Howorth DD- 592 - History

Howorth DD- 592 - History

Howorth

(DD-592: dp. 2,050,1. 376'6"; b. 39'8"; dr. 17'9"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 273; a. 5 5", 5 40 mm., 7 20mm., 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dcS; cl, Fletcher)

Howorth (DD-592) was launched by Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., 10 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. R. P. Bromley; and commissioned 3 April 1944, Comdr. E. S. Burns in command.

After exhaustive shakedown training had been completed, Howorth sailed 22 July 1944, screening a large convoy carrying marines toward Pearl Harbor. The ship arrived 7 days later and began a second training period in Hawaiian waters. Departing 25 August she joined the 7th Fleet at Hollandia and, after brief stops at Purvis Bay and Manus on escort duty, she arrived at newly-taken Morotai 30 September. The next 2 weeks were spent in the busy Solomons on escort and antisubmarine duty.

Howorth steamed out of Humboldt Bay 16 October en route to Leyte. Arriving 22 October, three days after the initial landings, the ship guarded the transport anchorages while other fleet units decimated the Japanese in the epochal Battle for Leyte Gulf. She next made convoy voyages to Kossol Roads, Guam, and Manus before returning to Leyte for the Ormoc landings 7 December 1944. Next on the destroyer's schedule was the Mindoro operation. Howorth departed 12 December with Nashville and soon came under kamikaze attack. Upon arrival off Mindoro, the destroyer moved to Mangarin Bay for shore bombardment, aiding the assault troops by knocking out enemy emplacements. She was attacked by three suiciders, and while two were shot down close aboard, the third damaged Howorth's mast before splashing. Accordingly, the ship returned to Hollandia via Leyte, arriving 28 December. With the bases on Mindoro necessary for air support of Lingayen Gulf landings under construction, preparations continued for the invasion of Luzon.

The Lingayen operations got underway 9 January, and Boworth, arfived with the first reinforcement group 13 January, after again fighting off suicide attacks en route. The ship was occupied until 1 February providing fire support to ground forces in the area, fighting off air attacks and patrolling to seaward of the Gulf. From Luzon she sailed to Saipan 15 February to take part in rehearsals for the next major amphibious assault, Iwo Jima.

Howorth arrived off Iwo Jima with the invasion fleet 19 February and, as troops landed for what was to be one of the hardest fought campaigns of the war, she began nearly a month of continuous air action and shore bombardment. With accurate ground support fire Howorth contributed much to the taking of this strategic island. Departing 14 March, she spent only a short rest at Ulithi before getting underway again, this time for the Okinawa invasion, last stop on the island road to Japan itself.

The veteran destroyer screened a transport group from Ulithi, arriving Okinawa with the huge invasion fleet 1 April. Onee again she performed shore flre and screening duties, and shot down many attacking aircraft as the Japanese made a desperate attempt to stop the landings. While proceeding with cruiser St. Louis to station 1 April, Howorth and the larger ship were attacked by no less than eight kamikazes. While literally splashing planes on every quarter' the destroyer was crashed in the superstructure. Nine men were killed, but while the fires were being extinguished the last kamikaze was shot down astern.

Howorth was routed back to the United States for repairs, arriving Mare Island 2 May 1945. After shakedown training in early July, the ship sailed 15 July for Pearl Harbor and was en route to Adak. Alaska 15 August when the surrender of Japan was announced. She departed Adak 31 August for Japanese waters to screen flight operations and receive former pfisoners of war before mooring at Yokohama 17 September 1945. Escort work carfied Howorth to Pearl Harbor and back to Japan in October. She sailed finally from Tokyo Bay 11 November, arriving San Francisco 28 November. She decommissioned 30 April 1946 at San Diego and remained in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until March 1962 when she was sunk in torpedo tests off San Diego.

Howorth received five battle stars for World War II service.


USS Howorth DD-592 (1944-1962)

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DD-592 Howorth

Howorth (DD-592) was laid down 26 November 1941, launched by Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., 10 January 1943 sponsored by Mrs. R. P. Bromley and commissioned 3 April 1944, Comdr. E. S. Burns in command.

After exhaustive shakedown training had been completed, Howorth sailed 22 July 1944, screening a large convoy carrying marines toward Pearl Harbor. The ship arrived 7 days later and began a second training period in Hawaiian waters. Departing 25 August she joined the 7th Fleet at Hollandia and, after brief stops at Purvis Bay and Manus on escort duty, she arrived at newly-taken Morotai 30 September. The next 2 weeks were spent in the busy Solomons on escort and antisubmarine duty.

Howorth steamed out of Humboldt Bay 16 October en route to Leyte. Arriving 22 October, three days after the initial landings, the ship guarded the transport anchorages while other fleet units decimated the Japanese in the epochal Battle for Leyte Gulf. She next made convoy voyages to Kossol Roads, Guam, and Manus before returning to Leyte for the Ormoc landings 7 December 1944. Next on the destroyer's schedule was the Mindoro operation. Howorth departed 12 December with Nashville and soon came under kamikaze attack. Upon arrival off Mindoro, the destroyer moved to Mangarin Bay for shore bombardment, aiding the assault troops by knocking out enemy emplacements. She was attacked by three suiciders, and while two were shot down close aboard, the third damaged Howorth's mast before splashing. Accordingly, the ship returned to Hollandia via Leyte, arriving 28 December. With the bases on Mindoro necessary for air support of Lingayen Gulf landings under construction, preparations continued for the invasion of Luzon.

The Lingayen operations got underway 9 January, and Howorth, arrived with the first reinforcement group 13 January, after again fighting off suicide attacks en route. The ship was occupied until 1 February providing fire support to ground forces in the area, fighting off air attacks and patrolling to seaward of the Gulf. From Luzon she sailed to Saipan 15 February to take part in rehearsals for the next major amphibious assault, Iwo Jima.

Howorth arrived off Iwo Jima with the invasion fleet 19 February and, as troops landed for what was to be one of the hardest fought campaigns of the war, she began nearly a month of continuous air action and shore bombardment. With accurate ground support fire Howorth contributed much to the taking of this strategic island. Departing 14 March, she spent only a short rest at Ulithi before getting underway again, this time for the Okinawa invasion, last stop on the island road to Japan itself.

The veteran destroyer screened a transport group from Ulithi, arriving Okinawa with the huge invasion fleet 1 April. Once again she performed shore fire and screening duties, and shot down many attacking aircraft as the Japanese made a desperate attempt to stop the landings. While proceeding with cruiser St. Louis to station 1 April, Howorth and the larger ship were attacked by no less than eight kamikazes. While literally splashing planes on every quarter' the destroyer was crashed in the superstructure. Nine men were killed, but while the fires were being extinguished the last kamikaze was shot down astern.

Howorth was routed back to the United States for repairs, arriving Mare Island 2 May 1945. After shakedown training in early July, the ship sailed 15 July for Pearl Harbor and was en route to Adak. Alaska 15 August when the surrender of Japan was announced. She departed Adak 31 August for Japanese waters to screen flight operations and receive former prisoners of war before mooring at Yokohama 17 September 1945. Escort work carried Howorth to Pearl Harbor and back to Japan in October. She sailed finally from Tokyo Bay 11 November, arriving San Francisco 28 November. She decommissioned 30 April 1946 at San Diego and remained in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 8 March 1962 when she was sunk in torpedo tests off San Diego. She was stricken 1 June 1961.


Kamikaze Images

The destroyer USS Howorth (DD-592), commissioned in April 1944, participated in battles in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On April 6 , 1945, during Japan's first and largest mass kamikaze attack during the Battle of Okinawa, five kamikaze aircraft attacked the ship in less than eight minutes. Howorth's gunners shot down the first three, but the fourth plane, a Japanese Zero fighter, crashed into the main gun battery director on top of the bridge. The attack killed seven and wounded sixteen Howorth crewmen. As the bridge burned, the fifth and final kamikaze was shot down [1]. James Orvill Raines was one of the crewman who ended up in the sea after the explosion when the kamikaze plane hit. Raines was badly burned in the blast and passed away in the arms of another crewman, who was rescued from the water a couple of hours later. Orvill and Ray Ellen had been married in June 1940, and this book contains a selection of Orvill's personal letters to his wife from Howorth's commissioning to the day that he lost his life. These detailed letters provide insights to Orvill's personal feelings and opinions, Howorth's history, and everyday life of an ordinary seaman aboard an American destroyer during the Pacific War.

Orvill Raines worked as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News newspaper before he entered the Naval Reserve in November 1942. Aboard the destroyer Howorth he served as yeoman, which included various administrative duties such as preparing, typing, and routing reports and correspondence. His battle station duty was bridge telephone talker, when he wore a telephone headset as he stayed close to the captain and other officers on the bridge to relay information between them and other parts of the ship. Orvill consistently wrote long letters to his wife Ray Ellen during his years in the Navy. Even though the military censored letters to home, Orvill's letters must have passed through a very lenient censor during his time aboard Howorth, since only of couple of items in his long letters ever got deleted even though he described many details of battles including geographic locations. He told his wife about several Japanese aerial suicide attacks against American ships including his own. As Howorth proceeded toward Okinawa for the impending battle, Raines expressed his worries about possible kamikaze attacks (p. 262):

Okinawa spells Kamikaze Corps to us. Hope I don't burden you with all this worry of mine. Of course we worry a little. Somebody's gotta get it and we may be lucky or unlucky. You see the Navy loses a lot of men but you don't particularly hear about it. A few days ago while a task force was working over Okinawa, suicides came down from Honshu (the island of Japan) and seven of them hit one of our big carriers. Fifteen hundred men were killed as a result of the crashes and the subsequent fires.

Every letter from Orvill expresses his deep love for his wife such as the following paragraph in a letter dated December 29, 1944 (p. 191):

Well Precious Baby Girl, I want to get a night's sleep tonight. It's 9:30 now and I arise at 5:45 so if I hurry, I can get 8 hours. Be a sweet kid Baby and try to realize how hard this mug loves you. I'm just one guy in 11 million in this war but I love you as much as the other 10,999,999 guys love their wives and sweethearts put together. I love you passionately and with every atom in me. I want the war to end soon. I pray often that God will do something about it. I don't necessarily want to kill ALL the Japs, just enough to make them see that they can't win. So we can all go home. Damit, darling, we are losing a lot of good time and I want to get started again. Well, so much of that. It isn't necessary to load you down with that as you already know how I feel. Be sweet darling and remember that I worship and adore you like mad. God bless you Darling Baby. Keep your chin up and "stand by."

Your devoted husband,
Orvill


USS Howorth (DD-592) one month after commissioning

In a letter dated November 30, 1944, Orvill writes about a Jap pilot who suicide dived on the bridge of another destroyer. In his letter of December 10, 1944, he describes a destroyer returning from a terrible fight when bombs and a suicide Jap plane had plowed into her. Her entire superstructure was a mangled mess of melted steel except for the bridge and radio shack. In a letter from December 16, 1944, he describes in vivid detail the previous day's attack on the destroyer Howorth by three Japanese Zero suicide fighters. The first one barely missed the after smoke stack and landed in the water. The second one hit the ship and glanced off the port side of the forecastle into the water without causing any casualties or serious damage other than wreckage scattered all over the ship. The third Zero got hit by Howorth's gunners but veered off and crashed into a smaller ship. In the next day's letter he refers to Japanese attacks as "fanatical suicides." On January 10, 1945, he writes that the Japs will need to suicide even more to compensate for the Americans' very latest type fighter plane. On February 22, 1945, he describes the previous night's suicide attacks that sank a carrier escort off Iwo Jima. Ray Ellen had read these and several other references to suicide attacks in Orvill's letters, so she probably understood well what must have happened when Howorth's captain sent her a letter dated a day after the kamikaze attack with the following words: "After the ship shot down five dive bombers which fell flaming into the sea nearby, the sixth crashed out of control onto the ship in the vicinity of Orvill's battle station. Several men, including Orvill, were observed to jump or were blown overboard and were seen in the water. It is possible that one of the several ships close by picked him up. We have no information as to whether he was injured or has been recovered as yet." On June 1, 1945, her fifth wedding anniversary, she received confirmation of Orvill's death when she read a letter from fellow crewman Russell Bramble, who wrote that Orvill had been badly burned and had died in his arms in the water.

Ray Ellen stored Orvill's typed letters for several decades after the end of the war, and she provided a portion of them to the Howorth Veterans Association for a publication distributed in 1991 to association members. William M. McBride contacted Ray Ellen, who gave him full access to Orvill's complete correspondence for the selection of letters to be included in this book originally published in 1994. He omitted some letters not relevant to Howorth, and he excluded some digressions and personal comments to Ray Ellen from those letters that were selected. McBride wrote an Introduction, plus each chapter has introductory comments about Howorth's history and the letters, which are arranged in chronological order. There are also notes, a glossary, and a bibliographic note that reflect McBride's thorough research. The book ends with a long touching letter from Orvill to his wife dated July 30, 1944, to be delivered by his father only in the event of his death.


Orvill and Ray Ellen Raines outside
apartment building in New Orleans,
where he was stationed initially

1. The account of the kamikaze attack on Howorth comes from p. 13 of the book. Other sources have conflicting numbers of kamikaze aircraft that attacked Howorth and that were shot down by the destroyer's gunners on April 6, 1945.


Howorth Memorial Plaque at
National Museum of the Pacific War
(Fredericksburg, Texas)


Howorth DD- 592 - History

A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History

When hostilities broke out in Korea in June 1950, the HAMNER was among the first U.S. ships to bombard Communist shore positions. She took her crew into action at Yongdok and Pohang Dong and in support of the amphibious operations against Inchon on 15 September 1950. Later service in Korean waters included operations around Kojo and Wonsan. Throughout her long career, the HAMNER returned regularly to the Western Pacific, visiting ports in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Australia. In December 1958, she was part of Taiwan Patrol Force 31 in the aftermath of the crisis over Quemoy and Matsu.

Stateside, the HAMNER’s home port was San Diego where she returned in January 1962 after her Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) conversion in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. Subsequent operations in the Western

Pacific took her to South Vietnam early in 1965. On 20 May, she was off the coast of South Vietnam, shelling Communist positions in the U.S. Navy’s first shore bombardment since the Korean War. The gun crews of the 'Dragon Wagon,' as she came to be called, bombarded the Trung Phan area in June and the following month, covered the landing of Marines from the IWO JIMA (LPH-2) at Qui Nhon.

In October 1966, a fire aboard the USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) brought the HAMNER to the carrier’s aid. For hours her crew sprayed water on the burning ship, bringing the blaze under control and cooling the charred and buckled bulkheads. Back off Vietnam in November, the HAMNER’s gun crews concentrated on shelling junks carrying supplies to the Viet Cong. Within a fortnight, they had destroyed sixty-seven craft. Enemy shore batteries sprayed the HAMNER and the JOHN R. CRAIG (DD-885) with shrapnel, but the guns of the two destroyers soon hammered them to silence.

Home again in San Diego in 1967, the HAMNER operated as an antisubmarine warfare school ship. During the spring, she was plagued by gyro and boiler problems as well as DASH drone and torpedo malfunctions. By early fall, however, all systems were functioning, the drone had been replaced, and she was headed for the Western Pacific.

Back on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf in October, the HAMNER operated as screen commander for the USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43). She was again beset by boiler problems, but that did not keep her from joining the USS ORLECK (DD-886) in the search and recovery of five of the six crew members in the crash of a SH3A Helicopter. Their recovery effort was not as successful two days later, when a seaman drove a tractor off the carrier’s flight deck. Neither seaman nor tractor were recovered.

Steaming off the coast of South Vietnam for ten days in November, the HAMNER fired 1,138 rounds of five-inch ammunition and then headed for North Vietnam. There, in December, she rode shotgun as the HMAS PERTH (D-38) shelled targets ashore. The subsequent breakdown of her MK-1A fire control computer and the loss of fire control capabilities sent the destroyer back to plane guard and screening duties. At 0130 Christmas morning, she was life guarding the USS RANGER (CVA-61) when one of the carrier’s men went overboard. The destroyer was immediately on the scene, and when the man made no effort to hold onto life lines thrown to him, one of the HAMNER’s crew jumped in and brought the panicked man to safety.

The HAMNER began 1968 with a newly repaired MK-1A computer and returned to the gun line. On 27 January, she began intensive gunfire support during the Tet counteroffensive operations near the demilitarized zone. Her gunners successfully targeted enemy installations and their spotters who had been directing fire at U.S. forces. In one instance, the ship’s gunners walked their fire along a tree line, putting concealed spotters to flight. Her fire control team continued to work closely with U.S. Marine spotters ashore. Initially, two North Vietnamese battalions outnumbered the Marines, and the HAMNER earned a heart-felt 'Well done, and thanks!' for the Marine’s ultimate success and lives saved.

Operating next off Hue City, the HAMNER delivered harassing and interdiction fire that effectively interrupted enemy supply and infiltration routes into the city. On 12 February 1968, she supported U.S. Army units fighting three miles west of Hue. To reach the inland targets, the ship stationed herself within one mile of the beach. Explosions followed by congratulatory reports from Army spotters, told the ship’s gunners of their success. They then resumed call-fire missions with Marine spotters ashore. At the end of twenty days on the gun line, the HAMNER had fired 7,298 five-inch projectiles, averaging one round every four minutes.

The HAMNER was definitely in need of her scheduled four-month overhaul at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. She returned to the Tonkin Gulf in mid-1969 and spent the better part of the next three years in the Western Pacific. There, she alternated between plane guard and search and rescue duties and shore bombardment. In 1971, she spent her twenty-fifth anniversary in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard undergoing a regular overhaul. The year 1972 was highlighted by the HAMNER’s dramatic April rescue of the pilot of a downed A-7 attack plane in Haiphong Harbor. Under heavy fire from shore batteries, the destroyer steamed into the harbor with guns blazing. Her crew plucked the pilot from the waters, escaping without casualties to the ship or the men aboard.


Kamikaze Images

About half of this book covers histories of individual Fletcher-class destroyers, which read like encyclopedia entries with no personal stories. Although the destroyer USS Kidd (DD-661) gets top billing in the title, only about ten pages, including photographs, deal with the ship's wartime history. Another six pages, probably the book's most interesting part, tell the story of the destroyer's becoming a museum ship in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The last section of about 50 pages gives brief biographical sketches of several hundred Fletcher-class destroyer veterans with wartime and current photos of many of them.

Although the book includes many historical photos, it does not grab a reader's attention with its heavy reliance on ship action reports and deck logs for historical accounts. The authors include no bibliography of sources. The history of the destroyer Kidd does not contain enough details or personal stories to satisfy a reader, and the combination of the history of Kidd with all other Fletcher-class destroyers does not increase the book's appeal.

On April 11, 1945, the destroyer Kidd got hit by a bomb-carrying kamikaze aircraft that killed 38 men and wounded 55. The attack is described in the book as follows (p. 18):

The Black was 1500 yards off the starboard beam of the Kidd. At 1409 hours, one of the enemy singe engine planes descended to near water level and made a run on the Black. The plane appeared that it would hit her, but it passed over the Black and came in at the Kidd. The Kidd's starboard 20s and 40s fired steadily at the plane. The 5-inch guns could not be used because the Black was directly in line of fire behind the plane. Gunners hit the plane several times, but its momentum carried it into the Kidd on the starboard side. It tore through the hull into the forward fireroom five feet above the waterline. The plane crossed the fireroom from starboard to port where it came to rest. The 500 pound bomb it was carrying tore through the port side of the hull and exploded just outside. This blew shrapnel all over the portside superstructure and opened the fireroom to the sea.

The authors make no mention of the plane type that hit Kidd, but the Japanese book Tokkō pairotto o sagase: Umoreta rekishi no nazo o horiokoshita shinjitsu no kiroku (Finding a kamikaze pilot: Record of truth uncovered regarding puzzle of his hidden history) published in 2005 concluded that the Zero fighter piloted by Lieutenant Junior Grade Shigehisa Yaguchi crashed into the destroyer.

The US Navy built 175 Fletcher-class destroyers during World War II. The following nine sank in Japanese kamikaze attacks:

  • Abner Read (DD-526)
  • Bush (DD-529)
  • Colhoun (DD-801)
  • Little (DD-803)
  • Luce (DD-522)
  • Morrison (DD-560)
  • Pringle (DD-477)
  • Twiggs (DD-591)
  • William D. Porter (DD-579)

Abner Read sank in the Philippines, and the other eight Fletcher-class destroyers sank during the Battle of Okinawa.

The section on Fletcher-class destroyers also describes damage suffered by the following ships due to kamikaze attacks: Bennett (DD-473), Braine (DD-630), Cassin Young (DD-793), Evans (DD-552), Hazelwood (DD 531), Howorth (DD-592), Isherwood (DD-520), Kimberly (DD-521), Leutze (DD-481), Newcomb (DD-586), Sigsbee (DD-502), and Stanly (DD-478). Cassin Young (DD-793), located in Boston, serves as another Fletcher-class museum ship.


USS Leutze (DD-481) showing damage from kamikaze hit


Ships similar to or like USS Howorth (DD-592)

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Contents

After a shakedown cruise, Howorth was assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesRon   21). The flotilla set sail on 22 July 1944, as part of the escort for a convoy carrying Marines to Pearl Harbor. The convoy arrived after seven days at sea, and Howorth remained in Hawaii until 25 August, at which point she sailed for Hollandia, along with the ammunition ship Sangay. Howorth was assigned to Destroyer Division   41 (DesDiv   41), of the 7th Fleet. Her first combat experience was in the Solomon Islands on anti-submarine and escort duty.

The Philippines

Howorth arrived off Leyte on 22 October, three days after the initial landings began. She guarded the transport anchorages during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and did not see direct action during the battle. Howorth made several convoy trips to Kossol Roads, Guam, and Manus, before returning to the Philippines for the battle at Ormoc on 7 December 1944. Howorth also participated in the Battle of Mindoro, during which she was attacked by several kamikazes, one of which slightly damaged Howorth ' s mast before the plane crashed into the sea.

On 9 January 1945, the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf began. Howorth arrived with the first reinforcement group four days later on the 13th, which came under kamikaze attacks while en route. Howorth provided fire support to the invasion forces, provided anti-aircraft support for the invasion fleet, and patrolled the flanks of the fleet.

Iwo Jima

Howorth also took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima, arriving on 19 February. Howorth again provided fire support and anti-aircraft protection during the invasion and subsequent fighting on Iwo Jima. On 14 March, Howorth departed Iwo Jima for a short rest at Ulithi.

Okinawa

Howorth was assigned to screen a convoy from Ulithi bound for Okinawa, arriving on 1 April. After arrival at Okinawa, she again provided fire support and anti-aircraft defense. On her first day off Okinawa, Howorth was moving to her station with the cruiser St. Louis and destroyer Newcomb, when she was attacked by eight kamikazes. One made it through the ships' anti-aircraft fire and struck Howorth in her superstructure, killing seven men and causing a fire that was quickly put out. [1]

Following the damage sustained at Okinawa, Howorth returned to the United States for repairs. She arrived at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California on 2 May 1945. Repairs were completed by early July, and after a brief shakedown cruise in July, she set sail for Pearl Harbor on 15 July. The ship was en route to Adak, Alaska on 15 August, when the news of the Japanese surrender reached the ship.

Post-war

Howorth arrived in Yokohama, Japan on 17 September, where she escorted convoys back from Japan. Her final trip from Japan was on 11 November, and arrived in San Francisco on the 28th of that month. The ship was decommissioned on 30 April 1946, and was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained in reserve until 8 March 1962 when she was sunk in the Pacific Ocean off San Clemente Island, California, as a torpedo target by the submarines USS   Volador   (SS-490) and USS   Salmon   (SS-573) . [2]


Howorth DD- 592 - History

Squadron Signal's
US Navy Ship's Camouflage WWII Pt. 1
Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts
Reviewed by Tracy White

In order to better describe some aspects of the book I would like to take a step back for a minute and give a brief description and history of US Naval Camouflage. During the Spanish-American war, many US vessels used a dark slate color known by a few different names, including slate, Battleship Gray, "War Color," and it's official name of Standard Navy Gray. This color existed in use through the first world war but was phased out in the 20s and replaced with the creation of the Standard Navy Gray #5 we know as "prewar gray" in 1919. By the mid to late 1930's, the Navy was experimenting with camouflage again, and by 1940 large-scale testing was done with destroyer squadrons in the annual "Fleet Problem."

1941 was a year of great change for the US Navy in terms of camouflage, with the release of the official "SHIPS-2" Camouflage instructions in January of 1941 and a subsequent revision in October. Nine separate camouflage designs, known as measures, were released with the first SHIPS-2 Four were camouflage for surface ships (Measures 1-5), four were not designed to hide, but to confuse by attempting to mask speed or make one type of ship look like another (Measures 5-8), and the ninth was for submarines.

Measure 1 was a Dark Gray camouflage Measure 2 was graded, with darker paints changing to progressively lighter paints as the ship went up and Measure 3 was a light paint system designed more for hazy and bad weather theaters. When the US Navy began revising SHIPS-2 (there would be three official revisions during the war and some later ones that were not re-issued as an all-new SHIPS-2) they kept the five original Measures and modified them in terms of the colors used the revised measures were simply renamed with an extra "1" in front, so Measure 1 became Measure 11, then later Measure 21 when it was modified again. Likewise, Measure 2 became Measure 12, which became Measure 22. When the Measure 31/32/33 "Dazzle" schemes were released, this convention did not apply as much other than the fact that Measure 1/11/21 and 31 were the "Dark" color systems and Measures 3/13/23 and 33 were "light" systems. These dazzle schemes were unique patterns that were created by overlaying a master pattern over the silhouette of particular class or type of ship and creating unique designs for each side and surface.

That is a brief history of the "system" of the Navy's camouflage to help understand a bit about what we are discussing below for more information I would suggest the excellent (and ModelWarships.Com sponsor) ShipCamouflage.Com and my own site's section on WWII US Naval Camouflage here.

In reading through this book, it is clear from the first paragraph that the author's understanding of USN Camouflage is limited suggesting he put together quick descriptions from other sources and did not really study the subject enough to reliably understand what he was writing about. Moreover, unfortunately for the artwork mentioned above, this lack of knowledge was passed on to the artist, who pulled off more than a couple of well but incorrectly rendered profiles. There is also evidence of either poor or a complete lack of editing in the form of numerous typos for example USS Fletcher is referred to as DD-448 in a caption on page 2 and there are at least two instances where a Navy base at "Pear Harbor" is referenced (pages 6 and 66).

There is a one page introduction that covers the general history from the First World War through the end of the Second. "Splinter" schemes, as they are labelled, are also said to have been referred to as "piebald schemes." Piebald refers to a black and white coloring, and skew bald refers to white and any other color, but neither term was ever used in official documentation of the US or Royal navies. #5 Standard Navy Gray is listed as being adopted in 1928 it actually dates to 1919 when it replaced the earlier Standard Navy Gray. Adoption of the new gray was slow due to budget constraints following the end of the first world war. Later in the introduction, it is stated that the terms "Measure" and "System" were used interchangeably, which is incorrect. There was Measure 1, the "Dark Gray System," but one never sees "System 1" or "Dark Gray Measure" in manuals or correspondence. Measure was used with a number following, and "System" would be used with terms like "dark" "medium" or "Light." Measure 31 was the "Dark Pattern System" for example.

The introduction would lead the reader to believe that US camouflage experiments started in the waters off of Hawaii in 1940 with DESRON FIVE, in fact, experimentation started well before the 1940's and saw DESDIVs SIX and SEVEN painted completely black up to the topmasts, above which was to be "War Color." The experiments the author is referring to were not actually ordered until October of 1941 and the Navy Blue Measure 1C scheme not until late November. While the book states that 5-S was found to be the most effective, textual records state the opposite, the report from the Commander of Destroyers, Battle Force, stated, "The various paint shades in order of their effectiveness in concealing ships from aerial observers are (1) Sapphire Blue, (2) Formula 5-D, (3) Formula 5-N, and (4) Formula 5-S." (http://www.shipcamouflage.com/pearl_harbor_experiments.htm - Second document)

Cavite Blue is stated to have been applied in early 1942, when it actually started in the fall of 1941. (Reference One, Two, and three) The last paragraph of the introduction continues the stream of mistakes and completely fails to mention the amphibious green camouflage measures painted on destroyers and destroyer escorts converted to APDs and provides no mention of the 1945 shift to neutral gray paints due to the shortage of blue pigments the Navy faced in 1944. No mention of either is ever made or shown in the book text or artwork.

Following the introduction are two pages of black and white First World War DD photos, but the bottom of the second page contains a color profile of a Fletcher class DD in 1943 camouflage. At this point in the book no mention of the WWII dazzle schemes has been made and the text does not distinguish this as a second world war scheme or destroyer, which may lead to some confusion.

Measure 1
The wording is a bit unclear and items that apply to other measures, such as hull number height and color, are only mentioned in this section. Four photos showing some of the variation are presented but two are zoomed in, very grainy shots, and a third is taken off the bow where most of the detail differences is not visible.

Measure 2
There is no mention of a curve to follow sheer line in some cases, even though the photo of DD-423 GLEAVES shows this variation. There is more poor photographic reproductions in this section, with the photo of DD-428 Charles F. Hughes credited to Elsilrac looking to be a blown-up photocopy. I would hope that this is a reflection upon Squadron and not Elsilrac. A caption erroneously states turret tops "were not installed" when they were the open top type.

Measure 3
The first paragraph of this section does not contain a sentence that is free from error. It states that the prewar #5 Standard Navy Gray was the same as 5-L Light gray, which is completely incorrect. While they were both a light gray tone, the prewar gray was much glossier and lacks the slight bluish tone of the 5-L Light Gray. Only one photo is given, and it is of a pre-war DD-420 BUCK. A sentence is dedicated to the fact that wood decks were to remain unpainted, even though US Destroyers did not have wood decks.

Measure 4
This section is mostly correct, although once again it mentions directions for wooden decks, when US Navy destroyers decks were all metal.

Measure 5
The text for Measure 5 is mostly correct the biggest error is a photo of DD-492 BAILEY purporting to show her with a false bow wave. It is easily apparent that this photo does not show a Ms5 wave, but REAL wave with wet hulls sides and paint aft. Considering that BAILEY was not even commissioned until after Measure 5 bow waves were obsolete, this is a rather glaring error.

Measure 11
States SHIPS-2 rev 1 was issued 1 September, 1941, but this revision was not actually issued until October 15th of that year. The book makes no mention that before Measure 21 was officially codified in July of 1942, a good number of ships were painted into Measure 11 with 5-N substituted for 5-S. This can cause confusion when people read that a ship was painted in Measure 11 but not understand that 5-S was somewhat short-lived in the fleet and that in many cases Measure 11 and 21 were essentially the same thing.

Measure 12
The Measure 12 section contains a couple of minor errors (such as the statement that canvas was to be painted 20-B in actuality it was to be dyed. Not much difference to a modeler) and a couple of caption errors (Page 14's photo of DD-220 MACLEISH is captioned to the effect that she has only two colors in her Measure 12 scheme when moderate inspection shows she is wearing the normal three). The biggest disappointments are the total lack of photos of standard Measure 12 and any mention that Measure 12 Revised often used 5-N Navy Blue in place of 5-S Sea Blue after the manufacture of Sea Blue was discontinued. In fact, other than mention in the first paragraph it would seem that Ms 12 was only the splotched Measure 12 in the eyes of the author.

Measure 13
Other than DD-239 OVERTON, I can find no example of a destroyer or destroyer escort in Measure 13 during the war. Measure 13 came into wide-spread use after the war, when the Navy had switched paint formulas to neutral colors due to a shortage in blue pigment. No mention is made in the book at all about this switch, nor that the "Haze Gray" post war was not 5-H, but a newer "#27 Haze Gray" that lacked the subtle blueish tone of the wartime 5-H.

Measure 14
The information in this section is correct with the exception of a caption that states the overhang forward of the bridge on DD-138 Kennison was painted in 20-B when in actuality it is just shadow.

Measure 15
Measure 15 lists "speculative" colors including 5-S Sea Blue, despite the fact that the color was no longer being manufactured and was being used up on less important ships and craft. Why would you test a NEW scheme using old colors you didn't have in production any more?

Mountbatten Pink
It is stated that Mountbatten Pink was "carried on both horizontal & vertical surfaces." There are no known color shots, and textual records as to when and the few B&W's from about the right time seem to show deck blue, at the very least a darker color than Mountbatten pink. Additionally, the Royal Navy DID NOT paint it on horizontal surfaces. The photo of USS Phelps in this section was shot when she was Measure 21, not Mountbatten pink.

Comments on Measures 15-18
While the author states Ms 15 & 16 "appear to have influenced" the MS 3X dazzle schems, no mention is made of Measure 17, the true forerunner of these measures. Measure 15 is covered despite the fact that only one destroyer (Hobson DD-464) was painted in it no mention is made of Measure 18 which was similar to Measure 22, but the 5-N band followed the sheer line and therefore curved upwards near the bow. Considering that Measures 11 and 15 were covered, in which only one Destroyer has been known to have been painted in, and there were at least six DDs in Ms 18, this is an omission I wish did not exist.

Measure 21
This section states that when the Navy began painting over the dazzle schemes in response to Kamikaze attacks, the US Navy started painting ships in Measure 22 In fact the Navy instituted a program wherein Measure 21 was painted on odd numbered squadron ships and Measure 22 was painted on even numbered squadrons: Serial 631: Camouflage Instructions - Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, Destroyer Escorts, Assigned to the Pacific Fleet.

Measure 22
The section on Measure 22 States that Ms 22 was an outgrowth of Ms2, when it was really an outgrowth of Ms 12, which was the true replacement for Measure 2. The second paragraph states that white WAS to be applied on the bottom of overhangs to counter-shade and lighten shadows in actuality the SHIPS-2 directive stated that white COULD be applied if desired. Following this, the next paragraph states that Measure 22 was first used in 1943, but the SHIPS-2 that first defined it was released in June of 1942 and there are many ships in the ShipCamouflage.Com destroyer database showing Ms 22 in 1942.

Measure 31
The information and descriptions for Measure 31 are mostly correct, with a decent collection of photos of the different design sheets roughly in numeric/alphabetical order. There are a couple of weaknesses, however one textual and others dealing with the information presented visually. It is stated that measure 31 called out for 5-L, 5-O, and Black to be used on vertical surfaces when in actuality those were the possible colors that the DESIGN SHEET would call out. Pattern 1D, for example, just used 5-L and Black on vertical surfaces, leaving the 5-O only for the deck pattern. 1D is consistently described incorrectly as having 5-O Ocean Gray on vertical surfaces throughout this book.

The pictures sometimes leave something to be desired in their selection and reproduction. There are four photos of ships in pattern 3D, for example, and all of them are showing the starboard side, with no examples of the port side presented. DD-592 Howorth's caption on page 49 describes her Measure 31/21D as "modified" due to a patch of 5-O paint, when in actuality the section is totally black, and the lighter patch is just not in the shadow from the overhang of the bow. The full-page photo of USS Massey DD-778 on page 50 is of such poor reproductive quality as to be nearly useless, with severe grain and over-contrast obliterating most detail it looks like a second generation photo-copy. While it may show the general pattern, those using it to reproduce it on a model may have difficulty placing the lines due to the lack of referencable detail.

Finally, an obscure detail is missed in that some ships of the Benson class (at least) had their 3D patterns swapped port and starboard, which may lead to some confusion in identification of ships.

Measure 32
The last paragraph of this section is pure space filler, once again incorrectly asserting that these schemes were sometimes referred to as piebald. The caption for a photo of DE-530 John M. Bermingham states that she was the last DE constructed for the Navy, which is hard to believe considering that the photo is dated August 1944 and there were several that were commissioned the next year. (DE709 Bray Rizzi, for example, which is also labelled the last DE constructed for the Navy)

The photo of DE-387 Vance on page 54 is so blown-out and light that for most of the ship one cannot tell the difference between the 5-L and 5-O paint. The caption for DE-408 Strauss on page 55 states the 22d pattern called for Black & 5-O Ocean Gray, when the Design sheet actually called out for 5-L Light Gray and Black. Design 13D is described on pages 58 & 59 as consisting of 5-L Light Gray and 5-O Ocean Gray on vertical surfaces when it was actually 5-L and black, with the 5-O used only on the deck pattern. The photo of DE-5 Evarts on page 61 is described as showing her changing from Measure 31 to Measure 32, when examination shows that her paint is just really weathered and an earlier application of Measure 22 is starting to show through.

Measure 33
The first paragraph, which describes the measure, is essentially entirely wrong because it fails to include the variety in the design sheet patterns. It states that there were two colors in Measure 33, when a good number of the sheets have three. It continues on with the statement that all horizontal surfaces were to have a deck pattern, when the majority of the destroyers that wore this measure had a simple, pure deck blue coating. The book also sates that only three DDs were in Measure 33 patterns a check of the shipcamouflage database (which admittedly has errors) reveals two Sumners and three Gearings Gearing herself is stated to have worn 33 / 28d when she never did (in the interest of full disclosure, the ShipCamouflage database did list her as wearing Measure 33 until a couple of months ago it was during the research for the Dragon Gearing kit that we made the determination that the entry was erroneous).

The caption for the photo of DE-231 Cross on page 64 states her camouflage "is unusual in that she carries Measure 33/3d Modified on both the port and starboard side." I'm not quite sure where the mistake lays whether the author was trying to imply it was abnormal for a ship to have the same design on both sides (false in that the vast majority of design patterns were released with patterns for BOTH SIDES of the ship) or if he was trying to state she had the exact same design painted on both sides (also false, as her Navsource page shows). It is true that there were ships that had different design patterns on different sides, or one side of a particular design sheet applied to both sides, and in some cases the port and starboard sides were reversed, but no mention of made of this or any other variations in the text.

Curiously, the last picture in the Measure 33 section is of USS Drayton in her "Blue Beetle" Sapphire blue during experiments before the war while this was probably done to fill up some color-printed space I think it would have been better served with a color shot of a dazzle scheme as there is not a single color dazzle photo in the entire book.

A final correction the photo of Buchanan on the very last page lists the vertical colors as 5-H Haze Gray, 5-O Ocean Gray, and 5-S Sea Blue in actuality the 5-S had been replaced with 5-N Navy Blue.

Pattern 1D is described in many of the mid-book profiles as 5-L/5-O/BK on vertical surfaces when in fact 5-O was only part of the deck pattern and the vertical surfaces were painted only in 5-L/BK. This erroneous description also appears in the Measure 31 section. The USS Compton is listed on page 43 as being in Ms 32/11D when it should be 11A. There is a slight error in the pattern as well one area that is shown as being just 5-O should be 5-O and Black.

Page 52 makes note of the differences in pattern 3D between two ships and states the reason to be that the painters of one "interpreted" the pattern no mention is made that there were different design sheets issued for each class of ship and the two ships being compared are, of course, different classes. While there WAS interpretation of designs in cases where a specific design sheet for a specific class was not available, the failure to mention that there were differences in patterns for different classes leads to a flawed understanding of the camouflage system, in my opinion. Moreover, the caption on page 54 for USS Bray's Ms 32/3D says that an additional panel of 5-L was added to the bow area this is part of the 3D design sheet for the Evarts class and should not be construed as painters interpreting designs.

CONCLUSION AND AFTER WORD:

Squadron/Signal "in Action" books to me were always a good first source of information on a topic not as in-depth as some books but a good amount of information on variants, color, and history of any given topic with a couple pages of color artwork thrown in for good measure. Originally an aircraft-focused series, they have released the odd ship title over the years with an increasing stream the last decade or so. However, with this has come some criticisms some photos displayed "jaggies" from the use of low-resolution jpg images and evidence of quick or limited research on a topic.

The 2009-released "US Navy Ships Camouflage WWII: Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts" regretfully continues this trend and in some areas takes it to new heights. This review was originally started to let the modeler who is potentially interested in the book make a decision based on my impressions, but there were so many errors, and so much that is wrong in this book that I felt it was also necessary to provide a list of corrections so that those who come across this book in the future may have correct information.

The intent of this review is two-fold to both provide merits and flaws in the book as well as to publicly demonstrate to Squadron/Signal that they need to put forth a serious effort if this is remain a viable and trusted line of product.


Watch the video: Dd 592 on two City Circle Tours 1985