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Escort Carrier off Samar

October 12 2009 at 6:32 PM
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Jacques  (no login)

 
[linked image]
I've seen this specific picture before in more than one publication on the Pacific War and in this case the caption reads: "During the Battle of Samar in October 1944 escort carriers of the US Seventh Fleet found themselves under fire from Japanese battleships and cruisers. This carrier has been nearly straddled by a salvo of heavy projectiles."
What puzzles me is that the planes on deck are clearly P-47's (note the 4-bladed propellors). I have read a lot about the Battle of Samar where the CVE's, DD's and DE's put up such a brave fight but I never picked up anywhere that some CVE's were ferrying Army planes and were therefore unable to launch planes to join the fight, because there were no land bases to return to.
(P-47 could not land on carriers) Or were there? Or did the author get it wrong and was this picture not taken off Samar?
Regards,
Jacques

 
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Nelson
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Re: Escort carrier off Samar

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October 12 2009, 11:47 PM 

Jacques,

The caption of the photo you posted IS correct. The escort carrier shown is MANILA BAY (CVE 61), the 1944 battle is that of the Philippine Sea, and the story gets even better than the one only hinted at in the caption. By coincidence, four months ago, I encounted this precise photo and another, similar one published in Antony Preston's DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE PACIFIC WAR (1979), which I stumbled across at a local library. My curiosity aroused by army pursuit aircraft aboard an aircraft carrier during battle, I looked a bit farther and found the second photo, of a P-47 about to be catapulted, with the pilot wearing a dark leather (and thus army) flying helmet. No additional info was provided for that shot, so I went to the relevant entry--for MANILA BAY--in the DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS (DANFS), and found this description:

"On 7 May 1944 MANILA BAY sailed for overhaul at Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 18 May. After loading 37 Army P-47 fighters, MANILA BAY sailed 5 June for the Marianas. Steaming via Eniwetok, she reached the eastern approaches to Saipan 19 June. During the next four days she remained east of the embattled island as ships and planes of the Fast Carrier Task Force repulsed the Japanese Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and inflicted staggering losses on the enemy, thus crippling the Imperial Japanes Navy's air strength permanently. On 23 June, MANILA BAY came under enemy air attack during refueling operations east of Saipan. Two fighter-bombers attacked her from dead ahead, dropping four bombs which exploded wide to port. Intense antiaircraft fire suppressed further attacks, and as a precautionary and rather unusual move which Admiral Spruance later characterized as "commendable initiative," MANILA BAY launched four of the Army P-47s she was ferrying to fly protective CAP until radar screens were clear of contacts. The Army fighters then flew to Saipan, their intended destination. She launched the remaining planes the next day and returned to Eniwetok, arriving 27 June. After embarking 207 wounded troops, MANILA BAY departed 1 July, touched Pearl Harbor the 8th, and reached San Diego 16 July 1944."

Although almost certainly the first and last time that army fighters flew combat air patrol over an American carrier, it was not the first or last time that USN carriers ferried army aircraft. WASP (CV 7) did so in the Atlantic: P-40Cs and PT-17s to Iceland in July and August 1941, and Spitfires to Malta in April and May 1942. Also aircraft were ferried to various Pacific outposts before and after December 7, 1941.

Nelson

 
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Nelson
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Well, that caption not correct after all

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October 13 2009, 12:01 AM 

Jacques,

Sorry, I read that photo caption too quickly. As the DANFS entry specifies, USS MANILA BAY (CVE 61) lay off Saipan, NOT Samar, when ferrying the army P-47s and attacked by Japanese aircraft, with four P-47s thereupon launched to provide an extemporaneous CAP. Thus the action took place in June 1944, NOT four months later as part of the Leyte Gulf battle.

Nelson

 
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Jim Broshot
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Re: Escort Carrier off Samar

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October 13 2009, 2:58 AM 

"I've seen this specific picture before in more than one publication on the Pacific War and in this case the caption reads: "During the Battle of Samar in October 1944 escort carriers of the US Seventh Fleet found themselves under fire from Japanese battleships and cruisers. This carrier has been nearly straddled by a salvo of heavy projectiles.""

Just as a matter of curiosity what is the name of the publication?

The same photo appears at page 82 of William Y'Blood's THE LITTLE GIANTS U.S. ESCORT CARRIERS AGAINST JAPAN, with the caption: "Bombs explode near the MANILA BAY on 23 June 1944 as she prepares to launch the P-47s of the 73rd Fighter Squadron for Saipan. (National Archives)"

To amplify on Nelson's posting, in support of the invasion of Saipan, two escort carriers (MANILA BAY and NATOMA BAY) carried 73 P-47s of the USAAF's 318th Fighter Group. Delayed by the Battle of the Philippine Sea, they began launching these aircraft on 22 June 1944.

Earlier USS NASSAU in December 1943 had carried USAAF P-39s (37) and A-24s (13) to Makin where they had been launched to land on the island.

For Operation TORCH, USS CHENANGO had carried 78 P-40Fs of the 33rd Fighter Group and launched to them to land at airfields ashore.

These were one way operations, the USAAF planes could be launched (using the carrier's catapults) but they could not land back on the carriers.

 
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John Wilson
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Re Escort Carriers etc

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October 13 2009, 6:54 AM 

Did the USAAF P-47s takeoff using the carrier catapult? I thought that would require a hook on the planes, which AAF planes would not have. I think the B-25s of the Doolittle Raid took off without catapult assist, as I read that they practised on an airfield using a strip marked to the length of the carrier deck.

 
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Nelson
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CVE catapults

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October 13 2009, 2:30 PM 

John,

I'm going to let Jim answer this one "officially", but on the basis of what I know and what I think:

1. I know that the little CVEs did have flight deck catapults to assist their aircraft in getting aloft.
2. I know that the army P-47s were catapulted from the CVEs to get them to their airstrips on terra firma.

3. I THINK that army (and navy) aircraft lacking catapult hooks were provided makeshift, drop-off devices to enable them to be catapult-launched. [The drop-off part may be incorrect, and thus they had to be manually removed ashore.]

4. I DON'T THINK the big carriers had flight deck catapults or at least they did not have them as early as the Doolittle raid. Catapults were necessarily added as a function of the small size of the jeep carriers.

I'm in muy uncertain waters here, so I'll let Jim take it from here, with apologies for any muddying of said waters.

Nelson


    
This message has been edited by Visje1981 on Oct 14, 2009 8:14 PM


 
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Jacques
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Re: Escort Carrier off Samar

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October 13 2009, 5:22 PM 

Jim,
The pic appears on page 23 of "Aircraft Carriers of the World" by Bernard Ireland. An otherwise good publication that covers every aircraft carrier ever built and is right up to date with information on USS George H.W.Bush (CVN-71) and the new British Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

On the subject of escort carriers - these were all steam powered of reasonable output yet they never had funnels or visible exhaust ducting. How was exhaust gasses and smoke expelled?
Regards,
Jacques



 
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Melmoth the Wanderer
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Re: Escort Carrier off Samar

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October 13 2009, 7:15 PM 

Hello,

Yes, they had stacks and yes, they were visible...but, small, and inconspicuous; angled out some distance aft of the bridge area. Here is a link that shows a model with a close-up of the stack arrangements.
http://www.modelwarships.com/reviews/ships/cv/cve-73/cve-73-1/cve-73-p1.html

 
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R Leonard
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Catapults

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October 14 2009, 2:15 AM 

US Navy CVs, CVLs and CVEs all had catapults.

Rich

 
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Jim Broshot
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Re: Catapults

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October 14 2009, 6:25 AM 

I will certainly defer to Rich on this point, I'm a rank amateur when it comes to US naval aviation in WW2.

However, Friedman's US AIRCRAFT CARRIERS has an appendix dealing with US carrier catapults, where the point is made

"Aboard CVEs catapults made possible the launch of high performance fighter aircraft to resupply the fast carriers and also to supply army forces ashore. In North Africa, for example, the quick appearance of large numbers of P-40 fighters after the paratroopers had secured the airfield was an important factor in the success of the invasion. [not sure that the airfield used by these P-40s was actually secured by paratroopers] In the Gilberts there were no docks left undamaged, bu P-39s coudl still be delivered by catapult. By the end of World War II, all Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters destined for the Pacific were being fitted for catapulting on the assembly line. Even two-engine fighters, Lightnings and Black Widows (P-61s), were modified."

WW2 US carriers were fitted (based on Friedman) with hydraulic catapults

H Mk II - for Yorktown and Wasp class CVs, capacity 5,500 pounds at 65mph in 55 feet (later 7,000 pounds at 70mph)

H Mk II-1 - for CVEs and later installed in Enterprise and Saratoga, capacity 11,000 pounds at 70mph in 73 feet

H Mk IV - for Essex class, various sub-types, 16,000 pounds at 85mph in 96 feet, then 18,0000 pounds at 90mph in 96ft8in, then 28,000 pounds at 90mph in 150 feet

Note that the Yorktown (and Wasp?) classes as well as early Essex class carriers were originally fitted with a hanger deck catapult which could be used to launch aircraft on either side. These were later removed.

 
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Nelson
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hangar deck catapults

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October 15 2009, 4:23 PM 

< Note that the Yorktown (and Wasp?) classes as well as early Essex class carriers were originally fitted with a hanger deck catapult which could be used to launch aircraft on either side. These were later removed. >

On second thought I was aware of the hangar deck catapults that launched (mostly) scouting aircraft athwart ship. If rusty memory serves, the large carriers did retain a small number of Curtiss SOC Seagulls with regular landing gear and tailhooks in place of the usual central float, which once their scouting or observation task was completed, could land on the carrier's flight deck. The hangar deck catapults were dangerous and--it comes as no surprise--scary and unpopular. Most, maybe all, were no longer in place at war's end.

Nelson

 
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Jacques
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SOC's on board carriers

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October 15 2009, 7:48 PM 

Nelson,
Appears that even escort carriers carried Curtiss Seagulls as utility aircraft. These with fixed undercarriages and arrestor gear and were designated SOC-2/3AS. See:

http://www.ussnassaucve16.com

The crew of CVE-16 were very fond of their on board SOC with the nickname "Jeepers Creepers".
Regards,
Jacques

 
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Nelson
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Re: CVE catapults

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October 16 2009, 1:14 AM 

Interestingly, on at least USS LONG ISLAND (CVE 1, ex-ACV 1, ex-AVG 1), the catapult ran diagonally across her flight deck from starboard to the port bow. This photo from NavSource shows a Grumman F4F Wildcat about to be catapulted from LONG ISLAND in June 1942.

Nelson

[linked image]

 
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Jim Broshot
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Re: CVE catapults

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October 16 2009, 5:19 AM 

Referring to Friedman again. As converted from the merchant C-3 type MORMACMAIL, USS LONG ISLAND had a flight deck extending 362 back from the pilot house (still in its original merchant ship position), and one H Mark II catapult mounted at a 30 degree angle to the centerline so that an aircraft launched off the forward port corner of the flight deck.

This configuration was unsuccessful, and in Sep 1941 the flight deck was extended forward another 77 feet over the pilot house. The catapult was relocated to the portside of the flight deck parallel to the centerline.

There's a photo in Terzibaschitsch's book on USN Escort Carriers of LONG ISLAND as of 7 Aug 1941 showing the original angled location of the catapult.

 
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Nelson
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CVE 1's diagonal flight deck catapult

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October 16 2009, 7:08 AM 

< This [shorter flight deck] configuration was unsuccessful, and in Sep 1941 the flight deck was extended forward another 77 feet over the pilot house. The catapult was relocated to the portside of the flight deck parallel to the centerline. >

Two important caveats:

1. The flight deck extension was authorized on September 15, 1941, but when precisely that lengthening was implemented is not specified in anything I have yet found.

2. The relocation of the catapult parallel to the ship's centerline was NOT concomitant with the lengthening of the flight deck. The photo below (again from NavSource), clearly showing the now longer flight deck but still diagonal catapult, was shot on June 2, 1942 (the aircraft on deck are Grumman F4F-4 Wildcats and Curtiss SOC-3A Seagulls). Fifteen days later, Image No. 80-G-14548, displayed in my previous posting, was made of the F4F-4s queued up to be catapulted off. I daresay these close dates cannot both be wrong, particulary given the undisputed coexistence of the 77-foot longer flight deck AND the still operational diagonally configured catapult.

Nelson


[linked image]

 
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John Wilson
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Catapults on batleships/submarines

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October 16 2009, 2:57 PM 

The dangerous hangar deck catapults would be similar to the catapults on battleships with seaplanes and Japanese submarine carriers with floatplanes; the catapult ejected the plane along a ramp into the air rather than assisting in a takeoff from a short flight deck. The reconnaissance seaplane/floatplane landed next to the ship/sub and was retrieved by a crane.

Battle Surface (by David Jenkins, 1992) says that the Japanese submarine reconnaissance floatplanes were launched by a compressed air catapult; the aircraft was flung from a carriage running on (inclined) twin rails on the forward deck at 25 metres per second. The floatplane carried in a waterproof hanger had to be assembled on deck; this took 20 minutes for the Watanabe E9W1 (Slim) but only ten minutes for the Yokusuka E14Y1 (Glen).
The British Supermarine Walrus biplane was carried on battleships like HMS Prince of Wales (4) and HMS Rodney (2), and cruisers like HMS Achilles (1). The Walrus was also used for antisubmarine and air-sea rescue work.

 
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Jim Broshot
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Re: CVE 1's diagonal flight deck catapult

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October 16 2009, 3:39 PM 

Unfortunately neither of the images appears, all I see is '[linked image]'.

 
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Jim Broshot
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You can see the photographs here

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October 16 2009, 3:53 PM 

From the Naval Historical Center site:

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-l/cve1.htm

 
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Nelson
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Re: CVE 1's diagonal flight deck catapult

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October 16 2009, 4:10 PM 

Here be two more photos from NavSource. The first was taken on July 8, 1941, showing LONG ISLAND with her original 362-foot flight deck. I cannot see any evidence of a flight deck catapult, diagonally configured or otherwise (the aircraft forward are two Brewster F2A Buffalos). Yes, 'tis possible I simply cannot see the catapult, but tell me what you think.

[linked image]


The other photo, taken in May 1942, AFTER the flight deck was lengthened 77 feet, shows a line of five Curtiss SOC-3A Seagulls awaiting launching, with the first one angled to portside on the catapult. There is a sixth Seagull also spotted starboard, but forward of the diagonal catapult.

[linked image]


Is it eminently possible that the diagonal catapult was first installed with the 77-foot lengthening of the flight deck, and only later was it relocated parallel to the ship's centerline, as Jim reports from Friedman?

Nelson

 
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Jim Broshot
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Re: CVE 1's diagonal flight deck catapult

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October 16 2009, 7:16 PM 

No, the photo in Terzibaschitsch's book on USN Escort Carriers of LONG ISLAND as of 7 Aug 1941 shows the short flight deck and the diagonal catapult.

 
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