merry Christmas 2022

Wishes for a merry Christmas season to all readers of wwiiafterwwii.
Below is Christmas 1945, the first after peace came, aboard the WWII attack transport USS Selinur (AKA-41).

xmas(photo by Richard LeDonne)

Santa Claus has exchanged his red cap for a US Marine Corps campaign cover.

USS Selinur was an Artemis class attack transport. The Artemis class could not beach itself but could put 264 troops directly ashore via LCVPs and LCMs. They also transported 980t of supplies. The 426′-long Artemis class displaced 7,080t fully loaded however the hullform was optimized with a full draught of only 16′, allowing it to get close to shore during amphibious assaults and also use minor staging ports in the Pacific. They had one Mk12 5″ gun, four Mk2 twin 40mm AA guns, and several 20mm light guns.

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(USS Selinur in the Marshall Islands during August 1945, when the final invasion of the Japanese home islands was being planned.) (photo via navsource website)

USS Selinur commissioned on 21 April 1945. A peaceful Christmas after WWII’s end in September 1945 was probably extra-welcomed by the ship’s crew as it had been slated to participate in operation “Olympic”, the first amphibious landings in the Japanese home islands; set for either the end of 1945 or early 1946. The US Navy expected heavy amphibious ship losses and was probably correct. Postwar interviews with Imperial Japanese Army pilots revealed that, with the sea war already effectively lost, they were going to ignore American battleships and cruisers and instead direct everything against amphibious ships.

Instead, USS Selinur ended WWII repositioning forces in the Philippines and landing occupation troops in Japan.

USS Selinur and the Artemis class overall had a very limited career after WWII, other than two ships sold to the Chilean navy. The US Marine Corps was downsizing after WWII and correspondingly there was a lesser need for ships to move them. USS Selinur decommissioned in 1946 after only 13 months of service, an expensive thing seeing little use which was common in the late-1940s US Navy.

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(USS Selinur being deactivated at Philadelphia, PA in 1946. The small WWII subchaser tied up was presumably also doing the same.) (photo via Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper)

The disarmed ex-USS Selinur was loaned to the Pennsylvania Maritime Academy as T.S. Keystone State for training merchant sailors. It only served one year in that role, before being mothballed in 1947. It was never reactivated and scrapped in 1968.

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Philippines pt. 1: “Mickey Mouse Money” after WWII

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

Every nation that participated in WWII had effects on it’s economy after the war ended. For the Philippines, an unfortunate combination of circumstances meant that these effects lasted longer than probably anywhere else, and most curiously the money itself (the physical printed cash) was an issue decades later.

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(American soldiers behind a M4 Sherman advance down the right field foul line of Rizal Stadium in February 1945. The ballpark had been converted into a HQ by Japanese forces. For the Philippines, the occupation was ending but the post-WWII monetary woes were just beginning.)

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(A stack of old Japanese Invasion Money stamped by the failed JAPWANCAP scheme of the 1950s.)

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the V-2 in the USSR after WWII

The US Army’s tests of captured V-2 missiles after WWII in New Mexico is fairly well-known. Much less famous is the Soviet Union’s involvement with the world’s first ballistic missile after WWII.

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(Left: A German V-2 missile being readied for launch during WWII. Right: It’s postwar Soviet copy, the SS-1 “Scunner”.)

The USA had no intention of using the V-2 as an actual weapon, no intention of directly copying it, no intention of producing it themselves, and only saw it as a useful research aid. The Soviets on the other hand, put no such restrictions on themselves.

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Mk13 torpedo during the Falklands War

Argentina used a variety of WWII items during the 1982 Falklands War, ranging in complexity from a Brooklyn class cruiser to M1 helmets. The most surprising, and least known, was an effort to resurrect the Mk13 anti-ship torpedo that nearly made it to use.

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(US Navy Mk13 air-dropped unguided torpedo of WWII.)

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(Argentine IA-58 Pucara attack plane with a Mk13 in 1982.)

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Guided missiles on Corsairs

Originally designed as a carrier-based gun dogfighter, the F4U Corsair, and it’s later attack variant, the AU-1, was used heavily as a ground attack plane during WWII, and almost exclusively in that role during the Korean War.

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(The first prototype Vought Corsair during WWII.)

A wide variety of weapons not originally envisioned were successfully used by the Corsair: air-to-ground rockets, napalm tanks, radar, depth charges, cluster munitions, and so on.

Easily the most unusual was something that could have never been envisioned by Vought’s engineers when they designed the plane; a guided missile.

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(French navy Corsair with SS.11 guided missiles aboard.)

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Cleaning up after WWII

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I receive from time to time suggestions for topics. These are wide-ranging but two in particular seem very popular: WWII weapons in the Vietnam War, which has been touched on several times; and a general question of how the world “cleaned up” WWII battlefields after the war. For the latter, I was surprised at how very little is written about it so perhaps this will be of interest.

One of the reasons WWII battlefields did not remain littered with vehicles for long was that, with the lone exception of the USA, all of the major warring powers made some official level of combat usage of captured enemy arms during WWII. The most formal was Germany’s Beutewaffe (literally, ‘booty’ or ‘loot’ weapon) effort, which encompassed everything from handguns to fighter aircraft with an official code in the Waffenamt system; for example FK-288(r) (the Soviet ZiS-3 anti-tank gun), SIGew-251(a) (the American M1 Garand rifle), and Sd.Kfz 735(i) (the Italian Fiat M13/40 tank). Captured gear was assembled at points called Sammelstelle and then shipped back from the front lines for disposition.

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Postwar advertising legacy of WWII

The defense industry is a business like any other, and just like any other industry, advertising is a part of it. After WWII’s end in 1945, many wartime weapons systems remained in Cold War use and required upkeep, upgrading, resale, integration with newer systems, and eventually disposal.

Some of these advertisements ran in general-interest magazines and newspapers. Others were limited to niche defense journals and trade gazettes, and were typically unseen by the mass public.

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Above is a 1971 newspaper ad for the disposal of USS Hazard (MSF-240), an Admirable class minesweeper of the WWII US Navy. Typically, smaller mothballed WWII ships like this were bought cheaply in lots by brokers, then parceled out individually to scrapyards for a profit. USS Hazard was bought by a group of Nebraska businessmen and is today a museum ship in Omaha, NE.

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Firing a V-2 off an aircraft carrier

Germany’s V-2 ballistic missile was one of the most remarkable weapons of WWII, years ahead of it’s time. After the war, the US Army and civilian agencies fired captured examples for research, both military and scientific. Less well-known is that the US Navy fired one example off an aircraft carrier.

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(A V-2 missile being launched by German forces during WWII, and aboard USS Midway after the war.)

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WWII equipment of the Bundesgrenzschutz

The Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS / “Federal Border Guard”) was the first national-level armed service established in West Germany after WWII. It utilized a number of WWII items during the Cold War.

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(New BGS troopers take their service oath in 1963.)

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(BGS border troopers disembark from UH-1 Iroquois helicopters in 1976. The combination of stahlhelm helmets and hueys makes an interesting mixture of WWII and Vietnam War items.)

In 1945, the Allies decreed that any future German nation would be permanently disarmed. During the 1945-1949 occupation, the three western Allies (UK, France, and the USA) did not allow anything more than local police armed with light small arms. West German sovereignty was restored in 1949. In May 1950, the Allied Joint Chiefs Of Staff proposed a West German armed force of 5,000 men to patrol the new nation’s borders. In January 1951 Konrad Adenauer, the first postwar Chancellor, ordered the formation of a 10,000 man armed border guard to be placed under civil control of the Interior Ministry. On 16 March 1951 the Bundesgrenzshutz officially came into existence.

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The stahlhelm in Latin America after WWII

Forever associated with the WWII Wehrmacht, the stahlhelm (literally, ‘steel helmet’) enjoyed surprisingly long use in Latin America after WWII, up until the present time.

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(Bolivian soldiers with stahlhelm M35 helmets and M16 assault rifles.)

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(Chilean soldiers in 2009 wearing the stahlhelm M35.)

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(Late 1950s Dominican Republic soldiers with stahlhelm M53 helmets, NATO-standard FN FAL assault rifles, and American M1936 belts from WWII Lend-Lease.)

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