The smaller boats of the World War Two - Stories, rarities and surviving boats.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
Higgins boat: How technology helped the Allies win World War II
WWII was won not just with courage but with American and British technological advances that gave the Allies the upper hand. The most famous and fearsome: the Manhattan Project atomic bombs. But there were many others. Radar helped the Allies know what was coming at them. Bombsights employing complicated gyroscope technology allowed planes to pinpoint bomb attacks. Nylon, the synthetic material invented by DuPont for women`s stockings, was used to make parachutes, glider tow ropes, aircraft fuel tanks and flak jackets, according to Smithsonian magazine. Some people dubbed it "the fibre that won the war." But one of the most crucial bits of technology, the one that helped the Allies launch the surprise attack on Normandy - as well as many island landings in the Pacific War -, was the hull of a boat. The Higgins boat.
The US Navy designed this lethal one-man turret in World War II
When you think about turrets, you think about the big ones. Like those on Iowa-class battleships that hold three 16-inch guns. Well, in this case, you`d be thinking too big. Toward the end of WWII, the Navy was deploying a unique turret meant for the legendary PT boats. The purpose was to make them even more lethal than they proved to be in the Philippines and the Solomons. PT boats had become more than just a means of torpedoing enemy ships. By the end of the Solomons campaign, they were being used to attack barges — not with torpedoes, but with a lot of gunfire. Field modifications soon gave PT boats more powerful weapons, but there was a problem: PT boats didn`t have a ton of space.
Classic turn-based strategy games: Conflict-Series
If you like classic turn-based PC war games and legendary strategy board games make sure to check out the highly rated Conflict-series for Android. Some of the WWII Campaigns include Axis Balkan Campaign, D-Day 1944, Operation Barbarossa, France 1940, Kursk 1943, Market Garden, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Rommel's North African campaign, and the Battle of Bulge. In addition to WWII some other time periods include Korean War, American Civil War, First World War and American Revolutionary War. The more complex campaigns like Operation Sea Lion, Invasion of Norway, and Invasion of Japan 1945, include Naval element and handling logistics of supply flow.
(available on Google Play & Amazon App Store since 2011)
The Higgins Boat: How Louisiana helped win the war
The morning of June 6, 1944 saw hard winds and mist chopping the waters of Normandy, France. More than 4,500 Allied ships neared the beaches. Despite no permanent harbors nearby, troops finalized their coastal assaults by scrambling platoons and jeeps onto Higgins boats. The vessel`s visionary, Andrew Jackson Higgins, was not shy about his love for Old Taylor bourbon, nor his penchant for shipbuilding. The staff grew once Higgins designed his boats -- also known as Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel boats, or LCVPs -- with a design that would become essential for troops traveling from ship to shore during World War II.
D-Day`s last landing craft tank to be restored using £4.7 million of lottery money
A sole surviving D-Day landing craft is to be restored with the help of £4.7 million lottery funding. The landing craft tank LCT 7074 took part in Operation Neptune, the naval element of the Allied invasion of northern France in 1944, a vast undertaking that involved 7,000 ships and craft to land 160,000 soldiers on to the beaches of Normandy. Now the `exceptional survivor` will be restored to its original appearance with the multimillion- pound investment from the National Lottery, timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in two years` time.
Time running out to save the last WW2 55-foot Coastal Motor Boat
There are just days left to save the last surviving Thornycroft 55-foot Coastal Motor Boat from World War Two. The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth has launched a fundraising campaign to raise £6,000 so it can buy and preserve CMB 331. So far, more than £4,500 has been raised. The Thornycroft 55-foot Coastal Motor Boat was designed during the First World War by John Thorneycroft and built all over the country, including at Camper and Nicholson`s Yard in Gosport. It came following a suggestion by three junior officers that small, fast torpedo-carrying craft might be able to pass over German minefields and attack the High Seas Fleet at its base in Wilhelmshaven.
Watch the World War II Museum`s PT-305 cruise Lake Pontchartrain: video
Watch as the National World War II Museum`s meticulously restored PT-305 takes a test cruise on Lake Pontchartrain on March 16. The 1943 patrol-torpedo boat was manufactured by the Higgins company in New Orleans. It is the only working restoration of such a ship.
Want a WWII British gunboat, cheap? -- Fairmile B motor launches
During World War II the Royal Navy built some 650 Fairmile B motor launches to keep the Germans on their side of the Channel. One of the last remaining is on eBay. The `Fair B`s` were rushed into production in 1940 using prefab components from shops large and small across the UK to churn out literally hundreds of these 112-foot boats. Armed with a Quick Firing 3-pounder (47mm) Hotchkiss popgun as a hood ornament and some machine guns aft, they carried enough depth charges to scratch the paint on interloping U-boats while patrolling the coastline.
Higgins landing craft – The Boat That Won World War II
The Higgins landing craft cannot be overlooked when discussing factors that led to the Allied victory in WW2. Andrew Jackson Higgins created the LCVP that brought the Allies onto the beaches of Normandy in 1944. General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that Higgins was `the man who won the war for us.` Higgins Industries became known for the kind of boats that were useful in the shallow bayous of Louisiana. One of his earliest designs was known as the Eureka boat, or the Spoonbill. The US Marines would eventually use the craft because of its utility and its durability.
WW2 Museum`s PT Boat Nearly Restored; Rides on Lake Planned
The National World War II Museum has nearly finished restoration of a patrol torpedo boat that sank two armored German supply barges and carried U.S. commandos to French shores. Officials hope to have PT-305 back on the water in about a year, carrying tourists and history buffs on the lake where it was first tested in 1944. "There`s quite a bit of difference in understanding an artifact when it`s sitting and when it`s operating," said Tom Czekanski, the museum`s senior curator and restoration manager.
Rare World War II boat PT-658 in Oregon added to National Register
The only remaining operable PT boat from WWII, the class of versatile motor torpedo boats made famous through the exploits of President John Kennedy, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The boat, PT-658, has been restored by former PT boat veterans and volunteers for the nonprofit Save the PT Boat, Inc. for the past 18 years. Boats like the PT-658 were developed in the early 20th century by European naval powers as part of their coastal defenses. These small, wooden boats were an easy way to deliver torpedoes which could destroy ships as heavy as battleships. The United States began manufacturing PT boats in 1941.
PT-305: National WWII Museum restoring a historic PT boat built by Higgins Industries
The National WWII Museum is in the midst of a multi-year project to restore a historic PT boat built by Higgins Industries in New Orleans, Louisiana. PT-305 served in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations and was known by several nicknames including The Sudden Jerk, The Bar Fly and The Half Hitch. PT-305 is housed in the Museum`s John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion, where visitors can see first-hand the techniques used to repair and restore war-era boats, vehicles, weapons and artifacts.
Facebook group posts updates as project progresses:
Veterans launch campaign to sail Britain`s last WWII Gunboat, MGB 81, back to Normandy
68 years after its finest hour, Britain`s last WW2 Motor Gunboat is at the centre of a new adventure. "MGB 81 and small craft like her kept the beaches safe from marauding Nazi warships, allowing the Allied armies to get safely ashore," reads a plea issued by a group of Coastal Forces veterans at Gunwharf Quays Marina. "Boats like this, and the men who crewed them, helped to free Europe." The aim is to stir both emotions and pockets in a bid to collect £70,000 – one for each year since D-Day – and drive the boat back across the channel to the Normandy beaches.
Stolen World War II rescue fishing boat to be returned back to Norway
A fishing boat stolen for a WWII dramatic escape is to be returned to Norway from Scotland. Four Norwegians desperate to escape the Nazi occupation took the boat and crossed the North Sea to the Aberdeenshire coast in 1941. The boat was renamed Thistle and then worked out of Stonehaven. However, children of one of the original four escapees traced the boat, and it is now to be sent home. It is understood the perilous journey was almost ended shortly after it started when the group was machine gunned by a German plane. They returned to land and set out again with the boat camouflaged by tree branches, and completed the long journey.
Andrew Jackson Higgins: Boat maker who won World War II
At the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, a sign asks the question that most visitors ask themselves: Why is New Orleans the host city for a museum dedicated to WWII? The answer: It was home to the man who, as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower put it, "won the war for us." Andrew Jackson Higgins was the founder of Higgins Industries, a New Orleans-based shipbuilding firm that built the famous "landing craft, vehicle, personnel," known as the LCVP, but best known as the "Higgins boat." The Higgins boat was a shallow-draft craft that could carry soldiers and equipment right up to the shoreline.
ShipCraft Special: Allied Torpedo Boats (military modelling book review)
First chapter of "Allied Torpedo Boats" covers the development of the Allied Coastal Boats 1915-1945. Following chapters include topics like: excellent kits built by model makers, color schemes used on the boats, armament, etc.
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-305 restoration reaches milestone in the U.S. National World War II museum
Spirits are high in the National World War II museum warehouse where 70 volunteers restore Motor Torpedo Boat PT-305. "The response from the community has been outstanding. The talent... the passion, the dedication has been terrific.," praised PT-305 Project Leader George Benedetto.
Deadly German S boat restored in the UK using rare footage (video)
A German S-boat which had a deadly role in the Second World War is being restored in the UK. In a single day the Schnellboot (Motor Torpedo Boat called an E-boat by the Allies) took the lives of over 700 Allied servicemen and now, after sitting in dry dock, conservationists have been given a guide how to restore it. Using rare footage from the 1940s builders undertaken on the project.
Restored World War II motorboats on display at Portsmouth
The high-speed boats - the "Spitfires of the sea" - were a major part of the Allied war effort. Now two of the last remaining fully operational WW2 motor boats have been saved with the help of a £580,000 grant. One, a MGB 81, is an example of the vessel which was active during the American landing at Omaha beach during D-Day. MGBs (Motor Gun Boats) were small and their high speed made them difficult targets for German E-boats. The other boat, a HSL 102, is the only surviving example of the 100 class high-speed launch which was used at RAF Calshot to retrieve downed airmen from the sea.
Last of its kind, Nazi E-boat S130 gets $8 million restoration
In a humble shed in a English seaside village, the remains of a Nazi torpedo boat behind one of worst American disasters in Second World War rests on pile of lumber. In 1943 this German vessel played its part in a D-Day dress rehearsal gone wrong that ended with 749 Americans servicemen dead, 3 survivors of the Exercise Tiger disaster garner their first glance of E-boat S130. The last-known remaining craft of its type was purchased by British military vehicle collector Kevin Wheatcroft for $1.60. He is now planning to spend $8 million to restore the boat to its original condition.
Restored World War II Higgins Boat ready to serve, again
WW2 Navy veteran Earl Norwood recalls carrying troops to Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. "When the transport door dropped I watched two men get cut in half by machine guns firing from the beach." Troops were transported onto the beaches using a Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP), or "Higgins Boat". 23,000 were constructed during the Second World War, but just 12 are left in the United States. One of those is located at the N.C. Maritime Museum`s Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center in Beaufort, where volunteers have restored the vessel to its former glory.
Rear-Admiral Courtney Anderson: Motor torpedo boat veteran who commanded the `Wobbly Tenth`
Rear-Admiral Courtney Anderson began his career as a motor torpedo boat captain in the 10th MTB flotilla, a collection of so old vessels that it was called the "Wobbly Tenth". He was first asked to return home 3 Belgian ministers and bring King Leopold III to England in 1940. Anderson`s MTB 67 duly arrived to cries that there were Nazis all around, and the ministers had to wade ashore; and when the King saw that it did not have a cabin, he refused to come aboard. The boat went on to Dunkirk to get Lord Gort, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, who told Anderson to go away. So he joined the small craft which were evacuating troops from the beaches.
George Holasek recalls time as patrol torpedo boat crewman in World War II
Basically, a PT (patrol torpedo) boat was a surfboard with an airplane engine and machine gun attached. But enhanced with three 1,500-horsepower engines, several machine guns, torpedoes, depth charges, cannons and sometimes rockets - it has the most firepower per ton of any U.S. Navy vessel during WWII. All packed into an 80-foot, wood-hulled craft capable of destroying ships 50 times its size. They were nicknamed the "mosquito fleet," for their tiny size and deadly "bite." Or "cat-eyed devils" by the Japanese. Some 531 PT boats were deployed during the war. Among the 60,000 PT boat crewmen were such future notables as John F. Kennedy and George Vanderbilt.
Schnellboot-130, the last Nazi E-boat, saved by military enthusiast
Schnellboot-130, once the fastest vessel in the world, helped attack an Allied convoy off Slapton Sands in a battle in which almost 1,000 Allied soldiers were wiped out. On April 27, 1944, the boat was one of 9 German vessels patrolling the English Channel when they ran into Operation Tiger - the rehearsal for the D-Day. Allied leaders initially covered up the loss. After the war the Schnellboot was confiscated by the British and used to land secret agents behind the Iron Curtain, but was then left in a dockyard to disintegrate. Kevin Wheatcroft has now come to the rescue of the vessel - by planning to spend 3 million pounds to restore it.
Cornwall`s maritime museum reveals secret story of WWII canoes
Of all the imagery linked with WWII, the canoe is a figure rarely featured. The Cockleshell Heroes, a 1955 film telling the story of a band of commandos who used canoes to raid the Bordeaux Harbour in 1942, is the best known account of the part they played, and now Cornwall`s Maritime Museum is casting light on this unlikely weapon with "British Military Canoes of World War II" -exhibit. "We have one of the Mark 2 canoes they used on display. The clever thing about it is that it virtually folds flat," explained Captain George Hogg. The key element of the design is the ability of the canoe to pass through the torpedo loading hatch of a submarine.
World War II rescue boat HSL 102 faces grim future unless a buyer is found
Phil Clabburn spent 3 years restoring 64-foot High Speed Launch 102 (operational during Dunkirk) after finding its rotting shell in 1992. He spent 500,000 pounds on reconstructing the wooden boat, which is the last surviving vessel of the RAF`s wartime Air Sea Rescue team. In 1996 the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who had last visited the vessel in 1941, saw its relaunch. Its state as a historic vessel has been confirmed by The National Historic Ships Committee, which has included it in its Core Collection, alongside the likes of HMS Victory, the Cutty Sark and SS Great Britain. During WWII 11,000 aircrew were rescued by HSL-boats.
Commander Douglas Hunt landed agents in Holland and engaged the Nazis in the English Channel
Douglas Hunt, who was granted two Distinguished Service Crosses while serving with World War II Coastal Forces, has died aged 91. On one occasion Hunt, in command of MTB 245 in 22nd MTB Flotilla, spent hours searching the North Sea before picking up the crew of a USAAF Flying Fortress. One of the men was Lt-Col Louis G Thorup, who had just led a 1,000-bomber strike on Nazi Germany; they became lifelong friends. In the New Year of 1944 he fought off an attack by a Messerschmitt fighter - After the battle he discovered that there were bullet holes in one of his boat`s torpedoes.
The Shetland Bus: History comes to life as boat that resisted the Nazis returns
It seems like just another boat, gliding into Scalloway harbour on Shetland. But those who have come down to the pier are excited. This is the first time that the MK Andholmen has been back to Shetland since World War II, and its crew have come back to tell a WWII story. They called it the Shetland Bus: a network of fishing boats that ran a secret operation between Scotland and Nazi-occupied Norway: keeping hope alive. Andholmen and 20 other boats saw service from 1940 onwards. Together with 3 sub-chasers, loaned later in the war by the US, they made 205 crossings, in spite of the risk of detection by Nazi planes and boats.
Commander Jake Wright - Motor torpedo boat officer with the DSC and two Bars
Commander Jake Wright, who died aged 92, was a courageous commander, whose war was fought in fast motorboats in the Narrow Seas of the English Channel and the southern North Sea. He was first blooded when, as first lieutenant of MTB 32, his patrol sank 2 armed trawlers off Calais on October 11 1940. Wright rapidly rose to command his own boats, and after a year in MTB 331 and in MTB 32, he was granted his first DSC for coolness in action against enemy E-boats. On July 13/14 1944 he fought a battle with 3 German patrol boats, sinking one of them - getting a second Bar to his DSC for outstanding courage.
Hopes of restoring World War II PT boat 659 end
Over the past dozen years, a group of Vancouver history buffs had high hopes for PT Boat 659. A restoration. A waterfront display. An interesting lesson for those kids who don`t realize the role the fast "patrol torpedo" boats played in World War II. Recently those dreams were drowned out by the growl of a saw. Among those watching the demolition was Tom Czekanski, director of Collections & Exhibitions for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, who told that not all of the boat was doomed for the scrap heap. Parts are being saved and will be used in the $5M restoration of PT Boat 305.
World War II heritage tug La Lumiere goes down: spills 500 litres of fuel
A World War Two heritage tug has sunk at its dock at Britannia Beach, spilling 500 litres of diesel fuel into Howe Sound. Canadian Coast Guard spokesman Dan Bate said the federal agency sent a helicopter and hovercraft after learning of the sinking of the 50m long vessel. Divers have been hired to probe the condition of the wooden-hull tug La Lumiere, once the Seaspan Chinook and owned by the Maritime Heritage Society of Vancouver. Society president Paul Thomas said the tug was constructed for the American navy in 1944. The society got the vessel 10 years ago to be restored as a heritage ship.
It was American sailboats against German U-boats in World War II (Article no longer available from the original source)
Sending sailboats out to fight U-boats: those early days of U.S. involvement in WWII were desperate times. Rufus `Bud` Smith commanded 25 U-boat-hunting yachts of the Third Naval District. Similar groups operated elsewhere, perhaps 100 yachts were involved along the U.S coast. In 1942, U-boats found lightly defended hunting grounds off the U.S. coasts. The yachts had been volunteered for military service by their owners, crews were temporary U.S. Coast Guard reservists. The yachts, painted Navy grey with white numbers forward, didn`t sink any U-boats. They did serve as deterrents. They could approach U-boats and report their positions by radio.
Mayday: Tugs of War - Documentary
Robin D. Williams has captured the stories of the crews who helmed deep-sea tugboats during WWII on celluloid. Documentary "Mayday: Tugs of War" focuses on the World War II deep-sea rescue tugmen and their struggles against submarines, ships, aircraft and nature while towing sinking ships 3 times their size. He gathered first-hand accounts of tugmen who fought in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944, pulling the landing craft off of beaches and repairing them. "This turns out to be one of the more dynamic stories of WWII, but it was never told because there were no cameramen allowed... because they would have filmed the stories that looked like we`re being defeated."
David Lish seeks backers to restore WWII Coast Guard yacht
Describing the historic wood sailing yacht Zaida as high maintenance is an understatement: "This boat is 9 hours of sanding to 1 hour of sailing," said David Lish. While Zaida has an important pedigree in its designer and builder, the yacht is best-known for its unusual WWII service. Manned mostly by volunteers, the yacht was the smallest of the private vessels in region volunteered for service with the Coast Guard in the Coastal Picket Patrol that cruised off the East Coast looking for Nazi U-boats. Zaida`s most noteworthy encounter was with nature. A fierce storm in Dec 1942 damaged the boat, and it was missing for 21 days...
WWII torpedo boat wreckage was tossed up from sea after earthquake
Wreckage from a World War II torpedo boat was tossed up from the sea in the Solomon Islands after a powerful 8.1 earthquake hit the area. The explosive-laden boat was exposed when reefs were pushed up 3 meters above sea level. The Solomons` coastline is still littered with military wrecks from World War II, including the torpedo patrol boat commanded by U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy`s boat was sunk by a Japanese destroyer in the Blackett Strait in August 1943 off Gizo, the main town of western Solomon Islands. The Solomons` main island, Guadalcanal, was the scene of fierce WWII fighting.
German torpedo boats attacked 8 ships killing 749 soldiers (Article no longer available from the original source)
It began on the morning of April 27, 1944: Nine German torpedo boats from Nazi-occupied France attacked eight slow-moving U.S. ships during what was a mock invasion for the Americans, known as "Exercise Tiger." Within minutes, 749 American soldiers died. Steven Sadlon served as radio operator on the Landing Ship Tank LST-507, which was to take part in the practice invasion, complete with tanks and ammunition. "I heard a scraping noise along the side of our LST." The general quarters alarm sounded and I thought "Wow, for a dry run they`re making this pretty realistic." The scraping noise he heard turned to be a torpedo, fired by a German E-boat.