After the Tonnerre class, a lighter pair of coastal monitors was built alongside the one-off design of Tonnant. After that came the unique Furieux, then the Terribles. Four more coastal ships authorized at the end of the 1880s; these would comprise two classes, the Jemmapes and the Bouvines. Jemmapes and her sister Valmy featured the trademark low freeboard, as seen here on Jemmapes herself. Bouvines and Amiral Tréhouart were built with a forecastle deck for increased freeboard. - Jemmapes and Valmy carried larger guns and thicker armor as a result of their lower freeboard. They were equipped with 2 x 340mm (13.4”) in two single turrets, keeping with the monitor tradition. The Bouvines had to carry 2 x 305mm (12”) as a trade-off for balance. - The interesting appearance of the two low freeboard ships ran directly parallel to the trend for French battleships at the beginning of the 1890s, as we shall start to see in the next post. However, both Jemmapes and Valmy were deemed useless earlier than their high freeboard counterparts; they were both removed from service in 1911 while the others existed as submarine tenders for a decade longer.
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French naval policy dictated the defense of the northern ports along the coast in addition to oceanic operations into the Atlantic and the need for a presence in the Mediterranean. The need for coastal defense led to a bit more of a grey area between coastal defense ships and battleships than was present in other navies; one of the more obviously coastal ships, a monitor really, was Le Fulminant, shown here. One of two Tonnerre-class breastwork monitors, she sports some curious similarities with HMS Devastation. Her hull was steel, with 330mm (12.9”) of iron armor as her belt and on her turret. That lone rotary structure housed two 274mm (10.8”) rifles. - Tonnerre and Le Fulminant would spawn several successive coastal defense classes, with the Terribles being the primary break from the low turret ships (hence her inclusion in the battleship lineage). However, two designs stemming from the older style would contribute significantly to the most critical coastal battleship fielded by the French: Henri IV, the first warship with superfiring guns. But that is for another time; I’ll cover one of the other more successful coastal defense classes shortly, before returning to the battleships. - Tonnerre and Le Fulminant were both utilized as torpedo depot ships as torpedo boats began to take over the coastal defense role in the 1890s. Both monitors had been built in the early/mid 1870s and were beyond obsolete when scrapped during the first decade of the 20th century.
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After the coastal Terrible class, France embarked on their last capital ships of the 1870s: the Amiral Baudin class, featuring the name ship and her sister, Formidable. The latter is shown here on the left side of the frame at Brest around the turn of the century; Jauréguiberry, a more storied French battleship to be covered later, is moored in the background to the right. Note Formidable’s pronounced tumblehome. Interestingly, single guns mounted on barbettes and similar mast configurations make these two appear more closely related than they actually were. A time span of nearly twelve years separated the two. - Amiral Baudin and Formidable displaced 11,720 tons while being capable of 16 kn. The main battery was 3 x 370mm (14.6”) all arranged on the centerline, with one mount aft, one amidships, and one forward. Different manufacturers were used for the guns of each ship, with Amiral Baudin’s battery entrusted to Creusot while Formdiable was armed by St. Chamond. French artillery manufacture, illustratively, continued to be a strength the Marine Nationale could rely on, putting reliable and advanced weapons to sea while the British were just moving away from muzzle loaders following the 1879 explosion of a double-loaded rifle aboard HMS Thunderer. - An interesting feature of the Amiral Baudins was their use of compound and steel armor. Though the Terribles had used steel belts, the Baudins were the first full-size French capital ships with this modern armor; the French firm Schneider had pioneered the alloy, while compound armor, which featured a steel plate welded to a wrought-iron backing, had been a British development. Steel was prone to cracking, which was countered by the malleable iron backing to prevent penetration. Creusot was similarly a pioneer in steel production, though the tendency to crack on impact prevented its widescale use for some years. The French officially adopted compound armor in 1880, partially due to Schneider being unable to produce sufficient quantity of steel plate, but the introduction of nickel into the product would bring the Marine Nationale back to Schneider’s negotiating table later in the decade.
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A quick 1892 comparison photo of the French coastal battleship Requin. Compare this photo (© IWM [Q 22303]) to my last post as part of #classclashesfrance . Massive relocation of the stacks, essentially rebuilt forecastle, enclosed gun mounts... the differences are amazing. So much so that the previous pic of Requin during WWI really doesn’t even resemble her earlier form as shown here. Such was the pace of technology; thankfully for Requin, tight budgets kept her on the navy list as war loomed. Note the massive national flag shown here as well.
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A pair of ill-fated sea monsters on maneuvers in the spring of 1935. Fusō and Yamashiro, the latter being in the distance with the former shown at center, were Japan’s first Dreadnoughts with 14” rifles and came on the heels of the Kawachis with their mixed-length 12”. Contemporary with this design class were the American New Yorks, sometimes heralded as the USN’s first super Dreadnoughts for their 14” main battery; Fusō and her sister could be similarly considered as Japan’s first super Dreadnoughts as well, even operating on steam turbine propulsion rather than the vertical triple expansion systems present aboard the New Yorks and, later, USS Oklahoma (BB-37). - Extensive reconstruction turned these pre-WWI designs into some of the most recognizable and debatably ugliest ships of the interwar period and WWII; regardless of your stance on their looks, this stage of their appearance was quite nice compared to their growing years with scooped funnels and partial tripod masts. This past November, Fuso’s wreck was conclusively located and confirmed by Paul Allen’s research team aboard RV Petrel; paired with the much earlier discovery of Yamashiro’s upside down wreck (tentatively identified by sonar scans some 8 years ago, not actual dives), the find confirmed the older discovery as well and laid to rest one of the few remaining battleship mysteries still remaining.
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Hello USNS Big Horn!! #navy #ships
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Requin at Port Said, 16 December 1916. Image is © IWM (Q 48263). - Requin was re-boilered in 1901 which lengthened her useful service life as opposed to her lesser sisters. While Indomptable and Caiman initially received similar upgrades, their refits were earlier and left them suited only for use as storage depots until they were essentially abandoned at their docks while priority shifted towards WWI. Requin, however, saw action on the Syrian front, shelling shore positions during 1917. Alongside a mis-matched squadron of obsolete and diminutive ships she assisted the British drive towards Palestine, even joining British monitors at the Second Battle of Gaza by firing her stout old guns inland. Her war profile differed significantly from her original one, with her stacks re-arranged, proper military masts installed, and her guns placed in turrets. A significant transformation for a ship that steamed in formation with ships of sail.
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USS Honolulu (CL-48) arrives at her namesake in July 1939, fresh from the states and trials. I originally contemplated posting this as part of the Battle of Tassafaronga series but the amount of posts I was willing to dedicate to that action was too few to allow this freebie of the lucky cruiser. US light cruisers were more effective than heavy cruisers, in many cases; the rapid outpouring of 6” and 5” shells was enough to render the slow-firing 8” CA types less desirable than their lighter, cheaper counterparts. During the battles around Guadalcanal, the 6” light cruisers picked up comparisons to machine guns due to this rapid ROF. - The USN only lost two light cruisers during the campaign compared to five heavies that paid the ultimate price. Coupled with the earlier loss of USS Houston (CA-30) as part of ABDACOM and the later sinking of USS Indianapolis (CA-35), a total of seven heavy cruisers went to the bottom under the American flag during WWII. Beyond the loss of USS Atlanta (CL-51) and Juneau (CL-52) at Guadalcanal, only USS Helena (CL-50) fell victim to the Japanese later, bringing USN Light cruiser losses during WWII to a paltry total of three.
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This is a really cool now-and-then comparison by @dcflagteambob of USS Texas (BB-35); the top photo was taken from the exact same spot as the bottom, with a difference of only 100 years or so. Obvious changes include the relocation of the secondary battery up a deck, and the enclosing of the space. This view appears to be looking aft.
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The French transitioned away from the central battery entirely with the building of Amiral Duperré. This ship would also be completed without sails, despite the original plans inclusion of them. Duperré was laid down in 1877 and entered service in 1883. - At roughly 12,000 tons displacement, Amiral Duperré was a big ship rivaled in size only by the Italian monster battleship Italia. Duperré carried 4 x 340mm (13.4”) guns in four single barbettes; two were forward and positioned abreast each other, while the other two were disposed on the centerline amidships and aft. These weapons suffered similar to those on the Courbets, and presented issues in service; in 1888, one exploded due to powder overheating, causing a replacement of all but one of the type with a shorter weapon. She also was fitted with a single 165mm (6.5”) in her bow and fourteen 139mm (5.5”) split between each broadside on a gun deck. - Though Duperré was built with an emphasis on freeboard, her hull was poorly protected with the majority of it unprotected. Her 560mm (22”) iron belt was too low to the waterline to offer significant protection, and her barbettes were only lightly ringed with armor; in the second (blurry) picture you can see the thin shielding on the aft 340mm mount. Also interesting is how the barbette was positioned atop the deck rather than within the ship as in later, more famous battleships. - Amiral Duperré had an uneventful service life and became a target ship in 1906. She was sold for scrapping three years later.
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The French improved upon the design of Redoubtable and produced the resultant Courbet class of two ships; this pair would be the largest central battery ships ever built. Dévastation was loosely contemporary with the British turret ship HMS Devastation, though the Anglo vessel was laid down at the end of the previous decade, a full six years before the French keel. Courbet was laid down before her sister, though Dévastation was launched first in 1879, leading to some ambiguity as to the lead ship. Courbet was launched in 1882 under the name Foudroyant; that same year that Dévastation reached completion. In 1885, Foudroyant was renamed Courbet, and commissioned a year later. Dévastation is shown here late in her career, after losing a mast to modernization. - At 10,450 tons displacement, the Courbets were a significant step up from Redoubtable by over 1,000 tons. Better compartmented, the new central battery ships also featured two shafts and vertical compound engines compared to Redoubtable’s horizontal engine and single shaft. The result was an increase in speed from 14.7 kn to 15.5 kn and an extra stack, distinguishing them from their predecessor. Another notable change was an increase in main battery size; in addition to the 10.8” (274mm) guns of Redoubtable, the Courbets hefted 4 x 13.4” (340mm) in addition to a reduced battery of 4 x 10.8”. Six 140mm (5.5”) guns acted as secondaries, plus a continuously changing array of smaller 1pdrs and quick firing weapons. They also were equipped with five torpedo tubes. Armor was a 15” wrought iron belt tapered down to 9” at the ends. - The main battery on these ships was constantly downsized due to low rate of fire for the 340mm weapons. Courbet was initially upgunned with two different lengths of 340mm, but that was quickly deemed a poor decision. In the early 1890s she was modified to mount seven 274mm guns instead. In 1896, Dévastation was re-gunned with 4 x 320mm (12.6”) in place of her 274mm; this gave her a larger overall battery than Courbet, and along with a re-boilering in 1902, lengthened her service life. Courbet was struck from the register in 1909 and scrapped, while Dévastation survived until 1927.
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Operation Torch — Part XXXIV — USS Savannah (CL-42), shown here on speed trials in 1938, was the undoubted naval all-star of the Mehedia landings. After the initial action between Batterie Ponsot and USS Eberle, Savannah had been subjected to an aerial strafing run before putting sixteen 5-inch and seventy-two 6” shells into the hillside around the offending battery. Her duel with the emplacement would last most of the morning; after 08:40 she fired a further 286 x 6” at her target, scaring back the US troops poised to attack the position. Forty minutes later she fired off another 120 shells, along with a contributing 300+ shells from the destroyers Roe and Ericsson (DD-440). In this spat, one of the battery’s guns was knocked out. - Savannah assumed a slightly different role in the afternoon, firing on French troops on three occasions between 14:00 and 16:00. Roe joined this effort five times, with Ericsson lashing out four times as well. Shell expenditure was in excess of 600 rounds combined. Just before 16:00, she was near-missed by a 155mm artillery battery near Port Lyautey; she responded to the splinter shower with nearly 300 shells. At 16:35, the French took control of Batterie Ponsot back; for the remaining hour of daylight, Savannah harassed that position as well. Her floatplanes were alert all day, circling above the coastline calling in corrections and searching for targets. The next day, they would dramatically alter the tactic of aerial tank-busting. But for now, the battle for Mehedia was still going strong; many of the disappointments of 8 November would cast a shadow on the next day as well.
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In port then underway. #therealsaltlife #hazegrey #navylife
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Operation Torch — Part XXXI — The Northern Task Force, seen here from USS Massachusetts (BB-59) on 4 November prior to splitting off for their own destination, maneuvered into position without the help of their beacon submarine, USS Shad, just before midnight on 7 November. Their target was Mehedia, which had been selected for its proximity to the Port Lyautey airdrome; the planners had originally sought to land at the Moroccan capital of Rabat, to the south, but political considerations had allowed the change. Instead of risking the capital, which in the event would actually be prepped to welcome the invaders as allies, the military opted for the northern river city situated on the Wadi Sebou river. The stage was set for fierce resistance. - The force encountered problems immediately upon arrival. The absence of Shad left USS Roe (DD-418) to locate and guide in the invasion force; a scout boat from USS George Clymer (AP-57) was sent to approach the jetty near shore alone and guide in an assault team tasked with cutting the boom cable guarding the mouth of the river. Warships were instructed to only fire upon coastal batteries if fired on first, and smaller ships took station as escort vessels to lead in waves of landing craft. The plan was much like the Safi invasion, and those at Oran and Algiers; this time, though, there would be no suicidal harbor dash. - The plan itself fell apart quickly. A French merchant ship, part of a convoy from Oran, spotted the force just after their arrival, and informed the garrison in the historic fortification known as the Kasba. The two batteries around this old structure, Batterie Ponsot and two railcar-mounted 75mm, were therefore alert before any unloading began. Landings were delayed by confusion in the darkness, as at the other beaches. Fire support, led by USS Texas (BB-35, seen in the distance) and USS Savannah (CL-42) was to be reactive by decree. The net cutters arrived late, and sea conditions along the beaches quickly became rough. At about 05:45, the French announced their displeasure with a flare; a spotlight lit the scout boat, and within minutes, hell broke loose.
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Through December, the Japanese built and began operating an airfield at Munda Point in the New Georgia Islands, 100 miles north of Guadalcanal. This gave Japanese bombers an alternative staging point that was also conveniently closer to Guadalcanal; efforts to destroy the field by air continued frantically, while running supplies to both New Georgia and Guadalcanal placed a new tax on the Japanese destroyer force and rat submarines. A series of bright nights in early December made destroyer runs to the southern garrison too dangerous, hence the submarine supply runs and midget actions previously discussed on this page during December 1942. Raizo Tanaka’s last run on 11 December (previously detailed) in which Teruzuki was lost to PTs was the final straw. Destroyers would only go to New Georgia for the remainder of the calendar year. This would stunt the growing attrition rate of the IJN’s destroyer force, but not stop it entirely. - A massive naval buildup was ongoing at Rabaul throughout the month as well, which worried US leadership. Aircraft began to pester the anchorage, testing the waters with night bombings. One such attack on 27 December took a surprising turn; despite a release point 11,000 feet above the anchorage, American B-17s managed to hit five ships with their payloads. Four were transports and merchants, of which one sunk. The fifth was the old destroyer Tachikaze, shown here on her speed trials in 1921. A bomb ripped through Tachikaze’s bow and detonated with terrific results, ripping the bow from the little ship in an ironic swipe of revenge for those severed bows at Tassafaronga a month prior. The destroyer did not sink, but had to effect emergency repairs to prevent that end and was out of service for three months afterwards. Another blow to the IJN destroyers needed so desperately to extend supply lines to the contested southern island chain. - Tachikaze would later be sunk during Operation Hailstone, a concerted air raid on Truk, in 1944.
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The final South Pacific submarine event I’ll cover from the December 1942/January 1943 time period is the efforts of USS Greenling (SS-213) in the final two weeks of 1942. On the evening of 21 December, a day after USS Seadragon sank I-18, Greenling tallied a patrol boat near Bougainville while attacking a tanker; a week later on the 30th, she attacked and crippled two large merchant ships in convoy towards Palau. Forced away by escorts, she returned to finish off one victim of unknown name. Her other target, Hiteru Maru, broke in half when Greenling’s torpedoes struck, and sank before midnight. In one attack, the sub netted 9,857 GRT sunk. Greenling, shown here from aft, survived the war.
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USS Grayback (SS-208), of the Gar class, encountered enemy submarines at least three times around New Years 1943. I-31 spotted and attacked a surfaced US sub twice in that time period, without result; on 2 January, Grayback had her chance, finding the Pearl Harbor veteran I-18 in the Solomon Sea bound for Cape Esperance. Grayback fired torpedoes, counted explosions, and claimed a sinking that to this day is still listed in JANAC post-war findings as confirmed. - Yet, I-18 was undamaged, likely protected by the scandalously dysfunctional Mk 14 torpedo in use aboard US subs; prone to failures of their detonators and known for running deeper than set, Grayback’s torpedoes are thought to have exploded before reaching I-18. The Japanese boat delivered her cargo to Guadalcanal, bringing but a pinch of the supplies so desperately needed by the embattled troops there. Grayback claimed a kill and was given credit for the submarine, yet records of I-18’s movements exist until 11 February 1943 when a tag-team of Guadalcanal veterans conspired to kill the submersible. A floatplane from USS Helena (CL-50) spotted and drove down the boat with depth charges, calling USS Fletcher (DD-445) to the scene; the destroyer depth charged the sub for 20 minutes, recording multiple explosions, an oil slick, and cork popping to the surface. Yet Grayback still carries I-18 in her tally. - Fatefully, Grayback would also disappear under mysterious circumstances. After dispensing of her entire armament of 24 torpedoes on her tenth war patrol and sinking a total of 21,594 GRT (a career-best), Grayback was also caught by spotter aircraft and relentlessly depth-charged near Okinawa on 27 February 1944. There were no survivors, and her fate remained unknown until after the end of the war. She is shown after refit in August 1943.
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The next Fleet Boat to add a Pacific kill was USS Seadragon (SS-194), a pre-war Sargo-class submarine. On 20 December, she was sent up St. George’s Channel near New Ireland after intelligence reports indicated a Japanese submarine in the area; like at Guadalcanal, the IJN was using their subs as supply barges for runs to New Guinea as their focus shifted from Guadalcanal. - Seadragon caught the offender, I-4, running at 14 kn on the surface around 06:30 that morning, and fired three torpedoes seven minutes later. The first malfunctioned and missed; the second exploded prematurely and armed one of the loaded bow torpedoes aboard Seadragon with its concussive wave. That torpedo had to be fired off as well, but was not part of the salvo. The third and final fish of the spread struck I-4 in the stern, ripping her open; the Japanese crew could but watch, having failed to hit the metal missile with machine gun fire. I-4 sank by the stern with all hands and was never heard from again. - Unlike Albacore, this would be Seadragon’s only kill against an instrument of war. The other 9 ships and 41,500 GRT she accounted for during her career were all merchant shipping. Also deviating from Albacore’s path was her fate; like Grouper, Seadragon survived WWII. She is shown here with an unknown carrier behind her.
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USS Albacore (SS-218) joined the fray a day after USS Grouper sank Bandoeng Maru, which had been part of a troop reinforcement convoy. Except Albacore’s prey was a little different. - Vectored to an area off Madang, New Guinea by an intelligence report, USS Albacore caught an assault convoy inbound towards the island. The force had been previously hampered by aerial attack, but as darkness fell the task of death fell to the submarine. On only her second war patrol and with no kills under her belt, she lined up and fired on a damaged transport and her escort at 21:12; three minutes later, despite missing the merchant, two of her three torpedoes found the stern of the light cruiser Tenryū, a veteran of the Battle of Savo Island, the Tokyo Express, and Tanaka’s force during the later stages of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The explosions killed 23 IJN sailors and prompted a search and brief depth-charging of Albacore, but only after she fired off more fish towards a destroyer; these missed, and she fled the scene. - Albacore returned the next day and found only floating debris. The cruiser had succumbed to flooding at 23:20, two hours after being torpedoed; Japanese records post-war confirmed the identity of this “destroyer” claimed by Albacore. The boat is seen bow-on in April 1944 while at Mare Island for refit; seven months later she was lost with all hands off Japan, likely to a mine. Albacore’s first kill had been a veteran warship, and the remaining two years of her career netted her another five, along with four merchant vessels. Among her impressive tally of warships were a frigate, a sub-chaser, the destroyers Ōshio and Sazanami, and the aircraft carrier Taihō.
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USS Grouper (SS-214) contributed to the attrition of Japanese shipping on 17 December 1942, just a day after two Cactus-based SBDs damaged the Japanese destroyer Kagero while hunting for shipping. Grouper found a different convoy the next morning and attacked the pair of merchant ships just before noon. Their only escort was a sub-chaser, CH-29. - Grouper fired a spread of six torpedoes, four at the 4,003-ton transport Bandoeng Maru and two at the slightly larger 4,107-ton Sorachi Maru. Two torpedoes caught Bandoeng Maru on her beam, heavily damaging her engine room; the ship listed, and sank four hours later with most of her crew rescued by CH-29 after an unsuccessful counter attack on Grouper. 13 men died aboard the merchant ship.
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December 1942 proved to be a trying month for the Japanese on Guadalcanal. The contributions of the PT boats have been covered to this point, as have the majority of the efforts by surface ships. But one feature of the Pacific War has only fleetingly played a hand in the story thus far; the US Fleet Submarines. - Activity in the South Pacific grew as the Guadalcanal conflict waned. Rabaul became a seething mass of Japanese activity as the year drew to a close; fears arose as to the nature of this buildup. Though American submarine patrols had been present in the waters around the Solomons, demonstrated by USS Flying Fish’s attempted role in sinking Kirishima and the spotting done prior to her and Hiei’s arrival in the Sound back in mid-November. But activity ramped up as the Japanese put more targets to sea. - American fleet boats are handsome vessels; the dark black war-paint of USS Wahoo’s (SS-238) 1943 silhouette near San Francisco underlines that point. Wahoo, host to one of the most famous and aggressive of early war sub commanders, attacked a convoy bound for the Shortland Islands on 10 December, sinking a 500-ton vessel. This attack would be the first in a string of successful submarine attacks in the region. - Three of the six US subs that sported kills relevant to Guadalcanal would not survive the war; Wahoo would be one of those, carrying her entire crew and controversial skipper, Dudley “Mush” Morton, with her to the bottom of the Yellow Sea in October 1943. Aboard Wahoo at the time of this December convoy attack was Morton’s then-XO, Dick O’Kane; this man would later command USS Tang (SS-306), one of the most successful subs of the war and another that met a tragic fate. O’Kane himself was the most successful USN sub commander of the war, by number of ships sunk. Morton would be third, despite being killed two years before the end of the conflict. - If you have an interest in topics like this on a more regular basis, head in the direction of @subpac_ww2, the sub-centric account of one of this page’s most active contributing followers. Just a few weeks in and already he runs a damn good page. Highly recommended.
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Redoubtable would be the French entrance into steel construction on a large scale, which was significant in the broader international trend of searching for lighter, stronger ways of protecting the quickly-bloating capital ships of the ironclad era. With her introduction to the water in 1876, the term ironclad became an expression of obsolescence. Her wider importance and relevance to the development of the Marine Nationale was detailed in the intro to this series. - The 9,224 ton ship featured the now-familiar 8 x 10.8” (274mm) but in an arrangement much-improved over Colbert and Trident. Two guns projected from each broadside, with a single barbette mount above each battery. Another 274mm was mounted aft, while the final gun was bow-mounted, as seen here under her bowsprit. Though built for both sail and steam propulsion like her predecessors, she would eventually be reduced to just military masts. She received reciprocating engines in 1894, then was sent to Indochina under power from her new and modern VTEs; she served out her days there until stricken in 1910, destined for the scrapyard.
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A neat illustration of one of Colbert’s 10.8” (274mm) guns within the armored central battery casemate. Gustave Bourgain created this image, which is contemporary with the ship itself. Note the flat breech, common in later warships but atypical compared to the traditional mental image of rounded-off muzzle loaders present on gun decks such as this one. - Despite the short barrel length, these weapons were capable of penetrating nearly 15” of iron plate; in the early 1880s, likely prior to this work, the addition of hardened steel caps onto cylindrical projectiles began allowing for armor penetration capabilities never-before envisioned. And so, the metallurgical search for better resistance would begin apace, creating a breakneck growth in plate thickness and gun calibers that quickly bankrupted the combat capabilities of wrought iron entirely.
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France’s lone step backwards in capital ship size came with the Colbert and her sister Trident. These two ships were 8,750 tons, some 200 tons less than Richelieu and a scant 100 less than Friedland. Yet they exceeded the displacement of the Océans by a round 1,000. Construction was similarly length, with Colbert laid down in 1870 and not launched until 1875. Trident took even longer. Of similar misfortune was the inclusion of a wooden hull on both ships, yet again. - Nevertheless, Colbert was a capable design. Armament was 8 x 10.8” (274mm) plus a single 9.4” (239mm); the big guns were separated into four per broadside, three protected by a central battery casemate and one mounted on the weatherdeck in a barbette. The 9.4” was on her bow, but an addition of a second one later occupied a shielded mount on her stern. The barbettes are visible in this picture of the vessel; the three broadside main guns are just below and staggered aft under the boats. - The most notable service this pair gave was in a shore bombardment capacity in 1881, when France conquered Tunisia and set the stage for the hotly-contested territory of sixty years later. Both were decommissioned between 1895-1900, having been designated as second-class ships. They were later scrapped.
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Two further Océan-class ironclads were planned. One, Friedland, was much-altered during her eight years on the stocks. Friedland had an iron hull and revised armament scheme, carrying 8 x 10.8” (274mm) guns in place of Océan’s mixed battery. The other modified Océan was wooden-hulled due to iron shortages, and featured layered protection of plate against wood backing common as late as the 1890s. This ship only took four years to construct to the point of launching; unfortunately for France, British construction time start to finish was the same length. - This second modified Océan was the battleship Richelieu, not to be confused with the WWII-era ship of identical name. This early central battery and barbette ship is shown here; like Friedland, she mounted 10.8”(274mm) in her central battery amidships on her gun deck, with three such weapons on each side. She also carried a pair of 9.4” (239mm) weapons in exposed barbettes on both upper corners of the central battery, a pattern repeated for both sides of the ship. One further 9.4” was mounted in her bow. - Richelieu had an interesting, but short, career. Mostly serving as a flagship in the Mediterranean, she caught on fire at Toulon in 1880 and was scuttled to protect her magazines; she was righted, refloated, and returned to service within a year. Her new life was cut short in 1886 when she was placed in reserve, but prior she tested torpedo nets and played a major role in the French decision not to adopt the feature on their battleships. After 14 years of limited use, she was listed for disposal at the turn of the century; another 11 years of uselessness later she was sold for scrapping. Yet she broke free of her tow in a storm en route, and had to be hunted down after drifting about. - From these vessels onwards, French capital ships would grow in size and caliber alongside the massive machines put to sea by Italy and Great Britain. France’s use of barbettes kept their ships relevant against low-freeboard turret ships; concurrently, smaller station frigates were built to project power elsewhere. This would spark the eventual creation of the first cruiser. In the meantime, the days of wood waned.
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Next! Another new 25 out of the mold. Some new things coming up from Dorado in the next few weeks. Stay tuned! #doradoboats #dorado25 #doradocustomboats #dorado_boats #hazegrey
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The ironclad age was the last great era for the Marine Nationale for 70 years. Parity was Britain was achieved through experimentation and forward thinking; three major French warship traits that would play a critical role in battleship development over the 20 years between 1870 and 1890 were the following: - • barbette-mounted guns, which were in this sense unarmored mounts placed on a revolving pedestal. The barbette mount was the lightweight alternative to the turret, providing large degrees of rotation during battle while allowing guns to be mounted higher on a ship with no stability consequences. • Interrupted-screw breech-loading rifles. This prevented double loading, was faster than muzzle loading, and allowed rotating mounts to be sponsoned off the edge of the ship. • Tumblehome hulls. Producing iron, and later steel, were difficult processes for the French in terms of available raw materials. Armor belts were thus placed close to the waterline, with lighter plating positioned nearer the rails. Tumblehome allowed for a broad stable hull with the ship narrowing up its broadside height; this saved weight and allowed for higher mounted barbettes, which in turn also created more freeboard (the distance between the waterline and the deck edge) and better seakeeping as a result. - France lost parity with Britain by 1868. The latter had a policy of building two ships for every one put into the water by France; the result was numerical supremacy. Yet France still produced capable ironclads. Three central battery ships of 7,775 tons were launched in the waning years of the 1860s as part of the Océan class; Océan herself is seen here, sporting mild tumblehome and a sweeping ram bow. The class carried 4 x 10.8” in a central battery and 4 x 9.4” in top deck barbettes. These ships, sisters Marengo and Suffren included, would mainly serve to protect French colonies. They were scrapped in the 1890s, but are worth a mention as an interesting starting point to the French battleship lineage.
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Quintessential #PNW photo, no editing, no filter. Yesterday was just a very grey day. #pnwphotographer #pnwphotography #pnwphotographers #pnwphotos #nikond3400 #hazegrey
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Some before and after photos of USS Minneapolis (CA-36) and USS New Orleans (CA-32) from the Battle of Tassafaronga. CA-36 is the first set of pics, CA-32 is the second. Slide 3 shows the temporary bow used to shore the ship up enough to steam about under their own power; originally this stop-gap was comprised of tropical tree logs since the PT base at Tulagi had insufficent means to do repairs of this caliber. Once stabilized with logs, they headed to Australia for further repairs in the form of the bow shown, then on to the US when seaworthy. While the logs were being installed, the ships were heavily camouflaged at Tulagi with netting, as seen in the last photo of New Orleans.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part VIII — Tulagi became a mass of improvised repairs, with logs used to shore up the missing bows on both Minneapolis and New Orleans. The pair left for Espiritu Santo with stunted temporary bows on 12 December. The extent of lost bow is visible on New Orleans in the background of this photo, while PT-109 ferries survivors from USS Northampton. - Pensacola headed for Espiritu Santo after brief repairs, arriving on 6 December. The damage dealt to these three cruisers would take nearly a year to repair wholly. The USN had suffered another devastating tactical defeat, so soon on the heels of the much-lauded victory against Kirishima just two weeks prior. Yet damage control was demonstrably better than it had been in August, as shown by the immense damage dealt to the three surviving heavy cruisers. And the Tokyo Express was still on the ropes. PT boats would pester their efforts throughout December, as detailed in an earlier post in this series; meanwhile the US would launch another witch-hunt for culpability. - Poor marksmanship, lack of spotter plane cover, micro-management of destroyers, delay of torpedo launch, and poor overall coordination of Task Force components led to the defeat. Yet Wright, for all his faults, took the blame for barging into the torpedo barrage, and opening fire too soon. Fletcher’s commander was condemned for firing torpedoes at too great a range, then disengaging; Honolulu received no such criticism despite mirroring Fletcher’s wise avoidance of the firing line. - This would be the last major naval battle of the Guadalcanal campaign. In the following months, the Japanese were thwarted and pressed out as their logistics failed them; yet one final cruiser had to pay her weight. This would occur at the end of January, with the ship that first allowed the IJN into Savo Sound: USS Chicago. The period leading to this battle will be our next topic.
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It's about that time! See y'all in a month! #hazegrey
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part VII — Honolulu did not find an enemy. Most of Tanaka’s cargo was still aboard his fleeing destroyers, and what had floated off of Takanami remained adrift in the dark near the discarded cargoes from Oyashio and Kuroshio. In the confusion of the morning, she shelled one of the beached transport hulks from Tanaka’s failed invasion force on 15 November. Honolulu was actively in control of Task Force operations from midnight on, patrolling while rescue efforts ramped up. - 60’ of Minneapolis’ bow was gone, while New Orleans, shown here, was missing 120’. The former fought the flooding to within feet of submersion, finally being aided by the venerable USS Bobolink at 04:45. With pumps churning, she was guided the 18 miles to Tulagi at a speed of 3 kn under the escort of the fleet tug plus Lamson and Lardner. Her sister was engaged in her own struggles. New Orleans’ foremost intact bulkhead was barely holding as the ship made 2 kn towards Tulagi. After a couple of hours fighting fires and stabilizing the ship’s power supply, she was able to make 5 kn; USS Maury came to her aide and escorted the vessel over a grueling four hour crawl to relative safety, arriving along the shore at 06:10. - Pensacola had been suffering from ammunition cook-off for three hours following her initial damage. USS Perkins aided her with fire hoses, and she, too, limped towards the PT base. She would be the last to arrive, completing her journey by late morning. - Northampton fared worst. Ordered abandoned after damage control efforts lost effect at 01:15, the vast majority of her crew was picked up by Fletcher and Drayton around 02:00. Forty minutes later, as she listed to 35°, her captain jumped free of his ship; at 03:04, Northampton was sucked down into the depths of Ironbottom Sound for good. Total US losses were over 400 men killed; the Japanese had comparatively lost about 200. Takanami sank at 01:37, the only Japanese ship casualty. Task Force 67, however, was shattered for the second time in three weeks.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part VI — Pensacola, Northampton, and Honolulu continued the fight, with Pensacola on an inward track closer to the fleeing Japanese destroyers. But Tanaka’s express was not done. Running parallel to the remaining American cruisers, and with the US vanguard destroyers effectively turned away for fear of friendly fire, the IJN unleashed another concentrated wave of lethal waterborne weapons. - Honolulu continued her rapid output, slinging 6” shells towards the Japanese line. Astern, the crippled New Orleans accidentally opened fire on USS Lamson, prompting her to turn east away from the battlefield. Lardner faced a similar barrage of American munitions from the secondaries aboard flaming cruisers. But it was the remaining cruisers that faced the most danger. Twelve minutes after Minneapolis and New Orleans were struck, Pensacola suffered a violent explosion on her port stern abeam turret 3; this crippled three of her four turrets and drenched her superstructure in oil, slinging flammables all about the ship. And men burned. With fire mains failing and a serious list, Pensacola was forces to turn towards Tulagi as her speed dropped to 8 kn. - Off to starboard, USS Northampton was still pounding heavy shells towards Tanaka’s destroyermen. Without the agility of Honolulu, she stumbled into two torpedoes at 23:48, ten minutes after Pensacola was hit. These fish came from Oyashio. Just like on Pensacola, the strike came aft along her oil bunkers and showered the stern of the ship in burning fuel, as shown in this illustration (author unknown). With her guts open to the sea, Northampton had to be brought to a complete stop; she listed heavily. - To the west, two IJN destroyers made a final run back towards the four crippled cruisers but all torpedoes missed. USS Drayton to the north fired off a salvo towards Tanaka’s main body. Oyashio and Kuroshio stopped by Takanami’s wreck to pluck survivors from the surrounding waters. The US vanguard circled around Savo Island and headed back towards the stricken heavies. Honolulu maneuvered to avoid Savo Island and turned towards Guadalcanal, tasked with mopping up any landings or supply retrievals.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part V — Tanaka’s ships were caught by surprise and some formation confusion had resulted. Takanami was out of commission, yet Tanaka’s contingency plan was in effect and working. His ships had turned to retreat while pouring thousands of pounds of warheads into the Sound’s formerly smooth surface; only Takanami had broken gun discipline, and that was in self-defense. The superior American force chugged ahead with guns crackling. The battle was seven minutes old. - Then Minneapolis erupted. Two long lances struck her bow, sending up towering blasts of water and debris. Men were hurled against bulkheads and the ship’s keel bent, allowing the entire bow to bend down in front of the vessel like an immense trowel. Water slammed back down onto the decks, extinguishing fires from the initial explosion. Minneapolis listed and slowed. The time was 23:27, and she had only fired nine salvoes. - USS New Orleans had to take immediate action to avoid the shattered Minneapolis (shown here after the battle), turning hard right into another Japanese torpedo. The explosion on her port bow triggered a dual magazine detonation that ripped off her bow and turret I; the severed portion then gouged along the cruiser’s hull while she veered away from the action towards Tulagi. At a speed of only 4 kn and with her gaping bow a mass of burning steel, New Orleans was beaten. - The remaining cruisers swung to avoid the two crippled ships as well, while Minneapolis’ turrets summoned enough power for three final salvoes. USS Pensacola nearly passed into one of these, heading between CA-36 and the Japanese line; in this position she too would find disaster. Honolulu managed to turn to the far side of the flaming ships, thus remaining engaged and combat effective; Northampton followed suit.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part IV — Fletcher and the van destroyers, shown here during the afternoon of 30 November looking aft from DD-445 herself, launched their torpedo spreads into the night with startling rapidity. Fletcher launched ten in one minute, while USS Perkins (DD-377) got off eight. On the other hand, USS Maury (DD-401) only fired two and Drayton (DD-366) fired none. Both of these ships had difficulty obtaining firing solutions with their less-capable radars. - Meanwhile, Takanami had sighted the shapes of American ships, though for whatever reason her sighting report came much later than the time stamp at which she claimed such knowledge. She was the closest to the American line, and may well have spotted the American ships minutes prior to Fletcher’s request to fire. Regardless, American ships began the attack first. One minute after the start of the torpedo salvoes, Wright ordered his cruisers to open fire; Minneapolis and New Orleans complied immediately, sending 8” shells screaming into the night. The torpedoes had barely begun their runs, and already the flashes of gunfire alerted Tanaka to their potential presence. Wright had broken with his plan once again by rushing into combat. - Lamson fired star shells into the sky right as Tanaka’s destroyers began spinning their torpedo tubes towards their attackers. After two minutes, Honolulu’s rapid fire guns barked into action. US destroyer guns joined the volley, and Japanese fish hit the water, motors whirring. Takanami, by position, had to fire and turn to remain safe from friendly torpedo trajectories; by this action she made herself a target. She finally opened up with her artillery, the first flashes of Japanese-produced light that night. - 70 shells would not be enough to save her, and the US cruisers pummeled her into a flaming hulk. As fire shifted towards the main Japanese line, Tanaka ordered a hard starboard turn aboard Naganami; but Kuroshio and Oyashio continued forward, firing two and eight torpedoes respectively. Suzukaze and Kawakaze added their fish to the churning waters as well but followed the flagship. More than 20 long lances were now arcing towards American hulls.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part III — Tanaka cut a meandering course down through The Slot, luckily dodging the eyes of an American recon plane in the murky early morning. Planning a drop-and-go operation, Tanaka’s force had the advantage; he was not seeking an engagement, and his enemy had little information on his whereabouts and strength. As his ships churned ever closer, reports reached him about a screen of destroyers near Lunga Point, and cruisers headed up from the south. Yet Tanaka did not flinch. - After a full day of travel for both the USN and IJN forces, the opponents entered Savo Sound just after 22:00 on the night of 30 November. Wright’s force maneuvered across the sound, keeping the cruisers in line ahead with Minneapolis leading, followed by New Orleans, Pensacola, Honolulu (shown), and Northampton. Lamson and Lardner followed CA-26 while the four van destroyers maneuvered as an independent group. In the pitch black night, a radar screen pipped out a contact nearly 12 miles distant just after 23:00. For eight tense minutes, the contact was quietly monitored. - Wright broke the first tenet of his plan, bringing his columns together. Meanwhile Tanaka reduced speed and began mirroring the coast, drawing near to his supply drop point. His ships were also in column, except for Takanami off to port as a screen. Naganami led the line; Makanami, Oyashio, Kuroshio, Kagero, Kawakaze, and Suzukaze followed in that order. On they came while the radar operator aboard USS Fletcher charted their progress. The range narrowed down to 3.5 nmi and still the Japanese were unaware of their foe. - Yet Wright’s plan was already unraveling. His spotter planes, dispatched to Tulagi earlier in the afternoon, had been unable to take off due to the stillness of the night. So TF 67 prepared to fight without the aid of air-dropped illumination flares, and out with that tactic went Wright’s confidence. At 7,000 yds Fletcher requested permission to fire torpedoes, and in true Guadalcanal fashion, the Admiral hesitated. He queried the wisdom of such range openly, a pause that cost him 4 minutes. When he finally gave the order at 23:20, Tanaka’s destroyers were directly to port.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part II — Wright’s newly rejuvenated TF 67 had barely time to greet their new commander before word reached Espiritu Santo that a large number of Japanese destroyers were missing from their anchorage at Buin, at the southern tip of Bougainville. An Australian coastwatcher had spotted the discrepancy by comparing the morning mast count to the previous day; by his estimation, a dozen ships were missing. But activity in the area had not gone unnoticed, and TF 67 had been ordered to action the previous day. Wright departed Espiritu Santo on the morning of the 30th, while to the northeast Admiral Tanaka and his Tokyo Express were casting off and slipping into the dark morning. - Tanaka’s force for this run consisted of eight destroyers laded with float-off supply drums and some limited reinforcements. There were no dedicated transports. Naganami and Takanami were tasked with patrolling the perimeter of Tanaka’s formation, while Makanami, Kuroshio, Kagero, Oyashio, Kawakaze, and Suwakaze were laden with supplies and men. Kagero and Oyashio had seen action at the very end of the battle between Kirishima and Washington, firing torpedoes into BB-56’s wake early on the morning of the 15th. Now they were back. - The balance of Wright’s force included the destroyers USS Maury, Perkins, and Drayton. Two others, USS Lamson (DD-367) and Lardner (DD-487) were detached from a convoy run returning from Cactus and ordered to join TF 67. They took up station in the rear of Wright’s line, without sufficient instruction on the detailed Kinkaid battle plan that Wright intended to utilize. The lead units had SG radar, with cruisers steaming in column and destroyers off to starboard. In Japanese fashion, the destroyers were to attack with torpedoes when directed by the SG-equipped ships; radio silence, light discipline, and even the early departure of the force’s aircraft were all considered under this rigorous plan. These were lessons hard-learned, from the 4 major naval battles prior. - Despite the presence of a plan, a pair of veteran night-fighting ships, and USS Northampton (CA-26, shown), herself proven at Santa Cruz, Tanaka was still a dire threat.
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Battle of Tassafaronga — Part I — After the successful culmination of the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the USN celebrated their surface victory by shaking up the leadership yet again. As with the replacement of Norman Scott by Daniel Callaghan, another fighting admiral was to be re-assigned just after creating a detailed, lesson-inclusive battle plan for future night engagements. Thomas Kinkaid had replaced Callaghan post-mortem as commander of the cruiser group; since nearly all of the cruisers of TG 67.4 had been damaged or sunk, the force was bolstered by new arrivals. USS Helena (CL-50) and her new commander would be the only cruiser returning from the previous surface fights in Savo Sound; the destroyer USS Fletcher (DD-445) would be the only veteran destroyer. New additions would come in the form of USS Pensacola (CA-24), finally detached from carrier escort duty. USS Northampton (CA-26) and New Orleans (CA-32) rounded out the heavy ships, while USS Honolulu (CL-48) filled out the cruiser ranks. Kinkaid would only command this force for a matter of days. - Other changes were forthcoming. Halsey was promoted, and the US Army began to take responsibility for the boots on the ground, taking Maj. Gen. Vandegrift and the USMC mostly out of the equation after months of toil. The Japanese reworked their supply plans, sending destroyers every four days while beginning to swing their ambitions more towards New Georgia. Tulagi’s PTs were bolstered by another MTB squadron, as covered last month. USS McCalla (DD-488) had some success destroying nearly 40 coastal landing boats on the 25th, the transport Chihaya Maru was bombed on the 28th, and USS Alchiba was torpedoed by a midget submarine and beached that same day, as also covered last month. These were the actions during Kinkaid’s short tenure; while Alchiba burned, Rear Admiral Carleton H. Wright arrived aboard USS Minneapolis (CA-36), tasked with replacing Kinkaid. Minneapolis is shown here during target practice in 1939; after only two days in the Solomons, she would meet the enemy.
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So ever hear the saying Haze Grey and Underway? Well...this was my view today. There are two Littoral Combat Ships in this picture. They were about 40 yds from me and are 378 feet in length.No filters. #faithfamilyadventure #hazegrey #worldschool #explormore #hideinplainsight #overland #lifeaid #florida #mfceoproject #garyvee #xterra
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Operation Torch — Part XXV — TF 34 would begin to shed its respective assault groups on the morning of 7 November, with TG 34.10 breaking off and heading for Safi to the south. TG 34.2, comprised of the carriers Ranger and Suwannee plus USS Cleveland (CL-55) and five destroyers, departed for their mission area in the early afternoon. TG 34.1, the Covering Group of BB-59, the heavy cruisers Wichita and Tuscaloosa, and four destroyers, also left the main body around the same time. At 16:00, TG 34.8 split off, headed for Mehedia in the north; TG 34.9 carried on alone, headed for Fedala as the center attack group. - Each of the three attack groups was guided in to their disembarkation point by a beacon submarine. These boats from SubRon 50, had been on station in advance for several days prior. They were eventually destined for Roseneath, Scotland, where they would fight under British command; but their initial mission was reconnaissance and beacon duty off the African continent. Organized as TG 34.11, the group comprised five submarines. A sixth, USS Gurnard (SS-254), would later round out the squadron when they reached Scotland. Three of the squadron are shown in Dwight Clark Shepler’s 1943 watercolor at bottom; the title is “Jerry Hunters, Roseneath, Scotland.” - Present off the landing beaches were USS Barb (SS-220), Shad (SS-235), Gunnel (SS-253), and Herring (SS-233); Barb was to the south off Safi, Shad to the north off Mehedia, and Gunnel and Herring were both near Fedala closest to Casablanca. The fifth submarine, USS Blackfish (SS-221), was stationed much further down the coast off West Africa. She is shown at top at Groton, CT in July 1942. - Her task was critical, and linked to the use of USS Massachusetts (BB-59) for the operation when such a ship was critically needed in the Pacific. Blackfish was to watch Dakar. Within that harbor sat the most powerful French naval vessel in Africa; the battleship Richelieu. Her status was unknown, and a modern battleship had been included in the invasion force as a direct counter to Richelieu. It was guessed that she would sortie when the attack began, and Blackfish was to report her movements and try to stop her.
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France! — I’ve promised it multiple times, and yet have not started it. But the interest shown in French ships from my Operation Torch series and my Toulon anniversary posts have provoked the start of something you’ll hopefully find as fascinating as I do; Class Clashes France! - In tandem with the launch of this series, @the@the_ww2_gallery will be diving into French carriers and aviation of the WWII era. He and I will be doing this complimentary study under the tag #marinenationaleinfocus as a means of exploring the complex design theories put into practice in one of the world’s most unique navies ever to put to sea. - The Marine Nationale has a rich history full of tradition and political influence; while not as dominant historically as the Royal Navy, they were nevertheless the primary threat to Britain’s rule of the seas prior to the production of the first German battleships. France has had an enduring naval legacy, not just in battleships, but in torpedo boats, destroyers, cruisers, and submarines as well. If anything, they were more impactful in the development of smaller types of warship than in capital ships. But as a major sea-going nation, their capital ships were a sign of prestige. And we will cover them, class by class, over the coming weeks. - As an ever-forward thinking nation, they were the first nation to functionally take aircraft to sea with the seaplane carrier Foudre in 1912. After the war they were one of only four nations on Earth to operate an aircraft carrier prior to WWII. This end of the spectrum will comprise @the_ww2_gallery ‘s half of the project. We will be covering two different time periods initially, myself covering the early roots of their big ship programs. But the final result should be comprehensive. Turn on post notifications for both of our pages, and enjoy; my series will also be cataloged under #classclashesfrance . Here, the battleship Bouvet steams slowly in harbor likely at Mudros, or Corfu. The photo seems to have been taken from the armored cruiser Jules Michelet, based on the turret shape, single sighting hood, and air intakes. I could not chronologically reconcile both ships in either harbor at the same time though.
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Operation Torch — Part XXIII — I’ve covered the landings and initial naval actions in both the Eastern and Central objectives, Algiers and Oran. While those assaults were beginning, the USN was mounting a three-pronged attack on French Morocco as the Western Task Force. The forthcoming posts will detail the exploits of US Task Force 34. - TF 34, while a Presidentially-mandated priority, nevertheless had to pull what scraps it could without affecting the Guadalcanal campaign out in the Pacific. Most of the Navy’s offensive power was concentrated around the Solomons at that time, and the Marines were similarly occupied. That left the Army to execute the amphibious landings in the Atlantic, and presented a major issue regarding available air cover. - Of the USN’s seven fleet carriers (not counting Langley), four had been sunk in the Pacific and two others damaged. That left the smaller and slower USS Ranger (CV-4) as the only one in the Atlantic; she would be supplemented by four Cimarron-class oilers converted into escort carriers. These became the Sangamon class, which were rushed into service with shortened work-up times to make them available for the operation. Though capable of carrying only 30 aircraft, these ships would be critical for establishing air superiority in TF 34’s area of responsibility. As detailed in a much earlier post, USS Chenango (ACV-28) was tasked with ferrying USAAF P-40s for land use; Sangamon (ACV-26) was assigned to the northern assault. Ranger and Suwannee (ACV-27) supported the central assault, while Santee (ACV-29) covered the south. - Here, Sangamon (ACV-26) steams for Morocco in November 1942 escorted by USS Hambleton (DD-455) of DesDiv19. Macomb (DD-458) was also attached to this team and escorted Chenango. The escort carrier hull designation prefix would change from ACV to CVE in July 1943, so we will call them ACVs in this series for accuracy’s sake.
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Puget Sound Naval Yard at Bremerton, WA in 1940. This has been popping up all over the place lately but I did some extra digging and have a general idea of what ships these are; overall there are eight battleships, including two in drydock, and the carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) along with what looks like a couple of oilers and a cruiser. - Based on bow shape and their triple turrets, the ship at the left pier is one of the Tennessees, as is the lower battleship on the furthest right pier. In front of her is one of the Colorados, with twin turrets. The two drydocked battleships are also Colorados, accounting for the entire class. Across the water from Enterprise is one of the New Yorks; New York herself as Texas was in the Atlantic at the time. Across the pier to port is another standard, which to my eyes appears to have a twin turret superfiring over a triple. So that would be either Nevada or Oklahoma. I cannot figure out the battleship inland of the New York, but it has to be either Pennsylvania, Arizona, or the other Nevada sister based on her bow.
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HMS Renown, August 1945. Her WWII lines have been growing on me rapidly lately; she was the only battlecruiser afloat by the end of the war. Relevant to Operation Torch, she was also Force H alumni from that event.
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An unsung but crucial part of Operation Torch played out along the beaches around Oran, specifically near St. Leu at the furthest east beach from Arzeu, and at Mersa Bou Zedjar at the furthest western point of the Central Assault Force’s AO. These two fringe beaches benefitted from the presence of three odd ships, the likes of which would play heavily into future landings on both sides of the world. These were prototypes, converted from Venezuelan river oilers from Lake Maracaibo. Their purpose was to carry tanks. - Misoa is shown at top during her days as a shoal draft oiler. She features an angled hull, shallower in draught at the bow. Designed to deliver oil over shallow river shoals, she only drew 10’ aft and 7’ forward. At 60’ beam and nearly 400’ long, she and the other ships were capable of transporting nearly 600 tons. As modified, Misoa, Tasajera and Bachaquero could carry either twenty-two 25-ton tanks or an equally helpful forty 5-ton trucks, as per historian Samuel E. Morison. This cargo could also be unloaded directly into shallow water or onto a beach via a specially designed and installed bow door. A sliding ramp made the transition from ship to shore even more seamless. - During Torch, Bachaquero brought a mobile force to the westernmost beach. She is shown at bottom (© IWM [A 20036]) unloading a Valentine some time later in the war. Tasajera and Misoa were at the easternmost beach. All were praised for their efficiency in unloading their armored units; at Morocco and Algiers, post-operation reports wished for the same type of ship. These vessels would be further developed into the purpose-built and mass-produced LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) so essential in later amphibious invasions.
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Cool Haze Grey BCT rod!! #beamishcustomtackle #bctcustomrod #hazegrey
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Operation Torch — Part XX — HMS Boadicea’s shells had missed Tornade entirely. The accuracy of the French gun crews had quickly put the British destroyer in danger, forcing the newer ship to break off the engagement and fight the fires running rampant around her 4.7” ammunition. But Tornade’s shell splashes had drawn the attention of HMS Calpe, another British destroyer that had been headed west looking for a reported French convoy. Calpe opened fire, near-missing Tornade immediately. - HMS Aurora, shown here pre-war, had by now swung towards the attacking French ships again. Tornade pressed her crumpled bow into the waves in a spasm of maneuvers before loosing a pair of torpedoes in Aurora’s direction; both British ships opened up on the crippled French vessel. That was 06:50. Tornade fired off another six torpedoes and steered for the coast, towards Tramontane’s burning wreck. Aurora ceased fire to maneuver, while Typhon to the east called her crew to action stations and turned from her rescue boats, coming to the aid of Tornade. Her gunners found a solution on the pursuing HMS Calpe and opened fire, swinging into formation with Tornade. At 06:55, Aurora, having evaded the French torpedoes, picked up speed and began pounding 6” salvoes into the coastal fog. The chase was on. - The French ships swerved along the coastline, varying their speed as they alternated fire at the British ships. For 15 minutes the running battle was a stalemate. But at 07:10, Aurora got the better of Tornade, striking home with at least six shells from two salvoes in a span of five minutes. Tornade’s hull was holed beneath the waterline, and her engine room disabled by explosions and casualties; one of her gun mounts was put out of action and a magazine flooded from the penetrations. She turned out of line and crashed into shallow rocks, her crew leaping off the burning ship. She had fired off around 300 shells since encountering HMS Boadicea. Twelve of her crew were dead. - Typhon was now on her own. Despite firing a torpedo at Aurora, the chase continued; low on ammunition, she turned for home at 07:19. Having fired over 500 rounds herself, Aurora ceased fire and let Typhon escape.
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Before I get too far from Operation Reservist, here’s what looks like a drawing of HMS Walney charging into Oran Harbor. Note the British Ensign and the US national flag both flying from the mast in tandem. I was looking for something with some color and found this instead. The print seems heavily damaged, but details we can pick out are a spotlight from the heights above the harbor and what looks like another spotlight directly ahead in the harbor. Another vessel is to Walney’s left; I’m assuming that’s one of the British MLs that escorted the cutters in. The water is peppered with bullet and shell splashes; it may not be the clearest image but its inherent chaos is made even more striking by the damaged copy. A terrifying event.
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Operation Torch — Part XIX — Two additional groups of combatants ventured out of Oran Harbor during the early morning of 8 November; the first was a trio of submarines. Argonaute, the smallest of the three at 630 tons, was sent east. Fresnel and Actéon, though older than Argonaute, were nevertheless significantly larger at 1,500 tons. The larger pair were sent west. All three had been in service over a decade, yet posed a significant threat to the invasion forces. - The second group was a trio of destroyers: Tramontane, Typhon, and Tornade, the last of which is seen here. All three had been built in the 1920s as part of the Bourrasque-class, yet were larger, faster, and better armed than their British contemporaries. With the destruction of Hartland and Walney under their collective belts, they got underway just after 04:30. Tramontane left harbor first at 05:00, with Typhon right behind. Tornade, blinded by the fire and smoke from Hartland’s wreck, smashed into the breakwater on her way out, much as Hartland had done on the way in. With this damage she limped out into open water. - Tramontane was down a gun mount due to damage caused by HMS Walney, but managed to find trouble first. At 05:42 she spotted the light cruiser HMS Aurora; one minute later she was engaged. Tramontane’s first and third mounts were disabled, quickly followed by her second and last functional mount. Her captain was killed immediately, and her injured navigator took evasive action. Over the next 15 minutes, her No. 3 mount came back to life, firing until her ammunition was depleted; after this, four 6” shells from Aurora shattered the forward portion of the ship. Aurora had fired at her 213 times, and 28 French sailors were dead; the ship was abandoned and left to drift aflame until she grounded two hours later. - Typhon watched the engagement from a distance while closing for a torpedo solution. At 06:10 she let loose a salvo of two fish, then turned to rescue Tramontane’s survivors. Aurora broke off to evade; Tornade, stunted at 10 kn, lagged behind, spotting destroyer HMS Boadicea to the west. At 06:45, the damaged ship put a 5.1” shell into the British destroyer’s shell room.
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Operation Torch — Part XVIII — On her way into the harbor, HMS Walney had attempted to ram a small, 647 ton minesweeping sloop of the Chamois-class. This little colonial vessel had been laid down as Bambora in 1938 and completed in 1940 only three months before the Fall of France; this was La Surprise, a thin-skinned ship armed with only a single 100mm gun aft plus three machine gun mounts of twin and quad varieties. Also augmented with depth charges, Surprise was intended as a light patrol unit, and had served in that role during Operation Menace when the British attacked Dakar in 1940. Now, La Surprise was Oran, and she had been tasked with investigating reports of invasion forces in Andalouses Bay. Though the majority of functional French units had been ordered to light off their boilers between 02:20 and 03:00 that morning due to reports of mysterious ships off shore, La Surprise would head west by herself after leaving harbor. - The sloop made for her patrol area with the objective of reconnoitering the waters there. She arrived at 06:20 and within ten minutes located four transports and the British destroyers tasked with escorting the force. After radioing this information back to Oran, Surprise’s captain, under conference with his replacement-in-training, elected to attack the invaders. HMS Brilliant, a B-class destroyer from the early 1930s, spotted La Surprise and challenged her via signal lamp; turning to point her lone 100mm gun at the British ship, Surprise opened fire, sending two rounds over Brilliant’s decks before popping smoke just after 06:40. At a distance of less than a mile though, Surprise had nowhere to run, and little meaningful power to fight back; her single 3.9” was no match for her opponent’s 4 x 4.7” guns. Brilliant, at more than twice the displacement of the sloop, tore her target apart, splitting Surprise’s sides with multiple salvoes. The little ship listed and sank just after 07:00, the battle having lasted just minutes. Of her crew of 108, twenty-one were wounded. Fifty-five went down with the ship, and the rest were hauled aboard Brilliant as POWs. - Back in harbor, a more powerful sortie had begun, this time headed east.
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British Battleship HMS Bellerophon in action at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916. #dadreadnoughts #hazegrey #dreadnought
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