USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park

The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, AL displays an interesting collection of WW2 ships and aircraft not normally seen. The collection includes several rare museum items. The park is well worth the visit. https://www.ussalabama.com/

The Battleship Memorial Park visit is contained in 3 parts:

USS Alabama (BB-60)

My visit operated under a slightly modified charter, as it was a sponsored program by the BSA and included an overnight “opportunity”. The ship is designed around three 16 inch gun turrets.

This museum is special in that the normally inaccessible #2 barbett (“turret”) has been cut open to allow public access. Normal access during wartime service was physically restricted to a lower deck porthole to ensure armor integrity. From this area, the projectile, and powder charges were moved up to the gun’s breech.

The 16 inch guns are designed to fire up to 2700 lb projectiles up to 20+ miles.

The ballistics necessary to place a projectile on a target 20 miles away required substantial technology -especially for 1942. Mechanical gyroscopes and analog computer equipment is located near the turrets. All of this -in 2019- is available on a chip or sensor package that can fit in your hand. One of the surprises that I realized was the incredible capability for the WW2 era engineers and scientists to quickly create effective systems. This fire control system was really impressive.

The ship also has scores of 5″, 40mm, and smaller turrets and gun mounts.

The museum has designed a set of tour routes to see and understand the functions and operating areas of the ship. I strongly recommend these. These functions range from the primary guns, to the navigation and operations areas, to engineering and medical areas, to the mundane -but necessary- degaussing room.

The communications areas was interesting but did contain one piece of not-quite-true information. For the sad tale of Mrs. D’Aquino, you will need to go elsewhere (e.g. http://military.wikia.com/). The museum’s poster does not mention that key government witnesses lied during her treason trial. This prompted President Ford to pardon her in 1974. She did however smuggle food to Allied prisoners of war (POW). She and her husband, both Catholic, were forced to remain apart for almost 40 years. She suffered enough; to perpetuate this myth just seems in poor taste.

The museum also included several systems that I had never seen before. One of which is the paravane, an anti-mine protection system coupling consisting of a towed horizontal glider connected via cable to the battleship.

The USS Alabama also had a spotter aircraft and launch system onboard in the stern area. The OS2U-3 “Kingfisher” aircraft is displayed in the aviation hanger.

The ship was also designed for damage “casualty” robustness. The turrets were armored. Electrical terminals were provided for through bulkhead connections

A separate system of interest to engineers is the power and propulsion system. The battleship operates on a boiler and turbine system with low and high pressure water vapor power systems.

The overnight stay allowed for some beautiful imagery.

Postscript

We drove through a really nasty weather system on the way home, dodging two tornado warnings and the strongest wind-blown rain that I’ve ever seen. We sheltered at St. Jude Catholic Church in Montgomery, AL until the weather cleared. This storm system spawned several tornadoes, including one that unfortunately killed 20+ people just East of us.

Deo gratias.

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