Archive for the 'World War II' Category

Nov 19

The Measure of the Sierra Madre

Thursday, November 19, 2015 12:01 AM


An undated photo of the amphibious BRP Sierra Madre the Philippines have used as an outpost in the South China Sea.

On the 9th of May, 1997, the Philippine Navy’s dilapidated tank landing ship BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57) ran aground on a reef near the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. She was stranded — but good — and it was certain the ship could not be removed under her own power. Six days later, two Chinese frigates are said to have steamed into the area, and to have trained their guns on the stranded hulk. It was alleged that no assistance was offered by the Chinese ships. But supposing they had, their assistance would neither have been desired nor… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 16

The Ubiquitous 5-inch/38

Monday, November 16, 2015 12:01 AM


A 5-inch/38-caliber gun in a twin mount on board the USS New Jersey (BB-62) fires on a North Korean target in 1951. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Designed to fulfill the needs of battleships as well as destroyers, the 5-inch/38-caliber dual-purpose gun became one of World War II’s best regarded and most versatile naval weapons. It was the conflict’s iconic U.S. destroyer gun as well as the Navy’s workhorse on board capital ships, cruisers, and auxiliaries. Many more 5-inch/38s were made than any other World War II medium-caliber naval gun. In the 1920s, the Navy used different guns to deal with aircraft and with surface targets. U.S. battleships and some destroyers were armed with high-velocity 5-inch/51s (the second number refers the length of the barrel in multiples… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 10

Wrangling a Runaway U-Boat

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 12:01 AM


Captain Daniel Gallery (left) stands with Lieutenant (j.g.) Albert David, who received the Navy Cross for his role in the in-tact capture of U-505. (National Archives)

One of the U.S. Navy’s most celebrated feats of World War II was the 4 June 1944 capture of U-505, complete with enigma machines, codebooks, and bags of official communications. Much of the credit goes to Captain Daniel V. Gallery, commander of Task Group 22.3—a “hunter-killer” group composed of his flagship, the escort carrier Guadalcanal (CVE-60), and five destroyer escorts. After TG 22.3 sank U-515 on 9 April 1944, Gallery planned to capture the next U-boat he encountered and ordered that each of his group’s ships organize boarding parties.1 What follows is an excerpt from Captain Gallery’s account of seizing… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 9

‘It Still Takes My Breath Away’

Monday, November 9, 2015 12:01 AM


"During the war, my dad was working in southwestern South Dakota at an ordnance depot on an Army base that held a garrison of Italian prisoners of war. The Army was testing ammunition out on the prairie and storing it there. Those are my earliest memories of the military," recalled Tom Brokaw, pictured in 1944. (Courtesy of Tom Brokaw)

An Interview with Tom Brokaw     Scheduled to deliver the Third Annual Haydn Williams World War II Memorial Legacy Lecture on 10 November at the National Defense University in Washington is Tom Brokaw—certainly no stranger to the U.S. Naval Institute and Naval History magazine. Since joining NBC News in 1966, he has won every major award in broadcast journalism. The former anchor and managing editor of The NBC Nightly News met in Washington with then-Naval History Editor Fred Schultz about how and why he came to write his well-known book The Greatest Generation. Naval History: Since you’ve had no… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 6

U.S. Navy Faced Challenges Protecting America’s New Sailor in Chief

Friday, November 6, 2015 12:01 AM



The United States Navy faced a new and very different set of challenges in protecting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who loved the sea, spending more days afloat than any American president. It was not uncommon for America’s new sailor in chief and his crew of amateur sailors to take to the sea in a small sailboat, sometimes for days at a time. He would skillfully—and with a great deal of delight—evade his Navy and Secret Service guards, sailing his schooner, Amberjack II, into secluded coves and narrow reaches where Navy and Coast Guard vessels—FDR called them “our wagging tail”–could not… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 28

History Made in a Hellcat

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 12:01 AM


Decorated Warbird: The F6F Hellcat, flown by Commander David McCampbell during World War II, sits on display at the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. (U.S. NAVY)

On the morning of 24 October 1944, in a pair of Hellcat fighters, Commander David McCampbell and his wingman, Ensign Roy Rushing, scrambled from the flight deck of the USS Essex CV-9) to repel a formation of 40 inbound Japanese aircraft. Rushing had a full load of fuel, but McCampbell had been forced to take off before his tanks were full. Undetected by the enemy, the two lone Hellcat pilots were able to position themselves above and behind the Japanese. As one of the enemy fighters began lagging behind the formation, McCampbell pounced like the lion who focuses its attack… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 26

On the Edge

Monday, October 26, 2015 4:17 PM


Pictured in 1940, the tender Holland and submarine Sargo (far right) were among the U.S. Navy vessels to reach Fremantle in March 1942.

  An adapted excerpt from the new Naval Institute Press book Fremantle’s Submarines: How Allied Submarines and Western Australians Helped to Win the War in the Pacific.   It was against this backdrop of fear and anticipation that the first American submarines arrived at Fremantle. By 10 March 1942, ten U.S. submarines had reached the port, each carrying crews with their own stories of near-disaster. Among the most demoralized was Lieutenant Commander Tyrell Dwight Jacobs, commander of the USS Sargo (SS-188). Shortly after he arrived at Fremantle on 5 March, Jacobs told a senior officer, “I’ve had it. I want… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 11

The VT Fuze: The Other Secret Weapon of World War II

Friday, September 11, 2015 9:16 AM


USNI VT fuze.

As a young officer, then-Lieutenant Commander (later Admiral) W.H. P. Blandy, USN, had a keen interest in gunnery. Writing for Proceedings in 1920 (“Director Fire a Century Ago”) and 1925 (“Possible Improvements in our Gunnery Training”), LCDR Blandy understood well the history of fire control and what could be done to improve its effectiveness. Ever forward-thinking, Blandy noted elsewhere in 1925 of what a remarkable device a fuze that would detonate based on its proximity to the target would be. The key would be to find a way to trigger the shell to that its fragmentation pattern would be effective,… Read the rest of this entry »

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