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The colors inside the sardine can

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.

Submarine officer sights through a periscope in the submarine’s control room, during training exercises at the Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut, in August 1943 80-G-K-16013

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.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Le porte-drapeau de l’Armée

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.

A mounted officer, 1877, via the Art Institute of Chicago

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.

L’armée française – 1.er volume by Édouard Detaille vol 1 title page showing the old Napoleanic Army meeting the 1880s modern French infantry Credit line: (c) Royal Academy of Arts

Officier Indigene de Tirailleurs Algeriens

Sapeurs du Génie Tenue de Campagne

Grenadier de la Garde Impériale Rezonville, 1870

Hussards (Hussars)

French Carabiniers, 1806

French Ecole Spéciale Militaire, 1885

French Chasseur a Cheval

French cavalry

French campement de Zouaves, 1886

Etat-major d’un général de division

French hussards de l’Armée du Rhine, 1790s

Fantasia de Spahis

‘Officier de dragons.’; Édouard Detaille, Types et uniformes : l’armée française, https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/work-of-art/O27687
Credit line: (c) Royal Academy of Arts

French Tirailleurs Indigènes Grande Tenue

The Defense of Champigny during the Battle of Villiers, 1870. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. MET DT259753

click to bigup

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.

Carabiniers à Cheval en Russie, 1893

The Cossacks of the Imperial Russian Guard

He was busy working on uniform images right up until his last days.

Test uniforms created in 1912 by Édouard Detaille for the French line infantry. From left to right : trumpet in parade uniform, private in service uniform and kepi, private 1st class in parade uniform, private in service uniform and leather helmet, officer in parade uniform, officer in service uniform and bonnet de police (side cap), private in field uniform and leather helmet, private in field uniform and kepi. Via Musée de l’Armée/Wiki.

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.

The last stand…

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.

Via Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-28614 / 2012647443

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”.

 

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019: That time an icebreaker took on a (pocket) battleship

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.”

“SS Bonaventure. First arrival from the seal fishery, March 28, 1911, with 26,289 old and young seals” via Newfoundland Quarterly”

Image from page 24 of “Newfoundland Quarterly 1909-11” (1909) https://archive.org/stream/nfldquart190911uoft/nfldquart190911uoft#page/n24/mode/1up

The S.S. Bellaventure, 467 tons, was engaged in the Canadian seal fishery for seven springs, 1909-1915. Her record year was 1910, 35,816 seals; her total was 112,135. Source: http://bonavistanorth.blogspot.com/2007/08/ss-bellaventure.html

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.

Note her gun tub forward. She would pick up a 45mm gun on the stern in 1942 as well as a couple of machine guns

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.

Academian and Hero of the Soviet Union Otto Schmidt, somewhere in the icepack, more about him below

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.

German Pocket Battleship DEUTSCHLAND Drawing of 1941 rig. Inset ADMIRAL SCHEER. German – CA (DEUTSCHLAND Class) 1941 NH 110853

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.

Stern 28 cm/52 Turret on Admiral Scheer in mid-1939. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 80897.

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.

Russian Icebreaker ALEXANDER SIBIRIEKOV Afire and sinking in the Barents Sea North of Murmansk after being attacked by the German cruiser ADMIRAL SCHEER in August 1942 survivors on the raft at right. NH 71384

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.

NH 71385 Sinking Of The Russian Icebreaker ALEXANDER SIBIRIEKOV as seen from Scheer, note rescued Soviet sailors on deck. The men would spend the next decade in German and Soviet camps.

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.

Kacharava (1910-1982)

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.

The battle of the icebreaker Alexander Sibiryakov with the cruiser Admiral Scheer by PP Pavlinov, 1945.

The last fight of the icebreaker Alexander Sibiryakov 25 August 1942. By Michael Uspensky

As for Scheer, she was sunk by British bombers in 1945 and partially salvaged, with her remains currently buried beneath a quay in Kiel.

Specs:


Displacement: 1132 grt / 471 nrt (as designed)
Length: 241-feet
Beam: 35.8-feet
Draft: 16.9-feet
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

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.

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Call me sentimenal

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.

Battleship No. 1, USS Indiana. Commissioned 20 November 1895, she served in the Spanish-American War (in combat) and WWI (as a training ship), then was sunk in shallow water as a target in aerial bombing tests in 1920. NH 105567

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.

Black Ponies at 50

Vietnam War-era patch for the Black Ponies of Light Attack Squadron (VAL) 4 via NAAM

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.

Look at that loadout…not bad for “light” attack

A U.S. Navy Rockwell OV-10A Bronco of light attack squadron VAL-4 Black Ponies attacking a target with a 12.7 cm (5 in) “Zuni” rocket in the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam, ca. 1969/70. PHC R.A. Hill, USN – Official U.S. Navy photograph No. 1139900 via National Naval Aviation Museum

U.S. Navy North American OV-10D Bronco (BuNo 155472) at the U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation shown in the VAL-4 livery complete with “UM” tail flash and Ponies crest. Originally an OV-10A which flew with The Black Ponies during the Vietnam War, she was transferred to the Marines after the unit was disestablished converted to a “D” model, retaining the aircraft in USMC service until 1991. She is one of only 14 Broncos on display in the U.S.

 

Happy New Year, guys!

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!

Soviet New Year Red partisan propaganda card (S Novym godom), 1942, after all, the Communists couldn’t celebrate Christmas, but everyone loves New Years. Good symbolism with the grizzled “old” year leaving followed by the new, fresh-faced young new year arriving. And yes, I’m loving the PPSH-41 and MP40 combo

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