Schnellboote, a Complete History

As it says on the jacket, this is a complete history of German fast boats during WWII. The S-Boote, called E-Boats by the British, were formidable small warships capable of high speeds and employed in nearly all the Kriegsmarine’s theatres of war . – Much Recommended.

NAME: Schnellboote, a Complete History
FILE: R2512
AUTHOR: Lawrence Paterson
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth
BINDING: hard back
PAGES:  338
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War 2, World War II, Second World War, naval 
warfare, naval technology, coastal forces, torpedo boats, gun boats, 
flak boats, minesweepers, fast patrol boats, FPBs

ISBN: 978-1-84832-083-3

IMAGE: B2512jpg
DESCRIPTION: As it says on the jacket, this is a complete history of 
German fast boats during WWII. The S-Boote, called E-Boats by the 
British, were formidable small warships capable of high speeds and 
employed in nearly all the Kriegsmarine's theatres of war .  -  
Much Recommended.

The author had written a detailed account of the fast patrol boats 
built and used by the Kriegsmarine during WWII. The clear text is 
supported by an excellent selection of photographs through the body 
of the book and by some very informative appendices. This is a book 
for every naval history enthusiast, an essential addition to all 
personal libraries.

As for the British, small fast patrol boats were ideal for fighting 
in coastal waters. Relatively cheap and quick to build, they carried 
a very heavy armament for their size and could be constructed in boat 
yards that were too small for larger warships. The general tactics 
for both sides were similar but there were important differences in 
design, construction and equipment.

In the main, the Royal Navy and the USN built hard chine motorboats, 
powered by aircraft engines, fuelled with petrol and constructed 
largely of wood with a hard chine planing hull. The notable 
exceptions were the Fairmile A and Fairmile B motor launches that 
had a bilge keel hull form and marine engines, although still petrol 
fuelled. The Fairmiles were intended as minesweepers and convoy 
escorts but the Fairmile B was a true multi-role vessel that had a 
special fast change mounting system for weapons. This enabled 'B's to 
be used as gunboats, torpedo boats, coastal convoy escorts, and even 
escorts relieving destroyers and corvettes that were escorting 
inbound Atlantic convoys but running short of fuel and ammunition 
after battling U-Boats and Kondor patrol aircraft for many days. 
The 'B' was also often used to support commando assaults where they 
carried commandos to their targets and brought them home again or 
used to extract paratroopers who had dropped behind coastal targets 
to attack the targets from an unexpected direction.

With those exceptions, British MTBs and MGBs had planning hulls to 
achieve some 40 knots flat out. Initially, they were fitted with 
Merlin engines that had completed their design life in Spitfires 
and Hurricanes and were sent to Rolls Royce for marinization before 
issue to yards building coastal forces vessels. The British also 
equipped most of their FPBs with a pair of Ford V8 engines that 
could be clutched onto the outboard prop shafts to provide economic 
power to manoeuvrer in port and to make a stealthy approach to 
targets in fog and at night. Wood was used extensively because it 
avoided strategic materials that were required for other 
shipbuilding contracts and because they allowed yacht builders to 
undertake war construction, using techniques they were already 
familiar with from building and repairing yachts.

The British also used their own mix of weapons and mountings. Twin 
machine guns were often mounted in barbettes or turrets. On deck, 
ahead or aft of the bridge, 20mm canon were mounted on simple open 
mounts and sometimes in twin canon mounts aft of the bridge. Later 
in the war some MGBs carried one 4.5in gun in a powered mount forward 
and a few also carried a second powered mount aft of the bridge with 
a single 4.5in gun. With the exception of the experimental MTB102, 
built originally by Vospers as a private venture, all MTBs carried 
two or four torpedoes in tubes mounted on the sides of the deck 
firing forward. MTB102 was later modified to mount two tubes in the 
open on the sides of the deck to replace the single internal tube 
that was mounted on the centreline to fire through a bow cap and 
with a second torpedo on deck ready to be winched into the single 
tube once the first torpedo had been fired. Many coastal craft 
carried two or four depth charges to be dropped over the side from 
the aft decks. Some craft were used for mine laying but normally 
larger vessels would be employed in this role.

The German approach was different. They did build S-Boats with hard 
chine planing hulls but the typical S-Boat had a bilge keel. This 
made them better sea boats in rough conditions than the British boats 
that tended to pound badly in rough weather. The Germans also 
favoured the use of metal for the hull framing and some boats were 
metal skinned rather than clad in double diagonal mahogany planks as 
favoured by the British. The Germans used diesel engines and this 
made their boats less flammable. This took advantage of the great 
experience of building high speed diesels for boats and aircraft.

A major difference was in torpedo mounting. The Germans favoured 
inbuilt tubes with caps and mounted two forward firing tubes to their 
boats. This again made operation in high sea states safer and more 
practical. Gun armament was heavier initially although the British 
continued to up-gun their fast boats until some were carrying 4.5in 
guns, heavier than those fitted to some steel corvettes and frigates. 
The Germans favoured mounting a heavier canon, typically 3.7mm, in a 
cockpit ahead of the bridge. Once again, this helped in operations 
where rough weather was likely.

S-Boats were more likely to be used for missions, such as mining and 
minesweeping, than British fast boats.

The author has provided a detailed view of S-Boats and their