When we see photos of submarine interiors from the WWII-era, there is a general monochrome aspect to them due to the B&W nature and washed out “copy of a copy” life span of such imagery.
Well, the USS Cod Submarine Memorial has done the research and determined that the inside of a sub actually had a lot of colors, and are acting accordingly by painting their electrical control boxes gloss black, lockers gray, flashlight bins flat orange, and torpedo pyrotechnic casks red.
It seems that most of the remaining vessels passed into museum status after years as USNRF trainers in the 1950s and 60s, during which the old, “If it moves: salute it. If it doesn’t move: pick it up. If you can’t pick it up: paint it,” mantra came into play during drills and the only paint available was haze gray– so everything got a coat or seven.
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: Le porte-drapeau de l’Armée
Jean-Baptiste Édouard Detaille was born in Paris in 1848, notably while Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was President and before the aforementioned leader seized power and proclaimed himself Napoleon III, the sole emperor of the Second French Empire.
Detaille, using family connections that dated back to the original Napoleon, studied with noted military painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier in the 1860s and traveled abroad to North Africa and the Mediterranean in his late teens, which helped influence his later work.
Detalille himself had served during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, as a young man, in the 8e Bataillon d’Infanterie Mobile, later attached to the staff of Gen, Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot, commander of the 2e Armee in defense of Paris. So you could say that the artist knew something of what he painted.
His two-volume/150 plate “L’Armee Francaise. Types et Uniformes,” published in 1885 (Paris, Boussod, Valson et Cie,) on Japanese paper, is an epic work of 19th Century uniforms. Many of these images come from that volume.
Le rêve (The Dream), above, by Edouard Detaille, painted in 1888, depicts French soldiers asleep in their camp with the first rays of dawn on the horizon. These young conscripts of the Third Republic are seen during summer maneuvers, probably Champagne, at the time it painted. They dream of the glory of the Grand Armee of Napoleon, then of taking revenge for the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. This was one of the most popular propaganda pieces of the interwar period between 1871-1914 in France and indirectly helped stir the pot on WWI. It is currently at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
After the Russo-French Rapprochement in 1891, he took to covering the uniforms of the Republic’s newfound allies.
He was busy working on uniform images right up until his last days.
The artist died in 1912 in Paris, aged 64, only months before The Guns of August forever removed all of the romantic notions of beautiful uniforms with red trousers and shiny cuirasses from warfare.
Thank you for your work, sir.
Although created 120 years ago, I thought the below chromolithograph cartoon was still hyper-relevant today. It was published in the July 9, 1899 issue of Puck, the iconic humorist magazine of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Besides, you have to love Newton with a Gatling gun that fires facts.
Entitled, “The last stand – science versus superstition,” the print shows five men labeled “Newton, Abbott, Briggs, Savage, [and] Adler” and one man holding a flag that states “Think or be Damned”, with a machine gun labeled “History, Archaeology, Evolution, Enlightenment, [and] Geology” among boxes of ammunition labeled “Scientific Facts, Historical Facts, [and] Rational Religion” taking aim at a group of clergy on the drawbridge of a castle labeled “Medieval Dogmatism” armed with halberds and a banner that states “Believe or be Damned”.
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, Jan. 9, 2019: That time an icebreaker took on a (pocket) battleship
Here we see the hardy Soviet steel screw steamer/icebreaker Alexander Sibiryakov with a homemade sail rig somewhere in the frozen Northern Sea Route in 1932. Built as a Canadian sealer, she sailed into maritime history when it came to polar exploration and met her end at the hands of a bruiser who was many times her match.
Ordered from the Scottish shipbuilding firm of D & W Henderson & Co., Glasgow as the SS Bellaventure by the Bellaventure S.S. Co. Ltd. of St. John’s Newfoundland in 1908, she was not very large (1132 grt / 471 nrt, 241-feet overall) but was designed to withstand the rigors of the polar seal trade. Completed the next year, she made seven trips searching for the lucrative marine mammals. Steam heated and electric-lighted, she could steam at 10 knots, burning through 13 tons of coal per day until her 292-ton bunker was bare. With accommodations for a 15-man crew, she could also accommodate 10 passengers in five staterooms that had access to a separate saloon that was “handsomely fitted up.”
When the Great War erupted, the Tsar was soon looking for ice-protected ships as the Ottoman Turks’ entry into the conflict shut off the Black Sea and, with the Baltic barred by the Germans, Russia was a proverbial boarded-up house that could only be entered by the chimney– the frozen Barents Sea harbor of Murmansk (then just a hamlet with primitive facilities) and the White Sea port of Arkhangelsk.
Purchased by Russia in 1916, she was renamed Alexander Sibiryakov in honor of a gold mine magnate who financed a number of improvements in Siberia as well as various scientific expeditions and historical research projects. As a shooting war was on, she was given a high-angle 76mm gun, largely for appearance sake as German U-boats and surface raiders were scarce in the Barents during WWI.
Briefly used by the White Russians of Lt. Gen. Eugen Ludwig Müller (also often seen as “EK Miller” in the West) during his control of the Kola Peninsula where he had declared himself Governor-General of Northern Russia in the resulting power vacuum that followed in the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Sibiryakov was operated for a time commercially by the British Ellerman’s Wilson Line concern (the British were propping up the Whites) and helped evacuate Muller and his bunch to Norway when the Bolsheviks captured his former fiefdom in 1920.
Sibiryakov was returned to the Reds who, from 1921 onward, sent her into the White Sea to support the Russian the hunting industry, and provide the various Soviet polar stations wintering of the Arctic Ocean with food, equipment, and fuel.
The icebreaker managed to become the first ship in history to complete the 2,500-mile Northern Sea Route in one season when it was traveled by Otto Yulievich Schmidt’s expedition in 1932. The expedition left Arkhangelsk on July 28 commanded by CPT. Vladimir Voronin who, along with Schmidt and his deputy, Prof. Vladimir Wiese, rounded the North Land archipelago from the north and reached the Chukchi Sea in August. From there they had to power through solid ice, repair the hull in several places, free the prop (breaking her shaft) and finally sail the final leg out into the Bearing Strait at about the speed of flotsam on homemade sails made from tarps, old blankets and sheets after total engineering casualties, reaching Yokohama from there with the assistance of a tow from a Soviet fishing trawler in the Northern Pacific on 1 October.
When WWII came to Russia in 1941, courtesy of Barbarossa, Sibiryakov was taken up from academic and commercial service and placed in the Red Navy for the duration of the Great Patriotic War or her destruction, whichever came first.
Speaking of which, her still armed only with some machine guns and her 1915-vintage Tarnovsky-Lender 76mm popgun, she bumped into the Deutschland-class heavy cruiser (Panzerschiffe= armored ship, but commonly just termed “pocket battleship”) Admiral Scheer one day while out among the ice.
The big German, at 15,000-tons, carried a half-dozen 28 cm/52 (11″) SK C/28 naval guns and knew how to use them.
Sailing as part of Operation Wunderland with three destroyers and a number of U-boats, Scheer aimed to penetrate the Kara Sea where they knew Soviets shipping tended to congregate as it was somewhat of a Russian lake, akin to the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S.– only a lot colder.
Encountering Scheer off Belukha Island near Middendorff Bay, the 13-knot icebreaker could not run and, rather than strike their flag, engaged the cruiser on 24 August. It was a short fight as Scheer‘s belt was 3.1-inches of armor while Sibiryakov‘s was – zero – in addition to the gross imbalance in armaments. It was all over within an hour.
Of the icebreaker’s 100~ man crew, only her skipper, 32-year-old Senior Lt. Anatoly Alekseevich Kacharava, and 18 crew members were pulled from the water by the Scheer while one man, a stoker by the name of Vavilov, was able to make it to shore on a leaky liferaft where he survived for a month among the polar bears on Belukha Island before he was finally rescued by a passing seaplane.
Many of the Soviet mariners captured never made it home from German POW camps.
Worse, those who survived long enough to be repatriated after the war were sent to the gulag (thanks, Uncle Joe!) for several years as were many returning Soviet POWs. In 1961, Kacharava, along with the other survivor, was declared “rehabilitated” and awarded the Order of the Red Banner nearly two decades after their pitched battle. He returned to the merchant service, skippering ships along the Northern Sea Route, and headed the Georgian Shipping Company in the 1970s, retiring to Batumi.
He died in 1982.
However, the act of trying to fight it out with a beast of a cruiser landed the humble Sibiryakov a solid spot in Russian naval lore and relics of the ship are venerated today in the country while she has been repeatedly portrayed in Soviet maritime art.
As for Scheer, she was sunk by British bombers in 1945 and partially salvaged, with her remains currently buried beneath a quay in Kiel.
Displacement: 1132 grt / 471 nrt (as designed)
Engines: T3cyl (22.5, 37, 61 x 42in), 347nhp, 1-screw
Speed: 13 knots
Crew (1942) 100
Armament: 1 x 76mm Tarnovsky-Lender M1914/15 8-K gun, 1x45mm gun (added 1942), machine guns
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So like any salty sea dog, I have a number of illustrations upon my skin in the best traditions of Danish kings and scurvy-ridden members of Neptune’s realm. One I had applied this week I thought was kind of unique. While I have sea monkeys, dragons and the like, I always wanted a ship in a bottle as well, and finally figured out just which ship I wanted in a glass.
Recognize the battleship? Of course, it was the first “warship” I fell in love with– the battleship game piece from Monopoly! I remember, um, borrowing it from the game set at my grandfather’s at about age 6 and keeping it as a good luck charm in my pocket daily for years. As a reference, Parker Brothers has used roughly the same piece since 1937 and it appeared in both the strategy games Conflict and Diplomacy as well over the years.
Anachronistic when introduced in the Depression, the piece is closest to the Navy’s earliest 1890s-era pre-dreadnoughts of the Indiana and Iowa classes, with main battery turret guns forward and aft, a tall mast forward, and two funnels.
As all of those vessels had left the fleet in the 1920s– replaced by actual dreadnoughts– they were conspicuously old-fashioned even when Monopoly first debuted.
Kind of like myself.
On 3 January 1969, the Navy established Light Attack Squadron (VAL) 4, the famed “Black Ponies.”
Prior to its disestablishment on 10 April 1972, the squadron flew OV-10 Broncos on hot-and-heavy close air support missions in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam supporting not only Navy and Marine forces but also ARVN, South Vietnamese Navy, and U.S. Army detachments as well. It was a wild 40-month ride, all of it in forward-deployed.
I hope your 2018 is finding its way out in acceptable fashion. Thank you for reading and following.
Here’s to a great 2019!
Oh, and of course, Victory will be Ours!