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A motor torpedo boat is a fast torpedo boat, especially of the mid 20th century. The motor in the designation originally referred to their use of petrol engines, typically marinised aircraft engines or their derivatives, which distinguished them from other naval craft of the era, including other torpedo boats, that used steam turbines or reciprocating steam engines. Later, diesel-powered torpedo boats appeared, in turn or retroactively referred to as "motor torpedo boats" for their internal combustion engines, as distinct from steam powered reciprocating or turbine propulsion.
Though other navies built similar petrol-powered craft, the specific designation "motor torpedo boat", abbreviated to "MTB", is generally used for craft of the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Canadian Navy boats.
During the Second World War, the US Navy built several classes of marine V-12-powered PT boat, whose hull classification symbol "PT" stood for "patrol, torpedo", but which were grouped into motor torpedo boat squadrons.German diesel-powered torpedo boats of the Second World War were called S-boote (Schnellboote, "fast boats") by the Kriegsmarine and "E-boats" by the Allies. These large craft (well over 100 ft overall) were not known as motor torpedo boats at the time, but later have been grouped with them by some. Italian MTBs of this period were known as Motoscafo Armato Silurante ("MAS boats", torpedo-armed motorboats). French MTBs were known as vedettes lance torpilles ("torpedo-launching fast boats"). Soviet MTBs were known as торпедные катеры (torpyedniye katyery; "torpedo cutters", often abbreviated as TKA). Romanian MTBs were known as vedete torpiloare ("torpedo fast boats").
The role of the motor torpedo boat has been absorbed in modern navies by the fast attack craft.
Torpedo boats were designed for missions that variously involved high speed, operating at night, low speed ambush, and manoeuvrability to allow them to get close enough to launch their torpedoes at enemy vessels. With no significant armour, the boats relied upon surprise and agility at high speed to avoid being hit by gunfire from bigger ships.
The Royal Navy started developing particularly small, agile, and fast petrol-powered torpedo boats in the early 20th century, shortly before the beginning of the First World War. Known as coastal motor boats, these were only around 15 long tons (15 t). They were joined by the Italian Navy's MAS boats, of 20–30 long tons (20–30 t) displacement. MAS 15 was the only motor torpedo boat in history to sink a battleship, the Austro-Hungarian vessel Szent István in 1918. In the Second World War, Britain fielded a variety of MTBs, which were operated by Coastal Forces. A similar size boat with a different role in the Second World War was the BPB 63 ft (19 m) high-speed launch used by the RAF for air-sea rescue operations. Diesel-powered MTBs entered the Royal Navy with the Darkclass patrol boat in 1954. The last MTBs in the Royal Navy were the two Brave-classfast patrol boats of 1958, which were capable of 50 knots (93 km/h).
Many boats were designated MTBs. A variety of designs were adopted and built. For instance, a 55 ft (17 m) type, capable of 40 kn (46 mph; 74 km/h), was shown in 1930.
The following is an incomplete list of British motor torpedo boats:
Commander Peter Du Cane CBE, the managing director of Vosper Ltd, designed a motor torpedo boat as a private venture in 1936. She was completed and launched in 1937. She was bought by the Admiralty and taken into service with the Royal Navy as MTB 102.
The installed powerplant of three Isotta Fraschini Asso V-18 3,300 hp (2,500 kW) which gave her a speed of 48 kn (55 mph; 89 km/h) light and 43 kn (49 mph; 80 km/h) when carrying a full load.57-litre petrol engines delivered
Armament was two 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes; depth charges, machine guns and 20mm Oerlikon were trialled on her.
MTB 102 was the fastest wartime British naval vessel in service. She was at Dunkirk in 1940 for the evacuation of British and French troops, where she served as Rear-Admiral Frederic Wake-Walker's flagship after the destroyer HMS Keith was sunk. She carried Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower when they reviewed the fleet before the Invasion of Normandy in 1944.
They were based on the British Power Boat Company Type Two 63 ft HSL (high-speed launch) originally designed for the Royal Air Force for air-sea rescue but reduced to 60 ft (18 m) in length. They could carry two 18-inch (457 mm) torpedoes and achieve a maximum speed of 33 kn (38 mph; 61 km/h). The Royal Navy ordered their first (of a total of 18) in 1936. These entered service as MTB numbers 1 to 12 and 14 to 19. In the early days of the war, they were painted with different numbers and photos distributed to the press to give the impression the Royal Navy had more than they actually did. One photo was sent to the American monthly Popular Science showing the number twenty-three.
Initially ordered as an MGB in 1941; they were converted to MTBs (412-418, 430-432, and 534-500) from 1942 by addition of two 18-inch tubes and a 6-pdr gun. Although 10 tons heavier after conversion they still made 39 knots.
Built as a private venture, the 45-ft MTBs were scaled down versions of larger Vosper design and intended to be carried by larger vessels. As MTB 104 to 107, these were taken up by Admiralty but found to be poor seakeeping and not used for combat.
Although various boat lengths were produced by Vosper for the Royal Navy, the "70 ft" boat was produced from 1940. The design was produced with modifications as MTBs 31-40, 57-66, 73-98, 222-245, 347-362, 380-395 and 523-537.
Using three Packard V1-12 marine engines, they were capable of around 37 kn (43 mph; 69 km/h). Early models carried two 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, twin 0.50 in (13 mm) machine guns in a "bin" behind the bridge and two 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns. They could also carry four depth charges.
The Vosper 70 was also used in other navies, such as Romania's, which acquired three in 1939, with NMS Viscolul the lead ship of the class.
Between 1943 and 1945, the "Vosper 73ft" design appeared, the type II differed in that it carried a heavier gun armament at the expense of two torpedo tubes. The Type II did not enter service before the end of the war but was in use after the war.
The first two (MTB 24, 25) were actually 74 ft prototypes for the design ordered in 1938. Powered by three Isotti-Franschini engines they could reach 37 knots. The later ones, MTBs 49-56, had four Thornycroft RY12 engines but were too slow for operations.
A development of the Vosper designs, White had been building under sub-contract. After construction passed to Polish Navy as S5-S10. Armed with two 18-inch torpedoes, 6-pounder gun forward, twin 20mm Oerlikon aft and two twin .303 machine gun mountings.
The Fairmile D was a very large British MTB designed by Bill Holt and conceived by Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy. Nicknamed "Dog Boats", they were designed to combat the known advantages of the German E-boats over previous British coastal craft designs. Larger than earlier MTB or motor gun boat (MGB) designs, the Fairmile D was driven by four Packard 12-cylinder 1250 horsepower supercharged petrol engines and could achieve 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph) at full load. The boat carried 5,200 gallons of 100 octane fuel for a range, at maximum continuous speed, of 506 nautical miles. Armament varied according to role but could include four 18-inch or two 21-inch torpedoes, 6-pounder and 2-pounder guns, Oerlikons, multiple machine guns and depth charges.
These boats were designed by Hubert Scott-Paine for the Canadian Power Boat Company, and used by the Royal Canadian Navy 29th MTB Flotilla. Originally designed as motor gun boats (MGBs), carrying a 6-pounder (57mm, 2.24 inch) to engage enemy small craft, they were re-designated MTBs.
Scott-Paine type G 70 foot boat
After the end of World War II a number of Royal Navy vessels were stripped and sold for use as houseboats. These included MGBs as well as MTBs. Many of these were moored in Langstone Harbour, Littlehampton, Hayling Island and Wootton Creek, although most have now disappeared from these locations. More MTB houseboats can be found at Shoreham-by-Sea (West Sussex), Cobden Bridge (Southampton) and Bembridge (Isle of Wight).
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs were steam-powered craft dedicated to ramming enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes. Later evolutions launched variants of self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes.
A PT boat was a motor torpedo boat used by the United States Navy in World War II. It was small, fast, and inexpensive to build, valued for its maneuverability and speed but hampered at the beginning of the war by ineffective torpedoes, limited armament, and comparatively fragile construction that limited some of the variants to coastal waters. In the USN they were organized in Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons (MTBRONs).
E-boat was the Western Allies' designation for the fast attack craft of the Kriegsmarine during World War II; E-boat could refer to a patrol craft from an armed motorboat to a large Torpedoboot.
The motor gun boat (MGB) was a small, high-speed British military vessel of the Second World War, which was armed with a mix of guns, in contrast to the physically similar motor torpedo boat (MTB), whose main offensive weapon were torpedoes. The small size of the MGBs, and their high speed, made them difficult targets for German E-boats, though, like their opponents, they were limited by heavy weather, because they did not provide a stable-enough platform to aim the guns. The large number of guns meant the crew was relatively large, numbering as high as thirty men on the largest boats.
A fast attack craft (FAC) is a small, fast, agile and offensive warship armed with anti-ship missiles, gun or torpedoes. FACs are usually operated in close proximity to land as they lack both the seakeeping and all-round defensive capabilities to survive in blue water. The size of the vessel also limits the fuel, stores and water supplies. In size they are usually between 50–800 tonnes and can reach speeds of 25–50 knots.
Vosper & Company, often referred to simply as Vospers, was a British shipbuilding company based in Portsmouth, England.
HMS Artemis (P449) was an Amphion-class submarine of the Royal Navy, built by Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. of Greenock and launched 28 August 1946. The submarine sank while refueling in 1971, was raised and sold for breaking up in 1972.
The Brave-class fast patrol boats were a class of two gas turbine motor torpedo boats (MTBs) that were the last of their type for the Royal Navy (RN) Coastal Forces division. They formed the basis for a series of simpler boats which were widely built for export.
The Fairmile D motor torpedo boat was a type of British motor torpedo boat (MTB) and motor gunboat (MGB) designed by Bill Holt and conceived by Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy. Nicknamed "Dog Boats", they were designed to combat the known advantages of the German E-boats over previous British coastal craft designs. They were bigger than earlier MTB or motor gunboat (MGB) designs but slower, at 30 knots compared to 40 knots.
Coastal Forces was a division of the Royal Navy initially established during World War I, and then again in World War II under the command of Rear-Admiral, Coastal Forces. It remained active until the last minesweepers to wear the "HM Coastal Forces" cap tally were taken out of reserve in 1968. In 2020, 1st Patrol Boat Squadron was restructured as Coastal Forces Squadron encompassing the Archer-class patrol vessels and the Batch 1 River-class offshore patrol vessels and are responsible for UKEEZ Protection and Patrol.
Steam gun boats (SGBs) were small Royal Navy vessels built from 1940 to 1942 for Coastal Forces during the Second World War. The class consisted of nine steam-powered torpedo boats.
The Coastal Forces of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was a specialized naval force of well-armed, small and fast motor launch (ML) and motor torpedo boat (MTB) flotillas, primarily manned by members of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR). Tasked with escort, coastal defence, anti-submarine, minesweeping and search and rescue duties, the Coastal Forces of the RCN contributed to securing Allied sea lines of communication off the coasts of Canada and Britain during the Second World War.
The Vosper 73 foot Motor Torpedo Boat was a mid-twentieth century British motor torpedo boat (MTB) designed by Vospers that served in the Royal Navy Coastal Forces during the Second World War.
During the First World War, following a suggestion from three junior officers of the Harwich destroyer force that small motor boats carrying a torpedo might be capable of travelling over the protective minefields and attacking ships of the Imperial German Navy at anchor in their bases, the Admiralty gave tentative approval to the idea and, in the summer of 1915, produced a Staff Requirement requesting designs for a Coastal Motor Boat for service in the North Sea.
The Gay class were a class of twelve fast patrol boats that served with the Royal Navy from the early 1950s. All were named after types of soldiers or military or related figures, prefixed with 'Gay'. The class could be fitted as either motor gun boats or motor torpedo boats, depending on the type of armament they carried.
The Province-class fast attack craft, also known as the Dhofar class, is a British-built series of missile-armed fast attack craft for the Royal Navy of Oman.
The Canadian Fairmile B was a motor launch built during the Second World War for the Royal Canadian Navy. They were adaptations of the British Fairmile B motor launch design incorporating slight modifications for Canadian climatic and operational conditions. Eighty-eight were built in Canada for service with the Coastal Forces of the Royal Canadian Navy in home waters, of which eight were supplied to the United States Navy.
Harbor Boat Building Company was a shipbuilding company on Terminal Island in San Pedro, California. To support the World War II demand for ships General Engineering built: minesweepers, torpedo boats, submarine chasers, and air-sea rescue boats. In 1919 Romolo Rados founded Harbor Boat Building. After the war he renamed the company Harco Shipyard and built and sold a standard design motor boat. In 1959 he sold the company to LTV. The shipyard was closed and the company was sold again in 1971 to Omega-Alpha, Inc. The last ship built was in 1965 for the US Navy. The shipyard was located at 263 Wharf St, San Pedro.
South Coast Shipyard was a shipbuilding company in Newport, California. To support the World War II demand for ships South Coast Shipyard built: minesweepers, Torpedo Boats, Submarine chasers, & Air-sea rescue boats. South Coast Shipyard was opened in 1938 by Walton Hubbard. After World War II the shipyard continued to build ships for the US Navy till 1955. The shipyard was located at 2300 Newport Boulevard, Newport, California. The shipyard closed in 1963.
Splinter fleet or Splinter navy was a nickname given to the wooden boats used in World War II. The boats served in many different roles during the war. These boats were built in small boatyards on the West coast and East coast, Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. They could be built quickly, in just 60 to 120 days. Most of the boats were built by boatyards that already had the tools and knowledge from building yachts, sailboats and motor boats. Many were built by craftsmen in family-owned small businesses. Under the Emergency Shipbuilding Program and War Shipping Administration contracts went out to over fifty boatyards across the country. The boats were built for the US Navy, the, United States Army Air Forces, United States Coast Guard, and US Army. Some of the wooden boats went to Allied nations on the Lend-Lease program.
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