Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    USS Franklin (CV-13) - "Big Ben".
    USS Franklin (CV-13), commissioned in January 1944 and nicknamed "Big Ben," was one of the twenty-four Essex-class "fast" aircraft carriers built during World War II and the fifth ship to be named for the Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. She won distinction as the most heavily damaged US aircraft carrier to survive WWII.

    The ensign of the "Big Ben" is an Annin brand bunting flag with 48 double appliqué stars and sewn stripes finished with a white canvas heading with two grommets. The flag is marked on the obverse hoist with an Annin maker's mark and the size designation "9 X 15." On the reverse hoist, the flag is marked: "CV-CVA Franklin".

    Commissioned in 1944, the Franklin began her aerial combat operations that June in the Binon and Marianas Islands with strikes against shore installations and enemy shipping. Later her planes would strike Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, Haha Jima and Guam before participating in the Peleliu and Leyte Campaigns. She was involved in the reduction of Japanese bases on Formosa in order to achieve air-superiority for the liberation of Luzon and, during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, her planes attacked the Japanese fleet and assisted in the sinking of the Musashi and Wakaba and damaging the Fuso and Yamashiro. After a refit and change of command at Puget Sound, she returned to the fray in February of 1945 as a part of the Iwo Jima Campaign, during which she ventured to within fifty miles of the Japanese Home islands, closer than any other vessel thus far.
    On 19 March 1945 she was attacked by a Japanese bomber who struck Franklin with two 500-pound bombs, both of which penetrated to the interior of the ship before detonating. The damage was severe. Besides igniting the over forty fueled & armed aircraft, the bombs destroyed the Combat Information Center, power and communications. The Franklin was now blind, deaf and mute while being ablaze and adrift. The loss of crew was profound. Out of a compliment of 2,600 officers and men, it is estimated that over 800 were killed outright and nearly 500 were wounded while others had been blown or driven overboard by the flames. On the bridge, Captain Gehres ordered Franklin's magazines flooded, but this was impossible as her water mains and power were inoperable. It was recommended that she be scuttled, but Gehres refused as there were too many men alive below decks. The Franklin's surviving crew preformed heroically to restore power in order to both fight fires, man pumps to correct a severe list and gain headway. After six hours the fires were brought under control and the Franklin was saved. Capt. Gehres, along with ten of his crew, were awarded the Navy Cross for heroism in coping with Franklin's battle damage and keeping the ship afloat. The ship's chaplain, Fr. Joseph O'Callahan, a Jesuit Priest, was awarded the Medal of Honor. Franklin had suffered the most severe damage and highest casualties experienced by any U.S. fleet carrier that survived World War II. Her service ended, Franklin was eventually repaired and returned to the fleet after the war. The ensign of the Franklin would be a welcome addition for a collector of WWII Naval Aviation, the Pacific War or aircraft carriers.

    The USS Franklin's WWII awards include: American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four campaign stars; World War II Victory Medal: Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and the Philippine Liberation Medal.

    The ensign of the Franklin is in Good to Fair condition - it is used, worn and soiled with wear visible on the fly edge with a loss in the lower fly corner.

    This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.

    For those who did not receive a hard copy of the auction catalog, we present here the introductory comments and history of Dr. Rungee and his remarkable collection. If you scroll further, you will also find various contemporary newspaper articles, as well as a selection of the many letters of donation and transmittal which accompanied the collection and a categorization of the collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2019
    14th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 404

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 June 9 - 10 Rare Books Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The resulting auction of my property overwhelmed me. I want to thank Tom Slater and the Heritage team for a very satisfactory experience and profitable result with my historical consignment.
    Henry L.,
    Lexington, KY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search