Posted tagged ‘world war 2’

Development of Aerial Combat in World War II

May 30, 2010

Fighter development slowed between World War I and II, with the most significant change coming late in the period, when the classic World War I type machines started to give way to metal monocoque or semi-monocoque monoplanes, with cantilever wing structures. Given limited defense budgets, air forces tended to be conservative in their aircraft purchases, and biplanes remained popular with pilots because of their agility. Designs such as the Gloster Gladiator, Fiat CR.42, and Polikarpov I-15 were common even in the late 1930s, and many were still in service as late as 1942. Up until the mid-1930s, the vast majority of fighter aircraft remained fabric-covered biplanes. Fighter armament eventually began to be mounted inside the wings, outside the arc of the propeller, though most designs retained two synchronized machine-guns above the engine (which were considered more accurate). Rifle-caliber guns were the norm, with .50 caliber machine guns and 20 mm cannons deemed “overkill.” Considering that many aircraft were constructed similarly to World War I designs (albeit with aluminum frames), it was not considered unreasonable to use World War I-style armament to counter them. There was insufficient aerial combat during most of the period to disprove this notion.

The rotary engine, popular during World War I, quickly disappeared, replaced chiefly by the stationary radial engine. Aircraft engines increased in power several-fold over the period, going from a typical 180 hp in the 1918 Fokker D.VII to 900 hp in the 1938 Curtiss P-36. The debate between the sleek in-line engines versus the more reliable radial models continued, with naval air forces preferring the radial engines, and land-based forces often choosing in-line units. Radial designs did not require a separate (and vulnerable) cooling system, but had increased drag. In-line engines often had a better power-to-weight ratio, but there were radial engines that kept working even after having suffered significant battle damage.

Some air forces experimented with “heavy fighters” (called “destroyers” by the Germans). These were larger, usually a two- engine aircraft, sometimes adaptations of light or medium bomber types. Such designs typically had greater internal fuel capacity (thus longer range) and heavier armament than their single-engine counterparts. In combat, they proved ungainly and vulnerable to more nimble single-engine fighters.

The primary drive for fighter innovation, right up to the period of rapid rearmament in the late thirties, was not military budgets, but civilian aircraft races. Aircraft designed for these races pioneered innovations like streamlining and more powerful engines that would find their way into the fighters of World War II.

At the very end of the inter-war period came the Spanish Civil War. This was just the opportunity the German Luftwaffe, Italian Regia Aeronautica, and the Soviet Union’s Red Air Force needed to test their latest aircraft designs. Each party sent several aircraft to back their side in the conflict. In the dogfights over Spain, the latest Messerschmitt fighters (Bf 109) did well, as did the Soviet Polikarpov I-16. The German design, however, had considerable room for development and the lessons learned in Spain led to greatly improved models in World War II. The Russians, whose side lost in the conflict, nonetheless determined that their planes were sufficient for their immediate needs. I-16s were later slaughtered en masse by these improved German models in World War II, although they remained the most common Soviet front-line fighter until well into 1942. For their part, the Italians were satisfied with the performance of their Fiat CR.42 biplanes, and being short on funds, continued with this design even though it was obsolescent. The Spanish Civil War also provided an opportunity for updating fighter tactics. One of the innovations to result from the aerial warfare experience this conflict provided was the development of the “finger-four” formation by the German pilot Werner Mölders. Each fighter squadron (German: Staffel) was divided into several flights (Schwärme) of four aircraft. Each Schwarm was divided into two Rotten ,which was a pair of aircraft. Each Rotte was composed of a leader and a wingman. This flexible formation allowed the pilots to maintain greater situational awareness, and the two Rotte could split up at any time and attack on their own. The finger-four would become widely adopted as the fundamental tactical formation over the course of World War II.

Aerial combat formed an important part of World War II military doctrine. The ability of aircraft to locate, harass, and interdict ground forces was an instrumental part of the German combined-arms doctrine, and their inability to achieve air superiority over Britain made a German invasion unfeasible. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel noted the effect of airpower: “Anyone who has to fight, even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy in complete command of the air, fights like a savage against modern European troops, under the same handicaps and with the same chances of success.”

During the 1930s, two different streams of thought about air-to-air combat began to emerge, resulting in two different approaches to monoplane fighter development. In Japan and Italy especially, there continued to be a strong belief that lightly armed, highly maneuverable single-seat fighters would still play a primary role in air-to-air combat. Aircraft such as the Nakajima Ki-27, Nakajima Ki-43 and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero in Japan, and the Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200 in Italy epitomized a generation of monoplanes designed to this concept.

The other stream of thought, which emerged primarily in Britain, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States was the belief that the high speeds of modern combat aircraft and the g-forces imposed by aerial combat meant that dogfighting in the classic World War I sense would be impossible. Fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Supermarine Spitfire, the Yakovlev Yak-1 and the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk were all designed for high level speeds and a good rate of climb. Good maneuverability was desirable, but it was not the primary objective.

The 1939 Soviet-Japanese Battle of Khalkhyn Gol and the initial German invasion of Poland that same year were too brief to provide much feedback to the participants for further evolution of their respective fighter doctrines. During the Winter War, the greatly outnumbered Finnish Air Force, which had adopted the German finger-four formation, bloodied the noses of Russia’s Red Air Force, which relied on the less effective tactic of a three-aircraft delta formation.

European theater (Western Front)

The Battle of France, however, gave the Germans ample opportunity to prove they had mastered the lessons learned from their experiences in the Spanish Civil War. The Luftwaffe, with more combat-experience pilots and the battle-tested Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter operating in the flexible finger-four formation, proved superior to its British and French contemporaries relying on the close, three-fighter “vic” (or “V”) and other formations, despite their flying fighters with comparable maneuver performance.

The Battle of Britain was the first major military campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, and it offered further lessons for both sides. Foremost was the value of radar for detecting and tracking enemy aircraft formations, which allowed quick concentration of fighters to intercept them farther from their targets. As a defensive measure, this ground-controlled interception (GCI) approach allowed the Royal Air Force (RAF) to carefully marshal its limited fighter force for maximum effectiveness. At times, the RAF’s Fighter Command achieved interception rates greater than 80%.

In the summer of 1940, then Flight Lieutenant Adolph Malan introduced a variation of the German formation that he called the “fours in line astern”, which spread into more general use throughout Fighter Command. In 1941, Squadron Leader Douglas Bader adopted the “finger-four” formation itself, giving it its English-language name.

The Battle of Britain also revealed inadequacies of extant tactical fighters when used for long-range strategic attacks. The twin-engine heavy fighter concept was revealed as a failed concept as the Luftwaffe’s heavily armed but poorly maneuverable Messerschmitt Bf 110s proved highly vulnerable to nimble Hurricanes and Spitfires; the Bf 110s were subsequently relegated to night fighter and fighter-bomber roles for which they proved better-suited. Furthermore, the Luftwaffe’s Bf 109s, operating near the limits of their range, lacked endurance for prolonged dogfighting over Britain. When bomber losses induced Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to assign most fighters to close-in escort duties, forcing them to fly and maneuver at reduced speeds, German fighter effectiveness fell and losses rose.

The Allies themselves, however, would not learn this latter lesson until they sustained heavy bomber losses of their own during daylight raids against Germany. Despite the early assertions of strategic bombing advocates that “the bomber will always get through”, even heavily armed U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) bombers like the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator suffered such high losses to German fighters (such as the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 “bomber destroyer”) and flak (AAA) that – following the second raid on Schweinfurt in August 1943 – the U.S. Eighth Air Force was forced to suspend unescorted bombing missions into Germany until longer-range fighters became available for escort. These would appear in the form of Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and North American P-51 Mustangs. The use of drop tanks also became common, which further made the heavy twin-engine fighter designs redundant, as single-engine fighters could now cover a similar distance. Extra fuel was carried in lightweight aluminum tanks below the aircraft, and the tanks were discarded when empty. Such innovations allowed American fighters to range over Germany and Japan by 1944.

As the war progressed, the growing numbers of these advanced, long-range fighters flown by pilots with increasing experience eventually overwhelmed their German opposition, despite the Luftwaffe’s introduction of technological innovations like jet- and rocket-powered interceptors. The steady attrition of experienced pilots forced the Germans to more frequently dip into their training pool to make up numbers when casualties surged. While new Allied airmen in Europe were well-trained, new Luftwaffe pilots were seldom able to get effective training – particularly by the summer of 1944, when Allied fighters often loitered around their airfields. Luftwaffe training flights were additionally hampered by the increasingly acute fuel shortages that began in April 1944.

European theater (Eastern Front)

On the Eastern Front, the strategic surprise of Operation Barbarossa demonstrated that Soviet air defense preparations were woefully inadequate, and the Great Purge rendered any lessons learned by the Red Air Force command from previous experience in Spain and Finland virtually useless. During the first few months of the invasion, Axis air forces were able to destroy large numbers of Red Air Force aircraft on the ground and in one-sided dogfights. However, by the winter of 1941–1942, the Red Air Force was able to put together a cohesive air defense of Moscow, successfully interdict attacks on Leningrad, and begin production of new aircraft types in the relocated semi-built factories in the Urals, Siberia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. These facilities produced more advanced monoplane fighters, such as the Yak-1, Yak-3, LaGG-3, and MiG-3, to wrest air superiority from the Luftwaffe. However, Soviet aircrew training was hasty in comparison to that provided to the Luftwaffe, so Soviet pilot losses continued to be disproportionate until a growing number of survivors were matched to more effective machines.

Beginning in 1942, significant numbers of British, and later U.S., fighter aircraft were also supplied to aid the Soviet war effort, with the Bell P-39 Airacobra proving particularly effective in the lower-altitude combat typical of the Eastern Front. Also from that time, the Eastern Front became the largest arena of fighter aircraft use in the world; fighters were used in all of the roles typical of the period, including close air support, interdiction, escort and interception roles. Some aircraft were armed with weapons as large as 45 mm cannon (particularly for attacking enemy armored vehicles), and the Germans began installing additional smaller cannons in under-wing pods to assist with ground-attack missions.

Pacific theatre

In the Pacific Theater, the experienced Japanese used their latest Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” to clear the skies of all opposition. Allied air forces – often flying obsolete aircraft, as the Japanese were not deemed as dangerous as the Germans – were caught off-guard and driven back until the Japanese became overextended. While the Japanese entered the war with a cadre of superbly trained airmen, they were never able to adequately replace their losses with pilots of the same quality, resulting in zero leave for experienced pilots and sending pilots with minimal skill into battle, while the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and U.S. schools produced thousands of competent airmen, compared to hundred the Japanese graduated a year before the war. Japanese fighter planes were also optimized for agility and range, and in time Allied airmen developed tactics that made better use of the superior armament and protection in their Grumman F4F Wildcats and Curtiss P-40s. From mid-1942, newer Allied fighter models were faster (Wildcat was 13 mph slower than the Zero, but the Warhawk was 29 mph faster) and better-armed than the Japanese fighters. Improved tactics such as the Thach weave helped counter the more agile Zeros and Nakajima Ki-43 ‘Oscars’. Japanese industry was not up to the task of mass-producing fighter designs equal to the latest Western models, and Japanese fighters had been largely driven from the skies by mid-1944.

Technological innovations

Piston-engine power increased considerably during the war. The Curtiss P-36 Hawk had a 900 hp (670 kW) radial engine but was soon redesigned as the P-40 Warhawk with a 1100 hp (820 kW) in-line engine. By 1943, the latest P-40N had a 1300 hp (970 kW) Allison engine. At war’s end, the German Focke-Wulf Ta 152 interceptor could achieve 2050 hp (1530 kW) with an MW-50 (methanol-water injection) supercharger and the American P-51H Mustang fitted with the Packard V-1650-9 could achieve 2218 hp (1650 kW) under war emergency power. The Spitfire Mk I of 1939 was powered by a 1030 hp (770 kW) Merlin II; its 1945 successor, the Spitfire F.Mk 21, was equipped with the 2035 hp (1520 kW) Griffon 61. Likewise, the radial engines favored for many fighters also grew from 1,100 hp (820 kW) to as much as 2090 hp (770 kW) during the same timeframe.

The first turbojet-powered fighter designs became operational in 1944, and clearly outperformed their piston-engined counterparts. New designs such as the Messerschmitt Me 262 and Gloster Meteor demonstrated the effectiveness of the new propulsion system. (Rocket-powered interceptors – most notable the Messerschmitt Me 163 – appeared at the same time, but proved less effective.) Many of these fighters could do over 660 km/h in level flight, and were fast enough in a dive that they started encountering the transonic buffeting experienced near the speed of sound; such turbulence occasionally resulted in a jet breaking up in flight due to the heavy load placed on an aircraft near the so-called “sound barrier”. Dive brakes were added to jet fighters late in World War II to minimize these problems and restore control to pilots.

More powerful armament became a priority early in the war, once it became apparent that newer stressed-skin monoplane fighters could not be easily shot down with rifle-caliber machine guns. The Germans’ experiences in the Spanish Civil War led them to put 20 mm cannons on their fighters. The British soon followed suit, putting cannons in the wings of their Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Americans, lacking a native cannon design, instead chose to place multiple .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns on their fighters. Armaments continued to increase over the course of the war, with the German Me 262 jet having four 30 mm cannons in the nose. Cannons fired explosive shells, and could blast a hole in an enemy aircraft rather than relying on kinetic energy from a solid bullet striking a critical subsystem (fuel line, hydraulics, control cable, pilot, etc.). A debate existed over the merits of high rate-of-fire machine guns versus slower-firing, but more devastating, cannon.

With the increasing need for close air support on the battlefield, fighters were increasingly fitted with bomb racks and used as fighter-bombers. Some designs, such as the German Fw 190, proved extremely capable in this role – though the designer Kurt Tank had designed it as a pure interceptor. While carrying air-to-surface ordnance such as bombs or rockets beneath the aircraft’s wing, its maneuverability is decreased because of lessened lift and increased drag, but once the ordnance is delivered (or jettisoned), the aircraft is again a fully capable fighter aircraft. By their flexible nature, fighter-bombers offer the command staff the freedom to assign a particular air group to air superiority or ground-attack missions, as need requires.

Rapid technology advances in radar, which had been invented shortly prior to World War II, would permit their being fitted to some fighters, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 110, Bristol Beaufighter, de Havilland Mosquito, Grumman F6F Hellcat and Northrop P-61 Black Widow, to enable them to locate targets at night. The Germans developed several night-fighter types as they were under constant night bombardment by RAF Bomber Command. The British, who developed the first radar-equipped night fighters in 1940–1941, lost their technical lead to the Luftwaffe. Since the radar of the era was fairly primitive and difficult to use, larger two- or three-seat aircraft with dedicated radar operators were commonly adapted to this role.

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B-25 : The Pistol Packing Bomber

May 16, 2010

B-25 Mitchell

The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.The B-25 was named in honor of General Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. The B-25 is the only American military aircraft named after a specific person. By the end of its production, nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models had been built. These included a few limited variations, such as the United States Navy’s and Marine Corps’ PBJ-1 patrol bomber and the United States Army Air Forces’ F-10 photo reconnaissance aircraft.

Design and development

Flight Performance School also included work in evaluating the performance of this B-25 Mitchell medium bomberThe B-25 was a descendant of the earlier XB-21 (North American-39) project of the mid-1930s. Experience gained in developing that aircraft was eventually used by North American in designing the B-25 (called the NA-40 by the company). One NA-40 was built, with several modifications later being done to test a number of potential improvements. These improvements included Wright R-2600 radial engines, which would become standard on the later B-25.

In 1939, the modified and improved NA-40B was submitted to the United States Army Air Corps for evaluation. This aircraft was originally intended to be an attack bomber for export to the United Kingdom and France, both of which had a pressing requirement for such aircraft in the early stages of World War II. However, those countries changed their minds, opting instead for the also-new Douglas DB-7 (later to be used by the US as the A-20 Havoc). Despite this loss of sales, the NA-40B re-entered the spotlight when the Army Air Corps evaluated it for use as a medium bomber. Unfortunately, the NA-40B was destroyed in a crash on 11 April 1939. Nonetheless, the type was ordered into production, along with the Army’s other new medium bomber, the Martin B-26 Marauder.

Early production

An improvement of the NA-40B, dubbed the NA-62, was the basis for the first actual B-25. Due to the pressing need for medium bombers by the Army, no experimental or service-test versions were built. Any necessary modifications were made during production runs, or to existing aircraft at field modification centers around the world.A significant change in the early days of B-25 production was a re-design of the wing. In the first nine aircraft, a constant-dihedral wing was used, in which the wing had a consistent, straight, slight upward angle from the fuselage to the wing tip. This design caused stability problems, and as a result, the dihedral angle was nullified on the outboard wing sections, giving the B-25 its slightly gull wing configuration. Less noticeable changes during this period included an increase in the size of the tail fins and a decrease in their inward cant.A total of 6,608 B-25s were built at North American’s Fairfax Airport plant in Kansas City, Kansas.A descendant of the B-25 was the North American XB-28, meant to be a high-altitude version of the B-25. Despite this premise, the actual aircraft bore little resemblance to the Mitchell. It had much more in common with the B-26 Marauder.

Operational history

The B-25 first gained fame as the bomber used in the 18 April 1942 Doolittle Raid, in which sixteen B-25Bs led by the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, attacked mainland Japan four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The mission gave a much-needed lift in spirits to the Americans, and alarmed the Japanese who had believed their home islands were inviolable by enemy troops. While the amount of actual damage done was relatively minor, it forced the Japanese to divert troops for the home defense for the remainder of the war. The raiders took off from the carrier USS Hornet and successfully bombed Tokyo and four other Japanese cities without loss. However, 15 subsequently crash-landed en route to recovery fields in Eastern China. These losses were the result of the task force being spotted by Japanese fishing vessels forcing the bombers to take off 170 mi early, fuel exhaustion, stormy nighttime conditions with zero visibility, and lack of electronic homing aids at the recovery bases. Only one landed intact; it came down in the Soviet Union, where its five-man crew was interned and the aircraft confiscated. Of the 80 aircrew, 69 survived their historic mission and eventually made it back to American lines.Following a number of additional modifications, including the addition of Plexiglas windows for the navigator and radio operator, heavier nose armament, and deicing and anti-icing equipment, the B-25C was released to the Army. This was the second mass-produced version of the Mitchell, the first being the lightly-armed B-25B used by the Doolittle Raiders. The B-25C and B-25D differed only in location of manufacture: -Cs at Inglewood, California, -Ds at Kansas City, Kansas. A total of 3,915 B-25Cs and -Ds were built by North American during World War II.

Although the B-25 was originally designed to bomb from medium altitudes in level flight, it was used frequently in the Southwest Pacific theater (SWPA) on treetop-level strafing and parafrag (parachute-retarded fragmentation bombs) missions against Japanese airfields in New Guinea and the Philippines. These heavily-armed Mitchells, field-modified at Townsville, Australia, by Major Paul I. “Pappy” Gunn and North American tech rep Jack Fox, were also used on strafing and skip-bombing missions against Japanese shipping trying to re-supply their land-based armies. Under the leadership of Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, B-25s of the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces devastated Japanese targets in the SWPA from 1942 to 1945, and played a significant role in pushing the Japanese back to their home islands. B-25s were also used with devastating effect in the Central Pacific, Alaska, North Africa, Mediterranean and China-Burma-India theaters.Because of the urgent need for hard-hitting strafer aircraft, a version dubbed the B-25G was developed, in which the standard-length transparent nose and the bombardier were replaced by a shorter solid nose containing two fixed .50 in machine guns and a 75 mm M4 cannon, one of the largest weapons fitted to an aircraft, similar to the experimental British Mosquito Mk. XVIII, and German Ju 88P heavy cannon carrying aircraft. The cannon was manually loaded and serviced by the navigator, who was able to perform these operations without leaving his crew station just behind the pilot. This was possible due to the shorter nose of the G-model and the length of the M4, which allowed the breech to extend into the navigator’s compartment.

The B-25G’s successor, the B-25H, had even more firepower. The M4 gun was replaced by the lighter T13E1, designed specifically for the aircraft. The 75 mm gun fired at a muzzle velocity of 2,362 ft/s . Due to its low rate of fire (approximately four rounds could be fired in a single strafing run) and relative ineffectiveness against ground targets, as well as substantial recoil, the 75 mm gun was sometimes removed from both G and H models and replaced with two additional .50 in machine guns as a field modification. The -H also mounted four fixed forward-firing .50 machine guns in the nose, four more fixed ones in forward-firing cheek blisters, two more in the top turret, one each in a pair of new waist positions, and a final pair in a new tail gunner’s position. Company promotional material bragged the B-25H could “bring to bear 10 machine guns coming and four going, in addition to the 75 mm cannon, a brace of eight rockets and 3,000 lb of bombs.”

The B-25H also featured a redesigned cockpit area, with the top turret moved forward to the navigator’s compartment (thus requiring the addition of the waist and tail gun positions), and a heavily modified cockpit designed to be operated by a single pilot, the co-pilot’s station and controls deleted, and the seat cut down and used by the navigator/cannoneer, the radio operator being moved to the aft compartment, operating the waist guns. A total of 1,400 B-25Gs and B-25Hs were built.

The final version of the Mitchell, the B-25J, looked much like the earlier B, C and D, having reverted to the longer nose. The less-than-successful 75 mm cannon was deleted on the J model. Instead, 800 of this version were built with a solid nose containing eight .50 machine guns, while other J-models featured the earlier “greenhouse” style nose containing the bombardier’s position. Regardless of the nose style used, all J-models also included two .50 in guns in a “fuselage package” located directly under the pilot’s station, and two more such guns in an identical package just under the co-pilot’s compartment. The solid-nose B-25J variant carried an impressive total of 18 .50 in guns: eight in the nose, four in under-cockpit packages, two in an upper turret, two in the waist, and a pair in the tail. No other bomber of World War II carried as many guns. However, the first 555 B-25Js (the B-25J-1-NC production block) were delivered without the fuselage package guns, because it was discovered muzzle blast from these guns was causing severe stress in the fuselage;this was cured with heavier fuselage skin patches, while later production runs returned these guns, they were often removed as a field modification for the same reason. In all, 4,318 B-25Js were built.

The B-25 was a safe and forgiving aircraft to fly. With an engine out, 60° banking turns into the dead engine were possible, and control could be easily maintained down to 145 mph . However, the pilot had to remember to maintain engine-out directional control at low speeds after take off with rudder – if this was attempted with ailerons, the aircraft would snap out of control. The tricycle landing gear made for excellent visibility while taxiing. The only significant complaint about the B-25 was the extremely high noise level produced by its engines; as a result, many pilots eventually suffered from various degrees of hearing loss. The high noise level was due to design and space restrictions in the engine cowlings which resulted in the exhaust “stacks” protuding directly from the cowling ring and partly covered by a small triangular fairing. This directed exhaust and noise directly at the pilot and crew compartments. Crew members and operators on the airshow circuit frequently comment that “the B-25 is the fastest way to turn aviation fuel directly into noise”. Many B-25’s now in civilian ownership have been modified with exhaust rings that direct the exhaust through the outboard bottom section of the cowling.

The Mitchell was also an amazingly sturdy aircraft and could withstand tremendous punishment. One well-known B-25C of the 321st Bomb Group was nicknamed “Patches” because its crew chief painted all the aircraft’s flak hole patches with high-visibility zinc chromate paint. By the end of the war, this aircraft had completed over 300 missions, was belly-landed six times and sported over 400 patched holes. The airframe was so bent, straight-and-level flight required 8° of left aileron trim and 6° of right rudder, causing the aircraft to “crab” sideways across the sky.

An interesting characteristic of the B-25 was its ability to extend range by using one-quarter wing flap settings. Since the aircraft normally cruised in a slightly nose-high attitude, about 40 gal of fuel was below the fuel pickup point and thus unavailable for use. The flaps-down setting gave the aircraft a more level flight attitude, which resulted in this fuel becoming available, thus slightly extending the aircraft’s range.

By the time a separate United States Air Force was established in 1947, most B-25s had been consigned to long-term storage. However, a select number continued in service through the late 1940s and 1950s in a variety of training, reconnaissance and support roles. Its principal use during this period was for undergraduate training of multi-engine aircraft pilots slated for reciprocating engine or turboprop cargo, aerial refueling or reconnaissance aircraft. Still others were assigned to units of the Air National Guard in training roles in support of F-89 Scorpion and F-94 Starfire operations. TB-25J-25-NC Mitchell, 44-30854, the last B-25 in the USAF inventory, assigned at March AFB, California as of March 1960[6], was flown to Eglin AFB, Florida, from Turner Air Force Base, Georgia, on 21 May 1960, the last flight by a USAF B-25, and presented by Brig. Gen. A. J. Russell, Commander of SAC’s 822nd Air Division at Turner AFB, to the Air Proving Ground Center Commander, Brig. Gen. Robert H. Warren, who in turn presented the bomber to Valparaiso, Florida Mayor Randall Roberts on behalf of the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. Four of the original Tokyo Raiders were present for the ceremony, Col. Davy Jones, Col. Jack Simms, Lt. Col. Joseph Manske, and retired Master Sgt. Edwin W. Horton. Donated back to the Air Force Armament Museum circa 1974 and marked as Doolittle’s 40-2344.

Empire State Building incident

On Saturday, 28 July 1945, at 0940 (while flying in thick fog), a USAAF B-25D crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, hitting between the 79th and 80th floor. Fourteen people were killed — 11 in the building, along with Colonel William Smith and the other two occupants of the bomber. Betty Lou Oliver, an elevator attendant, survived the impact and a subsequent accident with the elevator. It was partly because of this incident that towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center were designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707 aircraft (unfortunately NOT Arab terrorist hijacked airliners).

Variants

B-25

The first version of the B-25 delivered. No prototypes were ordered. The first nine aircraft were built with constant dihedral angle. Due to low stability, the wing was redesigned so that the dihedral was eliminated on the outboard section. (Number made: 24.)
B-25A
Version of the B-25 modified to make it combat ready; additions included self-sealing fuel tanks, crew armor, and an improved tail gunner station. No changes were made in the armament. Re-designated obsolete (RB-25A designation) in 1942. (Number made: 40.)
B-25B
Rear turret deleted; manned dorsal and remotely-operated ventral turrets added, each with a pair of .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns. The ventral turret was retractable, but the increased drag still reduced the cruise speed by 30 mph (48 km/h). 23 were delivered to the RAF as the Mitchell Mk I. The Doolittle Raiders flew B-25Bs on their famous mission. (Number made: 120.)
B-25C
Improved version of the B-25B: powerplants upgraded from Wright R-2600-9 radials to R-2600-13s; de-icing and anti-icing equipment added; the navigator received a sighting blister; nose armament was increased to two .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, one fixed and one flexible. The B-25C model was the first mass-produced B-25 version; it was also used in the United Kingdom (as the Mitchell II), in Canada, China, the Netherlands, and the Soviet Union. First mass-produced B-25 model. (Number made: 1,625.)
ZB-25C
B-25D
Identical to the B-25C, the only difference was that the B-25D was made in Kansas City, Kansas, whereas the B-25C was made in Inglewood, California. First flew on 3 January 1942. (Number made: 2,290.)
ZB-25D
XB-25E
Single B-25C modified to test de-icing and anti-icing equipment that circulated exhaust from the engines in chambers in the leading and trailing edges and empennage. The aircraft was tested for almost two years, beginning in 1942; while the system proved extremely effective, no production models were built that used it prior to the end of World War II. Many prop aircraft today use the XB-25E system. (Number made: 1, converted.)
ZXB-25E
XB-25F-A
Modified B-25C that tested the use of insulated electrical de-icing coils mounted inside the wing and empennage leading edges as a de-icing system. The hot air de-icing system tested on the XB-25E was more practical. (Number made: 1, converted.)
XB-25G
Modified B-25C in which the transparent nose was replaced by a solid one carrying two fixed .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns and a 75 mm (2.95 in) M4 cannon, then the largest weapon ever carried on an American bomber. (Number made: 1, converted.)
B-25G
To satisfy the dire need for ground-attack and strafing aircraft, the B-25G was made following the success of the prototype XB-25G. The production model featured increased armor and a greater fuel supply than the XB-25G. One B-25G was passed to the British, who gave it the name Mitchell II that had been used for the B-25C. (Number made: 420.)
B-25H

B-25H Barbie III taxiing at Centennial Airport, ColoradoAn improved version of the B-25G. It featured two additional fixed .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose and four in fuselage-mounted pods; the heavy M4 cannon was replaced by a lighter 75 mm (2.95 in) T13E1. (Number made: 1,000; number left flying in the world: 1.)
B-25J
The last production model of the B-25, often called a cross between the B-25C and the B-25H. It had a transparent nose, but many of the delivered aircraft were modified to have a solid nose. Most of its 14–18 machine guns were forward-facing for strafing missions. 316 were delivered to the Royal Air Force as the Mitchell III. (Number made: 4,318.)
CB-25J
Utility transport version.
VB-25J
A number of B-25s were converted for use as staff and VIP transports. Henry H. Arnold and Dwight D. Eisenhower both used converted B-25Js as their personal transports.

U.S. Navy / U.S. Marine Corps variants

PBJ-1C
Similar to the B-25C for the US Navy; often fitted with airborne search radar and used in the anti-submarine role.
PBJ-1D
Similar to the B-25D for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Differed in having a single .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun in the tail turret and beam gun positions similar to the B-25H. Often fitted with airborne search radar and used in the anti-submarine role.
PBJ-1G
US Navy/US Marine Corps designation for the B-25G
PBJ-1H
US Navy/US Marine Corps designation for the B-25H
PBJ-1J
US Navy designation for the B-25J-NC (Blocks -1 through -35) with improvements in radio and other equipment. Often fitted with “package guns” and wingtip search radar for the anti-shipping/anti-submarine role.

Survivors

There are more than one hundred surviving B-25 Mitchells scattered over the world, mainly in the United States. Most of them are on static display in museums, but about 45 are still airworthy.

On 18 April 2010, 17 airworthy B-25s took off from the airfield behind the National Museum of the United States Air Force and flew over in formation to commerate the 68th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. Four of the surviving members of the Raid were in attendance for the reunion; Cole, Griffin, Hite and Thatcher, although Hite departed before the flyover. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Commander of Air Force Material Command General Donald Hoffman and the Director of the National Museum of the United States Air Force Major General Charles Metcalf were there also.

Specifications (B-25J)

North American B-25 Mitchell

Role Medium bomber

Manufacturer North American Aviation

First flight 19 August 1940

Introduction 1941

Retired 1979 (Indonesia)

Primary users United States Army Air Forces,Royal Canadian Air Force,Royal Air Force,Soviet Air Force

Number built 9,984

Developed from XB-21

Developed into North American XB-28

General characteristics

Crew: six (two pilots, navigator/bombardier, turret gunner/engineer, radio operator/waist gunner, tail gunner
Length: 52 ft 11 in (16.1 m)
Wingspan: 67 ft 6 in (20.6 m)
Height: 17 ft 7 in (4.8 m)
Wing area: 610 sq ft (57 m²)
Empty weight: 21,120 lb (9,580 kg)
Loaded weight: 33,510 lb (15,200 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 41,800 lb (19,000 kg)
Powerplant: 2× Wright R-2600 “Cyclone” radials, 1,850 hp (1,380 kW) each
Performance

Maximum speed: 275 mph (239 kn, 442 km/h)
Cruise speed: 230 mph (200 kn, 370 km/h)
Combat radius: 1,350 mi (1,170 nmi, 2,170 km)
Ferry range: 2,700 mi (2,300 nmi, 4,300 km)
Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
Rate of climb: 790 ft/min (4 m/s)
Wing loading: 55 lb/ft² (270 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.110 hp/lb (182 W/kg)
Armament

Guns: 12-18 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
Hardpoints: 2,000 lb (900 kg) ventral shackles to hold one external Mark 13 torpedo[15]
Rockets: 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) bombs + eight 5 in (130 mm) high velocity aircraft rockets (HVAR)
Bombs: 6,000 lb (2,700 kg)

Stalking the Clouds: F7F Tigercat

May 13, 2010

F7F Tigercat

The Grumman F7F Tigercat was the first twin-engined fighter aircraft to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed for the new Midway-class aircraft carriers, the aircraft were too large to operate from earlier decks. Although delivered to United States Marine Corps combat units before the end of World War II, the Tigercat did not see combat service in that war. Most F7Fs ended up in land-based service, as attack aircraft or night fighters; only the later F7F-4N was certified for carrier service. They saw service in the Korean War and were withdrawn from service in 1954.

Design and development

Based on the earlier Grumman XP-50 that eventually was canceled, the company further developed the XP-65 (Model 51) for a future “convoy fighter” concept. In 1943, work on the XP-65 was terminated in favor of the design that would eventually become the F7F. The contract for the prototype XF7F-1 was signed on 30 June 1941. Grumman’s aim was to produce a fighter that out-performed and out-gunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability. Armament was heavy: four 20 mm cannons and four 0.50 in machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes. Performance met expectations too; the F7F Tigercat was one of the highest-performance piston-engined fighters, with a top speed well in excess of the US Navy’s single-engined aircraft—71 mph faster than a F6F Hellcat at sea level. The opinion of Capt. Fred M. Trapnell, one of the Navy’s premier test pilots, was that “It’s the best damn fighter I’ve ever flown.”[4]The Grumman F7F was originally named the “Tomcat” but this name was rejected as it was considered at the time too suggestive. The name would much later be used for the Grumman F-14.All this was bought at the cost of heavy weight and a high landing speed, but what caused the aircraft to fail carrier suitability trials was poor directional stability with only one engine operational, as well as problems with the tail-hook design. Therefore, the initial production series was only used from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar. At first, they were single-seater F7F-1N aircraft, but after the 34th production aircraft, a second seat for a radar operator was added; these aircraft were designated F7F-2N. The next version produced, the F7F-3 was modified to correct the issues that caused the aircraft to fail carrier acceptance and this version was again trialled on the USS Shangri-La (CV-38). A wing failure on a heavy landing caused the failure of this carrier qualification too. F7F-3 aircraft were produced in day fighter, night fighter and photo-reconnaissance versions.A final version, the F7F-4N, was extensively rebuilt for additional strength and stability, and did pass carrier qualification, but only 12 were built.

Operational history

Marine Corps night fighter squadron VMF(N)-513 flying F7F-3N Tigercats saw action in the early stages of the Korean War, flying night interdiction and fighter missions and shooting down two Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes. This was the only combat use of the aircraft.
Most F7F-2Ns were modified to control drones for combat training, and these gained bubble canopies over the rear cockpit for the drone controller. A F7F-2D used for pilot transitoning also had a rear sliding, bubble canopy.In 1945, two Tigercats were evaluated, but rejected, by the British Royal Navy, preferring a navalized version of the de Havilland Hornet.

Variants

XF7F-1
Prototype aircraft, two built.
F7F-1 Tigercat
Twin-engine fighter-bomber aircraft, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22W radial piston engines. First production version, 34 built.
F7F-1N Tigercat
Single-seat night fighter aircraft, fitted with an APS-6 radar.
XF7F-2N
Night-fighter prototype, One built.
F7F-2N Tigercat
Two-seat night fighter, 65 built.
F7F-2D
Small numbers of F7F-2Ns converted into drone control aircraft. The aircraft were fitted with an F8F Bearcat-windshield behind the     cockpit.
F7F-3 Tigercat
Single-seat fighter-bomber aircraft, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W radial piston engines, 189 built.
F7F-3N Tigercat
Two-seat night fighter aircraft, 60 built.
F7F-3E Tigercat
Small numbers of F7F-3s were converted into electronic warfare aircraft.
F7F-3P Tigercat
Small numbers of F7F-3s were converted into photo-reconnaissance aircraft.
F7F-4N Tigercat
Two-seat night-fighter aircraft, fitted with an arrester hook and other naval equipment, 13 built.

Operators

United States

* United States Marine Corps
* United States Navy

Survivors

Beginning in 1949, F7Fs were flown to the US Navy storage facility at Litchfield Park in Arizona. Although the vast majority of the airframes were eventually scrapped, a number of examples were purchased as surplus. The surviving Tigercats were primarily used as water bombers to fight forest fires in the 1960s and 1970s. A total of 12 examples exist today with six F7Fs remaining airworthy.
As warbird racers, in 1976, Robert Forbes qualified an F7F-3N but did not race at Reno. Another modified F7F-3N Tigercat, (Bu No. 80503) “Big Bossman” owned by Mike Brown presently competes in the national air racing circuit.

At least four F7F Tigercats are preserved in aviation museums:

* F7F-3 (Serial no. 80373/N7654C) National Museum of Naval Aviation, NAS Pensacola, Florida
* F7F-3 (Serial no. 80410) Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona
* F7F-3P (Serial no. 80390/N700F) Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, Kalamazoo, Michigan
* An F7F (Model & Serial no. TBD) is maintained at the Historic Flight Foundation at Paine Field in Everett, Washington

Specifications (F7F-4N Tigercat)

General characteristics

Role     Fighter aircraft

Manufacturer     Grumman

First flight     2 November 1943

Introduced     1944

Retired     1954

Primary users     United States Navy, United States Marine Corps

Produced     1943–1946

Number built     364

* Crew: 2 (pilot, radar operator)
* Length: 45 ft 4 in (13.8 m)
* Wingspan: 51 ft 6 in (15.7 m)
* Height: 16 ft 7 in (5.1 m)
* Wing area: 455 ft² (42.3 m²)
* Empty weight: 16,270 lb (7,380 kg)
* Max takeoff weight: 25,720 lb (11,670 kg)
* Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W “Double Wasp” radial engines, 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) each


Performance

* Maximum speed: 460 mph (400 knots, 740 km/h)
* Range: 1,200 mi (1,000 nmi, 1,900 km)
* Service ceiling: 40,400 ft (12,300 m)
* Rate of climb: 4,530 ft/min (1,381 m/min)

Armament

* Guns:
o 4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) M2 cannon
o 4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun
* Bombs:
o 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs under wings or
o 1 × torpedo under fuselage

Avionics

* AN/APS-19 radar

USS Texas: Battleship of the Republic

May 8, 2010

USS Texas (BB-35)

 

USS Texas BB 35, the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the U.S. state of Texas, is a New York-class battleship. The ship was launched on 18 May 1912 and commissioned on 12 March 1914.

 

Soon after her commissioning, Texas saw action in Mexican waters following the “Tampico Incident” and made numerous sorties into the North Sea during World War I. When the United States formally entered World War II in 1941, Texas took on the role of escorting war convoys across the Atlantic, and she later shelled Axis-held beaches for the North African campaign and the Normandy Landings before being transferred to the Pacific Theater late in 1944 to provide naval gunfire support during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Texas was decommissioned in 1948, having earned a total of five battle stars for service in World War II, and is presently a museum ship near Houston, Texas. Among the world’s remaining battleships, Texas is notable for being the oldest remaining dreadnought battleship. She is also noteworthy for being one of only six remaining ships to have served in both World Wars. Among US-built battleships, Texas is notable for her sizable number of firsts: the first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns, the first US ship to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers, the first US battleship to launch an aircraft, one of the first to receive the CXAM-1 version of CXAM commercial radar in the US Navy, the first US battleship to become a permanent museum ship, and the first battleship declared to be a US National Historic Landmark.

 Construction

 

Texas was the first of two New York-class battleships authorized on 24 June 1910. Bids for Texas were accepted from 27 September-1 December with the winning bid of $5,830,000 — excluding the price of armor and armament — submitted by Newport News Shipbuilding Company. The contract was signed on 17 December and the plans were delivered to the building yard seven days later. Texas’s keel was laid down on 17 April 1911 at Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 18 May 1912, sponsored by Miss Claudia Lyon, daughter of Colonel Cecil Lyon, Republican national committeeman from Texas, and commissioned on 12 March 1914 with Captain Albert W. Grant in command.

Texas’s main battery consisted of ten 14 in /45 cal Mark 1 guns, which fired 1,400 lb  armor piercing shells with a range of 13 mi . Her secondary battery consisted of twenty-one 5 in /51 cal guns. She originally also mounted four 21 in  torpedo tubes, two on each side of the 2nd Platform at frames 32 and 34.5 with the Torpedo Rooms also storing 12 torpedoes. Texas and her sister New York were the only battleships to store and hoist their 14 in  ammunition in a nose-down position, in cast-iron cups.

 

 Service history

 

On 24 March 1914, Texas departed Norfolk Navy Yard and set a course for New York City, making an overnight stop at Tompkinsville, New York on the night of 26 March. Entering New York Navy Yard on the next day, she spent the next three weeks there undergoing the installation of fire-control equipment.

During her stay in New York, President Woodrow Wilson ordered a number of ships of the Atlantic Fleet to Mexican waters in response to tension created when a detail of Mexican federal troops detained an American gunboat crew at Tampico. The problem was quickly resolved locally, but Rear Admiral Henry T. Mayo sought further redress by demanding an official disavowal of the act by the Huerta regime and a 21-gun salute to the American flag.

President Wilson saw in the incident an opportunity to put pressure on a government he felt was undemocratic. On 20 April, Wilson placed the matter before the United States Congress and sent orders to Rear Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher, commanding the naval force off the Mexican coast, instructing him to land a force at Veracruz and to seize the customs house there in retaliation for what is now known as the “Tampico Incident”. That action was carried out on 21–22 April.

Due to the intensity of the situation, Texas put to sea on 13 May and headed directly to operational duty without benefit of the usual shakedown cruise and post-shakedown repair period. After a five-day stop at Hampton Roads from 14–19 May, she joined Rear Admiral Fletcher’s force off Veracruz on 26 May. She remained in Mexican waters for just over two months, supporting the American forces ashore. On 8 August, she left Veracruz and set a course for Nipe Bay, Cuba, and from there steamed to New York where she entered the Navy Yard on 21 August.

The battleship remained there until 6 September, when she returned to sea, joined the Atlantic Fleet, and settled into a schedule of normal fleet operations. In October, she returned to the Mexican coast. Later that month, Texas became the station ship at Tuxpan, a duty that lasted until 4 November, when the ship steamed for Galveston, Texas. While at Galveston on 7 November, Texas Governor Oscar Colquitt presented the ship’s silver service to Captain Grant. The Young Men’s Business League of Waco, Texas, raised the $10,000 to purchase the silver.

Texas sailed for Tampico on 14 November and thereafter to Veracruz, where she remained for a month. The ship finally bade Mexico farewell on 20 December and set a course for New York. The battleship entered New York Navy Yard on 28 December and remained there undergoing repairs until 16 February 1915. On 25 May, Texas , along with battleships South Carolina, Louisiana, and Michigan rescued 230 passengers from the damaged Holland America Line passenger ship Ryndam, which had been rammed by Norwegian-flagged fruit steamer Joseph J. Cuneo. In 1916, Texas became the first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft weapons with the addition of 3 in /50 cal guns, and the first to control gunfire with directors and rangefinders, analog forerunners of today’s computers.

 

 World War I

 

Upon her return to active duty with the fleet, Texas resumed a schedule of training operations along the New England coast and off the Virginia Capes, alternated with winter fleet tactical and gunnery drills in the West Indies. That routine lasted just over two years until the February-to-March crisis over unrestricted submarine warfare catapulted the US into World War I in April 1917. The 6 April declaration of war found Texas riding at anchor in the mouth of the York River with the other Atlantic Fleet battleships. She remained in the Virginia Capes–Hampton Roads vicinity until mid-August, conducting exercises and training Naval Armed Guard gun crews for service on board merchant ships. One of the gun crews trained aboard Texas was assigned to the merchant vessel Mongolia at the beginning of the war. On 19 April, the crew of Mongolia sighted a surfaced German U-boat and the gun crew trained aboard Texas opened fire on the U-boat averting an attack on Mongolia and firing the first American shots of World War I.

In August, she steamed to New York for repairs, arriving at Base 10 on 19 August and entering the New York Navy Yard soon thereafter. She completed repairs on 26 September and got underway for Port Jefferson that same day. During the mid-watch on 27 September, she ran hard aground on Block Island. Captain Victor Blue and his navigator, confused about shore lights and more concerned about the minefield at the opening of Long Island Sound made the turn at the wrong time and ran the ship aground on the island from the bow all the way aft beyond midships. For three days, her crew lightened ship to no avail. On 30 September, tugs came to her assistance, and she finally backed clear. Hull damage dictated a return to the yard, and the extensive repairs required precluded her departure with Battleship Division 9  for the British Isles in November. The secondary battery was reduced to eighteen 5 in guns in October 1917. Captain Blue, a protege of Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, was never court-martialed and remained in command of Texas. The Navy Department held his navigator entirely responsible for the accident.

Mid-January 1918 found the battleship back at New York preparing for the voyage across the Atlantic, including the removal of two more 5 in  guns reducing the total number aboard to sixteen. She departed New York on 30 January 1918, arrived at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland on 11 February, and rejoined BatDiv 9, by then known as the 6th Battle Squadron of Britain’s Grand Fleet.

Texas’s service with the Grand Fleet consisted entirely of convoy missions and occasional forays to reinforce the British squadron on blockade duty in the North Sea whenever German heavy units threatened. The fleet alternated between bases at Scapa Flow and at the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Texas began her mission only five days after her arrival at Scapa Flow, where she sortied with the entire fleet to reinforce the 4th Battle Squadron, then on duty in the North Sea. She returned to Scapa Flow the next day and remained until 8 March, when she put to sea on a convoy escort mission from which she returned on 13 March. Texas and her division mates entered the Firth of Forth on 12 April but got underway again on the 17th to escort a convoy. The American battleships returned to base on 20 April. Four days later, Texas again stood out to sea to support the Second Battle Squadron the day after the German High Seas Fleet had sortied from Jade Bay toward the Norwegian coast to threaten an Allied convoy. Forward units caught sight of the retiring Germans on 25 April, but at such an extreme range there was no possibility of bringing the German fleet into engagement with the Grand Fleet. The Germans returned to their base that day, and the Grand Fleet, including Texas, did likewise on the next.

Texas and her division mates passed a relatively inactive May in the Firth of Forth. On 9 June, she got underway with the other warships of the 6th Battle Squadron and headed back to the anchorage at Scapa Flow, arriving there the following day. From 30 June-2 July, Texas and her colleagues acted as escort for American minelayers adding to the North Sea mine barrage. After a two-day return to Scapa Flow, Texas put to sea with the Grand Fleet to conduct two days of tactical exercises and war games. At the conclusion of those drills on 8 July, the fleet entered the Firth of Forth. For the remainder of World War I, Texas and the other battleships of Division 9 continued to operate with the Grand Fleet as the 6th Battle Squadron. With the German Fleet increasingly tied to its bases in the estuaries of the Jade and the Ems rivers, the American and British ships settled into a routine schedule of operations with little-to-no hint of combat operations. That state of affairs lasted until the Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November 1918. At 03:35 on 21 November, she got underway to accompany the Grand Fleet to meet the surrendering German Fleet. The two fleets rendezvoused about 46 mi east of the Isle of May and proceeded to the Firth of Forth. Afterward, the American contingent moved to Portland Harbour, England, arriving there on 4 December.

 

 Inter-War period

On 12 December 1918, Texas put to sea with BatDivs 9 and 6 to meet President Woodrow Wilson embarked in George Washington on his way to the Paris Peace Conference. The rendezvous took place around 07:30 the following morning and provided an escort for the President into Brest, France, where the ships arrived at 12:30 that afternoon. On the afternoon of 14 December, Texas and the other American battleships departed Brest to return to the United States. The warships arrived off Ambrose light station on Christmas Day, 1918, and entered New York on the next day.

Following overhaul, Texas resumed duty with the Atlantic Fleet early in 1919. On 10 March, she became the first American battleship to launch an airplane when Lieutenant Commander Edward O. McDonnell flew a British-built Sopwith Camel off the warship. Later in 1919 that accomplishment was expounded upon when Texas’s captain, Nathan C. Twining, successfully employed naval aircraft to spot for the fall of shells during a main battery exercise. The results were that gunfire spotted by aircraft was significantly more accurate than shipboard spotters. In testimony to the Navy General Board, Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Whiting attested that the increase in gunfire effectiveness with air spotting was likely to be as great as 200%. As a result of these first experiments, the Navy would add floatplanes to all

the fleet’s battleships and the newer cruisers. In May 1919, Texas served as a plane guard and navigational aid for the successful attempt by Navy Curtiss NC flying boat NC-4 to become the first airplane to cross the Atlantic. On 26 July 1919 Texas entered the Pacific Ocean as part of the newly formed Pacific Fleet and she would spend the next five and half years as a part of Pacific Fleet. On 17 July the following year, she was designated BB-35 under the Navy’s newly adopted alpha-numeric system of hull classification symbols.

Texas left the Pacific on 16 January 1924 and returned to the east coast for overhaul and to participate in a training cruise to European waters with Naval Academy Midshipmen embarked. While operating in the Atlantic, on 25 November 1924, she sank the incomplete battleship Washington for compliance with the Naval Arms Limitation Treaty of 1922, and later that fall, conducted maneuvers as a unit of the Scouting Fleet. On 31 July 1925 ,until 23 November 1926, she entered Norfolk Navy Yard for a major modernization overhaul during which both cage masts were replaced with tripod masts, her coal-fired boilers were converted to oil-fired, and her fire-control equipment was upgraded to the very latest.

Following completion of her overhaul, Texas was designated the flagship of the United States Fleet and resumed duty along the eastern seaboard. She kept at that task until late 1927, when she did a brief tour of duty in the Pacific from late September till early December. In 1927, Texas set another first with the showing of “talking” pictures for crew entertainment. Near the end of the year, Texas returned to the Atlantic and resumed normal duty with the Scouting Fleet. In January 1928, she transported President Calvin Coolidge to Havana, Cuba, for the Pan-American Conference and then continued on via the Panama Canal and the west coast to maneuvers with the fleet near Hawaii.

She returned to New York early in 1929 for her annual overhaul and had completed it by March when she began another brief tour of duty in the Pacific. She returned to the Atlantic in June and resumed normal duty with the Scouting Fleet. In April 1930, she took time from her operating schedule to escort Leviathan into New York when that ship carried the returning US delegation to the London Naval Conference. In January 1931, she left the yard at New York as flagship of the United States Fleet and headed via the Panama Canal to San Diego, California, and then on to Los Angeles  which became her home port for the next six years and three months. There would be a temporary redeployment back to the Atlantic from April to October 1934. During this Pacific period, she served first as flagship for the entire Fleet and, later, as flagship for BatDiv 1.

In the summer of 1937, she once more was reassigned to the east coast, as the flagship of the Training Detachment, United States Fleet. Late in 1938 or early in 1939, the warship became flagship of the newly organized Atlantic Squadron, built around BatDiv 5. Through both organizational assignments, her labors were directed primarily to training missions, Midshipman cruises, Naval Reserve drills, and training members of the Fleet Marine Force. In December 1938, Texas received for testing the first shipborne radar designed and made by a commercial company RCA for the US Navy, the 385 megacycles CXZ. In 1941, Texas was one of fourteen ships to receive the RCA CXAM-1 radar.

 

 

 World War II

 Early operations

Soon after war broke out in Europe in September 1939, Texas began operating on the “Neutrality Patrol”, an American attempt to keep the war out of the western hemisphere. Later, as the United States moved toward more active support of the Allied cause, the warship began convoying ships carrying Lend-Lease matériel to the United Kingdom. In February 1941, the US 1st Marine Division was founded aboard Texas. On 1 February, Admiral Ernest J. King hoisted his flag as Commander-in-Chief of the re-formed Atlantic Fleet aboard Texas. That same year, while on “Neutrality Patrol” in the Atlantic, Texas was stalked unsuccessfully by the German submarine U-203.

 Convoy duty

Sunday, 7 December 1941, found the battleship at Casco Bay, Maine, undergoing a rest and relaxation period following three months of watch duty at Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland. After 10 days of Casco Bay, she returned to Argentia and remained there until late January 1942, when she got underway to escort a convoy to England. After delivering her charges, the battleship patrolled waters near Iceland until March when she returned home. Around this time, the secondary battery was reduced to six 5 in  guns. For the next six months, she continued convoy-escort missions to various destinations. On one occasion, she escorted Guadalcanal bound Marines as far as Panama; on another, the warship screened service troops to Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa. More frequently, she made voyages to and from the United Kingdom escorting both cargo and troop carrying ships.

 Operation Torch

On 23 October, Texas embarked upon her first major combat operation when she sortied with Task Group 34.8 , the Northern Attack Group for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. The objective assigned to this group was Mehedia near Port Lyautey and the port itself. The ships arrived off the assault beaches early in the morning of 8 November and began preparations for the invasion. Texas transmitted Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first “Voice of Freedom” broadcast, asking the French not to oppose Allied landings on North Africa. When the troops went ashore, Texas did not come immediately into action to support them. At that point in the war, amphibious warfare doctrine was still young; and many did not recognize the value of a pre landing bombardment. Instead, the Army insisted upon attempting surprise. Texas finally entered the fray early in the afternoon when the Army requested her to destroy an ammunition dump near Port Lyautey. One more gunfire mission was provided on the 10th before the ceasefire on 11 November. Thus, unlike in later operations, she expended only 273 rounds of 14 in  ammunition and six rounds of 5 in  ammunition. During her short stay, some of her crew briefly went ashore to assist in salvaging some of the shipping sunk in the harbor. On 16 November, she departed North Africa and headed for home in company with Savannah, Sangamon, Kennebec, four transports, and seven destroyers.A young Walter Cronkite was aboard Texas from Norfolk through her tenure off the North African coast and back to the US. On the return trip to the US, Cronkite was catapulted off Texas in one of the ship’s OS2U Kingfishers once Norfolk was within flying distance. He was granted permission to be flown, from the ship, the remaining distance to Norfolk so he could beat a rival correspondent, aboard the Massachusetts, back to the US and have the first uncensored stories published on the Torch landings. Cronkite’s experiences aboard Texas launched his career as a war correspondent.

 Operation Overlord

Throughout 1943, Texas carried out the familiar role of convoy escort. With New York as her home port, she made numerous transatlantic voyages to such places as Casablanca and Gibraltar, as well as frequent visits to ports in the British Isles. That routine continued into 1944 but ended on 22 April of that year when, at the European end of one such mission, she remained at the Clyde estuary in Scotland and began training for the invasion of Normandy.

 Rehearsal

During the next twelve days, Texas carried out many 14 in  gun-firing exercises with British battleships HMS Ramillies and Rodney. The firing was done in conjunction with Royal Air Force airplanes as spotters. On 29 April, Texas, Nevada, and Arkansas relocated to Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland. There, final preparations were made, including the removal of the airplane catapult and the ship’s OS2U Kingfisher observation planes. The three pilots who flew Texas’ Kingfishers during this period were temporarily transferred to a newly formed squadron, VCS-7, that was composed of the pilots who flew observation and scouting planes from the cruisers Augusta, Quincy, and Tuscaloosa and the battleships Arkansas, Nevada, and Texas. VCS-7 received training in defensive fighter tactics, aerobatics, navigation, formation flying and spotting procedures in Royal Air Force Spitfires; they flew spotting missions in the Spitfires because of the threat from German fighters. The pilots of VCS-7 would fly spotting missions for the US warships off OMAHA and UTAH beaches during D-Day. Also, during this time additional radio equipment was added, including a device to detect and jam radio-guided missiles. Final exercises were carried out to the south in Dundrum Bay and Belfast Lough. During the final preparations, General Eisenhower came aboard on 19 May to speak to the crew. On 31 May, the ship was sealed and a briefing given to the crew about the upcoming invasion. For the invasion, Texas was designated Bombardment Force Flagship for Omaha Beach, in the Western Taskforce. Her firing area of Omaha was the western half, supporting the US 29th Infantry Division and the US 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe du Hoc, and the US 5th Ranger Battalion, which had been diverted to Western Omaha to support the troops at Pointe du Hoc.

The bombardment force consisted of two sections with Texas and the British light cruiser HMS Glasgow responsible for the western half of Omaha Beach. The east half of Omaha Beach included Arkansas and the French light cruisers Georges Leygues and Montcalm. Also assigned to Omaha Beach were the American destroyers Frankford, McCook, Carmick, Doyle, Emmons, Baldwin, Harding, Satterlee, Thompson, and the British destroyers HMS Tanataside, Talybont and Melbreak.

At 02:09 on 3 June, Texas and the rest of the Western Taskforce sailed from Belfast Lough for Normandy. In sight, on a parallel course was a group of British ships, including the battleships HMS Warspite and Ramillies. At 07:10 on 4 June, the taskforce had to reverse course due to unacceptable weather in the Normandy. Later that evening, off Lundy Island, the taskforce reversed course and headed for and joined the invasion fleet gathering at Area Z. The invasion fleet then headed south toward Normandy and navigated the German minefield, through which minesweepers had cleared channels; not a single Omaha Beach vessel was lost.

 D-Day

At 03:00 on 6 June 1944, Texas and the British cruiser Glasgow entered the Omaha Western fire support lane and into her initial firing position 12,000 yd offshore near Pointe du Hoc at 04:41, as part of a combined total US-British flotilla of 702 ships, including seven battleships and five heavy cruisers.

The initial bombardment commenced at 05:50, against the site of six 5.9 in guns, atop Pointe du Hoc. When Texas ceased firing at the Pointe at 0624, 255 14 in  shells had been fired in 34 minutes , an average rate of fire of 7.5 shells per minute, which was the longest sustained period of firing for Texas in World War II. While shells from the main guns were hitting Pointe du Hoc, the 5 in  guns were firing on the area leading up to Exit D-1, the route to get inland from western Omaha. At 06:26, Texas shifted her main battery gunfire to the western edge of Omaha Beach, around the town of Vierville. Meanwhile, her secondary battery went to work on another target on the western end of “Omaha” beach, a ravine laced with strong points to defend an exit road. Later, under control of airborne spotters, she moved her major-caliber fire inland to interdict enemy reinforcement activities and to destroy batteries and other strong points farther inland.

By noon, the assault on Omaha Beach was in danger of collapsing due to stronger than anticipated German resistance and the inability of the Allies to get needed armor and artillery units on the beach. In an effort to help the infantry fighting to take Omaha, some of the destroyers providing gunfire support closed near the shoreline, almost grounding themselves to fire on the Germans. Texas also closed to the shoreline; at 12:23, Texas closed to only 3,000 yd  from the water’s edge, firing her main guns with very little elevation to clear the western exit D-1, in front of Vierville. Among other things, she fired upon snipers and machine gun nests hidden in a defile just off the beach. At the conclusion of that mission, the battleship attacked an enemy anti-aircraft battery located west of Vierville.

On 7 June, the battleship received word that the Ranger battalion at Pointe Du Hoc was still isolated from the rest of the invasion force with low ammunition and mounting casualties; in response, Texas obtained and filled two LCVPs  with provisions for the Rangers. Upon their return, the LCVPs brought thirty-five wounded Rangers to Texas for treatment of which one died on the operating table. Along with the Rangers, a deceased Coast Guard sailor and twenty-seven prisoners (twenty Germans, four Italians, and three French) were brought to the ship. The prisoners were fed, segregated, and not formally interrogated aboard Texas, due to the ship bombarding targets or standing by to bombard, before being loaded aboard a LST for transfer to England. Later in the day, her main battery rained shells on the enemy-held towns of Formigny and Trévières to break up German troop concentrations. That evening, she bombarded a German mortar battery that had been shelling the beach. Not long after midnight, German planes attacked the ships offshore, and one of them swooped in low on Texas’s starboard quarter. Her anti-aircraft batteries opened up immediately but failed to hit the intruder. On the morning of 8 June, her guns fired on Isigny, then on a shore battery, and finally on Trévières once more.

After that, she retired to Plymouth to rearm, returning to the French coast on 11 June. From then until 15 June, she supported the army in its advance inland. By 15 June, the troops had advanced to the edge of Texas’s gun range; her last fire support mission was so far inland that to get the needed range, the starboard torpedo blister was flooded with water to provide a list of two degrees which gave the guns enough elevation to complete the fire mission. With combat operations beyond the range of her guns on 16 June, Texas left Normandy for England on 18 June.

 Battle of Cherbourg

On the morning of 25 June Texas, in company with Arkansas, Nevada, four cruisers and eleven destroyers, closed in on the vital port of Cherbourg to suppress the fortifications and batteries surrounding the town while the US Army’s VII Corps attacked the city from the rear. While enroute to Cherbourg, the bombardment plan was changed and Task Group 129.2 , built around Arkansas and Texas, was ordered to move six miles to the east of Cherbourg and engage the guns of Battery Hamburg, a large shore battery composed of four 9.4 in guns. At 12:08, Arkansas was the first to fire at the German positions, while the German gunners waited for Arkansas and Texas to be well in range to return fire. At 12:33, Texas was straddled by three German shells; five minutes later Texas returned fire with a continuous stream of two-gun salvos. The battleship continued her firing runs in spite of shell geysers blossoming about her and difficulty spotting the targets because of smoke; however, the enemy gunners were just as stubborn and skilled. At 13:16, a German 9.4 in shell skidded across the top of her Conning Tower, sheared the top of the fire control periscope off (the periscope remains fell back into the Conning Tower and wounded the gunnery officer and three others), hit the main support column of the Navigation Bridge and exploded. The explosion caused the deck of the Pilot House above to be blown upwards approximately 4 ft , wrecked the interior of the Pilot House, and wounded seven. Of the eleven total casualties from the German shell hit, only one man succumbed to his wounds — the helmsman on duty, Christen Christensen. Texas’s commanding officer, Captain Baker, miraculously escaped unhurt and quickly had the bridge cleared. The warship herself continued to deliver her 14 in  shells in two-gun salvos and, in spite of damage and casualties, scored a direct hit that penetrated one of the heavily reinforced gun emplacements to destroy the gun inside at 13:35.

At 14:47, an unexploded 9.4 in shell was reported. The shell crashed through the port bow directly below the Wardroom and entered the stateroom of Warrant Officer M.A. Clark, but failed to explode. The unexploded shell was later disarmed by a Navy bomb disposal officer in Portsmouth and is currently displayed aboard the ship. Throughout the three-hour duel, the Germans straddled and near-missed Texas over sixty-five times, but she continued her mission firing 206 14 in  shells at Battery Hamburg until 15:01 when, upon orders to that effect, she retired.

 Operation Dragoon

After Texas underwent repairs at Plymouth from damage sustained at Cherbourg, she then drilled in preparation for the invasion of southern France. On 16 July, she departed Belfast Lough and headed for the Mediterranean. After stops at Gibraltar and Oran, Algeria, the battleship arrived in Taranto, Italy on 27 July. Departing Taranto on 11 August, Texas rendezvoused with three French destroyers off Bizerte, Tunisia, and set a course for the French Riviera. She arrived off Saint-Tropez during the night of 14 August and was joined early the next morning by battleship Nevada and cruiser Philadelphia At 04:44 on 15 August, she moved into position for the pre-landing bombardment and, at 0651, opened up on her first target, a battery of five 5.9 in guns. The beaches had been fortified and heavy resistance was expected. Due to very poor visibility that morning, Texas relied on her SG radar equipment to determine her position and track for both navigation and gunnery purposes. No land marks whatsoever were visible during the firing and for the greater part of the forenoon.

The heavy opposition that was expected never materialized, so the landing forces moved inland rapidly. As such, fire support from Texas’s guns was no longer required, so she departed the southern coast of France on the early morning of 17 August. After a stop at Palermo, Sicily, she left the Mediterranean and headed for New York where she arrived on 14 September 1944.

 Operations Detachment and Iceberg

At New York, Texas underwent a 36-day repair period during which the barrels on her main battery were replaced. After a brief refresher cruise, she departed Maine in November and set a course, via the Panama Canal, for the Pacific. She made a stop at Long Beach, California, and then continued on to Oahu. She spent Christmas at Pearl Harbor and then conducted maneuvers in the Hawaiian Islands for about a month at the end of which she steamed to Ulithi Atoll. She departed Ulithi on 10 February 1945, stopped in the Marianas for two days’ invasion rehearsals, and then set a course for Iwo Jima. She arrived off the target on 16 February, three days before the scheduled assault. She spent those three days pounding enemy defenses on Iwo Jima in preparation for the landings. After the troops stormed ashore on 19 February, Texas switched roles and began delivering naval gunfire support and on-call fire until 21 February.

Though Iwo Jima was not declared secured until 16 March, Texas cleared the area on 7 March  and returned to Ulithi to prepare for the Okinawa operation. She departed Ulithi with TF 54, the gunfire support unit, on 21 March and arrived in the Ryukyus on the 26th. Texas did not participate in the occupation of the islands but moved in on the main objective instead, beginning the pre-landing bombardment that same day. For the next six days, she fired multiple salvos from her main guns to prepare the way for the US Army and the Marine Corps. Each evening, she retired from her bombardment position close to the Okinawan shore only to return the next day and resume her poundings. The enemy ashore, preparing for a defense-in-depth strategy as at Iwo Jima, made no answer. Only air units provided a response, as several kamikaze raids were sent to harass the bombardment group. Texas escaped damage during those small attacks. On 1 April, after six days of aerial and naval bombardment, the ground troops went ashore, and for almost two months, Texas remained in Okinawan waters providing gunfire support for the troops and fending off the enemy aerial assault. In performing the latter mission, she claimed one kamikaze kill on her own and claimed three assists. On 14 May the ship departed Okinawa for the Philippines.

 

 End of the War

 

On 17 May, Texas arrived at Leyte in the Philippines and remained there until after the Japanese capitulation on 15 August. She returned to Okinawa toward the end of August and stayed in the Ryukyus until 23 September. On that day, she set a course for the United States with homeward bound troops embarked as part of the ongoing Operation Magic Carpet. The battleship delivered her passengers to San Pedro, California on 15 October, and celebrated Navy Day there on 27 October before resuming her mission to bring American troops home. She made two round-trip voyages between California and Oahu in November and a third in late December.

 Museum Ship

On 21 January 1946, the warship departed San Pedro and steamed via the Panama Canal to Norfolk where she arrived on 13 February, and soon began preparations for inactivation. On 18 June, she was placed officially in reserve at Baltimore, Maryland. The Battleship Texas Commission was established on 17 April 1947 to care for the ship by the Texas Legislature. The $225,000 necessary to pay for the towing of the ship from Baltimore to San Jacinto was the first task of the Commission. On 17 March 1948, the ship began her journey to her new anchorage along the busy Houston Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Monument, at San Jacinto State Park, arriving on 20 April, where she was turned over to the State of Texas the next day (21 April) to serve as a permanent memorial. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 April 1948. The date of 21 April is significant in that it was the date in 1836 of the decisive Battle of San Jacinto that ended the War for Texas Independence and led to the creation of the Republic of Texas, which joined the US as a state in 1845. Texas was the first battleship memorial museum in the US. When the battleship was presented to the State of Texas, she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy.

The funding produced by the Battleship Texas Commission was not up to the task of maintaining the ship. Consequently, years of neglect resulted in cracks and gaps in coated surfaces, water intrusion, and steel deterioration. Paint in interior spaces began to crack, then flake, exposing metal surfaces underneath, which began to rust. At the same time, pipes open to the sea ultimately failed, flooding various voids and bunkers. By 1968, the wooden main deck of the ship was so rotted that rainwater was leaking through the deck into the interior of the ship and pooling in various compartments. The Commission found that replacing the decayed deck timbers was prohibitively expensive. The solution at the time was to remove the wooden deck and replace it with concrete. The concrete eventually cracked, and again, rainwater began to leak through the main deck into spaces below. In 1971, three local charitable institutions, the Brown Foundation, the Moody Foundation, and the Houston Endowment, together contributed $50,000 to the ship to enable the Commission to sandblast and paint the hull. By this time, newspaper articles reported that Texas was “under attack” from neglect and insufficient funding. Nevertheless, Texas was designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1975, and a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1976.

By 1983, concerns with the leadership of the Battleship Texas Commission led to the decision by the State Legislature to turn over control of the ship to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department . The legislature abolished the commission effective 31 August 1983, and TPWD assumed operational control the next day. One of the first actions by TPWD was to hire a firm of naval architects to survey the ship in order to assess the deterioration and make recommendations as to what actions should be taken to preserve the ship. The survey revealed that the ship’s watertight integrity was badly compromised, the hull was open to the sea in many places, and many compartments were full of standing rain water. The architects determined that the ship needed to go to dry dock for major repairs to the hull and to keep rain water from coming through the porous concrete deck. As part of this plan, serious consideration was given to protecting sensitive fabrics and restoring the interior of the ship. After a five-year-long fund-raising campaign, $15 million was collected to dry dock the ship and complete necessary repairs.

Finally, on 13 December 1988, Texas was pulled from her berth with great difficulty over the course of six hours by six large tugboats to begin a 56 mi trek from her berth to Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas. Once under tow in the Houston Ship Channel she started taking on water, with a serious breach just forward of the engine rooms. The crew had three 4 in  pumps and two 2 in  pumps in continuous service to combat the flooding. During the nine plus hour transit, the ship’s draft increased 18 in  to 20 in  in the stern. Texas entered the yard’s floating drydock at approximately 10:30 pm on 13 December, at high tide with only 6 in  to spare between her hull and the blocks she would sit on. She underwent a 14 month refit that sought to restore the ship to her 1945 condition. While under refit, yard workers sand-blasted paint from not only the hull but also the superstructure of the ship and replaced many tons of rusted metal from the hull. Inside the ship, welders and fabricators replaced weakened structural beams and numerous rusted-out deck plates. Topside, workers removed the concrete from the main deck and made repairs. (A new pinewood deck would be installed in Greens Bayou ). In total, more than 375,000 lb  of steel (amounting to about 15% of the ship’s hull) was replaced and more than 40,000 rivets were seal-welded on the underwater hull. On 24 February 1990, tugboats moved the Texas from dry dock to a repair facility on Green’s Bayou for further repairs. It was here that the wood deck was installed and four of the ten mounts of quad 40 mm guns were installed. On 26 July, the ship was returned to her berth at San Jacinto where the final six mounts of 40 mm guns were installed. Repairs complete, the ship officially reopened to the public on 8 September 1990. Since returning to her slip at San Jacinto, members of the ship’s staff and volunteers have moved forward with restoring the interior spaces.

On 6 November 2007, Texas voters approved $25 million in funds to dry-berth the ship to prevent further deterioration from the corrosive waters of the ship channel. This solution will permanently cradle the ship in a dry berth at her current location. Accordingly, the depth of the current slip will be increased to 38 ft  below sea level before driving over 1,000 concrete piles into the bottom soil to support a 5 ft thick 108,800 sq ft concrete foundation. A cradle of 1,500 ft of concrete pylon beams and cribbing will rest upon this foundation and support the ship. This entire structure will be enclosed by a 1,680 ft long cofferdam with a concrete sidewalk and viewing platform on the top, all of which is projected to be completed by the centennial of the construction of the ship in 2011. When complete, Texas will be the first ship of her size to be permanently dry-docked.

Texas was the first and will be the oldest of an eventual total of eight US battleships that have become floating museums; the other battleships honored in this way are Massachusetts, Alabama, North Carolina, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

 Media

Texas has appeared in several films since her retirement. Her cinema debut was in the 1966 Steve McQueen film The Sand Pebbles. In the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, Texas stood in for the battleship West Virginia in scenes depicting Cuba Gooding, Jr. as native-Texan Doris Miller. Some of the ship’s interiors were also used to portray the interior of the aircraft carrier Hornet later in the film. Texas also appears as herself in the 2006 films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima; in both movies the ship is depicted shelling Iwo Jima in preparation for the Marines’ amphibious assault.

 

 

USS Texas

 Career (US) 

 Name: USS Texas

 Namesake: The State of Texas

 Ordered: 24 June 1910

 Awarded: 17 December 1910

 Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company

 Cost: $5,830,000 (excluding armor and armament)

 Laid down: 17 April 1911

 Launched: 18 May 1912

 Sponsored by: Miss Claudia Lyon

 Completed: 12 March 1914

 Commissioned: 12 March 1914

 Decommissioned: 21 April 1948

 Struck: 30 April 1948

 Honors and awards:

 Combat Action Ribbon, Mexican Service Medal, World War I Victory Medal, American Defense Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (w/ 2 battle stars), European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (w/3 battle stars), World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal

 Fate: Museum ship

 General characteristics

 Class and type: New York-class battleship

 Displacement: 27,000 long tons (27,000 t)

Length: 573 ft

Beam: 95 ft 3 in 

Draft: 27 ft 10.5 in (normal) 29 ft 3.25 in (full)

Propulsion: 14 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 8 superheated, 295 PSI

Speed: 21 kn 

Complement: 954 officers and men

Sensors and processing systems: RADAR CXZ from December 1938; 1941CXAM-1[7] SC-1 (foremast) SG (foremast and mainmast); SK (mainmast)

Armament: 10 × 14 in /45 cal guns (5×2)

21 × 5 in /51 cal guns

4 × 3-pounder  guns

4 × 21 in  submerged torpedo tubes

 

Armor: Belt: 10 to 12 in  (amidships); 6 in  (aft)

Bulkheads: 10 in  and 11 in ; 9 in  (lower belt aft)

Barbettes: 5 to 12 in 

Turrets: 14 in  (face); 4 in  (top); 8 in  – 9 in  (sides); 8 in  (rear);

Decks: 1.5 to 3 in

Here Comes the General

May 6, 2010

The M3 Stuart, formally Light Tank M3, was an American light tank of World War II. It was used by British and Commonwealth forces prior to the entry of the USA into the war, and thereafter by US and Allied forces until the end of the war. The name General Stuart or Stuart given by the British comes from the American Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart and was used for both the M3 and the derivative M5 Light Tank; in British service it also had the unofficial nickname of Honey (named when a tank driver remarked “She’s a honey”). To the United States Army the tanks were officially known only as “Light Tank M3” and “Light Tank M5”.

Development

Observing events in Europe, American tank designers realized that the Light Tank M2 was becoming obsolete and set about improving it. The upgraded design, with thicker armor, modified suspension and new gun recoil system was called “Light Tank M3”. Production of the vehicle started in March 1941 and continued until October 1943. Like its direct predecessor, the M2A4, the M3 was armed with a 37 mm M5 gun and five .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns: coaxial with the gun, on top of the turret in an M20 AA mount, in a ball mount in right bow, in the right and left hull sponsons.

To relieve the demand for the radial aero-engines used in the M3, a new version was developed using twin Cadillac V-8 automobile engines. The new model (initially called M4 but redesignated M5 to avoid confusion with the M4 Sherman) also featured a redesigned hull with sloped glacis plate and driver’s hatches moved to the top. Although the main criticism from the units using it was that the Stuarts lacked firepower, the improved M5 series kept the same 37 mm gun. The M5 gradually replaced the M3 in production from 1942 and was in turn succeeded by the Light Tank M24 in 1944.


Combat history

The British Army was the first to use the Light Tank M3 as the “General Stuart” in combat. In November 1941, some 170 Stuarts took part in Operation Crusader during the North Africa Campaign, with poor results. Although the high losses suffered by Stuart-equipped units during the operation had more to do with better tactics and training of the Afrika Korps than the apparent superiority of German armoured fighting vehicles used in the North African, the operation revealed that the M3 had several technical faults. Mentioned in the British complaints were the 37 mm M5 gun and poor internal layout. The two-man turret crew was a significant weakness, and some British units tried to fight with three-man turret crews. The Stuart also had a limited range, which was a severe problem in the highly mobile desert warfare as units often outpaced their supplies and were stranded when they ran out of fuel. On the positive side, crews liked its high speed and mechanical reliability. The high speed[citation needed] and high reliability distinguished the Stuart from cruiser tanks of the period, in particular the Crusader, which composed a large portion of the British tank force in Africa up until 1942.From the summer of 1942, when enough US medium tanks had been received, the British usually kept Stuarts out of tank-to-tank combat, using them primarily for reconnaissance. The turret was removed from some examples to save weight and improve speed and range. These became known as “Stuart Recce”. Some others were converted to armored personnel carriers and were known as “Stuart Kangaroo”, and some were converted command vehicles and known as “Stuart Command”. M3s, M3A3s, and M5s continued in British service until the end of the war, but British units had a smaller proportion of these light tanks than US units.The other major Lend-Lease recipient of the M3, the Soviet Union, was even less happy with the tank, considering it undergunned, underarmored, likely to catch fire, and too sensitive to fuel quality. The narrow tracks were highly unsuited to operation in winter conditions, as they resulted in high ground pressures under which the tank sank into the snow. Further, the M3’s radial aircraft engine required high-octane fuel, which complicated Soviet logistics as most of their tanks used diesel. However, the M3 was superior to early-war Soviet light tanks such as the T-60, which were often underpowered and possessed even lighter armament than the Stuart. In 1943, the Red Army tried out the M5 and decided that the upgraded design was not much better than the M3. Being less desperate than in 1941, the Soviets turned down an American offer to supply the M5. M3s continued in Red Army service at least until 1944.

In US Army service, the M3 first saw combat in the Philippines. Two battalions, comprising the Provisional Tank Group fought in the Bataan peninsula campaign. When the American army joined the North African Campaign in late 1942, Stuart units still formed a large part of its armor strength. After the disastrous Battle of the Kasserine Pass the US quickly followed the British in disbanding most of their light tank battalions and subordinating the Stuarts to medium tank battalions performing the traditional cavalry missions of scouting and screening. For the rest of the war, most US tank battalions had three companies of M4 Shermans and one company of M3s or M5/M5A1s.

In Europe, Allied light tanks had to be given cavalry and infantry fire support roles since their main cannon armament could not compete with heavier enemy AFVs. However, the Stuart was still effective in combat in the Pacific Theater, as Japanese tanks were both relatively rare and were generally much weaker than even Allied light tanks. Japanese infantrymen were poorly equipped with anti-tank weapons and tended to attack tanks using close-assault tactics. In this environment, the Stuart was only moderately more vulnerable than medium tanks. In addition, the poor terrain and roads common to the theatre were unsuitable for the much heavier M4 medium tanks, and so initially, only light armor could be deployed. Heavier M4s were eventually brought to overcome heavily entrenched positions, though the Stuart continued to serve in a combat capacity until the end of the war.

Though the Stuart was to be completely replaced by the newer M24 Chaffee, the number of M3s/M5s produced was so great (over 25,000 including the 75 mm HMC M8) that the tank remained in service until the end of the war and well after. In addition to the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union, who were the primary users, it was also used by France, China (M3A3s and, immediately post-war, M5A1s) and Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia (M3A3s and few M3A1).

After the war, some countries chose to equip their armies with cheap and reliable Stuarts. The Republic of China Army, having suffered great attrition as a result of the ensuing civil war, rebuilt their armored forces by acquiring surplus vehicles left behind in the area by the US forces, including 22 M5A1s to equip two tank companies. They would have their finest hours during the Battle of Kuningtou, for which the tank came to be known as the “Bear of Kinmen”. The M5 played a significant role in the First Kashmir War (1947) between India and Pakistan, including the battle of Zoji-la pass fought at an altitude of nearly 12,000 ft. The vehicle remained in service in several South American countries at least until 1996.During the 60s and 70s, the Portuguese Army also used some in the war in Angola, where its all terrain capability (compared to wheeled vehicles) was greatly appreciated. An unspecified number of M5A1 Light Tanks served with the 1927th Cavalry Battalion stationed at Nambuangongo, being employed mostly for convoy escort duties and limited counterinsurgency operations. Period photographs show some modifications in the basic design, namely the omission of the bow machine gun, re-installed on a pintle mount in the roof of the turret and a small searchlight fitted in front of the commander’s copula .


In the media

A heavily modified M5A1 Stuart was featured in the movie Tank Girl as the eponymous heroine’s tank.

Modified Stuarts were used in the movie Attack! as German tanks.

“The Haunted Tank” was a DC Comics feature that appeared in GI Combat starring an M3 Stuart scout tank commanded by Lieutenant Jeb Stuart, a direct descendant and namesake of the Civil War cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart. The tank was haunted by the Confederate officer, who would appear to warn his kinsman of impending danger or offer usually cryptic advice on how to handle a combat action. The original series ran from 1961 to 1987.


Light Tank M3A3 (Stuart V)

Type     Light tank

Place of origin      United States

Produced     1941–1945
Specifications

Weight      32,400 lb
Length      14.8 ft
Width      8.1 ft
Height      7.5 ft
Crew      4 (Commander, gunner, driver, co-driver)
Armor      13–51 mm
Primary
armament 37 mm M6 in M44 mount 174 rounds

Secondary
armament 3 × .30-06 Browning M1919A4 MG 7,500 rounds

Engine     Continental W-670-9A, 7 Cylinder air-cooled radial 250 hp

Power/weight     17.82 hp/tonne

Suspension     Vertical volute spring

Operational
range     74 mi
Speed     36 mph (road) 18 mph (off-road)

Note:  All of the photographs were taken on my visit to the Tank Museum in Danville, Va. in April 2006

USS North Carolina : The Showboat

May 5, 2010

USS North Carolina BB-55 “Showboat” was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of this U.S. state. She was the first new-construction U.S. battleship to enter service during World War II, participating in every major naval offensive in the Pacific theater to become the most decorated United States battleship of the war with 15 battle stars. She currently rests as a museum ship at the port of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Construction and shakedown

Fitting-out stage, 17 April 1941

She was laid down on 27 October 1937 at the New York Naval Shipyard and launched on 13 June 1940, sponsored by the young daughter of Clyde R. Hoey, Governor of North Carolina. The ship was commissioned in New York City on 9 April 1941 with Captain Olaf M. Hustvedt first in command. The first commissioned of the navy’s fast, heavily-armed battleships with 16-inch guns, North Carolina received so much attention during her fitting-out and trials that she won the enduring nickname “Showboat”.

As the first newly designed American battleship constructed in 20 years, North Carolina was built using the latest in shipbuilding technology. Constrained to 36,000  tons  standard displacement by both the Washington Naval Treaty and the London Naval Treaty, to a beam of less than 110 feet  by the locks of the Panama Canal, and to a draft of 38 feet  to enable the ship to use as many anchorages and navy yards as possible, she was a challenge to design.

To save weight, North Carolina was built using the new technique of welded construction. Her machinery arrangement is unusual in that there are four main spaces, each with two boilers and one steam turbine connected to one of the four propeller shafts. This arrangement served to reduce the number of openings in watertight bulkheads and conserve space to be protected by armor. The long sweeping flush deck of North Carolina and her streamlined structure made her far more graceful than earlier battleships. Her large tower forward, tall uncluttered stacks, and clean superstructure and hull were a sharp break from the elaborate bridgework, heavy tripod masts, and casemated secondary batteries which characterized her predecessors. North Carolina was one of fourteen ships to receive the early RCA CXAM-1 RADAR.


Service in World War II

North Carolina completed her shakedown in the Caribbean prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Early in 1942, North Carolina was scheduled to head to Pearl Harbor. However, she remained in the Atlantic a few more months so she would be available to take on the German battleship Tirpitz, in the event that ship began to attack Atlantic convoys carrying goods from America to England. North Carolina was ordered to the Pacific in the summer of 1942.

After intensive war exercises, North Carolina departed for the Pacific theater. She was the first new battleship to arrive in the Pacific since the beginning of the war, clearing the Panama Canal on 10 June, four days after the end of the Battle of Midway. She sailed to San Pedro and San Francisco before arriving in Pearl Harbor. According to sailors there, North Carolina was “the most beautiful thing they had ever seen”, and her arrival in Hawaii greatly increased the morale of the Pacific Fleet. North Carolina departed Pearl Harbor on 15 July with the carrier Enterprise, heavy cruiser Portland, light cruiser Atlanta and eight screening destroyers, bound for operations in the South Pacific.

North Carolina joined the long island-hopping campaign against the Japanese by landing Marines on Guadalcanal and Tulagi 7 August 1942, beginning the Guadalcanal campaign. She was the only battleship in this naval contingent, accompanied by the carriers Saratoga, Enterprise, and Wasp, along with their cruisers and other escorts. After screening Enterprise in the Air Support Force for the invasion, North Carolina guarded the carrier during operations protecting supply and communication lines southeast of the Solomons. Enemy carriers were located on 24 August, and that engagement became known as the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. The Americans struck first, sinking carrier Ryūjō; Japanese retaliation came as dive and torpedo bombers, covered by fighters, roared in on Enterprise and North Carolina. In an eight-minute action, North Carolina shot down between seven and fourteen enemy aircraft, her gunners remaining at their guns despite the jarring detonations of seven near misses. One man was killed by a strafer, but the ship was undamaged. Her sheer volume of anti-aircraft fire was such as to lead Enterprise to query, “Are you afire?” The protection North Carolina could offer Enterprise was limited as the speedier carrier drew ahead of her. Enterprise took three direct hits while her aircraft severely damaged seaplane carrier Chitose and hit other Japanese ships. Since the Japanese lost about 100 aircraft in this action, the United States won control of the air and averted a threatened Japanese reinforcement of Guadalcanal.

USS North Carolina during Marshall Islands Campaign, 25 January 1944

North Carolina now gave her strength to protect Saratoga. Twice during the following weeks of support to Marines ashore on Guadalcanal, North Carolina was attacked by Japanese submarines. On 6 September, she maneuvered successfully, dodging a torpedo which passed 300 yd  off the port beam. Nine days later, on 15 September, sailing with Wasp and Hornet, North Carolina took a torpedo portside, 20 ft  below her waterline, and six of her men were killed. This torpedo originated from I-19, and other torpedoes in the same salvo sank Wasp. Skillful damage control by the crew of North Carolina and the excellence of her construction prevented disaster; a 5.6° list was righted in as many minutes, and she maintained her station in a formation at 26 kn.

After temporary repairs in New Caledonia, the ship proceeded to Pearl Harbor to be dry docked for a month for repairs to her hull and to receive more antiaircraft armament. Following repairs, she returned to action, screening Enterprise and Saratoga and covering supply and troop movements in the Solomons for much of the next year. She was at Pearl Harbor in March and April 1943 to receive advanced fire control and radar gear, and again in September, to prepare for the Gilbert Islands operation.

With Enterprise, in the Northern Covering Group, North Carolina sortied from Pearl Harbor on 10 November for the assault on Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama. Air strikes began on 19 November, and for ten days mighty air blows were struck to aid marines ashore engaged in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War. Supporting the Gilberts campaign and preparing the assault on the Marshalls, North Carolina’s highly accurate big guns bombarded Nauru on 8 December, destroying air facilities, beach defense revetments, and radio installations. Later that month, she protected Bunker Hill in strikes against shipping and airfields at Kavieng, New Ireland and in January 1944 joined the Task Force 58 (TF 58), Rear Admiral Marc Mitscher in command, at Funafuti, Ellice Islands.

During the assault and capture of the Marshall Islands, North Carolina illustrated the classic battleship functions of World War II. She screened carriers from air attack in pre-invasion strikes as well as during close air support of troops ashore, beginning with the initial strikes on Kwajalein 29 January. She fired on targets at Namur and Roi, where she sank a cargo ship in the lagoon.[19]

The battlewagon then protected carriers in the massive air strike on Truk, the Japanese fleet base in the Carolines, where 39 large ships were left sunk, burning, or uselessly beached, and 211 planes were destroyed, another 104 severely damaged.[20] Next she fought off an air attack against the flattops near the Marianas 21 February splashing an enemy plane, and the next day again guarded the carriers in air strikes on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam.

During much of this period she was flagship for Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Willis A. Lee, Jr., Commander Battleships Pacific.

With Majuro as her base, North Carolina joined in the attacks on Palau and Woleai on 31 March–1 April, shooting down another enemy plane during the approach phase. On Woleai, 150 enemy aircraft were destroyed along with ground installations. Support for the capture of the Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) area of New Guinea followed (13–24 April); then another major raid on Truk (29–30 April), during which North Carolina splashed yet another enemy aircraft. At Truk, North Carolina’s planes were catapulted to rescue an American aviator downed off the reef. After one plane had turned over on landing and the other, having rescued all the airmen, had been unable to take off with so much weight, Tang saved all involved. The next day, North Carolina destroyed coastal defense guns, antiaircraft batteries, and airfields at Ponape. The battleship then sailed to repair her rudder at Pearl Harbor.

Returning to Majuro, North Carolina sortied with the Enterprise’s carrier group on 6 June (D-Day in Europe) for the Marianas. During the assault on Saipan, North Carolina not only gave her usual protection to the carriers, but starred in bombardments on the west coast of Saipan covering minesweeping operations, and blasted the harbor at Tanapag, sinking several small craft and destroying enemy ammunition, fuel, and supply dumps. At dusk on invasion day, 15 June, the battleship downed one of the only two Japanese aircraft able to penetrate the combat air patrol.

On 18 June, North Carolina cleared the islands with the carriers to confront the Japanese 1st Mobile Fleet, tracked by submarines and aircraft for the previous four days. Next day began the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and she took station in the battle line that fanned out from the carriers. American aircraft succeeded in downing most of the Japanese raiders before they reached the American ships, and North Carolina shot down two of the few which got through.

On that day and the next American, air and submarine attacks, with the fierce antiaircraft fire of such ships as North Carolina, virtually ended any future threat from Japanese naval aviation: three carriers were sunk, two tankers damaged so badly they were scuttled, and all but 36 of the 430 planes with which the Japanese had begun the battle were destroyed. The loss of trained aviators was irreparable, as was the loss of skilled aviation maintenance men in the carriers. Not one American ship was lost, and only a handful of American planes failed to return to their carriers.

After supporting air operations in the Marianas for another two weeks, North Carolina sailed for overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard. She rejoined the carriers off Ulithi on 7 November as a furious typhoon, Typhoon Cobra, struck the group. The ships fought through the storm and carried out air strikes against western Leyte, Luzon, and the Visayas to support the struggle for Leyte. During similar strikes later in the month, North Carolina fought off her first kamikaze attack.

As the pace of operations in the Philippines intensified, North Carolina guarded carriers while their planes kept the Japanese aircraft on Luzon airfields from interfering with the invasion convoys which assaulted Mindoro on 15 December. Three days later the task force again sailed through a violent typhoon, which capsized several destroyers. With Ulithi now her base, North Carolina screened wide-ranging carrier strikes on Formosa, the coast of Indo-China and China, and the Ryūkyūs in January, and similarly supported strikes on Honshū the next month. Hundreds of enemy aircraft were destroyed which might otherwise have resisted the assault on Iwo Jima, where North Carolina bombarded and provided call fire for the assaulting Marines through 22 February.


Strikes on targets in the Japanese home islands laid the ground-work for the Okinawa assault, in which North Carolina played her dual role, of bombardment and carrier screening. Here, on 6 April, she downed three kamikazes, but took a 5 in hit from a friendly ship during the melee of anti-aircraft fire. Three men were killed and 44 wounded. Next day came the last desperate sortie of the Japanese Fleet, as Yamato, the largest battleship in the world, came south with her attendants. Yamato, as well as a cruiser and a destroyer, were sunk, three other destroyers were damaged so badly that they were scuttled, and the remaining four destroyers returned to their fleet base at Sasebo badly damaged. On the same day, North Carolina splashed an enemy plane, and she shot down two more 17 April.

After overhaul at Pearl Harbor, North Carolina rejoined the carriers for a month of air strikes and naval bombardment on the Japanese home islands. Along with guarding the carriers, North Carolina fired on major industrial plants near Tokyo, and her scout plane pilots performed a daring rescue of a downed carrier pilot under heavy fire in Tokyo Bay.

North Carolina sent both sailors and members of her Marine Detachment ashore for preliminary occupation duty in Japan immediately at the close of the war, and patrolled off the coast until anchoring in Tokyo Bay on 5 September to re-embark her men. Carrying passengers from Okinawa, North Carolina sailed for home, reaching the Panama Canal on 8 October. She anchored at Boston 17 October, and after overhaul at New York exercised in New England waters and carried United States Naval Academy midshipmen for a summer training cruise in the Caribbean.


Decommissioning and battleship memorial

After inactivation, she was decommissioned at New York on 27 June 1947. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1960, North Carolina was transferred to the people of North Carolina on 6 September 1961. She was purchased from the U.S. Navy for $330,000 raised by the efforts of North Carolinian school children who saved their spare change and lunch money for the “Save Our Ship” (SOS) campaign. In 1961, a fleet of tugboats was used to maneuver the 728 ft  ship through an area of the river 500 ft  wide. During this move the ship struck the restaurant “Fergus’ Ark”, near Princess Street. The river-based restaurant was damaged severely and ceased operation. On 29 April 1962, she was dedicated at Wilmington, North Carolina as a memorial to North Carolinians of all services killed in World War II and may be visited to this day.This battleship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Visitors to the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial can tour the main deck of the ship, many interior rooms, and some of the gun turrets. Visitors can also view one of the nine surviving OS2U Kingfisher aircraft in the world, located on the stern of the ship. Various events are held at the memorial including the annual Fourth of July fireworks display from the adjacent battleship park and spaces may be rented for special events. A Roll of Honor in the Wardroom lists the names of North Carolinians who gave their lives in service in all the branches of the military during World War II. The site is accessible by car or a short water taxi ride originating from downtown Wilmington and also features a gift shop, visitors center and picnic area.

The memorial is administered by North Carolina Battleship Commission which was established by statutes of the State of North Carolina in 1960. The memorial relies upon its own revenues as well as donations and does not receive any tax revenues.

In 1999, a reunion was held on the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. While standing on the signal bridge, the site of the friendly fire strike during the Okinawa assault of 6 April, former PFC Marine Gunner Richard R. Fox recalled the incident, describing to his daughters and granddaughters how he helped carry a severely injured sailor down to the sickbay. Fox had never been able to find out whether the other man had survived. During his story, Fox was approached by the fellow North Carolina veteran Richard W. Reed, who had overheard the story and interrupted it to identify himself as the injured sailor and offer his thanks. Neither man had known the other’s identity for over a half-century.

Recent projects undertaken to maintain the battleship include the replacement of the teak deck. Following a visit by officials from Myanmar, she received the most generous donation in her history: the gift of two tractor-trailer loads of the highest quality teak decking in the world, valued at approximately one quarter million dollars, and a very substantial discount on another eight tractor-trailer loads of the precious wood, valued at another quarter million dollars, to permit the entire re-decking of the ship’s more than one acre of deck.

Several near-term restoration projects are planned which will not require closure of the memorial. The next major restoration project for North Carolina is a refit of her hull. This may require the ship to leave Wilmington for several months, and she might be towed to the nearest suitable drydock in Norfolk, Virginia. Towing and drydocking are expected to take place no earlier than 2012.


Career (US)

Name:             USS North Carolina (BB-55)
Namesake:     North Carolina
Ordered:     1 August 1937
Builder:     New York Naval Shipyard
Cost:             $76,885,750
Laid down:     27 October 1937
Launched:     13 June 1940
Sponsored by:     Isabel Hoey
Commissioned:     9 April 1941
Decommissioned: 27 June 1947
Struck:     1 June 1960
Nickname:     Showboat
Honors and
awards:

Silver-service-star

Bronze-service-star

15 Battle Stars

*  American Defense Service Medal
*  American Campaign Medal
*  Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
*  Philippine Independence Medal
*  Philippine Liberation Medal
*  Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
*  World War II Victory Medal
*  Navy Occupation Medal

The Battle

April 22, 2010

This was my final graduation demo from the School of Communication Arts. It began as a storyboard idea of a one on one tank engagement in World War II between a US Sherman tank and a German Panther tank. Through time constraints and fluid ideas, it evolved into what you see here. The Sherman tank was modeled using Alias Maya 4. The texture mapping was referenced from various tech drawings and pictures. The P-51 aircraft were modeled using my own creative interpretation of what a P-51D would look like. I did use the skinning and mapping to reflect actual aircraft paint schemes. Some of the skills I learned on the fly were the movement of the tank tread and the particle smoke and explosions seen in the reel. These were self taught and within the confines of the time limit due to the instructor not knowing how to give me the proper technique. My other pride and joy was the USMC AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter. This was modeled only using photographs and the skinning was my own design take on it. The software used was Alias Maya, Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, and SoundForge.