From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

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bru888
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From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

Post by bru888 » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:44 pm

Someday, with this game or another, I would love to recreate dramatic battle scenes like this one:

On 7 April [1943] the Japanese raided the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area with 177 planes, of which about 25 were shot down. Two bombs sank the New Zealand corvette HMNZS Moa. [USS] Niagara, in the thick of the fight, was north of the harbor, moored to the west bank of the Maliali River, heading downstream with minesweeper Rail (AM-26) tied up outboard well aft. Nine enemy planes came up the river, none of them over 150 feet above the water. Niagara and Rail took them all under fire.

The first plane, already aflame, crashed into trees about 1,000 yards astern of Niagara. The next two planes escaped, but the fourth rapidly lost altitude in a stream of white smoke to explode behind the hills to the north. The following two raiders passed within 150 yards and attempted to strafe the ship, but their firing was erratic and they wobbled uncertainly as they passed through Niagara's heavy fire before crashing into the woods off her port quarter The next two planes sheared up and to the right when taken under fire. One trailed light brown smoke as it disappeared close over the hilltops abaft Niagara's port beam. The other passed to starboard and crashed in the hills on her starboard quarter.


If I was on the deck of USS Niagara, manning one of its .50-cal. machine guns, I'd be scared spitless. But what a magnificent scene to recall later in life if I survived Niagara taking on those nine strafing planes coming up the river.

But, I'm ahead of myself.

I subscribe to American History magazine. A recent issue contained an article titled:
Commandeered by the Navy, Plutocrat’s Maritime Plaything Went Down a Gallant Warship.

It's about the Hi-Esmaro, a family yacht laid down in 1928. It looked like this in those days:

AMHP-210200-YACHT-02.jpg
AMHP-210200-YACHT-02.jpg (197.02 KiB) Viewed 453 times

"Asbestos magnate" Hiram Manville and his wife sailed up and down the East Coast, and twice across the Atlantic, until 1940 when, in apparently a patriotic mood, the family sold the vessel to the U.S. Navy at a substantial discount. The Navy converted the yacht into a warship:

USS_Niagara_(PG-52)_entering_Pearl_Harbor_on_31_March_1942.jpg
USS_Niagara_(PG-52)_entering_Pearl_Harbor_on_31_March_1942.jpg (170.19 KiB) Viewed 453 times

albeit a small warship; here it is between two cruisers:

HMNZS_Leander_(75),_USS_Chicago_(CA-29)_and_USS_Niagara_(PG-52)_at_anchor_off_Suva_in_February_1942_(80-G-7293).jpg
HMNZS_Leander_(75),_USS_Chicago_(CA-29)_and_USS_Niagara_(PG-52)_at_anchor_off_Suva_in_February_1942_(80-G-7293).jpg (182.65 KiB) Viewed 453 times

At first, Niagara was used as a dormitory and training ship, then it was converted into a gunboat (PG-52). As the war in the Pacific heated up, the need for tenders to PT boat squadrons became apparent. Accordingly, Niagara was reclassified as the Navy's first motor torpedo boat tender and redesignated AGP–1 (Auxiliary Gun, Patrol).

The Manville family never got the chance to reacquire their yacht. Niagara was sunk by a bomb dropped from a Mitsubishi 97 heavy bomber near New Guinea in May 1943. (Actually, it was disabled, abandoned, and deliberately sunk by one of its own PT boats.)

The story of Niagara is like any other unit in wartime: maybe 90% or more of the time idling, maneuvering, serving mundanely, then punctuated by episodes like that April 1943 air attack off Tulagi (the text of which I took from Wikipedia). A scenario based on the career of Niagara would be boring but I would love to portray that attack as witnessed from its deck that day. Some other game, perhaps.
- Bru

Admiral_Horthy
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Re: From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

Post by Admiral_Horthy » Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:35 pm

What an interesting topic. Thanks Bru

bru888
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Re: From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

Post by bru888 » Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:44 pm

My pleasure. I don't think I violated any copyright by linking to the article; it's an open site with no pay wall. I guess they figure it will stimulate interest in the magazine.
- Bru

Erik2
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Re: From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

Post by Erik2 » Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:50 am

Classic Bru :D

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Re: From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

Post by LynxCom » Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:55 am

Interesting, thanks for the article.

bru888
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Re: From rich man's yacht to U.S. warship

Post by bru888 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:11 pm

It's the history that keeps me designing.
- Bru

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