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One of the most advanced U-boats ever to take to the sea, located

Ordered in 1943 from F Schichau GmbH, Danzig as werk 1668, German submarine U-3523 was an advanced Type XXI U-boat that wasn’t completed until 23 January 1945– just over two months before Berlin fell. Attacked by a British B-24 Liberator of 86 Squadron/G RAF on 6 May, only two days before VE-Day, she sank off Jutland with 58 souls aboard.

And, thanks to Sea War Museum Jutland, she has been found.

Found at 123m, she is literally stuck in the mud: U-3523 appeared on the screen during the museum’s scan of the seabed ten nautical miles north of Skagen, and the picture was very surprising. Most unusual the whole fore part of the U-boat lies buried in the seabed, while the stern is standing 20 meters above the bottom.

From Sea War Museum Jutland:

After the war, there were many rumors about top Nazis who fled in U-boats and brought Nazi gold to safety, and the U-3523 fed the rumors. The Type XXI was the first genuine submarine that could sail submerged for a prolonged time, and the U-3523 had a range that would have allowed it to sail non-stop all the way to South America. But nobody knows if this was the U-boat’s destination, and nobody knows, if the U-boat had valuables or passengers aboard in addition to the 58 crew, all of whom perished.

More here

Happy Birthday, Yorktown

First off, this is a Kodachrome original, not a colorized photo. It shows the crew of the brand-new U.S. Navy Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) at attention as the National Ensign is raised, during her commissioning ceremonies at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, on 15 April 1943– some 75 years ago today.

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

For the record, Yorktown is freshly painted in Camouflage Measure 21. Two steel-hull submarine chasers (PC) are at right, on the other side of the pier.

The fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the famous Revolutionary War siege, she was initially to have been named Bonhomme Richard, but this was switched to Yorktown while under construction to commemorate the loss at Midway of the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5).

After earning 11 battlestars in WWII (along with a Presidental Unit Citation), and five more stars in Vietnam, she decommissioned 27 June 1970 after 37 years of service. Since 1975 she has been a museum ship at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Please visit her should you have the chance.

Fit for a Kingsman

All photos Chris Eger, except where noted

The folding clasp knife, aka jackknife, aka pocketknife, aka penknife, aka peasant knife, et. al, in military ancillary use dates back to the Roman Legions as early as 200~ AD. Fast forward to the 19th Century and the level of inexpensive standardization that was brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and good folders became available on the cheap. By 1905, the British Army started to standardize the basic issue clasp knife (the Pattern 6353/1905), used for opening tins, working ropes, and other basic non-fighting tasks.

Typically made in Sheffield by a myriad of firms, they were marked with a Broad Arrow acceptance mark on the blade, included a sheepsfoot main and can opener secondary auxiliary blade with a tertiary marlinspike in some cases. By the 1930s, shell and bone handled knives fell by the wayside and scales were commonly made from “chequered black bexoid (plastic).” This was the standard Commonwealth jack used through WWII and Korea, with surplus stocks in wide circulation for decades after.

A vintage multitool, the blade ends could be used as screwdrivers as could the center scale insert and the canopener as a fork when hungry enough.

Here is my British Army WWII era clasp knife. Marked SSP 1943 with a Broad Arrow, it is a hoss at 5.1-ounces and is built like a tank.

The two blades are 2.75-inches long overall and the knife itself, when closed, is 3.75-inches.

The strong shackle on the heel enabled the knife to be used as an ersatz plumb in field construction and in use as a slungshot to throw lines.

army issue clasp knife (WEA 4120) Clasp knife with chequered black bexoid (plastic) grips secured by three rivets. Pivoting at one end of the knife are a“ sheepsfoot” style blade and a tin opener. At one end of the knife is a flat screwdriver head and at the other is a pivoting steel shackle. Tied to the shackle is a buff cord lanyard with a large loop at the opposite end. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30003938

A more pointed “dagger jackknife” was commonly issued to commando, paratrooper and Marine units as well as the gentlemen of the SOE.

Carried on a lanyard attached to the camouflaged jumpsuit for cutting parachute shrouds lines if required while the blade was to be of sufficient length for stabbing…(Photo by Range Days in France)

In a form of flattery, this 1960s follow-up was made by Bianchi in Italy for the Italian military and is marked, Campobasso. It is lighter than the preceding Anglo-Saxon model, tipping the scales at 3.7-ounces. The two blades are 2.5-inches and the knife itself, closed, is 3.5-inches.

Post-war, the Brits themselves moved to adopt a slimmer version with metal scales. Today they are still made in Sheffield and, taking a key to the marketing behind Swiss Army knifes, Joseph Rodgers/George Wostenholm make “Genuine British Army” knives for the market in various models, with the below being one of the more svelte models, a single blade that weighs just 2.2-ounces.

I quite like it while the other ones see time in the safe.

As for the revolver, of course, it is a .38/200 Enfield No.2, 1943 production, the same date as the Bren gun brass cleaning kit.

Whistling up 90K M1 Garands

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines - Joint Armed Forces of Philippines and U.S. team conducting M1 Inventory, 2017

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines – Joint Armed Forces of Philippines and U.S. team conducting M1 Inventory, 2017

The backstory on how six divisions worth of M1 Garands got repatriated from the Phillipines, where they have seen hard service since the 1950s in some cases, back to the U.S. to be sold through CMP in Anniston. Contrary to what a lot of people think, CMP actually had to spend a small fortune to get these vintage weapons back CONUS.

“It goes almost without saying that accurately accounting for and transporting approximately 90,000 small arms from the other side of the globe is challenging under any circumstances. Throw in termite infestation, monsoon season, and asbestos contamination, and you will have a recipe for disaster.”

More here.

Giving a WWII ration a try

Steve1989MRE goes to town on the classic Royal Australian Army 24-Hour o2 Ration pack, dated April 1945. Interestingly, it is marked that it can be “buried or submerged” which points to the extensive use of special operations forces such as Z Force and the Coastwatchers, groups that often worked behind Japanese lines across the South Pacific and needed caches for future use.

However, it wasn’t designed for an 80-year cache!

More on the pack:

“First tested in December 1942, the 02 was quickly adopted and was well received by troops in places like New Guinea. This ration could feed a soldier for up to 48 hours in a pinch. It was not only well balanced and nutritious, it was actually enjoyable to troops. One of the first 24 hour rations ever made, this is a very rare look into a historical item never before filmed. “

If you have a rifle grenade, all things are possible

As illustrated in this Signal Corps image, a pair of servicemen of the 7th Air Force wrapped the line around a cricket bat-esque float, then stuffed it on the end of an M1 rifle grenade launcher device attached to an M1906. Launched by a special .30-06 cartridge, the M1 could kick out an M9A1 grenade at 165 feet per second.

The reason these Army Air Force personnel “somewhere in the Pacific” in 1944 hit on the idea to use a wooden float, some line, and a 1903 Springfield? To carry a hook offshore to help augment their diet.

More in my column at Guns.com.

‘You are two men in a £15 Folbot…’

Commando officer Capt. Roger ‘Jumbo’ Courtney formed the now famous Special Boat Section (SBS) in 1940. Forerunner of today’s Special Boat Service, the unit used folding kayaks called folboats for small-scale raids.

These things:

Courtney wrote ‘The Compleat Folbotist’ [sic] in 1941, outlining the character of the kind of man suitable for this specialist task. Courtesy of the National Army Museum:

 


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