Archive | May 2014

Fleet week salutes!

uss cole fleet week

May 21, 2014 Fleet week: Participants at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, N.Y., render honors while the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) passes under the Verrazano Bridge during Parade of Ships. Fleet Week New York, now in its 26th year, is the city’s time-honored celebration of the sea service. The Week-long celebration is an opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding Tri-State area to meet Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsman, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of the maritime service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julio Rivera/Released)

Note to the gun junkies out there, is this a M102 105mm light howitzer? UPDATE: Gun in question is a 75mm Pack Howitzer and the crew is composed of members of the Veteran Corps of Artillery, State of New York (for more info click here). The unit was founded in November, 1790 and is the second oldest Historic Military Command in America.

Thanks Phil and VCASNY!

The saga of the seasick US Army Piper Cubs on the Navy’s smallest aircraft carriers.

During World War 2, like most red-blooded Americans, the Piper J-3 Cub was called to serve in the military. Classified as the L-4 by the Army but most commonly called “Grasshoppers,” more than 4900 were used to help spot and correct the fall of artillery shells over enemy lines and otherwise help coordinate troops. Well, it turned out that the Army needed these planes in some pretty inaccessible places, and that’s where the Navy came in.

The problem

During the first part of World War 2, the Allies were on the defense, falling back and able to use their local airfields to house and feed their planes of all types. Then in 1943, the tide soon turned as the Allied forces in the Pacific, starting at Guadalcanal, as well as in the European theater, with the invasion of Sicily, started taking the war to the Germans, Japanese, and Italians. It was in these invasions, however, that the Army soon realized that their fleet of small, fixed wing L-4 Pipers and L-5 Stinsons were out of service until airfields could be captured or built in these new areas. This put the generals on the ground blind and reliant on long-range reconnaissance aircraft and Navy planes to provide their eyes.

However, there soon became a fix for this in place.

armylstcarrier

The solution

In late 1943, an Army Transportation Corps Captain by the name of James H Brodie http://www.aerofiles.com/brodie-rig.html was busy with a solution. Stationed in New Orleans and detailed to work supervising the loading of cargo ships with war materials, he sketched out a design for a boom and line system with a release that could hold a small aircraft fitted with a corresponding hook along the top of the wing roots. With the boom, a small plane (Cub!) could be lifted into the air, then the engine worked up, and, when rpms were high enough to be reasonably sure of lift, released to fly away. To land, the system worked in reverse, capturing a passing hook-equipped Grasshopper by wire and allowing it to spin down.

Of course, we all know that the Cub is a tail-dragger and to make that three point landing pilots pull the stick into their belly. However, doing this on the hook just north of that 38-ish knot stall speed took some getting used too.

brodie systemThe Brodie System was invented during World War II. A pilot could take off or land with the aircraft hooked to a trolley that ran along a cable. On landing, the trolley provided braking for a smooth stop. The cable and trolley could be rigged on very short jungle fields, or even on ships. This picture shows how a light aircraft could take off or land on a ship using the cable. Image Credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution NASM-9A001183

 

brodie 2

In this picture, a Piper L-4, engine running, is ready for take-off while suspended from its cable. Image Credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution Image Number: SI83-16835

This meant that by using Brodie’s system, a Cub or Stinson could be launched and recovered in a very small area, without a landing strip, allowing it to operate from a clearing, a small field, or even the deck of a medium-sized ship.

Use

The Navy had by early 1944, several hundred ships they classified as “Landing Ship, Tank.” These purpose-built vessels were built to carry several hundred tons of cargo, as well as vehicles and up to 160 or so soldiers or marines into combat, landing them on the beach where giant doors would open up and spit them out on to the sand. The Navy built so many of these ships, so fast, that they didn’t even bother to name them although they were some 328-feet long and crewed by a 7 officers and 104 sailors. As such, they just had numbers, such as USS LST-16, etc.

Big blue had enough of these LSTs around that they agreed to allow the Army to use a few of them in 1944 as tiny aircraft carriers. While L4s and L5s had flown off big deck Navy carriers earlier in the war, the Navy really didn’t like Army planes on their flattops, so the arrangement worked out nicely.

The idea would be that 6-10 small Cubs or Stinsons would be loaded on an LST, modified with a 220′ x 16′ flight deck. From the top of this tiny ersatz carrier, they would take to the sky over an invasion beach, scout out enemy locations, and call artillery strikes in on said bad guys. Once the GIs moved inland and acquired access to more real estate, especially airfields, the grasshoppers could leave their LST behind and relocate to drier accommodations.

One ship, LST-906 was ready for the invasion of southern France in September 1944, Operation Dragoon and she launched her Grasshoppers in the air with her nose pointed into the wind and a full 10-knots built up on her twin diesels.

1016090601

“Here is the photo of LST-906 with Capt. Alfred “Dutch” Schultz as pilot of ‘Janey’ the L4B Piper Cub artillery spotting plane. This information comes from Dutch Schultz’s book “Janey: A Little Plane in a Big War”. Dutch was the Pilot of the plane that my Dad flew in and took pictures for the 3rd Division. I met him last year and he remembered my Dad from more than 55 years ago. The Seabees converted the LST-906 into a homemade aircraft carrier, which was used in the Invasion of Southern France at St. Tropez.” Image credit: Rich Heller, Webmaster The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army

us army signal corps iage

USS LST-906, with US Army Air Force L-4 Grasshopper on her flight deck being prepared for take-off. Note additional L-4 type aircraft stowed alongside the deck. How would you like to take off on that flight deck? Talk about get it right the first time. Image credit: US Army Signal Corps photo.

LST-906 with L4s aboard

1016001601

USS LST-16 underway in the Mediterranean area. Note the USAAF L-4 Grasshopper on the 220ft x 16ft flight deck ready for take-off. US Navy photo from “Aircraft Carriers” by Norman Polmar.

Although some 25 “L-Bird carriers” were to be created from the teaming of Navy LST’s and Army L-4s and L-5s, just eight ships received the conversion. This included USS LST-16, USS LST-337, USS LST-386, USS LST-525, LST-776, and USS LST-906. Not all of these did so and not all of these used the Brodie system.

One early ship, USS LST-386, had only a small 210×10 deck with a 1-foot step board around it and no Brodie system, and was the first of the “L-Bird carriers” to see operational service.

brodie-rig

On some ships, the Grasshoppers would take off once and land ashore at a location that had been captured and designated. While this was not ideal, it did get the small planes ashore and ready to operate rather than land them in boxes and reassemble them on the ground. As the L-4s only had a useful combat radius of about 75-nm, this was done pretty soon.

They proved themselves off Italy, France, the Philippines and later, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

Moreover, we thank them for their sea-going service as the Army’s unsung fleet of carrier-based airplanes.

Originally published at the J-3 Cub Club.

Glock knives The blade that launched an empire

You may know the wily engineer by the name of Gaston Glock best for his series of polymer-framed handguns, but did you know the he paved the way for these guns with a weapon that is a bit more basic?

We give you, the Glock knife.

glock_survival_knife__

And yes, it was originally designed as a bayonet…

glock bayonet
Read the rest in my column at Glock Forum.com

Outbreak: Visions of the Apocalypse is 99cents– limited time only

FYI, “Outbreak: Visions of the Apocalypse” (which features an excerpt from Last Stand on Zombie Island) is on a 99 cent Kindle Countdown right now lasting for about the next 24hrs, going up to $1.99 after that.

outbreak

All profits go to charity gang and it includes a lot of good zombie stuff (besides my shit) Click HERE to support a good cause.

OSS “Bigot” Dart firing 1911

My homie Ian over at Forgotten Weapons got his hand on a modified standard 1911 pistol from the WWII era that uses a rather harsh looking dart via a blank round which fires a piston into the dart’s base. Was designed by the special weapons, gags and gimmicks guys for use ‘somewhere in occupied Europe’.

Check the video out

 

The Good old Hotchkiss Nambu

Special Naval Landing Force with japanese type 3 hotchkiss machinegun

 

A group of Japanese Naval Special Landing Force gunners clustered around a The Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun, also known as the Taisho 14 Machine Gun. This clunky 121-pound beast was a Kijiro Nambu redesign of the French 1914 Hotchkiss machine gun. It was fed by 30-round strips loaded from the left hand side and spat out  6.5x50mm Arisaka at a very methodical 400-rounds per minute. It proved brutal in ambush positions across the Pacific Theater of Operations in WWII but, due to its size, often didn’t make it very far from those bunkers. Then again, few Naval Special Landing Force members were likewise taken alive.

Warship Wednesday May 28, The Great Italian Count

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off 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. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday May 28, The Great Italian Count

Italian battleship Conte di Cavour on maneuvers, 1938 with sistership behind

Here we see the pride of the 20th Century Royal Italian Navy (the Regia Marina), His Majesty’s battleship Conte di Cavour. Named after the first Prime Minister of a unified modern Italy, Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso, Count of Cavour, of Isolabella and of Leri, who was also the first Italian Minister of the Navy, the ship was to be the Regia Marina’s notice to all that the country was a legitimate naval power.

 

The good Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso, Count of Cavour.

The good Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso, Count of Cavour.

 

Laid down 10 August 1910 at the La Spezia Arsenale, she was the lead ship of a class of new dreadnought-style ships for Italy. With a 25,000-ton displacement, 577-foot length, and 21-knot speed, she was comparable in size to battleships of the day. Equipped with good British Parsons steam turbines, and 20 boilers, she was reliable underway. Her armament of a baker’s dozen 12-inch guns, was designed with the help of Armstrong Whitworth and Vickers.

007b

These were arranged in an odd five turret plan of three triple-gun turrets and two twin-gun turrets, was formidable while her 5-11 inches of locally made Terni cemented armor (crafted from U.S. steel and nickel) was sufficient for all but close combat from the most modern battleships.

3621C_RN_Conte_di_Cavour_1911_foto_Falzone_Collez- Ernesto-Burzagli-1930

At the time she was constructed, Italy’s biggest rival in the Med was France, who had just built a series of Courbet-class battleships of some 25,000 tons with up to 11-inches of armor, a 21-knot speed (also powered by British Parsons steam turbines), and 12x12-inch guns– which could be why the Italians insisted on having 13!

WNIT_126-44_m1934_Conte_di_Cavour_pic

Delayed by the Italo-Turkish war, she took nearly a half decade to complete, being commissioned 1 April 1915, just in time for Italy’s entrance into World War One– as an ally of France. Nevertheless, she spent that war as the flagship of the Navy, calmly waiting for the Austrian fleet to sortie out into the Adriatic, which never happened. Two sisters, Leonardo da Vinci and Giulio Cesare would soon follow her down the ways although da Vinci suffered a catastrophic accidental magazine explosion in 1916 that destroyed her.

When the war ended, Cavour was something of a happy ambassador, embarking King Emmanuel III and his family on occasion and conducting extended sorties to the United States . She did however fire her guns in anger during the 1923 Corfu Incident, in which her tertiary battery bombarded the island during an Italian occupation. You see good old Mussolini was in power by then, and looking for trouble.

Laid up from 1927 until 1937 at Trieste (recently seized from the scraps of the Austrian empire), Cavour was extensively rebuilt under the orders of Generale del Genio navale Francesco Rotundi.

Italian battleship Conte di Cavour on maneuvers, 1938

When she emerged from this decade of slumber, she had a thoroughly new look, as well as a new power-plant of eight superheated Yarrow oil-fired boilers (fueled by Libyan oil wells Italy had wrested away from the Ottomans in 1911). This made the old ship new aging, extending her range by a factor of 50 percent while increasing her speed to over 27-knots at a full clip. To accommodate the weight of more armor, the center triple 12-inch turret was removed, bringing her broadside down to 10 guns rather than 13. She was recommissioned 1 June 1937.

Soon, Mussolini had her clocking in to pay for all the recent improvements by covering the Italian invasion of hapless Albania in 1938. That same year, the Cavour served as the reviewing stand for both the chubby Benito and his stubby homie Adolf in a grand review of the Regina Marina at Naples.

 

Conte di Cavour, with the Duce and Hitler on the stern in Naples watching the torpediniera Cassiopea pass close in review.

Conte di Cavour, with the Duce and Hitler on the stern in Naples watching the torpediniera Cassiopea pass close in review.

When Italy entered WWII on the side of Hitler in 1940, both Cavour and her similarly rebuilt sister Cesare were soon mixing it up with the British Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet with the two trading long-range shots with HMS Malaya and HMS Warsprite at the Battle of Punto Stilo.

This uneventful combat was to be her greatest moment, as the Brits soon decided to make sure the Italian surface fleet was marginalized.

Then late on the night of 11 November 1940, a group of just 21 British Swordfish torpedo bombers penetrated the Italian anchorage at Taranto and sank Cavour along with three other battleships with well-placed torpedoes. Note that this was a full year before Pearl Harbor.

taranto_raid_map

 

'Taranto Harbour, Swordfish from Illustrious Cripple the Italian Fleet, 11 November 1940′ by Charles David Cobb. Painting in collection of National Museum

Taranto Harbour, Swordfish from Illustrious Cripple the Italian Fleet, 11 November 1940′ by Charles David Cobb. Painting in collection of National Museum

 

 

40-11-2

She spent the rest of the war in a state of salvage and repair but was never returned to service. During this time first the Germans then the Americans captured the derelict ship which was finally scrapped in 1946.
Specs:

 

Note the center turret

Note the center turret

(As built)
Displacement: 23,088 long tons (23,458 t) (standard)
25,086 long tons (25,489 t) (deep load)
Length: 176 m (577 ft 5 in) (o/a)
Beam: 28 m (91 ft 10 in)
Draught: 9.3 m (30 ft 6 in)
Installed power: 30,700–32,800 shp (22,900–24,500 kW)
20 × Water-tube boilers
Propulsion: 4 × Shafts
4 × Steam turbines
Speed: 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph)
Range: 4,800 nmi (8,900 km; 5,500 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 31 officers and 969 enlisted men
Armament:

3 × triple, 2 × twin 305 mm (12 in) guns
18 × single 120 mm (4.7 in) guns
14 × single 76.2 mm (3 in) guns
3 × 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes

Armor:

Waterline belt: 250–130 mm (9.8–5.1 in)
Deck: 24–40 mm (0.9–1.6 in)
Gun turrets: 280–240 mm (11.0–9.4 in)
Barbettes: 230–130 mm (9.1–5.1 in)
Conning towers: 280–180 mm (11.0–7.1 in)

 

....and no center turret

….and no center turret

(after reconstruction)
Displacement: 29,100 long tons (29,600 t) (deep load)
Length: 186.4 m (611 ft 7 in)
Beam: 33.1 m (108 ft 7 in)
Installed power: 75,000 shp (56,000 kW)
8 × Yarrow boilers
Propulsion: 2 × Shafts
2 × Geared steam turbines
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph)
Range: 6,400 nmi (11,900 km; 7,400 mi) at 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Complement: 1,260
Armament:

2 × triple, 2 × twin 320 mm (12.6 in)
6 × twin 120 mm (4.7 in)
4 × twin 100 mm (3.9 in) AA guns

Armor: Deck: 166–135 mm (6.5–5.3 in)
Barbettes: 280–130 mm (11.0–5.1 in)
Aircraft: 1-2 Macchi M.18 seaplanes

 

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/

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 which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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