BB-39 USS ARIZONA – Part 3

1932 – Pre-Pearl Harbor Attack

ARIZONA continued to operate with the Battle Fleet, and took part in the succession of Fleet problems that took the Fleet from the waters of the northern Pacific and Alaska to those surrounding the West Indies, and into the waters east of the lesser Antilles.

BB-39 USS ARIZONA – Part 1

BB-39 USS ARIZONA – Part 2


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1932 aerial photo of the Arizona (BB-39) in Dry Dock No. 1 at Pearl Harbor Navy Base.

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The destroyer Perry (DD-340) takes fuel from Arizona (BB-39) while participating in the fleet exercises of 1932.

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Underway, view from port side, 1932. Pitching in heavy seas.

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Leading Nevada (BB-36), Arizona (BB-39) heads into a sea in May 1932. Note the concentration dial above the rangefinder.

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Steaming at sea during the 1930s, with her main battery 14″/45 guns trained to port.

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Arizona (BB-39) in 1930’s, maneuvering at sea astern of Tennessee (BB-43) and Texas (BB-35) (in lead).

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1934 photo of Arizona (BB-39) crew mustered at quarters for the ceremony at which Chesty (James Cagney) is presented the Navy Cross in the movie Here Comes the Navy

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Arizona (BB-39) in drydock.

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1935, Long Beach California.

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Steaming away from the photographer, the Arizona (BB-39) and other ships of the Battle Force, the primary US embodiment of sea power in the mid 1930’s.




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Arizona (BB-39) inboard & Maryland (BB-46) at Puget Sound sometime circa late 1935, early 1936. The Arizona still has the searchlights on the funnel and the funnel is short. It was extended vertically in early 1936.

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Arizona (BB-39) moored in front of either New York (BB-34) or Texas (BB-35) with the aircraft carriers Lexington (CV-2) & Saratoga(CV-3) during a fleet problem during the 1930’s.
The photo might be Culebra, Puerto Rico, or maybe Gonaives, Haiti.

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This photograph, taken in 1936, shows the forward superstructure. The heavily armored conning tower can be identified by the narrow vision slits. Just above it the ship’s bridge is visible. The long “beam” on the platform above the bridge is the range finder, used to aim the ship’s main guns. The structures at the top of the tripod mast are stations for controlling the ship’s guns. The Arizona (BB-39) is passing under the partially completed Golden Gate Bridge.

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Capt. George Andrew Alexander was the commanding officer of the Arizona (BB-39) from the 6th of August 1936 to 12 November 1937.

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Arizona (BB-39) passes under the soon to be completed Golden Gate bridge, circa 1937.

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Arizona (BB-39) passing Alcatraz Island in the late 1930’s flying the flag of a rear admiral as Flagship Battle Force.

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Spotting planes were carried by all U.S. Battleships. These “eyes of the fleet” float planes greatly extended the effective range of the main battery. This rendering shows the Arizona’s (BB-39) 3 SOC float planes circa 1938. They are units of VO (Observation Squadron) One.

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Curtiss SOC’s being placed aboard the Arizona (BB-39).

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Curtiss SOC on Arizona’s (BB-39) catapult with a Lexington (CV-2/3) class carrier in the background.

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No turret catapult visible, but there is a float plane near the top rear turret.

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One of Arizona’s (BB-39) float planes flies past her after being launched from her fantail as another is being made ready on the turret catapult.

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31,000 plus tons of Arizona (BB-39) drive through the sea in the later 1930s.

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Arizona (BB-39) coming into drydock.

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Drydock not yet pumped dry, the crew of the Arizona (BB-39) are very likely scraping barnacles.
It would seem that rather than drain the dock and set up scaffolding, all hand have been put over the side into many flat bottom boats and the hull is being scraped by the crew as the water level is slowly lowered in the dock exposing more hull.

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Stern view of the Arizona (BB-39) in dry dock; workmen on the propellers with crewmen looking from the deck.

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Arizona was at Puget Sound Navy Yard in 1938 for overhaul, but early records are vague. Until now, the historical archives had no information on the specific work done on Arizona during its overhaul here.
The photographs show a turret being lifted from the ship to a temporary foundation. A battleship pier was located directly under the hammerhead crane (built in 1932-33) with a lifting capacity of 250 tons. There are numerous photos in the shipyard photo archives that show the hammerhead crane lifting large armament from the capital ships, but this is the first time that photos have shown the lifting of turrets. This photo shows the bow view above deck portion of the turret and its 3 x 14″/45 guns. Photos are dated 23 May 1938.

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The slow process of swinging tons of armored steel out from the ship has begun.

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Turret  being lowered into a temporary foundation for transport.

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Pearl Harbor, 1938: Nautilus (SS-168) with Arizona (BB-39) behind on the right and Pennsylvania (BB-38) on the left. Portland (CL-33)is behind Pennsylvania and the bow of a New Mexico class battleship is at the extreme left.

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On 17 September 1938, Arizona (BB-39) became the flagship for Battleship Division 1, when Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (later to become Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet) broke his flag on board. Detached 27 May 1939 to become Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Nimitz was relieved on that day by Rear Admiral Russell Willson.
Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Rear Admiral Russell Willson, USN, are shown during the change of Command Ceremonies on Arizona, 26 May 1939.




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Stern view of the Arizona (BB-39) with a lot of signal flags fluttering while maneuvering at sea 1939-40.
Note the biplanes overhead and the range clock on her stern tripod.

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Coming and goings of the Arizona (BB-39).

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Arizona’s (BB-39) Main Battery.

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U.S. FLAGSHIP ON WHICH PLOT IS REPORTED.SAN. PEDRO.CAL.
THIS IS A VIEW OF THE BATTLESHIP ARIZONA (BB-39) ON WHICH ALL LEAVES OF THE SAILORS WERE CANCELLED TODAY, REPORTEDLY BECAUSE OF THE DISCOVERY OF EVIDENCE OF A SABOTAGE PLOT AGAINST THE WARSHIP. NAVAL AUTHORITIES DECLINE TO COMMENT ON A REPORT THAT THERE HAS BEEN A PLAN TO DAMAGE THE FLAGSHIP WHICH IS SHOWN HERE AT ANCHOR IN LOS ANGELES HARBOR. THE ARIZONA IS REAR ADMIRAL RUSSEL WILSON’S FLAGSHIP OF BATTLE DIVISION 1.

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Arizona (BB-39) at Seattle in 1940.

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Probable front and rear photos here and below showing formations of aircraft flying over U.S. Navy battleships during exercises at sea, circa late 1930’s – 1940.
Pictured here is a New Mexico (BB-40 /42) class battleship in the van with other battleships of the Pacific Fleet and a carrier air group, led by the Air Group Commander in a Curtiss SBC Helldiver.
The aircraft following are:
A torpedo squadron of eighteen Douglas TBD-1s;
A bombing squadron of eighteen Northrop BT-1s;
A scouting squadron eighteen Curtiss SBCs;
A fighting squadron of eighteen Grumman F2F-1s or F3F-3s from either the Yorktown (CV-5) or F3F-2s from the Enterprise (CV-6), plus possibly nine additional aircraft.
The Yorktown and Enterprise were the only two carriers whose bombing squadrons were equipped with the Northrop BT-1.
The text for the photo reads:
“The Navy uses enormous amounts of rubber. At least seventy-five tons of rubber, enough to makes 17,000 tires, are used in the construction of each of these battleships. Tons more are needed for the naval planes that are making history over the world. Medical and communication requirements–and countless other needs of the Navy–are met.”
The lead BB looks like Mississippi (BB-41) followed by Maryland (BB-46) (rangefinder on Turret II). My first impression of the Tennessee class (BB-43 /44) is the Tennessee (BB-43), but that is not a certain ID from this photo alone. Fourth is the Oklahoma (BB-37) (no birdbath). Aside from the DD now in the lead, I see nothing in the head-on shot aerial that positively differs from the ID’s of the first 4 BB’s in the first photo. Of course, in the aft aerial shot, BB #5 is the California (BB-44), ID’d by the enlarged flag bridge, lending support to BB #3 in the first photo being Tennessee. Everything I see supports these three photos all being part of the same operation with at least the first 5BB’s remaining in the same order.

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Probable front and rear photos here and above showing formations of aircraft flying over U.S. Navy battleships during exercises at sea, circa late 1930’s – 1940.
In both photos, one of the New Mexico (BB-40 / 42) is leading the BB column while the remaining battleships have dual masthead fire control structures.
The air group formation in the two photos appears to be similar. The composition of 18 TBDs, 18 BT-1s, 18 SBCs, and 27 fighters is easier to distinguish in the front/surface view. I’m assuming, based on total aircraft count alone, that the formation in the rear/aerial view is the same. (The perspective makes it difficult to sort the monoplanes and biplanes into their respective types.) The only difference is that in the front/surface view the formation is lead by a Curtiss SBC Helldiver (likely the Air Group Commander) but in the rear/aerial view that lead Helldiver is not present. I suppose it’s possible that the photographer was in that Helldiver’s rear seat. What stands out for me is the presence of nine extra fighters beyond the normal squadron composition of 18, as seen in the other three squadrons in this formation.

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Between 9 September 1940 – 13 September 1940 the Arizona (BB-39) was under way with other ships of the US Fleet for simulated fleet engagement. She is pictured here in company with the New Mexico (BB-40) & West Virginia (BB-48).

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Column Right!
Arizona (BB-39), New Mexico (BB-40) & West Virginia (BB-48) and other ships of the Pacific Fleet taken during Fleet Ops in October 1940.
This photo and the following five are more than likely from the LIFE issue of 28 October 1940: “The Navy: LIFE Goes into Action with the U.S. Fleet”.
One of the introductory paragraphs reads as follows:
“To show itself to the American people, the U.S. Navy has co-operated with LIFE in this issue. LIFE photographers and reporters examined naval schools, ammunition depots, bases, destroyers, battleships, the War College, etc. Finally a LIFE crew sailed on the U.S. Fleet maneuvers last month off Pearl Harbor in mid-Pacific.”

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The third photo (here) is captioned:
“Battleships head directly toward the enemy over the horizon, ready to from line of battle either way.”

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A.A. Practice during Fleet Ops in October 1940.

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Field Day aboard a Pacific Fleet Battle wagon.

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Captain Harold Cecil Train was the Commanding Officer of the Arizona (BB-39) from 5 September 1940 to 5 February 1941.

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Arizona (BB-39) with three YPs in the foreground… Probably December 1940 as there is work going on with her superstructure and the splinter shields have been constructed around her 5″ guns but not been painted yet.

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Arizona (BB-39) passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, possibly for the last time. She does not yet have the MK 33 directors or the birdbath of her final configuration.

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Starboard profile of the Arizona (BB-39) at Puget Sound Navy Yard, 18 January 1941. The stern section of the Nevada (BB-36) and her tripod masts rise up behind the Arizona.

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