The eagerly awaited Allied Torpedo Boats by Les Brown and John Lambert is now available, and it does not disappoint the British Vosper and Thornycroft MTB or US Higgins and Elco PT-Boat modeller and enthusiast. The high quality large hardcover book is in itself a joy to hold and browse and will sit proudly next to the best reference books on your shelf.
The many high resolution photos are first rate printed on the high quality glossy paper, as are the numerous plans and drawings by John Lambert and Al Ross.
The book starts with a good look at the inception of Coastal Forces craft in WWI and the slow development in the inter war years, with the massive personal contribution made by Hubert Scott-Paine being described in full. The WWII development is staged in order of the pennant number groups of each of the successive MTB batches and fully describes the evolution of the Vosper design including those built by other yards in the UK and the USA under licence, and also of many US lend-lease boats (but not including the ex Canadian Power Boat MTBs 332-343, the Higgins MTBs 419-423, or the JS White "Polish" MTBs 424-429. Several prototype boats are not mentioned either; MTBs 100,101,106,107,neither of the 108s, 109 or 539). It is stated that the British Power Boat Co 71.5ft MGB/MTB design is not to be included due to lack of space. One imagines co-auther John Lambert has Allied Coastal Forces of World War II vol. 3 - British Power Boat Co designs in mind, and does not want to repeat material about to be published in this new book, or perhaps this is just very wishful thinking. (Or possibly another ShipCraft volume concentrating on MGBs and their evolution into MTBs) either way it leaves the reader hanging, as previously so much is said about Hubert Scott-Paine and his pre-war designs and how essential they were to the whole Coastal Forces effort, then fails to mention George Selman's master design which was built in such great numbers and proved so successful. A minor niggle is that the book states simply that MTBs 258-316 were "built in America to drawings provided by Vosper", whereas these boats were built to various designs as follows;
258 BPB 70ft ex PT9
259-268 BPB (Elco built) 70ft ex PT10-19
269-271 Higgins 81ft ex PT5-7
273-274 Fischer 58ft ex PT3-4
275-306 Vosper (licence built)
307-316 Elco 77ft ex PT49-58#
This is probably due to space restraints or overly vigorous editing.
The development of the PT-Boat is outlined, from basic design to weaponry evolution and is of great interest as the yardstick against which the evolution of the British designs must be measured, having had the same starting point. The utimate PT-Boat, the mighty 80ft Elco, based on the design of Hubert Scott-Paine, is truly a force to be reckoned with in the later years with such a wide array of effective gun and rocket armament (and torpedo, once US torpedo performance was sorted).
All available (and some no longer available) MTB and PT model kits are reviewed, with photos, providing an essential in-depth guide to what is available to the modeller.
All the colour schemes and many good colour photos of the PT-Boats follow, then the technical chapters on methods and evolution of construction, armament and appearance of all the boats including yet more excellent detail photos and drawings.
The similarity to Allied Coastal Forces of World War II vol. 2 cannot be overlooked, especially when contemplating the omission of the BPB MTBs. This previous book was subtitled "Vosper MTBs and US ELCOs", perhaps a similar subtitle would have benefitted the new book, which states on the back cover that all the most important types of (short) MTBs and PT Boats are covered.
To sum up it has to be said the book is excellent, providing essential technical material to the modeller whilst informing the enthusiast and casual reader alike, it will surely draw from the latter group to add them to the former. Failing in my view only in what is omitted rather than in what is contained. If only it had been published a few years earlier my own Vosper MTB and PT-Boat models would have benefitted enormously!