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Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 7:10pm

French News, 1948

Yearly summary (placeholder post).


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 7:18pm

Aubert Named PM
Friday, January 2, 1948 - President Clemenceau named relative political unknown Jean-Baptiste Aubert, a member of the center-left Front Républicaine, to take over the role of President of the Council to replace recently-resigned Bastien Maillard. Aubert faces a difficult situation, heading a cabinet drawn from the center-right Alliance Républicaine. Over the last few months, the coalition between Front Républicaine and Alliance Républicaine has been sorely tested. Aubert's relative political inexperience, both on the national and international level, weigh heavily against him. Both sides acknowledge that the junior politician is one of the few that both parties can agree on, but most political observers believe Aubert's tenure is likely to be short and tempestuous.

According to rumors printed in Paris-Soir, President Clemenceau reportedly asked Front Républicaine party leaders to instead accept the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs in exchange for promoting Edmond Michelet to replace Maillard. Michelet is both well-regarded and experienced in his current role of vice-president of the council. Front Républicaine leaders reportedly declined the offer and insisted upon 'all or nothing' from Clemenceau.

At the same time, President Clemenceau named Georges Mandel, the current Minister of the Colonies, to temporarily replace former Minister of the Interior Marcel Sébillot, who retired unexpectedly last December, allegedly due to an intense personal clash with Maillard, who resigned only twelve days later. Mandel, who has served on the cabinet since 1941, will likely head both ministries until a replacement is named.

Voisin et Hennequin
Wednesday, January 14, 1948 - Aided by the small air force of the Sultan of Ti'en, Voisin and Hennequin put into practice the first stage of their plan to defeat Jinlung, the mysterious ace leader of the mercenary Seven Yellow Pennants, and bring down the rebel Prince Bilan, who has taken refuge on the island of Belitun Mangkal. Finding an unlikely ally in British flying-boat pilot Malcolm Brown, their surprise attack on the harbour of Belitung Mangkal rescues the crews of several captured oil tankers. Prince Bilan, realizing his cause is lost, boards a flying boat to flee the country, escorted by Jinlung and the remaining Seven Yellow Pennants. Voisin and Hennequin quickly refuel their seaplanes and take off in pursuit.

Carriers Headed to Indochina
Monday, January 19, 1948 - The aircraft carriers St. Cyr, Clemenceau, and Gambetta departed Brest today, heading for Cam Ranh Bay in Indochina. The Clemenceau and Gambetta carry between them nearly a hundred and fifty aircraft for delivery to the French Air Force and the Indochinese Air Defense Force, and will return to France following the completion of their delivery mission; however St. Cyr will remain in the Pacific until 1949, when the ship returns home to the Atlantic Fleet.

It remains uncertain if St. Cyr's long cruise to the Pacific is related to rumors within the Marine Nationale of a possible reorganization of the French aircraft carrier forces at large.

Ministry of National Defense Gives Approval for Equipment Procurement
Friday, January 30, 1948 - Senior officials in the Ministry of National Defense approved one of the largest defense spending budgets in the last five years for the acquisition of new equipment. Included in the budget are one hundred fifty examples of the SFG SH.30 Perdrix (a twin-rotor 14-passenger helicopter) and an unknown quantity of AMX VCI infantry carriers. Additionally, the Army has received funding to begin the acquisition of a new combat rifle to supplement the MAS-36 in select regiments.

Channel and Atlantic Ports to be Expanded, Developed
Monday, February 9, 1948 - The National Assembly approved a plan to develop or expand port facilities at several ports on the Atlantic Ocean or on the Manche. The largest project, to be started this spring, will be the construction of a deepwater port at Roscoff, suitable for use by cross-channel ferries, as well as select other vessels. The submarine base at Lorient will also be expanded. Cherbourg, already a large modern port, will also receive money for continued development, including plans for a new shipyard, DCNS Cherbourg, which is expected to first enter operation in 1951.

Naval Incident in Cam Ranh Bay
Saturday, February 14, 1948 - A fisherman's gruesome discovery of a severed human leg near the naval anchorage in Cam Ranh Bay prompted military forces to go on high alert. According to a press statement released by the base commandant, the leg still had a European-style swimfin attached. Due to fears of possible sabotage, all ships in the bay were ordered to maximum watertight readiness while divers inspected the hulls. No further information has been made available.

Normandie to Receive New Radio-Teledetector Sets
Wednesday, February 18, 1948 - The French ocean liner Normandie, which made history as the first civilian vessel equipped with a radio-teledetection unit, will receive a brand-new set in her upcoming refit, scheduled to begin in April. The new set, built by SAGEM and designated the DRBN-2, is a variant of the French Navy's DRBV-9B search radar, appropriately modified for civilian use. The Normandie's refit in Lorient, which will take twelve months, has been meticulously planned and will result in a complete modernization, both of the liner's internal furnishings and its mechanical plant.

During Normandie's year-long refit, her place in the CGT's trans-Atlantic schedule will be assumed by her sistership SS Pasteur, which is normally employed sailing between Cherbourg and Atlantis. Pinch-hitting for the Pasteur will be the freshly-refitted Île de France. The CGT has announced that their flagship SS Marianne will be refitted following the conclusion of Normandie's refit.

CGT's program of refits comes in place of the acquisition of further large high-speed ocean liners for transatlantic service. Particularly over the last few years, the high-speed ocean liners have faced intensifying competition from Air France, Lufthansa and other airlines. As CGT has generally prioritized comfortable, stylish and economical travel over raw speed, the competition has been slightly lessened; and CGT's directors are diversifying their business model towards pleasure-cruising as well as passenger service.

Explanation Sought for Cam Ranh Bay Diver Incident
Thursday, February 19, 1948 - In their most recent statement about the February 14th Diver Incident, the Marine Nationale agreed that the severed leg, found in the early hours of the morning by a local fisherman who turned it over to the local authorities, "almost certainly" belonged to an unauthorized frogman. According to the official statement delivered by Capitaine de Corvette M. Pichard, the as-yet unidentified frogman likely was sucked into one of the screw of the Russian torpedo cruiser Stavropol, which departed Cam Ranh Bay at 0400 hours on the morning of the 12th for training. Several hours later, a local Vietnamese fisherman netted the diver's leg, including the frogman's swimfin, and immediately turned it over to the local authorities, who alerted the base commandant. All naval vessels in the bay were ordered to high alert, and several navy divers, including volunteers from the anchored ships, were ordered to check for possible sabotage, a process which took several days due to the number of ships present, and relatively few trained divers available. No indication of sabotage was found.

The Indochinese Naval Patrol, which is responsible for coastal defense in the immediate vicinity of the port, immediately directed suspicion upon the Chinese, noting the recent Chinese construction of "manned chariot torpedoes for frogman operations". However, neither the Marine Nationale, nor the Russian Federation Navy (which administers the base facilities and contributes to the joint Franco-Russian task force based in Cam Ranh), were quick to lay any blame. According to the statement delivered by Pichard, "the diver's race is not readily identifiable, and may be either a tanned European or a lighter-skinned Asian". The diver's fin had no manufacturer's markings and was broadly similar to civilian products sold in France, Britain, Italy, or elsewhere - although they have rarely been used by civilians in the East Asia region.

Despite a thorough search being made of the Cam Ranh Bay region, the rest of the diver's remains have yet to be recovered, and no other frogmen were noted. However, the Indochinese Naval Patrol stopped and searched dozens of local craft in a search for other infiltrators.

Concours général agricole in Paris
Monday, February 23, 1948 - Europe's largest agricultural trade show, the Concours général agricole, opened today at the Parc des expositions de la porte de Versailles. Among the items showcased are the new Allis-Chalmers Roto-Baler (US), the Versatile grain auger (Canada), and a new model of Vendeuvre tractor.

Lemaréchal to Retire - Le Figaro
Tuesday, February 24, 1948 - Jean-Marie Lemaréchal, Minister of National Defence and War, announced today that he intends to retire on July 14th, the Bastille Day holiday. Minister Lemaréchal has served in his current position since 1941, prior to which he served in the French Army, including on the General Staff. Sources reportedly close to the minister have confirmed to Le Figaro that Lemaréchal's retirement is more due to health rather than the current tempestuous politics within the French cabinet. Lemaréchal, who was wounded and gassed at Ypres, has been blind in one eye since the Great War. Rumors indicate that Lemaréchal might be losing vision in his remaining eye, partially due to stress from his current work. There is no definite word regarding Lemaréchal's likely successor, as the most likely candidate, sixty-nine year old Assistant Minister Metayer, has also announced that he intends to retire at the end of 1948.

Airliners Clip Wings at Le Bourget
Monday, March 1, 1948 - An Air France MB.972 Transatlantique and a KLM Lockheed Constellation were both damaged following a ground accident at Paris-Le Bourget airport. Both aircraft were on the move on the apron and passed each other, with their wings colliding. There were no injuries, although the Transat was evacuated as an engine fire alarm went off. No fire was noted, however. Initial reports indicate the fault for the accident may rest with ground control.

Paris-Nice Cycling Race
Friday, March 5, 1948 - The Paris-Nice cycling race begins.

Voisin et Hennequin
Wednesday, March 10, 1948 - In the ninth and final episode of Voisin et Hennequin, the two French pilots take their seaplanes in pursuit of the fleeing Prince Bilan and his escort, including the mercenary ace 'Jinlung' and the Seven Yellow Pennants. After a ferocious aerial fight, Hennequin downs Prince Bilan's flying boat, which lands on the ocean; the Prince is captured by a British destroyer, which will turn the rebel over to the Sultan of Ti'en for justice. Meanwhile, Voisin dogfights with Jinlung's seaplane. They damage each other's airplanes but run out of ammo, ending their dogfight with a wave, as Jinlung flies north - with no certainty of reaching land - and Voisin flying back south on the remainder of his fuel. Back ashore, the two pilots are praised for carrying out their successful plan, and board their steamer to return home to France.

This volume ends the second Voisin et Hennequin series. An omnibus edition is planned for July of this year, and a third series is planned for an October publishing date.

What the Bird Has to Say - Le Canard enchaîné
Wednesday, March 10, 1948 - Much has been made both in the French and the local Indochinese press about the February 12th Incident where a severed leg and swimfin, allegedly belonging to a foreign frogman, was found near the naval anchorage of Cam Ranh Bay. Politicians, military members and self-proclaimed 'experts' have been quick to point fingers at China. However, none have addressed a more likely scenario: the incident is a hoax! One possibility is that the true perpetrator is French secret intelligence, which wishes to stir continued fear in Indochinese politics in order to keep the sometimes-fractious autonomous government in line, turning to France for a continued bulwark against Chinese aggression. Perhaps more probable, however, is the existence of a third party actor - possibly Japan or the Philippines - who wish to unjustly frame the Chinese to prevent any possibility of detente between a European power and China.

Sahara Rally-Raid Begins
Sunday, March 20, 1948 - The Fourth Sahara Run, a rally-raid held across the length of French West Africa, opened today in Dakar. The contestants will race their vehicles to Timbuktu before turning north for the finish line in Algiers, repeating the course used in 1946.

Supaero Students to Challenge Aviation Record
Monday, March 21, 1948 - A team of engineering students at Supaero in Toulouse, in conjunction with Dewoitine, have announced their intention to challenge the airspeed record for seaplanes. The students, led by Nantes native Charles Beaumont, are putting the final touches on a seaplane (designated the HD.790).

Rumors Indicate Cabinet Shakeup Coming
Friday, March 26, 1948 - Rumors originating from the Palais d'Elysee indicate that President Clemenceau may be preparing for a shakeup of the cabinet. A spokesman for the president dismissed the rumors.

Sahara Rally-Raid Ends
Wednesday, March 31, 1948 - The Fourth Sahara Run ended today when the final team limped across the finish line in Algiers. Over half of all contestants failed to complete the grueling race, which covered thousands of kilometers of both road and wilderness across Africa. In the Car/Truck class, the grand prize was won by Maurice Revel and Charles Gallais, racing in a VLR on behalf of Peugeot, while second place went to Hans Althaus and Adolf Leitzke of Germany. In the Motorcycle Class, Sergeant Tahar Feraoun (of the 3e Division d'Infanterie Algérienne) achieved his second victory in his second appearance in the race, while second place went to Jean Dubois, a Frenchman racing for Ambassador Motorcycles (Ireland).


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 7:21pm

Additional information: cabinet composition as of February 1st 1948.


President of the Republic:
Quentin Clemenceau (inaugurated July 7th, 1946)

Current French Cabinet Members (February 1, 1948):
President of the Council (Prime Minister): Jean-Baptiste Aubert *
Vice President of the Council: Edmond Michelet
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Gabriel Ducharme* §
Minister of National Defence and War: Jean-Marie Lemaréchal* § (retiring 7/1948)
Minister of the Interior: Georges Mandel §
Minister of Finance: Madeline Barthelemy *
Minister of National Economy: Jacques Rueff §
Minister of Labour: Mathis Chauveau *
Minister of Justice: Georges Poirot *
Minister of Marine: Gabriel Auphan §
Minister of Air: Jean-François Jannekeyn §
Minister of National Education: Jean-Jacques Saval * §
Minister of Veterans and Pensioners: Auguste Champetier de Ribes $
Minister of Agriculture: Hector Gregoire*
Minister of Colonies: Georges Mandel §
Minister of Public Works: Christophe Beauvais *
Minister of Public Health: Jean-Baptiste Méliès* §
Minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones: Hector Devos* §
Minister of Commerce: Jean-Hugo Lemercier *

* - Fictional figure
§ - Holding the same post as in previous administration


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 7:32pm


Automatic Rifle Comparative Trials, Camp Satory, March-April 1948


Fabrique Nationale Fusil Automatique Leger ("FN FAL")
The FN FAL is a battle rifle currently in development by the Fabrique Nationale firm of Belgium. Twenty examples, chambered for 6.5x51mm FAR ammunition, were ordered for trials purposes and delivered to Camp Satory for evaluation. The FAL is a gas-operated tilting breechblock action, with an overall length of 1090 mm and a weight of 4.25 kg empty. Twenty-round box magazines were provided.

Fusil Automatique - Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne ("FA-MAS")
The FA-MAS is a battle rifle currently in development by private engineer Jean Giroux, with the manufacturing support of the Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne government arsenal of France. Twenty-five examples were provided for trials purposes. Twenty of these were chambered for 6.5x51mm FAR, while five rifles (originally chambered for 6.5mm) were experimentally rechambered for .280 British. The 6.5mm FA-MAS operates on a roller-delayed blowback action, with an overall length of 1100 mm and a weight of 4.4 kg empty. Twenty-four round box magazines were provided.

The EM-2 is an automatic rifle of the bullpup design currently entering service with the British Army, being manufactured by Enfield and other British arsenals. Twenty examples, chambered for the .280 British (metric 7x43mm) cartridge, were ordered from Enfield for trials purposes and delivered to Camp Satory for evaluation. The EM-2 is a gas-operated action, with an overall length of 889 mm and a weight of 3.5 kg empty. Twenty-round box magazines were provided.

Fusil d’Infanterie Modèle 1944 ("Manurhin" / "FI-MAR")
The Manurhin is a battle rifle currently in production by the Manufacture d'Armes de Haut-Rhin and used parachute and elite infantry units of the Legion Etranger. Twenty examples chambered for 6.5x51mm FAR were provided for trials purposes. The Manurhin operates on a gas-operated rotating bolt action, with an overall length of 945 mm and a weight of 4.1 kg empty. Twenty round box magazines were provided. The Manurhin is a licensed 6.5mm-chambered design of German derivation.

Trials Objectives and Methodology
The Testing Commission was composed of two senior officers, charged with overseeing all activities and presenting final results, a shooters group composed of thirty-six men (representing four infantry, two cavalry, two chasseurs and two parachutist regiments of the Infantry and Armoured Cavalry Branches of the Armeé de Terre), and an armorer group composed twenty professional armorers. Additional Army personnel were employed in roles including but not limited to range operation, logistics, transport, and safety. The testing commission was informed that the purpose of the trials was to establish a baseline for the eventual replacement of the MAS Modele-36 (MAS-36) semiautomatic rifle sometime within the next eight years.

For the trials period, twenty rifles of each type were acquired for evaluation. Two rifles were earmarked for the purpose of destructive reliability testing, while the remaining eighteen rifles were provided to shooter pairs.

Destructive reliability testing was conducted by firing each firearm, with each stoppage and mechanical issue logged and categorized according to seriousness, until the rifle was deemed uneconomical for further maintenance and repair purposes.

Shooter pairs were instructed to spend five hundred rounds on the first day of the trials to gain familiarity with the four rifles, along with undertaking at least four field-stripping exercises for each rifle. No results were taken during this period.

Following this breaking-in period, the shooter pairs were provided with targets at 50, 75, 100, 150, 250, 500, and 800 meter ranges. For the 50, 75, and 100 meter ranges, standard Army paper circle targets were used, with scores ranging from 0 (outside the ring) to 5 (hits in the 3cm bull's eye). At the 150 meter and 250 meter ranges, standard Army paper silhouettes were used, with scores ranging from 0 (no observed hit) to 5 (hits in the central mass indicator). At 500 and 800 meter ranges, standard Army paper silhouettes were used, with a score of either 0 (no observed hit) or 5 (confirmed hit).

Shooters fired twenty rounds each from seven positions: seated bench with rest, standing freehand, standing with rest, kneeling freehand, kneeling with rest, prone freehand, and prone with rest, for a total of 980 rounds per shooter over the seven ranges. During this period, all stoppages were logged, with a stoppage defined as any occasion where the shooter attempted to fire but was unable, or any occasion where the shooter was obliged to undertake any unnecessary action to clear the rifle in order to shoot.

After range tests were complete, two groups of fourteen soldiers each were picked from the evaluation group to form standard infantry squad, equipped with one squad machine gun and thirteen automatic rifles. These experimental squads then conducted standardized Army field drills in order to evaluate the performance and reliability of the firearms in realistic conditions. Soldiers shot at man-sized iron plate targets, with range officials noting the overall results.

At the end of field exercises, the shooter pairs returned to the range with five hundred rounds of ammunition and instructions to determine their personal preference amongst the four rifles. Shooters were encouraged to keep their preference private until after they had logged their choice via secret ballot with the senior members of the testing commission.

At the close of trials, armorers inspected all rifles for signs of wear and a catalogue of all notable mechanical issues or concerns. The armorers and shooters groups then reported to the senior officers in change of the trials with their final recommendations.

Military attaches from Russia, Germany, Britain, Belgium, and Atlantis were invited to observe the trials at their convenience. A declassified version of this report shall be provided to the British and Belgian military attaches upon request. The full classified copy of this report shall be provided to the other military attaches upon request.

Overall, the testing commission felt that the FA-MAS and FN FAL rifles were very comparable rifles, both in terms of design maturity, overall layout, and appearance. The general layout of both firearms is similar. However, several differences have become apparent after the extensive testing that occurred during the course of the trials. Of all the four rifle designs evaluated, the FA-MAS design demonstrated the highest degree of mechanical reliability as well as overall accuracy on the range, although the FN FAL came very close on both counts. Shooters observed that some of the FA-MAS examples had an accuracy advantage primarily due to the rifle's inclusion of a fold-down winter trigger, meant to be used by shooters wearing thick winter gloves or mittens; this can be used in normal operation to reduce trigger pull for very exact sharpshooting, which became evident in the overall accuracy scores, particularly at mid to long range. The testing commission made the ruling that at least half of the rounds fired by the nine winter-trigger equipped FA-MAS rifles needed to be fired with the regular trigger, and results with each were segregated for comparison. However, even with the standard trigger, the FA-MAS demonstrated exceptional accuracy at almost all ranges. Shooters indicated that they could maintain 3cm shot groups at 100 meters with a high degree of confidence particularly when the winter trigger was used.

Five major critiques are directed at the FA-MAS. First, at 4.3 kg, the rifle is the heaviest of the four under evaluation, although the FN FAL comes fairly close. Second, due to the straight-line stock and the elevated flip-up sights, the rifle's sight picture is over seven centimeters higher than the muzzle, and shooters reported some difficulties estimating their target at close ranges, even thought the actual shot groupings were extremely tight and could not be equalled by the other rifles. Third, shooters criticized the FA-MAS's ergonomics, reporting that they had difficulty keeping the stock comfortably seated in their shoulder for more than seven or eight rounds. Fourth, shooters remarked on the violence of the recoil and noted that rapidly firing multiple shots, even on semiautomatic mode, resulted in the rifle very quickly climbing away from the aimpoint; this is probably due to the lack of a muzzle brake. Fifth, the rifle safety and magazine release catch are located closely together and are easily confused, which resulted in multiple cases of shooters accidentally ejecting the magazine when they attempted to de-activate the safety to begin shooting.

The FN FAL offers a degree of contrast to the FA-MAS. Although not as accurate as the FA-MAS, the shooters complimented the FAL's ergonomics. The magazines fell free when the magazine retainer latch was released, and the FAL's bolt locks open on an empty magazine, which is a feature not shared by the FA-MAS. Recoil was directed almost straight back and the rifle remained on target well during rapid fire shooting. The trigger was also very crisp, and the rear peep sight and front post sight were well-designed. Shooters also communicated a slight preference for the FAL's left-hand charging handle. Teardown of the rifle for cleaning was somewhat more involved than the FA-MAS due to a greater number of parts, but was not unduly difficult.

The Manurhin also has certain similarities to the FN FAL and FA-MAS. Like the FAL it operates on a gas piston system. The rifle is lighter than both the FAL and FA-MAS; and unlike the other rifles in evaluation, the French Army (in the form of the Legion Etranger) has field experience with this rifle in the Niger River Delta; approximately two thousand rifles have been manufactured, with half distributed to elite field troops. During range trials, shooters found the Manurhin to be slightly less accurate than the FN FAL, and very slightly inferior to the EM-2 (although by an almost insignificant figure). From the prone position, the Manurhin possessed a notable advantage in the form of its integrated bipod. Recoil for the Manurhin was quite favorable, with almost no perceptible muzzle rise at any shooting position, a factor which is attributed to its efficient and thoughtfully-designed muzzle break. It is worth noting that the Manurhin, due to its 6.5x51mm ammunition and certain manufacturing alterations, does not share the objectionable straight-wall chamber of the German 7.92x57-chambered G11 from which it is derived. The Manurhin does, however, maintain the capability to fire from the open bolt when in automatic mode, which improves cooling. In semiautomatic mode, the rifle fires from a closed bolt for greater accuracy. The bolt locks back on an empty magazine, but there is no way to lock the bolt when no magazine is inserted. Shooters unfamiliar with the Manurhin criticized the off-center magazine which protrudes from the left side of the rifle; the magazine does not fall free and has to be intentionally removed. When the magazine is removed, some parts of the action are open to the elements and must be protected with a pair of dust cover doors. Finally, as known from Army field reports, subjecting the wooden shoulder-stock of the Manurhin to any sort of physical abuse often results in the hollow wood stock breaking into pieces.

The British-designed EM-2 rifle requires particular comment due to its unique bullpup design. The rifle's magazine is located behind rather than in front of the trigger group, allowing part of the firing mechanism to be moved into the shoulderstock. This substantially reduced the length and weight of the EM-2 in comparison to the other rifles under evaluation, over and above the weight differences due to the smaller 7x43 caliber. The testing commission was extremely interested in evaluating the EM-2 to find if the bullpup design incurred any performance penalties counterbalancing its strengths.

In the range tests, the EM-2 performed comparably in terms of accuracy to the other three rifles at ranges up to 250 meters. At ranges beyond 250 meters, however, the EM-2 performed noticeably worse in terms of accuracy, with shooters citing two likely causes. First, the 7x43 rifle round has less muzzle velocity than the 6.5x51 round, with the resulting drop in velocity at longer ranges translating into greater inaccuracy. This loss of accuracy at long ranges is a well-recognized issue with intermediate cartridge rounds. Second, shooters complained about the EM-2's poor trigger pull at all ranges, with the trigger being critiqued as both "sloppy" and "heavy". The cause of this is due almost exclusively to the need to tie the trigger to the action due to a mechanical linkage, which increases both the play in the trigger and the weight of the pull. Measurements of the trigger pull taken by the armorers' group demostrated that the trigger pull of the EM-2 was 30% greater than that of the Manurhin, 40% greater than the FN FAL, 41% greater than the FA-MAS standard trigger, and 62% greater than the FA-MAS winter trigger.

During the field tests, the EM-2 received both great praise and significant criticism for several aspects of its design. Soldiers thought highly of the low recoil resulting from the use of the 7x43 British round, which combined well with the low weight of the EM-2 as a system. Due to the shorter length, the rifle was more easily handled in constricted environments such as trucks or infantry carriers. However, as noted previously, the shooters criticized the harsh trigger. The bolt, which automatically holds open on an empty magazine, also automatically closes upon the insertion of a loaded magazine, which caused multiple safety violations during the course of the total destructive testing. Additionally, shooters felt the balance of the EM-2 was particularly unusual, with significant weight placed between the rifleman's dominant hand and shoulder. During fully-automatic firing, the lack of forward weight resulted in excessive muzzle rise, which was much more pronounced than on any of the three other rifles evaluated. The commission feels that the effect is probably not so noticeable as to prevent the EM-2 from being used as a replacement for the submachine gun in point-blank engagements, but feels that automatic fire capability is not particularly useful in engagements beyond twenty to thirty meters range. The two left-handed shooters in the testing commission remarked on the unpleasantness of the ejector port's placement right near their face, and the extremely close proximity of the rifle's firing chamber to the user's face, with resulting danger to the shooter in the case of a total catastrophic failure. During bayonet drills, the EM-2's short length proved to be a disadvantage against an opponent armed with a rifle of more traditional design. Clearing malfunctions of any type required significantly more time or training, as did replacement of magazines.

Finally, although the rifle was remarkably easy to disassemble and maintain, the armorers group noted that the EM-2 has a very serious issue of manufacturing ease. The milled receiver has a significant number of intricate and expensive cuts. The estimated cost of manufacturing the EM-2 receiver may be between six to ten times higher per unit than the FAL or the FA-MAS. It is unclear that this factor is connected to the bullpup design itself, but rather a flaw in the EM-2 design.

This extensive list of issues with the bullpup design should not detract from the significant technical accomplishment achieved by the EM-2, but it should be understood that the bullpup rifle design results in both advantages and disadvantages.

Following the conclusion of testing, the thirty-six members of the shooting section of the trials group expressed their personal preference by means of a secret ballot. 11 individuals expressed their overall preference for the FN FAL; 10 for the Manurhin; and 7 each for the FA-MAS and the EM-2. (A final ballot was submitted blank and not counted.) This indicates the overall quality of the entries submitted from the field side. Similarly, the twenty members of the armorers group declared their personal preference by secret ballot. Overall, 13 armorers voted for the FAL, 5 for the Manurhin, and 1 each for the FA-MAS and EM-2.

The final recommendation of this testing group, therefore, is that of the four rifles under evaluation, the FN FAL is the most suitable for future adoption by the Armeé de Terre.


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 7:38pm

Following High-Level Discussions

-- Gen. Juin (chief of Infantry)
-- Gen. Levasseur (chief of Ordnance)
-- Gen. Leclerc (chief of Armoured Cavalry Branch)
-- M. Gagné dit Bellavance (representative of Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne)
-- Col. La Cassé (head of the Satory trials group)
-- M. Metayer (Assistant Minister of National Defence and War)
-- Gen. de Gaulle (observer)
-- Gen. de Lattre de Tassigny (observer)

Levasseur: Let's get started, gentlemen; I trust everyone has had time to read the report?
Juin: Yes.
Leclerc: Yes.
de Gaulle: Yes. If I may-
Metayer: Yes.
Levasseur: Then we can- yes, General?
de Gaulle: You have the example rifles here?
La Cassé: All four of them, sir. This here, the FA-MAS; the FAL; the EM-2; the Manurhin.
de Gaulle: The FA-MAS is definitely the ugliest. Is it possible that we can do something about that?
Gagné dit Bellavance: The function determines the form, sir.
de Gaulle: Perhaps, but can't it have some... ah, je ne sais quoi? M. Gagné?
Gagné dit Bellavance: The rifle has-
Levasseur: Perhaps we're getting ahead of ourselves here? Colonel La Cassé, your report made a recommendation that the Armeé de Terre adopt the FN FAL?
La Cassé: That is correct, sir.
Metayer: On the basis of your team's overall preference?
La Cassé: Yes, Assistant Minister. The FAL offers what we felt was the best overall-
Metayer: Pardon me, colonel, but having read the content of the report, I had expected the EM-2 to come out stronger? Why the FAL?
de Gaulle: The EM-2 is almost a perfect example of what we ought to equip our mobile troops with. It's light, short - a perfect rifle to carry in an armoured carrier. The only downside is that it's British and not in our caliber.
Metayer: Can it be made in 6.5? M. Gagné?
Gagné dit Bellavance: Yes, but that would add weight; I'm not sure the final result would be quite as good.
La Cassé: It has a greater problem than that, General. M. Gagné, before we met you told me - the manufacturing estimates, yes?
Gagné dit Bellavance: Oh, yes. I have an unofficial estimate for manufacturing costs on the three rifles - the Manurhin's costs are well known from the contract with MAHR, yes? But unofficially-
Levasseur: The Manurhin costs the Legion 1,460 francs.
Gagné dit Bellavance: Yes. And unofficially, my price for a license-built FAL stands at 810 francs; for the FA-MAS, 1,375 francs; and the EM-2, 3,800 francs.
de Gaulle: Thirty-eight hundred? Are you mad?
Levasseur: What?
Metayer: Why so expensive- pardon, please continue.
Gagné dit Bellavance: As Colonel La Cassé mentioned in the report, the EM-2's design requires much more complicated machining than the others, even more than the FA-MAS, which is overbuilt from a mass-manufacturing-
de Gaulle: Are the British really paying over four times more per rifle than the FAL would cost?
Gagné dit Bellavance: Possibly more. As I said, my estimate is unofficial.
Juin: Levasseur, can you ask Dieuxeme Bureau to investigate what the British are paying per rifle?
Levasseur: I'll do that.
Juin: As a follow-on question - M. Gagné, Colonel La Cassé - is this a rejection of the bullpup rifle concept?
La Cassé: By no means, General. My unit had some pretty mixed reviews on the bullpup concept, but it might be due to the particular design of the EM-2, rather than the bullpup design in general.
Gagné dit Bellavance: I agree with Colonel La Cassé. The EM-2 is the only bullpup automatic rifle we know about, whether in design or in production, so I'd say the concept as a whole should not be judged on the merits of one exemplar...
La Cassé: And I hasten to add that Rifle No.9 only fails to compete in a couple areas - and excels in several others.
Metayer: But more of the shooting group preferred the FAL, and it's the cheapest by far to manufacture. It sounds like an easy choice for us.
Gagné dit Bellavance: That brings me to a related topic. Jean Giroux, the chief engineer who's developing the FA-MAS design, indicated to me an interest in designing and presenting a bullpup rifle design to the Armeé de Terre, and requested a six-month delay in the Army's procurement decision in order to prepare and manufacture prototypes.
de Gaulle: A French bullpup rifle? Can he compete with the FAL?
Gagné dit Bellavance: We'll have to see. MAS gave him some initial R&D funding to start preliminary work, but it doesn't need to go any further than that if you're set on the FAL.
Levasseur: A six-month delay would move our decision to October. Are we interested in this at all?
de Gaulle: Yes.
Juin: Yes, maybe... we're not in a rush.
Leclerc: I'd say no. I've heard this story before from engineers. They can build a better mousetrap cheaper and faster, just give us six months and half a million francs. We'll do that until the end of time.
Metayer: If he can compete with the FAL... what price would he need to be competitive? Eight hundred?
Levasseur: I'd say a maximum of nine hundred francs per rifle. But it needs to be competitive performance as well as price.
Metayer: M. Gagné, I know MAS worked with Giroux on the FA-MAS design, but do you have any preferences?
Gagné dit Bellavance: No, my firm has no preferences between the FA-MAS and the FAL; we can build them both, or even a Giroux bullpup. I will say that, if we buy the license for the FAL, there are several modifications I'd like to propose both for ease of manufacturing and potential field use.
Leclerc: MAS has no preferences, or you have no preferences?
Gagné dit Bellavance: If it was 1917 again, I'd want to have the FAL, either in our 6.5 round or in the 7mm British. As a rifleman I like the manual of arms better than the other three, and as an armorer I like the serviceability. It's also a lot sturdier than the Manurhin, which would be my second choice. For an armorer or a conscript soldier, the EM-2 is nice and light, but it's complicated, and I would have wasted most of my ammunition enthusiastically spraying it around.
Juin: That's why we're not buying an automatic rifle.
de Gaulle: M. Gagné mentioned the 7mm British. What's our opinion on our current choice of rifle calibers?
Juin: I'm fine with it.
La Cassé: My unit's overall opinion is that 6.5's the better round-
de Gaulle: At longer range, yes...
La Cassé: Yes, at longer ranges. But we looked at a FAL in 7x43 British and the recoil was very similar.
Metayer: The Germans are working on a comparable cartridge, as well, but it's going to be close in performance to ours.
Leclerc: Why don't they just use our 6.5?
Metayer: They want to be different.
Levasseur: More specifically, they don't ascribe to our theory of preferring a lighter but faster rifle round, and they want to maintain the 7.92mm caliber both in bore size and bolt face.
Leclerc: True, I remember the scandal with their 7mm round...
Levasseur: Heereswaffenamt Ballistische und Munitionsabteilung made us aware of their development but since we already have an almost ideal cartridge, we're not really that interested beyond professional curiosity.
Juin: How does the 7mm British compare to the old 7x40mm Mauser round?
La Cassé: It actually works.
Levasseur: Performance at range is better due to a higher muzzle velocity. The cartridge capacity is higher and the bullet is better designed. My only concern with the 7x43 round is that it's too light for a machine gun, although the TADEN indicates the British disagree.
de Lattre: What do our allies think?
Levasseur: Not a simple answer. I mentioned that the Germans are designing a new 7.92mm cartridge, but beyond that, they're taking a conservative approach.
de Lattre: Once burned, twice shy.
Levasseur: It's worth noting that the Germans do have access to the G11, the original rifle that we licensed as the Manurhin, in 7.92x57; and aside from one flaw it's a very good rifle. As for the Russians, although they were interested in the FAL, they are finalizing the design of their own.
La Cassé: General Chernyakhovsky spent nearly three days observing the trials.
Levasseur: Yes. From the start the Russians wanted something simpler for their conscripted troops, although they're sticking with the 6.5 cartridge. The Atlantean Army is also taking a conservative approach. I expect they may wait to see what we do, and what the Russians do. Maybe even have a look at whatever the Germans end up producing. They've proposed two ideas, including something very similar to the FAL, but I don't think it's received much traction yet.
Metayer: There is less political will at the moment for adopting a single unified rifle design, particularly since the Germans and Russians have already elected to pursue their own national designs.
Levasseur: Going back to an earlier topic, did we reach consensus on M. Giroux's request for a procurement delay in order to propose a bullpup rifle?
Leclerc: I still say no.
de Gaulle: And I disagree. If it turns out well, I think we could benefit.
Leclerc: If he manages to propose a successful and competitive design at all. I don't feel it is certain. His original design didn't even beat out the Manurhin, which we've had in hand for four years now.
de Gaulle: Fair enough.
Juin: I'll agree with General de Gaulle, though I share General Leclerc's pessimism. The delay to our timeline can be accomodated easily, yes?
de Gaulle: Perhaps I can propose a compromise. Contract FN and MAS for a small number of licensed FALs - two thousand, say - suitable for a trials unit. Perhaps one of the mixed armour-infantry regiments in Tunisia. Meanwhile Giroux can work on his bullpup design and we can test it in October against the FALs that we ourselves have produced.
Levasseur: A preliminary adoption of the FAL, followed by a final check in six months?
Gagné dit Bellavance: If we changed our minds in October, it could cause a bit of chaos at MAS. I'd have some fairly significant retooling costs. Perhaps I could demand that Giroux use some existing parts for the FAL...
de Gaulle: We didn't test the FAL in Algieria or Vietnam. Camp Satory cannot replicate those conditions. It was a major shortcoming of this test. Our equipment has to work across -
La Cassé: We did mud and sand tests.
de Gaulle: At Satory, yes. I don't believe that is sufficient.
Levasseur: Your thoughts, Colonel La Cassé?
La Cassé: I don't think it will change our recommendation. I may not have taken the rifles to North Africa to prove it, but I did subject them to the same mud and sand tests we used for the MAS-36, FM37, and MAS-42 submachine guns, which we did in theater. The FAL also compared well in reliability to the Manurhin, which has seen action in Niger in what I would call hellish circumstances.
Metayer: Any response, General?
de Gaulle: I'd just prefer to see better proof. Let's go ahead and start with the FAL, but in small numbers pending a final decision in October.
Gagné dit Bellavance: I'm not going to get my factory for FAL production only to run the risk of having to tool up for a completely different rifle design in October. It will upset the current production I currently have on order for no purpose. I say either commit, or don't commit.
Metayer: Make a final recommendation for me to take Minister Lemaréchal.
Levasseur: FN FAL.
Leclerc: Agreed.
de Gaulle: Wait to see the bullpup.
Juin: I... I still want to see the bullpup, but I think we should go ahead and commit to the FN FAL.
de Gaulle: Is there any point to letting Giroux work on a bullpup, then?
Juin: What if we recast the bullpup as a special rifle in a lower caliber for rear-echelon troops? Frontline troops get the FAL, support troops get a lighter support weapon. Levasseur, you've tinkered with these projects before.
Levasseur: Like the American M1 carbine, yes. Something for drivers and artillery crews. I can draw up a request for proposal...
Leclerc: I'm actually fine with that.
de Gaulle: General Leclerc and I agree.
Metayer: Very good. Is there anything else? No? Then I'll take this to Minister Lemaréchal.
Levasseur: Then meeting adjourned.


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 7:54pm

OOC - An interesting mix of items.


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 8:22pm

Thanks. :)

The discussion about the infantry rifles falls more in Q2 (probably May), but I've been sitting on this writeup for so long that I just want to get it posted.


Tuesday, August 29th 2017, 9:53pm

*Sends anonymous message to Le Canard Enchaîné*


The Cam Ranh Bay Diver Incident is a murder where an innocent tourist was grabbed, forced to dress up as a frogman, tied up and then lowered into the water and into the screw of the Stavropol... all done by either the Russians or the French.




Wednesday, August 30th 2017, 10:31am

An interesting set of reads. The rifle entries were especially interesting, I wouldn't be surprised to see Giroux's bullpup ultimately winning the day by 1950. FN would certainly be pleased with the French order and will certainly make the most use of it in its advertising campaigns.

Even those rich Brits might have to consider something cheaper for overseas use.


Wednesday, August 30th 2017, 3:09pm

An interesting set of reads. The rifle entries were especially interesting, I wouldn't be surprised to see Giroux's bullpup ultimately winning the day by 1950.

Mmm, I'm not so sure about that. Bullpups have a lot of advantages, but also a lot of disadvantages (as I tried to show in the commentary on the EM-2). They have a shorter overall length, but a lot of the compromises are made to achieve that - many which alter the most desirable characteristics of a military firearm. For instance, note the comment about jams in the EM-2 being harder to clear than in a conventional rifle. While probably not universal, that's fairly true of most major military bullpups. "Hard to break, hard to fix."

It's somewhat telling that when armies go to replace their bullpup rifles, they have largely been replacing them with conventional rifles rather than another bullpup. For instance, the French Army just last year decided to replace the FAMAS with the HK416, a conventional rifle descended from the old M16.

Regarding the Giroux bullpup, I'm still mentally sorting through my ideas on that. Unquestionably it will carry many of the EM-2's features, and draw significant interest from the French Army, but the "rear echelon" requirements, proposed by Juin and Levasseur, are going to generate a distinct overall project. IC, a lot will be determined by how Lavasseur sets the service requirements (weight, caliber, etc).

Even those rich Brits might have to consider something cheaper for overseas use.

Yeah, that was my really big surprise about the EM-2. Gun aficionados tend to treat it as one of the ultimate could-have-beens, a sort of British "wunderwaffe". After doing the research on it, though, I can see why in the historical context that the British Army cancelled it. If the claims I've seen about the manufacturing costs is true ("You could manufacture ten FALs for the cost of an EM-2"), then it's no wonder that a postwar Britain decided to adopt the FAL and 7.62 for reasons of economy.


Wednesday, August 30th 2017, 4:39pm

True, but it seems equally expensive to equip your rear-echelon troops with a bespoke bullpup when you could simply give them something like the OTL MAT-49 SMG which would be just as effective.
The M-1 Carbine was relatively simple, and the flaws of the bullpup you have pointed out would tend to disqualify it from second-line troops who have other duties to perform and who need a heavier weapon only for self-defence.


Wednesday, August 30th 2017, 5:10pm

True, but it seems equally expensive to equip your rear-echelon troops with a bespoke bullpup when you could simply give them something like the OTL MAT-49 SMG which would be just as effective.
The M-1 Carbine was relatively simple, and the flaws of the bullpup you have pointed out would tend to disqualify it from second-line troops who have other duties to perform and who need a heavier weapon only for self-defence.

Yes - and if a different caliber is used, that will probably make things even more expensive.

OOC, the proposal to let Giroux design a bullpup for rear-echelon troops is a bit of "subsidized research" more than actually trying to prepare a weapon for widespread use. It lets the Army move forward with the MAS factory to start manufacturing FALs. It gives Giroux something to work on (thus guaranteeing continued employment for French firearms designers). And it lets the committee come to a universal agreement to send on up the chain of command.

I won't say this definitively, but in all likelihood the Giroux bullpup probably won't enter service in the French military in any form. If it does, it will likely be on a very small scale, in niche roles. For instance, it might be adopted by French police, or by the French Navy - places where its small size outweighs any of the drawbacks, and where they have an organizational structure that favors doing something individually, independent of the Army's decision.


Monday, October 2nd 2017, 3:43pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Friday, February 20, 1948

The afternoon rain roared on the roof of the warehouse as the small group of officers were ushered inside. Incandescent lights burned overhead, illuminating a well-tanned European man, stripped to the waist, working on a collection of odd parts strewn across the floor.

"So what do we have, here?" Contre-amiral Edgar Joly demanded, turning to the party's guide.

"First, admiral, an introduction." Capitaine de Corvette Antoine Lambert gestured. Despite his junior rank compared to the three men he reported to, he was confident and self-assured, as only a trusted investigator could be, assigned to determine the facts behind 'the Frogman Incident' that caused such an alarm at the naval anchorage here in Cam Ranh Bay. "Permit me to introduce Quartier-maître de 1re classe Georges Roux. He is one of our naval divers - and commando frogmen."

"Sir," Roux said, straightening and saluting. Barefoot and shirtless, with hair still damp, he hardly looked like a naval man.

"At ease," Joly said. He did not give any introductions, either for the Army major behind him, or the Russian captain by his side.

Lambert gestured to the collection of parts on the ground. "After completing inspections of the anchored warships, Quartier-maître Roux began searching for the body - that is, the remaining body - of our now legless intruder."

"I was under the impression that search had ended," the Russian naval officer spoke up. Captain 1st Rank Smirnov had the distinction of commanding the Russian naval base on the shores of Cam Ranh Bay, which served all the Grand Alliance naval forces in southeast Asia. His longtime assignment to the base, and collaboration with allied forces, made his French almost flawless.

"It did," Lambert agreed. "We had men search the shorelines, drag nets through shallow water, even posted a bounty to Viet fishermen if they found anything of interest; after eight days, we have not found any more human remains." Lambert gestured to the device on the floor. "But we found this. Quartier-maître, would you explain?"

"Yes sir," Roux said. "I hypothesized how our intruder likely entered the anchorage. What was his likely route? What were his goals? And where did he come from?"

"I'm sure everyone would like answers to those questions," Contre-amiral Joly said dryly. "It's why we've convened a group for a full investigation, after all."

Roux nodded, somewhat nervously; he looked to Lambert, who gestured for him to continue. "I laid out a plan, as if I was the one infiltrating the anchorage. I had to make a few assumptions: what is my mission? Am I trying to sabotage the Alyans drydocks in the Russian sector? Am I going after the oil terminal? What about the German Anchorage? The Command Region Headquarters?"

"Skip to the important part," Joly ordered.

"If you please, admiral," the Army major suddenly interrupted, "I'd prefer if Quartier-maître Roux continued."

Joly paused. Claude Masson was a junior officer - a mere army major - but he represented the Dieuxeme Bureau. "Very well, Quartier-maître; continue, please."

"Yes sir." Roux considered, apparently trying to determine what to say next. "If I wanted to intrude on the anchorage, I'd want my target to be in the outer harbour. There are currents in the Cua Hep - and the Indochinese port patrols guard the narrows, even at night. It's a good place for the patrols, or even anti-diver and anti-submarine nets."

"Of course," Smirnov said. "We have a defense boom ready for just that purpose, in the event of a war. So you think the target was in the outer harbour? That limits the options. The Indochinese Naval Academy - and Alyans shipyard."

"Perhaps," Roux said. "But the leg was found on the southern shore of the outer harbor, near Hon Mui island. And when the Stavropol left, the ship did not pass anywhere near the course I would have taken in order to reach either Alyans Shipyard or the Indochinese Naval Academy. I believe our intruder was going for the inner anchorage of Cam Ranh Bay itself."

"Worrisome," Joly muttered.

"More importantly, sir," Roux said, "It's not as easy to get into the inner bay itself. The Patrouille Navale anchors outside, so they weren't the target. Only the Allies themselves anchor in the inner harbour." He paused. "And it's a very long swim in."

"From where?" Masson asked. "We've presumed the intruder possibly came from a submarine, or perhaps a disguised junk."

"We would have detected a Chinese submarine lurking offshore," Joly said. "There were none in the region last week. Moreover, the Patrouille Navale noted a small junk loitering about all night off Dao Binh Hung island. We attempted to find it - the PN have searched a hundred civilian craft-"

Lambert interrupted. "Quartier-maître Roux, I believe you were talking about how it was a long swim into Bay itself? Particularly if you launch from a submarine or a junk loitering near Dao Binh Hung?"

"Yes sir. Depending on the tide and current, it can be a very long and potentially tiring swim, particularly if you carry gear. Which is why our intruder didn't do it without mechanical assistance."

"Like the Chinese manned torpedoes that the Indochinese keep nattering about?" Masson asked.

"Exactly like that, sir," Roux said, turning around and gesturing to the collection of twisted metal laid out on the floor. "I used scuba gear and followed the intruder's most likely path. Just outside the Cua Hep, on the bottom, I found this wreckage."

"It's a manned torpedo," Joly said, his voice tight with a mix of anger and triumph. "So it was the Chinese after all."

"No sir," Roux said. "This is not one of the Chinese models."

"Can you be so confident?" Smirnov said. "I am told we have yet to see one of them."

"I can be confident, sir, because while I might not have seen a Chinese manned torpedo before... this one is a maiale. It's Italian - they call it the SLC, or Siluro a Lunga Corsa-"

"Stop," Joly said. "It is Italian?"

"Yes sir," Roux replied. "It has been badly damaged, as you can see - there are three main pieces. Stavropol's propeller is responsible for it, I'd guess. Cut the vehicle into several sections, roughly and crudely, causing significant damage. The rider, if he was still aboard, would also have been... hit." As a frogman himself, he did not wish to imagine the fate of the intruder.

"What are the Italians doing here?" Joly demanded. "They have no business here."

"I don't know, sir," Roux said. "All I can tell you is that this is an Italian design, built in Italy. La Decima - that is, Decima MAS, the Italian commando frogmen, use these often. The Italians pioneered these types of vehicles, sir; we've copied and improved on them, as have others."

"Do they not carry a pair of heavy scuttling charges?" Masson asked.

"Normally, they would," Roux answered. "Two charges bolted to the nose of the vehicle. We did not find any charges; the nose has been replaced by a ballasted blank. This large piece, here."

"So the frogman's objective was not sabotage."

"He did not carry the charges, so we can only assume sabotage was not his goal."

"Who else in the world might be able to get their hands on one of these?" Smirnov asked. "I've already heard talk of a false flag operation. Might it have been the British? Japanese?"

"We believe the Italians sold some to Iberia," Masson answered. "There's a reasonable chance Britain has copied them, but Quartier-maître Roux is correct - this is an Italian original. Not their latest model - the SSB - however."

Roux peered closely at Masson, realizing this Army major knew entirely too much about commando business. "The Iberians are much closer at hand than the Italians..."

"Yes," Masson admitted, nodding slowly. He said nothing further.

Joly turned back to Roux. "Quartier-maître, according to your theory, then, our intruder was apparently mounted on this... maiale when he was struck by Stavropol, and killed in the propellers. Is that correct?"

Roux nodded. "Yes, admiral. Judging from where I found the maiale, it happened somewhere near the mouth between the inner and outer harbours."

"Likely about 0355 hours, when Stavropol passed through that area as she got underway," Capitaine Lambert said, weighing in at last.

"He," Smirnov corrected. "Stavropol is a 'he', not a 'she'."

Roux picked up the conversation again. "If it were me, I would have planned to navigate straight north, from my launch point at Hon Mui, using the lights of the Alyans shipyard as a guide. The driver would keep his head just above water, enough to see and navigate by. As he reaches the mouth to the inner harbor, he can turn northwest, following the lights of Cam Ranh town and Cam Linh. From there, he can turn north to the quays where our battleships and the Russian torpedo cruisers are anchored - or he can go southwest, toward the German Anchorage."

"None of our German friends were here that night," Joly noted. "I suppose that means nothing, though." The admiral walked around the destroyed maiale, studying it. "Keep this under wraps for now. No one else is to be told of this craft's discovery." There was quiet agreement from all the men. "Anything else?"

Roux hesitated, then nodded. "Yes sir. Usually... this craft has a crew of two. Not one."


Monday, October 2nd 2017, 4:32pm



and quite well researched and written.


Monday, October 2nd 2017, 9:17pm

Headquarters of the Dieuxeme Bureau
Monday, February 23, 1948

Claude Masson was ushered into a wood-paneled office. He'd never been brought into this part of the building, before; and he glanced around as he found his seat. The room was small, crowded with overloaded bookshelves; although it was well-lit, the dark wood paneling and the bookshelves still made the room feel dark and small. Behind the desk, his eyes closed and head down as if napping, was the bureau chief, de Rochefort, who rarely was seen outside his inner circle of aides and direct reports. In eighteen years working for the Dieuxeme Bureau, Masson had only seen him once, in a hallway, where the scarred bureau chief had paused to randomly adjust the fold of Masson's collar. "He just does that," an associate had said. "It bothers him."

Masson waited for a cue to see if the Comte was even awake. After an agonizing twenty seconds, de Rochefort abruptly said "Well, Masson? I didn't fly you all the way back from Indochina for you to sit there."

"Yes sir," Masson said, hurriedly composing his thoughts. "The Navy found an Italian maiale, an older SLC model, near where the intrusion occurred. I spoke with the commando frogman who recovered it. Definitely Italian, two man crew."

"We've only found one." de Rochefort still looked like he was napping.

"Yes. Well... only his leg. According to the Navy men, the outgoing tide likely carried his body further out to sea. They do not anticipate any further discovery." Masson explained, as best he could, all of the details, including Roux's hypothetical mission planning.

"You've spent the last two days on a plane," de Rochefort finally said. "Have you made any speculations?" Masson paused, hesitant to offer his guesses. "Well?" de Rochefort demanded.

"As to whom might be responsible, no. Evidence would seem to point to the Italians, but for what purpose? Cam Ranh Bay is well outside their normal operational area. However," he added, "I cannot dismiss the idea. It is possible that we might be seeing some sort of operation carried out by one power on the behest of another... nevertheless, I had two idea on my flight that I'd like to follow up on."

"And that would be?" de Rochefort asked, still scribbling notes.

"The combination of a few things I heard while I was there. Someone - I think it was Capitaine Lambert - mentioned to me that many of the larger warships of the joint task force are anchored offshore, using some large anchorage buoys. The buoys have - amongst other things - a freshwater hose and a telephone connection via underwater cable to the shore."

de Rochefort suddenly stopped writing and looked piercingly at Masson. "An underwater connection that could be tapped by a diver?"

"Possibly. That is what I would like to investigate," Masson said. "I was also looking on a map of the bay and noted, right on the shore of the bay on the Mui Sop - the southern peninsula that forms the inner harbour - that there is a hotel, quite close to where we believe the diver was actually killed: Yen Bay Hotel. It is near at hand to the usual German Anchorage. Speaking with Capitaine Lambert just before my departure, I was told that many of the German squadron's officers choose to go there for drinks or recreation when they're on shore leave. Sometimes French officers will join them."

"Interesting," de Rochefort said, gazing at Masson with an intensity the junior intelligence officer found disconcerting. "You have a hunch, then."

"I am curious whether there is a spy amongst the hotel staff, or listening devices, or some sort of leak... yes. I'm unsure how it might tie in with our diver incident, but the idea is nagging on my mind."

"Well then," de Rochefort said. "Sending you out wasn't a waste of time. Let's see - the paquebot SS Vietnam leaves Marseilles in four hours for Saigon..." He rang a little bell on his desk, and his aide-de-camp, a sharply-dressed Army captain, entered the room. "Louis, please arrange for an airplane to deliver Monsieur Masson to Marseilles in time to catch the paquebot Vietnam to Saigon - that is Messageries Maritimes. Au revoir, Masson; please shut the door behind you, Louis."


Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 10:47am

OOC: interesting stuff.
One small point, Masson is incorrect that Britain has copied the maiale, although the Italians have probably been a nuisance with them around the Med its not a topic that's ever come up IC between myself and the Italian players. So we must assume Britain has never captured one. I've never mentioned having the OTL Chariot, though the eagle-eyed will have noticed I have twelve X-Class "training submarines" which are of course the OTL type and a ship to carry them around. Of course its possible IC that French intelligence assumes the RN has had enough exposure to the maiale to have copied them.


Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 2:37pm

OOC: interesting stuff.
One small point, Masson is incorrect that Britain has copied the maiale, although the Italians have probably been a nuisance with them around the Med its not a topic that's ever come up IC between myself and the Italian players. So we must assume Britain has never captured one. I've never mentioned having the OTL Chariot, though the eagle-eyed will have noticed I have twelve X-Class "training submarines" which are of course the OTL type and a ship to carry them around. Of course its possible IC that French intelligence assumes the RN has had enough exposure to the maiale to have copied them.

Hmm... bad memory, then; I was pretty sure I'd remembered something about that. In any case, I tweaked the comment to make it more of a hedging-my-bets statement.


Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 4:52pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Friday, March 5, 1948

The last two weeks had been a whirlwind of travel for Major Claude Masson; Saigon to Cam Ranh Bay - a hasty flight to Paris - a bumpy ride to Marseilles in an Air Force bomber - and then a long ocean voyage back to Saigon, punctuated by an encounter in the Bay of Bengal with an unseasonably early cyclone. The Army had then flown him up to Cam Ranh Bay in a little liaison aircraft that Masson felt was borderline unsafe.

Now, however, he stood on the deck of a diving pontoon, in the burning afternoon sun, waiting for the expert's prognosis.

Quartier-maître Georges Roux surfaced, pulling off his rebreather and squinting up at the pontoon. Two enlisted men, versed in procedure, helped Roux climb back onto the pontoon, where he removed his diving tank and fins.

"Well," Roux said, "You were right about that one." Masson waited as the diver took a seat, and eventually continued. "Not really sure I know what I'm looking at, of course. But they cut the telephone cable to the Four Buoy and spliced in some sort of device. Big thing, about two meters long, half a meter wide. Would be pretty damned obvious, really, except they made it look like an oblong rock. It's right there where the buoy is anchored, where the cable and the freshwater hose goes down onto the seabed."

"How long do you think it's been there?" Masson asked.

Roux raked his fingers through his hair. "Not sure. Don't think it's been that long. We often have to maintain those freshwater connections, since something's always leaking... If I was down there working, I'd have investigated it - it looks like a rock fell on the cable, after all." Roux shook his head. "I think we'd have found this on our own within a few more months. Sure, it's disguised, but it doesn't look right. Can't make any guarantees, of course, but our intruder may have been returning from planting it when he got whacked."

Masson slowly nodded. "Are you planning to pull it up?"

"Sure," Roux replied with a shrug. "But we don't have the gear for it. To tell you the truth, I want to get one of my underwater demolitions clearance divers down there with me to look it over, first. And check with an electrician to make sure the cable won't zap me dead, either. I'll want a day or two... let's see, we'll need a one-ton hoist..."

"Can you tell if it's Italian or not? Or Chinese, or British?"

"Well, it's not emblazoned with the Union Jack or the Italian tricolor or anything," Roux shrugged. "Do you actually expect to find anything like that?"

"No," Masson admitted. "I don't. But I'm hoping these guys might've gotten sloppy."


Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 5:57pm


More curious activities... and the plot thickens.


Wednesday, October 4th 2017, 7:11pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Friday, March 5, 1948

It was nearly midnight by the time Major Masson finally met up again with Capitaine de Corvette Antoine Lambert in the latter's office. The navy officer had agreed to cover the other half of Masson's follow-up investigation, and from the energy which still lit his tired face, Masson hoped he'd found something. "Shall we compare notes?"

"We shall," Lambert said. "First - I heard Roux discovered a wiretap?"

"Yes, on the underwater telephone cable to the number four anchorling buoy," Masson said.

"Ah, the one that's usually reserved for the flagship," Lambert growled.

"Yes," Masson concurred. "He's going to get a hoist and pull it out of the water tomorrow." He briefly explained the discovery to Lambert.

"Well, for my investigation," Lambert said, "that's a real breakthrough. One solid explanation of what might have happened that night. But not," he added, "the only one."

"You found something, then?" Masson asked. "At the Yen Bay Hotel?"

"I did," Lambert said, eyes glowing. "The hotel was built about two years ago. I think hostelry gives them less in the way of business than their bar and lounge. Given their location, a large portion of their clientele comes from the fleet, when it is in port. They have a very nice bar and restaurant, some tables for cards, a pool table. There's the beach itself, a pool for swimming, local girls."

"Mm?" Masson asked. "A red-light establishment?"

"Well, perhaps," Lambert said. "If it is, they're a lot more circumspect about it than I've usually seen. A lot of German officers come there from their East Asia Squadron - commissioned and noncommissioned - but the Yen Bay's manager apparently hired the German shore patrols to stick around and double as his bouncers, to keep good order. Alles in ordnung, ja? If anyone looks like they're about to start a drunken row, they either toss him in a room to sleep it off, or whisk him off to the liberty boats and back to the ship. Oh - the manager. He's Austrian born, speaks fluent German - I think that's why the Germans like to go there. They don't have to use pidgin Vietnamese or bad French to order their drinks or food."

"In other words, a good place for an agent to operate, listening to conversations."

"Yes, particularly given the fact that much of the clientele is officers, rather than merely rowdy matelots," Lambert agreed. "I cycled around the main lounge for nearly two hours, and even though the Germans were quite security-conscious, I managed to overhear part of one technical conversation."

"Is it just the Germans who go there?" Masson asked.

"No, but it's a majority. When they're in port, the German ships tend to anchor further south in the bay. The Russians use their piers on the east side of the bay, while we anchor our ships either near the Russian piers, or the piers we've built on the west shore near Cam Ranh itself. Ergo, it's a longer boat journey for Russian or French officers to come by the Hotel. Most stay in Kamransk Gorodishko for their shore leave - more to do - but of course some do come down to Yen Bay, preferring the quieter surroundings."

Masson nodded. "Perhaps we need to set up some surveillance on the place, then. Check for wires, watch the staff, see if there's anything that might be fishy."

"Agreed," Lambert said. "I have a few people who I can task to it."