Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I sit alone in a room thirty minutes from the gun that announced the United States entry into the Second World War. I'd like to visit, but I am here for work and there is not enough time. Instead, I worked on USS California's Damage Report for the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was seventy years ago tonight. Pearl Harbor was the true turning point of the war, as it ended a charade and any quibbling over whether we should get involved. But it was also a day where a lot of people had their lives torn from them or were horribly wounded. Some gave their lives, some struggled in a panic to survive and were tragically unsuccessful. Many we lost; their bodies too destroyed to identify. Life goes on, and I am able to sit in this room and be too busy to properly pay my respects partially because of their sacrifices. But they are not forgotten. To those who survived, to those who died, and to those somewhere in between; you are in my thoughts nearly every day. I run this site in a large way because I feel it is the best way I am able to give my thanks and my respect. Helping others learn about that day helps keep it in our memory. You have my respect, and my thanks.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

CVE Update

I touched on my Hasegawa 1/350th Gambier Bay build here back in early July and then again in mid July, but it got set aside due to modeling burn-out for a bit. With the Annual IPMS Seattle Christmas meeting looming I needed to show *some* progress for Internet Modeler Chris to see, so I picked it back up on a study break last night and worked on finishing the port side. So here is the port side before and after, showing what became a wad of tape after the Ocean Gray and Black were sprayed on the hull and then the paint. I still need to do the starboard side, aft surfaces, and bow section under the flight deck. Once that's done it's on to the decks and overhangs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scattered leaves

As I prepare for my trip tomorrow to NARA II to try and answer, amongst other things, the appearance of Battleship Arizona during the attack, I am looking for some files on Radio Direction Finders to see if there any I have found but not posted. I came across this, one of the few documents I've found in the NARA Seattle Naval records on Arizona that still survives there:
Arizona's Roster of Officers for December, 1941. It's nearly 70 years old now. It would be a lot of work to post it as HTML, but it seems a shame to leave it where no one else can see it and perhaps make a connection to this ship and the human cost associated with her history. The wind is blowing the yellowed leaves from the branches out my window as those still green hang tight.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Picture Post - Fort Casey Coastal Artillery - Battery Henry Kingsbury

While looking through my records for something else I stumbled across this tidbit I'd forgotten I had scanned in:

I have a connection to Fort Casey; having spent time there as a kid (Fort Flagler as well for that matter). It's a single-piece scan, so there's not a lot I can do with it. But, while preparing it to post I figured I'd cover the steps I used, since I do post blue-prints on a regular basis. I could just post them in all their blue glory, but I know people like to print things, and I'd hate to be the reason a few printer ink cartridges choked and died, so I always make them black and white for better printing.

The process is below, and is based on the ancient Photoshop (6) I use. Invert the image, set a white point to make most of the remaining background color go away, then grayscale and level the file to darken the dark and whiten the white and remove the noise.

Takes no more than 30 seconds once you know how to do it; the harder part is cleaning up the borders and holes.

You can read more about these guns here (and you might even see a familiar drawing!):
They were a great place to run around in as a kit!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


So, this December marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As such, I'm going to try and wrap up some Pearl Harbor projects by then. BB-44 USS California's damage report is under way and I hope to have both it and Nevada's done and posted by December 7th. I'll also be flying to NARA College Park in less than a month to try and solve the Arizona question.

Busy otherwise... not leaving me much in the mood to be wordy....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Was Arizona Blue?

I'm involved in an upcoming Battleship Arizona project and was asked if Arizona was blue or not; I get asked this on a somewhat regular basis and thought it would be good to put down my current thoughts and feelings.

Put simply, there is no definitive answer at this point, and anyone wanting to render the ship in her final configuration is rolling the dice no matter what they choose.

Now for the explanation.

Up until 1941, the Navy had painted their battleships in the #5 Standard Navy Gray that had come into use just after the end of the First World War. Starting in the mid 1930s there was a slow experimentation process that started to update the camouflage, but the experiments weren't completed and new orders finalized until January of 1941. For battleships of the Pacific Fleet, Camouflage Measure 1, using 5-D Dark Gray and 5-L Light Gray was the new standard.

Possibly because camouflage had not changed in twenty years, the Navy did not do a very good job of managing the transition. Only two Navy Yards were responsible for manufacturing paint for the entire Atlantic and Pacific Fleets (Norfolk Navy Yard and Mare Island Navy Yard respectively), and they had problems with procuring the necessary materials and equipment to suddenly switch hundreds of ships and boats from one color to another. Photographic evidence of battleships in the Pacific fleet in Measure 1 doesn't show up until June of 1941, for example, and not all of the battleships are repainted at that time.

In the meantime, the Navy had grown dissatisfied with 5-D Dark Gray and started looking for a replacement. One of the problems with 5-D had been that of supply chain; there were issues with finding the optimally sized containers and having a paint that was different from others; the two other colors used in camouflage, 5-L Light Gray and 5-O Ocean Gray came from mixing different ratios of the same white base and tinting paste together, but 5-D needed it's own separate containers and supply chain. As such, the replacement was to be made using the same base and tint in order to simplify the supply chains.

The official replacement was 5-S Sea Blue, and at the end of July the Navy ordered the paint manufacturing Yards to stop manufacturing 5-D and continue with the white base and tinting paste, with the mixing proportions for 5-S Sea Blue listed. Since this is roughly four months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the white base and tinting paste had been in circulation for a while, this should make it a fairly open-and-shut case, right?

Well, not exactly.

The battleships had originally painted in a 5-D that was based on a conversion paste from the pre-war #5 Standard Navy Gray, and even if they had painted their 5-L parts in 5-L from a the mixture, the quantities they carried on board were so limited as to be insignificant in terms of suddenly mixing and repainting an entire ship. The different ratios between 5-L and 5-S mean that nearly 18 times as much tinting paste was needed to make Sea Blue versus Light Gray (9 ounces versus 10 pints)

Additionally, the original order to transition to Sea Blue had been sent to the paint manufacturing yards and not the fleet in general; this means that the Yards had to flow the new directive out, something they did in a somewhat unclear way. We see here, for example, the order to Battleship Arizona to re-request paint to the new directives, but the directives as to how a battleship was painted didn't come from the yards, it came from the group commander.

In the case of the battleships, that would be "Commander Battleships, Battle Force," and we see a request, for example, from the Captain of Battleship Oklahoma to the Commander Battleships, Battle Force, as to what to do since the Yard is ordering them to use a paint they have no information about. Not that were are about two months away from the attack at this point; how long would it take the command to reply, and the ship to then fill out their requisition? How long would it take the Mare Island Navy Yard to fulfill it and ship it out?

We do know that the paint had been produced and that some ships had been painted in Sea Blue well in advance of the attack; Helena had been ordered into Sea Blue at the end of August and that by the middle of September the Bureau of Ships had ordered the yards to directly substitute 5-S for 5-D in any paint requisition.

Arizona was involved in a collision with Battleship Oklahoma on the night of October 22 and went into the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for repair from the 27th of October until the 12th of November. This is a month after the order to substitute 5-S on all requisitions of paint and about three months after the manufacture of 5-D had ceased. A revised SHIPS-2 was finished in September, but was not released to the fleets until the middle of October, just before Arizona was involved in the collision; this new revision did away with Measure 1 and the 5-L Light Gray above the top of the stacks that Arizona was painted in at the time of the attack.

This leaves us with the following questions:

  • What paint did Arizona and Pearl Harbor Navy Yard have on hand during her repairs in October/November and whose stocks were used to repaint her following the repairs?

  • What directives were in place at the time of Arizona's repair? If SHIPS-2 Revision 1 had come through after the orders for repair had been issued, but before the ship were actually painted, would they have performed a change order on the paint to be used?

  • Do we have all of the directives that were in effect at that time? We have a smattering of some from the Commander Cruisers and Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, but none from Commander Battleships, Battle Force. We have some from the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, but do we have them all?

  • For this reason I say that no one has the answer to the question of Arizona's final paint colors. I'm planning a trip to NARA II this fall to go through some records that haven't been explored before for this purpose to see what I can find. My hope is that we'll be able to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by finally being able to tell people how the ships actually looked as so many awoke to their last day on earth.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Hasegawa 1/350th CVE-73 Gambier Bay Build Update

    One of the features that initially looked promising with the Gambier Bay was a page of the instructions manual that had templates for the Measure 32/15a camouflage pattern; while not strictly necessary, I thought it a nice touch. However, when I tried using it I found yet another company that doesn't understand algebra and geometry. The templates are just copied from the original flat paper of the design sheet and don't take into account the horizontal shift as well as vertical. Pythagorean theorem, any one?

    Below is a photo of the model on top of the templates, with a copy cut out and placed where it is supposed to go; as you can see, it's not even close to covering the right area. I suppose the templates will work for the straight areas, but those are the easy parts, so it's really not going to be a good help to people new to dazzle painting.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    4th of July, Lake Kathleen WA, 2011

    Shot these tonight near where I live; a loud cacophony of light and visceral sound, from the thump of the mortars to the crack of the shell bursts, to the applause and cheers wafting across the lake.

    This couple enjoyed the early portion of the show and then left; most of the rest of these photos are shot from the shoreline where they shared the show for a bit.

    This family's show was literally overhead; their shells beat into me with each blast, and I could not back far enough away to actually get all of their shots in frame.

    The next couple are on the eastern shore of the lake, looking down to the south:

    The west side kept pretty busy too:

    1/350th USS Gambier Bay CVE-73 Model Pt 1

    My "gateway drug" into researching was plastic model building, which I have been doing as long as I can remember. I started as an "airplane guy," and while I have a collection that consists of mostly airplane kits, a good portion is (unsurprisingly) ships. I've been working on a Hasegawa 1/350th Gambier bay for about nine months, mostly not working on it due to weather and burn out. However, we had an exceptional weekend and I decided it was time to take it beyond just the antifouling on the hull. So yesterday and today I painted the black boot stripe, and today I started on the 5-P Pale Gray of the Measure 32 design 15A she was painted in at the time of her loss in 1944. Here she is with the boot top and below taped off and the 5-P painted on. Paints used so far are White Ensign for the Norfolk Anti-Fouling and 5-P Pale Gray, and Model Master's basic flat black for the boot topping.

    This is part of a review for and as I'm not a fan of leaving tape on for a long time (particularly with a few issues I had with Tamiya primer recently) I should be hitting this fairly heavily in the next week or so, so stay tuned!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    What do you think in?

    I spent a good amount of time on the water as a kid, boating in the Puget Sound and further north into Canada. While mostly land-locked now, I miss a lot of the experience, and one such minor tradition is that of the ship's bell.

    Obviously, carrying a bell around to ring as an IT consultant is out of the question; customers like a little quirk here and there but that would be rude, to say the least, during a meeting. But what do we have technology for, if not to satisfy our whimsy? Enter Ted Rathkopf's "Ship's Clock" app. I've got it running on my android HTC EVO, quiet hours set to 10PM - 8AM to keep it at least tolerable to the wife.

    I found myself thinking at one point today, "one bell, it's 4:30" and wondering what sailors of yore thought. At a certain point a multi-lingual person is asked what language they think in; time is the same way. To a sailor only concerned with his watch, the concept of 4:30 isn't really important, but one bell, meaning a half hour into their watch, is more so. Ships bells were a different language for telling time.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    USAT Mount McKinley Aground on Unimak island, 1942

    Found this in today's trip to Seattle NARA. It's a Patrol Wing Four (VP-4) photograph of the USAT Mount McKinley aground on an Alaskan shore in 1942. The caption on the back of the photo is dated October 7th, 1942, but I've had troubles confirming the date and location.

    She's reported as grounded on March 11th 1942 according to this page on the US Merchant Marine web site, but the US Coast Guard History for the cutter Haida states, "On March 10th she arrived at King Cove and went to the assistance of the Mount McKinley ashore 1-1/2 miles west of Scotch Cap."

    I've been able to confirm it was on Unimak island, about a mile and a half west of Scotch Cap Lighthouse (roughly here). But this photo's date would seem to suggest that she started coming apart fairly quickly (not the missing stern), so either the date on that photo or the Patrol Wing 4 photo is incorrect.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Rendering honors

    On the first of this month a British soldier was shot by a sniper in Helmand Province and instantly killed. What is particularly poignant about this story is that he was a dog handler, and his dog died a few hours later of a seizure.

    Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker and Theo had recently set a record for the most weapons found by a team in Afghanistan, and it is clear that Theo gave his all to Corporal Tasker. There is talk, so it's said, that Theo is being considered for a Dickin Medal. The original spot I heard on the radio today had talked to a former US Marine Dog handler who commented that there is no US equivalent to the Dickin Medal; that the US Military considers the animals it uses equipment, and one doesn't award medals to equipment.

    However, An animal can perform acts just as selfless and full of valor as humans, something machines really can't at this point. Some clearly go above and beyond. It seems a shame to deny them honor with something as simple as a medal and acknowledgment.

    Theo and Lance Corporal Tasker, I thank you for your service to your country and against those that seek to indiscriminately harm others. You were shining examples of the best kind.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    I owe y'all a post....

    Things have been busy and progressing... I try and keep myself productive on things that feel like I'm adding something as opposed to just sitting on a couch watching TV. Sometimes blogging feels more like the later, but I need to remember that there is more to getting the word out than just monthly update pages.

    Aside from a page I missed when scanning the original report and a caption I cut off, the BB-57 South Dakota battle of Guadalcanal damage report is not finished and ready for consumption. A damage report for CL-62 Birmingham in 1943 has been started but not finished quite yet... tracking for late March or April.

    A new section I started on is US Navy WWII Carrier Air Groups organized by ship. This arose out of some work I've done for a book on the Essex class as well as the Dragon CVL model project. Currently it's being used as a format test of sorts for the Essex book, so it's far from full-fledged, but CV-9 Essex has her data for the entire war posted and CVL-22 Independence has all of 1943 posted. There will be lots of tweaks to these two ships before I settle down and start posting other ships, but in the interim if you have any feedback you're more than welcome to drop me a line.

    I managed to make it down to the NARA branch in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Like many trips this one ended with not much of what I had hoped to find, but much that was new and important. While I hesitate to consider R@L a damage report site, I find them fascinating for telling how dedicated the US Navy was at not only saving their ships from calamity, but also to learn from each one. So it'll take some work for me to balance out all of the new damage reports I spent about 4 to 4.5 of my five days there scanning in.

    Navsource has already started receiving some of the photos I came across, so enjoyment for all!

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Mare Island Battery Cart for Submarines, WWII

    Came across these today at Seattle NARA and figured I'd pop them up here for the model builders who like dockside dioramas or those just generally interested in Mare Island Navy Yard. Below are photos of a portable charging station for submarines in WWII. The dimensions of the shed were given as a 8' by 24' trailer with the walls being 8' tall at the eaves and 9' at the peak.

    Note that the windows on the two back walls are centered while the one closest to the door in the photo is not centered.