Blood On the Sand: Nazi SS vs. Viet Cong

May 18, 2010

Geoff Desmoulin here to give you "the bad" and "the ugly" on our next controversial match-up involving two classic American enemies and describe the science behind getting shot in the head. 

Separated by two different wars, the WWII-era Elite Guard from Germany named Waffen-SS are taking on asymmetrical warfare experts from the jungles of Vietnam, the Viet Cong.

The Warriors

Out of the need for a German commando unit (Sonderkommando), an elite group was formed by Josef "Sepp" Dietrich in 1933. The regiment quickly grew to over 800 men and unfortunately, also quickly swore allegiance (obedience unto death) to Adolf Hitler. The group evolved into over 38 divisions of what is known as the Waffen-SS. Waffen meaning "the armed version of" and SS meaning "Schutzstaffel" (Protective Squadron). While some divisions served alongside the regular army, others were used as Hitler's body guards.  As is well known, after WWII the Waffen-SS was condemned as a criminal organization due to its involvement in war crimes.

The Viet Cong (VC) on the other hand was comprised of a conglomerate of regular army, guerrilla fighters, and organized peasants that fought against US and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War. Many of the men recruited to the VC were given military training in Hanoi and then sent south along the Ho Chi Minh trail to fight the "American Imperialists." The Tet Offensive is their most known assault where the VC attacked over 100 South Vietnamese centers including the US embassy in Saigon. After North and South Vietnam were unified in 1976, the group was dissolved.

Machine Pistol (Mauser C96)

Trivia: Remember Han Solo's blaster from Star Wars? If you thought it looks surprisingly similar to the Waffen-SS Mauser C96, that's because it was. On to the pistol specs: the 7.63x25 mm could be fired semi-auto or full-auto at about Mach 1.5 and had sights that were graded for 1000 m, although it was most effective at less than 200 m. If you know anything about firearms you will agree that those are very impressive numbers for a pistol. However, keep in mind that it got a lot of help from the forward-placed magazine and attachable buttstock that essentially turned this pistol into a small rifle - since the magazine became a handle and the buttstock provided amble stability and recoil absorption. On the show you'll see just how effective it is in both semi and full-auto modes.

Science Behind a Head Shot

If you've seen SWAT vs GSG-9 or purchased one of my shirts off my website you'll already know what happens to a skull when it gets hit by a bullet. BUT to summarize for those of you that have not had the honor, there are about 400 J transferred to the skull in total and the pressures that build up are about 700 PSI, due to a phenomenon called hydrostatic shock.  If you've watched Deadliest Warrior at all you'll have heard me say that it takes roughly 81 PSI applied to the outside of the skull to cause a fracture, so you can imagine what 700 PSI on the inside does. That kind of pressure is physiologically intolerable and often results in head explosions and eye balls popping out of the sockets. Obviously this causes certain death, but the more research that goes into the types of impact energies and injuries that are caused by these weapons the better off we are at engineering personal equipment that can protect against such threats.

Weekly plugs: @MaxGeiger, @DrDorian and @GeoffDesmoulin look forward to hearing from you on twitter. While you're online, check out the game Max is working on, Dr. D's drink, or my latest interview from the Systema School here in Calgary.