New York City Vintage Photographs Part V – Color Photos

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) arrives in New York Harbor to celebrate Navy Day at the end of WWII, 27OCT45. Enterprise was one of three Yorktown-class aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the only one to survive the first year of the war. For a time she was the only U.S. fleet carrier in the Pacific, leading some to comment that it was the Enterprise vs. the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Three Naval Aircraft Factory N3N primary trainers fly over Manhattan in February 1941. The N3N was one of the primary flight trainers in U.S. Navy service, pilots referred to it as the “Canary” or the “Yellow Peril” due to its high-visibility paint scheme. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
A beautiful portrait of the Manhattan skyline taken from Jersey City by Charles Cushman in 1941, showing the ever-present ferry and barge traffic in the harbor. Coupled with the ocean going shipping it was a very busy port.
USS Franklin (CV-13) arrives in New York on 28APR45. On 19MAR45 she was on the other side of the world, just fifty miles off the coast of Japan when she was hit by two 550 pound bombs which engulfed the after portion of the ship in raging fires. Over 800 of her crew were killed, but she managed to steam home under her own power.
A view aft from the Franklin’s island in the East River showing the devastation on the flight deck. The bombs landed among fueled and armed aircraft preparing for a strike, the numerous holes visible in the deck were caused by the planes own bombs detonating in the fire. Franklin was the most severely damaged aircraft carrier to survive. While she was fully repaired, she never went to sea again and was decommissioned on 17FEB47.
The Fletcher-class destroyer USS Renshaw (DD-499) alongside the USS Missouri (BB-63) for Navy Day celebrations, October 1945. Missouri was the site of the Japanese surrender ending WWII on 02SEP45 in Tokyo Bay, having been selected for the honor by President Truman who was from the state of Missouri.
President Truman departs the Missouri aboard the destroyer USS Renshaw. Flying above are formations of Navy aircraft.
The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) commissioning at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, 28OCT45, dwarfed by the monstrous hammerhead crane. In the background the USS Franklin (CV-13) is undergoing repair.
USS West Point (AP-23) enters New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the background, returning U.S. troops from Europe in July 1945. She was the former liner SS America, converted into a troopship for the war. She set a record for the largest total of troops transported during the war at 350,000.
NYC_50_color French ocean liner SS Normandie (USS Lafayette) lies capsized
Salvage operations on the USS Lafayette, the former French liner Normandie which sank at her moorings after a fire at Pier 88. Although she was refloated, she never returned to service.

New York City Vintage Photographs Part IV

A Douglas DC-3 of The Great Silver Fleet over Manhattan before the war. The DC-3 is a classic design, adapted as the primary air transport type of the U.S. and Allied services under a wide variety of designations. Many still fly today.
A fireboat welcomes the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) to New York Harbor in 1958. Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, and the first submarine to travel submerged to the North Pole under the arctic ice sheet.
Another submarine from a different era, USS Plunger (SS-2) underway off the Brooklyn Naval Yard. In September 1905 Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to submerge in a submarine aboard Plunger. In 1909 she was commanded by Ensign Chester Nimitz, who would rise to the rank of Fleet Admiral in the Second World War.
A Y1B-17 flies over New York with Manhattan in the background. The US Army Air Corps almost did not order Boeing’s B-17 into production, some officers favoring the less expensive and less radical Douglas B-18 Bolo instead.
A beautiful photograph of the ill-fated French liner SS Normandy entering New York Harbor with the Manhattan skyline in the background. This view would be seen by thousands of U.S. soldiers and sailors leaving for and returning from the war in Europe.
A NYC police officer directs traffic as a US Army M-7 Priest self-propelled howitzer navigates an intersection. The M-7 received its nickname because of the round “pulpit” with machine gun for the vehicle commander.
The USS Saratoga (CV-60) seen leaving New York Harbor. The automobiles on the flight deck indicate she is transiting to a new home port, the crew being allowed to take their cars with them as deck cargo.
The crew musters on the deck of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) for her commissioning ceremony on Navy Day, 27OCT45. She was the second of three Midway class aircraft carriers, which were half again as big as the previous Essex class carriers but too late to see action in WWII.
The Iowa class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) silhouetted against the Manhattan skyline. Missouri was the site of the formal Japanese surrender which ended the Second World War on 02SEP45.
The Douglas DC-4E prototype over Manhattan. This aircraft was evaluated by United Airlines during 1938-39. The design was later refined with a shorter wingspan and more conventional tail as the DC-4, and was adopted by the USAAF as the C-54 transport. Japanese Airways bought the DC-4E prototype, which was reverse-engineered by Nakajima as the unsuccessful G5N “Liz” bomber.

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Color Photographs Part III

A beautiful photograph of Kingfishers in the “three tone” graded camouflage. The barred insignia with blue outline was in use from August 1943 through the end of the war. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
A Kingfisher aboard the portside catapult on the fantail of the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) during her work-ups in the Atlantic, August 1944. The crew appears to be conducting an abandon ship drill. Note the main float of the OS2U is painted Intermediate Blue while the wingtip floats are in Sea Blue.
Another Kingfisher aboard Missouri’s catapult, this example has the individual aircraft number 6 painted on the tip of the float. Missouri’s decks do not yet have their camouflage stain applied.
An excellent view of Missouri’s crane as a Kingfisher is recovered. The gun director tub for the portside 40 mm mount on the fantail is painted with the number “16”.
A Kingfisher is launched from Missouri’s starboard catapult. The catapults could be trained through a wide arc (even across the deck) in order to optimize the wind for launch. The Officer of the Deck was required to calculate the true wind and then determine the proper ship’s course and speed to optimize the relative wind for launching the aircraft.
At the end of the mission the aircraft is hoisted back aboard. Crewmen use steadying lines to keep the aircraft from rotating as it is suspended from the crane.
A well-worn Kingfisher is being rigged to the hoist for recovery. This evolution would present an obvious hazard to the aircrew in rough weather. Note that the wingtips and tail surfaces are painted in a lighter shade of blue, perhaps Blue Gray replacements?
An OS2U approaching the recovery sled towed behind the recovery ship. A hook on the underside of the Kingfisher’s float engaged netting on the sled, allowing crewmen aboard the ship to wench the aircraft into the optimum position for hooking up with the crane.  Practice bomb dispensers are under each wing. 
With the hoist secured the aircraft is ready to be brought back aboard. The sailor in the center of the photograph is maneuvering a boom into position to help steady the aircraft and prevent it from swinging.
A Kingfisher at the moment of launch in early-war markings. Note the position of the observer in the rear cockpit as he braces against the acceleration of the catapult.
A forlorn sight repeated around the world at the end of WWII. Among the types relegated to this boneyard are several surplus Kingfishers, their services no longer needed. Within the next five years advances in jet engine and helicopter technology would render the majority of even the most advanced WWII era aircraft designs obsolete in their intended roles.

New York City Vintage Photographs Part II

Pilot Howard Hughes and navigator Thomas Thurlow in their Lockheed Model 14-N2 Super Electra over New York City in 1938. They were in the process of setting the world’s record for circumnavigating the globe with a time of 91 hours. Thurlow was a USAAC officer on loan to operate a “robot navigator”, an experimental device used to plot the aircraft’s position.
The Pan American Airways “American Clipper” over New York in 1931. She was one of three Sikorsky S-40 amphibians and could carry a total of thirty-eight passengers.
The USS Santa Ana was a passenger ship taken over by the US Navy and used as a troop transport in the First World War. Here she is seen entering port in NYC in 1919, one of four trips she completed bringing US Army troops home from France at the end of the war.
October 27, 1945 was Navy Day in New York City. Forty-seven US Navy ships anchored in the Hudson River while over 1,200 Naval aircraft passed overhead. The fleet was reviewed by President Truman, and included the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) where the Japanese had signed the instrument of surrender almost two months before. At the bottom of the photograph is the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6), the only carrier to fight through the entire Pacific War and survive.
US Army Air Corps Keystone bombers pass over the passenger liner piers in an impressive display of airpower for the early 1930’s. The Keystones were ultimately replaced by the Martin B-10 but were the largest US Army Air Corps bombers for their time.
After World War Two the era of safe and reliable commercial air travel had arrived. One of the mainstays was the Douglas DC-6, 704 were built between 1946 and 1958. Here an American Airlines DC-6 is seen over Manhattan.
The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) was a Midway-class aircraft carrier. Commissioned on Navy Day, 27OCT45 at the New York Naval Shipyard she was too late to see service in WWII. Here she is seen moving down the East River.
Historisk bilde av Manhattan sett fra lufta
A Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro poses for the camera over Manhattan. Autogyros generate lift with a rotating wing. While they cannot take off vertically like a helicopter, they are capable of taking off in very short distances.
The US Navy rigid airship USS Akron (ZRS-4) over Manhattan in the early 1930s. The Akron was designed to act as a scout for the battlefleet and could carry up to three F9C Sparrowhawk fighters in internal hanger bays. She would be lost in a storm off the coast of New Jersey on 04APR33.
The Akron’s sistership USS Macon (ZRS-5) has her turn at a publicity photo over Manhattan in 1933. She was lost off the coast of California on 12FEB35, the result of structural failure. Macon had a slightly different structure and could carry up to five Sparrowhawks, four internally.

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Pacific Theater Camouflage And Markings

The Vought OS2U Kingfisher was a light observation and scouting floatplane which was produced for the US Navy during WWII.  It was the primary shipboard aircraft carried by USN battleships and several cruisers, mainly used for scouting, gunfire spotting, rescue, and patrol duties.  It was powered by a 450 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior radial engine which gave it a modest maximum speed of 164 mph.  Armament consisted of a fixed .30 caliber machine gun firing forward between the engine cylinders and another on a flexible mount for the observer.  It supplanted, but never quite replaced, the Curtiss SOC Seagull and was itself being supplanted by the Curtiss SC Seahawk during the last year of the war.

There is a chronology to US Navy aircraft markings in WWII.  Once understood, the markings carried by the aircraft can usually be used to establish the general time period of the subject.  This is a small detail which can sometimes escape ship modelers.  A meticulously researched ship camouflage can be betrayed by modeling embarked aircraft in markings from another time, or even mixing several types of national insignia on the same model.  There were exceptions to be sure, but typically marking directives were followed and quickly adopted by fleet units, although various commands sometimes issued conflicting instructions which could result in marking differences within the same unit.

During the 1930’s US aircraft were painted in a high-visibility scheme collectively referred to as “Yellow Wings”.  At the end of the decade US Navy aircraft wing uppersurfaces were painted Orange Yellow 614 (often called Chrome Yellow, an automotive paint) with Aluminum Dope on other surfaces.  Vertical tail surfaces were color coded to denote ship assignment, and nose and fuselage bands designated sections within a squadron.  National markings consist of a white star with a red center on a blue field, carried on both upper and lower wing surfaces.  Here is an OS2U-1 with landing gear substituted for the floats over San Pedro.  Fuselage codes indicate it is the 7th aircraft of Observation Squadron 1 assigned to the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38).  This scheme was standard until the end of 1940.
With war spreading throughout the globe, the high-visibility markings were seen as a liability and the Yellow Wing era came to a close.  On 30DEC40 BuAir issued a directive that all Fleet aircraft were to be camouflaged.  Ship-based aircraft types were to be painted in nonspecular light gray overall, patrol aircraft were to carry light gray undersurfaces and blue gray uppersurfaces.  On 26FEB41 BuAir specified that national insignia were to be carried in four locations – upper port wing, under starboard wing, and both sides of the fuselage.  Here is a Kingfisher in the overall light gray scheme preparing to launch from a battleship catapult.  Note the large size of the wing insignia. (LIFE photograph)
The overall light gray camouflage for shipboard aircraft was short-lived, officially lasting only from 30DEC40 to 20AUG41 when Commander Aircraft, Battle Force issued a directive that upper surfaces were to be painted blue gray.  Here is a Kingfisher recovering alongside the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) off Hawaii in SEP41 carrying this camouflage.  Modelers note that these are the same markings which would be present during the Pearl Harbor attack on 07DEC41. 
As a result of several friendly fire incidents during and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on 23DEC41 CinC Pacific issued a directive that all US aircraft in the Hawaiian area were to carry national markings in six locations (upper and lower surfaces of both wings, both sides of the fuselage) and red and white tail stripes on the rudder.  By early January various other commands had followed suit, and size guidance was also included with a trend to larger insignia.  Here is a beautiful color shot of a Kingfisher showing the specified markings in effect from 23DEC41 to 06MAY42.  (LIFE photograph)
Several Kingfishers are spotted on the deck of the seaplane tender USS Albemarle (AV-5).  Note the differences in the size and location of the wing insignia, reflecting the variations between the directives of various commands at the time.  Interestingly, the photograph is dated 14MAY42.  If that date is correct, the red centers to the national insignia and the tail stripes were already directed to have been painted out when this picture was taken.  (World War Photos)
To eliminate any confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru, the red centers of the US national insignia were ordered to be removed by ALNAV97 on 06MAY42.  Rudder stripes were also painted out at this time, preferably with blue gray to match the upper surface camouflage, but many units made do with whatever paint was available.  Here is a nice overhead shot of a Kingfisher on the water at NAS Jacksonville in early 1943.  The wing stripes are unusual, likely an aid to formation flying.
There were several variations in the size and location of the insignia, modelers are well advised to seek photographs of the specific subjects they wish to portray whenever possible.  The maximum size could range from the leading edge of the wing to the beginning of the aileron, as illustrated by this Kingfisher being towed ashore at Funafuti sometime in early 1943.  (World War Photos)
1943 was a confusing year for US Navy aircraft markings, with many changes being made and some only partially adopted in the field.  Effective 01FEB43, SR-2c directed that naval aircraft revert back to four national insignia, upper port wing, under starboard wing, and both fuselage sides.  Photographic evidence suggests that many field units did not eliminate the extra wing insignia.  On 28JUN43 ALNAV 12 directed that the national insignia be modified to incorporate a white bar on either side of the star, and the entire insignia was to be outlined in red.  This directive generated considerable opposition in the Pacific Theater, commanders fearing any red might lead to confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru.  On 31JUL43 Third Fleet issued a directive for its subordinate units NOT to outline the national insignia in red, and AN-I-9b of 14AUG43 made the change official by changing the outline color to Insignia Blue.  Here is a Kingfisher on the ramp in the Aleutians, her markings reflecting the confusion.  The white bars and red outline are in place indicating the date is likely sometime between 28JUN43 and 14AUG43, but she still carries national insignia in six positions.  The white stripes on the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces are an Aleutian theater marking.
A major camouflage change came about when SR-2c of 05JAN43 introduced a graded scheme consisting of Non-Specular Sea Blue, Semi-Gloss Sea Blue, and Intermediate Blue over white.  This began showing up at the front in the summer of 1943 and was in effect until the scheme was changed to glossy Sea Blue overall, effective 07OCT44.  Here is a Kingfisher on the port catapult of the USS Missouri (BB-63) in the graded scheme.  Her crew is mustering as part of an abandon ship drill during her shakedown cruise in AUG44.

16″/50 Main Battery Gun Shoots, USS Missouri (BB-63)

USS Missouri (BB-63) firing the center guns of Turrets 1 & 2 during WWII. The 16″ guns on the Iowa class battleships could be elevated and fired independently, as this photograph illustrates.  The propellant charge required to fire each projectile was 660 pounds.
Another photograph from WWII, this time a salvo from Turret 1. The effect of the heat and the blast on the water has lead to the myth that the recoil of the guns firing would push the ship sideways through the water.
A firepower demonstration conducted for the Australian press while off Sydney in October 1986. This was actually a fifteen-gun broadside, nine 16″/50 guns and six 5″/38s, although the firing of the 5″ guns is not noticeable in the photograph.
A detail of the photograph above, showing two 16″ projectiles in flight. The initial velocity of a 1,900 pound high capacity round was 2,690 feet per second, or Mach 2.45.  While elusive, they could be seen and photographed if one knew where to look and the timing was right.
Another view of the Sydney broadside, this time from the fo’c’sle. This proved a popular vantage point for photographers as the heat and overpressure from the gun firings was tolerable there.
More projectiles in flight, this time fired from Turret 3 with the photographer on the fantail.  Double hearing protection was required for those observing a main battery firing topside.
An overhead view of a broadside. The blast effect on the water is clearly distinguishable, note that there is no lateral “wake” at the bow or stern, only under the fireballs.  The four Iowa class battleships all carried different patterns of non-skid and teak on their fantails, Missouri had the largest area of non-skid of the four sisters.
Another projectile in flight, this picture was taken during the RIMPAC exercise in 1990.
A black and white picture of Missouri firing NGFS off Korea. During gun shoots the bridge windows were rolled down to prevent the blast from breaking the glass.  Bridge watchstanders quickly learned to duck upon hearing the salvo alarm!