Military Photo: Fritz X Bomb Hit

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Posted: 09/11/2019

USS Savannah (CL 42) Is hit by a German radio-controlled bomb, while supporting Allied forces ashore during the Salerno operation, 11 September 1943.

The bomb hit the top of the ship's number three 6"/47 gun turret and penetrated deep into her hull before exploding. The photograph shows the explosion venting through the top of the turret and also through Savannah's hull below the waterline.

The bomb impact was initially a huge crash, followed seconds later by a massive explosion that lifted the ship right out of the water, and knocked everyone to the deck. The bomb passed through the turret top, killed everyone inside, and exploded at the keel, blowing the bottom of the ship out and causing a huge geyser of water and debris to come out the port side a little forward of the bridge. It covered us with water, and almost immediately smoke started pouring from the hole in the turret. We all figured the magazine would explode at any second, but it didn’t. When the bomb exploded it blew out the keel directly under the magazine, and the water flooded the magazine before it had a chance to go off.

The explosion blew open both the #2 and #1 magazines forward, and killed most everyone in the bow forward of the #3 turret.

The instant flooding of the #3 magazine of the USS Savannah was providential or she likely would have been lost just like the Italian Battleship Roma was lost to a massive magazine explosion after a Fritz X bomb penetrated her turret & magazine.

A motor torpedo boat (PT) is passing by in the foreground at the instant of the explosion of the Fritz X Bomb. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral H. Kent Hewett, USN Text by Dennis Largess



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