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.

pinoncherbourg

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

butternut

(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.)

seperacion1990s

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

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WWII equipment in Soviet nuclear tests: part 2

(part 2 of a 2-part series)

The “Snezhok” test (described in part 1) illustrated the effects of an atomic bomb on land and air systems of WWII vintage and the first generation of Cold War gear. A year later, a naval nuclear test involved WWII-era warships.

The Soviet Union’s 21 September 1955 nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya is sometimes compared to the USA’s 1946 “Crossroads Bravo” test at Bikini. There were similarities (both were the first underwater nuclear detonation by the respective countries) but also many differences.

Novaya Zemlya is a large island (it is actually two islands, split by a narrow channel) in the Russian arctic. It is cold, barren, and uninhabited.

map

(Novaya Zemlya with the naval test site marked in red.)

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WWII equipment in Soviet nuclear tests: part 1

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union conducted regular nuclear weapons tests. One of these was unique in that it was not just a test detonation of a weapon, but a full-scale military exercise which involved a blend of WWII-vintage systems and their Cold War-era replacements.

bull

(One of the two Tu-4 “Bull” strategic bombers involved in the 1954 exercise. There was a primary and alternate Tu-4 staged, of which only one dropped a bomb. The “Bull” was an unlicensed copy of the WWII American B-29 Superfortress.)

pak

(An ex-Wehrmacht PaK 40 anti-tank gun smashed and radioactive following the 1954 Soviet atomic test.)

plane

(A WWII Il-10 “Beast” burns after the exercise atomic detonation.)

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Last voyage of ARA Santa Fe 1982

The naval side of the 1982 Falklands War is most remembered for the sinking of the cruiser ARA General Belgrano, the Exocet missile, and the first combat uses of atomic-powered submarines and V/STOL fighter planes. One less-studied episode was the final use of a WWII submarine in combat.

launch

(The launch of USS Catfish (SS-339) at Groton, CT during WWII.)

sf

(The wrecked ARA Santa Fe – the former USS Catfish – after the 1982 Falklands War.)

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missile attack on battleship USS Missouri

The fact that Iraq fired an anti-ship missile at the WWII battleship USS Missouri in 1991 is not secret, but is still relatively not known in the general public. Even inside the defense community, the event is often poorly understood, or full of errors and bad timelines.

What makes this so curious is that more than any war before or since, operation “Desert Storm” was saturated with media coverage, and the two battleships in particular were among the most interesting pieces of hardware. Furthermore this event was the first time in history that a warship shot down a missile with a missile, and the last time that a battleship was attacked by any method.

surr

(WWII ends aboard USS Missouri on 2 September 1945.)

missile

(Iraqi “Seersucker” missiles captured during operation “Desert Storm”.)

missourifiring(USS Missouri firing in the Persian Gulf in 1991. A departing 16″ shell is visible.)

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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.

inert

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

pucaratorp4

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

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North Korea: WWII weapons after the Korean War

ppsh1

(North Korean troops march with WWII PPSh–41 submachine guns in 2016.)

In North Korea’s formative years (1945-1949) it’s army’s weapons were entirely WWII vintage; a mixture of Japanese, Chinese, and Soviet types. During the Korean War, the same was true, and in the immediate aftermath very obsolete Soviet guns and the ex-Japanese weaponry was discarded, but the others remained.

This is a look at WWII weapons in North Korean use after the Korean War and following the mass emergency rearmament the USSR and China undertook in the mid-1950s. It is not an exhaustive list, but rather some of the main types of WWII weapons that remained in use in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and even beyond; in some cases to the present time.

t34in2012

(North Korean T-34-85 tank filmed during 2012.)

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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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WWII weapons in the Ayatollah’s Iran

The war between Iran and Iraq started in 1980 when Saddam Hussein sought to take advantage of Iran’s chaos by conquering and annexing Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, and in the larger sense, destroying the Iranian islamic regime’s military. In turn, the Iranians sought to first repulse the Iraqi attack and then knock Hussein out of power and replace him with an Iraqi theocratic government modeled on Iran’s.

The war ended up lasting eight years and was one of the worst of the 20th century. For the most part, Iran employed high-tech systems like the MIM-23 Hawk SAM and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, but there were some WWII weapons in Iran’s use as well.

shermanjackson

(Iranian WWII-vintage M4 Sherman and M36 Jackson on the front lines of the 1980-1988 war.)

m115iran4

(Iranian WWII-era M115 artillery during the 1980-1988 war against Iraq.)

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