Sunday, December 29, 2013

I guess I've had some success

Came across this Wikipedia entry tonight for the first time and had a chuckle when checking out the references - 17 of 23 point back to camouflage documents I've posted. As far as wikipedia entries goes, it's not bad. I sorta object to the color swatches they added, but I understand why they did.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

PT Boat Videos

While chasing down some leads I came across some videos of PT boat Operations on the NARA website and thought I'd edit them down a bit (there was non-PT footage in some). Below are some clips of base and on-board operations that might be useful to modelers.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

BB-37 Oklahoma Torpedo Defense System, Pt II

Some more work done to visualize the effects that nine torpedo hits had on battleship Oklahoma's hull. This is the second sheet colorized, using a slightly different color palette for clarity. Green is air-filled voids, red is oil filled, and blue (only two) is water. These voids were designed to absorb most of the force of a torpedo explosion, but would lose most of their effectiveness after the first hit.

The below side-view shows the added torpedo blister and the armor belt. Note that this is from the Booklet of General Plans and is reversed to show her port side, which explains why the text is backwards. As you can see, the first two hits were below the armored belt. A similar hit on Nevada punched through the dry blister voids and ripped in to the two fuel-oil filled voids inboard of that with enough force that the main bulkhead protecting the innards was then dished in roughly two feet and the compartments began to flood.

As you can see, the hits were fairly bunched up, and the armor belt took a beating. The plates where hits three, five, and seven occurred did not come back up with the ship, although whether they were blown free or pulled free when she was rolled upright is not known.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

USS Oklahoma Torpedo Defense System, Pt I

I've been working on understanding the death of Oklahoma better so I can explain it to others, and I thought a good visualization of her Torpedo Defense System might help. This is the lower three levels of the ship, below the armor belt. Red is oil (fuel oil, diesel, etc.), blue is water (feed water mostly) and the medium blue are empty voids (air).

This is downsized from the original - not meant to be the final posting, just showing the start of a new project.

More fun than counting individual oil bunkers, anyway....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Even the Anchor Chains!

Came across these in OPA while doing some digging; SS Matilda Weems in 1918 in a freshly applied dazzle scheme. Note that on the starboard side, even the anchor chains follow the pattern!

NARA Atlanta, RG 181 "Department of the Navy. Sixth Naval District. Office of the Aide for Information. (ca. 1916 - ca. 1920) 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Referenced in a document on modernizing the turrets in Tennessee and California circa December 1943:

 "The yard proposes to scrap all materials listed as obsolete on Sketch No 102880, Sheets 17 to 25 inclusive..."

A sketch is supposed to be a simple, quick drawing, so on one hand it blows my mind that the Navy had sketches that were at least 25 separate sheets, but on the other hand, if anyone could do it, it would be the Navy!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Small Victories

I started this site a while ago because I was finding really cool stuff in the National Archives and it seemed a shame that no one else could see it. Naturally, there's some stuff that I come across I need to sit on for a bit, but I still enjoy getting information out there that wasn't available before. Such is this tale.

Last year, which scanning in photos of aircraft carriers, I came across this photo of a corvette:

No idea what it was at the time, but I like Corvettes, so I scanned it in. I came back across it a couple of weeks ago and finally researched the pennant number to try and find out what ship it was. I was able to match it to HMCS Riviere du Loup, but there were absolutely no other photos of her that I could find on the internet.

So, I created a Wikimedia commons account and uploaded that baby.. it's now on her Wikimedia page, the first and so far only photo of this quiet ship on the internet. Hopefully it will be of use to someone.... a small advancement at best, but one nonetheless.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Random Photo - PBM Mariner Rescue, 1942

NARA 80-G-188415

VP-74 PBM Mariner piloted by Lt Joseph A. Jaap delivering survivors of the S.S. San Arcadio to Bermuda on Valentines Day, 1942. Jaap was awarded the DFC for the open-sea landing that rescued nine sailors of the British tanker, sunk by U-boat at 38-19 N, 63- 50 W.

According to War Diaries in Record Group 38, "Oh 26 January the S S SAN ARCADIO, a seven thousand ton British tanker with fifty officers and men, put out from Houston, Texas, loaded with oil and bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia Five days out, in position 38-19N and 63-50 W, at about 2200 LZT, they were torpedoed first aft and then forward on the starboard side After fifteen minutes of effort to make radio contact the ship was in such condition that it had to be abandoned 74-P-7, Lieutenant J. A JAAP commanding found nine survivors in position 34-28N and 62-50W The plane landed at sea, took the personnel aboard and returned them to Bermuda. As a result of this action Lieutenant Joseph Abraham Jaap, USN, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Using NARA's OPA

For a few years, NARA had their "Archival Research Catalog" system online for researchers to use. This allowed some limited searching for information before a visit - not all finding aids were (or are) online, and even those that are may be incomplete. ARC was shut down and replaced with OPA - Online Public Access earlier this month, and the transition for me has been lackluster.

On the plus side, results are now persistent and you can link to or bookmark them. Previously,results were temporary based on a live database query that would close out after 30 minutes of activity, so you could never send results to a friend and say "hey, check this out!" I took to saving each interesting result as a Word Document for quick reference later.

This new one changes that, but it also really doesn't work well if you don't already know what you're looking for. If you didn't know that records are generally separated into titles such as "general correspondence," or "classified correspondence," when what would you search for?

I can, at least search for EVERYTHING in a record group at a specific location, but if I search for all of record group 19 at NARA II "textual records" I get over 15,000 results. I'm having some luck - I tried searching for "naval" in Record Group 181 at NARA San Bruno and then hit the "refine by series" link, which listed all 58 of the listed accessions they have information posted about, including one for the 14th Naval District (Hawaii, essentially):
Fourteenth Naval District. Office of the Commandant. General Correspondence, 1925 - 1957 

So... learning by stumbling about.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July - Lake Kathleen 2013

My third annual sojourn to the north end of the lake to watch a noisy celebration of the birth of the United States.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

USS Indianapolis

I've long been fascinated with tragic ships - I'm not into tragedies in general, but for some reason a ship that had a major tragedy just feels more like a human story than one where the ship and her crew sailed the seas in relative obscurity and peace.

Indianapolis is an interesting ship for many reason; the aesthetics of  her lines, the story of her war-time service and final, top-secret mission, also for her loss. Outfitted with the latest radar and sensors, she was torpedoed and sunk in the closing days of the war. The world's most powerful and advanced Navy didn't notice.

A great many American sailors perished horribly because of bureaucracy and lack of caring. The most advanced weapons in the world will not protect you from the harm of human limitations. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Under the Wire Random Photo

Below we have a couple of random photos from my last trip to NARA II. The first is Langley and some battleships near Puerto Rico in March of 1926. This is a great view of the between-wars battle fleet - the Big Five plus the dawn of American Naval airpower.

Next is a reminder that even great navies and good ships lose, DE-143 USS Fiske sinking after her back was broken by a torpedo from U-804 on August 2nd, 1944. 33 sailors were lost, and U-804 was herself later lost with all hands.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Random Photos - Dunkeswell Aerodrome, England 1944

A couple of photos I stumbled across during my last trip to NARA II in 80-G; Dunkeswell Aerodrome, October, 1944. This was originally meant as a fighter base, but with the stopping of Germany's aerial assault, it was turned over to the Royal Navy and Royal Navy for use in patrolling for u-boats.

The first shot is of a couple of Royal Navy SeaFires (I presume) in front of a temporary hangar.

A crop-in of the planes:

The second shot is of a supply hangar under construction, with several smaller, camouflaged buildings nearby. This shot is looking east-southeast, towards the Dunkeswell Methodist church (in the upper right), which still exists.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Random Photos - Good duty?

I came across these photos last month in the NARA San Bruno Archives within some folders in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard records. My first thought was, "oh, someone pulled crap duty!" But, considering the oil soaked waters, toxic environments, and sheer danger of the salvage work at Pearl Harbor, perhaps a little smelting duty was a nice break.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quick note - I am not dead

I always aim to post at least one blog entry a month... the last couple of months has not been good for this. I've got completed documents in the pipeline and others in progress. I hit NARA San Bruno last month and have some new documents that should be popping online in the next couple of years (yes, my backlog is that large). Every once and a while I look over the stats for my site to see how many people are looking and what they're rolling. Interestingly, when I looked tonight, iOS was higher on the list of operating systems used by my guests than Macintosh was, indicating more people are reading by iPad or iPhone than laptops. Windows is still the monster, at 77% of the viewers, but I think it says something about where things are heading that iOS had just over 8% and Mac was just under. I also took pains from the beginning to make sure my pages worked on older machines with lower resolutions; this is a nod to veterans who aren't pushing the super-high resolutions the kids these days take for granted. I aimed for "works well in 800 x 600" and that has paid off as these tablet devices and phones have smaller resolutions. It's largely meant I haven't had to rework the entire site to handle these new additions to the internet. I got lucky.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Random Photo - Remington Rand Factory, 1944

This is the Remington Rand factory in Bridgeport Connecticut on April 13, 1944. You can see it today here - note the St. Augustine Cemetery just above it in both photos.

The site was sold to the RemGrit Corporation corporation in 1986 and is pretty run-down these days, but at the time this photo was taken, roughly 17,000 employees were working at this site. Record Group 80-G has some odd finds from time to time...