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"The Mosquito Fleet" - PT Boats
Naval Historical Center ^ | unknown | Umknownl

Posted on 11/16/2002 8:15:43 AM PST by SAMWolf

PT 109 was one of the hundreds of motor torpedo boats (PT) of the PT 103 class completed between 1942 and 1945 by Elco Naval Division of Electric Boat Company at Bayonne, New Jersey. The Elco boats were the largest in size of the three types of PT boats built for U.S. use during World War II. Wooden-hulled, 80 feet long with a 20-foot, 8-inch beam, the Elco PT boats had three 12-cylinder Packard gasoline engines generating a total of 4,500 horsepower for a designed speed of 41 knots. With accommodations for 3 officers and 14 men, the crew varied from 12 to 14. Its full-load displacement was 56 tons. Early Elco boats had two 20mm guns, four .50-caliber machine guns, and two or four 21-inch torpedo tubes. Some of them carried depth charges or mine racks. Later boats mounted one 40mm gun and four torpedo launching racks. Many boats received ad-hoc refits at advanced bases, mounting such light guns as Army Air Forces 37mm aircraft guns and even Japanese 23mm guns. Some PTs later received rocket launchers.

Originally conceived as antiship weapons, PTs were publicly, but erroneously, credited with sinking Japanese warships during the early months after Pearl Harbor. During the long Solomons campaign, they operated usefully at night and times of low visibility against Japanese barge traffic in the "Slot." Throughout World War II, PTs operated in the southern, western, and northern Pacific, as well as in the Mediterranean and the English Channel. Some served off Normandy during that invasion. Though their primary mission continued to be seen as attack of surface ships and craft, PTs were also used effectively to lay mines and smoke screens, to rescue downed aviators, and to carry out intelligence or raider operations. Almost all surviving Elco PTs were disposed of shortly after V-J Day. One Elco boat, PT 617, survives at Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts.

Although more 80-foot Elco boats were built than any other type of motor torpedo boat, other types were built by the U. S. The British-designed 70-foot Vosper boats which were built for Lend Lease fired 18-inch torpedoes. Since the U.S. produced the heavier and longer 21-inch torpedoes, the U.S. Navy wanted a larger PT boat. After experimentation, the first PT boat built in any quantity was the 77-foot type built by Elco. These boats were used early in World War II. In 1943 in the Solomons, three of these 77-foot PT boats, PT 59, PT 60 and PT 61, were even converted into gunboats by stripping the boat of all original armament except for the two twin .50 caliber gun mounts, and then adding two 40mm guns and four more twin .50 caliber machine guns. LTJG John F. Kennedy was the first commanding officer of PT 59 after the conversion.

Although the Huckins Yacht Company of Jacksonville, Florida, built a few 78 foot boats of the PT 95 class, the 80-foot Elco boats and the 78-foot Higgins boats became the standard motor torpedo boats of World War II. The Higgins boats which were built by Higgins Industries in New Orleans, Louisiana, were 78-foot boats of the PT 71 class. The Higgins boats had the same beam, full load displacement, engine, generators, shaft horsepower, trial speed, armament, and crew accommodations as the 80-foot Elco boats.

PT BOAT BUILDERS

US Navy PTs were predominately built by Elco Navy Division of Electric Boat Company, Bayonne, New Jersey, Higgins Industries in New Orleans and Huckins Yacht Corp in Jacksonville, Florida. Other builders include, Canadian Power Boat, which built 4 Scott-Paine design boats. Harbor Boat Building, Robert Jacob Yard, Annapolis Yacht Yard and Herreschoff also built (Assembled) PT's from Elco kits and others. The Elco Navy Division manufactured more USN PTs than the other seven. It was later absorbed by General Dynamics, which is still building USN vessels (currently a sub.) Huckins is still building yachts. Higgins went out of business many years ago. Higgins is best remembered for building landing craft.

WHO ARE PT BOAT VETERANS

All men who served with and supported PTs are considered PT Boat veterans. This includes those serving in one unofficial tender or mother ship and 19 official tenders plus thousands who were assigned to Base Forces and other support units. There were roughly 80 shore bases for PTs around the world.

PT BOAT AREAS OF OPERATIONS (WWII)

Theaters of operations for PT boats: Atlantic, Mediterranean, English Channel, Caribbean, Aleutians, Pacific.

Training: Melville (Portsmouth), Rhode Island.
Supplementary training: Taboga, Panama.

PT BOATERS RECEIVING THE MEDAL OF HONOR

Two PT men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor: John D. Bulkeley and Murray Preston. Bulkeley retired in 1988 as Vice Admiral after 59 years active duty.

Preston's award was for the rescue of a downed pilot in Wasile Bay, Halmahera Islands, Pacific Theater, while in Ron 33. Previously he had been in Ron 1. He died January 7, 1968.

Bulkeley received his award from President Roosevelt for "Breakout from Corregidor," the operation that took MacArthur, his family and Philippine officials out of the Philippines as the islands fell to the Japanese. Bulkeley carefully does not refer to this operation as a rescue. At that time he was in Ron 3, the squadron known as "The Expendables." In 1945 the movie, "They Were Expendable," based on White's book, was released. Actual PTs were used in the filming. Those boats came from Ron 4.

PT BOATERS KILLED IN ACTION (WWII)

Killed in Action PT men are counted at 331. A plaque in their memory can be seen in the reception area of Newberry Hall (PT Boats, Inc. Museum and Library.) KIAs are actual death in combat. Accidental deaths aren't counted.

HOW MANY PT BOATERS - SERVED IN WWII

Total thought to have served in all aspects of PT service: 60,000-64,000. It's impossible to determine number of replacements. Everyone didn't go through Melville MTBSTC and MTBRTU. Oft-published statements that PT men were all volunteers are untrue.

PT BOAT LOSSES IN WWII

Out of 531 PTs placed in US Navy service, 69 were lost:
5 - destroyed by enemy surface ship gunfire;
1 - rammed by enemy ship; 1 - rammed enemy ship;
1 - enemy aircraft strafing;
4 - enemy bombings;
2 - kamikaze attacks;
5 - enemy shore batteries;
4 - enemy mines;
1 - damaged by enemy fire then destroyed;
2 - lost in transit, tanker torpedoed by enemy.
Total: 26 lost by enemy action.

Additional losses:
18 - grounded in enemy waters and destroyed to prevent capture;
3 - destroyed to prevent capture;
3 - destroyed by US aircraft;
2 - destroyed by Australian aircraft;
2 - destroyed by US ships;
1 - destroyed by enemy shore fire or wild shot from US warship;
5 - grounded/destroyed outside enemy waters or in storms;
6 - fire or explosion in port;
3 - collisions.
Total: 43 lost by accidents, friendly fire or sea conditions.

Above figures do not include fates of Lend-Lease boats.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: navy; ptboats; wwii
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This Thread is dedicated to SpookBrat's Grandfather, part of America's Greatest Generation and a PT Boater.
1 posted on 11/16/2002 8:15:43 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SpookBrat; souris; Victoria Delsoul; MistyCA; AntiJen; SassyMom; Kathy in Alaska; bluesagewoman; ...

2 posted on 11/16/2002 8:18:17 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf
Good Morning SAM, thanks for the ping.

"The Mosquito Fleet" - PT Boats, wow!!
3 posted on 11/16/2002 8:22:48 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: bentfeather
Good Morning, Bentfeather.
4 posted on 11/16/2002 8:29:28 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf
Dang.....I was so excited and read the thread and was about to post, then I saw you say something about my Grandpa. You are too much. ((((((hugs)))))) LOL I didn't know you were "dedicating" it to my Grandfather. He is in the hospital right now and I'll have my aunt print it out and take it to him. He'll be so proud to see the PT Boat honored. He used to go to the reunions every year without fail, but now he is too old and sick. *sniff*

Here are his pictures. I wish I had more.

That's him with his father.

Here is my Grandpa and my Grandma. High School sweethearts and deeply in love their whole life. They were the cutest couple.


5 posted on 11/16/2002 8:38:40 AM PST by SpookBrat
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To: SpookBrat
Thanks for posting you Grandfather's pictures Spooky.

When you take this to him tell him, Thanks for his Service from me.
6 posted on 11/16/2002 8:42:08 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf
John Kennedy -- what a loser -- the only PT boat commander in the entire war who managed to get rammed at sea after stupidly and irresponsibly shutting-down his engines at night. Joseph kennedy -- what a manipulator of the press and the Navy -- managing to make a hero of John after he lost his boat and some of his crew. The Kennedy Saga continues...
7 posted on 11/16/2002 8:45:19 AM PST by pabianice
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To: SAMWolf
This is so exciting. I wanted to do a thread about this, but the info was too overwhelming. You pulled it off and I'm proud of you. Thank you so much. I will tell him what you said and I'm sure he would thank you as well. He's a good man and a hero to me. I love my grandfather.
8 posted on 11/16/2002 8:46:23 AM PST by SpookBrat
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To: pabianice
LOL! That was always my opinion too. They were retreating and he managed to lose his boat by getting it rammed.

I will give him credit for saving the life of his crewman, you can't take that away from him
9 posted on 11/16/2002 8:57:36 AM PST by SAMWolf
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: SAMWolf; SpookBrat
thanks for doing this thread about the torpedo boats,
Sam! Spooky, your family has given a lot to the safety and protection of this nation. My thanks to them and to all of the others who so bravely walked in those shoes.
11 posted on 11/16/2002 9:08:05 AM PST by MistyCA
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To: SpookBrat
You have a beautiful family that I know you are very proud of. My prayers go out to your grandpa in the hospital, and to all of your family.
12 posted on 11/16/2002 9:09:53 AM PST by MistyCA
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To: MistyCA; Mr. Spooky1; SassyMom; AntiJen; HiJinx; Victoria Delsoul; 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; ...
Thanks Misty. My grandpa started the "patriot defend and love your country" tradition. I wish I had pictures of all his grandsons who have served or are serving now. I'll see if I can't dig some out. We are a very patriotic, proud family.

He served for many years afterwards and retired from the reserves. God love him. I love you Grandpa. I know Aunt Georgia will print this out, and I'm kissing you on your bald head. :)

I wasn't going to ping everyone I know, but pride got the best of me. FRiends, read the PT boat thread. This is what my grandpa did during the war.

13 posted on 11/16/2002 9:35:54 AM PST by SpookBrat
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To: SAMWolf
Thanksfor posting this Sam
14 posted on 11/16/2002 9:38:59 AM PST by Mr. Spooky1
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To: SAMWolf

15 posted on 11/16/2002 9:40:00 AM PST by SpookBrat
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To: SAMWolf; Victoria Delsoul; SpookBrat; MistyCA; vikingchick; AntiJen; harpseal; Travis McGee; ...
Great thread SAM. A little trivia:

Did you know that "mosquito" is the Spanish word for the bloodsucking insects that observant Spaniards saw swarming around mosques?



16 posted on 11/16/2002 9:44:40 AM PST by Sabertooth
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: SAMWolf; Victoria Delsoul; SpookBrat; MistyCA; vikingchick; AntiJen; harpseal; Travis McGee; ...
Warships Associated With
World War II in the Pacific

PT BOAT 796

Torpedo Boats

Higgins-type

PT Boat 796
PT Boat 796, exterior view of forward deck, Fall River, MA
(Photo by USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, 1985)


Name: PT Boat 796
Location: Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts
Owner: PT Boats, Inc.
Condition: Excellent, altered

Displacement: 55 tons full load
Length: 78 feet
Width: 21 feet 6 inches
Range: ~500 miles
Speed: 44 knots maximum, varying with load and sea conditions
Machinery: 3-1,550 HP Packard engines
Armament: 2-Mark 13 torpedoes, 2-twin .50 caliber machine guns, 1-twin 20mm machine gun, 1-single 20mm machine gun, 1-single 40mm machine gun

Builder: Higgins Company, New Orleans, Louisiana
Launched: mid-1945
Commissioned: July 1945


Description

PT (Patrol, Torpedo) Boat 796 is a Higgins-type torpedo boat built for service in World War II. She was built by the Higgins Company in New Orleans, Louisiana, launched in mid-1945, and commissioned as a unit of PT Squadron 43 in July of that year. Like all American PT boats, 796 (nicknamed "Tailender") was constructed of mahogany and plywood and powered by three 1,550-horsepower Packard engines which used high-octane aviation gasoline as fuel.

PT 796 is in excellent condition and retains its World War II integrity.

PT Boats--General

PT boats, as they were known in World War II, were a British invention, adopted and used by the U.S. Navy. The idea of the PT boat was that of the small, fast--and ultimately, expendable--interdiction ship, armed with torpedoes and machine guns for cutting enemy supply lines, for harassing enemy forces, and for short-range oceanic scouting. American PT boats served during World War II in the Philippines and the Southwestern Pacific areas, in the English Channel, off Normandy, and in the Mediterranean Sea.

There were 43 PT squadrons, with a normal complement of 12 boats. Some 300 PT boaters were killed in World War II, an extremely high loss rate for this comparatively small, elite service.

PT boats were a significant American naval warship type in World War II. They were responsible for numerous enemy losses, in warships, materiel, and personnel. They spawned a number of offshoots - the Japanese "Shinyo" suicide boat; the fast, hydrofoil missile ships of today; and the numerous inshore patrol craft used by many navies of the 1980s.

Significance

At the present time there are four extant PT Boats remaining. PT 617 is now under going restoration and will be displayed opposite PT 796 at Battleship Cove. PT 619 is in very poor condition in Memphis, Tennessee, and has lost most of its World War II integrity. Another PT Boat (Hull number unknown) is in Camp Wythycombe, Oregon, but this boat has no armament and is in need of additional restoration. PT 796, thus is the best representative of this class of warships. PT 796 is in excellent condition and retains her World War II integrity.

PT 796 is also the PT Boat that was used in President Kennedy's Inaugural Parade in January 1961, painted with the numerals "109".

PT Boat 796
PT Boat 796, deck view from stern looking forward
(Photo by USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, 1985)

PT Boat 796
PT Boat 796 crew's quarters
(Photo by USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, 1985)

PT Boat 796
PT Boat 796 engine room
(Photo by USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, 1985)

PT Boat 796
PT Boat 796, exterior view of hull
(Photo by USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, 1985)

LINK



18 posted on 11/16/2002 10:04:25 AM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Sabertooth
I think rather that it probably came from "mosca" the Spanish word for fly.
19 posted on 11/16/2002 10:22:41 AM PST by PUGACHEV
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To: SAMWolf
I recall being a child in the '50s and fishing with my father from a small motorboat in a bay behind Atlantic City when a converted PT boat cruised by. No one should think of these as small boats. The darn thing was as big as a house and those triple 12 cylinder Packards made quite an impression on me and quite a wake too
20 posted on 11/16/2002 10:28:24 AM PST by PUGACHEV
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To: PUGACHEV
I think rather that it probably came from "mosca" the Spanish word for fly.

Do you happen to know the origins of "mosca?" What's the Latin for fly?

I may have it backward, it maybe that the mosques are named after the bugs, but it's my understanding that the words mosque and mosquito share a common origin.




21 posted on 11/16/2002 10:32:48 AM PST by Sabertooth
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To: SAMWolf

22 posted on 11/16/2002 10:51:05 AM PST by aomagrat
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To: SpookBrat; SAMWolf
WOW!!!! Great thread, Sam!!!!!

Spooky, please tell your grandpa THANK YOU!!!!

23 posted on 11/16/2002 11:14:17 AM PST by SassyMom
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To: Sabertooth
Actually, I don't know what the latin word for fly might be, but there could be some connection between the words mosque and mosca: it does sound reasonable, anyway.

Below is a link to the Maryland Department of Agriculture website which for some reason has a short history of the word "mosquito".

http://www.mda.state.md.us/mosquito/mosquito.htm
24 posted on 11/16/2002 11:20:46 AM PST by PUGACHEV
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To: SAMWolf
Index bump. Nice thread! Prayers for your Grandad, Spookbrat.
25 posted on 11/16/2002 11:21:08 AM PST by FreedomPoster
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To: SpookBrat
I wasn't going to ping everyone I know, but pride got the best of me.

Very understandable pride, too. BTTT: former Navy bump.

26 posted on 11/16/2002 11:35:17 AM PST by Aeronaut
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To: souris
Thanks souris. Great job at digging up those ads.
27 posted on 11/16/2002 11:43:53 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: Mr. Spooky1; SpookBrat
I remeber Spooky telling me her grandfather served in PT Boats and how she wanted to do a thread. I just beat her too it.
28 posted on 11/16/2002 11:45:32 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: Sabertooth
Why am I not surprised.
29 posted on 11/16/2002 11:46:13 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SpookBrat; SAMWolf
I wasn't going to ping everyone I know, but pride got the best of me. FRiends, read the PT boat thread. This is what my grandpa did during the war.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Spooky. Of course you should be proud of your family. You grandfather was a great man. Love the pics, too.

Thanks for the thread, Sam. Good job!

30 posted on 11/16/2002 12:10:46 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: Sabertooth
Thanks for the info, Saber.
31 posted on 11/16/2002 12:14:30 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: pabianice; SAMWolf; Victoria Delsoul; souris; SassyMom; Sabertooth; All
I just got off the phone with my aunt (hi Georgia). She said Grandpa is going to be mad someone said something bad about Kennedy. LOL

He was friends with John Kennedy. He got cussed out by him once. LOL He was an officer and they had to call him "Sir", but at night, they were able to kick back and talk about their families.

Just needed to soften the blow a little bit for Grandpa when he reads the thread.

32 posted on 11/16/2002 12:31:38 PM PST by SpookBrat
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To: Aeronaut
Thanks FRiend. :) Nice to see you.
33 posted on 11/16/2002 12:32:00 PM PST by SpookBrat
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To: Victoria Delsoul; Sabertooth
You're welcome. Thanks for the additionl info.
34 posted on 11/16/2002 12:33:22 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SpookBrat
LOL! Thanks Spooky. :-)
35 posted on 11/16/2002 12:36:30 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: aomagrat; SpookBrat; SAMWolf
It was movies that made us kids love PT boats and comic books-go-to-war. Spook, I think you look like your Gramma. Ask Grampa about this and SALUTE him for me. Sam,thanks for another fine thread.
36 posted on 11/16/2002 12:38:02 PM PST by larryjohnson
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To: SpookBrat
Kennedy's PT-109 is found, 59 years after it sank

By Dan Vergano

A team sponsored by the National Geographic Society announced Wednesday it has discovered the wreckage of PT-109, John F. Kennedy's famed torpedo boat during World War II.

For nearly six decades, PT-109 has rested undiscovered on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, its last captain became president and its crew's survival, after being rammed by a Japanese destroyer, became part of the Kennedy legend.

Explorers lead by Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard of the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Conn., found the boat using sonar. During a six-day expedition in May, they photographed a number of World War II vintage artifacts, including a loaded Mark 18 torpedo tube and aiming mechanism.

Given that no other torpedo boats sank in the area, a U.S. Naval Historical Center statement concludes, "this is likely the wreck of the PT-109." Most of the boat lies upright, buried in sand beneath about 1,300 feet of water in the Blackett Strait off the Solomon Islands, Ballard says. His team spent several days looking for the wreckage on a sand-covered ocean floor amid swirling currents.

PT-109 was rammed in 1943 by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. "Kennedy was turning the boat to fire when it was rammed," Ballard says. "So the destroyer hit it at a sharp angle and sheared off part of the boat." Two crewmembers died in the collision; Kennedy and 10 others survived. Kennedy's rescue of his crew, after a night aboard the sinking boat's hull and an arduous swim to a nearby island, made him a war hero.

Kennedy, then a lieutenant junior grade, received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal "for extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109."

"We consider the ship a grave," Ballard says. No artifacts were taken from the site; Ballard says that no one plans to raise the boat. As a warship, PT-109 belongs to the Navy, which leaves wrecks undisturbed.

"Finding PT-109 is especially meaningful to the members of my family, but we also believe it represents the story of all the brave young men who fought with such courage in the South Pacific during World War II," says JFK's brother Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., in a statement released by his office. "I want to commend Dr. Ballard and the National Geographic for their very careful and respectful research."

Sonar did detect what may be the boat's engine room, says Ballard, whose book Collision With History is due out in December. Accounts by Kennedy and a naval coast watcher of the hull's drift were key to narrowing the team's search area down to a 1.5-mile by 1.5-mile box.

The December National Geographic magazine will contain a full description of the expedition; a documentary is planned for November on MSNBC.
37 posted on 11/16/2002 12:38:21 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: larryjohnson; aomagrat
Thanks Larry.

aomagrat, I remember seeing "They Were Expendable" as a kid.
38 posted on 11/16/2002 12:40:17 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SpookBrat; SAMWolf
Wonderful thread Sam!

Spookie, your family pictures add just the perfect human touch to this story.

Thanks to both of you! {{HUGS}}
39 posted on 11/16/2002 12:47:48 PM PST by Jen
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To: Sabertooth; Victoria Delsoul
LOL...better ask Victoria! :)
40 posted on 11/16/2002 1:18:47 PM PST by MistyCA
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To: SAMWolf
Thanks Sam, interesting report. My Uncle, Leonard Kane, was a radioman aboard a PTB during WWII. Unfortunately he died about 6 years ago. I will foward this to my cousin(his son) in N.J.
41 posted on 11/16/2002 4:39:33 PM PST by gc4nra
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To: gc4nra
I thank your uncle for his service.
42 posted on 11/16/2002 4:51:47 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: PUGACHEV
Packards eh?

All this time I thought they had used the same motor that was in the P51 mustang....an allison V-12.

I once saw a tractor at a tractor pull that supossedly had a motor from an old PT boat....that's what the owner claimed, anyway.
43 posted on 11/16/2002 4:57:44 PM PST by mamelukesabre
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To: mamelukesabre
The P-51A was the only model with the Allison. Beginning with the B they switched to the Merlin.
44 posted on 11/16/2002 5:13:49 PM PST by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: pabianice
Look for the February issue of Naval History magazine where you'll find: "Coming in February Naval History: Article analyzing evidence that John F.
Kennedy's order stalled the engines on the PT-109 -- and that he never
admitted to the error in public -- along with a piece criticizing a recent
History Channel program on this subject."
45 posted on 11/16/2002 5:16:21 PM PST by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: SMEDLEYBUTLER
What did they do with the allison motors after the switch? Did they ever put them in PT boats?
46 posted on 11/16/2002 5:27:10 PM PST by mamelukesabre
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To: SAMWolf; SpookBrat
Great post! Congradulations SpookBrat. Your grandad had to be tough when the going got real tough! Got to admire those men and women from that generation....because of them, we are free to be here today. My dad was Chief of Staff of Guantanamo Bay in the mid sixties. He served under Admiral Bulkeley, who was Commandant. I had no idea of his fame then. I can tell you, he was hell on wheels and would have hated to be on the wrong side of him! He used to careen around the base in an open jeep with a 375 mag strapped to his waist. Great memories!
47 posted on 11/16/2002 5:51:27 PM PST by TheLion
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Comment #48 Removed by Moderator

To: skull stomper
You're welcome Skull Stomper. I know SpookBrat wanted to honor her grandfather.
49 posted on 11/16/2002 7:07:23 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: SAMWolf; SpookBrat
Wonderful thread. Thank you so much for posting this in Spookie's Grandfather's honor.
50 posted on 11/16/2002 8:17:50 PM PST by RadioAstronomer
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