The recent announcement of the Italeri 1/35 scale Vosper, and a purchase of the ELCO Boat several years ago, as yet I have still not built, prompted me to have a look around for some useful reference material.
I am more a land–lubber than a ship builder so I need all the help I can get when it comes to boat building. This publication caught my eye as it is a book directed towards model makers. Not normally the type of book I’d buy, but this one featured information on both the ELCO Boat and the Vosper so I thought, great two birds with one stone.
The book is written by John Lambert and Les Brown and the color profiles are by George Richardson and drawings by John Lambert and Al Ross.
This is a book directed toward model boat builders and the focus is on Allied Torpedo Boats as one would expect from the title. Coming in hardback A4 format, the book consists of 128 quality pages of text, with both color and black and white photographs and detailed drawings of a wide range of MTB’s.
So let’s have a look at what is inside.
Coastal Forces Deployment 1915 - 1945
The book is split into 9 chapters/sections. Pages 3 to 49 cover the development of the Allied Coastal Boats and their development over the period 1915 to 1945. This is a really well put together opening, charting the development of the main British and US Boats and is accompanied with detailed drawings of the main featured boats.
This opening Chapter is split into sub chapters. After a brief Introduction it covers the period Between the Wars, then moves onto Early Wartime British MTB’s, followed by The Engine Crisis, Pre War US Naval Developments, The British Wartime Programmes, and Wartime PT Boat Development.
So what you have here is a technical history of the deployment and development of both British and American Torpedo Boats. This is a really well put together opening, and is accompanied by detailed drawing of:
- The 55ft Coastal Motor Boat
- The 60ft 1937 MTB built by the British Power Boat Company
- Vosper’s 68ft Private Venture Boat
- Thornycroft’s 71ft 9in MTB's
- Thornycroft’s Anti-Submarine MTB
- Vosper’s MTB 74 (The modified boat used in the St Nazaire Raid)
- The White built version of the Vosper
- Vosper’s 73ft Type II MTB
- Elco 77ft PT Boat (Apr 42)
- Elco 77ft PT Boat (Aug 42)
- Elco 77ft PT Boat (Mar 43)
- Elco 80ft PT Boat (Aug 43)
- Elco 80ft PT Boat (Aug 45)
- Higgins 78ft PT Boat (Aug 44)
The drawings are linked to boat numbers, so that is a major plus too.
The drawings and text are complimented with excellent photographs of a wide variety of MTB's and comparative data tables are given for the Early Vosper’s built in 1938, 1939 and 1940 so you can see at a glance the specification, armament etc. A similar table is provided for the Late Vosper’s for the 1942, 1943 Type I and 1944 Type II boats. The US boats are not missed out with PT Boat specifications on page 46 and PT Boat Armament on Page 47.
If this was the entire book contained it would be well worth the money but there is a lot more to come.
Pages 49 to 62 detail the model products available across a wide range of Scales for Allied MTB's, everything from 1/2000 Scale to 1/24 Scale and in between. Each product has a short write up, a mini review if you like. Also included in this section is a similar breakdown of Accessories available, and page 62 gives a summary of Coastal Forces Model Boats that are available. So you have here a concise reference for the kits available, what they consist of and what accessories are currently available. Does this section cover all known kits?...well I am certainly not qualified to say but less the recent announcements it certainly gives you a wide choice of scales and models to work with.
Pages 63 to 75 are given over to a photographic display of some excellent kits built by model makers, Shaun Symonds’s PT 194 being particularly striking.
Pages 76 to 81 cover some of the wide and varied color schemes used on the boats, so a very useful painting reference we have here. As well as a series of small plates there are also a selection of both color and black and white photographs of the actual craft.
Starting on page 82 we get back to some really useful data on the construction of the boats.
Pages 86 to 110 give a comprehensive coverage of the type of armament used on the boats. This chapter is divided into to detailed sections, one on Torpedo and Discharge Gear 1915 to 1945, one on MTB guns, one on PT Boat Guns and one on Increased Firepower. Lots of good reference pictures and diagrams are provided so you can get a good understanding of what weapons armed the boats and the comparative tables mentioned above will give you the right time period.
This section touches on some of the external features that model makers may have concerns about. It cannot cover all the modifications that were made to the various boats over the years but does concentrate on the main areas of concern for the model-maker. It is sub-divided into Superstructure and Masts, Rigging and Aerials
A final short section at the end looks briefly at experimental craft and this is followed by a list of Selected References for the Drawings, Books and Model Manufacturers Details.
This book is many things, a brief but detailed history of the MTB;s, a technical manual with detailed drawings and diagrams, a model guide to who sells what and where, an accessories guide and an inspirational/enjoyable book with excellent representations of a wide variety of MTB's by various modelers in a variety scales.
It contains information on the most important type of MTB's, color reference guides, short critical reviews and reference sources.
It is excellently written and presented with good quality photographs and drawings, although on the drawings you’ll need a magnifying glass to read the associated data, but that is understandable given the drawing are replications of the actual plans and were not originally intended for A4.
The book has already become a well thumbed publication, sparked several ideas and provided a wealth of information in a nice user format.
If you have an interest in MTBs then this is a real plus for the modeling community. Regardless of what scale you build in there is information in this book that will help.
It is not a how to build the perfect MTB type book, but will provide the modeler with a high amount of factual data and reference material to aid your build.
Alternatively if you are just thinking about building one of these small ships then the reviews and accessories section will be of great use.
The book offers excellent value for money, but like all things shop around for your price.