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Ship Photo of the Day

Randy Daytona

Cold War Relic
Super Moderator
Friday night - how 'bout an airship. USS Macon (ZRS-5) carried 8 .30 mg's as well as 3 internal fighters for protection.
Length: 785 ft, diameter: 132 ft, 12 gas cells carrying 6,500,000 cubic feet of helium capable of lifting just over 160,000 lbs
8 Maybach 560 HP V-12's gave a top speed of 75 knots, range of 5,900 miles and a ceiling of 26,000 ft
Commissioned: 23 June 1933 crashed 12 Feb 1935 and stricken soon afterwards

1933 USS Macon Dirigible brought into berth at Lakehurst, NJ

USS Macon (ZRS-5) flying over New York Harbor, circa Summer 1933.

Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighters (including # 9055, at left, and 9057, in lower right) flying in a V formation, circa 1933–1935. These planes were part of the heavier-than-air group of USS Macon (ZRS-5).

Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk fighter (Bureau # 9057), piloted by Lieutenant D. Ward Harrigan, USN, hanging from the trapeze of USS Macon (ZRS-5) during flight operations in 1933.

USS Macon (ZRS-5) docked in the new airship hangar at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Sunnyvale, California, 15 October 1933, following her flight across the United States from Lakehurst, New Jersey.


Big hairy American winning machine
Super Moderator
I do wonder how rigid airships would have fared in a world with better WX forecasting. It seems their main nemesis was CBs and squall lines.


Pope of Chili Town
I do wonder how rigid airships would have fared in a world with better WX forecasting. It seems their main nemesis was CBs and squall lines.
I've had this thought too, but I think they'd still be limited by ability to escape weather outside their limits.

Renegade One

Well-Known Member
The top speed of 75 kts is impressive. I wonder how long their typical or objective/design mission length was?

My second CO in my first squadron (he was an F-4 RIO then) started out as a Naval Aviation Observer (pre-cursor to NFO) in ZPG-3W "Vigilance" AEW blimps on the Atlantic Barrier patrol, operating out of NAS Lakehurst. The ZPG-3W was unique in that the huge antenna for the early warning radar was enclosed inside the helium-filled envelope.

He had one month in his logbook that was 96 hours... on 2 sorties. More interesting, he said crew members only got "logbook flight time" when performing on-the-system duties...eating, reading and sleeping in the rack didn't count.

Randy Daytona

Cold War Relic
Super Moderator
Was reading through "Neptune's Inferno" and went back to take a look at USS Washington (BB-56) and USS South Dakota (BB-57) Here are some photos and an account of the battle 14-15 Nov 1942, of particular note was that 5 Japanese destroyers launched a point blank spread of 34 torpedoes at the South Dakota but all missed, likewise the Washington dodged a spread of 32 torpedoes. Considering how much damage the Long Lance could do, the battlewagons were lucky. On the other hand, the Washington opened up with her 16" main guns at point blank range at exactly midnight on the Kirishima - by 00:07, the Kirishima was a blazing wreck. Saw a good writeup of the battle and thought it should be included with the photos

Undated port side forward broadside view of the Washington (BB-56) at anchor, protected by an anti-torpedo net. Electronics and light A.A. armament equipment narrow this photo time frame from September, 1942 to the summer, 1943. The notch in the main deck forward is for extra anchor storage and was known as the 'billboard".

Photo taken during the battle off Savo Island showing the Washington (BB-56) firing upon the Kirishima on 14-15 November 1942. The low elevation of the barrels shows how the close range of the adversaries; only 8,400 yards, point blank range for the 16"/45 caliber main armament of the Washington.

Washington (BB-56) after the night action of 14-15 November 1942.

Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee, Jr., USN, Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken on board Washington (BB-56), circa 1942-43.

Underway in the Atlantic during her shakedown period, 22 July 1942. Unique to the South Dakota (BB-57) is the fact that she only mounted eight twin 5"/38 mounts, four to a side. The rest of the class were armed with the standard ten twin mounts. The South Dakota was designed as a fleet flagship from the outset, so she sacrificed two 5" mounts for flag officer space


South Dakota (BB-57) is leaving Philadelphia on 4 June 1942 for her shakedown training to 26 July

Plate No. I showing gunfire damage report inflicted on the South Dakota (BB-57) during the battle at Guadalcanal, 14 - 15 November, 1942

PDF Action report of the Battleship Night Action between the U.S. and Japanese forces off Savo Island on November 14-15, 1942. The following text by Pieter Bakels is a summation of the battle.

At 2300 exactly on the night of 14-15 November 1942, the "SG" surface search radar of the battleship Washington (BB-56), following the destroyers Walke (DD-416), Benham (DD-397), Preston (DD-377) and Gwin (DD-433) with another battleship astern, the new South Dakota, began tracking a target, bearing 340T, broad on the starboard bow, distant eighteen thousand yards.

The main battery Directors of Washington trained towards the larger of two targets, the Japanese cruiser Sendai under the command of Rear Admiral Hashimoto. Within seconds the rangekeeper had a firing solution and Washington's three Main Battery turrets swung to starboard, guns elevated for a range of eleven thousands yards. "Commence Firing!" was ordered at 2317 and "all hell broke loose", as Washington blasted a nine–gun salvo at Sendai, Hunter Cronin in Secondary Conn, ("Battle 2") wrote. Shikinami, the second target was taken under fire by the battleship's starboard Secondary Battery directed by "Sky 3". One minute later, South Dakota rained down shells on the destroyer Shikinami.
Aboard South Dakota, William P. Gray was assigned to Main Battery Fire Control Maintenance and Operations. His battle station was Main battery Director #1 as Director Captain/Pointer. He wrote in his memoirs: "The first Main battery action, Savo Island, first sighting of enemy warships. We were ordered to pick out the biggest and commence firing. The closing of Main Battery. Firing key against enemy warships for the first time. Shells on the way and Spotting Officer calling: "No change! No change!" Her bridge and spotting personnel saw Shikinami roll over and sink according to the Action Report.

However, Sendai and Shikinami retired in a loop behind a smoke screen, disappearing from view and radar in the closely confined waters of "Ironbottom Sound". When the two Japanese ships retreated behind their smoke screens, the destroyers Walke, Benham, Preston and Gwin opened fire on them and on blobs of light, coming from the direction of the shoreline of Savo Island. The Japanese had not emplaced batteries on Savo but the fire was coming from the destroyers Ayanami and Uranami, sent west around Savo; within their wake the cruiser Nagara (Rear Admiral Kimura) and the destroyers Teruzuki, Inazuma, Shirayuki and Hatsuyuki. The duel was short, ferocious and uneven.

Unskilled in night fighting and saving their torpedoes for bigger stuff, the US destroyers opened up with their guns, Gwin firing starshell to illuminate the scene. Japanese spotters used their gun flashes as fine aiming points. The destroyers Ayanami and Uranami each fired a torpedo spread at Gwin but none hit. However at 2330 Walke, the lead ship, began taking hits from 5- and 5.5-inch and fell off to port and took a torpedo eight minutes later in her starboard side, blowing off the forward part of the ship. "Abandon Ship" was ordered at 2345. Depth charges rolling off their tracks and exploding, killed its Captain and many of her hands as they cleared the ship. The enemy cruisers rained down explosives on Benham, Preston and Gwin and a salvo from Nagara reduced Preston to a wreck and on 2336 she too had to be abandoned with 116 killed.
Then Gwin got hit, taking a pair of 5-inch shells, one in the after engine room and one on the fantail. Her guns continued firing in local control.
Benham took a torpedo in her starboard bow that blew most of it away but limped on with reduced speed, her guns firing rapidly. Walke and Preston were enveloped in fire, their crews struggling in the oily water in the path of Washington and South Dakota. At 2333 the South Dakota went blind and deaf due to a circuit overload and steamed on behind Washington towards the crippled Benham.

Ray Hunter on Washington's bridge, hearing that all communication with South Dakota had been lost, watching the burning remains of Walke and Preston ahead and hundreds of men swimming about, told the helmsman: "come left!" his exact words he later wrote. He then straightened out on a parallel course to the one they were steaming. Leaving the burning destroyers to port and keeping them between Washington and the enemy, he avoided being silhouetted by the fires, an easy target. Dozens of men could be seen in the burning water, clinging to wreckage and life rafts were thrown at them. South Dakota, silent now for three minutes, didn't follow in Washington's wake but sheered off to starboard of the sinking destroyers and presented an excellent silhouette. At once, Hashimoto and Kimura's searchlights illuminated the South Dakota's superstructure. Nagara and four destroyers launched a spread of thirty-four torpedoes at point-blank range but none found their mark. Washington's 5-inch mounts shot out the lights and took Nagara under fire and when her lights went out, switched fire to the accompanying destroyers, illuminating South Dakota. South Dakota began taking hits topside.

Savo Island's land mass made radar tracking difficult and the flashless powder that the Japanese used provided only small aiming points. South Dakota now had restored part of her electrical power and her guns were firing, but she was still unable to communicate with Washington.
Arthur A. Aldred's battle station was at the starboard 40mm quad on the fantail. Early in the action the 40mm crew was ordered to take cover forward of the # 3 16-inch turret because it was going to train around and fire at a target directly astern. He had just taken cover when a salvo was fired and instantly the fantail was ablaze. The muzzle blast had demolished and ignited the three Kingfisher catapult planes. "Had we not taken cover", he wrote, "most of us would have suffered the same fate." The Japanese now had a new aiming point and their fire came in fast. The next 16-inch salvo blew the burning Kingfisher overboard.

At 2340 Admiral Kondo with his main body came up with two destroyers, the cruisers Atago and Takao and the Battleship Kirishima.
Washington had a fire solution for the biggest target, Kirishima within seconds but checked fire, afraid to hit South Dakota, last seen somewhere aft to starboard. At 2345 Benham and Gwin, making best speed were ordered to retire out of the way. At 2355 fire was resumed.
Kondo's ships tracked South Dakota, passing inboard of the smoldering Walke and illuminated her again. Two destroyers launched a torpedo attack but none hit. The Japanese gunners on Kirishima, Atago and Takao at a range of fifty-eight hundred yards did and South Dakota took multiple hits in her superstructure and topside damage was considerable. South Dakota replied with her 16-inch and hit Atago and Takao. However, within five minutes her radar plot was destroyed, radio communication was out and four out of six fire control radars. The #3 16-inch turret had taken a 14-inch hit outboard of the roller path and locked in train. Gunnery stations took casualties, small fires raged in the upperworks and oil was leaking from a ruptured fuel line. Washington's location was not known to her, according to her reports and it was decided to withdraw to the rendezvous assigned by the Task Force Commander prior to the engagement. She had suffered forty-two hits, thirty-eight men were dead and sixty wounded. Just before midnight a target, first thought to be a cruiser, illuminated South Dakota. The target was Kirishima, broad on the Washington beam, at a point-blanc range of eighty-four hundred yards.

At exactly midnight permission was given to open fire.

Washington's nine-gun salvo straddled Kirishima while her Secondary Battery began firing star shells. A hit was reported on the enemy's superstructure and the third 16-inch salvo landed squarely amidships, causing bright explosions. South Dakota was still under fire from Atago and Takao and Washington's 5-inch mounts were directed against the two cruisers and shot out their searchlights, placing hits on superstructures and fires broke out on Atago. Washington's turn to the left had made her invisible in the loom of Cape Esperance, taking the Japanese by surprise. A report was received from Sky Control that the big target was sunk and fire ceased for ninety seconds. Kirishima checked her fire on South Dakota, leaving her to the other Japanese ships and trained her turrets towards Washington.

The first salvo was a short, short, over and over. Their second salvo: over-short-on. The Japanese, steaming parallel to Washington launched another torpedo spread and thirty-two separate reports of tracks were sent to Washington's bridge, one of them probably hit the debris from a sinking destroyer and blew up. Kirishima, Atago and Takao had altered course 180 degrees and were now steaming away from Washington, north-eastwards, broad on the starboard quarter. Washington resumed fire and hit Kirishima, smothering her with fire from both 16-inch and 5-inch. One by one her turrets were knocked out. Finally only the after turret continued firing and she began to glow dull red amidships, brightening up as she took more hits. At 0007 Washington, left alone, fired the last salvo at Kirishima, now a mass of flames with her underwater hull damaged by near misses, taking on water and listing to starboard. Out of control and her steering gear shot away, she was steaming in circles.
"Cease fire" was given for the 5-inch guns since they had reached the limit of after train. There were still multiple targets, but doubt still existed on the whereabouts of South Dakota and Washington's surface search radar could not see astern.

Unable to contact South Dakota, Washington steamed on alone. After steaming five miles on course 340T, radar reported contacts off the port bow. They were the destroyers Kagero and Oyashio launching a spread of torpedoes. Washington, sighting their smoke screen, reversed course 180 degrees at twenty-six knots, throwing up an enormous wake. She needed a good two minutes to settle in on her new course during which various lookouts spotted torpedo tracks, four or five of them very close and exploding in Washington's wake. At 0044 Admiral Lee ordered Washington to steer generally southwest and she zigzagged back and forth on her base course, spotting another torpedo blow up in her wake.

Randy Daytona

Cold War Relic
Super Moderator
The first completed supercarrier, and lead ship of her class: USS Forrestal (CV-59). She was the first US aircraft carrier to be designed with an angled deck, steam catapults and an optical landing system. The concept artwork has certainly got that 1950's sci-fi vibe.


Aircraft Carrier CVB-59. Concept artwork by D.A. McKenna, depicting the original design for this ship. After many modifications, she was completed as USS Forrestal (CVA-59). As originally planned, the carrier had catapults at the bow and on sponsons on each side, a landing area running up the ship's centerline and no "island" above the flight deck level.

This photo was probably taken late on 11 December 1954, after Forrestal was christened and launched, and when she was about to be moored to the outfitting pier.

USS Forrestal CVA-59) in the Caribbean Sea during her shakedown cruise, 24 January–31 March 1956. She embarked ATG-181, consisting of the following squadrons: VF-41 "Black Aces" (F2H-3 Banshee), VF-21 "Mach Busters" (FJ-3 Fury), VA-86 "Sidewinders" (F7U-3M Cutlass), VA-42 "Green Pawns" (AD-6 Skyraider), VAH-7 "Go-Devils" (AJ-2 Savage), VC-12 "Last of the Mohicans" (AD-5W Skyraider), VC-33 "Night Hawks" (AD-5N Skyraider), VC-62 "Fighting Photos" (F2H-2P Banshee) and HU-2 "Fleet Angels" (HUP-2 Retriever).

Three Crusaders assigned to Carrier Air Group 8 (CVG-8) fly over USS Forrestal (CVA-59), circa August 1962. From fore to back: an F8U-1P (soon-to-be RF-8A) of VFP-62 "Fighting Photos," BuNo 146895, and two F8U-2's (F-8C) of VF-103 "Sluggers," BuNos 146932 and 145592.