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Higgins Boats

Higgins boat

President Eisenhower said: “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” And as Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) said, “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement.  It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II.”

Clearly, the half-wood half-steel “smallboat” meant a lot to the War. These assault or LCVP boats would land troops and material on invasion beachheads. Their designer, Andrew Higgins, was positive there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats—and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In an common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own.

Higgins boat diagram

Higgins’ expectations were right, and as the war progressed he applied for a position in Naval design. Insisting that the Navy “doesn’t know one damn thing about small boats,” Higgins struggled for years to convince them of the need for small wooden boats. Finally he signed the contract to develop his LCVP.

Employing more than 30,000 for an integrated workforce in New Orleans. Higgins employed blacks and women among them, which was uncommon practice at the time. This force eagerly began mass-producing the “Higgins boats,” which were 36’3” in length and had a beam of 10’10”. Their displacement when unloaded was 18,000 lbs., and they could maintain a speed of 9 knots. They were defended by 2 .30 caliber machine guns, and could carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. For a detailed picture of a Higgins boat’s anatomy, see the image below. Along with the help of other American factories, Higgins produced 23,398 LCVPs during the War.

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In the United States,  Andrew Higgins evaluated the Fox boat and felt it was too weak to survive mishap in emergency operations. In November 1943, Higgins assigned engineers from his company to make a sturdier version with two engines.  Higgins Industries, known for making landing craft (LCVPs)  and PT boats,  produced the A-1 lifeboat, a 1½-ton (1400 kg), 27-foot (8 m) airborne lifeboat with waterproof internal compartments so that it would not sink if swamped or overturned. Intended to be dropped by modified Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress it was ready for production in early 1944.

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Military History – Navy Style – 

The Navy’s version of Sad Sack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Adams – Rockingham, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/675 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Howard Blanchard – DE; US Navy, WWII, destroyer escort / Korea

William Cason Sr. – Charlotsville, VA; US Merchant Marines

Steven Donofrio – Middlebury, CT; US Navy, WWII

Barbara Bower Johnson – Pleasant Hills, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, telegrapher

Albert Moon – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Hamlin

Robert Oelwang – Hornell, NY; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

William Robertson – MI; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Sutton – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Signalman

Richard Wynn – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII

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