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ANGUS KONSTAM, Illustrated by TONY BRYAN
BRITISH MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT 1939-45

MTBS LISTED BY PENNANT NUMBER

Number Pennant MTB Type Commissioned Notes
1-12 BPB 60-foot Pre-war MTBs 1-5 converted into Motor Attendance Craft (MACS), 1940-41
13 The pennant number '13' was not used
14-19 BPB 60-foot Pre-war MTBs 14, 18 and 19 converted into Controlled Target Boats (CTs), 1941-42
20-23 Vosper 70-foot September-December 1939 MTBs 20, 21 and 23 sold to the Rumanian Navy, 1940
24-25 Thornycroft 72-foot January 1940
26-27 Thornycroft 55-foot CMB October 1939 Originally built for the Chinese Navy
28 Vosper 70-foot July 1940 Built under license by Thornycroft
29-30 Vosper 70-foot June - July 1940 Built under license by Camper & Nicholson
31-40 Vosper 70-foot September 1940 - May 1941 MTBs 31, 32 and 34 converted into CTs, 1942
41-48 Vosper 72-foot September 1940 - March 1941 Variant built under license by J.S. White
49-56 Thornycroft 75-foot August 1940 - April 1941 All boats converted into War Office Target Towing Launches, 1941-42
57-66 Vosper 70-foot October 1941 - April 1942
67-68 Thornycroft 55-foot CMB March 1941 Originally built for the Finnish Navy
69-70 Vosper 70-foot June 1940 Originally built for the Greek Navy. Both converted into CTs, 1943
71-72 Vosper 60-foot June-July 1940 Originally built for the Norwegian Navy
73 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch October 1941
74 Vosper 70-foot December 1941 Special design
75-85 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch January - August 1942
86 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch May 1942 Built under license by Morgan Giles
87-92 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch June - October 1942 Built under license by Harland & Wolff
93-94 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch September-December 1942 Built under license by Berthon Boat Co. MTB 94 transferred to Free French Navy, December 1942
95-96 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch July-October 1942 Built under license by Morgan Giles. MTB 96 transferred to Free French Navy, November 1942
97-98 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch September - October 1942 Built under license by Morgan Giles. MTB 98 transferred to Free French Navy, October 1942
99 The pennant number '99' was not used
100 BPB 60-foot - Experimental design
101 White 62-foot - Experimental hydrofoil design
102 Vosper 68-foot July 1940 Private venture experimental design
103 Vosper 70-foot June 1941 Experimental design
104-107 Thornycroft 45-foot June 1941 Experimental design
108 Vosper 45-foot - Experimental design
109 Denny 43-foot - Experimental design
110-200 The pennant numbers '110-200' were not used
201-212 White 72-foot June - October 1941
213-217 Thornycroft 55-foot CMB March 1941
218-221 Vosper 70 foot June-September 1941 Originally built for the Greek Navy
222-228 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch February 1942 - May 1943 Built under license by H. Mclean. MTB transferred to Free French Navy, December 1942
229-231 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch February - July 1942 Built under license by McGruer. MTB 229 and 231 transferred to Dutch Navy, July-August 1943
232-235 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch January - June 1942 Built under license by Berthon Boat Co. MTB 235 transferred to Dutch Navy, June 1942
236-239 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch April - December 1942 Built under license by Camper & Nicholson. MTB 236 transferred to the Dutch Navy, August 1943. MTB 239 transferred to Free French Navy, December 1942
240-241 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch February-March 1942 Built under license by Morgan Giles. MTB 240 transferred to the Dutch Navy, June 1942
242-245 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch October - December 1942
246-257 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch May - October 1942 Built under license by J. S. White
258 BPB / Elco 70-foot April 1941 Experimental design. Lend-lease. Formerly USN PT 9, Transferred to Royal Canadian Navy, 1941
259-268 Elco 70-foot November - December 1940 Lend-Lease. Formerly PTs 10-19
269-272 Higgins 81-foot April 1941 Lend-Lease. Formerly PTs 5-8. MTB 272 never commissioned, and remainder transferred to Royal Canadian Navy, 1941
273-274 Fisher 58-foot April 1941 Lend-Lease. Formerly PTs 3-4. Transferred to Royal Canadian Navy, 1941
275-282 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch Built under license by Annapolis Yacht Yard, MD
283-306 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch March - April 1943 Built under license by Harbor Boat Building Co., CA. MTBs 304-306 transferred to Indian Navy, March 1943
307-316 Elco 77-foot July - August 1943
317-326 Elco 77-foot - Lend-Lease order diverted to Soviet Navy
327-331 Thornycroft 55-foot CMB August 1942 Originally built for the Philippine Navy
332-346 The pennant numbers '332-346' were allocated to Vosper, but were not used
347-362 Vosper 70-foot March 1943 - January 1944
363-370 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch December 1943 Built under license by Annapolis Yacht Yard, MD. Lend-Lease to Soviet Navy
371-378 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch November 1943 Built under license by Annapolis Yacht Yard, MD. Lend-Lease to Soviet Navy
379 Vosper 70-foot January 1944 Experimental design
380-395 Vosper 730-foot Type I May 1944 - June 1945
396-411 Vosper 72-foot 6-inch May 1944 Built under license by the R. Jacob Yard, Rl. Lend-Lease. Formerly US PTs 388-399
412-418 BPB 72-foot April 1942 - March 1943 MTB 418 transferred to Royal Netherlands Navy, 1944. MTB 418 redesignated CT 48, 1945
419-423 Higgins 78-foot Spring 1944
424-429 White 73-foot August 1943 - February 1944
430-500 BPB 72-foot March-December 1944 Formerly MGBs. MTB 436-437, 453 transferred to Royal Canadian Navy, 1944. MTB 490 redesignated CT 49, 1945
501-509 Camper & Nicholson 117-foot MGB/MTB February 1941 MTB 501 was an experimental design, and later converted into an MGB. All were redesignated as MGBs
510 Vosper 101-foot December 1943 Experimental design
511-518 Camper & Nicholson 117-foot MGB/MTB Summer 1944
519-522 The pennant numbers '519-522' were allocated to BPB, but were not used
523-537 Vosper 73-foot Type II All post-war
538 Vosper 74-foot 6-inch Post-war Experimental design
539 Sanders Roe 75-foot - Experimental design

Note: In addition, the pennant numbers 601-800 and 5001-5029 were allocated to Fairmile 'D' MGB/MTBs. As these were more properly classified in the navy as MGBs, they have been omitted from this list. The pennant numbers 540-600 and 801-5000 were never used.

COLOUR PLATE COMMENTARY

A1: MTB 30

One of the three 70-foot Vosper boats ordered in September 1938, MTB 30 was built at the Camper & Nicholson Yard at Gosport and delivered to the Royal Navy in June 1939. This became the standard design for British MTBs of the early part of the war, as 61 of the type were built. It was armed with two 21-inch torpedo tubes and a twin .5-inch Vickers machine gun in a turret behind the bridge, although frequently single and double .303-inch Lewis guns were added to the armament when available. Powered by three Isotta-Fraschini 1,200hp engines, it could attain speeds of up to 42 knots at 2,400rpm. MTB 30 was lost after striking a mine in the North Sea on 18 December 1942.

A2: MTB 213

A pre-war Thornycroft 55-foot design, these Coastal Motor Boats (CMBs) were based on the 40-foot CMBs used by the Royal Navy during the First World War. Although MTB 213 was built as a speculative venture by Thornycroft during 1940, nine of the 12 vessels of its type were being built for foreign navies when the war began, and were duly pressed into British service. The 55-foot Thornycroft was a relatively poor design, built to drop two 18-inch torpedoes astern of the boat during an attack. Machine gun armament of these boats varied, but MTB 213 used the standard fit of two twin .303-inch Lewis guns mounted forward and aft of the bridge. MTB 213 was sunk by German aircraft in Suda Bay in Crete on 23 May 1941.

The crew of MTB 31, a 70-foot Vosper boat, photographed after sinking a German merchant ship off the Dutch coast in November 1940. The commander, Lt. Denis Jermain RN, is second from the left in the front row. (Private collection, Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport)

B: ATTACK ON A GERMAN CONVOY, SEPTEMBER 1942

It took time to perfect Motor Torpedo Boat tactics after the Germans began running coastal convoys through the English Channel in the summer of 1940. The first attack against a German coastal convoy was made in September 1940, but problems of radar and radio interception methods meant that encounters were rare. It took a year for the problems to be overcome, and from September 1941 the MTB flotillas were able to maintain a steady pressure on German coastal shipping. Tactics were also refined, and it was found that an approach under full power was tantamount to suicide, as every German gunner for miles could hear the boat's approach, instead it was common to wait in the darkness under secondary (silent) engines, then when the target vessel was within sight the boat would crash-start its main engines. The torpedo attack would be launched at close range, and the boats would then circle round and escape at high speed in the confusion.

This plate shows just such an attack, conducted by 72-foot 6-inch Vosper boats of the 21st MTB Flotilla off the Dutch Texel estuary in September 1942. The squadron commander, Lt. P.G. Dickens RN, became an expert in MTB tactics. His boat (MTB 234) and his consort (MTB 230, Lt. J.P. Perkins RNVR commanding) have just fired their torpedoes at German merchant shipping, and are in the process of turning away and racing for their covering force, a group of three MGBs located a few miles seaward. The MTBs sank one merchantman and damaged an armed trawler during this attack.

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