Tag Archives: USS DALE (DD-353)

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.  

Sock’s Clippers and their 24-hour run

This majestic beast is a Consolidated P2Y-1, coded “10-P-1” denoting it as the command plane of LCDR Knefler “Sock” McGinnis, of patrol squadron VP-10F, as it peaks over the Hawaiian coastline, en route to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, near the end of the nonstop formation flight from San Francisco, USA, 10-11 January 1934. But more on that later.

NH 81664

The U.S. Navy fell in love with seaplanes back in the days of Glenn Curtiss and, by the end of WWI, had numerous models in regular service around the country, chief among them being the Curtiss H.16 and Felixstowe F5L. By the 1920s, the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia was making what they termed the PN flying boat, variants of the F5L with a massive 72-foot wingspan and a pair of Cyclone 9-cylinder single-row radial engines.

In 1925, in a show of force of the Navy’s ability to respond quickly to attacks on far-flung Pacific bases at a time when Japan was starting to flex serious muscle, two PN-9’s tried to fly from San Francisco to Honolulu– 2,400 miles.

I mean that is a big distance. Especially just 20 years after the Wright brothers first flew.

To put it into perspective, it is only 1,000 miles by air from Berlin to Moscow and 1,100 from New York to Miami. Even going cross-country, from Charleston, South Carolina to Los Angeles is 2,200. The 2,300 miles from Pearl Harbor to San Fransisco is serious.

The thing is, the trip didn’t work out that well and, though heroic, did not prove the point. One aircraft was forced to land 300 miles outside of San Francisco and had to be towed back while the second flew 1,341 miles and ran out of fuel and, after fashioning sails (not making this up) blew into the Hawaiian Islands nine days later on the incoming tide.

The crew of 4 rigged a sail of wing fabric and attempted to sail to Hawaii. They were found by the submarine R-4 when less than 20 miles from shore. Still, the 1,341 miles flown by the PN-9 was a new distance record for seaplanes.

80-G-465336: PN-9 flying boat flying off the coast of Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, September 22, 1925

Then came civilian attempts.

The ill-fated Dole Air Race (aka the Dole Derby) from California to Hawaii in 1927, started off with 18 “civilian” crews trying for the prize and only two made it. The lucky ones that didn’t crack up near the California coast. The unlucky ones, including early aviatrix Mildred Doran, were never seen again.

The winner of the $25K Dole prize? Two Army Air Corps pilots (!) who made it to Wheeler Army Airfield on Oahu in 25 hours and 50 minutes in the “Bird of Paradise,” a converted Fokker C-2 tri-motor. The gauntlet had been thrown down.

A couple of years after the PN-9 debacle and while the Dole racers were risking their lives, Consolidated Aircraft built the huge Commodore, a flying boat designed for long-range clipper service for Pan Am and others. With a 100-foot wingspan, the aluminum-hulled parasol wing monoplane could carry as many as 32 passengers on short hops and half as many on 1,000-nm+ legs.

One thing led to another and by 1931, the Navy ordered 23 of the big Commodore variants of their own, powered by two Wright R-1820-E1 engines, dubbed P2Y-1’s. The first 10 of these boats, capable of carrying three machine guns for self-defense and up to 2,000-lbs of bombs, were delivered to Patrol Squadron 10, float (VP-10F) at Norfolk in 1933 and soon embarked on a series of epic long-distance flights.

P2Y flying boat pictured taking off from the water at Naval Air Station (NAS) Hampton Roads 9 September 1933, via the NNAM

The most important of these was when six Consolidated P2Y-1s set a record for flying in formation from San Francisco to Honolulu– in 24 hours and 35 minutes, erasing the sting of the PN-9 affair of the 1920s and the Army-flown tri-motor of the Dole race.

P2Y-1 flying boat assigned to VP-10F off the California 1930s note the admiral’s flag on the nose of the airplane

Newsreel footage of VP-10’s P2Y-1 boats attempting the SF to Pearl run in January 1934:

They made it without sails, as a unit, flying all night. In doing so, they established three world records. The flight bettered the best previous time for the crossing; exceeded the best distance of previous mass flights; and broke a nine-day-old world record for distance in a straight line for Class C seaplanes with a new mark of 2,399 miles (3,861 km).

VP-10 Non-Stop Formation Flight 10-11 January 1934. View taken of the squadron’s P2Y-1 (consolidated) patrol planes, over Diamond Head, near Honolulu, Hawaii, en route to Pearl Harbor. Courtesy of Mrs. Laurence van Fleet, 1974 Catalog #: NH 81663

After their flight, five of the six P2Y-1 aircraft of US Navy squadron VP-10F at Naval Air Station Ford Island, US Territory of Hawaii, Jan. 1934.

The 30 crew members of the assembled aircraft were celebrated on arrival.

LCDR Knefler “Sock” McGinnis, USN left, with members of his crews of patrol squadron VP-10 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 11 January 1934 after the Trans-Pacific flight from San Francisco, USA, in consolidated P2Y patrol planes, one of which (McGinnis’) is in the background coded “10-P-1”. Description: Courtesy of Mrs. Laurence van Fleet, 1974

The reign of the P2Y was to be short-lived, with the Hawaii record the highlight of their service. In 1935, the first Consolidated PBY Catalina flew and the next year set a distance record of 2,992 miles with ease.

In all, only about 75 P2Ys were built in all variants and were replaced by 1941 with the famous and imminently capable PBY-1 Catalina, which it inspired.

What a great picture! A P2Y right, of VP-7 with a PBY-1 left, of VP-11 flying over USS DALE (DD-353) of DESRON-20, 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 67305

USS Farragut (DD-348) staged for Movietone News, off San Diego, California, 14 Sept 1936. At left is a PBY-1 of Patrol Squadron Eleven-F (VP-11F). The other four are P2Ys of Patrol Squadron Seven-F (VP-7F)

USS Farragut (DD-348) staged for Movietone News, off San Diego, California, 14 Sept 1936. At left is a PBY-1 of Patrol Squadron Eleven-F (VP-11F). The other four are P2Ys of Patrol Squadron Seven-F (VP-7F)

The P2Y’s seaplane jaunt was commemorated in “Record-Breaking Flight, 1934” a 1999 oil painting by artist Morgan Ian Wilbur, which portrays the boats in all their full-color peacetime livery.

Sock’s 10-P-1 up front! The painting currently in the NHHC collection, Accession #: 99-155-C


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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