Archive for the 'Naval Aviation' Category

Jun 20

A Gun to Counter the Dive Bomber

Monday, June 20, 2016 12:01 AM


A gun crew practices on a quadruple 1.1-inch mount at Dam Neck Training Center Virginia. Note the large, cumbersome magazines. (National Archives)

The quadruple 1.1-inch machine cannon, affectionately known as the “Chicago Piano,” was the first medium-range antiaircraft gun adopted by the U.S. Navy.1 Engineered and built by the Naval Gun Factory during the Great Depression, it was designed specifically to combat dive bombers. The four-barreled weapon fired a one-pound explosive shell that was fused to explode on contact with the thin doped fabric that covered the wings of the era’s biplanes. The resulting shrapnel would tear through the wing, causing loss of control. The need to provide the Fleet with a new antiaircraft gun became evident in the late 1920s in… Read the rest of this entry »

May 12

On the Digital Frontier in Bosnia

Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:58 PM


Airman First Class Michelle Leonard, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston, South Carolina, deployed to Sarajevo,  photographs the war-torn city with an early digital camera.

Working in an archive, one can sometimes make unexpected discoveries in the materials that have accumulated over the course of years. Hidden by the sheer volume of materials, or locked away in a forgotten drawer, we have heard over the years of spectacular discoveries like original compositions by Mozart, or important letters about Abraham Lincoln. And oftentimes these “discoveries” are hidden in plain sight, much like Edgar Allen Poe’s Purloined Letter. Sitting on a shelf in the Naval Institute’s Library is a remarkable set of digital images on CDs from the Bosnian War, produced by the Department of Defense’s Joint… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 11

Out of the Jaws of Victory

Monday, April 11, 2016 12:01 AM


Highly decorated for his role in gaining victory over the Japanese at Midway, Captain Miles Browning was defeated by his most implacable enemy--himself. (National Archives)

Like a character in classical tragedy, blessed by the gods with nearly every advantage, Miles Browning also possessed fatal flaws that ultimately brought him down. Endowed with striking looks, high intelligence, slide-rule brain, useful marital connections, exceptional flying ability and the patronage of America’s favorite admiral, Browning seemed perfectly poised to achieve high command as aviation emerged at the cutting edge of naval warfare. And yet, not until his retirement was it deemed safe to raise Browning to flag rank. Historian Samuel E. Morison, who knew him, called Browning “one of the most irascible officers ever to earn a fourth… Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 21

The God of the Sea’s Namesake

Monday, December 21, 2015 12:01 PM


The P-2E Neptune would later see service with the Argentine navy.

The Lockheed Neptune was the first U.S. aircraft designed from the outset for the land-based maritime patrol role, and it was the first U.S. Navy aircraft that could carry a nuclear weapon. All previous U.S. land-based maritime patrol aircraft were adapted from bomber or transport designs. Among them were Lockheed’s highly successful PBO-1 Hudson and PV-series Harpoon and Ventura aircraft. Those planes— flown by Navy and Marine Corps pilots—made major contributions to Allied victory in the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II. The Neptune was a natural progression from the twin-engine PV series.

Dec 4

Impact of Japanese Source Materials on “No One Avoided Danger”: NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attacks of 7 December 1941

Friday, December 4, 2015 12:01 AM



Upon the publication of “No One Avoided Danger”: NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attacks of 7 December 1941, Naval Institute Press invited me to share some of the observations that my co-authors, Robert J. Cressman and John F. Di Virgilio, and I faced when we researched American and Japanese source materials for our book. This post is intended to illustrate the impact Japanese source materials had on the compilation of “No One Avoided Danger.” Nowhere are the difficulties of writing military history more apparent than in presenting the history of World War II in the Pacific using Japanese source… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 1

On Naval History Magazine’s Scope

Sunday, November 1, 2015 12:01 PM


CDR Robert Dunn stands in front of his A-4C Skyhawk before an Operation Rolling Thunder mission. (courtesy of retired VADM Robert F. Dunn, USN)

As the Navy attack group and supporting fighters headed west over North Vietnam, small gray puffs blossomed in the clear sky—antiaircraft fire. More appeared, joined by black bursts from larger AA guns and tracers from light guns. The flak quickly thickened, engulfing and buffeting the aircraft, while far below long orange flames indicated missiles headed skyward. The scene, as observed by then-Commander Robert F. Dunn from his A-4C Skyhawk, “was a maelstrom of sights and a cacophony of noise with warnings and voice calls. It reminded me of an orchestra with, at first, a few violins and other strings, then… 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 »

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 »

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