Warship Wednesday October 19, 2016: Der Zerstörer von Uncle Sam

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 October 19, 2016: Der Zerstörer von Uncle Sam

Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall Catalog #: NH 75375

Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall Catalog #: NH 75375

Here we see the Type1936A (Mod)-class destroyer USS Z-39 (DD-939), formerly KMS Z-39 of the German Kriegsmarine, underway off Boston, Massachusetts, 22 August 1945, just 106 days after the end of the war in Europe.

As part of the general naval buildup of the Third Reich, the Germans needed destroyers (Zerstörers) and needed them bad since the Allies left them with zero (0) after 1919. This led to a rush build of some 22 ships of the Type 1934/1934A and 1936 classes commissioned by 24 September 1939.

The thing is, almost all of these were destroyed in the first few months of the war, with 10 of these new ships slaughtered by the British at Narvik alone.

German Type 1934A-class Zerstörer Bernd von Arnim (Z11) after Narvik. The German tin cans had a very bad day.

German Type 1934A-class Zerstörer Bernd von Arnim (Z11) after Narvik. The German tin cans had a very bad day.

Never fear though, as the Germans already had a new and improved 15-ship class of vessels, the Type 1936As, on the drawing board, which would be almost 1,000-tons heavier than the Type 1934s (3,700-tons vs. 2,800-tons) and carry larger 150 mm (5.9 inch) guns rather than the legacy 127mm mounts of the preceding design.

With the earlier destroyers carrying names, the Kriegsmarine reverted to the traditional Teutonic practice of giving them numbers only and class leader Z23 was laid down at DeSchiMAG Bremen, 15 November 1938. Eight were laid down pre-Narvik and then after the battle improvements to the design were worked into new construction with Z31 onward being referred to as the 1936A (Mob) variant.

The hero of our story, the plucky Z39, was just such a 1936A (Mob) ship. Capable of a blistering 37.5-knots on her geared turbines, she could float in 15 feet of water. With lessons learned in Norway, they were the most heavily armed German-built destroyers of the war that made it to fleet service, carrying five rapid-fire 5.9-inch guns and 32 20mm/37mm AAA barrels– most with a very high elevation. For close in work, they had eight torpedo tubes and could leave behind 60 mines or a brace of depth charges in their wake.

Z39 was laid down by Germaniawerft Kiel, 1940 and commissioned 21 August 1943, as Germany was quickly losing the war after Stalingrad, El-Alamein, Kursk and Sicily. And to further complicate things, all of the destroyers of her class had turbines that were cranky and their large guns often too wet to be of use (in the end several, including Z39, only had four guns left, losing their forward most single mount.)

But hey….

KMS Z 39 (later USS DD-939) fitting out at GermaniaWerft, Kiel in August 1943. Note the bomb damage inflicted to the covered ways in the background. Photo Archiv Groner. Photo from

KMS Z 39 (later USS DD-939) fitting out at GermaniaWerft, Kiel in August 1943. Note the bomb damage inflicted to the covered ways in the background. Photo Archiv Groner. Photo from “Destroyers! German Destroyers in World War II”, by M.J. Whitley. via Navsource.

KMS Z-39 as seen from another German destroyer underway probably in the eastern Baltic Sea area circa 1944-45. Photo courtesy David Walker via Robert Hurst via Navsource.

KMS Z-39 as seen from another German destroyer underway probably in the eastern Baltic Sea area circa 1944-45. Photo courtesy David Walker via Robert Hurst via Navsource.

Her skipper, KK Loerke, was the only German one she would know and she spent her war in the Baltic.

As noted by German-Navy.de:

Z39 operated at Jutland for a short time until it was send to the Baltic Sea at the beginning of 1944. On 23.06.1944 it was damaged by Soviet bombers and send to Kiel for repairs where it got another bomb hit. It took until 16.02.1945 until the ship went operational again and it was not used very much after that anymore. Decommissioned on 10.05.1945.

Meh, unexciting, but she did survive the war and was still afloat at the end of it and able to make steam– a feat very few German warships pulled off.

After the war, she was captured by the British, who made it to Kiel first, with a LCDR Forsberg (RN) placed in command of her on 6 July 1945.

Just 11 days later, the Brits handed Z39 over to the Americans along with her sisters Z34, and Z29. After evaluating the trio, the USN found Z39 to be the best of the lot and, selecting a few souvenirs from Z34 and Z29, sank them off the Jutland coast.

As for Z39, she sailed for the Boston Navy Yard, arriving there in August under the helm of CDR. R. A. Dawes, Jr., USN. There, she proved a splash just over two months after VE Day and with VJ Day right around the corner.

She was extensively documented, after all, it was the first chance to get that close to a functional German destroyer stateside since 1941 without taking cover.

(Ex-German Z-39) View of the after 150mm guns, one of which is broken. Note these mountings are low-angle only. Taken at Boston Navy Yard, August 11, 1945. Courtesy of Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75408

(Ex-German Z-39) View of the after 150mm guns, one of which is broken. Note these mountings are low-angle only when compared to the forward twin turret. The extensive life rafts at the ready was likely a good idea. Taken at Boston Navy Yard, August 11, 1945. Courtesy of Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75408

(Ex-German Z-39) View of after 37mm Bofors-type A.A. gun platform, near the afterstack. Note these 37mm guns are of two different types. Taken at Boston Navy Yard, August 11, 1945. Courtesy of Robert F. Sumrall Catalog #: NH 75405

(Ex-German Z-39) View of after 37mm Bofors-type A.A. gun platform, near the afterstack. Note these 37mm guns are of two different types. Also note torpedo tubes to the left and shirtless bluejackets, it is late summer afterall. Taken at Boston Navy Yard, August 11, 1945. Courtesy of Robert F. Sumrall Catalog #: NH 75405

Ex-German Z-39, close up view of the forward 150 mm gun mounting, taken at Boston Navy Yard, 11 August 1945. Note life rafts. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75383

Ex-German Z-39, close up view of the forward twin 150 mm gun mounting, the other three 150mm mounts on her were singles. Taken at Boston Navy Yard, 11 August 1945. Note life rafts. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75383

Ex-German Z-39 in dry-dock at Boston Navy Yard on 11 August 1945. Note 150 mm twin gun mounting. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75382

Ex-German Z-39 in dry-dock at Boston Navy Yard on 11 August 1945. Note 150 mm twin gun mounting. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75382

Ex-German Z-39 at Boston Navy Yard, 20 August 1945. Note high elevation of 150 mm twin guns. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75376

Ex-German Z-39 at Boston Navy Yard, 20 August 1945. Note high elevation of 150 mm twin guns. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75376

She got underway several times in the next few weeks for performance inspection trials.

Formerly German destroyer Z-39, underway off Boston, Massachusetts, on 22 August 1945. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall.Catalog #: NH 75373

Formerly German destroyer Z-39, underway off Boston, Massachusetts, on 22 August 1945. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall.Catalog #: NH 75373

With a bone in her mouth! USS Z-39 (DD-939) underway off Boston, Massachusetts, on 22 August 1945. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75374

With a bone in her mouth! USS Z-39 (DD-939) underway off Boston, Massachusetts, on 22 August 1945. Courtesy of Mr. Robert F. Sumrall. Catalog #: NH 75374

USS Z-39 (DD-939) Off Boston, Massachusetts, 7 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90377

USS Z-39 (DD-939) Off Boston, Massachusetts, 7 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90377

USS Z-39 (DD-939) Off Boston, Massachusetts, 7 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90379

Stern shot, USS Z-39 (DD-939) Off Boston, Massachusetts, 7 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90379

Aerial, aft of USS Z-39 (DD-939), note the mine rails over her stern. Off Boston, Massachusetts, 12 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90598

Aerial, aft of USS Z-39 (DD-939), note the mine rails over her stern and the very distinctive bluejackets in dungs and Dixie caps. Off Boston, Massachusetts, 12 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90598

USS Z-39 (DD-939)

USS Z-39 (DD-939) “North Channel, Mass.” 12 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90594

USS Z-39 (DD-939)

The thin-waisted USS Z-39 (DD-939) “North Channel, Mass.” 12 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90599

Head on bow. USS Z-39 (DD-939)

Head on bow. USS Z-39 (DD-939) “North Channel, Mass.” 12 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90597

Good overhead shot,

Good overhead shot, note the patchy paint work (bomb damage repair?) “North Channel, Mass.” 12 September 1945. Catalog #: 19-N-90595

Off Boston, Massachusetts, 12 September 1945. Note: German radars, 20mm quad A.A. gun, 37mm twin anti-aircraft gun, and mine tracks. Catalog #: 19-N-90596

Off Boston, Massachusetts, 12 September 1945. Note: German radars, 20mm quad A.A. gun, 37mm twin anti-aircraft gun, and mine tracks. Catalog #: 19-N-90596

At Annapolis, Maryland, October 1945, with an unidentified U.S. Navy Destroyer alongside and USS YP-244 in the foreground. Courtesy of The Mariners Museum, Newport News, Va. Ted Stone collection. Catalog #: NH 66352

At peace! At Annapolis, Maryland, October 1945, with an unidentified U.S. Navy Destroyer alongside and USS YP-244 in the foreground. Note the casual sailing craft in the distance. Courtesy of The Mariners Museum, Newport News, Va. Ted Stone collection. Catalog #: NH 66352

With the U.S. Navy done with their German tin can (and hundreds of their own domestic models already in mothballs) Washington decided to give Z29 away as continued military support to ally France– who had several of her sisterships and could use the destroyer for spare parts if nothing else.

As such, she was stricken from the Naval List 10 November 1947 after slightly over two years of service and transferred to France as FNS Leopard (Q-128) in 1948.

She did not see much time at sea and eventually was utilized as a tender and floating pier. She was ultimately scrapped in L’Orient, February 1964, the last of her class afloat.

The Navy, however, did not forget Z39 (DD-939) when it came to issuing hull numbers in the 1950s. They made sure to skip her between USS Jonas Ingram (DD-938) and USS Manley (DD-940) when they christened the Forrest Sherman-class destroyers after Korea.

What became of the rest of her sisters? As we already mentioned two other war survivors that were given to Uncle Sam were quickly deep sixed. Five others were war losses. Those that were left were split between France, Norway, the Soviet Union, and the Brits and had largely disappeared before 1960.

Among the longest living was ex-Z38, which became HMS Nonsuch (R40) in typically dry British humor. She was scrapped after she broke apart in testing. Did we mention these craft were in poor condition?

1949, British Destroyer HMS Nonsuch, EX German Z 38

1949, British Destroyer HMS Nonsuch, EX German Z 38

Anyway, there is always the extensive collection of images in the U.S. Navy archives to remember Z39– which has helped scale model designers over the years keep the design in steady production (and provided a income for maritime artists for box cover images):

This is from a Revel/Matchbox cover

This is from a Revel/Matchbox cover

1040-poster 31908 05791 05106
Specs:

245y59t

Displacement:
2,600 tonnes (standard)
3,605 (max)
Length: 127 m (416 ft. 8 in)
Beam: 12 m (39 ft. 4 in)
Draught: 4.65 m (15 ft. 3 in)
Propulsion: 2 × Wagner geared turbines, 70,000 shp, 2 shafts, 6 boilers
Speed: 37.5 knots (69 km/h)
Endurance:
2,240 nautical miles (4,150 kilometers) at 19 knots (35 km/h)
Complement: 330 officers and men, less than 200 in USN
Armament: (Final)
4 15 cm guns (1×2 & 2×1)
14 37 mm guns
18 20 mm guns
8 533 mm torpedo tubes
60 mines
4 depth charge launchers

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/membership.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 which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Stuff From Hsoi

Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.

Louisville Gun

Thoughts and Musings on Gun Control & Crime

Ted Campbell's Point of View

An old soldier's blog, mostly about Conservative politics and our national defence and whatever else might interest me on any given day

CIVILIAN GUNFIGHTER

Identifying the Best Training, Tools, and Tactics for the Armed Civilian!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Under Every Leaf.

A Site for the British Empire 1860-1913

JULESWINGS

Military wings and things

Western Rifle Shooters Association

"It's not about surviving the storm. It's about learning how to dance in the rain." - Some Hippie Bumpersticker

Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică

The Mechanix of Auto, Aviation, Military...pert near anything I feel relates to mechanical things, places, events or whatever I happen to like. Even non-mechanical artsy-fartsy stuff.

Eatgrueldog

Where misinformation stops and you are force fed the truth III

The LBM Blogger

Make Big Noise

Not Clauswitz

The semi-sprawling adventures of a culturally hegemonic former flat-lander and anti-idiotarian individualist who fled the toxic Smug emitted by self-satisfied lotus-eating low-land Tesla-driving floppy-hat-wearing lizadroid-Leftbat Coastal Elite Califorganic eco-tofuistas ~ with guns, off-road moto, boulevardier-moto, moto-guns, snorkeling, snorkel-guns, and home-improvement stuff.

The Angry Staff Officer

Peddling history, alcohol, defense, and sometimes all three at once

To the Sound of the Guns

Civil War Artillery, Battlefields and Historical Markers

Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

Ethos Live

Naval Special Warfare Command

%d bloggers like this: