One of the great delights for a military history reviewer is the preservation of outstanding definitive books and images. The unique collection of John Lambert books and drawings has been preserved by Seaforth, who are now republishing with new introductions and editing, in this case by leading naval historian Norman Friedman – Most Highly Recommended
NAME: British Naval Weapons of World War Two, The John Lambert Collection, Volume III: Coastal Forces Weapons FILE: R3242 AUTHOR: the late John Lambert, editing by Norman Friedman PUBLISHER: Seaforth Publishing, Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £30.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, North Atlantic, trade routes, convoys, escorts, naval architecture, original builder's plans, naval warfare, ant-submarine warfare, Coastal Forces Weapons, all Theatres of WWII ISBN: 978-1-5267-7706-9 PAGES: 208 IMAGE: B3242.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/yyf9tnbg LINKS: DESCRIPTION: One of the great delights for a military history reviewer is the preservation of outstanding definitive books and images. The unique collection of John Lambert books and drawings has been preserved by Seaforth, who are now republishing with new introductions and editing, in this case by leading naval historian Norman Friedman – Most Highly Recommended
The late John Lambert was a renowned naval draughtsman with a particular interest in Coastal Forces Warships. He was still adding fine new drawings to his collection right up to his death in 2016 and his legacy is quite unique. He had produced more than 850 sheets of drawings and many of these have not been published before. Seaforth have been publishing books of themes of drawings and this is unique and stunning. Lambert’s attention to detail is flawless.
This new book is particularly important because it shows the great diversity of weapons employed by British Coastal Forces warships. These were built in huge numbers, mostly being powered by marinized aircraft engines. They also ranged from 48ft to over 115ft, mostly with planning hulls but also some classes with bilge keels. That provided opportunity to employ a wide range of weapons.
Vospers built 68ft MTB102 as a private venture and demonstrated it to the Admiralty before WWII, fitted with Italian aircraft engines. It was rapidly acquired for the Royal Navy and at the time was the fastest warship in RN service. Built of double diagonal mahogany planking on plywood frames in a hard chine planing hull, the vessel initially carried a 20mm cannon above the engine room and a single semi-internal torpedo tube firing through a bow cap, with a spare torpedo reload chocked aft of the bridge and loaded into the tube through the wheel house. She was used to explore tactics for fast attack craft, trial weapons fits and produce operational manuals for fast craft crews. By the outbreak of war she was armed with two torpedo tubes, no reloads, mounted on the sides of the deck, a 20mm cannon on a mount ahead of the bridge and with Lewis guns in the bridge wings. Her Italian engines meant that spares could not be sought and, after serving as the last Flag Ship during the Dunkirk evacuation, she was transferred to the Army as ‘Vimmy’, at which point she was apparently fitted with two Bren Guns on the aft deck and had the torpedo tubes deleted.
MTB102 became the starting point for hundreds of craft that followed down the slipways, having similar form but lengths of 70ft to 90ft. Some craft, MGBs, were completed as gunboats, having no torpedo tubes, but often carrying two or four depth bombs on the sides of the aft deck. Others, MTBs, were completed with two or four side mounted torpedo tubes, some rifle calibre machine guns and a single 20mm cannon.
However, other Coastal Forces boats, designed by the Fairmile Bureau, were manufactured as ‘flat packs’ in small workshops around Britain, with the packs collected together and allocated to small shipyards and yacht builders, including some well inland, for assembly and launching. These designs of 112ft to 120ft were build in India, Egypt and Canada, in addition to those built in Britain, and the Fairmile A and Fairmile B were bilge keel designs. The Bs were powerfully armed and powered by US Gardner petrol engines, looking from a distance like destroyers and being used to take over from exhausted convoy escorts in the Western approaches for the final miles to port in Britain. The Fairmile D was the inspiration for many FPBs built after WWII. A hard chine hull and powerful engines enabled them to carry guns to 4.5in in powered mountings, torpedoes, machine guns, cannon and depth bombs with radar and sonar.
As the war progressed, the Coastal Forces warships saw few changes in basic layout, the main difference being that engines were new Packard Merlins rather than Rolls Royce Merlins pensioned off from RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires once they reached the life limits for aviation use.
The result of this history is a very wide range of weapons which are all covered comprehensively in this outstanding book.