British Frigates and Escort Destroyers 1939-45, Angus Konstam

British Frigates and Escort Destroyers 1939-45, Angus Konstam

New Vanguard 319

This book looks at the Hunt class escort destroyers and the River, Loch and Bay class frigates, the mid-sized convoy escorts produced in Britain during the Second World War, falling between the larger destroyers and smaller sloops and corvettes.

We start with a look at the reasons these ships were built and how they were designed. The escort destroyers were a pre-war concept, for a smaller, easier to build version of a destroyer that would be a capable convoy escort, but also suitable for other duties. The frigates were a wartime emergency measure, produced as pure convoy escorts, and of limited use on other duties. Ironically it would be the pre-war Hunt design that contained a major error, making them far less stable than intended and forcing the earlier ships to have two of their six guns and all of their torpedo tubes removed. In contrast the frigate designers started by consulting with the corvette builders, and came up with an effective if limited ship that was a great improvement over the corvette and could be produced in many shipyards that couldn’t produce larger warships. We get some good detail on their designs, including sections on the differences between the types of 4in gun used, and the capabilities of the different anti-submarime weapons.

I like the approach taken in the Escorts in Action section. Instead of trying to fit an account of everything they did into the limited space available, the focus is on a handful of example ships. We follow the Hunt class escort destroyer Atherstone through her battles in the Channel and the River class frigate Swale on escort duty in the Atlantic. These two ships had very different wars – the Atherstone was involved in constant combat with German surface warships, while the Swale escorted more than 24 convoys, almost always without even detecting a U-boat (although she did sink U-302).

This is a good introduction to these small but valuable warships.

Design and Development
Escorts in Action

Author: Angus Konstam
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 48
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2023

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