June 22, 2010

Wolverine Followup

About a month ago, I wrote about the world's only freshwater paddlewheel carriers, the USS Wolverine and her sister ship the USS Sable.  A couple of days ago the Official First Friend of The Pond, Vaucaunson's Duck, sent me an e-mail, wondering if I'd seen the video?

Video?  Of the Wolverine?  Baby!  Turns out it was from a Pathé newsreel, which you can see here.  "Yankee ingenuity" indeed.  But that got me wondering... is there any more video of the Wolverine or the Sable out there that I didn't find the first time?

Turns out, the answer would be "yes!"


Avengers and Hellcats in that clip, a wave-off and a barrier crash, too.  The wave-off gives you a sense of just how small the two IX carriers really were; the Avenger looks like it won't fit on the deck, let alone land safely.

From that clip, I wandered around a bit, and found a link on another video to a blog devoted entirely to the paddlewheel carriers, aptly titled The Paddle Wheel Aircraft Carriers.  It hasn't been updated in about a year, but boy, do I wish I had found it when I was doing my earlier post.  Particularly because of this post which has a link to another video.

The internet... is there anything it can't do?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:27 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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June 03, 2010

June 3, 1942: The Battle Begins

Conventional wisdom says that the Battle of Midway began on June 4th, 1942.  Just as the conventional wisdom that says that the Japanese carriers were five minutes from launching a devastating attack on the US carriers is incorrect, this too is wrong.  The Battle of Midway actually began on June 3rd.  To be sure, all the dramatic parts of the fight occurred the following day, but the two opponents started throwing armament at each other on the third day of June.

Nine B-17s took off from the runways of Midway's Eastern Island around 1230pm on June 3rd.  After a flight of about three hours, they found the transports of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Midway Occupation Force, tasked to effect the actual invasion of the atoll, approximately 500 miles to the west.  The B-17s claimed multiple hits on the lumbering transports, though managed none whatsoever, despite a total absence of CAP and effective antiaircraft fire.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles or more to the northeast of Midway, two light carriers of the IJN (the Ryujo and the Junyo)  launched an attack on Dutch Harbor, Alaska.  12 Zero fighters, 10 Val dive bombers and 10 Kate torpedo bombers (operating in horizontal bombing mode) lifted off from the tiny flight decks in miserable weather.  This attack caused minor damage to oil storage tanks and the local radio station, while some bombs hit the barracks of Ft Mears, killing 25 soldiers.

The attack on the Aleutian Islands has often been called a diversionary assault, intended to draw out the American fleet from Pearl Harbor.  It turns out that that is not the case.  Both the attack on Midway and the attack on the Aleutians were supposed to begin on June 3rd, but the carrier fleet tasked for the Midway part of the attack were delayed by a day by refueling problems.

Late in the night of June 3rd, four PBY flying boats of Patrol Squadron 44 took off from the seaplane base at Midway, headed for the Occupation Force.  Early the next morning, one of them put a torpedo into the bows of the fleet oiler Akebono Maru.  Damage was relatively light, and the ship continued underway with little delay.  This was the only successful torpedo attack by the Americans for the entire battle.

The opening volleys of the most decisive naval victory in history had been fired; the next day would belong to the carriers.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:01 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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