Illustrated Glossary










Note: All items in italics are fictional only.



A-4 Rocket: Developed by German rocket engineers during World War II, the German A-4 (short for "Aggregat-4") was the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile. Also known as the V-2 (for Vergeltungswaffe 2, "Retribution Weapon 2"), the A-4 weighed roughly fourteen tons (fueled), carried a half-ton explosive payload, and had a range of approximately 200 miles. The A-4 was extensively studied by the Americans and Soviets after the War.


Image courtesy U.S. Navy.





A-4 Skyhawk: Produced by Douglas Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas) between 1954 and 1979, the A-4 is a single-seat carrier-based light attack aircraft powered by one Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A turbojet engine. It has a top speed of 673 mph, a range of 2525 miles, and a ceiling of 42,450 feet. It is normally armed with two 20mm Colt MK12 automatic cannons, and can carry up to 8200 pounds of externally mounted ordnance, including nuclear weapons. 2960 A-4s were produced between 1954 and 1979; the A-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War, and was retired from US Navy service in 2003.


Photo courtesy US Navy.


Wikipedia Factsheet

Boeing Factsheet.

Naval Aviation Museum Factsheet

Aerospace Support Project: Based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the Aerospace Support Project was the headquarters for a secret Air Force program ("Blue Gemini") to intercept and destroy Soviet military satellites, particularly those suspected to be a part of a nuclear OBS (Orbitals Bombardment System).


AFSC. Air Force Systems Command: During the Cold War era, AFSC was responsible for research and development of new weapons systems for the Air Force, and was instrumental in the development of ICBMs (such as the Atlas and Titan) that would eventually become launch vehicles for the nation's fledging space program. The Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program was part of the AFSC from 1963 to its cancellation in 1969.



 USAF Factsheet

Agena-D: Built by Lockheed, the Agena-D was the upper stage of the Thor-Agena and Atlas-Agena satellite launch systems. It was a versatile space vehicle, with an engine capable of being restarted multiple times in space in order to adjust orbits. Specially configured with a docking collar and radar transponder, the Agena-D was the basis for the GATV (Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle) that was used to validate rendezvous and docking procedures during NASA's Gemini missions. Image courtesy NASA.





AGL: Above Ground Level.                                   


AK-47.  The AK (Avtomat Kalashnikova) 47 is a selective fire (automatic / semi-automatic) gas-operated assault rifle that fires a 7.62mm x 39mm cartridge. Produced by the millions, present in virtually every conflict zone, it is one of the most ubiquitous firearms in the world.


Photo: US National Archives

Almaz: Almaz (Russian for "diamond") was a two-man Soviet military space station, primarily intended for orbital reconnaissance, developed by the Vladimir Chelomei’s OKB-52 aerospace design bureau. Launched by the massive Proton booster, three Almaz missions (Salyut 2, Salyut 3 and Salyut 5) were flown between 1973 and 1976; Salyut 2 failed shortly after launch, but Salyuts 3 and 5 were occupied by crews. A 23-mm automatic cannon, intended to protect the Almaz from attack by hostile American spacecraft, was remotely tested on Salyut 3 when it was unoccupied.


Image courtesy NASA.


LINK: "Part 2, Mir Hardware Heritage (NASA RP (Reference Publication) 1357, March 1995"




AMC: Airborne Mission Controller. A specially trained Air Force officer stationed aboard an EC-135A ARIA aircraft, who communicated with Blue Gemini astronauts to relay mission guidance and other instructions from the Mission Control facility located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.


AMU: Astronaut Maneuvering Unit. The AMU was built for the US Air Force, in support of the MOL program. The AMU was a backpack that would permit an astronaut to survive and maneuver independently of a spacecraft. It consisted of six major systems: Propulsion, flight control, oxygen supply, power supply, alarm, and communications. The bulky AMU, weighing 168.3 pounds, was carried in the adapter section of the Gemini spacecraft; wearing the ELSS, connected to the Gemini by a umbilical, the EVA astronaut would make his way rearward to the adapter to don the AMU. The Air Force coordinated with NASA to evaluate the AMU during Gemini IX, but the test was cancelled during the mission.


Photo (courtesy NASA) depicts Astronaut Buzz Aldrin during a test of the AMU; note the metallized over-layer on the legs of Aldrin’s spacesuit; this extra layer was to provide additional protection from the AMU’s hydrogen peroxide thrusters.


PDF Download Link: Summary of Gemini Extravehicular Activity (NASA SP-149) 1967


AN/GRC-109 Special Forces Radio Set. The GRC-109 is a compact, portable radio station used for Continuous Wave (CW) communications, at distances up to 75 miles, under a wide range of climatic conditions. It is based on a clandestine radio set (RS-1) issued by the CIA, which evolved from "suitcase radio” technology developed by the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II. The GRC-109 separates into major components to make it easier to conceal when not in operation. The photo depicts the radio in operation; the three main components (clockwise from lower right) are the T-784 transmitter, R-1004 receiver, and the PP-2685 power supply.

Image courtesy Rich Post - KB8TAD


Rich Post's page for the GRC-109. His excellent site has several links to other information about the GRC-109 and other clandestine radios, including the technical manual for GRU-109.

Angels: A commonly used military radio "proword" (procedure word) used to state altitude in thousands of feet. As an example, "Angels Ten" would indicate ten thousand feet altitude.


Anti-contact gloves: Used in the Arctic and extreme cold weather conditions, thin fabric gloves that protect skin from inadvertently freezing to metal surfaces.


Antonov AN-2: Built by the Antonov Design Bureau, the AN-2 is the largest single-engine bi-plane ever mass-produced. Well-suited for STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) flight, powered by a massive Shvetsov radial engine, the transport version of the AN-2 can carry twelve passengers or nearly a ton and a half of cargo. An immensely successful design, the AN-2 was produced by the thousands in the Soviet Union and several other countries, including China.


Photo (depicting a Soviet AN-2 captured during the US invasion of Grenada) courtesy US National Archives.

Apex Minerals Exploration: Located in Dayton, Ohio, Apex was a cover business that "employed" clandestine operatives who surveyed and established contingency emergency landing sites for Blue Gemini spacecraft.


APL: Assistant Patrol Leader.


Arctic Parka. USAF issue N3B “snorkel” parka used in extreme cold weather conditions.


Photo courtesy Tom Meadows, SSGT USAF, 1972-1980.

ARPS: Aerospace Research Pilot School, located at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During the early years of the Space Age, from 1961 to 1971, the curriculum of the existing USAF Test Pilot School (TPS) was significantly expanded and the school was renamed as the Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS). Initially under the direction of legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager (who served as commandant from 1961 to 1966) the Air Force used the year-long ARPS program as a "finishing school" to groom prospective astronauts for assignment to the X-20A Dyna-Soar, Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) and the NASA space program. In 1971, after all manned military space programs were cancelled, ARPS reverted back to its original designation---USAF Test Pilot School---and syllabus.


USAF Fact Sheet.

AUX 10 (Auxiliary Field Ten) Eglin Air Force Base, Florida: The home base of the 116th Aerospace Operations Support Wing, an Air Force organization tasked with establishing a world-wide network of contingency recovery zones and operational forces to support Aerospace Support Project ("Blue Gemini") missions.  Note: Although there was actually an Auxiliary Field Ten (also known as Dillon Field) active at Eglin during World War II, this facility, located at the far western end of Eglin, was transferred to the Navy at the conclusion of War. It was redesignated as "NOLF (Naval Outlying Field) Choctaw," an auxiliary field of NAS Whiting Field. Still in operation, NOLF Choctaw is primarily used for Navy primary flight training and UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) training operations.


B-17 Flying Fortress: Designed and built by Boeing, the B-17 was a four-engine heavy bomber flown extensively in the European Theater during World War II. Capable of delivering up to four tons of bombs, the B-17 was manned by a crew of ten, had a range of 2000 miles and a cruising speed of 182 miles per hour.


Photo courtesy US Air Force.


LINK: NASA Fact Sheet.

B-4 Bag: A fabric-sided suitcase issued to USAF flight personnel.

Base Leg: The third of four legs (crosswind, downwind, base and approach) of a standard landing approach.


BECO: Booster Engine Cut Off. On Titan II launches, BECO is that point when the first stage has expended its fuel and its two engines cease firing. Immediately afterwards, the second stage engines ignite and explosive bolts jettison the first stage.


Block Two Computer: Designed by the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory and built by IBM, the Block Two was intended as an improved version of NASA's Gemini On-Board Computer, produced especially for the Aerospace Support Project ("Blue Gemini")


Blue Gemini: Officially known as the Aerospace Support Project, Blue Gemini was a program to secretly intercept, inspect and destroy hostile Soviet satellites---particularly those suspected of carrying nuclear warheads---in orbit.


Photo (Blue Gemini crew patch) courtesy of Tim Gagnon.

BOQ: Bachelor Officers Quarters. Apartment-like quarters for unmarried officers at military bases.


Box, The: "The Box" was the Blue Gemini crews' nickname for the Gemini-I procedures training simulator located at the Aerospace Support Project ("Blue Gemini") headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.


Image (courtesy NASA) depicts a NASA Gemini procedures simulator.

Brezhnev, Leonid Ilyich: As General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 1964 until 1982, Brezhnev presided over the Soviet Union.


Image (courtesy Nixon Presidential Library) depicts Brezhnev speaking with President Richard M. Nixon.

Browning Hi-Power Pistol: A recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol, originally produced by Fabrique Nationale (FN) in Belgium that fires the 9mm x 19mm Parabellum cartridge. The Browning Hi-Power was adopted by several countries (including the UK), and was unusual for its era in that it used a high capacity “double-stacked” magazine that held thirteen rounds of ammunition.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Burya: Similar in design to the American "Snark" and "Navajo" cruise missiles, the Soviet Burya ("Storm") was a nuclear-armed intercontinental tri-sonic (Mach 3) cruise missile designed by the Lavochkin aerospace design bureau. Burya was powered by a ramjet engine and two rocket boosters. The program began in 1954, with active launches beginning in 1957, and was cancelled in 1960.


Astronautix link.


C-130 Hercules: Designed and built by Lockheed, in active service since 1954, the venerable C-130 Hercules transport is powered by four Allison turboprop engines. Able to operate from unimproved airfields, the C-130 can carry up to twenty-one tons of cargo and can airdrop up to sixty-four paratroopers. (Photo courtesy National Museum of the US Air Force)


 LINK: USAF Fact Sheet.

Can Men: "Can Men" was the Blue Gemini crews' less-than-complimentary nickname for military astronauts assigned to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program.


CAPCOM: Capsule Communicator. A member of the Mission Control team, normally an astronaut, who communicates with a crew during flight.


CCP: Communications Checkpoint.


Cessna 150. Manufactured by the tens of thousands between 1958 and 1977, the popular Cessna 150 was widely used for pilot training and general aviation.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia Link

CH-53: A heavy-lift helicopter built by Sikorsky, powered by two General Electric turboshaft engines, the CH-53 was used in a multitude of roles, including search and rescue, cargo transport, and troop transport.

Chelomei, Vladimir: Chief Designer of the Soviet OKB-52 aerospace design bureau, Chelomei was responsible for the UR-100 and UR-500 ("Proton") heavy booster. Astronautix link.


Chevrolet Panel Van (1957)


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Claymore mine (M18A1): A command-detonated, electrically-fired directional anti-personnel mine used extensively by US forces during the Vietnam War. The Claymore mine employed a curved plastic body that encased a matrix containing 700 steel pellets positioned in front of an explosive charge of C-4. The Claymore mine was unique in that it could be quickly emplaced and later recovered if not fired, so it was extremely well suited for protection of fixed positions (bases and camps) as well as temporary positions like patrol perimeters and ambushes.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


LINK: Wikipedia

Critical Target Upgrade program: Managed by the Aerospace Support Project, a program in which Titan II ICBMs were selectively removed from their silos for extensive hardware upgrades, ostensibly to increase their reliability and accuracy for attacking critical targets in the Soviet Union. In fact, the upgrades brought the modified Titan IIs up to "man-rating" standards, and they were subsequently used for launching Gemini-I spacecraft in the Blue Gemini program.


CRZ: Contingency Recovery Zone. Emergency landing of the Gemini-I spacecraft, in case it has to leave orbit early. Normally, during active Blue Gemini missions, each CRZ is manned by a small team of personnel from the 116th Aerospace Operations Support Wing. The teams are outfitted with special communications gear and a portable TACAN guidance beacon.


De Havilland U-1 Otter. A single-engine high-wing STOL (Short Take-off and Landing) aircraft built by de Havilland of Canada. Essentially designed as a flying truck, commonly used as a bush plane to deliver supplies in remote regions, the rugged and dependable Otter is powered by a Pratt & Whitney 600 horsepower radial engine. The Otter was adopted by the US Army as the U-1A and the US Navy as the U-1C.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia Link

EC-135 ARIA (Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft).  The ARIA were Boeing EC-135A aircraft specially configured as airborne telemetry and tracking platforms. Eight EC-135A ARIA were produced initially; ultimately, a fleet of twenty were deployed.


Photo: EC-135 ARIA on display at National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (Photo: Mike Jenne)

ELSS: Extravehicular Life Support System. Connected to the Gemini spacecraft by a umbilical, the ELSS contained a thirty-minute reserve oxygen supply, and also assisted with thermal and moisture management during EVA operations. The ELSS was originally designed as a component of the Air Force’s Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU.) It was first carried on Gemini VIII, to be used with an EVA Support Package (ESP) backpack, but was not tested because the flight was terminated early. The ELSS was used by Astronaut Gene Cernan on Gemini IX; Cernan was supposed to test the AMU on the same flight, but the AMU test was cancelled because of extensive fogging inside Cernan’s visor. The ELSS chestpack was subsequently carried and used during EVA on the remaining Gemini missions (X, XI and XII).


Note: The accompanying image shows NASA astronaut William Anders during a Zero-G EVA training flight. The ELSS is the bulky pack strapped to Anders's chest.


Photo courtesy NASA


PDF Download Link: Summary of Gemini Extravehicular Activity (NASA SP-149) 1967

F-111A "Aardvark". Produced by General Dynamics, the F-111 is a two-man tactical fighter-bomber powered by two Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-3 engines. It has a top speed of 1452 mph, cruising speed of 685 mph, a range of 3632 miles, and a ceiling of 57,000 feet. The F-111A employs variable geometry wings, which can be swept forward for low speed flight (take offs and landings) and rearward for high speed flight. The F-111B, a Navy air superiority fighter variant, was cancelled before it entered service.


Photo courtesy US Air Force.


National Museum of the US Air Force Factsheet

F-111A Crew Module (“Ejection Pod”) The F-111A’s Crew Module is a unique alternative to ejection seats, in that the entire two-man cockpit physically separates from the aircraft in an emergency, and is landed under a single parachute. An inflatable “impact attenuation bag,” located underneath the Crew Module, also serves to soften the landing. Depending upon the tactical environment, the crew module can also function as a shelter for the aircrew until they are rescued. The Crew Module is also buoyant and self-righting, so it can function as a life raft as well.


Photo courtesy National Museum of the US Air Force.


Wikipedia Link

F-4 Phantom II. Produced by McDonnell Douglas between 1958 and 1979, the F-4 is a two-man all-weather fighter powered by two General Electric J-79 engines. It has a top speed of 1400 mph, cruising speed of 590 mph, a range of 1750 miles, and a ceiling of 60,000+ feet. In addition to being a highly effective air-to-air fighter, it was also employed in an air-to-ground attack role, and was capable of carrying up to eight tons of externally mounted ordnance.


Photo courtesy US Air Force.


National Museum of the US Air Force Factsheet

FIDO: Flight Dynamics Officer in Mission Control.


FM: Frequency Modulated (Radio).


G4C Gemini Entravehicular Spacesuit. The G4C is an enhanced version of the basic Gemini G3C spacesuit, intended to protect an astronaut operating outside the spacecraft. The 35-pound G4C spacesuit has an external protective cover layer to protect against micrometeoroids and temperature extremes (-150 degrees F to +250 degrees F). The design was improved over the course of the Gemini missions, in order to reduce bulk and increase mobility. For later missions in which the AMU (Astronaut Maneuvering Unit) was scheduled for testing, the G4C incorporated an additional “iron pants” layer of stainless steel fabric and other materials, to protect the lower extremities from the AMU’s thrusters. The G4C spacesuit was used in five of the ten NASA Gemini missions.


Image courtesy NASA.


PDF Download Link: “Spacesuit Development and Qualification for Project Gemini,” NASA 2012


PDF Download Link: Summary of Gemini Extravehicular Activity (NASA SP-149) 1967

GAU-5 / CAR-15. Produced by Colt Firearms, a shortened submachine gun / carbine variant of the Armalite 5.56mm AR-15 / M16 assault rifle. CAR-15 is the Army version and the GAU-5 is the Air Force version.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Gemini On-Board Computer. Built by the Federal Systems Division of IBM, the Gemini On-Board computer weighed 58.98 pounds and operated in six mission phases: Prelaunch, Ascent backup, Insertion, Catch-up, Rendezvous, and Re-entry. It was relatively compact for its era, measuring 18.9 inches high, 14.5 inches wide and 12.75 inches deep.


Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.


Ron Burkey's Gemini Computer Page


Gemini-I. The Gemini-I was an interceptor variant of the standard Gemini spacecraft, used to conduct IIK (Intercept-Inspect-Kill) missions against Soviet satellites suspected to be part of a nuclear-armed Orbital Bombardment System. To accomplish the IIK mission, the Gemini-I was equipped with an enhanced acquisition/targeting radar and a Multi-Function Disruptor, a device intended to disable and/or destroy target satellites. Unlike NASA’s Gemini, the Gemini-I returned to earth by paraglider rather than pparachute; to this end, it was equipped with the paraglider, tricycle skid landing gear, a landing camera, a TACAN navigation system, and a height sensor. The Gemini-I relied on an array of eight batteries as the main source of electrical power, rather than the fuel cells used on most of NASA’s Gemini spacecraft. The Gemini-I was equipped with low velocity ejection seats (only available for post-reentry use) rather than the Weber ejection seats on NASA Gemini spacecraft.


GET: Ground Elapsed Time


GRU (Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye). Foreign military intelligence directorate of the Soviet military


HAF (Horizontal Assembly Facility). Located in San Diego, the HAF is where Gemini-I / Titan II “stacks” were inspected, assembled, and encapsulated in a transport unit before being loaded onto a specially configured Navy LST (Landing Ship, Tank) for the 3000 nautical mile voyage to the PDF (Pacific Departure Facility) launch site on Johnston Island.


HF: High Frequency


HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” rescue helicopter. Built by Sikorsky, the HH-3E is powered by two General Electric T58-GE-5 engines. The HH-3E is a variant of the CH-3E; it was configured for the Combat Search and Rescue mission with the addition of armor plating, self-sealing fuel tanks, a rescue hoist, defensive armament (two 7.62mm M60 machine guns) and an in-flight refueling capability. It is normally manned by a crew of four: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Flight Mechanic, and Gunner.  It has a top speed of 177 mph, cruising speed of 154 mph, a range of 779  miles (with external tanks), and a ceiling of 21,000 feet.


Photo courtesy National Museum of the US Air Force.


National Museum of the US Air Force Factsheet

HO-4S. Sikorsky "Chickasaw" helicopter, used by all branches of the US military. In service with US Coast Guard from 1951.

Hypergolic Fuels: A combination of fuel and oxidizer that spontaneously combust when the components come into contact with one another. An example is Aerozine 50 (a 50/50 mix of hydrazine and UMDH) fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer used in the Titan II booster. Hypergolic fuels are typically highly corrosive and dangerous to handle.


Photo (courtesy US National Archives) depicts missile fuels technicians offloading oxidizer from a Titan II missile. The technicians are protected by full encapsulating RFHCO (Rocket Fuel Handlers Coverall Outfits).



IBM 360 Model 40 Computer: A mid-range mainframe computer manufactured by IBM (International Business Machines) between 1965 and 1977.


Photo courtesy IBM.


IBM Archives Link


Wikipedia Link


IRBM: Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile


JATO: Jet Assisted Take-Off. A special means of takeoff in which solid rocket motors (bolted to special reinforced attachment points on the fuselage) provide additional thrust for heavily loaded aircraft, enabling them to take off in a shorter distance. JATO is sometimes referred to as RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) which is probably a more accurate term.


Photo (courtesy US Navy) depicts Blue Angels “Fat Albert” C-130 support aircraft executing a JATO take-off at Pensacola NAS, Florida.

Karman Ghia. A unique design collaboration between a German company (Karmann) and an Italian firm (Ghia), the Karmann Ghia was a sports car manufactured by Volkswagen from 1955 to 1974. An extremely popular import in the United States, the air-cooled, rear engine Karmann Ghia was available in 2+2 coupe and convertible models.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.





Khrushchev, Nikita. First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and Premier (Chairman of the Council of Ministers) from 1958 to 1964.


Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

KIA: Killed in Action


Kodak Instamatic 104 camera. First manufactured by camera giant Eastman Kodak in 1963, over sixty million copies of this extremely popular camera were sold. The pocket-sized Instamatic used a drop-in “126” cartridge with pre-loaded 35mm film, as well as a rotating disposable “flash cube” that greatly simplified the process of taking pictures for most consumers.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia link

Launch Complex 41 (LC-41). Built in the early Sixties by the US Air Force, LC-41 was intended to be an Integrate-Transfer-Launch (ITL) facility to accommodate launches of large payloads with the Titan IIIC booster. The ITL concept was effectively a factory approach to launch operations, using dedicated facilities on site to prepare solid rocket motors and a massive Vertical Integration Building (VIB) to assemble booster components and payloads before transport to the nearby launch pad. LC-41 and its sister complex (LC-40) are located at the north end of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Both facilities (now redesignated as Space Launch Complexes 40  and 41) are still active; SLC-41 has been reconfigured to launch payloads with the Atlas V rocket, and SLC-40 is now leased to SpaceX, a commercial spaceflight venture, for launches of their Falcon 9 rocket.


Photo: Current view of LC-41, courtesy of NASA Kennedy Space Center.





Logistics Support Office (LSO). Responsible for establishing clandestine contingency recovery sites (CRZs) in countries.


LST - Landing Ship, Tank. Built during World War II to support amphibious operations with the distinctive capability to unload (through hinged bow doors and a special ramp) tanks, vehicles and heavy cargo directly onto unimproved beach landing sites. Over a thousand LSTs were built during the War, and many LSTs still remained in service decades afterwards.


Photo courtesy US Navy.


Wikipedia Link.

LZ: Landing Zone


M1 Garand rifle. Designed by John Garand and manufactured by the Springfield Armory (and other entities), the M1 is a gas-operated, clip-fed semi-automatic combat rifle chambered for the .30 caliber Springfield cartridge. Fed by an eight-round clip, the M1 has a muzzle velocity of 2800 feet per second, a maximum range of 800 meters, and a maximum effective range of 400 meters. Over six million M1 rifles were built.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia link

M3 Submachine Gun. A blow-back operated submachine gun chambered for the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge. Weighing approximately eight pounds (empty), primarily consisting of stamped steel parts and very few machined components, except the bolt and barrel, the M3 “Grease Gun” was easy and cheap to manufacture. Intended to replace the more expensive Thompson submachine gun, almost a million M3’s were produced during World War II.


Image depicts an M3 fitted with a silencer produced for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). Photo courtesy US Army Special Operations Command History Office.


Wikipedia link


M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon. Originally manufactured by the Ithaca Gun Company, the M6 is a compact “over-under” double barrel (.22 caliber Hornet and .410 gauge shotgun) survival weapon. It could be folded in half for storage in aircraft survival kits. A compartment in its stock stored ammunition.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia Link

MAC 10 Ingram Submachine Gun. A very compact blow-back operated, magazine-fed submachine gun chambered for 9mm Parabellum and .45 caliber. Designed by Gordon Ingram and manufactured by the Military Armament Corporation, it was commonly outfitted with a Sionics two-stage sound suppressor, as depicted in the photo.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Makarov pistol. The standard sidearm of Soviet military and police forces, the Makarov is a semi-automatic blowback-operated pistol designed by Nikolai Makarov in 1948. Fed by an eight-round magazine, it is chambered for the 9mm x 18mm Makarov pistol cartridge.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia link

Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL). The MOL was planned as a two-man military space station launched by the Titan IIIM booster. Its principal mission (classified at the time) was to establish a manned surveillance platform in orbit, built around the DORIAN high resolution camera system. Between 1965 and 1967, three groups of military astronauts (13 Air Force, 3 Navy and 1 Marine) were selected and trained to fly the MOL An unmanned MOL spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral in November 1966. After defense officials concluded that its reconnaissance mission could more effectively be executed by unmanned spy satellites, the MOL program was abruptly cancelled in June 1969.


Photo courtesy National Museum of the US Air Force.


National Museum of the US Air Force Factsheet



Mark 13 “day-night” flare. A pyrotechnic signaling device contained in many US Air Force and US Navy survival kits. The versatile Mark 13 has a “day” end that emits dense orange smoke when lit, and a “night” end that has a bright orange flare.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


MAT 49 Submachine gun. The French MAT (Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle) 49 is a magazine-fed, blowback-operated submachine gun chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge (9mm x 19mm). Expressly designed for compactness, the MAT 49’s heavy wire stock can be collapsed into the receiver, and the magazine can be folded up and against the barrel.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia link

MC-130E Combat Talon. A special operations variant of the venerable Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, expressly configured for low level clandestine penetration operations into hostile or denied territories. The MC-130E is equipped with an array of special electronics, as well as the Fulton STAR (Surface-to-Air Recovery) system, which allows the pick-up of personnel and items from the ground while the aircraft is in flight.


Photo courtesy US Air Force.


PDF Download: “The Praetorian STARship: The Untold Story of the Combat Talon,” Colonel Jerry L. Thigpen, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL, December 2001. Probably the single best unclassified reference on the MC-130E.


McNamara, Robert S. A former Ford executive, McNamara was Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, from January 21, 1961 until February 29, 1968. McNamara oversaw much of the buildup of the Vietnam War, and was heavily involved in the development of nuclear warfare strategic policies and the aggressive modernization of nuclear forces. McNamara’s tenure was marked by some very controversial decisions concerning military weapons programs, including cancellation of the X-20A Dyna-Soar and the B-70 bomber.


Photo courtesy the Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Link: Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Mittens, Arctic. Commonly issued to US military personnel in extreme cold weather environments.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Mode I Abort (Seat Ejection). For the NASA Gemini spacecraft, the Mode I Abort option is available from Zero to 75,000 feet. Mode I is the only abort option available up to 15,000 feet (roughly fifty seconds into flight) at which time Mode I-II becomes available. Between 15,000 feet and 75,000 feet, the Gemini Command Pilot elects whether to employ Mode I or Mode I-II.  In Mode I Abort, the two astronauts escape a malfunctioning booster by firing the Weber ejection seats. Since the Gemini-I variant is equipped only with low velocity ejection seats (for post-reentry ejection) the Mode I abort option is not available to Blue Gemini crews.


Nomex: A flame-resistant fabric used in flight clothing and other equipment.


OG-107 jungle fatigues. Designed for tropical climates, the OG-107 uniform was constructed of lightweight olive drab rip-stop poplin fabric. It is readily distinguished by the jacket’s unique slanted pockets.


Photo courtesy Wes Agar, USAF retired.

Paraglider. Based on a flexible wing concept pioneered by NASA engineer Francis M. Rogallo and his wife Gertrude, the paraglider was proposed as a means to safely return the two-man Gemini spacecraft to a landing on dry ground rather than a splashdown at sea. The paraglider employed inflatable struts for rigidity. The original Gemini design included several features (including extendable tripod landing gear with skids) to facilitate landing with the paraglider, but the concept was not operational by the time NASA flew the ten manned Gemini missions.


Photo (by Mike Jenne) depicts a full-scale test paraglider on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, VA. It is suspended above the TTV-1 (Test Tow Vehicle-1) used to evaluate the paraglider concept for the Gemini spacecraft.



Point Eight. During a Gemini/Titan II launch, “Point Eight” is when the spacecraft’s velocity has exceeded eighty percent of orbital velocity. Point Eight occurs at approximately 522,000 feet altitude, at roughly T+310 seconds into flight. Point Eight marks the point when the Mode Three Abort option becomes available.


PRC-25 Radio: A lightweight FM (Frequency Modulated) field tactical transceiver that operated in the VHF (Very High Frequency) range with an operating range of three to seven miles. Waterproof, durable, simple to operate, weighing approximately twenty pounds, the PRC-25 was introduced in 1962 and used extensively by US and allied forces in Vietnam until it was replaced by the PRC-77. A state-of-the-art radio for its day, it was constructed almost entirely of solid state components, using only one tube.


Photo courtesy Bob Sullivan (WØYVA)

PRC-90 Survival Radio. A dual-channel emergency transceiver, the AN/PRC-90 is capable of two-way voice communications, MCW (modulated continuous wave) communications and can also function as a homing beacon.

Photo courtesy Joe McGrath, USAF Retired.


Program 437. An operational anti-satellite (ASAT) system which employed nuclear-armed Thor IRBM missiles deployed on Johnston Island in the Pacific, from 1963 to 1975.


DOWNLOAD LINK: “Shooting Down a Star: Program 437, the US Nuclear ASAT System, and Present-Day Copycat Killers,” USAF Air University, April 2000


Project Blue Book. Headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Project Blue Book was an effort to collect, investigate and analyze reports of UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) sightings. Blue Book (under various project names) operated from 1947 until December 1969.


National Archives Link on Project Blue Book


Project Gemini. In the course of ten missions, conducted from March 1965 to November 1966, sixteen Gemini astronauts validated the tasks and procedures (long duration missions, rendezvous, docking, and extravehicular activity) necessary for the United States to go to the Moon. Project Gemini bridged the gap from the theoretical to the practical, and literally showed NASA how to live and fly in space.

Photo courtesy NASA.

LINK: Gemini References


Schriever, General Bernard A. “Bennie” As the leader of the US Air Force’s AFSC (Air Force Systems Command) General Schriever oversaw the development of the nation’s arsenal of ballistic missiles (Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman) and was an ardent proponent of military manned space activities such as the X-20A Dyna-Soar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL).


Photo courtesy US Air Force.


PDF Download: “Bernard A. Schriever: Challenging the Unknown,” Jacob Neufeld, Office of Air Force History, 2005.

Sextant (Gemini): A handheld sextant used for on-board navigation tests during the Gemini program. The sextant weighed roughly six pounds and measured 7 inches x 7.25 inches x 6.0625 inches.


Photo courtesy NASA.


Download Link: “Sextant Sighting Measurements from On Board the Gemini XII Spacecraft” -NASA - Dec 1968

SLC: Space Launch Complex.


SOP: Standard Operating Procedure.


Survival knife, USAF and USN issue.  This knife has a five-inch Parkerized blade with a saw-toothed back. Its handle is constructed of stacked leather washers, with a hexagonal hammer butt. It is normally issued with a leather sheath that contains a sharpening stone.


Photo courtesy Samuel Levin, USAF Retired.

T-38 Talon. Produced by Northrop, the T-38 is a two-seat high altitude, supersonic trainer powered by two General Electric J-85-GE-5 turbojet engines. It has a top speed of 858 mph, a range of 1093 miles, and a ceiling of 55,000 feet.


Photo courtesy US Air Force.


US Air Force Factsheet

TDY: Temporary Duty.


Thor (PGM-17) IRBM. The first operational ballistic missile in service with the US Air Force. Designed in 1957, it was deployed as an IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) from 1958 to 1963. Modified, it was later deployed as the launch vehicle for the US Air Force Program 437 anti-satellite system based on Johnston Island in the Pacific, until April 1975.


Photo courtesy US Air Force.

Tiger Stripe Camouflage. A distinctive camouflage pattern sometimes used by US Special Forces, Army LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), Navy SEALs, and some US Air Force personnel (Pararescue and some flight crews) in Vietnam.


Image depicts US soldier (in foreground) wearing tiger stipe camouflage; the soldier to his rear is wearing the more common ERDL (from Engineer Research & Development Laboratories) “leaf” pattern.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia link

UH-1 “Huey” Helicopter. Produced by Bell Helicopter, the UH-1 is a utility helicopter powered by a single Lycoming T53-L-11 turboshaft engine. It has a top speed of 135 mph, cruising speed of 125 mph, a range of 315 miles, and a ceiling of 19,390 feet. Typically armed with two M60 7.62mm machine guns, it can carry up to 3880 pounds of cargo or personnel. Produced by the thousands, the UH-1 helicopter was used extensively in different roles---troop transport, medevac, command & control, gunship---during the Vietnam War.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


Wikipedia Link

URC-64 Survival Radio. Manufactured by Magnavox, the URC-64 was a small, portable survival radio issued to US Air Force flight personnel. The URC-64 operated on four crystal-controlled channels (225-285 MHz). First issued in 1964 and used extensively in Vietnam---“Bat-21” Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton used his URC-64 to communicate with rescue forces---it was eventually replaced by the PRC-90 survival radio.


Photo courtesy Bob Sullivan (WØYVA)





Vapor Barrier (VB) Extreme Cold Weather Boots. Insulated footwear issued to US troops operating in extreme cold weather conditions.


Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


VOQ: Visiting Officers Quarters.


VOX: Voice-activated.


X-20A Dyna-Soar. The X-20A Dyna-Soar, designed and built by Boeing, was a military reusable spaceplane intended for several roles: Reconnaissance, bombing, orbital rescue, satellite maintenance and interception/destruction of enemy satellites. The program started in November 1959 and was cancelled in December 1963. Unlike contemporary spacecraft that returned to earth on a ballistic trajectory, the X-20A Dyna-Soar would glide to earth in pilot-controlled flight and land like an aircraft.


Image courtesy US Air Force.


LINK: X-20A Dyna-Soar References.