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Old 11-03-2015, 02:08 PM   #26
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Naval base records...

Chatham- NAS Chatham: 1918-1920
Lat/Long 41 42 58.06 N, 69 58 01.74 W

On August 22, 1917 construction started on 36 acre Nickerson Neck site in North Chatham for this U.S.N. coastal patrol base to protect the sea lanes from Long Island to Maine from German U-Boats. Designed for exclusively Navy airships, seaplanes and flying boats it was an important link in the defense of the United Stated from an attack by sea and was key in protecting our coast and our convoy routes to our Allies overseas. Chatham was placed in commission on January 6, 1918. The base had 13 buildings including two large hangars: a dirigible hangar and seaplane hangar. There were no provisions for runways or for accommodating land aircraft.

The first two aircraft shipped to Chatham arrived in late January. These were two of the three Burgess Dunne flying wing seaplanes the Navy had purchased in 1914. These obsolete seaplanes were crated when received and were unfit for assembly and scrapped. The first four, state of the art, Curtiss R-9 seaplanes arrived in March 1918; four more arrived in April and the last four R-9s were received in May. The next aircraft complement were four Curtiss HS-1Ls delivered by rail in June. These aircraft were capable of covering a broader offshore search area, capable of four hour patrols at their cruising speed. The third aviation component at Chatham was the two B-class airships that arrived in crates by rail in March. They were assembled their ground crews, joined by their flight crews in May, and the airships made their first flight over Massachusetts Bay on May 22, 1918.

NAS Chatham had the distinction of responding to the first direct attack of the United States mainland by Germany. The U-156 surfaced off Orleans on Sunday July 21, 1918 to attack a transiting tugboat and barges heading south along the Cape Cod shore. The U-Boat set the tug on fire and sank the four barges in tow. Shells, from the U-156 which was firing at these surface targets, in a number of instances landed on the Orleans beaches. There were no causalities on the beach but the tugboat crewmen were slightly wounded in the attack were able to reach the shore. NAS Chatham was notified 19 minutes after the attack started and had only three aircraft available to respond to the attack. Only two were serviceable for flight a HL-1L flying boat and an R-9 seaplane, both took off to attack the U-156. Both aircraft aggressively attacked with Mark IV bombs at low and medium altitudes but unfortunately none of the bombs detonated due to chronically defective bomb fuses. The U-156 submerged after their attack and headed north looking for additional targets The bomb fuses were finally fixed by Navy ordinance specialists and shipped to operational units a few days after the failure of the attack on the U-156.

NAS Chatham was operational up to the end of WW1 and postwar it continued to training aviators and enlisted aviation specialists. It also, as the only major New England Naval air station, made public relations exhibition flights, supported a major Navy New England recruiting drive, participated in special civic events and serviced transient Navy aircraft and crews. This included repair work on the Curtiss NC- 4 flying boat on the first trans-Atlantic flight in 1919. NAS Chatham was placed in non operating status on May 15, 1920 and the base was finally closed on December 31, 1922. The U.S. Government held on to the property until it was finally sold at auction to private individuals on June 16, 1948.


From the Office of Naval Aviation (beginning November 1917) and its successors. I came across this in the August 5, 1918 letter:
On July 19th two seaplanes from this station [Montauk] passed over where the U.S.S. San Diego sank before the crew had been picked up. . . . Seaplanes afterwards sighted an object which was [e]ither a submarine or a whale near Coast Guard Station No. 78. Two other seaplanes, A-952 and A-922, while patrolling in the same district saw several submarine chasers and one destroyer setting off depth charges. The pilot of A-922 saw some object underneath the water which he believed to be a submarine. He directed the attention of the chasers to it and they afterward exploded depth charges near the place he indicated.

A-922 and A-952 fall in the range of R-9

R-9 (Model 2A) 1917 = USN bomber version of R-6 (or R-3?), with pilot controls moved to the friont seat. POP: 10 to USN [A883/887, A901/905], which were transferred to Army in 1918 [AS39033/39042].

Last edited by TCT1911; 11-03-2015 at 03:19 PM.
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