The Armed Forces History Museum has dedicated a World War II display to the US Navy branch of our armed forces. The gallery houses several pieces of equipment and has many unique displays. Ample time should be allowed to fully encompass all that is housed in this one area of the museum. A sneak peek into this gallery unveils a fully operational, fully equipped WWII DUKW. This amphibious vehicle is located alongside a replica of a LST with cargo net and men disembarking on the net.
In addition, there are two full-size Mark 14 torpedoes. One of the torpedoes has had a section opened to display the full propulsion mechanism and fuel component of the torpedo. These torpedoes were the most widely used torpedo during WWII and the most unsuccessful. Another one-of-a-kind item on display in the US Navy gallery is a 42 foot periscope secured from the US Navy used on a ballistic missile submarine. This is one of the many interactive displays throughout the museum. The periscope has been set up so visitors can look through and see the surrounding area outside the museum. Most are surprised at just how far into the distance they can see.
A Brief Look at the US Navy and their WWII Role
The US Navy experienced impressive growth in both power and strength during the years preceding the onset of World War II. In 1937, battleship production was resumed with the USS North Carolina being the first to come off the production line. This newly-constructed U.S. battleship would also be the first to enter into service during World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor acted as a catalyst for further growth for this branch of armed forces.
The US Navy was well-known for their active role in the Pacific Theater. Here, they participated in a number of significant battles, gaining continued momentum as a result of each. By 1943, the fleet of the United States Navy outnumbered the total of all other combatant nations of WWII. By August 1945, the US Navy had 6,768 ships in operation.
The US Navy submarines also played a vital role in WWII. Though often overlooked, the heroic efforts of these brave men participating in the Pacific theater resulted in a number of positive actions disproportionate given their size and number. Periscopes were a vital piece of equipment allowing a submarine to visually search the surface for nearby targets. Discretion had to always be exercised when using the periscope as it could be visibly detected. The raised periscope also increased the risk of being detected by radar, thus marking its location.
No doubt, the strength, integrity and action of the US Navy played a vital role in transforming the history of World War II.