British escort destroyers of WWII

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British Escort Destroyers of of the Second World War. ShipCraft Number 28. by Les Brown. Published by Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, 2022. ISBN 978-1-3990-8175-7

Reviewed by David Hobbs

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Les Brown has a considerable reputation as a model maker and his previous titles in the Seaforth ShipCraft series on British destroyers have been critically well reviewed.  A further book is, therefore, welcome and this new title is well up to his usual high standards.

Although aimed principally at model makers, it also contains a wealth of information about the ships that is not immediately available elsewhere with a bibliography for those who wish to carry out further research.  The first section fills sixteen of the book’s sixty-four pages to give a concise description of the four distinct types that made up the Hunt class, the former USN Town class, the V and W class conversions, the R and S classes and both the Scott and Shakespeare class flotilla leaders. Dutch torpedo boats of the Z5 class that operated under RN control are also included.  The term ‘British’ in the title is taken to include Commonwealth ships and, from an RAN perspective, the ships described include HMA Ships Stuart and Vampire.

The various classes are well illustrated with black and white photographs and later sections of the book contain coloured drawings of typical camouflage schemes backed up by some black and white photographs to show how they appeared in service.  Lastly there are seven pages of detailed line drawings that show the ships’ armament and specific appearance at various stages of the war.  Both the colour camouflage drawings and the line drawings are by George Richardson and they are to a very high standard.  Six pages detail the modifications made to the various classes as the war progressed.  Overall this book offers a valuable ‘one-stop’ reference source for those interested in the ships of this period.

For those with an interest in making models of warships this book is an even more useful reference source with a twenty-eight page section describing kits on the market from which a range of escort destroyers can be made in scales ranging from 1:72 to 1:700.  As in the earlier titles finished models have been photographed in colour to show the accuracy that can be achieved, among them  the Tamiya 1:700 plastic kit of HMAS Vampire.  In addition to plastic, other models have been created fashioned from resin, metal, wood and scratch-build using a variety of materials.  Two of the completed models showcased are the working, radio-controlled models of the Hunt class destroyers Hambledon and Melbreak.  Both are superbly detailed and offer outstanding examples of what can be achieved.

Overall this is an excellent source for anyone interested in making models of ships but it offers much more than that to readers with an interest in the ships with which the British Commonwealth fought the Second World War.  I have always felt that that the best way of learning about an unfamiliar ship is to try to draw it, or better still, make a small model of it.  Both techniques are helped by this book which also gives details of armament, fittings and appearance.  It will be joining other ShipCraft reference books in my technical archive and I thoroughly recommend it to a wide range of readers.

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