Archive for the 'World War II' Category

Mar 15

Seaplanes Go To War

Thursday, March 15, 2018 12:01 AM


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


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 »

Mar 1

Rocket Ships: A Pictorial Overview

Thursday, March 1, 2018 11:43 AM


Resembling a fireworks display, a five-inch rocket is launched from the USS Clarion River (LSMR-409) on a night mission.

Experience by British, American, and Allied forces during the early parts of the Second World War underscored the need for effective close fire support and beach bombardment. It soon became clear the most effective method for providing this much-needed capability was not to develop specialized platforms for the task, but to modify the ships and craft that already had the capability to get close-in to shore in medias res. The answer was landing craft. Much as the Soviets had done with their Katyusha on land, the British Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy began modifying their existing and planned landing… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 8

A Deeper Dive into Hell to Pay

Thursday, February 8, 2018 12:01 AM



In 2009, D. M. Giangreco’s award-winning book Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945–1947 was published by the Naval Institute Press. We recently spoke with Mr. Giangreco about his latest book—a revised and expanded edition of Hell to Pay (Naval Institute Press, 2017). Naval History: Tell us about the expanded edition of Hell to Pay. D. M. Giangreco: The new Hell to Pay expands on several areas examined in the previous book and deals with three new topics: U.S.-Soviet cooperation in the war against imperial Japan; U.S., Soviet, and Japanese plans for the invasion and defense… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 10

January 10, 1943 – USS Trigger (SS-237) sinks Japanese destroyer Okikaze

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:28 PM


The USS Trigger fresh from the builder's yard at Mare Island.

It was 75 years ago today, that the USS Trigger (SS-237)  torpedoed and sank the Japanese destroyer Okikaze. The following is a description of the event taken from the Trigger’s third war patrol report:

Nov 29

Rear Admiral B. Robert Erly, USN (Retired) Recounts the Air Raid on Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 9:07 AM


RADM Robert Erly, USN (Ret.)

In this selection from his second interview with Paul Stillwell at the U.S. Naval Institute on 7 September 1988, Admiral Erly recounts his arrival by car in the middle of the air raid on Pearl Harbor and his efforts to fight the fires on the drydocked destroyers USS Cassin (DD-372) and USS Downes (DD-375) and the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) on 7 December 1941. Based on six interviews, conducted by Paul Stillwell from May 1987 to April 1992. The volume contains 459 pages of interview transcript plus a comprehensive index. The transcript is copyright 2015 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on… Read the rest of this entry »

May 30

The Story He Never Told

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 12:01 AM



The year following my grandfather’s death in 1975, I found myself in a mystifying place: the NAS Patuxent River airfield dedication in his honor. The ceremony touched on highlights from Vice Admiral Frederick “Trap” Trapnell’s long career in naval aviation, which, even to my untrained ear, sounded consequential: getting the Hellcat into WWII, salvaging the development of the Corsair, first Navy pilot to fly a jet, guiding the Navy through the complex transition to jets, establishing the Test Pilot School at PAX River. Why else would they name the airfield after him? Yet, standing there on the rain-soaked tarmac of… Read the rest of this entry »

May 19

Admiral Kimmel and the Attack

Friday, May 19, 2017 2:59 PM


Pacific Fleet Commander-in-Chief Admiral Husband Kimmel (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

  Beginning in December 2016, I began writing a series of monthly (approximately) “H-Grams” that go to all active-duty and retired Navy flag officers, and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, with the expectation that they would be disseminated further to fleet Sailors, and with the acceptance that they would make their way “into the wild.” I did this with the approval of the Chief of Naval Operations and Director, Navy Staff to support the Navy’s “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” which includes a sub-task to “Know Our History.” My intent is to write them in a way… Read the rest of this entry »

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