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The Canadian Corvettes " Cheap but Nasties"!

Discussion in 'Surface and Air Forces' started by Spaniard, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Spaniard

    Spaniard Dishonorably Discharged

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    In WWII the Canadian Corvettes escorted Merchant Vessels ++ that were transporting supplies and troops from the Halifax harbour in Nova Scotia to London. The Corvette was based on a British design, which derived from a "whale catcher" Vessel. While they were small, cheap and could be quickly built in large numbers.

    The Canadian had two versions made, both being 62.5M= 209'. long, 10M=33' wide, a displacement of 950 tons, carried about a 70 man crew At 16 knots max, which was still good enough to catch the U-boats. The armament consisted of a 4-inch gun in front with a 2 pounder at the rear of the ship. Later they were refurnished with guns for anti-aircraft, including the 20mm Oerlikons.

    By August 1941, a large number of Corvettes were making their presence felt in the Battle of the Atlantic, so much so that U-boat commanders were said to be "boiling with rage" by the German press. Even though it was disliked by the Canadian officers, who wanted destroyers and cruisers, Even if they were excellent Ships, they tended to be very lively in the Rough and stormy North Atlantic. Winston Churchill paid Tribute by dubbing them "cheap but nasties". By the end of 1941 they're responsible for sinking 16 U-Boats by her guns and depth charges, at the cost of 10 Corvettes lost. In one encounter wounding and bring a U-Boat to the surface the Corvette rammed the U-Boat. However, due to it's cheap and hurried design problems began to Develop.

    In 1942 The Canadian Navy decided that a better Vessel was needed. The Corvettes were removed from the Atlantic to be re-equipped. Returned to the war in 1943 better equipped, though still cramped. Most now had Sonar AKA Asdic, better sea-keeping, and Radar. The "nasties" saw action in other theatres of WWII as also fighting in the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, While 19 were present during the Normandy D-Day, 54 Corvettes were outfitted as minesweepers, and some were Even used by the American Navy.

    By war’s end their place in the North Atlantic run had been replaced by Faster and larger destroyers as frigates. Following the Second World War most were discarded, some to the merchant fleet, others to foreign navies.

    The corvette remains the symbol of the Royal Canadian Navy's relentless fight against enemy U-Boats during WWII.


    [​IMG]
    Photo by Richard G. Arless. DND National Archives of Canada, PA-136925
    On 23 October 1944, four days after being commissioned in Kingston, revised Flower class corvette
    HMCS Belleville pays a visit to her namesake city. The RCN encourages such courtesy calls to foster
    patriotic feelings in the population.



    Juno Beach Centre - Corvettes

    Corvette - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  2. scrounger

    scrounger Member

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    Hello; My Dad was a signalman on the Corvette Summerside, I'll agree comfortable was something they were not!! Dad told me what it was like to be on convoy escort duty in the stormy North Atlantic, especially what it was like to be wet for 16 days. Also if you are in Halifax Nova Scotia anytime this summer be sure to visit the corvette Sackville on display at The museum of the Atlantic. She is the only World War Two corvette left in the world [​IMG]http://macsnavylinks.ca/corvettek-181.html
     

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  3. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    I'm cheap and nasty...We had the worlds 3rd largest navy at one time. Glory days.
     
  4. OSCSSW

    OSCSSW Member

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    I have visited HMCS Sackville a number of times and have nothing but the utmost respect for WWII Corvette crews.
    There really is nothing remarkable about the Corvettes themselves. They are just very utilitarian, austere convoy escorts
    that filled a very dire need . IMNSHO, their crews on the other hand, got far more out of the design than I would expect
    from "War Only" amateurs.

    I have served aboard Knox class FFs, Late OHP Class FFGs, two "end of life" FRAM 1 Gearing class DDs, an MSO and varius riverine and littoral gunboat types. I think I have a fairly good idea what life aboard a very small combatant in winter is like (not fun).


    ISA, I am in awe of such crews.


    I give them my highest acolade they truly were "Some Kind of sailormen!".
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Wasn't there an old 40's era movie made about a fictional corvette in the North Atlantic?
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    It was in fact 'The Cruel Sea' made in 1954. Now derided by some as too 'stiff upper lip' it is in fact a very good movie about the stresses of war ( in a similar vein to 'Twelve O'Clock High' ). Author Nicholas Monsarrat wrote several books based on his experiences on WWII Corvettes.

    The Cruel Sea (novel) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  7. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Good ships, But personally my self I'm a fan of the Aussie Bathurst class corvettes. Under developed and barely supported ship building industry went on to build 60 corvettes that went on to serve there roles well and even roles they were not intended for. Even in the construction phase if there was a problem they found a solution, For one instance in a Queensland shipyard, They couldn't get anything to grease the slipway so they actually went and used banana's.. For a nation that hadn't designed a ship before nor built very many I think we did a fair bloody job at it.

    Plus it was the Bathurst class corvette that scored the RAN there first Japanese submarine kill.
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    There was another one I believe. A Canadian movie possibly? There is one scene I remember, where in the middle of a fierce storm, the ship takes a nasty wave broadsides and in the rolling motion, the helmsman gets knocked off his feet and gets his neck snapped.
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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  10. OSCSSW

    OSCSSW Member

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    I remember catching about a half hour of a color Canadian corvette movie that appeared to have been made in
    the 80's or 90's. No doubt HMCS Sackville was used for many of the scenes I saw. It might have been "Lifeline to Victory"?

    You folks might find this vintage documentary/propaganda film of onterest Action Stations by Joris Ivens - NFB
     
  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The term "cheap but nasty" was coined by Churchill in a memo cited in The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his history/memoir of the war. He envisioned something smaller and more heavily armed, 500-600 tons, two 4" guns, 16-18 knot speed, etc. It never materialized although it was fairly similar to the existing Halcyon class minesweeper (side note, minesweepers were frequently used as escorts, the relatively spacious quarterdeck could accommodate depth charges as well as sweep gear). One of his suggested designations for it was "whaler".

    The Flowers were designed and the first ships ordered prior to Churchill's return to the Admiralty. Although they are often characterized as intended for coastal operations, the design was based on a commercial whale catcher, a type capable of long ocean voyages, even to the Antarctic, with fuel and support from a mother ship. So whether by foresight or fortuity, they were suitable for Atlantic operations.

    Corvettes were designed to be built by smaller, non-specialist yards so as to expand capacity rather than competing with regular warship construction. Many details of their construction and machinery (such as their piston engines) followed commercial rather than naval practice; they could be considered merchant ships that looked and functioned like warships. This also facilitated their construction in Canada, where there had been little naval shipbuilding to date; the rapid expansion of Canadian industry was a remarkable accomplishment.

    The terms sloop, corvette, and frigate dated back to sailing days, denoting ships of similar design but increasing size. When operating independently, they were sometimes referred to as cruisers, but at that time it denoted the mission rather than a specific ship type. In the late 1800s, corvettes and frigates were displaced by new steel and steam ships which came to be called simply cruisers. A few sloops hung on, useful for patrolling distant parts of the world. The Royal Navy built sailing sloops as late as the 1890s, with steam engines and modern guns but otherwise typical sailing ships (strictly speaking, usually barque rig). About a dozen were still in service in WWI, although by then their sailing rig had been removed and they looked like little gunboats. With the war, large numbers of new small craft were needed, about the same size and characteristics as the sloops, and they retained the name although they had no connection with sailing (incidentally the WWI sloops were the original Flower class). Sloops continued to be built in the interwar period, gradually becoming larger and more sophisticated, so the WWII Flower was a cheaper, mass-producable alternative. Corvette seemed a logical name for something similar to a sloop; it is sometimes credited to Churchill. A larger followon escort, roughly comparable to the American DE, was called a frigate, a term which remains in use today.
     
  12. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Thanks vitamin C, for the interesting info above. Nice bit of candy, easy to digest.
     
  13. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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  14. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Member

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    The OP mentioned 10 Corvettes were lost by the end of 1941. Anyone know how they were lost?

    Gaines
     
  15. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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  16. aurora7

    aurora7 recruit

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    I've just restarted my Corvette model project - Backdating a 1/72 Revell Matchbox/Revell Snowberry kit to a shore fo'csle HMCS Spikenard.

    The research has been an interesting journey in learning the difference between Canadian built and British built corvettes..

    At the time in 1940, the Corvettes were the ;largest ships ever built in Canadian shipyards.

    Got the bug for Corvettes when I took a cruise up the Saint Lawrence Seaway a few years back.

    Halifax was a stop but did not have time to see the Sackville :(

    Something else for WWII Bucket List.
     
  17. gusord

    gusord Member

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    The corvettes were known as the broncos of the North Atlantic. Corvette K-225 stars Randolph Scott as the commanding officer who gets revenge by
    sinking the U-boat that sunk his previous ship [ as particular markings on the conning tower].

    gusord
     

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