29 June 2012

FWS Forgotten Classics: ALIENS vs. PREDATOR (Dark Horse 1990)

Originally, FWS was going to post on the topics of weapons used in space warfare, but somehow, the Cylons ate the post, weeks of research and work gone. So, I pulled out this blogpost that another week from being posted. Damn Frakking Cylons!
There are ideas that are simply organic together, like peanut butter and jelly, manual transmissions and the Porsche 911, chips and salsa. It was somehow natural that when the alien hunters from 1987's Predator and the nightmarish aliens from ALIEN and ALIENS were paired together. But in the years since we first got to read about them in the pages of Dark Horse Comics, this wonderfully evil idea has been twisted in a perverse shell of it's former self.       
Some of us fans of the ALIENS and Predator universes got lucky, we got to experience the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of these dark science fiction universes before Hollywood completely fucked them up with their abortion of films depicting the war between the Xenomorphs and the Yautja races.Back in 1989, Dark Horse Comics was forging the continuing path for these two alien races and their involvement with humans through separate comic series, and then in 1989, in DHP#34 combining them BEFORE the Predator 2 film. Then in 1990, we got the full limited series of five issues, and it was brilliant, becoming one of the best comics of 1990. This is the work that Hollywood should used for the AVP film without a doubt. Maybe we will see this AVP in the future if the universe has any sense of justice.

The Plot of the 1990 ALIENS vs. PREDATORS Limited Series

The 1990 limited series printed a #0 comic which combined all of the black&white comics from Dark Horse Presents, giving the reader background information on the setup of mankind's first contact with the ancient conflict between the Xenomorphs and the Yautja. Cargo pilots Tom Strandberg and Scott Conover working for Chigusa Corporation, are hauling supplies and empty cargo modules to Ryushi colony in the Beta Cygni system. Unknown to them, a Yautja mothership passes directly in front of them moving a FTL speeds. While the comic book shows the events onboard the alien vessel, the dialog is of Tom and Scott discussing modern Terran society and how we have moved beyond nature, and how humans are fucking with mother nature. Within the expertly drawn Yautja mothership, different hunting clans battle for hunting rights on seeded worlds with Xenomorph eggs via automated delivery vehicles. From the comic, we learn that the Predators have industrialized the hunt for the alien race, onboard the mothership, an Xenomorph Queen is tied down, while still pumping out eggs, and the automated loaders screen for any queen facehuggerss destroying them on detection.  However, the clever queen gets one past the robotic systems. Far away from the bowls of the vessel, two alien hunters, one younger, one older with a broken tusk battle for the right to hunt on Ryushi, the older, more experienced Yautja wins, forcing the younger hunter to a jungle seeded world.
Here the comic shows the younger hunters struggle on the jungle world, and the warrior/hunter ritual of breaking a certain Xenomorph finger, using the acid to tattoo themselves with the clan mark.
 Already, the reader is hooked on the well-written dialog of Tom and Scott, while visually learning of the Yautja culture and their role with the Xenomorphs.
Broken Tusk, or Dachande in his own tongue, led the hunting expedition to Ryushi. This world was naturally an atmospheric standard world, but suffers under 19 hours of brutal sunlight from twin suns, making Ryushi extremely hot and desert-like, appearing to be akin to the rocky deserts of Arizona and Utah. The planet has been only settled for four years with a population of 115 centered around the only major settlement, Prosperity Wells, and ranches. One species attached humans to Ryushi, the Rhynth. These massive beast are a cross between Cows and Rhinos, and the reason behind the billions that the Chigusa Corporation invested. Rhynth are viewed as the answer to Earth's problems of feeding its population with real protein, and these interstellar ranchers are looking to turn a massive profit with the first shipment of these animals back to Earth via the cargo ship on its way. The small settlement is in the middle of a power change, the previous corporate administrator is leading and being replaced by the icy Machiko Noguchi. While the humans agree over profit margins, the eggs arrive and free-range Rhynth locate them. Days later,the Yautja hunting party led by Dachande arrives as well as the human cargo tug Lector. 
One of the major Ranchers finds the discarded facehuggers, and covers it up, fearing the quarantine on his animals. The local vet, Dr. Revna goes out to hunt down live samples of the facehuggers, but runs into the Yautja party. He rams his hover-bike directly into their landing craft, destroying its fuel system and knocks out Dachande leaving the younger hunters leaderless and angry. They embark on a path of revenage on the human settlers of this planet, starting with the ranches, while impregnated animals are herded onboard the Lector. The plot becomes clear here, the humans, Xenomorphs, and Yautja all battle in the colony site, while Noguchi and Dachande ban together after the hunters lose their sense of honor by killing children. Tom and Scott become trapped onboard the Lector with the alien hive, and  impregnated. To stop the war being the species, Noguchi releases the Rhynth from the holding pens. This flood of heavy flesh crushes hunters and Xenomorphs alike, giving the humans time to evac from Prosperity Wells into the desert. Scott and Tom hatch a plan with Noguchi to bring down the massive cargo module from geosych, ramming them into the Lector tug, resulting in a massive explosion to wipe the colony site clean of hostile aliens, Broken Tusk gives his approval, and helps Noguchi end the lives of the doomed star pilots. In the end, the hive is wiped out, the hunters are killed, and Dachande lays dying, in his last act, he rewards Noguchi with a alien-finger burn tattoo of his hunting clan. On the last page, she chose to remain on Ryushi by herself, and wait for the hunters to return.

What happened to  Machiko Noguchi?

By the time that the heroine Machiko Noguchi made another appearance in the pages of DHC she was named 'Small Knife' by the hunters in the followup to the 1990 limited series; AVP: WAR published in 1995. She lived among the Yautja hunters for a few years, after a few successful hunts and matches, she was rewarded with her own hunter armor with weaponry, but yet not fully accepted by the alien race. It was on a human hunting mission, that Machiko decided her loyality lay with mankind and not the Yautja, causing her to be exiled from the clan. It was not until the 2010 AVP: Three World War,when the Colonial Marines ask for Machiko's help in dealing with a band of killer-hunters raiding a mining colony. This series takes elements from the film Predators allowing Noguchi to side with the more normal Yautja and not larger, more aggressive Yautja who are using the Xenomorphs as dogs of war. She may be humanity's only hope ending the threat from the Yautja race.

The Historical Context of this comic

At the time DHC was publishing these comics, there were two giant comic companies, Marvel and DC, and in the middle were smaller publishers like Comico, Dark Horse, NOW, and others, but, Marvel and DC would have never touched or put these alien species together in legendary combat. This pairing and the fashion that the writers handled it, caused Dark Horse Comics to leap beyond their original titles and characters, granting them some great buzz to their work and allowing them to survive the downsizing in comic publishers in the mid-1990's. I know that I became a lifetime fan of Dark Horse because of their work in the ALIENS and Predator universe, and rejected the watered down mainstream comics of Marvel and DC. After films, like ALIEN 3 and Predator 2, we fans knew that majority of the time, DHC's work was lightyears better than the shit Hollywood was slinging (if they could have only done better with the Terminator comics!). Now, while matching up characters in a crossover was nothing new in comics, it had never been done like before AVP. Before Dark Horse Comics fused the identity of these two different films ETs, they were never connected in a canon source, some fans talk about it, including me, then after, matching two different foes became sickening common, like Terminator vs. Robocop. Ugh.

Why is this a classic?

Before the video games, other films, and toys, this limited series gave us fans the first look into the culture of the Predators and how they viewed the Xenomorphs and us. More over, the story by Randy Stradley, was dead-on right, hitting all cylinders, the only misstep was the coloring by Monika Livingston, which was corrected by the 2007 Omnibus edition.
In the years after this 1990 limited series, seventeen other AVP comic series were put out, only a few were any good, and the steer amount of titles degraded the entire AVP universe. Even now, when I reread the original 1990 series, I was struck how great the story really was, and how it is unlike anything in the rest of the AVP universe, even the direct followup comics.
Unlike most of the other comics and video games, this AVP title incorporates all three factions in the inter-species war, developing different sides to each. On one hand, we see a different human colony that IS NOT patterned after LV426, nor not governed over by the Wyland-Yutani Corporation, and not a Colonial Marine in sight. Instead we get the settlers and ranchers of this dust-ball of a world who are there for raising and selling a native species for food, which was more original thinking than the other AVP titles later. Within the Predator-hunter side, we see their culture struggling with the addition of high technology into their hunting, their pathological addiction to hunting the Xenomorphs, and despite being a highly advanced civilization, these aliens are still divided tribal lines that fracture their society. I admit that the Xenomorphs are underdeveloped here, but the Dark Horse series just prior to AVP have most readers at the time all the depth they needed. The 1990 AVP series showed the badass Xenomorphs containted and forced to serve at the whim of the hunters.
The standing of this original series is helped by when older fans,like me, were horrified at the treatment of the ALIENS  and  Predator  universe by Hollywood. Causing most of us to openly wondered why the original Dark Horse comics were not followed.
We are still wondering and waiting.

Is AVP Military Science-Fiction?

One of my friends told me that AVP is not true MSF, at least, not without the addition of the Colonial Marines. I disagree. While the original 1990 limited series did not involve the Colonial Marines, it involve a military organization: the Yautja hunters. These alien hunters are the typical military structure that we have on Earth now, but it was similar to military-like organizations that the Europeans encountered in America and in parts of Africa.
It is likely that any real ETs we encounter out there in the black will be completely different than us, but like most lifeforms, they hunted for their food, making for a common basis for the Yautja hunters to be a reality. While it is not unique to develop alien characters who are based on Native American hunters/warriors (AVATAR anyone?), but I personally believe that the Predator films and comics help seed another generation with the idea.Another reason for AVP being MSF, is it generated quite a few ideas for my upcoming novel, Endangered Species .

28 June 2012

Frakking Cylon Bugs!

I was about to update FWS with a blogpost about the weapons used in space warfare, and it was good, but after hours of work...it is gone. Just gone. Reports are flying around the internet about something going on with blogger. I blame the Cylons.
Frakking Toasters.
Anyway, I am working on another post or the other will resurface. I ask for patience for you, my readers, while I try not to take my new SOG tomahawk to my laptop.
Frakking Cylons!

21 June 2012

FWS: On Vacation!

Future War Stories is official on vacation for a week, taking some time with the family to explore the real-world.
Don't worry, I make sure to drink one for you and you and you...
See you next week!
Stay Frosty and hydrated!

19 June 2012

FWS Armory: Commando Carbines

The origin of this blogpost began when I was playing paintball. I was outfitted in my typical Vietnam layout complete with tiger-strip and a Tippmann Alpha Black marker, when some kid, who looked like he was 12 said: "Nice Black-Ops outfit! Love the Colt Commando." I looked down at my Alpha Black and asked, "where do you hear that term?" "From the game, dude." And moved on with his private church party. That got me to thinking about very short assault carbines and the names associated with them. On the drive back home, I thought of little else, giving birth to this blogpost. Personally, I've always been obsessed with these types of even shorter carbines, and if I was in a Special Forces unit, I would carry a commando length carbine. In this blogpost, FWS will discuss what a 'commando carbine' is and how and who uses them in combat. 

Definition for an 'Commando' carbine
An commando length assault carbine is assault rifle that has been cutdown to a carbine length then is further cut down by fitting a shorter barrel on the carbine, normally reeducating an 14inch barrel down to 10 or 11inches. This commando carbine retains most of the design and functional elements of the assault rifle/carbine, including the caliber chambered, to allow specialized units to easily translation from carbine to commando easily. Typically, commandos are not normally assigned to general combat units, but specialized assault units, that engage in counter terrorism operations and/or close-quarters warfare. Other traditional users of the commandos are armored vehicle and helicopter crews, dog handlers, medics, and some officers. Other terms that are used to describe the Commandos is: Sub machine gun (I shit you not), shorty, ultra-short or even stubby, like saying 'the stubby or shorty M16', and compact carbines. 

History of the Assault Commando Carbines
The history of the commando length carbines has been short in the overall firearms history, and it was until intermediate rifle cartridge were developed that commandos came about. These 5.45mm and 5.56mm allowed the shooter to use a smaller framed weapon, without the issues of recoil and power tat more traditional rifle cartridges of .30-06 or 7.92x57 Mauser. From my research, the first commando assault carbine was the 10inch barreled carbine (sometimes called a submachine gun) of the original CAR-15 military weapons system family developed around 1965. For the most part, the newly named CAR-15 11.5inch barreled commando carbine was the only one of its kind, until 1979, when the USSR developed a ultra compact variant of their newly fielded AK-74 with the 5.45x39mm round, the AKS-74U. At the time, the stubby M16s and AK-74s were being used by special units, most of the global armed forces were using the submachine gun for close-quarters warfare. Unlike most global communities, the USA and USSR never really fielded a modern SMG, some units still used the WWII-era M3 Greaser gun, but this gap allowed for the stubby assault rifle to find a niche in their inventory.
It was not until the death of the SMGs coupled armed forces began to adopt family style weapon systems in the mid-1990's, the commandos like the G36C and the FAMAS G2 SMG came about to replace the H&K MP5 with higher powered rifle cartridges. 
Currently, commando length carbines are popular with specialized assaults units, like DELTA, and DEVGRU that pride themselves on CQC tactics. and are a part of great overall modular weapons platform like the M4A1, the H&K 416, G36, TAR-21, and the Colt CM901 allowing for flexible in the field. This picture here is of two NAVSPECWAR operators weapon setups in the Hardigg Storm cases best explains the current role of the commando length carbines: as modular elements to a base weapon. Modular-ability allows for an operator to switch out an upper that fits the tactical situation of the mission. This allows the operator not only the flexible of using the same carbine for different role, but he does not  lose his zero on the aiming devices, because they are fitted to a rail system. Given the trends in firearms, it is likely that a shorty barreled version of the base assault rifle will be an available option for operators.   

The Colt CAR-15: What is in a Name?
'Colt CAR-15' and 'Colt Commando' are loaded terms in the world of firearms, and are generalized blanket terms for the variety of shortened M16s throughout its nearly fifty year deployment with the United State military. Just mentioning of the name 'CAR-15' or 'Colt Commando' will send any firearms forum in a holy shit-fit, because these terms are used for ever short barrelled AR-15 carbine prior to the M4. Historical speaking, it might greatly surprise people that the Colt Firearms has had a 10-to-11.5 inch barreled carbine version of the AR15 since 1964. Originally, the AR15 was to be a entire family of weapons based on a common design and caliber, similar to the H&K G36 and XM8, and the FN SCAR. The original name for this family-style of Stoner 5.56mm weapons was CAR-15. However, the only one to survive to be fielded in Vietnam was the standard assault rifle and the short barreled version, which later would became known as the CAR-15.  
The original concept behind the shortened carbine within the CAR-15 family was indented by Colt to be a lightweight and compact carbine, taking the place of the WWII/Korean War Thompson M1 and M1 Carbines. The Prototypes that left Colt to the US Army and Air Force were the XM177E1, also known as Model 607/609/610/610 B. Model 607, 609 and 610 were designed to fire single shot then fully automatic, however, the Model 610B was single then tri-burst, similar to the 1980's M16A2. During the tests, these 10inch barrelled carbines had issues with carbon build due to the stick powder, leading to jamming foreshadowing widespread issues with M16. About 3,000 XM177E1s were ordered by the US Army in 1966.
To remedy issue of jamming and carbon build-up, Colt engineers fitted the XM177E1 with an 11.5inch barrel with a new muzzle moderator, and boring out the gas ports,  creating the XM177E2. According to sources, this the shortened M16 that earned the name 'Shorty-16', CAR-15, CAR-15 SMG, and Colt Commando, saw an initial order by the US Army of 510 units for the MACVSOG unit. Other sources (like wikipedia) state that these 11.5inch barrelled carbines were called the Model 629 and  649, the difference was that the Model 649 had a forward assist. Much like the name CAR-15 or Commando, these short-barrelled M16s in the Air Force were known generally as the GAU-5. These weapons were extremely popular with all manner of soldiers during the Vietnam conflict, both for the easy-of-use and the look, making them hard to come by.
Here is a few comments about the Vietnam-era CAR-15:
"The other major limitation of the rifle was one the LRRPs could not control. The CAR-15 was extremely popular with staff officers and other rear-echelon types who liked to look like the warriors they so avoided joining. As a result, the CAR-15s were always in short supply, and the ones that were available were passed along from replacement to replacement. Many LRRPs who served in the final years of the war recall carrying nearly worn-out weapons with barrels so used that much of their accuracy had been lost." (Lanning: Inside The LRRPS, Page: 124)
"The Model 07 CAR-15...was a very handy weapon with a good deal of firepower. We used the original Model 07 CARs in the Teams until they were literally falling apart... the Army had its own versions of the CAR-15 designed, the XM177E1 and E2. Though they had a few more bells and whistles than the SEALs thought necessary, such as a forward bolt assist to help close the breech on a dirty round, the Teams accepted as many XM177s as we could get. Those weapons were also used till long after the Vietnam War had ended, when they were finally replaced with a new version, the M4 Carbine." (Watson & Dockery: Walking Point: Pages: 143-144)
If what this source says is true, that means from the 1970's to the fielding of the Colt M4/M4A1 carbines in 1994, Vietnam-era Colt Model 607s were still be used...amazing. The story of the shortened M16 does not end in the jungles of Vietnam, in the 1970's, the Colt Model 653 with a 14.5inch barrel was used by the US, Israeli, and the Philippines (called Model 653P, which appeared in the 1987 film Platoon). The Model 653 carbines, known as Mekut'zar or Mekut'zrar, were shipped to the IDF during the Yom Kippur War under Operation: Nickel Grass, have been  used since the 1970's, and only now are being replaced by the Israeli made TAR-21. As for the commando length carbines, Colt made two 11.5inch barrel variants out of the M16A2 rifle, the Mode 733 and the flattop Model 933, while the Air Force used the GUU-5/P.
 According to rumor and speculation, GUU-5/Ps,Model 733s and possible Model 653s were used by Task Force Ranger members during the of October 3rd & 4th 1993. In two books that used primary sources for the battle of Mogadishu, USAF Para-Jumpers CCT Dan Schilling and Master Sergeant Timothy A. Wilkinson called their shorty M16s as 'GAU-5', which could mean that the Air Force used GAU-5 as generic term,  much like the Army used CAR-15. From the limited photographic evidence of the DEVGRU and DELTA operators at the time of the battle of Mogadishu, most point to the use of 14.5inch barrelled carbines, which means they were either M727 or M733 or even prototype M4 carbines.
This is all a soup sandwich in reality, and it takes an expert, operator, or a gun designer to identify the different between the vast array of shortened Colt carbines.The underline story of the Commando length M16s since 1964, is that they were never respected by either the wider military administration or Colt, the bulk of them being built out of spare parts, taken by REMFs with no business using the weapon. This all changed when the SOF community and the US military asked Colt, in 1994, to build a modern carbine and later, a Commando version. These became the M4 and the M4 CQBR (MARK 18 MOD 0) respectably.

Advantages of a Commando Assault Carbines
  • SMG sized Assault rifle, combining the power of an AR cartridge with the compactness of an SMG
  • Maneuverability
  • Lighter weight
  • Smaller stowing size for vehicle crews and Airborne units
  • The tacticool look...hey, that is important
Disadvantages of a Commando Assault Carbines
  • Greater fouling from heavy use due to the smaller gas ejection ports
  • Effective distance verse a standard 14inch carbine barrel
  • Flash blindness from the muzzle flash
  • Not suited for freeflowing tactical situations (Example: the1993 Battle of Mogadishu)
Why do Shorter Barrels Symbolize being an Badass?
When researching the history of the shorty M16's of Vietnam, it was interesting to read that Vietnam-era fobbits and officers stealing these short barreled carbines to make themselves to look cool, like the LRRPs of the day. When Oliver Stone filmed Platoon, he used this to set apart Barnes and Elias from the rest of the unit, by equip them with Colt Model 653P carbines, symbolizing their status without saying a word. But why do commando lenght carbines and/or short-barreled guns make one look more cool and more elite than the normal assault rifle? My theory is that this predates modern warfare, and hearkens back to original usage for carbines, for the Calvary units, like the Sharps rifle. Calvary units were seen by many back in the day, to be the more elite troopers with special skills, and carbines were mostly exclusive to their units, separating them from the regular infantry with their very long rifles. This may have been the case during World War II, when specialized military units used the Thompson M1 (like the British SAS and LRDP) and the MP40. The status of the Thompson M1 .45 SMG that it was used by Bonnie and Clyde, and the Chicago Mob. Besides the sub machine guns, the special assigned M1 carbine had a specialized variant, the M1A1 given to Airborne units. 
 This idea must somehow have entered into  the collective consciences of the American people, because by the 1980's action movies, it seems that all them were using pistols, sub machine guns, and short-barreled rifles instead the more classic (and useful) assault rifle, just looked at the heroes of Die Hard, Invasion USA, Mad Max and Snake from Escape from New York. In these works and historical examples, short barrels must translate to something of the skill-level of the individual wielding it, much like how the Heckler and Koch MP5 symbolized SWAT or Counter-terrorism in the 1980's and 90's. In the minds of most people, if you are not using a standard length gun, than you are more skilled than the average GI Joe, and belong to a group of badasses. This also may have something to do with that most shorty weapons are used for close-quarters warfare, and since the time of the Shaolin Monks, closer contact with your target means that you are able to handle yourself.  
This idea was used to separate the DELTA Operators in the film Blackhawk Down for the Rangers, and was even applied to the head of the militia, Mo'alim, who wield a AKS-74U, and in the film Heat where several of the bank robbers use 11.5inch barreled Colt Model 733 while the cops used the full sized rifles. 

My own Commando Assault Carbines
As many of you have read on this blog, I play military-style (MILSIM) paintball since 2003, and one of the great things about my sport-of-choice is that as long as my marker shoots .68 caliber balls, I can play with what I want. And for the last few years, my primary has been the solid Tippmann Alpha Black Tactical Edition, and prior to that, it was an USAPP Viper M1 military with the 10inch barrel.
I've never cared for the long barreled rifles, sniper rifles, or even the tradition speedball markers, and given the conditions on the PB fields, a  short, compact weapons, like the Alpha Black, is right tool for the most conditions.  The only thing I've done with it, is mount a sling, because the Alpha Black is one hell of a PB marker, and the fulfillment of a dream I had since seeing Blackhawk Down in 2001. 
A few years ago, I modified my original paintball marker and former rental gun, my Tippmann PRO/AM into a M4 CQBR with stunning results. However, after a tour of duty at Oklahoma D-DAY 2007 and killing many Nazis, I sold the heavy old girl off to rise some cash for my Tiberius Arms T8 pistol...beautiful marker though.

Real Steel examples of Assault Commando Carbines

The IMI Galil MAR (AKA Micro Galil)
Relatively late in the life of the Galil assault rifle, in 1994, a stubby barreled variant was created for use by special Police units and army units. While most of the Israeli Army uses the 14inch barrel Colt M16 carbine, the MAR was used by armored vehicle crews, base staff, some SOF units, and the airborne. Even today, the MAR Galil can still be seen in some units, but will be replaced by the TAR-21.

The M4 CQBR (AKA Mk.18 Mod 0)
Honestly, the M4A1 close quarters battle receiver is one hell of a sexy little weapon, and is one of my favorite weapons. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division developed a 10.3inch barrelled upper variant of the M4 carbine in 2000, and was called the CQBR or Mk 18 Mod 0. Up until 2006, the soul users of the CQBR was DEVGRU and DELTA operators for close-quarters combat and VIP protection duty, then became issued to naval and coast guard personnel for VBSS operations, along with EOD and Marine Force Recon units. It was during the September 2, 2002 attempted assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that most of the world got a glimpse at the M4A1 CQBR used by Karzai's DEVGRU close protection detail.
It was not long after this, that these M4A1 based commando length carbines were replaced by the H&K 416 with 10inch barrels for TIER-One units.

 The AKS-74U
When the Zombies come, I want one of these of these sexy Russian AKS-74U, the U means "Ukorochennyj" meaning or "shortened". Much like all cut-down stubby assault carbines, the original purpose of the Krinkov was to serve armored vehicle crews, airborne units, special forces, dog handlers. This 8.3inch barrelled variant of the 5.45x39mm AK-74 saw action in the Soviet/Afghan War with helicopter gunship based Spetsnaz units. This little AK gained worldwide fame with films and games, and infamy as Osama Bin Laden's personal gun for years. This, besides the CAR-15, is one of the best known commando carbines in the world, and is known by many names: the Krinkov, Ksyukha, and Okurok.

Land Warfare Resources Corporation developed their own short-stroke pistol driven AR15 carbine, and was designed to be a modular system with several variants. One of these variants is the Personal Security Detachment presumed to be designed for private security close protection details in Iraq and A-Stan,  fitted with an eight inch barrel and chambers both the 5.56mm and the 6.8mm rounds.

The H&K 416C
According to some (including me), the 10inch barreled variant of the H&K 416 5.56x45mm assault carbine was the tool of the DEVGRU Red Team Operators that sent UBL to hell. The commando length variant of the H&K 416 carbine was developed as an upper part that could be easily swapped about, similar to the M4 CQBR. Interestingly,  the initial order for the H&K 416 placed by DELTA Force for a few hundred units were equipped with ten inch barrel. 

The Olympic Arms K23B
Here kitty, kitty, kitty...
Weapons like the Olympic Arms K23B are a rare variant of the standard commando carbine, these are fitted with a 7.5inch barrel or even extremely short 6.5inch barrel. I have yet to run across any real-steel users of this very cool little gun. However, it was made into a popular Airsoft gun by DPMS Airsoft company who called their extremely short M4 the "kitty kat".

The H&K G36C
The family of G36 5.56mm assault rifles used by the Bundeswehr since 1994 has a shortened variant, the G36C(ompact)  fitted with a nine inch barrel. Due to the very short barrel and the users of the G36C, the upper receiver was modified, replacing the carrying handle for a Picatinny rail. The G36C has proven to be popular with the export market, for both police and special forces units. Most people's exposure to the H&K G36C has come through the vast amount of video games, like the Rainbow Six 3.

Enfield L22A1 and FAMAS G2 SMG and the X95 MTAR
Unlike the majority of real-steel weapons mentioned above, the following three examples are all cut-down bullpup assault carbines. Normally, one of the great advantages of the bullpup is that carbine-sized weapon can be fitted with an assault rifle barrel, but some military units cut down that even further to bullpup commandos that have 13 inches barrels, like the IMI X95 TAR-21 variant.
This is similar to the FAMAS G2 SMG (12inch barrel), the Chinese QBZ-95B (13inches), and the British L22A1/A2 (17.4inches), all were developed for armored vehicle crews, special forces units, and aircarft crews. From my research, the British L22A1 and A2 were especially assigned to Royal Armored units, and the famed SAS generally uses M4s and G36Cs. Most of these are rarely used, even the already compact nature of bullpup assault rifles 

Applications of Commando Carbines in Military Science Fiction
FWS is devoted to military science fiction, and supplying information to writers/creators of the genre. I would hope that these  firearms posts could be used to develop more realistic futuristic weapons, among them specialized weapons used by special forces. Commando length carbines could be used to illustrate the different between special forces and regular infantry, or to be used by special assaulters during VBSS and/or hostage rescue. In one of my other books (being edited at the moment), I used an custom constructed commando carbine to demonstrate the different between different groups of soldiers. One is later used by my main character as a war trophy and object of pride, but it does get her into trouble. 

Assault Commando Carbines in Sci-Fi
Commando length carbines are extremely rare in science fiction, and to my knowledge there is one honest commando length variant of a standard rifle. Most are often placed into science fiction visual works by happy accident or used as a base weapon for a futuristic prop gun. Here the reasons why a commando appears in sci-fi:
  • Real-steel gun is used as a base prop weapon
  • An honest commando variant of a base gun
  • Done for "tacticool' reasons
  • Happy accident
Examples of Commando Carbines in Sci-Fi 

The "Carter Custom" from Stargate SG-1
One the more interesting commando carbines comes from season seven of Stargate SG-1 and was used by Major Samantha Carter over a few episodes. The base gun appears to be a Olympic Arms K23B, equipped with a beta-c magazine, all manner of other goodies and mounting rails. This was one of those guns specially built by an prop master, and is often the case, it is just by luck that the base gun is an commando, not by design. This commando prop was crafted to counter the production cost of 5.7mm blanks.

The MA5K from HALO: The Ghosts of Onyx\
This is the only honest commando carbine, according to my definition above, because it is a short barreled variant of the MA5B, and is used for the classic roles of a commando.The MA5K appears only in the book Ghosts of Onyx and HALO: Legends DVD. From the HALO wiki page, it was issued to UNSC Marine Shocktroopers, SPARTAN-III units on specific missions, and armored vehicle crews. Generally, SPARTAN II/III soldiers do not use the K over the other UNSC assault rifles due to limited range and lower ballistic power. The 'K', presumed to stand for '"kurz' or German for short.

The BlasTech E-11  from the original Star Wars films
Much like the Colonial Marines M41A1 Pulse Rifle of ALIENS,  the BlasTech E-11 is not easily placed into a firearms category. Some Star Wars source material, like the West End Games technical manuals, called the E-11 blaster a pistol, others, a rifle, and others, a carbine. From the way that blaster is used, mostly by elite special force assaulters in close-quarters conditions, and given it does have a wire stock and the stubby barrel, I would christen the E-11 an commando-length DEW, but it was a happy accident by the prop-master. Much like other Star Wars weapons, the prop-master developed these blasters around real-steel weaponry, the E-11 blaster started life as a Sterling 9mm L2A3 SMG.

The DC-17m  IWS from Star Wars: Republic Commando and DC-15s from the Clone Wars era
The Delta Squad of the Republic was an elite special assault clone army unit, and used specialized gear. Their primary directed energy weapon was the DC-17m, and the base weapon was a short barreled, folding wire stock rifle.It seems that the creators were definitively linking the DC-15S to the E-11 of the Original TrilogyThe S variant of the DC-15 blaster rifle was used for close assault, vehicle crews, and oddly, as a secondary armament.
It is canon that the DC series of blasters, the 15S and 17m base commando carbine are the fathers of the later used E-11 blaster by the Imperial Stormtroopers, particularly, given its design and magazine placement. So, were the DC-17m and DC-15S developed to be commando carbines? I think the DC-17m is trying to be tacticool and similar to modern special forces usage of SMGs. But, the DC-15S, which is a short-barreled carbine descanted from a large, longer base directed-energy rifle, the DC-15A.

Tyr's Gun from Gene Rhoddenberry's Andromeda

One of the main characters, Tyr Anasazi, used a compact. bullpup, short-barreled Guass assault commando carbine during his run throughout the show, and was especially seen in the excellent season one finale:, it's hour come 'round at last. From visuals clues, this little carbine fires a blue DEW bolt, but according to the Andromeda wiki, it was a Gauss KEW.  

Various directed-energy weapons from Star Trek: DS9
The Klingons, the Bajorians, and the genetic lapdogs of the Dominion, the Jem'Hadar all use short barreled weapons, and seem to be designed for close-quarters VBSS operations, which would make sense from the combat seen in the series. However, the Klingon and Bajorian DEW base platform are the pistols, not full-sized assault rifles. Energy beam weapons of the Star Trek universe operate diffidently than conventional firearms, making barrel lengths, and how much of the barrel extends out of the weapons more about design than function.
Most of the weapons in the ST universe would be considered commandos simply based barrel length and limited stock, but none are variants of an longer base rifle, this particularly true of the hostile-alien-species-of-the-week reused and redressed prop-guns. This seems to be a case of a prop-master designing futuristic rayguns without consideration of real-world firearms design

Size Matters...when it comes to starships that is

Over at io9.com, wordpress blogger Invader Xen (his astronomy blog http://supernovacondensate.net/) created a size comparison of the Federation Enterprise and real-world space vehicles, and this is his imagine, and quite good work...visit his blog, also very good.
Size with starships is one of those things that is hard to judge for us sci-fi writers, often we, especially for RPGs, make these space warships massive. Many years ago, it was not uncome for me to design warships in the battlecruiser class being 800-1000 meters.