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Volume l0 Issue l14

Published by
Orbis Publishing Ltd
@Aerospace Publishing Ltd 1985
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Aerospace Publishing Ltd
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Editorial : Trisha Palmer
Chris Bishop
Chris Chant
lan Drury
I
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Artists: Jeremy Moore KCB OBE MC, Comman-
Tony Gibbons der of British Land Forces during the
John Ridyard/Dave Etchell
Falklands campaign.

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Escorthssels of
WbddWbrll
Of aII the combaturts in World War II, it was Britain and
Commandant Duboc, a Free Frcnch
sloop of the Elan 'class, is seen in
Plymouth Sound soon after the fall of
Iapan who were most dependent upon a seaborzte lifeline, France. As with severalFrench
and it was those nations to whom a tlveat to their merchant classet the'Elans' were pressed into
sewice by both sides, this particular
fleets was mortal. Obviottsly, means had to be established to example being used on escort duty
protect the trade routes. with the Royal Navy.

Before World War I, theory had it that trade could run safely in defended reinforced rapidly and decisiveiy and secondly, the taking of :he :_=:-,
maritime corridors; the fallacy of the argmment and its replacement by sive agarnst the U-boat by actually operating close astnde lts ma-::' ..:=
escorted convoys was bought at the cost of millions of tons of merchant to and from its bases,
shlpping, With the lesson learned, the Brltish had the basis of a useful The aerial threat was never met by defeatrng the aircraft, on11- c,"- _--:
escort fleet in I939. Initlaily, numbers were inadequate and the designs offensives which removed the alrcraft bases or by satisfactory o:.:-:-=:
limited in both capability and endurance, but the organization existed to to campaigns that obvlated the need to run the convoys the::s=_;=.
expand and improve rapidly, British convoys, particularly, had to face a Interestingly, the drscredited early British arguments agains: .::--.':-.':
variety ofthreats (hrgh speed E-boat attacks on coastal routes, organtzed and, therefore, the need for 'defensive' escort ships in an esse:-:-: -,
U-boat group assault in the Atlantic, and combined aircraft and surface 'offensive' fleet, were carrred on by the Americans and Japanese :-=, :_-
attack on the Arctic and Mediterranean movements) and difierent er of whom had had the beneflt of bitter firslhand experience a:-: _-.=:
escorts were required for each. neglected to learn from that of the British and paid dearlv ::: -:.= -
With too few anti-submarine (AS) ships and 1itt1e experience, the unpreparedness,
escort forces were at flrst on the defensive, More and larger shrps
enabled the close escorts to be strengthened and enhanced in capabrl- Britain's lifeline across theNorth Atlantic demanded good seakeepng anC
ity. Sclence improved both equipment and techniques, The formation of longrange Irom her escorts.Withthe'Hunt'class, however, designed as a
FastEscortVessel(FW), theRoyalNavygot avessel thatwas relitively hea;:-,-
roving support groups and the rapid development of aircraft support (and overambitiously) armed, without the range for Attantic oper ations. Ti e
allowed, f,rstly, for threatened convoys to have their escort groups 'Hunts'neverthelessproved useful in the struggle around the coasts ofEurc;e

,, ,,artrlCidl

t:l
si;_
<b-
j
r.-
'Wolf and'Mowe' classes
Inasmuch as the Germans recogmzed three old, but effective 105-mm (4.]3- smaller S-boats. Ne---::t:: -:=s= -;*.
that therr mercantile marine would in) guns which, toqether with the ambt- was vrewed asar.:i:. =.---::. ---. :- :
cease to function normally at the out- ttous torpedo flt, brought up the top- the way clear ror -:-:r-tr*:-. :. . . ' :
break of war, they had httle need of weight allowance to the extent that specralisr Geleuboote. All .: r. -'.---=
escorts in the same sense as the Brit- (unusually for the German nalry) mines war casualties no less rha,r er::.- : -:.] ::-m(305.1ft);
rsh. Nevertheless, the blockade ofthe could not be carried in addition While sunk in the English Channel. Of thesE i:::ght 2,8 m
German coast by submarine and mtne the 'Mowes' were still building, a the //trs and Seead,ler were sunk rn rhe
entailed the covering of warships second qtroup of six, the sliqrhtly- Dover Strait during the niqht of 1213
while the quite considerable volume of eniarqed 'Wolf class (Typ 24) ships May 1942, torpedoed by British MTBs
coastal traff,c, (e.9. the iron ore trade were ordered, Though of the same while covering the passage ofthe rard-
fiom Scandinavra) needcd protectron calibre, their main armament was of an er Sfier.
wlthout the tying down of major fleet improved pattern.
units, The ships were heavily involved in
The sx'Mowe' class (offrcially'Typ near-coastal waters durinq the war,
23') ships were the fust flotilla craft qradually acquiring more light auto-
built by the 'new' German navy; they matic weapons, some at the expense of
were strictly torpedo boats and, de- a set oftorpedo tubes. Following these
spite iheir modest size, carried two tri- two classes, subsequent development
ple mountrngs. Though this class of went for larger torpedo broaG and--*-
ship was not designed to undertake Initially classified as destroyers, the
fleet dutres, the lack ofany alternative 'Typ 23'torpedo boats saw
at that time probably accounted for considerable action in the North Sea
their comparatively higrh speed. Three andChannel. Armed primarily for
boilers were required in the slim hull, surface action, they were the first
necessitating two widely-spread fun- flotilla craft built for the Weimar navy.
nels, which made them look largrer
than they actually were. They carried

a ir a !. r.:a::.:a.l

GERI\,,]ANY

Geleitboote FI-FI0
Thrs gnoup ol l0 Geleitboote was com- only to be destroyed on the stocks tn
pleted by rhree yards in 1935 6 and, an air attack in 1943, Like the 'F' series,
ihough officrally termed 'escofis', they they would have had a modest speed
nad a peacetime role in traimng in the and no torpedo tubes, but had an en-
Baltrc and in general offshore duttes. l^anced su/ace armament, a capacity
Aqain their wartrme role was atmed at of 50 mines and, almost unbeltevably
seeinqt larger warships through lo' rhe dare. a helicopter.
:rishore barriers for which they were
;liren almost destroyerJtke propor-
- rns-nd ahLghspeed, wrth marnpard'
Specification
'Geleitboote' ciass (as built)
neters that had no equrvaient in the Displacement: 7l2 tons standard and
Rcyal Navy. Handsome little ships 833 tons full load
::ey looked rather more weatherly Dimensions: lenarth 76,0 m (249.3 ft);
ran larger German destroyers with beamB,B m(28.9 ft); drauqht2.S m
qlenty of freeboard forward and the (82ft)
bridge structure continued to Propulsion: two sets ofgeared steam
=gmlar
re ship's srdes by screens. Thouqh the turbines delivering 10440 kW
:eeboard aft was low the after 105- (14,000 shp) to two shafts
::n (4 13-in) gun was set on a deck- Speed:28 ks Above: In spite of their pleasant Below: F2 as she appeared in 1938.
:.:-.rse at the same height as that on the Endurance: 2780 km ( 1,725 miles) at lines, the 'F' class of fleet escort were T he adv anc e d propuls ion m ac hinery
:::castle. They carned a qood outfit 20 kts never really satisfactory. It may be gave much trouble, and in spite of
:, i:oats for their peacetime duties, Armament:hvo single 105-mm (4. 13- that the class was largely an their destroyer-like lines the
r:se beinq handled by booms rather in), two tr,vin 37-mm AA and four sinqle experiment in the building and Geleitboote were poor sea boats.
--:=:: davits. As they spent much ttme at 20-mmAAguns operation of the new high-pressure Most were lengthened forward and
-:-,'; speeds they were equipped wrth Complement: 121 steam turbine machinery. had araked stemin consequence.
, ...-:o-hng tanks. nol the passive
^:-:3 variety but fitted with transfer
ITALY
Escort Vessels of World War II
'Spica' class
Like its German counterpart the Italian 'Spicas' reverted to the earlier 450-mm The Airone and .Ariel were sunk Specification
navy iavoured the construction of (17,72-rn) weapons of far rnferior hittrng together rn October 1940 when, with 'Spica'class
diminutive destroyer-type escorts, power and range. For some odd others, they unwisely attacked a Brrtish Displacement: 795 toass:::-:-: -:
usually described as torpedo boats, reason these were initrally srngle cruiser force covenng an early Malta 1,020 tons full load
Though a long series of related classes sided mountings only, later exchanqed convoy. Of the iatter, HMS Ajax was Dimensions:lenqnB- : r: -. : :: .
had been completed by the mrd- 1920s, for the more logical twrn centreirne instrumental in therr sinkinq damagi- beamB. l m126.57ft, o-t,- j:. - '' -
the type had lapsed for a decade be- type, As with most Italian ships they inq also the destroyers lrttgliere and (8,37 ft)
fore being resumed with the 32-strong could lay mines but were also fitted lbr Adere, the former of which was even- Propulsion: lwo SerSor oi :': i : : :-
'Spica' class, laici down between 1934 high speed minesweepinq, with con- tually lost while in tow, A year later turbines deliverrng 1416t k-,',-
and 1937 The desiqn was influenced spicuous paravanes and associated another parr, the Aldebaran and (19,000 shp) to two shaits
by that of the 'Maestrale' class des- gear riqht aft. Under the wartime con- A[tair, were lost in a minefield lard by Speed:34 kts
troyers then completing but, though structlon programme a group of 421m- the Bntish submarine HMS Rorgual in Armament:rhrees.ngle'-:-.*. : .,
superflcially srmilar in overall profile proved 'Spicas' was also planned. Of the Gulf of Athens. in), four twin and two srngle2 - -:::, ,li
lheir srngle funnel iacked the massive these, known as the'Ariete'class, only andtwosingle 13.2 mn(i::-:, ,:-r.
trunking ol that of the larger shrps 16 were lard down, the majority of them guns, four single or two rri i: , -:::
did only one boiler room
servingT as it being completed by the Germans after (177-in)torpedotuoes =:.i :: - .'
The main armament consisted ol 100- the Italian caprtulatron. mmes
mm (3.94-in) girins of a new pattern with Of the 32 'Spicas', 23 became war Complement: LL6
a respectable 16-km (1O-mile) range casualties and a pair were sold
As these came only in srnqJle mount- perhaps oddly to the Swedish nuu!.,,. Resembling reduced versions o: :e
ings, three were carried rn the usual contemporary' Fr eccia' clas s tiee :
layou ol one lorward ano two superim destroyers, the'Spica' class was
posed aft. Despite the fact that pre- designed for the totpedo- bo a i ! a ; e.
vious torpedo boats had been fltted butin fact became anti-submar-:.=
wlth 533-mm (2l-in) torpedo tubes, the escorfs.

'Gabbiano' class
With British submannes playrng havoc
on the vital supply route to North Afri-
ca, the Italians embarked in 1942 on an
ambrtious programme of 'Gabbiano'
class coruette construction, Thrs type
of ship was new to the ltallan fleet and
in Britrsh terms, may be said to equate
to the 'Flowers'where the 'Spicas' equ-
ated to 'Hunts. There the resemblance
ended, however, for where the Brrtrsh
ships were stubby and robust, the Ita
ltan ships were sligrhtly Ionger but very
much narrower in the beam. Not hav-
rng to face North Atlantrc winters they
l-*'.*]*@
'.vere able to place speed higrher in
:heir prioritres, Even so thelr seakeep- !-i.,.r r
-ng qualities were adequate, with a
.:ng forecastle of hrgrh freeboard that
:arly 'Flower' skippers would have en-
necessarily high-speed propeilers a only 42 were completed after iaun- N ame- ship of a class trrlendeo :.
The great contrasr was rn plop- source ol cavitation. This was recog- ching in 1942-3) defeated the usual lta- include some 60 yesse.ls. Gall:-.:
--sion. The British ships with their nized as a necessary drawback rn the lian lettered pendant system the ships displayed the typicaJly fine ii:.es ::
'.',-:aler orrgins had a pronounced trim interests of volume productron and, takrng numbers. Few were completed Italian marine design. Unlike :e-:
:r- ihe stern to give adequate sub- very interestinqiy for the date each in trme to be used ln earnest by the British counterpar ts. th e s e cc r,'e : :. :
::,:rgence for the srngtle large- shaft could be turned by a low power Italians many were taken by the Ger did not have to be able ro r4ii:.-::-::
j--::leter screw, driven by a steam re- electric motor for stalkrng submarines mans, who drd War losses amounted winter in the North Atlantic.
r lr3cating engrne. On the other hand This permitted not only silent man- to 20
:.: : ahans with a qood industnal base oeuvringt but also an rmproved per-
--: snall diesel and petrol enqtlnes, formance from the ships' own indiffe- Specification
-.-.:-:ed the former of these. TVnn- rent sonar. The 6O-ship class (of whrch 'Gabbiano'class
- ,- propulsion was adopted to take Displacement: 670 tons standard and
The diesel-powered 740 tons full load
'Gabbiano'classwere
unusual in being fitted with an
electric motor for silent
stalking of submarines, for
which they were armed with
up to l0 depth-charge
throwers.
r-r.-::1 and extremely norsy
'r--: -;^ ii^-^l- ^ff^^+i",^l-, .,,.
Lq Kaibokan'Type A' and'Type B'
Kajbokan is a generic title for the main Seen on the I nland S ea in about J uly
body of Japanese escorts The term J940, Shimushu was the first of a class
means, roughly 'coast defence ship' of four general-purpose escorts built
rather than'escofi (no less inaccurate between 1938 and
1941, and served
than the terms 'ingate' and 'corr/ette as prctotypeallJapanesewartime
to
mtsapplied by the British), Though the escort programmes. Unlike many of
need for such ships had been recog her successors, Shimushu survjved
nrzed as far back as the early 1930s, the war, to be handed to fhe US.SR.
their essentrally 'deiensrve irrage re-
sulted in their bernq continually cut 'Modified Type A' ('Etorofu' class)
from the buildinq programme of an Im- ships, of which nrne were lost and l6 of
perral Japanese Nalry that was obses- rmproved and enlarged 'Type B'
sively 'offensrve, and bent on a short ('Mikura'class) ships. The latter were
mantime war that would render a con- of simpler construction, carried DP
voy system unnecessary. gmns in one srngle and one twin mount
The draft plans were set to the rng and rncreased depth-charge
llmitations of the London Treaty of capacrty from 36 to 120, Erght were
1930, by which they had to be of a completed and five were Iost They
slmple type that allowed unirmited were followed by 33'Modified Type B'
construction Displacement had to he ('Ukuru' class) ships whtch carried
between 600 and 2,000 tons and no simplificatron a stage further and
guns of greater calibre than 155 mm strengrthened the previously weak AA
(6 in) were to be carned, nor more armament. Nine were lost.
in) No
than four exceedrng 76 mm (3
torpedo tubes were allowed, or Specification
speeds greater than 20 kts It is of in- 'Kaibokan Type A'class (as
terest to note that the proposed shlps completed)
were to have been of 1,200 tons and Displacement: 860 tons standard and
break the rules by shipping four 1.27- 1,020 tons full load
mm (S-in) weapons. Dimensions: IengthT7.7 m (254.9 ft);
Not untll the 1937 programme were beam 10.0 m (32,8 ft)r draught 3.05 m
four 'Type A' prototypes flrmly (r0 0 ft)
ordered, and even these were to a Propulsion: lwo oeared dresels
reduced specification as part of their deliverrng 3356 kW (4 500 bhp) to two The improved Kaibokan'Type B'Shisaka/eaves Osaka in December 1944.
funding was diverted Their functions shafts Simpler, but faster and more heavily armed than her predecessort sfie was
were hsted as fishery protection, Speed: 19.5 kts handed toChina after thewar.Re-namedHui- An, she may stillbe inservice
minesweeprng and (lastly) convoy Endurance: 14825 km (9,210 miles) at today.
escort, Of robust but complex con- 16 kts
struction, their short forecastle and Armament: three sinqle 120-mm (4,7 2' G ener al- purpose escorft fhe
continuous superstructure set the style in) and two twrn 25-mm AA g1ns, and K aibo kan' Type A' cr aft were
:or the whole series. A sinqle, low- 1B depth charges originally fairly lightly armed. By
angle 120-mm (4.72-rn) gnrn was srted Complement: I47 1 944, the depth- charge fit had

on the forecastle, with two others su- increasedfrom as little as 12 to60,


perimposed aft, A11 had good arcs. and AA defences could include 15 or
Three of the four were war losses, more 25-mm AA weapons. They
Just months before hostilities de- were not particularly fast, but their
','eloped, a totally inadequate order diesels gave very long endurance.
;,as placed for 30 shrps. namely 14

JAPAN

Kaibokan'Type C' and 'Type D'


srte anqrle whose discontinuity fol-
Iowed the hne of the maindeck. Prop-
ulsion was a problem tn that the earlier
type of diesel could not be produced
in su-fflcrent quantrty and alternatrves
wllh less than half 1[c p6wer were in-
stalled, though still productnq an
acceptable speed of over 16 kts.
Orders reached 132, but only 53 were
completed in 1943-5 and 30 of these
were lost.
They retarned the novel arranQle-
ment whereby depth charges were Above : Kaibokan No. I 7, typical o{
brought up from below by a powered, the'Type C' escott, is seen outside
endless-chain lift and either rolled Yokohama in April I 944. S m aller an
=
slower than the 'Type B' (while
lne i943WarEmergency retaining excellent endurance), thss
plqratnme required the mu ch- s implifie d de sign w as
:c:lstructron of a large number of produced under the I 943 War
short time. The 'c' and 'D'
;-g:-ser'-s rn a Emergency programme. N o. I 7 w as
,{a.i.bokaa were reduced'Type B' sunkinJanuary 1945.
aesiEns. buiJt in as little as four
.: 3: Lls. Au.sterely fitted, made from
z:e:ebricated hulls, the only
:ference between'C' and'D'was in
::s -o:cpuJslon.

__+-*:
Defecrt of the U-boqt
The island nations of J apan and the United Kingdom had the German U-boat group tactics demanded a great volume of radio tra:f : :, .-
most to lose from the submarine threat. For alltheir between each other and to the centralized command ashore. Hioh-rre:_:- .
direction{inding (Huff-Duff) took advantage of these transmissroni, one :s:: i
aggressire sp irit, the Imperial Navy could not cope with the US getting a bearing and two getting an accurate 'fix'.
Navy andits submarineblockade, and itwas leftto theirold Early U-boat aces were successf.rl throrgn us ng their s-perio. cc:;t :-:
teachers in the Royal Navy to get to grips with the problem. small silhouette to attack a convoy on the surface ai night. Thrs also c-s:, _--
escorts' advantage of Asdic, their only answer at first being 'snowiia<e
An interesting paradox of the war years was that the ships and their machinery nants, but by 194.1 radarwas becoming more general and defeated ic s .:: :
became ever simpler, to suit series production, while their equipment became Escorts improved rapidly in numbers, experienceand quality, with te.-- :-::
ever more complex. Fundamentally, this equipment was required to detect the being developed for close co-operatron with the U-boat's other arci :-:-.
enemy, destroy him and protect the ship f rom him. For the better part, the term aircraft.
'enemy' was synonymous wrth 'enemy submarine' which, having started The submarine responded with radar detectors, {loat ng decoys ic :-::.:
ahead, lost the lead and never quite regained it. spurious radar echoes, submerged decoys emitting clouds of bubbles:: ::-
The Brtish, having developed 'Asdic' (later, sonar), greatly over-rated rts fuse Asdics and, most deadly, acoustic torpedoes. These homed c::: :-:
performance. This was proved to deterorate rapidly in real seawayand, as the cavitation noise of a ship's propellers, blowtng her stern off . lnitial co!i:i:---::-
equrpment covereci only a sector ahead of the ship and depth charges were sures included reducing speed to an impossibly-low 7 kts, a measure s-::-
dropped from the after end, contact was always lost at a crucial point in an seled by the crudely-scientific 'Foxer', a towed device of clanging r.et. ::-:
attack. A considerable 'dead time' then elapsed with the ship having to get to the The introduction of the'snort' improved a submarine's surv-rvabil rv c_::-=
drop point and the depth charges themselves hav ng to sink. Wlth experience, high-speed hull, had it come earlier, could have been a war winner, with t^: ',:.
U boat skippers could detect and exploit this weakness, particularly as structural fngate and the hel copter needing to be developed a full decade earlie.:-:- -
improvements allowed them to dive more deeply. lf two anti submarine ships fact, thev were.
were in company, one could 'illuminate'the target continuously and direct the
attack of the second.
Ahead-throwing weapons, such as Hedgehog and Mousetrap, enabled a ship I

to drop a pattern on a submerged target while it was still firmly in the beam.
Simpler than a depth charge, a Hedgehog bomb sank quickly but needed to hit
its target to detonate, though this drawback was reduced by the considerable
'spread' achieved with two dozen bombs. lmproved sonars then enabled a
target's depth to be measured accurately, makrng possible the Squrd, which
fired a small spread of three larqe bombs with hydrostatic fuses.

.:"7 _-*4;-
The Atlantic lifeline was vital to the survival of Britain, and in the early stages ol The battle of the Ailantic was not at all one-sided, as memories of flamng
th,e battle it looked as though thewarwas lost to the U-boat. The rc- ships falling out of convoy so eloquently demonstrate. There were also
:lltrcduction of convoys, together with ASW advances and the introduction of occasions when the hunter became the hunted, as this 'Hunt' class escorl
atr cover, eventually saw the battle tum decisively the other way. shows. Hitin thestern by aGerman torpedo, she limps backinto harbour

verted to coal firrng (which must have


caused acute fuel transfer problems)
The effort was, however, largely
academic as US submannes flnally cut
the convoy route to the Dutch East In-
dies With the Karbokan programme
now largely superfluous, burldrng
ceased to allow a concentrauon on
craft that were desrgmed to contrlbute
to the final strusgle for the home is
lands, 'Type D' orders amounted to
143, of which 63 were completed and
27 lost

Specification
'Kaibokan Type C'class (as
completed) Speed: 16 5 kts
Displacement: 745 tons standard and Endurance: 12045 km (7,485 miles) at
B l0 tons full load 14 k1s
Dimensions: Iengrth 67.5 m (221.46 ft); Armament: two single 120-mm (4 72-
beamB,4 m (27.56 ft) draught 2.89 m in) and two trrple 25-mm AA gnrns, one
(9 5 fr) BO-mm (3, lS-in) mortar, and 120 depth
Propulsion: two geared diesels gtiving charges
1417 kW(1 900 bhp)totwoshafts Complement: 125
Walker: U-boat hunter supreme
The U-boat threat to Britain's survival came closest of all theAxis efforts tobringing
Britain to her knees. In spite of the experiences of 1917, merchant los.sesrose
inexorably in the first years of the war, and it was only by unceasing effort and
scientific development that the menace of the wolfpack was defeated. Many
gave their lives to that struggle, and prominent among themwasF.J.Walker.

Some thrrve in the peacetime navy; others next few days, for the loss to the convoy oi two
need a war to develop their true potential, ships, the enemy lost flve submarines,
Captain Frederick Walker was one of the lat- Frrst srghting was by an aircrait, 32 km (20
ter, He first went to sea as a cadet in I9l3 and, miles) distant and illustrating the value of the
between the wars, specialized in anti- presence of a carrrer, Walker's impulsive na-
submarine warfare. This fie]d was then less ture was then evideni by his takrng hve ships of
than glamorous, a lactor which, coupled with the 'close' escort to deal with it, a prolonged
spells rn caprtal ships (which he hated, and said absence that was eventually justified only by
so), found him rn 1939 a commander with no the successful outcome,
prospects of further promotion, A second U-boat was sunk by two of the
For the first two years of World War II Wal- Gibraltar destroyers on the next day but, rn the
ker fretted ashore while enemy U-boats sank darkness before the followinq dawn, one of
well over 4 million GRT of merchant shrpping, these was in turn sunk by torpedo, Walker
ln a deteriorating situation he endeavoured to hrmself was qurckly on the scene in ihe Stork
persuade authorities that his best place was at and demonstrated his unique 'nose' for a U-boat
sea and flnally. to his own surprrse, was by running down its anticipated hne of retreat,
appointed in the autumn of 1941 to command detecting ii and blowing it to the surface with
the sloop HMS Slork as Senior Offrcer, 36th just two passes. Too close to depress his guns
Escort Group, sufficrently, Walker engaged in a sort of nautic-
Groups such as these exjsted to give close al dogfight, finally sinking the submarine by
cover to convoys, the shrps being kept together ramming, putting hrs thtn-skrnned sloop into
as a team as far as was possible, Newly-formed, dock for three months as a result, Atop the bridge of HMSStarling, CaptainWalker
the 36th was Liverpool-based, having seven supervises a U- boat hunt by the Znd Support
'Fiower' class corvettes led by two faster 'Buttercup' Group early in I 944. H is casu al ( and
sloops, Followrng a brief 'working-up' period, Thouqh radar was now more commonly characteristic) attire of old pullover and leather
jerkin of dubious origin is in conftast to that of his
they went off to war, their SO's operational available to the escorts, Walker liked to dis- officers.
instructions being typrcally pithy and to the courage night surface attack by U-boats
point, stressing the need for personal initiative through a sudden and massive local use of
on the part of indrvidual captains to attack with- 'Snowflake' illuminants, an operatron he called warfare at the highest level, He made four sa-
out delay and with whatever means were avail- 'Buttercup' It worked but had the disadvaniage lient observations of whrch two, curiously,
able, They ended: 'No officer will ever be of silhouetting the convoy nicely for any prow- could be questioned,
blamed by me for getting on with ihe job in ler on the opposite wing, As the carrier could Firstly, nobody doubted hrs contention that
hand.' not operate her arrcraft at night, her safest nrght the Audactty had proved the case for a carrier
The group's frrst ta-sk was to escort an OG station was in the centre of the convoy but, late presence, His recommendation for an inner
convoy to Grbraltar, a passage in which the on 2l December, she was out to one side, just and outer screen for a convoy was impossible
ordy enemy was the weather. The return run where Walker ordered a 'Buttercup' following
was wrth HG76 and was a very different affair. It the torpedoing of a merchantman, The Audac-
HMS Starling in I 9 4 4. A m odifie d' B lac k S w an' c las s
sarled on 14 December 1941 rnto an expected rly was then herself torpedoed and sunk, Wal- escort sloop (classed as a frigate post-war), the
U-boat concentration, and to cope with this the ker blamrng hlmself for the loss, Despite thrs, type carried I l0 depth charges (and could carry
convoy was accompanred for the first time by the overall result was seen as a major defensive 50 more at the expense of 40-mm Bofors
an escort carrier, the pioneer HMS Audacrfy, victory, with lessons to be learned, Walker was ammunition). ?hesixsisfersft ips of Walker's
and three locally-based destroyers. Over the rnvited to discuss his views on anti-submarine group thus possessed formidable ASW firepower.
Escort Vessels of World War II

wlth the escorts available (thouqh even these


could have been used more effectively rf larger
convoys had been accepted earlier) but was,
in effect, later adopted by the availabihty of
support groupS to reinforce escort groups that
were hard-pressed, He strongly delended
'Buttercup', though rt could backfire badly on
occasron, Lastly he supported escorts leavrng
their charges by day to carry out 'offensive
lunges' at the enemy, a risky business that
aroused controversy,
Despite criticism of the last polnt, Walker did
not hesitate (in June 1942) to take two of only
four escorts coverlng HG84 over 80 km (50
miles) to pursue a contact for seven hours, The
{b1lowing nlght, with the small screen not yet
fu1ly back on station, three U-boats sank flve
ships in a co-ordrnated attack, Though no sub-
marines had been destroyed, despite Walker's
unflagglng rndustry, the attack was considered the loud hailer in the other, Inevitably coming In spite of Walker3 scepficrsrn, the escort carrier
officialiy to have been satisfactorily contained, up ior air during the night, the enemy was duly proved itsworth in theU-boatwar, providing m-:d-
Walker was shortly afterward promoted gunned down. Her destruction would never Atlantic air cover to the convoys. Walker was nat
have been possible with the group responsible convinced at the time, however, and tended to loc-<
Captarn, taking over the 2nd Support Group of on the escort carriers as nice juicy bait to entice
six 'Black Swan' class sloops, headed by HMS also for a convoy. U-boats into the arms of the ZndSupportGroup.
Starling, which was crewed largely by 'old It was rn mid-i943 too that the Admiralty
Storks'. Five of these grroups were operating by embarked on a combined air and surface blitz
the spring of 1943, their function being to join on U-boats traversing the Bay of Biscay, to and
any threatened convoy and allow more U-boats from their French bases, On 24 June the Znd
to be hunted to the death without denuding the Support Group opened the season with two
convoy of its escort. U-boats before tea, With five sloops trolhng
This freedom suited Walker's style admir- along in search formation, the Sfarltng unex-
ably. On I June 1943 a 'Huff-Duff radio intercept pectedly had a contact close aboard and im-
warned of a U-boat and gave its bearing; the six mediately laid a pattern on it. To everybody's
sloops headed in this direction in line abreast surprise a U-boat suddenly staggered to the
at 6.4-km (4-mi1e) spacing, This deliberate suriace in her wake, Between them the ships
sweep was rewarded, wlth the Slarling gainlng could muster 30 101.6-mm (4-rn) guns and most
flrst sonar contact and thus the prrvilege of the of these opened up at the hapless submarine,
frrst attack. Leaving nothing to chance, however, Walker
When this produced no apparent result, reversed course and took his ship through an
Walker sent three of hrs ships to patrol the enthusiastic friendly barrage, rammtng the
:utfield' escape routes while he and the re- enemy, which rolled under the keel, and drop-
::aining two delivered a 'special', steaming plng a valedictory shallow depth-charge pat-
:beam in close order while laying a dense tern for qood measure, Again Walker had a
bent ship, leaking, lacking sonar but lucky to Three sinkings
:arpet oi depth chafges, The iarget, U-202,
::r,,ived 76 charqes by virtue of going excep- be still complete with propellers and rudders. On 9 February three U-boats were s.-:-.:: - -
:::ia1ly deep, Up top, the group sat back to He took temporary command of HMS trUi7d hours, The group had left the carriers::-j ::-
'.','-ri harrying the German from time to time, In Goose when, later, the Wren ptil up another vered a point where tp Io 22 submar-::e: ',';=:=
:-s elemenl, Walker was in h1s usual working target, Another deep one, she was attacked by threatening a series oi passing cc:-. :"'.' -" -
l:ar a tattered woolly jumper overlaid by a the Walker tactic ol using one ship to pinpoint were located in sequence on the sur:a:: :- .-=
-=--:er jerkin of uncertain origrn, a hali-eaten her while lhe remainder were dlrected in slow early hours, and each drved ard -:-:.-. i-:
:.:,-jwrch in one hand and the microphone to speed and, therefore, silent approaches, gtv- cumbed easily to immedra'e a::a:-< l:.' :-::
ing the enemy no warninq. This was followed required prolonged tracking ani l::-::.:= -:-
up by a rolling barrage (a 'plaster') of 5O day later, several hours pursur: -:. ! : :: i -:. j-
..'
lecruary 1944, and aboardSlarling Captain charges from two ships, That dtd it. conditions accounted for another l:: ---:: :.
i\-tker verbally encourages the sloop HMS Although ln July 1943 alone 37 U-boats were the result of a Walker 'hulch' :.:ia: :-: --:--'.
il:codpeckerrn to the attack. Itwas on this voyage
destroyed by all agencies, 16 of them between place for U-boats at daybreak ,'.:*: :: j
:.a: *e 2ndEscortGroup sanksix U-boats in l9
::-,'s. ffie success was notwithout loss, however, Ushant and Grbraltar, the 2nd Support Group astern of a convoy, One was, I: ;,:s s--.:. =-,1
'":l ',"/oodpecker being sunk by an acoustic unusually accounted for only two, Friendly gave the group a taliy of sn bc;-s -:- -: :=--'; .:.
..','._:-.
flghter cover was now often required to pre- useful recruit had been HMS -t'iag:-=
had a Hedgehog but, on the i::-: j-:: -.-.:
Woodpeckerlost herstern io ar- al: i:,-: - t : :-
do and loundered whrle in ::-.',-
By July 1944, the group's to:a. :=: :-:I : :'. -
to ]6 but Walker was leeiino -,:.1: -.:.-:- -:.=
Normandy landings had seer.L::.',''- --. I:-ji. '
sibrhty for 40 anti-submarine :: ;: j. -.-.-- ' :: -
ern English Channel. He was ::: -: - . --. . - --
ity to stay on watch far longe: :-i:. :.: '.: -:. .= -
olficers but endless wet nigh.s : :- - : :--. : : : : : :
had taken therr toll, Alreai-,- . l: ,-= '''-.
awarded a third bar to hs DSC ;.=:- :tt:l --
seniority and slated for flag ra:-< -: ,', - ----
be On 7 July he went ashcr: l::. -.-.: ---r'.-.:---
at Liverpool for some much-:.::i=l =-' : =:-,:
two days later he was ciead i- :::,.= ::=
sroned by overwork. s:r---< :.j:- .'..-- : ---:...-
lhat no enemy had ma:ch= j ..: ''.'=. - ' I - '-
48 years oid,
Nrlz 'Isles'
:i -
ZN class
the UK's large fishing fleer in 1939 pro
vided the Royal Narry wrth a ready
source ofships and trained crews, not ;ii
only for the obvious purposes of the r1 tt' :i*1-
Auxiiiary Patrol, minesweeping and !i'.
harbour defence but also, in the case of
I rl -.

the large distant water trawlers, of con- d


voy escofis at a time when these were
;t
..:.\
in short supply. The speed ofsuch ves-
sels was limited but both endurance
and seakeeping were adequate, and
they were commonly employed on the
Arctic convoy route in the early days.
From its experience in 1914-8 the
Admrralty had forewarning of rts needs
and had already formulated plans for
trawler construction at yards that were
familiar wrth them and which were, in
many cases, too small for the burlding
of regmlar escorts, The 27 ships of the
'Hi11', 'Military' and 'Fish' classes were
all produced by one yard and had the
very pretty lines of the drstant water
trawler, Half a dozen 'Lakes' from
Smith's Dock were strll almost pure
whale-catchers Most, however, were
of a design developed from the pro-
totype HMS Bassel, completed by
Robbs rn 1936. This ship though hav-
tng an obvious trawler{ype hull, had in
addltion a high raised forecastle and
the bridge and funnel sited well
amidships, Ieaving a short well deck
iorward, a long superstructure and a were not generally very effective and grievous losses though thetr layoul HM,S Shillay rs seen in F ebru ary I I 4 5.
rcable quarterdeck. With minor mod- few had radar, With only ll or 12kts was unsatisfactory for trawling until Though the trawler hullgave thetype
fcations, particularly in the herght of speed, dropping depth charges on a modified, T$relve 'lsles' were lost in good seakeeping and endurance, it
-ne bndge structure rhe type went rnto shallow target could be an advantage, the war. could never be said to have had a
;olume production, first as the 'Tree', while the pursuit of a submarine on the sparkling performance. They were
'Shakespeare' and'Dance' classes, surface was ciearly impossible the Specification easily built, however, and in quantity
-len as the 'Isles' class, which became submarine having a greatly superior 'Isles' class (as destqned) (a total of I 68 in four related classes).
:he best-known group. Altogether, speed in addition to out-gunning the Displacement: 545 tons standard
-:ese four groups comprrsed 2lB traw- averaqe trawler's 12-pdr. The oblect Dimensions: length 44 2 m (145.0 ft);
,ers The 'lsles' class numbered 168 was to force a submarine down, where beamB 4 m (27 5 ft); draught 3 2 m Speed: 12 kts
riis built between l94O and 1945 (130 rt would Iose touch with a convoy. (10,5 ft) Armament: one 12-pdr andthree
.l: the UK, 22 in India and 16 in Canada). Many of these 'rugqed coal-burners' Propulsion: one trr ple-expansion single 20-mm AA qms, and depth
Though many were equipped for were sold out to commercial owners steam engine delivering 634 kW charqes
-=:;i-submarine work, thelt sonars after the war to make qood therr (850 ihp) to one shaft Complement: 40

'Flower'class escort cutaway drawing key


45 Accessladder 6'l Handrail
46 Office forType 271 radar 62 Sideplatng
47 Searchlight 63 Stores/lobby/spirtstore
48 Twin 20 mm machine- 64 Wardroom
guns 65 Cabins/stokers' mess
49 Brldge 66 Ollfue tank
50 Compasshouse 67 Reserve feed watertank
51 Asdichut 68 Asdic compartment
52 Chadhouse 69 Fresh watertank
53 Ready use ockerfor4 in 70 Magazine
ammunition 71 RFwireless
54 4 in Mk 10 gun 72 Crewsleepingarea
55 Gun shleld 73 Crewarea
56 Breakwater 74 Stores/lampsetc
57 Depression rall 75 Palntstore
58 Semtex wa kway on poft 76 Chain locker
side 77 Anchor
59 Wooden fore deck 78 l6Jtdinghy
60 Anchorwindlass
ffi 'Flower'class Escort Vessels of World War In

Possrbly because of their homely


names or their rather unwarlike
appearance, the units of the 'Flower'
class (145 built in the UK and 113 in
Canada for launch in 1940 2) came to
be reqarded by the Brrtish as the
archetypal escort ship. Though they
made their reputation in the early days
of the Battle of the Atlantic, they were
not really suited to the job, the type
being developed primarily as a coastal
escort fltted for minesweeping. This,
however, would seem to be at
variance with the fact that the design
was based on that of a commercial
whale-catcher a hullform meant to
suvive the worst of the weather in the
forbidding Southern Ocean. It was the
rapid escalation of the North Atlantic
convoy war and a general shortage of
escorts that forced these little ships
lnto ocean work. They were superb
seaboats but being so shofi, were
horribly lively and wet in the deep extended aft to the funnei rncreasrng Specification HMSMyositis af sea drsplays tle
ocean, exhaustinq the best of crews accommodation and rmproving sea- 'Flower' class (original specification) battered appearance that constai:
wrthrn days though refuelhng at sea worthiness, pafilcularly with respect Displacement: 940 tons standard and Atlantic exposure m ade inevitable.
kept them out for lonqer. It was the to reducinq wetness in the waist, l, 160 tons fulIload Based upon a commercial whaler
limrtations that convinced the Admiral- Machinery was purposely kept sim- Dimensions: length 62,5 m (205. 1 ft); hull, the'Flower' class fiLled the gap
ty that the larger frigate was the ple for mass production and operation beam 10.1 m (33. I ft); drausht3,S m in British escort capacity earff h :e
answer. by rapidly-trarned personnel, the four- ( I 1,5 ft) war, until replaced by new friga:es.
The 'Flowers were business-like cylinder trrple expansion engine tak- Propulsion: 4 -cylinder -riple-
ships whose ancestry could be seen in ing steam from two Admiralty cylin- expansron sleam engine dehverjng l/MS Lotus is seen before her i -i4 2
the hull, with its pronounced sheer drical single-ended boilers, The ships 205 I kW (2,750 ihp) to one shaft transfer to France as tfte
strong flare and cutaway forefoot, Ear- were at that time, rare in the Royal Speed: 16 kts Commandante d'Estienne d'O:-;es"
ly units had a short forecastle with the Nalry in beingr single-screw types, Endurance:6400 km (3,975 miles) at She is fitted with minesweepAg
single mast stepped forward of a mer- All had an old pattem 101.6-mm (4- 12 kts gear,whichwas tobe a sronda:;-
cantile-style bridge structure, but most in) gun on a 'band stand' forward, but Armament: one 101.6-mm (4-in) qun, task after the destErnedro,le as a
of these were subsequently modified the original inadequate AA outfit of one 2-pdr or one quadruple 12.7-mm coastal escort. Only the severe
to the layout of the later 'Modified machine-qTuns rapidly qave way to a (0,5-in) AA qnrn, and depth charges shortage of ocean escorl.s.sa;y ris
Flower'class ships (included in the tot- 2-pdr pom-pom and as many 20-mm Complement: 85 maximum class employed in the North Atia:::c
als above). These had the forecastie Oerlikons as could be 'come by', Later
ships lncorporatinq all modiflcations,
certainly looked more 'pusser' and
many surprisrngly, wenl on Lo selve in
a mercantile role after the war. Also
built in Canada, they served under a
variety ol Allied flagrs, includinq that of
lne USA when rrs need was gredlest In
1942. Total wartime losses were 31.
'Flower' class (continued)

Aconit sfarted life as HMS Aconite , before


transferring to the FreeFrenchNavy in 1941. She is
seen entering an lcelandic fjord in the middle of an
Atlantic convoy run. As is usual with wartime
escorts, shepresents a sadly battered
appearance, but she continued to serve into
I 945.
Escort Vessels of World War tr

'Flower' clqss corvette


Ht'lS Loosestrife
I
The'Flower' class was adapted from
t a Smith's Dock design for a southern
oceanwhalecatcher. This stood the
c/ass in goodstead when pressed
into service protecting the Atlantic
convoys, as theywere superb sea
boats (although somewhat less than
comfortable for their crews). HMS
Loosestrife rs depicted as sie
appeared in I 944, with her
armament including six 20-mm AA
gans and bridgemachine-gruns as
well as the usual 4-in ( I 0 1.6-mm) gun
and depth charges.

\i
i*'
,
lil ''
>K iitact Swan'class
:e powerful lrttie ships of the 'Black Fine submarine hunters, the
Swan' class (13 built) had lrttle in com- modified' B Lack Swan' class were at
:::n with the remainder of the Royal their most effective in the Battle of the
i ia,"ry s sloops, most of whrch were later Atlantic. This is HMS Amethyst, seen
::garded as ocean minesweepers or in herwartime colours. Someyears
-:rply patrol ships. Earlier units were later she was to be at the heart of the
:=r-ainly fitted with ninesweep'rg 'Yangtse I ncident', suftering damage
l::ar though under what crrcumst- during the Chinese civil war.
-:ces such expensive and useful ships
',-;ere expected to go looking for mines mountings, which was deflnitely over-
,s not clear; at the same trme the space ambrtious. The 'Black Swans, very
::-d topweight margrn consumed by similar in appearance, were shqhtly
::l gear detracted considerably from largrer with a useful quadruple 2-pdr rn
.l: design's anti-submarine capaclty. the Y posrtion from which it was later
- was only with the 'Modified Black removed to rmprove quarterdeck lay-
Swan' class (24 built) that this equip- out, and as the close range armament
:,3nt was flnally landed, enabhng the elsewhere was beefed-up by the im-
::rps to become extremely efficient provrng availability of 20-mm and 40-
i: jcated submarine hunters. mm weapons.
The origins of the 'Black Swans' went The first impression of the apear-
:ack to HMS Enchantress, which had ance of the 'Black Swans' was the mass over 100 depth charges and a Hedge- (85ft)
::en launched in 1934 Though cap- of superstructure which was probably hog split to flank B mounting Most, Propulsion: two sets of qreared steam
riie of minesweeping the shrp had a tn accord with the desire to produce an logically, were sent to the Far East rn turbines delivering 26BS kW
.:J armament comparable with that of easy roll to improve them as AA qun 1945, Best known ships of the class (3,600 shp) to two shafts
: -i:et destroyer. The third ofthe class, platforms. Oddly, they did not fare too were Walker's HMSS/arlingand HMS Speed: 19,5 kts
-.1.'-l Bn:ern dLllered Ln berng com- w-ell aqainst arrcraft, four being sunk Amethyst of the 1948 'Yanqtse Inci- Endurance: 14825 km (9,215 miles) at
;-:led in 1938 with three of the new by bombing out of a total of f,ve lost. dent' 12 kts
:--;: angrle 101.6-mm (4-in) mountings The reason was probabiy that, unlike Armament:three twin 101,6 mm (4-in)
=:,i a prototype fin stabilizer system, the similarly-armed 'Hunts, they were Specification DP, one quadruple 2-pdr AA and six
-.'--j arranQemen was so ptomrslng slow and less nimble. They were, 'Black Swan'class twin 20-mm AA gmns, and depth
---. ihe three follow-on 'Egret' class therefore little used in the Mediterra- Displacement: 1,300 tons standard charges
-: .s on very httle increase in dimen- nean, making their name in ocean war Dimensions: lenqth 91,3 m (299 5 ft); Complement:180
: :r.s were completed with four such fare wrth later units beinqr able to ship beam l 1.43 m (37.5 ft) draught 2,59 m

NJ]Z Y:-
ZN 'Hunt' class
class and were 19 strong. Hulls at an
earlier stage of construction were split
longitudinally and an extra 0 76 m
(2.5ft) of beam incorporated. These
were able to accommodate the spe-
cified third 101,6-mm mounting and
became the 36 'Hunt Type II'class un-
its but, because of therr extra fullness
they were rather slower On the same
dtmensions a third variant the 28'Hunt
Type III' class units, was produced
with only two gmn mountingrs, but with
the valuable additron of a twin torpedo
tube mounring. War experience
showed the guns to be more useful, the
Hunts berng prominent in the
Mediterranean and in the defence of
the Britrsh east and south coasts. In all,
19 were lost, Siqnrficantly only three
were to aircraft and of these one was
statronary at the time and another was
sunk by a qlider bomb.

Specification
'Hunt Type III'class DP, one quadruple (and in some The'HuntType I' class destroyer
Displacement: I 0 I5 tons standard and vessels one single) 2-pdr AA, and one HMSSouthdownlies at her mooring
1,090 tons full load twin and up to four single 20-mm AA rn an easf coast port. These small but
Dimensions: lenqth 85 7 m (281,25 ft); quns, two 533 mm (21 in) torpedo r e lativ e ]y p owerfu I ly arme d v e s se I s
beam9 6 m(31 5 ft); drauqht2 36 m tubes, and depth charges did nothave the rcnge to operate in
(7,7s ft) Complement: 170 the Atlantic, but their armament
Propulsion: two sets ofgeared steam made them more suitable for use in
turbines deliverinq 14168 kW the Mediterranean and the North Sea.
(19 000 shp) to two shafts
Speed:25 kts 'H unt Type I I I s' differed from the
Endurance: 4635 km (2,880 rr.iles) at 'Wpe II'mainly by the addition of
20 kts twin torpedo tubes in place of X
Armament: two twin 101.6-mm (4-in) turret, providing a more balanced
weapon fit. The 'Type IIIs' were the
last of more than 80 'Hunts' built, 19
being los t before I 945. M any went to
serve other navies in theyears
thewar,
>K ibastle'class Escort Vessels of World War II
The last of the 'Flowers'were iaunched for retrofitting rnto either the 'Flowers'
-n early 1942 and, considering that or the 'Rivers' This was sited at 0L
:neir limrtations for North Atlantrc op- level, forward of the bridge, with a
erations had already begat the true new-pattern 101,6-mm (4-in) gun on a
lrgate, it may well be assumed that the bandstand ahead of it The squid's
cowette had reached the end of its advantage was that it couid lay a pat-
development Therewere, however, a tem of three healry bombs around a
number of smaller yards engaqed in submerged target up to 500 m (550
the 'Flower' programme which could yards) ahead while the contact was still
not physrcally cope with the larger fri- in the ship s sonar beam As the ships
Qrates, To keep them usefully occupied retained the single well-tned steam
a large corvette of iength about mrd- reciprocatinq enqine, the perform-
way between the 'Flower and 'Rrver', ance of the 'Castle' class did not match
was designed, again by Smith s Dock, that of the friqrates and they found their
the home of the 'Flowers', Named after main employment not as close convoy
British castles, the new'Castle' class escorts but in homogeneously-
ships embodted all the lessons learned composed escofi groups which were
wlth their forebears, while contrivinqt being formed in larger numbers to-
to look remarkably like them, The hull ward the end of the war, AII were Armament: one 101.6-mm (4-in) DP, HMSHedingham Castle displa;rs ier
was, again, of sweet line, althouqh de- based on the UK with the exception of and two twin and sx srnqle 20-mm AA family relationship to the' F lovs e:'
signed for series production with a a dozen transferred to the Royal Cana- guns, one Squid, and depth charges class, but the extra 15 m (50 f, mace
large proportion of welded seams. dran Navy and one to the Norweglans, Complement: 120 a great difference in habitabilir.,, c:
This showed itself as mrnor cranks in the AUantic run. The major offens:';e
the sheerstrake the bow and stern improvement came with the fii!:iJ .:
sections being of constant sheer angle the heavy'Squid' system of an':-
rather than the earlier continuous Displacement: 1,060 tons standard submarine mortars.
curve. The broad flat transom made lor Dimensions: length 76 B m (252.0 ft);
ease ofconstruction and plenty ofroom beam ll 2 m(36,75 ft); drauqht3 05 m
aft Some 44 units were launched in (10 0 ft) One conseguen ce of fitting the :r.p.e
1943-4, and another 38 were cancel- Propulsion: one 4-cylinder triple- Squid launcher between tie EL: :-: l
led. expans on s eam enorne oelvet:ng the bridge was a reduction jn se
The 'Castles boasted the same largre 2200 kW (2,950 rhp) to one shaft numbers of conventional dep'-:.
and spacious bridgre as the frigates, Speed: 16,5 kts charges carried. Where a FIo*'er
together with a substantial lattrce mast Endurance: 6,910 km (4,295 m,[esfat might be armed with 72 charge:. :.=
to elevate the considerabie mass ofthe i5 kts normal depth charge fit of a Ca:'-t
early radars, made possrble with the wasonly l'5.
larger hull. Therr great advance was ln
the inclusion of the Squid anti-
submarine mortar, a weap-o.ntoo l]eavy

>K 'i"rrgor', 'Bathurst' and 'Algerine' classes


Escort' is an all-embracinq word and a LOL6-mm (4-in) gun between them, UK) A dozen were retained
48 in the turbrnes or two sets or t-pi=-== =:-. :
:::ention should be made of the con- yet not only succeeded in fightlng off by the Royal Canadian Navy with no steam engines delir-e'u ;
:rbution of the 'minesweeping sloops' their adversarres with 152,4-mm (6-in) minesweeping gear but fitted as full (2,000 hp) to two shairs
minesweepers bothtypesol quns but actually sank one of them, the anti-submadne escofis, for which they Speed: 16.5 kts
=d'fleet
.'.:ich perio.med valuabje scrvice rn Hokoku Maru, not only shipped a Hedqehogr mortar Armament:one I0l c-r:-:. ---:. -
: :ner role Somewhat confusingly, Wrth the need to add the massive but carrred 90 depth charges as well. andbe-ween fo-u and =.;:. -. -:.: ..:--.
.:-:re were still servinqr 26 coal qenerators and electrtcal sweep gear War losses amounted to seven. qrns, ard mo'e hor : ;=: ''
: -:1ng 'Hunts; of 1917-9 vrntage, twrn- for magnetic mines to the 'Bangors', Complement:105
.:::iv shrps with limited sea-keeping already quite cramped with conven Specification
.:"'f/ due to their lack of forecastle, tional sweeps, an improved 'Haicyon' 'Algerine' class (as minesweeper) HMSRowena was one of the
l -:-rg the 1930s there were built the was produced in the 'Algerine' class. Displacement: 850 tons standard and 'Algerine' class fitted with ler::=
3:-:-by' class (with sweep capacity These smart little ships had adequate 970 tons full load triple expansion engines. on7 2: c::
: - ::ore truly sloops) and the exten space a qood armament and all Dimensions:lenqth 70. I m (230.0 ft); of 101 units had the planned
. : -{atcyon class locean m.nes- accommodation thouqhtfully stted beam l0,B m (35.5 ft); drauqht 2,9 m turbines. Althougrh used as a:i es::::
-''=:.:rs wrth a corvettes speed and above the main deck. A total of 101 (e5ft) the class was really for oceast
_-: r ,', er but viewed as expensive). 'Algerines'was built (53 in Canada and Propulsion: two sets ofgeared steam minesweeping.
: -:'-.=:.es production at the war's out-
&reffle Corwogs
ivluch af the massjve a.mou nt of Allied aid sen f to the Saviet Union in World War II The first stage of the northern convoys {eatured the
wentvia the Cape to the southern IJSSR. The quickest routewasverydifferent: familiar hazards af the North Atlantic run. as the
araundtheenemy-heldcaastofNarwaytothenorthRussl'anporfs. Thatperilous convoys made for their assembly points off
lceland. Even in summer the walersofsoulft east
theepic
pas,sagre, and the struggles of the convoys daring to travel it, makes one of Iceland can be unforgiving, and fife aboard the
:aies af thewar. merchantmen could be uncomfortable.

:.-rier's ilI-advised assault cn the USSR in June


-:41 gave the beleaguered Brrtish an unlikely
.-:d probiematrcal a1ly, rich tn human re-
:-:rces and resolve but rmpo,rerished in mate-
.,- Suppi-es'rvere needed urgently and had to
-::.-? o/ sea, adding to rhe responsroihties ot
:-.: aiready sorely-stretched Royal Navy, Be-
- :e cl constra jnls jmposeci borh by geogra
'.
. and 'he enemy occupaljon ol Lhe grealer
:,.ii of Europe, only the Soviet Arcirc ports
- - :,d be consrdered for shipments, Depen-
:. ... -pon tne season this would demand a lO-
: -i-day passage for convoys, lhe route flank-
.... . Lhe eastward bv a Gelman-occupied Nor-
.' --.; Winter pack ice forced their track closer
- - ,rd thLs hostiie coasL, w-Lh near Iour months
, .r:broken darkness and deep gloom afford-
...r come crvor but a1 -he expense cI weather
. -,1.'.):rsof unrelenting vrieness WrLh the rce
.r::: retreatrng in summer, the foute could be
::: oLsianr bur was rtr perffidrrerrr dayLiqht,
.:-.i. :oen io vrrtual roundlthe-clock attackl
.' '.'.'-r.ter the escorts problems were mdr-
. . --cr;1'comrng aboard lroze immedralely anti-submarine trawlers/whalers in the early seven-ship convoy sailed irom lceland lor
-*.. br.ize weapons and lrlesovrng gear. days o close ccvet ol [tee-mano.uvt tng cruts Archangel, arriving wlthout incident 10 days
. : iangerously increase topweight, Convoys ers with destroyer escorl which could raprdly later. This was shortly afier the invasion of the
- -.:r'terod by storms and conslantly in reinforce the convoy on demand; and a distani USSR and was a po.r'rcdl gesture as much as
.'.==: :i rounding up, The same warm Gulf covel rr{ Home Fieet heavy units 'o guard experiment. At this pornt both the Luftwalfe and
: -=.:.'\\iaier that kept the Soviet Arctic ports against forays by the substantral naval lbrces U'boat arms were fuliy committed elsewhere
.- =-:.:e also caused frequent fogs on contactrng burll up by he enemy in norLhern Norway and the escorL o1 d cdrrrer two cru.sers and six
..-,:li air of the north and, through tempera- These Home Fleet units were too valuabie to destroyers reflected the need to guard pri-
.: j'-nng prcduced poor Asdic lsonar) hazard over "he comple-e loL'e and tney usual- marrly against surlace aitack The PQ/QP con-
.

. :.s As the route varied lrom 225A'o 1y met, and returned with, a southbound convoy voy cycle commenced soon after the inability
: i-- aa O -o 2 000 miles; rn iength an oiler in ballast. While this distant cover usually in- of the enemy to interfere aliowing escort
. -: -.- -ai]]i to accompany the convoy to refuel
. cluded a carrier in its number, this was too strength to drop to as 1rttle as a cruiser and a
.::i--:l: remote to assist the convoy directly, and. for parr ol des'r.-,yers
.:'-:, Ntrth Atlan,ic convoys v/ere long this lack of crganlc airpower put the con-
:=...::-ei predominantly by submarines and voys at a grave d.sadvantaqe as the enemy The northern convoys
were threatened from the
. : r : =,Medrterranean bv surface forces burlt up powerful Lultwaffe strength in the air, from the sea and from beneath the sea, which
-.- r:.- .itC Arctic run was menaced bv arl north. These units were equrpped, for eflective meant that escarts had to be ready Ior anything
.:... -.- ;ro the escorl syslem orqanizecl reconnaissance and strike, with both bomb from flying-boals to fie Tirpitz- This photo, taken
- , , -:.:--ri-; This soon developed the form cf and toroedo from the cruiserHM,S Scylla sftows a nearmtss
: .-'-:r!3ie escort, usuaily of corvettes and On 2l August 1941 the ftrst, unnumbered resulting ftam aJunkers Ju B8 attack.

Tif l:l!l'l:r2l.,t )"ll;i::: -.:',:. :7 :-.


)),.

. :,r1ryry.;'9gqqpr@s&*

.,ih
:he comrng of the dark period the cycle was more immeciiate and again the navy iook The midnight sun illuminates vesse/s pass:,:*:
.. :ccelerated, so tirat by early February :ne btu;l n lltp a ra;k .:sing h^ ^r riser HVS thraugh a phenamenon known as'Arc::c::.::
- ,2 northbormd PQs iotalLinq 93 shrps had Edtni:.urgh to destroyers. Even though ihis v,ras Although seemlngr loseetft e. r.he sea :-. :r .-:. :. -
close ta freezing, and it is the difference i:e: ,'. :: :
t:sSe J. wi n he -rss cr on. / ol.c s:r]o'.o d efiectively the enemy destroyers' fina} throw,
sea and air ternperatures u,thich ca uses la: -: - i
i-ren +irp:7 Q"cs IL;o like,t.se re over 260 Lriltrvafle arrcralt and over 30 U-bcats Anyone in the water at this latitude wculc ::e
:

..J ,"'vrthour hin"ciranie With jenqthening velo o\ ncv a'.oirdbic. nC b.'r-- ltrmdrlrlng rapidly fram exposure.
:;rt :n h4arch 1942 thrngs li.rened up with 'pocket batttesirips' had been moved north.
..nJ -nQl2 and Qa! narrlr,rly avoiding Desprte ihe daylight lengihening omrnously,
,:.licn by ihe nev'rly-airived battleshlp polrrLcs oema"ded he runn. .q or DQlb jn May
and hei destroyers. The foul weather It suffered seven losses six of lhem to aircrafi, dqoinrl 'JPAirJl trT-l i.l . - .l r '
. ,creverrteC a srghting also stopped the anl the CAVi .h-p lnd //u' orj rh:r co:rd be lasi day of 1942 The latier's laci<.us::: ,- = -
., lal'4s Victonous anci three capital ships spared by way of extra protecticn ,,vas, itsell ance provokeci a high 1e',;e I lc'.': .e.'.', a-r' . '

- ,i s:a.nt cover from makingttimeiy contact. 5lnK ard Adrnrral tricl-. Re-o-: -. . - .

. : 1aC only two corvettes and tv,lo ocean Ev he :nd ol l;r e r,h-.n PQlT s-i ed Cer in protest,
.: ::pers as escort a disaster was only Tlan :lr rf,lae iorces rn i.rc north 1,ad been rcLn Between February anC itic-;:lr.::: -,.-
- i-".erted though it was not appreci- torceo by h^ bat..esht! Titpitz a heavT c'u;s co-:.,)ys 'dn as a-1 6scor'i r +Le -- - . -
..- . n. -s, ho,l, ner./.US'ne CerranS er ar.C o- '.-46inir..) ser. icear-,re ceshoyr rc Atlantic route, ."rrhere the U boa::---:'--. - . ,

- . l.rcspect of suslaining iosses them- I hs convr\ /. oS ,v€I ?o reled I y an opprehen reached rts pea-k Then. .;j1.h1r ni i: rr:
s-,,e Admira.:y n'hicn all o, arrar. rha' rhe nine .ffeeks, a toial oi 106 shrps p::s:,, , -
'vas
inrtiatr,re 1ay totally vrlth ihe enemy, By 1 JLriy six operations for the loss cici-r1_,' ::r-:= :,-. . .
- ; ".lilS lOSt erght U-boais were concentrating on the ccn- these movemenis ihe hith Lil.r-vaa: ..' :
.-.r:: -,.r;reeks later the enemy achieved voy whlch was also under continuous aeriai hcant as thc ture rd' o :tol
- --ke co-ordination, and PQ13 lost surve llan-e Crty on -1 Ju-,. howevcl jlrt rhe cruiser Scharnhorst Al last .ha .:-: -.. -.
i .' :r io the very eflective Junkers Ju attack devejop and, though this was by torpedo -rh'he Sclrarnnols: oe-rc -i. ?. . -. -':
rr,

- I -I -::nber (,lhose task was made aircrait, the Admlralty ordereci the convoy to ing Day 1943 and occuprei c-i- .,,: -, . --.,
,,,,eathei ca"rning tlle convoy to scatier, irrmly beire,nng that ihe 'lirpitzwasout. the close co,,'er until th-- bai:le.r,,:: ,--l ,:
= .

. : irr';c to U-boais and one to a AS.l r,app'n.rl shc d.d no sd lLnlrl lhe nFXr of Yor? co rld g+t c r '.ne s.--'.- .-
: -:,.al. ..-: torce ln tor\Lnq lho lat day and ihen, he.JgeC ,r,nth restricti.re oper- w-rhhar dcrlr. yers d^-'1....-. .....
close covet was unlortunate ational instructions returned almost im- enemy's longi career.
: ' --sir FiMS 'Iirnidad to one of her mediately, Thrs, however, drd noi nelp the con- fron soring 19-14 ..t- '.-. .:
.
: J :es Tr,r,o U-boats 'were sunk,
:- io; r,t h.ch lo.' 23 or-r' o' ils j4 si-t.}.! o 4-r( rair size and /vele dcco'rrca:. er .-'- '
-' :-'.' rae of lhe ocean minesweep- dnd subn.rrire as ,.nqlv or ir s."la,i gloups. h,\ a eSCOr'. :arr.ot S TIL .: , .

: : -.::. reoman service on the route. .nev s'rrloJnd jlc ldsl I23b krr r!00 11 l-c, vir- n-;d. shori v.oi-r cl.rh . :: .- :
. ic.re r r^o -iCed 'o m?re Llal-, unerco't+d. o/pcliel.ed U hoa cc r..-- :. : .

'-' e; i'n, o\ L,o'h si'los Not untr] September 1942 drd ihe next ccn- selves pitted up agarns: 2 :=: : . ,
- '..
.:.: ?= sl-tips ."vere obhged to voy n.ln, PQ18 lts 40 ships enjoyed a formrd- ba' le-i-arcen-d s-r11 :' :. ..
,. ...:cnditions but 8Bs out pc]]e'I.l:- . i i"I
.- : ,..! cf the empty Ju
. able escort that, at last inciuCed an escort car- al:)iP :O
QP10 To rier The enemy mounted a major elfori but, CrOSC eSCC't 'S=": J. . -' :
::.:-:-:-J aerial menace the best thor-rqh mass air attack sank l0 ships and U- voys rir to Lhe .. . - .

: --,,- .--. ihe absence of escort bca s a lurth.r :n:e., the crrce Aas lhe oss ci llCOn\enlenC: A i"+r'-.1 .

- .r: rl the escort a special three ll-boats and 27 .,iri:craft. morseless rveather
. --'- -: :nWardS, Subs^ouon' ror hbo;nd colrvois vnele re- In ali, 1,526 shrp irr;::-.::
. .: :,q11 1942 and its distant coded JW, stai:irng at JWS1. Thts much-delayed in 77 convoys to anri :i:i:r l' ::-
.- ,:,--,:rican battleshiP and operation ran ln iffo parts. Neither suflereci ioss being 1ost, Orrerall suc.--ss
bul lhe crurser and destroyer close correr of dicaiion and perse.;eia:r:=
: :nreai io the convoys JWSlB fought a sprrited defensive action men and esccris al:Ke
>K
-,Vith
hiu"r'ctass
the hmitations of the 'Flowers I/MS Helmsdalewas a'River' class
:eadrly apparent, the Admrralty rapid- frigate, and as suchwas a great
-;r produced a desrgn for a larger 'twin- improvement on previous escort
s3rew corvetie'which became known desrgrns. Unlike most'Rivers', she
.s the 'River'class, (The term 'frrqate' had her prominent Hedgehog ASW
',';as not officially reintroduced until mortar system replaced by the much
- 942). Overall they were about 28.30 m heavier and effective Squid triple
.;3 ft) longer than the later 'Flowers' barrelled ASW charge launcher.
::rd this made a very great difference
-: seakeeping, bunker capacity, instal- twin iOl,6-mm mountrng forward and a
-=i power and armament, Between single 12-pdr aft They also had their
-942 and 1944 some 57 were launched full outfit of 14 20-mm weapons, which
-:: the UK, 70 in Canada and I I in Au- British-built slrips rarely achieved. The
s:aha machinery was simply that of the
The hull had the raised forecastle 'Fiowers' doubled, though drawingr
:r:ended well aft, with a low quarter- steam fuom more efficrent waterlube
:eck for the depth-chargte gear and boilers. Four ships only were burlt wrth
.:e minesweepinq equipment with steam turbines, whrch were not gener-
-,',-:ich too many useful escorts were ally adopted as a result of shortages of
:-:iiered at that time. They were the components, The'Rrvers' were highly
'-:si ships to be fitted as standard with successful, but mosl of the survivors
':.: Hedgehog anti-submarine sprgol (seven were sunk in the war) had been
:::.tar which, with new sonar qear scrapped by the mid-1950s. Further
::-:ie for a more rapid and accurate Rrvers', to a slightly modrfled design,
a:ack. The Hedgehog was origrnally were burlt by the Americans as the 'PF
,.,,eC well forward and was thus ex- type of these 21 served in the Royal
:::::e1y exposed, but later unrts had Navy as the'Colony' class.
::-: weapon spiit rnto two 12 bomb
-i::l-,vers which were sited one deck Specification
:-;:er wingred out abaft the forward 'River' class (orrginal specificatron)
--- 6-mm- (4-in) gun Lonqer endur- Displacement: 1 370 tons standard
--:-:: demanded a larger depth- Dimensions: lenqth 91 9 m (301.5 ft);
::--ge capacity, and up to 200 could beam 11 12 m(36 5 ft); drauqht3.9l m
: : :amed. compared wrth d maxlmum (r2,83 ft)
:: ll on the 'Flowers'. Propulsion: two sets of 4-cylinder
-:ough not developed from a mer- tnple-expansron steam engines A typically battered Atlantic escort, HMS Spey sfeams up tie line of a convoy
:--le hull form the 'Rivers were burlt delrvering 4101 kW (5,500 ihp) to two during February 1944, when this particular'River'class frigate sank the Type
:: :::ercantile standards, which shafts VIIC U-boatsU-406 (on I I February) andU-386 (on I I Febriary).
-=peeied construction, They featured a Speed:20 kts
i:: :arsom, which not only obviated Endurance: 12970 km (8,060 miles) at
:-:::: of the complex curvature of tra- 12 kts Desr'gned as ocean-going escorts
:-:-::ally-shaped sterns but also Armament: two srngle 10 1.6-mm (4-in) with a range of 12970 km (8,060
r:.*Jy rmproved the hull hydrodyna- Qnrns, two single 2-pdr and 20-mm AA miles), the 'Rivers' were at first fitted
:-:s Ii 1s noteworthy that over half the gmns (later replaced by l0 20-mm AA with almost totally superfluous
i.-'.-=:s were Canadian-burlt (wrth qnrns), one Hedgehoq and depth minesweeping gear. Once this was
:-::: snrps coming from Australia) and charges eliminated from the design, oil
,''. pr:bably all too easily overlooked Comilement: 107 storage rose from 440 tons to 646
:-:'.'; ::laqrniflcent a contribution the tons, with a conseguent
la:-:iar yards and the Royal Cana- inendurance.
:--- l{a-.ry made to victory in the Atlan-
: l.::si Canadran-burit units had a

'Loch' and 'Bay' classes


variety of sources. The structure had
been greatly strenqthened to allow the
rnstallation of a pair of triple-barrelled
Squid anti-submarine mortars forward
of the bridge, The spacious quarter-
deck was now devoted not so much to
deplh charges and lherr caparison
(whose functions the Squid had largely
superseded) but to the trappinqs of a
more scientific war largtely the towed
Foxer gear, for defeating the menace
of the acoustrc torpedo with its affinity
for frigate propellers. A major differ-
ence from the recognitron pornt ofview
was the substantral lattice mast for the
all-rmportant radars. The 'Lochs'
proved deadly against the U-boat but,

f/MS Loch Tarbert comes a/ongside


after avoyagewith a fo'c'sle party
ready to pass a line ashore.
I mprove d v er sion s of the' R iver'
desr?ns, the'Loch'class had a pair of
triple-barrelled S quid ASW mortars
as main anti-submarine weaponry.
loch' and'Bay' classes (continued)

:,::gh they soldrered on after the war two twin 4O-mm mountrngs lor some of
-:-:l the their speedwould have
1960s, the origrnal 20-mm weapons.
:::n totaliy inadequate to meet the
--:eat of such as the 'Type XXI' U- Specification
::ats These fortunately arrtved too 'Bay'class
,i:e but durrnq the early 1950s stimu- Displacement: 1,580 tons standard
r ed the prototype fast fnqate tn the Dimensions: lenqth 93 6 m (307 25 ft)
. ,pe l5 dpstroyer .onverslo"ts beam I 1 73 m (38 5 ft) drausht 2.9 m
In contrast, the Pacific war was pre- (9 5 ft)
::mrnantly AA in nature, and the 19 Propulsion: two sets of 4-cylinder trtple
'-:lis of the 'Bay' class completed tn expanslon steam engrnes delLvertnq
- ?44-5 were no more than 'Lochs' wtth 4101 kW (5,500 rhp) to two shafts
:eLr forward 101 6'mm (4-rn) and after Speed: 19.5 kts
l.radruple 2 pdr gnrns replaced by two Endurance: 17605 km ( 10,940 mtles)
..';rn HA 101.6-mm mountlngs with a Armament: two hvrn l0 1. 6-mm (4-tn)
p:oper drrector atop the bridge The DP, lwo lwrn 40-mm AA and two twln The 'Bay' class frigates were versions of the 'Loch' class optimized for Pacific
:ealry Squids, now non-essenttal, were 20-mmAAgmns, one Hedgehoq, and operations, where escorts were more likely to be attacked from the air. The
:i:placed by the less effective Hedqe- depth charges heavy Squid system was landed in favour of the lighter but less effective
:-og, allowing also the substltution of Complement: 157 Hedgehog, and AA armamentwas improved.

ffi usA

: DE type
The Americans, like the Japanese, had that trme earmarked for landtnq craft.
seen httle need ofdefensrve ships such As antr-submanne ships the DEs were
as escorts before the war and, in tts very effectrve, while many went on af-
:arly days had little beyond therr total- ter the war to be converted lnto fast
ly unsuitable and veteran flush- transports (APD) or radar-ptckets
Ceckers. It was the Royal Narry de- (DER)
lnerately seeking to meet the sub-
nanne threat, that produced a spe- Specification
:frcation for an Atlantic escort, fol- 'Buckley'class
rcwed by orders for no less than 300 Displacement: 1,400 tons standard and
being placed in the USA between 1,720 tons full load
\ovember l94l and january 1942, Dimensions: lenglh93.27 m (306.0 ft);
Termed by the Americans destroyer beam I 1.27 m (37.0 ft); draught 2 89 m
escorts (DE type, a new category), (9 5 ft)
.hey also met the sudden need at Propulsion: hvo sets ofgeared steam
rome, and the orqanization was put in turbrnes and two propulslon motors
:and to burld over 1,000 of them, deliveringB94B kW (12,000 shp) to two
:nough the earliest still arrived too late shafts
:3 prevent the backyard holocaust Speed:24 kts
-oown to the U boat men as the 'Happy Armament: three single 76.2-mm (3-in)
Time'. DP, srx srnqle 40-mm AA, and two twln
The DEs were burlt after the fashton and four srnqle 20-mm AA guns, three U,SSHarmorL a turbine-powered destroyer escort launched inJuly 1943. wx
:f American fleet destroyers, havinq a 533-mm (21-rn) torpedo tubes, one named after a Navy Cross winner killed in the sea battle off Guadalcanal. The
-:ng flush deckwith aprominent sheer Hedqehoq, and depth charges Harmon esfab,lrilr ed a record, being delivered to the navy only 92 days alter
:e in place of the more commodious Complement:220 the keelwas laid. Latervesselswere builtineven shorter times.
,ong forecastle decks preferred by the
lntrsh. Far more emphasis was placed
:n gmn armament, wrth superimposed
-5.2 mm (3-in) Sn-ms forward, a single
i and numerous gnrntubs with a mtx-
,.::e of close ranQle weaponry, mostly
.rgle 20 mm quns. Hedgehoq was
.:ed forward and, by RN standards, ,
:e after deck was cramped, though
:-; the use of double-depth, sided
:::i,vage racks the Britrsh units (78
'Captain' class) managed to stow up- *a
;r-Cs of 200 depth charges,
-:Jthough 'only' 565 DEs were even-
--.'r compleled, lherr conslructlon '€k*-
:- : phenomenal, no less than 425
,','as
::jr;r comrnlssioned in the 12 months
:=--';:en April 1943 and April 1944
. -:.: Bethlehem actually completed
:= ,SS Underhill (DE 682) rn under
-:-r:-:::rthsl The uS Navy was very
: steam-turbrne' navy, but pro-
r-: :: ln ths scale was rmpossible so
'-: ::-.s f--11 tnto several classes, de-
Above: Thk is one o{ the earlian at
,-
= :,::;r cn whether they were diesel morethan565 DEs builtfor the US
:: Edsall' class units) diesel-electric
L Elralts' and 76'Bostwick' class un- Navy. The six classes delivered n'ere
varia tions on a them e. w i th drtredng
-r.,: :-:l::-electrically
(152'Buckley',
-::.n C. Butlet' and Bl 'Rudderow' propulsion systems.
r;-:s -;-*. Crrven. Most of those incor
: - r :- r l i:sels were low powered as Below:Aparttrom the choice o{na.z;
. : -*.- -, : ,strng dlesel output was at armamenL most DEs catrid stjfjiar
weaponry. Depth charge were
handled byeightDC tfuowers a:c
twoDC racks.
USS England on the surface. The George caught her in her
searchhght as she dived, and offloaded a pat-
tern of depth charges over the spot Again

in fhe Philippine Sea


The Pacific war was the war of the carrier and the destroyer, of the night torped.o
there was no instant result and the Enoland
waded in with a Hedgehog salvo, A flrsi-time
bulls-eye left only oil and wreckage rising to
mark the spot,
This submarine had been the northernmost
attackand the airbattleover hundreds of milesof ocean. Itwas notawar notedfor of a line and her neighbour, the RO-104, was
its cat-and-mouse battles between escort and submarine, yet itwas on the fringesof detected before breakfast on the next morn,
one of th o se titanic c arr ier b at tle s //r a f USS England produce d on e of the mo s t - ing. Both the George, the senior ship, andRaby
astonishing performances of the war. attacked without success. It remained again for
lhe England lo zera tn. Again there was ample
evidence for a claim,
As wrth all large scale Japanese operations, up with three more salvoes, the last of whtch
that known as 'A-Go', whrch resulted rn the produced three small explosions, fotlowed bv Salvofired
Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, was a massive detonation whtch hfted the after end As there was now adequate evidence of a
meticulously planned. It was hoped to lure sub- of the ship bodily in the water. It marked the submarlne hne the group moved further south
stantial US naval forces into waters north of the end of the 1-16, a submarine larger than the DE. westward and, sure enough, the George se,
Admiralties, across a well-prepared sub- The little group was proceedtng north west- cured a radar contact on a rapidly submerging
marine trap. Japanese tactical doctrine saw the ward outside the Bismarcks when, at 03,50 on target rn the early hours of 24May. Sonar condi
primary roles ol the submarine as a scout 22May, itcaughtthe.RO-l06chargingbatteries tions were good, so Ihe England carefully
attacking warships, and 25 were deployed lor gauged bearing and depth before firing a de-
the. purpose, many in the waters mentroned liberate salvo of her few remaining bombs,
ald over a month beforehand, Though the target was running deep there
In mrd-May the three 'Buckley' class DEs
USS Eng1and, George and Raby were on a The most interesftng of U,SS Engl and's kills may
mission to harass the enemy suppiy line to weII have been her first. The attack on the
Bougainvrlle when, in the early afternoon of 19 afternoon of 19 May saw the destruction of the
May, the first-named gained sonar contact on a submarine I- 16, a massive boat I 04 m (34 I ft) long
submerged submarine. Only a few of the and displacing more than 3,000 tons.Given that
the DE displaced about I ,400 tons and was 16 m
Pacific escorts were armed with Hedgehog; (more than 52 ft) shorter than the submarine, it is
'tle recently commissioned England was, and not surprising that the eventual explosion should
attacked wrthout hesrtation, The second salvo give tft e England something of a Lift !
produced the sound of two direct hits but, lack-
tng immediate evidence ola'ki11', she followed

n
Escort Vessels of World War tr

:1:1e a muffled explosion. Thrs fourth victrm


r,.s the RO-116.
Returning to Manus on 26 May to refuel and
:=arm the group found yet another submarine,
-:- scnar contact was gained by the Raby, lost,
::gained by the England and presented wtth
:-e usual prectsion Hedgehog pattern, Again a
:-:ie-in-one, it drsintegrated the ,RO-}08 in a
-:ries of rumbling explosions clearly audible
::m the surface.
Rapldly topped up, the shrps immedtately
sarLed again to join an ASW group based on a
l',rE, One of the latter's destroyers flushed a
s;bmarine but could not leave to attack it. The
-Es stayed in contact all nrght and, after a
series of unsuccessful attacks by the other _
.rrps, the EngJand was finally allowed a go -rr*{d
-he almost inevitable result was the RO-105
:-'-1':";:!Fi
s'rnk with a single salvo at 07.35 on 3 I May. The
:rgland had set a record which strll stands: six
.nemy submarines sunk in i2 days. Of the 25
;apanese submarines deployed, l7 were sunk,
Their tactics were poor, they were badly
placed, they achieved nothing and they were
-iiasted. f .*ii
Right: The colossal detonation of a depth-charge
pattem throws acolumnof water higher thanthe
mast of the destroyer escort. US shipyards
churned out over 500 of these vesse/s, B0 per cen t
"t!+ *-'<-.
of which were completed between April 1943 and
.a
April 1944 - a production rate that spelt doom for
Axis submarines.

The pertormance of USS England in the PhilippineSea was almost


unbelievable. While there was undoubtedly an element of lucl< (as f.lere :s
in all great victories) in the sinking of six submarines in I 2 days , good
, lii teamwork, keenessand lherapid advance of anti-submarine t*hnolq7
',:,1: all played their part.
-r'.:riii:il: . r!'i:

s
w F.
_r
! ' ..':*'
i' ','.:.!.. i i
i- ' .'j
: PC and PCE types
Given the immense iengrth of the Atlan- restricted by their size to rnshore but later examples had a thln aft. Fifteen crossed the Atlantic for ser-
tic and Pacrfic coasts together with work. Needrng to expand the escort stovepipe and the last a dtminutive vice with the Royal Navy. Knovm as the
further major trarsCarribbean routes, fleet rapidly and with the PC desigm to stack with a cuwed cap. Construction 'Kil' class they sewed primarily off
particularly to the Venezuelan oil ter- hand, it is understandable that a mas- amounted to 78 unlts. Gibraltar and Sierra Leone, One, HMS
minals and the Panama Canai, the US sive construction proqramme was Their armament was better than that Kilmarnock, partrcipated in the only
Navy had a major problem in protect- rapidly instituted. In fact, over 350 of of many British frigates, a 76,2-mm (3- U-boat sinlcng credited to the class,
tng its coastal traffic, the patten and these craft were bullt using resources in) gnrn and a firl1 Hedgehog forward, that of the U-731 otr Tangder in May
volume oi which was very dtfferent to that, in rekospect, wouid better have hvo/three single 40-mm and up to five 1944.
that of the UK. The vuinerability of the been diverted to the productron of iar- 20-mm AA gmns, wlth depth chargres
shipping on the eastern seaboard was ger and more versatile antr-submanne Specification
ruthlessly exposed by the German U- ships. Not until mid-1943, thereitre, 'PCE'class
boat campaigm of 1942, but had been was the PCE type introduced which, Displacement: 795 tons standard and
antrcipated to the extent ihat three pro- while oniy 3 m (10 ft) longer, was aiso a 850 tons fuIl]oad
totype 53,26 m (174 ft I in) Patrol Craft fl.tli l0 ft beamier. Unlike the PCs, wtth Dimensions: lenqlh 56.24 m (184.5 ft);
(PC type) had been completed before their characteristically American flush beam 10.05 m (33.0 ft); draught 2,89 m
the USA's entry lnto the war. These deck with pronounced sheer, the (esf0
were slim-gutted diesei craft which, PCEs followed Brltish frigate practlce Propulsion: two diesel engrines
though relatively well armed, were in their freeboard and lonq forecastle. delivenns 1417 kW(1,900 bhp)totwo
Early units were funnelless, their I".
i, shafts
Unlike the smaller PC classes, the diesels exhaustlng through the shell, Speed: 16 kts
PCEs were adapted from a Armament: one 76.2 mm (3-rn) DP, tvuo
minesweeper design as an interim or three srngle 40-mm AA, and four
coastal escort until the construction single 20-mmAAquns, one
of morePCs.
--{*.;'-''j1, I
Hedgehog, and depth chargres
ment:100

FRANCE

'Elan' class
At the outbreak ofwar the French fleet gnrns could be carried though only one
was poorly sewed for escorts in the was usually fitted, on the after house.
accepted sense of the word, those Where shrps are concerned it is
available berng deslgmed pnmarily for often said that 'if it looks right, it rs right'.
colonral service. For effective antr- The converse apparently holds good,
si:icmarine work during the war, there- for a follow-on series of nine'Chamois'
lbre, the Free French navy relied on class ships, whose entry rnto service
niqates, corvettes and DEs transferred was disrupted by the war, vrhrally re-
from the Royal Navy or the US Navy. peated the desigm but incorporated a
The l3-strong'Elan'class had been raised forecastle and looked
completed rn 1939-40 as cowette-type altogether more worlrnanlike. Their
vessels wrth minesweepinq capability. careers were typrcally complex with,
Ther 78 by B.4B m (255,9 by 27.8 ft) hrnl for rnstance, l'I mpetueuse beilg scut-
dimensrons, compared wrth the 62.50 tled by the French at Toulon, only to be
by 10. l0 m (205 by 33. I ft) ofthe Brltish- salvaged by the Italians and then, at
burlt 'Flowers' that served under the their capitulation, being taken in turn
same flag, characterize the gEeatly by the Germans who, finally, scuttled
Crfierent approach, with stronq emph- her again at Marseilles. Another three
asis on speed. Despite their fine lines, units were war losses.
however, their low-power twin-shaft
diesel machlnery could drive them at Specification
:dy 20 lts, but their excellent offlcial 'Elan'class (asburlt)
endurance figwes emphasue the eco- Displircement: 630 tons standard and
romy of diesei propulsion, The first T40tonsfuliload
Qrroup was decidedly odd ln appear- Dimeruions: lenqth 78.0 m (255.9 ft); The early 'Elan'c/ass yesse,ls were notable for their unusud appearance; with
a:ce, with a distinctively low foredeck. beamB.S m(27.9ft), draught2.4 m no armament on their distinctive low foredeck and the rounded sfteersfrake
r'l'hat was rn the desigmer's mind is (7.e ft) continuing the iength of the hul| from some angles the Elans bore a
I]ard to say but acute wetness must Propulsion: two dresels deliverrng resemblance to a top-heavy submarine.
.qeil have been anticipated as the 2982 kW (4,000 bhp) to two shalts
bndge was perched atop a solid Speed:20 kts The twin I 00- mm (3.94-in) guns
:::'.u;e. No armament was mounted for- Endurance: 16675 lrn (10,360 miles) at originally fitted to the French vessels
,ltard and the impact of qreen seas on 14 kts were replaced in British service by
te foont of the house can only be im- Armament: hvo 100-mm (3,94-in) gltrns, British 4-in (102-mm) weapons. The
agiled An iriteresting detail was the and two twin and four single 13.2-mm minesweeping capability was never
:crurded sheerstrake, extendinq the (0. 52-in) machine-gurs used, buttwo DCTs and aDC rack
-:rgrth of the hull, possibly better to Complement: not knovrrn were fitted. fipically, after the
ltroJmmodate the anticipated stresses surrender ofFrance the class found
_reierated h the huil when labouring itsell in use by hotlr srdes.
:- reiYy seas. Tlvo 100-mm (3.94-in)

It
--:
Armed Forces of the World

ChlnclPar,g
The Chinese Air Force
l-rna has numerically the third largest air force in
:^e world after the USSR and the USA, but obsolete
=--rlpment and organizational problems ser ously
-^dermlne its effectlveness.
The Air Force of the People's Liberation Army
l:PLA) has been an integral part of China's military
::-.rcture since its foundation in 1946 durrng the
-- nese Civil War. lnitially equipped with captured
-:oanese and Soviet-donated alrcraft, the AFPLA
=:ded American types to its inventory when lhe
',ationalists finally withdrew to Formosa in 1949,
:aving much equipment on the mainland. The AF-
:-A was first to make real impact when lt brought
-ewly-supplied Mikoyan-Gurevich MrG-1 5 fighters
:: bear on the Korean War in '1 950 after minimal
:'ain ng. The Soviet Union had helped in the estab-
shment of flying training schools in Manchuria. in
:'re supply of equipment, and in developing an air-
:raft industry, also in Manchurra at Shenyang (Muk-
:en) and Pinkiang (Harbin).
The organization of the air force also follows
Soviet lines; the largest cohesive unit is the division, to produce the MiG-19 as the J-6 was signed in China has the world's third largest air force, but
:cmprising three regiments (roughly equivalent to a 1958, the first aircraft f lying at Beijing in December her aircraft are now mainly obso/escen t ftpes-
These J-6s, part of a Naval Fighter Division, are
.'.'ing), each regiment being composed of three 196'1 .
Chinese-built MiG- I9s that entered service with
' vrng brigades (squadrons) of four sections (f lights). The AFPLA had fared badly at the hands of the the Chinese air force 23 years ago.
-re divisions employ a mixed range of aircraft fulfiil- Nationalist air force over the Straits of Formosa in
-g a variety of tasks, although one function (often
'1
958, and with increasing intrusions over the main-
, defence) normally predominates. Thus the 38th land from Formosan bases, more advanced aircraft a rcraft.
i

' i Defence Division, tasked with the defence of


: were needed. But relationships between China and The AFPLA deploys 3,200 fighters and a5l ;-:
::ijjng (Peking), has two regiments to the south at the Soviet Union soured, and in 1960 all Soviet aid bombers (12 regiments) in27 atr divisior:s. -::-
'3ngtsuon and one at Changping north of the capit- was withdrawn. By this time some MiG-21s (J-7) lance of types is believed to be:
- The main equipment is the J-6 and J-6C day had been supplied, but no production lines had been A-5 'Fantan' (local M iG-1 9 variant) 224
' lhter, though some sections fly the JZ 6 recon- established. The Chinese might have weathered the R tr/il ta\ / =a
-: ssance version. The regiments also employ the Soviet withdrawal and developed a free-standing J-4 (MiG-17F)
, 5 and JJ-S trainer and elderly Y-5 transports. At technologically-advanced industry had it not been J-5 (MiG-17PF)
-:Jiment level one brigade is confined to mainten- for the cultural revolution. From 1966 to 1977 politic- J-6 (MiG-19) 1 95_
.-:e, and with few covered facilities (even at maior
- is low despite the relative
al fervour disrupted every aspect of life, but most
importantly any notion of structure or formal orga-
J-7 (MiG-21) /-
' bases) serviceability
of the aircraft. The division's nominal nization was swept away. Advancement of the indi-
J-B 'Finback' (local MiG-21 variant)
-plicity
=
-.-:rgth is 1 20 aircraft. vidual was based not on age, mer,t or experience ln addition four regiments of 90 8-6 (Tupc e ' ----:
but upon political strength, so activists secured key bombers are based in Sinkiang confror: - j :-=
-1er her experience gained over Korea, where up Soviet Union. About 50 Tu-4 (B-29 cop'es a-: ::
-- --rTee divisions were committed, China sought to posrtions. lf the air force survived this period, during
:- r up her own aircraft industry based on the li- which ranks disappeared, the aircraft lndustry dld service. ln support is a mixed transpoli 'e:: ::--
-=-:e production of Soviet types. The first BT-5 not; fanaticism is no substitute for planning and prislng:
''<cvlev Yak-1B) flew at Shenyang in 1954, fol- order. Attempts have been made to develop indige- Y-5 (An-2) za,
..,=i by rhe J-5 (MiG-1 7PF) and J-2 (MiG-',l SUTl) rn nous types, based broadly upon Sovlet designs, but Y-l (An-241
-:::
-
and the Y-5 (Antonov An-2) in 1957 A licence the obsolescent J-6 remalns the most widely used Y-B (An-12)
An-26
llyushin ll-1 B
ll-1 4
Lisunov Li-2 (C-47 copy)
Curtiss C-46
BAe Trident
Douglas DC-6
Most of the ll-14s and Li-2s are stat,cr::
province supporting the three lndepence^: a '. -".
divisions based there. ln addition tirere 3-. ' 'a -:-a
reconnaissance fighters, 250 aci'ar:::
-,
variants of fighter types, and aboul 3.5i :'=
the BT-5 (Yak-18) type, includ:ng :': :::
signed development, the 8T-6. Ma.::,'.
is some 490,000, though th!s fic--: -
personnel of the strateg:c 'orces =-: :===- -=
=-
forces (220,000).
There is no separate armv a\,

Some 12 air regiments are equippd -ivlgh uteji- j


twin-jet light bomber, the Chinese version of lle
Sovietll-28.Normal and maximun bornb ioads are
1000 kg(2,205 lb) and3000 kg(6,614 lb)
respectively, and anumber of H-is arc belierxi ".c
be confiwred to carry nuclear weapons.
Armed Forces of the World
force operates 340 H-5 (Mil Mi-4), 50 H-9 (Aerospa-
tiale Dauphin) and 15 Mi-B helicopters.
Naval aviation, previously discussed, is separately
organized with light bomber/torpedo aircraft (200
B5 and 50 8-6) in three 'divisions' at Hulin. Amoy
and Tsingtao. Fighters are shore-based and incorpo-
rated into the basic air-defence system as six 'divi-
sions'. These comprise 200 J-5,300 J-6 and 50 J-7
aircraft. Twenty Beriev Be-6 seaplanes are used for
ASW work, and helicopters include 40 H-Ss and 13
A6rospatiale Super Frelons. Transport aircraft oper-
ated by the navy include 20 Li-2s and 40 of the
ubiquitous Y-5. Personnel amount to some 38,000.
The major problem for the AFPLA is its ageing
equipment. China lacks the currency to buy abroad
and possibly the expertise necessary to handle
modern technically-complex aircraft production on a
large scale. Selection of designs for licence produc-
tion and development is therefore critical. A further
problem remains one of organization. Operations
against the North Vietnamese in 1979 highlighted
the absence of air/ground co-ordination and the lack
of appropriate communications systems_ Sheer
weight of numbers alone is not enough to support
systematic military action.
China includes 11 military regions (MR) based on
groupings of provinces, in themselves military dis-
tricts {MD). Air units are believed to be disposed as
set out below.
Right: The Q-5 k a Chinese development of theJ -6,
vith twin lateral intakes replacing the single
diuidd nose intake andafuselageabout2S per
ent longer. The extra space was to have been
used Ior an internal weapons bay, but k now used
to increase fuelcapacity by 70 per cent.

NorthWest Lanzhou(Lanchow)MH
Order of Battle China Gansu (Kanshu) MD 1 div (Suchow)
Ningxia (Ningsia) MD 1 div (Ningsia)
Military regions and Urumqi (Urumchi) MR
Area subordinate military districts Strength and location East Xinjiang (Singkiang) M D 1 div (Oomut)
North East Shenyang MR 1 BD(LopNod
China Heilongjiang MD 2 divs (Pinkiang, Fuchin) North Xinjiang (Singkiang) MD 1 div (Urumchi)
Jirin (Kirin) MD 1 div (Kirin)
Liaoning MD 2 divs (Shenyang, Liaoyang) Abbreviations
2 NFDs (Dairen. Chinhsien) MR Military Region
(most basic training is organized in Shenyang M R)
Beijing {Peking} MR
MD MiliraryDistrict
Div Mixed Air Division (120 aircraft)
Nei Monggol MD 1 div (Kweisul)
Hebei (Hopeh) MD
NFD Naval Fighter'Division' (70 aircraft)
2 divs (Tientsin, Paoting) NBD Naval Borriber'Division' (40 aircraft)
Shanxi (Shansi) MD 2 divs (Taiynan, Wanchuan) BD Bomber Division (4 regiments with 90 aircraft)
South East Jinan {Tsinan) MR TG Transport Group (100 aircraft)
China Shandong MD 1 div (Tsinan)
1 NFD (Chefoo)
The J-6 is armed with two or three NR-30 30-mm belt-fed cannon, depending
1 NBD (Tsingtao) on the model. One is situated in each wing root and the third, if present, uniter
Nanjing (NankinglMR the starboard side of the nose. One or two weapons points are htted inboard
Kiangshu MD 1 div (Nanking) ofeach tank, and canmountpacks ofeight air-to-aii rockets.
1 NFD (Shanghai)
Zheiliang (Chekiang) M D 1 div (Kinhwa)
Fuzhou (Fuchowl MR
Fujian (Fukien) MD 2 divs (Tsingkiang. Minhow)
1 NFD (Amoy)
1 NBD (Amoy)
Jiangxl (Kiansi) MD 1 div (Nanchang)
Wuhan MR
Henan (Honan) MD 1 div (Kaifens)
Hubei (Hopeh) MD TG (Hankow)
SoJth West Guangzhou (Kuangchowf MR
Cnina Guangdong (Kwangtun) MD 1 div (Canton)
1 NFD (Swatow)
Hinan (Hunan) MD 1 div (Kweilin)
Hainan MD 1 div (Haikon)
1 NBD (Hulin)
Guanxi (Kwangsi) MD 1 div (Nanning)
Kunming MR
Yunnan MD l div(Kunming)
Chengdu (Chengtul MR
Sichuan (Szechwan) MD 1 div (Chunking)