Thursday, July 19, 2018

Osa Johnson, An Accomplished American Woman

Osa Johnson, American Feminist

   "There isn't really a great deal to say about it. Everybody found it so generally satisfactory that there wasn't anything to start a discussion."
This is how John "Pondoro" Taylor sums up the 9.3x62 Mauser in the classic African Rifles and Cartridges. From the moment of its introduction in 1905 until it was hobbled by ammunition supply problems in the 1960s, the 9.3x62 reigned supreme as the allaround, and probably most popular non-military, calibre in Africa.

As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.

There are many rifles listed in the arsenal, including shotguns, of Osa and Martin Johnson, but the one featured here is not the Griffin and Howe Springfield, but instead is the 9.3 German Mauser which she was pictured with often enough.
It was one of the finest firearms for affordable African protection, as most of the English firearms, one needed to own a country to afford one.

Osa Johnson's 9.3 x 62 Express German Express Rifle

Here at last was a serious all-around cartridge; its 286-grain bullets at 2350 fps had enough energy and penetration for amateur hunters and farmers to safely kill even elephants in all but the worst circumstances, while its moderate recoil made its use reasonable even on such small game such as warthog or impala.

As one can see it was a fine all around cartridge, but what stuns me is gun writers like Jack O'Connor of Outdoor Life, had his wife working up to a 270 Winchester, in order to deal with recoil. Osa Johnson the girl from Kansas was not Annie Oakely shooting 95 Winchester lever action pop guns, but was handling real elephant loads, and doing it so effectively that she was the one who held the gun while her husband rolled the cameras to film the wildlife.

 Osa's Mauser rifle had express sights from 200 to 500 meters

The Germans had in Paul Mauser created three legendary cartridges. The 7 x 57, the 8 x 57 and the 9.3 x 62 for African work. While the English were still producing Kynoch smokeless loads with inferior bullets getting people killed, the Germans were turning out affordable firearms for the colonists which did not take your head off on firing.
Yes, the answer to everything British was to scream louder or pour in more powder to handle wogs or beasties. For the Germans, they never had colonial problems with the natives and they instead produced excellent firearms, and even more dependable ammunition.

German cartridges based on the military 7.92 (8x57) round necked up were great on softskinned game, but lacked penetration to kill elephants with frontal shots, and were marginal for raking shots on game such as buffalo or hippo. It was into this market that Paul Mauser launched his 9.3x62.

The standard Model ’98 Mauser rifle cost only £5 (US$20) in 1905, and it was renowned for its reliability. The rifles came with acceptable sights, were superbly accurate, and the
earlier 8x57 and 9x57 cartridges were easily the best of the early smokeless small bores, although they lacked the knockdown power needed for the largest game. The 9.3 corrected the power problem while not having excessive recoil. In short, it was a well balanced cartridge, loaded with good soft-point bullets or solids, and came in a reasonably priced, high-quality rifle. It was an instant success, and not only in the German colonies.

I actually found this thread in researching more information on Osa Johnson, in a Bob Faucett of Houston Texas, in December of 2008, acquired the 9.3 firearm, and was posting about the rifle and thinking about loaning it to a museum as this was a remarkable piece of history, as this gun is as infamous as Teddy Roosevelt's Medicine Gun.

Osa Johnson as you can see was not some 500 pound plumper. She was not built like a whiskered dyke married to an Obama. She was a slight thing, a theatrical singer, who time and again was firing off rounds in a variety of guns which some males would cringe at pulling the trigger on.
She simply understood how to shoot, had excellent firearms for recoil in the Mausers with a recoil pad and she was a true marksman and rifleman, because often enough she stopped charging lions before they could kill her or her husband.

George Rushby favoured his 9.3 double for both elephant-control work and for shooting lions. Ten of the man-eaters of Njombe fell to George's 9.3, and he records with sorrow how he was forced to sell the 9.3 for financial reasons and purchase a .400 which, although just as effective on elephants, lacked the “shocking power” on the big cats. This, of course, was simply a matter of velocity, as the 9.3’s velocity is above the critical point at which explosive wounds occur in flesh (2200-2250 fps), and so the bullets tend to produce much more extensive wounds and shock to the central nervous system than larger, slower bullets.

For those who know cartridges, the 9.3 was shootable for men, but often enough, Osa was pictured with some real bruisers like the Winchester 95 in 405 Winchester which is not a pleasant firearm to shoot with a steel plate on the stock.

Here is a partial list of her rifles and shotguns:

Martin and Osa Johnson spent four years at "Lake Paradise" in Northern Kenya on the Eithiopian (then Absynnia) border. This was their second sojourn to the Lake to take photos and film of the wildlife.

They armed themselves with the following 'arsenal':

3 English Blands - .470 NE - double barrel
1 English Bland - .275 - Mannlicher action
1 American Springfield - .303 - Mauser action
1 English Rigby - .505 - Mauser action
3 American Winchesters - .405 - lever action
1 American Winchester - .32 - lever action
2 English Jeffrey's - .404 - Mauser action
1 American Winchester shotgun - 12g - repeating
1 American Parker - 12g - double barrel
1 American Ithaca - 20g - double barrel
1 American Ithaca - 20g - sawed off shotgun, called riot gun
1 .38 Colt revolver
1 .45 Colt revolver

Reference: "I Married Adventure" by Osa Johnson, 1940

Then there is this one of Osa with a Thomas Bland 470 Express. This is the English elephant guns, and she happily has just flattened a beast and is smiling with no ill effects.

I thoroughly admire this lady, because she thrived in a world of explorers where the best had tombstones put up to them after being killed in accidents or maulings. Her ability to keep her head was a testament to how brave of a woman she was.

This is her pilot's license in June of 1935 AD in the year of our Lord.

This is her plane, the Osa Ark, the Spirit of America.

The little girl who tamed the continents, had her rifle an American model 94 Winchester in 30 30 donated to the museum by her mother. She was an all around woman from being glamorous, business, feminine, feminist and one of the people in this world when you were in tight spot, you wanted her with a gun behind you to save you.

This couple really needs an independent movie to be made about them as they were marvelous in all they accomplished.

 She did not need Ivanka millions or Hillary screeching to tell her she was woman enough to do something. She just went out and did it all.