Category Archives: military art

Cold Warriors in Kodachrome

Official caption: “A Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 2 (HC-2) SH-3G Sea King helicopter takes off from the stern of the dock landing ship USS Mount Vernon (LSD 39). A Mark 33 3-inch/50-caliber anti-aircraft gun is in the foreground.”

Note that the autoloaders on the Mk33 are filled with 13-pound shells at the ready while the Sea King, likely of the “Desert Ducks” detachment out of Bahrain, has a beautiful full-color livery.

U.S. Navy image DN-ST-88-03592 via NARA.

Filed October 1987 in the Persian Gulf by PH2 (SW) Jeffrey Elliott, this image dates from Operation Earnest Will in the midst of the Tanker War phase of the Iran-Iraq war which saw Kuwaiti-owned tankers reflagged as American vessels and placed under the protection of the Navy.

Mount Vernon, a 14,000-ton Anchorage-class dock landing ship, was commissioned in 1972 and, as with the other four members of her class, had been fitted with a quartet of MK 33 twin 3-inch AAA DP mounts when constructed, a system that first entered service in 1948.

Another Mount Vernon shot from 1987. The 16-ton MK33 twin mount had a AAA ceiling of 30,400 feet and a surface engagement range of 14,600 yards, capable of 40-50 rounds per minute per gun, at least until the auto-loader ran out. They required an 11-man crew. It was believed one Mk33 was successful in an AAA role, with USS Biddle (DLG-34) credited with damaging a North Vietnamese MiG fighter in the Tonkin Gulf on 19 July 1972.

The fire-control directors for these dated mounts, of questionable use even in the 1970s, were removed from the Anchorage class during the Carter administration, while the first two tubs and then the last four were deleted by the early 1990s as the weapon was sunsetted. They were replaced by a pair of CIWS and another pair of Mk 38 25mm chain guns during late-career refits.

Mount Vernon would be decommissioned on 25 July 2003, the same year the last of her class left active service and was sunk as a target two years later.

The last 3-inch guns in U.S. maritime service were the 3″/50 singles on the 210-foot Reliance class cutters of the Coast Guard, which were removed during the completion of the cutters’ midlife maintenance availability in 1996.

As for the mighty Sea King, which first entered Navy service in 1961, they retired in late 2006 when the final unarmed UH-3H model was paid off from support duty at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, although the “white top” VH-3Ds of Marine One would continue to serve for much longer.

A U.S. Navy Sikorsky VH-3A Sea King (BuNo 150613) and an SH-3G of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 2 (HC-2) stand on the flight line following their arrival at the Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia (USA), in 1991. HC-2 was the last squadron that operated the type, finally retiring them in 2006 for H-60 models. Photo by Capt. Joe Mancias, USN – U.S. DefenseImagery photo VIRIN: DN-ST-91-07128.

Vermont, heading out

How about these epic shots via General Dynamics Electric Boat of the Block IV Virginia-class hunter killer USS Vermont (SSN-792) heading out from the Groton shipyard on sea trials on 6 May following her Post Shakedown Availability (PSA).

She is the 19th boat of the class and the third vessel of the Navy to be named for the U.S. state of Vermont, following in the wake of the Great White Fleet era Connecticut class battleship and an unfinished ship of the line authorized in 1816.

Marshal-Admiral, departing

80 years ago today: The ashes of Marshal-Admiral (posthumous) Isoroku Yamamoto return to the Empire of Japan aboard the Yamato-class super dreadnought Musashi, 23 May 1943, his last flagship, prior to a full state funeral to be held two weeks later.

He had been eliminated the month prior in a special mission (Operation Vengeance), in which P-38 Lightnings from the 339th Fighter Squadron downed his relatively lightly escorted transport bomber over Bougainville.

“Mission Accomplished” by Roy Grinnell, depicting Lt Rex Barber downing Yamamoto’s Betty, 18 April 1943

Legend had it he was found in the jungle, thrown clear of the wreckage, his white-gloved hand grasping the hilt of his katana, still upright in his seat under a tree. Less widely disseminated was that he was the recipient of a burst of .50 cal tracer.

While Yamamoto had indeed “run amok” across the Pacific for the first six months of the war, his track record for the last 10 months of his command was by far less successful. The command baton for the Combined Fleet would be passed to Admiral Mineichi Koga, who would also be killed when his plane went down in March 1944.

While Musashi has long been on the bottom of the Pacific, Yamamoto’s G4M1 Model 11 Betty, Manufacture Number 2656, Tail 323, is still on Bougainville and is a popular, if remote, attraction for those who know.

Happy 101st, Mr. Miskelly

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Southwest recently saluted the 101st birthday of a WWII-era Coastie, Lewis Miskelly Jr.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1922, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts prior to the conflict and volunteered for the Coast Guard just after Pearl Harbor. While not an official war artist, he painted what he saw while in Atlantic convoy duty on the Coast Guard Cutter Mojave (WPG-47), a 240-foot Tampa-class cutter.

Shown here is the ‘Tampa’ class gunboat type cutter USCG Mojave (WPG-47), 1942, operating amid ice floes off Greenland.

As noted by the USCG Historian’s Office during that period:

Mojave was assigned to the Greenland patrol in 1942, where she took part in convoy escort and rescue operations. While acting as escort for the slow group of Convoy SG–6 which had departed Sydney, Nova Scotia 25 August, she assisted in the rescue of 570 men from the torpedoed army transport Chatham. The escort and antisubmarine accomplishments of the cutters were truly vital to the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Miskelly’s paintings: 

And in the Pacific while on the the Coast Guard-manned General G. O. Squier-class troop transport USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134).

USS General R.L. Howze (AP-134) anchored off Manus Island, Marshall Islands, circa 1944-45.

Commissioned in early 1944, Howze completed 11 voyages to the combat areas of the Pacific, before returning to San Francisco 15 October 1945, carrying troops and supplies to New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Manus, Eniwetok, and “many other islands as the rising tide of the Navy’s amphibious offensive swept toward Japan.”

As for Miskelly, in a recent profile by The Press Democrat:

When he was 52, he learned how to surf. He cruised the waves of Pacifica and Santa Cruz until he was 85. He does tai chi everyday and still loves biking and driving his car.

For most of his life, he worked as a structural engineer and naval architect, which took he, his late wife June and four kids from Marconi to Petaluma in 1963. He worked until he was 75.

Thank you for your service, and your work, Mr. Miskelly.

Warship Wednesday, May 17, 2023: Hugo’s Everlasting Clouds

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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, May 17, 2023: Hugo’s Everlasting Clouds

Swedish Marinmuseum photo identifier D 8751

Above we see a nice view of the Royal Swedish Navy drawn up at Karlskrona, circa 9 July 1904, dressed for Queen Sofia’s 68th birthday. The line includes an array of immaculate coastal battleships (pansarbat) and cruisers to the left including Oden, Aran, Wasa, Tapperheten, Thule, Thor, and Gota; the sleek new Yarrow-built destroyer (Sweden’s first) Mode, center, and, foreground, the 850-ton torpedkryssare (torpedo cruiser/torpedo boat tender) Psilander.

Directly in front of the dowdy Psilander is the old training brig Falken. To the right, floating like clouds, are the twin new gleaming skeppsgossefartygeten (ships boys ships) Najaden and Jarramas.

While everything you see has long since been scrapped, the two tall ships have endured.

HM Övningsfartyg

Designed by famed Swedish naval engineer Hjalmar Hugo Lilliehøøk– who had a hand in every single one of the above vessels– Najaden (Swedish for Naiad, or water nymph) was the first of the twins and was built at Orlogsverftet in Karlskrona in Sweden in 1897 as a training ship (Övningsfartyg) for the Swedish Navy. As such, she would be at the disposal of the Skeppsgossekaren (The Ship’s Boy Corps), a formation that dated back to 1685 and was responsible for recruiting, raising, and training young boys in the art of seamanship.

The beautiful three-masted full-rigger– claimed by many to be the smallest made– Najaden was compact, at just 160 feet overall, counting her bowsprit, and could carry a full 24 sheets including jibs and staysails although the typical 16-sheet rig used covered over 8,000 sq. ft. of canvas by itself.

With a draft of just 12 feet, she was capable of speeds as fast as 17 knots, her main mast towering 82 feet above her deck.

Swedish Royal Navy sail training ship HMS Najaden

At some 335 tons, she was much larger than the circa 1877-built Falken (Falcon), which drew only 110 tons on her 77-foot length. This allowed Najaden to carry a crew of 20-25 professional cadre and as many as 100 naval cadets and boy sailors, easily three times those on the smaller Falken. Her typical complement was 118, including 92 boys. Her regular year-round crew consisted of 5 officers, 6 NCOs, a ship’s doctor, and 14 ratings, almost all of which served as instructors as well.

For an armament, used primarily for training and signaling, she carried a small arms locker of rifles and pistols, a pair of 3-pounder 47mm guns, and a quartet of 1-pounder 37mm pieces.

Najaden proved so successful that an updated sister ship, Jarramas, was ordered from the same yard in 1899. The pair differed in construction when it came to hull material, with Najaden sporting an iron hull and Jarramas using steel. As such, Jarramas was the last sailing vessel to be built at Orlogsverftet, the end of an era. She carried the name of King Charles XII’s famed circa 1716 frigate, which was a Swedish corruption of the Turkish word for “mischievous.”

Jarramas proved even faster than her sister, logging 18.3 knots on at least one occasion. Neither ship was ever fitted with engines although by most accounts they did have generators for electrical lights and ventilation fans.

Övningsskepp typ Jarrasmas och Najaden

Jarramas under segel. Note the colorized accents to the flags and bow crest. D 14975_1

Jarramas under inspektion D 8874

Jarramas MM01916

HM Övningsfartyget Jarramas DO14939.126

Every spring the ships were rigged to run summertime trips to Bohuslän on Sweden’s West Coast or along the Gulf of Bothnia on the East Coast, stopping at various Baltic ports. Happy duty.

Najadens besättning 1902 D 8766


During the Great War, both ships canceled their summer trips and were used by the Swedish Navy as receiving ships and dockside training vessels, their classroom space was used to school recruits.

Once the guns of August fell silent again, they resumed their former schedules.

Najaden 1923 D 15061_14

Najaden 1923 D 15061_12

Najaden 1923 D 15061_3

Jarramas 1924, Lübeck D 15061_49

Gruppbild ombord Najaden 1923 D 15061_2

Swedish Royal Navy sail training ship HMS Najaden photographed off Karlskrona in 1933, sister Jarramas in the distance

Jane’s 1931 listing for Falken, Najaden, and Jarramas. Falken would be disposed of in 1943 after 66 years of service.

In 1939, the old Skeppsgossekaren was replaced by the newer Sjömansskolan, which still exists.

Najaden at the time was demasted and laid up, used during WWII as a stationary receiving ship.

Postwar, she was then towed to Torekov just south of Halmstad to serve as a breakwater. Her name was quickly reissued to a Neptun-class submarine that would commission in 1943 and serve through the 1960s.

Neptun-class Ubat Najaden underway, July 1953, at Hårsfjärden.

Meanwhile, Jarramas lingered in service until 1948, including use as a training ship in protected waters during WWII.

Post War Rescue

Najaden, in poor material condition and without her masts, canvas, or rigging, was saved by an outpouring of support by the people of the west coast city of Halmstad, who in the 1950s paid for a non-sailing restoration at Karlskrona that saw new masts stepped and some of her rigging plan restored.

She endured this “town ship” mission until 2013, during which she was twice again rebuilt (1989 and 1990-1996) and would host sea scouts, festivals, local events, and parties. A floating fixture of the community. In 2014, she was sold to a new group of enthusiasts who towed her to a new homeport in Fredrikstad in Norway, where her preservation continues.

Although not seaworthy, she is still used for seminars and conferences, lectures, concerts, and other activities, lying by the quay.

They hope to one day make her seaworthy once again, under a Norwegian flag. Of note, when she was built, Norway and Sweden were unified, so in a sense, she has a bit of Norwegian heritage as well. 

As for Jarramas, replaced by the new 128-foot training schooners HMS Gladan (S01) and HMS Falken (S02) in 1947, her days in the Swedish Navy came to an end.

However, just as Najaden was saved at Halmstad, Jarramas was saved by the city of Karlskrona where she was preserved as a museum ship and coffee shop of all things. Extensively renovated over the years, she reportedly requires extensive continuous maintenance, which led her to be taken over by the Marinmuseum in 1997.

Today, Jarramas is the centerpiece of the Marinmuseum in Karlskrona, preserved as Sweden’s last full rigger, alongside the minesweeper HMS Bremön, the motor torpedo boat T38, the Cold War era fast attack craft HMS Västervik, and the submarines HMS Neptun and HMS Hajen.

The minesweeper Bremön (rear), the FAC Västervik, and the full rigger Jarramas at the pier by the Marinmuseum in Karlskrona.

It’s great to see that both sisters are still with us.

Meanwhile, the Swedes still use the gleaming white circa 1940s skolfartyg schooners Gladan and Falken as the nation’s tall ship training squadron.

HMS Falken (S02)

They are assigned to the Skonertdivisionen at the Naval Academy and are based in Karlskrona, nearby the old Jarramas.

Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a

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.

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.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Keeping Clean

80 Years Ago this month. A great original Kodachrome. Official caption: “Sergeant Elms of 16/5 Lancers and his tank crew at El Aroussa; Trooper Bates, Royal Armoured Corps, Signalman Bower, Royal Corps of Signals, and Trooper Goddard, Royal Armoured Corps, clean the 6-pounder gun of their Crusader tank while preparing for the drive on Tunis..”

By War Office official photographer Loughlin, G. (Lieutenant), IWM TR 939

The 16th/5th Queen’s Royal Lancers was formed in 1922 by amalgamating the 16th The Queen’s Lancers and the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, both of which were in India at the time.

As noted by the National Army Museum:

The new unit was posted back to Britain in 1926, before returning to India in 1937. It was still there on the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-45). Still a mounted regiment at the time, it sailed for England in January 1940 to mechanise.

The regiment initially provided motorised machine-gun troops to defend Britain against possible German invasion in the autumn of 1940. Once that threat had gone, it switched to training on Valentine and Matilda tanks in November 1940.

It deployed to Tunisia in November 1942, where it was re-equipped with Sherman tanks the following year. It then fought at Kasserine and in the final capture of Tunis in 1943.

In January 1944, the regiment landed at Naples. The mountainous Italian terrain was ill-suited to armoured warfare and so its soldiers often ended up operating as infantry. By the time of the German surrender in Italy in May 1945, the 16th/5th Lancers had pushed the furthest west of any unit in the Eighth Army, linking up with the Americans.

Post-war, the 16th/5th served as occupation troops in Austria, then a stint in Egypt, multiple deployments to West Germany, Aden, Cyprus, Beirut, Northern Ireland, and, finally, the First Gulf War before it was amalgamated in 1995 with the 17th/21st Lancers to form The Queen’s Royal Lancers, which was later merged in 2015 with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) to form The Royal Lancers of today.

Warhawk Close-up

80 years ago. North African Campaign, Tunisia, May 1943: A great shot of a Curtiss P-40K-1-CU Warhawk from the 64th Fighter Squadron (The Black Scorpions), 57th Fighter Group, of Ninth Air Force, USAAF. The ground crewman is riding the wing to relay to the pilot to avoid ground obstacles that the aviator at the controls of the tail dragger is unable to see due to the angle. 

Via LIFE Archives

The above aircraft is “White 13” (SN 42-46040), “Savoy” assigned to 22-year-old 1st LT (later Capt.) Robert Johnson “Jay’ Overcash, and was likely taken either at Hani Airfield or Bou Grara Airfield in North Africa. Note the dot-dot-dot-dash (Morse= V) code and black scorpion on the aircraft’s fuselage along with the disembodied skull. Does it get any more moto?

The image was snapped just a couple weeks after the 64th Squadron famously mixed it up over the Sicilian straits with a German air convoy on 18 April during which 74 enemy planes, mostly transports, were claimed destroyed. The event was known in the 57th FG as “The Palm Sunday Massacre.”

Soon after this image was taken, 46040 was transferred further East to a Chinese KMT AF training unit in Karachi, India, and would be wrecked at Malir Air Base, India on 30 September, with the pilot trainee at the stick killed.

The unit, constituted as the 64th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940, would end the war flying P-47s on interdiction and support operations in northern Italy.

In all, Overcash would be credited with 5 victories, an ace, the last two flying White 13 (then a P-47) on 26 April 1944, while escorting USAAF B-25s and RAF Baltimores on a bombing mission. Post-war, he transferred to the new U.S. Air Force and retired in 1980 as a U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel.

Today, the 64th Aggressor Squadron of the 57th Adversary Tactics Group is still around, located at Nellis AFB Nevada.

Peak Knox, underway

A beautiful photo essay on the Knox-class destroyer escort/fast frigate USS Donald B. Beary (DE/FF 1085), seen circa April 1989 off Hampton Roads. This is a great example of the class in its final weapon fit, which was undoubtedly its best including an SLQ-32, an MK-16 8-cell ASROC matchbox (with 8 reloads) that could also carry Harpoons in two cells, the Mk 42 5-inch gun, Sea Sprite hangar, towed array, and stern CIWS. 

These are U.S. Navy photos DN-SN-90-08276 through -08284 by photographer PH2 Vise, available in a much larger format in the National Archives.

Awarded 25 August 1966 to Avondale Shipyards, Inc., in Westwego, Louisiana, the only ship named for WWII Navy Cross recipient RADM Donald B. Beary was commissioned on 22 July 1972 at Boston NSY.

Following 19 years of service, at the conclusion of the Cold War, she was reclassified as a training frigate (FFT 1085) in 1991 as part of the failed NRF Frigate program which she was a part of for a few years before she was struck in 1995 and transferred to Turkey, renamed TCG Karadeniz (F-255).

While manpower-intensive due to their 1960s steam plants, a modern version with a diesel-electric plant and much-reduced manning would be a great ASW/ASuW asset today, especially if fitted with a VL-ASROC, MK 45 5″/62, and 16 NSMs. You know, kinda what the LCS should have been. 

A ‘Triumph of British Ceremonial Excellence’

In what is being billed as “the largest UK military ceremonial operation for 70 years,” even more sweeping in scope than the late Queen’s funeral, King Charlie was installed over the weekend.

While I have no love for the shitshow that is the British Royal family, you have to admit the pageantry was splendid, including the Guards doing what they are known for as well as marching units from the Army Air Corps, Paras, RMs, and the like.

If you are a fan of military uniforms and units, it was a treat.

The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery performing a 6-gun salvo salute on Horse Guards Parade Ground as part of the Coronation of King Charles III

As noted by MoD:

More than 7,000 soldiers, sailors, and aviators from across the UK and Commonwealth participated in ceremonial activities across processions, flypasts, and gun salutes marking the historic event. With around 200 personnel providing a Guard of Honour at Buckingham Palace, together this made up the largest UK military ceremonial operation for 70 years. As well as marching detachments from across the Household Division, Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force, more than 400 troops from the Commonwealth nations and British Overseas Territories were on parade.

And three good (short) videos of the event, the sweeping gun salutes, and the behind the scenes:


Insult to Inury

80 Years Ago Today: The 6th of May, 1943, near Tunis, Algeria. 1st. Lt. Jerry Collinsworth, USAAF, thumbs his nose at the pilot of a German Luftwaffe Fw190 he just shot down. This was the fourth of six victories scored by Collinsworth, all were Fw190s, all achieved in his Spitfire.

Col. Jerry D. Collinsworth, born in 1919 in Dublin, Texas, was one of the few Americans to become an “ace” flying the British-made Supermarine Spitfire in World War II. Volunteering for the U.S. Army Air Corps in August 1941, by late 1942 he was a pilot in the 307th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Pursuit Group in Europe and North Africa, where he would log 125 sorties, first in P-39 Airacobras and then in Mk. V Spitfires.

Between February and July 1943, he shot down six Axis aircraft along with one probable and one damaged.

“As I said, I shot down one a month. A couple of them bailed out. I even went back and thumbed my nose at one of them,” noted Collinsworth in a 2002 interview.

In all, just nine USAAF fighter squadrons (2nd, 4th, 5th of the 52nd FG; 307th, 308th, 309th of the 31st FG, and 334th, 335th, 336th– formerly “Eagle Squadrons” Nos. 71, 121, 133 RAF– of the 4th FG) flew “Spits” during WWII. Meanwhile, five reccee squadrons (13th, 14th, 16th, 22nd, and 111th) utilized a handful of Spitfire PR.XI photo birds and the U.S. Navy’s Cruiser Scouting Squadron Seven (VCS-7) flew Spitfire VBs instead of their floatplanes off Normandy in June-July 1944.

A Spitfire of the 307th Fighter Squadron “Stingers” after an emergency landing on the beaches of Paestum, Italy. In the background, LST 359 is beached at shore. (Incidentally, the 307th still exists, flying the F-15E Strike Eagle from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina while the ship, USS LST-359 was sunk by torpedo attack, on 20 December 1944, by the German submarine U-870 in the eastern Atlantic.)

Finishing the war stateside as a flight instructor, Collinsworth later became certified on jets and flew F-94s, F-104s, and F-100s, retiring as a full bird in 1965.

Postwar, he served as a Professor of Aerospace Studies at Southern Methodist University in Texas and, passing in 2010, is interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix, Section 18D, Site 1891.

« Older Entries