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Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea

 
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Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/16/2019 10:48:38 PM   
Dante Fierro


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Found this photo (on Wikipedia) while reading up on US carriers that participated in the Pacific. Pretty amazing.

The caption for this photo reads:

"A mushroom cloud rises after a heavy explosion on board the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942. This is probably the great explosion from the detonation of torpedo warheads stowed in the starboard side of the hangar, aft, that followed an explosion amidships at 1727 hrs. Note USS Yorktown (CV-5) on the horizon in the left center, and destroyer USS Hammann (DD-412) at the extreme left."






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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/17/2019 2:52:53 AM   
BBfanboy


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Hamman made a habit of standing by stricken carriers and it cost her. She was alongside Yorktown after the battle of Midway when an IJN sub fired a spread of torpedoes at the carrier. Hamman caught at least one of them and sank along with Yorktown.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/17/2019 12:11:19 PM   
xj900uk

 

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Thaqtt was a genuine bad accident for the Hamman at Midway. The IJN torpedo detonated her own complement of depth charges as she went down (in about 90 seconds according to eye-witnesses), there were sadly very few survivors from the DD

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/17/2019 7:31:05 PM   
rustysi


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Could've been the result of av-gas fumes that had spread throughout the ship. At least that's the way I've heard it.

_____________________________

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Hume

In every party there is one member who by his all-too-devout pronouncement of the party principles provokes the others to apostasy. Nietzsche

Cave ab homine unius libri. Ltn Prvb

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/17/2019 7:48:12 PM   
Zorch

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: rustysi

Could've been the result of av-gas fumes that had spread throughout the ship. At least that's the way I've heard it.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/NHC/NewPDFs/USN/War%20Damage%20Reports/USN,%20USS%20LEXINGTON%20(CV-2),%20BOMB%20AND%20TORPEDO%20DAMAGE%20-%20Coral%20Sea,%20May%208,%201942%20(LOST%20IN%20ACTION).pdf

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/17/2019 8:06:31 PM   
rustysi


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Zorch


quote:

ORIGINAL: rustysi

Could've been the result of av-gas fumes that had spread throughout the ship. At least that's the way I've heard it.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/NHC/NewPDFs/USN/War%20Damage%20Reports/USN,%20USS%20LEXINGTON%20(CV-2),%20BOMB%20AND%20TORPEDO%20DAMAGE%20-%20Coral%20Sea,%20May%208,%201942%20(LOST%20IN%20ACTION).pdf


Yup, that's the way I heard it. Thanks.

_____________________________

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Hume

In every party there is one member who by his all-too-devout pronouncement of the party principles provokes the others to apostasy. Nietzsche

Cave ab homine unius libri. Ltn Prvb

(in reply to Zorch)
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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/20/2019 9:58:52 AM   
Jonathan Pollard


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I saw a youtube video which has footage of a carrier deck with the letters L E X at the stern. Any idea what ship is in the 14:10 point in the video? Seems too small to be the CV Lexington. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsPSuiISuxU



< Message edited by Jonathan Pollard -- 1/20/2019 10:00:54 AM >


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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/20/2019 11:10:54 AM   
Fishbed


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That is indeed USS Lexington

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/22/2019 2:13:01 PM   
xj900uk

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: rustysi

Could've been the result of av-gas fumes that had spread throughout the ship. At least that's the way I've heard it.


Ther e was a board of enquiry afterwards by the USN to determine why the Lexington caught fire so quickly and burned out of control when the damage it sustained from the IJN attack should have been survivable.
Nobody was blamed but the main problem was identified as follows :

Being an early conversion from a Battle Cruiser, the ship had large av-gas tanks built into its integral structure, and not separate too but supported by the box-like structure (which all pure CV's had).
It was the whip derived by the near misses and not the actual damage which caused the ship to buckle from the shock waves, and the vulnerable av-gas tanks to crack and fracture. Leakages were quickly plugged, but fumes began to spread throughouth the ship.
There was a n unconfirmed report submitted to the board of enquiry that, to rid the ship of its lethal fumes, all the doors and hatches were opened and fans set up to ventilate as many spaces as possible. Apparently one fan began to spark through faulty wiring which caused the initial explosion, although this has always remained unconfirmed.
The ship was still largely outfitted to a peace-time standard, with many inflammable fittings which quickly caught ablaze.

The board of enquiry recommended a lot of damage control training for all ship personnel in as realistic conditions as possible.
Secondly, it recommended the use of inert gasses to purge the av-gas pipes and hoses whenever an air-raid was detected.
Finally it recommended to get rid of all inflammable fittings on board the ships (including the life-vests) and replace with non-inflammable ones. In many cases this meant lots of lining and use of asbestos wherever possible!

It did nothing about the wooden flight decks or the largea mount of wood used in the panelling and building of the ships internal structure, which was specifically to keep weight down and the number of aircraft carried, up.

< Message edited by xj900uk -- 1/22/2019 2:14:17 PM >

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/22/2019 5:21:01 PM   
spence

 

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quote:

There was a n unconfirmed report submitted to the board of enquiry that, to rid the ship of its lethal fumes, all the doors and hatches were opened and fans set up to ventilate as many spaces as possible.


Seems to me that I've read that the DCA on HIJMS Taiho did something similar with similar results. Certainly the one torpedo hit didn't let enough water into the ship to sink it.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/29/2019 2:24:52 PM   
xj900uk

 

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Well I t makes s ense when you think a bout it. An aircraft carrier is a floating bomb, full of thousands of gallons of highly inflammable avgas, not to mention all the bombs and torpedoes kept in the various stores. Of course they would want to dissipate any fumes as soon as possible, it would only take just the one spark or the carelessly unlit match to set off a spectacular chain reaction.

Remember what happened to the USS Liscome Bay, one of the larger CVE's, off Butaritari Island - only one torpedo hit the ship, fired by a Japanese sub, but according to onlookers the ship immediately went up 'like the 4th of July' in a massive fireball as first the bomb magazine and then the avgas tanks immediately exploded in a mega double-explosion.
Out of a crew of over 900, there were only 272 survivors (644 dead or missing), and most of those who survived were actually on deck and blown off it and into the water by the first explosion. USS Liscome Bay has the highest % loss of life in a major US ship ever. One eye-witness reported that the forward elevator was blown so high uo into the sky, it came down c. 3 miles away and damaged a destroyer...

BTW the destruction of Liscome Bay is perhaps best well known for the loss of Ship’s Cook Third Class Doris Miller, the first Afro-American to win the Navy Cross award for his heroic actions at Pearl Harbor (the character played by Cuba Gooding jnr in the movie).
Apparently he survived the initial explosions and was last seen on the ships fan-tail, a ttending to the wounded and helping them to get into the water and away from the fires. He was never seen again.

< Message edited by xj900uk -- 1/29/2019 2:30:25 PM >

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/30/2019 6:45:57 PM   
spence

 

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Liscome Bay was after all a CVE which means that it was a conversion from a merchant ship type and probably compartmented similar to a merchant ship. A ship built from the keel up as a warship would have different and more compartmentation as well as better protected magazines.

Certainly the USS Juneau lost a higher percentage of its crew (10 survivors out of 700 or so
)than Liscome Bay. As did USCGC Escanaba from which there were only 2 survivors out of 105 officers and crew after it blew up (hit a drifting mine?). (I can't name any US ships offhand that sank with all hands in WW2 but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if there were some.) USS Serpens blew up on this date in 1944 (apparently from non-combat causes) with only 2 survivors out of 257 on board at the time.

< Message edited by spence -- 1/31/2019 2:09:43 AM >

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/30/2019 7:00:14 PM   
anarchyintheuk

 

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Most if not all of the survivors of Pillsbury and Edsall were probably executed.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 1/31/2019 1:27:01 AM   
ushakov

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: anarchyintheuk

Most if not all of the survivors of Pillsbury and Edsall were probably executed.

To my knowledge, the Pillsbury was the only US surface warship that outright went down with all hands - there's evidence that there were a few survivors from the Edsall who were murdered later, and probably one from the Asheville who died of wounds, but nothing to suggest anyone was picked from Pillsbury.

There's also the explosion that destroyed the USS Mount Hood at Manus, which killed all of her crew that were onboard at the time and around more on the ships around her:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Mount_Hood_(AE-11)


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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/4/2019 9:55:18 AM   
xj900uk

 

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There's also the destruction of the SS John Burke, a USN ammunition ship (and, I think, designed and built originally as a 'Liberty Ship')
It g ot hit by a Kamikaze and we nt up like a small tactical nuke... no hope for any of its crew or any ships in the immediate vicinity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJcDVbH5q3k

The liberty ships normally carried a crew of 40 sailors & 28 marines/guards/handlers etc, a lthough records are lost so nobody knows how many people were on that ship when it just went up in a mushroom cloud - estimate d at between 7/10 KT explosion. Certainly one of the biggest non-nuclear detonations of the 20th century/

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/4/2019 10:56:14 AM   
fcooke

 

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USS Jarvis - torpedoed off Guadalcanal on the first day of the campaign and sunk by Bettys while trying to retire south - no men came home.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/5/2019 10:29:23 AM   
xj900uk

 

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My Grandfather's vessel (he was in the Merchant Navy during WWI & II), lost with all hands on 4th of March 1943

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_City_of_Pretoria

BTW my Grandmother remarried again very quickly. Her 2nd husband was in the RAF and went missing on 26th December 1943 whilst on a weather reconissance flight off the coast of Denmark, his plane (a semi-retired Stirling) was never found. They had been married nearly 7 weeks.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/5/2019 9:16:17 PM   
BBfanboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: xj900uk

My Grandfather's vessel (he was in the Merchant Navy during WWI & II), lost with all hands on 4th of March 1943

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_City_of_Pretoria

BTW my Grandmother remarried again very quickly. Her 2nd husband was in the RAF and went missing on 26th December 1943 whilst on a weather reconissance flight off the coast of Denmark, his plane (a semi-retired Stirling) was never found. They had been married nearly 7 weeks.

Sad story, especially the seamen who had already had their ships sunk and were returning to England on your grandfather's ship. March 1943 was the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic when Allied ASW was starting to get good licks in on the U-boats, but the subs were still sinking a lot of ships.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/5/2019 9:34:45 PM   
rustysi


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quote:

March 1943 was the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic when Allied ASW was starting to get good licks in on the U-boats, but the subs were still sinking a lot of ships.


And by May it was as if someone threw a switch and the subs were just getting sunk with hardly any successes.

_____________________________

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Hume

In every party there is one member who by his all-too-devout pronouncement of the party principles provokes the others to apostasy. Nietzsche

Cave ab homine unius libri. Ltn Prvb

(in reply to BBfanboy)
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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/5/2019 9:40:30 PM   
BBfanboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: rustysi

quote:

March 1943 was the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic when Allied ASW was starting to get good licks in on the U-boats, but the subs were still sinking a lot of ships.


And by May it was as if someone threw a switch and the subs were just getting sunk with hardly any successes.

I think the cracking of the Enigma code just before that led to the pinpointing of the U-boat positions with their daily report to Doenitz. And there were finally enough escorts for Hunter-Killer groups to chase down the nearby contacts.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/5/2019 10:38:52 PM   
spence

 

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"Convoy" (Middleton?) is a very good book about March 43. There were actually 3 eastbound convoys at sea covered by the book: HX229, HX229A,and SC107. March 43 was the time when convoys began to get very long range aircraft coverage of the Greenland Air Gap. The results were immediate.


In addition both the USN and the USAAF changed their tactics: rather than hunting submarines just any old place they started to commit modern DDs/DEs to hunting submarines near the convoys and forming more (convoy) Support Groups and CVE Hunter-Killer Groups. The USAAF spent 1942 bouncing their bombs off of the sub pens in France. Committing the initially limited number of long range bombers to support of the convoys worked much better.

Also previously the USN tended to view ASW as defensive (similar to the IJN) and committed only the oldest DDs and a few USCG cutters to convoy escort duties (where by 1943 they were getting overwhelmed by the relative hordes of Uboats).

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/6/2019 7:05:52 AM   
BBfanboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: spence

"Convoy" (Middleton?) is a very good book about March 43. There were actually 3 eastbound convoys at sea covered by the book: HX229, HX229A,and SC107. March 43 was the time when convoys began to get very long range aircraft coverage of the Greenland Air Gap. The results were immediate.


In addition both the USN and the USAAF changed their tactics: rather than hunting submarines just any old place they started to commit modern DDs/DEs to hunting submarines near the convoys and forming more (convoy) Support Groups and CVE Hunter-Killer Groups. The USAAF spent 1942 bouncing their bombs off of the sub pens in France. Committing the initially limited number of long range bombers to support of the convoys worked much better.

Also previously the USN tended to view ASW as defensive (similar to the IJN) and committed only the oldest DDs and a few USCG cutters to convoy escort duties (where by 1943 they were getting overwhelmed by the relative hordes of Uboats).

Yes, a number of things came together at that point in the war to finally defeat the U-boats. VLR Liberators, CVEs, DEs, Black Swan type Sloops and Frigates, HF/DF, radar on smaller escort vessels, DCs capable of 600 foot depth, better intel, better tactics, better training, etc. Did you know that scientists were hired to figure out the best D/C pattern for an attack. The optimum trade-off between effectiveness and D/C expenditure turned out to be 10: two off the racks, two from the throwers, two more off the rack, two from the throwers and a final two more from the rack.

As for the use of old vessels, the British and Commonwealth countries were in the same fix when their war started. At least the US had some time to observe what was happening and start the planning for all the ships it needed to build when the time came. The result was a flood of escorts (and merchantmen) that the Germans never imagined could happen.

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No matter how bad a situation is, you can always make it worse. - Chris Hadfield : An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/6/2019 9:41:47 AM   
xj900uk

 

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The hunter-killer ASW ships also had a new electronic listening device, that could fairly accurately pinpoint exactly where the U-Boats were during their transmitting (which usually occurred around the same time of day each morning). One of the earliest and most successful ECM measures!
The U-Boats had to transmit and receive from fairl near to the surface (or on it) and were thus fairly easy to pick off.

< Message edited by xj900uk -- 2/6/2019 9:42:44 AM >

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/6/2019 2:17:20 PM   
Barb


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quote:

ORIGINAL: xj900uk

The hunter-killer ASW ships also had a new electronic listening device, that could fairly accurately pinpoint exactly where the U-Boats were during their transmitting (which usually occurred around the same time of day each morning). One of the earliest and most successful ECM measures!
The U-Boats had to transmit and receive from fairl near to the surface (or on it) and were thus fairly easy to pick off.


HF/DF or "Huff Duff" - High Frequency Detection Finder :) Since quite early in the war these were deployed to some vessels but the number was low. Not more than one per convoy - resulting in approximately direction of the transmission available immediately for the Escort commander. Could be supplemented by land-based HF/DF detections forwarded to convoys (took time obviously).
Later two were assigned to a convoy - one for Escort commanders ship, the other for the rescue ship or some other - ships were positioned to the front and rear of the convoy so intersection of their signals could give away the position of the transmitting sub. The more carried and available to commander the better.

Support groups carried usually their own and as they were not bound to the specific convoy, their primary mission was not only to keep sub away, but to hunt it till exhaustion. Each corvette from the direct convoy escort keeping the sub under till the convoy pass along means much less protection for the ships (and the speed difference of convoy and corvette is really small when in stern-chase). On the other hand the support groups could hunt subs till they got it.

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RE: Explosion, USS Lexington (CV-2) 8 May 1942 - Coral Sea - 2/6/2019 5:53:50 PM   
spence

 

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quote:

HF/DF or "Huff Duff" - High Frequency Detection Finder :) Since quite early in the war these were deployed to some vessels but the number was low. Not more than one per convoy - resulting in approximately direction of the transmission available immediately for the Escort commander.


HFDF existed during the First World War but the equipment was bulky and not amenable to shipboard use. Shore based HFDF stations were able to locate concentrations of Uboats by their transmissions right from the start in WW2. The importance of HFDF became much more decisive when the sets were put on ships within the convoy because the accuracy of the bearings on a signal increased substantially with the reduction in range between the transmitter and the convoy. Multiple bearings could give "a fix" on the transmitter whereas shore stations could only manage "within 25 miles of _____N, ______W (at best). Even if there was only one HFDF set in a convoy the escort could "run down the bearing" of the transmitter (since the transmitter was usually within visual sighting distance or only slightly more than what one can see from a spot a dozen ft above the sea surface - contrasted with 25-35 ft above the sea on the escort).

BTW the set pictured on the load screen in WitP:AE has a serial number approximately 211,000+ larger than the serial number on the set on my first ship: USCGC Duane, one of the ships committed to convoy escort in 1942-early 43.

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