Tag Archives: Patrol Squadron Nine

Just DesRon 20 Showing Off

A stack of brand-new Farragut-class destroyers of Destroyer Squadron Twenty (DesRon20) executing a turn on a bright summer day. Leading the column is USS Farragut (DD-348), followed by USS Dewey (DD-349), USS Hull (DD-350), USS MacDonough (DD-351), USS Worden (DD-352), and USS Aylwin (DD-355) during an exhibition for Movietone News, off San Diego on 14 September 1936.

Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley Jr., Washington DC, 1969. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 67297

DesRon20 Steam through a smokescreen laid by planes of Patrol Squadrons Seven, Nine and Eleven, during an exhibition staged for Movietone News off San Diego, California, 14 September 1936. The ships are, from bottom to top: Farragut (DD-348), Dewey (DD-349), Hull (DD-350), Macdonough (DD-351), Worden (DD-352), Dale (DD-353), Monaghan (DD-354) and Aylwin (DD-355). Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley, Jr., USN, 1969. NH 67293

Patrol planes fly over DesRon20 destroyers, during an exhibition staged for Movietone News off San Diego, California, 14 September 1936. Planes include one PBY-1 of Patrol Squadron 11 (upper right), flying in formation with four P2Ys of Patrol Squadron 7. In the distance are four PM-1s of Patrol Squadron 9. Ships are steaming in line abreast, shortly after passing through a smokescreen. The three nearest the camera are (from right to left): Dewey (DD-349), Hull (DD-350) and Macdonough (DD-351). Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley, Jr., USN, 1969. NH 67286

Destroyers on Maneuvers with planes overhead. Ships from the left are USS Monaghan (DD-354), USS Dale (DD-353), USS Worden (DD-352), and USS Macdonough. Note signal flags repeated throughout the squadron. NH 60270.

Within three years, these ships would be clearing for war during tense neutrality, and within another two would be involved in some of the heaviest naval combat ever seen.

Commissioned within a 12-month period from June 1934 to June 1935, the eight new-fangled 1,365-ton Farraguts were twin pipers, ending the long Navy tradition of four-pipe tin cans the service had for about 20 years. Mounting five 5″/38s and eight torpedo tubes, they had all the offensive power of the later Fletcher-class in a much smaller hull. The class earned an impressive 93 battle stars– Farragut and Dale received 14 stars each– for their World War II service, an average of 11.625 per hull.
Remarkably, none were lost in combat although three– Hull, Monaghan, and Worden— were all lost to more traditional enemies: typhoons and uncharted rocks.  

Warship Wednesday, May 10, 2017: ‘All Vessels: Make Smoke!’

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 period, and one of the most interesting tasks of a bygone era was that of making smoke, on purpose.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 10, 2017: All Vessels: Make Smoke!

Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Albert K. Murray; 1944; Framed Dimensions 20H X 24W

“The signal from the Admiral’s flagship. The sharp blasts of his ship’s whistle have indicated the approach of enemy aircraft in force. Almost immediately plumes of whitish smoke arise from all ships of any size in the anchorage. Speedy small craft race among them with smoke pots pouring out a thick screen. Beach battalion men get their pots going and presently all the waterfront operations will be swathed in a dense opaque fog to confuse and disrupt impending bombing.”

One of the most popular tactics for early steam navy forces was the newfound ability to make instant smokescreens, either by ordering the stokers to burn cheap coal in designated boilers; constricting the airflow to the boilers and thus creating billows due to the choking flame; or by adding oil to the coal or funnel. This common tactic was a hit by the turn of the century, with Edwardian/Great White Fleet era ships– destroyers in particular– practicing it regularly.

USS CUSHING (DD-55) Laying a smokescreen, before World War I. Print in the collection of the late Admiral C. T. Hutchins, USN, owned by Mrs. H. C. Allan. Courtesy of Lieutenant H. C. Allan, USN, 17 Dec. 1940. Catalog #: NH 55539

Destroyer laying a smokescreen, circa 1914 Description: She is probably part of the Second Division, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla. This photo is one of a series from the collection of a USS Walke (Destroyer # 34) crewmember, a three-stack destroyer which was a member of the Second Division. Courtesy of Jim Kazalis, 1981. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99863

USS Woolsey (Destroyer # 77) Participates in laying a smokescreen, during Pacific Fleet battle practice in Hawaiian waters, circa mid-1919. Photographed by Tai Sing Loo, Honolulu. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1971. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 73608

By the end of the Great War, aircraft delivered smoke screens had been added to the lexicon as had purpose-made smoke generating devices.

This opaque white chemical smoke (titanium tetrachloride) was generally more effective than the sooty black boiler smoke of the Great War age, which tended to dissipate rather quickly. By the 1930s, the U.S. Navy used three different recipes for smoke: HC or hexachloroethane type smoke mixture, FS, or sulfur trioxide in chlorosulfonic acid, FM, or titanium tetrachloride, and WP or white phosphorus.

A Curtis H-16 flying boat lays a smoke screen near units of the U.S. Fleet at anchor near Panama, circa 1924. Ships include; a Tennessee-class battleship, under smoke, a Nevada-class BB, center, a New York-class BB, far left, a New Mexico-class BB, far right, and an Omaha-class cruiser, background center. Photo from the Library of Congress collection.

American destroyers lay down a smokescreen during maneuvers on the West Coast, 1926

Aircraft lay a smokescreen over USS Langley (CV-1) during fleet maneuvers in 1930

Aircraft lay a smokescreen over USS Langley (CV-1) during fleet maneuvers in 1930

USS Lexington (CV-2) Steams through an aircraft-deployed smoke screen, 26 February 1929, shortly after that year’s Fleet Problem exercises. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 75714

Smoke Screen is laid by three T4M-type torpedo bombers, circa the early 1930s. Description: Courtesy of Chief Photographer’s Mate John Lee Highfill (retired) Catalog #: NH 94852

September 14, 1936 photograph staged for Movietone News off San Diego, California. Destroyer Squadron 20 (DesRon 20) steams through a smokescreen laid by Patrol Squadrons Seven, Nine, and Eleven. USS Aylwin (DD-355), USS Monaghan (DD-354), USS Dale (DD-353), and USS Worden (DD-352) are visible, while USS Macdonough (DD-351), USS Hull (DD-350), USS Dewey (DD-349), and USS Farragut (DD-348) are out of the photo, their presence indicated by their wakes. Overhead, two PH Flying Boats observe the formation. US Navy and Marine Corps Museum/Naval Aviation Museum, Photo No. 1996.229.032.

Destroyer Squadron Twenty (DESRON-20) emerging from an aircraft smoke screen laid down by planes of VP-7, VP-9, and VP-11, during an exhibition for Movietone News, off San Diego on 14 September 1936.Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley Jr., Washington DC, 1969 Catalog #: NH 67294

USS MONAGHAN (DD-354) foreground, USS DALE (DD-353), and USS WORDEN (DD-352) in the background to the right emerging from a smoke screen laid down by planes of VP-7, VP-9, and VP-11 during an exhibition for Movietone News, off San Diego on 14 September 1936. Description: Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley Jr., Washington DC, 1969 Catalog #: NH 67272

80-G-463112: U.S. Navy destroyers lay fuel smoke screens the fleet to shield USS Lexington (CV 2), January 5, 1934

EMANUELE FILIBERTO DUCA D’AOSTA (Italian light cruiser, 1934-circa 1957) Caption: Photographed before World War II. Naval intelligence analysts marked the smoke screen projector and stern anchor, common to Italian cruisers and destroyers at this time, on the original photograph. Description: Catalog #: NH 85918

KIROV (Soviet heavy cruiser, 1936- circa 1975) Caption: The original caption of this illustration from a Soviet publication reads-roughly-“creation of a smokescreen curtain,” and is attributed to the photographer N. Verinuchka. The ship’s port battery of 3.9-in./56-caliber antiaircraft guns can be seen in the center and the three elevated barrels of the 7.1-inch main battery beyond. Description: Catalog #: NH 95483

Aircraft used for smoke screens would be fitted with the Mark 6 Smoke Screen tank (50 gals.), weighing 593 lbs. when filled with 442 lbs. of FS, which was capable of ejecting smoke for 15 to 50 seconds. Chemical smoke from aircraft, the 1920s:

WWII saw perhaps the most extensive use of smoke screens by naval forces, especially on daylight littoral operations such as amphibious assaults.

During WWII, besides funnel smoke and smoke generators, the Navy used both the Mark 1 and Mark II Smoke Float, devices which were 165 lbs. when filled with 90 lbs. of HC. They were 30.7″ high by 22.5″ in diameter and produced smoke for 18 – 21 minutes for the protection of convoys against submarines. There was also the Floating Smoke Pots M-4 and M4A1 (13″ high by 12″ in diameter and weigh 35 lbs. when filled with 26 lbs. of HC. They generate smoke for 10 – 15 minutes and are designed for amphibious operations) as well as smaller M-8 Smoke Grenades and 5″ smoke projectiles (using WP).

PT boats were standardized with the standard Mark 6 generator which used a commercial ICC-3A480 full spun steel Mk 2 ammonia cylinder tank with a capacity of about 33 gallons, filled with FM or titanium tetrachloride. German S-boats ran a similar setup.

Mark 6 Smoke Screen Generator used by PT boats

Salerno Invasion, September 1943 U.S. Navy PT boat laying a smokescreen around USS ANCON (AGC-4) off Salerno, 12 September 1943. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-87326

Night air raid, Naples, Italy. German flares lighting Naples Harbor, seen from USS BROOKLYN (CL-40). A smokescreen covers the water in the distance, laid by allied ships and shore units. Note tracers from anti-aircraft gunfire. BROOKLYN’s turret #2 is silhouetted at left. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-220333 National Archives Original Sat, Mar 11, 1944

German battlecruiser Gneisenau laying funnel smoke around 1940. NH 82411

“USS O’Bannon (DD-450) laying a smokescreen, as seen from her own bridge in the Solomons,1943.”(NHHC: 80-G-K-3974)

Crew of battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) watch as destroyer USS Cony (DD-508) lays down smokescreen Leyte landing operations Oct 20, 1944

Dido Class Light Cruisers in action: Convoy From Alexandria to Malta meets and engages Italian Warships in the Mediterranean, HMS Cleopatra throws out smoke to shield the convoy as HMS Euryalus elevates her forward 5.25-inch guns to shell the Italian Fleet, March 22nd, 1942.

Although radar basically ended the usefulness of smoke screens in fleet vs. fleet operations, or in shielding a landing craft from a non-optically guided missile, fleets still practiced the maneuver well into the 1950s.

USS Caperton (DD-650) Lays a smoke screen during Atlantic Fleet maneuvers, 1956. The original print, dated 11 September 1956, carries the following caption: Most effective in World War II the smoke screen obscured the views of opponents gun and torpedo directors. Since radar is now widely used, the smokescreen has less use except in very close in engagements or in air attacks by small planes without radar. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104045

And, of course, it still has usefulness today when it comes to kicking in a door by a maritime landing or raiding force and you are trying to shield incoming waves from the Mk 1/Mod 0 eyes of a machine gun nest or RPG operator.

Some things never go out of style as witnessed by these ROK Marine Amtracs firing smoke grenades on an amphibious landing exercise. As the Norks use a lot of optically-sighted weapons, this is likely a great idea to keep standard.

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