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Submersible Aircraft Carriers

Article #264 • Written by Alan Bellows

Yokosuka E14Y floatplane
Yokosuka E14Y floatplane

On 09 September 1942, at about 6:00am Pacific War Time, a lookout on the US Oregon coast spotted a single incoming aircraft. The small, unmarked biplane plane sputtered and popped as it flew through the dawn mist. It slowly made its way over a heavily wooded area outside of Brookings, Oregon which was known to be particularly prone to forest fires, and its pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped a pair of 170 lb incendiary bombs from a low altitude. Soon a column of smoke became visible from the forest as the strange plane turned around, its distinct engine noise fading back towards the ocean.

Immediately, Howard "Razz" Gardner--the lookout who had first spotted the aircraft--dove into the thick forest to battle the developing blaze. By the time the larger support crew penetrated the woods with their firefighting equipment four and a half hours later, Gardner and a fellow lookout had managed to wrestle the fire into submission. As the crew helped to mop up the last of the smoldering mess, the investigators found the remains of the offending ordnance. The fragments of the phosphorus incendiary bombs were stamped with Japanese markings.

The event came to be known as the Lookout Air Raid, and it marked the first time that the continental United States was bombed by an enemy aircraft. It was determined that the aircraft responsible was a Yokosuka E14Y floatplane, and that it had managed to reach the US coast because it had been launched from an unlikely platform: a Japanese submarine lingering just offshore.

The HMS M2 submarine launching its plane
The HMS M2 submarine launching its plane

The world's militaries had been dabbling in submersible aircraft carriers for decades, but the technology had long proven problematic. In the mid-1920s the British Royal Navy became the first to build a working prototype. An experimental single-plane hangar was fitted to the front of the conning tower on the HMS M2 submarine, providing the vessel with an airborne reconnaissance vehicle. The unarmed, lightweight biplane was crafted from wood, fabric, aluminum, and steel, and while not in use it sat nestled inside its tiny sealed cocoon with its delicate wings folded.

Once the submarine reached the surface, the plane's support crew could open the watertight vault door, extract the slumbering aircraft, unfurl its wings, and start the engine. Within minutes, a steam-powered catapult would heave the vehicle into the sky with its crew of two to scan the sea for enemy ships. When the scouting mission was complete the pilot would land the pontooned plane in the water alongside the submarine. A crane arm could then snag the aircraft and winch it back aboard, where it would once again be stuffed into its nook to await future flights.

The project showed some promise, but in 1932 the M2 mysteriously sunk with all hands lost. Though the exact circumstances were never determined, the sinking was blamed on water entering through the hangar door. Due to the design's dubious utility and inherent vulnerability, the Royal Navy decided to abandon the concept of submersible aircraft carriers.

Many other militaries continued to tinker with the contraptions, however, such as the French Surcouf submarine which was completed in 1934. It was the most massive submarine ever constructed, bristling with weapons and sporting a single-plane hangar in the style of the M2. When the French surrendered to the invading Nazis in 1940, the British Royal Navy blockaded the French ships in their ports to prevent them from falling into the hands of the German Kriegsmarine. Each was given the option to rejoin the war against Germany, or be destroyed.

The Surcouf
The Surcouf

After a brief exchange of fire between the Surcouf and the British left several sailors dead, the French submarine relented.

The battle drove a wedge of suspicion between the submariners and their new commanders, but the giant sub worked in uneasy cooperation with the Allies in the early years of the war. Its true potential was never realized, however, due to a collision with an American freighter in 1942 which sunk the Surcouf with all hands lost. Due to the precarious nature of the French crew's allegiance, many suspected that the sinking was deliberate, though no evidence was ever found to support this theory.

Following the expensive failures of the M2 and the Surcouf, the United States and Italy abandoned their plans to construct similar vessels. But the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) managed to quietly master the art, and during the war the majority of their sub fleet included integrated aircraft hangars. Most of them-- including the I-25 which launched the attack in Oregon-- were single-plane hangars similar to the English and French efforts before them. But throughout the war the IJN significantly improved upon the submersible aircraft carrier concept.

Japan's first attempt to expand the platform was their AM Type submarines which carried a pair of bomber planes, but these suffered from poor underwater performance and they proved ineffective. The lessons learned from the AM Type, however, led to the development of the Sen Toku, Japan's most menacing oceangoing weapon. Translated literally as "secret submarine attack", the Sen Toku was developed for a single purpose: to launch a surprise attack against targets on the east coast of the United States. The Allies had won the war in Europe, so the bulk of the United States' military equipment was concentrated in the Pacific theater. Japanese military planners considered using their versatile new weapons to sneak up on Washington DC or New York, but they ultimately settled upon a plan to attack the the Panama Canal from the east where defenses were practically non-existent. The first two Sen Toku vessels set sail for Panama in mid-1945.

The I-400 Series and its Seiran bomber
The I-400 Series and its Seiran bomber

The I-400 and I-401 were the largest submarines the world had ever seen, each of them crewed by almost 200 men. They had a range of 37,500 miles, enough to circumnavigate the globe one and a half times. Nestled inside each submarines' hangar was a set of three fast and agile dive bombers called Seiran, a Japanese word meaning "storm from a clear sky." Once the subs rounded the tip of Africa and crossed the Atlantic, their mission would be to emerge from the sea, open the giant hangar doors, and thrust their attack planes into the undefended skies of Panama. The Seiran would then bomb the locks unhindered. If successful, such an attack would spill Gatun Lake into the locks and ruin the machinery, severely crippling US shipping and supply efforts.

For months the submarine aircraft carrier crews practiced and perfected their attack strategy for the Panama run. None of the pilots were expected to survive the attack, so each was presented with a tokko short sword which symbolized the ultimate sacrifice. It was to be an utterly victorious surprise attack reminiscent of Pearl Harbor.

Shortly after getting underway, however, the Sen Toku and their attendant submarines were ordered to return in order to deflect an imminent Allied invasion of the Japanese homeland. The fleet turned back and steamed for the Allied base at Ulithi Atoll , but as they approached their target the crews received orders to catapult their planes into the sea and fire their torpedoes without arming them. Japan had surrendered in the wake of a pair of atomic attacks. The war was over. Captain Ariizumi, the commander of the submarine fleet, chose suicide over the shame of surrendering to the Americans.

In late August 1945, about two weeks after the end of hostilities, a United States Navy destroyer intercepted the unfamiliar Japanese submarines as they made for their home port. As the US sailors sidled alongside, they were astonished by the size of the behemoths. They were much more massive than any built before them, four hundred feet in length and three times larger than typical submarines.

The crew of the I-400 shortly after surrender
The crew of the I-400 shortly after surrender

In addition to their empty airtight hangars, each Sen Toku had four anti-aircraft guns, eight torpedo tubes, and a sizable deck cannon. The subs were each powered by four 7,700 horsepower diesel engines, and they could operate at a depth of 330 feet. Clearly the I-400 series submarines would have been formidable weapons had they even seen action.

Once the virgin vessels reached Japan's Sasebo Bay, a team of US Navy experts immediately began to scrutinize the technology of the three working Sen Toku vessels. The technicians marveled at the huge hangars and the innovative figure-eight hull reinforcements, but their investigations were cut short when they were informed that the Soviets were sending a team to inspect the captured submarines. Rather than allowing the Soviets access to the advanced technology, the Americans instituted Operation Road's End. Two of the subs were packed with C-2 explosives and scuttled off the Japanese coast, and the others were sailed to Hawaii where further secret inspections occurred before they were also destroyed at sea.

The Japanese Sen Toku were the last of their kind. No submersible aircraft carriers have been built since, though the idea does occasionally spark the interest of modern militaries as a means to approach with stealth and attack without warning. In spite of the technical challenges involved, the concept is certainly strategically appealing. Indeed, had the I-400 vessels set off for the Panama Canal just a few months sooner, the storm they brought with them might have altered the course of the war by shattering the critical US supply route through Panama. In some ways, the Allies' victory in the Second World War was much narrower than history implies.

Nobuo Fujita standing by his Yokosuka E14Y 'Glen' seaplane.
Nobuo Fujita standing by his Yokosuka E14Y 'Glen' seaplane.
Postscript:

In 1962, seventeen years after Japan surrendered, Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita once again found himself in Oregon. This time he was not dropping firebombs into the forest from a flimsy collapsible plane, rather he was serving as grand marshal of the Azalea Festival in the nearby city of Brookings. The city had invited him as a symbolic clemency from bygones, assuring him that it was not an elaborate ploy to capture the only enemy pilot who had ever bombed the continental US to try him for war crimes.

Fujita donated a 400-year-old samurai sword to the city, and planted a "peace tree" at the site of the bomb crater deep in the forest. After the tree was accidentally trampled by souvenir-seekers, he planted a new one in 1992. He returned to Brookings many times over the years as an "informal ambassador of peace and friendship". He ultimately retired there, and spent his days among Oregonian friends until his death in 1997.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 09 April 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows.
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66 Comments
JPF
Posted 09 April 2007 at 04:38 pm

Great story. I have heard of balloon drops of incendary devices in Washington and Oregon but not this attack.


Sabyrne
Posted 09 April 2007 at 04:53 pm

That is neat.


Cobalt65
Posted 09 April 2007 at 05:18 pm

no way...an article about a military aircraft.......UGH!


Kiwi
Posted 09 April 2007 at 05:22 pm

You would of thought that the first plane would of tried to cause more damage than a little forest fire that two men could put out?


D Hall
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:05 pm

In the story, a "small unmarked biplane" dropped incendiaries, yet it is later identified as a Yokosuka E14Y , which is a monoplane. I know, it is a small quibbling point in a Damn Interesting story.


radish123
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:06 pm

yeah all the nations back then each had weird weapons the Germans experimented with a sound gun the Japanese were also trying to make a death ray using microwaves the British tried to build a whole ship out of ice which would never sink. The U.S also made bat bombs tiny incendiaries attached to the belly of bats that when released was supposed to cause chaos on the Japanese mainland. as for the attacks against the states thats not the first time there was also the balloon bombs and Evan the invasion of the Aleutian island by the Japanese there was also a shelling of California that not many people know about at Goleta.


js305
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:18 pm

It has long been known that the Japanese were convinced that Americans would panic and turn against the war if they (the Japanese) could actually attack the mainland, regardless of how insignificant the actual results might be. This was the reason for the small devices like the ones in the article and also the balloon bombs which by themselves would cause little damage. Unlike today, America during WWII was unified in the war effort. Attacks like these in this day and time might actually have the impact originally desired. Just an opinion.

I had not known of the Japanese submarines in the article. An interesting read!


kenfo
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:41 pm

While I am a much better "scientist" than historian, perhaps I can shed light on this situation:

The Japanese of that era, being not unlike tiny(not midget though!), angry Canadians put so much mental effort into building the huge submarine that they became sleepy and lazy and built a tiny incendiary device. The device was actually a good-sized birthday cake with 1106 candles and two sparklers (thought at the time to be high-tec "phosphorus indendiary bombs"). Modern carbon dating proved it not to be a PIB. While it took Razz a few minutes, he managed to galanty blow out all the candles while his cohort danced around the forest twirling the sparklers. Tree-hugging hippies (yes, they were smelly even then) of the day decried Razz's heroics, complaining his actions endangered the earth with global cooling and that the spotted owl desperately needed the cake to procreate. The Al Gore v.01 robot made a movie about the supposed horrific consequences to come in the next five years, fueled by all the geritol in the area. The greatest generation beat and spat upon AGv.01, forcing him to hide among the hippies for many, many years until they decided the Earth must be warming instead and re-released him to create havoc with the help of Canadian U.N. members.

Had the Japanman dropped the cake on the Panama canal, the serfs would have swarmed and eaten the cake very very quickly indeed; also, the sparklers would get wet and so, little damage again. Thank goodness the nazicanjapafrench were defeated by the gigantic Americans and the pre-french-british of today. They would have dropped cake all over the darned place. The Germans and Russians were never much of a threat. The Germans would have spent 700yrs building the most gigantic technologically advanced cake of all times with nukular candles. The Russians would have built a cake that was at least 100x larger, made of potatoes, with beets instead of incendiary devices. They would have dropped it on themselves by accident and interned everyone with 100 miles who saw it happen. My grandfather said the cat food of the day was made by real men and smelled/tasted much better. Ah, the good ole days.


Dr. Evil
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:50 pm

submarines are cool although i think that these days they arent as advanced as they could be, nuclear and all.

my submarine lair is better then all above mentioned submarines. it even has a tank full of sharks with laser beams attached to their fricken heads.


Dr. Evil
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:52 pm

kenfo said: "While I am a much better "scientist" than historian, perhaps I can shed light on this situation:

The Japanese of that era, being not unlike tiny(not midget though!), angry Canadians put so much mental effort into building the huge submarine that they became sleepy and lazy and built a tiny incendiary device. The device was actually a good-sized birthday cake with 1106 candles and two sparklers (thought at the time to be high-tec "phosphorus indendiary bombs"). Modern carbon dating proved it not to be a PIB. While it took Razz a few minutes, he managed to galanty blow out all the candles while his cohort danced around the forest twirling the sparklers. Tree-hugging hippies (yes, they were smelly even then) of the day decried Razz's heroics, complaining his actions endangered the earth with global cooling and that the spotted owl desperately needed the cake to procreate. The Al Gore v.01 robot made a movie about the supposed horrific consequences to come in the next five years, fueled by all the geritol in the area. The greatest generation beat and spat upon AGv.01, forcing him to hide among the hippies for many, many years until they decided the Earth must be warming instead and re-released him to create havoc with the help of Canadian U.N. members.

Had the Japanman dropped the cake on the Panama canal, the serfs would have swarmed and eaten the cake very very quickly indeed; also, the sparklers would get wet and so, little damage again. Thank goodness the nazicanjapafrench were defeated by the gigantic Americans and the pre-french-british of today. They would have dropped cake all over the darned place. The Germans and Russians were never much of a threat. The Germans would have spent 700yrs building the most gigantic technologically advanced cake of all times with nukular candles. The Russians would have built a cake that was at least 100x larger, made of potatoes, with beets instead of incendiary devices. They would have dropped it on themselves by accident and interned everyone with 100 miles who saw it happen. My grandfather said the cat food of the day was made by real men and smelled/tasted much better. Ah, the good ole days."

YOU ARE INSOLENT


radish123
Posted 09 April 2007 at 06:58 pm

Also there were the German spies who were landed in the U.S with a lotta explosives that were supposed to cause havoc to the mighty industrial machine of the U.S at the time they were supposed to bomb may areas but were caught when the leader told the FBI about what was happing it was truly a very interesting time back then


radish123
Posted 09 April 2007 at 07:07 pm

also there was the BSC a British spy ring set up in the U.S The BSC was set up by a Canadian entrepreneur called William Stephenson, working on behalf of the British Secret Intelligence Services (SIS). An office was opened in the Rockefeller Centre in Manhattan with the discreet compliance of Roosevelt and J Edgar Hoover of the FBI. But nobody on the American side of the fence knew what BSC's full agenda was nor, indeed, what would be the massive scale of its operations. What eventually occurred as 1940 became 1941 was that BSC became a huge secret agency of nationwide news manipulation and black propaganda. Pro-British and anti-German stories were planted in American newspapers and broadcast on American radio stations, and simultaneously a campaign of harassment and denigration was set in motion against those organisations perceived to be pro-Nazi or virulently isolationist (such as the notoriously anti-British America First Committee - it had more than a million paid-up members).


radish123
Posted 09 April 2007 at 07:08 pm

sorry i'll shut up now


kenfo
Posted 09 April 2007 at 07:43 pm

Thank you for shutting up. I need some more face time:

So: A Canadian, a wannabe midget and a cross-dressing nazi plotted against Americans? Do you all see what I have been talking about? They most certainly all owned infected cats as well.

Dr. Evil: While I am insolent, I am also an insulator. Like Capt. Scarlett, I am indestrucible. My bowels, however, are quite disfunctional. I am eating something with "mechanically separated chicken". Were the chickens melded via scalar waves? I smell midget aaaaall over this one.


Sabyrne
Posted 09 April 2007 at 09:30 pm

Umm... remember when the wall posts where educated comments equally interesting as the article itself??? What happened to those??? (midgets?!?)


fecalmatters
Posted 09 April 2007 at 09:33 pm

That's what I really like about nuts. They're nuts consistently, so you don't have to try to figure 'em out.


Lisette
Posted 09 April 2007 at 09:41 pm

Awww... not half as DI as I hoped the first article would be. Wassup guys? Spring break wasn't refreshing enough?! Must've been bad cherries in the pie!


Dr. Evil
Posted 09 April 2007 at 10:41 pm

kenfo said: I smell midget aaaaall over this one."

are you dissing my mini-me? :P


kwiksand
Posted 09 April 2007 at 11:02 pm

What a way to destroy such a damn interesting® article, I realise completely that everyones entitled to an opinion, but I can see why a system like the Digg.com commenting system could work well, if done properly.

Good work Alan, your work, still never ceases to amaze me!


crispi
Posted 09 April 2007 at 11:09 pm

An American Los Angeles class sub, armed with multiple BGM-109 Tomahawks, is very much a submersible aircraft carrier. Tomahawks may not be manned, but they're definitely aircraft.


m4gill4
Posted 09 April 2007 at 11:27 pm

The Russians would have built a cake that was at least 100x larger, made of potatoes, with beets instead of incendiary devices. They would have dropped it on themselves by accident and interned everyone with 100 miles who saw it happen. My grandfather said the cat food of the day was made by real men and smelled/tasted much better. Ah, the good ole days."

hilarious!


Plank
Posted 10 April 2007 at 12:13 am

m4gill4 said:

hilarious!"

Please don't encourage him.


vic_rider_7
Posted 10 April 2007 at 12:28 am

Using this technology the Japanese and the Nazis actually conspired to drop the world’s first “dirty bomb” on the NYC area. The dirty bomb would’ve contained 500 pounds of highly radioactive sand which would have been spread around by the bomb detonating approximately 10 thousand feet above the city.

Both Germany and Japan had a nuclear program but Germany’s was more advanced. The plan fell apart when Germany surrendered. The plan was actually in the works. A German U-boat was in route to Japan with the sand and 3 Japanese officials when Germany surrendered. Upon hearing of the news the German U-boat captain placed the Japanese officials under arrest and turned back. The Japanese scientists then committed suicide using cyanide capsules they managed to conceal.


ExperimentNo6
Posted 10 April 2007 at 01:52 am

I think it wouldn't be that hard to make a submersible carrier, considering the size of ballistic missile subs. But as mentioned earlier, carrying Tomahawks is just as good as carrying actual planes.


Tink
Posted 10 April 2007 at 01:53 am

vic_rider_7 said: "...The dirty bomb would’ve contained 500 pounds of highly radioactive sand which would have been spread around by the bomb detonating approximately 10 thousand feet above the city...

The Japanese scientists then committed suicide using cyanide capsules they managed to conceal."

Awww, I thought for a second there that they might have buried their heads in the radioactive sand.
Oh, well, cyanide is still a pretty gruesome way to chicken out.

Wish I could be more interested in this DI article.

Did you know that sea cucumbers and some turtles breath through their butts? LOL ;-)


Bolens
Posted 10 April 2007 at 05:08 am

Another good one, Alan. Freedom isn't free, and your military tomes are as interesting to me as all the rest. Never let the whiners get you down. And I hope your spring break had some break in it!


ieatlettuce
Posted 10 April 2007 at 05:32 am

Tink said:
Did you know that sea cucumbers and some turtles breath through their butts? LOL ;-)"

That's nothing. Kenfo can talk out of his!


vallynmar
Posted 10 April 2007 at 06:50 am

Though I am not a big military history fan, I generally find these articles interesting, as I find this one to be. Thanks Alan and I hope your break was everything you wanted.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 10 April 2007 at 07:29 am

kenfo said:

So: A Canadian, a wannabe midget and a cross-dressing nazi plotted against Americans? Do you all see what I have been talking about? They most certainly all owned infected cats as well.

Don't be silly, Canadians can barely decide what to have for dinner. If you went to Parliament in Ottawa you would see that something as complicated as a plot is just not attainable for a Canadian.


Xiphias
Posted 10 April 2007 at 09:44 am

ExperimentNo6 said: "I think it wouldn't be that hard to make a submersible carrier, considering the size of ballistic missile subs. But as mentioned earlier, carrying Tomahawks is just as good as carrying actual planes."

It seems like missile subs are the natural development of this concept. Launching the planes isn't a problem, you just find an deserted area of sea, surface and warm up the catapults. As long as you're not in radar range then no one will be any the wiser.

But once the planes have reached their target and the enemy knows they're there they can be tracked by radar back to the waiting submarine, who can't run away because he's got to pick up the planes before they run out of fuel.


Hoekstes
Posted 10 April 2007 at 09:45 am

If a tomahawk missile is a plane, then you might argue that a V2 balistic missile is a plane as well. Germany fired those from trucks, so they couldn't have been too far away from firing them from U-boats as well.

* BANG * Then they might have rained down in places other than London.


rev.felix
Posted 10 April 2007 at 09:51 am

Cobalt65 said: "no way…an article about a military aircraft…….UGH!"

It's actually more about the submarines, you could replace all the referances to aircraft with flying purple hippos and the article wouldn't lose much.


st33med
Posted 10 April 2007 at 12:18 pm

Problem is it would be really impractical and slow sub for a hanger to go in it. If they let it stay outside, the water pressure would break the plane like a 1066-candle cake going splat into the ground:). Not to mention that, if they did find a way to have it withstand such pressure, it would possibly make the submarine stay on the surface because of it's wings.

So good luck to the military!


vic_rider_7
Posted 10 April 2007 at 01:04 pm

JPF said: "Great story. I have heard of balloon drops of incendary devices in Washington and Oregon but not this attack."

For a time U.S. scientists experimented with bats which had tiny incendiary devices strapped to them. These bats were intended to be released from low flying bombers over Tokyo where they would seek shelter in wooden buildings and set them on fire. The plan was scrapped when some of the bats escaped during a test and set fire to a couple nearby barns.

A few years back I got a good laugh out of something related to the incendiary balloon thing. Up in our local mountains along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River is a tiny village whose name I won’t mention. Well really it’s more like a trailer park, general store and private campground. They have their very own volunteer fire department. Some of the members of this organization take special pleasure brandishing their authority where they have no business. I’ve dealt with a couple of them.

Anyway a story appeared in our local paper about their former chief. Apparently he spotted the remains of a weather balloon hanging in a tree; using his vast experience in such devices the man immediately determined it to be some sort of bomb, perhaps an incendiary device. Being bullheaded the dude called the sheriff’s bomb squad despite being told by several people the thing was harmless. The man promptly received a demotion for all his trouble.

These devices are quite common; I’ve seen dozens of them. It probably came from Edwards AFB; they release 2 every day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. All they do is track wind direction and humidity. They are disposable once they reach a certain altitude the latex balloon carrying it bursts and the shoebox sized payload safely descends via a paper parachute.


thingummy
Posted 10 April 2007 at 01:09 pm

rev.felix said: "It's actually more about the submarines, you could replace all the referances to aircraft with flying purple hippos and the article wouldn't lose much."

Well.. it would certainly be much more colorful.


ChickenHead
Posted 10 April 2007 at 01:56 pm

Hoekstes said: "If a tomahawk missile is a plane, then you might argue that a V2 balistic missile is a plane as well. Germany fired those from trucks, so they couldn't have been too far away from firing them from U-boats as well.

* BANG * Then they might have rained down in places other than London."

Yes, they not only *could* have been too far away, they *were* too far away, from firing those from U-boats.

Putting a single V2 launch system onto a functionally submersible U-Boat would have been just about impossible given the logistics required. They were not launched from trucks. They were carted around to numerous launch sites on trucks. Followed by several trucks of fuel, oxidizer, equipment, and ordinace - over two dozen per lauch vehicle. They were "portable" in only the loosest terms. They were nothing like the mobile Soviet SCUD launchers that were built in the years following WWII based on the V-2 designs.

A German U-Boat would not have been capable of operating even one of these at a time per visit to port. Of all the technical problems involved, the least of which would be the necessary *liquid* oxygen (nearly 5000kg of it). The long term cooling and containment of that onboard a slow moving sub would have been a monumental hurdle to overcome - the ship would be a huge refrigerator.

Fast forward to the modern day - The Los Angles and Sea Wolf class subs tote around rougly 4 dozen long range precision attach aircraft (the aforementioned tomahawk missles). It's a valid claim that they are the modern submersible aircraft carriers - just because they are unmanned does not mean that they are not aircraft. And by the same extension, so are any of the various "boomer" ICBM subs.


tpaine
Posted 10 April 2007 at 05:14 pm

My Grandfather, Tom Paine, was 2nd in command in a submarine in WWII. After the war he was assigned to sail one of these boats back from Japan to Hawaii. He said it was quite an experience.


another viewpoint
Posted 10 April 2007 at 07:43 pm

...so, there real was a "5 o'clock Charlie" after all.

BUT...can't figure out how a submarine could overcome the bouyancy matter with a hanger full of air fastened to the deck of a submarine. Sure would have needed a whole lot of ballast to compensate. Kind of like going swimming and trying to dive with a small garbage bag full of air tied to your back. Go figure.

Alan...nice article. Thanx.


Old Man
Posted 10 April 2007 at 08:37 pm

ChickenHead said: "Yes, they not only *could* have been too far away, they *were* too far away, from firing those from U-boats.

Putting a single V2 launch system onto a functionally submersible U-Boat would have been just about impossible given the logistics required. They were not launched from trucks. They were carted around to numerous launch sites on trucks. Followed by several trucks of fuel, oxidizer, equipment, and ordinace - over two dozen per lauch vehicle. They were "portable" in only the loosest terms. They were nothing like the mobile Soviet SCUD launchers that were built in the years following WWII based on the V-2 designs.

A German U-Boat would not have been capable of operating even one of these at a time per visit to port. Of all the technical problems involved, the least of which would be the necessary *liquid* oxygen (nearly 5000kg of it). The long term cooling and containment of that onboard a slow moving sub would have been a monumental hurdle to overcome - the ship would be a huge refrigerator.

Fast forward to the modern day - The Los Angles and Sea Wolf class subs tote around rougly 4 dozen long range precision attach aircraft (the aforementioned tomahawk missles). It's a valid claim that they are the modern submersible aircraft carriers - just because they are unmanned does not mean that they are not aircraft. And by the same extension, so are any of the various "boomer" ICBM subs."

But real aircraft can do things that missiles cannot, like rescue and surveillance. And I suppose the missiles can return and fit snugly back inside? Hmm?

But agree that they should get some UAVs on subs. Just for the cool value.


bchan
Posted 10 April 2007 at 09:02 pm

Actually, the United States' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on a project to convert two former Ohio-class SSBN submarines into multi-mission boats capable of launching aircraft. The subs would have one missile tube configured to launch a large, unmanned attack aircraft called the Cormorant. It's only a study at present, but it does show that the concept of a submersible aircraft carrier is still in play.


Old Man
Posted 10 April 2007 at 09:12 pm

King of the Cows
Posted 11 April 2007 at 08:18 am

The Smithsonian actually has the only known complete Aichi Seiran in its collection. This plane was built specifically to be delivered by the submarine, unlike the plane that bombed the forest.

You may view it at the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles airport. Read more about it (and view photos) here.


Dave Group
Posted 11 April 2007 at 01:57 pm

Awesome article. Never heard of this, though I had heard of plans to tow V-2 rockets by U-boat to the East Coast of the U.S. (ChickenHead brings up some interesting points on why this would not have worked). I know the Japanese planned to send high-altitude balloons, with payloads of fleas infested with plague to infect humans and cattle, across the Pacific to attack the U.S. For the full story, read the books A Plague Upon Humanity and Body Snatchers in the Desert.


Charlene
Posted 11 April 2007 at 03:28 pm

Is this kind of national hatred and stupid narrow-minded insolence acceptable and common on this site?


sulkykid
Posted 11 April 2007 at 04:55 pm

Charlene said: "Is this kind of national hatred and stupid narrow-minded insolence acceptable and common on this site?"

I am not sure what nation we are supposed to be hating??? Please specify. I like to think that we are broad-mindedly insolent.


J.K.
Posted 12 April 2007 at 04:50 am

You know I'm lost on that one too. I guess we're all hating types since we're discussing Japanese defeat and war spoils, or perhaps this is a more deep seeded nazi sympathizer?


js305
Posted 12 April 2007 at 05:03 am

I wasn't going to say anything but,

Isn't it strange how it is terrible what we as Americans say and do to the rest of the world but somehow it's OK for so many to hate the ugly Americans (but not their money!)????

Besides that, many of these articles are not so much about hate as they are about history and as much as some would like to change history it remains just what it is.

Keep up the good work, it's all been pretty good (except for that d*** fish)


shanachie
Posted 12 April 2007 at 05:25 am

Are current-model drones not launch-able from submarines? Seems to me that they'd be a valuable asset, and wouldn't need water-tight hangars on deck.

I'm rereading Blind Man's Bluff, non-fiction about the role submarines played in Cold War intelligence gathering. Facinating read if you're not familiar with the stories. (They actually tapped Soviet undersea phone cables and listened to phone calls from remote bases to Moscow.) Those drones the CIA has used in Afganistan would have been very useful in those Cole War missions.

Anyway, Tommahawks are real good at destruction but for reconnisance, not so much.


Hoekstes
Posted 12 April 2007 at 07:51 am

ChickenHead said: "Yes, they not only *could* have been too far away, they *were* too far away, from firing those from U-boats.


Putting a single V2 launch system onto a functionally submersible U-Boat would have been just about impossible given the logistics required. They were not launched from trucks. They were carted around to numerous launch sites on trucks. "

I think you might want to read the following article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-2_missile and pay spescial attention to the part about the Meillerwagen. The trucks were mobile launch sites.


Hoekstes
Posted 12 April 2007 at 07:53 am

Hoekstes said: "*special* attention even"


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 12 April 2007 at 09:54 am

Thank you Alan :)


Didoka
Posted 12 April 2007 at 10:42 am

Dear Alan,

There is something fishy here. I remember reading an article about this submarine before. The reason I remember it is because when I clicked on the Wikipedia link, I remember most of those photos. I also remember reading about the largest submarine ever and it was on this website. The problem is that I can't find that old article to back up my claims. I clearly remember it was this website because no other website I surf on has such information.


Didoka
Posted 12 April 2007 at 10:43 am

Okay I would just like to apologize for my last comment. I just realized how stupid I am and where this submarine was last mentioned. Please forgive me for my stupidity. After all, I am sick today. =-P


ChickenHead
Posted 12 April 2007 at 10:55 am

sulkykid said: "I am not sure what nation we are supposed to be hating??? Please specify. I like to think that we are broad-mindedly insolent."

ROTFLMAO!


ChickenHead
Posted 12 April 2007 at 11:03 am

Hoekstes said: "I think you might want to read the following article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-2_missile and pay spescial attention to the part about the Meillerwagen. The trucks were mobile launch sites."

Quite true about the later stage trucks consisting of the full launch gantry. However, that still does not account for, or answer, the rest of the logistics issue of the entire launch sequence of one of those missiles. They were not transported fueled. The liquid oxygen would have rapidly been lost from the unrefrigerated tank inside the V2. Those Meillerwagen vehicles were still followed by numerous supply vehicles. The amount of supplies needed for a single launch for one of those exceeds by several magnitudes the capacities of a WWII German U-Boat.


Radiatidon
Posted 12 April 2007 at 11:53 am

ChickenHead said: "The amount of supplies needed for a single launch for one of those exceeds by several magnitudes the capacities of a WWII German U-Boat."

Actually they had smaller rockets that launched from a gantry carried on the back of a U-boat. Then there was a towable unit that carried a full-size V2 rocket that was successfully launched. Four units were under construction for an attack on New York when the war ended.

Check these links for more information.

http://www.prinzeugen.com/V2.htm

http://www.uboataces.com/articles-rocket-uboat.shtml


crispi
Posted 12 April 2007 at 09:31 pm

The current Tomahawk is far more closely related to aircraft than missiles. It has a turbofan engine. It has surveillance capabilities. It can loiter over the battlefield and, thanks to said real-time surveillance, can be directed to attack multiple targets or the same target again if the first strike is deemed a miss.

It has absolutely nothing at all in common with a V-2 rocket.


radish123
Posted 12 April 2007 at 10:30 pm

A v-2 was used as a terror weapon it was horribly inaccurate thats why they weren't used for bombing military targets a tomahawk is so accurate it can pin point a fly on a guys jackets and blow it up


tednugentkicksass
Posted 13 April 2007 at 03:58 am

I know this is kind of off-topic, but this talk of attacks on the North American continent got me thinking.--Didn't the Germans have plans for a really big, supersonic bomber with a range that would have made reaching New York (and possibly returning?) possible.

I realize that many of these German super weapons were unrealized pipe-dreams, but I could have sworn I saw something on the History channel.

P.S. I think you guys may have a seriously pissed off-Canuck on your hands. Be carefull when you goo oot and aboot, or you may end up drizzled in maple syrup with a hockey stick through your chest.

Charlene said: "Is this kind of national hatred and stupid narrow-minded insolence acceptable and common on this site?"


Rush
Posted 13 April 2007 at 11:05 am

st33med said: "Problem is it would be really impractical and slow sub for a hanger to go in it. If they let it stay outside, the water pressure would break the plane like a 1066-candle cake going splat into the ground:). Not to mention that, if they did find a way to have it withstand such pressure, it would possibly make the submarine stay on the surface because of it's wings.


So good luck to the military!"

I think its 1106 candles...

Keep it up with the Military information Thanks,


Dave Group
Posted 14 April 2007 at 05:43 am

tednugentkicksass said: "I know this is kind of off-topic, but this talk of attacks on the North American continent got me thinking.–Didn't the Germans have plans for a really big, supersonic bomber with a range that would have made reaching New York (and possibly returning?) possible.

During World War I, Germany had plans to build a massive airship that would cross the Atlantic and bomb New York. It was only partially built by the time the war ended. The French ended up with it, named it the Dixmude, and shortly thereafter lost it in a storm over the Mediterranean.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 14 April 2007 at 06:08 pm

Dave Group said: "During World War I, Germany had plans to build a massive airship that would cross the Atlantic and bomb New York. It was only partially built by the time the war ended. The French ended up with it, named it the Dixmude, and shortly thereafter lost it in a storm over the Mediterranean."

Thanks. That sounds like the French.


neepster
Posted 02 May 2007 at 10:57 pm

Are you SURE there have been no submersible aircraft carriers since? I have heard rumors of some US attack subs with submersible aircraft for SEAL teams for example....


GilaMonster
Posted 19 March 2008 at 10:06 am

Alan said: "... it sat nestled inside its tiny sealed cocoon with its delicate wings folded.

Oh Alan. I'm afraid your poetic license has expired. Time to renew it.


Terranaut
Posted 27 May 2011 at 01:27 am

tednugentkicksass said:
P.S. I think you guys may have a seriously pissed off-Canuck on your hands. Be carefull when you goo oot and aboot, or you may end up drizzled in maple syrup with a hockey stick through your chest.
Charlene said: “Is this kind of national hatred and stupid narrow-minded insolence acceptable and common on this site?”"

AH-HA! that would make sense. only a stupid narrow-minded insolent canuck would take that ribbing seriously. come on canadians, get off it already! we love you guys. you are like our little brother. always whining about how you are mistreated by the larger siblings, glad to have us protecting you from the bullies on the block. but you cant wait to grow-up and be just like us. let's see, twice our land mass yet 90% live within 200 miles of the U.S. border. and the entire population is less than that of the bankrupt state of California!!! I married a Canuck. she moved here, not me there. says something about the place Eh?


Robert
Posted 07 March 2015 at 10:58 am

In Boris Chertok's four volume history of the Soviet space program (Rockets and People)he talks about the plundering of German technology and the revelation he got from it. They contributed little or nothing to the war effort. All the resources the secret weapons required to develop were a tremendous drain on the system and produced little of value in return.


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