Tag Archives: 40mm bofors

Ulster Bofors Work

Official caption: “British Sergeant instructs U.S. gunners. A British Sergeant taking some of the U.S. troops in Northern Ireland through a course of light A.A. gun drill.”

Library of Congress, LC-USE6- D-008293.

Note the Yanks’ soon-to-be-replaced M1917 Brodie helmets, especially the camo-painted specimen used by the coverall-clad gunner. In the distance are two early M3 half-tracks. The gun is, of course, a British single-barreled Q.F. 40 mm Mk. 1 (L60 Bofors) mount, likely made in Canada and recently shipped over when this image was taken.

The first American troops, largely Midwestern National Guardsmen of the 34th “Red Bull” Division, under Maj. Gen. Russell P. Hartle, arrived in Uster on 26 January 1942– 80 years ago this week– fresh from the Louisiana Maneuvers. They were deployed as part of Operation Magnet just days after the U.S. entry into WWII as a result of Pearl Harbor– although advanced elements would arrive as early as 19 January. In all, over 30,000 Americans would be in Northern Ireland by summer.

They would soon begin training arm-in-arm with the Brits, including Hartle’s ADC, Capt. William Orlando Darby, who, along with 281 other volunteers from the 34th, would soon start running about with the Commandos. But that is another story.

The Star of Peace gleams hopefully over the guns of war

“Christmas Eve in the Pacific,” aboard USS LST-770.

Drawn by Coast Guard Combat Artist, BMC John J. Floherty, Jr. NARA 26-G-12-14-44

Official caption:

The Star of Peace gleams hopefully over the guns of war in this Christmas drawing by Coast Guard Combat Artist John J. Floherty, Chief aboard a Coast Guard-manned LST “Somewhere in the Pacific.” A gunner stands his lonely vigil, his eyes alert for signs of the enemy. His thought drifting over the thousands of miles of restless sea to his loved ones at home. Coast Guardsman Floherty’s home is Port Washington, N.Y.

Floherty, 37 at the time of the above work, has several other scenes of Iwo Jima and Okinawa scenes that are far less peaceful, digitized in the National Archives. 

A skilled commercial artist, cartoonist, and painter, Floherty studied at Columbia University, the Art Students League with George Bridgman, and at the Grand Central School of Art with Harvey Dunn. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators and had studios in New York City and Northport, Long Island. He passed away in 1977, at age 70.

Bofors/Breda 40s still at work

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:

How about that beautiful Breda Type 106 Twin 40 mm/L70s

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.

April Fools, Pearl Harbor edition, 74 years on

NHC # 80-G-K-4707

Here we see crewmen on watch on a 40mm quad Bofors gun mount while their ship was supporting the invasion of Okinawa, 1 April 1945, some 74 years ago today.

Their vessel: the Colorado-class battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48).

Commissioned in 1923, WV was transferred to the Pacific Fleet on the eve of WWII and was on Battleship Row on December 7, 1941, catching seven Type 91 aerial torpedoes and two Type 99 No. 80 Mk 5 bombs in the Japanese attack. Tragically, she lost 106 men that day, with some still trapped aboard heard still hammering away inside her hull an amazing 16 days after the attack.

Raised, she was repaired and modernized, her crew reformed from fresh recruits and salty veterans. Rejoining the war with a fresh purpose on 14 September 1944, she left Pearl Harbor heading West. Over the course of the following year, she earned five battle stars, proving that reports of her destruction were very much inaccurate.

Five musicians from her band were later temporarily transferred to USS Missouri to play at the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay the following September.

Know anybody with some Oerlikon parts gathering dust?

They basically need everything you see above in gray…

I recently talked to Clark Perks, development director at the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial and he has an 888-foot battlewagon full of armament that includes nine massive 16-inch and 12 5-inch guns, but what they are missing is a complete 20mm Oerlikon cannon.

They have the gun itself, they just need the mount and shield and can work to fab one from an original if they could work out the loan…

More in my column at Guns.com

P.S. They just got their 40mm quad mount restored– and it even fires.

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. 

Want a dewatted Bofors? Just $25K

Found this on one of the gun classifieds sites this week:

40mm downes
A twin 40mm Bofors mount from the ex-USS Downes, DD-375. In case you don’t remember Downes, a Mahan-class tin can commissioned in 1937, she was present at Pearl Harbor on a day that will live in infamy. And she got quite a licking.

 Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941, USS Downes (DD-375), at left, and USS Cassin (DD-372), capsized at right, burned out and sunk in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard drydock on 7 December 1941, after the Japanese attack. The relatively undamaged USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) is in the background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941, USS Downes (DD-375), at left, and USS Cassin (DD-372), capsized at right, burned out and sunk in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard drydock on 7 December 1941, after the Japanese attack. The relatively undamaged USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) is in the background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Well she was salvaged in the most real way possible. Her equipment that could be saved was removed and installed in a new hull (with the same hull number!). She was recommissioned in late 1943 and finished the war, being broken up in 1947 for scrap.

The only thing is, Downes didnt carry Bofors at Pearl as far as I know. The gun had only just been approved for IOC a few months before. Most of the AAA guns in action on Dec. 7th were water-cooled Browning M2 .50 cals and the downright horrible 1.1-inch quad. However after her rebirth, she did in fact carry a pair of twin 40mm guns aft (in place of one of her 5-inch guns) for her return payback cruise to Japanese-held waters in 1944-45.

The bad thing is the guy wants $25K for them…and they are dewatted. Still, kinda cool piece of history, and it doesn’t show up in the lost cannon wall of shame.