February 27, 2012

My Lexington Story

A couple of weeks ago, I'm walking up the hill from the main parking lot to the Duck U Bookstore trying to avoid the worst of the slippery spots, when a late-model Chrysler sedan pulled into one of the handicapped spots by the door.  The driver, an elderly woman, began to get out of the car as I changed course to help her if need be.  I glanced at the license plate, noticed the car's color, and began to laugh long and hard.

The woman shot me a nasty look, and I realized she probably thought I was laughing at her, not what I had just noticed.  Unable to speak from laughing so hard, I did what I could: I pointed at the license plate, then waved my hand vaguely towards the rest of the car.  Then she realized that I got the joke... and smiled, saying "Most people don't understand." 

Chuckling, I offered her my arm, which she took gratefully.  Walking into the school building the Bookstore is located in, I inquired when her husband had been in the Navy.  "1944; I didn't meet him until 1950, when I was 20."  Her husband passed away a couple of years ago, but she still kept the license plate the way he wanted it.  After we got into the building, I bid her good day... and she thanked me for both my help and for remembering my history.  "He would have talked your ear off, you know.  He could do that," she said with a gleam in her eye.  I replied with "I've got two," which made her laugh.

What made me laugh so much to begin with?  The license plate read "CV 16 USN".  The car was painted dark blue.

CV-16 was better known as USS Lexington, one of the multitude of Essex-class carriers that joined the fleet in the second half of the Pacific War.  She was the only fleet carrier never to have pattern-disrupting camouflage applied to it, wearing instead Measure 21 ("Navy Blue" hull and deck overall) for the entire war.  This paint scheme led the Japanese to give her the nickname "The Blue Ghost."

They also claimed to have sunk her four times.  While she did take some damage during the war, it was never particularly serious.  Post-war, she continued to serve until 1991, the last of the Essex-class carriers to be retired.  She's now a museum ship in Corpus Christie, Texas.

CXT figured out the mystery ship, so he gets another post...

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February 26, 2012

Name This Mystery Ship XIII

Here we go again!  One neat thing about this ship is that I've got a personal story to tell about it...

As usual, no imagesearch or anything like that.  I may not be able to prevent you from doing it, but you're less of a human being for doing so.  As is usual, the first to accurately name the ship will get a post on a topic of their choice, as long as it doesn't involve religion, politics or pr0n.

I'll tell the story when an accurate ID is made.  Good luck!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:36 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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February 23, 2012


The single most famous picture from WWII was taken some 67 years ago today.  The sad thing is that most people today don't realize that this wasn't the end of the fighting... oh no.  Two of the men in the picture were dead a week later.  A third was killed a few weeks after the first two.  The island of Iwo Jima was declared secure over a month after Joe Rosenthal took the picture.

27 Medals of Honor were earned at Iwo Jima, 13 posthumously.  22 of the Medals were issued to US Marines, nearly 30% of all Medals of Honor earned by Marines in WWII.

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February 22, 2012

The Shelf

You may remember that a few days ago, I had some broadband issues.  The powers that be sent a technician to the apartment complex, so as to discover just what was going on.  I gather they found nothing out of the ordinary, so the technician came into Pond Central to investigate.  When I got home some hours later, there was a note on my door, saying that there was a signal strength issue and the tech needed access to the cable outlet.  I groaned at this; the cable outlet is behind a bookcase in my living room... a bookcase overfilled with books.  While I knew this was going to be three different levels of hell to deal with, I did realize that I had been presented with a great opportunity.  For years, I've meant to get all my military history books out of my bedroom and into one of the big bookshelves in the living room... well, here was my chance! 

I should have known better.  Almost every time there's a broadband connection problem, the techs say there's a signal strength issue.  As I was getting the books out of the bookcase, my broadband connection came back.  Yay, I guess.  Still, I wasn't going to just fill the thing back up again, in case there really was a problem (for once), so I let it sit for the weekend... and the books that had been in it stacked high on my coffee table.  While it made watching TV a little difficult (read: impossible), and folding laundry a  challenge (read: are you kidding?), I put up with it until Monday.

That night, I came home from the Duck U Bookstore, changed into the grubbiest clothes I had, and began moving books from the bedroom to the living room.  Grubby, because some of them were going to be dusty as all get-out.  It took an hour, and I still haven't gotten around to organizing them other than by size, but I now have my military history reference library all in one place, where I can easily peruse them.  Before this, they were in three different bookcases AND stacked on a dresser in four piles AND stacked on top of two other bookcases.  Yeah, this works much better.

The top of the bookcase is devoted to either paperbacks (for example, "Zero!" by Martin Caidin, though my edition is substantially older than the one linked to, or "Climax at Midway" by Thaddeus Tuleja, in fact the very edition shown, for which I need to thank Uncle JoeDuck) or quick reference books from Salamander.  Those titles, and the others like it from B&N Press, are what I term bathroom reference books, because... well, that should be obvious, shouldn't it?  They aren't for in-depth research, but they often provide a good starting point for things that end up on The Pond.  Indeed, my post on HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney, The Misfit Battleships, had its genesis exactly that way.

The bottom shelf is full of Tom Clancy, both fiction and non-fiction.  They make a good solid weight for the rest of the bookcase.  Also down there are two editions of Norman Polmar's "Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet" (the 14th and 15th, in case you're curious).  While I'd kill to have some Jane's Fighting Ships in here, they're just too expensive (though this one is reasonable... which makes me wonder why). 

In between the top and bottom is the heart and soul of The Pond's Military History category.  I haven't quite figured out how I intend to organize them yet... do I alphabetize by author?  Arrange by category (with Midway books on top)?  By size?  By spine color?  The world wonders.  If you want to take a closer look at The Collection, click on the picture for a much larger version, one where you can actually read the spines. 

Having it all in one place for the first time ever is... wow, quite daunting, actually. 

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February 12, 2012

What If...? #5: Opening The Locks

Admiral Osami Nagano walked into the meeting room with an ashen look on his face.  Taking his seat at the head of the table, he looked less like the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy's General Staff, and more like the weak leader some thought he was.  With a shaken tone to his voice, he brought the meeting to order.  "Gentlemen, I've been informed that the aircraft carrying Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto on his inspection tour of the Solomon Islands... has been shot down.  He is confirmed dead."  As the rest of the General Staff reacted to this grim news, he continued.  "Admiral Ugaki survived, but is seriously injured."  He looked around the table.  "Coming so soon on the heels of our losses.. no, let's call them what they are, our defeats, at Midway and that damnable 'Starvation Island', this is another terrible blow.  Reports are that the first of the new American aircraft carriers is nearing completion, soon to be followed by a half-dozen more.  Gentlemen, unless something is done quickly, the unstoppable tide will soon sweep over us and wash us away.  Do any of you have any plans that can balance the ledger sheet in our favor?"

Silence fell over the table.  Nagano looked at the assembled General Staff with something approaching horror on his face.  "Nothing?  Was Yamamoto the only one of us with an imagination?"  At that goading, many of the militaristic hardliners flushed angrily but remained quiet.  From the far end of the table, a quiet yet confident voice, loud in the nearly silent room, said "There is a plan we have been working on...."

When one thinks of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II, one undoubtedly thinks of the aircraft carriers of the Kido Butai, or the massive battleships Yamato and Musashi.  More thoughtfully, one might consider the deadly efficient force of cruisers they put to sea or their squadrons of destroyers, considered by many to be the best of the War.  Yet only rarely would any consider sparing a thought to the IJN's submarines, unless it was to react in horror to the kaiten manned torpedoes fielded as a counterpoint to the kamikaze.  This is a mistake, as the Japanese submarine force was interestingly varied, not to mention fairly successful in their generally assigned role of warship hunters.  Japanese submarines sank as many American fleet carriers (two, Yorktown and Wasp) as their conventional naval air did (Lexington and Hornet). 

On the whole, Japanese submarines were inventive and cleverly designed, if perhaps ill-used.  Without a doubt, however, there was one surprising class of submarine where they were the unquestioned best in the world.


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February 04, 2012

Name This Mystery Ship XII

Might be a fun one this time... or it might be ridiculously easy.  It'll be one of the two, for sure.

Usual rules apply: no Imagesearch or anything like that.  I can't do anything about it, but your victory will be tainted and hagridden.  If you DO win, you get a post on a topic of your choice!  While I don't do politics, religion or pr0n (other than F1 Pr0n), anything else is fair game.

So get your guessin' shoes on!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:44 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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