“jumboized” WWII warships

After WWII the US Navy modernized war-built vessels to various degrees for many reasons. Many options were available: new weapons, new radars and sonars, enlarged superstructures, new radios, adding or removing aircraft capability, replacement engines, layout changes, and so on.

Normally one thing that couldn’t be changed was the physical size of the hull. Things could be added, moved, replaced, altered, or rebuilt inside or atop the hull; but at the end of the day the WWII hull was what it was.

In the examples below, extremely dramatic “surgery” actually changed the length and size of the entire ship.

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(Not a case of seeing double: the bow and stern sections of USS Navasota (AO-106) pointed in opposite directions during the WWII warship’s 1960s “jumboization”.)

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(The WWII submarine tender USS Proteus (AS-19) cut completely in half during 1959. This “jumboization” was one of the most complex engineering jobs ever done prior to the computer age.)

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happy Independence Day 2022 / Andrews Barracks in Berlin

For readers of wwiiafterwwii in the United States, I would like to extend wishes for a happy July 4th, our nation’s 246th birthday.

Below is a quite unusual Independence Day scene, taken in Berlin on 4 July 1945 – the first Independence Day after the European part of WWII ended and while combat in the Pacific was still underway.

The damaged building which both the Stars & Stripes and Hammer & Sickle are flying above, was the WWII headquarters of the 1st Waffen-SS Panzer Division, the LSSAH  (Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler) as can be seen on the cornice of the building atop the four columns.

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MANPADS vs WWII C-47 Skytrain

The use of man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, against WWII-era aircraft was not totally unique to the 1986 story of the plane below; nor even against the particular plane involved, the C-47 Skytrain.

What sets this incident apart is that the plane and crew survived allowing the event to be fully documented after the fact, and also that another aircraft was able to photograph it in flight.

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(The South African C-47 Skytrain which was hit by a SA-7 “Grail” in 1986 making an emergency landing with its tail blown off.)

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(South African soldier with a captured SA-7 “Grail” during the 1981 “Protea” operation against SWAPO inside Angola.)

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M24 Chaffee during the Vietnam War

The American M24 Chaffee light tank of WWII saw postwar combat in southeast Asia for a quarter-century starting in 1950, first with the French army, then the South Vietnamese army, and finally the South Vietnamese air force. 

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(A French army M24 Chaffee in combat during the Indochina War.)

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(A M24 Chaffee of the ARVN (South Vietnamese army) attacking Gia Long Palace during the 1963 coup.)

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(With a PanAm Boeing 707 in the background, a M24 Chaffee of the VNAF (South Vietnamese air force) guards Tan Son Nhut in Saigon. Even as the Vietnam War was being fought, the airport’s civilian side continued to handle commercial aviation. These air force tanks would be the last WWII Chaffees in Vietnam.)

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M3 Lee post-WWII service

The M3 Lee medium tank is usually thought of as a pre-war design of limited abilities during WWII, obsolete by the conflict’s midpoint and gone when WWII ended in 1945. For the most part these assumptions are correct, but surprisingly the Lee did serve on in a few places after WWII.

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(M3 Lees of the US Army 1st Armored Division in Louisiana during one of the huge “southern states exercises” in September 1941. These series of wargames were the last major exercises prior to the USA entering WWII in December. All of the equipment seen here; the M3 Lee tank, the A-20 Havoc bomber, the M3 37mm anti-tank gun, and M1917 helmet; equipped the American military when it entered the war and was later superseded by more modern kit.)

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(Brazilian M3 Lee which was retained in service after WWII, this one having the balancing counterweight fitted to the M2 75mm gun.) (photo by Gino Marcomini)

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(Australia’s post-WWII Yeramba SPA, the final offshoot of the Lee / Grant family.)

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six years of wwiiafterwwii / the Dirty Harry aircraft carriers

I neglected to make an intended “anniversary” post for one year of being online, and later two years, and five years, and 100 subscribers, and then finally the number of days WWII ran. As you can tell I am not well with remembering events. So belatedly, this is the sixth anniversary of wwiiafterwwii, now longer than the war itself lasted.

I thank all readers / commenters for the knowledge shared over the years.

While I just write these for general enjoyment, I do try to keep the atmosphere at least plausibly scholarly and thus avoid “silly” or irrelevant topics. So, normally I would not touch on something like the below. But I figure, just once can not hurt, so here is a bit of “lighter reading”.

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Bedcheck Charlie 1950 – 1953

The Korean War’s air combat is best known for the duels of MiG-15s and F-86 Sabres in the world’s first jet-vs-jet matchups. An unusual sideshow to that was North Korea’s use of woefully obsolete WWII types as night harassment planes. They were called “Bedcheck Charlies” by the Americans.

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(North Korean Po-2 “Mule” which was used as a Bedcheck Charlie plane, just as the Soviets had done during WWII.) (artwork via Wings Palette website)

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(The MBR-2bis, another WWII Soviet plane used by the North Koreans for Bedcheck Charlie missions.)

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(Two of the WWII-legacy American answers to the problem: a F4U-5NL Corsair and in the background, a F7F-3N Tigercat.)

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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 »

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 Separación, which had been USS Passaconaway (AN-86) during WWII, during the 1990s.)

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