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.
They used them to host visiting Navy SH-60 and SH-2s, as well as the occasional Marine UH-1, CH-46, and CH-53 while also running their own early RQ-2A Pioneer UAV detachments–to which Iraqi units would later surrender to during the 1st Gulf War.
However, it 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.
With the cats deleted in the early 1950s, the Iowas saw more HO3s, now equipped with folding blade rotors and externally-mounted rescue hoists.
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.
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.
And Vanguard would go on to operate both RN FAA Westland WS-51 Dragonflies and USN Piasecki HUP-2s on occasion in the 1950s.
The more you know…
Looming from the fog of the Pacific into San Francisco Bay is the Iowa-class super dreadnought USS Wisconsin (BB-64), seen passing under the Golden Gate Bridge on 15 October 1945. She is carrying returning soldiers home from the Pacific as part of Operation Magic Carpet.
Also note her lengthy homeward bound pennant, denoting continuous overseas duty for more than nine months and returning to a U.S. port. Commissioned 16 April 1944, she had her shakedown on the East Coast and joined Halsey’s 3rd Fleet at Ulithi Atoll via the Panama Canal and Hawaii on 9 December, bound for points West.
Here we see the Illinois-class pre-dreadnought type battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-9) drawing 23 feet of water in Gatun Lake, Panama, 16 July 1915.
Obsolete within five years of her commissoning, she served with her two sisteres, Illinois and former Warship Wednesday alumn Alabama on the epic Great White Fleet and then, after a modernization in 1909 that left her looking more haze gray as seen above, she was used for training until 1919 when she was laid up for good and scrapped without ceremony in 1922.
In 1944 another battleship entered the fleet with the same name, which had a rather longer life.
6 February 1991:
The Iowa-class battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) fires a round from one of the Mark 7 16-inch/50-caliber guns in its No. 3 turret during Operation Desert Storm. The ship’s target is an Iraqi 155mm artillery battery in southern Kuwaiti, which her guns greatly outranged. This was the first time Wisconsin‘s guns had fired in anger since 1952 where she pounded Chinese positions in Korea and would mark the start of her participation in the ground war during Operation Desert Storm.
71 years ago today–January 18, 1947– A photograph of the return of the Iowa-class battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) to the Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. The battleship had been on a 12-day cruise in the Caribbean with 565 Naval Reservists. Wisconsin was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania and launched on December 7, 1943– the above being her original bow. She would only later be referred to as WisKy, after she picked up the bow of her uncompleted sister ship, USS Kentucky, following a collision with the destroyer Ellison in 1956.
I like estate sales and enjoy attending them as I tend to find great old knives, militaria, and firearms up for grabs. One sale I recently attended was for a late local Biloxi-area photographer who took a number of images up and down the Gulf Coast in the 1970s and 80s that were turned into postcards. Apparently, as part of his payment, he got a stack of each postcard that was printed. While a lot were your standard lighthouse-shrimpboat-sand dollar-bikini girl scenes, there were also some military subjects that I picked up.
I got a *stack* of each of these five.
Bottom line, I am never going to use several hundred postcards, so I am bundling one of each of the above (five in total) together to send for free to anyone that wants a set. So if you want a set of the five above, email me your shipping address at: email@example.com and I will drop an envelope in the USPS mail box headed your way.
Be advised some of these are 30-40 years old and, while they never took up store space or were circulated, they were not stored in museum conditions (rusty old filing cabinets marked “NASA Marietta”). But they are free and I will not use your address for anything but scribbling it on the envelope.
Did I mention they are free?
The answer to that would be 15,595 live ones in 10 different variants including HC, armor piercing and practice.
The last battleship salvo was from USS Wisconsin 16 May 1991, with the last battleship transferred to museum life in 2012.
The Army’s last 16″/50cal Gun M1919 coastal artillery battery was disbanded in 1946.
Currently at AAAC, Crane:
Designation/Type Filler Number
D862 High Capacity Explosive D 3,624
D872 Armor Piercing Explosive D 2,430
D874 High Capacity Explosive D 591
D875 Armor Piercing 666 M46 GP Grenades 22
D875 Armor Piercing 400 M43A1 GP Grenades 234
D877 Armor Piercing Explosive D 1,743
D878 High Capacity Explosive D 2
D879 High Capacity Explosive D 411
D881 Practice Tracer only 272
D882 High Capacity Explosive D 6,266
I thought it was cool that PM picked up the piece, I read PM as a kid.
Anyway, I think they make great conversation pieces. Central City Surplus just redid a 1,900-pound D875 AP shell (and yes, that is a QH-50 DASH in the background).