Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Flower class corvette

Probably my favourite Second World War warship, the Flower Class corvettes (known as Action class gunboats in the USA) were built by the British as a cheap and fast means of protecting the Atlantic convoys which were bringing valuable supplies to the British isles from America. Based on a whaling ship design, the Flowers were rough, raw and utterly practical. They were built to kill U boats as cheaply and effectively as possible, and armed for that purpose with two Mk.II depth charge throwers and two depth charge rails with 40 depth charges (you can see them on the stern of the ship on the image below). The main gun on the fore deck was a 4 inch BL Mk.IX, and this was originally backed up with numerous secondary automatic weapons, usually .50 Vickers and .303 Lewis machine guns. Later these were replaced with heavier Pom Pom's and Oerlikon 20mm auto-cannons. Later versions were also armed with the effective Hedgehog mortar. Don't you just love those British weapon names. They sound so innocent.

What I find most appealling about these pint sized war ships is their utilitarian shape; due to their heritage, they look like big armed trawlers, guns piled on top and comfort not even an after thought. The open bridge would have been great for spotting U boats on the prowl, but something beyond uncomfortable in the North Atlantic on a winters night. Brave little ships crewed by men doing a hard job. Operationally, the Flowers were very effective, espcially once the British established the (equally quaintly named) 'Huff Duff' high frequency radio direction finder system and installed the early sonar system known as ASDIC onto the ships. It got so that being a U-boat mariner was the most dangerous service of the entire war and Karl Dönitz was crying himself to sleep every night.

I wouldn't mind building a model of a Flower for a Rocketman game, I even had intended to do so originally instead of my current plan which is to build a Turkish destroyer, but the dates are wrong. The first Flower was launched in mid 1940.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Good post!

Subject of the "Cruel Sea" which I did at school for my exams - the one good book they gave me, even if they did have to go and spoil it by making me analyse it to death!!

moif said...

Can you recommend it?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Yes - I think I can.. I really liked it.. it's also a good film but the book conveys the pressure (and the fear/terror) better..

moif said...

Added it to my Amazon list.

Oleg said...

Added to my list as well (going to England soon, and I can pick up books without paying VAT).

I'm not *such* an enthusiast about military hardware, but have always liked 'cheap and effective'.

There should be models... the RM timeline is going to be flexible in any case.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...


...bit expensive though... :)

moif said...

Yes, though if I were into 1/72 scale ww2, I'd be tempted to buy it then cut the bottom of the hull off and mount it as an element.

Speaking of models, I once saw images of a guy who'd made a model of Liverpool harbour during the war (complete with two Flowers)

I saved the images but I can't remember where they came from.

Image one

Image two

moif said...

If you look at the bottom of the first image, you can see a ship of the same size and shape as le Mollusc

Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

I always loved the Flower class as well, and the Frigates though I forgot their name. You could once buy an Airfix Flower Corvette at 1:32, I had a friend who did.