Big J gets one of her lost 40mm mounts back

"USS New Jersey in Vietnam" Painting, Tempera on Paper; by John Charles Roach; 1969; NHHC Accession #: 88-197-CE Launched in 1942, New Jersey (BB-62) saw service in WWII and Korea before being decommissioned in 1957. In 1968 she was reactivated and outfitted to serve as a heavy bombardment ship in Vietnam. At recommissioning, she was the only active battleship in the U.S. Navy. Between late September 1968 and early April 1969, she participated in Operation Sea Dragon, providing offshore gunfire support against inland and coastal targets. Soon thereafter, the Navy decided to reduce heavy bombardment forces in Southeast Asia. New Jersey was again decommissioned in December 1969.

“USS New Jersey in Vietnam” Painting, Tempera on Paper; by John Charles Roach; 1969; NHHC Accession #: 88-197-CE Launched in 1942, New Jersey (BB-62) saw service in WWII and Korea before being decommissioned in 1957. In 1968 she was reactivated and outfitted to serve as a heavy bombardment ship in Vietnam. At recommissioning, she was the only active battleship in the U.S. Navy. Between late September 1968 and early April 1969, she participated in Operation Sea Dragon, providing offshore gunfire support against inland and coastal targets. Soon thereafter, the Navy decided to reduce heavy bombardment forces in Southeast Asia. New Jersey was again decommissioned in December 1969.

When USS New Jersey (BB-62) was built, the wounds of Pearl Harbor were still fresh in the minds of battleship sailors and the new series of capital ships were stacked deep with 40mm and 20mm cannons, designed to fill the sky around the ship with a hurricane of flak to break up Japanese air attacks. The battlewagon carried no less than 80 40mm/56 cal Bofors cannon, arranged in 20 quad mounts. The ship and her crew earned nine battle stars for her World War II service and four for her service in the Korean War before she was put into mothballs in 1957.

The only battleship called in from “red lead row” for service in Vietnam, in 1968 she was stripped of her Bofors cannon– obsolete against jets– and all were destroyed except for one mount that was left as a display at (the now closed) Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was built.

Now, as part of a crowd-sourced fundraiser to restore the gun and send it to Camden, New Jersey where the battleship has been as a museum ship since 2001, it has been picked up from Philly and moved to the Mahan Collection museum where it will be restored before reunited with the retired naval warship.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Looking for an Invader?

This bad boy popped up on eBay, listed as an On Mark Marksman Douglas A-26, with On Mark being a post-war pressurized cabin “business transport” modification to the classic Invader attack plane/bomber.

She is in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, with the caveat that she “Needs control surfaces redone–Aleron & Elevators”

What’s the story behind her?

Well, while there is an Invader [RB-26C SN44-35493 (N576JB)] which belongs to the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, but she has a valid cert and looks to be very recently in great shape.

I think it is NA26B, listed by the Warbird Registry in “Open Storage, santa Teresa, NM” marked “Intimate Invader” and formerly flew for various small commercial carriers in the 1960s and 70s.

Serial #: 44-34526, she is a 1944 A-26B, and has been up for sale for a long time. And has been verified as a Marksman frame conversion (B#2).

Still, $150K…

Designed by Ed Heinemann, just over 2,400 Invaders were produced during WWII, and they remained in service with the USAF in Korea and he Air National Guard as late as the 1970s (being used at both the Bay of Pigs by the latter and in Southeast Asia by the former)

Girded for war

U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-10695, now in the collections of the National Archives.

“USS Memphis (CL 13), Fire-Control Gun-Captain, Boatswain’s Mate Second Class is preparing to fire a charge. The belt he wears hold primers used in the discharging of a powder charge. Around his arm, he wears a towel that is saturated with water during an action, 1942.”

Memphis was an Omaha-class light cruiser completed in 1922. Obsolete and very lightly armored when compared to more modern designs, she was relegated to searching for German blockade runners in the South Atlantic in WWII. She mounted a number of 6″ and 3″ singles, which is likely what the BM2 is working.

Always wanted a suppressed HK53-based SBR?

The Heckler & Koch HK53 was designed in the 1970s as an ultra-compact version of their 5.56mm HK33, basically, the German answer to the Warsaw Pact AKS-74U Krinkov or Colt’s various Vietnam-era Commando models. They saw some export success, and in the U.S. the pre-Homeland Security Border Patrol adopted them for some tactical teams (hey, Customs had the Steyr-AUG at the same time, so you can see the need for competition).

Well, SilencerCo teamed up with Canton, Michigan’s Dakota Tactical Firearms to craft a limited run of just ten (10) roller-locked semi-auto HK53s SBRs in .300 BLK, equipped with matching Omega suppressors.

Termed the D300 by DTAC, these guns usually run bigfoot on a unicorn rare on the market. Each uses an 8.3-inch free-floated fluted barrel and a “sear-ready” tungsten-filled bolt group. The DTAC hand guard is freckled with M-Lok (because what isn’t these days?) while the receiver runs a 1913 Pic rail for your optic needs that go beyond the standard HK drum/post sights. A collapsible A3 stock, tools and 30-round mag complete the package.

How mucho do they run? Check out my column at Guns.com for that stocking sticker, along with some more sweet pics.

Robert Gould Shaw’s sword, thought lost to history, found in attic

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw clutched the sword in his hand until he was killed in battle by enemy troops at the murderous assault on Fort Wagner. (Photo by Stuart C. Mowbray/MHS)

Descendants of Col. Robert Gould Shaw, killed leading the 54th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War, recently stumbled across his sword.

Last week the Massachusetts Historical Society announced they had acquired a collection of Shaw’s papers, photographs, and relics, to include his engraved Wilkinson sword, which he was carrying when he was killed.

“To have located ‘the holy grail of Civil War swords’ is a remarkable discovery,” said MHS President Dennis Fiori in a statement. “Through an amazing research effort, our curator and staff were able to put together a detailed timeline to authenticate the sword.”

The sword, a Wilkinson given to him by his uncle when the 25-year-old was promoted to full colonel of volunteers just weeks before the grim frontal attack that claimed his life, was found in an attic by descendants of his sister.

More here.  

Gould’s actions, and the 54th, would be retold in 1989’s Glory.

OPSEC

Note the ship’s name has been redacted. You can never be too careful.

80-G-54637 Photograph released October 19, 1943. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

“USS Harris (APA 2). Mascot “Mr. Chips,” was picked up by a crew member of Harris, a Navy transport, and became the ship’s mascot. He participated in the attack on Attu, and also has a health record, identification card and a dog tag”

USS Harris, formerly the civilian passenger ship, Pine Tree State, was a 21,900-ton “attack transport” who picked up 10 battlestars in WWII. Capable of carrying 1,700 fully-equipped troops, she was present at every significant amphibious operation in the Pacific from the Aleutians through Okinawa, making Chips a hardcore veteran.

Lafayette, we are here

If you are a Francophile, or just plain old French or Creole (here’s to you, Ben and Aaron!), then consider this Happy Bastille Day.

In honor of the ceremony in Paris, 190 troops from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines will march alongside thousands of French servicemen and women in the Friday parade, and U.S. military planes will contribute to the grand flypast.

The select honor guard leading the American contingent for the parade are patch-wearing members of The Big Red One– 1st U.S. Infantry Division– who will be marching with M1903 Springfields, cartridge belts, and M1917 Brodie style helmets, while some officers will be carrying M1902 pattern swords of the same sort carried by Pershing when he walked off the deck onto French soil.

PARIS (July 12, 2017) Almost 200 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen assigned to units in Europe and the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, march from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde during a rehearsal for the Military Parade on Bastille Day to be held July 14, 2017. This year, the U.S. will lead the parade as the country of honor in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I – as well as the long-standing partnership between France and the U.S. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael McNabb/Released)

Rehersals:

The Americans will lead the Military Parade on Bastille Day, July 14, 2017, along the famous Champs-Elysées in Paris in commemoration of the U.S. entry into WWI.

“France stood with us during the American Revolution and that strategic partnership endures today,” said General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. European Command. “On behalf of the 60,000 service members standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the French to ensure Europe is whole, free and at peace, we are honored to lead the Bastille Day Parade and help celebrate the French independence.”

On July 4, 1917, U.S. Army regular, Lt. Col. Charles Egbert Stanton–nephew of Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, SpanAm War vet and chief disbursing officer and aide to Pershing– visited the tomb of French Revolution and American Revolution hero Marquis de La Fayette and was famously attributed as saying, “Lafayette, we are here!”

It should be noted that this occurred after the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, (then part of the Big Red One) paraded through the streets of Paris.

The unit went on to suffer the first American casualties of the war in the Trenches just weeks later. On 4 October 1918, the 16th was the only regiment in the entire First Army to take its regimental objectives in the opening attacks in the Meuse-Argonne. Today the 16th carries the French Fourragère, awarded after Normandy in 1944, and while the 2nd Battalion inactivated in 2015, 1-16 is still part of the 1st ID, and the battalion colors are in the color guard at the head of the parade.

Meanwhile, in the air, the Thunderbirds have been practicing for the flypast.

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