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History of Shark II - History


Shark II

Schooner Shark—a Confederate blockade runner captured by Union steamer, South Carolina, off Galveston Tex., on 4 July 1861—was renamed George W. Rodgers (q.v.) soon after she was taken over by the Navy on 5 September 1863.


Nose art

Nose art is a decorative painting or design on the fuselage of an aircraft, usually on the front fuselage.

While begun for practical reasons of identifying friendly units, the practice evolved to express the individuality often constrained by the uniformity of the military, to evoke memories of home and peacetime life, and as a kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war and the probability of death. The appeal, in part, came from nose art not being officially approved, even when the regulations against it were not enforced. [1] [2]

Because of its individual and unofficial nature, it is considered folk art, inseparable from work as well as representative of a group. [1] It can also be compared to sophisticated graffiti. In both cases, the artist is often anonymous, and the art itself is ephemeral. In addition, it relies on materials immediately available. [1]

Nose art is largely a military tradition, but civilian airliners operated by the Virgin Group feature "Virgin Girls" on the nose as part of their livery. In a broad sense, the tail art of several airlines such as the Eskimo of Alaska Airlines can be called "nose art", as are the tail markings of present-day U.S. Navy squadrons. There were exceptions, including the VIII Bomber Command, 301st Bomb Group B-17F "Whizzer", which had its girl-riding-a-bomb on the dorsal fin. [3]


Hanspeter Bohi from Muenchenstein, Switzerland builds a spot-on replica of the most important concept Corvette ever!

Dateline 2-4-18, Photos by Hans Peter Bohi and GM Archives – This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Vette Magazine.

The 1965/1966 Mako Shark-II set down the basic look and proportion for all Corvettes going forward. To understand the Mako Shark-II, we have to get into the mind of GM VP of Design, Bill Mitchell. His task was to see the future and then pull it into reality through his designers and stylists. Mitchell didn’t “draw” a single line of either the Sting Ray or Mako Shark-II, but he knew what he wanted.

The 1982 Collector Edition Corvette finned aluminum wheels are a dead-ringer for the wheels used on the Mako Shark-II and are shod with period-correct Firestone racing tires.

Here’s how Bill commanded his troops he wanted, “…a narrow, slim, center section and coupe body, a tapered tail, an all-of-a-piece blending of the upper and lower portions of the body through the center (avoiding the look of a roof added to a body), and prominent wheels with their protective fenders distinctly separate from the main body, yet grafted organically to it.” Mitchell was almost there with the 1962 Monza GT. After the design was nailed down, a full-size, non-running version was built and shown to management in March 1965. It was unanimous the Mako Shark-II HAD TO BE the next Corvette.

While many of Mitchell’s designed cars had a heavy Italian accent, the Mako Shark-II was a one-of-a-kind original and after 50-plus years is still as head-turner, as Hanspeter’s replica proves!

While the Mako Shark II was making its debut at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair , work began on a running version, and the production version, scheduled as the 1967 Corvette. Management thought they could take a concept car into production in just 18 months – it didn’t happen. Transforming a show car into the 1968 Corvette took 30-months and in hindsight, should have been a 1969 model.

The Mako Shark-II was one of those designs that is perfect from every angle of view. The extremely pointed nose and pronounced center crease were essential parts of the overall design, but did not make it into the production version. The C3 is a classic, but looks tame next to the Mako Shark-II.

The non-running Mako Shark-II was a hit on the show car circui t and when the running Mako Shark was completed on October 5, 1965, it was dripping with special features, too many to outline here. Days later, Chevrolet debuted the Mako Shark-II at the Automobile Salon Show in Paris, then to London, Turin, Brussels, Geneva, and finally to the New York Auto Show in April 1966. On March 21, 1966 GM filed for a U.S. Patent on the design. The official U.S. Patent illustrations were essential to Hanspeter Bohi’s project, as we will see.

The Mako Shark-II’s roof connects it to the 1963-1967 Sting Ray. Fans of the Mako Shark-II were disappointed when the C3 arrived with the “sugar scoop” roof design. Both designs had severely restricted rear vision.

What happened to the non-running and running Mako Shark-II cars? After the running version was completed, the non-running car was brought home and disassembled. After the production 1968 Corvette was released, the running Mako Shark-II was transformed into the 1969 Manta Ray and survives to this day.

The Mako Shark-II was a hottie, but not everyone was thrilled with the production interpretation, but most Corvette fans liked the car. Kit carmaker John Silva made his “Maco Shark” full-body kit. Joel Rosen of Motion offered his own turnkey Motion Maco Corvettes . As happens with most awesome Corvettes, they fade from glory thanks to their successors. But some fans never forgot or got over the Mako Shark-II.

“Good crowd!” Hanspeter’s Mako Shark-II was a big hit at “Super Corvette Sunday”, Switzerland’s biggest car show. The almost 53-year-old design is still a head-turner! Hanspeter heard many times, “I’ve never seen anything like this before! Great! That was a show!“ The Mako Shark-II overwhelmed the people.

Hanspeter Bohi from Muenchenstein, Switzerland is one such fan. A formally trained auto mechanic in the late 1960s, Hanspeter’s passion was for Corvettes and motorcycles. In 1976 Bohi opened his company, “Speed-Shop Bohi AG” specializing in basket case Corvettes. During his career he has rebuilt C1 to C6 basket-case Corvettes, giving him a thorough knowledge of Corvette mechanics. Hanspeter’s shop grew and in 1988 moved to a larger facility with five lifts in Muenchenstein. Through the years, Hanspeter always owned one or two Corvettes.

Show cars and concept cars are deliberately over-done so that when it comes time to make the production version, extreme details can be rolled back. The C3’s nose is pointed, but not this much!

ver since his first Corvette, a 1970 454 LS5, Hanspeter had his heart set on the Mako Shark-II. In 2004 Bohi launched his project, eventually collecting over 300 images and even photos from when the running Mako Shark-II was in Geneva in 1966! When Hanspeter got a copy of the U.S. Patent, he realized this would be a difficult project, as everything had to be hand fabricated. Bohi decided to replicate the first version, the non-running Mako Shark-II.

Two of the Mako Shark-II’s “gee wiz!” features are seen in this photo the hidden headlights and the automatic roof hatch.

Work began in 2013 as an evenings and weekends project. The chassis is from a 1969 Corvette built to big-block specifications. The LS6 454 engine has Edelbrock aluminum heads, with an original snowflake-type manifold with single Rochester four-barrel carb, mated to a three-speed TurboHydramatic transmission. This was the easy part! What’s so stunning about Hanspeter’s Mako Shark-II is the body. It looks as if he stole the body from Chevrolet back in 1966. Far from it!

The non-running Mako Shark-II’s interior was not well documented, but the most atypical feature was the aircraft-style steering wheel with twist-controls. Hanspeter’s version captures the look of the original. The center consol is fully functional, as are the gauges on the passenger side. The seatbelt and buckle are from a set of Boeing aircraft seats.

anspeter explains “Starting with the US Patent Drawing, I measured angle distance and curvatures – all the time comparing the shape of the Mako Shark-II on my donor car. Sometimes I fabricated a partial section three-to-five times before I was happy with the shape. Then I would add the new part to the donor car. Every section was made with four-to-five layers of fiberglass, with reinforcements for added strength.”

Hanspeter and Margrit Bohi at home with their Mako Shark-II. Hanspeter other interest is flying helicopters and motorcycles.

I started with the rear section lights using 1967 taillights. I patched pieces together for the right and left side, made a negative mold, and then a positive single part. If it wasn’t right, I’d throw it away and start over. When I got it right, I’d take a break, enjoy the finished section, imagine what a wonderful car this would be when finished, and then move on to another section. That’s how I made the entire body and kept my enthusiasm going.”

Hanspeter credited his good friends. “I could not have completed my Mako Shark-II without the help of my friends.” Left-to-Right: Hanspeter Bohi, Markus Bowald, and Heinz Breitenstein

The really hard work was creating the mounting supports for the headlights and tilt front end. The headlight top and bottom doors took 1-1/2 years to make, and uses four motors. My friend Markus “Bowi” Bowald an electrical engineer, worked out the mechanism so when the headlights are on, the doors open, and close when the lights are off. My friend Heinz Breitenstein, a CAD draftsman and machinist, helped with a lot of the fabrication work for the grille parts, side exhausts, center console, headlight doors mechanism, and Mako Shark-II fender emblem. My part was fiberglass fabrication, engine, transmission, chassis, frame, complete exhaust system and unique air filter box. It would have been impossible to complete this project without my two, well-qualified engineer friends. I spent well over 4,000 hours on the project, plus time from my friends. The money spent was secondary, fulfilling the dream was what pushed us.”

Here’s what made Hanspeter’s Mako Shark-II project possible. While William L. Mitchell was credited with the patent, aside from a quick sketch on the back of an envelope, Bill didn’t draw a single line on the Mako Shark-II, but he guided and controlled the entire project.

Hanspeter’s Mako Shark-II has lots of special features. When you touch the door handle, the top opens for easier ingress, just like the original Mako-Shark-II. When inside the car, if the top is not secured when the transmission is in drive, a red light goes on. The headlight doors, top, rear louvers and turn signal side doors operate with switches in the middle console. You can change gears with a push button and activate the parking brakes with a push button when the ignition is off. The unique seatbelts are from a set of Boeing aircraft seats. The finned knock-off-style wheels are from a 1982 Collector Edition Corvette, shod with period correct, genuine Firestone racing tires. The tires came in all black and Hanspeter hand-painted the thin whitewall.

Bill Mitchell was a big fan of side-pipes. The non-running version featured covered exhaust pipes protruding from the front fender. The running version had rear-exiting exhausts. This might have been done as a matter of expediency to get the running version completed in time for the Paris Automobile Salon show in October 1965.

For our readers that are familiar with the Mako Shark-II, you are probably wondering if Hanspeter is planning to offer reproductions of his body molds. Sorry, this is a one-of-a-kind car and he has no plans to sell body kits. The car was built for local events, car shows, and possibly a trip to America. It would be so cool to see Hanspeter’s hand-made Mako Shark-II between the Mako Shark-I and the Manta Ray at the GM Heritage Center. – Scott

Here are some photos of Hanspeter’s 1965 Mako Shark-II build

Here’s how you create complex compound curves. Hanspeter used the same technique ship builders use to create the hull of a ship. Looking like “Dr. Mako Shark” Hanspeter poses with one of the many parts he hand fabricated. Each section was created separately. Hanspeter said, “If it wasn’t right, I’d throw it away and start over.” The nose mold has 10 parts, you can see each fender is made in 2 parts front and rear. The surrounding of the front chrome bumper are also 4 parts. Hanspeter had to carefully work out the headlight buckets and mechanism so that when he took his cutter to the actual nose of the Mako Shark-II’s body, his first cut was spot on. Hanspeter said, “Believe me, you hesitate when you make your first cut. You can’t reanimate fiberglass! Cut is cut!” Being a muscle car guy, Hanspeter chose to use an LS6 454 engine, where as the non-running Mako Shark-II had a stock 396/425 big-block engine. Hanspeter’s friend Markus Bowald designed and built the Mako Shark-II’s several brain boxes. Only the front two down pipes actually carry exhaust. The side-pipe down tubes have a metal sheath with added-on ribs. Exactly how the side pipes on the non-running Mako Shark-II were supposed to work is not known, but Hanspeter came up with this unique solution. The cast iron exhaust manifolds are connected to standard exhaust pipe fittings and then to a performance muffler. The exit end of the muffled then does a U-turn, running back to the front where it connects to the hand-made side pipes.


  • The 3,541lb female shark named Nukumi usually swims down the US east coast
  • The large 17ft shark is being tracked by OCEARCH using satellite technology
  • The 50 year old matriarch is the largest ever tagged in the north America region
  • Experts can't say for certain it will hit UK shores but it is capable of doing so

Published: 15:32 BST, 23 April 2021 | Updated: 16:26 BST, 23 April 2021

A 17ft long great white shark has crossed the Atlantic, becoming only the second in known history to do so, potentially hitting British shores this summer.

The 3,541lb female shark named Nukumi usually swims up and down the east coast of America and Canada but the tagged creature took an unexpected turn.

The 50-year-old matriarch - the largest ever tagged in the region by scientists who are monitoring her - took a swerve east, across the Atlantic.

Migratory species like great white sharks rarely cross the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - a barrier in the middle of the ocean - but Nukumi took the plunge earlier this month.

And she has kept going, surfacing long enough for the tag in her dorsal fin to 'ping' a GPS location back to gripped shark trackers at science organisation OCEARCH.

A 17ft long great white shark has crossed the Atlantic, becoming only the second in known history to do so, potentially hitting British shores this summer

British coast is facing an invasion of SHARKS as a result of reduced marine traffic in lockdown

A drop in maritime traffic may be behind a surge in the number of sharks seen in British waters, according to an expert.

There have been multiple sightings of both basking and porbeagle sharks in recent weeks with members of the public spotting them closer to the shore than usual.

Some have ended up in marinas while others have been photographed and filmed in the sea just off the coast.

David Sims, Professor of Marine Ecology, Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton, believes the spike could be due to a drop in maritime voyages.

The only other great white shark tracked making the crossing was Lydia, in April 2014, which stunned scientists with an epic journey to the coast of Portugal.

Nukumi's two-month voyage has so far taken her to 1,700 nautical miles off British shores - and experts admitted: 'She is capable of reaching the UK coast'.

Experts reckon she's on the move because she could be pregnant, and is looking for a place to give birth away from her aggressive male counterparts.

OCEARCH's chief scientist Dr Bob Hueter said Nukumi has crossed from the western Atlantic to the eastern Atlantic over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the dividing feature between west and east.

'She has been swimming eastward for about two months since she left the U.S.. coast off the state of North Carolina,' he explained.

'As of her last known location, Nukumi was still about 1,700 nautical miles from the UK,' which is less than her distance from the US coast that she's already travelled.

'She is capable of reaching the UK coast but we would not predict that she will do that, as white sharks are rare off the UK.

'If she does not turn back soon, she might go to offshore islands or seamounts in the eastern Atlantic, places like the Azores.

'Or perhaps she will head towards the opening into the Mediterranean Sea, as there are white sharks in the Med.'


Mako Shark (concept car)

The XP-755 concept car, also known as the Mako Shark, was designed by Larry Shinoda under the direction of General Motors Styling and Design head Bill Mitchell. With the 1963 Corvette C2 design locked down, in 1961 as a concept for future Chevrolet Corvette the groundwork for the XP-755 was laid down. Building on the design of the 1958 XP-700 "double bubble", the XP-755 added design elements of the soon to be released C2 Corvette. In keeping with the name, the streamlining, pointed snout, and other detailing was partly inspired by the sleek, fast-moving shortfin mako shark. The '61 Corvette tail was given two additional tail lights (six total) for the concept car. The concept was also inspired by Bill Mitchell's 1959 Stingray racer XP-87 which also influenced the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.

The Mako Shark debuted at the New York Coliseum at the 1962 6th International Automobile Show, [1] and the car was a success on the auto show circuit. With many of the Mako's design elements making into production on future Covettes, it was successful in building hype for the forthcoming next generation of Corvette. [2]

Like many show cars, the Mako Shark underwent styling and detail changes over time. The hood and front facia were modified and the interior was updated. The car also lost the distinctive "double-bubble" canopy. The car was retroactively dubbed the Mako Shark I when the Mako Shark II debuted. The car now resides in the GM Heritage Collection. [2]

An apocryphal story has it that Mitchell had an actual mako shark mounted on the wall in his office, and ordered his team to paint the car to match the distinctive blue-gray upper surface blending into the white underside of the fish. After numerous attempts to match the shark's color scheme failed, the team hit upon the idea of kidnapping the fish one night, painting it to match their best efforts on the car, and returning it to the office. Mitchell never realized the difference and pronounced himself pleased with the team's duplication of nature's handiwork on the car. [3]

Charles M. Jordan's son, Mark reports that the XP-755 was built out of the 1958 XP-700 Corvette show-car. [4]

TV Appearance Edit

The XP-755 Mako Shark a concept car was used in [5] Route 66 that aired in October 1961. [6] General Motors supplied most of the vehicles that were driven in the series. [7] In this particular episode, the main characters in Route 66, Buzz and Tod drive a 1962 Corvette. But another character, Prudie Adams drives a very exotic looking XP-755 Mako Shark I with a double bubble top and side exhaust pipes.


Photos: World War II Fixed Blade Knives

Because of the shortage of brass and aluminum during World War II, Western used plastic for the guards and pommels of its “Baby Shark” models.

Saturday, May 19, 2018, is Armed Forces Day. It’s a day to “participate in exercises expressive of our recognition of the skill, gallantry, and uncompromising devotion to duty characteristic of the Armed Forces in the carrying out of their missions,” as President Harry Truman put it in 1950.

BLADE is doing its part by taking a look back at the knives that accompanied those in uniform during World War II. When BLADE writes about lives depending on knives, it’s not only referring to the user. If a soldier depends on a knife, then citizens also depend on that knife.

Editor’s note: The following is by Richard D. White.

MARK 1

Pal (bottom) and Robeson made these Mark 1’s with wood pommels. Wood was used because of a shortage of aluminum during World War II. Both knives feature handmade sheaths, probably made on ships by servicemen. (All images by Richard D. White)

Featuring a 5-to-5.25-inch flat-ground blade, the Mark 1 utility knife was adopted by the Navy as a survival-type knife with sheath. Every sailor who worked “topside” was issued a fixed blade for cutting ropes/line.

The Mark I probably the World War II military knife encountered most in the marketplace. There are a significant number of different varieties—some historians say as many as 42. Camillus, Colonial, Geneva Forge, Pal, Robeson, KA-BAR, Boker and Kinfolks made them.

Blade finishes included polished, blued and Parkerized. Pommels were the traditional bird’s-beak design or flat of steel, plastic or wood. Handles generally were stacked leather—some with fiber spacers, some without. Mark 1’s by Colonial had injected plastic handles.

MARK 2

Two excellent Mark 2’s stamped “KA-BAR” are synonymous with World War II U.S. military combat knives. Union Cutlery Co. made approximately 1 million USMC-stamped KA-BAR knives for distribution in the South Pacific.

The Mark 2 was made available to combat soldiers in 1943. It was 12 inches long with a 7-inch blade. The handle was stacked leather, generally grooved. It was held in place with a steel washer pinned to the tang. Examples are plentiful and often were photographed hanging from the belts of soldiers who fought in the South Pacific Islands.

The backs of the KA-BAR Mark 2 tangs show the very deep, distinctive “USMC” stamping—a stated preference of the author’s—on the polished (left) and coated blades.

KA-BAR, Robeson, Pal, Utica, Ontario and Camillus were the major manufacturers of the Mark 2. Variations included different spacer colors, marks/stamps, pommel thicknesses and materials, piening vs. welding of the pommels, blue vs. polished blades, and smooth vs. grooved handles.

The M3—this one by Camillus—is one of the most desirable World War II combat knives because of its double-edge blade. Though over 2.5 million supposedly were produced during World War II, prices remain quite high for them. Boker, Kinfolks, Robeson, Utica, Imperial, Case, Aerial and Pal also made M3s.

The M3 was designed to meet a shortage of combat knives, especially in early 1942. According to Frank Trzaska, a military knife historian, the decision to design the M3 rather than continuing to produce the Mark 2 was based on a U.S. steel shortage.

The M3 was selected because it was easier to manufacture and had a thinner blade, which was 6.75 inches and sharpened the full length, excluding the stamped tang area. The top edge was sharpened about a third of the blade length. The guard was thick steel angled on top to form a thumb rest.

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The handle was stacked leather with a series of cut grooves. Originally there were supposed to be eight grooves, but some companies generally used to six to seven. The grooves provided better purchase. The pommel was flat steel and pinned to the tang.

The M3 had many variations, including added spacers at the guard and pommel end, or piening the tang over to hold the pommel in place as opposed to pinning the pommel onto the tang.

GO WESTERN

Because of the shortage of brass and aluminum during World War II, Western used plastic for the guards and pommels of its “Baby Shark” models.

Any review of World War II military fixed blades must include several examples of Western knives. While some are very rare, such as the L-76, L-77, “Bushman” and USMC parachutist knives, several examples are more ubiquitous.

One is the “Shark.” Western made two: one with a 6-inch blade, the G46-6, and one with a 5-inch blade, the G46-5. Both had huge blood grooves, stacked leather handles, and several different guards and pommels. Both came with flat steel, aluminum or mottled-brown-plastic pommels.

Guards were double steel, the very rare brass or plastic like the pommels. Many times the guards and pommels were mixed and matched. The smaller Sharks were issued to Navy and Army Air Corps pilots as a bailout knife. Blade finishes were blued and polished.

Of these two Western 46-8 combat knives, the more traditional World War II vintage is the bottom one, with flat steel pommel and blued blade. The top model is perhaps post-World War II because it features a brass guard. Because of the demand for brass for artillery shells and ammunition, few World War II military knives feature the material for guards.

Another Western World War II fixed blade was the 46-8, a huge, impressive combat knife with an 8-inch blade. It was officially known as the G46. The blade had a massive blood groove and upswept false edge on the spine. The knife featured stacked leather handles, double-sided steel guards, and flat steel pommels. Most had blued blades, though some were polished.

The Cattaraugus 225Q was favored by GIs because of its massive, thick blade and the three-part steel pommel. The sheath is in mint condition and was bought with the knife from a 95-year-old veteran of World War II. Most 225Q’s have a rough groove cut into the stacked leather handle for enhanced purchase.

The Cattaraugus 225-Q had one of the strongest blades of any World War II combat knife. Many observers say it was for quartermasters, with the “Q” standing for quartermaster. As the thinking goes, the rather stout blade was designed to open various wooden crates—an important part of the quartermaster’s job—and the triple steel pommel was used to nail the crates closed.

Still others say the knife was designed for and used by U.S. special operatives during World War II. As with any military knife, be careful not to fall victim to the opinions of so-called experts, especially when they attribute particular knives to units like the Devils’ Brigade, Commandos, OSS, Underwater Demolition Team, etc.

Some military knives—not just the 225Q—were stamped very lightly, while others were deeply stamped.


The childish origins of the word ‘infantry’

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:55:37

In the days of antiquity, being in the cavalry was a privilege specifically reserved for those who ranked higher in the social order than the common people. Those who were too young, too inexperienced, or too poor to have a horse, usually ended up in a type of combat unit specifically named for them: the infantry.

From the early days of warfare on up through the Middle Ages and beyond, war was a socially stratified activity, just like anything else. The leaders of a country needed able-bodied men to fight the wars, and they needed those men to already have the skills and experience necessary to fight wars. The problem is that most of those men definitely did not have the skills and experience necessary to fight wars. If a country didn’t have a standing professional army and used mostly the rabble picked from its towns and cities, chances are good, it was filled with infantry.

The word “infantry” is just as its root word suggests. Derived from the latin word infans, the word literally means infancy. Later versions of the word became common usage in French, Old Italian, and Spanish, meaning “foot soldiers too low in rank to be cavalry.

The last thing you see when you’re too poor to own a horse and no one thought to bring pointy sticks.

As if walking to the war and being the first to die from the other side’s cavalry charges wasn’t bad enough, your own cavalry referred to you as babies or children. Another possible Latin origin of the phrase would also describe infantry just as well. The word infantia means “unable to speak” or perhaps more colloquially, “not able to have an opinion.” The latter word might describe any infantry throughout history. As a conscript, you were forced into the service of a lord for his lands and allies, not given a choice in the matter.

In the modern terminology for infantry, this is probably just as true, except you volunteered to not have an opinion. At least now, you get healthcare and not cholera.

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‘I looked towards the front of the ship and to my astonishment it was almost gone. Men were coming up from below deck, crying hysterically for help. Many had scorched skin hanging from their faces and arms and the smell of burning flesh and hair was nauseating.

‘I’ll never forget the fires, the horrified faces and the cacophony of screams. I can still hear the explosions and the screeching metal being twisted and torn by the tons of water the ship was taking on.’

With all electrical power cut off, no word could be sent to the engine-room to stop the Indy’s vast propellers turning, so she surged on, the bows filling with water and sinking a ship nearly twice the length of a football pitch within just 12 minutes.

Some sailors were as young as 17 and when the order to abandon ship came, they refused to jump, even though the deck was soon almost vertical. ‘Everyone held on for dear life,’ recalled ensign Harlan Twible. ‘They were scared to go into that forbidding water.’

Survivors of USS Indianapolis en route to hospital after being rescued in August 1945

They had good reason to be fearful, not just because of the sharks who swam to the site from miles away, attracted by the blood soon flowing from the dead and the wounded.

Many had not had time to find their lifejackets and very few liferafts could be found in the pandemonium which followed the Japanese onslaught.

Those men who did not drown immediately clung to debris or trod water to survive, finding respite only when the death of a crewmate made a lifejacket available.

For those for whom staying afloat was not an immediate concern, there were other dangers. The Indy’s fuel tanks had ruptured and, as the men plummeted into the sea, many accidentally swallowed the oil surrounding them in great slicks.

After hours of vomiting, which left them horribly thirsty, they then faced the sun’s relentless glare, which blistered their previously chilled flesh.

Their eyes burned, too, from the caustic saltwater that constantly splashed their faces and, as severe dehydration set in, many suffered hallucinations, thinking they could see a ship or island and excitedly trying to persuade the others that they should swim to safety with them.

‘Their thrashing often attracted the sharks and we’d hear a bloodcurdling scream,’ remembered Edgar Harrell. ‘Like a fishing float taken under the water, the helpless sailor quickly disappeared and then his mangled body would resurface moments later with only a portion of his torso remaining.

The film Men of Courage showed the survivors being attacked by sharks

‘That was then fought over by other sharks — a haunting sound and scene I cannot erase from my mind.’

With men spread over thousands of square yards of ocean, Harrell found himself part of a group of about 80 frightened souls who attached themselves to each other’s lifejackets so they could not drift away.

At one point, a brief spell of rain saw them opening their mouths heavenwards, eagerly swallowing what precious drops of fresh water they could catch.

By the second day, their group’s number had already dwindled to about 40, many succumbing to salt poisoning when their extreme thirst drove them to gulp down mouthfuls of seawater instead.

‘With our minds becoming unhinged, our tongues swollen and our throats squeezing shut, it’s easy to understand why some of the survivors began drinking the saltwater,’ wrote Harrell.

‘The boys who fell into this trap soon had violent fits, whooping and hollering and twisting around in the water with flailing arms. Suddenly, as if an explosion had taken place, they would fall into a coma and go limp. Sometimes this would happen in the middle of a ring of sharks.’

To keep up morale, the men sang the naval hymn For Those In Peril On The Sea, and tried to convince themselves that help was on the way.

However, the speed with which the ship had sunk had allowed her to send only one SOS and that had been ignored by radio operators on other ships who, with the war so close to an end and the enemy facing defeat, thought it implausible the American fleet could have sustained such a blow. Instead, they decided the distress signal was a Japanese trick, designed to lure their ships into the area.

Neither does there seem to have been any proper procedure for checking whether the Indy had arrived in the Philippines, as scheduled, so the men remained at the mercy of their dead-eyed underwater predators.

The sharks which attacked the USS Indianapolis crew were oceanic whitetips

The fact that the sharks tended to attack live victims close to the surface is consistent with them being oceanic whitetips (known as the Dark Knights of the Ocean).

Growing up to 10ft long, they are not the largest sharks, but their ferocity once led the oceanographer Jacques Cousteau to describe them as ‘the most dangerous of all sharks’. These killers were unused to retaliation and so they could sometimes be deterred by jabbing them in the eye.

The shipwrecked men also learned that there was safety in numbers, the sharks preferring to pick off only those who drifted to the perimeter of their groups. Mostly, there was little the sailors could do except pray they would not be the next victim.

‘On numerous occasions, I recall seeing a large fin coming straight at me,’ wrote Edgar Harrell. ‘In horror, I would take what I thought would be my last breath and bend my knees up to my chest.

‘Sometimes I could feel a fin brush my body. Other times I would merely feel the wake of the massive beast streaking through the water just underneath me.

‘These gut-wrenching encounters caused me to feel as though I was constantly tied up in a knot and my abdominal muscles became completely exhausted, leaving my legs to dangle helplessly in the path of the mighty marauders.’

Among the stranded men was the ship’s chief medical officer, Dr Lewis Haynes, who became little more than a floating coroner.

‘I’d look into a man’s eyes and if his pupil was dilated and he didn’t blink, I’d declare him dead,’ he said. ‘Then we would take off his lifejacket because we needed every damned one that we could get our hands on.’ By the fourth day, even their lifejackets were giving up. Filled with the natural fibre kapok, they had long exceeded their buoyancy limit of 48 hours and therefore dragged many men beneath the surface.

Hopes of rescue had almost gone when the pilot of a U.S. bomber on an antisubmarine patrol looked down and saw the oil-soaked heads of men bobbing on the water.

By the next morning, the survivors’ fifth in the water, destroyers were on the scene. No one knows how many deaths were due to sharks, rather than exposure or dehydration, but only 317 men remained alive. Many had excruciating infections from shark-bites and the attempts to clean the oil off saw many layers of decomposing skin peeling away with it.

For the U.S. Navy, the sinking of the Indianapolis was an embarrassment and details of what happened was not released until two weeks after the rescue and the day that Japan surrendered.

Nicolas Cage played Captain McVay, who was made a scapegoat by the US Navy

That triumphant news overshadowed the loss of the Indianapolis, but the Navy still sought to make a scapegoat of Captain McVay.

He was court-martialled for failing to follow a ‘zig-zag’ course — a standard anti-submarine manoeuvre, but one he had no reason to adopt given the misleading intelligence he was given. Demoted to a desk job, he was also sent hate mail by some relatives of the dead. This caused him more than 20 years of mental anguish. In 1968, he shot himself with his service revolver.

Captain McVay was finally exonerated in 2000, thanks to a final strange twist in the tale. Three years previously, a 12-year-old Florida schoolboy called Hunter Scott began researching the sinking of the Indianapolis for a national history competition.

Talking to some of the 150 survivors, the tenacious youth eventually had enough evidence to persuade the U.S. Congress to clear Captain McVay’s name.

Scott said he had been inspired by watching the 1975 movie Jaws, which featured the late Robert Shaw as Captain Quint, an Indianapolis survivor who went on to become a seasoned shark-hunter.

In a celebrated monologue, Quint relates his ordeal and eventual rescue. ‘You know, that was the time I was most frightened — waitin’ for my turn [to be saved].


The Worst Recorded Shark Attack in History Happened During WWII

When you think of shark attacks, you probably imagine surfers, divers, or other people who choose to be in the water with the giant predators when they’re mistaken for food – but the worst shark attack in history is actually the result of an event far more sinister.

And in this case, the sharks weren’t making mistakes – the humans beings treading water were, in fact, their intended prey.

The USS Indianapolis had delivered components of the atomic bomb that would later level Hiroshima before leaving Guam. It sailed alone toward the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, where it was supposed to meet the USS Idaho and prepare for an invasion of Japan.

A day later, shortly after midnight, a Japanese torpedo ripped the ship in half.

It sank in under 12 minutes, sending the 900 survivors (of 1196 crew) into the water.

There weren’t enough life rafts to hold everyone but there were life vests to go around, and as the men formed groups and began going through rations and trying to maintain some kind of order, they surely believed rescue would come – and soon.

Instead, the sharks appeared, likely drawn by the blood and bodies in the water, ready to attack live victims. Their reported aggression leads most historians and experts to believe the sharks in question were oceanic whitetips – a particularly aggressive species that lives and feeds in open water.


Shark finning

Among the threats from humans that sharks face is finning, the practice of harvesting the lateral and dorsal fins and the lower tail fin from a shark by commercial fishing operations and others worldwide. After the shark has been captured and its fins have been removed, its body, which is most likely still alive, is often cast overboard to save weight and cargo space. The practice is thought to have arisen in China about 1000 ce primarily for the purpose of supplying fins for shark fin soup served to guests at social occasions where the dish is symbolic of the host’s status. Although most shark fin products are traded through Hong Kong, some are sent to local markets around the world that supply restaurants. The yearly global demand for shark fin soup results in the harvesting of tens of millions of sharks each year.

Campaigns led by animal rights groups and environmentalists have discouraged the consumption of shark fin soup. Since 2011, some restaurants around the world have removed the soup from their menus, and, beginning in 2012, it was no longer served at official state functions in China.

Shark fin tissue is known to contain the neurotoxin BMAA (beta-methylamino- l -alanine), which is produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). The consumption of BMAA-contaminated food and water has been linked to certain forms of neurodegenerative disease in humans.