Home Is Where We Park It: Rainbow Plantation, Summerdale Alabama
Date: May 17, 2019
Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile Alabama – USS Alabama, Part One
I wake up every morning and just give thanks to the good Lord for this beautiful weather we are having. Moderate temperatures, a light wind and clear blue skies. It is just great to be alive.
We have another week to go before we leave and we still have a bunch to do. Having two weeks, though, allows us to do it at a relaxed pace. We like it that way. Especially since once we leave here we will be on the move constantly. We’ll spend a week in New Orleans but after that it will be a stop here for a few days, then a stop there and so on and so forth until we get to Ohio and ultimately Pennsylvania. That will be our next extended stop to catch our breath.
Barbara has been looking for a doctor for some time now since she needs her prescriptions refilled. She was also hoping to find someone who would work with her and refill them when needed no matter what part of the country we are in. Good news is we have found one. Provided, she emails him monthly her daily blood pressure and her weight, and that she goes for blood work every three months and has the results sent to him. Sounds like we have a plan.
Today we’re going back to Battleship Memorial Park
and we’re going to tour the USS Alabama.
Let me confess right up front I could never include all the pictures I took in one, or two, or multiple blogs. I also, a first for me, at one point just stopped taking pictures. I would probably still be there if I continued to take a picture of all that was on display. In addition some pictures I can’t post because of their poor quality. Some of the displays are behind what is supposed to be clear Plexiglas but over the years it has become so scratched and yellowed its hard to see through it. That said, put on your walking shoes, limber up your knees and lets go tour what is known as The mighty A or The lucky A – lucky because it is the only WW II ship never damaged by enemy action.
We stopped first st the Visitor Center to get our tickets
and then we went this way
No stairs yet, but the only way to the ship was up, up, up this ramp. Barbara is leading the charge.
Our tour starts here.
Once inside we discovered that there were three self-guided tours. Yellow, main deck and above. Red and Green, down five stories into the heart of the ship. We both made the yellow tour but Barbara was having some issues with her knees and and back so was unable to make the red and green. I’ll say this, it must have taken sailors on this ship a while to learn their way around. Even with the arrows pointing the way I got lost several times.
No time to waste so let’s get going. We discovered at this display that
- the ship was commissioned August 16, 1942
- it is 680 feet in length
- has a beam of 108 feet
- weighed in under battle conditions at 45,000 tons
- draft was 34 feet
- maximum height 194 feet
- 130,000 horsepower
- maximum speed 32 mph
- carried two fixed wing aircraft
- Armament: 9 16″/45 caliber guns; 20 5″/38 caliber guns; 48 40 mm guns; 52 20 mm guns
- had a crew of 127 officers and 2,205 enlisted men
During her wartime service the ship saw action on nine separate occasions at nine different locations (look for the gold stars) and her crew is credited with shooting down 22 enemy aircraft.
Let’s take a closer look at the ship’s armament and we’ll begin with her 16″/45 caliber guns. There are three turrets each with three guns. Each turret had a crew of 3 officers and 177 enlisted men, some on the lowest level others in the turret.
Each turret sits on top of a huge cylinder of steel called a barbette which extends five decks down and sits on the ships keel.
Here are the front two turrets. Until you are standing either in front of or under a turret it is hard to imagine just how enormous they are.
The rear turret.
Let’s go inside the front turret. Warning, its tight getting in and once in it’s not easy to move around. So watch your step and your head! Once inside I just stood there for several minutes and tried my hardest to imagine how tight it must have been with a full crew, not to mention how hot and loud.
In this picture against the far wall is the open door of an elevator used to bring the 90 pound powder bags up from the lower level. To the right and folded up is the ramp that is used to load a shell into one of the guns.
In this picture we see an open gun waiting for powder bags and a shell.
Let’s leave the inside of the turret turret and take a look at how the turrets are mounted and protected. This is the steel cylinder or barbette that the turret is mounted on (take a look again at the earlier picture -6 up – to get a better idea of how it all goes together).
Inside this cylinder at its lowest level all the projectiles or shells and the powder bags are stored, each in its own compartment. The gun crew fed each up to the turret by elevator or conveyor.
90 Pound powder bags. The guns on the Alabama are called powder bag guns. To propel a shell its maximum range of 21 miles required six 90 pound bags.
In this picture, bottom left are the elevators that would lift the powder bags to the turret.
These are the shells that the ship carried. Each shell weighted 2,700 pounds. Armour piercing shells were painted black and were used against enemy ships and hardened shore targets such as bunkers. High capacity shells were painted green and were used against exposed enemy targets. They were equipped with fuses that would detonate the shell while in the air resulting in shrapnel being sprayed over a wide area. Each gun could fire a shell every 2 minutes.
The Alabama also carried twenty 5’/38 caliber guns, 5 twin mounts per side. This is a model of the ship that shows their placement on the starboard side of the ship.
The real thing. These guns were used against air or surface targets.
This is the radar that controlled the fire of the guns. Each director could control one or all of the guns.
This is the lower handling room for the guns. Within this compartment all shells and cartridges of powder were securely fastened to the floor, kept dry and ready for action. When needed they were lifted to the guns above.
The ship also had forty-eight 40 mm guns. They were most effective against low flying aircraft. They could fire at the rate of 320 rounds per minute for the four guns.
Finally, the ship carried fifty-two 20 mm guns. They were only effective at close range, yet on many occasions their trail of tracers scared away an attacking plane.
Barbara is gunning for the enemy!
The Alabama also had two fixed wing aircraft carried on her stern. They were used for surveillance, gun fire spotting, and rescue missions. This model shows that they were carried on a catapult from which they were launched. They were retrieved by the hoist in the middle.
A picture of a Kingfisher being launched.
I believe we’ll call it for now. We’ll continue our tour again tomorrow. I’m still limited to hunt and peck typing because of my broken finger so each blog takes a good three times longer, if not more to do a blog.
We’re enjoying our time here on The Road of Retirement. We’ve been able to get Barbara to the doctors, catch up with our mail, restock the larder and so much more. Next week we hope to get back to the Naval Air Museum and a few other places that are right around here. So stay tuned we’re always up to something.
These are the voyages of Graybeard and it’s occupants, four paws and two humans. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before
See you on down the road