“Hells Bells” is more commonly known as a hit number on AC/DC’s 1980 album Back in Black or as a phrase expressing anger or surprise. However, for submarine operators in WWII, it had a very different meaning.
For much of the war, the Pacific Ocean was completely dominated by the Japanese Navy. The Sea of Japan, also known as the Emperor’s Bath Tub, quickly became a minefield virtually unbreachable by enemy crafts. Thereby granting shipments of weapons and supplies free passage to Japan. After nearly two years absence of American vessels in the Sea of Japan, in 1945, with the installation of FM sonar, a wolfpack of nine American submarines nicknamed the Hell Cats was finally allowed to enter the Tsushima strait leading to the deadly waters. When presented with a school of fish, the new technology produced a dull and muddy sound, but in the presence of a mine, it produced a sharp clear bell tone. This allowed the Hell Cats to navigate the four lines of mines infesting the waters and quickly became known as the sound of “Hell’s Bells”. The implementation of FM sonar and the aggression of American submarines allowed for a turn of the tides in the Pacific. By the end of the war, the US Navy Submarine Service had downed 55% of all Axix power warships lost. By the end of the war, subs in the Sea of Japan were struggling to find targets because the once-dominating Japanese Navy was so depleted.
Interested in World War II history?
Learn all about the inspiration behind our Allied Brewing Company family of beers. Each label represents a historic event or icon from this period that we're proud to share with you.
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