USS Essex ferries vintage warbirds

| August 7, 2020

Stearman biplane in in front of USS Essex (LHD-2) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christina Ross/Released)

USS Essex (LHD-2), has left San Diego enroute to Pearl Harbor for the biennial multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020 exercise. COVID forced the cancellation of the aerial component of RIMPAC, so the Marines aboard Essex didn’t embark their air assets. This empty deck space won’t go to waste.

Timed perfectly with the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day, Essex, like her WWII namesake, is ferrying several vintage warbirds to the Hawaiian islands to participate in a series of flyovers to commemorate the end of World War Two.

According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, planes include “five AT-6/SNJ advanced trainers, two PBY Catalina flying boats, the B-25 bomber, an FM-2 Wildcat, an F8F Bearcat, a P-51 Mustang, a Stearman biplane, a TBM Avenger and a T-28 Trojan.”

More, including video of one of the Wildcats being loaded at the source link.

Bearcat being onloaded aboard USS Essex for a future event. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christina Ross/Released)

The dedicated crews and maintainers for these warbirds voluntarily went through a two week quarantine at San Diego to help stop the spread of COVID.

Source; Popular Mechanics

Category: Navy

Comments (17)

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  1. KoB says:

    Cool! Would like to see those flyovers. I’m sure that some of the usual suspects will make sure that we will see the videos when it happens later on.

    Maybe we should restore more of these “vintage” warbirds. Might come in handy in case of an EMP strike. Just saying.

  2. Ex-PH2 says:

    That Stearman biplane – geez, that’s a helluva bird!!!

    I knew an airline pilot who wanted to sell his and asked me to shoot movies from the cockpit. Gave me a pair of goggles, which interfered with shooting the film, but the loops and barrel rolls were incredible.

    One cool plane, it was. That was a long time ago, but it was a huge lot of fun!

  3. Stacy0311 says:

    I was assigned to MARDET USS Ranger in 1992 when they did the 50th anniversary of the Doolittle raid.

    It was awesome watching the B25s launch. They used less than half of the flight deck 😉

    • AW1Ed says:

      Watch the original video- Doolittle’s lead B-25 is airborne well before he runs out of Shangri-La’s flight deck (4’13”).

      • The Other Whitey says:

        Only one of Doolittle’s B-25s dropped off the edge, and that was only due to incorrect flap settings. They recovered and stayed airborne.

        Of course, each of them was stripped down into an ultra-light flying gas can with less than 2,000 pounds of ordnance, tail guns removed to save weight (and broomsticks installed in their place in the hope of scaring off attacking fighters), and no guarantee of a place to land at the other end of the trip.

        Jimmy Doolittle had a very impressive career of doing amazing things with airplanes. When conventional wisdom held that the negative G-load of an outside loop would kill any pilot who attempted it, he proved them wrong by jumping in a P-1 Hawk and pulling multiple outside loops in front of numerous spectators in 1927. In 1929, he was the first pilot to take off, fly, navigate, and land completely on instruments, with no view at all outside the cockpit—keep in mind that he didn’t have a radio in the plane (he did have a radio receiver to track beacons for navigation to back up his dead reckoning, but no voice radio), so nobody could talk him down as he landed blind. He was the guy who proved that it was in fact possible to land a B-26 Marauder without dying (and told them to extend the wingspan by 10 feet so that the rest of the human race would be able to do it in the future). This in addition to dozens of air racing victories, including one in a Gee Bee R-1, notorious for being a widowmaker. He was a small-statured man with gigantic balls of steel.

        This site has some good info:

        • AW1Ed says:

          He managed to piss off a bunch of Navy Flag Officers by sinking a battleship with airplanes.

          National Interest Link

          • The Other Whitey says:

            I didn’t know Doolittle was involved in Billy Mitchell’s tests.

            Those tests weren’t quite as groundbreaking as some would say, though. Nobody doubted that dropping sufficiently-large quantities of explosives on a battleship would send it to Davey Jones. The Navy pointed out that the ships sunk by Mitchell’s planes were neither maneuvering nor shooting back, thus their takeaway was “So your planes can hit something the size of a battleship from low altitude in perfect conditions when it’s not moving? Wow, your momma must be so proud…”

            Even in WWII, Mitchell’s doctrine of using high-altitude level bombing (as opposed to dive-, glide-, or skip-bombing) against maneuvering ships proved useless. Dive bombing was much more accurate, but still resulted in more misses than hits on ships that we’re doing their damnedest to dodge them. Skip-bombing was probably the most likely to get a hit, as slinging a bomb in from the side meant that the ship could only move in one dimension relative to the incoming bomb as opposed to two for five bombing, but it maximized risk to the bomber as it required coming in low.

            Mitchell was absolutely right about air power being crucial to the future of warfare. He was dead wrong about airplanes replacing the Army and Navy.

            • 5th/77th FA says:

              Is this a good place to talk about that whole GO ARMY BEAT NAVY thing?

              How about the fact that ALL of the Services are basically just another form of Artillery? In this case Aerial Artillery delivered by floating Artillery?

              • The Other Whitey says:

                Kraut railroad guns notwithstanding, the Navy *does* lay claim to the biggest guns. Yeah, the Army has some 16-inch in its arsenal, but the Navy could actually move theirs. Besides, as far as I know, the only time the Army Coast Artillery got to shoot their really big guns at bad guys was in the spring of 1942, when Battery E, 59th Coast Artillery at Fort Drum, Manila Bay engaged surrounding Japanese forces with their turreted 14-inch guns. They inflicted severe casualties on the Japanese landing force at Corregidor, ceasing fire only when ordered to surrender by commanders on the neighboring island, though they made sure to destroy the big guns first.

      • OWB says:

        Always good to see that footage.

        One of my fondest memories is of being aboard one of a flight of 5 B-25’s at an airshow years ago. Great fun, especially during the “bombing run,” with real incendiary recreations going off on the ground.

        Then there was the time…oh, never mind…

    • The Other Whitey says:

      My uncle took me and my cousin aboard the Ranger when she was tied up at North Island with the B-25s on her deck. That was not long before my 8th birthday, and not long after my Grandpa’s funeral.

  4. The Other Whitey says:

    Please get more pictures!

  5. Sarge says:

    I was told RIMPAC was cancelled…guess I didn’t get the email.

    And I am at Hickam.

  6. USAFRetired says:

    I got to meet Gen Doolittle in the spring of 1979 in Charleston SCas part of the Raiders Reunion events. Being a bit of a duckbutt myself I noted that he was not very tall either. I happened to encounter the last living Raider in 2017, Lt Col Cole. He was Doolittle’s co-pilot. The families of the Raiders were staying in the same hotel as I was when I was in Dayton for work and the final cup ceremony was to be that night.

  7. Boiling Mad CPO says:

    USS Hornet (CV 8) was the carrier that was used.

  8. NHSparky says:

    Ah, RIMPAC…where if you weren’t indoors or below decks when colors started, you’d end up with a hell of a sunburn.

  9. Ocean12 says:

    I was on the USS Carl Vinson in 1995 when we went to Hawaii for the 50th anniversary of VJ Day. We transported some WWII aircraft that included B25s, F4U Corsair, and a Grumman Albatross to name a few. It was a great time