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Warship Wednesday, April 19, 2017: The busy year of the Raiders’ taxi service

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, April 19, 2017: The busy year of the Raiders’ taxi service

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-16865

Here we see the Yorktown-class carrier, USS Hornet (CV-8), as she arrives at Pearl Harbor after the Doolittle Raid on Japan, 30 April 1942. Note PT-28 and PT-29 speeding by in the foreground. If this image doesn’t scream “war in the Pacific” nothing else does. It should be noted that this photo was taken 75 years ago this month.

Starting with the “covered wagon” that was the converted collier USS Langley, and moving through a pair of huge converted battlecruisers USS Lexington and Saratoga, and the Navy’s first flattop designed from the keel up, USS Ranger, gave the Navy four lessons learned over a 15-year period in carrier design and development which led to the Yorktown class.

Designed in the early 1930s, these 19,800-ton vessels (26,000 fl) were nice floating landing strips some 824-feet long. Equipped with two catapults on the flight deck and a (useless) hangar deck level cat, these straight deck carriers featured three elevators and could accommodate a 90-plane air wing. Fast, at 32.5-knots, they could outstrip submarines and most battleships of the era, and a smattering of 5″/38, 1.1″/75 quads, and water-cooled Browning .50 cals provided defense against 1930s-era small surface combatants and planes. With long legs (12,500nm at 16 knots) they could travel the Pacific or Atlantic with ease and minimal tanker support.

Class leader, Yorktown (CV-5), was laid down in 1934 and made it to the fleet three years later, followed by the famous Enterprise (CV-6). The subject of our tale was the 7th USS Hornet on the Navy List and, like her two sisters was laid down at Newport News.

USS HORNET (CV-8) View taken while in drydock at Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Virginia, from directly ahead, while in process of completion. View taken on 17 September 1941. Paint scheme appears to be peacetime “haze gray.” Catalog #: 19-N-26389

Hornet was commissioned 20 October 1941, two years after the rest of the world entered WWII and two months before the United States did the same. Her first commander was a scrappy fellow by the name of Captain Marc A. Mitscher.

USS Hornet (CV-8) Photographed circa late 1941, soon after completion, probably at a U.S. east coast port. A ferry boat and Eagle Boat (PE) are in the background. Catalog #: NH 81313

When the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, Hornet was in Norfolk but was made ready for war in the Pacific, losing her .50cals in exchange for Oerlikon 20mm guns and picking up a camo scheme.

USS HORNET (CV-8) At Pier 7, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, in February 1942. Planes visible in foreground at the forward end of the flight deck are Grumman F4F-4s (VF-8) and a Curtiss SBC-4 from either VS-8 or VB-8. Note rat guards on lines in the foreground. Catalog #: 19-N-28429

USS HORNET (CV-8) View taken while alongside Pier 7, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, in February 1942, prior to her departure for the war zones. Her air group consists of Grumman F4F-4s (VF-8), Curtiss SBC-4s (VS-&VB-8) and Douglas TBD-1s (VT-8). Camouflage on ship is measure 12 (MOD.) Catalog #: 19-N-28431

USS HORNET (CV-8) Broadside view of amidships, at Naval Operating Base Norfolk, Virginia, in February 1942. Plane types visible on deck: Douglas TBD-1 (VT-8), Grumman J2F-5 (utility unit), Curtiss SBC-4 (VS-or VB-8) and Grumman F4F-4 (VF-8). Note Meas .12 (Mod.) camouflage; and cars on the pier. Catalog #: 19-N-28432

It was at Norfolk that she tested flight deck operations with a trio of Army B-25 medium bombers, and found they could be launched successfully with a degree of pucker– and even landed with a greater one.

“Take-off and landing tests conducted with three B-25B’s at and off Norfolk, Virginia, indicated that take off from the carrier would be relatively easy but landing back on again extremely difficult.” said Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle in his report to the commanding general of Army Air Forces. “It was then decided that a carrier take-off would be made some place East of Tokyo, and the flight would proceed in a generally westerly direction from there. Fields near the East Coast of China and at Vladivostok were considered as termini.”

Then came a transfer to the West Coast, and a special mission for the carrier still technically on shakedown.

Arriving in San Francisco, Hornet had part of her Naval airwing offloaded and 16 Army B-25s, 64 modified 500-pound bombs, and 201 USAAF aviators and ground crew transferred aboard.

Putting to sea on April 2, the task force commanded by Vice Adm. Halsey consisted of Hornet with her escort Nashville, the carrier Enterprise with her three companion heavy cruisers Salt Lake City, Northampton, and Vincennes, as well as a group of destroyers and tankers headed West for points unknown and under great secrecy.

After refueling from the tankers on April 17, the four cruisers and two carriers raced towards Japan. The plan was to launch the first raid on the Home Islands to score a propaganda victory following a string of defeats across the Pacific in the first four months of the war.

Army Air Forces B-25B bombers parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission’s launching point. The plane in the upper right is tail # 40-2242, mission plane # 8, piloted by Captain Edward J. York. Note the use of the flight deck tie-down strips to secure the aircraft. The location is near the forward edge of the midships aircraft elevator. Catalog #: NH 53296

USAAF B-25B bombers and Navy F4F-3 fighters on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while she was en route to the mission’s launching point. Note wooden dummy machine guns in the tail cone of the B-25 at left. Catalog #: NH 53422

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942 View looking aft and to port from the island of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission’s launching point. USS Vincennes (CA-44) is in the distance. Several of the mission’s sixteen B-25B bombers are visible. That in the foreground is tail # 40-2261, which was mission plane # 7, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Ted W. Lawson. The next plane is tail # 40-2242, mission plane # 8, piloted by Captain Edward J. York. Both aircraft attacked targets in the Tokyo area. Lt. Lawson later wrote the book Thirty Seconds over Tokyo. Note searchlight at left. Catalog #: NH 53293

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle (left front), leader of the attacking force, and Captain Marc A. Mitscher, Commanding Officer of USS Hornet (CV-8), pose with a 500-pound bomb and USAAF aircrew members during ceremonies on Hornet’s flight deck, while the raid task force was en route to the launching point. Catalog #: NH 64472

However, the group was sighted while still far out to sea. The quick-shooting Nashville rapidly engaged the Japanese ship, Gunboat No. 23 Nittō Maru, and sank her with 6-inch shells, but the little 70-ton boat got off a warning via radio on her way down.

The 16 bombers quickly launched into history and the six ships of the task force turned back for safer waters.

An Army Air Force B-25B bomber takes off from USS Hornet (CV-8) at the start of the raid, 18 April 1942. Note men watching from the signal lamp platform at right. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-41196

As noted by DANFS:

As Hornet swung about and prepared to launch the bombers which had been readied for take-off the previous day, a gale of more than 40 knots churned the sea with 30-foot crests; heavy swells, which caused the ship to pitch violently, shipped sea and spray over the bow, wet the flight deck and drenched the deck crews. The lead plane, commanded by Colonel Doolittle, had but 467 feet of flight deck while the last B-25 hung far out over the fantail. The first of the heavily-laden bombers lumbered down the flight deck, circled Hornet after take-off, and set course for Japan. By 0920 all 16 of the bombers were airborne, heading for the first American air strike against the heart of Japan.

Hornet brought her own planes on deck and steamed at full speed for Pearl Harbor. Intercepted broadcasts, both in Japanese and English, confirmed at 1445 the success of the raids. Exactly one week to the hour after launching the B-25s, Hornet sailed into Pearl Harbor. Hornet’s mission was kept an official secret for a year; until then President Roosevelt referred to the origin of the Tokyo raid only as “Shangri-La.”

Three Raiders died trying to reach safety in China. Japanese soldiers executed three. One died in captivity.

However, Hornet was not allowed to rest on her laurels and soon set off to meet the Japanese in the Coral Sea, but arrived just after the pitched battle that saw the loss of the giant USS Lexington.

USS HORNET (CV-8) Steaming in the coral sea area, 13 May 1942. Photographed from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6). Catalog #: 80-G-16430

USS Hornet (CV-8) Enters Pearl Harbor, 26 May 1942. She left two days later to take part in the Battle of Midway. Photographed from Ford Island Naval Air Station, with two aircraft towing tractors parked in the center foreground. Catalog #: 80-G-66132

Then came Midway, where the now seven-month-old Hornet joined her sisters Yorktown and Enterprise to blunt Yamamomo’s greatest effort.

On 4 June, the combined torpedo plane fleet of the three carriers made a charge of the light brigade style attack on the Japanese task force. Of the 41 TBD Devastators that took off that day, 15 were from Hornet‘s Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8). However, they were jumped by Japanese fighters eight miles from their targets and all 15 were shot down. Only one pilot, Ens. George H. Gay, USNR, reached the surface as his plane sank and hid under a rubber seat cushion while he watched the dive bombers come in and get revenge in the sinking of four Japanese carriers, turning the tide of the war

Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) Pilots Photographed on board USS Hornet (CV-8), circa mid-May 1942, shortly before the Battle of Midway. They are Ensign Harold J. Ellison; Ensign Henry R. Kenyon; Ensign John P. Gray; Ensign George H. Gay, Jr. (circled); Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Jeff D. Woodson; Ensign William W. Creamer; Aviation Pilot First Class Robert B. Miles. Lieutenant James C. Owens, Jr.; Ensign E.L. Fayle; Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron, Squadron Commanding Officer; Lieutenant Raymond A. Moore; Ensign Ulvert M. Moore; Ensign William R. Evans; Ensign Grant W. Teats; Lieutenant (Junior Grade) George M. Campbell. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 93595

Two days later, to add the ending period to the battle, Hornet‘s planes attacked the fleeing Japanese fleet to assist in sinking cruiser Mikuma, damaged a destroyer, and left cruiser Mogami aflame and heavily damaged.

Battle of Midway, June 1942. SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Hornet (CV-8) approaching the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her, during the early afternoon of 6 June 1942. Mikuma had been hit earlier by strikes from Hornet and USS Enterprise (CV-6), leaving her dead in the water and fatally damaged. The photo was enlarged from a 16mm color motion picture film. Note bombs hung beneath these planes. Catalog #: 80-G-17054

War artist Tom Lea shipped out on Hornet for her next run across the Pacific after Midway. There, in fierce service off Guadalcanal in late summer 1942, he spent more than two months on a front-line carrier in the thick of the war and sketched as he found, including the loss of the carrier Wasp.

USS Hornet by Tom Lea

USS Hornet by Tom Lea

navy plane captian

He observed the sinking of the Wasp on Sept. 15, 1942

He observed the sinking of the Wasp on Sept. 15, 1942.

Carrier ace Silver Somers, by Tom Lea

Carrier ace Silver Somers, by Tom Lea

in blue gleam of a battle light tom lea an american dies in battle tom lea a bomb explodes below deck tom lea

From a six-week period from mid-September until 24 October, Hornet was the only operable U.S. carrier in the Pacific, all the others being either in repair or at the bottom.

On 26 October, joined by the newly patched up Enterprise, Hornet was involved in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island. During that sharp engagement often forgotten to military history, Hornet‘s airwing severely damaged the Japanese carrier Shokaku, delivering at least three (and possibly as many as six) 1,000-lb. bomb hits from the 15 Douglas SBD-3 dive bombers launched from our carrier, putting her out of service for months. Hornet‘s planes also made hay of the cruiser Chikuma.

However, just 371 days after she was commissioned, Hornet took extreme damage in return from Japanese torpedo and bomber aircraft.

A Japanese Type 99 shipboard bomber (Allied codename Val) trails smoke as it dives toward USS Hornet (CV-8), during the morning of 26 October 1942. This plane struck the ship’s stack and then her flight deck. A Type 97 shipboard attack plane (Kate) is flying over Hornet after dropping its torpedo, and another Val is off her bow. Note anti-aircraft shell burst between Hornet and the camera, with its fragments striking the water nearby. Catalog #: 80-G-33947

Crew members of USS Hornet (CV-8) prepare to abandon ship on 26 October 1942, after she was disabled by Japanese air attacks. Photographed from USS Russell (DD-414). Note radar antennas on the carrier’s masts and gun directors, and other details of the ship’s island and port side. Radar antennas include those for FD types mounted atop the two Mark 37 gun directors at the island ends, a CXAM atop the foremast and a smaller radar (presumably an SC) partially visible atop the after mast. Catalog #: 80-G-34110

Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 1942 Description: USS Northampton (CA-26), at right, attempting to tow USS Hornet (CV-8) after she had been disabled by Japanese air attacks on 26 October 1942. Catalog #: 80-G-33897

USS HORNET (CV-8) dead in the water with a destroyer alongside, 26 October 1942. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-304514

As noted by DANFS

The abandoned Hornet, ablaze from stern to stern, refused to accept her intended fate from friends. She still floated after receiving nine torpedoes and more than 400 rounds of 5-inch shellfire from destroyers Mustin and Anderson. Japanese destroyers hastened the inevitable by firing four 24-inch torpedoes at her blazing hull. At 0135, 27 October 1942, she finally sank off the Santa Cruz Islands. Her proud name was struck from the Navy List 13 January 1943.

Boston Herald sinking of USS Hornet (CV-8), fourth US carrier sunk in WWII, the first three were Lexington (CV-2), Yorktown (CV-5), and Wasp (CV-7).

Tom Lea remembered the ship fondly.

On 21 October, just six days before she was to sink, he left the Hornet, pulling away on a fleet oiler that would land him back at Pearl Harbor. The cleared sketches he produced above would appear in LIFE in March and April 1943, sadly, after the carrier had long been sunk.

As told by Lex

Back at Pearl Harbor, Lea showed Admiral Nimitz some of his drawings. One of them was the one above. Underneath the drawing, he inscribed a quotation from Deuteronomy: “Moreover the Lord thy God shall send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.”

Admiral Nimitz looked at the drawing for a long time, then turned his head to Lea, and said: “Something has happened to the Hornet.”

That was how Lea found out that the aircraft carrier he had been on, together with his friends, perished.

This he immortalized in a painting ran by LIFE of how he pictured the ship going out– fighting.

“An aircraft carrier is by her very nature a very peculiar warship, for she belongs not wholly to the sea nor sufficiently to the sky.” “Without heavy deck guns or stout armor, she is physically the most vulnerable of warships, carrying within her the seeds of her own destruction. Whenever she goes to sea she is loaded with bombs, shells and high-octane gasoline, all concealed behind her thin steel plates. ” “Such a ship was the Hornet. She feared bombs, but also know that probably only torpedoes would sink her.” “There is no way to describe how terrible a torpedo seems as it heads for a carrier. It leaves a strange wake, a rather thin, white, bubbly line like fluid ice, cold as the death is presages. Against the ship’s side, it explodes with an appalling concussion and a wild flash of pink flame. Within the ship, there is a terrible wrenching. Decks and bulkheads are twisted like tissue paper, and all things not secured by iron bolts are smashed.” “The Hornet died under a moonlit sky on a shining tropical sea. She had been hit by two waves of Jap planes, the first in the morning, the second in the afternoon… Then came the last order: ‘Abandon ship.’ The men went over the side on knotted lines, down to life rafts, to floating debris, or simply to the water.” “Behind them their ship died a smoking death.” “The great carrier was not alone. She had destroyers and cruisers with her, and they aided in the work of hauling the Hornet’s crew from the sea. In a few hours, it was all over. Those whose fate it was to live were alive, and those who had to die were dead.” “A tropical sunset colored the hulk of the carrier and the stars came out faintly. After dark she went down.” -LIFE Magazine, “HORNET’S LAST DAY: Tom Lea paints death of a great carrier”

“An aircraft carrier is by her very nature a very peculiar warship, for she belongs not wholly to the sea nor sufficiently to the sky.” “Without heavy deck guns or stout armor, she is physically the most vulnerable of warships, carrying within her the seeds of her own destruction. Whenever she goes to sea she is loaded with bombs, shells and high-octane gasoline, all concealed behind her thin steel plates. ”
“Such a ship was the Hornet. She feared bombs, but also know that probably only torpedoes would sink her.”
“There is no way to describe how terrible a torpedo seems as it heads for a carrier. It leaves a strange wake, a rather thin, white, bubbly line like fluid ice, cold as the death is presages. Against the ship’s side, it explodes with an appalling concussion and a wild flash of pink flame. Within the ship, there is a terrible wrenching. Decks and bulkheads are twisted like tissue paper, and all things not secured by iron bolts are smashed.”
“The Hornet died under a moonlit sky on a shining tropical sea. She had been hit by two waves of Jap planes, the first in the morning, the second in the afternoon… Then came the last order: ‘Abandon ship.’ The men went over the side on knotted lines, down to life rafts, to floating debris, or simply to the water.”
“Behind them, their ship died a smoking death.”
“The great carrier was not alone. She had destroyers and cruisers with her, and they aided in the work of hauling the Hornet’s crew from the sea. In a few hours, it was all over. Those whose fate it was to live were alive, and those who had to die were dead.”
“A tropical sunset colored the hulk of the carrier and the stars came out faintly. After dark, she went down.”
-LIFE Magazine, “HORNET’S LAST DAY: Tom Lea paints death of a great carrier”

Hornet remains a favorite subject of maritime art, not just from Lea, but other painters. Take for instance this great piece by Gordon Grant.

USS HORNET (CV-8). Description: Courtesy of John H. Chafee, 1974 Catalog #: NH 82718-KN

Remember VT-8’s Ensign Gay? The lone survivor of his squadron survived the war, ending his service as a Lt. CDR and Navy Cross holder. In 1994 he died of a heart attack at a hospital in Marietta, Georgia, age 77, was cremated and his ashes spread at the place that his squadron had launched its ill-fated attack

As for the Raiders, the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo was commemorated by the ceremonial arrival of 11 B-25 bombers at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, on 17 April 2017, who flew in formation on the anniversary on Tuesday.

As noted by the AP, the last Raider living is 101-year-old retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole. He attended Tuesday’s service at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton. Lead plane co-pilot Cole came from his Comfort, Texas, home.

The Navy still considers the Doolittle Raid to have relevent principals today.

“The Doolittle Raid, some 75 years ago, pushed Air Force Bombers outside of their normal operating envelope,” said Capt. Kevin Lenox, commanding officer of USS Nimitz (CVN 68), a World War II-namesake ship. “They were designed to fly from an airfield, but USS Hornet provided the perfect mobile launch point to send them into combat from the sea. The Navy didn’t have planes that could reach Tokyo, and the Air Force didn’t have any runways close enough. Together, their integrated capabilities were able to win the day, and that lesson has carried forward to today’s highly capable joint force.”

Specs:


Displacement:
20,000 long tons (20,000 t) (standard)
25,500 long tons (25,900 t) (full load)
29,114 long tons (29,581 t) (maximum)
Length:
770 ft. (230 m) (waterline at design draft)
824 ft. 9 in (251.38 m) (overall)
Beam:
83 ft. 3 in (25.37 m) (waterline)
114 ft. (35 m) (overall)
Draft:
24 ft. 4 in (7.42 m) design
28 ft. (8.5 m) full load
Installed power: 120,000 shp (89,000 kW)
Propulsion:
4 × Parsons geared steam turbines
9 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Speed:
32.5 kn (37.4 mph; 60.2 km/h) (design)
33.84 kn (38.94 mph; 62.67 km/h) (builder’s trials)
Range: 12,500 nmi (14,400 mi; 23,200 km) at 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Complement: 2,919 officers and enlisted (wartime)
Armament:     (as built)
8 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal dual purpose guns
16(4×4) × 1.1 in (28 mm)/75 cal anti-aircraft guns
24 × M2 Browning .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
Armament (by July 1942)
8 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal dual purpose guns
20 (5×4) × 1.1 in (28 mm)/75 cal anti-aircraft guns
32 × 20-mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannon
Armor:
Belt: 2.5–4 in (63.5–102 mm)
Deck: 4 in (102 mm) 60 lb. STS steel
Bulkheads: 4 in (102 mm)
Conning Tower: 4 in (100 mm) sides, 2 in (51 mm) top
Steering Gear: 4 in (102 mm)
Aircraft carried: 72-90 × aircraft
Aviation facilities:
3 × elevators
3 × hydraulic catapults (2 flight deck, 1 hangar deck– latter removed 1942)

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Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Robert Gibb

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 Robert Gibb

Robert Gibb was as Scottish as they came, born in Laurieston, near Falkirk 28 October 1845, and educated in Edinburgh. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy and exhibited his first of more than 140 works there in 1867. It should come as no surprise that he was one of the great chroniclers of Highlanders in the field.

His first stab at the military genre came with Comrades in 1878, depicting men of the 42nd Highlanders (The Black Watch) in the Crimea.

The original version of this work was painted by Gibb in 1878 and is currently unlocated. The painting became iconic. While reading a life of Napoleon, the artist made a sketch of the retreat from Moscow. The dominant group of three figures in the foreground was then isolated and adapted to form an independent composition depicting a young soldier whispering his dying message to a comrade who seeks to comfort him in the snowy wastes of the Crimean winter. Photo credit: The Black Watch Castle & Museum

The Thin Red Line, oil on canvas, by Robert Gibb, 1881, showing the stand of a handful of the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Balaclava stopping 2,500 massed Russian cavalry. Currently on display at the National War Museum of Scotland, the venue notes “The Thin Red Line is one of the best known of all Scottish historical paintings and is the classic representation of Highland military heroism as an icon of Scotland.”

Saving the Colours; the Guards at Inkerman (1895 – Naval and Military Club, London)

Alma: Forward the 42nd. This 1888 oil on canvas by Scottish artist, Robert Gibb (1845–1932), depicts the Battle of Alma, in Sebastopol, Crimea on the 20th September 1854. Black Watch, in full review order, are advancing towards enemy guns on heights above, with Field Marshal Sir Colin Campbell (later Lord Clyde) shown giving the historic order from which the painting is titled. In left foreground are two Russians, and in distance stretch of sea with fleet in action. The painting was gifted to Glasgow Museums collection by Lord Woolavington in 1923. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Besides the Crimea, he also portrayed the Scots at Waterloo.

Closing the Gates at Hougoumont, 1815. Men of the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards are shown forcing shut the gates of the chateau of Hougoumont against French attack, with Lieutenant-Colonel James MacDonell forcing back the gate to the left. The moment of crisis shown in the painting came when around 30 French soldiers forced the north gate and entered into the chateau grounds. Before others could follow, the gates were forced shut again, and the French soldiers still inside were killed. Wellington himself had said the success of the battle turned upon the closing of the gates at the chateau. Photo credit: National Museums Scotland

Late in his life, he also painted the Highlanders in the Great War.

He produced Backs to the Wall at age 84. In this painting, the artist shows a line of khaki-clad Scottish troops standing defiantly at the critical moment, bayonets fixed– with the specters of fallen comrades behind them.

The work was inspired by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s famous Special Order of the Day at the time of the Great German Offensive of April 1918.

There is no other course open to us but to fight it out.  Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement.  With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.  The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.

Backs to the Wall, 1918, painted 1929 oil on canvas. Gift from W. J. Webster, 1931 to the Angus Council Museums.

Gibb held the office of King’s painter and limner for Scotland for 25 years and was Keeper of the National Gallery of Scotland from 1895 until 1907.  The artist died at his home in Edinburgh in 1932, and he was given a full military funeral with an honor guard provided by the Black Watch.

Many of his works are on display across the UK and are available online.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Horse soldiers never die

A division of the Blues and Royals sabre squadron, part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (All photos via MoD)

The British Army’s Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) traces its lineage back to the 1660s– to King Charles II’s Life Guards and the Earl of Oxford’s Blues — and its horse-mounted unit, after the reforms of 1992, now consists of one 75-member sabre squadron plus a mounted band from each regiment of the Household Cavalry (the red tunic wearing Life Guards and the black tunic wearing Blues and Royals), each with their distinctive cuirass and plumed “Albert” helmet.

Life Guards in red, Blues and Royals in Black

Based at their Hyde Park Barracks, they are on “public duty” which consists of ceremonial operations around London and the royal estates to include state visits, Investitures, the opening of Parliment, etc. The standard unit is a 25-man mounted division, though this can be halved. All told, the force, with their H/HS complete with staff, vets, saddlers and farriers, amounts to about 350 officers, NCOs and troopers.


Last week they had their annual inspection by Major General Ben Bathurst, the General Officer Commanding the Army in London and the Queen’s Household Troops, but this one was different:

“For the first time in recent memory, the Regiment were joined by their cavalry cousins from the Swedish Livgardet and Danish Gardehusarregiment. The Swedish Life Guards and Danish Guard Hussar Regiment each fielded an officer and senior non-commissioned officer, dressed in their equivalent ceremonial uniforms, to ride in the parade.”

Warship Wednesday Mar. 22, 2017: The Cowboy Monitor

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Mar. 22, 2017: The Cowboy Monitor

NH 99353-KN

Here we see the Arkansas-class monitor USS Wyoming (Monitor # 10) on a postal card published by Edward H. Mitchell, San Francisco, California, featuring a tinted photograph of the vessel taken in her prime, circa 1902-1908. It should be noted that Wyoming was the last seagoing monitor ordered for the U.S. Navy, ending a string of vessels that began in 1861.

John Ericsson’s steam-powered low freeboard ironclad, USS Monitor, with her “cheesebox on a raft” rotating turret design in the early days of the Civil War, led to an entire fleet of river, harbor, coastal and seagoing takes on the same concept that saw some 60~ monitors take to the builders’ yards (though not all were completed) by 1866.

By 1874, ostensibly as part of the “great repairs” the Navy ordered the first “modern” monitor, USS Puritan (M-1), a 6,000-ton beast with a quartet of 12‑inch guns and 14-inches of armor that acquitted herself in service during the Spanish-American War– though she was obsolete at the time.

Puritan shelling Matanzas on the 27 April 1898. She would remain in the fleet until 1922 in one form or another.

However, the Navy still piled on the monitor bandwagon, completing four vessels of the Amphitrite-class, the one-off USS Monterey, and (wait for it) the four-ship swan song of the type: USS Arkansas (M-7), Connecticut/Nevada (M-8), Florida (M-9), and our hero, Wyoming (M-10).

These craft were 255-feet overall and weighed 3,350-tons full load but drew a gentle 12.5-feet of seawater. Armed with a single Mark 4 turret with a dual mounting of 12″/40 caliber Mark 3 guns along with four 4″ singles and some 6-pounders, they were slathered in as much as 11-inches of Harvey steel armor. Four boilers, when new, could push the ships’ steam plant to make these hogs touch 13-kts on trials, which was good for 1898. Not great, but good.

Each of the class was laid down at approximately the same time (the Span-Am War was on at the time and ships were needed, dammit), but in different yards. Arkansas at Newport News, Nevada at Bath in Maine, Florida at Crescent Shipyard, Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Wyoming— the only one on the West Coast– at Union Iron Works, San Francisco. Though technically Nevada was commissioned (as Connecticut at first) on 5 March 1903, Wyoming was the last of the class ordered and was accepted months before, entering service on 8 December 1902.

Her total cost, $1,624,270.59– some $500,000 more than Arkansas yet $200,000 under the price paid for Connecticut/Nevada.

Panoramic view of shipways and outfitting area, 1900. USS Wisconsin (Battleship # 9) is fitting out at left. Ships on the ways are (from left to right): USS Paul Jones (Destroyer # 10); USS Perry (Destroyer # 11); USS Wyoming (Monitor # 10); USS Ohio (Battleship # 12); and the S.S. Californian. Courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, 1971. The original print is in the Union Iron Works scrapbook, Volume II, page 157. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 75110 Click to big up

This is not a ship you want to speed in! (Monitor # 10) Making 12.4 knots during trials, off San Francisco, California, in October 1902. Courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, 1971. The original print is in the Union Iron Works scrapbook, Volume II, page 166. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 75118

(Monitor # 10) Making 12.4 knots during trials, near San Francisco, California, in October 1902. Courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, 1971. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 75117

(Monitor # 10) View on board, looking forward, showing water coming over her bow while she was running trials off San Francisco, California, in October 1902. Note the ship’s twelve-inch gun turret at right. Courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, 1971. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 75119

She was a handsome if dated, ship.

(Monitor # 10) Moored off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 12 February 1903. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 43870

(Monitor # 10) Moored off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, in February 1903. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44264

In October 1903 after her shakedown, Wyoming was dispatched to Panamanian waters along with the cruiser Boston, where she landed a few Marines to look after Washington’s interests.

Panama at the time was part of Colombia though separatists, eager to restart the failed French canal effort with U.S. help, wanted to change that. With Wyoming on hand to provide literal gunboat diplomacy of the Teddy Roosevelt era, on November 13 the U.S formally recognized the Republic of Panama and told Colombia about it later. As the biggest Colombian Navy ship in Panama’s Pacific waters was the 600-ton gunboat Bogota (one 14-pounder gun, eight 6-pounders), which the Wyoming vastly outmuscled, the Colombians agreed.

Meanwhile, the gunboat USS Nashville (PG-7), operating on the Carribean coast of Panama, prevented the Colombians in Colon from using the railway to reinforce their forces there, leaving them in an untenable situation. The new Republic of Panama gave the U.S. control of the Canal Zone on 23 February 1904, for $10 million in accordance with the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty.

From DANFS on her Panamanian Vacation:

The monitor accordingly arrived in Panamanian waters on 13 November (1903) and sailed up the Tuira River in company with the protected cruiser Boston, with a company of Marines under Lt. S. A. M. Patterson, USMC, and Lt. C. B. Taylor, USMC, embarked, to land at “Yariza” and observe the movements of Colombian troops.

The presence of American armed might there and elsewhere ultimately resulted in independence for the Panamanians. During that time, Wyoming anchored at the Bay of San Miguel on 15 December. The following day, a boat with 11 Marines embarked left for the port of La Palma, under sail. While Boston departed the scene on the 17th, Wyoming shifted to La Palma on the following day. There, Lt. Patterson, USMC, with a detachment of 25 Marines, commandeered the steamer Tuira and took her upriver. While the Marines were gone, a party of evacuated American nationals came out to the monitor in her gig.

Meanwhile, Patterson’s Marines had joined the ship’s landing force at the village of Real to keep an eye on American interests there. Back at La Palma, Wyoming continued to take on board American nationals fleeing from the troubled land and kept up a steady stream of supplies to her landing party of Bluejackets and Marines at Real. Ultimately, when the need for them had passed, the landing party returned to the ship on Christmas Eve.

Wyoming remained in Panamanian waters into the spring of 1904 keeping a figurative eye on local conditions before she departed Panama Bay on 19 April, bound for Acapulco.

After this, Wyoming returned to quiet service off the West Coast and in 1908 was converted from being coal-fired to using oil fuel– the first ship to do so in the fleet.

In 1909, her name was stripped from her to be given to a new battleship and she was dubbed USS Cheyenne. Likewise, at about the same time Arkansas switched her name to USS Ozark, Nevada— renamed for the second time in a decade– to USS Tonopah, and Florida to USS Tallahassee.

By 1910, Wyoming/Cheyenne was on the reserve list and being used by the Washington Naval Militia off Bremerton until late 1913.

USS Cheyenne (Monitor # 10) Moored off Bremerton, Washington, while serving as a training ship for the Washington State Naval Militia, circa 1910-1913. The original is a screened sepia-toned image, printed on a postal card. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 55116-KN

Brought back into regular fleet service, Cheyenne was used as a submarine tender for the 2d SUB Div in Puget Sound, Mare Island, San Francisco, and San Pedro between August 1913-April 1917, only interrupting them for two trips down to rowdy Mexico, then involved in a civil war, to evacuate U.S and foreign nationals trapped in the volatile region.

When the U.S. entered the Great War in April 1917, our rough and ready West Coast monitor continued her service until late in the war she was ordered to the Atlantic for the first time in her service. There, Cheyenne served as a tender for submarines operating in the Gulf of Mexico area, and for nine months in 1919 was again active off Mexico, resting with her quiet guns in Tampico harbor.

(Monitor # 10) With a submarine alongside, circa 1918-1919. The submarine is probably one of the Division 3 boats tended by Cheyenne: K-3, K-4, K-7 or K-8. Location may be Key West, Florida. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 45436

In 1920, Cheyenne was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, then used as a pierside training hulk in Baltimore for Fifth Naval District Naval Reserve Force members until 1926, carrying the hull number IX-4 on the Naval List before she was mothballed at Philadelphia. She was sold for scrapping in April 1939.

Cheyenne (IX-4), inboard at left; S-12 (SS-117), outboard at left; and Dale (DD-290) at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, 14 June 1926, during the National Sesquicentennial exhibit there. The small boat and Sailor, in the foreground, are on life-saving service to protect exhibit visitors. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 55117. Collection of Vice Admiral Dixwell Ketcham, USN.

As such, she was the last monitor on the U.S. Navy’s battle line, surviving all her sisters and cousins by more than 15 years.

Specs:


Displacement:
3,225 long tons (3,277 t) (standard)
3,356 long tons (3,410 t) (full load)
Length:
255 feet 1 inch (77.75 m) (overall)
252 ft. (77 m) (waterline)
Beam: 50 ft. (15 m)
Draft: 12 ft. 6 in (3.81 m) (mean)
Installed power:
4 × Thornycroft boilers
2,400 indicated horsepower (1,800 kW)
1,739 ihp (1,297 kW) (on trials)
Propulsion:
2 × Vertical triple expansion engines
2 × screw propellers
Speed:
12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph) (design)
12.03 kn (22.28 km/h; 13.84 mph) (on trial)
Complement: 13 officers 209 men
Armament:
2 × 12 in (305 mm)/40 caliber breech-loading rifles (1×2)
4 × 4 in (102 mm)/40 cal guns (4×1)
3 × 6-pounder 57 mm (2.2 in) guns
Armor:
Harvey armor
Side belt: 11–5 in (280–130 mm)
Barbette: 11–9 in (280–230 mm)
Gun turret: 10–9 in (250–230 mm)
Deck: 1.5 in (38 mm)
Conning tower: 8 in (200 mm)

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!

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of The Met

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 the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art very graciously just released 375,000 works into the public domain as Creative Commons Zero 1.0 Universal copyright, the broadest possible. While about 200,000 are online, and as a whole, they represent just a fifth of the Met’s huge collection, there are some interesting pieces in the trove with a military background. These include over 70 plates from Goya’s haunting ‘The Disasters of War’ (Los Desastres de la Guerra) and dozens more from Stefano della Bella’s ‘Peace and War’ (Divers desseins tant pour la paix que pour la guerre).

Here are some pieces I found remarkable.

Deck of a Warship Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (Danish, Blåkrog 1783–1853 Copenhagen) 1833

The “Kearsarge” at Boulogne Édouard Manet (French, Paris 1832–1883 Paris) 1864

A Bit of War History: The Recruit Thomas Waterman Wood (American, Montpelier, Vermont 1823–1903 New York) 1866

A Bit of War History The Veteran Thomas Waterman Wood (American, Montpelier, Vermont 1823–1903 New York) 1866

The full collection is here.

Enjoy!

Warship Wednesday Mar. 15, 2017: Taxi from Devil’s Island

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Mar. 15, 2017: Taxi from Devil’s Island

Here we see a colorized postcard of the first protected cruiser in the French Navy, the one-off “croiseur cuirassé” Sfax as she appeared in the early 1890s. She never had a chance to fire her guns in anger, but for one brief period was the most famous ship in the world.

Ordered from the Arsenal de Brest in 1881, the ship was an answer to the powerful new steam cruisers being fielded by the British at the time. The French in the late 1870s were still building sail-rigged wooden hull warships that would have been at home in the Crimean War. For instance, the iron-beamed/oak planked Lapérouse-class cruisers, just 2240-tons, could make 15 knots and carried a battery of 5.5 in M1870M muzzleloading guns– but not a single sheet of armor.


Intended as a commerce raider, our 4,561-ton ship had an iron hull with steel frames in a cellular construction, but her half-dozen 6.4-inch M1881 model (black powder breechloaders) and ten smaller 5.5-inch guns gave Sfax a significant punch– especially when her prey was intended to be a merchantman. A dozen coal-fired boilers powered two horizontal steam expansion engines exhausted through twin stacks that drove twin screws while a bark rig provided extra endurance when the wind picked up. Most importantly, she had an armored belt some 60mm thick in four layers of steel.

To be clear, Sfax was an evolutionary step.

As noted by Eric Osborne in his excellent work on Cruisers and Battle Cruisers, “This vessel embodied features that had largely been discontinued in other navies such as a hull composed of iron rather than steel and a full sailing rig. Nevertheless, its protective deck provided adequate protection and its maximum speed of 16.7 knots allowed it to function effectively as a cruiser where the poor motive power of past French designs had ruled out this possibility.”

Completed June 1887, Sfax had a happy but short life, sailing on a European tour followed by a trip to French colonies overseas– her likely stomping grounds if she ever was to assume her wartime role as a modern privateer against an enemy of the Republic. She was the fastest cruiser in the fleet for about three years.

The follow-on one-off cruiser Tage (7,450-tons), completed in December 1890, was some 50 percent larger than Sfax and carried about the same armor and armament but was able to eek out 19 knots due to her 12,500 shp steam suite. The 5,900-ton experimental protected cruiser Amiral Cécille, completed the same year, made 21 knots but thinned her armor to do so. By 1894, the four-ship Amiral Charner-class cruisers weighed about the same as Sfax but could only make 17 knots– her speed– due to the fact they carried a more modern gun battery and 90mm of armor.

To modernize the rapidly marginalized Sfax, in 1895, her masts and sailing rig, never efficient, were removed and replaced by two smaller ones. Her 6.4-inch guns were upgraded to newer models and she was given more reliable torpedo tubes. Painted white as was the custom of the time for warships, she emerged rather different.


Now, let us speak briefly of one Captain Alfred Dreyfus, of the French Army.

This young career military man had graduated the École Polytechnique in 1880 and by 1889 a trained artillery officer, was assigned to a government arsenal. After graduation from the War College, he was being groomed for the General Staff.

Then, scapegoated largely due to being Jewish, Dreyfus was falsely convicted of passing military secrets to the Germans in December 1894– though evidence showing that one Maj. Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy was the spy later surfaced. Branded a traitor, Dreyfus was stripped of his rank, publicly humiliated, and cast off to the infamous Devil’s Island prison in French Guyana.


However, his story did not end there, and the subsequent decade-long call for his vindication, now known to history as the Dreyfus Affair, was the People vs. OJ Simpson case of its day and drew international attention. People hung on every update and were polarized into pro-Dreyfus and anti-Dreyfus camps– there was no middle ground. And this was not just isolated to France. As noted by Robert K. Massie in his book Nicholas and Alexandria, a nurse by the name of Mrs. Eger was so engrossed in an argument over Dreyfus that she left one of the Tsar’s children in the bath so long the poor Grand Duchess took to flight through the Alexander Palace sans clothes. In London, the Illustrated News carried regular front updates.

In short, people really cared about Dreyfus.

Called for retrial after five years in a green hell, a fast ship from the French Navy– our very own Sfax— was dispatched to bring him home.

Sfax called on Cayenne, the colonial port in Guyana on 8 June 1899, and landed him on the Quiberon Peninsula in Brittany on the night of 1 July in stormy weather, spending a total of 20 days underway from South America to metropolitan France, stopping for coal and provisions along the way.

Dressed in a blue suit and wearing a cork helmet, the cashiered former captain boarded the ship that would take him back to Europe.


During that time, though returning for another trial, Dreyfus was considered a prisoner and confined to his cabin save for three daily walks on Sfax‘s deck. At all times, he had an armed sentry within reach, keeping a careful eye. Officers and men were forbidden to speak to him, though he was messed from the officer’s wardroom.


As described by William Hardin’s Dreyfus: The Prisoner of Devil’s Island:

The prisoner spent his time reading and writing, though sometimes he looked long out of the port-hole, apparently plunged deep in though. His baggage consisted of two portmanteaus, containing linen books, several packages of chocolate, small biscuits and several bottles of toilet vinegar. He generally went to bed at seven, arose around midnight to smoke a cigarette, and got up regularly at five o’clock in the morning.


Dreyfus left Sfax and lost his retrial, though he was later acquitted in 1906. Rejoining active service, he was awarded the Legion of Honour for the royal green weenie and retired to the reserve list the next year as a major with full benefits. The Great War called him back to active duty, where the artillerist rose to the rank of Lieut. Colonel, notably serving in the artillery supply train at Verdun.

He died in 1935 and was given a full military funeral including a parade past the Bastille. At least two statues, holding his broken sword in salute, endure in his honor.


For more information on Dreyfus, the Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme has some 3,000 documents on his case available online in French.

As for our cruiser, Sfax receded into history. Thoroughly obsolete, she was stricken in 1906 and scrapped soon after.

Specs:


Displacement: 4 561 GRT
Length 300 ft. (91.57 meters)
Beam 49 feet (15.04 meters)
Draught 25 feet (7.67 meters)
Propulsion     2 steam engines (12 cylindrical boilers), 6,500 hp, twin shafts
Range: 5,000nm on 980 tons of coal
Sailing rig: three-masted barque (1.988 m² or 2380 sq.yds. sail area), removed 1895
Speed 16.7 knots max
Complement: 486 officers, men and Marins with room for one “traitor”
Armor: Belt and bridge, 60 mm
Armament:
6 × 1 160 mm gun (cal.28-mod.1881) on upper deck level with two in embrasures forward and the others in sponsons amidships and aft. Updated to M1887 models in 1895.
10 × 1 139 mm gun (cal.30-mod.1881) on the main deck amidships between the sponsons
2 × 1 47 mm gun (DCA M1885)
10 × 1 37mm Hotchkiss guns
5 × 1 350mm torpedo tubes, one bow mounted, four on beam

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Bioluminescence via LHD

170305-N-LI768-160 ARABIAN SEA (March 3, 2017) The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) transits the Arabian Sea. The ship is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Langer/Released)

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