they have no intention of reaching. 
US Navy 020919-N-3653A-001 MSC USNS Supply steams in the Med.jpg



We don't expect the obstructionist actions of Congress to continue indefinitely. Majorities will change over time and then change again. At time budgets will be more favorable. We have always advocated for our most sophisticated war ships to be built as quickly as possible, but have noted that the duty to defend America can't be held hostage by a socialists Congress. Nor would we ever advocate anything that would eliminate civilian control over the military. What we propose is that we make maximum progress during periods of favorable Congressional attention and while being starved for funding for the big ship program that we try to immediately organize "constabulary forces"as often as possible around "Craft of Opportunity". A constabulary force is not one that we would expect to join the main fleet in a major operation. These would be smaller combat craft built with a small range but relatively high on scene endurance. 
 We have proposed a number of potential solutions to the foot dragging pace of Congressional approval. Most of our solutions have involved the formation of "constabulary forces" not built or intended for use outside a limited area of operations that we simply can't afford to abandon. For example the U.S. Sixth Fleet has some impressive war ships periodically assigned, but these are on loan from  the Atlantic fleet. capable of transoceanic voyaging, and subject to the call wherever it may be required that we mass big warship fire power. The the only ship that actually belongs to the "Sixth Fleet" is a command and control (Flag ) ship. However, our allies like Italy, and Spain have easy access to the Mediterranean and more than enough support structure for a small but effective "constabulary force." Some of that force could be purpose built patrol craft, other hulls could be commercial off the shelf vessels, even used (craft of opportunity ). Offshore supply vessels now "retired" from servicing the U.S Offshore oil industry come with heavy compartmentalization, heavy sea keeping capabilities, a long low aft deck capable of holding containers or any variety of weaponry. Right now these vessels, some hardly used at all. are available for fire sale prices at Gulf Oil ports having been "stacked" based on low demand.   
 The on shore discoveries in the U.S. that have recently propelled us to the first rank of oil exporting nations are more advantageously priced than U.S. offshore oil. Demand has slowed and vessels of potential military utility are on sale for fire sale prices. But we can't expect theses market conditions to last. Like all markets the offshore service vessel market has its periodic ups and downs. When we have the opportunity we should buy, even if it only to designate them "Reserve Ships" and maintain them in minimal operational condition with mostly reserves crew here in the U.S. However, the goal should always be to get these little ships effectively armed  manned, and into the Constabulary area of operations as soon as budgets allow.  (SEE: AN IDEA FROM RUSSIA FOR BEEFING UP OUR SIXTH FLEET CHEAPLY AND EFFECTIVELY 
U.S. Offshore  Supply Vessels (OSV) available in lengths 165' to 295'+
 In our post linked to above we note how the Russians using net worked fire control struck effectively targets more than a thousand miles from their little fleet's land locked position. 
Russian Buyan class Missile boat LOA 203 ft

OSVs can be quickly painted battle ship grey and their roomy aft decks fitted out for all sorts of weapons configuration. For example a 3 ship flotilla could contain one ship heavily configured for anti submarine warfare. One for anti Air and one for surface combat. All should have some surface combat capability. The lesson of the BISMARK we think is that a bunch of cheap platforms can gang up on the best platform and take it down if you are willing to take something of a beating before victory. These little flotillas could be permanently stationed and supported near the choke points that limit access to the Mediterranean such as the Straits of the Bosporus. If an enemy decides to sortie into the Mediterranean Just a small flotilla of these mini war ships would be a big deterrent.    
Now the Navy has another idea that should be added to the  mix of covering short falls with craft of opportunity organized into constabulary forces. This idea would add serious fire power and platform numbers to keep and enemy busy whether employed aboard our large capital warships or on a small flotilla of mini war ships, ENTER THE UNDER WATER UNMANNED VEHICLES. We like this idea as one of several , all of which should be being implemented as we write. 
 Ingalls ship yards has noticed the trend toward UUV construction and is embracing it as a potential new profit center and hedge against slowed large war ship construction. We say hurrah to Ingalls. Of course the construction of UUVs is going to involve some cutting edge science, and will come with a relatively high price tag per liner foot of vessel, and involvement with the Navy's complex acquisition system.  All things that Ingalls has long experience in. However as we have noted before, within 75 miles of the big Gulf Coast Ingalls facility there are numerous smaller "Second tier yards" that service the "Jones Act Fleets " but have built patrol boats for the Navy. These highly financially stable yards are quite capable of building UUVs. They should get a piece of the action early on so as to develop production lines and be ready to pick up the pace should Congress again wake up and speed up production on the large war ships.  Finally see: 


Wednesday, February 12, 2020


We have reviewed the M/V VETERAN and Capt. Mike in these pages before and suggested they are a must experience if you are visiting the Chesapeake Bay area . We revisit them now in order to bring you more contact information and some idea about pricing. I have served in the Merchant Marine for decades and while service has included many large industrial vessels I did spend three years in the excursion boat trade for two different owners, and one year in the Charter yacht business. I'm a sophisticated and informed consumer of such services and former long term resident of the Annapolis, MD area .I don't hesitate to recommend the services of the Golden Age Charters. Here is a link to the M/V Veteran's first appearance in our pages.

 While we repeat this information from an advertisement, It is not for us an advertisement but an endorsement. We do not accept advertisements at the present time from anyone but actual fellows of our sister company Helios Ruehls, Inc and these are clearly marked :"Advertisements". We do not sell anything in our blog. We do not receive sales commissions of any kind. We certainly don't collect sales taxes for any state. However we do link visitors often to vendors who are providing books or services that we recommend and might other wise be a bit difficult to find.. Anything our visitors purchase through such vendor links is strictly between  our visitors and the vendor including  all manner of Internet Sales Tax. The region around Annapolis is full of authentic maritime experiences of historic value and some cheesy services that might entertain children but not inform them. THE VETERAN is for all ages expect to disembark entertained and informed. 

Johnas Prybster , Editor

Offering year round Sunrise / Sunset Cruises, On Board Dining, Holiday Outings, Event Hosting, Weddings, Sightseeing, Head Rate Outings and much, much more

aboard the historic Buyboat M/V Veteran with Captain Sheffield. Whether it is just you or you and a group looking for a Chesapeake Bay experience you will treasure forever, contact us today!


⚓ ADULTS: $20 ⚓ CHILDREN: $15 ⚓

Cruises depart from the Urbanna Town Marina and include water, sodas & a photo package!
(442) Bay-4-You Call, text, PM or email to reserve your spot! (442) Bay-4-You


Cruises are for up to 6 people & include non-alcoholic beverages & a photo package!

We make your Bay-dreams come true!
(442) Bay - 4 - You
Welcome Aboard!
My name is Michael Sheffield, USCG licensed captain of the Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Veteran out of Urbanna, Virginia. Veteran was originally named Elsie Louise and hauled freight and dredged oysters for over 65 years.
She was then converted to a menhaden snapper rig in the 1980s and rechristened Georgeanna. Her menhaden career lasted until 2002 when she began a brief career in towing and salvage work. In 2007 she retired and was reshaped into a luxury cruiser and rechristened Veteran, the name she bears today. Through four careers and three deck designs she has kept her hull lines and her spirit intact and today carries on in the indomitable tradition of the adaptable and capable Chesapeake Bay Buyboat.
Want to read more about the life and times of Veteran? Click HERE to read the article in the Southside Sentinel. It is a well written read by Larry Chowning.
We look forward to sharing our love of the history of our region and the wonders of life on the water with you and yours today!
Contact us today for charters, fundraising opportunities, appearances or to find out more about Veteran!

phone: (442) Bay-4-You
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