Archive for November, 2007

30
Nov
07

Warship Profile 034 – USS Barb (SS.220) Gato Class Submarine

In this century the submarine has evolved from a cranky, short-winded submersible torpedo boat to a prime nuclearwar deterrent—the nuclear-powered, fleet ballistic submarine of today. The United States traces its submarine history back to David Bushnell’s hand-propelled Turtle built during the Revolutionary War. Robert Fulton, inventor of the first commercially successful steamboat, tried to sell his Nautilus to both adversaries during the Napoleonic Wars and later built the Mute during the War of 1812. During the Civil War the Confederacy, in an effort to break the Union blockade, developed several submersibles. The most noteworthy was the CSS Hunley which became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship by exploding a spar torpedo against the steam frigate USS Housatonic—and sinking herself with the same explosion.

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30
Nov
07

Warship Profile 034 – USS Barb (SS.220) Gato Class Submarine

In this century the submarine has evolved from a cranky, short-winded submersible torpedo boat to a prime nuclearwar deterrent—the nuclear-powered, fleet ballistic submarine of today. The United States traces its submarine history back to David Bushnell’s hand-propelled Turtle built during the Revolutionary War. Robert Fulton, inventor of the first commercially successful steamboat, tried to sell his Nautilus to both adversaries during the Napoleonic Wars and later built the Mute during the War of 1812. During the Civil War the Confederacy, in an effort to break the Union blockade, developed several submersibles. The most noteworthy was the CSS Hunley which became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship by exploding a spar torpedo against the steam frigate USS Housatonic—and sinking herself with the same explosion.
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30
Nov
07

Warship Profile 033 – German Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau

The Treaty of Versailles allowed Germany to have eight battleships of the Braunschweig- and Deutschland-Class, which had been commissioned during the years 1904-1908. No more than six of these ships could be in service at one time, with the remaining two in material reserve. New ships built as replacements were limited to a maximum of 10,000 tons. Underwater torpedo tubes were forbidden for all other ships including these new ones. The German Admiralty had given much thought to the possibility of building a ship that would be within the prescribed limits on the one hand, while on the other suiting their own requirements. For a long time the preference was for a Monitor-type ship, similar to the Swedish armoured coast defence ships. Then to meet the political change, a high-seas vessel was developed which, in the event of hostilities with France, could cause considerable disruption to the transport of army forces from Africa to France and so delay any build-up on the German western front. The decision was taken in 1928 and confirmed that initially three ships would be constructed with diesel propulsion and six 28cm guns in two triple turrets.

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30
Nov
07

Warship Profile 033 – German Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau

The Treaty of Versailles allowed Germany to have eight battleships of the Braunschweig- and Deutschland-Class, which had been commissioned during the years 1904-1908. No more than six of these ships could be in service at one time, with the remaining two in material reserve. New ships built as replacements were limited to a maximum of 10,000 tons. Underwater torpedo tubes were forbidden for all other ships including these new ones. The German Admiralty had given much thought to the possibility of building a ship that would be within the prescribed limits on the one hand, while on the other suiting their own requirements. For a long time the preference was for a Monitor-type ship, similar to the Swedish armoured coast defence ships. Then to meet the political change, a high-seas vessel was developed which, in the event of hostilities with France, could cause considerable disruption to the transport of army forces from Africa to France and so delay any build-up on the German western front. The decision was taken in 1928 and confirmed that initially three ships would be constructed with diesel propulsion and six 28cm guns in two triple turrets.
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30
Nov
07

Warship profile 031 – German Schnellboote (E-boats)

The German Schnellboot or S-Boat was known to the British asthe E-Boat. Although initially their hunting ground was the English Channel and the North Sea as the War progressed the S- Boat flotillas were sent to the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and this Profile touches on all the operational theatres. The S-Boat proved a very tough opponent in battle, and its main adversaries, British MTBs (see Profile No 7) could not claim to match it for firepower until late in the war. With its diesel engines it was less liable to catch fire than the petrol-engined boats used by the Americans and British, and its size made for weatherliness. One mystery remains : the origin of the common British term for these craft, ‘E-Boats’. The traditional interpretation is ‘Enemy War Motorboat’, but on examination this phrase has an amateurish, journalistic ring to it. Furthermore it is unlikely that such a description ever originated in the British Admiralty, which normally copied German designationssuch as U-Boat, R-Boat and F-Lighter. From British sources we have compiled a technical appendix to the main text which gives a far more likely explanation of the term.

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30
Nov
07

Warship profile 031 – German Schnellboote (E-boats)

The German Schnellboot or S-Boat was known to the British asthe E-Boat. Although initially their hunting ground was the English Channel and the North Sea as the War progressed the S- Boat flotillas were sent to the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and this Profile touches on all the operational theatres. The S-Boat proved a very tough opponent in battle, and its main adversaries, British MTBs (see Profile No 7) could not claim to match it for firepower until late in the war. With its diesel engines it was less liable to catch fire than the petrol-engined boats used by the Americans and British, and its size made for weatherliness. One mystery remains : the origin of the common British term for these craft, ‘E-Boats’. The traditional interpretation is ‘Enemy War Motorboat’, but on examination this phrase has an amateurish, journalistic ring to it. Furthermore it is unlikely that such a description ever originated in the British Admiralty, which normally copied German designationssuch as U-Boat, R-Boat and F-Lighter. From British sources we have compiled a technical appendix to the main text which gives a far more likely explanation of the term.
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30
Nov
07

The Second World War (1) The Pacific

The Pacific War was caused by the expansionist ambitions of Imperial Japan and the train of events that led to it can be described fairly easily. It is much harder to explain why Japan initiated a war against the one country that had the power to crush it -the USA. The answer is perhaps found in Japan’s unique culture and history. Having not experienced defeat for a thousand years, and believing in the superiority of their race, culture, and spirit, the Japanese could not conceive of defeat. Somehow, trusting in the living-god Emperor, they would win, even if many would die in the process. The origins of the war therefore lie in Japan’s emergence after more than two centuries of isolation from the outside world. To protect itself fiom foreign influences, in the early seventeenth century Japan had expelled all foreigners and had severely restricted foreign access. This isolation was shattered in 1853, when four American warships appeared in Tokyo Bay and their commander, Commodore Matthew Perry, began negotiations that led eventually to a commercial treaty between the USA and Japan.
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