Twilight of catapult aviation after WWII: pt.1

detroitaluetians1943

(A Kingfisher scout plane catapults off the cruiser USS Detroit (CL-8) during WWII.)

1946

(Abandoned Kingfishers lay in a US Navy storage lot in 1946, a year after WWII ended)

Because most photos of battleships concentrate on the inter-war and WWII era, it’s generally assumed that catapults and seaplanes were always a fixture on them, but this isn’t accurate.

If one considers the “battleship era” starting with the Spanish-American War in 1898 and ending with the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 , it was only half a century that that this type of warship ruled the seas. Of that, seaplanes aboard battleships had an even shorter run, about 24 years. For context, there were US Navy sailors who enlisted before battleship catapults existed and retired after they were already gone.

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WWII CVEs into AKVs: Korean & Vietnam wars

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(USS Card departs San Francisco, CA with a load of F-102 Delta Dagger fighters on the wooden WWII flight deck. The supersonic F-102 was based at home, at overseas airbases in Japan, West Germany, and the Philippines; and during the Vietnam War in South Vietnam. It was also exported to Greece and Turkey.)

After WWII, some of the US Navy’s escort carriers were converted for aircraft ferry use. While not the most glamorous mission, they filled an important niche in the use of American airpower during the Cold War.

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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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Mothballing the US Navy after WWII: pt.1

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

The US Navy at the end of WWII was the largest on the planet, and would be unaffordable at that sizeĀ  in peacetime. What followed was the largest warship preservation effort in history.

Phily1961igloos

(WWII Cruisers USS Huntington (CL-107), USS Dayton (CL-105), and battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) in mothballs at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Philadelphia, PA in August 1961. These warships had been in reserve for 14 years and show the characteristic “igloos”.) (official US Navy photo)

siusun bay

(The Suisun Bay, CA facility packed full of mothballed warships after WWII.)

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USS Prinz Eugen

The cruiser Prinz Eugen was the largest and most modern German surface ship to survive WWII intact. Allocated to the United States, the ship briefly served as USS Prinz Eugen (IX-300), having some equipment stripped off for study and then being expended as an atomic bomb target.

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