Monday, August 22, 2011

Lone Star Flight Museum On The Move

The folks at Lone Star Flight Museum and the City of Houston have announced that LSFM is moving. The devastation the museum suffered at the hands of Hurricane Ike convinced the museum's staff and directors that it needed to be moved to a location that was on ground higher than sea level. So, beginning in about 18 months, construction on a new facility at Ellington Field will begin.

The museum is currently located in Galveston, right on the coast. Ellington Field, a former Air Force base, is about 45 miles north on the south side of Houston. The move is estimated to take 3 years.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Neptune's Inferno - Worth A Read

I've just finished "Neptune's Inferno", by James Hornfischer. It is a narrative of the naval battles off Guadalcanal in 1942, during World War II. 7 major battles and almost nightly skirmishes between US and Japanese ships from August through November resulted in thousands of lives and dozens of ships lost on both sides.

US forces lost 2 aircraft carriers, 5 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 9 destroyers sunk during these battles. 2 battleships, 2 carriers, 8 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 9 destroyers were damaged, many of them so badly that they were out of action for repair for over a year.

Japanese losses were 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 3 carriers, and 7 destroyers. 5 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, and 7 destroyers were damaged.

Almost all of the surface combat was at night. It was violent, savage, and it took just minutes for majestic ships to be reduced to burning hulks. The early days of radar, combined with poor intelligence, and in many cases inept leadership caused horrendous losses. US cruisers, in particular, were decimated - beautiful, heavily armed ships like San Francisco, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, Astoria, New Orleans, Pensacola were simply ground up like hamburger by Japanese torpedoes and American stupidity.

The narrative of the afterbattle washdown, where surviving crew members used fire hoses to clean blood and body parts off the decks of their ships is chilling.

Hornfischer (a great name for a naval author!) has written two other great books on WWII naval engagements:

Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors - a narrative of US destroyers during the Battle of Samar in October of 1944. A tale of incredible sacrifice, in what many consider the US Navy's finest hour.

Ship of Ghosts - the story of the USS Houston, a US heavy cruiser fighting in the Far East in the early days of WWII.

If you have an interest in the subject matter, I highly recommend these books. They are very well researched and written.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Hero Passes

Col. Arthur K. Murray passed away July 25th, at the age of 92, in the town of West, Texas.

Col. Murray joined the Army in 1939. He flew P-40s in North Africa, where he was awarded the Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters. Later, he served as a P-47 flight instructor, prior to being trained as a test pilot and transferring to Muroc AAF (to become Edwards AFB).

During his time at Muroc, he flew many aircraft, including the XF-92, XP-59, P-80, P-51, B-43, B-45, B-25, P-82, F-84, X-1A, X-1B, X-4, and the X-5.

"Kit" flew the X-1A, setting an altitude record of 90,000 feet in 1954. He was awarded the Distinguised Flying Cross for saving the aircraft during that same flight when it departed controlled flight. He served as the Air Force's Program Manager for the X-15, before retiring in 1961.

He worked for Boeing and Bell Helicopter before settling in Dallas and working for the city.

Godspeed, Colonel ...