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Unprintable Phraseology

In the interest of, Happy Friday, here is this May 1945 U.S. Army Signal Corps image of an M4 Sherman tank crew from the Library of Congress.

"A tank sunk in 5 feet of water waits for towing equipment. The Tank Commander gives vent to his feelings with a string of unprintable phraseology, while his driver uses a helmet to bale out the interior. Okinawa."

111-SC-209070

Offical caption:

“A tank sunk in 5 feet of water waits for towing equipment. The Tank Commander gives vent to his feelings with a string of unprintable phraseology, while his driver uses a helmet to bale out the interior. Okinawa.”

Monsters from Mars, or Forts from Seattle, either way

Official caption: “Giving them the appearance of Monsters from Mars, the vapor trails left by these B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Army 8th AF leave their marls in the sub-stratosphere. Vapor trails left by Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Army 8th AF leave their marks in the sub-stratosphere. The curved trails were made by the fighters accompanying the B-17’s. The deadly .50 Cal. Machine guns, bristling from the leading Fortress, are plainly visible against the light reflected from the contrails.”

Note the fighter top cover. U.S. Army A.A.F. photo No. 26566 A.C. LC-USZ62-107648

Warship Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019: The White Lady

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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, Sep 4, 2019: The White Lady

*While not a warship, we have covered iconic sail training ships several times in the past due to their interesting, often winding history, and their role in making the men of steel that go on to conn and crew a seagoing nation’s battle lines. This has included the four-masted barque, Abraham Rydberg; the German/American Gorch Fock/Eagle, the Christian Radich out of Norway, Soviet Tovarish, and the Danish East Asiatic Company schoolship  and mystery of the sea, København*

Via Gdynia Wsieci MMG-HM-II-502-27

With this week being the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland in World War II, it is only fitting that we see here the famed sail training ship Dar Pomorza in about 1930, one of the few flying the Polish flag that escaped destruction during the conflict and went on to serve another four decades.

However, before she was Polish, she flew a different flag.

Built in 1909 by Blohm & Voss (Hull #202) as the full-rigged sail training ship Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, she was originally named for Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Oldenburg. She and her three sisters–Großherzogin Elisabeth, Großherzog Friedrich August, and Schulschiff Deutschland (the latter built in 1927) — were all owned and operated Deutscher Schulschiffverein (DSV), or the German School Ship Association, for the purpose of educating young mariners in association with Norddeutsche Lloyd. These were among the first purpose-built sail training ships. As both the Kaiser and Grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg were patrons, the names of the ships are no-brainers.

Prinzess Eitel-Friedrich launching April 3, 1909, Foto via Schulschiff Deutschland

Capable of carrying 25 sails with a total sail area of some 1,950 sq. meters, the 305-foot-long vessels looked like flying clouds when they were in the wind.

Schulschiff Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, 1915

Prinzess Eitel Friedrich between 1910 and 1914 State Library of Victoria SLV H99.220-2588

Commissioned in 1910, Prinzzess Eitel Friedrich sailed on her maiden voyage to Christiansand and Antwerp. Nonetheless, the Germans only got three years of active service from her before the Great War, primarily short summer cruises for officer candidates in European waters and longer winter cruises to the Caribbean Sea and Latin America while the Baltic was iced in.

During the war, the three existing sisters all managed to come through unscathed while conducting limited training evolutions in the Baltic, but by 1919, two the marine training ships were allocated to the victorious Allies as war reparations– causing Schulschiff Deutschland to be constructed in the 1920s.

Grossherzog Friedrich August went to the British, while Prinzess Eitel Friedrich was allocated to the French where she was used as the sail training ship Colbert at the St-Nazaire seaman’s school (Société Anonyme de Navigation Les Navires Écoles Français).

By 1926, the French sold her to British gentleman race car driver and yachtsman Baron (Maurice) de Forest who very soon after looked to rid himself of the giant three-master as it did not fit his needs.

Enter Poland

When Poland re-emerged in November 1918 after more than a century of partition by the recently deceased Austrian, German, and Russian Empires, she needed a Navy to defend her thin share of the Baltic. Having to cough up one from scratch, most of her professional officers came from the fleets of the former occupiers– the Polish Navy’s 1939 commander, Counter-Admiral Józef Unrug, was a German U-boat commander during the Great War while the Navy’s chief of staff, Vice-Admiral Jerzy Świrski, was a destroyer commander in the Tsar’s Black Sea Fleet.

Besides a few inherited former German torpedo boats and slow Russian gunboats bought from Finland, the new Navy was able to score the elderly French cruiser D’Entrecasteaux (8,100-tons) for her value in scrap in 1927, renaming her ORP Bałtyk, which became the new force’s flagship. To help train mids for the new navy, the three-masted gaff schooner ORP Iskra was acquired.

With the new Polish state maritime school in Tczew needing a training ship at the same time to replace the circa 1867-built three-master Lwow (former Chinsura), funds were raised through public donations to purchase the laid-up Colbert/ex-Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, which was idle in Western Europe. In July 1929, she was purchased by the purpose formed Pomorski Komitet Floty Narodowej (Pomeranian National Fleet Committee) for £7000 and by the next year was in Polish hands. On her arrival, the Tczew school closed and moved to Gdynia, where it is today known as the Gdynia Maritime University.

Originally to be named Pomorze (Pomerania), she was instead given the name Dar Pomorza (Gift of Pomerania), to honor the society formed to purchase her. She arrived at Gdynia on 19 June 1930 after tow by two Dutch tugs from France to Denmark and a four-month refit at Nakskov, Lolland (the same yard that later built the full-rigged ship Danmark for the Danish Maritime Authority). There, she received a surplus MAN diesel engine that had formerly powered a German U-boat to serve as her “iron topsail.”

The impressive sight of Dar Pomorza, with her white eagle crest and proud Polish ensign, was massive to the country’s spirit.

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Via Gdynia Maritime University (UMG)

Known affectionately as the “Białej Damie” (White Lady) or the “Białej Fregata” (White Frigate), Dar Pomorza was the grande dame of the burgeoning new Polish maritime fleets and traveled extensively around the globe until 1939.

Polish Training Ship DAR POMURYA or DAR POMORZA in St. Thomas Harbor, January 6, 1936, NH 111890

This included an epic 352-day circumnavigation of the globe under famed Capt. Konstanty Maciejewicz-Matyjewicz, a former Tsarist submarine commander, in 1934-35 that logged over 21,000 miles, crossed the equator three times and sliced through every meridian. It was the first such event by a Polish-flagged ship.

Dar Pomorza in Tahiti 1935

Then came WWII.

September 1, 1939, German Battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein, ostensibly on a goodwill mission in Danzig, firing on the Polish ammunition depot at Westerplatte. Colorized by Mikołaj Kaczmarek

Dar Pomorza was one of the few Polish ships to escape initial destruction in September 1939.

The butcher’s list in that month included:

-Bałtyk, abandoned and captured by the Germans
-The destroyer-sized minelayer ORP Gryf, lost on the third day of the war as was the French-built destroyer ORP Wicher
-All six Jaskółka-class minesweepers, each sunk or captured
-The old Russian gunboats ORP Generał Haller and ORP Komendant Pilsudski, sunk
-The former German torpedo boat ORP Mazur, sent to the bottom
-The entire Pinsk riverine flotilla of more than a dozen monitors and gunboats, scuttled or likewise captured

Dar Pomorza, along with other key maritime assets, were saved by design.

Adm. Unrug (who spent the rest of the war in German POW camps) crafted his “Peking Plan” that sent the new destroyers ORP Burza, ORP Błyskawica, and ORP Grom to British waters in late August 1939, where they formed a new Free Polish Navy under the escaped Chief of Staff VADM Świrski after Warsaw fell.

Likewise, the wily former Great War U-boat skipper sent his five submarines abroad after their initial war patrol under his Worek Plan with orders to sail to England if possible, and otherwise to be interned in a neutral Swedish port. ORP Wilk made it to England as did ORP Orzeł (after a narrow escape from Estonia) while ORP Sęp, ORP Ryś, and ORP Żbik sailed for Sweden. The training ship ORP Iskra, on a Med cruise, sailed for Casablanca and spent the war as an MTB tender in Gibraltar.

Under the command of Capt. Konstanty “Cat” Kowalski, Dar Pomorza sortied from her Polish homeport in late August 1939 and made Stockholm, where the ship was interned. Not to be kept from the war, Cat left the White Lady with seven volunteers commanded by the ship’s radioman and subsequently bugged out for England with the rest of her crew and 149 cadets, destined for Polish-flagged freighters and Free Polish naval ships. Once there, he reformed the Polish merchant school in Southampton where its trained replacement sailors for the Gdynia-America Shipping Lines who sailed with Allied cargoes under the Polish flag during the conflict.

Polish merchant ships carried more than 5 million tons of cargo during the war and were part of every campaign in the ETO from Dunkirk to the liberation of Denmark. Meanwhile, former cadets from Iskra and Dar Pomorza filtered out not only through the Polish vessels but also the Royal Navy proper—four such students went down with HMS Hood in 1941.

Once the war was over, Dar Pomorza sailed for home in October 1945, arriving there with a scratch crew.

As for Cat, eschewing a return to Soviet-occupied Poland, he elected to emigrate to the U.S. and became a merchant mariner there. He was not alone. VADM Świrski, the former Tsarist officer who led the Free Polish Navy, did not return to Poland and remained in London exile until his death. Unrug, the fleet’s 1939 boss, likewise settled in France after his liberation from Oflag VII-A Murnau by the U.S. 12th Armored Division in 1945.

Other flag officers were not so lucky. Polish RADM Xawery Czernicki, another former Tsarist naval captain and engineer who had supervised the construction of the Gdynia naval base, was captured by the Soviets in 1939 and was among the 22,000 slaughtered Polish officers in the so-called Katyn Massacre in early 1940.

Post War

Regardless of the country’s location behind the Iron Curtain, Dar Pomorza remained Poland’s ambassador, taking part in regular merchant training cruises around Europe beginning again in 1946. Notably, Capt. Konstanty Matyjewicz-Maciejewicz, her former skipper during her round-the-world cruise, was head of the merchant marine academy at the time, having survived the war under occupation despite some rough handling from the Gestapo.

In 1972’s Operation Sail, the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Races, she was the first Eastern Bloc windjammer to participate in an international sail event and she became a regular at such outings over the next decade.

The Olympische Segelwettbewerbe, coinciding with the 1972 Munich Olympics, showing Dar Pomorza, the USCGC Eagle and the German Bundesmarine’s Gorch Fock August 5, 1972. Via Stadtarchiv Kiel

A night scene from the same event, showing not only Dar Pomorza, Gorch Fock and Eagle but also the Columbian square-rigger Gloria and Danish Danmark Via Stadtarchiv Kiel 53.812

Dar Pomorza, Amsterdam 1975, via Dutch National Archives

This included being one of the top 16 tall ships to sail into the New York City leg of OpSail 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial.

Square rigger Dar Pomorza during the Parade of Sail on 4 July 1976 (US Bicentennial) via Wiki Commons

Square rigger Dar Pomorza during the Parade of Sail on 4 July 1976 (US Bicentennial) via Wiki Commons

In 1980, she won the Cutty Sark Trophy in OpSail80

While not an active warship per se, she was carried in Poland’s entry in Jane’s for decades.

Finally, on 4 July 1982, Dar Pomorza was retired from active service. In her 52 years of service to Poland, she covered more than 500,000 miles under sail on 102 training cruises and educated 13,384 students.

She has been maintained as a floating exhibit and national treasure by the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk since 1983, typically visited by more than 100,000 every year.

She is extensively remembered in maritime art and postcards.

…And has repeatedly been represented on Polish postage stamps and coins throughout the Republic’s 20th Century history.

A lucky ship, having survived both world wars as well as the Cold War, all three of Dar Pomorza‘s German-built sisters are intact as well. The former Grossherzog Friedrich August was handed over to the Norwegians as a war trophy in 1945 and is currently the privately-owned training vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl. Schulschiff Deutschland, commissioned in 1927, is a museum ship in Bremen. Finally, the former Großherzogin Elisabeth, handed over to France as a war reparation in 1946, has been the French-flagged tall ship Duchesse Anne ever since.

Dar Pomorza, pushing 110-years young, is permanently moored at the Pomeranian Quay next to Kosciuszko Square in Gdynia.

Specs:
Displacement: 1561 tons gross, 2,500 full
Length with bowsprit: 305 feet
Length, between perpendiculars: 240 feet
Beam: 39ft
Draft: 17ft
Rig: 25 sails, 2,100 sq. m, full-rigged including royals, topgallant, double topsail
Auxiliary engine: 430 HP MAN, 6-cyl diesel, installed 1929
Speed under sail: max 17 kts.
Complement: 190: 8 officers, 32 petty officers/primary crew, 150~ cadets
1934-35 Circumnavigation: 104: Commandant, 10 officers including doctor and chaplain, 4 instructors, 20 crew members, 11 2nd year students, and 58 1st year candidates

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

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

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

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

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The eerie quiet before the end, 74 years ago

Pre-Surrender Nocturne Tokyo Bay.”

Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Standish Backus; 1945. Depicting the old forts at Futtsu Saki, a narrow point of land jutting into the eastern side of Uraga Strait at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, a burnt-out Japanese destroyer, and the eeriness of the moonlight:

(NHHC: 88-186-Z)

The artist’s notes:

The forts at Futtsu Saki had to be approached and demobilized early on the morning of 30 August 1945. No landings from the sea had yet occurred and we did not know what sort of reception we would receive from the Japanese. From past experience, it was not expected to be healthy in all respects. Was there a division of troops in those forts waiting to mow us down as we hit the beach? Its very silence, the haunted quantity of the burnt-out Japanese destroyer, and the eeriness of the moonlight gave us all a foreboding.

The forts were, in fact, well defended, by a full regiment but the artillery on hand was old. One of the first coastal defense forts in the country, the batteries used 15cm Krupp guns in steel cupolas and several emplaced Model 1890 Osaka-made (Armstrong-Whitworth designed) 28cm howitzers that the Japanese had at least twice dismounted and used as siege guns (at both Port Arthur and Tsingtao) back when they were still relevant.

It was a pucker factor for sure.

As related by Backus in his painting “The First Wave on Japan”

Watercolor on Paper; by Standish Backus; 1945; Unframed Dimensions 16H X 23W. (NHHC: 88-186-B)
“Futtsu Peninsula, Tokyo Bay: Seal-like Higgins boats create their own heavy seas as they carry Marines of the 2nd Battalion 4th Regiment ashore for the first test of whether the Japanese will resist or abide by negotiated surrender terms. It is tense for the next five minutes. The Japanese would logically wait until the Marines were at the shoreline to open a withering fire that could be a massacre. Since there could be no preparatory bombing or bombardment, it had to be done the hard way by head-on assault. The main group of boats landed here at Fort #2 while a small group landed at Fort #1 at the end of the spit beyond the hulk of a burned-out Japanese destroyer. The setting moon, which stood watch over the landing of the boats from the transport, is now relieved by the misty rays of the early sun.”

But the Forts were captured with no bloodshed on either side.

The first landing craft carrying Marines of 2/4 touched the south shore of Futtsu Saki at 0558; two minutes later, the first transport plane rolled to a stop on the runway at Atsugi, and the occupation of Japan was underway. In both areas, the Japanese had followed their instructions to the letter. On Futtsu Saki the coastal guns and mortars had been rendered useless, and only the bare minimum of maintenance personnel, 22 men, remained to make a peaceful turnover of the forts and batteries. By 0845, the battalion had accomplished its mission and was reembarking for the Yokosuka landing, now scheduled for 0930.

Members of the Yokosuka Occupation Force, 2/4 Marines, inspect a Japanese fortification on Futtsu Saki. [USMC 134741]. Besides the Marines, the landing force was accompanied by 10 U.S. Navy gunners mates familiar with large naval pieces to disable the captured guns. 

Warship Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019: Last gasp of the Mainz

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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 28, 2019: Last gasp of the Mainz

Halftone print from Det stora världskriget vol. II, p. 339. Printed in Stockholm 1915. Originally published in The Illustrated London News

On this special installment of WW, we see the German Kolberg-class light cruiser (kleiner kreuzer), SMS Mainz, sinking at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on August 28, 1914, 105 years ago today. The ship on the left is the British RN destroyer HMS Lurcher taking off German survivors. The whaleboats are from the destroyer HMS Liverpool. Commissioned in 1909, Mainz had a short career that ended with a last stand against overwhelming odds.

Four 4,200-ton Kolbergs were commissioned on the lead up to the Great War: Kolberg, Mainz, Cöln, and Augsburg. Just 4,300 tons, they would be considered frigate-size these days. Not particularly fast, they could make 25 knots. Not particularly well-armed, they mounted a dozen 4.1-inch SK L/45 single mounts as well as a couple 17.7-inch torpedo tubes, in all, really just large destroyers.

Still, they had fine lines.

SMS Mainz photographed by Arthur Renard of Kiel, in a photograph received by U.S. Naval intelligence on 19 October 1910. NH 4682

SMS Mainz, Imperial Navy, Sognefjord Norway 1914. Norwegian national archives

Resting in the Ems and Jade rivers, respectively, on the morning of 28 August 1914, Mainz and Cöln (the latter with II Scouting Group commander RADM Leberecht Maass aboard), Hipper ordered both ships to raise steam and sail to aide a force of German coastal torpedo boats and minesweepers operating near the North Sea’s Heligoland Bight that had been jumped by a superior RN force at around 0930.

Said raiding force turned out to be two British light cruisers, Arethusa and Fearless, and two flotillas containing 31 destroyers under Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, with cover from the massive new battlecruisers New Zealand and Invincible of Cruiser Force K under RADM Moore. Admiral Beatty’s First Battlecruiser Squadron of Lion, Queen Mary, and Princess Royal was also just over the horizon.

It was a bloody day for the High Seas Fleet among the fog and smoke.

Battlecruiser HMS Lion, Heligoland Bight, 28th August 1914, engaging the German light cruiser Cöln with her 13.5-inch guns. No contest. A painting by Montague Dawson.

Although Maass was able to piece together not only the Mainz and Coln but also the light cruisers Frauenlob, Stettin, Ariadne, and Strassburg, they were vastly outmatched by the British capital ships. Worse, half of these were destroyed piecemeal.

Very shortly after arriving on the scene, the German cruisers got plastered by the British heavy guns and attempted to withdraw. In the process, Frauenlob, Strassburg, and Stettin were heavily damaged but made a getaway.

Ariadne returned fire as best she could, but to no effect and was left dead in the water to capsize by 16:25.

Coln was similarly lost, with Maass aboard, at about 14:25, rolling over and sinking with only one crewmember, a stoker, pulled from the water three days later.

As for Mainz, who had arrived on the scene alone at about 12:30– before the other cruisers– over a 45-minute period she engaged three British cruisers and at least six destroyers. The German scored hits on the RN Laforey (or L-class) destroyers Laurel, Liberty, and Laertes with Laurel hurt so bad she had to withdraw, and Laertes disabled by 4-inch shells to her engine room.

However, the odds were clearly against Mainz and, after taking a torpedo from the destroyer Lydiard and just generally receiving a shellacking from the British guns at point-blank range, her skipper ordered the crippled vessel abandoned just before she rolled over at 14:10.

The images of her sinking were the first sinking German ship published in British papers and circled the globe, complete with Mainz shown aflame and dead in the water with just one of her stacks still standing.

Sinking of Mainz postcard

The engagement soon became iconic in period maritime art published not only in London but also Berlin.

British destroyers engaging SMS Mainz during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War painting by Lionel Wyllie

German light cruiser SMS Mainz sinking at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War painting by Willie Stower

RMG PW1231: ‘L-class destroyers and the battlecruisers ‘Lion’, ‘Queen Mary’, and ‘Princess Royal’, with the ‘Mainz’, at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914′ by William Lionel Wyllie circa 1915

RMG PV3448: ‘Rescuing the crew of the German light cruiser ‘Mainz’ at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, 28August 1914′ by William Lionel Wyllie circa 1914-1915

“A sketch from an officer present at the battle depicting the destroyer flotilla destroying a German cruiser” {Mainz} Illustrated London News 5 September 1914

The British rescued 348 survivors from the stricken ship, including the son of Tirpitz himself. She took 89 members of her crew, including her skipper, down to the cold embrace of the sea.

Other than the cruiser HMS Arethusa, which had been damaged in a 6-inch gun duel between that ship and the German cruisers SMS Frauenlob and Stettin, it was the stricken Mainz that caused the most injury to the Royal Navy on that fateful day.

HMS Lapwing of 1st Flotilla attempting to take HMS Laertes of 3rd Flotilla in tow during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War. “Deeds That Thrill the Empire: True Stories of the Most Glorious Acts of Heroism of the Empire’s Soldiers and Sailors during the Great War.” V. Ludgate Hill, London: The Standard Art Book Co Ltd. 1920. p. 737. Wiki Commons

HMS LIBERTY damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. NH 59814

HMS LAERTES Damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. Note 4″ gun, burst when a shell exploded prematurely. NH 59813

HMS LAUREL Damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. Note 4″ gun. NH 59810

Another shot of Laurel NH 59811

However, while the three L-class destroyers would eventually return to service, the German navy has never carried the name “Mainz” on its rolls again.

Sunk in relatively shallow water, her wreck is often visited– and plundered– by skin divers, a crime under the jurisdiction of German police.

Mainz’s telegraph, via Der Spiegel

Specs:

Mainz & Kolberg class via Janes 1914 ed.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a member, so should you be!

Springer scratching that Tanker itch

Not a lot of room in a C-47: U.S. paratroopers typically dropped carrying M1/M1A1 Carbines or M1 Thompson/M3 Grease Gun SMGs and handguns. The M1 Garands and M1903A4s carried were done so typically disassembled in a Griswold bag

During WWII, Springfield Armory (the federal arsenal, not the later Illinois-based gunmaker of the same name) worked on an in-house compact version of the M1 Rifle for use by paratroopers (who had to either carry M1 Carbines or various subguns into battle unless they disassembled their larger M1 Garands and reassembled them on landing) and came up with the M1E5.

Using an underfolding stock and an 18-inch barrel (down from the standard 24-inch model), the gun looks unlike any Garand you have ever seen.

Overall length was just 37-inches. Weight was 8.4-pounds, or about a pound less than the regular M1 (Via Springfield Armory NHS)

Just one M1E5 was produced (SN#1) as tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground in May 1944 “indicated weapon accurate at 300 yards, but blast, flash, recoil, and the noise was excessive.”

Meanwhile, at about the same time in the Pacific, ordnance company armorers with the U.S. 6th Army locally converted about 150 otherwise standard M1s by chopping off about 6-inches off the barrel and reinstalling it.

Intending to use these for jungle fighting and for paratrooper use in Operation Olympic/Cornet (the big drops into the Japanese Home Islands) they dutifully sent a few examples back to the States where Springfield looked at them and dubbed the conversion the T26. Col. William Alexander, head of the Pacific Warfare Board, wanted 15,000 made.

The T26 Garand compared to a more regular sized-M1 variant. According to legend, elements of the 503rd Regimental Parachute Combat Team carried these rifles in the Battle of Noemfoor in July/August 1944.

However, the Armory found in their tests that “the weapon suffered from lack of reliable function, excessive recoil, and excessive muzzle blast,” and would need extensive redesign as the operating rod would have to be shortened due to make the rifle cycle reliably. In the end, the A-bombs cut the war short and the big push into Japan in late 1945/early 1946 wasn’t needed. This ended the T26 program in October 1945.

Nonetheless, often badly chopped and unreliable (see comments on a needed redesign, above) commercial “Tanker” model Garands showed up throughout the 1960s and 70s, building on the legend of the shorty M1 while at the same time burying it in crappy performance.

Note the $80 “Tanker” build under the M1

Fast forward to this week, and Springfield Armory (the Illinois-based company, not the storied federal arsenal) announced their M1A Tanker model. The rifle builds on the company’s proven .308 SOCOM 16 action with a detachable magazine and couples it with a walnut stock. It actually looks pretty nice and its huge muzzle brake will likely trim some of that blast.

The M1A Tanker

More on the newest stab at a compact M1 in my column at Guns.com. 

Warship Wednesday, July 31, 2019: “80 Sen,” or a young Yamamoto’s Italian Stallion

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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, July 31, 2019: 80 Sen

NHHC Collection Photo # NH 83034

Here we see a crooked image from the files of the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, likely a quick snapshot taken from the deck of a rented junk, showing the coastal defense ship (formerly classified as an armored cruiser, or junjokan) Nisshin of the Imperial Japanese Navy as she sat at a Hong Kong mooring buoy, in October 1920. Note the Emperor’s chrysanthemum marking on the bow, and inquisitive members of her crew on the side– likely wondering just who was in the approaching small boat with the camera. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but this ship had once gone toe-to-toe with a much larger opponent and come out on top, although with the scars to show it.

If you like that photo, how about another two taken the same day, with her crew’s laundry drying and a picturesque junk added for Hong Kong flavor:

NH 83032

NH 83033

Anywho, you didn’t come here for Hong Kong laundry stories.

Built around the turn of the Century by Gio. Ansaldo & C shipbuilders, Genoa, Italy, as an updated version of the Giuseppe Garibaldi armored cruiser class, Nisshin (or Nissin, a name that roughly translates to “Japan”) was designed by Italian naval architect Edoardo Masdea as a vessel only smaller than a 1st-rate (pre-dreadnought) battleship of the era, yet larger and stronger than most cruisers that could oppose it.

The Garibaldi class was innovative (for 1894,) with a 344-foot long/7,200-ton hull capable of making 20-knots and sustaining a range of more than 7,000 nm at 12 when stuffed with enough coal. Although made in Italy, she was almost all-British from her Armstrong batteries to her Bellville boilers, Whitehead torpedoes, and Harvey armor.

Armored with a belt that ran up-to 5.9-inches thick, Garibaldi could take hits from faster cruisers and gunboats while being able to dish out punishment from a pair of Elswick (Armstrong) 10-inch guns that no ship smaller than her could absorb. Capable of outrunning larger ships, she also had a quartet of casemate-mounted torpedo tubes and extensive rapid-fire secondary batteries to make life hard on the enemy’s small ships and merchantmen.

These cruisers were designed for power projection on a budget and the Argentine Navy, facing a quiet arms race between Brazil and Chile on each side, needed modern ships. They, therefore, scooped up not only the Garibaldi (commissioned in 1895) but also the follow-on sister-ships General Belgrano and General San Martín (built by Orlando of Livorno in 1896) and Genoa-made Pueyrredón (1898) to make a quartet of powerful cruisers. These ships, coupled with a pair of battleships ordered later in the U.S., helped make the Argentine navy for about two decades the eighth most powerful in the world (after the big five European powers, Japan, and the United States), and the largest in Latin America.

The design was well-liked, with Spain moving to buy two (but only taking delivery of one in the end, the ill-fated Cristóbal Colón, which was sunk at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish American War) and Italy electing to purchase five further examples of the type.

Why all the talk about Argentina and Italy?

Well, because Nisshin and her sistership Kasuga were originally ordered by the Italians in 1900 as Mitra (Yard #130) and Roca (#129), respectively, but then sold while still on the ways to Argentina to further flesh out the fleet of that South American country’s naval forces, who dutifully renamed them Mariano Moreno and Rivadavia.

At some 8,500-tons (full), these final Garibaldis were 364-feet long overall and were roughly the same speed and carried the same armor plan (with Terni plate) as their predecessors.

However, they differed in armament, with Mitra/Rivadavia/Kasuga carrying a single 10-inch EOC gun forward and twin 8″/45s aft, while Roca/Moreno/Nisshin carried the twin 8-inchers both forward and aft.

Stern 8"/45 (20.3 cm) turret on armored cruiser Nisshin on 24 October 1908. Ship's officers with USN officers from USS Missouri (B-11) during "Great White Fleet" around the world cruise. Note the landing guns on the upper platform. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 82511.

Stern 8″/45 (20.3 cm) turret on armored cruiser Nisshin on 24 October 1908. Ship’s officers with USN officers from USS Missouri (B-11) during “Great White Fleet” around the world cruise. Note the landing guns on the upper platform. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 82511.

[Of note, the same 8-inch EOC guns were also used on other British-built Japanese armored cruisers (Adzuma, Asama, Iwate, Izumo, Tokiwa, and Yakumo) so they weren’t too out of place when Japan took delivery of these ships in 1904 instead of Argentina.]

Both Mitra/Rivadavia/Kasuga and Roca/Moreno/Nisshin were launched, fitted out and ran builders’ trials in Italy under the Argentine flag.

Armada Argentina crucero acorazado ARA Moreno, at 1903 launch. Note Italian and Argentine flags. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Nisshin Running trials under the Argentine flag, probably in late 1903, just before her purchase by the Japanese NH 58664

Running trials under the Argentine flag, probably in late 1903, just before her purchase by the Japanese. Photo credited to her builder Ansaldo. NH 58665

With the Japanese and Imperial Russia circling each other tensely in late 1903, and Argentina not really wanting to take final delivery of these new cruisers, Buenos Aries shopped them to the Tsar’s kopeck-pinching Admiralty only to be rebuffed over sticker shock, leaving the Tokyo to pick them up for £760,000 each– considered a high price at the time but a bargain that the Russians would likely later regret. The Argentines would later reuse the briefly-issued Moreno and Rivadavia names for their matching pair of Massachusetts-built battleships in 1911

Nisshin photographed at Genoa, Italy in January 1904. This ship was built in Italy by Ansaldo of Genoa and competed on January 17, 1904. Courtesy of Mr. Tom Stribling, 1987. NH 101923

With a scratch British/Italian contract delivery crew, Kasuga and Nisshin (their names are taken from Meiji-period steam warships of the 1860s) set sail immediately for the Far East and were already outbound of Singapore by the time the balloon finally went up between the Russians and Japanese in February 1904. The sisters were soon in the gun line off Russian-held Port Arthur, lending their fine British-made batteries to reducing that fortress, and took part in both the ineffective Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904 (where Nisshin was lightly damaged) and the much more epic Battle of Tsushima in May 1905.

Carrying the flag of VADM Baron Misu Sotarō, Nisshin fired something on the order of 180 heavy shells during Tsushima, exchanging heavy damage with the 15,000-ton Russian battleship Oslyabya and others– taking several 12-inch hits to show for it. The Japanese cruiser had three of her four 8-inch guns sliced off and a number of her crew, to include a young Ensign Isoroku Yamamoto, wounded. The future commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II had the index and middle fingers on his left hand shorn off by a splinter, earning him the wardrobe nickname “80 sen” as a manicure cost 10 sen per digit at the time.

The forward gun turret and superstructure of the Japanese armored cruiser Nisshin following the Battle of Tsushima, showing 8-inch guns severed by Russian 12-inch shells

From a different angle

Another view

Aft turret of Armored Cruiser Nisshin damaged in the Battle of Tsushima

Starboard 12-pound gun of Armored Cruiser Nisshin damaged in the Battle of Tsushima

Oslyabya, in turn, was ultimately lost in the course of the battle, taking the Russian Squadron’s second-in-command, Capt. Vladimir Ber, and half of her crew with her to the bottom of the Korea Strait.

Japanese cruiser Nisshin, listed as June 24, 1905, at Kure, which is just a month after Tsushima and may be an incorrect date as she looks almost brand new. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

For both Kasuga and Nisshin, Tsushima was their brightest moment under the Rising Sun.

Greatly modified later with Japanese-made Kampon boilers replacing their Italian ones, along with a host of other improvements, Kasuga went on to serve as a destroyer squadron flagship in World War I looking out for German surface raiders and escorting Allied shipping between Australia and Singapore. She later took Imperial troops to Vladivostok in 1918 as part of the Allied Intervention into the Russian Civil War.

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

As for Nisshin, she also spent her time as a destroyer squadron leader on the lookout for the Kaiser’s wolves and was later dispatched to the Mediterranean as part of the Japanese 2nd Special Squadron (Suma-class cruiser Akashi, the cruiser Izumo, 8 Kaba-class destroyers and 4 Momo-class destroyers). Deployed in late 1917, the squadron was tasked with riding shotgun over Allied troopships steaming between Malta and Salonica and from Alexandria to Taranto and Marseille.

Photographed at Port Said, Egypt, on October 27, 1917. The early French mixed battery pre-dreadnought Jauréguiberry (1893-1934) can be seen at left background. Courtesy of Mr. Tom Stribling, 1987. NH 101922

In all, the force escorted nearly 800 ships and engaged German and Austrian subs something like 40 times (although without sinking any).
After the Armistice, selected crews from the Squadron marched in the 1919 victory parades in Paris and London.

To close out Japan’s involvement in the Great War, Nisshin returned home with seven captured German U-boats, (U-46, U-55, U-125, UC-90, UC-99, UB-125, and UB-143) after stops in Malta and other friendly ports along the way from England to Yokosuka, arriving there in June 1919. The former German boats went on to an uninteresting life of their own under the Kyokujitsu-ki, used for testing, salvage exercises and floating jetties. While most of these submarines were low-mileage vessels of little notoriety, U-46 (Hillebrand) and U-55 (Blue Max winner Willy Werner) were very successful during the war, accounting for 116 Allied vessels of some 273,000 tons between them.

IJN Nissin at Malta with captured German UC-90 U-boat, via IWM

Nisshin, photographed March 1919, with the ex-German submarines O-4 (ex-UC-90) and O-5 (ex-UC-99) alongside. NH 58666

Nisshin, photographed in March 1919, with the ex-German submarines O-4 (ex-UC-90) and O-5 (ex-UC-99) alongside. NH 58667

Japanese Cruiser Nisshin U-boats escorting surrendered German submarines allocated to Japan, March 1919, Malta, by Frank Henry Algernon Mason, via the IWM

Disarmed and largely relegated to training tasks, Nisshin and Kasuga were put on the sidelines after the Great War, replaced by much better ships in the Japanese battle line.

Hulked, Nisshin was eventually disposed of as part of a sinkex in the Inland Sea in 1936, then raised by Shentian Maritime Industry Co., Ltd, patched up and sunk a second time in 1942 during WWII by the new super battleship Yamato, whose 18.1″/45cal Type 94 guns likely made quick work of her.

Her immediate sister, Kasuga, used as a floating barracks at Yokosuka, was sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft in July 1945 then later raised and scrapped after the war. Incidentally, the two Japanese Garibaldis outlasted their Italian sisters, all of which were disposed of by the 1930s. Their everlasting Argentine classmates, however, lingered on until as late as 1954 with the last of their kind, ARA Pueyrredon, ironically being towed to Japan for scrapping that year.

Of note, the British 8″/45s EOCs removed from Nisshin, Kasuga and the other Japanese 1900s armored cruisers in the 1920s and 30s were recycled and used as coastal artillery, including four at Tokyo Bay, four at Tarawa (Betio) and another four at Wake Island once it was captured in 1941.

Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops mount a British-made, Vickers eight-inch naval cannon into its turret on Betio before the battle. This film was developed from a Japanese camera found in the ruins while the battle was still on. Via http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-C-Tarawa/index.html

Destruction of one of the four Japanese eight-inch EOC guns on Betio caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes, 1943. Department of Defense photo (USMC) 63618

Nisshin’s name was reused for use on a well-armed seaplane/midget submarine carrier that saw extensive action in WWII during the Guadalcanal campaign, where she was lost.  It has not been reused further.

Specs:

Jane 1914 entry, listing the class as first-class cruisers

Displacement: 7,700 t (7,578 long tons) std, 8,500 full
Length: 366 ft 7 in (o/a), 357 wl
Beam: 61 ft 5 in
Draft: 24 ft 1 in, 25.5 max
Machinery: (1904)
13,500 ihp, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines, 8 Ansaldo marine boilers, 2 shafts
Speed: 20 knots at 14,000 shp, although in practice were limited to 18 at full load.
Range: 5,500 nmi at 10 knots on 1316 tons of coal, typically just 650 carried
Complement: 600 as built, 568 in Japanese service.
Armor: (Terni)
Belt: 2.8–5.9 in
Deck: 0.79–1.57 in
Barbette: 3.9–5.9 in
Conning tower: 5.9 in
Armament:
(1904)
2 twin 8″/45 EOC (classified as Type 41 guns by the Japanese)
14 single QF 6″/45 Armstrong “Z” guns
10 single QF 3″/40 12-pdr Armstrong “N” guns
6 single QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns
2 Maxim machine guns
2 landing howitzers
4 × 457 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes in casemates
(1930)
4 single QF 6″/45 Armstrong “Z” guns
4 single QF 3″/40 12-pdr Armstrong “N” guns
1 single 76/40 AAA

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