History of B-2 or Buttlefish - History

History of B-2 or Buttlefish - History

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(SS-11: dp. 145; 1. 82'5"; b. 12'6", dr. 10'7"; s. 9 k.;
colt 10; a. 2 18" TT.; cl. B)

B-2 was launched 1 September 1900 by Fore River Shipbuilding Cv., Quincy, Mass., as Cuttlefish (SS-l1); sponsored by Miss Eleanor Gow, daughter of Commander J. L. Gow; commissioned 18 October 1907, Lieutenant E. J. Marquart in command, and reported to the 2d Submarine Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet.

Cuttlefish operated along the Atlantic coast, running experiments, testing machinery and equipment, and conducting extensive training exercises until going into reserve at Charleston Navy Yard 30 November 1909. Recommissioned 15 April 1910 she served with the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet until joining the Reserve Torpedo Group at Charleston Navy Yard 9 May 1911. The boat was renamed B 2, 17 November 1911. B-2 remained in reserve until placed out of commission 4 December 1912. On 6 December 1912 she was towed to Norfolk and loaded on board Ajax (AC-15) for transfer to the Asiatic Station. Sailing via the Suez Canal, Ajax arrived at Cavite, Philippine Islands, 30 April 1913 and B-2 was launched 12 May. She was recommissioned 2 August 1913 and assigned to the Torpedo Flotilla, Asiatic Fleet. She remained on duty in the Philippines until decommissioned at Cavite 12 December 1919. B-2 was subsequently used as a target.

History of Stealth: From Out of the Shadows

Two F-117s on the ramp at Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, ready for a mission in support of Operation Southern Watch in 1998. Photo: TSgt. James Mossman

The existence of a new technology called “stealth” was announced by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown at a Pentagon news conference Aug. 22, 1980.

The special contribution of stealth was that it could reduce the radar cross section of an aircraft to approximately that of a bird, enabling a bomber to penetrate deep into enemy airspace without being detected or intercepted.

“It is not too soon to say that by making existing air defense systems essentially ineffective, this alters the military balance significantly,” Brown said.

What he did not say was that a stealth fighter prototype—which would lead eventually to the F-117 Nighthawk—had been test flown in 1977, or that a forerunner of a stealth bomber—the future B-2 Spirit—was already on contract.

Stealth was developed and fielded under tight secrecy. Despite occasional leaks and glimpses, the stealthy aircraft would not appear in the open for almost 10 years. The public rollout of the B-2 was in November 1988. The F-117 was publicly revealed in April 1990, four months after its combat debut in the Panama invasion of 1989.

The immediate reaction to Brown’s announcement in 1980 centered on politics. Critics said the reason for the disclosure—coming three months before the elections in November—was to take the heat off President Jimmy Carter for having canceled the nonstealthy B-1 bomber in 1977. Carter and Brown were also accused of recklessly releasing a critical defense secret for political purposes.

Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, who would defeat Carter in the election, joined in the criticism. Upon taking office, though, Reagan decided on a two-bomber approach, reinstating the B-1 but proceeding concurrently with what would become the B-2. Development of the stealth fighter, concealed by even greater classification than the B-2, continued apace.

Stealth came under severe attack in the 1990s by those who wanted to cut defense spending. The harsh judgments were not lessened appreciably by the outstanding performance of the F-117 in the Gulf War in 1991 and that of the B-2 and the F-117 in regional conflicts later in the decade. Production was sharply curtailed for both aircraft.

Click here or on the graphic above to view our full-sized infographic detailing US stealth aircraft through the years. Teaser graphic by Dashton Parham/staff.


Looking back from the perspective of 40 years, the significance of stealth has been enormous. No major countermeasures have emerged to negate it. The United States maintained its monopoly on the technology well into the 21st century.

Stealth, also known as “low observable” technology, still conveys an overwhelming combat advantage. It reduces exposure by a full range of signatures—electromagnetic, infrared, visual, and acoustic—but the main one is radar.

Stealth makes an object seem smaller on the radar screen by diffusing the reflection of the beam instead of bouncing it directly back to the radar receiver. Fighters and bombers with low radar cross sections can get close to their targets before they are detected. Nonstealthy aircraft pitted against stealthy opponents will almost certainly be shot down.

USAF’s F-15 Eagle, for example, was introduced in the 1970s as the world’s premier air superiority fighter. However, its radar cross section is 5,000 times greater than that of the F-35. Radar can pick up the F-15 more than 200 miles out, whereas the F-35 gets within 21 miles before it can be detected.

In recent years, the Chinese and the Russians have begun flying stealth fighters. US allies in Europe and the Pacific are partners in the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. For its stealth fighter needs, the US Air Force will rely on a mix of F-35s and a smaller number of older but even more capable F-22 Raptors. A new stealth bomber is in development.

Depending on budgets and politics, the Air Force anticipates a steady increase in the percentage of stealth aircraft in its combat units.

Secretary of Defense Harold Brown. Photo: Frank Hall/DOD

The roots of stealth can be traced to experimental aircraft of the 1940s, particularly Jack Northrop’s fabled YB-49 flying wing, which had smooth surfaces and rounded edges but no tail or fuselage. The all-wing configuration generated a relatively small image on radar screens, but that was of no great interest at the time, and the YB-49 was canceled in 1949.

In an obscure technical paper in the 1960s, Russian physicist Pyotr Ufimtsev theorized that electromagnetic waves bouncing off a flat surface could be calculated and used to estimate the return on radar. His findings were ignored by everyone, including the Russians.

By the 1970s, bombers and fighters were increasingly vulnerable to radar-controlled air defenses. In 1974, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force began a major effort to develop combat aircraft with low radar signatures.

Two of the principal aircraft companies, McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics, were occupied on the new F-15 and F-16 fighters so the tasking for stealth fell to Lockheed and Northrop. Both of them were awarded contracts in 1975 to build static models for the Experimental Survivable Testbed (XST).

Lockheed and Northrop took distinctly different approaches in their development of stealth. Ufimtsev’s paper on calculating radar refraction had been translated by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division in 1971, and Lockheed engineer Denys D. Overholser blended it into his own work for a computer program called “Echo 1.”

Echo 1, which computed the radar cross section from various angles over a range of wavelengths, was the enabling step to stealth for Lockheed. The catch was that the best available computers of the day could handle results only from flat surfaces. Thus, the calculations were spread out over hundreds of facets. The results were then combined to determine the radar cross section of the aircraft as a whole.

By contrast, Northrop relied on modeling of compound curves and shaping of the edges to achieve stealth. When the B-2 bomber was subsequently revealed to be a flying wing, the popular assumption was that it descended directly from Jack Northrop’s YB-49. Corporate heritage and culture no doubt played a part, but the engineers insisted that they started with a clean sheet of paper.

The XST models were mounted on poles and bombarded with electromagnetic waves to compare their radar cross sections. Northrop’s shaping approach worked well enough in deflecting radar beams from head on but was less effective than the Lockheed faceting when results from the sides and rear were considered.

Lockheed won the “pole off” and was selected in 1976 to proceed with a technology demonstrator to validate the pole test results.

In a separate venture—but with the additional objective of preserving Northrop’s stealth experience in the defense industrial base—DARPA in 1978 awarded Northrop a contract to design the Battlefield Surveillance Aircraft (BSAX). It was part of a broader program called “Assault Breaker,” intended to repel a massive tank attack in Europe. BSAX had to be stealthy enough to operate close to the forward edge of battle.

China’s J-20 displays its weapons bay during an air show in 2018. Another Chinese fifth-gen fighter, the J-31, is an F-35 lookalike and could be operational soon. Photo: Emperornie


The Lockheed fighter was at least five years, sometimes more, ahead of the Northrop bomber in the stealth timeline. The next step after the XST pole tests was “Have Blue,” Lockheed’s manned technology demonstrator that entered flight testing in April 1977.

Have Blue was a sharp-nosed single-engine aircraft with swept wings and stark planar surfaces. It was 60 percent the size of the F-117 fighter, which would come afterward. The facets, set at unusual angles, scattered the incoming radar beams.

The F-117 made its first flight in June 1981. Strictly speaking, the F-117 was an attack aircraft rather than a fighter. It was intended to drop bombs, not engage in aerial combat. However, Gen. Robert J. Dixon at Tactical Air Command believed that an “F” (for fighter) designation would be more attractive to the best pilots better than would an “A” (for attack).

Northrop’s BSAX demonstrator, “Tacit Blue,” made its first flight in February 1982. It was one of the strangest-looking aircraft ever built. For reasons needful to testing of the surveillance radar it carried, Tacit Blue was essentially a box with low-observable features wrapped around it. As Northrop acknowledged, “Tacit Blue’s shape looked like a butter dish with wings.” Between 1982 and 1985, Tacit Blue made 135 test flights.

Northrop had been announced in 1981 as winner of the contract for the Advanced Technology Bomber, which would be designated the B-2 in 1984. The Tacit Blue test results built confidence in Northrop’s approach to stealth.

In the interval since Lockheed’s Have Blue, computing power had increased exponentially, and it was no longer necessary to estimate radar cross section by figuring the results for individual panels one by one. The faceting route to stealth was largely abandoned.

The B-2 would not make its first flight until July 1989, only six months before the F-117 Nighthawk flew its first combat mission.


Stealth imposed penalties and trade-offs—chiefly in speed and aerodynamics—on the F-117 and the B-2. They had no afterburners and were limited to subsonic speeds. Supersonic flight would have undercut the benefits of stealth by announcing the presence of the aircraft, with both a sonic boom and a big thermal signature from the hot-burning engines.

Mach speeds would also have consumed more fuel, already at a premium since internal carriage of the engines did not leave much space for additional fuel tanks. Gas-guzzling afterburners would have diminished the operational range.

The early stealth airframes were aerodynamically unstable. Flight was made possible by digital “fly-by-wire” technology that employed computers to constantly adjust the flight controls.

Stealth designers addressed seven types of observable signatures: radar, infrared, visual, contrails, engine smoke, acoustic, and electromagnetic. Reduction of the critical radar cross section was achieved with 90 percent by shaping of the aircraft and 10 percent by radar-absorbent materials.

The radar-absorbent coatings were fairly thick in places and added weight to the aircraft. Repairing the coating and applying fresh material after each mission was expensive and time consuming.


Seeking to defuse criticism that his announcement of stealth had been for political gain, Defense Secretary Brown said in 1980 that because of leaks about stealth “in the last few days” to the press and television, “it is not appropriate or credible for us to deny the existence of the program.”

Indeed, there had been several recent leaks—at least one of them by a high Pentagon official and presumably with Brown’s blessing—but they were not the first disclosures of stealth.

The first public mention of stealth was in May 1975 by Defense Daily, a trade publication, which reported a design study for a “high Stealth-2 aircraft.” Under the heading “Lockheed ‘Stealth Fighter’,” the 1977-1978 edition of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft said that the Lockheed Skunk Works at Burbank, Calif., was building “a small ‘stealth fighter’ of which a primary feature will be low radar, infrared, and optical signature.”

Bits and pieces of the stealth story appeared intermittently in the 1980s. In particular, George Wilson of the Washington Post had good sources. In May 1982, he reported that the stealth bomber “is shaping up as a radically advanced flying wing.” That was confirmed in 1985 by Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who had seen a model of the airplane.

Secrecy about the F-117 was tighter than that surrounding the B-2, and the guesswork was less accurate. There was scattered speculation that the stealth fighter would be the “F-19.” That designation was used on a plastic model kit marketed by Testor in 1985. The picture on the box was a gracefully rounded delta shape. The forward fuselage resembled an SR-71. It attracted attention, but nothing about it was correct.

Testing of the F-117 was conducted at the Tonopah Test Range in the Nevada desert. Every week for eight years, pilots and ground crews from Nellis Air Force Base at Las Vegas flew up to Tonopah on Monday and returned home on Friday. Operations at Tonopah did not begin until an hour after sunset.

Security at Tonopah was breached in July 1986 when an F-117 on a night mission crashed near Bakersfield, Calif. Within a month, Wilson and the Washington Post reported that the crashed airplane was one of 50 stealth fighters flying out of Tonopah.

The Pentagon, deciding in 1988 that it could no longer justify the cost and effort to keep a total lid on the program, released a grainy photo of the F-117 but deliberately blurred its features to avoid revealing too much about the design. Wilson in the Post pronounced it “awkward looking.”


The stealth aircraft were developed in secrecy—the F-117 as a “black” program and the B-2 as a “gray” one—and were not subjected to much criticism during their formative years. That changed with the rollouts of the aircraft.

Relaxation of security on stealth coincided with the end of the Cold War and top-to-bottom reductions in the defense program. The stealth aircraft, especially the B-2, were favorite targets for defense critics in Congress and the news media.

Strong performance in the Gulf War and in regional conflicts in the Balkans did not make a difference. Only 59 F-117s were delivered to the Air Force, and the B-2 total was capped at 21.

The next generation of stealth arrived with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, an air-to-air fighter that first flew in 1997. The radar cross section of the F-22 is sometimes described as comparable to that of a golf ball, at other times as equal to that of a bumblebee.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—designed for both aerial combat and ground attack—flew in 2006. It has a single engine and is smaller than the twin-engine F-22.

Improvements in technology allowed the new stealth aircraft to escape some of the limitations of their predecessors. Supersonic speed is now an available option. The F-22 can reach Mach 2 and for the F-35 Mach 1.6.

The Air Force initially planned on 750 F-22s and 1,763 F-35s, but the F-22 program was terminated at 187 aircraft, and USAF so far has taken delivery of fewer than 200 F-35s. At present, stealth aircraft account for less than 20 percent of the fighter forces of US services.

The successor to the B-2 will be the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider. It will enter flight testing in 2021, but the number to be built is not yet decided. It is the fulfillment of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program, and in concept drawings, it has a strong family resemblance to the B-2.


The US monopoly on stealth could not last forever, and it didn’t. Both the Russians and the Chinese flew stealth fighters in tests in 2010.

The Russians have 10 flyable prototypes of the Su-57—also known as the T-50, its internal name at manufacturer Sukhoi—at various stages of test and evaluation. Reports say the program is “troubled” and behind schedule, but Sukhoi claims that the first operational Su-57s will be delivered soon to the Russian air force.

The Chinese are well ahead of the Russians and have two stealthy fighters. The first was the J-20, which has some features akin to those of the F-22 and F-35 and draws heavily on technology presumed to be stolen from the United States. The J-31 has been called “an F-35 look-alike” and may soon be ready for mass production. The Chinese are reported to be working on a J-31 variant that could fly from an aircraft carrier.

In addition, the Chinese have a stealth bomber, the Xian H-20, in development. The predicted range would be sufficient to target US bases on Guam.

A significant source of stealth proliferation is the US itself. The F-35, operational with the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, will be operated by a dozen US allies in Europe and on the Pacific rim, and also Israel. About half of them have already begun receiving airplanes.

In a study for the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute in 2017, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Barrett and Col. Mace Carpenter concluded that stealth has become an “imperative” in the digital age. “The capability to significantly reduce the range and effectiveness of modern radars and other threat sensors is now a basic requirement for aircraft survival,” they said.

John T. Correll was editor in chief of Air Force Magazine for 18 years and is a frequent contributor. His most recent article, “The Counter Revolution in Military Affairs,” appeared in the July/August issue.

History of B-2 or Buttlefish - History

Silvester B. Pratasik 1 , 2 , Marsoedi 3 , D. Arfiati 3 , D. Setyohadi 3

1 Postgraduate student of Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, Brawijaya University, Malang, East Java

2 Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, Sam Ratulangi Manado, North Sulawesi

3 Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, Brawijaya University Malang, East Java

Correspondence to: Silvester B. Pratasik, Postgraduate student of Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, Brawijaya University, Malang, East Java.


Copyright © 2015 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Biological overfishing could occur from either excessive and immature individual exploitation or habitat destruction. This study was aimed to estimate size at first maturity of cuttlefish, Sepialatimanus, collected from North Sulawesi waters. All samples were measured and observed their maturity level. Based on these data, the dorsal mantle length (DML) at first maturity was assessed for minimum legal size determination. Results showed that the cuttlefish samples had maturity level range from immature to post-spawning conditions, while the size at first maturity was estimated as 16 cm DML. Maximum DML was estimated as 55.53 cm and growth coefficient as 0.248. The deviation of mean DML from maximum dorsal length was also considered to see the population condition.

Keywords: Cuttlefish, Sepialatimanus, Size at first maturity

The Secret 'B-2 Bomber' History Has Forgotten About

The YB-49 prototypes suffered an unusual run of bad luck.

Here's What You Need to Remember: The B-2 Spirit, while utilizing radically different technology, bears a strong visual resemblance to its distant cousin. Indeed, the two aircraft share exactly the same wingspan. Northrop adopted the flying wing shape for the B-2 because it offers the advantage of a low radar cross-section.

As the United States approached World War II, it enjoyed the luxury of many innovative aircraft companies, and a ton of money to spend. Part of this bounty went to pursuit aircraft, part to tactical attack planes, and part to long-range bombers. This last generated one of the most interesting failures ever to emerge from the U.S. aviation industry the Northrop YB-49 “flying wing” bomber.

The Flying Wing

Early aviation engineers appreciated the potential for a “flying wing” design. A flying wing, which minimizes fuselage and usually eliminates the tail, reduces many of the aerodynamic compromises associated with a normal fuselage, reducing overall drag. However, many of these features enhance stability, meaning that a flying wing often lacks the stability of a traditional airframe. This makes the aircraft more difficult to fly, especially before the advent of fly-by-wire technology. A flying wing can also struggle with creating space for crew, payload, and defensive armament, as any of these can reduce the aerodynamic advantages than the shape offers.

Nevertheless, engineers (especially in Germany and the Soviet Union) tried repeatedly in the interwar period to develop a viable flying wing, either for transport or for military purposes. While these efforts yielded useful data, they rarely resulted in practical airframes. Near the end of World War II, the German successfully developed a jet fighter flying wing, although it did not enter mass production.

From XB-35 to YB-49

In the early years of World War II, U.S. strategists realized that it might become necessary to bomb Germany directly from the United States, especially if Great Britain left the war. A U.S. Army Air Corps request triggered proposals from a Boeing-Consolidated alliance (eventually Convair) and from Northrop. The former resulted in the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, the latter in the XB-35. The B-36 had a relatively conventional design it looked more or less like a bigger version of the extant bombers of the time, although it had innovative features. The XB-35, on the other hand, was something new to U.S. military aviation a flying wing. It was smaller than the B-36, but comparable in many performance features.

By 1944, the XB-35 had fallen behind the B-36 (although both suffered significant technological problems), and in any case the immediate strategic necessity for a trans-continental bomber had waned. The Air Force, which acknowledged that both the B-36 and the XB-35 were largely obsolete, canceled the latter instead of the former because it believed that the problems of the B-36 were easier to solve. However, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) found the flying wing concept sufficiently intriguing that it proposed redesigning the XB-35 airframe around a jet, rather than piston, engines. Northrop developed a plan to re-engine a number of incomplete XB-35 frames with jets, eventually completing three such conversions and preparing several more.

The jet engines improved the top speed of the bomber to 493 miles per hour, an improvement of about 20% over its antecedent. The service ceiling of the YB-49 also increased, an important consideration for escaping Soviet interceptors. However, the fuel-hungry engines shrank the YB-49s combat radius, making it more comparable to a medium bomber than to the long-range B-36. Unfortunately, while the YB-49 could outrun the B-36, it lacked the speed of Boeing’s new B-47 Stratojet medium bomber.

The YB-49 prototypes suffered an unusual run of bad luck. One prototype was lost with five crew members in June 1948, when the aircraft broke up in midflight. Another was lost during taxi when the nosewheel collapsed, leading to a fire that destroyed the entire aircraft. The Air Force cancelled the contract for the YB-49 in May 1950, shortly after this second accident. The last prototype, a recon variant, flew until 1951 and was scrapped in 1953.

Advocates of the YB-49 long nursed the belief that the Air Force had deliberately sabotaged the program in preference for the B-36 and other, later bombers. Jack Northrop, founder of the company, believed that the Air Force canceled the YB-49 because he would not agree to a merger with Convair. A few dark rumors implied that the accidents suffered by the YB-49 prototypes had not been accidental at all, but rather the result of sabotage. No meaningful evidence has ever emerged to substantiate these allegations.

Northrop would not realize success in an all-wing airframe until decades later. The B-2 Spirit, while utilizing radically different technology, bears a strong visual resemblance to its distant cousin. Indeed, the two aircraft share exactly the same wingspan. Northrop adopted the flying wing shape for the B-2 because it offers the advantage of a low radar cross-section. Advances in fly-by-wire technology have made the B-2 much easier to fly than the YB-49 (or the YB-35). All indications suggest that Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider stealth bomber will have a similar configuration, as will the Xian H-20 strategic bomber and the Tupolev PAK DA.

Although the YB-49 never reached full production, experience with the frame helped validate the concept which now dominates international thinking on strategic bomber design.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security, and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money and Information Dissemination and The Diplomat. This article first appeared several years ago.

The Truth Behind the Triangles

Many of these sightings have been investigated repeatedly by UFO sleuths. The Belgian triangles have been explained away as stars, planets, balloons or blimps, with a bit of mass hallucination thrown in. The lights over Phoenix were dismissed as flares dropped during an Air National Guard exercise, although that theory has many skeptics. Some say the New York sightings were a hoax perpetrated by local stunt pilots flying in formation.

A F-117 Nighthawk pictured in night vision, 1999. 

One explanation raises the possibility of the 𠇊irship effect.” That’s the theory that people who see unrelated lights in the sky can trick themselves into believing they are all part of the same object. Three lights? Must be a triangular spaceship. Three lights hundreds of yards apart? Must be a really big triangular spaceship.

History of B-2 or Buttlefish - History

A 10-armed marine mollusk similar to the squid.

On 17 November 1911 Cuttlefish (SS-11) was renamed B-2 (q.v.).

(SS-171: dp. 1,130 1.274', b. 24'9" dr. 12'11"
s. 17 k. cpl. 43 a. 1 3", 6 21" tt. cl. Cachalot)

Cuttlefish (SS-171) launched 21 November 1933 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn., sponsored by Mrs. B. S. Bullard and commissioned 8 June 1934, Lieutenant Commander C. W. Styer in command.

Departing New London 15 May 1935, Cuttlefish arrived at San Diego 22 June. She sailed on torpedo practice and fleet tactics along the west coast, as well as in the Hawaiian Islands, until 28 June 1937 when she sailed for the Panama Canal, Miami, New York, and New London.

Arriving at New London 28 July 1937 she conducted experimental torpedo firing, sound training, and other operations for the Submarine School. She sailed from New York 22 October 1938 for Coco Solo, C.Z., where she conducted diving operations and other exercises for the training of submariners until 20 March 1939, sailing then for Mare Island.

Cuttlefish arrived at Pearl Harbor 16 June 1939 and was based there on patrol duty, as well as joining in battle problems and exercises in the Hawaiian area. That autumn she cruised to the Samoan Islands, and in 1940 to the west coast. On 6 October 1941 she cleared Pearl Harbor for an overhaul at Mare Island Navy Yard.

After returning to Pearl Harbor, Cuttlefish put to sea on her first war patrol 29 January 1942. On 13 February she performed a reconnaissance of Marcus Island, gaining valuable information, and after patrolling in the Bonins, returned to Midway 24 March. She refitted there and at Pearl Harbor, and on 2 May cleared Midway for her second war patrol. Between 18 and 24 May, she reconnoitered Saipan and the northern islands of the Marianas group. On 19 May she attacked a partol ship, and while maneuvering for a second attack, was detected. She was forced deep to endure 4 hours of severe depth charging, more of which came her way on 24 May when she challenged three enemy destroyers. The next day an alert enemy plane caught her on the surface and dropped two bombs as she went under, both of them misses.

As it became obvious that the Japanese Fleet was out in strength, Cuttlefish was ordered to patrol about 700 miles west of Midway, remaining on station during the Battle of Midway of 4 to 6 June 1942. She returned to Pearl Harbor 15 June, and there and at Midway prepared for her third war patrol, for which she sailed 29 July. Patrolling off the Japanese homeland, she attacked a destroyer on 18 August, and received a punishing depth charge attack. Three days later she launched a spread of torpedoes, three of which hit a freighter and one of which hit an escort. Explosions were seen, but the sinking could not be confirmed. On 5 September she attacked a tanker which, it is believed, she sunk.

Returning to Pearl Harbor 20 September 1942, Cuttlefish was ordered to New London, where she served the Submarine School as a training ship from December 1942 until October 1945. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia 24 October 1945 and sold 12 February 1947.

Cuttlefish's third war patrol was designated as "successful," and she received one battle star for that patrol and one for her service during the Battle of Midway.

When threatened, cuttlefish may release an ink called sepia in a cloud that confuses predators and allows the cuttlefish to get away. This ink historically was used for writing and drawing, can be used to treat medical conditions and is also used as a food coloring.

Within their bodies, cuttlefish have a long, oval bone called a cuttlebone. This bone is used to regulate buoyancy using chambers that may be filled with gas and/or water depending on where the cuttlefish is in the water column. Cuttlebones from dead cuttlefish may wash up on shore and are sold in pet stores as a calcium/mineral supplement for domestic birds.

Cuttlefish: The Chameleon of the Sea


[1] Hanlon, R. T. and J. B. Messenger (1996). Cephalopod Behaviour. Cambridge, Cambridge UP.

[2] Alcock, J. (2005). Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach. Sunderland, MD, Sinauer Associates


[1] Vendetti, J. (n.d.). The Cephalopoda.UCMP - University of California Museum of Paleontology. Retrieved November 17, 2011, from

[2] Mathger, L. M., Shashar, N., & Hanlon, R. T. (2009). Do cephalopods communicate using polarized light reflections from their skin. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 212, 2133-2140. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from

[3] Messenger, J. (2001). Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history. Biological Reviews,76(4), 473-528. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from the Wiley Online Library database.

[4] Marin, B., Nowack, E. C., Glockner, G., & Melkonian, M. (2007). The ancestor of the Paulinella chromatophore obtained a carboxysomal operon by horizontal gene transfer from a Nitrococcus-like &gamma-proteobacterium. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 7(85). Retrieved November 16, 2011, from

[5] Chromatophore. (n.d.). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from Web site:

[6] phylogeny. 2011. In Retrieved November 3, 2011,

[7] Vendetti, J. (n.d.). The Cephalopoda.UCMP - University of California Museum of Paleontology. Retrieved November 17, 2011, from

Mechanism and Ontogeny

[1]Barbosa, A. (2007). Disruptive Coloration in Cuttlefish: a Visual Perception Mechanism That Regulates ONtogenetic Adjustment of Skin Patterning. The Journal of Experimental Biology, NA, 1139-1147.

[2]Cephalopod Chromatophore. (n.d.).Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from

[3]Cephalopod Leucaphore. (n.d.).Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from

[4]Chiao, C., & Roger, H. (2001). Cuttlefish Camouflage: Visual Perception of size, contrast and number of white swuares on artificial checkerboard substrata initiates disruptive coloration. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 204, 2119-2125.

[5]Kreulwich, R. (n.d.). Camouflaged Cuttlefish: Don't Mind Me I'm Not Here : Krulwich Wonders. : NPR.NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from

[6]Mathger, L., Shashar, N., & Hanlon, R. (2009). Do cephalopods communicate using polarized light reflections from their skin?. Journal of Experimental Biology , 212, 2133-2140.

[7]R.T., H., & J.B., M. (1988). Adaptive Coloration in Young Cuttlefish (Sepia Officinalis L.): The Morphology and Development of Body Patterns ant Their Relation to Behavior. Biological Sciences, 320(1200), 437-487.

[8]Shashar, N. (1996). Polarization vision in cuttlefish-a concealed communication channel?. The Journal of Experimental Biology, NA, 2077-2084. Retrieved October 30, 2011, from

Adaptive Value

[1] Alcock, J. (2005). Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach. Sunderland, MD, Sinauer Associates

[2] Hanlon, R. T. and J. B. Messenger (1996). Cephalopod Behaviour. Cambridge, Cambridge UP.

[3] Messenger, J. B. (2001). "Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history." Biological Review 76: 473-528.

[4] Hanlon, R. T. (2007). "Cephalopod dynamic camouflage." Current Biology 17(11): 400-404.

[5] Stevens, M. and S. Merilaita (2009). "Animal camouflage: current issues and new perspectives." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 364(1516): 423-427.

[6] Chiao, C.-C. and R. T. Hanlon (2001). "Cuttlefish Camouflage: Visual Perception of Size, Contrast and Numbero of White Squares on Artificial Checkerboard Substrata Initiates Disruptive Coloration." The Journal of Experimental Biology 204: 2119-2125

[7] Messenger, J. B. (2001). "Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history." Biological Review 76: 473-528.

[8] Boal, J. G. (2004). "Behavioral Evidence for Intraspecific Signaling with Achromatic and Polarized Light by Cuttlefish (Molluca: Cephalopoda)." Behaviour 141(7): 837-861.

[9] Adamo, S. A. and R. T. Hanlon (1996). "Do Cuttlefish (Cephalopoda) Signal Their Intentions to Conspecifics during Agonistic Encounters?" Animal Behavior - 52(- 1): 73 - 81.

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[12] Chiou, T.-H., L. M. Mathger, et al. (2007). "Spectral and spatial properties of polarized light reflections from the arms of squid (Loligo pealeii) and cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis L.)." Journal of Experimental Biology 210: 3624-3363.

[13] Langridge, K. V., M. Broom, et al. (2007). "Selective Signalling by Cuttlefish to Predators." Current Biology 17(24): R1044-R1045.

Not Your Grandmother's Meatball

The hearty Olive Garden staple is a far cry from the dish that Italian immigrants first brought to the United States: An Object Lesson.

In some of my earliest memories, I’m peering out from beneath the small, round, oak table in my Nona’s kitchen in Dedham, Massachusetts, the same town where my great-great-grandparents settled after immigrating from Italy. My Nona’s kitchen was tiny, always packed full of family, friends, and neighbors, all of them women. The kitchen steamed with the humid scents of boiling water and aging cheese, the stinging pinch of garlic and tomatoes clinging to their tousled hair. Thick hands dug deep into bowls of ground beef. In my memory, these women are always making meatballs.

The meatball, as most Americans encounter it, is a dense, round composition of ground meats. It works best when made from a combination of lean ground beef and fattier ground pork or veal, along with moist breadcrumbs, herbs, cheese, and a little bit of egg to bind the concoction together. Doused in marinara sauce and served with a giant bowl of spaghetti, the meatball is a staple of Italian restaurants across America, from the lowly Olive Garden to the white tablecloths of upscale Manhattan eateries.

But the meatballs you’ll get at Olive Garden are nothing like those found in Italy. Writing in Smithsonian, Shaylyn Esposito explains that Italian meatballs, known as polpettes, are considerably smaller than their American brethren—especially in the Abruzzo region, where polpettines are as small as marbles. Polpettes are usually eaten as the main course of a meal, served not with pasta or a tomato sauce, but plain, or in a light soup broth. Depending on the regional offerings, the meat used to create the polpette varies widely, from turkey to fish. And though meatballs are a staple of Italian restaurants in America, you’ll almost never find them on restaurant menus in Italy, where polpettes are considered a simple peasant food: a dish made and served almost exclusively in the home.

Polpettes trace their Italian heritage back to the ancient Roman empire. Apicius, a collection of recipes thought to have been compiled in the 4th or 5th century, includes several varieties of meatballs made of everything from cuttlefish to chicken. As with many ancient texts, scholars have been unable to definitively identify its origins or author many believe the cookbook to have been written by different authors over several decades. In his 1936 English translation, Joseph Dommers Vehling writes that many of the recipes were likely adapted by the Romans from the Greeks.

In fact, the true origin of the meatball remains unknown. The most likely candidate for the original meatball seems to be kofta, a dish of minced or ground beef, chicken, pork, or lamb, mixed with rice, bulgur, or mashed lentils. Now typically fashioned into cigar-sized cylinders, kofta seems to have originated with the Persians, who passed it to the Arabs. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, kofta appears in some of the earliest Arabic cookbooks, where it consisted of ground lamb rolled into orange-sized balls and glazed with egg yolk and saffron. They likely traveled from the Arab world along trade routes to Greece, North Africa, and Spain.

Perhaps pinpointing the exact origin of the meatball is less significant than acknowledging its global popularity. Nearly every major culture has its own version of the meatball: Spanish albondigas, Dutch bitterballen, Chinese lion’s heads, South African skilpedjies. Kofte, too, is cooked everywhere from India to Morocco.

One possible reason for the meatball’s ubiquity: It’s an exceptionally accessible dish, simple and affordable. Meatballs can be made with nearly any kind of meat, and since that meat is ground and mixed with herbs and other flavors, cheap cuts of meat can be transformed into something delicious. Meatball recipes are also perfect for the frugal chef, stretching a relatively small amount of meat into a substantial meal by mixing it with bread, egg, or mashed vegetables.

It was exactly this flexibility and affordability that made the meatball so appealing to Italian-American immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of the Italian immigrants who landed in the northeast United States at this time came from the impoverished southern regions of their home country (Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Abruzzi, Molise). With very little money, it’s only natural that they turned to their most affordable recipes, so the southern Italian polpette became a staple.

Since meatballs were usually made with the cheapest cuts of meat available, Italian immigrants tried creative new ways to make the meatball appealing. Canned tomatoes were cheap and widely available, so Italians leaned heavily on the marinara sauce that had come to the United States from Naples. And in order to make their meals more substantial, cooks began pairing the meatball with spaghetti, the cheapest noodle around.

Gradually, Italian immigrants’ incomes rose, and meat became a more affordable indulgence. The meatball grew along with the average family paycheck, becoming larger and denser, as home cooks used more meat and relied less on stale bread soaked in milk to round out the portion.

Just like the meatball itself is an amalgam of meat and spice and binder, the American meatball—that big ball dropped in pasta and covered with sauce—is a uniquely American food, fashioned from an amalgam of convenience, cost, and immigrant culture. It’s also a food that fits in nicely with the modern American lifestyle, with its emphasis on speed and convenience: Meatballs can be cooked and preserved in various ways, eaten on the go or at room temperature drenched in sauce or cheese, or eaten plain. Wherever they began, the meatball you are served at any Italian restaurant stateside is an immigrant’s creation, like much of American cuisine—a blend of something old and new.

I felt surprised and a little betrayed when I first discovered meatballs were likely not Italian in origin. So many of my childhood memories involved meatballs: learning to roll them fast between my palms alongside the matriarchs of my family scooping three or four at a time from a large platter drowning in red sauce onto a plate of homemade spaghetti sinking my teeth into the soft meat, sweet and spicy with garlic. The scent of a pot of homemade sauce and meatballs simmering on the stove comforts me, warms me deep down on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Meatballs were so much a part of my Italian family, I thought, that they had to belong to us.

Now I see meatballs differently, and more broadly. Meatballs represent home and hearth and family generally speaking, and across cultures. I can imagine Vietnamese children savoring the indulgence of bó viên in a warm bowl of pho, and Swedes (or IKEA customers) finding respite from winter’s cold with hearty köttbullar in a thick, brown gravy. Even so, I still take comfort and pride in the knowledge that the meatball I know and love is a uniquely Italian-American blend, just like my family, and just like me.

The Cockleshell Heroes of 1942

The Cockleshell Heroes raided Nazi-occupied Bordeaux in December 1942 in ‘Operation Frankton’. The Cockleshell Heroes target was the harbour complex in the city. The port was very important to the Germans as many merchant ships used it to supply the German Army stationed not only in France but also elsewhere throughout occupied Europe. They succeeded in sinking one ship and severely damaging four others and doing enough damage in the port to greatly disrupt the use of the harbour for months to come. Such was the significance of the raid that Winston Churchill said that it helped to shorten World War Two by six months.

Another important reason for ‘Operation Frankton’ to succeed was that German U-boats used the port as a base and any disruption to their Atlantic patrols would have been highly important.

Any German merchant ships that came through the English Channel could be dealt with by either the Royal Navy or by Coastal Command. But plenty of merchant ships were willing to risk sailing to Bordeaux harbour via the Mediterranean Sea and there was little the Royal Navy could do about it. A raid by bombers would have led to many civilian casualties – so this was excluded.

The task of the Cockleshell Heroes was simple – destroy as many ships in the harbour as was possible so that the harbour itself would be blocked with wreckage, thus rendering it incapable of fully operating as a harbour.

The Cockleshell Heroes were from the Royal Marine Boom Patrol Detachment. These men got their nickname from the canoes they were to use which were themselves nicknamed ‘cockles’. After months of training, they set-off for their target on board the submarine ‘HMS Tuna’. Out of the twelve Marines, only Major Hasler, the group commander, and Lieutenant Mackinnon knew where they were going as they had helped formulate the plan. The other ten Marines were only told their target once ‘Tuna’ surfaced off the French coast.

The plan was for the six teams of two men to paddle five miles to the mouth of the River Gironde, paddle seventy miles up it, plant limpet mines on the ships in the harbour and then make their way to Spain.

The raid started badly once the men were due to be dropped off by ‘HMS Tuna’. One of the canoes was holed as it was being made ready on the Tuna. The two Royal Marines who were meant to have used this canoe – called ‘Cachalot’ – could not take part in the raid. It is said that Marines Fisher and Ellery were left in tears at their disappointment.

The commander, Major ‘Blondie’ Hasler partnered Marine Bill Sparks in ‘Catfish’.

As the canoes approached the mouth of the River Gironde they hit a violent rip tide. The waves were five feet high and the canoe ‘Conger’ was lost. The two crew of ‘Conger’ – Corporal George Sheard and Marine David Moffat – were towed by the other canoes. Once near the shoreline, both men had to swim to the shore as they were slowing down the remaining canoes. Neither man made it to the shore. It was assumed that they had both drowned.

The crew of the canoe ‘Coalfish’ – Sergeant Samuel Wallace and Marine Jock Ewart – were caught by the Germans, interrogated and shot after being held captive for two days. Despite being in uniform, their captors carried out Hitler’s infamous ‘Commando Order’ – that anyone captured on commando raids was to be shot.

The crew of the ‘Cuttlefish’ – Lieutenant John Mackinnon and Marine James Conway – had to abandon their canoe after it was damaged. They were also caught by the Germans who handed the pair over to the Gestapo. It is though that both men were held and interrogated for about three months before being shot.

With four canoes down, the raiders were only left with two canoes. Along with ‘Catfish’, ‘Crayfish’ was left crewed by Marine William Mills and Corporal Albert Laver.

By now, the Germans knew that something was up and they greatly increased the number of patrols along the Gironde. The two crews paddled at night and hid during the day.

The two canoes got to the harbour in Bordeaux. Here they were spotted by a sentry who failed to raise the alarm – possibly he mistook what he saw for driftwood as both crews remained motionless in their canoes as they had been trained to do.

The crew of both remaining canoes placed limpet mines on the merchant ships they found in the harbour. This whole process took about two to three hours. Each mine had a nine-hour fuse on it that was activated before the mine was placed giving the four Marines time to get away. Both ‘Crayfish’ and ‘Catfish’ escaped on the tide.

The damage to Bordeaux harbour was severe. Now the crews had to leave their canoes, move on foot and link up with the French Resistance at the town of Ruffec. The Germans automatically assumed that the men would travel south to Spain. In fact, they travelled 100 miles north of Bordeaux – a journey that took six days. They then backtracked and travelled to Gibraltar via Spain.

Laver and Mills, who were moving separately from Sparks and Hasler, were caught by the Germans and shot. With the help of the French Resistance, Hasler and Sparks reached Spain and then Gibraltar – a journey that took a total of fifteen weeks.

Even here, Sparks met problems. Hasler was transported back to Britain with due speed on the orders of Lord Louis Mountbatten. However, Sparks did not have such luck and was arrested because he could not prove his identity. Sparks was transported back to London where he was put under guard by the military police. However, Sparks slipped these guards at Euston Station. He visited his father to assure him that he was not dead and then made his way to the Combined Operations Headquarters.

The Cockleshell Heroes were:

Marines Fisher and Ellery on ‘Cachalot’. Both had to abandon because of damage to their canoe.

Corporal Sheer and Marine Moffat on ‘Conger’. Both men were drowned.

Sergeant Wallace and Marine Ewart on ‘Coalfish’. Both were men captured and shot.

Lieutenant Mackinnon and Marine Conway on ‘Cuttlefish’. Both men were captured and shot.

Corporal Laver and Marine Mills on ‘Crayfish’. Both men were captured and shot.

Major Hasler and Marine Sparks on ‘Catfish’. Both men made it back to the UK.

November 30 th 1942: The twelve Commandos embarked on ‘HMS Tuna’

December 7 th 1942: At 19.30 the canoes were made ready for their journey. ‘Cachalot’ was torn during the disembarking and could not be used. The other five ‘cockles’ started their mission about ten miles from the Pointe de Grave at the head of the Gironde estuary.

December 7 th /8 th 1942: ‘Coalfish’ and ‘Conger’ were lost. The daytime of the 8 th was spent in hiding at the Pointe aux Oiseaux.

December 8 th /9 th 1942: Twenty five miles was covered during the night and during the day of the 9 th , the remaining canoes hid at St. Estephe.

December 9 th /10 th 1942: The crews of ‘Cuttlefish’ and ‘Catfish’ landed on the Ile de Cazeau. This was at the head of the River Garonne – the river that would take them to the port at Bordeaux.

December 10 th /11 th 1942: ‘Cuttlefish’ was wrecked and could not continue. Mackinnon and Conway made their way inland but were captured. ‘Catfish’ and ‘Crayfish’ paddled to striking distance of the docks and hid for the day.

December 11 th /12 th 1942: Both ‘Catfish’ and ‘Crayfish’ paddled into the docks and placed their mines. The first mine went off at 07.00 on December 12 th . Both canoes had retraced their way up the Garonne and paddled to Blaye. Here both teams destroyed their canoes before they separated and went their separate ways.

Watch the video: Crafting History B-2 Remembering the First Run (June 2022).