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Always remember to put them up clean

If ever there was a lesson in why you should store your guns in good condition, here we see the Iowa-class battlewagon, USS New Jersey (BB-62), as she was put to pasture after her WWII service.

The Sailors are removing the muzzle seals from two of her forward turret’s 16″/50cal Mark 7 guns, while she was being reactivated at the Naval Supply Depot, Bayonne, Oct. 1950, for use in Korea.

New Jersey, of course, would go back into retirement following Korea, only to be recommissioned a third time for Vietnam, and a fourth in the 1980s to help the Reagan-era 600-ship Navy make weight.

Happy 68th anniversary, Regiment van Heutsz

On this day in 1950, the Netherlands formed a new infantry regiment specifically for overseas service. Taking its moniker from Aceh war hero Joannes Benedictus van Heutsz as the torch bearer for the old traditions of the KNIL– the 65,000-man Dutch Indies colonial army that was disbanded the same year after it left newly-independent Indonesia.

With the UN looking for forces to fight in Korea, the all-volunteer Regiment van Heutsz formed the bulk of the Nederlands Detachement Verenigde Naties (NDVN) and was soon shipped to the ROK. The initial battalion-sized force (636 officers and men) arrived at Pusan on November 23. Attached to the U.S. 38th Infantry Regiment (part of 2ID) they were armed and equipped in U.S. fashion and were engaging the Norks/Chinese by January 1951.

Sergeant Wedei Huizen, of the Netherlands detachment of the UN forces in Korea, in position to return sniper fire. Note the sniper variant M1C rifle complete with the M82 scope and distinctive M2 flash hider Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205190183

By the time the Dutch left Korea in 1954, a total of 5,322 volunteer soldiers from the Netherlands and Suriname rotated through the unit, suffering 768 casualties in total. They fought at Hill 325 and 340, in the Battles of Hoengseong and Wonju, and helped put down the Koje-do Island POW revolt. They were augmented by six Royal Netherlands Navy destroyers who worked the gun line offshore.

Commonly referred to just as the Dutch Battalion, they picked up both a ROK and U.S. Presidential Unit Citation. The Dutch government conferred 156 military merit medals for individual service while each of the battalion’s members received the UN Service Medal, Korean War Service Medal, and the Cross for Justice and Freedom of the Netherlands.

An air assault battalion today, Regiment van Heutsz’s lineage is carried by the 12th battalion of the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade and has served in the former Yugoslavia and in Afghanistan.

Of light cruisers and baby flattops

Here we see an aerial photo of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, San Francisco unit, in early 1958, some 60 years ago.

Located at Hunter’s Point (San Francisco Naval Shipyard), the most recognizable vessel in the collection of cargo ships, light/escort carriers, and light cruisers is the USS Bataan (CVL-29) with her pennant number on her deck. Directly behind her should be The Mighty Moo, 12 battlestar-recipient USS Cowpens (CVL-25), which had been in mothballs since 1947. The bows on these cruisers-hulled light carriers are a dead ringer for the greyhounds they are moored among.

Among the escort carriers listed at San Francisco at the time were the Commencement Bay-class USS Rendova (CVE-114) who was completed too late for WWII but was home to F4U Corsairs of VMF-212 off Korea for 1,700 sorties as well as fellow classmates and Korean War vets USS Bairoko (CVE-115), USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116), and USS Sicily (CVE-118).

Many of the escort carriers in U.S. inventory during the mid-to-late 1950s were reclassified as auxiliary aircraft ferries (ACV), helicopter carriers (CVHE), aviation cargo ships (AKV), or aircraft transport (AVT) with some administratively transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on paper before they were removed from Naval custody, although they were not given any modifications to operate as such.

Among the light cruisers at San Fran at the time were USS Astoria CL-90, Birmingham CL-62, Vincennes CL-64, Springfield CL-66, Topeka CL-67, Vicksburg CL-86, Duluth CL-87, Miami CL-89, Oklahoma City CL-91, Amsterdam CL-101, and Atlanta CL-104, a Cleveland-class light cruisers completed late in the war. Two anti-aircraft cruisers are also seen middle left of the photo. Moored on red lead row at Hunters Point in 1958 were USS Oakland (CL-95) and USS Tucson (CL-98).

By 1962, virtually the entire assemblage you see above (save for Atlanta, who went on to be destroyed in 1965 as a weapons effects test ship and Tuscon, which was a test hulk until 1971) was stricken from Navy List and subsequently sold for scrap, the days of 1945-era all-gun cruisers and abbreviated flattops in the rearview for a Navy that was increasingly all-jet and missile. Oakland’s mast and nameplate are preserved just a few miles from where this image was taken at the Port of Oakland’s shoreline park.

RIP Soon-Tek Oh

If you grew up watching anything war or military-related in the 1970s and 1980s, odds are, you saw diasporic Korean actor Soon-Tek Oh– several times. He was truly a gifted man of many faces:


Born in 1932 in Japanese-occupied Korea, he graduated with a degree in political science at Yonsei University in 1959, then flew to Los Angeles to study international relations at UCLA. By 1965 he was acting locally and soon moved into a series of TV and film roles, and somewhat sadly became typecast in roles that called for an “Asian in uniform” for many years, but always gave a good performance.

He was in Airwolf (as three different characters), MASH (as five different characters in both the ROK and DPRK armies), Magnum p.i as an NVA officer, Bond back-up Lt. Hip in The Man with the Golden Gun, Baa Baa Black Sheep as both Lt. Miragochi and the 20+ years older Col. Tokura, the list goes on.

One of my favorite roles was as IJN pilot Lt. Shimura in the sci-fi flick The Final Countdown, where the USS Nimitz gets zapped from 1980 to Dec. 6, 1941 outside of Pearl Harbor, and Shimura gets captured when he loses a fight in his Zero against a pair of Jolly Roger F14s (go figure)– but goes down fighting. (Also I am a sucker for carrier MARDETs and woodland camo, so there is that….)

Oh died earlier this month at age 85.

Warship Wednesday, March 7, 2018: The ‘most fightingest ship’ of the Great North

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 their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 7, 2018: The ‘most fightingest ship’ of the Great North

Here we see the British-built Tribal (Afridi)-class destroyer Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Haida (G63) of the Royal Canadian Navy, as she appeared during WWII. One of Canada’s most celebrated vessels, this “little tin can that could” has an impressive record and is still around today taking the “Queen’s shilling” so to speak.

The Afridi‘s were a new type of destroyer designed for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s off experience both in the Great War and to match the large, modern escorts on the drawing boards of contemporary naval rivals of the time.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Huron (G24), in dazzle camouflage, sailing out to sea during the Second World War during one of her countless trans-Atlantic escorting runs. The Tribal-class destroyer, commissioned on July 28,1943, also served in the Pacific theatre during the Korean War under the new pennant number 216.

These 378-foot vessels could make 36+ knots on a pair of geared steam turbines and a trio of Admiralty three-drum boilers while an impressive battery of up to eight 4.7″/45 (12 cm) QF Mark XII guns in four twin CPXIX mountings gave them the same firepower as early WWI light cruisers (though typically just three turrets were mounted).

Gun crew on Tribal-class destroyer HMCS Algonquin cleaning up their 4.7″/45 (12 cm) Mark XII guns after firing at the Normandy Beaches on 7 June 1944. Note that the crewman kneeling in the rear is holding a 4.7″ (12 cm) projectile. Library and Archives Canada Photograph MIKAN no. 3223884

Some 32 Afridi‘s were planned in eight-ship flights: 16 for the RN (named after tribal warriors: HMS Cossack, HMS Eskimo, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, et. al), eight for the Royal Australian Navy, and eight for the Canadians. Of the Canadian ships, four were to be built by Vickers in the UK and the other four by Halifax shipyards in Nova Scotia. All the Canadian ships were to be named after First Nations tribes (Iroquois, Athabaskan, Huron, Haida, Micmac, Nootka, Cayuga, etc.)

An unidentified Tribal class destroyer in profile

The subject of our tale, HMCS Haida, was the last of the Canadian Tribals built in the UK, laid down at Vickers 29 September 1941. She commissioned during the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, on 18 September 1943.

As noted by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net, Haida immediately began working up with the Home Fleet based at Scapa Flow and just a scant two weeks later was operational, heading on a mission to reinforce the icy Spitzbergen garrison and provide a covering force for Lend-Lease minesweepers headed to the Soviets past heavily defended German-occupied Norway.

Then between Nov. 1943 and Jan 1944, Haida would be part of no less than five dangerous runs through U-boat and Scharnhorst-infested waters between the UK and Kola Pen, shepherding freighters to fuel Uncle Joe’s war machine. Speaking of Scharnhorst, Haida was present just over the horizon at the Battle of North Cape when the mighty German capital ship was sent to the bottom.

Next, she was assigned to escort a raiding force to Norwegian waters consisting of the Free French battleship Richelieu, the battlewagon HMS Anson and several fast cruisers. Once that went off uneventfully, Haida was tasked to Operation Neptune, the Normandy Landings, and transferred to the English Channel.

Filling her time escorting forays into mine and E/S-boat infested coastal waters along the French coast, Haida traded naval gunfire and torpedoes with German shore batteries and torpedo boats, coming away unscathed but leaving the Elbing-class torpedo boat T29 dead in the water in a sharp nighttime action in April 1944. One of her sisters, HMCS Athabaskan, was not so lucky and sank in the same action.

When the D-Day balloon went up, she spent her time on the patrol line between Ile de Bas and Ile de Vierge and, on 9 June, with three of her sisterships, engaged four German T-boats and destroyers. The action left one German sunk, another hard aground, and the final pair limping away to lick their wounds.

On 24 June 1944, Haida racked up a confirmed kill on the German U-971 (ObrLt. Zeplien) off Brest in conjunction with the RN destroyer (and sistership) HMS Eskimo and a B-24 Liberator flown by the Free Czechs (Sqdn. 311). The event, as chronicled by Haida, included nine attacks by the destroyers and ended with a surface action in the English Channel as the stricken sub crashed to the surface and men started to abandon ship.

From Haida‘s report:

It was decided to attack without waiting for ESKIMO to regain contact and pattern “G” had been ordered when at 1921 the submarine surfaced about 800 yards ahead at an inclination of about 100 left. Fire was opened from “B” gun and a hit obtained on the conning tower, with the second salvo. High Explosive was used and penetrated the conning tower, starting a fire, the flames being clearly visible through the hole made. No further hits were obtained with main armament and fire was checked as soon as it was apparent that the enemy did not intend to fight. Close range weapons were used during the same period.

Lost was one German submariner, while Haida and Eskimo picked up 52 survivors (including six were injured, three seriously) and brought them to Falmouth in the predawn hours of 25 June.

U-BOAT KILLER’S MASCOT. 26 JUNE 1944, PLYMOUTH, ON BOARD THE CANADIAN DESTROYER HMCS HAIDA, WHICH WITH HMS ESKIMO DESTROYED A U-BOAT IN THE CHANNEL. (A 24385) Dead-eyed Jock Macgregor who was the first to open fire with his Oerlikon on the U-boat destroyed by the HAIDA and HMS ESKIMO. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205156267

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 24384) Seaman Jock MacGregor of HMCS HAIDA holds ‘Muncher’ the ship’s pet rabbit by the Oerlikon 20 mm gun Platform. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119874

August saw Haida maul a convoy of small German coasters off Ile d’Yeu. Between April and September 1944, she is credited with assisting in the sinking of at least nine Axis ships including two destroyers, two T-boats, a U-boat, a minesweeper, patrol boat and two armed trawlers.

By September, the Canadian war baby headed for her home country for the first time, to get a badly needed refit at Halifax. Early 1945 saw her sortie back to Europe where she was engaged off Norway again, escorted some more convoys to Russia, and was among the first Allied ships to enter the key Norwegian port of Trondheim post VE-Day. Returning to Canada, she was to be made ready to fight in the Pacific against the Japanese but never made it that far before the A-bombs ended the war unexpectedly.

Laid up in reserve, by 1947 she was reactivated and soon put to effective use when she served off Korea as part of the Canadian contribution to the UN forces in that conflict, completing two tours in those far-off waters.

In 1952, an extensive refit saw her reconfigured as a destroyer-escort (pennant DDE-215) which saw her WWII sensors replaced by a more modern SPS-6C air search radar and SQS-10 sonar. Her main armament, those six beautiful 4.7-inch rapid fires, was swapped out for a more conservative pair of twin 4-inch Mk16s. Her depth charges replaced with a Squid ASW mortar. This would be her final configuration for her last decade in active service, and the one she would carry into her later days.

This photo shows the ship’s company in Hong Kong in 1953 (Parks Canada)

Rescued from the streets of Japan, Pom Pom served as Haida’s mascot during the ship’s first tour of duty in Korea (Parks Canada)

A 1930s design in the jet age, Haida was decommissioned in October 1963 after 20 years of hard service.

HMCS HAIDA (DDE215) makes her way towards Lock 4 on the Welland Canal during her farewell Great Lakes tour in 1963

Overall, when compared to her sisters, she was a lucky ship and outlived her family. No less than 12 of the 16 Tribals in British service were lost during WWII and the remaining quartet were all paid off by 1949. All the Tribals in Canadian service were sold to the breakers by 1969. The three Australian ships that were completed (five were canceled) likewise were turned to razor blades.

Tribal-class sister HMCS Huron (DDE-216), port bow view while off Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-646914:

Haida was the last of her class remaining in any ocean and, after an effort by concerned citizens, she was towed to Toronto and opened as a museum ship in 1965. Over the next three decades, she still hosted sea cadet camps and Canadian Forces events in addition to her work a floating memorial, known as “Canada’s most fightingest ship”.

In 2003, she was moved to Hamilton, Ontario where she had been a National Historic Site ever since, operated by Parks Canada on a seasonal basis.

(Parks Canada)

Earlier this year, she was named ceremonial Flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy with an honorary commanding officer chosen from the Navy, is authorized to fly the Canadian Naval Ensign, and the ship will observe traditional sunrise and sunset ceremonies as well as arrival announcements on the gangway.

(Parks Canada)

Specs:

Displacement:1,959 long tons (1,990 t) tons standard, 2,519 long tons (2,559 t) deep load
Length: 377 ft (114.9 m)
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.4 m)
Draught: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion:
2 shafts; 3-Admiralty 3 drum type boilers
2 × Parsons Marine geared steam turbines, 44,000 shp (33,000 kW);
Speed: 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph) (maximum), 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph) (service)
Complement: 259 (14 officers, 245 ratings)
Sensors and processing systems:
As G63 (1943–1952):
1 type 268 radar
1 type 271 radar
1 type 291 radar
1 × Mk.III fire control director with Type 285 fire control radar
1 type 144 sonar
1 type 144Q sonar
1 type 147F sonar

As DDE 215 (1952–1963):
1 SPS-6C air search radar
1 Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar
1 × Mk.63 fire control director with SPG-34 fire control radar
1 type 164B sonar
1 type 162 (SQS 501) sonar
SQS 10 sonar

Armament:

As G63 (1943–1952):
3 × 4.7-inch (119 mm)/45 Mk.XII twin guns
1 × 4-inch (102 mm)/45 Mk.16 twin guns
1 × quadruple mount 40 mm/39 2-pounder gun
6 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
1 quad launcher with Mk.IX torpedoes (4 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes)
1 rail + 2 Mk.IV throwers (Mk.VII depth charges)

As DDE 215 (1952–1963):
2 × 4-inch/45 Mk.16 twin guns
1 × 3-inch (76 mm)/50 Mk.33 twin guns
4 × 40 mm/56 Bofors guns
1 quad launcher with Mk.IX torpedoes (4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes)
2 × Squid ASW mortars

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.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, 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 its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

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That’s a whole lot of mobile real estate

WESTERN PACIFIC (Nov. 12, 2017) The aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and their strike groups are underway, conducting operations, in international waters as part of a three-carrier strike force exercise. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional security, stability, and prosperity. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. James Griffin/Released)

Currently, the Navy has 11 commissioned nuclear aircraft carriers in service (as well as two under construction and two conventional carriers laid up pending disposal). Well, for the first time in a long time, 7 of those 11 are underway with three– USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)— fully armed and conducting operations forward deployed in the Western Pacific. Those three flattops are currently off the Korean Peninsula with vessels of the Republic of Korean Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.

WESTERN PACIFIC (Nov. 12, 2017) Three F/A-18E Super Hornets, assigned to the Eagles of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 115, fly in formation over the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and their strike groups along with ships from the Republic of Korea Navy as they transit the Western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Aaron B. Hicks/Released)

There haven’t been seven carriers underway since 2004 and it’s been a decade since three carrier strike groups operated together in the big blue of the Pacific during exercise Valiant Shield 2007.

“It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three,” said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift in the Navy’s presser on the ops in the West Pac. “Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region.”

Let’s roll that beautiful bean footage:

Getting Kiffe

Here we see a rundown of the standard bayonet fare for U.S. military rifles from the early 20th Century through the early days of the Vietnam conflict.

From top to bottom: an M1905 sword bayonet with a 16-inch blade on the M1903 Springfield rifle, an M1 bayonet on an M1 Garand, a chopped down bayonet (10-inch blade) made from the legacy M1905 pigsticker redesignated M1905E1 on an M1 Garand, and finally an M4 bayonet on M1 Carbine.

The M4 is very interesting in the respect that it originally wasn’t suppose to exist, and then went on to be both widely used and extensively cloned.

Initially, the M1 Carbine did not accept a bayonet. However, beginning in June 1944, the front band included a bayonet lug. Most earlier carbines were subsequently retrofitted with the bayonet-lug front band. Most U.S.-made M4 bayonets were produced by W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co., Turner Manufacturing Co, Imperial Knife Co., Conetta Manufacturing Co, and Bren-Dan Manufacturing Co. using the M8/8A1 sheath, and ran into the early 1960s at least.

Early models used the leather washer handles while post-WWII production shifted to hard rubber or plastic grips. Standard blade length on military spec models was 6.5-inches, overall is 11.5-inches. The M4 bayonet blade even went on to form the pointy end of a later Korean-era M1 Garand bayonet, the M5A1, which replaced both the M1905E1 and M1 bayonet.

The M4 model I just picked up is a Kiffe made in Japan, which would obviously make it a Post-WWII variant.

Though the company was founded in New York in 1875 by Herman H. Kiffe and remained in operation through the 1960s, they contracted their M4 bayos to unknown Japanese makers in the 1950s.

Not meant for military contracts (at least from the U.S.) these were popular with new civilian buyers of surplus M1 Carbines which were widely available for a song at the time. These new bayonets sold for $3 at the time via mail order– about $23 in 2017 greenbacks, which is a deal both then and now.

1967 ad for Kiffe, note the “M8 Bayonet” in the top right with “self-sharpening plastic sheaths” (!)

Overall length is 11.25-inches, while weight is 8.6-ounces, in each case without the scabbard.

The blade is marked simply “Kiffe Japan” as is the hilt.

While not a true martial bayonet, it is beautiful and this specimen is very minty– no doubt because it was purchased during the Atomic-era as a keepsake to complete a privately owned M1, rather than for field use. At 50~ years old, it looks great and I think it will hold up for another 50 with no problem.

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