Category Archives: military history

Moto in Miami

Always been a sucker for well-done unit photos and this one from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, showing five airborne MH-65D Dolphins hovering in unison behind five tarmacked EADS HC-144 Ocean Sentry patrol planes– the station’s entire airframe complement– is great.

Photo by USCG Aux Joey Feldman

As noted by the station:

When exceptionally hard work meets opportunity. This photo would not have been possible without the hard work of our Aviation Engineering department. They worked tirelessly to make all ten of our aircraft available in a very short time window and on top of that, they made sure all five of our MH-65 Dolphins were operational to provide an amazing backdrop for our 2023 unit photo. To our AvEng department, be proud of this accomplishment. Your hard work has paid off. Bravo Zulu!!

Coast Guard Air Station Miami first opened in June 1932 at the old Navy seaplane base on Dinner Key in Biscayne Bay next to the Pan Am station, originally flying Fokker PJ Flying Life Boats as the Coast Guard’s first “modern” aviation unit, and celebrated its 90th-anniversary last summer– a span that included flying armed Vought OS2U-3 Kingfishers on ASW patrols and CSAR during WWII.

“Coast Guard planes from the Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Florida, greeting new 165-foot patrol boat/subchaser USCGC PANDORA arrival December 6, 1934, to take station.” Top to bottom: Fokker PJ Flying Boat ACAMAR, Douglas RD-1 Amphibian SIRIUS, and Fokker PJ Flying Boat A. 

For those curious:

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami employs a highly trained and exceptionally motivated crew of 339 personnel, comprised of 71 Officers, 255 Enlisted, and 13 Civilians. Its fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft conduct a variety of Coast Guard missions from Charleston, S.C. to Key West, and throughout the Caribbean Basin. Air Station (CGAS) Miami is located at Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

 

One door closes, another opens

U.S. Marines participate in the deactivation ceremony for 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 13, 2023. The battalion is deactivating in accordance with Force Design 2030 as the Marine Corps modernizes to remain the premier crisis response force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Israel Chincio)

In Marine Corps news this month, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines cased its colors during the unit’s deactivation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on 13 January 2023.

Surely it is a bad sign when a famed unit– one that formerly counted Commandant Krulak, John Ripley of Dong Ha bridge fame, Ollie North, Dakota Meyer, and “Terminal Lance” Maximilian Uriarte– cases its colors on Friday the 13th.

The move will allow for the transformation of 3d Marines to the 3d Marine Littoral Regiment.

Of note, first stood up on 1 June 1942, 3/3 Marines were bled white in the liberation of Guam in July 1944, suffering over 400 casualties, half its strength.

Speaking of which, the Corps is marking the naming and reactivation of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, on Jan. 26, 2023, on Guam. MCBCB is named in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Vicente ‘Ben’ Thomas Garrido Blaz, the first Chamorro Marine to attain the rank of general officer.

Thirteen years old when the Japanese invaded Guam during World War II, Blaz worked in labor camps, building aviation fields, planting rice, and digging trenches until American forces retook the island in 1944. Post-war, following a BS from Notre Dame, he would serve in the Marines in both Korea and Vietnam.

The base will be the first Marine installation after Marine Barracks Guam was deactivated on Nov. 10, 1992. Ultimately 5,000 Marines will be stationed there, ironically “partially funded by a large monetary contribution from the Government of Japan,” as part of a pivot of Marines from Okinawa.

“MCBCB will play an essential role in strengthening the Marine Corps’ geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable posture in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Shoehorned Greyhounds

Mare Island Naval Shipyard‘s Dry Dock No. 2 is filled with six unidentified “four-piper” type flush-deck destroyers circa 1922. To the side, you can see California Avenue, east side near Ninth Street, in Vallejo, California.

Photocopy of photograph (the original is located at Mare Island Archives). The original photographer is unknown. LOC HABS CAL,48-MARI,1BR–1

All of the destroyers are four pipers with four open-mount deck guns and four triple 21-inch torpedo tubes. Of note, the center ship of the top trio has landed two of its torpedo tube racks and has two empty turnstiles looking to heaven.

The arrangement identifies the six as members of the prolific Wickes or follow-on Clemson classes of tin cans of which a staggering 267 hulls were completed between 1917 and 1922. Several of both classes have been profiled on past Warship Wednesdays.

As for Dry Dock No. 2, the 720-foot long/98-foot wide concrete graving dock is still in active service and has been extensively photographed over the years.

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023: The Kaiser’s Tin Cans do Broadway

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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. 25, 2023: Kaisers Tin Cans do Broadway

Bain News Service collection, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-50381

Above we see, in the summer of 1920 a trio of once-sunk former torpedoboten of the old Kaiserliche Marine, anchored in New York City, from left to right ex-SMS V43, G102, and S132, with the newly commissioned Lapwing-class minesweeper USS Redwing (AM-48) outboard.

A closer look. Note that all the vessels have Union Jacks on their bows, as they are in possession of the Navy if not in direct commission. LC-DIG-ggbain-31137

Check out the inset, showing a little girl playing on G102’s forward 8.8 cm SK L/45 naval gun and her boater hat-wearing father close by. Besides four such guns, the 1,700-ton vessel carried six 19.7-inch torpedo tubes and could make 34 knots on her steam turbines, a speed that is still fast today. Another boater-clad man is inspecting the view from atop her wheelhouse.

German destroyer S132 in possession of the U.S. Navy, showing the mine laying stern. Note the stern of the minesweeper Redwing. LOC

German destroyers G102 and S132 in possession of the U.S. Navy, in 1920 in New York with a great view of Manhattan from the Hudson and the ships’ guns and searchlights. LOC

The vessels had been interned at Scapa Flow by the terms of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, then scuttled by their skeleton crews on 21 June 1919. Saved by the British, who worked quickly to beach these small craft along with a few others, they were turned over to the U.S. as war reparations as part of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1920, along with the German Helgoland class battleship ex-SMS Ostfriesland and the Wiesbaden-class light cruiser ex-SMS Frankfurt.

All five ships saw extensive action with the High Seas Fleet during World War I, including (except for SMS V43) the epic clash at Jutland. That service, while fascinating, is beyond the scope of this post but I encourage you to look into it if curious.

Scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow: Tug alongside scuttled German destroyer G 102 at Scapa Flow, June 1919. Of the 74 interned German ships at Scapa, 52 were lost– including all three of G102’s sisters– with the remainder saved by the British and divvied up post-Versailles. IWM SP 1631

Turned over to a scratch American crew, they were shepherded across the Atlantic to New York by the minesweepers Redwing and USS Falcon (AM-28).

The German Imperial Navy destroyer SMS G 102 is escorted to a U.S. port by the U.S. Navy minesweeper USS Falcon (AM-28), circa 1920. Note her six assorted torpedo tubes arranged front, aft, and center. NH 45786

Ostfriesland, Capt. J. F. Hellweg (USNA 1900), USN, in command, became the only German-built battleship commissioned into the U.S. Navy on 7 April 1920 at Rosyth, Scotland, and made New York under her own power, where she was decommissioned on 20 September 1920. Hellweg, who had spent his career in surface warfare including service with the Great White Fleet and in Mexico, went on to command the Naval Observatory and was certainly an interesting figure at parties. 

After their summer as “propaganda ships,” the three tin cans were soon stripped at Norfolk and disposed of off Cape Henry, Virginia, at the infamous hands of Billy Mitchell’s land-based aircraft, followed up with a coup de grace on the humble yet still floating 1,100-ton V43 made by assembled American battleships on 15 July 1921.

Via NYT Archives

Direct hit on G102, July 13, 1921. They were sunk during the Billy Mitchell aircraft bombing tests on German and U.S. Navy ships, showing the vulnerability of ships to aerial bombing, on July 18, 1921. Photograph from the William “Billy” Mitchell Collection, U.S. Navy Museum.

Anti-Ship Bombing Demonstration, 1921. Shown: G-102 showing smoke from a direct hit made by SE-5 with a 25-pound TNT-filled fragmentation bomb, June 21, 1921. From the album entitled, “First Provisional Air Brigade, Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia, 1921.” Note her tubes and guns have been removed. From the William Mitchell Collection. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As for Redwing, she went on to be sheep-dipped and serve in the Coast Guard during Prohibition, then would return to Navy service first on the West Coast in 1929 and then on the East by 1941. Converted to a rescue/salvage ship (ARS-4), she was lost to an Axis mine off the old Vichy French navy base at Bizerte, Tunisia, during WWII on 29 June 1943.


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


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Mush v the Harusame

80 years ago today: The Shiratsuyu-class destroyer Harusame of the Imperial Japanese Navy was torpedoed by the famed Gato-class submarine USS Wahoo (SS-238) under the command of LCDR Dudley Walker “Mush” Morton, near Wewak, New Guinea. It would be the third of 11 attacks logged during the boat’s Third War Patrol

Harusame’s back is clearly broken. Wartime intelligence evaluated this photo as showing one of the Asashio-class (see Photographic Intelligence Report # 82, 17 March 1943). However, the ship’s bridge structure identifies her as a Shiratsuyu-class destroyer, with the # 2 (single) 5 gun mount removed. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-35738 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

From Wahoo’s patrol report, in “Mush’s” words. 

Just two weeks after the above image:

Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Morton, commanding officer of Wahoo (SS-238), at right with his executive officer, Lieutenant Richard H. O’Kane, on Wahoo’s open bridge at Pearl Harbor after her very successful third war patrol, circa 7 February 1943. Official U.S. Navy photograph now in the collections of the National Archives, 80-G-35725.

Beached to avoid sinking with her keel broken, Harusame was salvaged and towed to Truk where she was fitted with an emergency false bow, then sailed in convoy in May to Yokosuka for rebuilding. She returned to service in late November 1943, joining Desdiv 27, Desron 2, IJN Second Fleet.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Harusame underway after rebuild on November 30, 1943. Shizuo Fukui – Kure Maritime Museum, Japanese Naval Warship Photo Album: Destroyers, edited by Kazushige Todaka, p. 81

Her service would come to an end just seven months later, dispatched by USAAF B-25s 30 miles northwest of Cape of Good Hope near Manokwari on 8 June 1944 while on a troop transport run to Biak. She was lost with 74 of her crew.

As for Wahoo, she had already been lost by a remarkably similar fate– sent to the bottom by Japanese aircraft in October 1943 while returning home from her Seventh War Patrol, sunk with all 79 hands by a sustained air and surface attack as she was attempting to exit the Sea of Japan via the La Perouse Strait.

Detailed by DANFS:

The loss of Morton and Wahoo caused profound shock in the submarine force. All further forays into the Sea of Japan ceased, and it was not again invaded until June 1945, when special mine-detecting equipment was available for submarines. Morton was posthumously awarded a fourth Navy Cross. When he died, his claimed sinkings exceeded those of any other submarine skipper: 17 ships for 100,000 tons. In the postwar accounting, this was readjusted to 19 ships for about 55,000 tons. This left Morton, in terms of individual ships sunk, one of the top three skippers of the war. So ended the career of one of the greatest submarine teams of World War II: Wahoo and “Mush” Morton.

May we all grow up to be Buzz Aldrin

Downing a pair of NorK MiG-15s while flying an F-86 Sabre as part of the famed 51st Fighter Wing over Korea would be the highlight of a career for most, but was just the opening act for Buzz…

Col. Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., (USMA 1951), besides flying 66 combat missions during the Korean war, shooting down two enemy MiG-15s, making three spacewalks as pilot of the 1966 Gemini 12 mission, serving as the lunar module pilot on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission where he was the second man to walk on the surface of the moon– and pack later a punch to defend that honor— just made his 93rd orbit around the sun while aboard this humble rock in style.

On my 93rd birthday, and the day I will also be honored by Living Legends of Aviation, I am pleased to announce that my longtime love and partner, Dr. Anca V Faur, and I have tied the knot. We were joined in holy matrimony in a small private ceremony in Los Angeles, and are as excited as eloping teenagers.

The oldest surviving moonwalker (only 4 of the 12 remaining) got hitched in combat boots, no less. 

Clowns and Mills Bombs

78 years ago today, 23 January 1945: PVT Marcel St-Laurent of “D” Company, Le Régiment de Maisonneuve, clowns for the camera at Cuyk, Netherlands. Details of the fuze on the bottom of the No. 36 Mills Bomb grenade can be seen. The length of the cloth bandolier has been altered by tying a knot in it to make it shorter.

First introduced in May 1918 and updated in the 1930s, the No. 36M Mk I was the British Army’s standard hand grenade until 1972 and still pops up in Africa and the Middle East from time to time.

A Canadian UN soldier in Korea with a U.S. made M-1 Carbine and several British Mills bomb grenades.

As for the good PVT St-Laurent, the Montreal-recruited Régiment de Maisonneuve was first recruited in 1880 and covered itself in glory in both World Wars– where its members became well-acquainted with the Mills Bomb. When the top image was taken, the regiment had previously landed in France in July 1944 as part of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. It was bled white through the Battle of the Scheldt, and the Walcheren Causeway before reforming for the final campaigns in the northern Netherlands and the Battle of Groningen.

Infantry of the Regiment de Maisonneuve moving through Holten to Rijssen, both towns in the Netherlands. 9 April 1945. Lt. D. Guravitch. Canadian Military photograph. New York Times Paris Bureau Collection. (USIA) NARA FILE #: 306-NT-1334B-11

It endures to this day as a Primary Reserve unit, still based in Montreal, along with the better-known “Van Doos” of the 22nd Regiment, making up one of the few French-language units of the Canadian forces.

The two Coolest things at SHOT Show

You know, if you told me 10 years ago that the two coolest items across the 13.9 miles of aisles and 2,500 companies exhibiting at the 45th annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas would both be at the Palmetto State Armory booth, I would not have believed you.

However, it happened.

The company has brought back two icons: H&R M16A1s and a centerfire U.S.-made Sturmgewehr 44.

The H&R brand comes as a reboot of the old circa 1871 firearms company that PSA picked up for pocket change in Remington’s 2020 bankruptcy sale. Turning the refreshed brand over to NoDakSpud founder Mike Wettleland, they will be making classic M16A1 as well as Colt 723 and 635 models. The former were made by H&R as a Colt subcontractor in 1968-71.

The H&R M16A1 retro rifle is hand-crafted from proprietary forging dies with 1960s vintage government markings. As the guns made for the Army back in the Fortunate Son era were in the 2-million range, the new H&R will mimic that although will be distinctive in the fact that they have West Columbia, South Carolina rollmarks rather than the Worchester, Massachusetts marks of the original. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

This brings us to Hill & Mac Gunworks of Alpharetta, Georgia, a small gunmaker that had been working on an updated semi-auto Sturmgewehr clone made with modern techniques complete with a threaded barrel, a long stroke piston operating tilting bolt action, an HK style trigger pack, wooden furniture, and the possibility of being chambered in 5.56 NATO, 7.62x39mm, .300 AAC Blackout, or the original 7.92 Kurz– the latter is still in production by Privi Partisan in Europe.

Well, while HMG did sell some generationally similar CETME-L builds a few years back and marketed some reactive steel targets, their Sturmgewehr never made it to serial production and by 2020 the project largely fell off the radar after the company went radio silent.

Until now.

Popping up at Palmetto State Armory’s booth at SHOT Show last week was Mac Steil, the “M” of HMG, with news that PSA had stepped in to bring the project across the finish line. Advancing to the production stage, HMG customers that had preordered it from them back in the day will still get their HMG-marked gun while new guns for PSA will be under that company’s new “Battlefield” series.

The StG will still be offered in all four HMG calibers, use a STANAG mag pattern, and still runs an HK trigger pack. Caliber can be swapped by the user via a mag, barrel, and bolt change. There will also be things such as BFAs for reenactors, folding stock models, and more planned for the future.

Scraping horses

Found this interesting for anyone curious about U.S. Army Great War-era veterinary and farrier services for transport, cavalry, and artillery horses.

22 January 1919, U.S. Army of Occupation in Montabaur, Rhineland, Germany (official caption):

Horses from 1-7th Field Artillery [part of the 1st Infantry Division at the time] being led to “Dipping Vat” constructed by 1st Engineers for the Veterinary Dept. The animals take a plunge in a bath composed of sulfur, lime, carbolic acid, and creosote. The bath is kept at a temperature of 100 degrees fahr. After the plunge, the animals are “scraped.” This is the method of treating these animals for the mange [probably rain rot] and cooties. Horses are bathed at a rate of one a minute.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo 111-SC-51250 by SGT J.A. Marshall, via NARA

“Ready to Plunge.” 111-SC-51252 by SGT J.A. Marshall, via NARA

“Scraping Horses.” 111-SC-51251 by SGT J.A. Marshall, via NARA

Make way for Yorktown!

80 years ago today: The brand-new Essex-class fleet carrier USS Yorktown (CV 10), was launched at Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia, on 21 January 1943.

U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-33869

The second vessel in the class, the warship had been laid down on 1 December 1941– six days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor– as Bon Homme Richard but was renamed the become the fourth USS Yorktown on 26 September 1942 some three months after the loss of the third USS Yorktown at the pivotal Battle of Midway.

Sponsored by no less a person than Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the new Yorktown was commissioned on 15 April 1943 at the Norfolk Navy Yard with Capt. Joseph J. (“Jocko”) Clark, the skipper of the escort carrier USS Suwanee (ACV-27) during the Torch landings just five months prior, in command.

At commissioning. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-K-15555 photographed by Lieutenant Charles Kerlee, USNR. From the U.S. Navy Naval

A VF-1 Top Hatter F6F-3 fighter is launched from USS YORKTOWN, to intercept enemy forces during Mariana's turkey shoot 19 June 1944. Note target information board under the propeller. 80-G-248440

A VF-1 Top Hatter F6F-3 fighter is launched from USS YORKTOWN, to intercept enemy forces during Mariana’s turkey shoot 19 June 1944. Note target information board under the propeller. 80-G-248440

"Murderers' Row" Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

“Murderers’ Row” Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The new Essex-class carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19), and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

Painting of USS Yorktown (CV-10) in her Cold War angled deck and hurricane-bowed SCB conversion with assorted ASW aircraft embarked. So converted in 1957, she was reclassified as an Antisubmarine Warfare Support Aircraft Carrier (CVS-10). She remains in this configuration today, although with a bit more rust. Courtesy of Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida. NH 86022-KN

After an illustrious career that saw 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation earned during World War II and a further five battle stars for Vietnam service, Yorktown has served as a museum ship at Patriot’s Point, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina since 1975.

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