Today the term “BBQ Gun” floats around for those who utilize a nice or customized handgun for some sort of open carry, be they a small-town sheriff ala Longmire style or just someone who likes to exercise their 2A rights with a little flair.
In the old days, this was simply just done with swords.
Stylish men wore swords as part of their daily wear from the 1500s until the 1700s. This superb smallsword was made shortly before civilian swords went permanently out of fashion. Its light, edgeless blade is designed for civilian dueling, but the real purpose of this weapon was to impress rather than kill. The cut-steel beadwork on the hilt imitates the look of diamonds, and the jasperware Wedgwood plaques feature neoclassical designs inspired by Roman and Etruscan archeological finds.
Missouri-based CMMG has added a new flavor to their Radial Delayed Blowback Banshee series, one that accepts Sig Sauer P320 magazines– the Mk17.
Available in both 5- and 8-inch Banshee pistol/SBR formats as well as the company’s 16-inch barreled Resolute series carbines, CMMG says the ability for the platform to have a variant that accepts P320 mags is key.
More in my column at Guns.com
NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) recently poked around in the Black Sea, operating with the Bulgarian and Ukrainian navies, which no doubt gave the Russians a bit of heartburn.
SNMG2, under Spanish RADM Aguirre (no Klaus Kinski jokes, please) included three frigates, one each from Spain, Romania, and Turkey– the latter two being Black Sea countries.
Meanwhile, SNMCMG2, under CDR Katsouras of the Greek Navy, consisted of three minesweepers, one each from Italy, Spain, and Turkey, with Katsouras commanding the group from his flagship HS Aliakmon (A470).
Built during the 1960s at Bremer-Vulcan in then-West Germany as the 3,700-ton Type 701 Lüneburg-class trossschiff (TS= supply ship) Saarburg (A1415), Aliakmon served with the Bundesmarine in the Baltic and the North Sea, acting as a mothership to minesweepers and patrol boats, until 1994 when she was sold to the Greeks to began her second career.
The image of the Greek support vessel from NATO this month showed something interesting:
These guns were 1950s Italian updates to the venerable old twin Bofors designs and use a 32-round ready mag, topped off by 4-shell clips, much like the WWII models. This specific style of gun was just used by the Germans, primarily on their Hamburg-class destroyers and Lüneburg-class tenders.
Their continued use by the Greeks now means they are almost the last twin Bofors-style 40mms still afloat as the Canadians retired theirs, used on the Kingston-class OPVs, in 2014.
A few coast guards, such as in Iceland, still run 40mm Bofors for warning shots or to destroy derelicts at sea, and a couple mounts are in the Philipines on old PCEs– which are rapidly being retired– but that’s about it.
Aliakmon carries two twin Bredas as well as two twin Rheinmental 20mm guns, all of them optically-guided and manually-operated.
While a number of battleships met their end at the hand of atomics at Bikini Atoll, likely the only dreadnoughts to carry nuclear weapons for tactical use were the Iowa class.
Those fast battleships “may have” toted such devices in two forms.
Between 1956 and 1962, the Navy had a limited stockpile of about 50 MK-23/W23 nuclear shells for the Iowas‘ 16-inch guns, each with a yield of some 15-20 kilotons, with each ship of the class equipped to carry as many as 10 of these mushroom makers. Of note, Hiroshima’s Little Boy was a 15kt bomb.
Then in the 1980s came TLAM-Ns, the so-called nuclear Tomahawk cruise missile with its W80 150 kiloton warhead. First fielded in selected fleet units, only about 300 made were produced and the Obama administration dismantled them in 2010.
Below is a great video done by the curator of the USS New Jersey (BB-62) Museum, where he shows off the (possibly) TLAM-N related areas of the ship, including the panels, Marine guard post, and ABLs.
Last summer, I had a chance to stop in at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, and, while the collection is impressive and even has a Space Shuttle, the centerpiece is and probably always will be the Enola Gay.
Every military history buff is of course familiar with the plane. I, perhaps, more so than others as I have studied Col. Paul Warfield Tibbets, coming close enough in North Carolina to his flight suit to see the sweat stains on the collar, and long ago meeting Enola Gay navigator Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk in Georgia before his death. VanKirk thought that dropping the bomb saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the end, ironically most of them Japanese.
The sentiment was repeated when I spoke a few years ago to navigator Russell Gackenbach, who flew on the Hiroshima photographic plane, Necessary Evil, on that fateful day. Like VanKirk, he too has passed.
One of the most curious facets of my visit to the Enola Gay was to note that it was teeming with crowds of Japanese tourists, many in their teens, all eager to get a look at the plane.
While Al Jazeera argues the Hiroshima bomb is a war crime, I’ve talked about that subject before in past posts and tend to side with VanKirk and Gackenbach as other alternatives seemed more deadly for all concerned in the long run.
Speaking of the long run, most of the nation’s five-star admirals and generals later went on record against the use of the A-bomb. Here is what the two top admirals in the Pacific had to say on its use:
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet stated in a public address given at the Washington Monument on October 5, 1945:
The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war. . . . [Nimitz also stated: “The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. . . .”]
In a private 1946 letter to Walter Michels of the Association of Philadelphia Scientists, Nimitz observed that “the decision to employ the atomic bomb on Japanese cities was made on a level higher than that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander U.S. Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946:
The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment. . . . It was a mistake to ever drop it. . . . [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it. . . . It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before.
Professor of History at Notre Dame, Father Wilson Miscamble, weighs in on the subject with the opinion that dropping the bomb shortened the war and saved countless lives — on both sides.
Prof. Miscamble is not speaking off the cuff. His 2007 book, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War was published by Cambridge University Press and received the Harry S. Truman Book Award in 2008. He subsequently published The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs and the Defeat of Japan in 2011.
Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Aug 5, 2020: Number 52
Here we see the bow of the Balao-class fleet boat USS Bullhead (SS-332) approaching a Chinese junk to pass food to its crew, during her first war patrol, circa March-April 1945. Of the 52 American submarines on eternal patrol from World War II, Bullhead was the final boat added to the solemn list, some 75 years ago this week. In another grim footnote, Bullhead was also the last U.S. Navy vessel lost before the end of the war.
A member of the 121-ship Balao class, she was one of the most mature U.S. Navy diesel designs of the World War Two era, constructed with knowledge gained from the earlier Gato-class. U.S. subs, unlike those of many navies of the day, were ‘fleet’ boats, capable of unsupported operations in deep water far from home. The Balao class was deeper diving (400 ft. test depth) than the Gato class (300 foot) due to the use of high yield strength steel in the pressure hull.
Able to range 11,000 nautical miles on their reliable diesel engines, they could undertake 75-day patrols that could span the immensity of the Pacific. Carrying 24 (often unreliable) Mk14 Torpedoes, these subs often sank anything short of a 5,000-ton Maru or warship by surfacing and using their deck guns. The also served as the firetrucks of the fleet, rescuing downed naval aviators from right under the noses of Japanese warships.
Some 311-feet long overall, they were all-welded construction to facilitate rapid building. Best yet, they could be made for the bargain price of about $7 million in 1944 dollars (just $100 million when adjusted for today’s inflation) and completed from keel laying to commissioning in about nine months.
An amazing 121 Balaos were rushed through five yards at the same time, with the following pennant numbers completed by each:
- Cramp: SS-292, 293, 295-303, 425, 426 (12 boats)
- Electric Boat: 308-313, 315, 317-331, 332-352 (42)
- Manitowoc on the Great Lakes: 362-368, 370, 372-378 (15)
- Mare Island on the West Coast: 304, 305, 307, 411-416 (9)
- Portsmouth Navy Yard: 285-288, 291, 381-410, 417-424 (43)
We have covered a number of this class before, such as the rocket mail slinger USS Barbero, the carrier-slaying USS Archerfish the long-serving USS Catfish, the sub-killing USS Greenfish, and the frogman Cadillac USS Perch —but don’t complain, they have lots of great stories.
Commissioned 4 Dec 1944, Bullhead’s war diary reports that the “training at New London was of little value because of the bad weather, shallow water, and restricted areas. Ten practice approaches were made and three torpedos fired.”
The ship proceeded to Key West with sister USS Lionfish and had better training opportunities in Panama, where she fired 26 practice torpedos. From The Ditch to Pearl, she continued training while shaking down. From Pearl to Guam, in the company of USS Tigrone and USS Seahorse, the trio would join USS Blackfish there and, on 21 March 1945 “Departed Guam for first war patrol to wage unrestricted submarine warfare and perform lifeguard service in the northern part of the South China Sea.”
Her first skipper and the man who would command her for her first two patrols was CDR Walter Thomas “Red” Griffith (USNA 1934), a no-nonsense 33-year-old Louisianan who had already earned two Navy Crosses and a Silver Star in command of USS Bowfin earlier in the war.
Aboard Bullhead as she headed for war with her Yankee wolfpack was veteran newsman Martin Sheridan. One of the first reporters who enlisted as a noncombatant with the Army, Boston Globe correspondent Sheridan reported on Pacific conflicts for the North American Newspaper Alliance and was the only newsmen to go to see combat on an American fleet boat, covering Bullhead’s entire 38-day inaugural war patrol. He had the benefit of a Navy photographer among the crew, Stephen F. Birch.
Via Birch’s camera, the candid moments of Bullhead’s crew hard at work under the sea were very well-documented, something that is a rarity. The photos were turned over to the Navy Photo Science Laboratory on 20 June 1945, just seven weeks before the boat’s loss.
Bullhead’s First Patrol was active, bombarding the Japanese radio station on Patras Island twice with her 5-inch gun with the first string delivered from 4,700 yards, Griffth noting, “The first 18 rounds landed beautifully in the area near the base of the radio tower with one positive hit in the building nearest to the tower.”
While conducting lifeguard duty, she only narrowly avoided friendly fire from the very aviators she was there to pluck from the sea. One B-24 came dangerously close.
Nonetheless, on 16 April, she rescued a trio of American airmen at sea off Hong Kong, recovering them from the crew of a Chinese junk to which they thanked with cigarettes and C-rations. They were from a downed B-25 of the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 5th Air Force.
Putting in at Subic Bay on 28 April, Bullhead landed the recovered aviators as well as Sheridan and Birch, refueled, rearmed, and restocked, then departed on her Second War Patrol just three weeks later.
On 30 May, she destroyed her first vessel, a two-masted lugger of some 150-tons, in a surface action in the Gulf of Siam. The ship was scratched with 12 rounds of 5-inch, 16 rounds of 40mm, and 240 rounds of 20mm.
She would break out her guns again on 18 June when she encountered the camouflaged Japanese “Sugar Charlie” style coaster Sakura Maru No.58, 700 tons, off St. Nicholas Point near the Sunda Strait. In a 20 minute action, it was sent to the bottom.
The next day, Bullhead came across a three-ship convoy with picket boats and went guns-on, sinking Tachibana Maru No.57, another Sugar Charlie, while the rest of the Japanese ships scattered.
On 25 June, a third 300-ton Sugar Charlie was sunk by gunfire in the Lombok Strait. Hearing the cries of her crew, she picked up 10 men who turned out to be Javanese and “stowed them in the empty magazine” and later landed ashore.
The next day she fired torpedos unsuccessfully on a Japanese ASW vessel and received a depth charging in return for her efforts.
On 2 July, Bullhead put into Fremantle, Australia, marking her Second War Patrol as a success. There, Griffith and some others left the vessel.
With a new skipper, LCDR Edward Rowell “Skillet” Holt, Jr (USNA 1939), Bullhead departed Australia on her Third Patrol on 30 July, ordered to patrol the Java Sea.
As detailed by DANFs:
She was to transit Lombok Strait and patrol in the Java Sea with several other American and British submarines. Bullhead rendezvoused with a Dutch submarine, Q 21, on 2 August and transferred mail to her. Four days later, the submarine reported that she had safely passed through the strait and was in her patrol area.
When all U.S. and Allied subs in the Pacific were ordered to cease fire and return to port on 13 August, Bullhead was the only submarine not to acknowledge receipt of the message.
No further word was ever received from her, and, on 24 August, she was reported overdue and presumed lost.
Her name was struck from the Navy list on 17 September 1945. Bullhead received two battle stars for her World War II service.
Postwar analysis of Japanese records revealed that a Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia dive bomber of the Japanese Army Air Force’s 73rd Independent Flying Chutai, depth-charged a submarine off the Bali coast near the northern mouth of Lombok Strait on 6 August [ironically the same day that an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima].
The pilot claimed two direct hits and reported a gush of oil and air bubbles at the spot where the target went down. It was presumed that the proximity of mountains shortened her radar’s range and prevented Bullhead from receiving warning of the plane’s approach. The submarine went down with all hands, taking 84 with her.
Her crew was among the 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men lost on the 52 submarines during the war. To put this in perspective, only 16,000 men served in the submarine force during the conflict.
Sheridan, the war correspondent, would go on to write a book about his time with the crew of the Bullhead after the war. Entitled Overdue and Presumed Lost, it was originally published in 1947 and reprinted by the USNI Press in 2013. The hard-living writer died in 2004 at age 89.
At least 16 one-time members of her crew, mostly plankowners, didn’t make Bullhead’s eternal patrol and in 1981 the Washington Post chronicled their enduring haunting by that fact.
Griffith, who lived to become a post-war rear admiral reportedly told a friend, “My boys shouldn’t have gone down without me. All so young. I should have been with them.” He later took his own life in a Pensacola motel, aged 54.
Memorials exist for the Bullhead and her crew at the Manila American Cemetery, the National Submarine Memorial (West) in Seal Beach, California and at the National Submarine Memorial (East) in Groton as well as in San Diego and the dedicated USS Bullhead Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1997, Congress noted her sacrifice in the official record.
Bullhead’s engineering plans, reports of her early patrols, and notes on her loss are in the National Archives.
Although Bullhead’s name was never reused, eight Balao-class submarines are preserved (for now) as museum ships across the country.
Please visit one of these fine ships and keep the legacy alive:
-USS Batfish (SS-310) at War Memorial Park in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
–USS Becuna (SS-319) at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
–USS Bowfin (SS-287) at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
–USS Clamagore (SS-343) at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Which may not be there much longer)
–USS Ling (SS-297) at New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Which is also on borrowed time)
–USS Lionfish (SS-298) at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
-USS Pampanito (SS-383) at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California, (which played the part of the fictional USS Stingray in the movie Down Periscope).
–USS Razorback (SS-394) at Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
1,848 tons (1,878 t) surfaced (as built);
2,440 tons (2,479 t) submerged
Length: 311 ft as built; 307 ft.
Beam: 27 ft 4 in
Draft: 17 ft
4 × General Motors Model 16-278A V16 diesel engines driving electrical generators
2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries
4 × high-speed General Electric motors with reduction gears
5,400 shp (4.0 MW) surfaced
2,740 shp (2.0 MW) submerged
20.25 knots surfaced
8.75 knots submerged
Range: 11,000 nautical miles surfaced at 10 knots
48 hours at 2 knots submerged
75 days on patrol
Test depth: 400 ft (120 m)
Complement: 10 officers, 70–72 enlisted
10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
6 forward, 4 aft
2 × 5-inch (127 mm) /25 caliber deck guns
1x Bofors 40 mm and 1x Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
two .50 cal. machine guns
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!
This original color photo shows the crew of an M-24 Chaffee light tank along the Naktong River front in largely DPRK-occupied South Korea. Note the sign to Daegu.
On the ground is PFC Rudolph Dotts, Egg Harbor City, N.J. gunner (center), armed with an M3 Grease Gun. On the hull with an M1 Carbine is PVT Maynard Linaweaver, Lundsburg, Kansas, cannoneer of the tank’s M6 75mm gun. On top, ready on the M2 .50-cal heavy machine gun, is PFC Hugh Goodwin, Decatur, Miss., tank commander.
All are members of the 24th Reconnaissance Company, 24th “Victory” Infantry Division. The date is likely August to September 1950, as the unit was inside the battered Pusan (Busan) Perimeter, holding the western portion of the line.
Of note, the DPRK forces opposing the 24th had hundreds of Soviet-supplied T-34/85 tanks, which had both stronger armor than the M-24 and a superior main gun.
The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Scout (MCM 8) is the fourth Navy vessel to carry the name, following in the path of two Great War-era patrol gunboats– that ironically served concurrently– and a WWII minesweeper.
Commissioned in December 1990, she has spent the past three decades being ready to work in a world filled with floaty explody things.
As noted by the minesweeper’s command:
USS Scout – MCM 8 would like to take the opportunity to invite all past and current crew members and family members to celebrate the decommissioning is USS Scout via Facebook. The ceremony will take place on 19 Aug. This may be the decommissioning of USS Scout, but Pathfinders will always lead the way!