"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pre-Dred, But With Combat Cred



Before we get to the next compelling segment in our on-going series: "What do you do when you have a fleet of instantly-obsolete-warships and the mean kids are starting to snicker?"   I'm going to indulge in a digression:












The M715 Gladiator or "Five-quarter" if you prefer).
What the hell was ever wrong with this thing?
The  Military went nuts and moved to boondoggle land.
It was solid, functional... cheap.
Largely stock!  We could still be using them.
I've railed against the HUMVEE before but, in spite of its obvious boondoggle status,  it did offer at least the saving grace of having replaced the most idiotic vehicle ever produced, The Gamma Goat.
They replaced the stone-age, butt-simple M715 with... something powered by a:
"Super-charged, two-stroke, three cylinder... diesel."
What a great idea! What a great ... bunch of ideas and all of them together.
It's perfect, reliability is dialed-in!
Now that's a tactical vehicle.
What the fuck were they thinking ('They' being Detroit Diesel)?
Anyway the adorably ugly, M715 was only produced for a few years, '67 to '69 but... Cue mass excitement... KIA has been making them right along.
Apparently, this wasn't even a case of Jeep licensing the design.
The South Koreans simply got hold of one back in the late sixties and copied it. It's said that parts are even interchangeable between the two  (Some parts. The KIA's are diesel-powered and have some body alterations to keep Jeep happy).
Alas, they don't offer a civilian version.
More's the pity but the military of everybody and his little brother in the... second-world is happy as a pig in shit with them.
KIA is producing their knock-offs of the old jeeps and deuce-and-a-half's as well.
If only I were a government...

Okay, "Pre-Dred with combat cred";
Sez who? 

Above: the sunken remains of USS Mississippi and USS Idaho.
Pay no attention to the garish tug, foreground.
You'll find the two battle-wagons in the middle-distance and way, way back there.
Look for the twin cage masts.
These two were the first American-built battleships ever to be lost to hostile air attack and - six months before Pearl Harbor at that. 
We'll get to that.
Together they represented the entirety of the "Mississippi class", BB23 and BB24, contracted for in 1904.
Even without HMS Dreadnought showing up with the coolest car in school, the battleship school-of-thought ran to the bigger-is-better doctrine all along.
To illustrate the progression: USS Maine (Remember that one?) weighed one-eighth what the ships at the other end of the continuum did.
Mississippi and Idaho each had a displacement one-fifth that of the Japanese, Yamato Class battleships of just thirty years later.
In fact, by 1905, early in the game, while both of our above pictured, girls were still a-building, the average displacement of a new heavy-cruiser was greater than that of Mississippi or Idaho or most of the rest of these sorry-ass, top-of-the-line (five years ago), obsolete battleships.
Okay, Idaho and Mississippi (The boats - not the states) were virtually identical so here are the stats: 
Displacement: 13,000 tons  
Dimensions: 382' (length overall); 77' (extreme beam)
Powerplant: 10,000 horsepower, triple-expansion reciprocating engines, two propellers, 17 knot maximum speed
 Armament (Main Battery): four 12"/45 guns in two twin turrets; eight 8"/45 guns in four twin turrets (four guns per side); eight 7"/45 guns in single casemate mountings (four guns per side) # Armament (Secondary Battery): Twelve 3"/50 guns in single mountings. 

 The guns were the same, pretty much, as what everybody else had.
The two ships were undersized, underpowered, slow and thus had a limited range.
The result of a brief brain-fart in Navy circles wherein it was thought that more, littler, shittier ships would be better than just a few really big ones.
So, brand-new, right off the showroom floor,  they sailed out into a world that viewed them, and rightfully so, as past their time.
It gets better though. They were both gray-and-underway in the service of America for six years. No flies on that.
Before we get to the combat cred and the happy ending, some shots of the days when life was carefree and golden for a young battleship in the prime of life.
In the photo below, Mississippi, a year old, hasn't yet received her new forward cage mast.
They grow up so fast. Here's Idaho at four.















Aaaaaand now... even though y'all have been so good about waiting through this suspense, I'm only going to give you a hint as to the fate of the girls.
The legend, thoughtfully provided by the Naval Historical Command, is such a jewel of Romneyspeak that it bears repeating - and it also wraps up the whole heart-warming-puppies-get-a-home-at-Christmastime conclusion to our tale.
Quote:
"Greek battleship Kilkis or Lemnos, formerly USS Mississippi or USS Idaho." 

That's the kind of clarity we should demand from our leaders.
So, in July 1914 Mississippi and Idaho (The ships not the states) were sold to Greece.
As per the clipping, something in the air. Global, mad, battleship-building going on, random cruises of Great White Fleets.
Meanwhile the Ottoman Turks, on their way out of relevance and referred to as the "Sick Man of Europe", were intent on Navying-up their trip.
The Greeks had to keep up.
And their purchase worked out really well. Our Nav got rid of two embarrassing under-producers and the Royal Hellenic Navy gained two warships that, in the Aegean, the Ionian, the Sea of Crete or the Mediterranean, weren't so useless after all.
Both Kilkis (Mississippi) and Lemnos (Idaho) did lots of battleship stuff during the Great War, mostly harbor defense.
Immediately after, during the Greco-Turkish war both ships did shore bombardment and later, when Greece finally got waxed by "the sick man", they supported the final withdrawal of Greek forces.
Now that sounds like the resumes of a couple of warships. Both of them sailed for the Greeks up into the thirties.
By then they were quite long-in-the-tooth so, early in that decade, the Lemnos was taken out of service and just parked in port.
Kilkis was still sailing but only as a training ship.
That's their story so let me take pains to point something out: during their period of honorable service for the Royal Hellenic Navy, our girls threw rounds downrange and generally did good work for the Greeks.
I think Greece made a wise purchase.
The tragic end came on April 23, 1941.
German dive-bombers took them out, along with others at Salamis.
A long way from 1904 and William Cramp and Sons, Shipbuilders of Philadelphia.


2 comments:

Andy said...

Great post Dan, and not a single mention of the Utahtards!

S O said...

I don't know about that specific Jeep, but military use of civilian trucks usually has one very serious problem: The military doesn't use its vehicles much in peacetime, nor does it care well for them. Military vehicles are still expected to last for 20, 30 years (few miles, many years).
Civilian trucks are usually designed with short but intense use in mind. They can sustain many thousand miles, but are bad at standing in a vehicle park for years.

Corrosion as well as plastics and rubber seals that turn too brittle after a decade or two are among the typical problems of civilian vehicles in military use.


It would probably still be cheaper to simply buy two COTS vehicles in 30 years than to buy one MilSpec one.

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