BPB Type Two 63 ft HSL, HSL 2550

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BPB Type Two 63 ft HSL, HSL 2550


Vehicle design:

The Type Two was designed in 1937 by George Selman, Chief Designer and Naval Architect of the British Power Boat Company, based at Hythe by Scott-Paine, who had reviously owned the Supermarine Aviation Company, of later spitfire fame. The vessel was designed to be fast, nimble and light, featuring a low-set cabin containing the wheel-house, chart room and a sickbay. For defence against enemy aircraft the vessels in this class were equpt with two aircraft-style turrets made by Armstrong-Whitworth initially with a single .303 in Vickers K gun or Lewis gun, which was allocated based on avalibility. This odd choice was due to these vessels being part of the RAF fleet, and as such they used RAF logistics in the aquisition of their armaments. The ships hull was composed of Mahogany, and like most ships of the period built of multple layers overlaping. to create a bouyant and strong hull.

The version I am suggesting today is the post Dieppe raid configuration, which found the Anti Aircraft armament of the class lacking as built so after august of 1942 select craft were modified to improve their survivablity. This refit involved the fitting of extra armament, including a pair of twim .303 mounts one mounted either side of the wheel-house, along with a single 20mm oerlikon to supliment the two .303 aircraft turrets originally fitted to the vessel. In addition to the added firepower, anti-shrapnel padding was also added around the forward cabin area.

Vehicle Service History:

The Type Two HSL was a 63 ft high-speed launch craft manufactured by British Power Boat Company (BPBC) for RAF service to retrive downed airmen. The craft in this class were used prolificaly during WW2 to preform air-sea rescue operations to save Allied aircrew from the sea. The type two superseded the 64ft HSL in this role, before in turn being replaced by the type three 68 ft “Hants and Dorset” also of BPBC manufacture. Due to its curved deck and humped cabin the type two became known as the whaleback due to its distinctive profile. This class of ships themselves exist for the logistical reason that during the second world war, the retrieval of pilots and aircrew who had been shot down over or ditched into the sea around the british isles were the responsibility of the RAF Marine Branch. This was done by coordination with RAF aircraft operated by the coastal command and royal navy, which would relay liferaft locations, to Rescue Launch stations. The type 2 entered service with RAF marine units in the middle of 1940, and 69 craft of this type woulld be manufactured between 1940 and 1942. After the war the majority of the type were transfered to the Royal Navy, though a small number were given to the Italian Air force. Most of these boats would then go on to be stored and sold off by the admiralty for use as civillian house boats, though unfortunately none of this class are currently owned by a museum or trust.

Vehicle specifications:


Displacement: 21.5 tons

Length: 63 ft

Beam: 17 and a 1⁄2 ft

Draught: 3 and a 3⁄4 ft

Propulsion: 3 × Napier Sea Lion each of 500 hp (373 kW)

Speed: 36 kn (67 km/h)

Range: 500 miles (800 km)

Complement: 9 (including captain and a medical orderly)

Armament: 2 × 0.303 machine guns in single turrets

2 × twin 0.303 machine guns

1 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

Additional images:

Due to historical images being rather rare for this class in its later configuration, i have affixed several pictures of the class modelled, to give a good impression of what it would have looked like in service:

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