ADS-L Digest - 12 Apr 2009 to 13 Apr 2009 (#2009-104) (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Tue Apr 14 22:28:49 UTC 2009

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

> "The U.S. is considering new options to fight piracy, including adding
> Navy gunships along the Somali coastline and launching a campaign to
> disable pirate ``mother ships,'' according to military officials."
> Please, a "gunship" (aka "Puff the Magic Dragon") is an AIRPLANE, not
> sea-going vessel.  Specifically, a gunship is a cargo-type airplane
> armed with high-rate-of-fire machine guns or cannon.  Gunships would
> very useful for a landing on the Somali coast but are overkill for
> chasing pirate speedboats or even mother ships.

Most contemporary references I've found in military literature referring
to "gunships" are, as Jim says, aircraft.  AC-130 Spectres are typical,
but also helicopters -- Cobras, Apaches, Mi-35 Hind (Russian), etc.
Historically, however, the word referred to water craft.  OED has
support for both.

"Review board gives DDG 1000 program its latest setback"
Navy Times - Monday, October 27, 2008 p. 19
"Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said Sept. 26 he made the
decision to cut the program because the ship was "optimized for a
particular mission. ... It is a gunship . It can shoot a bullet about 80
miles." " [The ship in question is the prototype DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class

"Fixing fire support - Study may help heal long-standing rift between
Navy, Marines"
Navy Times - Monday, October 27, 2008 p. 12
"With all the compromises and a maximum run of three ships, any DDG
1000s that are built most likely will spend more time as technology test
platforms than gunships , said Bob Work, a retired colonel and defense
analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments."

"Soviet Gunboat Gets Close Look As Still a Threat"
By ERIC SCHMITT New York Times May 10, 1992; pg. 16
"After poking in the gunship's every nook and cranny, and taking it out
for several spins on the Chesapeake Bay at full throttle (about 50 miles
an hour), Navy specialists have been surprised to discover that the ship
is largely a collection of technology from the 1960's, armed with some
very nasty guns and missiles."

"Ferry Attacked by Gunship Off Lebanese Coast; 1 Killed"
The Washington Post; Feb 25, 1990; pg. A16 [from the text of the
article, it is clear the "gunship" in the headline is a naval craft]

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The American Dialect Society -

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