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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:25 am 
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Hello all

I am posting this question here since I hope to reach a bigger group here then in the limited intrest CASF section on carriers...

I am currently researching CV-19 Hancock during her last deployment in WWII and the time until she went into mothballs somewhere in 1946. Hancock was hit by a Kamikaze in April 45, she was still as build and in dazzle pattern at that time. She retreated to Pearl Harbor for repairs. At Pearl she got fixed and beefed up with the typical additional quad 40mm package that a lot of her sisters had received before already. She was re-painted in MS12 or 22. After she returned to the Pacific she was invovled in the attacks on the Japanese main land and in early September 45 was present in Tokio Bay when the surrender too place. Her planes filled the sky during the ceremony. Now the strange thing...of this period, so after leaving Pearl until after the war ended there seem to be no pictures of her. The first I know is from a post war Magic Carpet opertion...and then I found some from spring 46 when she was prepared to go to slep. On those post WWII pictures the island is covered by a large number of boxes of a uniform size. They are clearly visible on the pictures below. The boxes stayed in place until the SCB-25C rebuild started in 1952. Now I have already checked with very knowledable people and subject matter experts and noone so far has an explanation what those boxes were for. Hancock is the only carrier of it's class that had those! Now the questions are:

1. What were they for?
2. When were they put on, Pearl in sping of 45 or later in prepartion for other missions? (Magic Carpet, etc...)
3. Why did no other carrier get them
4. Are they standard Navy equippment and were they used/seen on other ship classes

The boxes in question...picture found in flikr...
Image

Hancock late 45 during Magic Carpet Ops.
Image

Private snapshorts I found on Face Book...of an "uncle" serving on Hancock in 1946
Image
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Yard pics from 1952 showing the bolts left were the boxes were attached
Image
Image
Image

I am looking fwd to your comments and hopefully a resolution to this question...

thanks a lot
Uwe


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:52 am 
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I would be inclined to say, that your boxes are in fact armour plating, perhaps steel or a ceramic composite, similar to tank armour.
Tank armour was made from a number of different materials, and was removable, much the same as your mystery boxes.
Cheers.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:58 am 
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Brett, ww2 tank armor is not composite material as is casted like the early Sherman tanks with rounded edges or was welded together with flat armor plate like the later Sherman tanks. the only way to remove armour is to cut the rivets off so the armor plate can be removed or replaced like on the british ww2 crusader tanks or use a cutting torch to take a tank's armor off. the 1st widely used composite armored tank was the post ww2 Russian T-64. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composite_armour


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:56 pm 
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Not armor. Not the style and design the US Navy used, and they were trying to reduce weight where-ever possible to use it for more AA guns.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:37 pm 
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Thanks David, it was only a guess, tanks are not my forte.
If the mystery boxes are not armour, something similar to splinter matting, then my next offering would be an early attempt at stealth, once again a guess.
It will be interesting to finally get an accurate answer.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:46 pm 
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Certainly NOT for signature reduction. Signature ENHANCEMENT would be more likely the result in this case. If they are "boxes", they could be for additional electronics they couldn't shoehorn inside????

Tracy, remember, the mods were done at PHNY, they had a habit of NOT following the rules. (Remember the FLETCHER armed with six twin 40-mm mounts?) :heh:

If the ship's CO said put on extra pieces of thick steel plates here, here and here, the yard may well have done it. "Technically" not armor, just "reinforced splinter protection". BuShips would scream when they found out, but the ship would be back in the war by then. :big_grin:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:30 pm 
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Rick -where did I even take a guess as to what they are? I'm not suggesting anything about what PHNY did.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:03 pm 
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Rick E Davis wrote:
Certainly NOT for signature reduction. Signature ENHANCEMENT would be more likely the result in this case. If they are "boxes", they could be for additional electronics they couldn't shoehorn inside????

Tracy, remember, the mods were done at PHNY, they had a habit of NOT following the rules. (Remember the FLETCHER armed with six twin 40-mm mounts?) :heh:

If the ship's CO said put on extra pieces of thick steel plates here, here and here, the yard may well have done it. "Technically" not armor, just "reinforced splinter protection". BuShips would scream when they found out, but the ship would be back in the war by then. :big_grin:


...if the boxes were for some sort of electronics...shouldn't there be signes of cabling near them? The 1952 pictures show no trace of cables having been there...

Thick pieces of steel they were neither...every one of those boxes has a handle at the same position...to open it? Also there is no proof yet it was done at Pearl during the war. It could have been added as part of the Magic Carpet? If we had pictures of her last war cruise or of her in Tokio Bay we might know more. It is hard to belive that a fleet carrier present at the surrender ceremony would not have been photographed. There is a short 3min video of Shangri La and Hancock coming home with her air wing still on board and no carrier number on the side yet but unfortunately it has a water mark right on the Hancock island...:-(
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV33lffjDzQ

I took a snap shot but it't too blury to tell if the boxes are there or not.
Image

thanks
Uwe


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:10 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:37 pm 
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.

They all seem to have a single handle, and appear above places where lookouts, etc would be sitting.

Could they hold life jackets so that the lookouts could grab them and put them on without leaving their station ?

.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:38 pm 
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anj4de

My father was on the ship for its entire WWII career and I have most of the photos of the ship I could find at NARA.

The boxes above the triangle gizmo in the photo above were there for the 2/45 TBF flight deck explosion.

I have never had luck posting photos on this site. If you want the ones I have feel free to email directly and you can then post them here if you wish.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:44 pm 
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By the way I have commissioning and shakedown photos that appear to show boxes on the circular tub just below the island forward 40MM gun tub. Whatever they were someone must have gotten fixated on them and asked for more.

Slim chance they might show up on plans or construction records if you can find them.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:04 pm 
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Tracy,

You were saying that they wouldn't add armor on the bridge because of trying to save weight. I'm saying that several times I have found when PHNY made modifications (my experience is with destroyers) that they didn't "always" follow the design developed by BuShips for a class of ships, nor consider that they were doing so in a way that added to top-weight. Frankly the "boxes" don't look like any kind of added protection (unless like some USAF aircraft Survivability Experts who look at the placement of "black boxes" on aircraft as a way to absorb hits and save "critical areas", these boxes were placed there to do the same thing).

As an aside. Pre-WWII during King Board Mods, the splinter protection wasn't true armor, but was heavy gage enough to offer some protection. As the USN kept adding more guns, BuShips was forced to save weight including changing gun mount shields and bulwarks around guns to basically heavy sheet metal. The stuff was so light weight that bracing had to be added to mounts and the bulwarks to give them some strength from waves. Crews were not happy.

Uwe,

I really have no idea of what these "boxes" are on HANCOCK or why the yard is doing it. But, I'm saying it may not be something authorized by BuShips and was a "local" idea by the ship's CO and/or the yard.

I noted what look like handles on some "boxes". But, the location of many of these "boxes" does not exactly make them accessible for "opening" for stowage. Electronics/wiring boxes/cabinets make sense. Looking at the close-up front bridge view, they look like electrical/electronics (more likely electrical than electronics) cabinets. But normally there aren't this many in one area like this.

The sizes of the "boxes" vary around the bridge, there could be multiple purposes involved here. The "boxes" under the 40-mm mounts could be bins for catching spent cases.

If HANCOCK's Departure Report from PHNY still exists at NARA. it may shed light on what these are.

Here is are cropped views of USS HANCOCK (CV-19) at PHNY between 3-9 May 1945. (Tracy I was able to determine the date range for the Deck Logs for HANCOCK and MURRAY) The second crop focuses on her bridge.

The last image is of USS HANCOCK, if the date is accurate, on her way to Pearl Harbor after completing shakedown and post-shakedown availability.

Image

Image


Image


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:06 pm 
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From purely a design perspective, the boxes are very interesting features. They:

1: appear to be somewhat of a uniform shape. This means that they were not custom-designed for specific locations, but adapted from a common design. This tends to indicate that the modification was local and approved locally, and the work was done quickly.

2: each has what appears to be a hinged access door with a single latch/clasp/handle suggesting the box was intended to be used as a cabinet to contain something, perhaps other equipment, a cabinet that could be opened easily, quickly and repeatedly without having to remove bolts or screws. This could mean that it was originally designed as merely an equipment cabinet but perhaps is being used here for other purposes.

3: the back of each box is not fixed directly to the splinter shielding. Each box stands off from the shielding creating considerable space between the box and the splinter shielding. This is a more technically difficult way to attach the box requiring more effort (welding verses bolting) and material to do so. For whatever reason, it was important that the box itself not be in direct contact with the splinter shielding.

4. the boxes are not in contact with each other, but there is some space between them.

5. the boxes are not fixed to bulkheads of vulnerable/critical stations, just attached to splinter shielding. Notice that the nearby pilot house itself and the aft battle lookout station, super-critical stations, do not have the boxes fixed to them. This tends to indicate that their value is not primarily protective in nature for critical stations.

The mystery deepens!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:34 am 
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Hello Rick

Thanks a lot for the pictures! A clear starboard pictures of the island as build I did not have yet...and the yard picture is also great. I have looked at it and played with it a bit and believe the boxes at this time were not installed yet. The time frame 3 - 9 May is in the middle of her Pearl time though...she still had serveral weeks of fixing, upgrading and tested before she went back into action. An interesting link is that one here...it shows relatively detailed what went on and when...
http://www.usshancockassociation.org/hi ... hp#21apr45
I have red through it but find no mentioning of those boxes though...but then I am not the biggest expert in Navy termenology. I did search for her next assignment though, TG 38.1. and found out that she was in a group together with Bennington, Lexington, San Jacito and Bellau Wood. Will try and search for pictures around that task group hoping to find shots of Hancock that clairify if the boxes were installed or not yet...

Home Islands Raids 1945/07 - 45/08
TG 38.1
CTG RAdm Thomas L. Sprague
CV Bennington/GF (CVG-82), Lexington II, Hancock (CVG-6)
CVL Belleau Wood (CVG-30), San Jacinto (CVG-45)
BB Indiana, Massachusetts, Alabama
CL Topeka, Duluth, Dayton, San Diego, Atlanta II
DD Highbee (from 07/20)
DesRon25 DesDiv49: John Rodgers/SF,DF, Murray (from 07/1?), McKee, Harrison
DesDiv50: Ringgold/DF (till 08/22), Dashiell, Schroeder
DesRon61: (Cap T.H. Hederman):
DesDiv121: De Haven II/SF, Mansfield, Lyman K. Swenson, Collett, Maddox II
DesDiv122: Blue II, Brush, Taussig, Samuel N. Moore
DesRon50 DesDiv100: Caperton, Cogswell, Ingersoll, Knapp


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:11 am 
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At the bottom of this site http://militaryhistoryphotos.tumblr.com/ is a photo which seems to confirm the boxes were not present when the ship was hit by a kamikaze on 4/1/45. assuming the date is correct.

Also barely visible are the boxes on the circular tub forward of and too far away from the island 40mm tub to have been used for expended brass.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:11 am 
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At the bottom of this site http://militaryhistoryphotos.tumblr.com/ is a photo which seems to confirm the boxes were not present when the ship was hit by a kamikaze on 4/1/45. assuming the date is correct.

Also barely visible are the boxes on the circular tub forward of and too far away from the island 40mm tub to have been used for expended brass.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:07 am 
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Hello Fred

Yes, that is correct. The modifications were only done after the April 7th Kamikaze attack that was so severe that Hancock had to be taken off the line and sent back to Pearl for repairs. In the picture you posted she is more or less "as build" and still in her dazzle pattern camo. April - July 45 she was in the yard getting all the upgrades and repairs done and also a new piant job. From then on there are no more pictures known of her until the MC rides after the war...and there she shows those boxes for the first time. Question still is...were the boxes added in Pearl during Aprl - July 45 or only after the surrender as part of some prep work for other jobs?

cheers
Uwe


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:45 am 
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I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark here - the first photos in this thread indicate the ship had these boxes installed AFTER the kamikaze attack in 1945 and ALSO participated in Magic Carpet Ops. Is it possible that P.H. installed these as pressure operated life raft containers for small 1-3 man rafts? With the added personnel aboard being ferried back from the war zone, they would have needed additional emergency floatation for these people. We know that these boxes had hinges so it's possible that the "handle" is actually a pressure activated operator of some sort. I've got to admit, they don't look like any life raft container I've ever seen.

I've searched the net for any other carrier pictures of these items without success. I don't have Norman Feldman's book on U.S. Aircraft Carriers so I can't say whether or not there's a mention of these.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:48 am 
Hi anj4de;

Is seems that when the vessel had the splinter camouflage, the boxes had not been installed and when the scheme was changed, she had them. Later in the war, she suffered numerous casualties from flying shrapnel. The boxes are located near the bridge area and are within easy reach of the crew in that area. Because of the weight factor, they are unlikely to be armor plates, ready service ammunition for AA, or even to contain really heavy material. What about the idea that, with a prudent Captain, they might be storage of early flack jackets for splinter protection? Just a thought. Perhaps someone in the crew is still alive and could tell.

Regards rjccjr


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