September 17, 2014

The Decoy Game

It was 1945, and the good news was that the end of the Pacific War was near and everybody in the US knew it.  The bad news, however, was that it seemed like the Japanese didn't know it, and still thought they could come out of the situation with something like a victory.  Places like Okinawa and Iwo Jima made it clear to US military planners that the inevitable invasion of Japan was going to be a horrible bloodbath, and that was just on the Allied side.  The catastrophe it would bring down upon the Japanese military could not be described, and the civilian costs could not be imagined.  It was expected that whatever fleet moved to invade the Home Islands was going to find itself swamped by thousands of kamikaze, and if one out of ten made it through the Big Blue Blanket, the Invasion force could die before it ever set foot on land.

So the planners decided: let's have a decoy fleet!  It can mimic the radio broadcasts of an actual invasion force, and the appearance, without all those pesky potential casualties.  Once everybody stopped laughing, someone said, "no, really."  With nothing better to do, it was decided to see if it could actually work. 

Sub Chaser PC-449 was a one-off ship, being built as part of a design competition to replace the WWI-era PC-1 sub chaser class.  She tipped the scales at about 85 tons, and could move her 110' length along at a whopping 17kts.  Built in 1940, she went to sea with 27 souls.  Her hull classification changed to SC-449 in 1943 and she carried a 3" gun to complement her depth charge launcher.  She was a particularly small ship to go in harm's way aboard.  She was also, if truth be told, surplus to requirements; it's not like there weren't literally hundreds of other ships in the US Navy that could do her job.  So in 1945, she was selected to go into the shipyards as part of Operation Swiss Navy.  Her part of the job?  To become a Bogue-class CVE.

The shipyard (okay, probably just a few guys with hammers) stripped off everything above decks (guns, bridge, stacks, etc) and put a plywood "flight deck" overtop of everything.  The overall size of the ship can been seen when you realize that there's a man crouching next to the "island" and he's the same height.  So, yeah, it's nigh on 500 feet shorter than an actual CVE, who's it going to fool?

Operation Swiss Navy was eventually going to include battleships, cruisers, carriers, all of them based on sub chasers or other small craft.  Of course, there's no way it'd look right next to a real CVE... much too small, obviously... but amongst others of her own kind?  Imagine you're a frightened kamikaze pilot, prepared to die, on your last flight.  You're trying to grow another set of eyes as you look for Hellcats and you suddenly see, far below you... PC-449.  You'd think it was a full-sized carrier, wouldn't you?

The Invasion of Japan never happened, so Operation Swiss Navy never came to flower. After the war, PC-449 was sold to a the civilian sector, where she ended her life as a research vessel for Texas A&M.  She was finally scrapped in the '70s... one of the last CVEs to go to the breakers... and certainly the smallest.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:20 PM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
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September 16, 2014

Name This Mystery Ship XXX: Adults Only!

There are milestone moments in the life of... well, anything!  A child walking for the first time, a car reaching 100,000 miles, a baseball player getting his first hit in the majors, one's first rubber duck, one's second rubber duck, one's third rubber duck... you get the idea.  I can't help but feel that with this, the 30th "Mystery Ship" entry, The Pond has reached some sort of milestone in and of itself.  But enough of this woolgathering!  Here, for your enjoyment, is the Mystery Ship:

As always, no image searches or googlereversi or anything like that.  It's supposed to be difficult, y'see.  However, I am of the opinion that the prize is worth the candle: one free post on any topic you care to name (no pr0n, religion or politics, please)!  One guess per person.  Post no bills.  Burma Shave.

As always, FDM and CTX are unable to play for 24 hours or my say-so, whichever comes first.  Everybody else, have at it!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:21 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 171 words, total size 1 kb.

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