Archive for the 'Naval Aviation' Category

Apr 10

Seaplanes: The End (of the beginning)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:01 AM

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P6M Seamaster takeoff

By the end of the war, the Navy had a number of advanced seaplane designs in the works – the JRM Mars and H-4 Hercules, the Spruce Goose, in particular. These were developed as large (or, in the Hercules case, extremely large) transport seaplanes. The H-4 had a similar mission to some of the earliest Navy seaplanes: crossing the Atlantic, although it would do it with a 150,000 pound payload. With the end of the war, however, development largely stopped to make way for new operational challenges and design paradigms. Captured German hydrodynamics and aerodynamics research complemented contemporary American knowledge… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 29

Flying the Rubber Cows

Thursday, March 29, 2018 10:54 AM

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A kite balloon, viewed from the deck of a battleship ca. World War I. Naval Institute Photo Archive

This article by Alan L. Morse originally appeared in the February 1984 issue of Proceedings. What’s in a nickname? Today’s Goodyear Blimp was named after the fat, fictitious British Army Colonel Blimp. But one of its ancestors – the World War I kite balloon – was whimsically christened the “rubber cow,” and went to sea tethered to a “tin can.” They were the least glamorous of World War I pilots. Their aircraft were unlovely, unromantic, uncomfortable, and unpowered. They fought no aerial duels with the Red Baron or skimmed the trees on reconnaissance missions. These pilots never fired a shot… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 15

Seaplanes Go To War

Thursday, March 15, 2018 12:01 AM

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PBY Catalina Sights IJN Fleet 6/42 by John Hamilton

World War II for the flying boats started sooner than many. PBY Catalinas and PBM Mariners, a newer flying boat built to complement the PBY, were sent to Iceland, Newfoundland, Bermuda, and other bases as part of the Neutrality Patrol where they searched for German U-Boats. In May of 1941, Lieutenant Leonard Smith was helping train RAF pilots in PBY operations when he took part in a mission that spotted the German battleship Bismarck, which led to its sinking. The seaplanes escorted the Marine contingent to Iceland in July of the same year.[1] When hostilities commenced, the seaplanes were there…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 6

Meeting “Butch” O’Hare

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 12:01 AM

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Admiral John S. "Jimmy" Thach, USN (Ret.) (1905-1981)

In this excerpt from his 1970 Oral History Interview with CDR Etta-Belle Kitchen, USN (Ret.), then-Admiral Thach recounts his first first meeting with future Medal of Honor recipient and fighter ace Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare in 1940. The complete oral history is a delightfully told memoir from the man who was probably the Navy’s foremost fighter plane tactician of World War II. He is best known as the inventor of the “Thach Weave,” whereby U.S. fighters could successfully combat Japanese Zeros. Thach tells of devising the maneuver at home with kitchen matches. In a series of enjoyable tales, Thach describes his Naval Academy… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 7

50 Years Ago: A Rolling Thunder True Story

Friday, April 7, 2017 11:48 AM

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An A-6A Intruder of Attack Squadron (VA) 35 heads for its North Vietnam target. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Date: 7 April 1967 Squadron: VA-35 Black Panthers, USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), Yankee Station Aircraft: A-6A Intruder Target: Night attack on the sprawling Thainguyen, North Vietnam, steel complex Pilot: LCDR Everett “Hoot” Foote; Bombardier/Navigator: LT John Griffith The flight proceeded as briefed to the coastal entry. LCDR Foote utilized the A-6 Intruder’s terrain-avoidance radar augmented by LT Griffith’s search-radar observations to establish their minimum terrain avoidance altitude under night instrument flight conditions. The low altitude at which they flew over the mountainous terrain greatly complicated the radar navigation challenge. LT Griffith never-the-less hit each checkpoint on time, inserting updated position data into his navigation and weapons system… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 7

A Taranto–Pearl Harbor Connection?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 11:39 AM

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Fairey Swordfish bombers from HMS Illustrious head toward an inferno of antiaircraft fire and burning ships in Robert Taylor's depiction of the raid on the Italian harbor of Taranto. (The Military Gallery, www.militarygallery.com)

On the night of 11 November 1940, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked Italian battleships at anchor in the port of Taranto, Italy. On the morning of 7 December 1941, aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier strike force attacked the battleships and other assets of the U.S. Navy at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Is there a connection between the two attacks?

 
Oct 28

Naval Aviation Oddity: The Butler-Ames Aerocycle

Friday, October 28, 2016 11:32 AM

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The Butler Ames Aerocycle atop a specially-built platform on USS Bagley at the Naval Academy, July 1910. Naval Institute Photo Archive

One afternoon in the summer of 1910, the torpedo boat USS Bagley (TB-24) made her way from the docks at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and made her way down the Severn River to the Chesapeake Bay. Bagley‘s design harkened back to the spar torpedo boats of the Civil War, and had spent many of her days in reserve or as a training ship for the Naval Academy. But today, her mission was different. Today, she carried on her a sign of things to come: Bagley, in a world first for destroyer-type ships, was carrying an airplane on top of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 20

A Gun to Counter the Dive Bomber

Monday, June 20, 2016 12:01 AM

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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 »

 
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