USS Iowa (BB-61) underway in Pearl Harbor with an escort of harbor tugs, while en route to the U.S. at the end of her Korean War combat tour. The photograph is dated 28 October 1952. Middle tug is Anacot (YTB-253). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 44539
The NHHC also has this great bow shot in their files from the same day.
USS Iowa (BB-61) Steaming into Pearl Harbor with rails manned, 28 October 1952, while en route to the U.S. following her first Korean War deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 44538
As well as a direct overhead shot.
USS Iowa (BB-61) off Pearl Harbor, en route to the U.S. at the end of her Korean War combat tour. The photograph is dated 28 October 1952. Note the ship’s hull number (61) and U.S. Flag painted atop her forward turrets. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 44536
Iowa commissioned 22 February 1943 and earned nine battle stars for her World War II service. Post-war, she served as Fifth Fleet flagship and conducted a variety of sea training, drills, and maneuvers with the Fleet before she entered mothballs in 1949.
After Communist aggression in Korea necessitated an expansion of the active fleet, Iowa recommissioned 25 August 1951, Captain William R. Smedberg III in command. She operated off the West Coast until March 1952, when she sailed for the Far East. On 1 April 1952, Iowa became the flagship of Vice Admiral Robert T. Briscoe, Commander, 7th Fleet, and departed Yokosuka, Japan to support United Nations Forces in Korea. From 8 April to 16 October 1952, Iowa was involved in combat operations off the East Coast of Korea. Her primary mission was to aid ground troops, by bombarding enemy targets at Songjin, Hungnam, and Kojo, North Korea.
During this time, Admiral Briscoe was relieved as Commander, 7th Fleet. Vice Admiral J. J. Clark, the new commander, continued to use Iowa as his flagship until 17 October 1952. Iowa departed Yokosuka, Japan 19 October 1952 for overhaul at Norfolk and training operations in the Caribbean Sea.
A beautiful period Kodachrome of USS Iowa (BB-61) hurling a 16-inch shell toward a North Korean target, in mid-1952. Some 16,689 rounds were fired from her main and secondary batteries on enemy installations during her stint off Korea. Note her 40mm quad gun tubs. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-K-13195 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command.
She added two Korean War battlestars to her tally, then spent the next five years in a series of Cold War operations in the Med– where she was Sixth Fleet flag– and throughout the North Atlantic region.
Iowa decommissioned 24 February 1958 for a second time, then entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia, where she remained until a trip to Pascagoula for her second recommissioning in 1984– and I was a goofy ten-year-old in the stands at Ingalls West Bank that day, my heart bursting.
An SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter is secured by flight deck crewmen aboard the battleship Iowa (BB-61) on 1 Sep 1985. Official USN photo # DN-ST-86-02511, by PHC Jeff Hilton,
The Iowa-class battleships received official helicopter pads and a helicopter control station below their after 5-inch director–although no hangar facilities– in the 1980s during their Lehman 600-ship Navy modernization.
The helicopter control station on the 02 level of the battleship Iowa (BB-61). Official USN photo # DN-ST-86-09557, by PH1 Jeff Hilton
Crew members on board the battleship USS Iowa (BB 61) prepare an HSL-32 SH-2F Seasprite helicopter for launch from the fantail of the ship during NATO Exercise Northern Wedding in August 1986. NNAM photo
Crew members aboard Iowa (BB-61) wait for a Helicopter Light Anti-Submarine Squadron 34 (HSL-34) SH-2F Seasprite helicopter to be secured before transporting a badly burned sailor injured during NATO exercise North Wedding 86. Official USN photo # DN-ST-87-00280, by PH1 Jeff Hilton
CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter approaches the landing area at the stern of the battleship USS IOWA (BB 61)
A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter is parked on the helicopter pad during flight operations aboard the battleship USS IOWA (BB-61).
A U.S. Marine Corps Boeing Vertol CH-46D Sea Knight (BuNo 154023) of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (HMM-165) prepares to land aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64). The helicopter was transporting Allied military personnel who were coming aboard the ship to be briefed by Wisconsin´s Commanding Officer, Capt. D.S. Bill. The meeting was taking place during the 1991 Gulf War. 6 February 1991 Navy Photo DN-ST-92-07868 by PH2 Robert Clare, USN
The curator of the Battleship New Jersey Museum tours the ship’s helicopter deck.
However, the 1980s-90s by far was not the first time those dreadnoughts sported whirly-birds.
Back in 1948, while the ships still had floatplane catapults and a quartet of Curtiss SC-2 Seahawk floatplanes on their stern, USS Missouri (BB-63) accommodated a visiting experimental Sikorsky S-51, piloted by D. D. (Jimmy) Viner, a chief test pilot for Sikorsky.
Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter (Bureau # 122527) landing on Missouri’s forward 16-inch gun turret, during the 1948 Midshipmen’s cruise. Guard mail, ships’ newspapers, and personnel were exchanged via helicopter while the Midshipmen’s cruise squadron was at sea. Most exchanges were made by hovering pick-up. The forward turret was used as a landing platform since the floatplane catapults on the ship’s fantail prevented helicopters from operating there. The photo was filed on 13 September 1948. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-706093
With the cats deleted in the early 1950s, the Iowas saw more HO3s, now equipped with folding blade rotors and externally-mounted rescue hoists.
USS New Jersey (BB-62) A Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter of squadron HU-1 takes off from the battleship’s afterdeck, while she was operating off Korea. The upraised green flag signifies that the pilot has permission to take off. Crash crew, in yellow helmets, are standing by with fire hoses ready. This helicopter is Bureau # 124350. The photograph is dated 14 April 1953. The photographer is Lt. R.C. Timm. 80-G-K-16320
USS Iowa (BB-61) steams out of Wonsan harbor, Korea, after a day’s bombardment. The photograph is dated 18 April 1952. Note HO3S helicopter parked on the battleship’s after deck. Also, note the WWII catapults are deleted but the floatplane crane is still on her stern. NH 44537
USS Wisconsin (BB-64) snow falling on the battleship’s after deck, 8 February 1952, while she was serving with Task Force 77 in Korean waters. Note 16″/50cal guns of her after turret, and Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter parked on deck. Photographed by AF3c M.R. Adkinson. 80-G-441035
Four Marine HO4S/H-19 (Sikorsky S-55) and one Navy HO3S/H5 on the fantail of USS Missouri during the Korean War, 1952. The H-19s are likely of HMR-161, which largely proved the use of such aircraft in Korea.
New Jersey also supported the occasional helicopter during her reactivation in the Vietnam war. Notably, she received 16-inch shells and powder tanks from USS Mount Katmai (AE-16) by H-34 helicopter lift, the first time heavy battleship ammunition had been transferred by helicopter at sea.
New Jersey (BB-62) underway off the Virginia Capes with an SH-3D Sea King from HS-3 “Tridents”, (attached to the Randolph CVS-15 and a squadron of CVSG-56), about to land on the fantail. However, it is more likely that the helicopter flew out to the “Big J” from NAS Norfolk. Official Navy Photograph # K-49736, taken by PH3 E. J. Bonner on 24 May 1968, via Navsource.
Two UH-1 Huey helicopters resting on the fantail of the New Jersey (BB-62) during her service in December 1968 off Vietnam. Courtesy of Howard Serig, via Navsource.
But wait, old boy
With all that being said, it should be pointed out that it was the Brits who first successfully used a helicopter on their last battlewagon, HMS Vanguard, in 1947, a full year before Missouri’s first rotor-wing visit.
Sikorsky R-4 Hoverfly landing on the quarterdeck of HMS Vanguard on February 1, 1947 off of Portland Bill.
Landing a Sikorsky R4 helicopter on the aft deck of the battleship Vanguard February 1, 1947
And Vanguard would go on to operate both RN FAA Westland WS-51 Dragonflies and USN Piasecki HUP-2s on occasion in the 1950s.