Atlantic Escorts

...from Seaforth Publishing

Title: Atlantic Escorts
Author: David K Brown
Publisher: Seaforth Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-3990-2004-6

This is a new 176-page paperback edition of a book first published back in 2007. It focuses on the design of the ships used as Escorts, their equipment in terms of armament, radar and asdic, and the changes that were made as technology and tactics improved over the course of the war.
Spread over 10 chapters it is essentially in chronological order, detailing the developments of the Allied anti-submarine escorts used in the battle of the Atlantic, the one battle which remained in progress from the beginning to the end of the war. It isn't the story of what happened in that battle, rather the technical side of warship development to meet the U-boat threat. It describes the early destroyers, the R and S Classes, the vessels that remained in service from WW1. There are others, the V and W Classes along with various classes of Sloop. Other developments include both radar and asdic, and some very clear explanations of how the equipment worked, the way water density affected asdic performance and more. Then there is the development of the well known Flower Class Corvette and on with the arrival of the flush-deck destroyers and coast guard cutters supplied by the USA, before we get to more modern types, such as the Black Swan and Captain class vessels among plenty of others. The designs had to cater for a series of factors which are all well explained, including cost, shipyard capabilities and capacity, range, engine type, seakeeping, armament, detection equipment and crew comfort. Even the importance of the breaking of the Enigma code was an important factor. These are the design stories of the vessels, as well as the way they were operated and the effectiveness of their weapon systems. All are well explained in a clear and readable way. Add to all this there are plenty of archive images to illustrate the text, and plenty of some of the marvellous detailed drawings from John Lambert, illustrating systems such as depth charge throwers, hedgehog and squid systems. In addition to all this, there are an additional 4 appendices which give even more interesting detail.
The book has been written by an author who was once the Deputy Chief Naval Architect for the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, so someone who really knows his subject and can speak on it with authority. Thankfully, he is also able to explain all these technicalities in a very readable and in a way that is easily understandable by the non-technical reader. I love this kind of technical details and found this a fascinating read. If you have an interest in the naval escorts that worked with the Atlantic Convoys during WW2, I think this one really deserves a place on your bookshelf.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.

Robin