Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kenneth Sprankle-- Part 2: The Pilot Who Died in the 41-13297 P-40 Tomahawk

From Find-A-Grave.

Kenneth Wayne Sprankle was 17 years old when his family moved to West Virginia.  He never married or had children.

He was killed when his plane stalled coming out of a slow roll and spun into a cliff.

The inscription of his grave in the Punch Bowl reads:  "Kenneth W. Sprankle, Pennsylvania.  1st Lt. 6 AAF Pursuit Sq.  World War II.

April 26, 1915- Jan. 24, 1942."

He is buried at the National memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Plot M289.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time' -- Part 7: Horrendous Losses

The Guadalcanal Campaign ended when the battered Japanese evacuated the island on January and February 1943.

About 30,000 of their men had been lost, along with many ships and over 500 planes.

The United States and its allies lost about 7,000 men, including two aircraft carriers and 480 planes.


Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time'-- Part 6: Brutal Fighting

One reporter, Jack Singer, who worked for the old International News Service, was killed when the aircraft carrier he was on, the USS Wasp, was torpedoed in September and sank.  Singer's final dispatch was written for him by surviving officers from the Wasp.

The fighting on the land was brutal.  In some cases it was hand-to-hand.  Men were clubbed to death, stabbed, strangled.  Hersey wrote that the jungle itself felt malevolent.

Marine Pfc. Robert Leckie remembered:  "It was a darkness without time.  It was an impenetrable darkness.  To the right and left of me rose up these terrible formless things of my imagination.  ... I could not see, but I dared not close my eyes lest the darkness crawl beneath my eyelids and suffocate me."

Mighty Scary Images Here.  --GreGen

Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time'-- Part 5: Marines Proved Themselves Here

The Battle of Guadalcanal began when the Marines landed there on August 7, 1942.

I am writing about the Marines at the Battle of Belleau Wood during Wold War, a fight which earned them the name "Devil Dogs" and proved they could fight the best troops in the world.  Guadalcanal did essentially the same thing during World War II.

Correspondent Richard Tregaskis was with the Marines and his book "Guadalcanal Diary," published in 1943, remains a classic.

There were other journalists along as well.  John Hersey nearly drowned there in a plane crash.  His account of a patrol he went on "Into the Valley," is another classic.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time'-- Part 4: The Japanese Air Strip

"This was the first real test of what's now referred to as the Greatest Generation,"  frank said.  "Going toe-to-toe with an Axis power at the height of their capability, to see whether we had what it would take."

"Guadalcanal was really the testing ground,' he said.  "People talk about Normandy or Iwo Jima ...  but for the generation that fought the war (Guadalcanal) was a very big deal."

The fight for the island began after the Japanese landed there on June 8, 1942, to begin construction of an air strip.

The U.S. and the Allies realized such an airbase would threaten shipping lanes to Australia and decided to seize the island from the Japanese.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time'-- Part 3: Iron Bottom Sound and "Starvation Island"

So many ships were sunk from both sides in one area north of the island that it became known as Iron Bottom Sound.

There were numerous land battles, most of which ended with grim losses for the Japanese, who called Guadalcanal "Starvation Island."

Historian Richard Frank, author of the 1990 book, "Guadalcanal," said, "there's nothing really ... comparable to it in all of World War II, in terms of sustained combat in land, sea and air."

The island essentially was the line drawn in the sand for the two nations.  Despite heavy losses, both sides sent in reinforcements.  Up until now, the mighty Japanese army had rarely tasted defeat in its conquest across the Pacific and Asia.  And, it wasn't clear whether the Americans were up to stopping it.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time"-- Part 2: Six Months of Fighting

Today, Guadalcanal is often eclipsed by the fighting at Iwo Jima and D-Day, but the struggle for Guadalcanal was the first major U.S. ground offensive in the Pacific Theater against the Empire of Japan.

The fighting for the island went on for six months as the United Sates and Japan both poured ships, planes and men into the fight for the jungle-covered island in the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia.

We eat quite often at Popeye's in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and they have a huge wall map of the world and I like to locate the places where the battles of the Pacific took place and Guadalcanal is there.

There were seven major sea battles, often fought at night with torpedoes and search lights.  Several of these encounters were disastrous defeats for the Americans.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Guadalcanal 'A Darkness Without Time'-- Part 1: 75th Anniversary

From the August 10, 2017, Chicago Tribune by Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post.

The Marines began lining the rail of the troop ship before dawn to peer at the distant shape as they approached.

War correspondent Richard Tregaskis remembered things being so quiet he could hear the swish of the water as his vessel steamed toward the island.

It was 6:14 a.m. Friday, August 7, 1942, eight months to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor.

"Suddenly ... I saw a brilliant yellow-green flash of light coming from ... a cruiser on our starboard side.  I saw the red pencil lines of the shells arching through the sky, saw flashes on the dark shore ... where they struck."

It took a second for the booming sound of the guns to reach him, and when it did, he jumped.

They were the opening salvos of the epic World War II battle for the island of Guadalcanal.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kenneth Sprankle-- Part 1: The Pilot Who Died in the P-40 41-13297's Crash

From the Wanderling.

Kenneth Wayne Sprankle was born April 26, 1914 and died January 24, 1942.  He was born in Cloe, Pennsylvania and moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1932 and graduated from West Lafayette High School in 1932.  Next, he attended Purdue University and was a member of the Class of 1938.

Flight training began for him in the summer of 1938 at Randolph Field, Texas, and he received his wings at Kelly Field in 1939.

Assigned initially to Selfridge Field in Michigan, he transferred to Hawaii and survived the Japanese attack there December 7, 1941.  He died a month and a half later in an accident.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

History of the P-40 Tomahawk-- Part 2: Used By Most Allied Air Forces

The P-40 Tomahawk was used by most Allied forces during the war and remained in the front lines of operations for the entire period of the war.

The United States Army Air Corps named the P-40 the Warhawk.  The British and Russian Air Forces used the name "Tomahawk" for the 'B' and 'C' series and Kittyhawk for the 'D' models.

It was powered by an Allison V-1710 and armed with nose and wing mounted Browning machine guns.  Pilots generally avoided high altitude combat due to a lack of a two-stage super charger.  This made combat with the Focke-Wulf 190 and Messerschmidt Bf 109 very dangerous.

At medium to low altitudes the P-40 had good agility.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

History of the P-40 Tomahawk-- Part 1: 3rd Most Produced American Fighter

From Collins Foundation World War II Planes page.

They were built by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation and were single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938.  A total of 13,738 were built between 1939 and 1944, making the aircraft the third most-produces American fighter after the P-51 and P-47.

The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk.  This new design reduced development time and enabled rapid entry into production and operational service.


The Curtiss P-40 B Tomahawk-- Part 3: #41-13297 "Rediscovered" and Restored

This is definitely a plane with a history, even if it had very little war record.

In 1985, the plane was "rediscovered".  After a preliminary investigation it was determined that its air frame was not severely damaged and it could be removed and restored.  Some parts were recovered in 1985 and the rest recovered in 1989.

In 1989, the Curtiss Wright Historical Association in Torrance, California, was formed to restore the plane.  The restoration was named "Project Tomahawk."

Whenever possible, parts of the original plane were used.  Two other P-40 Bs, the 39-287, that also crashed in Hawaii in 1941 and the 39-287, that crashed in a severe storm over the Sierra Nevadas on October 24, 1941, were utilized for parts.

When it was finished, it joined "The Fighter Collection" at Duxford, United Kingdom.  In 2003, it began flying wearing the same color scheme it had in Hawaii in 1941 as a member of the 18th Pursuit Squadron based at Wheeler Field.


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Curtiss P-40 B Tomahawk #41-13297-- Part 2: In a Hanger During the Attack

The Collins Foundation Tomahawk was made a part of the 19th Pursuit group at Wheeler Field in Hawaii.

In October 1941 it was in a wheels up landing which required repairs.  It was in a hanger when the Japanese attacked and that probably saved it.

It was quickly repaired afterwards and returned to flight worthy status.

However, on January 24, 1942, after just nine months of service and just 56 hours flight time, on a routine training flight it spun out of control and crashed.

The pilot, Lt. Kenneth Wayne Sprankle, was killed.  The crash took place in a rather inaccessible area.  The body was recovered and the plane left in place.

It has since been recovered.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Curtiss P-40 B Tomahawk #41-13297-- Part 1: This One at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941

On July 27, 2017, I wrote about the Winds of Freedom Tour coming to the Executive Airport in Chicagoland.  I, unfortunately, did not get there, but while doing research on their planes found out that one of planes among the Collins Foundation's World War II collection is the only surviving airworthy U.S. fighter from the attack on Pearl Harbor.  However, this plane was not at the show last week.

It was a Curtiss P-40 B Tomahawk fighter like the ones the Americans were flying in the movie "Pearl Harbor."

It was one of the 131 P-40 Bs built at the Curtiss facility in Buffalo, New York, between 1940 and 1941..  Its number is Bu No. 41-13297 and it was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps in March 1941 and sent to Wheeler Field, Hawaii in April.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Why We Can't Stop Watching World War II Movies: "Dunkirk"

From the July 27, 2017, New York Post   "Maureen Callahan:  Why we can't stop watching films about World War II"

"Dunkirk" is doing real well at the box office, earning $56 million in its first three days.

"Why has a drama about one of World War II's lesser-known battles resonated so deeply?"  Even though there is almost no dialogue and under two hours long?  Well, first off, it is not one of the lesser-known battles for people who know about the war.  It might have even won the war.

One reason World War II movies do so well is that it remains one of the more clear-cut examples of good vs. evil.

There are still no end of untold stories to make movies about.

The Civil War still has litigation going on, and to my way of thinking is still being fought. World War I lacked American support and has always been overshadowed by World War II.  (I don't agree with the first part of the statement.)

Vietnam was a catastrophe, but we learned our lessons from it, at least until we got mired down in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Death of Helen Kuwashima-- Part 2: Japanese-American Internee

She was born Helen Bingo on April 7, 1932, in Torrance, California.  She and her family were interned in a  makeshift camp at the Santa Anita racetrack near Los Angeles at the start of World War II.

Her niece Joyce Naka said "They slept in horse stalls.  It was filthy and smelled horrible."

From Santa Anita, she and her family were sent to an internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas, and later one in Tulelake, California.

After the war her family moved to Chicago on the South Side.  Later they settled on the North Side and she attended Tuley High School before graduating from Waller High School, now Lincoln Park High School.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Death of Helen Kuwashima, Japanese Internee and Ukulele Club Founder-- Part 1

From the August 2, 2017, Chicago Tribune  "Ukulele club founder and its driving force" by Joan Giangrasse Kates.

Helen Kuwashima (1932-2017)

She was the daughter of a strawberry farmer in California and spent part of her childhood in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.  She later came to Chicago and became the executive secretary to the president of the National Tea, then one of the largest grocery chains in the United States.

After retiring at age 62, she became a founding member of the Na Kupuna Ukulele Club, a popular performance group known for hula dances and Hawaiian songs.  Prior to forming the club in 1997, she had never even picked up a ukulele


The Plattsburgh Barracks

From Wikipedia.

I have been writing about the Plattsburgh (New York) Barracks for the past week in my War of 1812 blog, Not So Forgotten.  The barracks and town served as the site of the war's Battle of Plattsburgh/Battle of Lake Champlain.

The base saw use during World War II.

In 1939, on the eve of World War II, the barracks hosted the massive U.S. Army maneuvers which was a huge pre-war training operation involving aircraft, tanks and about 20,000 troops.

It was last used as offices and then apartments for personnel at the Plattsburgh Air Force Base into the late 1950s.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

About That Movie "Dunkirk"-- Part 5: A Victory Within A Defeat"

Christopher Nolan's grandfather on his father's side had died in World War II while serving in the Royal Air Force, and, growing up, Nolan had steeped himself in the history of the conflict.  The idea of recounting the story of Dunkirk seemed like a thrilling challenge.

He said:  "There's something very unique about the nature of the denouement.  As Churchill put it, it's a victory within a defeat."

I am going to go back to see it again.  It is one of those movies you need to see twice and on a big screen.  I am also reading the TimeLife magazine on Dunkirk and it even goes into greater detail on the victory with a defeat.  A lot of scenes from the movie came from pictures in this magazine.


August 2: Hindenburg Dies, Einstein and PT-109

From the August 2, 2017, Chicago Tribune.

1934   German President Paul von Hindenburg died, paving the way for Adolf Hitler's complete takeover of the German government.

1939   Albert Einstein signed a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt urging the U.S. to create an atomic weapons research program.

1943   During World War II, a Navy patrol torpedo boat, PT-109, commanded by Lt. John F. Kennedy, sank, after being rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands.

(The future president was credited with saving members of his crew, and he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism and the Purple Heart.)