Made in USA : .45-70 at 143 years old

Builders,

Today was a working day here in the cradle of Corvairs. Vern and I were working in my hangar, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter was tuning up his Panther for the next flight, Dan Weseman met some builders in town at the SPA/Panther factory, and Brent Mayo’s Flying 3,000 cc Panther flew in to our airport, as he now has about 60 hours on the plane.

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In the late afternoon, we took a short break to do a little shooting in my back yard. My neighbor Wes stopped by with a brand new classic, chambered in one of the worlds oldest cartridges,  .45-70 . As a continuation of my appreciation of great American made mechanical devices and tools, let’s have a quick look.

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Above, a .22LR next to a .45-70, with a standard business card for sizing.  The cartridge is beyond a classic, it is something of a legend. It was first made in 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was President. 143 years later, it is still in production.  Just like your 50 year old Corvair engine, the modern .45-70  which is dimensionally and functionally the same round that Custer’s men used at the Battle of Little Big Horn, has been the subject of carefully engineered improvements on the original design.

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Many people only care about “new and exciting!” but it has been my long observation that far more people are served in aviation by old and proven designs, particularly ones they can learn about and fully understand. It has been my experience that people operating aircraft they don’t understand doesn’t always end well.

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Above, a 6 second video of my neighbor Richard showing what 2,400 ft/lbs. of energy into a gallon jug of water looks like.

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Above, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter (Read about the first flight of his Panther here: http://flywithspa.com/there-were-10/) Demonstrates what a master’s degree in Aerodynamics and physics, combined with incredibly good eyesight, results in: a first shot bulls eye. It was just 25 yards, but he had never picked up the rifle before, he shot it off hand, and he lined up the iron sights for about 1 second. The rifle is a 16″ barrel guide gun, and this may be very close to the limits of accuracy for the combination.

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Above, a beautiful made in USA Marlin lever action, brand new, a 2016 model, but essentially unchanged from their 1895 design.  For scale, on the left is a Corvair hydraulic lifter, beside it is a .45-70 case, next over is a S&W 500 Magnum….the dinky brass all the way on the left is a 9mm. The Niagara oil cooler pictured is arguably the best oil cooler on the market, and it is made 15 miles from where your Corvair engine was made in Tonawanda NY.

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In the consumer era, people’s attention is directed to a continuously changing series of “high tech” and “what’s new!” appliances, that here big news today, and gone tomorrow, making up new strata in landfills, their “no user serviceable parts inside” stickers never to see daylight again, keeping used diapers and copies of people magazine featuring stories of the Kardashians company for the next century or so.

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You can spend your hours on that hamster wheel, blindly expecting something good to come around, or you can make the willful choice to steer your life toward real machines, tools engines,  things with real and lasting value which provide actual quality to the hours spent with them. I have found much greater happiness by choosing to spend my creative hours working with such machines. The work of my life, developing and sharing the Corvair flight engine, has all been done with my life long appreciation for the great designers, craftsmen, and machines that all bore the title, American. 

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Ironically, none of my friends from abroad have had an issue with my focus, because they understand I fully expect them to be champions of the works of their own homelands, but I have been called everything from a troglodyte to a xenophobe by fellow countrymen who have somehow come to the conclusion that pride in the products and creative people of the United States is an embarrassing social blunder. I do not mean to offend such people, but I am not going to stop expressing my gratitude for the country I live in, which was provided by the lifetime work of millions of good people. The only thanks I can offer them is to offer a grateful remembrance of their efforts and to emulate their simple decency they brought to everyday life.

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-ww..

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About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to Made in USA : .45-70 at 143 years old

  1. Dennis McGuire says:

    Thanks for the Rifle review. I like old
    Rifles too. Have several myself like a
    1898 30-40 Craig or is Kraig. 1903 Springfield 30-06 and some old Russian Rifles MN. I also like some of the newer
    One like .45 Auto 1911 Springfield and others.
    Thanks again for talking guns
    I am also into aeroplanes.
    Built one and restored a few more.
    Thinking about the Daisy Mae with the Corvair engine.
    Dennis McGuire
    Jacksonville Fla
    papasmurff5678@att.net
    904-735-5140

  2. Sarah Ashmore says:

    Same as used by Custer’s men but improved over the years? That is good to hear. Those early versions tended to be made from poor grade materials and the ejector would tear the base off leaving the soldier with a spent round jammed in the chamber. Nothing like having a jammed cartridge that has to be dug out with a knife while surrounded by hostile forces. They did a very through archeological investigation of that battlefield a few years back after a brush fire burned it to the ground and by mapping the positions of cartridges and bullets they built up a fairly good scenario of specific combatants movements around the battlefield as defined by their weapon. They even had one original rifle that matched to one of the cartridge trails. It showed a scenario of battle that became increasingly chaotic situation for the Union troops as battlefield tactics were overtaken by fear and panic.

    I am as great an aficionado of classic American Made firearms as anyone but context is important, many of these are far more than target or hunting weapons, they come with bloody and tragic histories.

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