Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Basic Tools for Researchers

I have been on at least six trips to archives outside of my state (I.E. involving a significant investment in money and time) and countless trips to the NARA Seattle branch near where I live. I've built up what I consider a good set of tools to research with. Some may fall under the "duh!" category but some may surprise you. They are based loosely on a necessity/nice to have scale:

1) Laptop & scanner:

This might be the "Duh!" I mentioned earlier but it may also be a new concept for some, so it is at the top of the list. A researcher can reproduce documents at various archives (speaking of more than just the National Archives), but usually at cost. If one plans several tips where copies are going to be made, it may very well be a cost savings to buy these up front. Primarily though, it just gives you a better foundation to work with and makes it easier to use your research; you can back it up, trade it, send it to a publisher, etc., fairly easy in digital form.

The laptop does not need to be anything fantastic as it's main function is a scan engine. Choose something reliable and to to taste; perhaps you like a bigger screen or smaller, more compact design. One thing to keep in mind is USB capacity; my Dell Latitude has four ports and there are times when I've used all of them (scanner, mouse, USB memory, headset). Hard drive space is something to consider; will the laptop be your primary storage area or will you keep copies elsewhere, such as a home computer or external hard drive. My preferred image format is tif, and my collection of research is over 150 gigs.

Scanners: multiple flavors with different abilities and costs. My current tool is a Microtek that was a gift from my wife. It is not as portable or rugged as the Canon LIDE 30 I used previously, but the bundled OCR software more than makes up for it with its better recognition of text (To be honest, it's a couple of years newer than the software that was bundled with the Canon).

I'm a big fan of the Canon line as they are compact and don't need a separate power cord. A couple of things to be aware of, however. In my experience the Canons have an extremely narrow focal point and the edge is raised; this means that if you have a photo with any sort of curl or ripple to it you have to take care to firmly press it down or you will have areas that are blurred and out of focus. Since it has a plastic "glass" plate, there were times when I was pressing down on areas too hard and bowing the scanner plate down such that it contacted the scanner arm as it passed. The raised lip mentioned above may be an annoyance when scanning documents larger than the scanner plate to digitally stitch together later.

Along with that, notes are crucially important. You may come across something that you don't have time to scan in now but might in the future and you will definitely want to make it quick to grab. Some people prefer to save things based on the subject, I.E. they will create a folder structure something like "US Navy/Battleships/North Carolina" but I prefer to keep my documents in the original structure I found them in, something like "Settle NARA/Ship Files/Box 4/BB55 (Folder 1 of 5)." This is purely personal preference but I find it helps me retain some familiarity with the records structure and provides a bit of a backup in case I lose my spreadsheet (Not bloody likely!) The Spread sheet I have organized with different tabs on the bottom for different Archives (I.E. College Park, Seattle, San Bruno, Laguna Niguel) and then three columns set so that I can print them out if I need a hard copy without cutting off any text. I create a row or two where needed that lists the Accession (I.E. Ship Files 1940-50, declasssification review #12345) and then underneath that the left most column is the box number, then the second is the folder, and the third and most wide is the notes. If I have too many notes for one line I copy the folder down, indent it and add "(Continued)" and then write more. This excel spread sheet is THE MOST important document I have; I keep multiple backups so that even if my house and the office I keep an off-site backup burns down and both copies of my scans are lost I still know where I found stuff and can at least go back and get it. Additionally, things that I've seen but not scanned in can be used in trade; perhaps you have contacts with another researcher who wants to research a topic; I have traded information in the past.

Well, that went a little longer than expected....

2) Digital Camera:

Depending on what you are after this may make a better tool than a scanner. I have known researchers after bulk documents to use a camera for the speed. If you are only after a deck log and know that you have 1,000 sheets to do, will a scanner that takes 20-30 seconds per scan or a camera that takes a second or two per shot work better? Additionally, in some cases items that are too large for the scanner can be easily photographed.

3) USB Memory Drive or external hard drive.:

Once you have the data, how do you protect it? If you spend $500 and a week on a research trip, what is the value of what you find, and what does it "cost" if you lose it? I typically travel with my laptop and a 16 gig USB Memory stick. Once the day's scanning is over I COPY the scans on to the USB drive so that I have a backup right then and there. Once home, Copies go on to the home work station and an external hard drive that mostly stays off-site. Copies of my afore-mentioned spread sheet are saved to all four, plus a copy on a server that is out of state. The 16 gig memory stick was a cheap investment in 2009 of $40.

4) Mental Diversion:

With the extended hours some archives have, it is possible to spend up to 60 hours in 5 days researching. If you are doing research that requires mental acuity I believe it pays to bring along something to keep your mind as fresh as possible. Since rubber chickens are disallowed, it's usually easiest to set up something on the computer, be it some music (using headphones of course) or something like solitaire. Don't be afraid to get up and walk around too; a five minute break will work wonders.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mind Eraser, No Chaser

Proof-reading while sick and foggy is always an interesting experience.... I'm on page 8 of the Passive defense, about 24 of 98 paragraphs (they're numbered; I didn't count them). Little behind where I'd like to be, but I'm taking my wife and her puppy down to their first dog show tomorrow and am anticipating a little time then, if I can keep my mind focused. We'll be hitting the Centralia Veterans Memorial Museum on the way back, which I've seen for a couple of years but have never been able to visit. I've been mulling over adding a museum section to the site as I have hit up quite a few and taken pictures.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This month's haul

Not a lot of progress over the last couple of days with the Passive Defense proof reading, but yesterday was NARA Saturday so I do have some news there. One of the earlier finds was this memo from King Neptune that I was able to OCR and work up while waiting for other scans to run. I have a 35 page document on refueling instructions from 1942 that will hopefully be helpful to the modelers out there. Nothing else earth shattering, but there will be some additions to the Miscellaneous section in the future.

One of the other researchers was having scanner issues.. Not fun when you are on a limited time research trip.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Passive Defense Progress

I have mentioned Passive Defense before, and I've got a progress report for those interested. There are three parts to the Passive Defense Camouflage folder in Seattle NARA; the initial handbook, a supplement regarding camouflage paint, and a two-page memo with color chips in camouflage colors for fuel tanks. The first one has all of the text and figures done and just needs the color chips added and 50 pages of proofreading. The supplement has the textual pages done, but not all of the figures, and I haven't started the fuel tank memo at all. Still on track for a January release.

All of these will be linkable, so if you want to link to the section on the "Importance of Indirect Observation" for an online discussion you'll be able to.

In other camouflage news, I should be taking delivery of a large collection of US Navy camouflage documentation from Ron Smith later this year, which will hopefully expand the camouflage section quite a bit.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I've had Google Analytics on my site for a bit now, and it's interesting to watch the results. For the last month, and fairly consistently before that, the top "page" on the site is the root, or main, front page. The Ship's index is second, and San Francisco's Damage report is third.

I had 1,703 unique visits last month, and of those the largest percentage (204) had no source (I.E. they came from bookmarks or favorites. 232 came from Google searchers, and 222 came from Navsource links. The two big ship modeling sites, ModelWarships and SteelNavy, sent me 154 and 103 respectively, 98 came from Google Image searches, and 97 from Wikipedia links. 86 came from Yahoo and 39 from Bing. Stats read that 15% came from direct sources, 23% from search engines, and 62% from links from other sites.

Almost 1,200 of the visitors were from the US, with Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany rounding out the top 5. Of the United States, the top five were California, Washington, Virginia, New York, and Texas. Lowest was New Mexico, with two.

Average visitor viewed 4 pages on their visits and spent just over three minutes on my site. 71% of the visitors were new and had not been before.

57% of the visitors were using Internet Explorer, with 44% of them being on version 8, 37% on seven, and the pitiful rest on on IE6 (for shame!). Firefox was the second largest at 30% with Safari in third place at 5% and Chrome at 2%. 87% of my visitors are running windows, about 7% are on Macs, and the balance are on an assortment of *nix and smart phone OS's.

I size most of my pages no more than 800 pixels wide; 3% are running 800 x 600 and the top five are 1024 x 768 (33%), 1280 x 1024 (14%), 1280 x 800 (11%), 1400 x 900 (9%) and 1680 x 1050 (7%).

About 71% of my visitors are on broadband, 3% are on dial up, and 23% are "unknown." I spend a lot of time making my code as clean and small as possible for the dial up people; I hope y'all appreciate it!

Of the broadband, 9% are on Comcast (that statistic may be skewed as I am on Comcast and hit the site regularly to proofread, etc.), 7% are on Roadrunner, 5% are on Verizon's network, and 2.5% are on Bellsouth. The rest is incredibly fragmented.

It may be boring as hell but I find it interesting....

Updates are up and linked to, if you could make it through the above post ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prepare to repel boarders!

One of the fun things to me doing research is the contacts that are made and the information shared. One of the first was John Fitzgerald, who was the archivist at Seattle NARA in charge of Navy Records, amongst other things, when I first started researching there. John has since moved on, but we keep in touch, and when he comes across things in his research that he feels are interesting, he'll photograph them and send them on if he's got the time.

This is one such document; a history of the Destroyer Escort DE-51 Buckley written in October of 1945. She was an interesting ship, and this provides some more information than her Dictionery of American Naval Fighting Ships entry.

Special thanks to John for sending it to me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weird Duck.

One of the things that once bothered me took place in 8th grade history; I had for some reason not been able to eat lunch at the normal time and was eating my turkey sandwich. Only when I was halfway through did I realize that the footage of a german WWII death camp that was playing on the TV featured humans whose flesh looked about as colorful as the turkey I was eating. I wasn't disturbed by this as much as the realization that I could eat while watching emancipated bodies being pushed into mass graves.

To this day, I can still watch footage of war's aftermath without revulsion. I should clarify that; the results are certainly revolting, but it does not turn my stomach or make me feel ill. On the other hand, it is also not something I enjoy; it is just an acknowledgment of war's brutality and horror.

So I find myself bothered tonight, watching The History Channel's WWII in HD, that they've blurred out *some* of the carnage. While describing the Japanese civilian suicides at Saipan, there were areas where the viewer can see dead bodies and bits smashed against the rocks, there are areas that are blurred out. One clip shows a woman's bloody, disfigured face, but most of her body is blurred out.

I believe this does a disservice to history, thus increasing the odds it will repeat itself.

We don't have a weapon that wins wars by making the enemy neatly and cleanly lie down. We are still hacking and rending bodies apart, just with fancier and more expensive weapons. A guided missile still explodes into tiny pieces that seek to smash and tear an airplane enough that it cannot function.

We still, even in this "modern" day and age, smash, tear, and destroy when we fight each other. If you don't show the FULL horror of war, people will forget how horrible it is and it will be less likely that there will be restraint and efforts to avoid it in the future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ops Check Good!

As I wrote back in September I was only able to get half of the BuOrd manual for the 1.1" due to time... I went back last month to try and finish it off and the scanner jammed internally just after finishing the first scan.

This was not happy for a couple of reasons; the obvious being that the rest of the day and therefore month's research was pretty much shot. Second, I had disassembled the thing after returning from San Bruno to remove dust that had accumulated internally after a year and a half of scanning NARA records (Note: they don't vacuum the records: expect dust & dirty and disgusting looking white gloves by the end of the day. Bring a mask if you're allergic to dust), so there was the possibility I had damaged it in the process and would need to tell my wife the present she got me was dead.

Thankfully, it turns out there was simply a nut loose on the keyboard. Scanners have a locking mechanism to keep the head secure during transportation and I am not above forgetting to unlock the scanner when setting up. In this case I heard it start to have troubles when I did the first scan and quickly unlocked it, but apparently not all the way and the head pressed into the locking mechanism as it returned and cocked itself enough to jam. I opened it a second time tonight and was able to free it and make some test scans to ensure that it worked multiple times.

So I should be good to go for this Saturday's session, which is a full day due to the IPMS Seattle meeting being pushed back to the third Saturday. Wish that happened more often....

Finished a document on Mk 49s for December and have Kearny's initial Damage report (photos submitted to Navsource a while ago) well under way. That should allow me to get a handbook on shore based facility camouflage (useful for shipyards, airbases, etc.) going for a January posting. I'm trying to work into a schedule of two shorts and one long alternating every other month for a bit so that I can slam out the short ones and then give myself a month and a half or so for the longer ones. We shall see. The 1.1" booklet looks like it might be pretty quick to do as well, so I might try for that one soon as well.

Friday, November 6, 2009


FINALLY have finished getting all of the text into this beastie. While it's not as large as some I've done, it had by far the most amount of table work to get it to lay out the same as the original. This was the document that got me musing on growth last month; at nearly 125k it will take someone running a 56k modem nearly 20 seconds to get the whole thing.

This is the US fleet at the start of 1941. By and large the organization is the same as it was later, when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. It also contains information on turret tops and scout aircraft colors and will be linked to from the Turret Tops page. It's also... NOT PROOFREAD!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I created my first web page back some time in the fall of 1995. It was just a handy place to post all my bookmarks since I didn't have my own PC at the time and was bouncing around from machine to machine in the student computer labs. Notepad was OK, for a bit, but then I came across editors that catered to people who wrote web pages and quickly settled on DerekWare, as it worked and was free. I ran into a problem a year or so later when I was typing along and all of a sudden the cursor stopped moving; I had reached a previously unknown file size maximum limit of 21k.

That led me back to notepad for a bit as I searched around; eventually I settled on (then Macromedia, now Adobe) Homesite and have been using it ever since. Being a modem user for as long as I had, I've always prided myself on writing tight code that took the minimum time to download, but even with that some of the documents I've been working on over the last couple of years have approached sizes just in code and text that I would have cringed at in years past for the total of code, text, and images.

Broadband use has grown over the last decade as well, so that according to Google Analytics just under 3% of my viewers are still on dial up. I still try and keep it as tight and clean as possible, however, because not only are some people still on dial up, I believe more people will be browsing on their phones in the future.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Going Away Party

It looks like Boeing is about to start a second 787 line in South Carolina. I grew up in the shadow of Boeing and am sad to see them continue to leave Washington. I rather enjoy the amount of aerospace we have here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Picked up copies of Floating Drydocks 1970s-era camouflage books this week. Not knocking the research they did at all, I just find it interesting how far we've come in what we now know, and yet there is still so much we don't know for sure. We are able to do a higher fidelity research now because of what was done in the past and the records that have been declassified since then.

Back when I reviewed Squadron Signal's DD/DE Camouflage book, someone asked why I didn't just write my own instead of "trashing" someone else's. I hadn't given it any thought really because two friends of mine had already mentioned plans to do so themselves, but with one fairly assuredly canceled and the other essentially vaporware, it took me aback and I've been mulling it over... or rather, keeping my eyes on the possibility.

There are things I don't know enough about yet to do what I consider to be a credible job. Some of the dynamics of the early war politics between Admiral King and others, as well as the amphib green schemes and dazzle schemes are topics I would like to know more about before I attempt to describe them to others. But it is a tempting project with all I've come across.

Finished the ships section of the document I'm working on now and just have to finish the Marine Corps list and proofread. It's a 1940 memo detailing the organization of the fleet as of the 1st quarter of 1941 and should provide a good overview of the US fleet at the time of the US Entry into the second world war. Not sure what I'll work on after that, I've been focused on this one so long I've forgotten some of the goodies I'd planned on popping in the queue. Got to get some stuff done in November though as Left 4 Dead 2 is less than a month away!

Strange that a guy who doesn't like zombie movies enjoys a game patterned after them....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Yeah, colds are great for productivity...

I had meant to post regularly during my recent trip to San Bruno but events transpired against me. Randy from ShipCamouflage.com showed for two days of research, but came down on Monday afternoon, so he was there for three nights. Of course, we had to go out for dinner and some fun each night, and by the time thursday evening came around I was just wiped. Friday was the flight home....

So one of my hopes this trip was to go through the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard files and look for specific ships; I'd hoped to find new information on the destroyers Ward, Allen, and a few other ships. The records are stored in their original order, which is according to the US Navy Filing System of the time. The system allows a couple different ways of ordering records, and it turned out that the PHNY records are not ordered in a way that makes looking for a particular ship easy.

Everything was broken down into a specific code; S44 was the filing code for propellers, for example and S74 was for anti-aircraft guns. While it would be perfectly natural to organize records by hull number / S74, S74 / hull number was also permitted. But that later structure, which PHNY follows, means that if you want to research a ship you have to go through EVERY file code looking for your particular ship. Since some of the file codes may have 8 boxes 18 inches long or longer, that can make for a slow process.

So... that becomes a project for when there's a little time here and there.

Otherwise though I did have some good results and have more documents to post.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sometimes the clearest Sunsets...

...are not the best. Shot this one a couple of days ago.

12 hours from now I should be arriving at NARA San Francisco for five days of research.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today's NARA haul for the month

Just some previews...

The above I only was able to scan half of, so it'll be a while yet.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A little over a week to go.. decisions decisions

So it's time to go through notes and take the compilation of items I want to look for and match it to the notes of where stuff might be. Ever trip is as much about taking notes to get an idea of the structure of things as much as it is a scan fest (albeit there is a big pressure to get images and documents that can make the trip "profitable").

The problem in this case is that most of the records I'm going through are "unprocessed," meaning they have not been worked over since the Navy turned them over to NARA. Usually when NARA processes records they will go through and rebox things, add mylar envelopes around photos; things that will help preserve records so they don't decay as fast. Staples will leave rust like you would not BELIEVE after 70 years! But they will also compile a list of the folders in the records and list which box they can be found in, perhaps a description if the researcher is lucky. In this case... none of that.

It's nice on one hand because it's uncharted territory.. it makes it a fun and rewarding challenge, but it also means there is a higher possibility of going bust and coming home empty handed.

So, two accessions, or groups of records I had identified before are thus:
MINSY General Correspondence Classified 1941 -1946 (95 Cu Ft)
MINSY General Correspondence Classified 1941 -1946 (21 Cu Ft)
That's all I have (MINSY is Mare Island Naval Shipyard in this case)

Which to start with? There is some obvious difference between the two, but I have no idea what it is. Is there some duplication on topics or are they completely separate? Even 21 cubic feet is a large amount; A rough guess is that they can fit ten cubic feet of records on a cart at any one time. I have twelve other accessions I identified as possibly interesting in about a half hour of looking through the finding aids while scanning, plus the ten accessions I have already started going through...

I may have mentioned this here before, but I told my wife that if I ever won the lottery I was buying a condo in the complex right next to the archives and another in DC close to Nara College park and spending lots of time in both places researching! So much to filter through....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Updates are up - Two weeks until San Bruno

Two updates are up, Aircraft moto-tugs for aircraft carriers (October 1943) and procedures for warming up aircraft in CVL-22 carrier hangar bays (July 1943). Both should have good information for the modeler and detail nut.

I leave two weeks from tomorrow for five days of research in the San Bruno Archives. Randy Short from ShipCamouflage.com is going to come down from Sacramento for a couple of days and if he's up to it we might introduce Mike Donegan to archival research as well.

In the interim I'm getting my notes ready and also trying to create a good list of photos that I have to replace this page that would have been too cumbersome to fully expand.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Snark & Camouflage

I'd like to thank the city of Seattle for the speed bumps they installed on my street a couple of weeks ago. They really help smooth out the cracks, up-thrust concrete, and pot holes my car has to suffer through on that street every day. Ten speed bumps in half a mile....

Updated the Butler Class DE page on ShipCamouflage.com tonight, adding all of the design sheets I could find on the Navy Historical & Heritage Command Website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Timing and Patience

One of my hobbies is photography. I've got a decent camera, a Canon Rebel XTi that I pack around at times, but I also don't have to go far. On a clear night I can see planes stacked up in to SeaTac nearly to the coast. I sometimes try to shoot them coming in, but they fly such nearly identical patterns (duh) that they all merge into one. One of tonight's shots turned out fun though; three planes. One coming in from the east, one turning in from the east as another one came in on final:

That's about a 90-second exposure at ASA100.

At one point one of the new Airlift Northwest EC-135 Air Ambulances flew overhead and I was able to turn 180 degrees, make some adjustments, and shoot this shot"

Here's last night's sunset:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shaw site updates

A week or so ago someone e-mailed me looking for names and service numbers of the sailors lost on Shaw DD-373 during the attack on Pearl. It occurred to me that a KIA list would be a good thing to have so I added one. I also decided while I was at it that I should add a couple of the photos I found earlier this year at NARA San Francisco and added them to the December 7th Image Gallery (last three photos). As far as I or a couple of friends from the Pearl Harbor History Associates are able to determine, the second to last one hasn't been published before.

Started working a couple of days ago on the next document (unless I decide on another quick toss off); a 26-page listing of the US Navy fleet and it's organization circa early 1941. This document is doable even though it'll take a month if I do a page a day; ones for later in the war top out around 100 pages!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quick Toss-off

I had come across this last month and figured I'd add it; a 1938 Mail Distribution List from the US Navy. It's more for academics, I guess, as it will help people understand WHO was sent particular orders. It's pre-WWII, so it's not as up-to-date as some might like, but I felt it to be a more manageable size. There was NO way I was going to convert all those tables to HTML, and a later version, with the increase in ships and bases, would just take forever to download. Since it was one page of OCR and 8 images, I could turn it out in an hour or so.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Research Saturday

Today was the monthly "extended hours" Saturday at Seattle NARA and I managed to get something done I've wanted to do for some time.

Those are some of the color chips found in a booklet the Navy issued in 1941 on "Passive Defense," which was their term for the camouflage used on shore facilities. The camouflage you've seen on Navy Yard buildings during the war? That was passive defense.

I'd never seen the colors used and no one I talked to had either, so the color chips were a great find. However, what to do with them? We need to get the information out, but computer monitors are so different in the colors they display that I couldn't just scan to a web page. Scanners aren't calibrated for colors and you can't normally bring supplemental lighting into the archives to attain a true "sunlight" wavelength light.

Ron Smith of AA Military Research had a couple of pointers given his research into WWI and WWII camouflage and photography of some of the original artwork produced for those wars. First off, a X-Rite (originally Gretag-Macbeth) Mini ColorChecker Card; calibrated colors with known values so that I can send the photos to another person with the same card and they can calibrate their output to match.

The problem was then lighting, but I got lucky in a sense. Ancenstry.Com has partnered some what with NARA to scan in many documents of interest to their clientèle, and they have a team in Seattle NARA working through some records for a couple of months. They have some pretty expensive "scanning" stations (calibrated cameras with natural lighting hooked into work stations running custom image acquisition and filing software) and I managed to talk one of them into letting me pop a couple sheets under their lights for a quick snap shot. Hoping they don't get in trouble for me mentioning that, but they could see that I'm obviously a "somewhat" professional researcher and was careful around their equipment.

We all win from their understanding though. I will have to finish scanning the rest of the textual stuff later (got 11 out of around 100 pages) and it'll take a while to post all of that as HTML, but I think it'll be worthwhile.

In other positive news, Alaska Airlines dropped the price of their fares to San Francisco from Seattle so I'll be going down for five days of research in late September. w00t!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More ShipCamouflage Updates

Got some more time in on the ShipCamouflage database. The Farragut Class destroyer page is finally cleaned, linked and a design sheet added. One of the things I do is clean the code up; as the pages were originally created by an old version of Microsoft Front page, there is a lot of garbage code that does nothing (assigning a left align when that is the default anyway, for example) but cause longer download times. Even with adding all of the links in the page size dropped from about 15k to about 6k. Nothing of any concern for most internet users, but a bit of a point of pride to me.

I had also planned on folding in information from this document, 15-CN-41, which laid out plans for camouflage experiments in late 1941. That means that the Porter and Mahan class Destroyer pages have been updated as well. That also means I'll have to add descriptive pages for them at some point at Shipcamo.

That leaves just the Rudderow DE page to get cleaned and linked, and we're all done and can move on to correcting the database and tracking more design sheets down.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

APA Love

So, one of the areas I'd seen a while back were records for the "Assistant Industrial Manager, Astoria Oregon." I had already done a "smash & grab" for photos and had turned over photos to Navsource on APA-157 Napa, APA-160 USS Deuel, APA-166 USS Fond Du Lac, APA-169 USS Gallatin, and APA-195 USS Lenawee.

But there was a little bit of camouflage documentation, not a lot, but just enough to pique my interest in seeing what might else be there. Yesterday I finally got around to pulling the five boxes around those photos and looking through the first two of them at least, before I ran out of time. I found records covering 25 of the ships, which was enough in my opinion to finally start doing auxiliaries for ShipCamouflage.Com.

Behold the first page: Haskell Class APAs. As you can see, it's nowhere near done, but it's a credible start. For the most part it appears that the ships, when first commissioned, were in dazzle schemes, with the odd-numbered ships receiving Measure 32 Pattern 6A and the Even ships receiving Measure 32 Pattern 4T, but there are a few exceptions here and there. Later ships appear to have commissioned directly into Measure 21, and most were repainted as far as I can see in 1945 to Measure 21, with a few in Measure 22.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Various updates

The updates page has been... updated!

I also updated some destroyer pages at ShipCamouflage.Com, including the Bagley, Dunlap, Gridley, and Mahan classes to include links to measures and design sheets we have. That leaves the Farragut class and one last DE class and then we can start looking through it and correcting errors... I'd also like to find more of the Benson class with the reversed pattern 1D.

Single Ship RDF is mostly finished and just needs some of the linking and proof-reading done. After that, maybe I'll finally get to the Kearny damage report I've been talking about for years now....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cleanup on Isle Three!

As of this post my Seattle NARA directory totals 4,853 images scanned in; photos and textual records. My San Francisco NARA directory is a mere 1,799 images (totaling roughly 61 gigabytes). The point of this is that with that much data there's bound to be stuff that winds up where it shouldn't from time to time.

I found an orphaned directory yesterday that had some 1945 Camouflage documents that I had not posted... they're very similar to others, but contain some more information that might be useful. Since they were so similar I was able to pop both of them online yesterday. I'd already "roadmapped" both this and next month's updates so I'm just popping mention of them here. Without further ado, I bring you:

  • February 1945: Camouflage Measures 12, 21 and 22 - Instructions for Application of

  • February 1945: Amphibious Craft - Camouflage Measures.

  • Next month's updates will have a "action Damage Report" for USS Shaw following the attack on Pearl Harbor and a 1938 document regarding beach landings and "surf training" authored in part by one 1st Lt. Krulak. Both are done and are just waiting with baited breath for the month of July to start.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    June Updates

    Been busy enough at work that I haven't wanted to work on the computer much on my down time. This weekend was a nice change though and I posted a new document on prewar USN Turret Top colors that I came across in the archives earlier in the day. I also photographed some color chips of paints used to camouflage buildings in WWII... I need the text as well and will post that at some point in the future.

    Earlier in the month I had posted two documents regarding the attack on Dutch Harbor to commemorate the anniversary of the attack. An often-overlooked battle.

    Otherwise I'm about 3/4 through posting a document on the USS Shaw after Pearl Harbor, one of the first to talk about replacing her bow. Attached with it was a copy of an article about a similar repair done on a British Tanker that had been torpedoed. I found it to be an interesting read.

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    CL-62 Birmingham War Report

    It's mostly done; just need to finish proofing the last three pages:

    It'll be linked from the main site & updates page later in the week; I need to do some work for Rusty first.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    Card fraud is fun!

    So, apparently I tried to buy movie tickets in Mexico on Thursday. Bank caught it pretty fast and stopped it, but They were leaving me messages at home like crazy and apparently didn't have my cell phone so I didn't know until later in the day when I tried to get a drink and a snack. Glad I found out before trying to get my car out of the parking garage!

    Almost done with the last CL-62 Birmingham document I came across in January and am hoping to have it posted today. Then, for June I have a document or two related to the Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor in June of 1942. Also busy working some super secret stuff that should make modelers happy. One of those projects was recently unveiled, but was one I spent time on back in November/December time frame.

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Moot point

    So... yeah... Martin noticed that I flubbed the date on the memo; I had it as 1944 when it should be 1945. See... don't mess with Martin: he'll get you anyway!

    I think Cyndi Lauper and Parliment Parliament-Funkadelic should collaborate. Am I the only one who thinks "She Bop Gun" would rock?

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    Martin, before you correct me again....

    Yes,I did the math wrong again and it was sixty FOUR years ago that Nimitz released this memo.

    Thanks again for the first correction though! ;)

    A year ago today...

    I lost a friend. Wally Bigelow lost his battle with cancer. Wally, you are still remembered and missed.

    Fresh off the presses 65 years ago! Admiral Nimitz sent out a memo detailing some of the lessons learned from Typhoon Cobra and offering advice to commanders and captains.

    And there is a largish sailboat tacking outside my window right now.

    Saturday, April 25, 2009

    Silent usually means busy

    Sorry for the silence... it's been a busy month. I've been the chair for the IPMS Seattle Spring Model Show for the last seven years and we had our show last weekend. It used to get easier each show, but this year we decided to try adding seminars and I was one of the lucky few with a presentation, so my spare time was taken up with both planning for the show and trying to create an hour long presentation on the "Aircraft at Pearl Harbor."

    It was a fun project and I wish I had more resources on it as there's just so much we don't know about the airframes involved. Thanks to Dana Bell and Mike Wenger I was able to showcase the six-colored PBY catalinas of VP-11 that were at Kanoehe that morning, which is a relatively unknown question we don't have a complete answer for. If you want an idea of what I'm talking about take this paint scheme and apply it to a PBY airframe.

    Following that I had to catch up on some work for a model manufacturer... I hope it's well received and the changes I suggested are put into place.

    I've committed to at least one update a month at Researcher@Large, but the document I'd planned on finishing has languished with these other responsibilities... so I'm changing tack a little bit and have just finished a four-page memo from Admiral Nimitz from February of 1945 regarding typhoons... an interesting read I thought and a good example of how the US Navy sought to learn from its mistakes and deaths.

    It should be online in a few days...

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    What makes it Worthwhile

    My first real website was the "Unofficial Special Operations Website, started in early 1996. I still remember feeling cool when I reached 100 on my first counter. What has evolved over time is making contact with people as the true reward.

    I post things on the site that I think others will find interesting because it seems a shame to just put them back after coming across them. But then sometimes you get something like this, a thank you from a vet whom you feel a debt to for the service they rendered your country. These are especially good to get. It does not matter if there are no little nuggets I never knew before or promise of further correspondence. The thank you alone is precious enough.

    Franklin was hit on 3-19-1945, which is 3-18-1945 in the US, if I
    understand the international date line correctly. I was on Yorktown
    CV-10 when she was hit on 3-18-1945, the day prior to the Franklin hits.
    Franklin was in a different task group a few miles away from us, but we
    could see the smoke. Yorktown suffered relatively minor damage (five
    killed IIRC).

    I forwarded your post and link to a Franklin survivor of 3-19-45. He
    was a flight deck crewman, and was critically injured.

    Thank you for your post.


    Saturday, March 28, 2009

    I got goosed

    Got a 1/48th Grumman JRF Goose model from my wife today as a present.. I had originally wanted it to build one of the JRFs that served in Alaska during the war, but then I came across a picture of one on Ford Island on December 8th, and since I have a Pearl Harbor collection of models going on... I just had to switch topics.

    For those that are near Seattle, I'll be giving a presentation on April 18th, 2009 at the annual IPMS Seattle Spring Show (exact time to be determined) where I'll be showing, amongst other things, photos of some of the JRFs at Pearl Harbor. The loose title of the presentation is "the aircraft at Pearl Harbor" and it's one I can do repeatedly, so if you have interest in having the presentation at any of your events, drop me a line.

    Now, I just need to decide if I want to do an A-12 Shrike in Pearl Harbor attack markings as well (Some were at Wheeler). It's a sickness, I tell you....

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    R@L & Shipcamouflage updates

    So the Franklin 1946 Damage Report is finished and I went on a link frenzy on the 19th, getting the word out.

    Since then I've taken a break from my site to catch up on ShipCamouflage.Com, updating both the Fletcher and Gearing class. Unfortunately I didn't have any design sheets to add to the Gearing page, but there were none on the Fletcher page and I was able to toss up 13 of them.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Franklin Damage Plate 2 finally finished

    I finally finished this beasty (warning, 500k jpg). It took a lot longer than I'd anticipated due some subtle distortion in each scan... scaling differences that make me wonder if my Microtek scanner is not tracking consistently. I managed to hide most of the little goofs here and there in lines and intersections, but there are some there if you have too much time on your hands and want to go looking. This plate is also the reason I decided to backburner this report for a couple of months when I figured out that I'd missed about a quarter of an inch of it between the different scans and had a gap right in the middle of the ship. What's good about this plate (for modelers, anyway) is that it shows the position and type of aircraft on the flight deck, not a detail generally available before. I've been asked for this in the past and had no way to answer it before finding this.

    Plate 3 is already over halfway done, and that's the last part to the report before it is officially live. In the interim I've also been retyping another piece on the Birmingham I came across that does not OCR worth a damn. Thankfully only six and a half pages long. I think after that I'll dig around for some of the memos on canvas dyeing I have.....

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    Things I learned at Disneyland

    Just back from five days in SoCal. The first two days it rained, then the sun came out and the last three were a nice break from the Seattle weather we'd brought with us. A couple of things I learned while at Disneyland on a rainy day:

    - Tinkerbell is not the only fairy that works at Disneyland
    - The monorail will stop for ducks on the track. It will also honk like crazy and move forward slowly to scare them off.
    - It is best to give the Astro Orbiters a wide berth upon their first run after being closed for heavy rains due to the copious amounts of water that gathers in them and the distance it gets flung as they drain.

    Finished proofreading the Franklin report on the way down and just have four pages of photos and two damage plates to add now. It'll be up fro sure in March, sort of as the 64th anniversary remembrance posting. I'll get another Essex class doc posted this month just to make it less lame of a month.

    Sunday, February 15, 2009


    NorthWest Scale Modelers 2009 Show at the Museum of Flight in Seattle

    I'm a model builder, and I like to do things to try and help in the hobby. One thing is to show stuff in public areas so people can see the hobby and ask questions... maybe get interested and involved.

    Northwest Scale Modelers puts on a good show every year in a great setting. The aircraft above the tables is one-of-a-kind; the M21 mother ship for the D21 drones; the only other example was destroyed in a launch gone bad.

    I also spent some time shooting the newly-on-display Fieseler Fi-103 "Buzz Bomb;" drop me a response if you want to see more.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Gut-shot ship

    I was looking for a bunch of different ships the last time at San Francisco NARA, and ran into an interesting issue much more than in past research sessions. Due to the research I've done, a lot of ship names seem "familiar" to me for one reason or another. I go with a target list, but if I stumble across something that's of interest I don't often say no. So it was a good thing to have a 3G air card with me so I could quickly look up a ship to see what was tugging at my brain about her.

    It happened with DD-689 Wadleigh, although I recognized her name enough to not have to look it up. She was one of the ships profiled in the Structural Repairs in Forward Areas During World War II booklet I posted back in 2006. She had struck a mine and the book covered the repairs done to get her back to the US< but nothing after that, and her Navsource page didn't even mention it or have any photos.

    So I was happy to discover that a box I pulled of destroyer records had (amongst other things) photos of the ship in drydock at Mare Island undergoing repair. What was amazing to me was the extent of work and how much of the ship was removed and replaced to bring her back to service. From what I can tell, part of the port side shell of the ship was the only thing kept. She was not only gutted, but almost completely rebuilt amidships.

    So, of course I scanned those photos in and posted them to the "Forward Repair" page as an addendum; if you're interested you can see them here at the bottom. My respect for the damage control and industrial side of the US Military continues to grow. She was repaired quick enough to return to battle in WWII, and well enough that she served up to 1983.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    I added Barracuda Networks to my spam list

    I find it humorous and ironic that I got tired enough of an anti-spam company spamming that I added them to my list of "filter out."
    Eh, there are better products out there anyway.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    The Mighty B

    Back from San Bruno, with the first installment of items located on this recent trip. I've still got more from the first trip to post; I just started this one to show Randy of ShipCamouflage.com what I do and to get something done before the end of the month. I'd hoped to have the Franklin Report finished, but no way am I going to finish proof-reading and linking the 30 remaining pages before Saturday. The six and a half pages of this piece were OCRd at NARA between scans and at the airport and the proof reading started on the flight home. Finished last night after a couple of days break time.

    So, it's a history of CL-62 USS Birmingham by her then-captain around the end of 1944. An interesting piece I thought.


    (By Captain Thomas B. Inglis from "Shipmate", June 1945 Fleet Issue)

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    I hope you all like CL-62 Birmingham

    So, it's been busy, and I haven't made the time to update here recently. Surprise, I'm down in San Bruno again! I'm working on a bunch of projects, one of which lead me to keep an eye out for cruisers. They're not my forte, but I came across a folder for CL-62 Birmingham this morning and it had a bunch of textual records, a history written by her Captain in 1945, a war record, and some other interesting tidbits.

    Hadn't planned on spending this much time on her, but it's too good to pass up. I've already done the OCR on the 7-page Captain's report and might get it posted later tonight; at least by the weekend.

    Saturday, January 3, 2009

    Happy New Year

    2008 ended a bit chaotically due to weather and a cold. I posted another paint document, this one with formulas of flight deck stain and markings at the end of 1941; this is of interest as it probably covers the colors the carriers used during the battles of Coral Sea and Midway.

    I'm not a good proof-reader when sick, so despite having some extra time off progress has been slower than I'd hoped on the Franklin Report. I did get some time during a "hurry up and wait" project at work this week and have it corrected up to page sixteen (out of 50+) and a few more photos added. One complication I discovered was that I was a little rushed or trying to fit too much into as few scans as possible and missed part of damage plate II. Thankfully I figured this out AFTER I had booked a return trip down to San Bruno, so we'll just grab what we need then. That happens to be 19 days from now! :D