Category Archives: war

The longest-serving GPMG

Spotted in Ukraine near Chernihiv on Christmas Day: the ever-lasting Pulemyot Maxima PM1910.

Note the timber has been cut out to accommodate the carriage and the 250-round belt at the ready in the can to the right. Machine guns in relatively sheltered fixed positions with interlocking fire are a source of real estate control all their own.

As noted by Denis Winter in his 2014 work, Death’s Men: Soldiers Of The Great War
 
On its tripod the machine gun became a nerveless weapon; the human factor of chattering teeth, dripping sweat, and feces in a man’s pants was eliminated. A terror-stricken man could fire his machine gun accurately even by night.

Set up in a sustained fire role with plenty of ammo, thickly greased moving internals, and water for the jacket, such a heavy machine gun can still be as effective in a strong point as it was in 1914– at least until the bunker catches a 125mm HE round from a T-72 or a lucky hit from an RPG or three.

Developed directly from the water-cooled Vickers (Maxim) 08 .303, the Russian-made variant by Pulitov had minor changes beyond its 7.62x54r chambering and sights graduated in arshins rather than yards (the latter something the Soviets would change to meters in the 1920s).

 

The 1910 Maxim going for a drag

Fitted with a unique sled/two-wheeled shielded cart to a design by one Mr. Sokolov and often seen with an enlarged “snow” or “tractor” cap to the radiator, for obvious reasons, in all the Tsar and Soviets would make more than 175,000 PM1910s through 1945, leaving little wonder that they still pop up from time to time.

Twin-linked Maxim guns, with red dot sight, Ukrainian Conflict.

It has far outlived all of its water-cooled “Emma Gee” contemporaries, the Lewis Gun, assorted Vickers models, the various German Spandaus, and the M1917, all of which had been retired since the 1960s, even from reserve and third-world use.

With that, Jonathan Ferguson over at the Royal Armouries walks you through a PM1910 they have in the collection.

Devil Gear, circa 1860s

While the Union Army during the Civil War numbered a whopping 2,213,000 individuals in service between the regulars, USCT, and myriad of state volunteer units taken on the roles, the peak strength of the U.S. Marine Corps during the conflict only hit 3,860 officers and men, making them one of the smallest units in Federal service– and their uniforms among the rarest today.

Washington, D.C. Six marines with rifles and fixed bayonets at the Navy Yard. LC-DIG-cwpb-04148

Assorted studio portraits of individual Civil War era U.S. Marines in the Liljenquist collection of the Library of Congress.

You’d never know their dress uniforms were brilliant blue with gold-yellow facings and epaulets from the existing photos.

The Horse Soldier, an upscale military antique store in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– which sold many of the above studio images to the LOC– has just an incredible find in their collection. 

On display (and for sale of course) at the shop. One of the rarest Civil War uniform groups. This Marine Corps uniform group belonged to Private John Hammond and includes his dress coat with epaulets, shako, fatigue cap, trousers, and rarest of the rare, his knapsack marked “USM.”

Hammond was a shoemaker who enlisted in the Marine Corps in Boston to serve four years on May 15, 1861, and served until discharge on August 24, 1865, at the barracks in Boston. His trousers have the marking of the frigate USS Santee, one of Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron’s most active ships, on the pocket.

Kiwis Exit, 50 Years ago

Via the National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand, the end of an era, 50 years ago today:

22nd December 1972, the NZ Army withdraws its troops from Vietnam. Today we acknowledge the service of the 3,400 New Zealanders who served in Vietnam during the war between June 1964 and December 1972. We honor the 37 personnel who died on active duty, the 187 who were wounded, some very seriously, and all those who have suffered long-term effects.

The Vietnam War was our longest and most contentious military experience of the twentieth century. Back home, the Vietnam War led to enormous political and public debate about New Zealand’s foreign policy and place in the world.

Note the kiwi tattoo

Note the mix of kit on these recce guys, including triple canteens, Boonie hats, M16A1s, and inch pattern L1A1 FALs

That M60, tho…

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022: A Multinational Effort

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022: A Multinational Effort

Photo via the Virginian-Pilot Archives

Above we see the Wickes-class tin can, USS Yarnall (Destroyer No. 143) gently aground in the shallows off Lynnhaven Roads, Virginia on 25 November 1939, while part of FDR’s Neutrality Patrol. Although she was a “war baby,” wholly constructed in 1918, she had joined the fleet too late for the First World War. However, don’t worry, she got in plenty of service under three different Allied flags in the Second.

The Wickes

Yarnall was one of the iconic first flight of “Four Piper” destroyers that were designed in 1915-16 with input from no less an authority as Captain (later Admiral) W.S. Sims. Beamy ships with a flush deck and a quartet of boilers (with a smokestack for each) were coupled to a pair of Parsons geared turbines to provide 35.3 knots designed speed– which is still considered fast today, more than a century later. The teeth of these 314-foot, 1250-ton greyhounds were four 4-inch/50 cal MK 9 guns and a full dozen 21-inch torpedo tubes.

They reportedly had short legs and were very wet, which made long-range operations a problem, but they gave a good account of themselves. Originally a class of 50 was authorized in 1916, but once the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, this was soon increased and increased again to some 111 ships built by 1920.

USS Yarnall (DD-143): Booklet of General Plans – Inboard Profile / Outboard Profile, June 10, 1918, NARA NAID: 158704871

USS Yarnall (DD-143): Booklet of General Plans – Main Deck / 1st Platform Deck / S’ch L’t P’f’m, S’ch L’t Control P’f’m, Fire Control P’f’m Bridge, Galley Top, After Dk. House and 2nd Platform Deck. / June 10, 1918, Hold NARA NAID: 158704873

A close-up of her stern top-down view of plans shows the Wickes class’s primary armament– a dozen torpedo tubes in four turnstiles and stern depth charges.

Meet Yarnall

Our vessel was the first named in honor of naval hero John Joliffe Yarnall. Born in Virginia three years after the end of the Revolutionary War, he was appointed midshipman in the Navy on 11 January 1809. His chief claim to fame was as the first lieutenant on board Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship, USS Lawrence during the decisive Battle of Lake Erie in 1813, where he was grievously wounded. Sailing for the Mediterranean with Stephen Decatur in the frigate USS Guerriere in 1815, Mr. Yarnell was again seriously injured in the fight to capture the Barbary corsair flagship Meshuda. Sent back to the States with dispatches, a copy of the new treaty with the Dey of Algiers, and some captured flags aboard the sloop-of-war USS Epervier— itself captured from the British– Yarnall, Epervier, and the 134 sailors and marines aboard her were never heard from again, vanishing somewhere in the Atlantic in August 1815.

Besides our destroyer, Yarnall, a hero of the Battle of Lake Erie who later disappeared mysteriously at sea, was commemorated at Pennsylvania State University’s Yarnall Hall in 1987.

The first Yarnall (Destroyer No. 143) was laid down on 12 February 1918 at William Cramp & Sons at Philadelphia, launched later that spring, and commissioned on 29 November 1918, CDR William F. Halsey, Jr., in command.

Yup, that Halsey.

As noted in Halsey’s Navy biography:

Dispatched to France in 1919, USS Yarnall would soon be transferred to DesRon 4 in the Pacific Fleet and the Asiatic station where she would serve briefly until laid up on 29 May 1922, as part of the great post-WWI drawdown.

USS Yarnall (Destroyer # 143, later DD-143) steaming in column with other destroyers, circa 1919-1922. NH 41902

During the Pacific Fleet’s passage through the Panama Canal, on 24 July 1919. Those present are: USS Wickes (Destroyer # 75) and USS Yarnall (Destroyer # 143), both at left; USS Philip (Destroyer # 76), USS Buchanan (Destroyer # 131), and USS Elliot (Destroyer # 146), left to right in the center group; USS Boggs (Destroyer # 136), USS Dent (Destroyer # 116) and USS Waters (Destroyer # 115), left to right in the right center group. NH 57141

USS Yarnall (DD-143) passing through Gaillard Cut, Panama Canal, 24 July 1919.

Destroyers refitting at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, circa 1921-22. Many of these ships are being modified to place the after 4″/50 gun atop an enlarged after deckhouse. Ships present include (listed from the foreground): USS Lamberton (DD-119); unidentified destroyer; USS Breese (DD-122); USS Radford (DD-120); unidentified destroyer; USS Elliot (DD-146); USS Tarbell (DD-142); USS Yarnall (DD-143); USS Delphy (DD-261); USS McFarland (DD-237); USS Litchfield (DD-336); USS Kennison (DD-138); USS Lea (DD-118); and two unidentified destroyers. Collection of Rear Admiral Ammen Farenholt, USN (MC). NHHC Photo.

In the 1931 edition of Jane’s, Yarnall was one of 186 “First Line Destroyers” listed in the same entry under the American Navy, spanning the massive Wickes and Clemson-class “flush-deckers”, “four-stackers” or “four-pipers”

Recommissioned at San Diego on 19 April 1930 after eight years of mothballs, Yarnall would bounce back and forth between the Atlantic and Pacific several times, homeported alternatively at Charleston and San Diego.

USS Yarnell close passing, 1930s

USS Tarbell (DD-142), an outboard ship, and USS Yarnall (DD-143), just inboard of Tarbell with two other destroyers, alongside a tender during the 1930s. Donation of BMGC Ralph E. Turpin, USNRF, 1963. NH 41912

USS Yarnall (DD-143) and USS Tarbell (DD-142) Tied up together alongside a pier, during the 1930s. NH 47195

Officers and crew of USS Yarnall (DD-143), circa 1935-1936. During this period, the ship was commanded by LCDR Frederick Sears Conner then LCDR George William Johnson, with at least one of these likely in the photo. CPO Allen L. Eads Collection, with Eads likely in the photo. NHHC S-551

On 30 December 1936, Yarnall was again placed out of commission for a second time and joined the reserve fleet at Philadelphia.

Then came war

Recommissioned at Philadelphia on 4 October 1939– a month after Hitler crossed into Poland– the aging greyhound joined the Atlantic Fleet’s DesRon 11 and would operate out of Norfolk on the Neutrality Patrol for a year. By that time, Britain was holding its own against the Germans and Italians alone and in desperate need of every sort of war material– especially naval escorts to safeguard vital convoys against the U-boat menace.

Trading Ensigns

With Europe again at war, on 2 September 1940, FDR signed the so-called Destroyers for Bases Agreement that saw a mix of 50 (mostly mothballed) Caldwell (3), Wickes (27), and Clemson (20)-class destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy in exchange for limited basing rights on nine British overseas possessions.

Transfer of U.S. destroyers to the Royal Navy in Halifax, Sept 1940. Wickes-class destroyers USS Buchanan (DD-131), USS Crowninshield (DD-134), and USS Abel P. Upshur (DD-193) in the background. The sailors are examining a 4-inch /50 deck gun. Twenty-three Wickes-class destroyers were transferred to the RN, along with four to the RCN, in 1940 under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199286)

For Yarnell, this meant she would be decommissioned at St. John’s, Newfoundland on 23 October 1940, then taken into service with the Royal Navy as HMS Lincoln (G42) on the same day in a warm transfer.

HMS Lincoln G42 in Arctic convoy duty

Dubbed the “Town class” by the Admiralty even though the 50 vessels spanned three distinct classes, ex-Yarnall had been renamed in honor of the county town of Lincolnshire, England, the second such vessel to carry that name for the Royal Navy, previously only used on a 50-gun fourth rate launched in 1695.

Shipped to Plymouth in November for modifications at HM Devonport to operate with the Brits and to pick up a mostly Australian crew, Lincoln/Yarnall was nominated for service with the 1st Escort Group for convoy defense in Western Approaches, with her first mission involving the hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer after the attack on convoy HX 84. Over the next nine months, she would participate in no less than 20 convoys.

It was in April 1941 that Lincoln came to the rescue of a converted 15,000-ton passenger steamer, turned auxiliary cruiser, filled with more than 400 souls. The former P. & O. liner Comorin (Capt. John Ignatius Hallett, DSO, RN (retired)) caught fire in heavy weather in the North Atlantic and had to be abandoned. Closing in with two other tin cans, Lincoln helped pull off her passengers and crew, then stood by to sink the blazing steamer with her 4-inch guns.

6 April 1941. HMS Comorin (F49) on fire viewed from the British Destroyer HMS Lincoln. Originally a passenger ship of the P&O Steam Navigation Co Ltd, the Comorin was requisitioned by the Admiralty in September 1939 and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. The vessel was part of the Freetown Escort Force when she caught fire in the North Atlantic. The fire could not be controlled, and survivors were taken off by HMS Glenartney, HMS Lincoln, and HMS Broke. The wreck was shelled and sunk the next day by the Lincoln. Photo by Ordinary Seaman (OS) Raymond Frank Spratt. AWM P06165.019

6 April 1941. Survivors from HM Comorin pull alongside the British Destroyer HMS Lincoln. Photo by Ordinary Seaman (OS) Raymond Frank Spratt. AWM P06165.020

6 April 1941. Lincoln getting close enough to throw a line to the blazing auxiliary cruiser HM Comorin to take aboard survivors. Note one of Comorin’s seven BL 6-inch Mark VII guns, forward. Photo by Ordinary Seaman (OS) Raymond Frank Spratt. AWM P06165.018

Skol!

Under refit in January-February 1942, it was decided to transfer Lincoln on loan to the “Free Norwegian” Navy forces in exile.

The Scandinavian neutral had managed to sit precariously on the fence in the Great War and indeed was a peaceful country that had last seen the elephant during the Napoleonic Wars, skirmishing at first with the British and then the Swedes for independence. With some 130 years of peace behind it, the Norwegian Navy in April 1940 was again an armed neutral, ready to take on all comers to preserve the homeland. Then came the invasion.

German cruiser Blücher in Drøbak Sound, April 1940 outside of the Norwegian capital Oslo

Two months of tough resistance against German invaders while reluctantly accepting Allied intervention left the Norwegian Navy covered in glory (such as when the tiny 200-ton gunboat KNM Pol III stood alone– briefly– against the mighty heavy cruiser Blücher, the heavy cruiser Lützow, the light cruiser Emden, three torpedo boats and eight minesweepers carrying 2,000 troops to Oslo, or when the ancient and nearly condemned coastal monitors KNM Eidsvold and Norge attempted to stop the Germans at Narvik), but was largely left sunk at the bottom of the fjords they defended.

When the endgame came, a dozen or so small ships and 500 officers and men made it to British waters to carry on the war. These included such Edwardian relics as the destroyer Draug (commissioned in 1908!) and the newer Sleipner, as well as fishery patrol ships such as the Nordkapp, which all soon got to work for the Allies, guarding sea lanes, escorting convoys and protecting the UK and Allied-occupied Iceland from potential Axis invasion.

The mighty KNM Draug, with lines that look right out of the Spanish-American War. MMU.945456

With the small core of exiled prewar Norwegian sailors, an influx of Norwegians living abroad, and transfers from the country’s huge merchant fleet, the exiled Free Norwegian Navy was able to rebuild abroad.

“Norway Fights On” USA, 1942

Soon, the old Draug was in full-time use as a training and support vessel while small trawlers and whalers provided yeoman service as the “Shetland Bus” regularly shuttling spies, SOE operatives, and Norwegian resistance agents into occupied Scandinavia and downed Allied aircrew out throughout some 200 trips.

As these operations expanded, the Brits began transferring surplus (five ex-Wickes-class tin cans) and then new-built naval vessels (Flower and Castle-class corvettes, motor torpedo boats, Hunt-class destroyer escorts, and later two S-class destroyers) to the growing Norwegian fleet to perform convoy escort missions.

That’s where Yarnall/Lincoln comes in.

Jaegern Lincoln, Town Klassen, via Forsvarets museer. Note Norwegian pennant

Jaegern Lincoln, Town Klassen, stern 4 inch gun via Forsvarets museer MMU.942842

Jaegeren Lincoln, Town Klassen via Forsvarets museer. Note embarked British admiral flag

With her new Norwegian crew aboard, but under the same British-assigned name and pennant number albeit with a Norwegian royal prefix, the destroyer HNorMS Lincoln (jageren in Norwegian parlance) was nominated for convoy defense in the eastern Atlantic under Royal Canadian Navy control and would set out for Halifax to join the Western Local Escort Force.

Over the next two years, the American-built destroyer, with her Norwegian exile crew, as part of the British fleet under Canadian control, would take part in no less than 58 convoys.

“Free Norwegian” destroyer HNorMS Lincoln (G42), underway off Charleston, South Carolina flying the Norwegian ensign, circa March 1942-Dec 1943. IWM FL 3271

A further refit in Charleston in July 1943– one of her old homeports during her USN years– Lincoln would pick up a new-fangled Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar and an improved radar outfit.

Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum have the collection of the old Charleston Naval Shipyard in their archives and they have several “finished” photos, dated 20 March 1943, of HMS/HNorMS Lincoln (USS Yarnall).

Going East

Arriving back at Portsmouth in December 1943, it was decided that the old girl was too worn out even for the Norwegian exiles– who were receiving new British-built S-class destroyers just in time for D-Day— and Lincoln was placed in reserve in the Tyne River and later nominated for transfer to the Soviets, who would take anything they could get. Thus, she became Druzhnyy (“Friendly”) in the Red Banner Fleet, turned over on 26 August 1944 after her new Soviet crew had arrived aboard the laid-up vessel the month prior.

Эскадренный миноносец Дружный (019) in Soviet service

She was joined in this 1944 transfer by four other bases-for-destroyers Wickes-class sisterships: USS Fairfax (HMS Richmond, later Soviet Zhivuchiy: “Tenacious”), USS Twiggs (HMS Leamington, later Soviet Zhguchiy: “Firebrand”), USS Maddox (HMS/HMCS Georgetown, later Soviet Zhyostky: “Rigid”), and USS Crowninshield (HMS Chelsea, later Soviet Derzkiy: “Ardent”) in addition to at least four Clemson class vessels.

Druzhnyy was scheduled for passage to Kola Inlet as part of outbound Russia Convoy JW60 in September 1944 and arrived at her new home on the 23rd. She would end her wartime service by patrolling the Arctic, Barents, and the White Sea.

This meant that Yarnall was one of the final Wickes-class destroyers still in active service, only repatriated to Rosyth and returned to Royal Navy control on 24 August 1952. She was then placed on the Disposal List, and within a month had been towed to Inverkeithing for scrapping.

In all, Yarnall would see some 12 commanders running from Halsey to LCDR John Greeley Winn including future RADM Thomas Ross Cooley– a surface warrior who would head Battleship Division 6 during Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Her HMS Lincoln days would add two Brits, CDR Alan MacGregor Sheffield, and LT Ronald John Hanson, while HNorMS Lincoln would see three Norwegians: Kapt. Aimar Sørensen, Ltn. Helge Øi, and Kapt.ltn. Chr. Monsen, giving her a total of 17 skippers– not counting the Russians!

Of note, Sørensen would go on to do big things with the Cold War NATO Norwegian Navy, retiring as a Viseadmiral in a CNO role in 1967.

Epilogue

Today no Wickes-class tin cans survive. The last one afloat, USS Maddox (DD–168), was scrapped in late 1952 after serving in the US, then RN, then Canadian, then Soviet navies.

However, one of the class, USS Walker (DD-163), has been given new life in the excellent alternate history series Destroyermen written by Taylor Anderson.

Yarnall’s original 1918 plans booklet, printed on linen, is preserved in the National Archives. Odds are, Halsey spent time pouring over them during the vessel’s outfitting.

Yarnall’s name was carried by a second U.S. Navy warship, a Fletcher-class destroyer, DD-541. Laid down some 80 years ago this month at Bethlehem Steel’s San Francisco yard, she was commissioned on 30 December 1943 and was soon off to fight the Empire of Japan. Between then and 1958 when she was laid up, Yarnall (DD-541) earned seven battle stars for her World War II service and two battle stars for her service during the Korean War.

USS Yarnall (DD-541) hauls away to starboard after “topping off” from the oiler USS Manatee (AO-58), during replenishment operations off Korea, circa August 1951. USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852) is approaching from the astern to fill her bunkers next. The Essex-class carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), her deck filled with dark blue F4U Corsairs, is refueling on the oiler’s opposite side. NH 97348.

Loaned to the Republic of China in 1968 and eventually transferred, the latter Yarnall continued to serve the Taiwanese Navy until at least 1999, one of the last Fletchers still in service anywhere in the world.

The more things change, right?

Specs

Displacement:
1,710 long tons (1,740 t) (standard)
2,530 long tons (2,570 t) (deep load)
Length: 362 ft 9 in (o/a)
Beam: 35 ft 9 in
Draught: 14 ft 6 in (deep)
Installed power:
40,000 shp (30,000 kW)
2 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Propulsion: 2 × shafts; 2 × Parsons geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots
Range: 4,675 nmi at 20 knots
Sensors: (Royal Navy WWII fit)
Radar Type 290 air warning
Radar Type 285 ranging & bearing
Armament:
(1918)

(1940)
4 × single 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark XII dual-purpose guns
1 × twin Bofors 40 mm AA guns
4 × twin QF 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns
2 × quadruple 21-inch torpedo tubes
4 × throwers and 2 × racks for 70 depth charges


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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Warship Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022: Getting it Coming & Going

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022: Getting it Coming & Going

Imperial War Museum Photo A 13759

Above we see the Royal Navy’s Dido-class light cruiser HMS Argonaut (61), pictured 80 years ago this week at Algiers after losing both her bow and stern to two very well-placed Italian torpedoes with roughly a 400-foot spread between them. A new wartime-production ship only four months in the fleet, she would soon be patched up and back in the thick of it, lending her guns to fight the Axis on both sides of the globe.

The Didos

The Didos were very light cruisers indeed, designed in 1936 to weigh just 5,600 tons standard displacement, although this would later swell during wartime service to nearly 8,000. Some 512 feet long, they were smaller than a modern destroyer but, on a powerplant of four Admiralty 3-drum boilers and four Parsons steam turbines, each with their own dedicated shaft, they could break 32.5 knots on 62,000 shp.

They were intended to be armed with 10 5.25″/50 (13.4 cm) QF Mark II DP guns in five twin mounts, three forward and two over the stern, although most of the class failed to carry this layout due to a variety of reasons.

Gunnery booklet laying out the general plan of a Dido-class cruiser

The Dido class had provision for up to 360 rounds for “A”, “B” and “Q” turrets, 320 rounds for the “X” turret and 300 rounds for the “Y” turret and a properly trained crew could rattle them off at 7-8 shots per minute per gun out to a range of 23,400 yards or a ceiling of 46,500 feet when used in the AAA role.

Argonaut showing off her forward 5.25-inch mounts at maximum elevation

The fact that one of these cruisers could burp 70-80 shells within a 60-second mad minute gave them a lot of potential if used properly. However, this didn’t play out in reality, at least when it came to swatting incoming aircraft.

As noted by Richard Worth in his Fleets of World War II, “Often referred to as AA cruisers, the 16 Dido-type ships shot down a grand total of 15 enemy planes. The entirety of British cruiser-dom accounted for only 97 planes, while enemy planes accounted for 11 British cruisers.”

Meet Argonaut

While all the Didos followed the very British practice of using names borrowed from classical history and legend (Charybdis, Scylla, Naiad, et.al) our cruiser was the third HMS Argonaut, following in the footsteps of a Napoleonic War-era 64-gun third-rate and an Edwardian-era Diadem-class armored cruiser.

Diadem-class armored cruiser HMS Argonaut. Obsolete by the time of the Great War, she spent most of it in auxiliary roles

One of three Didos constructed at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, the new Argonaut was ordered under the 1939 War Emergency Program for £1,480,000 and laid down on 21 November 1939, during the “Phony War” in which Britain and France stood on a cautious Western front against Germany. Launched in September 1941– by which time Italy had joined the war, the Lowlands, Balkans, and most of Scandinavia had fallen to the Axis, and the Soviets were hanging by a thread– Argonaut commissioned 8 August 1942, by which time the Americans and Japan had joined a greatly expanded global conflict.

Argonaut was later “paid for” via a subscription drive from the City of Coventry to replace the old C-class light cruiser HMS Coventry (D43) which had been so heavily damaged in the Med by German Junkers Ju 88s during Operation Agreement that she was scuttled.

“HMS Argonaut Fights Back for the City of Coventry. To Replace HMS Coventry, sunk in 1942, the City of Coventry Has Paid for the Dido Class 5450 Ton Cruiser HMS Argonaut, She Has a Speed of 33 Knots, Carries Ten 5.25 Inch Guns and Six Torpedo Tubes.” IWM A 14299.

Her first skipper, who arrived aboard on 21 April 1942, was Capt. Eric Longley-Cook, 41, who saw action in the Great War on the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, was a gunnery officer on HMS Hood in the 1930s and began the war as commanding officer of the cruiser HMS Caradoc.

The brand new HMS Argonaut, steaming at high speed during her shakedowns, 1 Aug 1942, her guns at or near maximum elevation

The brand new HMS Argonaut, steaming at high speed during her shakedowns, 1 Aug 1942, her guns at or near maximum elevation

Off to war with you, lad

Just off her shakedown, Argonaut sailed with the destroyers HMS Intrepid and Obdurate for points north on 13 October, dropping off Free Norwegian troops and several 3.7-inch in the frozen wastes of Spitzbergen then delivering an RAF medical unit in Murmansk.

On her return trip, she carried the men from the Operation Orator force of Hampden TB.1 torpedo bombers from No. 144 Squadron RAF and No. 455 Squadron RAAF back to the UK following the end of their mission to Russia.

Argonaut then joined Force H for Operation Torch, the Allied landings in Vichy French-controlled North Africa.

Operation Torch: British light cruiser HMS Argonaut approaching Gibraltar; “The Rock”, during the transport of men to the North African coast, November 1942. IWM A 12795.

Battleships HMS Duke of York, HMS Nelson, HMS Renown, aircraft carrier HMS Formidable, and cruiser HMS Argonaut in line ahead, ships of Force H during the occupation of French North Africa. Priest, L C (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer. IWM A 12958

Following the Torch landings, Argonaut was carved off to join four of her sisters at Bone– HMS Aurora, Charybdis, Scylla, and Sirius— and several destroyers as Force Q, which was tasked with ambushing Axis convoys in the Gulf of Tunis.

Argonaut at Bone, late November-early December 1942. Now Annaba Algeria

The first of Force Q’s efforts led to what is known in the West as the Battle of Skerki Bank when, during the pre-dawn hours of 2 December, the much stronger British cruiser-destroyer force duked it out with an Italian convoy of four troopships screened by three destroyers and two torpedo boats.

When the smoke cleared, all four of the troopships (totaling 7,800 tons and loaded with vital supplies and 1,700 troops for Rommel) were on the bottom of the Med. Also deep-sixed was the Italian destroyer Folgore, holed by nine shells from Argonaut.

The Italian cacciatorpediniere RCT Folgore (Eng= Thunderbolt). She was lost in a lop-sided battle off Skerki Bank, with 126 casualties.

The next time Force Q ventured out would end much differently.

Make up your mind

On 14 December 1942, the Italian Marcello-class ocean-going submarine Mocenigo (T.V. Alberto Longhi) encountered one of Force Q’s sweeps and got in a very successful attack.

As detailed by Uboat.net:

At 0556 hours, Mocenigo was on the surface when she sighted four enemy warships in two columns, proceeding on an SSW course at 18 knots at a distance of 2,000 meters. At 0558 hours, four torpedoes (G7e) were fired from the bow tubes at 2-second intervals from a distance of 800 meters, at what appeared to be a TRIBAL class destroyer. The submarine dived upon firing and heard two hits after 59 and 62 seconds. 

According to Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Francis Henely, the following exchange took place.

The forward lookout reported: “Ship torpedoed forward. Sir.”

At the same time, the aft lookout reported: “Ship torpedoed aft. Sir.”

To these reports Capt. Longley-Cook replied: “When you two chaps have made up your minds which end has been torpedoed, let me know.”

The torpedoes hit the cruiser’s bow and stern sections nearly simultaneously, killing an officer and two ratings, leaving the ship dead in the water and her after two turrets unusable. HMS Quality remained beside her throughout and HMS Eskimo— who had chased away Mocenigo— rejoined them just before daylight.

After shoring up the open compartments, Argonaut was amazingly able to get underway at 8 knots, heading slowly for Algiers which the force reached at 1700 hours on the 15th.

IWM captions for the below series: “British cruiser which lived to fight again. 14 to 19 December 1942, at sea and at Algiers, the British cruiser HMS Argonaut after she had been torpedoed in the Mediterranean. Despite heavy damage, she got home.”

IWM A 13756

A 13758

IWM A 13754

As for Mocenigo, seen here in the Azores in June 1941, she was lost to a USAAF air raid while tied up at Cagliari, Sardinia, on 13 May 1943.

Patch it up, and go again

After two weeks at Algiers conducting emergency repairs, Argonaut shipped out for HM Dockyard at Gibraltar for more extensive work than what could be offered by the French.

Ultimately, with nearly one-third of the ship needing replacement, it was decided to have the work done in the U.S. where more capacity existed and on 5 April 1943, the cruiser left for Philadelphia by way of Bermuda, escorted by the destroyer HMS Hero— which had to halt at the Azores with engine problems, leaving the shattered Argonaut to limp across the Atlantic for four days unescorted during the height of the U-boat offensive. Met off Bermuda by the destroyer USS Butler and the minesweepers USS Tumult and USS Pioneer, she ultimately reached the City of Brotherly Love on 27 April.

There, she would spend five months in the Naval Yard– the Australian War Memorial has several additional images of this-– and a further two months in post-refit trials.

HMS Argonaut, Philadelphia Navy Yard

HMS Argonaut, Philadelphia Navy Yard

One of the turrets with 5.25-inch guns of Dido-class light cruiser HMS ARGONAUT damaged by an Italian submarine 1942 Philadelphia Navy Yard – USA

Post rebuild HMS Argonaut, 5.25-inch guns pointing towards the camera, 11 February 1943

HMS Argonaut in her War Colors, circa 1943 just after repairs at Philadelphia.

HMS Argonaut at Philadelphia, 4 November 1943 BuShips photo 195343

Arriving back in the Tyne in December 1942, she would undergo a further three-month conversion and modification to fulfill an Escort Flagship role. This refit eliminated her “Q” 5.25-inch mount (her tallest) to cut down topside weight, added aircraft control equipment/IFF, and Types 293 (surface warning) and 277 (height finding) radar sets in addition to fire control radars for her increased AAA suite.

Fresh from her post-refit trails and essentially a new cruiser (again), Argonaut joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron of the Home Fleet in preparation for “the big show.”

Back in the Fight

Part of RADM Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton’s Bombarding Force K for Operation Neptune, Argonaut would fall in with the fellow British cruisers HMS Orion, Ajax, and Emerald, who, along with the eight Allied destroyers and gunboats (to include the Dutch Hr.Ms. Flores and Polish ORP Krakowiak), was tasked with opening the beaches for the Normandy Assault Force “G” (Gold Beach) on D-Day, the latter consisting of three dozen assorted landing craft of all sorts carrying troops of the British XXX Corps.

Capt. Longley-Cook, rejoining his command after a stint as Captain of the Fleet for the Mediterranean Fleet, instructed his crew that he fully intended to drive Argonaut ashore if she was seriously hit, beach the then nearly 7,000-ton cruiser, and keep fighting her until she ran out of shells.

Light cruiser HMS Argonaut in late 1944. Note her “Q” turret is gone and she is sporting multiple new radars

In all, Argonaut fired 394 5.25-inch shells on D-Day itself, tasked with reducing the German gun batteries at Vaux-sur-Aure, and by the end of July, would run through 4,395 shells in total, earning praise from Gen. Miles Dempsey for her accurate naval gunfire in support of operations around Caen.

It was during this period that she received a hit from a German 150mm battery, which landed on her quarterdeck off Caen on 26 June but failed to explode.

She fired so many shells in June and July that she had to pause midway through and run to Devonport to get her gun barrels– which had just been refurbed in Philadelphia– relined again.

Then came the Dragoon Landings in the South of France, sending Argonaut back to the Med, this time to the French Rivera.

Dido class cruiser HMS Argonaut in Malta, 1944. She has had her ‘Q’ turret removed to reduce top weight

Across 22 fire missions conducted in the three days (8/15-17/44) Argonaut was under U.S. Navy control for Dragoon, she let fly 831 rounds of 80-pound HE and SAP shells at ranges between 3,200 and 21,500 yards. Targets included three emplaced German 155s, armored casemates on the Île Saint-Honorat off Canne, along with infantry and vehicles in the field, with spotting done by aircraft.

She also scattered a flotilla of enemy motor torpedo boats hiding near the coast. All this while dodging repeated potshots from German coastal batteries, which, Longley-Cook dryly noted, “At 1100 I proceeded to the entrance of the Golfe de la Napoule to discover if the enemy guns were still active. They were.”

Argonaut’s skipper, Longley-Cook, observed in his 15-page report to the U.S. Navy, signed off by noting, “The operation was brilliantly successful, but it was a great disappointment that HMS Argonaut was released so soon. My short period of service with the United States Navy was a pleasant, satisfactory, and inspiring experience.”

CruDiv7 commander, RADM Morton Lyndholm Deyo, USN, stated in an addendum to the report that “HMS Argonaut was smartly handled and her fire was effective. She is an excellent ship.”

September saw Argonaut transferred to the British Aegean Force to support Allied forces liberating Greece. There, on 16 October, she caught, engaged, and sank two German-manned caiques who were trying to evacuate Axis troops.

HMS Argonaut leaving Poros in October 1944, participating in the landing of British troops for the liberation of Greece.

Headed to the East

Swapping out the unsinkable Longley-Cook for Capt. William Patrick McCarthy, RN, Argonaut sailed from Alexandria for Trincomalee in late November 1944 to join the massive new British Pacific Fleet.

Assigned to Force 67, a fast-moving carrier strike group built around HMS Indomitable and HMS Illustrious, by mid-December she was providing screening and cover for air attacks against Sumatra in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies (Operation Roberson) followed by a sequel attack on oil refineries at Pangkalan after the New Year (Operation Lentil) and, with TF 63, hitting other oil facilities in the Palembang area of Southeast Sumatra at the end of January 1945 in Operation Meridian.

Argonaut in Sydney, 1945

Making way to Ulithi in March, Argonaut was part of the top-notch British Task Force 57, likely the strongest Royal Navy assemblage of the war, and, integrated with the U.S. 5th Fleet, would take part in the invasion of Okinawa (Operation Iceberg). There, she would serve as a picket ship and screen, enduring the Divine Wind of the kamikaze.

When news of the emperor’s capitulation came in August, Argonaut was in Japanese home waters, still covering her carriers. She then transitioned to British Task Unit 111.3, a force designated to collect Allied POWs from camps on Formosa and the Chinese mainland.

HMS Argonaut in Kiirun (now Keelung) harbor in northern Taiwan, preparing to take on former American prisoners of war, 6 Sep 1945

War artist James Morris— who began the conflict as a Royal Navy signaler and then by 1945 was a full-time member of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee attached to the British Pacific Fleet– sailed aboard Argonaut during this end-of-war mop-up period, entering Formosa and Shanghai on the vessel, the latter on the occasion of the first British warship to sail into the Chinese harbor since 1941.

“HMS Argonaut: Ratings cleaning torpedo tubes.” Ink and paper drawing by James Morris. IWM Art collection LD 5533 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/19678

“Formosa, 6th September 1945, HMS Argonaut preceded by HMS Belfast entering the mined approach to Kiirung.” A view from the bridge of HMS Argonaut showing sailors on the deck below and HMS Belfast sailing up ahead near the coastline. A Japanese pilot launch is rocking in the swell at the side of the ship. In the distance, there are several American aircraft carriers at anchor. Watercolor by James Morris. IWM Art collection LD 5535 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/19680

“HMS Argonaut, the first British ship to enter Shanghai after the Japanese surrender, September 1945.” A scene from the deck of HMS Argonaut as she sails into Shanghai harbor. A ship’s company stands to attention along the rail and behind them, the ship’s band plays. The towering buildings along the dockside of Shanghai stand to the right of the composition. Below the ship, Chinese civilians wave flags from a convoy of sampans. Ink and paper drawing by James Morris. IWM Art collection LD 5531 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/19676

Based in Hong Kong for the rest of 1945, Argonaut returned to Portsmouth in 1946 and was promptly reduced to Reserve status.

HMS Argonaut homeward bound with her paying off pennant in 1946

She was laid up in reserve for nearly ten years, before being sent to the breakers in 1955.

She earned six battle honors: Arctic 1942, North Africa 1942, Mediterranean 1942, Normandy 1944, Aegean 1944, and Okinawa 1945.

Jane’s 1946 entry for the Dido class. Note, the publication separated the ships of the Bellona sub-class into a separate listing as they carried eight 4.5-inch guns rather than the 8-to-10 5.5s of the class standard.

Epilogue

Few relics of Argonaut remain, most notable of which is her 1943-44 builder’s model, preserved at Greenwich. 

As for Argonaut’s inaugural skipper and the man who brought her through sinking the Folgore, almost being sunk by an Italian submarine in return, D-Day, Dragoon, and the Aegean, VADM Eric William Longley-Cook, CB, CBE, DSO, would retire as Director of Naval Intelligence in 1951, capping a 37-year career.

Longley-Cook passed in 1983, just short of his 84th birthday.

Of note, Tenente di Vascello Alberto Longhi, skipper of the Italian boat that torpedoed Argonaut, survived the war– spending the last two years of it in a German stalag after refusing to join the Navy of the RSI, the fascist Italian puppet state set up after Italy dropped out of the Axis. He would outlive Longley-Cook and pass in 1988, aged 74.

Of Argonaut’s sisters, six of the 16 Didos never made it to see peacetime service: HMS Bonaventure (31) was sunk by the Italian submarine Ambra off Crete in 1941. HMS Naiad (93) was likewise sent to the bottom by the German submarine U-565 off the Egyptian coast while another U-boat, U-205, sank HMS Hermione (74) in the summer of 1942. HMS Charybdis (88), meanwhile, was sunk by German torpedo boats Т23 and Т27 during a confused night action in the English Channel in October 1943. HMS Spartan (95) was sunk by a German Hs 293 gliding bomb launched from a Do 217 bomber off Anzio in January 1944. HMS Scylla (98) was badly damaged by a mine in June 1944 and was never repaired.

Others, like Argonaut, were laid up almost immediately after VJ-Day and never sailed again. Just four Didos continued with the Royal Navy past 1948, going on to pick up “C” pennant numbers: HMS Phoebe (C43)HMS Cleopatra (C33), HMS Sirius (C82), and Euryalus (C42). By 1954, all had been stricken from the Admiralty’s list. 

Many went overseas. Smallish cruisers that could still give a lot of prestige to growing Commonwealth navies, several saw a second career well into the Cold War. Improved-Didos HMS Bellona (63) and HMS Black Prince (81) were put at the disposal of the Royal New Zealand Navy for a decade with simplified armament until they were returned and scrapped. HMS Royalist (89) likewise served with the Kiwis until 1966 then promptly sank on her way to the scrappers. HMS Diadem (84) went to Pakistan in 1956 as PNS Babur, after an extensive modernization, and remained in service there into the 1980s, somehow dodging Soviet Styx missiles from Indian Osa-class attack boats in the 1971 war between those two countries.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, to perpetuate her name, the fourth Argonaut was a hard-serving Leander-class ASW frigate, commissioned in 1967.

Frigate HMS Argonaut, of the Leander class, and her Lynx helicopter, in 1979.

That ship, almost 40 years after her WWII namesake was crippled, had her own brush with naval combat that left scars.

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL – JUNE 1982 (FKD 193) The Leander class frigate HMS ARGONAUT on fire in San Carlos Water after being attacked and badly damaged in Argentine air attacks on 21 May 1982. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205189253

The H.M.S. Argonaut Association keeps the memory of all the past vessels with that name alive.

Speaking of which, in Feb. 2019, four surviving Royal Navy veterans of the Normandy landings– all in the 90s– assembled aboard HMS Belfast in the Thames to receive the Legion d’Honneur from French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Jouyet in recognition of their efforts in liberating the country 75 years prior.

One saw the beaches from Argonaut.

Mr. John Nicholls (right), who received the Légion d’honneur medal

93-year-old John Nicholls from Greenwich served aboard HMS Argonaut which bombarded German positions; he also drove landing craft.

The tumult of battle severely damaged his hearing – he’s been 65 percent deaf ever since, but he remains haunted by the sight of men who lost so much more.

“I looked at some of those troops as they were going in and thought: I wonder how many of them are going to come back,’” he recalled. “I came out of it with just half of my hearing gone, but those poor devils – they lost their lives. I think of them all the time. Not just on Remembrance Day. They’re going through my mind all times of the year.”


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Plumbing the Archives (and finding some gems!)

While I spend a lot of time digging through various archives, a new one is proving interesting. While the Associated Press’s video news archive on YouTube has been around since 2015 and has chalked up over 2 billion views, it is normally ho-hum at best, simply reposting the latest Hollywood gossip or political talking head that aired three days ago.

However, they have been blitzing the channel almost every morning for the past couple of weeks with some great short clips from the 1960s and 70s.

Among the more interesting gems I’ve noticed popping up lately (and getting single-digit views no less!):

The very early XV-6A (P1127) Harrier prototypes doing landing tests on the supercarrier USS Independence (CV-62) in June 1966.

An XB-70A Valkyrie prototype (#AV-2) crash out of Edwards AFB in the same month, featuring amazing footage of both AV-1 and AV-2 in flight.

The newly-commissioned (and soon to be tragically lost) Skipjack-class nuclear-powered submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) cruising on the surface.

A May 1974 clip of the amphibious assault ships USS Inchon (LPH-12) and Iwo Jima (LPH-2) in the Suez operating RH-53D minesweeper birds of HM-12 in an effort to clear the canal of mines sown in the Yom Kippur War, including a shot of Iwo with no less than seven big Sikorsky’s on her deck. The TF65 (Operation Nimbus Star) mission saw HM-12 sweep some 7,600 linear miles in about 500 hours of on-station time.

B-52 Strat carpet bombings in the jungle outside of Saigon in Nov. 1965, with fighter escort from an F-100 Super Sabre.

Israeli self-propelled artillery guns of the Yom Kippur War era including rare Soltam L-33 Ro’ems which were M4 Sherman tanks modded with a huge hull and a 155mm L/33 howitzer.

April 1978 clip of white-painted UN-marked French Panhard armored cars (including some 90mm gun-armed variants) rolling off an LST into Beirut

And a longer August 1978 piece on the Panavia Tornado– likely early prototype XX946– in tests with the RAF, including some great low-level passes at MOD Boscombe Down. Keep in mind that the RAF only accepted their first two production Tornado in July 1980.

80 Years Ago: Boyington is Back, Baby

Born in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho in December 1912, Gregory Boyington sought out the military at age 21. Commissioned a 2nd LT in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1934, serving with the cannon cockers of the 630th Coast Artillery on the Washington coast for 11 months, Boyington was then accepted to the Marine Corps Reserve Aviation Cadet program where he trained from 18 February 1936 to July 1937.

Pappy Aviation Cadet Gregory Boyington taken during his flight instruction at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, 1936

Gregory Pappy Boyington NAS Pensacola Class 88-C standing second from right

After finishing the program, he was granted a regular commission in the Marines, where he served until 27 August 1941 when he resigned his commission with an understanding “that I would be reinstated without loss of precedence when I returned to United States Service,” then left the Corps as a 1st LT to join the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) fighting for the KMT forces in China against the Japanese.

Boyington was a private military contractor of sorts with the original Flying Tigers, operational from December 20, 1941. Note the P-40 Warhawks in the background. Boyington claimed six victories, but that number is unconfirmed with some sources just saying he got two. The Chinese eventually paid him bonuses for 3.5 meatballs at $500 per kill.

Returning home from China in July 1942, he promptly sought to return to the Corps in a flying assignment, after all, there was something of a war on.

This was granted after passing a new flight physical and obtaining several endorsements, on 16 September 1942– some 80 years ago today– as a 1st LT in the USMC Reserve. After fighting with the brass for two weeks over getting a reserve commission when he left on a regular one and being told essentially “we will see,” Boyington went ahead and accepted the appointment on 29 September.

The Corps’ Director of Aviation nonetheless recommended to the Commandant that Boyington’s recommissioning halted, noting his previous stint with the Marines prior to leaving for China did not point to him as becoming a career officer and that Claire Chennault with the Tigers had noted, “This pilot was a capable flyer and would have been of valuable service were it not for his excessive drinking,” despite the fact Boyington was officially credited with at least 2 “kills” in China.

Cooling his heels, Boyington kept the telegrams to Marine HQ rolling.

Finally, on 10 November– the Birthday of the Corps– he was ordered for a second physical at Pasco, Washington (he lived at the time at Okanogan) and, if passed, to proceed to San Diego where he would report to Marine Airwings Pacific for assignment to “active duty in the Aeronautic Organization of the Marine Corps Reserve.” Passing his cough check, Boyington was duly promoted to Major (temporary) in the USMCR on 24 November.

Working through enhanced flying training on the West Coast, he was then appointed in January 1943 to XO of the “Candystripers” of VMF-122 on Guadalcanal, operating F4F Wildcats with the Cactus Air Force at Henderson Field until July of that year. Raised up to become the squadron’s skipper in July, he was there for the unit’s transition to F4U Corsairs.

Soon after, he was made commander of VMF-214 which he joined at Turtle Bay Airfield on Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides in August 1943.

It took roughly a year from the time he was reinstated before he would become the head of VMF-214.

Marine Attack Squadron Two Hundred and Fourteen – VMF 214 (Black Sheep Squadron) on Turtle Bay Fighter Strip, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. They are shown before leaving for Munda, with an F4U in the background, on 11 September 1943. Note, Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, 8th from left, front row. U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-54288.

Flying with his famed “Black Sheep” the elderly — at age 31– “Gramps” Boyington claimed 13 kills in aerial combat over the Solomans between 15 September and 20 October 1943.

Remarkably, an act of Congress (S.1427) was introduced in October 1943 to grant him a regular commission (as a 1st LT). Over time, the Gramps nickname would fade to be replaced by the more lovable “Pappy” and the rest, as they say, is history…

Ukraine Goes 1973 Yom Kippur

Some of the videos and photos coming back from around Kharkiv/Kharkov, where Ukraine has mounted what seems by all accounts to be a very successful counteroffensive, are stunning. Russian forces have without question abandoned significant amounts of equipment and materiel around the city, with indications pointing to a disorganized rout.

“Russian equipment abandoned. Russian soldiers switching into civilian attire and trying to blend into the population and escape the front. This is not a ‘red badge of courage’ moment for Putin’s army,” noted ADM James Stavridis.

Even the Russians are confirming they have pulled back their lines, which is a rare admission from Moscow in a war that for the past 200 days has been akin to Baghdad Bob.

By some accounts, the military feint to the south around Kherson and detailed intel provided to Kyiv/Kiev by Western sources, set up the Russians for an easy fall.

It is all very reminiscent of the Israeli counter-push in the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

Takeaways as noted from the ISW:

  • Ukrainian forces are continuing to make impactful gains in Kherson Oblast and are steadily degrading the morale and combat capabilities of Russian forces in this area.
  • The Russian military command may be suspending the deployment of newly formed units to Ukraine due to recent Russian losses and overall degraded morale.
  • Russian forces are failing to reinforce the new frontline following Ukrainian gains in eastern Kharkiv Oblast and are actively fleeing the area or redeploying to other axes.
  • Ukrainian forces continued targeting Russian military assets and positions in Kherson Oblast, likely steadily degrading them.
  • The Ukrainian recapture of Izyum has likely degraded Russian forces’ ability to conduct artillery strikes along the Izyum-Slovyansk highway.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced the restoration of the second reserve power transmission line to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).
  • Ukraine’s sweeping counteroffensive is damaging Russian administrative capabilities and driving Russian departures from occupied parts of Ukraine far behind the line of contact.

Of course, the Russians are regrouping and plastering the region to the Northwest of Kharkiv/Kharkov with lots of rockets and air-delivered weapons (often with VDS flying missions that stop at the Russian border then lofting weapons to target down range) and if the Ukrainians outrun their supply lines the tide could turn. However, the first snowfall in the region normally hits in mid-October so the “fighting season” is likely to close in just a few weeks.

One key statistic that I would like to reference is that Oryx, which has been keeping a public running tab of equipment lost by both sides– using photographic reference as confirmation — since the war started on 24 February, has surpassed the 1,000th tank documented lost by the Russians. In comparison, Russia lost only three tanks during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

The Oryx Russian tank tally as of 13 September stands at 1,087, of which destroyed: 654, damaged: 44, abandoned: 51, and captured: 338. Most are T-72 variants (638) but a lot are newer T-80s (210) and even some T-90s (22) while only a few are ancient models such as the 43 T-64s logged.

As a note on propaganda and “body counts,” the Ukrainian MOD says they have zapped twice as many Russian tanks, which is obviously inflated.

The Ukrainians claim 2,175 Russian tanks have been accounted for, roughly a 100 percent inflation from what has been confirmed with open-sourced imagery.

By comparison, Oryx has Ukraine losing 259 tanks, mostly modified T-64BV models. This points to the massive amount of modern anti-tank weapons sent to the country in recent months.

Just take a look at the latest (8 September) fact sheet from the Pentagon on the $15 billion worth of goodies the U.S. alone has provided– it contains 8,500 Javelins (which will take at least four years to replace, just saying), 1,500 older TOW missiles, and 32,000 “other” mostly one-shot anti-armor systems such as M136/AT-4s, M72s, M151 BDM/Mk 153 SMAWs, etc.

Another interesting development is using cheap drones– even commercial Chinese quad-copters– by Ukrainian “poacher” units to drop grenades and mortar bombs down the hatches of resting Russian tanks behind the lines.

In short, Ukraine is the scariest environment imaginable for a Russian tanker to operate.

Into the Lion’s Den

50 years ago today.

Haiphong Harbor, 27 August 1972: In the last naval battle of the Vietnam War and the last time that American surface ships would close within mutal range of enemy shore batteries in a naval gunfire raid, Operation Lion’s Den was one for the books.

The four ships task unit four-ship task unit (TU 77.1.2) surface action group included the 8-inch-gunned heavy cruiser USS Newport News (CA-148) – -with VADM James Holloway, COMSEVENTHFLT, aboard no less!– followed by the 6-inch-gunned light cruiser USS Providence (CLG-6), the missile destroyer USS Robinson (DDG-12), and the ersatz “Wild Weasel” tin can Rowan (DD-782), would lay down a naval gunfire strike against targets in Haiphong, on the Do Son Peninsula and Cat Ba Island, all in North Vietnam’s home waters in conjunction with Operation Linebacker air strikes.

They would reportedly trade shells at a roughly 2:1 rate with NVA shore batteries, with the American guns being much more effective.

“When Lightning Followed Thunder” by Dale Byhre, showing the destroyer USS Rowan astern of the cruiser USS Newport News, as they engage in bombarding enemy shore installations and suppressing fire from enemy shore batteries.

The engagement as related by the flag officer on Providence, who fired 250 shells in the half-hour raid and reported a trio of responding P-6 (Soviet-made) torpedo boats sunk.

From Newport News‘ history:

During the 33-minute raid 433 8-inch, 532 5-inch, and 33 3-inch rounds were fired. Two secondary explosions had been observed and ammunition was seen “cooking off” at a coastal defense site. Seventy-five enemy rounds were counted. Shrapnel was found around some of the weather decks, but damage to the ship was negligible.

As noted by NHHC:

At 2300, Newport News opened fire with her 8-inch guns at the primary targets. Rowan fired four Shrike anti-radiation missiles at North Vietnamese radar sites (Rowan had been specially equipped with a “Shrike on Board” system mounted on her ASROC launcher).

During the course of the 33-minute engagement, North Vietnamese coast defense artillery fired about 300 rounds at the U.S. ships. Although none hit, many came as close as 15–20 yards. Newport News had shrapnel on her weather decks, but no serious damage. Holloway spent part of the battle outside the pilot house to “experience the battle” as he later said, probably to the consternation of the skipper. The North Vietnamese lacked flashless powder, so their guns proved vulnerable to U.S. fire and most were silenced. The U.S. ships ceased shelling at 2333 after expending about 700 rounds of ammunition and noting at least five major secondary explosions ashore.

While the U.S. would go on to use Naval Gunfire Support off Lebanon in 1983 (USS New Jersey) and in the Persian Gulf (destroyers and frigates during Operation Preying Mantis in 1988, and Desert Storm in 1991 with 1,083 16-inch shells lobbed by the battleships Missouri and Wisconsin), they wouldn’t take enemy shells back in kind.

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022: Last Dance of the Prancing Dragon

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022: Last Dance of the Prancing Dragon

Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Above we see the Japanese light carrier Ryujo (also sometimes seen in the West incorrectly as Ryukyu) on sea trials at Satamisaki-oki, 6 September 1934 after her reconstruction, note her open bow and tall flight deck, showing off her bridge under the lip of the flattop. Built to a problematic design, she had lots of teething problems and, while she breathed fire in the Empire’s dramatic expansion after Pearl Harbor, the sea closed over her some 80 years ago today and extinguished her flames.

If you compare the development of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s aircraft carrier program in the 1920s and 30s to that of the U.S. Navy, there is a clear parallel. Each fleet had an initial, awkward, flattop commissioned in 1922 that proved to be a “schoolship” design to cradle a budding naval aviation program (Japan’s circa 1922 10,000-ton Hosho vs the 14,000-ton USS Langley). This was followed by a pair of much larger carriers that were built on the hulls of battlewagons whose construction had been canceled due to the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty but still carried large enough 7.9-inch/8-inch gun batteries to rate them as heavy cruisers in armament if not in armor (the 38,000/40,000-ton Kaga and Akagi vs. the 36,000-ton USS Lexington and USS Saratoga) that would pioneer the art of using such vessels via war gaming exercises. Then came smallish (to make the most of treaty limits), specially-designed, one-off carriers that were built after several years of experience with the type– the “under 10,000-ton” Ryujo vs the 15,000-ton USS Ranger (CV-4), which would be test beds for the bigger and better designs that each country would turn to for heavy lifting in 1942 (32,000-ton Shokaku class vs the 25,000-ton Yorktown class).

Laid down on 26 November 1929 at Mitsubishi in Yokoyama, Ryujo, whose name translates into something akin to “prancing dragon” or “dragon phoenix,” was slipped in by the Japanese as a nominal 8,000-ton aviation ship before the 1930 London Naval Treaty came in and limited even these small carriers as well as placed an armament cap of 6-inch guns on flattops.

Ryujo under construction Drydock No. 5, Yokosuka, Japan, 20 Oct 1931. Note how small she appears in the battleship-sized dock

Built on a slim 590-foot cruiser-style hull that, with a dozen boilers and a pair of steam turbines could make 29 knots, the Japanese elected for an extremely top-heavy build above the waterline placing her double-deck hangars and stubby 513-foot long flight deck towering some 50-feet into above the 01 deck to what proved to be an unsteady metacentric height (GM). Like Langley and Hosho, she was a true flattop, lacking a topside island, which would have made the whole thing even more unstable, instead opting to have a broad “greenhouse” bridge on the forward lip of the flight deck.

A period postcard of the Japanese aircraft carriers Ryūjō (top) and the legacy Hōshō. Note the height difference

Close-up view of the stern of carrier Ryujo, Yokosuka, Japan, 19 June 1933. Note how high her flight deck is from the main deck.

Ryujo Photograph taken in 1933, when the ship was first completed. The original print was provided by Dr. Oscar Parkes, Editor, Jane’s Fighting Ships. It was filed on 27 October 1933. NH 42271

She spent 1933 and 1935 in a series of rebuilds that moved to address her stability issues– which she suffered in a typhoon that left her hangar flooded. These changes included torpedo bulges and active stabilizers on her hull, more ballast, and, by a third rebuild completed in 1940, carried a redesigned bow form with re-ducted funnels.

Close-up of Japanese carrier Ryujo’s side mounted exhaust funnels and 12.7cm anti-aircraft guns, Yokosuka, 20 March 1933

This pushed her to over 12,700 tons in displacement and change her profile.

Aircraft carrier Ryujo undergoing full-scale trials after restoration performance improvement work (September 6, 1934, between the pillars at Satamisaki). Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

She saw her inaugural taste of combat in the war with China in the last quarter of 1937, operating a mix of a dozen Navy Type 95 Carrier Fighter and Type 94/96 Carrier Bombers (Susies), both highly maneuverable biplanes. Her Type 95s met Chinese KMT-flown Curtiss F11C Goshawks in aerial combat with the Japanese claiming six kills.

Ryujo at sea 1936. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Ryujo. Underway at sea, September 1938. Donation of Kazutoshi Hando, 1970. NH 73072

Ryujo at sea between 1934 and 1937 with only 4×2 127mm AA-guns after 1934 refit

It should be observed that the two 670-foot submarine tenders, Zuiho and Shoho, that were converted to light carriers in 1940-41, as well as the tender Taigei (converted and renamed Ryuho) and the three Nitta Maru-class cargo liners converted to Taiyō-class escort carriers in 1942-43, greatly favored our Ryujo in profile and they were surely constructed with the lessons gleaned from what had gone wrong with that latter carrier in the previous decade. Notably, while still having a flush deck design without an island, these six conversions only had a single hangar deck instead of Ryujo’s double hangar deck, giving them a smaller maximum air wing (25-30 aircraft vs 40-50) but a shorter height and thus better seakeeping ability.

Japanese carrier Zuiho, note the similarity to Ryujo

Running Amok for five months

Ryujo would be left behind when Yamamoto sent Nagumo’s Kido Butai eight-carrier strike force (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Shokaku, Soryu, and Zuikaku on the attack itself, screened from a distance by Hosho and Zuiho) to hit Pearl Harbor, instead tasking the wallowing light carrier with being the sole flattop supporting Takahashi’s Third Fleet’s invasion of the Philippines.

USN Recognition slide of the Ryujo LOC Lot-2406-5

With the Japanese keeping their battleships in a fighting reserve in the Home Islands for the anticipated Tsushima-style fleet action, and every other carrier either in the yard or on the Pearl Harbor operation, Ryujo was the Third Fleet’s only capital ship, a key asset operating amid a force of cruisers, seaplane tenders, and destroyers– appreciated at last!

Ryujo was still 100 percent more carrier than RADM Thomas Hart’s Asiatic Fleet had in their order of battle, and the dragon was very active in the PI with her airwing of Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bombers and Mitsubishi A5M “Claude” fighters. It was her planes that delivered the first strikes of the Japanese invasion on 8 December when they hit U.S. Navy assets in Davao Bay in Northern Luzon then spent the rest of the month covering the landings there.

A Japanese Nakajima B5N1 Type 97 from the aircraft carrier Ryujo flies over the U.S. Navy seaplane tender USS William B. Preston (AVD-7) in Malalag Bay, Mindanao, Philippines, during the early morning of 8 December 1941. Two Consolidated PBY-4 Catalinas (101-P-4 and 101-P-7) from Patrol Squadron 01 (VP-101), Patrol Wing 10, are burning offshore. Via Maru magazine No. 461, December 1984 via j-aircraft.org

In January 1942, she was shifted south to support the Malaysia invasion from Japanese-occupied Camranh Bay in French Indochina, with her Claudes thought to have shot down at least two RAF Lockheed Hudsons off Redang Island while her Kates are credited with anti-shipping strikes off Singapore on 13-17 February that sent the Dutch tankers Merula (8,226 tons) and Manvantara (8,237 tons) along with the British steamer Subadar (5,424 tons), to the bottom. Fending off counterattacks, her Claudes shot down two RAF Bristol Blenheim from 84 Squadron and a Dornier Do 24 flying boat of the Dutch Navy.

Here we see Hr.Ms. Java was under attack by Japanese Nakajima B5N “Kate” high-altitude bombers from the light carrier Ryujo in the Gaspar Straits of what is today Indonesia, 15 February 1942. Remarkably, the Dutch light cruiser would come through this hail without a scratch, however, her days were numbered, and she would be on the bottom of the Pacific within a fortnight of the above image. Australian War Memorial photo 305183

While her Kates twice attacked Hr.Ms. Java and HMS Exeter (68) of Graf Spee fame on 15 February without causing either cruiser much damage, Ryujo’s air group found more success in attacking the Dutch destroyer Hr.Ms. Van Nes two days later. A strike of 10 B5N1s chased the Admiralen-class greyhound down in the Java Sea and landed two hits, sending her to the bottom with 68 of her crewmen.

Two Japanese Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers (B5N2 in the foreground and B5N1 in the background) over the Java Sea on 17 February 1942. The smoke in the background is coming from the Dutch destroyer Hr.Ms. Van Nes. She was sunk by Japanese aircraft from the aircraft carrier Ryujo circa 30 km from Toboali, Bangka Island while escorting the troop transport Sloet van Beele.

On the morning of 1 March in the immediate aftermath of the overnight Battle of the Java Sea, her Kates all but disabled the old Clemson-class four-piper USS Pope (DD-225) off Bawean Island, leaving her to be finished off by Japanese cruisers.

April saw Ryujo join Ozawa’s mobile force for the epic “Operation C” raids into the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, where she split her time sending out Kates on search-shipping strikes (sinking the 5,082-ton British steamer Harpasa on 5 April) and raids on the Indian ports of Vizagapatam and Cocanada, accounting for eight assorted Allied ships on 6 April in conjunction with the guns of Ozawa’s cruisers. It is even reported by Combined Fleet that Ryujo was able to use her own 5-inch guns against surface targets as well, an almost unheard of level of sea control.

Arriving back home in Kure in May after five solid months of running amok, Ryujo would land her obsolete Claude fighters in favor of shiny new Mitsubishi Type 0 A6M2 “Zekes” of the latest design– some of which just left the factory– as the Admiralty aimed to send her into an operation where she may expect interference from American F4F Wildcats and P-39 Aircobra/P-40 Warhawks: Operation AL, the diversionary seizure of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians during the Battle of Midway.

Dutch Harbor & Koga’s Zero

Sent to attack Alaska as part of VADM Hosogaya Boshiro’s Aleutian invasion force in company with the new 27,500-ton carrier Junyo, Ryujo would be active in a series of three air raids on Dutch Harbor and Unalaska on 3-4 June which didn’t cause much damage on either side, then covered the bloodless landings at Attu and Kiska on the 7th.

Dutch Harbor, Unalaska Island, Alaska, 3 June 1942: A Navy machine gun crew watches intently as Japanese aircraft depart the scene after the attack. Smoke in the background is from the steamer SS Northwestern, set ablaze by a dive bomber (80-G-11749).

However, one of the aircraft that failed to return to Ryujo was one of those beautiful new Zekes, SN 4593/Tail DI-108, flown by 19-year-old Flight Petty Officer Tadayoshi Koga. His oil line hit by a “magic BB” from small arms fire over Dutch Harbor, Koga tried to land his smoking fighter on remote green Akutan Island, some 25 miles from nowhere, where it could possibly be recovered and flown back home or destroyed in place if needed. However, it turned out that the flat field Koga aimed for on Akutan was a bog and his aircraft flipped, killing him, on contact.

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-sen 10 July 1942, on Akutan Island, in the Aleutians aircraft had been flown by petty officer Tadayoshi Koga, IJN, from the carrier RYUJO. Aircraft damaged on 4 June 1942; the pilot was killed when the plane flipped over on its back. This “Zero” was the first captured intact for flight tests. NH 82481

U.S. Navy personnel inspect Koga’s Zero. The petty officer’s body was recovered still inside the cockpit, relatively preserved by the icy bog despite being there for over a month. Regretfully, a number of images of his cadaver are digitized and in wide circulation. Museum of the Aleutians Collections. MOTA 2018.16.10

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen on the docks at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 17 July 1942. This plane, from carrier RYUJO, had crash landed after the Dutch Harbor Raid on 4 June 1942. It was salvaged by VP-41 and was the first “Zero” captured intact for flight tests. NH 91339

The Zero on a barge in Alaska on August 8

More on Koga’s plane later.

The Dragon’s final dance

Having returned to Kure in July after the disaster that befell the Japanese carrier force in a single day at Midway (“scratch four flattops”), Ryujo was now suddenly more important than she had ever been before.

By early August, she was attached to Nagumo’s Main Unit Mobile Force– who the Japanese somehow still trusted– alongside the large fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku of the First Carrier Division which had survived Midway by not being at Midway. Coupled with the battleships Hiei and Kirishima (which would never come back home), the force was dispatched towards Truk to challenge the growing American presence on Guadalcanal. With Shokaku and Zuikaku large enough to tote both strike and fighter packages, the smaller Ryujo, paired with the old battleship Mutsu in a diversionary force away from the two bigger carriers, would instead have a fighter-heavy air wing of 9 Kates and 24 Zekes as American flattops were known to be lurking in the area.

On 24 August, Nagumo’s carriers were close enough to attack Henderson Field on Guadalcanal but in turn fell under the crosshairs of the numerical inferior Task Force 61, commanded by VADM Frank J. Fletcher (who had spanked Nagumo 11 weeks earlier at Midway), in what went down in the history books as Battle of Eastern Solomons. While Ryujo’s strike would hit the U.S. positions on Lunga Point– in a raid observed by Fletcher’s radar-equipped force– SBDs from Bombing Three and TBFs from Torpedo Eight off USS Saratoga (CV 3) would find the relatively undefended Ryujo and leave her dead in the water where land-based B-17s would find her in two follow-on raids.

A U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless flies over the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6), foreground, and USS Saratoga (CV-3) near Guadalcanal. The aircraft is likely on anti-submarine patrol. Saratoga is trailed by her plane guard destroyer. Another flight of three aircraft is visible near Saratoga. The radar array on the Enterprise has been obscured by a wartime censor. U.S. Navy National Naval Aviation Museum photo NNAM.1996.253.671

Battle of the Eastern Solomons, 24 August 1942: The damaged and immobile Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo was photographed from a USAAF B-17 bomber, during a high-level bombing attack on 24 August 1942. The destroyers Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze had been removing her crew and are now underway, one from a bow-to-bow position and the other from alongside. Two “sticks” of bombs are bursting on the water, more than a ship length beyond the carrier. The bow of the cruiser Tone is visible at the extreme right. 80-G-88021

Diorama of Ryjuo attack from the Don Garber Collection South Pacific WWII Museum

As detailed by Combined Fleet:

  • 1357 RYUJO is attacked by enemy aircraft (30 SBD and 8 TBF launched at 1315 from USS SARATOGA, (CV-3). The CAP manages to shoot down one TBF, but the carrier receives four bomb hits, many near-misses, and one torpedo hit aft of amidships. The torpedo floods the starboard engine room, and the ship begins to list and lose speed. A second torpedo hit, or large bomb appears to have damaged the port bow.
  • 1408, RYUJO turned north and attempted to retire as ordered by Admiral Yamamoto. But though the fire is extinguished, the list increased to 21 degrees, and flooding disabled the boilers and machinery.
  • 1420 RYUJO stops. At 1515 ‘Abandon Ship’ is ordered. AMATSUKAZE draws close along the low starboard side to attempt to transfer the crew bodily to her by planks linking the ships.
  • 1610-1625 During abandonment, the carrier and screen are bombed by B-17s that are engaged by her fighters, and she receives no further damage.
  • 1730 B-17s bomb again but again no additional damage. AMATSUKAZE completes rescue, and shortly after, about:
  • 1755 RYUJO capsized to starboard and after floating long enough to reveal holes in her bottom, sinks stern first at 06-10S, 160-50E, bearing 10 degrees 106 miles from Tulagi.
  • Four aircraft go down with the ship. Seven officers – including XO Cdr (Captain posthumously) Kishi and Maintenance Officer LtCdr (Eng.) (Cdr (Eng.) posthumously) Nakagawa – and 113 petty officers and men are lost; Captain Kato and the survivors are rescued by destroyers AMATSUKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE and heavy cruiser TONE. The destroyers soon transfer these survivors to the TOEI MARU and TOHO MARU.

Epilogue

While Ryujo has been at the bottom of the Southern Pacific for 80 years now, her legacy should not be forgotten. When it comes to Koga’s advanced model Zero, left behind in Alaska in what was described as “98 percent condition,” the aircraft was so key to Allied intelligence efforts that it has been described as “The Fighter That Changed World War II.”

Koga’s Zero in U.S. markings while assigned to NACA 1943

The folks over at Grumman were able to get their test pilots and engineers in it, then use lessons drawn from it to tweak the F6F Hellcat and later, the F7F and F8F.

Koga’s Zero in flight

As noted by Wings of the Rising Sun excerpts at The Aviation Geek Club:

Once the fighter had been sent to NAS Anacostia in late 1942, a series of test flights were performed by the Naval Air Station’s Flight Test Director, Cdr Frederick M. Trapnell. He flew identical flight profiles in both the Zero and U.S. fighters to compare their performance, executing similar aerial maneuvers in mock dogfights. U.S. Navy test pilot LT Melvin C. “Boogey” Hoffman was also checked out in the A6M2, after which he helped train Naval Aviators flying new F6F Hellcats, F4U Corsairs, and FM Wildcats by dogfighting with them in the Zero.

In 1943 the aircraft was evaluated in NACA’s LMAL in Hampton, Virginia, where the facility’s Full-Scale Wind Tunnel was used to evaluate the Zero’s aerodynamic qualities. It was also shown off to the public at Washington National Airport that same year during a war booty exhibition. By September 1944, the well-used A6M2 was stationed at NAS North Island once again, where it served as a training aid for “green” Naval Aviators preparing for duty in the Pacific.

RADM William N. Leonard said of Koga’s plane, “The captured Zero was a treasure. To my knowledge, no other captured machine has ever unlocked so many secrets at a time when the need was so great.” On the other side of the pond, Japanese Lt-Gen. Masatake Okumiya said the plane’s loss “was no less serious” than the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway, and “did much to hasten Japan’s final defeat.”

PO Koga, the teenage son of a carpenter, was at first buried in the hummocks some 100 yards from his crash site after he was extracted from the Zero. Exhumed in 1947, his remains were interred in the cemetery on Adak, in grave 1082 marked as “Japanese Flyer Killed in Action.” He was exhumed a final time in 1953 for repatriation along with 253 others from the Aleutians, and since then has been in the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery in Japan. The location of his lonely crash on Atukan, half a mile inland from Broad Bight, is occasionally visited by groups from Japan.

While Koga’s Zero was mauled in a mishap on the ground in February 1945 and then later scrapped, instruments from it are on display at the Museum of the U.S. Navy and two of its manufacturer’s plates are in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage, some of the only relics of Ryujo left.

Ryujo is remembered in a variety of maritime art, most of which is used for scale model box art. 

Specs:

(1941)
Displacement: 12,732 tons
Length: 590’7″
Beam: 68’2″
Draft: 23’3″
Machinery: 12 x Kampon water-tube boilers, 2 geared steam turbines, 2 shafts, 65,000 shp
Speed: 29 knots
Crew: 924
Airwing: up to 48 single-engine aircraft
Armament:
8 x 5″/40 Type 89 naval gun
4 x 25mm/60 Hotchkiss-licensed Type 96 light AA guns
24 x 13mm/76 AAAs


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