November 21, 2016

When WoWS Grinds My Gears

I'm still playing World of Warships, though nowhere near as often anymore.  Still, I've managed to break into Tier VI a couple of times while playing almost exclusively against bots.  My first Tier VI ship was the New Mexico, a big, slow, heavily armored US battleship that costs 45000xp stock... no small feat, considering that a good match vs bots will net you ~500xp. 

My second Tier VI ship is the Cleveland, an American light cruiser that holds the distinction of being built in greater numbers than any class of cruiser by any navy ever.  It's a good ship, I just hate it... I just can't get the hang of its rainbow-arc guns... but that's not why I'm here.  Like many Tier VI cruisers, the Cleveland has a "float fighter" on-board that it can launch for limited protection against enemy planes.

In this particular case, it's a non-existent float variant of the Grumman F3F "Flying Barrel."   This cheeses me off something fierce, and it's one of the few things I really dislike about this game: the amount of "Paper Ships" involved... or in this case, "Paper Planes".  There was a perfectly good float fighter out there that they could have used, one that actually existed!

The Grumman F4F-3S "Wildcatfish".  Yup, they basically stapled a pair of floats to the underside of a Wildcat and ran it through testing.  I can only imagine that performance was... well, let's be charitable and call it "lacking."  But who cares?  When you've got a cool nickname like "Wildcatfish", you don't need to be fast or maneuverable.

It was no A6M2-N "Canoe of Destiny" though, I'll tell you what.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:33 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 279 words, total size 2 kb.

June 04, 2016

The Last Divebomber

It had been a very long day already for Norman.  He'd been flying for three hours in search of his target.  If he was very lucky, he'd get to suffer through the full two hour flight back.  The fuel gauge of his plane was telling him that he might get to take a swim instead.  Between then and now, though, he had to do his job while a bunch of other men doing their jobs tried to kill him.  Because the date was June 4th, 1942, Norman was flying a SBD Dauntless dive bomber, he was part of Scouting Six (VS-6), flying from USS Enterprise, and he was about to become a very important part of the Battle of Midway.

His boss, Commander Wade McClusky, led his two squadrons of SBDs down on the Japanese carrier Kaga.  Five of the first six bombs missed, and then it was Norman's turn.  He popped the Dauntless' dive brakes, throttled back the 1000hp Wright Cyclone engine, then went into his dive.  Hanging against his straps, he thought back to his days in training: dive as low as you can before you drop, and aim ahead of your moving target.  He also thought to himself, that big red circle makes a great aiming point...

He didn't release his 500lb bomb until he reached 1000' of altitude... for a dive bomber, point-blank range... and hit 9g's on the pullout, trusting the SBD's sturdy construction wouldn't fall apart under the stress.  It didn't, and he made his escape from the Japanese fleet very low on the deck indeed.  His bomb hit the Kaga's centerline just short of his target point and probably exploded in one of her hangars.  The ship sank later that day.

Norman managed to nurse his Dauntless back to the Enterprise, landing aboard with a mere three gallons of gas left.  Of the 33 SBDs to take off from the carrier that day, only 15 made it back, only 11 of them usable.  Once back aboard, he ate a sandwich and took a nap.  A few hours later came the call for another strike, this time against the sole remaining Japanese carrier, the Hiryu.  Between the Enterprise's surviving SBDs and the Dauntlesses that had landed aboard from the badly damaged Yorktown, 25 planes lifted off, carrying a random assortment of 500lb and 1000lb bombs.

After another long flight, the mixed force of Dauntlesses found their target.  This time, Norman's 1000lb bomb was the fourth and last to hit the Hiryu,  all of them in her bows.  Indeed, he was one of the last to attack, if not the last.  The Hiryu would burn for hours, then sink on her own later.

On June 6th, Norman again found himself diving on a Japanese ship, this time the cruiser Mikuma.

And again, he put his 1000lb bomb on target, becoming the only pilot at the Battle of Midway to score hits on three ships.  For his overall performance at this greatest victory, he would be awarded the Navy Cross.

As it turns out, Midway was Norman's last combat action.  He was transferred stateside where he trained the next generation of dive bomber pilots for the rest of the war.  He served in the Navy for 20 years, retiring with the rank of Captain.  He'd then go on to live a full and rewarding life.

Captain Norman Kleiss, once better known as "Dusty" Kleiss, died this past April 23rd at the age of 100.  He was the last dive bomber pilot to have served at the Battle of Midway to pass away.

Today is the 74th anniversary of Midway. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:34 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 606 words, total size 4 kb.

February 16, 2016

The Chesapeake Raider

By 1912, the US Navy had gotten pretty good at the whole dreadnought thing, more or less.  They'd commissioned six battleships in three classes, carrying either eight or ten 12" guns in four or five twin turrets.  Unlike the Royal Navy or the German Navy which tended to employ "wing" turrets, the US Navy had firmly stuck to putting their turrets on the centerline.  In the case of the South Carolina class of ships, this meant while they only had eight guns, they could all fire to one side or the other.  The original HMS Dreadnought, on the other hand, carried 10 guns: six on the centerline in three turrets, then a wing turret on either side of the superstructure.  Thus both ships could fire eight guns to a broadside, but the SoCar didn't have to carry the extra weight of an extra turret around (note: while it's true that the wing turrets could fire straight ahead or behind, thus giving the Dreadnought an advantage on paper, in practice this was never really done: the gun blasts would damage the ship!).  For the fourth class of US battleship, it was decided that 10 main guns just wasn't enough: twelve were needed.  And thus was the Wyoming-class born.

The name ship of the class, BB-32, was commissioned in September of 1912 and weighed in at just over 27000 tons at full load.  While small for what we now consider a battleship, at the time she was the heaviest ship in the fleet and amongst the heaviest anywhere.  She was the first US ship to incorporate an anti-torpedo bulkhead, and her main armor belt was 11" thick.  Her machinery could scoot her along at a touch over 20kts at 26000hp.  What was uncommon about her was the way her guns were arranged.

Three superfiring turret pairs, all on the centerline: one pair forward of the bridge structure, two pairs aft.  One pair was roughly amidships, the other aft.  In theory, the four rear turrets could all fire directly astern.  In practice?  Well... not so much.  The superfiring midships turret might be able to, the decklevel one would have serious difficulties. 

While I hate to use a videogame representation for this article, good pictures of the ship from the side are hard to come by.  At least this way you can clearly see the positioning of the turrets.  The rear four were all quite capable of firing "over the shoulder", with clear arcs of fire forward.  On the whole, however, the six centerline turret concept can't be considered a success; the extra weight of the turrets, and extra holes pierced through the main deck, put unneeded stress on the body of the ship (the Japanese had similar problems with their Tone-class cruisers, which had five turrets all forward of the bridge).

Once the United States entered World War I, the Wyoming was part of Battleship Division 9.  In late 1917, BatDiv9 reinforced the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, becoming 6th Battle Squadron.  The wartime service proved to be relatively unexciting, and Wyoming returned to home waters in April 1919.  She bounced back and forth between Atlantic and Pacific Fleets until the early '30s, when she was named flagship of the Training fleet and began her life as a "demilitarized" gunnery training vessel: half her main guns were removed, her anti-torpedo bulges and side armor went away as well.  It was at this point she was renumbered as AG-17.

In place of the three removed main turrets, a startling proliferation of smaller guns appeared.  From .50cal machinegun mounts to 5" turrets, the Wyoming trained tens of thousands of sailors in the art of naval gunnery of all sorts as World War II got started.  Homeported in the Chesapeake Bay area (ergo her nickname of "Chesapeake Raider"), she served in this manner until early 1944.  At that time, the last of her 12" guns were removed, replaced instead by more 5" turrets.

With the arrival of the kamikaze threat in the Pacific, the Wyoming became more important than ever, becoming a testbed for anti-kamikaze tactics.  It was in this role that she was employed when the war ended.  She lasted for a couple more years after that, being decommissioned in 1947 and scrapped at the end of that year.  Not so bad for a dreadnought-era vessel, that.

UPDATE: A closeup shows that they're clearly not lights.

Having said that, I'm not entirely sure what's going on here.  To me, they look like baskets with... floats?... in them?  Like what you'd see on fishing nets.  Emergency-use nets, like if they were rescuing survivors they'd throw them over the side to give the survivors something to climb up?  I have no idea...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:50 PM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
Post contains 790 words, total size 6 kb.

Name This Mystery Ship XXXI: Don't Call It A Comeback

It's been over a year since the last time I did one of these, but what the hell, here we go again!

As always, CTX and FDM can't play until I take them off the leash.  Everybody else, remember the rules: no image searching, no google, nuthin' like that.  Just good ol' detective work.  You get one guess, so make it count.  The winner (as declared by me, and my decision is final) will get a post of their very own about anything they want (no pr0n, politics or religion, however) within reason. 

So what are you waitin' for?  Get t' guessin'!

UPDATE: Brickmuppet wins with his text message to the Duckphone late this afternoon.  A post on this ship (at which point, the name will be revealed!) will be up later tonight.  If anybody names the ship before then, I'll be royally peeved, so please don't.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:50 AM | Comments (19) | Add Comment
Post contains 157 words, total size 1 kb.

February 01, 2016

Showboaters

It was late, I was getting tired, and I decided that before I made my way into the embrace of Hypnos, I'd go take a few ships out for a sink in World of Warships (I'd had a run of bad luck recently).  Once I had signed on, I discovered that Avatar was online as well... and shortly thereafter, we had been joined by David.  After a few successful battles, I finally realized that I was on the verge of falling asleep in my chair.  I called for one last fight, but we needed to get some glamour shots of the squadron before we packed it in.  Av and David both agreed.  David brought out his brand-spankin'-new Wyoming-class dreadnought, while Av and I decided to play escort in our St Louises.

click for bigger if you'd like
Since David was both larger and less able to maneuver than our more nimble cruisers (and this is probably the only time you'll hear a St Louis described as "nimble"), the task of getting close fell to us.  Av's declaration that we'd "get close enough to jackstaff cargo" notwithstanding, it proved to be slightly more difficult than I expected.  On the other hand, Avatar's crew was playing frisbee with David's, so what do I know?  For the record, that's Avatar at the top, David in the middle, and yours truly at the bottom.

Closest approach.  Throughout the night, the three of us seemed like we'd been maneuvering together for years.  Indeed, at one point I was in my South Carolina and the other two in St Loo's, and the way the game started put them in front of me.  The game began, Avatar moved a kilometer ahead of David, and I was a klick behind, bringing up the rear.  The appearance of a bad guy off to port made Avatar call for our merry band to head that way... and from my vantage point, all three of us began the 90-degree turn at the same time, and finished the turn at the same time.  Like we had planned it that way, and had drilled in the battle turn together for weeks.  It was really quite cool.

Alas, my position at the left of the formation meant that I was on the "shadow side", and thus all side shots were silhouetted against the setting sun.  I could not pivot my camera around far enough to get a shot from the right side of our band and still get all three of us in the shot.  Fortunately, David took advantage of not having to do anything but motor straight ahead and got some decent shots himself; by all means, click on it for a larger version.  Look at that battleship, all dolled up in a purty camouflage and stuff.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, mostly because the bad guys finally showed up and it was time for us to go to work.  It was a good match, but really, the most fun was our attempt at imitating the Blue Angels in ship form.  We honestly cleaned up, our little band doing a good job while being slightly outnumbered.  Towards the end of the match, however, my discipline broke down as I laid eyes on the one sight every surface skipper wants to see in battle.

"CARRIER!" followed by sadistic chuckling.  Now, this particular carrier had been a pain in the butt all game, so it was with pleasure that I gave it broadside after broadside, setting it ablaze a few times... until I racked up three citadel hits in one volley.  Understand: in WoWS, citadel hits are like hitting a grand slam home run.  A single citadel hit can take half a battleship's HP away.  Three of them at once on a carrier?  Surprisingly, it didn't sink from that, but if I had sneezed on it, it probably would have capsized.  It only took one more hit for it to get all splodey.  Good times, good times.

So why aren't you playing?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:51 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 672 words, total size 5 kb.

January 31, 2016

Battleship, Row!

World of Warships continues to hold my attention, at least to some extent.  Today brought me a new milestone in the game: my first battleship.

As usual, click for biggernation
Yep, it's a South Carolina!  On one hand, first big-gun vessel to have its main armament all on the centerline.  On the other hand, it's only slightly faster than continental drift, some planets have a better turn radius, and its armor is... lets be charitable and call it "insubstantial." 

However, it does make for some pretty screenshots!  That's something I haven't complemented WoWS on yet: how good it looks.  For a free-to-play game, it looks unimaginably pretty.  Back when I was playing text games on my TRS-80 Model III, I never would have thought that games would look like this:

If you're only able to click on one picture to make it bigger, click this one.
Mind you, these pictures aren't from some replay system or cinematic cutscene... nope, this is actual gameplay.  I didn't even notice the gunnery clock on the forward cage mast when I was playing, but yup, it's there!  Just loads of little detailing on these models.  Unfortunately, the first match I played with the ship, I wound up being sunk by the combined firepower of two battleships and a cruiser.  The third match was even worse, as David and Clayton (aka TheSquirrelPatrol and MachineCivilization) and myself found ourselves facing Tier V and VI cruisers, backed by a couple of Kongos.  Outranged from the very beginning of the match, all we could do is close the range as fast as we could, and dodge incoming fire.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say, which is impressive considering my headphones are cranking 'The Outbreak of World War' right now, "I thought you said the South Carolina is slow and can't turn." 

That's right, I did.  Please note, this isn't a screenshot of my South Carolina sinking, but David's.  He at least went down guns blazing.  Me, I exploderated after getting to fire a total of one volley.  I believe those rounds moistened a destroyer.  Perhaps in a few years, the corrosive nature of the salt water I splashed upon the DD will gnaw a hole in it somewhere.  Alas, that was my only contribution to the fight, for it was at that moment the Kongo got in range and suddenly there was a South Carolina-shaped hole in the ocean where my ship had been.

SoCar in better, more intact, times
Hopefully we won't be uptiered quite so badly next time.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:01 AM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 424 words, total size 4 kb.

January 27, 2016

FoF Kongo, WoWS Style


click for biggerness
So as near as I can tell, the Fleet of Fog vessels in World of Warships are simply supercharged versions of their non-FoF counterparts.  Lord knows the guns sure seem to have an extra punch as they turned me into cottage cheese in no time flat.  Non-players of the game might have missed it, but y'all take a close look at the harbor my St Louis is in... it might look awfully familiar. 

It's an enjoyable enough game, but I'm not sure if it's really catching my fancy.  If it was more "realistic", I could see myself going crazy-go-nuts over it, but the arcadey gameplay is a turnoff.  Maybe if I was any good at the game it'd make a difference.  Heh.  As-is, I have no idea how to make it more realistic without making each match hours long, but I'm no game designer.

For which fact we should all be grateful.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:10 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 159 words, total size 1 kb.

August 14, 2015

8/14/1945


Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:32 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1 words, total size 1 kb.

June 04, 2015

Midway Day 2015


It seems fitting somehow that the Blue Angels have been buzzing around Pond Central all day on this, the 73rd anniversary of the US Navy's most important victory.  We all know the story by now... at least, if you've read The Pond for any length of time you do.  In fact, I've written so extensively on the topic that I can't find anything new to write about regarding Midway.  So I open it to you, my readers: do you have any questions regarding the Battle of Midway?  Let me know in comments, and I'll get you an answer.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 03:55 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 101 words, total size 1 kb.

March 02, 2015

IJN Musashi Found

The wreck of the Japanese battleship Musashi, probably the largest battleship ever to go sea, was located today by Billionaire Paul Allen.

That's the first view tweeted out earlier today, of the great ship's bow Imperial Chrysanthemum (which appears to have either fallen off or been covered by sea gunk) as seen from a ROV piloted from Allen's yacht Octopus.  Amazingly, the Octopus, at over 400 feet, is about half the length of the Musashi

At last report, they are still trying to prove conclusively that the ship is the Musashi, but it's very hard to confuse her with anything other than her sister ship Yamato which has been precisely located for years.  We have no real idea about the orientation of the above picture... she could be upside-down on the sea floor for all we know.

We'll find out soon enough... exciting times ahead!!!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:35 PM | Comments (19) | Add Comment
Post contains 148 words, total size 1 kb.

February 10, 2015

Rollercoaster

Just another day in the glorious Pacific Ocean for the USS Lunga Point.

You may also title this "The crew of the USS Lunga Point throws up in unison."

"Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" also works, if you're into that sort of thing.

UPDATE.  No, the Lunga Point hasn't broken in half.  Click "more" to see what's going on in the picture!

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:40 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 205 words, total size 2 kb.

February 01, 2015

Kongo Sisters

As much as we'd like it to be true, I'm afraid that the ships of the Kongo-class of battlecruisers/fast battleships didn't actually look like this:

I know, it's hard to accept.  But we must accept reality... in truth, they looked like this:

There are worse things.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 48 words, total size 1 kb.

December 30, 2014

Torpedo Planes

In the runup to the beginning of World War II, the aircraft carrier began to force itself into the position of "Queen of Battle", wresting the title from the massive guns of the battleship.  As strategies and tactics on how to use the planes the flattops provided began to coalesce, it was generally assumed that the dive bomber, while accurate, would provide support to the true shipkiller: the torpedo bomber.  This thinking makes much sense to a Navy.  After all, when it comes down to it, a bomb punches holes in the decks of a ship, letting in air.  A torpedo, though... a torpedo makes big holes in the side of a ship, letting in water.  Water, while pretty much required for a ship to be a ship, is also not something you want inside your ship.  It causes ships to sink.  Bombs may wreck the upper decks, may set fires, may explode deep inside the hull, but only rarely will they actually be a direct threat to the hull integrity of a warship bigger than a destroyer. 

A torpedo attack was conducted based on the requirements of the dropped weapon itself.  Depending on the nation, a plane may have to fly as low as 50-100 feet and as slowly as 115mph or less to successfully launch the torpedo and have it swim correctly to the target.  Launching outside of those parameters could result in broaching or porpoising, or even the torpedo breaking up upon impact with the water.  Early on, this wasn't considered a problem; most torpedo planes could barely reach 200mph unladen and with a tailwind.  With a 2000lb weapon being lugged around, such lofty velocities were mere dreams.  At the start of the war though, nobody truly understood the sort of murderous anti-aircraft fire a prepared warship could throw up, let alone multiple ships in a layered defense.  Then carriers started to embark modern, effective fighter planes, and torpedo attacks began to become suicide runs.  Only when part of a "combined arms" attack, with dive bombers, torpedo planes, and fighters all arriving on a defended target at the same time, could the crew of a torpedo attacker have a prayer of seeing their bunks that evening.

There were three major torpedo planes flying off of aircraft carriers in the early years of World War II, one each from Japan, the United States, and Britain.  That's not to say there weren't others in use; the Brits had an effective bomber in the Beaufort.  Germany used the He-111, Italy a number of different multi-engine planes, and American PBY Catalinas were known to carry a pair of torps.  However, for the sake of this post, I'll only be looking at the three carrier planes in use: the Fairey Swordfish, the Douglas TBD Devastator, and the Nakajima B5N.

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:57 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
Post contains 1776 words, total size 12 kb.

December 10, 2014

Mayfly

In 1911, the Royal Navy eagerly awaited the official delivery of His Majesty's Airship No.1, infuriatingly nicknamed "The Mayfly".  She was to be the RN's first airship, the largest and fastest in the world.

In pre-delivery tests, the usual panoply of problems were discovered, none of which were unable to be solved.  Except for one tiny difficulty that refused to go away, no matter how hard the crew at Vickers worked at it: she couldn't fly.  Make no mistake, she could float (barely), but nothing more than a tiny amount, and that only in perfect conditions.  She weighed in at 19.5 tons and had the lifting ability of 19.7 tons.  Something had to be done.

There were two options.  The first was obvious: add more lift.  However, "obvious" doesn't mean "easy."  For an airship, it means cutting the beast in half and adding a new section containing more gasbags.  This is also a relatively expensive way of accomplishing the task.  The second option is easier: lighten ship.  Get extra weight out of the hull and you'll be able to fly without changing the amount of gas involved.  Of course, this is what the folks at Vickers decided to do.  They went in and replaced structural members with thinner, lighter pieces... including the main keel.  The day came for a new flight test.

A gust of wind caught the Mayfly as she came out of the hangar, tilting her hard to starboard.  While the groundcrew struggled to roll her back over, she snapped in half.  As her crew abandoned ship, the two ends rose in a V-shape, ironically proving that cutting the internal weight down fixed her flight problems.  Soon enough, however, the Mayfly settled into the waters at Barrow-in-Furness.

Fortunately, none of the crew was injured, and British airship development went into something of a dark period.  It took five years for HMA.09 to take to the air, under the guiding hand of designer HB Pratt, who had predicted the failure of the Mayfly.  Pratt's main assistant was a young man named Barnes Wallis, who wound up with a successful career designing unconventional bombs.  He was the designer of the "Dambuster" bouncing bomb, as well as the "Tallboy" and "Grand Slam" weapons.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:27 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 373 words, total size 3 kb.

December 07, 2014

73 Years Later

The USS Arizona looking glorious in pre-war white, some years from her ultimate fate in Hawaii.

It was 73 years ago today when the United States was plunged into the maelstrom of World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was 73 years ago today that Arizona became more than just a ship to the American people, but a symbol to rally around.

Which doesn't mean it wasn't more than that to those who served upon her.  To them, the Arizona was home, their shipmates brothers.

Today, there is a memorial to the Arizona in Pearl Harbor, but most moving is that the ship is still leaking... some melodramatically say bleeding, or weeping... oil into the waters entombing the ship.

Today is likely the last official meeting of the USS Arizona Survivors Association.  There are only nine names remaining on the Association's list, none of them younger than 93.  Four survivors are in attendance today at Pearl Harbor's ceremonies.

Soon, the phrase "Remember Pearl Harbor" will be all we can do; those who were THERE will be gone.  Time marches on.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:00 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 186 words, total size 2 kb.

October 17, 2014

The Buffaloes of Finland

It is an article of faith that the worst fighter plane of WWII was the Brewster F2A Buffalo.  It's pretty difficult to contest this assertion: in the single true fight it was in, the Battle of Midway, it was essentially massacred by the Imperial Japanese Navy's A6M2 Zero, much the same way a high school team would be by the Chicago Bears.  "It is my belief that any commander that orders pilots out for combat in a F2A-3 Brewster Buffalo should consider the pilot as lost before leaving the ground" reads one Marine after-action report.  After Midway, the barrel-shaped plane was relegated to trainer status, then to mechanic training.  Its passing was unmourned, its memory one of ridicule and scorn.  The British and Dutch, who also received versions of the Buffalo, felt similarly.

It fell to the Finnish Air Force to give the Buffalo its taste of glory.

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:54 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 813 words, total size 6 kb.

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
Post contains 569 words, total size 4 kb.

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.

August 08, 2014

"Girls" of the Kancolle Video

I probably should have done this last night, but I was too busy taking cold showers to do so.  There are three Ship Girls shown in the video for Kantai Collection (or "Kancolle"), and I pretty much had no idea who they were.  I mean, I know about the game, but I've never played and know nothing about how or when you acquire the shipgirls.  Which isn't to say that I couldn't figure out some stuff on my own, or with a bit of research!

Obviously the first we see is an aircraft carrier, and I'll admit that on her, I cheated: I already knew the answer.  She's the Akagi, the first full-sized carrier the IJN put to sea.

Ms Akagi is also one of the more popular shipgirls in the game, I gather, and has a figma coming out in September.  But what of the second girl, the battleship?  Well, I made a startling leap of faith considering we're talking about a game where the ships are young women, but I said to myself that they'd try and be historical about this.  First, they'd have a ship that was fast enough to actually keep up with the carrier. Second, I assumed they'd have the correct amount of turrets.

That led, inexorably, to the only class of battleship the IJN had that fulfilled both criteria: the Kongo-class "fast battleships."  Originally built as battlecruisers, refitted with more and better armor to upgrade their status before WWII, I guessed we were looking at the first-in-class (like Ms Akagi).  As it turns out, I was right: Ms Kongo it was.  Which brings us to the third shipgirl.  I had absolutely nothing to go on whatsoever except for one quick shot.

The fishhook maneuver for the girl on the right told me she was a destroyer.  She's clearly getting out of the way of the two big'uns, maybe after firing her torpedoes the way the IJN calls for.  Either way, great, she's a destroyer.  The IJN had thirty-quadzillion destroyer classes.  I had no idea which one she was... except that I did.  See, I knew that the "star" of the show was going to be Fubuki... which, curiously enough, was the name of the first-in-class of the first what we'd call "modern destroyer" design.

So there we have it.  Akagi, Kongo and Fubuki.  I've since read somewhere that these are some of the first shipgirls you can collect in Kancolle, so that makes sense too.  I guess I'm surprised they didn't have one of the splendid Japanese cruiser designs in the video, but I'm not complaining by any means!  January can't get here soon enough.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:05 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 446 words, total size 3 kb.

July 03, 2014

Now THIS Is A Helluva Picture


That is one of the Mutsu's main turrets after salvaging post-war.  The ship was in harbor in 1943 when it apparently killed itself, suffering a massive internal explosion that cut it in half.  Only some 350 men out of a complement of nearly 1500 survived.  The two aft turrets were salvaged in 1970-71.

What an amazing picture.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:03 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 63 words, total size 1 kb.

<< Page 2 of 9 >>
188kb generated in CPU 0.15, elapsed 0.2499 seconds.
61 queries taking 0.1267 seconds, 368 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.