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Aerial Views

Catalogue number 100120

View from a kite observation basket

One of the first attempts to get higher up and improve observation from a warship was made by the French Army officer Captain Saconney. He used a string of box kites to lift an observer off the battleship Saint Louis in 1905 and reached a height of 150 meters. Captain Saconney collaborated extensively with the French Navy and this photograph must be from trials with another warship, probably the Edgar Quinet.

Verso: Franked with a Frankfurt-Karlsruhe-Basel railway post office stamp on 30th December 1907 and sent to an address in France. Text written in Esperanto.

8.8cm x 13.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 118100

Observation from an airship

The airship was another early solution and had the advantage of being mobile....and the disadvantage of being filled with hydrogen. Airships could survey a large surface of the ocean whilst remaining on patrol for long periods of time and also could remain stationary over a target. In this photograph of the suspended cabin we can see the altimeter, chronometer and wheel, as well as other controls for gas pressure etc. Right forward is a sailor without a cap manning a machine gun.

17.6cm x 12.7cm Gelatin silver print

Credit: E.C.P.Armees


Catalogue number 100042

Bapaume, launching aircraft from a ship

The French ship Baupaume took part in early trials to launch aircraft from a sloping ramp over the forecastle. A biplane is on the flying off ramp. From the direction of the smoke from the funnel, we can see the ship is turing to port, aft two ship's boats are swung out on the davits, ready to be launched should something go wrong with the flying off.

7.9cm x 13.1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 119089

German pre-dreadnought Schlesien

Schlesien was already out of date when she joined the battlefleet in 1908 and spent most of her time as a training ship. There is a large motor barge on the stern as well as a second barge on craddles starboard of the funnels. Another pinnace is alongside to starboard. The range finder hoods can be clearly seen on the 28 cm/11 inch gun turrets fore and aft.

15.4cm x 9.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 23032

Battleship Bretagne, 1927

A hot day off the port of Rabat in 1927, the shrouds are out and the battleship Bretagne is dressed overall.Just behind B turrent is the triple range finder, the original pole mast has been replaced by a tripod mast and the main mast has been cut down to enable a balloon to be deployed.

14cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print

Recto: "11 June 1927. "The Bretagne" in the anchorage at Rabat" in French


Catalogue number 47056

French battleship Provence full ahead

The same class as Bretagne, the French battleship Provence is shown here at speed. None of the ship's boats are on board, the cradles before the main mast are empty. Note the prominent anti-aircraft guns in single turrets, four each side. The rectangular shapes may be due to a new linoleum-like material that covered the deck. Provence has a tripod mast so this photograph was taken after the pole mast was removed during the 1922-1923 refit. Note the reserve gunnery director position fitted to B turret.

13.3cm x 8.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 102054

Coaling the battleship Jean Bart

Intense activity forward as the crew coal ship, note the two coal barges and is the canvas spread out at the level of the gangway a screen to keep coal dust off the deck aft? Ship's boats are around the ship - steam launches and a big cutter.

13.6cm x 8.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 71041

U.S.S. Pennsylvania

U.S.S. Pennsylvania was a super-dreadnought laid down in 1913 and carried twelve 14-inch guns in four triple turrets. The broad flair of the foredeck to the bow shows up clearly. Note the large director towers on the fore and main tripod masts that replaced the original lattice masts in the 1929 major refit as well as two catapults, seen here with three floatplanes.

12.9cm x 8.1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 135084

U.S.S. Arkansas, post-1925 refit

Of note here are the floatplanes (Vought O3U Corsairs) mounted on the catapult of midship turrent (note whaler on turret top). Paravanes can be seen on the port side of A and B turrents, just aft of B turrent at the level of the conning tower is the prominent barrel of a 5-inch gun. There is a Vickers pompom gun on deck just forward of the crane. Turrets B, X and Y have big range finders on the turret tops.

16.3cm x 11cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 104006

U.S.S. West Virginia, stern view

An impressive view of the quarter deck of U.S.S. West Virginia with two tugs alongside. Two Curtiss SOC Seagull floatplanes are visible, with one on the catapult, and a third on the turret-top catapult of X turret. Between the masts, port and starboard are a whole host of types of ship's boats some stacked one on another.

13.7cm x 26.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 98094

U.S.S. battleships in line ahead

This photograph give a good impression of the broad beam on the three U.S. Navy New Mexico class battleships Idaho, Mississippi and New Mexico, 190.19m overall length for a beam of 32.38m making a good, stable gun platform.

14.7cm x 22.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 26028

Navy Yard, Bremerton, pre-1955

Four battleships and a large cruiser are in the dockyard. Interestingly, the old battleship U.S.S. Kearsarge (commissioned 1900) is shown far left after its conversion to a crane ship/heavy lift ship in 1922. U.S.S. Lexington is in drydock.

12.9cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 98058

Naval Yard, Bremerton, post-1938 and pre-1947

A busy time in the dockyard with three escort carriers (including U.S.S. Steamer Bay CVE-87 and U.S.S. Kitkun Bay CVE-71) and a battleship with triple-gun turrets being manoeuvred by tugs. The Essex class carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga CV-14 is in drydock far left. There is also a heavy cruiser and numerous destroyers at the quayside.

Verso: Unfranked 2 cents stamp first issued in 1938

12.9cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print

To be continued