Sunday, June 20, 2021

good morning justin



USS North Carolina aka "Showboat"

The battleships' final iteration.

Rows of cannon of various size

pointing in all directions.

 The fantail features a crane

designed for the recovery of small seaplanes

that were primarily used to find the location

of one's enemy - another battleship or cruiser

lurking in the vastness of the Pacific.

Scouting was the primary mission

of the Kingfisher floatplane but

it also could give a bird's eye report 

on the results of one's gunnery...

drop a hundred meters - and such directions

as needed in order to strike the enemy.

A dozen water-logged sailors

once crammed into that glassed-in space

behind the pilot in a daring

rescue at sea.

 In 1940, when the North Carolina was completed,

most admirals thought naval power

was still all about the big guns.

barrel length:          60 feet

bore diameter:       16 inches

projectile weight:    2,700 pounds

range:                     20 miles


             Have your barrel replaced or relined after 400 firings. 

Three turrets of 16 inch guns.

Nine guns in all.

That's a broadside of nearly 

twelve tons of explosive

wrapped in armor-piercing steel

coming your way in one punch.

 North Carolina's sister ship, the Washington

sank the Japanese battleship Kirishima

in a night action off Guadalcanal in late 1942.

The Washington used its radar to close in on its target

while the Kirishima had only human eyes in darkness

for warning.

 Radar provides direction and distance to its target

while an analog computer inside the turret

determines windage and the effects 

ocean humidity has on the shell's flight.

This is home.

Get comfortable with that thought.

You'll be called upon to keep it afloat.

If you're not up to the task

you and everyone else 

are now in the drink.

Drowned or dismembered.

Take your pick.

Beneath the big gun,

along the far reaches of the ship's narrow-slung bow,

stands a grouping of machine guns

all facing skyward.  The first sign

something is amiss.

Who'd a thought a few

miserably cheap planes 

could sink a ship 

with 2,000 souls aboard.

Things quickly got out of hand what with

Pearl Harbor now sunk up to mud at battleship row.

Your problem isn't just dispatching a pilot

intent on shooting you.

You must also dispose of three tons of machinery

headed your way at two hundred miles an hour.

Well here it is.  

The Swedish made

40 mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun

with convenient foot-peddle firing 

and easy to use elevation crank.

Everything's disfigured with a Bofors.

Note the carbon age fuel stacks

amidst the assorted tube 

purveyors of carnage.


When not used for shore bombardment 

these five inch guns would provide a field

of flak, shrapnel, overhead to ward off

attacks from enemy pilots thinking of 

making a quick run at the ship.

Here's the tale of the tape.

The North Carolina shot down 24 planes.

The ship bombarded 9 islands.

And it sank a troop ship.

Naval power was now 3D chess.

Battleships became an important part

of the carrier's air defense

as opposed to leading the big parade.

An example of reality once again

mocking our best-laid plans.

She was a fast battleship at 28 knots.

But carriers could go 32.

So the Iowa class battleship was born.

In one configuration after another

they survived into the 1990's, 

eventually firing cruise missiles

at targets during the first Iraq war.

A cofferdam was recently used 

to make the memorial an onsite drydock

so needed maintenance could be done 

below the waterline.



©  Tom Taylor


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