Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 17, 2016 19:30:02 GMT 12
This is a great short film on the making of wooden ships in England during WWII for the use as minesweepers, motor patrol boats, fishing boats, etc. Fascinating to see the scale of production in traditional old boat building yards.
I have interviewed a few RNZN men who served on the MTB's and similar type boats.
Weren't the RNZN Farmiles build in NZ using same concept?
The RNZVR provided quite a few men who served as Commanding Officers and First Officers in the RN Coastal Forces primarily in UK home waters and Mediterranian. I regularly visit the Coastal Forces website. For instance this thread has a picture of two MTB both both commanded by Kiwis cfv.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=156#p2351
Coastal forces are quite an amazing story so I have assembled quite a collection of books on the subject. I also have a pair of Italeri 1/35 scale Vesper MTB waiting to to assembled as Kiwi commanded craft.
Last Edit: Sept 17, 2016 12:43:21 GMT 12 by 30sqnatc
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 18, 2016 13:08:36 GMT 12
Yes I guess our Fairmiles were much the same in construction. I wonder what sort of timber they used here. Native or exotic?
I've met a few kiwi sailors who were in the small boats, there were lots of them as captains and first officers as you say, under Scheme B from memory. Some great tales indeed. One chap was on the small boats and got posted to HMS Neptune. He decided he was not so keen on the big ships, and when a notice came out for volunteers for small boats he and four others volunteered and were let off at the next port. Two days later she was sunk in the minefield and almost the entire crew was killed!
I've been reading about the NZ Fairmiles and have gathered this info from various sources including over on the MV Tuhoe thread.
Contracts were awarded in 1941 to four Auckland boatyards to construct a total of 12 Fairmile Class B anti-submarine motor boats. Plans and prefabricated keel framing were provided by the British Admiralty and the hull, decking and superstructure were to be completed with local timber. The stem and sternposts were formed from Pohutukawa and the hull was two layers of Kauri planking. Engines, ordnance and many fasteners and fittings used in their installation were also imported from UK. The first Fairmile was finished in Oct-42 and the last by Dec-43 and along the way there were delays in shipping of components and obtaining sufficient Kauri that prevented the project being completed sooner. During this time the vessels began coastal patrols with six based in Auckland, four in Wellington and two from Lyttelton. However by the end of 1943 there was little further threat of enemy attack in the vicinity and in January 1944 it was agreed to deploy all the Fairmiles to the Solomon Islands and under the control of US Navy. They sailed in three groups during late February via Noumea and arrived together at Russell Islands in early March organised as the 80th ML and 81st ML flotillas. They commenced anti-submarine patrols in the Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Russell Islands area. The launches added to the existing RNZN presence in the Campaign as the 25th Minesweeping flotilla had already seen much action there .The NZ Army 3rd Division were also deployed nearby as were squadrons of RNZAF aircraft. The Fairmiles continued on patrol and escort duties in the region until they were withdrawn in July-45 and although there had been operational accidents they never engaged in battle with Japanese forces. Consequently all 12 returned to NZ and except for Q411 were soon up for tender.
BRIEF POSTWAR HISTORY: Q400 “Dolphin / Sayandra”– Burned and sunk, Gt Barrier Is. 1980. Q401 “Mahurangi” – Lost, Cook Islands 1954. Q402 “Ngaroma”; Hauraki Gulf Ferry on Gt Barrier service – Sold Sri Lanka 1992. Q403 “Tiare”; Tauranga Ferry – Abandoned Raglan 1957. Q404 Named "Wailana". Q405 “Marlyn" – Severely damaged in Wahine storm, Burnt in Marlborough Sounds 1969. Q406 “Motunui”; Hauraki Gulf Ferry on Waiheke service – Converted to Motel at Waitomo 2006. Q407 “Deborah Bay”; Once owned by Sir Dove-Myer Robinson. Q408 “Karamana II / Colville”; Gulf Ferry on Gt Barrier service – last reported Fiji 1985. Q409 “Iris Moana” ; Returned to Navy as HMNZS Maori P3570 1953-63. From then Gulf Ferry on Waiheke service – Sold to Sri Lanka 1992, beached and abandoned during civil war action 1995. Q410 “La Reta” - Sunk Vanuatu 1977. Q411 “Kahu”; Retained by Navy as HMNZS Kahu P3571 1947-65. From then as backup Gulf ferry in storage. Subsequently sold to private owners – At Whangarei for refit 2016.
Many of the Fairmiles were a familiar sight on Auckland Harbour and provided reliable public transport for decades after their military service was over. Generations of Aucklanders enjoyed the excursions on them around the islands of the Gulf. I haven't yet found mention about the fate of Q404 and Q407 nor if Q402 and Q408 are still afloat. I'm looking forward to any news about their recent history and current status. But it appears that only Q406 and Q411 remain in NZ. Kahu may hold the last chance for preservation.
Yes I guess our Fairmiles were much the same in construction. I wonder what sort of timber they used here. Native or exotic?
Dave, the prefabricated wooden parts: frames, bulkheads and engine bearers were made of an early version of marine grade plywood. It was 9-ply using Phenol-formaldehyde resin “Bakelite” glue to provide water and heat resistance. The rest of the construction of the Fairmile's hull was traditional methods, two layers of Kauri planking laid diagonal and fastened with copper rivets. This was sheathed with copper to provide antifouling and worm resistance. This novel use of plywood had some similarities with the Mosquito although de Havilland used different adhesives. They used casein glue in early production, but this proved to be inadequate and they changed to newly developed Urea-formaldehyde “Aerolite” glue which had superior strength and water resistance. It still continues today in common use for plywood manufacture. So both were using the most advanced laminates available at the time. Resorcinol-formaldehyde resin "Aerodux" became available in 1943 as an alternative and these would only be improved on by the introduction of epoxy and polyester resins after the war. The Fairmile and Mosquito also had one other feature in common – both powered by two V-12 petrol engines. However the Hall Scott Defender produced less than half the horsepower of the Merlin and the Fairmile weighed in at 85 tons which was 10x the fully loaded DH98.
Yes, agreed, a great wee film, and the quality of production is here shown in its best form. So often the films on Youtube seem to be about tenth generation and are basically a travesty of what they were when new. This film has been done justice to, magnificent. Although most of the building techniques illustrated here were of the old school, the final part concentrates exclusively on the Type B Fairmile, the same type as built in NZ. In fact there is practically nothing shown of the Fairmile construction (jig-manufactured plywood formers, double skins of diagonal planking, etc), but some great views of fitting their funnel, launching and then "in action". I have never seen film of these boats in such heavy seas, with the "forefoot" showing sky underneath! Great stuff. Also surprised how gnarly much of the oak logs were, as delivered to the sawmills, guess these were the best available at the time, and everything of any use had to be employed to best advantage. Also takes me back to my youth when you could watch real sawmills in action, with plenty of spinning overhead belts, water spray for cooling and the sawdust flying. David D
When next visiting Waitomo you may care to stay aboard Fairmile Q406 at the Woodlyn Park Motel. Or if your preference is for things Aviation then you could try Bristol Freighter NZ5906. Better still, if you enjoy the experience so much you might even want to make an offer, as the Park is up fo sale right now.
Most of the passengers enjoying an excursion or commute on a postwar Fairmile were probably unaware of it's wartime history nor what had been done to convert it to peacetime use. Crusiing along at sedate speed under diesel power through a harbour swell was very different to the conditions that the Navy crew were equipped for. While in military service the launch had the engine power and armament to pursue and destroy an enemy submarine in the open ocean. At the request of the British Admiralty, the Hall-Scott Motor Car Company designed a V-12 marine engine based on the successful features of their 6-cyl in-line model “Invader”. The result was the Hall-Scott “Defender” 650hp @ 2100rpm; 36 litre capacity; fuel: 100-octane gasoline; weight approx. 2000kg. One of each Model 2268 (R.H. rotation) and Model 2269 (L.H. rotation) were installed amidships on the Fairmile and in front of the fuel tanks which had capacity 9000 litres. They provided max speed 20 knots (37km/h). Depth charges were carried on deck and gun ammunition stored in a magazine in the stern. That amount of volatile fuel aboard was a serious hazard but which had to be accepted as there was no diesel engine available of the same weight that could match the required output. So it was fortunate that none of them ever came under enemy fire as the wooden hull provided little protection and the only armour plate was around the wheelhouse. Even so there was at least one bad accident. While on patrol in the Solomons 27-Apr-44, an explosion and fire occurred aboard Q400. Before control was regained it grounded on a reef and sustained further damage. No injuries were reported, but it was out of action for some time before repaired. When the Fairmiles were withdrawn from service all military equipment would have been removed before they were offered for sale. I haven't yet discovered if that included disposal of the petrol engines. but they would have been totally uneconomic and unsafe to use in ferries and must have been replaced by smaller diesels during conversion. Not all the Gulf ferries were modified the same but probably had similar layout to the Iris Moana which I recall: Messdeck and crew quarters below opened out to become forward passenger compartment; wardroom and magazine below opened out to become rear passenger compartment; full width compartment enclosing upper deck from wheelhouse to stern. Accommodation for over 200 passengers.Engines were 2 6-cylinder diesels, Gardner or similar.
The Hall-Scott Defender was actually a modernised and marinised version of the old WW1 Liberty 12, in other words an aircraft engine. In fact Major E J Hall himself was one of the co-designers of the Liberty series; his partner in crime was Major Jesse Vincent of the famous Packard Motor Car Company. Both freely acknowledged that most of the inspiration for the design, although based on much of the technology refined in their own engines, was freely borrowed from other leading aero engines designed in Germany, the UK, France and Italy. The weight given for the Defender would appear to be in error, as the original aero-engine version weighed only 790 pounds (according to Bill Gunston's World Encyclopaedia of Aero Engines, page 90). A marinised version would likely be a bit heavier, with a more elaborate cooling system of heat exchangars, etc, but still nothing likely to exceed 1,000 pounds, let alone 2,000 kg. The Liberty aero engine was typically rated at about 3 - 400 HP, and later models were still serving well in the USAAC and the RAF up until 1933/34. David D
David, The Defender wasn't a marinised version of an aircraft engine. It was developed from the Invader which was a 1930 Hall-Scott design specifically for marine use. It did not use aero engine materials. The instruction manual gives a nett weight of 3600 pounds for the basic model 2268 which included flywheel, gearbox, waterjacketing etc. I haven't yet found proof of which versions were fitted to the RNZN Fairmiles. If they did have supercharging or reduction gears then the weight increased up to 4125 pounds. The Defender was normally salt water cooled. For fresh water cooling add 850 pounds. E.J.Hall left Hall-Scott in 1930 so didn't have input into the Defender which was developed in 1937. Are you thinking of the Packard 4M-2500 that powered the PT boats and did trace it's heritage to the Liberty ?
Emron, Cannot recall where I read that the H-S Defender was derived form the old Liberty, perhaps in a wartime article in the American "Flying" magazine in a long article about the American "Miami" crash boats in service with the US Army and Navy (and RAF, RAAF, plus three in RNZAF), which were also powered by Defenders. If I am wrong about this, I apologize. However 650 HP from a 2,500 cubic inch engine does seem as if it was fairly underworked, but I guess it would have a very long life, and that perhaps is what they considered most important. And no, I was not thinking of the Packards as used in the wartime PT boats. So far as I know the Packards did not owe much to the Liberty either, having about 50% greater displacement (another 850 cubic inches). However the Packard 2500 was originally developed as an aero engine too, in the late 1920s I believe, mostly used in carrier-based single engine torpedo planes. Its relatively low power output as an aero engine, conversely was far greater when further developed and marinised many years later for the PT-boats. David D
David. I'm no expert on this topic so it's healthy for you to be skeptical of my facts and figures. I was just prompted by this thread to research the subject and have limited access to decent reference material. I've had to sift through a lot of conflicting info, but for once, in this case I came across a reliable source of data.. I still can't find a strong connection between the Liberty and the Defender, other than how E.J. Hall's experience with the Liberty may have influenced his future designs including the Invader. Hall-Scott were out of the aero engine business by 1921 so they were concentrating on marine and road applications when the Invader was developed. Looking again at the specs of the Packard 4M-2500 this was far superior to the Defender. I wonder why the Admiralty didn't select it for the Fairmile instead. I'll have to check on when it came into production and if they did consider it. Even the early version had almost twice the power of the Defender but 30% less weight. If there was a requirement for 2 engines to be fiited (in the event of loss of one to breakdown or battle damage) then the Defender was adequate. Otherwise you would think that a single Packard could have done the job. I'm no naval architect so I guess there are numerous other good reasons for using multiple engines and all of the other high speed launches appear to have used 2 or 3. The Hall-Scott concept of providing a pair of opposite rotating engines was their solution to propellor torque issues and the Fairmile would have sailed more level and steered easier as a result of their use.
Q400 was the first Fairmile to be commissioned but was not the most lucky one. As mentioned above it was badly damaged by explosion, fire and subsequent grounding in April-1944. It was repaired and returned to service after that. On the night of 29-Jan-1945 it was anchored at sea off Lunga Point, Bouganville when a nearby cargo vessel, USS Serpens, exploded while loading depth charges. The Serpens was destroyed and 250 aboard died. Q400 was only 300yards away and falling debris caused major damage on deck. I'm not sure if her crew were ashore at the time but there were no casualties reported amongst them. Once again repairs were done locally and it returned to NZ with the others in July. Under private ownership and named “Dolphin”, in Feb-1947 while moored at Queens Wharf, Wellington it was struck by the bow of the ferry “Tamahine” and once again badly damaged. Repairs were made and returned to service. Loaned to Auckland Coast Guard as training vessel “Cumulus” during mid-1950's and then returned to owner as “Commodore”. Later named "Seandra”(Sayandra ?) until a final accident on 9-March-1980 when it caught fire off Gt Barrier Island and was damaged beyond repair. It was towed ashore and sank in shallow water at Rarohara Bay, Gt Barrier. Eventually broken up and scrapped in 1982.