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.