Skip to comments."The Mosquito Fleet" - PT Boats
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you know that "mosquito" is the Spanish word for the bloodsucking insects that observant Spaniards saw swarming around mosques?
|Warships Associated With
World War II in the Pacific
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.|
|Displacement:||55 tons full load|
|Width:||21 feet 6 inches|
|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|
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, 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.
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".