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The Sea Shall Not Have Them - question about the watercraft

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The Sea Shall Not Have Them - question about the watercraft

Old 27th May 2018, 22:29
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The Sea Shall Not Have Them - question about the watercraft

For some reason last evening I tucked into this 1954 WW2 film about the RAF's Air Sea rescue of downed airmen in the Channel and North Sea. A little poking around about the craft that were used revealed a comment that they had three Merlins and could make 56 knots. .

56 knots? Probably not on the Channel waters! Impressive looking craft - must have been a treat to throttle up the three and put her through her paces.

Finally realized that the combination of the film's title and the lead actors was what prompted Noel Coward's comment.
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Old 28th May 2018, 00:58
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I always thought that the wartime ones were fitted with Napier Sea-Lion engines and the post war ones had marine versions of Griffons.
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Old 28th May 2018, 00:59
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RAF Pinnis - or something like that. There is nothing but the story of a pilot drawing a penis in the sky. FFS! Search engine, GROW UP.

Anyway, Walton and Frinton Yacht Club c 1970. My pal's dad had one converted some years before. Two diesels instead of the Merlins. It even had a bathroom. Yes, a bath, across the stern. She was called the Earn. Her tender was Pay As You. That is still used by the club.

At that time, I had a few bob and seriously thought of buying the Earn as a family plaything. The old boy, boss of a shipping company, was fearful that I might not be able to afford to run it. He was used to very large bills coming in, and had no concept of anyone repairing their boats, or cars, themselves. I got an aircraft instead. Probably a good job, the Earn was made of plywood, and while very fast, was not long-term tough. G-AXGE is still in fine fettle by the look of her - 50 years later. (I can't believe it. )

Tony Feathersone, the eldest son, may be remembered by a few of you. Way back, he was the tallest fighter pilot in the RAF. He was IIRC, the Commodore of the Yacht club. At some stage he became involved in selling? the Lake amphibious single engined aircraft.

He often wintered in St Kitts, and being of feisty nature, went out into the garden when he suspected intruders. He was shot dead. Our pal, the younger brother, became 'unwell' and died at an early age.
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Old 28th May 2018, 01:37
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One may presume perhaps a bit of exaggeration in some channels (no pun intended). I note that the HSL (High-Speed Launch) had 3x500hp Napier Sea Lion W-12-cylinder engines and could make thirty-six knots. But perhaps there was an improved version with Merlins. They were called "the Spitfire of the Seas" because their manufacturer, British Power Boat Company, was founded by Hubert Scott-Paine, previously owner of Supermarine. It is interesting how much - cross-fertilization - there was between the HSL rescue boats and the British Motor Torpedo Boats, some of which had the same "whaleback" deckline as the HSLs.

Compare the HSL lines: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_T...ombo_c1943.jpg
....to at least one BPBC torpedo-boat design, sold to Electric Launch Co. (Elco) in the US as a protoype for one version of our own PT boats (thus the American flag and PT-9 designation in this photo): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britis...on_DC_1940.jpg

It is also interesting to note the "aircraft-style" glazed .303 turrets initially installed.

I'm glad you posted this, since this is our Memorial Day Weekend, and the movie channels over here are showing loads of WW2 movies, and yesterday I just happened to watch They Were Expendable, about a PT-boat squadron trapped by the Japanese invasion of the Phillippines, coincident with Pearl Harbor (co-starring John Wayne, of course). That had already triggered a desire to refresh my knowledge of the type and their history. Of note, the U.S. also produced Crash Rescue Boats built along the same lines as our own PTs - plus rescue gear, minus torpedos.

In "Plywood Derby" trials in the summer of '41 among U.S. PT designs, the Elco based on the British design was fastest (39.72 kts), but tended to pound more in rough seas (to the point of structural damage), so the initial contracts went to Huckins and Higgins**. However, by the end of the war, Elco, with a revised hull design and Packard engines, had built more PTs (326) than any other model.
____________________
**Later famous for "the Higgins Boat" LCVP (Landing craft, vehicle, personnel) used for amphibious landings from Operation Torch to D-Day to the invasion of Okinawa.

Last edited by pattern_is_full; 28th May 2018 at 02:03.
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Old 28th May 2018, 08:39
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This one was one of the earliest :Ship Photos, Container ships, tankers, cruise ships, bulkers, tugs etc and was equipped with the Napier engines. Allegedly, it could make 40 knots but was intended to be used below that speed, and was quoted as capable of 35 kts for a range of 500 miles.
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Old 28th May 2018, 09:05
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We still had a couple of the old double-diagonal, mahogany hull, 63ft LOA ex-RAF pinnaces working as range safety boats in the early 1990's. They were beautifully made, and reasonably fast, but ours were speed restricted because of their age and hull condition. The hulls were never designed to last very long and ours were getting to the point where they were going to be scrapped, mainly due to water having got between the layers of the hull. I did get the chance to see how the hulls were made when one was being repaired during a refit. The strips of mahogany were laid diagonally over each other, with a layer of canvas between the layers.

Last edited by VP959; 28th May 2018 at 09:19.
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Old 28th May 2018, 10:39
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Had a couple of trips on the boat from Bridlington in the 60s. My recollection is that they were very uncomfortable in anything of a modest swell. Exhilarating sound and sense of speed. The trips were 30 minutes out then throw a handful of unwilling pilot’s into the oggin to practice their survival skills. They would then be ‘recued’ by a chopper and slung back in the water again to be re-rescued by us. Then towels and hot tea on the way back to Bridlington. If memory serves me these boats were sold off and tarted up to give pleasure trips. Presumably they were treated to new engines since the originals would have been worth more than the hull.
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Old 28th May 2018, 11:37
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I recall 63ft, despite the Earn having the stern trimmed due to ageing. The bath was put in at that time.

It does sound as though the old boy did me a favour. I remember the vessel had sat itself on a post and just undergone a huge repair - including the sumptuous interior. One thing sticks in my memory. A work bench with a vice in the engine room. No wonder I fell for such a craft.

It was for sale at less than the cost of repair.
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Old 28th May 2018, 11:49
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A friend of mine bought one some years ago without engines of course.

Paperwork with it stated that it originally had three Sea Lions, but only used two. The third was a spare.
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Old 28th May 2018, 12:42
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I remember a trip in one of these as a CCF cadet out of Plymouth (I think) in the early 60s.. We rumbled out of harbour on a single Packard V12 - and fired up the other two once out in the open sea.. Exhilarating!
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Old 28th May 2018, 17:44
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The trips were 30 minutes out then throw a handful of unwilling pilot’s into the oggin to practice their survival skills. They would then be ‘recued’ by a chopper and slung back in the water again to be re-rescued by us.
Tone,

Maybe you rescued me! I was on a UBAS Summer Camp at Binbrook in 1967. After dry-winching at Binbrook, we set off for a day trip to Bridlington in an RAF coach - no Humber bridge in those days, so it was a long drive. As you said, a 30 minute trip offshore and a rendezvous with the Leconfield helicopter. We all took it in turns to jump in (in overalls - no immersion suits) and climb into a dinghy. I distinctly remember looking up at the Whirlwind hovering over me and thinking “I hope he doesn’t have an engine failure right now!” I also remember the wet rope being thrown at my legs, to discharge the static, as I was lowered onto the deck.

Great fun, but that was the last time I swam anywhere in the UK. Tropical seas for me now!
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Old 28th May 2018, 18:45
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Great replies, memories, info, and links. Thank you.
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Old 28th May 2018, 20:00
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During an ATC camp at Andover in 1958 we were treated to a trip in a launch from Calshot up to Southampton.
I remember a hangar full of launches and the 2 cocooned Princess flying boats.Further up Southampton Water we passed the moored Aquila Airways flying boats.
A Russian sail training vessel lowered it's flag to us and the corporal on the wheel shouted out to the crewman to lower our flag.
Which drew a typical RAF response of "what flag?"
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Old 28th May 2018, 20:34
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I, too, saw the cocooned Princess flying boats (and one of the Queens) during summer camp 1956.
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Old 28th May 2018, 23:58
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Drift it might be, but I found it funny.

Old bloke called Reg. Wartime when he wasn't old. He had with him a young chap that was even less old. They went around the UK servicing this kind of vessel.

Sharing, as they did, a wooden billet, he got used to his mate's disturbed dreams. Noisy they were. However, one morning he awoke to a mate snoring his head off but with signs that he'd been less erm, relaxed during the night. The lad's bed was chaotic, and the wall was marked with his scrabblings, but the main indicator of his fitful dreams were the holes punched though the ceiling.
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Old 29th May 2018, 06:36
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Very few of the boats were fitted with Merlins, three of, as only about seventy engines were produced, most used the Lion. The Cromwell tank used a modified Merlin, called the Meteor. Many of the WWII Merlin powered aircraft flying today incorporate Meteor tank engine components. The Meteorite was a V-8 version of the Merlin to be used as a tank transporter engine but few built. The wildest use for a Merlin was as the motive power for a torpedo meant for use in the Pacific, tested but end of war halted development.
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Old 29th May 2018, 07:53
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Interestingly, spares were still being produced, and Meteor engines were still being overhauled, right up until the 1990's, as there were a handful of specialist vehicles (like the Beach Recovery Vehicle, IIRC) that still used that engine.
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Old 29th May 2018, 10:07
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Had a trip in a RAF launch at Gan, circa 1961. I remember being told it was powered by 2 x RR Griffon's.

Dunno what the top speed was, but to this land lubber, it seemed fast.

When I was at Coningsby, 1956-7, we had a MCU at Boston, we looked after their VHF kit for them. But only when firmly tied to the dockside.
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Old 30th May 2018, 05:10
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Only marine use of the RR Griffon that I'm aware of is in race boats.
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Old 30th May 2018, 10:42
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In the mid 60's I spent some time helping out the local ATC detached flight in Bedford. It was run by an elderly. archetypal school master who really didn't do a lot to enthuse the kids. That was until I weadled out of him that he had been the skipper of a ASR boat in the Far East during the war. When hostilities ended, he was given clearance to bring his boat back to the UK. What an adventure that must have been. I convinced him to share his story with the cadets and his image changed almost overnight. He had never thought that they would be interested.
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