Archive for the 'World War II' 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 19

“Herman the German”

Thursday, May 19, 2016 1:32 PM


USS YD-171 lifts another crane. . Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Engineers at the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard in Long Beach, California, had a problem on their hands: how does one reassemble one of the tallest and largest crane in the world? That was the situation in January, 1948 as the U.S. Navy worked to erect the gigantic, floating Schwimmkran Nr. 1, taken from Germany as war reparations at the end of World War II. The gigantic crane, “naturalized” after the war as USS YD-171, was one of four built by Demag A. G. in 1941 in Bremerhaven, Germany to lift U-Boats out of the water for repair and for other heavy-lifting tasks…. Read the rest of this entry »

May 6

‘The Necessity of the Fight’

Friday, May 6, 2016 12:01 AM


Surrounded in his CBS office with a modest library and an array of memorabilia from a distinguished career in journalism, Cronkite did not take the term "retirement" very seriously. Above his assistant's desk the headline from a clipping read, "Cronkite Cannot Say No." Courtesy L. Furgatch.

We were in an editorial meeting when our secretary, Marcia Owens, walked in and whispered, “There’s a guy on your phone who says he’s Walter Cronkite. Yeah, right! It actually does sound like him, though. What should I say?” It was indeed the man who had become known as “the most trusted man in America.” He was calling to correct an error in memory he had made in an answer to a question I had posed during our interview the previous week. We were putting together our D-Day 50th Anniversary commemoration, and we thought that someone who had had a… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 29

Q&A with Vince O’Hara, Naval Institute Press Author of the Year

Friday, April 29, 2016 11:48 AM



Vincent P. O’Hara received the 2015 Naval Institute Press Author of the Year Award at the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2016 Annual Meeting. The Press was delighted that Vince accepted our invitation to talk about his books and some of his inspirations. Naval History: What are your books about and why do you write them? Vince O’Hara: I write because I’m passionate about naval history. There’s nothing else I’d rather do. The focus of my first three books, German Fleet at War, The U.S. Navy against the Axis, and Struggle  for the Middle Sea is naval surface combat. Collectively, they describe… 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 »

Mar 4

The Great Graphic Novel of the World War II Pacific—and the Man Behind It

Friday, March 4, 2016 3:42 PM


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Writing for Naval History is always an interesting undertaking, but sometimes a genuinely unique topic comes along—in this case, it was one that represented a fusion of two lifelong interests: naval history in general (and World War II naval history in particular), and comic books. In researching and writing the Sam Glanzman story, I got to retrace the amazing, prolific, and long-running career of a legendary comics artist—and also got to immerse myself in his most celebrated work: A Sailor’s Story, his great 1980s graphic-novel memoir of his Pacific war experiences, now available for a new generation of readers in… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 1

On Naval History’s Scope

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 12:01 AM



On 20 September 1945, two-and-a-half weeks after he’d hosted the formal Japanese surrender on board his flagship, Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. headed for home. Among the many respects paid to the celebrated commander was one he especially treasured. “Your departure leaves all your old comrades of the Pacific war lonesome indeed,” messaged General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. “You carry with you the admiration and affection of every officer and man. May your shadow never decrease.” That was a tall order because “Bull” Halsey had cast an enormous shadow during the conflict. His battle accomplishments were many, but in… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 10

Extraordinary American

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 3:50 PM


Jack Schiff selflessly dedicated himself to the Navy and related organization even after his death in 1998. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

In many ways, John J. “Jack” Schiff typified that once very large and now rapidly dwindling group of extraordinary Americans that Tom Brokaw so aptly characterized as “the greatest generation.” Like so many of those brave souls in those troubled times when Nazis and Fascists and other monsters roamed the earth, Jack left a promising business in Cincinnati to don his nation’s uniform in March 1942. Because it was not in Jack Schiff’s character to tell others of his achievements, we cannot know the full extent of his contributions to the war effort and can only piece together his service… Read the rest of this entry »

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