The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Most Americans know the story of Pearl Harbor, how the Japanese planes descended from the clouds and attacked ship after ship in the harbor, hitting the floating fortresses of battleship row, damaging drydocks, and killing more than 2,300 Americans. But the most coveted targets of the attack were the aircraft carriers thankfully absent. Except one was supposed to be there that morning with a future fleet admiral on board, and they were both saved by a freak accident at sea.


The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

The USS Shaw explodes on December 7, 1941, during the Pearl Harbor attack.

(U.S. Navy)

Vice Adm. William Halsey, Jr., was a tough and direct man. And in November 1941, he was given a top-secret mission to ferry 12 Marine F4F Hellcats to Wake Island under the cover of an exercise. Wake Island is closer to Japan than Hawaii, and Washington didn’t want Japan to know the Marines were being reinforced.

The mission was vital, but also dangerous. Halsey knew that Japan was considering war with the U.S., and he knew that Japan had a long history of beginning conflicts with sneak attacks. He was so certain that a war with Japan was coming, that he ordered his task force split into two pieces. The slower ships, including his three battleships, were sent to conduct the naval exercise.

Halsey took the carrier Enterprise, three heavy cruisers, and nine destroyers as “Task Force 8” to deliver the planes. And those 13 ships would proceed “under war conditions,” according to Battle Order No. 1, signed by the Enterprise captain but ordered by Halsey.

All torpedoes were given warheads, planes were armed with their full combat load, and gunners were prepared for combat. Halsey had checked, and there were no plans for allied or merchant shipping in his path, so he ordered his planes to sink any ship sighted and down any plane.

If Task Force 8 ran into a group of ships, they would assume they were Japanese and start the war themselves. That’s not hyperbole, according to Halsey after the war:

Comdr. William H. Buracker, brought [the orders] to me and asked incredulously, “Admiral, did you authorize this thing?”
“Yes.”
“Do you realize that this means war?”
“Yes.”
Bill protested, “Goddammit, Admiral, you can’t start a private war of your own! Who’s going to take the responsibility?”
I replied, “I’ll take it! If anything gets in my way, we’ll shoot first and argue afterwards.”
The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

The USS Enterprise sails in October 1941 with its scout planes overhead.

(U.S. Navy)

Equipped, prepared, and looking for a war, Halsey and his men sailed until they got within range of Wake Island on December 4, dispatched the Marines, and then headed for home.

There is an interesting question here about whether it would have been better if Task Force 8 had met with the Japanese force at sea. It would surely have been eradicated, sending all 13 ships to the bottom, likely with all hands. But it would have warned Pearl of the attack, and might have sunk a Japanese ship or two before going down. And, the Japanese fleet was ordered to return home if intercepted or spotted before December 5.

But the worst case scenario would’ve been if Task Force 8 returned to Pearl on its scheduled date, December 6. The plan was to send most of the sailors and pilots ashore for leave or pass, giving Japan one of its prime carrier targets as well as additional cruisers to sink during the December 7 attack.

Luckily, a fluke accident occurred at sea. A destroyer had split a seam in rough seas, delaying the Task Force 8 arrival until, at best, 7:30 on December 7. A further delay during refueling pushed the timeline further right to noon.

Because of that single, slightly odd occurrence, 13 less ships, including one of America’s most valuable carriers, were present when the Japanese attack began. And the Japanese pilots were looking for the three carriers assigned to Pearl. As Imperial Japanese Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mitsuo Fuchida later described his arrival with the first wave:

I peered intently through my binoculars at the ships riding peacefully at anchor. One by one I counted them. Yes, the battleships were there all right, eight of them! But our last lingering hope of finding any carriers present was now gone. Not one was to be seen.
The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

USS Enterprise sailors watch as “scores” go up on a board detailing the ship and its pilots combat exploits.

(U.S. Navy)

And the Enterprise would go on to fight viciously for the U.S. in the war. Halsey spent December 7-8 looking for a fight. While it couldn’t make contact in those early moments of the war, it would find earn 20 battle stars in the fighting. It was instrumental to the victories at Midway, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Philippine Sea, and Leyte Gulf.

It suffered numerous strikes, but always returned to the fight. Its crew earned the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Commendation. The ship, and much of the crew, survived the war. But the Enterprise was decommissioned in 1947.

Two great articles, linked above, were instrumental in writing this article. But a hat tip also goes out to Walter R. Borneman whose book The Admirals inspired this piece.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump says it could take years for N. Korea to give up nukes

U.S. President Donald Trump, who in early 2018 demanded that North Korea swiftly give up its nuclear weapons, has said that it could take years to achieve those results in negotiations.

“I think we’re really going to do something that’s going to be very important, but we’re not playing the time game,” Trump told a news conference in New York. “If it takes two years, three years, or five months — doesn’t matter.”


Trump’s comments came as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was making plans to visit Pyongyang again in October 2018 to prepare for a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump held an unprecedented first summit with Kim in Singapore on June 12, 2018, that yielded a broad pledge by Kim to “work toward” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump said afterward he expected results within months.

Since then, however, Kim’s actions have fallen far short of Washington’s demands, which range from providing a complete inventory of North Korea’s nuclear weapons to taking irreversible steps to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Despite the lack of progress, Trump has boasted repeatedly of having “a wonderful relationship” with Kim and said he expects the two to eventually clinch a deal.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

You may have noticed a select few Marines and sailors walking around in their uniforms with a green rope wrapped around their left arm — it’s not just for decoration.


That green rope is called a “French Fourragere,” and it was awarded to the members of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments for their heroic actions during the Battle of Belleau Wood from the French government in WWI.

This rite of passage extends to Marines who serve in those respected units today to commemorate their brothers in that historic battle.

The Fourragere is authorized on all service uniforms, and dress coats or jackets where medals or ribbons are prescribed.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

During the bloody summer months of 1918, the Marines and the Germans fiercely fought one another just northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road. For weeks, German Gen. Erich Ludendorff had his troops attack U.S. forces with artillery, machine guns, and deadly gas.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Although the Marines sustained thousands of casualties during the skirmish, the infantrymen charged their opposition through the wooded area with fixed bayonets.

It’s reported the French urged the Marines to turn back, but the grunts proceeded onward frequently engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

By June 26, 1918, the war-hardened Marines confirmed that they secured the woods from German forces and took many prisoners.

And the French Fourragere reminds Leathernecks in this storied units of their World War I bravery.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This hero horse of the Marine Corps got her own statue

Staff Sgt. Reckless, a Marine Corps horse who resupplied her fellow troops during some of the hottest fighting in the Korean War, was honored with a monument in Camp Pendleton, California.


 

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
Camp Pendleton hosts a ceremony in honor of Staff Sgt. Reckless at the Pacific Views Event Center here, Oct. 26. Staff Sgt. Reckless was a Korean War era pack horse known for her heroics in the war that saved many Marines’ lives. (Photo and cutline: Marine Corps Pfc. Dylan Overbay)

Reckless retired at Camp Pendleton and was buried at the Stepp Stables there after her death.

During the five-day Battle for Outpost Vegas in 1953, then-Pvt. Reckless spent three days transporting recoilless rifle rounds to embattled Marines under heavy fire. On the worst day of the battle, she ferried 386 rounds that weighed 24 pounds each and traveled a total of 35 miles while suffering two wounds from shrapnel. One of the cuts was a bad wound just above her eye.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
Then Pvt. Reckless operating under fire in Korea. (Photo: US Marine Corps)

After her heroics on the front lines of the Korean War, Lt. Gen. Randolph Pate promoted Reckless to sergeant. Reckless was transported to the U.S. where she became a Marine Corps celebrity, gave birth to four children, and was promoted to staff sergeant before retiring to Camp Pendleton.

Over the course of her career, Reckless received two Purple Hearts, a Good Conduct Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation with star, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal.

Since her death, Reckless has been honored with a memorial at the Camp Pendleton stables, a Dickin Medal for animal bravery, and now a statue at Camp Pendleton.

popular

5 civilian products that actually earn the title of ‘military grade’

Too often does a company rate their product as military-grade as a way of marketing it to the public. The term screams, “this product is so tough, it could be used by the military!” But, as anyone who has served more than five seconds can tell you, in reality, “military grade” is often used as a joke to describe something made by the lowest bidder.


If a truck commercial has the words “military grade” all over it, that doesn’t mean the truck is rolling onto the battlefield. It could mean simply that it uses 6000 series aluminum — the same aluminum used in military equipment, like radio mounts.

This one goes out to all of the real military-grade products. The ones the military seems content to fill every supply room with.

Related: 8 genius military uses for civilian products

1. Green record book

Every NCO will have at least four of these scattered about and, yet, they’ll rarely fill out all 192-pages. Sometimes, you’ll find them with nice, elaborate covers that also hold pens and cue-cards, but most are just labeled with the date on the spine.

 

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
You can also tell if it belongs to Staff Duty by the amount of drawings in it. (Image via Marine Corps Memes)

 

2. Skilcraft “U.S. Government” pens

On Amazon, you can pick up a box of 96 cheapo pens for $13.10. Or, for $9.90, you can get a box of your very own Skilcraft pens, labeled “U.S. Government.”

But seriously, these pens will work anywhere.* On anything.* Forever.* Chances are, the pen you “tactically acquired” from your battle buddy probably has more time in service than both of you.

 

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
*Probably. Or at least that’s what it seems like.

 

3. Pine-Sol

No matter how many times it happens, people will always screw up and pour more than a cap full of Pine-Sol into the mop bucket. When it’s used as intended, it’s kind of pleasant actually. When it’s used by a Private who was told to mop the halls, they’re sure to pour enough to trigger some sort of alarm.

 

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
Pine-Sol: The official scent of Sand Hill at Fort Benning. (Image via Flickr)

 

4. Duct tape

Fun fact: Duct tape was created by an ordance-factory worker and mother of two Navy sailors, Vesta Stoudt, as a sealant for ammo boxes. As it turns out, it could be used for damn near everything.

If it can’t be fixed with duct tape (and maybe with a spray of WD-40), it’s beyond repair.

 

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
So there’s no need to side-eye the doc for using it, crybaby. (Image via Flickr)

 

5. Cotton Swabs

The unit just got back from the range and everyone is feeling great from a solid day shooting. The last thing to worry about is cleaning your rifle.

Thirty minutes later, every troop has a mountain-sized pile of carbon-filled, bent-up cotton swabs. Even if you use an entire box of cotton swabs, the rifle isn’t clean enough. Even after you’ve used all of the cotton swabs that supply has, the rifle isn’t clean enough. Even if you send one person to the PX to buy out their entire stock of cotton swabs, the rifle isn’t clean enough.

 

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
Whoever holds the government contract on providing cotton swabs has got to be rolling on dough. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Walston)

MIGHTY TRENDING

SecDef: Soleimani’s killing dealt big setback to Iranian terrorism

Two months after a U.S. drone strike killed a preeminent Iranian general, the Pentagon’s top two military leaders said President Donald Trump made the right decision, one that has deterred Iran’s terrorist activities in the region.


Defense Secretary Mark Esper told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that it was the right call to kill Iranian Quds Force leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, describing him as a “terrorist leader of a terrorist organization that killed many, many Americans, wounded thousands more.”

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, said she agreed with the decision to carry out the Jan. 2 missile strike on Soleimani’s vehicle in Baghdad and asked Esper to talk about how the attack has affected Iran.

“It’s now been two months. Can you share at all what you have seen?” McSally asked. “I believe we have heard from you and others that it was a body blow, the impact that that is having on Iran’s terrorist activities.”

Esper said it’s clear that “taking him off the battlefield has set back the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the Iranian government with regard to spreading their malign activity through the region.”

“I think at the same action, we have restored deterrence to a degree,” he said. “And so, for all those things, I still believe it was the right call made by the commander in chief.”

Iran retaliated for the death of Soleimani by firing 15 ballistic missiles at Al Asad Air Base, an installation in Iraq that houses U.S. troops. There were no immediate casualties in the attack, but since then more than 100 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury from the concussive effects of the missiles.

At the hearing, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to reflect on the decision to carry out the strike on Soleimani.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

“We all know General Soleimani wasn’t in Iraq on vacation,” Sullivan said. “He was there targeting the killing of more American service members, which he has a long history of doing.”

Milley responded by saying, “I believe the intelligence was compelling; I believe it was imminent” of Soleimani’s “command-and-control role and what he was about to do.”

“I believe that I, Secretary Esper, the president and many others would have been culpably negligent had we not taken the action we did … because I think many Americans would have died as a result,” Milley added. “I believe it was the right thing to do then, and I still believe that. And I believe we contributed to reestablishing deterrence of aggressive action from Iran.”

In the aftermath of the Soleimani strike, the Pentagon ordered thousands of soldiers and Marines to the Middle East to prepare for future Iranian aggression.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A US President and Soviet Chairman won a Grammy together

The most lasting image of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev with a U.S. leader will always be his close relationship with Ronald Reagan. In managing a very tense period toward the end of the Cold War, the image of the two leaders together has been enshrined in Cold War history. But the American President he teamed up to win a Grammy Award with would come to power four years after Reagan’s era ended, President Bill Clinton.

These two leaders never squared off in Cold War weapons agreements or faced a standoff between Russian and American forces. What they shared was the interpersonal foundation of a lasting peace.


The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Boris Yeltsin was hammered the day they called. And probably every day.

Gorbachev was the Soviet Union’s seventh and last President and Communist Party Chairman. He managed the final days of the Cold War as the Iron Curtain came tumbling down. Reagan was gone by then, succeeded by his Vice-President-turned-President, George H.W. Bush, who masterfully handled the U.S. response to the end of the Cold War. Clinton would be the first president to have to deal with the new Russian Federation and its former Soviet client states.

Gorbachev wouldn’t be his Russian counterpart. Boris Yeltsin came to power in the 1990s. But the two men were integral to shaping the post-Cold War relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union. They were also integral to the 2003 children’s album, Wolf Tracks: Peter and the Wolf.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Gorbachev with a decadent Western awards statue, likely sad he missed the chance to meet Christina Aguilera.

Peter and the Wolf is a 1936 children’s story, first written by Soviet Composer Sergei Prokofiev. It originated as a piece of Soviet propaganda, telling the story of a young boy challenging his grandfather who chided him for going out alone into the world, for fear of being devoured by a wolf. When a wolf does appear, the brave boy gets the best of it and makes sure it ends up in a zoo.

Clinton and Gorbachev performed spoken parts of the story, while actress Sophia Loren performed other sections. The album was an international hit, and was soon translated into multiple languages with more celebrity voices, including Antonio Banderas in the Spanish-language version. But the Grammy went to Gorbachev and Clinton, the first of such awards for a former American President or a former Soviet Premiere.

Just a few years later, Clinton would win another Grammy for the narration of his autobiography, My Life. Following that, other American Presidents would win for spoken-word works of their memoirs, including then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama for his memoirs, The Audacity of Hope and Dreams of my Father, and former President Jimmy Carter for his work, A Full Life: Reflections at 90. Carter would win another spoken-word Grammy in 2019 for his personal religious memoir, Faith – A Journey For All.

Carter has nine Grammy nominations, Clinton has four, and Obama has two, though he has won both years he earned a nod.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghans blame Tajiks or Russians for bombing in border area

Afghan officials said unknown aircraft hit Taliban forces in a province along the border with Tajikistan, killing eight militants, a day after a shooting that left at least two Tajiks killed.

The origin of the aircraft was unclear. Tajik officials denied its warplanes or helicopters were involved, as did Russia, which has a sizable military contingent in Tajikistan.


Khalil Asir, spokesman for police in Afghanistan’s Takhar province, said the aircraft struck early on Aug. 27, 2018, in the Darqad district near the border area. In addition to the dead, six other militants were wounded, he said.

Cross-border clashes are rare along Afghanistan’s 1,400-kilometer border with Tajikistan. However, security in some border provinces, including Takhar, has deteriorated over the past few months and regular clashes have broken out between Afghan security forces and militant groups, including the Taliban.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Spokesman Khalil Asir says eight Taliban militants were killed in the attack.

(RFE/RL photo)

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the attack, saying it broke out between drug smugglers and Tajik border guards. Mujahid said the aircraft bombed a forested area used by smugglers.

Mohammad Jawid Hejri, the provincial governor’s spokesman, also said the clash had occurred between drug smugglers in Afghanistan and Tajik border guards. He said the area is under Taliban control.

Asked by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service about the reported airstrike, border guard spokesman Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev said he could not confirm it.

“An operation to search for and detain armed individuals is ongoing” in a neighboring region, he said. “But the Border Guards Service didn’t use helicopters there.”

The Russian Defense Ministry told the RIA Novosti news agency that Russian jets were not involved.

Other Tajik security agencies did not immediately respond to queries about other aircraft in the area.

The incident came one day after two Tajik foresters were killed in a shooting incident along the border. A Tajik security official, who asked not to be named, told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that the shooting — either gunfire or mortars — came from the Afghan side of the border.

A third Tajik forester was also wounded in the Aug. 26, 2018 shooting, according to Sulton Valizoda, the head of the Farkhor district.

“Foresters, along with an employee of a livestock farm, were out gathering hay. They had official permission,” Valizoda told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service. “But they were attacked, and two were killed. The case is being investigated.”

The Tajik Border Guard Service said in a statement on Aug. 26, 2018 that the three were all forest rangers.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

4 steps you need in your battle plan for marriage resiliency

If you’re not walking forward into your military marriage with the tactical proficiency of any well-planned operation, it’s time to revisit the field guide.

It’s been one helluva make or break year so far with thousands stranded in PCS limbo and plenty of others facing even longer deployments. The recent Blue Star Families survey noted both family stability and time away from family as the two of the top issues, so there’s nothing like making hard things even harder.


While we’re no experts, we’re guessing talks between you and “Household six” might need a full set of EOD gear to survive the unforeseen schedule bombs without casualties. Luckily for you, there’s plenty of similarities between navigating marriage and planning a flawless mission. Here is your field guide to military marriage.

1. Understand your mission 

Troop leading procedures (TLP) requires the receipt and understanding of a mission. The mission for marriage is to accomplish your mutual goals with as few friendly fire incidents as possible. Unlike the military where a single commander dictates the plans, the role in marriage is shared. Creating operation orders with both points of view is how successful couples see the entire picture and arrive at the many battles in life fully prepared.

Each move, each deployment or change in life requires a new look at the mission.

2. WARNO

The WARNO issues a set of parameters, expectations and what is minimally acceptable. Applied to marriage, clearly outlining your own WARNO for situations like the grocery shop, the family vacation or simply a Saturday full of to-do lists.

“Go to this grocery store, not the other where the selection is not up to standard. You are to secure the following list of items. Should the brand names (listed in detail) not be available, you have clearance to initiate the following protocol. If the children become hostile, employ this tactic. If you reach this status with said children, abort the primary mission and begin digital reinforcements. It is unacceptable to return to base without the minimum requirements as stated below. Good luck.”

In theory, if a service member is used to working within the left and right barriers, a clearly defined home front mission should be successful.

3.  Identify obstacles

A good leader identifies the existing and potential threats to his troops to ensure the success of the mission. If you find yourself walking into contact daily, you clearly need to revisit this point. No one would walk into any mission without this step, so why not do the same for your marriage? Ask yourself the following.

“How will obstacles affect the success and forward movement of my marriage?”

“How can I use weapons within my arsenal to force the enemy where I want him and disrupt his movement?”

What is all too often forgotten in marriage is that your spouse is your battle buddy. Your spouse is and always will be on the same team for the same mission. If a snake is wrapped around the leg of your battle, you wouldn’t attack the man, you’d attack the snake. The same goes for your spouse in marriage.

If there is an enemy, attack it. If you foresee obstacles, plan for them. If you encounter them, work together not against each other.

4. Call for support if necessary

Your marriage team is in danger of being overrun. To call in support and save yourselves you need to know the following- where you are, where (or what) the enemy is, and what type of support you’re calling for.

Every marriage occasionally walks into battles that despite plans or preparation, can become too much to handle. Your options are to walk away or call in support. Unfortunately, in marriage, people often refuse support out of pride or stubbornness resulting in the complete failure of the mission and dissolution of the team. No good leader would let his team go down without deploying every single option available, so don’t do the same to your marriage.

Marriage in the military is one of the longest and toughest battles service members and their spouses will fight. It takes consistent training, plenty of planning and the unwavering dedication to the team to succeed. Luckily for all of us out there, the military has provided these skills, we all just need to deploy them.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The new Army Football uniforms will be in honor of the Big Red One

Every second Saturday of December, the soldiers of West Point settle their differences with the sailors and Marines of Annapolis in a good, old-fashioned football game. It’s a fiercely heated contest — and not just for the players on the field, but between entire branches.

Remember, when it comes to the troops, any little thing that can be used as bragging rights will be — even the uniforms are a type of competition. Traditionally, each team dons a new military history-inspired uniform for the Army-Navy game. Bringing the best threads to the gridiron isn’t officially a contest, but if it were, hot damn the Army would be winning.


The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

It’s unclear at this time if all Cadets on the field will be wearing the Black Lion or just the ones wearing the 28th Infantry Regiment on their lapel.

(West Point Athletics)

This year, the soldiers are honoring the First Infantry Division by sporting a uniform inspired by the Big Red One. It was chosen because 2018 marks the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. While there were many American units that fought, several of whom are still around, the 1st ID is often heralded for their decisive victory at the Battle of Cantigny.

The iconic Black Lions of Cantigny have been incorporated into the shoulders of the uniforms. The rest of the uniform is a flat black with red trimmings. It features, of course, the Nike logo (the team’s sponsor) and the unit insignia. On the collars are insignias that represent the various regiments of the 1st Infantry Division that fought in World War I.

On the back of the helmet, if you look closely, you’ll spot a subtle American flag. Sharp football fans will notice that the flag only has 48 stars on it. Keeping with WWI legacy, this was the flag that the soldiers of WWI fought under, long before Alaska and Hawaii became part of the Union in 1959.

Check out the announcement video below that was posted to the official Army West Point Athletics Facebook page.

Go Army! Beat Navy!

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the first successful carrier raid

In July 1918, militaries were experimenting with aircraft carriers, especially the American and British navies. But, as far as any of the Central Powers knew, carrier operations were an experiment that had borne only limited fruit. No carrier raids had significantly damaged targets ashore. And that was true until July 19, when a flight of Sopwith Camels took off from the HMS Furious and attacked German Zeppelin facilities at Tondern, Denmark.


The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

The British carrier HMS Furious with its split deck.

(Imperial War Museums)

America was the first country to experiment with aircraft carriers after civilian pilot Eugene Ely flew a plane off the USS Birmingham, a modified cruiser, in 1911. But as World War I broke out, the naval power of Britain decided that it wanted to build its own carrier operations, allowing it to float airfields along the coasts of wartime Europe and other continents.

This required a lot of experimentation, and British aviators died while establishing best practices for taking off, landing, and running the decks of carriers. One of the ship experiments was the HMS Furious, a ship originally laid down as a light battlecruiser. It was partially converted during construction into a semi-aircraft carrier that still had an 18-inch gun, then converted the rest of the way into a carrier.

After its full conversion, the Furious had a landing-on deck and a flying-off deck split by the ship’s superstructure. This, combined with the ship’s exhaust that flowed over the decks, made landing tricky.

The Furious and other carriers and sea-based planes had scored victories against enemies at sea. But in 1918, the Royal Navy decided it was time to try the Furious in a raid on land.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Sopwtih Camels prepare to take off from the HMS Furious to attack German Zeppelin sheds in July 1918.

(Imperial War Museums)

On July 19, 1918, two flights of Sopwith Camels launched from the decks with bombs. There were three aircraft in the first wave, and four in the second wave. Even these takeoffs were tricky in the early days, and the second wave of aircraft suffered three losses as it was just getting going. One plane’s engine failed at takeoff, one crashed, and one made a forced landing in Denmark.

But the first wave was still strong, and the fourth bomber in the second wave was still ready and willing to get the job done.

So they proceeded to Tondern where German Zeppelin sheds housed the airships and crews that bombed London and British troops, and conducted reconnaissance over Allied powers. These airships were real weapons of terror against Britain and its subjects, and the military wanted them gone.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor

Building housing German Zeppelins burns at Tondern in July 1918.

(Public domain)

Hitting Tondern was especially valuable as it was a convenient place from which to attack London. So the four remaining pilots flew over German defenses and attacked the Zeppelins there, successfully hitting two sheds which burst into flames.

Luckily, each of those housed an airship at the time, and the flames consumed them both. They were L.54 and L.60. The Zeppelin L.54 had conducted numerous reconnaissance missions and dropped over 12,000 pounds in two bombing missions over England. The Zeppelin L.60 had dropped almost 7,000 pounds of bombs on England in one mission.

While the destruction of two Zeppelins, especially ones that had already bombed England and so loomed in the British imagination, was valuable on its own, the real victory for England came in making exposed bases much less valuable.

The Western-most bases had been the best for bombing England, especially Tondern which was protected from land-based bombers by its position on the peninsula, but they were now highly vulnerable to more carrier raids. And the HMS Furious wasn’t Britain’s only carrier out there.

Germany was forced to pull its Zeppelins back to better protected bases, and it maintained Tondern as an emergency base, only there to recover Zeppelins that couldn’t make it all the way back home after a mission.

Germany lost another airship to a navy-based fighter in August, this time in a crazy aerial attack after Royal Air Force Flight sub-lieutenant Stuart Culley launched from a barge and flew his plane to the maximum altitude he could reach that day, a little over 18,000 feet, and shot down a Zeppelin with incendiary rounds.

This wasn’t the first or only time a fighter had caught a Zeppelin in the air, but it was one of the highest fights that had succeeded against a Zeppelin, and it meant that sea-based fighters had taken out three Zeppelins in less than a month, and all three losses had taken place in facilities or at an altitude where Germany thought they were safe.

Articles

Here’s why North Korea’s latest type of missile would be a nightmare to stop

On Sunday, North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan for the first time since US President Donald Trump took office.


South Korean officials told Reuters that the missile, a land-based adaptation of the submarine-launched KN-11, doesn’t have the range to strike the US but has another trait that’s just as troubling, if not more: solid fuel.

Related: Mattis threatens ‘overwhelming’ response if North Korea ever uses nukes

North Korean missiles usually rely on liquid fuel and have to be gassed up similar to how you’d fill up a car.

North Korea, like many nuclear powers, mounts its nuclear-capable missiles on trucks.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

Road-mobile missile launchers can hide easier, launch from almost anywhere, and take an enemy by surprise — but liquid fuel complicates all that.

To launch a liquid-fueled missile, a giant convoy of military trucks must drive out to a location, fuel up the rocket with the multiple types of fuel for the different stages of launch, and then fire away. This requires dozens of trucks and associated military personnel. Such a large-scale deployment is much harder to conceal from a vigilant foe.

“Liquid-fueled missiles are more vulnerable to tracking and preemptive strikes. Solid-fueled ballistic missiles are not fueled on site and therefore pose more of a threat, because solid-fueled ballistic missiles require less support and can be deployed more quickly,” Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy and a North Korea expert at the Arms Control Association, told Business Insider.

With a missile like the one tested on Sunday, North Korea could simply park a truck and let it fly.

That’s exactly what the video of its latest launch shows:

“Another striking feature of the test was the transport erector launcher that was used to launch the missile. Images indicate that it ran on treads rather than wheels,” Davenport said. “This allows North Korea to move its missiles through more difficult terrains.”

To counter such a sneaky launcher, an adversary would have to spend extensively on surveillance and recon technology.

So while North Korea remains without an ICBM to directly threaten the US mainland, its successful launch of a solid-fueled missile means it has developed a destabilizing technology that could strike US military bases, South Korea, or Japan with a moment’s notice.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the US Navy is going to Vietnam for the first time since 1975

The South China Sea has been a maritime flashpoint for a long time. Communist China acts as though they own this sea, a claim disputed by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The United States has also historically challenged those claims with a number of close passes near some of the islands the ChiComs have claimed.


Now, it seems as though the Secretary of Defense James Mattis must have gotten a little irritated with the Chinese buzzings and other aggressive actions in the region. According to Business Insider, the United States Navy is going to be paying a visit to Vietnam.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
A F/A-18F Super Hornet, left, assigned to the Mighty Shrikes of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron 94, and an EA-18G Growler assigned to the Cougars of Electronic Attack Squadron 139 launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Foley)

What will be going there is sending Communist China a big message: A Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. This will be the first visit since the fall of Saigon in 1975, which marked the end of the Vietnam War. The United States Navy has one such vessel, USS Ronald Reagan, forward-based in Japan.

The Chinese Communists have been engaging in a major buildup of naval assets to assert greater dominance in the disputed region. The People’s Liberation Army Navy began building its first Type 002 aircraft carrier earlier this month just after launching its first home-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A. The Chinese Communists have been operating the Liaoning, a Russian Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier. The Chinese Communists have also constructed artificial island bases on some of the disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The freak accident that saved a carrier at Pearl Harbor
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Dan J. Kritenbrink upon arriving in Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 24, 2018. During the visit, he announced a carrier would visit Vietnam. (Photo from DoD)

The announcement by Mattis came during a trip to Southeast Asia. Mattis had also visited Indonesia, where he witnessed a demonstration by Indonesian special forces units that included drinking snake blood, breaking bricks with their heads, and deploying from helicopters with dogs. While in Vietnam, Mattis also visited the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, where over 1,600 Americans from the Vietnam War are still not accounted for.

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