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Then I Guess I’ll see You In Hell

With the temperatures hovering around 100 already and another three months of summer to go, I needed a bit of chill in my life.

Maybe not as much as this poor guy, though, busy putting the “cold” back in the Cold War.

A U.S. Army soldier stands guard in the snow armed with an M16A1 rifle at an undisclosed location, 17 September 1985. NARA DA-ST-85-12838

If you ask me, the Joe is certainly rocking a similar vibe to one certain scruffy nerf herder of the same era

The F-4 Phantoms of the Colonial Navy

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm FG.1 Phantoms of No. 892 Naval Air Squadron back on board the carrier HMS Ark Royal (R09) after a visit to a US Naval Air Station (NAVSTA) Oceana where they worked up with USS Saratoga. The Royal Navy roundels had been “zapped” and replaced with interwar American Navy “meatball” insignia, and on XV590 001/R, the “Royal Navy” flash had been replaced with one for the “Colonial Navy.”

Photo by Lt. Colin Morgan, RN via IWM Catalog No. HU 73946

Originally founded in 1942 to operate Grumman F4F Wildcats (Martlets) from escort carriers, 892 NAS in the 1970s was the only operational RN Phantom squadron, and the force’s only fixed-wing carrier-capable squadron at the time– hence the Omega tail code–and flew from Ark Royal until the mighty British flattop was decommissioned in 1978.

892 NAS was disbanded on 15 December 1978 and its Phantom FG.1s were transferred to the RAF who continued to fly the type, sans tailhooks, until 1992.

In Soviet Russia, the Breakfast Club had Kalashnikovs

For generations in the CCCP, there was NVP= Nachal’naya Voyennaya Podgotovka: Initial Military Preparedness lessons for Soviet teenagers.

Typically starting in 9th grade, twice a week a retired soldier (vojenrúk) would hold class on everything from proper military drill and courtesy to chemical/biological warfare.

This would include sessions on basic nomenclature and manipulation of small arms, firing pellet guns in the basement, taking trips to local Army ranges for a little AK live fire, basic small unit tactics, first aid training, and grenade throwing.

While you would wonder why these 1960s/70s era kids are learning about DP28s and PPSh-41s in class alongside AKMs, keep in mind that the Soviets had (and the Russians still have) warehouses full of that old stuff, just in case

Sergei in the back just can’t get with the program. Don’t be like Sergei

NVP class with Izhevsk МР-512 Мурка pellet rifles, 1969. Odds are these girls had mothers, aunts, or grandmothers that may have picked up a rifle as a partisan in WWII, especially in places like Belorussia. 

The Ushanka Show has a great installment below on what it was like to go through such a class.

The practice lasted from the 1930s through the end of the Cold War when it was largely abandoned as compulsory in Russia and most of the former Soviet Republics with the exception of the Central Asian “stans.”

A lil basic bayonet training with wooden fencing rifles in the 1930s– just behind the village schoolhouse

However, it has become popular as an elective class, and, in 2014, Ukraine once again made it mandatory for their high schoolers.

Further, so-called Yunarmia elective classes and groups are surging in popularity, and largely replace the old NVP program, only on a smaller scale. With a degree of sponsorship from the Ministry of Defense, Moscow aims to have 1 million kids enrolled annually in the program in the coming years, with the bottom age limit starting around age 6.

Camo Truder

A U.S. Navy Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo 159899) from attack squadron VA-165 “Boomers” aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) on 15 February 1990. Note the non-standard camouflage paint.

DOD Photo DN-SC-04-13039 by PH3 Dewitt, USN

In the background is a Lockheed S-3A Viking (BuNo 160578) from anti-submarine squadron VS-33 “Screwbirds”. Both squadrons were assigned to Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW-9) for a voyage aboard Constellation from San Diego, California, to Norfolk, Virginia, around Cape Horn from February to April 1990.

Interestingly enough, there is a more standard full-color image of the same Intruder in Navy service from 1981 when she was with the “Green Lizards” of VA-95.

Two U.S. Navy Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo 159899, 161103) from Attack Squadron VA-95 Green Lizards in flight. VA-95 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66) for a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean from 14 April to 12 November 1981. Via Wiki Commons

Fast forward to today and Intruders, Vikings, Connie, America, the Boomers, Green Lizards, and Screwbirds are long gone, with VS-33 the last one to go, disestablished in 2006.

Rap, rap, rapping on the Bastion door

“Three Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers — USS Donald Cook, USS Porter, and USS Roosevelt — are supported by fast combat support ship USNS Supply and joined by the Royal Navy’s HMS Kent to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies,” a U.S. Navy news release said.

Not a big deal, as such joint operations happen every day somewhere in the maritime domain.

What is a big deal, is that the exercise involved said surface action group chilling out above the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea, long a “safe” boomer bastion for the Russian Northern Fleet. Further, other than for Norway which is a “local” in the region, the task force was the largest NATO operation in the region in about 25 years.

ARCTIC OCEAN (May 5, 2020) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), front, the Royal Navy Type-23 Duke-class frigate HMS Kent (F78), the fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) conduct joint operations to ensure maritime security in the Arctic Ocean, May 5, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Royal Navy by Royal Navy Photographer Dan Rosenbaum/Released)

ADM James Foggo, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, said there will be more deployments and more exercises in the High North.

“The Russians are operating with state-of-the-art nuclear submarines,” he said. “That said, we still have the competitive advantage. But they’re good, and getting better.”

More on what that means, here.

Pitching Clay, or, the ’41 for Freedom’ can fight surfaced, too

USS Henry Clay (SSBN-625) launches a Polaris A-2 SLBM from the surface of the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Kennedy (Canaveral), Florida on 20 April 1964. The objects flying through the air around the missile are launch adapters designed to detach themselves automatically once the missile has left the tube.

The goal of the Polaris program was to launch a ready missile by 1965, and Clay was one of the last pegs to make it a reality.

Catalog # USN 1094722. Naval History and Heritage Command

This was the first demonstration that Polaris subs can launch missiles from the surface as well as from beneath the surface. 30 minutes earlier the Clay successfully launched an A-2 missile submerged.

Clay’s port list is a standard part of surface launch procedures. The tall mast is a temporary telemetry antenna installed for operations at the Cape only.

Named in honor of founding father Henry Clay, perhaps best known as the “Great Compromiser,” the boomer was part of the Lafayette-class of ballistic missile submarines that were made in the “41 for Freedom” program in the 1960s, all subs named after famous Americans to include the honorary Yank, the Marquis de Lafayette. Clay was commissioned 20 February 1964 and was decommissioned 5 November 1990 for recycling.

Seldom heard from, the boats of the 41 For Freedom program made an incredible 2824 strategic deterrent patrols during their time on earth, each typically about 65 days. This is about 502 patrol years at sea during the Cold War.

For more on the program, check out this 2016 seminar at the National Museum of the United States Navy including archival footage from the Strategic Systems Programs Office. The video is narrated by VADM Ken Malley, former SSP Director.

Zap Ya with the Eye of God

This 17 May 1988 image shows peak Cold War frogmen foreshadowing the role they would increasingly carry out in the Sandbox for the next 30 years.

Dig that chocolate chip camo! U.S. Navy Photo DN-ST-8902888 by PH2 Jeffrey Loshaw

Official caption: Two Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) team members, one equipped with an AN/PAQ-1 laser target designator, right, the other armed with an M14 rifle, assume a defensive position after assaulting the beach during an amphibious demonstration for the 14th Annual Inter-American Naval Conference.

The AN/PAQ-1 Laser Target Designator (LTD) was developed by Hughes Aircraft in the 1960s and 1970s, reaching IOC around 1979.

The chunky 16-pound infrared laser rangefinder/designator could either obtain target range or paint a target for early “smart” munitions like the Copperhead 155mm shell, Hellfire and Maverick missiles, and Paveway guided bombs.

Either shoulder or tripod-mounted, the LTD was shipped in a 64-pound transit case with accessories to include the designator, four battery-shoulder stocks, and a cleaning kit.

One of the devices is in the Smithsonian.

The 175-page 1980 U.S. Army TM is here.

Of note, the current AN/PED-1 Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder (LLDR) incorporates a thermal imager, day camera, laser designator spot imaging, electronic display, eye-safe laser rangefinder, digital magnetic compass, Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module Global Positioning System (SAASM GPS) and digital export capability. With batteries for a 24-hour mission, it weighs 29.5-pounds. The Army is currently working on a better, and lighter, model. 

Get to the choppa: Battlewagon edition

An SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter is secured by flight deck crewmen aboard the battleship Iowa (BB-61) on 1 Sep 1985. Official USN photo # DN-ST-86-02511, by PHC Jeff Hilton,

The Iowa-class battleships received official helicopter pads and a helicopter control station below their after 5-inch director–although no hangar facilities– in the 1980s during their Lehman 600-ship Navy modernization.

The helicopter control station on the 02 level of the battleship Iowa (BB-61). Official USN photo # DN-ST-86-09557, by PH1 Jeff Hilton

They used them to host visiting Navy SH-60 and SH-2s, as well as the occasional Marine UH-1, CH-46, and CH-53 while also running their own early RQ-2A Pioneer UAV detachments–to which Iraqi units would later surrender to during the 1st Gulf War. 

Crew members aboard Iowa (BB-61) wait for a Helicopter Light Anti-Submarine Squadron 34 (HSL-34) SH-2F Seasprite helicopter to be secured before transporting a badly burned sailor injured during NATO exercise North Wedding 86. Official USN photo # DN-ST-87-00280, by PH1 Jeff Hilton

CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter approaches the landing area at the stern of the battleship USS IOWA (BB 61)

A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter is parked on the helicopter pad during flight operations aboard the battleship USS IOWA (BB-61).

However, it by far was not the first time those dreadnoughts sported whirly-birds.


Back in 1948, while the ships still had floatplane catapults and a quartet of Curtiss SC-2 Seahawk floatplanes on their stern, USS Missouri (BB-63) accommodated a visiting experimental Sikorsky S-51, piloted by D. D. (Jimmy) Viner, a chief test pilot for Sikorsky.

Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter (Bureau # 122527) landing on Missouri’s forward 16-inch gun turret, during the 1948 Midshipmen’s cruise. Guard mail, ships’ newspapers and personnel were exchanged via helicopter while the Midshipmen’s cruise squadron was at sea. Most exchanges were made by hovering pick-up. The forward turret was used as a landing platform since the floatplane catapults on the ship’s fantail prevented helicopters from operating there. The photo was filed on 13 September 1948. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-706093

With the cats deleted in the early 1950s, the Iowas saw more HO3s, now equipped with folding blade rotors and externally-mounted rescue hoists.

USS New Jersey (BB-62) A Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter of squadron HU-1 takes off from the battleship’s afterdeck, while she was operating off Korea. The upraised green flag signifies that the pilot has permission to take off. Crash crew, in yellow helmets, are standing by with fire hoses ready. This helicopter is Bureau # 124350. The photograph is dated 14 April 1953. The photographer is Lt. R.C. Timm. 80-G-K-16320

USS Iowa (BB-61) steams out of Wonsan harbor, Korea, after a day’s bombardment. The photograph is dated 18 April 1952. Note HO3S helicopter parked on the battleship’s after deck. Also, note the WWII catapults are deleted but the floatplane crane is still on her stern. NH 44537

USS Wisconsin (BB-64) snow falling on the battleship’s after deck, 8 February 1952, while she was serving with Task Force 77 in Korean waters. Note 16″/50cal guns of her after turret, and Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter parked on deck. Photographed by AF3c M.R. Adkinson. 80-G-441035


New Jersey also supported the occasional helicopter during her reactivation in the Vietnam war. Notably, she received 16-inch shells and powder tanks from USS Mount Katmai (AE-16) by H-34 helicopter lift, the first time heavy battleship ammunition had been transferred by helicopter at sea.

New Jersey (BB-62) underway off the Virginia Capes with an SH-3D Sea King from HS-3 “Tridents”, (attached to the Randolph CVS-15 and a squadron of CVSG-56), about to land on the fantail. However, it is more likely that the helicopter flew out to the “Big J” from NAS Norfolk. Official Navy Photograph # K-49736, taken by PH3 E. J. Bonner on 24 May 1968, via Navsource.

Two UH-1 Huey helicopters resting on the fantail of the New Jersey (BB-62) during her service in December 1968 off Vietnam. Courtesy of Howard Serig, via Navsource.

But wait, old boy

With all that being said, it should be pointed out that it was the Brits who first successfully used a helicopter on their last battlewagon, HMS Vanguard, in 1947, a full year before Missouri’s first rotor-wing visit.

Landing a Sikorsky R4 helicopter on the aft deck of the battleship Vanguard February 1, 1947

And Vanguard would go on to operate both RN FAA Westland WS-51 Dragonflies and USN Piasecki HUP-2s on occasion in the 1950s.

The more you know…

From Mississippi to Burg-Hohenzollern, 35 Years Ago

Official caption: “Two F-4E Phantom II aircraft assigned to the 512th and 526th Tactical Fighter Squadrons fly one of their last aerial missions over Castle Burg-Hollenzollern [sic], near Ramstein Air Base. Both squadrons will replace their Phantoms with F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Tail No. 512 is piloted by Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Bruce Gillett and navigated by Captain (CPT) Mike Craig. LTC Tom Speelman is piloting tail No. 526 with 1st Lieutenant (1LT) John Rogers navigating, 3/20/1985”

USAF photo 330-CFD-DF-ST-86-11795 by SSGT F. Serna.

Note their twin AIM-9s on the outside pylons. These Phantoms are ready to party. USAF photo 330-CFD-DF-ST-86-11795 by SSGT F. Serna.

An additional photo from the same shoot shows the Phantoms to be air-to-air heavy with four AIM-7 Sparrows and four AIM-9 Sidewinders.


The 526th TFS was formed in 1942 at Key Field in Mississippi and flew A-24 Banshees in North Africa before switching to P-47s for the Italian campaign. Upgrading to F-84s and later F-102s in the 1950s and 60s, they chopped to Phantoms in 1968. Based at Ramstein from 1952 through 1994, they missed out on Korea and Vietnam but were very active in the Cold War, often coming close to interloping Warsaw Pact MiGs during times of tension. They hung up their follow-on F-16s and inactivated in 1994.

Likewise, the 512th started at Key Field and flew P-47s in the ETO, being very active in smashing up the Germans in the tail-end of the Battle of the Bulge. After spending the 1950s and 60s flying F-84s and F-86s CONUS, they switched to Phantoms and headed to West Germany in 1976. They inactivated on 1 October 1994, their personnel and F-16s heading to Aviano.

Burg-Hohenzollern is, of course, still there.

Abbreviated Warship Wednesday: Mount 43, 60 Years Ago Today

(Shorter WW today due to events-Eg.)

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 18, 2020: Mount 43, 60 Years Ago This Week

Here we see the Midway-class carrier USS Coral Sea (CVB/CVA/CV-43) as she sits in Vancouver, Britsh Columbia, her haze gray tower lending its own perspective to the majestic North Shore Mountains overlooking the harbor.

Photo by Leslie F. Sheraton, Courtesy of the Vancouver City Archives Item 2009-001.153

Coral Sea called in Vancouver only once from what I can tell, for three days from 18 to 20 March 1960. This was immediately after her 33-month SCB-110AB conversion at Bremerton and before she picked up Carrier Air Group (CVG) 15 for her first post-modification WestPac cruise.

Mar 1960 – Newly recommissioned USS Coral Sea entering Vancouver B.C., Canada. Via USS Coral

Her crew spells out CANADA on the flight deck. Via USS Coral

She was reportedly the largest ship to pass under the city’s famous Lion’s Gate bridge (later dwarfed by USS Ranger‘s 1992 port call) and drew huge crowds.

As noted from a Vancouver historical blog:

Over 100,000 people lined the shorelines to greet the 63,000-ton aircraft carrier, There were traffic jams into Stanley Park as Vancouverites tried to get the best vantage points to see the huge aircraft carrier. The most spectacular moment was when the aircraft carrier went under the Lions Gate Bridge with a few feet to spare. The crew had to take down the “Lollipop”, the 11-foot section of the navigational aid at the top of the mainmast.

According to newspaper articles, thousands of school children skipped school or were permitted to leave to watch the ship come into port. According to one article, one principal said those that played hookey will pay the price with detentions. There were a lot of social events organized while the ship was in port including a huge dance where over 900 local women were invited to meet the sailors.

While in British Columbia the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, commanded by two world war Veteran Lt.Col Ian Malcolm Bell-Irving, paraded alongside the dock and then, coming aboard, down her new-fangled angled flight deck and into her empty hangar deck.

US Navy photo now in the Seattle Branch of the National Archives. # NS024335, via Navsource.

Seaforth Highlanders on the hangar deck of USS Coral Sea

While the Coral Sea, recipient of a dozen Vietnam Service Medals, decommissioned in 1990 and was scrapped by 2000, the Seaforths are still stationed in Vancouver and are set to celebrate their 110th Anniversary in November.

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They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find.

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