Can Ukraine Offer The World Hobbyist Military Technology? – Part I

Dear Readers:

I saw this very interesting piece in VZGLIAD, written by Nikita Volchenko.  One of the (perhaps unintended) consequences of the Maidan putsch of 2014 was the explosive growth of military hobby-ism and amateur creativity among Ukrainian volunteers.  Even as Ukraine sheds its vast industrial base and military-industrial complex inherited from the Soviet Union, garage-enthuasiasts are constantly developing new prototypes – everything from home-built tanks to drones.  The stated purpose of these hobbyists and their bread-boarded creations is to defeat the mighty Russian army, which is supposedly invading Ukraine every minute of the day.  But, political backstory aside, Volchenko wonders if there is any future in the notion of creating an amateur military-industrial complex?  Is this something that Russia should take note of, perhaps even try to emulate?

Fantasies about little people defeating a giant military machine, go back at least as far as the David and Goliath myth, and probably farther.  This type of myth is particular catnip to Millenial Youth raised on movies like “Star Wars”.  Where fuzzy forest creatures defeat rocket ships full of Imperial Stormtroopers using only pointed sticks or, say, improvised catapults made of logs.

On the one hand, it is ludicrous to believe that, say, a dogsled plated with sheets of hand-soldered steel can stand up to a modern Russian tank.  On the other hand, amateur creations, throughout time, have proved to be militarily useful; and hobbyists have always played a role in war.  One need only think of Ham Radio enthusiasts and their contributions in World War II.

Hedy Lamarr as Delilah

Think too of  Hollywood superstar Hedy Lamarr, who practically invented the military application of wireless communications.  Interestingly enough, the Austrian-born glam-doll portrayed sexy Delilah in the Hollywood film based on the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah.  A story which also riffs on the myth of the lone individual (=Samson) crafting various ingenious methods of bringing down a big army, in this case the Philistines.  While Samson was not necessarily known for his skills with the slingshot, he did invent a nifty anti-Philistine-farmer device known as “Firefox” technology.  To wit (Judges 15:4,5):

So Samson went out, caught 300 foxes, grabbed some torches, tied the foxes together in pairs at their tails, and fastened a torch between each pair of tails.

When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves.

Early Firefox technology

Several foxes were harmed in this process, it goes without saying.

While Samson possessed enough genocidal cunning to make both philistines and animal-lovers cringe, Hedy Lamarr, the more intellectual of the two individualists, developed a radio guidance system which helped the Allies win the war against Nazi Germany.  A descendant of this technology is known today as “Bluetooth”, and is used in virtually every modern device carried by every modern teenager!  But leaving Bible Studies behind, and returning to our Ukrainian story:

Volchenko writes that the crisis of statehood which has torn the Ukraine apart, has led to the following scenario:  A dying economy has forced many Ukrainians to leave their country in search of work.  Others remain and endure in silence, gritting their teeth and trying to survive.  Still others enthusiastically support the Nationalist government and assist the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” against the Separatist areas of the Donbass.  This last impulse initially expressed itself as a movement of volunteers.  Enthuastically joining up with the “volunteer” Right Sektor militias and heading East with guns and rockets in hand, to suppress the rebellion.

Still other Ukrainians express their support for the Nationalist cause by sitting in their workshops and using their creative know-how to develop technologies for the anti-Separatist  militias.

[to be continued]

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