This is the definitive work on Allied Coastal Forces vessels, written and illustrated by former RN officer, the late John Lambert, and American author and technical illustrator Al Ross. Originally, this work was published in two volumes by Conway Maritime and this new book is a new edition of Volume I with additional material, published beautifully by Seaforth publishing. – Most Highly Recommended
NAME: Allied Coastal Forces of World War II, Volume I, Fairmile Designs & US Submarine Chasers FILE: R2897 AUTHOR: John Lambert, Al Ross PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth Publishing BINDING: hard back PAGES: 255 PRICE: £40.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, World War Two, Second World War, Torpedo Boats, Motor Gun Boats, MTB, MGB, Fast Attack Craft, 'Mosquito' Craft, Coastal Forces, convoy escort, submarine chasers, radar pickets, landing ships
IMAGE: B2897.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y5jmhrno LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This is the definitive work on Allied Coastal Forces vessels, written and illustrated by former RN officer, the late John Lambert, and American author and technical illustrator Al Ross. Originally, this work was published in two volumes by Conway Maritime and this new book is a new edition of Volume I with additional material, published beautifully by Seaforth publishing. – Most Highly Recommended The authors worked well together and it is sad that John Lambert is no longer with us. It is most welcome that Seaforth Publishing has released this new and enhanced edition with some excellent colour drawing of camouflage patterns applied to the vessels. The story of the Vosper fast attack craft and the US PT Boats is perhaps the best known of the huge Allied design, construction and deployment of Coastal Forces during WWII. However, in many ways, the most extraordinary story is the one told in this new book about the Fairmile designs and the US submarine chasers. Fairmile designed the original 'flat-pack' warships and the manufacturers involved in the program included one furniture workshop that was acquired after WWII by a British furniture manufacturer that became a famous 'flat-pack' furniture producer. Hopefully the assembly instructions for the warship were of a higher quality. Where Vospers and British Powerboats, and the US Higgins and Elco equivalents were established defence contractors with experience in the design and production of small warships, Fairmile was a design bureau. As the war clouds started to gather in the 1930s, the Admiralty became increasingly aware of the huge number of new warships that would be required for the Royal Navy to meet its objectives in war. There simply was not the shipyard capacity available or the guaranteed supplies of steel and other strategic materials. This led to the brief given to Fairmile to design warships that could operate in coastal waters, but also be capable of operation beyond coastal waters. These warships were to be used for convoy escort, anti- submarine use and employ the minimum of strategic materials. The Fairmile bureau rose to the challenge magnificently and ended up producing a family of designs to meet a wider operational brief and go on to be used in even more roles. The story told here in detail is of the designs, the weapons and deployment of these craft. The detail of the component manufacturers is told only in passing but in some respects it was at least as extraordinary and was part of a major logistics operation in pulling together all the components, shipping them to the shipyards and building the vessels in amazingly short time under air attack. As the ships were made largely of wood, furniture workshops and factories were put to work producing plywood bulkheads and components from natural timber. Small engineering works and even village blacksmiths built metal components. Engines were shipped to the UK from the US under Lend Lease. The work was done largely by small shipyards and yacht builders, some of them twenty miles up rivers from the sea, and they built hundreds of Fairmile boats during WWII in Britain, but also in Canada, Egypt, India and Australia. The Fairmile A was a starting point for the family. It was a bilge keel form that was originally intended to have three petrol or diesel engines and be able to carry out all of the convoy escort tasks that a destroyer would carry out. It had a novel tracking system to allow various weapons fits to be applied and modified very quickly to meet operational needs. That meant that it could carry guns and cannon to deal with aerial and surface targets, sweep for mines and keep up with the faster coastal convoys. It had much better sea keeping qualities than the smaller hard chine MTB/MBG hulls but still depended on the same materials, double diagonal mahogany planks on a wooded skeleton of natural wood and plywood. An initial success, the Fairmile A was to be joined by the Fairmile C which was an improved version of the A design. These two classes operated in British coastal waters through WWII with distinction. Where the A had been fitted with three 600hp American Scott Hall petrol engines, with the exhausts enclosed by a funnel, the C had 909hp supercharged Scott Hall petrol engines and did not run its exhausts through a funnel as the A had proved this had no merit and was deleted on As that joined the Coastal Forces with funnels. The Fairmile B was an extraordinary success and more than 700 were built in the UK and around the world. This design was a bilge keel hull with two Scott Hall engines. Originally it was intended to be equipped with three engines but by reducing to two meant the operational performance targets could be met and more Bs could be built. This model had a real anti-submarine capability with sonar and depth charges in addition to a heavy gun armament. It served in British waters and across the world with good seagoing capability and range. Some Bs were used in the Western Approaches to sail out to relieve destroyers and corvettes escorting British-bound convoys after long battles with U-Boats had depleted their fuel and ammunition. Although Bs were true multi-role warships, they were the direct equivalent to the US Submarine Chasers. Designed from lines for a steel destroyer, scaled down and applied to a wooden hull, the B had a silhouette like a much larger warship with its funnel and gun mounts. To a submarine taking a quick peek with a periscope, a B could be mistaken for larger steel-built escort at greater range. Fairmile also designed a Harbour Defence Motor Launch that proved very successful, An H that was built to land infantry on open beaches, and the legendary D heavy gun/torpedo boat. The Royal Navy experience of operating 70 ft MTB/MGBs had shown that they were often outmatched by the much larger and more heavily armed German S-Boats. At 112ft, the Fairmile D was a very effective answer. The D was powered by Packard Merlins and the fastest Fairmile design. It served around the world and carried an incredibly heavy armament in a fast hard chine planing hull. It was specifically planned to take on the German S Boats that were outside the class of the numerous 70ft MTB and MGB Vospers designs, being much larger than the British 70ft MTBs and more heavily armed. Once Ds arrived with flotillas, their capabilities were appreciated and they were consequently used in British coastal waters but also across the theatres of war. Often making long voyages to their new bases. The US Submarine Chasers were a little different from the Fairmile B in that their roots were in boats built for WWI in recognition that US entry into the war would require very rapid expansion of the US Fleets and a 110ft wooden submarine chaser could fill roles normally expected to be filled by larger steel warships. Those built for WWII were similar in size to the Fairmile B, fitted with three engines but having a slightly lower top speed. As with the B, they were equipped with a heavy armament for their size, with a 3in gun on the foredeck, where the Fairmile B started with similar WWI 2 pounders and then moved to power operated 4.5in guns or power operated Bofors 40mm cannon. Both types carried 20mm cannon and machine guns, making them formidable against air and surface targets, but their use of radar and sonar, together with depth charges and anti-submarine mortars made them capable submarine hunters, effective far beyond their size, and the armament was rounded off with the ability to lay mines. This book is filled with superb technical drawings and crammed with detail. In addition to reviewing each Fairmile & US SC design in great detail, there are very detailed sections on engines, weapons and other equipment, together with lists of vessels built, and by which boat yard. This book really deserves the title of “definitive” and includes details of some of the survivors. Considering that all these vessels were considered war emergency expendable warships and being used intensively under the most testing conditions, it is surprising that so many survived the war. Most survivors had their engines removed. For British boats, the engines had to be returned to the US under the Lend Lease agreements, and most where then converted to houseboats, being allowed to decay as bomb damaged homes were replaced. Some were converted to yachts or as ferries and the handful of survivors have mostly come from these. One challenge facing restorers is that the size and tonnage of a Fairmile boat places it in a more demanding maritime Compliance class and it requires ticketing similar to smaller merchant marine craft, rather than private yachts. It is probably bureaucracy that will make these craft extinct.