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Archive for June, 2018

The Sea Dragon missile, in development by the U. S. Navy, is actually not the first such device to bear that name. Back in the 1960s, a heavy rocket called Sea Dragon was developed but never field-tested or deployed. If implemented, this rocket would have been considerably larger than the Saturn rockets used by N. A. S. A. at the time.

The concept, originating with Robert Truax of Aerojet, was a cargo rocket that could be launched from sea. The design was self-contained and independent of any land base. This saved the expense of facilities and personnel. Sea Dragon would have been built with standard materials at already existing shipyards, then towed to sea. A system of ballast tanks would have brought it to the upright position from which it could launch. Remarkably, the lower half of the rocket would have been submerged during launch.

Aerojet formed a partnership with the spacecraft corporation T. R. W. to implement Truax’s designs. However, outside budgetary constraints caused the project to languish. It was eventually cancelled, so that Sea Dragon never existed beyond the domain of drawings and schematics.

Truax was ahead of his time with this design. Sea Dragon would have been operated remotely and included reusable components, much as Space-X spacecraft do today. Who knows — maybe one of today’s commercial space corporations will take another look at the Sea Dragon.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Recent reports show that Chinese hackers were able to penetrate an American defense contractor and steal a substantial trove of data. Some of the information has since been released to the public. The name of the contractor is still being concealed, but among the projects revealed was one called Sea Dragon.

It appears that this is a new type of guided missile for America’s submarine fleet. Sea Dragon will be able to target ships, aircraft and other missiles at supersonic speed. Because of the speed, it’s believed that Sea Dragon is based on the currently existing SM-6 missile, which is launched from battleships. Upgraded capabilities include the ability to accept guidance data from a variety of Navy planes and spy-drones.

According to this report in Popular Mechanics, the Sea Dragon system was scheduled to begin testing later in 2018 and could have been deployed as early as 2020. Of course, now that the secret has been laid bare, we’ll have to see if the Navy continues development as planned.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Just For Fun 36

Here’s a very short one, before I head off to an all-day gaming event.

Q: At Dragon University, what do the students say when a lecture goes on for too long?

A: This is really draggin’ on!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Long ago, in the Scottish borderlands, a dreadful wyvern made its lair on the side of Linton Hill. This creature would hunt at dawn and dusk. It wasn’t a picky eater — men, beasts and crops all found their way into its gullet. The villagers fought back, but no weapon could pierce its armored scales.

In desperation, a messenger went to the castle of the local laird, John (or perhaps William) de Somerville. De Somerville was famed as a warrior, reckless and fierce. In this case, however, caution seemed to temper his actions. First, he went to all the villages around Linton Hill, gathering tales and advice. Then he found a vantage to watch the creature in action.

De Somerville observed that the wyvern had an exceptionally large maw. It would snap up and swallow anything in its path. However, when it encountered an obstacle too large to be devoured, it would momentarily freeze with its mouth open. In this, the laird saw his chance.

He went to the nearest blacksmith and directed the man to create an unusual weapon. It was a great spear, but with a wheel on the front. He then stuck a chunk of peat on the tip, covered it with tar, and set it alight. Next followed several days of practice getting his war horse used to having a flaming object in front of it.

When he was ready, De Somerville rode out at dawn. Just as the wyvern emerged from its lair, he lit the spear and confronted the beast on horseback. As ever, the wyvern charged with its mouth open to snatch up a meal. But it had never encountered a person on horseback before. It froze, mouth gaping.

Unfortunately for the dragon, De Somerville did not halt his charge. He ran his burning spear straight into the wyvern’s throat. The monster shrieked and thrashed. Dying, it retreated to its lair, which collapsed upon it. De Somerville was knighted and named Baron of Linton. His family crest depicted a wyvern perched atop a wheel.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Dragon_Radish

“Dragon” radishes. Photo by Deby Fredericks, 2018.

Last time I shared a photo of a dragonfly from my garden. This time I have a more delicious dragon to share.

These are “Dragon” radishes, a favorite variety of mine. They grow fast, like all radishes, with that nice peppery burn.

My previous plantings didn’t do well. Either maggots infested them or the neighborhood cats dug up the soil before they sprouted. This year was the charm. They are great in salads. Definitely worth the wait!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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BlueEyedDarner

Remains of a Blue Eyed Darner dragonfly. Photo by Deby Fredericks, June 12, 2018.

I am both happy and sad to share today’s discovery with you. What is it? The remains of a dragonfly, found in my back yard.

The reason I’m happy is that I had at least one dragonfly in my garden. I garden as close to chemical-free as possible, which means there is always the possibility of an insect attack. Finding a predator bug is always good news.

If I’m right, this was a Blue-Eyed Darner, Rhionaeschna multicolor. It’s one of the more common dragonflies in the western U. S. and usually the first species to appear in spring. From the vivid coloration, it was a male. Females have a more drab appearance.

I’m sad that it’s dead, because dragonflies are simply amazing. It saddens me to pick up the frail shell of what should be a lively, fierce flyer. We have had chilly temperatures overnight for the past few days. I suspect this is what brought him down.

Still, I’m glad to know my garden was home to a ferocious dragon — at least for a little while.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

 

 

 

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Dragonfang is the sword of a Marvel superhero known as the Valkyrie. I first recall this character as part of supergroup called The Defenders, in comics I read during the 1980s. The spirit of a Norse valkyrie, Brunhilde — yes, from Wagner’s operas — possessed an ordinary woman, Barbara Norriss, and struggled to fit into her mundane life while also battling evil as the Valkyrie.

Dragonfang was an extraordinary weapon, forged in the same foundry as Thor’s famous hammer, Mjolnir. Dragonfang, however, was quite distinct. Among its extraordinary features: a) it could never be destroyed, b) it could absorb magical attacks, and c) it could disrupt magical barriers.

According to Asgardian lore, Dragonfang could only be held and used by one of the fabled valkyries. Occasionally, other mighty women such as the goddesses Sif have been able to wield this blade.

As with many comic book items, Dragonfang’s origins are somewhat muddled. Initially, it was stated that the Ancient One, mentor of Dr. Strange, had Dragonfang in his keeping along with many other relics. The blade had been created from an actual dragon fang by one of the Ancient One’s predecessors. When the Valkyrie had to give up her magic sword, Dr. Strange offered her Dragonfang as a replacement.

However, in the Valkyrie’s movie debut, Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Thor refers to the weapon as “a dragonfang,” implying that each valkyrie had her own personal Dragonfang. Seeing the weapon, Thor knows at once that this unnamed woman must be an Asgardian in hiding.

The Valkyrie was never one of Marvel’s most successful characters, in large part because she was little more than a girl version of Thor. (This was long before anyone dreamed of actually letting a woman carry Mjolnir, as Jane Foster did in the remarkable Thor comic books between 2015 and 2018). At least she got to ride around on a winged horse rather than being dragged through the skies by her hammer!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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