What is an LCI?
Landing Craft Infantry were and are ships designed to deliver fighting troops to a beach quickly. WWII LCIs had a crew of 24-60 sailors and carried 200 soldiers, who descended from ramps on each side of the craft. They weren't designed cross-ocean travel -- yet given the urgency of wartime, they did just that, sailing from the United States to the European and Pacific Theatres. Their flat-bottom hulls were designed for beaching, which meant you felt every wave and more than one sailor and soldier ended up donating his lunch to the sea on a continuous basis.
Landing craft were 158 feet long and 23 feet 3 inches wide at the middle. The hull or skin was made of 1/4 inch steel plate. The propulsion of the ship was two sets of quad General Motors 6 cylinder diesel engines generating 1600 HP ; 8 engines total.
Several kinds of LCI's were produced during WWII:
Regular LCI's designed for troop delivery were first built and then other needs became apparent.
The LCI (Rocket Ship) was designed to provide supporting naval gunfire and could fire as many as 504, 4.5" rockets on one rocket run into the beach.
LCI (Gun) Ships were armed with 40mm and 20mm guns, 50 cal. machine guns and rocket launchers. They were used for in-close troop support.
LCI (Mortar) Ships carried 3- and 6-inch morter launchers. These were designed to lob mortars behind enemy hills or bunkers.
LCI (Demolition) Ships carried Frog Men to clear the invasion beaches of underwater obstructions.
Depth Charge Carrying LCI's. Depth charges were placed aboard some LCI's on convoys to England. They patrolled the outer edges of the convoy searching for German submarines.
LCI (Flotilla Flag) Ships carried the command staff of an LCI flotilla.
LCI (Mine Hunter) Ship. After WWII, 36 LCI's were converted to mine hunter ships and used to detect underwater mines.
Smoke Laying LCI's.At Leyte we learned the real value of smoke laying LCI's. Japanese kamikaze planes would head for the biggest ships. Since anti-aircraft fire wasn't always effective, Smoke Laying LCI's were deployed to cast a protective layer of smoke around and over the ships in order to hide them from suicide pilots.
LCS (Landing Craft Support) were modified gunships built later in the war and used for close inshore troop support and fighting. They carried a 3-inch, 50 Cal. gun, twin 40mm guns and 20mm guns.