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On This Day...November 13th.

The HMS Ark Royal was torpedoed on the 3rd November, 1941 by German submarine U-81 just off Gibraltar in the Med where she had been engaged in reinforcing Malta's defences. Remarkably she was lost with the death of just one crew. The aircraft carrier had been reported sunk many times by German propaganda and was becoming famous for surviving many near misses. It was on her return from Malta that she was hit by a single torpedo that exposed some design faults.

The first shipboard take off was achieved by civilian named Eugene Ely, a native Iowan who was almost completely self-taught as a pilot. Ely gained his reputation working for Glen Curtiss, the aviator giant who held U.S. pilot license number one.

As part of a grand experiment in Norfolk, an eighty-three-foot-long wood platform was built over the forward deck of USS Birmingham (CL-2). The platform was sloped slightly downward to provide a speedier descent on the takeoff run. Quite unbelievably the wheels of the aircraft dipped into the sea before rising.

in 1943 the 8th Air Force introduced a new tactic when they were accompanied on the 750 mile round trip from England to Bremen by P-38 Lightnings and P-47 Thunderbolts. Up until now the Fortresses were only accompanied for part of the journey; it was the arrival arrival of the long range P-51 Mustang at the end of 1943 that really changed the game. Here, the B-17's are seen 'radar bombing' Bremen through cloud on November 13th.

The USS Juneau (CL152) was part of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. She was lost on the 13th of November, 1943. Her sinking was tragically worsened by events impacting the crew. After the ship was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-26, 115 Americans survived but were not immediately rescued. In the ocean for eight days, before help arrived, all but ten eventually died.

Five brothers - 'the Sullivans' - were among the dead. Their motto had been: "We stick together."

7 responses

  1. Interesting set Dave, is it known where the Arc Royal lies ? I built the Airfix kit decades ago , might do another if I find one somewhere...
    I like the shot of the B17's bombing through the clouds.Is it my imagination or can you see the curvature of the planet in that shot ?
    Cheers N.

  2. Nothing like wiping out a generation[Sullivans]. A revell kit of the Ark pops up sometimes, think it comes with a destroyer.

    • Hi Rob. This is the kit to have - if only I had the time...

  3. Hi Neil. You'll be interested in this if you like the story of the Ark Royal, it's a whole documentary on her 'discovery'... · on youtube

    And I suspect you are correct about seeing the curvature of the planet in that B-17 shot.


  4. I love these a Dave. It’s like our iMoldeler version of the history channel. Keep it up. Many times it gives us something to think about.

  5. It's a very interesting account of a great ship.

  6. The 8th AF was lucky as can be that the weather went bad after Black Thursday (October 14) and basically stayed bad until mid-December. On October 14, the Luftwaffe defeated the 8th as completely as had the RAF defeated the Luftwaffe on September 15, 1940. There were fewer than 100 bombers capable taking off on October 15. But the weather closed in and missions were cancelled. The 55th FG, which had been declared operational on October 14 but hadn't flown the mission, was joined three weeks later by the 20th, giving 8th AF Fighter Command two P-38 groups. During November, the P-47s were plumbed for wing drop tanks and had the pylons installed; by early December their range had tripled. The weather finally became "good" (i.e., at least 2 days a week where missions could be flown) on December 15. During late October and November, no missions were flown on deep-penetration, which the fighters were modernized. Also, 8th AF itself had doubled in size by then with new bomb groups being declared operational. Operation Point Blank went into high gear in early January 1944, and by March 9, the Luftwaffe failed to intercept the third Berlin mission. 8th AF lost more planes over Berlin on March 6, 1944, than over Schweinfurt on October 14, 1943; the difference was that there were still 500 bombers that could fly on March 7 and on March 9.

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