August 09, 2009

The Best Of The Jeeps

Escort, or 'Jeep', carriers, were wartime conversions of merchant hulls.  In 1942, as the US "auxiliary" carrier program spun up to full gear, every available C-3 hull, which was the preferred base design for conversion, had been earmarked for the Bogue-class escort carrier.

The Bogue-class was a relatively unsophisticated design, essentially slapping a flight deck on top of the hull, and changing the old main deck to a hangar.  While effective, more hulls were desperately needed to escort convoys in the Atlantic and support operations in the Pacific.  To overcome the shortfall, the powers-that-be tagged four T-3 tanker hulls for conversion.

T-3 Esso Trenton before conversion to USS Sangamon
The US Navy wasn't particularly fond of this idea.  The one type of ship in even shorter supply than carriers were fast fleet oilers, designed to accompany warships and provide fuel and other supplies to short-legged ships in the vast ranges of the Pacific ocean, and the T-3 filled that bill.  However, the Navy wasn't given a choice, and the four ships were taken into Norfolk Navy Yard, Newport News, Puget Sound Navy Yard and Bethlehem Steel.

The resulting Sangamon-class was considered the best of the converted Jeep carrier classes.

USS Santee, CVE-29
Longer, heavier and faster than the preceding Bogue-class, and the basis for the subsequent purpose-built Casablanca-class (which was smaller and lighter, and just 1kt faster), the Sangamons could (and often did) carry 36 planes.

Unlike every other escort carrier class, the four Sangamons were able to embark any carrier plane in the Navy arsenal, save for the Helldiver and the Corsair.  The usual air complement was between 12-18 Wildcats and around the same number of TBF Avengers, though the Sangamon and the Santee occasionally carried the Dauntless dive-bomber.  The Suwannee and the Chenango never did, for one reason or another.

They displaced 24100 tons (full load), as opposed to 16600 tons for the Bogues.  Unsurprisingly considering their tanker origins, they carried nearly three times as much fuel as well, giving them a range of 24000 nautical miles @ 15kts (the Bogues range was just over 10000nm).  They also had a huge bunkerage for airplane fuel.  As a matter of fact, they could carry more fuel than a Yorktown or Lexington-class fleet carrier, and only a bit less than the Essex-class, despite being about 350 feet shorter.  In effect, the Sangamon-class were self-escorting tankers.

All four began their service life in late 1942, covering the North Africa landings of Operation Torch.  Immediately following, they transferred to the Pacific.  Three of the four were hit by kamikaze (the Chenango avoided that fate, but suffered severe damage when a F6F crash-landed on her deck and smashed into planes parked forward).  The class as a whole suffered three kamikaze hits, four bomb strikes, and a submarine torpedo hit, yet all four survived... again, testament to the survivability of their larger-sized tanker origins.

Santee takes a kamikaze hit
As with all ships in WWII, their AA guns were substantially increased from their starting armament.  Unlike most others classes, however, the Sangamons handled the near-doubling of their guns without any topweight problems, owing to their tanker origins. 

The only thing that separated them from CVL status was their speed.  18kts maximum was pretty good for a transport, and excellent for an escort carrier, but much too slow to operate with the battle fleet, where 25-30kts was considered standard.  That's about the only statistic that the Sangamons were inferior to the Independence-class CVL.

All four ships of the class survived the war, earning 41 battle stars between them.  The Chenango and Santee continued in US Navy service as CVHEs (Carrier, Helicopter, Escort) until the late '50s.  The Suwannee was put into the mothball fleet.  The Sangamon, amusingly, was returned to commercial service in her original tanker configuration after the war, until she was scrapped in 1960.

The end of Sangamons.
For ships that were considered 'expendable', not a bad history.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:11 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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August 07, 2009

Picture Unrelated To Post

I have to admit that blogging hasn't been on my mind much recently.  Between my mother's health woes (she's getting a CT scan done on Monday in an attempt to figure out why she's in so much pain) and the time of year at the Duck U. Bookstore, I've been too busy to really do much of anything.

Duck U's Fall semester starts up in just under two weeks, and the new crop of freshmen First Year Students arrive on campus in a week.  We're up to our necks in customers looking for books, in other words. 

So, yeah, a little busy.  One bright spot actually occurred this evening, when longtime friend Vaucaunson's Duck, fresh in from San Francisco, dropped by Pond Central for a few hours of conversation, sushi, and Top Gear

Trying to carve some time to write something akin to a blog post.  We'll see what happens on that front.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:46 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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August 05, 2009

Momzerduck Update (and Some F1 News Too)

Momzerduck was discharged from the hospital this evening.  She's doing... okay, I guess would be the technical word for it.  Turns out when she fell, not only did she blonk her head quite forcefully, the docs also think she dinged her spleen, so she's in a fair amount of pain when she does things like laugh or transition from sitting to standing and so forth.  Thankfully, she was given a prescription for a nice painkiller.  So, she's home and resting comfortably with Hercule curled around her head like a pair of kitty earmuffs.

With that stress-inducer out of the way, lets get to the F1 News:

Felipe Massa has returned to Brazil to continue his recovery from the terrifying injury he suffered during quals for the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

"I know exactly what happened, that a spring came off Rubens' car and hit me on the helmet. I know that something happened to me, but I didn't feel anything when it happened.  They told me that I lost consciousness at the moment of the spring's impact on my helmet and I ran into the barriers, then I woke up in hospital two days later. I don't remember anything, and that's why what the doctors did had to be explained to me," said Massa in a Q&A session with Ferrari's media department.  "I also now have a fondness for celery, and I didn't before."

It seems incredible that he went home only nine days after the incident, and furthermore seems to be well on his way to making a full recovery.  While I hope for his sake that he won't race again this season, it appears likely that he will if all goes as smoothly as it has to date.

His replacement, Michael "Slappy" Schumacher, however, is in a world of hurt.  As expected, his neck is having some problems dealing with the stresses of driving a F1 car.  It doesn't help that he had injured his neck earlier in the year during a motorcycle crash.  Slappy's spokesperson said that "he's still not absolutely certain that his neck will hold up. His return depends on medical examinations which have yet to take place."  He's been running the Ferrari F2007 around the test track at Maranello, which does not violate the in-season test ban. 

Speaking of which, Ferrari is crying 'foul' at the recent decision to not allow Slappy a day's worth of running in the F60, their current chassis.  The teams needed to vote unanimously to allow such a special event, but Williams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso put the kibosh on it. 

Ever the sportsmen, Ferrari replied with "
Guess who opposed the test with the F60?  A team that hasn't won anything for years and yet didn't pass over the opportunity to demonstrate once more a lack of spirit of fair play."  Nice, very nice.  Never mind that Toro Rosso didn't get to run NKOTT before his debut, it's Slappy and Ferrari... of course they think they should be allowed to break the rules.

Finally, Nelson Piquet Jr was finally let go by Renault, surprising absolutely nobody.  What IS surprising is that his father, former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Sr, is being linked to negotiations to take over the BMW F1 team.  Obviously, his son would be given a seat then... which might be the ONLY way he's ever allowed back in a F1 car.

Junior fired back at Renault for axing him by releasing a vitriol-laced statement, which you can read in full here.  Short version: "Flavio Briatore is an assmunch."

Which we knew already.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:36 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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August 03, 2009

Momzerduck In Hospital

Very early this morning, Momzerduck got out of bed and fell over.  She banged her head on the floor, opening a rather sizable cut over her left eye, as well as one on her elbow.  Ph.Duck called the EMTs, who took her to a local hospital.  Turns out she was in the midst of an attack of hepatic encephalopathy, or as I've known it: "one of her spells." (I never knew the medical name)

She'll be at the hospital overnight at least.  I've just gotten home from there, and she looks better than she did when I got there this morning... though that's not saying a whole lot.  Hopefully, she'll be going home tomorrow, though we're still waiting on blood-test results (and a bunch of other tests, to boot) before that call is made.

*sigh*  Here's a picture that's completely unrelated:

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:46 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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August 01, 2009

What's Wonderduck Watching? Summer 2009 Edition

It seems that every anime season in Japan brings with it moans of pain from the American fans.  "There's nothing good," goes the refrain.  "This is the worst season ever."  Inevitably, though, there's at least one or two shows that people discover to be pretty darn good, and many of the rest end up being at least watchable (even in the best of times there's unwatchable shows, too).  It's a twisted circle of life, but it's one that anime bloggers and readers seem comfortable with, on the whole.

But I noticed something odd heading into the Summer 2009: a surprising dearth of "the sky is falling" posts!  There seemed to be a little bit of something for everyone this time around, and a new season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, to boot! 

We're about four weeks into the season, and the long-anticipated Haruhi 2 is widely considered a bust (though not by me, I'm diggin' it), but the rest of the shows are showing a remarkable level of quality.  Instead of "thin slicing" the season, though, I'm just going to cover the programs that have made the cut for me.

So, without further ado, let's answer the burning question "What's Wonderduck Watching?"


Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:44 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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