LT Richard Stambook flew various types of carrier aircraft during the war, transitioning from the SBD Dauntless to the F4F Wildcat, and eventually flying the F6F Hellcat with VF-27. His best day was during the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19JUN44 when he was credited with four – three A6M Zeros and a single D4Y Judy. He scored his final victory, a Ki-45 Toryu “Nick” on 18OCT44. One week later the USS Princeton (CVL-27) was struck by a single bomb dropped by another D4Y Judy, the subsequent fires eventually leading to her loss. Stambock survived the sinking and the war, an ace with eleven victories.
This model represents the F6F-3 Hellcat of LT Richard Stambook, VF-27, USS Princeton (CVL-23), October 1944.
Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the USS Plunkett
Authored by James Sullivan, Narrated by Jacques Roy
Audiobook, 10 hours and 9 minutes
Published by Simon and Shuster Audio
USS Plunkett (DD-431) was a Gleaves-class destroyer which was commissioned five months before the Pearl Harbor attack brought America into the Second World War. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she participated in the Torch landings in North Africa, the Invasion of Sicily, and the Anzio landings. Off Anzio she came under sustained attacks from German aircraft, and was eventually hit by a 550-pound bomb which killed 51 of her crew. After repairs Stateside, she rejoined the Fleet in time for the Normandy landings, the shelling of Cherbourg, and the invasion of Southern France. She was on her way to the Pacific when the war ended.
This book tells the story of Plunkett from the perspectives of five members of her crew. There are basically three threads to each story – the home front before and during the war which gives the men’s civilian backgrounds as well as those of their families; the wartime experiences and shipboard operations; and finally the author’s visits with the men and their families many years later to gather information for the book. I found all three perspectives interesting for different reasons, but jumping between the five men and three timelines strained the continuity of the story.
The book is at its strongest when describing the wartime exploits of the Plunkett. Her story is one version of the naval war in the European theater. I have read that she may have been the only Allied ship to have participated in all the major landings in Europe. Destroyers were the workhorses of the Navy, and she certainly was in the thick of things. There is a definite bifurcation in the book, events before the bomb hit off Anzio are covered in great detail, later landings are given only a cursory treatment to close out the story. I would definitely like to hear the fine points of her participation in the D-Day landings, Cherbourg, and Southern France, but they are missing.
Still this is an interesting tale of ships and the sea, and there is much which will be familiar to Navy veterans. Recommended for anyone interest in naval history.
Photographs taken at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (NMUSAF) at Dayton, Ohio.
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Kenneth Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1933 at the age of 17. He was trained as a Naval Aviator in 1937, earning his pilot’s wings while still a private. By February 1943 Walsh was a 1LT, serving with VMF-124 on Guadalcanal. He opened his account on 01APR43 with a triple, scoring another three on 13MAY43 which made him the first pilot to make ace on the Corsair. He continued to add to his score, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for 20 victories. He returned to combat in 1945, serving in the Philippines and scoring his last victory off Okinawa on 22JUN45. Walsh flew transports with VMR-152 during the Korean War, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1958.
The model represents the F4U-1 Corsair of Lt. Kenneth Walsh USMC, VMF-124, as it appeared while operating from Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 1943.
This aircraft is B-1 of VB-6 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942. The crew was LT Richard H. Best and Chief Radioman James F. Murray. This was one of only three SBDs which attacked Akagi, and Best scored the only hit which led to her eventual loss. Best was also credited with a hit on Hiryu later in the day and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.
This is the Hasegawa SBD-3 kit, dive flaps were replaced with Quickboost resin, there’s really no way to get a decent appearance using the kit flaps. The cockpit was also replaced with resin, canopy sections are from Falcon. The bomb is from True Details. The small window forward of the bomb is molded closed, it was opened up and given glass with Micro Krystal Klear. The landing light is a small section punched from the inside of a candy bar wrapper, these are very reflective. Decals are from Starfighter’s Midway sheet and performed quite well, as expected. The spinner is True Blue. This a throwback to the Yellow Wing days, when Enterprise’s air group tail color was Blue. Enterprise’s call sign was “Blue Base”.
Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History
Authored by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager, Narrated by Brian Kilmeade
Audiobook, 4 hours and 52 minutes
Published by Penguin Audio, November 2015
Muslim slave traders had long raided coastal areas along the Mediterranean, going as far back as 710. Settlements were looted, and captives could be sold into slavery or ransomed for profit. The Ottoman slave trade increased as shipbuilding skills improved, with the raiders venturing as far as Ireland. Between 1580 and 1780 an estimated 1.25 Million Europeans had been taken by slavers, and many parts of the northern Mediterranean coast were abandoned. By the end of the 18th century the most active raiders were from the states of Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco along the Barbary Coast. Their tactics had evolved to privateering, seizing shipping and ransoming the ships and crews. Those sailors who were not ransomed were enslaved. Many European nations found it easier to pay tribute to the pirate states in exchange for safe passage than to oppose them militarily.
Before the American Revolution, American shipping was protected by Great Britain, and during the Revolution by French allies. After independence from Britain the American were on their own, and paid tribute for safe passage like many European nations. Still there were seizures, with American sailors enslaved or ransomed. The Barbary leaders demanded ever-increasing tributes. Jefferson had had enough, and responded that, “they shall have their payment in iron!” Congress authorized the construction of warships, which were dispatched in several expeditions to blockade the Barbary ports.
This book details the diplomatic as well as military maneuvers of what were to become known as the Barbary Wars. There were several interrelated efforts between 1801 and 1804, some better conducted than others, with a much more decisively resolved crisis in 1815. As a result of standing up against the Barbary pirates, the new American nation gained in prestige with many historical firsts for the USN and USMC. The audiobook suffers a bit from Kilmeade’s awkward cadence and odd pronunciation of “Gilbralta”. This story is often overlooked, but was a vital precedent in American history which set the tone for the country going forward. Recommended.