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.
If you ask me, the Joe is certainly rocking a similar vibe to one certain scruffy nerf herder of the same era
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the cats deleted in the early 1950s, the Iowas saw more HO3s, now equipped with folding blade rotors and externally-mounted rescue hoists.
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.
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.
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…
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”
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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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