BRITISH NAVAL WEAPONS OF WORLD WAR II, THE JOHN LAMBERT COLLECTION, VOLUME III – COASTAL FORCES

Reviewed by: Simon Haill

The book is essentially split into two sections: the first 64 pages consist of an introductory essay by the renowned naval analyst Norman Friedman and the second, a plethora of engineering standard drawings by John Lambert. This particular volume concentrates on weapons carried by Coastal Forces Craft which follows two companion volumes already published, one on British destroyers and one covering minesweepers and escorts

John Lambert was a renowned naval draughtsman, whose plans were highly valued for their accuracy and detail by modelmakers and enthusiasts. By the time of his death in 2016 he had produced over 850 sheets of drawings, many of which have never been published. This book is the third of a planned series of albums on selected themes, reproducing complete engineering sheets at large page size, with an expert commentary and captioning.

These drawings are backed by an introductory essay by Norman Friedman, an acknowledged authority on naval ordnance amongst other things. He needs no further introduction to any student of naval history. The first section by Norman Friedman is a comprehensive overview of the story of Coastal Forces from their true inception as a fighting machine in the First World War through the Second World War to their eventual demise in the late 1950s. This introduction will give anyone who wishes to gain a quick informed insight into the history of Coastal Forces all the information they need to know. The black and white photographs in this section are quite simply outstanding. They range from pictures of the craft themselves, close ups of the equipment, machinery and weaponry, used on board and most importantly, pictures of the crew themselves. The faces of these young people are fixed for all time as indeed are their outstanding achievements under the most demanding and often traumatic circumstances.

The second part of the book, comprising some 130 pages, encompasses the most detailed engineering line drawings. The first 20 pages of this section cover details of the craft themselves ranging from the WW1 Coastal Motor Boat (of the type that undertook operations in the Baltic in 1919) all the way through to the Fairmile D which was the ultimate development of the Coastal Forces Craft having the striking power of a corvette.

Every conceivable piece of equipment from the torpedo firing mechanism of a WWI Coastal Motor Boat to the engine clutch of a Fairmile is covered by the most detailed line drawings. It would be perfectly possible to reconstruct and build any RN Coastal Forces Craft from these drawings. Whilst this book would be of immense use to the professional model maker, it will also enable the restoration of existing craft to museum exhibition standard. The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) have already expressed an interest in acquiring a copy of this volume to assist in the restoration of MTB 71 and CMB 331 for the new Coastal Forces Museum, due to open in the summer of 2021. These two craft will be the central exhibits in the Museum.

The book is not cheap and probably would not appeal to the average reader – certainly not something to have on the coffee table perhaps. However, if a reader wishes to know what made Coastal Forces move and fight with all the associated technical detail of construction, weapons and machinery, then this is the book for you.