Jan 31, 2005

Game round two

So, answers to yesterday's quiz.

Zepplin answer: TRUE

Winner: Noah and Flow, who voted true. Although none of you were very convincing :D

Rule update: only answers in the blog comments section or send to me by mail are counted. I don't mind if you send me sth on ICQ or etc., but don't count I will remember who send what few hours later. My memory is not what is used to be... :> To find my mail, click 'About me' on the left panel.

From my favourite source: Zeppelin article on Wiki

While Germany determined the Zeppelin would be obsolete for military purposes in the coming war and concentrated on the development of airplanes, the United States pursued a program of military zeppelin construction even though it had not developed a clear military doctrine for Zeppelin use. At the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 that brought the United States into World War II, it had 10 pressure zeppelins:

  • 4 K-class US Zeppelins: K-2, K-3, K-4 and K-5 designed as a patrol zeppelins built from 1938.
  • 3 L-class US Zeppelins: L-1, L-2 and L-3 as small training zeppelins, produced from 1938.
  • 1 G-class US Zeppelin built in 1936 for training.
  • 2 TC-class US Zeppelins that were older patrol zeppelins designed for land forces, build in 1933. The US Navy acquired them from Army in 1938.

Only K and TC class zeppelins could be used for combat purposes and they were quickly pressed into service against Japanese and German submarines which at that time were sinking US shipping in visual range of US coast. US Navy command, remembering the zeppelins anti-submarine success from WWI, immediately requested that new modern anti-submarine Zeppelin and on [2 January]] 1942 formed the ZP-12 patrol unit based in Lakehurst from the 4 K zeppelins. The ZP-32 patrol unit was formed from 2 TC and 2 L zeppelins a month later, based at US Navy (Moffet Field) in Sunnyvale in California. A zeppelin training base was created there as well.

In the years 1942-1944, approximately 1400 zeppelin pilots and 3000 support crew members were trained in the military zeppelin crew training program and the zeppelin military personnel grew from 430 to 12400. The US Zeppelins were produced by the Goodyear factory in Akron. From 1942 till 1945, 154 zeppelins were built for the US Navy (133 K-class, 10 L-class, 7 G-class, 4 M-class) and 5 L-class for civilian customers (serial number L-4 to L-8).

The primary zeppelin tasks were patrol and escort of ships near the coastline. They also served as an organisation center for the convoys to direct ship movements and course, and were used during naval search and rescue operations. Rarer duties of the zeppelins included aerophoto reconaissance, naval minelaying and minesweeping, parachute unit transport and deployment, cargo and personnel transportation. They were deemed quite successful in their duties with the highest combat readiness factor in the entire US airforce (87%). They were extremely successful in their primary goal of anti-submarine warfare as the below numbers ilustrate:

  • 1942: 454 ships sunk near the US coat, 4-13 zeppelins in service
  • 1943: 65 ships sunk near the US coat, 17-53 zeppelins in service
  • 1944: 8 ships sunk near the US coat, 56-68 zeppelins in service
  • 1945: 3 ships sunk near the US coat, 53-48 zeppelins in service

Not a single ship from a convoy escorted by zeppelins was sunk. Zeppelins engaged the submarines with depth charges, or rarely from other onboard weapns. They were very successful since they could match the slow speed of the submarine and bomb it until its destruction. Additionally, sumberged sumbarines had no means of detecting a zeppelin approaching.

Only one zeppelin was ever destroyed by U-boot: on the night of 18/19 July 1943 a K-class zeppelin (K-74) from ZP-21 division was patrolling the coastline near Florida. Using a radar, the zeppelin located a surfaced German submarine. Due to the failure of the depth charge release mechanism, the Zeppelin was unable to release the bombs during the bombing run and the German returned fire. The (K-74) received serious damage and was forced to make a water landing. The crew was rescued by patrol boats in the morning, but one crewman died from a shark attack. The U-Boat responsible was sunk a few hours later.

Some US zeppelins saw action in the European war theater. The ZP-14 unit operating in the Mediterranian area from June 1944 completely denied the use of the Gibraltar Straits to Axis submarines. Zeppelins from the ZP-12 unit took part in the sinking of the last U-Boat before German capitulation, sinking U-881 on 6 May 1945 together with destroyers Atherton and Mobery.

Now, for the question #2:

Look at the picture below and tell me, what in the world is going on there? The person who answers with the description closest to the real historical event, gets the prize. Of course if sb manages to find EXACTLY the event in question, the better.

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