From: El Paso, TX
When comparing Wickes ships with Clemsons, it's clear that they were VERY similar. The armament and overall dimensions were identical (see #1), and about the only difference was the Clemsons had greater displacement due to additional fuel tanks. That's an important point because while there are few opportunities to use the Wickes shipsides, they are nearly identical anyway. That said, we'll still do a full review in order to see the details:
1) Wickes-class DD, DDLR, & DDLRH (0264.bmp):
- 5 unique shipsides and 3 bmp files
- 9 ships
- Arrival dates: All are present on 12/7/41
- Upgrade dates: 2/42 (AA); 5/42 (DDLR, Endurance, AA & Radar, 0086.bmp); 5/43 (DDLRH, AA & ASW, 0087.bmp)
- Conversion options: APD and DE
Unlike the Clemsons, the 12/41 Wickes have no conversion capability, as the 2/42 upgrade is required first. Even then, the only conversion is one-way to the Wickes APD. The 5/42 time frame allows Wickes DDs to upgrade to the DDLR class or convert to DE. Following the 5/42 upgrade no conversions are possible, although curiously the DDLR can upgrade on 5/43 to yet another class, the DDLR-H. All of which is moot since the Wickes-class bmp files are shared concurrently with the Clemson DD classes (thus no "deployment plan").
2) Wickes DE (0088.bmp):
- 0 unique shipsides and 2 bmp files
- 0 ships (all must be created via conversion from the Wickes DD class)
- Arrival dates: N/A
- Upgrade dates: 5/42 (DE, Endurance, AA, ASW & Radar); 4/43 (AA & 0089.bmp)
- Conversion options: None
After the conversion, there's a single upgrade concurrent with the Clemson DELR (using the same bmp file), so once again there isn't a "Wickes-only" shipside deployment plan.
3) Wickes APD (0307.bmp):
- 0 unique shipsides and 1 bmp file
- 7 ships (others may be created via conversion from Wickes DD class)
- Arrival dates: One is present on 12/7/41 while the other 6 arrive on 2/15/42
- Upgrade dates: 10/42 (AA, ASW, & Radar)
- Conversion options: None
Although the Wickes APDs appear on-map before their Clemson sisters, there's no point having "Wickes vs. Clemson" APD shipsides since there's little visible difference, as you can see in this photo comparison between Clemson-class APD Brooks and Wickes-class APD Stringham (#2). Each class has but one upgrade and they both occur on 10/42. However, we'll grant precedence to Wickes and review the color and profile plans here.
But first I invite you to look at this lovely overhead view of APD McKean (#3) - noting in particular how the forward-most Higgins landing boats sit athwart both funnels. In contrast, the original AE 0307.bmp shipside (and the new one from BigB) shifted all boats further to the rear. I tried to rectify that and the result was an unrecognizable mess in which the funnels and boats glommed together. Given that "knowing what you are looking at" is more important than a 5-pixel shift in position, we'll stick with AE convention!
Secondly we'll look at the historical APD conversions, which were quite significant: "To support these special operations (amphibious landings), the Marines needed a fast seaborne transport from the Navy. On 28 November 1938, the Navy’s oldest flush-deck destroyer, USS Manley, underwent the first of several exercises and modifications in quick succession until, by 7 February 1939, her forward two boilers and two stacks were replaced by a berthing compartment for 120 Marines and her four triple torpedo tube mounts were replaced by davits to handle the new Higgins boats. One waist gun was deleted, the other moved to her centerline."
Next we'll go through the deployment plan, because this time there definitely is one!
* 12/7/41: The profile and armament are mostly OK (we'll move the boat crane and improve the rear gun platform), and for colors we'll use the legacy MS-2 paint scheme (dark gray hull and light gray uppers).
* 03-1942: Unlike every other Clemson/Wickes class, the APDs do NOT have an early 1942 upgrade, so the profile does not change at this time. However, there are several photos showing Wickes-class APDs with MS-12 "Modified" camo. Usually this appears as "irregular patches or splotches added to break up the ship's profile", but those applied to the APDs look more like an early form of Dazzle, as can be seen in this photo of APD Gregory (see #4, a pattern I've recreated for the shipside). It's interesting to learn that while most measures were closely controlled (at least in terms of shade and tone), Measure 12 "Modified" was something quite different: "There were no specific instructions on the positioning or shape of the splotches, which were left up to individual captains, yards or maintenance facilities, and the recommended size was frequently disregarded, so that no two ships looked alike."
* 10-1942: This is the first and last APD upgrade, and it adds radar, AA, and ASW. Those additions will alter the profile, but for colors we'll retain the MS-12 camo.
* 05-1943: Every single 1943-and-later APD photo shows them wearing unusual camo patterns featuring large splotches (that of APD McKean (#3) is but one of many examples). It is not Dazzle and it's too late for MS-12 "Modified", so what is it? Well, at least initially, it was this: "Through 1942 the Camouflage Section had issued no instructions for landing craft, PT boats, Tank Landing Ships (LSTs) and other vessels expected to operate close inshore in Pacific jungle conditions, so individual commands resorted to overall green, or ad-hoc camouflage patterns in whatever green or brown paints could be obtained."
Eventually this new system was standardized: "In early 1943 BuShips began the development of a green series parallel to the blue-gray series, but the process was slow and therefore the South Pacific Command as an expedient ordered its amphibious vessels to be repainted in Dark Tropic Green with "tiger stripes" in Light Tropic Green." The official APD-class design was MS-31, sub-type 20-L, which is appended below (#5). Collectively, these ships were fondly known as the "Green Dragons", and the MS-31 plan is the basis for a new 1943 APD shipside.
Here are the new shipsides, in sequence of appearance (Items 6-9):
This concludes the "4-stacker" project. Much larger than originally anticipated, but as usual I learned a LOT during the process, and hopefully you did too. Along the way I also realized that some of the earlier shipsides have issues which need to be addressed (such as the need to place the rear-most deck guns atop the stern platform), so some of the already-previewed art will change. That said, we now have 29 new or modified shipsides, which together will add a great deal of visual variety to this under-appreciated set of ships.
As always, kudos to Big B - without his new art this project would never have started. Next up is to insert the backgrounds, create the shils, and then populate a series of date-based folders. After which I'll set up a DropBox download and post the link (same as was done with the Allied PT Boat Art mod).
< Message edited by Kull -- 7/15/2020 2:28:02 PM >