Sunday, February 27, 2011

In Memoriam - USS Grayback (SS208) - Sunk 27 February 1944

USS Grayback (SS-208) was a Tambor-class submarine designed in 1937 and commisioned on 03 April 1940.

On 28 January 1944, the veteran submarine left Pearl Habor for her tenth and final patrol. After sinking three large merchant ships and damaging three more, Grayback reported she was down to only two torpedoes and was ordered to return home on 25 February. She was never heard from again.

After the war, captured Japanese records revealed Grayback's fate. After turning for home, Grayback encountered a Japanese freighter, the Ceylon Maru. Grayback used her last two torpedoes to send the Japanese ship and her war cargo to the bottom. Later that same day, a Japanese carrier-based airplane spotted Grayback on the surface and attacked, causing the submarine to explode and sink "immediately". Japanese anti-submarine warships were sent to the area and depth charges were dropped until a heavy oil slick swelled to the surface.

The Tambor class took full advantage of everything American engineers had learned about submarine design and added to that knowledge new technologies in fire control and propulsion. These submarines were also designed to fight a war in the Pacific, as opposed to the coastal defense roles and Alantic war zone envisioned for earlier submarines. These submarines were nearly identical to Razorback in size and armament, but only had a safe diving depth of 250 feet.

In drydock at the beginning of the war, Grayback began her first war patrol in February 1942, and successfully completed nine war patrols, sinking 11 Japanese ships including a submarine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

USS Arkansas (CGN-41) Stern Plate on Exhibit

The name of a vessel is required to be displayed permanently and prominently across the stern. The color, size and spacing of the letters are designed to ensure that the name can be seen and clearly read from other ships many miles away.

Ships also display their name, or in the case of warships, their unique hull number, on either side of the bow to identify them. (Since the bow of a submarine is underwater, the numbers are displayed on the sail.)

This stern plate is from the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS Arkansas (CGN-41). It was removed when she was decommissioned and recycled.

The stern plate is on loan from the U.S. Navy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Models in Stock

The long awaited models from OKB Grigorov have arrived.

We have the following models in stock:

USS Skipjack-class SSN - $20
USS Sturgeon class SSN - $20
USS Permit-class SSN - $20
USS Tulibee (SSN-597) - $20
USS Ohio class SSBN / SSGN - $40

Russian Borei-class SSBN - $40
Russian Yasen-class SSN - $35
Russian November-class SSN - $25

French Redoutable-class SSBN - $35

As you would expect for 1/700 resin kits, the part count is low, with most kits having four resin parts and one photo-etched metal part.

- Hull
- Starboard diving plane
- Port diving plane
- Propeller (photo-etched)
- Dunce cap (the cone-shaped part on the back of the propeller)

There is also a display stand in each kit.

All kits are "full-hull", that is, they show the entire ship, including the part that would normally be underwater. The hulls have a resin block along the keel, which will have to be carefully removed and sanded smooth before painting. If you've never built a resin kit before, this is normal and expected.

Overall detail is good. When comparing the model to the available (unclassified) blueprints that are available, it doesn't look like OKB missed anything. All the various hatches, torpedo tube doors, and intakes are there.

That's not to say that these kits are perfect. There are occasional bubbles, small voids and rough spots in the molds. These are to be expected in resin kits and are easy to fix. The vertical rudders are often rough and lacking the seam that should show the separation between the rudder and the rudder stock, but this should also be easy to fix and again, isn't completely a surprise to anyone who has built resin ship models.

The four SSN kits were examined in detail.

The Tulibee kit has excellent detail, but appears to have the after PUFFS array in the wrong position, at least as compared to the "as built" drawings that I have on hand. The arrays themselves also don't look quite right, but both position and appearance are relatively easy to fix. USS Tulibee (SSN-597) was a unique submarine.

The Skipjack and Sturgeon class kits have excellent detail, as does the Permit-class kit, which is incorrectly labeled as a "Thresher" class (the entire class was renamed after USS Thresher (SSN-593) was lost in an accident in 1963).

Since this was the first order of kits from this company, only limited numbers of each kit were ordered (only one in some cases), so if you want one, call or e-mail soon.

Sales tax is included in the price, but postage will be "at cost".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Memoriam - USS Amberjack (SS-219) - Lost 16 February 1943

Japanese reports record three engagements believed to have destroyed US submarines just about the time Grampus (SS-207) and USS Amberjack (SS-219) disappeared. Any of these attacks could have sunk either boat, so it is uncertain as to the exact dates of the losses of the two submarines. Amberjack's last radio transmission was sent 14 February 1943.

An attack by a Japanese torpedo boat and a sub-chaser on 16 February is considered the most likely end of Amberjack. Whatever submarine they depth charged that day had already been attacked by an escorting patrol plane. Oil and "parts of the hull" came to the surface. The next day, however, a US submarine was spotted; on 19 February one was believed to have been sunk; and yet another sighting was recorded on 24 February. It is possible that the attack of 19 February is what actually finished Amberjack off; or, all of these sightings could have been made on Grampus.

Amberjack was lost during her third war patrol, with 73 men, and is credited with sinking three ships and damaging two more.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

New Submarine Publication

The Naval War College Press has just released a new manuscript as part of their Newport Papers series.

Titled "Defeating the U-boat: Inventing Antisubmarine Warfare" and written by Dr. Jan S. Breemer, a professor of National Security Decision Making at the Navy War College in Monterey, CA, this manuscript covers the British response to the German submarine threat during the First World War. Dr. Breemer also discusses how the history of events nearly 100 years ago holds implications for decision makers today.

"Defeating the U-boat: Inventing Antisubmarine Warfare" is available as a free download from the Naval War College Press website. Copies may also be ordered through the Government Printing Office, or by signing up for the Newport Papers via the Naval War College. The AIMM Library also has a copy for researchers to read.

Image courtesy of the Naval War College Press

Friday, February 04, 2011

In Memoriam - USS Barbel (SS-316) - Lost With All Hands - 04 February, 1945

USS Barbel (SS-316) was a Balao-class submarine. Similar in design to Razorback, she was built at the Electric Boat Company shipyard in Groton, CT. Commissioned the same day as Razorback - April 3rd, 1944, Barbel actually beat Razorback to the war zone by a month, departing for her first war patrol on July 15th, 1944. During three war patrols, Barbel sank six Japanese ships, for a total of 15,263 tons.

Operating as part of a "wolf pack" out of Fremantle, Australia, Barbel left for her fourth war patrol on January 5th, 1945. The wolf pack was assigned to patrol the waters between the Philippines and Malaysia. On February 3rd, Barbel reported that she had been depth charged three times by Japanese aircraft. She indicated that she would send more information the next night.

Barbel was never hear from again.

A postwar examination of Japanese records showed that Japanese aircraft attacked a surfaced submarine in the area on February 4th. Two bombs were dropped, with one exploding near the bridge.

USS Barbel was lost with all hands.