Tag Archive | USS wisconsin

Get to the choppa: Battlewagon edition

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

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. 

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).

However, it by far was not the first time those dreadnoughts sported whirly-birds.

1948-55

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

Vietnam

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.

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.

The more you know…

Magic Carpet ride, 74

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.

NH 66295

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.

Battlewagon on a lake, 103 years ago today

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.

 

Wisconsin let’s em rip, 27 years ago today

6 February 1991:

PH2 Robert Clare, USN. (OPA-NARA II-2016/01/10)

PH2 Robert Clare, USN. (OPA-NARA II-2016/01/10)

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.

Welcome home, WisKy

John L. Hemmer | The Virginian Pilot Caption information courtesy of The Sargeant Memorial Collection

John L. Hemmer | The Virginian-Pilot Caption information courtesy of The Sargeant Memorial Collection

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.

Who wants some postcards?

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.


They are detailed as such:

“The 6-inch disappearing rifle located at Battery Cooper in Fort Pickens. The uniforms shown were from the late 1890s. The Fort only saw about 60 hours of combat; that during the Civil War. “

U.S. Air Force Armament Museum outside of Eglin AFB, showing a B-17, F-4, and T-12 “Cloudmaker” 44,000 lb bomb

USS Kitty Hawk underway. No note as to when the image was taken but she still has A-7 Corsairs and SH-3 Sea Kings on deck and CIWS aft, so I am guessing mid-to-late 1980s.

“Pascagoula” showing the mouth of the river at Ingalls-Litton’s East Bank with the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) berthed undergoing her post-mothball modernization 1987-88. I attended her recommissioning as a kid! An LHD (likely Wasp) and a late batch VLS CG-47 are visible in the postcard on the West Bank, though I can’t tell which numbers

Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island off Gulfport. This image is pre-1998 as the island has changed significantly since then. Everything to the right of the fort is now underwater due to Hurricanes Georges and Katrina and the casemates are currently very close to the beach at high tide

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: egerwriter@gmail.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?

Guess how many 16-inch shells are left in storage?

Crewmen load a 16-inch shell aboard the battleship USS WISCONSIN (BB 64) as the vessel is readied for sea trials (Photo: National Archives)

Crewmen load a 16-inch shell aboard the battleship USS WISCONSIN (BB 64) as the vessel is readied for sea trials (Photo: National Archives)

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
Total                                                                                                  15,595

And the Army is looking to get rid of them, as I detailed in this piece at Guns.com

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).

central-city-surplus-d875-16-inch-gun-shell

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