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City saves history by turning over rare StG 44 to Navy museum system

A police department in Virginia sat on a seized German military rifle for almost a decade before moving to turn it over to a military museum.

The gun was mailed home by a GI from Europe in 1945…

The Chesapeake Police Department seized a Sturmgewehr 44 in 2009 from a felon that could no longer possess the firearm. Seeing that it had historical significance — the StG 44 is considered by many to be the first true “assault rifle” due to its select-fire design and use of an intermediate cartridge — the agency rendered it inoperable and this week moved to have the City Council approve donating the piece to the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

The resolution was approved 8-0 last Tuesday without discussion.

More in my column at Guns.com

 

Fighting Marines, 75 years on

U.S. Marine Corps Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Offical caption: “How to disable an armed opponent is demonstrated by two girl Marines in training at Camp Lejeune, New River, North Carolina. The Marines with their backs to the camera are watching another display of feminine skill in the art of self-defense, June 18, 1943.”

‘Demolition Crew – The Marianas’ 74 years ago today

Painting, Oil on Board; by Robert Benney; 1944; Framed Dimensions 40H X 58W, Accession #: 88-159-AF as a Gift of Abbott Laboratories. Naval History and Heritage Command

Official caption: Before D-Day and H-Hour, these tough, hardened, and highly trained men went in on the beaches at Saipan to pave the way for invasion. It was they who made possible the approaches to the beach and the subsequent landings of our Army and Marines. Pictured here, a group of men has approached the beach at low water at a previously charted area. They are attaching “satchel” charges to the “Crib” in the rear. In the foreground is a Japanese horned “Scully” and the man directly behind it is attaching a demolition cap to a “J-13 Mine.” In a few minutes, their hazardous job will have been completed and another highway to Tokyo opened, thanks to the “Demolition Demons.”

The landings began at 07:00 on 15 June 1944– 74 years ago today. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00.

By 16:15 on 9 July, Admiral Turner announced that Saipan was officially secured at a cost of 3,426 U.S. and an estimated 60,000 Japanese casualties, many of whom were civilians who committed suicide.

Happy Flag Day

Even in Preble’s day, the flag had to be guarded day and night to prevent souvenir hunters from making away with bits of it-Note the relative size of the Marine complete with heavy white buff leather belts, M1859 pattern enlisted dress frock coat with fringed epaulettes and tall painted shako. This particular antebellum uniform would be replaced in 1875.

This is the first known photograph, taken on 21 June 1873 in the Boston Navy Yard by then-Commodore George Henry Preble, of the Great Garrison Flag– the famous flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. The flag was flown over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during the bombardment of the position by the Brits in 1814. Preble, entered the Navy as a midshipman on December 10, 1835, and retired in 1878 as a rear admiral after a 43-year career.

While at the Boston Naval Yard, Preble had the cotton and dyed English wool bunting flag sewn to a piece of sailcloth in order to preserve it and penned the first book about the ensign, History of the American Flag. Even in Preble’s day, the flag had to be guarded day and night to prevent souvenir hunters from making away with bits of it– and swaths cut from the banner before then still surface today. 

The flag has been in the Smithsonian’s collection since 1912 and was restored/stabilized in 2008.

The preserved Star-Spangled Banner today is on display in its own protective chamber at the Smithsonian, and you can thank RADM Preble for that. (Hugh Talman / NMAH, SI)

Washington’s Standard

Also, if you are in the Philadelphia area this week/end, the faded and fragile blue silk flag known as the Commander-in-Chief’s Standard that marked General George Washington’s presence on the battlefield during the Revolutionary War will be on display this Flag Day through Sunday, marking its first public display in Philadelphia since the war itself. The Museum of the American Revolution is bringing the old banner out from secure archival storage for the event.

The AmRev will also have famous original Monmouth Flag and the Forster Flag on display, two of the oldest surviving flags from the American Revolution, dating to 1775-6.

 

Bonnie Dick on the scene, 49 years ago today

In a special Warship Wednesday, here we see the (then) 25-year-old Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) underway in the Gulf of Tonkin on 13 June 1969 during her fifth cruise to support operations from Yankee Station off the Vietnam coast. Note the F-8J Crusaders, A-4E/F Skyhawks and distinctive Grumman E-1B Tracer AEW “Stoof with a Roof” aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 5 on deck.

Commissioned in late 1944, “Bonnie Dick” was the first ship in the modern Navy to commemorate the name of John Paul Jones’ famous Revolutionary War frigate– and she got in enough licks in during WWII to earn one battlestar.

Her WWII cruise

She was much more active in Korea, carrying the F9F Panthers and AD-4 Skyraiders of first Carrier Air Group 102 (CVG-102) then CVG-7.

Stretched and given the SCB-125 overhaul in the mid-1950s, BHR was in the thick of the air war off Vietnam from 1964 onward.

USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) with her crew spelling out Hello San Diego, while en route to San Diego on 9 February 1963. She returned to San Diego, her home port, on 11 February, following a Western Pacific cruise that had begun seven months earlier, on 12 July 1962. Aircraft on her flight deck include three E-1, 11 F-8, six F-3, 13 A-4 and nine A-1 types. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97343

Completing her sixth and last deployment to Yankee Station on 12 November 1970 (again with CVW-5), she was decommissioned the next year and, after spending 21 years on red lead row as a source for potential spare parts for the similarly laid-up but slightly younger USS Oriskany (which the Navy saw as a mobilization asset through the Reagan years), she was scrapped in 1992.

However, her name lives on in LHD-6, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of about the same size, commissioned in 1998.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) Underway in the Gulf of Mexico during builder’s sea trials, circa early 1998 NH 107664-KN

As for CVW-5, they have been flying as of late from USS Ronald Reagan and, when not aboard, cool their heels at Atsugi and Iwakuni, though the Crusaders, Skyhawks, and Tracers have long ago been traded for Hornets, Growlers, and Hawkeyes.

Why, Ron?

I’ve heard of “Flying Leathernecks,” but this is rediculous.

I give you, a trio of Gyrodyne RON Rotorcycles, packing assorted Devils.

Official caption: “Three Marine Corps one-man helicopters demonstrate their stability and hovering capabilities during tactical evaluations of the aircraft at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, called the YRON-1. The new motorcycle is being tested at Quantico for possible combat use in flying reconnaissance, observation, courier, and limited logistic support mission.

The YRON-1 weighs about 440 pounds empty, is capable of carrying a payload of 250 pounds, and has a top speed of about 70 MPH. Powered by a 62 horse-power Porsche engine, the YRON-1 has attained altitudes of up to 3,000 feet and has a maximum run of about 60 miles on five gallons of fuel.”

Photograph released 12 January 1960.

Only 10 of these rotorcycles were built, and while the Marines felt they were too heavy and too difficult to fly, the project grew into the Navy’s Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH ASW drone.

Packing non-carriers with stern-sitters, an enduring idea now new again

Below we see an “Artist Conception of the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) fighter concept, developed by the David W. Taylor Naval Ship and Research and Development Center, in various stages of flight and recovery positions near the 325-foot small waterplane area twin hull ship (SWATH),” received February 1981.

 U.S. Navy Photograph now in the collections of the National Archives. 428-GX-KN-31380:

Interestingly enough, DARPA has been working on a tail-sitter for the past several years, known as the Tern project.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency produced this concept art of a vertical take-off and landing capable maritime drone system as part of its earlier (TERN) program.

And it could wind up being the Marines’ new MUX drone, meant to be a poor man’s E2 Hawkeye/EF-18G Growler for use from LPDs and LHA/Ds.

More on that at The Drive

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