Herald, Washington, March 22.—In view of Japan’s rejection of the 14-in. limitation, the Navy high command has decided to mount 16-in. guns on the twin 35,000-ton battleships to be laid down this summer, officers disclosed last night.
Japan’s rejection of a British proposal to adhere to the 14-in. clause in the 1936 London naval treaty was announced by the official Japanese news agency yesterday. Officers said the development caused them “no surprise.”
Despite inspired denials in the Japanese press, reports persist in Washington naval circles, that the 1937 Japanese naval program calls for one or two 45,000-ton “floating fortresses” mounting 18-in. rifles.
Japan had until April 1 to announce her intentions regarding the 14-in. weapon. Information here was that the rejection was based on the Tokyo Admiralty’s belief that the limitation was “not in the interest of peace.”
In anticipation of that attitude, the Bureau of Construction had prepared specifications on hulls for 16-in. guns to be available to shipyards March 30.
Officers said the guns will probably be mounted on three turrets, two forward and one aft. The Projectiles are expected to be able to pierce 2 feet of enemy armor plate at a range of 16 miles.
Of the American Navy’s 15 battleships, only the Colorado, West Virginia, and Maryland carry 16-in. rifles.
Two of Japan’s 9 battleships carry 16-in. guns, 7 have the 14-in. size. Britain has 2 mounting 16-in. and 13 carrying 15-in. guns.
Star, Washington, March 14.—Stiffening of the examinations of Naval Reserve officers for promotion in the commissioned grades is indicated by the Navy Department as a result of consultations between representatives of the Examining Board and the Bureau of Navigation of the Navy Department. It was indicated in the recommendations made as a result of the conference as adopted, that the tests to be taken by the Reserve officers will be comparable to those of the regular establishment, so far as practicable.
As the Reserve officers, in the event of call to active service in time of emergency, must perform their duties with the same diligence as regular officers, it is believed it is the purpose of the department to assure itself Reserve officers can be depended upon to do this by taking the same tests as regular officers.
It was recommended by the conferees that questions for line candidates for promotion to commander and captain be confined to the subjects of general instructions, training, and inspection, organization and administration and recruiting and administration, or in the cases of engineering duty only, tests on recruiting and administration be omitted and tests on marine engineering and electricity be substituted.
For grades below that of commander, it was recommended the scope of examinations for officers of the regular establishment be followed. They also recommended in the case of engineering officers who are candidates for promotion to commander and captain they be asked essentially the same type of questions in marine engineering and electricity for both grades. When the proposed changes are approved they will be included in the manual of examinations.
Because of the addition to the Reserve of large numbers of college graduates, it is not expected that the changes, if made, will hamper the efforts of the Navy to keep its Reserve personnel up to the full complement now permitted by the appropriations. As a matter of fact, there are now in the Reserve many officers who were trained at Annapolis and were graduated. Some of them left the service because of more opportunities in civil life, while some were forced out because of the reduction of the Navy during the beginning of the depression period. However, these officers, or at least many of them, retained their connection with the Navy by accepting commissions in the reserve establishment, and the Navy considers them as valuable assets in the growth and efficiency in this branch of the service.
Because of this proposed stiffening of the examination, reserve officers will have to spend considerable private time in keeping up with the progress in the naval establishment in all its branches, as the drill period requires all of their time for the training of enlisted personnel. There is little time for them to study during this period.
Sun, Baltimore, March 21.—Rear Admiral Harold G. Bowen, U. S. Navy, chief of the Bureau of Engineering disclosed today the development of a new high-pressure boiler, to give American battleships a more deadly striking power, greater speed or more armor.
The boilers are the product of the naval experiment station at Annapolis, Admiral Bowen said, developed in the course of experimental work to improve the motive power and decrease the machinery weight in battleships.
The new German Navy has concentrated on developing high-pressure and high-temperature boilers in its new ship construction and other sea powers are experimenting along the same lines.
“With the new boilers and turbines designed,” Admiral Bowen said, “we estimate we can save 400 tons in weight in the construction in battleships.”
That 400 tons could be used either to give the ship a knot and a half more speed at high powers, or to add another 14-in. gun, or to increase the armor of the ship.
The two new battleships to be started in June are limited by treaty to 35,000 tons, thus every pound saved in construction may be utilized for installing additional equipment or armament.
Admiral Bowen also disclosed that the Navy has been concentrating on other methods to save valuable tonnage in construction of new ships.
One method has been through reducing the weight of electrical installations, which comprise 15 per cent of the total machinery weight in a battleship.
By saving weight the Navy has been able to step up the speed of the new battleships to between 26 and 27 knots, to increase armor for protection against submarines, mines and airplane bombs, and add new devices for increased efficiency.
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The Navy’s last “time ball,” old-fashioned aid to mariners, is about to drop for the last time.
Time balls, located atop poles on high buildings in seaports, were used to signal the correct time to ships in port. Promptly at noon the ball would drop, and watching mariners would set their chronometers.
But radio time signals have largely supplanted the devices, and recently Captain Lamar R. Leahy, the Navy’s hydrographer, revealed that he had requested a survey to determine whether San Francisco’s ball, the only one still in operation, is serving any useful purpose. He strongly hinted that it will be scrapped.
“It costs the Navy $200 a year to maintain the ball atop the flagpole on the Hotel Fairmont, on San Francisco’s Knob Hill,” Captain Leahy explained. He believes the device, which once signaled noon to clippers from the China coast, is chiefly used now by a few old-time San Franciscans to set their alarm clocks.—Star, Wash.
Four new U. S. Navy destroyers have returned here with damages, including cracked plates, from unusually rough weather met in “shake-down” cruises, naval officials disclosed yesterday. Although it is not determined whether faulty construction is wholly or partly responsible, they denied a statement made Monday by Harry B. Ahrens, Kings County (Brooklyn) commander of the American Legion, that 3 of the vessels would have to be reconditioned at a cost of $2,500,000 because of faulty construction.
Some structural changes will be made in the destroyers Mahan, Reid, and Cummings, it was explained, because they were found advisable as a result of earlier “shake-down” of the Flusser, which is a new destroyer of the same class. Naval officers familiar with the destroyers estimate the changes will cost not more than $100,000. It was pointed out by naval authorities that “shakedown” cruises aim purposely to bring out structural defects.
The Mahan and Cummings, both launched in 1935, were constructed by the United Dry Docks Co. at New York. The Reid launched in January of 1936, and the Flusser, launched in 1935, were built in the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. yards at Kearny, N. J.—Star, Wash. New York, March 31.
The Navy Appropriation Bill carrying $526555,428 for the fiscal year 1937-38 was passed by the House of Representatives today after successfully weathering a minor storm of amendments, chief of which was the unexpected proposal that President Roosevelt be “authorized and requested” to call an international disarmament conference.
As it goes to the Senate the measure provides or an increase of 5,000 in the Navy’s enlisted personnel and appropriates $130,000,000 for construction on two new 35,000-ton battleships, 11 cruisers, 48 destroyers, and 17 submarines. The bill also carries $29,186,000 for an airplane construction program designed to put 397 new navy airplanes in commission a year from June 30 Herald Tribune, N. Y. Washington, March 5.
The Appropriations Committee in reporting , the 1938 Navy Appropriation Bill to the House today questioned the wisdom of continuing with four Congressional appointments to the Naval Academy, and suggested the need for further legislative consideration of the Navy’s line officer situation.
The committee turned down the proposal for construction of two wings to Bancroft Hall at a cost of $1,000,000. The 1937 budget carried an item of $750,000 for this work, but Rear Admiral Norman H. Smith explained during hearings on the bill that estimates of the cost of the proposed work had increased $250,000 since last year.— Sun, Baltimore. Washington, March 2.
The Navy Department today announced that bids for two new 35,000-ton battleships, costing 60 million dollars each, will not be opened until the first week in June. Original plans had called for bids to be opened Monday and to have keels of the new ships laid by June.
The delay is blamed on various problems entering into the drawing of designs and specifications, taking into account the latest advances in science. -- Tribune, Chicago. Washington, D. C., March 13. [Special.]
In the presence of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison and a group of high naval officials, the new 1,850-ton United States destroyer Somers was launched at the Federal shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. yards here today.
A crowd of 1,000 spectators watched the sleek new vessel, designed for use as a squadron leader, slide down the ways.
In a brief address, Edison declared “the United states has never encouraged war but never failed in its efforts to restore peace.” The best insurance tor peace, he said, is a Navy “second to none.”— Herald., Wash. Kearney, N. J., March 13. (I.N.S.)
The United States will send the battleship Hew York to participate in an international naval review May 18 off Spithead, England, in connection with the coronation of King George VI of England, it was announced today. The British government invited the United States and other nations to participate in the review. The New York was the flagship of the American squadron which operated with the British fleet during the World War.—Tribune, Chicago. Washington, D. C., March 13.—[U.P.]
The cruiser Louisville, which yesterday at 12:16 p.m. rescued 8 passengers from the burning British motor ship Silverlarch, was scheduled to arrive in Honolulu at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, Naval Intelligence authorities reported yesterday.— Honolulu Advertiser, March 14.
The 3d Fleet Division of the United States Naval Reserves in the District of Columbia excelled all of the other divisions of the local unit in target practice on the annual destroyer cruise last summer, it was made known at the local armory at the navy yard last week. The report on the results of the firing had just been received.
While the actual scores are held confidential by the Navy Department and the Reservists, it was said the 3d Division, commanded by Lieut. F. S. Kirk, made exceptionally fine marks and is reported to be definitely near the top of the list among the Reserve gunnery crews of the country. —Star, Wash. March 14.
The Coast Guard acted today to see that whalers play fair with whales. It assigned Lieutenant James D. Craik to sail aboard the American whaler Frango, now in Norway preparing for a hunt in the Antarctic. An international treaty limiting the slaughter of whales requires that a Coast Guard or customs officer shall accompany each whaling vessel to make sure that regulations are observed.—Tribune, Chicago. Washington, D. C., March 13.
Times, London, March 4.—The Navy estimates for 1937, issued yesterday, amount to £105,065,000, an increase of £23,776,000 over the total navy estimates for 1936, including supplementary estimates. Of the total for this year, £27,000,000 will be provided by issues from the Consolidated Fund, subject to statutory authority being obtained in accordance with the terms of the Defence Loans Bill now before Parliament, and the net total is, therefore, shown in the estimates as £78,065,000. This provision is based on the policy laid down in the White Papers of March 3, 1936, and February 16, 1937, and, in the words of the First Lord’s statement accompanying the estimates, “the increased program of new construction and acceleration of shipbuilding forecast therein are fully reflected in the enhanced supply for which I am asking.”
The largest increase is in the provision for new construction and amounts to £14,033,215. This increase is due not only to the commencement of a larger building program than that of 1936, but also to a full annual provision for the 1936 program. The other main increase is that of £9,081,985 for maintenance of the fleet, including modernization of capital ships and large repairs, increase in personnel, and the making good of deficiencies in stores and material reserves. There is an increase of £516,500 for additional aircraft (other than for new construction) and maintenance of the Fleet Air Arm. The estimates carry a personnel of 112,895, an increase of nearly 11,000 due to the program of new construction.
The new construction program for 1937 includes, in addition to a number of small miscellaneous vessels:
3 Battleships (King George V type)
2 Aircraft carriers
5 Cruisers (about 8,000 tons)
2 Cruisers (about 5,300 tons)
16 Destroyers (repeat “J” type)
7 Submarines (patrol type)
3 Escort vessels (previously known as “Convoy Sloops”), one being for surveying duties
4 Mine sweepers (previously known as “sloop Mine sweepers”)
3 Patrol vessels (previously known as “Coastal Sloops”)
In the principal categories this program is larger than that of 1936 by one capital ship and smaller by one destroyer and one submarine. The First Lord points out in his statement that as the Washington and London (1930) naval treaties expired on December 31, 1936, there is no longer any quantitative limitation on naval construction in any category of warships, but that, pending ratification of the London naval treaty, 1936, the qualitative limitations contained therein are being observed in the construction of ships now laid down or projected.
United Services Review, February 23.— The new measures announced by the Admiralty to accelerate the supply of officers for Britain’s bigger Navy will mean a shortening of training, but fundamentally it will remain unchanged. The training of a naval officer must begin when he is little more than a child, and from then onward there is instilled into him unceasingly the traditions upon which the fabric of the naval spirit is woven. This training has created an outstanding type which is recognizable the world over.
At the age of 13½ the naval officer of the future sits for his examination and an interview by an Admiralty board of examiners. If he passes both tests he enters the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, at the beginning of the spring, summer, or autumn terms. These cadets are organized in “terms,” 11 in number, which to distinguish them are given the names of famous seamen, such as “Anson,” “Hood,” or “Rodney.” This term label clings to him for the rest of his naval life. When he meets “Old So-and-So” in after years you are told, as an excuse for the boyish enthusiasm of the greeting, “He was in my term at Dartmouth.”
At the end of his eleventh term, at the age of 17, he sits for his passing out examination. If he scores high marks he can gain as much as 4 months’ seniority. He is now a seagoing cadet and after 4 months, instead of 8 under the old scheme, in a special training cruiser (at the present moment it is H.M.S. Frobisher) he is promoted to midshipman. He will have as extra messmates boys from the public schools who wish to take up the Navy as a career and join as special entry cadets direct from school at the age of about 17½. He then goes to a ship in the fleet. At the end of his second year at sea, during which time he has received instruction in navigation, gunnery, torpedo, and general seamanship, he is promoted to sub-lieutenant, provided he has passed his examination in seamanship.
Under the new scheme there will be a substantial change in training at this stage. Formerly at the age of 20 the midshipman was sent to the R.N. College, Greenwich, to begin the first part of his sub-lieutenant’s courses. Beginning in September, 1937, this is to be abolished for all acting sub-lieutenants except the very few promoted from the lower deck. This will mean that sub-lieutenants will go to sea roughly a year earlier. Before going to sea, however, he must go to Portsmouth for instruction in certain special subjects. Gunnery is taught at Whale Island, the naval gunnery establishment at the top of Portsmouth Harbor; navigation in the Navigation School in the Dockyard; torpedoes in H .M .S Vernon, formerly a “wooden wall,” but now a series of modern workshops and barracks on Portsmouth Gunwharf; and the duties of a divisional officer at the Royal Naval Barracks.
He is examined in these subjects. Marks are awarded for proficiency in passing, and a “first-class” award in each allows him to do a minimum time of sixteen months as sub-lieutenant, and he receives promotion to the rank of lieutenant at the age of 22. The average age is 23. After this the young officer is appointed to a seagoing ship, for he cannot be confirmed in his rank of lieutenant until he has obtained his watch-keeping certificate.
After 8 years as a lieutenant an officer is promoted to lieutenant commander. After 3½ years in this rank he comes into the pro motion zone to commander. This is entirely by Admiralty selection, and as the number of commanders is small in proportion to lieutenant commanders this is a critical stage in the naval officer’s career. Formerly an officer who was not promoted to commander at the age of 36 passed out of the zone. Nowadays, thanks to new regulations, officers still stand a good chance of promotion at the age of 37½. Many of the great figures in present-day naval history were non-specialists; Beatty was one. But the converse is also true; Jellicoe was a gunnery specialist. Nowadays, with a rapidly-expanding Navy, there is a chance for every one, specialist or “salt horse,” to reach high rank and command.
Speeding ahead with its armament program, the British Admiralty tonight announced naval contracts exceeding $52,500,000 had been let during the week-end. The orders are for one 23,000-ton aircraft carrier, five 5,300-ton cruisers, one patrol vessel, and two sets of machinery for cruisers.
The 5 cruisers belong to the 1936 program, but 2 others which are to be laid down at Chatham and Portsmouth, and for which the machinery is to be supplied under the contract, are part of the 1937 program, to which the aircraft carrier also belongs.
Awarding of the contracts for the new ships so soon after the navy estimates were introduced in Parliament is unprecedented, Admiralty circles declare, and indicate clearly the speed with which the British naval rearmament plan is being pushed ahead.
Contracts for 3 battleships under the 1937 program, costing 40 million dollars each, will be placed shortly. Other vessels still to be ordered under the 1937 program include: 1 aircraft carrier, 5 cruisers, 24 destroyers, 7 submarines, 10 vessels of the former sloop type, 1 destroyer depot ship, 1 submarine depot ship, and 33 smaller vessels.
Naval construction now under way in British yards exceeds anything since the war and will be increased steadily until, by the end of the year, 148 ships will have been built.—Star, Wash. London, March 22.
Co-operation between the services, aircraft carriers, and the work of the Fleet Air Arm are all mentioned in the explanatory statement by the First Lord of the Admiralty, which was issued with the navy estimates on March 3.
The new construction program for 1937 includes two aircraft carriers. Of the 1934 program the Ark Royal will be launched in April next. Of the 1936 program the Illustrious and the Victorious were ordered on January 13, 1937. Because of many calls on the Navy due to unforeseen international developments, the number of exercises carried out in conjunction with the Military and Air Forces has been less than in former years, but combined operations, which have included the landing of troops, have been carried out at home and abroad. The usual exercises between the Staff Colleges of the three services have taken place. When units have been available opportunity has been taken for certain squadrons of the R.A.F. to practice locating and attacking ships at sea.
Four aircraft carriers have been in commission: the Glorious with the Mediterranean Fleet, the Courageous and Furious with the Home Fleet, and the Hermes in Far Eastern waters. The Eagle is now in commission and is about to relieve the Hermes.
To meet the expansion of the Fleet Air Arm, the Hermes on her return from China will be refitted and attached to the Home Fleet.—The Aeroplane.
Warships of 4 great naval powers steamed about the Spanish coast today as first concrete evidence of joint international efforts to isolate the Iberian peninsula’s civil war.
The sea patrol, officially started last midnight, was composed of men-of-war from France, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy.—Star, Wash. London, March
The offer of the Admiralty to officers of the Royal Naval Reserve to transfer to the Royal Navy has not been received with any great enthusiasm among the class to which it is addressed, the smart young officers of the crack lines. It is true that it will mean the transfer to a service on which most of them are very enthusiastic, with good pay which is rather better than they will be receiving from their companies when they make the transfer. The pension of £250 per annum at the age of 45 is also attractive, for few if any of the liner companies offer anything of that sort.
But the ambitious young liner officer looks forward to commanding his own ship and reaching the top of the tree as captain in the Cunard, White Star, P. & O., or similar company. The definite announcement that the officers making the transfer will only be promoted to the rank of commander in exceptional circumstances, and never above that rank, is the point which is deterring most of the best type. It is unavoidable, for the Navy already has far more commanders and captains than it knows what to do with, but it is easy to understand what a damper it is to the ambition of a keen sailor who has no desire to regard his career as finished at the age of 45, even if there is a comfortable pension attached to it.—Nautical Gazette.
A serious admission of the vulnerability of oil tanks at the Singapore base has been made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Samuel Hoare. In answer to Mr. George Lambert (South Molton), Sir Samuel admitted that the oil-fuel tanks installed at the Singapore base were above ground and were therefore subject to destruction by airplane attack. Active and passive defense against air attack was being closely investigated.
Mr. Lambert: Would not damage to or destruction of these oil tanks absolutely paralyze our ships at Singapore?
Sir Samuel Hoare: I can assure that we are looking very urgently into the question of the underground storage of oil.
In view of the millions of pounds which are being spent on Singapore, M.P.’s were left wondering why the urgency of underground storage was not realized and provided for in the first place.— United Services Review.
Engineer John Taylor, R. N., the oldest surviving naval officer on the retired list, is 100 years old today. He was born on March 2, 1837, nearly 3 months before the accession of Queen Victoria. There is apparently only one other surviving naval officer who was born in the reign of William IV, and that is Staff-Surgeon Samuel Grose, R.N., Retired, born on May 3, 1837.
The rank of engineer was renamed engineer lieutenant in 1902. Mr. Taylor, who lives at Bolton, Yorks, entered the Navy as an assistant engineer on May 9, 1861, and was promoted to engineer on November 11, 1867. Among his ships was the Cameleon, sloop, in which he served in the Pacific from 1871 to 1875; the screw frigate Endymion, Coast Guard ship in the Humber; and (from 1877 to 1881) the Thunderer, screw iron turret ship, in the Mediterranean, of which Lord Charles Beresford was commander. Mr. Taylor retired for age on March 25, 1882, and has thus drawn his pension for 55 years.—Times, London, March 2.
Lady Jeleicoe, wife of the late Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe, will perform the naming ceremony at the launch today of H.M.S. Impulsive at the shipyard of J. Samuel White and Co., Ltd., Cowes. The launch is due at 1:20 p.m.
The Impulsive is the last of the 8 destroyers of the Intrepid, class to be put afloat. Authorized in the 1935 program, and ordered in October of that year, they should enter the service between May and July next, and are to join the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean, at present composed of vessels of the Acasta class, completed in 1930. The Impulsive is the first ship of the Royal Navy to bear this name.—Times, London, March 1.
Sir Samuel Hoare, First Lord of the Admiralty, in reply to a question by Mr. Banfield in the House of Commons on February 17, said at up to the present 12 sub-lieutenants of the Royal Navy have begun training as Fleet Air Arm pilots before getting their watch-keeping certificates.
Replying to Vice Admiral Taylor, he said that these sub-lieutenants will be promoted to the acting rank of lieutenant when they have become qualified by service and confirmed on obtaining their watch-keeping certificates. They will get these certificates while afloat in the Fleet Air Arm-The Aeroplane.
Although established for some months, has just become known that the British Lord Chamberlain Stafford has created an establishment under his direction with the private British Broadcasting Co. In a public address the company’s director intimated that the government is engaged with plans concerning how the radio broadcast can best be utilized in time of war. Accordingly, in a recently concluded agreement between the post-office department and the broadcasting company the government is empowered to take over the control of broadcasting in the event of war and utilize it for governmental purposes and aircraft warning. The building of extensive stations underground and in bomb and gas proof shelters has also been considered.—Tidskrift Vovdsendet.
The most extensive land, sea, and air maneuvers ever held by the British forces at Hongkong, lasting 6 days, were concluded March 21. A comminque said the defenses were found adequate although the attacking forces, which included 1,000 British troops from Singapore, outnumbered the defenders.
The maneuvers were considered significant because of the recent decision to strengthen the defenses of Hongkong, including the building of roadways capable of transporting guns and troops to all parts of the hilly island, and it is believed the garrison also will be strengthened.—Times, N.Y.
The tremendous value of aviation in enhancing both the offensive and defensive power of fleets was described by Marine Minister Alfonse Gasnier-Duparc today as one of the chief lessons being taught by the annual mid-winter maneuvers of the French navy now in progress off the West African coast.
In an interview with the naval correspondent of the Petit Parisien, Mr. Gasnier-Duparc said that three large amphibians of the Croix du Sud type, as well as a large number of smaller aircraft attached to capital ships and aircraft carriers, are taking part in all the current fleet exercises. Aviation, he declared, will play a dominant r61e in any future naval war.
The Marine Minister said notably that the West African maneuvers, though still unfinished, have already proved that aviation can no longer be regarded as a mere auxiliary of the fleet but has become a necessary and integral part of it. Provided the air force is strictly incorporated into the navy, he said, it tremendously increases fighting power.—Japan Advertiser. Paris, February 15.
In the event of war, possibly even before, the French army, navy, and air force will be unified under one commander, the military committee of the Chamber of Deputies decided today. It approved a recommendation creating a war committee, headed by the Premier and consisting of high defense ministers and the chiefs of staff, to pick a general commander at the start of a new war or, if considered necessary, during peace.— Herald Tribune, N. Y. Paris, March 3 (AP).
The French government, strengthening all branches of defense, moved yesterday to increase the navy’s man power by 10,000. A bill prepared for the Chamber of Deputies would provide these additional men:
The non-officer personnel would be raised from 61,113, to 70,817, the officers from 2,112 to 2,340, and marine engineers from 418 to 516.—Star, Wash. Paris, March 5 (AP).
Orders for 4 mine sweepers were placed with the Lorient yard. Two of the latter are for colonial service. These vessels, similar to the Chamois, are a part of the 1937 program. There will also be built a target ship having a displacement of 2,500 tons and which will be equipped for distant control. It will be the first ship built for this particular purpose. The English, German, American, and Japanese use old converted battleships.—Le Yacht.
Herald Tribune, New York, March 2.— Germany has tripled her air force in the last year to a total of more than 2,000 war planes and bombers, responsible quarters here revealed today.
A reliable report said that Germany’s fighting aircraft at the beginning of 1936 consisted of 50 squadrons, or about 750 first-line war planes, whereas a year later there were 157 squadrons, totaling 2,050 planes. These included some “immediate reserves,” but omitted the huge number of second and third-line reserve planes, as well as stores of airplane parts.
Germany’s production capacity has passed 200 new airplanes a month, the information indicated. Armament experts, however, said German plane production still was too small to make effective the intention voiced by General Herman Wilhelm Goering, Nazi Air Minister, of building to equality with the combined French and Soviet fleets.
The ground and flying troops in the German air force were set at 150,000 men —part of the standing army estimated in these figures at 830,000 troops.
Pilots, mechanics, and other aviation technical experts were being trained at 14 regular flying schools and 14 other “centers of air instruction.” These ground schools and training fields were said to add another 62 or 70 squadrons—between 780 and 840 first-line war planes—which would be added to the Reich’s war-basis air force during 1937.
Mechanization of Germany’s army units also was progressing rapidly, the report showed. It said that the mechanized corps now included 1,500 armored cars and tanks.
Man power was said to be abundant, but the problem of officers remained unsolved. Raw material for the army was being trained in numerous huge organizations such as the Hitler youth, labor corps, the Nazi motor corps, Nazi cavalry units, and the Nazi air crops. But even the use of police, of whom 200,000 last year received at least 2 months’ special military training, had failed to overcome the dearth of officers, it was said.
The advices described the German army’s strength of 830,000 men as composed of 18 army corps and 38 infantry divisions. These were subdivided into 8 mechanized divisions, 1 brigade of cavalry, 100 infantry regiments, and 14 cavalry and 8 shock-troop regiments.
Only 105,000 tons of German warships were said to be in active service, necessitating an extensive building schedule. Those in active service were said to include the three 10,000-ton “pocket battleships,” 6,000-ton cruisers, ten 1,600-ton destroyers, thirteen 800-ton torpedo boats, and 36 submarines.
The German naval building program was understood to involve 183,000 tons of additional warcraft, including 36,000-ton battleships, to be completed by the beginning of 1938; one 35,000-ton battleship, to be ready the end of 1939; three 10,000-ton cruisers, of which 2 were to be ready at the start of 1938; 2 aircraft carriers, 12,350 tons each, to be ready the end of this year; 6 destroyers, to be put into service the middle of 1938, and 12 torpedo boats, also to be commissioned during 1938.—London March 2.
A salvage vessel specially intended for the assistance of any army or navy planes forced to descend in the sea, was launched on February 20 at Hamburg. The vessel will be attached to the German Air Force and will be on service in the North Sea and the Baltic, where it can be rushed to the help of any air pilots in difficulties.—The Marine Engineer.
Count Felix von Luckner, who gained fame during the World War as Germany’s peerless sea raider, will begin a voyage around the world in his new 2-masted schooner Sea Devil in March it was announced today. He will visit the Argentine, Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand and will attempt to propagate those ideas on which the new Germany is based. He will also visit the South Sea Islands where he was made chieftain of various tribes during the war.—Japan Advertiser. Berlin, February 4.
Le Revue Maritime.—The 1936-37 naval budget is an increase of 305 million lire over that of the preceding year. It totals 1j610 million lire. This sum is exclusive of that available for naval aviation.
The appropriations permit an increase of 250 officers for the various corps. It also provides for the establishment of new bases and the repair and re-enforcement of other bases such as: Pantellaria, Elba, the Dodecanese, Massouah, etc.
The report of the budget provides for the building, completing, and modernizing of a certain number of units listed below.
Modernization.—The old pre-war battleship Cavour and Cesare are modernized. Their displacement has been increased from 22,500 tons to 25,000 tons, and their speed increased from 21 to 26 knots.
Under construction.—Two 35,000-ton battleship Littorio and Vittorio Veneto; two, 8,000-ton cruisers Duca Degli Abruzzi and Giuseppe Garibaldi; one 2,500-ton colonial sloop Eritrea; four, 1,850-ton mine-laying destroyers Vittorio Alfieri, Alfredo Oriani, Giosb Carducci, Vincenzo Gioberti; six 615-ton torpedo boats Astore, Centauro, Climene, Perseo, Sirio, and Spica; four 850-ton escorts Orion, Orsa, Pegaso, Procione; two 900-ton (surface) mine-laying submarines Foca and Zoea; twenty 600-ton coastal submarines of two types Adua and Perla; 3 auxiliary ships; 25 motor scouts.
Organization.—During November, 1936, the Italian naval forces were regrouped as follows: First Squadron – Zara(flagship), Goizia, Fiume, Pola, Trento (flagship), Trieste, Bolzano, Di Giussano, Diaz, Pigafetta, Freccia, Dardo, Strale, Saetta, Folgore, Fulmine, Lampo, Baleno, Dorea, Ostro, Espero, Nembo, Aquilone. Second Squadron – Duca d’Aosta (flagship), Montecuccoli, M. Attendolo, E. di Savoia, Cadorna, Da Barbiano, Bande Nere, Colleoni, Maestrale, Grecale, Libeccio, Scirocco, Da Noli, Pancaldo, Tarigo, Malocello, Da Recco, Usodimare.
Italian rearmament.—From an authoritative source, it has been said that since October, Italy has planned an increase in personnel which will bring the total from 50,000 to 60,000 men. The fleet will be increased proportionately.
Naval informants say that following the reported increase in personnel and the declaration of M. Mussolini that “many dozens of ships will soon be under construction,” the Navy will pass through the following three steps:
- A number of light vessels will be added to the two battleships now under construction. Ten new submarines are being completed.
- A powerful naval base has been completed on the Island of Elba; the base at Taranto is to be further developed.
- The Navy is to be maintained in full commission although the land forces have been reduced since the issue of the Ethiopian war has been decided.
It is declared, from an authoritative source that, “When the English Home Fleet entered the Mediterranean, following Anglo-Italian tension resulting from the Ethiopian war, Italy understood that by keeping her fleet at a certain level with regard to the English fleet, she would be able to avoid the launching of a conflict. Now she has the intention of maintaining this proportion. As England builds, so will Italy build.
Personnel.—In recent months the list of flag officers has been increased by 5; 2 vice admirals and 3 rear admirals. There will henceforth be 3 admirals of the fleet, 7 vice admirals, and 24 rear admirals.
The Pofolo d’llalia on October 13 mentioned the beginning of construction of a large school for the youthful “Balilla” sailors, on the Island of St. Helena. It will be able to permanently handle the 250 students of the school-ship Scilla, and in turn the 2,000 Venetian students, to permit them to complete their education and to acquire a specialty.
New construction, trials, and modernization.— The modernization of the Cavour and Cesare were not finished in October, 1936, although the completion date had been previously set for April, 1936. The cost of changing the engines, boilers, and armament cost 300 million lire.
They will really be new ships, displacing 25,000 tons. They will no longer have torpedo tubes because this arm is not considered suitable for heavy ships. Proceeding along this line it is noted that the cruisers Bolzano, Trente, and Trieste have had their torpedo tubes reduced from 8 to 4. Torpedo tubes have been completely removed from the Bari, Ancona, Taranto, Brindisi, Venezia, and Libia.
The press has exaggerated, it is said, the importance of the M.A.S. scouts. Actually there exist 21 of 12 tons, and 25 knots (5 remaining from the World War), and 20 of 18 tons (just completed). In addition there are some scouts of 25 tons now under construction. An experimental scout named Stefano Turr, with an estimated speed of 34 knots, recently completed its trials.
At Castellamare the colonial gunboat Eritrea, displacing 2,500 tons, was recently launched. It is to be used in East African waters.
Last July 3 torpedo boats of the Spica class were launched. The Vega at Fiume on the 12th; the Aldebaran at Genova on the 15th; and the Sagittario at Fiume on the 22nd. A fourth, the Perseo was launched at Fiume on October 9. These units form part of a series of 10 ships ordered in 1935, all of which are named after stars. They displace 650 tons, are armed with three 4-in. guns and 4 torpedo tubes. The first two of this series, the Spica and the Aurore have already completed their trials.
On August 30 the destroyer Alfredo Oriani was launched at Livorno. It is the first of a new class displacing 1,675 tons. Four have already been launched. They are about 345 ft. in length, 33 ft. in width, have an estimated speed of 39 knots, and have a radius of action of 5,000 miles. They are armed with four 4-in. guns and 6 torpedo tubes.
On October 13 the submarine Emilio Tazzoli was launched at La Spezia. It is the last of 9 long-range cruising submarines to be built. It displaces 1,350 tons on the surface and 2,000 tons submerged. It carries two 4.7-in. guns and 8 torpedo tubes. The surface speed is estimated at 17 knots while the submerged speed will be 8.7 knots. Of the 8 other similar submarines, 5 have been commissioned since 1928; 2 entered active service in 1936, while another is still undergoing trials.
The construction of submarines of the Abyssinian series is being carried out at a great rate. Among the later ones launched are the Adua, Axum, Aradam, Macalle (October 2, 1936), Alagi (November 16), Dessit, and Dagabur (November 23) and Gondar (December 30).
Italy is finally entering the field of constructing fast tankers. From information of the Sunday Times (London) dated January 10, it is stated that three 13,500-ton tankers will soon be laid down. They will have a speed of at least 14 knots when loaded. It is believed that they will be launched in 15 or 16 months. The British press claims that they will be the fastest tankers in the world. They will form the nucleus of a national tanker fleet.
Italy has the intention of no longer being obliged to have recourse to foreign ships for shipment of its oil. Actually the Italian tonnage in tankers is about 550,000 tons, while the world total is about 12 million tons. For the greater part, the Italian tankers are overage.
Bases and ports.—The Stampa of December 27 announced that contracts have definitely been drawn for the construction of the port of Assab in Abyssinia. The project under execution includes an outside pier for protection about 3,000 feet long, parallel to the shore and distant about 2,300 ft. from it. This pier will have the function of protecting the loading docks. The docks will be lengthened about 6,500 feet and will include two large piers 360 ft. wide and about 1,000 ft. long which will permit 6 steamers docking simultaneously as well as many smaller craft. There will be 4 large warehouses to handle merchandise. Eight electric cranes of a modern type will be used for loading. A complete road system will be built around the docks and the shops to permit a rapid transit towards the interior.
It is estimated that 4 years will be required to complete this work. The cost will approximate 80 million lire. However in 2 years one of the piers should be ready to permit docking of ships putting in to this port. The work will be begun at once as the necessary equipment is on hand.
The dry docks of Naples.—The first dry dock in Italy was completed at Naples in 1852. There exists at present two other dry docks of which the largest is about 700 ft. long. 85 ft. wide, and 25 ft. below the sea level. There is under construction, at present, a third dry dock capable of dry docking the largest merchant ships of today. It will have two caissons permitting the increasing of its length from 1,140 ft. to 1,300 ft. The floor of the dock will be 43 ft. below sea level. It will be provided with three doors, two for the entrances and the third for the intervening division. The dock will be completely emptied in at least 2§ hours by means of three 1,500-hp. pumps and other less powerful pumps of 165 hp. The latter are installed primarily to pump out water filtering into the dock and rain water.
The 600-ton submarine Arcianghi, ninth ship of the ten Ethopian series begun in 1935, was launched at La Spezia on February 14.—Le Yacht.
The torpedo boat Sonkgla, built at Monfalcone for the Siamese government, was launched on February 10. It is the ninth of eleven such vessels ordered by the Siamese government. All are to be delivered by April.—Le Yacht.
At the Odero yards of Livorno, construction was begun on a 3,000-ton cruiser for the Soviet government. From certain information there will be two such ships built at the same time. Nothing is known of the characteristics except that the speed will be very high (42 knots).—Le Yacht.
Herald Tribune, March 2.—Japan, with a wary eye on the United States, has turned to the newest methods of chemical Warfare and a stepped-up air program to strengthen her defenses in the Pacific. Gas and other chemical weapons, General Gen Sugiyama, Minister of War, disclosed today on the floor of the Diet (Parliament), are being concentrated upon to make up for numerical inferiority.
Japan need not fear the United States for 3 years, the Navy Minister, Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, told the Diet, when the navy and naval air rearmament program ls completed, despite the menace he said Would result from increased United States air units in the Pacific.
An invitation by a third power to discuss arms limitation with the United States Would be accepted, Admiral Yonai said, the parley aimed at equitable arms reductions. But unless there was a definite Prospect of arms limitation, Japan would not propose such a meeting.
The army and navy ministers answered detailed questions during debate on war appropriations, with such important points brought out by Admiral Yonai that the budget subcommittee went into secret session to continue the discussion.
In addition to the United States, Japanese military plans principally consider Soviet Russia, which, the War Minister said, had already strained itself financially in preparing for war.
“It is inconceivable that they can continue increasing armaments indefinitely,” General Sugiyama said. “There must be some limit to Bolshevists’ capacity to build armaments.”
Admiral Yonai indicated Japan’s chief fear was that United States air units in Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, Hawaii, and other Pacific possessions would be increased.
“Some think the air force is more powerful than warships, but our Navy regards the air force as an auxiliary to the fleet, both being indispensable,” he asserted.
The Navy’s replenishment program, Vice Admiral Noritake Toyada, chief of the Naval Affairs Bureau, told the Diet, is being conducted on the basis of the Washington and London naval treaties. Though the United States is “bent on constructing capital ships,” Toyada declared, the American auxiliary vessels are rather inferior numerically, while Great Britain is building 70 such vessels. “Moreover, Britain plans to spend £1,500,000,000 ($7,500,000,000) on a 5-year naval program, but the contents of the program are unknown to us,” he stated.—Tokyo, March 2.
Star, Washington, March 31.—The Japanese Army, charging leaders of major political parties with obstructing “vital” laws for national defense, forced the dissolution of Parliament today and threw the empire into a new political crisis.
The dissolution was ordered by Emperor Hirohito on the advice of Premier Senjuro Hayashi and made a general election, in which charged army domination of the government was expected to be made an issue, mandatory within 30 days.
The new crisis arose suddenly with the stormy seventieth session of the Diet due for only a few more hours of normal life.
Realizing there was no chance of pushing through the bills they considered vital for national defense, the army leaders, in co-operation with the navy, brought pressure to bear on the premier to advise the Emperor to order the dissolution, affecting the Lower House. The demand was presented to Hayashi by General Sugiyama, the Minister of War, and Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, the Minister of the Navy.
The government announced the new election would be called April 30 to choose 466 members for a new House of Representatives.
A continued state of unrest was expected to last throughout the month’s campaign, stirred by political leaders’ charges that a fascist-inclined military clique was attempting to dominate empire affairs.
Nearly 40 bills, some, such as the steel industry control and national fuel bills considered to be of major importance, the Army charged, had been blocked by “a lack of sincerity” on the part of members of the Lower House which left doubt “whether they intended to contribute to the welfare of the empire.”
Before they took the drastic action, however, the Army and Navy had succeeded in pushing passage of the record $802,400,000 budget, of which more than half, or $401,700,000, went to the Army and Navy.
After the dissolution was ordered, the government declared “in order to overcome the present crisis both at home and abroad, the government and the people must earnestly co-operate.”
Reiterating the Army charges of “lack of sincerity” and delay of “vital measures,” the statement added: “In the circumstances, the government decided to appeal to the conscience and judgment of the people in the only way of fulfilling the principle of constitutional government. The government was therefore forced to dissolve the Lower House.”—Tokyo, March 31.
The battleship Mutu, completely modernized, has replaced the Nagato as the flagship of the Combined Fleet and is in readiness at Yokosuka for the new commander of the fleet, Admiral Osami Nagano, who has traded posts with Vice Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, the new Navy Minister, Domei reports.
The Mutu, launched in 1920, displaces 32,700 tons and has a length of 201.35 meters. It is the newest of Japan’s 9 warships of this category, one of which, the Kongo, was completed as long ago as 1912. The original nominal speed rating of the ship is 23 knots. The main armaments consist of eight 16-in. and twenty 55-in. guns, and there are also eight 12.7 centimeter high- angle guns.
Its commander, Captain Eiji Goto, has commanded in the past the 4th, 19th, and 11th Destroyer Squadrons and the 10,000-ton cruisers Naka and Takao. Domei describes him as skilled in navigation and bold in character.
The return to the Mutu as the flagship of the Combined Fleet, comments the news agency, indicates how strenous the training of the fleet is going to be for the first treatyless year.—Japan Advertiser.
Japan has formally notified Great Britain that she will not accept a proposal to limit naval guns to 14-in. caliber, the Foreign Office announced today.
Foreign Minister Naotake Sato made the notification to Sir Robert Clive, retiring British ambassador.
Japan’s action releases Great Britain, the United States, France, and signatory British dominions from a conditional agreement to limit guns to 14 in.—Tribune, Chicago. Tokyo, March 27.—[U.P.]
Japan today launched its most modern first- class destroyers since the expiration of the Washington and London naval limitation treaties. The 1,400-ton warship, the Suzukaze, is a super- equipped vessel.—Tribune, Chicago. Yokosuka, Japan, March 11.—(AP).
Establishment of a 7-hour express airplane service between Tokyo and Peiping is definitely under contemplation by the government, Communications Minister Hideo Kodama explained to the sixth budget sub-committee of the Lower House yesterday morning. An appropriation of 400,000 yen is needed to establish Japan’s first international airline, covering 1,500 miles, he declared.
The proposed service would include stops at Osaka, Seoul and Dairen, where connection would be made with the planes of the Hweiteh airline flying to the old capital. It is intended to put either a 16-passenger Douglas or an 8-place Nakajima plane on the run, according to the Asahi. Actual plans for the work are already being drawn up by the Communications Ministry.
At present, however, the Osaka airport on the edge of the Kizu River is too small to accommodate planes such as the fast transports, which have high take-off and landing speeds. The airliners will therefore have to stop at Fukuoka instead, for some time after the service is inaugurated. This means that between 9 and 10 hours will be required for the flight to Peiping. Another air field on the Osaka-Hyogo prefectural border will be completed by this fall, and will be designated as a port of call for the line. No date for inauguration of the service is mentioned.—Japan Advertiser, March 4.
In order to prevent unusual and sudden rises in prices of materials needed in the munitions industry, the Navy Department plans, in conjunction with the Army, to take effective steps to exercise as great control as possible. This is especially necessary in view of the large appropriations which the Army and the Navy have received for the coming year. Preliminary plans have been drawn up in preparation for a joint Army-Navy study of the problem, and it is believed that these plans include:
- Agreement between the Army and Navy as to which companies shall receive orders from the Army and which companies shall receive orders from the Navy.
- Plans to control the enlargement of plants which handle orders from the Army and the Navy.
- Plans to improve the quality of products by proper technical supervision by Army and Navy experts.
- Plans to prevent any inflation taking place in the munition industry and the fixing of prices on orders.
In order to facilitate the mobilization of industries in time of war, the Navy considers it essential to have detail plans prepared in peace time, and studies of these plans are being made at the present time.
Another point to be considered in connection with the above plans is that in order to utilize the funds appropriated for the present year there must not be any competition between the Army and the Navy as regards priority of placing orders. If this is done satisfactorily there should be no question in regard to the proper absorbing of the largest budget in the peace-time history of the Navy.—Osaka Mainichi.
To test the hull of the new cruiser Mogami which is partially welded it was determined to fire an entire broadside with all available guns while making 32 knots. Several seams parted, especially in oil tanks, causing a loss of fuel. All faults were remedied and the ship resumed operations. The aircraft carrier Chitose which was begun in 1934 was launched at Kure late in December, 1936. Her characteristics are: 10,000 tons, 530 ft. long, 20 knots speed, and 4 antiaircraft guns. In the vacated stocks another carrier, the Chiyoda, identically the same as the Chitose, will be built.—Morze, Warsaw.
The Argentine dispatch vessel Py of 500 tons, has been salved after sinking in dry dock, but was not found worth refitting and is now on the sale list. The new dispatch vessel Bouchard has replaced her in service. Slightly smaller than the former vessel, the Bouchard has Diesel engines, instead of triple expansion machinery, and a more powerful armament, two 3.9-in. instead of three 3-in. She is the first to be completed of a class of 9, all built in Argentine yards.—The Navy, London.
The oil-tanker Malistan has been purchased for the Brazilian Navy and renamed Marajo. She is a ship of 5,553 tons displacement with a speed of 10 knots, and was built by Messrs. Bartram & Sons at Sunderland in 1924, with engines by J. Dickinson & Sons of the same port.—The Navy, London.
New construction: Four 1450-ton destroyers have been ordered from the Fairfield yards by the Greek government. The armament will be furnished by Krupp. In addition the Greek naval program includes four submarines and the reorganization of its aviation branch.
Organization: According to the Daily Herald, a German Greek aeronautical accord has been completed in the latter months. This agreement will give German aviation a certain amount of expansion in Greece and will permit the German planes to use Greek airports.—La Revue Maritime.
At Malaga the Spanish insurgents are reported to have captured two government armed trawlers and one or two submarines. So far as can be ascertained the government naval forces took no part in the defense of the city, remaining immobilized at Cartagena. The cruiser Miguel de Cervantes is understood to be in dry dock there. No other news of government warships has come to hand lately.—The Navy, London.
The Commander in Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral de Champs, proposed to the government at the end of 1936 the increase of the number of vessels by 4 destroyers of the Goteborg class, 3 submarines of the Sjolejonet class, and 9 motor torpedo boats of two different types. The progressively more serious European situation has exerted an influence on the Scandinavian countries which demands a rapid execution of the building plans. Although the available armored vessels are overage and in need of replacement, their building is not immediately essential since the results of the probing of the effectiveness of the various types are still to be awaited.—Marine-Rundschau.
Here (in the Baltic) the disquietude is above all caused by the Russian arming. This has attracted the attention of Sweden which in this year will carry out a considerable strengthening of its fleet. First of all, the 800-ton destroyer Stockholm, 2 submarines, and 2 mine sweepers are to be commissioned. Besides this the modernization of the armored vessels is being pursued. At present the Gustav is rebuilding; she is to be converted to oil firing and is to receive a heavier anti-air battery. In the fall she will relieve the armored ship Sverige as flagship which will then undergo a thorough modernization. The minelayer Clas Fleming is rebuilding; she is to receive new engines which are hot-air turbines; she is also to have Diesel generators.—Kriegemarine, March.
Naval program.—The Turkish naval program includes the construction of two 8,000-ton cruisers, 4 submarines, and 4 destroyers. The 2 cruisers will be ordered from Japan. In exchange the Japanese will be permitted to manufacture textiles in Turkey.
The Turkish government, in August, 1936, ordered 4 coastal submarines displacing 600 tons each. Various equipment, such as engines, will be furnished by German firms. In addition an 8,000-ton steamer will be bought from Germany to act as a tender for the submarines. Finally, Turkey has ordered from the Krupp yards at Kiel 3 fast dispatch boats for Coast Guard purposes.—La Revue Maritime.
Though Soviet officials deny reports published abroad that a fleet of Soviet airplanes is en route to the North Pole to establish weather stations and intermediate landing places for the projected Moscow-San Francisco airline, the Soviet press gave great prominence on March 24 to P. G. Golovin’s flight toward Rudolf Island, only 800 miles from the North Pole, where the most northern arctic weather station and a good landing field are located.
Professor Schmidt, chief of arctic research, revealed that the main motive of the flight is to survey the possibilities for establishing weather stations and intermediate landing fields for regular air communication between the Soviet Union and the United States over the polar ice cap. He said such a line could be established within 2 years after surveys are completed. As part of the system of air fields and weather stations he predicted the installation by Soviet aviators and scientists of a weather station on top of the world within 2 years and the opening of regular air communication with America soon after. The present flight is of great significance in view of Professor Schmidt’s announced intentions.— Times, N. Y.
Merchant Marine Reserve Training
Star, Washington, March 14.—After years of effort it is probable the Navy Department this year will be provided with funds with which to start its program of giving training to officers of the Merchant Marine Naval Reserve. The House Appropriations Committee, in reporting the naval fund bill to the House, recommended an appropriation of $82,068 to provide active duty training for 100 officers of this branch of the Reserve.
The men in this branch of the Reserve are active seamen, serving aboard American merchant vessels, which would be taken over by the Navy in time of war for use as naval auxiliaries, such as supply and troop ships. While they are trained from the seaman standpoint, they have no knowledge of the naval procedure and discipline so essential to the operation of naval vessels in time of war, it was said. The department had requested funds be provided for the training of 400 officers and 500 enlisted men.
Captain Spears, in charge of Naval Reserve activities at the Navy Department, called attention of the committee to the strike situation in the Merchant Marine and added many students of this situation believe if a well-trained merchant marine naval reserve had been built up over the last few years the present conditions might have been avoided. He said it appears the United States is the only country in the world that has attempted to build up and maintain a merchant marine without providing naval training tor the personnel.
During the past year, he told the committee, there has been a widespread, insistent demand that the Navy Department take some action in assisting other government departments in their efforts to develop a trained and disciplined personnel for the Merchant Marine of the United States. He disclosed that representatives of the Navy Department have recently been in close touch with the Department of Commerce, the Maritime Commission, the Coast Guard and other maritime interests in order to assist in formulating a plan for procuring and training Merchant Marine personnel. He said that there are two problems involved:
- The procurement and initial training of Merchant Marine personnel.
- Naval training for Merchant Marine personnel in order to prepare them for service on board vessels designated as being suitable for naval auxiliaries in time of war.
It has been pointed out, Captain Spears said, the failure to provide funds for the naval training of our Merchant Marine Personnel is a discrimination against citizens engaged in the maritime profession. Practically every other citizen who is subject to be drafted in time of war has an opportunity of joining some military or naval organization to receive training for his war duties in time of peace. The merchant seaman, due to the nature of his profession, does not have such an opportunity. As he will be the first of our citizens to be under fire in case of a future war, it seems to be a matter of prudence to provide him with naval training. In fact, the proper execution of any neutrality laws that may be developed may largely depend upon the discipline and training of our Merchant Marine personnel operating in or near the war zones of contending powers.
Captain Spears said that if any argument is needed to show the necessity of naval training for our Merchant Marine personnel, it is but necessary to review the record of the World War. For the lack of discipline and trained seamen it was necessary practically to demobilize our battleships in order to procure trained men to operate our merchant vessels. There has been no great improvement in the merchant marine over World War conditions. That is to say, he continued, in case of mobilization at this time we would be caught with a merchant marine of untrained and undisciplined personnel. On the contrary, every other maritime nation in the world makes great efforts to build up a trained and disciplined merchant marine personnel. This, he added, is done principally by naval training.
In accordance with the agreement reached between the International Seamen’s Union of America and the Seagoing Personnel Committee of the Atlantic and Gulf Shipowners on February 3, material increases were accorded in the rates of pay for the deck, engine, and steward’s departments. As specified in Art. Ill, the minimum rates of pay aboard American vessels are as follows:
Dry Cargo and Passenger Ships Deck Department
Firemen (oil burners).
Firemen (coal burners). . .
Steward’s Department—Freight Ships
Chief Steward............... $120.00 per month
Steward and cook......... 120.00 “ “
Chief cook..................... 105.00 “ “
Second cook and baker. . .
Steward’s Department—Passenger Ships
All ratings increased $10.00 per month above existing scales, except in the case of ratings at present receiving less than $40.00 per month, in which cases the increase shall be $5.00 per month. —Nautical Gazette.
On application made by the Spanish Ambassador, the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, decided that a decree of confiscation issued by the Spanish government in regard to the SS. Navemar is not enforceable in American waters. This is the second application. A decree of confiscation authorizing the Spanish government to seize the ship belonging to the Compania Espanola de Navigacion Maritime, S. A., was published in Madrid in October, 1936. Subsequently, the vessel arrived at Buenos Aires where the Spanish consul made an endorsement on the ship’s register that she had become property of the Spanish government. The vessel proceeded to New York and a libel was filed by the owners for possession. In the first application made by the Spanish Ambassador, the court held that no showing had been made that the ship was property of the Republic of Spain and was possessed by it and was operated by it in its service and interest. Permission was granted for the Spanish Ambassador to present another application. The second decision was rendered by the same court: “Baldly, the question presented is whether a foreign nation can by edict confiscate property not within its sovereign domain nor otherwise within its possession or control, seize such property within the sovereign domain of another power, and claim immunity from suit in the courts of such latter nation. In all reason, the answer to such question must be in the negative.” The court also found that the Navemar was not an armed vessel in public service of its country nor operated by it. She was under charter to the Linea Sud Americana, Inc., and on arrival in New York her privately owned cargo was delivered to the consignees. It was also found that nothing in the treaty between Spain and the United States, warranted seizure. (1937 A.M.C. 22, 1st case, and 26, 2nd case).—Nautical Gazette.
Joseph P. Kennedy, of New York, who retired as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1935 “to lead a quiet life,” was called back today by President Roosevelt to head the Maritime Commission.
The President named 4 other members, thus putting the commission, which has been functioning since last September with 3 temporary appointees, on a permanent basis.
To serve with Mr. Kennedy, the President appointed: Edward C. Moran, Jr., of Rockland, Me., formerly Democratic Representative from the 2d Congressional District of that state; Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, a native of Canon City, Col. He was graduated from the Naval Academy with honors in 1902 and was chief of the Navy Bureau of Construction and Repairs, and Thomas M. Woodward, of Pennsylvania, a former trustee of the old United States Shipping Board and more recently connected with the Guffey Coal Commission.—Herald Tribune, N. Y. Washington, March 9.
The unexplained and unannounced dismissal by the Department of Commerce of the National Committee on Safety at Sea was revealed yesterday when Howard S. Cullman, vice-chairman of the committee, made public a letter addressed by him to Secretary Roper, asking why the group had been disbanded “in so abrupt a manner without so much as an explanation.”
Vice-chairman of the committee since shortly after it was formed in December, 1935, Mr. Cullman has been its most active and outspoken member, and on several occasions has been openly critical of the Secretary of Commerce for an indifferent attitude toward the committee for which he was responsible.
He has criticized Mr. Roper for his failure to seek a budget that would be the only means of placing mandatory safety regulations into effect, and he has charged Mr. Roper’s under-secretaries with injecting politics into the sea safety program.—Times, N. Y. March 15.
Two new harbors for over-seas shipping are to be opened in the Philippines. One is Aparri on the north coast of the Island of Luzon in the province of Cahayan, which is already used by coastwise craft. The other is Mambulao, which lies in Camarines Norta on the east coast of the southern part of the same island. It serves the gold mines of the Paracale District.—Nautical Magazine, Glasgow.
It appears likely that a considerable replacement of British Pacific liner tonnage may shortly be put in hand, and it is understood that the Canadian Pacific Railway intends constructing two new Empress 25-knot liners of 30,000 tons for the Pacific service, which would be additional to the 2 vessels already earmarked for the Canada-Australia route. The cost of all 4 ships bas been recently estimated at £6,000,000. British yards may therefore benefit materially from British shipping activities in the Pacific, which have been anything but prodigal with orders for new tonnage during recent years.— The Marine Engineer.
The French liner Normandie regained her title as speed queen of the Atlantic today, sweeping to a new record at an average clip of 30.99 knots.
The Queen Mary has flown the blue pennant since last August for her 30.63 knots average.
The Normandie’s elapsed time for the trip completed today was 4 days, 6 minutes and 23 seconds—actually 9 minutes longer than the Queen Mary required, but the Normandie traveled 39 miles farther on a longer course.
The ship’s new lightweight propellers, according to Captain Pierre Thoreaux, have not only given the huge liner “wings,” but have eliminated much vibration.—Herald. Wash. New York, March 22 (U.S.).
On the drafting boards of the naval architects of the United States are a number of construction Projects from coast to coast, which, however, since the enactment of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, must await consideration by the Maritime Commission. Some of these proposals are as follows:
One or two passenger-cargo steamers; American South African Line, New York City; bids received but later rejected.
Three 18-knot cargo liners, 485 ft. long, 14,000 ton displacement; Black Diamond Steamship Corp., New York City; planned.
Six 18-knot freighters, Calmar Steamship Corp., New York City; plans being prepared.
Two steamships, Chesapeake Steamship Corp., Baltimore, Maryland; planned.
Several bulk freighters, International Harvester Co., and Inland Steel Co., Chicago, Illinois; plans to be completed soon.
Four cargo vessels of about 10,000 tons each; Isthmian Steamship Co., New York City.
Two large cargo vessels, Matson Navigation Co., San Francisco, California; bids received, prices too high, plans being reviewed.
Two passenger-cargo ships designed by V. M. Friede, Mississippi Shipping Co., New Orleans, Louisiana.
Two ships for carriage of passengers and cargo, Ocean Steamship Co. of Savannah, New York City; plans being prepared by George G. Sharp, New York.—Pacific Marine Review, S. F.
Aviation in Spain
Nigel Tagne, in The Aeroplane.—During my wanderings I met many pilots who were, or had been, on active service and from them I naturally gleaned some of the lessons that are being learned from this war, equipped as it is with the most modern instruments. Each side in the air is fairly evenly matched so that conditions are similar to a small sector of a modern European war, and relative strengths of attack and defense in relation to weapons can be assessed without qualification.
The most important lesson that has been learned is that air power as such is not the power it was taken to be. More than ever before is infantry necessary in order to take advantage of the power that is only latent in the airplane without the man with a bayonet beneath it ready to co-operate.
The other great lesson is that bombing raids have not the moral effect on a civil population that was expected. It is true that gas has not yet been used in the Spanish war but presumably the same reluctance to use it will be there in any war.
Provided the raids are frequent it matters not how many people are killed each time, the effect is the same. The population treat them as an inevitable shower of rain and philosophically adjust themselves to them. I saw evidence of this many times. The early morning raid over Salamanca, for instance, resulted in the streets being cleared in a flash. But by the time the fourth came in the afternoon nobody took any notice at all.
The Red bombers flew always over 12,000 ft. to escape the really brilliant shooting of the German anti-aircraft guns. They are mostly very fast Russian machines built on the lines of Martin bombers and Boeings. One sees also Potez bombers, whose country of origin shouts loudest at the iniquity of German and Italian intervention. Presumably because they have few big bombs, these machines rarely carry bombs heavier than 50 kilos.
I presume that the Reds have nothing heavier by reason of the fact that the Nationalists favor the 250 kilo bomb for all purposes from ground-strafing troops to raids on military objectives. Experience has shown that one such bomb is better than five 50-kilo bombs and they only use the smaller type because of the difficulty in getting heavy bombs exclusively. They also use the 2-kilo incendiary bombs which they drop immediately after releasing the heavy bombs.
Almost all the Nationalist bombing is done with Junkers 52s, a military version of the 6-seat Heinkel, Savoia-Marchettis, and single-motor Alfa-Romeos.
The crews are becoming more and more Spanish as the German and Italian volunteers train them, and one must admit that their efficiency is something astonishing. This is in some measure explained by the fact that they can do all their raids between 4,000 and 6,000 ft., because of the complete absence of effective Russian or French anti-aircraft guns.
This lack of anti-aircraft guns is something of a puzzle to the Nationalists. If Russian artillery, Russian tanks, Russian aircraft, and French material all of the most modern type are used, why are not the most modern anti-aircraft guns used? The answer can only be that the Russians have no effective anti-aircraft gun, but this seems scarcely credible. The only type that is used against raiders is a 22mm. quick-firer and there are large numbers of these.
The result is that the Nationalists can always bomb from round about 5,000 ft. But though they may not be worried by anti-aircraft guns they have their work cut out to protect themselves from attacking fighters.
Raid tactics.—They raid in orthodox formations and stick together at all costs. Provided this is done it has been found that a heavy bombing squadron’s defensive armament is more than a match for attacking fighters. The Junkers 52 has a machine gun well aft on top of the fuselage and another worked from a lowered turret under the fuselage just forward of the trailing edge of the wing. A flight of 3 machines can effectively cover attacks from all directions.
When I was up at the Front I watched raids on objectives less than a mile away. It was uncanny to be able to do this with the safe knowledge that those huge machines apparently directly above your head would not be dropping bombs where you stood. One such raid by 18 Junkers was particularly interesting.
I was standing on the roof of a ruined house watching an artillery bombardment when my attention strayed to the sky over to the left. Through a smoke haze that lay over the city I saw a flight of 3 black bombers slowly approaching. I watched them fascinated, waiting for them to drop their bombs. Dimly I realized that they were making a lot of noise for just 3 aircraft. I looked behind them. I saw another flight following, and another, and another. There were 6 in all.
Slowly this procession flew along the enemy artillery lines dropping bombs whose track one could follow from machine to objective. Huge explosions rent the air. My eyes wandered to the bright blue sky above them and suddenly I perceived that it was filled with a myriad of tiny silver gnats that tumbled and zoomed and dived around one another. At intervals of comparative silence I could hear the pup-pup-pup of machine guns. There were at least 50 fighters in combat at about 12,000 ft.
Having dropped their bombs the bombers wheeled over my head and made for home, but one, for some reason or other, had dropped behind and was being attacked by three Red fighters simultaneously. I waited for the inevitable moment when it would be brought down, for its plight was unobserved by the White fighters. Then I heard that exhilarating whine of high-powered machines in a dive and I saw a group of machines, detached from the melee at 12,000 ft., plunging down to the rescue.
There was a racket of engines and machine-gun fire and the Russians used their superior speed and made off. A few minutes later order appeared from the chaos up above and the battle was over, the White fighters forming into 3 squadrons. Two of them followed the bombers as escort, and the third squadron circled round for perhaps 10 minutes before they, too, made off homeward.
Although night raids are made by Nationalist planes, up to the time that I left no night raid had been made by Red planes. The only possible explanation for this is the incredible one that the Russians and the pilots of many nations who form the Red Air Force cannot, or will not, fly by night.
This is fortunate for the Whites because Spanish nights are fine with excellent visibility and targets show up easily.
The Flakartillery.—Salamanca, in common with other military objectives, has its permanent anti-aircraft defense, consisting of 88-mm. guns grouped in squares, one gun at each corner. Each group is controlled electrically by an officer in the center and no attempt is made to converge the shells at the target. The bursts preserve their original relative positions.
Elsewhere mobile batteries of the same type operate and never stay in the same place more than 24 hours. You meet them sometimes on the road—4 guns and about 15 lorries carrying equipment. You never know where they are.
One morning when driving from San Fernando to Seville I told my chauffeur to stop at what I thought was a peaceful spot for a picnic lunch. I had not been there a minute before I found myself in the middle of a raid, the machines too high for me to see. Hidden a hundred yards away was one of these batteries. I had happened on a concealed petrol dump known to the enemy.
The marksmanship of these batteries is far better than anyone in this country can believe. They pick off individual 200 mile an hour bombers at 12,000 ft. I found plenty of evidence of this.
I tell it to people over here and am met with exasperating disbelief. Similarly they refuse to believe me when I tell them that not one but many of the squadrons who have been on active service almost every day for 3 months have never had a machine- gun jam. When will we acknowledge that what we have is not necessarily the best, in fact, that we may be a long way from the top?
The Italian Pilots Make Good.—One of the surprises of the war has been the courage of the Italians in the air. We have known of their skill for a long time. We have doubted their courage. Their temperament is such that, not surprisingly, they are very much better fighters than bombers. Similarly Germans are much better bombers.
This dove-tailing of the air qualities of the two Fascist countries is a matter of considerable significance. In Spain, at any rate until recently, almost all the active fighting squadrons have been Italian. They fly a biplane Fiat which has a performance somewhat similar to our Hawker Fury.
I had many discussions of great interest with some of these Italian pilots and their experience is illuminating. Although their Fiats have very little speed in hand over the Russian bombers they refuse to change them for the low-wing highly wing-loaded machines which look so nice to us but which they have tried in air combat and have found wanting.
They are quite definite on this. They argue that unless there is a vast percentage superiority in speed over the enemy bombers there is nothing to lose from the slower machine and a lot to gain. The defensive armament of a bomber formation is such that fighters cannot continue an attack if the initial shock tactics have failed.
The slower machine, by having superior height in the first place, is therefore just as well off attacking bombers as the faster, and when it comes to engaging enemy fighters there is no comparison between the two. Time and time again they have proved that, given equal conditions, the biplane, with its low wing-loading, has all its own way against a highly wing-loaded monoplane. If the monoplane decides to use its superior speed and make off, then the biplane pilot has achieved his object by preventing him doing what he wants.
One squadron commander told me that the extra minute that the biplane took to get up to its operating height was comparatively of very little disadvantage. He put forward the very interesting belief that in the next war fighter pilots would be trained to do 10 hours’ flying a day and they would be always patrolling high above likely objectives.
Reconnaissance work and intelligence of enemy aircraft movements would play an ever increasing part to make such patrols effective. The motors of the aircraft would have to be changed each night.
He believed that these tactics would prevail until a fighter was produced which was as maneuverable as the contemporary biplane fighter and which had a 50 per cent advantage of speed over the bomber. In other words, they would prevail, for all intents and purposes, forever.
The moteur-canon has found no place in this war. Three or four months ago the Nationalists came across some Dewoitines, but have not seen any since. The canon has not met with success. Fighter tactics were described to me as “the same as in the Great War, but not quite so aerobatic.” Certainly nothing interesting in formation work has been successful.
The Russian fighters are very modern, some have 4 machine guns which the bombers do not like, and almost all are low-wing monoplanes. They are brave pilots and are always there to intercept raids. Casualties on both sides are frequent.
These Russians enjoy themselves sometimes on ground-strafing expeditions—4 or 5 fast monoplanes, one behind the other, with machine guns that point at an angle downwards. Whenever you are motoring up to the lines along the main road of communication, which is constantly under bombardment, you have to keep a good lookout for these “Ratters” as they are called. Moving cars are their delight and relics by the side of the road tell you that they are a force to be reckoned with. As they fly at over 200 miles an hour their concentration of fire is not as great as it might be.
Clipper Reaches New Zealand
Star, Washington, March 31. By Edwin C. Musick, Captain, Pan-American Clipper).—Behind us today lie 7,000 miles of a new transoceanic airway never until now charted from the air for the purpose of converting it into a new aerial trade route gaited to the speed of modern times.
Since the Pan-American Clipper landed on the waters of Auckland Harbor in the dusk of last evening, bringing to a conclusion the west-bound portion of our flight from the United States to Australasia, via Hawaii, Kingman Reef, and Pago Pago, the hospitality of the New Zealanders has been lavished upon us.
Particularly gratifying to us, who were selected to bring to a climax and confirm d long years of careful engineering and ground survey work in preparation for this second transpacific airline, is the fact that we were able to negotiate the entire 1,800 miles of the flight from Pago Pago to Auckland in daylight.
So satisfactory was the final stage of our flight from the United States that we were able to make a wide detour to inspect the Kermadec Islands, some 500 miles northeast of the entrance to Auckland Harbor.
We were told today that these islands, 4 in number and standing, at least from the viewpoint of our aerial observation, Hose together, were not discovered as a group, but that two—Macauley and Curtis islands—were found in 1788 and the other two not until 5 years later. This fact was particularly impressive to us as aerial surveyors because we passed over all 4 in less than 30 minutes.
Also impressive to us was the information that, at present, these islands are visited only once a year by a government steamer. In their isolation, typical of scores of islands which we have seen on our aerial survey assignments, these Pacific outposts look with special enthusiasm upon the transportation advantages of modern airplanes.—Auckland, New Zealand, March 31 (By Wireless).
A revolutionary new wind tunnel and first details of new 4-engined stratosphere planes capable of flying at altitudes of 35,000 ft. were described last month at the annual alumni dinner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, before several hundred M. I. T. graduates, including many leaders in aviation.
The new wind tunnel, which will simulate for the first time air-conditions in the stratosphere, with winds traveling at velocities as high as 450 m.p.h., was described by Dr. Karl T. Compton, president of M. I. T. The new tunnel, to cost about $150,000, will be dedicated as a memorial to the Wright brothers at the International Congress of Applied Mechanics which will meet in Cambridge, Mass., in the summer of 1938.
Through the novel device of operating in either compressed or rarefied air, controlled by a pump, it will be possible, Dr. Compton said, either to match the gigantic full-scale government wind- tunnel at Langley Field, or to operate at speeds exceeding 400 m.p.h. under substratosphere conditions.—U. S. Air Services.
A Long-Distance Flying Boat Flight.— When the Empire flying boat Caledonia landed at Southampton on March 4, she had completed her second record flight within 2 weeks. Two weeks before the boat had flown from Southampton to Alexandria in 13 h. 35 min., at an average speed of 170 miles an hour. On this, the return trip, she covered the 2,300 miles in 15 h. 15. min. The machine took off from Alexandria at 12:30 a.m. with the aid of a flare path, and landed at Hythe at 3:45 p.m. It has been stated that by using the automatic pilot and checking it every 15 min., the machine flew for long periods without the assistance of human control.—The Engineer.
A contract for 5 twin-engined Sikorsky S-43 type amphibion airplanes, and for spare parts equivalent to one more complete amphibion, was awarded by the War Department on February 25 to the Sikorsky division of the United Aircraft Corp.
The total cost was $633,898, or slightly more than $105,649 for each plane. With the exception of heavy bombers, the new craft will be the most expensive purchased by the War Department.
The conventional design of the plane, widely used in over-water transport service, will be changed by the Army flyers only to the extent of replacing passenger chairs with camera racks and providing space for the other equipment.
Officers say that the amphibions will be used almost exclusively as convoy ships for bombing squadrons on long over-water flights. They will be able to alight on water for rescue purposes.— U. S. Air Services.
Reorganization of the much-criticized Bureau of Air Commerce was announced today by Daniel C. Roper, Secretary of Commerce, with the appointment of Fred Fagg, Jr., Brooklyn, to succeed Eugene L. Vidal, whose resignation as bureau director became effective today.
Although Rex Martin and J. Carroll Cone, the assistants who shared authority with Vidal, were sent abroad on study missions, officials of the Commerce Department denied that the shake-up was prompted by charges of inefficiency by the Copeland Senate Committee a year ago, or more recent charges growing out of a series of airplane disasters.
Mr. Fagg is a World War pilot, founder of the Air Law Institute at Northwestern University Law School, and consulting expert on air safety. He was called in several months ago to revise the bureau’s air safety regulations. He also advised the Senate Air Safety Committee, a subcommittee of the Copeland committee which urged last June a “thorough overhauling” of the bureau.
Major R. W. Schroeder, chief of the Airline Inspection Service, was promoted to chief assistant to the new director.
Secretary Roper announced that Mr. Vidal “has kindly consented to assist us in an advisory capacity in launching a new and enlarged program to be undertaken if Congress votes a large appropriation.”—Herald Tribune, N. Y. Washington March 1.
Evidence that a pilot’s radio telephone microphone, inadvertently dropped by its user as he went to hang it up after reporting that he was about to land, jammed the controls of the big Douglas airliner flown by A. R. (“Tommy”) Thompson and caused it to crash mysteriously in San Francisco Bay on February 9, killing all 11 persons on board, has been put in the hands of the Bureau of Air Commerce and is expected to be made public soon in an official report on the accident.
The crash has been one of the most baffling in the recent series of air disasters, since Thompson had an exceptionally high rating as a pilot and the crash occurred in perfect weather after he had flown over, and still was in full sight of, the airport.—Herald Tribune, N. Y.
Aircraft Depth Charges.—Recently a French paper brought out a study on the above subject which Pierre Melon, World War flier from all appearances, points out are to be taken seriously by all professional people. Pierre Melon derives his theory from anti-submarine warfare in which he finds important similarities to anti-air fighting. As the first point he refers to the short-time span during which the target of both can be placed under fire, and the second point, the impossibility of attaining effective fire in this short time. The result (in antisub warfare) was the depth charge.
In these circumstances (fighting modern aircraft with gunfire from aircraft as at present) the useable fire time is reduced to one or one and one half seconds. He concludes that therefore the following needs manifest themselves in modern anti-air warfare:
- Increase the useful fighting time.
- Replace machine guns, the weapon of the fighters, with a weapon that has an indirect effect.
- To entrust the task to an organized flight rather than to a handful of trick gunners engaging in individual combats.
He sees the solution of the task in a depth charge carrying aircraft. A reported attacking bombing squadron would be engaged by a squadron of about 10 depth charge aircraft. The latter would cross the course of the attackers some 1,000 feet ahead and above and would drop their charges. For such a performance neither trick flying nor superior marksmanship are required. It builds a curtain of greatest explosive force with a width of 500 yards and a depth of 3,500 ft. across the course of the enemy.—Marine-Rundschau, February, 1937.
Glenn L. Martin announced today that the Argentine government had awarded his company a $4,300,000 contract for 35 military bombers. Production will begin at once, with delivery expected late this year, Mr. Martin said. The contract brings outstanding orders on the Martin Company’s books to $12,500,000.— Times, N. Y. March 23.
President Roosevelt yesterday presented to Howard R. Hughes the Harmon international trophy, awarded to the young motion picture producer as the worlds outstanding aviator during 1936.
Hughes was selected for the award by the Ligue Internationale des Aviateurs because of his record-breaking transcontinental flights. Only two other Americans, Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and the late Wiley Post, have received this trophy.
At the White House ceremony, the President was made an honorary member of the Ligue, even though he has abstained from flying since his election in 1932. He told those present of two hair-raising experiences he had in Navy planes during the war. In each case his plane came out of a tailspin just in time, he said.—Herald, Wash. March 3.
Negotiations between the United States and Great Britain providing reciprocal aviation services in connection with the proposed joint transatlantic operation by Pan-American Airways and Imperial Airways of Great Britain have reached a deadlock. The bone of contention, it has been learned, is whether New York or Montreal shall be the transatlantic terminal. The difficulty is expected to be settled shortly, it was said.— Tribune, Chicago. Washington, D. C., March 13. —[Special.]
Amelia Earhart postponed her round-the- world flight indefinitely today as the result of the crash which wrecked her $80,000 Lockheed Electro plane in an attempted take-off at dawn from Luke Field here for Howland Island.
The flyer and her two men navigators were unhurt, but the plane was seriously damaged and will be sent to the United States for repairs which may take from one to three weeks. To supervise the reconditioning, Miss Earhart booked passage aboard the Matson liner Malolo, sailing this noon, and will arrive in California early next week.
Returning to the mainland with her are Captain Harry Manning, her radio navigator, and Fred Noonan, co-navigator, who were with her in the crack-up, and Paul Mantz, her technical adviser, who had intended to leave the group here. The plane is to be shipped later.—Herald- Tribune, Honolulu, March 20.
The Arrangement of Main and Secondary Batteries in Capital Ships
From the Rivista Marittima and the Marine-Rundschau. By Lieutenant Commander Walter Ansel, U. S. Navy.—A discussion of great interest in these days of “new construction” has been in progress between two European flag officers of different navies. Admiral de Foe of the Royal Italian Navy has proposed a change from what he designates “the classic” arrangement of gun batteries (the one now most widely in use, with main battery turrets at the ends of the ship and secondary battery amidships). He wishes to place the main battery turrets amidships and the secondary battery in turrets, two forward and one aft on the center line. Admiral Prentzel of the German Navy has discussed the proposal rather fully with historical examples and applications. These have in turn been examined by the originator and reconciled with his ideas. The choice of battery arrangements and the main points favoring the De Feo system are summarized by Admiral Prentzel as follows:
- Main battery turrets at the ends of the ship.— This may be designated the classic arrangement; it is the one that has been most commonly used in the past. It requires that the turrets of the secondary battery be located on the sides, which results in a small field of train forward and aft. High turrets could be placed over other outboard ones but this solution gives a disadvantageous use of weight and would necessitate a decrease in the field of train of the main battery.
- Main battery turrets forward only, foregoing fire aft over a 60-70 degree angle of train. This arrangement is now being employed by the British in the Nelson class and by the French in the Dunkerque. In this case the turrets for the secondary battery are all located at the sides aft, as in the Nelson class, or part at the sides and part on the center line, as in the Dunkerque class.
- Main battery turrets amidships, accepting a blind angle of train ahead and astern of 40 degrees (20 on each side of the center line). This is the proposed disposition of Admiral de Feo which, in his view, will assert itself as the type arrangement of the future with pure midships armament location. The turrets of the secondary battery are on the center line, two forward (in view of the greater offensive and defensive value of bow fire) and one aft.
The advantages for course (c) are:
- Widest angle of train for the full battle power of the main battery, because in (a) and (b) this angle of train reaches only to within 30-40 degrees of the ship’s axis instead of to within 20 degrees.
- Development of the greatest fire effect for the secondary and anti-aircraft batteries in their beam sectors and greater fire effect for them in the sector ahead.
- Best opportunity for building up the most effective defense and for protecting the vitals of the ship by reason of the simplicity of design and the more efficient employment of weights.
Admiral Prentzel then quotes the closing words of Admiral de Feo as follows:
In this battery arrangement (main battery amidships) the principle stressing the importance of an all around equal division of fire, which is mentioned in the report of a British Admiralty board, is disregarded and therefore it appears that the other principle—that a commander must have complete use of all his weapons in all battle situations—also has been forgotten. But if vessels are constructed according to such a principle, one will finally arrive at a type in which the possibilities of complete exploitation of battle strength have been curtailed in all sectors of both the main and secondary battery. This principle probably had its value for sailing vessels, which were not able to place themselves in a favorable position relative to the enemy because their position was determined by the direction of the wind or, in a calm, by the seaway. Consequently, they could not choose the direction in which they wanted to attack or defend and therefore had to be armed all around. But the vessels of today are no longer under this duress, for they have the power, without injury to their tactical handling, always to place themselves on such a course, relative to the enemy, that they are able to develop the optimum of battle power and to offer the smallest target, which is of greatest import. The relinquishment of the arc dead ahead and that aft, the latter now a fact in the Dunkerque class, has already been partly accomplished and is otherwise not a decisive factor. All the less is it so in view of the many other tasks which, in consequence of the increased attacking power of modern torpedo and aircraft, have not been satisfactorily solved. This may be especially realized when the battle conditions of the near future are contemplated. Such numerous and weighty problems are not easily solved in ships which have their turrets at the ends.
In the November issue of the Marine-Rundschau, Admiral Prentzel explains how for tactical reasons he was led in his earlier discussions to reject Admiral de Feo’s proposal. To this the latter has replied, as stated, not for purposes of idle polemics but in order to further the study of this important question—the disposition of guns on board ship. Admiral Prentzel’s latest discussion follows.
That the big gun is and will remain the chief weapon of the battleship Admiral de Feo does not dispute. Until the World War the grouping of the main battery as bow and stern armament was uninterruptedly carried through in all navies. Other solutions, such as side turrets, could be regarded as being in the discard. In this disposition of main battery the secondary was placed in casemates. After the war, the newly built Nelson and Rodney brought out for the first time a differently disposed arrangement—the well-known concentration in triple turrets forward. France followed this lead in the Dunkerque and Strasbourg, in fact, went over to quadruple turrets. The United States and Japan have in their post-war construction adhered to the so- called “classic arrangement” so that the above mentioned British and French ships remain the only ones of their kind. In them, all of the secondary battery is located aft. The French have also, for the most part, chosen the quadruple turret for the secondary battery while England has placed these guns in 2-gun turrets. The reasons for this manner of gun disposition spring presumably, in the first place, from construction and gunnery considerations. The limitations of the Washington treaty of 1922 probably had a further voice in it. Tactical disadvantages were accepted in the bargain. Nothing has been disclosed on the plans for projected construction in England or France and the gun disposition which will be chosen is awaited with great interest. Italy has also two capital ships building and Japan is announcing construction of this type without disclosure of the details of armament and gun arrangement. The question is whether Admiral de Feo’s proposal will be carried out.
Let us now go into the remarks that Admiral de Feo has made on the illustrations which I drew from the last war. He is of the opinion that it would have been possible for Beatty with his higher speed in the Dogger Bank action to have achieved success had he not had bow artillery. Having it, he repeatedly turned in, thus causing his preponderance in armament to remain ineffective, since he only brought a part of it to bear here. Outside of that, he offered his opponent a better target. With a De Foe arrangement of guns he would have been forced to choose a course diverging 20 degrees, by which the entire main battery automatically would have come into use and the prospects of being hit, because of the more unfavorable target area presented to the enemy, would have been reduced. Because of his superiority in speed the enemy could not, in spite of this, have run away. These points merit serious probing. It is true that a pursuer with a 6 per cent speed superiority can hold the retiring ships even though on a 20-degree diverging course, and can in this situation offer a less favorable target than if he steers right for the enemy. However, the pursuer cannot reduce the range, that is, not to speak of, and as a consequence such a battle will as a rule, be fought at extreme ranges and will lead to no decision if the retiring force does not choose to accept action. On the day of the Dogger Bank action the visibility was high. As the two combatants sighted each other at dawn and Hipper turned off to get a look at the situation, the guns could not yet shoot. Beatty then came up rapidly and commenced the action at maximum range—22,000 yards. Had he contented himself with this, without closing the range through radical turns toward, success would probably have been denied him and Hipper would, without serious losses, have gained the German coastal area where he could count on support. Even if the theoretical basis for Admiral de Feo’s thoughts hits the point, I still do not believe that the outcome of the Dogger Bank action can be brought in as proof of the correctness of his gun arrangement proposal. Rather, I am convinced that such an arrangement would have so hampered Beatty in the tactical employment of his ships that he could not have forced the fight, and instead a gun duel at long ranges would have resulted in which only chance hits could have been expected. The advantage of the simultaneous employment of all guns would therefore hardly have entered the balance decisively.
In further discussions Admiral de Feo takes up my applications from Jutland: first, the time when the High Seas Fleet first came into action with forward guns, as Admiral Beatty and the trailing 5th Battle Squadron turned off to the north. It is true that the lone bow fire on the German side achieved but little success and that the British were not forced to turn north on account of it, but because of the general tactical situation. The meagre gunnery success in this Part of the battle was caused by the very long ranges and the poor spotting conditions. However, that the guns could have been brought into action at all was doubtless a tactical advantage; only with bow artillery could Scheer so quickly nave fired upon the opponents withdrawing to the northward. This advantage would have evidenced itself more strongly had Scheer been able to attack in a broader formation and to pursue the enemy with the bow artillery of a larger number of ships. There had been no time to get into such a formation. In this kind of a situation the tactician will feel it a great hindrance to be tied to definite courses by the arrangement of his guns, especially if situations occur in which he cannot use his main battery at all. But here, pure bow fire was not held for just a short time as stated by Admiral de Feo. On the contrary Scheer tried through an ever sharper turn toward to hang on the heels of the 5th Battle Squadron, so that eventually the leading ships of his own 3rd Squadron, who at the beginning were quite favorably disposed, could only reach the target with their forward guns. This pursuit action would not have been possible at all with a blind angle ahead.
Now as to Admiral de Feo’s remarks on my second illustration from Jutland, namely the attack of the German battle cruisers against the Grand Fleet. It is hard to say if the intention of Admiral Scheer to relieve the sorely pressed German fleet by the charge of the battle cruisers and destroyer flotillas, when he signaled “Charge the Enemy,” would have been accomplished if the battle cruisers had executed the maneuver with a 20 to 30 degree diverging course. The situation demanded that the battle cruisers, above all, fall upon the middle of the enemy line lying there before them in a great bow, without delay. The torpedo boats were to be launched in vigorous attack. That could only be attained in an uncalculating, reckless charge in which limitations on artillery employment had to be accepted in the bargain. That in it, the battle cruisers afforded a favorable target area is correct. But their leader in this part of the battle, Captain Hartog, was not forced to turn off by the hostile fire, as assumed by Admiral de Feo, but by a signal, “Maneuver about the enemy van.” In my opinion in this instance also, the tactical employment of the battle cruisers with Admiral de Feo’s proposed dead main battery sector forward would have been rendered extremely difficult; in any event they did make their thrust and made it throughout under the artillery disadvantages that Admiral de Feo ascribes to their arrangement.
Disposal of guns according to his proposal leaves the arc of train dead ahead and astern to the secondary battery and permits this battery to attain a concentrated fire abeam. That this affords benefits in many respects is not to be denied. Admiral de Feo stresses particularly that the battery would thereby be situated to beat off minor attackers (torpedo boats, submarines, and aircraft) without maneuvers by the ship and by this means the main battery would get the steady steaming it so badly needs for good shooting. It is a well-known fact that a steady course is very important in successful shooting, especially at extreme ranges. But the development of fire control gear and gunnery procedures is constantly being directed toward “staying on” even during maneuvers by one’s own ship. Even at the time of Jutland this was possible, and surely today advances have been made in this regard. To my knowledge in the Dogger Bank Battle and in the Battle of Jutland disadvantages accrued to the fire control of the main battery on the German side through “turning away” maneuvers, nevertheless, fire never had to be suspended on account of this when any targets were in range. But I am convinced that not even with the heaviest concentration of secondary battery defensive fire will anyone voluntarily refuse, or be able to refuse, to maneuver upon the approach of torpedoes. Since their tracks, if at all, are discovered late, turning off will be the rule in order to increase the distance from the approaching torpedoes and to get out of their effective area.
Only in exceptional cases will one turn toward attacking destroyers, because of the danger of running directly into the torpedoes. Tactical prewar studies of the British and German high naval commands on the proper procedure in battle, confirmed this conception and the war proved its correctness. Of course, for such cases in which a turn toward is made the De Feo secondary battery arrangement is very advantageous. But it is the exception; in the World War the turn away was the rule on both sides.
Admiral de Feo probably did not discuss my criticism that the quadruple turret was too unwieldy for defense against torpedo and air attack because he believes that radical turning of the ship will not occur with his gun arrangement. I am not convinced of this, but believe, on the contrary, that situations will continually occur in defense against destroyers and aircraft which will demand rapidly changing courses. The secondary battery must be able to handle these, and to assume that the 4-gun turret can deliver here is a questionable assumption. One thinks of surprise night torpedo attacks. Against this, Admiral de Feo rightly argues that his arrangement enables one to employ the secondary battery in heaviest concentrations in all directions and this may become of the highest importance in air attacks on anchored ships or upon vessels steaming or maneuvering in restricted waters. He assumes apparently that the secondary battery (up to now 6-inch guns in all navies) will serve at the same time for anti-aircraft defense. But it is too large and unwieldy for this purpose. As far as is known, the French plan to use a 5.2-inch gun in the Dunkerque class as secondary and anti-aircraft battery. We have yet to see it prove itself in practice. The general rule that the secondary battery should not be less than 6 ' and, on the other hand, that anti-aircraft guns over 4.2' are too cumbersome, will at all events be broken in the Dunkerque class.
Gains resulting from concentration of the main battery amidships can without doubt be definitely set down with regard to security of ammunition and the related question of efficient utilization of weights. I agree fully to the objections to mounting single guns behind shields. Such a practice must be used only from urgent necessity and should be avoided altogether if possible. Fundamentally, mounting guns in turrets is to be preferred to placing them in casemates. True, the casemate arrangement is simpler and facilitates control but the turret provides better protection, higher elevation angles, and wider arcs of train. Still we must not draw too broad conclusions from single instances or from especially unlucky hits which, for instance, in the Battle of Jutland placed practically all of the casemate secondary battery on one side out of action. Such incidents may be tallied off against heavy hits in the secondary casemates of the Seydlitz and Konig in which the damage was confined to one gun. Fire and gas, on the other hand, are likely to spread to greater general effect in casemates than in turrets, but only if less than four guns are grouped in one turret. Here we must not overdraw the bow; things must be kept in their true proportion. The phrase coined by De Feo, that “the greater the concentration of battle powers, the better the possibilities for their offensive employment and their collective protection” is probably by itself true. But there is a limit. Agreed that a single quadruple turret offers a smaller effective target area than say, two 2-gun turrets, still, this circumstance may not be of essential importance. Hits in the vicinity of the turret or those that strike without penetrating can easily lead to turret failures through disturbance of training gear or similar casualties. On the Von der Tann at Jutland a main battery turret was jammed and consequently out of commission for a long time as a result of such a hit. I believe that the limit has been reached in the triple turret and am not of the opinion that the 4-gun turret will be universally adopted. But Admiral de Feo is absolutely right when he maintains that the arrangement of the secondary battery in the Nelson and Dunkerque classes is a greater concentration and is therefore less desirable than his proposed three 4-gun turrets.
The demand for the greatest possible subdivision of the secondary battery over the whole ship has not been adequately met by him either, and the respective advantages and disadvantages accruing to his system and to the arrangements used by the British and the French must be balanced against each other. Recanvassing my thoughts and objections, I do not believe that three guns per turret should be exceeded and prefer the division of the secondary battery into small groups all over the ship, despite the fact that thereby certain sectors will have only a few guns that can be brought to bear. That it would be advantageous to increase the protection of the secondary battery if the weight permitted needs no discussion.
Admiral de Feo further brings out against the arrangement of main battery at the ship’s ends the question of parallax between guns and fire-control stations . . . and finally he enters upon the disposition of anti-aircraft machine guns. He proposes to mount them atop the main and secondary battery turrets, thus giving four groups on the center line. This solution is doubtless very promising from the standpoint of field of train and would facilitate the protection of ammunition and personnel. But it would encroach upon the united space of the turret and would entail some difficulties of control. The technical details of his Proposal, aside from its merits, may prove insurmountable.
In reply to Admiral de Feo’s closing discussion in which he once more summarizes the various advantages and disadvantages of the different dispositions, and in which he confirms the advantages of his proposal we have the following to offer:
That locating the main battery amidships gains V wider angle of train than in any other solution is correct. It is also agreed that the utilization of the secondary battery is very efficient, full battery to either side and two-thirds ahead. The resulting saving of weights can be advantageously utilized for better protection of the whole. The constructors would probably welcome the idea since provision for turrets is much more readily effected than for any other system thus far proposed. But it is a question of selling the idea to the tactician. Serious tactical difficulties still remain. Every man-of-war is a compromise and will be so in the future. It must be able to use its weapons under all circumstances even though not in equal strength in all directions. This applies particularly to the battleship. I cannot wholly agree with Admiral de Feo’s reference to the sailing ship when he says that modern ships are no longer subject to comparable restrictions of wind and sea. Even today wind and sea may be the decisive factors for gunfire alone, since, as is well known, the lee gauge is the more desirable and is the one sought. Further than that, light plays an important part and was of the utmost importance at Coronel and Jutland. In a retiring action the retiring force determines the course of the pursuer. At the beginning we showed that the latter could do little damage if, for lack of fire ahead, he was unable to close in on his opponent. A pursuit action cannot, in my opinion, be effectively fought with De Feo’s arrangement. Under it the weaker one will always be in a position to withdraw, the stronger cannot force him to fight, and a check rein has been placed on the spirit of the attack and its power. In sailing-ship days the one attacking from the weather gauge was like-wise somewhat handicapped in the employment of his guns; he offered the opponent a good target while he was, for the time, unable to use his own guns. Despite this the aggressor was most often the victor. The loss of bow fire, even if only through 20 degrees on each side, limits the offensive capabilities of the battleship very seriously and hampers the tactical employment of the ship. The handicaps that the aggressor accepts in respect to offering a better target in a pursuit action are balanced by the effect on the morale of the opponent who finds himself on the defensive. No commander at sea will want to forego these offensive possibilities, so, in spite of unmistakable gains that Admiral de Feo’s proposal offers in many respects, I cannot agree that his plan will find universal adoption. Rather will the below given principle remain the gauge in the future for gun disposition aboard ship: “The commander must be able to utilize his weapons in any battle situation.”
Neoprene—A Synthetic Rubber
Mechanical Engineering, April.—In a Du Pont news bulletin dated February, 1937, which has been put together in a manner to deserve commendation, is told in nontechnical language the story of “neoprene” (formerly sold under the trademark “DuPrene,”) described as “the generic term for chloroprene rubber and for products made from chloroprene rubber by compounding it with appropriate vulcanizing agents, pigments, etc., and vulcanizing the mixture.”
The first step in the manufacture of neoprene, says the bulletin, is to heat coal and limestone in an electric furnace, thus producing calcium carbide, from which, with the addition of water, acetylene gas results. This acetylene gas is then treated with a catalyst and a previously unknown chemical substance, mono-vinyl-acetylene, is formed. In another catalyst chamber this substance is caused to combine with hydrogen-chloride gas, producing a liquid called chloroprene. By means of a polymerization process this liquid is converted into a tough, rubber-like solid known as neoprene.
Neoprene resembles natural rubber more closely than any other artificial product. The X-ray discloses that its physical structure is the same even though its chemical composition is different. It looks like crude rubber shipped from the rubber plantations and is mixed with other materials, processed, and vulcanized by rubber manufacturers just like the natural product. But although the finished articles look like those made of crude rubber and have the same elasticity, stretch, and toughness, they also have the ability to resist the action of oils, gasolines, and solvents which destroy rubber. They resist heat, and direct sunlight does not cause them to check and crack so readily. They resist the passage of gases and have a much longer, useful life than like articles made from nature’s product.
Because of these many advantages, chloroprene rubber is being used by industry in great and increasing quantity. Some of these applications are:
Hose lined with neoprene is being made for conveying gasoline, oils, gases, solvents and chemicals of all kinds.
Gaskets and packings of neoprene are in use where oil and heat would normally make rubber gaskets unsuitable.
Printers are using rollers of neoprene composition, replacing glue-glycerin and rubber compounds, and printing plates are being made from it.
Electric wires are protected by neoprene jackets from the effect of oils, chemicals, heat, sunlight, and the ozone formed around high-tension conductors. Balloon fabric of neoprene composition holds hydrogen and helium gas better than natural rubber.
Belts for transmitting power and conveying materials are covered with compounds made from neoprene.
Refrigerator seals are made of neoprene, and also gloves for the chemical industry.
Diaphragms, hospital sheeting, tank linings, sealing strips, and many special products have this new chloroprene rubber as a base.
An artificial latex known as neoprene latex may be made by polymerizing an emulsion of chloroprene in water. This latex looks just like the milk of the rubber tree but differs from it in that its particles are much smaller. When the latex is spread out into a thin film or impregnated into a porous body, there remains a film or deposit of neoprene which has the same strength, toughness, and elasticity as vulcanized rubber but also has the special stability to air, sunlight, oils, and chemicals for which neoprene is noted.
It will be seen that many of these uses are in fields complementary to or beyond the capacity of natural rubber. The producers see a good possibility of widening this market by decreasing the cost of manufacture and, consequently, the price of neoprene. With raw materials cheap and in unlimited supply, the price of neoprene in the long run will depend on how much can be sold. It will depend also on the genius of the laboratory men in still further simplifying the process of manufacture.