Sunday, November 10, 2013
The Next Level by Ranger Elite
Weapons Development in WWIII 1946
Drydock Slips 43 & 44
Newport News Naval Shipyard
Newport News, Virginia
The three experienced men stood amid the loud din of ship construction, and marveled at the two hulking hulls being refitted, at break-neck speed, from their original purpose: Iowa-class battleships. They looked in wondrous awe at the transformation as both ships had been razed to the deck-line, the former BB-65 Illinois and former BB-66 Kentucky were being converted into something resembling aircraft carriers, but different.
There was a test flight of the Army's new helicopters, H-19 and H-25, borrowed by the Navy, on behalf of the Marine Corps. The results were phenomenal. The most amazing part was that the tests were conducted off of three Essex-class aircraft carriers, off the coast of Newport News, Virginia. The irony could not have been lost on the Powers That Be. Three squadrons of 15 helicopters (10 H-19's and 5 H-25's) each were flown from ship to ship, then from ship to shore, in a coordinated operation. All of the helicopters were piloted by freshly-trained Naval Aviators, who passed the Army's rotary-wing training program at Camp Rucker, Alabama, and in the last exercise, carried full complements of Marines with full combat loads, to disgorge them onto a target zone. To the admirals and Marine generals in attendance, this test was a resoundingly amazing success.
As a result, the two hulls that were destined to be built as modern floating long-range artillery batteries, were now slated to be built as combat assault ships. In other words, these ships were to be helicopter-carrying super-troopships, purpose-built to take the U.S. Marines' fight directly to the heart of the enemy. They would be known as the Peleliu-class Combat Landing Ship (Helicopter). The first two ships of this class would be LPD-1 Peleliu and LPD-2 Iwo Jima. All the while, their crews will be training aboard the three original aircraft carriers the tests were conducted on: CV-13 Franklin, CV-17 Bunker Hill and CV-20 Bennington. In the next stage of the experiment, a couple squadrons of Marine attack aircraft, the new BT2D Skyraiders, are going to be tested aboard each aircraft carrier. It is hoped that the new helicopter carriers would be able carry and coordinate their own close air support.
In the much quieter confines of the shipyard superintendent's office, the three men spoke “We need to train as many Marines as possible, both riflemen and aircrew, to fight from these ships as effectively as we hope they can. They are an integral part of the new war plan.” said the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz. Immediately, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Alexander Archer Vandergrift, added “I concur, sir. With the new equipment, most especially the helicopters and attack aircraft, we should have an inestimable edge against our technologically-inferior enemy.” This drew questioning looks from Admiral Nimitz and the newly-promoted division commander of the 1st Marine Division, Lieutenant-General Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller. “Sirs, I would like to volunteer the 1st Marine Division, less the 4th Marine Regiment, to train aboard these ships. There will need to be a trained cadre before we can deploy these ships. We have had these plans since before the end of the last war, but these helicopters are a useful new tool. To pass up on using them would be worse than negligent: it would be downright criminal” said General Puller. The CNO and the Commandant of the Corps both nodded their agreement. “I'll have my office cut your division new orders toot suite, Chesty, but all the movements have to kept hush-hush, among us only; no aides or assistants. So that means that the division can only be moved a little at a time, while elements from 5th Marine Division take their place at Camp Lejeune.
You'll also be training in conjunction with the Army's XIII Amphibious Corps” said General Vandergrift. General Puller nodded “Those doggies weren't so bad. They tend to know their stuff when it comes to landing on the beach” “Well, Chesty, if you like that, you're going to love this. The Army, in their infinite wisdom, decided to throw in that outfit that liberated that POW camp in the PI last year, the 6th Ranger Battalion, into XIII Amphib Corps' chain of command. So I'd advise you to keep your eye out for Colonel Mucci and his antics” General Vandergrift chuckled. General Puller did not like the sound of the Commandant's chuckle, but as any good Marine would, he kept that to himself.
As the meeting broke up, General Puller noticed that the fandecks of the converted battlewagons were cropped, and what looked like a loading well or bay, for embarking troops and equipment, was being built into the ships. Having noticed it, he made mention of it to Admiral Nimitz, who said “Son, this is the future of amphibious combat. These will be the flagships of a capital-sized class of first-strike ships. These were being planned during the last war, and now these plans will finally bear deadly fruit.” Generals Vandergrift and Puller nodded their agreement and all three headed back to the Pentagon.