Sunday, October 13, 2019

IWI Masada Rounds 1-250

SO I finally got a chance to head to the range with the IWI Masada.

The first 17 shots at 25 feet:

Not too bad.

The trigger does subjectively feel better than the stock Glock trigger, and in shooting them both one after the other I'd again subjectively say the Masada's trigger is better and far smoother.

I find that this range trip I was consistently shooting a little bit low with the Masada.

200 rounds of Remington 115 grain were fired through it without a hitch, along with 50 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P, again with no failures whatsoever. I shot Two handed, one handed, and weak hand only shooting with no problems. Both magazines that came with the gun were used.

Overall shooting impression is rather positive. Fit to the hand is very good, the reset is easy and the trigger again is very smooth and I enjoyed shooting it today. I also shot 100 rounds through the Glock 17 with no malfunctions either, and that's 300 through it with no issues.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Masada - The Handgun This Time, Not The Fortress

A brief interlude from my Israel trip, but still Israel related, in this case, a new handgun - The IWI Masada.

Named after the Masada Fortress in Israel, It offers a lot of quality and features at an extremely competitive price.

I just purchased this pistol.

A polymer, striker-fired pistol, it features an ambidextrous magazine release and slide release, offering easy right or left hand operation. It comes with two metal 17-round magazines.

It's very comparable in size to the Glock 17.

I find that the trigger is much better than the stock Glock trigger, and it feels to me like a VP9 trigger in terms of smoothness and feel, but that's quite subjective.

It has a removable backstrap with Large, Medium or Small inserts. Again fit and comfort is better for me even with the standard medium back strap than the Glock 17. It feels less blocky and fits the hand much better. Again that's a subjective opinion.

A major advantage of the Masada is it comes optics ready at a price less than even the standard non-MOS mount Glocks.

The firearm comes complete with mounts and mounting screws for the RMR, Venom, Delta Point, and Romeo 01, so you can mount the optic of your choice very easily.

A comparable Glock 17 MOS goes for $599 retail or more at many stores where I've seen it. The IWI Masada comes in around $440 and I've found them for $392 at times. That's a pretty significant price difference for a comparable pistol.

In a market saturated with striker-fired polymer pistols, where Glock dominates, it will be interesting to see how and if the Masada, with all its features and price point, catches on. It seems like a solidly built pistol that can stand on its own merits.

I'll take the Masada to the range shortly to try it out.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Israel Day 5 - IAF Museum - Mad Props Of The Early IAF

The early history of the IAF is well represented at the museum.


Not on display but still in flying condition at the museum is the famous Israeli "Black Spitfire" that was flown by Ezer Weizman, who had been both commander of the Israeli Air Force and the 7th President of Israel.


These particular Mustangs were used during the 1956 Suez Crisis to disrupt Egyptian communications. They did this by cutting the Egyptian phone lines, forcing them to transmit by radio where the communications could be intercepted. When the cutting devices designed for the job didn't work, they pressed on and used their propellers to cut the phone cables.

But before all of these, The IAF took to the skies to fight the invading Arab armies in the humble Auster Autocrat.

One of the IAF's first aircraft, it was armed with machine guns and grenades. Once real fighters and fighter/bombers arriveds, they continued to serve as reconnaissance and liaison aircraft.

The Piper Cub:

Yes, Piper Cubs didn't just fly as trainers, they also flew combat missions dropping grenades and homemade bombs with the early IAF, again until more suitable combat aircraft could be acquired. .

Later these trainers were augmented with the T-6 Texan.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Israel Day 5 - IAF Museum - Israel's First Fighter

The first plane you see on viewing the Museum collection. Take a guess what this plane is:

Think its a Messerschmidt BF-109?

Its not a Messerschmidt, it's a Czech Avia S-199.

Israel's first fighter plane, it was flown by its first fighter squadron, the 101.

The squadron logo was designed by an American volunteer pilot with the unit, and the 101 flies with it to this day.

Formed with both native Israelis and foreign volunteers, including British and American pilots, the 101 Squadron took to the skies in 1948 and on its first mission, with just a few bombs, and with 4 fighter planes, stopped the entire Egyptian Army advance on Tel Aviv cold.

The Avia S-199 used a Messerschmidt air frames built in Czechoslovakia at the Messerschmidt plant built there by the Germans in World War 2. But, as the fighter engine plant had been destroyed in the war, The Czechs used a Junkers Jumo engine normally used for bomber aircraft, which is why it has a huge paddle shaped propeller.

Called either the Messer, meaning knife in Yiddish, or the Mezek, meaning Mule, the Avia wasn't exactly a hit with Israeli and foreign pilots.

Handling wasn't great, and ground loops and other accidents due to the engine mismatch were common.

But still, the Avia S-199 proved its worth in combat, shooting down Egyptian Spitfires and other aircraft and providing ground support ot the beleaguered nascent State of Israel as it was being invaded by seven Arab armies. For more on the Heroic American and other foreign pilots in the War of Independence you can watch Above and Beyond on Amazon for free if you've got Prime. Well worth watching.

Israel Day 5 - The Israeli Air Force's Nature Preserve

After visiting Masada we headed west to Beersheva and then to Hatzerim in the Negev Desert.

What's in Hatzerim you ask?

An Israeli Air Force Base that happens to house The Israeli Air Force Museum, referred to as their Nature Preserve.

As you might guess, this was my pick of a destination during our trip.

You pass the gate guardian as you approach the base.

Then you meet the guardian of the gate, the corporal of the guard, standing guard at the entrance gate to the museum:

One of the rules was no taking pictures of airborne or other operational aircraft while on the base, but the museum aircraft as we shall see, were more than sufficient to satisfy the most insatiable aviation fan.

The museum has a nice indoor facility with a good history of the air force, and there's also a large cargo plane turned into a movie theater where you can watch a movie about some of the air force's exploits. Tash and the kids headed to tour the air conditioned areas while I headed out to explore the amazing array of aircraft on display at the museum.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Game Of Vetoes: Michigan Governor Plays Budget Games

Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer got upset when the Republican House and Senate here refuses to pass her massive tax increase. After first threatening to shut down the government, she backed away from that, and decided instead to only line item veto certain items in the Republican created budget.

And what interesting veto choices they are.

Whitmer campaigned and was elected on her promise of "Fix The Damn Roads".

So what did she just veto? Funding for roads.

Yes, really:

Whitmer vetoed $375 million in general fund spending targeted at road and bridge repairs, including repairs on four bridges that Whitmer recently visited and highlighted as in urgent need of repairs. She said the use of general fund money for roads hurts other priorities and is no substitute for a comprehensive road funding plan.

So instead of "Fix the damn roads" Its "Veto the damn road spending". You can't make this up.

Whitmer then went out of her way to try to make the most painful veto choices, harming many of her key constituents in areas such as Education and Mental Health spending.

She also took another swipe at education and free enterprise, ending tuition grants to any Michigan resident going to private colleges, but maintained it for public colleges - Michigan private college students scramble to replace scholarships cut by Whitmer

She also cut some public safety grants that keep sheriff deputies on the road, and tried to attack rural areas that are pro-Republican, because politics.

About the only useful veto she did was to veto the Pure Michigan ad campaign. This is a good thing, as the parodies are much better anyways.

So, we now know that not only is she ineffective at budget negotiations, she's petty and vindictive when she doesn't get her way, and she's petty and vindictive in a way that hurts Republicans but also her own core constituents and supporters.

That should work out really well for her come election season.

Israel Day 5 - Masada - Part 6 - The Zealots' Last Stand

Accordingly, he [Roman General Flavius Silva] got upon that part of the rock, and ordered the army to bring earth; and when they fell to that work with alacrity, and abundance of them together, the bank was raised, and became solid for two hundred cubits in height. Yet was not this bank thought sufficiently high for the use of the engines that were to be set upon it; but still another elevated work of great stones compacted together was raised upon that bank; this was fifty cubits, both in breadth and height. The other machines that were now got ready were like to those that had been first devised by Vespasian, and afterwards by Titus, for sieges. There was also a tower made of the height of sixty cubits, and all over plated with iron, out of which the Romans threw darts and stones from the engines, and soon made those that fought from the walls of the place to retire, and would not let them lift up their heads above the works. At the same time Silva ordered that great battering ram which he had made to be brought thither, and to be set against the wall, and to make frequent batteries against it, which with some difficulty broke down a part of the wall, and quite overthrew it.
- Josephus Wars Of The Jews Book 7

The breaching point where the Roman ramp reached the fortress wall, allowing a siege tower and ram to be brought close enough to breach the wall.

The Roman Ramp can be seen below the breach and you can use it to ascend to the summit.

After the Romans began to attack the wall, the Zealots built a second wall of wood behind it and packed earth in between to absorb the blows of the ram. The Romans then set that wooden wall on fire. By then it was near nightfall. The Romans left to resume their assault in the morning.

According to Josephus, the defenders, realizing they could not win in the face of such an assault decided to commit suicide, to prevent being massacred and enslaved. With ten of the Zealots being chosen by the drawing lots or ostracons with their names on pottery shards to first kill the rest and then decided again by lots who was to kill themselves in turn with the last one killing himself.

They then chose ten men by lot out of them to slay all the rest; every one of whom laid himself down by his wife and children on the ground, and threw his arms about them, and they offered their necks to the stroke of those who by lot executed that melancholy office; and when these ten had, without fear, slain them all, they made the same rule for casting lots for themselves, that he whose lot it was should first kill the other nine, and after all should kill himself.

In one of the rooms of the northern palace, archaeologist found pottery shards with the names on them, including that of Eleazar Ben Yair, the leader of the Zealots, providing archeological verification of Josephus' story.

Masada's story was retold in 1981 as a TV mini series, the DVDs of which can be purchased on Amazon or you can rent the DVDs from Netflix. Peter O'Toole and Peter Strauss gave truly masterful and epic performances.

The story of Masada continues through the ages of sacrifice, resistance and defiance. It was incredible to walk and explore the fortress.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Masada - Part 5 - Columbarium, Mosiacs and Synagogue

On Masada, there was even a Columbarium for raising doves for both meet and fertilizer on top of the mountain.

Walking past the Columbarium, we saw some Trebuchet stones that likely had been fired by the Romans at Masada.

Herod's northern palace was an amazing three-tiered architectural masterpiece.

Not much of the grandeur remains, but the remains do give a sense of scale. Yet another of the Roman camps can be seen below. Imagine living on the mountain and constantly looking down to see yourself surrounded on all sides by the Roman army.

Looking down into the middle section of the northern palace, Many rooms of the palace at Masada still have mosaics that still survive to this day.

After the Northern palace, we went to the Synagogue.

The Synagogue, oriented towards Jerusalem, is setup in the classic Sephardi style seen in many locations in Israel. The seating area goes around the outside of the room. The center likely held the ark, though the area at the rear of this picture was a storeroom at the time.

One of the oldest synagogues in the world.

The next and last stop at Masada: Where the Zealot's struggle ended.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Masada - Part 4 - Water - The Bathhouse, The Mikvah, and The Cisterns

The Roman Bathhouse is one of the larger buildings on Masada:

The walkway outside the baths still shows its original pattern.

The changing room walls still have some of the original painting in places and some tiles remain on the floor.

Then one enters an arched corridor.

The archway leads to the hot room, complete with a heated floor:

The walls of the hot room themselves have clay pipes behind the plaster for steam to be funnelled throughout the room:

It's an impressive example of Roman engineering and bathhouse design.

In addition to the Roman bathhouse, there's also a Jewish ritual bath, a small Mikveh was located near the water cisterns as the Mikveh requires running water.

Water was brought to Masada by a clever system of hidden aqueducts and cisterns that held 40,000 cubic meters of water.