The waters of the Atlantic were of decisive importance for all parties to the conflict in World War II. The Allies needed to defend with all their might the routes along which the Atlantic convoys were going. After all, it was they who were subsequently destined to change the balance of power in Europe.
The British Royal Navy in 1939 revived a class of ships that significantly influenced the fighting in the Atlantic. Flower-class corvettes, semantically corresponding to their name, performed various tasks in good faith. Moreover, it was they who became a real symbol of victory in the Atlantic theater of operations.
After the realization by the British Admiralty that war in Europe was not far off, a number of programs were created to improve fleet metropolis. In particular, the modernization of the fleet included the creation of simple and inexpensive ships that could be built at almost any shipyard.
Southern Pride after the makeover
The work was started by the shipbuilding company Smith's Dock Co. Ltd South Bank upon receipt of specifications. British engineers chose the whaling ship Southern Pride as the structural base for creating corvettes. It was requisitioned and converted into a warship. The new corvettes provided by the military program of 1939 received color names, and thus the entire series was included in history under the general name - Flower.
Canadian HMCS Moose Jaw. 1941
Corvettes of this type were built at several dozen shipyards both in the UK and Canada. However, those built overseas did not receive "flower" names. More than 50 ships left the stocks of Harland & Wolff, one of the largest shipyards.
Due to the short hull length of 62,5 meters, the first corvettes, which were designed for coastal patrols, had incredible maneuverability. They could circulate with minimal roll, and its diameter was equal to the length of only two hulls.
The ship had a steam engine, which was borrowed from the design of the Southern Pride prototype. Due to the power plant with a capacity of 2750 liters. With. a corvette with a displacement of a thousand tons had a speed of 16 knots.
The size and displacement of the corvettes did not allow them to have great firepower. Initially, the ships were armed with one 102-mm cannon and a 40-mm anti-aircraft gun "pom-pom", so named because of the characteristic sound of firing. Also, anti-aircraft weapons were represented by several machine guns.
Corvette New Westminster
Corvettes had poor stability and were constantly flooded due to their short noses. So at the slightest disturbance, the ship became a "torture chamber" for the crew. Therefore, English sailors came up with a playful saying that the corvette "rolled on wet grass."
In January 1940, the first "flower" ship, the corvette Gladiolus, was launched. Since the patrol sloops did not have decent air defense and were not designed for long navigation on the high seas, they were supposed to be used for minesweeping and as a coast guard.
However, in connection with the surrender of France in 1940, the plans of the British Admiralty changed. Because the sea communications of Great Britain were subjected to a significant threat from German submarines and aviation. It is curious that after the occupation of the Third French Republic, the Kriegsmarine was replenished with six Flower-class corvettes under construction, four of which entered service.
The Royal Navy recognized the need to defend the Atlantic convoys from submarines, and therefore corvettes began to escort ocean caravans. At first, their use in this capacity was episodic, but over time, due to the lack of escort ships, cheap and simple corvettes began to make up the majority of escort transport ships.
Hedgehog multi-barrel bomb launcher
Due to the fact that the first production ships were not adapted to perform anti-submarine defense tasks, an extensive modernization started. The corvettes received new Hedgehog bombers, the salvo of which consisted of 24 depth charges. Each bomb carried a charge of up to 16 kilograms and posed a very serious threat to the submarine. But due to the lack of necessary experience in handling this weapons, its application did not achieve the predicted result. Also in service were two stern bombers that could use 40 ammunition bombs.
The detection of submarines was carried out using the ASDIC active sonar system, which allows you to accurately determine the depth and distance at which the submarine is located.
Initially, the task of the Flower-class corvettes was to escort only in British waters. After leaving them, transport ships moved on independently. However, such a system was soon recognized as ineffective, and the risk of detection and destruction of caravans increased. Therefore, in the future, corvettes began to escort convoys to the meeting point with US or Canadian guard ships. Having transferred the convoy to the area of responsibility of the ships of the allied state, the escort ships "received" the returning caravan and followed it back.
But for the effective escort of ocean convoys, ships of a larger displacement were required, which would replace the Flower-class corvettes with poor seaworthiness and armament. They were replaced by Castle-class corvettes. They were the result of work on the bugs. For example, the dimensions of the hull were increased, which made it possible to equip the ships with additional weapons, and also increased their stability. The product of the further development of escort ships was the emergence of high-speed frigates of the River type.
HMCS Kincardine. Castle-class corvette
A series of "flower" corvettes turned out to be very numerous: more than 250 ships were built during the Second World War. 33 corvettes were lost in battles.
For English sailors, the Flower type personified the canonical image of an escort ship. These corvettes, whose tasks were originally limited to coastal patrols, were forced to go to the open ocean. Each Atlantic convoy was under their protection, dozens of submarines were sunk by them. Inconspicuous at first, they gradually became a symbol of victory in the Atlantic.
The collection of the Queensland Maritime Museum in Brisbane contains the last surviving representative of the River class, the frigate Diamantina. Find out about the combat path of this ship by watching a video from Wargaming.