Category Archives: Naval History

UK Warship Losses in the Mediterranean During WW2

Most of my naval history reading has been about the Pacific War. This means I have not read much about the Battle of the Mediterranean. I recently heard a historian (Drach) say that the UK lost 135 major warships in the Mediterranean Theater during WW2. I must admit that I was surprised at the high losses and decided to investigate further. This theater saw numerous major battles (examples like Taranto, Cape Matapan) and some real technology innovations (example in Figure 1). Continue reading

 
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Duplicate Drach’s U-Boat Tonnage and Sunk Charts

I am a huge fan of Drachinifel’s naval history channel. The other day, Drach was participating in the Armchair Admiral’s program, during which he presented two charts on the Battle of the Atlantic that I have never seen before: (1) A chart of tonnage sunk by U-boats versus time and (2) a chart of U-boats sunk versus time. The unique aspect of the charts was that the data points were colored based on whether the Enigma cipher was broken at the time and whether centimetric (microwave) radar was deployed. These charts really got me thinking about the impact of technology on the struggle against U-boats. Continue reading

 
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MacArthur’s Photo on Nimitz’s Desk?

Quote of the Day Asking for help isn’t giving up, it is refusing to give up. — Charlie Mackesy I have been reading a couple of books about Admiral Chester Nimitz and his conduct of the Pacific War during WW2. … Continue reading

 
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Sunken Ships at Ironbottom Sound

I just finished watching a series of videos on the Guadalcanal Campaign by Drachinifel, whose work is superb (Figure 2). The marines derisively referred to this campaign as Operation Shoestring because of the resource limitations. Things were no better for the sailors. Unlike many WW2 island campaigns, more sailors died in the battles than ground troops (link). The Allies, and in particular the US Navy (USN), had to learn the hard way that the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was a force that deserved respect. Many Allied ships were sunk while learning this lesson. Continue reading

 
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Ben Franklin and the Gulf Stream

One of my favorite Youtube channels is Wind Hippie Sailing. The Wind Hippie is a free spirit who does not worry about little details like currents and wind – this is the charm of her channel.  While sailing from North Carolina to Puerto Rico, she soon learned the power of the Gulf Stream when she discovered that she was making very slow (maybe negative) progress. Fortunately, she was able to get out of that situation. I was worried she might end up somewhere dangerous, like a reef. Continue reading

 
Posted in History of Science and Technology, Naval History, Navigation | 6 Comments

Taffy 3 Total Displacement vs Yamato Using R

I was watching a documentary on the Battle Off Samar on my favorite Youtube naval channel called Drachinifel. During this show, Drachinifel stated that the battleship Yamato displaced more tonnage than the entire Task Group 77.4.3 (call sign Taffy 3) defense force. I found this a remarkable statement and one that I could verify using a little bit of web scraping. Because one of the students I tutor use R, I thought this would be a good exercise to implement using R and Rmarkdown (a great report generation tool). Continue reading

 
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US Battleship Fuel Usage

In this post, I will examine the fuel consumption of the three most modern battleship classes that the US deployed during WW2: South Dakota, North Carolina, and Iowa classes. The data is scraped from the Hyperwar website, which is one of my favorite targets for data extraction. In this case, the Hyperwar page contains a set of tables from the US Navy document FTP 218: War Service Fuel Consumption of US Navy Surface Vessels. Continue reading

 
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50 Destroyer Pre-War Base Deal

This post is going to look at the Destroyers for Bases deal between the US and UK. The bargain was an executive agreement announced on 2-Sep-1940 to trade 50 WW1-era US destroyers to the UK for US basing rights in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Newfoundland. I have seen the destroyers described as obsolete, which seemed odd for ~20-year-old destroyers that nominally have 30 year lifetime (typical for most US Navy ships). Continue reading

 
Posted in Excel, History Through Spreadsheets, Military History, Naval History | 1 Comment

US WW2 Torpedo Production Chart Using Power Query

During my readings on the Pacific War, I often see the chart shown in Figure 1. I decided to do a bit of digging and find the source data for this chart in the hope of making a version of this chart that is a bit clearer and easier to use. Continue reading

 
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US Navy WW2 Aviation Statistics Cleanup Using Power Query

was reading a forum post on fighter kill ratios during WW2 and decide to compute some  Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) vs  US Navy (USN) ratios for myself. I should point out that these ratios are generally viewed as inflated because of the difficulty of confirming downed aircraft. However, the inflated numbers continue to be quoted. The published reports state that the F6F Hellcat had the best kill ratio of the USN/Marine fighter at 19-to-1, followed by the F4U Corsair at 11-to-1, and the F4F Wildcat at 7-to-1. Continue reading

 
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