WWII warships as “floating White Houses”

In August 1945, the USA’s two atomic bombs hastened the end of WWII. Four years later the USSR tested its own atomic bomb. As the American military adjusted to the new reality, many new concepts came about. Some were tried, successful, and retained. Others were just tried.

NECPA (National Emergency Command Post Afloat) was a concept to use two WWII warships as a refuge for the President during times of great tension, either prior to a nuclear war with the USSR or as one was already starting.

nhlate(USS Northampton (CC-1), an unfinished WWII cruiser, was one of the NECPA ships.)

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(USS Wright (CC-2), formerly a WWII aircraft carrier, was the other NECPA ship.)Read More »

WWII weapons in the Anya-Nya

Sudan has seen so much warfare over the past 100 years that it is sometimes hard to tell when one war ended and the next began. What is often called the country’s “first civil war” ran from, depending on when the start date is counted, 1955 to 1972. Even in the latter stages, it was dominated by old WWII weapons. This conflict is today overshadowed by the “second” war which was much more violent and fought with Cold War-era weapons.

(Mossad agent David Ben-Uziel; nom de guerre “John”, with Anya-Nya in southern Sudan around 1970. WWII firearms shown are Bren machine guns, a MP-40, a Sten Mk.II, and SMLE rifles.)

(Anya-Nya with a WWII British SMLE rifle in the early 1970s.)

(A soldier of the Nile Provisional Government with a WWII German MG-34 in 1969.)

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Albania & the last Mosin-Nagants made

The last country to produce new Mosin-Nagants was perhaps the most obscure player in Cold War-era Europe, Albania. There a small run of this rifle was made in the early 1960s, a decade and a half after WWII ended and the world (including Albania itself) had already moved on to more modern firearms.

(Albanian-manufactured Mosin-Nagant 91/30 rifle, the final production run of this legendary WWII rifle.) (photo via Armslist website)

(Enver Hoxha, the WWII guerilla who would become Albania’s dictator from 1944 – 1985.)

(Mosin-Nagant M44s being looted by an Albanian civilian during the 1997 chaos.) (Associated Press photo)

The Cold War-era Albanian military overall was a blend of different generations (including WWII) of weapons serving alongside one another.

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sunset of naval netlaying after WWII

Some changes to the US Navy after WWII were both readily apparent and abrupt. The carrier-based warplane replaced battleship gunnery as the most potent offense at sea. Smokescreen-laying, an important art for destroyer captains in 1939, was more or less moot ten years later due to the near-universal fitting of radar on warships. And so on.

The decline of naval defensive nets after WWII was neither fast, nor with a simple explanation. In the US Navy the discipline sort of just quietly went away, slowly, over a period of about 15 – 20 years…yet, the decline was unmistakable even as soon as WWII’s end in 1945.

Little is said as to how or why naval nets vanished, or what happened to the US Navy’s many net warfare ships after WWII. So perhaps this will be of value.

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(USS Pinon (AN-66) hauls in a German anti-submarine net at Cherbourg, France following the city’s liberation during WWII.)

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(An inert Polaris ballistic missile being launched in 1963 from a buoyant test cylinder tended by USS Butternut (AN-9), a WWII veteran net ship.)

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(The Dominican Republic navy’s SeparaciĆ³n, which had been USS Passaconaway (AN-86) during WWII, during the 1990s.)

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USS Midway: retrieval of land-based South Vietnamese warplanes 1975

The fall of Saigon in 1975, and along with it the fall of South Vietnam and final end of the Vietnam War, is most remembered in the United States for the dramatic helicopter evacuation of the American embassy.

Less known is the final chapter to the “Frequent Wind” story: how the aircraft carrier USS Midway, built to fight the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII, ended up retrieving the remnants of the defunct VNAF (South Vietnamese air force) during the summer of 1975.

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(USS Midway (CV-41) at the end of WWII, prior to commissioning.)

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(USS Midway with US Air Force helicopters staged prior to the start of “Frequent Wind” in 1975.)

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(A most unusual scene as the flight deck of USS Midway is filled with land-based warplanes of the defunct South Vietnamese air force.)

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fate of the last Skytrain built

Through remarkable circumstances, the last C-47 Skytrain built during WWII ended up in the Congo where it lingered on into the 21st Century.

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(C-47 Skytrain. The stripes are an identification marking used during the 1944 “Overlord” D-Day landings.)

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(The last C-47 Skytrain built during WWII, in Goma, D.R. Congo during December 2014. This had been Mobutu’s DC-3.) (photo by Abel Kavanagh)

As a background to the astonishing story and unfortunate fate of this one Skytrain, it is perhaps worthwhile to look at the very long and varied history of the C-47 / DC-3 in the country. The plane is somewhat unique in aviation in that it became almost symbolic of a new nation’s struggles.

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Israel’s radar-busting Shermans

The M4 Sherman was the main American tank type of WWII. After the war, it saw additional combat worldwide – first as a tank in its original WWII form, then in following decades through various upgrades, and in rebuilt form for non-tank uses.

One of the more remarkable of the latter was the Kilshon, an Israeli system to destroy the radars controlling and guiding enemy surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

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(US Army M4 Sherman tank in action during WWII.)

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(The Israeli Kilshon ARM launch vehicle, which used a WWII Sherman as the lower portion.)

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Wu Chin III: Taiwan’s remarkable rebuilt WWII destroyers

Some warships which survived WWII were given updates during the late 1940s or 1950s, for the most part modest changes to keep them current a while longer. In terms of being the most dramatically altered, a few examples stand out including the two WWII Baltimore class gun cruisers transformed into the US Navy’s first guided missile cruisers; USS Boston (CAG-1) and USS Canberra (CAG-2).

Of all WWII warships later rebuilt, Taiwan’s Wu Chin III modifications to Gearing class destroyers may be the most amazing. Unlike the cruisers above, the Taiwanese were packing more technology into smaller hulls; they did not have the Pentagon’s budget to play with; and most amazingly this was done not just years after WWII ended, but almost a half-century later.

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(The Gearing class destroyer USS Power (DD-839) at the end of WWII.)

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(The Wu Chin III-rebuilt destroyer ROCS Shen Yang – the former USS Power of WWII – in the 21st century.)

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WWII aircraft in Lebanon

Sadly the military history of Lebanon will, at least for the near future, be dominated by the horrible 1970s – 1980s civil war. The country did have military history prior to that, including WWII-era warplanes in its early air force.

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(Lebanese air force Harvard, the RAF’s name for WWII lend-leased T-6 Texan trainers.)

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(Lebanese air force SM.79 bomber. The country was the last in the world to fly this WWII Italian warplane.)

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merry Christmas 2020

I would like to extend Christmas greetings to all readers of wwiiafterwwii.

Below is the 1953 Christmas mess deck menu cover from USS Lake Champlain (CV-39), a WWII Essex class aircraft carrier. This was the ninth Christmas after Japan’s surrender and WWII’s end, and the first since the end of the Korean War.

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