Floatplanes on board Omaha class light cruisers: a photo essay

Floatplanes on board Omaha class light cruisers: a photo essay

Nelson Lawry
Nelson Lawry

February 22nd, 2012, 10:43 am #1

Someone asked me recently why so many prewar and WWII photos of Omaha class light cruisers don't show their floatplanes in place. While his perception may be correct, still there are plenty of photos of this class as a whole displaying their pair of scouting aircraft. Please correct my impression if wrong, but beginning in the mid-1920s, these former scout cruisers were equipped with a pair each of five progressively more modern floatplane types, the last of which took me by surprise:

Vought OU (mid to late 1920s)
Vought O2U Corsair (late 1920s to early mid-1930s)
Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 (early mid- to late mid-1930s, depending on the ship)
Curtiss SOC Seagull (mid-1930s to late 1942)
Vought OS2U Kingfisher (late 1942 to war's end OR whenever float planes were removed from this class of CLs)

One caveat before we continue: some of the photos from the interwar period identifying the biplanes aboard these ships as Vought O2Us may be incorrect. They may be instead Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s. Either the photos or mine eyes just aren't sharp enough for me to say one way or the other. And replacements, to be sure, took place on a ship by ship basis, with appreciable overlap during this time span. Any additional help on this progression will be appreciated.

A very good place to start is Larry Neilson's "USS Marblehead: Escape from the Jaws of Death".

http://www.cityofart.net/bship/uss_mhead_story.html

This site devoted to CL 12, has with one or two exceptions good textual information, decent photos, and helpful linkers. One error is the incorrect--and inexplicable--description of the original Omaha class having only ten 6-inch/53cal guns instead of the actual twelve such guns. Eventually all ten Omaha class light cruisers would lose the pair of lower casemated 6-inch guns aft, half of the ships before the war, and the other half during. These casemates were mounted low on prominent, projecting sponsons, making them adversely subject to green seas. Thus after such modification, these cruisers did mount ten 6-inch guns (Detroit, CL 8, lost another pair near war's end). And I would add another essential book to the bibliography: John P. Bracken's From the Bridge of the Marblehead, today difficult to find.

The Neilson site has four photographs displaying the various floatplanes on Marblehead. The top one (1944) and the ninth one down (1943) show Vought OS2U Kingfishers. The fifth one down, an earlier photo, but in this instance embellished with artwork to show her battle damage, reveals a Curtiss SOC Seagull on the starboard side, its wings folded back. The tenth photo down, likely taken in the early or mid-1930s but used in a wartime recruiting poster, shows either a Vought O2U Corsair or Berliner-Joyce OJ-2.

Now for the other cruisers, using photos accessed from linkers in the Neilson site. First of all, the location of the floatplanes aboard ship: they were aft, between stack No. 4 and the mainmast. Here are a couple of photos (NH 97971 and 19-N-40594) of Omaha (CL 4) readily showing the location of the floatplane catapults without their planes.




A photo (NH 97979) of Milwaukee (CL 5) shows--I THINK--a pair of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s, so its estimated date of the early 1930s is likely wrong, and should be at least early mid-1930s.



A photo (NH 100515) in the late 1920s shows an O2U-1 Corsair being hoisted aboard Cincinnati (CL 6).



Three photos of this cruiser in March 1944 (19-N-62458, 19-N-62459, 19-N-64188) reveal a pair of OS2U Kingfishers.





A pair of OS2U Kingfishers are also shown aboard Raleigh (CL 7) in May 1944 (19-N-66399)



The month previous, the port side of Detroit (CL 8) displays a Kingfisher (19-N-63759).



Richmond (CL 9) catapults a Vought O2U Corsair in a late 1920s photo (NH 100457).



A decade later, she has a pair of SOC Seagulls (80-G-1023013).



And well before war's end the SOCs had been replaced by a pair of OS2Us (note how they're tucked into the ship on their inwardly turned catapults)(NH 50203).



A nice color photo (C-627) of Concord (CL 10) off Balboa, CZ, in early January 1943, already shows Kingfishers aboard.



Trenton (CL 11) entering Pearl Harbor in 1939 displays SOCs (NH 82489), but four years later, she has OS2Us (19-N-44436).




In October 1942, Marblehead (CL 12), the damage she had sustained earlier that year as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet now repaired, prepares to catapult a Kingfisher (19-N-34910, 19-N-34914).




She still has her OS2Us a year and a half later (NH 98035)



IF the date estimated is correct, Memphis (CL 13) still has her Vought OU aircraft aboard in late 1929 (NH 46209).



But they have been replaced by a pair of Vought O2U Corsairs as of May 1933 (80-G-455864).



Which may have been still there a year later, or have been replaced by a brace of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s (NH 640).



By early 1942, these have in turn been replaced by Curtiss SOCs, one of which is shown being recovered and then hoisted back onto its catapult (80-G-21927, 80-G-21925)




Admittedly, this essay has been rather light on photos of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 floatplanes, but such aircraft assigned to Concord and Memphis, including a couple of whoops! incidents, may be seen at:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=berliner-joyce+oj

I'm going to end in a question. Given that at first glance the Curtiss SOC would appear to be the perfect scouting/spotting aircraft for the Omaha class light cruisers, which with their slender beam might have found floatplanes with folding wings a more comfortable match, why were the SOCs replaced so early and preferentially by Vought OS2Us, whose wings could not be folded back? It wasn't that the SOC was overly heavy for the derrick attached to the base of the mainmast, because the OS2U was heavier yet.

A poignant reminder is to be had with this photo from USS Philadelphia (CL 41), which as late as August 1944 clearly has her SOC Seagulls still aboard, long after the much older Omaha class units received their OS2U Kingfishers. Note that in the middle distance, Omaha (CL 4) does not have floatplanes on board, either because they were previously removed or because they're presently absent on a mission (80-G-256278).



Nelson
Last edited by Visje1981 on February 24th, 2012, 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Share

John MacG
John MacG

February 22nd, 2012, 4:35 pm #2

Doea anyone have the SLIGHTEST IDEA (sorry) of the camo & markings of Marblehead's SOCs in 1941-42?
Quote
Share

Nelson Lawry
Nelson Lawry

February 22nd, 2012, 5:58 pm #3

John,

I don't know the answer to your question. Quite some time ago in this forum there was chat regarding the very same question on Houston's SOCs. If memory serves, the peacetime schemes (each ship had its own, for easy aircraft ID), which lent itself to being easily observed--e.g., when searching for survivors at sea or on some remote island beach--had to be toned down a lot, and very likely such was done before war came. You may get your answer in Wayne R. Bise's Cruiser Flyboy: The USS Marblehead--the Ship That Wouldn't Sink! I know nothing about this book, its quality, or its reliability. It is out of print and fairly hard to find, but is in paperback (and a bit costly for an unused copy).

I may have some answers about why the Omaha class saw their SOCs replaced by OS2Us so surprisingly early. The OS2U had the longer range, a smidgeon more than 800 statute miles (about 700 nmi), compared to slightly less than 700 statute miles (c600 nmi) for the SOC, and indeed that may be part of it, given the wartime role of these outmoded light cruisers. I suspect, however, that the preference was not toward the Omaha class, but toward the Brooklyn class, which could stow four of the folding-wing SOCs in its hangar (what that large square stern was all about). Again, the OS2U did not have folding wings, and in fact was designed not to. Compounding this need was the finite number of SOCs built by Curtiss and the Naval Aircraft Factory, somewhere around 322 planes when production stopped in 1938. With the abysmal failure of the SOC's would-be replacement, the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, to satisfy specifications, the SOC was called back into service, including aircraft assigned to reserve and training units, but production was not resumed. They served until war's end and nary a one of this sturdy and reliable floatplane survives today, more's the pity.

Nelson
Quote
Share

Jacques
Jacques

February 23rd, 2012, 8:54 am #4

Someone asked me recently why so many prewar and WWII photos of Omaha class light cruisers don't show their floatplanes in place. While his perception may be correct, still there are plenty of photos of this class as a whole displaying their pair of scouting aircraft. Please correct my impression if wrong, but beginning in the mid-1920s, these former scout cruisers were equipped with a pair each of five progressively more modern floatplane types, the last of which took me by surprise:

Vought OU (mid to late 1920s)
Vought O2U Corsair (late 1920s to early mid-1930s)
Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 (early mid- to late mid-1930s, depending on the ship)
Curtiss SOC Seagull (mid-1930s to late 1942)
Vought OS2U Kingfisher (late 1942 to war's end OR whenever float planes were removed from this class of CLs)

One caveat before we continue: some of the photos from the interwar period identifying the biplanes aboard these ships as Vought O2Us may be incorrect. They may be instead Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s. Either the photos or mine eyes just aren't sharp enough for me to say one way or the other. And replacements, to be sure, took place on a ship by ship basis, with appreciable overlap during this time span. Any additional help on this progression will be appreciated.

A very good place to start is Larry Neilson's "USS Marblehead: Escape from the Jaws of Death".

http://www.cityofart.net/bship/uss_mhead_story.html

This site devoted to CL 12, has with one or two exceptions good textual information, decent photos, and helpful linkers. One error is the incorrect--and inexplicable--description of the original Omaha class having only ten 6-inch/53cal guns instead of the actual twelve such guns. Eventually all ten Omaha class light cruisers would lose the pair of lower casemated 6-inch guns aft, half of the ships before the war, and the other half during. These casemates were mounted low on prominent, projecting sponsons, making them adversely subject to green seas. Thus after such modification, these cruisers did mount ten 6-inch guns (Detroit, CL 8, lost another pair near war's end). And I would add another essential book to the bibliography: John P. Bracken's From the Bridge of the Marblehead, today difficult to find.

The Neilson site has four photographs displaying the various floatplanes on Marblehead. The top one (1944) and the ninth one down (1943) show Vought OS2U Kingfishers. The fifth one down, an earlier photo, but in this instance embellished with artwork to show her battle damage, reveals a Curtiss SOC Seagull on the starboard side, its wings folded back. The tenth photo down, likely taken in the early or mid-1930s but used in a wartime recruiting poster, shows either a Vought O2U Corsair or Berliner-Joyce OJ-2.

Now for the other cruisers, using photos accessed from linkers in the Neilson site. First of all, the location of the floatplanes aboard ship: they were aft, between stack No. 4 and the mainmast. Here are a couple of photos (NH 97971 and 19-N-40594) of Omaha (CL 4) readily showing the location of the floatplane catapults without their planes.




A photo (NH 97979) of Milwaukee (CL 5) shows--I THINK--a pair of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s, so its estimated date of the early 1930s is likely wrong, and should be at least early mid-1930s.



A photo (NH 100515) in the late 1920s shows an O2U-1 Corsair being hoisted aboard Cincinnati (CL 6).



Three photos of this cruiser in March 1944 (19-N-62458, 19-N-62459, 19-N-64188) reveal a pair of OS2U Kingfishers.





A pair of OS2U Kingfishers are also shown aboard Raleigh (CL 7) in May 1944 (19-N-66399)



The month previous, the port side of Detroit (CL 8) displays a Kingfisher (19-N-63759).



Richmond (CL 9) catapults a Vought O2U Corsair in a late 1920s photo (NH 100457).



A decade later, she has a pair of SOC Seagulls (80-G-1023013).



And well before war's end the SOCs had been replaced by a pair of OS2Us (note how they're tucked into the ship on their inwardly turned catapults)(NH 50203).



A nice color photo (C-627) of Concord (CL 10) off Balboa, CZ, in early January 1943, already shows Kingfishers aboard.



Trenton (CL 11) entering Pearl Harbor in 1939 displays SOCs (NH 82489), but four years later, she has OS2Us (19-N-44436).




In October 1942, Marblehead (CL 12), the damage she had sustained earlier that year as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet now repaired, prepares to catapult a Kingfisher (19-N-34910, 19-N-34914).




She still has her OS2Us a year and a half later (NH 98035)



IF the date estimated is correct, Memphis (CL 13) still has her Vought OU aircraft aboard in late 1929 (NH 46209).



But they have been replaced by a pair of Vought O2U Corsairs as of May 1933 (80-G-455864).



Which may have been still there a year later, or have been replaced by a brace of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s (NH 640).



By early 1942, these have in turn been replaced by Curtiss SOCs, one of which is shown being recovered and then hoisted back onto its catapult (80-G-21927, 80-G-21925)




Admittedly, this essay has been rather light on photos of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 floatplanes, but such aircraft assigned to Concord and Memphis, including a couple of whoops! incidents, may be seen at:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=berliner-joyce+oj

I'm going to end in a question. Given that at first glance the Curtiss SOC would appear to be the perfect scouting/spotting aircraft for the Omaha class light cruisers, which with their slender beam might have found floatplanes with folding wings a more comfortable match, why were the SOCs replaced so early and preferentially by Vought OS2Us, whose wings could not be folded back? It wasn't that the SOC was overly heavy for the derrick attached to the base of the mainmast, because the OS2U was heavier yet.

A poignant reminder is to be had with this photo from USS Philadelphia (CL 41), which as late as August 1944 clearly has her SOC Seagulls still aboard, long after the much older Omaha class units received their OS2U Kingfishers. Note that in the middle distance, Omaha (CL 4) does not have floatplanes on board, either because they were previously removed or because they're presently absent on a mission (80-G-256278).



Nelson
Nelson,

Another to add to your list of floatplanes operated from the OMAHA-class, is the VOUGHT VE-7H built by the Naval Aircraft Factory during 1924. A picture appears in Al Adcock's booklet "U.S. Light Cruisers in Action" with the description: "Naval Aircraft Factory VE-7Hs sit on their aircraft handling dollies on MILWAUKEE's catapult deck...." Unfortunately the pic taken aboard CL-5 is not clear enough and seen from astern with the aircraft facing forward, I cannot make out whether those are indeed VE-7s or the more common UO-1s - the only obvious difference being that the VE series were powered by inline, liquid-cooled engines vs. the UO's radials. It does seem feasible though, that these were used for a while until replaced by UO-1s.

Elsewhere it reads that "... by 1925, Vought UO-1 floatplanes were assigned to the OMAHA class cruisers. Two trainable catapults were mounted on the quarterdeck between the number 4 stack and the aft superstructure. An aircraft handling crane was fitted to facilitate aircraft loading and recovery."

Does this mean that catapults and floatplanes were added afterwards and that the class was not originally designed to carry them? A picture of OMAHA on her 1923 shakedown cruise seems to indicate this. It shows her devoid of catapults and a light, high mounted boom instead of the usual heavy aircraft handling derrick hinged near the base of the main mast. Also a mass of supporting cables and antennae between the No. 4 stack and the main mast would have hindered aircraft operations.

Casemated 6" guns
According to Al: "...Operations at sea proved the number 5 and 6 guns (the two lower guns in the aft superstructure) to be extremely wet. Most were removed during refits, although MARBLEHEAD carried a single 6-inch gun mounted in a casemated turret on the centerline of her aft superstructure during the mid-to-late 1930s."

Regards,

Jacques
Quote
Share

Nelson
Nelson

February 24th, 2012, 2:17 am #5

Jacques,

Before I begin, a correction with a third person apology: Larry NEILson is the owner of the Marblehead website I invoked (and given my first name, it seems I might get that surname spelling right). Again, see

http://www.cityofart.net/bship/uss_mhead_story.html

To your response....

> Elsewhere it reads that "...by 1925, Vought UO-1 floatplanes were assigned to the OMAHA class cruisers. Two trainable catapults were mounted on the quarterdeck between the number 4 stack and the aft superstructure. An aircraft handling crane was fitted to facilitate aircraft loading and recovery."

Does this mean that catapults and floatplanes were added afterwards and that the class was not originally designed to carry them? A picture of OMAHA on her 1923 shakedown cruise seems to indicate this. It shows her devoid of catapults and a light, high mounted boom instead of the usual heavy aircraft handling derrick hinged near the base of the main mast. Also a mass of supporting cables and antennae between the No. 4 stack and the main mast would have hindered aircraft operations. >

Yes, but added rather soon afterward. The evolution of the U.S. Navy's Omaha class scout/light cruisers is too long a story to include here, but I imagine you have some idea of the tale. The USN, which had alert attachés in England (and possibly Germany at first) and observers aboard RN warships at Jutland, realized that it lacked the fast scout and light cruisers which performed the overlapping roles of distant reconnaissance and flotilla leaders for destroyers that Britain and Germany had (the latter role was still performed by certain IJN light cruisers in the early stages of WWII, including some of the battles in the Java Sea), which underscored its own conclusions reached after the naval maneuvers of 1915. The Omahas were an early WWI design, finally laid down in 1918 and launched during the early 1920s. To extend their visual reach, all received a pair of catapults for scouting aircraft not too long after commissioning, 1923-1925.

As to your second point, the aircraft hoisting boom attached to the base of the mainmast, what you see is what you get with the Omahas. This WWII identification drawing shows the hoisting boom attached to and forward of the mainmast:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Omaha_class_cruiser_drawing.jpg

[add http:// before the 'en' to access this helpful drawing--unfortunately there's a Wikimpediment in place and it won't come up as a visual .jpg]

There was just too little space for a heavy aircraft derrick used on other cruiser classes. For example, it was routine practice to carry the Vought OS2U Kingfishers, at any rate, well forward on the catapult, as in the already seen aerial photo of Marblehead (CL 12) and in several other photos included. Again, note that long hoisting boom.




For the reasons both of us have raised, aircraft stowage, launching, and recovery were at least tres awkward in the Omahas, and likely difficult, moreso than in other cruisers, both light and heavy. Having made that point, I want to correct an error I committed regarding the aerial shot of Richmond (CL 9) transiting the Panama Canal just after the war's end. The pair of OS2U Kingfishers are stowed inboard, NOT on their catapults as I wrote. One can readily see the catapult parallel to the port side of the ship, completely sans aircraft.




> Another to add to your list of floatplanes operated from the OMAHA-class, is the VOUGHT VE-7H built by the Naval Aircraft Factory during 1924. A picture appears in Al Adcock's booklet U.S. Light Cruisers in Action with the description: "Naval Aircraft Factory VE-7Hs sit on their aircraft handling dollies on MILWAUKEE's catapult deck..." It does seem feasible though, that these were used for a while until replaced by UO-1s. >

Two thoughts here, the first the more general one. Both the American navy and army utilized field testing beyond what could be accomplished in their proving grounds, which subjected weapons to hard testing over a necessarily brief period. What was needed thereafter was appropriate field testing, to see what other problems might arise with prolonged use. For example, in the post-Civil War American West, you might find this infantry battalion or company armed with the Remington rolling block rifle in lieu of the standard Springfield Armory .45-70 'trapdoor', or that cavalry troop equipped with a different saddle than the McClellan, standard since just before the Civil War. In the same way, the peacetime navy tested various equipment, including aircraft, at sea. I believe that in the awful Gemisch where the navy sought different floatplanes for different roles aboard battleships (gunfire spotting), heavy cruisers (long distance scouting), and light cruisers (short distance or tactical scouting), we see the genesis of the numerous types of floatplanes of the mid-1930s, a point I'll return to. Having written that, I don't think that's precisely what we're looking at with the Vought/NAF VE-7 Bluebird series aircraft aboard the Omaha class cruisers, including Milwaukee (CL 5). I think what was happening was simply trying to get a handle on aircraft catapult launching and recovery aboard the Omahas using what was available, and what was available at the time was the Vought VE-7H floatplane. Do remember that this essentially World War I era aircraft served both the navy and army in a variety of roles, including trainer, fighter, and observation (float)plane.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_VE-7

As a navy one-man fighter, the VE-7S and -7SF saw early operational use aboard Langley (CV 1); as a two-man floatplane, the VE-7H (nine built) operated briefly from cruisers and the VE-9H (at least four built) did so equally briefly from battleships. As you have suggested, the successor Vought UO-1 likely replaced the trial period VE-7H floatplanes pronto, at least aboard cruisers.

And as I've suggested, there seems to have been a myriad of floatplane types during the mid-1930s, one quickly replacing another in a confounding musical chairs. One result, I think, is that not all cruisers of a particular class--or all battleships for that matter--were assigned a particular floatplane type. For example, I don't think that all ten Omaha class cruisers received the interim Berliner-Joyce OJ-2. Between them, two on-line sources have corroborated that the highest four hull numbers--Concord (CL 10), Trenton (CL 11), Marblehead (CL 12), and Memphis (CL 13)--had Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s. See

http://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contribut ... /10727.htm
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=berliner-joyce+oj

In addition, I THINK this photo of Milwaukee (CL 5) shows such floatplanes, even though the estimated date is a bit early. Take a look and tell me what you think. What persuades me, too, are the open cockpits (I cannot see the greenhouse present in the Curtiss SOC).




These biplanes are what a friend and I term sturdy-bodied, an evolution that included the OJ-2 and SOC, which added ruggedness to the design for water landings and recovery. The OJ-2 may not have been a bad plane, but it had open cockpits, and with the absorption of the manufacturer into North American Aviation and the departure of both Henry Berliner and Temple Joyce, the availability of spare parts was very likely at risk. It was time for the navy to move on. Thus I suspect that in some of the Omahas, the transition was from the Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 to the Curtiss SOC, whereas in others it went directly from the older Vought O2U to the SOC, but that's a supposition that definitely needs proof.

And to your last point:

> Casemated 6" guns
According to Al: "...Operations at sea proved the number 5 and 6 guns (the two lower guns in the aft superstructure) to be extremely wet. Most were removed during refits, although MARBLEHEAD carried a single 6-inch gun mounted in a casemated turret on the centerline of her aft superstructure during the mid-to-late 1930s." >

This is what the NavWeaps site has to say:

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_6-53_mk12.htm

"Cincinnati (CL-6), Raleigh (CL-7), Detroit (CL-8), Richmond (CL-9), and Marblehead (CL-12) had the after lower casemate guns removed during the 1930s as weight compensation for growth in other areas. Marblehead had one of these guns remounted in a superfiring position on the after superstructure. During World War II, the remaining cruisers [Omaha (CL-4), Milwaukee (CL-5), Concord (CL-10), Trenton (CL-11), and Memphis (CL-13)] were reduced to 10 guns by removal of the two after casemate guns and Marblehead lost her centerline gun. In 1945 Detroit was reduced to eight guns by the removal of her two forward upper casemate guns, which were replaced by twin 40mm mountings."

Nelson
Last edited by Visje1981 on February 24th, 2012, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Share

Nelson Lawry
Nelson Lawry

February 28th, 2012, 1:22 am #6

Someone asked me recently why so many prewar and WWII photos of Omaha class light cruisers don't show their floatplanes in place. While his perception may be correct, still there are plenty of photos of this class as a whole displaying their pair of scouting aircraft. Please correct my impression if wrong, but beginning in the mid-1920s, these former scout cruisers were equipped with a pair each of five progressively more modern floatplane types, the last of which took me by surprise:

Vought OU (mid to late 1920s)
Vought O2U Corsair (late 1920s to early mid-1930s)
Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 (early mid- to late mid-1930s, depending on the ship)
Curtiss SOC Seagull (mid-1930s to late 1942)
Vought OS2U Kingfisher (late 1942 to war's end OR whenever float planes were removed from this class of CLs)

One caveat before we continue: some of the photos from the interwar period identifying the biplanes aboard these ships as Vought O2Us may be incorrect. They may be instead Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s. Either the photos or mine eyes just aren't sharp enough for me to say one way or the other. And replacements, to be sure, took place on a ship by ship basis, with appreciable overlap during this time span. Any additional help on this progression will be appreciated.

A very good place to start is Larry Neilson's "USS Marblehead: Escape from the Jaws of Death".

http://www.cityofart.net/bship/uss_mhead_story.html

This site devoted to CL 12, has with one or two exceptions good textual information, decent photos, and helpful linkers. One error is the incorrect--and inexplicable--description of the original Omaha class having only ten 6-inch/53cal guns instead of the actual twelve such guns. Eventually all ten Omaha class light cruisers would lose the pair of lower casemated 6-inch guns aft, half of the ships before the war, and the other half during. These casemates were mounted low on prominent, projecting sponsons, making them adversely subject to green seas. Thus after such modification, these cruisers did mount ten 6-inch guns (Detroit, CL 8, lost another pair near war's end). And I would add another essential book to the bibliography: John P. Bracken's From the Bridge of the Marblehead, today difficult to find.

The Neilson site has four photographs displaying the various floatplanes on Marblehead. The top one (1944) and the ninth one down (1943) show Vought OS2U Kingfishers. The fifth one down, an earlier photo, but in this instance embellished with artwork to show her battle damage, reveals a Curtiss SOC Seagull on the starboard side, its wings folded back. The tenth photo down, likely taken in the early or mid-1930s but used in a wartime recruiting poster, shows either a Vought O2U Corsair or Berliner-Joyce OJ-2.

Now for the other cruisers, using photos accessed from linkers in the Neilson site. First of all, the location of the floatplanes aboard ship: they were aft, between stack No. 4 and the mainmast. Here are a couple of photos (NH 97971 and 19-N-40594) of Omaha (CL 4) readily showing the location of the floatplane catapults without their planes.




A photo (NH 97979) of Milwaukee (CL 5) shows--I THINK--a pair of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s, so its estimated date of the early 1930s is likely wrong, and should be at least early mid-1930s.



A photo (NH 100515) in the late 1920s shows an O2U-1 Corsair being hoisted aboard Cincinnati (CL 6).



Three photos of this cruiser in March 1944 (19-N-62458, 19-N-62459, 19-N-64188) reveal a pair of OS2U Kingfishers.





A pair of OS2U Kingfishers are also shown aboard Raleigh (CL 7) in May 1944 (19-N-66399)



The month previous, the port side of Detroit (CL 8) displays a Kingfisher (19-N-63759).



Richmond (CL 9) catapults a Vought O2U Corsair in a late 1920s photo (NH 100457).



A decade later, she has a pair of SOC Seagulls (80-G-1023013).



And well before war's end the SOCs had been replaced by a pair of OS2Us (note how they're tucked into the ship on their inwardly turned catapults)(NH 50203).



A nice color photo (C-627) of Concord (CL 10) off Balboa, CZ, in early January 1943, already shows Kingfishers aboard.



Trenton (CL 11) entering Pearl Harbor in 1939 displays SOCs (NH 82489), but four years later, she has OS2Us (19-N-44436).




In October 1942, Marblehead (CL 12), the damage she had sustained earlier that year as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet now repaired, prepares to catapult a Kingfisher (19-N-34910, 19-N-34914).




She still has her OS2Us a year and a half later (NH 98035)



IF the date estimated is correct, Memphis (CL 13) still has her Vought OU aircraft aboard in late 1929 (NH 46209).



But they have been replaced by a pair of Vought O2U Corsairs as of May 1933 (80-G-455864).



Which may have been still there a year later, or have been replaced by a brace of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s (NH 640).



By early 1942, these have in turn been replaced by Curtiss SOCs, one of which is shown being recovered and then hoisted back onto its catapult (80-G-21927, 80-G-21925)




Admittedly, this essay has been rather light on photos of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 floatplanes, but such aircraft assigned to Concord and Memphis, including a couple of whoops! incidents, may be seen at:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=berliner-joyce+oj

I'm going to end in a question. Given that at first glance the Curtiss SOC would appear to be the perfect scouting/spotting aircraft for the Omaha class light cruisers, which with their slender beam might have found floatplanes with folding wings a more comfortable match, why were the SOCs replaced so early and preferentially by Vought OS2Us, whose wings could not be folded back? It wasn't that the SOC was overly heavy for the derrick attached to the base of the mainmast, because the OS2U was heavier yet.

A poignant reminder is to be had with this photo from USS Philadelphia (CL 41), which as late as August 1944 clearly has her SOC Seagulls still aboard, long after the much older Omaha class units received their OS2U Kingfishers. Note that in the middle distance, Omaha (CL 4) does not have floatplanes on board, either because they were previously removed or because they're presently absent on a mission (80-G-256278).



Nelson
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the use of floatplanes on cruisers, and how they coped. The use of scout floatplanes markedly diminished upon the perfection of long-range search radar, although they continued to be useful means for gunfire spotting--i.e., island bombardment--and in the rescue of Allied airmen. Until the significant advance in radar technology, however, such floatplanes were used for reconnaissance, supplementing the larger flying boats with substantially longer range. The downside, as always, was the presence aboard of high octane avgas, which doomed more than one treaty tinclad, whose aircraft were stowed and fuel was stored amidships.

To address this problem against the backdrop of American cruiser evolution, I'll provide a little information on the matter from two warship modeling sites. [I'm not a modeler, but admire the skills they bring to their avocation, and the care exercised to get things right is its own pursuit of the truth.]

First a review by Steve Backer on the model of USS Huntington (CL 107), a Fargo class light cruiser beginning construction during the war, but becoming operational postwar.

http://www.steelnavy.com/NikoHuntington.htm

"All of the cruisers with which the US Navy fought World War Two were pre-war designs. If you look at the various classes, they can be divided between two generations. The first generation ships were composed exclusively of heavy cruisers, starting with the Pensacola class and ending with the New Orleans class. Although the classes did vary significantly in appearance, armor plans, and other arrangements, all of the first generation cruisers were characterized by a large aircraft hangar in the amidships superstructure and a tapered stern. The second generation of pre-war designs were characterized by a squared stern and a hangar inside the hull at the stern. The Brooklyn, Wichita, Cleveland, and Baltimore classes were all pre-war designs. Only the Atlanta class falls outside of these design characteristics." [And little surprise, because the Atlantas were antiaircraft light cruisers, sometimes designated as CLAA, and with a length overall of 541 feet--compared with the Clevelands, the two St. Louis class, nearly all of the Brooklyns, and Wichita (CA 45) at 608 feet overall--they did not carry floatplanes.]

Next, "Baltimore Class Heavy Cruiser", from Tom's Model Works

http://www.steelnavy.com/Toms700BaltimorePE.htm

"With the construction of the USS Wichita the USN had maximized the fighting value of the 10,000-ton standard Treaty Cruiser. All heavy cruisers built by the USN had to displace no more than 10,000-tons standard to be in compliance with the Washington Treaty of 1922 and London Treaty of 1930. All of the American heavy cruisers built under the provisions of the two treaties, except Wichita, suffered one serious design defect, placement of catapults amidships. Time after time the placement of the catapults, aircraft, and hangars amidships were contributing factors in the loss or serious damage to in action for the USN Treaty Cruisers. The aircraft and their fuel were easily ignited by shell or torpedo strikes, creating an inferno amidships. The Brooklyn class light cruiser developed the remedy to this threat by placing the catapult and aircraft hangar aft. Although this posed its own risks, this was a far better placement than having the fire hazard amidships. Since the Wichita hull was based on the Brooklyn hull, her aircraft were aft as well."

To keep the preceding class distinctions clear, the Brooklyn, St. Louis, and Cleveland classes were light cruisers--fifteen, fifteen, and twelve 6-inch guns, respectively--while the single-ship Wichita class and the 14-ship Baltimore class were heavy cruisers, all with nine 8-inch guns.

I have been concerned with two overlapping issues: (i) Did the USN preferentially assign the folding-wing Curtiss SOC Seagull to those modern cruisers with squared sterns--although the sailors aboard such vessels had an even saltier term for these hindquarters, the correct nautical description is a "wide transom"--concomitantly shifting the only other useful floatplane available, the Vought OS2U Kingfisher, to cruisers lacking this feature? It should be added that the SOC was available in finite numbers, which of course normal wastage reduced even further (e.g., between them in the early weeks of the war, Houston {CA 30} and Pensacola {CA 24} suffered the loss of four, and Houston's one surviving SOC, flown to Broome by Lieut. Jack Lamade, remained in Australia as a utility aircraft; a few others never made it out of the Philippines). (ii) What practices and compromises were put into place to permit floatplane operations on the Omaha class light cruisers, with their decidedly confined area between the fourth funnel and the mainmast?

I'm nowhere near the National Archives, so I'm not able to discover the truth at the level of stated policy. Once again I'll attempt to ferret out partial truths about such practices using available photographs. The convenient thing about the photos available is that some of them provide answers to both questions at the same time. So, as the reader looks at each of these photos, for starters, he should at all times be cognizant of aircraft type as much as possible and the position of the plane on the catapult.

First, two photos that will couple the folding-wing design of the Curtiss SOC Seagull with the wide transom, or square stern, aspect of the many cruisers that owed their design to Brooklyn and her sisters. That wide transom was all about the aircraft hangar, now displaced aft from its far more vulnerable and dangerous location midships, where volatile and explosive aviation gasoline and incoming enemy ordnance could combine to do their lethal worst.

This aspect is exemplified in an image (NH 81262) of Brooklyn (CL 40) herself in 1939, showing the broad transom she and her many sisters, half-sisters, and cousins are famous for. Note the single aircraft crane aft of, but otherwise between the two catapults. Just forward of the crane, straddled by the catapults, lay the large hatch into the aircraft hangar below.




Coupled with the hangar space aboard American cruisers was the nature of the Curtiss SOC Seagull. Here is a shot (19-N-30725) of four of them stowed on both aircraft catapults, out of the way, each with its outboard wing pair folded back, while Quincy (CA 39) was in the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn. [The superimposed character within the white circle marks the location of the 5-inch/25 drill gun.]




Floatplanes whose wings could not be so folded either could not be accomodated at all in the shipboard hangar, or fewer of them could be, thus requiring some to be stowed on exposed spaces when the weather turned sour.

In attempting to ascertain what floatplanes were carried by the various classes of cruisers during the war, one will find that although the answer is by no means straightforward, a pattern of sorts does emerge.

A. The Brooklyn Class Light Cruisers

Most of this class, as expected, were equipped with SOC floatplanes during most of the war, almost certainly to take best advantage of the hangar space. For example, Philadelphia (CL 41) was equipped with such aircraft in 1939 (NH 81196) and late 1942 (80-G-470060). And as seen as the last image in my first essay, they were still aboard during the invasion of southern France in August 1944 (80-G-256278).








Her sister Savannah (CL 42) displayed SOCs in early 1943 (NH 97958) and after repair and modernization in early September 1944 (NH 97955).






Honolulu (CL 48), after being torpedoed at the battle of Kolombangara in mid-July 1943, a month later showed off both a stubby replacement bow and an SOC floatplane (80-G-259466).




Sister Nashville (CL 43), however, had a pair of Vought OS2U Kingfishers in October 1944 (80-G-374940)




B. The Wichita Class Heavy Cruiser

In the midst of the Brooklyns came the one-of-a-kind heavy cruiser Wichita (CA 45), built on a nearly identical 608-foot overall hull with the same broad transom. This ship was equipped with SOC Seagulls in both the Atlantic in April 1942 (80-G-21010) and the Pacific in May 1944 (NH 90428).






C. The St. Louis Class Light Cruisers

Thereafter arrived this two-ship class of light cruisers, continuing much the same length and design as the Brooklyn class. Here is Helena (CL 50) with a brace of SOC Seagulls in 1943 (NH 95814).




D. The Cleveland Class Light Cruisers

Many ships of this class were built, to the same length and similar transom design as their predecessors. In late 1942, Cleveland (CL 55) carried a pair of Curtiss SO3C Seamews (pejoratively nicknamed "Seacows") (NH 55173), but in March 1944, in line with the policy to remove the failed aircraft from first line service and replace it with its reliable predecessor, she had at least one SOC Seagull on board (and note the large hatch between the catapults over the aircraft hangar) (NH 98058).






Sister Montpelier (CL 57) may have gotten Seagull floatplanes from the start, as such were evident at Efate in April 1943, with one on the water (80-G-384393), and at Saipan 14 months later (NH 98085).






On the other hand, the higher hull numbers of this class displayed OS2U Kingfishers not long into their service, e.g., Mobile (CL 63) in October 1943 (NH 98166), and the new Vincennes (CL 64) early in the following year (NH 48473). Back home in California by August 1945, the latter ship carried a pair of the new Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks (NH 98189).








E. The Baltimore Class Heavy Cruisers

There exists no photographic evidence I can find in this exploratory effort that the modern heavy cruisers of this class, which at last strayed from the Brooklyn class light cruisers in having a length overall of 673+ feet--but did not stray from that wide transom--were ever equipped with SOCs, as were so many of their lighter cousins. Along with the Clevelands, however, they did carry SO3C Seamews during 1943.

Baltimore (CA 68) displayed OS2Us at Mare Island in October 1944. Note that each floatplane had its own crane (NH 91462, NH 91464). These dual cranes interfered with the field of fire of the AA guns positioned between them (NH 91457). With newer construction, the design reverted to a single aircraft crane, with the AA gun tubs outboard of it.








Boston (CA 69) was carrying Curtiss SO3C Seamews in October 1943, but likely briefly (NH 92449), as she had a standard Vought OS2U Kingfisher six months later (80-G-283564).






Finally, here is USS Canberra (CA 70) with a brace of float monoplanes in October 1944 (80-G-284472). Although officially the SO3Cs should have been long gone by then, the nose looks like a Seamew, while the tail looks like a Kingfisher. I'm just not sure. Anyone?




I conclude there exists preliminary evidence that within the constraints of the diminishing availability in the number of SOCs as new cruiser construction progressed and as a function of cruiser type, there was an effort to apportion floatplanes in a manner best suited to their stowage aboard ship. Part II in this essay will explore floatplane type and spotting aboard in the older treaty heavy cruisers, and will return to the question of OS2U stowage and launching on the Omaha class light cruisers.

Nelson
Last edited by Visje1981 on February 28th, 2012, 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Share

Nelson
Nelson

February 28th, 2012, 8:24 am #7

As stated in the previous posting (Part I of the current essay series), thus far I've found that some vessels of both the Cleveland class of light cruisers and the Baltimore class of heavy cruisers were equipped with the unsatisfactory Curtiss SO3C Seamew float monoplane during 1943. I provided no close-up images of this briefly used aircraft, but since my posting, I've found these two shots of SO3C Seamews in use on Biloxi (CL 80), a Cleveland class light cruiser. In the upper photo (80-G-K-2832), note the large hatch cover in place immediately forward of the hoisting crane, positioned over the aircraft hangar below.




In the lower image (80-G-K-2836), note the turned up wingtips and the large tail of the SO3C, which were added to offset, but failed to solve entirely, the serious instabiity problems of this scouting aircraft. Not for nothing did it bear the cognomen of "Seacow".




Nelson
Quote
Share

Jacques
Jacques

February 29th, 2012, 9:04 am #8

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the use of floatplanes on cruisers, and how they coped. The use of scout floatplanes markedly diminished upon the perfection of long-range search radar, although they continued to be useful means for gunfire spotting--i.e., island bombardment--and in the rescue of Allied airmen. Until the significant advance in radar technology, however, such floatplanes were used for reconnaissance, supplementing the larger flying boats with substantially longer range. The downside, as always, was the presence aboard of high octane avgas, which doomed more than one treaty tinclad, whose aircraft were stowed and fuel was stored amidships.

To address this problem against the backdrop of American cruiser evolution, I'll provide a little information on the matter from two warship modeling sites. [I'm not a modeler, but admire the skills they bring to their avocation, and the care exercised to get things right is its own pursuit of the truth.]

First a review by Steve Backer on the model of USS Huntington (CL 107), a Fargo class light cruiser beginning construction during the war, but becoming operational postwar.

http://www.steelnavy.com/NikoHuntington.htm

"All of the cruisers with which the US Navy fought World War Two were pre-war designs. If you look at the various classes, they can be divided between two generations. The first generation ships were composed exclusively of heavy cruisers, starting with the Pensacola class and ending with the New Orleans class. Although the classes did vary significantly in appearance, armor plans, and other arrangements, all of the first generation cruisers were characterized by a large aircraft hangar in the amidships superstructure and a tapered stern. The second generation of pre-war designs were characterized by a squared stern and a hangar inside the hull at the stern. The Brooklyn, Wichita, Cleveland, and Baltimore classes were all pre-war designs. Only the Atlanta class falls outside of these design characteristics." [And little surprise, because the Atlantas were antiaircraft light cruisers, sometimes designated as CLAA, and with a length overall of 541 feet--compared with the Clevelands, the two St. Louis class, nearly all of the Brooklyns, and Wichita (CA 45) at 608 feet overall--they did not carry floatplanes.]

Next, "Baltimore Class Heavy Cruiser", from Tom's Model Works

http://www.steelnavy.com/Toms700BaltimorePE.htm

"With the construction of the USS Wichita the USN had maximized the fighting value of the 10,000-ton standard Treaty Cruiser. All heavy cruisers built by the USN had to displace no more than 10,000-tons standard to be in compliance with the Washington Treaty of 1922 and London Treaty of 1930. All of the American heavy cruisers built under the provisions of the two treaties, except Wichita, suffered one serious design defect, placement of catapults amidships. Time after time the placement of the catapults, aircraft, and hangars amidships were contributing factors in the loss or serious damage to in action for the USN Treaty Cruisers. The aircraft and their fuel were easily ignited by shell or torpedo strikes, creating an inferno amidships. The Brooklyn class light cruiser developed the remedy to this threat by placing the catapult and aircraft hangar aft. Although this posed its own risks, this was a far better placement than having the fire hazard amidships. Since the Wichita hull was based on the Brooklyn hull, her aircraft were aft as well."

To keep the preceding class distinctions clear, the Brooklyn, St. Louis, and Cleveland classes were light cruisers--fifteen, fifteen, and twelve 6-inch guns, respectively--while the single-ship Wichita class and the 14-ship Baltimore class were heavy cruisers, all with nine 8-inch guns.

I have been concerned with two overlapping issues: (i) Did the USN preferentially assign the folding-wing Curtiss SOC Seagull to those modern cruisers with squared sterns--although the sailors aboard such vessels had an even saltier term for these hindquarters, the correct nautical description is a "wide transom"--concomitantly shifting the only other useful floatplane available, the Vought OS2U Kingfisher, to cruisers lacking this feature? It should be added that the SOC was available in finite numbers, which of course normal wastage reduced even further (e.g., between them in the early weeks of the war, Houston {CA 30} and Pensacola {CA 24} suffered the loss of four, and Houston's one surviving SOC, flown to Broome by Lieut. Jack Lamade, remained in Australia as a utility aircraft; a few others never made it out of the Philippines). (ii) What practices and compromises were put into place to permit floatplane operations on the Omaha class light cruisers, with their decidedly confined area between the fourth funnel and the mainmast?

I'm nowhere near the National Archives, so I'm not able to discover the truth at the level of stated policy. Once again I'll attempt to ferret out partial truths about such practices using available photographs. The convenient thing about the photos available is that some of them provide answers to both questions at the same time. So, as the reader looks at each of these photos, for starters, he should at all times be cognizant of aircraft type as much as possible and the position of the plane on the catapult.

First, two photos that will couple the folding-wing design of the Curtiss SOC Seagull with the wide transom, or square stern, aspect of the many cruisers that owed their design to Brooklyn and her sisters. That wide transom was all about the aircraft hangar, now displaced aft from its far more vulnerable and dangerous location midships, where volatile and explosive aviation gasoline and incoming enemy ordnance could combine to do their lethal worst.

This aspect is exemplified in an image (NH 81262) of Brooklyn (CL 40) herself in 1939, showing the broad transom she and her many sisters, half-sisters, and cousins are famous for. Note the single aircraft crane aft of, but otherwise between the two catapults. Just forward of the crane, straddled by the catapults, lay the large hatch into the aircraft hangar below.




Coupled with the hangar space aboard American cruisers was the nature of the Curtiss SOC Seagull. Here is a shot (19-N-30725) of four of them stowed on both aircraft catapults, out of the way, each with its outboard wing pair folded back, while Quincy (CA 39) was in the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn. [The superimposed character within the white circle marks the location of the 5-inch/25 drill gun.]




Floatplanes whose wings could not be so folded either could not be accomodated at all in the shipboard hangar, or fewer of them could be, thus requiring some to be stowed on exposed spaces when the weather turned sour.

In attempting to ascertain what floatplanes were carried by the various classes of cruisers during the war, one will find that although the answer is by no means straightforward, a pattern of sorts does emerge.

A. The Brooklyn Class Light Cruisers

Most of this class, as expected, were equipped with SOC floatplanes during most of the war, almost certainly to take best advantage of the hangar space. For example, Philadelphia (CL 41) was equipped with such aircraft in 1939 (NH 81196) and late 1942 (80-G-470060). And as seen as the last image in my first essay, they were still aboard during the invasion of southern France in August 1944 (80-G-256278).








Her sister Savannah (CL 42) displayed SOCs in early 1943 (NH 97958) and after repair and modernization in early September 1944 (NH 97955).






Honolulu (CL 48), after being torpedoed at the battle of Kolombangara in mid-July 1943, a month later showed off both a stubby replacement bow and an SOC floatplane (80-G-259466).




Sister Nashville (CL 43), however, had a pair of Vought OS2U Kingfishers in October 1944 (80-G-374940)




B. The Wichita Class Heavy Cruiser

In the midst of the Brooklyns came the one-of-a-kind heavy cruiser Wichita (CA 45), built on a nearly identical 608-foot overall hull with the same broad transom. This ship was equipped with SOC Seagulls in both the Atlantic in April 1942 (80-G-21010) and the Pacific in May 1944 (NH 90428).






C. The St. Louis Class Light Cruisers

Thereafter arrived this two-ship class of light cruisers, continuing much the same length and design as the Brooklyn class. Here is Helena (CL 50) with a brace of SOC Seagulls in 1943 (NH 95814).




D. The Cleveland Class Light Cruisers

Many ships of this class were built, to the same length and similar transom design as their predecessors. In late 1942, Cleveland (CL 55) carried a pair of Curtiss SO3C Seamews (pejoratively nicknamed "Seacows") (NH 55173), but in March 1944, in line with the policy to remove the failed aircraft from first line service and replace it with its reliable predecessor, she had at least one SOC Seagull on board (and note the large hatch between the catapults over the aircraft hangar) (NH 98058).






Sister Montpelier (CL 57) may have gotten Seagull floatplanes from the start, as such were evident at Efate in April 1943, with one on the water (80-G-384393), and at Saipan 14 months later (NH 98085).






On the other hand, the higher hull numbers of this class displayed OS2U Kingfishers not long into their service, e.g., Mobile (CL 63) in October 1943 (NH 98166), and the new Vincennes (CL 64) early in the following year (NH 48473). Back home in California by August 1945, the latter ship carried a pair of the new Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks (NH 98189).








E. The Baltimore Class Heavy Cruisers

There exists no photographic evidence I can find in this exploratory effort that the modern heavy cruisers of this class, which at last strayed from the Brooklyn class light cruisers in having a length overall of 673+ feet--but did not stray from that wide transom--were ever equipped with SOCs, as were so many of their lighter cousins. Along with the Clevelands, however, they did carry SO3C Seamews during 1943.

Baltimore (CA 68) displayed OS2Us at Mare Island in October 1944. Note that each floatplane had its own crane (NH 91462, NH 91464). These dual cranes interfered with the field of fire of the AA guns positioned between them (NH 91457). With newer construction, the design reverted to a single aircraft crane, with the AA gun tubs outboard of it.








Boston (CA 69) was carrying Curtiss SO3C Seamews in October 1943, but likely briefly (NH 92449), as she had a standard Vought OS2U Kingfisher six months later (80-G-283564).






Finally, here is USS Canberra (CA 70) with a brace of float monoplanes in October 1944 (80-G-284472). Although officially the SO3Cs should have been long gone by then, the nose looks like a Seamew, while the tail looks like a Kingfisher. I'm just not sure. Anyone?




I conclude there exists preliminary evidence that within the constraints of the diminishing availability in the number of SOCs as new cruiser construction progressed and as a function of cruiser type, there was an effort to apportion floatplanes in a manner best suited to their stowage aboard ship. Part II in this essay will explore floatplane type and spotting aboard in the older treaty heavy cruisers, and will return to the question of OS2U stowage and launching on the Omaha class light cruisers.

Nelson
Nelson,

Floatplanes have long been a favourite of mine, a great subject with plenty to expand on and herewith a few of my comments. You wrote of the Treaty Cruisers:

"The downside, as always, was the presence aboard of high octane avgas, which doomed more than one treaty tinclad, whose aircraft were stowed and fuel was stored amidships."

Comment 1:
Whether avgas really "doomed more than one treaty tinclad" I'm not so sure about but I have read somewhere that aviation fuel aboard treaty cruisers was stored in bow tanks and pumped through outboard fuel lines along the ship's hull sides to the hangar deck area where smaller tanks held ready-fuel for the floatplanes - thereby limiting the amount of fuel carried in a vulnerable above-deck position amidships. See:



Photo # NH92362 of USS LOUISVILLE(CA-28) shows damage to her Diesel and Gasoline fuel lines, following a Kamikaze attack.

Comment 2:
You were asking:
"Finally, here is USS Canberra (CA 70) with a brace of float monoplanes in October 1944 (80-G-284472). Although officially the SO3Cs should have been long gone by then, the nose looks like a Seamew, while the tail looks like a Kingfisher. I'm just not sure. Anyone?"

To me, they appear to be a pair of Vought XSO2Us (nose of a Seamew, tail of a Kingfisher) which does not make sense at all because only a single prototype inline-engined XSO2U was produced and supposed to have been scrapped mid-1944. Incidentally, the Vought XSO2U was the plane actually preferred by the Navy as a replacement for the SOC rather than the Seamew but which Vought could not deliver due to lack of production capacity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_XSO2U

Comment 3:
"Seamew" was the name given by the British for the SO3C which stuck and by which name it is most referred to. The US Navy's official name was "Seagull" (again).

Comment 4:
I am still puzzled by the fact that the OS2U was not built in a folding wing version for use aboard cruisers. When the SO3C proved a failure, was this never even considered? A nice compact article on US floatplanes during WW2 which also answered a question I had about the non-folding wings of the Vought Kingfisher:

http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/bl ... ld-war-ii/

Why were the wings of Vought Kingfishers non-folding? "This was not a problem, because the Kingfisher was designed for use on battleships, which lacked hangers and simply parked their observation/scout planes on the launch rails when not used." But when employed aboard cruisers, surely this must have been a problem. When looking at the picture you posted, #80-G-K-2832, of the 2 Seamews aboard CL-80 - how're you gonna fit a Kingfisher down that hatch? Were Kingfishers ever hangared down below or just parked on the catapults?

Comment 5:
The Hangar on BROOKLYN-class and (presumably all follow-on cruisers) could accommodate up to eight scout planes and enough spares to construct a further two. If you add two more on the catapults, then a cruiser could have flown off a total of 10 floatplanes. And if these were all SC-1 Seahawks, it could have made for a potent little strike force.

Comment 6:
In response to your writing:

"Compounding this need was the finite number of SOCs built by Curtiss and the Naval Aircraft Factory, somewhere around 322 planes when production stopped in 1938. With the abysmal failure of the SOC's would-be replacement, the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, to satisfy specifications, the SOC was called back into service, including aircraft assigned to reserve and training units, but production was not resumed."

Curtiss might have stopped production in 1938 but NAF built another 64 SON-1s from 1940 onwards and Ryan Aeronautical commenced production in 1941 - how many SOR-1s built is not known.

Comment 7:
I recall that the US Navy took over all Seagulls operated by the Coast Guard when it had a shortage of shipboard float planes due to failure of the Seamew. This was evidently not the case as the Coast Guard only possessed three SOC-4s all of which were transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1942 and modified to SOC-3A standard, meaning the fitting of a deck arrester gear not floats.

From:
http://www.uscg.mil/history/webaircraft ... s_SOC4.asp

"The SOC was the last of the "Curtiss biplanes in operational service" with the U.S. Navy and was designed for use as a scout aircraft for battleships and cruisers--capable of catapult operation and landing at sea. The Coast Guard acquired the final three produced by Curtiss in 1938 and these were designated as SOC-4s. They were assigned the Coast Guard call numbers V171, V172, and V173 (BuNo 48243, 48244, 48245, respectively). V171 served with the cutter Bibb in an experimental use of aircraft on board large cutters. The Taney and Spencer were also involved in the experiment although they each carried a Grumman JF-2. These cutters did not have catapults and simply hoisted each amphibian overboard during flight operations. Apparently, however, the experiment was not overly successful although the Coast Guard continued to assign some amphibians to various cutters, particularly those operating in arctic waters, during the war (although not the SOC-4s). The V171 was then fitted with fixed conventional landing gear at some point and operated from an as-yet undetermined air station. V173 was assigned to Air Station Port Angeles.
All three were transferred to the Navy in 1942."

That's it for now. Looking forward to your Parts 2 & 3.

Regards,
Jacques


Quote
Share

Nelson Lawry
Nelson Lawry

February 29th, 2012, 9:45 am #9

Someone asked me recently why so many prewar and WWII photos of Omaha class light cruisers don't show their floatplanes in place. While his perception may be correct, still there are plenty of photos of this class as a whole displaying their pair of scouting aircraft. Please correct my impression if wrong, but beginning in the mid-1920s, these former scout cruisers were equipped with a pair each of five progressively more modern floatplane types, the last of which took me by surprise:

Vought OU (mid to late 1920s)
Vought O2U Corsair (late 1920s to early mid-1930s)
Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 (early mid- to late mid-1930s, depending on the ship)
Curtiss SOC Seagull (mid-1930s to late 1942)
Vought OS2U Kingfisher (late 1942 to war's end OR whenever float planes were removed from this class of CLs)

One caveat before we continue: some of the photos from the interwar period identifying the biplanes aboard these ships as Vought O2Us may be incorrect. They may be instead Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s. Either the photos or mine eyes just aren't sharp enough for me to say one way or the other. And replacements, to be sure, took place on a ship by ship basis, with appreciable overlap during this time span. Any additional help on this progression will be appreciated.

A very good place to start is Larry Neilson's "USS Marblehead: Escape from the Jaws of Death".

http://www.cityofart.net/bship/uss_mhead_story.html

This site devoted to CL 12, has with one or two exceptions good textual information, decent photos, and helpful linkers. One error is the incorrect--and inexplicable--description of the original Omaha class having only ten 6-inch/53cal guns instead of the actual twelve such guns. Eventually all ten Omaha class light cruisers would lose the pair of lower casemated 6-inch guns aft, half of the ships before the war, and the other half during. These casemates were mounted low on prominent, projecting sponsons, making them adversely subject to green seas. Thus after such modification, these cruisers did mount ten 6-inch guns (Detroit, CL 8, lost another pair near war's end). And I would add another essential book to the bibliography: John P. Bracken's From the Bridge of the Marblehead, today difficult to find.

The Neilson site has four photographs displaying the various floatplanes on Marblehead. The top one (1944) and the ninth one down (1943) show Vought OS2U Kingfishers. The fifth one down, an earlier photo, but in this instance embellished with artwork to show her battle damage, reveals a Curtiss SOC Seagull on the starboard side, its wings folded back. The tenth photo down, likely taken in the early or mid-1930s but used in a wartime recruiting poster, shows either a Vought O2U Corsair or Berliner-Joyce OJ-2.

Now for the other cruisers, using photos accessed from linkers in the Neilson site. First of all, the location of the floatplanes aboard ship: they were aft, between stack No. 4 and the mainmast. Here are a couple of photos (NH 97971 and 19-N-40594) of Omaha (CL 4) readily showing the location of the floatplane catapults without their planes.




A photo (NH 97979) of Milwaukee (CL 5) shows--I THINK--a pair of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s, so its estimated date of the early 1930s is likely wrong, and should be at least early mid-1930s.



A photo (NH 100515) in the late 1920s shows an O2U-1 Corsair being hoisted aboard Cincinnati (CL 6).



Three photos of this cruiser in March 1944 (19-N-62458, 19-N-62459, 19-N-64188) reveal a pair of OS2U Kingfishers.





A pair of OS2U Kingfishers are also shown aboard Raleigh (CL 7) in May 1944 (19-N-66399)



The month previous, the port side of Detroit (CL 8) displays a Kingfisher (19-N-63759).



Richmond (CL 9) catapults a Vought O2U Corsair in a late 1920s photo (NH 100457).



A decade later, she has a pair of SOC Seagulls (80-G-1023013).



And well before war's end the SOCs had been replaced by a pair of OS2Us (note how they're tucked into the ship on their inwardly turned catapults)(NH 50203).



A nice color photo (C-627) of Concord (CL 10) off Balboa, CZ, in early January 1943, already shows Kingfishers aboard.



Trenton (CL 11) entering Pearl Harbor in 1939 displays SOCs (NH 82489), but four years later, she has OS2Us (19-N-44436).




In October 1942, Marblehead (CL 12), the damage she had sustained earlier that year as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet now repaired, prepares to catapult a Kingfisher (19-N-34910, 19-N-34914).




She still has her OS2Us a year and a half later (NH 98035)



IF the date estimated is correct, Memphis (CL 13) still has her Vought OU aircraft aboard in late 1929 (NH 46209).



But they have been replaced by a pair of Vought O2U Corsairs as of May 1933 (80-G-455864).



Which may have been still there a year later, or have been replaced by a brace of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2s (NH 640).



By early 1942, these have in turn been replaced by Curtiss SOCs, one of which is shown being recovered and then hoisted back onto its catapult (80-G-21927, 80-G-21925)




Admittedly, this essay has been rather light on photos of Berliner-Joyce OJ-2 floatplanes, but such aircraft assigned to Concord and Memphis, including a couple of whoops! incidents, may be seen at:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=berliner-joyce+oj

I'm going to end in a question. Given that at first glance the Curtiss SOC would appear to be the perfect scouting/spotting aircraft for the Omaha class light cruisers, which with their slender beam might have found floatplanes with folding wings a more comfortable match, why were the SOCs replaced so early and preferentially by Vought OS2Us, whose wings could not be folded back? It wasn't that the SOC was overly heavy for the derrick attached to the base of the mainmast, because the OS2U was heavier yet.

A poignant reminder is to be had with this photo from USS Philadelphia (CL 41), which as late as August 1944 clearly has her SOC Seagulls still aboard, long after the much older Omaha class units received their OS2U Kingfishers. Note that in the middle distance, Omaha (CL 4) does not have floatplanes on board, either because they were previously removed or because they're presently absent on a mission (80-G-256278).



Nelson
Most of Part II of this photo essay will restrict itself to the positioning or spotting of the floatplanes on the four classes of treaty-built heavy cruisers and the Omaha class light cruisers. With the exception of a few early 1930s shots of Vought O2U Corsairs, the aircraft seen during the war will be Curtiss SOC Seagulls aboard the heavy cruisers (with a single exception) and Vought OS2U Kingfishers aboard the Omahas.

As with the stern-mounted catapults aboard Brooklyn (CL 40) and her many descendants, under most circumstances the treaty tinclads spotted one or two floatplanes at the rear end of their midships catapults, ready to fly. [To twist a line from the current U.S. presidential campaign and promises of jobs, jobs, jobs, specifically that any number of fave shovel-ready projects will be underway before dusk on any given candidate's inauguration day, then these scout planes might be thought of as throttle-ready.] That is decidedly not what will be seen for the Omaha class light cruisers, with their limited space to handle and launch aircraft.

It is not the general intention of this essay to discuss the design features of the various classes of cruisers, except as they bear on the floatplanes carried aboard, though one armament aspect needs mention in the Pensacolas.

A. The Pensacola Class Heavy Cruisers

These two ships, it must be said, did suffer from a number of design flaws. Most peculiarly, both the No. 2 and No. 3 turrets mounted triple 8-inch/55 cal guns, superfiring over the twin-gun No. 1 and No. 4 turrets, respectively, contributing to the ships' already existing tendency to be top heavy. Another odd feature was the lack of an aircraft hangar. Nonetheless, the normal floatplane complement was four, whether the earlier 1930s Vought O2U Corsairs or the later 1930s Curtiss SOC Seagulls.

Pensacola's full complement of O2U-4 Corsairs are shown in this 1933 image (NH 51885), two on the catapults, and two waiting in line behind. The men assembled on the well deck and flight deck included both sailors and marines, all in dress blues.




On September 28, 1942, Pensacola's Seagulls were spotted in two different places on her two catapults. There may be a third aircraft present, on the port flight deck, adjacent to the rear stack. Note the CXAM long-wavelength radar atop her foremast, which she had carried during the passage of the convoy that still bears her name (19-N-34705).

.


Salt Lake City (CA 25) was photographed (NH 80837) in Brisbane in August 1941, after she and Northampton (CA 26) had provided transpacific escort for the liner Jägersfontein, carrying AVG volunteers (eventually to Rangoon). One starboard SOC was spotted on the catapult, while another was literally "on deck", stepped slightly above the first on the flight deck; both have their outboard wings folded back. The MS 5 false bow wave camouflage was found to be ineffective and soon discontinued.




Looking aft on Salt Lake City, note in addition to the catapult-mounted SOCs, the four 5-inch/25cal DP guns, and the light AA higher in the superstructure. Also note the triple 8-inch guns in No. 3 turret and the twin guns in No. 4 turret (NH 50946). This firing was done during one of the early 1942 island bombardments the U.S. Navy undertook to strike back at the Japanese.




B. The Northampton Class Heavy Cruisers

This class of six heavy cruisers introduced the aircraft hangar, located in the after superstructure. Northampton (CA 26) accompanied Salt Lake City (CA 25) in escorting Jägersfontein to the NEI, thereafter steaming to Brisbane for an official visit. Note in the upper photo (NH 94596) the large opening into the hangar immediately below the SOC--outboard wings folded--on the starboard catapult. In the lower photo (NH 95333), the outboard wings of the plane on the port catapult remained unfolded. Along with Pensacola (CA 24) and two others, Northampton was one of the first cruisers to get CXAM radar. Also note the Measure Scheme 1--vertical surfaces painted dark gray 5D, except such surfaces above the stacks and main top, which were rendered light gray 5L--with a Measure Scheme 5 false bow wave.






Chester (CA 27) was at Mare Island Navy Yard in October 1943. Note the large, single hoisting derrick and the opening into the midships aircraft hangar (19-N-54656).




Dig that crazy camo, man....the bow is on the right! In May 1944, Chester wore Measure Scheme 32, Design 9d, and carried Vought OS2U floatplanes (19-N-73468).




Encountering wind, rain, and limited visibility, Louisville (CA 28) and an unnamed New Orleans class heavy cruiser plowed through the Bering Sea in May 1943, both ships with the wings of their SOC Seagulls extending well outboard (NH 94642).




In April 1935, a floatplane sat on Houston's (CA 30) starboard catapult, with a second airplane immediately behind on the flight deck (80-CF-21337-1). Given the date, the floatplanes were probably Vought O2U Corsairs. Again, an unidentified New Orleans class heavy cruiser is seen beyond.




C. The Portland class of heavy cruisers (two ships) was rather similar to the Northampton class. In mid-June 1942, Portland (CA 33) displayed a SOC on the front end of the starboard catapult. Note the single hoisting derrick, the large opening into the midships aircraft hangar, and the degaussing cable on the outside of the hull (NH 97833).




D. The seven-ship New Orleans class represented in some ways a radical change from the previous treaty tinclads. For example, the bow configuration was no longer raked, but now resembled that of standard WWII construction, as did the main battery turrets. Their Achilles heel, however, remained the aircraft hangar and fuel storage amidships. Two hoisting derricks replaced the single one in the previous heavy cruiser classes. A pair each of Seagulls and derricks can be seen in this photograph of New Orleans c1937 (NH 50757).




As shown in a color photograph taken in April 1943, Minneapolis (CA 36) revealed an SOC and her pair of hoisting derricks (80-G-K-541).




Looking aft in September 1941, the camera captured the starboard derrick hoisting an SOC on board Tuscaloosa (CA 37). In the foreground appear a pair of the stubby 5-inch/25cal dual-purpose gun emplacements (NH 47007). War was but two months away.




Looking very handsome, Vincennes (CA 44) passed through the Panama Canal in early January 1938, showing a pair each of hoisting derricks and SOC Seagulls with folded wings (NH 50845).




On the night of August 8-9, 1942--the second night after American marines went ashore at Guadalcanal and nearby islands in the Solomon chain--three heavy cruisers of the New Orleans class, along with HMAS Canberra, were taken by surprise and sunk by hostile naval forces in the first battle of Savo Island. Without exception, the strongest contributory cause for the loss of Astoria, Quincy, and Vincennes was being smothered in enemy ordnance, which created a firestorm amidships when the aviation fuel ignited, both in the stowed aircraft and that stored on board, invariably attracting even more enemy fire.

USS Astoria:

http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/cruisers/ca34.txt

"Astoria took no hits in the first four Japanese salvoes, but the fifth ripped into her superstructure turning her into an inferno amidships. In quick succession, enemy shells put her number 1 turret out of action and started a serious fire in the plane hangar that burned brightly and provided the enemy with a self-illuminating target. From that moment on, deadly accurate Japanese gunfire pounded her unmercifully...."

USS Quincy:

http://wikimapia.org/10718875/Wreck-of-USS-Quincy-CA-39

"Quincy was easily ranged by the seasoned Japanese gunners who were highly proficient in night fighting, and within minutes shells were slamming into her midship hangar area where her scout planes and ready aviation fuel stores provided more than enough fuel for a large fire which made her a brightly lit target....she continued to absorb dozens of hits of cruiser and destroyer caliber shells across her length while she inadvertently turned directly towards one of the Japanese formations." With her helmsmen dead, Quincy steamed through the night out of control, fiercely ablaze from stem to stern.

USS Vincennes:

http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/cruisers/ca44.txt

"Still moving at 19.5 knots, the heavy cruiser reeled under the impact of another group of direct hits. Some of the shells in this group set afire the volatile planes in Vincennes' hangar space, and the resultant flames defied all attempts to put them out....One or two 'Long Lance' torpedoes then ripped into the ship's number 1 fireroom and put it out of action. Losing steering control five minutes later, Vincennes was dead in the water within minutes."

Finally, back to the Omaha class light cruisers and what their photos tell one about how awkward floatplane ops must have been. The images of the various classes of light and heavy cruisers seen previously show virtually every floatplane on the rear end of the catapult, "throttle ready". Not so with the narrow-beam Omahas. The aircraft space was so confined, in May 1933, it was only possible for Memphis (CL 13) to launch its starboard Vought O2U Corsair by sliding its mate forward to the front end of the port catapult (80-G-455864).




Although no plane was on the port catapult in this instance, much the same thing would have obtained with Marblehead (CL 12) in October 1942, such that the OS2U Kingfisher about to be launched from the starboard catapult would have encroached upon a portside aircraft unless it too had been slid forward to the front end of its catapult (19-N-34914)



For that reason, it appears it was standard practice to carry one or both floatplanes on the forward end of the catapult, necessitating at least one being slid back on its cradle (skid) to the rear end of the launching device. Note thus how Cincinnati (CL 6) and Raleigh (CL 7) were carrying their OS2Us in 1944 (19-N-62458, 19-N-66399). Space was very limited, launching was awkward.






Nelson
Quote
Share

Nelson
Nelson

March 1st, 2012, 8:27 am #10

Nelson,

Floatplanes have long been a favourite of mine, a great subject with plenty to expand on and herewith a few of my comments. You wrote of the Treaty Cruisers:

"The downside, as always, was the presence aboard of high octane avgas, which doomed more than one treaty tinclad, whose aircraft were stowed and fuel was stored amidships."

Comment 1:
Whether avgas really "doomed more than one treaty tinclad" I'm not so sure about but I have read somewhere that aviation fuel aboard treaty cruisers was stored in bow tanks and pumped through outboard fuel lines along the ship's hull sides to the hangar deck area where smaller tanks held ready-fuel for the floatplanes - thereby limiting the amount of fuel carried in a vulnerable above-deck position amidships. See:



Photo # NH92362 of USS LOUISVILLE(CA-28) shows damage to her Diesel and Gasoline fuel lines, following a Kamikaze attack.

Comment 2:
You were asking:
"Finally, here is USS Canberra (CA 70) with a brace of float monoplanes in October 1944 (80-G-284472). Although officially the SO3Cs should have been long gone by then, the nose looks like a Seamew, while the tail looks like a Kingfisher. I'm just not sure. Anyone?"

To me, they appear to be a pair of Vought XSO2Us (nose of a Seamew, tail of a Kingfisher) which does not make sense at all because only a single prototype inline-engined XSO2U was produced and supposed to have been scrapped mid-1944. Incidentally, the Vought XSO2U was the plane actually preferred by the Navy as a replacement for the SOC rather than the Seamew but which Vought could not deliver due to lack of production capacity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_XSO2U

Comment 3:
"Seamew" was the name given by the British for the SO3C which stuck and by which name it is most referred to. The US Navy's official name was "Seagull" (again).

Comment 4:
I am still puzzled by the fact that the OS2U was not built in a folding wing version for use aboard cruisers. When the SO3C proved a failure, was this never even considered? A nice compact article on US floatplanes during WW2 which also answered a question I had about the non-folding wings of the Vought Kingfisher:

http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/bl ... ld-war-ii/

Why were the wings of Vought Kingfishers non-folding? "This was not a problem, because the Kingfisher was designed for use on battleships, which lacked hangers and simply parked their observation/scout planes on the launch rails when not used." But when employed aboard cruisers, surely this must have been a problem. When looking at the picture you posted, #80-G-K-2832, of the 2 Seamews aboard CL-80 - how're you gonna fit a Kingfisher down that hatch? Were Kingfishers ever hangared down below or just parked on the catapults?

Comment 5:
The Hangar on BROOKLYN-class and (presumably all follow-on cruisers) could accommodate up to eight scout planes and enough spares to construct a further two. If you add two more on the catapults, then a cruiser could have flown off a total of 10 floatplanes. And if these were all SC-1 Seahawks, it could have made for a potent little strike force.

Comment 6:
In response to your writing:

"Compounding this need was the finite number of SOCs built by Curtiss and the Naval Aircraft Factory, somewhere around 322 planes when production stopped in 1938. With the abysmal failure of the SOC's would-be replacement, the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, to satisfy specifications, the SOC was called back into service, including aircraft assigned to reserve and training units, but production was not resumed."

Curtiss might have stopped production in 1938 but NAF built another 64 SON-1s from 1940 onwards and Ryan Aeronautical commenced production in 1941 - how many SOR-1s built is not known.

Comment 7:
I recall that the US Navy took over all Seagulls operated by the Coast Guard when it had a shortage of shipboard float planes due to failure of the Seamew. This was evidently not the case as the Coast Guard only possessed three SOC-4s all of which were transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1942 and modified to SOC-3A standard, meaning the fitting of a deck arrester gear not floats.

From:
http://www.uscg.mil/history/webaircraft ... s_SOC4.asp

"The SOC was the last of the "Curtiss biplanes in operational service" with the U.S. Navy and was designed for use as a scout aircraft for battleships and cruisers--capable of catapult operation and landing at sea. The Coast Guard acquired the final three produced by Curtiss in 1938 and these were designated as SOC-4s. They were assigned the Coast Guard call numbers V171, V172, and V173 (BuNo 48243, 48244, 48245, respectively). V171 served with the cutter Bibb in an experimental use of aircraft on board large cutters. The Taney and Spencer were also involved in the experiment although they each carried a Grumman JF-2. These cutters did not have catapults and simply hoisted each amphibian overboard during flight operations. Apparently, however, the experiment was not overly successful although the Coast Guard continued to assign some amphibians to various cutters, particularly those operating in arctic waters, during the war (although not the SOC-4s). The V171 was then fitted with fixed conventional landing gear at some point and operated from an as-yet undetermined air station. V173 was assigned to Air Station Port Angeles.
All three were transferred to the Navy in 1942."

That's it for now. Looking forward to your Parts 2 & 3.

Regards,
Jacques

Jacques,

Thanks for yours. I'll do the best I can to address your questions (I know most of the answers, but I'll provide input from other sources to support those answers).

> Whether avgas really "doomed more than one treaty tinclad" I'm not so sure about, but I have read somewhere that aviation fuel aboard treaty cruisers was stored in bow tanks and pumped through outboard fuel lines along the ship's hull sides to the hangar deck area where smaller tanks held ready-fuel for the floatplanes - thereby limiting the amount of fuel carried in a vulnerable above-deck position amidships. >

You need to take a hard(er) look at the loss of the three New Orleans class heavy cruisers in the first battle of Savo Island, August 8-9, 1942. It's pretty clear that the torrent of shells and/or torpedoes were destructive in and of themselves, but in each instance, the inferno caused by the burning avgas from the floatplanes spotted on their catapults and the ready fuel tanks within the amidships hangars could not be dealt with effectively by damage control parties. Such terrible fires also served as beacons for additional attention from the enemy. Whether the side of the hangar was directly penetrated, or the shells were fired from hostile vessels off the port or starboard bow of the treaty cruiser, and missing the forward superstructure, were pocketed by the hangars with their large openings (as seen in your attached photo of Louisville {CA 28}), inside the hangar was gasoline in both ready fuel tanks and any floatplanes stowed there. Also, there were flammable lubricants, organic solvents, cleaning fluids, and the like to add to the conflagration. An AP or HE shell exploding there was a giant Molotov cocktail, the moreso with explosive fumes present inside closed tanks, throwing flaming liquid gasoline everywhere and generating multifold fires that were soon impossible to deal with.

Also, I find little comfort in the gasoline line from the bow tanks, running just inside the hull to the aircraft facility. The "treaty tin" hull being penetrated by shells or torpedoes and setting this conduit of gasoline alight could well explain Quincy (CA 39) moving across the black water, no living hand at her helm, afire along nearly her entire length like some demon from hell. Also Northampton (CA 26) at the battle of Tassaforonga, Nov 30-Dec 1, 1942, was badly holed by two torpedoes, causing terrible structural damage and setting afire her bunker oil. I'll wager flaming avgas was also contributory to those oil fires and her loss.

> "Seamew" was the name given by the British for the SO3C which stuck and by which name it is most referred to. The US Navy's official name was "Seagull" (again). >

Um, too true, but the name this failed aircraft is known by today--and virtually forever (i.e., back to the days when Hadrian's Wall was under construction)--is the Seamew, to obviate any confusion in which aircraft is being discussed. The identical name of Seagull makes it difficult to differentiate between the good and reliable stalwart, the SOC, and the unstable and unreliable piece of trash, the SO3C.

> I am still puzzled by the fact that the OS2U was not built in a folding wing version for use aboard cruisers. When the SO3C proved a failure, was this never even considered? A nice compact article on US floatplanes during WW2 which also answered a question I had about the non-folding wings of the Vought Kingfisher:

http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/bl ... ld-war-ii/

Why were the wings of Vought Kingfishers non-folding? "This was not a problem, because the Kingfisher was designed for use on battleships, which lacked hangars and simply parked their observation/scout planes on the launch rails when not used." >

Permit me to quote a bit more from this particular PAM website, "U.S. Scout/Observation Floatplanes in World War II", and then provide some of my own remarks.

"You might think that as a monoplane, [the Vought OS2U Kingfisher] would have been faster than the biplane Seagull, but the Kingfisher had an even less powerful Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engine with only 450 hp. This was a conscious design choice. It allowed the Kingfisher to be small yet still be a monoplane without folding wings. However, it only gave the Kingfisher marginally better performance than the Seagull--a maximum speed of 170 mph and a range of 1,485 miles. Although the Kingfisher was not very superior to the Seagull, it was produced when the Navy was gearing up for war, so Vought built a large number of them. Before production ended in 1942, 1,519 Kingfishers were produced by Vought and the Naval Aircraft Factory. This was small by fighter and bomber production volumes, but the OS2U was the most widely produced floatplane in World War II.

The Kingfisher had non-folding wings. This lightened its weight. It also meant that it could not be stored efficiently in cruiser hangars. This was not a problem, because the Kingfisher was designed for use on battleships, which lacked hangars and simply parked their observation/scout planes on the launch rails when not used. Because the Kingfisher was designed to operate from battleships, observation was its primary role, so it was given the designation OS instead of SO."

All of that freely translates to the Vought OS2U Kingfisher being a quick and dirty design intended for mass production: no folding-wing or other float variants to complicate matters and add weight. They did the job (observation and search) well enuff, so build the suckers fast and get 'em out to the Fleet. While designed for BBs, which had no aircraft hangars, they went also to the Omaha class CLs and other cruisers as the supply of SOCs dwindled. The specific roles of S-- and O-- floatplanes had become blurred--if they ever were truly separate--which was hardly clarified by the ever-improving radar in supplanting the original primary role of these aircraft.

> Curtiss might have stopped production in 1938 but NAF built another 64 SON-1s from 1940 onwards and Ryan Aeronautical commenced production in 1941 - how many SOR-1s built is not known. >

Fair enough, but the total number built was 258 by Curtiss, ending in 1938, and 64 by NAF between 1940 and 1941, before the beginning of the war, and IIRC, those 322 were it. As far as any Ryan SOR-1s, I think little more than un pétard dans le vent.

Take a look at the floatplanes on board Chester (CA 27), painted with the optical delusion camouflage, in Part II of my current essay. I've identified them as OS2U Kingfishers, but I dunno. If I didn't know the date, May 1944, I'd say they were Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks, except that plane was not introduced to the Fleet until October 1944, aboard the super-duper (battle)cruiser Guam (CB 2). Whadiya think? Speaking of the Seahawk, I've always thought it a handsome plane....as long as it had its floats attached. With its conventional landing gear, it was one yewgly plane! Take a look at the third photo down in

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtiss_SC_Seahawk

Nelson
Quote
Share