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Author Topic: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US  (Read 7534 times)

Rob Wood

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LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« on: March 17, 2013, 09:50:07 AM »

I visited LST 325 when it was undergoing restoration. I took photos of just about every part of the ship for documentation for my RC LST build. I would be happy to post photos on request.

Rob

Here's a sampling:









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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 10:05:42 AM »

Please post more pics :-))
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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 05:45:23 PM »

OK, I suppose I can pick a particular subject, but it would be better if one of you would specify what you're interested in looking at. In this case, I've picked the bridge and wheelhouse.

By the way, would anyone be interested in seeing a study in exactly how the LST clam shell doors and ramp operated? I wanted to make mine operational, but couldn't figure it out with the normal documentation I could find on the web. For example: How do the clam shell doors seal tight enough to keep the ocean out? How do they open and close? How does the ramp work? Etc.

A Few Select Photos of the Bridge and Wheelhouse of LST 325









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“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re
behind us… they can’t get away this time” — Lieutenant General Lewis B.”Chesty” Puller
(when surrounded by 8 enemy divisions)

PW569

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 06:18:05 PM »

Did the LST serve in the Greek Navy?

If, yes, what is the story, how ended it up back home?

Unaltered? I take it that the "modern" bridge on top was a Greek mod, right?

Cheers!
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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 09:50:41 PM »

Here's the story...

From Wikipedia: LST-325 was launched on 27 October 1942, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ship operated in the North Africa area and participated in the invasions at Gela, Sicily and Salerno, Italy. On 6 June 1944, LST-325 was part of the largest armada in history by participating in the Normandy Landings at Omaha Beach. She carried 59 vehicles, 31 officers and a total of 408 enlisted men on that first trip. On her first trip back to England from France, LST-325 hauled 38 casualties back to a friendly port. Over the next nine months, Navy records show LST-325 made more than 40 trips back and forth across the English Channel, carrying thousands of men and pieces of equipment needed by troops to successfully complete the liberation of Europe. The ship continued to run supply trips between England and France before returning to the United States in March 1945. LST-325 was decommissioned on 2 July 1946, at Green Cove Springs, Florida, and laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

The ship was placed in service with the Military Sea Transportation Service in 1951 as USNS T-LST-325, and took part in "Operation SUNAC" (Support of North Atlantic Construction), venturing into the Labrador Sea, Davis Strait, and Baffin Bay to assist in the building of radar outposts along the eastern shore of Canada and western Greenland. Struck from the Naval Vessel Register, on 1 September 1961, T-LST-325 was transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.

Finally, LST-325 was sent to Greece on 1 September 1964, as part of the grant-in-aid program. She served in the Hellenic Navy as RHS Syros (L-144) from 1964 to 1999.

My acquaintance with this ship began in 2,000, when I read that a group of retired USN and US Coast Guard former LST sailors - average age 70! - found the ship rusting away in a Greek reserve fleet, and managed to buy it from the Greek government. They paid their own way to Greece, and then somehow - mostly by sheer determination and hard-headed idealism - got the engines running, and sailed it to the US East coast. I was told by a crew member that the ship was never altered once in Greek hands, so if the bridge was altered, it was done either during WWII, or during its stint with the Military Sea Transportation Service between 1951 and 1961. Everything else, according to the crew, was original, WWII issue, including its armament.

The voyage these old sailors took with this old ship, from Greece to the US, was epic. When they boarded the ship, they were not certain at all that the ship would survive the journey, but they were willing to take their chances. One humorous incident that occurred was that when they entered US territorial waters, the US government refused to allow the ship to come any closer, since it was still fully armed, yet flew no nation's flag. Not yet a museum ship, and no longer a commissioned ship in either the Greek or US navies, yet fully armed, it was classified as a pirate ship by the American government.

Today, the ship is one of the very few operational WWII museum ships in the world, and offers cruises several times a year. You can read the rest of the story on the USS LST Memorial, Inc. website, at www.lstmemorial.org

In 2003, I set out to build a working 1:144 RC model of an LST. Some of my fellow RC warship combat friends challenged me to build the model, equip it with working bow doors and ramp, sail it under fire to the Axis port in one of our campaign games, open the doors, lower the ramp, and drive an RC tank down the ramp, up the beach, and touch a flag in the heart of the enemy port. If I could do this, the Allies would win the game; if I failed, the Axis would be the victors.

My problem was that I could not tell from over a thousand LST photos I found on the web, nor from the only reference books I could find on the subject, how the bow doors actually worked, or how the ship could keep from flooding. They just don't show those details. I contacted the excellent crew of the LST 325, who agreed to crawl around in the bow, taking photos for me. I finally got everything I needed, and then only had to figure out how to make all of this work in 1:144 scale, while being shot at by CO2-powered guns. As it turned out, I had to fabricate scale rack-and-pinion gears to operate the doors, and a scale, chain-operated ramp to maintain watertight integrity.

Some additional challenges: building it to run aground high enough on the beach to unload the tank, without the tank falling into the pond; engineer the twin props and rudders so the bottom of the props and rudders would not drag on the sand; find an RC tank small enough to roll through the doors and down the ramp, and reliable enough to do this on demand, then roll across uneven sand and climb a hill to the flag; prevent the ship from sinking due to gun fire prior to landing on the beach (automatic bilge pump).

Long story made not so long, I successfully met the challenge, and the Allies won the war:





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“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re
behind us… they can’t get away this time” — Lieutenant General Lewis B.”Chesty” Puller
(when surrounded by 8 enemy divisions)

PW569

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 10:10:43 PM »

Rob!

COOL!

The 325 is a Veteran of the Normandy landings, delivering troops to France June 12th!

I do think though that although in very original condition, many alterations did take place since then...
Just be careful what you are building!

The guys who took her home are to be commended!

Cheers!
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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2013, 02:31:27 AM »

Let me explain what I think the crewman meant by "original."

After WWII, somewhere around 1,000 LSTs, in a wide range of configurations, were either laid up in reserve fleets, or disposed of. Many were eventually sold to private companies for conversion to commercial uses. At least one was converted to a ferry, while many others were converted to coastal or inland waterway uses, wherever versatile, shallow-draft vessels were needed. After the Korean war, some were loaned or sold to other countries, Greece in particular, in whatever configuration they happened to have. Whether Greece modified the bridge of LST 325, I have no knowledge, but there's a larger subject concerning scale modeling that is suggested in your post, and that is: Exactly what is the definition of a scale model ship?

In the case of LSTs, it's particularly difficult to pin down exactly what a specific ship looked like, from stem to stern. One of the major reasons for this is that LSTs were built in a wide range of configurations, then modified "in the field" by local bases and crews. LSTs, like American PT boats, were modified in this manner to increase their AA firepower in the Pacific theater, due to the implementation of Kamikaze attacks by the Japanese, to name one example. Living, breathing utility transport ships like these were extremely flexible, which is why they were so successful. During the war, the LST(2) class was modified by the addition of a higher bridge structure. I can imagine the LST 325 undergoing this sort of retrofitting by an innovative crew of shipfitters if the opportunity arose. An example of this "impromptu" sort of work would be the event of 11 May 1945:

(From the LST Memorial 325 site)

On 11 May 1945 LST-325 sailed with a convoy from Belfast, Ireland to return to the United States. One day out from Belfast the convoy was hit by a terrific storm and scattered. LST-325 slammed bow first into a monstrous wave and a crack developed across the main deck. Ship fitters were able to save the ship by welding steel plates across the damaged hull. Blessed by fair weather the rest of the way LST-325 sailed into Norfolk, Virginia on 31 May 1945.

So, what is a model builder to do? How can he be 100% certain of exactly how a given vessel looked on any particular day in its life? Answer: Only by going there and photographing it on that day. I have enough photos of LST 325 to build an accurate scale model of the ship as it existed on October 28th, 2008. Another model builder could go to Evansville, Indiana U.S.A. tomorrow, and record how the ship looks tomorrow. But what about documentation of how the ship looked on, say, June 7th, 1944? Well...

Here's one of the few, fairly clear photos taken that day:



And here's the other: Pretty good for building the stern. This is what I used to model mine:



But there are virtually no photos of the bridge, such as those that I posted. After all, shots of the cargo on deck, or vehicles or troops disembarking, are what are of the most interest, so what can a scale modeler do to know that he's building an accurate scale model of the LST 325 on a given day in WWII? Nothing. He can research all he wants, but in the end, he must fill in with educated guesswork.

Rob
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behind us… they can’t get away this time” — Lieutenant General Lewis B.”Chesty” Puller
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PW569

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2013, 11:43:12 AM »

Dear Rob,

very interesting! It is great that such a ship is preserved. And yes, ships back than as now are constantly worked on, changed, converted. This is especially true for war ships and a standard type such as the LSTs, with many being converted for specialist roles. For sure the Pacific Theatre of Operations had different requirements than the European Theatre.

Well, the starting point would be the plans available, possibly showing the standard type. Do you know the Taubman Plan?

http://www.taubmansonline.com/RCLST.htm

Also, there were Kits by Lindberg:

http://www.epmodels.co.uk/shipkits/reviews/lindberg_lst.html


I visit Normandy on a regular basis for the D-Day remembrance. I think in 2004 I was at Omaha beach and there was an exhibition of a French ship modellers association who had built EACH AND EVERY Landing Ship or Craft which participated!
Most of them in 72nd or 35th scale to match vehicles. It was quite a sight! They did have plans also.

You find a picture of a model in 35th scale here, and I believe it shows the WWII configuration of the bridge, i.e. an open bridge;

http://miliblog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/lst-3.jpg

Did you know that LST 393 also survived and is on show in the US? However, also a little modified...

http://www.lst393.org/

Cheers!


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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 09:31:36 PM »

Dear Rob,

very interesting! It is great that such a ship is preserved. And yes, ships back than as now are constantly worked on, changed, converted. This is especially true for war ships and a standard type such as the LSTs, with many being converted for specialist roles. For sure the Pacific Theatre of Operations had different requirements than the European Theatre.

I've done some more research on the conning tower modifications. Whether or not you see one with an enclosed conning tower depends on which ship you're looking at, and the date the photo was taken. In WWII, the LSTs were commissioned with open conning towers, but equipped with a frame that could accommodate canvas tops. If the ship was taken out of ready reserve and activated for Korean War service (as was LST 325), the conning tower was enclosed - presumably because of the severe cold weather expected. So far, I've found two styles: the LST 325, and this one:





Quote
Well, the starting point would be the plans available, possibly showing the standard type. Do you know the Taubman Plan?

http://www.taubmansonline.com/RCLST.htm

Yes, I'm familiar with Taubman's 1:144 plan sets, but these are designed for 1:144 RC warship combat, and are very generic, since details tend to be shot off of these models. That's why my LST seems so bare.

Quote
Also, there were Kits by Lindberg:

http://www.epmodels.co.uk/shipkits/reviews/lindberg_lst.html

How can I put this: Let's just say that's out-of-scale.


Quote
I visit Normandy on a regular basis for the D-Day remembrance. I think in 2004 I was at Omaha beach and there was an exhibition of a French ship modellers association who had built EACH AND EVERY Landing Ship or Craft which participated!
Most of them in 72nd or 35th scale to match vehicles. It was quite a sight! They did have plans also.

You find a picture of a model in 35th scale here, and I believe it shows the WWII configuration of the bridge, i.e. an open bridge;

http://miliblog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/lst-3.jpg

That's one of the LSTs you saw at the Omaha Beach exhibition? That's fantastic! I'd love to see a display like that. I did determine that that's a model of the HM LST-80 - one of the British LSTs:



Quote
Did you know that LST 393 also survived and is on show in the US? However, also a little modified...

http://www.lst393.org/

Cheers!

I missed that one, for some reason. Thanks for that link!

Rob
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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 09:54:31 PM »

Wheelhouse:


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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2013, 09:57:44 PM »

?
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PW569

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2013, 10:10:06 PM »

Well, Rob, I thought this discussion was primarily about the conning tower, hence the picture!

And no, I did not take the picture in Normandy and although the text of the displayed model is in French, I could not say if I saw the same model in 2004 at Omaha!

BTW, did you know that the German post war Navy bought 8 of these and converted them to the BOTTROP class Mine Layers?!





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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2013, 12:25:05 AM »

Ahh..You confused me (incredibly easy to do at this stage in my life!). You re-posted the photo of the aft half of the 1:35 HM LST-80, with the single word "wheelhouse" to identify it.

I had no idea LSTs ended up in West Germany, but I'm not surprised, since there were so many of them made.

Well, at any rate, it looks like we solved the mystery of the LST 325 conning tower: a retrofit enclosure style for some, but not all, LST's that were put back into service for Korea. What a truly enjoyable and rewarding discussion this has been! What shall we solve next?



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“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re
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(when surrounded by 8 enemy divisions)

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2013, 10:33:39 PM »

  The badge is interesting. The name reads as SUROS rather than SYROS, Y being an uppercase upsilon or u. Just to confuse an ink-stained schoolboy, the lowercase y is actually gamma or g. Like all the class Syros was named after a Greek island, the spelling of which varies.

  I thought at first that the symbol in the lower part of the shield denoted a medical or hospital function, apparently a popular misconception. The symbol, having two snakes rather than one, is a caduceus, indicative of a messenger or of commerce.

  And to think I once accused Colin, albeit jocularly, of nitpicking!
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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2013, 10:59:00 PM »

The "commerce" of Hermes, delivering, sending a message...delivering Infantry and Tanks to a hostile shore? His symbols also include the tortoise...kind of describing an LST!

COOL! :-))

BTW, caduceus is Latin, should it not be karykeion in Greek?
 
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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2013, 12:14:35 AM »

  What's the Greek for touché? Well, they did say LST stood for Large Slow Target.
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I eat my peas with honey,
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It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps 'em on the knife.

PW569

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2013, 10:08:00 AM »

"me epkiases!"

...so I am told! ok2
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Jonty

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2013, 11:41:36 AM »

  Ah, but is that 'proper' (ancient) Greek or what Taki rudely calls neo-Hellenic?
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I eat my peas with honey,
I've done it all my life;
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps 'em on the knife.

PW569

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2013, 11:50:43 AM »

It is Cypriot and I got the hint today, "The Day After"...!, from an ex Argentine Navy Officer who lives there!

So, it is probably completely inappropriate and wrong, if not rude also!

...go, figure! <*<
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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2013, 02:39:44 AM »

Are there any more photos of that 1/35 LST? What a model! It's fun looking around the model and seeing the little vignettes of shipboard life..
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Rob Wood

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2013, 03:04:13 AM »

Are there any more photos of that 1/35 LST? What a model! It's fun looking around the model and seeing the little vignettes of shipboard life..

I found a few more here: http://miliblog.co.uk/?cat=146&paged=8


Rob

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Re: LST 325 - Last Unmodified WWII LST in the US
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2013, 05:39:37 PM »

Thanks!- That model is something else altogether.. has me debating if I want to deal with a project that big, but it would be impressive as heck on the boating pond.. maybe if I built it as two sections....
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