How do you hide a battleship from the enemy?

One of the wonderful things about the people of Espiritu Santo, is their generosity. Particularly when it comes to donations to the Museum project. Our Museum Chairman Bradley Wood has done it again and secured a pair of US Navy Smoke tanks for the Museum. The tanks were found near an old gate leading to what would have been Bomber Airfield No. 1 over at Palikulo Bay. The owner was only too happy to donate them to us.

Unloading the Smoke Tank.

Of course, one must ask what was a US Navy Mark V Smoke Tank used for? According to a document entitled ‘Navy Department Bureau of Ordnance Aircraft Chemical Smoke and Vesicant, July 1943,’ it was used to create massive smoke screens to hide US Naval activity from the Japanese. These particular tanks were filled with a chemical simply called ‘FS’. Further reading of the document tells us that, ‘FS is a sulphur trioxide-chloroaulfonic acid mixture which weighs approximately 15.8 pounds per gallon. FM smoke mixture (titanium tetrachloride) may also be used; its weight is approximately 14.5 pounds per gallon.’

Our two 50-gallon tanks are 67 inches long, 19 inches in diameter and the complete tank weighs 947 lbs. when filled with 727 lbs. of FS. It ejects smoke for a period of about 25 to 80 seconds. The US Navy also fitted huge smoke screen tanks to their patrol boats and given their great speed, could put up a huge smoke screen in a matter of minutes, depending upon weather conditions and the number of boats laying down the screen.

The museum would like to sincerely thank all those that have provided items for the museum so far. Your generosity is most appreciated, and we look forward to finding the perfect home for your pieces, when the museum opens its doors.

The ID plate on the smoke tank.

If you have something you’d like to donate, we’d love to hear from you. Museum Manager Alma Wensi can be contacted at