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Spring 1990 Naval History Magazine

Spring 1990 Naval History Magazine

Historians and the War of 1812; Return of the Cabot; Zeppelin Hunters; Remember the Maine; LST - Large, Slow Target


YU.S. Naval Institute Spring 1990 Vol. 4, No. 2


14 On the Back of the Fleet

By Commander Brent L. Gravatt, U.S. Navy

The evolution of ship-based aircraft during the interwar years (1919-41) as a supplement to, and supplanter of, ships' big guns.

19 LST—Large, Slow Target By Allen Pace and Marx Leva

The versatile LST-386 served in the European theater of World War II as a gunfire spotter, reconnaissance vessel, aircraft carrier, and horse stable.

29 The Fifth Armed Force By Robert Erwin Johnson

Tracing the history of the Coast Guard as "a part of the military forces of the United States" in World War I and beyond.

37 Zeppelin Hunters By Frank A. Contey

British Sopwith Camels achieved air superiority above the North Sea in the face of German peril in 1918.

42 Politics, Politics By Paul H. Nitze

A Secretary of the Navy needs to balance the requirements of strategy and tactics against available resources. He doesn't need politicians kibitzing his every move.

52 Naval Historians and the War of 1812 By William S. Dudley

A contemporary historian critiques the accounts of naval aspects of this war by prominent authors James Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt, and Alfred Thayer Mahan.

58 Remember the Maine, One More Time By John E. Duncan

This "longest ship in the Navy" was, surprisingly enough, sunk not once but twice.


In Contact 2

Special 24

Men of the Cabot


The Cabot Comes Home .... 26

From Langley to Lincoln . . . 46

Technical Report 63

The Alligator by Roebling

Museum Report 69
Museum of the Pacific War

The Old Navy 72
When ASW Was Young

Book Reviews 75

Bibliographic Review 80

1989 Index 82

In Progress 87

Oral History

Submariner in a Carrier

Notebook 95

Cover: During his long involvement with naval aviation, R.G. Smith has painted many of the Navy's aircraft carriers and aircraft. Here he depicts, in a pencil sketch, the converted collier that became the first U.S. aircraft carrier, namely, the Langley (CV-1). Inside the issue, beginning on page 46, we feature a portfolio of his paintings on the development of carriers through the years.


The U. S. Naval Institute is a private, self-supporting, nonprofit professional society, which publishes Proceedings magazine as a forum for the sea services, and professional books. The Institute is not part of the U. S. Government. Naval History is published quarterly by the U. S. Naval Institute, 2062 Generals Highway, Annapolis, MD 21401. The opinions and assertions herein are the personal ones of the authors. Second class postage paid at Annapolis, MD, and at additional mailing offices. Annual subscription rates: USNI member, $12.00; USNI non-member, $24.00. International subscribers add $4.00. Copyright (C) 1990 U. S. Naval Institute. Copyright is not claimed for editorial material in the public domain. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Naval History, USNI, Circulation Department, 2062 Generals Highway, Annapolis, MD 21401. (ISSN 1042-1920)
Spring 1990
U.S. Naval Institute Vol. 4, No. 2
Historians and the War of 1812
Return of the Cabot
Roebling's Alligator
When ASW Was Young
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in the winter issue, we published a letter from a professional historian who advocated that Naval History become a scholarly journal, moving away from reminiscences and antiquarianism. His viewpoint was proba-
bly the most strongly stated version of one expressed by a number of the scholars at last fall's Naval Academy history symposium—that the magazine is short on intellectual muscle. The letter has provoked a storm of response, nearly all of it disagreeing with the proposal for a substantial change in the character of the magazine. The letters in this issue's In Contact section include a sampling of the replies. The consensus of those moved to write seems to be that you, the readers, have been happy with the magazine and want it to continue to provide essentially the same mix of material that it has been.
We think it is possible for both camps to coexist. To accommodate the concerns of those who would like more rigor, we will begin publishing at least one scholarly article per issue, including numerous footnotes. In this issue we have Dr. William Dudley's article about the historians who wrote on the naval aspects of the War of 1812. As Dr. Dudley's article demonstrates, scholarly and interesting need not be mutually exclusive. We want to continue to make the magazine interesting, because that quality apparently was the basis for the strong support expressed in your letters.
Elsewhere in the issue we report on the death of one of our oral history interviewees. Vice Admiral John McCrea died shortly before the release of his transcript. In some part, McCrea can be considered a model for the character of Pug Henry in Herman Wouk's epic tale War and Remembrance. In that story, Captain Henry was naval aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later the first commanding officer of the battleship Iowa (BB-61). Captain McCrea held the same two billets in the same sequence. In fact, his recollections of FDR go back to 1913, when McCrea was a midshipman at the Naval Academy and the future President was a young Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
A major theme of this issue is that of development of aviation at sea, including a discussion of cruiser-launched aircraft in World War I, the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier Langley (CV-1) on the cover, a tracing of the evolution of carrier-based planes and missions, a pictorial by noted artist R. G. Smith, and a mini-pictorial on the return to the United States of the ex-USS Cabot (CVL-28) to serve as a memorial. All tie in with this month's seminar on the topic at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
As usual, this particular issue contains material on a wide variety of topics, tied together by the common theme of naval history. Your letters remind us that while history is indeed the province of historians, many others enjoy that province as well.
Jim Barber

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