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US Military U-22/25 History

Are you in need of information regarding "the way it was?" Or are you are a walking "who's-who" of Chris-Craft history? Share what you don't know—or do know here.

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Reginald Down
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US Military U-22/25 History

Post by Reginald Down » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:47 pm

Gentlemen,

The photograph of the U.S. Army Utility as shown on the Boat Buzz home page begs the question, "Where can I learn more about these Military U-22/25 models?"

What years were they produced by Chris-Craft? Other than the unique windshield's and huge spot lights, did they have other Military specific components such as engines, interiors, etc? Did Chris-Craft produce any Military versions with ventilating streamlined cabins (hard tops) similar to the post war SP-25 Sportsman's?

And the most important question, are there any original Chris-Craft Military U-22/25 survivor's out there?
Reg Down

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Don Ayers
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Post by Don Ayers » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:29 pm

Reg;

All that data is at the MM and I'm not aware of anyone who has done research on the subject. I always wanted to do some study on the landing craft.

I remember hearing about a U-22 war boat some time ago.
Don Ayers
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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:34 pm

The boat pictured in the new Boat Buzz masthead is a military issue Crash Boat.

I have become fairly interested in these, though, to my knowledge, few have researched the topic deeply. There were many models manufactured for military use. Among these were Crash Boats, Target Boats, Landing Craft, 42-foot Command boats, and 60-foot "Quartermaster" cruisers.

The boat shown above was sold to the U.S. Army. I know there were contracts with the Air Force and perhaps the Navy as well.These boats were dispatched to pick up downed airmen.

Chris-Craft's first war-time contract was for engines to be supplied to other builders, such as Higgins.That contract was issued in February of 1941. Within weeks, a second contract was issued for 27 Crash Boats, like the one above. These were essentially U-22s equipped for search and rescue. I have not done any research on this, but obviously a large search light was part of the equipment. I know these boats were built to carry stretchers, so I would assume there was some method of tying things down.

The particular press release (with the photo above) was written March 5th of 1941. By this time, Chris-Craft had already built 11 of the 27 boats. That means they had completed almost 50% of the 27 boats within two weeks of being awarded the contract...and that was as they were ramping up....AND...building civilian boats at the same time.

Of course March 1941 was many months ahead of Pearl Harbor, (marking the U.S. entry into the world conflict). As been written many times, military top brass and Chris-Craft (by way of the contracts) knew that our in entry into war was likely. Many other contracts were well underway in the first part of 1941.

The above pictured boat, (or ones like it) were ordered, built, delivered, and possibly commissioned, about a full year before my barrelback was built in May of 1942. my barrelback was 14 hulls prior to the end of the road for pre war 17-foot Deluxes.

I cannot remember the exact stats (I am sure we have it in a file), but Chris-Craft made a staggering amount of boats during the war. One stat that I remember, is that the company made over 10,000 landing craft by 1945.
Bill Basler

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:49 pm

One interesting follow up to the above post. The Landing Craft contract is an interesting tit-for tat between Chris-Craft enthusiasts and Higgins enthusiasts. I have heard both sides from people who know more about the topic than me. I'll relay what I have heard.

Apparently, Higgins had been designing and building shallow draft plywood constructed boats for many years. Higgins was competing with Chris-Craft for the contract. Based on what I have heard, the contract was awarded to Higgins primarily because their craft would operate in shallower water, ie: more effective at beachings. According to sources, Chris-Craft's design had more V to the hull bottom, making it a better rougher/deeper water contender, but the design was trumped in the shallows by Higgins flatter bottom design.

As well, Higgins had been using plywood in boat construction for a number of year and that was perhaps icing on the cake as it would afford quick construction.

According to a Chris-Craft source (it might have been Chris Smith, I can't recall), Chris-Craft was brought into the fray to build many of the Landing Crafts of Higgins design, as a Higgins "licensee." We should verfiy this with Chris Smith.

However, according to the (now forgotten) source, the Higgins craft were known as lousy rough water boats, hard to keep on track in heavy sea, due to their flatter bottom design. I was told that Chris-Craft actually got the chance to reengineer the bottom design on later landing craft, creating a good compromise bottom, one which could be taken into the shallows, as well as perform better in rough water.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCVP for more info on Higgins.
Bill Basler

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:31 am

Chris Smith includes a good story in his new book, "An Odyssey, A Collection of Short Stories". One of his stories includes changing the Higgins design to the Chris-Craft method of mass producing the boats and saving the government 6 million dollars in the first year alone. He went on to say that the design change kept the flat bottom but made use of exterior props in lieu of the tunnel design that Higgins used, making the boats ride higher in the water than the original design.

I would have to guess this must have increased their speed and control capability in deeper water but still had the original flat bottom that Higgins used.

Al

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drrot
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Post by drrot » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:43 am

There is one on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho. Probable find it in the ACBS directory. Or ask Jim Thorpe. He knows the owner.
Jim Staib
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1947 Penn Yan 12' Cartopper WXH474611
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1968 Century 17' Resorter FG-68-174

Wilson Wright
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Landing Craft

Post by Wilson Wright » Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:45 pm

In addition to the story in Chris new book, I think we did a Brass Bell story on the landing craft.

There was a 22 ft crash boat for sale in Maryland some 10/15 years ago. I was going to get it and mate it with a WWII Jeep but the guy sold it before I could get there...Always wondered who got it and what they did with it.
Wilson Wright
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drrot
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Post by drrot » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:09 pm

Reg,
Something else to check in to if you find one and are considering buying it. US military surplus vehicles can only be sold to US citizens and can not be exported. Do not know if that applies to boats too.
Jim Staib
www.finewoodboats.com


1947 Penn Yan 12' Cartopper WXH474611
1950 Chris-Craft 22' Sportsman U-22-1532
1957 Chris-Craft 26' Sea Skiff SK-26-515
1968 Century 17' Resorter FG-68-174

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Matt Smith
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Post by Matt Smith » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:37 pm

There is a 41 on the Wooden runabout web site that the guys did. It has the windshield on it.. http://woodenrunabout.com/projects/v/Pr ... raft+U-22/ Its been highly customized. But you get an idea of how cool the windshield looks. But you aint gonna hang your arm out for sure... But it does give you a very cool place to put all those rising sun stickers for all the planes you shot down....
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1958 Chris-Craft 17' Cavalier
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Reginald Down
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Post by Reginald Down » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:07 pm

Thanks to everyone for the information and comments. These Chris-Craft utilities are very enjoyable to research and seem to have endless historical significance in the hobby. I would love to own one some day.
Reg Down

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