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DID YOU KNOW, May 2023


May 1st - Largest Gun on American Aircraft


Dahlgren engineers first installed the largest gun on an American aircraft, a 105 Howitzer aboard an AC-130 Spectre Gunship.


On February 17, 1972, the first 105 mm cannon arrived for service with Spectre and was installed on Gunship 570. It was used from mid-February until the aircraft received battle damage to its right flap. The cannon was switched to Gunship 571 and used until March 30, when the aircraft was shot down.


Caption: DAHLGREN, VA – 2015 – Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren engineers (left to right) Thomas Houck, Matthew Buckler, and Gregory Fish inspect the new 105mm Gun Aircraft Unit after testing. The weapon is specifically designed for the most lethal gunship, the AC-130J.



May 8th - Deak Parsons and the VT Fuze


On this date (May 8th) in 1941, Captain William “Deak” Parsons and T section successfully fired seven radio-fuzed 5” projectiles, leading to the first contract for pilot production of what became known as the VT fuze. The atom bomb, radar, and the variable time (vt) fuze are considered the three major ordnance inventions in WWII.








May 15th - Dahlgren Museum...and Jewelry (?)


Did you know that the Dahlgren Heritage Museum is not the only entity connected to the name Dahlgren and the date 1918?


Different people’s internet searches will return different results, but on a recent search of “Dahlgren 1918,” the first item returned was not related to our local naval base, although almost all of the other sites were, but to a jewelry store in Malmo, Sweden. Interestingly, while the company and website name are “Dahlgren est. 1918,” the translated version of their website states: “The name Dahlgren comes from goldsmith Gustaf Dahlgren, who in 1845 founded G. Dahlgren & Co. in Malmo.” It seems Dahlgren was destined to become, as Senator John Warner proclaimed when he visited, “a crown jewel.”


Caption: Left: Test firing on a seven-inch, 45-caliber, tractor-mounted gun, marking the establishment of Dahlgren as a Naval Proving Ground on October 16, 1918. (U.S. Navy photo) Right: Stock photo of diamond stud earrings.



May 22nd - Dahlgren Family History


Last week we talked about a jewelry store in Malmo, Sweden, that, like our base, is connected to the Dahlgren name and the date 1918. Did you know that the family of Rear Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren, for whom our local base is named, came from Sweden?

RADM Dahlgren’s grandfather, Johan Adolph Dahlgren, was born on August 1, 1744, in Norrkoping, Sweden. At university he was a protégé of the famous naturalist Carolus Linnaeus, and he graduated as a medical doctor in 1775. In 1789 he was appointed Chief Physician and Assessor of the Province of Finland.


RADM Dahlgren’s father, Bernhard Ulrick Gustavus Dahlgren, was born in Klara Assembly, Sweden, on May 12, 1784. In 1804, as a university student, this Swedish aristocrat committed something akin to treason by distributing leaflets that promoted republican ideals. Bernhard fled Sweden, having his property confiscated by the king, and eventually settled down in Philadelphia, which was a hub of Swedish culture, in 1807. Three years after RADM Dahlgren was born, Bernhard became a U. S. citizen. He did eventually receive clemency from the Swedish crown, regained his possessions, and was appointed as Swedish and Norwegian Consul at Philadelphia, a position he held until his death on July 19, 1824. Bernhard was a successful merchant highly respected by his community who actively participated in Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.



May 29th - Nice/Middleton Bridge History


Spanning the river near our building, the current Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge, which opened last October, is about to experience its first busy season. The original bridge, first known as the Potomac River Bridge, was the first to provide a highway link between Maryland and Virginia that bypassed Washington, D.C.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the September 1938 groundbreaking ceremony. Once it opened in December 1940, it hosted a greater volume of traffic than was projected. Locals will tell you that the busiest season is Memorial Day to Labor Day.


With today being Memorial Day, wherever you may go in your travels, please take some time to remember the men and women who gave their all in supporting our country. Roosevelt once said, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” We should strive to keep their sacrifice from being forgotten.

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