Allied Coastal Forces of World War II: Volume II: Vosper MTBs and US Elcos - John Lambert & Al Ross

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II: Volume II: Vosper MTBs and US Elcos - John Lambert & Al Ross

First impression on seeing the book is that it is heavy and physically very large: over 20 inches wide when open and about 12 inches tall. This meant that it wasn’t suitable for my usual bedtime reading.

My own interest in these fast boats stems from seeing the film, “The Ship That Died Of Shame” as a child. I was absolutely fascinated by this boat that had feelings. Fast forward a few years later and I’m interested in RAF rescue launches and MTBs.

I wish I’d had this book in my model making days, it would have been a real God-send. Instead, I had to make do with building semi-scale models that just about looked right, but would never pass close scrutiny.

One particular nicety of this book is that the authors tell you where you can get plans for most of the boats featured, if the included drawings are insufficient: an absolute boon for a modeller.

The authors claim to have recorded the fate of every boat made by the manufacturers in the title and their subsidiaries/related companies. Fact or not, I couldn’t say, but there are an awful lot of boats listed.

What I really liked about this book though are the pictures. You can tell so much from a picture, far more than words alone will ever tell you. I’d only seen a few of the pictures before, which is a little surprising when many of them are from The Imperial War Museum, a source that I’ve regularly raided over the years: others are from factory sources, the USN and private collections. Of note is just how few women are featured in the pictures: also of how many people are smoking. I don’t know why, but one picture in particular stood out to me, it has a crewman standing on deck, with a pipe sticking out of his mouth.

Apart from the general history of the boats, each type is given a full specification along with (in my opinion) pretty decent drawings. Admittedly, reading virtually the same specifications time after time can get a little repetitive, not to mention boring, but as well as the boats’ histories we learn a lot about the companies involved and their histories. Such is the detail recorded, that even the legendary Turbina gets a mention. I really learned a lot about the companies involved in designing and building these wonderful craft. One fact that I didn’t know was that Vospers carried out most of the design and development work as a private venture after failing to initially interest the Admiralty in the product: rather like De Havilland did with the Mosquito after getting no interest from the Air Ministry! - Maybe the ‘experts’ aren’t such experts after all?

The book also goes into similarly deep detail about the armaments, the power-plants and very interestingly, the bridge developments over the years of production.

All in all, a truly fascinating book, if at full price (£40) a little expensive. A book that I feel has quite a limited market, but a market that will always exist. If you want details about these often ignored craft, this is the book for you. I’m more than happy to run to 41/2
anchors, it was well worth the time taken reading it.