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Just Jeepin’ around Geilenkirchen

vickers-a-go-go-jeep-manned-by-sergeant-a-schofield-and-trooper-o-jeavons-of-1-sas-near-geilenkirchen-in-germany-nov-1944

Click to big up 1920×1080

A jeep manned by Sergeant A Schofield and Trooper O Jeavons of 1 SAS near Geilenkirchen in Germany Nov 1944. The jeep is armed with three Vickers ‘K’ guns (2 double and 1 single mount), and fitted with armoured glass shields in place of a windscreen. The SAS were involved at this time in clearing snipers in the 43rd Wessex Division area. No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit Hewitt (Sgt)IWM Colourised by Paul Reynolds

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

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 January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Here we see the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cony (DD/DDE-508) off  Norfolk in October 1963 as seen from the USS Keppler (DD-765). Though she earned 11 battle stars for World War II service, two for Korean War service and spent five months off Vietnam, it was a little-acknowledged day in 1962 that Cony witnessed what could have been the start of World War III.

One of the last pre-WWII destroyer designs of the U.S. Navy, the amazing 175 Fletchers proved the backbone of the fleet during the conflict. These expendable ‘tin cans’ saved Allied flyers, sank submarines, duked it out with shore batteries, torpedoed larger ships, screened the fleet, and shot down wave after wave of enemy aircraft, keeping the carriers and transports safe behind their hail of fire.

With the ability to float in just 17.5-feet of seawater, these ships crept in close to shore and supported amphibious landings, dropped off commandos as needed, and helped in evacuations when required. Small ships with long legs (5500-nm unrefueled at 15-knots) they could be dispatched to wave the flag in foreign ports, provide gunboat diplomacy in times of tension, and race just over the horizon at 36.5-knots to check out a contact.

The hero of our tale, laid down at Bath Iron Works on Christmas Eve 1941, was named after one Lt. Joseph Saville Cony, USN, notable for several successful small-boat expeditions along the Carolina coast during the Civil War before going down in a storm with the merchant vessel City of Bath in 1867 at age 33.

Commissioned 30 October 1942, LCDR H. D. Johnson in command, our warbaby was off to the Pacific.

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

Cony soon arrived off Guadalcanal, where she served as Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson’s flagship for the landings on Vella Lavella. In October, over a two-night period, she and six other tin cans intercepted Japanese barges evacuating Kolombangara, sinking an enemy torpedo boat and 40 barges while chasing away a quartet of smaller destroyers of the Imperial Navy.

Cony took two bombs from Japanese dive bombers on 27 October 1943 which sent her back to California’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard for refit and repair after her crew fought fires for more than 20 hours– though she reportedly splashed 5 Japanese planes in the exchange.

The following are excerpts from the shipboard diary of the rear gunner, Stanley Baranowski:

“27 Oct – … at 3:oo PM got contact with a lot of planes – enemy… at 3:15 they came at us.  So many of them.  We started to fire everything we had… 3:25 we got 2 direct hits on port and starboard… Lots of men were hit.  Worked on fires.  Was up all night taking care of wounded.

“28 Oct – Still working on fires… we started to throw ammo over the side.  Ship was listing to port… 11:15 AM port engine gave out.  Tug came along and started to tow us.  12 PM fire was out.  1 PM moored to taker “Oragon” and took off wounded men.

“29 Oct – Got up at 6:30 AM.  Worked like hell and at 1:35 PM took off 2 dead fellows burned to death – what a horrible sight.  Admiral came on board to look things over, said it’s a State-side job and at 5:30 PM a show started named – ‘Accidents Will Happen.’”

When Cony emerged from Mare Island four months later it was with a new camo scheme: Measure 32, Design 21D.

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

Once repaired, she sailed again for the West Pac, arriving in time for pre-invasion bombardment on Tinian in July 1944 before moving on to supporting the landings on Peleliu.

By October 1944, she was involved in the toe-to-toe fleet engagement with the Japanese Imperial Navy that was the Battle of Surigao Strait, during which she traded salvos and broadsides with the IJN’s destroyer Asagumo (Morning Cloud) of some 2,408-tons.

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

She went on to support the Lingayen Gulf landings and ended the war in the approaches of the Yangtze River of China, calling on Shanghai. Cony performed occupation and repatriation service for a few months, then was promptly decommissioned and laid up at Charleston, S.C in 1946.

Her period in mothballs lasted just over three years and she was recommissioned (as DDE-508) on 17 November 1949, with much of her outdated armament removed and equipped for an emphasis in antisubmarine warfare.

Though she served in the Korean War zone for five months in 1951 providing naval gunfire support, she would spend most of the next decade in the Atlantic fleet supporting NATO operations in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Med.

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

When Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506) stormed ashore at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba on 17 April 1961, Cony was just offshore as part of the U.S. fleet that was ostensibly to support the landings by the 1,300 Cuban exiles looking to whack The Beard, but was under orders from Washington not to intervene.

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cony played a serious part in the op, carrying a large part of the force to the landing zone with her whaleboat serving as part of the invasion flotilla. They immediately received fire from the beach and later, a Cuban helicopter fired on the whaleboat returning to the beach to rescue survivors.

However, her involvement in Cuba was far from over.

When the Cuban Missile Crisis kicked off in October 1962, Cony– reverted back to her DD-508 designation in June– was part of an anti-submarine task force centered around the Essex-class ASW carrier USS Randolph (CVS-15) that included the destroyers Bache (DD-470), Beale (DD-471), Eaton (DD-510) and Murray (DD-576).

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, largely sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

While enforcing the naval quarantine authorized by President Kennedy, the task force on 27 October came across the Soviet Foxtrot-class diesel-electric submarine B-59, which was heading from her White Sea base along with sister ships B-36, B-4 and B-130 to Havana with the mission “to strengthen the defense of the island of Cuba” and equipped with a total of 88 53-58 (T-5) nuclear-tipped torpedoes– 22 per submarine–just in case.

*Each T-5 carried an RDS-9 warhead with a 3-10 kiloton yield, enough to evaporate a carrier group if it got close enough*

Here is some footage of the first nuclear test fired at Novaya Zemlya of a RDS-9 equipped T-5 torpedo.

Notably, the deployment of the quartet of Foxtrots was the first documented deployment of their class to carry nuclear torpedoes as part of their magazine– and with the boat’s onboard leadership able to sign off directly on their use without asking Moscow for permission.

At 1659 on 27 October, Beale picked up B-59 on sonar and dropped practice depth charges on the Soviet smoke boat while pinging her with active sonar.

Then, at 1729, Cony upped the ante by dropping five hand grenades on top of the contact– one of the few documented instances of live ordnance being deployed in the crisis.

This, combined with the action of Beale, forced the sweltering Russki boat to the surface at 2050 where Cony‘s signalman established commo via blinker light with the submarine.

There, bathed in spotlights from the destroyers with their 5-inch guns trained on the Soviet submarine, one Second Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, executive officer of the 69th Torpedo Submarine Brigade, overruled B-59‘s Captain Valentin Savitskii and his deputy political officer Ivan Semenovich Maslenniko, who both wanted to fire off a salvo of atomic torpedoes at the American fleet upon surfacing. It should be noted that the effort to surface the B-59 was made just hours after Major Rudolf Anderson’s U-2 spy plane was shot down over Eastern Cuba, at the tensest moment of the crisis.

“We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not become the shame of the fleet,” Savitskii reportedly said, according to a journal kept by Captain Third Rank Anatoly Andreev.

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

By refusing to sign off on the engagement, Arkhipov became one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War who exercised enough restraint to keep the conflict from turning into a real live shooting war with mutually assured destruction as the third act.

Anyway, the Rudolph ASW task force allowed B-59 to charge her depleted batteries overnight on the surface, submerge the next morning and continue on its way Cuba.

Cony resumed her peacetime training and patrol operations, which included participating in the NASA recovery fleets for MR-IA, MR-4, GT-3, MA-4 and AS-204, and conducting Midshipmen cruises to Europe.

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Then came Vietnam, where she sailed for in the summer of 1967.

From 28 August to 24 September, she provided gunfire support first for the 1st Cav Div’s operations in the II Corps area then for SEAL units operating in the Mekong Delta. She later was assigned to Task Group 77.8 on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin, Cony provided plane guard duty for the carrier Oriskany (CVA‑34). From 14 August 1967 to Christmas 1967, she patrolled the Taiwan Straits and was on gunfire support and plane guard duty in Cam Ranh Bay, Cape Saint Jacques, Vung Ganh Rai, the Saigon River, and Mui Ba Kiem, RVN.

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Upon return to the states, she was decommissioned and stricken 2 July  1969.

Cony was sunk as a target off Puerto Rico 20 March 1970 via naval gunfire.

Most of her sisters met a similar fate with the last in U.S. Naval service, USS Stoddard (DD-566), being stricken 1 June 1975, and sunk in an exercise by Navy Seals of Seal Team One, 22 July 1997 off the coast of Hawaii in 2,550 fathoms of cool Pacific water.

A number of oral history interviews with members of Cony‘s crew are in the Library of Congress and her plans are in the National Archives.

To do your part to remember the old girl, you can visit one of the four Fletcher sisterships have been preserved as museum ships, although only USS Kidd was never modernized and retains her WWII configuration:

USS Cassin Young, in Boston, Massachusetts
USS The Sullivans, in Buffalo, New York
USS Kidd, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
AT Velos, former USS Charrette in Palaio Faliro, Greece

As for Arkhipov, the Soviet staff officer who prohibited the firing of the nuclear-tipped torpedoes, in 2002 then-director of the US National Security Archive, Thomas Blanton, said that “Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.”

vasili_arkhipov

The Soviet submariner– who incidentally was XO of the “widow maker” K-19 and retired as a Vice Admiral in the 1980s–  died 19 August 1998 at age 72.

Specs:

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(As commissioned, 1942)
Displacement: 2924 tons (full load)
Length: 376.5 ft. (114.8 m)
Beam: 39.5 ft. (12.0 m)
Draft: 17.5 ft. (5.3 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 4 oil-fired boilers; 2 Allis Chalmers geared steam turbines; 2 screws
Speed: 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph)
Range: 5,500 miles at 15 knots
(8,850 km at 28 km/h)
Complement: 329 officers and men
Armament: 5 × single 5 inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns
4 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns, 10 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
10 × 21 inch (533 mm) antiship torpedo tubes (2 × 5; Mark 15 torpedoes)
6 × K-gun depth charge projectors (later Hedgehog)
2 × depth charge racks

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Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Franz Schmidt was a German postcard artist probably best known for his series of city cards published from 1910-14 showing buildings and sites around his hometown of Nuremberg.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

However, when the Great War popped off, Schmidt was commissioned to produce a series of “fighting man” style postcards for Trautmann & von Seggern of Hamburg (T&S) showing German troops in action in 1914-15.

While I cannot find much information on Schmidt’s background or how he obtained the study for the martial series (i.e. whether he used models, traveled to the front, relied on newspaper imagery) they are very well done and mostly correct, even if they are clearly propaganda. Each shows a good example of early war uniforms including piping, brass buttons and covered Pickelhaube and Czapka.

The below come from The Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library has a massive collection of WWI postcards (nearly 10,000!)

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Througout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media characterized as savages-- while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Throughout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media often characterized as savages– while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Schmidt’s cards from time to time pop up online on eBay and others, typically at low ($5-$10) prices.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Warship Wednesday January 11, 2017: Yugoslavia’s second brief battleship

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 January 11, 2017: Yugoslavia’s second brief battleship

Photographed by B. Circovich of Trieste, in a print obtained by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, District of Columbia on 24 June 1899. Note the large anchor at the ship's bow. NH 88935

Photographed by B. Circovich of Trieste, in a print obtained by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, District of Columbia on 24 June 1899. Note the large anchor at the ship’s bow. NH 88935

Here we see the one-of-a-kind barbette ironclad Austrian battleship SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf of the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine, likely in the mid-1890s. A beautiful vessel when commissioned, she was rapidly outclassed but held an important role both in the twilight of the Austrian Empire and in the birth of the Yugoslav Navy.

Designed by naval engineers Viktor Lollok and Josef Kuchinka of the Marinetechnischen Komitees der k.u.k. (MTK), the team who would build the first Austrian armored cruiser and other really well done projects, Austrian Adm. Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck first ordered a pair of coastal defense battleships that would, in the end, suck out more than two whole years’ worth of the Navy’s budget (not just the shipbuilding budget, but the whole thing).

First laid down was Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, named after the apple of Emperor Franz Joseph I’s eye, his only son.

This guy

This guy

The 6,829-ton battleship was stubby, at 320-feet long and tubby at 63-feet across the beam, giving it a length to beam ratio about 1:5, but at least she could float in 24-feet of seawater. When designed in 1881, the top speed for the new ship, 15.5-knots, seemed adequate, especially when it was kept in mind that she had a double-hull, up to 12-inches of steel armor, and extensive watertight compartmentalization.

She was fitted with three Krupp 12-inch (30.5 cm/35 cal) guns in open forward (port and starboard) and rear centerline mounts much like the French ships of the time. This particular size gun was in use with the British (Majestic-class), American (USS Texas and Iowa) and Russian (Chesma-class, Georgy Pobedonosets-class, Navarin) fleets, leaving the Austrians in good company.

Her aft 12-incher

Her aft 12-incher

Over a dozen smaller caliber QF guns kept torpedo boats at bay.

kronprinz_erzherzog_rudolf

Launch of the ship at Marinearsenal Pola on 6 July 1887.Description: Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87057

Launch of the ship at Marinearsenal Pola on 6 July 1887.Description: Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87057

Photographed at Pola on 6 July 1887 shortly after launch. Note that the ship's midships armor belt has not yet been fitted. Catalog #: NH 88920

Photographed at Pola on 6 July 1887 shortly after launch. Note that the ship’s midships armor belt has not yet been fitted. Catalog #: NH 88920

She was completed September 1889 and was commissioned some nine months after her namesake sensationally died in a suicide pact with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, at the Mayerling hunting lodge, breaking old Franz Josef’s heart and leaving the Archduke Franz Ferdinand as heir to the throne–  a man whose own death would spark World War I.

schiff_sms_kronprinz_erzh_rudolf
The smaller SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie (4995-tons, 280-feet, 2x305mm guns, 2 masts) would be built in Trieste to a much modified (cheaper) design and commissioned in 1889 as the last Austrian barbette ironclad.

Together, the cost of these two ships would force the Austrian Navy to put battleship orders on hold until the 5,785-ton Monarch-class coastal defense battleship SMS Budapest was ordered in May 1892 and funded so frugally that the yard took over six years to complete.

This left Rudolf as the most heavily armed and armored ship in the Austrian fleet for a decade, and she was used extensively to show the flag.

RUDOLF is the single masted ship in the center. The large ship at left is CUSTOZA. The stack and mast to starboard of RUDOLF belong to MONARCH, and the ship to starboard of her is smaller near-sister KRONPRINZESSIN ERZHERZOGIN STEPHANIE. Photographed at Pola. Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87062

RUDOLF is the single-masted ship in the center. The large ship at left is CUSTOZA. The stack and mast to starboard of RUDOLF belong to MONARCH, and the ship to starboard of her is smaller near-sister KRONPRINZESSIN ERZHERZOGIN STEPHANIE. Photographed at Pola, 1900. Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87062

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection NH 87058

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection NH 87058

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87059

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87059

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87061

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87061

Rudolf, along with Stephanie and two other smaller vessels, spent part of 1890 in the Baltic and North Sea operating with the German Navy as a squadron. They later visited Italy and Spain to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1892, and made calls in ports across Europe.

When Budapest and the rest of her respective class were commissioned in the late 1890s, Rudolf and little sister Stephanie were largely withdrawn to second-rate service.

By 1908, the Austrians were looking to sell the then 20-year-old vessels which were badly in need of a refit to South American interests, with no takers.

Relegated to coastal defense with a reduced crew, World War I found Rudolf as a station ship in Cattaro Bay, where she remained throughout the war tending submarines.

Photographed circa 1915 as a sad, gray station-ship in the Gulf of Cattaro. The sub in the foreground is SMS U-3 or U-Courtesy of the INT'L Naval Research Org., Karl Gogg Collection #14-20.NH 87063

Photographed circa 1915 as a sad, gray station-ship in the Gulf of Cattaro. The sub in the foreground is SMS U-3 or U-4. Courtesy of the INT’L Naval Research Org., Karl Gogg Collection #14-20.NH 87063

As station ship in the Gulf of Cattaro in World War I. Note the crew manning the anti-submarine defense gun in the foreground. NH 42823.

As station ship in the Gulf of Cattaro in World War I. Note the crew manning the shore gun in the foreground. NH 42823.

In February 1918, after months of inaction and inspired by what was going on at the time in Bolshevik Russia, the fleet at Cattaro– Rudolf included– mutinied. Idle hands in a frozen port with little food will do that to you.

The mutiny lasted three days until it fell apart after modern battleships showed up from Pola and German U-boats threatened to send any ship flying a red flag to the bottom. During the incident, Rudolf was on the receiving end of a few rounds from a shore battery (perhaps the one shown above) still loyal to the Emperor. At the end of the affair, four ringleaders were executed and 392 mutineers court-martialled from across the naval division in port.

Interrupting the legal matters, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire imploded a few months later, the Emperor handed over the entire Navy to the newly formed Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (KSCS, later Kingdom of Yugoslavia) on 29 October 1918. Nobody told the Italians what happened and on 1 November, Italian frogmen sank the mighty (now-Slovenian) battleship

The problem was that nobody told the Italians what happened and on 1 November, Italian frogmen sank the mighty (now-Slovenian) battleship Viribus Unitis at anchor in 1918, in effect, the largest loss ever suffered by the Yugoslav Navy.

When the Allies arrived to occupy the ports a few days later, they promptly took over the former Austrian ships and held them through 1920, in the end sinking or taking away as prizes the best of the lot– including Stephanie who was transferred to Italy as a war prize and was eventually broken up for scrap in 1926.

As allowed by the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the Allies tossed Yugoslavia the scraps nobody wanted to include a dozen small torpedo boats, some slowpoke river monitors, a couple of auxiliaries and the ex-SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, which still had a couple of holes in her from the mutiny and hadn’t moved in years.

The Yugoslavs took over the old lady in March 1921 and, after renaming her Kumbor, she became the default flagship of the new force, for the record being the largest ship they ever operated post-Armistice Day.

The honeymoon was short-lived.

She was sold for scrap sometime in 1922, with the Yugos not having another seagoing warship until they bought the old 2,953-ton German protected cruiser Niobe in 1925.

Today little remains of Rudolph/Kumbor other than maritime art, of her on a much better day when she carried the withering ensign of her dying empire to a far off land.

Squadron drill of SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf at front, SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie, SMS Kaiser Franz Joseph I and SMS Tiger at Kiel, 1890, oil on canvas by Alexander Kircher, via wiki

Squadron drill of SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf at front, SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie, SMS Kaiser Franz Joseph I and SMS Tiger at Kiel, 1890, oil on canvas by Alexander Kircher, via wiki

Specs:

kronprinz-erzherzog-rudolf-1889-plansDisplacement: 6,829 metric tons (6,721 long tons)
Length:     320 ft. 3 in o/a
Beam:     63 ft. 3 in
Draft:     24 ft. 3 in
Installed power:
10 × fire-tube boilers
6,000 ihp (4,500 kW)
Propulsion:     2 × triple-expansion steam engines, 580-tons coal
Endurance: 2600nm at 10 knots
Speed:     15.5 kn (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph)
Crew:     447–450
Armor: (Harvey steel)
Belt: 305 mm
Deck: 95 mm (3.7 in)
Barbettes: 254 mm (10.0 in)
Armament:
3 × 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns
6 × 12 cm (4.7 in) guns
7 × 47 mm (1.9 in) QF guns
2 × 37 mm (1.5 in) QF guns
4 × 40 cm (16 in) torpedo tubes

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 it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Welcome to Bizerte

Artist unknown. From Library of Congress. LC-USW33-054104-ZC

Artist unknown. From Library of Congress. LC-USW33-054104-ZC. Click to big up

Night raid on the Allied-occupied French North African port of Bizerte, Tunisia.

“LCIs put up a screen of anti-aircraft fire from their 20mm guns during a raid of enemy planes on Allied installations in Bizerte, 1942.”

LCI’s and their modified LCS sisters were some of the most valuable if unsung small combat vessels of the latter part of WWII. We covered one of the last remaining, USS LCS-102, in a Warship Wednesday last year.

Warship Wednesday Dec. 28, 2017: Mexico’s mighty (lonely) battleship

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 Dec. 28, 2017: Mexico’s mighty (lonely) battleship

Catalog #: NH 93255

Catalog #: NH 93255

Here we see the former Brazilian armored ship Marshal Deodoro in the service of the Mexican Navy as Anáhuac sometime between 1924-38, photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, under the Mexican flag. This photo was acquired by the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably a commercial postcard purchased in Mexico– an early example of open source intel.

Though not much of a brawler, the Anáhuac can be considered Mexico’s sole entry into the world of battleships.

Originally ordered as the Ypiranga in 1898 from F C de la Méditerranée, La Seyne, France, the cute 3,162-ton ship at the time was classified as a battleship. The lead ship was named after Brazil’s first president, Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca, while the name of Brazil’s second president, Marshal Floriano Peixoto, both of whom had died within the decade before,graced the follow-on sistership.

They had 13-inches of Harvey armor, a pair of 9.2-inch guns in single fore and aft turrets, and could make 15-ish knots. A myriad of smaller guns kept torpedo boats away while a pair of 5.9-inch howitzers could bombard the shoreline.

Built with the lessons learned at the recent battles of Santiago and the Yalu, naval writer C. Fields in an 1899 Scientific American article said of the class, “Though, of course, unable to contend with a battleship of the ordinary size, yet the Marshal Deodoro would prove a formidable opponent to any armor-clad of an approximating displacement and also to a cruiser much more numerously gunned.”

Via Scientific American, c.1899.

Via Scientific American, c.1899.

Commissioned in 1900, these two pocket battlewagons were much larger and more modern than anything else in the Brazilian fleet. Further, they were downright handsome.

marshal-deodoro-brasil-brazil-coastal-defense-battleship

By 1906, with a depression in Brazil, Marshal Deodoro and Marshal Floriano were the only operational armored warships afloat in the country. However, a coffee boom followed by a rubber boom soon had the nation’s treasury overflowing and a series of modern dreadnoughts (the first ordered besides for the U.S. and British Royal Navy) were purchased beginning in 1907.

Brazilian Torpedo Launch. In Rio de Janeiro harbor, Brazil, during the U.S. Atlantic Fleet's visit there while en route to the Pacific, circa 12-22 January 1908. The Brazilian cruiser in the center distance is either Marshal Deodoro or Marshal Floriano. The torpedo gunboat in the left distance is a member of the Brazilian Tupy class. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Photo #: NH 101481

Brazilian Torpedo Launch. In Rio de Janeiro harbor, Brazil, during the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s visit there while en route to the Pacific, circa 12-22 January 1908. The Brazilian cruiser in the center distance is either Marshal Deodoro or Marshal Floriano.  Note she is all-white now rather than with a black hull as shown above. The torpedo gunboat in the left distance is a member of the Brazilian Tupy class. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Photo #: NH 101481

This ship is either Marshal Deodoro (launched 1898) or Marshal Floriano (launched 1899). A U.S. Navy battleship is partially visible in the right background. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. Photo #: NH 101480

This ship is either Marshal Deodoro (launched 1898) or Marshal Floriano (launched 1899). A U.S. Navy battleship is partially visible in the right background. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. Photo #: NH 101480

In 1912, an effort was made to modernize the ships; replacing their French coal fired boilers with new oil burning Babcock & Wilcox models, giving the pair a little more range.

However, once Brazil’s new dreadnoughts were delivered, this left the obsolete armored coastal defenders to be shuffled off to training missions and use as tenders. Floriano was soon hulked and eventually scrapped in 1936 by the Brazilians while Deodoro, in better condition, was sold to the Republic of Mexico in 1924 who promptly commissioned her as the Anáhuac, after the ancient (Aztec) name of the Basin of Mexico.

A 3,000-ton SpanAm War era pre-dreadnought growing long in the tooth, the Mexicans used Anahuac primarily for training purposes for a decade in the Gulf of Mexico, though the U.S. Navy proved very interested in her movements.

Photographed together at Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. ANAHUAC (at left), in commission from 1898 to circa 1935, was the former Brazilian MARECHAL DEODORO, acquired in April 1924. The NICOLAS BRAVO (at right) was in commission from 1903 to 1940. Bravo was the deciding factor in the first battle of Tampico in 1914. The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale, acquired this photograph. Description: Catalog #: NH 93257

Photographed together at Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. ANAHUAC (at left), in commission from 1898 to circa 1935, was the former Brazilian MARECHAL DEODORO, acquired in April 1924. The NICOLAS BRAVO (at right) was in commission from 1903 to 1940. Bravo was the deciding factor in the first battle of Tampico in 1914. The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale, acquired this photograph. Description: Catalog #: NH 93257

Photographed in the Gulf of Mexico. Note her very dark overall scheme. This photograph was acquired by U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale. Description: Catalog #: NH 93256

Photographed in the Gulf of Mexico. Note her very dark overall scheme. This photograph was acquired by U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale. Description: Catalog #: NH 93256

In 1938, on the cusp of WWII, Anahuac was sold for scrap and at the time was likely one of the last 19th century French pre-drednoughts afloat.

Specs:

Photo: Blueprints.com

Photo: Blueprints.com

Displacement: 3,162 tons standard
Length:     267-feet
Beam:     47.24-feet
Draught:     13.74-feet
Propulsion:
(as built)
2 shaft triple expansion engines, 2 screws
8 Lagrafel d’Allest boilers, 236-tons coal
3,400 ihp (2,500 kW)
(1912)
2 shaft triple expansion engines, 2 screws
8 Babcock & Wilcox oil-firing boilers, 440-tons oil.
3,400 ihp (2,500 kW)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 200
Armament:
2 × Armstrong D 9.2 inch, 45 caliber guns in 2 single turrets
2 x 5.9-inch howitzers
4 x 4.7 inch, 50 caliber guns in casemates
6 x 6-pounder (57mm) Hotchkiss guns
2 x 1-pounder Hotchkiss in masts
2 x 17.7 (450mm) submerged torpedo tubes
Armour: (All Harvey steel)
Belt: 11-13 inches
Deck: 2 inches
Conning tower: 4 inches
Casemate: 3 inches
Main Turret face: 8.7 inches

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!

Lighting it up

Here we see a U.S. Army Anti-aircraft gun battery at, Fort Shafter, Hawaii in 1925 practicing with their then-standard  3-inch M1918 guns (76.2 mm L/40), which was actually based on the old M898 3″/23 caliber gun. These in turn were replaced by the 90mm M1 in the early 1940s. There are only a handful of the old M1918s left as museum pieces.

loc-13974u-anti-aircraft-gun-fort-shafter-hawaii-1925-at-nigh-3-inch
And here we see the British counterpart in the form of a battery of Vickers QF 3.7-inch AA guns in action near Tobruk during a night raid in 1940. Though largely withdrawn from British and Commonwealth use by the early 1960s, there are apparently a few QF 3.7’s still in use on the roof of the world in Nepal.

british-3.7-inch-anti-aircraft-guns-in-action-near-tobruk-during-a-night-raid-1940-loc
Both images via the Library of Congress.

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