Investigator Weapons: Fending Off Sharks

Eugene F. McDonald, radio manufacturer and commander of the yacht Mizpah, back from a cruise about the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific, greeted friends here with a tale of fighting great schools of sharks with machine guns. “They were so thick that we were afraid they would endanger the yacht. We killed hundreds of them,” McDonald said. McDonald related that his party, which included several scientists, made discoveries of a scientific nature on the islands so startling that they could not be revealed until after further exploration.

The Enquirer & Evening News, “Machine Guns Used to Fight Off Sharks” (14-FEB-1930)

 

Lieutenant Commander Eugene “Gene” McDonald, an officer in the US Naval Reserve Force, was the millionaire owner of the Zenith Radio Company in Chicago, Illinois. On 03-JAN-1930, he embarked on a 5-week cruise of the East Pacific, starting in Miami, Florida, and travelling through the Panama Canal. McDonald was the owner and skipper of the Mizpah, a 56-metre luxury yacht built for then-outrageous $1.3 million using components of a discarded US Navy destroyer. While nominally based on Lake Michigan in the Lincoln Park yacht harbour in Chicago, the vessel was seaworthy and was often stationed in Miami. The Mizpah had a 27-man crew and sported eight fully equipped state rooms with real beds rather than cramped berths.

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Tactical Shooting: El Camino ‒ A Breaking Bad Movie

“Your .22, against my .45. Winner takes all.”

“Like the Wild West?”

“Yeah. Like the Wild West.”

‒ Neil Kandy and Jesse Pinkman in El Camino A Breaking Bad Movie

 

El Camino ‒ A Breaking Bad Movie (2019) is set immediately after the end of the last episode of the highly enjoyable series Breaking Bad. It features an interesting shootout which I examine here in GURPS terms, specifically using GURPS Tactical Shooting.

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Investigator Weapons: The Reverend’s Guns

Although he had two bulletproof vests and two revolvers, the Rev. Martin Green, colored, pastor of a church at 4421 South State street, went to the offices of the Detective magazine yesterday and tried to purchase a Thompson machine gun [sic]. The police were notified and he was arrested. His only explanation was that he wanted to be sure he was able to protect himself and his congregation. Dr. William Hickson of the psychopathic laboratory is to examine the minister.

Chicago Daily Tribune, “Well Heeled Colored Pastor Tries to Buy Machine Gun” (20-AUG-1926)

 

The 36-year-old reverend had come to the right place – “Al” Dunlap, editor of the magazine The Detective at 1029 South Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, had a thriving side business selling steel-lined Dunrite “bullet-proof” vests (GURPS High-Tech, p. 66; Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 49) of his own design and make, and Thompson submachine guns in .45 ACP (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, pp. 28-30; Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 87-89). Dunlap distributed no less than 65 of the submachine guns during the 1920s, at least three of which ended up in the hands of gangsters like “Fred Burke” or the Touhy Gang ‒ he was not always as circumspect about his customers as in this instance. John Dillinger’s favourite Model 1921AC submachine gun had originally been supplied by Dunlap to a sheriff’s office before it was stolen by Dillinger.

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High-Tech: Caseless Ammunition and the H&K G11, MP11, and MG11

The streamlined plastic butt of an H&K didn’t exactly hurt, either, and Rydell could see one peeking out of Svobodov’s open flak vest. Couldn’t remember the model number … Shot that caseless ammo looked like wax crayons, plastic propellant molded around alloy flechettes like big nails … Orlovsky was pulling out his H&K … Nothing in the world ever sounded like caseless ammunition, on full-auto, out of a floating breech. It wasn’t the sound of a machine gun, but a kind of ear-shattering, extended whoop.

– William Gibson, Virtual Light (set in 2005)

 

Ever since the 1980s and for much of the 1990s we have been promised caseless ammunition and the advanced weapons firing them. If not now, then very soon. Science-fiction authors and designers of games like Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and Twilight: 2000 were positive that we would see them in the immediate future. Even industry authorities were taken in by the hype. Master Gunner Ian Hogg claimed in Jane’s Infantry Weapons, 17th Edition (1991) that the famous H&K G11 assault rifle and its 4.73×33mm caseless ammunition were in production and had already been issued to West German “special forces” in 1990 ‒ when in fact the rifle actually never entered production and furthermore the Bundeswehr had no such forces at the time, unless one counts the tiny Kampfschwimmer (combat diver) and Fernspäher (long range recon) units. Similarly, Sergeant Kevin Dockery erroneously reported in his appropriately named book Future Weapons (2007) that at least 1,000 G11 rifles had been produced …

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Gangster Gats: “Red” Barker’s Ghouls

A band of ghouls seeking to rob the grave of George (“Red”) Barker, slain claimant of the gang power of Al Capone, was driven from Mount Carmel cemetery in a heated gun battle early today.

News Journal, “Gun Battle Is Staged Over Grave of Gangland Leader” (22-JUN-1932)

 

I have previously expressed doubt whether gangsters and Mythos investigations are a good fit. I am still not entirely convinced, but you could probably make it work. Recently I stumbled over an article in the Chicago News Journal, which reported that on 22-JUN-1932, shortly after midnight, four or five “ghouls” had tried to disinter the body of Chicago Outfit member George “Red” Barker in Section 26 of the Mount Carmel cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Continue reading “Gangster Gats: “Red” Barker’s Ghouls”

Tactical Shooting: Mission: Impossible ‒ Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible ‒ Fallout (2018) is the latest instalment in the somewhat tired but still fun Mission: Impossible franchise. The highly cinematic films are prime examples for GURPS Action scenarios. Nevertheless much of the shooting is actually reasonably realistic. I take a look at a short scene in which IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) shows off his gunfighting skills, and analyze how it would play out in GURPS terms, specifically using GURPS Tactical Shooting.

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Investigator Weapons: Armed at the Opera

Although by now rather old news, I’d like to mention that The Unspeakable Oath #25 contains my article “Armed at the Opera,” in which I examine props and procedures that would be useful for a successful “Night at the Opera” of your modern DELTA GREEN agents. Large parts would also be interesting reading for Armed Investigators of the Mythos in any period. And of course, there are loads of other cool articles by other fine chaps in there. Check it out!

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Investigator Weapons: Charles Reber, Armed Investigator?

In the 1930s, Charles Reber, a US Army veteran of the Spanish-American War and an ex-Major with the Oklahoma National Guard, was a pioneer ballistics and fingerprint expert with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation & Identification, who consulted on numerous cases.

This alone would make him an interesting example for an Investigator of the Mythos. During the hunt for Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, he was also painted as a template for an Armed Investigator in newspaper articles like “One-Man Army Rigs Auto for Sudden Battle” in The Fresno Bee (08-JUN-1934):

Though he looks like a staid schoolteacher [!], is quite and unassuming, Reber is as expert with a gun as with his ballistics apparatus … Inside his sedan he has rigged out a rolling arsenal. By reaching up with his left hand he can pull a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with buckshot, from a rack in the car. With his right hand he can claw down a Browning automatic rifle. Reaching forward he can pull a Thompson sub-machine gun from a rack on the dash of the car, where it is flanked by holders containing clips [sic] of ammunition. In the seat with him he can reach a Colt .45 automatic or a long-range German Luger automatic of smaller caliber, but deadly accuracy. On the floor, in a case, he can reach hand grenades, [tear] gas bombs and extra clips [sic] of ammunition ‒ shotgun shells, high power rifle cartridges and pistol ammunition, all carefully arranged to be “handy.” In the back seat, for long range work, he has an old Krag-Jorgensen [sic] army rifle, made famous in the Spanish-American war for its deadliness. Its sights are carefully adjusted, with wind gauge, elevation, and important other arrangements. Continue reading “Investigator Weapons: Charles Reber, Armed Investigator?”

Investigator Weapons: Hudson & Brand

Stygian Fox have recently published Hudson & Brand, an organisation and scenario book for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition. It outlines the case histories of Hudson and Brand, inquiry agents of the Obscure. The book is set in London in the 1880s and offers excellent maps and other support material. I have contributed the contents of Hudson and Brand’s armoury (complete with stats). The 204 pages of the book are ridiculously good-looking and it is a great resource for any Gaslight campaign in London. Check it out!

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Investigator Weapons: The Thompson Gun in Great Britain between the Wars

Here, one would say, is an arm that is useless for sport, cumbrous for self-defence and could not serve any honest purpose …

     ‒ Hugh Pollard, “Gun Running and the Traffic in Arms,” Saturday Evening Post (24-NOV-1923)

 

Captain Hugh Pollard was mainly talking with the Irish Revolution fresh on his mind, but he certainly did not think that an “honest” Briton could see any non-military use for the Thompson submachine gun. And yet, despite what the sorry state of today’s British gun laws would make one believe, British investigators of the Mythos could most definitely kit themselves out with a Thompson gun in the 1920s and early 1930s. Continue reading “Investigator Weapons: The Thompson Gun in Great Britain between the Wars”