Cool Extras

I have some extra neat stuff this week, so I figured I’d combine a couple things in another post this morning. First up is the first really cool Tumblr page I’ve run across: Rare Antique & Beautiful Firearms. It’s only been running for a week or so, so time will tell if they can keep up the volume of photos – but there is some very neat stuff there, like this gorgeous Schwarzlose 1898:

Schwarzlose 1898 pistol

Just an aside – I can’t find any contact info on the page, and would very much like to chat with whoever is running it – so if you see this, please drop me a line at Thanks!

Secondly, I have a project of my own from GunLab. It’s not quite the sort of thing we normally cover here, but I’m pretty jazzed about it, and figured I’d share the link anyway. 🙂
Rat Patrol!

Yeah, I’m reliving a show whose actors were probably all dead before I was born, I have a 1946 Willys Jeep that is running at long last, so I had no choice but to mount a beltfed on it. The video of the whole project is over at GunLab, or you can just watch it right here:


  1. Nice work Ian!!! Loved watchin’ the machining work…I used to work in the Machine Shop at Sikorsky Aircraft in WPB, FL…not as a machinist, but as a paper pusher – and learned a lot by watching…your bud does good work…The Rat Patrol began on ABC in 1966 – when I was 16 – not so long ago. The German ‘villian’, Hans Gudegast, aka Eric Bradeen, is still alive as a soap opera star. Chris George died a number of years ago…dunno about Gary Raymond or Larry Casey…

    CB in FL

  2. Used to love Rat Patrol as a kid, but even then I wondered why the “Germans” drove around in US M3 half tracks, and wasn’t it British SAS that drove around in Jeeps with Vickers K guns ( and numerous other scrounged machine guns) mounted in various positions?

  3. There was a Documentary in 2009 called “Lost in Lybia” about the New Zealand Long Range Desert Group in world war two. Basically followed the exploits of one small group looking for 3 Chevy LRDG Trucks lost in 1941. The LRDG had run into an Italian Autosahariana patrol.
    A firefight followed and some of the New Zealanders where killed or captured. The trucks and graves still lie in Lybia undisturbed since 1941 complete with spent shell cases. Very moving documentary brought home by this frozen piece of WWII.

    • Well, for LRDG-themed movies, you should see the 1958 ‘Sea of Sand’ and 1969 ‘Play Dirty’. For additional desert off-road WW2 flavor, watch the 1955 ‘Young Lions’,and 1958 ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ as well.
      I don’t think we had the Rat Patrol aired here in Central Europe (Iron Curtain and other such small nuisances), but there were two desert warfare-themed Czech movies: 1972 ‘Oaza’ and 2009 ‘Tobruk’. The ‘Oaza’ is a story about Czech Foreign Legionnaires trucking through the desert (NB – in a Polish Star 660 6×6 truck of 1960s vintage), when strafed by an R/C model of Ju-88. In a running gun duel, both truck (with ZB-53/ TK vz.37 machine gun in the bed) and aircraft went into flames, dismounting both crews, who then fought for control over the only watering hole in the area. Note for gun-buffs: the Legionnaires used ultra-rare, and seen only in this movie prototype SMGs from late 1940s: the 9 mm ZK 247, woodstocked with magazine wells swinging over 90-degree arc. Yep, same as in Sten, the only difference is, that it fed and fired in both vertical and horizontal positions!
      The ‘Tobruk’ is a Czech superproduction, quite a good movie, and with superior armament and equipment – which, sadly, leaves nothing to note for exotic guns lovers. Both are available on DVD, though the Oaza sadly has no English language version.

      • Thanks Leszek. I saw the ‘Tobruk’ film looong ago and recall it as quite good too. As for ‘Oaza’ (‘Oasis’, I guess) you made me curious – the inclusion of ČZ 247 subgun alone makes it worth seeing! I will try to track the film it down, even without English subtitles…

        As for the ČZ 247 rareness, I would like to respectfully add that it actually surpassed the prototype stage, with a total of more than 10 000 made till 1949. The Czechoslovak People’s Militia (Lidové milice, or LM for short) eventually got most of those, as the army was more interested in the vz.23/vz.25 smgs developed by Jaroslav Holeček, which ended up officially adopted as we all know. A small batch also seems to have been exported to Bolivia, a long-standing buyer of Czechslovak firearms since the Chaco War (a relatively large order from Egypt of several thousands did not materialize though).

  4. It would be really neat if someone with the means to do so were to build an authentic replica of that workhorse of the LRDG, the Chevrolet 30-cwt truck, complete with period equipment and armament, right down to the sand channels.

    Incidentally, the concept that the SAS had its origins in the LRDG is a historical myth. The LRDG was founded by Major Ralph Bagnold, a regular officer of the pre-war British Army who had served on the Western Front during World War One with the Royal Engineers from 1915-1918. He was a graduate of Malvern College, Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius Colleges, and the Royal Military Academy. Bagnold went out to the Middle East in the mid-20’s after transferring to the Royal Signal Corps in 1920. Together with a few fellow enthusiasts, he began exploring and charting the Western Desert throughout the late 1920’s and into the 1930’s. What started out as weekend trips from Cairo to the Sinai or Siwa Oasis developed into 6000-mile journeys that covered most of the desert between the Mediterranean and northern Sudan. In the course of these explorations, he perfected the sun compass, developed the sand channel for unsticking vehicles in deep sand and amassed a huge storehouse of knowledge.

    One day before Italy declared war on June 10th 1940 and mobilized an army in Libya , Bagnold had approached the GOC Middle East, General Sir Archibald Wavell, with a proposal to form Long Range Patrols ( which eventually became the LRDG ), whose primary mission would be in-depth armed reconaissance and information-gathering far behind enemy lines. Wavell gave his full approval on June 23rd and the all-volunteer LRDG was born. Some of the greatest names in desert warfare history — Pat Clayton, William Kennedy Shaw, Guy Prendergast, Michael Crichton-Stuart, Micheal Sadler, Don Steele, Gus Holliman, Jake Easonsmith, Robin Gurdon and E.C. Mitford among others — were among them.

    The SAS, on the other hand, was the brainchild of a one-time member of No. 8 Commando, a young and very bold Captain David Stirling. He bluffed his way into the headquarters of the General Officer Commanding Middle East Forces, General Sir Claude Auchinleck ( who had superceded Wavell ) in July 1941 and managed to gain an audience with the Deputy Chief Of Staff, General Neil Ritchie. Stirling convinced Ritchie — and subsequently Auchinleck — of the need for a small, highly-mobile raiding unit that could conduct lightning operations against enemy logistics, particularly the airfields and aircraft which were vital to the successful outcome of the desert war. Permission was given for a complement of six commissioned officers and 60 enlisted men, and the SAS came into being. Stirling’s command was known as Detachment L of the Special Air Service Brigade, a misnomer designed to fool enemy intelligence into thinking that special parachute troops had arrived in the Middle East. The SAS has long since adopted its original nom-de-guerre and proudly kept this alias as its official name. There was no shortage of volunteers for the SAS, and the names of legendary individuals such as Blair “Paddy” Mayne, Bill Fraser, Bonnington, Thomas, Edward McDonald, John Henderson, Gordon Alston, Randolph Churchill, Jock Lewes and Fitzroy MacLean will forever be engraved in the history of the SAS.

    Most people, historians included, become confused about the LRDG and SAS because the two units collaborated very closely throughout the Desert War and often conducted joint operations. Initially, the SAS relied upon the LRDG to provide them with transportation in and out of the battle zone, for they were the best desert navigators available, bar none. Later, when the SAS had accumulated more experience and desert knowledge, they began to conduct independent operations of their own and continued to do so up to the conclusion of the Desert Campaign. Nevertheless, the two units often combined their resources for raids against the Axis powers up until the very end. Both kept their individual identities and combat roles throughout. Incidentally, Major Peniakoff, later of fame as the leader of “Popski’s Private Army”, was closely associated with the SAS and LRDG, as was Lord Jellicoe, son of the famous Admiral and an advocate of special warfare operations.

    • Well, there is an original LRDG Chevy on display at (IIRC) the Imperial War Museum in London. Doesn’t have and gear still with it, though.

      We need a Forgotten War Vehicles site! It could cover those trucks, and Lawrence of Arabia’s Rolls Royces, and so on…we just need someone with the knowledge to put it together. 🙂

  5. Love the idea of driving around with the semi-auto sticking up from the Jeep!
    How many traffic signs do you average per day? (hitting them with the muzzle, good thing the new ones are plastic)
    From my other hat, EMS and race crash rescue, REALLY a “roll Bar” with bent primary supports and an unsupported portion even with your head??? Where is the support for the upper loop and the diagonal bracing?
    Schwarzlose 1898, looks like the design father of the Ruger .22s. how big is the thing? Most interesting.

  6. “I have a 1946 Willys Jeep that is running at long last, so I had no choice but to mount a beltfed on it”

    That has got be the most awesome sentence I have read all day…

  7. It was really interesting that the largely-forgotten Italian Autosaharan units were actually mentioned at all. Thanks, Mike! Do you ( or does anyone else ) have any additional information or reliable recommended reading about them? They were the equivalent of the LRDG, as were the Afrika Korps’ special desert units, and I think their side of history is every bit as important as that of the LRDG and SAS. Without them, the story would be sadly incomplete.

  8. Had a ’49 CJ3A as a daily driver back in ’80. Sold it to buy a house I lost money on. But got a Border Collie in ’85. Now have 3. Still a CJ and Border Collies…

  9. Rat Patrol seems to have disappeared from Netflix since I last watched it. I’m watching Play Dirty now which seems to promise some jeeping in the desert.

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