Monthly Archives: January 2016

Radar

by .
Installation of the CXAM-1 air search radar in August 1941. It was replaced in October 1943 with the SK-2 radar. In June of 1945 two new air search radars were installed: SC-5 and the SCR-70.

Installation of the CXAM-1 air search radar in August 1941. It was replaced in October 1943 with the SK-2 radar. In June of 1945 two new air search radars were installed: SC-5 and the SCR-70.

“A group of us whose last name began with B were all assigned to the radar gang for some deep secret that only the military would know why. That was in November of 1942. Even the word radar was classified at the time. You could not reveal it stood for radio detection and ranging. We had an old set of bedsprings [CXAM] up on our foremost. The little air search radar was just a small cathode ray tube and it had no calibrations on it whatsoever. We had a little piece of scotch tape across the front of it and marked in ink were increments of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60.

By practice and error we had no way of determining altitude…or how many there might be in a group. We could just pick up some signals coming in. That was the early radar. We were one of the few ships in the formation that was equipped with radar.

They called the new radar gang CT Division, communications technician. They didn’t know what else to do with it. Even the radar rate was the same as the radio rate except it had an arrow through it. It grew. It became more sophisticated.

You are trained to detect something that wasn’t normal. Of course, trying to determine what is clouds because the radar would pick up cloud formation and you would get a signal back. It had no speed and no direction. Prematurely we went to air defense many times at night when someone called that they had contact and didn’t.”

Everette Beaver, Radarman 2/c, attended Radar Operators School in October 1943


Jerry Johnson describes radar aboard the Battleship North Carolina.

“Radars are devices which the Allies use to detect the approach of enemy aircraft and ships, and to determine the distance (range) to the enemies’ forces. It is one of the marvels made possible by the electron tube. Radars operate through fog, storms, and darkness, as well as through cloudless skies. They are, therefore, superior to both telescopes and acoustic listening devices.”

The First Public Account of Radar in Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, June 1943

Lowell Price Tabor seated at the air search radar after June 1945.

Lowell Price Tabor seated at the air search radar after June 1945.

“When we first went into commission [April 1941], the thought of radar was just fantastic. When you consider your antiaircraft, you are completely flatfooted until some joker drops out of the clouds. You have a different problem than if you have advanced warning as to their approach.”

LCDR John Kirkpatrick, Assistant Gunnery Officer and Air Defense Officer

Photograph of the Battleship’s guns firing during the Shakedown cruise. The CXAM radar was removed by the censors.

Photograph of the Battleship’s guns firing during the Shakedown cruise. The CXAM radar was removed by the censors.

“A second class radioman by the name of [Adam] Miller was the most experienced and the best qualified operator of this radar. He sat on a stool facing the console. He was superb in his ability to look at the A scope of that radar and interpret all those strange flickers of light. He could distinguish carriers from battleships and cruisers from destroyers. He was a real pro at radar navigation. He was the eyes of the ship in many dark and dangerous situations.”

LT Ben Blee, Combat Intelligence Officer and Assistant CIC Officer

The Combat Information Center crew, 1945. Jerry Johnson and Everette Beaver are in the photo.

The Combat Information Center crew, 1945. Jerry Johnson and Everette Beaver are in the photo.

“We had no idea what radar really was. I had visualized it when I first heard about it as sort of like a modern television screen. The first thing my boss told me in London, ‘what do you know about radar?’ I said, ‘nothing.’ The British called it RDF for disguise purposes. The school at Portsmouth was for fleet officers who would be exposed to search radars, fire control radars. And they started right from the push-pull vacuum tubes right up on through the circuit. You weren’t supposed to become an expert repairman or technician but it was just enough background so that you not only later learned what radar could do but had some idea of how and why.”

Rear Admiral Thomas Howard Morton (CDR Morton, gunnery officer on BB55)

Recruiting booklet for a Radio Technician, 1945. It was “one of the war’s newest and most exciting developments.”

Recruiting booklet for a Radio Technician, 1945. It was “one of the war’s newest and most exciting developments.”

 

Barber Shops

by .
Officers Barbershop

Officers Barbershop

The Ship had six barbers and two barber shops. “Attention Officers – an officer’s shop is in the making. We are expecting to see a lot more of you.”

Tarheel, August 16, 1941

Barber Shop Sign

Barber Shop Sign

“Each division had several brass medallions with the division number or letter. The number of medallions was based on the size of your division. That way, the whole division couldn’t swamp the shop at one time. The first class petty officer would set up a relay. We did pay for our haircuts, about 10 cents. That money went into the Ship’s welfare fund.”

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Barber Shop cartoon

Barber Shop cartoon

“If you tipped the barbers they took good care of you.”

Ray Horn, Seaman 2/c

Marine haircut drawing

Marine haircut drawing

“Haircuts were free, however if didn’t want to get scalped and didn’t trust that the barber was in a good mood, a tip sometimes assured a decent haircut. I do recall a story about a guy who complained about his haircut after he had given the barber a buck so the barber placed the dollar bill on his head and shaved around it.”

Jerry Johnson, Seaman 2/c

John Dettman giving haircut

John Dettman giving haircut

“Dettman, my barber, always took special care that I looked the part of an inspection-detailed Yeoman and I always tipped him half a buck. If asked I would have said that he simply bought the Lucky Tiger [hair tonic] and I was repaying him, which is true.”

Gordon Knapp, Yeoman 1/c

Group in barber shop

Group in barber shop

“They did cut hair in hide-a-way places off hours. That was money they kept. The guys could specify more what they wanted and hopefully they would pass inspection with it. Sometimes the captain would catch them and send them back for another haircut.”

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Ashe Barber Shop cartoon

Ashe Barber Shop cartoon

“There were bootleg barbers around the ship. They would cut your hair the way you wanted it, not necessarily regulation. They would also cut when the Barber Shop was closed or the line was wrapped around. A tip was expected. Tips were modest, 10, 15 or at most 20 cents.”

Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c

Art McCaskey

Art McCaskey

“Hair had to be kept short. At first, they didn’t allow beards or moustaches but later in the war they allowed both within limits.”

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Jack Richards, Electrician's Mate 3c

Jack Richards, Electrician’s Mate 3c

“The Barber in Charge will be responsible for the proper cutting of hair in accordance with existing regulations and the prohibition of special service and the accepting of tips by the barbers. Haircuts will be the only service performed. Tonics, shaves, etc. will not be given except by special order of the Ship’s Store Officer.”

Lt. Commander H.L. Foote Jr., Supply Dept., December 1944

Sailor with beard

Sailor with beard

“I used to see a lot of men in line waiting for haircuts so I told all the barbers on board that I never wanted to see them shave a man’s cheek or neck because I thought it was a bunch of foolishness. If you shaved it, it would grow out in two days and it didn’t make a bit of difference and it would save them ten or five minutes on every man.”

Commander Joe Stryker, Executive Officer on BB55