Aug 27

Monument of the Month: The Naval Academy Skyhawk

Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:00 AM


A4D-2 Skyhawk

One chilly December night in 1976, nearly the entire Naval Academy Cass of 1980 gathered in front of the Halsey Field House, dressed in their white works and sweats. It was the week of the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, and spirits were running high after the 38-10 trouncing the team had given the Army’s squad. They were a class with a purpose. The object of their mission: the A4D-1 Skyhawk on display by Worden Field. The Skyhawk was a high-visibility target, having been placed by the parade grounds specifically for its visibility. One midshipman produced a saw, and soon the… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 24

The Union Navy’s Stubby Gun

Monday, August 24, 2015 9:00 AM


Early in the Civil War, specially built boats mounting 13-inch mortars were active on the upper Mississippi. But numerous problems with the raft-like craft led their commander to report that their "services have not been near equal to their cost." (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)

By Spencer C. Tucker Adapted from “Armaments and Innovations,” Naval History, April 2014   The 13-inch Civil War sea mortar was a formidable weapon. But the use of this type of gun was not new; since the 17th century, high-trajectory mortar fire from special vessels known as bombs or bomb ketches had been used for shore bombardment. Heavy ordnance was more easily moved about on ships than on land, and the large sea mortars were mounted on strong beds turned on vertical pivots. Their explosive shells, fired at high angle, easily cleared the walls of forts to strike the targets… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 20

The Posterity of the Ganges

Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:00 AM


Portrait of Thomas Macdonough, who served aboard the Ganges. Courtesy Library of Congress.

It is frequently the case that a ship is given the name of an individual as a honorarium. Names such as Campbell, Fletcher, Porter, and many, many others are accepted in kind. So when individuals are given the name of a ship, suddenly we take notice that something very remarkable is afoot. Such is the case of the surname Ganges. The story of how a family came to be named after a 26-gun sloop-of-war is one that upholds the finest traditions of the U.S. Navy.

Aug 18

‘The Stern Hit the Water with a Jar’

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:53 AM


Literally a flying aircraft carrier, the USS Macon (ZRS-5) featured a hangar that accommodated four scout planes.

For the first time since 2009, undersea explorers, with support from the NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, today are investigating the secret wreck site of the U.S. Navy airship Macon (ZRS-5). Remote-controlled vehicles from Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus are mapping the site, located within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and evaluating the condition of the remains of the airship and her F9C-2 Sparrowhawk scout planes. The future of the Navy’s ambitious rigid-airship program was uncertain even before the 785-foot Macon crashed on the night of 12 February 1935. The USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) had gone down in 1925,… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 14

Landing the Planes

Friday, August 14, 2015 11:12 AM


Lieutenant Robin M. Lindsey, USS Enterprise landing-signal officer, epitomized leadership on the flight deck. (USS Enterprise CV-6 Association)

An excerpt from “‘The Big E’ Leadership Factory,” by Barrett Tillman, in the October 2015 issue of Naval History. Leadership also was evident on the Enterprise’s flight deck, never better demonstrated than during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands at the height of the Guadalcanal campaign. The ship’s landing-signal officer was Lieutenant Robin M. Lindsey, assisted by the air group LSO, Lieutenant (junior grade) James G. Daniels. Lindsey had been on board since July 1941 and learned the “paddles” trade under the tutelage of prewar LSOs. Daniels had survived Fighting Squadron Six’s debacle in the night sky over Pearl… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 13

Restoring the US/C-3 Infrared Signalling Telescope

Thursday, August 13, 2015 2:15 PM


Bottom view

In Greek Mythology, the prophet Tiresias was blinded by the gods as punishment for revealing their secrets. He begged the goddess Athena to restore his sight, but she could not. Instead, she gave him the gift of foresight, and Tiresias spent the remainder of his days spouting prophesy. Tiresias had seen too much and had paid the price for it. Such too may be the case of a battered US/C-3 infrared signalling telescope that came into this writer’s care for restoration.

Aug 10

The Dropping of the TURDSID in Vietnam

Monday, August 10, 2015 7:00 AM



Electronic warfare and surveillance are increasingly becoming topics of discussion. The nature of that type of warfare (and indeed combat itself) calls for a certain amount of creativity. To see, but not be recognized or seen oneself, begs for innovation and novel solutions to life-threatening problems. But even the most brilliant plans can be rendered moot if one builds an idea on a false assumption. Such is the nature of the ingenious yet flawed TURDSID.

Aug 6

Sailing into the Future with the United States Coast Guard

Thursday, August 6, 2015 6:57 AM


USCG Eagle Mode.

In honor of the United States Coast Guard, which turned 225 years old this week, the Naval History Blog offers a selection from a speech delivered by A. Denis Clift, Vice President for Planning and Operations at the United States Naval Institute. In 2002, the United States Coast Guard formally entered the United States Intelligence Community, building on a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, defense, and myriad other maritime operations. In this October 2000 speech, as president of the Joint Military Intelligence College, Clift told the cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, of the… Read the rest of this entry »