Friday, April 19, 2013

One of Don Quixote's Broken Lances - US Navy Vertical Launch Systems


Reflecting back upon my dual “career” as a weapons systems engineer/threat analyst and naval intelligence officer, I recently conducted an internet search for some of the projects I worked on, and can actually talk about. I’m certain that many readers of this blog page will have had similar Don Quixote  moments with the “windmills” in their respective lives and careers. Others may recognize "Broken Lance" as a play on words of either a "Broken Arrow" or "Broken Spear", a military code term for a serious, but non-lethal, mishap involving a nuclear weapon.

In 1963, I was an engineer working for Freeman M. “Steve” Stephens (Section Head, Advanced Missile Development Group) at then General Dynamics/Pomona, Pomona, California. I developed and proposed in a meeting with military and civilian personnel of the then Bureau of Naval Weapons (BuWeps), a modified configuration of the Missile Ejector Group, Mk 18, as a vertical launch system for integration into the Advanced Surface  Missile System (ASMS) which was to evolve into the Aegis Missile System in 1969. The system which employed a sabot powered by high pressure steam generated by a solid grain rocket propellant, had already been developed and employed in the Navy’s Polaris Missile/Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program. This was a deployed, fully operational system. It was effectively a “cold launch” as opposed to a “hot launch”, where the missile rocket engine is ignited in the launch tube. I had learned of the system while working at General Dynamics/Electric Boat Division, Groton, Connecticut, prior to transferring to Pomona.

At that time GD/Pomona was producing both the Tartar Missile (RIM-24) and Standard Missile (RIM-66), and was teamed with RCA Moorestown, Cherry Hill, NJ, who were simultaneously developing a fixed planar array radar for ASMS, which was to become the AN/SPY-1, and the nucleus of the AEGIS Weapon System. Steve Stephens would frequently meet with the RCA Project Manager, William V. “Bill” Goodwin, who was later promoted to a RCA Vice President over their entire Missile and Surface Radar Division.

The Guided Missile Launching Systems Mk 7, Mk 9, Mk 10, Mk 11, Mk 13 and Mk 22 (Mk 26 was yet to come) were already well established and installed in US Navy surface ships. Like conventional naval gun systems, all of these launchers were trained in azimuth and elevation with complex amplidyne drive systems, and reloaded from protected magazines. Even though by every measure of combat effectiveness (reaction time/reload speed, reliability, survivability, maintainability, safety, design/manufacturing simplicity, reduction of rotating machinery, simultaneous multi-warfare/multi-target engagement,  lower CG, volumetric efficiency, concealment, and cost, to name a few) the vertical launch concept was clearly superior, the ultra-conservative minds of the Department of the Navy remained entrenched, rejecting the concept. I would come to call them “cannon-cockers”. In addition a contributing factor may well have been a highly effective lobbying effort by Northern Ordnance and FMC Corporation, manufacturers of the existing launching systems.


GMLS Mk 9 with a pair of tactical Terrier Missiles (RIM-2)
 on the launch rails in the USS Providence (CLG - 6) 

GMLS Mk 13 with a tactical Standard Missile (RIM-66)
 on the launch rail

GMLS Mk 26 with a tactical Standard Missile (RIM-66)
on the launch rail with early Tomahawk Missile (BGM-109)
launchers seen on the fantail

Then in June 1973 the Soviet Navy laid the keel for the first of four hybrid steam/nuclear propelled battle cruisers (CBN), the “Kirov” Class (Project 1144.2). Integrated in the ship's extensive and diversified weapons suite  were 20 SS-N-19 vertical launch tubes (P-700 #M-45 Granit or ‘Shipwreck’ missiles) and 16 SA-N-9 vertical launchers for a surface-to-air missile defense system. The lead ship of the class the Kirov entered operational service with the Soviet Northern Fleet in September 1980. Three more ships of the class, Frunze, Kalinin, and Yuri Andropov, were to follow.

Then pride of the Soviet Navy a Kirov Class Battle Cruiser

Aerial view of the forecastle and fore deck of a Kirov Class (CBN) 

A close-up of the hatch arrays of the SS-N-19 (green circle)
and SA-N-9 (blue circle) missile systems

Scale drawing of SS-N-19 'Shipwreck' (P-700 #M-45 Granit)

A detailed cutaway of the SS-N-19 'Shipwreck' missile

Suffices there was a mad scramble within now Naval Ordnance Systems Command to catch-up, with the Vertical Launch System Mk 41 being “conceived” (according to Navy records) in 1976. That was fully 13 years later! (more than the span of a full procurement cycle). The first operational VLS Mk 41, after test and evaluation in the USS Norton Sound (AVM-1), was installed in the USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) commissioned 20 September 1986. More than 11,000 Mk 41 VLS missile cells have been delivered, or are on order, for use on 186 ships and 19 ship classes, in 11 navies around the world. The system currently serves with the US Navy as well as the Australian, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, German, Japanese, New Zealand, Norwegian, South Korean, Spanish, and Turkish navies.

Typical fore deck array of the hatches of a Vertical Launch
System (VLS) Mk 41 in a US Navy guided missile cruiser 

A Tomahawk (BGM-109 series) guided missile launch from
 a VLS Mk 41showing the venting of the missile engine
 exhaust plume in a hot launch

USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) a Ticonderoga Class guided
missile cruiser showing both fore and aft VLS Mk 41 missile
batteries and the AN/SPY-1 radar planar arrays

I still have the scale model of the vertical launched missile system proposed to the US Navy in 1963. It was built from a toilet paper tube (thicker cardboard back then) , and incorporated a inner sleeved shipping canister containing a plastic model of a Standard (RIM-66) surface-to-air missile. The majority of the protruding fittings seen on main launch tube were safety and fire suppression systems, as well as positive constraints on the missile to insure adequate launch pressures. Many of these features would have proven unnecessary, simplifying and streamlining the final design configuration. It's unfortunate that there currently isn't a quick, accurate and reliable forensic dating method that could be applied to the model. Unfortunately all my analyses, drawings, reports, and other presentation materials were left at GD/Pomona. This was due to the fact that most of it was both proprietary and classified information. The green maze background is an intentional "freudian slip" representing the "long green table" symbolic of a Navy Board of Inquiry, which was obviously never held.

In all fairness to the Navy, some of my other efforts, many of which I still can't talk about, were recognized and appreciated. In a matter of what is termed "due course", I was promoted, and after 29 years of service I retired as a Captain.

Overall view of early proposed VLS
system showing the propellant combustion
 chamber to the side of the launcher 

View with deck hatch rotated exposing the tip of the missile
within the launcher

View of launcher showing shipping canister removed from
the launcher

Scale model of a Standard Missile (RIM-66) contained
within the launcher model

Another view of the launcher, shipping
canister, and missile

Thursday, April 4, 2013

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, Uniforms of the United States Army 1775-1975

In the early 1960's the Office of the Chief of Military History commissioned H. Charles McBarron, Jr., the then dean of American military artists, to execute a series of paintings depicting the uniforms of the United States Army from its inception in 1775 to the Present (then 1975). Each painting was initially submitted as a charcoal draft to a board of experts in order to insure absolute accuracy of the uniforms, insignia, arms, equipment, and even the historical geographic background.

The first set in the series entitled, "THE AMERICAN SOLDIER", covering the years 1781-1855, was issued in 1964. The second in the series, covering up to 1863, was issued in 1966. The third set, covering 1775-1965, was issued in 1966. A fourth and final set, supplementing the series was issued in the mid 1970's.

In the author's personal opinion McBarron's efforts at least equal, if not surpass, those of another earlier and renowned American military history artist, Henry Alexander Ogden, who painted a series depicting the United States Army's uniforms to the turn of the twentieth century. As contrasted to Ogden's work McBarron's style tends to be more photographic in nature.

As critical of detail as possible, the only possible slight inaccuracies I can discern are the green hue of the M1936 web gear (based on actual articles should be a lighter khaki, OD7 color came later) shown in the painting of pre-WWII armored corps officers, and the seemingly small barrel diameter of the WWII Thompson sub-machine guns (.45 cal. M1and M1928A1) and the early M-16 rifle (5.56mm) in the Vietnam-era plate.

Even though the paintings are public domain, acknowledgement and gratitude are hereby extended to both the artist, and the Office Chief of Military History, Headquarters, Department of the Army.

Please double click on any of the images to enlarge them.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1775
Aide-de-Camp, General Washington, General Ward.
Troops of General Ward's Division.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1776
"Second Embarkation"
New London, Connecticut

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1781
Artilleryman, New York or New Jersey Infantry Officer.
New England and Middle Atlantic States Infantry Lines.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 11782
Southern States Infantry Officers, Artilleryman.
Southern States Infantry Lines.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1786
The First Regiment, Artillery Officer, Infantryman.
Field Grade Officer and Infantry Detachment.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1794
The Legion, Dragoon, General Wayne, Infantry Officer.
Infantrymen Advancing.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1805
West Point Artillery Cadet, Engineer Corps Private.
Enlisted Men in Fatigue Clothing.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1812
Medical Corps Officer, Light Artillery Sergeant.
Light Artillery on the March. Northern Frontier .

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1814
General and Staff Officers, Rifle Regimental Officer.
Riflemen in Summer Uniform. Northern Frontier.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1815
"Under my own eye"
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1819
Engineer Officer, U.S. Explorer, Infantryman.
Infantry Bandsmen, Indian Commissioners.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1827
Artillery Officer Infantry Sergeant. Fort Monroe, Va.
Artillery School Troops.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1836
Ordnance Sergeant, Dragoon Officer. Fort Leavenworth.
Enlisted Men, First Dragoons, Campaign Dress.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1839
Indian Scout, Infantry Officer.
Infantrymen in Summer and Winter Uniform.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1847
Dragoon, Infantry Officer, Campaign Dress.
Infantry Column, Campaign Dress.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1848-1885
"I deliver to you this column"
Washington, District of Columbia

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1855
Light Artillery Sergeant, Quartermaster Officer.
Light Artillery Battery Advancing.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1863
Engineer Officer, Infantry Sergeant. Western Theater.
Artillery and Infantry Advancing.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1863
Cavalry Sergeant, Ordnance Officer.
Wagon Trains.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1880
Signal Corps Sergeant, Cavalry Officer. New Mexico
Cavalrymen on Parade.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1881-1883
"To elucidate the phenomena of the weather"
Point Barrow, Alaska

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1886
"Necessary details of troops"
Yellowstone National Park 

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1898
Medical Department Officer, Artillery Private. Cuba.
Company Liter Bearers, Field Hospital.


THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1903
Infantry Officer and Sergeant. Philippines.
Infantrymen in Field Dress.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1903
"Thank God for the Soldiers"
San Francisco, California

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1908-1909
"A source of wonder and glad surprise"
Fort Reno, Oklahoma

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1918
Red Cross Nurse, Army Nurse, Medical Officer.
Military Police, Medical Troops, Ambulance. 

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1918
Artillery Officer, Machine Gun Sergeant. France.
Artillery Firing, Field Telephone Crew.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1938
Cavalry Sergeant, General Chaffee.
Officers and Enlisted Men, Cavalry Brigade.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1941
General Officer, Artillery Officer, Cavalry Corporal.
Army Nurses, United States Military Academy Cadets.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1944
Infantrymen, Pacific Theater of Operations.
Amphibious Landing.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1944-1945
"The Red Ball Express"
European Theater of Operations 

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1945
Infantry Officer Advancing. Germany.
Tankers and Infantrymen.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1950
Infantrymen, Pusan Perimeter.
KATUSA, infantry and armor.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1951
Artillery Officer, Medical Service Private. Japan.
Signal Corps Enlisted Men.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1954-1976
"The retreat ceremony"
Fort McClellan, Alabama

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1960
Armor Sergeant, Transportation Corps Officer.
Enlisted Men in Fatigues.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1963
Officer, Private and Sergeant, Airborne Troops.
Women's Army Corps Officer.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1965
Army Aviation, Cavalry, and Special Forces Officers.
Troops boarding helicopters.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1975
"Operation New Life"
Guam

This author had completely forgotten that on completion of the primary series of forty paintings of "THE AMERICAN SOLDIER", McBarron was further commissioned to do a set of paintings depicting America's allies during our military history. Am not certain as to the completion date of this additional series of ten paintings, but it had to have been in the late 1970's.

Some of the units depicted have been forgotten with the passage of time, however others like the 1st Bengal Lancers, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, and the Bersaglieri, are more easily recalled by virtue of their own individual renown.

As in the case of the initial series of forty paintings, careful research for accuracy was done. the only inaccuracy experts might immediately discern is the elongated muzzle length of the Rifle, .303 cal. No.4 Mk I*, and the magazine width (too narrow) in the Light Machine Gun, .303 cal. BREN Mk II, in the hands of the Canadians (based on actual weapons in author's personal collection).

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1780
Spanish Troops at Pensacola, Florida 

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1781
French Troops at Chester, Pennsylvania.
Rochambeau and General Washington

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1814
Free Men of Colour and Choctaw Indian
Volunteers at New Orleans, Louisiana

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1862
The Citizens Corps of Wisconsin at
South Mountain, Maryland

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1900
1st Bengal Lancers and the 6th U.S. Cavalry
in China

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1918
Italian Bersaglieri Infantry and the
332nd U.S. Infantry in Italy

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1945
Philippine Guerillas in the Liberation
of Los Banos, Luzon

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1945
Brazilian Expeditionary Force in Italy

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1951
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
at Kap'yong, Korea

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER, 1966
Korean Capital (Tiger) Division
Phu Cat Mountains, Vietnam