Thursday, August 1, 2019

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A bit of history and some tidbits



Today in Naval History

July 31

1865 The East India Squadron, later known as Asiatic Squadron, is established under Commodore Henry H. Bell, USN, to operate from Sunda Strait to Japan. The squadron consists of USS Hartford, USS Wachusett, USS Wyoming and USS Relief.

1874 USS Intrepid is commissioned, the first U.S. warship equipped with torpedoes.

1941 The Japanese government reports that the bombing of USS Tutuila (PR 4), which happens the previous day during the bombing raid on Chungking, China, is just an accident, pure and simple. USS Tutuilas motor boats were badly damaged and motor sampan is cut loose when one bomb falls eight yards astern of the vessel. There were no causalities.

1943 PBM (VP 74) and Brazilian A-28 and Catalina sink German submarine U-199 off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Small seaplane tender USS Barnegat (AVP 10) rescues the survivors.

1951 Dan A. Kimball takes office as the 50th Secretary of the Navy, serving until January 1953. His tenure is marked by the continuation of the Korean War, expansion of the Nation's defense, and technological progress in aviation, engineering and other defense-related fields.

1953 His tenure is marked by the continuation of the Korean War, expansion of the Nation's defense, and technological progress in aviation, engineering and other defense-related fields.

1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower responds to Secretary of the Navy William B. Franke's recommendation to name three SSBNs (nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarines) with these names: USS Sam Houston, USS Thomas A. Edison, and USS John Marshall. The proposed name from Secretary Franke, USS Nathan Hale, is used two years later.

2010 USS Missouri (SSN 780) is commissioned at Groton, Conn., her homeport. The seventh Virginia-class attack submarine is the fourth Navy vessel to honor the state of Missouri.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• In today’s national headlines, analysis of last night’s Democratic debate and new audio tapes of former President Ronald Reagan using racist language are trending topics.

• Several outlets are reporting that North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles Wednesday morning, the second weapons test in under a week.

• USNI News reported from aboard USS Mount Whitney showing how the command and control ship allows the Navy to control operations while at sea.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that officials from United Arab Emirates traveled to Iran to discuss maritime security in the Persian Gulf with their Iranian counterparts.

Today in History July 31


Arabs capture Thessalonica.


English novelist Daniel Defoe is made to stand in the pillory as punishment for offending the government and church with his satire The Shortest Way With Dissenters.


Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, drives the French army back to the Rhine River.


The U.S. Patent Office opens.


Belle and Sam Starr are charged with horse stealing in the Indian territory.


Former president Andrew Johnson dies at the age of 66.


Great Britain declares territories in Southern Africa up to the Congo to be within its sphere of influence.


The Trans-Siberian railroad connecting the Ural mountains with Russia's Pacific coast, is completed.


The third Battle of Ypres commences as the British attack the German lines.


Adolf Hitler's Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) doubles its strength in legislative elections.


The Soviet army takes Kovno, the capital of Lithuania.


Federation of Malaysia formally proposed.


Apollo 15 astronauts take a drive on the moon in their land rover.


An F4 tornado in Edmonton, Alberta kills 27 and causes $330 million in damages; the day is remembered as "Black Friday."


Bridge collapse at Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth, Malaysia, kills 32 and injures more than 1,600.


Bosnia-Herzegovina declares independence from Yugoslavia.


The US and the USSR sign a long-range nuclear weapons reduction pact.


NASA purposely crashes its Discovery Program's Lunar Prospector into the moon, ending the agency's mission to detect frozen water on Earth's moon.


Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to his brother Raul Castro.


The British Army's longest continual operation, Operation Banner (1969-2007), ends as British troops withdraw from Northern Ireland.


From the Coast Guard’s Birthday to a U-2 First by W. Thomas Smith Jr.


This Week in American Military History:

Aug. 1, 1943: Operation Tidal Wave -- also known as the Raid on Ploesti --

commences: 177 U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators flying 1,000-plus miles from their bases in Libya, attack the heavily defended Ploesti oil fields in Rumania.

The raid is flown against waves of counterattacking enemy planes, heavy antiaircraft fire, and at treetop level above the target area. Many of the

B-24 crews are forced to fly through thick black smoke over targets just-attacked by their comrades ahead of them, and they are caught in the bursts and shock waves of delayed-action bombs.

Damage will be heavy on the oilfields said “to be supplying 60 percent of Germany's crude oil requirements,” according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. But USAAF casualties will also be high: “Of 177 planes and

1,726 men who took off on the mission, 54 planes and 532 men failed to return.”

Five Medals of Honor will be awarded for the daring raid. Recipients

include: Col. Leon W. Johnson, Col. John R. Kane, Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker (posthumous), Maj. John L. Jerstad (posthumous), and 2nd Lt. Lloyd H.

Hughes (posthumous).

Aug. 1, 1955: The famous U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft (yes, the same type of aircraft piloted by CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers when he was shot down over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile in 1960) makes its first-ever flight above Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada.

Aug. 3, 1958: USS Nautilus -- the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine and the U.S. Navy’s sixth so-named vessel -- becomes the first “ship” to cross the North Pole. The submarine’s simple transmission is, “Nautilus 90 North.”

Aug. 4, 1790: Congress approves Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton's proposal to “build ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue,”

establishing the Revenue Cutter Service – first of the predecessor services of the modern Coast Guard. Thus today will become the officially recognized birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Aug. 5, 1864: One of the great makers of Naval tradition, Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, commanding a strike force of 14 wooden warships and a handful of ironclads, attacks and decisively defeats Confederate Naval forces under Adm. Franklin Buchanan and the Confederate forts defending Mobile Bay, Alabama. It is during this action that Farragut purportedly utters the command, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!,” or the more likely command, “Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain [Percival] Drayton, go ahead! [Lt. Commander James] Jouett, full speed!”

Aug. 6, 1945: A single American B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, flying from the island of Tinian drops the first-ever atomic bomb used in war on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

At 8:15 a.m., the bomb, codenamed Little Boy, detonates nearly 2,000 feet above the city center instantly killing between 80,000 and 140,000 people, and seriously wounding another 100,000. According to Hiroshima & Nagasaki Remembered, “The blast wave shattered windows for a distance of ten miles and was felt as far away as 37 miles. Hiroshima had disappeared under a thick, churning foam of flames and smoke. The co-pilot, Captain Robert Lewis, commented, ‘My God, what have we done?’”

In three days, Nagasaki will suffer the same fate.

Japan’s ability to wage war is finished.

In time, the bombings will be decried as cruel and excessive in terms of the lives lost; as if to suggest all war is not both cruel and excessive to the vanquished. Indeed, nuclear weapons are horrible. What is incalculable, however, is the number of American lives saved by decisively ending the war with the bombs before having to invade the Japanese mainland.

Aug. 7, 1942: Exactly eight months to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, elements of the soon-to-be-famous 1st Marine Division – under the command of Maj. Gen. Alexander Archer “Sunny Jim” Vandegrift (a future Marine Corps commandant) – begin landing on Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon islands, launching America’s first large-scale ground offensive of World War II.

Simultaneous landings take place on the nearby islets of Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo, and Florida Island. The landings are the first decisive ground actions aimed at eating away at the Japanese who have extended their lines deep into the Western Pacific and threaten Australia.

Vandegrift is destined to receive the Medal of Honor, and he will become the first Marine officer on active duty to attain four-star rank.

Aug. 7, 1964: Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which “approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”

The Vietnam War is officially on.

Aug. 7, 1782: Gen. George Washington creates two badges of distinction for enlisted soldiers and noncommissioned officers: The first is a chevron signifying three years of service (two chevrons for six years) “with bravery, fidelity, and good conduct.” The second is a medal – the Badge of Military Merit – for “any singularly meritorious action.”

According to The U.S. Army Center of Military History, the badge was the “‘figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding.’ This device was affixed to the uniform coat above the left breast and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge and to have his name and regiment inscribed in a Book of Merit. The badge specifically honored the lower ranks, where decorations were unknown in contemporary European Armies.”

Though the standards for recipients have changed, the medal exists today as the Purple Heart, and is awarded to “any member of an Armed Force who, while serving with the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded.”


Some history, beginning with the 1936 Olympics in Berlin

Thanks to Hal -

This Olympics of 1936 were held in Germany through Adolph Hitler's managing and it was to be his chance to demonstrate his Super Race to the world. He would prove this by his athletes winning the gold medals, and it would be a colossal propaganda victory. He looked around and put his very best man in charge of these Olympics, and that was Schutzstaffel Gruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich. He was the General in charge of the dreaded SS as well as the Gestapo. Second only to Himmler, third after Hitler.

As you know, it didn't all work out that way and US athlete Jesse Owens dominated the track and field events. Black as coal. Hitler was apoplectic and stormed out of the stands.

The years passed on by and Hitler had launched his purge of the Jews, Christians, gypsies and all other undesirable people, but the sheer numbers were daunting. He wanted them all dead to purge Germany and any other country they invaded, so a conference was set up in January, 1942 in

Wannsee. a suburb of Berlin. Attending were the captains of industry, the

heads of Ministries, and many of the German General Staff. Heydrich chaired the meeting. { If you want to see how this went, find the BBC movie "Conspiracy" made in 2001 starring Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich. Five Star performance, Emmy awards} Their job would be to exterminate millions of innocent people.

The British were watching all of this closely and decided that it was time to terminate the career of Reinhard Heydrich. So OPERATION ANTHROPOID was launched. British SOE, Special Operations Executive, recruited, trained and parachuted a team of seven Czechs with the mission to observe, plan, and kill Heydrich. They found him to be a regular as clockwork. He took the same route daily to work, at the very same time, and usually had the top down on his convertible staff car.

So on 27 May 1942, a woman agent Rela Fafek in position on his route tipped her hat to signal that he was coming. As he came along, Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik stepped off the curb to begin firing and the gun jammed. As the driver stopped, Heydrich unholstered his pistol. At that moment they tossed a modified British Number 73 Anti-Tank grenade under the car. It exploded and seriously wounded Heydrich as the team fled.

Heydrich died on 4 June of what his doctors termed "septicemia", or blood poisoning from the seat springs and horsehair stuffing blown into his body.

But what he actually died of was the botulinum toxin that Dr. Paul Fildes of England's Porton Down (their chemical and biological weapons lab) had put in the grenade.



thanks to Doctor Rich 
(Photo Not Security Compatible)


Thanks to Dale

The Revolt of the Admirals

In the United States, it was assumed that nuclear weapons would be widely employed in future conflicts, rendering conventional land armies and fleets at sea irrelevant.

(This article appeared earlier in 2019.)

In the wake of the mushroom clouds that blossomed over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it swiftly dawned on political and military leaders across the globe that warfare between superpowers would never again be the same. But what exactly were the implications of nuclear weapons when it came to planning military force structure?

In the United States, it was assumed that nuclear weapons would be widely employed in future conflicts, rendering conventional land armies and fleets at sea irrelevant. The newly formed Air Force particularly argued that carrier task forces and armored divisions were practically obsolete when (ostensibly) just a few air-dropped nuclear bombs could annihilate them in one fell swoop.

The Air Force touted it soon-to-be operational fleet of ten-thousand-mile-range B-36 Peacemaker nuclear bombers as the only vital war-winning weapon of the nuclear age. This logic resonated conveniently with the postwar political program mandating sharp cuts to U.S. defense spending and force structure—which the Air Force naturally argued should fall upon the Army and Navy.

The Army responded by devising “Pentomic Divisions” organized for nuclear battlefields, with weapons ranging from nuclear-armed howitzers and rocket artillery to bazooka-like Davy Crockett recoilless guns. The Navy, meanwhile, sought to find a way to integrate nuclear bombs into its carrier air wings. However, early nuclear bombs were simply too heavy for World War II-era carrier-based aircraft.

In 1945, the Navy began commissioning three larger forty-five-thousand-ton Midway-class carriers which incorporated armored flight decks for added survivability. The decks were swiftly modified to angular, effectively lengthened configuration for jet operations. Neptune P2V-C3 maritime patrol planes converted into nuclear bombers could take off from Midway-class carriers using rocket-pods but would have no way landing on the carrier deck.

Therefore, the Navy decided it needed huge supercarriers from which it could operate its own fifty-ton strategic bombers. These would displace over 40 percent more than the Midway at sixty-eight thousand tons, and measure 12 percent longer at 330-meters. In July 1948, Defense Secretary James Forrestal approved plans for five such carriers, the first named USS United States with hull number CVA-58.

The naval heavy bombers (which didn’t exist yet) were expected to have such wide wings that naval architects decided that CVA-58 would have a completely flush deck without the standard “island” superstructure carrying a radar and flight control tower. Instead, the carrier would feature side-mounted telescoping smokestacks that could be raised should smoke impeded flight operations, and a similarly retractable wheelhouse that could be extended to observe navigation and flight operations.

The ship’s air wings would include twelve to eighteen heavy bombers that would mostly remain parked on the flight deck, exposed to the elements. Four side-mounted elevators would ferry forty to fifty-four jet fighters between the hangar and flight deck to escort the bombers. Eight nuclear bombs per heavy bomber would also be stowed in the hangar. The combined ship’s company and airwing would total 5,500 personnel.

The carrier’s oddly-shaped deck included four steam catapults—two for use by bombers, and two axial “waist” catapults.

Because the ship would be effectively blind without an elevated radar and control tower, a separate cruiser was intended to serve as the carrier’s “eyes.” Nonetheless, CVA-58 still incorporated eight 5-inch guns for air defense, and dozens of rapid-fire short-range cannons.

The “Revolt of the Admirals”

Though theoretically capable of contributing to conventional strike and sea control missions, the heavy bomber-equipped CVA-58 was clearly an attempt by the Navy to duplicate the Air Force’s strategic nuclear strike capabilities.

This put giant crosshairs on the program during an era of sharp defense cuts. After all, deploying strategic bombers at sea was many times more expensive than basing them on land.

Following his reelection in November 1948, President Harry Truman replaced Forrestal—a naval aviator in World War I, and former secretary of the Navy—with Louis Johnson, who had fewer qualms about enforcing defense spending cuts.

In April 1949, just five days after CVA-58’s fifteen-ton keel was laid down in Newport News, Virginia, Johnson canceled the mega-carrier. He also began advocating dissolution of the Marine Corps, starting by transferring its aviation assets to the Air Force.

This upset the Navy bigwigs so much that Navy Secretary John Sullivan resigned, and numerous admirals began openly opposing the termination of a project they viewed as essential to validating their branch’s existence in the nuclear age.

This “Revolt of the Admirals” developed into a crisis in civil-military relations, as the Navy’s top brass defied the authority of their civilian commander-in-chief and resorted to covert methods in an attempt to influence public opinion. The Op-23 naval intelligence unit formed by Adm. Louis Denfeld secretly circulated a memo called the Worth Paper alleging that Johnson had corrupt motivations due to being a former director of Convair, manufacturer of B-36 bombers, which were also claimed to be deficient.

The bitter inter-service rivalry, and the utility of land-based bombers versus carriers, was publicly litigated in congressional hearings. The Army also piled on against the Navy, and public opinion turned against the sea-warfare branch as Op-23’s activities were revealed.

As Gen. Douglas MacArthur would later discover, Truman had no qualms about squashing military leaders that questioned his authority. His new secretary of the Navy, Francis Matthews, torpedoed the career of several admirals that spoke against the CVA-58’s termination despite an earlier promise that those testifying before Congress would be spared retaliation.

The irony of this tempest in a teacup, which resulted in the political martyrdom of many senior Navy leaders, was how misguided both sides swiftly proved to be.

In June 1950 the Korean War broke out, and the U.S. found itself desperately short of the necessary conventional land, air and sea forces. U.S. aircraft carriers and their onboard jet fighters soon bore the brunt of the initial fighting, and continued to play a major role until the end of the conflict.

And the Air Force’s vaunted B-36s? They never dropped a single bomb in anger—fortunately, as they were only intended for use in apocalyptic nuclear conflicts.

It turned out that plenty of wars were liable to be fought without resorting to weapons of mass destruction.

However, the Navy also had cause to count itself fortunate that the CVA-58 had been canceled. That’s because in just a few years the size of tactical nuclear weapons rapidly decreased, while high-thrust jet engines enabled hauling of heavier and heavier loads. By 1950, nuclear-capable AJ-1 Savage hybrid jet/turboprop bombers were operational on Midway-class carriers, starting with the USS Franklin Roosevelt.

These were soon followed by nuclear-capable capable A-3 Sky Warrior and A-5 Vigilante bombers, A-6 and A-7 attack planes, and even multirole fighters like the F-4 Phantom II. Carriers with these aircraft were far more flexible than a CVA-58 full of B-36 wannabees ever could have been. Arguably, by the 1960s the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines would amount to scarier strategic nuclear weapons than any aircraft-based delivery system.The schematics for CVA-58 nonetheless informed the Navy’s first supercarriers, named rather appropriately the Forrestal-class, laid down during the Korean War. But the heavy-bomber carrying United States remains notable as the supercarrier the Navy absolutely thought it needed—but which with literally just a couple years more hindsight it discovered it truly could do without.


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