This silent film, shot circa 1930, contains footage of aircraft squadrons from the first aircraft carriers of the United States Navy: USS Langley (CV-1), USS Lexington (CV-2), and USS Saratoga (CV-3).
Archive for the 'Aircraft' Category
While on a test flight in a British Sopwith Camel on 24 September 1918, Lieutenant Junior Grade David S. Ingalls sighted a German two-seat Rumpler over Nieuport, Belgium. In company with another Camel he aggressively dove in and scored his fifth aerial victory in six weeks to become the Navy’s first ace.
Born to a life of privilege in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1899, Ingalls had matriculated at Yale University when WWI erupted. As a young man he enjoyed tinkering with aircraft, and enlisted as a machinist mate second class as a member of the First Yale Unit, a group of aviation pioneers, just before the United States entered the war.
Ingalls qualified as a Naval Aviator, commissioned, and exchanged with the Marines and the British to fight the Germans along the Western Front, where he shot down four German planes and at least one balloon to become the Navy’s first ace. Ingalls received the Distinguished Service Medal, the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Legion of Honor.
“He is one of the finest men” the British subsequently evaluated his service, “[No. 213] Squadron ever had.” They further noted that he was an “Excellent officer…exceptionally good pilot…bold and aggressive…made enviable record…” After WWI Ingalls completed his education at Yale and Harvard and practiced law. He served during WWII, returned to law and became involved in politics following that conflict. The intrepid pilot retired to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with his wife Louise, where he died in 1985.
On September 2, 1944 Lieutenant Junior Grade George Herbert Walker Bush, then a pilot with Torpedo Squadron Fifty-One (VT-51 ) assigned to the USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) , flew a bombing mission against a Japanese radio station on Chichi Jima. Despite his TBM Avenger being struck by heavy anti-aircraft fire before reaching the target, Lt.(jg) Bush pressed onward to deliver his payload of four 500-lb. bombs. This dedication to the completion of his mission earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Shortly thereafter, clouds of smoke enveloped the cockpit and Bush evacuated the aircraft 1,500 feet above the ocean. Radioman Second Class John Delaney and gunner Lieutenant Junior Grade William White were not so fortunate. One of them died when his parachute failed to open and the other went down with the aircraft. Lieutenant Doug West, an Avenger pilot from VT-51, strafed a Japanese boat that attempted to capture Bush as he as paddled his inflatable life raft out to sea.
Fighter planes in the area then transmitted his position to the submarine Finback (SS-230) patrolling nearby waters to rescue downed aviators. A few hours later the submarine sighted him, but being plucked from the ocean did not completely put an end to the danger. Bush, along with four other pilots, stayed with the submarine for the next thirty days, the remainder of her patrol. During this time period, Finback sank two small freighters and endured attacks by bombs and depth charges. The pilots also stood watch searching for enemy planes and vessels.
After the submarine disembarked the aviators at Midway, Bush was taken to Hawaii for a period of rest and relaxation. However, concerned about the fate of his crew, Bush boarded a plane to Guam and made his way back to San Jacinto.
Today is the 85th anniversary of the day in 1925 when the first intended flight from California to Hawaii stopped being a flight and became a sea voyage. CDR John Rodgers and a crew of four left San Pedro on 31 August but developed fuel problems and landed their PN-9 seaplane on the water. While Navy ships searched for the plane, Rodgers and his crew rigged a sail from the aircraft’s wing fabric and sailed for nine days to within fifteen miles of Kauai before being met by the submarine R-4, which towed the airplane into port. CDR Rodgers was killed the next year in a plane crash.
Heroism is not confined to the battlefield, and opportunities to demonstrate it occur as naval aviators train to be ready for war in time of peace.
On 31 August 1939, the day before war would begin in Europe that would eventually become a global conflict, it was business as usual for naval aviators at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
That morning, 27-year old ENS James H. Eoff, A-V(N), USNR, of Bombing Squadron Four, attached to the Ranger (CV-4) Air Group, took off in a Vought SB2U-1 [Vindicator] from NAS Hampton Roads, on what was slated to be a routine navigation and radio training flight. Radioman 3d Class Joseph T. George rode in the after cockpit as his passenger.
At about 1022, a witness on the ground heard the sound of an engine cutting out. Eoff, apparently realizing that the plane was in extremis and the terrain below would not permit a forced landing, ordered his passenger to bail out.
Tragically, Radioman 3d Class George’s parachute became fouled on a part of the plane, for he seemed to be dangling some 15 feet behind and below it. Eyewitnesses then saw the SB2U-1 sway from side to side, as if Eoff was trying to dislodge his trapped passenger. In staying at the controls, however, the young pilot sacrificed his own chance to jump clear of the plane in its terminal dive as it plunged to earth in a near-vertical attitude near Stony Creek, Virginia, and crashed, killing both men instantly.
For his courageously remaining with his doomed plane in an attempt to save his passenger’s life, ENS Eoff was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, posthumously.
This and many other videos from our archives can be viewed at the Naval History & Heritage Command’s YouTube Channel.
It was the early evening of May 6, 1937 when the German Hindenburg made its fatal descent into Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. Radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison famously wept for the humanity as the airship burst into flames and crashed to the ground. 35 passengers and one member of the ground crew were killed. Amazingly, 62 people managed to escape the fiery wreck.
The cause of the accident is still a fiercely debated topic, with competing theories blaming sabotage, static electricity, gas leaks and malfunctioning engines.
Often overlooked is the fact that the tragic crash over the Atlantic of the airship USS Akron on April 3 1933 took a bigger toll, claiming the lives of 73 of the vessel’s 76 US Navy crew members. The Hindenburg is better remembered because of the spectacular footage that captured its final moments.
Interestingly, the three survivors of the Akron were rescued by German sailors, while US sailors pulled German passengers from the wreckage of the Hindenburg.
From David F. Winkler
Naval Historical Foundation
For the ninth time since the centennial of the U.S. submarine force in 2000, the Naval Submarine League and the Naval Historical Foundation teamed to organize an evening seminar at the U.S. Navy Memorial last April 15th that focused on an aspect of undersea warfare. With the sponsorship of Northrop Grumman Marine Systems, this year’s seminar was entitled: “Ocean Surveillance During the Cold War: Sensing, Fusion, Exploitation.”
What made this annual submarine history seminar uniqueWAS that the three presenters had backgrounds other than the submarine force. Following introductory remarks by Naval Historical Foundation President Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn and former Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Captain William H.J. Manthorpe, Rear Admiral Thomas Brooks provided the audience with an overview of the Ocean Surveillance Information System (OSIS).
A former Director of Naval Intelligence, Brooks depended on multiple sensors to keep track OF Soviet naval forces. He STATED that the need for a systematic approach became apparent in the 1960s as the Soviet Navy transitioned from a coastal defense force to a blue water navy. As the Soviet ability to launch missiles tipped with nuclear warheads from submarines evolved during that decade, the need to detect, process, and disseminate reports to commanders accelerated.
It quickly became apparent that flagships of that time period did not have the capacity to assimilate the data. To support the Sixth Fleet, the Navy established Fleet Oceanographic Surveillance Intelligence Facility Rota in the late 1960s. The Navy later established four other facilities/centers to support other fleet commanders and these five OSIS nodes fed the National Oceanographic Surveillance Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland.