Escort and Minesweeper Weapons of WW2, John Lambert ed. Norman Friedman

Escort and Minesweeper Weapons of WW2, John Lambert ed. Norman Friedman

Rating
4
John Lambert (1927-2016), technical draughtsman, sometime RN stoker and later policeman, left a vast collection of beautiful detailed drawings featuring the armament of our small ships in WW2, drawing on both official and Vickers sources,with the assistance of the NMM. He had the model maker in mind for whom the necessary clarity of upper deck equipment could likely not be obtained from photographs.

The editor (who already had a nibble at this subject in 1979) led this book with a previous 176 page volume relating to destroyers. Some destroyer armaments, such as the ubiquitous twin 4" that can be seen on board HMS Belfast, were relegated to this follow-up volume covering escorts (including Hunts) and minesweepers. The drawings section opens with 18 pages of broadside, plan, detail and other drawings of complete ships including several variants of the Flower-class corvettes.

This book is far more than the title suggests. The drawings are preceded by the editor's erudite and lavishly illustrated 48 page summary of the development of these ships and their weaponry, including sweep gear and Asdics, from WW1 onwards. We see how the RN equipped itself with small ships of all sorts to provide convoy protection, minesweeping and otherwise as a new sort of warfare was thrust upon it in WW1. We then see how it tried to prepare for WW2 with too-tight budgets and then the building programme unleashed in WW2, discussing the sorts of ships and their equipment. This takes us up to the post-WW2 legacy ships, the frigates and Algerine-class minesweepers (one of those became the Greek royal yacht) that entered service towards the end of WW2 and were still familiar decades later. The sloop HMS Crane, later 'Black Swan class frigate', had the dubious distinction of being the only HM ship to suffer air attack between the Korean War and Falklands.

In all cases wartime improvements meant extra sailors crammed into accommodation some of which space had had to go to the new equipment. In the Flower class corvettes the crush must have been dire.

Although the focus is on WW2, as above many of the ships and their kit continued in service for another quarter of a century, allowing this reviewer to have personal experience of such as the twin 4”, the Oerlikon, Squid, the Oropesa sweep and the LL magnetic loop depicted in the book. Some of the frigates, designed originally for North Atlantic service, ended up in the rather warmer Persian Gulf and Far East.

Will it fit your bookcase? 11 ½" x 10". The presentation by Seaforth is superb; my rating reflects the fact that the detail is so fine grain as to make the book a bit niche, an unavoidable result of editing down from the original much larger page sizes; but that doesn't fairly reflect the service Seaforth have done in publishing this material for future users.

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