Friday, March 20, 2015

Maryland's Corsair

Since today is the 95th anniversary of the launching of the battleship USS Maryland (BB-46), it's appropriate that we celebrate with a photo of her. The small print in the Archive's collection isn't dated, but the ship appears to be at rest at Pearl Harbor. Of interest to us, of course, is the Vought O2U Corsair bobbing contentedly behind the mighty ship.
If you look carefully, you can see two men on Maryland's turret catapult, probably preparing it for the hoist-aboard of the Corsair.The ship in the background is the USS New Mexico.

The Maryland, a dreadnaught of the Colorado class, was at Pearl during the infamous December 7th attack, but was only lightly damaged, and went on to lend her eight 16-inch guns to the effort in the Battles of Midway, Tarawa, Kwajalien, Saipan (where she took a torpedo to her bow), Leyte Gulf (hit by a kamikaze) and Okinawa (hit by yet another kamikaze). And yet she survived, at least until 1947 when she succumbed to the scrapper's torch.

Before posting this photo here, I had supplied it to, who used it on the Maryland's web page. There, researcher Alan Moore provided some valuable information on the plane itself. He wrote:
Two aspects of the aircraft's markings are date-indicative. The first is the fuselage markings, 5 / 8, which signify VO-5's (Observation Squadron 5's) eighth aircraft. The symbol for Observation Squadron would later be changed from "/" to "O," making the marking 5-O-8. 
The second is the solid-color painted tail surfaces. Prior to the adoption of this practice, the rudders where painted with vertical Red-White-Blue stripes. The solid-colored tails were to identify the aircraft of a squadron, each squadron having it's own tail color. Each Battleship Division had its own squadron, with the planes distributed among the ships of the Division. Therefore, the planes on the ships of a Division had the same tail color. So this photo was taken after the adoption of painted tail surfaces but before the change of / to O. I can't find a specific date for either practice, only a vague "around 1930" or (in the case of the O) "in 1930." 
A third factor leading to the date is the existence of the squadron, VO-5B. William Larkins, in his Battleship and Cruiser Aircraft of the United States Navy 1910-1949, writes "VO-5B was only in commission for three years, 1927-1930, so planes with these markings are rare." (page 176) 
In the same work Larkins lists BatDiv5's ships as West Virginia (BB-48) (Flagship), Tennessee (BB-43), Maryland and Colorado (BB-45).
From this photo I can't distinguish an O2U-2 from a -3 (Larkins lists both.) but it's definitely not an O2U-1, which had a different rudder. Appended is his aircraft breakdown for Maryland.

Date Division Squadron Aircraft
7/1926 Five VO-1 2 UO-1
7/1927 Five VO-1B 2 UO-1, 1 OL-3, 1 FU-1
7/1928 Five VO-5B 3 O2U-1, 1 OL-6
7/1929 Five VO-5B 11 O2U-1, 1 O2U-2 [These are the aircraft for the entire Division, not just MD.]
6/1930 Five 6 O2U-1, 1 O2U-3 [ditto: aircraft for entire Division]
7/1931 One VO-1B 4 O2U-1, 1 O3U-2 [ditto; (Larkins lists only two ships, MD and ID)]

No comments:

Post a Comment