Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday December 11, 2013 The Indian Step Ahead
Here we see the neatly arranged Indian Navy carrier INS Vikrant (R11) at sea in the 1960s. She was one of 16 planned 1942 Design Light Fleet Carriers for the British Royal Navy. This class, broken up into Colossus and Majestic-class sub-variants, were pretty nifty 19,500-ton, 695-foot long carriers that the US Navy would have classified at the time as a CVL or ‘light carrier’. They were slower than the fast carriers at just 25-knots with all four 3-drum Admiralty boilers were lit and glowing red, but they had long legs (over 14,000 miles at cruising speed) which allowed them to cross the Atlantic escorting convoys, travel to the Pacific to retake lost colonies, or remain on station in the South Atlantic (Falklands anyone?) or Indian Ocean for weeks.
Capable of carrying up to 52 aircraft of the time, these carriers had enough punch to make it count. The thing is, only seven of these carriers were completed before the end of World War Two and even those came in during the last months and weeks. They effectively saw no service. With the 1945-Post WWII Royal Navy not having a need for 16 flash new oceangoing landing strips, they started laying them up and selling them off. Three went to Canada, three to Australia, one to france, one to Holland and others were mothballed. Two ships, HMS Hercules and HMS Leviathan sat on the builders ways, never completed.
Laid down in 1943, the ships were launched but when the war ended, construction was canceled. Then in 1957 the Indian government, newly independent and needing to police a huge coastline, bought the HMS Hercules for a song. She was towed from the original yard at Vickers-Armstrong to Holland-Wolfe in Ireland (the same yard that built the Titantic) and finished as the Indian Naval Ship Vikrant with pennant number R11. Vikrant was taken from Sanskrit “vikranta” meaning “stepping beyond”, and its a good choice as it was the first aircraft carrier operational that was not from one of the more established naval powers (i.e Britain, France, US, Japan).
Her sistership, the HMS Leviathan sat at Swan, Hunter & Wigham until 1968. She would have been finished like Vikrant and commissioned as R13 but the money to do so never materialised and she was scrapped.
Vikrant joined the Indian Navy officially on 4 March 1961, giving her a construction period that lasted 18 years. She was to serve for the next four decades and was seen as the Indian Navy’s USS Langley, serving as the test bed and training hive for the first generations of India’s naval aviators. It should be taken as a direct inspiration that after the Indian Navy commissioned Vikrant, the navies of Argentina and Brazil embarked on flat top programs (also with surplus British 1942 Design Light Fleet Carriers).
Flying obsolete British Hawker Sea Hawks, the Vikrant sailed into history during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Her Hawks scored nearly a dozen “kills”, mainly of Pakistan Navy gunboats and Merchant navy ships and cargo ships in East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) without losing an aircraft in the war. Aided by French-made Breguet Alize aircraft, the Sea Hawks of Vikrant emerged unscathed, achieving the highest kill ratio for any aircraft in the entire war.
According to a Indian historical website, “After the sinking of the Ghazi, the Vikrant then cordoned off and every port in the erstwhile East Pakistan — Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, and Khulna — was pounded by the Sea Hawks based on the Vikrant. Such was the impact of the air attack from Sea Hawks, that the Pakistani Naval commander in the then East Pakistan remarked, “Indian naval aircraft were hitting us day and night. We could not run.” On one occasion, with aircraft airborne and no wind conditions, the ship had to take a chance with her cracked boilers to land the returning flights. This was easily the carrier’s best of the finest hour. Such was the performance of the ship in the liberation of Bangladesh that it earned two Maha Vir Chakras and 12 Vir Chakras.”
She later flew the first Indian Sea Harriers and after 1989 gained a ski-jump for these VSTOL aircraft. Showing her age, she was decommed 31 January 1997. She has since served as a museum ship of sorts in Mumbai harbor. It was announced this week that
the old girl is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, most likely for scrap. Since a lot of ship-breaking is done in Bangladesh, her last voyage could be to the country she helped to free.
Vikrant, ave atque vale.
Displacement: 15,700 tons standard, 19,500 tons full load
Length: 192 m (630 ft) waterline, 213.3 metres (700 ft) extreme
Beam: 24.4 m (80 ft) waterline, 39 metres (128 ft) extreme
Draught: 7.3 m (24 ft)
Propulsion: 2 Parsons geared steam turbines 40,000 hp (30 MW), 4 Admiralty three-drum boilers
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h)
Range: 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 1,075 usual,
Armament: 16 × 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns (later reduced to 8)
Hawker Sea Hawk
Westland Sea King
Breguet Alizé Br.1050
If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)
They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.htm The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.
Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of
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The humble bolt-action rifle known across the planet as the Mosin-Nagant, lovingly called ‘nuggets’ by collectors, is possibly the most common rifle on the planet. Produced in figures of no less than 48 million by at least a dozen countries from 1891 through 1973 the Mosin-Nagant rifle was robust, accurate, and reliable. Besides, of course, being an affordable piece of history, it also has several bonus features and uses for which you may not be familiar with.
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com
Peter Lloyd has a great primer up on his site about Viet Cong Booby traps during the late great hate in Indochina. (originally from SSG Arnold Krause C 2/12th Infantry.)
“It comes as no surprise that the utilization of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) in the Middle East theatre of war, in Iraq and
Afghanistan, throws up similar problems faced by the foot soldier in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The only difference is that one fighting force was primarily using boots for transportation and the other is using vehicles. The end result is the same: injure or kill using an explosive device without directly engaging the enemy.’
Found this beautiful vintage nautical image online.
The thing is, I have no idea what ship its from. Stating the obvious, its a large (10,000-ton plus judging from the draft), four-screwed single rudder steamship under construction in a stepped dry dock around the 1900s. Other than that…got me.
Any thoughts guys?
Sure you know Hitler made thousands of V-1 “Vengence Weapons” during World War Two and Blitz’d London with them, but did you know that the US cloned them? Or that we also wanted to build thousands to use against Tojo’s Japan home islands? Well if you are ever in West Florida, check it out. They were the Loons.
These 5000-pound flying bombs were built by Republic Aircraft with help from Willys (the Jeep people) and Ford Motors. Designated the Republic-Ford JB-2, they were 27-feet long and used a PJ31 Ford Pulsejet engine (yes, you can always win a bar bet by saying, and proving, that Ford made a working pulsejet engine in the 1940s). Packing 2000-pounds of high explosive, these things could fly on their stubby 17-foot wings at over 425mph to a range of 150-ish miles. Controlled by radio, they could hit a target with about a 1000-foot aimpoint. With a ton of HE, that’s fairly close enough to work, especially if you sortie a bunch of these things at one time.
The US rushed these into production just 90 days after finding a more or less intact German V1 in 1944. This included reverse-engineering the German Argus As 014 pulse-jet engine that gave the bomb its curious ‘buzz’ as it flew. Before the war ended, the US had nearly 1400 of these built. It was envisioned that they would use these bombs flying from the decks of converted escort carriers, large submarines, and wings of PBY Privateers (navalised B-24 bombers). The thing is, the war ended before they could be used.
As it was, besides a few shot up in tests in the desert, the 1400 JB-2s were mostly expended over the Gulf of Mexico, flying from Eglin Field and Wagner Field (where the Doolittle Raiders trained). If you ever go to the State-owned beaches like Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, etc, know that most of the dunes there had rails on them to fire Loons out over the Gulf back when they were a part of Eglin. Occasionally wreckage from these old bombs are found and a few of thier sled tracks are still out there. The Armament Museum at Eglin has a complete one on display.
The great Navy Day Fleet Review held in the Hudson River off New York City, 27 October 1945.President Truman is down there on the battleship Missouri while the new brand-new, just commissioned that morning super-carrier, the 968-foot USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) is clearly visible. To the left you see the Empire State Building and the 1940s Gotham skyline. Quite a bookend to Pearl Harbor
Is the Santa’s Workshop that is Gaston Glock’s Austrian braintrust coming up with something new for all the good little boys and girls in 2014? Word on the street is that the company is planning a new series of subcompact single-stack pistols to give the competition heartburn.
Read the rest in my column at Glock Forum
Yes that’s right, added to the ranks of countries with carriers to include the US, China, France, the UK (well, they are building two new ones anyway), and India is that internationally respected naval powerhouse of Angola. It is now the only African country to have ever owned a flatop.
According to Portuguese daily ECD, the former Spanish naval jump carrier ‘Príncipe de Asturias’ will be acquired by Angola. Not for scrapping, or to be a hotel or casino, but to perform as an aircraft carrier and flagship of their navy. The 16,000-ton ship, commissioned in 1988, was just retired by Spain nine months ago. It’s argueably the lowest mileage surplus aircraft carrier on the market today.
The ship would presumably operate helicopters as their are no VTOL fixed wing aircraft currently on the market. This could prove a problem for the Angolan navy as that service has no helicopters. However, the country’s air force does operate about 70 aging Soviet Hip and Hind choppers as well as a smattering of French Alouettes, Dauphins and Gazelles.
With the sale (and an agreed refurbishment by Spanish shipyards) the African country will also (complementarity) receive three lightly armed offshore patrol boats and an amphibious assault ship that had been removed from the Spanish Naval list. These include the P-27 Ízaro (300-ton, launched 1980) P -61 Chilreu (1900-ton, launched 1991), F-32 Diana (1200-ton, 1979), and the L-42 Pizarro (8500-ton, formerly the 1972-era USS Harlan County LST-1196). The country is awash in new oil money and is looking to put up a naval ‘keep off the grass’ sign.
Angola’s navy, the Marinha de Guerra, currently has just 1000 officers and men and consists of a dozen near-shore Osa and Shershen type Soviet PT/FAC boats. A couple small minesweepers and landing craft serve as its blue-water force while about forty small boats handle brown water. As the Príncipe de Asturias requires a 600-person crew irregardless of any embarked air crews, coughing up some experienced (non-national?) sailors who can operate gas turbines and NATO communications suites is going to be Angola’s challenge.
How would you like to be the Logistics guy for this navy?
Is the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory that is Gaston Glock’s Austrian workshop coming up with something new for the naughty little boys and girls in 2014? Rumor on the interwebs is that the company plans to introduce a new competition oriented .45ACP longslide pistol for its racegun wanting polymer fans.
Read the rest in my column at Glock Forum
Men of Iron by Don Troiani : Doughboys assault German positions in the Bois de Mort Mare during the Battle of St. Mihiel.
Battle of St. Mihiel, the Bois de Frière, Sept. 12, 1918
The 3/358th Infantry, 90th Division, was designated the assault unit for the American attack on the morning of September 12. As they were moving forward toward their jump-off positions before dawn, the unit was caught by German counter-battery fire. Major Allen, battalion commander, was wounded and evacuated while unconscious to an aid station in the rear. Regaining his senses, Allen removed his medical tag and sought to rejoin his unit, which had already advanced through the Bois de Frière. Allen gathered a group of men separated from their units and led them forward. They discovered a group of Germans bypassed by the first wave of American troops emerging from their dugout. Allen led his men in desperate hand-to-hand combat with the Germans. After emptying his pistol and despite his wounds, Allen fought with his fists, losing several teeth and suffering another serious wound.
Allen and his men are shown engaging the Germans in the trench. On the morning of September 12, American troops wore raincoats to protect against the rain. Allen is using his .45-caliber pistol which was standard issue for American officers. American tactical doctrine required the assault battalions to advance as quickly as possible toward their first objective line. Follow-on battalions were given the task of mopping up German strongpoints bypassed by the leading troops. The American early morning artillery barrage drove many German units into the protection of their dugoutsand many were passed over by the first wave of American troops. During the St. Mihiel offensive several American support units engaged in desperate battles to clean out small groups of Germans scattered throughout the woods.
Allen would rise to command the American 1st Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily in World War II. Criticized for lax discipline, Allen was relieved of his command by General Dwight Eisenhower. Allen was then assigned to command the 104th Infantry Division and he led them through the Battle of the Bulge and Germany’s surrender in May 1945.